Monday, June 25, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 25, 2018

Keep Hope Alive; God Is Staying With Us

No matter your political views, we can all agree that these are perilous times. People on all sides of the political spectrum are convinced their views are rational and logical while everyone else’s opinions are irrational and illogical.  Many believe our leaders do not tell the truth and are only serving their own self-interests.  The Bible says that we will hear about wars and rumors of war, earthquakes, and other disasters, but that the end of days is not yet.  These are simply the beginnings of anguish and trouble (Matthew 24:6-8).

What should those who love the Lord do in these trying times? First, it pleases God when we pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3) because the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous are powerful in these dire situations (James 5:16b).  Second, we have to take a principled stand. In 1945, Dr. Gordon A. Eadie, in a journal called “Mental Hygiene,” wrote, “If they don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything.”  The Bible says that when the evil days come, we should stand (Ephesians 6:13).  

Third, we must ask for wisdom from God. Our academics are divided, our ecclesiastical leaders are supporting positions that they would have opposed a few years ago, and our political leaders cannot get consensus even in their own parties. God gives wisdom and understanding for these tough times (Proverbs 2:6).  We must not lose hope and give into despair since God is still in charge of man’s affairs. 

Truly, we live in tough times.  There is pain and suffering on every hand.  Thank God that all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). No matter what is going on in the world, we can be strong and courageous. God tells us not to worry or be afraid since He will always be there for us (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

Matthew 24:6-8
Amplified Bible (AMP)
You will continually hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end [of the age]. 
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 
But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish and the time of unprecedented trouble].

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— 
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 
This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

James 5:16b
New International Version (NIV)
16… The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Ephesians 6:13
New International Version (NIV)
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.

Proverbs 2:6
New International Version (NIV)
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

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

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.”

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 18, 2018

Delayed But Not Denied

In the June 16, 2018, “Times of Israel” paper, it was reported that Eric Abramovitz, a McGill University student in Quebec, attempted to get a scholarship to study under the renowned clarinetist, Yehuda Gilad, at a prestigious university.  The scholarship covering everything is “virtually a guarantee of a high-paying symphony career directly out of college.” 

However, his girlfriend intercepted his email and turned down the offer in his name to prevent him from moving away from her. She deleted Gilad’s email offering the scholarship, created a new email address similar to Gilad’s real one, and wrote Abramovitz a rejection letter. Later, Abramovitz found out her scheme and two years later he received the scholarship. 

This was a reprehensible scheme to maintain a relationship, but in the Bible, Satan constantly demonstrates that he will attempt to kill, steal, and destroy whatever one attempts to do (John 10:10a).  In the book of Daniel, Daniel had been praying to God about understanding a vision that he had been given with no results.  Suddenly, he saw an angel who said that he had been delayed from answering Daniel’s prayer because a powerful demon had held him up for twenty-one days. Fortunately, the angel was assisted by Michael, one the most powerful heavenly angels, who helped him to get through to Daniel with the answer (Daniel 10:11-13).

We have to know that we must wait upon the Lord and not give up because we will be victorious (Galatians 6:9).  Although what we feel God has promised has been delayed, it does not mean that He has said “No.”  In fact the Bible says His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).  It can be difficult to go through life waiting for God to answer prayer, but He will answer.  The Bible says that when we ask for what He has promised us, He hears us and if He hears us, we have what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15).

We must not listen to the worldly message of doubt, fear, unbelief, anxiety, or worry. His promises may not come when we want them or in the way that we want them, but He is a faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9).   We may feel that our answer may be deferred, but let us not give up hope and decide that they are denied since He knows there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Let us encourage each other and ourselves that our God is a faithful God who loves us and will keep His commitment to us.  

John 10:10
New International Version (NIV)
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 

Daniel 10:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
11He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
12Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.

Galatians 6:9
New International Version (NIV)
9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

2 Corinthians 1:20
New International Version (NIV)
20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

1 John 5:14-15
New International Version (NIV)
14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 
15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Deuteronomy 7:9
New International Version (NIV)
9Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments

Ecclesiastes 3:1
New International Version (NIV)
3There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

Monday, June 11, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 11, 2018

You Are Your Neighbor’s Keeper

In the July 2, 2017, issue of Think Big, Philip Perry wrote, “Today, being white and male are the two single greatest risk factors for suicide in the US.”  According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics(NCHS), suicides increased from 42,773 in 2014 to 44,965 in 2016. On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014…the highest rate recorded in 28 years.” Just like the deaths of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, the anguish of suicide reverberates long after their passing.

We may never understand or understand too well the mental health state and circumstances that lead to the total despair of those who terminated their life. Their smiles and jokes may hide terrible pain.  Although this world’s system is “dog eat dog,” we in the body of Christ must be aware of those around us.

The Bible tells us that men ought to always pray (Luke 18:1).  Your prayers can help comfort someone who feels lost and in pain (James 5:16). They may also need prescriptions to help their illness or encouragement to seek other medical or psychological treatments.

The body of Christ has been placed in particular places and times to work God’s work (John 9:4).  Have we ignored that woman could use a free babysitter?  Have we forgotten to invite the co-worker to dinner when we have our festivities?  Have we overlooked the lonely senior citizen who thinks life is no longer worth living? Perhaps an encouraging word, perhaps a smile or a friendly conversation may help them out of their spiral of depression.  When we are praying, are we focusing on our own needs rather than the needs of others? 

Let us take a moment and think about those around us, those who we have lost contact with, those who have had tragic life events, and those whom God sends across our mind.  Let us pray and ask God for His help for them.  Perhaps we may be the last person to throw them a lifeline before their final solution. Yes, we are our neighbor’s keeper. 

Luke 18:1
New International Version (NIV)
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

James 5:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

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.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, June 4, 2018

We Are In God’s Royal Family

The problem of race and ethnic divisions in America permeates much of our political, economic, and social discussions.  “And a new Pew Research poll reflects that, with a majority of Americans — 60 percent — saying that the election of Donald Trump has led to worse race relations in the United States.” Formerly rational people are now reduced to screaming their positions and producing “more heat than light” when they are in discussions about race and ethnic divisions.

While man spends an inordinate amount of time looking on outward appearances, ethic groups, or skin color, God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).   When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we became covered in Christ.  Those surface distinctions were incorporated under “you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:27-28).”   

Yes, there has been and continues to be hatred, ignorance, mistreatment and abuse. It comes from the place inside of us that has not been submitted to God. He instead would have us look to Him for our needs and not fight and quarrel with others (James 4:1, 2).   

Let us look to the future when those who love the Lord will all be gathered together in the New Heaven in our white robes washed in Jesus’ blood and praising God. We will not be discussing what divides us, but we will be focused on our Savior, Christ Jesus (Revelation 7:9, 10). Thank God, in spite of our divisions, we are His chosen people, His royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9)!

1 Samuel 16:7 
New International Version (NIV)
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Galatians 3:27-28
New International Version (NIV)
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

James 4:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

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.”

1 Peter 2:9
New International Version (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.