Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God's Will

Chuckle:  Eddie's father called up to him, Eddie, if you don't stop playing that trumpet I think I will go crazy!"  Eddie replied, "I think you have already, I stopped playing half an hour ago."
Quote:  "I was kept fast bound, not with exterior chains or irons, but with my own iron will.  The enemy held my will and of it he had made a chain which fettered me fast."  --St. Augustine of Hippo
    Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, please remove this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet I want your will, not mine"  (Luke 22:42 NLT).  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. . . Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that"  (James 4:14-15 NIV)
As we awake each morning and begin to consider the day ahead, I wonder how many of us think to pray for God's will to be done today.  As Christians, there are basically three attitudes with which we can meet a new day.  We can (1) make our plans for the day and then ask God to bless the plans we have made; (2) we can pray for God to reveal His will and plans for our day with the assurance that He will give us strength and understanding to carry out those plans; or (3) we can ignore God's will and leave Him out of our daily planning altogether.
I've heard somewhere that if you want to make God laugh just tell Him of your plans.  Our James passage makes it clear that to make plans without considering and seeking God's will beforehand is a dangerous practice.  I'm sad to say, this is a trap that I have fallen into many times in my Christian life.  The moment we decide to leave God out of our thoughts, plans, and prayers we are not walking with Him and seeking His will as He desires. 
Romans 12:2 (NLT) gives us a formula for knowing and living out God's will.  "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."  God has plans for His children that are good, pleasing, and perfect.  But to ascertain God's will in all things requires a transformation of our hearts and minds by His Spirit. 
We know that God only wants what is best for us and He proved this by giving His only Son to make a transformed life possible.  If you have accepted God's free gift of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, won't you let God transform you into a totally new person by changing the way you think?  Then, like Jesus, your primary goal in life will be to know and live by God's will for your life.  Agreeing with God in all circumstances will result in a more satisfying and happy life.
Remember this old hymn?  "Have thine own way, Lord!  Have thine own way!  Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.  Mould me and make me After thy will, While I am waiting, Yielded and still."
Love, Jerry & Dotse     

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Heaven: Our Eternal Home

Chuckle:  "Eating a puffed rice cake is like eating the lid of a Styrofoam minnow bucket!"    
Quote:  "There are no crown-wearers in heaven that were not cross-bearers here below."  --Charles Haddon Spurgeon
    "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; Trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:1-4 NIV).
Do you find yourself thinking about heaven from time to time?  Do you really believe there is such a place?  Do you know for certain that you are going there when you die?  Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like?  I do. And I'm reminded of the old hymn, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!"  R. G. Lee described heaven this way:  "Heaven is the most beautiful place the mind of God could conceive and the hand of God could create." In chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation, we are given a glimpse into heaven and a brief description of what it will be like.  We know for certain that it will be so far beyond anything the human mind can conceive that we will be overwhelmed when we see it.
In our passage, Jesus comforts his disciples prior to his crucifixion and tells them He is going to prepare a place just for them, and us, in His Father's house or heaven.  He was asking them, and us, to have faith as follows:
    Faith in the Person named Jesus Christ.  He said we should have faith (believe in, trust) in Him.  "You believe in God; believe also in me."  You see, it is in the person of Jesus Christ that we must trust to have assurance of eternal life.  It is one thing to believe in God, but something altogether different to believe in the person of Jesus -- to have a personal relationship with Him.  The Bible declares it is faith in Jesus alone which gives us hope, comfort, and assurance of spending eternity in heaven.  "Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV).  Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall never die" (John 11:24 NIV).

    Faith in a Place called Heaven: We are to have faith that a place has been prepared and reserved for us in our Father's house -- our eternal home.  Jesus said: "I go to prepare a place for you."  Old hymn:  "There's a land that is fairer than day and by faith we can see it afar. For the Father waits over the way to prepare us a dwelling place there. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore."  Your faith in the person of Jesus Christ prepares you to have faith in a place called heaven.

    Faith in a Promise From Jesus: We are to have faith in His promise to return: "I will come again and receive you unto myself."  What will happen when Jesus returns in power and glory?  The Bible tells us that the dead in Christ will be raised first to be inhabited by their spirits from heaven.  Then we who are alive at his coming shall be changed into our "glorified" bodies and then be caught up together with them in the air - forever to be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:16 NIV).

Jesus went on to say, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV).  Have you placed your faith in the person of Jesus Christ?  Have you prayed asking forgiveness for your sins and asking Him to come into your life and be your Lord and Savior?  If so, then heaven awaits you as Jesus promised.  May this thought bring you much peace and joy. . . .!!  "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (I Corinthians 2:9 NIV).

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Obedience and Love

Chuckle:  "What I don't get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them."  --Sarah, age 7

Quote:  "Selected obedience is not obedience at all, it is merely convenience."  --Unknown


    "But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him" (1 John 2:5 NLT).

I'll never forget singing the old hymn, "Oh, How I love Jesus," as a child. It expresses my love for my Lord "because he first loved me." I'm reminded, however, that there's a world of difference between singing about how we love Him and showing our love for Him by our actions. We can tell our loved ones how much we love them over and over again, but it is our actions that make those words ring true or false. Actions really do speak louder than words when it comes to expressing our love.

My pastor reminded us that "God gives us His commands as expressions of His love to guide us into His perfect will. When we obey God's commands we demonstrate that we love Him and trust His leadership. The singing of "Oh How I Love Jesus" is most beautiful in God's sight when it arises from the heart of one who is walking in obedience to Him."

Furthermore, it is our obedience to his commands that gives evidence whether or not we actually belong to Christ -- if we have experienced genuine salvation in Him. If we live as Christ wants and do what Christ says, we have expressed our love to Him in ways He will honor and we also give evidence of our personal relationship with Him.

We can express our love to God through our words of praise which are precious to Him, I'm sure; but Jesus teaches us that the ultimately expression of our love for Him is through our actions, not just our words. If we really desire to live today as Jesus modeled for us, we must obey His teachings/commands and follow His example of complete obedience to God and loving service to those around us.

"There are many reasons why we may obey someone, including God. What are yours?   Fear: Obeying because you have to.  Reward: Obeying because you get something out of it.  Love: Obeying because you love Christ and your fellowman."

Love, Jerry & Dotse