Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

He Lives!

For those who have been asking about fishing reports, I finally have something to report. I have been seeing fishermen on the lake recently, so I decided it was time for me to get serious. Thursday afternoon, I spent a couple of hours fishing from the lake shore. Having had no success, I was about to give it up as wasted effort, and decided to make just ‘one more cast.’ As soon as my lure hit the water, I thought I must have gotten snagged on a tree limb. As I reeled in the line it felt like dragging dead weight. About ten feet from shore, the “log” started trying to escape. It turned out to be a 31 inch, 7 ½ pound northern pike. After some deliberation, I put it back in the lake. Now you know there is at least one nice fish in Ericson Lake.

Sunday, we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord. It was a great time of fellowship and worship, and I trust your Easter was the same. I really believe, that many times we fail to adequately understand the significance of this most important event in Christian history.

Have you ever considered, of all the religions in the world, Christianity is the only one with a living Savior? Every other religion’s founder is dead, and his followers can name the place he is buried. God raised Jesus from the dead, and He resides in heaven today.

In dying, Jesus paid the penalty for all the sins of all people. Yours and mine. Past, present and future. In doing so, He gave us the opportunity to spend all eternity with Him. Salvation from sin and its penalty, is available to all who believe this, and who by faith will accept the gift offered.

“For God so loved the world, He sent his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16-17).

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

He Lives! Praise be to God for His indescribable gift!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

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Persecution: A Blessing?

Sunday, I had the pleasure of preaching at two small rural churches. I was helping out a fellow pastor, who recently had surgery. The churches are about a 40-minute drive from each other. It is good to see small congregations in out-of-the-way places contending for the faith (Jude 3).

This week, as we contemplate the events leading up to the death, burial, resurrection of our Lord, here are some thoughts related to our time.

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great numbers of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).

In our day, it seems anytime Christians speak or act in a way that reflects Jesus Christ, they are criticized by many. Such as, when the Vice President of the U.S. makes a commitment to never be alone with any woman other than his wife, and is verbally attacked by the liberal media. Anyone who points out that God calls sexual immorality sin, is labeled intolerant, or judgmental. If anyone holds to biblical values and morality, they are shouted down or persecuted in some way. If we say Jesus is the only way to a relationship with God, we are called narrow minded and intolerant.

These are the words of Jesus. “All men will hate you because of me” (Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13). “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets” (Luke 6:23).

There is good news! Godless men may accuse and abuse us, but victory is ours through the power of God, who raised Jesus from the dead! Recall the words of Peter and John, when commanded not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus: “Judge for yourself whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Spring Things

Dear friends
Here we are in the month of April. One fourth of 2017 is history. Now that is a sobering thought. I wonder if I used that time wisely? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

Saturday, we traveled to Kearney to a barbershop music concert. It was maybe the most entertaining 2 hours I have spent recently. There was some good clean comedy mixed in with the music, also. This is something of a rarity these days, and it was good to experience this once again, also.

Signs of spring are becoming more and more obvious. The flower bulbs we planted last fall are pushing up leaves, and the promise of blossoms is seen in little buds among those leaves. I have found that deer like tulip and daffodil leaves, so preventive measures have been taken.

Driving down the road, we see little calves in pastures and in calving lots. It is a busy time of the year for livestock producers, as I well remember. I do have to say, I appreciate them more now, from the window as we pass by.

Spring also brings thoughts of resurrection and new life, as portrayed in the biblical account of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s remember the words of the apostle. “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 15:3-4). This is the heart of the Easter message.

Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” The early Christians took those words seriously, as we read in Acts 5:42… “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

By faith in Him, we are born again spiritually, we become a new creation, with a new life and a new identity. And in this season of new beginnings, we can celebrate our own new beginning and the promise of resurrection from the dead when our Savior returns for us on a day that seems to be fast approaching.

May we never get tired of telling, or of hearing, the old, old story!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

More Than Decor

As we draw near to Good Friday and Easter, I believe it would be good to take some time and reflect on the Cross. The following is excerpted from an article by a favorite writer of mine. The article is entitled “An Ordinary Cross.”

“The cross,” someone once said, “has become so ordinary that we hardly see it anymore.” The thought struck me as I walked through a shop with items to buy stashed in every crevice: frog shaped garden statues, multi-colored curios, inventive décor made from soda cans, beach glass, and refurbished car parts. Occasionally surfacing through blanketed floors and ornamented walls were cross shaped or cross-adorned objects, so ordinary in a shop so out-of-the-ordinary, they were almost hard to notice at all.

“The cross has become so ordinary that we hardly see it anymore. The thought altered the remainder of my browsing. How can this be true? How can an image once shameful enough to bow the proudest heads become ordinary? Could the gallows ever become innocuous? Would the death sentence of someone near us ever fail to get our attention, much less blend in beside earthenware and figurines?

“Perhaps it is true that the cross has become so ordinary we hardly see it anymore. But if the cross has become merely a symbol of Christianity, an emblem of one religion in a sea of others, it is still a symbol that stands apart from the others. Even as an image among many, it remains conspicuously on its own.

“For those who will not look carefully, the cross can be seen as foolish or not seen at all. It can be stripped of meaning or emptied of beauty, hope, and depth. But it cannot be emptied of Christ. The message of the cross may be nothing to some, but to those who will stand in its shame and offense, scandal and power, it is everything.”

The cross is more than decor; it is the symbol of the price paid for our salvation.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

On Blessings and Trials

You may have noticed there was no article from me last week. I had one of those springtime colds that left me no desire to do anything, except to survive. I am much better now, thank you.

I’ll give you a brief recap of the missing week: It started Monday with a trip on to Grand Island to get some things for the lake house. On my way home from Grand Island with the little trailer behind the van, I stopped for gas and realized I had lost the trailer. To say I was surprised, would be an understatement. On examination, I discovered the receiver hitch pin was missing, as was the hitch and trailer.

It was a little like the Bible story of the woman who had ten coins and lost one. She went to great lengths to find the lost one. I have several trailers, and I was not one bit concerned about the ones left at home, but was very interested in finding the lost one. I did find the trailer and its cargo sitting upright and in great condition, parked in the edge of a cornfield beside the highway. This was cause for celebration and praise to the Lord for keeping it safe and out of the way of others on the road.

Tuesday, there was a visit to the tax man. The blessing of that was, in spite of a fairly large amount of tax due the IRS, it could have been much worse.

In the middle of the week, came the beginning of the aforementioned cold or flu, whatever it was. I even stayed home from church that Sunday and let someone else preach in my place.

Last week was spent regaining my strength and motivation, and it ended yesterday celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus with many of our church family. I also had the privilege of conducting a baby dedication service just prior to the Easter message.

It was a couple of weeks of blessing and trial, with the several blessings making the trials seem less important. Looking back, I see that the happenings of the last 14 days allowed me to pause and see what matters most. It begins with my faith in the Risen Lord, and knowing that He is in charge of every situation, good or bad.

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Springtime Meditations

We are starting to see a green tinge developing in the grass. The prevailing breezes are shifting to the south, trees are budding, and spring is in the air. The only thing lacking in our area is rain. There have been numerous grass fires in recent days, and most everyone is praying for rain. If the forecast holds true, those prayers may be answered early this week.

At the lake house, I am getting very close to finishing the sun porch. Next, we will try to get some grass established before the weather gets to warm. I may seek professional help in that area, because Milrae would like to see some actual grass.

The church calendar shows Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Resurrection Day coming up very soon. The good thing is these observances have a message that is timeless. This sounds like a good topic for our devotional this week.

When we were ranching, spring was always a reminder of good things to come, and after becoming a Christian, it all held new meaning for me.

Things like the knowledge that through faith in Jesus, I was raised to new life by being born again. Given a new start. A new heart. Become a new creation. Renewed in my spirit. My broken relationship with God restored through faith in Christ and belief in His resurrection.

Follow me through these verses. In John 3:3, to Nicodemus, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” God makes a promise to his people; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

New life. A new start. Salvation from sin and guilt. Eternity with my Lord and Savior. These are what Spring-time and the Resurrection mean to me.

In remembering the new little calves playing in the sunshine, I am also reminded of an Old Testament verse. “And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Enjoying the Son shine,
Pastor Jerry

Resurrection is Coming!

Saturday, it was 70 degrees, and a beautiful day. Sunday began with rain that changed to wet snow and high winds. The high temperature for the day was in the low 40’s, by late afternoon, it was near freezing. It must be spring in the Sandhills.

This week brings two events that mark the foundation of the Christian faith. Those two being Good Friday, and Easter. Good Friday is important because it was the day the Lord Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “He was delivered over to death for our sins…” (Romans 4:25). The apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
Easter (I prefer Resurrection) Sunday commemorates the raising of Jesus from the dead. Peter puts it this way: “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…” (1 Peter 1:3).
Without these two, our faith would be useless, and we would have no hope for eternity. Paul sums it up in this way: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17).
I’ll close with this little poem:
“Easter time is here again
and bunnies everywhere,
Don’t salute a substitute,
there is no holy hare.
So colored eggs and jelly beans,
don’t mean a bunny thing,
Cause bunnies do, what bunnies do
and have no gifts to bring
So Easter time’s the time to know,
a lie could not survive.
And here’s the proof in gospel truth;
JESUS IS ALIVE!”
[William F. Heffner]
Because He Lives,
Pastor Jerry