Archive for the ‘Assurance’ Category

Faith and Trust

Dear friends,

The Labor Day weekend is winding down. A good number of people enjoyed life at the lake over the past few days, and from all indications they had an enjoyable time. It will seem rather quiet here in the neighborhood come Tuesday morning.

I would like to share some thoughts on trusting God in every aspect of our lives. As believers in the Lord Jesus our desire should be to live life by faith. We should be content with what he provides, not envying the possessions or lifestyles of others.

Do we look at a person who does not know the Lord, yet has material wealth in abundance and wish we had what he has? Instead, we should have sympathy for that person, knowing that all his possessions are of no value in light of eternity. When we covet these things, we are in essence saying that we don’t trust God to take care of us. Trust involves letting Him take complete control of our lives—this includes our thoughts, actions and possessions, including bank accounts and our souls—everything.

We are to trust God without reservation. This sounds like a lofty goal, but in His word, He tells us it can be done. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important that food, and the body more important that clothes” (Matthew 6:25)?

Trusting the Lord involves following His commands and letting Him have control. How is your trust level? Can you take time for Him in your busy times? How about letting Him take care of those cows while you attend Sunday worship or take off work early for mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting?

God says he will supply all our needs; does this not mean our time as well as our physical and spiritual needs? Are you trusting Him with the care of a prodigal child or the loved one with an incurable disease? Most importantly, have you trusted Him for your salvation, or are you trying to get to heaven on the merit of your own good works?

Remember, salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the way, the only way.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Contentment

Dear readers,
August has arrived, the month of fairs and students preparing to head back to school. Are you ready for another round of hot weather? Neither am I, but it seems we are about to experience that very thing. The garden continues to show promise of bounty to come. Cucumbers remain a steady part of our diet, but I’m looking forward to a change to tomatoes!

We live in uncertain times. I doubt that anyone would dispute this statement. I recall another time when uncertainty was the theme of our existence. It was shortly after I began my Christian life. During that time and in the years that followed, I learned to depend on God to provide for our daily provisions. I had begun to think I was pretty self-reliant, but He showed me I wasn’t the one in charge. It was a hard lesson, but a necessary one.

“Hebrews 13:5–6 reads, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (ESV). The author gives us a command to be content. And the power to do so comes from two things from Jesus.
First, the author says that Jesus has said that he will never leave nor forsake us. If we have God, there is nothing else we could be deprived of that would devastate us. But a lack of contentment reveals that we aren’t giving Jesus his proper weight.

Second, the author quotes a Psalm saying, “The Lord is our helper.” God loved us so much that he wouldn’t let death and hell or a cross keep him from rescuing us. And that same God promises to help us in all things. God has proven once and for all his willingness to help us.

Understanding these two things leads us to contentment. Are you content? Do you understand that in Christ, you can be satisfied with what you have because in him you have all you need?” [Devotional from J.D. Grear]

The apostle Paul, regarding his own situation said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.… I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Hello friends,
It was another warm week. Our last good rain was a week ago, and we are ready for more. The heat is stressful for the cucumbers, but they are producing well with frequent watering. Small tomatoes are forming and we have been stocking up with bacon in anticipation of some BLT sandwiches! Disclaimer: Most of the work in this garden is done by my sweet wife.

Do you ever feel you are losing the battle against temptation? Here are some encouraging thoughts:
“As believers, we’ll struggle with indwelling sin for the rest of our lives. The greatest saints have experienced such bitter, unsuccessful struggles with sin, it almost drove them to despair. As the old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”

Proverbs 24:16 reads, “… for the righteous falls seven times and rises again …” (ESV). The righteous fall often, but they get back up, looking heavenward. Put another way, we struggle a lot, but the trajectory of our lives should point heavenward; our lives are a cry for God to change our hearts.

But there are some who seem to just be going through the motions, participating in church like it’s a club or social organization. They don’t have evidence of a desire for God or a supernatural change. They’re not concerned about living in community or using their gifts to serve the body of Christ. And they’re content in not growing. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever really experienced the gospel.

When you struggle, do you get back up again, repenting and believing in faith that God is who he says he is, faithful to save you? Or do you go through the motions, unconcerned with how you’re living your life? The faith that saves is the faith that endures.” [Pastor J.D. Grear]

Remember these words from the apostle Paul: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9).

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Dear friends,
As we enter summer’s heat, prayers would be in order for some timely rains, specifically without hail or damaging winds. We have had enough of those for this year.

Have you heard any good news lately? It is hard to find good news these days if we look at the world and all that is taking place around us. It is easy, it seems, to focus on all the bad and overlook any positive reporting. Maybe it is a lack of good news, but it is possible we are looking in the wrong places.

There is good news in the Bible, much good news in fact. God called his creation good, but Adam sinned and brought judgment on man and on creation. In spite of this, God had a perfect plan to redeem both man and creation. He would provide a way for man’s sin-debt to be paid, leading to the salvation of sinful man and the restoration of the created world.

The plan God had for paying man’s penalty for sin would require a perfect sacrifice, which God himself would provide. That perfect sacrifice would be God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is good news.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world… I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was with two of his disciples, and as Jesus was passing by, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29-36).

More good news from a familiar passage: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-19).

Good News!
Pastor Jerry

Faith Is The Key

Dear friends,
The news this week was the big wind that blew through on Thursday. There was minimal damage to structures at the lake, but some trees were blown over. We were without power for a day or so, depending on location, but that has been restored. The power company still has much work to do, replacing broken poles and such. On a positive note, there were no injuries as far as I know. In a recent article I had commented on the power of the wind, obviously having no idea what was in store for us!

In other news, our middle grandson graduated from high school on Saturday. We’re proud of his accomplishments, and wish him much success in life. It was a good day and great day weather-wise; sunny and a light breeze, something we’ve not seen a lot of lately. With the recent rain and warm temperatures, lawn mowing is a priority, but I will probably tire of this job before the end of summer.

As the world seems to be spiraling out of control, I have to remind myself not to worry. God is in control. Even though it may seem He is asleep at the wheel, He is fully aware of our individual situations. Let us remember His words in scripture.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:23).
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

There is more: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).

Faith is the key. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Believing and trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

Easter Reflections

Dear readers,

Here is a sure sign of spring at Lake Ericson…kids with golf carts. This is not a bad thing, as it is good to see families enjoying the lake. Also, there were campers here this weekend. This reminds me to remind those who are contemplating camping at the lake, there are no campfires allowed until further notice. This is due to the extreme drought conditions in the area.

We, along with millions of other Christians, celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus on Sunday. Because of our belief and faith in his finished work on the cross, we look forward with great anticipation to that day we will meet him face-to-face. As the old hymn says, “What a day that will be!”

It is a story I never get tired of hearing or telling. The idea that God would provide His Son as the sinless sacrifice for the whole world is impossible to grasp by our little minds. Yet, we are told in his word, that this is exactly what has taken place.

The following verses speak to this fact: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God, though our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:6).

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13).

In His unending love,
Pastor Jerry

He Lives!

Dear reader,
Last Tuesday evening, we received a little rain along with some lightning and thunder. It’s been too long since we heard the sound of raindrops on the roof, and a welcome sound it was. The warmer temperatures have increased the traffic around the lake, and there were several people fishing this weekend. Can it be spring after all? We will have to wait and see.

As the world seems to be spinning out of control, do you find yourself feeling anxious about the future? I have been guilty of that very thing, but when I go to God’s word, I am encouraged once again. I hesitate to write on this topic, because it seems I am in a rut here. However, as I listen to the cultural conversation, I hear many people asking the same questions.

With Easter just two weeks away, we may begin to contemplate what the resurrection of Jesus means in light of eternity. The apostle Peter speaks of the everlasting hope we have because of Christ’s resurrection.

“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—kept in heaven for you, who k faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Further down in the letter, Peter writes, “Through him (Jesus) you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1:21).

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Renewal

Dear readers,
The big weather news these days seems to be the lack of rain in the forecast. I have heard it said we always get rain when we need it the most. I wonder how much needier we can be? As in every situation, we need to keep praying and trust the Lord to provide.

Signs of spring are appearing. The geese are pairing off, so I suppose we can expect goslings in a few weeks. Flowers are starting to break through the soil, giving hope for blossoms of daffodils and tulips. Before I know it, lawn mowing season will be here!

Springtime brings thoughts of new beginnings and new life. Think baby calves, lambs and foals that are born in this season. Renewal and regeneration are good words to ponder. Bulbs that were planted in the fall begin to send up new growth that hint at beauty that is to come in the form of fragrant blossoms.

These things are all part of God’s plan for his creation. All parts of creation testify to the goodness of God, and the human race enjoys the privilege of bearing his image. At this time of year, it seems appropriate to celebrate, and to acknowledge God’s presence and all that he has given us.

With the appearance of new life, we are reminded of the provision of eternal life through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For it is by faith we are saved, not by works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In spite of Adam’s sin, by which the creation was subjected to futility, slavery to corruption, groaning and suffering (Romans 1:18-23). “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pain until now” Romans 8:22). God’s handiwork faithfully continues to attest to his eternal power and divine nature. Though God’s image in the human race was marred due to the fall, the image is being renewed in those who are new creatures in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I will close with these words: Lord, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth and it stands firm. Your judgments stand firm today, for all things are your servants (Psalm 119: 89-91).

All praise to Him,
Pastor Jerry

Child of God

Dear friends,
We received some rain and snow this past weekend. This is a major blessing, as it has been a while since we have had moisture of any kind.

It seems we are in a time of uncertainty, the likes of which we have not seen in recent memory. As I think about this, I am reminded of God’s promise to always be with his people. He is with us in the present, and he will be there when we get through the trials we endure.

“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 CSB).

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 CSB).

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV).

We do need to remember these promises are for God’s people. Those, who by faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross, have become children of God. “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10-13).

Paul writes this, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Ready or Not?

Dear friends,
I believe my battle with Covid is over. With each new day, I see improvement. The recent cold snap has encouraged us to stay indoors and be thankful for a warm place to stay.

As our world gets crazier every day, it is important to remember that our God is not sleeping, nor is he surprised by the things that are happening. Scripture reminds us again and again of unsettled times that will come, even reminding us that these are indications of the eventual return of Jesus Christ.

We read these words in Scripture: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

He goes on to say, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man… “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:3-8; 36-44).

As we see the events of the day unfolding, let’s not focus on whether the Lord returns soon, but that we are ready when he does. Today is the day of salvation. It is not too late.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry