Archive for the ‘Stewardship’ Category

Church in Our Time

Dear friends,
Another week has gone by. We are still staying home most of the time. There was a trip to the grocery store and the pharmacy last Wednesday, but otherwise we were home doing yard work, etc. There is an advantage to living where we do; it is not hard to practice social distancing.

Our church family will decide this week how we might transition back to corporate worship at the church property. We may begin by meeting outdoors for a few Sundays, weather permitting. Time will tell. The Zoom app has been good, but there is no substitute for being there in person.

The Bible tell us the first century Christians met together in each other’s homes, and I suppose in other small group settings. They had no “church” building, nor did they hold title to any property on which to erect a building. From Acts, chapter two, we read; They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (verses 42-47).

We may be unable to meet in person due to the pandemic of Covid19, but thanks to the current technology, we can have virtual fellowship in a way that the first Christians could not have imagined. Instead of feeling deprived, perhaps we should count our many blessings.

Even with the inconveniences we are experiencing in our current situation, we should take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Then, this from Paul, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, … I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (verses 11-13).

We may have some inconvenience, but it’s nothing God can’t get us through.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,
Pastor Jerry

Age Discrimination?

Hello friends,
Another week has rolled around; time for another bit of news and views from our corner of the world. The weather continues to be an ever-changing topic of discussion, with each day bringing something different. Last week we had rain, snow, ice and wind in varying degrees, but little to no actual sunshine. On a personal note, the ultrasound of my leg showed nothing that would interfere with surgery on my foot. The stress test apparently showed areas of concern, but I didn’t get to see the cardio doctor yet. My Wednesday appointment last week was canceled by guess what; icy road conditions! It has been rescheduled for this Wednesday. More on that next week.

Here is a headline that caught my attention this last week; “Church asks older members to go away.” What? It seems a church in Minnesota has decided to close and restructure, in an attempt to counter a decline in membership. It will open again with an emphasis on drawing in a younger congregation. Current members are being asked to “wait 15 to 18 months before returning to worship there.”

Who, then, will teach the new group of attenders the truths of scripture, and how to apply the gospel to life? In his letter to Titus, a young pastor, the apostle Paul stresses the importance of older Christians in the church body.

“You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. in everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned…” (Titus 2:1-8).

The church needs people of all ages, working together as a witness to a lost world, as they “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

For Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Stewardship 101

Hello friends,
Our warm spell has ended for a time. We are now back to daytime high temps below the freezing point. I guess our ‘January thaw’ is over. On a positive note, it has been warm enough to melt much of our snow, although many drifts remain.

As I was reading some news headlines this week, I noticed a plea for volunteers to knit or crochet ‘nests’ for animals affected by the wildfires in Australia. Another headline referred to the need to remove all restrictions to the abortion of human babies. Does anyone see a problem here?

God created man to care for all of His creation. I take this to mean the earth and all creatures, including other humans, no matter their age or stage of development. It is a sad commentary on the brokenness of this world, when animal life takes precedence over the lives of human beings.

This is not a political issue, it is an issue of morality, and the sanctity of human life as the Creator intended. I am as much an animal lover as anyone, but in God’s creation plan, humans are stewards of the earth, its resources and all life. It should be obvious to anyone with even a minimal reading of God’s Word, that humans are responsible first of all, for human beings, and all other forms of life are subject to that stewardship. To place any other creature in a place over a human being is totally in opposition to our stewardship responsibility as God planned it, and as He outlined it in His Word.

“So God created them in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28). “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3).

The sixth commandment; “Do not murder”, specifically prohibits murder, that is, any unauthorized killing of an individual. Abortion is also prohibited by this commandment, as the Bible clearly states that an unborn baby is a person.

The third Sunday of January is Right to Life Sunday. Join me in praying our country will turn back to God and respect all of His creation, especially those made in His image, at all stages of life.

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Following Jesus

Hello all,
After a few warm and windy days, it appears the lake ice will be leaving soon. Ice fishing has been very popular for several weeks, but a new season is coming quickly. We will transition to daylight saving time this weekend, so there will be a longer period of daylight at the end of the workday (unless you are an agriculture person, and nothing will really change).
I attended a session of Sandhills Christian Leadership Center on Saturday. It is a course of study for those who wish to be further involved in ministry in their local churches, and who may feel led into pastoral ministry. It is sponsored by our local Baptist Church association. This was the third of four class sessions that began last October.
One of the topics of the day was “Making Disciples”, from Pastor John Shields. I will share some of his thoughts.
Marks of a disciple, or follower of Jesus Christ:
1. Disciples develop a lifelong commitment to learn and live God’s Word. To those Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine…” (John 8:31).
They believe God’s Word is His clearest authority and revelation for life.
They believe God’s Word transforms those who respond in faith
2. Disciples increasingly live like servants, not owners. These are his words: “So, then, none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).
The cost of really following Jesus is everything you have. Wealth and worry keep many from following Jesus.
3. Disciples have a deepening love for Jesus. We are called to love Him more than parents or other family, even more than ourselves. Luke 14:26.
This will cause relational tension with those who don’t know Him. This tension may be with family, friends, or co-workers.
These tensions can distract some from following Jesus.
4. Disciples deepen their love for other Christians. “By this all men will know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).
5. Disciples embrace Jesus’ mission as their own, and His mission was to glorify God.
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
The bottom line? If you want to follow Jesus, you have to follow Jesus, and no one else.
In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

What Can You Give?

It has been a good week for us. There were trips to Grand Island, Albion, and Ord. Doctor’s appointments, shopping at Menards and working together on some little projects around the house. Last Sunday, I spoke at a church in Chambers, Nebraska, then made it back home in time for a carry-in dinner and annual business meeting at our church. Next week, I’m off to Loup City to speak at Grace Bible Church, filling in for a friend. I was told recently by another friend; “You ain’t retired.” This was just affirmation of the fact that if you make yourself available to the Lord, he will keep you busy doing his work.

Speaking of doing the Lord’s work, I came across these verses in my daily Bible reading this week. In Exodus, when the tabernacle was being built, Moses had instructed the people to bring offerings of materials for construction. We read this: All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do. At one point, the workers came to Moses and said, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:5-7)

Now, I know of no preacher who has ever said to his congregation, “Don’t bring anything else as an offering to the Lord’s work, we already have more than enough.” There are never enough resources for doing the Lord’s work, whether financial giving, or gifts of time and talent. There are never enough people willing to teach Sunday school, lead Bible studies, or evangelize their neighbors, their family members and acquaintances.

Jesus emphasized that we use our gifts until he returns (Luke 19:13). Can you even imagine how Christ’s church would grow, if there were more than enough resources and people to do the work? It would be amazing, I am sure! In what way are you helping grow the kingdom?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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

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