Archive for the ‘Stewardship’ Category

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

On Possessions

We have appreciated the cooler weather of the last few days. I have no personal fishing report yet, although I did see some really nice largemouth bass that two ladies had caught Friday afternoon.

I find we are still having to deal with years of collecting things we thought we had to have. In fact, due to the amount of stuff we still possess, we have purchased another piece of property here at the lake. We will now have a place to keep our “overflow”, that is the tractor and its attachments, the little pontoon boat, golf cart, etc. This does not mean we have found the answer to the problem of having these things, downsizing must continue.

I am continually reminded of scripture that warns of letting material goods take first place in our lives. Note: It’s not my wife that keeps reminding me, she has stuff, too. Could it be the Spirit of God tapping me on the shoulder, saying “enough already”?

As I talk with other people, I find we are not the only ones dealing with the abundance of things not needed. Many of us are having this struggle. What is the answer to this? God’s word has some suggestions.

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Jesus, speaking to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21). “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In the follow-up to his story of the rich man who built more bins to hold his grain, Jesus had this advice for his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Luke 12:22-23).

Here is a final thought on this subject. I read this statement a few years ago, and it comes to mind now. “Someday, all your valued possessions will fit in a small drawer in some nursing home.”

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

April Showers

Hello everyone,
Monsoon! It has been raining since Saturday noon, it is now Monday morning and still it rains. One report here at the lake is of 5.5 inches thus far.

How about a few rain scriptures to start the week? “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God” (Hebrews 6:7). Speaking of the Creator, Paul said, “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17). Speaking of the Father, Jesus said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

Here are a few from the Old Testament. In a promise to Israel, God said this: “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit” (Leviticus 26:4). One more regarding Israel’s obedience in serving God faithfully: “Then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (Deuteronomy 11:14-15).

We need to note here that in spite of Israel’s disobedience, and by extension our own failure to follow God’s commands, God in his grace has continued to provide the sun and rain, so that we are blessed by them. He is still giving us opportunities to get right with him.

One more point to be made in this discussion is this: No one can get right with God by following the law, that is, the Ten Commandments, etc. We are made right with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ the Son (John 14:6).

The forecast is for the sun to return later this week. Scripture tells us the Son will return at some future point, also. This is good news for all who believe.

Keep looking up!
Pastor Jerry

Storing Up Treasures

Hello everyone,
Happy Leap Day! I have really enjoyed the warm temperatures of the weekend. I guess Spring is officially a few weeks away, but I am enjoying the preview.

The “move” is slowly progressing. I knew we had a lot of “stuff”, having kept as many as three houses furnished over the last 15 or so years. What I didn’t know, was the actual size of the collection. What really concerns me, is we haven’t even started on my stuff!

There is a reason Jesus reminded his listeners they were to store up treasures in heaven, instead of here on earth. These are His words: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

None if these things we have collected will go with us to heaven. Obviously the food will be eaten at some point (unless the moths get it), and the clothing will wear out (or be outgrown). There are charities that will take the surplus clothing. We don’t plan on having thieves break in, but there is a good possibility we may call in an auction company to help disperse the excess.

As we make these decisions—what do we keep and what do we throw away; what do we pass on to others? —another scripture comes to mind. In it, Jesus speaks to the issue of worry. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, and what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?… And why do you worry about clothes? …so do not worry, ‘saying what shall we eat?’ or What shall we drink? …or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).

After reading this, maybe I’ll just go fishing! Have a great week.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry