Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Art of Deception

Chuckle: "The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly.  He was 74."
 
Quote: “All deception in the course of life is indeed nothing else but a lie reduced to practice, and falsehood passing from words into things.” --Robert South
 
THE ART OF DECEPTION
 
    "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles (evil powers) of this world rather than on Christ"  (Colossians 2:8 NIV).
 
Make no mistake, the father of all deception is Satan himself.  To deceive is to "make someone believe what is not true; fool or trick; mislead; or defraud."  We all need to understand that deception is the opposite of that which is true.  There is so much deception in our society today that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish real from fake, true from false, trustworthy from unreliable.  Many political ads are classic deceptions as half-truths, innuendos, distortions, and outright lies are used to deceive the public about political opponents.
 
Those most susceptible to spiritual deception are not well founded in the truths in God's Word.  If we know what we believe and why we believe it, we are much less likely to be deceived.  Is your Christian faith based on the fact that you were raised by Christian parents or is it based on your own study of the Bible and your personal commitment of your life to Jesus Christ?  If you don't have a firm basis for your faith, you can become prey for the occult and false religions of all kinds.  We see all sorts of "religious sects" with just enough truth in their teachings to appear genuine.
 
Young people who are trying to find answers to life's questions are particularly susceptible to being deceived.  Many are intrigued by the "far out" and most bizarre.  Many cults use clever seduction techniques for luring young people into strange and mystical rituals.  Also, many young people have little or no foundation of truth with which to compare what they are reading and hearing.  That's why it's so important for Christian parents to teach their children and grandchildren the truths of God's Word to help them defend against being deceived.
 
False teachers can also be found in the church, as Paul witnessed in the church at Corinth. "False apostles, deceitful workers, (transform) themselves into apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13 NKJV).  Scripture predicts this kind of apostasy will continue to grow until Christ returns.  So. how can we prepare ourselves and our children to avoid being deceived spiritually, politically, or morally?
    1. Be a serious student of God's Word.  Study, meditate, and pray.  2. Know what you believe concerning your faith and why you believe it.  3. Practice your faith by keeping your own life pure and uncompromising.  4. Become knowledgeable of the political issues as you prepare to vote when elections are held.  5. Study the records and listen carefully to the words of the candidates.  For some help, go to http://www.Christianvoterguide.com and click on your state.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Favoritism is Sinful

Chuckle:  A Sunday School teacher: "Now children, never do anything in private you wouldn't do in public." "Hurrah!" shouted one little boy -- "No more baths!"
 
Quote:  “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”  --Martin Luther King, jr
 
FAVORITISM IS SINFUL
 
    "For God does not show favoritism." (Romans 2:11 NIV).  "My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others" (James 2:1 NLT).  "But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers" (James 2:9 NIV).
 
Favoritism means to receive or reject someone based on appearance or other imposed standards of acceptability.  We put labels on clothing and we put labels on people and so we have favorites.  However, favoritism defines a person in terms apart from God's grace.  James zeros in on favoritism, partiality, prejudice, snobbery.  These are all attitudes which lead to discrimination against certain people.  We may think we are more important then they and they are not deserving of our love and attention.  Being around them makes us uncomfortable.
 
James reminds us that if we show favoritism to some at the expense of others, we sin.  We know that Jesus loves everyone equally, but gave special attention to the poor, the sick, and the powerless -- the ones we often reject. We should follow His lead. "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right" (Acts 10:34 NIV).
 
So, we can have favorites based on such things as appearance, age, affluence, or ancestry.  If we could only grasp the eternal truth that God made everyone of us and we are all the same in his sight, it would change our whole view of life, and give us the ability to love and accept everyone without reservation.
 
"Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi was the leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule and considered the father of his country. He is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolence to achieve political and social progress. Gandhi says in his autobiography that in his student days he was truly interested in the Bible. Deeply touched by reading the Gospels, he seriously considered becoming a convert, since Christianity seemed to offer the real solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. One Sunday, he went to a nearby church to attend services. He decided to see the minister and ask for instruction in the way of salvation and enlightenment on other doctrines. But when he entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go and worship with his own people. Gandhi left and never came back. 'If Christians have caste differences also,' he said to himself, 'I might as well remain a Hindu.'"  --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
 
In our main passage, James questions our faith if we favor some over others.  We must have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and welcome everyone into our fellowship equally.  We should say: "Your appearance, race, color, nationality, ethnic background, or social status, does not matter -- you are welcome in this fellowship. We love you and accept you unconditionally."
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, May 16, 2014

Get Out Of The Boat

Chuckle: "Its always darkest just before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it."
 
Quote: “Storms make oaks take deeper root.” --George Herbert
 
GET OUT OF THE BOAT
 
   "All right, come," Jesus said. "So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus" (Matthew 14:29 NLT).
 
Our passage is from one of the most revealing accounts of faith, doubt, fear, and trust in the entire New Testament.  As you recall, Jesus' disciples were in a boat crossing a lake on a stormy night.  About three o'clock in the morning, they were terrified by a figure walking toward them on the surface of the water.  After Jesus assured them that it was really Him and not a ghost, Peter asked to be invited to walk on the water toward Jesus.  Jesus' told him to "come."
 
God both causes and allows storms in our lives and always with a purpose.  There are storms designed for correction, like Jonah experienced when he disobeyed God by refusing to go to Nineveh as God commanded.  Then there are storms of instruction, like the one here in our passage.  Peter took a step of faith by stepping out of the boat.  By-the-way, In Scripture, only Jesus and Peter walked on water.  By getting out of the boat, Peter was learning to trust God and to grow in his faith.
 
But when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and saw the deep dark water and high waves, his human doubts and fears immediately replaced his faith and he began to sink.  What a powerful lesson for us.  By keeping our eyes on Jesus, our faith will sustain us in every storm of life.  Peter became terrified and shouted, "Save me Lord!"  Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith," Jesus said.  "Why did you doubt me?"  Here, Jesus used the occasion to instruct Peter in what it means to have faith -- to trust your Lord in all circumstances.
 
Although you may start out with good intentions to do something God has asked you to do, sometimes, like Peter, your faith may falter and you become insecure and afraid.  But this does not mean ultimate failure.  Notice that Peter, in his weakness, reached for the hand of Jesus, the only one who could help him.  He was afraid, but he looked to Jesus for strength.  When you become apprehensive and doubtful during the storms of life you must sometimes endure, remember that Christ has promised to be with you always.  He is the only one who can help you.
 
Because of this adventure on a dark stormy lake, Peter experienced Jesus in a new and powerful way.  No matter what storm confronts you, just get out of the boat and trust Jesus.  We may be tempted to be critical of Peter for his lack of faith, but remember, he had the faith to get out of the boat.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Family Of God

Chuckle: “A young boy, ready for bed, interrupted a family gathering in the living room. 'I'm going up to say my prayers now. Anybody want anything?'”
 
Quote:  “Acting is just a way to make a living, the family is life.” --Denzel Washington
 
FAMILY OF GOD: (Ephesians 2:11-22)
 
   "So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with God's holy people. You are members of God's family" (Ephesians 2:19 NLT). "Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian (family) brothers and sisters" (Galatians 6:10 NLT)
 
To me, the word "family" is one of the most comforting words in the English language. On your walls, or in albums at home, you likely have pictures of both your immediately family members and those who have passed from the scene. Past or present, they are still family. They are all a part of our very being. They determined who we are; and we inherited our physical characteristics from them.
 
In the same way our spiritual ancestors are a part of us and they formed the basis of who we are today. If you grew up in a Christian home where God's Word was taught and His love was modeled, I don't need to remind you how fortunate and blessed you really are. Just take a moment and reflect on the beautiful memories of that wholesome family experience. If you did not grow up in a Christian environment, but found Christ through the witness of another faithful Christian, you can rejoice because of that spiritual family member who loved you and led you to Christ.
 
As I reflect on the extent of God's love for me, and his adopting me into his eternal family through faith in Christ, a great joy and sense of gratitude wells up within me. Just think, you are an heir and joint-heir with Jesus to all the kingdom of God entails. God loves you and blesses you with His presence within you in the form of the Holy Spirit. You are further blessed to share in His family with all those within the church -- your spiritual brothers and sisters who love you and have your best interests at heart. So, let's think about what it means to be in God's family?
 
    (1) It means we acknowledge that we belong to God. He created us and redeemed us through Jesus Christ. The belonging relationship is established.
    (2) It means that it is God our Father who holds the family together through His Son who is the head of the church. When we recognize that we mutually and equally belong to God, it will bring harmony within His family.
    (3) It means that only in this family can we grow to be what God wants us to be. As the child requires nurture and care in his earthly family, the new Christian needs spiritual nurturing and love to grow into the family member God desires.
     (4) It means we rejoice at the birth of a new member. When we get the news that a baby has been born, we immediately spread the word to every family member. We do so with great joy. Likewise the church, entrusted with the good news of salvation, proclaims with joy the gospel of forgiveness. We rejoice when a new believer is "born again" into God's family and our local church fellowship, and when missionaries tell us of new births into our family in distant lands.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Living With Confidence

Chuckle: Sign on an Optometrist's Office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."
 
Quote: "Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” --Michael O'Brien
 
LIVING WITH CONFIDENCE
 
   "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that we ask anything according to his will and he hears us" (I John 5:14 NIV). "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Hebrews) 10:35-36 NIV).
 
Have you noticed how some Christians exude confidence and optimism in every circumstance. Nothing seems to get them down. They have an aura of inner peace and contentment about them.  Sometimes those who have the most reasons to be depressed and discouraged become blessings to others because they have such confidence in God's ability to sustain them.  They inspire others to examine their own faith and dependence upon God.  They always have a smile and a positive word no matter how difficult times may be for them. they just have too much going for them.
 
We can have confidence in approaching God in prayer.  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16 NIV).  As we pray, our confidence grows from knowing our prayers are consistent with the will of the Father. When we align our prayers with His will, He will listen and give us a definite answer. We should pray with confidence!
 
We can have confidence that God is with us in every circumstance.  In our Hebrews 10 passage, we are encouraged not to abandon confidence in our faith in times of disappointments and trials; but rather to show by our endurance that our faith is real.  Because of what Christ has done for us, we should have confidence that He will sustain us today and in the future.  God has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  Such a promise should build our confidence in God's presence, provision, and protection no matter what we face in this life.
 
We can have confidence that our eternal home is being prepared.  Jesus said, "I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2b-3 NIV).  This is a promise from our Lord himself and if you have trusted Christ as Savior you can take it to the bank.  As believers, we need not fear death.  I once sat by the bedside of a dying godly aunt.  As we talked, she blessed my heart when she said she was not afraid of death.  She had accepted the fact that her earthly life was drawing to a close and saw death as a part of life.  She was confident that even though she was walking "through the valley of the shadow of death, she feared no evil, for God was with her" (Psalm 23:4 NIV).
 
I pray your confidence in your Lord and His Word will grow, while depending upon the companionship and strength of His Holy Spirit to meet every need in your life.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse