Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

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

Our Rock and Salvation

Hello friends,
Winter has returned to the area. This means snow and more snow, with very cold temperatures. For most of you this is not news; for the rest, enjoy the weather you are experiencing. Monday morning, I will be taking our alley cat to the vet for some surgery. This is the cat who adopted us last summer. She had kittens in our carport, and she wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told her to take them elsewhere. The kittens are gone, and now she has taken up residence in the house. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After last week’s column, I had several well-meaning, and encouraging suggestions for continuing to share my thoughts with you. I will keep writing, as long as the Lord gives me the strength and inspiration to do so. Thanks to all who take the time to read these articles each week.

The cultural and political landscape continues to be of concern for God’s people. There is much that gives us cause to wonder what next? Rather than allow all that to negatively affect our view of the current time, along with worrying what the future might bring, we need to focus on the Lord. There are two Psalms that have encouraged me through difficult times in the past. I would like to share parts of them with you this week.

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.
Find rest, O my soul, In God alone; my hope comes from him
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7).

I will extoll the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:1-6).

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Right Focus

Hello friends,
The weather last week was interesting, to say the least. With the wind that came, it is a very good thing the snow wasn’t any deeper. We were on the road the day after the storm, and found some county roads to the west of us that were a little drifted, and still unopened. Outside of that the remainder of the roads were just slushy. As far as the week ahead, there is talk of snow, we just don’t know the details

A year ago, we were anticipating what the year 2020 was going to bring. Little did we know what that was going to look like! Now, we are facing the year 2021, with some of those 2020 problems still hanging around. With the Covid 19 pandemic, and the unsettled political scene, we wonder what will come along next? This is to say nothing of what we might consider everyday challenges to our lives. One thing to keep in mind, as an acquaintance of mine recently wrote, “Viruses, economics, politics and people seldom change because the calendar page turned over. He continues, “we’re going to have to have something more substantial to look forward to than a new date on the calendar.”

It is fine to anticipate turning the calendar to another year, but if we look to that as an answer to all our problems, we will be sadly disappointed.

The apostle Paul reminds us not to live in the past, but to keep our eyes on our heavenly home… “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).

I’m reminded of what Jesus says about worry. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

Without a focus on eternity, the next year may bring only disappointment. But if you have Christ in your life, the near future is only a step toward your final destination, which is eternal fellowship with the Savior. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don’t be distracted by the immediate.

“Unless we purposely live with a view to the next world, we cannot make much out of our present existence.” – Charles Spurgeon

Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry

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