Archive for the ‘renewal’ Category

Missing Link

Dear friends,
The wind has been the big weather topic this week. Everyone seems to be talking about the excess of wind and the absence of any meaningful rain event. At this time of year, any moisture may very well be of the frozen variety. I hesitate to use the ‘s’ word. At this point it doesn’t really matter what form it takes, it will be welcome. A recent issue of a daily newspaper had a page titled “Weather and Religion”. I was amused by those two topics being on the same page. It reminded me of the fact that there are weather forecasts, but God is the one who is in control of the weather.

Sunday, I was away from home in a neighboring church, filling in for their vacationing pastor. Before the service began, the following words appeared on the wall: No Signal (Help). It was telling the person at the keyboard that something was missing. What was missing? A connection between the computer and the projector.
Isn’t that a picture of our own lives? Occasionally, we feel disconnected from the Lord. There is a missing connection and we have lost the signal, so to speak. How do we reconnect to God? The answer; prayer and study of the Word. Consider the following passages of Scripture.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6). Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

Even when we don’t know what to pray, God’s Holy Spirit will take up our case. “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

Time spent in intentional Bible study, along with a consistent prayer life brings the Christian into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Lord. This will result in the knowledge that our connection to Him has been restored.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Seeing Clearly

Dear friends,
We had a great weekend, grandson Alex and his fiancé and her little girl akibg with our grandson Ethan visited Saturday evening. Sunday morning, we traveled back “home” to Sybrant Community Church, then spent the afternoon with dear friends. Good times!

On a recent morning, I awoke to heavy fog over the lake. As the sun rose, and the fog began to lift, I was able to slowly see the trees and buildings more clearly. It reminded me of the process of coming to faith in God and his salvation.

When the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ begins to shine in our hearts, we get a glimpse of who He is, and why he came. It may be just a spark at first, but as we begin to respond to that spark the light will become brighter.

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ.

When Jesus healed a blind man as recorded in Mark’s gospel, he healed the man in two stages. After he had put saliva on the man’s eyes, he asked him what do you see? ” He answered, “I see people, they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes… then his eyes were opened and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:23-25). It was a process of learning to see clearly as his faith grew. Sight was there, but it was not complete.

In the words of the song writer,
“Just like a blind man, I wandered along.
Worries and fears I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight,
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.”

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ. Have you seen the light?

In His light,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Hello friends,
It was another warm week. Our last good rain was a week ago, and we are ready for more. The heat is stressful for the cucumbers, but they are producing well with frequent watering. Small tomatoes are forming and we have been stocking up with bacon in anticipation of some BLT sandwiches! Disclaimer: Most of the work in this garden is done by my sweet wife.

Do you ever feel you are losing the battle against temptation? Here are some encouraging thoughts:
“As believers, we’ll struggle with indwelling sin for the rest of our lives. The greatest saints have experienced such bitter, unsuccessful struggles with sin, it almost drove them to despair. As the old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”

Proverbs 24:16 reads, “… for the righteous falls seven times and rises again …” (ESV). The righteous fall often, but they get back up, looking heavenward. Put another way, we struggle a lot, but the trajectory of our lives should point heavenward; our lives are a cry for God to change our hearts.

But there are some who seem to just be going through the motions, participating in church like it’s a club or social organization. They don’t have evidence of a desire for God or a supernatural change. They’re not concerned about living in community or using their gifts to serve the body of Christ. And they’re content in not growing. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever really experienced the gospel.

When you struggle, do you get back up again, repenting and believing in faith that God is who he says he is, faithful to save you? Or do you go through the motions, unconcerned with how you’re living your life? The faith that saves is the faith that endures.” [Pastor J.D. Grear]

Remember these words from the apostle Paul: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9).

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Renewal

Dear readers,
The big weather news these days seems to be the lack of rain in the forecast. I have heard it said we always get rain when we need it the most. I wonder how much needier we can be? As in every situation, we need to keep praying and trust the Lord to provide.

Signs of spring are appearing. The geese are pairing off, so I suppose we can expect goslings in a few weeks. Flowers are starting to break through the soil, giving hope for blossoms of daffodils and tulips. Before I know it, lawn mowing season will be here!

Springtime brings thoughts of new beginnings and new life. Think baby calves, lambs and foals that are born in this season. Renewal and regeneration are good words to ponder. Bulbs that were planted in the fall begin to send up new growth that hint at beauty that is to come in the form of fragrant blossoms.

These things are all part of God’s plan for his creation. All parts of creation testify to the goodness of God, and the human race enjoys the privilege of bearing his image. At this time of year, it seems appropriate to celebrate, and to acknowledge God’s presence and all that he has given us.

With the appearance of new life, we are reminded of the provision of eternal life through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For it is by faith we are saved, not by works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In spite of Adam’s sin, by which the creation was subjected to futility, slavery to corruption, groaning and suffering (Romans 1:18-23). “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pain until now” Romans 8:22). God’s handiwork faithfully continues to attest to his eternal power and divine nature. Though God’s image in the human race was marred due to the fall, the image is being renewed in those who are new creatures in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I will close with these words: Lord, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth and it stands firm. Your judgments stand firm today, for all things are your servants (Psalm 119: 89-91).

All praise to Him,
Pastor Jerry

Master Tuner

Hello friends,
We are officially observing Daylight Saving Time. I trust everyone made it to church on time Sunday. I have seen folks arrive in the parking lot just as worship was ending, and it was embarrassing for everyone.

I like music. I like to make music with my friends who play. I especially like playing when my guitar is in tune. Instruments have to be tuned to a standard, or else all you would have is a lot of meaningless noise. In the ‘old days’ that standard would have been a tuning fork, or a pitch pipe. These days there are electronic models with digital displays, allowing for exact pitch.

Our standard for living in tune with God is his Word. If we don’t return to him and retune, our lives can become like a musical instrument that needs tuning. As an out of tune instrument is not pleasing to the ear, a life not in tune with God has no purpose, nor does it bring him honor.

The Bible tells us that God’s word keeps us pure and in tune with his plan and purpose for our lives. Here are some examples; How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9 NIV).
Your word is completely pure, and your servant loves it (Psalm 119:140 CSB).
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11 NIV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). How do we renew our minds? By living according to God’s word and in his will.

Solomon wrote these words: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV). Does your life seem out of tune? Put it in the hands of the Master Tuner.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Stable Life

Dear friends,
We are already a month into the new year. How time flies! It appears that our sunny, warm weather is about to take a turn for the worse. We really can’t complain about the winter to this point, and we knew it couldn’t last. Remember, spring is coming. I welcome new readers to this weekly project. I pray you are blessed in some way through these articles.

For our devotional time this week, I will borrow some thoughts from my Sunday sermon. Many of us wonder how to deal with the turmoil we see around us. I believe first of all, that we need to have a relationship with the Lord. As the scripture says, He is our peace, meaning that we can have inner peace because we know who is in control of our circumstances.

The apostle Paul has wise counsel in his letter to the church at Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned from me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

Did you get that? Rejoice always, no matter your circumstances. Be in prayer, communicating your requests to Him and thanking Him for blessings. This will lead to the inner peace that passes all human understanding. And put into practice those things that are right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.

With the negativity and turmoil that is all around us, it is good to go to the Scriptures and see that the Lord has a plan to help us get through. If we can commit to those things, He says He will be with us; “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). The psalmist says, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). How reassuring that is in times of trouble!

Blessings to you,
Pastor Jerry

Back to Basics

Dear friends,
There is enough ice on the lake for fishing. With the changing temperatures, it has been a guessing game as to how thick the ice might be on a given day. I grew up spending a lot of time on the ice, and found out early you can’t tell just by looking if it is safe. There have been several fishermen this weekend, and no one fell through. I see some warm up for the next week, so caution is still in order.

Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics. It is no different as we experience the Christian life. I was looking through some early issues of this devotional project, and came across the following. It reminded me of the need for some plain old-fashioned gospel teaching.

This is what I wrote: For the past few weeks, I have been studying some important topics pertaining to the Christian life. Things like sin, repentance, confession, self-denial, discipline and the like. This is the kind of stuff that makes the preacher examine his life as he prepares to teach others about the truth of the Christian walk. It is not a pleasant experience at times, but what joy to find that Jesus is the one who enables us to overcome the things that hinder our walk. I will briefly tie these things together, in order that we may see how they are all connected.

Sin is disobedience to God; repentance is turning from sin and back toward God. Confession is agreeing with God that we have sinned. Self-denial means forgetting self and giving oneself over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Discipline means self-control which is empowered by the Holy Spirit and which enables us to resist the temptation of sin, and to live a life pleasing to God.

My prayer is that we can put these truths to work in our individual lives, and begin anew to live as Jesus would have us to live. Then, those who do not have a relationship with our Lord Jesus would see him in us and have a desire to know him as well. He is still the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by him. (John 14:6).

May God bless each one in the coming days, and may you feel his presence in a special way.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Missing Jesus?

Dear friends,
I trust your Christmas celebration was a time of reflection on the Savior, along with fellowship of family and friends. Yet for some, it was also a time of sorrow because of loved ones lost in the past year. Thank God for Jesus, through whom we have been promised eternal life. Because of that we who believe will have a great glad reunion in heaven someday. This is our great hope.

Sometimes we feel that we are distanced from Jesus. He is not lost, but we have allowed ourselves to be distracted. This results in the feeling that he is missing in our life.

In Luke’s gospel we read this episode from the life of Jesus; Every year his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming he was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days, they found him in the temple… (Luke 2:41-46a).

Lessons for us in this story; His parents were distracted by preparations to return home. He slipped away to be about his Father’s business. We, also, need to be careful not to lose sight of Jesus.

People make mistakes when they discover Jesus is missing. They press on down the path they are on, assuming he will meet them somewhere along the way. Usually, we have gotten ahead of him and his plan. I have heard it said, “if it seems Jesus is further from you than he was, guess who moved?”

When we discover Christ is missing in our lives, we must turn back to the place we last knew of his presence. It may have been a few days, or even years, but we must go back.

To keep from losing Jesus, we must spend much time in His word. We must keep our eyes on him, communicate with him in prayer, and allow his Spirit to speak to us. As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. These are some things to keep in mind for 2022.

Have a blessed New Year,
Pastor Jerry

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

The Lord Provides

Dear friends,
Our first camping adventure of the season is in the books. We took a different route than usual, due to someone’s refusal to heed good advice. We arrived at our destination anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. The campsites were muddy from recent rain, and I have renewed appreciation for my beloved Sandhills. On the return trip, a tire blew out on the camper about ten miles from home. With some assistance from a friend the tire was changed and it ended well.

The past few days we have experienced much warmer temperatures; some might say hot. With the southerly winds at play, we will soon be needing rain. I am glad the Lord is in charge of those things, and we can depend on Him to provide for us. The Scriptures give ample evidence of His sovereignty over all things in nature.

“How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hand with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach” (Job 36:26-33).

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. (Psalm 147:7-9)

“He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:10-14).

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry