Archive for the ‘Praise’ Category

A Christmas Story

Dear friends,
As I begin writing, the sun is shining. This is a welcome sight, since for most of the last week, it has been cloudy and cold. The snow of last weekend is still hanging around, and with the snowy background, the Christmas lights at the lake have taken on a new look.

As the Christmas holiday approaches, so also, we see the beginning of what might be called ‘insanity season.’ Christmas is being banned in the public square, Christmas music is suddenly not politically correct, and right here in mid-America, a misinformed school official has banned candy canes. However, instead of commenting on these, I want to share a real Christmas story this week.

Back in the days of old (1980’s), a young ranch couple were struggling through some financial hard-times. It seemed there might not be funds to purchase Christmas gifts for the couple’s two children. In a conversation with his pastor, the young dad mentioned their dilemma, because he needed to share his thoughts with someone.

About a week before Christmas, there came a phone call from the pastor, inviting the couple to stop in later that evening. They went to the parsonage, and after some small talk, the pastor said, “my wife and I have a little money saved up, and we want to give your something to buy gifts for your boys.” He handed the dad a check for one hundred dollars. Suddenly, the Christmas season seemed much brighter for the little family. Needless to say, there were tears of joy and gratitude in that house.

Years have passed, and the now much older young rancher has never forgotten that Christmas gift. May you have opportunities to brighten the holidays for some less fortunate family this Christmas season.

The Lord Jesus came to earth as God’s gift to mankind. The apostle Paul describes God’s grace and His salvation as His indescribable gift. It is this gift we celebrate, as we give to others in this giving time of the year.

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). As the psalmist said, “Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen” (Psalm 72:19).

Christmas blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Advertisements

Give Thanks Daily

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the time of year to give thanks for all our blessings. It is no coincidence, I believe, that the holiday coincides with the end of harvest. If we can’t count our blessing during this time of the year, when can we? In spite of the fact the Bible encourages thankfulness from God’s people, over the years I have noted that it seems easier to go to the Lord with a list of wants, instead of thanking him for blessings received.

Things we are thankful for in our house this week: Friends and family. A great place to live and enjoy our retirement. Our church family. God’s creation. Each new day. Good health, and the list goes on…

Speaking of the need to give thanks, here are some Old Testament commands of God to his people:
1 Chronicles 16:8… Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Also, verse 34… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

In 1 Chronicles 23:30; in a description of the duties of the Levites serving in the temple, we read: They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Then there is the witness of his people: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high” (Psalm 7:17). “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Let’s not just be thankful at Thanksgiving; may we start and end every day with an attitude of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Serious Worship

The weather is cooler as I write this on Friday, and the wind has switched to a northerly direction. We were visited by three humming birds this week. It is fascinating to watch them as they jockey for positions at the feeder. I am amazed that such a little bird can find our meager offering of sugar water in this big world. What a testimony to God’s design for His creation!

If you spent much time in church in an earlier age, you were most certainly admonished by your parents to be quiet. This is not the trend we see today. As church buildings became more multi-purpose in design, there was a movement away from the idea of preparing for worship as you entered the building. Maybe it was due to the lack of those traditional fixtures, such as pictures of biblical events and other items that set a place of worship apart.

I would not say today’s more informal worship gatherings are wrong, nor are they even unbiblical. If one spends any time researching worship in the Old Testament, you would find references to shouting, singing, dancing, and musical instruments, along with reading and proclaiming the Word of the Lord. In the New Testament, we also see explicit and implicit references to celebration in worship.

True worship, I believe, demands that we are to have a sense of awe as we stand in the presence of Holy God, but there is room for joy and laughter, along with the fellowship of like-minded brothers and sisters in the Lord.

As a pastor said last week as he prepared to deliver his message, “We have had a little fun and some light-hearted conversation, but it is time to be serious and listen to what God has to say through the preaching of His Word.”

I am a ‘fan’ of traditional worship, with its hymns and other traditions, but I am not going to say it is the only way. I have seen the younger generations worship, and I am convinced they are as committed to giving glory to God as any of us ‘older’ people. You see, it is all about the heart and our relationship with God and his Son Jesus Christ. If your heart is right, and the gospel of salvation by faith in Christ is preached, worship is what God intended.

To His glory,
Pastor Jerry

Contentment

It seems we are trapped in an endless winter. There have been a few days when the temperatures resembled spring, and then we have a week of unseasonable coolness. Actually, as I remember, there have been spring seasons like this in the past. In the “old days”, we drove cattle across country for 20 or so miles to summer pasture. I recollect some of those trips, when we were sure we would either freeze, or come down with pneumonia because of the cold rain. There are few things that make you appreciate a warm, dry place like riding horseback all day in those conditions. On second thought, I have it pretty easy these days, so I’ll quit complaining about the weather.

We have been enjoying life at the lake. The flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom. The grass is green, and our back yard is populated with all kinds of birds. Some are just passing through, and others will be summer residents. We have several varieties of orioles and finches, and have enjoyed the presence of a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds. All this brings a renewed appreciation, and sense of thankfulness for God’s creation. On that note, I’ll just share some thoughts from God’s word.

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? (Matthew 6:26).

The apostle Paul had this to say about contentment in life: “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength… And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 11-13, 19).

In other words, God is able to provide for our needs, just as he cares for the birds, if we will only trust him. His storehouse of riches is inexhaustible, but he is not bound to give us everything we want. There is a great difference between want and need, and his promise is to meet our needs.

In His caring hands,
Pastor Jerry

Laughter

Hello friends,
As I write this Sunday evening, we have experienced the first real spring-like day of the year. This is the one we’ve been waiting for all winter. Someone said they hoped summer would come on the weekend this year. It seems spring did just that, but rest assured, someone will soon complain about the excessive heat.

Sometimes it is good to laugh at ourselves. One recent day, I got up early, put my pocket tee-shirt on, and went about my routine. Later on, after I had been out and about for a while, I came to the realization that the pocket that should have been on my left front was behind my right shoulder. My comment was, “I dressed all by myself today.” Milrae, who is no real fan of tee-shirts, said, “at least the neck wasn’t sagging!” The humor of that situation was good for most of the day.

Remember, the Bible indicates that laughter is good for us. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Solomon wrote “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Also, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live” (Eccl. 3:12).

So, let’s all find something to laugh at this week, even if it is to laugh at yourself and bring some humor into someone else’s life. I will admit, some days it is hard to find anything to smile about, but it is worth the effort to find something.

Keep smiling,
Pastor Jerry

Blessings

We have survived the great blizzard of ’18! We were able to keep the house in a state of semi-warmth with the camper generator and a cord run through the window to power a little electric heater. Kudos to the power company linemen, who brave the elements for the rest of us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Counting our blessings was easy this week, and today I would like to highlight some scripture passages praising God for his goodness. I have found my postings taking on somewhat of a negative view over the last few weeks, so it’s time for a brighter outlook.

The Psalms are packed with praises to God, as are the writings of some of the prophets and New Testament writers. Here are some examples:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens (Psalm 8:1).
I will praise you, O Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High (Psalm 9:1-2).
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praises to you, they sing praises to your name” (Psalm 66:1-4).

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself (Psalm 89:1-2).

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and redeemed his people (Luke 1:68).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Let’s just praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry

Answered Prayers

Dear friends,
My good wife and I have been dealing with colds this week and to be honest, I just haven’t felt like writing. I have this article I recently came across, and would like to share it with you.

God hears and answers every prayer, but there are a precious few to which he always says, “Yes.” The prayers always answered positively are the prayers which explicitly ask God to deliver on his promises to us. God will always say Yes when we ask him to do his work through his word.
I have found at least six basic prayers God will always answer.
1. Glorify yourself through me.
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

2. Forgive me.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
3. Reveal more of yourself to me.

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 31:33–34).

4. Give me wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).

5. Strengthen me to obey you.
As you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure(Philippians 2:12–13).

6. Spread your gospel to the lost.
This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
How do we know God will answer these six prayers? Because he says he will in the first place, and then, even more, because these prayers sum up what God has promised to do through the gospel. This is what God has said he would most surely do.

Be blessed,
Pastor Jerry