Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

What is Hope?

Dear friends,
There has been some spring planting going on here at our little slice of heaven. So far, we have enlarged one flower bed, planted some new shrubs, some flowers, and put a few tomato plants in the garden area. This is not my favorite kind of work, but it’s worth it to see the smile on my bride’s face when it is done. There are still some seeds to be planted in the raised beds, mostly beans and cucumbers. I did consent to one zucchini plant, which is a first for me. On a personal note, we also have one eggplant.

There seems to be an epidemic of hopelessness in our country. I don’t know if it is related to the stresses of the Covid19 pandemic, or a combination of causes, but I believe there is a solution to this attitude of hopelessness. Some might argue that there is no one answer to the problem, and they would probably be right. I can tell you from experience that placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go far toward combating the hopelessness that sometimes overwhelms our minds and bodies.

The idea of hope is often presented as a feeling that what is wanted will happen. True hope, as presented in the Bible, is a settled fact that something promised will come to pass. It can be described as trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Christians live in hope for two basic reasons. The first is because of what God has done in Christ. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). The second reason is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).

Given the assurance of hope, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage. Christian hope is the gift of God. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

From my own experience, I can testify to the truth of this hope we have in Christ Jesus. Christ is the answer to hopelessness, but sadly many people, particularly the young, haven’t heard of him. If you are feeling hopeless today, come to Jesus.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Our Rock and Salvation

Hello friends,
Winter has returned to the area. This means snow and more snow, with very cold temperatures. For most of you this is not news; for the rest, enjoy the weather you are experiencing. Monday morning, I will be taking our alley cat to the vet for some surgery. This is the cat who adopted us last summer. She had kittens in our carport, and she wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told her to take them elsewhere. The kittens are gone, and now she has taken up residence in the house. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After last week’s column, I had several well-meaning, and encouraging suggestions for continuing to share my thoughts with you. I will keep writing, as long as the Lord gives me the strength and inspiration to do so. Thanks to all who take the time to read these articles each week.

The cultural and political landscape continues to be of concern for God’s people. There is much that gives us cause to wonder what next? Rather than allow all that to negatively affect our view of the current time, along with worrying what the future might bring, we need to focus on the Lord. There are two Psalms that have encouraged me through difficult times in the past. I would like to share parts of them with you this week.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Find rest, O my soul, In God alone; my hope comes from him
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7).

I will extoll the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:1-6).

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Stormy Weather

Dear friends,
We are living in stormy times. I say this partly because of the prediction of another winter storm coming our way. The past week has been colder, with some sunshine early in the week. The last couple of days have been cloudy, but with light winds. Such is winter in Nebraska. For those who live here, we understand this is part of the journey to springtime weather.

It is a stormy time in our country and culture, as well. We wonder what lies ahead, and to be honest, we can become discouraged as we see the storm clouds gathering. The disciples of Jesus were crossing the sea in a boat and got caught in a severe storm. There is a lesson here for us as we face the storms of life.

From Luke 8:22-25, we read: One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke Him saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, all was calm. “Where is your faith?” He asked His disciples
In fear and amazement, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him.”

In the middle of the storm, they forgot who was in the boat with them. They had seen evidence of His power over creation by the miracles he had done, yet there in the middle of the wind and waves, they panicked.

Isn’t this what we are prone to do? We commit to following Jesus, but when the storms roll in, we forget that He is present in the stormy weather, as well in the sunny days. He is our Rock and our Salvation in the good times and the bad.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Right Focus

Hello friends,
The weather last week was interesting, to say the least. With the wind that came, it is a very good thing the snow wasn’t any deeper. We were on the road the day after the storm, and found some county roads to the west of us that were a little drifted, and still unopened. Outside of that the remainder of the roads were just slushy. As far as the week ahead, there is talk of snow, we just don’t know the details

A year ago, we were anticipating what the year 2020 was going to bring. Little did we know what that was going to look like! Now, we are facing the year 2021, with some of those 2020 problems still hanging around. With the Covid 19 pandemic, and the unsettled political scene, we wonder what will come along next? This is to say nothing of what we might consider everyday challenges to our lives. One thing to keep in mind, as an acquaintance of mine recently wrote, “Viruses, economics, politics and people seldom change because the calendar page turned over. He continues, “we’re going to have to have something more substantial to look forward to than a new date on the calendar.”

It is fine to anticipate turning the calendar to another year, but if we look to that as an answer to all our problems, we will be sadly disappointed.

The apostle Paul reminds us not to live in the past, but to keep our eyes on our heavenly home… “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

I’m reminded of what Jesus says about worry. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

Without a focus on eternity, the next year may bring only disappointment. But if you have Christ in your life, the near future is only a step toward your final destination, which is eternal fellowship with the Savior. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don’t be distracted by the immediate.

“Unless we purposely live with a view to the next world, we cannot make much out of our present existence.” – Charles Spurgeon

Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry

Angry Words

Merry Christmas!
I know, for those who get this on Monday it’s a bit premature, but we’ve been saying it since Thanksgiving, and will for a few more days.

As I sift through the many Facebook posts I see every day, I try not to read the comments. One reason is this; if I start reading all of them, my blood pressure begins to rise. Pretty soon, I am as angry as those who are posting. It doesn’t take too long to see that this is not good. It is best for me to resist the urge to get involved in the conversation.

I copied the following paragraph from a devotional I receive each week. I thought it would be a good introduction for this week’s commentary, since we are celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace.

Quote: “I was on Facebook, arguing. Bad move. What made me think I was obligated to “correct” a stranger on a hot topic—especially a divisive one? The results were heated words, hurt feelings (on my part anyway), and a broken opportunity to witness well for Jesus. That’s the sum outcome of “internet anger.” It’s the term for the harsh words flung daily across the blogosphere. As one ethics expert explained, people wrongly conclude that rage “is how public ideas are talked about.” End of quote.

Paul’s wise advice to Timothy gave the same caution. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:23-24).

Romans 12: 17-18; Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If It is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Here are two verses we memorized as a church many years ago: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).

I pray we can all have a joyous and peaceful celebration of the Savior’s birth. As my mama would have written it…

Merrie Christmas to all,
Pastor Jerry

Peaceful Sleep

Dear readers,
Here we have another camping fiasco, complete with AC that doesn’t, plans gone awry, and tense moments between the ‘happy’ campers! Oh, this too, shall pass. In the future, the planner will probably plan ahead, that is until the memory of this trip fades in the affected minds. Given the frailty of the aging memory, it will probably happen again somewhere down the road. Every outing becomes a new adventure!

I was scheduled to provide pulpit supply on Sunday, but when we arrived at our intended campsite, we were informed that it wasn’t available, due to a county fair being held there (and, of course, the virus being an issue). We did get to park at friends from the church there, so it worked out for good. As I write this Sunday evening, we are in an RV park near Kearney. I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday at 1 pm. This is a follow up from my last procedure, and I hope the last for a while.

Sunday’s message was built on the idea that, no matter how crazy the world gets we can depend on God to always be there for us. We are not to worry or to be anxious about anything. Neither are we to be (to use the Christian term for worry), “concerned” with the things we cannot control.

Do you lie awake at night because the wheels of your mind won’t stop turning? Listen to these words from Psalm 16:7-9; “I will bless the Lord who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I will always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely.” [CSB (Christian Standard Bible)].

As we rest in God’s protecting arms, we can say as the psalmist, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence (think virus) that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:4-6).

Final thought; Worry is like riding a stationary bicycle, it gives you something to do, but you never get anywhere!

Trust in God,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Worry

Hello all,
Another week has gone by, and another month is almost gone. Soon we will be half-way through 2020. It has been an interesting year, for sure. Someone suggested we put up our Christmas trees and call an end to 2020. I’m not sure it would work, but I understand the sentiment.

These are troubled times in our country, and in the bigger picture, around the world. This is really nothing new, but perhaps on a bigger scale than we have seen for some time. Troubled times come and go, and rest assured, our God is not surprised by any of it. I am convinced that much of this unrest comes from the fact that we, as a people, have gotten so far from God. Very few care for anyone but themselves, and many care very little about the other guy.

I have to keep returning to the scriptures for reassurance and encouragement. We tend to worry about these things, but the Lord has told us not to worry. Faith will carry us through these difficult times, but no one has ever said it is easy. When Jesus came walking on the water, as the disciple were in the storm, Peter stepped out of the boat, but as he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-31). I think we are in that kind of situation currently, but let us keep focused on the Savior, instead of the storm around us.

His words to the disciples were, and are; “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of the is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:6-7).

One of Jesus’ most direct teaching on worry is this: “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26).

Standing on the promises of God,
Pastor Jerry

The Source of Real Peace

Dear friends,
In the past, we talked about the weather and asked, ‘how is the family’? These days, the question is, “are you staying well?” I trust everyone who reads this is well, and making the best of our current circumstances. There are days when, as a friend of mine remarked several years ago, it seems “the world has gone mad!” With the pandemic, and now the protests, rioting and looting, it seems that insanity rules in the minds of many. We must pray for calm heads to prevail, and for people to see that the current state of mind will not solve anything. We must pray that all people would know Christ.

We ask for peace in our country, and we need that peace. The problem is that the peace offered by the world is not true peace, nor is it lasting. Only by having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, can we know real peace. Jesus, as he spoke to His disciples said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). As he prepared them for His departure, and to encourage them in the days to come, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Paul, writing to the church at Philippi said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

These are unsettled times. In the time of Jesus and His disciples, things were unsettled. Persecution came upon the early Christians, such as we in America have not seen. Their faith in Christ gave them peace in their hearts, and the hope of eternity.

As we seek peace in our time, may we make peace with God by trusting His Son for our salvation. Remember, without Jesus in our hearts, we are enemies of God. Scripture says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:21).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

Reaching Out

Dear friends,
I trust everyone is looking forward to the time we can begin some semblance of the life we once knew. I know I am. I’m sure there is light at the end of this tunnel, but at this point it is rather dim. Sunday church services held on Facebook, or by way of Zoom and other electronic media is okay, but there is nothing like worshiping together in person. Period.

“Reaching Out” is one of the culture’s new catch-phrases. Originally, it seems to have been used as the description for extending a helping hand to someone in need. Today, it is used more often to describe trying to get something from someone, as in, “Our reporter tried to reach out to the attorney, but her calls were not returned.”

In this season of trial that is known as the Covid19 pandemic, I would like us to consider this idea of reaching out, from a biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel was given this message from God; “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays” (Ezekiel 34:15-16a).

In the New Testament, we have the words of Jesus; “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). This is God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, reaching out to all who are lost in sin with a message of salvation. The Lord is reaching out to lost people today. This is his invitation from Matthew 11:28… “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

If, in this stressful time, you are feeling helpless, burdened down with your troubles, and in bondage to sin, you can reach for his outstretched hand and he will lift you up into his loving arms. I’m drawn to a verse from the pen of David, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:10). Here is another, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

I leave you with this thought; For peace of mind in these troubled times, reach out to Jesus, He is reaching out to you.

In His amazing grace,
Pastor Jerry