Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

Looking Ahead

Dear readers,

Well, here we are at the beginning of a new year. 2022 came in a bit cold and snowy at our place, but we didn’t have plans to go out, so we stayed warm. I went to bed at my usual time, but my lady made it past midnight. I woke up enough to wish her a Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year causes me to reflect on the events of the past 365 days. Each time, there are good things that come to mind, and a fair share of negative memories. The Bible tells us to forget the past and look to the future, and this is good advice. However, I do believe it is constructive to review those not-so-good experiences with the goal of learning from them. The apostle’s point is to not dwell on the past. In his words, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

As we look back, it is beneficial to see how the Lord has used both our positive and negative experiences to strengthen our faith and our dependence on His guidance. We are in a time when it seems there is more than our share of difficulties. I think of the pandemic, and the suffering that has brought. We see broken relationships that are affecting many individuals and families. Some have financial setbacks, and others experience suffering in the area of personal health. Also, we are seeing increased persecution of Christians around the world and here in America.

In light of all of this, the apostle Paul wrote, “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. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Peter reminds us that trials have come “so that your faith… may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed… for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9).

In Him

Pastor Jerry

Missing Jesus?

Dear friends,
I trust your Christmas celebration was a time of reflection on the Savior, along with fellowship of family and friends. Yet for some, it was also a time of sorrow because of loved ones lost in the past year. Thank God for Jesus, through whom we have been promised eternal life. Because of that we who believe will have a great glad reunion in heaven someday. This is our great hope.

Sometimes we feel that we are distanced from Jesus. He is not lost, but we have allowed ourselves to be distracted. This results in the feeling that he is missing in our life.

In Luke’s gospel we read this episode from the life of Jesus; Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming he was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days, they found him in the temple… (Luke 2:41-46a).

Lessons for us in this story; His parents were distracted by preparations to return home. He slipped away to be about his Father’s business. We, also, need to be careful not to lose sight of Jesus.

People make mistakes when they discover Jesus is missing. They press on down the path they are on, assuming he will meet them somewhere along the way. Usually, we have gotten ahead of him and his plan. I have heard it said, “if it seems Jesus is further from you than he was, guess who moved?”

When we discover Christ is missing in our lives, we must turn back to the place we last knew of his presence. It may have been a few days, or even years, but we must go back.

To keep from losing Jesus, we must spend much time in His word. We must keep our eyes on him, communicate with him in prayer, and allow his Spirit to speak to us. As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. These are some things to keep in mind for 2022.

Have a blessed New Year,
Pastor Jerry

Celebrate Christmas

Dear friends,
Christmas lights and other reminders of the season have appeared almost overnight. Christmas themed music has begun to be played on the radio, and much advertising is directed toward Christmas shopping. In all this, I pray we don’t lose sight of the real Reason for the season. In the world we live in, we need Jesus as much as we have ever needed Him, if not more.

If we believe the Bible, and understand that we live in a sin-stained world, our priority should be to put Jesus first. The prophet wrote, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14).

This one to be called Immanuel would be born in Bethlehem as prophesied in Malachi. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2.

The angel Gabriel announced to Mary and Joseph that the son to be born would be the Messiah, the promised Savior. To Joseph he said, “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”) Matthew 1:21. To Mary, his message was,
“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32).

Paul wrote, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Jesus came to be the sacrifice that would pay the sin debt of the whole world, that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life. In Romans 6:23 it is written, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

At this time of the year, and in this Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of the Savior. It is an old, old story, but one of which we should never tire, or take for granted.

Thank God for Christmas!
Pastor Jerry

Turn to Jesus

Dear readers,
Gardening season has ended for 2021. Those freezing temps for two or three nights in a row were effective. It is a welcome break from the heat we have been experiencing. Afternoons have been pleasant, but I suspect colder highs are nearer than we would like.

If you are like me, some days just seem too much to bear. Are you worn down by worry or concern over your situation today? What is a person to do? The answer is found in God’s word. The scripture verse for today is Psalm 27:14. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Another Psalm tells us our help comes from Him. “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

It is an old, old story, but Jesus came to this earth to bring salvation to all people, and to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice that would pay our sin debt and give us eternal life. These are His words, “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my words and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Also, “For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

God says in Isaiah 45:22, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God and there is no other.” Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Here are comforting words from a favorite hymn:
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Solid Rock

Hello friends,
We made it home from our long weekend on Tuesday. It was a memorable time, as we reconnected with friends and neighbors from days gone by. From the pastor’s sermon, to the great meal, the music and conversation, it will be long remembered. At last report, there were about 200 in attendance. I pray God will continue to bless that congregation as they stand firm on the Word of God. They are truly a shining light in that community.

I am reminded of Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica, where he says, “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). To all the faithful little congregations out there in those out-of-the-way places, keep up the good work! God is building His kingdom through you.

In these unsettled times, it is easy for us to become discouraged. If I may, let me share some scripture.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121).

And, as the hymn says;
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Dear friends,

My trusty laptop has decided to take a vacation this week. I will be taking it to the repair shop Monday, but for now I’m using an older one that doesn’t have all the perks I’m used to. This will be a re-learning experience, I am sure. We managed to get a little rain last week. As usual, we didn’t get the amount we thought we needed, but we are thankful for every drop.

This month, I will have the blessing of sharing God’s word with three different churches. In light of the ongoing news from Afghanistan, I believe it is proper to share a thought or two from the message I am preaching.

It is no secret that the Taliban there in Afghanistan, and other places around the world, are bent on destroying Christianity. It is in their teaching that followers of Jesus Christ are to be killed, as well as anyone who doesn’t submit to their religion. The persecution of Christians in that part of the world is real, and it is going on now. However, the Bible tells us God is just and righteous, and He will have the final say.

The apostle Paul wrote this to the persecuted church in Thessalonica, “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering, God is just. He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling… We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12).

Look to Jesus,

Pastor Jerry

Perspective on Disaster

Dear readers,

There is not much new here this week. Summer seems to be winding down, and I notice the days getting shorter. For a time, I was waking up to early morning light, now I need to turn on the light in the morning. After procrastinating for a time, I power-washed the deck this week, and we have been busy applying a new coat of stain. Milrae mentioned that it seems harder than it was the last time we did it.

School will soon be starting, and in some cases has started for another year. As always, we pray for students and teachers. It seems there are more challenges each year to providing a good education, and one that will bring about the most benefit to the learners.

The news for Saturday told of an earthquake in Haiti. This is just one more disaster to hit that nation in recent times. We must pray for the people there, as they deal with all the destruction and loss of life. Once again, we are reminded that the forces of nature are at times deadly. We live in a broken world, and due to man’s sin in the Garden of Eden, it will remain broken until such time as God sees fit to restore His creation to its original design. As devastating as these disasters are, God is not taken by surprise, and He is still in control of His creation. As we look back on the events of history, let us remember that history, from beginning to end, is all about His Story!

Events like this should serve to remind us of the fragility of life, and the need for every person to place his or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We wonder what brought this on; is this a result of someone’s sin, or is God judging a nation or people with this disaster? In response to a question concerning some men who had died at the hand of Pilate, and some who died when a tower collapsed, Jesus replied, “Do you think they were more guilty than all others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5). His point is, rather than find fault with those who had died, they should be reminded of their own need to repent and be saved.

Jesus saves!

Pastor Jerry

What is Hope?

Dear friends,
There has been some spring planting going on here at our little slice of heaven. So far, we have enlarged one flower bed, planted some new shrubs, some flowers, and put a few tomato plants in the garden area. This is not my favorite kind of work, but it’s worth it to see the smile on my bride’s face when it is done. There are still some seeds to be planted in the raised beds, mostly beans and cucumbers. I did consent to one zucchini plant, which is a first for me. On a personal note, we also have one eggplant.

There seems to be an epidemic of hopelessness in our country. I don’t know if it is related to the stresses of the Covid19 pandemic, or a combination of causes, but I believe there is a solution to this attitude of hopelessness. Some might argue that there is no one answer to the problem, and they would probably be right. I can tell you from experience that placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go far toward combating the hopelessness that sometimes overwhelms our minds and bodies.

The idea of hope is often presented as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. True hope, as presented in the Bible, is a settled fact that something promised will come to pass. It can be described as trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Christians live in hope for two basic reasons. The first is because of what God has done in 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). The second reason is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).

Given the assurance of hope, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage. Christian hope is the gift of God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

From my own experience, I can testify to the truth of this hope we have in Christ Jesus. Christ is the answer to hopelessness, but sadly many people, particularly the young, haven’t heard of him. If you are feeling hopeless today, come to Jesus.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

He Is Risen

Dear friends,
We are enjoying some very spring-like weather. There is talk of a slight cooling ahead, but nothing extreme. Maybe one of these days I will get motivated to do a little fishing. I noticed yesterday the lawn will need mowing soon, so it’s time to get the mower serviced; now if I can just remember where I put those new blades I got last fall!

We celebrated Resurrection Day with our church family. What a blessing to be able to observe this day together with other believers, and to be reminded of Christ’s victory over death. It seems we have dealt with death far too much in the last few weeks. The Bible tells us death has no hold on the Christian, because Jesus overcame death and was raised to life by the power of God. Therefore, although death comes to all people, as believers we need not fear it. Obviously, no one looks forward to the process, but for those who have placed their faith in the Lord, death is not the end, but only the beginning of our life on the other side.

I will leave you with these words from the apostle Paul:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or who die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and 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. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55,57).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Good Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly seen a change in the weather. As I write this Sunday evening, we are showing 2.60 in the rain gauge, with more in the forecast. The wind has been gusting up to around 50 mph, and there was a power outage in the area this morning. Ah, springtime in Nebraska!

In recent days, I have been reminded of the uncertainties of life. It is in those times I turn to the Word of God for encouragement and hope. We have all experienced times when life takes unexpected turns, and we are left wondering why? It might be an economic downturn, a broken relationship or maybe an unforeseen illness. We are prone to ask where did that come from? Or, why did that happen to me?

There are times when there are just no clear answers to why things happen. Life is full of unknowns, but that is just life. Sometimes we feel like the title of a song I have referenced before; “Life Ain’t Fair, and the World is Mean.” In spite of this, there is One who knows the struggles we go through. God in His perfect plan has placed each of us in our circumstances for His glory. When we finally understand this truth, we can trust Him even though we do not know the reason for our situation.

These verses from Romans give encouragement to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-39 CSB).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry