Archive for the ‘God’s Word’ Category

Basics

There’s not a lot of news from our house this week, we are mostly staying indoors and enjoying our retirement. One benefit of being home alone with each other is so far, we have escaped the illnesses making their rounds in the area. Some of our time is spent trying out new recipes that appear on our Facebook page. I wonder if the folks who share all those wonderful pictures of food, have tried them all?

My wife has done the cooking in our house since the beginning. Our menu was somewhat limited in the early years, but improvement came quickly. As I join her in the kitchen, one thing I have learned, is the best results come from following the recipe.

Living the Christian life is much the same. For the best results we need to stay within the bounds of the Basic Recipe, God’s Word. In a day when some are calling the Bible outdated and unnecessary, and as one preacher has promoted the idea of ‘unhitching’ from the Old Testament, we need to stop and take a look at what we might call the basic recipe for living as God intended.

The Ten Commandments and the commands of Jesus. They are not unrelated, in fact, they are forever connected through Jesus Christ. He said, “I have not come to abolish the Law, I have come to fulfill the Law.”

The first four of the Ten Commandments pertain to the relationship of the Israelites with God, and the other six deal with social relationships within the community of God’s people. In the New testament Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This was followed by, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:29-31).

In another place, Jesus gives his disciples a new command, that they were to love one another, just as he had loved them. (John 13:34). The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are not divorced from the New Testament teaching, in fact, they are connected through the work of Christ on the cross, as he fulfilled the Law and continued its basic thought of first giving God his due worship, and having a right relationship with his children.

Borrowed quote: “God’s Word: Still the final authority, opinions don’t matter”; whether in the New or Old Testaments.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

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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

The Season Begins

Hello friends,
Already it is December. Soon we’ll be trying to learn a new number to write on our checks, that is if anyone writes checks anymore. Here at our place we have experienced our second winter storm of the season, and winter hasn’t officially arrived. We are well protected from the wind here, so I doubt we had as much drifting as in other places. Also, I think the total snowfall here was less than forecast, and I’m okay with that.

It is the season of Advent for the Christian church. We celebrate the first coming of our Lord, and look forward to his promised return. As I observe people, it seems most don’t understand the significance of Christmas, let alone any thought of Christ returning again. There are colored lights and evergreen trees with all kinds of decorations, including a herald angel at the top. Presents under the tree, and displays of shepherds and wise men meeting at the nativity with gifts for baby Jesus.

But, may I suggest that if you asked most people to explain the meaning of Christmas, they would probably be hard pressed to give a clear presentation of the reason for the season. Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin, he lives in the hearts of those who believe, and he is coming again at some future time.

Here is the problem, as I see it. Most have a pretty good grasp on the idea of Jesus’ first coming, and will understand that he was raised from the dead, and is in heaven with the Father. The downside is they live as though he is ‘out there’ somewhere, while failing to understand his presence in the world. Their lives are lived no different from those who claim no knowledge of Jesus or God.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, his disciples were told, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

I found this appropriate quote from William Barclay, a Scottish theologian: “The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ.”

Waiting for His appearing,
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

Planning for Eternity

Our week started out rather nice, but by Thursday there was a radical change in the weather. We experienced snow for the second time in recent weeks. Friday morning, the temperature here was 13 degrees, with a stiff northwest breeze. I am definitely not ready for this.

The election is over now, and whether or not you are satisfied with the result, this is still the best place in the world to live, in my humble opinion. We are still a free society, and have freedoms that are not available in many parts of the world. Let us not take those freedoms for granted.

I have a habit of reading the obituary page of the newspaper. One phrase I see now and then, is that a person died unexpectedly. I suppose it is that the person died without warning. No one really expects to die, even though we know it is a part of life.

Knowing that we will pass from this life at some point in time, the question should be, am I ready to die? What preparations have I made for this event? Many people do estate planning, purchase cemetery plots, and make funeral arrangements in advance. But how many stop to consider where they will spend eternity?

There seems to be a general lack of concern for what lies beyond this life. Most people, I believe, just live in the here and now, with little thought of anything beyond. The truth is that there is life after death, and everyone will spend eternity somewhere. The Bible gives two destinations. One is heaven, the other is hell. There are some who believe in heaven, but think they will be allowed in because of their good deeds, and that they are in better standing with God than others they know. Some claim hell will be their destination, after all their friends will be there. Still others believe there will be opportunity to choose, after they die.

The Bible says this: Man is destined to die once, and after that, to face judgment. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, there is no other name by which we must be saved. Now is the day of salvation.

No one is promised tomorrow. Where will you spend eternity if you should ‘die unexpectedly’? Make those preparations now. Place your faith and trust in the Savior.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Defend Life

Some of you will receive this before the election on Tuesday. To you, I say get out and vote. It is your responsibility as a citizen to do so. To those of you reading this after the election, I hope you did vote, but remember, if you didn’t vote you, have no grounds to complain at the results.

For ‘retired’ people, we seem to be almost as busy as ever. I remember thinking my mother spent a lot of time keeping doctor’s appointments and now that I’m in that age group, I’m doing the same thing. In addition, in the past week I had a speaking engagement at a sister church, and we attended a bluegrass music concert at the Golden Husk Theater in Ord, which by the way was well worth the price of admission.

As I observe the activities of many in our culture who claim to be Christians, I wonder what Christ they follow, or if they have ever read their Bibles? Case in point: There was a news article in which a group of folks described as ‘clergy’, were gathered to ask God to bless an abortion facility. How is it that anyone could actually think that the Creator of life could be asked to bless, or condone something that can only be described as the taking of an innocent human life?

I believe God’s word is quite specific concerning this topic, and even though it has become a highly partisan issue, it is at its core a denial of God’s sovereignty over his creation.

I will let the Bible speak for itself. First of all, God is the creator of life: Genesis 1:27… “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.” As for babies, it is God who is responsible for their existence. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). God commanded, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). God condemned Israel for getting involved with child sacrifice. “They built high places for Baal… to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin” (Jeremiah 32:35).

May we repent of this sin, and God forgive us.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A View of God

Hello friends,
Again with the weather. We’ve had beautiful days this week, and it brings memories of autumns past. I think this is called Indian Summer. Whatever you call it, I’m all for letting it continue. With all the newsworthy events going on in the world, it is good to pause and take in the good things God provides, including the changing of the seasons.

The popular view of God is that he is a God of love and mercy, of forgiveness, and there are those who promote the idea that he is a loving grandfather who wouldn’t judge anyone. The Bible reveals a God who is love, for sure, but along with this, it also emphasizes his justice and his wrath.

Now, there are many people who would say the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and judgement, but not so in the New Testament. This is not true. God does not change. If he judged people in the Old Testament for rejecting Him, He will do so in this age. True justice grows from love and rewards obedience, while punishing disobedience. The New Testament writers certainly did not ignore the fact of a wrathful God. Pay close attention to the following passages of scripture.

From Paul’s letter to the church at Rome: “The wrath of God is being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed… But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:5,8). Further, Paul writes this: But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world” (Romans 3:5-6).

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The words of John the Baptist in John 3:36; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Good News!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry