A Secure Promise

Dear friends,
It has been a pleasant week, although a bit warmer than I would have liked. Some folks around the area received rain, but we were left high and dry, so to speak. The end of the week was nice, but I see warmer days in the forecast.

As I prepared to send out my article last Monday, I had a computer malfunction and almost lost the whole thing. As it turned out, I had emailed the article to the newspapers first, so I retrieved it from my sent email file, then copied and pasted it to email and my blogs. I will be taking my laptop to the computer repair place this week. Isn’t it interesting how computer dependent we have become?

I spoke at Grace Bible Church again Sunday, and thought I would share a portion of my message here. In our current time, it is good to be reminded that God is our help and strength. Psalm 90 is the basis for this devotional thought.

In verse one of the Psalm, we see that God alone is a place of divine shelter and protection for all those who take refuge in Him because He alone is eternal. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

In contrast to God, who has no beginning and no end, man is frail and fragile. They are like grass, which withers and dies. We are under God’s wrath because of sin, and life is hard because of Adam’s curse (verses 7-11).

Verses 12-17 consist of a prayer asking the Lord to help us live in the light of his mercy and grace. Asking him to teach us how to live wisely and to use the days he has given us for his glory, so that we may be glad and joyful all our days. In doing so, we will be going about the work he has established for us.

In the hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, the hymn writer penned these words;

“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home;
Under the shadow of your throne, your saints have dwelt secure,
Sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure.”

In a time of uncertainty, may we take shelter in His everlasting arms.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

The Lord Provides

Dear friends,
Our first camping adventure of the season is in the books. We took a different route than usual, due to someone’s refusal to heed good advice. We arrived at our destination anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. The campsites were muddy from recent rain, and I have renewed appreciation for my beloved Sandhills. On the return trip, a tire blew out on the camper about ten miles from home. With some assistance from a friend the tire was changed and it ended well.

The past few days we have experienced much warmer temperatures; some might say hot. With the southerly winds at play, we will soon be needing rain. I am glad the Lord is in charge of those things, and we can depend on Him to provide for us. The Scriptures give ample evidence of His sovereignty over all things in nature.

“How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hand with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach” (Job 36:26-33).

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. (Psalm 147:7-9)

“He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:10-14).

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

Hello all,
It’s been a busy Memorial Day weekend here at Lake Ericson, with camping, cooking outdoors, and families enjoying each other’s company. The boulevard was lined with U.S. flags as is the custom for important holidays. Thanks to those who helped with placing the flags this year.

I had the privilege of speaking at Grace Bible Church in Loup City on Sunday. I always enjoy my visits there. Here are some thoughts from my message Sunday morning concerning our need for times of remembering. Memorials were important to God as he addressed His people Israel. We think of the rainbow He set in the sky to remind them that he would never again send a devastating flood on the whole earth (Genesis 9:13). There were the twelve stones from the Jordan River that would remind Israel of the time they crossed on dry ground as they entered the Promised Land (Joshua 4:7).

In the New Testament the Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder of Christ’s sacrificial death and an encouragement of His future coming (1 Corinthians 11:25-26). All these memorials serve to proclaim the good news of what God has done.

Regarding our observance of Memorial Day, it is a day set aside to remember those who have died in service to their country. It is because of them that we have the freedoms we enjoy today. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorial services. Others spend the weekend at the lake or golf course, or partying with friends. However one spends the day, it is to be a somber recollection of the sacrifice of many to provide freedom for many others.

Over the years, I have stressed the need for Christian parents to leave a legacy of faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. No one should have to wonder if Mom or Dad knew the Lord at their passing. What comfort to know for sure that your parent is with the Lord!

One way to leave a memorial, or remembrance is to record our Christian witness. Share your salvation experience with your children. Teach them the way of salvation, and leave a written record of your journey to faith in God and in Jesus Christ. The best memorial you can leave your family is your testimony of God’s salvation and His work in your personal life.

in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Stay the Course

Hello friends,
We’ve had our share of cloudy weather lately, but Saturday got back to some sunshine. The weekends are getting busier, as people begin to enjoy summer at the lake. We are seeing increasing numbers of campers, and camping spaces may be already reserved for some weekends.

The garden is doing well after a few frosty mornings. The seeds that were planted have sprouted, and are breaking through the soil. After having the one zucchini damaged a bit by frost, we have three new ones to supplement it. If they all do well, we may be leaving squash in cars and on doorsteps. I will be attempting to set up an automatic watering system for the garden, so that we can take time for some short camping trips.

As I read and listen to my media sources, it is becoming more evident that there is increasing animosity toward those who would claim belief in the God of the Bible. We are shouted down in the public square, on social media, and even in some so-called religious circles. I believe we are seeing the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, as he told of a time when Christians would be persecuted and even killed for their faith. Persecution for God’s people is not new. It has been around for centuries, but in increasing measure as far as we in America are concerned.

Jesus spoke these words to His followers; “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:20-21).

Paul’s words to Timothy apply to Christians today: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it” (2 Timothy 3:12-14).

May we be able to say with Paul on the day of judgment, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). And finally, to hear the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21)!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Priority

Dear readers,
I believe the planting is done for this season, but that is not the final word. We had a few frosty mornings, but almost all the plants survived. The only possible casualty is the zucchini, but I will allow it to be replaced if necessary (insert smiley face). The Lord has seen fit to provide some needed moisture, and we will trust him to send more as needed.

I actually spent some time fishing last week. It has been awhile, and I realized this when I tried to open one of my tackle boxes. It sat on a shelf in the garage so long that it practically disintegrated at my touch! As far as catching any fish, I caught one small bass below the dam, and another slightly larger one in the lake proper. Both were released to bite/fight again another day.

Here is an observation I made a couple of weeks ago that reminds me of the need for parents to examine their priorities. Actually, the word should be priority since the word indicates there can really be only one, not multiples. So, what should be our one priority? According to scripture, it is to teach our children about God, the Bible, and their need for a Savior.

Recently on the news, I noticed parents were rushing to get their kids vaccinated for Covid19. It occurred to me they were in a hurry to protect them from something they might not have to deal with until they are older. At the same time, many of these parents are willing to let their children wait to make a decision on their salvation until they can decide for themselves. Where is the sense in that?

God’s instruction to parents, concerning his commands is this: “Teach them (His words) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Paul’s instruction to fathers is this; “Bring them (children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Our priority is always to secure our family members’ salvation by leading them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, whatever happens, whether by some virus, an accident or any other means, at death their destination is heaven.

A final thought; Put first things first, always.

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

What is Hope?

Dear friends,
There has been some spring planting going on here at our little slice of heaven. So far, we have enlarged one flower bed, planted some new shrubs, some flowers, and put a few tomato plants in the garden area. This is not my favorite kind of work, but it’s worth it to see the smile on my bride’s face when it is done. There are still some seeds to be planted in the raised beds, mostly beans and cucumbers. I did consent to one zucchini plant, which is a first for me. On a personal note, we also have one eggplant.

There seems to be an epidemic of hopelessness in our country. I don’t know if it is related to the stresses of the Covid19 pandemic, or a combination of causes, but I believe there is a solution to this attitude of hopelessness. Some might argue that there is no one answer to the problem, and they would probably be right. I can tell you from experience that placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go far toward combating the hopelessness that sometimes overwhelms our minds and bodies.

The idea of hope is often presented as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. True hope, as presented in the Bible, is a settled fact that something promised will come to pass. It can be described as trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Christians live in hope for two basic reasons. The first is because of what God has done in Christ. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The second reason is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).

Given the assurance of hope, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage. Christian hope is the gift of God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

From my own experience, I can testify to the truth of this hope we have in Christ Jesus. Christ is the answer to hopelessness, but sadly many people, particularly the young, haven’t heard of him. If you are feeling hopeless today, come to Jesus.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Creation Speaks… Listen

Dear friends,
Another week has flown by, and it is already May. The weather continues to be variable, moving between hot and cool, calm and windy, dry and damp. In the midst of all this flowers are blooming, as are the ornamental trees and wild plums. And, we are seeing pairs of geese with their newly hatched goslings.

I’m reminded of these verses from the Psalms; “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call” (Psalm 147:7-9).

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3).

There are many people in our world today who do not know God. It has always been so, but it seems those who will not acknowledge him are more antagonistic toward any talk of a righteous and just God. I believe the scriptures speak of this, and have warned us about times such as these. The evidence of a Creator is everywhere, but they refuse to believe their eyes.

I return to the book of Romans and read this; “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

The psalmist has written;
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one (Psalm 14:1-3).

I pray they see the truth, and come to Christ.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preparing for Battle

Dear friends,
It continues to be an unpredictable kind of spring. We go from nice warm days to frosty mornings. There have been periods of rain, snow and sunshine—all within a few minutes. The big project of the week was installing a new washing machine in the house. These things take longer than when we were younger, but still, it is satisfying to know it can be done. While we were in Grand Island picking up the washer we made a garden center stop, now there are things to plant in the yard. I attended our church association meeting Sunday. It was good to connect with other church leaders and encourage one another in our ministries.

Every day I am reminded that we are in a spiritual battle. It is a battle between good and evil; the people of God versus the forces loyal to Satan. The Bible tells us we have been provided with a full suit of armor with which to defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. We read of this in Ephesians 6:10-20. Verse 11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

These are the items of armor as listed in this passage: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

They are described this way; Truth counters the devils lies. We need to know the truth of the Bible. Righteousness is like armor on our chests, not self-righteousness but Christ’s righteousness given to us when we are saved. It will keep the devil’s forces from defeating us spiritually.
Peace is the peace of God that comes from trusting Him.
Faith allows us to deflect the temptations that come at us.
Salvation, described as a helmet gives us power to live as those who are delivered from the power and penalty of sin.
The word of God is the Bible, seen as a weapon designed for hand-to-hand combat. It is the word of God spoken, made effective by the Holy Spirit, to cut through the devil’s lies.

Clothing ourselves each day with this armor and connecting it all together with prayer gives the Christian the means by which we defeat our enemy. Pray also for other believers.

In Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Choose to Love

Dear friends,

Another April week has begun. There were showers this week that according to the old saying, should result in May flowers. But if the weather forecast is correct, those flowers may be delayed. My mom used to say, “spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?” The answer this year may be “They were Frozen!”

On Saturday, the lake community volunteers came together for the annual spring cleanup day. The efforts of all who participated were very much appreciated. One result of their labor is that the lake is now full. If you missed out on the fun and want to contribute, there are still some projects to do. Contact any board member for information.

It seems the news this past week has all been about people killing other people. We are tempted to ask, what is going on with people? I don’t have any wisdom on my own, but I do know from the Bible that it starts with what has become total disregard for the value of human life. All people are made in God’s image, according to His word. The Bible uses those exact words; “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27).

Later, when God gave the Ten Commandments, he said simply, “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21).

Paul reminds us of these commands in Romans 13; “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

It begins with understanding that all are created in the image of God, therefore every life has value. No one is to take the life of another human being, the exception being capital punishment, but that is not relevant to this conversation.

One other point is this; in addition to disregard for life, there is little or no respect for the property of others. Read the other commands listed above. This is where we must begin. Love one another.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
April is moving along as usual, bringing to mind the saying “Time waits for no man.” For instance, I had hoped to wait a few days to mow the lawn, but the grass had a different time schedule. We have not only mowed the first time this year, but flower beds have been cleaned and other preparations for summer are in the works.

The camper has been taken to the repair shop for some minor issues, and we hope to begin the new season soon. I was told we had to get the camping out of the way before time to start caring for the garden. Since I enjoy the produce as much as anyone, this sounds like a reasonable approach.

In case you have been wondering about our cat; be assured she has taken over our lives. She has learned to let us know when she wants to come in and when she wants out, and her dish never has enough food in it. As I write this, she is sleeping beside my chair.

As I observe the things going on in our world, I am continually reminded that many people have no concept of God or of his Word. The world is seeking answers for mankind’s problems in all the wrong places. Rather than finding out what God really says about the human condition, the world prefers to listen to false teachers and to follow ungodly leaders who deny the very existence of a Creator God.

I believe we are at the place Paul describes in his instructions to Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As we live in our world, may we be witnesses to God’s power and majesty, as we tell others of His love and his saving gospel. To Him be glory and praise forever!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry