Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

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

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Rebel or Sinner?

It’s time for another visit. Although I hesitate to open every conversation with a weather report, here goes. We have been enjoying some nicer conditions, after our little taste of winter last week. I am seeing some harvesting machinery in the fields, as it begins to dry out from the recent moisture. With the improved weather comes a reminder to pray for a safe and bountiful harvest season.

Occasionally, my mind wanders way back to my earlier days. The other day, we were discussing the misbehavior of children, and as sometimes is the case, we were being somewhat critical of today’s young people. Suddenly, I was taken way back to my youth, to a time of personal rebellion, and remembered my mother threatening to send me to a military type school, because she was at her wit’s end. Maybe the youth of today aren’t much different than they have ever been.

In fact, if you read the Bible, you soon understand the whole human race is in rebellion against God, and has been almost from the beginning. Early in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and it continues today.

In the time of Noah, God described mankind as being all evil, all the time. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth in not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Praise be to God, for sending Jesus to die for our sins and restore our relationship with Him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sin is a word that isn’t used much these days, but it needs to make a comeback and people need to understand what it means. After all, it is the root cause of all that is wrong with our world. Without an understanding of sin, it is impossible to sort out the good from the bad, the wrong from the right, and finally, to see that the solution to the problem is Jesus Christ.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Little Towns on Back Roads

Happy Labor Day. It was just four years ago that we moved our house to Lake Ericson. How time flies, it seems like yesterday.

Last Monday, we drove home from our weekend in Hershey, Nebraska. We traveled down Highway 30, instead of the Interstate. It was kind of a relaxing drive compared to good old I-80. As I mentioned last week, we had a great time meeting new friends and sharing the music and message. On our return trip, we drove through some towns that don’t get much traffic anymore, but people are living there who need to hear about Jesus.

According to the signs, and the billboards, every one of those little towns has one or more churches. I know that some of those churches are proclaiming God’s word as it is written, but I am also convinced that some are preaching a gospel that is not related to the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, the gospel being preached in many places, both large and small, has very little to do with salvation from sin and its penalty. It seems I keep returning to this topic much more than I would prefer, but I know I will be held responsible to God for failing to proclaim His truth. James had this to say to those who would teach. “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

I return to the letter written by Jude, to believers in one or more churches. He writes this: Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4).

Look around. Read that last sentence from Jude again. How many ‘churches’ do you know, whose leaders are leading in that direction? There are still godly men and women who are standing firm on the Word of God. Follow them, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

The True Word

It rained again, just when we were thinking it was time to water the lawn. If you have been battling wet weather while trying to harvest your hay, I understand the frustration. Been there, done that! Nevertheless, rain is always better than drought.

On a personal note, I went for a CT scan this week, to check on the aneurism that is on my aorta. Those results came back as ‘condition stable’, and I am to have another checkup in a year. This is good news, and one more thing I am thankful for. Also, we had a brief visit from my brother and sister-in-law from Colorado on Friday. It’s always good to see them, if even just for lunch.

If there is one thing that disturbs me as a preacher, it is when someone passes along so-called spiritual advice that is not in the Bible. You may call it false teaching, misinformation, or borderline heresy. This is especially troubling when the “information” is disheartening to the individual to whom it is directed.

There are those who would have us to believe that Christians who die do not go to be in the presence of the Lord at their death, and must wait in the grave for the Lord’s return at some future time. Folks, this is a lie, and there is judgment ahead for those who teach these things. The Bible does have something to say about this.

On the cross, the dying thief asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). This does not indicate waiting in the grave for an unspecified time.

“The apostle Paul wrote, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). In Philippians 1:23 he expressed his “desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.” Those statements teach that believers go directly into the Lord’s presence at death.” [MacArthur New Testament Commentary].

I am again reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy… “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine… They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Friends, that time is here. Be encouraged. God’s Word is true.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Destinations

Hello friends,
We took another trip with the camper this week. As usual, it turned into another adventure on the less traveled road. We left last Sunday afternoon, not knowing for sure where we were going, or which road to take. We headed west out of Ericson, and had not gone far when the decision was made to go west of Taylor to Dunning, then take highway 2 to Thedford, where we stayed the night. Monday morning, it was on the road again, destination Crawford and Fort Robinson. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent just taking in the sights at the fort, with a side trip to check out Chadron State Park. Wednesday morning, we headed east on Highway 20, had lunch in Ainsworth with an old friend, and decided to overnight at Keller Park, northeast of Ainsworth.

Going there, once again I trusted my phone to show me a different route. This was not the road less traveled, it was the road seldom traveled! It became a narrow trail down a section line, leading to nowhere. Here is a tip: Off-road travel with a fifth-wheel camper is not a recommended activity. After abandoning Google Maps, we eventually made it to the highway, and the state park. We enjoyed a quiet evening and night, arriving back home in late afternoon Thursday. I’m sure we’ll be content to stay home for a while.

On a more somber note, we have seen in the last few days and weeks, the passing away of a cousin of Milrae’s, and several old friends and neighbors from home. I am reminded almost daily that we have no guarantee of another day, and of the fact that we need to make plans for eternity.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). At the end of the book we read, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Today is the day of salvation. Do not delay. Trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

On Freedom

The 2018 fireworks display at Lake Ericson was held Saturday evening, and ended in a rain storm. The early date was necessary due to availability of qualified persons. There were a lot of families who enjoyed the weekend at the lake, even though it wasn’t a holiday. Independence Day falls on Wednesday this year, but we should be able to celebrate this country’s independence every day. There are those who criticize her, and want to make harmful changes to our constitution, but America is still the greatest nation on earth, bar none.

Perhaps our greatest responsibility as citizens of this country, is to first of all, thank God for his blessings through the years, followed by prayers for the future of the United States of America. After all, if not for His guidance and protection in the past, this nation might never have been created.

There is another freedom for which we owe God our allegiance. He sent His Son to die for our sins, and in response to his offer of salvation, we are set free from the bondage of sin. True freedom in the spiritual sense means not only are we free from the penalty of sin, we are set free from the guilt that results from disobeying Him.

In him (Jesus) and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 1:12). Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Finally, in these verses, we find instructions on how to live as citizens in a country, under God’s direction: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king (president), as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:13-16).

Happy Independence Day,
Pastor Jerry

Read the Book

I guess it is monsoon season again. I’m not sure how many days it has rained lately, but it has been several. Taken together, it amounts to something over three inches. Looking out my window, the scene is almost tropical. There will be no lack of grass to mow when the rain stops, and the sun comes out. An appropriate scripture would be Psalm 147:8; “He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.”

“I didn’t know that was in the Bible.” I have heard this statement from various people over the years, and I wonder how much time the person has actually spent reading it? In our current culture, there is an almost total lack of knowledge of scripture. I am reminded of an Old Testament passage from the book of Amos. Israel had rejected God’s words to the point they would hear his words no more. These are the words of the prophet, speaking for the Lord: “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

I wonder if this is could happen today, or has it already begun? More and more, it seems we are seeing what is described in Paul’s second letter to Timothy: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season… For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, the will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:66).

I believe it is time to wake up, and get back in touch with God. It’s not too late, but I wonder how much longer he will allow this to continue?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry