Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

Reflecting on the Journey

Hello friends,
I have come to the realization that as I compose and send these articles out each week, I am using both old and new methods of communication. On the one hand there is the magic of the internet, but on the other is the time tested print media. When this thing called Lake City News began, it was a simple way to connect with a few family and friends. Email was the chosen method in the beginning, but eventually, it became a weekly column in three local newspapers under the title of “Pastor’s Corner”.

Today, in addition to those emails and newspapers, there is a blog called ‘sandhillspastor.com’, with links to Facebook and Twitter. To this day, I am amazed at the platform God has given me to share His good news with all who read these articles, wherever they appear. Also, thanks to all who have encouraged me to continue. As mentioned in another article, this month marks the twentieth anniversary of this ministry.

Most of us entered adulthood with some idea of how our lives would play out. I am reminded of these words; “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” {Proverbs 16:9). As I look back, I see that God had a plan for me unlike anything I envisioned. I grew up on a ranch, and when I finished high school, I informed my dad there had to be a better way to make a living. Guess what? God took me in a big circle that involved working on ranches around the Sandhills, ending up in 1972 back at the home place. We were there 40 years, until we retired from ranching.

In 1982, after a few years of attending a little church down the road from our place, God impressed upon me the need for Jesus in my life. On a Sunday morning in March of that year, I asked Jesus into my heart. If you knew all the details, you would probably ask how this cowboy/rancher ended up to be the pastor of a little church in the Sandhills?

The simple answer is this; it can only be the Holy Spirit of God working in the heart of a man. As someone has said, no one knows what God can do with a man who will commit to follow His leading.

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry

High Water

Dear friends,
It is obvious the rains have not stopped for some of our friends in other places. As I read of roads made impassable by heavy rains, and people marooned on their property, surrounded by water, I pray this will pass soon. The 2019 spring and summer seasons have tried the patience and perseverance of many. Having experienced some abnormally wet seasons on the ranch, I understand. It is not a fun situation by any measure. It reminds us of the fact that as much as mankind has learned, we still do not know how to control the weather.

In times of excessive rain there are always those who suggest the need to build an ark, as in the Old Testament story of Noah and the command of God to build one. The flood that God was going to bring upon the earth was judgment for the rampant sin and ungodliness of the time. Only Noah and his family would be spared. Just as God said, when the ark was completed, and the animals and Noah’s family were safely on board, the earth was flooded, and all remaining life destroyed. After the waters had receded, God made a covenant with Noah.

“This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life” (Genesis 9:12-15).

We are living in a time when sin and ungodliness seem to increase daily. Peter reminds us that God will again judge the earth, but not with a flood. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything will be laid bare.” Then the question; Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” And, the answer; “You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:10-11).

Standing on His promises,
Pastor Jerry

It’s Not Too Late

Dear friends,
Once again we have celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Once again we have been reminded that 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, and whoever believes in him is not condemned (John 3:16,18).

This week, I have an appointment with my tax preparer. The deadline is near for filing taxes, in fact, it is just two weeks away. When we were on the ranch, we had to file before March 15, now it is April 15. I have always been a procrastinator when it comes to getting this done. However, procrastination must come to an end. The IRS will not overlook a late response.

One deadline looms for all people. That is the day of our physical death. It is a day when there will be no more opportunity to receive God’s gift of salvation. There will be no opportunity to make the right choice after that time. There are no second chances. If you miss the deadline for file your taxes, it is possible to get an extension. Not so when dealing with your eternal destination. We are reminded in scripture that man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27).

Like the IRS, God will not overlook a late response. We must make a choice while we are still living, there will be no second chance, nor will there be an extension. And since no one knows his time, it is better to choose Christ now, as we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
Jesus told of a group of ten young women waiting for a wedding celebration to begin. Five of them had prepared for the party, but the other five left to get oil for their lamps. While they were gone, the bridegroom returned, the party started, and those who were off buying lamp oil missed the celebration (Matthew 25:1-12).

Tomorrow may never come. God, in his grace gives us time and opportunity to believe in the Savior, but there will come a time it is too late. Don’t play with procrastination. Today is the day of salvation. Trust in Him today.

Pray this: Lord Jesus, I confess my sins and ask you to forgive me. Come into my heart and save me today. Amen

In truth and love,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Wait

Hello friends,
Finally, we have seen some warmer weather. It was followed by a really big storm. Chalk up one for the weather man.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw my dermatologist for a 6-month checkup. She thought a spot on my arm needed attention, and a biopsy showed some cancer cells. This week, I returned for surgery to remove more tissue. Now I’m wearing stitches in my arm. Hopefully this is the end of it.

Much of what we see in the news provides material for commentary. In fact, I could probably write more than one article a week, if I so desired. This week has been no different.

A week ago now, there was a false alarm in Hawaii about a missile attack. We can glean at least two important lessons from this incident.

First, we are reminded that our lives could end without warning, or at least on short notice. I’m sure we have been reminded of this many times, but how often do we actually think about the possibility? What preparations have we made for our families to continue on after we’re gone?

The second point, is that millions of people have disregarded the most important warning of all. That warning has eternal significance for all people. Jesus is going to return and judge the world. Those who know him as Savior and Lord will go with him to glory, and those who have rejected him go to eternal damnation. I know there were times in my own life, when God gave me another opportunity to trust in Jesus Christ for my salvation. In His grace, I eventually made the right choice.

I know of at least two instances recently, where individuals have been close to death, and recovered. To my knowledge, neither one has any personal relationship with the Lord, nor have they shown any inclination to place their faith in the Lord Jesus. This is sad.

Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Scripture also reminds us that it is appointed to man, once to die, and after that the judgment. We are also told, “today is the day of salvation.” This is not a false alarm. It is truth. Tomorrow may not come. Today is the day of salvation. Do not wait.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Answered Prayers

Dear friends,
My good wife and I have been dealing with colds this week and to be honest, I just haven’t felt like writing. I have this article I recently came across, and would like to share it with you.

God hears and answers every prayer, but there are a precious few to which he always says, “Yes.” The prayers always answered positively are the prayers which explicitly ask God to deliver on his promises to us. God will always say Yes when we ask him to do his work through his word.
I have found at least six basic prayers God will always answer.
1. Glorify yourself through me.
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

2. Forgive me.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
3. Reveal more of yourself to me.

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 31:33–34).

4. Give me wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).

5. Strengthen me to obey you.
As you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure(Philippians 2:12–13).

6. Spread your gospel to the lost.
This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
How do we know God will answer these six prayers? Because he says he will in the first place, and then, even more, because these prayers sum up what God has promised to do through the gospel. This is what God has said he would most surely do.

Be blessed,
Pastor Jerry

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

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