Saturday, December 15, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We hope the spirit of Christmas will fill your heart with love, peace, and joy during this holiday season and throughout the New Year!

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11 NIV).

Love, Jerry and Dotse

Friday, December 14, 2012

God Cares For You

Chuckle:  A little boys prayer:  "Dear God, please take care of my daddy and mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me.  Oh, please take care of yourself, God.  If anything happens to you, we're gonna be in a big mess!"
Good Quote:  "The love of God is like the Amazon River flowing down to water a single daisy."  --Unknown Author
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you" (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). 
The Christmas season is a time of happiness, rejoicing, and excitement for many; but for others it is a time of loneliness, worry, anxiety, stress, and even fear.  You may have lost a loved one this year and this will be your first Christmas without him or her.  You may have lost your job and are suffering through difficult times financially.  You may be worried about not having money to buy gifts for those you love.  You may be suffering with health issues and are fearful of what the future holds.  Any of these unpleasant conditions can cause you to withdraw from those who love you and feel sorry for yourself.  You may be tempted to wallow in self-pity.
Before you let yourself slip into the pits emotionally, stop for a moment and reflect on the goodness of the God we serve.  "Give your worries to the Lord, and he will take care of you.  He will never let good people down"  (Psalm 55:22 NCV).  Claim God's promises and let go of those debilitating fears and anxieties.  If you insist in holding on to your worries, they will prevent you from enjoying the life and blessings God has given you.  Like the old hymn says: "Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there."  
Rejoice because God loves you and is genuinely concerned about what's going on in your life.  Others may fail you, but God will not.  Don't submit yourself to circumstances but to the Lord who controls circumstances.  He specializes in helping you deal with even the most severe difficulties and can give you His joy as He carries those burdens for you.  Claim and believe God's promise that He loves you and will take care of you.
Two young girls were talking, and one said she had ten pennies.  The other girl looked into her hand and only saw five.  She said, "you only have five pennies."  The first girl replied, "I have five and my father told me he would give me five more tonight.  So I have ten."  She understood that her father's promise was as good as done."  
Regardless of your circumstances this Christmas, just remember that God loves you greatly and wants to carry your burdens for you.  Your Father's promises are trustworthy and as good as kept. 
Love, Jerry & Dotse       

Friday, December 7, 2012

Forgiving Ourselves

Chuckle:  One worker to another: "How long have you been working here?"  Answer: "Since they threatened to fire me." 
Good Quote:  "Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude."  --Martin Luther King
"Everyone who believes in him (Jesus) will have their sins forgiven through his name"  (Acts 10:43).
I believe our ability to forgive ourselves of things in our past is dependent upon our understanding and acceptance of God's forgiveness.  The Bible tells us in many places that God will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us if we believe (trust, have faith) in Jesus Christ. It tells us that our sins will be removed as far as the east is from the west and that they will be remembered against us no more.  Of course we know that this forgiveness is dependent up our confessing our sins and in an attitude of remorse and repentance, asking God to forgive us.  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse (purify) us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Some accept the truth that God forgives the sins of others, but have difficulty believing that God could ever forgive them.  They may say, "I've done some pretty terrible things in my life -- how can God ever forgive me?"  They may feel they don't deserve God's forgiveness.  If you think your sins are just too awful for God to forgive, you will never be able to forgive yourself.  If you cannot accept the fact that God will forgive you, that sense of guilt and shame for your past mistakes/sins will continue to haunt and control your life.  This guilt can take away your peace, joy, and assurance of God's love and the love of others.  You may feel you do not deserve to be loved either by God or by other people.  Such a mind-set can lead to depression, self-pity, and withdrawal from those who love you most. 
We must learn to believe God when He promises complete forgiveness regardless of the dimensions of our sin.  You may not feel forgiven, but you must take God at His Word that His forgiveness is complete.  Remember that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins by shedding His precious blood on Calvary's cross.  If you know Christ as Savior and Lord, your sins are covered by His atoning blood sacrifice.  To doubt God's ability, or willingness, to forgive your sins is to put limits on God's power and to belittle His promises.
If you know Christ as Savior, "You are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault" (Colossians 1:22).  God says, "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it.  I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow" (Isaiah 1:18).  Take God at His word, trust Him, and accept His forgiveness.  Then ask Him to give you the strength to forgive yourself as He has forgiven you.  Accept God's forgiveness and let go of the past -- then your joy will return!
Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Delighting in God's Word

Chuckle:  "Billy Graham once said that heaven would be like a big family reunion that never ends. Makes you shudder to think what hell must be like!" 
Good Quote:  "There are two ways to study the Bible:  Studying it with your mind made up or studying it to let it make up your mind." --Author Unknown
"But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night"  (Psalm 1:2 NIV).
Here, the Psalmist is referring to godly people whose hearts and minds are focused on the things of God.  What in your life brings you the most joy -- the most delight?  We live in a world focused on material things and satisfying our physical appetites as the means to bring us complete happiness.  As believers, we can easily be drawn into seeking fulfillment and joy somewhere other than in our relationship with our Lord.
In our passage, we see that the source of delight to the godly is in the Word of the Lord.  How can this be?  Isn't it strange that, in our selfish world, a simple book of paper and ink could be the source of such pleasure and fulfillment?  The more we delight in studying and obeying God's Word, the more fruitful we will become.  On the other hand, the more we allow the values of a world that ridicules God to affect our thoughts and attitudes, the more we separate ourselves from our source of spiritual nourishment and inexplicable peace and joy.
We experience delightful lives when we become so closely related to God that we find pleasure in the habitual, daily study of God's revelation of Himself -- the Word.  Back to my question: "What in your life brings you the most joy?"  If God's Word is not a joy to you, perhaps your are a tourist rather than an explorer.
    "There is a basic difference between an explorer and a tourist.  The tourist travels quickly, stopping only to observe the highly noticeable or publicized points of interest.  The explorer, on the other hand, takes his time to search out all that he can find.  Too many of us read the Bible like a tourist and then complain that our devotional times are fruitless.  It is necessary that we take time to explore the Bible.  Then notable nooks and crannies will appear as we get beneath the surface."  --Unknown Author
We can literally hear the awesome voice of God in His Word through which he reveals truths about Himself including His character, love, and will to those who delight in Him.  Remember, "All (every part of) Scripture is God-breathed and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives" (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Believing God

Chuckle:  A preacher asked for a discount at a store saying, "You know I'm a poor preacher." "I know," said the storekeeper. "I heard you last night!"
Good Quote:   “It was a Person that God gave, it is a Person that we need, and it is a Person that we accept by faith.  --Walter Lewis Wilson
    Jesus said, ". . . whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (have faith) that you have received it and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24 NIV).  "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, . . . But when he asks, he must believe (have faith) and not doubt," (James 1:6 NIV).  
Think back with me to yesterday -- from the time you awoke until you went to bed last night.  How many times did you face issues in your life, when you felt inadequate and lacking in wisdom to deal with the situation you were facing?  If, after reflecting on this question, you answer "none," then you probably went through the day depending entirely upon your own strength and wisdom to make decisions and deal with issues you faced.  You see, even if we think we know the best answer to a problem, or the best way to handle a situation, we may be settling for second best wisdom -- ours. 
From our two passages above, we see that believing (having faith) is essential for God to answer our prayers and grant our requests.  Faith is believing God and acting on that belief.  "If God says it, I believe it, and I will ask him about it!"  When you pray, do you do so with expectation and confidence that God will answer, or is prayer just one more possibility among other sources you depend upon for wisdom and strength in your daily life?  Maybe you pray something like this: "OK, Lord, I'm asking, but I don't really believe you will answer my prayer.  What kind of faith is that???
A doubting Christian is one who says, he trusts God, but really doesn't.  He says he has faith but he really doesn't.  He is divided inside.  God says he is "double-minded."  "That person (without faith) should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded person, unstable in all he does" (James 1:7-8 NIV).
A double-minded Christian is one who knows Christ as Savior and is going to heaven, but on a daily basis does not have the faith to trust God to grant his or her request for wisdom to guide his or her life.  We can pray all night to no avail unless we believe and have faith.  As we mature in our Christian life, our faith should grow as well.  What is it in your life that holds you back from believing God and exercising your faith in Him?
    "At a circus a huge elephant was tied to an eighteen-inch stake. Could he not easily have pulled it out of the ground and been free? Sure! But he had tried it when he was a baby and was unsuccessful. The elephant had concluded that he could never pull it out of the ground. So there he stood, a massive creature capable of lifting whole trees, yet held captive by a puny stake. What small stake could faith release you from?" 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, December 3, 2012

Devotion to Christ

Chuckle:  A fella I hadn't seen in quite a while, said to me, "I thought you were dead!" "No," I said, "but I do have many of the symptoms." 
Ponder this:  "We would often be ashamed of our best actions if the world only knew the motives behind them."   --Francois De La Rochefoucauld
    "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 NIV).
Have you given much thought to what it means to be fully devoted to Christ?  In his Gettysburg Address, while dedicating the cemetery there, Abraham Lincoln used these words in reference to the soldiers buried there:  "They gave the last full measure of devotion" to their country.  A devotion so great that one would willingly give his life for the object of that devotion grabs our attention and causes us to reflect on our own level of devotion.  
Paul realized that Christ gave His last full measure of devotion when He died that we might live.  He also recognized that to become like Christ should be the goal of every believer.  In our passage, Paul says, in essence, that his old self had been crucified (died) so that Christ could become his life by living in him and through him.  This is an awesome concept, and one that every Christian should aspire to live out.  It means removing self so completely that our lives become Christ living in and through us.  People will see Christ when they see how we talk and act.
Obviously, the first step in becoming completely devoted to Christ is to trust him by faith as Savior. ". . . man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ" (verse 16).  Saul (Paul) had previously worked hard to please God by observing and enforcing God's Old Testament laws -- trying to live the "good" life.  In his zeal to serve God, he became a chief persecutor of early Christians.  However, when he met Christ, he came to realize that living by a set of rules was inadequate, and that he could be reconciled to God only by faith in Jesus Christ.  When he gave his heart and life to Christ, his old self died, and now it is Christ living in him.  When Christ died, our sins died with Him and relationally we have become one with Christ.  Now His experiences are ours.
It was Christ's love and sacrifice for him, that motivated Paul in his devotion to him.  Because we have been crucified with Christ, we have been reconciled to God and are free to grow in Christ's likeness.  And in our daily lives, we have Christ's resurrection power as we continue to fight against sin.  We are no longer alone because now Christ lives in us -- He is our strength for living and our hope for the future.  What is your level of devotion to the Christ who gave His last full measure of devotion to us?
Love, Jerry & Dotse