Thursday, March 23, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, March 23, 2023

We Live In Wonderful Times!


Dave Lawle recently wrote an article in the Axios website about the friendship that Chinese President Xi Jinping developing with Vladimir Putin. He went on to write that this “visit that also underscores Russia's reliance on China to keep its economy and war machine running.”  At the same time, we are preparing to indict a former US President for the first time in history and many predict extreme violence.  For those who are closely watching these and other momentous events, there are many indications that we are in the end times.


The Bible speaks of anguish, perplexity, and terror as the end of times approaches (Luke 21:25-26).  However, the worse things get in the world, those who love the Lord should be happy.   Why? because we are about to get our reward (Revelation 22:12).  We should lift our heads because we are about to get redeemed (Luke 21:28). The Bible tells us that despite the world’s worsening state, we have the privilege of sitting with Christ and being alive with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6).


Let us be happy!  What should we do? We should strengthen our limbs (Hebrews 12:12). We should keep focused on spiritual things (Colossians 3:2). As the end gets closer, let us get closer to the things of God to get His peace (Isaiah 26:3), His joy, His comfort, and His wisdom. Let us share the joy that we have despite world challenges with the world.


Luke 21:25, 26, 28

New International Version

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 

26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 

28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”


Revelation 22:12

New International Version

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.


Ephesians 2:5-6

New International Version

made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,


Hebrews 12:12

New International Version

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.


Colossians 3:2

Amplified Bible

Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].


Isaiah 26:3

Amplified Bible

3 “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, March 16, 2023

Let’s Claim Our Eternal Award


The 2023 Oscars have come and gone.  We have witnessed the “the joy of victory and the agony of defeat” popularized by Jim McKay in the 1974 ABC’s Wide World of Sport.  The whole world watched the beautifully coiffed and well-dressed inhabitants of the entertainment world.  Their every twitch, smile, frown, or words are grist for the mill of entertainment columns, discussions, and recriminations.  A fun time is had by a few.


While these happenings may seem life-changing, all the world is performing on a much more important stage for an audience of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The writer, William Shakespeare, alluded to this stage in the famous speech in the play As You Like It which begins 'All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players' (Act 2, Scene 7).


While the world focuses on the performers, the Bible says that we must give an account in eternity for everything that we have done (Romans 14:11, 12).  We may not all be trying to win worldwide acclaim for our performances, but the whole duty of all mankind is to reverence our Creator and obey His commands (Ecclesiastes 12:13).  We may not even like each other but we should remember the Golden Rule and do to everyone like we would want them to do to us.  Why?  Because eventually we must answer for everything we have done (Ecclesiastes 12:14).


This is what is so marvelous about our coming before God.  We would never be good enough to meet His standards since everyone has already failed.  He gives us the answer; simply accept His Son as Savior and you have already won the eternal prize by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Let’s spend our time pleasing the One that put us on the Earth and less time worrying about pleasing mankind.  God wants us to sit with Him in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6) and to receive His crowns for us.  Let us obey Him and tell anyone about Someone who wants to love, bless, and save everyone.


Romans 14:11, 12

New International Version

11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.


Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

New International Version

13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.


Ephesians 2:6

New International Version

6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,


Saturday, March 11, 2023

Pastor's Pondering, March 11, 2023

It’s Time for a “Check-in”

It has already been ten weeks since 2023 began; we are about one fifth of the way through this new year.  Have we kept our new year’s resolutions, or have we returned to the old ways of thinking and behaving?  The Bible tells us to forget those things that are behind us and to look to our future (Philippians 3:13-14).  


This year, many of us have decided to lose weight, join exercise programs, monitor our health, examine our finances, and accomplish other great plans.  We may have blueprints for how 2023 will work out. Are we making the best use of our time or are we hurtling toward a future of unresolved issues, unsolved problems, and unanswered questions?  The Bible tells us to make full use of every day (Ephesians 5:16-17).  You have been designed for this time. You have been placed in your situation to meet its unique needs.


God does not give you purpose without giving you the resources to handle it (2 Peter 1:3).  While many will say that their challenges are too much to bear, the Bible tells us that trouble comes to all (Job 14:1), temptations come to all (1 Corinthians 10:13) but God will always accompany us as we let Him into our lives (Psalm 23:4).


You may not have kept your resolutions to be all that you can be, but remember God has not forgotten you and He will give you everything you need to live a victorious life, a purposeful life, and a life that demonstrates His greatness.  So... let us take another look at our resolutions, check in with God, ask Him with sincerity about next steps, and know that He wants to be your life’s Comforter and guide for 2023 (Psalm 119:105).


Philippians 3:13-14

New International Version

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Ephesians 5:16-17

New International Version

16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.


2 Peter 1:3

New International Version

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.


Job 14:1

New International Version

1 “Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.


1 Corinthians 10:13

New International Version

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.


Psalm 23:4

New International Version

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.


Psalm 119:105

New International Version

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.


Saturday, March 4, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, March 4, 2023

Walking In God’s Purpose

On August 17, 2013, almost ten years ago and almost 500 posts, we began Pastor’s Ponderings.  The first few lines were…


Recently, I have had a major lifestyle change. Because of my youngest daughter’s encouragement, I have begun to run three- and six-mile races. Until I started racing, my past runs were limited to running to the refrigerator. Now I am eagerly preparing for a 13.1-mile half-marathon race this fall.


It is amazing how time has flown since that first blog.  At each milestone in life, one should rest, remember, reevaluate, and establish a roadmap for the future.  One thing that is so clear is that despite our failures and successes, only what we do for Christ will last (2 Corinthians 4:18). Why? Because at the end of life, we must all appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).


One of the things I feel led to do by God is to pastor the Sanctuary Gospel Center Church and another is to weekly write Pastor’s Ponderings. The list of those receiving and forwarding Pastor’s Ponderings has grown over the years. Our words have been a part of their life and hopefully it has helped them to see Christ.  


God has called us to His purpose (Psalm 57:2).  He wants us to learn to do good and help the helpless and hopeless (Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 31:8-9). Most of all He wants us to tell the Good News to all who don’t know His love in an intimate way (Mark 16:15-16). 


Everyone needs to know Him.  You may not be called to go overseas to the various countries of the world, but you can pray and support those who are called, tell the people you meet and know about Him and do whatever your hands find to do for God. Let your lifestyle be to do the works of the Creator who has sent us to do His will.


2 Corinthians 4:18

New King James Version

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.


2 Corinthians 5:10

New International Version

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.


Psalm 57:2

English Standard Version

2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.


Isaiah 1:17

New International Version

17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.


Proverbs 31:8-9

New International Version

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

9 Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.


Mark 16:15-16

New International Version

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.