Thursday, November 7, 2019

Things That Last

Note: I’m taking a break for a few days. I plan to be back on Nov 20th.
Chuckle: A patient said to his dentist, "Doctor, I have yellow teeth, what do I do?" The dentist replied, "Wear a brown tie!"
Quote: "Materialism has nothing to do with amount, it has everything to do with attitude" –Unknown author
"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power" (Colossians 3:1 NLT). "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:20 NIV).
I'm always getting solicitations in the mail wanting me to purchase extended warranties on everything from our cars to household appliances. Such warranties are designed to protect us from the inevitable failures of the things we buy. They help give us peace of mind about the "what ifs" in life. Material things cannot be expected to last forever, although many seem to think they will. Without faith, it's much easier to focus on the things we can see and touch here on earth rather than the unseen things above.
No extended warranty is needed in your relationship with your Lord. The salvation we enjoy in Christ is complete and will never fail us or need repair or overhaul. Nothing in addition to what Christ did on the cross is ever needed. ". . . nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:19 NIV). When God designed our salvation, He intended it to last forever and to give us peace of mind that comes from our faith that our eternal destiny is secure in Him.
Our challenge is to think about things above and not be enamored with material things on earth. This is extremely difficult unless our focus remains on the eternal rather than the temporary. Setting our sights on heaven will help us put heavenly priorities into daily practice here and now. We do this by concentrating on acts of obedience to God. It includes ". . . seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these (material) things will be given to you as well" (Matthew :33 NIV).
What is most important to you? Is it the material things you have and the need for extended warranties to make them last? Our material things can easily push God out of our lives and cause our concern for the eternal to fade into the background. If we seek things of eternal value, we will continually look forward to the day when we will meet Christ face-to-face.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Testing and Disciplining

Chuckle: "If the best things in life are free . . . why are the next best things so expensive?"
Quote: Virtue isn't virtue unless it slams up against vice so, consequently, your virtue is not real virtue until it's been tested ... and tempted.”Unknown source
"But He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10 NIV).
According to the Scriptures, God tests us and disciplines us as his Children. Sometimes, it's difficult to discern the difference. Generally speaking, God's punishment comes as a result of sin; while testing comes to determine the dimensions of our faith. When God allows difficult and challenging situations to enter your life, the first question you should ask yourself is: Do I have unconfessed and unforgiven sin in my life? If the answer is "yes," then you should consider the possibility that God is disciplining you for your sins -- to draw you back to himself through your confession and repentance. Otherwise, it may be that God is testing you to strengthen and prepare you for a special service he desires you to perform. In either case, an appropriate question is: "Lord, what are you trying to teach me in this situation?"
Testing. God tested Abraham's faith and obedience (Genesis 22:1 NIV) by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This was to determine if Abraham would obey God unconditionally regardless of what God asked of him. You may recall that after Abraham had proven his willingness to obey God by sacrificing his own son, God said to him: "Do not lay a hand on the boy . . . do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son" (Genesis 22:12 NIV). Because of his faith, God promised to bless Abraham and the whole world through his descendants. Through this testing, God was preparing Abraham for greater tasks for his kingdom. Testing burns off the dross of faithlessness, indifference, and disobedience in our lives in the same way that fire purifies gold. It is designed to make us instruments that God can use for His purposes.
Discipline: God punishes us for the same reasons you punish your children -- because you love them and want the best for them. "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children" (Hebrews 12:5b-6 NLT). Who do you think loves his child more -- the parent who allows the child to do what will harm him, or the one who corrects, trains, and even punishes the child to help him learn what is right? "Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4 NLT).
God's discipline may not be pleasant, but it's a wonderful sign of his deep and unconditional love for us. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11 NIV). When you sense God's correction, it's wise to see it as proof of his love, and ask him this most important question: "Lord, what do you want me to learn through this experience?"
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Thirst for Living Water

Chuckle: A man sat in the pew, scratching and scratching. Finally, the minister stopped his sermon and asked, "Why are you scratching like that?" The man replied, "Cause I'm the only one who knows where I itch!"
Quote: “The inward stirring and touching of God makes us hungry and yearning; for the Spirit of God hurts our spirit; and the more he touches it, the greater our hunger and craving.” --Jan van Ruysbroeck
"On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, 'If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.' When he said, 'living water,' he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him" (John 7:37-39a NLT). "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6 NIV).
Do you have a deep and sincere craving/thirst for the Holy Spirit to fill your life? The Spirit-filled life begins with a thirst that nothing else can quench -- a desire growing out of discontentment with our current spiritual condition. This discontentment grows into a deep longing for a life filled with the Spirit. This is the first step toward experiencing the abundant flow and overflow of the "streams of living water."
When Jesus used the words "come and drink," he was alluding to the theme of many Bible passages that make reference to the Messiah's life-giving blessings. By promising to give the Holy Spirit to all who believed, Jesus was putting forth his claim that he was the promised Messiah. No one except the Messiah could make good on such an offer.
In John 4:10, Jesus spoke of "living water" to indicate eternal life. But, here, he uses it to refer to the Holy Spirit. Of course, this double usage makes sense because for whomever accepts the Holy Spirit, the Spirit brings eternal life. Jesus taught us much about the Holy Spirit and then the Spirit empowered Jesus' followers at Pentecost. Down through the ages, since that time, the Spirit has been available and resident in everyone who believes in Jesus as Savior.
When your thirst allows the Spirit to fill your life, you are taught, convicted, comforted, and led by Him in every aspect of your life. In other words, you are filled with the Spirit each day. Your thirst is quenched and you experience the power and peace of God in every thing you do. How about you -- do you have that thirst about which Jesus was teaching? If so, you will not be disappointed. These words by J. S. Baxter describe God's plan for his Holy Spirit in your life.
"What God chooses, He cleanses.
What God cleanses, He molds.
What God molds, He fills.
What God fills, He uses."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Open Door

Chuckle: My Mother-in Law is a master of the mixed metaphor. One day in Sunday school she outdid herself when she warned her students' parents that if they didn't teach their children properly, "their roosters would come home to croak." --Tod Smith
Quote: "In His love He clothes us, enfolds and embraces us; that tender love completely surrounds us, never to leave us." --Julian of Norwich
Jesus to the church at Philadelphia: "I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can shut. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me" (Revelation 3:8 NLT).
Think with me for a moment about this amazing truth. As a devoted follower of Christ, God has provided a door for you into His very presence, in the name of Jesus, which no power can ever close. No one can exclude you from God's kingdom; you can never be shut out. An open door into our homes and the presence of our families who love us gives us a sense of peace, comfort, and acceptance. A door into God's presence is far and away more significant and reassuring because it has eternal implications.
I remember, some years ago, that a motel chain made famous the comforting phrase, "We'll leave the light on for you." The voice of Tom Bodett had a slow folksy down home quality that assured weary travelers that the door to a clean and comfortable room would always be open for them any time of day or night. Incidentally, on its 50th anniversary, the motel chain began using the phrase: "50 years - the light is still on."
In this life, God fully understands that we are weak and weary travelers, but He encourages us by assuring us of the availability of His strength and protection when we obey His Word and are faithful in proclaiming His name. God opens the door into His presence and future kingdom, and after the door is opened, it will never be closed. No one can ever close it -- our salvation is certain.
The comforting words of Jesus, in our passage, assure us that our places in God's kingdom and presence has been eternally reserved and sealed. Jesus is now preparing a place for us in His eternal heaven -- a place of complete joy and peace. This is all because of God's never ending love for us. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, November 3, 2019

You Are Wonderfully Made

Chuckle: “How’d you make out in that fight with your wife?” “She came crawling to me on her hands and knees.” “Yeah? what did she say?” “Come out from under the bed, you coward!” --R & R Magazine
Quote: "God creates out of the absolute superabundance of his mercy and love." --George Florovsky
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory . . . for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" (Revelation 4:11 NIV).
Are there times when you feel people, even those closest to you, just don't understand you? They don't have a clue about who you are and what talents and abilities you possess. To fully understand a person, one would have to become that person and live as they live. When we think about how difficult it is to really know someone and fully appreciate their unique abilities and personality, it should remind us once again of the amazing attributes of God. He knows you intimately because He created you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
You are you a unique creation of God. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalms 139:13-14 NIV). There is no other exactly like you. As your Creator, He made you to suit Himself and knows everything about you.
You are God's treasured possession. "You are a chosen people, . . . a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9 NIV). You are uniquely valuable and beautiful in His eyes. When God created you, He made no mistakes. You are just as He wanted you to be, and everything about you is lovely and precious to Him
You are a member of God's own family/household. "Consequently, you are . . . fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household" (Ephesians 2:19 NIV). Because of God's amazing love, grace, and mercy you have become a precious member of God's family -- if you have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord..
You are gifted by God with great potential for service. "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us" (Romans 12:6 NIV). These gifts and abilities are to be used as instruments of service to bless the lives of others for the glory of God.
The next time you look at yourself in a mirror, please remember that God made you, loves you, and wants you to know how perfectly you were created. Therefore, all of us should praise and honor God because He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. "In order to create there must be a dynamic force, and what force is more potent than love." --Igor Stravinsky
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Wisdom and Foolishness

Chuckle: A minister was asked by a politician, "What can the government do to help the church?" The minister replied, "Quit making one dollar bills."
Quote: "There is a deep wisdom inaccessible to the wise and prudent but disclosed to babes." --Christopher Bryant
"I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. . . So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made them look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in his wisdom saw that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:18, 20-21 NLT).
I feel totally inadequate to even comment on this passage which was penned by the apostle Paul. The message is so abundantly clear that it's a mystery how its central truth is missed, ignored, or discredited by so many in our modern-day world. It seems many have a difficult time recognizing any wisdom greater than their own -- even if described in God's Word.
In the ancient Jewish culture, the minds of the "wise" were made up and their mindset was that the long-awaited Messiah would come as a reigning monarch and would restore the earthly throne of King David, free them from the yoke of rule by other nations, and perform great signs and miracles.
Instead, Jesus came as an humble servant, was executed like a common criminal, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and rose from the dead the third day. The "wise" of that day could not understand God's plan for the redemption of mankind. Jesus came to die as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and to establish his kingdom in the hearts of those who trust him by faith, not for those who try to earn salvation with good deeds and human wisdom.
We can spend our lifetimes trying to accumulate the wisdom of this world and never achieve the essential for eternal salvation, a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. "Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn your back on evil" (Proverbs 3:7 NLT).
Those who are truly wise understand that a personal relationship with Christ demonstrates the greatest wisdom anyone can have. Jesus said, "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way" (Matthew 11:25-26 NLT).
James tells us that wisdom from heaven “is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV). How do you and I measure up in this test of heavenly wisdom?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Working Together

Chuckle: “While visiting a police station, a kindergartener pointed to a picture and asked if the photo was of a wanted person. “Yes,” answered a policeman. “Well,” asked the child, “why didn’t you keep him when you took his picture?”
Quote: “See the Gospel Church secure And founded on a Rock! All her promises are sure; Her bulwarks who can shock? Charles Wesley ‘The Church’
“From him (Jesus) the whole body (the church), joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16 NIV). “The body (church) is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV). (Parentheses Mine)
You probably are familiar with the word “synergy” and “synergism.” Synergy describes this principle, “the function of the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts.’' For example, you can have all the parts of a clock spread out on a table, but just having all the parts does not make a clock. It becomes a functioning clock only when the cooperating parts are assembled and perform their intended functions as they work together. The clock is greater than the sum of its parts. Synergism also describes different medicines working together to produce the desired healing effect.
The word “synergism” is also used in a Theological sense. “It is the doctrine or belief that the human will cooperates with the Holy Spirit and with God’s grace especially in the act of conversion or regeneration” (salvation). God’s grace, the Holy Spirit’s power, and the faith of the individual are all at work together. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).
Jesus Christ, the head of the church, desires every born again Christian to be an active member of His universal church through local congregations. There is definitely a Spirit empowered and directed synergy when Christians are working together as a fellowship of believers – the church. The church, consisting of many members, has been commissioned by Christ to do His work here on earth until He returns. A church, with all its members working together in the power of the Holy Spirit, creates a powerful synergy to accomplish much more than the same number of individual Christians going it alone without the church. The Holy Spirit empowers church members and uses their spiritual gifts and interdependency on each other to create spiritual synergy within the church.
If you profess to be a Christian but are not affiliated with a local church, I urge you become involved with a Bible believing congregation and put your God-given skills and spiritual gifts to work as a member of the whole. The same is true for church members who do not actively participate in the five functions of the church: worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, and fellowship. The Church is called the Body of Christ in Scripture, with Christ as its head. Like the human body, the church cannot function as Christ intended if its many members are not working together and performing their specific functions within the body.
Love, Jerry & Dotse