Archive for the ‘Trials’ Category

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

New View

Well… it looks as if March may be going out on a mild note, although the current forecast calls for a little snow toward the end of the week. One thing is certain, if it snows, the stuff will not stay long. I think most of us would be okay with some sunshine and some drying out of the soil. Our roads and streets are, to put it mildly, A MESS! I’m all for the four seasons, but it is time for a quick transition to the next one. After traveling to a sister church to preach Sunday morning, I would even welcome some road construction if it would mean smoother travel.

Flood cleanup continues across our state and in some neighboring states. Let’s continue to pray for the victims, also for those workers who are helping with the recovery. It is not too late to volunteer, and more volunteers would be welcome, I’m sure. Also, if you are in a position to do so, monetary donations would be greatly appreciated.

After being bombarded with the destruction and death of the flooding and storms of recent days, perhaps it is time for a refocus. As I anticipate the return of warmer weather and spring, my thoughts always seem to turn to renewal and rebirth. Spring brings baby calves, foals, lambs, green grass, flowers, and warm sunshine. As the celebration of Easter, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus draws near, those thoughts turn to spiritual rebirth and renewal. What follows are some of my favorite spring-time verses.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… and God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:1-30).
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).
The prophet Malachi spoke of the coming day of the Lord in this way: “But for you who revere my name… you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall (Malachi 4:2). Now there’s a picture of a spring day!

As we contemplate this theme of new birth and renewal, hear words of the Lord. “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Praise be to God,
Pastor Jerry

He Is Still Lord

Wow! When I wrote last week, that we were going from frozen to flooding, I had no idea what was in store for us. Most of what I wrote then would apply to today, as well. However, with so much destruction from the flooding and the snow storm, we need to go back to the scripture for perspective. I believe God is still sovereign and He knows everything we have gone through and the things we are experiencing now.

We can look at the life of Job, and learn from his response to personal disaster. After losing his family and possessions, Job was still able to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’ (Job 1:21). Even in the middle of disaster, he could praise his Lord.

In Isaiah 43:2, we read this; “I will be with your when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.” These words were written to Israel, but can be seen as a metaphor of God’s protection and help for his people as they pass through times of difficulty.

From the Psalms we read: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1-5).

The book of Hebrews lists many people of faith who lost much, some even losing their lives for their faith in the Lord. After listing those faithful servants of the Lord, we are told, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

It has been said we should hold loosely the things of this world, then it won’t be as painful when they are taken from us. From my own perspective, I have come to believe if the Lord takes something from us, he has something better in mind. I also believe that better thing might not come in this life, but is reserved for us in heaven.

Keep looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Responding to Adversity

What can I say about our weather? It is definitely not predictable to any level of success. It appears we will be going from frozen to flooding, if we get the rain that is forecast for the middle of this week.

Have you noticed that sometimes life gets in the way of living? Several of our friends or their family members have experienced major trials over the last several weeks. Everyone goes through these things eventually, no one is exempt from them. The Bible clearly states, in this life, there will be trouble. One thing I have noticed, is those who have a close relationship with the Lord are, in general, better able to deal with these setbacks than are those without Him. This is not to say it is easy, no trial can be said to be easy.

How we respond to adversity has much to say about our where our life is anchored. If our life is tied to “things”, we are bound to be disappointed. If our hope is in people, they will ultimately disappoint us. I could give other examples, but you get my drift. However, if our life and our hope are anchored in Jesus
Christ, there is nothing in the world that can move us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

These words from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, have been an encouragement to me. I pray they will encourage you, also.

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,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry