Thursday, July 12, 2012

Devotion to Christ

Chuckle:  "The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes, armadillos, and sand gnats come close!"
Quote:  "Church membership does not make you a Christian any more than owning a piano makes you a musician."  --Unknown
    "Thomas said to him, My Lord and My God" (John 20:28 NIV).
What do you think brings the most pleasure to God?  Is it what we do for Him, or our love relationship with Him?  Do you try to please God by working for Him?  Do you think that doing good deeds will somehow cause God to overlook your lack of devotion to Him?  These are probing questions that deserve serious consideration. 
I think many of us see God as our "sugar daddy," with the responsibility of meeting our every need.  Granted, God can and will meet our every need; but should that be our focus?  Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30 NIV).
When Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8), He meant that we should live our lives with uncompromising love and devotion to Him and be determined to please Him wherever we are and in every circumstance.  In John 15, Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you truly love me?"  It was only after Peter expressed his love for Him that Jesus told Peter to "Feed my lambs."
If there is anything in our lives that becomes more important to us than love for, and loyalty to, Christ, it's time for a spiritual check-up!  It could be our love for our possessions or anything that causes us to take our eyes and devotion away from our Lord.  One subtle competitor with our love, loyalty, and devotion to Christ is doing his work.  We can become so busy doing the Kings work that we forget about the King. 
Many measure themselves as Christians by how much they do -- how many jobs they have in their church, etc.  But the purpose of God's call on your life is for you to have a love relationship with Him, not a call to do something for Him.  We are not sent to do things for God, but to be used of God, as he does his work through us, as his instruments, by the power of the Holy Spirit to further His agenda.
As our love for our Lord grows, we will be busy serving Him; but the motive for our service will be our love and devotion to Him.  We won't just do "good things" in hopes of somehow gaining (earning) His approval.  Our actions of service will have a single purpose, to bring honor and glory to God, not to ourselves.  Let's examine our hearts to determine if we are more dedicated to service than to the One we serve.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, July 6, 2012

Jesus: The Source of Life

Chuckle:   A pastor asked a group, "How far was it from Dan to Beersheba?" One man answered -- "I thought they were husband and wife like Sodom and Gomorrah!"

Quote:  "Apart from Christ we know neither what our life nor our death is; we do not know what God is nor what we ourselves are."  --Blaise Pascal


    "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3 NIV).

Here, John begins one of the most intimate letters in the New Testament.  He deals with family matters, like a father writing to his small children who need encouragement, perhaps reprimanded, and mostly reminded that God is love and that they are to show that love constantly through their lives.

When the apostle John wrote this letter, he was facing problems not unlike those that Christians face today as we tell the story of Jesus to a sinful and skeptical world.  Yet there was a pressing reason for John to write this letter when he did.  Heresy was penetrating the church, led by so-called Christians known as "Gnostics."  Gnostics believed that all matter is inherently evil, and God, being good, could not have been incarnate in the body of Jesus.  To John this teaching was taking the heart out of the Christian faith.  In this letter He proclaims what was shown and proven in the life of Jesus.

Although we have not personally seen, heard, or touched Jesus as John did, we have the entire New Testament record of those who did, and we can trust that they spoke the truth about him.  In the prologue of John's letter (1-4), he tells us three things about Jesus, then he develops these truths in the remainder of the letter. First, Jesus is the source of our life (vv. 1-2). John points out three major proofs of Jesus' humanity and physical existence.  

    1. John declares that he and his fellow disciples actually heard Jesus speakThe one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen" (I John 1:1a NLT). The Greek word for "heard" is in the perfect tense -- they heard Jesus speak repeatedly, and His words were etched in their hearts. Much of what Jesus had to say is recorded in God's Word to enable us to hear His words of love, mercy and compassion for ourselves.        
     2. John declares that he had seen Jesus, personally. "We saw (have seen) him with our own eyes. . ." (vs.. 1b). The word for "seen" means more than a visual image -- it means he had understood, perceived, discerned. It's like someone saying "I see" to denote understanding. Here, he uses another word that means to gaze at with wonder, awe, or reverence. He was an eyewitness to Jesus' life -- the Jesus who brings life and light to us today.        
    3. Finally, John says he had "handled" Jesus with his own hands. "and touched him with our own hands" (vs.. 1b). This is the word Jesus used after His resurrection to prove to his disciples that He was not a spirit but that He had a physical body. "It is I myself! Touch me and see. . ." (Luke 24:39). First John 1:2 is an expansion of what John said in verse 1. "This one who is life from God was shown to us, and we have seen him." Jesus, the source of our life, has been manifested, and His existence, death, or resurrection cannot be denied!

    ". . . And now we testify and announce to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was shown to us. . . . And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy will be complete" (I John 1:2b, 3b-4 NLT).

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Birthday America

Happy Birthday America!

 Good Morning:
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. . . . May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you" (Psalm 33:12, 22 NIV).
Let's remember the real meaning of Independence Day, July 4, as we celebrate the 236th birthday of our beloved United States of America.
Primarily the work of Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence was America's proclamation to the world "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."  And it held that the purpose of government is to "secure these rights," not to  determine what rights the people can enjoy.
"What is revolutionary about the Declaration of Independence is not that a particular group of Americans declared their independence under particular circumstances, but that they did so by appealing to -- and promising to base their particular government on -- a universal standard of justice."  -- Matthew Spalding
The Fourth of July is a great opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in what Thomas Jefferson called "the declaratory charter of rights."
Let's remember to make God our LORD and put our hope and trust in Him -- that we may continue to receive God's blessings as a nation worthy of His favor and protection.  Hear the last verse of "My Country, Tis of Thee:"
Our fathers' God, to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing:
Long may our land be bright With Freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!
Dotse and I wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable Holiday as we celebrate together the wonderful freedoms we enjoy.  The next devotional will be on Friday, July 6th.
Love, Jerry & Dotse