Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Don’t Give Up


It has been three months since my coronary bypass surgery, and I am doing very well, at least from my vantage point. I have certainly noticed a difference in the way I feel.

Weather-wise, in our area, and in others parts of the state, winter-like conditions have reappeared. Cold winds and a couple of nights of frost or freezing temps have us longing for much warmer days and nights. We ventured out Friday for an appointment and to get a few groceries, drove through a fast food place, picked up lunch and came back home. Not much of an adventure, but at least we got out of the house for a few hours.

As I was thinking about my unfinished cardiac rehab, I was reminded of a conversation with my rehab nurse. She commented that without persistence, rehabilitation would not result in a stronger heart muscle and better circulation. I replied, church attendance is like that, as well as Bible reading, and Bible study.

If we, as Christians, start to be negligent in church attendance, reading our Bibles, and studying God’s word, we get weak and ineffective in our walk and in our witness. We know from Hebrews 10:24-25, that meeting together is important for our spiritual well-being. As we study the Scriptures, we learn to discern truth from error. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But His delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

Meditating on God’s word brings many benefits. Some of those are listed in Psalm 119; “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long… How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!… I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (verses 97, 103-105).

These are Paul’s instructions to Timothy; Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Church in Our Time

Dear friends,
Another week has gone by. We are still staying home most of the time. There was a trip to the grocery store and the pharmacy last Wednesday, but otherwise we were home doing yard work, etc. There is an advantage to living where we do; it is not hard to practice social distancing.

Our church family will decide this week how we might transition back to corporate worship at the church property. We may begin by meeting outdoors for a few Sundays, weather permitting. Time will tell. The Zoom app has been good, but there is no substitute for being there in person.

The Bible tell us the first century Christians met together in each other’s homes, and I suppose in other small group settings. They had no “church” building, nor did they hold title to any property on which to erect a building. From Acts, chapter two, we read; They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (verses 42-47).

We may be unable to meet in person due to the pandemic of Covid19, but thanks to the current technology, we can have virtual fellowship in a way that the first Christians could not have imagined. Instead of feeling deprived, perhaps we should count our many blessings.

Even with the inconveniences we are experiencing in our current situation, we should take a lesson from the apostle Paul, who wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Then, this from Paul, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, … I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (verses 11-13).

We may have some inconvenience, but it’s nothing God can’t get us through.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,
Pastor Jerry

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

Jesus is Lord

Hello friends,
The weather is in the news again. We reached 70+ degrees one day last week, then were greeted with snow and wind on Easter Sunday. Spring is out there somewhere, I am sure. The other big news item remains the Covid-19 virus. Lord willing, we will get past this pandemic and begin a return to life as we would want it to be.

On one of those nice days last week, I decided it was a good day to wash the windows on our sun porch. While gathering a bucket and some tools from the garage, I tripped and experienced one of those slow motion falls. You know what I mean; you know you are going down, but have a little time to plan your landing. After it was over, I had only a scuff mark and bruise above my left knee, and a little laceration on one finger. I was truly thanking the Lord it wasn’t worse. After the windows were clean, it all seemed worthwhile.

On Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For most of us, it was an Easter unlike any we had ever seen. In our church, we met through Zoom. It was a small group of people, but we were able to read and study the pertinent Bible passages, and listen to the preaching of our pastor. We saw each other’s faces, but missing was the personal interaction, the handshakes, and hugs.

In and through all this, here is the important thing to remember; in the midst of all the insecurity and all the unknowns of the day, Jesus Christ is Lord! He has a handle on all the things that are going on in the world. He has defeated death, sin, and the devil and he proved it on the day He rose from the tomb.

Read the following passages with me: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15). For more, read the whole chapter.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

It Is Well

Hello friends,
I trust this finds everyone well. We are well, although occasionally we get on each other’s nerves a bit. We are all going down a path we’ve never been on, but we have hope this isn’t going to be forever. Still, I have to remind myself to be patient in this. At least we don’t have to entertain small children, as some of you are doing. If that is your situation, hang in there!

As we wait for a return to normal times, I’m reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. He was writing from prison, and wanted the church to be united in its purpose and to let the focus be on the Lord Jesus. The following verses are not necessarily applicable to our current situation, but there are lessons here for us.

To the church, Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…”

Concerning his own situation, he rejoices in the support of the believers, then says this: “I am not saying this because I am in need, 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 in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Finally, he writes these words to the faithful believers, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:4-19).

As we are encouraged by Paul’s word, consider the words of the old hymn;
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And as the prophet said, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:18).

In His loving care,
Pastor Jerry

Be Encouraged

Hello friends,
Another week has passed. We are experiencing typical March weather. It is a time of transition, and nature seems unable to decide. I am sure from past springs, that this will eventually bring about green grass and flowers if we are patient.

The Covid19 saga continues this week. Most of my pastor friends addressed the Christian response to this in their Sunday sermons. Thank God that we have the means to connect through technology, so that churches can meet in spirit, if not in person.

If you spend much time with social media, you will certainly be discouraged. My answer to this confusion is to go to the Word of God for truth and encouragement.

First of all, let us not forget that God is on His throne, He is still in control. “In the beginning God”, is how the Bible story begins. Read Genesis 1:1. In Colossians we are told that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).

You may be asking; did God create this virus? Scripture tells us because of Adam’s sin in the garden, the creation has been corrupted. “To Adam, God said, “cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18). This virus, along with all other plagues and pestilence, and natural disasters is evidence of this curse. Someday God will make it all right.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:4-5).

The Bible describes a time when God will bring a new heaven and earth; “No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3ff).

Be encouraged, God’s people have hope.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Worship Together

Hello friends,
Here we are at the beginning of another week! Just a short update on my recovery: It is going well. Last night, I slept in my own little bed all night, instead of in the recliner. There will be a visit with my cardiologist on Wednesday, at which time I expect to receive rehab orders. A week after that, I will be cleared to drive, and then in another week, I will see the heart surgeon for a checkup. I don’t want to make this a huge deal, but people also want to know. I can see the hand of God in every aspect of this portion of the journey. He is with me in this, as He has been in all my life.

It was good to be back in church Sunday morning. There is no better place than in fellowship with other Christians, as we worship and study the Word. These days, we can access any number of church services by way of podcasts, live streaming, television broadcasts, and other media tools. There are those who say they can worship God at the lake, sitting on their deck, out in nature (there’s one I used before I knew Jesus). However, the Bible is rather specific about meeting together in a worship setting. One only has to read a few verses into the book of Acts, before it is clear that there were no Lone Ranger Christians in the early days.

After Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given, Peter preached and many came to faith in Christ. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship and to the breaking of bread and prayer.” Further, we read, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and age together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:42-43; 46.)

The writer of Hebrews spells it out in everyday cowboy language. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Meeting together, not texting altogether.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

The Creative Creator

Hello friends,
Last week, I told you of my planned heart bypass surgery. I can now report the surgery went well, and I am at home recovering. I have no rehab schedule presently, but somewhere, someone is preparing a plan. I now know much more about the process than I might have wanted to know. Word like saws, titanium plate, tiny screwdriver, screws… you get the idea. There were tubes and all kinds of wires and assorted monitors.

As I heal, I have been thinking about the wonder of the bodies God has given us. I met a man while in the hospital who claimed to be an agnostic. As I understand it, an agnostic will claim it is impossible to know God, and an atheist denies the existence of God, or even of a supreme intelligent being. My question at this point is, how then do you explain the complexity of the human body? How can you not see the hand of God in creating his own?

Oh, some will say it is the result of some random accident through which life began, or that some primitive life form ‘evolved’ to a human being. I for one, am glad for a Creator God, who not only designed mankind in His image, but that he equipped some to perform amazing procedures and others to help us on our way to recovery. In the last week, I have experienced some wonderful medical progress, and met some amazing individuals. From the doctors, ICU staff, nurses, CNAs, to housekeeping and nutritional staff. You are all special people!

Jesus is called the Great Physician and Healer, but he has some very talented individuals involved in the process. Thank you, also, for prayers for me this past week, I know they had much to with my speedy recovery from the immediate effects of the surgery and my eventual dismissal from the hospital in record time. God is King, and He is still on His throne. Praise Him daily!

It is not always God’s will for healing, but we should not fail to always pray. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)

Praising His goodness,
Pastor Jerry

Trusting Him

Dear friends,
My computer lost several of your email addresses last week, so if you did not receive the weekly newsletter, I apologize. I discovered this after sending out last week’s article. I have since restored those and they are in a separate file, in case it happens again. If you fail to receive the emails, they are always available on Facebook and at sandhillspastor.com.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned having some medical tests. The results are in, and I will be having what is called CABG, better known as bypass surgery. After having a heart cath last Tuesday, my cardiologist said stents were not an option. This procedure will take place Monday, February 10. Prayers will be appreciated. I hesitate to share the following, but you who read these weekly messages are like family to me, so here goes…

In all the testing, which included much poking, prodding, ultra-sounding, CT scanning, etc., I have been given a new appreciation for Psalm 139:13-14; “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” I have gotten a glimpse into the wonder of God’s creation, and it is a wonderful thing.

I am also thankful He has equipped other wonderfully created persons to repair our wonderfully created bodies as needed. I have complete trust in my doctors, but most importantly, I have complete faith and trust in the One who saved me through His Son Jesus Christ.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him
He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

That’s all for this week. God willing, I will be back next week. Until then I am…

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Going Up?

Hello friends,
I have been enjoying my visits to other churches, meeting new friends, and preaching God’s word. I find it amusing that not having taken speech class in high school, I have spent so many years speaking to groups of people on a weekly basis. One more proof that God equips those he calls to His work.

When attending our denomination’s annual meeting last month, we stayed in a two story hotel. As I age, I am less inclined to use stairs (that sounds strange). Anyway, since two of us had second floor rooms, we rode the elevator instead of using the stairs. On one of our elevator rides, I commented that it might be a preview of the rapture. My friend said, “I am sure it will be faster than this.”

The word rapture is not found in the Bible, but it refers to the return of the Lord Jesus in the air to gather his church. 1 Corinthians 15:52; “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (or died). For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Our hope, that is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead assures us of our place in heaven. The apostle Peter puts it this way; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry