Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

What is Hope?

Dear friends,
There has been some spring planting going on here at our little slice of heaven. So far, we have enlarged one flower bed, planted some new shrubs, some flowers, and put a few tomato plants in the garden area. This is not my favorite kind of work, but it’s worth it to see the smile on my bride’s face when it is done. There are still some seeds to be planted in the raised beds, mostly beans and cucumbers. I did consent to one zucchini plant, which is a first for me. On a personal note, we also have one eggplant.

There seems to be an epidemic of hopelessness in our country. I don’t know if it is related to the stresses of the Covid19 pandemic, or a combination of causes, but I believe there is a solution to this attitude of hopelessness. Some might argue that there is no one answer to the problem, and they would probably be right. I can tell you from experience that placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go far toward combating the hopelessness that sometimes overwhelms our minds and bodies.

The idea of hope is often presented as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. True hope, as presented in the Bible, is a settled fact that something promised will come to pass. It can be described as trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Christians live in hope for two basic reasons. The first is because of what God has done in Christ. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The second reason is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).

Given the assurance of hope, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage. Christian hope is the gift of God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

From my own experience, I can testify to the truth of this hope we have in Christ Jesus. Christ is the answer to hopelessness, but sadly many people, particularly the young, haven’t heard of him. If you are feeling hopeless today, come to Jesus.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preparing for Battle

Dear friends,
It continues to be an unpredictable kind of spring. We go from nice warm days to frosty mornings. There have been periods of rain, snow and sunshine—all within a few minutes. The big project of the week was installing a new washing machine in the house. These things take longer than when we were younger, but still, it is satisfying to know it can be done. While we were in Grand Island picking up the washer we made a garden center stop, now there are things to plant in the yard. I attended our church association meeting Sunday. It was good to connect with other church leaders and encourage one another in our ministries.

Every day I am reminded that we are in a spiritual battle. It is a battle between good and evil; the people of God versus the forces loyal to Satan. The Bible tells us we have been provided with a full suit of armor with which to defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. We read of this in Ephesians 6:10-20. Verse 11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

These are the items of armor as listed in this passage: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

They are described this way; Truth counters the devils lies. We need to know the truth of the Bible. Righteousness is like armor on our chests, not self-righteousness but Christ’s righteousness given to us when we are saved. It will keep the devil’s forces from defeating us spiritually.
Peace is the peace of God that comes from trusting Him.
Faith allows us to deflect the temptations that come at us.
Salvation, described as a helmet gives us power to live as those who are delivered from the power and penalty of sin.
The word of God is the Bible, seen as a weapon designed for hand-to-hand combat. It is the word of God spoken, made effective by the Holy Spirit, to cut through the devil’s lies.

Clothing ourselves each day with this armor and connecting it all together with prayer gives the Christian the means by which we defeat our enemy. Pray also for other believers.

In Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
April is moving along as usual, bringing to mind the saying “Time waits for no man.” For instance, I had hoped to wait a few days to mow the lawn, but the grass had a different time schedule. We have not only mowed the first time this year, but flower beds have been cleaned and other preparations for summer are in the works.

The camper has been taken to the repair shop for some minor issues, and we hope to begin the new season soon. I was told we had to get the camping out of the way before time to start caring for the garden. Since I enjoy the produce as much as anyone, this sounds like a reasonable approach.

In case you have been wondering about our cat; be assured she has taken over our lives. She has learned to let us know when she wants to come in and when she wants out, and her dish never has enough food in it. As I write this, she is sleeping beside my chair.

As I observe the things going on in our world, I am continually reminded that many people have no concept of God or of his Word. The world is seeking answers for mankind’s problems in all the wrong places. Rather than finding out what God really says about the human condition, the world prefers to listen to false teachers and to follow ungodly leaders who deny the very existence of a Creator God.

I believe we are at the place Paul describes in his instructions to Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As we live in our world, may we be witnesses to God’s power and majesty, as we tell others of His love and his saving gospel. To Him be glory and praise forever!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Amazing Grace

Dear friends,
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon as I write this. The past week was rather cool with some rain. Our forecast is for cool temperatures early in the week, followed by a warming trend. I expect we’ll see more evidence of spring in the days to come. We have both been staying home nursing colds, but we are steadily improving and should return to normal soon. Once again I find, we too often take good health for granted.

This week brings two very important days in the Christian church calendar; Good Friday and Resurrection Day (Easter). Good Friday commemorates the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Resurrection celebrates his rising from the tomb. These two events are the basis of our hope in eternal salvation. The Bible clearly states there is no other way to be saved from our sins but by placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I write on this topic often, because to me this is the most important decision a person can make in life. In my own experience, the day I chose to follow Jesus my life was changed in ways I could not have imagined before. So, to this day, like the old song says, “I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love.”

I was cruising along through life, thinking I was doing pretty good, taking my wife and two boys to church on Sunday. Then one day as the pastor was preaching from Romans chapter ten, I heard these words: 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 10:9). This was an eye opener for me! Up to this point, I thought I just had to be a little better person than someone else. Now I was learning that my own self-righteousness was worthless in God’s eyes.

Later, I heard these words; For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

A dear friend passed away this week, and we rejoice that he is now in heaven, because he believed what these verses taught. Amazing grace, how sweet it sounds!

Anchored in Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Good Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly seen a change in the weather. As I write this Sunday evening, we are showing 2.60 in the rain gauge, with more in the forecast. The wind has been gusting up to around 50 mph, and there was a power outage in the area this morning. Ah, springtime in Nebraska!

In recent days, I have been reminded of the uncertainties of life. It is in those times I turn to the Word of God for encouragement and hope. We have all experienced times when life takes unexpected turns, and we are left wondering why? It might be an economic downturn, a broken relationship or maybe an unforeseen illness. We are prone to ask where did that come from? Or, why did that happen to me?

There are times when there are just no clear answers to why things happen. Life is full of unknowns, but that is just life. Sometimes we feel like the title of a song I have referenced before; “Life Ain’t Fair, and the World is Mean.” In spite of this, there is One who knows the struggles we go through. God in His perfect plan has placed each of us in our circumstances for His glory. When we finally understand this truth, we can trust Him even though we do not know the reason for our situation.

These verses from Romans give encouragement to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-39 CSB).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

He Lives

Hello friends,
Spring-like weather has everyone outdoors dreaming of summer. My lovely wife has even mentioned getting the camper ready to go! Here at the lake we are seeing people preparing their cabins for the summer season. We haven’t seen some of them since sometime in the fall. Soon our little community will be buzzing with activity, especially on the weekends.

There have been literally thousands of migrating geese passing through. Some have stayed for a while to rest up, others we have seen just flying over. The resident Canada geese have been showing signs of pairing off to begin the nesting season. I expect in a few weeks we will be seeing goslings on the lake.

As we are in the season of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to remind us that Easter is just around the corner. I prefer the term Resurrection Day, because it is the very reason for the holiday. FYI, the word holiday means ‘holy day’ in its original context. Many of our current holidays are anything but holy, but that is another discussion altogether.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. In fact, every Sunday is a celebration of His resurrection. The fact of the resurrection is unique to Christianity. No other religion has anything remotely resembling resurrection. Some speak of reincarnation, but who would want to come back to this world in any form?

The apostle Paul wrote this; “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 1:3-5).

According to Paul, if there were no resurrection, these three things would be true;
All people would be still in their sins.
All former believers would have eternally perished.
Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

Because the resurrection is true, we place our faith in the fact that God lives up to his promises.

I will close with the words of the old gospel song, Because He Lives:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

Praising His Name,
Pastor Jerry

Our Rock and Salvation

Hello friends,
Winter has returned to the area. This means snow and more snow, with very cold temperatures. For most of you this is not news; for the rest, enjoy the weather you are experiencing. Monday morning, I will be taking our alley cat to the vet for some surgery. This is the cat who adopted us last summer. She had kittens in our carport, and she wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told her to take them elsewhere. The kittens are gone, and now she has taken up residence in the house. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After last week’s column, I had several well-meaning, and encouraging suggestions for continuing to share my thoughts with you. I will keep writing, as long as the Lord gives me the strength and inspiration to do so. Thanks to all who take the time to read these articles each week.

The cultural and political landscape continues to be of concern for God’s people. There is much that gives us cause to wonder what next? Rather than allow all that to negatively affect our view of the current time, along with worrying what the future might bring, we need to focus on the Lord. There are two Psalms that have encouraged me through difficult times in the past. I would like to share parts of them with you this week.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Find rest, O my soul, In God alone; my hope comes from him
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7).

I will extoll the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:1-6).

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Stormy Weather

Dear friends,
We are living in stormy times. I say this partly because of the prediction of another winter storm coming our way. The past week has been colder, with some sunshine early in the week. The last couple of days have been cloudy, but with light winds. Such is winter in Nebraska. For those who live here, we understand this is part of the journey to springtime weather.

It is a stormy time in our country and culture, as well. We wonder what lies ahead, and to be honest, we can become discouraged as we see the storm clouds gathering. The disciples of Jesus were crossing the sea in a boat and got caught in a severe storm. There is a lesson here for us as we face the storms of life.

From Luke 8:22-25, we read: One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke Him saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, all was calm. “Where is your faith?” He asked His disciples
In fear and amazement, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him.”

In the middle of the storm, they forgot who was in the boat with them. They had seen evidence of His power over creation by the miracles he had done, yet there in the middle of the wind and waves, they panicked.

Isn’t this what we are prone to do? We commit to following Jesus, but when the storms roll in, we forget that He is present in the stormy weather, as well in the sunny days. He is our Rock and our Salvation in the good times and the bad.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

What Do You Believe In?

Dear friends,
As we begin the year 2021, we are enjoying some nice weather. I was glad for the melting of the snow, so that we could get the Christmas decorations and lights taken down in relative comfort. A bonus was that the extension cords were not frozen in the snow. Christmas was different this year, with all the Covid precautions in place, but one fact remains; Jesus came to earth and He will return again, at just the right time, and in accordance with the Father’s plan and purpose.

Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, said this; “Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).

I read a headline recently from the UK, in which people were encouraged to “Believe in Science.” I don’t know about you, but I choose to believe in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am not opposed to science, but I know that science will not save me from my sin. It might provide answers to scientific questions, or provide a vaccine for Covid19. Science changes with new discoveries, and gives us many benefits that were unheard of in earlier generations, but it will never take the place of God’s unchanging word.

Unlike science, God does not change. “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” (James 1:16-17).

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

“He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man, that He should change His mind” (1 Samuel 15:29).

In Him,
Pastor Jerrygggg

Look for the Light

Dear friends,
We have had mostly nice weather for the past week, and it looks to be more of the same in the near future. We managed to get some Christmas decorations up over the weekend, but there are still totes that aren’t empty. We don’t seem to have the stamina to put them all up in one day as we have done in the past!

We will stay on the subject of Christmas this week. I sometimes think we are too quick to forget Christmas. Instead of taking the time to acknowledge the great gift of God in sending His son to bear the sin debt of the whole world, we want to get those gifts unwrapped and move on.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, very few people were aware of his coming. The innkeeper had no room to put them up, so his family ended up in a livestock shelter, which was probably a cave. As we read the story, it appears the only ones who showed up to worship the newborn were lowly shepherds. The religious leaders certainly weren’t interested enough to seek him, and Herod showed little interest, except to view the news as a threat to his political position. The prophet Micah, foresaw the Messiah as being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The religious leaders knew of this prophecy, yet didn’t take the time to check it out.

As we think of that first Christmas, we might wonder, is it any different today? People are so busy with the little details of their lives, that they have no time for Jesus, and they really aren’t interested in finding out about Him.

The prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus’ appearance among men in this way; “The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in darkness.” (Isaiah 9:2). In the New Testament, John wrote this of Jesus; “In Him was life, and that light was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it… He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:4-11).

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 8:12).

Have you seen the Light? What is your response?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry