Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

Our Broken World

Dear readers,
One word about the weather. Rain! In other news, it appears we have completed another landscaping project. There has been a ditch along the north side of our property, and it was a bit difficult to mow due to the steep banks. Recently, son Ryan installed a long culvert in that spot, covered it with dirt and leveled it off. We have planted grass seed, and if the rain doesn’t wash it all away mowing will be much easier next summer.

Sometimes, when I see the heartache and hurting in our world, it is almost too much. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. We who live in rural America have by and large been insulated from the problems of the big cities and population centers. This is not the case anymore.

There is enough blame to go around, and I could name a lot of reasons for the mess we are in, but from a Christian point of view, the one-word explanation would be sin. Our world has been broken since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. When people reject God, and go their own way, evil takes over. There is no moral compass, and there are no guidelines for proper living. When people reject God, they turn to other things seeking fulfilment. Drugs, alcohol, sex, power, money, fancy cars, big houses; none of these bring lasting satisfaction.

There is, however, a solution to this dilemma; “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Return to me, declares the Lord Almighty, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 1:3). Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

It has been said there is within each of us a God shaped void. It can only be filled satisfactorily by the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing else will do. Jesus alone can overcome our sin nature. Paul wrote, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

His truth will set you free.
Pastor Jerry

The Gospel

Summer is here, according to the calendar. The temperatures of the last few days would indicate otherwise. We actually started our furnace a couple of times, just to take the chill off the house. Also, we have not been lacking in the rain department, yet we haven’t experienced the excesses of some areas. In other news, concerning my recent surgery, I had a follow-up visit to my dermatologist, and all is well. Good news

For my devotional thought this week, I want to share a piece from Pastor Greg Laurie, entitled “I Have Some Good News and Some Bad News.” This message cannot be repeated enough. Now to Pastor Laurie’s article.

“The literal definition of gospel is good news. And before we can fully appreciate the good news of the gospel, we have to know the bad news. That means telling people they are sinners. Of course, people don’t like to hear that. I’m a what? I’m not a sinner! I’m a good person!

We have to define what it means to be a sinner, because the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yet there are preachers today who don’t want to tell people they’re sinners. They claim that most people know they’re doing wrong. But do they? I think a lot of people believe everything is fine as long as they try to live a good life.

We have to break the bad news: “I’m sorry to tell you this, friend, but you’re a sinner. You’ve broken God’s commands. You’ve fallen short of His standards, and there is nothing you can do to make this right. But God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you, and if you will turn from that sin and put your faith in Christ, you can be forgiven.”

The bad news helps us fully appreciate the good news. Anything less than this is a false gospel that will give false assurance. That is why Paul wrote, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God. . .. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all” (Galatians 1:6–7).
We must be careful to preach the real gospel.”

Wise words. May we take them to heart,
Pastor Jerry

Confession, Not Celebration

It was a good week here at the lake. The lake is nearly full, after some hardy souls got the logs and trees out of the gates at the dam. We can now maintain a proper water flow through the spillway, and keep the lake level steady. It is good to see people enjoying what Lake Ericson has to offer.

Now for some devotional thoughts. This is not an easy topic, but I believe it is the responsibility of Christians to point people to God and His Word. Whether the message is well received or not, it must be told. I have had to ask, how is it that we got to the point of celebrating flagrant sin against a holy God? Sin is to be confessed, not celebrated.

Our culture is celebrating behaviors that God has described in His Word as abominable (or detestable). According to dictionary.com, the definition of abomination is, “anything greatly disliked or abhorred; intense aversion or loathing; a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc. Things like homosexuality, murder (abortion), adultery, and same sex marriage would be included. Sin, in other words.

These are the words of the Lord in His Word, the Bible: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming (Colossians 3:5-6).

The first chapter of Romans speaks plainly to this issue. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:18-32).

Rather than celebrate the sin, let us instead pray that those caught up in these sinful behaviors would come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, who can free them from their bonds of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Reality Check

The calendar tells me it is April Fool’s Day. Actually, the weather has been fooling with us for weeks now. One day this week, it was above 70 degrees. Friday we received several inches of snow. I don’t think we want to ask the question, ‘what next?’ If nothing else, it seems our patience has been well tested. How are you doing with the test?

Now that the month of March is behind us, maybe we will start seeing some real signs of spring. I am thinking grass and flowers for starters.

Have you noticed the number of Facebook posts concerned with the welfare of animals? How about those concerned with the welfare of unborn humans? Yeah, me too. I am all for taking care of animals, my whole life was spent caring for livestock, but it seems to me there is more energy given to protecting animal life, than there is to human life. Maybe if we gave as much negative press to abortion clinics as we do to puppy mills, something more would be done about them, too.

God fully intended for man to care for all of his creation, as it is recorded in Genesis. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Genesis 1:26).

“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed… The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:8, 15).

If God gave mankind the task of caring for, and stewarding the livestock and the animal kingdom, would he not expect the same, or even greater dedication to the health and well-being of the children, from conception until adulthood? This idea being circulated among liberal minds that people are not human until they are born is nothing but insanity.

I pray to God that we will come to our senses, before God brings his judgment upon us. In Jeremiah’s time, God told him, concerning Israel’s disobedience, “Do not pray for this people…, for I will not listen to you.”

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Rebel or Sinner?

It’s time for another visit. Although I hesitate to open every conversation with a weather report, here goes. We have been enjoying some nicer conditions, after our little taste of winter last week. I am seeing some harvesting machinery in the fields, as it begins to dry out from the recent moisture. With the improved weather comes a reminder to pray for a safe and bountiful harvest season.

Occasionally, my mind wanders way back to my earlier days. The other day, we were discussing the misbehavior of children, and as sometimes is the case, we were being somewhat critical of today’s young people. Suddenly, I was taken way back to my youth, to a time of personal rebellion, and remembered my mother threatening to send me to a military type school, because she was at her wit’s end. Maybe the youth of today aren’t much different than they have ever been.

In fact, if you read the Bible, you soon understand the whole human race is in rebellion against God, and has been almost from the beginning. Early in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and it continues today.

In the time of Noah, God described mankind as being all evil, all the time. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth in not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Praise be to God, for sending Jesus to die for our sins and restore our relationship with Him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sin is a word that isn’t used much these days, but it needs to make a comeback and people need to understand what it means. After all, it is the root cause of all that is wrong with our world. Without an understanding of sin, it is impossible to sort out the good from the bad, the wrong from the right, and finally, to see that the solution to the problem is Jesus Christ.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Anger

This past Thursday, we celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary. There was a time, based on family history, when I didn’t think I would live 54 years, now we’ve been married that long! In other news, our community was blessed with another 1.30 inches of rain Wednesday night, into Thursday morning. Some lawns will wait awhile before being mowed again. It is easy to see that school is out and summer is upon us, as many individuals and families are coming to the lake. I’m sure it will be this way until after Labor Day, and it is great to see people enjoying Lake Ericson.

If you ever feel the need to be really frustrated, may I recommend trying to change a lawn mower tire. I mean, take the old one off the rim and put a new tire on. I will never understand why tire manufacturers wrap them up with the sidewalls touching, so that there is no way to get them to inflate! It just seems wrong to put an inner tube in a tubeless tire, but that is what I’m going to do.

After that little rant, I need to pause and reflect on God’s teaching about anger. Let’s take a look at some scripture that will do just that.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him… Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:7-8).
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).
In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent (Psalm 4:4).
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Now some New Testament verses dealing with the topic of anger: In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are angry (Ephesians 4:26). Paul goes on: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:31).

Finally, “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20). Good words from God’s Word.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

I’m writing this in the middle of Memorial Weekend. One item prominently displayed everywhere, is the American flag. As we reflect on the meaning of this holiday, it is appropriate for us to fly the flag. It is by the sacrifice of many Americans, that we continue to have the freedoms we experience every day.

I hope you who are reading this were among those who honored the holiday by attending a Memorial service, where the focus was on the sacrifice made by some on behalf of us all. I know that many took the time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday, but many more spent the weekend in activities that had nothing to do with it. As pastor said yesterday, “Regardless of your opinion of war, thank God for those who have served, and those who are serving to protect freedom.”

On another, yet perhaps related theme, there was a bit of drama at our house this week. Well, maybe not drama, but a good illustration of the result of ignoring signs of impending problems. For a rather long time, I have been hearing our water pump running, even when no water was being used. Being a bit of a procrastinator, I kept putting off searching for the problem. Early last week, I took a quick glance through the crawlspace door, and saw a small lake under the house.

Suddenly, the issue wasn’t that there might be a problem. The problem was real. To shorten the story, there was a leak in the line going to our yard hydrant. After disconnecting the offending pipe, and using a sump pump to remove about six inches of water from the crawl space, we are waiting to the ground to dry out a bit. After that, there will be action taken to prevent this from happening again.

Whether forgetting the reason for a national holiday, failing to deal with personal sin, or even putting off repairing a leaky pipe, there will be a day when action needs to be taken. We can only pray it is not too late to repair the damage.

Let us return to the values of yesterday, and follow God’s plan for mankind as revealed in his Word. It is not too late. If we will confess those sins, nationally and personally, he will restore us to fellowship with himself.

Thinking again,
Pastor Jerry