One Way

Dear readers,
After a very cool overnight temperature (28 degrees here), we had a beautiful Sunday. Let’s hope this was the last we see of frost until fall. Our new garden plants and flowers escaped any damage because someone (not me) covered them all the night before. On the topic of weather, it would be good if all God’s people continued to pray for rain, as many areas are still in need of beneficial rains.

I had the pleasure of speaking at Grace Bible Church in Loup City on Sunday, and the ladies who provide the music let me join in. We had a guitar trio… two acoustics and an electric bass. It is good when God’s people worship in song.

The message for Sunday focused on the need for Christians to know what they believe and why. To quote a well-known evangelical pastor, we need to “remember what we know.” A survey from 2021 found that nearly three-fourths of U.S. adults said they believe in heaven, but there was widespread disagreement about how to get there. Among all Americans, nearly 40 percent said heaven will be the home of those who do not even believe in God. Among those calling themselves Christians, 58 percent said there are multiple religions that can lead to heaven. (Pew Research Center, November 23, 2021).

Many preachers today are preaching from the culture, making their message acceptable to everyone. We need preachers to preach the Word of God that convicts people of their sin, in order to turn them to the Savior. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). It does not speak of many ways, nor any other “truth.” He also said this; Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13).

Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep…; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:7-9). Paul wrote, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Faith Is The Key

Dear friends,
The news this week was the big wind that blew through on Thursday. There was minimal damage to structures at the lake, but some trees were blown over. We were without power for a day or so, depending on location, but that has been restored. The power company still has much work to do, replacing broken poles and such. On a positive note, there were no injuries as far as I know. In a recent article I had commented on the power of the wind, obviously having no idea what was in store for us!

In other news, our middle grandson graduated from high school on Saturday. We’re proud of his accomplishments, and wish him much success in life. It was a good day and great day weather-wise; sunny and a light breeze, something we’ve not seen a lot of lately. With the recent rain and warm temperatures, lawn mowing is a priority, but I will probably tire of this job before the end of summer.

As the world seems to be spiraling out of control, I have to remind myself not to worry. God is in control. Even though it may seem He is asleep at the wheel, He is fully aware of our individual situations. Let us remember His words in scripture.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:23).
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

There is more: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).

Faith is the key. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Believing and trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

Elections Matter

Dear friends,
Isn’t it amazing how a little rain transforms the landscape and gives people a better outlook on life? Grass is growing, the flowering trees are in bloom, even the dandelions are a welcome sight after a long dry winter. Those recent rains were definitely an answer to many prayers. Let’s continue to thank the Lord for the blessing of rain.

Don’t forget to vote this Tuesday, May 10. It is our right as citizens to go to the polls and elect those who would represent us in the government. Pray that God would allow those in office who will stand for truth, and for biblical principles. Also, that those who do not know Him would see the light of His salvation, and be changed. Scripture commands us to pray for everyone. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings (governors and presidents included), that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Christians are called to acknowledge those in authority as sent by God. The apostle Paul wrote these words: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves. (Romans 13:1-2).

Those who lead will also be held accountable. “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings 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 make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession…
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:1-6, 8, 10-11).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Praising God

Dear readers,
Rain, wonderful rain! As of this writing, we had received 1.7 inches. It has been a long time since we have had meaningful moisture of any kind, and personally, I prefer rain to snow. This is an answer to many prayers over the last few months, especially in light of all the wildfires our state has experienced. I suspect there were many people out dancing in the rain. This blessing from God should be celebrated as such. May we break out in song like the psalmist.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared among all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Psalm 96:1-6.

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.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:7-11.

Praise the Lord, praise him in the heavens, praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations. Psalm 148:1-11.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Wind Power

Dear friends,
As I write, there are fires, wind and even a snowstorm happening in our great state. As the advertising says; it’s not for everyone… but here we are! I’m getting along in years, but I don’t remember ever having this amount of wind and little or no rain as a result.

Speaking of wind, the topic of every conversation these days; no one has ever seen the wind. We know it is real, because we can see the results of its work. We can see it turning a windmill to pump water into a stock tank for thirsty cows. The wind pushes sailboats across the water and lifts kites into the air. The wind can also cause damage. We have all seen the destruction of hurricanes, and even strong straight-line winds as we have been experiencing here in Nebraska.

The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as being unseen, yet giving visible proof of His existence. When a man named Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, Jesus told him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8).

At the moment of a person’s salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell, or live in that person. The Spirit will begin to make changes in that individual’s life. Although perhaps not immediate, there will be noticeable change for the better that can only be attributed to a power greater than oneself. To his disciples, Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirt…like the wind, you cannot see Him, but you can see His work. I can testify to that fact in my own life.

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Easter Reflections

Dear readers,

Here is a sure sign of spring at Lake Ericson…kids with golf carts. This is not a bad thing, as it is good to see families enjoying the lake. Also, there were campers here this weekend. This reminds me to remind those who are contemplating camping at the lake, there are no campfires allowed until further notice. This is due to the extreme drought conditions in the area.

We, along with millions of other Christians, celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus on Sunday. Because of our belief and faith in his finished work on the cross, we look forward with great anticipation to that day we will meet him face-to-face. As the old hymn says, “What a day that will be!”

It is a story I never get tired of hearing or telling. The idea that God would provide His Son as the sinless sacrifice for the whole world is impossible to grasp by our little minds. Yet, we are told in his word, that this is exactly what has taken place.

The following verses speak to this fact: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God, though our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:6).

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become 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).

In His unending love,
Pastor Jerry

What Should We Do?

Hello friends,
After the winds of last week, we will not complain about a mild 25 mph breeze. We continue in prayer for those affected by the wildfire that destroyed so much in the south-central part of the state. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to dedicate some extra time to pray for rain. The lack of beneficial moisture is at a critical stage. We have some spring flowers starting to bloom, so I guess it’s time to start watering.

This week following Palm Sunday is when we begin to contemplate the events leading up to Easter, or to Resurrection Sunday, as I prefer to call it. It began with betrayal by one of his disciples, followed by the illegal trial orchestrated by the religious leaders who hated him, then the horrible mistreatment of him by the Roman soldiers, culminating in his death on a cross and burial in a borrowed tomb. We can never get our minds around what he went through as he suffered for us. He had asked the heavenly Father to spare him, yet yielded himself to God’s will. We could never pay our own sin debt, so he willingly took it upon himself.

Then came Sunday morning. The women who had followed him came to the tomb to prepare his body for burial, but found the tomb open, and the body of Jesus nowhere to be found. An angel sitting by the open tomb said, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said.

Jesus is alive! So, we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday. Friday was good, in spite of the horror of the crucifixion. Good, in that from this we have forgiveness of our sins, and the promise of eternal life for those who believe.

Peter, in his sermon to the Jews on Pentecost said this, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:36-38).

Have you trusted him for your Savior?

Because He Lives,
Pastor Jerry

He Lives!

Dear reader,
Last Tuesday evening, we received a little rain along with some lightning and thunder. It’s been too long since we heard the sound of raindrops on the roof, and a welcome sound it was. The warmer temperatures have increased the traffic around the lake, and there were several people fishing this weekend. Can it be spring after all? We will have to wait and see.

As the world seems to be spinning out of control, do you find yourself feeling anxious about the future? I have been guilty of that very thing, but when I go to God’s word, I am encouraged once again. I hesitate to write on this topic, because it seems I am in a rut here. However, as I listen to the cultural conversation, I hear many people asking the same questions.

With Easter just two weeks away, we may begin to contemplate what the resurrection of Jesus means in light of eternity. The apostle Peter speaks of the everlasting hope we have because of Christ’s resurrection.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who k faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Further down in the letter, Peter writes, “Through him (Jesus) you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1:21).

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Renewal

Dear readers,
The big weather news these days seems to be the lack of rain in the forecast. I have heard it said we always get rain when we need it the most. I wonder how much needier we can be? As in every situation, we need to keep praying and trust the Lord to provide.

Signs of spring are appearing. The geese are pairing off, so I suppose we can expect goslings in a few weeks. Flowers are starting to break through the soil, giving hope for blossoms of daffodils and tulips. Before I know it, lawn mowing season will be here!

Springtime brings thoughts of new beginnings and new life. Think baby calves, lambs and foals that are born in this season. Renewal and regeneration are good words to ponder. Bulbs that were planted in the fall begin to send up new growth that hint at beauty that is to come in the form of fragrant blossoms.

These things are all part of God’s plan for his creation. All parts of creation testify to the goodness of God, and the human race enjoys the privilege of bearing his image. At this time of year, it seems appropriate to celebrate, and to acknowledge God’s presence and all that he has given us.

With the appearance of new life, we are reminded of the provision of eternal life through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For it is by faith we are saved, not by works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In spite of Adam’s sin, by which the creation was subjected to futility, slavery to corruption, groaning and suffering (Romans 1:18-23). “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pain until now” Romans 8:22). God’s handiwork faithfully continues to attest to his eternal power and divine nature. Though God’s image in the human race was marred due to the fall, the image is being renewed in those who are new creatures in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I will close with these words: Lord, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth and it stands firm. Your judgments stand firm today, for all things are your servants (Psalm 119: 89-91).

All praise to Him,
Pastor Jerry

Plans Change

Dear readers,
It was an interesting week; in fact, that may be an understatement. We started Wednesday with a doctor’s appointment in Norfolk, and ended up going to Omaha to see another provider. Since we thought we would be coming home from Norfolk, we ended up at Methodist Hospital in Omaha with just the clothes on our backs and stayed for three days. Without going into detail, I will just say it ended well, and I am glad to be out in the sticks, away from six-lane traffic, parking garages and elevators!

Actually, the traffic wasn’t as intimidating as I imagined, and I credit the Lord for providing room for lane changes and bringing us to our destination safely. It’s great to look back and see how he provides. In my devotional readings over those days, two passages of scripture were given to me. They both are long-time favorites of mine that have encouraged me over the years. I will share them with you.

The first is Psalm 23, a familiar psalm that is a favorite of many.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The second scripture is Psalm 62:1-2; 5-8.
1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will never be shaken.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry