Archive for the ‘Assurance’ Category

Peace Amid Chaos

Dear friends.

Warmer weather is finally here. If you are not happy with this, we need to talk! I noticed the annual frenzy over Ground Hog day. I don’t believe the shadow of a woodchuck has anything to do with the weather in six weeks. Truth is, spring comes when it comes. In any case, we will be ready when it gets here.

The news seems to get stranger every day. People are doing things to other humans that are outright insanity. There are ideas floating around that have us asking, whatever happened to common sense, morality, and decency? Then there was the Chinese balloon that floated over North America last week. People are concerned about where the world is headed, and how are we to respond to these things?

I do know from the study of God’s word that there will be times of uncertainty and unrest in the world. Jesus spoke of things that will precede his return. He warned of storms, earthquakes and the like. I am not going to say we are close to his returning, because no one knows the answer to that except God the Father. Suffice it to say Jesus said he would return at some point, and the world has been moving in that direction for over two thousand years.

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will these things 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” (Matthew 24:3-9).

The Bible is clear, if we are to have peace in the midst of all that we are seeing and experiencing, we would be wise to place our faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can give you peace in a chaotic world. Trust in him today, and know true peace.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Keep Looking Up

Dear friends,
Winter has us in its grip and seems unwilling to loosen up. We get a few days of moderating temperatures, and then the cold returns. I know in time this will be a memory, but for now we will look forward to spring and all that follows. Bring on the green grass and flowers!

The dark days of winter, and seemingly unending bad news from around the world tends to give us a negative outlook on life. As winter wears on, we seem to develop a pessimistic outlook and everything begins to appear dark. In contrast, the Bible would have us focus on the positive view.

Not one of us could say life has always been a bed of roses. Because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen. It is good to learn from the negative experiences in our lives, but it is better when we remember the positive things we have experienced, along with the blessings of life. As the scripture says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice in the Lord always. do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus…. whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:6-9).

The apostle Peter, writing to Christians who were enduring persecution said this: “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 through 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 for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:1-6).

It is obvious we have not endured persecution like those to whom Peter wrote, but be encouraged in this; there are better times to come. Keep a positive outlook and keep looking up!

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Carry On

Dear readers,
January has been interesting in the weather department. So far, we’ve had rain, sleet, snow, lightning and thunder, all in the same night! We had no issues with power outages here, but some were off for a short time. The volunteers here at the lake were out cleaning off the streets early after the storm, and did a great job. Thanks for your effort, guys.

As we prepare for this year of 2023, I’m prompted to go to God’s Word for some encouragement. Sometimes, the thought of what lies ahead is a bit scary…especially in our current situation and culture. A favorite Bible passage of mine is Psalm 62:1-8.

Psalm 62:1–8… My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse. Selah
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

These are encouraging words in uncertain times, and they have helped me many times in the past. A lot of attention has been focused on congress in recent days, and we pray our leaders will get back to the task of governing. Romans 13:1-. We are to pray for our government officials, that they would come to Jesus, and that they would govern justly. God has placed those in government because he wants them there, but make no mistake, government is not the answer to the mess we are in. God is the only one who can heal our land.

There will come a time when Jesus will set up His kingdom on earth and the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9 will be fulfilled. “For to us a child is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” Until then, we carry on.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Savior was Born

Dear friends,

We finally received a bit of moisture. It was not much, but much more than we have had recently. As we continue to observe that first Christmas, I’ve been reflecting on different parts of the story.

As I thought about the Christmas story this week, I remembered those crisp clear nights out checking cows when stars were shining in a black sky. There was total silence, except for cow sounds. I then remembered the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds. Suddenly, the sky was full of angels praising God. What a mind blowing experience that must have been!

Terrified might have been a bit of an understatement, but the angel assured them it was all good. They went and saw the baby, and began to tell everyone about the experience.

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you. You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

                Glory to God in the highest heaven,

                and peace on earth to people he favors.

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven…, the shepherds hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:8-20).

Many years ago, the message of salvation through faith in Jesus came to me; not in the stillness of a dark night, but in the preaching of the gospel from our pastor at the time. Like those shepherds of old, this news changed my life. Do you know the Savior? Have you understood the message of the angel? Do you tell others what He has done for you?

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Missing Link

Dear friends,
The wind has been the big weather topic this week. Everyone seems to be talking about the excess of wind and the absence of any meaningful rain event. At this time of year, any moisture may very well be of the frozen variety. I hesitate to use the ‘s’ word. At this point it doesn’t really matter what form it takes, it will be welcome. A recent issue of a daily newspaper had a page titled “Weather and Religion”. I was amused by those two topics being on the same page. It reminded me of the fact that there are weather forecasts, but God is the one who is in control of the weather.

Sunday, I was away from home in a neighboring church, filling in for their vacationing pastor. Before the service began, the following words appeared on the wall: No Signal (Help). It was telling the person at the keyboard that something was missing. What was missing? A connection between the computer and the projector.
Isn’t that a picture of our own lives? Occasionally, we feel disconnected from the Lord. There is a missing connection and we have lost the signal, so to speak. How do we reconnect to God? The answer; prayer and study of the Word. Consider the following passages of Scripture.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6). Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

Even when we don’t know what to pray, God’s Holy Spirit will take up our case. “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

Time spent in intentional Bible study, along with a consistent prayer life brings the Christian into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Lord. This will result in the knowledge that our connection to Him has been restored.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

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