Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

Turn to Jesus

Dear readers,
Gardening season has ended for 2021. Those freezing temps for two or three nights in a row were effective. It is a welcome break from the heat we have been experiencing. Afternoons have been pleasant, but I suspect colder highs are nearer than we would like.

If you are like me, some days just seem too much to bear. Are you worn down by worry or concern over your situation today? What is a person to do? The answer is found in God’s word. The scripture verse for today is Psalm 27:14. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Another Psalm tells us our help comes from Him. “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

It is an old, old story, but Jesus came to this earth to bring salvation to all people, and to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice that would pay our sin debt and give us eternal life. These are His words, “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my words and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Also, “For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

God says in Isaiah 45:22, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God and there is no other.” Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Here are comforting words from a favorite hymn:
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Dear friends,

My trusty laptop has decided to take a vacation this week. I will be taking it to the repair shop Monday, but for now I’m using an older one that doesn’t have all the perks I’m used to. This will be a re-learning experience, I am sure. We managed to get a little rain last week. As usual, we didn’t get the amount we thought we needed, but we are thankful for every drop.

This month, I will have the blessing of sharing God’s word with three different churches. In light of the ongoing news from Afghanistan, I believe it is proper to share a thought or two from the message I am preaching.

It is no secret that the Taliban there in Afghanistan, and other places around the world, are bent on destroying Christianity. It is in their teaching that followers of Jesus Christ are to be killed, as well as anyone who doesn’t submit to their religion. The persecution of Christians in that part of the world is real, and it is going on now. However, the Bible tells us God is just and righteous, and He will have the final say.

The apostle Paul wrote this to the persecuted church in Thessalonica, “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering, God is just. He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling… We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12).

Look to Jesus,

Pastor Jerry

Perspective on Disaster

Dear readers,

There is not much new here this week. Summer seems to be winding down, and I notice the days getting shorter. For a time, I was waking up to early morning light, now I need to turn on the light in the morning. After procrastinating for a time, I power-washed the deck this week, and we have been busy applying a new coat of stain. Milrae mentioned that it seems harder than it was the last time we did it.

School will soon be starting, and in some cases has started for another year. As always, we pray for students and teachers. It seems there are more challenges each year to providing a good education, and one that will bring about the most benefit to the learners.

The news for Saturday told of an earthquake in Haiti. This is just one more disaster to hit that nation in recent times. We must pray for the people there, as they deal with all the destruction and loss of life. Once again, we are reminded that the forces of nature are at times deadly. We live in a broken world, and due to man’s sin in the Garden of Eden, it will remain broken until such time as God sees fit to restore His creation to its original design. As devastating as these disasters are, God is not taken by surprise, and He is still in control of His creation. As we look back on the events of history, let us remember that history, from beginning to end, is all about His Story!

Events like this should serve to remind us of the fragility of life, and the need for every person to place his or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We wonder what brought this on; is this a result of someone’s sin, or is God judging a nation or people with this disaster? In response to a question concerning some men who had died at the hand of Pilate, and some who died when a tower collapsed, Jesus replied, “Do you think they were more guilty than all others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5). His point is, rather than find fault with those who had died, they should be reminded of their own need to repent and be saved.

Jesus saves!

Pastor Jerry

Stand With Israel

Hello friends and family,

This past week has been pleasant. We didn’t see any of those extremely hot days, and it has cooled nicely at night. We could certainly use a nice rain or two, but since we aren’t in control of that, we’ll have to ask the One who is to send us some.

I hurt my shoulder in a strange way last week. It happened as I was lying down for my afternoon nap. I’m chalking it up to the fragility of old age, but whatever the cause it was painful. After a trip to the chiropractor on Monday, it is much better, thank you.

As we watch and listen to the changing culture, I am reminded of a statement I heard many years ago relating to the question of why America isn’t mentioned in Bible prophecy. The answer given was this; America will cease to be a force for Christianity. It certainly appears that we are headed in that direction today. It is a fact that Christianity is growing rapidly in many areas of the world, while the western world becomes more secularized. Here in our country, Christian voices are being shut down, while the godless become more and more vocal.

We know from Scripture that Israel will be restored to fellowship with God as His chosen people. The Gentile world is warned that disregard for Israel will be judged and punished. It is also clear that a set number of Gentiles (non-Jews) will become followers of God before Jesus returns.

God said to Abram (later named Abraham), “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). As I see some in our government calling for boycotting Israel, I want to say, “you don’t know what you are getting yourselves into.”

God withdrew His blessing from Israel because of their disobedience, and gave Gentile believers the responsibility for sharing God’s plan of salvation, but He will restore the Jews to their intended position as His chosen. We must be faithful to stand for the truth of the gospel, and to defend Israel until the Lord returns to take us all to glory.

For His glory,

Pastor Jerry

Where Will You Be?

Hello friends,
Summer is still here, as evidenced by the temperature forecast for this week. It was a busy weekend at the lake; the campgrounds were full and the river was crowded with tanks, kayaks, and other floating devices. The swimming area was busy, as is usual on sunny days. We are beginning to enjoy some produce from the garden. We wait for this season with anticipation, and have never been disappointed. It has occurred to me that the Labor Day holiday is a mere six weekends away. Where has the summer gone?

Every week, I search for a topic for these articles. There is no shortage of things to catch my attention, but which ones to comment on? From the Christian point of view, it seems more and more there is an anti-God mentality. At every point, the culture is downplaying the existence of God, and the need to follow His teaching. Jesus Christ is seen as nothing more than an ordinary human being, who lived a good life, or even a good teacher, and His followers are painted as being out of step with the times.

The following statement is a quote from Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary: “I think convictional conservative Christians are in the predicament of being considered by the world, to be what we are not accustomed to experiencing and that is, they’re looking at us as people on the wrong side of history, people on the wrong side of morality, people on the wrong side of all the revolutions that are running their course these days.” (World Magazine, 7/16/21).

I believe that the One in charge of history will eventually show the world the true side of history. He will prove that He is who He says He is. And everyone who ever lived will bow at His feet and acknowledge His lordship. Those who know Him will be rewarded, and those who rejected Him will be judged. This doesn’t mean life for His followers will be easy, but that they will be on the right side at the end.

“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God’’’.
“So, then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10c-12).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Price of Freedom

Dear friends,
It was a busy week for us. We finished up our short camping trip on Wednesday, arriving home mid-afternoon. Thursday was spent catching up on mowing and other yard work. Friday there was decorating for the Fourth of July observance and baking for the Lake Ericson bake sale. Friday evening, I attended the rehearsal for a wedding I was to perform on Saturday. Ericson Lake Corporation’s annual meeting was Saturday morning, with the wedding taking place at 4 PM an hour away. It was a fun wedding (aren’t they all?), and I made it back home in plenty of time for the annual fireworks display at the lake. Sunday morning, our church provided a free pancake, sausage and egg breakfast to all who could come. Retirement is busy, not boring!

As I thought of the Independence Day celebration, I was reminded again that the freedoms we have in our country are often taken for granted by a large part of the population. We forget the sacrifices that many have made, so that we can be a free people.

There is another freedom that is available to us, and that is freedom from the penalty of sin. Born sinners, we owe a debt we cannot pay. Jesus, going to the cross of Calvary paid our sin debt once for all. It was for all who would believe in Him, those who do not believe will not escape the penalty they deserve. God, in His grace and mercy provided the Lord Jesus as the perfect payment, but only by believing in his death and resurrection can we be saved.

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. (Romans 10:9).
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).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (John 1:12).
Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God. (1 John 1:9)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Priority

Dear readers,
I believe the planting is done for this season, but that is not the final word. We had a few frosty mornings, but almost all the plants survived. The only possible casualty is the zucchini, but I will allow it to be replaced if necessary (insert smiley face). The Lord has seen fit to provide some needed moisture, and we will trust him to send more as needed.

I actually spent some time fishing last week. It has been awhile, and I realized this when I tried to open one of my tackle boxes. It sat on a shelf in the garage so long that it practically disintegrated at my touch! As far as catching any fish, I caught one small bass below the dam, and another slightly larger one in the lake proper. Both were released to bite/fight again another day.

Here is an observation I made a couple of weeks ago that reminds me of the need for parents to examine their priorities. Actually, the word should be priority since the word indicates there can really be only one, not multiples. So, what should be our one priority? According to scripture, it is to teach our children about God, the Bible, and their need for a Savior.

Recently on the news, I noticed parents were rushing to get their kids vaccinated for Covid19. It occurred to me they were in a hurry to protect them from something they might not have to deal with until they are older. At the same time, many of these parents are willing to let their children wait to make a decision on their salvation until they can decide for themselves. Where is the sense in that?

God’s instruction to parents, concerning his commands is this: “Teach them (His words) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Paul’s instruction to fathers is this; “Bring them (children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Our priority is always to secure our family members’ salvation by leading them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, whatever happens, whether by some virus, an accident or any other means, at death their destination is heaven.

A final thought; Put first things first, always.

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preparing for Battle

Dear friends,
It continues to be an unpredictable kind of spring. We go from nice warm days to frosty mornings. There have been periods of rain, snow and sunshine—all within a few minutes. The big project of the week was installing a new washing machine in the house. These things take longer than when we were younger, but still, it is satisfying to know it can be done. While we were in Grand Island picking up the washer we made a garden center stop, now there are things to plant in the yard. I attended our church association meeting Sunday. It was good to connect with other church leaders and encourage one another in our ministries.

Every day I am reminded that we are in a spiritual battle. It is a battle between good and evil; the people of God versus the forces loyal to Satan. The Bible tells us we have been provided with a full suit of armor with which to defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. We read of this in Ephesians 6:10-20. Verse 11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

These are the items of armor as listed in this passage: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

They are described this way; Truth counters the devils lies. We need to know the truth of the Bible. Righteousness is like armor on our chests, not self-righteousness but Christ’s righteousness given to us when we are saved. It will keep the devil’s forces from defeating us spiritually.
Peace is the peace of God that comes from trusting Him.
Faith allows us to deflect the temptations that come at us.
Salvation, described as a helmet gives us power to live as those who are delivered from the power and penalty of sin.
The word of God is the Bible, seen as a weapon designed for hand-to-hand combat. It is the word of God spoken, made effective by the Holy Spirit, to cut through the devil’s lies.

Clothing ourselves each day with this armor and connecting it all together with prayer gives the Christian the means by which we defeat our enemy. Pray also for other believers.

In Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
April is moving along as usual, bringing to mind the saying “Time waits for no man.” For instance, I had hoped to wait a few days to mow the lawn, but the grass had a different time schedule. We have not only mowed the first time this year, but flower beds have been cleaned and other preparations for summer are in the works.

The camper has been taken to the repair shop for some minor issues, and we hope to begin the new season soon. I was told we had to get the camping out of the way before time to start caring for the garden. Since I enjoy the produce as much as anyone, this sounds like a reasonable approach.

In case you have been wondering about our cat; be assured she has taken over our lives. She has learned to let us know when she wants to come in and when she wants out, and her dish never has enough food in it. As I write this, she is sleeping beside my chair.

As I observe the things going on in our world, I am continually reminded that many people have no concept of God or of his Word. The world is seeking answers for mankind’s problems in all the wrong places. Rather than finding out what God really says about the human condition, the world prefers to listen to false teachers and to follow ungodly leaders who deny the very existence of a Creator God.

I believe we are at the place Paul describes in his instructions to Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As we live in our world, may we be witnesses to God’s power and majesty, as we tell others of His love and his saving gospel. To Him be glory and praise forever!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Amazing Grace

Dear friends,
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon as I write this. The past week was rather cool with some rain. Our forecast is for cool temperatures early in the week, followed by a warming trend. I expect we’ll see more evidence of spring in the days to come. We have both been staying home nursing colds, but we are steadily improving and should return to normal soon. Once again I find, we too often take good health for granted.

This week brings two very important days in the Christian church calendar; Good Friday and Resurrection Day (Easter). Good Friday commemorates the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Resurrection celebrates his rising from the tomb. These two events are the basis of our hope in eternal salvation. The Bible clearly states there is no other way to be saved from our sins but by placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I write on this topic often, because to me this is the most important decision a person can make in life. In my own experience, the day I chose to follow Jesus my life was changed in ways I could not have imagined before. So, to this day, like the old song says, “I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love.”

I was cruising along through life, thinking I was doing pretty good, taking my wife and two boys to church on Sunday. Then one day as the pastor was preaching from Romans chapter ten, I heard these words: 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” (Romans 10:9). This was an eye opener for me! Up to this point, I thought I just had to be a little better person than someone else. Now I was learning that my own self-righteousness was worthless in God’s eyes.

Later, I heard these words; For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

A dear friend passed away this week, and we rejoice that he is now in heaven, because he believed what these verses taught. Amazing grace, how sweet it sounds!

Anchored in Him,
Pastor Jerry