Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, May 31, 2016

In Spite Of Bad Germs, Our Safety Is In Jesus

In a recent article in the Huffington Post, the writers warned that a mutant strain of E. coli, resistant to even the toughest antibiotics, has been discovered and their fear was that a gene called “mcr-1” could spread to other bacteria and make them indestructible to any known antibiotics.   As if that were not enough, “Contained,” a limited series TV show about a city trying to contain a virus outbreak, debuted in May 2016.  It seems that we cannot get away from reports of that terror even in our entertainment.

But Jesus, in the Bible, tells us not to let reports of scary things trouble us (John 14:27).  He tells us further, that we are not to be afraid of the night terrors, daily weapons, various diseases, or sundry disasters (Psalm 91:5-7).  This does not mean that we can foolishly go into danger, disease, or destruction, but we have His blessed assurance that He will be with us.

In spite of challenges around us, they will not reach their goal because of His presence (Isaiah 43:2). He goes on to say that He would rescue us, protect, cover and shelter us (Psalm 91:3, 4).  We thank God for our awesome health system, but we can look to Him for our protection (2 Chronicles 20:12)

We know that the media has a responsibility to report all of the facts that may impact us, but we can focus on the higher truth.  In spite of the superbugs, the biological terrorists, or accidental disasters, we can simply be confident in our Saviour that holds us, keeps us, and safeguards us.  

John 14:27
New Living Translation (NLT)
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Psalm 91:3-7
New Living Translation (NLT)
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.

Isaiah 43:2
New Living Translation (NLT)
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

2 Chronicles 20:12
New Living Translation (NLT)
12 O our God, won't you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Let Us Get Up and Dance Before God

Benjamin Dude wrote a song called “When I Think About Jesus.”  Part of the lyrics were “When I think about Jesus, what he’s done for me. When I think about Jesus, How he set me free, I can dance/clap/jump all night, all night, all night.” Whenever we carefully go back over what God has done for us, we should cry out in appreciation and thanks for all that He has done, is doing, and will do for us.  Perhaps you cannot dance, like the author of this blog, but you still can show your appreciation for what He has done in your life.

The Psalmist wrote in the book of Psalms, I know that God is for me (Psalm 56:9). David was a man that went after God's heart and then danced with all his might before God (2 Samuel 6:14).  He knew that if God was for him, who could possibly successfully be against him (Romans 8:31).

Let us look at what God has done for us. If you can read this blog, you probably have access to food, water, shelter and electricity. You are blessed. Did you know that God meticulously cares for the birds and the plants (Luke 12:28)? If he cares for them he definitely cares for us who love him. He loved us so much that He even predestined us to be just like Him (Romans 8:29-30).

We can be thrilled knowing that we have a familial relationship with the Almighty source of life and can call Him Father (Romans 8:15).  If that is not enough to make you cut a step, lift up your hands, or give Him an enthusiastic "thank you”, you haven't been paying attention.  Let us honor, love, and obey our God.  Let’s get up and dance!

Psalm 56:9
King James Version (KJV)
When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.

2 Samuel 6:14
New Living Translation (NLT)
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment.

Romans 8:31
New Living Translation (NLT)
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Luke 12:28
New Living Translation (NLT)
28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

Romans 8:29-30
New Living Translation (NLT)
29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Romans 8:15
New Living Translation (NLT)
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, May 16, 2016

Speak Healing Words to a Hurting World

Don Henley wrote a song in 1982 called “Dirty Laundry”.  Part of the lyrics were “Kick 'em when they're up, Kick 'em when they're down, Kick 'em when they're up, Kick 'em all around.”  These words shed light on the corporate media and other news outlets that demand new scandals, political firestorms, and fresh news of a voyeuristic interest.  Controversial media discussions lead to private conversations that may engender personal conflicts, unsubstantiated gossip, and slander. But interest in other people’s lives is nothing new.

On May 22, 1856, in the United States Congress, Representative Preston Brooks attacked and nearly killed Senator Charles Sumner with a walking cane merely because of a speech. Presidents have been accused of fathering children out of wedlock, including Warren Harding, Thomas Jefferson, and John Tyler among others.  Vice President Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804 due to long standing conflicts. People have been gossiping, slandering, and tearing down others since forever, but the Bible says that God hates it (Proverbs 6:16, 19 and there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

When we hear people disparaging others, we must agree with Robert Estabrook who wrote that we can “disagree without being disagreeable.” God wants our words to be precious like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Proverbs 25:11).  Our words should not engender conflict, or be hateful, or be dismissive of others, but we should rather speak wise words from our heart that encourages others (Colossians 4:6).

We are the light of the world; we can pray for healing in sick situations, and we can ask God for wisdom in a world that is crying in darkness, distress, and disappointment. We can speak peace in tumultuous situations (Psalms 85:8).  Let us speak healing words in places full of pain, conflict, and horror.

Ecclesiastes 1:9
New International Version (NIV)
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.

Proverbs 6:16, 19
New International Version (NIV)
16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 25:11
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at the right time.

Colossians 4:6
Amplified Bible (AMP)
6 Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you].

Psalms 85:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants-- but let them not turn to folly

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, May 9, 2016

Celebrate The New Season In Your Life

During the first weekend of May 2016, my eldest grandson graduated from college!  On the day before the graduation, a dear family friend retired after 44 years in education.  However, I remember, as if it was yesterday, eagerly looking forward to kindergarten. Now with college graduates and retirements around me, truly I am in a new season in my life. Israel Houghton put things in perspective when he sang, It's a new season, it's a new day. A fresh anointing is flowing my way. It's a season of power and prosperity. It's a new season coming to me.

In the Bible the writer, in the book of Ecclesiastes, wrote that there was a time and a season for all things (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  Some seasons or activities are over for us and we must make the effort to put aside regret about what did or did not happen.  Rather than cry over missed opportunities, failed relationships, or paths not taken, we should know that God has a divinely set time for everything in our lives. A writer once wrote, “Trust Me, I never Lose; I either win or learn!” We should focus on what comes next and struggle to be successful in our new season learning from the mistakes of the past (Philippians 3:13-14). 

The Bible instructs us to make full use of the time period that we have been given (Ephesians 5:15, 16).   We should find out what God wants us to do in this time and avoid disobeying Him (Ephesians 5:17).  Today is a brand new time in our lives. We have the privilege of beginning anew to live a fresh new phase while pleasing our God who holds our times and seasons in His loving hands.  Let us celebrate our new season.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
New International Version (NIV)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Philippians 3:13-14
New International Version (NIV)
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 5:15-17
Amplified Bible (AMP)
15 Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people],
16 making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, May 2, 2016

Think On the Good Things.

In a recent April 2016 Huffington Post issue, an article caught my attention.   The article was titled Detroit All-Girls Team Wins Top Prize At Prestigious Chess Tournament. This is Detroit, the former murder capital of the world, a dubious honor that has been recently given to East St. Louis, IL.  These young ladies winning the national prize in chess is such a powerful statement about the gifts that our youth bring to the table. 

While this team has received many accolades, news of crime, drugs, poverty, terror and general mayhem still dominate our news. Because of what we constantly hear and see in the media, our thoughts tend to be dominated by that negative press.  In fact, the phase “If it bleeds, it leads” was hosted by New York Magazine in the 1989 article titled "Grins, Gore, and Videotape - The Trouble with Local TV News" by Eric Pooley.

The Bible says that as a man thinks in his heart, that is who he is (Proverbs 23:7).  God would much rather we think about the positive things in life; the true things, the things that are just, pure, lovely and excellent (Philippians 4:8).  He does not want us to focus on bad things (Psalm 101:3a).  In fact He commands us to think on the good things.

We hear about man’s inhumanity to man and the insensitive acts that demean others and attack their humanity.  While we should make ourselves aware of the news, we should seek to find the things that are worthy of praise.  Let’s focus on the good things that God has created and say, “This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

What has your neighbor done that is worthwhile? What have you done that makes you happy?  Who can you compliment or make feel good today?  Let us focus on the positive aspects of life.

Proverbs 23:7
New King James Version (NKJV)
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you

Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Psalm 101:3a
New International Version (NIV)
I will not look with approval on anything that is vile…

Psalm 118:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.