Friday, October 20, 2017

Kindness Toward Others

Chuckle: "Everybody's got it all wrong. Angels don't wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it." --Olive, age 9
Ponder this: “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” --John Wesley

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT ).
Paul's letter to the Ephesians describes the type behavior that ought to characterize the lives of Christians as we relate to one another. Our actions should be based on kindness and concern for others. Kindness has been defined as love expressed in practical ways. Love will make us more concerned with the needs of others than for our own. It should be our purpose to consider ways to meet other people's needs.
Being tenderhearted means that we are sensitive to how others feel. "If one part (brother or sister) suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (I Corinthians 12:26 NIV). We grieve along with our brothers and sisters when they grieve. We also experience great joy when others are rejoicing. Being tenderhearted is showing empathy and compassion toward those around us.
We show forgiveness because we fall short of God's ideal and often need forgiveness ourselves. When we consider that God has so graciously saved us from sin and destruction, we are motivated to forgive others when they offend us. Often we are less patient with our fellow Christians than with nonbelievers. Our expectations are higher for Christians, and, sometimes, we feel betrayed when they fail us. However, when we are tempted to be unforgiving, we need to look closely at the cross and remember the forgiveness we received there. God would have us set aside our self-centered attitudes that causes us to be impatient and critical of others.
Jesus said the world will know we belong to him by the love that we show to one another (John 13:35). Are you often in conflict with others? If so, ask God to give you an extra measure of kindness, a tender heart, and a forgiving spirit. When you permit the Spirit to cultivate these qualities in you, your life will be a tremendous blessing to those around you. One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness, for it is usually returned! Have a great day as you show kindness to those around you!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Keep it Simple

Chuckle: To begin a math class, the teacher asked, "What are 3, 6, 27, and 45?" Timmy quickly answered, "NBC, CBS, ESPN, and the Cartoon Network!"
Quote: "Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting . . . Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well." --Mother Teresa

"Dear brothers and sisters, when I first came to you I didn't use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God's message. For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 NLT).
Many Christians can be classified as brilliant Bible scholars. Their formal theological education, personal Bible study, and rich life experiences have given them deep insights into the difficult to understand Scriptures and the mind of Christ. The apostle Paul was such a man. He was a brilliant scholar and skilled orator who could have easily overwhelmed his listeners with impressive intellectual arguments. But he did not yield to the temptation to bring attention to himself by his impressive knowledge, understanding, and skill in articulating deep spiritual truths.
Instead, Paul kept it simple when conveying the gospel message to those he was trying to reach for Christ. He knew that the simple message of Jesus Christ and the cross expressed with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit was the most effective way to communicate the gospel. He knew that the simple gospel "is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16b NIV). Paul understood that we must make our message understandable to everyone if we are to be successful as Christ's ambassadors to a lost world.
Jesus made the gospel both profound and as simple as it gets: "For God so loved the world (every human being) that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes (has faith in, trusts) in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV).
We are wise if we follow Paul's example and keep the gospel message simple and basic for those we are trying to reach. Gregory the Great said, "God first gathered the unlearned, afterwards philosophers, nor has He taught fisherman by orators, but has subdued orators by fishermen." We should never depend upon our superior knowledge, understanding, or articulation skills to persuade people to come to Christ. We should use easily understood terms and depend upon the Holy Spirit to add power to our words.
Obviously, Paul does not diminish the importance of formal education and study of the Scriptures for Christians. However, his confidence was not in his superior intellect or speaking abilities, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul's statement about making the message simple and basic should never be used as an excuse for not studying and preparing before preaching or teaching.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Exalted Jesus

Chuckle: "Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until they speak."
Quote: "Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self." --Charles Spurgeon

"Therefore, God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11a NIV).
"Therefore," in verse 9, seems to indicate that the Father's primary justification for exalting Jesus was because of His willingness to humble Himself and be obedient unto death on the cross. Through His humble service, Jesus pleased the Father, who made Him ruler of the universe. He was (1) exalted to the highest place; (2) He was given a name above every other name; and (3) He was given the divine offices of Prophet (Jesus), Priest (Christ), and King (Lord). God wants every tongue to confess Jesus as Lord. Confession includes thanksgiving, praise, and commitment.
At the last judgment, even those who are condemned will recognize Jesus' authority and right to rule. People can choose now to commit their lives to Jesus as Lord or be forced to acknowledge Him as Lord when He returns. We are to lay up treasures in heaven by the way we live, love, and serve. Then, at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), we will receive the rewards for our faithful service. Jesus never sought to be exalted, but exaltation came as the result of His humble and obedient service. This should be our attitude.
The exalted Christ made this promise to those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord. He said: "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:3 NIV). He could return at any moment. Are you ready to meet him? If you are, how can you do anything less than praise Him as your Lord and humbly dedicate yourself to His service?
The following is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte: "I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, Alexander, should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant, Jesus, should be able to stretch His hands across the destinies of men and nations. I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term for comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded empires; but upon what do these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded his empire upon love; and to this very day millions would die for him."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Overcoming Loneliness

Chuckle: "What I've learned from dogs: If someone's chewing you out, it helps to stare into space like it's not happening." --Mark Patinkin
Quote: "People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. Let us not erect walls without doors of friendliness or windows of love.” --Joseph Fort Newton

"Turn to me and be gracious to me (O God), for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied. Free me from my anguish" (Psalm 25:16-17 NIV ).
I wonder how many people are drowning in loneliness and despair all around us, while no one notices, or worse yet, no one cares. Some struggle with the need for kindness and companionship, but often their cries go unheard. We assemble ourselves at church and are unaware that someone seated next to us is going under for the third time in a sea of desperate loneliness.
Some think Christians are immune from loneliness and fear. There is an unspoken belief that if you are really a Christian you don’t have problems like that. We all know that's not true. We come to church and sing, "Rescue the Perishing," and fail to notice that there are people perishing right there in the pews. Someone may be dealing with severe grief over the loss of a loved one. Another may have been abandoned by someone deeply loved. Another may have a loved one thousands of miles away in harms way.
In our modern culture, which idealizes independence and individuality, we have paid the price with a loss of friendships, closeness, and community, even among Christians. Self-sufficiency can be a source of pride, but the result is that we no longer belong to anyone. You may be lonely yourself and in need encouragement, or you may know someone mired deep in loneliness and are wondering how you can help. How can you ease the pain if you are lonely and perhaps help others? Here are some thoughts.
      - Stay true to your beliefs and practice integrity. Don't give up on yourself or others. Do your best to live by the values of your Christian faith, staying tuned to the wisdom of God's Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Make up your mind to see the best in others rather than the worst. Focus on the positive, never the negative.
      - Find meaningful, productive, and satisfying work to do. Idleness contributes to the feelings of loneliness and uselessness, but productive work will give you purpose, make you feel better about yourself, and help dispel loneliness. Use your God-given abilities for the good of others.
      - Forgive those who may have wronged you. Harboring resentment and an unwillingness to forgive will only intensify loneliness. You may feel that there is nothing you have done that makes you deserve the mistreatment you may have received, and you may be right. But that doesn't diminish the release and freedom that can come from forgiving the one who hurt you.
     - Finally, take God at His Word when he says: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). Those who walk with God are never really alone.
It is not what happens to us that matters, but how we handle what happens to us. God specializes in solving human problems, and He will help you overcome loneliness if you allow Him to do so.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, October 16, 2017

Serving Two Masters

Chuckle: "Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It's just stale bread to begin with."
Good Quote: "Each man decides whether he will be engulfed by the urgent, engrossed by the trivial, or enriched by the eternal" --William Arthur Ward

"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24 NLT).
As Christians, we have no choice but to live in a society where many people worship and serve money. Christians are certainly not immune to adopting this worldly view. Many spend their entire lives accumulating and storing money and possessions, only to die and leave it all behind. I've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. Have you? Unfortunately, the commitment of many to money and what it can buy far outweighs their commitment to God and spiritual matters.
Can you honestly say that God, and not money, is your master? Whatever you store up, you will spend much of your time and energy thinking about it, fretting about it, and planning how to accumulate more. Are the Choices You Make Based on Materialism? "Let your character be free from the love of money. . ." (Hebrews 13:5). "For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many sorrows (griefs)" (I Timothy 6:10 NLT). This passage is often misquoted. It is not money that is the problem -- it is our infatuation with it. It is making it our master.
God's Word encourages hard work, and good management to provide for our families. Having possessions, or not, is not the issue. It is our attitudes toward them. We are either serving God or serving money. If we are serving money, we are allowing it to control us instead of the Holy Spirit as we worship and serve God as our Master. We can become possessed by our possessions. An easy test is to ask yourself this question: "Which occupies more of my thoughts, time, and efforts -- God or money?
In the teachings of Jesus, He often contrasted heavenly values with earthly values. He explains that our first loyalty should be to those things that do not fade, cannot be stolen or used up, and never wear out. "Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will be" (Matthew 6:20-21 NLT). If money and possessions are becoming too important to us, we should evaluate our walk with, and faithfulness to, our Lord.
In our basic passage, Jesus is asking us to make a choice: to serve Him or material things. If we choose to truly make Him the Master of our lives, He will teach us to be content with whatever we have because we have chosen that which has eternal consequences. He also tells us not to worry about our physical needs, and promises to supply what we need if we place Him first in our lives (Matthew 6:33).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, October 13, 2017

Vanity and Conceit

Chuckle: A lawyer and a doctor were at the gym. The doctor complained that while he exercises, people always ask for advice. “What should I do?” “Well,” said the lawyer, “when you give advice, send a bill.” In a few days, the doctor got a bill from the lawyer.
Quote: “He is truly great that is little in himself and that maketh no account of any height of honors.” –Thomas A Kempis

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3 NIV).
Vanity is defined as “the quality of being vain or conceited about oneself; excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.” It’s ironic that vanity also means a condition of no real value; worthless.
Many of the world’s problems can be traced to powerful people filled with vanity and conceit. These include brutal dictators and other cruel despots. I’m reminded of a saying that goes something like this: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Such people sometimes see themselves as above the law or rules that apply to everyone else. They see themselves as a cut above those over whom they have influence.
“But lasting good has always been wrought by those who answer to Thomas a Kempis’s description (our quote), and see themselves infinitely small – as a man feels when he stands alone in darkness, looking up to the starry skies.” –Eric Johnston
Those who are infatuated with their perceived importance and power often prey on the powerless. Such an attitude should never be found in a Christian regardless of his or her position of leadership. Our passage warns Christians not to think too highly of themselves, but to evaluate ourselves based on the degree of faith God has given us.
The minds of wise Christians have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who reeducates, renews, and redirects their hearts and minds. Great people are loving, humble, compassionate, and quietly wise, no matter what great deeds they perform or the high honors they receive. Jesus said to His disciples, “. . . whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26 NIV).
“An old fable of Aesop tells of the fox and the crow. A crow once stole a piece of meat. The fox, who wanted the meat, began to compliment the crow. First he complimented the beauty of her black feathers. Then he complimented the beauty of her form. Finally he complimented her singing voice and asked to hear her sing. The crow was so overcome by the praise that she opened her mouth to sing and dropped the meat, which the fox promptly picked up and ate. Our experience tells us that such vanity is not reserved for crows.”
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Winning the Sin Battle

Chuckle: "For a saint to desire to sin is as ridiculous as a rodeo where cowboys ride calves to rope horses. Not only is the experience unnatural, it is extremely unproductive!"
Quote: "Sin is like a man's beard. Although we daily destroy its manifestations, it constantly reappears." --Unknown source

"Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me" (Psalm 119:133 NIV).
As we think about winning the sin battle, I'm reminded of another passage from the Psalms about the importance of God's Word in this battle. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws" (Psalm 119:105-106 NIV). In our basic passage, the psalmist asked God to guide his footsteps so that his life would not be controlled (ruled) by sin. In the second passage, he acknowledged dependence upon God's Word to light his way so that he could avoid Satan's temptation to sin. In both instances, he knew the importance of keeping God's precepts uppermost in his mind.
"Sin" is not a popular subject with many people today. However, if you are a Christian, you know that we live in a constant struggle with our old sinful nature. Notice that the psalmist did not promise God he would never sin. Rather, he asked for God's help to keep him from being ruled by sin. He knew he could not defeat sin on his own no matter how hard he might try.
Near Watsonville, California, there is a creek that has a strange name: Salsipuedes Creek. Salsi puedes is Spanish for "Get out of it, if you can." The creek is lined with quicksand, and the story is that many years ago, in the early days of California, a Mexican laborer fell into the quicksand. A Spaniard, riding by on a horse, saw him and yelled out to him, "Salsi puedes!" which was not very helpful to the struggling worker. The creek has been so named ever since. That is what the flesh (our own strength) is like. We struggle to correct these tendencies -- to get out of the effects of our own sinful nature -- but we cannot do it. --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Edited by Michael P. Green
Struggle as we may, in our own strength, we can never win the battle against sin. As a Christian, however, "You are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you" (Romans 8:9a NIV). We must spend time in God's Word and in prayer, and allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to provide us the strength to avoid the habit of sinning. Sinning should become abhorrent to us -- it should be against our new nature in Christ. "No one who lives in him (Christ) keeps on (continues) sinning" (1 John 3:6 NIV). Willfully sinning is unnatural for the Christian and should never become a way of life -- a lifestyle.
When we do sin, we will be miserable and should immediately turn to God and ask His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). If we are walking closely with Jesus, we will not desire to deliberately sin. But sin can creep into our lives and control us if we are not being controlled by the Spirit of God. Please understand that in Christ Jesus, you can win the battle with sin each day and enjoy ultimate victory over your old sinful nature.
Love, Jerry & Dotse