Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

The Call: Part One

Cool fall temperatures have arrived. The last few mornings have been reminders of winter’s reality. I have seen significant snowfall in early to mid-October before, but I hope it is a little longer before we seen any of the white stuff.

In these troubled times, one wonders how to respond to what is going on around us. May I suggest that these events are part of God’s plan, and that it may be that their purpose is to make us think about our future. It could be God is calling us to make a choice.

If you believe God exists, and I do; then believe that he calls people in two ways. First, to be saved from the penalty of sin. His second call is to a life of service. Today we will look at this first call God makes on a person’s life.

Jesus said this; “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).

The prophet Joel spoke these words, repeated by Peter; “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:15). When asked by the crowd at Pentecost what they should do, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Peter, again, when called before the religious leaders, said of Jesus Christ: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

These are Jesus’ words in John 14:6; “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

We read this in Romans 10:9-13; That 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… Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame… 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.”

In all these verses, the Lord is calling you to salvation. Have you answered his call? If not, then why not today?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

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God’s Comforting Presence

We all know summer will end at some point. Wednesday morning, the temperature here was in the low 40’s. This is more than a subtle reminder; it might be seen more as a wake-up call.

The news lately has been much about fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. What is a person to think?

First of all, God allows these things to happen. Not for judgment, as some would have us to believe, but because of Adam and Eve sinning, i.e., disobeying God, creation is broken. Therefore, these calamities happen to all people at one time or another. As we see these things happening, we should be in prayer for those affected. Next time, we might be the one ‘standing in the need of prayer’, as the old song says.

As many of you know, our little dog has been deaf since we got her, and lately she has become blind. In spite of these things, we still communicate with her, mostly by touch. Except, at mealtime, when her sense of smell plays a large part. Along with what I might call side-effects of these things, she seems to be more anxious when she doesn’t know where we are. However, when she lies beside us in a chair or on the sofa, she is relaxed and usually sleeps

The other day, I was thinking about her situation, and it occurred to me this is a bit like us and God. We don’t see him or hear him, but we sense his presence many times just by his touch. It might be the hand of a friend, or some quiet, small voice that we don’t really hear, or maybe a passage of scripture, but we know it is him. And even though we don’t physically see or hear him, we know he is there. It is called faith and trust.

In our dog, I see a picture of Christians who, when they don’t see or hear God’s presence, become agitated and uneasy. Perhaps if we could picture ourselves sheltered in his arms, or sitting beside him on the sofa, we would be more at ease in our circumstance.

Here are some comforting scriptures:
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a).
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4).

Trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

Following

Things are beginning to return to normal around here. Last weekend was busy, with a Saturday wedding in Grand Island, and preaching in Burwell on Sunday. Most of this week has involved getting rested and recharged. The lake campgrounds are staying busy, with tankers and others who appreciate the good life here.

If you are involved at all with social media, you know about following. We follow everything; blogs, tweets, snaps, pages, and yes, people. In fact, followers are at an all-time high. People will do anything for a follow, if you have watched any YouTube videos, you know what I mean.

In the Bible, Jesus invites us to follow Him, but following Jesus is more than liking a page or a group, it is responding to a call. To His disciples and to us, he says, “come follow me” (Matthew 4:19). He said these words to some fishermen, and their response is recorded in the next verse; “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” This should be our response to his call.

The Bible tells us that we all follow someone, and the identity of the one calling us determines how we follow. Jesus said of his followers, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). In another place, He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We are told that following Jesus will bring us salvation from sin, give us eternal life, and enable us to live holy lives.

On the contrary, those who follow false teachers and the ways of the world will reap judgment, and spend eternity in hell, separated from God. The apostle Paul, had much to say about those who refuse to follow Him. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8).

Following someone on social media doesn’t require anything more than a mouse click or touching a screen. No commitment is needed. Following Jesus is a life-long journey that leads to peace, righteousness, and true lasting joy. Who are you following today?

Following Jesus,
Pastor Jerry

In All Things, Give Thanks

Our temperatures have cooled over the last week. This is good news to many people. It seemed as if our air conditioner ran continuously for weeks. There was beneficial rain here at the lake this week, but just a few miles from here, the hail destroyed corn and soybeans over a large area. I can remember a time at the ranch, when it hailed in late July, and our corn stalks were about 4 feet tall after the storm passed.

Life is filled with new experiences, no matter what age we are. I don’t know if it was something I needed, but I have experienced a case of the shingles virus. Everything you have heard is true. These things are miserable. The good news is that there are medicines to lessen the symptoms. I am gradually getting better, but much slower than I would like. The point I would make is this; even in these kinds of setbacks, God is involved. I have to admit, I have a tendency to ask why me; when the proper question would be, why not me? After all, what would I have that should allow me to escape the things that befall others?

It has been said (somewhere), that God is with us, both in the storm, and in fair weather. Whether the crops fail, or our health turns from bad to good, He is always there. We may wonder, and we may doubt, but in His word, He says, “Never will I ever leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

I posted a passage from the Old Testament this week, that has always reminded me to give thanks in all circumstances. I’ll share it again for those who might have missed it.

First a little background: The prophet Habakkuk was complaining to the Lord because of the violence, injustice and oppression Israel was experiencing. What God revealed to Habakkuk caused the prophet to stand in awe of God, and ask for mercy. As he understands what God is about to bring upon the land, the prophet says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoicing,
Pastor Jerry

God is Calling

As some of you know, we went “back home” yesterday, back to the neighborhood where we spent over 40 years of our married life. I had the blessing of sharing God’s word at our old church, and it was good to visit old friends. It was encouraging to see that the church is alive and well there, with young families making up a good part of the congregation.

My message concerned the call of God on the lives of individuals. I’d like to share a few highlights from that message for this week’s column.

There are at least two ways God calls people to himself. The first and most important is the call to salvation. This is a call to see our sinfulness, the need to confess that sin, to ask God’s forgiveness, and to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

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…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13).

The second call of God to the believer, is to serve Him. For some, it might be a call to pastoral ministry, or to some mission field. But for the vast majority, it is to serve in the local church or maybe to just share your story with a neighbor or with your friends. I don’t believe anyone who has chosen to follow Christ has the option of sitting on the sidelines waiting for others to do the work.

Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). Jesus’ command to his disciples is, “Come, follow me.”

Oh, God won’t force you to do anything. He has given us free will, but he might make it uncomfortable to be disobedient. Jonah ended up inside a big fish until he agreed to obey God. I believe no one is completely satisfied in this life unless he has Jesus in his heart, and is willfully serving God in some way.

In His service,
Pastor Jerry

Rough Water

I had a new experience this week. I made a short journey down the Cedar River by kayak. I’m pretty sure I won’t be repeating that journey for a while. I now know that mode of river travel is for the young, as it obviously takes a bit more conditioning than I have. I don’t plan to abandon the kayak altogether, but I will definitely stay on the calm, still water for now.

Thinking about this experience reminds me of life. It is much easier going when things are calm and still, than dealing with strong currents and storms. There is another lesson here, and it is this; It is the storms that help us find our weaknesses and give us insight into changes we need to make.

God uses those storms for his good purpose in our lives. Paul, as he wrote to the believers in Rome, said this: “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 brings perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:2-4).

James wrote, “the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

Here is a reminder; if anyone should tell you that placing your faith in Jesus Christ will end all your problems, don’t believe it! It is a lie from the devil. The believer will encounter trials. It is part of being a follower of Jesus. He said to his disciples, “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).

As we persevere through those storms, and finally finish the race He has marked out for us, we will hear these comforting words; “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Keep paddling, wear your life jacket, and don’t be afraid of a little rough water!
Pastor Jerry

Chasing the Wind

Dear readers,
I’m writing from a different location this week. We are in Grand Island for a couple of follow-up doctor’s appointments. Nothing serious, just keeping up with previous procedures. Now and then, we are able to combine these, and find it a good reason to bring the camper and hang out for a couple of days. Note: Window shopping may be a part of this experience.

The following statement comes as a result of our pastor’s sermon this week. It is interesting to observe people, and the things they do to entertain themselves and otherwise occupy their time. For some, it seems that work is their sole purpose and goal in life. Others work a steady job, but find time for recreation and other outside interests. I see people whose energy and resources are investing in owning and maintaining a home.

As I view these things, I wonder how many people actually do what they do with a biblical viewpoint? What would they say is important from that world-view, and what legacy would they want to leave for their children and grandchildren?

A wise man named Solomon, who lived many years ago, had some thoughts on this topic. He wrote them down in an Old Testament book called Ecclesiastes. Solomon had it all, possessions, riches, wisdom. There was nothing he did not have, nor was there any pleasure in life that he did not experience. Then he wrote these words.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and go, but the earth remains forever. The sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning to its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-7). Then he writes this: “I have seen all things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (verse 14).

Jesus gives us the proper perspective in this statement: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry