Archive for the ‘Fellowship’ Category

Stand for the Truth

Last week it seemed somehow we skipped fall, and went right into winter. Those balmy Indian Summer days evaporated into cold and snow. I know, we haven’t had any great amount of snow, but really, I had hoped for a longer time of nice weather. One thing is for sure, I am not in control of the weather!

We got to go back to our old neighborhood church this past Sunday. I was invited to preach in the absence of their regular pulpit supply person. If you are so inclined, you might pray that little congregation could soon get a new pastor. There is much talk about reaching rural America with the gospel, and that church goes beyond most folks’ concept of what is rural. Sybrant Community Church is soon to celebrate its 100th year as a church. That this church is still in existence,qq is a testament to the faithfulness of God to His people. It is a gospel witness in that community.

Teachers of another gospel, one that is completely different from that of Jesus and His apostles, have been around since the beginning of Christianity. Now, it seems to me that we are witnessing these false teachers in increasing numbers. As many contemporary churches are trying to accommodate all the unbiblical ideas and even heretical teaching, in an attempt to “reach more people”, the gospel is being watered down and even ignored. Many people are being led away from the truth by these people.

The apostle Paul had harsh words for the church in Galatia. He wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7).

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “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…. They will turn their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 2:2-4).

Folks, that time is here. Pray for, and join with those who proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Spiritual warfare is real.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

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The Call: Part Two

The great fall weather continues. I don’t really remember seeing the colors as bright as they are this year. Every day the sunrise is more beautiful than the day before. I hesitate to post to many photos of our morning view, for fear you will be bored by them. A friend of mine wrote this week that God must be a Nebraskan, for all the beauty He has given us. Amen!

Now, on to our devotional thought for the week: As we saw last time, God calls us to salvation. That call is followed by God’s call to serve Him. Without answering the call to salvation, there can be no call to serve.

There are many ways to serve God. I suppose the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when I speak of serving the Lord, would be missionaries, or pastors. However, these are not the only ways Christians can serve the Lord. Here are several more:

Testimony… Live lives worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1)
Fellowship… Do not forsake meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25).
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
Meeting the needs of people. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you will; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it” (James 2:15-16)?

Service to the Lord shows in many ways, but the object of all service is to bring him praise and glory, along with introducing lost people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are not called to warm the church pews for one hour a week, then go silently back into the world. Every believer is to be obedient to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, …and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“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. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Go into all the world. Go and tell. Your salvation is shown by your obedience to God’s commands.

His Words,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts From the Sandhills

Dear friends,
We have taken a few days to get away and see some different scenery.

Our weekend was spent in Valentine at Old West Days. We heard some great music, some original cowboy poetry and some really funny stories; all part of the efforts of a few people committed to preserving our western heritage.

As we drove to Valentine Thursday afternoon, we came to a spot in the road that brought back a memory from 53 years ago as plain as yesterday. It was the day before our wedding. My fiancé, her bridesmaids, and I were on a mission to pick up a couple of dresses. At that particular spot on the highway, at about 85 mph, we encountered water on the highway, and the old ’58 Ford four door hydroplaned. We stayed on the road while fishtailing from one side of the road to the other. No one was injured, only scared half to death. The wedding took place the next day, and I have never forgotten that spot.

Friday afternoon, we took a side trip to Merritt reservoir, just to look around and try to find the places we camped, back when our boys were small. A lot has changed there in the intervening years, but we found familiar places nonetheless.

Saturday morning, I participated in a Christian Leadership Conference. I had to leave early, but was able to connect briefly with long-time friends and Christian leaders from all over our beloved Sandhills. The purpose of this training is to equip believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. The Sandhills of Nebraska has been called, ‘God’s Own Cow Country’, but I fear we have left Him out of our conversation far too long.

There is much talk in Christian circles about foreign missions, but I am and always will be convinced, there is a huge mission field right here in our corner of the world. There a thousands of good people living here, who do not have a real, personal relationship with Christ.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them” (Romans 10:13-14)?

Pray,
Pastor Jerry

Home

Hello friends,
It’s raining as I write this. The rain gauge reads 1.80 inches at this moment, and more is forecast.

Yesterday, Sunday, we made the trip back to our old country church. It was a great day of catching up with old friends, and enjoying worshiping together again. It has been said you can’t go home, but I think you can go back for a visit now and then.

Speaking of home, as I look at the craziness in the world around us, I have to remind myself, as a Christian, that this is not my home. The scripture tells us our home is in heaven, and we are just strangers in a foreign land. In my song book, there are a number of songs that speak to this. You may recognize some of these titles: This World is Not My Home, Gone Home, Do Lord (I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land), just to name a very few.

The apostle Peter wrote to God’s elect, strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1). In chapter 2, verse 11, he refers to believers as ‘aliens and strangers in the world’. The then speaks of another home… “But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

In Hebrews, we read of those Old Testament saints; “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth… Instead they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

And that familiar passage in John’s gospel, as Jesus speaks to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

So, don’t be discouraged with what you see and hear these days. This is temporary. There is a better home ‘up yonder’. Invite Jesus into your heart today, and look forward to your Mansion Over the Hilltop.

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Making Music

The Gospel Music Jam under the carousel at Lake Ericson is history. The weather was ideal, the music was uplifting, and a good time was had by everyone. I think everyone agrees that we need to do it again. As Willie Nelson sang, “the life I love is making music with my friends.”

We are in prayer for the people of Texas this week, especially the Huston area, as they deal with epic flooding. There are areas not too far from us, where it is a bit wet, but we have never seen flooding like this, and I can’t even imagine that kind of destruction. Those of you whose hay harvest has been delayed for a time because of wet meadows, count your blessings. It could be worse.

Labor Day weekend is almost here. For most, it is the last weekend of the summer season. After living here at the lake for just a few summers, we know the really busy time is coming to a close. It is good to see all the families enjoying the lake and its activities, but the quiet season is something we look forward to, also.

Back to the gospel music we all enjoyed this weekend; someone remarked how good it was to just spend the afternoon listening to God’s gift of music, seated in the midst of His creation, and for a time forgetting the cares of the world.

Scripture is filled with references to music as worship and praise. Here are a few of them:
“Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre” (Psalm 33:2).
“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1).
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music” (Psalm 98:4).
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp” (Psalm 147:7).
And from the New Testament: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

If you can’t sing, there are these from the English Standard Version:
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
(Psalm 95:1)
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” (Psalm 100:1)

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Rejoicing in Blessings

Dear friends,
The heat wave continues in our part of the world. Air conditioners are working full-time, and losing the battle most of the time. It would be a huge blessing to see some rain, and a cooling down of the daytime temperatures. We’ll just have to pray along those lines.

This week, I am going to just share some observations and some fun things that have happened lately. There might be something here that blesses someone in some way. It would be great if that happens.

A tradition here at Lake Ericson with many of the residents is an evening tour around the community with either a golf cart or some other small personal vehicle. Saturday evening, two young ladies from down the street rode with us. As we drove along listening to them chatter and laugh in the back of the golf cart, I thought, how much fun it would be to return to a time when we had such a carefree outlook on life. Not to start life over, but just to visit there for a short time. It is kind of sad that we get so jaded in our outlook as we age. I’m reminded of the words of Solomon: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Summer seems to be a time of celebration. Every town, both small and large, has a celebration of some kind. How many times have you seen one of those highway department signs alerting you to a “local celebration”, so you will be aware of traffic hazards?

There was a small celebration at the boat ramp across the street from our house Sunday afternoon. A young lady who had invited Jesus into her heart just a few years ago, allowed me the privilege of baptizing her in the lake. There were just a few friends present to celebrate with her, but I know the angels in heaven were celebrating, also. When Jesus taught the parable of the lost coin, he told of the woman rejoicing with her friends when she found it. He then said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Rejoicing in these,
Pastor Jerry

He Lives!

For those who have been asking about fishing reports, I finally have something to report. I have been seeing fishermen on the lake recently, so I decided it was time for me to get serious. Thursday afternoon, I spent a couple of hours fishing from the lake shore. Having had no success, I was about to give it up as wasted effort, and decided to make just ‘one more cast.’ As soon as my lure hit the water, I thought I must have gotten snagged on a tree limb. As I reeled in the line it felt like dragging dead weight. About ten feet from shore, the “log” started trying to escape. It turned out to be a 31 inch, 7 ½ pound northern pike. After some deliberation, I put it back in the lake. Now you know there is at least one nice fish in Ericson Lake.

Sunday, we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord. It was a great time of fellowship and worship, and I trust your Easter was the same. I really believe, that many times we fail to adequately understand the significance of this most important event in Christian history.

Have you ever considered, of all the religions in the world, Christianity is the only one with a living Savior? Every other religion’s founder is dead, and his followers can name the place he is buried. God raised Jesus from the dead, and He resides in heaven today.

In dying, Jesus paid the penalty for all the sins of all people. Yours and mine. Past, present and future. In doing so, He gave us the opportunity to spend all eternity with Him. Salvation from sin and its penalty, is available to all who believe this, and who by faith will accept the gift offered.

“For God so loved the world, He sent his 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” (John 3:16-17).

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

He Lives! Praise be to God for His indescribable gift!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry