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!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, October 2, 2018

Our God Is The Source of All Wisdom

According to Wikipedia, “the Rorschach test is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed.... Some psychologists use this test to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning.”  We might say that the September 28th  Congressional questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court was a national Rorschach test of the deep divisions of opinions in our country. 
In spite of the tendency to believe only what one has decided to believe, the Bible says that we should not let our flesh determine our reality, but we should be led by our faith in God (2 Corinthians 5:7).  We must never let the crowd determine what God wants us to think, to believe, or to do.  God tells us not be conformed to this world system of popular opinion, but to be transformed in our minds (Romans 12:2). The Bible says that the way that seems right leads to death or separation from God (Proverbs 14:12).  Moreover, the Bible says that God’s word is always true while all men may lie (Romans 3:3-4).
Many have differing opinions about world events, but if we want to have wisdom about anything, God invites us to ask Him since He is the source of all wisdom (Proverbs 2:6).  Talking heads are interesting, panel discussions may be intriguing, but gathering our information from the crowd can be misleading. This is not to say that we should avoid research and worldly knowledge, but we should not allow it to dominate our thinking. Those who love the Lord have the privilege of turning from the popular opinion polls and ask God for His wisdom, which He willingly gives us (James 1:5). Let us not totally rely on mainstream media, social media, or even our opinionated neighbors. Let us look to God for His true wisdom.
2 Corinthians 5:7
New International Version (NIV)
For we live by faith, not by sight.
Romans 12:2 
New International Version (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Proverbs 14:12
New International Version (NIV)
12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
Romans 3:3-4a
New International Version (NIV)
3What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 
4a  Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar.
Proverbs 2:6
New International Version (NIV)
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
James 1:5
New International Version (NIV)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.