Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

Real Peace

Dear friends,

We are settling in for a spell of cold weather. Last week was cold and windy here, but with very little snow. Further to the west and north, it was a much different story. Sunday night was the first of what we hope will be an annual event at our church. Called Soup and Song, there were several pots of delicious soup and trays of cookies and bars. This was followed by readings, special music, and the singing of Christmas carols. We look forward to seeing you there next year.

As 2022 winds down, and we approach a new year, I pray we not forget the message of Christmas. The future is uncertain, but we can enter it with confidence if we remember that God sent His Son to provide salvation for all who would believe in Him. The angels announced His coming, saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (ESV).

When we trust God’s promise of peace on earth, we aren’t speaking of the absence of war, but real peace within ourselves. This is because we know whatever happens in our future, we can be sure God has a plan. Please understand this peace comes only to those who know the Lord Jesus as Savior. Those with whom He is pleased are those who are His children. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Scripture tells us this, “He (Jesus) came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-12).

This Christmas season, may we see beyond the shopping, the bright lights and all the other activity. May we focus on the Reason for the season; Jesus, God with us, come to save the world from sin. Have you accepted His Gift? In the words of the apostle Paul, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Have a Blessed Christmas,

Pastor Jerry

A Savior was Born

Dear friends,

We finally received a bit of moisture. It was not much, but much more than we have had recently. As we continue to observe that first Christmas, I’ve been reflecting on different parts of the story.

As I thought about the Christmas story this week, I remembered those crisp clear nights out checking cows when stars were shining in a black sky. There was total silence, except for cow sounds. I then remembered the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds. Suddenly, the sky was full of angels praising God. What a mind blowing experience that must have been!

Terrified might have been a bit of an understatement, but the angel assured them it was all good. They went and saw the baby, and began to tell everyone about the experience.

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you. You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

                Glory to God in the highest heaven,

                and peace on earth to people he favors.

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven…, the shepherds hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:8-20).

Many years ago, the message of salvation through faith in Jesus came to me; not in the stillness of a dark night, but in the preaching of the gospel from our pastor at the time. Like those shepherds of old, this news changed my life. Do you know the Savior? Have you understood the message of the angel? Do you tell others what He has done for you?

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

It’s God’s Plan

Dear readers,
We have been enjoying the cooler weather, but the drought lingers on. The forecast is for possible precipitation mid-week. We’ll see if that prediction is true. The garden seems to be on its last leg. For whatever reason, the tomatoes just didn’t produce this year. Lately, the deer have been pruning the tomato and pepper plants. As with all agriculture endeavors–maybe next year!

I was able to attend our local church association meeting Sunday evening. It is exciting to hear what the Lord is doing through His churches in our part of the world. Small churches are making a difference in the lives of many in rural Nebraska.

I have been building a dog house, and no, it’s not for me as someone asked. This project has reminded me of the importance of having a plan with clear instructions. Making it up as you go along is harder than being prepared. The old adage is true; When all else fails read the directions. It is the same when planning for eternity. Getting to heaven on your own isn’t just hard, it’s impossible! You might build a dog house by your own effort and ability, but you can’t save yourself.

Regarding our salvation, there is no self-help guide. There is a plan, though. God has provided a way to eternal life and it has nothing to do with me doing it on my own. Salvation comes only by placing my faith in Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection. There is no plan B, no other way to God except through Christ our Lord. His instructions are plainly stated in the Bible.

The Bible says this, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus, when speaking to Nicodemus, said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).

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

Freedom

Dear readers,
Camping at our grandson’s last week was uneventful, and we enjoyed our time with him. The excitement happened on the way home. First of all, the temperature was nearing 100 degrees when we left Mitchell Wednesday morning. We had a head-wind that was probably 25-30 mph, with higher gusts. Needless to say, we could almost see the fuel gauge in free-fall. After a late lunch in O’Neill, we fueled up and continued our trip home. At one point, I looked in the mirror and realized that a window had blown out of the camper. We were going down the road with a mini-blind sticking out of the opening. That window had issues when we bought the camper, and in hindsight I should have repaired it long ago.

Some folks will read this on July 4th, but others not until later in the week. I want to just reflect on the significance of the holiday, and what we celebrate. Our country is a republic; this means we have a representative government, as opposed to a monarchy, or a dictatorship. In this, we have freedoms that people in many other countries do not have.

One thing often forgotten is that with freedom comes responsibilities. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever one desires. As residents of a free country, we are to obey the laws, respect other people and their property, and be productive members of society.

As we speak of freedom in the context of a nation, we also look to the Bible for the freedom we have in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Faith in Jesus brings freedom from the penalty of sin and freedom from guilt. Paul writes of this in Romans 8:1-2, when he says, “Therefore no condemnation exists for those in Christ, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Beyond freedom from the penalty of sin, Paul also speaks of freedom from the power of sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to resist habitual disobedience. “For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.

Jesus said, “He (God the Father) has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18b).

Free in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Dear friends,
As we enter summer’s heat, prayers would be in order for some timely rains, specifically without hail or damaging winds. We have had enough of those for this year.

Have you heard any good news lately? It is hard to find good news these days if we look at the world and all that is taking place around us. It is easy, it seems, to focus on all the bad and overlook any positive reporting. Maybe it is a lack of good news, but it is possible we are looking in the wrong places.

There is good news in the Bible, much good news in fact. God called his creation good, but Adam sinned and brought judgment on man and on creation. In spite of this, God had a perfect plan to redeem both man and creation. He would provide a way for man’s sin-debt to be paid, leading to the salvation of sinful man and the restoration of the created world.

The plan God had for paying man’s penalty for sin would require a perfect sacrifice, which God himself would provide. That perfect sacrifice would be God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is good news.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

John the Baptist introduced Jesus by saying, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world… I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was with two of his disciples, and as Jesus was passing by, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29-36).

More good news from a familiar passage: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-19).

Good News!
Pastor Jerry

One Way

Dear readers,
After a very cool overnight temperature (28 degrees here), we had a beautiful Sunday. Let’s hope this was the last we see of frost until fall. Our new garden plants and flowers escaped any damage because someone (not me) covered them all the night before. On the topic of weather, it would be good if all God’s people continued to pray for rain, as many areas are still in need of beneficial rains.

I had the pleasure of speaking at Grace Bible Church in Loup City on Sunday, and the ladies who provide the music let me join in. We had a guitar trio… two acoustics and an electric bass. It is good when God’s people worship in song.

The message for Sunday focused on the need for Christians to know what they believe and why. To quote a well-known evangelical pastor, we need to “remember what we know.” A survey from 2021 found that nearly three-fourths of U.S. adults said they believe in heaven, but there was widespread disagreement about how to get there. Among all Americans, nearly 40 percent said heaven will be the home of those who do not even believe in God. Among those calling themselves Christians, 58 percent said there are multiple religions that can lead to heaven. (Pew Research Center, November 23, 2021).

Many preachers today are preaching from the culture, making their message acceptable to everyone. We need preachers to preach the Word of God that convicts people of their sin, in order to turn them to the Savior. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). It does not speak of many ways, nor any other “truth.” He also said this; Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13).

Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep…; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:7-9). Paul wrote, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Easter Reflections

Dear readers,

Here is a sure sign of spring at Lake Ericson…kids with golf carts. This is not a bad thing, as it is good to see families enjoying the lake. Also, there were campers here this weekend. This reminds me to remind those who are contemplating camping at the lake, there are no campfires allowed until further notice. This is due to the extreme drought conditions in the area.

We, along with millions of other Christians, celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus on Sunday. Because of our belief and faith in his finished work on the cross, we look forward with great anticipation to that day we will meet him face-to-face. As the old hymn says, “What a day that will be!”

It is a story I never get tired of hearing or telling. The idea that God would provide His Son as the sinless sacrifice for the whole world is impossible to grasp by our little minds. Yet, we are told in his word, that this is exactly what has taken place.

The following verses speak to this fact: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God, though our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:6).

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13).

In His unending love,
Pastor Jerry

What Should We Do?

Hello friends,
After the winds of last week, we will not complain about a mild 25 mph breeze. We continue in prayer for those affected by the wildfire that destroyed so much in the south-central part of the state. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to dedicate some extra time to pray for rain. The lack of beneficial moisture is at a critical stage. We have some spring flowers starting to bloom, so I guess it’s time to start watering.

This week following Palm Sunday is when we begin to contemplate the events leading up to Easter, or to Resurrection Sunday, as I prefer to call it. It began with betrayal by one of his disciples, followed by the illegal trial orchestrated by the religious leaders who hated him, then the horrible mistreatment of him by the Roman soldiers, culminating in his death on a cross and burial in a borrowed tomb. We can never get our minds around what he went through as he suffered for us. He had asked the heavenly Father to spare him, yet yielded himself to God’s will. We could never pay our own sin debt, so he willingly took it upon himself.

Then came Sunday morning. The women who had followed him came to the tomb to prepare his body for burial, but found the tomb open, and the body of Jesus nowhere to be found. An angel sitting by the open tomb said, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said.

Jesus is alive! So, we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday. Friday was good, in spite of the horror of the crucifixion. Good, in that from this we have forgiveness of our sins, and the promise of eternal life for those who believe.

Peter, in his sermon to the Jews on Pentecost said this, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:36-38).

Have you trusted him for your Savior?

Because He Lives,
Pastor Jerry

Child of God

Dear friends,
We received some rain and snow this past weekend. This is a major blessing, as it has been a while since we have had moisture of any kind.

It seems we are in a time of uncertainty, the likes of which we have not seen in recent memory. As I think about this, I am reminded of God’s promise to always be with his people. He is with us in the present, and he will be there when we get through the trials we endure.

“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 CSB).

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 CSB).

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV).

We do need to remember these promises are for God’s people. Those, who by faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross, have become children of God. “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10-13).

Paul writes this, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry