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

Stand Firm

Dear friends,
It has rained again. Our gauge showed very close to a half-inch, and we are thankful for it. We will not let up in praying for more, trusting the Lord to answer those prayers in His perfect timing. We visited Alex, Breanna and little Maria on Saturday. It was a good day, but we were glad to get back home after helping with some projects in their home. We are reminded again that we don’t have the staying power we used to have.

As we read the news, we are constantly reminded of the fact that the Christian values we grew up with have fallen out of favor with the current culture. Bible based truth is looked upon as outdated, old fashioned, out of step with reality and even man-made or racist.

There is a sharp dividing line between those who would proclaim the truth as seen in God’s word, and those who write it off as irrelevant to today’s society. In the modern mindset, those who stand by God’s word are increasingly on the “wrong side of history.” No matter the topic, if you proclaim God’s word as truth you are seen as being hopelessly out of the mainstream. To the world’s way of thinking, the truth is whatever the individual sees as truth. To them, absolute truth doesn’t exist.

I have shared these verses many times, and they never grow old or out of date: Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8).

Jesus, praying for his disciples said, “Sanctify them (believers) by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God says, “I the Lord, speak the truth, I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:29). Also, in Isaiah, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever’ (40:8).

We Christians must stand for the truth, no matter what the world may perceive as “truth”, even though we may be persecuted for it. In the words of Carl F. H. Henry; the alternatives are clear: either we return to the God of the Bible or perish in the pit of lawlessness.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Chasing the Wind

Dear friends,

We are experiencing some cooler weather for a change. As I write this, we have received a welcome rain shower. I show a mere twenty hundredths, but hey, it’s rain! We will continue to pray the Lord will send beneficial moisture. With the summer season winding down, life here at the lake is taking a more leisurely turn. It has been good to see folks enjoying a taste of lake living, especially the families with children.

Now for some devotional thoughts. This is from a few years back, when we were still watching television, but the message hasn’t changed. One of the newer advertisements on the tube was from an automobile company that will remain unnamed. Their slogan was “Dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit!”

One of the hallmarks of the culture of today is that many are dedicated to the “pursuit”, and have no vision of what they are pursuing. After all, I wonder, should there not be something to pursue? Most of us have some goal in mind as we go along our life’s journey. It may be only to provide food and shelter for our families, but there is something we are pursuing. The Bible has quite a bit to say about things that are important to pursue and those which are not worth chasing after.

Solomon wrote that many of the things people seek after are just chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14). Again he writes, “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his work is pain and grief, even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless (2:22-23).

At the end of the book, Solomon sums it up; “Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).

Jesus said, “But seek first His (God’s) kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Our slogan could then be “Dedicated to a life of serving God, liberty from the bondage of sin and the pursuit of godliness.”

In summary, God will provide all we need for this life and the next, if we will only put all our faith and trust in Him.

Reflecting on His Word,

Pastor Jerry

Faith and Trust

Dear friends,

The Labor Day weekend is winding down. A good number of people enjoyed life at the lake over the past few days, and from all indications they had an enjoyable time. It will seem rather quiet here in the neighborhood come Tuesday morning.

I would like to share some thoughts on trusting God in every aspect of our lives. As believers in the Lord Jesus our desire should be to live life by faith. We should be content with what he provides, not envying the possessions or lifestyles of others.

Do we look at a person who does not know the Lord, yet has material wealth in abundance and wish we had what he has? Instead, we should have sympathy for that person, knowing that all his possessions are of no value in light of eternity. When we covet these things, we are in essence saying that we don’t trust God to take care of us. Trust involves letting Him take complete control of our lives—this includes our thoughts, actions and possessions, including bank accounts and our souls—everything.

We are to trust God without reservation. This sounds like a lofty goal, but in His word, He tells us it can be done. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important that food, and the body more important that clothes” (Matthew 6:25)?

Trusting the Lord involves following His commands and letting Him have control. How is your trust level? Can you take time for Him in your busy times? How about letting Him take care of those cows while you attend Sunday worship or take off work early for mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting?

God says he will supply all our needs; does this not mean our time as well as our physical and spiritual needs? Are you trusting Him with the care of a prodigal child or the loved one with an incurable disease? Most importantly, have you trusted Him for your salvation, or are you trying to get to heaven on the merit of your own good works?

Remember, salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the way, the only way.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Consistency

Dear readers,
We have arrived at the end of another month. Next week is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. Football and volleyball seasons have begun, and schools are in session. We are still in need of rain, and continue to ask the Lord to provide. We ask, knowing that he is faithful to answer our prayers in his perfect timing.

Church attendance wanes in the summer. This is a proven fact, and there are many reasons given, but if we were truthful, I think we would have to admit to a degree of complacency. Scripture tells us the early church met daily for fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:4-7). The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

These are Jesus’ words concerning the faithful servant; “His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23)!

Today, it seems hard for the people of God to meet together for one hour on Sunday morning. What follows here are some thoughts I copied down many years ago, and I believe they are worth repeating.

Reflections on being a faithful Christian: If your car starts one time out of three, do you consider it reliable? If the paper carrier skips the Monday and Thursday editions, would they be missed? If you fail to come to work two or three times a month, would your boss call you a faithful worker? If your refrigerator quits for a day now and then, do you excuse it and say, “But it works most of the time?” If your water heater greets you with cold water one or two mornings a week, would you understand? If you miss a couple of mortgage payments in a year’s time, would your banker say, “Oh, well, ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?

If we are not consistent in attending corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, can we call ourselves faithful Christians?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Seeing Clearly

Dear friends,
We had a great weekend, grandson Alex and his fiancé and her little girl akibg with our grandson Ethan visited Saturday evening. Sunday morning, we traveled back “home” to Sybrant Community Church, then spent the afternoon with dear friends. Good times!

On a recent morning, I awoke to heavy fog over the lake. As the sun rose, and the fog began to lift, I was able to slowly see the trees and buildings more clearly. It reminded me of the process of coming to faith in God and his salvation.

When the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ begins to shine in our hearts, we get a glimpse of who He is, and why he came. It may be just a spark at first, but as we begin to respond to that spark the light will become brighter.

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ.

When Jesus healed a blind man as recorded in Mark’s gospel, he healed the man in two stages. After he had put saliva on the man’s eyes, he asked him what do you see? ” He answered, “I see people, they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes… then his eyes were opened and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:23-25). It was a process of learning to see clearly as his faith grew. Sight was there, but it was not complete.

In the words of the song writer,
“Just like a blind man, I wandered along.
Worries and fears I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight,
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.”

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ. Have you seen the light?

In His light,
Pastor Jerry

Speaking Truth

Dear friends,
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts each week. We have harvested a few tomatoes from the garden. There will be more in due time. Rain continues to be in short supply for many, and we need to be faithful in prayer for God to provide. It has been said we can’t control the weather, but we know the One who does. We must believe He will send rain in accordance with His perfect will.

Truth seems to be in short supply these days. Each day there are claims that this person or that is giving us the truth concerning the events of that day. The next day we hear a different story. Scripture reminds us that as we get closer to the return of Jesus Christ, fewer people will know the truth and some will even deny the truth.

Truths are not created; they exist. God is truth and He has always been truth; therefore, Jesus is the end of the search for truth. He is the revealed Truth of God. Jesus said of himself; “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Christians are to speak the truth always. Paul’s instructions to Timothy were, “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 4:2-5).

In other words, stay grounded in the truth of God’s word. Stand firm in the place He has called you to serve. Fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith. If you do this, you will receive God’s promised crown of righteousness on the day of Christ’s return. (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

For Truth,
Pastor Jerry

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