Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category

On Updates

Dear readers,
Thursday, I went to Topeka, Kansas for a meeting. As I drove down highway 281, I saw power company workers stringing new wires along a line of new poles. This is being done to update the system in order to meet projected demands for electric power. Just last week our immediate area experienced a 6 hour outage, so work could be done on the new lines. It was a reminder how dependent we are on our electric system.

I believe we Christians, people who look to Jesus as our source of power for living, sometimes neglect our power source. By that, I mean we do not stay close to Him in our daily walk. It seems we get into maintenance mode, and just do the basics. We may attend church occasionally, or maybe think about reading a few verses of scripture now and then.

At our meeting Friday morning, we were challenged as pastors to update our technology, with a thought that neglecting those updates would be detrimental to our ministries. The idea is to keep current on ways to communicate the gospel to the people. There is a real danger of becoming stagnant and ineffective as God’s servants, if we neglect those periodic updates.

Have you been tapping your power source to its full potential? What about updating your relationship with the Lord? Have we slipped into maintenance mode? Has our connection to the church become a random post of a ‘religious’ sounding meme on Facebook?

Verses that come to mind include Hebrews 10:25. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”
“Come near to God and he will come near to you…” (James 4:8a).
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being” (Paul in Ephesians 3:16).
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father…encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

In our world of electronic communication, we need to stay updated. Why should it be any less important to update the connection to our Source of spiritual well-being?

Could it be time for a spiritual update? Do we need to get out of maintenance mode and rebuild that connection to our Father in heaven?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Spot Free Rinse

We have the new cabinets installed in the house. This is the beginning of a complete kitchen remodel. Now that the house is only a mile or two away, I hope to actually finish some of these projects. What a blessing it is not to have to drive 75 miles to enjoy our little “cabin”.

I will be leaving Monday to travel to Hutchinson, Kansas for the annual meeting of our two-state Baptist Convention. I’m looking forward to some inspirational messages and fellowship with old and new Christian friends. It is also good to be part of the process of determining the direction our convention will be take in the future. I’ll be returning home Wednesday in time for our men’s Bible study.
It is interesting how little things can sometimes provide a theme for a devotional thought. We were in a car wash last week, and when the wash cycle neared the end, the sign came on that said, “Spot Free Rinse.” I’ve seen that little phrase before, but this time it seemed to mean something other that the fact that the car would dry spot-free.
It reminded me of the cleansing that takes place in the heart and soul of a person who comes to faith in Christ. Let’s take a look at some verses that I found.
This is from Paul’s instructions to husbands, “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Regarding salvation, Paul wrote to Titus, “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
As Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, he told Peter, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean” (John 13:10). When someone is saved, his sins are forgiven; but when the believer does sin, he does not need to start over, he only has to do what is taught in 1 John 1:9–“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
A “spot free rinse!” Something we all can use from time to time.
Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Response to Persecution

Hello friends,
We are experiencing some fall-like temperatures lately. If nothing else, folks are reminded that winter is not too far away. There is a sense that we need to get busy finishing up those summer projects.

You are all aware of the events taking place around the world. Christians in other places are facing persecution and even death for their faith. Other people who are not Christian are being killed just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What are we to think of these things?

The Bible is clear that these things will be present in the world because of sin. Someday, the Lord will return and make everything right, but in the meantime, what are we to do?

I know there are those who think there is a political solution to everything that is going on, but the problems of the world will never be solved by political means. Politics cannot change the human heart, only God, working through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit can change the heart of man.

In Matthew, chapter 24, Jesus answered his disciples’ question concerning the end of time. Space does not allow me to quote it here, but you can read it in your Bible.

Persecution will come to the Christian. It is a fact. The apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). John wrote in his first letter, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13).

What is our response? Pray first of all for the enemies of God and His people. Pray for their salvation and for God’s Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and bring them to faith in the One True God. In the words of Jesus, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Then, pray for our leaders. Paul, writing to Timothy said this: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Praying for our enemies is not an easy thing to do, but I believe we must pray fervently and without ceasing for God to bring about the heart change they so desperately need.

Praying,
Pastor Jerry

Lake Meditations

The past week was busy, as usual. We started getting the house ready for its move, and I met with the house mover. He assured me the move would happen sometime this month. The weekend activities were many and varied, and we’re glad to start a new month and a new week.

I spent some quiet time out at the lake one morning last week, and here are some thoughts from my time there.

The view of creation reminded me that there is a Creator. The variety of colors and sizes of the trees around the lake reminded me that when we are rooted in the Lord, we are like trees planted by the water. (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

As I looked across at the carousel, I thought about how the old things remind us of our past,Then my gaze shifted to the new house foundation and was reminded of the future. There is nothing wrong with being aware of our past, and we make plans for the future here on earth, but it is more important to plan for where we will spend eternity.

The smooth water of the lake reflected the glory of God and his creation. “The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens” (Psalm 113:4).

The signs placed around the area warn of hazards and set boundaries for our protection, much as God’s word and his Law give warnings and limits for us.

The abundance of birds remind me of scripture that says He cares for the birds of the air, and He will most certainly care for me. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than birds” (Matthew 6:26)?

The cool breeze over the lake reminds me of the presence of the Holy Spirit. As the wind moves the water, so the Spirit moves the hearts of men.

The benches under the trees remind me of Jesus’ invitation to come to Him and find rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

On this day when we honor those who labor, I invite you to take some time to reflect on God and His Word. In Him we find true rest.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Moving On

The celebration of our nation’s independence is over for another year. Ericson’s parade, and the fireworks at Ericson Lake, were great this year. I have heard there may have been a record number of entries in the parade. It’s amazing what happens when people work together for a purpose.

We continue to prepare and plan for moving our house to the lake. We don’t expect any speedy progress, but it’s moving along. There will be many steps between the conception of the idea of moving the house, and having it placed on its new location. I will try to give you updates from time to time.

This reminds me of the Christian’s journey to spiritual maturity. It is a process and usually doesn’t happen overnight. However, if the desire to change is there, God will bring about that change.

The Bible tells us that when we are “born again”, there is a new spiritual birth. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus said “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” He then explains that he is talking about spiritual rebirth (John 3:1-8).
The person who is born again is called a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Following this, as with any newborn, growth should follow.
The writer of Hebrews stresses the idea of growing spiritually in this way: Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go one to maturity…” (Hebrews 6:1). We are also told it is a process “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of god and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
Moving a house isn’t a lot like the maturing of a Christian, but there is one similarity. At the end of its journey, the house will look the same on the outside, but it will be in a new place, with a new purpose, and with a new view.
The new believer looks the same on the outside, but a transformation has taken place through the working of the Holy Spirit of God. That person has a new relationship with God, a new outlook, and a new purpose in life.
Moved by Him,
Pastor Jerry

Out Of Tune?

The devotional thought for this week takes a more light-hearted turn. There will be time for more serious stuff next week.

A few weeks ago, I treated myself to the purchase of a new guitar. It is a basic acoustic model, but can be plugged into an amplifier. It also has a built in-tuner, which should allow me to keep it always in tune. If you know something about music, you know that instruments are tuned to a specific standard. In the instance of this guitar, the standard is built into the instrument.

Did you know God has given Christians a built in tuner? He is called the Holy Spirit, and He keeps God’s people in tune with His will. The Spirit is in tune with God’s standard, that is, his Living Word. When we as Christians get outside of God’s standard, the Spirit reminds us that we are “out of tune” with God, and brings us back. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

As a whole, when the body of believers, much like a collection of musical instruments, are in tune with God and with each other, beautiful music is made as we work together for God’s glory. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step (in tune) with the Spirit” Galatians 5:25).

In 1 Peter, 3:8, we read: Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

I’ll close with this thought; If you are not sure if you are in tune with God, read his Word. In it you will find everything you need to know about the standard he has set for his followers.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Weed Control

I was able to get back to finish spraying last week. The good news is the cost of repairs for the Arctic Cat were minimal. A guy needs a break once in awhile, and I thank the Lord for that blessing.

The weed spraying thing always brings to mind what the scriptures say concerning our battle with sin. In the case of this weed called Leafy Spurge, we probably will never see it eliminated, but with the properly applied herbicides, we can keep in under control.

It is very much the same when it comes to the temptation to sin. Temptation will always be with us, because our enemy, the devil, will not give up trying to ruin our witness for the Lord. However, properly applied, the Word of God will help us to keep him and sin under control.

Our weapons against the tempter are a working knowledge of the Bible, backed up by the work of the Holy Spirit, who not only gives us strength to resist the devils schemes, but he also defends us in the courts of heaven. “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).

Finally, I direct you to the following; It begins with this… “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…” (read Ephesians 6:10-18 for the full armor list).

The temptation to sin will always be with us, but God’s word tells us we have the tools to resist. The secret to control is to put these tools to use.

In His care,
Pastor Jerry

Loving God?

We are seeing signs of the changing seasons. Maybe the heat of summer is subsiding. After I had this thought, I noticed the five day forecast is for temperatures in the mid-nineties, and zero chances of rain. I must have read the signs wrong. Oh well, there have been a few cooler days lately, for which we are thankful.

In my message this week, based on Matthew 22:34-40, I asked this question: What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind? From the very beginning of God’s relationship with His people Israel, he commanded them to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5). In the Matthew passage, Jesus calls this the “greatest commandment.”

The answer to “what does it mean to love God in this way”, has a far deeper meaning than I suspect most people realize. I found the following in Adam Clarke’s Commentary, written around 1800. I will shorten his comments due to space limitations.

“The person who loves the Lord in this way is ready to give up, do, or suffer anything in order to please and glorify Him. He is ready to give up life, endure all sorts of torments, and to be deprived of all kinds of comforts rather than dishonor God. That person exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of God. He sacrifices his time, his body, and uses all his possessions for the honor of God. He applies himself to only know God and His holy will–having his mind continually fixed upon God.”

As I read Adam Clarke’s comments, I realized how far I am from this kind of love for God and for the Lord Jesus. I also realized that the only way we are to attain any measure of this kind of love, is by the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us. Will we let the Spirit begin to influence us to this extent?

I wonder,
Pastor Jerry

In The Spirit’s Power

Hi again,
It’s time for another weekly update. I’m trying to take a little time to “smell the roses”, but other important things keep popping up. I suppose I’ll catch a glimpse of the roses now and then. There may be some material from the archives in this letter over the next few weeks. I’ll try to keep from repeating myself too much.
Last week, I managed to get some of our noxious weeds sprayed. The wind blew hard enough to keep us from putting the boat on the lake, but we were able to get some fishing done from shore with some success. I also noticed the wood ticks are active. They keep trying to hitch a ride with me.
During those windy days at the lake, I spent a little time watching the birds fly around the place. It’s a pretty common sight in most places, but how often do we think about what is going on as they sail through the sky?
It’s not just the bird up there making its way in its own strength, there is an unseen force that allows that bird to fly. That force is air, or wind.
In somewhat the same way, God’s Holy Spirit, although unseen, lifts up the Christian and allows him or her to rise to spiritual heights that would be impossible otherwise.
Jesus compared the work of the Holy Spirit to the wind: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). We read in the Bible of the Holy Spirit moving people, and guiding them. The scriptures were written by men who were inspired by the Spirit to record the very words of God.
In the book of Acts, we read of the Spirit’s empowering of the apostles, allowing them to speak in other languages, in order to spread the Word among the people.
Although unseen, the Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin (John 16:8), and convinces them to seek God’s forgiveness, leading them to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit controls the believer and enables him to understand the words of the Bible. Paul writes, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12).
So, the next time you see an eagle or a hawk soaring above the earth, remember the invisible force that keeps them suspended in space, and may it remind you of the unseen power of the Holy Spirit, who enables Christian to “soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry