Something Worth Singing About!

“I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13.6

Have you ever wondered, “How in the world could David write the gracious things about God that he wrote when his life was in such great turmoil so much of the time?” He gives the reason in this verse above. “he (God) has dealt bountifully with me.” What does that mean? The word “bountiful” means “in large abundance.” When you look closely at David’s life, God’s hand was on him from the earliest time. Starting out as a shepherd and then going on to be “the king of Israel” with a throne that will last until Jesus comes again is a bountiful gift from God. Even though David’s life was plagued with many detours, and with much turmoil in his grown family, God remained faithful. In David’s mind that was a reason to “sing to the Lord …”
If you and I look closely at our own lives, can we draw the same conclusion? Some may be hesitant to do so because their lives have been through so much turmoil. But if you are one of that number, ask yourself this question, “At what point did God stop being God? When did He step off the throne of heaven and leave me to deal with my life ON MY OWN without His guidance?” The answer is NEVER. Music is the language of the soul. When David wanted to praise God, he sang or played an instrument. The issue for us is not “do I have a good voice” or “can I play an instrument?” The issue is, “Am I willing to sing to the Lord, BECAUSE he has dealt bountifully with me?” Take time today to look at what God has DONE, what He has BROUGHT YOU THROUGH, and how He is WITH YOU now and then from your heart, “sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with (you).” Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

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Afraid? Not Me!

“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15.56-57

I don’t know very many people who naturally enjoy talking about death. But in these verses we discover that when Jesus went to the cross, He removed the STING of death. When most believers come to the point of dying, their greatest fear is NOT where they are going, but rather, will DEATH hurt. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, the intention of the Roman executioners was to inflict as much pain as possible on Him – after all, that was the distinct purpose of crucifixion. So, they WANTED Him to suffer … and suffer He did. In fact, in that time of suffering, He was pulling the stinger out of death one breath at a time. When He cried, “It is Finished!”, not only was the payment for sin complete, but Jesus had succeeded in extracting the STINGER from death. That is why Paul could write these words, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” (vs. 55-56)
In addition to pulling the STINGER out of death, Jesus also accomplished something else of great significance. He became VICTORIOUS over the grave. When the stone was rolled away from the tomb, it was not so Christ could get out or the disciples could steal His body. It was to reveal that He had already CONQUERED death and had become VICTORIOUS over the grave. Now v. 57 gives us real hope and real joy. Read it with me with great delight: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The victory is in Christ and NOTHING or NO ONE else. Let’s allow God’s Spirit to reflect our great victory to others today – not because we are arrogant, but because we are confident of WHO we are in Christ and WHAT we have in Christ! Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Savor Every Word

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. ” Colossians 3.16

Sometimes when I read a verse, I try to put myself in the place of those to whom it was written. Here Paul is writing the Colossian Christians. What was he telling them with this phrase: “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”? I can’t possibly know what that was supposed to mean to them, but what does it mean to you and me? I believe he is saying that we need to SAVOR every word that was spoken to us from God and to allow those words to create within us a wisdom that is NOT of this world, but is uniquely something from God. Having God’s wisdom allows me to see the circumstances of my life and the people who interact with me from a different perspective. I believe God wants us to view our circumstances as divine appointments. It is easy to grow disgusted with circumstances we do not or cannot understand. But if God has allowed them, then they really ARE divine appointments. In order for us to “teach and admonish” anyone, we need to have such a close walk with God that His every whisper is heard and acted on.
Let’s not get caught up in regularly challenging God when we don’t immediately understand something that has happened. But rather, let us quickly embrace what God sends with this question: “Lord, what’s in this for me to learn?” In light of God’s all-encompassing omniscience, you and I are much wiser when we partner with God in the learning process instead of hoping to “just get through this” so we can get on with something we want to do. Give God the benefit of the doubt. He ALWAYS has your best interests at heart. Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Walk Your Talk!

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2.6-7

Paul’s words here to the Colossian believers are words addressed to a spiritually mature congregation. In essence, he is saying to them, “Live the way you know you ought to live.” In other words, “Since you have RECEIVED Christ, walk like you have RECEIVED  Christ.” That seems like such a simple statement, but, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, “We know so much better than we do.” So, how then should WE walk? Paul gives them and us some positive phrases for walking right: (1) rooted and built up in him (Christ). If our belief of salvation is planted firmly on our Savior, Jesus Christ, then our daily walk should reflect our knowledge of Him. Such knowledge is found in His Word and our examples of such behavior should be found the lives of those with who we choose to fellowship. Then Paul speaks of (2) being stablished in the faith. It is our responsibility to know what is contained in our faith. It is not enough to simply say, “I believe what my church believes. We need to KNOW what our church believes. (3) as ye have been taught – this speaks of those who are regular in the study of the Word in their fellowship of believers. Just because other believers may not see the need to be faithful and regular is no reason for us to not be faithful and regular in our attendance. Finally, he suggests (4) abounding therein with thanksgiving. Are we REALLY thankful for who we are in Christ? Are we thankful to God for the family of believers we are privileged to worship with on a regular basis? May our lives be CHARACTERIZED by a thankful spirit. That reflects a rooted and grounded faith. Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Will vs. Plan

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. ” Romans 12.2

This world and all of its forces have one desire – to get us all to march in lockstep to Satan’s orders. And if anyone tries to rebel against those forces, he faces great opposition and ridicule. But the child of God has an entirely different set of values that help determine our choices and our lives every day. So, Paul’s instruction to “be not conformed to this world” calls us to walk in direct opposition to most of those people we encounter every day. When someone is “conformed” to a to a pre-existing shape, it looks just like every other shape that is “conformed.” But the call to us as Christ-followers is to be “transformed.” That means we are changed from what we were to what God wants us to be. How is this accomplished? “By the renewing of (our) mind.” How is someone’s mind renewed? It required replacing what has BEEN the controlling elements with NEW elements from God’s Word. We can NEVER know what is the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” until we have explored what God has told us in His love letter – the Bible.
For a professing Christ-follower to say, “I just can seem to figure our what God wants me to do”, is a red flag that declares they have spent little or no time in God’s Word, seeking to UNDERSTAND what our Heavenly Father has said to EVERYONE of His children. The WILL of God is the same for each one of us. It is the PLAN of God for each life that is different. I will never be able to grasp His PLAN until I have begun doing His WILL! Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Set Free! That Feels Good!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8.1-2

I am moved by two phrases in these verses: (1) no condemnation, and (2) made me free. When I look at my life, not just how it is today, but how it has been in the past, the phrase “no condemnation” speaks volumes. When we are honest with ourselves and God, we KNOW that there is certainly enough sin in our lives to condemn us before a righteous God. What makes that “condemnation” disappear? We are “in Christ Jesus,” meaning our lives are wrapped up in Him because of Calvary. This condition of “no condemnation” enables us to “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The only way my life can be pleasing in God’s sight is for me to live my life walking “after the Spirit.” That lifestyle releases me from self-centeredness, which makes my life all about me. Walking after the Spirit allows my life to “be all about Him.”

Being “made free” from the law of sin and death is the ultimate result of no condemnation. Not only does my life “feel” different when I am walking in the Spirit; my life “is” different. My goal for living is to glorify God in all that I do. I don’t wake up each morning and plan an agenda that is all about me. But rather, I awaken each morning with my first question to God being, “Lord, what do YOU have for me today? How can I glorify you?” Even though I will never be free from the nagging pleas of my flesh to just do what I want, I can always overcome that “nagging plea” by the surrender of my spirit to God. And why would I want to do that? Because “there is therefore now no condemnation” and I have been “made free from the law of sin and death.” Just my thoughts …

Pastor Jerry

“Responsible” Giving!

“I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20.35

I remember hearing this verse as a child growing up – it was usually around Christmas time. What kid wants to be told something like this? But I understand that it was spoken as a principle to establish in my heart and mind. In this particular passage, Paul is instructing the Ephesian elders about how the church should view Christian ministry. He tells them and us that the church has an obligation to minister to the weak. I pray that our churches would do that well. Having said that, I believe we are living in a time where our government has created a sense of entitlement among so many who believe everyone “owes” them something. As churches, we certainly must must be sensitive to the needs of our people to whom we minister weekly. But we do them a disservice if we become enablers of an “entitlement mentality.” As a pastor, I have chosen to err on the side of grace when working with and reaching out to people in need. Have I been taken advantage of – certainly. But I have also attempted to create a standard of living for them that would help them get out of “the system” and learn to live on their own with what God has given them. I hope no one misunderstands my words. Part of “supporting the weak” is showing them HOW to be different than they are by learning to make wise choices and learning to say “no” when family members continue to beg for help instead of taking charge of their own lives and learn the principle stated above. It really is “more blessed to give than to receive” and that principle must be taught by our churches on a regular basis. Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Don’t Mess With It!

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10.13

TEMPTATION – who among us likes to be tempted? None of us ever set out on a day’s journey to see how many times we can be tempted. But we know that at any turn of the road, any encounter with others, any unchecked thought life we can be facing temptation head on. We must first be thankful that Jesus knows what temptation is all about. The Bible says that He was “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4.15) Satan’s tactics have not changed since his first encounter with the human race in Genesis 3. The three categories of temptation are: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life. Sometimes we become so “fixed” on the first phrase of the verse above that we fail to see this promise: “but God is faithful …” God is faithful to everyone of His children. How do I know this? Because of the remainder of this verse and because of my own personal experiences with God and temptation. Look at these words: God “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able …” That is not just a pious thought, that is a promise from your Heavenly Father. Now look closely at these words: God “will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Do you see it? A way to escape! The desire to embrace the temptation must be overcome by the words from your Heavenly Father that there IS a way to escape – look for it! You CAN bear the temptation without yielding to it. God says you can. Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Go Ahead! Use It!

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11.6

How many times have we made a resolution that went something like this: “I promise to exercise ___ times a week, to watch my diet and to build my muscles up so that I can not be embarrassed about my body”? That is a commendable promise to make to ourselves and something I should probably do, but here is a noteworthy question. When was the last time we made a conscious effort to build our “faith”? If faith is like a muscle (and it is), then it does not stay in shape unless it is exercised or used regularly. The writer of Hebrews makes a bold statement: “without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please him (God).” How does our faith please God? That is a worthy question. When I take God at His word, and trust Him to do what He has promised to do, that is an act of faith. When I demonstrate an unwavering confidence in God that He will meet a need that seems impossible to meet, that is an act of faith. When I refuse to worry about things I do not and cannot control, but leave them up to God, that is an act of faith. These simple truths are actions on our part that reveal to others that we “believe that he (God) is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” God is not asking US to do the impossible. He is asking us to allow HIM to do the impossible. It seems tragic to me that so many professing followers of Christ actually live their lives as though God doesn’t even exist. You see, if I “believe that he is” then I will LIVE like He is. If I believer “that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” then I will use my faith and seek Him often, because I believe that “he is.” It is NOT rocket science, but it does require faith. Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry

Hang On to What You Know!

“I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.” Psalm 119.93

Precepts  – another word for doctrine or teaching. David seems obsessed with keeping fresh in his memory those things that God has instructed him to do – especially here in Psalm 119. David did not have the benefit of the 66 books that make up our Bible today. More than likely his resource was the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Old Testament). But he was open to hearing what God wanted to tell him, either through one of God’s prophets or hearing from God directly.
Let’s move this concept from David’s day into our present time. How concerned are we about obeying God’s precepts – teachings – doctrine (call it whatever you want)? There seems to be a lot of “spiritual ignorance” abounding today. I hear so many of God’s children say things like, “I don’t know what God wants me to do? I can’t seem to know God’s will for my life. Where do I turn to get this information?” There is no dearth of information from God. His Word is complete with everything we need to know to (1) discover His will for us, (2) to learn what we need to know about Him, (3) to learn how to work with God’s people in His church, and so much more. More times than not, the problem lies with us, and not God. So many of God’s children have no PLAN to read His Word. Those who know they should read the Bible struggle with being consistent in doing so. Still others read without taking to understand what God is actually saying. More important than simply READING God’s Word is learning to LIVE out God’s Word in our lives day-by-day. David’s words, “I will never forget your precepts” tells us he was serious about KNOWING what God wanted from Him. Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we adopted that same mindset today – determining to KNOW what God wants from us and actually doing it? Just My Thoughts  …

Pastor Jerry