Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Keep Watch

Dear readers,
In news not reported last week, we had a couple of things happen we weren’t expecting. First, our house air conditioner gave up the ghost. We were able to get a new one installed before the weather warmed up too much. It’s been a really long time since we slept with windows open and fans running. The other event was that our house/outdoor cat Miss Meow met her end. Apparently, she was too slow crossing the street. As an alley cat, she adopted us a couple of years ago, but never did get too comfortable with domestic life.

We went back to our old neighborhood Sunday. I was asked to provide pulpit supply at the church for the day. It is good to visit there occasionally, but where we are now is home. We do enjoy reconnecting with old friends now and then, just to catch up on events in their lives. It encourages me to know that we and all our Christian brothers and sisters will be together someday in heaven. As the song says, “What A Day That Will Be!”

As we observe the trajectory of the culture, I can’t help wondering if that day could be nearer than we
might imagine. I am reminded of the words of Scripture as recorded in Matthew’s gospel account; “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into” (Matthew 24:36-43).

Watching,
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

He Lives!

Dear reader,
Last Tuesday evening, we received a little rain along with some lightning and thunder. It’s been too long since we heard the sound of raindrops on the roof, and a welcome sound it was. The warmer temperatures have increased the traffic around the lake, and there were several people fishing this weekend. Can it be spring after all? We will have to wait and see.

As the world seems to be spinning out of control, do you find yourself feeling anxious about the future? I have been guilty of that very thing, but when I go to God’s word, I am encouraged once again. I hesitate to write on this topic, because it seems I am in a rut here. However, as I listen to the cultural conversation, I hear many people asking the same questions.

With Easter just two weeks away, we may begin to contemplate what the resurrection of Jesus means in light of eternity. The apostle Peter speaks of the everlasting hope we have because of Christ’s resurrection.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who k faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Further down in the letter, Peter writes, “Through him (Jesus) you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1:21).

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Master Tuner

Hello friends,
We are officially observing Daylight Saving Time. I trust everyone made it to church on time Sunday. I have seen folks arrive in the parking lot just as worship was ending, and it was embarrassing for everyone.

I like music. I like to make music with my friends who play. I especially like playing when my guitar is in tune. Instruments have to be tuned to a standard, or else all you would have is a lot of meaningless noise. In the ‘old days’ that standard would have been a tuning fork, or a pitch pipe. These days there are electronic models with digital displays, allowing for exact pitch.

Our standard for living in tune with God is his Word. If we don’t return to him and retune, our lives can become like a musical instrument that needs tuning. As an out of tune instrument is not pleasing to the ear, a life not in tune with God has no purpose, nor does it bring him honor.

The Bible tells us that God’s word keeps us pure and in tune with his plan and purpose for our lives. Here are some examples; How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9 NIV).
Your word is completely pure, and your servant loves it (Psalm 119:140 CSB).
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11 NIV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). How do we renew our minds? By living according to God’s word and in his will.

Solomon wrote these words: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV). Does your life seem out of tune? Put it in the hands of the Master Tuner.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Ready or Not?

Dear friends,
I believe my battle with Covid is over. With each new day, I see improvement. The recent cold snap has encouraged us to stay indoors and be thankful for a warm place to stay.

As our world gets crazier every day, it is important to remember that our God is not sleeping, nor is he surprised by the things that are happening. Scripture reminds us again and again of unsettled times that will come, even reminding us that these are indications of the eventual return of Jesus Christ.

We read these words in Scripture: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 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.”

He goes on to say, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man… “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:3-8; 36-44).

As we see the events of the day unfolding, let’s not focus on whether the Lord returns soon, but that we are ready when he does. Today is the day of salvation. It is not too late.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

In His Hands

Dear friends,

We are almost a month into the new year. There are already new challenges and trials that we have experienced. In praiseworthy news; I had a checkup with the doctor who repaired my aneurism, and he said to come back in a year. I am thankful for medical progress.

Each day, it seems the world throws another worrisome thing at us. I am slowly learning that worrying is a useless activity. Someone once said worry is a lot like an exercise bike; it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.

Depend on God to get you through this day, today is all we know. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is in his hands. I don’t like to sound like a broken record (there’s a phrase from the past), but maybe someone besides me needs to hear the words of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel again.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).

Remember the words of the old song; He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands!

Blessings,

Pastor Jerry

Back to Basics

Dear friends,
There is enough ice on the lake for fishing. With the changing temperatures, it has been a guessing game as to how thick the ice might be on a given day. I grew up spending a lot of time on the ice, and found out early you can’t tell just by looking if it is safe. There have been several fishermen this weekend, and no one fell through. I see some warm up for the next week, so caution is still in order.

Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics. It is no different as we experience the Christian life. I was looking through some early issues of this devotional project, and came across the following. It reminded me of the need for some plain old-fashioned gospel teaching.

This is what I wrote: For the past few weeks, I have been studying some important topics pertaining to the Christian life. Things like sin, repentance, confession, self-denial, discipline and the like. This is the kind of stuff that makes the preacher examine his life as he prepares to teach others about the truth of the Christian walk. It is not a pleasant experience at times, but what joy to find that Jesus is the one who enables us to overcome the things that hinder our walk. I will briefly tie these things together, in order that we may see how they are all connected.

Sin is disobedience to God; repentance is turning from sin and back toward God. Confession is agreeing with God that we have sinned. Self-denial means forgetting self and giving oneself over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Discipline means self-control which is empowered by the Holy Spirit and which enables us to resist the temptation of sin, and to live a life pleasing to God.

My prayer is that we can put these truths to work in our individual lives, and begin anew to live as Jesus would have us to live. Then, those who do not have a relationship with our Lord Jesus would see him in us and have a desire to know him as well. He is still the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by him. (John 14:6).

May God bless each one in the coming days, and may you feel his presence in a special way.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Looking Ahead

Dear readers,

Well, here we are at the beginning of a new year. 2022 came in a bit cold and snowy at our place, but we didn’t have plans to go out, so we stayed warm. I went to bed at my usual time, but my lady made it past midnight. I woke up enough to wish her a Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year causes me to reflect on the events of the past 365 days. Each time, there are good things that come to mind, and a fair share of negative memories. The Bible tells us to forget the past and look to the future, and this is good advice. However, I do believe it is constructive to review those not-so-good experiences with the goal of learning from them. The apostle’s point is to not dwell on the past. In his words, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

As we look back, it is beneficial to see how the Lord has used both our positive and negative experiences to strengthen our faith and our dependence on His guidance. We are in a time when it seems there is more than our share of difficulties. I think of the pandemic, and the suffering that has brought. We see broken relationships that are affecting many individuals and families. Some have financial setbacks, and others experience suffering in the area of personal health. Also, we are seeing increased persecution of Christians around the world and here in America.

In light of all of this, the apostle Paul wrote, “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. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Peter reminds us that trials have come “so that your faith… may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed… for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9).

In Him

Pastor Jerry

Missing Jesus?

Dear friends,
I trust your Christmas celebration was a time of reflection on the Savior, along with fellowship of family and friends. Yet for some, it was also a time of sorrow because of loved ones lost in the past year. Thank God for Jesus, through whom we have been promised eternal life. Because of that we who believe will have a great glad reunion in heaven someday. This is our great hope.

Sometimes we feel that we are distanced from Jesus. He is not lost, but we have allowed ourselves to be distracted. This results in the feeling that he is missing in our life.

In Luke’s gospel we read this episode from the life of Jesus; Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming he was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days, they found him in the temple… (Luke 2:41-46a).

Lessons for us in this story; His parents were distracted by preparations to return home. He slipped away to be about his Father’s business. We, also, need to be careful not to lose sight of Jesus.

People make mistakes when they discover Jesus is missing. They press on down the path they are on, assuming he will meet them somewhere along the way. Usually, we have gotten ahead of him and his plan. I have heard it said, “if it seems Jesus is further from you than he was, guess who moved?”

When we discover Christ is missing in our lives, we must turn back to the place we last knew of his presence. It may have been a few days, or even years, but we must go back.

To keep from losing Jesus, we must spend much time in His word. We must keep our eyes on him, communicate with him in prayer, and allow his Spirit to speak to us. As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. These are some things to keep in mind for 2022.

Have a blessed New Year,
Pastor Jerry

Meeting Together

Dear friends,
We continue to swing back and forth between fall and winter. In the last week, we have seen sunshine and rain, warm and cold, windy and calm. There are few leaves remaining on the trees; yet in these extremes, there is still the beauty of God’s creation all around us.

Now and then, I will come across someone else’s observation about trends in the church today. Speaking to the issue of a lack of commitment in attending weekly church services, Thom Rainer asks the question, how did we get to the point that attending church on a once-a-month basis is normal behavior?

He gives five developments:
One, we fail to see that the local church is God’s plan A to do His mission on earth, and there is no plan B. It is clear in the New Testament from Acts 2 through Revelation 3 is all about the local church as the means of fulfilling His plan.

Two, we embrace the false notion that commitment to a local church is legalistic. If we used that argument with the family unit, we would say “Oh, your commitment to your family is too legalistic.”

Three, we have let culture dictate our schedules. If we would resist the temptation to put other activities ahead of church attendance, we would communicate to the culture what is and is not important.

Four, we have accepted strawman arguments about gathering at our local church. Have you heard either one of these arguments? “The church is not about the building, it’s the people.” Or, “The church is about sending, not attending.” The writer of Hebrews said, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another… (Hebrews 10:25).

Five, we see church as a place to be served rather than to serve. Have you ever heard church members argue about their preferences? Sure you have. Preferences about the style of music in worship. About the order of worship. About the time of services. The list goes on.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions: Am I really connected to a local church? Am I attending without excuses? Am I looking to serve? Am I willing to give up the influence of the culture to be a growing disciple in my church? How committed am I to the local body? Let’s be part of the solution.

Food for thought,
Pastor Jerry