Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Giving Thanks

Dear readers,
As I write this week’s article, it is sunny outside, but it certainly isn’t warm. We appear to be in for a cold spell, with little to no chance of moisture. The lake community continues to prepare for the second annual Trail of Lights. Reports are that the display will be bigger and better than last year. More info is available on the Lake Ericson Facebook page.

The Thanksgiving holiday is this Thursday. Some days it is hard to find things to be thankful for, but we can always be thankful for a good night’s sleep, and for a new day’s dawning. I sometimes wonder who do you thank if you don’t acknowledge God? If you don’t believe there is a God who is our provider, do you thank the government, or some good luck charm? Maybe you thank your lucky stars? How do you know which stars are lucky? Do four leafed clovers bring happiness or contentment to life?

From a biblical perspective, all we have comes from God Almighty. He is the creator and sustainer of the universe. Nothing exists that wasn’t put here by God, according to His perfect plan. It is He to whom we give thanks for every good and perfect gift. “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).

The prophet Isaiah reminds us to “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world (Isaiah 12:4-5).

Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16). Yes, even the government was created and put in place by the Creator God.

As the old familiar doxology says;
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above the heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Jerry

Missing Link

Dear friends,
The wind has been the big weather topic this week. Everyone seems to be talking about the excess of wind and the absence of any meaningful rain event. At this time of year, any moisture may very well be of the frozen variety. I hesitate to use the ‘s’ word. At this point it doesn’t really matter what form it takes, it will be welcome. A recent issue of a daily newspaper had a page titled “Weather and Religion”. I was amused by those two topics being on the same page. It reminded me of the fact that there are weather forecasts, but God is the one who is in control of the weather.

Sunday, I was away from home in a neighboring church, filling in for their vacationing pastor. Before the service began, the following words appeared on the wall: No Signal (Help). It was telling the person at the keyboard that something was missing. What was missing? A connection between the computer and the projector.
Isn’t that a picture of our own lives? Occasionally, we feel disconnected from the Lord. There is a missing connection and we have lost the signal, so to speak. How do we reconnect to God? The answer; prayer and study of the Word. Consider the following passages of Scripture.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6). Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

Even when we don’t know what to pray, God’s Holy Spirit will take up our case. “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

Time spent in intentional Bible study, along with a consistent prayer life brings the Christian into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Lord. This will result in the knowledge that our connection to Him has been restored.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Aging

Dear friends,
The garden is done; the frost has had the last word. I wouldn’t consider it a fruitful season, except for the cucumbers and peppers. Tomatoes and green beans just couldn’t win. I’m sure there were several factors involved, including heat and drought. I suppose that much like zucchini, the neighbors were probably tired of seeing us coming to their doors with free cucumbers. They were gracious though, and accepted our offerings.

I am beginning to feel the changing of the season in the air. There is a chill in the air in the morning, the leaves are changing colors, with some starting to fall to the ground. The winds are becoming more northerly, and the birds are flocking together in preparation for migrating to a warmer climate.

Maybe it is because I just passed another milestone on my personal calendar that I am reminded of the seasons of life. Spring, when we are young, summer as we enjoy the middle years, autumn as we reach those golden years, and winter as we approach the end of our lives. It is a part of God’s plan for mankind.

The Bible speaks of aging in a generally positive light. It speaks of the wisdom of the aging: “Remember the days of old, consider the years of past generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will teach you” (Deuteronomy 31:7). “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life” (Job 12:12).

It speaks of the honor due the aging: “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:21).

The Bible also notes the continuing service of the aging believer; speaking of those who love God, it reads; “They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green,” (Psalm 92:14). Here is a promise from the Lord as we age; “I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Young and old each have their unique worth; they are not in competition. “The glory of young men is in their strength, and the splendor of old men is gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).

In His strength,
Pastor Jerry

Faith and Trust

Dear friends,

The Labor Day weekend is winding down. A good number of people enjoyed life at the lake over the past few days, and from all indications they had an enjoyable time. It will seem rather quiet here in the neighborhood come Tuesday morning.

I would like to share some thoughts on trusting God in every aspect of our lives. As believers in the Lord Jesus our desire should be to live life by faith. We should be content with what he provides, not envying the possessions or lifestyles of others.

Do we look at a person who does not know the Lord, yet has material wealth in abundance and wish we had what he has? Instead, we should have sympathy for that person, knowing that all his possessions are of no value in light of eternity. When we covet these things, we are in essence saying that we don’t trust God to take care of us. Trust involves letting Him take complete control of our lives—this includes our thoughts, actions and possessions, including bank accounts and our souls—everything.

We are to trust God without reservation. This sounds like a lofty goal, but in His word, He tells us it can be done. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important that food, and the body more important that clothes” (Matthew 6:25)?

Trusting the Lord involves following His commands and letting Him have control. How is your trust level? Can you take time for Him in your busy times? How about letting Him take care of those cows while you attend Sunday worship or take off work early for mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting?

God says he will supply all our needs; does this not mean our time as well as our physical and spiritual needs? Are you trusting Him with the care of a prodigal child or the loved one with an incurable disease? Most importantly, have you trusted Him for your salvation, or are you trying to get to heaven on the merit of your own good works?

Remember, salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the way, the only way.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Consistency

Dear readers,
We have arrived at the end of another month. Next week is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. Football and volleyball seasons have begun, and schools are in session. We are still in need of rain, and continue to ask the Lord to provide. We ask, knowing that he is faithful to answer our prayers in his perfect timing.

Church attendance wanes in the summer. This is a proven fact, and there are many reasons given, but if we were truthful, I think we would have to admit to a degree of complacency. Scripture tells us the early church met daily for fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:4-7). The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

These are Jesus’ words concerning the faithful servant; “His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23)!

Today, it seems hard for the people of God to meet together for one hour on Sunday morning. What follows here are some thoughts I copied down many years ago, and I believe they are worth repeating.

Reflections on being a faithful Christian: If your car starts one time out of three, do you consider it reliable? If the paper carrier skips the Monday and Thursday editions, would they be missed? If you fail to come to work two or three times a month, would your boss call you a faithful worker? If your refrigerator quits for a day now and then, do you excuse it and say, “But it works most of the time?” If your water heater greets you with cold water one or two mornings a week, would you understand? If you miss a couple of mortgage payments in a year’s time, would your banker say, “Oh, well, ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?

If we are not consistent in attending corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, can we call ourselves faithful Christians?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Seeing Clearly

Dear friends,
We had a great weekend, grandson Alex and his fiancé and her little girl akibg with our grandson Ethan visited Saturday evening. Sunday morning, we traveled back “home” to Sybrant Community Church, then spent the afternoon with dear friends. Good times!

On a recent morning, I awoke to heavy fog over the lake. As the sun rose, and the fog began to lift, I was able to slowly see the trees and buildings more clearly. It reminded me of the process of coming to faith in God and his salvation.

When the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ begins to shine in our hearts, we get a glimpse of who He is, and why he came. It may be just a spark at first, but as we begin to respond to that spark the light will become brighter.

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ.

When Jesus healed a blind man as recorded in Mark’s gospel, he healed the man in two stages. After he had put saliva on the man’s eyes, he asked him what do you see? ” He answered, “I see people, they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes… then his eyes were opened and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:23-25). It was a process of learning to see clearly as his faith grew. Sight was there, but it was not complete.

In the words of the song writer,
“Just like a blind man, I wandered along.
Worries and fears I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight,
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.”

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ. Have you seen the light?

In His light,
Pastor Jerry

The Better Way

Dear friends,
We have received almost .30” of rain early Sunday morning. The forecast is for the possibility of more, but we are thankful for what we have. After a warm week, we are having a couple of cooler days. This, too, is a blessing.

It saddens me to see that some Christians are following those who claim to predict the future. I do not believe this is what the Lord would want for His people. In His word, he warns against these practices.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable practices of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God… The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him… I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command Him. (Deuteronomy 18:9-15).

God’s people are to depend upon Him for their every need, and rely on His promises to care for them in every situation. There are those who would say “but that was Old Testament teaching.” True, but much of God’s law remains in effect in the New Testament. The Ten Commandments have not been revoked; they are for all time. What is called God’s moral law is also just as true as when it was given.

To be involved in occult practices is to be unfaithful to the Lord. We are encouraged to listen to God’s prophets instead. The ultimate prophet of God is Jesus Christ—the One who spoke God’s words and who provides deliverance for His people. He is the better way; “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Contentment

Dear readers,
August has arrived, the month of fairs and students preparing to head back to school. Are you ready for another round of hot weather? Neither am I, but it seems we are about to experience that very thing. The garden continues to show promise of bounty to come. Cucumbers remain a steady part of our diet, but I’m looking forward to a change to tomatoes!

We live in uncertain times. I doubt that anyone would dispute this statement. I recall another time when uncertainty was the theme of our existence. It was shortly after I began my Christian life. During that time and in the years that followed, I learned to depend on God to provide for our daily provisions. I had begun to think I was pretty self-reliant, but He showed me I wasn’t the one in charge. It was a hard lesson, but a necessary one.

“Hebrews 13:5–6 reads, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (ESV). The author gives us a command to be content. And the power to do so comes from two things from Jesus.
First, the author says that Jesus has said that he will never leave nor forsake us. If we have God, there is nothing else we could be deprived of that would devastate us. But a lack of contentment reveals that we aren’t giving Jesus his proper weight.

Second, the author quotes a Psalm saying, “The Lord is our helper.” God loved us so much that he wouldn’t let death and hell or a cross keep him from rescuing us. And that same God promises to help us in all things. God has proven once and for all his willingness to help us.

Understanding these two things leads us to contentment. Are you content? Do you understand that in Christ, you can be satisfied with what you have because in him you have all you need?” [Devotional from J.D. Grear]

The apostle Paul, regarding his own situation said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.… I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Hello friends,
It was another warm week. Our last good rain was a week ago, and we are ready for more. The heat is stressful for the cucumbers, but they are producing well with frequent watering. Small tomatoes are forming and we have been stocking up with bacon in anticipation of some BLT sandwiches! Disclaimer: Most of the work in this garden is done by my sweet wife.

Do you ever feel you are losing the battle against temptation? Here are some encouraging thoughts:
“As believers, we’ll struggle with indwelling sin for the rest of our lives. The greatest saints have experienced such bitter, unsuccessful struggles with sin, it almost drove them to despair. As the old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”

Proverbs 24:16 reads, “… for the righteous falls seven times and rises again …” (ESV). The righteous fall often, but they get back up, looking heavenward. Put another way, we struggle a lot, but the trajectory of our lives should point heavenward; our lives are a cry for God to change our hearts.

But there are some who seem to just be going through the motions, participating in church like it’s a club or social organization. They don’t have evidence of a desire for God or a supernatural change. They’re not concerned about living in community or using their gifts to serve the body of Christ. And they’re content in not growing. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever really experienced the gospel.

When you struggle, do you get back up again, repenting and believing in faith that God is who he says he is, faithful to save you? Or do you go through the motions, unconcerned with how you’re living your life? The faith that saves is the faith that endures.” [Pastor J.D. Grear]

Remember these words from the apostle Paul: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9).

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Dear friends,
As we enter summer’s heat, prayers would be in order for some timely rains, specifically without hail or damaging winds. We have had enough of those for this year.

Have you heard any good news lately? It is hard to find good news these days if we look at the world and all that is taking place around us. It is easy, it seems, to focus on all the bad and overlook any positive reporting. Maybe it is a lack of good news, but it is possible we are looking in the wrong places.

There is good news in the Bible, much good news in fact. God called his creation good, but Adam sinned and brought judgment on man and on creation. In spite of this, God had a perfect plan to redeem both man and creation. He would provide a way for man’s sin-debt to be paid, leading to the salvation of sinful man and the restoration of the created world.

The plan God had for paying man’s penalty for sin would require a perfect sacrifice, which God himself would provide. That perfect sacrifice would be God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is good news.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world… I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was with two of his disciples, and as Jesus was passing by, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29-36).

More good news from a familiar passage: “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-19).

Good News!
Pastor Jerry