Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

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

Keep Watch

Dear readers,
In news not reported last week, we had a couple of things happen we weren’t expecting. First, our house air conditioner gave up the ghost. We were able to get a new one installed before the weather warmed up too much. It’s been a really long time since we slept with windows open and fans running. The other event was that our house/outdoor cat Miss Meow met her end. Apparently, she was too slow crossing the street. As an alley cat, she adopted us a couple of years ago, but never did get too comfortable with domestic life.

We went back to our old neighborhood Sunday. I was asked to provide pulpit supply at the church for the day. It is good to visit there occasionally, but where we are now is home. We do enjoy reconnecting with old friends now and then, just to catch up on events in their lives. It encourages me to know that we and all our Christian brothers and sisters will be together someday in heaven. As the song says, “What A Day That Will Be!”

As we observe the trajectory of the culture, I can’t help wondering if that day could be nearer than we
might imagine. I am reminded of the words of Scripture as recorded in Matthew’s gospel account; “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into” (Matthew 24:36-43).

Watching,
Pastor Jerry

Faith Is The Key

Dear friends,
The news this week was the big wind that blew through on Thursday. There was minimal damage to structures at the lake, but some trees were blown over. We were without power for a day or so, depending on location, but that has been restored. The power company still has much work to do, replacing broken poles and such. On a positive note, there were no injuries as far as I know. In a recent article I had commented on the power of the wind, obviously having no idea what was in store for us!

In other news, our middle grandson graduated from high school on Saturday. We’re proud of his accomplishments, and wish him much success in life. It was a good day and great day weather-wise; sunny and a light breeze, something we’ve not seen a lot of lately. With the recent rain and warm temperatures, lawn mowing is a priority, but I will probably tire of this job before the end of summer.

As the world seems to be spiraling out of control, I have to remind myself not to worry. God is in control. Even though it may seem He is asleep at the wheel, He is fully aware of our individual situations. Let us remember His words in scripture.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:23).
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

There is more: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).

Faith is the key. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Believing and trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

Praising God

Dear readers,
Rain, wonderful rain! As of this writing, we had received 1.7 inches. It has been a long time since we have had meaningful moisture of any kind, and personally, I prefer rain to snow. This is an answer to many prayers over the last few months, especially in light of all the wildfires our state has experienced. I suspect there were many people out dancing in the rain. This blessing from God should be celebrated as such. May we break out in song like the psalmist.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared among all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Psalm 96:1-6.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:7-11.

Praise the Lord, praise him in the heavens, praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations. Psalm 148:1-11.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Wind Power

Dear friends,
As I write, there are fires, wind and even a snowstorm happening in our great state. As the advertising says; it’s not for everyone… but here we are! I’m getting along in years, but I don’t remember ever having this amount of wind and little or no rain as a result.

Speaking of wind, the topic of every conversation these days; no one has ever seen the wind. We know it is real, because we can see the results of its work. We can see it turning a windmill to pump water into a stock tank for thirsty cows. The wind pushes sailboats across the water and lifts kites into the air. The wind can also cause damage. We have all seen the destruction of hurricanes, and even strong straight-line winds as we have been experiencing here in Nebraska.

The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit as being unseen, yet giving visible proof of His existence. When a man named Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, Jesus told him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8).

At the moment of a person’s salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell, or live in that person. The Spirit will begin to make changes in that individual’s life. Although perhaps not immediate, there will be noticeable change for the better that can only be attributed to a power greater than oneself. To his disciples, Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirt…like the wind, you cannot see Him, but you can see His work. I can testify to that fact in my own life.

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Child of God

Dear friends,
We received some rain and snow this past weekend. This is a major blessing, as it has been a while since we have had moisture of any kind.

It seems we are in a time of uncertainty, the likes of which we have not seen in recent memory. As I think about this, I am reminded of God’s promise to always be with his people. He is with us in the present, and he will be there when we get through the trials we endure.

“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 CSB).

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 CSB).

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV).

We do need to remember these promises are for God’s people. Those, who by faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross, have become children of God. “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10-13).

Paul writes this, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Ready or Not?

Dear friends,
I believe my battle with Covid is over. With each new day, I see improvement. The recent cold snap has encouraged us to stay indoors and be thankful for a warm place to stay.

As our world gets crazier every day, it is important to remember that our God is not sleeping, nor is he surprised by the things that are happening. Scripture reminds us again and again of unsettled times that will come, even reminding us that these are indications of the eventual return of Jesus Christ.

We read these words in Scripture: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

He goes on to say, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man… “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:3-8; 36-44).

As we see the events of the day unfolding, let’s not focus on whether the Lord returns soon, but that we are ready when he does. Today is the day of salvation. It is not too late.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Hello friends,

I am recovering from my bout with Covid. The return to normal is testing my patience, but I am feeling better daily. The biggest hurdle has been a lack of energy; my want to and my can do are miles apart. It is still a challenge to make my mind focus on writing, and I may revert to a previous article this week, instead of coming up with an original thought. After twenty-some years of this, there should be something in the archives that will apply to today. After all, God’s word is unchanging and endures forever.

Many times we get discouraged when we see evil running rampant in the world. A passage from the prophet Malachi is appropriate for us to consider in our present context. At the end of Malachi in the Old Testament, God speaks of coming judgment through the words of the prophet: “Surely the day is coming, it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:1-2).

If you have ever been around calves that have been in a small pen for any length of time, and have seen them released into a larger pen or pasture, you can relate to the picture this brings to mind. They are so happy to be released, that they run in large circles with their tails in the air, leaping and kicking with obvious joy. What a picture of God’s children when they are freed from the cares of this sinful, corrupt world system!

Whoever said the Bible doesn’t relate to people in the Sandhills, and to ranchers and cowboys? It’s not all about sheep and shepherds!

I pray you keep this picture in mind as you are experiencing the everyday trials that come upon us. There is coming a day when those who are faithful to God will rejoice as calves that have been released from their stalls. What a day that will be!

Looking for His return,

Pastor Jerry

The Savior is Waiting

Dear friends,
The Covid bug has landed at our house. I had been having some odd symptoms, so I went to the clinic and consented to the test. It came in positive, so we’re enjoying some isolation time. Our nice weather is continuing, but we are in need of beneficial moisture. I think that is a thing upon which we all can agree. ‘Tis the beginning of calving and lambing, so no blizzards please, Lord.

Due to a lack of inspiration and ambition this week, I will share something from a few years back. As we were traveling, we saw a mule deer doe and her fawn crossing the road. The doe stopped at the edge of the road to wait for the fawn, and when he had reached her side, she continued to look back and wait. As I slowed down and wondered why she didn’t keep going on to safety, a second fawn ran across the road in front of us. All three then continued on toward the hills.

I see here a picture of our Lord. He waits for his children. The Bible says he will not let any of his children perish: “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28).

He waits also, for those who are not yet his. Listen to the words of 2 Peter 3:9b; “he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

In this illustration, I see two things we can count on. First, Jesus promised when we place our faith in him, we have eternal life and can never lose it. The word never means ‘not ever’.

Second, He promises patience with the one who has not yet chosen to follow him. If you are someone who has not asked Jesus onto your heart and life, he is waiting for you. Just know that someday he will return for his own and you need to be ready. He says in Matthew 24:44… “So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

In the words of the old gospel song, “Why do you wait dear brother, your Savior is waiting… why not come to him now?”

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

A Stable Life

Dear friends,
We are already a month into the new year. How time flies! It appears that our sunny, warm weather is about to take a turn for the worse. We really can’t complain about the winter to this point, and we knew it couldn’t last. Remember, spring is coming. I welcome new readers to this weekly project. I pray you are blessed in some way through these articles.

For our devotional time this week, I will borrow some thoughts from my Sunday sermon. Many of us wonder how to deal with the turmoil we see around us. I believe first of all, that we need to have a relationship with the Lord. As the scripture says, He is our peace, meaning that we can have inner peace because we know who is in control of our circumstances.

The apostle Paul has wise counsel in his letter to the church at Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned from me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

Did you get that? Rejoice always, no matter your circumstances. Be in prayer, communicating your requests to Him and thanking Him for blessings. This will lead to the inner peace that passes all human understanding. And put into practice those things that are right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.

With the negativity and turmoil that is all around us, it is good to go to the Scriptures and see that the Lord has a plan to help us get through. If we can commit to those things, He says He will be with us; “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). The psalmist says, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). How reassuring that is in times of trouble!

Blessings to you,
Pastor Jerry