Archive for the ‘Praise’ Category

Songs of the Season

Hello friends,
We got a break from the cold weather this week. This gave holiday travelers something else to be thankful for. Part of my week was taken up with installing a garage door opener. It was something of a challenge, due to some sketchy instructions and my inability to read between the lines of said instructions. After an email to customer service, and some good guess work, we can now open the door without getting out of the vehicle.

The radio stations have begun playing Christmas music, and oh how we need to hear the message of Christmas today! As we remember the coming of Jesus to earth, the season of advent, we are reminded anew of the promises of God regarding a Savior.

When I speak of Christmas music, I’m not thinking of Frosty, Rudolph, or Baby It’s Cold Outside. I am instead thinking of Hark the Herald Angels, O, Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night; songs with the real message of Christmas. Songs of hope and of the One who came to die for us, in order that we might be saved from the penalty of sin. This is Christmas.

How could we ever tire of hearing and singing of the advent of our Savior? How could we tire of the message of salvation through faith in His finished work on the cross? Read with me a part of the Christmas story.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-21).

Finally, in John 3:17 we read this: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Be Grateful

Dear readers,
With the cooling of the weather pattern lately, I believe I can safely say that winter is coming closer. Not much exciting has happened at our place this week. We attended a party celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary Tuesday evening. There were just a few couples present, but it was a fun evening. There was much conversation and laughter, something we all need more of. An added bonus was the great variety of appetizers to sample. On the topic of lasting marriages, I heard this comment recently. A young man asked his father for some advice on marriage. Dad responded, “When you and your bride have an argument, and you are convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that you are right and she is wrong, just go ahead and be wrong.”

The next big holiday is Thanksgiving. I believe we are to be thankful on a daily basis for what we have. Each day is a gift, and we need to be aware of that fact. I was given a different perspective on this topic recently. It goes like this; What is your answer when people ask how you are? Most will say, “I’m doing okay”, or something similar. The answer as told to me is simply this; I am grateful!

Whether or not we understand it, everything we have is the result of God’s gracious provision. Here are some Bible verses that remind us to be both grateful and thankful for our blessings.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:8, 34). The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7).

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17). Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Praise is also a part of thankfulness; “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens… Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

A Notable Event

Dear readers,
We still have no precipitation of any measure. Please continue to ask the Lord to send those soaking rains we so desperately need. We have cleaned up the garden in preparation for winter, and I was surprised to find the deer had eaten things I wouldn’t have expected; things like the tops of the tomato and pepper plants, along with rhubarb leaves. Who knew?

Saturday, we attended what is really a rare occasion; a 75th wedding anniversary. It was the celebration of a long lasting marriage, but also a time of visiting with old friends. We live in a time when it is becoming harder to find lasting marriage relationships. What a testimony of faithfulness to the marriage covenant! I am sure this couple would tell you it hasn’t always been easy, but obviously they took their marriage vows seriously.

Perhaps this would be a good time for a review of God’s plan for marriage and families. It started in the book of Genesis, as God was creating the world and everything in it. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” On the sixth day, God created all animal life, then we read: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number…” (Genesis 1:27-28a).

In chapter two, we read more of the creation of the man and woman. “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being… The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” … So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:7, 18, 20-24).

The longevity of this marriage is rare, and worthy of recognition. Congratulations, friends!

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Defend Life

Dear readers,
We are starting this week camping out in South Dakota. We are at Alex’s place for a visit, and will probably head back home Tuesday. As always, plans are subject to change at any moment. We are glad for some moderate temperatures, but could definitely use some nice rain.

The big news of the week by any measure, was the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. This is something that concerned Christians have prayed for and worked at for almost fifty years. Much has been said in recent days about the subject, so I will not argue the point in this article, except to point to Scripture.

The Bible places a high value on all human life, including that of the unborn. Bible teaching declares that life is a sacred, God given gift; “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). The gift includes the life of children; “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4).

God condemns those who take human life; “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13), “The Lord says; I will not relent for punishing the Amorites for three crimes, even four, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their territory” (Amos 1:13).

The development of unborn life is controlled by God; “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well” (Psalm 139:13-14).

In closing, we Christians will need to continue the effort to preserve life, not only in the unborn, but at all stages of life. “Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
“This is what the Lord says: Administer justice and righteousness… Don’t exploit or brutalize the resident alien, the fatherless, or the widow. Don’t shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3).

Lastly, pray for America, and pray for many to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

In truth,
Pastor Jerry

Praising God

Dear readers,
Rain, wonderful rain! As of this writing, we had received 1.7 inches. It has been a long time since we have had meaningful moisture of any kind, and personally, I prefer rain to snow. This is an answer to many prayers over the last few months, especially in light of all the wildfires our state has experienced. I suspect there were many people out dancing in the rain. This blessing from God should be celebrated as such. May we break out in song like the psalmist.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared among all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Psalm 96:1-6.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:7-11.

Praise the Lord, praise him in the heavens, praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations. Psalm 148:1-11.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Plans Change

Dear readers,
It was an interesting week; in fact, that may be an understatement. We started Wednesday with a doctor’s appointment in Norfolk, and ended up going to Omaha to see another provider. Since we thought we would be coming home from Norfolk, we ended up at Methodist Hospital in Omaha with just the clothes on our backs and stayed for three days. Without going into detail, I will just say it ended well, and I am glad to be out in the sticks, away from six-lane traffic, parking garages and elevators!

Actually, the traffic wasn’t as intimidating as I imagined, and I credit the Lord for providing room for lane changes and bringing us to our destination safely. It’s great to look back and see how he provides. In my devotional readings over those days, two passages of scripture were given to me. They both are long-time favorites of mine that have encouraged me over the years. I will share them with you.

The first is Psalm 23, a familiar psalm that is a favorite of many.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The second scripture is Psalm 62:1-2; 5-8.
1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will never be shaken.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Child of God

Dear friends,
We received some rain and snow this past weekend. This is a major blessing, as it has been a while since we have had moisture of any kind.

It seems we are in a time of uncertainty, the likes of which we have not seen in recent memory. As I think about this, I am reminded of God’s promise to always be with his people. He is with us in the present, and he will be there when we get through the trials we endure.

“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 CSB).

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 CSB).

“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. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV).

We do need to remember these promises are for God’s people. Those, who by faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross, have become children of God. “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10-13).

Paul writes this, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Hello friends,

I am recovering from my bout with Covid. The return to normal is testing my patience, but I am feeling better daily. The biggest hurdle has been a lack of energy; my want to and my can do are miles apart. It is still a challenge to make my mind focus on writing, and I may revert to a previous article this week, instead of coming up with an original thought. After twenty-some years of this, there should be something in the archives that will apply to today. After all, God’s word is unchanging and endures forever.

Many times we get discouraged when we see evil running rampant in the world. A passage from the prophet Malachi is appropriate for us to consider in our present context. At the end of Malachi in the Old Testament, God speaks of coming judgment through the words of the prophet: “Surely the day is coming, it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:1-2).

If you have ever been around calves that have been in a small pen for any length of time, and have seen them released into a larger pen or pasture, you can relate to the picture this brings to mind. They are so happy to be released, that they run in large circles with their tails in the air, leaping and kicking with obvious joy. What a picture of God’s children when they are freed from the cares of this sinful, corrupt world system!

Whoever said the Bible doesn’t relate to people in the Sandhills, and to ranchers and cowboys? It’s not all about sheep and shepherds!

I pray you keep this picture in mind as you are experiencing the everyday trials that come upon us. There is coming a day when those who are faithful to God will rejoice as calves that have been released from their stalls. What a day that will be!

Looking for His return,

Pastor Jerry

In His Hands

Dear friends,

We are almost a month into the new year. There are already new challenges and trials that we have experienced. In praiseworthy news; I had a checkup with the doctor who repaired my aneurism, and he said to come back in a year. I am thankful for medical progress.

Each day, it seems the world throws another worrisome thing at us. I am slowly learning that worrying is a useless activity. Someone once said worry is a lot like an exercise bike; it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.

Depend on God to get you through this day, today is all we know. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is in his hands. I don’t like to sound like a broken record (there’s a phrase from the past), but maybe someone besides me needs to hear the words of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel again.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).

Remember the words of the old song; He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands!

Blessings,

Pastor Jerry

God With Us

Dear readers,
There was some interesting weather last week, with much property damage, yet as far as I know there were no lives lost. For this we thank God. Not related to the storms, but needing prayer are those families who have lost loved ones in the last few days. Our prayers are for God’s comfort and healing in each of those situations.

Another Christmas celebration is upon us. This week I will share the following from a booklet titled, “God’s Gift of Christmas” by Dr. John MacArthur.

“God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning defined the fundamental purpose for the Son’s coming to earth. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, or Jeshua, each of which means “Jehovah will save.” The baby Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to in the plan of God would grow up to testify to the Father’s salvation and would Himself be that salvation. By His own sacrificial death on the cross and triumphant resurrection from the grave He would save His own—all those who are drawn from sin to repentance and who receive faith to embrace His atoning work.

He would also be called Immanuel, which means, literally, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It is a promise of incarnate deity, a promise that God himself would appear as a human infant. Immanuel, God with us.” This baby who was to be born would be God Himself in human form.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into just three words, these words would be “God with us.” At Christmas we tend to focus on the infancy of Christ, but the greater truth of the holiday is his deity. He is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!

Immanuel, infinitely rich became poor. He assumed our nature, entered our sin polluted world, took our guilt on Himself although He was sinless, bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). All of that is wrapped up in “God with us.”

The immeasurable gift of Christmas is this. Christ, God’s own Son gave up all His wealth and privilege to live as God with us, that He might save His people from their sins, and that through His poverty they might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Merrie Christmas!
Pastor Jerry