Saturday, March 30, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, March 30, 2024

God Is In Charge of This Election

 

In this election year when distortions, deceptions, and distractions drown out truth, we may ask what kind of leaders we should have in office.  If one needs wisdom about our choices, the Bible says to ask God (James 1:5).  The Bible established the criteria for God’s kind of ruler.   It says that the leader must judge with justice and righteousness.  The leader must defend the afflicted, save needy children, and must crush the oppressor (Psalm 72:1-4, 7) so that the people can prosper. 

 

We have a responsibility in this tumultuous election season. The Bible tells us that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for the kings and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).  If we do not pray for them, we should not be surprised that the temptations of leadership may lead them astray. 

 

We can complain about the leadership, or we can talk to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Millions of dollars will be spent in this crucial election, but the outcome depends upon God who will raise up some and put down others (Psalm 75:6-7).

 

Let us pray, protest, write letters, and support those leaders that God has chosen.  To do this we must vigorously seek the face of God that He may send us His leaders.  Let us also ask for wisdom that that we will recognize their worth when they arise.

 

1 Timothy 2:1-4

New International Version

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 

for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

 

Psalm 72:1-4, 7

New International Version

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.

2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.

3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.

4 May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

7 In his days may the righteous flourish and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

 

Psalm 75:6-7

New International Version

6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.

7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, March 24, 2024

Our Secret Place

 

On Mar 22, 2024, the Associated Press wrote an article entitled, Russia Says 115 Killed In Concert Hall Raid; Islamic State Group Claims Responsibility.  Even though Russia is a controlled society where real dissent is not tolerated, this attack still took place. In the world, there is no safe hiding place.

 

However, in God, there is a secret place. This is your refuge where you can hide, protected from the attacks from outside. The Bible tells us that those who are in God’s secret place can rest in His shadow (Psalm 91:1).  When we know that God is protecting us, our perspective about world events, personal crises, and unexpected events changes.  

 

Even our language changes when we can say that God, not man, is our refuge, our fortress, and our God that we can trust as a deliverer (Psalm (91:2, 3). Challenges will still severely impact those who love the Lord. Indeed, the Bible says that the righteous have many challenges, but He delivers them out of them all (Psalm 34:19).

 

He is a very present help in our trouble (Psalm 46:1).  He tells us that we do not have to be afraid of nightly terrors or daytime horrors (Psalm 91:5, 6).  This is not to say that the righteous will not suffer but the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords tells us that He will be with us (Psalm 91:15).

 

We live in an uncertain world.  That is why we need the protection, peace, and hope of a relationship with the God that can do anything.  Rather than man’s temporary and uncertain shelter, let us seek God’s eternal protection in His secret place. 

 

Psalm 91:1-3

New International Version

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence

 

Psalm 34:19

New International Version

19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

 

Psalm 46:1

King James Version

46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble

 

Psalm 91:5, 6

New International Version
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

 

Psalm 91:15

New International Version
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

 

 

 

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, March 16, 2024

God Has The Final Word

 

In an article published by The Hill on 3/13/24, Tara Suter wrote an article entitled, “Russia ready to use nuclear weapons if sovereignty is threatened: Putin.”  Since many nations are supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russia, this comment seems terrifying.  The use of nuclear weapons and their retaliatory escalation could then lead to the end of the world.

 

In the Bible Jesus’ disciples also were concerned about the end of the age and they asked Jesus about what would happen (Matthew 24:2).  He said that people would increase in wickedness, but those who stand firm, not temporarily, not from time to time, but to the end would be saved. What should those who love the Lord do?  He emphasized that the Good News of His salvation would be shared all over the world before the end comes (Matthew 24:12-14).

 

Those who love the Lord should not  put our faith and trust in our political leaders, academicians, ecclesiastical leadership, or social influencers.  We should look to Jesus who began and will mature our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  We should be supportive of and join those who are sharing the Gospel at home and abroad.  The end of the world will not be determined by worldly rulers, but it will be determined in God’s timetable.  

 

Let’s not be anxious about threats to our safety or livelihood. Let’s decide to follow Jesus’ directive to go into all the world discipling mankind to believe and obey Him (Mark 16:15-16).  Despite their pretentions, mankind can only go so far as God allows us to go.  Let us pray for mankind to turn to God. We must remember that God raises up leadership and disposes of others and He alone knows the time and the seasons for all things (Daniel 2:20-22).

 

Matthew 24:2, 12-14

New International Version

2 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 
13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come

 

Hebrews 12:2

New International Version

2 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.

 

Mark 16:15-16

New King James Version

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 

16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

 

Daniel 2:20-22

New International Version

20 and said “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.

21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Pastor's Pondering, March 9, 2024

We Really Need God’s Direction in 2024

 

In 2024, the United States of America is engaged in a high-stakes election where the vision of this country will determine the future. We must get past the rhetoric about who will have bragging rights for the next few years, get serious, and seek God.  Whatever one’s political persuasion, people are dying at home and abroad.  However, many seem more focused on their group’s talking points and less about what is good for the overall country (Isaiah 5:20, 21).

 

What is God saying about this election?  Most will argue that God is on their side. Notwithstanding, this is what the Bible says. As the children of Israel approached Jericho, Joshua saw an armed man whom many commenters say was Jesus. He asked the armed man on whose side was He.  The armed man said, ““Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

 

Joshua understood quickly that he had had to get on the Lord’s side and responded,“What message does my Lord have for his servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14). This is what our leaders, followers, and all of those in between must say during 2024.  What is God truly saying?  He may not be saying what we think He is saying to support our agenda. The Bible tells us that the Spirit of Truth will give us direction (John 16:13).  God advises us to ask for His wisdom (James 1:5).  God promised to guide our steps (Psalm 32:8).

 

It is long past time for posturing. Now is the time to pray. We need to stop arguing with each other and start entreating God. We must cease looking to our own interests and to look to Jesus who began and will mature our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  Since we really need God’s direction, let us not depend upon temporary worldly leadership, but implore His eternal leadership.

 

Isaiah 5:20, 21
New International Version

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.

 

Joshua 5:13-14

New International Version

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

 

John 16:13

New International Version

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.

 

James 1:5

New International Version

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

 

Psalm 32:8

New International Version

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

 

Hebrews 12:2

New International Version

2 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.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, February 17, 2024

We Become What We Look At

 

Jon Bloom a writer for the website “Desiring God”, on July 1, 2007, wrote an article entitled Learn From Darwin, We Become What We Behold.  He wrote, “We condition our minds to value whatever we watch and study and contemplate the most. … we become what we behold. What absorbs our interest, what we give our attention to most, shapes our thinking and trains our affections.”

 

For those who have spent their time studying God’s word, practicing holiness, and trying to become like God, this is great news.  We have been looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Those of us who love the Lord know that He began a good work in us. We are His workmanship, and He will continue to work in us until He returns (Philippians 1:6).  We know that we are changed in the presence of God to become more and more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). Great news!

 

However, those of us who have not looked to Jesus, but have returned to focus on the seductive evil of the world, the weak and miserable forces (Galatians 4:9), may be concerned.  Since we may have focused on fleshly things, the lusts of the world and the pride of life, we may be afraid that we will receive destruction at the Day of Judgment (Galatians 6:8).  What can we do?

 

Thank God there is hope for us!  In the Bible, King David turned away from God when he committed adultery and murder. After these grievous sins, he made a firm decision that he would set no evil thing in front of his eyes (Psalm 101:3). He decided further that he would have his eyes look straight forward, would carefully consider the paths in life he was taking, and would not turn to the left or right (Proverbs 4:25-27).  The Bible lets us know that God will give us a way to escape any temptation that may come our way (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

Let us decide that from now on, we will turn our eyes away from entertaining temptations of the world and focus on the word of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Let us allow Him to change us to become blessed, prosperous, healed, and holy, and able to resist any devilish desires.  Let us look to Jesus Christ and become just like Him.

 

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.

 

Philippians 1:6 

New International Version (NIV)

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 

New International Version (NIV)

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

Galatians 4:9 

New International Version (NIV)

But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

 

Galatians 6:8 

New International Version (NIV)

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

 

Psalm 101:3 

New International Version (NIV)

I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.

 

Proverbs 4:25-27 

New International Version (NIV)

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 

New International Version (NIV)

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. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, February 9, 2024

God Brings Clarity In Turmoil

 

Those who are observing our current political turmoil may rejoice or despair depending upon their political leanings.  The Bible says when the wicked are in power people mourn (Proverbs 29:2).  What should we do?  The book of Nehemiah shares the thought that we all have done wrong and ought to turn back to God for His solution to our problems and to unite our country (Nehemiah 1:7-9).  

 

What should we do?  We must remember that whoever rises to power, and authority is not based upon opinion polls, political power, or even financial resources.  God controls who rises and who falls (Psalm 75:6-7).  We are not struggling against people, but against evil forces (Ephesians 6:12). 

 

What should we do?  We ought to always pray (Luke 18:1).  We can ask God for wisdom since He knows the future (James 1:5).  We can unite with others who love the Lord and ask for His leadings as to what we should do as a group knowing that He is there in our midst (Matthew 18:19-20). 

 

What should we do?  He may tell us to write petitions, vote as a block or as individuals, march in the streets, or otherwise protest. However, He could allow us to remember like He instructed King Jehoshaphat who was accosted by a large army.  He told him that the battle was the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:15).  Let us be patient; God will bring clarity to our turmoil.

 

Proverbs 29:2

New International Version

2 When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.

 

Nehemiah 1:7-9

New International Version
7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 
9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

 

Psalm 75:6-7

New International Version

6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.

7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

 

Ephesians 6:12

Amplified Bible

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.

 

Luke 18:1

New International Version

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

 

James 1:5

New International Version

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you

 

Matthew 18:19-20

New International Version

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

 

2 Chronicles 20:15, 22, 23

New International Version
15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s


 

 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Pastor's Pondering, February 3, 2024

Our Social Influencer is Christ

 

Some of us have been staring at social media and are concerned about who are the top influencers, who is going to win what award, or what the beautiful people are doing.  However, the Bible tells us to set our affection on things above rather than on short term things of the earth (Colossians 3:2).  It is crucial that we take the perspective that we are just passing through and we are not in love with this world system.  

 

The Bible tells us that we are not to love the world because everything in the world can be categorized as lust of the flesh and eyes, and pride of life. (1 John 2:15, 16). The Amplified version of this scripture says pride of life is the “[pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]

 

We like to think that our clothes, cars, or cash can insure us against the calamities of life so we hold onto them and like ostriches hide our heads in the sand, so we don’t have to think about problems. However, the world is quickly passing by (1 John 2:17).  Only the things that we do in obedience to Christ will last forever.

 

In a world that is only focused on the here and now, let us be examples of people who are thinking eternally by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. Those who love the Lord are striving to obey God’s word and are practicing living like Christ tells us to live.  We are in this world system, not of it.  We are like a ship in the ocean. Although the ship is sailing in the ocean it’s not technically a part of the ocean but simply passing through it.  It is time to live for God, resist our sinful desires, and look expectantly to Christ’s soon coming return to the earth. Let us allow God to be the greatest influencer in our lives.

 

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].

 

1 John 2:15-17

Amplified Bible

15 Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 

16 For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. 

17 The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.

 

 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, January 20, 2024

Life And Death Can Be Side By Side

 

Claire Rush and Gene Johnson wrote a powerful article in the Associated Press, January 18, 2024, entitled, “An Oregon Teen Saw 3 People Die After Sliding On Ice Into A Power Line. Then She Went To Help.” The article went on to say that “Majiah Washington noticed a flash outside her home after a dangerous storm coated Portland, Oregon, in ice.”  After a woman, her boyfriend and her brother had been electrocuted, Ms. Washington was able to save the baby who was lying on top of the electrocuted father.  

 

The part of the article that was amazing was that after the three had died and she had gotten the child, “Portland Fire and Rescue spokesman Rick Graves praised Washington for her heroism but confessed he didn’t understand how she and the baby weren’t also electrocuted.”  It may have been difficult for the spokesman to understand but we must know that God is still on His throne. 

 

It is awesome to know that God is watching over us.  We don’t know if the heroine knew the Lord or if she had people praying for her, but we must know that God’s eyes are in every place seeing everything (Proverbs 15:3) and He can do anything but fail (Luke 1:37).  Even during tragedies, God can show up and do great things. Knowing that God can do anything but fail, in the new year, let us go to Him.  Even though we are surrounded by tragedy, pain and suffering, we can pray to Him, and give our lives to Him because He cares for us and loves us (John 3:16).

 

Proverbs 15:3

New International Version

3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

 

Luke 1:37

New King James Version

37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

 

John 3:16

New International Version

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.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, January 13, 2024

Afraid Of The End?

 

Peter Turchina professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, predicts that the end of the world is near He uses historical and mathematical modeling to predict events and is well respected in his field.  In a recent article in Phys.Org, he described that because of increasing social unrest from “wealth inequality, stagnating well-being, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction,” America could risk implosion within the decade.

 

We have heard predictions of the world or societies ending before. Some have sound scientific theories and others have been quite far-fetched. Regardless of the theory or evidence, we can thank God that He will protect those who love Him (John 17:15-16).

 

At some point, each of our lives will be over but we do not need to live in fear. While God’s children may see the destruction that is coming upon the earth, the Bible says that it will not hurt them (Psalm 91:5-8).  The Bible also says because His children love him, He will rescue and protect them (Psalm 91:14).

 

While some will see physical death, Jesus promised that we would live with Him eternally (John 14:1-3).  Because of current trends, the professor’s arguments about our society collapsing may be convincing. But we know from God’s word that despite any personal, societal or global destruction that may be coming, He will never leave us, and He will not give up on us (Hebrews 13:5).  We can be comforted in His promises.

 

John 17:15-16
New International Version 

15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

 

Psalm 91:5-8

New International Version

5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked

 

Psalm 91:14

New International Version

14 Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

 

John 14:1-3
New International Version

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am

 

Hebrews 13:5
New International Version

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."

 

 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Pastor's Ponderings, January 6, 2024

Are Things Beginning To Change?

 

The Associated Press on National Public Radio, January 2, 2024 posted an article entitled, “Israel pulls thousands of troops from Gaza, a possible sign of scaled-back offensive”.  The article went on to say that it was a “step that could clear the way for a new long-term phase of lower-intensity fighting against the Hamas militant group.”  Many across the world have been arguing for, advocating for, and praying for a cease-fire in the region. Hopefully this is a sign that our prayers will be answered.

 

The Bible says that we should not look down upon small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).  The Bible further says that when God begins a good work in us, He can successfully complete it in the end (Philippians 1:6).

 

What small changes has God begun in your life in 2024?  It may not seem like much.  It may be the possibility of a raise or promotion.  It may be that there is a new treatment for an affliction in your body.  You may have awakened this morning realizing that you are still alive and that God is working in you to strengthen and motivate you to accomplish His will (Philippians 2:13).  You may have a bright new idea that may bring great opportunities to your family.

 

The year 2023 may have been disappointing in terms of goals missed, accomplishments failed, or objectives side stepped.  But let us look for the signs that things are turning around in our favor. God knows what He is planning for us even when things don’t look good.  He is working to help us prosper and give us hope and a future in Him (Jeremiah 29:11).  Whatever God has begun in us He will successfully complete.

 

Zechariah 4:10

New International Version

10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”

 

Philippians 1:6

New International Version

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

Philippians 2:13

New International Version

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

 

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version

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.