Archive for the ‘renewal’ Category

Don’t Give Up


It has been three months since my coronary bypass surgery, and I am doing very well, at least from my vantage point. I have certainly noticed a difference in the way I feel.

Weather-wise, in our area, and in others parts of the state, winter-like conditions have reappeared. Cold winds and a couple of nights of frost or freezing temps have us longing for much warmer days and nights. We ventured out Friday for an appointment and to get a few groceries, drove through a fast food place, picked up lunch and came back home. Not much of an adventure, but at least we got out of the house for a few hours.

As I was thinking about my unfinished cardiac rehab, I was reminded of a conversation with my rehab nurse. She commented that without persistence, rehabilitation would not result in a stronger heart muscle and better circulation. I replied, church attendance is like that, as well as Bible reading, and Bible study.

If we, as Christians, start to be negligent in church attendance, reading our Bibles, and studying God’s word, we get weak and ineffective in our walk and in our witness. We know from Hebrews 10:24-25, that meeting together is important for our spiritual well-being. As we study the Scriptures, we learn to discern truth from error. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But His delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

Meditating on God’s word brings many benefits. Some of those are listed in Psalm 119; “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long… How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!… I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (verses 97, 103-105).

These are Paul’s instructions to Timothy; Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Reaching Out

Dear friends,
I trust everyone is looking forward to the time we can begin some semblance of the life we once knew. I know I am. I’m sure there is light at the end of this tunnel, but at this point it is rather dim. Sunday church services held on Facebook, or by way of Zoom and other electronic media is okay, but there is nothing like worshiping together in person. Period.

“Reaching Out” is one of the culture’s new catch-phrases. Originally, it seems to have been used as the description for extending a helping hand to someone in need. Today, it is used more often to describe trying to get something from someone, as in, “Our reporter tried to reach out to the attorney, but her calls were not returned.”

In this season of trial that is known as the Covid19 pandemic, I would like us to consider this idea of reaching out, from a biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel was given this message from God; “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays” (Ezekiel 34:15-16a).

In the New Testament, we have the words of Jesus; “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). This is God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, reaching out to all who are lost in sin with a message of salvation. The Lord is reaching out to lost people today. This is his invitation from Matthew 11:28… “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

If, in this stressful time, you are feeling helpless, burdened down with your troubles, and in bondage to sin, you can reach for his outstretched hand and he will lift you up into his loving arms. I’m drawn to a verse from the pen of David, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:10). Here is another, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

I leave you with this thought; For peace of mind in these troubled times, reach out to Jesus, He is reaching out to you.

In His amazing grace,
Pastor Jerry

Resolutions

Dear friends,
Happy New Year! The next one of these devotional articles will be dated January, 2020. The presents will be opened and probably the excitement over new things will have begun to fade. it is the time of resolutions made and broken in the space of a few days, or weeks. As you made those resolutions, have you ever anticipated a new you? Good news! God has a plan; you can be a new creation. I am speaking of a spiritual transformation.

It starts with the realization that you are in need of a remake. Remember, God’s word tells us we are broken, and in need of Savior. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11).

A man named Nicodemus came to Jesus asking how to get right with God, and Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus was not speaking of physical birth, but a spiritual rebirth. He went on to say in effect, you cannot experience fellowship with God unless you believe Jesus is the way to salvation. “For God so loved the world that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” It is important to know this new creation is to show outer change as the result of an inner transformation, i.e., a new birth.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-14).

Perhaps at the dawning of a new year, we can resolve to accept God’s offer of a transformed life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the scripture says, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Here’s to a transformed life in 2020.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Prepare Him Room

Hello friends,
We awoke this Sunday morning to several inches of new snow on the ground. We drove to Niobrara Saturday, to meet and have lunch with Alex, and except for being a bit chilly, it was a nice day. Last week, we made a trip to Grand Island to get a redo on a tire repair. We had it fixed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still losing air pressure. When the tire was fixed, the shop manager handed me the tire tester that I had left on the hood. The Lord looks out for the forgetful, too!

Speaking of the Lord’s provision for mankind, we are rapidly approaching Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of the Lord Jesus to a little town called Bethlehem. You recall the story… Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, only to find there was no place to stay, but in a stable (Luke 2:1-7). The inn-keeper has gotten a lot of negative publicity over the years for turning them away, but God was working out his plan for the Messiah to be born in humble surroundings.

We have no record of the conversation between the inn-keeper and Joseph. What if he had known who he was turning away, would he somehow make room for them? Sadly, today there are millions who are turning the Savior away, because they can find no room in their hearts for Jesus. Many Christians, I fear, sometimes get so caught up in the commercial aspect of the holiday, they forget the Reason for the season.

Years ago, there was a book written called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” In it the writer likened his heart to a home where Jesus wanted to live. The man went room-to-room through his “home”, and asked himself whether each one was fit for Jesus to visit. He found many things he needed to clean out before it was a proper dwelling for the Lord.

It is a sad fact that many today have no room for a Savior in their hearts, but I suspect most Christian hearts need a proper housecleaning from time to time. Do you remember the lyrics to the old Christmas carol? “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him Room.”

It is not too late to make room for Him.

Celebrating His coming,
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

Remembering

First a short update on my lip surgery. Healing is taking place, but I must admit, I am just a bit impatient with the progress. Unless there is a change, there will be no further updates on this. My commentary will be shorter this week, but I trust it will make a difference in some small way.

It is Monday as I write this. It is Memorial Day on the calendar. I trust you had an enjoyable weekend, and that sometime in the midst of your celebrating the beginning of the summer season, you took some time to reflect on the true meaning of the day. In my corner of the world, it is a day of remembering those who have given their lives for our country. In some other areas of our great country, I suspect the meaning of Memorial Day has been put aside for scenes of partying, cookouts, camping, and many other pleasant diversions.

Along with many other reminders of our past, the somber truth of how we got to this place has been forgotten. Thousands of brave Americans have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy, but at some point, we have cheapened the value of that sacrifice. One thing that concerns me, is that as a people, we are traveling down some of the same paths that led to previous conflicts. Perhaps it is time to look around and see if we might want to change direction. A command from God to the people of Israel comes to mind. They had the command, but refused to obey it. Will we do the same thing?

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16),

God bless you, and God bless America!
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Plan

Hello all,
I trust everyone had a blessed Easter Sunday. I took a trip into the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills, to fill in for a pastor who was taking a well-deserved and much needed break. Highway 20 across the northern part of our state holds many (mostly good) memories for me, and it is nice to go back now and then.

A long drive through what is called God’s Country, gives one time to reflect on God’s creative genius, but also to realize what a privilege it is to live here. I’m sure there are some who would see this as anything but an ideal situation, and I definitely would not want to live in their little corner of the world either. It is obvious that God has made something for everyone in that respect.

The observance of what we call Easter, rightly described as Resurrection Day, gives us pause to reflect on God’s eternal plan to provide payment for our sin debt. As the Bible explains, creation was in God’s own words ‘good’ and ‘very good’. Along comes Satan disguised as a serpent, to tempt Adam and Eve to disobey God’s specific instructions. As a result, all mankind was, and is born with a sin nature, and God’s perfect creation is damaged. Because God knows all things, he also knew this would happen. In his eternal wisdom, He also provided the means to pay the penalty for sin. No person could ever pay their own sin debt, much less the sins of anyone else.

In the book of Romans, it is written “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It also states, the “wages of sin is death.” In light of this, God planned to provide a sacrifice that would satisfy His demand of payment for sin. This sacrifice would be in the person of his only Son, Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world (you and me), that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead proves God’s power over death, and fulfills his promise of eternal life to all who will believe.

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:12).

In His grace,
Pastor Jerry

No Signal

Another week has gone by. That elusive season we call ‘spring’ keeps teasing us with little glimpses of sunshine between the clouds. I just know that someday soon, we will experience the spring season in all its floral beauty.

Have you ever had one of those times when trying to make things right, you end up with a whole other set of problems? Last month, we purchased a new sofa-sleeper for our living room. After somewhat of a struggle, and with the help of a passing neighbor, we got the beast out of the pickup and into the living room. After unpacking it, we discovered a cut in the fabric, right in plain sight. I called the store, anticipating a refund of some sort, only to be told, “we will replace it, just bring it back and pick up another one.” So… last Monday, we returned the damaged one, loaded up the replacement, brought it home and unloaded it. By now, we had a system worked out, and it was much easier. However, I said if this one had any flaws, we were going to keep quiet about it. Enough is enough!

As I sat waiting for the church service to start, I noticed two words at the bottom of the screen at the front of the church: NO SIGNAL, meaning the projector was getting no signal from the computer. Several things came to mind at that moment. The one we can take a lesson from is this; Why is it we sometimes feel we have lost our connection to God? I can see three reasons. First, when our prayer time has been replaced by the cares of the day. Second, when we have unconfessed sin in our lives. And, third, when we fail to spend some part of the day reading and studying God’s Word.

Rather than asking why is there no word from God, the question should be, what am I doing to restore the communication that has been lost. As someone said many years ago, if you feel separated from God, guess who moved? We are told in Romans 12:12, to be persistent in prayer. As for a time alone with God, Jesus tells us to pray to God in private (Matt 6:6). And it goes without saying that God speaks through His word, if we will only read it.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

Tune-up or Overhaul?

Dear readers,
I always struggle with what kind of salutation is best to open these weekly conversations. Sadly, there are not many original greetings available to me. Perhaps I should just use ‘to whom it may concern.’ I guess this is just another challenge to a weekly writer.

In a previous time, I did a bit of mechanic work for myself and a few neighbors. Some of the vehicles that came into the shop needed a minor tune-up to be restored to working order. There were others, however, that needed a complete overhaul in order to perform correctly.

These days, as the effects of age begin to be more noticeable, we wonder at times if we, too, are in need of a tune-up, or a complete overhaul? In this new year, there may be a few people still committed to exercise and diet, as means to tune-up their bodies.

What about your spiritual well-being? Are you looking for a new year makeover? Will you be needing an overhaul or tune-up? Maybe a new you?

Here are a few suggestions from the Bible, beginning with our basic spiritual condition as defined by God. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Other scriptures point out the fact that because of Adam, we all are born in sin, needing an overhaul, if you will.

Jesus said the remedy for this condition is a new birth. In His words; “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5). This would be a complete overhaul, a new beginning. In fact, a new creation, according to scripture.

When Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet in the upper room, Peter objected, insisting he needed a bath. Jesus answered him, “One who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean” (John 13:9). One who is saved, need only be cleansed from recent sins. John refers to this in his first letter, written to believers; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This, too, could be likened to a tune-up.

Renewed in Him,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Family Plan

Dear friends,
Summer is here! When you live near a body of water, large or small, you can be sure there will be people celebrating summer. It is not any different here at Lake Ericson. Lots of people enjoying everything summer. Boats, beverages, bonfires, barbeques, and families playing together. Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. The Ericson 4th of July tradition continued this year, with a parade and kid’s rodeo. Some things never change, and that’s good. Thanks to those who make it happen year after year.

Thinking of families, something that has been on my mind recently is the epidemic of fractured families, and the downplaying of the importance of marriage in general. The following commentary is distilled from a recent sermon titled “Families: A Gift from God.”

The Bible is quite clear in presenting God’s plan for the family, and its importance in how His world works. We read, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him’” (Genesis 2:18). In Genesis 1:27-28, we read, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

A mom and a dad are always a woman and a man, no matter what the culture is promoting today. Each partner has responsibilities and gifts that complement the other. Together they are a complete unit. If one is absent, the whole system is unbalanced.

I believe the problem of broken marriages and all that goes with it, can be traced back to the abandonment of belief in God, and the complete rejection of his plan for marriage and families. However, it is not too late. Confession of our sin and repenting of it will bring a restored relationship with the Lord, and a return to his values and the resulting blessings.

Pastor Greg Laurie said this; Think of how different it would be if we just obeyed one of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). It would mean that families would still be together. It would mean that children wouldn’t be conceived out of wedlock and would have a stable father figure in their lives. You can take almost every social ill in our nation and trace it to the breakdown of the family.

Praying for healthy families,
Pastor Jerry