Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Equipped For Service

Chuckle:  "College: a four-year period when parents have access to the phone."
 
Quote: "O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, May we know Thee more clearly, Love Thee more dearly, Follow Thee more nearly: For ever and ever." --Sir Richard of Chichester
 
EQUIPPED FOR SERVICE
 
   Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:21-22 NIV).
 
No doubt you have felt inadequate for the tasks our Lord has given us, e.g., Matthew 28:19-20.  These feelings are directly from Satan who desperately wants you to see yourself as a failure in serving your Lord.  He wants you to "throw in the towel" and give up.  However, if we truly have the desire to be obedient to our Lord, we will search the Scriptures prayerfully, in the power of the Spirit, to find the strength to make obedience not only possible, but the source of unspeakable peace and joy.
 
Our passage records Jesus' appearance to His disciples after His resurrection.  Once again, Jesus identified Himself with the Father who provided the authority for everything He had done.  Then an amazing and powerful commissioning ceremony occurs.  With three simple, yet amazing, statements, Jesus equips the disciples/us with everything they/we would ever need to carry out the mission given them and us.
 
First, Jesus gave them His peace. "Peace be with you!"  Here, Jesus reiterated a promise He had made previously, just prior to His crucifixion.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you . . . do not be afraid" (John 14:27 NIV).  Paul describes this peace as a supernatural peace "which transcends all understanding and will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus"  (Philippians 4:7 NIV).  With this kind of peace all fear, doubt, and uncertainty are removed.
 
Second, Jesus gave them His purpose.  "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."  Jesus affirms that their authority in carrying out the mission given them comes directly from Him.  Jesus demonstrated how they/we are to go about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost world.  He has told us what to do and showed us how to do it with love, mercy and compassion.
 
Third, Jesus gave them His power. . . he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."  Here, Jesus gave His closest disciples an early gift of the same Holy Spirit that was made available to all Christians on the day of Pentecost. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (Acts 4:31 NIV).  The guidance and power of the Holy Spirit are necessities in everything we try to do for our Lord.  When we try to do God's work in our own strength, we will fail at every turn.  Jesus said, "If a man (person) remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me (my Spirit) you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NIV).
 
Do you have His peace?  Have you accepted His purpose as your own?  Have you accessed the power source (Holy Spirit) to make it all possible?  I pray you have answered each of these questions with an unequivocal "YES," for the glory of God.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Miracle of Mercy

Chuckle:  A woman says to the postal clerk, "May I have 70 Christmas stamps? The clerk asks, "What denomination?" The woman says, "Lord help us. Has it come to this? Give me 8 Catholic, 12 Episcopalian, 8 Methodist, 9 Presbyterian, 10 Lutheran and 22 Baptists."
 
Good Quote:  “The corn that makes the holy bread By which the soul of man is fed, The holy bread, the food unpriced, The everlasting mercy, Christ.”  --John Masefield 
 
THE MIRACLE OF MERCY
 
   "He who covers (hides) his transgressions (sins) will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy" (Proverbs 28:13 AMP).
 
Sin is not a favorite word in our modern vocabulary.  We would much prefer to call our impure thoughts and actions by other terms such as, mistakes, errors, or short-comings.  But we are wise to deal honestly with the meaning of sin as it relates to the way we live.  In the original language, the word, "sin," means to miss the mark that God has set for us -- to miss living by God's standards for human conduct -- to rebel against God.  The word "Sin" describes those ungodly things we do, the good things we fail to do, and the condition into which everyone is born.
 
The greatest sin of all is rejecting God's free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  The wonderful truth is that our merciful God will forgive all our sins if we genuinely repent and ask His forgiveness and cleansing.  We all need to be reminded that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV), and we all need forgiveness.
 
When you ignore your sins and try to conceal them, you do major harm to yourself and sometimes to others.  Sins that are not dealt with create a lifestyle which includes many individual sins.  A destructive cycle of rebelliousness and deception is created within you.  In the same way Adam and Eve wanted to hide their sins from God, it is human nature to try to hide ours from Him and others. Something deep within us strongly resists admitting that we have sinned -- done wrong.  But, when we openly and humbly admit our sins and seek God's forgiveness, a healing process begins that will ultimately result in a sense of well-being, peace, and eternal security.
 
Even though Christians have been saved from the eternal penalty for their sins, we all need to continually confess our sins to God, and admit that we need God's mercy and forgiveness each day we live.  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9 NIV).  When we accept God's mercy, forgiveness and cleansing, He sets us free from the damaging cycle of sin in our lives and also frees us from the anger, bitterness, rebelliousness and corruption that precipitated our sinful actions.
 
We should fall on our faces before God in gratitude and praise Him for His love, mercy and grace. Further, we should ask God's forgiveness for failing to ask for His mercy and forgiveness.  Without the shed blood of Jesus and God's boundless love, amazing grace, and infinite mercy, there would be no forgiveness of sins.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Monday, June 23, 2014

God's Beautiful Creation

Chuckle:  A new bride cooked her first meal for her husband.  “My mother taught me to cook, and I can cook two things well – apple pie and meatloaf.”  The husband took a bite of his supper and asked, “And which one is this?”
 
Quote:  “All created things are living in the Hand of God.  The senses see only the action of the creatures; but faith sees in everything the action of God.” –Jean-Pierre de Caussade SJ
 
GOD’S BEAUTIFUL CREATION   
 
    This is what God the LORD says – he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people and life to those who walk in it: “I, the LORD, have called you righteous. I will take hold of your hand” (Isaiah 42:5-6 NIV).
 
Picture with me, in your mind’s eye, a beautiful crystal-clear mountain stream (Bear Creek) flowing along a 200-feet high cliff on one side and fertile level bottom land on the other.  Listen to the gurgling sounds as the water flows over the gravel shoals.  Listen to the sounds and smells of mowers cutting hay on the bottom land.  As you stand knee-deep in the cool water at the edge of this beautiful stream casting a lure into the deep blue holes of water, your mind goes back sixty-five years to when you were a teenager and your family lived in this area.  You remember playing in this your favorite swimming hole.  You have always loved this place but, as a teenager, you tended to take for granted the pristine beauty of this truly wonderful place.
 
The above describes what I saw and felt Last week, as Dotse and I visited with my brother and wife  in the beautifully mountainous Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas where I grew up.  In many ways, it was a true worship experience for me as my memories allowed me to relive experiences of long ago.  The beauty and complexities of God’s creation came rushing anew into my awareness and ignited a new and deeper appreciation for our God and His magnificent creation.  We are reminded in Scripture of the message conveyed to us through God’s creation.  Listen!
 
   “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood  from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NIV).
 
God’s general revelation through creation reveals a God of power, intelligence, and intricate detail; a God of order and beauty; a God who controls powerful forces far beyond our ability to fully comprehend.  However, it was not until we had the Bible describing the coming of Jesus Christ that we could fully understand God’s special revelation of Himself, including the dimensions of His love, grace, and mercy.  The Creator of the universe made it possible for us to experience His forgiveness of sin and His promise of eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus.
 
Wherever you are today, I encourage you to step back and take a fresh look at God’s creation and marvel at the power, majesty, and handiwork of the God we serve.  Also, reflect on Jesus’ role in creation.  “Through him (Jesus) all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3 NIV).
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Daily Devotionals

My Brother or Sister in Christ,

There will be no daily devotionals posted for  Monday through Friday, June 16 – 20, 2014.  They will resume on Monday, June 23d.  May God richly bless you and yours.  

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lordship of Christ

Chuckle:  “I see our neighbors have returned our grill,”  the wife commented.  “They’ve had it for eight months, and I was afraid that in their move, they’d take it with them by mistake.”  “That was our grill?”  shouted her husband.  “I just paid twenty dollars for it at their yard sale!”
 
Quote: "I say, the acknowledgement of God in Christ Accepted by thy reason, solves for thee All questions in the earth and out of it." --Robert Browning
 
LORDSHIP OF CHRIST
 
   "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him" (Colossians 2:6 NLT).
 
When you receive Jesus Christ into your heart and life as Savior, you have taken the first, but all important, step in a growing relationship with Him.  The next step is to make Him Lord of your life and give Him dominion over everything you are and everything you do.  To live in Him is to live with Him as Lord and the center of your life.  Total surrender to His will is the only response that truly makes Him Lord.
 
When we make Christ our Lord, we will follow His leadership and allow Him to grow us into mature spiritual followers.  He wants to be your daily companion to guide, direct, and teach you as you deal with the problems and challenges of life.  When we decide to live for Him, we will make a total submission of our wills to Him; we will concentrate on learning more and more about Him and how we can live in Him more fully; and depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit in all situations.
 
Calling Jesus Lord is one thing but to live under His Lordship daily is another matter entirely.  Jesus is keenly aware when what we profess and what we practice do not match.  Jesus addressed this question to His listeners, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46 NIV).  Making Christ Lord of your life means obeying His commands.  The term "Lord" is much more than a polite title of respect for Christ when speaking of our relationship with Him.  The term Lord means Master and calls us to sacrificial living and strict obedience.
 
There are three ways a skier can get to the top of the ski slope.  He can try to walk up on his own, or be pulled up as he holds on to a strap, or he can ride up in the chair lift.  This illustration vividly depicts the various ways Christians try to live the victorious Christian life.  Some try completely in their own strength; others try to combine their own effort with some degree of dependence on God.  But the only way to know true victory in every situation is total dependence on the Holy Spirit," and submission to the Lordship of Christ.
 
Would you join me in a new commitment to really make Christ our Lord and, in the power of the Spirit, endeavor each day to reflect that relationship.  If we do this, He will grant us an extra measure of peace, joy, and contentment.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Name You Bear

Chuckle:  "Birthdays are good for you -- the more you have, the longer you live!"
 
Quote:  “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.” --William Ashley (Billy) Sunday
 
THE NAME YOU BEAR
 
    "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" (Acts 11:26 NIV).
 
The story is told about Alexander The Great, the great military leader of the fourth century B.C.  He once confronted a cowardly soldier and asked him his name.  The soldier replied, "Alexander."  Then Alexander the Great said to him: "Change your ways or change your name."
 
Names are important even today and were especially so in Biblical times.  We bear the name "Christian" because of our relationship to Christ.  But we must remember that being called "Christian" does not make us Christians.  The story about Alexander the Great, caused me to wonder if my actions as a Christian would cause Jesus to say:  "Change your ways or change your name."  Various names have been given to Christians that define them.
 
Believers: This term is often used to describe the belief system of Christians.  We believe: in God the Creator; the Bible -- God's Holy Word; that we are sinners and that we desperately need a savior; Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is our Savior because of his atoning sacrifice on Calvary's Cross; Jesus arose from the dead on the third day; we have been saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ; God's Holy Spirit lives within us; in the bodily return of Jesus Christ one day and that eternity in heaven awaits all true Christians.
 
Disciples:  This term means students, apprentices, and followers of Christ.  A disciple is submissive to God as Jesus was submissive to the will of his Father when he died for the sins of the world.  A disciple's actions are patterned after the life modelled by Jesus when he was here on earth.  This includes living a life of love, humility, and service. Disciples strive to conform their lives to the will of Christ.
 
Saints: A Biblical term describing all genuine Christians.  Paul often began his writings with the words like: "To the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi," etc.  It means we have been sanctified (set apart) and made holy for God's service.  It means we should live pure and holy lives, and live up to the name of Christ we bear.
 
Witnesses: Jesus said to his followers, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8 NIV).  In New Testament times, faithful witnesses for Christ often laid down their lives as martyrs.  When Peter and John were threatened for preaching in the name of Jesus, they said, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20 NIV).  As Christ's witnesses we are charged with the mission of telling others what we have experienced in Christ.  Are you and I living up to the name Christian?
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Anchor That Holds

Chuckle: A visiting official made a phone call from a mental institution and had difficulty getting his number. Finally, he shouted at the operator, "do you know who I am?" "No," she replied calmly, "but I know where you are."
 
Quote:  "Our safety lies in God and not in our feeling safe." --Hubert van Zeller
 
ANCHOR FOR OUR SOULS
 
    "This confidence (in God’s promises) is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God's inner sanctuary" (Hebrews 6:19 NLT).
 
The word, “anchor,” only appears four times in the entire Bible.  Three times it is used in Luke’s account of fierce storms at sea (Acts 27:29-30,40).  The other is in our passage.  It’s interesting that the anchor cross was one of the signs used by early Christians to signify their hope and faith.
 
There are many situations in the Christian life when using the analogy of a ship's anchor is highly appropriate.  It provides us encouragement and strengthens our confidence that God is our never-failing anchor.  A ship's anchor is designed to hold the ship fast and secure even through pounding waves, strong undercurrents, and ferocious winds. 
 
As we go through each day, and sometimes endure difficult storms, we must decide in whom, or in what, we trust to provide us anchorage and stability.  It is Jesus Christ who provides an anchor for our souls and He is our connection (anchor) to the Father.  
 
Because God embodies all truth, He cannot lie.  Therefore, we can be secure in every promise He makes in His Word.  His promises provide the stability for your life in the same way that a ship's anchor holds firmly to the seabed.  Jesus says He is the way to the Father.  "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV).  It is through faith in Him that we are saved.  Also, it is through Him that we have access to the Father in our prayers.  It is through Him that we have a reliable anchor even when everything around us is coming apart.
 
Neal A. Maxwell put it this way: Our “Ultimate hope constitutes the anchor of the soul.”   The lyrics of an old hymn go like this: "Be very sure, Be very sure your anchor holds and grips the solid rock."
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse