Archive for the ‘Assurance’ Category

Going Up?

Hello friends,
I have been enjoying my visits to other churches, meeting new friends, and preaching God’s word. I find it amusing that not having taken speech class in high school, I have spent so many years speaking to groups of people on a weekly basis. One more proof that God equips those he calls to His work.

When attending our denomination’s annual meeting last month, we stayed in a two story hotel. As I age, I am less inclined to use stairs (that sounds strange). Anyway, since two of us had second floor rooms, we rode the elevator instead of using the stairs. On one of our elevator rides, I commented that it might be a preview of the rapture. My friend said, “I am sure it will be faster than this.”

The word rapture is not found in the Bible, but it refers to the return of the Lord Jesus in the air to gather his church. 1 Corinthians 15:52; “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (or died). For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Our hope, that is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead assures us of our place in heaven. The apostle Peter puts it this way; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Real Hope

Hello friends,
Well, our fall weather has taken a decidedly winter-like turn. This is most noticeable in the dropping temperature. As we drove to O’Neill on Saturday, and as the wind changed to the northwest, we experienced a change from seventy-three degrees to sixty-three in a little over 60 miles. By Sunday morning we were at 34 degrees!!

It is not a new thing to say that the world has trials and trouble. It seems in recent days that those things are being multiplied. People in our little corner of the world are no exception. Everywhere, we see tragedy and heartache, and many people are wondering if there is really hope for the future. The belief of the Christian is that there is hope. Our hope comes through our faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord.

These are the words of the apostle Peter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a 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 salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice…” (1 Peter 1:3-6).

The hope of which the Bible speaks is not some type of wishful thinking, but a sure knowledge of the fulfillment of a promise made by God, that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity with him. Therefore, we who have faith in Christ, even in our heartache and loss can say with the apostle Paul, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”

We have the assurance from God’s Word that we who know him as Lord and Savior, will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before.

These are words from an old hymn; “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Standing on the Rock of Ages,
Pastor Jerry

Held In God’s Hand

Hello friends,
Another week of retirement has passed. We made two trips to Albion for appointments, had one wedding rehearsal, a lake association board meeting, a wedding, and I traveled to Valentine on Sunday to preach for a pastor who needed a day off. I am finding this retirement thing does not allow for a lot of down time if you are willing to be involved in your community.

As I am involved with people, and as I visit with different individuals, I find that most are dealing with, or have at some point dealt with issues of one kind or another. No one is immune to trouble. I also find that Christians in general, have a much more positive outlook in times of trouble than those who don’t know Christ on a personal level. This doesn’t mean that the Christian has no doubts, or that his or her faith doesn’t waver at times. However, as the Bible states in several places, the righteous will live by faith. Keep in mind that the righteous person as described in Scripture, is one who has received God’s gift of salvation, paid for by Christ on the cross.

In the Bible, we find examples of people who lived by faith in God, and in His promises. Noah built an ark, although he had never seen rain. Abraham packed up and moved to a place he had never heard of because he had faith. Joseph endured all kinds of hardship, always trusting God in the worst of times. The apostle Paul endured much hardship, faithfully preaching the gospel in many difficult situations.

If you are in one of those situations, here are some of God’s promises. “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 in my righteous right hand… 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: 10, 13).

Finally, Jesus said this, concerning his followers; “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Our Broken World

Dear readers,
One word about the weather. Rain! In other news, it appears we have completed another landscaping project. There has been a ditch along the north side of our property, and it was a bit difficult to mow due to the steep banks. Recently, son Ryan installed a long culvert in that spot, covered it with dirt and leveled it off. We have planted grass seed, and if the rain doesn’t wash it all away mowing will be much easier next summer.

Sometimes, when I see the heartache and hurting in our world, it is almost too much. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. We who live in rural America have by and large been insulated from the problems of the big cities and population centers. This is not the case anymore.

There is enough blame to go around, and I could name a lot of reasons for the mess we are in, but from a Christian point of view, the one-word explanation would be sin. Our world has been broken since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. When people reject God, and go their own way, evil takes over. There is no moral compass, and there are no guidelines for proper living. When people reject God, they turn to other things seeking fulfilment. Drugs, alcohol, sex, power, money, fancy cars, big houses; none of these bring lasting satisfaction.

There is, however, a solution to this dilemma; “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Return to me, declares the Lord Almighty, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 1:3). Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

It has been said there is within each of us a God shaped void. It can only be filled satisfactorily by the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing else will do. Jesus alone can overcome our sin nature. Paul wrote, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

His truth will set you free.
Pastor Jerry

Living in a Broken World

Hello friends,
We have reached those hot July days we have been anticipating. Maybe some of that excess water standing around will dry up, and those who need to get their hay harvested will be able to get out into the field. Here is a tip from the Bible; I learned this a few years ago, when I was trying to out-guess the weather. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). My take-away? Go ahead and mow that hay. If you spend all your time trying to pick the perfect time, you will never get the hay baled.

We have seen more tragedies this week. Every day, it seems, there is another senseless act of violence or a tragic accident that affects someone we might know. It becomes almost too much to bear at times. One of the questions we ask is, why? “Why God, did you allow this thing to happen?” The truth is, we may never know the answer.

In reading God’s word, we find that our world is broken, because all the way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Due to their disobedience, sin had entered the world, and the creation was left in disarray. Consequently, we live in a broken world of broken people. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10-11).

Why do bad things happen? Because God’s perfect creation is broken. God is sovereign, he is in control of all things. Nothing happens that he is not aware of. Could he have prevented some of these things? Absolutely! I believe whatever trial we may be experiencing, God will use it for His good, and for His glory. We trust Him in these situation, not because of what he can do, but because of who He is.

Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and if we place our faith in Him, our fellowship with God is restored, and nothing can ever break that relationship again.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Gospel

Summer is here, according to the calendar. The temperatures of the last few days would indicate otherwise. We actually started our furnace a couple of times, just to take the chill off the house. Also, we have not been lacking in the rain department, yet we haven’t experienced the excesses of some areas. In other news, concerning my recent surgery, I had a follow-up visit to my dermatologist, and all is well. Good news

For my devotional thought this week, I want to share a piece from Pastor Greg Laurie, entitled “I Have Some Good News and Some Bad News.” This message cannot be repeated enough. Now to Pastor Laurie’s article.

“The literal definition of gospel is good news. And before we can fully appreciate the good news of the gospel, we have to know the bad news. That means telling people they are sinners. Of course, people don’t like to hear that. I’m a what? I’m not a sinner! I’m a good person!

We have to define what it means to be a sinner, because the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yet there are preachers today who don’t want to tell people they’re sinners. They claim that most people know they’re doing wrong. But do they? I think a lot of people believe everything is fine as long as they try to live a good life.

We have to break the bad news: “I’m sorry to tell you this, friend, but you’re a sinner. You’ve broken God’s commands. You’ve fallen short of His standards, and there is nothing you can do to make this right. But God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you, and if you will turn from that sin and put your faith in Christ, you can be forgiven.”

The bad news helps us fully appreciate the good news. Anything less than this is a false gospel that will give false assurance. That is why Paul wrote, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God. . .. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all” (Galatians 1:6–7).
We must be careful to preach the real gospel.”

Wise words. May we take them to heart,
Pastor Jerry

Small Blessings

Up and down go the daily temperatures. Now the weather-guessers are saying cool and rainy for several days. Through all kinds of weather; What if the sky should fall? Just as long as we’re together it doesn’t matter at all. Wait, I think that’s a song lyric from an earlier time! Can you name the song?

In other news, we made the trip to Omaha and back safely. Of course, there was the expected trip down a self-imposed detour, also known as the ‘scenic’ route. If I didn’t miss a turn and use some less traveled road, it wouldn’t be normal. The dermatologist assured me she removed all the cancer cells in my lip, so all in all, it was a good trip and a successful surgery. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and encouragement.

When I get away from our little corner of the world, and people ask where we are from, my answer is always, Ericson. They invariably ask, where is that? I think this is a good thing. After being in the big city for just a few hours, I appreciate even more the solitude we have out here in the “hills.” It is a good thing that only a few know the answer to “where is Ericson?”

In light of the blessings of the past week, here are some appropriate passages from God’s Word:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, The maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night (Psalm 121:1-6).

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD (Psalm 150:1-6).

He is worthy of praise,
Pastor Jerry