Archive for the ‘Stewardship’ 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

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Seasons

I’m beginning to see faint signs of the change of seasons. Labor Day weekend signals a change, because it takes us from the busyness of summer to the more structured time of school-days and the shorter days that signal the transition from summer to fall.

Some bemoan the fact that summer is ending, not wanting the season to end, but this would eventually become tiresome, and lead to a yearning for change. I believe that those seasonal changes are designed by the Creator to provide times of birth, growth, harvest and rest.

There are seasons in our lives, just as there are seasons evident in creation. Who wants to be forever a baby, or a toddler, or even a teen-ager? Those are all seasons of life. Time marches on, and the seasons change. The important thing, is this; are you embracing the seasons of your life? We learn different things in each season of our lives. We get to the end of one chapter, and we take what we have learned into the next. Have I mentioned seasons?

Oh, I know, sometimes we would like to return to a previous time, but this is a physical impossibility. For our own well-being, we really cannot live in the past. To be healthy, we must move on, knowing God has a plan for us. Regarding living the Christian life, Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal… (Philippians 3:13-14).

One difference in the seasons of life, compared to the seasons of nature, is that in our lives, there will most likely be more than four seasons. Birth, growth, harvest and rest, will all come over and over until we reach that final rest.

Solomon, that wisest of men, summed it up with these words: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. He went on to list those activities. They include birth and death, planting and harvest, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, war and peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

What season of life are you in? Enjoy where you are, and anticipate the future with the confidence that God is in charge.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Memorial Stones

Dear Readers,
The cool weather continues for us. Along with it came some beneficial rains, for which we are very thankful. My bout with shingles is winding down. For this I am thankful also. Next time someone mentions getting a preventive inoculation, I will be first in line! I will be posting this early Monday morning, so any comments I might have concerning the solar eclipse will wait until next week.
I’ve been thinking about those who seem bent on removing anything that would remind Americans of their national identity and inheritance. There are several lines of conversation, or commentary that come from this behavior.
One truth from the lessons of history is that if a people wanted to conquer a civilization, they would remove all the landmarks and other reminders of their history and culture. In our day, we have seen ISIS destroying Christian landmarks, and in our country currently, there is a movement to remove reminders of our past.
When the children of Israel were entering the Promised Land, when the priests, who were carrying the ark of the covenant, stepped into the Jordan river, the water stopped flowing, so that they could cross on dry ground. After reaching the other side, they were instructed to set up stones as a memorial. Joshua told the people that they were setting up the stones as a permanent memorial, so that when their children asked the question, “What are these stones”, they could answer with a lesson from Israel’s history.
These are the words of the Lord, given through Joshua to the people: “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cutoff before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:6-7).
Sadly, after Joshua passed from the scene, Israel forgot her past, and began to be influenced by her pagan neighbors. The result of this was that God judged Israel and sent her into exile for seventy years. I fear America may be on a similar path. We who care about the rich history of our country need to pray fervently that God would intervene and put her back on the straight way.
Praying for America,
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

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

Chasing the Wind

Dear readers,
I’m writing from a different location this week. We are in Grand Island for a couple of follow-up doctor’s appointments. Nothing serious, just keeping up with previous procedures. Now and then, we are able to combine these, and find it a good reason to bring the camper and hang out for a couple of days. Note: Window shopping may be a part of this experience.

The following statement comes as a result of our pastor’s sermon this week. It is interesting to observe people, and the things they do to entertain themselves and otherwise occupy their time. For some, it seems that work is their sole purpose and goal in life. Others work a steady job, but find time for recreation and other outside interests. I see people whose energy and resources are investing in owning and maintaining a home.

As I view these things, I wonder how many people actually do what they do with a biblical viewpoint? What would they say is important from that world-view, and what legacy would they want to leave for their children and grandchildren?

A wise man named Solomon, who lived many years ago, had some thoughts on this topic. He wrote them down in an Old Testament book called Ecclesiastes. Solomon had it all, possessions, riches, wisdom. There was nothing he did not have, nor was there any pleasure in life that he did not experience. Then he wrote these words.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and go, but the earth remains forever. The sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning to its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-7). Then he writes this: “I have seen all things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (verse 14).

Jesus gives us the proper perspective in this statement: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Good Soil

The camper has been winterized, and sits waiting for that warm spring breeze again. Winter, I feel, is just around the corner. As I look at the calendar, Thanksgiving and Christmas will soon be here. Some of our lake community residents have left for a warmer climate, leaving us to deal with what comes next. I do think those of us who stay are more inclined to welcome those cooler temperatures, even if they might be accompanied with an occasional snow storm. I’ve always said I wouldn’t want to live where the temperature is the same the year around.

Regarding the election this week; I recommend everyone get out and vote. I know it’s tempting to stay home, but the truth is, there is a choice, and if you stay away from the voting booth, you may contribute to a result you will regret later. I won’t politicize this column, but I would encourage you to exercise your right to vote. It’s a freedom a lot of people do not have.

Our mums have performed beyond anyone’s expectations. They were planted in very good soil and with all the extra nutrients, have grown to enormous size. In fact, Milrae had much smaller plants in mind when she planted them. This reminds me of the seed Jesus described in the gospel, that produced up to 100 times what was planted. Soil quality is everything, whether planting crops or flowers. It is even more so when seeds are planted for the Lord.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus speaks of a farmer sowing seeds on various types of soil. Some fell on the path, some on rocky places, some among thorns, and “still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop. To his disciples he explained, “the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding many times what was sown.”

Several questions arise here; are you the good soil that has received the gospel seed? If so, does your spiritual growth reflect that? Also, are you seeking to plant those seeds in others? Healthy plants produce good seed that produces good crops.
Note: As you plant those gospel seeds, don’t worry about the soil quality. God’s Holy Spirit is in charge of preparing soil.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry