Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Praising God

Dear readers,
Rain, wonderful rain! As of this writing, we had received 1.7 inches. It has been a long time since we have had meaningful moisture of any kind, and personally, I prefer rain to snow. This is an answer to many prayers over the last few months, especially in light of all the wildfires our state has experienced. I suspect there were many people out dancing in the rain. This blessing from God should be celebrated as such. May we break out in song like the psalmist.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared among all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Psalm 96:1-6.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:7-11.

Praise the Lord, praise him in the heavens, praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations. Psalm 148:1-11.

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

Renewal

Dear readers,
The big weather news these days seems to be the lack of rain in the forecast. I have heard it said we always get rain when we need it the most. I wonder how much needier we can be? As in every situation, we need to keep praying and trust the Lord to provide.

Signs of spring are appearing. The geese are pairing off, so I suppose we can expect goslings in a few weeks. Flowers are starting to break through the soil, giving hope for blossoms of daffodils and tulips. Before I know it, lawn mowing season will be here!

Springtime brings thoughts of new beginnings and new life. Think baby calves, lambs and foals that are born in this season. Renewal and regeneration are good words to ponder. Bulbs that were planted in the fall begin to send up new growth that hint at beauty that is to come in the form of fragrant blossoms.

These things are all part of God’s plan for his creation. All parts of creation testify to the goodness of God, and the human race enjoys the privilege of bearing his image. At this time of year, it seems appropriate to celebrate, and to acknowledge God’s presence and all that he has given us.

With the appearance of new life, we are reminded of the provision of eternal life through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For it is by faith we are saved, not by works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In spite of Adam’s sin, by which the creation was subjected to futility, slavery to corruption, groaning and suffering (Romans 1:18-23). “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pain until now” Romans 8:22). God’s handiwork faithfully continues to attest to his eternal power and divine nature. Though God’s image in the human race was marred due to the fall, the image is being renewed in those who are new creatures in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I will close with these words: Lord, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth and it stands firm. Your judgments stand firm today, for all things are your servants (Psalm 119: 89-91).

All praise to Him,
Pastor Jerry

Plans Change

Dear readers,
It was an interesting week; in fact, that may be an understatement. We started Wednesday with a doctor’s appointment in Norfolk, and ended up going to Omaha to see another provider. Since we thought we would be coming home from Norfolk, we ended up at Methodist Hospital in Omaha with just the clothes on our backs and stayed for three days. Without going into detail, I will just say it ended well, and I am glad to be out in the sticks, away from six-lane traffic, parking garages and elevators!

Actually, the traffic wasn’t as intimidating as I imagined, and I credit the Lord for providing room for lane changes and bringing us to our destination safely. It’s great to look back and see how he provides. In my devotional readings over those days, two passages of scripture were given to me. They both are long-time favorites of mine that have encouraged me over the years. I will share them with you.

The first is Psalm 23, a familiar psalm that is a favorite of many.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The second scripture is Psalm 62:1-2; 5-8.
1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will never be shaken.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

God With Us

Dear readers,
There was some interesting weather last week, with much property damage, yet as far as I know there were no lives lost. For this we thank God. Not related to the storms, but needing prayer are those families who have lost loved ones in the last few days. Our prayers are for God’s comfort and healing in each of those situations.

Another Christmas celebration is upon us. This week I will share the following from a booklet titled, “God’s Gift of Christmas” by Dr. John MacArthur.

“God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning defined the fundamental purpose for the Son’s coming to earth. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, or Jeshua, each of which means “Jehovah will save.” The baby Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to in the plan of God would grow up to testify to the Father’s salvation and would Himself be that salvation. By His own sacrificial death on the cross and triumphant resurrection from the grave He would save His own—all those who are drawn from sin to repentance and who receive faith to embrace His atoning work.

He would also be called Immanuel, which means, literally, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It is a promise of incarnate deity, a promise that God himself would appear as a human infant. Immanuel, God with us.” This baby who was to be born would be God Himself in human form.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into just three words, these words would be “God with us.” At Christmas we tend to focus on the infancy of Christ, but the greater truth of the holiday is his deity. He is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!

Immanuel, infinitely rich became poor. He assumed our nature, entered our sin polluted world, took our guilt on Himself although He was sinless, bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). All of that is wrapped up in “God with us.”

The immeasurable gift of Christmas is this. Christ, God’s own Son gave up all His wealth and privilege to live as God with us, that He might save His people from their sins, and that through His poverty they might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Merrie Christmas!
Pastor Jerry

Celebrate Christmas

Dear friends,
Christmas lights and other reminders of the season have appeared almost overnight. Christmas themed music has begun to be played on the radio, and much advertising is directed toward Christmas shopping. In all this, I pray we don’t lose sight of the real Reason for the season. In the world we live in, we need Jesus as much as we have ever needed Him, if not more.

If we believe the Bible, and understand that we live in a sin-stained world, our priority should be to put Jesus first. The prophet wrote, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14).

This one to be called Immanuel would be born in Bethlehem as prophesied in Malachi. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2.

The angel Gabriel announced to Mary and Joseph that the son to be born would be the Messiah, the promised Savior. To Joseph he said, “She (Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”) Matthew 1:21. To Mary, his message was,
“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32).

Paul wrote, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Jesus came to be the sacrifice that would pay the sin debt of the whole world, that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life. In Romans 6:23 it is written, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

At this time of the year, and in this Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of the Savior. It is an old, old story, but one of which we should never tire, or take for granted.

Thank God for Christmas!
Pastor Jerry

Thank God

Dear readers,

We are having one of those early copy deadlines again because of the Thursday holiday. I trust you all have/had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. What blessings have you received in the past year? Were you quick to thank the Lord for each one? Remember, we are told many times in scripture to give thanks always, and in everything. The word thanksgiving occurs 27 times in the Christian Standard Bible, and 22 times in the New International Version

Thanksgiving can be described as gratitude directed toward God, generally in response to God’s acts in history. Thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship and is to characterize all of Christian life. Concerning thanksgiving in worship, the psalmist wrote, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4).

In life, we are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Paul, writing to Timothy said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Why should we pray for those in government? He tells us in verses 3 and 4. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” We pray for the salvation of our leaders, so that they will see the truth, and begin to govern God’s way.

Did you notice in the last paragraph, that thanksgiving and prayer are connected? It is by prayer that we return thanks for God’s blessings. Also, as we give thanks and present our prayers and petitions to Him, He will in turn bless us with more to be thankful for. As a side note, how many times have you thanked God for the gift of prayer?

Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done (Psalm 105:1). Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:1)

In closing, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 16-18).

Happy Thanksgiving,

Pastor Jerry

Meeting Together

Dear friends,
We continue to swing back and forth between fall and winter. In the last week, we have seen sunshine and rain, warm and cold, windy and calm. There are few leaves remaining on the trees; yet in these extremes, there is still the beauty of God’s creation all around us.

Now and then, I will come across someone else’s observation about trends in the church today. Speaking to the issue of a lack of commitment in attending weekly church services, Thom Rainer asks the question, how did we get to the point that attending church on a once-a-month basis is normal behavior?

He gives five developments:
One, we fail to see that the local church is God’s plan A to do His mission on earth, and there is no plan B. It is clear in the New Testament from Acts 2 through Revelation 3 is all about the local church as the means of fulfilling His plan.

Two, we embrace the false notion that commitment to a local church is legalistic. If we used that argument with the family unit, we would say “Oh, your commitment to your family is too legalistic.”

Three, we have let culture dictate our schedules. If we would resist the temptation to put other activities ahead of church attendance, we would communicate to the culture what is and is not important.

Four, we have accepted strawman arguments about gathering at our local church. Have you heard either one of these arguments? “The church is not about the building, it’s the people.” Or, “The church is about sending, not attending.” The writer of Hebrews said, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another… (Hebrews 10:25).

Five, we see church as a place to be served rather than to serve. Have you ever heard church members argue about their preferences? Sure you have. Preferences about the style of music in worship. About the order of worship. About the time of services. The list goes on.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions: Am I really connected to a local church? Am I attending without excuses? Am I looking to serve? Am I willing to give up the influence of the culture to be a growing disciple in my church? How committed am I to the local body? Let’s be part of the solution.

Food for thought,
Pastor Jerry

Give Thanks

Dear readers,

We seem to have arrived at “Second Autumn.” After a short cold spell, and a few flakes of snow last week, we are experiencing some fall temperatures again. These will be counted as past blessings in the future. We didn’t let those warm days slip away without getting some outside work done. A few Christmas lights were put up, just so we weren’t doing it in the snow later. The lawn was mowed for the last time I hope, and some flower bulbs were transplanted.

As the calendar moves closer to the end of November and into December, our thoughts are drawn to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both of these holidays serve to remind us of God’s love for people, and for all of His creation. However, we must be careful to remember that neither we or the creation are to be worshiped. Worship is reserved for God alone. “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1).

Familiar verses of scripture remind us of these truths. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way. He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16”. It is this gift we celebrate at Christmas; the gift Paul calls indescribable. 2 Corinthians 9:15.

“We give thanks to you, God; we give thanks to you… people tell about your wondrous works.” Psalm 75:1.

“I will give thanks to you because you have answered me and have become my salvation.” Psalm 118:21.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves it is God’s gift.” Ephesians 2:8.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the Father of lights…” James 1:17.

“The heavens are the LORD’s, but the earth he has given to the human race” (Psalm 115:16).

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness; all the peoples see his glory” (Psalm 97:6).

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples” (Psalm 105:1).

If there is no God, as some would have us believe, to whom would we give thanks? Who is it that is worthy to receive our praise and worship and yes, all our thanks? It is God, the creator and sustainer of all life and matter. Blessed be His Name!

Simply His,

Pastor Jerry

The Solid Rock

Hello friends,
We made it home from our long weekend on Tuesday. It was a memorable time, as we reconnected with friends and neighbors from days gone by. From the pastor’s sermon, to the great meal, the music and conversation, it will be long remembered. At last report, there were about 200 in attendance. I pray God will continue to bless that congregation as they stand firm on the Word of God. They are truly a shining light in that community.

I am reminded of Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica, where he says, “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). To all the faithful little congregations out there in those out-of-the-way places, keep up the good work! God is building His kingdom through you.

In these unsettled times, it is easy for us to become discouraged. If I may, let me share some scripture.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121).

And, as the hymn says;
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.

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).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Give Praise to God

Dear friends,

The good news for this week was the nice rain we received Friday night. Our gauge showed 1.30”, although as usual, some got more and some got less. Coupled with some predicted cooler temperatures this week, it should be much more comfortable to be outdoors. The lake was busy again this week. The Burwell rodeo and the county fairs seem to draw people to the local campgrounds. I’m sure these events contribute to the local economy, and we are grateful for them.

A lot of folks here at the lake have experienced moles in their lawns for the last couple of summers. The little varmints are hard to get rid of, but I managed to catch two Friday night. I doubt they were the only ones, so I’ll keep a lookout for more activity.

We were thankful for the rain, and it reminded me that many times the Lord sends blessings and we neglect to give Him credit for providing them. It is at those moments I am reminded that many of the Psalms were written to thank and praise Him for the good things he sends our way. In fact, there are 168 verses in the Psalms that contain the word praise! In addition, there are numerous verses in the New Testament that speak of offering praise and thanks to God. I will share a few here.

“Let heaven and earth praise Him… (Psalm 69:34).

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4).

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 117:1-2).

“Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens. Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness” (Psalm 150:1-2).

James reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

In the last book of the Bible, we read of angels around the throne of God falling down on their faces, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12).

In Him,

Pastor Jerry