Archive for the ‘Service’ Category

The Call: Part Two

The great fall weather continues. I don’t really remember seeing the colors as bright as they are this year. Every day the sunrise is more beautiful than the day before. I hesitate to post to many photos of our morning view, for fear you will be bored by them. A friend of mine wrote this week that God must be a Nebraskan, for all the beauty He has given us. Amen!

Now, on to our devotional thought for the week: As we saw last time, God calls us to salvation. That call is followed by God’s call to serve Him. Without answering the call to salvation, there can be no call to serve.

There are many ways to serve God. I suppose the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when I speak of serving the Lord, would be missionaries, or pastors. However, these are not the only ways Christians can serve the Lord. Here are several more:

Testimony… Live lives worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1)
Fellowship… Do not forsake meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25).
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
Meeting the needs of people. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you will; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it” (James 2:15-16)?

Service to the Lord shows in many ways, but the object of all service is to bring him praise and glory, along with introducing lost people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are not called to warm the church pews for one hour a week, then go silently back into the world. Every believer is to be obedient to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, …and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“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. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Go into all the world. Go and tell. Your salvation is shown by your obedience to God’s commands.

His Words,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts From the Sandhills

Dear friends,
We have taken a few days to get away and see some different scenery.

Our weekend was spent in Valentine at Old West Days. We heard some great music, some original cowboy poetry and some really funny stories; all part of the efforts of a few people committed to preserving our western heritage.

As we drove to Valentine Thursday afternoon, we came to a spot in the road that brought back a memory from 53 years ago as plain as yesterday. It was the day before our wedding. My fiancé, her bridesmaids, and I were on a mission to pick up a couple of dresses. At that particular spot on the highway, at about 85 mph, we encountered water on the highway, and the old ’58 Ford four door hydroplaned. We stayed on the road while fishtailing from one side of the road to the other. No one was injured, only scared half to death. The wedding took place the next day, and I have never forgotten that spot.

Friday afternoon, we took a side trip to Merritt reservoir, just to look around and try to find the places we camped, back when our boys were small. A lot has changed there in the intervening years, but we found familiar places nonetheless.

Saturday morning, I participated in a Christian Leadership Conference. I had to leave early, but was able to connect briefly with long-time friends and Christian leaders from all over our beloved Sandhills. The purpose of this training is to equip believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. The Sandhills of Nebraska has been called, ‘God’s Own Cow Country’, but I fear we have left Him out of our conversation far too long.

There is much talk in Christian circles about foreign missions, but I am and always will be convinced, there is a huge mission field right here in our corner of the world. There a thousands of good people living here, who do not have a real, personal relationship with Christ.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them” (Romans 10:13-14)?

Pray,
Pastor Jerry

God is Calling

As some of you know, we went “back home” yesterday, back to the neighborhood where we spent over 40 years of our married life. I had the blessing of sharing God’s word at our old church, and it was good to visit old friends. It was encouraging to see that the church is alive and well there, with young families making up a good part of the congregation.

My message concerned the call of God on the lives of individuals. I’d like to share a few highlights from that message for this week’s column.

There are at least two ways God calls people to himself. The first and most important is the call to salvation. This is a call to see our sinfulness, the need to confess that sin, to ask God’s forgiveness, and to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

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…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13).

The second call of God to the believer, is to serve Him. For some, it might be a call to pastoral ministry, or to some mission field. But for the vast majority, it is to serve in the local church or maybe to just share your story with a neighbor or with your friends. I don’t believe anyone who has chosen to follow Christ has the option of sitting on the sidelines waiting for others to do the work.

Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). Jesus’ command to his disciples is, “Come, follow me.”

Oh, God won’t force you to do anything. He has given us free will, but he might make it uncomfortable to be disobedient. Jonah ended up inside a big fish until he agreed to obey God. I believe no one is completely satisfied in this life unless he has Jesus in his heart, and is willfully serving God in some way.

In His service,
Pastor Jerry

Concerning Work

Hello friends,
We are a couple of weeks into the official summer season. This means the days are getting shorter, but it will be awhile before we notice much difference. The Independence Day holiday is soon to be history, and we will get down to our summer routine. For some, it will be watering and mowing the lawn, or tending a garden. For others, it will be watering crops, and harvesting a hay crop.

God put us here to work and to make a living, in order to provide for our families, and in the end to bring Him glory through our stewardship of what He has given us.

It begins is Genesis 2. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:9-10).
“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in His ways;
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours” (Psalm 128:1-2).

To those who would take advantage of other’s work by stealing, Paul said, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his hands.” And more good advice from Paul: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17), and this includes our vocation, whatever it may be.

So, as you go about your daily work routine this summer, whatever it is, work as for the Lord, because after all, he is the provider of all good things, even the daily labor he has called you to do. In addition, here is a bit of advice from the apostle Paul: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Memorial Day

The Memorial Service held Sunday at Lake Ericson was well attended, and kudos go to those who helped in any way. I won’t give names, because you know who you are, and I would miss someone. The program was followed by root beer, or orange floats. Yummy!

Memorial Day is one of those holidays that for many people, has lost some of its meaning. In the beginning, it was to honor fallen soldiers. At some point, deceased family members began to be included in the tradition. These days, for lots of people, it has become just another long weekend to spend at the lake, or the campground. The time is spent drinking adult beverages, and eating barbeque, probably with little or no thought of how we acquired the freedoms we are enjoying.

Attending a service such as the one held Sunday afternoon here at the lake, reminds us once again, of the blessings we experience living in the United States of America. Regardless of your view of current politics, this is still the best country in the world, bar none!

Honoring those who have served, and are serving our country, should be a priority for everyone. After all, it is their sacrifice that secured and preserved our freedom. In addition, much of whatever peace exists in the world today, is the result of America’s military strength and presence around the globe.

To repeat scripture shared at the service this afternoon, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Many are those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their countrymen.

Ultimately, peace will come to the earth when Christ returns as conquering King. For now, we are indebted to the peacekeepers in our military. May God bless and protect them, as they serve.

Some of you will read this after Memorial Day has passed; even so, would you say a prayer for our military personnel everywhere in the world? Thank you.

God bless America!
Pastor Jerry

Music in Worship

Dear friends,
Here is a lighter thought for the week. I like music. More specifically, I like good music. I prefer the old songs, although there is occasionally some good new music. However, to me, it seems no matter what the genre, the old music is much more comforting than the newer stuff. Maybe it is just a sentimentality issue from my perspective.

I took a trip into the past recently, via satellite radio, to listen to some of the songs that were popular when I was young. What I heard were songs reminiscent of what passes for music in many circles today. Apparently, songs with indistinguishable lyrics and non-melodic tunes, have been around longer than I thought. I found that some of the old-time stuff wasn’t all that good, musically speaking. I can understand my parents’ reaction to some of the ‘music’ I was listening to in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

God gave us music, I believe, and through it we have the blessing of using that music to worship Him. Scripture encourages us to use music in our worship, and because our worship is to bring God praise and glory, we would be wise to give our best. I’m not going to start a discussion of worship styles, or music preferences, but to draw attention to the praise aspect our music. Let’s look at some affirming scriptures.

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy (Psalm 33:1—3).

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music (Psalm 57:7).

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands (Psalm 92:1-4).

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).

And, remember, even if you can’t sing, you can still have a song in your heart.

Musically yours,
Pastor Jerry

On Serving Him

I didn’t go fishing last week, but I did go to the annual meeting of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists and catch a cold. So, from Wednesday to now, I’ve been in survival mode.

These annual meetings are for the purpose of conducting the business of the convention; electing officers, approving a budget for the coming year, etc. But, there are also sermons and Bible studies that both challenge and encourage us. Today, I’ll share just a couple of thoughts that caused me to examine my own life.

One statement was this: We need more dish towels, and fewer show towels. In every home, there are usually some show towels. You just know they are put on the towel bar for show. They are purely decorative, and not to be used for drying. But you also find dish towels. They are placed where they can be used for drying the dishes. If you want something dried, you find the dish towel.

In Christian service, there is a need for ‘dish towels’. We are to be useful in service to the Lord, not just hanging around for show. Jesus is our example, as he washed the feet of his disciples on the night of the Last Supper.

The other comment from one of the speakers that struck me, was the following: “If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.” This relates to my thoughts last year when headed to Good Samaritan Hospital on a helicopter, in the middle of the night.

I realized that if I survived whatever was wrong with me, that God must still have work for me to do. I did survive, and I am now in relatively good health. Although I retired from the pastoral role in my church, I am convinced that there is still more for me to do in the line of ministry. I will wait now to see where my Lord leads me. There is a hymn with these words: “Where He leads me I will follow. I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.”

These are the words of Jesus: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be” (John 12:26). To all of His followers, His command is, “come, follow me.”

Do you know Him? Are you following Him? Remember, “If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done!”

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Lesson From a Turtle

The fishing report has improved again. Last week I mentioned catching some fish. I went once this week, but came home with 2 northern pike in the 3 to 4-pound range. They were very tasty, and I see more fishing in the future.

Here is something fun. Search Google Maps for “Grace Bible Church, Loup City, Nebraska. There is a view of the congregation standing in a circle praying for their new church building, just as the satellite passed overhead. God is good!

Now This: One morning recently, I watched a small turtle come from my neighbor’s lawn, cross the street and make its way down the boat ramp to the lake, never turning to the left or to the right. This reminds me of those faithful believers, who plod along their way, focused on the goal, the salvation of their souls.

Hebrews 11:1-2… Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

“Though you have not seen him, you love him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2).

We may say with the apostle Paul, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the goodness of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Pressing on,
Pastor Jerry

Stand or Fall

Dear friends,
I drove to Topeka, Kansas last week for a meeting of Southern Baptist leaders from Kansas and Nebraska. As I traveled from the Sandhills of Nebraska to the Flint Hills of Kansas, I saw green. Usually, by mid-September, the pastures and crops are beginning to show traces of brown. Not so this year. Obviously, the Lord has blessed this whole section of the country with timely rains, although some of those rains have been excessive in certain areas.

Part of the discussion at our meeting centered on the Great Commission, that is Jesus’ command to go into all the nations and make disciples. More specifically, there was information on what the Kansas-Nebraska Convention is doing to take the gospel to rural America. If you know me, you know my heart is for reaching those in our part of the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. The need for people to hear and respond to God’s message of salvation is not limited to metropolitan areas and foreign countries.

On another somewhat related topic, Christians are facing challenges we have not seen in this generation. The world is abandoning any thought of God, and those who claim allegiance to the God of the Bible are being marginalized and shouted down at every turn. It isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The question is, will we stay true to the gospel and the truths of the Bible? Will we take the Great Commission seriously, and continue to share Christ with those we meet, or will we sit quietly and let the secular world-view prevail.

Know this, if we take a stand for God and his Word, we will face adversity, trials, and even persecution. We are told in the Scriptures to expect these things. Those same scriptures also remind us of the danger of failing to confess Christ as our Lord.

These are the words of Jesus: “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… I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God…” (Luke 12:4-9).

In Truth,
PJ

Hear and Obey

The lake community was a busy place this past weekend. From turtle racing, football watching, and the annual Labor Day auction, there were plenty of things to do.

From my vantage point, I have the opportunity to observe many things. Some are amusing, some not so much, and some give me ideas for these articles. Just watching how people operate their vehicles sometimes will illustrate some spiritual truth.

Here is the thought for the week: You can turn the steering wheel in any direction you want, but if you’re not moving, you do not change directions. Intentions have to be followed by action. You may say, I want to go over there, and point your wheels in that direction, but until you engage the transmission and press the accelerator pedal, you aren’t going anywhere.

In the days before power steering, one could only turn the wheel with some effort. It was easier to steer the vehicle (or tractor) when moving forward. These days, you can turn the steering wheel effortlessly while sitting still, but there is still no change of direction unless you are moving.

It’s the same way with prayer, changing habits or lifestyle, or with following Jesus. Good intentions lead nowhere without a commitment to action. The commands of the Lord require action on the part of the one who is commanded. Here are a few of those commands:

Leave, and/or go. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). What happened next? “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him” (verse 4).

Follow: Mark 1:17… “Come, follow me, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” The command to follow usually preceded by the command to come. That is, to come to Jesus, and then to follow him. One cannot follow him without first coming to him in faith.

Give: Believers are to give to the poor. This command follows the command to sell our possessions in order to have resources to give.

Commands are meant to be obeyed. Intentions mean nothing if not followed by actions. It’s been said before, but God cannot direct your steps unless you are moving. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry