Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Second Chances

Earlier this month, we went on an overnight trip to Fremont to see a concert by Nebraska Ambassadors of Music. It was a great performance by a group of very dedicated young musicians.

On our trip home, I had a lesson about second chances. Assuming I knew the way back home, even though we were going a different way, I left the gps on my phone turned off. Twice I missed turns that would have put me on the right road, and in both cases I was given a second chance to get it right. The first time, I turned left, when I should have turned right. A mile down the road, there was a farmer’s driveway that afforded an opportunity to turn around.

The second time, it was a matter of failing to see an approaching intersection in time to get slowed to turn. Since it was on a 4-lane highway, I figured we would have to continue for miles before we could correct my mistake. Just past the missed turn was a drive that crossed over the median to the other side. You guessed it. I missed it also. However, to my surprise, a short way up the road was another connection to the other side of the road. It was as if the highway engineer had some foreknowledge that someone would need another second chance to get on the right road.

In matters of eternal significance, we have a God of second chances. He sometimes gives many opportunities to get on the right road. We must not, however, become complacent and assume that he will always give us another chance. The Bible tells us that if we come to the end of our life, and refuse to accept His salvation, there are no more ‘second’ chances. The scripture says “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “For he (God) says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

The old gospel hymn asks, “Why do you wait dear brother? Why not come to Him now?” Why not indeed? Now is the day of salvation, there may not be another.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Springtime Meditations

We are starting to see a green tinge developing in the grass. The prevailing breezes are shifting to the south, trees are budding, and spring is in the air. The only thing lacking in our area is rain. There have been numerous grass fires in recent days, and most everyone is praying for rain. If the forecast holds true, those prayers may be answered early this week.

At the lake house, I am getting very close to finishing the sun porch. Next, we will try to get some grass established before the weather gets to warm. I may seek professional help in that area, because Milrae would like to see some actual grass.

The church calendar shows Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Resurrection Day coming up very soon. The good thing is these observances have a message that is timeless. This sounds like a good topic for our devotional this week.

When we were ranching, spring was always a reminder of good things to come, and after becoming a Christian, it all held new meaning for me.

Things like the knowledge that through faith in Jesus, I was raised to new life by being born again. Given a new start. A new heart. Become a new creation. Renewed in my spirit. My broken relationship with God restored through faith in Christ and belief in His resurrection.

Follow me through these verses. In John 3:3, to Nicodemus, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” God makes a promise to his people; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

New life. A new start. Salvation from sin and guilt. Eternity with my Lord and Savior. These are what Spring-time and the Resurrection mean to me.

In remembering the new little calves playing in the sunshine, I am also reminded of an Old Testament verse. “And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Enjoying the Son shine,
Pastor Jerry

Plans: Fail

Dear friends,
It is a bit cloudy this morning. There is a threat of winter precipitation in the forecast, but looking ahead we see signs of a warming trend. I am so ready for spring, and all that it brings. As I talk to people, I know I’m not alone in this.

We all have days when our plans for the future take unexpected turns. Saturday, we decided to go to Grand Island to get some more material for our lake house project. It seemed pretty simple; go get the things on our list, come home early and get some work done. As we pulled out on the highway, I noticed black smoke coming from the pickup exhaust. For a diesel, this is not a total surprise, but it continued all the way to the city, then as I stopped for a light, the smoke turned from black to white. This is not a good thing.

I knew son Ryan and Alex were somewhere south of York on another mission, so I called and they came to our rescue. I got someone to tow the pickup to the shop, Ryan and Alex met us at Menard’s, and with our purchases, took us back home. Now we will wait for the ‘good news’ concerning the pickup engine. As the poet said, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

This all reminds me of what the Bible says about our making plans, and what God makes of our plans. Here are a few: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

This one from James about says it all: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).

Someone once said, “If you want to make the Lord laugh, just tell him your plans.” To this I can only say, “Amen!”

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Unchanging God

Dear friends,
Are you getting back to your regular schedule after the holidays? Have you adjusted to writing 2015 on your checks? Sometimes change takes some effort, doesn’t it?

With our recent colder weather, we’ve been content to stay home most of the time. I haven’t even been spending much time at the lake house. We’re looking for some warmer temperatures this week.

As I contemplate moving on from my role as full-time pastor here at the church, I have been reflecting on the journey that brought us to this point. Much has changed, but one thing unchanging is our God’s faithfulness.

Our church has been in existence for just over 20 years, I have been its pastor for 15+ of those years. We have seen members come and go. Weddings have been performed and I have conducted funeral and memorial services for several of our members. In its existence, the church has gone from meeting in homes, a gymnasium, a mobile chapel, and into our current building.

There will undoubtedly be more change in the future, but as we trust in the Lord and seek His will, I pray the church will continue to make a difference in our community and beyond.

Regarding God’s faithfulness, I see several truths. No matter where we are in our lives, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, He is there. Even for someone who doesn’t know God personally through a relationship with His Son, God is near. He is near enough to answer when an unbeliever confesses his sin and asks Jesus into his life.

Our Lord in not only near to us, He is faithful to keep his promises. He gives us guidance and strength as we travel the path He has set out for us. As God the Father, he is our Creator and Sustainer, as God the Son, He is our Savior, and as God the Holy Spirit, He is our Helper. He is unchanging and eternal.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4).
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things…” (John 14:26).
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen!” (1 Timothy 1:17).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

The Bible Stands

Hello again,
We are at the beginning of a new year; time to move into another stage of life, begin a new adventure, or even just continue on the path set before us. In any case, it seems with the turning of the calendar page, we get a fresh start.

The New Year may bring joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain, wealth or poverty. Whatever else it is, we can be certain it will not be exactly the same as last year.

In these times, it seems there are more people willing to publicly attack the Bible as outdated, and irrelevant for the times. False teaching about the meaning and importance of the Bible are everywhere. A recent front page article in Newsweek magazine insisted the Bible is “so misinterpreted it’s a sin.” The Bible warns us of false teachers and those who would twist the scriptures to the point of denying its truth and authorship.

Our devotional thought this week comes from 2 Peter 1:1-11. In it, Peter helps us learn how to recognize and avoid false teaching. We begin by understanding salvation. God is the source of our salvation. He provided the sacrifice for our sin in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty in our place. We then are saved by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross (verses 1-2).

Our salvation is sustained by God’s power, and His power is all that is necessary for “everything we need for life and godliness…so that we can escape the corruption of this world” (verses 3-4).

Our salvation is confirmed by certain characteristics of the true Christian. These are goodness, knowledge (of God), self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (verses 5-6).

Finally, having these things present in increasing measure, we will keep us on track in our spiritual lives, leading us to assurance in this life, and riches in heaven (verses 8-10).

This is from the Our Daily Bread devotional last week: “As the spiritual darkness of our world grows deeper, the light of Christ shines more brightly through all those who know and love Him. Jesus is our joy and hope—today, tomorrow, and forever.”

In these times, it is more important than ever for God’s people to be equipped to stand and defend what we believe and know to be the truth.

Standing on His Word,
Pastor Jerry

It’s Not About Me

It was a good week for us. Now that the house has been moved, the sense of urgency has diminished. This is a very good thing. I was able to get some dirt work done (you could call it landscaping), and last evening, we planted four trees. The job was made easier with something I once heard called “mechanical muscle.”

I have heard comments over the years from some who in various ways have indicated that they think church is boring. This will be my topic for our time in the Word this week.

First of all, we must define church. We tend to think of church as a building where we “go to church.” Simply put, the church is a gathering of folks who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Where they meet is not important.

The purpose of meeting together, no matter the location, is to worship the Lord. When we feel bored in our worship gathering, I submit to you that we have a wrong idea about worship. Let me ask a few questions in regard to this.

When you come for worship, do you get excited to hear the Gospel preached? Do songs of worship and praise stir your heart to worship God? Do you look forward to fellowship with His people? Worship is about giving, not receiving.

Worship is when we come before God, giving him praise and glory and honor for who He is. Worship is focused on the Lord. It is never about how I feel, or what pleases me. That part of our Sunday worship gathering we call fellowship with other believers is also not about me, it is about encouraging and supporting others in the faith.

Forget the music, the preaching, or what everyone else is doing or not doing. If I am truly worshiping, it is me focused on God, not me focused on me. As we worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), we also remember the words of Paul: “Therefore, I urge  you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer you bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

You see, true worship is giving ourselves to the Lord for His purpose and will. So, we sing, “to God be the glory, great things He has done!”

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry

Lake Meditations

The past week was busy, as usual. We started getting the house ready for its move, and I met with the house mover. He assured me the move would happen sometime this month. The weekend activities were many and varied, and we’re glad to start a new month and a new week.

I spent some quiet time out at the lake one morning last week, and here are some thoughts from my time there.

The view of creation reminded me that there is a Creator. The variety of colors and sizes of the trees around the lake reminded me that when we are rooted in the Lord, we are like trees planted by the water. (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

As I looked across at the carousel, I thought about how the old things remind us of our past,Then my gaze shifted to the new house foundation and was reminded of the future. There is nothing wrong with being aware of our past, and we make plans for the future here on earth, but it is more important to plan for where we will spend eternity.

The smooth water of the lake reflected the glory of God and his creation. “The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens” (Psalm 113:4).

The signs placed around the area warn of hazards and set boundaries for our protection, much as God’s word and his Law give warnings and limits for us.

The abundance of birds remind me of scripture that says He cares for the birds of the air, and He will most certainly care for me. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than birds” (Matthew 6:26)?

The cool breeze over the lake reminds me of the presence of the Holy Spirit. As the wind moves the water, so the Spirit moves the hearts of men.

The benches under the trees remind me of Jesus’ invitation to come to Him and find rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

On this day when we honor those who labor, I invite you to take some time to reflect on God and His Word. In Him we find true rest.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry