Archive for the ‘Eternal Life’ Category

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

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Planning for Eternity

Our week started out rather nice, but by Thursday there was a radical change in the weather. We experienced snow for the second time in recent weeks. Friday morning, the temperature here was 13 degrees, with a stiff northwest breeze. I am definitely not ready for this.

The election is over now, and whether or not you are satisfied with the result, this is still the best place in the world to live, in my humble opinion. We are still a free society, and have freedoms that are not available in many parts of the world. Let us not take those freedoms for granted.

I have a habit of reading the obituary page of the newspaper. One phrase I see now and then, is that a person died unexpectedly. I suppose it is that the person died without warning. No one really expects to die, even though we know it is a part of life.

Knowing that we will pass from this life at some point in time, the question should be, am I ready to die? What preparations have I made for this event? Many people do estate planning, purchase cemetery plots, and make funeral arrangements in advance. But how many stop to consider where they will spend eternity?

There seems to be a general lack of concern for what lies beyond this life. Most people, I believe, just live in the here and now, with little thought of anything beyond. The truth is that there is life after death, and everyone will spend eternity somewhere. The Bible gives two destinations. One is heaven, the other is hell. There are some who believe in heaven, but think they will be allowed in because of their good deeds, and that they are in better standing with God than others they know. Some claim hell will be their destination, after all their friends will be there. Still others believe there will be opportunity to choose, after they die.

The Bible says this: Man is destined to die once, and after that, to face judgment. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, there is no other name by which we must be saved. Now is the day of salvation.

No one is promised tomorrow. Where will you spend eternity if you should ‘die unexpectedly’? Make those preparations now. Place your faith and trust in the Savior.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A View of God

Hello friends,
Again with the weather. We’ve had beautiful days this week, and it brings memories of autumns past. I think this is called Indian Summer. Whatever you call it, I’m all for letting it continue. With all the newsworthy events going on in the world, it is good to pause and take in the good things God provides, including the changing of the seasons.

The popular view of God is that he is a God of love and mercy, of forgiveness, and there are those who promote the idea that he is a loving grandfather who wouldn’t judge anyone. The Bible reveals a God who is love, for sure, but along with this, it also emphasizes his justice and his wrath.

Now, there are many people who would say the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and judgement, but not so in the New Testament. This is not true. God does not change. If he judged people in the Old Testament for rejecting Him, He will do so in this age. True justice grows from love and rewards obedience, while punishing disobedience. The New Testament writers certainly did not ignore the fact of a wrathful God. Pay close attention to the following passages of scripture.

From Paul’s letter to the church at Rome: “The wrath of God is being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed… But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:5,8). Further, Paul writes this: But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world” (Romans 3:5-6).

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The words of John the Baptist in John 3:36; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Good News!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The True Word

It rained again, just when we were thinking it was time to water the lawn. If you have been battling wet weather while trying to harvest your hay, I understand the frustration. Been there, done that! Nevertheless, rain is always better than drought.

On a personal note, I went for a CT scan this week, to check on the aneurism that is on my aorta. Those results came back as ‘condition stable’, and I am to have another checkup in a year. This is good news, and one more thing I am thankful for. Also, we had a brief visit from my brother and sister-in-law from Colorado on Friday. It’s always good to see them, if even just for lunch.

If there is one thing that disturbs me as a preacher, it is when someone passes along so-called spiritual advice that is not in the Bible. You may call it false teaching, misinformation, or borderline heresy. This is especially troubling when the “information” is disheartening to the individual to whom it is directed.

There are those who would have us to believe that Christians who die do not go to be in the presence of the Lord at their death, and must wait in the grave for the Lord’s return at some future time. Folks, this is a lie, and there is judgment ahead for those who teach these things. The Bible does have something to say about this.

On the cross, the dying thief asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). This does not indicate waiting in the grave for an unspecified time.

“The apostle Paul wrote, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). In Philippians 1:23 he expressed his “desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.” Those statements teach that believers go directly into the Lord’s presence at death.” [MacArthur New Testament Commentary].

I am again reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy… “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine… They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Friends, that time is here. Be encouraged. God’s Word is true.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Destinations

Hello friends,
We took another trip with the camper this week. As usual, it turned into another adventure on the less traveled road. We left last Sunday afternoon, not knowing for sure where we were going, or which road to take. We headed west out of Ericson, and had not gone far when the decision was made to go west of Taylor to Dunning, then take highway 2 to Thedford, where we stayed the night. Monday morning, it was on the road again, destination Crawford and Fort Robinson. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent just taking in the sights at the fort, with a side trip to check out Chadron State Park. Wednesday morning, we headed east on Highway 20, had lunch in Ainsworth with an old friend, and decided to overnight at Keller Park, northeast of Ainsworth.

Going there, once again I trusted my phone to show me a different route. This was not the road less traveled, it was the road seldom traveled! It became a narrow trail down a section line, leading to nowhere. Here is a tip: Off-road travel with a fifth-wheel camper is not a recommended activity. After abandoning Google Maps, we eventually made it to the highway, and the state park. We enjoyed a quiet evening and night, arriving back home in late afternoon Thursday. I’m sure we’ll be content to stay home for a while.

On a more somber note, we have seen in the last few days and weeks, the passing away of a cousin of Milrae’s, and several old friends and neighbors from home. I am reminded almost daily that we have no guarantee of another day, and of the fact that we need to make plans for eternity.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). At the end of the book we read, “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. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Today is the day of salvation. Do not delay. Trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

God at Work

I don’t have any real ‘news’ this week. It is about the same from day to day. Sometimes it rains, sometimes not. It’s windy some days, and calm at other times. Hot, but never cold; after all it is summer.

As I travel around to other churches, I have opportunity to see and hear what the Lord is doing in other places. This week, I heard about a 6-year-old little boy, who through his attending Sunday School and church, learned enough about Jesus to convince his dad to come to church. The dad, I understand, has placed his faith in Christ, and a broken marriage may be healed, all because of that little boy’s testimony. This little boy is unashamed and unafraid to tell everyone he meets about Jesus. Oh, that more Christian adults had this kind of testimony!

God is still in the business of saving souls, and he uses many ways, and works through all kinds of people. I believe one of the greatest miracles is when God, by His Holy Spirit, moves a person to trust in Christ as Savior and Lord.

I have shared the following passages of scripture many times, but they are worth repeating. They are from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. After highlighting God’s righteousness and His just judgment of sin, Paul points to the fact that all people are sinners in need of a Savior.

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:10-12, 20-24).

Also, this: “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).

To His Glory,
Pastor Jerry

Changes

On the topic of weather, it seems spring is finally here. I awoke this morning to flashes of light that turned out to be lightning in the east. We received no moisture from this, but even the thought of a spring shower was an improvement from what we experienced just a couple of weeks ago.

On a somber note, we had our little dog put down this week. It was sad for us, but it was a necessary thing. In the years she was part of our life, she taught me much about being faithful and trusting, as she just seemed to enjoy life in spite of her so-called handicaps.

This week will be spent preparing for a reception honoring our grandson as he graduates from high school. At times like this, one wonders where the years have gone. Alex will be moving soon to a summer job and will attend welding school in the fall. It has been an interesting period in our lives, and we’ll miss having him in our house.

As I was speaking of the spring season earlier, one more indicator of the season is the appearance of baby geese here at the lake. I so enjoy seeing them in their downy cuteness, even knowing as they get older they become somewhat of a nuisance. From a spiritual point of view, springtime brings many signs of new life and new beginnings. It always reminds me of the new life we can have as a result of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the grass, trees and flowers return from dormancy, we are reminded that through faith in Him, we have new life.

From God’s Word: I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again… I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3, 5). 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).

Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life… Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (Romans 6:5, 8).

Counting our blessings,
Pastor Jerry