Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

God Helps the Helpless

Hello friends,
As I write this, it is 54 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze. There are geese resting along the shore of Lake Ericson, and I’m thinking of warmer days to come. Those who are interested in the ground hog are predicting an early spring, but the near forecast calls for the return of winter weather. The truth is, only God knows. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for that early spring.

Here is an interesting bit of information from my reading this past week. According to Barna research, 82 percent of Americans believe that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is a Bible verse. Before blaming the biblical illiteracy of our post-Christian nation, you should know that more than half of practicing Christians thought the same.

First of all, if we could help ourselves, we would never see the need for a Savior. Scripture plainly tells us that without Jesus, we can do nothing. No amount of self-help will save us from our sins, or gain favor with God. Four times in Isaiah, God says, “Apart from me, there is no God, or savior.” In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The writer of Hebrews says without faith it is impossible to please God.

There is more; The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations (Psalm 98:2). Romans 1:17… “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteousness will live by faith’”. No one will be declared righteous by their own works, only by faith in Jesus Christ.

God has revealed himself though His Son Jesus Christ, but also through His written word, the Bible. I quote, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17)

From Psalm 119; “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word… Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens… Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119: 81, 89, 105).

Remember, if we want to know what the Good Book says, we need to read it for ourselves. Don’t depend on hearsay.

Standing on the Word,
Pastor Jerry

Not an Accident

This weather continues to defy any definition of normal. We went from extreme heat and humidity, to almost cool enough to wear a sweater in the space of about 48 hours. This morning (Sunday), I awoke to thunder and lightning, followed by some serious rain. My gauge showed .60 after it was over. I left early for a preaching engagement, and drove in rain for a good part of the way. Further south, I read reports of up to four inches of rain. I am glad for the cool-down, but I am certain that our hot weather will return.

There is a volunteer sunflower growing out of a flower pot in our back yard. I believe a seed fell from a bird feeder last winter and sprouted this spring. The plant has a nice blossom at the top, and I assume there will be more bird seed when it ripens. It reminds me of the old saying, “bloom where you are planted.”

I believe God “plants” people in specific places, at specific times, in order to fulfill His purpose for those individuals. At the same time, he uses them to make a difference in the lives of others. If we think about it in this context, no one is where they are by accident.

Looking back, I see points in my life’s journey when the only explanation that makes any sense is that God was using people and events to guide me to the place where I could see that I needed a Savior. Each time there was a change of location, a different job, or some other event, I am pretty sure I thought those were my plans. I have learned over time, that God’s plan for my life may or may not include my plans.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9). Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

The sunflower in the pot may seem to have been planted by accident, but God had a plan for it. Be like that sunflower. You are not where you are in life by chance or by accident. It is part of God’s plan for you. Bloom where you are planted, and if He uproots you and transplants you somewhere else, grow, bear fruit!

Be blessed,
Pastor Jerry

Landmarks

Hello friends,
I trust your Thanksgiving celebration was enjoyable, and you were able to count great numbers of blessings from the past year. We made a couple of road trips, traveling to South Dakota on Wednesday, to help Alex as he moves into a different house closer to school and work. Thursday, we joined with some other folks for a Thanksgiving meal and great fellowship, then on Friday to Neligh to celebrate with Ryan and the three grandsons.

We all have them; those places that we use to mark roads, or to remind us of some event in the past. As we traveled highway 281 north of O’Neill last Wednesday, we passed what is known locally as the “stone windmill.” I remarked that it was falling down with the passage of time. I thought of other landmarks I have known. Most have disappeared, but they seem to be always replaced with another name, or another object. Those places and events of life, seem to require some sort of marker for those who pass their way.

Growing up, where our county road connected to the major highway, there was a stone house. Everyone told people unfamiliar with the area to turn at the ‘stone house.’ Eventually, the old house was torn down, and being eight miles from town, the intersection became the eight-mile road.

In another place, three large cottonwood trees marked a t-intersection. Travelers were instructed to turn at the three-tree corner. After the road department cut those trees down, three more volunteer cottonwoods were allowed to grow up in their place. It is still the three-tree corner.

Other, more familiar landmarks have stood for many years, but show the wear and tear of erosion and other changes. I’m reminded of Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, among others. Landmarks may disappear, but we find replacements. In this age of GPS, people still need those landmarks to keep them on the right road.

The Bible can be compared to a landmark. Its purpose being to show the lost the way to salvation, and for helping to keep God’s people on the right path.

If I may paraphrase Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, landmarks disappear, but the word of God stands forever.” As the old song says, “The Bible stands, like a rock, undaunted.” When all other landmarks are gone, the Bible stands.

Standing on the promises,
Pastor Jerry

Planning for Eternity

Our week started out rather nice, but by Thursday there was a radical change in the weather. We experienced snow for the second time in recent weeks. Friday morning, the temperature here was 13 degrees, with a stiff northwest breeze. I am definitely not ready for this.

The election is over now, and whether or not you are satisfied with the result, this is still the best place in the world to live, in my humble opinion. We are still a free society, and have freedoms that are not available in many parts of the world. Let us not take those freedoms for granted.

I have a habit of reading the obituary page of the newspaper. One phrase I see now and then, is that a person died unexpectedly. I suppose it is that the person died without warning. No one really expects to die, even though we know it is a part of life.

Knowing that we will pass from this life at some point in time, the question should be, am I ready to die? What preparations have I made for this event? Many people do estate planning, purchase cemetery plots, and make funeral arrangements in advance. But how many stop to consider where they will spend eternity?

There seems to be a general lack of concern for what lies beyond this life. Most people, I believe, just live in the here and now, with little thought of anything beyond. The truth is that there is life after death, and everyone will spend eternity somewhere. The Bible gives two destinations. One is heaven, the other is hell. There are some who believe in heaven, but think they will be allowed in because of their good deeds, and that they are in better standing with God than others they know. Some claim hell will be their destination, after all their friends will be there. Still others believe there will be opportunity to choose, after they die.

The Bible says this: Man is destined to die once, and after that, to face judgment. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, there is no other name by which we must be saved. Now is the day of salvation.

No one is promised tomorrow. Where will you spend eternity if you should ‘die unexpectedly’? Make those preparations now. Place your faith and trust in the Savior.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Destinations

Hello friends,
We took another trip with the camper this week. As usual, it turned into another adventure on the less traveled road. We left last Sunday afternoon, not knowing for sure where we were going, or which road to take. We headed west out of Ericson, and had not gone far when the decision was made to go west of Taylor to Dunning, then take highway 2 to Thedford, where we stayed the night. Monday morning, it was on the road again, destination Crawford and Fort Robinson. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent just taking in the sights at the fort, with a side trip to check out Chadron State Park. Wednesday morning, we headed east on Highway 20, had lunch in Ainsworth with an old friend, and decided to overnight at Keller Park, northeast of Ainsworth.

Going there, once again I trusted my phone to show me a different route. This was not the road less traveled, it was the road seldom traveled! It became a narrow trail down a section line, leading to nowhere. Here is a tip: Off-road travel with a fifth-wheel camper is not a recommended activity. After abandoning Google Maps, we eventually made it to the highway, and the state park. We enjoyed a quiet evening and night, arriving back home in late afternoon Thursday. I’m sure we’ll be content to stay home for a while.

On a more somber note, we have seen in the last few days and weeks, the passing away of a cousin of Milrae’s, and several old friends and neighbors from home. I am reminded almost daily that we have no guarantee of another day, and of the fact that we need to make plans for eternity.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). At the end of the book we read, “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. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Today is the day of salvation. Do not delay. Trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Weather Watcher

Here we are in the sixth month of 2018, already. Can you believe the year is almost half over? The Lord has provided more rain this week, meaning we will have lawns to mow later. There were some weather advisories up for a time Friday evening, prompting the placing of some hail screen over Mama’s tomato plants and cucumbers, and some potted posies were put indoors. I have heard reports, or at least rumors of some severe weather in the area, but none here. The plants are safe, at least for the time being.

While thinking about weather related subjects, I’m reminded of that period in time, when I was starting out running the ranch on my own. In haying season, I was forever trying to outguess the weather. Was it going to rain, or would it be dry for a few days, so we could mow and bale the hay? What did the forecast say? Could I depend on those meteorologists to know what would happen? It seemed I was always on the fence about what to do.

This was about the time I started paying more attention to the Lord, and what he had to say about living life. Once, during my Bible reading time, I came across a few verses that changed my whole outlook on this matter of weather, and it affected what I was doing. Let me share those words with you.

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well” (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6).

What a wakeup call! Instead of worrying about the weather, I was to plant the seed, mow the hay, put the bulls with the cows on schedule, and trust God with the results. Suddenly, I was free from worrying about things over which I had no control.

I will leave you with this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Milestones

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning as I write this. Across the street, the carousel sits empty, showing no signs of the graduation party held last evening for our grandson Alex, as we celebrated with friends and family from near and far. Thanks to all who helped with set-up and clean-up. Those who brought food, and those who came to partake. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day. The Lord gets the credit for providing a perfect day. Our congratulations to Alex, and to all his classmates on a job well done, with best wishes for the future.

Thus ends another chapter in our lives. It wasn’t a chapter I would have written if I was writing the book, but still, I wouldn’t want it to be any different. That is the neat thing about letting God write your life story. As we look back, we understand he always has the best plan. I’ve always said if you think following God will be boring, you are mistaken. The Christian life lived in obedience to God is nothing less than an exciting adventure. Boring? Not!

Proverbs are wise sayings, not necessarily promises, but here are a few: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3); In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Prov. 16:9); Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Prov. 19:21).

There is also this promise to the those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Notice this is for those who love him, it is not a blanket promise to all people.

We will wait to see what the Lord has in store for us, but in the meantime, the camper is waiting, and we plan to spend a little time enjoying some of our state’s attractions. But, as noted, our plans are subject to God’s will and purpose. As it says in James’ little epistle, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow… Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Be blessed in all you do,
Pastor Jerry