Archive for the ‘Rest’ Category

Don’t Be Afraid

Happy New Year!
A new year is upon us, and it seems for many people that 2016 was stressful and worrisome in many ways. There are worries about terrorism, drive-by shootings and random violence. Many are concerned about finances and other issues. Here are some thoughts and some biblical assurances for those who could use some encouragement.

The Bible is packed with uplifting and encouraging passages, both in the Old and New Testaments. During a recent cold spell, I notice the little birds at our feeder, and remembered that God takes care of them by providing their food. He doesn’t put it in their mouths, but he does provide. Their responsibility, it would seem, is only to partake of his goodness. If we have a bird feeder, we become part of his plan to provide for those little birds. I doubt they worry, because I believe God created them be worry free.

These are His words for us:
“Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Matthew 6:25-27… “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. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Jesus spoke to his followers, telling them of persecution to come, and said this: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear. Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:4-7).

When we put our faith and trust in the Lord, we need not fear the future.

Have a worry-free 2017,
Pastor Jerry

Peace on Earth

We finished with painting some rooms in our house this week. I suppose this could be a Christmas gift of sorts. This is something my lovely wife has been wanting for some time, and I’m glad we were able to find someone to get the job done. I will have more on this in an upcoming article.

Where is the promised peace?
After the angel announced the birth of the Savior to the shepherds, we read this: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:8-14).

The angel’s announcement to the shepherds was of peace on earth, and as we read the words, we see that this peace would come to those on whom God’s favor rests, meaning those who put their faith in this newborn babe.

Jesus himself did not promise that true peace would exist before his second coming. He said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34).

Another prophecy fulfilled in Jesus Christ is found in Isaiah 42:1-4. “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
til he leads justice to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.”

Two of the elements of the Advent season are hope and peace. For the Christian, this means hope as a settled assurance of things to come, and the peace that comes only from the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts.

Again, as he prepared to leave his disciples, Jesus promised to leave his peace with them. What did he mean, if he didn’t come to bring peace?

The peace he left us with is not peace as the world sees it (John 14:27), but instead, he leaves us with peace in our hearts because of our relationship with the Father through the Son. In this, we have hope.

Merry Christmas,
Pastor Jerry

On the Changing Seasons

I have worked outdoors most all my life, and looking from my current vantage point, I see that my view of the changing of the seasons was more oriented to my work than to the actual God-ordained seasonal changes.

Maybe it is because of another birthday, but I’ve become more aware of the gradual transition between those seasons. Lately, I’ve noticed a subtle change taking place as summer makes way for fall. Leaves turn from green to gold, temperatures cool, and the winds are becoming more northerly. Nature seems to be taking a short rest in anticipation of the changes ahead. There is a quietness to the mornings and evenings that wasn’t there in the hot summer months.

We have the idea that the seasons change quickly, but that is a misconception. There are slow, but inevitable signs of coming change. It is much the same in our own lives. We don’t suddenly wake up some morning and discover we are teen-agers. Likewise, we don’t arrive at old-age overnight. There is constant change, leading up to each stage of life.

It is the same with our spiritual life. It seems as we get older, there is a new awareness of the changing seasons of our lives. God has a plan for each person, and there are seasons of change as he brings us to maturity. When we become Christians, we do not stay the same. There are stages of growth, each one leading to another, until he takes us home to heaven.

It was King Solomon who wrote “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

In his book “The Seasons of God”, Richard Blackaby reminds us there are seasons in our lives. They aren’t all about just being born, living to a ripe old age and departing from this life. Instead, he focuses on the fact that just as in nature, the seasons keep repeating throughout our individual lives. At each stage in life, we each move from a beginning to an ending, only to move on to another beginning, and so on.

Here is the problem; as we go through life, we get caught up in our labors and our own self-effort, and fail to see those seasons. In particular, we overlook what God is doing in us, for us, and through us.

Reflecting,
Pastor Jerry

Real Peace

Again this week, there have been incidents of violence, both in our country and in others. It seems the more pleas there are for peace, the further we get from any kind of real peace. This, I believe would be a good time to see what God has to say about what constitutes true peace.

First, we read in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, “You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:2). It starts with placing our trust in God. Trusting God will bring peace that will help us persevere (hang in there) in times of trouble. Isaiah goes on to say, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal” (verse 3).

King David wrote this: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

Jesus, in John’s gospel, 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). Further in John’s gospel, as he prepared his disciples for his death, he said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” (John 16:33).

Regarding the world, and unsaved persons, the apostle Paul said, “the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:17-18).

Paul wrote this to the church at Philippi: “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).

Finally, this benediction: Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

In summary, only faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can bring genuine peace. I pray those who sow unrest would come to Him, and experience the peace that exceeds all human understanding.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

More Change

I am able to tell you today that this past Sunday was my official last day to preach at Sandhills Baptist Fellowship. The pastor search committee of the church has found the person they believe to be God’s man for the job. I had requested some time ago that they begin the process, as I felt the Lord leading me to pursue other interests.

I will continue to write these articles, and seek other ways to be involved in ministry. But, for the immediate future, we will finish moving into our house at the lake, and finding homes for all the items we don’t have room for. Then comes some time camping and just relaxing.

I am sure that God has more for us to do. I find no solid reference in the Bible to what we in America call “retirement.” In fact, the only reference I find is to the Old Testament priests retiring at age 50, then assisting the younger priests in their work (Numbers 8:25-26).

There are other passages that indicate God intends for us to commit to the long-haul as we serve and obey Him. Neither does He at some point stop His work in the believer’s life. Here are some scriptures for us to meditate on this morning.

Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The apostle Paul tells us God has work for us to do. After he tells us our salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, he says this: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Again in Philippians, Paul tells the believers there, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

I have many great memories of these years at SBF, and we have been blessed to serve here, but we will move on, seeking and following the Lord’s leading, as we go forward. I would not change these last 15+ years for anything, but we must go forward, running with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Leave It There

It’s Monday again, and time for another news update and devotional thought. I would never have believed, when I started composing these articles, that I would still be doing it. Thanks to all who have encouraged me along the way.

We are still in the moving process. I believe one never has a true understanding of how many things we accumulate until we try to move it from one place to another. I was told yesterday of a man who said everyone should put their place up for sale every ten years. The point is you may or may not sell it, but you will get it cleaned up. Wise words, I believe.

I am reminded once more of those Bible passages that speak of being unhindered in our Christian journey. The writer of Hebrews gives the illustration of an athlete running a race, leaving behind the things that slow him down and hinder his best effort. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). You get the picture.

The things that weigh us down and hinder our journey are many. Perhaps it is a load of guilt, or some sin that goes unconfessed that keeps us from being all that a Christian can be. Other burdens we may bear are jealousy, unforgiveness, anger, resentment, worry, and any number of others. Jesus encourages us to bring them to him, to come and leave them at the foot of the cross, as it were. Our problem most of the time, is that we lay our burdens down, then pick them up again when we leave. As we allow Him to remove those heavy loads we are carrying, we are able to live as free men and women. These are Jesus’ words; “You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Allow me to quote the words of an old hymn:
“Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
Leave it there, leave it there,
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there;
If you trust and never doubt,
He will surely bring you out—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Campground Meditations

Work is nearing completion on the addition to the house. Our attention will turn now to finishing the landscaping and some interior projects. I hope this means we will begin to really enjoy our surroundings and spend time getting to know our neighbors better.

Today I want to share some thoughts from time spent in a secluded campsite. As I sat enjoying the quiet early morning, it came to me than only in the country, with a setting of grass, trees, and water do we get back to the pure, uncontaminated world that the Creator desired. It doesn’t matter if the water is a stream, a lake, or the ocean. There is a little plaque on our wall at the lake house that says, “Heaven is a little closer by the water”, and I think it is true.

Almost any other place we visit shows more of sins corrupting influence on nature and mankind. This is part of why it seems right to just get away. In doing this, we perhaps sense the nearness of God in a much more real, dare I say intimate way. To come apart, as it were, from the distractions of being in the city, at the office, or even in a crowd of people anywhere. I believe a certain amount of intentional solitude is good for body and soul, much more than most people realize.

Jesus often went away by himself to pray, as we see in the following verses. “After he had dismissed them (the crowd of people), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23). “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). I wonder if those lonely places might have been by a stream or mountain lake.

Then this: When many people were coming and going, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32).

The advice He gave his disciples is perhaps even more important to us today, in this high speed, high pressure environment. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” May you find that quiet place this week.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry