Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Way Out When Tempted


Chuckle:  "A pastor had a lady in his church who was so into TV soap operas that she would even mention some of the characters in prayer on Wednesday nights."
 
Good Quote:   “Temptation usually comes in through a door that has deliberately been left open.  --Unknown source 
 
A WAY OUT WHEN TEMPTED
 
"When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so you will not give in to it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).
 
No doubt you and I will be tempted to sin many times today and every day.  We are all tempted as long as we are alive.  We need not feel guilty about being tempted because even Jesus was tempted.  "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18 NIV).  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin" (Hebrews 5:15 NIV).  The issue is not whether or not we will be tempted to sin; that's a given.  The issue is how do we react when tempted. 
 
The word translated as "tempted" sometimes means "tested."  Sometimes God allows us to be tempted to test our spiritual metal.  We know that when we are tested, God's purpose is to strengthen our faith and dependence upon Him.  God tested Abraham's faith and obedience by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering.  However, it was never God's intention for Isaac to be killed -- it was a test to strengthen Abraham.  You will remember that God provided a ram at the last moment after Abraham had proven his loyalty to God.  Abraham passed the test of faith. 
 
Temptations to sin are always from the evil one, never from God.  "When tempted, no one should say God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone" (James 1:13 NIV).  If you are a Christian, I'm sure Satan wrings his hands in glee when you yield to a temptation and are drawn into sin.  He not only has destroyed your joy and peace with God but he has destroyed your testimony and credibility as His ambassador.  Satan knows your sin will negatively affect others around you and bring discredit upon our Lord and His church.  But God, through His indwelling Spirit, has provided the strength for us to resist temptation.  "The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation" (2 Peter 2:9 NASB). 
 
To successfully resist Satan's temptations, turn your heart toward God and make a promise to yourself that when you face temptation you will turn away from it and take that temptation to God and receive His strength to resist it.  He will show you the terrible consequences if you yield and sin; but He will also show you the way out, in His strength, and lead you to be victorious in every situation.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

God of Second Chances


Chuckle:  "I'm seventy five years old.  Forget about the health food . . . I need all the preservatives I can get!"
 
Good Quote:  “Jesus is the only one who can bring us to forgiveness. He waits for us to turn our hearts over to him; then he performs the healing, changing, finishing miracles.  --Holly Metcalf 
 
GOD GIVES SECOND CHANCES
 
    Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you" (Jonah 3:1-2 NIV).
 
I'm sure you remember the account of a prophet of God named Jonah.  God told him to go and preach to the wicked people of Nineveh -- cruel arch- enemies of Israel.  Jonah refused and ran from God in the opposite direction from Nineveh.  As he sailed from Joppa toward a city called Tarshish, he was thrown overboard to save the ship in a violent storm, and was swallowed by a giant fish.  It was inside the fish that Jonah repented and God gave him a second chance by having the fish deposit him on dry land.  Jonah did as God had commanded and the people of Nineveh repented.  
 
You may remember how Simon Peter denied Jesus on the night He was arrested and swore that he did not even know Jesus.  Jesus had predicted his denial even when Peter said he would never do such a thing.  Peter denied Jesus three times during the night before the rooster crowed as Jesus had predicted.  The Bible says when Peter heard the rooster he went out and wept bitterly.  But Jesus forgave him and gave him another chance.  Peter didn't blow it this time, and he became one of the early stalwarts of the Christian faith.
 
Most of us can vouch for the fact that we serve a God of second chances -- or maybe third, fourth, or fifth chances.  You may have disobeyed God, wandered away from Him and His church, and are living as if you don't even know Jesus.  If so, you may be thinking that God will give up on you and will not forgive you.  But that's not the way the heart of God works.  He loves you and like a shepherd searching for a wandering sheep, or a father searching for his prodigal son, will welcome you back into the fold of His fellowship and His church.
 
It is by God's grace, love, and mercy that he grants wayward Christians second chances.  The Bible says, "I urge you not to receive God's grace in vain" (2 Corinthians 6:1 NIV).  Do not reject God's invitation to rejoin Him in His kingdom work.  In other words, don't blow it again when God gives you a second chance.  But jump at the chance to repent of your sins and once again feel the warmth and security of God's love and forgiveness, and enjoy the fellowship with God's people.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One Little Candle


Chuckle:  Sign in a small cafe with great food and an attitude: "If you can't smell it, we ain't got it!"
 
Great Quote:  "Your light is the truth of the Gospel message itself as well as your witness as to who Jesus is and what He has done for you.  Don't hide it." --Anne Graham Lotz
 
ONE LITTLE CANDLE
 
    "Don't hide your light under a basket!  Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father"  (Matthew 5:15-16 NLT).
 
During the recent general election, I'm sure many decided that "my one vote won't make any difference, so why bother."  If you allowed this kind of logic to rob you of the privilege and satisfaction of exercising one of our most precious rights as citizens, I hope you will reconsider next time.  If the millions of Americans had voted, who did not vote, the outcome might have been different in many races.  A single vote does make a difference.
 
Sadly, I think many Christians have a similar attitude about the importance of their testimony and witness for Christ.  It's easy to say, "I'm just one little insignificant candle and the light of my witness won't make much difference in this world of darkness.  I think this is one of Satan's most insidious tactics -- to make you think you are useless to God so why even try to serve Him. 
 
The great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody said, "Remember, a small light will do a great deal when it is in a very dark place.  Put one little tallow candle in the middle of a large hall, and it will give a great deal of light." 
 
Jesus is the Light of the world, and it is our duty to let His light be reflected through us by our words and actions that honor Him and communicate His love to others.  I'm reminded of an old hymn that goes like this:
 
While passing thro' this world of sin, And others your life shall view,
Be clean and pure without, within, Let others see Jesus in you.
Keep telling the story, Be faithful and true, Let others see Jesus in you.
 
During a recent Christmas candlelight service, I was reminded that the light of individual Christians can have a significant impact on those around them.  But when the lights of all Christians are shining in unison, great areas of darkness can be bathed in the light of Christ's love.  Please don't ever underestimate your importance as a single candle in Christ's "Light Brigade!"  I heard someone say, "It's far better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness." 
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, January 28, 2013

Be Still and Know


Chuckle:  The judge looked sternly at the two men in his court and asked, "Can't this case be settled out of court"?  One of the men replied, "Your honor, we were trying to do that when the police came."
 
Good Quote:  "If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot."  --John Bunyan 
 
BE STILL AND KNOW
 
    "Be still (silent, quiet), and know that I am God"  (Psalm 46:10 NIV).  "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything"  (Psalm 46:10 MSG). 
 
Just saying the words, "be still," or "stillness" is calming and soothing to our minds and bodies.  But, I must admit, I'm not very good at just being still, are you?  If you are like most people these days, your life is in a constant state of hustle and bustle and you feel as if you're always behind the power curve.  You may not be getting enough sleep.  You may be constantly running out of time before you exhaust your list of things you think need to be done.  You may find it increasingly difficult just to find stillness, peace, and quiet.  We all need some down time in a peaceful and restful oasis where we can put down our burdens and refresh our minds and hearts.
 
 In our passage, God is telling His people to take time each day to be still and quietly consider who He is, and to exalt/honor Him.  He further says, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  When we step back from the frustrations and cares that beset us and spend some quiet time reflecting on God's love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness, we will want to fall at His feet with thanksgiving and adoration.  Then He will affirm that He is the Almighty and has everything under control.  Just think how comfortable you feel when you know everything that bothers you is being taken care of -- when you become aware that everything is going to be alright.  When we trust in our Lord, everything will be alright. 
 
When we begin to grasp the power and sovereignty of Almighty God, we will want to serve Him and learn more of Him each day.  Today, be still and focus your heart and mind on God, and His presence will become increasingly real to you and His power will protect you and give you peace even in the worst times of turmoil and uncertainty.
 
Heart surgeon, Michael E. DeBakey, once observed: "For me, the solitude of early morning is the most precious time of day.  There is the quiet serenity that disappears a few hours later with the hustle and bustle of the multitude.  Early morning hours symbolize for me a rebirth; the anxieties, frustrations, and woes of the preceding day seem to have been washed away during the night.  God has granted another day of life, another chance to do something worthwhile for humanity."   
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Open Door


Chuckle:  My Mother-in Law is a master of the mixed metaphor. One day in Sunday school she outdid herself when she warned her students' parents that if they didn't teach their children properly, "their roosters would come home to croak." --Tod Smith 

Quote:  "In His love He clothes us, enfolds and embraces us; that tender love completely surrounds us, never to leave  us."  --Julian of Norwich

THE OPEN DOOR

    Jesus to the church at Philadelphia:  "I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can shut.  You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me" (Revelation 3:8 NLT).

Think with me for a moment about this amazing truth.  As a devoted follower of Christ, God has provided a door for you into His very presence, in the name of Jesus, which no power can ever close.  No one can exclude you from God's kingdom; you can never be shut out.  An open door into our homes and the presence of our families who love us gives us a sense of peace, comfort, and acceptance.  A door into God's presence is far and away more significant and reassuring because it has eternal implications.

I remember, some years ago, that a motel chain made famous the comforting phrase, "We'll leave the light on for you."  The voice of Tom Bodett had a slow folksy down home quality that assured weary travelers that the door to a clean and comfortable room would always be open for them any time of day or night.  Incidentally, on its 50th anniversary, the motel chain began using the phrase: "50 years - the light is still on." 

In this life, God fully understands that we are weak and weary travelers, but He encourages us by assuring us of the availability of His strength and protection when we obey His Word and are faithful in proclaiming His name.  God opens the door into His presence and future kingdom, and after the door is opened, it will never be closed.  No one can ever close it -- our salvation is certain.


The comforting words of Jesus, in our passage, assure us that our places in God's kingdom and presence has been eternally reserved and sealed.    Jesus is now preparing a place for us in His eternal heaven -- a place of complete joy and peace.  This is all because of God's never ending love for us.  "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).


Love, Jerry & Dotse       

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Gentle Heart


Chuckle:  "Doctor,' whined the patient. "I keep seeing spots before my eyes."  "Why have you come to me?  Have you seen an ophthalmologist?"  "No," replied the patient, "just these spots."
 
Good Quote:  "The person who does things that count doesn't usually stop to count them."  --Unknown
 
A GENTLE HEART
 
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love"  (Ephesians 4:2 NIV).
 
In Galatians 5:22, we find the fruits of the Spirit recorded.  They are the products of Christ's control of our lives by His Spirit within us.  They include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Notice that "gentleness" is one of the indicators of a Holy Spirit filled and controlled life.   
 
The word "gentleness" suggests the yielding of a judge, who, instead of demanding the exact penalty required by strict justice, gives way to circumstances which call for leniency and mercy.  The word also suggests mildness of manner, or easy, not rough or harsh in dealing with others.  It is closely related to "kindness."  It certainly should be one of the Christ-like qualities of every believer.  A gentle person is one to whom we are readily attracted -- one who we are comfortable being around.
 
As Christians, we are privileged that God has chosen us to be Christ's representatives here on earth.  "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV).  As such, we are challenged each day to live worthy of the calling we have received.  We are to "gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 2:25 NIV).  When we think about how gentle, patient, and loving God has been with us, we should be adequately motivated to let His attributes flow through us. 
 
The very nature of God is revealed through the life of a gentle person.  We can be sure that others are watching those of us who claim the name of Christ to see if we are genuine -- if we practice what we preach.  To be genuine, we must know Christ, love Him, remember Him, and imitate Him.  "Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins"  (Ephesians 5:2 NLT). 
 
Each day, you and I can be gentle reminders of God's love, grace, mercy, and gentleness.  Let's join our hearts in prayer that God will make us gentle and humble in the power of His Holy Spirit.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse   

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rejoicing Every Day


Good Morning:              Dr Martin Luther King

Chuckle:  "If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a misquito." --Anita Roddick

Good Quote:  “The most evident token and apparent sign of true wisdom is a constant and unconstrained rejoicing.  -- Michel de Montaigne
 
REJOICE EVERY DAY
 
    "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24 NLT).
 
I've heard people say, "I'm just not a morning person," or "don't bother me in the mornings; I'm a grouch."  Others say, "I love the early morning, and enjoy the beauty of God's creation, coming alive at daybreak."  Some rejoice at the prospect of another day of life, love, and service to family and others. 
 
Obviously, our own personal temperaments and personalities have a lot to do with the way we greet each new day.  But there is a basic truth from God's Word; each new day we live is a gift from God and should be treasured with thanksgiving and rejoicing.  You may say, "But Jerry, you don't understand; the way things are going in my life, I just don't feel like rejoicing -- I have nothing to rejoice about."  Oh, yes you do -- if you know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. 
 
Obviously, there are days when we don't feel much like rejoicing.  You may be facing yet another day of unemployment; another day of caring for a sick parent or child; another day of struggle with your own health; or another day of heartbreak in a relationship.  You may feel like Charlie Brown, pondering his plight in life, thought, "Yesterday, for one brief moment I was happy. But just when I thought I was winning in the game of life, there was a flag thrown on the play and life dealt me a blow."   
 
When the psalmist penned the words of our passage, he understood that even when life has dealt us a blow, when our mood is down, when our situation seems out of hand, or when our sorrow and guilt are overwhelming, God can still give us reason to rejoice.  I suggest that if you can't see any reason to rejoice that you be honest with God in your prayers.  Take your depression, sadness, and hurt to the one who said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). 
 
The psalmists were always honest with God and did not hesitate to express their sorrows, anxieties, fears, and doubts.  Invariably, when they opened their hearts honestly before God, they came away from that encounter with reasons to rejoice.  
 
When you don't feel like rejoicing, express your feelings to our Lord and let Him show you all the reasons you have to rejoice each and every day.  When you look at each day as another gift from God and another opportunity to live and serve Him, you will be glad and rejoice at what God has done for you through Jesus Christ.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Do We Shout in Anger?


Chuckle:  An honest seven-year old admitted calmly to her parents that Billy Brown had kissed her after class.  "How did that happen?, gasped the mother.  "It wasn't easy, but three other girls helped me catch him."

Good Quote:  "Speak when you're angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."  --Ambrose Bierce


WHY DO WE SHOUT IN ANGER?       

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:19-20 NIV).  "In your anger, do not sin:  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV).

The following was sent to me by a recipient of my daily devotionals. The wording is awkward in places but the message is clear. --Author Unknown 

A saint asked his disciples, "Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?"  The disciples thought for a while, one of them said, "Because we lose our calm, we shout for that."
"But, why shout when the other person is just next to you?" asked the saint. "Isn't it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice?  Why do you shout at a person when you're angry?"  The disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the saint.

Finally he explained, "When two people are angry at each other, their hearts are distanced a lot.  To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other.  The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance."

Then the saint asked, "What happens when two people fall in love?  They don't shout at each other but talk softly, why?  Because their hearts are very close.  The distance between them is very small..."  The saint continued, "When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love.  Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that's all.  That is how close two people are when they love each other."MORAL: When you argue do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance each other more, else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.

Love, Jerry  & Dotse  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Peace Beyond Description


Chuckle:  In Early America, it was not unusual for politicians to take advantage of a public hanging to address the crowd of spectators.  On one occasion, the condemned man was told that a politician was going to speak, and he said, "Could you please hang me first?"  

Good Quote:  “Peace is more important than all justice: and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace." --Martin Luther

PEACE BEYOND DESCRIPTION

    "I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me.  I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side"  (Psalm 3:5-6 NLT).
Real peace seems to be a rare commodity these days.  The absence of peace is revealed by anxiety, fear, tenseness, and sleeplessness.  Today, all sorts of medications are available just to help us get a good night's sleep.  On the other hand, calmness, contentment, and joy are all indicators of an inward peace with God and those around you.   

Are you troubled, anxious, or fretful this morning?  Is peace something you yearn for but are not experiencing?  If you answered "yes" to these questions, there is a tried and proven source of peace that the psalmist, David, had discovered -- and you can discover as well.  

Sleep does not come easily in a crisis and David was in a real crisis.  His son, Absalom had rebelled and gathered an army to defeat him and kill him.  Yet, David was able to sleep peacefully even when surrounded by his enemies because he trusted in the Lord to whom he had committed his life. 

If we truly commit our lives into God's hands and trust Him to see us through every circumstance, we too can have the peace that David had, even in the most troublesome times of our lives.  Trust in God brings us peace from God.  Also, the assurance of answered prayer brings peace. 

If you are lying awake at night worrying and fretting about circumstances over which you have no control, pour out your heart to God, and thank him that He is in complete control.  Then peace and restful sleep will come.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).  We can never avoid strife in our world, but if we fix our thoughts on God through Scripture and prayer, we can have perfect peace even in times of turmoil.  He can make us steady and stable and bring us rest even during our most severe crises.  Christ is the only source of complete, lasting, and perfect peace.

Jesus said to his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27 NIV).

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Knowing and Caring


Chuckle:  Friend: "Has your son decided what he wants to be when he grows up?  Father: "Yes, he wants to be a garbage collector.  He thinks garbage collectors only work on Tuesdays."    
 
Good Quote:  "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." --Jackie Robinson
 
KNOWING AND CARING
 
    "As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34 NIV).
 
The following is by Dr. Layne Smith, Interim Transition Specialist with the Center for Congregational Health.  He wonders if the gains we have made by being more sophisticated congregations have been lost as we seem to be less concerned about caring for people.
 
I drove up to the small, country church to attend the funeral of the grandmother of one of the church members where I currently serve. The temporary sign on wheels announcing the Easter cantata greeted me from the front lawn as I parked my car on the dirt lot. As is often the case at these rural churches, several of the men stood out on the steps of the sanctuary visiting with each other. As I walked into the tiny foyer, the funeral home employee handed me a bulletin with the order of service. On the back was the ubiquitous Psalm 23, the source of comfort and strength to so many in times of grief and need.

As I stepped into the small sanctuary, I walked into familiar territory. It was the church of my past. The open casket was there at the front in place of the communion table. The American and Christian flags framed the choir loft behind the pulpit.  Behind the choir loft was the baptistery. The painting on the back of the baptistery wall was a river scene.  There was no organ, just an out of tune piano. The modest stained glass windows had center cameos of the Baptism, the Birth, Gethsemane, Jesus teaching the Elders, the Woman at the Well, and the Crucifixion, all familiar to those raised and steeped in the rural churches of yesteryear. 
  
There was a quiet buzz of conversation. These modestly dressed folk knew each other.  It felt like community. They greeted each other quietly, yet warmly. It reminded me of a story I read years ago about Sam Rayburn who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States for seventeen years, the longest tenure in U.S. history.  If the story isn't true, it's one of those that ought to be true. 
  
The story is told that "Mr. Sam" as he was known, became ill with pancreatic cancer.  It became necessary for him to resign as Speaker of the House.  He decided to move back home to Bonham, Texas.  Someone asked him why he didn't stay in the DC area or perhaps go to New York to get the latest and greatest treatments.  "Why in the world would you go back to a little place like Bonham, Texas?" the person wanted to know.  "I want to go back because in Bonham, Texas," he said, "People know when you are sick, and they care when you die."
  
"In Bonham, Texas, people know when you are sick, and they care when you die."  That's what it felt like to attend the funeral that day. What would it take for our modern day, sophisticated churches to create an environment like that? I think it's worth considering.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Cost of Following Jesus


Chuckle:  A customer said to the salesman, "I want to try on that suit in the window." The salesman replied, "Oh, Sir, we couldn't allow that. You have to use the dressing room like everyone else."
 
Good Quote:  "God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do."  --Regina Brett 
 
THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS
 
    Another of his disciples said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father." But Jesus told him, "Follow me now! Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead" (Matthew 8:21-22 NLT).
 
The central truth of this passage is that following Jesus will cost you something.  If you profess to be a Christian and a follower of Christ, but you sacrifice nothing for the relationship with him, a heart examination is likely long over due.  In our passage, it is possible that the disciple was not asking for permission to go to his father's funeral, but rather to put off following Jesus until a more convenient time -- until his elderly father had died.
 
Jesus never minced words and was always direct with those who expressed a desire to follow him.  He always made certain they weighed the cost of discipleship and their willingness to set aside any personal reservations or conditions which might prevent them from following him wholeheartedly.  Jesus said, "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:38 NIV).
 
As God's one and only Son, Jesus did not hesitate to demand complete loyalty and devotion.  This means that nothing can be more important to us than our relationship with him.  The decision to follow Jesus should never be put off until a more convenient time.  Even when other loyalties and desires compete for our attention, they should never be allowed to become more important than our Lord.  If Jesus is your Savior, he also wants to be Lord and Master of your life.
 
As a pastor, I'm amazed at how many "Christians" claim the lordship of Christ in their lives, but, at the same time, sin against him by disobedience and letting sinful lifestyles prevent them from being fully devoted followers of Christ.  When we intentionally disobey God's Word, refuse to give up sinful practices, or let other priorities in life take precedence over our relationship with him, it calls into question our very salvation experience.  For a Christian, it is not enough to talk the talk, but we must walk the walk.  "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come"  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).
 
At the beginning, I said following Jesus will cost you something.  But let me add, it will not cost you anything worthwhile when compared to the rewards of joy, peace, and contentment that come to fully devoted followers of Christ.  Once we surrender completely to him, everything that was once so important becomes abhorrent to us.  The apostle Paul writes, "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared to the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  I have discarded everything else, counting it all garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him . . ." (Philippians 3:8 NLT).
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse
 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

We Should Not Worry


Chuckle:  Worry is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere. 
 
Ponder this:  Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday and Tomorrow is the day you should not worry about today. 
 
WHY YOU SHOULDN'T WORRY
 
    "Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus"  (Philippians 4:6 NLT).
 
It certainly is easy to find things to worry about these days.  The economy, health issues, crime, terrorism, etc., provide us plenty of fodder to feed our worry- prone minds.  But, as Christians, we need to understand that God's Word tells us not to worry and that worry is the antithesis of faith.  Faith is trusting God in all things and worry indicates a lack of trust and dependence upon Him. 
 
So, to worry indicates a deficiency in our faith.  It indicates that you believe you should have the ability to fix things in your own strength.  But when you realize that you can't, the temptation is to just continue worrying and fretting about it.  There is a difference between genuine concern and worry.  Being concerned about something will mobilize you to take some form of positive action; but worry tends to immobilize you and prevent worthwhile actions. 
 
If you are a chronic worrier, I'm sure you have been amazed by how often many of the "terrible" things you dream up to worry about never come to pass, or are much less severe than you imagined.  Because there are so many ruinous effects of worry, Jesus, Himself, said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. . Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life. . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself" (Matthew 6:25, 27, 34 NIV).
 
John Wesley, the eighteenth century Anglican preacher, theologian, and founder of the Methodist movement, had this to say about worry.  "I could no more worry than I could curse or swear."  Oh that each of us Christians could say this about ourselves.  But instead many of us continue to suffer the debilitating consequences of worry and anxiety.  These may include: (1) damaging your health due to stress, (2) reducing your productivity, (3) negatively affecting the way you treat others, and ultimate (4) reducing your ability to trust in God and His promises.
 
A great goal for the new year would be, with God's help, to reduce then finally eliminate worry from your mind.  Just think about the happiness and peace you could experience if worry was no longer a dominant factor in your life.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

More New Year Thoughts


Chuckle:  "If absence makes the heart grow fonder," said a minister, "a lot of folks must really love our church."

Good Quote:  "No one is in charge of your happiness, except you." --Regina Brett 

MORE NEW YEAR THOUGHTS

    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). "First, go and be reconciled to your brother/sister; then come and give your gift" (Matthew 5:24).

Avoid Holding Grudges"God would have us learn to forgive and forget.  A person is not only what he remembers, but also what he forgets.  A wise old man once said: "There ain't no burden so heavy as carrying a grudge."  Anger and bitterness are poisons like strychnine.  They build up slowly in you until they eventually destroy you emotionally and spiritually.  If Jesus could forgive those who crucified him, surely his Spirit in us will give us the strength to forgive and put all grudges aside.  Don't lug into the new year your resentments, hard feelings, hates, frustrations, disappointments, or regrets.  If you want this to be a great year, forgive and forget.

Face Adversity with CourageAdversity is a part of life.  Although unpleasant, it can make us stronger and wiser in our faith.  Jesus made this promise to us: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 NIV).  There's no escaping adversity.  We all must go through it.  But, we can do so with the strength and courage that comes from our deep faith and commitment to our Lord.

Keep a Sense of HumorWe don't have to go through life moaning and groaning.  We can look on the bright side - we can be positive and optimistic.  It's a choice.  Abraham Lincoln said: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."  We especially need to learn to laugh at ourselves.  Often we take ourselves much to seriously.  "A happy heart makes the face cheerful" (Proverbs 15:13 NIV).  So, we would do well to cultivate a cheerful disposition to be happy this year.  It will also make life much more pleasant for those around us.

Put Your Life in God's HandsWe cannot know the future, and make a mistake by presuming tomorrow.  Today is all we have with certainty. "What is your life? you are like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 3:14b NIV).  Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).  Take your hand of faith and put it in his hand of grace, and as you do, remember: You can spend your life any way you like. But you can only spend it once!

Will you approach this new year with an attitude of excitement and a new commitment to our Lord?  If you follow these suggestions, I believe it will be the best year of your life.  (1) Live one day at a time. (2) Live as if it is the last year of your life. (3) Live and let happiness surprise you. (4) Live without holding grudges. (5) Face adversity with courage. (6) Keep a sense of humor. (7) Put your life in God's hands.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Life is Fragile


Chuckle:  Husband: "Do you have any idea how many really great people there are in this country?" Wife: "No, I don't, but I'm sure it's one less than you think." 

Good Quote:  “Time wasted is existence; used is life.   --Edward Young

LIVE THIS YEAR AS IF IT IS YOUR LAST

    "Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath" (Psalm 39:4-5 NIV).  "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14 NIV).

I don't mean to be morbid, but it seems appropriate that we should live the new year with a view toward the end of our lives.  We would be wise to pause and think about how we would want to be remembered -- about what is important in life.  I think most of us will want people to remember us as someone who made a difference in the lives of others.  Once we've decided how we want to be remembered, then we should work our way backwards to the present and  start doing those things for which we want to be remembered: loving, caring, serving, giving.

Robert Morris said, "I hate funerals and would not attend my own if it could be avoided, but it is well for every person to stop once in a while to think of what sort of a collection of mourners he is training for his final event."

We should live and let happiness surprise us.  Happiness will surprise us if we give ourselves to others.  Jesus, in the upper room, wrapped a towel around his waist, took a basin of water, and washed his disciples feet.  He assumed the role of a common servant and said to his disciples:   "I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done for you" (John. 13:15).  Then Jesus concluded, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed (happy) if you do them" (John. 13:17).

I believe Jesus knew that happiness is like a butterfly.  The more you chase it, the more it flies away and the more elusive it becomes.  But if you stoop and serve, it will light on you unexpectedly.  The happiest people are serving people -- happiness just sneaks into their lives, sometimes when they least expect it.  Real happiness is a by-product of a well lived life -- as was modeled by Jesus.

The deaf, blind, and mute Helen Keller put it this way: "I find life an exciting business -- and most exciting when it is lived for others."  Danny Glover had this to say: "We make a living by what we do. We make a life by what we give."  If we live as if this year might be our last by serving others, 2013 will be the best year of our lives.

Love, Jerry & Dotse