Monday, June 18, 2018

Dealing with Disagreements

Chuckle: A Sunday School teacher asked a new boy, "who led the Israelites across the Red Sea?" "It wasn't me," he said. "We've just moved here from Missouri."
Good Thought: “We need not all agree, but if we disagree, let us not be disagreeable in our disagreements.” --Martin R. DeHaan

"And now I want to plead with those two women, Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement" (Philippians 4:2 NLT).
Disagreements are inevitable when two or more people interact. But, with God's help, we can learn to disagree without bitterness and rancor. When you think about it, wouldn't it be a dull world if we all agreed on everything. Usually disagreements occur when we don't get our way. Often we want something done one way and someone else wants it done another way.
Not getting our way can sometimes cause us to react in anger, frustration, and bitterness to a degree that others are surprised and taken back by our actions. They may never have seen this side of us before. Christians are not immune to immature reactions when things don't go the way we think they should, or the way we want them to. Sadly, disagreements that lead to anger and bitterness can destroy the sweet fellowship of God's people.
The two women mentioned in our passage had been co-workers for Christ in the church at Philippi, and their broken relationship was a matter of great concern to Paul. Many had come to know Christ through their cooperative efforts, but the credibility of their witness was in danger of being destroyed because they couldn't get along. We may work hard for Christ's kingdom, but the fruits of our labor can be diminished or non-existent if we can't get along with others in the church. There is no excuse for Christians to be at odds with one another when they are committed to the same cause.
We must remember that when we form strong opinions about something, we are no more entitled to have our opinions accepted by others than others are to have theirs accepted by us. It's a "human" thing to believe that "my idea is the best one and I don't understand why everyone can't see that which is so obvious to me." A Spirit-filled Christian will not allow selfish desires to get in the way of pursuing the common good.
If you find yourself angry and frustrated because you didn't get your way, or things did not go the way you wanted (felt they should), you would be wise to listen more closely to those who disagree with you -- with the intent to better understand why they feel the way they do. This requires an open mind and a cooperative spirit. We must learn to handle disagreements in a loving and kind way -- never with anger and hostility.
"Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself" (Philippians 2:2-3 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Teach Me, Lord

Chuckle: A man asked the pharmacist for a cure for the hiccups. The pharmacist reached out and slapped him across the face. "What'd you do that for?' asked the man angrily. "Well, you don't have the hiccups anymore, do you?" "No," replied the man, "but my wife out in the car still does!"
Quote: "Value a friend who, for you, finds time on his calendar -- but cherish the friend who, for you, does not even consult his calendar."

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:10 NASB).
Each time we establish new relationships and make new friends, there are a lot of uncertainties involved. What will he/she expect of me? Can I live up to those expectations? What will it take to please the other person and help to nurture the relationship? Will my new friend really care about me? Initially, a lot of guesswork is involved in learning what it takes to please the other person and to make the relationship become what you want it to be. We often leave ourselves vulnerable to hurt and disappointment if the relationship doesn't work out.
However, there is no guesswork when you establish a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. You never have to worry about not knowing what God wants from His relationship with you. His Word, as illuminated by His Holy Spirit, lays it all out in clear and understandable terms. God wants an intimate love relationship with us because He loves us unconditionally. In our passage, the Psalmist asked God to teach him exactly what His will was for their relationship. He wanted God to teach him how to know and understand His will -- how to please Him.
When our relationships with other people are based on unconditional love, those relationships have a great chance of becoming strong and long-lasting. But with the kind of love that God has for us, He will never leave us guessing and He will never be the one to break the relationship or interrupt the fellowship with us that He desires. The prayer of the psalmist is a good one for us. "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14 NLT).
These words from Micah 6:8 provide a great summary of what God expects from His relationship with His people. "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly (do what is right) and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." In our efforts to please God, we should examine these areas of our lives regularly.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Teachable Spirit

Chuckle: "The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public." --George Jessel
Quote: "Christianity cannot be taught. All that you can do is clear the young mind and put it in a fit state to receive the Holy Spirit." --Sir Richard Acland Quoted Llew Gardner

"Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you" (Psalm 25:5 NLT).
Do you have an open mind and a teachable Spirit? Are you eager to learn from others and, more importantly, from our Lord Himself? Sometimes pride can make us resistant to teaching, and this same pride can prevent us from letting God show us the path He wants us to take in life. Pride can also make us selective learners -- willing to be taught when the teaching corresponds to our preconceived ideas about the value of that which is being taught.
There is a story about a man who wanted to train his mule. The first thing he did was to pick up a big stick and hit the mule a resounding wallop between the ears. As the mule staggered about, someone said to him, "What is the matter? Why did you do that?" The man said, "To teach a mule, you must first get his attention."
The above may or may not be true of mules, but there is substantial truth in it when applied to humans. For God to teach us, we must allow His Spirit to get our attention and awaken within us a desire before learning of Him can occur. In other words, our want to must come before God can teach us the how to. Our willingness to let our Lord guide us and teach us is a reliable measure of our love for Him.
Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teachings . . . But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:23, 26 NIV). In our Psalm passage, David expresses his urgent desire for God's guidance and teachings to give direction for his life. Jesus says His words, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, will provide that direction for us.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach the disciples and remind them of the truth of His words. He wanted them to prove their love for Him by learning and obeying His teachings. He wants the same from us.
As we adopt a teachable spirit, we will eagerly study the truths of God's Word and allow the Holy Spirit to plant and cultivate those truths in our hearts and minds. He will teach us God's will, and remind us when we stray from it.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Blessings From Delegating

Chuckle: Dad: "Why is your January report card so bad?" Son: Well, you know how it is, Dad. Things are always marked down after Christmas!"
Quote: "Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. . So God put the body together. . If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts (rejoice) are glad" (1 Corinthians 12:14, 24, 26 NLT).
Paul uses the analogy of the human body to describe the function of the body of Christ, the church. Like the human body, the church has many members and each of them is important to the life and function of the spiritual body. For our physical bodies to perform at their best, each and every part must perform its function as it was designed by our Creator. The same is true of the church.
Have you ever made the statement: "If I want something done right, I do it myself?" This statement says we think we can do the job better than anyone else in our organization or the church. Even though such thoughts come naturally to us, any organization can be a winning team only if leaders are willing to delegate even the good jobs to others.
All sorts of misgivings can lead us to be reluctant to delegate. Are they capable? Are they dependable? Will they follow through? Are they team players? Yes, it's natural to ask such questions, but the highly successful person recognizes that trusting others is critical for a cohesive and successful team. It takes a person with a healthy self-image to be secure enough to share both responsibility and credit.
I have known pastors and other leaders, including myself, who have tried to do too many jobs themselves because they didn't have faith in others. Perhaps they had been disappointed in the past when they tried to delegate tasks to others. No matter the reasons, failure to delegate and allow others to exercise their God-given gifts and abilities is to rob them of the joy of service as an important member of the team.
Until you learn to delegate, you won't have time to dream, plan, study, and be creative. You will seriously limit your own effectiveness and that of your organization or church. The beautiful thing about delegating is that you will now have the time to do those things that only you can do -- that cannot be delegated. If you are a leader in your church, you are wise to recognize the value of each member, allow them to function as members of Christ's Body, and rejoice with them and give them credit when they do well.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

God's View of Prejudice

Chuckle: A child's comment on the Bible: "Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles."
Quote: "Prejudice is never easy unless it can pass itself off as reason." --William Hazlitt

"The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, 'You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink'" (John 4:9 NLT).
Back before his horrible lapse into immoral conduct, I watched an interview with Tiger Woods and his mother on 60 Minutes. In that interview, the greatest golfer in the world revealed the prejudices and rejection he had to overcome as he broke into the ranks of professional golf. You could see the pain and sadness in his eyes and those of his mother as they discussed such a deeply personal and difficult subject. It reminded me that each of us can become blinded to the value of people by our own prejudices.
The word "prejudice" has several shades of meaning, but the dictionary says: "Prejudice is an opinion formed without knowing the facts or by ignoring the facts; an unfair or unreasonable opinion; a dislike or distrust of people just because they are of another race, religion, country, etc." It means to prejudge another person based on some set of preconceived notions in our value systems.
Many of us grew up in a day when prejudice was commonplace in our society, and for many it is still so today. Without God's help we can become victims of our prejudices, hatreds, and biases to the point that we are blinded spiritually and cannot see people as God sees them. Intellectually, we all know that every person on earth is of equal value in the eyes of God, but often our words and actions say otherwise.
The setting for our passage reflects the fact that intermarriage between foreigners and Jews had produced a mixed race known as Samaritans. Thus, the "pure" Jews hated this mixed race and viewed the Samaritans as impure and outcasts. The actions of Jesus were offensive to the Jews, but, not only did Jesus die for the sins of all people, Jesus set the example for us in overcoming prejudices in our daily lives when he reached out to the Samaritan woman across lines of blind and radical prejudice and racial hatred. He demonstrated that the Good News is for all people regardless of race, social position, or past sins.
Let's pray that God will give us pure, loving, and accepting hearts toward others who may not look like us, act like us, talk like us, or adopt our set of values. Let's remember that all people are equally precious in God's sight, and they should be in ours.
Love, Jerry & Dotse.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Marks of a Mature Christian

Chuckle: "Age makes you take twice as long to rest and half as long to get tired."
Quote: "Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character: Sow a character, reap a destiny." -- Reade

". . . let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity" (Hebrews 6:1 NIV). In 2 Peter 3:18 NIV, we are told to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Do you see yourself as mature in Christ? Or, do you say with the apostle Paul, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have been made perfect (mature), but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Philippians 3:12 NIV). God brings about Spiritual growth in our lives if we are willing. A mature Christian:
Deals wisely with life's problems. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything" (James 1:2-4 NIV). The mature Christian knows problems and trials will come and prays. "Lord, I know you will use these difficult times to help me grow and mature." How about you? Do you recognize trials and problems in your life as opportunities to test your faith and to help you develop perseverance -- and become mature and complete?
Is sensitive to the needs of others. "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism . . ."If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right" (James 2:1, 8 NIV). Love your neighbor as yourself. Don't play favorites - don't look down on some people. Jesus said we are to be concerned for others be very sensitive to their needs.
Controls his/her tongue. "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect (mature) man, able to keep his whole body in check" (James 3:2 NIV). If a person can control his tongue, he probably will control his/her whole body. To speak in a loving way that edifies others is a mark of maturity.
Is a Peacemaker. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" (James 4:1 NIV). Many of us are quarrelsome, easily offended, etc. We get our feelings hurt and we lash out at those who offended us. These reactions are a result of being selfishness or being judgmental.
Is Patient and Prayerful. "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming" (James 5:7 NIV). ". . . The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16b NIV). Four times in this chapter, James says: "be patient." But in our fast pace world of instant gratification we are prone to pray, "Lord teach me patience - and do it right now!" Seven times James says: "be prayerful." Prayers are answered in God's time."
In Summary, When you were born into God's kingdom by faith, you became an infant Christian, but you will need to grow and become mature. It's a matter of spiritual growth until you function in a mature way. This requires faithfulness in worship, Bible study, ministry to others, fellowship with other Christians, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. God's plan is for you to grow to maturity. What's your plan?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Who Me, A Priest?

Chuckle: Q: What kind of man was Boaz before he met Ruth? A: He was Ruth-less!!
Quote: When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package." --John Ruskin

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9 NIV).
The Bible says every believer is a priest. It's important that each of us understands the meaning and significance of this truth. You probably have a mental image of what a priest looks like and what he does; and you may not see yourself fitting that image.
In Old Testament times, the priest was the intermediary between the people and God. The priest approached God on behalf of the people. Even today, some choose to confess their sins through a priest. However, after Christ's victory over sin and death on the cross, the pattern for our interaction with God changed dramatically. Now each of us has the glorious privilege of coming directly into God's presence without fear. In the name of Jesus, we can now speak directly to God and have him speak to us through his Word and his Holy Spirit. The New Testament refers directly to the priesthood of believers five times: 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 20:6. The priesthood of believers involves both privileges and clear responsibilities.
Our Priestly privileges include:
(1) Direct access to God in the name of Jesus, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). "For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. . ." (I Timothy 2:5 NIV);
(2) The right to interpret Scripture. This right and privilege means you and I, as individual Christians, can study and interpret Scripture for ourselves while depending upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance.
Our Priestly responsibilities include:
(1) Offering spiritual sacrifices (I Peter 2:5). According to Lavonn Brown, this involves four dimensions; "(a) a spiritual sacrifice of worship (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15); (b) a spiritual sacrifice of witness for Jesus (I Peter 2:9); (c) a spiritual sacrifice of stewardship (Philippians 4:18); and (d) a spiritual sacrifice of service (Hebrews 13:16)."
(2) Being priests to others. The overriding principle here is that Christians have the God-given responsibility to minister to the needs of others in the name of Jesus. Although churches set aside (ordain) vocational ministers for certain ministry positions, all believers are personally and equally called to be ministers. Our most important ministry is to help others come to faith in Jesus Christ -- the ministry of reconciliation.
"And he (God) has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:19b-20a NIV). Faithful exercise of your priestly privileges and responsibilities will please our Lord and bring you much joy and fulfillment!
Love, Jerry & Dotse