Archive for the ‘Rest’ Category

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

On Blessings and Trials

You may have noticed there was no article from me last week. I had one of those springtime colds that left me no desire to do anything, except to survive. I am much better now, thank you.

I’ll give you a brief recap of the missing week: It started Monday with a trip on to Grand Island to get some things for the lake house. On my way home from Grand Island with the little trailer behind the van, I stopped for gas and realized I had lost the trailer. To say I was surprised, would be an understatement. On examination, I discovered the receiver hitch pin was missing, as was the hitch and trailer.

It was a little like the Bible story of the woman who had ten coins and lost one. She went to great lengths to find the lost one. I have several trailers, and I was not one bit concerned about the ones left at home, but was very interested in finding the lost one. I did find the trailer and its cargo sitting upright and in great condition, parked in the edge of a cornfield beside the highway. This was cause for celebration and praise to the Lord for keeping it safe and out of the way of others on the road.

Tuesday, there was a visit to the tax man. The blessing of that was, in spite of a fairly large amount of tax due the IRS, it could have been much worse.

In the middle of the week, came the beginning of the aforementioned cold or flu, whatever it was. I even stayed home from church that Sunday and let someone else preach in my place.

Last week was spent regaining my strength and motivation, and it ended yesterday celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus with many of our church family. I also had the privilege of conducting a baby dedication service just prior to the Easter message.

It was a couple of weeks of blessing and trial, with the several blessings making the trials seem less important. Looking back, I see that the happenings of the last 14 days allowed me to pause and see what matters most. It begins with my faith in the Risen Lord, and knowing that He is in charge of every situation, good or bad.

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Real Peace

Here is a brief update from last week. The problem with the pickup was an injector that stuck open. It was a somewhat easy and relatively inexpensive fix. We’re thankful it wasn’t a major breakdown.

Sunday evening, we were at the lake house. I was sitting with a pen and yellow pad, looking out the window and thinking of a topic for this column. There was no wind, and the lake was as smooth as glass. It was just quiet and still, and it made me feel at peace.

Here are a few of my thoughts from this. There is much in the world that is far from peaceful and quiet, but for a short time, in that spot, there seemed to be real peace. In life most people are seeking peace of some kind. It may be that there would be peace between nations, that there would be no more war. Sometimes it is just that we would be at peace in our relationships with other people, or maybe that the battles within ourselves would cease.

Peace, as described in the Bible, begins with the knowledge of God. Isaiah, says of those without God: “The way of peace they do not know” (Isaiah 59:7). Paul quotes this verse in Romans 3, as he describes sinners (Romans 3:10-18).

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells those who have placed their trust in Jesus to be anxious about nothing, to bring their concerns and burdens to the Lord, and “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

The peaceful scene at the lake won’t last. Storms will come and the wind will make waves upon the water. We are promised trials and tribulation in this world, but the one who is anchored in the Lord will have peace in the midst of the storm.

As children of God, we can say with confidence, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8).

I close this week with these words from 2 Thessalonians 3:16. “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

Held in His hands,
Pastor Jerry

Waiting for a Mansion

Hello all,
It’s cloudy and mild at the lake this morning. The trees have lost most of their leaves, and it’s looking like we need to be getting ready for winter.

Last week, as we were busy putting up new cabinets, and planning other improvements to the house, this comment was made: “It’s not a mansion, but it will do.” In this, I was reminded that this world is not my home; that there is a far better place to which I will go at the end of this life. This is true of everyone who has placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Hebrews 11, that great chapter on faith, the faithful listed there are called aliens and strangers on earth. In describing the faithful who had died, the writer said, “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:15-16).

The fine mansions people pride themselves in for this life, will someday disappear. Those whose hope is in the Lord will receive their reward. Listen to the words of Peter: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (you talk about global warming)…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

You have heard these words of Jesus many times: “In my Father’s house are many rooms (some versions say ‘mansions’); if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

Be it a mansion or a room, it will be infinitely better to be in the presence of the Lord for all eternity! The old song has it right. This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. Scripture reminds us we will walk on streets of pure gold (Revelation 21:21).

Looking for that city,
Pastor Jerry