Archive for the ‘Evil deeds’ Category

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

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Memorial Stones

Dear Readers,
The cool weather continues for us. Along with it came some beneficial rains, for which we are very thankful. My bout with shingles is winding down. For this I am thankful also. Next time someone mentions getting a preventive inoculation, I will be first in line! I will be posting this early Monday morning, so any comments I might have concerning the solar eclipse will wait until next week.
I’ve been thinking about those who seem bent on removing anything that would remind Americans of their national identity and inheritance. There are several lines of conversation, or commentary that come from this behavior.
One truth from the lessons of history is that if a people wanted to conquer a civilization, they would remove all the landmarks and other reminders of their history and culture. In our day, we have seen ISIS destroying Christian landmarks, and in our country currently, there is a movement to remove reminders of our past.
When the children of Israel were entering the Promised Land, when the priests, who were carrying the ark of the covenant, stepped into the Jordan river, the water stopped flowing, so that they could cross on dry ground. After reaching the other side, they were instructed to set up stones as a memorial. Joshua told the people that they were setting up the stones as a permanent memorial, so that when their children asked the question, “What are these stones”, they could answer with a lesson from Israel’s history.
These are the words of the Lord, given through Joshua to the people: “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cutoff before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6-7).
Sadly, after Joshua passed from the scene, Israel forgot her past, and began to be influenced by her pagan neighbors. The result of this was that God judged Israel and sent her into exile for seventy years. I fear America may be on a similar path. We who care about the rich history of our country need to pray fervently that God would intervene and put her back on the straight way.
Praying for America,
Pastor Jerry

On Respect for Others

A lot has been said and written in recent days about what is wrong with our world. After all the violence and killing of the past week, we all need to stop and think.

I believe we need desperately to return to a biblical view of the world and identify the real problem. Sin is the problem. Its remedy is Jesus Christ, and obedience to God’s word. Much of what is missing in our society today would return, if people would only use the Bible for guidance. We could begin by restoring respect for authority, for one another, for country and for God… beginning with respecting God, followed by all the others.

Sadly, I feel there are too few of us willing to say. “Wait! What are we doing to our country and to each other with this disrespectful and selfish attitude? Whatever happened to “love your neighbor as yourself?” We are at the point of “love yourself, and no one else.” Do unto others as you would have them do to you, has become “the only one who matters is me.” People have become worshipers of self, and the law is disregarded in every level of society, from the government to the man on the street.

The Bible says much about this word respect. Respect is something the Bible teaches at all levels of society, from families to the highest levels of government.

From the Old Testament: Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:3). “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord” (19:32).

And, in the New Testament: Romans 13:7— “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Finally, these instructions from Peter to the readers of his second letter, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king (substitute mayor, governor or president).”

I wonder, might we begin to do these things again?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

The Remedy

It seems every conversation begins with a discussion of the weather. Hot and windy are two words that come to mind in describing last week. We did receive some showers of rain here Sunday evening and early Monday morning.

Virginia Creeper, aka woodbine, is a plant that grows in many places. Just across the street from our house is a large lilac bush. A woodbine plant at some point had taken root under the lilac and grew to cover the top of the lilac. The woodbine plant does not attach itself to the host plant, but uses its host as a trellis to climb. Instead of taking nutrients from the host plant, it just cuts off the sunlight, effectively killing its host.

We can see a parallel in the Bible’s definition of sin in the life of a person. Much like that vine, sin in our lives blocks out the light of God’s word, and the commands of Jesus to walk in the light of His truth. It keeps us from growing and if left unattended, it can lead to spiritual death.

Let us see what the Bible says regarding the effects of sin, and its remedy. Referring to someone giving in to the temptation to sin, James wrote this: “After desire has been conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15).

In another place we read, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). 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 8:2). Again, Jesus speaking, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).

By the way, the remedy for ridding the lilac of the invader, was to cut the woodbine plant off near the ground, and apply weed killer to the stump. The remedy for sin is the application of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where his shed blood won the victory over sin and the devil.

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Let us then walk in the light of His salvation, separating ourselves from the darkness of sin.

In His Light,
Pastor Jerry

Reflections

As I write this morning, it is Memorial Day. Yesterday (Sunday), here at the lake, there was a program honoring our veterans and those who gave all for our country. It was interesting to hear some of the veterans tell their stories of service, and I was reminded again of the sacrifices made to keep our country free. At the same time, I was reading on social media of the vandalism of patriot displays and cemeteries around the country. It makes one ask, “what is wrong with people today who have no respect for these things? Actually, the answer is found in the Bible. It starts in the hearts of people. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:10)?

As I look out my window, I see the lake. Its surface is completely still this morning, and reflects the trees along the edge, and the sky above. It is much like a mirror. Many years ago, somewhere I remember reading that the color of the water on a given day, is a reflection of the sky. Sunny days, it appears to be blue. On gray cloudy days, the water is seen as dark and gray. I think this relates to my opening comment concerning the behavior of people. What we see in their words and actions are a reflection of their heart.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Christians are to reflect the character and actions of the Lord Jesus. We are to be a mirror image of the One whose name we bear. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” (Romans 8:29).

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49). “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness…” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

It is not possible for any person to consistently exhibit right behavior without Christ in his or her heart. It is hard enough sometimes for the Christian to do so.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Wrath of God

Last week, we looked at the good news of the gospel as presented by Paul in Romans 1:16-17. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Today, in the verses following, we are reminded of God’s wrath. That is, the fact that sin angers God. “For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

God’s wrath is not a popular topic these days. People would rather hear about God’s love. The fact is they go together. Understand this: God’s attributes are perfectly balanced. If he had no righteous anger and wrath, He would not be God, just as He would not be God without his gracious love. He perfectly hates just as he perfectly loves, perfectly loving righteousness and perfectly hating evil.

Preaching that fails to teach the wrath of God and the condemnation it brings upon all with unforgiven sin, fails to teach the whole counsel of God. Even the New Testament, which many people hold up as only teaching about the love of God, has something to say about God’s wrath.

The often quoted John 3:16, which says “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”, is followed in verse 36 with these words. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

God’s wrath and judgment are real. The only way to escape his righteous judgment is to accept his offer of salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. “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” (Romans 9:9). This is the good news of the gospel.

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Repentance: The Missing Ingredient

As I read and observe comments made on social media and other sources, it occurs to me that in the conversation there are a couple of words that are missing. As people debate the issues of the day, the underlying theme seems to be that everyone wants things their own way. We excuse sinful behavior by calling it many other things, but the word sin never makes it to the top.
Another missing ingredient, if you will, is the idea of the need for repentance. My Bible Dictionary defines repentance as: “Change of mind; also can refer to regret or remorse accompanying a realization that wrong has been done…”
In the biblical sense, repentance refers to a deep seated and thorough turning from self to God. Much of what is presented from pulpits today is far removed from any idea of a change of life, or repentance from sin. It comes down to “believe and be saved, continue in your sinful lifestyle because Jesus loves you and wants you to be happy.” This is far from the truth.
John the Baptist began his ministry with these words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus said, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news”, and, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He said to some who were questioning Him, “Unless you repent, you will all perish” (Luke 13:3).
There are enough New Testament references to repentance that it should be clear it is of great importance. In response to God’s call on one’s life, there must be repentance, that is, to turn from a life of sin and self-rule to a life ruled by God and lived in His righteousness. In other words, the call to repent means we must abandon sinful lifestyles and express sorrow for our sins.
Christians and churches are not exempt. We must be constantly involved in self-examination, allowing the Holy Spirit to point out areas where change is needed. To continue living in sin, with no thought of changing (repenting) can only lead to judgment.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry