Archive for the ‘Blessings’ Category

Songs of the Season

Hello friends,
We got a break from the cold weather this week. This gave holiday travelers something else to be thankful for. Part of my week was taken up with installing a garage door opener. It was something of a challenge, due to some sketchy instructions and my inability to read between the lines of said instructions. After an email to customer service, and some good guess work, we can now open the door without getting out of the vehicle.

The radio stations have begun playing Christmas music, and oh how we need to hear the message of Christmas today! As we remember the coming of Jesus to earth, the season of advent, we are reminded anew of the promises of God regarding a Savior.

When I speak of Christmas music, I’m not thinking of Frosty, Rudolph, or Baby It’s Cold Outside. I am instead thinking of Hark the Herald Angels, O, Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night; songs with the real message of Christmas. Songs of hope and of the One who came to die for us, in order that we might be saved from the penalty of sin. This is Christmas.

How could we ever tire of hearing and singing of the advent of our Savior? How could we tire of the message of salvation through faith in His finished work on the cross? Read with me a part of the Christmas story.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She 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 1:18-21).

Finally, in John 3:17 we read this: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Giving Thanks

Dear readers,
As I write this week’s article, it is sunny outside, but it certainly isn’t warm. We appear to be in for a cold spell, with little to no chance of moisture. The lake community continues to prepare for the second annual Trail of Lights. Reports are that the display will be bigger and better than last year. More info is available on the Lake Ericson Facebook page.

The Thanksgiving holiday is this Thursday. Some days it is hard to find things to be thankful for, but we can always be thankful for a good night’s sleep, and for a new day’s dawning. I sometimes wonder who do you thank if you don’t acknowledge God? If you don’t believe there is a God who is our provider, do you thank the government, or some good luck charm? Maybe you thank your lucky stars? How do you know which stars are lucky? Do four leafed clovers bring happiness or contentment to life?

From a biblical perspective, all we have comes from God Almighty. He is the creator and sustainer of the universe. Nothing exists that wasn’t put here by God, according to His perfect plan. It is He to whom we give thanks for every good and perfect gift. “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 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 1:16-17).

The prophet Isaiah reminds us to “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world (Isaiah 12:4-5).

Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul writes, “He 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” (Colossians 1:15-16). Yes, even the government was created and put in place by the Creator God.

As the old familiar doxology says;
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above the heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Jerry

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

A Notable Event

Dear readers,
We still have no precipitation of any measure. Please continue to ask the Lord to send those soaking rains we so desperately need. We have cleaned up the garden in preparation for winter, and I was surprised to find the deer had eaten things I wouldn’t have expected; things like the tops of the tomato and pepper plants, along with rhubarb leaves. Who knew?

Saturday, we attended what is really a rare occasion; a 75th wedding anniversary. It was the celebration of a long lasting marriage, but also a time of visiting with old friends. We live in a time when it is becoming harder to find lasting marriage relationships. What a testimony of faithfulness to the marriage covenant! I am sure this couple would tell you it hasn’t always been easy, but obviously they took their marriage vows seriously.

Perhaps this would be a good time for a review of God’s plan for marriage and families. It started in the book of Genesis, as God was creating the world and everything in it. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” On the sixth day, God created all animal life, then we read: “So God created man 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…” (Genesis 1:27-28a).

In chapter two, we read more of the creation of the man and woman. “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being… The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” … So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:7, 18, 20-24).

The longevity of this marriage is rare, and worthy of recognition. Congratulations, friends!

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

On Aging

Dear friends,
The garden is done; the frost has had the last word. I wouldn’t consider it a fruitful season, except for the cucumbers and peppers. Tomatoes and green beans just couldn’t win. I’m sure there were several factors involved, including heat and drought. I suppose that much like zucchini, the neighbors were probably tired of seeing us coming to their doors with free cucumbers. They were gracious though, and accepted our offerings.

I am beginning to feel the changing of the season in the air. There is a chill in the air in the morning, the leaves are changing colors, with some starting to fall to the ground. The winds are becoming more northerly, and the birds are flocking together in preparation for migrating to a warmer climate.

Maybe it is because I just passed another milestone on my personal calendar that I am reminded of the seasons of life. Spring, when we are young, summer as we enjoy the middle years, autumn as we reach those golden years, and winter as we approach the end of our lives. It is a part of God’s plan for mankind.

The Bible speaks of aging in a generally positive light. It speaks of the wisdom of the aging: “Remember the days of old, consider the years of past generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will teach you” (Deuteronomy 31:7). “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life” (Job 12:12).

It speaks of the honor due the aging: “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:21).

The Bible also notes the continuing service of the aging believer; speaking of those who love God, it reads; “They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green,” (Psalm 92:14). Here is a promise from the Lord as we age; “I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Young and old each have their unique worth; they are not in competition. “The glory of young men is in their strength, and the splendor of old men is gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).

In His strength,
Pastor Jerry

Defend Life

Dear readers,
We are starting this week camping out in South Dakota. We are at Alex’s place for a visit, and will probably head back home Tuesday. As always, plans are subject to change at any moment. We are glad for some moderate temperatures, but could definitely use some nice rain.

The big news of the week by any measure, was the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. This is something that concerned Christians have prayed for and worked at for almost fifty years. Much has been said in recent days about the subject, so I will not argue the point in this article, except to point to Scripture.

The Bible places a high value on all human life, including that of the unborn. Bible teaching declares that life is a sacred, God given gift; “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). The gift includes the life of children; “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4).

God condemns those who take human life; “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13), “The Lord says; I will not relent for punishing the Amorites for three crimes, even four, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their territory” (Amos 1:13).

The development of unborn life is controlled by God; “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well” (Psalm 139:13-14).

In closing, we Christians will need to continue the effort to preserve life, not only in the unborn, but at all stages of life. “Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
“This is what the Lord says: Administer justice and righteousness… Don’t exploit or brutalize the resident alien, the fatherless, or the widow. Don’t shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3).

Lastly, pray for America, and pray for many to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

In truth,
Pastor Jerry

Faith Is The Key

Dear friends,
The news this week was the big wind that blew through on Thursday. There was minimal damage to structures at the lake, but some trees were blown over. We were without power for a day or so, depending on location, but that has been restored. The power company still has much work to do, replacing broken poles and such. On a positive note, there were no injuries as far as I know. In a recent article I had commented on the power of the wind, obviously having no idea what was in store for us!

In other news, our middle grandson graduated from high school on Saturday. We’re proud of his accomplishments, and wish him much success in life. It was a good day and great day weather-wise; sunny and a light breeze, something we’ve not seen a lot of lately. With the recent rain and warm temperatures, lawn mowing is a priority, but I will probably tire of this job before the end of summer.

As the world seems to be spiraling out of control, I have to remind myself not to worry. God is in control. Even though it may seem He is asleep at the wheel, He is fully aware of our individual situations. Let us remember His words in scripture.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:23).
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

There is more: 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 with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). 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 41:13).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).

Faith is the key. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Believing and trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

Praising God

Dear readers,
Rain, wonderful rain! As of this writing, we had received 1.7 inches. It has been a long time since we have had meaningful moisture of any kind, and personally, I prefer rain to snow. This is an answer to many prayers over the last few months, especially in light of all the wildfires our state has experienced. I suspect there were many people out dancing in the rain. This blessing from God should be celebrated as such. May we break out in song like the psalmist.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared among all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Psalm 96:1-6.

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.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:7-11.

Praise the Lord, praise him in the heavens, praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations. Psalm 148:1-11.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Easter Reflections

Dear readers,

Here is a sure sign of spring at Lake Ericson…kids with golf carts. This is not a bad thing, as it is good to see families enjoying the lake. Also, there were campers here this weekend. This reminds me to remind those who are contemplating camping at the lake, there are no campfires allowed until further notice. This is due to the extreme drought conditions in the area.

We, along with millions of other Christians, celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus on Sunday. Because of our belief and faith in his finished work on the cross, we look forward with great anticipation to that day we will meet him face-to-face. As the old hymn says, “What a day that will be!”

It is a story I never get tired of hearing or telling. The idea that God would provide His Son as the sinless sacrifice for the whole world is impossible to grasp by our little minds. Yet, we are told in his word, that this is exactly what has taken place.

The following verses speak to this fact: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God, though our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:6).

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become 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).

In His unending love,
Pastor Jerry

Renewal

Dear readers,
The big weather news these days seems to be the lack of rain in the forecast. I have heard it said we always get rain when we need it the most. I wonder how much needier we can be? As in every situation, we need to keep praying and trust the Lord to provide.

Signs of spring are appearing. The geese are pairing off, so I suppose we can expect goslings in a few weeks. Flowers are starting to break through the soil, giving hope for blossoms of daffodils and tulips. Before I know it, lawn mowing season will be here!

Springtime brings thoughts of new beginnings and new life. Think baby calves, lambs and foals that are born in this season. Renewal and regeneration are good words to ponder. Bulbs that were planted in the fall begin to send up new growth that hint at beauty that is to come in the form of fragrant blossoms.

These things are all part of God’s plan for his creation. All parts of creation testify to the goodness of God, and the human race enjoys the privilege of bearing his image. At this time of year, it seems appropriate to celebrate, and to acknowledge God’s presence and all that he has given us.

With the appearance of new life, we are reminded of the provision of eternal life through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For it is by faith we are saved, not by works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In spite of Adam’s sin, by which the creation was subjected to futility, slavery to corruption, groaning and suffering (Romans 1:18-23). “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pain until now” Romans 8:22). God’s handiwork faithfully continues to attest to his eternal power and divine nature. Though God’s image in the human race was marred due to the fall, the image is being renewed in those who are new creatures in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I will close with these words: Lord, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth and it stands firm. Your judgments stand firm today, for all things are your servants (Psalm 119: 89-91).

All praise to Him,
Pastor Jerry