Friday, June 28, 2013

Excuses

ChuckleBeautician: Did that mud-pack I gave you for your girlfriend improve her appearance?  Man: It did for a while -- but then it fell off.

Good Quote: "Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses." --Dr. George Washington Carver

EXCUSES  

    Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests . . . But they all alike began to make excuses" (Luke 14:16, 18 NIV).

In our passage, Jesus was teaching his followers through a parable about a great banquet that God is preparing and he is inviting all of us to the celebration.  But many who were invited began to make excuses for not accepting the invitation. You may have heard the saying: "If you don't want to do something, one excuse is as good as another."  This begs the question: Why are so many of God's people too busy to do his bidding?

I have often heard this excuse, and, regretfully, I've used it myself: "I just have too much on my plate right now" to serve God more fully and faithfully.  We can all be certain it isn't God who has filled our plates.  We do that ourselves with all the things that take our time, energy, and other resources.  Often, our plates are filled with everything except the most important -- God's plan for our lives.

In Jesus' story, many people turned down the banquet invitation because the timing was inconvenient.  They had other more pressing demands on their time.  We too may resist or postpone our response to God's invitation, and the excuses we offer may sound perfectly reasonable.  You may use work requirements, family responsibilities, financial needs, etc.  But make no mistake, God's invitation, whether it be for salvation or for Christian service, is the most important bidding in our lives, no matter how inconvenient the timing may seem.

As a Christian, if you find yourself making excuses for not making time for answering God's call to service, please remember the Holy Spirit who dwells within you.  If you will allow Him to help you filter out all the "junk" that's on your plate, you will suddenly realize that you have time for God, family, work, etc.  If the Holy Spirit has convicted you in this area, let Him help you readjust your priorities.  What are you willing to give up to accept God's invitation?  Just give God complete control of your life and your problem will be solved.

If you have never received Christ as Savior, please respond to His invitation by placing your trust in Him today. You have no guarantee of tomorrow.  Without making excuses, just ask Him to forgive your sins and come into your heart and life as Savior and Lord.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Deeply Troubled

Chuckle:  Geography teacher: "Who can describe the English Channel?"  Student: "We don't get that channel on our TV."
 
Good Quote:  "A healthy (pure) conscience tugs at the concealed sin in our lives as though it were God's hidden hand."  --Unknown source
 
DEEPLY TROUBLED
 
    "While Paul waited for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city" (Acts 17:16 NLT).
 
We live in a society deeply engrossed in political correctness and tolerance of any and all lifestyles and immoral behavior.  Is your spirit troubled by what you see?  Tolerance is a good thing up to a point, but when it leads to complacency about things that are clearly wrong according to God's Word, even tolerance can become a sin. 
 
Jesus tells us we are to be "salt and Light" in an evil world -- that we are to be an influence for that which is good, pure, holy, and true.  The path of least resistance is to set back and let the world go by without lifting a finger or a voice against the corruption that permeates our communities and our nation.  Are you deeply troubled by the deterioration in moral standards in your family, your community and your nation? 
 
In our passage, the apostle Paul was deeply troubled by the idolatry and sinful living by the people of Athens.  The Athenians were tolerant of any and all idolatry and conduct among the people.  Paul was troubled to the point that he had to confront the Christian Jews and God-fearing Greeks.  We should do as Paul did; look around us at the idols and be moved to do our part to represent Christ in our homes, schools, communities, clubs, workplaces, etc.  If not now, when?  If not you, who?  Today's idols may be money, power, success, popularity, or false religions.  Is our nation any different than Athens?
 
The gradual drift toward unbridled tolerance for sin can be traced to moral decay and sinful practices in our own lives.  We can fill our minds with immoral images from television, movies, video games, and other media; and slowly and subtly we begin to compromise our moral standards.  We become less and less offended by what we see.  Then we not only tolerate those sinful images, but come to enjoy them.  Our spiritual senses become dulled, our holiness is compromised, and we become useless to God as His ambassadors and messengers. 
 
If we as God's people, are to influence our society for good --integrity, morality, and holiness, we must begin with our own hearts and lives.  We need pure consciences and godly actions.  We should not blend in with the rest of a corrupt society.  Instead, we should be a positive influence by following the example of Jesus who hates sin while loving the sinner.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Comforting Others

Chuckle:  A child's prayer: "Dear God, is it true my father won't get in Heaven if he uses his golf words in the house?"     Anita
 
Good Quote:  “There is a comfort in the strength of love: ‘Twill make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart.  --William Wordsworth
 
COMFORTING OTHERS
 
    "All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT).
 
No doubt, there have been times in your life when you desperately needed a hug and a comforting word to help you through a difficult time or situation.  We all have.  If you are a Christian, you are fully aware of the comfort that comes from our Lord, even in the worst of times.  But we must keep in mind that God's comfort does not always mean the troubles will go away, but often means He gives us the strength and courage to endure the pain.
 
Of course God comforts us because He loves us and genuinely cares about what happens to us.  However, please notice in our passage that God has a deeper purpose in His comforting us -- to prepare us to comfort someone else who is suffering through a time of trouble and heartache.  It's good to keep in mind that every trial God allows you to experience will help prepare you to comfort others who are suffering in similar ways.  It gives you the ability to identify, sympathize, and empathize with them.  When someone offers comfort to you, it means much more if you know that person has experienced a similar trial.  It gives credibility to their efforts to comfort you.  You know they understand.
 
God's comfort provides us a model to use when we reach out to others.  He teaches us to reach out in His grace and compassion.  Often we cannot remove the pain from our friend's life, but we suffer through the experience with them and offer them the same comfort God has so lovingly and graciously given us.  Sometimes a person just needs someone to share their troubles with -- someone to listen.  
 
A little girl lost a playmate to death and one day reported to her family that she had gone to comfort the sorrowing mother.  "What did you say?" asked her parents.  "Nothing," she replied.  "I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her."
 
When others show tender compassion to the point of shedding tears on your behalf, their comfort can bring you inexplicable peace and contentment even in the worst of times.  Let's look for opportunities to comfort those around us who are hurting.  When you look outside yourself and comfort others, you will be amazed at how much comfort you receive in return.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Conquering Our Fears

Chuckle:  A little boy had a part in the school play that read, "It is I, be not afraid."  He came out on stage and said, "It's me and I'm scared!
 
Quote:  "The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear."  --Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
CONQUERING OUR FEARS?
 
    Then he (Jesus) asked them, "Why are you so afraid?  Do you still not have faith in me?"  (Mark 4:40 NLT).
 
Our fears have a major impact on the way we think and act.  We may be keenly aware of some of our most dreaded fears, but others may be buried so deeply in our psyche that we may not even be aware of them.  You may react to a situation instinctively, not fully understanding why you reacted in such a way.  A deeply rooted fear may be the culprit.  Fears of any intensity will ultimately control your life if you don't have the strength or courage to bring them to the surface and place them at the feet of Jesus.  God wants to help us root out our fears and free us from their debilitating effects on our conduct and happiness.
 
Life's storms come in many forms and intensities.  Think of situations that cause you the greatest anxiety.  Now think about all the miracles God has performed in your life; the most important of which is your salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.  If God can save your eternal soul, what makes you think He is incapable of taking away your fears?  Just bare your fears and view them in light of God's past faithfulness, and they will lose their control over you.
 
Now back to our passage.  Jesus equated the disciples' being afraid to a lack of faith in Him.  The disciples feared for their lives.  They were afraid the fierce storm would swamp their boat and they would drown.  They were afraid even with Jesus asleep in the boat with them, and this seemed to surprise and disappoint Jesus.  Do you think it disappoints our Lord when we let our fears rule our lives rather than trusting in Him in all situations? 
 
In situations that cause you to be afraid, you have two options.  You can panic, like the disciples, and assume that Jesus is no longer in control and does not care what happens to you; or you can conquer your fears by placing your complete trust in Him as Savior and Lord in all situations. 
 
Pastor Ray Stedman spoke to a young man who had given his heart to Christ in a Billy Graham crusade.  He fold him that his new life in Christ would free him from all fear of death.  The young man replied, "I have never been much afraid of death.  But I'll tell you what I am afraid of -- I'm afraid I'll waste my life."  Stedman then commented, " I believe that fear is deep within each of us.  It has been put there by our Creator.  No one wishes to waste his life."  --Ray Stedman, Authentic Christianity
 
Unconquered fears can certainly result in a wasted life.  But God can change all that if we only turn our lives and fears over to Him.         
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse