Archive for December, 2015

Thoughts On a New Year

The New Year is upon us. Everyone always asks, where did the time go? The answer is, it moved along as it always does. Time doesn’t stop or slow down, it is steady and constant. We all get 24 hours in a day, seven days a week, and so on.
The problem is that most of us don’t use our time wisely. I would not volunteer the information that I am a time waster, but sadly, it is the truth. Having said that, I will promote the idea that we should all commit to better use of our time in the coming year.
Our prayer should be the same as the psalmist: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Wisdom comes from God and His Word. Most of us have to work to make a living, but outside of work and even sometimes in our work, we waste time. If we could just identify the time-wasters in our lives and turn those times to the study of God’s word, how much wiser we would be.
Again, in the Psalms, we are reminded, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding” (Psalm 111:10). And in Proverbs 9:10—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Wisdom is a dominate theme in the Book of Proverbs. Here are a few examples. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:10). “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse” (Prov. 2:12). “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding” (Prov. 3:13). One more from Proverbs, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them” (Prov. 4:5).
A favorite passage of mine is this: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Can we put our wasted time to better use? How about beginning a daily time of Bible reading this year?
Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry

God With Us

We have definitely had some weather to put us in mind of the Christmas season. After a few days of this chill, I was wondering if a vacation in the south might be a good idea. That said, I would probably take my chances on a warming trend, rather than go to the effort of loading up and moving for a few months.
Christmas is this week, and in another week, it will be a new year. As I reflect on the past year, I am thankful for many things. Among those are the progress on our lake house, and the improvements there, including getting a lawn established and other goals met.
I am thankful for the EMT’s of our community, and their service to its people. I probably have a greater understanding of their importance after having to call on them last summer. I don’t know yet if I properly thanked those who came to my aid, but I assure you, they were much appreciated! Also, I thank the Lord for giving me another year.
As we contemplate the reason we celebrate Christmas, I pray we never forget that it is about God coming to earth to live among us, and set for us an example of how we should live. Not only was Jesus our example, he came to save us from our sins. The scripture tells us, in fact, that he was “God with us”, and that his purpose in coming was to seek and to save the lost.
Let’s remember the angel’s words to Joseph concerning Mary: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” In the same passage, Matthew reminds us of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel—which means, God with us” (Matthew 1:20-23).
God with us, come to save his people from their sins. That is the gospel in a nutshell. I remember the words of Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas; That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone. Next week, we’ll spend some time looking toward the New Year.
Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

Preparing for Christmas

Today, I would like to share some thoughts on preparing for Christmas, as outlined in a recent article I read. We are about half-way through the season of Advent. Its purpose is to allow us to make preparations in anticipation of celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The writer of the article takes us to the time of John the Baptist as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. John was preparing the people for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

The story begins in Matthew 3:1—In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

So, first of all we see that preparing for His coming involves change, that’s what repentance is about. Could we perhaps change our thinking on how we spend our Christmas funds? Maybe we could contribute an amount equal to what we spend on ourselves to a homeless shelter or food bank.

John lived a simple life. He dressed in animal skins and ate what the and provided. Most of us wouldn’t do well in that kind of environment, but I’m sure we could simplify our lives to a greater degree than we do. As we try to make it to all the holiday activities, might we slow down a bit, and take the time to read and meditate on the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2? The second way we might prepare for the coming of the Lord, is to simplify.

Finally, we read in verses 5-6 of Matthew 3— “People went out to him (John)…Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

Without too much of a stretch, we can see the act of being baptized as worship. The symbolism for us might be that we leave our homes and go to a church or some other meeting place to worship Christ. We should set aside time to worship, both privately and with other believers.

Let’s prepare for Christmas with repentance, simplicity and worship.

Anticipating His coming
Pastor Jerry

Giving or Getting?

Warmer weather is again on the horizon. I see 60 degrees forecast for Wednesday, but we will wait to see if that happens. Christmas decorating continues at our lake house. My spouse has been a bit under the weather with a cold this past week, so progress has been slow.

In other news, Alex celebrated his 16th birthday last week. It was also the day he got the braces off his teeth. We observed the occasion with a trip to Red Lobster. Along with all that, he now has his driver’s license. Time marches on, doesn’t it?

Around Thanksgiving time, one of the cell phone companies ran an ad that emphasized the term “Thanksgetting.” I have to admit I had not thought of that concept. In fact, it seems to be a more fitting slogan for our modern Christmas celebration. Most of the advertising at this time of year seems to be geared more toward what will I get for Christmas, instead of what can I give?

If God is our example, we should be much more concerned with giving that with receiving. Remember, not only did He give us life and breath, He loved the whole world so much that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). James tells us that God is the source of all good things. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). The Bible lists many gifts that God has given. Here are just a few: In addition to life itself, there is the sun, plants and animals for food, water, clothing, marriage between a man and a woman, children. Also, the ability to work, artistic abilities, and many more.

In gratitude for those gifts, we should to use them for the building of His kingdom, and for a life of good works. As it says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do. Paul, speaking to the Ephesian elders, quoted the Lord Jesus, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In gratitude to God, may we concentrate this Christmas season on giving, instead of getting.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry