Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Honoring a True Friend

Chuckle:  "What papers do I need for my trip to England?" a college student asked the travel agent.  "A passport and a visa," was the reply.  "I already have the passport, but . . . do you think they'd accept MasterCard?"   
Quote:  "A real friend is the one who will tell you of your faults and follies in prosperity and assist with his hand and heart in adversity." --Unknown source
    Mephibosheth knelt down again and said (to King David), "Why should you care about me?" (2 Samuel 9:8 CEV).
One of the most beautiful stories of love and friendship recorded in the Bible involves the friendship between King David and King Saul's son, Jonathan.  Their friendship was steadfast even through the most difficult of circumstances.  After Jonathan had been killed in battle, David's concern shifted to Jonathan's family and he sought ways to honor Jonathan's memory by bestowing kindness on his descendents.  The only one he could find was a son, Mephibosheth, who was crippled from infancy.
When called before the King, Mephibosheth could not believe or understand why the great King should care about him and show such kindness.  But because of his love for his friend, David warmly welcomed Mephibosheth into his home and cared for him.  This was David's way of honoring his friend.  The unconditional love David had for Jonathon was transferred to Mephibosheth who could not understand why David should care about him. 
As I read this beautiful story, I was reminded how unworthy I am to be the recipient of God's unconditional love as demonstrated by the sacrifice of Jesus for my sins.  "But God demonstrated his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 NIV).  The psalmist questioned why God should care about mankind.  "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, . . .?" (Psalm 8:3-4 NIV).
No matter how insignificant, unworthy, or unlovable you may feel, any fears you may have regarding God's love for you are unfounded.  God has extended you a lasting invitation to come into His presence with assurance and experience His unconditional love through faith in Jesus Christ. 
Do you have a precious friend to whom you are deeply indebted for his or her unconditional love, kindness, encouragement, and faithfulness?  This story about David, Jonathan, and Mephibosheth should challenges us to examine our friendships and our responsibilities to them and their families.  Friendships should never be taken for granted. 

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kindness Requested

Chuckle:  Patient: "Help me, Doc. I can't remember anything for more than a few minutes. It's driving me crazy!"  Doctor: "How long has this been going on?"  Patient: "How long has what been going on?" 
Quote:  "Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence and learning." --Robert Burns, 'A Winter Night'
    "Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you" (Joshua 2:12 NLT).
Everyone desires to experience kindness.  When someone shows an act of kindness to us, it makes us feel loved and accepted.  It tells us we have value in the eyes of the one offering the kindness and encourages us to make similar gestures to others who may need of our kindness and compassion.
The words in our passage were spoken by Rahab, the prostitute, who had hidden the spies sent by Joshua to gather strategic information about the promised land, especially about the city of Jericho, in preparation for the upcoming battle.  She had risked her life to give shelter to the Israelite spies in her house which was likely built into the city wall.  God directed the spies to Rahab's house because He knew her heart was receptive to Him and that she could provide the key to a successful siege of Jericho.  Even her sordid past did not prevent God from using her to accomplish His purpose.
Rahab was aware that as the warriors of the Israelite army advanced across the promised land, their reputation preceded them and it was well known that the one and only true God was with them and helped them conquer every foe.  In return for her help, Rahab asked only for kindness, not for herself alone but for her entire family.  I'm sure the two spies understood the dangers facing Rahab if her king found out that she was aiding and abetting the enemy.  "We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety," the men agreed.  "If you don't betray us, we will keep our promise when the LORD gives us the land" (vs. 14 NLT).
Rahab's request for kindness came because she saw something special and good in the spies.  Do people see in your life the evidence of the God you serve?  Is God's power revealed in you to the extent that people realize the authenticity of your faith and are drawn to you.  If so, more than likely they will seek your kindness with questions about God.  How open are you to the need to show kindness even if it is not requested.  God shows kindness toward us because He loves us.  Shouldn't we show kindness to others for the same reason -- because we love them. . . .  
The greatest kindness you can offer anyone is to share your testimony about God's great love and what He has done for you.  Your act of kindness can be used by the Holy Spirit to draw people into God's kingdom through their faith in Jesus Christ. 

Love, Jerry & Dotse        

Monday, September 9, 2013

Listen Carefully

Chuckle:  Little Amy confided to her uncle, "When I grow up, I'm going to marry the boy next door."  "Why is that?"  "'Cause I'm not allowed to cross the street."   
Good Quote:  “Half an hour's listening is essential except when you are very busy. Then a full hour is needed." --St Frances de Sales 
    "So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it"  (Hebrews 2:1 NLT).
I remember a game we played in my youth group when I was a teenager.  It went like this: A person at the beginning of a long line of players would whisper something into the ear of the next person.  That person then whispered what he had heard to the next person, and so it went to the end of the line.  Then the last person would voice what he had heard and it was compared to what the first person had actually said.  It was amazing, and sometimes hilarious, how distorted the original words could become.  The distortion occurred from misunderstanding, embellishment, or just a failure to listen carefully.
Listen to what God said to his people through Moses.  Moses called all the people of Israel together and said, "Listen carefully to all the laws and regulations I am giving you today. Learn them and be sure to obey them!"  (Deuteronomy 5:1 NLT).  In both our passages, a major emphasis is given to listening carefully to God, learning from God's words, and obeying what we have heard and learned.  How carefully have you tuned your spiritual ears to listening to what God is saying to you?  How committed are you to following God's directions so they do not become distorted, diluted, or irrelevant in your life because of the world's distractions?
James reminds us that listening carefully to the Word is the first step in becoming what God wants us to be.  "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says" (James 1:22 NIV).  We are to pay close attention and listen in a way that produces clear understanding with the intent to live out the instructions we have heard.  Paying close attention involves the focusing our minds, bodies, and senses.  This will help insure that God's Word does not become distorted or forgotten in our daily lives.  The ability to Listen carefully to God and other people is a wonderful trait.  
"His thoughts were slow,
His words were few and never formed to glisten.
But he was a joy to all his friends,
You should have heard him listen!'

Love, Jerry & Dotse  

Monday, September 2, 2013

God In The Morning

Chuckle:  If athletes get athletes foot, what do astronauts get?  Missile Toe.

Quote:  "An hour before sunrise--in creative meditation--can miraculously enrich the soul. A minute during a sunrise--in receptive silence--can gloriously inspire the heart."  --William Arthur Ward


    "In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait with expectation" (Psalm 5:3 NIV). 

I'm a morning person and an early riser.  Perhaps this is the result of my years in the Army, when every day started at zero dark thirty.  Seriously, there is something peaceful and precious about spending some time with our Lord in the early morning -- before our minds become cluttered with the problems and pressures of the day.  Of course you can study God's Word and pray at any time, but starting the day with God will set the tone for how you react to everything else that happens during the day.

Please notice in our passage how the psalmist brought his requests to God in the morning, then waited patiently and expectantly for God to answer and grant his requests.  Regular communication strengthens any relationship.  This is true not only between human beings, but is even more important for our relationship with God.  Regular time spent with God is essential for our spiritual growth and the joy that comes from a warm fellowship with Him.   

We must, however, realize that communicating with God involves much more than voicing our shopping lists of requests and desires.  God wants to speak to us through His Word and Spirit as we study, meditate, and pray.  What God may say to us during our quiet time with Him, is far more important than what we may want to say to God.  What He says to us can change our lives.  It is important that we approach God to listen as well as to ask.  

    "I listen carefully (expectantly) to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his people, his faithful ones" (Psalm 85:8 NLT).

If early morning quiet time doesn't work well for you, it's important that you set aside a regular time and place each day to study God's Word and pray.  God's answers to your prayers will come in His own time, and you are wise to wait patiently with both anticipation and expectation for those answers.  If you aren't listening carefully, you may miss God's answers.

    "Little of the Word with little prayer is death to the spiritual life. Much of the Word with littleprayer gives a sickly life. Much prayer with little of the Word gives an emotional life. But a full measure of both the Word and prayer each day gives a healthy and powerful life." --Andrew Murray

Love, Jerry & Dotse