Thursday, September 13, 2012

Prayers of Intercession

Chuckle:  "If all the people who sleep in church were laid end to end -- they'd be a lot more comfortable!"
Good Quote:  "Intercession is, by amazing grace, an essential element in God's redeeming purpose -- so much so that without it the failure of it's accomplishment may lie at our door."  --Andrew Murray
     "Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16 NIV).       

The story is told of a young girl who said, "Lord, I am not going to pray for myself today; I am going to pray for others." But at the end of her prayer she added, "And please give my mother a handsome son-in-law!"
We just can't seem to end a prayer without asking something for ourselves.  However, when we become disciplined enough to pray for others, we become partners with God in His work of salvation, healing, comfort, and justice.  Of course, God can accomplish those things without us, but in His plan we are given the privilege of being involved with Him through prayer. 

When we intercede for someone in trouble, facing surgery, who needs Christ, has lost a loved one, or a pastor who needs strength, we are asking God to provide for that person what we cannot give them ourselves.  We are interceding for God to direct His power in a specific direction for a specific person for a specific reason/need.

Prayer is not a magic wand for satisfying our own desires and wishes, but it's a God-given opportunity to work with the Lord in accomplishing His purposes.  "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14 NIV).

You may not feel like praying for others because you are so in need of prayer yourself.  However, there is a basic truth about God's kingdom; we find healing for ourselves by ministering on behalf of others.  Many of us go to church looking for healing that will make us whole and make us more effective ministers for our Lord. 
But Jesus wants us to get out there, with all of our own needs, and minister to others.  When we do this, it's amazing how we will find the needed healing and strength which we're seeking!  Fervent intercessory prayer for others, that comes from a pure heart, will result in God doing mighty things in the lives of both the intercessor and the one for whom he/she is interceding.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pitfalls of Pride

Chuckle:  Teacher:  "Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?"  Harold:  "A teacher." 
Quote:  "If he could see how small a vacancy his death would leave, the proud man would think less of the place he occupies."  --Ernest LeGouve
PITFALLS OF PRIDE              
    "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit among the oppressed than to share the plunder with the proud" (Proverbs 16:18-19 NIV). "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2 NIV).
Pride is the antithesis of humility.  Bible teacher and pastor, M. R. De Haan, said this about humility: "Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have."  Pride is at the root of all sins and is a terrible enemy of the Christian.  Ironically, proud people seldom realize that pride is their problem, although everyone around them is well aware of it.  The Bible says that God hates pride.  That's why, when it pops up in our lives, God brings things into our lives to humble us, and make us more dependent upon Him.
Pride lays at the root of Adam and Eve's downfall and our own.  C.S. Lewis said, "It was through pride that the devil became the devil."  Pride has become entrenched in our human nature; we think we can make it through life in our own strength and ingenuity.  We should remember that God is the source of everything we are and have.  None of us has reason to be proud.

So how can we overcome pride and replace it with humility?  We begin by putting ourselves into proper perspective, seeing ourselves as God sees us.  When we look to God, we grasp our unworthiness.  Yet humility doesn't come from putting ourselves down.  It comes from acknowledging and glorifying God, seeing Him as the source of all we are and all we have.  In His love, God accepts us unconditionally and lifts us to higher ground.  He shows us that we are His children, made in His image, and adopted into His family as sons and daughters!

Another antidote to pride is gratitude.  Whenever we accomplish anything in life, we can choose to be proud or grateful.  As we realize that we accomplish nothing without God, we must choose gratitude, giving the glory to Him for all He does for us.

We can't have prideful hearts and maintain a right relationship with God.  God doesn't need our accomplishments, nor is He interested in our vainglory.  He wants us!  Christ wants us to cultivate humble hearts that bow before His grace and His cross - the ultimate example of humility.  Someone once said, "Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself one way or the other at all."  Today, reflect on yourself in relationship with God and thank Him for all He has accomplished in your life.  Bring your achievements to Him in gratitude and lay them at His feet, while blessing Him for His goodness to you.
    "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, September 10, 2012

Be Accommodating to Others

Chuckle:  A little boy found a leaf pressed between the pages of an old family Bible. "Mom," he called, "look what I found!"  "It's Adam's clothes!"   
Quote:  "When a man realizes that he is a beloved child of the Creator of all, then he is ready to see his neighbors in the world as brothers and sisters."  --Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury
"If someone forces (compels) you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you" (Matthew 5:41-42 NIV).
Among the meanings of the word, "accommodate," is: "to fit in with  someone's wishes or demands in a helpful way."  In our passage, the words of Jesus remind us of our obligation to go the extra mile to be accommodating to others when they compel/require us to do something or ask a favor of us.  The same principle applies when we become aware of a need that we have the resources to meet.     
If we are too busy or indifferent to the needs of others, we may turn down their cries for help or reluctantly do precisely what someone requests of us, but nothing more -- just enough to satisfy the request and clear our consciences.  Jesus tells us to do more than is requested or expected. 
We may have our day completely planned out with no time to spare, and then God brings someone across our path with a request or need that would require us to change our plans to grant the request or meet the need.  According to Jesus' words, in our passage, what should be our attitude?
Even though it may be difficult or inconvenient at times to go the extra mile, doing so can be the key to success in your business, your marriage, your church, or other relationships.  I'm sure you have come face to face with a rigid, uncaring, unyielding, or an unaccommodating  person.  What is your reaction to that person?  You see, our Lord has instructed Christians to put others ahead of our personal desires or plans even when it is inconvenient and costs us valuable time, effort, and other resources.
Jesus expands the teaching of accommodation in Luke 6:27-36 where He tells us to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, and give to anyone beyond what they ask.  To me, the message for Christians is to always do the unexpected in the eyes of the secular world.  He wants us to show that our ability to love and respond to others is unlimited in the same way God's love for us is unlimited.  Returning good for evil and going the extra mile will give credibility to our witness for our Lord.  Jesus teaches us to be accommodating to others in all circumstances, even to our enemies.
"And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit it that to you?  Even sinners do that. . . . But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, . . ." (Luke 6:33, 35 NIV).  
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Justice God's Way

Chuckle:  "Never trust a faith healer who walks with a limp!"
Ponder This:  "Justice is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together.  --Daniel Webster
JUSTICE GOD'S WAY                      
    "But how terrible it will be for you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things" (Luke 11:42 NLT).
When you hear the term, "justice," what image crosses your mind?  If you are like many of us, you may think of justice as someone getting what he/she has coming -- what is deserved.  When we talk about bringing someone to justice, we often mean that if someone is guilty, justice is giving the so-and-so the maximum punishment allowable by law.  But justice also means treating people fairly and giving them unbiased consideration and kindness. 
Justice with love and kindness is the picture of God's justice as he deals with us.  The problem Jesus found with the Pharisees was that they were focusing on the outward appearances of being religious but ignoring the inner condition of their hearts which governed their treatment of people.  Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.
If God treated us with justice only, he would be justified in punishing us forever because of our sins and rebellion against him. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord"  (Romans 3:23; 6:23 NIV).  God's view of justice is different from ours.  His is always tempered with love, compassion, mercy, and grace.  Instead of dispensing justice based on our sins, and fairly giving us what we deserve, he has provided a way for us to receive the blessed benefits of his mercy and grace. 
The most obvious demonstration of God's view of justice is the sending of his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins and to make us beneficiaries of his love and forgiveness. "God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 NIV).
    The story has been told of a man who was caught and taken to court because he had stolen a loaf of bread. When the judge investigated, he found out that the man had no job, and his family was hungry. He had tried unsuccessfully to get work and finally, to feed his family, he had stolen a loaf of bread. Although recognizing the extenuating circumstances, the judge said, "I'm sorry, but the law can make no exceptions. You stole, and therefore I have to punish you. I order you to pay a fine of ten dollars." He then continued, "But I want to pay the fine myself." He reached into his pocket, pulled out a ten-dollar bill, and handed it to the man.
    As soon as the man took the money, the judge said, "Now I also want to remit the fine." That is, the man could keep the money. "Furthermore, I am going to instruct the bailiff to pass a hat to everyone in this courtroom, and I am fining everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a city where a man has to steal in order to have bread to eat." The money was collected and given to the defendant.
    This is an excellent example of justice being meted out in full and paid in full -- while mercy and grace were also enacted in full measure. 
Love, Jerry & Dotse