Archive for the ‘Eternity’ Category

Heading Home

Hello friends,
We made it back home from our last camping adventure. I saw the doctor on Monday, and he told me to come back in six months for a scan. If it looks okay, then I will get annual check-ups. We enjoyed the time away, but coming home is sometimes the best part of the journey. Thinking of coming home reminds me that for Christians, we are just passing through this world on our way to heaven, our eternal home.

God’s people, in various scriptures and Bible translations have been called strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1), temporary residents (Hebrews 11:13), strangers and exiles / aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11).

As God’s people, we are traveling through life as strangers in a foreign land. We don’t belong here, because our true home is at the end of the journey. God has placed each one of us where we are, but this is not our final home. The writer of Hebrews likened this life to a race. “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnare us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1). There is a goal in front of us, and we are not to be distracted by the things going on around us, but to focus on the finish line.

I pray we can say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).

In the last two chapters of Revelation, the apostle John describes what he called the new Jerusalem, along with a new heaven and a new earth. He tried to describe what cannot be described in human terms.

We must not become so familiar with the world and its ways that we lose sight of our heavenly destination. There are blessings along the way as we travel this road, but heaven will be so much more.
Going home to heaven is obviously going to be the best part of our life’s journey!

Just passing through,
Pastor Jerry

Where Are You Headed?

Hello faithful readers,
Last week, I told you I was going to have a procedure to repair a weak spot in my aorta. That has been done, and from all reports, it was successful. I thank you for each and every prayer said on my behalf. God is good, all the time.

It was another busy weekend here at the lake. It is encouraging to see so many families enjoying all that the area has to offer. We did receive nearly two inches of rain this week, some got more, some less, in any event it was very much appreciated.

These are uncertain times for most people. What with the covid19 virus, political unrest, economic worries, or whatever might be on your mind, many are concerned about the future.

As a young man, I didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating the future, well maybe as far ahead as my next meal, or the weekend. Thoughts of spiritual matters were very far from my mind even into my thirties. I tried to be just enough better than others I knew, so that if there was judgment at some point, I would surely be good enough to make it through.

Imagine my surprise to find out that none of my preconceived notions of self-righteousness were going to impress a righteous and just God! As I started attending the little church down the road, I began to learn what the Bible really said about sin and my standing with God. Starting with Adam and Eve, every person is born with a sin nature. We have been separated from God by our sin, and we can do nothing on our own to restore that relationship.

Hear the word of the Lord; As It is written, “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 become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3: 10-12).
“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The answer is Jesus; “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).

Forever His,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

Dear friends,
It is still spring; summer comes in June. Spring weather is my favorite season, followed by fall. Summer is okay, winter, not so much. We are enjoying getting out in the yard. Mowing isn’t a chore yet, and planting flowers and garden are good therapy. Speaking of therapy, I found out that pushing a lawn mower may be good cardiac exercise. Just a little of it increased my heart rate to 114 bpm. Update: We experienced wind and rain Saturday night, resulting in more than an inch of rain and some pretty impressive straight winds.

I’m writing this on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, meditating on the observation of Memorial Day. We remember those who have given their lives in defense of our country and our freedoms. For many of us, it is also a time to remember family and friends who have gone on before.

It can be a time to reflect on the kinds of memories we well leave for those who will survive us. What kind of life did we live? What values will we pass on to our children and grandchildren? The writer of Hebrews mentions a great cloud of witnesses, those who died believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Will we be counted in that group of saints?

Here is the passage from Hebrews: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangle, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Our Lord left us an example to follow in the life he lived, and a memorial to his life in the Lord’s Supper, which we celebrate in our Christian fellowships. His words after breaking the bread were and are, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this… in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

Lest we forget.

Blessings to all,
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

A New Year

Hello friends,
Christmas Day is behind us, and I pray we as a people, will not forget the reason for the holiday we just enjoyed. Our own celebration was pretty quiet. We attended our church Christmas Eve service, then came home to our favorite chairs and listened to some Christmas music. Tuesday was warm enough by noon to fire up the pellet grill, so we were able to enjoy steak and hash browns for lunch. We had plenty of time later to reflect on the Savior whose birth we were celebrating.

As we enter the new year, may I suggest, if you haven’t, that you take the time to consider what your own eternal destination might be. There are many ideas and theories concerning eternal issues. The one that has withstood the test of time comes from the Bible. If you believe this book to be God’s Word, written by men, inspired by His Holy Spirit, then you need look no further to find the truth.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ, was and is, God in human form. He came to earth with the express purpose of dying on a cross, as payment for the sins of humanity. By faith in that one selfless act, we, in turn can be assured of spending eternity in the presence of God and Jesus.

Christianity is not an exclusive religion. The invitation to receive God’s gift is open to all. However, not everyone will choose to accept the gift. God does not force anyone to believe. He has given evidence of the truth of His salvation, it is up to each individual to accept or reject.

The following Bible verses are not new, nor have they been hidden from view. I have quoted them many time in these articles, but some have not seen or responded to them. I pray they will do so today.

Romans 10:9-10… “the word of faith we are proclaiming: 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.”
Ephesians 2:8… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. The gift is free. Our only responsibility is to accept it. Think about it.

Happy New Year!
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

Know Where You’re Going

Update: Last week, I mentioned some surgery on my arm. The lab report came back okay. Praise God for that!

I have been sorting and printing hard copies of my past articles and commentaries. Such a trip down memory lane! One thing frustrates me, though. Some of the files are missing, and some I found are on a CD that my computer won’t open. The missing ones are from 2004, I suppose I’ll find a way to access them eventually.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it, but I enjoy listening to bluegrass music. One recent song title caught my attention, and I thought, isn’t this just the way the world is these days?

The song is, “We Don’t Know Where We’re Going, But We Sure Are Making Good Time.” I don’t even know all the words to the song, but the title says it well. People without the Lord, and without any assurance of spending eternity in heaven with him, are just going through life with no direction and no meaning. They try to add meaning to life with all kinds of things, but in the end, they are just making good time on a journey to nowhere. To quote Solomon, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

More from Solomon: Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Then he then sums it all up at the end of chapter 12: “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 good thing, whether it is good or evil.”

What is my point? “Seek first his (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Life is not meaningless if you are living for Jesus. You will not have to wonder about your final destination. Heaven will be your final home.

Enjoy the journey,
Pastor Jerry

Eternity Is Near to All

Dear friends,
November is under way. Don’t look now, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner, to be followed by another new year.

Once again, the news headlines remind us of the fragility of human life. Once again, we are reminded that we need always to be prepared to meet death. Once more, we are reminded as the Bible tells us, life is a vapor. Once more we see the urgency of making a decision to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.

A group of people told Jesus about a group of Galileans, brutally murdered by Pilate. His response may have taken them aback. His answer was, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no? But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you thing they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5).

There was widespread opinion in Jesus’ day, that such things happen only as punishment for specific sins. Jesus refuted this notion but nevertheless emphasized that every person must repent or else perish spiritually for eternity. To repent, means to agree with God that you are a sinful being, accept Christ as your Savior, and allow His Holy Spirit to bring about change in your life.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary states; “Jesus’ point was that being killed or not being killed is no measure of a person’s unrighteousness or righteousness. Anyone can be killed. Only God’s grace causes anyone to live. Death is the common denominator for everyone. Only repentance can bring life as people prepare to enter the kingdom.”

Again, His message was repent of your sins and receive His salvation through faith in Him, or you, too, will perish, meaning to spend eternity in hell.

So, in light of this, each person should examine themselves to determine if they have genuinely trusted Jesus for his or her salvation. We do not know when our time on earth is done, but we can have the assurance that when this life is over, our destination is heaven and an eternal home in the presence of God our Savior, through faith in His Son.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Call: Part One

Cool fall temperatures have arrived. The last few mornings have been reminders of winter’s reality. I have seen significant snowfall in early to mid-October before, but I hope it is a little longer before we seen any of the white stuff.

In these troubled times, one wonders how to respond to what is going on around us. May I suggest that these events are part of God’s plan, and that it may be that their purpose is to make us think about our future. It could be God is calling us to make a choice.

If you believe God exists, and I do; then believe that he calls people in two ways. First, to be saved from the penalty of sin. His second call is to a life of service. Today we will look at this first call God makes on a person’s life.

Jesus said this; “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 6:40).

The prophet Joel spoke these words, repeated by Peter; “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:15). When asked by the crowd at Pentecost what they should do, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Peter, again, when called before the religious leaders, said of Jesus Christ: “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).

These are Jesus’ words in John 14:6; “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

We read this in Romans 10:9-13; 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… Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame… the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In all these verses, the Lord is calling you to salvation. Have you answered his call? If not, then why not today?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Rough Water

I had a new experience this week. I made a short journey down the Cedar River by kayak. I’m pretty sure I won’t be repeating that journey for a while. I now know that mode of river travel is for the young, as it obviously takes a bit more conditioning than I have. I don’t plan to abandon the kayak altogether, but I will definitely stay on the calm, still water for now.

Thinking about this experience reminds me of life. It is much easier going when things are calm and still, than dealing with strong currents and storms. There is another lesson here, and it is this; It is the storms that help us find our weaknesses and give us insight into changes we need to make.

God uses those storms for his good purpose in our lives. Paul, as he wrote to the believers in Rome, said this: “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 brings perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:2-4).

James wrote, “the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

Here is a reminder; if anyone should tell you that placing your faith in Jesus Christ will end all your problems, don’t believe it! It is a lie from the devil. The believer will encounter trials. It is part of being a follower of Jesus. He said to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As we persevere through those storms, and finally finish the race He has marked out for us, we will hear these comforting words; “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Keep paddling, wear your life jacket, and don’t be afraid of a little rough water!
Pastor Jerry