The Better Way

Dear friends,
We have received almost .30” of rain early Sunday morning. The forecast is for the possibility of more, but we are thankful for what we have. After a warm week, we are having a couple of cooler days. This, too, is a blessing.

It saddens me to see that some Christians are following those who claim to predict the future. I do not believe this is what the Lord would want for His people. In His word, he warns against these practices.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable practices of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God… The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him… I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command Him. (Deuteronomy 18:9-15).

God’s people are to depend upon Him for their every need, and rely on His promises to care for them in every situation. There are those who would say “but that was Old Testament teaching.” True, but much of God’s law remains in effect in the New Testament. The Ten Commandments have not been revoked; they are for all time. What is called God’s moral law is also just as true as when it was given.

To be involved in occult practices is to be unfaithful to the Lord. We are encouraged to listen to God’s prophets instead. The ultimate prophet of God is Jesus Christ—the One who spoke God’s words and who provides deliverance for His people. He is the better way; “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Contentment

Dear readers,
August has arrived, the month of fairs and students preparing to head back to school. Are you ready for another round of hot weather? Neither am I, but it seems we are about to experience that very thing. The garden continues to show promise of bounty to come. Cucumbers remain a steady part of our diet, but I’m looking forward to a change to tomatoes!

We live in uncertain times. I doubt that anyone would dispute this statement. I recall another time when uncertainty was the theme of our existence. It was shortly after I began my Christian life. During that time and in the years that followed, I learned to depend on God to provide for our daily provisions. I had begun to think I was pretty self-reliant, but He showed me I wasn’t the one in charge. It was a hard lesson, but a necessary one.

“Hebrews 13:5–6 reads, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (ESV). The author gives us a command to be content. And the power to do so comes from two things from Jesus.
First, the author says that Jesus has said that he will never leave nor forsake us. If we have God, there is nothing else we could be deprived of that would devastate us. But a lack of contentment reveals that we aren’t giving Jesus his proper weight.

Second, the author quotes a Psalm saying, “The Lord is our helper.” God loved us so much that he wouldn’t let death and hell or a cross keep him from rescuing us. And that same God promises to help us in all things. God has proven once and for all his willingness to help us.

Understanding these two things leads us to contentment. Are you content? Do you understand that in Christ, you can be satisfied with what you have because in him you have all you need?” [Devotional from J.D. Grear]

The apostle Paul, regarding his own situation said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.… I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Warning Signs

Dear friends,
According to the weather man, we will see a whole week of cooler temperatures. This is something we have all been waiting for. We went to O’Neill Saturday afternoon for a yard party, and the temperature on our vehicle display showed 102 degrees at one point. Much too hot for this old guy!

Over the last several months there had been an issue with our pickup tires losing air where the tire bead contacts the rim. There is a handy warning message on the dash display that shows the message “Low tire pressure”, when the pressure falls below a certain level. When this message would appear, I got in the habit of making a few short trips before I would take the time to inflate the tires to the proper level. After all, it was such a slow leak there was no hurry.

In time, we got to the point where those tires needed replacing, so we purchased a new set. Saturday, when I got the pickup out of the garage, there was the dreaded low tire pressure warning. My thought was I don’t have time for this, it will wait until tomorrow. Even so, I took time to look at the tires and to my surprise, one was very flat! There was a screw head protruding from the tire. Ignoring that warning would have resulted in having to buy another tire.

The Bible contains warning messages. It is not good to ignore them; in fact, ignoring the warnings God has given us in His Word will have eternal consequences.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:2).
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will (Hebrews 2:1-4).
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 12:15).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Hello friends,
It was another warm week. Our last good rain was a week ago, and we are ready for more. The heat is stressful for the cucumbers, but they are producing well with frequent watering. Small tomatoes are forming and we have been stocking up with bacon in anticipation of some BLT sandwiches! Disclaimer: Most of the work in this garden is done by my sweet wife.

Do you ever feel you are losing the battle against temptation? Here are some encouraging thoughts:
“As believers, we’ll struggle with indwelling sin for the rest of our lives. The greatest saints have experienced such bitter, unsuccessful struggles with sin, it almost drove them to despair. As the old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”

Proverbs 24:16 reads, “… for the righteous falls seven times and rises again …” (ESV). The righteous fall often, but they get back up, looking heavenward. Put another way, we struggle a lot, but the trajectory of our lives should point heavenward; our lives are a cry for God to change our hearts.

But there are some who seem to just be going through the motions, participating in church like it’s a club or social organization. They don’t have evidence of a desire for God or a supernatural change. They’re not concerned about living in community or using their gifts to serve the body of Christ. And they’re content in not growing. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever really experienced the gospel.

When you struggle, do you get back up again, repenting and believing in faith that God is who he says he is, faithful to save you? Or do you go through the motions, unconcerned with how you’re living your life? The faith that saves is the faith that endures.” [Pastor J.D. Grear]

Remember these words from the apostle Paul: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9).

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Whose Health?

Hello friends,
It was a busy Independence Day weekend here at the lake. There were lots of people, and the fireworks display didn’t disappoint. The several fund-raising events were well attended and much needed dollars were donated toward lake projects. A big thank you to all who volunteered or helped out in any way.

As mentioned in last week’s article, the new camper window arrived mid-week and has been installed. If I ever need to do this again, I have gained valuable experience on the subject. it was done with a minimum of personal injury and no ER visits were necessary.

After some very hot days, the mowing has slowed down a bit, however there have been a few timely rains so I expect the grass to keep growing. The garden is doing well, we have had cucumbers and it is just a matter of time until we are overrun with tomatoes; this is a good thing. I had hoped for the gardening bug to start fading away, but there are plans for a larger garden space for next year.

Abortion is being called health care by its supporters; what about the health of the unborn baby? Let’s talk about that. There is so much misinformation being tossed around on this subject, we must be able to present the truth. The Bible indicates the unborn is as much a person as one who is born and grows to maturity. There is no thought that this is not true.

In God’s law as given to Moses, we read this. “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” (Exodus 21:22-25).

While unintentional life-taking was not usually a capital offense, here it clearly was. Also, the unborn child is viewed in this passage as just as much a human being as its mother; the abortion of a fetus was considered murder. (Bible Knowledge Commentary on Exodus 21:22-25).

These verses are basic to the pro-life position on abortion for they indicate that the aborting of a fetus was equivalent to the murdering of the child. (Warren Wiersbe’s Commentary).

For the unborn,
Pastor Jerry

Freedom

Dear readers,
Camping at our grandson’s last week was uneventful, and we enjoyed our time with him. The excitement happened on the way home. First of all, the temperature was nearing 100 degrees when we left Mitchell Wednesday morning. We had a head-wind that was probably 25-30 mph, with higher gusts. Needless to say, we could almost see the fuel gauge in free-fall. After a late lunch in O’Neill, we fueled up and continued our trip home. At one point, I looked in the mirror and realized that a window had blown out of the camper. We were going down the road with a mini-blind sticking out of the opening. That window had issues when we bought the camper, and in hindsight I should have repaired it long ago.

Some folks will read this on July 4th, but others not until later in the week. I want to just reflect on the significance of the holiday, and what we celebrate. Our country is a republic; this means we have a representative government, as opposed to a monarchy, or a dictatorship. In this, we have freedoms that people in many other countries do not have.

One thing often forgotten is that with freedom comes responsibilities. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever one desires. As residents of a free country, we are to obey the laws, respect other people and their property, and be productive members of society.

As we speak of freedom in the context of a nation, we also look to the Bible for the freedom we have in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Faith in Jesus brings freedom from the penalty of sin and freedom from guilt. Paul writes of this in Romans 8:1-2, when he says, “Therefore no condemnation exists for those in Christ, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Beyond freedom from the penalty of sin, Paul also speaks of freedom from the power of sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to resist habitual disobedience. “For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.

Jesus said, “He (God the Father) has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18b).

Free in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Defend Life

Dear readers,
We are starting this week camping out in South Dakota. We are at Alex’s place for a visit, and will probably head back home Tuesday. As always, plans are subject to change at any moment. We are glad for some moderate temperatures, but could definitely use some nice rain.

The big news of the week by any measure, was the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. This is something that concerned Christians have prayed for and worked at for almost fifty years. Much has been said in recent days about the subject, so I will not argue the point in this article, except to point to Scripture.

The Bible places a high value on all human life, including that of the unborn. Bible teaching declares that life is a sacred, God given gift; “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). The gift includes the life of children; “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4).

God condemns those who take human life; “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13), “The Lord says; I will not relent for punishing the Amorites for three crimes, even four, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their territory” (Amos 1:13).

The development of unborn life is controlled by God; “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well” (Psalm 139:13-14).

In closing, we Christians will need to continue the effort to preserve life, not only in the unborn, but at all stages of life. “Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
“This is what the Lord says: Administer justice and righteousness… Don’t exploit or brutalize the resident alien, the fatherless, or the widow. Don’t shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3).

Lastly, pray for America, and pray for many to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

In truth,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Dear friends,
As we enter summer’s heat, prayers would be in order for some timely rains, specifically without hail or damaging winds. We have had enough of those for this year.

Have you heard any good news lately? It is hard to find good news these days if we look at the world and all that is taking place around us. It is easy, it seems, to focus on all the bad and overlook any positive reporting. Maybe it is a lack of good news, but it is possible we are looking in the wrong places.

There is good news in the Bible, much good news in fact. God called his creation good, but Adam sinned and brought judgment on man and on creation. In spite of this, God had a perfect plan to redeem both man and creation. He would provide a way for man’s sin-debt to be paid, leading to the salvation of sinful man and the restoration of the created world.

The plan God had for paying man’s penalty for sin would require a perfect sacrifice, which God himself would provide. That perfect sacrifice would be God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is good news.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world… I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was with two of his disciples, and as Jesus was passing by, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29-36).

More good news from a familiar passage: “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-19).

Good News!
Pastor Jerry

Word

Dear readers,
My teen bride and I passed another milestone in our life journey this past week. We celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary! I’m sure neither one of us could have imagined the many roads we would travel in those years, and the journey continues.

I’ve been thinking about the apparent confusion in our culture and the debate concerning gender identity. First of all, I believe if people were to read and understand what God has said concerning his plan for creation there would be no controversy. People have not only forgotten God, they have little knowledge of the Bible and what it teaches. I will go further and make this statement: There are great numbers of people who just don’t believe in the God of the Bible. They deny his existence, or see the Bible as a man-made document that has no bearing on our present situation.

The Scripture is not man-made; it is the Word of God as recorded by those to whom he gave it. “Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1 Peter 1:20-21).

In the creation account from Genesis, 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; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:27-28a). Jesus said this, “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female… For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.” (Mark 10:6-7).

Concerning the godlessness of his age, the apostle Paul wrote these words; “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 1:18-21).
The evidence is there. He has revealed his existence. Only believe.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Keep Watch

Dear readers,
In news not reported last week, we had a couple of things happen we weren’t expecting. First, our house air conditioner gave up the ghost. We were able to get a new one installed before the weather warmed up too much. It’s been a really long time since we slept with windows open and fans running. The other event was that our house/outdoor cat Miss Meow met her end. Apparently, she was too slow crossing the street. As an alley cat, she adopted us a couple of years ago, but never did get too comfortable with domestic life.

We went back to our old neighborhood Sunday. I was asked to provide pulpit supply at the church for the day. It is good to visit there occasionally, but where we are now is home. We do enjoy reconnecting with old friends now and then, just to catch up on events in their lives. It encourages me to know that we and all our Christian brothers and sisters will be together someday in heaven. As the song says, “What A Day That Will Be!”

As we observe the trajectory of the culture, I can’t help wondering if that day could be nearer than we
might imagine. I am reminded of the words of Scripture as recorded in Matthew’s gospel account; “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into” (Matthew 24:36-43).

Watching,
Pastor Jerry