Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Encouraging Words

Who is ready for sunny, warm days, with grass and flowers? I know, we live in Nebraska where we have four seasons, and soon enough we will see spring. Never mind that, I still complain about the cold weather. When summer comes, it is sure I will complain about the heat. Human nature being what it is, I will not be surprised!

As controversy swirls around concerning the newsworthy things of the day, it is easy to get discouraged, and even depressed with the whole mess. At times like this, I am led to the scriptures for encouragement. There, I find God is in control no matter what the headlines say, and it is to Him I can turn for encouragement and comfort.

There are two of the psalms that come to mind. Psalm 62 was my go to scripture during a difficult time.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and salvation: He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies
With their mouth they bless, but in their hearts they curse.
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.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:1-8)

Another is Psalm 34. Space doesn’t permit quoting the complete text here, so I will share the first verses, and you can read the complete Psalm in your Bibles.
“I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will 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…
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:1-6).

Praise God. He is still on the throne!
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Accept No Substitutes

Because the colder weather has kept us indoors, I started a project that I’ve been trying to avoid. There will soon be new flooring in the master bathroom, something my spouse has been wanting done for a long time.

We were entertained this week by a few thousand geese that spent a couple of days and nights enjoying the open water on the Lake Ericson. I never tire of seeing them come in to land, with their wings cupped like flaps-down on an aircraft, and their feet as landing gear. The ones that come in a little too high, will tip sideways to quickly lose altitude, while others need to make another circle while waiting their turn to land.

Attacks on the people of God seem to be a recurring theme in our day. Everywhere we turn there are attacks on Christians and their faith. It is amazing the number of people who claim knowledge of the Bible and the teaching of Jesus, and have little or no such knowledge. It is a challenge for the genuine Christian to have a voice that will be heard in the public square. As I see it, there are many, many people who would rather believe some Hollywood theologian, than a true Bible scholar.

As the apostle Paul, and his fellow missionary Silas visited Berea, and Paul preached, scripture records this: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:10-11). We need to be like those Bereans and examine the scriptures to see if what is being taught is true.

There is an old advertising slogan that says, “Accept No Substitutes”, an appropriate phrase to keep in mind when listening to those who falsely quote the Bible. I have a printer in my office. It is an HP brand. Recently, I bought a remanufactured color cartridge, but it does not recognize it as authentic HP, and will not work with that cartridge installed.

Be like my printer. It knows when a substitute cartridge is installed, and it refuses to accept it. Christians need to know the scriptures and refuse to accept any substitute. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, open the book and see for yourself what it says.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A New Year

Hello friends,
Christmas Day is behind us, and I pray we as a people, will not forget the reason for the holiday we just enjoyed. Our own celebration was pretty quiet. We attended our church Christmas Eve service, then came home to our favorite chairs and listened to some Christmas music. Tuesday was warm enough by noon to fire up the pellet grill, so we were able to enjoy steak and hash browns for lunch. We had plenty of time later to reflect on the Savior whose birth we were celebrating.

As we enter the new year, may I suggest, if you haven’t, that you take the time to consider what your own eternal destination might be. There are many ideas and theories concerning eternal issues. The one that has withstood the test of time comes from the Bible. If you believe this book to be God’s Word, written by men, inspired by His Holy Spirit, then you need look no further to find the truth.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ, was and is, God in human form. He came to earth with the express purpose of dying on a cross, as payment for the sins of humanity. By faith in that one selfless act, we, in turn can be assured of spending eternity in the presence of God and Jesus.

Christianity is not an exclusive religion. The invitation to receive God’s gift is open to all. However, not everyone will choose to accept the gift. God does not force anyone to believe. He has given evidence of the truth of His salvation, it is up to each individual to accept or reject.

The following Bible verses are not new, nor have they been hidden from view. I have quoted them many time in these articles, but some have not seen or responded to them. I pray they will do so today.

Romans 10:9-10… “the word of faith we are proclaiming: 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.”
Ephesians 2:8… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. The gift is free. Our only responsibility is to accept it. Think about it.

Happy New Year!
Pastor Jerry

Good New Year

Dear friends,
Ready or not, 2019 is knocking at the door. As we contemplate the new year, one thing I have noticed, is there are always a few people who say that the previous year was bad, and they are hoping the upcoming year will be better. I have always considered myself somewhat of an optimist. Some would call me a dreamer, and they would be entitled to their opinion. But to me, being positive is more productive than looking at the negative.

In thinking about the good year/bad year question, I wonder how we should describe a bad year, as opposed to a good year? Do we dwell on the bad things that happened, or do we look for some good in that experience? If 2018 has been a “bad” year for you, what would make 2019 a “good” year. We plan for what we would like to happen, but ultimately God is in charge of the future.

When we lost everything in the agricultural depression of the eighties, it was a bad experience at the time, but we learned valuable lessons that helped us immensely in the years that followed. In the bigger picture, it brought about positive results.

Of course, bad things happen in our lives, but to label a whole year as bad is probably an overstatement. If we would step back and look at the previous 365 days, I suspect the good days will outnumber the bad. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, insisted that for believers, those who love God, and are called according to his purpose, all things work for good in some way. (Romans 8:28).

We may certainly use those trials in our lives to give testimony to God’s faithfulness in each and every situation. We can focus on the negative, or we can turn a bad experience into a good one. For the Christian, every situation, whether seen as good or not, can be used to give glory and praise to God.

Here is a verse from the Bible that may be helpful. In the Old Testament, Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, had this to say to them; “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” (Genesis 50:20). Who can say God isn’t doing the same today?

Moving on,
Pastor Jerry

Landmarks

Hello friends,
I trust your Thanksgiving celebration was enjoyable, and you were able to count great numbers of blessings from the past year. We made a couple of road trips, traveling to South Dakota on Wednesday, to help Alex as he moves into a different house closer to school and work. Thursday, we joined with some other folks for a Thanksgiving meal and great fellowship, then on Friday to Neligh to celebrate with Ryan and the three grandsons.

We all have them; those places that we use to mark roads, or to remind us of some event in the past. As we traveled highway 281 north of O’Neill last Wednesday, we passed what is known locally as the “stone windmill.” I remarked that it was falling down with the passage of time. I thought of other landmarks I have known. Most have disappeared, but they seem to be always replaced with another name, or another object. Those places and events of life, seem to require some sort of marker for those who pass their way.

Growing up, where our county road connected to the major highway, there was a stone house. Everyone told people unfamiliar with the area to turn at the ‘stone house.’ Eventually, the old house was torn down, and being eight miles from town, the intersection became the eight-mile road.

In another place, three large cottonwood trees marked a t-intersection. Travelers were instructed to turn at the three-tree corner. After the road department cut those trees down, three more volunteer cottonwoods were allowed to grow up in their place. It is still the three-tree corner.

Other, more familiar landmarks have stood for many years, but show the wear and tear of erosion and other changes. I’m reminded of Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, among others. Landmarks may disappear, but we find replacements. In this age of GPS, people still need those landmarks to keep them on the right road.

The Bible can be compared to a landmark. Its purpose being to show the lost the way to salvation, and for helping to keep God’s people on the right path.

If I may paraphrase Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, landmarks disappear, but the word of God stands forever.” As the old song says, “The Bible stands, like a rock, undaunted.” When all other landmarks are gone, the Bible stands.

Standing on the promises,
Pastor Jerry

Staying on the Path

Our weather has turned noticeably cooler this week. I suppose it is a sign of a change in the seasons, but it doesn’t seem that long since the last one. While on the topic of weather, we have only watered our lawn once this summer, and it rained the next day.

So I’ve been told, some of the newer vehicles contain a guidance system to warn if you drift to one side or the other of the travel lane. My brother tells me his RV will even correct course on its own to a point. Even as I write this on my computer, auto-correct keeps me reminded of misspelled words and improper grammar. Technology continues to amaze me.

God gives His people a guidance system; it’s called His Word; most know it as the Bible. That Word, in conjunction with His Holy Spirit, will keep you on the path he has set out for you. In a world that seems to have lost its moral compass, there is a way to find true north, so to speak. I’ll share just a few passages to illustrate.

God’s word lights the way for us, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). It gives us wisdom for living; “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32). “Listen my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path” (Proverbs 23:19).

God’s word also tells us those things He calls sin, and helps us overcome sin in our lives: “Direct my footsteps according to Your word; let no sin rule over me” (Psalm 119:133).

Finally, let’s not forget God’s instructions to Joshua, as His people prepared to enter the promised land.
“Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:7-8).

GPS is great for keeping your vehicle on the road you want to travel, but GPL (God’s Plan for Life) will keep you on the path he has set before you.

Happy trails,
Pastor Jerry

Little Towns on Back Roads

Happy Labor Day. It was just four years ago that we moved our house to Lake Ericson. How time flies, it seems like yesterday.

Last Monday, we drove home from our weekend in Hershey, Nebraska. We traveled down Highway 30, instead of the Interstate. It was kind of a relaxing drive compared to good old I-80. As I mentioned last week, we had a great time meeting new friends and sharing the music and message. On our return trip, we drove through some towns that don’t get much traffic anymore, but people are living there who need to hear about Jesus.

According to the signs, and the billboards, every one of those little towns has one or more churches. I know that some of those churches are proclaiming God’s word as it is written, but I am also convinced that some are preaching a gospel that is not related to the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, the gospel being preached in many places, both large and small, has very little to do with salvation from sin and its penalty. It seems I keep returning to this topic much more than I would prefer, but I know I will be held responsible to God for failing to proclaim His truth. James had this to say to those who would teach. “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

I return to the letter written by Jude, to believers in one or more churches. He writes this: Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4).

Look around. Read that last sentence from Jude again. How many ‘churches’ do you know, whose leaders are leading in that direction? There are still godly men and women who are standing firm on the Word of God. Follow them, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry