Archive for the ‘Evil deeds’ Category

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

On Horoscopes, etc.

This morning, we are camped somewhere in north central Nebraska, in a quiet, out of the way place. It is a beautiful spot, and we may very well return to it. We plan to explore other scenic places in our state this summer, Lord willing.

I am puzzled by the fact that many Christians follow horoscopes and other types of ‘fortune telling’. I believe God never intended for His people to place their faith in the moon and stars, tea leaves, fortune cookies and the like.

I bring this up, not to criticize or judge, but to give a reminder that God desires our complete allegiance. To put any part of our trust in anyone or anything other than God, is an affront to God and His sovereignty. Actually, the Lord has said much about this subject in the Old Testament and it is mentioned in the New Testament as something not approved by God.

“Do not practice divination or sorcery” (Leviticus 19:26). “Let no one be found among you…who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft” (Deuteronomy 18:19). Of Manasseh, king of Judah, the Bible records this: “He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking Him to anger” (2 Kings 21:6).

In the New Testament, Simon, a sorcerer was rebuked by Peter for attempting to buy the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-24). Paul and Silas encountered a slave girl at Philippi who had a demonic power of foretelling the future (Acts 16:16-26). Paul commanded the demon to leave her, which led to their imprisonment. Witchcraft is among the things condemned as acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:20).

These things are not harmless pastimes, they are anything but harmless, and they are not neutral. Anything that does not come from God, has its root in His enemy Satan. The Bible consistently condemns the practice of divination. It rarely views these practices as fakes. They are condemned, not because they are not supernatural, but because the source is often demonic and those who practice them are trying to circumvent God to find guidance for the future. Christians should heed the biblical injunction against astrology, fortune telling and mediums.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Of Grass and Geese

I’m writing this Memorial Day. When I was growing up, it was never this early in the month. In those days, the holiday came on the 30th of May, no matter what day of the week it was. I guess we didn’t need three or four day weekends back then.

As you know, the new lawn is up and growing. Now, the geese have discovered it, and are making it a part of their diet. The new crop of goslings are fuzzy and cute, but as those goslings grow, they have very good appetites, and one of the things they really like to eat is tender, new grass seedlings. Now, they don’t seem nearly as adorable as before.

I’m reminded of the progression of sin in our lives. At first, it seem harmless enough. It may even appear to be harmless and entertaining. But as it grows, and gains traction in our lives, we realize it is not harmless or cute. Scripture warns us to stay away from the temptation to let sin gain a foothold in our lives, even if it seems to be a good thing.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 16:25). Flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace… (2 Timothy 2:22).

The apostle Paul, in his first letter to Timothy had this to say regarding sinful behaviors: But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

The Bible doesn’t tell me what to do about the geese on our lawn, but it does tell us how to keep sin from taking over in our lives. And, if we do sin, remember God’s promise in 1 John 1:9. Don’t blame it on God, either. James had this to say concerning temptation: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:13-14).

In the case of the geese eating the lawn, it will not be to repent. Replant might be a better word.

Remembering,
Pastor Jerry