Archive for the ‘Incarnation’ Category

Look for the Light

Dear friends,
We have had mostly nice weather for the past week, and it looks to be more of the same in the near future. We managed to get some Christmas decorations up over the weekend, but there are still totes that aren’t empty. We don’t seem to have the stamina to put them all up in one day as we have done in the past!

We will stay on the subject of Christmas this week. I sometimes think we are too quick to forget Christmas. Instead of taking the time to acknowledge the great gift of God in sending His son to bear the sin debt of the whole world, we want to get those gifts unwrapped and move on.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, very few people were aware of his coming. The innkeeper had no room to put them up, so his family ended up in a livestock shelter, which was probably a cave. As we read the story, it appears the only ones who showed up to worship the newborn were lowly shepherds. The religious leaders certainly weren’t interested enough to seek him, and Herod showed little interest, except to view the news as a threat to his political position. The prophet Micah, foresaw the Messiah as being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The religious leaders knew of this prophecy, yet didn’t take the time to check it out.

As we think of that first Christmas, we might wonder, is it any different today? People are so busy with the little details of their lives, that they have no time for Jesus, and they really aren’t interested in finding out about Him.

The prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus’ appearance among men in this way; “The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in darkness.” (Isaiah 9:2). In the New Testament, John wrote this of Jesus; “In Him was life, and that light was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it… He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:4-11).

Jesus said; “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Have you seen the Light? What is your response?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Christmas is Coming

Hello friends,
After a week of very nice November weather, it seems we are going to cool off for a time. The seasons are still in transition, I guess. I trust you had a pleasant Thanksgiving observance in spite of the Covid19 virus. Some of the Christmas lights here at the lake have been put up, and more will appear. You are invited to drive through the lake community and enjoy the efforts of the residents. So far, there has only been light conversation regarding our own display, but I suspect action will be taken in the near future.

On the subject of Christmas, we are in the Advent season as noted in the church calendar. In fact, we are only three Sundays away from Christmas. It is not too early to begin thinking about the holiday, what it means, and how we are to respond to it. We all know the Christmas story from the gospels, but I like to go to the Old Testament and read the prophecies concerning the birth of the Savior. A favorite passage is from Isaiah.

“For to us a child is born, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In the New Testament, we read Jesus’ words, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38-40).

Perhaps you have heard the Christmas story many times, but have never made the decision to place your trust in Jesus for your salvation. I pray you do so before any more time passes. It is not too late.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

It’s Christmas Time

Hello friends,
I’m writing early this week, because of early copy deadlines. I’m trusting the system to get season’s greeting to you in a timely manner, so here goes!

Merry Christmas! It is that time again, the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior. The day may, or may not, reflect the actual time of year for the event, but at any rate, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as it was written in scripture, ‘just at the right time’.

The apostle John wrote in his gospel, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. The Word was Jesus, Son of God, the promised Messiah.

Isaiah prophesied His coming this way;
For to us a child is born, to us a child is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)>

The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Galatians chapter four; But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full right of sons. Galatians 4:4-5).

Finally, from Colossians 1:15-18… “He 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. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

Our world today seems to be out of control, and we often wonder where it will all end. Take heart, God is in control. His plan will be brought to its completion. As we come to the end of the year, let’s remember, God’s got this.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Prepare Him Room

Hello friends,
We awoke this Sunday morning to several inches of new snow on the ground. We drove to Niobrara Saturday, to meet and have lunch with Alex, and except for being a bit chilly, it was a nice day. Last week, we made a trip to Grand Island to get a redo on a tire repair. We had it fixed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still losing air pressure. When the tire was fixed, the shop manager handed me the tire tester that I had left on the hood. The Lord looks out for the forgetful, too!

Speaking of the Lord’s provision for mankind, we are rapidly approaching Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of the Lord Jesus to a little town called Bethlehem. You recall the story… Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, only to find there was no place to stay, but in a stable (Luke 2:1-7). The inn-keeper has gotten a lot of negative publicity over the years for turning them away, but God was working out his plan for the Messiah to be born in humble surroundings.

We have no record of the conversation between the inn-keeper and Joseph. What if he had known who he was turning away, would he somehow make room for them? Sadly, today there are millions who are turning the Savior away, because they can find no room in their hearts for Jesus. Many Christians, I fear, sometimes get so caught up in the commercial aspect of the holiday, they forget the Reason for the season.

Years ago, there was a book written called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” In it the writer likened his heart to a home where Jesus wanted to live. The man went room-to-room through his “home”, and asked himself whether each one was fit for Jesus to visit. He found many things he needed to clean out before it was a proper dwelling for the Lord.

It is a sad fact that many today have no room for a Savior in their hearts, but I suspect most Christian hearts need a proper housecleaning from time to time. Do you remember the lyrics to the old Christmas carol? “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him Room.”

It is not too late to make room for Him.

Celebrating His coming,
Pastor Jerry

A Reminder

Another week has gone by, and the year is drawing to a close. The shortest day of the year is rapidly approaching. and by the time March comes around, the lengthening of daylight hours will be noticeable. It is also the time when, due to the holidays, we who contribute articles to our local newspapers will find new deadlines to meet.

If my next few columns seem a bit disoriented, I can blame it on being forced out of the comfortable little rut I have gotten into. Those who do not read this in the newspaper, will just have to play along, because everyone gets the same material, just by different means.

This week, I will share a thought or two about Christmas, and what I believe we need to remember about the holiday. I see others writing what I would call ‘feel good’ statements, about the meaning of Christmas, and I think where did they get that idea?

One particular statement caught my eye this week. It was written by the pastor of a mainline church. The article ended with the thought that Jesus came to give the gift of love, and to be a great teacher and an example to all mankind. This is true in a sense, I suppose, but the words of Jesus bring a different message; one that is often overlooked in our day.

Of course we all know John 3:16, in which Jesus says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” But the verse goes on to say that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. In the very next verse, he says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Here are more words of Jesus: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 5:17). “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17b).

“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

In His enduring love,
Pastor Jerry

The Season Begins

Hello friends,
Already it is December. Soon we’ll be trying to learn a new number to write on our checks, that is if anyone writes checks anymore. Here at our place we have experienced our second winter storm of the season, and winter hasn’t officially arrived. We are well protected from the wind here, so I doubt we had as much drifting as in other places. Also, I think the total snowfall here was less than forecast, and I’m okay with that.

It is the season of Advent for the Christian church. We celebrate the first coming of our Lord, and look forward to his promised return. As I observe people, it seems most don’t understand the significance of Christmas, let alone any thought of Christ returning again. There are colored lights and evergreen trees with all kinds of decorations, including a herald angel at the top. Presents under the tree, and displays of shepherds and wise men meeting at the nativity with gifts for baby Jesus.

But, may I suggest that if you asked most people to explain the meaning of Christmas, they would probably be hard pressed to give a clear presentation of the reason for the season. Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin, he lives in the hearts of those who believe, and he is coming again at some future time.

Here is the problem, as I see it. Most have a pretty good grasp on the idea of Jesus’ first coming, and will understand that he was raised from the dead, and is in heaven with the Father. The downside is they live as though he is ‘out there’ somewhere, while failing to understand his presence in the world. Their lives are lived no different from those who claim no knowledge of Jesus or God.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, his disciples were told, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

I found this appropriate quote from William Barclay, a Scottish theologian: “The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ.”

Waiting for His appearing,
Pastor Jerry

It’s Christmas

Dear friends,
I suppose it has something to do with being retired and finding ways to entertain ourselves, but we have begun to follow recipe pages on Facebook. One recent post caught my eye. It went something like this: “Ten Recipes That Taste Like Christmas!”

My first thought was, what does Christmas taste like? Followed close behind by, what color is Christmas? If I had an opinion on these two questions, I suppose I would say the tastes of Christmas might be those of candy canes, eggnog, cinnamon, gingerbread, and a host of other foods and sweets. Then I would say the colors of Christmas would definitely be red, green, and gold, or others, depending on the individual.

Immediately following these came the question, what in the world do these things have to do with the incarnation of the Lord Jesus? Answer: Nothing.

Later, I saw a quote saying, “Christmas is mostly about giving glory to the only God who would step down from on high to lift those he loves.” This was from a preacher who probably should have rethought that statement, because to me, Christmas is not mostly, but all about giving glory to God for his indescribable gift.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (John 3:16). Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people” (Luke 2:10).

This is Christmas. At the stable in Bethlehem, the gift of a Savior was given. That gift was to include the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, followed by His resurrection. The gift of salvation. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Have a Happy and Blessed Christmas,
Pastor Jerry

Return to Advent

The Advent season is here. Actually, it is well under way. It is the time leading up to Christmas, and in today’s emphasis on decorating, shopping, and finding the perfect gifts, Advent gets pushed aside.

Advent proclaims an advent—a time before, a looking forward—and it lacks meaning without Christmas at the end of it. In fact, Christmas lacks meaning without the season of advent going before it.

Advent is a time of waiting and anticipating. This is why Advent celebrations, both at home and in churches, focus on scriptures that anticipate the coming of Christ. In Micah, we read, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, …out of you WILL come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…” And in Matthew, Joseph is told that Mary “WILL give birth to a son, and you ARE TO give him the name Jesus…” Also, Luke tells us “while they were there, the TIME CAME for the baby to be born.”

Things like Advent calendars and crèches that remain empty until Christmas Eve give a shape to the anticipation of the season. And a season of contrition and sacrifice prepares us to understand and feel something about just how great the gift is when at last the day itself arrives. In this day of ‘instant’ gratification, it is hard for most of us to wait for anything. We want it here and now!

It’s not too late to turn our attention away from the gifts to the advent of the Greatest Gift, and the anticipation of His return. As Paul tells us, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

We can still take time to spend time with our families, reading the scriptures that relate to Advent, pray, and sing some Christmas hymns that anticipate the coming of Christ.

Then, when Christmas Day arrives, we can greet it, not with a sense of relief that the Christmas season is almost over, but with joy for the great gift. Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Waiting for Christmas

The weather word for the week is COLD! I knew we would pay for those warm November days sooner or later. Oh, well, this is Nebraska, after all.

In these weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday, my comments will focus on the reason it is so important, not just to Christians, but to the whole world.

One message of the Christmas season is that Jesus is going to return again. As we celebrate His birth, we also rejoice that He will return at some point to rule the world. Read Matthew’s account of John the Baptist’s message. (Matthew 3:1-11).

At His return, Jesus will judge the world. The Lord used the word judgment 20 times in the 4 gospels.

John’s message was the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the coming of the Savior of the world. We have the responsibility to carry his message forward in relation to the second coming of the Lord.

Jesus said, “Among those born of women, none is greater than John, yet the one who is least in the kingdom is greater than he” (Luke 7:28) How can this be?

“Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have a message infinitely greater even than the message of John and the honor of an even greater calling. We have the privilege of proclaiming the good news of salvation in the name of Jesus Christ. We tell of his birth in Bethlehem. We proclaim that the Word has become flesh and dwelled among us. We preach Christ crucified as our substitute for our sins and raised from the dead for our justification. We openly promise that salvation comes to any sinner who believes and repents. John came before the Christ to prepare the way. We (Christians) come after Christ to preach his gospel. With John we declare that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, for it surely is” (Dr. Albert Mohler).

Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah. (Isaiah 9:6). Verse seven tells of his second coming: “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever…”

The season is a celebration, but is it also a sober reminder of His promised return. Are you ready?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Ready for Christmas?

I’ll begin this week with a bit of reminiscing, prompted by something that happened to me a few weeks back.

It was an email I received, reminding me that I don’t use rancher type illustrations or analogies in these articles anymore; I must say the person was right. There is at least one reason for this. When this project began in late 1999, we were living on the ranch with no real thought of ever being anywhere else. Our perspective was from the ranch life, period.

Beginning in the fall of 2000, we started our ministry in Ericson. Over the years, our focus changed from full-time ranching to full-time ministry, ending with retirement from ranching around 2012, and from full-time ministry last May. We no longer view life from our earlier situations, so the things we see going on around us have taken on a different slant.

In all this, however, the message has not changed—the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and obedience to His Word. After all, it is possible to see illustrations of God’s truth in every situation and circumstance. As a side note, assuming I wrote an article a week for 16 years, that is a total of 832 devotionals. Amazing!

Now for this week’s devotional: As we traveled through some of our neighboring towns last week, we saw several people decorating houses and lawns for Christmas. The thought occurred to me, “I wonder how many of these folks are actually prepared to meet Christ, either at the end of their lives, or if he should return before they die?

A lot of time and effort is spent preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth, much less is spent on preparing for eternity. This year, as you hang those lights, decorate the Christmas tree, and set up your nativity scene, why not reflect on whether or not you have Jesus in your heart?

There was no room for Him in the Bethlehem Inn; is there room for him in your heart? The answer to this question is much more important than all the Christmas decorations you can put up. After all, to quote a time-worn saying: He’s the Reason for the season.

Isaiah 6:9… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

Prepare Him room,
Pastor Jerry