Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

On Freedom

The 2018 fireworks display at Lake Ericson was held Saturday evening, and ended in a rain storm. The early date was necessary due to availability of qualified persons. There were a lot of families who enjoyed the weekend at the lake, even though it wasn’t a holiday. Independence Day falls on Wednesday this year, but we should be able to celebrate this country’s independence every day. There are those who criticize her, and want to make harmful changes to our constitution, but America is still the greatest nation on earth, bar none.

Perhaps our greatest responsibility as citizens of this country, is to first of all, thank God for his blessings through the years, followed by prayers for the future of the United States of America. After all, if not for His guidance and protection in the past, this nation might never have been created.

There is another freedom for which we owe God our allegiance. He sent His Son to die for our sins, and in response to his offer of salvation, we are set free from the bondage of sin. True freedom in the spiritual sense means not only are we free from the penalty of sin, we are set free from the guilt that results from disobeying Him.

In him (Jesus) and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 1:12). Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Finally, in these verses, we find instructions on how to live as citizens in a country, under God’s direction: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king (president), as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:13-16).

Happy Independence Day,
Pastor Jerry

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Contentment

It seems we are trapped in an endless winter. There have been a few days when the temperatures resembled spring, and then we have a week of unseasonable coolness. Actually, as I remember, there have been spring seasons like this in the past. In the “old days”, we drove cattle across country for 20 or so miles to summer pasture. I recollect some of those trips, when we were sure we would either freeze, or come down with pneumonia because of the cold rain. There are few things that make you appreciate a warm, dry place like riding horseback all day in those conditions. On second thought, I have it pretty easy these days, so I’ll quit complaining about the weather.

We have been enjoying life at the lake. The flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom. The grass is green, and our back yard is populated with all kinds of birds. Some are just passing through, and others will be summer residents. We have several varieties of orioles and finches, and have enjoyed the presence of a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds. All this brings a renewed appreciation, and sense of thankfulness for God’s creation. On that note, I’ll just share some thoughts from God’s word.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26).

The apostle Paul had this to say about contentment in life: “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength… And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 11-13, 19).

In other words, God is able to provide for our needs, just as he cares for the birds, if we will only trust him. His storehouse of riches is inexhaustible, but he is not bound to give us everything we want. There is a great difference between want and need, and his promise is to meet our needs.

In His caring hands,
Pastor Jerry

Blessings

We have survived the great blizzard of ’18! We were able to keep the house in a state of semi-warmth with the camper generator and a cord run through the window to power a little electric heater. Kudos to the power company linemen, who brave the elements for the rest of us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Counting our blessings was easy this week, and today I would like to highlight some scripture passages praising God for his goodness. I have found my postings taking on somewhat of a negative view over the last few weeks, so it’s time for a brighter outlook.

The Psalms are packed with praises to God, as are the writings of some of the prophets and New Testament writers. Here are some examples:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens (Psalm 8:1).
I will praise you, O Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High (Psalm 9:1-2).
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praises to you, they sing praises to your name” (Psalm 66:1-4).

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself (Psalm 89:1-2).

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and redeemed his people (Luke 1:68).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Let’s just praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry

Church Etiquette

It is time once again for news and views from our house. As always, the weather is a common conversation topic. It’s interesting to note, temperatures that seem rather chilly in the fall seem almost balmy these days. Anything over fifty degrees sends me outdoors in my shirtsleeves.

I have had discussions concerning the tendency these days for people to dress casual for about every event or activity. What used to be jacket and tie at the very least, is now athletic shoes, denim jeans and tee-shirts. Many times these discussions come around to what to wear to church.

Along that line of thought, there was a post on Facebook this week resisting the trend to casual. The sign at the church door read: “It’s all about love. PLEASE, no food or drink, no cell phones, lots of love allowed.”

Here are my thoughts on the clothing issue. As far as God is concerned, it is not so much about our appearance as it is about the condition of our heart. I don’t believe this is an excuse to dress shoddily, or be uncaring about our appearance as we gather to worship. Christ doesn’t require us to clean up our act before he accepts us. He does expect to see change in us, as a result of making Him Lord of our lives.

As for the food and drink issue, here is the comment that accompanied the sign at the church door: “Why are some churches so fearful of food, drinks and cell phones? I’ve never seen a food or drink or a cell phone walk into a sanctuary by themselves. Generally speaking, there is a person attached. And churches need people more than clean carpet or quiet sanctuaries.”

Of course, we should welcome all to enter our church buildings, regardless of dress, food or drink, or whatever. But we are to love them enough to point them to the Savior, praying that the Gospel will touch their hearts, and bring them to salvation.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10). Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Just thinking,
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

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

2018 Begins

Once again, we say goodbye to the old year, and prepare to welcome another. I wonder, if there was no calendar, would we notice the transition? Probably not, and this says to me there probably won’t be much difference between December 31 and January 1.

As the year 2017 comes to an end, and as I contemplate the events of the past 12 months, I am reminded of something a friend told me. He said, “the world has gone mad!” It has been several years since he said it, but it is even more true today.

Another statement I heard from an ‘old guy’ back in the early 70’s still holds true today: “Someday, the Lord will come again, and straighten out this mess!”

However, in spite of all the discord and strife we see happening, along with the disappearing morals and self-worship that is evident, there is truth, and there is hope.

First, there is a God in heaven, and he is still on his throne. Nothing is happening that is going to surprise him.
Secondly, His word is true, and he promises to come and judge all the unrighteousness in the world.
Thirdly, and not the least, is the fact that he has provided a means to escape the coming judgment.

The promised Savior of the world, whose incarnation we just celebrated, died for our sins. And as we confess our sins, and believe on his name, we will be saved.

Knowing this, I can wish all of you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!
Pastor Jerry