Master Tuner

Hello friends,
We are officially observing Daylight Saving Time. I trust everyone made it to church on time Sunday. I have seen folks arrive in the parking lot just as worship was ending, and it was embarrassing for everyone.

I like music. I like to make music with my friends who play. I especially like playing when my guitar is in tune. Instruments have to be tuned to a standard, or else all you would have is a lot of meaningless noise. In the ‘old days’ that standard would have been a tuning fork, or a pitch pipe. These days there are electronic models with digital displays, allowing for exact pitch.

Our standard for living in tune with God is his Word. If we don’t return to him and retune, our lives can become like a musical instrument that needs tuning. As an out of tune instrument is not pleasing to the ear, a life not in tune with God has no purpose, nor does it bring him honor.

The Bible tells us that God’s word keeps us pure and in tune with his plan and purpose for our lives. Here are some examples; How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9 NIV).
Your word is completely pure, and your servant loves it (Psalm 119:140 CSB).
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11 NIV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). How do we renew our minds? By living according to God’s word and in his will.

Solomon wrote these words: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV). Does your life seem out of tune? Put it in the hands of the Master Tuner.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Child of God

Dear friends,
We received some rain and snow this past weekend. This is a major blessing, as it has been a while since we have had moisture of any kind.

It seems we are in a time of uncertainty, the likes of which we have not seen in recent memory. As I think about this, I am reminded of God’s promise to always be with his people. He is with us in the present, and he will be there when we get through the trials we endure.

“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 CSB).

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 CSB).

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV).

We do need to remember these promises are for God’s people. Those, who by faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross, have become children of God. “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10-13).

Paul writes this, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14-17).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Ready or Not?

Dear friends,
I believe my battle with Covid is over. With each new day, I see improvement. The recent cold snap has encouraged us to stay indoors and be thankful for a warm place to stay.

As our world gets crazier every day, it is important to remember that our God is not sleeping, nor is he surprised by the things that are happening. Scripture reminds us again and again of unsettled times that will come, even reminding us that these are indications of the eventual return of Jesus Christ.

We read these words in Scripture: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

He goes on to say, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man… “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:3-8; 36-44).

As we see the events of the day unfolding, let’s not focus on whether the Lord returns soon, but that we are ready when he does. Today is the day of salvation. It is not too late.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Some Good News

Hello friends,

I am recovering from my bout with Covid. The return to normal is testing my patience, but I am feeling better daily. The biggest hurdle has been a lack of energy; my want to and my can do are miles apart. It is still a challenge to make my mind focus on writing, and I may revert to a previous article this week, instead of coming up with an original thought. After twenty-some years of this, there should be something in the archives that will apply to today. After all, God’s word is unchanging and endures forever.

Many times we get discouraged when we see evil running rampant in the world. A passage from the prophet Malachi is appropriate for us to consider in our present context. At the end of Malachi in the Old Testament, God speaks of coming judgment through the words of the prophet: “Surely the day is coming, it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:1-2).

If you have ever been around calves that have been in a small pen for any length of time, and have seen them released into a larger pen or pasture, you can relate to the picture this brings to mind. They are so happy to be released, that they run in large circles with their tails in the air, leaping and kicking with obvious joy. What a picture of God’s children when they are freed from the cares of this sinful, corrupt world system!

Whoever said the Bible doesn’t relate to people in the Sandhills, and to ranchers and cowboys? It’s not all about sheep and shepherds!

I pray you keep this picture in mind as you are experiencing the everyday trials that come upon us. There is coming a day when those who are faithful to God will rejoice as calves that have been released from their stalls. What a day that will be!

Looking for His return,

Pastor Jerry

The Savior is Waiting

Dear friends,
The Covid bug has landed at our house. I had been having some odd symptoms, so I went to the clinic and consented to the test. It came in positive, so we’re enjoying some isolation time. Our nice weather is continuing, but we are in need of beneficial moisture. I think that is a thing upon which we all can agree. ‘Tis the beginning of calving and lambing, so no blizzards please, Lord.

Due to a lack of inspiration and ambition this week, I will share something from a few years back. As we were traveling, we saw a mule deer doe and her fawn crossing the road. The doe stopped at the edge of the road to wait for the fawn, and when he had reached her side, she continued to look back and wait. As I slowed down and wondered why she didn’t keep going on to safety, a second fawn ran across the road in front of us. All three then continued on toward the hills.

I see here a picture of our Lord. He waits for his children. The Bible says he will not let any of his children perish: “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28).

He waits also, for those who are not yet his. Listen to the words of 2 Peter 3:9b; “he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

In this illustration, I see two things we can count on. First, Jesus promised when we place our faith in him, we have eternal life and can never lose it. The word never means ‘not ever’.

Second, He promises patience with the one who has not yet chosen to follow him. If you are someone who has not asked Jesus onto your heart and life, he is waiting for you. Just know that someday he will return for his own and you need to be ready. He says in Matthew 24:44… “So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

In the words of the old gospel song, “Why do you wait dear brother, your Savior is waiting… why not come to him now?”

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Love

Dear friends,
Sunday evening saw the return of our church’s annual Valentine’s dinner. Over fifty were in attendance, and it was a very enjoyable time. It is good to have an evening of great food, good fellowship, and an entertaining speaker with a gospel message.

The observance of Valentine’s Day is all about hearts and flowers, candy and sweet sentiments, along with love and starry eyed couples. From a biblical perspective, the message of God’s love is for all time, and for everyone, not just for couples. It is a message that becomes more urgent with each new day. The greatest love story of all time begins, “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.” That means all people. In the words of a dear friend, “All means all, that’s all all means. Every person who believes in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross has eternal life. Period.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, no exceptions. Everyone has the opportunity to respond to his call. Galatians 3:28 reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul told us to pray for those in authority, because “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself for all men–” (1 Timothy 2:3-6a).

The apostle John wrote of Jesus, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him…, Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

It is God’s will that all people will believe on Jesus for their salvation. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). “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).

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

A Stable Life

Dear friends,
We are already a month into the new year. How time flies! It appears that our sunny, warm weather is about to take a turn for the worse. We really can’t complain about the winter to this point, and we knew it couldn’t last. Remember, spring is coming. I welcome new readers to this weekly project. I pray you are blessed in some way through these articles.

For our devotional time this week, I will borrow some thoughts from my Sunday sermon. Many of us wonder how to deal with the turmoil we see around us. I believe first of all, that we need to have a relationship with the Lord. As the scripture says, He is our peace, meaning that we can have inner peace because we know who is in control of our circumstances.

The apostle Paul has wise counsel in his letter to the church at Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned from me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

Did you get that? Rejoice always, no matter your circumstances. Be in prayer, communicating your requests to Him and thanking Him for blessings. This will lead to the inner peace that passes all human understanding. And put into practice those things that are right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.

With the negativity and turmoil that is all around us, it is good to go to the Scriptures and see that the Lord has a plan to help us get through. If we can commit to those things, He says He will be with us; “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). The psalmist says, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). How reassuring that is in times of trouble!

Blessings to you,
Pastor Jerry

In His Hands

Dear friends,

We are almost a month into the new year. There are already new challenges and trials that we have experienced. In praiseworthy news; I had a checkup with the doctor who repaired my aneurism, and he said to come back in a year. I am thankful for medical progress.

Each day, it seems the world throws another worrisome thing at us. I am slowly learning that worrying is a useless activity. Someone once said worry is a lot like an exercise bike; it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.

Depend on God to get you through this day, today is all we know. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is in his hands. I don’t like to sound like a broken record (there’s a phrase from the past), but maybe someone besides me needs to hear the words of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel again.

“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 than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).

Remember the words of the old song; He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands!

Blessings,

Pastor Jerry

Therefore Go

Dear friends,

We have been enjoying every nice day that has come along. In days past, we have looked for a January thaw, but haven’t needed one yet. The nice days have outnumbered the cold ones, I am sure.

As I look at the way the world is going, I am reminded anew of the urgency of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. In a time when the culture is rebelling against God and the Truth of his Word, it is imperative that His people, the church, take seriously the Great Commission, as it is called.

Jesus’ final words to His disciples were, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

We, his followers have been given the order to take the gospel to the whole world. The message we have been given is specified in Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome. “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, “that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame… For, 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!” (Romans 10:8-15).

We have the Good News. We are called to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. Let us go and make disciples of all nations.

In His love,

Pastor Jerry

Back to Basics

Dear friends,
There is enough ice on the lake for fishing. With the changing temperatures, it has been a guessing game as to how thick the ice might be on a given day. I grew up spending a lot of time on the ice, and found out early you can’t tell just by looking if it is safe. There have been several fishermen this weekend, and no one fell through. I see some warm up for the next week, so caution is still in order.

Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics. It is no different as we experience the Christian life. I was looking through some early issues of this devotional project, and came across the following. It reminded me of the need for some plain old-fashioned gospel teaching.

This is what I wrote: For the past few weeks, I have been studying some important topics pertaining to the Christian life. Things like sin, repentance, confession, self-denial, discipline and the like. This is the kind of stuff that makes the preacher examine his life as he prepares to teach others about the truth of the Christian walk. It is not a pleasant experience at times, but what joy to find that Jesus is the one who enables us to overcome the things that hinder our walk. I will briefly tie these things together, in order that we may see how they are all connected.

Sin is disobedience to God; repentance is turning from sin and back toward God. Confession is agreeing with God that we have sinned. Self-denial means forgetting self and giving oneself over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Discipline means self-control which is empowered by the Holy Spirit and which enables us to resist the temptation of sin, and to live a life pleasing to God.

My prayer is that we can put these truths to work in our individual lives, and begin anew to live as Jesus would have us to live. Then, those who do not have a relationship with our Lord Jesus would see him in us and have a desire to know him as well. He is still the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by him. (John 14:6).

May God bless each one in the coming days, and may you feel his presence in a special way.

For Him,
Pastor Jerry