Archive for the ‘Incarnation’ Category

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

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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

God With Us

We have definitely had some weather to put us in mind of the Christmas season. After a few days of this chill, I was wondering if a vacation in the south might be a good idea. That said, I would probably take my chances on a warming trend, rather than go to the effort of loading up and moving for a few months.
Christmas is this week, and in another week, it will be a new year. As I reflect on the past year, I am thankful for many things. Among those are the progress on our lake house, and the improvements there, including getting a lawn established and other goals met.
I am thankful for the EMT’s of our community, and their service to its people. I probably have a greater understanding of their importance after having to call on them last summer. I don’t know yet if I properly thanked those who came to my aid, but I assure you, they were much appreciated! Also, I thank the Lord for giving me another year.
As we contemplate the reason we celebrate Christmas, I pray we never forget that it is about God coming to earth to live among us, and set for us an example of how we should live. Not only was Jesus our example, he came to save us from our sins. The scripture tells us, in fact, that he was “God with us”, and that his purpose in coming was to seek and to save the lost.
Let’s remember the angel’s words to Joseph concerning Mary: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” In the same passage, Matthew reminds us of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel—which means, God with us” (Matthew 1:20-23).
God with us, come to save his people from their sins. That is the gospel in a nutshell. I remember the words of Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas; That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone. Next week, we’ll spend some time looking toward the New Year.
Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

Bethlehem Star

Dear friends,
As I finish writing this Monday morning, it is windy and snowing. This follows a steady rain overnight.

Now for some Christmas meditation: The star of Bethlehem brought together three kind of people. These three types exist today. We’ll consider this in today’s visit.

The star appeared in the sky according to Scripture, and it caused some Persian scholars to begin a search for the promised King of Israel. We are told in Matthew’s gospel that these men came to Jerusalem seeking information concerning this king. They came to the palace of the reigning ruler, a man named Herod (Matthew 2:1-6).

News of a rival king disturbed Herod and all Jerusalem. We can assume that if King Herod was disturbed, the rest of the population would be as well. He had the reputation of being a ruthless ruler, and his being disturbed would certainly make the general population nervous. The only ones who seemed not to see this a big deal were the religious leaders. When asked where the promised King of Israel was to be born, the priests and religious leaders knew He was to be born in Bethlehem, but we do not see them excited to go and see for themselves.

I said there were three kinds of people represented here. The same types are present in our day.

First, we have the wise men. They were true seekers of the Messiah. Although they were Gentiles and pagans, they came to see and to worship the newborn King. The Jewish religious leaders were indifferent to the news of a newborn King, even though they knew the scriptures down to the exact place He would be born. Herod represents those who are adamantly opposed to the idea of God’s sending His own Son to defeat sin and death. They see Christianity as a threat to their self-worship.

The question for our time is which of these are you? Have you, like the Magi of old, found and followed the Savior? Are you indifferent to his message and his call on your life? Is it possible that you are opposed to the idea of sin and your need for a Savior? Jesus is calling at this Christmas season. What better time to begin your life with Him? He is the true Star of Bethlehem. He is ready to reveal Himself to those who seek Him.

Following Him,
Pastor Jerry

Yearning for His Returning

This is the time of the year when the Church observes Advent. It is a time to count down the days to Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In His coming, He identified himself with those he came to save. He also has promised in His word to return someday for those who are His.

As we count down to Christmas, the young and the young-at-heart will be anxiously looking forward to the season and the gift giving (and receiving). In the Bible we see that God’s people, Israel, also looked for and anticipated the promised Messiah, who was to be born in Bethlehem. In the New Testament book of Luke, we read of a man name Simeon, who was looking for the Promised One.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation (Savior) of Israel…Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he took him in his arms and praised God. (Luke 2:25-28).

In the New Testament, the writers spoke of eagerly anticipating the second coming of the Lord Jesus. We, also, are told to expect His return at some future time. The apostle Paul speaks of those who “long for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). In another letter, Paul reminds us to live holy lives, “while we wait for “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

My question this week is this: Are you eagerly anticipating the return of the Lord? Are you ready for Him to come? How are you preparing?

Those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord will be living a godly life as they look forward to His eventual return. In the midst of trial or blessing, they can say with the apostle John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Are you yearning for His returning?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God With Us

It’s time again to reflect on the blessing of Christmas. I could  have said “blessings”, for there are many, but the Blessing of Christmas is my focus today. I  take us back to the Old Testament and the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6, concerning the promised Messiah..

“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

What does this mean to us? Let’s look at these five truths: As the One with the government on His shoulders, we see Him as the one who holds the world together. “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (1 Corinthians 1:17). As Wonderful Counselor, He always gives wise counsel to those who will hear and obey Him.

As Mighty God, He can forgive sin, defeat Satan, redeem us, and restore our broken souls. As Everlasting Father, He is eternally in complete and sovereign control of His creation. He knows everything, and works everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

In His role as Prince of Peace, He brings real and lasting peace. Not peace as the world thinks of peace, but to those who believe in Him, He brings an inner peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7).

In summary, the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, as fulfilled in the birth of the Savior, is the answer to all the confusion, chaos, complexity and conflicts of life. It is the gift of the newborn infant who is also the Father of all eternity. He is an innocent child, yet He is a wise counselor and mighty king. He is God with us. Emmanuel. May He bring you peace in these troubled times.*

In His amazing love,
Pastor Jerry

*[credit to Dr. John MacArthur for some content]

Immanuel, God With Us

It may come as a surprise to some, but Christmas is not grounded in Santa Claus, evergreen trees, winter scenery or the spending of huge amounts of money on gifts. It is first of all centered on the Incarnation, God’s miraculous gift of a Savior, born to a virgin, to be the sinless sacrifice for our sins.

” … the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph…The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you….Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus… The Holy Spirit will come upon you…Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:26-35).

I wonder how many of us really understand the importance of the Incarnation and the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ? What does it matter that Jesus is “God with us?” It means that we do not have to pay for our own sin. Jesus, sinless from conception, came to be the sacrifice that would once for all cover the sin debt of all humanity. Without the virgin birth, there would be no salvation for sin, no way to restore our broken relationship with God. Without the virgin birth, our faith would be futile.

Now, when we see all the trappings of the season, and the excesses it brings, let us first know and understand why and how Jesus came. As we meditate on these truths, may we slow down and take the time to acknowledge the real “Reason for the Season.”

Thankful for His birth,
Pastor Jerry