Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Songs of the Season

Hello friends,
We got a break from the cold weather this week. This gave holiday travelers something else to be thankful for. Part of my week was taken up with installing a garage door opener. It was something of a challenge, due to some sketchy instructions and my inability to read between the lines of said instructions. After an email to customer service, and some good guess work, we can now open the door without getting out of the vehicle.

The radio stations have begun playing Christmas music, and oh how we need to hear the message of Christmas today! As we remember the coming of Jesus to earth, the season of advent, we are reminded anew of the promises of God regarding a Savior.

When I speak of Christmas music, I’m not thinking of Frosty, Rudolph, or Baby It’s Cold Outside. I am instead thinking of Hark the Herald Angels, O, Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night; songs with the real message of Christmas. Songs of hope and of the One who came to die for us, in order that we might be saved from the penalty of sin. This is Christmas.

How could we ever tire of hearing and singing of the advent of our Savior? How could we tire of the message of salvation through faith in His finished work on the cross? Read with me a part of the Christmas story.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She 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 1:18-21).

Finally, in John 3:17 we read this: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Giving Thanks

Dear readers,
As I write this week’s article, it is sunny outside, but it certainly isn’t warm. We appear to be in for a cold spell, with little to no chance of moisture. The lake community continues to prepare for the second annual Trail of Lights. Reports are that the display will be bigger and better than last year. More info is available on the Lake Ericson Facebook page.

The Thanksgiving holiday is this Thursday. Some days it is hard to find things to be thankful for, but we can always be thankful for a good night’s sleep, and for a new day’s dawning. I sometimes wonder who do you thank if you don’t acknowledge God? If you don’t believe there is a God who is our provider, do you thank the government, or some good luck charm? Maybe you thank your lucky stars? How do you know which stars are lucky? Do four leafed clovers bring happiness or contentment to life?

From a biblical perspective, all we have comes from God Almighty. He is the creator and sustainer of the universe. Nothing exists that wasn’t put here by God, according to His perfect plan. It is He to whom we give thanks for every good and perfect gift. “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 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 1:16-17).

The prophet Isaiah reminds us to “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world (Isaiah 12:4-5).

Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul writes, “He 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” (Colossians 1:15-16). Yes, even the government was created and put in place by the Creator God.

As the old familiar doxology says;
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above the heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Jerry

Faith and Trust

Dear friends,

The Labor Day weekend is winding down. A good number of people enjoyed life at the lake over the past few days, and from all indications they had an enjoyable time. It will seem rather quiet here in the neighborhood come Tuesday morning.

I would like to share some thoughts on trusting God in every aspect of our lives. As believers in the Lord Jesus our desire should be to live life by faith. We should be content with what he provides, not envying the possessions or lifestyles of others.

Do we look at a person who does not know the Lord, yet has material wealth in abundance and wish we had what he has? Instead, we should have sympathy for that person, knowing that all his possessions are of no value in light of eternity. When we covet these things, we are in essence saying that we don’t trust God to take care of us. Trust involves letting Him take complete control of our lives—this includes our thoughts, actions and possessions, including bank accounts and our souls—everything.

We are to trust God without reservation. This sounds like a lofty goal, but in His word, He tells us it can be done. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important that food, and the body more important that clothes” (Matthew 6:25)?

Trusting the Lord involves following His commands and letting Him have control. How is your trust level? Can you take time for Him in your busy times? How about letting Him take care of those cows while you attend Sunday worship or take off work early for mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting?

God says he will supply all our needs; does this not mean our time as well as our physical and spiritual needs? Are you trusting Him with the care of a prodigal child or the loved one with an incurable disease? Most importantly, have you trusted Him for your salvation, or are you trying to get to heaven on the merit of your own good works?

Remember, salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the way, the only way.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Consistency

Dear readers,
We have arrived at the end of another month. Next week is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. Football and volleyball seasons have begun, and schools are in session. We are still in need of rain, and continue to ask the Lord to provide. We ask, knowing that he is faithful to answer our prayers in his perfect timing.

Church attendance wanes in the summer. This is a proven fact, and there are many reasons given, but if we were truthful, I think we would have to admit to a degree of complacency. Scripture tells us the early church met daily for fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:4-7). The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And 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 10:23-25).

These are Jesus’ words concerning the faithful servant; “His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23)!

Today, it seems hard for the people of God to meet together for one hour on Sunday morning. What follows here are some thoughts I copied down many years ago, and I believe they are worth repeating.

Reflections on being a faithful Christian: If your car starts one time out of three, do you consider it reliable? If the paper carrier skips the Monday and Thursday editions, would they be missed? If you fail to come to work two or three times a month, would your boss call you a faithful worker? If your refrigerator quits for a day now and then, do you excuse it and say, “But it works most of the time?” If your water heater greets you with cold water one or two mornings a week, would you understand? If you miss a couple of mortgage payments in a year’s time, would your banker say, “Oh, well, ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?

If we are not consistent in attending corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, can we call ourselves faithful Christians?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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