Stewardship 101

Hello friends,
Our warm spell has ended for a time. We are now back to daytime high temps below the freezing point. I guess our ‘January thaw’ is over. On a positive note, it has been warm enough to melt much of our snow, although many drifts remain.

As I was reading some news headlines this week, I noticed a plea for volunteers to knit or crochet ‘nests’ for animals affected by the wildfires in Australia. Another headline referred to the need to remove all restrictions to the abortion of human babies. Does anyone see a problem here?

God created man to care for all of His creation. I take this to mean the earth and all creatures, including other humans, no matter their age or stage of development. It is a sad commentary on the brokenness of this world, when animal life takes precedence over the lives of human beings.

This is not a political issue, it is an issue of morality, and the sanctity of human life as the Creator intended. I am as much an animal lover as anyone, but in God’s creation plan, humans are stewards of the earth, its resources and all life. It should be obvious to anyone with even a minimal reading of God’s Word, that humans are responsible first of all, for human beings, and all other forms of life are subject to that stewardship. To place any other creature in a place over a human being is totally in opposition to our stewardship responsibility as God planned it, and as He outlined it in His Word.

“So God created them 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 1:27-28). “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3).

The sixth commandment; “Do not murder”, specifically prohibits murder, that is, any unauthorized killing of an individual. Abortion is also prohibited by this commandment, as the Bible clearly states that an unborn baby is a person.

The third Sunday of January is Right to Life Sunday. Join me in praying our country will turn back to God and respect all of His creation, especially those made in His image, at all stages of life.

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

A Word to the Nations

Hello friends,
Well, that was certainly some snow storm! I trust you were kept safe and warm while the snow and wind did their thing outdoors. My best estimate of snowfall here at beautiful Lake Ericson was 12 inches. With a wind gusting near 40 mph, there were some impressive drifts in the neighborhood. After the storm passed, we have had warmer temperatures with much melting of the snow. May it continue!

The world seems to move rapidly from one crisis to the next. One wonders, what will be the next thing to occupy the attention of mainstream and social media? We must not forget, in the midst of all the crises, that God is still on His throne and His perfect plan is still in place.

The world seeks solutions to all its problems in secular thinking and philosophy. The Christian knows the answer lies in trusting God and his Word. Here are words of warning and encouragement from Psalm 2.

Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain?
The rulers of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains”, they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

The message for the nations, and for individuals is very clear; serve the Lord with fear (respect and awe). Rejoice in his salvation. Give Jesus his proper place in your life, an all who trust (take refuge or shelter) in him will be blessed.

Standing on His promises,
Pastor Jerry

Resolutions

Dear friends,
Happy New Year! The next one of these devotional articles will be dated January, 2020. The presents will be opened and probably the excitement over new things will have begun to fade. it is the time of resolutions made and broken in the space of a few days, or weeks. As you made those resolutions, have you ever anticipated a new you? Good news! God has a plan; you can be a new creation. I am speaking of a spiritual transformation.

It starts with the realization that you are in need of a remake. Remember, God’s word tells us we are broken, and in need of Savior. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11).

A man named Nicodemus came to Jesus asking how to get right with God, and Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus was not speaking of physical birth, but a spiritual rebirth. He went on to say in effect, you cannot experience fellowship with God unless you believe Jesus is the way to salvation. “For God so loved the world that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” It is important to know this new creation is to show outer change as the result of an inner transformation, i.e., a new birth.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-14).

Perhaps at the dawning of a new year, we can resolve to accept God’s offer of a transformed life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the scripture says, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Here’s to a transformed life in 2020.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

It's Christmas Time

Hello friends,
I’m writing early this week, because of early copy deadlines. I’m trusting the system to get season’s greeting to you in a timely manner, so here goes!

Merry Christmas! It is that time again, the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior. The day may, or may not, reflect the actual time of year for the event, but at any rate, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as it was written in scripture, ‘just at the right time’.

The apostle John wrote in his gospel, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. The Word was Jesus, Son of God, the promised Messiah.

Isaiah prophesied His coming this way;
For to us a child is born, to us a child is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)>

The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Galatians chapter four; But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full right of sons. Galatians 4:4-5).

Finally, from Colossians 1:15-18… “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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

Our world today seems to be out of control, and we often wonder where it will all end. Take heart, God is in control. His plan will be brought to its completion. As we come to the end of the year, let’s remember, God’s got this.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Prepare Him Room

Hello friends,
We awoke this Sunday morning to several inches of new snow on the ground. We drove to Niobrara Saturday, to meet and have lunch with Alex, and except for being a bit chilly, it was a nice day. Last week, we made a trip to Grand Island to get a redo on a tire repair. We had it fixed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still losing air pressure. When the tire was fixed, the shop manager handed me the tire tester that I had left on the hood. The Lord looks out for the forgetful, too!

Speaking of the Lord’s provision for mankind, we are rapidly approaching Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of the Lord Jesus to a little town called Bethlehem. You recall the story… Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, only to find there was no place to stay, but in a stable (Luke 2:1-7). The inn-keeper has gotten a lot of negative publicity over the years for turning them away, but God was working out his plan for the Messiah to be born in humble surroundings.

We have no record of the conversation between the inn-keeper and Joseph. What if he had known who he was turning away, would he somehow make room for them? Sadly, today there are millions who are turning the Savior away, because they can find no room in their hearts for Jesus. Many Christians, I fear, sometimes get so caught up in the commercial aspect of the holiday, they forget the Reason for the season.

Years ago, there was a book written called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” In it the writer likened his heart to a home where Jesus wanted to live. The man went room-to-room through his “home”, and asked himself whether each one was fit for Jesus to visit. He found many things he needed to clean out before it was a proper dwelling for the Lord.

It is a sad fact that many today have no room for a Savior in their hearts, but I suspect most Christian hearts need a proper housecleaning from time to time. Do you remember the lyrics to the old Christmas carol? “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him Room.”

It is not too late to make room for Him.

Celebrating His coming,
Pastor Jerry

It's His Call

Dear friends,
Our Christmas lights and decorations are up and functioning, at least for now. We are slowly weeding out the old strings of lights that “were working when we put them away.” I am so grateful for the new LED lights that keep working year after year. We no longer put up a large tree in the house, just a small table-top version. In retrospect, it may have been easier to have a simple tree in the house, than to put up all the outdoor lights. Maybe it is my age, but there are times I yearn for the ‘old’ days.

Speaking of aging; many years ago, in a church service, the officiating pastor walked slowly to the front of the church using a walker. I wondered why he just didn’t give it up. Now that I am older, I can appreciate his determination. I also realize it is not an easy decision to step away from ministry. When God calls a man to preach, He dictates the terms. It is His call, after all. In doing God’s work, full retirement comes when He takes us to heaven. The apostle Paul said, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Here are some instructions to Christian workers, and I believe to all who claim the name of Jesus.
The words of Jesus; “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:5).
Paul’s instructions to Timothy were, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1Timothy 4:13). Also, Paul to Timothy; “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).

This doesn’t apply just to preachers and pastors. In the parable of the ten minas, Jesus told of a nobleman who gave his servants some coins and told them, ‘Engage in business until I come back’ (Luke 19:14). Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples in Matthew 28 were “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, and teach teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you until the end of the age.”

Until He returns,
Pastor Jerry

A Gentle Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly had a variety of weather conditions, lately. Our Thanksgiving plans were canceled in favor of staying home to wait for a better day. As of now, it seems it might wait until Christmas. Milrae and I spent a quiet day at home, but still enjoyed a meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberries, etc. I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Don’t blame the holidays, you were fat in August”, so there goes that excuse.

The Christmas lights are up at the lake, and are turned on each evening until just after Christmas. A stop at Lake Ericson should be on everyone’s agenda. There is always something new to see.

Something I would pray for this Christmas season, is some genuine civility in our cultural conversation. The angry woman exchanging insults with a white cat is somewhat amusing, but in reality, this is a picture of what is wrong with our discussion with those of differing opinions. No one appears willing to engage in uplifting conversation. God’s word contains many references to the importance of civil discourse.

Here are a few of note:
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10).
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23).
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:23)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Perhaps this should be our prayer at the beginning of any conversation: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry