Archive for the ‘thanksgiving’ Category

Give Thanks

Dear friends,
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
What is the Thanksgiving holiday? It has always been about giving thanks to God, our Creator and Provider, for all things good. These would include crops harvested, good health, a roof over our heads, a warm bed to sleep in, food on the table, family, country, and especially thanks for our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Most people understand saying please and thank you, as a matter of being polite to one another. And, most people thank other people for kindnesses shown, for gifts at birthdays and Christmas, and at other times, as well. But when it comes to a thanksgiving holiday, who do those who do not believe in the God of the Bible thank for all their blessings? Think about that.

Who indeed, can we thank for the very breath we breath, if not a Creator? What sense could it make to thank some pool of primordial soup, as some see the beginning of life? The Bible says “In the beginning, God”, that is good enough for me, and I will praise Him to the end of time and beyond.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5).

Jesus said it: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

The chorus to an old hymn comes to mind at this time of year:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

May you have many blessings to count this Thanksgiving Day,

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

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God’s Comforting Presence

We all know summer will end at some point. Wednesday morning, the temperature here was in the low 40’s. This is more than a subtle reminder; it might be seen more as a wake-up call.

The news lately has been much about fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. What is a person to think?

First of all, God allows these things to happen. Not for judgment, as some would have us to believe, but because of Adam and Eve sinning, i.e., disobeying God, creation is broken. Therefore, these calamities happen to all people at one time or another. As we see these things happening, we should be in prayer for those affected. Next time, we might be the one ‘standing in the need of prayer’, as the old song says.

As many of you know, our little dog has been deaf since we got her, and lately she has become blind. In spite of these things, we still communicate with her, mostly by touch. Except, at mealtime, when her sense of smell plays a large part. Along with what I might call side-effects of these things, she seems to be more anxious when she doesn’t know where we are. However, when she lies beside us in a chair or on the sofa, she is relaxed and usually sleeps

The other day, I was thinking about her situation, and it occurred to me this is a bit like us and God. We don’t see him or hear him, but we sense his presence many times just by his touch. It might be the hand of a friend, or some quiet, small voice that we don’t really hear, or maybe a passage of scripture, but we know it is him. And even though we don’t physically see or hear him, we know he is there. It is called faith and trust.

In our dog, I see a picture of Christians who, when they don’t see or hear God’s presence, become agitated and uneasy. Perhaps if we could picture ourselves sheltered in his arms, or sitting beside him on the sofa, we would be more at ease in our circumstance.

Here are some comforting scriptures:
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a).
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4).

Trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

In All Things, Give Thanks

Our temperatures have cooled over the last week. This is good news to many people. It seemed as if our air conditioner ran continuously for weeks. There was beneficial rain here at the lake this week, but just a few miles from here, the hail destroyed corn and soybeans over a large area. I can remember a time at the ranch, when it hailed in late July, and our corn stalks were about 4 feet tall after the storm passed.

Life is filled with new experiences, no matter what age we are. I don’t know if it was something I needed, but I have experienced a case of the shingles virus. Everything you have heard is true. These things are miserable. The good news is that there are medicines to lessen the symptoms. I am gradually getting better, but much slower than I would like. The point I would make is this; even in these kinds of setbacks, God is involved. I have to admit, I have a tendency to ask why me; when the proper question would be, why not me? After all, what would I have that should allow me to escape the things that befall others?

It has been said (somewhere), that God is with us, both in the storm, and in fair weather. Whether the crops fail, or our health turns from bad to good, He is always there. We may wonder, and we may doubt, but in His word, He says, “Never will I ever leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

I posted a passage from the Old Testament this week, that has always reminded me to give thanks in all circumstances. I’ll share it again for those who might have missed it.

First a little background: The prophet Habakkuk was complaining to the Lord because of the violence, injustice and oppression Israel was experiencing. What God revealed to Habakkuk caused the prophet to stand in awe of God, and ask for mercy. As he understands what God is about to bring upon the land, the prophet says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoicing,
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

Cold Memories

A week ago, it was 25 below zero. It has been some time since it was that cold. I remember, just before Christmas in 1983, we had a cold spell that stayed well into January. On top of that, we had a lot of snow that drifted almost every day. It was a test for men, machines and livestock. I’m glad I don’t have to face that again, and I pray for those who do.

This sticks in my mind, partly because of what happened on that Christmas eve. Our neighbors had gone Christmas shopping with their young kids, and made it back to the school house, which was about a half-mile west of our place. It was 20 below zero with a vicious wind-chill. I don’t remember exactly how, but I was able to get in touch by phone with them and offered to bring them to our house. I took the tractor and snow-blower and went to get them. The wind was filling our tracks with snow as fast as we made them, but we made it safely. Our two families then spent all night together.

At 1:00 AM, I woke to find the power had gone off, and went to the shop to get a tractor to power our generator, only to find the tractor’s alternator had a bad bearing. Neighbor Dave held the light and I changed that bearing in record time. Did I mention it was very cold that night? We did get the stand-by generator connected and stayed warm the rest of the night. It was definitely a Christmas to remember. Others have their own memories of that winter.

In those years on the ranch, as I look back, there were many times things worked for good in the middle of some really stressful times. Each one was a reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people, even when they don’t immediately recognize it.

The Psalms speak much of the faithfulness of God. Here are some verses:
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations (Psalm 89:1). The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones (Psalm 89:5).

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100:5).

Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry

Being Thankful

Rain! Who would have guessed we would have received so much rain in late November? Since I had taken the rain gauges inside for the winter, I don’t have an accurate measurement. All I know, is, I am very glad we didn’t get that much precipitation in the form of snow.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, let me share some things I am thankful for. First of all, I am thankful for still being here to write these columns. In relation to that, I thank the Lord for bringing me though my medical crisis back in August. I believe I am almost back to normal. I am reminded in writing this that we too often take good health for granted. It only takes a moment for that to change in a big way. I am now more aware of the need to thank God for each new day; another day to be with family, another day to serve Him.

The topic of thanksgiving, I believe, should always turn our thoughts toward God, who provides for our every need. After all, He is our Provider, the Giver of every good gift. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). Regarding our tendency to worry about the future: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

The Psalms have much to say concerning being thankful to the Lord. Here are a few verses: “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song” (Psalm 100:4). “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp” (Psalm 147:7).

Finally, the one thing for which we are eternally thankful, the gift of salvation through faith in Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). “Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,
Pastor Jerry

On Contentment

After a hot weekend, it has cooled off a bit this morning. With the humidity being a little lower, maybe it will be somewhat more bearable. As usual, we need the warmth for the growing crops, and for the hay to cure. The problem is, everybody wants it perfect for their own pet project.

We could take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who said he had learned to be content in every circumstance. There is a lesson in this for all of us. Let’s look. Paul was thanking the church at Philippi for supporting him in some way. He wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Paul gave similar instructions to Timothy, speaking to the issue of contentment in this way: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Paul goes further a few verses later in words that could probably apply to everyone in America:

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and be willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

The writer of Hebrews has similar advice: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

All our “things” are on loan from God. Let’s be content with what we have.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry