Monday, August 29, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, August 29, 2016

Our Father Loves His Children

A CNN July 2016 article reported that a young Yelp executive died after accidentally falling into the Grand Canyon.  I know this accident was exceedingly painful for her parents. This mishap was awful on so many levels not least of which is that I have three grown daughters and can sympathize. As parents, we invest our time, resources, and hearts in our offspring and want the very best for them.  It would be horrific for us to know that our progeny will not have the best opportunities, a long and productive life and to be happy.

Just like earthly fathers, Our Father in heaven wants the best for us.  He does not want us to get hurt, to be in pain, or to suffer loss.  In fact, He says that He wants us most of all to accomplish goals and to be healthy (3 John 1:2).  He wants to take care of His children (Matthew 7:9-11 and to give them whatever they need (Philippians 4:19).  In addition, He goes further than earthly fathers in that He does not want any of His children to perish in hell but wants all of them to be with Him eternally (2 Peter 3:9).

All over the world, parents are in agony seeing their children suffering from malnutrition, war, poverty, violence and hatred. Although we do not know why there is so much suffering and seemingly unnecessary loss, we should remember that he loved
His earthly children so much that He gave His only Son to save this world.  Let us remember to focus on His love for us and love and pray for all of God’s children of any age.

3 John 1:2
New International Version (NIV)
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Matthew 7:9-11
Amplified Bible (AMP)
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will [instead] give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will [instead] give him a snake?
11 If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him.

Philippians 4:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 3:9
New International Version (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, August 22, 2016

Going For the Gold

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio have ended and we witnessed the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The Huffington Post August 21, 2016 issue featured Great Britain’s Lutalo Muhammad, who lost the gold medal in taekwondo. He cried, “I’m so distraught to be on the losing end here…I have to wait four years for another chance.” He broke into tears before he could finish the sentence. This was an agonizing interview. It was obvious that he had sacrificed, pushed himself to the limit, willed himself not to give up, but then to his dismay only got the silver medal.  That same story could be told countless time when people set lofty goals in their lives, struggle to accomplish them and ultimately fail. 

It is sad to know that there can only be one winner for these temporary goals (1 Corinthians 9:24). Nevertheless, there is another much more important struggle that we can fight and win (1 Corinthians 9:25).  We are not fighting against other human contestants, but we are fighting against powerful demonic spirits who are fighting to the death (Ephesians 6:12, 13).  Thank God He gives us mighty weapons in our struggle to defeat any spirit who opposes God (2 Corinthians 10:4).  We can pray, we can quote the Bible, and we can command devils in the Name of Jesus.

Our struggle has eternal implications, but God says that since we have Him on our side, we will always win (Romans 8:31).  We will not come in second place.  Instead, we will always be victorious in our struggle and end up with the gold (Job 23:10).  The 2016 Rio Olympics has ended, but remember that our battle goes on and we must continue to fight the winning fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).  We win!!

1 Corinthians 9:24-25
New International Version (NIV)
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Ephesians 6:12, 13
New International Version (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

2 Corinthians 10:4
New International Version (NIV)
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Romans 8:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Job 23:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

1 Timothy 6:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, August 15, 2016

“Coming Clean” Before God

As one who grew up awed by the Russian dominance of sports, I was sad to find out that much of that preeminence came from illegal performance enhancing drugs. The August 8, 2016, New York Times had an article entitled, The Soviet Doping Plan: Document Reveals Illicit Approach to ’84 Olympics.  Dr. Sergei Portugalov, a Soviet sports doctor, testified, “By the 1970s, he said, most of the several hundred athletes with whom he worked were asking about performance-enhancing drugs...” It is quite shocking to know that Ivan Drago, the Russian Soviet boxer in Rocky IV, was probably juiced up with steroids too.

But the Bible states that if you do bad things, you will get bad results (Galatians 6:7).  One cannot expect to do negative things and not expect someone will stumble upon them eventually (Luke 8:17). The Lord wants us to endeavor to refrain from doing the things that will bring us shame if exposed (James 1:27).  We are to not let evil deeds fall onto our to do list.  We must make the effort to resist the temptation to do like others who seem to be getting away with bad things because God said they would be soon caught (Numbers 32:23, Psalm 37:1-2).

Our Father has a solution for all who are caught up in evil behavior.  God says that if we confess our sins, He will forgive us and cleanse any behavior that prevents us from being like Him (1 John 1:9).  Do not wait to be exposed.  Go to God and ask Him to deliver you from whatever it is that is not like Him.  He wants us to be like Him, to get all of His blessings, to have a direct relationship with Him, and to be at peace with Him.  Don’t be like the Russians who were embarrassed on a national stage.  Let Him make us day by day to be more like Him.

Galatians 6:7
New International Version (NIV)
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Luke 8:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

James 1:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Numbers 32:23
New International Version (NIV)
23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.

Psalm 37:1-2
New International Version (NIV)
Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

1 John 1:9
New International Version (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, August 8, 2016

Where Will You Spend Eternity?

Every year, many families plan for their periodic family reunions.  Our family has been meeting annually since 1948 and we are eagerly looking forward to exchanging memories, eating delicious food, and just enjoying the company of people that we have had a close loving relationship all of our lives.  Currently, we are meeting to work out all of the logistical details to ensure there are no snafus that would prevent another great family reunion.

Sometime in the future, we are all going to have a reunion in eternity.  Are we spending enough time planning on where we will live?  While it is very important to have success on the earth in these few years, we must be certain that we are prepared to spend a peaceful eternity rather than one fraught with pain, torture, and torment (Matthew 13:41-42).  Many may disagree whether or not there is an afterlife or if one will be held accountable for their earthly deeds, but we read in our Bible that we will all be judged and those who love the Lord will be rewarded (2 Corinthians 5:10).

God does not want any of us to perish, but wants all of us to be with Him (2 Peter 3:9, Revelation 21:4). We would all want to hear Him say, “Well done” (Matthew 25:34) rather than “Depart from me” (Matthew 25:41).  So let’s prepare, plan and make it a top priority to do whatever God has told us to do, when He told us to do it and how He told us to do it so that we can spend a blessed eternity with Him.

Matthew 13:41-42
Amplified Bible (AMP)
41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend [those things by which people are led into sin], and all who practice evil [leading others into sin],
42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger].

2 Corinthians 5:10
Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].

2 Peter 3:9
Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Revelation 21:4
Amplified Bible (AMP)
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.”

Matthew 25:34, 41
Amplified Bible (AMP)
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
41 “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Leave Me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons);