Archive for the ‘Best Life’ Category

Be Grateful

Dear readers,
With the cooling of the weather pattern lately, I believe I can safely say that winter is coming closer. Not much exciting has happened at our place this week. We attended a party celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary Tuesday evening. There were just a few couples present, but it was a fun evening. There was much conversation and laughter, something we all need more of. An added bonus was the great variety of appetizers to sample. On the topic of lasting marriages, I heard this comment recently. A young man asked his father for some advice on marriage. Dad responded, “When you and your bride have an argument, and you are convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that you are right and she is wrong, just go ahead and be wrong.”

The next big holiday is Thanksgiving. I believe we are to be thankful on a daily basis for what we have. Each day is a gift, and we need to be aware of that fact. I was given a different perspective on this topic recently. It goes like this; What is your answer when people ask how you are? Most will say, “I’m doing okay”, or something similar. The answer as told to me is simply this; I am grateful!

Whether or not we understand it, everything we have is the result of God’s gracious provision. Here are some Bible verses that remind us to be both grateful and thankful for our blessings.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:8, 34). The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7).

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17). Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Praise is also a part of thankfulness; “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens… Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

It’s God’s Plan

Dear readers,
We have been enjoying the cooler weather, but the drought lingers on. The forecast is for possible precipitation mid-week. We’ll see if that prediction is true. The garden seems to be on its last leg. For whatever reason, the tomatoes just didn’t produce this year. Lately, the deer have been pruning the tomato and pepper plants. As with all agriculture endeavors–maybe next year!

I was able to attend our local church association meeting Sunday evening. It is exciting to hear what the Lord is doing through His churches in our part of the world. Small churches are making a difference in the lives of many in rural Nebraska.

I have been building a dog house, and no, it’s not for me as someone asked. This project has reminded me of the importance of having a plan with clear instructions. Making it up as you go along is harder than being prepared. The old adage is true; When all else fails read the directions. It is the same when planning for eternity. Getting to heaven on your own isn’t just hard, it’s impossible! You might build a dog house by your own effort and ability, but you can’t save yourself.

Regarding our salvation, there is no self-help guide. There is a plan, though. God has provided a way to eternal life and it has nothing to do with me doing it on my own. Salvation comes only by placing my faith in Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection. There is no plan B, no other way to God except through Christ our Lord. His instructions are plainly stated in the Bible.

The Bible says this, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus, when speaking to Nicodemus, said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be 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).

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).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Better Way

Dear friends,
We have received almost .30” of rain early Sunday morning. The forecast is for the possibility of more, but we are thankful for what we have. After a warm week, we are having a couple of cooler days. This, too, is a blessing.

It saddens me to see that some Christians are following those who claim to predict the future. I do not believe this is what the Lord would want for His people. In His word, he warns against these practices.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable practices of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God… The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him… I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command Him. (Deuteronomy 18:9-15).

God’s people are to depend upon Him for their every need, and rely on His promises to care for them in every situation. There are those who would say “but that was Old Testament teaching.” True, but much of God’s law remains in effect in the New Testament. The Ten Commandments have not been revoked; they are for all time. What is called God’s moral law is also just as true as when it was given.

To be involved in occult practices is to be unfaithful to the Lord. We are encouraged to listen to God’s prophets instead. The ultimate prophet of God is Jesus Christ—the One who spoke God’s words and who provides deliverance for His people. He is the better way; “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

In His love,
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

Freedom

Dear readers,
Camping at our grandson’s last week was uneventful, and we enjoyed our time with him. The excitement happened on the way home. First of all, the temperature was nearing 100 degrees when we left Mitchell Wednesday morning. We had a head-wind that was probably 25-30 mph, with higher gusts. Needless to say, we could almost see the fuel gauge in free-fall. After a late lunch in O’Neill, we fueled up and continued our trip home. At one point, I looked in the mirror and realized that a window had blown out of the camper. We were going down the road with a mini-blind sticking out of the opening. That window had issues when we bought the camper, and in hindsight I should have repaired it long ago.

Some folks will read this on July 4th, but others not until later in the week. I want to just reflect on the significance of the holiday, and what we celebrate. Our country is a republic; this means we have a representative government, as opposed to a monarchy, or a dictatorship. In this, we have freedoms that people in many other countries do not have.

One thing often forgotten is that with freedom comes responsibilities. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever one desires. As residents of a free country, we are to obey the laws, respect other people and their property, and be productive members of society.

As we speak of freedom in the context of a nation, we also look to the Bible for the freedom we have in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Faith in Jesus brings freedom from the penalty of sin and freedom from guilt. Paul writes of this in Romans 8:1-2, when he says, “Therefore no condemnation exists for those in Christ, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Beyond freedom from the penalty of sin, Paul also speaks of freedom from the power of sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to resist habitual disobedience. “For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.

Jesus said, “He (God the Father) has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18b).

Free in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Elections Matter

Dear friends,
Isn’t it amazing how a little rain transforms the landscape and gives people a better outlook on life? Grass is growing, the flowering trees are in bloom, even the dandelions are a welcome sight after a long dry winter. Those recent rains were definitely an answer to many prayers. Let’s continue to thank the Lord for the blessing of rain.

Don’t forget to vote this Tuesday, May 10. It is our right as citizens to go to the polls and elect those who would represent us in the government. Pray that God would allow those in office who will stand for truth, and for biblical principles. Also, that those who do not know Him would see the light of His salvation, and be changed. Scripture commands us to pray for everyone. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings (governors and presidents included), that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Christians are called to acknowledge those in authority as sent by God. The apostle Paul wrote these words: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves. (Romans 13:1-2).

Those who lead will also be held accountable. “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill…”
I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession…
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:1-6, 8, 10-11).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Stable Life

Dear friends,
We are already a month into the new year. How time flies! It appears that our sunny, warm weather is about to take a turn for the worse. We really can’t complain about the winter to this point, and we knew it couldn’t last. Remember, spring is coming. I welcome new readers to this weekly project. I pray you are blessed in some way through these articles.

For our devotional time this week, I will borrow some thoughts from my Sunday sermon. Many of us wonder how to deal with the turmoil we see around us. I believe first of all, that we need to have a relationship with the Lord. As the scripture says, He is our peace, meaning that we can have inner peace because we know who is in control of our circumstances.

The apostle Paul has wise counsel in his letter to the church at Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers, 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. Whatever you have learned from me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

Did you get that? Rejoice always, no matter your circumstances. Be in prayer, communicating your requests to Him and thanking Him for blessings. This will lead to the inner peace that passes all human understanding. And put into practice those things that are right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.

With the negativity and turmoil that is all around us, it is good to go to the Scriptures and see that the Lord has a plan to help us get through. If we can commit to those things, He says He will be with us; “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). The psalmist says, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). How reassuring that is in times of trouble!

Blessings to you,
Pastor Jerry

Back to Basics

Dear friends,
There is enough ice on the lake for fishing. With the changing temperatures, it has been a guessing game as to how thick the ice might be on a given day. I grew up spending a lot of time on the ice, and found out early you can’t tell just by looking if it is safe. There have been several fishermen this weekend, and no one fell through. I see some warm up for the next week, so caution is still in order.

Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics. It is no different as we experience the Christian life. I was looking through some early issues of this devotional project, and came across the following. It reminded me of the need for some plain old-fashioned gospel teaching.

This is what I wrote: For the past few weeks, I have been studying some important topics pertaining to the Christian life. Things like sin, repentance, confession, self-denial, discipline and the like. This is the kind of stuff that makes the preacher examine his life as he prepares to teach others about the truth of the Christian walk. It is not a pleasant experience at times, but what joy to find that Jesus is the one who enables us to overcome the things that hinder our walk. I will briefly tie these things together, in order that we may see how they are all connected.

Sin is disobedience to God; repentance is turning from sin and back toward God. Confession is agreeing with God that we have sinned. Self-denial means forgetting self and giving oneself over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Discipline means self-control which is empowered by the Holy Spirit and which enables us to resist the temptation of sin, and to live a life pleasing to God.

My prayer is that we can put these truths to work in our individual lives, and begin anew to live as Jesus would have us to live. Then, those who do not have a relationship with our Lord Jesus would see him in us and have a desire to know him as well. He is still the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by him. (John 14:6).

May God bless each one in the coming days, and may you feel his presence in a special way.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Faithful Servants

Hello friends,

We spent the weekend with old friends celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sybrant Community Church, which we attended for many years. Actually, last year was the centennial of the church, but the big event was postponed due to, you guessed it—Covid19. It was a blessing to renew old acquaintances and reflect on the history and mission of this little church in what some would call the middle of nowhere. From the early settlers who saw the need for a place of worship, to those today who continue to preserve this lighthouse of the gospel in an out-of-the-way part of the world, Thank You! It is a testimony of God’s blessing on His faithful followers and those who answer the call to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Most of my readers will probably remember the story of how I came to faith in Christ. It was in this little church where I heard these words for the first time, and responded to their message. “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 with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The next verses in this passage speak of the importance of these little places of worship; “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?” (Romans 10:9-15).

To those who continue to carry out God’s call to faithfulness in little congregations everywhere, remember God rewards those who remain committed to serve Him. You will someday hear these words from the Savior. “Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:21).

For Him,

Pastor Jerry

Give Praise to God

Dear friends,

The good news for this week was the nice rain we received Friday night. Our gauge showed 1.30”, although as usual, some got more and some got less. Coupled with some predicted cooler temperatures this week, it should be much more comfortable to be outdoors. The lake was busy again this week. The Burwell rodeo and the county fairs seem to draw people to the local campgrounds. I’m sure these events contribute to the local economy, and we are grateful for them.

A lot of folks here at the lake have experienced moles in their lawns for the last couple of summers. The little varmints are hard to get rid of, but I managed to catch two Friday night. I doubt they were the only ones, so I’ll keep a lookout for more activity.

We were thankful for the rain, and it reminded me that many times the Lord sends blessings and we neglect to give Him credit for providing them. It is at those moments I am reminded that many of the Psalms were written to thank and praise Him for the good things he sends our way. In fact, there are 168 verses in the Psalms that contain the word praise! In addition, there are numerous verses in the New Testament that speak of offering praise and thanks to God. I will share a few here.

“Let heaven and earth praise Him… (Psalm 69:34).

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4).

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 117:1-2).

“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” (Psalm 150:1-2).

James reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

In the last book of the Bible, we read of angels around the throne of God falling down on their faces, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12).

In Him,

Pastor Jerry