Monday, June 24, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, June 24, 2019

Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” In the 1980 Star Wars movie, “The Empire Strikes Back,” Yoda mentors Luke who was attempting to raise a space ship off the ground.  Luke was caught between doing and not doing and did not have confidence in his ability to accomplish what seemed to be an impossible feat. Just like Luke, many of us face great challenges in life, which causes us to doubt our ability to achieve victory.

God has given us divine ability to accomplish anything that He has given us to do through His strength (Philippians 4:13). The Bible says that in everything we do, we should do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17).  We should do everything, not haphazardly or thoughtlessly, but we should do it as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).  

In Bishop T.D. Jakes latest book, “Soar,” he writes that some people in their sixties are at the funeral parlor door simply waiting for their turn.  They have decided that their time is up and they don’t have to do anything anymore.  But if we are breathing, God has given us purpose that we must continue to work (John 9:4).

We have to ask ourselves, what is God telling us to accomplish during our mission on earth.  Are we to start that business, complete that degree, run that marathon, make that new friend, plant that garden, or write that book?  We don’t have to simply try because the eternal God works effectively in us (Philippians 2:13). 

This week, let us begin by praying for wisdom and direction from God.  Then we can make a to do list of important tasks for our life.  We can continue with small steps and keep going until the task is done.  There is no try with God.  He wants to make our way prosperous in every area and have good success (Joshua 1:8).  Let us do God’s will in our life.

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

Colossians 3:17, 23
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.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

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.

Philippians 2:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Joshua 1:8
New International Version (NIV)
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, June 17, 2019

The Choice is Yours

God gives us a simple choice in life. The Bible declares on the one hand that there is a roaring lion, the evil one, an adversary and a thief who has been hanging around our lives waiting to destroy the mission on which God has sent us.  On the other hand, there is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who holds the universe in His hands, who died for all of our sins, but who assures us that we are accepted in the beloved.  

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses also gives the Israelites a stark contrast. They could serve God and live or serve idol gods and die (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19).  The choice of whom to serve seems clear, but few will choose God and most will choose the lifestyles of the temporarily passable, but permanently damned.

Why? The devil blinds most of our minds (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4).  The devil deceives us into making unwise choices to disobey God (2 Corinthians 11:3). We have not let Christ’s viewpoint dominate our thinking because we are focused on worldly concerns and not on Godly commandments.  However, God tells us to set our concern and affections upon things above and not on things of the earth (Colossians 3:2).

This is the same choice that we must make continually.  We can choose to serve the worldly system that seeks to only please oneself or we can choose to serve the true and living God who gives us His benefits everyday (Psalm 68:19).  Today, let us choose the straight gate and the narrow path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).  Let us decide that in spite of what your friends, family, or neighbors are doing, we will choose to serve God (Joshua 24:15). We are influencing those who are watching us choose life or death.  Let us choose life in God.

Deuteronomy 30:15, 19
New International Version (NIV)
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

2 Corinthians 4:3, 4 
New International Version (NIV)
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Corinthians 11:3
New International Version (NIV)
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Colossians 3:2
New International Version (NIV)
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Psalm 68:19
King James Version (KJV)
19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Matthew 7:13-14
New International Version (NIV)
13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

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, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Monday, June 10, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, June 10, 2019

My Steps Are Ordered

“If I Had to Do It All Over Again” was the name of a 1976 film.  The title is intriguing because some may consider what they would do if they could live life all over again.  What would we do? Where would we go? What would we invest in? Who would we let in our life? Who would we refuse to have any relationship?  What would our priorities be in our new life that we never considered in the past?  

In the study of Economics, there is a term called, “Opportunity Cost,” which means “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”  For example, you could have been an actor, but you chose to be a teacher.  You might have been a cellist, but you chose to be preacher.

We do not have to worry about paths not taken because the Bible says that God knows the thoughts that He thinks toward us in order to bring us to an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).  He is not shocked when we make bad decisions because He decrees that all things work together for the good for those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28).  Those who thought they made the wrong choice in life and are seeking a “do-over” should not worry because God declares that He makes the steps of a good man or woman firm so they will not fall (Psalm 37:23-24).  

We can comfort ourselves and any others who are experiencing buyers remorse over relationships not pursued, business decisions not made or opportunities not explored because God knew your days before you were born (Psalm 139:16).  

For those who are still convinced that their life is hopeless, their situation is dire, and they are slated for failure because of their bad decisions, there is still hope.  God said His compassions are renewed every morning because He is such a faithful and loving God (Lamentations 3:22-23). Everyday is a new day to obey an awesome God who gives us a fresh lease on life.  We can rejoice because we can live our life all over again every day in God.

Jeremiah 29:11
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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.

Psalm 37:23-24
New International Version (NIV)
23 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 139:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Lamentations 3:22-23
New International Version (NIV)
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, June 3, 2019

Celebrating 41 Years Of Marriage Through Commitment And Communication

On June 3, 2019, my wife, Jacquelyne and I will celebrate forty-one years of marriage.  It has been quite an adventure filled with memories that will last us a lifetime.  However, we feel that we have been very blessed despite the ups and downs, because we still feel God put us together.  

We made a commitment early in our marriage that God was to be the final arbiter of every disagreement by agreeing to clear any disputes with Him and each other before we went to sleep. We recognized that we had to personally sacrifice and compromise to make the marriage work.

As the husband, I wanted to treat my wife with consideration and respect so that our prayers are not hindered (1 Peter 3:7).  I also take the scripture seriously that I am to love Jacquelyne and to demonstrate this love by my willingness to give myself up for her.  This passage in Ephesians can be summarized by, “He who loves his wife loves himself”(Ephesians 5:25-28). 

Jacquelyne also believes the scriptures in that she should be submissive to me (1 Peter 3:1, 2).  Furthermore, she teaches that she should be submissive to her own husband in everything just as she does to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24).  The reason why this works in our household is that we also firmly believe the scripture that we are to submit ourselves to one and another (Ephesians 5:21). 

There are some areas that my wife is an expert in and I follow her lead.  As a powerful woman of God, Jacquelyne speaks as an oracle of God and I have been blessed with wisdom from the throne of God through her ministry.  She is organized, goal-oriented and serious.  I am so blessed to have her in my life.  

Again, we thank God for 41 years of marriage. We share these scriptures with you that have worked for us and hope that God will use them to be a blessing to those who want to have Him accompany, preserve, and defend them as they live lives together and submit to God.

1 Peter 3:7
New International Version (NIV)
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Ephesians 5:25-28
New International Version (NIV)
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself

1 Peter 3:1, 2
New International Version (NIV)
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 
when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

Ephesians 5:22-24
New International Version (NIV)
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.