Archive for the ‘The Good News’ Category

The Price of Freedom

Dear friends,
It was a busy week for us. We finished up our short camping trip on Wednesday, arriving home mid-afternoon. Thursday was spent catching up on mowing and other yard work. Friday there was decorating for the Fourth of July observance and baking for the Lake Ericson bake sale. Friday evening, I attended the rehearsal for a wedding I was to perform on Saturday. Ericson Lake Corporation’s annual meeting was Saturday morning, with the wedding taking place at 4 PM an hour away. It was a fun wedding (aren’t they all?), and I made it back home in plenty of time for the annual fireworks display at the lake. Sunday morning, our church provided a free pancake, sausage and egg breakfast to all who could come. Retirement is busy, not boring!

As I thought of the Independence Day celebration, I was reminded again that the freedoms we have in our country are often taken for granted by a large part of the population. We forget the sacrifices that many have made, so that we can be a free people.

There is another freedom that is available to us, and that is freedom from the penalty of sin. Born sinners, we owe a debt we cannot pay. Jesus, going to the cross of Calvary paid our sin debt once for all. It was for all who would believe in Him, those who do not believe will not escape the penalty they deserve. God, in His grace and mercy provided the Lord Jesus as the perfect payment, but only by believing in his death and resurrection can we be saved.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (John 1:12).
Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God. (1 John 1:9)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

He Is Risen

Dear friends,
We are enjoying some very spring-like weather. There is talk of a slight cooling ahead, but nothing extreme. Maybe one of these days I will get motivated to do a little fishing. I noticed yesterday the lawn will need mowing soon, so it’s time to get the mower serviced; now if I can just remember where I put those new blades I got last fall!

We celebrated Resurrection Day with our church family. What a blessing to be able to observe this day together with other believers, and to be reminded of Christ’s victory over death. It seems we have dealt with death far too much in the last few weeks. The Bible tells us death has no hold on the Christian, because Jesus overcame death and was raised to life by the power of God. Therefore, although death comes to all people, as believers we need not fear it. Obviously, no one looks forward to the process, but for those who have placed their faith in the Lord, death is not the end, but only the beginning of our life on the other side.

I will leave you with these words from the apostle Paul:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or who die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55,57).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Good Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly seen a change in the weather. As I write this Sunday evening, we are showing 2.60 in the rain gauge, with more in the forecast. The wind has been gusting up to around 50 mph, and there was a power outage in the area this morning. Ah, springtime in Nebraska!

In recent days, I have been reminded of the uncertainties of life. It is in those times I turn to the Word of God for encouragement and hope. We have all experienced times when life takes unexpected turns, and we are left wondering why? It might be an economic downturn, a broken relationship or maybe an unforeseen illness. We are prone to ask where did that come from? Or, why did that happen to me?

There are times when there are just no clear answers to why things happen. Life is full of unknowns, but that is just life. Sometimes we feel like the title of a song I have referenced before; “Life Ain’t Fair, and the World is Mean.” In spite of this, there is One who knows the struggles we go through. God in His perfect plan has placed each of us in our circumstances for His glory. When we finally understand this truth, we can trust Him even though we do not know the reason for our situation.

These verses from Romans give encouragement to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-39 CSB).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

He Lives

Hello friends,
Spring-like weather has everyone outdoors dreaming of summer. My lovely wife has even mentioned getting the camper ready to go! Here at the lake we are seeing people preparing their cabins for the summer season. We haven’t seen some of them since sometime in the fall. Soon our little community will be buzzing with activity, especially on the weekends.

There have been literally thousands of migrating geese passing through. Some have stayed for a while to rest up, others we have seen just flying over. The resident Canada geese have been showing signs of pairing off to begin the nesting season. I expect in a few weeks we will be seeing goslings on the lake.

As we are in the season of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to remind us that Easter is just around the corner. I prefer the term Resurrection Day, because it is the very reason for the holiday. FYI, the word holiday means ‘holy day’ in its original context. Many of our current holidays are anything but holy, but that is another discussion altogether.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. In fact, every Sunday is a celebration of His resurrection. The fact of the resurrection is unique to Christianity. No other religion has anything remotely resembling resurrection. Some speak of reincarnation, but who would want to come back to this world in any form?

The apostle Paul wrote this; “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 1:3-5).

According to Paul, if there were no resurrection, these three things would be true;
All people would be still in their sins.
All former believers would have eternally perished.
Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

Because the resurrection is true, we place our faith in the fact that God lives up to his promises.

I will close with the words of the old gospel song, Because He Lives:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

Praising His Name,
Pastor Jerry

A Picture of Purity

Dear friends,
Warmer weather has finally returned. I trust everyone is enjoying it. Official spring is coming up soon, I can hardly wait!

There have been a few fishermen here at the lake. I guess there are still some hardy souls that aren’t afraid to venture out in the cold. I do realize that a heated hut might make it more attractive than sitting on a bucket out in the elements. That is how we did it in the ‘old’ days.

In spite of the extreme cold and snow, the Creation shows God’s glory through its beauty. If we can overlook the cold and the inconvenience, we can appreciate the picture of purity and serenity the snow brings.

The new fallen snow reminds me of the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus, and the sacrifice he made for the forgiveness of our sin. Scripture reminds us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness for sin. Salvation comes through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Before we observed the Lord’s Supper in church Sunday morning, we sang the hymn ‘Nothing but the Blood’. What great words of hope and encouragement the hymn has for a forgiven sinner.
“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow,
no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Scripture is clear; there is no other way to fellowship with God than placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Jesus himself, in his last words from the cross said, “It is finished.” There was nothing else to be done for the salvation of lost sinners. Christ paid the debt of every sinner for all time. His invitation to every person is “come.”

Nothing but the blood, Jesus has paid it all. It isn’t Jesus plus anything. Christ alone can save. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

What Do You Believe In?

Dear friends,
As we begin the year 2021, we are enjoying some nice weather. I was glad for the melting of the snow, so that we could get the Christmas decorations and lights taken down in relative comfort. A bonus was that the extension cords were not frozen in the snow. Christmas was different this year, with all the Covid precautions in place, but one fact remains; Jesus came to earth and He will return again, at just the right time, and in accordance with the Father’s plan and purpose.

Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, said this; “Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).

I read a headline recently from the UK, in which people were encouraged to “Believe in Science.” I don’t know about you, but I choose to believe in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am not opposed to science, but I know that science will not save me from my sin. It might provide answers to scientific questions, or provide a vaccine for Covid19. Science changes with new discoveries, and gives us many benefits that were unheard of in earlier generations, but it will never take the place of God’s unchanging word.

Unlike science, God does not change. “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 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 1:16-17).

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

“He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man, that He should change His mind” (1 Samuel 15:29).

In Him,
Pastor Jerrygggg

Look for the Light

Dear friends,
We have had mostly nice weather for the past week, and it looks to be more of the same in the near future. We managed to get some Christmas decorations up over the weekend, but there are still totes that aren’t empty. We don’t seem to have the stamina to put them all up in one day as we have done in the past!

We will stay on the subject of Christmas this week. I sometimes think we are too quick to forget Christmas. Instead of taking the time to acknowledge the great gift of God in sending His son to bear the sin debt of the whole world, we want to get those gifts unwrapped and move on.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, very few people were aware of his coming. The innkeeper had no room to put them up, so his family ended up in a livestock shelter, which was probably a cave. As we read the story, it appears the only ones who showed up to worship the newborn were lowly shepherds. The religious leaders certainly weren’t interested enough to seek him, and Herod showed little interest, except to view the news as a threat to his political position. The prophet Micah, foresaw the Messiah as being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The religious leaders knew of this prophecy, yet didn’t take the time to check it out.

As we think of that first Christmas, we might wonder, is it any different today? People are so busy with the little details of their lives, that they have no time for Jesus, and they really aren’t interested in finding out about Him.

The prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus’ appearance among men in this way; “The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in darkness.” (Isaiah 9:2). In the New Testament, John wrote this of Jesus; “In Him was life, and that light was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it… He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:4-11).

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 8:12).

Have you seen the Light? What is your response?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Christmas is Coming

Hello friends,
After a week of very nice November weather, it seems we are going to cool off for a time. The seasons are still in transition, I guess. I trust you had a pleasant Thanksgiving observance in spite of the Covid19 virus. Some of the Christmas lights here at the lake have been put up, and more will appear. You are invited to drive through the lake community and enjoy the efforts of the residents. So far, there has only been light conversation regarding our own display, but I suspect action will be taken in the near future.

On the subject of Christmas, we are in the Advent season as noted in the church calendar. In fact, we are only three Sundays away from Christmas. It is not too early to begin thinking about the holiday, what it means, and how we are to respond to it. We all know the Christmas story from the gospels, but I like to go to the Old Testament and read the prophecies concerning the birth of the Savior. A favorite passage is from Isaiah.

“For to us a child is born, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In the New Testament, we read Jesus’ words, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38-40).

Perhaps you have heard the Christmas story many times, but have never made the decision to place your trust in Jesus for your salvation. I pray you do so before any more time passes. It is not too late.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Last Days?

Hello friends,
It’s time for another of our weekly conversations; what’s new at our house, and other commentary. First, I need to let you know the garage project is nearing completion. By this time next week, it will be time for a new topic. We ventured out three times last week, first to get material for the garage, another day to get haircuts and groceries, and a third to the chiropractor. As our pastor said Sunday, we’re staying “cautious, but not captive.”

These days, we should be turning our thoughts to the possibility of the promised return of our Lord Jesus Christ. After all, the way things are going, we may be seeing more of the signs of His coming. How many of the following are showing up in our news sources?

When asked for the signs of his second coming, Jesus answered with these words: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed… Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8).

Paul writing to Timothy said, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power… For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear’” (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3-4).

From Peter to believers everywhere: “Above all, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Christians rejoice in the truth of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. Our responsibility, in our time, is to share our faith with those who do not know Him, in order that they, too, are prepared for His second coming.

Proclaiming His Good News,
Pastor Jerry

Be Encouraged

Hello friends,
Another week has passed. We are experiencing typical March weather. It is a time of transition, and nature seems unable to decide. I am sure from past springs, that this will eventually bring about green grass and flowers if we are patient.

The Covid19 saga continues this week. Most of my pastor friends addressed the Christian response to this in their Sunday sermons. Thank God that we have the means to connect through technology, so that churches can meet in spirit, if not in person.

If you spend much time with social media, you will certainly be discouraged. My answer to this confusion is to go to the Word of God for truth and encouragement.

First of all, let us not forget that God is on His throne, He is still in control. “In the beginning God”, is how the Bible story begins. Read Genesis 1:1. In Colossians we are told that Jesus “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, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).

You may be asking; did God create this virus? Scripture tells us because of Adam’s sin in the garden, the creation has been corrupted. “To Adam, God said, “cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18). This virus, along with all other plagues and pestilence, and natural disasters is evidence of this curse. Someday God will make it all right.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:4-5).

The Bible describes a time when God will bring a new heaven and earth; “No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3ff).

Be encouraged, God’s people have hope.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry