Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

He Is Still Lord

Wow! When I wrote last week, that we were going from frozen to flooding, I had no idea what was in store for us. Most of what I wrote then would apply to today, as well. However, with so much destruction from the flooding and the snow storm, we need to go back to the scripture for perspective. I believe God is still sovereign and He knows everything we have gone through and the things we are experiencing now.

We can look at the life of Job, and learn from his response to personal disaster. After losing his family and possessions, Job was still able to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’ (Job 1:21). Even in the middle of disaster, he could praise his Lord.

In Isaiah 43:2, we read this; “I will be with your when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.” These words were written to Israel, but can be seen as a metaphor of God’s protection and help for his people as they pass through times of difficulty.

From the Psalms we read: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1-5).

The book of Hebrews lists many people of faith who lost much, some even losing their lives for their faith in the Lord. After listing those faithful servants of the Lord, we are told, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

It has been said we should hold loosely the things of this world, then it won’t be as painful when they are taken from us. From my own perspective, I have come to believe if the Lord takes something from us, he has something better in mind. I also believe that better thing might not come in this life, but is reserved for us in heaven.

Keep looking up,
Pastor Jerry

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Responding to Adversity

What can I say about our weather? It is definitely not predictable to any level of success. It appears we will be going from frozen to flooding, if we get the rain that is forecast for the middle of this week.

Have you noticed that sometimes life gets in the way of living? Several of our friends or their family members have experienced major trials over the last several weeks. Everyone goes through these things eventually, no one is exempt from them. The Bible clearly states, in this life, there will be trouble. One thing I have noticed, is those who have a close relationship with the Lord are, in general, better able to deal with these setbacks than are those without Him. This is not to say it is easy, no trial can be said to be easy.

How we respond to adversity has much to say about our where our life is anchored. If our life is tied to “things”, we are bound to be disappointed. If our hope is in people, they will ultimately disappoint us. I could give other examples, but you get my drift. However, if our life and our hope are anchored in Jesus
Christ, there is nothing in the world that can move us.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

These words from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, have been an encouragement to me. I pray they will encourage you, also.

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).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Good New Year

Dear friends,
Ready or not, 2019 is knocking at the door. As we contemplate the new year, one thing I have noticed, is there are always a few people who say that the previous year was bad, and they are hoping the upcoming year will be better. I have always considered myself somewhat of an optimist. Some would call me a dreamer, and they would be entitled to their opinion. But to me, being positive is more productive than looking at the negative.

In thinking about the good year/bad year question, I wonder how we should describe a bad year, as opposed to a good year? Do we dwell on the bad things that happened, or do we look for some good in that experience? If 2018 has been a “bad” year for you, what would make 2019 a “good” year. We plan for what we would like to happen, but ultimately God is in charge of the future.

When we lost everything in the agricultural depression of the eighties, it was a bad experience at the time, but we learned valuable lessons that helped us immensely in the years that followed. In the bigger picture, it brought about positive results.

Of course, bad things happen in our lives, but to label a whole year as bad is probably an overstatement. If we would step back and look at the previous 365 days, I suspect the good days will outnumber the bad. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, insisted that for believers, those who love God, and are called according to his purpose, all things work for good in some way. (Romans 8:28).

We may certainly use those trials in our lives to give testimony to God’s faithfulness in each and every situation. We can focus on the negative, or we can turn a bad experience into a good one. For the Christian, every situation, whether seen as good or not, can be used to give glory and praise to God.

Here is a verse from the Bible that may be helpful. In the Old Testament, Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, had this to say to them; “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” (Genesis 50:20). Who can say God isn’t doing the same today?

Moving on,
Pastor Jerry

The Season Begins

Hello friends,
Already it is December. Soon we’ll be trying to learn a new number to write on our checks, that is if anyone writes checks anymore. Here at our place we have experienced our second winter storm of the season, and winter hasn’t officially arrived. We are well protected from the wind here, so I doubt we had as much drifting as in other places. Also, I think the total snowfall here was less than forecast, and I’m okay with that.

It is the season of Advent for the Christian church. We celebrate the first coming of our Lord, and look forward to his promised return. As I observe people, it seems most don’t understand the significance of Christmas, let alone any thought of Christ returning again. There are colored lights and evergreen trees with all kinds of decorations, including a herald angel at the top. Presents under the tree, and displays of shepherds and wise men meeting at the nativity with gifts for baby Jesus.

But, may I suggest that if you asked most people to explain the meaning of Christmas, they would probably be hard pressed to give a clear presentation of the reason for the season. Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin, he lives in the hearts of those who believe, and he is coming again at some future time.

Here is the problem, as I see it. Most have a pretty good grasp on the idea of Jesus’ first coming, and will understand that he was raised from the dead, and is in heaven with the Father. The downside is they live as though he is ‘out there’ somewhere, while failing to understand his presence in the world. Their lives are lived no different from those who claim no knowledge of Jesus or God.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, his disciples were told, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

I found this appropriate quote from William Barclay, a Scottish theologian: “The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ.”

Waiting for His appearing,
Pastor Jerry

Give Thanks Daily

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the time of year to give thanks for all our blessings. It is no coincidence, I believe, that the holiday coincides with the end of harvest. If we can’t count our blessing during this time of the year, when can we? In spite of the fact the Bible encourages thankfulness from God’s people, over the years I have noted that it seems easier to go to the Lord with a list of wants, instead of thanking him for blessings received.

Things we are thankful for in our house this week: Friends and family. A great place to live and enjoy our retirement. Our church family. God’s creation. Each new day. Good health, and the list goes on…

Speaking of the need to give thanks, here are some Old Testament commands of God to his people:
1 Chronicles 16:8… Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Also, verse 34… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

In 1 Chronicles 23:30; in a description of the duties of the Levites serving in the temple, we read: They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Then there is the witness of his people: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high” (Psalm 7:17). “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Let’s not just be thankful at Thanksgiving; may we start and end every day with an attitude of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Praising Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Lord is God

On a personal note, I celebrated another birthday last week. I find those milestones pass much quieter than when we were younger. I am grateful to God for His goodness and grace in allowing me another year.

We have had more crazy Nebraska weather. I know it is purely a reminder that we are in that changing of the seasons, but we have had several extremes this past week. It was pretty cool for a couple of days, then we had a day that the temperature made it almost to ninety, followed by a rainy day that only made it to the mid-forties! Oh, and don’t forget the wind. And now some food for thought.

I have noticed the tendency to fail to capitalize the word God, when folks post prayer requests or praise items on social media. I wonder, is this a sign of our secular or post-Christian era, that people don’t have a concept of the only true God, or have we just become lazy in our use of spelling and grammar? Another possibility is that we are just not reading the Bible, and have no instruction in who He is. There is actually a serious lack of Bible literacy today. Here is an observation from a man who is heavily invested in ministering to high-school students: “Never before have we encountered so many high schoolers who have never read the Bible, and much worse, who simply do not even own a Bible.”

New age philosophy and secular thinking promotes the idea of many ‘gods’, or that we are all equal to God in some way. In those media posts, one wonders what god the writer is calling on, or giving thanks to? The first of the Ten Commandments reads this way: You shall have no other gods before (besides) .Me. (Exodus 20:3). God is deserving of our worship. There is no other. I believe He will get His deserved respect from everyone in du time.

From Romans 14:10-12… “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As sure as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; and every tongue will confess to God.’
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

Simply put, “Fear God and keep His commandments…” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

Serious Worship

The weather is cooler as I write this on Friday, and the wind has switched to a northerly direction. We were visited by three humming birds this week. It is fascinating to watch them as they jockey for positions at the feeder. I am amazed that such a little bird can find our meager offering of sugar water in this big world. What a testimony to God’s design for His creation!

If you spent much time in church in an earlier age, you were most certainly admonished by your parents to be quiet. This is not the trend we see today. As church buildings became more multi-purpose in design, there was a movement away from the idea of preparing for worship as you entered the building. Maybe it was due to the lack of those traditional fixtures, such as pictures of biblical events and other items that set a place of worship apart.

I would not say today’s more informal worship gatherings are wrong, nor are they even unbiblical. If one spends any time researching worship in the Old Testament, you would find references to shouting, singing, dancing, and musical instruments, along with reading and proclaiming the Word of the Lord. In the New Testament, we also see explicit and implicit references to celebration in worship.

True worship, I believe, demands that we are to have a sense of awe as we stand in the presence of Holy God, but there is room for joy and laughter, along with the fellowship of like-minded brothers and sisters in the Lord.

As a pastor said last week as he prepared to deliver his message, “We have had a little fun and some light-hearted conversation, but it is time to be serious and listen to what God has to say through the preaching of His Word.”

I am a ‘fan’ of traditional worship, with its hymns and other traditions, but I am not going to say it is the only way. I have seen the younger generations worship, and I am convinced they are as committed to giving glory to God as any of us ‘older’ people. You see, it is all about the heart and our relationship with God and his Son Jesus Christ. If your heart is right, and the gospel of salvation by faith in Christ is preached, worship is what God intended.

To His glory,
Pastor Jerry