Pastor’s Ponderings

 

October 27, 2019

 “Truly God is good…to such as are pure in heart.” God’s goodness exceeds our capacity to understand. We may think we are good, or know a little about being good, but God’s goodness transcends anything we have ever known on this planet. While we deal with the limitations of a fallen world, God operates from the framework of perfect grace and complete holiness. The ways in which He acts are far superior to our feeble efforts. This verse is a challenge to live up to the call of the kingdom that we might be able to experience all that God in His perfection would do for those who love Him and serve Him honorably. As the Beatitudes say, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

 

October 20, 2019

 “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” When Isaiah saw God, He was high and lifted up; His glory filled the temple completely. This verse directs us to be always mindful of His glory and to be careful to render appropriate praise to Him. While we know He is always glorious, we are not necessarily always given to such observation. Worship is first a state of mind. Subsequently, it should be an act. Proper reverence toward God requires an active response to His presence, His goodness, His graciousness and His activity on our behalf. He is holy and that beauty is to be praised accordingly.

 

October 6, 2019

 “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” The purpose of deliberation is to speak thoughtfully and truthfully. When James counsels to be swift to hear and slow to speak, he is addressing the propensity of the human heart to act and speak rashly. Quick retorts are often ill-advised and woefully lacking in substance. That is a reflection of human nature. Wise speech is the product of careful consideration of the facts and emotion of a particular moment. We want our speech to represent God in an honorable way. We also want to take care that we do not influence a vulnerable person in a negative way. May the words we utter edify people and glorify God!

 

September 15, 2019

 “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.”  Humility is foundational to the walk of faith.  Obviously, no one is comparable to God.  We must recognize the distance between humans and the one true God.  Humility is a must if we are to receive His grace in our daily lives.  This verse avers that while God holds the proud at a distance the humble are welcome before Him.  He gladly helps those who maintain a healthy reverence for His glory.  Great is His grace!

August 25,02019

 “When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation.”  There is an old saying that says tough times never last, but tough people do.  There is much truth in that observation.  It is a given that we will have tough times in a fallen world.  The tribulation of which Jesus speaks is specifically addressed to the righteous and the challenges they will face.  The more we strive to be as God would have us, the more the difficulties mount.  The pertinent question?  What is left when trouble has passed?  Genuine faith, scriptural faith will carry us through.  We may be roughed up a bit, but the truth is that we are more than conquerors through Christ, our Lord.  Victory is ours when your trust remains anchored in Him.  Hang in there!

August 11, 2019

 “By faith we understand…”  This snippet from Hebrews 11:3 captures a very significant element of our faith journey.  The unbeliever clamors for ‘proof’; the scientist for evidence; the skeptic for a sign.  The believer stands on the word of the Lord.  The heart of repentance is humility.  Understanding will only come to those who are humble enough to trust in God.  We must come to the place where God’s word is enough.  Without such humility, pride will always drive us to a different conclusion than God.  Faith means trusting God even when the circumstances are persistently unfavorable.  He alone understands the course of life.

June 9, 2019

 “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” This verse clearly declares that prayer that is uninformed by scripture is a vain exercise. The primary point is that for prayer to be meaningful or effective, it must conform clearly to the tenets of scripture. That is how the rubric of ‘not my will, but thine be done’ is established in the mind of a believer. We must recognize prayer as the primary means by which we cooperate with the heart of God and the truth of God’s word. His will never leads us outside of the counsel of scripture. God does not desire anything that is inconsistent with His word. Those who live without regard for His truth can have no realistic expectation of His Help. His grace and mercy are profound, but He will ever violate His own truth. We must let the Word of God shape our thoughts so that our prayers may always honor Him.

April 28, 2019

 “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” God’s capabilities are never in doubt; nor His purpose in the lives of His people. When life seems to have taken a turn for the worse, we must not allow our heart to question the basic nature or character of God. He reveals Himself in the scriptures so we can be assured of His goodness and faithfulness. He knows our need before it occurs and answers us before we call on Him. His power is not diminished; His attentiveness is constant, His goodness is unchanging. In the face of such knowledge, we can rest completely in His grace!

March 31, 2019

 “When there is no counsel the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” This verse describes the value in the concept of a fellowship of believers. People are not designed to live life alone; nor are they truly capable of discerning the right path in life by their own understanding alone. The best chance of wisdom comes in the safety of a group of people who love God and truly desire to live by the counsel of His word. When we shun outside influence we are susceptible to self-interest in so many different ways. We need a framework of dependable people to guard against foolishness. One of the main purposes of a church is to have a multi-faceted ministry, with all of the gifts of the Spirit in operation, to give us a well-rounded point of view. We need to be responsive to the Spirit and to each other.

March 24, 2019

"O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing." One of the overarching needs of mankind is dependence on God. Because of the fall, our reasoning powers are suspect. When the Bible speaks of a multitude of counselors, it is indicating that we need to be very cautious about the process by which we make decisions. We must defer to the counsel of Scripture and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit for wisdom and prudence. Left to our own devices, we would almost certainly choose self-interest. We are to pray continually in order that the will of God might be done. As we exercise proper care, God will lead us in the right way.

March 10, 2019

“The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”  At the heart of faith is knowledge.  We often hear people talk about ‘blind’ faith.  There really is no such thing.  Real faith is built on the foundation of the eternal word of the everlasting God.  I may not have independent corroboration of the information, but God need not have anyone else verify His assertions.  When the world calls you to do other than that which scripture declares, that is a blind action.  The prudent heart always wants to act on truth, not emotion or outside influence.  We are only safe when our actions are based on that which God knows to be the correct course.  So the ear of the prudent person is always attuned to genuine knowledge.  It is to be sought as the element that sustains eternal life.  “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

February 17, 2019

"Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds." Two of the foundational elements of faith are mentioned in this verse. God's mercy is his disposition to show kindness when one does not have any claim to His help. Were God not merciful, no one would have hope of salvation. His compassion is essential to the work of redemption. Faithfulness is the utter reliability that He will do everything that He said He would. He has shown His kindness and will keep His promises!

February 10, 2019

“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”  There is no substitute for regard for God’s word.  You cannot know Him, love Him or serve Him without it.  We are not free to create our own image of God, we must receive Him as He reveals Himself.  His word, His inspired revelation of Himself to all of humanity is without peer.  The critical factor in judging one’s life is the measure of reverence that we hold for divine truth.  We do not measure ourselves against a human standard of behavior, we evaluate against His holy call and purpose.  Keep His words and your soul is safe.  Become careless and your future is in jeopardy.  Follow His ways and live!

January 20, 2019

 “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”  If you were to pick the one thing that you want from God, would this be it? To be in His presence and to behold His beauty clearly speaks to proximity. As we draw near to Him, the promise is that He will draw near to us. As we abide with Him, it is advisable that we ask of His wisdom, that we long for His advice. We must realize that the most important thing in our lives is His abiding presence.

January 13, 2019

“Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.”  This is part of a prayer for God’s favor, His help in time of trouble.  There is inherent recognition of the need for God’s gracious guidance as one works to navigate the trials of life.  The author asks that God would help him by granting understanding of His steadfast love and as a result, finding the righteous path through the test of his faith.  We will never survive by will-power alone; His grace is vital to success.

December 23, 2018

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.”  This verse suggests both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.  One, through the record of a birth; the other through reference to His purpose.  Jesus came into the world by the natural process of Mary giving birth; His conception speaks to His being born of God.  His life is woven into the lineage of David, but His origin is the essence of deity.  It becomes a ‘human’ birth, but He proceeds from the Father.  As Matthew records, He is to be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.  He is not just a son, He is the Son.  His flesh is so that He might fully empathize with the weakness of humanity; His deity is that He might fully deliver us from sin.  He was born that the rule of God might be established on the earth through the new birth.  He will come again to finish the work!

December 16, 2018

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.”  Salvation is what the Christmas season is all about.  It is abundantly clear that God has great interest in redeeming the human race.  Who could even conceive of a deity coming to earth as a human, let alone a baby?  For more than 30 years Jesus would endure the limitations of His own flesh as well as the failings of mankind as a whole.  His grace and strength in the face of such strictures represents the supreme example of humility.  Such a God deserves respect, honor and obedience.  His willingness to go to such lengths speaks to His strong desire.  He is our strength and our salvation.  He is Emmanuel-God with us.  Such is our song!

 

October 28, 2018

“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”  One of the most beneficial things you can do in life is to be an honest observer.  Anyone who will genuinely examine the events taking place in the world must admit that God’s word is being validated day after day.  The Bible is not a collection of dry, stale sayings.  It is a dynamic translator of all that is taking place in our world.  God’s grace, power and love are on display every day for those who are willing to rightly discern that which is eternally true.  God doesn’t drop in and out of life, He is an active participant.  He acts on behalf of the righteous and defends the honor of His name. He exercises wisdom and judgment for all to see and honor.  Our lives must be built on the proper foundation of His wonderful works and His living word. Selah!

October 21, 2018

"How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word." One of the most important aspects of reading the Bible is the cleansing work that takes place in the heart of the humble reader. When we embrace His teaching, it redeems us from the futile thinking of the world and changes our perception about meaningful living. The use of the word way instead of ways indicates that this is more than a correction of individual acts. It is an ongoing work at the core of our being. Cleansed by the word!

October 14, 2018

"Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness." One of the common traits for a wise person is a teachable spirit. That is a significant indicator of true humility. We must recognize that we have a limited sphere of understanding. Spiritual insight to deal with life issues comes as we continually rely on God for direction. His good(gracious) Spirit will strive to produce in us that which is needed to successfully navigate the dangerous pitfalls of a fallen world. His purpose is to build in us uprightness, a righteousness that keeps us on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. We must not allow the pride of life to keep us from inquiring as to the will of our Father. He earnestly desires to complete in us the work of His faithful Son. May His gracious truth prevail!

September 16, 2018

A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength..." Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. Truth must be rightly applied in the course of everyday living. It is important that we allow the scriptures to properly shape attitudes and feelings. If we know the truth, but do not utilize it properly, we are in no better position than one who does not. The point of this verse is that wisdom is the distinguishing characteristic. It will put us on a solid footing and will strengthen us in times of trial.

August 19, 2018

"You who fear the Lord, praise Him." One of the traits of a genuine believer is the capacity to worship God, even in the most challenging moments. It is not that we are out of touch with reality; it is because we are in touch with the Lord of all. Such worship demonstrates life is about more than personal comfort. It reflects a wisdom that comes from the profound impact of God's word in the human heart. Life is more than a record of the flesh and blood experiences we have while on this planet. With faith that comes by the word of God and strength that sustains us by the Holy Spirit, we are more than conquerors. He is the Lord of all!

August 5, 2018

"Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart..." Both old and new testaments make clear that there is only one foundation to a relationship with God. Truth will lead us to that one foundation-God's amazing grace. While the world sings the siren's song of tolerance, we must hold fast to the way that leads to the one true God! Only in His truth can we find the path to true righteousness.