Archive for February, 2016

Storing Up Treasures

Hello everyone,
Happy Leap Day! I have really enjoyed the warm temperatures of the weekend. I guess Spring is officially a few weeks away, but I am enjoying the preview.

The “move” is slowly progressing. I knew we had a lot of “stuff”, having kept as many as three houses furnished over the last 15 or so years. What I didn’t know, was the actual size of the collection. What really concerns me, is we haven’t even started on my stuff!

There is a reason Jesus reminded his listeners they were to store up treasures in heaven, instead of here on earth. These are His words: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

None if these things we have collected will go with us to heaven. Obviously the food will be eaten at some point (unless the moths get it), and the clothing will wear out (or be outgrown). There are charities that will take the surplus clothing. We don’t plan on having thieves break in, but there is a good possibility we may call in an auction company to help disperse the excess.

As we make these decisions—what do we keep and what do we throw away; what do we pass on to others? —another scripture comes to mind. In it, Jesus speaks to the issue of worry. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, and what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?… And why do you worry about clothes? …so do not worry, ‘saying what shall we eat?’ or What shall we drink? …or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).

After reading this, maybe I’ll just go fishing! Have a great week.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Making Reservations

We are looking at a few days of relatively nice weather. While we have some nice days, we have begun the process of transitioning to our lake house. I was asked recently why we wanted to move out of the parsonage. My reply was this; we moved the house down here to live in. We will continue to serve at the church, while the search committee works to find my replacement. Prayers would be appreciated.

Our devotional thought this week concerns the tendency of many of us to put things off until the last minute, and how it applies to our eternal destination. A disclaimer is needed here: Some may think I’m targeting individuals, but I am as guilty as anyone of procrastination.

When an event requires reservations to be made before a specific time, many folks will delay until after the cut-off date, then ask for an exception. There are instances when exceptions can be made without any difficulty, but there will be a stopping point.

Jesus offers the gift of salvation to those who believe in, and trust him. His invitation is “come to me and receive my salvation.” However, like those who delay making reservations for a hotel room, an airline flight, or maybe a formal dinner, many people delay in making a decision to trust Christ. In fact, they sometimes put it off until it is too late.

In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells the story of ten virgins waiting for a wedding banquet. As they waited, darkness came. The five wise virgins had taken extra oil for their lamps, and five who the Lord called foolish had their lamps, but no oil for them. As the story goes, at some point the wedding party arrived, and the five who had no oil went to purchase oil, but by the time they returned to the banquet, it was too late, the door was locked. By failing to be prepared, they were denied entrance. He ended the story with these words. “Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

Jesus’ point was this: No one knows when it will be too late to accept his offer. We don’t get a second chance at salvation. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Be prepared. Do not delay.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Which Jesus?

Hello friends,
In local news, our church’s 10th Valentine supper was held Sunday. The weather man is predicting warmer temperatures for the week ahead. I’m sure the ranchers will welcome this news, as calving season is very near.

What Jesus do you follow? Is it the Jesus of the Bible, or one of your own design? A recent article from BreakPoint, the radio ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries, addressed this question. Many people would rather follow their idea of who they want Him to be, rather than who He really is.

Quoting from the article: “The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God. But for a growing number of progressive Christians, the God they want can’t be found in the pages of Scripture. So they look for Him elsewhere—in personal experience, through relationships with other people, and through private interpretations of when they say God “speaks into” their life.”

Some liberal churches insist that “God is still speaking.” They are actually suggesting that God has changed His mind on issues like morality and marriage, and that their ideas of who God should be trumps the God His word reveals.

One author writes that for Christians, Jesus, not the Bible, has the final word. To this statement, a Christian blogger asked this important question: To which “Jesus” are these folks referring? He then goes on to say, “The only real Jesus we have intellectual access to is the Jesus revealed to us in the Bible.” That Jesus reaffirmed the exclusivity of natural marriage, endorsed every “jot and tittle” of the Old Testament, and talked as much about hell and judgment as He did the Kingdom of Heaven.

A devotional that made the rounds on social media featured a pretty purple flower and a quote from Luke 4:7: “if you worship me, it will all be yours.” It’s meant to inspire—until you realize who said it: Satan.

How we use the Bible is important, and we should always consider the context of the scriptures we read. Our approach to the Bible is vitally important. God’s word is not a calendar of inspirational, feel good quotes. When we open the Bible, we are stepping into God’s story, understanding our place in His design and meeting Him on His terms, asking the question, “Are we looking for the real God, or remaking a god in our image?

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

The Culture and God’s Word

Hello friends,
Now we know how the stormy weather forecast from last week played out. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a blizzard like that, and I can wait awhile before I see another one. The much advertised Super Bowl has been played, and we know who the winners and losers are. As I write this Monday morning, the wind is blowing hard for the second day. It is a good thing the snow melted yesterday, or it would all be in the air.

Now for some thoughts on the current culture, and its effect on the church at large. These days there is a trend among mainline churches to water down the Gospel. Many are moving away from the time-tested truths of the Bible, and the idea that God’s Word is without error. There seems to be an intentional movement toward changing the message of the Bible to “current cultural” interpretation.

There is a warning in the book of Revelation for those who would add to, or subtract from God’s word. You can look it up for yourself in Revelation 22:18-19).

Other verses include the following: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-18). And this; “Above, all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”) 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Our responsibility is not to change the words of the Bible to fit the cultural understanding of what it should say, but to proclaim its truth, allowing the Word of God to speak to the culture. As we share His Word, we are told He will not let it return empty. It will bring about His intended purpose. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

New Life

As I sit enjoying the scenery here at the lake, I see a lot of brown vegetation across the way, trees without leaves and a frozen lake surface. Yet, in all of this, I know that there is life waiting just under the surface; waiting for the warmup that is to come. When that happens, the grass will change from brown to green, leaves will reappear, flowers will bloom, and new life will appear everywhere.
Sometimes we look around at people, and see only discouragement and despair. It seems that for many people life is like a winter scene, where everything looks brown and lifeless. As Christians, we should look beneath the surface and realize that there is hope for a new beginning in every soul.
Jesus came to give meaning to life. His coming brought hope to the hopeless, healing to the spiritually wounded, and mending for the broken-hearted. Spring is on the way for those who place their faith in Him. He invites those who are burdened down with life’s cares to let Him carry the load. As he says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
To those who despair, who have no hope because they have no knowledge of Jesus Christ, Peter has these encouraging words: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3-4). Jesus said to Mary, the sister of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).
We who are God’s people, must introduce those who have no hope to the One who can give them new life, eternal life; the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry