Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

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

CHOICES

The forecast for today (Monday) is for windy, with some snow showers. The good news? Sunshine is predicted for most of the rest of the week. I’ll be one of many who will be glad to see the sun again.
Our Sunday school lesson this week is the starting point for us today. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” What was Jesus talking about when He was comparing the narrow to the wide?
He was speaking of a choice we each must make. Narrow road or wide road. The easy way or the hard way. It is the choice between spending eternity with Him, or spending eternity separated from Him. The narrow road means there is one way to God. In John 14:6, Jesus makes this statement: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We are seeing that the narrow way is unpopular. It is called narrow minded, but the rewards at the end of this path are heaven and eternal reward.
This contrasts the popular wide, easy road that leads to destruction, and that so many people are choosing today. It offers temporary, worldly reward and satisfaction, but in the end, it leads to condemnation and an eternity in hell.
We all make choices every day. These choices range from what shall we eat or wear, what college will I attend, or to what political candidate will I support? The most important choice we make in life, I believe, is whether or not to follow Jesus Christ. You see the answer to that question is of eternal significance, whereas all the others are simply temporary.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).
This is a topic I visit from time to time. It is because I believe it to be of utmost importance. Delay in making the decision to follow Christ may result in a person being too late. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation.
In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Going Home

I’m writing this morning from Livermore, Colorado. We have had a good visit with friends, and later today, we will visit my brother and sister-in-law further down the road. We hope to return to Ericson Tuesday or Wednesday. That will depend on the weather, and it sounds as if Tuesday might be the day to head back home.

Thinking of going home, early this morning I was remembering a time several years ago when a cow of ours somehow got across the fence, and into an adjoining pasture. I didn’t know she was gone until the next morning when she was standing on the wrong side of the fence, wanting to get back into her home territory.

Knowing a little about bovine behavior, I figured she wasn’t welcome in the other group of cows, and she decided home wasn’t too bad. (I’m not too sure cows make too many conscious decisions, but who knows?)

Scripture reminds us Christians that we are aliens and strangers in a foreign land. One version of the Bible calls us strangers and temporary residents. We are in this world, but our true home is heaven. Many times, we don’t feel welcome in our world, and long for our heavenly home. The difference between us and a stray cow is that we are placed in this world by the Lord, and he expects us to remain here and influence our world on his behalf until he calls us home.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, told of his desire to go to be with the Lord. He wrote, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:23-24). His desire was to be in heaven, but he also knew the Lord wanted him to stay in this world until his work for the Lord was completed.

At times the world around us seems to be moving further away from any notion of a sovereign God, and we, like Paul, sometimes desire to be at home with the Lord, but again, he has left us here to be salt and light to a dark world. And, when our work here is done, rest assured, he will take us to that home he has promised us.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Campground Meditations

Work is nearing completion on the addition to the house. Our attention will turn now to finishing the landscaping and some interior projects. I hope this means we will begin to really enjoy our surroundings and spend time getting to know our neighbors better.

Today I want to share some thoughts from time spent in a secluded campsite. As I sat enjoying the quiet early morning, it came to me than only in the country, with a setting of grass, trees, and water do we get back to the pure, uncontaminated world that the Creator desired. It doesn’t matter if the water is a stream, a lake, or the ocean. There is a little plaque on our wall at the lake house that says, “Heaven is a little closer by the water”, and I think it is true.

Almost any other place we visit shows more of sins corrupting influence on nature and mankind. This is part of why it seems right to just get away. In doing this, we perhaps sense the nearness of God in a much more real, dare I say intimate way. To come apart, as it were, from the distractions of being in the city, at the office, or even in a crowd of people anywhere. I believe a certain amount of intentional solitude is good for body and soul, much more than most people realize.

Jesus often went away by himself to pray, as we see in the following verses. “After he had dismissed them (the crowd of people), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23). “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). I wonder if those lonely places might have been by a stream or mountain lake.

Then this: When many people were coming and going, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32).

The advice He gave his disciples is perhaps even more important to us today, in this high speed, high pressure environment. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” May you find that quiet place this week.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Yearning for His Returning

This is the time of the year when the Church observes Advent. It is a time to count down the days to Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In His coming, He identified himself with those he came to save. He also has promised in His word to return someday for those who are His.

As we count down to Christmas, the young and the young-at-heart will be anxiously looking forward to the season and the gift giving (and receiving). In the Bible we see that God’s people, Israel, also looked for and anticipated the promised Messiah, who was to be born in Bethlehem. In the New Testament book of Luke, we read of a man name Simeon, who was looking for the Promised One.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation (Savior) of Israel…Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he took him in his arms and praised God. (Luke 2:25-28).

In the New Testament, the writers spoke of eagerly anticipating the second coming of the Lord Jesus. We, also, are told to expect His return at some future time. The apostle Paul speaks of those who “long for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). In another letter, Paul reminds us to live holy lives, “while we wait for “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

My question this week is this: Are you eagerly anticipating the return of the Lord? Are you ready for Him to come? How are you preparing?

Those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord will be living a godly life as they look forward to His eventual return. In the midst of trial or blessing, they can say with the apostle John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Are you yearning for His returning?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Life’s End: Who Decides?

Good Monday,
Well, it could be warmer, but still it’s a good day. Monday gets a bad rap, but I’ve never found it to be any more challenging than any other day of the week.

Deer hunting season is underway, and from what I’ve seen, it is mostly hunting at this point.

Turning to a more serious line of thinking, a couple of weeks ago, there was much in the news about a young woman in Oregon, named Brittany Maynard, who was planning to end her own life by way of “assisted suicide.” She had been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer, and wished to die “on her own terms.” Today, I would like to share some thoughts on this from a Christian world-view.

We should never presume to know more than God when it comes to the length of our lives and the time of the end for us as individuals. He alone should be the final judge of when we die. When a person takes his life by suicide, he is taking on a responsibility that is God’s alone.

From the Christian world-view, death is the enemy. Death is not our friend. We are not to seek death as an escape. It has been said if we want to go to heaven to escape this life, we are wanting to go for the wrong reason. God tells his people to choose life over death (Deuteronomy 30:19).

The right to give life and to take it away is a right reserved for God by Himself (Job 1:21). We are told that we will have trials in this life, but nowhere do we see that we are to seek an early exit from life (James 1:24). Moses, Elijah, Job, and Jonah each asked God to take their lives, but in every case, God refused. The apostle Paul longed to be in heaven, but was content to remain alive, waiting for God to act in His own time.

Finally, we do not know how God might use us for His good purpose in our last days. Intentionally taking our life will definitely interrupt God’s plan for us. When we reach the God-ordained end of our lives as His faithful followers, He is pleased. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

God has numbered our days. He doesn’t make mistakes.

Trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry