Archive for the ‘Eternal Life’ Category

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. 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” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

Reaching Out

Dear friends,
I trust everyone is looking forward to the time we can begin some semblance of the life we once knew. I know I am. I’m sure there is light at the end of this tunnel, but at this point it is rather dim. Sunday church services held on Facebook, or by way of Zoom and other electronic media is okay, but there is nothing like worshiping together in person. Period.

“Reaching Out” is one of the culture’s new catch-phrases. Originally, it seems to have been used as the description for extending a helping hand to someone in need. Today, it is used more often to describe trying to get something from someone, as in, “Our reporter tried to reach out to the attorney, but her calls were not returned.”

In this season of trial that is known as the Covid19 pandemic, I would like us to consider this idea of reaching out, from a biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel was given this message from God; “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays” (Ezekiel 34:15-16a).

In the New Testament, we have the words of Jesus; “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). This is God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, reaching out to all who are lost in sin with a message of salvation. The Lord is reaching out to lost people today. This is his invitation from Matthew 11:28… “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

If, in this stressful time, you are feeling helpless, burdened down with your troubles, and in bondage to sin, you can reach for his outstretched hand and he will lift you up into his loving arms. I’m drawn to a verse from the pen of David, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:10). Here is another, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

I leave you with this thought; For peace of mind in these troubled times, reach out to Jesus, He is reaching out to you.

In His amazing grace,
Pastor Jerry

Fear Not

Hello friends,
It has been an interesting week, to say the least. On a personal note, I saw the cardiac surgeon for a checkup. He says everything looks good, and to continue rehab. The weather continues to follow the pattern we have come to expect for the month of March.

Our topic for the week will be the Covid19 virus. A lot of people have written on this topic, but all have different platforms and different readers. So, here are my thoughts on the virus pandemic, and what our response should be from a biblical perspective.

As Christians, our view of this should be one of dependence on God’s word and His promises. Along with that, we must point people to Jesus. In the face of uncertainty, our message is that He is the One in whom we trust, not just for here and now, but for eternity.

Jesus had these words for those concerned with the future as recorded in Luke’s gospel. “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). He has more to say beginning in verse 22; “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (verses 22-26).

The promise of God is that those who trust Jesus for their eternal salvation will never be taken from Him. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, (including viruses), will be able separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). Salvation is found in no one else, not governments, scientists, or political leaders.

Trusting Him completely,
Pastor Jerry

Prepare Now

Dear friends,
I hope you have been enjoying the warmer temperatures. I know I have. Wednesday, when I saw my cardiologist, he said to see him in six months. My cardiac rehab begins this week, so it is onward and upward from here, I guess. Again, thanks for all the prayers, cards, calls and visits. You are all a blessing to me.

Spring is coming, I know because the geese are pairing off, and will soon be nesting. I hope it is not like some years, when I have seen those geese sitting on their nests in a raging blizzard. By all reports, if the weather holds for a few days, Lake Ericson will begin filling up for the new season. The water level has been down in anticipation of final repairs at the spillway.

The news, if you watch it at all, is not very positive most days. From the political craziness to the virus that by some accounts is threatening civilization, one wonders where we are headed. In the Christian worldview, none of this is random or meaningless. God has told us there is nothing that is out of His control, and nothing that catches Him by surprise. Our responsibility, is to trust Him in all things, beginning with trusting His Son for our salvation. Once we know Jesus as Savior, He promises to hold us in his hands, never letting go no matter the circumstances.

You see, the whole world is to be judged for rejecting God. Only those who are His, will be saved from that final judgment. Much of what we are seeing is part of what the Lord spoke of as the last days. As his return draws closer, we will see more of the same.

Jesus’ disciples had many of the same questions that we have. They wanted to know when Jesus would return. He said they would hear of wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes in various places (Matthew 24:4-8). He went on to say, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (verse36). “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (verse 42).

I’m not saying he will return tomorrow, but I am saying we all need to be ready when he does come again.

Trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Test

Hello friends,
It seems we’ve been put back in the deep-freeze for a few days. These are the times I’m glad to have served my time caring for livestock. The cold weather is much less appealing to me these days, not that I was ever a big fan! I personally don’t think the planet is in much danger of over-heating in the near future.

As I was looking out my window this morning, I was taken by the peace and quiet of a clear and cold winter morning. I had just read the Sunday editions of two different newspapers, and thought what a contrast between the news from the outside world, and what is outside my window. Thank You, Lord for letting us live in this place.

A part of getting older is finding out all the things we did in our youth that were detrimental to our physical well-being. For example, I have one foot that has taken a beating over the years. I have been to several foot doctors in the past, and am considering some surgery on it. One thing leads to another, I have learned. My personal physician thought a stress test might be a good idea, considering a family history of heart issues. The podiatrist ordered an ultrasound of my leg in advance of any surgery on the foot. Those tests have been done, and we wait for the results. After that, it will be decision time.

Speaking of tests, do you know there is a test for entrance into heaven? It consists of one question with one correct answer. When we stand before God, and he asks, “Why should I let you into my presence?”, the one correct answer is, “I have believed in and trusted your Son Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.”

I have reference the following verses many times, and I will continue to do so. “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved… for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:9, 13).
“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).

As the old song says, “What will your answer be?”

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Resolutions

Dear friends,
Happy New Year! The next one of these devotional articles will be dated January, 2020. The presents will be opened and probably the excitement over new things will have begun to fade. it is the time of resolutions made and broken in the space of a few days, or weeks. As you made those resolutions, have you ever anticipated a new you? Good news! God has a plan; you can be a new creation. I am speaking of a spiritual transformation.

It starts with the realization that you are in need of a remake. Remember, God’s word tells us we are broken, and in need of Savior. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11).

A man named Nicodemus came to Jesus asking how to get right with God, and Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus was not speaking of physical birth, but a spiritual rebirth. He went on to say in effect, you cannot experience fellowship with God unless you believe Jesus is the way to salvation. “For God so loved the world that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” It is important to know this new creation is to show outer change as the result of an inner transformation, i.e., a new birth.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-14).

Perhaps at the dawning of a new year, we can resolve to accept God’s offer of a transformed life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the scripture says, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Here’s to a transformed life in 2020.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Going Up?

Hello friends,
I have been enjoying my visits to other churches, meeting new friends, and preaching God’s word. I find it amusing that not having taken speech class in high school, I have spent so many years speaking to groups of people on a weekly basis. One more proof that God equips those he calls to His work.

When attending our denomination’s annual meeting last month, we stayed in a two story hotel. As I age, I am less inclined to use stairs (that sounds strange). Anyway, since two of us had second floor rooms, we rode the elevator instead of using the stairs. On one of our elevator rides, I commented that it might be a preview of the rapture. My friend said, “I am sure it will be faster than this.”

The word rapture is not found in the Bible, but it refers to the return of the Lord Jesus in the air to gather his church. 1 Corinthians 15:52; “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (or died). For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Our hope, that is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead assures us of our place in heaven. The apostle Peter puts it this way; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Real Hope

Hello friends,
Well, our fall weather has taken a decidedly winter-like turn. This is most noticeable in the dropping temperature. As we drove to O’Neill on Saturday, and as the wind changed to the northwest, we experienced a change from seventy-three degrees to sixty-three in a little over 60 miles. By Sunday morning we were at 34 degrees!!

It is not a new thing to say that the world has trials and trouble. It seems in recent days that those things are being multiplied. People in our little corner of the world are no exception. Everywhere, we see tragedy and heartache, and many people are wondering if there is really hope for the future. The belief of the Christian is that there is hope. Our hope comes through our faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord.

These are the words of the apostle Peter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a 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 through faith are shielded by God’s power until the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice…” (1 Peter 1:3-6).

The hope of which the Bible speaks is not some type of wishful thinking, but a sure knowledge of the fulfillment of a promise made by God, that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity with him. Therefore, we who have faith in Christ, even in our heartache and loss can say with the apostle Paul, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”

We have the assurance from God’s Word that we who know him as Lord and Savior, will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before.

These are words from an old hymn; “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Standing on the Rock of Ages,
Pastor Jerry

Signs of the Times

Dear friends,
I observed another birthday on Sunday. It is somewhat of a milestone I suppose, since it was my 75th. I guess the Lord isn’t done with me. Ryan and his boys helped me begin the celebration Saturday evening, when they took us out to eat at a local restaurant. Sunday after church, we took in the buffet at the Ranch Café, and for the evening meal, I grilled steak for ourselves and our neighbor lady. If nothing else I am well-fed.

It was good to be back home for Sunday worship. I do enjoy getting to help out in other churches, but as they say, there is no place like home.

I have addressed the following topic in the past, but I think it bears repeating. For those who are students of the Bible, we are in exciting times. World events are more and more reminding us of the biblical signs of the Lord’s return. Christians look forward to the time of his second coming. I know there are many who doubt, but there have always been those who don’t take the Scriptures seriously. Remember, God has promised to judge the world, and although he has been patient, his patience will reach its limit in due time.

In Peter’s second letter we read, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:8-10).

The Lord will return; he has promised to do so. He has also provided salvation by his grace, through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Do not delay, judgment will come; today is the day of salvation.

In the words of the apostle Paul, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain… I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-3). Have you received his salvation?

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Held In God’s Hand

Hello friends,
Another week of retirement has passed. We made two trips to Albion for appointments, had one wedding rehearsal, a lake association board meeting, a wedding, and I traveled to Valentine on Sunday to preach for a pastor who needed a day off. I am finding this retirement thing does not allow for a lot of down time if you are willing to be involved in your community.

As I am involved with people, and as I visit with different individuals, I find that most are dealing with, or have at some point dealt with issues of one kind or another. No one is immune to trouble. I also find that Christians in general, have a much more positive outlook in times of trouble than those who don’t know Christ on a personal level. This doesn’t mean that the Christian has no doubts, or that his or her faith doesn’t waver at times. However, as the Bible states in several places, the righteous will live by faith. Keep in mind that the righteous person as described in Scripture, is one who has received God’s gift of salvation, paid for by Christ on the cross.

In the Bible, we find examples of people who lived by faith in God, and in His promises. Noah built an ark, although he had never seen rain. Abraham packed up and moved to a place he had never heard of because he had faith. Joseph endured all kinds of hardship, always trusting God in the worst of times. The apostle Paul endured much hardship, faithfully preaching the gospel in many difficult situations.

If you are in one of those situations, here are some of God’s promises. “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 in my righteous right hand… 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: 10, 13).

Finally, Jesus said this, concerning his followers; “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry