Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

The Bible Is Not Buffet

Good day,
It’s a lovely morning here on the shores of Lake Ericson. I’m reminded of an old Johnny Cash song, as we were blessed with a little more rain last evening… “Five Feet High and Rising.” We have two rain gauges about 30 feet apart. One showed 1.25”, and the other one, 2.50”. Go figure.

High school graduation was held locally this past weekend. We attended several receptions afterward, and the food selection at each one was different and delicious. People were able to select food items that appealed to them, and free to pass on others. The secret, I find, is to pace oneself, and not eat your fill at the first place. This is good advice for those attending multiple post-graduation events on the same day.

There are those folks who approach the Bible as if it were a buffet, or a supermarket. They pick and choose those parts that satisfy their appetites, and leave the rest. I have news: The Bible is not a buffet. I believe we can liken it to the spiritual equivalent of a completely balanced diet. God told his people long ago that “man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

The apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In the Psalms, we read “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8). “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).

God gave Moses these instructions for the people of Israel: “Assemble the people… so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

Going back to Paul’s instructions to Timothy, we read; “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Correctly handling the Word would include using the whole Bible, from cover to cover.

The Bible is not a buffet. Christians are not to pick and choose which parts to obey. All scripture is useful and to be used.

On His Word,
Pastor Jerry

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Ready or Not?

The storm last week left us with an estimated 12” of snow here in our back yard. I thought I was prepared for snow, but my preparations were incomplete. I had put the snow-blower on the tractor, but instead of putting the tractor in the shed, I let it sit out. Big Mistake! Next morning, I could hardly see the tractor for the snow piled on top of it.
It seems many of our preparations stop short of being complete. Here is an another example of something that happens occasionally at our house. I enjoy cooking now and then. My meal planning usually involves meat and potatoes, but when those items are nearly ready, my wife will ask, “What are we going to have for a vegetable? Incomplete preparation on my part—again. So we wait for the veggies, while the meat and taters cool.
 Some lack of preparation may bring temporary inconvenience or discomfort, but what about our preparations for eternity? Is it possible to make incomplete plans for what happens after this life? I believe there are many who believe there is life after death, but sadly, their plans for it have come short of completion.
Three of the gospel writers recorded a conversation Jesus had with a young man. The man’s question was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
“All these I have kept”, the young man said. What do I still lack?”
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22).
You see, keeping the 10 commandments does not bring salvation. First of all, it is impossible to keep them, and second, eternal life is not gained by keeping a list of rules. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The young man in our story had made incomplete preparations, and was unwilling to do the one thing required. That one thing was to be willing to give up everything and follow Jesus. Since he would not complete the requirement, he was lost.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

On the Tenth Commandment

More progress was made last week on the preparations for moving the house. Monday, the footings and stem walls were poured. Tuesday the forms were removed, and now we wait for the interior footings. This week I hope to get the old house ready for its move.

The area was blessed with more rain this week. The timely rains have helped keep lawn and garden watering to a minimum. We harvested our first cantaloupe this week, and more are ripening. There are signs that the garden is nearing the end of production for this year.

Our message this week was built on the Tenth Commandment: “Do not covet…anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Deuteronomy 5:21). Covetousness isn’t a word we use much these days, but it is alive and well. The advertising people understand the idea that we all want what our neighbor has. We probably don’t get to the point of taking our neighbor’s stuff, but we want to have the latest model of smart phone, car, or computer. Maybe it is the desire to move to a better neighborhood, or buy a bigger house. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. It is when they become the over-riding focus of our lives that there is a problem

The truth of the matter is this. When we are dissatisfied with what God has given us, we are saying to Him, “I don’t appreciate what you have given me, I want more.”

When we covet someone else’s belongings, we are focused on our immediate circumstances and prevented from looking ahead. We need to make sure we live our lives with the proper perspective. What we experience now is temporary, and eternity is in our future.

Only the gospel can give contentment to the human heart. Everyone has the desire to search for satisfaction, and the road to satisfaction eventually leads back to God. Paul found his joy in the Lord continually. His happiness was not dependent on his circumstances. In Philippians 4:13, Paul described his ability to be content whether in good times or bad… “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Is God good enough for you? If you are in Christ, you do not need to define yourself by your possessions. You already have the greatest gift of all.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Do You Know Him?

Hello friends,
Here we are at the beginning of a new week. We have been blessed again with abundant rain. The gauge here at the parsonage read 2.20″ in a little over 24 hours. The temperatures have been pleasant, as well.

It appears we will be able to get our house moved to Lake Ericson in September. We don’t have an exact date, but we know the month. If all goes according to plan, the concrete work and the removal of some unwanted trees will take place this week.

In our Sunday worship over the last few weeks, we have studied  eight of the Ten Commandments, as found in Deuteronomy, chapter 5. During the course of my studying, I have been reminded of this truth: At the end of life, it will not matter how many of the Ten Commandments we’ve kept, that won’t be the question. When we stand before God, He won’t ask if we’ve been good, or if we have lived up to His law. Those things do not provide salvation. The law shows us first of all that we are sinners, and when we have confessed our sin to Him, the law shows us how to live. The thing that matters at the end, is how we responded to the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at some verses that convince me of this. Ephesians 2:4-9: “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the saints in Rome, wrote, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” And in verse 30, “There is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.”

I continue to write on this topic, because I am convinced there are people reading this who do not know their eternal destiny. They do not know Jesus as their Savior. The Bible is clear. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6).

Do you know my Jesus?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Frying Bacon

Dear readers,
We’ve been glad for some cooler temperatures. At least, we haven’t had any of those hundred degree days. We had a couple of small rain showers toward the end of the week. In other news, progress is being made toward moving our house to Lake Ericson.
Now to our devotional thought for the week: The  sixth commandment says we are not to commit murder. The Lord Jesus said anger out of control can result in murder. The lesson is that we need to keep angry thoughts and attitudes under control. The following story may cause us to pause and reflect on our attitudes concerning those we love.
Frying Bacon: One morning recently, while still harboring a bit of anger over a perceived slight the day before, I was frying bacon for breakfast. My dear wife was beside me frying the eggs. She likes her bacon crisp, while I like mine less so. I was determined to give her crisp bacon for a change. My attitude was “I’ll show her I can do this!”
As the bacon began to get crisp, it also took on a burnt look along the edge. I said, “Is this crisp enough?” Her response was, “Why are you being so naughty?”
Well, I denied any such motive, but she was right, and later I apologized for being so childish…after all, I am much too old for that kind of immature display…
The moral of the story: Don’t hang on to those angry thoughts, words, and attitudes. If you pay attention to the teachings of scripture, those are the very things that if left unattended, can lead to more than burnt bacon. Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother (or wife, or husband) will be subject to judgement.”
Let’s ask the question of ourselves; Are there words, attitudes or actions we need to confess and ask forgiveness for? By doing so, we will restore our relationships with those we love, and with our Lord, as well.
One more thought for the married men out there: “Husbands…be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).
Forgiven,
Pastor Jerry

True Freedom

Vacation is officially over. I have to admit, taking those three
Sundays off from my preaching duties was refreshing. However, the rest
of the time seemed a lot like a normal routine. Even so, we enjoyed
our trip out west, and the opportunity to see some things beyond our
regular circle of vision.

We intend to take some short (two or three day) sight-seeing trips
around the great state of Nebraska. Maybe we’ll even return to some of
the places we missed in my hurry to get back home. Now that we are
somewhat accustomed to traveling together in a relatively small space,
it should be easier, and even more fun!

On Friday, this week, we celebrate our country’s adoption of the
Declaration of Independence 238 years ago. On this day, we should also
thank God for allowing us to be born in a land that gives us the many
freedoms that others in the world can only wish for. Freedom also
brings responsibility. As citizens of the United States of America, we
are free to live pretty much as we want to, within the boundaries of
the law.

Christians should be thankful for their dependence on the Lord. In
giving Him control of our lives, we are provided with freedom from
sin, and the freedom to live our lives without fear for our eternal
future. It has been said that once we place our faith in Jesus for our
salvation and submit to his Lordship, we can do anything we want, as
long as it is within His will.

We are not under the law as given in the Old Testament, Christ died
to fulfill the Law. The Law, then, becomes our guide for living as His
followers. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm,
then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of
slavery” (Galatians 5:1). “Live as free men, but do not use your
freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (1 Peter
2:16).

The previous verses apply to Christian living, but it seems to me that
they should apply to citizens of the greatest country in the world,
with respect to her laws.

Let us give thanks, for our country and to our Lord, as we remain
loyal and obedient to both. This, I believe, should be how we live
every day.

Free in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Make No Idols

The temperatures have been a bit warm over the past week, and still we need rain. Some areas around us seem to be getting the good moisture, but I guess it just isn’t our turn. I have no doubt rain will come at the proper time.

News Flash! Sunday afternoon, we received .30″ of rain, and more is forecast for later in the week.
On a personal note, my bride and I will reach a milestone in our marriage this week. Saturday, June 7th, we will celebrate 50 years on our way to forever together.
Our devotional thought for the week centers on the second of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make for yourself an idol….” (Deuteronomy 5:8-10). The idea is that we are not to re-imagine God. This happens when we try to make God fit into our idea of who He should be. We say, “my God wouldn’t do”…whatever bothers us about God’s way. Or it might be, “I couldn’t worship a God who”… does this or that thing.
God doesn’t need us to define who He is. He has revealed Himself in the Bible, and the Lord Jesus is the manifestation of the Living God. Our opinions of what God should do, or how He should act, are of little importance to Him.
God is not one-dimensional. Anytime we try to make God into someone we are comfortable with, we inevitably leave out some part of who He is. God is jealous for our worship, and when we begin to dilute His holiness, His power, His glory, His love, His righteousness, or His judgment, He is rightly offended.
In addition to arousing God’s jealousy when we fashion these false views of Him, idolatry corrupts our behavior. Much of the immoral behavior in the world today is the direct result of the failure to know and obey God and His moral law. The Bible teaches that we become what we worship. Said another way, whatever we worship, we reflect.
The only image of God we need, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who scripture describes as the very image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). We worship God when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Blessings,
Pastor Jerry