Archive for the ‘Truth’ Category

God, Our Refuge

As I begin writing this, we’re in the middle of an old-fashioned blizzard! Snow is coming down, and the wind is picking up quickly. Update: Actually, the storm didn’t last long, but it was a reminder of what can happen this time of the year.

Every time one of these storms blows through, I am glad I don’t have to deal with them up close and personal anymore. At the same time, I can relate to what livestock men and women are experiencing. I have many memories of taking care of cows and calves in bad weather.

I have learned over the years, to appreciate the instincts that the Creator provided to the livestock. Given the opportunity, the cows seem to always find protection from the storm. One of the things I learned, was not to go out in the middle of a storm and try to “help” the cows. Experience taught me to wait until the storm passed, because moving them just caused more problems in the end.

We can apply this thought to our own lives, as we encounter the storms of life. When we are in a difficult place, instead of asking God to take us out of the storm, we could ask him to get us through the storm. It could be that he has allowed the storm to strengthen our faith. If we did not experience the storm, we would not learn to trust Him.

Isaiah, praising God said, “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…” (Isaiah 25:4).

Forty-three verses, just in the Psalms, speak of God as a refuge. Here are a few:
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9). Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge (16:1). Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (34:8).

I’m reminded of the chorus of an old hymn entitled, Til the Storm Passes By;
“Til the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
Til the clouds roll forever from the sky.
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand.
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.”

In His hands,
Pastor Jerry

Know Peace

This winter has certainly shown us some variation. The temperature graph is looking like a roller coaster track. In addition, we have had rain, snow, and at times abundant sunshine. Partly due to rampant illness in the area, we have not been going out in public, except for going to church on Sunday. I did make a trip early last week, to do some business and get a few groceries.

Listening to, or reading the news can be discouraging, disheartening, maddening, or frustrating, or some combination of these. What are we to do in response? For the person who doesn’t know Jesus as Savior, it must look hopeless, and certainly not conducive to personal peace. For the Christian, however, even in the present circumstances, there can be both hope and peace.

Jesus, in describing the days leading up to the end, pretty accurately describes the world today. Yet, he gives encouragement, by promising peace in the midst of it. Speaking to his disciples, in the first part of John, chapter 16, he describes the world as his second coming draws near. It is not a pretty picture, nor is it encouraging, but he could have been talking about America in 2019. Read Matthew 24:1-14.

Then we read his words in John 14:27… “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
“You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
“Because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5)?

Peace, for the Christian, is being settled in the knowledge that his sins are forgiven and he has been made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, he will have peace in his heart no matter what his circumstances are. Praise God!

As the saying goes: “No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace!”

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Accept No Substitutes

Because the colder weather has kept us indoors, I started a project that I’ve been trying to avoid. There will soon be new flooring in the master bathroom, something my spouse has been wanting done for a long time.

We were entertained this week by a few thousand geese that spent a couple of days and nights enjoying the open water on the Lake Ericson. I never tire of seeing them come in to land, with their wings cupped like flaps-down on an aircraft, and their feet as landing gear. The ones that come in a little too high, will tip sideways to quickly lose altitude, while others need to make another circle while waiting their turn to land.

Attacks on the people of God seem to be a recurring theme in our day. Everywhere we turn there are attacks on Christians and their faith. It is amazing the number of people who claim knowledge of the Bible and the teaching of Jesus, and have little or no such knowledge. It is a challenge for the genuine Christian to have a voice that will be heard in the public square. As I see it, there are many, many people who would rather believe some Hollywood theologian, than a true Bible scholar.

As the apostle Paul, and his fellow missionary Silas visited Berea, and Paul preached, scripture records this: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:10-11). We need to be like those Bereans and examine the scriptures to see if what is being taught is true.

There is an old advertising slogan that says, “Accept No Substitutes”, an appropriate phrase to keep in mind when listening to those who falsely quote the Bible. I have a printer in my office. It is an HP brand. Recently, I bought a remanufactured color cartridge, but it does not recognize it as authentic HP, and will not work with that cartridge installed.

Be like my printer. It knows when a substitute cartridge is installed, and it refuses to accept it. Christians need to know the scriptures and refuse to accept any substitute. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, open the book and see for yourself what it says.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Tune-up or Overhaul?

Dear readers,
I always struggle with what kind of salutation is best to open these weekly conversations. Sadly, there are not many original greetings available to me. Perhaps I should just use ‘to whom it may concern.’ I guess this is just another challenge to a weekly writer.

In a previous time, I did a bit of mechanic work for myself and a few neighbors. Some of the vehicles that came into the shop needed a minor tune-up to be restored to working order. There were others, however, that needed a complete overhaul in order to perform correctly.

These days, as the effects of age begin to be more noticeable, we wonder at times if we, too, are in need of a tune-up, or a complete overhaul? In this new year, there may be a few people still committed to exercise and diet, as means to tune-up their bodies.

What about your spiritual well-being? Are you looking for a new year makeover? Will you be needing an overhaul or tune-up? Maybe a new you?

Here are a few suggestions from the Bible, beginning with our basic spiritual condition as defined by God. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Other scriptures point out the fact that because of Adam, we all are born in sin, needing an overhaul, if you will.

Jesus said the remedy for this condition is a new birth. In His words; “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5). This would be a complete overhaul, a new beginning. In fact, a new creation, according to scripture.

When Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet in the upper room, Peter objected, insisting he needed a bath. Jesus answered him, “One who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean” (John 13:9). One who is saved, need only be cleansed from recent sins. John refers to this in his first letter, written to believers; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This, too, could be likened to a tune-up.

Renewed in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Basics

There’s not a lot of news from our house this week, we are mostly staying indoors and enjoying our retirement. One benefit of being home alone with each other is so far, we have escaped the illnesses making their rounds in the area. Some of our time is spent trying out new recipes that appear on our Facebook page. I wonder if the folks who share all those wonderful pictures of food, have tried them all?

My wife has done the cooking in our house since the beginning. Our menu was somewhat limited in the early years, but improvement came quickly. As I join her in the kitchen, one thing I have learned, is the best results come from following the recipe.

Living the Christian life is much the same. For the best results we need to stay within the bounds of the Basic Recipe, God’s Word. In a day when some are calling the Bible outdated and unnecessary, and as one preacher has promoted the idea of ‘unhitching’ from the Old Testament, we need to stop and take a look at what we might call the basic recipe for living as God intended.

The Ten Commandments and the commands of Jesus. They are not unrelated, in fact, they are forever connected through Jesus Christ. He said, “I have not come to abolish the Law, I have come to fulfill the Law.”

The first four of the Ten Commandments pertain to the relationship of the Israelites with God, and the other six deal with social relationships within the community of God’s people. In the New testament Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This was followed by, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:29-31).

In another place, Jesus gives his disciples a new command, that they were to love one another, just as he had loved them. (John 13:34). The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament are not divorced from the New Testament teaching, in fact, they are connected through the work of Christ on the cross, as he fulfilled the Law and continued its basic thought of first giving God his due worship, and having a right relationship with his children.

Borrowed quote: “God’s Word: Still the final authority, opinions don’t matter”; whether in the New or Old Testaments.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

A Reminder

Another week has gone by, and the year is drawing to a close. The shortest day of the year is rapidly approaching. and by the time March comes around, the lengthening of daylight hours will be noticeable. It is also the time when, due to the holidays, we who contribute articles to our local newspapers will find new deadlines to meet.

If my next few columns seem a bit disoriented, I can blame it on being forced out of the comfortable little rut I have gotten into. Those who do not read this in the newspaper, will just have to play along, because everyone gets the same material, just by different means.

This week, I will share a thought or two about Christmas, and what I believe we need to remember about the holiday. I see others writing what I would call ‘feel good’ statements, about the meaning of Christmas, and I think where did they get that idea?

One particular statement caught my eye this week. It was written by the pastor of a mainline church. The article ended with the thought that Jesus came to give the gift of love, and to be a great teacher and an example to all mankind. This is true in a sense, I suppose, but the words of Jesus bring a different message; one that is often overlooked in our day.

Of course we all know John 3:16, in which Jesus says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” But the verse goes on to say that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. In the very next verse, he says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Here are more words of Jesus: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 5:17). “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17b).

“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

In His enduring love,
Pastor Jerry

Landmarks

Hello friends,
I trust your Thanksgiving celebration was enjoyable, and you were able to count great numbers of blessings from the past year. We made a couple of road trips, traveling to South Dakota on Wednesday, to help Alex as he moves into a different house closer to school and work. Thursday, we joined with some other folks for a Thanksgiving meal and great fellowship, then on Friday to Neligh to celebrate with Ryan and the three grandsons.

We all have them; those places that we use to mark roads, or to remind us of some event in the past. As we traveled highway 281 north of O’Neill last Wednesday, we passed what is known locally as the “stone windmill.” I remarked that it was falling down with the passage of time. I thought of other landmarks I have known. Most have disappeared, but they seem to be always replaced with another name, or another object. Those places and events of life, seem to require some sort of marker for those who pass their way.

Growing up, where our county road connected to the major highway, there was a stone house. Everyone told people unfamiliar with the area to turn at the ‘stone house.’ Eventually, the old house was torn down, and being eight miles from town, the intersection became the eight-mile road.

In another place, three large cottonwood trees marked a t-intersection. Travelers were instructed to turn at the three-tree corner. After the road department cut those trees down, three more volunteer cottonwoods were allowed to grow up in their place. It is still the three-tree corner.

Other, more familiar landmarks have stood for many years, but show the wear and tear of erosion and other changes. I’m reminded of Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, among others. Landmarks may disappear, but we find replacements. In this age of GPS, people still need those landmarks to keep them on the right road.

The Bible can be compared to a landmark. Its purpose being to show the lost the way to salvation, and for helping to keep God’s people on the right path.

If I may paraphrase Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, landmarks disappear, but the word of God stands forever.” As the old song says, “The Bible stands, like a rock, undaunted.” When all other landmarks are gone, the Bible stands.

Standing on the promises,
Pastor Jerry