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