Archive for the ‘Trials’ Category

Our Calling

Dear friends,
The garage project has progressed to the point we can close the doors and keep the snow out. It isn’t done, but we like it so far. At this point, we are waiting for material to finish the project. After the winds of the last few days, I believe it has passed the test.

How is this for a song title? Life Ain’t Fair and the World is Mean! I didn’t make this up; there is a song with that title being played on the bluegrass channel from satellite radio. After the election, there are those who can relate. In any situation there are those who are happy and others who are disappointed. It is true; life isn’t fair, and the world is mean. Trouble comes, and life isn’t fair. Elections are about competing world-views, someone wins, and someone loses. What is fair to one doesn’t seem fair to another.

The world is mean, especially to Christians. Nowhere does the Bible indicate the Christian is going to be loved and accepted by the world. Jesus, speaking to his disciples said this; “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why it hates you.” (John 15:19b). Also, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Here is something I read this week. These are wise words for us; “With election day behind us, we Christians need to remember our primary calling has not changed. Let your faith be encouraged in the fact that God reigns. Continue going out into the world proclaiming the Good News. Stand firm, keep fighting for justice. And love your neighbor.”

Peter reminds us to “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (2 Peter 2:16).

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). As Christians, we remember that God has placed here to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus.

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Worry

Hello all,
Another week has gone by, and another month is almost gone. Soon we will be half-way through 2020. It has been an interesting year, for sure. Someone suggested we put up our Christmas trees and call an end to 2020. I’m not sure it would work, but I understand the sentiment.

These are troubled times in our country, and in the bigger picture, around the world. This is really nothing new, but perhaps on a bigger scale than we have seen for some time. Troubled times come and go, and rest assured, our God is not surprised by any of it. I am convinced that much of this unrest comes from the fact that we, as a people, have gotten so far from God. Very few care for anyone but themselves, and many care very little about the other guy.

I have to keep returning to the scriptures for reassurance and encouragement. We tend to worry about these things, but the Lord has told us not to worry. Faith will carry us through these difficult times, but no one has ever said it is easy. When Jesus came walking on the water, as the disciple were in the storm, Peter stepped out of the boat, but as he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-31). I think we are in that kind of situation currently, but let us keep focused on the Savior, instead of the storm around us.

His words to the disciples were, and are; “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of the is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:6-7).

One of Jesus’ most direct teaching on worry is this: “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. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26).

Standing on the promises of God,
Pastor Jerry

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

It Is Well

Hello friends,
I trust this finds everyone well. We are well, although occasionally we get on each other’s nerves a bit. We are all going down a path we’ve never been on, but we have hope this isn’t going to be forever. Still, I have to remind myself to be patient in this. At least we don’t have to entertain small children, as some of you are doing. If that is your situation, hang in there!

As we wait for a return to normal times, I’m reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. He was writing from prison, and wanted the church to be united in its purpose and to let the focus be on the Lord Jesus. The following verses are not necessarily applicable to our current situation, but there are lessons here for us.

To the church, Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!… 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…”

Concerning his own situation, he rejoices in the support of the believers, then says this: “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.

Finally, he writes these words to the faithful believers, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:4-19).

As we are encouraged by Paul’s word, consider the words of the old hymn;
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And as the prophet said, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:18).

In His loving care,
Pastor Jerry

Fear Not

Hello friends,
It has been an interesting week, to say the least. On a personal note, I saw the cardiac surgeon for a checkup. He says everything looks good, and to continue rehab. The weather continues to follow the pattern we have come to expect for the month of March.

Our topic for the week will be the Covid19 virus. A lot of people have written on this topic, but all have different platforms and different readers. So, here are my thoughts on the virus pandemic, and what our response should be from a biblical perspective.

As Christians, our view of this should be one of dependence on God’s word and His promises. Along with that, we must point people to Jesus. In the face of uncertainty, our message is that He is the One in whom we trust, not just for here and now, but for eternity.

Jesus had these words for those concerned with the future as recorded in Luke’s gospel. “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). He has more to say beginning in verse 22; “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (verses 22-26).

The promise of God is that those who trust Jesus for their eternal salvation will never be taken from Him. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, (including viruses), will be able separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). Salvation is found in no one else, not governments, scientists, or political leaders.

Trusting Him completely,
Pastor Jerry

Real Hope

Hello friends,
Well, our fall weather has taken a decidedly winter-like turn. This is most noticeable in the dropping temperature. As we drove to O’Neill on Saturday, and as the wind changed to the northwest, we experienced a change from seventy-three degrees to sixty-three in a little over 60 miles. By Sunday morning we were at 34 degrees!!

It is not a new thing to say that the world has trials and trouble. It seems in recent days that those things are being multiplied. People in our little corner of the world are no exception. Everywhere, we see tragedy and heartache, and many people are wondering if there is really hope for the future. The belief of the Christian is that there is hope. Our hope comes through our faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord.

These are the words of the apostle Peter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice…” (1 Peter 1:3-6).

The hope of which the Bible speaks is not some type of wishful thinking, but a sure knowledge of the fulfillment of a promise made by God, that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity with him. Therefore, we who have faith in Christ, even in our heartache and loss can say with the apostle Paul, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”

We have the assurance from God’s Word that we who know him as Lord and Savior, will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before.

These are words from an old hymn; “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Standing on the Rock of Ages,
Pastor Jerry

Held In God’s Hand

Hello friends,
Another week of retirement has passed. We made two trips to Albion for appointments, had one wedding rehearsal, a lake association board meeting, a wedding, and I traveled to Valentine on Sunday to preach for a pastor who needed a day off. I am finding this retirement thing does not allow for a lot of down time if you are willing to be involved in your community.

As I am involved with people, and as I visit with different individuals, I find that most are dealing with, or have at some point dealt with issues of one kind or another. No one is immune to trouble. I also find that Christians in general, have a much more positive outlook in times of trouble than those who don’t know Christ on a personal level. This doesn’t mean that the Christian has no doubts, or that his or her faith doesn’t waver at times. However, as the Bible states in several places, the righteous will live by faith. Keep in mind that the righteous person as described in Scripture, is one who has received God’s gift of salvation, paid for by Christ on the cross.

In the Bible, we find examples of people who lived by faith in God, and in His promises. Noah built an ark, although he had never seen rain. Abraham packed up and moved to a place he had never heard of because he had faith. Joseph endured all kinds of hardship, always trusting God in the worst of times. The apostle Paul endured much hardship, faithfully preaching the gospel in many difficult situations.

If you are in one of those situations, here are some of God’s promises. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you in my righteous right hand… For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’” (Isaiah 41: 10, 13).

Finally, Jesus said this, concerning his followers; “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Living in a Broken World

Hello friends,
We have reached those hot July days we have been anticipating. Maybe some of that excess water standing around will dry up, and those who need to get their hay harvested will be able to get out into the field. Here is a tip from the Bible; I learned this a few years ago, when I was trying to out-guess the weather. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). My take-away? Go ahead and mow that hay. If you spend all your time trying to pick the perfect time, you will never get the hay baled.

We have seen more tragedies this week. Every day, it seems, there is another senseless act of violence or a tragic accident that affects someone we might know. It becomes almost too much to bear at times. One of the questions we ask is, why? “Why God, did you allow this thing to happen?” The truth is, we may never know the answer.

In reading God’s word, we find that our world is broken, because all the way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Due to their disobedience, sin had entered the world, and the creation was left in disarray. Consequently, we live in a broken world of broken people. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10-11).

Why do bad things happen? Because God’s perfect creation is broken. God is sovereign, he is in control of all things. Nothing happens that he is not aware of. Could he have prevented some of these things? Absolutely! I believe whatever trial we may be experiencing, God will use it for His good, and for His glory. We trust Him in these situation, not because of what he can do, but because of who He is.

Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and if we place our faith in Him, our fellowship with God is restored, and nothing can ever break that relationship again.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship 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” (Romans 8:35-37).

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Old Songs

Another week, another weather roller coaster. We have gone from a balmy, sunny early week, to a howling blizzard on Thursday. I just know spring is out there somewhere! As I look out my window this morning (Friday), I see bright blue skies and the brilliant whiteness of the sun shining on a snowy landscape. As I look at the forecast for the days ahead, the predictions for moisture contain the word rain, instead of snow. Can this be the beginning of the end of winter? I pray it is so.

We continue to pray for those most affected by the flooding, and other local disasters. It is beyond anyone’s imagination what those folks are experiencing.

Lately, I have been listening to music from days gone by. Maybe it is my age, or my stage in life, but I enjoy hearing the old songs. With the help of YouTube, and satellite radio, I am able to listen to the music of my youth. These old songs with their simple lyrics, bring back sweet memories of simpler times, when life was much less complicated. I wonder if today’s music will at some future time mean as much to its hearers as the songs I remember?

Music is a gift from God, but I wonder if he really intended it to be used as it is today? As I read scripture, music has always been a part of the worship of God. From the first mention of the tabernacle of the Lord, music has been involved.

“All these men were under the supervision of their fathers for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps for the ministry at the house of God” (1 Chronicles 25:6). Later, at the dedication of the rebuilt wall of Jerusalem, we read, “the Levites were sought out from where they lived… to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving… “(Nehemiah 12:27).

Many of the Psalms mention music as part of worship. “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp” (Psalm 147:7). Finally, from the New Testament, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

One final thought; with the return of spring, we will again hear the singing of the birds. Praise God!

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

No Signal

Another week has gone by. That elusive season we call ‘spring’ keeps teasing us with little glimpses of sunshine between the clouds. I just know that someday soon, we will experience the spring season in all its floral beauty.

Have you ever had one of those times when trying to make things right, you end up with a whole other set of problems? Last month, we purchased a new sofa-sleeper for our living room. After somewhat of a struggle, and with the help of a passing neighbor, we got the beast out of the pickup and into the living room. After unpacking it, we discovered a cut in the fabric, right in plain sight. I called the store, anticipating a refund of some sort, only to be told, “we will replace it, just bring it back and pick up another one.” So… last Monday, we returned the damaged one, loaded up the replacement, brought it home and unloaded it. By now, we had a system worked out, and it was much easier. However, I said if this one had any flaws, we were going to keep quiet about it. Enough is enough!

As I sat waiting for the church service to start, I noticed two words at the bottom of the screen at the front of the church: NO SIGNAL, meaning the projector was getting no signal from the computer. Several things came to mind at that moment. The one we can take a lesson from is this; Why is it we sometimes feel we have lost our connection to God? I can see three reasons. First, when our prayer time has been replaced by the cares of the day. Second, when we have unconfessed sin in our lives. And, third, when we fail to spend some part of the day reading and studying God’s Word.

Rather than asking why is there no word from God, the question should be, what am I doing to restore the communication that has been lost. As someone said many years ago, if you feel separated from God, guess who moved? We are told in Romans 12:12, to be persistent in prayer. As for a time alone with God, Jesus tells us to pray to God in private (Matt 6:6). And it goes without saying that God speaks through His word, if we will only read it.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry