Archive for June, 2016

Proof of Change

The month of June is almost over, and I haven’t spent any serious time fishing. Along with that, we have only had the camper out once this year, and that was mostly to see if everything worked. Maybe living beside the lake is a hindrance to both fishing and camping. Could that be it? Note: If you have ever wanted to know more about this place called Lake Ericson, check out the current edition of Nebraska Life Magazine.

It is being reported on some media sources that a certain presidential candidate has recently become a Christian. It is not my place to judge a person’s heart, but I can go to God’s word and read verses that help us to know if a person is truly a follower of Jesus Christ. We can pray these reports are true, and the Bible tells us we can know if a person is a Christian. I will share some of the evidences of true belief this week.

A new Christian is not perfect. Neither are older Christians. We all have the tendency to sin, even after being spiritually reborn. But here are things we should see in one who calls himself a follower of Jesus Christ.

The first step, confession, is found in Romans 10:9; That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Confession is to first confess to God that I am a sinner, followed by confessing that Jesus is Lord of all.

Confession is followed by repentance. This is a change of direction. To repent is to stop going away from God, and to turn toward him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)! The evidence of this change shows up in what is called the fruit of the Spirit. It consists of these: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). There are others, but space here is limited.

Finally, we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands (1 John 2:3).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Advertisements

Jesus First

In local news, the lake community is getting geared up for its centennial celebration. The summer’s events start July 2nd, so make plans now to be at Lake Ericson for that weekend.

This week’s devotional thought concerns the tendency of our culture to center on the wants of the individual. We are in a time when many people seem to think the world revolves around them. There is a “me first” attitude. Sadly, this line of thinking is present in the body of Christ. This is nothing new, but perhaps it is more prevalent than in years past.

When Jesus calls His followers to take up their cross and follow Him, He is not calling them to a life of ease and entitlement, but to a life of sacrifice and suffering. The Christian life isn’t about me, it is about Him, and His will for me. Our prayer should be “Thy will be done, not my will be done.”

It is very clear in the teachings of Jesus and his disciples that the Christian life is not a life of unending prosperity and good times. Here are some examples. First, from Luke’s gospel. “Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). To take up one’s cross daily, means one must be willing daily to give up his own wants and desires and follow Christ at any cost. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). This doesn’t sound like what some are teaching today.

Peter, spoke to believers when he wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice…” (1 Peter 12-13).

A.W. Tozer, a preacher from the past commented, “In many churches Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak that if it were poison it would not hurt anyone, and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone!” Tozer died in 1963, but his words describe our current situation with incredible accuracy. May we take heed, and turn back to the truth of God’s word.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Remedy

It seems every conversation begins with a discussion of the weather. Hot and windy are two words that come to mind in describing last week. We did receive some showers of rain here Sunday evening and early Monday morning.

Virginia Creeper, aka woodbine, is a plant that grows in many places. Just across the street from our house is a large lilac bush. A woodbine plant at some point had taken root under the lilac and grew to cover the top of the lilac. The woodbine plant does not attach itself to the host plant, but uses its host as a trellis to climb. Instead of taking nutrients from the host plant, it just cuts off the sunlight, effectively killing its host.

We can see a parallel in the Bible’s definition of sin in the life of a person. Much like that vine, sin in our lives blocks out the light of God’s word, and the commands of Jesus to walk in the light of His truth. It keeps us from growing and if left unattended, it can lead to spiritual death.

Let us see what the Bible says regarding the effects of sin, and its remedy. Referring to someone giving in to the temptation to sin, James wrote this: “After desire has been conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15).

In another place we read, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:2). Again, Jesus speaking, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).

By the way, the remedy for ridding the lilac of the invader, was to cut the woodbine plant off near the ground, and apply weed killer to the stump. The remedy for sin is the application of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where his shed blood won the victory over sin and the devil.

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Let us then walk in the light of His salvation, separating ourselves from the darkness of sin.

In His Light,
Pastor Jerry

On Aging

Hello all,
Last Friday, I found myself sitting with an old friend in front of an eating establishment in a neighboring town. We were just sitting and talking about the old days…Wait! I’m not that old am I? Oh, I do remember something in the Bible about wisdom and gray hair. “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding” (Job 12:12); “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old” (Proverbs 20:29). Maybe that describes my friend and myself after all.

On the subject of aging, hearing loss is part of that process, especially for those of us who have had long-term exposure to noisy tractors, etc. Last fall, I became the owner of hearing aids, and the audiologist told me I would hear sounds I hadn’t heard for a while. What he said is true, and they do work well in a one-on-one situation, but in a crowd of people you hear mostly noise.

Maybe it is much the same for hearing God’s voice. If we haven’t heard from Him for a time, it may be time to get away from the noise of the crowd (think world), and tune in to what He is saying. I don’t think hearing aids are necessary to hear God’s voice, but you do need to get away from the loud sounds of the busy world.

Elijah the prophet, heard God’s voice at the mouth of a cave. In 1 Kings we read of his experience. After spending the night in a cave, the word of the Lord came to Elijah, asking why he was there. Elijah is told to stand on the mountain as the Lord passes by. We read this, “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks… but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake… after the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” (1 Kings 19:9-13). Then he heard the Lord speak.

Has it been some time since you heard the gentle whisper of God’s voice? Just find a quiet place and listen.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry