Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

The Gospel

Hello friends,

I trust you are enjoying the cooler weather. We are glad the rains have stopped here. I don’t remember ever having a summer when we did not need to water the lawn.

In a time of reminiscing, I realized that November of this year will mark the 20th year I have been writing these weekly thoughts. What began as a means to share with a few people what God was doing in my life, has become something I could not have imagined back then. I am grateful to God for all who have encouraged me in this endeavor over the years.

I was recently asked this question; “What is the gospel? You speak and write of sharing the gospel, but how many people understand what that is?” I had never really thought about the need to define what the word means, so I will try to explain it in this week’s devotional thought.

I know that sometimes we Christians use words that only have meaning to us. It is called speaking in ‘Christianese’. We forget there are those who haven’t had the opportunity to read the Bible, or hear someone preach from it.

The word gospel, in fact, means good news. What is that good news? Simply put, the Christian gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sin. Here is what the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “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…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Paul again; “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: First for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16-17).

It is the responsibility of every believer in Christ to tell this gospel, or good news to all who will listen, so that those who hear have an opportunity to believe. Have you heard?

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Our Broken World

Dear readers,
One word about the weather. Rain! In other news, it appears we have completed another landscaping project. There has been a ditch along the north side of our property, and it was a bit difficult to mow due to the steep banks. Recently, son Ryan installed a long culvert in that spot, covered it with dirt and leveled it off. We have planted grass seed, and if the rain doesn’t wash it all away mowing will be much easier next summer.

Sometimes, when I see the heartache and hurting in our world, it is almost too much. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. We who live in rural America have by and large been insulated from the problems of the big cities and population centers. This is not the case anymore.

There is enough blame to go around, and I could name a lot of reasons for the mess we are in, but from a Christian point of view, the one-word explanation would be sin. Our world has been broken since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. When people reject God, and go their own way, evil takes over. There is no moral compass, and there are no guidelines for proper living. When people reject God, they turn to other things seeking fulfilment. Drugs, alcohol, sex, power, money, fancy cars, big houses; none of these bring lasting satisfaction.

There is, however, a solution to this dilemma; “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Return to me, declares the Lord Almighty, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 1:3). Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

It has been said there is within each of us a God shaped void. It can only be filled satisfactorily by the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing else will do. Jesus alone can overcome our sin nature. Paul wrote, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

His truth will set you free.
Pastor Jerry

The Tune-up

The pleasant weather continues. We did receive some rain on Friday, but not as much as some folks to the south and west. The garden continues to do well, as do the flowers. We have had our first (small) tomato, and a few cucumbers, in addition to the green beans that we have been enjoying.

Now for the weekly devotional thought. Sunday, as I was driving to a sister church for a speaking engagement, I remembered that a couple of months ago, our pickup was running poorly, and the fuel mileage wasn’t what I expected it to be. Now, in the past, I would have run it into the shop and changed the sparkplugs, points, and condenser, probably fixing the problem. In today’s world, some of those parts don’t exist, so there was no use for me to even start.

After a visit to the dealer’s shop, and a computer diagnosis, it was determined that it did in fact need new spark plugs and something called a “fuel system flush.” Who knew fuel system flush was even a thing? It now performs as good as new.

As I thought about this, I was reminded that the Christian sometimes needs a tune-up. The remedy for this is to get back in touch with our maker through his word, and let him put us back in working order. When we neglect meeting with Him in prayer, through the study of His word, and fellowship with other believers, we get distracted by life leading to poor performance in our Christian walk.

A time of prayer and fellowship with God is important for a healthy Christian life. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).

Spending time reading and studying the Scripture is also important. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Finally, spend time with other Christians regularly. “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…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you feel your relationship with the Lord isn’t hitting on all cylinders, these verses are a good place to start that tune-up.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Living in a Broken World

Hello friends,
We have reached those hot July days we have been anticipating. Maybe some of that excess water standing around will dry up, and those who need to get their hay harvested will be able to get out into the field. Here is a tip from the Bible; I learned this a few years ago, when I was trying to out-guess the weather. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). My take-away? Go ahead and mow that hay. If you spend all your time trying to pick the perfect time, you will never get the hay baled.

We have seen more tragedies this week. Every day, it seems, there is another senseless act of violence or a tragic accident that affects someone we might know. It becomes almost too much to bear at times. One of the questions we ask is, why? “Why God, did you allow this thing to happen?” The truth is, we may never know the answer.

In reading God’s word, we find that our world is broken, because all the way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Due to their disobedience, sin had entered the world, and the creation was left in disarray. Consequently, we live in a broken world of broken people. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10-11).

Why do bad things happen? Because God’s perfect creation is broken. God is sovereign, he is in control of all things. Nothing happens that he is not aware of. Could he have prevented some of these things? Absolutely! I believe whatever trial we may be experiencing, God will use it for His good, and for His glory. We trust Him in these situation, not because of what he can do, but because of who He is.

Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and if we place our faith in Him, our fellowship with God is restored, and nothing can ever break that relationship again.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship 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” (Romans 8:35-37).

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Small Blessings

Up and down go the daily temperatures. Now the weather-guessers are saying cool and rainy for several days. Through all kinds of weather; What if the sky should fall? Just as long as we’re together it doesn’t matter at all. Wait, I think that’s a song lyric from an earlier time! Can you name the song?

In other news, we made the trip to Omaha and back safely. Of course, there was the expected trip down a self-imposed detour, also known as the ‘scenic’ route. If I didn’t miss a turn and use some less traveled road, it wouldn’t be normal. The dermatologist assured me she removed all the cancer cells in my lip, so all in all, it was a good trip and a successful surgery. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and encouragement.

When I get away from our little corner of the world, and people ask where we are from, my answer is always, Ericson. They invariably ask, where is that? I think this is a good thing. After being in the big city for just a few hours, I appreciate even more the solitude we have out here in the “hills.” It is a good thing that only a few know the answer to “where is Ericson?”

In light of the blessings of the past week, here are some appropriate passages from God’s Word:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, The maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night (Psalm 121:1-6).

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD (Psalm 150:1-6).

He is worthy of praise,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts of Spring and Other Things

Dear friends,
It was a good week weather-wise, for a change. Pleasant temperatures with some sunshine and a few showers, should be bringing all the things we look forward to at this time of the year. The flowering trees and wild plums are in bloom, along with tulips and other spring flowers. The sounds of lawn mowers are heard now and then, and the aroma of steaks and burgers on the grill, occasionally fills the air. Ah spring!

In other news, I made the semi-annual trip to my dermatologist last Monday. She found a couple of suspicious areas, so now I’m waiting on biopsy results. The best report would be the samples are benign, but experience tells me there may be a little more surgery required. Years of sun exposure exacts a price, so take care of yourselves this summer when out in the sun.

It seems the world is becoming more anti-Christian, although this is nothing new. We are not promised an easy time in life as a result of our faith in God and Jesus Christ. Jesus said we would have trouble in this life. From John’s gospel, we read, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

These words of Psalm 92 can encourage us in these times. I have left out a few verses due to space limitations, but you can look up the complete text.

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, for you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!
The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand,
But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (Psalm 92:1-15).

In His great grace,
Pastor Jerry

The Coming King

Dear friends,
More cool weather is in store for the next few days. We have had a few days of spring-like temperatures to give us encouragement, but it seems we are to wait a little longer for the real thing. I am convinced there are warm days and nights ahead, but we must believe our patience is being perfected through this.

Sunday afternoon and evening, I, and several others attended the semi-annual meeting of our church association. We are an association of small evangelical churches from this part of Nebraska, committed to getting the gospel message into the Sandhills. It encourages me to hear what the Lord is doing through the various ministries in our several towns. Through those same churches, God is using his people to minister in places like an RV park in Arizona, and several small towns in the flooded area of northeast Nebraska.

As the 2020 political season seems to be heating up, I am reminded that many people in our country are trying to find just the right person who they think will deliver our country from whatever they see as the greatest need. My thoughts go immediately to the word of God and what he has to say about putting our faith in politicians. From the Christian perspective, the only way to have true deliverance is to put our faith in God, and in his Son.

In the end, we must understand that it is not the President, not the Governor, not the Queen of England, nor any other politician or ruler, but the King of Kings who will save us from the evil that surrounds us.

Or, as the psalmist reminds us; “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7)

At this time in our history, Psalm 2 reminds us of the one who will eventually make everything right:
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord
and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains, they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. (Psalm 2:1-4).

The King is coming! Are you ready to meet him? I pray you know Him as your Savior and Lord.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry