Monday, June 26, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, June 26, 2017

All You Need Is Love

"Easy to Be Hard" is a song from the rock musical Hair and was written by Galt MacDermot, James Rado, and Gerome Ragni in 1968.  Part of the lyrics were, “How can people be so heartless, how can people be so cruel? Easy to be hard; easy to be cold. How can people have no feelings, how can they ignore their friends? Easy to be proud; easy to say no.”  Those lyrics hearken back to the sixties where many of us believed that we could change the world to something better.  With the current conversations on refugees, minority killings, healthcare losses, and increasing income disparity, one has to wonder how can civilized people be so indifferent to the plight of their brethren?

Thank God this is only a temporary situation because the God that is in charge of everything is love (1 John 4:8).  We do not have to be afraid of life’s challenges because His perfect love gets rid of all fear (1 John 4:18).  We then can understand His command to love our enemies, because love comes from God (1 John 4:7).  His awesome love makes up for sin because it covers them (1 Peter 4:8). It would be easy to hate those who have wronged you, but God has a simple formula, simply love them so that you can have a relationship with Him (Matthew 5:44, 45).

This appears very simplistic, na├»ve, and seemingly invites disaster.  Can you imagine loving someone who is unlovable, unlikeable or even dangerous?  If it was easy, any of us could do it.  We cannot love in our own strength.  We must obey God and have faith in Him to truly love like He wants us to.  Even our faith works by love (Galatians 5:6).  Let us not respond to life’s challenges with negative thoughts. Let us allow God’s love to work through us.

1 John 4:7, 8
New International Version (NIV)
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 Peter 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Matthew 5:44, 45
New International Version (NIV)
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Galatians 5:6
Amplified Bible (AMP)
6 For [if we are] in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but only faith activated and expressed and working through love.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, June 19, 2017

Whose Message Will You Believe?

Forrest Stroud defines fake news in Webopedia, as “false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news. Fake news websites and channels push their fake news content in an attempt to mislead consumers of the content and spread misinformation via social networks and word-of-mouth.” We have a world that seems to be committed to leading others astray.

The Bible speaks of people deceitfully scheming to manipulate others (Ephesians 4:14).  Why?  Because they want to use, abuse, and misuse others for their own selfish gain (2 Peter 2:3). Evil people may extol the joy of life on the streets by convincing unaware people so that they can fleece or trick victims with get rich schemes or extorting them for their cash (Proverbs 1:10). Even some preachers have been guilty of this! Others may persuade people with white collar plots to lie, cheat, or embezzle with the rationale “everybody does it”. The devil wants to take you captive with his lies and deceit. Only knowledge of the truth will help to escape the devil’s captivity and set you free (2 Timothy 2:25-26, John 8:32).   

Fake news seems very real, but we are going to have to seek God’s wisdom for knowing how to distinguish the real from the fake.  The devil says you will always be sick, cursed, and broke. We have to believe God’s real news that we are healed, prosperous and blessed in every way (3 John 2). God wants us to decide to believe what His word. He asks who will believe His message (Isaiah 53:1). Let us decide that we will believe what God says about us and about our future. Let us believe God’s message.

Ephesians 4:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

2 Peter 2:3

New International Version (NIV)
3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Proverbs 1:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.

2 Timothy 2:25-26
New International Version (NIV)
25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

John 8:32
New International Version (NIV)
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

3 John 2
New International Version (NIV)
2 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.

Isaiah 53:1
New International Version (NIV)
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, June 12, 2017

Got A Virus Attack? No Problem

Ed Bott from the Ed Bott Report wrote in April 15, 2012, that there were over seventeen million distinct strains of malware in circulation.   This is a malicious software program that has a detrimental effect such as corrupting your system or destroying data. No doubt in 2017 that number has significantly increased.  Recently, when my anti-virus program had some glitches, I called the company and the technician matter-of-factly indicated that they had their best people working on it. Needless to say, I am thankful for a backup computer because it is too dangerous to use without functional anti-virus software.

Thank God we do not need an anti-virus program to protect us from life’s attacks.  The Bible says that no weapon that is formed against those who love Him will be successful (Isaiah 54:17). God even provides His special angelic emissaries to keep charge over us wherever we go to protect us from evil in life (Psalm 91:10, 11).  Many times we have felt besieged by life when things did not go well.  We must remember that our God is dealing with every positive or negative thing in our life.  He even works with those painful, horrible, and downright annoying things for our good (Romans 8:28).

Computer programmers can design viruses to steal your information, wipe out your bank accounts, and destroy your computer.  This sounds just like the purposes of the devil that comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  However, we do not have to be afraid of the terror by night, flying projectiles by day, diseases in the darkness or plagues in the day (Psalm 91:5, 6).  This is not to say that bad things will not happen to you, but even when we go through bad and deadly places, we won’t have to fear any evil because God will be with us (Psalm 23:4).

This week, let us be confident about God’s divine protection when life challenges us.  Be assured that since the whole world is established on His word, we can rest knowing that in the background He is dealing with the seen and unseen viruses in our life (Hebrews 11:3).  With God our protection is powerful and complete.

Isaiah 54:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.   This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.

Psalm 91:10, 11
New International Version (NIV)
10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Romans 8:28
New International Version (NIV)
28 and we know that is all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

John 10:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Psalm 91:5, 6
New International Version (NIV)
5 You will not fear the terror night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Psalm 23:4
New International Version (NIV)
4 Even though I walk through the darkness valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Hebrews 11:3
New International Version (NIV)
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, June 5, 2017

We Have Eternal Salvation With Jesus

Antonia Blumberg reported in the Huffington Post on June 2, 2017 an encounter that president-elect Donald Trump had with two mainline Protestant preachers. He indicated to them that he had done very well in the election with the evangelicals whereupon they replied that neither one of them was an evangelical. To which the president-elect reportedly asked: “Well, what are you then?”

What are you then?  According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, there are over 33,000 denominations in the world. Which is the right one?  Neal Talmadge asked in La Voz Eterna, Julio-Agosto , “If Christianity was a crime in America, and you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  In spite of all of the denominations and clashing opinions about which of them is the right one, the Bible says that God would lead and guide you, and He would be a clear light for us (Psalm 119:105). In fact His word would speak to us as we make our choices in life (Isaiah 30:21).

God does not want us worried about our eternal salvation while slick hucksters are giving us convincing arguments that their way is the only way to God (Ephesians 4:14).  The Bible simply says when you hear His word and believe the God that sent Jesus; you will have eternal life (John 5:24).  With this in mind, we always like to end our conversations knowing that our hearers have confessed with their mouths and believed in their hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead. Therefore, dear reader, the simple way of salvation is confessing and repenting of sin, and accepting Jesus as Lord as found in Romans 10:9-10.

(If you have not done this in your life, now would be a good time to pray. Father, in the Name of Jesus, I repent of my sins knowing you will forgive my sins.  I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead and I call you Lord.)

Let us not allow our friends, neighbors, opinion leaders, or even ourselves permission to shake our faith in God’s word.  Despite hundreds of years of arguments about denominations, the simplicity of salvation means that even a foolish person will not make a mistake about being with God throughout eternity (Isaiah 35:8).  When we made Him our Lord, we can be confident that He who has begun a good work in our life is able to carry it to completion and bring us safely into eternity (Philippians 1:4-6).

Psalm 119:105
New International Version (NIV)
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Isaiah 30:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Ephesians 4:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

John 5:24
New International Version (NIV)
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Romans 10:9-10
New International Version (NIV)
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Isaiah 35:8
King James Version (KJV)
8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

Philippians 1:4-6
New International Version (NIV)
4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.