Archive for April, 2016

More Change

I am able to tell you today that this past Sunday was my official last day to preach at Sandhills Baptist Fellowship. The pastor search committee of the church has found the person they believe to be God’s man for the job. I had requested some time ago that they begin the process, as I felt the Lord leading me to pursue other interests.

I will continue to write these articles, and seek other ways to be involved in ministry. But, for the immediate future, we will finish moving into our house at the lake, and finding homes for all the items we don’t have room for. Then comes some time camping and just relaxing.

I am sure that God has more for us to do. I find no solid reference in the Bible to what we in America call “retirement.” In fact, the only reference I find is to the Old Testament priests retiring at age 50, then assisting the younger priests in their work (Numbers 8:25-26).

There are other passages that indicate God intends for us to commit to the long-haul as we serve and obey Him. Neither does He at some point stop His work in the believer’s life. Here are some scriptures for us to meditate on this morning.

Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The apostle Paul tells us God has work for us to do. After he tells us our salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, he says this: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Again in Philippians, Paul tells the believers there, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

I have many great memories of these years at SBF, and we have been blessed to serve here, but we will move on, seeking and following the Lord’s leading, as we go forward. I would not change these last 15+ years for anything, but we must go forward, running with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

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April Showers

Hello everyone,
Monsoon! It has been raining since Saturday noon, it is now Monday morning and still it rains. One report here at the lake is of 5.5 inches thus far.

How about a few rain scriptures to start the week? “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God” (Hebrews 6:7). Speaking of the Creator, Paul said, “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17). Speaking of the Father, Jesus said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

Here are a few from the Old Testament. In a promise to Israel, God said this: “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit” (Leviticus 26:4). One more regarding Israel’s obedience in serving God faithfully: “Then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (Deuteronomy 11:14-15).

We need to note here that in spite of Israel’s disobedience, and by extension our own failure to follow God’s commands, God in his grace has continued to provide the sun and rain, so that we are blessed by them. He is still giving us opportunities to get right with him.

One more point to be made in this discussion is this: No one can get right with God by following the law, that is, the Ten Commandments, etc. We are made right with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ the Son (John 14:6).

The forecast is for the sun to return later this week. Scripture tells us the Son will return at some future point, also. This is good news for all who believe.

Keep looking up!
Pastor Jerry

The Winds of Spring

More signs of spring have appeared. The ornamental trees around the lake are either blooming, or heavily budded. There is a report of the first hatch of wild goslings. Now if we could get over having freezing temperatures at night, we might believe spring is really here.

One thing that seems constant this time of year is the wind. Wind is something we really can’t see, but we can certainly see the results of its presence. The Holy Spirit of God has been described as a wind. A very strong wind can at times cause great damage, but a person controlled by the Holy Spirit, on the other hand is a force for good.

In Jesus’ conversation with a man named Nicodemus, he described the Holy Spirit this way: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).

To the woman at the well, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

A Christian under the influence of the Holy Spirit is equipped to do great good in the name of the Lord. Spiritual rebirth comes about through the work of the Holy Spirit. An illustration of the Spirit at work might look like a windmill turning by the power of the wind, pumping water for a thirsty person. These are the words of Jesus: “Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him”. By this, he meant the Spirit, whom those who believe in him were later to receive. (John 7:38-39).

So, the next time you have trouble keeping your hat on because of the wind, just be reminded of the Holy Spirit at work in your life, and hang on to your hat.

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Working Out Your Salvation

It is one of those times when spring seems to be held captive by the remains of winter. One day we think spring is here, the next feels very much like winter. The good news is the Creator designed our part of the world to have four seasons, and spring always follows winter, and so on. We need only to wait on His timing.

Several months ago, actually almost a year and a half by now, I began to feel it was time for me to retire from full-time ministry. It appears that time is very close. More details will come in a later column, but for now, this is all I want to say. This may be a good lead-in to this week’s article.

In Paul’s letter the church at Philippi, he says this, speaking to his readers: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Later in the letter, we read this: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose” (2:12-13).

Here are some thoughts on these verses that apply to all believers. First, when God calls us and we respond by placing our faith in His Son, he begins a work in us that ends when he calls us home. His command is that we “work out” our salvation. This means we commit to living our life for Him. It is not that we work ‘for’ our salvation, that is impossible. It does mean His plan for us will be carried out. We do not do this on our own. Verse 13 of chapter 2 reminds us that it is He who works in us to enable us to complete the task he has set before us.

Remember Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

As we allow Him to bring about His good purpose, he may change our direction from time to time. And if he does, there is one thing of which we can be sure, He is working to bring to completion the work He began in us. True retirement comes when He takes us home to glory.

Serving Him,
Pastor Jerry