Archive for March, 2016

Ready or Not?

The storm last week left us with an estimated 12” of snow here in our back yard. I thought I was prepared for snow, but my preparations were incomplete. I had put the snow-blower on the tractor, but instead of putting the tractor in the shed, I let it sit out. Big Mistake! Next morning, I could hardly see the tractor for the snow piled on top of it.
It seems many of our preparations stop short of being complete. Here is an another example of something that happens occasionally at our house. I enjoy cooking now and then. My meal planning usually involves meat and potatoes, but when those items are nearly ready, my wife will ask, “What are we going to have for a vegetable? Incomplete preparation on my part—again. So we wait for the veggies, while the meat and taters cool.
 Some lack of preparation may bring temporary inconvenience or discomfort, but what about our preparations for eternity? Is it possible to make incomplete plans for what happens after this life? I believe there are many who believe there is life after death, but sadly, their plans for it have come short of completion.
Three of the gospel writers recorded a conversation Jesus had with a young man. The man’s question was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
“All these I have kept”, the young man said. What do I still lack?”
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22).
You see, keeping the 10 commandments does not bring salvation. First of all, it is impossible to keep them, and second, eternal life is not gained by keeping a list of rules. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The young man in our story had made incomplete preparations, and was unwilling to do the one thing required. That one thing was to be willing to give up everything and follow Jesus. Since he would not complete the requirement, he was lost.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
In Truth,
Pastor Jerry
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Leaves or Fruit?

After a cool end to the week, I’m looking forward to some more spring-like temperatures. Grass has been greening up, and the daffodils are blooming. It seems that spring is in the air. Now, as I write this, they are calling for snow on Wednesday. We’ll see.

Good Friday is this week, and Easter will be observed the first day of next week. Today, I would like to share some thoughts from this past Sunday’s message. It concerns the cleansing of the temple by the Lord Jesus the day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and how it applies to each of us.

Our scripture passage is Mark 11:12-18: Having seen a fig tree with leaves and no fruit, Jesus condemns it for hypocrisy. Then upon reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Matthew tells us that when the religious leaders were challenged about their disrespect for God’s house, they challenged Jesus’ authority to kick out the money changers, heal the sick and forgive the sinners (Matthew 21:23). When he pointed out their hypocrisy, they may have been afraid he would throw them out next. Instead of making peace with him, they planned to kill him.

What is our response when Jesus, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, exposes hypocrisy in our lives? Do we desire to make peace with him, or do we want to deny the hypocrisy and kill him to preserve our double life?

Are we bearing fruit, or are we just showing an abundance of leaves?

Are we that much different than the crowds on the day he entered Jerusalem as the triumphant king? How many times have we proclaimed him King and Lord, and then turned our backs on him to remain loyal to the world?

Wondering,
Pastor Jerry

More Than Decor

As we draw near to Good Friday and Easter, I believe it would be good to take some time and reflect on the Cross. The following is excerpted from an article by a favorite writer of mine. The article is entitled “An Ordinary Cross.”

“The cross,” someone once said, “has become so ordinary that we hardly see it anymore.” The thought struck me as I walked through a shop with items to buy stashed in every crevice: frog shaped garden statues, multi-colored curios, inventive décor made from soda cans, beach glass, and refurbished car parts. Occasionally surfacing through blanketed floors and ornamented walls were cross shaped or cross-adorned objects, so ordinary in a shop so out-of-the-ordinary, they were almost hard to notice at all.

“The cross has become so ordinary that we hardly see it anymore. The thought altered the remainder of my browsing. How can this be true? How can an image once shameful enough to bow the proudest heads become ordinary? Could the gallows ever become innocuous? Would the death sentence of someone near us ever fail to get our attention, much less blend in beside earthenware and figurines?

“Perhaps it is true that the cross has become so ordinary we hardly see it anymore. But if the cross has become merely a symbol of Christianity, an emblem of one religion in a sea of others, it is still a symbol that stands apart from the others. Even as an image among many, it remains conspicuously on its own.

“For those who will not look carefully, the cross can be seen as foolish or not seen at all. It can be stripped of meaning or emptied of beauty, hope, and depth. But it cannot be emptied of Christ. The message of the cross may be nothing to some, but to those who will stand in its shame and offense, scandal and power, it is everything.”

The cross is more than decor; it is the symbol of the price paid for our salvation.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Leave It There

It’s Monday again, and time for another news update and devotional thought. I would never have believed, when I started composing these articles, that I would still be doing it. Thanks to all who have encouraged me along the way.

We are still in the moving process. I believe one never has a true understanding of how many things we accumulate until we try to move it from one place to another. I was told yesterday of a man who said everyone should put their place up for sale every ten years. The point is you may or may not sell it, but you will get it cleaned up. Wise words, I believe.

I am reminded once more of those Bible passages that speak of being unhindered in our Christian journey. The writer of Hebrews gives the illustration of an athlete running a race, leaving behind the things that slow him down and hinder his best effort. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). You get the picture.

The things that weigh us down and hinder our journey are many. Perhaps it is a load of guilt, or some sin that goes unconfessed that keeps us from being all that a Christian can be. Other burdens we may bear are jealousy, unforgiveness, anger, resentment, worry, and any number of others. Jesus encourages us to bring them to him, to come and leave them at the foot of the cross, as it were. Our problem most of the time, is that we lay our burdens down, then pick them up again when we leave. As we allow Him to remove those heavy loads we are carrying, we are able to live as free men and women. These are Jesus’ words; “You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Allow me to quote the words of an old hymn:
“Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
Leave it there, leave it there,
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there;
If you trust and never doubt,
He will surely bring you out—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry