Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, December 26, 2018

Let Us Obey God With Excellence

Over the past few weeks, my wife and I were blessed to witness a couple of outstanding Christmas performances. We saw Handel’s Messiah at the University of Michigan and the Glory of Christmas at Northridge church. We marveled at the artists who had perfected their craft and performed with excellence.  It was obvious that they had spent hours practicing and they seemed to perform effortlessly.

Have you ever stopped to think about your own life? The life that we lead is also a performance. Not for people, but for God. He is observing who we really are and what we are doing with our talents, time, and treasure. Just as we expect artists to perform with excellence, God also expects excellence from his children.  A good example in the Bible was the prophet Daniel whom received a promotion from the king over his entire kingdom because of his excellent qualities (Daniel 6:3). 

The Bible says that we can do everything that God expects us to do and He gives us the strength to accomplish it (Philippians 4:13). He says that in spite of the temptations of the world, He would always give us a way to escape sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even when we begin to doubt ourselves, we can remember that we are victors because He lives in us (1 John 4:4).

As we head into the New Year, our God expects us to allow Him to live in us, move in us and be our God (2 Corinthians 6:16).  He is not looking for excuses, poor performances, half steps, rationalizing, or just trying to get by.  He expects us to grow to become the mature body of Him who is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 4:15).  We are to do our work for God and not just for people (Colossians 3:23). He is not coming back after a body of believers that are procrastinating, blaming others or saying that they will be obedient when they get around to it, perhaps next year and perhaps never.

If actors, athletes, academics, and artists can perform their work so that the world is amazed, we in the body of Christ should come up to His standard because we are to be just like Christ in this world (1 John 4:17).  This year, let us make Him pleased with our work. Let us endeavor to be more disciplined in His word, let us practice kindness and consideration for others, and let us stay in His presence by praying and saying His word in our hearts. This coming year, let us perform with excellence in everything that God has given us to do.

Daniel 6:3
New International Version (NIV)
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom

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

1 Corinthians 10:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 John 4:4
New International Version (NIV)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

2 Corinthians 6:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ephesians 4:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Colossians 3:23 
New Living Translation (NLT)
23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

1 John 4:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, December 17, 2018

We are blessed to have a guest author for this weeks Pastor’s Ponderings, Dr. Malika Fair.

Giving Up Vs. Giving It Over

Life can get stressful and often times we feel like giving up. We want to give up on that colleague that continues to undermine us at work...that boss that doesn’t seem to recognize our accomplishments...the relationship with a family member or friend that seems impossible to repair. We feel like giving up on ever being ahead in our finances, ever being well in our mind or bodies, or ever experiencing romantic love. We feel like we can’t help but give up on our children for refusing to listen to wise counsel, our spouse for mistreating us, or society for making us feel invisible. The list can go on and on, but we have an alternative to giving up, we can give it over.

The Bible says that we are to cast our cares upon God for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He says that we will have troubles in this world, but we are to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). God will give us strength when we are too tired to go on (Isaiah 40:31), and reassure us that He is with us always (Deuteronomy 31:6) We aren’t supposed to worry about anything, but pray about everything (Philippians 4:6). We have a choice - we can burden our minds and bodies with countless challenges that we all face or we can give it to the One who can handle it much better.

We have to remember that He knows what he is doing and has it all planned out. He plans to take care of us, not abandon us, and give us a great future (Ephesians 3:20-21). We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to experience His goodness and love. He wants us to have peace and joy while we are living on this earth (Psalm 27:13-14).

Just try it for a day. Write down everything that you feel is “wrong with your life,” everything that vexes you and pray about it. Then leave it at His feet. When you feel sad or start to worry throughout the day remember that you gave it over to God that morning. There’s no need to worry about a problem that someone else has promised to solve. He’s a big God and He wants to take care of it for you.  Don’t give up, give it over to Him.

1 Peter 5:7
New International Version (NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

John 16:33
New International Version (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Isaiah 40:31 New International Version (NIV)
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Deuteronomy 31:6
New International Version (NIV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Philippians 4:6
New International Version (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Ephesians 3:20-21
New International Version (NIV)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Psalm 27:13-14
New International Version (NIV)
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, December 10, 2018

Let Us Love One Another In Deed

I remember watching the 1966 movie, Alfie, and not really understanding what Michael Caine’s character was trying to say.  Recently, I read some of the title song’s lyrics, which said, “I believe in love, Alfie. Without true love we just exist, Alfie. Until you find the love you've missed, you're nothing, Alfie.”  Many of us will spend our years just existing and not understanding the power of and the necessity for love.  Many will get into relationships as if they were a zero sum game in which we will win only if the other loses.

The Bible tells us that we should not love merely in theory giving lip service to compassion, but in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words (1 John 3:17-18).  1 Corinthians 13 has been called the Love Chapter.  It states that in spite of people’s sacrifice, gifts of faith, or prophecy, there is no benefit without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Those who are full of God’s love are kind, patient, keep no record of wrongs, rejoice with the truth, protect, trust, always hope, and always persevere (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  We will never produce this love on our own. We must ask God to come into our hearts so that we can love like He loves.  

We live in a world where real love is scorned and pretend love is praised. We know that because it soon passes away and reveals itself that it is not God’s love. The scripture in 1 Peter 4:8 begins with “Above all.”  What does God say is above all?  We are to love each other with His love because His love covers all of our challenges in life (1 Peter 4:8).  Let us endeavor to love each other with God’s love.

1 John 3:17-18
New International Version (NIV)
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 

18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7
New International Version (NIV)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Peter 4:8
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others].

Monday, December 3, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, December 3, 2018

Let Us Understand Other’s Feelings

Empathy--Mary T. Lathrap in 1895 wrote a poem entitled, “Judge Softly”.  The first paragraph reads, Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps, or stumbles along the road. Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears, or stumbled beneath the same load. We live in a world that puts its personal needs above others.  People who are experiencing homelessness, physical sickness or mental health disease need not attempt to enter some of our safe homes. Those who are hungry and thirsty should go elsewhere. Or perhaps they are simply a check that we can write and feel we have accomplished all that is required. 

Many of us judge others without understanding how they got to where they are. We attribute other’s misfortune to poor decisions, but our success to our hard work and self-sacrifice.  We do not consider how blessed we are because God protected us from that one insane predator, that one spiked drink, that deadly party, those powerful addictive drugs or that malevolent teacher/preacher/ employer/spouse or relative.

We should exhibit a Godly concern for others. Not merely with the attitude of “There but for the grace of God go I," but Lord what would you have me do concerning this person that you have put in my path?  Would You have me to open my home, pray, share a Christian pamphlet, visit, talk with, smile, share a few dollars, or even acknowledge their existence?  

If Jesus were fleeing from a painful situation, would you tell Him to wait outside until you found it convenient to let Him in? In the Bible, Jesus will proclaim to the nations before Him that how they treated the outcast, they did it unto Him (Matthew 25:32-40).  

This week let us empathize with people in challenging situations. He accepted us and continues to accept us despite our many faults. Let us be concerned about others and try to understand their experience.

Matthew 25:32-40
New International Version (NIV)
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Monday, November 26, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, November 26, 2018

Let Us Thank God For Salvation

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? We just returned from our sixty-eighth annual Thanksgiving reunion of the Mitchell-Brown family in Chicago, Illinois.  It was a wonderful occasion where we were able to thank God for His blessings, for those who have passed on, for the accomplishments of our relatives, for our future generations, and for the awesome dinner. 

There are so many things that we can be thankful for.  We know that all good things come from God (James 1:17).  We do not have to be anxious for anything, but we can ask God for everything and thank Him for what we receive (Philippians 4:6). In every thing that we do, we can thank God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17).  God is so gracious and loving; we should thank Him because He satisfies the thirsty and the hungry and does wonderful deeds for mankind (Psalm 107:8-9).

God has done great things for us that we can thank Him for, but one of the most important things that He has done is expressed in the lyrics of the song written by Malcolm Speed, entitled, “When I Think (Of the Goodness of Jesus).” Some of the lyrics are, “When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He's done for me, my soul, my soul cries out ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, I thank God for saving me.’”

During this holiday season, we have many things for which we can give thanks. However, the most important gift He has given us is when He died on the cross for our salvation. Let us thank God for saving us!

James 1:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Philippians 4:6 
New International Version (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 3:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 107:8-9 
New International Version (NIV)
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing loveand his wonderful deeds for mankind,9 for he satisfies the thirstyand fills the hungry with good things

Monday, November 19, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, November 19, 2018

Encourage Yourself In The Lord

Donald Lawrence wrote a song in 2008 entitled, “Encourage Yourself.”  Some of the lyrics are, “Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test and no matter how you feel, speak the word and you will be healed. Speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord.”  We live in a discouraging world where sarcasm, flippant remarks, and put downs are everywhere.  Many times when one hears someone give them an encouraging word, we immediately try to find their hidden agenda.

In the Bible, David, had been running from King Saul.  He had just suffered a crushing defeat and his followers were discussing killing him.  Yet David encouraged himself (1 Samuel 30:3, 6).  We should encourage ourselves in spite of our circumstances. When we come across challenging situations, we are not to pretend that the problems do not exist, but we are commanded to speak those things that are not as if they were.  We may have the symptoms of sickness and we have received a negative report, but we must say what God says and that is we are healed (Psalm 107:20).  We may be unemployed, but God says that we are rich in Him (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The Bible is full of encouraging words.  God says that we are overcomers (Revelation 12:11), whatever we do prospers (Psalm 1:1, 3), and He commands His angels to guard those who love Him (Psalm 91:11).  This week, let us explore God’s word and claim what we can do, what we can be, and who we are in Christ and not let our temporary setbacks define us.   Let us encourage ourselves in the Lord.

1 Samuel 30:3, 6
New International Version (NIV)
So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

Psalm 107:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.

2 Corinthians 8:9
New International Version (NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Revelation 12:11a 
New International Version (NIV)
11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…

Psalm 1:1, 3
New International Version (NIV)
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 91:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, November 13, 2018

God Desires A Close Relationship With His Children

David Lohr, in the November 12, 2018, Huffington Post, wrote an article entitled, “Search For Missing Teen Hania Aguilar ‘More Urgent By The Minute’. Someone forced the 13-year-old into a vehicle outside her home.   Her mother’s agonized pleas for her safe return were heartbreaking. According to the 2017 NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statisticswhich is a compilation of statistics from the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person and Unidentified Person Files for 2017, there were 441,165 juveniles under 18 missing.

All of these have a painful story. Perhaps they were found, perhaps they never returned. Just like this poor mother desperately wants her child returned, our Saviour Jesus Christ wants all of His children with Him. In the Bible, Jesus said that He was going away to prepare a place for those who love Him to be with Him always (John 14:2-3).  God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, and Jesus gave His life for all of us so that we might be escape Hell and live eternally with Him (John 3:16).  In the Bible, God calls us His children (1 John 4:4).  We are His heirs adopted unto Him (Romans 8:17a). Even though Jesus was about to go to the cross, He declared that He eagerly wanted to be with His apostles (Luke 22:14-15).  

Thousands of children are missing and God loves and cherishes every one of them. The Evil One comes to kill, steal, and destroy while Jesus wants us to have His abundant life (John 10:10).  When we think about missing children, let us remember all the lost souls that God is thinking about and not wanting any to perish, but to have that relationship with Him (2 Peter 3:9). Let us tell everybody about His desire for everyone to be with Him throughout eternity.

John 14:2-3
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? 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.

John 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:4
New International Version (NIV)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world

Romans 8:17a
New International Version (NIV)
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Luke 22:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

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.

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, November 5, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, November 5, 2018

Can We All Get Along?

During the riots in Los Angeles, CA on May 1, 1992, Rodney King made a television appearance in which he said, “…can we all get along?”  This poignant request was made during a riot where over sixty people died and over 2000 were injured.  Since the 18thcentury, the United States has had a sad history of racial conflicts, between Protestants and Irish Catholics, African Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, Chileans, Filipinos, Japanese and Armenians. Can we all get along? 

The Bible says that those who love the Lord should have no fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:16, 17). It further emphasizes that those who love God are in this world, but we are not of this world (John 15:19).  For those of who want to win the lost at any cost and win the world for Christ (Proverbs 11:30), how can we win them over to Christ? Can we love those who we cannot tolerate?

The answer is that those who love God are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). According to Calvary Chapel South Bay, that means we are a life-sustaining element to the world. We are to tell a dying world that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s standards (Romans 3:23). However, God wants all of us delivered from Satan’s power and to enjoy the fruits of righteousness in His eternal kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

Because of man’s continued inhumanity to man, we will not get along together on earth, but we are to allow God to use us to share His love so that one day we will all get along.  In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John saw a vision where no one could number the mass of people.  They all had white robes with one purpose which was praise and glorify God (Revelation 7:9, 10).  Let us win everyone to Christ so that one day in eternity, we will all get along together in Him.

2 Corinthians 6:16, 17 
New International Version (NIV)
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

John 15:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Proverbs 11:30
King James Version (KJV)
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

Matthew 5:13
New International Version (NIV)
13“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Romans 3:23
New International Version (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

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,

Revelation 7:9, 10
New International Version (NIV)
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Monday, October 29, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, October 29, 2018

God’s Love Abounds

Andy Campbell and Sebastian Murdock wrote an article on October 27, 2018, in a Huffington Post website entitled, “A Week Of American Hate: Bombs Mailed, Black People Executed, Jews Slaughtered.”  The article states, “A man executed two black people at a grocery store... A Donald Trump supporter…sent bombs in the mail to the president’s opposition. An avowed anti-Semite walked into a synagogue and killed 11… This was one week in American hate.”  

Many have engaged in violent words and acts of viciousness. Perhaps this week will mark a turning point in the escalating war of hatred. The Bible says that we are not to let evil overcome us, but that we must overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).  We must believe that the God that lives on the inside of us is greater than the evil outside of us (1 John 4:4). Even though we may totally disagree with people who have opposing views, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to do good to those that persecute you (Matthew 5:44). God is love and His love covers many problems in life.

Martin Luther King had Six Principles Of Nonviolence. “Principle six states, “Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win. Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.” We have to remember that Jesus said that those who live by the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52) and God is the one that has the last word on retaliation (Romans 12:19).   

This week, when evil confronts us, when negative words explode all around us, and when talk of retribution emerges; let us remember the words of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said that peacemakers are blessed and will be called God’s children and those who are attacked for being righteous are blessed and will have the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:9-10). Let us remember that our God is love.

Romans 12:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 John 4:4
New International Version (NIV)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world

Matthew 5:44
New International Version (NIV)
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 26:52
New International Version (NIV)
52 "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

Romans 12:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Matthew 5:9-10
New International Version (NIV)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, October 22, 2018

Are You Committed?

Are you in a totally committed relationship? It seems that fewer young people are in committed relationships according to the Social & Policy Issue’s website published on June 8, 2015. “This means that not only are fewer young adults married, but also that fewer are in committed relationships. As a result, the percentage of young adults who report being single and not living with someone has risen dramatically in the past decade, from 52% in 2004 to 64% in 2014.”  Committed relationships seem to be declining.

However, in the book of Jeremiah, God says He is married to the Israelites (Jeremiah 3:14).  God is a faithful God and He is committed to the world.  He said He loves them so much that He gave His own Son for their salvation (John 3:16).  Like He loves us, God wants us to love Him with our whole heart, soul and strength (Matthew 22:37, 38).  He does not want faithless people who love the Lord and then love the worldly pleasures. He says a double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways (James 1:8).

In this world system, people move in and out of relationships, go behind each other’s back and bond with others while tying themselves down to no one. The Apostle Paul asks what kinds of relationship can the body of Christ have with other gods since we are God’s temple (2 Corinthians 6:16)? God challenges us to present all of ourselves to Him in an intimate relationship with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (Romans 12:1).  

Let us recommit ourselves to love Him only and not the worldly system and its seductions.  The world’s pleasures are temporary, but Jesus is preparing a place for those who are totally in love with Him to live with Him always (John 14:3).  Let us be totally committed to God as He is to us.

Jeremiah 3:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.

John 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 22:37, 38 
New International Version (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

James 1:8
King James Version (KJV)
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

2 Corinthians 6:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Romans 12:1
New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

John 14:3
New International Version (NIV)
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.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, October 15, 2018

What Are You Talking About?

Jive Talkin' was a song by the Bee Gees in May 1975. Some of the lyrics were, “It's just your jive talkin', you're telling me lies ... jive talkin', you wear a disguise... so misunderstood... You really no good.” Unfortunately, our culture tolerates lies, deception, and hurtful words in so much of our conversation.  For example, Scott Walker, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania said, “Gov. Wolf, let me tell you between now and Nov. 6, you better put a catcher’s mask on your face because I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes.” Although he later apologized, the damage from his words remains.

The Bible says that we must be careful how we speak because we will give an account of every idle word in the Day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36-37).  We must realize that we can speak death and life by the power of our tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  No one can expect to get away with cursing others by throwing in a few praises to God (James 3:9, 10).  Our tongues were meant to encourage others (Ephesians 4:29) and to glorify God.

What have you been talking about?  Have you used your wit to skewer others so that your talent can sound amusing? Have you torn someone else down to make you feel better? Are your words supporting others to be all that they can be? The Bible says that saying the right word is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Proverbs 25:11). 

We should follow King David’s suggestion about his mouth.  He was so concerned about what he spoke that he asked God to watch over his mouth (Psalm 141:3). Andy Rooney said, “Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.” Let us make the decision that we will watch our words so that they are always helpful and not hurtful.

Matthew 12:36-37
New International Version (NIV)
36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 
37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Proverbs 18:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

James 3:9, 10 
New International Version (NIV)
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Ephesians 4:29 
New International Version (NIV)
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 25:11
King James Version (KJV)
11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Psalm 141:3
New International Version (NIV)
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, October 9, 2018

Don’t Forget To Pray For Our Country

All across the globe, we are hearing scary accounts of leaders doing horrible things to their citizenry while assuming the mantle of righteousness. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has been accused of murdering those who oppose him. Turkey says Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist, was murdered inside of the Saudi consulate. President Paul Biya presides over Cameroon and has killed more than 400 people in more than a year. The Human Rights Watch indicates the Philippine president Duterte’s ‘Drug War’ has claimed over 12000 lives.  

It is safe to say that ungodly leadership has produced disastrous results. The Bible says that when righteous people are in authority, people rejoice and when evil rules, people mourn (Proverbs 29:2).  From this passage, it would seem that those who love God must participate in the political system.  They should run for office, support those who believe in Godly principles and make the effort to vote.  We should pray for those who are in authority that they would make right decisions (1 Timothy 2:1-2).  This is important because the Bible says that leaders are in the hands of God (Proverbs 21:1).

We live in a time when political discussions descend into shouting, reasonable differences of opinions transform into hate-filled screaming, and various factions appropriate the Name of Jesus to support ungodly beliefs.  The Bible says that people call evil words, actions, or beliefs good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).  To get a political advantage, leaders will lie, deceive and dissemble while God says that He hates liars (Proverbs 6:16, 17).  Many leaders have elevated lying to an art so that people no longer have confidence in their leadership.  Aesop says that liars will not be believed even when they sometimes tell the truth. 

Let us put our leaders on our prayer list as we exercise our rights as citizen to participate in our political system.  We must pray to God and ask how to help our world.  We are to act in authority because God calls us righteous and given us His unmerited favor through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).  During this election season, don’t forget to pray to God for our leadership, our country, and for quiet and peaceful lives under Him.

Proverbs 29:2
Amplified Bible (AMP)
When the righteous are in authority and become great, the people rejoice;
But when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.

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

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

Isaiah 5:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Proverbs 6:16, 17
New International Version (NIV)
16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,

Romans 5:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!