Archive for October, 2012

Whose Prayers are Answered?

We have had our first snow of the season. There were only 3 or 4 inches, but it was wet and melted away fairly quickly. Thank you, Lord! Much more moisture is needed to return the land to normal. Please keep praying for rain.

Several days this week were spent cleaning out excess “stuff” from the ranch buildings. With the projected closing date nearing, we hope to be able to bring that part of our lives to a conclusion and move on. As mentioned in a previous column, change isn’t always easy, but change will come. It is up to us to make the best of it.

As I ask you to pray for rain, and as I believe we need also to pray for our country in this election year, there is a thought that I must share. We must understand that only God can answer prayer, and also, that he only answers the prayers of his children.

I realize I may be getting into controversial territory with this, but I believe the Bible confirms it.

In the Old Testament we read this: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Notice the requirements for God’s hearing their prayers: humility, confession of sin, repentance and seeking Him. Other conditions for answered prayer include obedience to God’s word, faith in the Lord and obedience to his word, among others.

There was a point in Israel’s history when they became so far removed from God, that he would not hear prayers on their behalf. (Jeremiah 7:16).

In John’s gospel, there is the story of a man whose blindness was healed by Jesus. To the Pharisees who disbelieved his story, the man said, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will” (John 9:31).

So, when we offer to pray for someone, or for a certain situation, we need to understand that God answers the prayers of his people. I’m not sure he answers the prayers of others, except the prayers of the one who prays to receive Jesus as his or her Savior.

God hears and answers the prayers of his children. Are you one of his?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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The Body of Christ

My trip to Kansas last week was nice. I was privileged to hear some great preaching and teaching, along with some very good singing. I came home encouraged and excited to hear what the Lord is doing in our two-state convention. The only down side was that I was a bit lame from what appears to have been touch of gout in my left foot.

With the pain in the toe experience, I was once again reminded of the passage of Scripture in which the apostle Paul describes God’s family as a body. Each of the parts is dependent on the others, and expanding on that thought, when any part hurts, the whole body is affected.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though its parts are many, they form one body…. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-26).

At the local church level, we feel the pain or share in the joy each member experiences in their daily lives.

We are also members of a larger body, which is God’s global church, made up of believers everywhere in this world. So, when we hear of Christians being persecuted for their faith in other parts of the world, it should cause us to feel their pain.

Likewise, when we hear of other Christians being blessed by God, we should rejoice with them, instead of being envious of their blessing. This week, when I heard testimonies of lives being changed in far places because of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I rejoiced with those who were seeing these things first-hand. So, also, news of Christians being killed for their faith, brings feelings of sorrow and pain.

A Christian is not an end unto himself. We are all a part of the body of Jesus Christ. I know of no place in the Bible that says we are called to God’s Secret Service, and I read of no Lone Ranger Christians. We may not all be in high-visibility positions, but we are all parts of the same body.

Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Are you part of His body?

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Winds of Change

I have noticed a change in the air. Our winds have taken a northerly direction in the last few weeks. It is something that happens this time of the year. Along with the winds come other changes. The leaves turn from green to yellow and orange, some are even bright red. It is a signal of a larger change, one that is moving us from summer, through fall, and into winter.

Those who miss the changing of the season will be mighty uncomfortable when those winter winds come with their freezing temperatures, along with snow and ice.

The seasons of our lives change, also. This is not a new subject, but one we might need to consider again.

I believe, whether we want it or not, change comes into our lives regularly. Many times, we are forced to change because of circumstances. Occasionally, the Lord sends change our way to mold us into the person he wants us to be. I have found in my own life, that the best way to deal with change is to think of it in terms of a book that is being written. As one chapter closes, another opens for us.

The Bible deals very much with the subject of change. Abraham was called by God to pack up and move all his belongings to a place he had never heard of, much less visited. Daniel and his friends were taken into captivity. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and spent time in prison for a something he did not do.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, the writer tells us there is a time for everything, and most of it involves change.

And, the person who sincerely accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior will undergo real change. The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). Talk about change!

Finally, at the last day, we will all be changed ( 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). John tells us that we who believe will all be like Jesus. (1 John 3:2).

Change is inevitable. Don’t miss it. Let us be sure we are making and accepting those changes with eternity in view.

One more thing–God does not change, nor does his Word.

Changed because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Visiting Hours in Heaven?

Dear friends,
I experienced another birthday anniversary last week. There was no major celebration, but Alex took me to the cafe for breakfast, and my beautiful wife prepared a tasty lunch. Then, of course, there were a few cards in the mail, along with many Facebook greetings from friends. All in all, it was a good day.

Some time ago, I saw a comment that said something like this: It’s too bad there aren’t visiting hours in heaven. This brings several images to my mind, but really, how could this possibly be true? It is a nice sentiment, but “it ain’t gonna’ happen”. I know there are times we would like to visit those who have gone on before us, but let’s face it, there can be no such thing.

First, the only way anyone gets to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ own words, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Second, for anyone to enter heaven, they have to die. In the words of the old song, “I’ll never get out of this world alive.” The Bible says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that to face judgment. The judgment determines a person’s eternal destination. For the believer, that destination is heaven. For the unbeliever, the one who rejects God’s salvation, the destination is hell.

Thirdly, even if there were visiting hours in heaven, who would want to come back to this old fallen, sin sick world? You would want to stay there, because that is where Jesus is.

Last, but not least, if our reason to visit heaven is to see our loved ones, we are wanting to go there for the wrong reason. God gave us memories for a purpose. It’s because there are no visiting hours in heaven. Those memories are how we visit our loved ones.

When we enter heaven’s gates, it is forever.

Waiting to see Jesus,
Pastor Jerry

Forgiven

Last week, I mentioned briefly that we had purchased a used camper. As with many things I have acquired over the years, it needs a bit of repair. One little place on the top corner was apparently damaged, and never repaired. This has allowed water inside the walls, causing a lot of unseen damage. When this happens, it eventually leads to the need for some major repair work.

This is much the same way sin affects a person. Just allowing one little sin to enter a life can lead to much damage, most of which cannot be seen from the outside. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. The good news is that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin. He brings spiritual healing to those who place their faith in Him. The Bible says this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). Confession of our sins results in a restored relationship with the Lord.

Here is one more thought dealing with the topic of forgiveness. When others sin against us, we can forgive them, as Jesus also forgave us, or we can let anger and bitterness take up residence inside us. However, anger and resentment are like the water that entered into our camper walls. It eats away from the inside and will eventually destroy us. The remedy for anger and resentment toward another person is total forgiveness of the offending one. It does not matter if we ask that person’s forgiveness face-to-face, it is not always possible to do that. However it is very possible for us to forgive that person in our heart.

If we are willing to forgive, we will find that a heavy burden has been lifted from us. Forgiveness is wonderful medicine for the wounded soul. In the scripture that is known as the Lord’s Prayer, we are told to pray that God would forgive us our trespasses (sins), as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us. I would say we are commanded to practice forgiveness, much as God has forgiven us.

Forgiving the person who caused the damage won’t fix our camper, but it will let us enjoy it, and forgiveness won’t fix the hurt you may have experienced, but it will bring you freedom.

Forgiven,
Pastor Jerry