Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why Should We Be Patient? Part 2

Chuckle:  "Be patient when a person growls at you; he may be living with a bear!"  
Quote:  "Patience and diligence, like faith remove mountains."  --William Penn 
    "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near"  (James 5:7-8 NIV).
Last time, we saw that we should be patient because: (1) We know Jesus is coming back; (2) Patience is rewarded; and (3) God is working out His plans for our lives until Jesus returns.  So, what should we be doing while we patiently wait for Christ's return?  Here are a few thoughts.
    1. Wait with expectation: After planting, a farmer waits patiently and expectantly looks forward to the harvest.  He understands that he cannot hurry the process along; but while he waits, he plows a field getting it ready for next year.  He cleans out his barns so they will be ready for the harvest.  He believes God is going to give him a harvest. 
When we wait on God, we don't sit and do nothing, but are actively working to strengthen our marriages, to make our homes more godly places, to see our family and friends come to Christ.  We should be busy in God's kingdom while we trust and wait upon Him.  Psalm 135 says, "I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for He has promised."  Jesus said: "According to your faith, may it be unto you"  (Matthew 9:29 NIV).  Trust Him expectantly.

    2. Wait with quietness: James warns: "Don't grumble about each other, my brothers and sisters, or God will judge you. For look! The great judge is coming. He is standing at the door" (James 5:9 NLT).  We have so much and appreciate it so little.  I think we have become a nation of grumblers and complainers.  Don't blame God or everyone else for problems in your life, but accept responsibility for your own actions, and as you wait quietly, trust in our Lord.

    3. Wait with confidence: Job had confidence in God, not matter what.  The Omnipotent God knew what He was doing in Job's life.  Jesus had confidence that His Father would raise Him from the dead.  We can have a quiet confidence that comes from a daily walk with our Lord.  The Bible says "patience" is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  Allow Him to teach you how to be patient.  We know with certainty and confidence that Jesus will return when the time is right.  However, it is His desire that all people hear the gospel prior to his return.  He doesn't want anyone to miss an opportunity to know Him and welcome His return.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Should We Be Patient

Chuckle:  A cop to a speeder: "Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."
Quote:  "Patience may be defined as that quality of life which makes suffering creative; and impatience as that whereby suffering becomes a destructive force." --Robert Llewelyn
WHY SHOULD WE BE PATIENT?                
   "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. . . You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near" (James 5:7a-8 NIV).

    We should be patient because Jesus is coming back.  I have a news flash for you today!  The same Jesus who walked in Galilee, who healed the sick and raised the dead, who died on the cross for our sins, and who miraculously arose from the dead on the third day is coming back.  That same Jesus is coming again.  What better reason could we have to stand firm and be patient.  Shout  Halleluiah if you wish!!!

That's why we can get excited about waiting -- about standing firm -- about being patient -- about persevering.  When Jesus ascended into heaven the angel of the Lord said: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky. This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11 NIV).  He's going to make things right and show us the eternal truths of His kingdom.  That's why we can have patience -- that's why we can wait.  Things here on earth seem out of our control but our Heavenly Father is in control.  He will send His Son back to earth at His appointed time.

    We should be patient because patience is rewarded. "As you know, we consider blessed those that have endured (been patient, persevered)"  (James 5:11 NIV).  Job was ultimately blessed because he had patience as were the prophets.  Our patience will cause us to grow strong -- it will cause us grow in wisdom -- and to be a tower of strength in God's kingdom and in his church.  Jesus said: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV).

    We should be patient because God is working out His plans. "You have heard of job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy" (James 5:11 NIV).  God was at work in Job's situation and He is at work in yours.  Trust Him.  When you pray remember, delay is not denial.  There's a difference in God saying "no" and "not yet."  Learn to wait when you feel ready for something to happen but God isn't. . .  What should you do while you patiently wait?  Next time we'll address that question.

Love, Jerry & Dotse                

Monday, May 20, 2013

God's Great Desire

I Wonder:  "Why do drugstores make the sick walk to the back of the store for prescriptions, while healthy people buy cigarettes up front?"
Great Quote:  "The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it."   --William James 
    "God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9 NIV).
Some believe that God has elected and predestined certain people to be saved from their sins and inherit eternal life, and that others not so chosen have no chance at salvation.  However, here are some passages that prove, with certainty, that God's love and grace is universal and his salvation is available to every human being.
    "For God so loved the world (every person) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV).
    "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone (anyone) who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Romans 10:12-13 NIV).
    "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations (all people), baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age"  (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).
If God's gift of salvation were not available to all, why would Jesus send us out to make disciples of all people?  Why would Jesus say that "God so loved the world?"  Why would the Bible say that God's great desire is for all people to come to repentance?"   
Another issue for some is they view the depths of their sin as just too great for them to deserve God's love, grace, and forgiveness.  If you have ever felt this way, or know someone who does, remember:
    "All (everyone) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV).  "For the wages (what we have earned) of sin is death (eternity in Hell separated from God), but the gift of God is eternal life in (through faith in) Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23 NIV).
    "God demonstrated his own love for us in this? While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 NIV).
    "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9 NIV).
    "For it is by (God's) grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8-10 NIV).
God's great desire is that all people come to him in repentance and receive His gift of salvation.  We Christians can rejoice that our salvation was performed by an infinitely powerful, loving, and merciful God and nothing can ever separate us from His love.  God also desires that every Christian live in a close, loving, joyful, and serving fellowship with Him.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Making a Difference

Chuckle:  "Back in the sixties when the economy was suffering in England, some consideration was given to selling the Rock of Gibraltar to the French.  All negotiations were halted when the British learned the French were planning to rename it "De Gaulle Stone." 
Good Quote:  "That best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts Of kindness and love."  --William Wordsworth
"You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand" (Galatians 6:2 CEV).
Sometimes you may feel like a total failure.  You may perceive that your life is not positively impacting anyone in a meaningful way.  You may think that the routine of your day is unimportant.  You may be thinking that you should be doing more with the life God has given you.  Welcome to the club.  I suspect we all have had similar feelings.
Recently, I received a kind note from one of my devotional readers who said a particular lesson had met a specific need at a critical time in his life.  It's always good to know that our lives and ministries are having a positive impact; however, when such comments of affirmation and encouragement are not forthcoming, it's good to remember who we are serving and from whom our most important encouragement should come.  As Christians, our service is to our Lord, and we serve Him by serving others -- meeting the needs of people around us.  It is His approval that should be our motivation, not the response of the people we serve.
A sign read, "There is no limit to the good that a man can do, if he doesn't care who gets the credit."  If you really don't care who gets the credit, then you can just enjoy yourself and do all kinds of good deeds for others.  Just be glad that it is done, and don't worry about who gets the credit on earth, because your heavenly Father knows.
Just think of the lives you touch each day: your family members, neighbors,  workmates, classmates, etc.  Consider those who depend on you.  Think about the positives in your life.  The great preacher, Dwight L. Moody once wrote: "He does the most for God's great world who does the best in his own little world."  Jesus always encourages His followers to be faithful in the little things of life, as unimportant as they may seem to us. 
You are God's unique creation, with unique gifts and abilities and you can make a difference.  All around you there are people who need a hug, a pat on the back, a word of encouragement, a show of genuine love, and compassion.  Just love them as Jesus loves them.  There's no better time than the present to refocus on touching the lives of others in kindness and love.  A helping hand reveals the condition of the heart.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why Not Be Happy?

Chuckle:  What is an eyedropper (i-drop-ur)?  A clumsy ophthalmologist

Quote:  "Man still wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible." --St Augustine of Hippo


    "So I concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they can.  And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God"  (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 NLT).

God wants His people to be happy and optimistic about today and the future.  I don't think it pleases our Lord when we are grouchy, grumpy, and pessimistic Christians.  It's sometimes easier, however, for us to dwell on the things that are wrong and unpleasant in our lives than to focus on all the blessings that God gives us every day.  As I read this passage, I'm reminded of another one:  "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17 NIV).

I think we often look for happiness in the wrong places.  It's tempting for us to look at the years gone by as times of true happiness.  We may say something like, "Oh, how I wish I could go back to those good old days!"  We can fail to see all the reasons we should be happy today rather than dwelling on the past.  God wants us to enjoy life and be happy in our relationship with Him today and every day, even in the face of physical limitations, pain, heartache, financial difficulties, etc.  

You may say, "But Jerry, you don't understand.  With all my problems, I just don't have much to be happy about."  I do understand the feeling, but I'm also convinced that we sometimes let such feelings overtake us without taking inventory of the positive and happiness producing blessings available to us -- our children, grandchildren, other family members, friends, fellow believers, and most of all, a God that loves us with a love that exceeds our ability to fully understand.  

True happiness is a matter of choice.  When we chose to look to God for happiness rather than the past or our current circumstances, we are often amazed at how our attitude toward life changes and we find ourselves being happy in spite of the difficulties and challenges we face.  With the proper view of God, we will find happiness as we enjoy all the good gifts He showers on us.  What is it in your life that really makes you happy? 

"Happy the man (person) to whom 'tis given
To eat the bread of life in heaven;
This happiness in Christ we prove,

                                       Who feed on His forgiving love." --Charles Wesley Hymn       

Love, Jerry & Dotse    

Friday, May 3, 2013

Change Happens

Chuckle:  You don't need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice!!

    "This is the temple of the Lord . . . If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, . . then I will let you live . . . in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever" (Jeremiah 7:5-7 NIV).

The following is by Rev. Beth Kennett -- A good read.


     "It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."  --C. S. Lewis

Change is going on all around us, including us and in us! Change is necessary! If change does not happen, things go bad (rotten, defunct, awry, etc.). To follow with the thought from C. S. Lewis, the best-case scenario for an egg that doesn't hatch is to be eaten, to be devoured. When we think of ourselves and change, we do not want to be eaten, devoured, nor do we want to rot or become defunct. We definitely want to stretch wings and learn to fly.

There is a song that we often sing at our church, "Enter, Rejoice and Come In." One of the verses repeats the sentence, "Don't be afraid of some change." When my oldest daughter was rather young, about 3 years old, she came home from church after singing this song and asked, "Why would people be afraid of change?" I thought what a profound and deep thought 3 year old I have, only to realize that she thought the song was about coins/money. (Well, that is a thought for another blog!)

The question is appropriate, Why are people afraid of change? We can expand the question to, why are people afraid of change, even when it is good change?

When there is change, we do not always know the outcome. Even when the desired outcome is known, we do not know what will take place in our process to get there. We are afraid to do things differently. We are afraid to learn to do things differently. We are afraid that how we relate will be different and might not be as good. We are afraid that we will not like the outcome.

Change never affects only one person; when I change those around me experience change as well. The idea and fear that is wrapped up in change is compounded when a group or a system begins to change. Each person within the system carries her/his own anxiety and a corporate anxiety.

Currently, every faith community in America is experiencing change. Most are feeling a decline in members and resources. In the midst of this change, there is often an unwillingness to do anything different. If we keep doing what we have always done, things will be ok; they always were before.

The definition of change is to become or make different, pass from one state to another, substitute or replace something. Change is happening, is going to happen and needs to happen. We can stretch a bit, express our fears and concerns and discuss our desired outcomes and our wings will develop and we will be able to fly. Or, we can resist and experience that eggs cannot fly and we will rot or be devoured.

Change is happening. We can approach it with a positive and curious excitement, with a willingness to explore the possibilities and adapt in new ways; and through the process our wings will stretch and develop giving us the ability to soar.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Confidence in the Future

Chuckle:  "When an egotist gets up in the morning and puts his pants on, he thinks the whole world is dressed!"

Good Quote:  "If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future."  --Winston Churchill 


    "And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again" (Philippians 1:6 NLT).

Here, Paul expresses his confidence about the future.  Paul drew the conclusion that God was at work in the Philippian Christians and that he would complete his work.  God's faithfulness made him certain.  Paul's love for them made him confident.  And the Philippian Christian's faithfulness made it sure.  This passage does not mean their salvation was incomplete, but that God would continue to work in their lives to make them the kind of Christians he wanted them to be -- to make them more like Jesus.
    We are God's work in in progress:  Paul knew that God loves finished works, and that  God's plans do not fail.  The Greek word translated "being confident/sure" denotes personal certainty.  The "good work" refers to the "partnership in the gospel" mentioned in verse 5.  God's work in them was not yet complete.  He would continue it until it was fulfilled according to his eternal plan and will.  God's faithfulness guarantees the completion of what he begins.  The same is true as God works in your life and mine.     
    The Day when Christ comes back suggests a day of victory and of trial when every Christian's work/deeds will be tested.  It will be a time of victory, celebration, and reward for the faithful Christian, and a time of disappointment and shame for the Christian who has not been faithful to his/her Lord in this life.  Also, the completion of his good work of grace, which will consummate our eternal salvation, will occur in the day Jesus returns in victory.  After that, every Christian will stand before the Judgment seat of Christ, where his works will be judged (2 Cor. 5:10).
    "In the choir of life, it's easy to fake the words -- but someday each of us will have to sing solo before God." 

Paul expresses a personal confidence in the faithfulness in his Lord this way: ". . . I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day" (2 Timothy 1:12 NIV).    The present evil age will come to an end with the second coming of Christ, the Day of the Lord. 

Love, Jerry & Dotse