Archive for the ‘Trials’ Category

Where Will You Be?

Hello friends,
Summer is still here, as evidenced by the temperature forecast for this week. It was a busy weekend at the lake; the campgrounds were full and the river was crowded with tanks, kayaks, and other floating devices. The swimming area was busy, as is usual on sunny days. We are beginning to enjoy some produce from the garden. We wait for this season with anticipation, and have never been disappointed. It has occurred to me that the Labor Day holiday is a mere six weekends away. Where has the summer gone?

Every week, I search for a topic for these articles. There is no shortage of things to catch my attention, but which ones to comment on? From the Christian point of view, it seems more and more there is an anti-God mentality. At every point, the culture is downplaying the existence of God, and the need to follow His teaching. Jesus Christ is seen as nothing more than an ordinary human being, who lived a good life, or even a good teacher, and His followers are painted as being out of step with the times.

The following statement is a quote from Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary: “I think convictional conservative Christians are in the predicament of being considered by the world, to be what we are not accustomed to experiencing and that is, they’re looking at us as people on the wrong side of history, people on the wrong side of morality, people on the wrong side of all the revolutions that are running their course these days.” (World Magazine, 7/16/21).

I believe that the One in charge of history will eventually show the world the true side of history. He will prove that He is who He says He is. And everyone who ever lived will bow at His feet and acknowledge His lordship. Those who know Him will be rewarded, and those who rejected Him will be judged. This doesn’t mean life for His followers will be easy, but that they will be on the right side at the end.

“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God’’’.
“So, then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10c-12).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Thirsty?

Dear readers,
I’m writing this week from a little RV park in Lynch, Nebraska. There are no trains, and almost no vehicle traffic here. It is about as peaceful as you can get. I have been invited to be musical entertainment for a church event not far from here, and camping here means we won’t have to drive home late at night. Monday, we will move to Fort Randall and North Point recreation area, then drive to Mitchell to visit Alex. We will be home Wednesday in time to prepare for the busy Fourth of July weekend. I’m tired just thinking about it.

The church supper we attended Sunday night was well attended, and it was good to be there. The church family there had prayed for rain in their morning service, and the Lord provided that during the evening. This part of Nebraska was, and is needing rain. It is close to an area where there were lightning-caused fires last week.

As we think of a dry and thirsty land, I am taken to the Psalms. Written by David when he was in the desert of Judah, Psalm 63 is encouraging to us in those times when we need relief from physical and spiritual thirst.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, I will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing my lips will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for the jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
All who swear by God’s name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Praise the Lord,
Pastor Jerry

Stay the Course

Hello friends,
We’ve had our share of cloudy weather lately, but Saturday got back to some sunshine. The weekends are getting busier, as people begin to enjoy summer at the lake. We are seeing increasing numbers of campers, and camping spaces may be already reserved for some weekends.

The garden is doing well after a few frosty mornings. The seeds that were planted have sprouted, and are breaking through the soil. After having the one zucchini damaged a bit by frost, we have three new ones to supplement it. If they all do well, we may be leaving squash in cars and on doorsteps. I will be attempting to set up an automatic watering system for the garden, so that we can take time for some short camping trips.

As I read and listen to my media sources, it is becoming more evident that there is increasing animosity toward those who would claim belief in the God of the Bible. We are shouted down in the public square, on social media, and even in some so-called religious circles. I believe we are seeing the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, as he told of a time when Christians would be persecuted and even killed for their faith. Persecution for God’s people is not new. It has been around for centuries, but in increasing measure as far as we in America are concerned.

Jesus spoke these words to His followers; “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:20-21).

Paul’s words to Timothy apply to Christians today: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it” (2 Timothy 3:12-14).

May we be able to say with Paul on the day of judgment, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). And finally, to hear the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21)!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Stormy Weather

Dear friends,
We are living in stormy times. I say this partly because of the prediction of another winter storm coming our way. The past week has been colder, with some sunshine early in the week. The last couple of days have been cloudy, but with light winds. Such is winter in Nebraska. For those who live here, we understand this is part of the journey to springtime weather.

It is a stormy time in our country and culture, as well. We wonder what lies ahead, and to be honest, we can become discouraged as we see the storm clouds gathering. The disciples of Jesus were crossing the sea in a boat and got caught in a severe storm. There is a lesson here for us as we face the storms of life.

From Luke 8:22-25, we read: One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke Him saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, all was calm. “Where is your faith?” He asked His disciples
In fear and amazement, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him.”

In the middle of the storm, they forgot who was in the boat with them. They had seen evidence of His power over creation by the miracles he had done, yet there in the middle of the wind and waves, they panicked.

Isn’t this what we are prone to do? We commit to following Jesus, but when the storms roll in, we forget that He is present in the stormy weather, as well in the sunny days. He is our Rock and our Salvation in the good times and the bad.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

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