Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

Missing Link

Dear friends,
The wind has been the big weather topic this week. Everyone seems to be talking about the excess of wind and the absence of any meaningful rain event. At this time of year, any moisture may very well be of the frozen variety. I hesitate to use the ‘s’ word. At this point it doesn’t really matter what form it takes, it will be welcome. A recent issue of a daily newspaper had a page titled “Weather and Religion”. I was amused by those two topics being on the same page. It reminded me of the fact that there are weather forecasts, but God is the one who is in control of the weather.

Sunday, I was away from home in a neighboring church, filling in for their vacationing pastor. Before the service began, the following words appeared on the wall: No Signal (Help). It was telling the person at the keyboard that something was missing. What was missing? A connection between the computer and the projector.
Isn’t that a picture of our own lives? Occasionally, we feel disconnected from the Lord. There is a missing connection and we have lost the signal, so to speak. How do we reconnect to God? The answer; prayer and study of the Word. Consider the following passages of Scripture.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6). Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

Even when we don’t know what to pray, God’s Holy Spirit will take up our case. “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

Time spent in intentional Bible study, along with a consistent prayer life brings the Christian into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Lord. This will result in the knowledge that our connection to Him has been restored.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Gone Fishing

Dear friends,

We have been enjoying some cooler temperatures, the only thing missing is a good soaking rain. I believe we will see those rains in due time, but we still need to be persistent in prayer that the Lord will send them. There is not much news on the home front, just a grocery shopping trip now and then.

The annual Lake Ericson fishing derby was held this past Saturday. After signing in, and after a pancake and sausage breakfast, the teams headed out to the lake. As I observed the preparations, I saw an illustration of what the church should look like. I’m speaking of the church as followers of Jesus, sent out into the world. The men and boys who entered the derby had come earlier in the week and spent time finding out where the fish were. On the day of the contest, they were prepared with the right tackle and a fair knowledge of the habits of the fish they intended to catch.

After breakfast, did they sit around talking about fishing? No, they got in their boats and went fishing. Catching fish is the reason they are fishermen. It would be silly to just sit around the table and tell fish stories.

Jesus gave his disciples instructions, using fishing as an illustration of what they were being sent to do.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:16-18).

Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

Christians are called to go, that is they are sent by their Lord to go out into the world and be his witnesses; to present the good news of salvation to all people, in order to bring them into His “boat”.

It is pointless for Christians to just sit around after church and talk about the need for evangelism. Let us go out and fish for those who need to hear of Jesus.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Consistency

Dear readers,
We have arrived at the end of another month. Next week is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. Football and volleyball seasons have begun, and schools are in session. We are still in need of rain, and continue to ask the Lord to provide. We ask, knowing that he is faithful to answer our prayers in his perfect timing.

Church attendance wanes in the summer. This is a proven fact, and there are many reasons given, but if we were truthful, I think we would have to admit to a degree of complacency. Scripture tells us the early church met daily for fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:4-7). The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

These are Jesus’ words concerning the faithful servant; “His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23)!

Today, it seems hard for the people of God to meet together for one hour on Sunday morning. What follows here are some thoughts I copied down many years ago, and I believe they are worth repeating.

Reflections on being a faithful Christian: If your car starts one time out of three, do you consider it reliable? If the paper carrier skips the Monday and Thursday editions, would they be missed? If you fail to come to work two or three times a month, would your boss call you a faithful worker? If your refrigerator quits for a day now and then, do you excuse it and say, “But it works most of the time?” If your water heater greets you with cold water one or two mornings a week, would you understand? If you miss a couple of mortgage payments in a year’s time, would your banker say, “Oh, well, ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?

If we are not consistent in attending corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, can we call ourselves faithful Christians?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Better Way

Dear friends,
We have received almost .30” of rain early Sunday morning. The forecast is for the possibility of more, but we are thankful for what we have. After a warm week, we are having a couple of cooler days. This, too, is a blessing.

It saddens me to see that some Christians are following those who claim to predict the future. I do not believe this is what the Lord would want for His people. In His word, he warns against these practices.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable practices of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God… The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him… I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command Him. (Deuteronomy 18:9-15).

God’s people are to depend upon Him for their every need, and rely on His promises to care for them in every situation. There are those who would say “but that was Old Testament teaching.” True, but much of God’s law remains in effect in the New Testament. The Ten Commandments have not been revoked; they are for all time. What is called God’s moral law is also just as true as when it was given.

To be involved in occult practices is to be unfaithful to the Lord. We are encouraged to listen to God’s prophets instead. The ultimate prophet of God is Jesus Christ—the One who spoke God’s words and who provides deliverance for His people. He is the better way; “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Warning Signs

Dear friends,
According to the weather man, we will see a whole week of cooler temperatures. This is something we have all been waiting for. We went to O’Neill Saturday afternoon for a yard party, and the temperature on our vehicle display showed 102 degrees at one point. Much too hot for this old guy!

Over the last several months there had been an issue with our pickup tires losing air where the tire bead contacts the rim. There is a handy warning message on the dash display that shows the message “Low tire pressure”, when the pressure falls below a certain level. When this message would appear, I got in the habit of making a few short trips before I would take the time to inflate the tires to the proper level. After all, it was such a slow leak there was no hurry.

In time, we got to the point where those tires needed replacing, so we purchased a new set. Saturday, when I got the pickup out of the garage, there was the dreaded low tire pressure warning. My thought was I don’t have time for this, it will wait until tomorrow. Even so, I took time to look at the tires and to my surprise, one was very flat! There was a screw head protruding from the tire. Ignoring that warning would have resulted in having to buy another tire.

The Bible contains warning messages. It is not good to ignore them; in fact, ignoring the warnings God has given us in His Word will have eternal consequences.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:2).
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will (Hebrews 2:1-4).
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 12:15).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Elections Matter

Dear friends,
Isn’t it amazing how a little rain transforms the landscape and gives people a better outlook on life? Grass is growing, the flowering trees are in bloom, even the dandelions are a welcome sight after a long dry winter. Those recent rains were definitely an answer to many prayers. Let’s continue to thank the Lord for the blessing of rain.

Don’t forget to vote this Tuesday, May 10. It is our right as citizens to go to the polls and elect those who would represent us in the government. Pray that God would allow those in office who will stand for truth, and for biblical principles. Also, that those who do not know Him would see the light of His salvation, and be changed. Scripture commands us to pray for everyone. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings (governors and presidents included), that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Christians are called to acknowledge those in authority as sent by God. The apostle Paul wrote these words: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves. (Romans 13:1-2).

Those who lead will also be held accountable. “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill…”
I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession…
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:1-6, 8, 10-11).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Master Tuner

Hello friends,
We are officially observing Daylight Saving Time. I trust everyone made it to church on time Sunday. I have seen folks arrive in the parking lot just as worship was ending, and it was embarrassing for everyone.

I like music. I like to make music with my friends who play. I especially like playing when my guitar is in tune. Instruments have to be tuned to a standard, or else all you would have is a lot of meaningless noise. In the ‘old days’ that standard would have been a tuning fork, or a pitch pipe. These days there are electronic models with digital displays, allowing for exact pitch.

Our standard for living in tune with God is his Word. If we don’t return to him and retune, our lives can become like a musical instrument that needs tuning. As an out of tune instrument is not pleasing to the ear, a life not in tune with God has no purpose, nor does it bring him honor.

The Bible tells us that God’s word keeps us pure and in tune with his plan and purpose for our lives. Here are some examples; How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9 NIV).
Your word is completely pure, and your servant loves it (Psalm 119:140 CSB).
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11 NIV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). How do we renew our minds? By living according to God’s word and in his will.

Solomon wrote these words: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV). Does your life seem out of tune? Put it in the hands of the Master Tuner.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Love

Dear friends,
Sunday evening saw the return of our church’s annual Valentine’s dinner. Over fifty were in attendance, and it was a very enjoyable time. It is good to have an evening of great food, good fellowship, and an entertaining speaker with a gospel message.

The observance of Valentine’s Day is all about hearts and flowers, candy and sweet sentiments, along with love and starry eyed couples. From a biblical perspective, the message of God’s love is for all time, and for everyone, not just for couples. It is a message that becomes more urgent with each new day. The greatest love story of all time begins, “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.” That means all people. In the words of a dear friend, “All means all, that’s all all means. Every person who believes in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross has eternal life. Period.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, no exceptions. Everyone has the opportunity to respond to his call. Galatians 3:28 reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul told us to pray for those in authority, because “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself for all men–” (1 Timothy 2:3-6a).

The apostle John wrote of Jesus, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him…, Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

It is God’s will that all people will believe on Jesus for their salvation. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). “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 6:40).

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Back to Basics

Dear friends,
There is enough ice on the lake for fishing. With the changing temperatures, it has been a guessing game as to how thick the ice might be on a given day. I grew up spending a lot of time on the ice, and found out early you can’t tell just by looking if it is safe. There have been several fishermen this weekend, and no one fell through. I see some warm up for the next week, so caution is still in order.

Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics. It is no different as we experience the Christian life. I was looking through some early issues of this devotional project, and came across the following. It reminded me of the need for some plain old-fashioned gospel teaching.

This is what I wrote: For the past few weeks, I have been studying some important topics pertaining to the Christian life. Things like sin, repentance, confession, self-denial, discipline and the like. This is the kind of stuff that makes the preacher examine his life as he prepares to teach others about the truth of the Christian walk. It is not a pleasant experience at times, but what joy to find that Jesus is the one who enables us to overcome the things that hinder our walk. I will briefly tie these things together, in order that we may see how they are all connected.

Sin is disobedience to God; repentance is turning from sin and back toward God. Confession is agreeing with God that we have sinned. Self-denial means forgetting self and giving oneself over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Discipline means self-control which is empowered by the Holy Spirit and which enables us to resist the temptation of sin, and to live a life pleasing to God.

My prayer is that we can put these truths to work in our individual lives, and begin anew to live as Jesus would have us to live. Then, those who do not have a relationship with our Lord Jesus would see him in us and have a desire to know him as well. He is still the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by him. (John 14:6).

May God bless each one in the coming days, and may you feel his presence in a special way.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Meeting Together

Dear friends,
We continue to swing back and forth between fall and winter. In the last week, we have seen sunshine and rain, warm and cold, windy and calm. There are few leaves remaining on the trees; yet in these extremes, there is still the beauty of God’s creation all around us.

Now and then, I will come across someone else’s observation about trends in the church today. Speaking to the issue of a lack of commitment in attending weekly church services, Thom Rainer asks the question, how did we get to the point that attending church on a once-a-month basis is normal behavior?

He gives five developments:
One, we fail to see that the local church is God’s plan A to do His mission on earth, and there is no plan B. It is clear in the New Testament from Acts 2 through Revelation 3 is all about the local church as the means of fulfilling His plan.

Two, we embrace the false notion that commitment to a local church is legalistic. If we used that argument with the family unit, we would say “Oh, your commitment to your family is too legalistic.”

Three, we have let culture dictate our schedules. If we would resist the temptation to put other activities ahead of church attendance, we would communicate to the culture what is and is not important.

Four, we have accepted strawman arguments about gathering at our local church. Have you heard either one of these arguments? “The church is not about the building, it’s the people.” Or, “The church is about sending, not attending.” The writer of Hebrews said, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another… (Hebrews 10:25).

Five, we see church as a place to be served rather than to serve. Have you ever heard church members argue about their preferences? Sure you have. Preferences about the style of music in worship. About the order of worship. About the time of services. The list goes on.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions: Am I really connected to a local church? Am I attending without excuses? Am I looking to serve? Am I willing to give up the influence of the culture to be a growing disciple in my church? How committed am I to the local body? Let’s be part of the solution.

Food for thought,
Pastor Jerry