Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

Signs of Change

Hello friends,
Our latest camping trip is over. We had an enjoyable time with Alex and Amy, then drove to Pickstown, SD, where we spent three nights at North Point Recreation Area. Our campsite was almost at the edge of the lake. This was our first visit to the area, and we were impressed with the view. We may return in a couple of weeks, weather permitting.

As we traveled, we could see the signs of the changing seasons. Crops are drying down, in preparation for harvest, the leaves are changing to fall colors, and some trees are losing leaves. I have mentioned in previous writings that fall is right at the top of my favorite seasons. Sure, winter comes after autumn, but following that is spring, with all the signs of new life.

Turning this discussion to spiritual matters, the Bible tells us people who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior, will show signs of new life.

A Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Jesus a question regarding God’s kingdom. Jesus answered in this way: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus was shocked at this statement and asked, “how can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus’ answer was basically this; The new birth speaks of being spiritually reborn. This rebirth is possible only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-8). “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).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

A favorite verse of mine is 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We are told to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-23).

Have you experienced the new birth? Are there signs of new life in your thoughts and actions?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

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

Standing on the Rock of Ages

Hello friends,
Summer is officially here. Independence Day has been celebrated, and we look forward to what the future holds. On a personal note, I will be having a procedure on Tuesday (the 7th), to repair an aneurysm on my aorta. I have known about it for almost five years, and the doctor says it is time to get it done. I should be back home on Wednesday, if all goes well. Prayers will be appreciated.

The residents of Lake Ericson and all its visitors were treated to a grand fireworks display July 3rd. Some of the family displays were impressive, as well. Thanks to all who contributed.

As I think of the ways in which people are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am reminded of 1999, when all the news was about Y2K. There were all kinds of rumors about computers shutting down, expected shortages of all kinds of services, due to predicted issues with communications and utility interruptions. People were stockpiling all kinds of goods (toilet paper was one). Many of you still remember those days.

At one point in discussing the situation with the leaders of our little church at home, I made this observation; It is okay to be aware of the situation, but doesn’t the Bible indicate that the Lord will provide for His people? Over and over, He tells us not to worry, to cast our cares on Him, and most importantly, that his people will live by faith.

Here are some words of encouragement from the Lord:
“I life up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3-4).

In this time of uncertainty, let’s not throw caution to the wind, but be sensible, trusting in the Lord and His promises. And, wouldn’t this be a great time to share Jesus with friends and family? Be encouraged. He lives!

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Worry

Hello all,
Another week has gone by, and another month is almost gone. Soon we will be half-way through 2020. It has been an interesting year, for sure. Someone suggested we put up our Christmas trees and call an end to 2020. I’m not sure it would work, but I understand the sentiment.

These are troubled times in our country, and in the bigger picture, around the world. This is really nothing new, but perhaps on a bigger scale than we have seen for some time. Troubled times come and go, and rest assured, our God is not surprised by any of it. I am convinced that much of this unrest comes from the fact that we, as a people, have gotten so far from God. Very few care for anyone but themselves, and many care very little about the other guy.

I have to keep returning to the scriptures for reassurance and encouragement. We tend to worry about these things, but the Lord has told us not to worry. Faith will carry us through these difficult times, but no one has ever said it is easy. When Jesus came walking on the water, as the disciple were in the storm, Peter stepped out of the boat, but as he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-31). I think we are in that kind of situation currently, but let us keep focused on the Savior, instead of the storm around us.

His words to the disciples were, and are; “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of the is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:6-7).

One of Jesus’ most direct teaching on worry is this: “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26).

Standing on the promises of God,
Pastor Jerry

The Source of Real Peace

Dear friends,
In the past, we talked about the weather and asked, ‘how is the family’? These days, the question is, “are you staying well?” I trust everyone who reads this is well, and making the best of our current circumstances. There are days when, as a friend of mine remarked several years ago, it seems “the world has gone mad!” With the pandemic, and now the protests, rioting and looting, it seems that insanity rules in the minds of many. We must pray for calm heads to prevail, and for people to see that the current state of mind will not solve anything. We must pray that all people would know Christ.

We ask for peace in our country, and we need that peace. The problem is that the peace offered by the world is not true peace, nor is it lasting. Only by having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, can we know real peace. Jesus, as he spoke to His disciples said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). As he prepared them for His departure, and to encourage them in the days to come, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Paul, writing to the church at Philippi said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

These are unsettled times. In the time of Jesus and His disciples, things were unsettled. Persecution came upon the early Christians, such as we in America have not seen. Their faith in Christ gave them peace in their hearts, and the hope of eternity.

As we seek peace in our time, may we make peace with God by trusting His Son for our salvation. Remember, without Jesus in our hearts, we are enemies of God. Scripture says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:21).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

Dear friends,
It is still spring; summer comes in June. Spring weather is my favorite season, followed by fall. Summer is okay, winter, not so much. We are enjoying getting out in the yard. Mowing isn’t a chore yet, and planting flowers and garden are good therapy. Speaking of therapy, I found out that pushing a lawn mower may be good cardiac exercise. Just a little of it increased my heart rate to 114 bpm. Update: We experienced wind and rain Saturday night, resulting in more than an inch of rain and some pretty impressive straight winds.

I’m writing this on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, meditating on the observation of Memorial Day. We remember those who have given their lives in defense of our country and our freedoms. For many of us, it is also a time to remember family and friends who have gone on before.

It can be a time to reflect on the kinds of memories we well leave for those who will survive us. What kind of life did we live? What values will we pass on to our children and grandchildren? The writer of Hebrews mentions a great cloud of witnesses, those who died believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Will we be counted in that group of saints?

Here is the passage from Hebrews: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangle, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Our Lord left us an example to follow in the life he lived, and a memorial to his life in the Lord’s Supper, which we celebrate in our Christian fellowships. His words after breaking the bread were and are, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this… in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

Lest we forget.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

Reaching Out

Dear friends,
I trust everyone is looking forward to the time we can begin some semblance of the life we once knew. I know I am. I’m sure there is light at the end of this tunnel, but at this point it is rather dim. Sunday church services held on Facebook, or by way of Zoom and other electronic media is okay, but there is nothing like worshiping together in person. Period.

“Reaching Out” is one of the culture’s new catch-phrases. Originally, it seems to have been used as the description for extending a helping hand to someone in need. Today, it is used more often to describe trying to get something from someone, as in, “Our reporter tried to reach out to the attorney, but her calls were not returned.”

In this season of trial that is known as the Covid19 pandemic, I would like us to consider this idea of reaching out, from a biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel was given this message from God; “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays” (Ezekiel 34:15-16a).

In the New Testament, we have the words of Jesus; “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). This is God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, reaching out to all who are lost in sin with a message of salvation. The Lord is reaching out to lost people today. This is his invitation from Matthew 11:28… “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

If, in this stressful time, you are feeling helpless, burdened down with your troubles, and in bondage to sin, you can reach for his outstretched hand and he will lift you up into his loving arms. I’m drawn to a verse from the pen of David, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:10). Here is another, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

I leave you with this thought; For peace of mind in these troubled times, reach out to Jesus, He is reaching out to you.

In His amazing grace,
Pastor Jerry

Be Encouraged

Hello friends,
Another week has passed. We are experiencing typical March weather. It is a time of transition, and nature seems unable to decide. I am sure from past springs, that this will eventually bring about green grass and flowers if we are patient.

The Covid19 saga continues this week. Most of my pastor friends addressed the Christian response to this in their Sunday sermons. Thank God that we have the means to connect through technology, so that churches can meet in spirit, if not in person.

If you spend much time with social media, you will certainly be discouraged. My answer to this confusion is to go to the Word of God for truth and encouragement.

First of all, let us not forget that God is on His throne, He is still in control. “In the beginning God”, is how the Bible story begins. Read Genesis 1:1. In Colossians we are told that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).

You may be asking; did God create this virus? Scripture tells us because of Adam’s sin in the garden, the creation has been corrupted. “To Adam, God said, “cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18). This virus, along with all other plagues and pestilence, and natural disasters is evidence of this curse. Someday God will make it all right.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:4-5).

The Bible describes a time when God will bring a new heaven and earth; “No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3ff).

Be encouraged, God’s people have hope.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Fear Not

Hello friends,
It has been an interesting week, to say the least. On a personal note, I saw the cardiac surgeon for a checkup. He says everything looks good, and to continue rehab. The weather continues to follow the pattern we have come to expect for the month of March.

Our topic for the week will be the Covid19 virus. A lot of people have written on this topic, but all have different platforms and different readers. So, here are my thoughts on the virus pandemic, and what our response should be from a biblical perspective.

As Christians, our view of this should be one of dependence on God’s word and His promises. Along with that, we must point people to Jesus. In the face of uncertainty, our message is that He is the One in whom we trust, not just for here and now, but for eternity.

Jesus had these words for those concerned with the future as recorded in Luke’s gospel. “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). He has more to say beginning in verse 22; “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (verses 22-26).

The promise of God is that those who trust Jesus for their eternal salvation will never be taken from Him. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, (including viruses), will be able separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). Salvation is found in no one else, not governments, scientists, or political leaders.

Trusting Him completely,
Pastor Jerry