Monday, April 29, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, April 29, 2019

Why Should We Do Good Work?

Edmund Burke, a statesman born in Dublin, as well as an author, orator, political theorist and philosopher, served as a member of parliament in London between 1766 and 1794. He wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” In other words, evil people need the rest of the world to allow them to do and say whatever they want without fear of consequences.  

Our history is replete with self-serving people who seemed to be motivated by whatever pleases them in the short run in spite of whoever is hurt by their actions.  But the Bible says that Jesus was born upon the earth to destroy the work of the evil one (1 John 3:8).  Those who love the Lord are the body of Christ and He has charged us with being a light in a dark world (Matthew 5:14).  We can bring hope to the hopeless, a kind word to an outcast, a piece of bread to the hungry, and a visit to those who are confined.

There are some businessmen who are blatantly violating environmental laws, human traffickers who are buying and selling souls, politicians who are selling favors, educators who are using their influence for self-gain and religious leaders who are contravening the Word of God.  Allen Kay wrote the powerful slogan, “If you see something, say something.”  When we see something that is obviously not right, we are obligated to share our concerns. The Bible states that we are ambassadors for Christ to defeat evil and to praise God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Let us take advantage of every opportunity that God gives us to be kind to those who are cast aside, to expose evil, to protest injustice, to organize, write letters to leaders or to assuage the hurts that evil people have imposed on the weak.  Let us be the good people who will do something to expose evil.  Let us shine our light on ungodly actions and glorify God in heaven (Matthew 5:15-16).

1 John 3:8
New International Version (NIV)
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

Matthew 5:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

2 Corinthians 5:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Matthew 5:15-16
New International Version (NIV)
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, April 22, 2019

Why Should We Fellowship?

As a member of an organized church during my childhood and as a church leader for the past forty years, I was dismayed to read the article entitled, “Church Membership Has Dropped Sharply Over The Past 2 Decades: Gallup.” Clearly something has happened to decrease interest in assembling and fellowshipping together to meet God and others who want to know more about Him. 

God commands us to assemble together (Hebrews 10:25). The Bible states that where two or three are gathered together in God’s name, He is there with them (Matthew 18:20). If He is there with them, He hears their various requests and will comply with their requests (1 John 5:14-15). This is not to say that every wish will be given to us, but the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord’s ears are open to our cries (Psalm 34:15).

The Bible says that where God is there is a great deal of joy (Psalm 16:11).  That joy from God is our strength to do what we are called to do (Nehemiah 8:10). Joshua stated that in spite of what others may decide to do, he and his family would serve God (Joshua 24:15).

Moreover, the church is a place that we can encourage one another toward good works as we live for God.  It is a locality where we can help motivate others, be inspired to become more like Christ, and receive instruction on how to more closely follow His commandments. We can allow the Holy Spirit to give insight into each other’s needs and can help them in challenging times. Perhaps the world has found other alternatives to church assembly, but obedience to God’s commandment is always the best way.  Let us see you at church! 

Hebrews 10:25
New International Version (NIV)
25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching

Matthew 18:20
New International Version (NIV)
20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

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.

Psalm 34:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;

Psalm 16:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Nehemiah 8:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joshua 24:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, …. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, April 15, 2019

God Has The Final Word

If you are like me and love to read and consume the news from multiple sources, you may be a bit suspicious of its reliability sometimes.  Often, it is difficult to observe social media without suspicions that it is unreliable or fake news. Hans-Bernd Brosius and Christina Peter wrote a book called Selective Exposure. They wrote, “The basic assumption in the study of selective exposure is that people expose themselves to external stimuli in a selective way. … people choose certain types of media content and avoid other types. …it is our common understanding that people can only be influenced by media messages to which they actually expose themselves.”  In other words, whenever anyone hears anything in the media in which they disagree, it is easy to declare that it is fake news. 

We live in a media age where it is often hard to know what is really true. The institutions that we have trusted to preserve our country’s values have been criticized as untrustworthy. Our newspapers, court system, police authority, government, and universities are no longer considered repositories of truth, but merely alternative realities of competing voices. 

The Bible says that in the last days people would say that evil things are good while calling good things evil (Isaiah 5:20-21).  However, we can be grateful that when we ask God, He gives us clarity and understanding of what is and is not true (John 16:13).  We do not have to waste our time trying to reason with unreasonable people (2 Timothy 2:14). We can ask God for wisdom to interpret the cacophony of opinions we hear (Proverbs 2:6). We can remain in God’s perfect peace because we are thinking about the Lord’s word and not about the conflicting information that bombards us daily (Isaiah 26:3).

Let us rejoice knowing that God’s truth will set us free from the bondage of mankind’s bizarre ideas (John 8:32).  We don’t have to fall for devilish arguments or lean to our own understanding.  In the midst of sensational and disturbing news, we can rely on the truth of God's word and know that He always has the final word.  

Isaiah 5:20-21
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.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

John 16:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

2 Timothy 2:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

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

Isaiah 26:3
New International Version (NIV)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

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

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, April 8, 2019

God Performs Miracles Today

Recently, my wife and went I out to dinner. I went to the restroom to wash my hands and apparently my wedding ring slid off.  When I returned to the table, I quickly noticed that the ring that I had worn for over forty years was gone.  I panicked.  When I shared my distress with my wife, she immediately said to return to the restroom. I followed her good advice and there on the trashcan, waiting to slip into the abyss of wet towels, my ring was sitting.  Needless to say, I was thrilled.

In great and small ways, God performs miracles in our lives (Matthew 19:26). The car that did not crash into us, the burglar that changed their mind, the employer that would have downsized us, but decided to give us another chance are all demonstrations of the power of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  We have to know that God is always behind the scenes working in our behalf and doing things that we could not possibly do for ourselves (Ephesians 3:20).  This is not to say that terrible things cannot happen to us, but we know that God is still in control and works for our good (Romans 8:28).  He is working in us for His good pleasure to fulfill His purpose in our lives (Philippians 2:13).

Let us remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and we can live our lives through Him who strengthens us to do so (Philippians 4:13). When others are speaking despair, we can share with them that He cares.  When others feel hopeless, we can share that our hope is in Him.  When others say that their life is cloudy and gray, we can witness that He is the light of our life and He wants to be the same for them. God is still working miracles!

Matthew 19:26
New International Version (NIV)
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Ephesians 3:20 
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,

Romans 8:28
Amplified Bible (AMP)
28 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

Philippians 2:13
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose

Nehemiah 8:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

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

Monday, April 1, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, April 1, 2019

Life’s Disruptions Are Godly Opportunities

Many times in our lives, events suddenly unfold with a terrifying swiftness that can destroy our sense of safety, security, and solace.  Whether its a phone call advising you to come to the hospital, a pink slip from your employer, a positive indicator of an incurable disease, or a mindless terrorist act, these life interruptions seem unfair and many times will lead to self-recriminations.

We live in an increasingly uncertain world where a single-minded evil entity is endeavoring to ensure that men will lose faith in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The devil wants fear to rule us, our faith in God to shrivel up, and our trust in God’s plan for our lives to wither away.  In the Bible, it is written that when people are saying they have peace and safety in their lives, sometimes destruction is waiting (1 Thessalonians 5:3).  Those who do not listen to Godly instruction find their life disrupted by devastation (Proverbs 29:1).

However, when God shows up suddenly, there is a disruption for good.  When Jesus was born the angels interrupted the shepherds day-to-day work and announced that the King had arrived (Luke 2:13-14).  When Paul and Silas were praying at midnight, God sent an earthquake, which freed all of those with them (Acts 16:26).  It is awesome to know that God is in charge of all of life’s disruptions and He will help us through them by guiding us in them (Isaiah 30:21).  He knows all about our challenges, but says that everything, even life disruptions, will work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

As we begin the second quarter of 2019, let us remember that things will disrupt our lives, but let us turn to Him in faith and obedience knowing that God will work it all out.

1 Thessalonians 5:3
New International Version (NIV)
While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Proverbs 29:1
New International Version (NIV)
29 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

Luke 2:13-14
New International Version (NIV)
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Acts 16:26
New International Version (NIV)
26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

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

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.