Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

Heading Home

Hello friends,
We made it back home from our last camping adventure. I saw the doctor on Monday, and he told me to come back in six months for a scan. If it looks okay, then I will get annual check-ups. We enjoyed the time away, but coming home is sometimes the best part of the journey. Thinking of coming home reminds me that for Christians, we are just passing through this world on our way to heaven, our eternal home.

God’s people, in various scriptures and Bible translations have been called strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1), temporary residents (Hebrews 11:13), strangers and exiles / aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11).

As God’s people, we are traveling through life as strangers in a foreign land. We don’t belong here, because our true home is at the end of the journey. God has placed each one of us where we are, but this is not our final home. The writer of Hebrews likened this life to a race. “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnare us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1). There is a goal in front of us, and we are not to be distracted by the things going on around us, but to focus on the finish line.

I pray we can say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).

In the last two chapters of Revelation, the apostle John describes what he called the new Jerusalem, along with a new heaven and a new earth. He tried to describe what cannot be described in human terms.

We must not become so familiar with the world and its ways that we lose sight of our heavenly destination. There are blessings along the way as we travel this road, but heaven will be so much more.
Going home to heaven is obviously going to be the best part of our life’s journey!

Just passing through,
Pastor Jerry

Going Up?

Hello friends,
I have been enjoying my visits to other churches, meeting new friends, and preaching God’s word. I find it amusing that not having taken speech class in high school, I have spent so many years speaking to groups of people on a weekly basis. One more proof that God equips those he calls to His work.

When attending our denomination’s annual meeting last month, we stayed in a two story hotel. As I age, I am less inclined to use stairs (that sounds strange). Anyway, since two of us had second floor rooms, we rode the elevator instead of using the stairs. On one of our elevator rides, I commented that it might be a preview of the rapture. My friend said, “I am sure it will be faster than this.”

The word rapture is not found in the Bible, but it refers to the return of the Lord Jesus in the air to gather his church. 1 Corinthians 15:52; “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (or died). For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Our hope, that is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead assures us of our place in heaven. The apostle Peter puts it this way; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Eternity Is Near to All

Dear friends,
November is under way. Don’t look now, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner, to be followed by another new year.

Once again, the news headlines remind us of the fragility of human life. Once again, we are reminded that we need always to be prepared to meet death. Once more, we are reminded as the Bible tells us, life is a vapor. Once more we see the urgency of making a decision to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.

A group of people told Jesus about a group of Galileans, brutally murdered by Pilate. His response may have taken them aback. His answer was, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no? But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you thing they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5).

There was widespread opinion in Jesus’ day, that such things happen only as punishment for specific sins. Jesus refuted this notion but nevertheless emphasized that every person must repent or else perish spiritually for eternity. To repent, means to agree with God that you are a sinful being, accept Christ as your Savior, and allow His Holy Spirit to bring about change in your life.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary states; “Jesus’ point was that being killed or not being killed is no measure of a person’s unrighteousness or righteousness. Anyone can be killed. Only God’s grace causes anyone to live. Death is the common denominator for everyone. Only repentance can bring life as people prepare to enter the kingdom.”

Again, His message was repent of your sins and receive His salvation through faith in Him, or you, too, will perish, meaning to spend eternity in hell.

So, in light of this, each person should examine themselves to determine if they have genuinely trusted Jesus for his or her salvation. We do not know when our time on earth is done, but we can have the assurance that when this life is over, our destination is heaven and an eternal home in the presence of God our Savior, through faith in His Son.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Home

Hello friends,
It’s raining as I write this. The rain gauge reads 1.80 inches at this moment, and more is forecast.

Yesterday, Sunday, we made the trip back to our old country church. It was a great day of catching up with old friends, and enjoying worshiping together again. It has been said you can’t go home, but I think you can go back for a visit now and then.

Speaking of home, as I look at the craziness in the world around us, I have to remind myself, as a Christian, that this is not my home. The scripture tells us our home is in heaven, and we are just strangers in a foreign land. In my song book, there are a number of songs that speak to this. You may recognize some of these titles: This World is Not My Home, Gone Home, Do Lord (I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land), just to name a very few.

The apostle Peter wrote to God’s elect, strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1). In chapter 2, verse 11, he refers to believers as ‘aliens and strangers in the world’. The then speaks of another home… “But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

In Hebrews, we read of those Old Testament saints; “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth… Instead they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

And that familiar passage in John’s gospel, as Jesus speaks to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

So, don’t be discouraged with what you see and hear these days. This is temporary. There is a better home ‘up yonder’. Invite Jesus into your heart today, and look forward to your Mansion Over the Hilltop.

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Thinking About Crowns

Hello all,
We enjoyed spending three nights at Hall County Park last week. The doctor appointments went well, with good reports. We spent some time shopping, visiting cousins, and just relaxing. It was a good time.

I made a trip to the dentist recently. Earlier, I had a checkup, and discovered that I needed a crown. First came preparing the tooth, then the temporary crown was cemented in place. Two weeks later, I was back for my permanent crown. This started me thinking about crowns.

There are many types of crowns, from those worn by royalty, to figurative crowns, such as reaching the top of the corporate ladder, winning athletic contests, and so on. All of these crowns are temporary and fleeting.

The Bible speaks of various crowns that are given by the Lord to his faithful followers. There are several passages of scripture that describe and name these crowns.

The apostle Paul writes near the end of his life: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim 4:8).

James, in his letter to persecuted believers: ‘’Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

In the context of running a race, Paul says this: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:25). Also, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Peter also speaks of a crown that awaits the faithful Christian: “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).

The Lord Jesus, speaking to the church at Smyrna: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:12). Finally, to all who believe, Jesus says this: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

Anticipating,
Pastor Jerry

Seeing Him

The 4th annual fishing derby was held at Lake Ericson on Saturday. Except for some windy conditions, it was a good day, with some nice fish being caught.

Last week, we were thinking about having limited eyesight. I want to continue that thought today, but from a different perspective. Let’s think about that moment when we see Jesus in person for the first time.

The Bible teaches me the following truths.

Believers will see Him in his beauty. “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).
Isaiah tells the believing person, “Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33:17).

I will see Him in person. Job said this concerning God: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me” (Job 19:25-27)!

When we who believe see Him, we will be like Him.
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Everyone will see Him
From Revelation 1:7; Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

Glory and praise will be His
Psalm 72:19… Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.
Psalm 86:9… All the nations You have made will come and worship before You, O Lord; they will bring glory to Your name.
Psalm 97:6… The heavens proclaim His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.
Psalm 102: 15… The nations will fear the name of the Lord; all the kings of the earth will revere Your glory.

Proclaiming Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Knowing Jesus

Wow! The last few days have been very spring-like, and the ice is gone from the lake. I hope you have been able to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures. Large numbers of geese have been passing overhead, their v-shaped flight pointing to the north. However, my weather app is showing a change in the works, with a forecast of significant rain, snow and wind. Oh, well, it is still February in Nebraska. We should know it can’t actually be spring yet, although it is coming.

Someone posted this statement recently on Facebook: “Knowing me and knowing of me are two totally different things. Don’t confuse the two.” I believe he was posting from a personal viewpoint, but more importantly, this statement also has a spiritual application.

It is not enough to know of Jesus, it is of great eternal significance that we know him intimately and personally.

We may have knowledge of a person, but until we spend personal one-on-one time with them, we will never really know who they are. What husband or wife could possibly know anything about their spouse without spending much time together?

When Jesus called his 12 disciples, he didn’t call them to follow, and then say, “I’ll see you in a couple of years.” When He called them, they dropped what they were doing, and spent the next three years in constant fellowship with Him.

It is not enough to know about Jesus, the devil and his demons recognize Jesus as God’s Son, but they do not think they have to obey Him. Just believing is not enough. Faith is more than belief. By faith, you accept what Jesus has done for you, receive him as the only one who can save you from sin, and live your faith by obeying his commands. It is called having a personal relationship with Him.

There are lots of people today who talk about Jesus and assume they are going to heaven, but they have no intimate knowledge of him. No one goes to heaven because they know of Jesus. Scripture is quite clear that one must confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, in order to gain entrance to God’s heaven. There is no other name by which we can be saved. Period. Do not be confused. Every day someone dies without Jesus. Please don’t be one of them.

Sincerely,
Pastor Jerry

Appointment With God

The Super Bowl is over, and no matter which team you supported, you have to admit it was an exciting game. I can’t say I had a real favorite, none of my teams made it that far. Now, I must wait for baseball season.

Friday, I visited the dermatologist for my semi-annual checkup, and a strange thing happened. After I had filled out the mandatory paperwork, I sat down to wait (that’s why they are called waiting rooms). After while a lady appeared and called out “Jerry”. Three of us stood up. Apparently, we all had appointments at the same time. Now, I ask you, what are the odds of that happening? She had to go to last names to get the right Jerry.

This got me thinking about some scriptures that talk about the Lord calling his people. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them in also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 1:14-16).

Every person has an appointment with God, whether he believes in Him, or not. “Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

As the old song says; “When the Savior calls, I will answer. I’ll be somewhere listening for my name.” Will you be listening, too?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Lesson From a Turtle

The fishing report has improved again. Last week I mentioned catching some fish. I went once this week, but came home with 2 northern pike in the 3 to 4-pound range. They were very tasty, and I see more fishing in the future.

Here is something fun. Search Google Maps for “Grace Bible Church, Loup City, Nebraska. There is a view of the congregation standing in a circle praying for their new church building, just as the satellite passed overhead. God is good!

Now This: One morning recently, I watched a small turtle come from my neighbor’s lawn, cross the street and make its way down the boat ramp to the lake, never turning to the left or to the right. This reminds me of those faithful believers, who plod along their way, focused on the goal, the salvation of their souls.

Hebrews 11:1-2… Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

“Though you have not seen him, you love him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2).

We may say with the apostle Paul, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the goodness of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Pressing on,
Pastor Jerry

Storing Up Treasures

Hello everyone,
Happy Leap Day! I have really enjoyed the warm temperatures of the weekend. I guess Spring is officially a few weeks away, but I am enjoying the preview.

The “move” is slowly progressing. I knew we had a lot of “stuff”, having kept as many as three houses furnished over the last 15 or so years. What I didn’t know, was the actual size of the collection. What really concerns me, is we haven’t even started on my stuff!

There is a reason Jesus reminded his listeners they were to store up treasures in heaven, instead of here on earth. These are His words: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

None if these things we have collected will go with us to heaven. Obviously the food will be eaten at some point (unless the moths get it), and the clothing will wear out (or be outgrown). There are charities that will take the surplus clothing. We don’t plan on having thieves break in, but there is a good possibility we may call in an auction company to help disperse the excess.

As we make these decisions—what do we keep and what do we throw away; what do we pass on to others? —another scripture comes to mind. In it, Jesus speaks to the issue of worry. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, and what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?… And why do you worry about clothes? …so do not worry, ‘saying what shall we eat?’ or What shall we drink? …or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).

After reading this, maybe I’ll just go fishing! Have a great week.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry