Archive for the ‘Possessions’ Category

Priorities

Hello friends,
September is here, and the weather word is cooler. Cool nights and days are signs of things to come, I suppose. Before we know it, the seasons will change again. The big national weather news is the hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Prayers are in order for the folks in the path of this storm.

Now for the devotional thought of the week. Maybe it should be called ‘Why are traditions so hard to give up?”
Why are traditions so hard to give up? It seems like a fair question, and one I had to deal with recently. I have consistently held the view that change is not a bad thing, yet when it becomes personal, I have second thoughts. We hold on to traditions and possessions, as if they hold some special value. If someone comes in and wants to make changes to our comfortable surroundings, we resist their efforts even if they are well-intentioned and make perfect sense. We easily forget that in light of eternity, nothing of this earth matters.

Our old friend King Solomon had something to say about this. Speaking of all the things he had acquired, he wrote, “I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)?

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

To the religious leaders of his time, Jesus said, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men… You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions” (Mark 78-9)!

When earthly possessions and those traditions we hold dear begin to become our focus, rather than our mission as followers of Jesus Christ, we are in danger of idolatry. To paraphrase a message I heard many years ago, when we begin to focus on the things of earth, we have taken our eyes off the cross, and the One who died for us.

Remember, as Christians, we have a greater inheritance waiting in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

He Is Still Lord

Wow! When I wrote last week, that we were going from frozen to flooding, I had no idea what was in store for us. Most of what I wrote then would apply to today, as well. However, with so much destruction from the flooding and the snow storm, we need to go back to the scripture for perspective. I believe God is still sovereign and He knows everything we have gone through and the things we are experiencing now.

We can look at the life of Job, and learn from his response to personal disaster. After losing his family and possessions, Job was still able to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’ (Job 1:21). Even in the middle of disaster, he could praise his Lord.

In Isaiah 43:2, we read this; “I will be with your when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.” These words were written to Israel, but can be seen as a metaphor of God’s protection and help for his people as they pass through times of difficulty.

From the Psalms we read: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1-5).

The book of Hebrews lists many people of faith who lost much, some even losing their lives for their faith in the Lord. After listing those faithful servants of the Lord, we are told, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

It has been said we should hold loosely the things of this world, then it won’t be as painful when they are taken from us. From my own perspective, I have come to believe if the Lord takes something from us, he has something better in mind. I also believe that better thing might not come in this life, but is reserved for us in heaven.

Keep looking up,
Pastor Jerry

What Can You Give?

It has been a good week for us. There were trips to Grand Island, Albion, and Ord. Doctor’s appointments, shopping at Menards and working together on some little projects around the house. Last Sunday, I spoke at a church in Chambers, Nebraska, then made it back home in time for a carry-in dinner and annual business meeting at our church. Next week, I’m off to Loup City to speak at Grace Bible Church, filling in for a friend. I was told recently by another friend; “You ain’t retired.” This was just affirmation of the fact that if you make yourself available to the Lord, he will keep you busy doing his work.

Speaking of doing the Lord’s work, I came across these verses in my daily Bible reading this week. In Exodus, when the tabernacle was being built, Moses had instructed the people to bring offerings of materials for construction. We read this: All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do. At one point, the workers came to Moses and said, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:5-7)

Now, I know of no preacher who has ever said to his congregation, “Don’t bring anything else as an offering to the Lord’s work, we already have more than enough.” There are never enough resources for doing the Lord’s work, whether financial giving, or gifts of time and talent. There are never enough people willing to teach Sunday school, lead Bible studies, or evangelize their neighbors, their family members and acquaintances.

Jesus emphasized that we use our gifts until he returns (Luke 19:13). Can you even imagine how Christ’s church would grow, if there were more than enough resources and people to do the work? It would be amazing, I am sure! In what way are you helping grow the kingdom?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Escaping the Fire

Dear readers,
In recent columns, I have mentioned our unseasonably warm temperatures. That has all changed. The temps of the past few days have been frigid at best. A warm-up will be welcome.

It has always been my intention when writing these articles, to take a life experience and relate it to a passage, or theme from the Bible. My ideas have come from personal experiences, but also from television commercials, news headlines and other sources. For instance, here is a headline from late December: “Flames threaten rich California enclave; residents flee”

I bear no animosity toward those who have been successful, but there is a picture here of a biblical teaching. If their fame and fortune could save them, these folks would not have fled in the face of those wildfires. The truth is, when the flames of a forest fire come, no matter what your station in life, you flee to safety.

The Bible speaks of the fire of hell as punishment for those who reject God’s salvation. Escape from that penalty comes by placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus. How is this for a headline? “Thousands flee the fires of hell, run to Jesus for salvation!”

Let’s start of the New Year by examining our priorities and putting the really important things first. Jesus said this, concerning possessions: “Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Also, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

From Revelation 20:15; If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

There is good news! Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. (John 1:12). When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

We have compassion for those who have lost possessions in the fires, are we as concerned for those threatened by the fires of hell? We should be.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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

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