Archive for the ‘Blessings’ Category

Visible Proof

Hello friends,

As we begin a new week, I can tell you I have had a six-month checkup of my aorta repair. Doc said to come back in a year. Praise the Lord for gifted doctors, and for healing.

Weather update… The yo-yo effect continues as we move from one weather extreme to another. How about blizzards and prairie fires in the same week? Have you noticed the daylight hours are lengthening? It’s encouraging to think that longer days and shorter nights are just ahead.

We are blessed to live where we do. The sunrises and sunsets I believe, are unequaled anywhere in the world. Every day we are shown God’s glory in creation. I would add this; no matter where you may live, the Creation testifies to the existence of the Creator. As the scripture would indicate, mankind has no excuse for not knowing God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen… so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

If anyone has difficulty grasping the evidence of a Creator God, I suggest reading the following verses, and spend time taking in the beauty of this world. God is not hiding from us.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” Psalm 8:1.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1.

“The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of holy ones.” Psalm 89:5.

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.” Psalm 97:6.

“Be exalted, O God, above all the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.” Psalm 108:5

“The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.” Psalm 113:4.

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” Psalm 148:3

Having read those preceding verses, our proper response will be to praise Him, as is done in the following:

“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… Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:1-2, 6).

Praise the Lord,

Pastor Jerry

Thanksgiving 2020

Dear friends,
There is an early copy deadline for this week, so this will be written ahead of my usual schedule. Since the Thanksgiving holiday is this week, I can use that as my topic. First, the carport is now a garage, with two doors and a cute little window between them. As we were finishing up the structural part, there was a narrow opening between the doors; Milrae asked, “Is this where the window goes?” Me: If you want a window, that is where it will be. Thanks to Google, I was able to find a window fourteen inches wide, and twenty-seven inches high. It’s perfect for that spot!

As we think of things to be thankful for, our current weather pattern would be near the top of the list. I believe most of us could use some extra time outdoors to get the fall work done, and this makes it pleasant, to say the least.

I wonder how many people in our current culture could give the dictionary definition of thanksgiving? I’m not speaking of the holiday itself, but the general meaning of the word. Here are four definitions from various dictionaries.

The act of giving thanks and grateful acknowledgement of benefits or favors, especially to God.
An expression of thanks, especially to God.
A public celebration in acknowledgement of divine favor or kindness.
A day set apart for giving thanks to God.

The holiday named Thanksgiving, came from the early settlers, who took time to thank God for His provision in the New World. Later, it became a national holiday in 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation for a day to give thanks to God.

The psalmist said it best. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)

Instead of coming with a list of things we want, wouldn’t this be a good year to just thank Him for what we have? Who else would be worthy of our thanks and praise?

Blessed,
Pastor Jerry

On Being Neighbors

Dear friends,
Well, the last official summer holiday is here. Labor Day weekend is always very busy here at beautiful Lake Ericson; this year was no exception. Many families were seen enjoying all the lake has to offer. The weather for the long weekend was perfect, with much sunshine and slightly cooler temps than expected. The mid-week forecast is for temperatures to resemble late fall, and comes with the promise of rain.

If we weren’t aware of how blessed we are living in this part of the world, we must certainly realize it in our current environment. As I look out of the window facing the lake and the street, I see a way of life that most of the world would die for. There are no rioters, just families and friends. No confrontations over politics or ideas, just a peaceful community of ordinary people. We stop in the street and ask about each other’s’ families, our health, our plans, just everyday conversations, and caring for each other. I believe this is how God intended for us to live; in harmony with our neighbors and acquaintances.

In the scriptures that follow, the Bible speaks to believers in Christ, but I believe if everyone lived by the principles stated, this world would be a nicer place. Obviously, not all will take this to heart, but what a difference might it make if a few more people would take note?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:2-5).

Something must be laid aside, if one is to be a burden-bearer and that is conceit, an attitude that breeds intolerance of error in others and causes one to think he is above failure. [The Bible Knowledge Commentary].

The apostle Paul wrote this: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

Remember the commandment; Love your neighbor as yourself! Good words from God’s Word,

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Helping Hands

Hello friends,

The heat and wind have returned for a visit, but the forecast for later in the week is calling for cooler and wetter. You have to love living here! If variety is the spice of life, we should be pretty spicy…

Speaking of why we live here, we had another reminder of how blessed we are to live in rural Nebraska. While bringing our new old camper home Friday, one of its tires blew out. Not expecting something like this to happen, I had no tools for changing a tire. We unhooked the camper, drove home (about 20 miles), got a jack and wheel wrench, and returned to change the tire. Just as I was about to give out from the exertion required for an old man to loosen those pesky lug nuts, three young men pulled up and asked if they could help! I did not refuse, and in a matter of minutes, the job was completed. I failed to get their names, but if you were there, and are reading this… Thank You, again!

The Bible says something about giving aid to strangers, because they may be angels (Hebrews 13:2). I’m no angel, but those three young men would qualify from my perspective! Here is another verse from the book of Hebrews; “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).

We would make this world a better place, if we could only be like the Good Samaritan in the story Jesus told in Luke, chapter 10. You know the story; A man was beaten and robbed, and left by the side of the road. Those who would have been expected to help him, by-passed him on the other side of the road, so they wouldn’t have to get involved. The Samaritan, a man who would be shunned by any good Jew, stopped and gave the victim aid, even paying for his treatment and lodging. (Luke 10:30-35).

I can only imagine how different the news of today would be, if every citizen of our country would exhibit the compassion of this Samaritan. Three young men stopped and helped a couple of complete strangers change a tire, when they were obviously on their way home from a hard day’s work. I hope to be able to do the same, sometime down the road.

Just thinking (and being thankful),

Pastor Jerry

Memories

Hello friends,
It is time again, for another news brief and devotional thought. There is not much news from our place. We managed to get out for some groceries and for Milrae to get a haircut. She came out of retirement to give me a trim, but she needed a professional (didn’t really trust me to do it). It was good to just get out for a drive, and see the country. One thing more; Grandson Alex has graduated from Mitchell Technical Institute with honors. There was no graduation ceremony, the school will mail diplomas, along with a gift package. Congratulations to him for hanging in there.

Reality came to visit this week. It came in the form of a request for information on something from my far distant past. It is sobering to realize you are one of a few individuals with firsthand knowledge of times past. I’m thankful for being able to recall some long forgotten memories. The question had to do with the country school I attended some 70 years ago.

Scripture tells us to live our life as a long distance race. Paul reminds us that we should not live in the past, but to focus on what lies ahead as we live for Christ. He also tells us to remember our past, because we need to know where we came from.

I’m glad that things don’t stay the same. My education began in a one-room school with no electricity, no running water and no restrooms. Now we have on-line classes all the way to the college level. No one could have imagined such a change in 1949. I am thankful for the memories, but in no way would I want to go back.

Here is the application for the Christian: When we trust Jesus for our salvation, we become new creations. The old is gone and the new has come. Why would anyone want to return to that lost state? Remember the past, but don’t try to live there. We have new life and eternity is before us. The writer of Hebrews says to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1). Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).

In His precious name,
Pastor Jerry

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

Jesus is Lord

Hello friends,
The weather is in the news again. We reached 70+ degrees one day last week, then were greeted with snow and wind on Easter Sunday. Spring is out there somewhere, I am sure. The other big news item remains the Covid-19 virus. Lord willing, we will get past this pandemic and begin a return to life as we would want it to be.

On one of those nice days last week, I decided it was a good day to wash the windows on our sun porch. While gathering a bucket and some tools from the garage, I tripped and experienced one of those slow motion falls. You know what I mean; you know you are going down, but have a little time to plan your landing. After it was over, I had only a scuff mark and bruise above my left knee, and a little laceration on one finger. I was truly thanking the Lord it wasn’t worse. After the windows were clean, it all seemed worthwhile.

On Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For most of us, it was an Easter unlike any we had ever seen. In our church, we met through Zoom. It was a small group of people, but we were able to read and study the pertinent Bible passages, and listen to the preaching of our pastor. We saw each other’s faces, but missing was the personal interaction, the handshakes, and hugs.

In and through all this, here is the important thing to remember; in the midst of all the insecurity and all the unknowns of the day, Jesus Christ is Lord! He has a handle on all the things that are going on in the world. He has defeated death, sin, and the devil and he proved it on the day He rose from the tomb.

Read the following passages with me: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15). For more, read the whole chapter.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Creative Creator

Hello friends,
Last week, I told you of my planned heart bypass surgery. I can now report the surgery went well, and I am at home recovering. I have no rehab schedule presently, but somewhere, someone is preparing a plan. I now know much more about the process than I might have wanted to know. Word like saws, titanium plate, tiny screwdriver, screws… you get the idea. There were tubes and all kinds of wires and assorted monitors.

As I heal, I have been thinking about the wonder of the bodies God has given us. I met a man while in the hospital who claimed to be an agnostic. As I understand it, an agnostic will claim it is impossible to know God, and an atheist denies the existence of God, or even of a supreme intelligent being. My question at this point is, how then do you explain the complexity of the human body? How can you not see the hand of God in creating his own?

Oh, some will say it is the result of some random accident through which life began, or that some primitive life form ‘evolved’ to a human being. I for one, am glad for a Creator God, who not only designed mankind in His image, but that he equipped some to perform amazing procedures and others to help us on our way to recovery. In the last week, I have experienced some wonderful medical progress, and met some amazing individuals. From the doctors, ICU staff, nurses, CNAs, to housekeeping and nutritional staff. You are all special people!

Jesus is called the Great Physician and Healer, but he has some very talented individuals involved in the process. Thank you, also, for prayers for me this past week, I know they had much to with my speedy recovery from the immediate effects of the surgery and my eventual dismissal from the hospital in record time. God is King, and He is still on His throne. Praise Him daily!

It is not always God’s will for healing, but we should not fail to always pray. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)

Praising His goodness,
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

Reflecting on the Journey

Hello friends,
I have come to the realization that as I compose and send these articles out each week, I am using both old and new methods of communication. On the one hand there is the magic of the internet, but on the other is the time tested print media. When this thing called Lake City News began, it was a simple way to connect with a few family and friends. Email was the chosen method in the beginning, but eventually, it became a weekly column in three local newspapers under the title of “Pastor’s Corner”.

Today, in addition to those emails and newspapers, there is a blog called ‘sandhillspastor.com’, with links to Facebook and Twitter. To this day, I am amazed at the platform God has given me to share His good news with all who read these articles, wherever they appear. Also, thanks to all who have encouraged me to continue. As mentioned in another article, this month marks the twentieth anniversary of this ministry.

Most of us entered adulthood with some idea of how our lives would play out. I am reminded of these words; “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” {Proverbs 16:9). As I look back, I see that God had a plan for me unlike anything I envisioned. I grew up on a ranch, and when I finished high school, I informed my dad there had to be a better way to make a living. Guess what? God took me in a big circle that involved working on ranches around the Sandhills, ending up in 1972 back at the home place. We were there 40 years, until we retired from ranching.

In 1982, after a few years of attending a little church down the road from our place, God impressed upon me the need for Jesus in my life. On a Sunday morning in March of that year, I asked Jesus into my heart. If you knew all the details, you would probably ask how this cowboy/rancher ended up to be the pastor of a little church in the Sandhills?

The simple answer is this; it can only be the Holy Spirit of God working in the heart of a man. As someone has said, no one knows what God can do with a man who will commit to follow His leading.

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry