Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

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

The Lord Provides

Dear friends,
Our first camping adventure of the season is in the books. We took a different route than usual, due to someone’s refusal to heed good advice. We arrived at our destination anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. The campsites were muddy from recent rain, and I have renewed appreciation for my beloved Sandhills. On the return trip, a tire blew out on the camper about ten miles from home. With some assistance from a friend the tire was changed and it ended well.

The past few days we have experienced much warmer temperatures; some might say hot. With the southerly winds at play, we will soon be needing rain. I am glad the Lord is in charge of those things, and we can depend on Him to provide for us. The Scriptures give ample evidence of His sovereignty over all things in nature.

“How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hand with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach” (Job 36:26-33).

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. (Psalm 147:7-9)

“He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:10-14).

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry

Creation Speaks… Listen

Dear friends,
Another week has flown by, and it is already May. The weather continues to be variable, moving between hot and cool, calm and windy, dry and damp. In the midst of all this flowers are blooming, as are the ornamental trees and wild plums. And, we are seeing pairs of geese with their newly hatched goslings.

I’m reminded of these verses from the Psalms; “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 grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call” (Psalm 147:7-9).

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1-3).

There are many people in our world today who do not know God. It has always been so, but it seems those who will not acknowledge him are more antagonistic toward any talk of a righteous and just God. I believe the scriptures speak of this, and have warned us about times such as these. The evidence of a Creator is everywhere, but they refuse to believe their eyes.

I return to the book of Romans and read this; “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

The psalmist has written;
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one (Psalm 14:1-3).

I pray they see the truth, and come to Christ.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Amazing Grace

Dear friends,
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon as I write this. The past week was rather cool with some rain. Our forecast is for cool temperatures early in the week, followed by a warming trend. I expect we’ll see more evidence of spring in the days to come. We have both been staying home nursing colds, but we are steadily improving and should return to normal soon. Once again I find, we too often take good health for granted.

This week brings two very important days in the Christian church calendar; Good Friday and Resurrection Day (Easter). Good Friday commemorates the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Resurrection celebrates his rising from the tomb. These two events are the basis of our hope in eternal salvation. The Bible clearly states there is no other way to be saved from our sins but by placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I write on this topic often, because to me this is the most important decision a person can make in life. In my own experience, the day I chose to follow Jesus my life was changed in ways I could not have imagined before. So, to this day, like the old song says, “I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love.”

I was cruising along through life, thinking I was doing pretty good, taking my wife and two boys to church on Sunday. Then one day as the pastor was preaching from Romans chapter ten, I heard these words: That 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” (Romans 10:9). This was an eye opener for me! Up to this point, I thought I just had to be a little better person than someone else. Now I was learning that my own self-righteousness was worthless in God’s eyes.

Later, I heard these words; For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

A dear friend passed away this week, and we rejoice that he is now in heaven, because he believed what these verses taught. Amazing grace, how sweet it sounds!

Anchored in Him,
Pastor Jerry