Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

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

Creation Speaks

Dear friends,
March has arrived, and spring will be coming soon. After a long cold spell, it felt good when the high temperatures began to be in the twenties. This week appears to be heading into the sixties for highs, I hope we can adjust! I won’t put away the winter clothes yet, I have seen too many springs to believe the winter weather is completely behind us.

We were blessed by the appearance of some trumpeter swans on the lake last week. Deer have been plentiful, as they seem drawn to lawns that are still green under the snow. I love seeing the variety of wildlife that lives here. Creation is an amazing thing, and I never get tired of seeing what God has made for our enjoyment. As our world seems bent on creating chaos, it is settling to the mind and spirit to reflect on the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.

It seems appropriate here to share the words of Psalm 19:
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. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I can only say, AMEN!
Pastor Jerry

A Picture of Purity

Dear friends,
Warmer weather has finally returned. I trust everyone is enjoying it. Official spring is coming up soon, I can hardly wait!

There have been a few fishermen here at the lake. I guess there are still some hardy souls that aren’t afraid to venture out in the cold. I do realize that a heated hut might make it more attractive than sitting on a bucket out in the elements. That is how we did it in the ‘old’ days.

In spite of the extreme cold and snow, the Creation shows God’s glory through its beauty. If we can overlook the cold and the inconvenience, we can appreciate the picture of purity and serenity the snow brings.

The new fallen snow reminds me of the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus, and the sacrifice he made for the forgiveness of our sin. Scripture reminds us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness for sin. Salvation comes through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Before we observed the Lord’s Supper in church Sunday morning, we sang the hymn ‘Nothing but the Blood’. What great words of hope and encouragement the hymn has for a forgiven sinner.
“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow,
no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Scripture is clear; there is no other way to fellowship with God than placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Jesus himself, in his last words from the cross said, “It is finished.” There was nothing else to be done for the salvation of lost sinners. Christ paid the debt of every sinner for all time. His invitation to every person is “come.”

Nothing but the blood, Jesus has paid it all. It isn’t Jesus plus anything. Christ alone can save. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Our Rock and Salvation

Hello friends,
Winter has returned to the area. This means snow and more snow, with very cold temperatures. For most of you this is not news; for the rest, enjoy the weather you are experiencing. Monday morning, I will be taking our alley cat to the vet for some surgery. This is the cat who adopted us last summer. She had kittens in our carport, and she wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told her to take them elsewhere. The kittens are gone, and now she has taken up residence in the house. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After last week’s column, I had several well-meaning, and encouraging suggestions for continuing to share my thoughts with you. I will keep writing, as long as the Lord gives me the strength and inspiration to do so. Thanks to all who take the time to read these articles each week.

The cultural and political landscape continues to be of concern for God’s people. There is much that gives us cause to wonder what next? Rather than allow all that to negatively affect our view of the current time, along with worrying what the future might bring, we need to focus on the Lord. There are two Psalms that have encouraged me through difficult times in the past. I would like to share parts of them with you this week.

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.
Find rest, O my soul, In God alone; my hope comes from him
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7).

I will extoll the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:1-6).

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Visible Proof

Hello friends,

As we begin a new week, I can tell you I have had a six-month checkup of my aorta repair. Doc said to come back in a year. Praise the Lord for gifted doctors, and for healing.

Weather update… The yo-yo effect continues as we move from one weather extreme to another. How about blizzards and prairie fires in the same week? Have you noticed the daylight hours are lengthening? It’s encouraging to think that longer days and shorter nights are just ahead.

We are blessed to live where we do. The sunrises and sunsets I believe, are unequaled anywhere in the world. Every day we are shown God’s glory in creation. I would add this; no matter where you may live, the Creation testifies to the existence of the Creator. As the scripture would indicate, mankind has no excuse for not knowing God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen… so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

If anyone has difficulty grasping the evidence of a Creator God, I suggest reading the following verses, and spend time taking in the beauty of this world. God is not hiding from us.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” Psalm 8:1.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1.

“The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of holy ones.” Psalm 89:5.

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.” Psalm 97:6.

“Be exalted, O God, above all the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.” Psalm 108:5

“The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.” Psalm 113:4.

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” Psalm 148:3

Having read those preceding verses, our proper response will be to praise Him, as is done in the following:

“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… Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:1-2, 6).

Praise the Lord,

Pastor Jerry

In His Image

Dear friends,
The camper has been winterized, and there will be no camping adventures to report until spring. The nice weather of the past few days is being replaced with much cooler temps. Up to an inch of snow was forecast for Saturday night, but we arose to a good four inches Sunday morning. If the snow forecast misses like this all winter, it might get deep!

The first snow has a way of accenting the beauty of God’s creation. Those who claim to dislike snow seem to appreciate its artistry. It is just one more way that the creation proclaims the glory of God. I really believe we could make this a better world if we would see more of the beauty, not only in nature, but in other people. After all, the Bible tells us that man was created in the image of God.

Ugliness is certainly part of a fallen world, but if all of us would make an effort, perhaps we could reclaim some of what has been corrupted by sin. Obviously, this world cannot be restored to its original state by human effort; however, if each individual would show a bit of compassion and empathy toward all of God’s creation, it could be improved.

We can begin by getting to know God better. A large part of the problem is that people do not know God. How can we appreciate creation, if we don’t first get to know the Creator? Romans 1:20 tells us there is ample evidence of God’s existence: “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. For those who fail to see Him in creation, he has also provided his written word, the Bible. We only get to know someone if we spend time with them. Open his word, and learn who He is.

God loves his creation, and proved it by sending his Son to die for the sins of all people. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

In His service,
Pastor Jerry