Archive for the ‘Giving’ Category

Getting or Giving?

Hello friends,
We have endured another week of very mild temperatures. Somehow, I feel we will pay for these at some point. It has been good for putting up those remaining outdoor Christmas decorations, though.

I’m doing something different this week. Since Black Friday and all the other special shopping days are past, I thought it might be helpful to think about the following article from the “Babylon Bee”, a satirical news site that pokes fun at current culture.

Headline: Nation Repents of Thanksgiving with Day of Violent Pillaging
U.S.—Unable to fake contentment and thankfulness for one more second, citizens across the nation awoke Friday and immediately set out on a frenzied mission to violently pillage and strip bare all nearby retail locations, determined to acquire any discounted goods they desired, by any means necessary, numerous reports confirmed.

Pillagers beat each other with various weapons and instruments, wrestled on the floor like animals, and even exchanged gunfire in some locations, all in the name of taking hold of material goods they desired.
Sources confirmed that the unfettered violence occurred less than 24 hours after these same people sat around tables with family and friends, over large meals, and gave thanks for the many blessings in their lives.

“12 hours of gratefulness annually is way too much for the majority of humankind to stomach,” experts revealed amidst the day’s chaos. “What we see on Black Friday is just human nature’s standard, guttural reaction to the annual tradition of acting like the world does not revolve around them for one whole day.”

Here is what Jesus said about this kind of behavior: Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4).
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after such things, and you Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:29-31).

Perhaps this might give us pause, as we consider the real meaning of Christmas in the days ahead.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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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

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

On Serving Him

I didn’t go fishing last week, but I did go to the annual meeting of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists and catch a cold. So, from Wednesday to now, I’ve been in survival mode.

These annual meetings are for the purpose of conducting the business of the convention; electing officers, approving a budget for the coming year, etc. But, there are also sermons and Bible studies that both challenge and encourage us. Today, I’ll share just a couple of thoughts that caused me to examine my own life.

One statement was this: We need more dish towels, and fewer show towels. In every home, there are usually some show towels. You just know they are put on the towel bar for show. They are purely decorative, and not to be used for drying. But you also find dish towels. They are placed where they can be used for drying the dishes. If you want something dried, you find the dish towel.

In Christian service, there is a need for ‘dish towels’. We are to be useful in service to the Lord, not just hanging around for show. Jesus is our example, as he washed the feet of his disciples on the night of the Last Supper.

The other comment from one of the speakers that struck me, was the following: “If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.” This relates to my thoughts last year when headed to Good Samaritan Hospital on a helicopter, in the middle of the night.

I realized that if I survived whatever was wrong with me, that God must still have work for me to do. I did survive, and I am now in relatively good health. Although I retired from the pastoral role in my church, I am convinced that there is still more for me to do in the line of ministry. I will wait now to see where my Lord leads me. There is a hymn with these words: “Where He leads me I will follow. I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.”

These are the words of Jesus: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be” (John 12:26). To all of His followers, His command is, “come, follow me.”

Do you know Him? Are you following Him? Remember, “If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done!”

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

On Possessions

We have appreciated the cooler weather of the last few days. I have no personal fishing report yet, although I did see some really nice largemouth bass that two ladies had caught Friday afternoon.

I find we are still having to deal with years of collecting things we thought we had to have. In fact, due to the amount of stuff we still possess, we have purchased another piece of property here at the lake. We will now have a place to keep our “overflow”, that is the tractor and its attachments, the little pontoon boat, golf cart, etc. This does not mean we have found the answer to the problem of having these things, downsizing must continue.

I am continually reminded of scripture that warns of letting material goods take first place in our lives. Note: It’s not my wife that keeps reminding me, she has stuff, too. Could it be the Spirit of God tapping me on the shoulder, saying “enough already”?

As I talk with other people, I find we are not the only ones dealing with the abundance of things not needed. Many of us are having this struggle. What is the answer to this? God’s word has some suggestions.

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Jesus, speaking to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21). “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In the follow-up to his story of the rich man who built more bins to hold his grain, Jesus had this advice for his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Luke 12:22-23).

Here is a final thought on this subject. I read this statement a few years ago, and it comes to mind now. “Someday, all your valued possessions will fit in a small drawer in some nursing home.”

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Reflections

As I write this morning, it is Memorial Day. Yesterday (Sunday), here at the lake, there was a program honoring our veterans and those who gave all for our country. It was interesting to hear some of the veterans tell their stories of service, and I was reminded again of the sacrifices made to keep our country free. At the same time, I was reading on social media of the vandalism of patriot displays and cemeteries around the country. It makes one ask, “what is wrong with people today who have no respect for these things? Actually, the answer is found in the Bible. It starts in the hearts of people. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:10)?

As I look out my window, I see the lake. Its surface is completely still this morning, and reflects the trees along the edge, and the sky above. It is much like a mirror. Many years ago, somewhere I remember reading that the color of the water on a given day, is a reflection of the sky. Sunny days, it appears to be blue. On gray cloudy days, the water is seen as dark and gray. I think this relates to my opening comment concerning the behavior of people. What we see in their words and actions are a reflection of their heart.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Christians are to reflect the character and actions of the Lord Jesus. We are to be a mirror image of the One whose name we bear. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” (Romans 8:29).

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49). “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness…” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

It is not possible for any person to consistently exhibit right behavior without Christ in his or her heart. It is hard enough sometimes for the Christian to do so.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Preparing for Christmas

Today, I would like to share some thoughts on preparing for Christmas, as outlined in a recent article I read. We are about half-way through the season of Advent. Its purpose is to allow us to make preparations in anticipation of celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The writer of the article takes us to the time of John the Baptist as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. John was preparing the people for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

The story begins in Matthew 3:1—In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

So, first of all we see that preparing for His coming involves change, that’s what repentance is about. Could we perhaps change our thinking on how we spend our Christmas funds? Maybe we could contribute an amount equal to what we spend on ourselves to a homeless shelter or food bank.

John lived a simple life. He dressed in animal skins and ate what the and provided. Most of us wouldn’t do well in that kind of environment, but I’m sure we could simplify our lives to a greater degree than we do. As we try to make it to all the holiday activities, might we slow down a bit, and take the time to read and meditate on the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2? The second way we might prepare for the coming of the Lord, is to simplify.

Finally, we read in verses 5-6 of Matthew 3— “People went out to him (John)…Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

Without too much of a stretch, we can see the act of being baptized as worship. The symbolism for us might be that we leave our homes and go to a church or some other meeting place to worship Christ. We should set aside time to worship, both privately and with other believers.

Let’s prepare for Christmas with repentance, simplicity and worship.

Anticipating His coming
Pastor Jerry