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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

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Give Thanks Daily

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the time of year to give thanks for all our blessings. It is no coincidence, I believe, that the holiday coincides with the end of harvest. If we can’t count our blessing during this time of the year, when can we? In spite of the fact the Bible encourages thankfulness from God’s people, over the years I have noted that it seems easier to go to the Lord with a list of wants, instead of thanking him for blessings received.

Things we are thankful for in our house this week: Friends and family. A great place to live and enjoy our retirement. Our church family. God’s creation. Each new day. Good health, and the list goes on…

Speaking of the need to give thanks, here are some Old Testament commands of God to his people:
1 Chronicles 16:8… Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Also, verse 34… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

In 1 Chronicles 23:30; in a description of the duties of the Levites serving in the temple, we read: They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Then there is the witness of his people: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high” (Psalm 7:17). “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Let’s not just be thankful at Thanksgiving; may we start and end every day with an attitude of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Planning for Eternity

Our week started out rather nice, but by Thursday there was a radical change in the weather. We experienced snow for the second time in recent weeks. Friday morning, the temperature here was 13 degrees, with a stiff northwest breeze. I am definitely not ready for this.

The election is over now, and whether or not you are satisfied with the result, this is still the best place in the world to live, in my humble opinion. We are still a free society, and have freedoms that are not available in many parts of the world. Let us not take those freedoms for granted.

I have a habit of reading the obituary page of the newspaper. One phrase I see now and then, is that a person died unexpectedly. I suppose it is that the person died without warning. No one really expects to die, even though we know it is a part of life.

Knowing that we will pass from this life at some point in time, the question should be, am I ready to die? What preparations have I made for this event? Many people do estate planning, purchase cemetery plots, and make funeral arrangements in advance. But how many stop to consider where they will spend eternity?

There seems to be a general lack of concern for what lies beyond this life. Most people, I believe, just live in the here and now, with little thought of anything beyond. The truth is that there is life after death, and everyone will spend eternity somewhere. The Bible gives two destinations. One is heaven, the other is hell. There are some who believe in heaven, but think they will be allowed in because of their good deeds, and that they are in better standing with God than others they know. Some claim hell will be their destination, after all their friends will be there. Still others believe there will be opportunity to choose, after they die.

The Bible says this: Man is destined to die once, and after that, to face judgment. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, there is no other name by which we must be saved. Now is the day of salvation.

No one is promised tomorrow. Where will you spend eternity if you should ‘die unexpectedly’? Make those preparations now. Place your faith and trust in the Savior.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Defend Life

Some of you will receive this before the election on Tuesday. To you, I say get out and vote. It is your responsibility as a citizen to do so. To those of you reading this after the election, I hope you did vote, but remember, if you didn’t vote you, have no grounds to complain at the results.

For ‘retired’ people, we seem to be almost as busy as ever. I remember thinking my mother spent a lot of time keeping doctor’s appointments and now that I’m in that age group, I’m doing the same thing. In addition, in the past week I had a speaking engagement at a sister church, and we attended a bluegrass music concert at the Golden Husk Theater in Ord, which by the way was well worth the price of admission.

As I observe the activities of many in our culture who claim to be Christians, I wonder what Christ they follow, or if they have ever read their Bibles? Case in point: There was a news article in which a group of folks described as ‘clergy’, were gathered to ask God to bless an abortion facility. How is it that anyone could actually think that the Creator of life could be asked to bless, or condone something that can only be described as the taking of an innocent human life?

I believe God’s word is quite specific concerning this topic, and even though it has become a highly partisan issue, it is at its core a denial of God’s sovereignty over his creation.

I will let the Bible speak for itself. First of all, God is the creator of life: Genesis 1:27… “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.” As for babies, it is God who is responsible for their existence. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). God commanded, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). God condemned Israel for getting involved with child sacrifice. “They built high places for Baal… to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin” (Jeremiah 32:35).

May we repent of this sin, and God forgive us.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

A View of God

Hello friends,
Again with the weather. We’ve had beautiful days this week, and it brings memories of autumns past. I think this is called Indian Summer. Whatever you call it, I’m all for letting it continue. With all the newsworthy events going on in the world, it is good to pause and take in the good things God provides, including the changing of the seasons.

The popular view of God is that he is a God of love and mercy, of forgiveness, and there are those who promote the idea that he is a loving grandfather who wouldn’t judge anyone. The Bible reveals a God who is love, for sure, but along with this, it also emphasizes his justice and his wrath.

Now, there are many people who would say the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and judgement, but not so in the New Testament. This is not true. God does not change. If he judged people in the Old Testament for rejecting Him, He will do so in this age. True justice grows from love and rewards obedience, while punishing disobedience. The New Testament writers certainly did not ignore the fact of a wrathful God. Pay close attention to the following passages of scripture.

From Paul’s letter to the church at Rome: “The wrath of God is being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed… But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:5,8). Further, Paul writes this: But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world” (Romans 3:5-6).

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The words of John the Baptist in John 3:36; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Good News!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Rebel or Sinner?

It’s time for another visit. Although I hesitate to open every conversation with a weather report, here goes. We have been enjoying some nicer conditions, after our little taste of winter last week. I am seeing some harvesting machinery in the fields, as it begins to dry out from the recent moisture. With the improved weather comes a reminder to pray for a safe and bountiful harvest season.

Occasionally, my mind wanders way back to my earlier days. The other day, we were discussing the misbehavior of children, and as sometimes is the case, we were being somewhat critical of today’s young people. Suddenly, I was taken way back to my youth, to a time of personal rebellion, and remembered my mother threatening to send me to a military type school, because she was at her wit’s end. Maybe the youth of today aren’t much different than they have ever been.

In fact, if you read the Bible, you soon understand the whole human race is in rebellion against God, and has been almost from the beginning. Early in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and it continues today.

In the time of Noah, God described mankind as being all evil, all the time. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth in not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Praise be to God, for sending Jesus to die for our sins and restore our relationship with Him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sin is a word that isn’t used much these days, but it needs to make a comeback and people need to understand what it means. After all, it is the root cause of all that is wrong with our world. Without an understanding of sin, it is impossible to sort out the good from the bad, the wrong from the right, and finally, to see that the solution to the problem is Jesus Christ.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Words

Does it seem that we have gone directly from summer to winter? I hope this is just a preview, and that we can go back to fall for a while. After all, winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21.

As I read the news and follow conversations on social media, I am appalled at the lack of civil conversation. It seems everyone has a chip on their shoulder and is just going through life waiting to be offended by some other person. The use of profanity and threatening speech is at a level unseen in my life. The Bible has much to say about our speech, and the use of words. It may be that too few people have any knowledge of biblical teaching. If so, here are a few passages to start with.

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37).

Psalm 19:14… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 36:1-4; Concerning the speech of the wicked. “The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.”
Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Relating to holy living, as is commanded in scripture: But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips… Therefore, as God’s chosen people…, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:8-12).

As James said, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry