Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

God is Calling

As some of you know, we went “back home” yesterday, back to the neighborhood where we spent over 40 years of our married life. I had the blessing of sharing God’s word at our old church, and it was good to visit old friends. It was encouraging to see that the church is alive and well there, with young families making up a good part of the congregation.

My message concerned the call of God on the lives of individuals. I’d like to share a few highlights from that message for this week’s column.

There are at least two ways God calls people to himself. The first and most important is the call to salvation. This is a call to see our sinfulness, the need to confess that sin, to ask God’s forgiveness, and to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13).

The second call of God to the believer, is to serve Him. For some, it might be a call to pastoral ministry, or to some mission field. But for the vast majority, it is to serve in the local church or maybe to just share your story with a neighbor or with your friends. I don’t believe anyone who has chosen to follow Christ has the option of sitting on the sidelines waiting for others to do the work.

Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). Jesus’ command to his disciples is, “Come, follow me.”

Oh, God won’t force you to do anything. He has given us free will, but he might make it uncomfortable to be disobedient. Jonah ended up inside a big fish until he agreed to obey God. I believe no one is completely satisfied in this life unless he has Jesus in his heart, and is willfully serving God in some way.

In His service,
Pastor Jerry

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Concerning Work

Hello friends,
We are a couple of weeks into the official summer season. This means the days are getting shorter, but it will be awhile before we notice much difference. The Independence Day holiday is soon to be history, and we will get down to our summer routine. For some, it will be watering and mowing the lawn, or tending a garden. For others, it will be watering crops, and harvesting a hay crop.

God put us here to work and to make a living, in order to provide for our families, and in the end to bring Him glory through our stewardship of what He has given us.

It begins is Genesis 2. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:9-10).
“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in His ways;
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours” (Psalm 128:1-2).

To those who would take advantage of other’s work by stealing, Paul said, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his hands.” And more good advice from Paul: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17), and this includes our vocation, whatever it may be.

So, as you go about your daily work routine this summer, whatever it is, work as for the Lord, because after all, he is the provider of all good things, even the daily labor he has called you to do. In addition, here is a bit of advice from the apostle Paul: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Chasing the Wind

Dear readers,
I’m writing from a different location this week. We are in Grand Island for a couple of follow-up doctor’s appointments. Nothing serious, just keeping up with previous procedures. Now and then, we are able to combine these, and find it a good reason to bring the camper and hang out for a couple of days. Note: Window shopping may be a part of this experience.

The following statement comes as a result of our pastor’s sermon this week. It is interesting to observe people, and the things they do to entertain themselves and otherwise occupy their time. For some, it seems that work is their sole purpose and goal in life. Others work a steady job, but find time for recreation and other outside interests. I see people whose energy and resources are investing in owning and maintaining a home.

As I view these things, I wonder how many people actually do what they do with a biblical viewpoint? What would they say is important from that world-view, and what legacy would they want to leave for their children and grandchildren?

A wise man named Solomon, who lived many years ago, had some thoughts on this topic. He wrote them down in an Old Testament book called Ecclesiastes. Solomon had it all, possessions, riches, wisdom. There was nothing he did not have, nor was there any pleasure in life that he did not experience. Then he wrote these words.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and go, but the earth remains forever. The sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning to its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-7). Then he writes this: “I have seen all things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (verse 14).

Jesus gives us the proper perspective in this statement: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Harnessing the Wind

There is no fishing report this week. I hope to remedy that situation soon. Saturday, the lake community held its annual spring cleanup day. The weather was perfect for the projects that were planned, and if you were paying attention, you could see the Lord’s blessing on the day. I want to personally thank all who were involved. It takes a lot of cooperation and effort from everyone to keep everything nice for residents and visitors.

Sunday afternoon, I took a trip to northeast Holt County for a meeting of our local church association. This is an area with a recently installed wind farm. The approximately 200 wind turbines can be seen from a great distance, and were a reminder to me again, of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian.

In the Bible, the Lord Jesus speaks of the Spirit as unseen, like the wind, but working His power in the life of a believer. That power shows up in the changed life of a person who has given his life to Christ as his Savior and Lord. Let’s see what the Bible actually says about this.

First, in relation to salvation, and eternal life. A man named Nicodemus asked about miracles Jesus had been doing. Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again!”

Nicodemus has another question. “How can a man be born again when he is old?”

Jesus continues; “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit… The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-8).

Jesus, as he was about to ascend into heaven, promised to send the Holy Spirit. These are His instructions to his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised… In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:4-8).

This same Holy Spirit is given to every believer. His power is our strength, much as the wind powers those wind turbines.

Amen!
Pastor Jerry

Good Soil

The camper has been winterized, and sits waiting for that warm spring breeze again. Winter, I feel, is just around the corner. As I look at the calendar, Thanksgiving and Christmas will soon be here. Some of our lake community residents have left for a warmer climate, leaving us to deal with what comes next. I do think those of us who stay are more inclined to welcome those cooler temperatures, even if they might be accompanied with an occasional snow storm. I’ve always said I wouldn’t want to live where the temperature is the same the year around.

Regarding the election this week; I recommend everyone get out and vote. I know it’s tempting to stay home, but the truth is, there is a choice, and if you stay away from the voting booth, you may contribute to a result you will regret later. I won’t politicize this column, but I would encourage you to exercise your right to vote. It’s a freedom a lot of people do not have.

Our mums have performed beyond anyone’s expectations. They were planted in very good soil and with all the extra nutrients, have grown to enormous size. In fact, Milrae had much smaller plants in mind when she planted them. This reminds me of the seed Jesus described in the gospel, that produced up to 100 times what was planted. Soil quality is everything, whether planting crops or flowers. It is even more so when seeds are planted for the Lord.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus speaks of a farmer sowing seeds on various types of soil. Some fell on the path, some on rocky places, some among thorns, and “still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop. To his disciples he explained, “the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding many times what was sown.”

Several questions arise here; are you the good soil that has received the gospel seed? If so, does your spiritual growth reflect that? Also, are you seeking to plant those seeds in others? Healthy plants produce good seed that produces good crops.
Note: As you plant those gospel seeds, don’t worry about the soil quality. God’s Holy Spirit is in charge of preparing soil.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

On Serving Him

I didn’t go fishing last week, but I did go to the annual meeting of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists and catch a cold. So, from Wednesday to now, I’ve been in survival mode.

These annual meetings are for the purpose of conducting the business of the convention; electing officers, approving a budget for the coming year, etc. But, there are also sermons and Bible studies that both challenge and encourage us. Today, I’ll share just a couple of thoughts that caused me to examine my own life.

One statement was this: We need more dish towels, and fewer show towels. In every home, there are usually some show towels. You just know they are put on the towel bar for show. They are purely decorative, and not to be used for drying. But you also find dish towels. They are placed where they can be used for drying the dishes. If you want something dried, you find the dish towel.

In Christian service, there is a need for ‘dish towels’. We are to be useful in service to the Lord, not just hanging around for show. Jesus is our example, as he washed the feet of his disciples on the night of the Last Supper.

The other comment from one of the speakers that struck me, was the following: “If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.” This relates to my thoughts last year when headed to Good Samaritan Hospital on a helicopter, in the middle of the night.

I realized that if I survived whatever was wrong with me, that God must still have work for me to do. I did survive, and I am now in relatively good health. Although I retired from the pastoral role in my church, I am convinced that there is still more for me to do in the line of ministry. I will wait now to see where my Lord leads me. There is a hymn with these words: “Where He leads me I will follow. I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.”

These are the words of Jesus: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be” (John 12:26). To all of His followers, His command is, “come, follow me.”

Do you know Him? Are you following Him? Remember, “If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done!”

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Religion or Relationship?

The sun is shining and the temperature is cool; a beautiful morning. I love these late summer days!

I hear a lot of people mention the fact that they are religious. There seems to be confusion on the part of many regarding the difference between what it means to be Christian, and what the term religion, or religious, means. Let’s look at these two terms today, and see if there is in fact, a difference.

A Christian is an adherent of Christ; one committed to Christ; a follower of Christ. A religious person is one who seeks to gain favor with God by their own effort. The term “religion” emphasizes conduct. Religious people base their salvation on good conduct, or good deeds. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). This is God’s view of religion.

The Bible speaks of God-pleasing religion as helping others in need (James 1:27). A believer with this kind of religion is faultless (pure or undefiled), and keeps himself pure (clean). This is not a definition of religion but rather a contrast to mere acts of worship and ritualistic observances that are commonly called religion.

Make no mistake, religion will not get you to heaven. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will do that. The invitation is extended to all. In no way will he deny anyone who believes on him for their salvation (John 6:37). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21). What then, is God’s will? “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life” (John 6:40).

Writing to Christians, Paul said this: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:3-5).

Salvation is by faith, not by works. Good works for the Christian are the result of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, allowing Him to work through you for his glory.

Religion or relationship, which will it be?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry