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Tri-Faith?

Hello friends,
It is good to look at the calendar and realize that spring is finally coming into view. The overnight temperatures are keeping the ice in great shape for those who are dedicated to winter-time fishing. As for me, I will wait for those warm spring days to get in the fishing mode. Now, on to today’s defense of the gospel.

Here is a headline: New York Minister Named First Executive Director of Omaha’s ‘Bold’ Tri-Faith Initiative.

Now, this should get our attention as Christians. Reading on, we find that on this organization’s property, there is a mosque, and a synagogue, with a church under construction. The executive director, we read, is from a liberal denomination in New York. He believes these diverse groups can work to bring about peace. Obviously, those promoting this, and who claim to be Christians, have no concept of God’s word. This is a line of thinking today that says we should just give equal legitimacy to every religion. This is not from God.

Scripture clearly instructs God’s people not to be involved with false religions. There are both Old Testament and New Testament commands for God’s people to be separate from all other faiths.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is here between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God… Therefore, come out from them and be separate, says the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” To those who disputed his claim to deity, he said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.” (John 8:42).

Regarding the gospel message, John had this to say: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house and welcome him. Anyone who welcome him shares in his wicked work (2 John 1:10-11).

Jews do not recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah, and Islam sees as enemies both Christians and Jews. Do not be deceived.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

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For the Faith

It was a little warmer Sunday, although the temperature early was several degrees below zero. A little warm-up in the afternoon was welcome. There were several families and individuals enjoying some ice fishing on the lake. I am beginning to hear rumblings that people are tired of winter, but someone reminded me today that winter actually got a late start here. Temperatures were well above normal all the way up into November.

I keep reading of those who claim to be Christians promoting views of the Bible, of God and Jesus, that are nothing short of the devil’s lies. Many of these people are in positions of authority in churches, but they preach a different gospel than that given to the writers of Scripture. There are many warnings in the Bible dealing with those who would twist God’s word something he never intended. They claim to speak for Him, but are far from Him.

Here is a warning from the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight.
Isaiah 5:20-12

Their reward, as seen here, is woe. Used here, the word woe, refers to judgment. Jude, in the New Testament wrote about these false teachers. “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 4).

Jude, with a sense of urgency, encouraged his readers to, “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). The apostle Paul: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1).

A number of these false teachers started well, and have attracted large numbers of followers. Now, they have drifted far from the path of righteousness, and those who listen to their teaching do not even know it. Be very careful who you listen to, and to the message they are presenting. All teaching should be measured up against Scripture.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

What Can You Give?

It has been a good week for us. There were trips to Grand Island, Albion, and Ord. Doctor’s appointments, shopping at Menards and working together on some little projects around the house. Last Sunday, I spoke at a church in Chambers, Nebraska, then made it back home in time for a carry-in dinner and annual business meeting at our church. Next week, I’m off to Loup City to speak at Grace Bible Church, filling in for a friend. I was told recently by another friend; “You ain’t retired.” This was just affirmation of the fact that if you make yourself available to the Lord, he will keep you busy doing his work.

Speaking of doing the Lord’s work, I came across these verses in my daily Bible reading this week. In Exodus, when the tabernacle was being built, Moses had instructed the people to bring offerings of materials for construction. We read this: All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do. At one point, the workers came to Moses and said, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:5-7)

Now, I know of no preacher who has ever said to his congregation, “Don’t bring anything else as an offering to the Lord’s work, we already have more than enough.” There are never enough resources for doing the Lord’s work, whether financial giving, or gifts of time and talent. There are never enough people willing to teach Sunday school, lead Bible studies, or evangelize their neighbors, their family members and acquaintances.

Jesus emphasized that we use our gifts until he returns (Luke 19:13). Can you even imagine how Christ’s church would grow, if there were more than enough resources and people to do the work? It would be amazing, I am sure! In what way are you helping grow the kingdom?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Know Where You’re Going

Update: Last week, I mentioned some surgery on my arm. The lab report came back okay. Praise God for that!

I have been sorting and printing hard copies of my past articles and commentaries. Such a trip down memory lane! One thing frustrates me, though. Some of the files are missing, and some I found are on a CD that my computer won’t open. The missing ones are from 2004, I suppose I’ll find a way to access them eventually.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it, but I enjoy listening to bluegrass music. One recent song title caught my attention, and I thought, isn’t this just the way the world is these days?

The song is, “We Don’t Know Where We’re Going, But We Sure Are Making Good Time.” I don’t even know all the words to the song, but the title says it well. People without the Lord, and without any assurance of spending eternity in heaven with him, are just going through life with no direction and no meaning. They try to add meaning to life with all kinds of things, but in the end, they are just making good time on a journey to nowhere. To quote Solomon, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

More from Solomon: Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Then he then sums it all up at the end of chapter 12: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every good thing, whether it is good or evil.”

What is my point? “Seek first his (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Life is not meaningless if you are living for Jesus. You will not have to wonder about your final destination. Heaven will be your final home.

Enjoy the journey,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Wait

Hello friends,
Finally, we have seen some warmer weather. It was followed by a really big storm. Chalk up one for the weather man.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw my dermatologist for a 6-month checkup. She thought a spot on my arm needed attention, and a biopsy showed some cancer cells. This week, I returned for surgery to remove more tissue. Now I’m wearing stitches in my arm. Hopefully this is the end of it.

Much of what we see in the news provides material for commentary. In fact, I could probably write more than one article a week, if I so desired. This week has been no different.

A week ago now, there was a false alarm in Hawaii about a missile attack. We can glean at least two important lessons from this incident.

First, we are reminded that our lives could end without warning, or at least on short notice. I’m sure we have been reminded of this many times, but how often do we actually think about the possibility? What preparations have we made for our families to continue on after we’re gone?

The second point, is that millions of people have disregarded the most important warning of all. That warning has eternal significance for all people. Jesus is going to return and judge the world. Those who know him as Savior and Lord will go with him to glory, and those who have rejected him go to eternal damnation. I know there were times in my own life, when God gave me another opportunity to trust in Jesus Christ for my salvation. In His grace, I eventually made the right choice.

I know of at least two instances recently, where individuals have been close to death, and recovered. To my knowledge, neither one has any personal relationship with the Lord, nor have they shown any inclination to place their faith in the Lord Jesus. This is sad.

Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Scripture also reminds us that it is appointed to man, once to die, and after that the judgment. We are also told, “today is the day of salvation.” This is not a false alarm. It is truth. Tomorrow may not come. Today is the day of salvation. Do not wait.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

God Said No?

As I read my Bible each day, every now and then a verse, or even a phrase will catch my attention. It happened again this week. As I was reading in Genesis 17, I saw these words; God said no! I suppose I was reading without really paying attention, but those three words stopped me short. What? God said no?

God told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a child, but Abraham thought he had a better plan. “Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael were acceptable to you!’” But God said “No. Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac.” God said no! His promise still stood, and he would do what he said. Abraham just needed to wait on the Lord’s timing.

I wonder how many times we, in spite of his promises to us, thought we had a better plan? His answer is always the same: No! Just wait for my timing. God was patient with Abraham, but insisted He would carry out his plan for Abraham’s promised heir. It was up to Abraham to be patient, waiting in faith that God would do as he said.

Malachi 3:6… I the Lord, do not change. Also, 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 not promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

1 Samuel 15:29; 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.

Paul speaks of the Christian’s faith as “a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” (Titus 1:2)

If God should say no to your plans, rest assured, he has a better plan for you. Remember these words from scripture. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Escaping the Fire

Dear readers,
In recent columns, I have mentioned our unseasonably warm temperatures. That has all changed. The temps of the past few days have been frigid at best. A warm-up will be welcome.

It has always been my intention when writing these articles, to take a life experience and relate it to a passage, or theme from the Bible. My ideas have come from personal experiences, but also from television commercials, news headlines and other sources. For instance, here is a headline from late December: “Flames threaten rich California enclave; residents flee”

I bear no animosity toward those who have been successful, but there is a picture here of a biblical teaching. If their fame and fortune could save them, these folks would not have fled in the face of those wildfires. The truth is, when the flames of a forest fire come, no matter what your station in life, you flee to safety.

The Bible speaks of the fire of hell as punishment for those who reject God’s salvation. Escape from that penalty comes by placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus. How is this for a headline? “Thousands flee the fires of hell, run to Jesus for salvation!”

Let’s start of the New Year by examining our priorities and putting the really important things first. Jesus said this, concerning possessions: “Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Also, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

From Revelation 20:15; If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

There is good news! Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. (John 1:12). When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

We have compassion for those who have lost possessions in the fires, are we as concerned for those threatened by the fires of hell? We should be.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry