Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

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

Ready or Not?

Dear friends,
I believe my battle with Covid is over. With each new day, I see improvement. The recent cold snap has encouraged us to stay indoors and be thankful for a warm place to stay.

As our world gets crazier every day, it is important to remember that our God is not sleeping, nor is he surprised by the things that are happening. Scripture reminds us again and again of unsettled times that will come, even reminding us that these are indications of the eventual return of Jesus Christ.

We read these words in Scripture: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

He goes on to say, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man… “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:3-8; 36-44).

As we see the events of the day unfolding, let’s not focus on whether the Lord returns soon, but that we are ready when he does. Today is the day of salvation. It is not too late.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

The Savior is Waiting

Dear friends,
The Covid bug has landed at our house. I had been having some odd symptoms, so I went to the clinic and consented to the test. It came in positive, so we’re enjoying some isolation time. Our nice weather is continuing, but we are in need of beneficial moisture. I think that is a thing upon which we all can agree. ‘Tis the beginning of calving and lambing, so no blizzards please, Lord.

Due to a lack of inspiration and ambition this week, I will share something from a few years back. As we were traveling, we saw a mule deer doe and her fawn crossing the road. The doe stopped at the edge of the road to wait for the fawn, and when he had reached her side, she continued to look back and wait. As I slowed down and wondered why she didn’t keep going on to safety, a second fawn ran across the road in front of us. All three then continued on toward the hills.

I see here a picture of our Lord. He waits for his children. The Bible says he will not let any of his children perish: “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28).

He waits also, for those who are not yet his. Listen to the words of 2 Peter 3:9b; “he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

In this illustration, I see two things we can count on. First, Jesus promised when we place our faith in him, we have eternal life and can never lose it. The word never means ‘not ever’.

Second, He promises patience with the one who has not yet chosen to follow him. If you are someone who has not asked Jesus onto your heart and life, he is waiting for you. Just know that someday he will return for his own and you need to be ready. He says in Matthew 24:44… “So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

In the words of the old gospel song, “Why do you wait dear brother, your Savior is waiting… why not come to him now?”

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry