Archive for October, 2013

Are You Ready?

Can you beat this fall weather? This is one of my favorite seasons. The down-side to this time of year is that winter is just around the corner, in fact, it may come this week. This leads to the realization that preparations need to be made for freezing temperatures. In light of this fact, I spent some time Monday at Lake George winterizing the lawn sprinklers. And, here at home, the camper has been made ready for storage.

The Bible has something to say about being prepared for winter: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6). Preparing for winter is a good idea for all of us, and it involves storing up provisions for a long winter.

Perhaps the most important preparation is the one we make for our eternal destination. Jesus had this to say concerning his someday return: “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44). “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).

If your preparation for eternity consists of doing good works, let me give you a tip. No one gains access to the throne of God by doing good works. Why? Because no one can earn their salvation; it is a free gift of God, made available to all who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This should be a familiar verse: “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). Referring to the Old Testament, the apostle Paul asked, “What does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). You see, even in the Old Testament, people were not saved by following the law, but by faith in the promised Messiah, just as people are today.

How are you preparing for your eternity? Are you storing up treasures on earth, or are you counting on the riches of heaven, made available through the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross?

“Jesus is coming back one day, ready or not.” (Passion Network)

Prepared,
Pastor Jerry

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God Is My Guide

As advertised, the annual meeting of our two-state Convention of Southern Baptists was a blessing. We were treated to great preaching and teaching, an uneventful but important business meeting, and much good fellowship. I came back re-energized and very much encouraged to press on in the Lord’s work.The trip to Lincoln was interesting, to say the least. It rained for most of the trip, and combined with my relative inexperience with the city, there may have been some doubt of our safe arrival. Then, as darkness came, the adventure took on a whole new challenge. We did manage to stay out of serious trouble and arrive at our destination on time. If I was to write a title for the experience, it would be “Twists, turns, missed opportunities, and dead ends.” In fact, there were even a few U-turns thrown in the mix.

This sounds a lot like the journey many of us have taken in life. We think we have a plan, but along comes the realization that it is not an easy road. For some reason, we believe life will be pretty simple and straight forward. Then when our plans are changed, or we reach some dead-end or detour, we want to throw our hands in the air and return to comfortable surroundings.

Here is something to remember, God has a plan, even though the road takes us into unfamiliar territory. When we encounter those detours, or maybe fail to understand some direction, or miss a turn now and then, He is still with us, guiding our steps back to the right way. As I look back on my own walk with the Lord, I can see how he has guided my steps, even in the dark times.
Here are a few verses that give encouragement: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
And from the Psalms: “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9).
Is God your guide, or are you still trying to find your own way? Something to think about.
In his guidance,

Pastor Jerry

Working For the Lord

I like to read. I blame it on being nearsighted at an early age. Outdoor activities didn’t appeal to me because I couldn’t see well, but I could see to read books. Today, I read, not only to study to prepare my sermons, but also to get ideas and inspiration for these weekly articles. I recently read the following in an article from a men’s ministry, concerning our God-given ability to work at a job or a vocation.

“And then he said something amazing, “I am an ordained math teacher.” Isn’t that great? Every vocation is important to God. If you’re a salesman, you’re an ordained salesman. Are you a truck driver? You are an ordained truck driver. A farmer (or rancher)? You’re ordained.”

Think about this. Every job, every career, every occupation is given to you by God. If we understand that truth, I believe it will change the way we think about our work, and our station in life. How much less complaining about our jobs would we do, if we understood that they are gifts from God? Would we see our work from a different perspective, if we really believed it?

The word ordain means to “appoint, consecrate, or commission persons for special service to the Lord and His people”. To view our work as ordained, then, would be seen as doing special service, first to the Lord, then to His people.

Solomon spoke of this in Ecclesiastes: “A man can do nothing better than to…find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” (Eccl. 2:24). The apostle Paul puts it this way: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

Can you praise God for your job? Even if it is sometimes difficult?

Something to think about,
Pastor Jerry

Service or Seashells?

As I have celebrated another birthday, may I have the luxury of passing on some thoughts on getting older, and how we might spend our later years?

I am reminded of a story Pastor John Piper told in his book “Don’t Waste Your Life.” The story was about a couple who took early retirement, moved to Florida to “cruise on their 30 foot yacht, play softball and collect shells. Then he adds this… “Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy”
How many Christians look to the day they can retire and “enjoy life”, only to find themselves with a feeling that there must be more? What if that something more is to spend those years not doing nothing, but having time to “wholeheartedly serve the Lord?”

I find only one reference to “retirement” in the Bible, and it is that the Old Testament priests were to retire at age 50, and then to assist the younger priests. (Numbers 8:23-26 NIV).

Here is some perspective from scripture: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” (Psalm 92:12-14).
Solomon, to whom God gave more wisdom than any other man, said this at the end of Ecclesiastes: “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.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

From the apostle Paul, we get the idea that the Christian has a responsibility to keep on until the end. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7) “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 3:14).

At the judgment, will you hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, or will you have only seashells to bring to the throne?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry
“It is a sad contentment to be content without Jesus.” (Mark Dever)