Monday, January 30, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, January 30, 2017

The Whole Duty of Mankind

The creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder, Shonda Rhimes, wrote, “There is no list of rules. There is one rule: there are no rules. “Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to.  As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.” This quote was from her book, Year of Yes, and was an instant New York Times bestseller. Another book entitled, “Looking Out For Number One” by Robert Ringer says, “Morality — the quality of right and wrong — is a very personal and private matter, thus no one possesses the right to decide what is right or wrong for you.”

Not attempting to castigate these gifted authors, I have pondered their quotes and have concluded that in spite of the popularity of the books and the ideas behind the quotes, they are consistent with our debunked mentality from the sixties.  We advocated, “If it feels good, do it”, “Do your own thing”, “Love the one you are with”, and “Turn on, tune in and drop out”.

However, those hedonistic viewpoints clash with the Bible. God said the whole duty of mankind was to fear Him and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).  Many find great success following their own stars and ignoring the commands of God.  But God says His way of obedience is best in the long run and if you put your trust in Him, you will attain your heart’s desires (Psalm 37:3, 4). Some people seem to be doing well selfishly pursuing their dreams without trusting in God for His direction or priorities. But, God wants to bring us to His expected end in Him (Jeremiah 29:11).  He wants to be our shepherd so that we will have no lack and will be with Him forever (Psalm 23:1, 6).

It is true that people are becoming rich or famous who are neither acknowledging nor giving credit to God for their success. However, let us fear, trust, and obey Him with our whole hearts and acknowledge Him in all of our ways and He will direct our pathways to a glorious end (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Ecclesiastes 12:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Psalm 37:3, 4 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

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.

Psalm 23:1, 6
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Proverbs 3:5-6
New International Version (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, January 23, 2017

Feeling Regret Over Bad Choices?

Tony Dorsett, a major superstar football player for the Dallas Cowboys, is in the fight of his life.  In a 2014 D Magazine, an article states that researchers have discovered he has signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain condition.  In another article, Dorsett stated, he had no idea "that the end was going to be like this." During the sixties, we first learned about the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer and we had not yet learned of the effects that marijuana could have on brain development. When marijuana users begin using as teenagers, the drug may reduce thinking, memory, and learning functions. While cynics may scoff that we should have known the risks, the question remains, do any of us really know the end results of our decisions?

While we were living our daily lives, many of us made decisions that in hindsight could have used more thought. We might have hung around with the wrong people, partied excessively, ate the wrong food, neglected to exercise, or refused to have periodic medical exams.  Now we find ourselves at the end of our lives and are filled with regret at making poor choices.

But lest we become saddened, the Bible strikes a very hopeful note.  God says that for those that turn to Him, He would restore the years to us that we have wasted (Joel 2:25-26).  In the past we may have made bad decisions, but God wants us to know that in turning to Him, He can bless our latter end (Isaiah 61:7).  We may never achieve the heights that we could have had but God wants us to know that He is in the loving restoration business. He forgives sins, heals diseases, redeems our lives and restores our youth (Psalm 103:2-5).

It is true there are no time machines for do-overs but we serve a God that can make it all right.  He says in spite of our bad decisions, our one good decision to serve Him will allow Him to bless us in the midst of calamity, calm us in the midst of our storms, and heal us in the midst of health challenges.  Do not be sad over past decisions, but let us look unto God who can do anything for us but fail.

Joel 2:25-26
New International Version (NIV)
25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.

Isaiah 61:7
New International Version (NIV)
7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

Psalm 103:2-5
New International Version (NIV)
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, January 17, 2017

Our God Still Rules America

We are about to inaugurate a new president and the world awaits the decisions that will be made, the policies that will be pursued, and the priorities that will be established.  It is very important to the world to know how the president-elect will administer his office since lives, public safety, our climate, our education, and even our income can be affected by what he does or does not do. 

What should those who love the Lord do for the next four years?  We should neither brag because our team won nor sulk because our team lost because God is the one that puts people in their leadership position (Psalm 75:6-7).  We must not worry about what they will or not do knowing that God has their heart in His all-powerful hands (Proverbs 21:1).  It pleases God when we pray for and honor all of those in authority because then we can live quiet and peaceful lives (1 Peter 2:17, 1 Timothy 2:1-3).  Moreover we are to give our leadership their respect and pray for our country because if our country prospers, those who love the Lord can prosper (Jeremiah 29:7).

We know there are some hard feelings that haven’t been assuaged by the non-stop rancor that dominates the news media.  As citizens, we have a right and responsibility to vigorously voice our opinions, protest unjust laws, write letters, or even run for office ourselves. But we who love the Lord must have the perspective that we can rise above the day to day back and forth and understand that while we give due respect to this world system, we are citizens of another kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:1).  We are going to place that will hold no elections, will need no pundits to explain the day’s news and will be glorifying our only God, our Saviour.  While others are worried, anxious, and unsettled, let us know that our God wants us to continue to look to Him who has an eternal home waiting for those who love Him.

Psalm 75:6-7
New International Version (NIV)
No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

Proverbs 21:1
New International Version (NIV)
In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him

1 Peter 2:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

1 Timothy 2:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—
2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

Jeremiah 29:7
New International Version (NIV)
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

2 Corinthians 5:1
New International Version (NIV)
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, January 9, 2017

Afraid Of The End?

Peter Turchin, a professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, predicts that the end of the world is near.  He uses historical and mathematical modeling to predict events and is well respected in his field.  In a recent article in Phys.Org, he described that because of increasing social unrest from “wealth inequality, stagnating well-being, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction,” America could risk implosion within the decade.

We have heard predictions of the world or societies ending before. Some have sound scientific theories and others have been quite far fetched. Regardless of the theory or evidence, we can thank God that He will protect those who love Him (John 17:15-16).

At some point, each of our lives will be over but we do not need to live in fear. While God’s children may see the destruction that is coming upon the earth, the Bible says that it will not hurt them (Psalm 91:5-8).  The Bible also says because His children love him, He will rescue and protect them (Psalm 91:14).

While some will see physical death, Jesus promised that we would live with Him eternally (John 14:1-3).  Because of current trends, the professor’s arguments about our society collapsing may be 
convincing. But we know from God’s word that in spite of any personal, societal or global destruction that may be coming, He will never leave us and He will not give up on us (Hebrews 13:5).  We can be comforted in His promises.

John 17:15-16
New International Version (NIV)
15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

Psalm 91:5-8
New International Version (NIV)
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked

Psalm 91:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

John 14:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
2 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? 
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am

Hebrews 13:5
New International Version (NIV)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, January 3, 2017

It's a New Day in 2017! 

Hallelujah. Cause it's a new season, it's a new day yeah. His fresh anointing I can feel it, it's flowing my way. It's a season of power and prosperity. Yes it is. It's a new season and it's coming to me. These are the lyrics to “It’s a New Season” by Martha Munizzi, the Christian singer.  This is great news! We made it to 2017 in spite of last year’s disunity in the political realm, numerous celebrity deaths, and worldwide terrorist activities. Like Aretha Franklin, we can sing, How I got over, how I got over, my soul look back and wonder how I got over.

When we read the word of God, we know that we are in a new season because God brought us through (Colossians 1:13).  It wasn’t our charisma, connections, or calculations.  Christ wants us to know that with Him, old things, old ways, old techniques are passed away and all things are new (Lamentations 3:22-23, 2 Corinthians 5:17).  We can lament the past of what we could have, should have, or would have done or we can say that I have a bright new outlook on life because God is in control.

Our new year is pregnant with possibilities.  Dr. Seuss wrote, Oh, the Places You'll Go!  Yes, with God on our side, we can do all things this year unfettered by regrets, sad remembrances, or recycling our failures.  This year, we can do all things through Christ, which strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).  Let us look to Him and do great things in Him in 2017.

Colossians 1:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

Lamentations 3:22-23
New International Version (NIV)
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

2 Corinthians 5:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

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