Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Last Days?

Hello friends,
It’s time for another of our weekly conversations; what’s new at our house, and other commentary. First, I need to let you know the garage project is nearing completion. By this time next week, it will be time for a new topic. We ventured out three times last week, first to get material for the garage, another day to get haircuts and groceries, and a third to the chiropractor. As our pastor said Sunday, we’re staying “cautious, but not captive.”

These days, we should be turning our thoughts to the possibility of the promised return of our Lord Jesus Christ. After all, the way things are going, we may be seeing more of the signs of His coming. How many of the following are showing up in our news sources?

When asked for the signs of his second coming, Jesus answered with these words: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed… 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 24:6-8).

Paul writing to Timothy said, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power… For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear’” (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3-4).

From Peter to believers everywhere: “Above all, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Christians rejoice in the truth of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. Our responsibility, in our time, is to share our faith with those who do not know Him, in order that they, too, are prepared for His second coming.

Proclaiming His Good News,
Pastor Jerry

Good Words

Dear friends,
It was a pleasant weather week here. Not too hot, nor too cold but the forecast is for cooler temperatures ahead, with perhaps a little moisture. Corn harvest has begun, but I don’t believe anyone would argue for continued dry conditions.

As the election draws near, let not forget to pray for our country. Pray for godly leaders to be chosen and for decisions to be made that would honor God. Pray also for a spirit of cooperation to return to our cultural conversation.

On the topic of conversation, I have spent some time studying in Ephesians where the apostle cautions us to watch our speech so as to exhibit Christ-like character to those around us. To be frank, I am appalled at many words that are used in both verbal and written communication these days. It is not just in the outhouse; it goes all the way to the White House. When did it become acceptable to use words in public that most people would not use in any context in days gone by?

From God’s Word in the Old Testament: “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). “A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings” (Proverbs 25:11).

And from the New Testament: “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear… Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking is not suitable” (Ephesians 4:29; 5:4).

“Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening?” (James 3:10-11).

“But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19).

Instead of throwing insults and indulging in name-calling, why not use words that build up others and shine the light of Christ into a world that desperately needs it.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Meeting Together

Dear friends,
We continue to observe the changing of the seasons. Every day, the leaves are changing colors and losing their grip on the branches of the trees. Harvest is well under way, and today I saw a flock of crows flying south. Some folks are talking of migrating south, also.

Sunday afternoon was the annual meeting of our Sandhills Church Network, an association of like-minded area churches. Some of the discussion centered on how our churches have been affected by the Covid-19 virus. Almost everyone is concerned with the number of church members who have elected to attend church by means of social media; Facebook Live, Zoom Meeting, and other live-streaming apps. The concern is that those who are getting in the habit of virtual church are missing out on the benefits of in-person corporate worship. As the old saying goes; “No man is an island.”

Christians need each other. We need the support and encouragement that only comes from in-person fellowship, where we can ask face-to-face, “How are you today? How can I pray for you? Will you pray for me?”

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing… And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-18).

I believe we can best flesh out these commands by meeting together in person.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Where Are You Headed?

Hello faithful readers,
Last week, I told you I was going to have a procedure to repair a weak spot in my aorta. That has been done, and from all reports, it was successful. I thank you for each and every prayer said on my behalf. God is good, all the time.

It was another busy weekend here at the lake. It is encouraging to see so many families enjoying all that the area has to offer. We did receive nearly two inches of rain this week, some got more, some less, in any event it was very much appreciated.

These are uncertain times for most people. What with the covid19 virus, political unrest, economic worries, or whatever might be on your mind, many are concerned about the future.

As a young man, I didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating the future, well maybe as far ahead as my next meal, or the weekend. Thoughts of spiritual matters were very far from my mind even into my thirties. I tried to be just enough better than others I knew, so that if there was judgment at some point, I would surely be good enough to make it through.

Imagine my surprise to find out that none of my preconceived notions of self-righteousness were going to impress a righteous and just God! As I started attending the little church down the road, I began to learn what the Bible really said about sin and my standing with God. Starting with Adam and Eve, every person is born with a sin nature. We have been separated from God by our sin, and we can do nothing on our own to restore that relationship.

Hear the word of the Lord; As It is written, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3: 10-12).
“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The answer is Jesus; “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).

Forever His,
Pastor Jerry

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