Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

The Gift

Hello friends,
It is the last week of November. The Thanksgiving leftovers are almost gone, and after being thankful for God’s blessings of the past year, we can now concentrate on celebrating the greatest gift ever given, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Christmas lights are up at the Lake, and if you are in the area, it is worth driving out to see them. As the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The past few days have been unseasonably warm, so it may be harder to think Christmas. However, there are only four weeks until Christmas, and then a brand new year. As I look back, I see many changes in the past year, and I don’t believe they were all positive. That is not to say there was nothing positive, just that those things were less noticeable.

We are reminded at this time of year, that God came to earth in human form, to set in motion His plan to redeem a sinful, fallen world. There was a quote in our church bulletin this morning that said, “It is really sad how much of our time, effort and energies are captured by the cultural busyness of Christmastime, rather than the core of the Advent story. We allow Christmas to be more about created stuff than it is about the incarnation of the Creator. We’ve turned the story on its head.”

Here is a refresher, just in case anyone might need it:
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 (John 3:16).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

The apostle Paul, in reminding the church at Corinth of the gospel, wrote this, “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, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Yours,
Pastor Jerry

Advertisements

Give Thanks

Dear friends,
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
What is the Thanksgiving holiday? It has always been about giving thanks to God, our Creator and Provider, for all things good. These would include crops harvested, good health, a roof over our heads, a warm bed to sleep in, food on the table, family, country, and especially thanks for our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Most people understand saying please and thank you, as a matter of being polite to one another. And, most people thank other people for kindnesses shown, for gifts at birthdays and Christmas, and at other times, as well. But when it comes to a thanksgiving holiday, who do those who do not believe in the God of the Bible thank for all their blessings? Think about that.

Who indeed, can we thank for the very breath we breath, if not a Creator? What sense could it make to thank some pool of primordial soup, as some see the beginning of life? The Bible says “In the beginning, God”, that is good enough for me, and I will praise Him to the end of time and beyond.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5).

Jesus said it: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

The chorus to an old hymn comes to mind at this time of year:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

May you have many blessings to count this Thanksgiving Day,

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Memorial Stones

Dear Readers,
The cool weather continues for us. Along with it came some beneficial rains, for which we are very thankful. My bout with shingles is winding down. For this I am thankful also. Next time someone mentions getting a preventive inoculation, I will be first in line! I will be posting this early Monday morning, so any comments I might have concerning the solar eclipse will wait until next week.
I’ve been thinking about those who seem bent on removing anything that would remind Americans of their national identity and inheritance. There are several lines of conversation, or commentary that come from this behavior.
One truth from the lessons of history is that if a people wanted to conquer a civilization, they would remove all the landmarks and other reminders of their history and culture. In our day, we have seen ISIS destroying Christian landmarks, and in our country currently, there is a movement to remove reminders of our past.
When the children of Israel were entering the Promised Land, when the priests, who were carrying the ark of the covenant, stepped into the Jordan river, the water stopped flowing, so that they could cross on dry ground. After reaching the other side, they were instructed to set up stones as a memorial. Joshua told the people that they were setting up the stones as a permanent memorial, so that when their children asked the question, “What are these stones”, they could answer with a lesson from Israel’s history.
These are the words of the Lord, given through Joshua to the people: “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cutoff before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6-7).
Sadly, after Joshua passed from the scene, Israel forgot her past, and began to be influenced by her pagan neighbors. The result of this was that God judged Israel and sent her into exile for seventy years. I fear America may be on a similar path. We who care about the rich history of our country need to pray fervently that God would intervene and put her back on the straight way.
Praying for America,
Pastor Jerry

Following

Things are beginning to return to normal around here. Last weekend was busy, with a Saturday wedding in Grand Island, and preaching in Burwell on Sunday. Most of this week has involved getting rested and recharged. The lake campgrounds are staying busy, with tankers and others who appreciate the good life here.

If you are involved at all with social media, you know about following. We follow everything; blogs, tweets, snaps, pages, and yes, people. In fact, followers are at an all-time high. People will do anything for a follow, if you have watched any YouTube videos, you know what I mean.

In the Bible, Jesus invites us to follow Him, but following Jesus is more than liking a page or a group, it is responding to a call. To His disciples and to us, he says, “come follow me” (Matthew 4:19). He said these words to some fishermen, and their response is recorded in the next verse; “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” This should be our response to his call.

The Bible tells us that we all follow someone, and the identity of the one calling us determines how we follow. Jesus said of his followers, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). In another place, He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We are told that following Jesus will bring us salvation from sin, give us eternal life, and enable us to live holy lives.

On the contrary, those who follow false teachers and the ways of the world will reap judgment, and spend eternity in hell, separated from God. The apostle Paul, had much to say about those who refuse to follow Him. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8).

Following someone on social media doesn’t require anything more than a mouse click or touching a screen. No commitment is needed. Following Jesus is a life-long journey that leads to peace, righteousness, and true lasting joy. Who are you following today?

Following Jesus,
Pastor Jerry

Concerning Work

Hello friends,
We are a couple of weeks into the official summer season. This means the days are getting shorter, but it will be awhile before we notice much difference. The Independence Day holiday is soon to be history, and we will get down to our summer routine. For some, it will be watering and mowing the lawn, or tending a garden. For others, it will be watering crops, and harvesting a hay crop.

God put us here to work and to make a living, in order to provide for our families, and in the end to bring Him glory through our stewardship of what He has given us.

It begins is Genesis 2. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:9-10).
“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in His ways;
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours” (Psalm 128:1-2).

To those who would take advantage of other’s work by stealing, Paul said, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his hands.” And more good advice from Paul: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17), and this includes our vocation, whatever it may be.

So, as you go about your daily work routine this summer, whatever it is, work as for the Lord, because after all, he is the provider of all good things, even the daily labor he has called you to do. In addition, here is a bit of advice from the apostle Paul: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

The Answer

Dear friends,,
The busy 4th of July weekend is coming up. Perhaps we will have the pleasure of seeing some of you at the Lake.

Lately, I have been thinking about all the things going on in our world. It seems all the news is bad news, and people are asking what has gone wrong?

Maybe you have seen or heard this next statement: If Jesus is the answer, what it the question. The question is this: What is the problem with the world? According to God, sin is the reason for all the dysfunction in the world. It started in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and His creation was broken.

Paul reminds his readers, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” He goes on, “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18). This sounds like our present day and age.

Yesterday, as I sat in church before worship began, I noticed the scripture on the banner above the organ: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! Good News! The perfect, sinless Lamb of God came to be the once for all solution to a sin-sick world.

Did you get that? He is the One who came to take away all the sin of the world. He paid the penalty for every sinner. Don’t forget, however, that only those who receive the gift God offers, are saved. Sin demands payment. No one can save himself. Only Jesus Christ is qualified to be the Savior.

Again from Romans chapter 6, verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As it is written in the Book of Acts: “Salvation is found in no one else… there is no other name by which we must be saved.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Memorial Day

The Memorial Service held Sunday at Lake Ericson was well attended, and kudos go to those who helped in any way. I won’t give names, because you know who you are, and I would miss someone. The program was followed by root beer, or orange floats. Yummy!

Memorial Day is one of those holidays that for many people, has lost some of its meaning. In the beginning, it was to honor fallen soldiers. At some point, deceased family members began to be included in the tradition. These days, for lots of people, it has become just another long weekend to spend at the lake, or the campground. The time is spent drinking adult beverages, and eating barbeque, probably with little or no thought of how we acquired the freedoms we are enjoying.

Attending a service such as the one held Sunday afternoon here at the lake, reminds us once again, of the blessings we experience living in the United States of America. Regardless of your view of current politics, this is still the best country in the world, bar none!

Honoring those who have served, and are serving our country, should be a priority for everyone. After all, it is their sacrifice that secured and preserved our freedom. In addition, much of whatever peace exists in the world today, is the result of America’s military strength and presence around the globe.

To repeat scripture shared at the service this afternoon, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Many are those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their countrymen.

Ultimately, peace will come to the earth when Christ returns as conquering King. For now, we are indebted to the peacekeepers in our military. May God bless and protect them, as they serve.

Some of you will read this after Memorial Day has passed; even so, would you say a prayer for our military personnel everywhere in the world? Thank you.

God bless America!
Pastor Jerry