Monday, November 28, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, November 28, 2016

There Is No Try, We Will Serve God

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” This iconic quote by the character named Yoda from the 1980 movie, The Empire Strikes Back means that one should make a complete commitment to one’s endeavors win or lose.  Vince Lombardi, the great football coach, said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” How many times have we started something, but got distracted, bored, or just tired of an activity and quit? We may have disappointed others or even ourselves, but we decided that we should not have even bothered. If someone else was upset because of our lack of commitment, we considered it their problem.

In the book of Luke, when Jesus asked for people to follow Him, He received excuses for why they could not make a commitment.  He concluded that no one who puts his or her hand to the plow and looks back is worthy of His kingdom (Luke 9:62).  God is looking for someone who is committed to looking to Him and not swerving away from God’s commands (Psalm 119:10).  He is looking for those who are steadfast in Him and rejecting all evil ways (Proverbs 4:26-27).

While many are refusing to commit to anything, let us make the decision that we will follow Christ in spite of the temptations of the world to choose our own pathway. God will give us all the strength, the direction, and the purpose that we need.  There is no try or wavering with Christ. We can do everything that we need to do through Christ who gives us the strength (Philippians 4:13). 

Luke 9:62
New International Version (NIV)
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Psalm 119:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands

Proverbs 4:26-27
New International Version (NIV)
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Philippians 4:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, November 21, 2016

Free To Choose To Serve God

Rene Descartes, called the father of modern western philosophy, wrote the 1641 Meditations on First Philosophy. He postulated a theme of an “evil genius” who was “a personification who is "as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me.  Similarly, The Adjustment Bureau is a 2011 film that tells the story of a young man who finds out that what appear to be chance events in his life are actually master plans controlled by a technologically advanced intelligence network under the direction of a mysterious chairman. For those of us who believe in free will, it is disconcerting to think that perhaps one’s choices may be simply a setup by a remote controller who is actually in charge of one’s life.

However, the Bible says there is an organization, which wants to dominate, determine, but ultimately destroy our life and that is the evil one and his hordes (Ephesians 2:1-3).  The book of Ephesians goes on to explain that when we have conflicts with other people, it is not really them with who we have problems.  It is the powers, rulers, and spiritual wickedness in high places that really are behind all of the conflicts we may have (Ephesians 6:12).  The Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion going about seeking whom he can destroy (1 Peter 5:8).

In spite of the evil one’s attempts to control and then destroy us, we can thank God that through Him, we are be able to resist the evil’s one’s power and serve the true and living God.  Our God wants us free to choose to serve Him while the demonic forces want us to be slaves of the devil.  We can thank God that Jesus has set us free (John 8:36). Now we are free to choose to serve God (Joshua 24:15).  We are free to choose life. We are free to choose to receive His blessings, His healings, and His deliverance. In fact, God gives us everything that relates to life (2 Peter 1:3).  Thank God that He gives us the choice to serve Him and be blessed.

Ephesians 2:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts…

Ephesians 6:12
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.

1 Peter 5:8
New International Version (NIV)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

John 8:36
New International Version (NIV)
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Joshua 24:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

2 Peter 1:3
New International Version (NIV)
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, November 14, 2016

God Wants To Bless You Right Now

In William Shakespeare’s play, “Julius Caesar”, the character Brutus declares, “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224.  In other words now is the time for action. We must not wait until we feel better, the stars get aligned or until the cows come home. 

Our God is a right now God.   He says that right now is the time of His favor and His salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).  We cannot procrastinate obeying Him and hope things will work out in the future.  God wants us to hear His voice now and not ignore Him for a more convenient time when we decide to make room for Him (Hebrews 3:15). He wants us to have faith in Him right now and do what He wants us to do while we have the opportunity (John 9:4). 

Perhaps we had faith in the past and perhaps we will have it in the future, but the Bible says that now faith is so important to Him (Hebrews 11:1).  God is an on time God, but when we miss our opportunity to do His will it could be disastrous. The children of Israel found this out when they did not realize when He was visiting them to pardon them (Luke 1:68).  Sadly, Josephus, the historian, writes Jerusalem was laid to the ground by their enemy (Luke 19:44).

What has God told you to do right now?  Not tomorrow or next week, but what does He want you to do now? He wants to bless us, but He will not operate in our behalf unless we cooperate.  We can ride God’s tide and receive our fortune or we can meander hopelessly having missed our current God-given opportunities.  Thank God for the sweet by and by, but now when He gives us direction, let us obey Him swiftly and we will be blessed.

2 Corinthians 6:2
New International Version (NIV)
2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Hebrews 3:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

John 9:4
New International Version (NIV)
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work

Hebrews 11:1
New International Version (NIV)
11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Luke 1:68
New International Version (NIV)
68 "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.

Luke 19:44
New International Version (NIV)
44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pastor's Ponderings, November 7, 2016

God Has Not Forgotten You

The Israel Houghton song Not Forgotten has the powerful lyrics, “I am not forgotten, God knows my name.” The song goes on to say, “Father to the fatherless, Friend to the friendless, Hope for the hopeless, He knows my name.”  No matter what we have done or no matter how we feel about our life, God is still thinking about us.  It does not matter that our doctors, lawyers, bankers, employers, spouses, friends, or relatives have forgotten us. He still remembers us (Jeremiah 29:11). 

We may feel cast aside and forced to live meaningless lives until we leave this earth with no one to remember us. But, God said that He would not forget us and He has engraved us on His palms (Isaiah 49:14-16).  Even though we may knowingly commit sins or even question if there is a God, Jesus showed that He was still in our corner when He died for us (Romans 5:8). He has even prepared a mansion for those who love Him (John 14:2).   He is like the mother hen, seeing the coming storm, clucks for her chicks to come near so that she can cover them with her feathers (Luke 13:34).  

In spite of the hustle and bustle of life and its many demands, we should take time to remember God who remembers us.  We can rest in that blessed assurance that the same God that created the universe is the same God that has you on His mind and wants the best for His children. He is eternally our Father, our friend, and our blessed hope.

Jeremiah 29:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Isaiah 49:14-16
New International Version (NIV)
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Romans 5:8
New International Version (NIV)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 14:2
New International Version (NIV)
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Luke 13:34
New International Version (NIV)
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.