Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Church in Our Time

Dear friends,
Another week has gone by. We are still staying home most of the time. There was a trip to the grocery store and the pharmacy last Wednesday, but otherwise we were home doing yard work, etc. There is an advantage to living where we do; it is not hard to practice social distancing.

Our church family will decide this week how we might transition back to corporate worship at the church property. We may begin by meeting outdoors for a few Sundays, weather permitting. Time will tell. The Zoom app has been good, but there is no substitute for being there in person.

The Bible tell us the first century Christians met together in each other’s homes, and I suppose in other small group settings. They had no “church” building, nor did they hold title to any property on which to erect a building. From Acts, chapter two, we read; They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (verses 42-47).

We may be unable to meet in person due to the pandemic of Covid19, but thanks to the current technology, we can have virtual fellowship in a way that the first Christians could not have imagined. Instead of feeling deprived, perhaps we should count our many blessings.

Even with the inconveniences we are experiencing in our current situation, we should take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who wrote “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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Then, this from Paul, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, … I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (verses 11-13).

We may have some inconvenience, but it’s nothing God can’t get us through.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,
Pastor Jerry

Be Encouraged

Hello friends,
Another week has passed. We are experiencing typical March weather. It is a time of transition, and nature seems unable to decide. I am sure from past springs, that this will eventually bring about green grass and flowers if we are patient.

The Covid19 saga continues this week. Most of my pastor friends addressed the Christian response to this in their Sunday sermons. Thank God that we have the means to connect through technology, so that churches can meet in spirit, if not in person.

If you spend much time with social media, you will certainly be discouraged. My answer to this confusion is to go to the Word of God for truth and encouragement.

First of all, let us not forget that God is on His throne, He is still in control. “In the beginning God”, is how the Bible story begins. Read Genesis 1:1. In Colossians we are told that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).

You may be asking; did God create this virus? Scripture tells us because of Adam’s sin in the garden, the creation has been corrupted. “To Adam, God said, “cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18). This virus, along with all other plagues and pestilence, and natural disasters is evidence of this curse. Someday God will make it all right.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:4-5).

The Bible describes a time when God will bring a new heaven and earth; “No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3ff).

Be encouraged, God’s people have hope.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God Helps the Helpless

Hello friends,
As I write this, it is 54 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze. There are geese resting along the shore of Lake Ericson, and I’m thinking of warmer days to come. Those who are interested in the ground hog are predicting an early spring, but the near forecast calls for the return of winter weather. The truth is, only God knows. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for that early spring.

Here is an interesting bit of information from my reading this past week. According to Barna research, 82 percent of Americans believe that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is a Bible verse. Before blaming the biblical illiteracy of our post-Christian nation, you should know that more than half of practicing Christians thought the same.

First of all, if we could help ourselves, we would never see the need for a Savior. Scripture plainly tells us that without Jesus, we can do nothing. No amount of self-help will save us from our sins, or gain favor with God. Four times in Isaiah, God says, “Apart from me, there is no God, or savior.” In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The writer of Hebrews says without faith it is impossible to please God.

There is more; The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations (Psalm 98:2). Romans 1:17… “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteousness will live by faith’”. No one will be declared righteous by their own works, only by faith in Jesus Christ.

God has revealed himself though His Son Jesus Christ, but also through His written word, the Bible. I quote, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17)

From Psalm 119; “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word… Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens… Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119: 81, 89, 105).

Remember, if we want to know what the Good Book says, we need to read it for ourselves. Don’t depend on hearsay.

Standing on the Word,
Pastor Jerry

The Test

Hello friends,
It seems we’ve been put back in the deep-freeze for a few days. These are the times I’m glad to have served my time caring for livestock. The cold weather is much less appealing to me these days, not that I was ever a big fan! I personally don’t think the planet is in much danger of over-heating in the near future.

As I was looking out my window this morning, I was taken by the peace and quiet of a clear and cold winter morning. I had just read the Sunday editions of two different newspapers, and thought what a contrast between the news from the outside world, and what is outside my window. Thank You, Lord for letting us live in this place.

A part of getting older is finding out all the things we did in our youth that were detrimental to our physical well-being. For example, I have one foot that has taken a beating over the years. I have been to several foot doctors in the past, and am considering some surgery on it. One thing leads to another, I have learned. My personal physician thought a stress test might be a good idea, considering a family history of heart issues. The podiatrist ordered an ultrasound of my leg in advance of any surgery on the foot. Those tests have been done, and we wait for the results. After that, it will be decision time.

Speaking of tests, do you know there is a test for entrance into heaven? It consists of one question with one correct answer. When we stand before God, and he asks, “Why should I let you into my presence?”, the one correct answer is, “I have believed in and trusted your Son Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.”

I have reference the following verses many times, and I will continue to do so. “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 everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:9, 13).
“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” (John 3:16).

As the old song says, “What will your answer be?”

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Stewardship 101

Hello friends,
Our warm spell has ended for a time. We are now back to daytime high temps below the freezing point. I guess our ‘January thaw’ is over. On a positive note, it has been warm enough to melt much of our snow, although many drifts remain.

As I was reading some news headlines this week, I noticed a plea for volunteers to knit or crochet ‘nests’ for animals affected by the wildfires in Australia. Another headline referred to the need to remove all restrictions to the abortion of human babies. Does anyone see a problem here?

God created man to care for all of His creation. I take this to mean the earth and all creatures, including other humans, no matter their age or stage of development. It is a sad commentary on the brokenness of this world, when animal life takes precedence over the lives of human beings.

This is not a political issue, it is an issue of morality, and the sanctity of human life as the Creator intended. I am as much an animal lover as anyone, but in God’s creation plan, humans are stewards of the earth, its resources and all life. It should be obvious to anyone with even a minimal reading of God’s Word, that humans are responsible first of all, for human beings, and all other forms of life are subject to that stewardship. To place any other creature in a place over a human being is totally in opposition to our stewardship responsibility as God planned it, and as He outlined it in His Word.

“So God created them in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28). “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3).

The sixth commandment; “Do not murder”, specifically prohibits murder, that is, any unauthorized killing of an individual. Abortion is also prohibited by this commandment, as the Bible clearly states that an unborn baby is a person.

The third Sunday of January is Right to Life Sunday. Join me in praying our country will turn back to God and respect all of His creation, especially those made in His image, at all stages of life.

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

A Word to the Nations

Hello friends,
Well, that was certainly some snow storm! I trust you were kept safe and warm while the snow and wind did their thing outdoors. My best estimate of snowfall here at beautiful Lake Ericson was 12 inches. With a wind gusting near 40 mph, there were some impressive drifts in the neighborhood. After the storm passed, we have had warmer temperatures with much melting of the snow. May it continue!

The world seems to move rapidly from one crisis to the next. One wonders, what will be the next thing to occupy the attention of mainstream and social media? We must not forget, in the midst of all the crises, that God is still on His throne and His perfect plan is still in place.

The world seeks solutions to all its problems in secular thinking and philosophy. The Christian knows the answer lies in trusting God and his Word. Here are words of warning and encouragement from Psalm 2.

Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain?
The rulers 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 proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

The message for the nations, and for individuals is very clear; serve the Lord with fear (respect and awe). Rejoice in his salvation. Give Jesus his proper place in your life, an all who trust (take refuge or shelter) in him will be blessed.

Standing on His promises,
Pastor Jerry

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

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

High Water

Dear friends,
It is obvious the rains have not stopped for some of our friends in other places. As I read of roads made impassable by heavy rains, and people marooned on their property, surrounded by water, I pray this will pass soon. The 2019 spring and summer seasons have tried the patience and perseverance of many. Having experienced some abnormally wet seasons on the ranch, I understand. It is not a fun situation by any measure. It reminds us of the fact that as much as mankind has learned, we still do not know how to control the weather.

In times of excessive rain there are always those who suggest the need to build an ark, as in the Old Testament story of Noah and the command of God to build one. The flood that God was going to bring upon the earth was judgment for the rampant sin and ungodliness of the time. Only Noah and his family would be spared. Just as God said, when the ark was completed, and the animals and Noah’s family were safely on board, the earth was flooded, and all remaining life destroyed. After the waters had receded, God made a covenant with Noah.

“This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life” (Genesis 9:12-15).

We are living in a time when sin and ungodliness seem to increase daily. Peter reminds us that God will again judge the earth, but not with a flood. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything will be laid bare.” Then the question; Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” And, the answer; “You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:10-11).

Standing on His promises,
Pastor Jerry

The Unchanging Word

This week, I read an article by a Christian writer who was commenting on the topic of filtering our words. The point being, we need to really pay attention to the things we say and the words we post on social media. He made reference to the number of words he had written over the years.

This started me thinking about my own articles, and I wondered what my word count would be. Here is what I found; I aim for 400 words per article. They are written once a week and I have been doing this for about 20 years. I came up with a total of something like 416,000 words. I had no idea!

On an entirely different subject, since I’m ‘retired’, I have begun spending time in the kitchen doing some of the cooking. When we were on the ranch, Milrae was faithful to have meals ready when I came in from work, and I now have time to return the favor. Generally, I follow a tried and true recipe, but now and then, I like to experiment. These experiments do not always end well. For the best results, I have found it is better to ‘go by the book,’ so to speak.

There are a significant number of people these days who try to make up their own recipe for living life. They may claim some knowledge of God’s plan for life, as is found in the Bible, but they want to experiment by choosing the parts they like, along with adding bits and pieces of other religions or philosophies. These efforts are doomed to failure. Call it ‘cafeteria Christianity’ or whatever you may, God’s word is complete in itself. It needs no editing or added ingredients.

Here are some verses for our consideration and mediation. “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless (2 Samuel 22:31, also Psalm 18:30).
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does” (Psalm 33:4). Over and over in scripture, we read “hear the word of the Lord!”

Peter quoted Isaiah in his first letter; “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

In truth,
Pastor Jerry