Archive for September, 2015

Not Ashamed

Christians today are facing opposition to their faith in ways not seen in recent times. In an earlier time, they were criticized for believing the Bible; today they are seen as bigoted, narrow minded and intolerant for standing by the truth of Scripture. The apostle Paul suffered greatly for the cause of Christ and the message of the gospel, yet he was able to say to the Christians in Rome, “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16a).

The reasons he would not be ashamed of the gospel are given in the rest of his statement: “because it (the gospel) is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” He goes on—“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

We can summarize the message of these two verses in this way: 1) God’s power alone is sufficient to save men from sin and give them eternal life. 2) There is no greater show of God’s power than that of bringing men to salvation, of transforming their nature, and giving them eternal life through His Son. Perhaps the greatest miracle of our day occurs at the moment of a person’s salvation. 3) Eternal life is both gained and lived by faith from God in Jesus Christ. 4) Faith activates the divine power that brings salvation, and in that sovereign act of salvation the righteousness from God is revealed. Finally, there is emphasis on the continuity of faith. It is not a one-time act, but a way of life. The true believer made righteous will live in faith all his or her life.

Believers may be shamed for their beliefs, but we must never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must stand firm. Our message must be salvation through Christ alone. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Him. (John 14:6).

As His followers, we must not be ashamed of the gospel, but boldly, with compassion, and in love, share its message with all.

Standing on the promises,
Pastor Jerry

Your Best Life

I am a fan of late summer/early fall weather. I enjoy the cooler temperatures most of all, and in my youth it was my favorite time of year because of hunting season.

Last week, we spent a couple of days camping near Grand Island. We spent part of our time there shopping, and enjoying eating out. In one particular fast food place, there was a sign on the soft drink dispenser that said, “Live for the fizz. Live for now!” Along that line, a book was written a few years ago entitled “Your Best Life Now.” It promoted what is known as the prosperity gospel, which claims God will give you all the stuff you want, if you just have faith. According to the Bible we are not to just live for now, and now is not our best life, even if a popular TV preacher wrote a book promoting that idea.

Scripture reminds us that in this world we will have trials and troubles. Jesus clearly says as much. “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). We are encouraged not to focus on the here and now, but to consider our eternal destiny. That is, to understand that this life is not all there is, and that we are here for only a short time, which is followed by an afterlife that lasts forever.

Jesus came to provide the means by which we may enjoy eternal life with God the Father. He paid the debt for our sin, so that we might have real life. To those who truly believe in Him, he gave these promises: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full“(John 10:10). “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28). “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).

If this life is our best life, we don’t have much to look forward to. Eternal life with Jesus, that is what really counts. That will truly be our best life.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Real Thing

Dear friends,
I continue to regain the strength I lost during my hospital stay. Recent days have reminded me that summer is almost over. In recognition of that, we will be taking the camper out for a couple of days.

Today, I want to share a devotional thought from the dusty archives of my journal. I call it the dusty archives, because I had to wipe the dust off the binder it is in.

I like to drink grapefruit juice for breakfast. At times, I will buy a small bottle at the convenience store, instead of a soda. There was a time I thought grapefruit juice was grapefruit juice; that is until I picked up a half-gallon of it at the local discount store.
I noticed that the label on the bottle was very similar to the label on the name-brand I had been purchasing. However, when I poured myself a glass the next morning and tasted it, I soon found out there was no comparison. The “real stuff” was much better tasting than the bargain brand in spite of the similarity in labels.

How do we apply this to spiritual matters? In our search for meaning in life, we try many things and seek answers in many places. We need to beware of imitation labels and false promises. The answer is to find the truth, so that we can easily spot the counterfeits and the “wannabes.” If we will be grounded in God’s Word; that is if we will read, study, and learn from the Bible what it says about Jesus Christ and the way to eternal life, we won’t be led astray by false teaching and popular thoughts and ideas. We must be able to distinguish between the authentic and the look-alikes.

In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul give advice that should apply to us all. “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9). To the Ephesians, he wrote that we are to be mature in our faith so that, “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching (doctrine) and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Offense of the Gospel

Dear friends,
First, an update. I am regaining my strength daily. Of course, it is slower than I would like, but I’m okay with that. Yesterday (Sunday), I returned to the pulpit for the first time, and it was good to be there. My thanks to those in the church who have stepped up to help with the services. I appreciate you.
Today, I will share some thoughts from Sunday’s message: It is difficult in today’s culture to initiate a conversation about sin and its consequences. People are offended when we speak of sin, and more often than not, we will be accused of being judgmental. It seems, though that what is even more offensive to many, is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
To most people outside the Christian worldview, the idea of a God who created everything, and who desires our total allegiance or face judgment is offensive. The gospel’s offense begins with the first words of the Bible. “In the beginning God…”
A few words about God. God is absolutely pure, and there is nothing wrong in Him. Everything God is and everything God does is right. God is good. His goodness is expressed in his justice. God is a perfect judge. His goodness shows in His grace. He is compassionate and patient, wanting all people everywhere to know and enjoy His kindness, mercy and love.
So, the most offensive claim in Christianity is that God is the Creator, Owner, and Judge of every person on the planet. Every one of us stands before Him guilty of sin, and the only way to be reconciled to Him is through faith in Jesus, the crucified Savior and risen King. All who trust in His love will experience everlasting life while all who turn from His lordship will suffer everlasting death.
In light of this, we who believe the gospel, should be moved to take a stand for the truth of the Bible. But, as we take our stand, let us do so with conviction, compassion, and courage.
It will not be easy. Jesus tells His followers not to be afraid of those who oppose them. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
In Him,
Pastor Jerry