Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mission of Mercy

Chuckle: On a cold, snowy Sunday in February, only the pastor and one farmer arrived at the village church. The pastor said, "Well I guess we won't have a service today." The farmer replied, "If only one cow shows up at feeding time, I feed it."
Quote: "Who will not mercy to others show, How can he mercy ever hope to have." --Edmund Spenser
"Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren't contaminated by their sins" (Jude 22-23 NLT).
Every Christian, without exception, has been dispatched by our Lord on a mission of mercy to claim or reclaim two categories of people: The lost who have never committed their lives to Jesus Christ, and those believers who have drifted away from God as their faith has become weakened. Our passage also contains a warning that we must be on guard against letting their sinful habits contaminate our own lives as we reach out to them.
Our assignment is to be faithful witnessing to others. Effective witnesses are instrumental in saving people from the penalty of their sins. Such witnessing requires unconditional love, mercy, compassion, patience and perseverance. We are God's messengers whom He uses to draw people to Himself for salvation and spiritual revival. There are numerous ways you can be an effective witness. A 12th century, a monk named Francis of Assisi (Italian) said, "Preach everywhere you go and, when necessary, use words."
Our actions, the company we keep, our faithfulness to Christ's church, and the words we utter are all important for effective witness. Have you ever pictured yourself extending the hand of love to snatch someone from the very perils of hell? If we don't snatch them, they are doomed for all of eternity. When I think of snatching someone from the fires of judgment, I'm reminded of the times I've cooked hamburgers on a grill and had one of the patties fall through the grill into the coals below. My first reaction is to snatch it out before it burns and without getting burned myself.
Notice the warning! As we witness, we must not become contaminated by the sins of those we are trying to reach. We must be careful not to fall into the quicksand of compromise. We must not allow them to influence us to sin. We do this by insuring that our own spiritual footing remains solid and secure.
Our passage is a clarion call to action for God's people. We are on a critical mission of mercy to rescue those around us from spending eternity separated from God in a place the Bible calls hell. Also, we are to love wayward Christians back into a renewed and dynamic love relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Two works of mercy set a man free; forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive.” --St Augustine of Hippo, Sermons
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Living With Confidence

Chuckle: Sign on an Optometrist's Office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."
Quote: "Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” --Michael O'Brien
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that we ask anything according to his will and he hears us" (I John 5:14 NIV). "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Hebrews) 10:35-36 NIV).
Have you noticed how some Christians exude confidence and optimism in every circumstance. Nothing seems to get them down. They have an aura of inner peace and contentment about them. Sometimes those who have the most reasons to be depressed and discouraged become blessings to others because they have such confidence in God's ability to sustain them. They inspire others to examine their own faith and dependence upon God. They always have a smile and a positive word no matter how difficult times may be for them. they just have too much going for them.
We can have confidence in approaching God in prayer. "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). As we pray, our confidence grows from knowing our prayers are consistent with the will of the Father. When we align our prayers with His will, He will listen and give us a definite answer. We should pray with confidence!
We can have confidence that God is with us in every circumstance. In our Hebrews 10 passage, we are encouraged not to abandon confidence in our faith in times of disappointments and trials; but rather to show by our endurance that our faith is real. Because of what Christ has done for us, we should have confidence that He will sustain us today and in the future. God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. Such a promise should build our confidence in God's presence, provision, and protection no matter what we face in this life.
We can have confidence that our eternal home is being prepared. Jesus said, "I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2b-3 NIV). This is a promise from our Lord himself and if you have trusted Christ as Savior you can take it to the bank. As believers, we need not fear death. I once sat by the bedside of a dying godly aunt. As we talked, she blessed my heart when she said she was not afraid of death. She had accepted the fact that her earthly life was drawing to a close and saw death as a part of life. She was confident that even though she was walking "through the valley of the shadow of death, she feared no evil, for God was with her" (Psalm 23:4 NIV).
I pray your confidence in your Lord and His Word will grow, while depending upon the companionship and strength of His Holy Spirit to meet every need in your life.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 19, 2019

Hope During Persecution

Chuckle: After several unsuccessful attempts, a mother finally reached a game warden. “Are you a game warden,” she asked. “Yes,” came the reply. “Great,” said the mother. “Could you give me some help with my son’s birthday party?”
Quote: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
As He concluded His teachings on the beatitudes, Jesus had this to say: “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT).
Today, around the world, Christians are being imprisoned, tortured, and even slaughtered for one simple reason – they profess their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and refuse to deny their Lord. This is particularly true in those areas with radical Islamic regimes. If you are a Christian, I’m sure you have thought about what your reaction would be if you found yourself experiencing intensely painful and life-threatening persecution. As you become aware of Christians suffering for their faith, please remember they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They are part of our family of God, and they deserve our prayers and other support as we become aware of their needs.
It seems certain that things are going to get much worse for all Christians. When teaching about what would happen prior to His return, Jesus predicted: “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:9-10 NLT). An amazing fact remains, in New Testament times, the Christian church grew and flourished while Christians were enduring harsh persecution. The following occurred around 160 AD.
One of the most inspiring examples of courage in the history of the church was the martyrdom of Polycarp, who was burned at the stake for his faith. The aged Polycarp had been arrested by the Roman authorities and brought to the arena for execution in from of the cheering crowd. The proconsul pressed him hard and said, “Swear, and I will release you. Revile Christ.” Polycarp replied, “Eighty and six years I have served him, and he never did me wrong, and how can I now blaspheme my King that has saved me?” (Cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, chapter 15.)
Jesus tells us his followers will be severely persecuted by those who hate us because of our loyalty to Christ and His teachings. But He also tells us that even during the most severe persecution we can have hope, because we know our salvation is secure. If you should find yourself pressured to give in and deny your faith in Christ, please don’t yield to the temptation. Remember the eternal benefits if we stand firm and continue to live in obedience to Christ by spreading the gospel (Good News) message with Christ-like love and compassion.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Giving Ourselves in Worship

Chuckle: "As the X-ray tech walked down the aisle to say the marriage vows with her former patient, a coworker nurse whispered to a doctor seated next to her, "Wonder what she saw in him?"
Quote: "The more we listen for God's voice, the wiser is our every choice." --William Arthur Ward
"Draw close to God and he will draw close to you" (James 4:8a NLT). "In view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1 NIV).
I've heard people say, "I just didn't get anything our of the worship service this morning." My dear friends, worship is not about our getting something out of it, but rather it's about what God gets out of us -- what we give to God. If we evaluate a worship service by what we get out of it, we have made worship all about us instead of all about God. Worship is about our giving God our attention, honor, praise, submission, thanksgiving, and offerings -- giving ourselves. God delights in these gifts. When you last attended a worship service, what did you give God?
When you enter a worship service, what are your expectations? Worship should not necessarily make us feel good but instead it should please and glorify God. As we commit ourselves to give to God in worship, we will be convicted of our sin and the need for repentance, which can be very unpleasant and heartbreaking. What are you willing to give God when you worship?
If you are having trouble seeing worship as a time of giving to God, the following steps in drawing close to God should help you be prepared for the kind of worship that pleases God. Notice that God's coming close to us is dependent upon our coming close to Him. James gives us five ways to draw close to God in worship:
1. Humble yourselves before God (4:7). This means submitting our wills to His and committing our lives to Him and His control. 2. Resist the Devil (4:7). Avoid placing yourself in positions to be tempted and enticed. 3. Wash your hands . . . and purify your heart (4:8). Be cleansed from sin and replace it with a desire to experience God's purity (1 John 1:9). 4. Let there be deep sorrow and grief for your sins (4:9). Be genuinely sorry for what you have done. 5. Bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up (4:10, 1 Peter 5:6).
I'm sure you have heard the saying, "The more you put into something the more you will get out of it." Worshiping God is no different. When we are focused on giving to God in worship, we always receive more from God than we have given to Him. As you worship, visualize your presenting your gifts at the throne of God. The true joy of worship comes from drawing close to God and giving ourselves totally to Him as living sacrifices.
Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Where Credit is Due

Chuckle: A teacher asked the kindergartners, "Can a bear take off his warm overcoat? "No," they answered. "Why not?" After a long silence, a little fellow spoke up. "Because only God knows where the buttons are."
Good Quote: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” --Harry S. Truman
The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength" (Judges 7:2 NLT).
It's always interesting to see the reaction of champion athletes after they have won a game, race, or other athletic event. Some have the attitude that says, "look what I have done," while others give credit to parents, coaches, teammates, and some even point upward toward God giving Him the credit for the accomplishment.
Even those of us who say we trust God in every aspect of our lives are often tempted to claim credit for our accomplishments made possible by the support of others and to disavow God's providence in what we are able to do. We are wise if we understand that we can accomplish nothing without help.
In the story of Gideon, God saw the need to reduce the numbers of Israelite soldiers from 32,000 down to three hundred to insure they would give Him credit for their miraculous victory over the Midianites. If the odds were better, the soldiers would have claimed their superior strength overcame their enemy. With an army this small, there could be no doubt that the victory was by the hand of God. Like Gideon, we must be reminded that we are helpless in our own strength. Jesus made this point when He said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NIV).
Sometimes Christians are like the woodpecker who was pecking away on the trunk of a dead tree. Suddenly lightning struck the tree and splintered it. The woodpecker flew away unharmed. Looking back to where the dead tree had stood, the proud bird exclaimed, "Look what I did!"
As we think about our accomplishments, we should always share the acclaim with all the other people who contributed to that success. But even more important, we should always give God the credit that is due Him. To give credit where credit is due requires us to empty ourselves of selfish pride and realize our dependence on others and God Himself.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Temple of the Holy Spirit

Chuckle: "Why are buildings called buildings when they are finished? Shouldn't they be called builts?"
Quote: "Prayer doesn't get man's will done in heaven; it gets God's will done on earth." --Ronald Dunn
"Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself. For God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body" (I Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT).
When Jesus found the money changers and merchants doing business in the temple, He became angry and forcefully drove them out. Then He said, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple (house) will be called a place of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves" (Matthew 21:13 NLT).
God condemns the desecration of His place of worship and prayer. It is to be a sacred and holy place at all times. Here, the commercialism in God's house frustrated people's attempts to worship. It's no surprise that such actions angered Jesus. Any practice that hinders or interferes with genuine worship should be ended quickly if we are to please God. Now, let's look at our basic text which says our bodies are God's temples of the Holy Spirit.
Many think their bodies belong to them and they have the right to do with them whatever they wish. But under the guise of freedom, they become slaves to their own desires: sex, drugs, tobacco, gluttony, etc. You see, the Spirit of the Living God does not reside only in buildings, although He is there (omnipresent), but in the hearts of believers. Doesn't it track that our bodies, as temples of God's Spirit, should always be treated as holy, sacred, and instruments of worship and prayer? We should never abuse the temple of the Holy Spirit by mistreating our bodies. It is the Spirit within us that enables and helps us to live and pray in a way that honors and pleases God.
Now to our bodies as temples of prayer. "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will" (Romans 8:26-27 NLT).
As a believer, God does not leave you alone to cope with life's problems. Even when you are at a loss for words in expressing the desires of your heart in prayer, the Spirit prays with and for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you and help you to pray in harmony with God's will. Then, when you pray, trust that He will always do what is best.
So, in summary: Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who resides in you. You are not your own, but were purchased by God with the blood of Jesus. Your body should be treated as holy and sacred and should never be defiled. Your body should be an instrument of worship. And the Holy Spirit within you intercedes for you before the Father and helps you pray in harmony with his will.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

God Prepares Us For Service

Chuckle: "I got a letter from my sister. She just had a baby, but she didn't say whether it was a boy or girl. So I don't know if I'm an uncle or aunt."
Quote: "Personal humility is a spiritual discipline and the hallmark of the service of Jesus." --Franklin Graham
"Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:21-22 NIV).
Here, Jesus again identified himself with His Father by informing His disciples by whose authority He did His work. Then He passed to them the responsibility of spreading the good news of salvation locally and around the world. You will notice in this passage that Jesus fully equipped His followers for the task he gave them. Let's look at the gifts He has given us to make possible the accomplishment of this task.
First, He gives us His peace. This is a supernatural peace that only Christ can give. Just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27 NIV). This is a divinely given peace that transcends all human understanding (Philippians 4:7). It is the kind of peace that does not depend upon external circumstances, but is a condition of our hearts that endures no matter what.
Second, He gives us a purpose. "I am sending you." "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV). Our mission is clear.
Third, He gives us His power in the form of His Holy Spirit. Giving His Spirit to His disciples appears to be a foretaste of the Holy Spirit that would come to all believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). It is the Holy Spirit that provides us the power to fulfill our purpose of ministry in His Name. His Holy Spirit is with us and in us (John 14:17) and will never leave us. Without the Holy Spirit living within us we can do nothing.
"If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NIV). "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26 NIV).
In Summary, our basic passage gives us a synopsis of God's plan to bring the good news to the whole world. He has no plan B -- we are to be His witnesses who move and function under His direction and in the power of His Spirit (Acts 1:8).
Love, Jerry & Dotse