Songs of the Season

Hello friends,
We got a break from the cold weather this week. This gave holiday travelers something else to be thankful for. Part of my week was taken up with installing a garage door opener. It was something of a challenge, due to some sketchy instructions and my inability to read between the lines of said instructions. After an email to customer service, and some good guess work, we can now open the door without getting out of the vehicle.

The radio stations have begun playing Christmas music, and oh how we need to hear the message of Christmas today! As we remember the coming of Jesus to earth, the season of advent, we are reminded anew of the promises of God regarding a Savior.

When I speak of Christmas music, I’m not thinking of Frosty, Rudolph, or Baby It’s Cold Outside. I am instead thinking of Hark the Herald Angels, O, Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night; songs with the real message of Christmas. Songs of hope and of the One who came to die for us, in order that we might be saved from the penalty of sin. This is Christmas.

How could we ever tire of hearing and singing of the advent of our Savior? How could we tire of the message of salvation through faith in His finished work on the cross? Read with me a part of the Christmas story.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-21).

Finally, in John 3:17 we read this: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Giving Thanks

Dear readers,
As I write this week’s article, it is sunny outside, but it certainly isn’t warm. We appear to be in for a cold spell, with little to no chance of moisture. The lake community continues to prepare for the second annual Trail of Lights. Reports are that the display will be bigger and better than last year. More info is available on the Lake Ericson Facebook page.

The Thanksgiving holiday is this Thursday. Some days it is hard to find things to be thankful for, but we can always be thankful for a good night’s sleep, and for a new day’s dawning. I sometimes wonder who do you thank if you don’t acknowledge God? If you don’t believe there is a God who is our provider, do you thank the government, or some good luck charm? Maybe you thank your lucky stars? How do you know which stars are lucky? Do four leafed clovers bring happiness or contentment to life?

From a biblical perspective, all we have comes from God Almighty. He is the creator and sustainer of the universe. Nothing exists that wasn’t put here by God, according to His perfect plan. It is He to whom we give thanks for every good and perfect gift. “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).

The prophet Isaiah reminds us to “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world (Isaiah 12:4-5).

Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16). Yes, even the government was created and put in place by the Creator God.

As the old familiar doxology says;
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above the heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Jerry

The Word of the Lord

Dear readers,

It seems cold weather is here to stay, at least for the next several days. Deer hunting season has arrived, and we are days away from Thanksgiving. Just beyond that is Christmas and the New Year. My, how time flies.

The election is over, and votes are still being counted in some places. There have been winners and losers, as is always the case. Whatever your viewpoint is in all of this, we can still be thankful to live in a country where we can make our choices in these matters. My prayer is that we might become united in our effort to make the United States an even better place to live. Perhaps an appropriate scripture would be Romans 12:3; “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

The divisiveness in our country these days is concerning. People are taking sides on issues that are in direct opposition to what the Bible says is right and just. Two things come to mind here: Number one, there are untold numbers of people that do not know what is written in God’s Word. There are more Bibles printed than ever before, yet most are on a shelf collecting dust.

The second is this, if those bibles are read, people only want to believe or accept the parts that appeal to them. It is like going into a cafeteria and selecting only the items you like and leaving the ones that you dislike. If we really believe the Bible is God’s unchanging word, then we would know that every word is there for a purpose. It has been said that the Bible will change our opinions, but our opinions will never change the Bible.

I love these words from Isaiah; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

In closing, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:34-25).

For Him,

Pastor Jerry

Be Grateful

Dear readers,
With the cooling of the weather pattern lately, I believe I can safely say that winter is coming closer. Not much exciting has happened at our place this week. We attended a party celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary Tuesday evening. There were just a few couples present, but it was a fun evening. There was much conversation and laughter, something we all need more of. An added bonus was the great variety of appetizers to sample. On the topic of lasting marriages, I heard this comment recently. A young man asked his father for some advice on marriage. Dad responded, “When you and your bride have an argument, and you are convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that you are right and she is wrong, just go ahead and be wrong.”

The next big holiday is Thanksgiving. I believe we are to be thankful on a daily basis for what we have. Each day is a gift, and we need to be aware of that fact. I was given a different perspective on this topic recently. It goes like this; What is your answer when people ask how you are? Most will say, “I’m doing okay”, or something similar. The answer as told to me is simply this; I am grateful!

Whether or not we understand it, everything we have is the result of God’s gracious provision. Here are some Bible verses that remind us to be both grateful and thankful for our blessings.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:8, 34). The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7).

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17). Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Praise is also a part of thankfulness; “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens… Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Your Vote Counts

Hello friends,
Rain! This week, we had a nice gentle rain. My gauge showed .40’ when it was over; not a huge amount, but very much appreciated. This is only the beginning of what we need to get back to normal. Now is not the time to ease up in asking the Lord to bless us with more moisture.

We started a project this week that has been waiting all summer for me to get motivated. When we had the big windstorm last spring, the outside pane on our entry door was broken. This defeats the purpose of an insulated door, so a new one was ordered. It stood on the porch for months, but has been installed just as the weather begins to cool off. Now to get the window replaced that was broken by an unidentified flying object; either a stick or a rock thrown by the mower.

Vehicle repairs were a part of our week, also. First, there was a new alternator in our pickup, then I found the battery was defective as well. I guess a ten-year-old battery has outlived expectations.

November 8 is election day. The most important thing we can do that day is to get out and vote. Much of what we see happening in our country won’t be solved politically, but we can vote for the candidates that hold to traditional Christian values. The real problem in our country is not political, it is spiritual. The citizens of America must turn back to God, and obey His commands.

These are God’s words to the prophet Zechariah, “The Lord was very angry with your forefathers. Therefore, tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you’, says the Lord Almighty. Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord….

“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.” (Zechariah 1:2-6).

Therefore, you kings (presidents, governors, mayors, senators, etc.), be wise; be warned you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:10-11).

God bless America,
Pastor Jerry

A Notable Event

Dear readers,
We still have no precipitation of any measure. Please continue to ask the Lord to send those soaking rains we so desperately need. We have cleaned up the garden in preparation for winter, and I was surprised to find the deer had eaten things I wouldn’t have expected; things like the tops of the tomato and pepper plants, along with rhubarb leaves. Who knew?

Saturday, we attended what is really a rare occasion; a 75th wedding anniversary. It was the celebration of a long lasting marriage, but also a time of visiting with old friends. We live in a time when it is becoming harder to find lasting marriage relationships. What a testimony of faithfulness to the marriage covenant! I am sure this couple would tell you it hasn’t always been easy, but obviously they took their marriage vows seriously.

Perhaps this would be a good time for a review of God’s plan for marriage and families. It started in the book of Genesis, as God was creating the world and everything in it. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” On the sixth day, God created all animal life, then we read: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number…” (Genesis 1:27-28a).

In chapter two, we read more of the creation of the man and woman. “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being… The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” … So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:7, 18, 20-24).

The longevity of this marriage is rare, and worthy of recognition. Congratulations, friends!

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Missing Link

Dear friends,
The wind has been the big weather topic this week. Everyone seems to be talking about the excess of wind and the absence of any meaningful rain event. At this time of year, any moisture may very well be of the frozen variety. I hesitate to use the ‘s’ word. At this point it doesn’t really matter what form it takes, it will be welcome. A recent issue of a daily newspaper had a page titled “Weather and Religion”. I was amused by those two topics being on the same page. It reminded me of the fact that there are weather forecasts, but God is the one who is in control of the weather.

Sunday, I was away from home in a neighboring church, filling in for their vacationing pastor. Before the service began, the following words appeared on the wall: No Signal (Help). It was telling the person at the keyboard that something was missing. What was missing? A connection between the computer and the projector.
Isn’t that a picture of our own lives? Occasionally, we feel disconnected from the Lord. There is a missing connection and we have lost the signal, so to speak. How do we reconnect to God? The answer; prayer and study of the Word. Consider the following passages of Scripture.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6). Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

Even when we don’t know what to pray, God’s Holy Spirit will take up our case. “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

Time spent in intentional Bible study, along with a consistent prayer life brings the Christian into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Lord. This will result in the knowledge that our connection to Him has been restored.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Aging

Dear friends,
The garden is done; the frost has had the last word. I wouldn’t consider it a fruitful season, except for the cucumbers and peppers. Tomatoes and green beans just couldn’t win. I’m sure there were several factors involved, including heat and drought. I suppose that much like zucchini, the neighbors were probably tired of seeing us coming to their doors with free cucumbers. They were gracious though, and accepted our offerings.

I am beginning to feel the changing of the season in the air. There is a chill in the air in the morning, the leaves are changing colors, with some starting to fall to the ground. The winds are becoming more northerly, and the birds are flocking together in preparation for migrating to a warmer climate.

Maybe it is because I just passed another milestone on my personal calendar that I am reminded of the seasons of life. Spring, when we are young, summer as we enjoy the middle years, autumn as we reach those golden years, and winter as we approach the end of our lives. It is a part of God’s plan for mankind.

The Bible speaks of aging in a generally positive light. It speaks of the wisdom of the aging: “Remember the days of old, consider the years of past generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will teach you” (Deuteronomy 31:7). “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life” (Job 12:12).

It speaks of the honor due the aging: “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:21).

The Bible also notes the continuing service of the aging believer; speaking of those who love God, it reads; “They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green,” (Psalm 92:14). Here is a promise from the Lord as we age; “I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Young and old each have their unique worth; they are not in competition. “The glory of young men is in their strength, and the splendor of old men is gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).

In His strength,
Pastor Jerry

It’s God’s Plan

Dear readers,
We have been enjoying the cooler weather, but the drought lingers on. The forecast is for possible precipitation mid-week. We’ll see if that prediction is true. The garden seems to be on its last leg. For whatever reason, the tomatoes just didn’t produce this year. Lately, the deer have been pruning the tomato and pepper plants. As with all agriculture endeavors–maybe next year!

I was able to attend our local church association meeting Sunday evening. It is exciting to hear what the Lord is doing through His churches in our part of the world. Small churches are making a difference in the lives of many in rural Nebraska.

I have been building a dog house, and no, it’s not for me as someone asked. This project has reminded me of the importance of having a plan with clear instructions. Making it up as you go along is harder than being prepared. The old adage is true; When all else fails read the directions. It is the same when planning for eternity. Getting to heaven on your own isn’t just hard, it’s impossible! You might build a dog house by your own effort and ability, but you can’t save yourself.

Regarding our salvation, there is no self-help guide. There is a plan, though. God has provided a way to eternal life and it has nothing to do with me doing it on my own. Salvation comes only by placing my faith in Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection. There is no plan B, no other way to God except through Christ our Lord. His instructions are plainly stated in the Bible.

The Bible says this, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus, when speaking to Nicodemus, said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Gone Fishing

Dear friends,

We have been enjoying some cooler temperatures, the only thing missing is a good soaking rain. I believe we will see those rains in due time, but we still need to be persistent in prayer that the Lord will send them. There is not much news on the home front, just a grocery shopping trip now and then.

The annual Lake Ericson fishing derby was held this past Saturday. After signing in, and after a pancake and sausage breakfast, the teams headed out to the lake. As I observed the preparations, I saw an illustration of what the church should look like. I’m speaking of the church as followers of Jesus, sent out into the world. The men and boys who entered the derby had come earlier in the week and spent time finding out where the fish were. On the day of the contest, they were prepared with the right tackle and a fair knowledge of the habits of the fish they intended to catch.

After breakfast, did they sit around talking about fishing? No, they got in their boats and went fishing. Catching fish is the reason they are fishermen. It would be silly to just sit around the table and tell fish stories.

Jesus gave his disciples instructions, using fishing as an illustration of what they were being sent to do.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:16-18).

Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

Christians are called to go, that is they are sent by their Lord to go out into the world and be his witnesses; to present the good news of salvation to all people, in order to bring them into His “boat”.

It is pointless for Christians to just sit around after church and talk about the need for evangelism. Let us go out and fish for those who need to hear of Jesus.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry