Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Thirsty?

Dear readers,
I’m writing this week from a little RV park in Lynch, Nebraska. There are no trains, and almost no vehicle traffic here. It is about as peaceful as you can get. I have been invited to be musical entertainment for a church event not far from here, and camping here means we won’t have to drive home late at night. Monday, we will move to Fort Randall and North Point recreation area, then drive to Mitchell to visit Alex. We will be home Wednesday in time to prepare for the busy Fourth of July weekend. I’m tired just thinking about it.

The church supper we attended Sunday night was well attended, and it was good to be there. The church family there had prayed for rain in their morning service, and the Lord provided that during the evening. This part of Nebraska was, and is needing rain. It is close to an area where there were lightning-caused fires last week.

As we think of a dry and thirsty land, I am taken to the Psalms. Written by David when he was in the desert of Judah, Psalm 63 is encouraging to us in those times when we need relief from physical and spiritual thirst.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, I will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing my lips will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for the jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
All who swear by God’s name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Praise the Lord,
Pastor Jerry

Preserve Life

Hello friends,
The sun has been shining of late and the wind has been a bit excessive, but signs of spring are appearing. Some of the lake residents have been cleaning out flower beds to make room for the anticipated blooms. Many times these early preparations are hindered by a late freeze, but those folks with green thumbs are an optimistic bunch!

Almost every day, we are seeing a disregard for human life in our country and in the world. The news is filled with words that are all too common in our everyday conversation. Words like murder, human trafficking, abortion, and child abuse are always before us. It seems we have reached a point where no one knows or cares that human life is valuable from conception to natural death.

Our Creator God, in his perfect plan has told us that he values every life, without reservation. Starting in Genesis, we see first that He created mankind. “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Later, when God gave the Law to Moses, He stressed the importance of human life with this command; You shall not murder.

Being made in God’s image gives every human being value, or worth. There is no difference based on a person’s race, sex, age, or condition. God has a plan and purpose for each one. It is not for us to decide which lives are more important than others. It is for us to defend life at all stages, leaving the rest to God’s plan and purpose for each individual.

I fear if we don’t return to those biblical values that preserve the dignity and sanctity of human life, we are inviting the judgment of God, and it won’t be a pretty thing. In Jeremiah 7:9-11, we read, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? – “But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”

We need to understand that the taking of any life is basically wrong, and except perhaps in self-defense, it puts us at risk of God’s judgment. Pray that it stops.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

The Source of Truth

Dear readers,
It has been a week of cloudy skies, with a bit of fog, mist, and a snowflake or two. The best part is there has been no big snowstorm, and the temperature has remained cool; something I can live with. The news of the past week has been all about the situation in our country, with all the political upheaval and its related headlines.

I have always considered myself an optimist, but sometimes it is difficult to retain a sense of optimism. I’m learning to spend less time with the so-called mainstream media, and also most social media. There is so much misinformation out there that it is nearly impossible to discern the truth. The one exception would be World magazine, which brings news from a Christian perspective (world.wng.org). There are others out there with a Christian worldview, but sadly, they are not well known. And, yes, that was a plug for the magazine.

The one source of absolute truth is the Bible, but far too few people are informed about what it says about the human condition and the solution to healing a broken world.

Answering Pilate’s question about whether Jesus was a king, Jesujs said, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).

Familiar passages in the Old Testament speak if the importance of knowing and obeying God’s Word:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9).
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (verse 11).
Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens (verse 89).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (verse 101).
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word (verse 114).
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me (verse 133).

Finally, Jesus’ words in John 14:6. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The result of ignoring God’s truth is found in Romans 1:18-32. I encourage you to read it for yourself.

For Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Making Plans

Hello friends,
Well, we certainly had an extreme weather change. As I write this Sunday afternoon, we have had a good dose of snow and cold. I’m looking forward to the middle of the week, when we are supposed to warm up considerably. I came up with a project to enclose our open-ended carport/garage, and install doors, but now I have to wait for better weather before I can start. One thing about the delay is that I have time to engineer the details. I have done doors before, but in a more conventional setting. I think the delay will be a good thing. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Speaking of making plans, the Lord has quite a bit to say about the plans of men and their success or failure. Something to think about as we set goals and go about making plans for our lives. We have all made plans for how we think our lives will play out, but how many plans actually come out the way we imagined?

With the general election next week, people are making plans for the future. Some of those may be good and others may turn out to be not so good. God’s word doesn’t discourage planning, but he does expect to be a part of the process. Let’s look at some scriptures that speak to this subject.

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).
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4).

Here is a longer passage from the epistle of James in the New Testament: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Do you have plans for your future? Have you included the Lord in those plans?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Good Words

Dear friends,
It was a pleasant weather week here. Not too hot, nor too cold but the forecast is for cooler temperatures ahead, with perhaps a little moisture. Corn harvest has begun, but I don’t believe anyone would argue for continued dry conditions.

As the election draws near, let not forget to pray for our country. Pray for godly leaders to be chosen and for decisions to be made that would honor God. Pray also for a spirit of cooperation to return to our cultural conversation.

On the topic of conversation, I have spent some time studying in Ephesians where the apostle cautions us to watch our speech so as to exhibit Christ-like character to those around us. To be frank, I am appalled at many words that are used in both verbal and written communication these days. It is not just in the outhouse; it goes all the way to the White House. When did it become acceptable to use words in public that most people would not use in any context in days gone by?

From God’s Word in the Old Testament: “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). “A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings” (Proverbs 25:11).

And from the New Testament: “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear… Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking is not suitable” (Ephesians 4:29; 5:4).

“Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening?” (James 3:10-11).

“But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19).

Instead of throwing insults and indulging in name-calling, why not use words that build up others and shine the light of Christ into a world that desperately needs it.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

United, We Stand

Hello friends,
As promised, half of 2020 is almost behind us, and Independence Day is upon us. If you live in the area, don’t forget to attend the big annual fireworks display July 3rd, at The Lake Ericson!

We took the camper on a short trial run last week. Everything worked as expected, and the exciting parts were a result of my memory lapse, or my poor preparations. First, as we were smack dab in the literal middle of nowhere, the low fuel light came on in the pickup. Oops! Forgot to look at the fuel gauge before leaving civilization. With an estimated 24 miles of fuel, and the nearest c-store 12 miles away, we made it with 13 miles to spare. The second crisis came because I assumed there was enough water in the fresh water tank, and didn’t top it off at home. The tank ran dry at a most inconvenient time; I won’t elaborate here, but lesson learned.

I was able to be back in the pulpit this weekend, spending time with the nice folks at Grace Bible Church in Loup City. Perhaps the topic of the sermon will give us food for thought in the days to come. It was called Seven Reasons Satan Seeks to Create Division. The original article dealt with division in the church, but I believe it applies to our current national crisis.

Those seven points are:
Division turns citizens against citizens.
Division causes us to lose sight of our purpose.
Division harms our testimony to the rest of the world, as a people who should be united.
Division is often tied to people being concerned with self, rather than the well-being of others.
Division demoralizes our leaders, and those concerned with keeping the peace.
Division affects the way the young see our country.
Division gives our enemies a victory. When we turn against each other, no one wins. It is supposed to be the United States of America.

Jesus prayed that His followers would be united in their faith, their mission and their message (John 17:20-23). In the church, supernatural unity is a witness of the work of the Holy Spirit, division is an evidence of the work of the enemy, that is, the devil.

A divided nation is also evidence of an enemy. We need to pray the Lord will intervene and bring us back together.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Source of Real Peace

Dear friends,
In the past, we talked about the weather and asked, ‘how is the family’? These days, the question is, “are you staying well?” I trust everyone who reads this is well, and making the best of our current circumstances. There are days when, as a friend of mine remarked several years ago, it seems “the world has gone mad!” With the pandemic, and now the protests, rioting and looting, it seems that insanity rules in the minds of many. We must pray for calm heads to prevail, and for people to see that the current state of mind will not solve anything. We must pray that all people would know Christ.

We ask for peace in our country, and we need that peace. The problem is that the peace offered by the world is not true peace, nor is it lasting. Only by having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, can we know real peace. Jesus, as he spoke to His disciples said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). As he prepared them for His departure, and to encourage them in the days to come, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Paul, writing to the church at Philippi said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

These are unsettled times. In the time of Jesus and His disciples, things were unsettled. Persecution came upon the early Christians, such as we in America have not seen. Their faith in Christ gave them peace in their hearts, and the hope of eternity.

As we seek peace in our time, may we make peace with God by trusting His Son for our salvation. Remember, without Jesus in our hearts, we are enemies of God. Scripture says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:21).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

An Encouraging Word

Dear friends,
Another week has passed. Springtime activities are picking up speed, and the weekends here at the lake are filled with families enjoying the water and the community in general. The four kittens that were born in a box in our carport are growing and nearing the time to go to their new home. The lawn is doing quite well after the rain and warmer days. I fear I will have to mow more than once a week for a while!

Where do I start with writing commentary on our current national situation? The Bible says men are sinners, and those who would argue otherwise have no ground to stand on. It doesn’t get better with time either. In truth, the only remedy for all this sinful behavior is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in God’s Holy Word.

Some have wondered if we might be in the last days? Technically, we have been in the last days since Jesus returned to heaven. Each day since then, we have been moving toward His second coming. No one knows the day or the hour, as He said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). (v 44)

In Romans, chapter one, Paul writes concerning godless people: For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice… Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:20-32).

This cannot last forever, therefore take heart. God wins. This is why the writer of Hebrews says to believers, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). And, pray for America!

Standing on His promises,
Pastor Jerry

The Creative Creator

Hello friends,
Last week, I told you of my planned heart bypass surgery. I can now report the surgery went well, and I am at home recovering. I have no rehab schedule presently, but somewhere, someone is preparing a plan. I now know much more about the process than I might have wanted to know. Word like saws, titanium plate, tiny screwdriver, screws… you get the idea. There were tubes and all kinds of wires and assorted monitors.

As I heal, I have been thinking about the wonder of the bodies God has given us. I met a man while in the hospital who claimed to be an agnostic. As I understand it, an agnostic will claim it is impossible to know God, and an atheist denies the existence of God, or even of a supreme intelligent being. My question at this point is, how then do you explain the complexity of the human body? How can you not see the hand of God in creating his own?

Oh, some will say it is the result of some random accident through which life began, or that some primitive life form ‘evolved’ to a human being. I for one, am glad for a Creator God, who not only designed mankind in His image, but that he equipped some to perform amazing procedures and others to help us on our way to recovery. In the last week, I have experienced some wonderful medical progress, and met some amazing individuals. From the doctors, ICU staff, nurses, CNAs, to housekeeping and nutritional staff. You are all special people!

Jesus is called the Great Physician and Healer, but he has some very talented individuals involved in the process. Thank you, also, for prayers for me this past week, I know they had much to with my speedy recovery from the immediate effects of the surgery and my eventual dismissal from the hospital in record time. God is King, and He is still on His throne. Praise Him daily!

It is not always God’s will for healing, but we should not fail to always pray. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)

Praising His goodness,
Pastor Jerry

The Tune-up

The pleasant weather continues. We did receive some rain on Friday, but not as much as some folks to the south and west. The garden continues to do well, as do the flowers. We have had our first (small) tomato, and a few cucumbers, in addition to the green beans that we have been enjoying.

Now for the weekly devotional thought. Sunday, as I was driving to a sister church for a speaking engagement, I remembered that a couple of months ago, our pickup was running poorly, and the fuel mileage wasn’t what I expected it to be. Now, in the past, I would have run it into the shop and changed the sparkplugs, points, and condenser, probably fixing the problem. In today’s world, some of those parts don’t exist, so there was no use for me to even start.

After a visit to the dealer’s shop, and a computer diagnosis, it was determined that it did in fact need new spark plugs and something called a “fuel system flush.” Who knew fuel system flush was even a thing? It now performs as good as new.

As I thought about this, I was reminded that the Christian sometimes needs a tune-up. The remedy for this is to get back in touch with our maker through his word, and let him put us back in working order. When we neglect meeting with Him in prayer, through the study of His word, and fellowship with other believers, we get distracted by life leading to poor performance in our Christian walk.

A time of prayer and fellowship with God is important for a healthy Christian life. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).

Spending time reading and studying the Scripture is also important. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Finally, spend time with other Christians regularly. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you feel your relationship with the Lord isn’t hitting on all cylinders, these verses are a good place to start that tune-up.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry