Archive for the ‘Possessions’ Category

Getting or Giving?

Hello friends,
We have endured another week of very mild temperatures. Somehow, I feel we will pay for these at some point. It has been good for putting up those remaining outdoor Christmas decorations, though.

I’m doing something different this week. Since Black Friday and all the other special shopping days are past, I thought it might be helpful to think about the following article from the “Babylon Bee”, a satirical news site that pokes fun at current culture.

Headline: Nation Repents of Thanksgiving with Day of Violent Pillaging
U.S.—Unable to fake contentment and thankfulness for one more second, citizens across the nation awoke Friday and immediately set out on a frenzied mission to violently pillage and strip bare all nearby retail locations, determined to acquire any discounted goods they desired, by any means necessary, numerous reports confirmed.

Pillagers beat each other with various weapons and instruments, wrestled on the floor like animals, and even exchanged gunfire in some locations, all in the name of taking hold of material goods they desired.
Sources confirmed that the unfettered violence occurred less than 24 hours after these same people sat around tables with family and friends, over large meals, and gave thanks for the many blessings in their lives.

“12 hours of gratefulness annually is way too much for the majority of humankind to stomach,” experts revealed amidst the day’s chaos. “What we see on Black Friday is just human nature’s standard, guttural reaction to the annual tradition of acting like the world does not revolve around them for one whole day.”

Here is what Jesus said about this kind of behavior: Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4).
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after such things, and you Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:29-31).

Perhaps this might give us pause, as we consider the real meaning of Christmas in the days ahead.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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The Gift

Hello friends,
It is the last week of November. The Thanksgiving leftovers are almost gone, and after being thankful for God’s blessings of the past year, we can now concentrate on celebrating the greatest gift ever given, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Christmas lights are up at the Lake, and if you are in the area, it is worth driving out to see them. As the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The past few days have been unseasonably warm, so it may be harder to think Christmas. However, there are only four weeks until Christmas, and then a brand new year. As I look back, I see many changes in the past year, and I don’t believe they were all positive. That is not to say there was nothing positive, just that those things were less noticeable.

We are reminded at this time of year, that God came to earth in human form, to set in motion His plan to redeem a sinful, fallen world. There was a quote in our church bulletin this morning that said, “It is really sad how much of our time, effort and energies are captured by the cultural busyness of Christmastime, rather than the core of the Advent story. We allow Christmas to be more about created stuff than it is about the incarnation of the Creator. We’ve turned the story on its head.”

Here is a refresher, just in case anyone might need it:
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 (John 3:16).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

The apostle Paul, in reminding the church at Corinth of the gospel, wrote this, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Yours,
Pastor Jerry

Thinking About Crowns

Hello all,
We enjoyed spending three nights at Hall County Park last week. The doctor appointments went well, with good reports. We spent some time shopping, visiting cousins, and just relaxing. It was a good time.

I made a trip to the dentist recently. Earlier, I had a checkup, and discovered that I needed a crown. First came preparing the tooth, then the temporary crown was cemented in place. Two weeks later, I was back for my permanent crown. This started me thinking about crowns.

There are many types of crowns, from those worn by royalty, to figurative crowns, such as reaching the top of the corporate ladder, winning athletic contests, and so on. All of these crowns are temporary and fleeting.

The Bible speaks of various crowns that are given by the Lord to his faithful followers. There are several passages of scripture that describe and name these crowns.

The apostle Paul writes near the end of his life: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim 4:8).

James, in his letter to persecuted believers: ‘’Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

In the context of running a race, Paul says this: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:25). Also, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Peter also speaks of a crown that awaits the faithful Christian: “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).

The Lord Jesus, speaking to the church at Smyrna: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:12). Finally, to all who believe, Jesus says this: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

Anticipating,
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

On Possessions

We have appreciated the cooler weather of the last few days. I have no personal fishing report yet, although I did see some really nice largemouth bass that two ladies had caught Friday afternoon.

I find we are still having to deal with years of collecting things we thought we had to have. In fact, due to the amount of stuff we still possess, we have purchased another piece of property here at the lake. We will now have a place to keep our “overflow”, that is the tractor and its attachments, the little pontoon boat, golf cart, etc. This does not mean we have found the answer to the problem of having these things, downsizing must continue.

I am continually reminded of scripture that warns of letting material goods take first place in our lives. Note: It’s not my wife that keeps reminding me, she has stuff, too. Could it be the Spirit of God tapping me on the shoulder, saying “enough already”?

As I talk with other people, I find we are not the only ones dealing with the abundance of things not needed. Many of us are having this struggle. What is the answer to this? God’s word has some suggestions.

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Jesus, speaking to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21). “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In the follow-up to his story of the rich man who built more bins to hold his grain, Jesus had this advice for his disciples, “Therefore 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” (Luke 12:22-23).

Here is a final thought on this subject. I read this statement a few years ago, and it comes to mind now. “Someday, all your valued possessions will fit in a small drawer in some nursing home.”

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Ready or Not?

The storm last week left us with an estimated 12” of snow here in our back yard. I thought I was prepared for snow, but my preparations were incomplete. I had put the snow-blower on the tractor, but instead of putting the tractor in the shed, I let it sit out. Big Mistake! Next morning, I could hardly see the tractor for the snow piled on top of it.
It seems many of our preparations stop short of being complete. Here is an another example of something that happens occasionally at our house. I enjoy cooking now and then. My meal planning usually involves meat and potatoes, but when those items are nearly ready, my wife will ask, “What are we going to have for a vegetable? Incomplete preparation on my part—again. So we wait for the veggies, while the meat and taters cool.
 Some lack of preparation may bring temporary inconvenience or discomfort, but what about our preparations for eternity? Is it possible to make incomplete plans for what happens after this life? I believe there are many who believe there is life after death, but sadly, their plans for it have come short of completion.
Three of the gospel writers recorded a conversation Jesus had with a young man. The man’s question was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
“All these I have kept”, the young man said. What do I still lack?”
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22).
You see, keeping the 10 commandments does not bring salvation. First of all, it is impossible to keep them, and second, eternal life is not gained by keeping a list of rules. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The young man in our story had made incomplete preparations, and was unwilling to do the one thing required. That one thing was to be willing to give up everything and follow Jesus. Since he would not complete the requirement, he was lost.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Leave It There

It’s Monday again, and time for another news update and devotional thought. I would never have believed, when I started composing these articles, that I would still be doing it. Thanks to all who have encouraged me along the way.

We are still in the moving process. I believe one never has a true understanding of how many things we accumulate until we try to move it from one place to another. I was told yesterday of a man who said everyone should put their place up for sale every ten years. The point is you may or may not sell it, but you will get it cleaned up. Wise words, I believe.

I am reminded once more of those Bible passages that speak of being unhindered in our Christian journey. The writer of Hebrews gives the illustration of an athlete running a race, leaving behind the things that slow him down and hinder his best effort. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). You get the picture.

The things that weigh us down and hinder our journey are many. Perhaps it is a load of guilt, or some sin that goes unconfessed that keeps us from being all that a Christian can be. Other burdens we may bear are jealousy, unforgiveness, anger, resentment, worry, and any number of others. Jesus encourages us to bring them to him, to come and leave them at the foot of the cross, as it were. Our problem most of the time, is that we lay our burdens down, then pick them up again when we leave. As we allow Him to remove those heavy loads we are carrying, we are able to live as free men and women. These are Jesus’ words; “You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Allow me to quote the words of an old hymn:
“Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
Leave it there, leave it there,
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there;
If you trust and never doubt,
He will surely bring you out—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry