Monday, December 30, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, December 30, 2019

Real Love Is Sacrificial

Colleen Shalby, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote an article on December 26, 2019, entitled 
Father dies on Christmas Eve trying to save daughter who was swept out to sea.  Although the daughter lived, this father, Paul Lewis, gave his all for his child.  On the same day, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon wrote in the New York Post another heart-breaking article, entitled California dad died trying to save his kids in Christmas tree blaze.  Without regard for his own safety, Juan Moreno, gave his life trying to save his three children all of whom perished.

We are in the holiday season celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  When we hear of the sacrifice of Jorge and Juan, we can begin to appreciate the great love that Jesus had for us when He laid aside His celestial garments and came to earth for the express purpose of dying for us.  He endured the pain and shame of the rugged cross all for the joy of accomplishing His purpose for us (Hebrews 12:2).

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for a sinful world (1 John 3:1, John 3:16).  What love the Father had for us!  God looked beyond all of our weaknesses, imperfections, disobedience, cantankerousness, and saved all who will accept His sacrifice from a burning hell and the Lake of Fire.  

This holiday season let us remember the Jorges and the Juans and all of those who lay down their lives for others exhibiting the greatest love (John 15:12-14).  Let us be willing to be sacrificial towards one and another and be concerned about the well-being of others and not simply our own.  Let us love each other indeed and not simply in words.

Hebrews 12:2
Amplified Bible (AMP)
[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

1 John 3:1
New International Version (NIV)
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

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.

John 15:12-14
New International Version (NIV)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, December 22, 2019

Today, we have my daughter, Malika Fair, making a guest submission.

Living Out Your Purpose

Eight years ago, I began working with an outstanding physician scholar who would eventually become my mentor and friendFitzhugh MullanHe helped to celebrate the birth of my daughter and one week after she was born, my dear mentor passed away. As I reflect on his life, I am struck by his commitment to his life purpose right up until the end.

Fitz fought for equity and social justice in healthcare both in the US and abroad. They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. But the truth is, sometimes our calling is not always fun. Dr. Mullan’s fight towards equity was not always popular. He fought for unconventional practices in medical schools and teaching hospitals that would ensure minority students access to medical schools, more physicians and other health professionals practicing in rural and underserved areas and a posture of health institutions to consider their social responsibility to reduce health disparities. 

Dr. Mullan realized that his role as a physician scholar was one of privilege and he used his national positions and academic credentials to pursue social justice for others despite resistance. Even with the knowledge that his time on this earth was coming to an end, he still submitted a paper during his last week of life that furthered this mission.

The scripture says “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” Luke 12:48 NKJV. Also, in Matthew 25:14-30, we read the parable of the Talents. Three men are given talents to invest while their master is away. One man buries his talent, another invests modestly and the other maximizes his potential. We all have been given talents to use on this earth and it is our decision to either bury that talent or use it for good.

What talents have you been given? What tables have you been invited to join? We all have an opportunity to either fulfill our God given purpose or squander our lives away. Please join me in honoring the life of my mentor and pause to consider what God has called you to do. What are you scared of? What seems too difficult or unpopular? We each have a purpose and mark to make on this world. Let us work with what we have been given and let God use it to bless others.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, December 16, 2019

All I Want For Christmas Is Jesus

What would you do if you were informed that December 25, 2019, would be your last Christmas?  What would you want to give and what would you want to receive?  What would be important for you to do, who would you want to talk with, and what issues would you want to resolve? If your life had a clear expiration date, some things would suddenly become extremely important while other things would quickly diminish in value. 

Neal Morse wrote a hymn entitled, “Only What You Do For Christ.”  Some of the lyrics are, “You may build great cathedrals large or small, you can build skyscrapers grand and tall, you may conquer all the failures of the past, but only what you do for Christ will last…only what you do for Him will be counted at the end;
only what you do for Christ will last.” Hopefully we would all recognize that the most important thing to do this Christmas is to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ. 

This holiday season, as we are making our Christmas lists and checking them twice, let us decide that we should give Jesus what He wants most and paid His life for and that is us.  He wants us to present our bodies, souls and our spirits to Him (Romans 12:1).  He does not want us to conform to the world’s idea of giving to receive more (Romans 12:2), but to allow Him to guide us where we should give and to whom we should give.  Does Dad really need a new sport coat, or could we provide monthly giving for a needy child?  Does your boss need new golf clubs, or could the office support an inner-city youth with a summer camp opportunity?  

I want these lyrics to be my Christmas present. These are some of the lyrics from the song entitled “Day By Day” from the 1971 musical Godspell. “Day by day, oh dear Lord, three things I pray. To see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day.” What I want for Christmas is to be more like Christ. 

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.

Romans 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
2 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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, December 10, 2019

They Are Not Heavy: They Are Our Brothers

Nina Golgowski, in the Crime Section of the 12/8/2019 Huffington Post, wrote an article entitled, “Abandoned 5-Year-Old Carried Toddler Through Subzero Cold.” The article stated, “The child wore only socks and light clothing while making the incredible half-mile trek to get help, authorities in Alaska said.” This shocking tale reminds one of the "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" ballad by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell.  Some of the lyrics are, “The road is long with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where, who knows where. But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.”  

In the Bible, Cain murdered his brother, Abel. God asked him where Abel was, and Cain answered “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).  This was an unreasonable answer to a reasonable question. Recently a person asked me to give him something for the homeless. I fished for some change, but then I noticed that he had no shoes.  He was walking in 40-degree weather while wearing just socks.  I helped him because I am my brother’s keeper.

We could blame his bad choices, the economy, the political administration, or serendipitous luck, but he is my brother.  He is not heavy; I feel obliged to help.  If I see my brother in need and withhold my compassion, how can I say that I love with God’s love and how can I call myself a child of God (1 John 3:17). If I can provide some things for those in need and decide to ignore him how does that help him (James 2:15-16)? 

This is the Christmas season and we are reminded that Jesus, not Amazon, is the reason for the season.  The essential tenant of Jesus’ work on earth was to fulfill our need that we could not fill.  Let us decide that while our brothers and sisters may be physically heavy, their relationship to us means their weight is unimportant.  We will love them, care for them, and serve them like Christ loves, cares for and serves us.   They are not heavy; they are our brothers.

Genesis 4:9
New International Version (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

1 John 3:17 
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?

James 2:15-16
New International Version (NIV)
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 
16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Monday, December 2, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, December 2, 2019

Let’s Make Truth and Honesty Our Policy

A few years ago, when one of our family members worked for a major corporation, they were able to share the benefits of a discount on mobile phone costs.  When they recently resigned, we contacted the mobile phone company and explained that we were no longer eligible for the discount.  The surprised representative said we could have maintained the discount for months because they would only periodically review them.  Then we proceeded to ask how much our bill would increase in the future without the discount. To our surprise, we were eligible for another discount that minimized our bill increase to four dollars per month!

It would have been easiest to keep the discount for as long as possible and hope they never checked, but because we chose the honest path, we were rewarded. While deception may benefit in the short run, honesty is the best policy.  Jesus was the ultimate honest person when He stated that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Light (John 14:6). When the church was first established in the New Testament, the first qualification listed for the deacons was that they be able to give a good report or to be honest (Acts 6:3).  The online source called, TheOneThing, shared research stating, “The encouraging news is that over 94 percent of people were honest even though they thought no one was watching.”

People may not be watching, but God’s eyes are in every place looking at the good and the wicked (Proverbs 15:3).  When the Bible lists the kind of thoughts we must think, honesty is the second on the list (Philippians 4:8).  During this holiday season when many are dishonestly pushing this or that product or scheme, let us be honest with one and another and speak the truth always. 

John 14:6
New International Version (NIV)
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 6:3
King James Version (KJV)
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Proverbs 15:3 
New International Version (NIV)
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

Philippians 4:8
King James Version (KJV)
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, November 27, 2019

Let’s Love God’s Children Like God Loves Them

The Neufville and Fair families are excited to announce that a new addition has joined us! Kyra AurĂ©lie Neufville was born at 4:47 pm on 11/22/19.  Our families are very happy about her birth.  She will have many who will surround her with love. She will have many praying for her to be blessed in her life. However, we cannot help but think about the many children who will be born without support and in poverty. According to the US Census Bureau, 17.5 percent of children were poor in 2017, which was defined as an annual income below $25,283 for a family of four. The article went on to state, “Overall, children remain the poorest age group in the nation.”

Hubert Humphrey who served as U.S. Vice President from 1965 to 1969 said: “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”  In the Bible at the time of judgment, nations will be judged on how they treated the least when Jesus will say, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).  

In our family, we are truly ecstatic about our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who are surrounded by people who are concerned about their education, their resources, and their well-being.  We have been careful to ground them in teachings about Christ and His love, direction, and wisdom for their lives. Nevertheless, we must also be concerned about those children who through no fault of their own are tossed into less fortunate circumstances with inadequate resources, little or no moral background, and subject to uncaring people.

When we see television programs showing children begging or going through garbage to seek food, are we turning the channel to more entertaining programs, simply going for our checkbooks, or are we researching local programs to help children who are on the streets and being trafficked or assaulted? Are we asking what can we personally do to help the children (1 John 3:17, 18)? Are we asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Let us decide to love, assist, help, comfort God’s children as we feel led to do and thereby do God’s work on earth (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Matthew 25:40
New International Version (NIV)
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.’

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.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 
New International Version (NIV)
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 
7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, November 18, 2019

God’s Judgment Blesses His Children

Many of us in November 2019 are fascinated with the process of the potential fourth impeachment of a president in the history of the United States.  Witnesses have given riveting testimony of actions that may be considered as grounds for the removal of a sitting Commander in Chief.  This process makes me think of the judgement that we all must face one day.  Given the gravity of these proceedings, we may have to ask what kinds of actions are we doing that could be brought into judgement by the eternal God at the end of time?

Those of us who love the Lord understand that we will be judged after death at the Bema seat where Christ will give out rewards and crowns for how well we performed during our lives.  Some will receive rewards while others will simply be saved from Hell but will get no rewards (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).  

Since we must give an account of every word and thought during this earthly sojourn (Matthew 12:36, Ecclesiastes 12:14) let us live our lives with a reverential fear (1 Peter 1:17) knowing that it is a dreadful thing  to fall in the hands of an angry God (Hebrews 10:31).  Nevertheless, we have a loving God who, upon our request, will forgive us for our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  

We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, but when He became our Savior, (Romans 10:9, 10), we don’t have to be terrified of His judgement because He paid the penalty for sin on the cross (Galatians 3:13).  His judgement is a blessing for us.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15
New International Version (NIV)
12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 
If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward
15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames

Matthew 12:36
New International Version (NIV)
 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

Ecclesiastes 12:14
New International Version
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil

1 Peter 1:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.

Hebrews 10:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

1 John 1:9
New International Version (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 10:9-10
New International Version (NIV)
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.

Galatians 3:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, November 12, 2019

We Must Use Holy Ghost Power

We have great songs about the Holy Ghost. Keith Dobbins & The Resurrection Mass Choir in 1991 sang the classic hymn,  Power from God.  Some of the lyrics are, “Power after the Holy Ghost Is come upon you, you shall receive power from God.” The Chicago Mass Choir in October 2007 sang, Holy Ghost Power. Some of the lyrics were, “I got it, the Holy Ghost power. Do you want it? The Holy Ghost power, I need it.”

These hand clapping and foot stomping songs remind us that our relationship with Christ is not just mental exercises in existential existence.  It is not a philosophy or a thoughtful analysis of why we are here upon earth. It is not even a religion, but a relationship with the great God Almighty.  In the Bible, when the disciples were awaiting a sign from heaven in an upper room, they were all in one accord when the Holy Ghost fell upon them like fire and they all began speaking in unknown tongues (Acts 2:2-4).

God wants us to know that He wants to live in each of us by His Spirit (Colossians 1:27).  When He lives in us, He gives us the ability to do mighty works in His Name (Philippians 4:13).  Moreover, Jesus said that those who love Him will do greater works than He did after He returned to Heaven. They will do these works because they will have His power in His Name working through them (John 14:12-13). When the disciples healed a beggar, they later testified that faith in Jesus’ Name had healed the man (Acts 3:16).

Those who love God are not simply to be pushed around by the forces of evil.  As believers with the power of God working, we are commanded to cast out devils and to pray for the sick (Mark 16:17, James 5:15).  Moreover, He may also tell us to feed the hungry, petition political authorities, speak encouraging words or intervene boldly against injustice. As followers of Christ, we have been given power and authority over evil.  Let’s not run from evil but, in the Name of Jesus and with the power of the Holy Ghost, let us allow God to use us mightily as His instruments in these trying times. 

Acts 2:2-4
New International Version (NIV)
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Colossians 1:27
New International Version (NIV)
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

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

John 14:12-13
New International Version (NIV)
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Acts 3:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

Mark 16:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 

James 5:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven

Monday, November 4, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, November 4, 2019

Great Expectations

The novel, Great Expectations, was written in 1861 by Charles Dickens.  In this book, the protagonist, Pip, received his expectation when he suddenly is given a large fortune.  Unfortunately, along with this wealth, there was also great pain in his life. Although that was fictional, in reality, many times our expectations in life are not as wonderful as we had anticipated.

In the Bible, God shares his expectations for His children.  He wants us to have peace, well-being, and hope (Jeremiah 29:11).  He wants us to prosper and be in health (3 John 2).  His expectations are that even our children are blessed because they will have His Spirit and His commands (Isaiah 59:21).  He further promises that we have His protection and that our heritage is from Him (Isaiah 54:17).

We may have dreams and hopes for power, prestige and wealth, but  we should rather desire that God give us everything that we need for a godly life and to share with us His very great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:3-4).  The Bible demonstrates the fact that God has great expectations for those who love Him.  Let us rejoice and thank Him for all that He has done for us and all that He will do.

Jeremiah 29:11
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

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 59:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

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.

2 Peter 1:3-4
New International Version (NIV)
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, October 28, 2019

What We Do For The Less Fortunate, We Do It For God

“Those who do not weep, do not see.” This quote is from the novel, “Les Miserables” written by Victor Hugo.  When we hear of bodies being found in trucks, human trafficking victims increasing, and unspeakable suffering on a worldwide scale, those who have any feelings are shaken to the core.  We must be concerned about suffering at home and abroad.

The Bible says that Jesus feels humanity’s pain.  When He came to the tomb where His friend, Lazarus, was laid, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and the great God of Heaven and Earth, wept (John 11:34-35). He keeps close records of every tear that we shed (Psalm 56:8). God does not just sympathize with us, He can truly empathize because He said that we can cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

As we focus on our victory in Christ, our blessings, our prosperity, and our deliverance, let us also remember the sick, the starving, the disabled, those behind bars, and those in the twilight of life.  God remembers them and empathizes with them.  How we treat them, God says we are treating Him (Matthew 25:40). Let us remember them, advocate for them, pray for them, and care for them as we feel led.  Let us do for them as we would have done for ourselves (Luke 6:31). 

John 11:34-35
New International Version (NIV)
34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept. 

Psalm 56:8
New International Version (NIV)
Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record?

1 Peter 5:7 
King James Version (KJV)
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Matthew 25:40
New International Version (NIV)
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.’

Luke 6:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, October 21, 2019

Ordinary People Can Perform Extraordinary Work

Many of us have grown up enjoying superheroes such as the X-men, Superman, the Flash, and Green Lantern.  Whenever crises broke forth, these ordinary looking people could suddenly change into super human heroes, correctly assess the problem, defeat the bad guys, and assure any victims that they were safe.  Personally, I was partial to the Green Lantern, but that is another story.

Unlike these fictional characters, in the Bible, God called forth ordinary people and gave them power to do extraordinary things. Samson defeated thousands of Philistines with his divine strength. Gideon defeated thousands of the enemy with just three hundred soldiers.  The Children of Israel were able to defeat the most powerful army in the known world when God destroyed their army in the Red Sea.

The Bible tells us that we ordinary people are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).  It does not matter the force that comes against those who love God, if God is for us no one can stand against us (Romans 8:31).  Even if our enemies have atomic bombs, laser beams, or biological weapons, the Bible says that no weapon that forms against us shall succeed (Isaiah 54:17).

We don’t battle against evil cartoon villains twirling their mustaches with designs on world domination, but we have a much more powerful adversary, the devil, who goes about seeking any and everyone to destroy.  However, God has given us mighty weapons to defeat him (2 Corinthians 10:4) and He assures us that He lives in us and is much more powerful that the evil one (1 John 4:4).

While the devil and demonic forces are trying to destroy God’s work in our lives, He promised that He has given us everything that we need to accomplish His will (2 Peter 1:3). As He works with us, let those of us who love God allow Him to perform His extraordinary work through us ordinary people.

Ephesians 2:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Philippians 4:13
King James Version (KJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Romans 8:31
New International Version (NIV)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

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.

2 Corinthians 10:4
New International Version (NIV)
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds

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 Peter 1:3
New International Version (NIV)
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, October 14, 2019

To Err Is Human, To Forgive Divine

“All people commit sins and make mistakes. God forgives them, and people are acting in a godlike (divine) way when they forgive. This saying is from 'An Essay on Criticism,' by Alexander Pope."   Recently, a former policewoman, Amber Guyger, was found guilty of murdering an innocent man, 26 year old Botham Jean. There has been a lot of criticism of the judge, the court personnel, the victim’s brother and her overall positive treatment.

Yet the Bible says that all have sinned and come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).  Although we may declare that we have and never would do anything as heinous as this, God declares that any and all wrongdoing is sin (1 John 5:17a). In spite of the world’s continued disobedience to Him, God loved the world so much that gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for all of our sins, past, present and future (John 3:16). 

While many angry words have been said over this case, the Bible tells us to go in another direction. We are to rid ourselves of bitterness and anger (Ephesians 4:31).  We are instead to be kind and compassionate and forgiving each other as Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). Let us forgive each other, even the persons in this courtroom, since Christ has already forgiven us for all of our disobedience to God.

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

1 John 5:17a
New International Version (NIV)
17 All wrongdoing is sin, …

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.

Ephesians 4:31, 32
New International Version (NIV)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, October 7, 2019

It Is All Right; It Is OK

Shirley Caesar and Anthony Hamilton sing a song entitled, “It's Alright, It's O.K.”  Some of the lyrics are, “It's alright, it's O.k. Don't you let your troubles get in the way. Just believe and have faith. Know that He's with you every day.”  This attitude is very easy when all is right in your world and your troubles are minor. However, it can be more difficult when we find there is no clear way out from our problems. Nevertheless, we can rest knowing that God is with us all of the time.

The Bible says that when the enemy comes at you, like a flood God will drive it away (Isaiah 59:19).  It is so good to know this in the bad times and the good times. God does not want us to worry.  You may have become sick or received devastating news from a family member. Even so, you should simply believe and have faith knowing that God will accompany you when you go through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).

In your life, the painful feeling may not go away.  The bill collectors will continue to call. The nagging possibility that your relationship has come to an end can cause you to worry.  But it’s all right; it’s ok.  There is a brighter day in your future. Even if you never reach your goals, God always hears your requests in his will and since he hears you, He will answer you (1 John 5:14-15).  

Let us remember that the great God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords wants us to know that while others may come and go, He is with us every day. 

Isaiah 59:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along

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

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