Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

Anger Management

We’ve had some really wide swings in weather conditions this past week. We’ve had balmy days with no wind, and some really windy (think gale force) days. There have been temperatures in the 70’s for daytime, and below freezing nights. In all this, there has been no moisture of any kind. We had planned another short camping trip, but Saturday morning I found ice in the water lines, so camping will resume in the spring.

I wrote the following paragraph recently during a recent devotional time. A few days later I received a very timely email on the subject.

I’m angry today. I can’t exactly put my finger on the reason. I’m angry at people who have no respect for human life, whether it be abortion, the killing of infants and toddlers, or people of any age. I’m angry because of liberal politicians and others who promote intolerance in the name of tolerance. But, today, I’m just plain angry. The Bible tells us God is angered by sin, and His anger is righteous. But it also indicates that there is a place for righteous anger on our part. Jesus said misplaced anger is sin, and I believe it. So, I want to be able to sort out sinful anger from justifiable anger. God will be the judge in the end.

In a recent episode of the Break Point radio program, there was a commentary by Eric Metaxas, titled “Anger Mismanagement”, which spoke directly to me. I’ll quote parts of it here: He starts out by saying that Americans are an increasingly angry lot. And the sad fact is, too often we Christians are rolling around in the muck with the rest of the nation. The following points are made: 1) We sin with anger because we lack faith in God’s ability to provide for or protect us. 2) We sin with anger because we lack hope. Is it possible we are expecting too much from this world and too little from the next? 3) We sin in the realm of anger because we lack love. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast…” “Speaking as a sinner to other sinners, we all can do our part to address America’s anger mismanagement crisis. And for us Christians, it starts with a little more faith, hope, and love.”

Convicted,
Pastor Jerry

God is Lord of All

Here are some early October observations: Nebraska scenery is unbeatable. We left Valentine last Sunday afternoon, drove to Keller Park WMA, and spent 2 nights. What a great place to get away. Here at Lake Ericson, it is definitely autumn. The leaves are falling, the nights are cooler, and the view is spectacular. I can’t think of any place I would rather be. On those days the world seems to be spinning out of control, there is everything to be said for living in America’s heartland.

In a totally different thought line, as I scroll through the posts on Face Book, I am seeing a number of articles promoting the consulting of mediums, and various other superstitions. I thought it might be beneficial to see what the Bible says about such things. Exactly what does the Bible say about these?

Let’s start with this: “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). Our God wants first place in our lives. He is in control of the events of our lives. No angel, or any other created thing, including mediums, fortune tellers, etc., can take his place.

To Israel, he said, “Let no one be found among you… who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or cast spells, or who is a medium or spiritists or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

We are cautioned against putting angels in the place of God. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ… Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things… Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize” (Colossians 2:1-2; 18).

The apostle Paul stressed the fact that God has made himself known to man (Romans 1:20). Then this indictment; speaking of those who deny Him. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and reptiles” (verses 22-23). Included in the list of the acts of the sinful nature are these: Idolatry and witchcraft (Galatians 5:19).

I know, many of the things mentioned seem harmless, but let us be sure we are not putting the ungodly in place of God.

Food for thought,
Pastor Jerry

On Pure Speech

The cooler temperatures of this past week have been welcomed and appreciated by most folks I know. From crops to livestock, pets to humans, there has been relief from the heat. There are many tasks we all have to do outdoors, and most are more enjoyable with moderate weather conditions.

Milrae’s little garden is doing well. We had our first tomatoes this week, and cucumbers and green beans came along earlier.

Now for a few thoughts on what I see as the proliferation of profanity in the everyday conversations of very many people. I know I have written on this topic before, but I’m going to do it again. I’m reminded of the story the new pastor who preached the same sermon several weeks in a row. When asked why, he said, “I’m going to keep preaching it until the people get it.”

When I hear “grown up” people, even those who claim to be Christian, speaking words in public that were taboo for years, I think, “They still don’t get it.”

The Bible tells us in many places to clean up our speech. I’ll give you some examples, so then we may, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)? “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

Jesus had this to say about our speech, relative to our heart attitude: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart… For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8). “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).

My point in all this is to encourage one and all, to consider the words we speak, and those we post to social media, and ask, are these words beneficial to our hearers and readers?

Let’s work to keep our speech pure.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

The Answer

Dear friends,,
The busy 4th of July weekend is coming up. Perhaps we will have the pleasure of seeing some of you at the Lake.

Lately, I have been thinking about all the things going on in our world. It seems all the news is bad news, and people are asking what has gone wrong?

Maybe you have seen or heard this next statement: If Jesus is the answer, what it the question. The question is this: What is the problem with the world? According to God, sin is the reason for all the dysfunction in the world. It started in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and His creation was broken.

Paul reminds his readers, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” He goes on, “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18). This sounds like our present day and age.

Yesterday, as I sat in church before worship began, I noticed the scripture on the banner above the organ: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)! Good News! The perfect, sinless Lamb of God came to be the once for all solution to a sin-sick world.

Did you get that? He is the One who came to take away all the sin of the world. He paid the penalty for every sinner. Don’t forget, however, that only those who receive the gift God offers, are saved. Sin demands payment. No one can save himself. Only Jesus Christ is qualified to be the Savior.

Again from Romans chapter 6, verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As it is written in the Book of Acts: “Salvation is found in no one else… there is no other name by which we must be saved.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Springtime

My mom used to recite this little ditty. “Spring has sprung; the grass has riz; I wonder where the flowers is?” The answer to the question this weekend was pretty obvious; they were buried under the snow. On a positive note, if April showers bring May flowers, we should be in for a treat in the coming days.

Here in our area, we have had to deal with some inclement weather over the last few day, but it is in no way as serious or destructive as what the south and southeast has experienced. Those torrential rains and tornadic activity are much more destructive than our rain and snow. Please pray for those who suffered the loss of family members and property.

In times like this, people will question whether God knows or cares what happened. The answer is, yes He knows and cares. The harder question to answer is, why does He allow these things to occur? To answer that question, one has to go all the way back to Genesis Three.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God’s perfect world was broken. Romans 8:22 tells us, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” This is because of the Fall.

The Lord Jesus to expect these things: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 12:33).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…, all things were created by Him and for Him, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15).

Let’s remember, even in times of trial and suffering, that He has made all good things. “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).

Storms come, but He also makes the sunshine and flowers. A good thing to remember this week. Give thanks for His goodness.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

On Respect for Others

A lot has been said and written in recent days about what is wrong with our world. After all the violence and killing of the past week, we all need to stop and think.

I believe we need desperately to return to a biblical view of the world and identify the real problem. Sin is the problem. Its remedy is Jesus Christ, and obedience to God’s word. Much of what is missing in our society today would return, if people would only use the Bible for guidance. We could begin by restoring respect for authority, for one another, for country and for God… beginning with respecting God, followed by all the others.

Sadly, I feel there are too few of us willing to say. “Wait! What are we doing to our country and to each other with this disrespectful and selfish attitude? Whatever happened to “love your neighbor as yourself?” We are at the point of “love yourself, and no one else.” Do unto others as you would have them do to you, has become “the only one who matters is me.” People have become worshipers of self, and the law is disregarded in every level of society, from the government to the man on the street.

The Bible says much about this word respect. Respect is something the Bible teaches at all levels of society, from families to the highest levels of government.

From the Old Testament: Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:3). “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord” (19:32).

And, in the New Testament: Romans 13:7— “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Finally, these instructions from Peter to the readers of his second letter, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king (substitute mayor, governor or president).”

I wonder, might we begin to do these things again?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

The Remedy

It seems every conversation begins with a discussion of the weather. Hot and windy are two words that come to mind in describing last week. We did receive some showers of rain here Sunday evening and early Monday morning.

Virginia Creeper, aka woodbine, is a plant that grows in many places. Just across the street from our house is a large lilac bush. A woodbine plant at some point had taken root under the lilac and grew to cover the top of the lilac. The woodbine plant does not attach itself to the host plant, but uses its host as a trellis to climb. Instead of taking nutrients from the host plant, it just cuts off the sunlight, effectively killing its host.

We can see a parallel in the Bible’s definition of sin in the life of a person. Much like that vine, sin in our lives blocks out the light of God’s word, and the commands of Jesus to walk in the light of His truth. It keeps us from growing and if left unattended, it can lead to spiritual death.

Let us see what the Bible says regarding the effects of sin, and its remedy. Referring to someone giving in to the temptation to sin, James wrote this: “After desire has been conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15).

In another place we read, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:2). Again, Jesus speaking, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).

By the way, the remedy for ridding the lilac of the invader, was to cut the woodbine plant off near the ground, and apply weed killer to the stump. The remedy for sin is the application of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where his shed blood won the victory over sin and the devil.

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Let us then walk in the light of His salvation, separating ourselves from the darkness of sin.

In His Light,
Pastor Jerry

Reflections

As I write this morning, it is Memorial Day. Yesterday (Sunday), here at the lake, there was a program honoring our veterans and those who gave all for our country. It was interesting to hear some of the veterans tell their stories of service, and I was reminded again of the sacrifices made to keep our country free. At the same time, I was reading on social media of the vandalism of patriot displays and cemeteries around the country. It makes one ask, “what is wrong with people today who have no respect for these things? Actually, the answer is found in the Bible. It starts in the hearts of people. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:10)?

As I look out my window, I see the lake. Its surface is completely still this morning, and reflects the trees along the edge, and the sky above. It is much like a mirror. Many years ago, somewhere I remember reading that the color of the water on a given day, is a reflection of the sky. Sunny days, it appears to be blue. On gray cloudy days, the water is seen as dark and gray. I think this relates to my opening comment concerning the behavior of people. What we see in their words and actions are a reflection of their heart.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Christians are to reflect the character and actions of the Lord Jesus. We are to be a mirror image of the One whose name we bear. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” (Romans 8:29).

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49). “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness…” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

It is not possible for any person to consistently exhibit right behavior without Christ in his or her heart. It is hard enough sometimes for the Christian to do so.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Answer

Over the weekend, we participated in the wedding of a great young couple. I would describe it as a perfect example of marriage, as defined in the Bible. Two young people, committed first of all to their Lord, and then to each other. Congratulations to Adair and Anita Ballagh. You have set the bar high for those who are watching.

I enjoy the early part of the day; those first hours after sunrise are the best. Sunday morning, I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He had some good thoughts that apply to current times, maybe even more so today than when he preached.

He related that in his time, people were asking, what is the reason for the violence and all the unrest that is going on? His one-word answer to the question was this: Ungodliness! We do not have to look very far today, to see that he is right. In a godless society, immorality rises, when men exhibit godly behavior, morality returns.

According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, when people turn their backs on the Bible, its instruction concerning morals, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, immorality is rampant. I ask, is this not a picture of society in our day?

We are failing to see the real problem, and in doing so, we miss the remedy. People who behave badly are told to “just be good.” If that doesn’t work, some try medication, or someone suggests it is a psychological problem and they call in mental health people to find the cause.

Here is the truth: The problem is the same as it has been since the Garden of Eden. Sin! People just can’t be “good.” Do you remember what the scripture says about being good? “There is no one righteous (good), not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…. there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

So then, the answer to the problem of sin in the world is Jesus Christ!

Standing on His Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Leaves or Fruit?

After a cool end to the week, I’m looking forward to some more spring-like temperatures. Grass has been greening up, and the daffodils are blooming. It seems that spring is in the air. Now, as I write this, they are calling for snow on Wednesday. We’ll see.

Good Friday is this week, and Easter will be observed the first day of next week. Today, I would like to share some thoughts from this past Sunday’s message. It concerns the cleansing of the temple by the Lord Jesus the day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and how it applies to each of us.

Our scripture passage is Mark 11:12-18: Having seen a fig tree with leaves and no fruit, Jesus condemns it for hypocrisy. Then upon reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Matthew tells us that when the religious leaders were challenged about their disrespect for God’s house, they challenged Jesus’ authority to kick out the money changers, heal the sick and forgive the sinners (Matthew 21:23). When he pointed out their hypocrisy, they may have been afraid he would throw them out next. Instead of making peace with him, they planned to kill him.

What is our response when Jesus, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, exposes hypocrisy in our lives? Do we desire to make peace with him, or do we want to deny the hypocrisy and kill him to preserve our double life?

Are we bearing fruit, or are we just showing an abundance of leaves?

Are we that much different than the crowds on the day he entered Jerusalem as the triumphant king? How many times have we proclaimed him King and Lord, and then turned our backs on him to remain loyal to the world?

Wondering,
Pastor Jerry