Archive for November, 2013

Give Thanks

The last time I visited the house at Lake George, I came away feeling good about having drained the automatic sprinklers in the lawn, and doing some other preparations for winter. About the second day of our recent cold snap, my lovely wife asked if I had turned on the heater in the well house (so much for my self-satisfied feeling). My answer: “No, I forgot all about it!” We’ll be heading up there today to see how that turned out. The last time I forgot, I discovered my mistake when I saw water running out the door and down the hill to the lake.

I just realized it’s only one month until Christmas! However, since I believe the Thanksgiving holiday comes first, I’ll focus on it today.

As we observe Thanksgiving this week, let us first acknowledge the One to whom we give our thanks. Without a Creator, who created this world and everything in it, there would be no giving of thanks. So we first thank Him for Who he is. We then thank him for our very lives, and for the air we breath, the food we eat, the shelter he provides, and so on. Where do we stop? Could we ever stop? I think not.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100).

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4).

One last thing: We thank you God, for the Lord Jesus, and for the gift of salvation. I pray everyone who reads this has received that gift.
Happy Thanksgiving,

Pastor Jerry

Praying to Whom?

Here is a verse of scripture that caught my attention this week:1 Peter 3:12…” For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

I read, and sometimes hear, people promise to pray for a person or situation. I also know some of these who would pray, and I wonder, to whom do they pray? I hope it is the God of the Bible, because if it is any other god, those “prayers” are just wasted effort. The above verse from Peter’s letter indicates that God hears the prayers of his people, not those who deny his existence. Proverbs 15:29 reads, “The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”

The word “righteous” indicates right standing with God. No one is righteous in God’s sight without having placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Only then are we in right standing with God, and only then does he hear our prayers. Romans 3:22 says this: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” James tells us, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

As a footnote; as far as the prayer of an unbeliever goes, I believe the one prayer God is obligated to hear is when that person comes in confession and repentance, asking for forgiveness and inviting Christ into his or her heart. It is that person who God hears, and whose prayer he answers.

It is indicated in other places, that there are things that hinder the prayers of God’s people, but that will wait for another time.
In His amazing love,
Pastor Jerry

Religion or Relationship?

I admit to checking facebook more than I should. Every now and then, a post will just grab me and the only thing I can do is to comment on it from a Biblical perspective. This morning, I read a statement from someone I do not know. Here is a paraphrase of what he said: “I’m going to attend church today, maybe a little religion is what I need these days.”

The man who posted this, named the “church” he would be attending, and I can almost guarantee what he would find in that setting is “religion” that is totally dependent on man made ritual and tradition.

Religion has been described as “man’s effort to reach God.” In the context of this idea, I have to return to the statement made by Jesus. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In reality, the person needs Jesus, not religion. There are many “churches” that offer religion. What really matters is not religion, but a relationship with God, and that is only available by placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul warned of religion based on man-made tradition. These are his words in Colossians 2:8; “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Proverbs 16:25 tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Man’s efforts to save himself are futile. Salvation is not found in man-made religion, but in a personal relationship with the Son of God. “There is no other name given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Religion or relationship? Which do you claim today? I pray you have made the correct choice.

In His amazing love,

Pastor Jerry

Obey God

From time to time, a verse or phrase from Scripture will prompt me to share the lesson I learn with all of you. One of those showed up in this week’s sermon, and I pass it on to you now.

Exodus 32:33…”The LORD replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. After further study, I saw a pattern develop. In John’s gospel, the man who Jesus healed of his blindness, said to the religious leaders, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will.”

Who is the godly person? The person who God has declared righteous, by his or her belief in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to provide salvation and the forgiveness of sin. And, following this, to commit to following God’s commands. How do we think God is with us, when we refuse to obey Him? Scripture tells us he hears those he knows, and we are told that there is no fellowship with the Father apart from faith in Christ alone.

The problem, as I see it, is that we expect God to bless us, when we only give Him lip service. He desires to have unhindered fellowship with us, and we in turn, call on Him only when we need something. We hide sin in our hearts, and expect blessing from Him. The Psalmist had it right; we need to take a lesson. “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek Him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:1-2).

Will you join me in renewing our commitment to follow Him wholeheartedly, without reservation? After all, that is his desire for us. Can we not obey?

In His Love,
Pastor Jerry