Archive for the ‘Blessings’ Category

Celebrate Christmas

Dear friends,
Christmas lights and other reminders of the season have appeared almost overnight. Christmas themed music has begun to be played on the radio, and much advertising is directed toward Christmas shopping. In all this, I pray we don’t lose sight of the real Reason for the season. In the world we live in, we need Jesus as much as we have ever needed Him, if not more.

If we believe the Bible, and understand that we live in a sin-stained world, our priority should be to put Jesus first. The prophet wrote, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14).

This one to be called Immanuel would be born in Bethlehem as prophesied in Malachi. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2.

The angel Gabriel announced to Mary and Joseph that the son to be born would be the Messiah, the promised Savior. To Joseph he said, “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”) Matthew 1:21. To Mary, his message was,
“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32).

Paul wrote, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Jesus came to be the sacrifice that would pay the sin debt of the whole world, that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life. In Romans 6:23 it is written, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

At this time of the year, and in this Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of the Savior. It is an old, old story, but one of which we should never tire, or take for granted.

Thank God for Christmas!
Pastor Jerry

Thank God

Dear readers,

We are having one of those early copy deadlines again because of the Thursday holiday. I trust you all have/had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. What blessings have you received in the past year? Were you quick to thank the Lord for each one? Remember, we are told many times in scripture to give thanks always, and in everything. The word thanksgiving occurs 27 times in the Christian Standard Bible, and 22 times in the New International Version

Thanksgiving can be described as gratitude directed toward God, generally in response to God’s acts in history. Thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship and is to characterize all of Christian life. Concerning thanksgiving in worship, the psalmist wrote, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4).

In life, we are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Paul, writing to Timothy said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Why should we pray for those in government? He tells us in verses 3 and 4. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” We pray for the salvation of our leaders, so that they will see the truth, and begin to govern God’s way.

Did you notice in the last paragraph, that thanksgiving and prayer are connected? It is by prayer that we return thanks for God’s blessings. Also, as we give thanks and present our prayers and petitions to Him, He will in turn bless us with more to be thankful for. As a side note, how many times have you thanked God for the gift of prayer?

Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done (Psalm 105:1). Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:1)

In closing, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 16-18).

Happy Thanksgiving,

Pastor Jerry

Give Thanks

Dear readers,

We seem to have arrived at “Second Autumn.” After a short cold spell, and a few flakes of snow last week, we are experiencing some fall temperatures again. These will be counted as past blessings in the future. We didn’t let those warm days slip away without getting some outside work done. A few Christmas lights were put up, just so we weren’t doing it in the snow later. The lawn was mowed for the last time I hope, and some flower bulbs were transplanted.

As the calendar moves closer to the end of November and into December, our thoughts are drawn to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both of these holidays serve to remind us of God’s love for people, and for all of His creation. However, we must be careful to remember that neither we or the creation are to be worshiped. Worship is reserved for God alone. “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1).

Familiar verses of scripture remind us of these truths. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way. He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16”. It is this gift we celebrate at Christmas; the gift Paul calls indescribable. 2 Corinthians 9:15.

“We give thanks to you, God; we give thanks to you… people tell about your wondrous works.” Psalm 75:1.

“I will give thanks to you because you have answered me and have become my salvation.” Psalm 118:21.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves it is God’s gift.” Ephesians 2:8.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the Father of lights…” James 1:17.

“The heavens are the LORD’s, but the earth he has given to the human race” (Psalm 115:16).

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness; all the peoples see his glory” (Psalm 97:6).

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples” (Psalm 105:1).

If there is no God, as some would have us believe, to whom would we give thanks? Who is it that is worthy to receive our praise and worship and yes, all our thanks? It is God, the creator and sustainer of all life and matter. Blessed be His Name!

Simply His,

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

Seeing, or Just Looking?

Dear friends,
Everyone at the lake is preparing for the Fourth of July celebration. Saturday morning, the comment was made that the lake front is looking very nice already. It takes dedicated volunteers to make that happen, and we are grateful for each and every one.

Very often, things need to be examined for possible problems, looking to see if there is something that has been overlooked. Maybe it is knowing that a piece of equipment isn’t working as it is supposed to, then one day a light comes on in your mind, and you see a problem you had not recognized. Here are a couple of examples from my week.

Lesson one: For longer than I should admit, I’ve known one of our outside water hydrants needed attention. The seal around the shutoff was leaking when the water was on. Monday, I decided to make repairs. I discovered it had been leaking under the house, and to delay was no longer an option. After a trip to town, and some time to make the repairs, all was well.

Lesson two: The kitchen cold water volume has been lower than the hot side for a long time. I could not figure it out, until just a few days ago. In an act of desperation, I looked under the sink one more time, and saw that the supply line to the cold side was a quarter inch line, as opposed to a half inch on the hot side. Eureka! How did I not see this before? Another trip to town, problem solved.

It is very much the same with our spiritual walk. Now and then, we need to stop and see if we are missing something that is right in front of us. All of us, if we were being honest, could say yes I need to check my life and see if I’m truly walking as the Lord wants me to. Here are a few verses to help us get started.

Psalm 26:2 Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
Lamentations 3:40; Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 13:5; Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
1 Peter 1:15; But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

The Lord Provides

Dear friends,
Our first camping adventure of the season is in the books. We took a different route than usual, due to someone’s refusal to heed good advice. We arrived at our destination anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. The campsites were muddy from recent rain, and I have renewed appreciation for my beloved Sandhills. On the return trip, a tire blew out on the camper about ten miles from home. With some assistance from a friend the tire was changed and it ended well.

The past few days we have experienced much warmer temperatures; some might say hot. With the southerly winds at play, we will soon be needing rain. I am glad the Lord is in charge of those things, and we can depend on Him to provide for us. The Scriptures give ample evidence of His sovereignty over all things in nature.

“How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hand with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach” (Job 36:26-33).

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. (Psalm 147:7-9)

“He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:10-14).

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry

He Lives

Hello friends,
Spring-like weather has everyone outdoors dreaming of summer. My lovely wife has even mentioned getting the camper ready to go! Here at the lake we are seeing people preparing their cabins for the summer season. We haven’t seen some of them since sometime in the fall. Soon our little community will be buzzing with activity, especially on the weekends.

There have been literally thousands of migrating geese passing through. Some have stayed for a while to rest up, others we have seen just flying over. The resident Canada geese have been showing signs of pairing off to begin the nesting season. I expect in a few weeks we will be seeing goslings on the lake.

As we are in the season of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to remind us that Easter is just around the corner. I prefer the term Resurrection Day, because it is the very reason for the holiday. FYI, the word holiday means ‘holy day’ in its original context. Many of our current holidays are anything but holy, but that is another discussion altogether.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. In fact, every Sunday is a celebration of His resurrection. The fact of the resurrection is unique to Christianity. No other religion has anything remotely resembling resurrection. Some speak of reincarnation, but who would want to come back to this world in any form?

The apostle Paul wrote this; “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 1:3-5).

According to Paul, if there were no resurrection, these three things would be true;
All people would be still in their sins.
All former believers would have eternally perished.
Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

Because the resurrection is true, we place our faith in the fact that God lives up to his promises.

I will close with the words of the old gospel song, Because He Lives:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

Praising His Name,
Pastor Jerry

Creation Speaks

Dear friends,
March has arrived, and spring will be coming soon. After a long cold spell, it felt good when the high temperatures began to be in the twenties. This week appears to be heading into the sixties for highs, I hope we can adjust! I won’t put away the winter clothes yet, I have seen too many springs to believe the winter weather is completely behind us.

We were blessed by the appearance of some trumpeter swans on the lake last week. Deer have been plentiful, as they seem drawn to lawns that are still green under the snow. I love seeing the variety of wildlife that lives here. Creation is an amazing thing, and I never get tired of seeing what God has made for our enjoyment. As our world seems bent on creating chaos, it is settling to the mind and spirit to reflect on the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.

It seems appropriate here to share the words of Psalm 19:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I can only say, AMEN!
Pastor Jerry

Finding Blessings

Dear friends,
Are we ready for some warmer weather? I’m ready, and I am sure you are, too. I know of no one who actually likes it this cold outdoors. As promised, here is an update on the cat’s visit to the vet last week. Since I brought her home it has been so cold we have kept her indoors, but for an ex-alley cat this is almost unacceptable. She has learned to use a litter box, but only when her pleas to go outside have been ignored. I’m sure she will be glad for some warmer weather.

In other news, after having gone several years without satellite television, we have decided to get one of those newfangled smart TVs. It remains to be seen which is smarter, the TV set, or the operator. It has a larger screen; the reasoning is that with a bigger screen we can read the captions easier. After all, our eyesight isn’t what it once was. In fact, the hearing isn’t that great, either.

With the cold and snow, along with taking precautions against getting some virus, I still find things to be thankful for. There would be a long list if I would start writing them all down, but I’ll share a few. I’m thankful for a warm home, friends that keep in touch, church family that we see in person those Sundays we meet together, and for the technology that allows us to meet via our small screen devices.

I’m thankful for our God, who knows all about us, and who cares for each of His children. For His salvation, that ensures we will spend eternity in His presence. For the forgiveness of the sin debt that was paid on Calvary. For the Bible, His written word, that by it we come to know all about Him, who He is, and His plan for each of us.

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)

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry