God says, “Welcome!”

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4.16

Here is a great invitation from our Great God – “come boldly unto the throne of grace …” The abundance of grace that God has is FREELY available to each of His children. We leave God with no less grace no matter how often we come or how much we need. My heart is deeply humbled when I read this invitation. God chooses to make time for me as often as I need Him – how can I NOT make time for Him, even when I don’t think I need Him? Throughout the Word of God these words “grace” and “mercy” are linked together. God is merciful because of His grace. He is able to grant us mercy because He is a God of grace.
The last phrase is interesting to me: “find grace to help in time of need.” As independent as I want to think I am, there is NEVER a time in my life when I am not “in time of need.” I need God when things are going well – that enables me to remember to praise Him for His goodness. I need God when my emotions are on a roller coaster – He enables me to anchor my “fluid emotions” on the rock of His unchanging character. I need God when my life is plagued with obstacles – He enables me to trust Him when I cannot see beyond the moment. This unchanging God enables me to live moment-by-moment in this constantly changing world. Just my thoughts as we end this old year and prepare to enter the new one.

Pastor Jerry

“New” as in “Different!”

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5.17

What a wonderful place to be as we end this old year and approach a totally new “clean slate” called 2016 – “in Christ.” If anyone knew how to tell the difference in the “old life” and the “new life,” it was Paul. He was such a tormentor of the cause of Christ before the Lord confronted him that day on the road to Damascus. Suddenly he did not see Christians as people to be tormented for their faith. Now he saw them as sheep in need of a shepherd and he proceeded to write so many of the New Testament books to lead them and us onward in our walk with the Lord. It is a significant question to ask ourselves: “How different am I now than I was before I received Christ?” We are called “new creatures” in this verse. That means that EVERYTHING is new – or should be. Paul declares that “old things are passed away.” Are there things in your life that you need to release to God so that as you enter this new year, you can do so with a life that is radically different than it was before you were saved? Paul finishes the verse with: “behold, all things are become new.” This word “Behold” catches our attention. We are new creations in Christ, we are in a new family – we have been adopted by God and placed into His family. We need to reflect the characteristics of our new family. Our attitudes, our desires, our choices, our longings should be different. They should be a reflection of the God-life within us. Let’s ask God to make this new year a better reflection of Himself in our lives. That is my prayer. Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

Wait! You Won’t Be Sorry!

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40.31

My greatest strength is not found in waiting – on anything. I get anxious when it takes the stop light longer than I think it should to turn green. Having said that, one of life’s greatest lessons that God is teaching me is the truth found in this verse quoted above. Waiting on God is a profound biblical truth that each of His children must experience, if we are going to grow in our relationship with Him. There is an absolute positive correlation between waiting on God and finding “renewed strength.” If I understand what this verse is saying, WHILE we are waiting, God chooses to renew our strength. Could it be that in learning to wait on God we also learn that HE is the real SOURCE of our strength?
Look closely at the descriptive words found in these next phrases: (1) mount up with wings as eagles; (2) run and not be weary; and (3) walk and not faint. When I think of an eagle, one of its strengths is the ability to fly high up in the sky and in doing so, it gains a great perspective of what is going on down below. Could it be that in waiting on God, He will use our waiting time to give us a better perspective of our own lives and the work He is doing in our lives? To “run and not be weary” indicates that we have some source of “internal stamina” that enables us to not grow weary. Rather than growing weary in waiting on God, why not draw on the “internal stamina” provided by God’s Holy Spirit, and allow God to accomplish all that he wants to accomplish in our lives? Finally, to “walk and not faint” has as much to do with our will as it does our physical strength. Draw upon God’s power to energize your will as you are learning to wait on Him. Remember, “no one ever waited on God in vain.” Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

My Father says, “Don’t Be Afraid!”

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41.10

One of the phrases we have heard often in our lifetime is “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” Depending on to whom I am speaking, that phrase causes a “red flag” to go up in my mind.” Fear is not something that any of us want to face, but we want to instill it in the hearts and minds of our children so they will know that certain things are off limits. So, when I read this verse, I see God, the parent, saying to His children, “Fear not …” And you know what? He is the only one who has the power and authority to say that to us. Just look at His qualifications: “I am God …” That is enough for me. Following that profound statement, we see His promises to us. Let’s consider them: (1) I will strengthen you; (2) I will help you; and (3) I will uphold you. And just HOW is He going to do all of this? “With the right hand of (His) righteousness.
HOW will He strengthen us? I envision a father whispering in his child’s ear, “It’s OK. I am right here with you. You can do this. Draw on what you have heard me say to you.” How will He help us? Remember those days in the school yard when you would hear a child say, “My daddy can beat up your daddy”? Well, my spiritual Daddy can beat up any body – with no exceptions. So, yes, He CAN help me. But this last phrase is literally priceless: “I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” Have you ever witnessed someone who was struggling just to take the next step, and someone came along side to “hold them up” so there was nothing to hinder their next step. That’s where God is – right there beside us, taking all the weight off of us, so we CAN take the next step. His righteous right hand is ENOUGH for any difficulty we can EVER encounter. So, “fear not … I am your God …” Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

What About Those Shepherds?

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” Luke 2.20

Christmas is OVER – now what? One little girl was praying the Lord’s Prayer at Christmas time and here is what she said: “Lord, forgive us our Christmases and those who Christmas against us.” I’m sure there are times when we feel like that. But when we read these words above, I am struck with this truth: these shepherds were NEVER THE SAME! Let’s take note of WHAT they were doing and WHY they were doing it.
They were glorifying and praising God. This was an intentional act on the part of these men. As they journeyed from the manger back to their flocks, “they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Both their speech and actions were different. I would love to have been a little field mouse and be able to watch these men and see their excitement. They couldn’t keep their mouths shut. They told EVERYBODY they saw. Their actions were the RESULT of what they had “heard and seen.” First, the silence of their night had been broken by the angelic announcement: “Unto you is born THIS DAY in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” We don’t know how much these men already knew concerning the prophecies about the Messiah, but one thing was certain, NOW they knew enough to be more than curious. Then when they got to the manger, EVERYTHING changed. They had no longer just HEARD, but now they had SEEN “this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” Can I ask the obvious? How much has YOUR encounter with this Christ changed YOU? Will you ever be the same? May the New Year approaching keep us focused on this Christ. What if this could be the year when Jesus comes? The year that we’ve been waiting for so long. We’d have so little time to get our lost world won, if this would be the year when Jesus comes!” (Lanny Wolfe?) Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

A Night to Remember!

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, (14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ” Luke 2.13-14

While the angel as announcing the coming of the Savior to earth – in the form of a baby no less – “suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying …” One translation states it like this: “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God …” Picture for a moment, if you can, these shepherds – already startled by the appearance of an angel in night sky – and he is suddenly joined by “a multitude”. It would seem that the vast host of heaven could not remain silent but was anxious to “reinforce” what the angel was saying.
We recently had a new business open up close to where I live, and I noticed the first day it was open there were banners galore announcing this place was open for business. Heaven’s host was like a beacon flashing in the sky, saying, “Don’t miss this. This is earth shattering – life changing. Nothing will ever be the same!” And what was the announcement they could not contain? “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” These shepherds were first to hear the announcement and it was delivered in such a dramatic fashion that “when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. (18) And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”
Here’s a thought: “What are WE doing with this life-changing, earth-shattering information?” My life has never been the same since I learned about and received this Savior as my own. My eternity has been changed. I want to take others with me on this eternal journey. I pray that the coming new year will grant many opportunities to share this “good news!” Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

In Bethlehem? Why There?

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. (7) And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2.6-7

Look at the phrase: “while they were there …” Mary gave birth to her baby in Bethlehem, but Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is 80 to 90 miles, depending on which particular route one chooses to travel. Approximately 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Micah wrote this: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (5.2) So, how do Mary and Joseph get from Nazareth to Bethlehem at just the right time for this important event? We find the answer a few verses before those written above: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (2) ({And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.} (3) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. (4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; {because he was of the house and lineage of David:} (5) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” So, unbeknownst to him, old Caesar helped God carry out His plan. C. H. Spurgeon said it best: “Omnipotence has His servants everywhere.” I am rejoicing in the simple truth that Jesus was born WHEN He was supposed to be born, and WHERE He was supposed to be born, and to WHOM He was supposed to be born and you and I have a personal Savior because of these truths. Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

THIS Is How I Know!

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. ” 1 John 4.9

God gets blamed for some of the weirdest stuff – you know, like “he created the devil”, or “he made that tsunami kill all those people,” or “he made my mom get cancer” and on and on the list grows. But the truth of the matter is this: “In THIS was manifested the love of God toward us … God sent HIS only begotten Son into the world, that WE might live through HIM.” Show me the hate, show me the cruelty, show me evil acts, show me the “get even” attitude ANYWHERE in that sentence. God IS NOT some giant bully in the sky. He is the Sovereign God of this universe Who CHOSE to interact with His created being, Adam and his descendants, EVEN after we sinned. And how do we KNOW how much God loves us? Ask the shepherds – they saw Him. Ask the wise men – they worshipped Him. Ask Mary, she carried Him and then stood at the foot of the cross while the wickedness of man was displayed with each hammer blow that fastened her Son to a rugged Roman cross. Ask Joseph – he watched him grow up and worked with Him in his carpenter’s shop.
ask Paul – he was privileged to see Him on the Damascus Road and was never the same. Ask any child who has attended a Sunday School where the Bible is taught. He or she will tell you: “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so!” God’s love has been demonstrated over and over to a world that somehow chooses to overlook that love, because the prince of the power of the air is still on the loose. But his day is coming. You just wait! Remember that God sent – and you and I have received His Son – Praise His Holy Name! Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

Joseph Did His Part! Have We?

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1.21

Try to put yourself in Joseph’s place when he hears this. Hear God saying, “Joseph, not only have I chosen Mary to give birth to My Son, but I have chosen you to be the earthly father of My Son.” Fatherhood is such an all-embracing responsibility. You must provide for yourself, your wife, and all the children God chooses to place in your family. But Joseph is trying to absorb these words: “call His name JESUS …” Joseph is not an ignorant carpenter, he is called a “just” man in v. 19. He is schooled in the Old Testament Scriptures. This name is NOT foreign to him. The nation of Israel has been looking for their “savior” for nearly four thousand years.
Now picture the scene beside the manger. The shepherds have arrived and all are looking inside the manger and rejoicing that this Savior has FINALLY come to earth. Joseph has just been awarded the “father of the year” award by God – because he too was chosen to help parent this child. A few months later some wise men come and bow down before this baby and present gifts that represent His life and death – again Joseph watches as he marvels at “his” task of guiding the life of this child. Let’s jump ahead to this present time and imagine we are in that Upper Room when Jesus meets with His disciples and we hear: “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20.21) Now WE have a responsibility to take what we have heard and carry out OUR responsibility. God has selected US to be the bearer of His Message to the world. Now is the time. This is the season, and we are the ones. Let us go “in Jesus name!” Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

How Do YOU See God?

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3.17

The longer I live, the more I hear about people’s opinions of Jesus. I’ve heard everything from “he was a good man,” to “he was a great teacher,” or “he was a wonderful example,” and the most disgusting one, “how tragic that he died a martyr.” God the Father had a reason for His Son coming to this earth, but none of these opinions even come close. Some people view God through a completely negative lens – you know: “all God wants to do is judge people.” For those who have such a skewed view of God I want to say, with the apostle John, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world …” Satan has done an admirable job of convincing people that God “has it in” for everybody. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we move through this Christmas season, it is important to remember the REAL reason Jesus came. If He did not come to CONDEMN the world, why then did He come? “that the world through Him might be saved.” I can add nothing to that. We must not be afraid of that word “saved.” Mankind in his current condition is certainly in need of a Savior. He can do NOTHING to save himself. So, Jesus came, as the ONLY sacrifice that God would accept as payment for sin, and offered Himself on Calvary to satisfy your sin debt and mine. Bethlehem was the doorway necessary for Calvary to become a reality. Jesus’ life, from Bethlehem to His ascension, was all about doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. I am so glad He came NOT to condemn, but to SAVE us from our sin. Praise His Holy Name! Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry