The Call: Part Two

The great fall weather continues. I don’t really remember seeing the colors as bright as they are this year. Every day the sunrise is more beautiful than the day before. I hesitate to post to many photos of our morning view, for fear you will be bored by them. A friend of mine wrote this week that God must be a Nebraskan, for all the beauty He has given us. Amen!

Now, on to our devotional thought for the week: As we saw last time, God calls us to salvation. That call is followed by God’s call to serve Him. Without answering the call to salvation, there can be no call to serve.

There are many ways to serve God. I suppose the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when I speak of serving the Lord, would be missionaries, or pastors. However, these are not the only ways Christians can serve the Lord. Here are several more:

Testimony… Live lives worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1)
Fellowship… Do not forsake meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25).
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
Meeting the needs of people. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you will; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it” (James 2:15-16)?

Service to the Lord shows in many ways, but the object of all service is to bring him praise and glory, along with introducing lost people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are not called to warm the church pews for one hour a week, then go silently back into the world. Every believer is to be obedient to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, …and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“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. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Go into all the world. Go and tell. Your salvation is shown by your obedience to God’s commands.

His Words,
Pastor Jerry

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The Call: Part One

Cool fall temperatures have arrived. The last few mornings have been reminders of winter’s reality. I have seen significant snowfall in early to mid-October before, but I hope it is a little longer before we seen any of the white stuff.

In these troubled times, one wonders how to respond to what is going on around us. May I suggest that these events are part of God’s plan, and that it may be that their purpose is to make us think about our future. It could be God is calling us to make a choice.

If you believe God exists, and I do; then believe that he calls people in two ways. First, to be saved from the penalty of sin. His second call is to a life of service. Today we will look at this first call God makes on a person’s life.

Jesus said this; “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

The prophet Joel spoke these words, repeated by Peter; “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:15). When asked by the crowd at Pentecost what they should do, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Peter, again, when called before the religious leaders, said of Jesus Christ: “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).

These are Jesus’ words in John 14:6; “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

We read this in Romans 10:9-13; 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… Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame… the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In all these verses, the Lord is calling you to salvation. Have you answered his call? If not, then why not today?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

God is Lord of All

Here are some early October observations: Nebraska scenery is unbeatable. We left Valentine last Sunday afternoon, drove to Keller Park WMA, and spent 2 nights. What a great place to get away. Here at Lake Ericson, it is definitely autumn. The leaves are falling, the nights are cooler, and the view is spectacular. I can’t think of any place I would rather be. On those days the world seems to be spinning out of control, there is everything to be said for living in America’s heartland.

In a totally different thought line, as I scroll through the posts on Face Book, I am seeing a number of articles promoting the consulting of mediums, and various other superstitions. I thought it might be beneficial to see what the Bible says about such things. Exactly what does the Bible say about these?

Let’s start with this: “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). Our God wants first place in our lives. He is in control of the events of our lives. No angel, or any other created thing, including mediums, fortune tellers, etc., can take his place.

To Israel, he said, “Let no one be found among you… who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or cast spells, or who is a medium or spiritists or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

We are cautioned against putting angels in the place of God. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ… Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things… Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize” (Colossians 2:1-2; 18).

The apostle Paul stressed the fact that God has made himself known to man (Romans 1:20). Then this indictment; speaking of those who deny Him. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and reptiles” (verses 22-23). Included in the list of the acts of the sinful nature are these: Idolatry and witchcraft (Galatians 5:19).

I know, many of the things mentioned seem harmless, but let us be sure we are not putting the ungodly in place of God.

Food for thought,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts From the Sandhills

Dear friends,
We have taken a few days to get away and see some different scenery.

Our weekend was spent in Valentine at Old West Days. We heard some great music, some original cowboy poetry and some really funny stories; all part of the efforts of a few people committed to preserving our western heritage.

As we drove to Valentine Thursday afternoon, we came to a spot in the road that brought back a memory from 53 years ago as plain as yesterday. It was the day before our wedding. My fiancé, her bridesmaids, and I were on a mission to pick up a couple of dresses. At that particular spot on the highway, at about 85 mph, we encountered water on the highway, and the old ’58 Ford four door hydroplaned. We stayed on the road while fishtailing from one side of the road to the other. No one was injured, only scared half to death. The wedding took place the next day, and I have never forgotten that spot.

Friday afternoon, we took a side trip to Merritt reservoir, just to look around and try to find the places we camped, back when our boys were small. A lot has changed there in the intervening years, but we found familiar places nonetheless.

Saturday morning, I participated in a Christian Leadership Conference. I had to leave early, but was able to connect briefly with long-time friends and Christian leaders from all over our beloved Sandhills. The purpose of this training is to equip believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. The Sandhills of Nebraska has been called, ‘God’s Own Cow Country’, but I fear we have left Him out of our conversation far too long.

There is much talk in Christian circles about foreign missions, but I am and always will be convinced, there is a huge mission field right here in our corner of the world. There a thousands of good people living here, who do not have a real, personal relationship with Christ.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them” (Romans 10:13-14)?

Pray,
Pastor Jerry

Home

Hello friends,
It’s raining as I write this. The rain gauge reads 1.80 inches at this moment, and more is forecast.

Yesterday, Sunday, we made the trip back to our old country church. It was a great day of catching up with old friends, and enjoying worshiping together again. It has been said you can’t go home, but I think you can go back for a visit now and then.

Speaking of home, as I look at the craziness in the world around us, I have to remind myself, as a Christian, that this is not my home. The scripture tells us our home is in heaven, and we are just strangers in a foreign land. In my song book, there are a number of songs that speak to this. You may recognize some of these titles: This World is Not My Home, Gone Home, Do Lord (I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land), just to name a very few.

The apostle Peter wrote to God’s elect, strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1). In chapter 2, verse 11, he refers to believers as ‘aliens and strangers in the world’. The then speaks of another home… “But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

In Hebrews, we read of those Old Testament saints; “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth… Instead they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

And that familiar passage in John’s gospel, as Jesus speaks to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

So, don’t be discouraged with what you see and hear these days. This is temporary. There is a better home ‘up yonder’. Invite Jesus into your heart today, and look forward to your Mansion Over the Hilltop.

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
Time marches on. I was looking at the paper calendar recently, and noticed how few pages are left before the end of the year. It is hard to see those pages on a smart phone.

The leaves on the trees are beginning to get their fall colors, the sumac foliage is turning bright red, and fall wildflowers are blooming profusely. Hunting seasons are opening up. According to the calendar, Autumn begins the 22nd of September, so it is at hand.

We are to tell people everywhere the story of Jesus, his gospel, and God’s saving grace. How are we doing? How many of us are “secret service” Christians? I have heard a quote attributed to a specific person that says, “Preach the Gospel always, use words if you have to.” May I submit that above all, we must use words.

Some would say our life is our witness, but there are lot of people who live a good life, but who are going to hell because they have not acknowledged Christ as Savior and Lord.

The Bible is specific; we are saved through the hearing of the word. This is a lengthy passage, but of vital importance to the issue of salvation: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?… Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13-17).

Jesus did not say go into all the world, and live good lives. In his Great Commission, he told his disciples to go and make disciples; baptizing them, and teaching them to obey his commandments. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” How do we teach and preach? With words.

If you are saved, you have a story. Stories are for telling and for hearing. The gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ is for sharing. Share your testimony, both in words and in deeds.

Pressing on,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Comforting Presence

We all know summer will end at some point. Wednesday morning, the temperature here was in the low 40’s. This is more than a subtle reminder; it might be seen more as a wake-up call.

The news lately has been much about fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. What is a person to think?

First of all, God allows these things to happen. Not for judgment, as some would have us to believe, but because of Adam and Eve sinning, i.e., disobeying God, creation is broken. Therefore, these calamities happen to all people at one time or another. As we see these things happening, we should be in prayer for those affected. Next time, we might be the one ‘standing in the need of prayer’, as the old song says.

As many of you know, our little dog has been deaf since we got her, and lately she has become blind. In spite of these things, we still communicate with her, mostly by touch. Except, at mealtime, when her sense of smell plays a large part. Along with what I might call side-effects of these things, she seems to be more anxious when she doesn’t know where we are. However, when she lies beside us in a chair or on the sofa, she is relaxed and usually sleeps

The other day, I was thinking about her situation, and it occurred to me this is a bit like us and God. We don’t see him or hear him, but we sense his presence many times just by his touch. It might be the hand of a friend, or some quiet, small voice that we don’t really hear, or maybe a passage of scripture, but we know it is him. And even though we don’t physically see or hear him, we know he is there. It is called faith and trust.

In our dog, I see a picture of Christians who, when they don’t see or hear God’s presence, become agitated and uneasy. Perhaps if we could picture ourselves sheltered in his arms, or sitting beside him on the sofa, we would be more at ease in our circumstance.

Here are some comforting scriptures:
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a).
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4).

Trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry