Monday, April 30, 2012

Living Without Fear

Chuckle:  "A little boy had a part in the school play that read, 'It is I; be not afraid.' He came out on the stage and said, 'It's me and I'm scared!'"
Quote:  “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 (NIV).
    "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. . . When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. . . You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you"  (Isaiah 43:1-5 NIV).

Webster defines "fear" as, "That strong sense of personal danger whether real or imagined."  There are many kinds of fears today: (1) Physical fears (cancer and other illnesses); (2) Financial fears (bills, losing job, etc.); (3) Future fears (divorce, aloneness, etc.); (4) Family fears (for children, parents, etc); (5) Fear of rejection; (6) Fear of the unknown - FEAR!

Both non-Christians and Christians alike can have fears.  But God does not want his children to be afraid.  Today, God has a message of assurances that will calm your fears and restore peace and contentment to your life.  Our passage gives three primary reasons why you should not fear.

    First, God has redeemed you. To redeem means to buy someone out of slavery.  God delivered the Hebrew people from over 400 years (1700-1300 b.c.) of physical slavery in Egypt.  Even more miraculous is the truth that God has redeemed you from the slavery of sin by the blood of Jesus and delivered you from the fear of spending eternity separated from his presence. "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed . . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (I Pet. 1:18 NIV).

    Second, God says, "I am with you."  In all of life's trials, He is with us.  In verse 2, God says "when," not if, you pass through troubled times (waters, rivers, storms, fires, trials, problems).  The psalmist wrote, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me" (Psalm 23:4 NIV).  Are you walking through the valley of the shadow of depression, discouragement, despair, disease?  As your Savior, Christ is always with you. "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart"  (Isaiah 40:11 NIV).  "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we can say with confidence, the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid" (Heb. 13:5-6 NIV).

    Third, God loves you.  He says, "You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you."  The King of the universe thinks you are well worth His Son dying for you.  You're precious in his sight (valuable and rare) like a Rembrandt.  You're honored, which means you carry weight with God.  "Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7 NIV).
To see how much God loves you, just substitute your name for "the world" in John 3:16.  Jesus loves you unconditionally just the way you are.  Max Lucado put it this way: If God carried a wallet, your picture would be in it.  God will not abandon you -- because he loves you.  If you have Christ as Savior, you need not be afraid.  You and I can say with the psalmist, "When I'm afraid, I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will never be afraid, what can mortal man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3 NIV).

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 16, 2012

Are You a "Chreaster?"

Chuckle: "Why are you so excited?," the surgeon asked the patient that was about to be anesthetized. "But doc, this is my first operation." "Really? It's mine too, and I am not excited at all."

Quote: "A Christian who says he worships God every Sunday morning on the golf course is really worshiping golf on God's course." --Unknown


"Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25 MSG).

Another wonderful Easter has come and gone. What an amazing event we celebrate -- our Lord's glorious resurrection from the dead that first Easter morning. I hope you were filled with joy, awe, and thanksgiving as you participated in worship and other celebratory activities with other Christians in your church congregation. I also hope your reflection on God's amazing love, grace, and mercy that made our eternal salvation a reality, by the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection, results in your having a closer love relationship and fellowship with Him.

On the Monday following Easter Sunday, I was in a meeting with pastors and other church leaders. One topic of discussion among pastors was the attendance at Easter services. I heard a pastor use the term, "Chreasters" to describe the large numbers of "Christians" who only attend church services on Christmas and Easter. I rejoiced to hear another pastor say something like this: "I'm just thankful they attend even if it is only at Christmas and Easter. At least they hear the gospel message as we celebrate the two most significant events of Christendom." I pray you are not even close to being a "Chreaster," but that you are faithful in attending worship services and other activities of your church each week. Our passage tells us not to avoid worshiping together.

"An athlete who desires to be effective on game day must first be properly trained. If he does not spend many hours developing his skills, he will not be able to accomplish all that he wishes when it is time to play the game.
Any Christian who desires to be effective in the work of ministry must realize that the public moment of any effective ministry is always preceded by many hours of careful preparation. Effective ministry will never be done by a weak and unhealthy church whose members neglect regular participation and sacrificial service."
--Unknown Author

As was the case when our passage was written, anti-Christian forces in our society are getting stronger and persecution of Christians is becoming commonplace around the world. Faithfulness in participation in corporate worship will strengthen you in your faith, encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ, and prepare you to defend your Christian convictions. No one knows exactly when Christ will return; however, the fact that He promises to return should motivate us all the more to be faithful in our participation in worship and other ministries of our churches.

Love, Jerry & Dotse