Archive for the ‘Obedience’ Category

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

Give Thanks

Dear readers,

We seem to have arrived at “Second Autumn.” After a short cold spell, and a few flakes of snow last week, we are experiencing some fall temperatures again. These will be counted as past blessings in the future. We didn’t let those warm days slip away without getting some outside work done. A few Christmas lights were put up, just so we weren’t doing it in the snow later. The lawn was mowed for the last time I hope, and some flower bulbs were transplanted.

As the calendar moves closer to the end of November and into December, our thoughts are drawn to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both of these holidays serve to remind us of God’s love for people, and for all of His creation. However, we must be careful to remember that neither we or the creation are to be worshiped. Worship is reserved for God alone. “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1).

Familiar verses of scripture remind us of these truths. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way. He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16”. It is this gift we celebrate at Christmas; the gift Paul calls indescribable. 2 Corinthians 9:15.

“We give thanks to you, God; we give thanks to you… people tell about your wondrous works.” Psalm 75:1.

“I will give thanks to you because you have answered me and have become my salvation.” Psalm 118:21.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves it is God’s gift.” Ephesians 2:8.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the Father of lights…” James 1:17.

“The heavens are the LORD’s, but the earth he has given to the human race” (Psalm 115:16).

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness; all the peoples see his glory” (Psalm 97:6).

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples” (Psalm 105:1).

If there is no God, as some would have us believe, to whom would we give thanks? Who is it that is worthy to receive our praise and worship and yes, all our thanks? It is God, the creator and sustainer of all life and matter. Blessed be His Name!

Simply His,

Pastor Jerry

Safe With God

Dear friends,

After a very pleasant weather week, it appears we are about to experience a reminder of the approaching season of cooler temperatures. One positive takeaway of this, is that the lawn mowing season is nearing its end. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go.

I read the following in a devotional article from Dr. David Jeremiah. It gives encouragement to all of us as we face uncertain times.

During the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, Dr. Benjamin Rush refused to leave the city, feeling God had placed him there for such a time. He told his medical students, “As for myself, I may fall a victim to the epidemic, and so may you, gentlemen. But I prefer since I am placed here by Divine Providence, to fall in performing my duty… than to secure my life by fleeing from the post of duty allotted in the Providence of God.”

Dr. Jeremiah continues; “Dr. Rush survived the plague and left us a lasting lesson. The safest place is always in the center of God’s will. Plagues and pandemics come and go. Violence rises and falls. Evil goes from bad to worse. But when we are in the daily course of divine duty, we are shielded by our God—safe and secure from all alarm. The worst thing that can happen to us is the best thing—the Lord will take us to heaven. So don’t live in fear today. Follow the footsteps of the Savior.”

Good words for us all. If you belong to the Lord Jesus, you are promised eternity with Him when your life here has ended. He has placed each one of us in the place where we are, to carry out His plan for our lives. He does it for His glory, and we are promised a share in His glory when we reach heaven. 

In the Old Testament we read the story of a young queen named Esther, who took a stand for the Lord, even though it might mean her life. Her relative told her, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us. We are not where we are by accident, but by His sovereign purpose. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Trusting in His Word,

Pastor Jerry

What Is Jesus Doing?

 Dear friends,

Another week has slipped away from us. Fall is definitely in the air. The colors of the season are as spectacular as any I have seen. What a great blessing to live where God has placed us. I can think of no other place I would rather be. Short fishing report; I caught a nice-sized bass one morning last week, and had it for supper Friday evening. It was even better than I had anticipated, it makes me want to catch another one or two!

On Saturday, I attended a conference for rural Christian workers. I was reminded of some things for Christians to focus on in our current reality, and thought they were worth sharing. A popular question from a few years back asked, “What would Jesus do?” Our speaker asked, “What would Jesus do today?” The following is a brief outline of his answer.

First, Jesus is still building his church. He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). We (believers) are the church, and He is still adding to it. As His people, are we helping build the church or are we tearing it down?

Second, He is still making disciples through his church. He commands us to make disciples. “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).  As more people come to faith in Christ, we are to be discipling those new believers, teaching them how to follow Him.

Third, He is still seeking and saving the lost. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). As followers of Jesus, one of our responsibilities is to point others to Him. We are to introduce the lost to the Savior. According to Acts 5:42, speaking of the early church, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

In summary; we are to love people the way Jesus loves them. Share the good news of Jesus’ salvation. Invite them to respond to His offer of salvation and be saved. We are not to be mere spectators.

For Him,

Pastor Jerry

Faithful Servants

Hello friends,

We spent the weekend with old friends celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sybrant Community Church, which we attended for many years. Actually, last year was the centennial of the church, but the big event was postponed due to, you guessed it—Covid19. It was a blessing to renew old acquaintances and reflect on the history and mission of this little church in what some would call the middle of nowhere. From the early settlers who saw the need for a place of worship, to those today who continue to preserve this lighthouse of the gospel in an out-of-the-way part of the world, Thank You! It is a testimony of God’s blessing on His faithful followers and those who answer the call to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Most of my readers will probably remember the story of how I came to faith in Christ. It was in this little church where I heard these words for the first time, and responded to their message. “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The next verses in this passage speak of the importance of these little places of worship; “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?” (Romans 10:9-15).

To those who continue to carry out God’s call to faithfulness in little congregations everywhere, remember God rewards those who remain committed to serve Him. You will someday hear these words from the Savior. “Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:21).

For Him,

Pastor Jerry

Stand With Israel

Hello friends and family,

This past week has been pleasant. We didn’t see any of those extremely hot days, and it has cooled nicely at night. We could certainly use a nice rain or two, but since we aren’t in control of that, we’ll have to ask the One who is to send us some.

I hurt my shoulder in a strange way last week. It happened as I was lying down for my afternoon nap. I’m chalking it up to the fragility of old age, but whatever the cause it was painful. After a trip to the chiropractor on Monday, it is much better, thank you.

As we watch and listen to the changing culture, I am reminded of a statement I heard many years ago relating to the question of why America isn’t mentioned in Bible prophecy. The answer given was this; America will cease to be a force for Christianity. It certainly appears that we are headed in that direction today. It is a fact that Christianity is growing rapidly in many areas of the world, while the western world becomes more secularized. Here in our country, Christian voices are being shut down, while the godless become more and more vocal.

We know from Scripture that Israel will be restored to fellowship with God as His chosen people. The Gentile world is warned that disregard for Israel will be judged and punished. It is also clear that a set number of Gentiles (non-Jews) will become followers of God before Jesus returns.

God said to Abram (later named Abraham), “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). As I see some in our government calling for boycotting Israel, I want to say, “you don’t know what you are getting yourselves into.”

God withdrew His blessing from Israel because of their disobedience, and gave Gentile believers the responsibility for sharing God’s plan of salvation, but He will restore the Jews to their intended position as His chosen. We must be faithful to stand for the truth of the gospel, and to defend Israel until the Lord returns to take us all to glory.

For His glory,

Pastor Jerry

The Word of the Lord

Hello friends,
It’s time for another of our weekly conversations. Things have been going well here, we had a little rain and the temperatures have been tolerable. The garden plants are beginning to give us hope of some fresh veggies in the near future. We have had one small zucchini, and more are coming along. Beans are ready to pick and we have had a few green onions. Did I mention cucumbers? We will be enjoying them soon, also. Sunday, we attended church at Grace Bible Church, and enjoyed a fellowship meal afterward. We found some new roads on our way back home, but this is not unusual for us!

Regarding spiritual matters, I have been seeing articles referencing a trend in which high profile Christians have announced they are leaving the traditional evangelical church. The term being used is ‘exvangelical.’ The Scriptures long ago identified this trend, where people would follow false teachers and be led astray by false doctrine.

Many of these people started out believing God’s word as it was given to us. Then when the culture started to insist that marriage could be something other than between a man and a woman, and all kinds of other sinful behaviors were okay, it wasn’t popular to hold to those beliefs. Rather than stand on the Word, they said “God really didn’t mean what he said, that book is outdated, and we have to get with the new way of looking at these things.”

Hear the Word of the Lord!
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17).

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).
“God is not a man, that he might lie, or a son of man that he might change his mind. Does he speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Count on it: God’s Word is true.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Godly Living

Hello all,
Last week was a welcome change from the busyness of the previous one. We did receive about a half-inch of rain, but missed all the nasty stuff. The heat was the biggest issue for us. As I write this, we are experiencing a cool morning, with a forecast high of 74 degrees. During our camping trip last week, I discovered our kitchen faucet was leaking, so this week I replaced it. I am sure the ones who designed the camper had never tried replacing a faucet in their old age.

Shout out to some old friends who camped at Lake Ericson last week. It was good to catch up with you for a couple of hours. Have a good rest of the summer!

Did you know there are passages of the Bible that describe our time? Does any of this sound familiar?
Concerning the last days: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

The apostle Paul also describes those who reject God in this way; “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree… they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32).

To the Christian, Peter writes; “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter1:14-15). “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, although they accuse you of wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Finally, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who correctly handles the truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Standing on His unchanging Word,
Pastor Jerry

Seeing, or Just Looking?

Dear friends,
Everyone at the lake is preparing for the Fourth of July celebration. Saturday morning, the comment was made that the lake front is looking very nice already. It takes dedicated volunteers to make that happen, and we are grateful for each and every one.

Very often, things need to be examined for possible problems, looking to see if there is something that has been overlooked. Maybe it is knowing that a piece of equipment isn’t working as it is supposed to, then one day a light comes on in your mind, and you see a problem you had not recognized. Here are a couple of examples from my week.

Lesson one: For longer than I should admit, I’ve known one of our outside water hydrants needed attention. The seal around the shutoff was leaking when the water was on. Monday, I decided to make repairs. I discovered it had been leaking under the house, and to delay was no longer an option. After a trip to town, and some time to make the repairs, all was well.

Lesson two: The kitchen cold water volume has been lower than the hot side for a long time. I could not figure it out, until just a few days ago. In an act of desperation, I looked under the sink one more time, and saw that the supply line to the cold side was a quarter inch line, as opposed to a half inch on the hot side. Eureka! How did I not see this before? Another trip to town, problem solved.

It is very much the same with our spiritual walk. Now and then, we need to stop and see if we are missing something that is right in front of us. All of us, if we were being honest, could say yes I need to check my life and see if I’m truly walking as the Lord wants me to. Here are a few verses to help us get started.

Psalm 26:2 Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
Lamentations 3:40; Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 13:5; Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
1 Peter 1:15; But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry