Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

God With Us

Dear readers,
There was some interesting weather last week, with much property damage, yet as far as I know there were no lives lost. For this we thank God. Not related to the storms, but needing prayer are those families who have lost loved ones in the last few days. Our prayers are for God’s comfort and healing in each of those situations.

Another Christmas celebration is upon us. This week I will share the following from a booklet titled, “God’s Gift of Christmas” by Dr. John MacArthur.

“God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning defined the fundamental purpose for the Son’s coming to earth. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, or Jeshua, each of which means “Jehovah will save.” The baby Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to in the plan of God would grow up to testify to the Father’s salvation and would Himself be that salvation. By His own sacrificial death on the cross and triumphant resurrection from the grave He would save His own—all those who are drawn from sin to repentance and who receive faith to embrace His atoning work.

He would also be called Immanuel, which means, literally, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It is a promise of incarnate deity, a promise that God himself would appear as a human infant. Immanuel, God with us.” This baby who was to be born would be God Himself in human form.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into just three words, these words would be “God with us.” At Christmas we tend to focus on the infancy of Christ, but the greater truth of the holiday is his deity. He is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!

Immanuel, infinitely rich became poor. He assumed our nature, entered our sin polluted world, took our guilt on Himself although He was sinless, bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). All of that is wrapped up in “God with us.”

The immeasurable gift of Christmas is this. Christ, God’s own Son gave up all His wealth and privilege to live as God with us, that He might save His people from their sins, and that through His poverty they might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Merrie Christmas!
Pastor Jerry

Who is Jesus?

Dear readers,

A little snow fell this weekend. Here at the lake, it was three or four inches. With the warmer temps this week, I don’t expect it to hang around very long. The snow always adds to the beauty of the Christmas lights around the neighborhood. The first annual Trail of Lights was held last week, and by all reports was a huge success. Plans are being made for an even better display next season.

On the topic of Christmas, I wonder at times if there are people who don’t really know who, or why we celebrate at Christmas? Most folks would say it is about the birth of Jesus Christ, but do they really know who he is?

Who is this Jesus, whose birth we celebrate? Jesus asked his disciples at one point, “who do people say

that I am?” They answered him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.” “But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”

Today, there are many who will say Jesus was a moral person, or that he was a great teacher. Some see him as a historical figure, and some believe he is just make-believe. There is only one right answer to the question, and Peter supplied the correct answer.

If one believes the Bible is God’s unchanging word, then Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. There are other descriptions of Jesus in the Bible; Light of the world, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Son of God, the Word. In Isaiah 9:6, the promised Messiah is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus, speaking of himself said, “I am the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Above all, He came to save the world from the penalty of sin. “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).

Many years ago, in sharing my testimony, I appealed to my listeners with the following verses of scripture from the writer of Hebrews; “So as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Is He speaking to you today?

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Why Christmas?

Dear friends,

As we contemplate the coming of Jesus to the manger in Bethlehem, I want to share a devotional from Pastor Greg Laurie.

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.”
—Galatians 4:4–5

We are on the verge of celebrating Christmas, and we’ll talk a lot about the Baby born in the manger and the beauty of the Incarnation. But the purpose of the Incarnation was so there would be the death of Jesus and, ultimately, the resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus came to Earth to die for the sins of the world. Yet His disciples didn’t get that because it was lost in translation. Their hope and belief was that He would establish an earthly kingdom then and there. Their hope and belief was that He would drive out the Romans who were occupying the land.

After Jesus fed the five thousand, His most popular miracle at the time, the people wanted to make Jesus king by force so that He would bring Rome’s occupation to an end. They didn’t understand that it wasn’t the reason He had come to this earth.

It was always God’s plan for Christ to die. Revelation 13:8 calls Him “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (NKJV). What does that mean? It means that before there was a planet called Earth and a garden called Eden, before there was a couple known as Adam and Eve who ate of the forbidden fruit, God knew that humanity would blow it.

Adam and Eve’s sin didn’t come as a surprise or shock to God. He knew it would happen. So He already had a plan. His Son would come to this earth and be born in a manger, live a perfect life, and die on the cross for the sins of the world.

Of course, one day Jesus Christ will come back and establish His kingdom. One day He will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. But before Christ would wear a crown, He would first have to die on a cross and then rise from the dead.”

As Christmas approaches, let us not forget the Reason we celebrate.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

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

Christmas Hope

Hello all,
Our Christmas decorations are up, and now we can enjoy them. The lake community has taken on a festive look with all the lights on display and you are welcome to drive through the community and take a look. The lack of snow doesn’t give that “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” look, but in checking the forecast, this might change.

In the aftermath of the election, there is much discussion over what the future looks like. There are many opinions, but very few solid facts. The one thing that comes to me is this; if anyone is depending on politicians to save the world, they are placing their faith in the wrong thing. Don’t waste your time and energy on this one. Government will not save you, neither will a president, governor or king. Politics is not the savior of anyone. Only Jesus Christ can save. The Bible clearly states that the world is broken because of sin, and He is the only remedy.

In the Psalms we read, “Some trust in chariots and horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).

At Christmas time, the old carols remind us of the reason He came, and they give us joy and a hope for the future.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing….

One of my favorites is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Written in a dark time, it speaks of future hope. I’ll begin at verse three;
And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then ringing, singing on its way, the world revolved from night to day—a voice, a chime, a chant sublime of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Do not despair. God is still on His throne. He is not sleeping. He is fulfilling his plan and purpose. Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Look for the Light

Dear friends,
We have had mostly nice weather for the past week, and it looks to be more of the same in the near future. We managed to get some Christmas decorations up over the weekend, but there are still totes that aren’t empty. We don’t seem to have the stamina to put them all up in one day as we have done in the past!

We will stay on the subject of Christmas this week. I sometimes think we are too quick to forget Christmas. Instead of taking the time to acknowledge the great gift of God in sending His son to bear the sin debt of the whole world, we want to get those gifts unwrapped and move on.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, very few people were aware of his coming. The innkeeper had no room to put them up, so his family ended up in a livestock shelter, which was probably a cave. As we read the story, it appears the only ones who showed up to worship the newborn were lowly shepherds. The religious leaders certainly weren’t interested enough to seek him, and Herod showed little interest, except to view the news as a threat to his political position. The prophet Micah, foresaw the Messiah as being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The religious leaders knew of this prophecy, yet didn’t take the time to check it out.

As we think of that first Christmas, we might wonder, is it any different today? People are so busy with the little details of their lives, that they have no time for Jesus, and they really aren’t interested in finding out about Him.

The prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus’ appearance among men in this way; “The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in darkness.” (Isaiah 9:2). In the New Testament, John wrote this of Jesus; “In Him was life, and that light was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it… He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:4-11).

Jesus said; “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Have you seen the Light? What is your response?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Christmas is Coming

Hello friends,
After a week of very nice November weather, it seems we are going to cool off for a time. The seasons are still in transition, I guess. I trust you had a pleasant Thanksgiving observance in spite of the Covid19 virus. Some of the Christmas lights here at the lake have been put up, and more will appear. You are invited to drive through the lake community and enjoy the efforts of the residents. So far, there has only been light conversation regarding our own display, but I suspect action will be taken in the near future.

On the subject of Christmas, we are in the Advent season as noted in the church calendar. In fact, we are only three Sundays away from Christmas. It is not too early to begin thinking about the holiday, what it means, and how we are to respond to it. We all know the Christmas story from the gospels, but I like to go to the Old Testament and read the prophecies concerning the birth of the Savior. A favorite passage is from Isaiah.

“For to us a child is born, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In the New Testament, we read Jesus’ words, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38-40).

Perhaps you have heard the Christmas story many times, but have never made the decision to place your trust in Jesus for your salvation. I pray you do so before any more time passes. It is not too late.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

It’s Christmas Time

Hello friends,
I’m writing early this week, because of early copy deadlines. I’m trusting the system to get season’s greeting to you in a timely manner, so here goes!

Merry Christmas! It is that time again, the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior. The day may, or may not, reflect the actual time of year for the event, but at any rate, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as it was written in scripture, ‘just at the right time’.

The apostle John wrote in his gospel, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. The Word was Jesus, Son of God, the promised Messiah.

Isaiah prophesied His coming this way;
For to us a child is born, to us a child is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)>

The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Galatians chapter four; But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full right of sons. Galatians 4:4-5).

Finally, from Colossians 1:15-18… “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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

Our world today seems to be out of control, and we often wonder where it will all end. Take heart, God is in control. His plan will be brought to its completion. As we come to the end of the year, let’s remember, God’s got this.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Prepare Him Room

Hello friends,
We awoke this Sunday morning to several inches of new snow on the ground. We drove to Niobrara Saturday, to meet and have lunch with Alex, and except for being a bit chilly, it was a nice day. Last week, we made a trip to Grand Island to get a redo on a tire repair. We had it fixed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still losing air pressure. When the tire was fixed, the shop manager handed me the tire tester that I had left on the hood. The Lord looks out for the forgetful, too!

Speaking of the Lord’s provision for mankind, we are rapidly approaching Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of the Lord Jesus to a little town called Bethlehem. You recall the story… Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, only to find there was no place to stay, but in a stable (Luke 2:1-7). The inn-keeper has gotten a lot of negative publicity over the years for turning them away, but God was working out his plan for the Messiah to be born in humble surroundings.

We have no record of the conversation between the inn-keeper and Joseph. What if he had known who he was turning away, would he somehow make room for them? Sadly, today there are millions who are turning the Savior away, because they can find no room in their hearts for Jesus. Many Christians, I fear, sometimes get so caught up in the commercial aspect of the holiday, they forget the Reason for the season.

Years ago, there was a book written called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” In it the writer likened his heart to a home where Jesus wanted to live. The man went room-to-room through his “home”, and asked himself whether each one was fit for Jesus to visit. He found many things he needed to clean out before it was a proper dwelling for the Lord.

It is a sad fact that many today have no room for a Savior in their hearts, but I suspect most Christian hearts need a proper housecleaning from time to time. Do you remember the lyrics to the old Christmas carol? “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him Room.”

It is not too late to make room for Him.

Celebrating His coming,
Pastor Jerry

A Reminder

Another week has gone by, and the year is drawing to a close. The shortest day of the year is rapidly approaching. and by the time March comes around, the lengthening of daylight hours will be noticeable. It is also the time when, due to the holidays, we who contribute articles to our local newspapers will find new deadlines to meet.

If my next few columns seem a bit disoriented, I can blame it on being forced out of the comfortable little rut I have gotten into. Those who do not read this in the newspaper, will just have to play along, because everyone gets the same material, just by different means.

This week, I will share a thought or two about Christmas, and what I believe we need to remember about the holiday. I see others writing what I would call ‘feel good’ statements, about the meaning of Christmas, and I think where did they get that idea?

One particular statement caught my eye this week. It was written by the pastor of a mainline church. The article ended with the thought that Jesus came to give the gift of love, and to be a great teacher and an example to all mankind. This is true in a sense, I suppose, but the words of Jesus bring a different message; one that is often overlooked in our day.

Of course we all know John 3:16, in which Jesus says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” But the verse goes on to say that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. In the very next verse, he says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Here are more words of Jesus: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 5:17). “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17b).

“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

In His enduring love,
Pastor Jerry