Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 60 Worship over Worry – Part 1

Psalm 34:1-7 “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. 6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

Fear, worry and feelings of uncertainty are a very real part of our lives. For some you’re afraid of losing your job, or your health, or losing your finances. Maybe you’re afraid of not being accepted by others or maybe you’re just afraid of growing old. All of us have things that cause us to experience the emotion we call fear and the list of what causes fear is almost endless. As a result we try to take precautions to protect ourselves, we buy insurance policies and we install locks to protect the things we consider valuable, all because of fear. The real problem with fear is that it puts our circumstance between us and our creator where faith puts God our Father between us and our circumstances. Today we live in a world where many people allow themselves to be limited by their fears of hurt, disappointment or criticism. Praise affects and allows us to change our:

  • Perspective/ perceptions

Psalm 34 reminds us that by praising the Lord at all times we are lifted up above all fears. Praise helps us gain a new perspective. Praising in our predicament reminds us of God’s sovereignty, and that His power is greater than any problem. Praise helps us to focus on the promise, that Jesus has already overcome the world. Regardless of my reality there is always His resurrection power, sometimes God calms our storm but often He calms our heart in the storm. Sometimes fearful times are allowed to come in to our life to make us more compassionate, sensitive and caring toward others. Our problems give us the perspective we need in dealing with other peoples pain. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul wrote, “He comforts us in all our afflictions so that we are able to comfort those who are afflicted with the comfort we receive from God.” Our praise becomes the passage that allows others to proclaim God’s power over their pain.

  • Problems 

David sought the Lord for a solution for all of his troubles and found deliverance from all of his fears. The question is will we allow the Lord to deliver us from our fears by seeking Him as the solution to our concerns. Faith is choosing to focus on the Father when I would rather focus on the fear. Whenever we feel afraid we can turn to and trust God, He is the one who will provide whatever we need. He makes us adequate with His adequacy. He provides us with courage when we are feeling timid. He gives us the confidence to speak when we are unsure of what to say. He helps us face our obstacles with the assurance that we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength, Philippians 4:13. Problems can push us away from the provider or pull us closer.  Stop trying to deliver yourself with your own power, position or personality because the flesh will always fail. Instead allow the Lord to manifest His courage, confidence and compassion in you. 

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 59 The Debt of Love – Part 2

Romans 13:8-10

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Not only does Paul remind us of the Debt of Love but also the:

  • Discharge of Love

Paul says loving others is about what we do or do not do, not with how we feel. There is an important message here; loving others is a matter of action, not emotion. Loving others does not mean that we will always like others but that we will show them love in what we do and do not do. Paul is talking about agape love, unconditional love that is a choice to behave in a certain way. It is not necessarily because of feelings, but simply because it is right. Paul says that love fulfills the law and several specific commands from the Old Testament are quoted to substantiate this fact. The first four are from the Ten Commandments (Exodus. 20:13-15, 17) while the fifth is from the sacrificial law (Leviticus 19:18). Loving another means not commit adultery because such sinful defilement of a person shows disregard for another’s purity. Love highly values the virtue of others and will do nothing that is morally defiling. The same principle applies just as obviously to the person who would commit murder or who would steal. Love does not rob others of their life, their reputation, or their property. Coveting is an envious desire to possess what belongs to another and does not always have an outward manifestation, when we covet, sometimes God may be the only one, besides ourselves, who is aware of that sin. Love does not covet but instead is grateful for the gifts, abilities, talents, and blessings that others possess. Love has no part in any unrighteousness and there is something about doing the law of love that empowers us to live out a holy life while keeping us from focusing on the negative. God asks us to concentrate on the positive of loving our neighbor which fulfills the law rather than on the prohibitions or the negative events which break the law. Are the “do not’s” that break the law your focus or is it on fulfilling the obligations of love? The expression, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” merits an observation. It is easy to get the idea that self-love is wrong, but if this were the case it would be pointless to love our neighbors as ourselves. Even for those who have low self-esteem, they don’t willingly let themselves go hungry. They clothe themselves reasonably well and make sure there’s a roof over their heads. They try not to let themselves be cheated or injured and would even step up if someone tried to ruin their marriage. Paul is saying this is the kind of love we need to have for our neighbors. Do we see that our neighbors are adequately fed, clothed, and housed? Loving others as ourselves means to be actively working to see that other people’s needs are met, not just our own. It is also important to note that people who focus on others rather than on themselves rarely suffer from low self-esteem!

  • Design of Love

The major point of the paragraph is then repeated in the last part of verse 10. “Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law. When we see someone we owe money to, what dominates our thoughts? “I owe them money.” What if the same though came to mind when we met others “I owe him or her love.” Often this is not our thought pattern because we are either focused on ourselves or why that person doesn’t deserve love. Yet the truth is that Jesus paid our sin debt because we were flat broke and couldn’t. We have been loved so much by God that our lives should be an overflowing of our experience with Him. When we love others, we do not have to fear becoming empty ourselves because we are loving them through the overflow of the cross. As we extend God’s love to others, we not only make them the focus, we tell them that they are important. As we establish their dignity and importance we make them bigger. God’s design is for us to love one another, it is the basic principle of the Christian life. Who is God calling you to love, have you made that love payment recently?