Monday, August 26, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, August 26, 2019

Living Our Best Life

A CW network program, “My Last Days” showcased brave participants living their final days as best as they could.  One of these awesome individuals, Claire Lucia Wineland, said, "Death is inevitable, but living a life that we are proud of, that is something we can control." Although she passed a week after a double lung transplant on August 26, 2018, her humor, her strong resolve, and her calmness in the face of possible death lives on.  

In the Bible, Paul shared a great perspective on his last days.  He said that he was torn between wanting to go with God and also wanting to stay to labor with those who love the Lord on this Earth (Philippians 1:22-24).  He was appreciating his current life with Christ, but knowing that he had something great waiting for him in heaven (Philippians 1:21). But in the end, he said that he had kept his faith, had finished his course and now was looking forward to receiving his reward (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  

In the Bible, Peter said it a little differently. He said he wanted only to fulfill the will of God in spite of life’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:1-2).  Like Peter, Martin Luther King said, “I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land...”  

Whatever we do, let us live our lives so that God will be well pleased. This is our duty; obeying His will and pleasing God in everything we do.

Philippians 1:22-24
New International Version (NIV)
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Philippians 1:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

2 Timothy 4:7-8
New International Version (NIV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

1 Peter 4:1-2
New International Version (NIV)
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 
As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, August 19, 2019

God Loves Us Without Reservation

“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.”  This is the title of a song dating back to slavery in America.  The song expressed pain and despair and demonstrates the hopelessness of a child who has been torn from her or his parents.  This song comes to mind when we heard about the article written by Mary Papenfuss in the August 17, 2019, Huffington Post.  The article was entitled, “Mississippi ICE Raids Separate Mom From Her Breastfeeding Baby Girl.”  The agony of the mother and the confusion of the child needing to be together must be overwhelming.

Just as that mother desperately wants to be with her child, God really wants to be with His children. God gave His only Son, Jesus, because of His love for us (John 3:16). Jesus went to die on the Cross-not because of obligation, but for the joy of it (Hebrews 12:2).  There is no love greater than to give one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). Even though we disobey, disrespect, and dishonor Him to follow our own minds (Luke 22:15), He still loves us.

Many around the country are working tirelessly to reunite families such as this one.   Although we pray that this mother will be reunited with her child, we know that despite what happens, her love for her child will never end.  Just like her love will never stop, God’s love for us will never stop.  He said that He would never leave us or forsake us even though we go through horrible times (Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalms 23:4).  God still loves us. 

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.

Hebrews 12:2
New International Version (NIV)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

John 15:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Luke 22:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

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.”

Psalm 23:4
New International Version (NIV)
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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Pastor's Pondering, August 12, 2019

Let Us Choose God Since He First Chose Us

On Thursday, August 8, 2019, Mayor Mike Duggan announced that our daughter, Denise Fair, has been appointed to be the Chief Public Health Officer for the City of Detroit.  Our family and her friends and co-workers have poured out their support of the Mayor’s choice and wished her the best for her appointment.  As her parents, my wife and I are especially pleased how the Lord has blessed the Mayor to select her out of many qualified candidates. 

It is good to know that she has been selected, but it is greater to know that He has chosen all of those who love the Lord (Ephesians 1:4).  We have been delivered from the power of darkness and are now in the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13).  One day we will stand before the throne of God and will hear, “Well done, the good and faithful servant.”  

King David wrote that he just wanted to be with God (Psalm 27:4) and would rather be simply a doorkeeper in God’s house than be with those who did not love Him (Psalm 84:10).  We are now left with a life changing choice.  The Bible tells us to choose whom we will serve.  The Children of Israel’s leader, Joshua, concluded that he and his house would serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).  Since God has chosen us before the world was begun, let us choose to love, serve, and obey Him all of our days.

Ephesians 1:4
New International Version (NIV)
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…

Colossians 1:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

Psalm 27:4
New International Version (NIV)
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 84:10 
New International Version (NIV)
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Joshua 24:15
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, August 5, 2019

Pastor's Ponderings, August 5, 2019

When Life Suddenly Changes

During this past week on July 28, 2019, I felt a sudden severe pain in my side. I thought it was a recurrence of kidney stones and went into the emergency room to confirm my diagnosis. Instead the ER doctor said I would need surgery today. Emergency surgery. 

Still reeling from this information, one might imagine my shock when the surgeon came in next and unemotionally informed me, “In a half an hour we are taking you to the operating room.”

It was great to have a praying wife right there who prayed and assured me things would be fine.  God blessed the surgeon, her staff, and the surgery. I am healing well although my plans to run a ten-mile race at the end of the month have sadly faded away.

We have to know that God will help us when life suddenly falls apart. When the enemy comes in our lives, He promised that He would overwhelm that enemy (Isaiah 59:19b).  When we are confused and stumbling about, God promised that He would be a lamp unto our feet and a light into our path (Psalm 119:105). We should fear no evil because He is with us (Psalm 23:4). He further promised to never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He is our guiding light that will direct us into a safe path.  He will keep those of us in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Things can suddenly change for us, our plane of life can suddenly go into a tailspin, but if we know where our true help comes from, we can be confident that our God will not waver, our heavenly mindset will not shake and God’s peace will rule our lives.  Man is of a few days and full of trouble (Job 14:1), but God has promised us that if we look to Him, He is a very present help even in the midst of any calamity (Psalm 46:1).

Isaiah 59:19b
Amplified Bible (AMP)
19…For He will come in like a narrow, rushing stream
Which the breath of the Lord drives [overwhelming the enemy].

Psalm 119:105
New International Version (NIV)
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 23:4
New International Version (NIV)
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

Hebrews 13:5
New International Version (NIV)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

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

Job 14:1
New International Version (NIV)
1“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.

Psalm 46:1
New International Version (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.