Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Faith That Triumphs

Chuckle:  What did Paul Revere say at the end of his famous ride?  “Whoa.”
Quote:  “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.” --Elton Trueblood

    Jesus said: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers" (Luke 22:32 NLT).
In wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops often have a difficult time identifying the enemy because they look no different than those on our side.  It's not easy to know who your enemy is.  The same is true with our greatest enemy, Satan, because he often disguises himself so as to appear friendly and harmless.  In life as in war, our first major task is to identify the enemy.  Our enemy wants to separate us from fellowship with our Lord and render us ineffective as ambassadors and witnesses for him.
In our passage, Satan wanted to crush Simon Peter and Jesus' other followers like grains of wheat. It was his hope that nothing would be left of them except worthless chaff to be blown away.  But Jesus encouraged Peter.  Although his faith would falter, it would not be destroyed.  It would return stronger than ever and Peter would become a strong and effective leader.
You may be going through a time when your faith is faltering.  Your enemy may have enticed you away and you may not be walking as closely with your Lord as you once did.  Perhaps you feel ineffective as a testimony to others.  If these conditions apply to you, rest assured Satan is the responsible culprit.  The first thing you must do is identify your enemy.  To do this, it's important that you remember three things about Satan: (1) He is real and active; (2) He is your enemy and he is on the attack; and (3) His power is limited by what God allows (he asked permission to sift Peter).
Once you have identified your enemy, then you must rely on your Lord as your advocate.  In verse 32, Jesus showed his advocacy for Peter by telling Peter he was praying for him.  Peter's faith faltered when he denied his lord three times, as Jesus predicted in verse 34, but he rebounded and ultimately did not fail.
Please remember that Jesus is praying for you. Listen: "Therefore he (Jesus) is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf" (Hebrews 7:25 NLT).  Also, be aware that the Holy Spirit lives within you to give you strength (John 14:16).  "Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7 NIV).  So whenever Satan knocks, let Jesus answer the door.  You will then experience triumphant faith which will also strengthen your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Birthday USA

stock photo of american independence day  - photo of us flag - JPG   HAPPY BIRTHDAY USA

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. . . . May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you" (Psalm 33:12, 22 NIV).

“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.”  --Robert J. McCracken
As we have fun with family and friends this holiday weekend, let's remember the real meaning of Independence Day, July 4, as we celebrate the 238th birthday of our beloved United States of America.
Primarily the work of Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence was America's proclamation to the world "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." And it held that the purpose of government is to "secure these rights," not to determine what rights the people can enjoy.  
"What is revolutionary about the Declaration of Independence is not that a particular group of Americans declared their independence under particular circumstances, but that they did so by appealing to -- and promising to base their particular government on -- a universal standard of justice." -- Matthew Spalding
The Fourth of July is a great opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in what Thomas Jefferson called "the declaratory charter of rights."  It reminds us to be thankful to God for the freedoms with which we are blessed.  It also reminds us that freedom comes at a terrible price, and each of us is responsible for the preservation of our freedoms which were purchased by the blood and sacrifice of so many.     
“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”  --Dwight D. Eisenhower
Let's remember to make God our LORD and put our hope and trust in Him -- that we may continue to receive God's blessings as a nation worthy of His favor and protection. Hear the last verse of "My Country, Tis of Thee:"
Our fathers' God, to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing:
Long may our land be bright With Freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!
Dotse and I wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable Holiday as we celebrate together the wonderful freedoms we enjoy.  
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Worthy Example

Chuckle:  “I thought you were going to count calories,”  Loris gently reminded her friend Karla as she consumed her second milkshake.  “Oh, I am,” said Karla.  “So far today, I’m at 5,760.” 
Quote:  “Waste no more time arguing what a good man (person) should be; be one.”  --Marcus Aurelius
    “In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely in all they do.  And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds, of every kind.  Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.  Let your teaching be so correct that it can’t be criticized.  Then those who want to argue will be ashamed because they won’t have anything bad to say about us” (Titus 2: 6b-8 HCSB).
Titus, a Greek convert through Paul’s ministry, had become Paul’s special representative to the house churches on the island of Crete.  Paul’s letter to Titus instructed him about his responsibilities as leader of the churches -- how to do his job.  Titus’ instructions are very similar to those in 1 Timothy with its instructions to young Timothy and other church leaders.  Although brief, Titus is an important link in the discipleship process of a young Christian growing into a leadership role within the church.  Paul’s instructions are beneficial to every Christian, especially to those in leadership positions.
As I studied these verses, I concluded that all of Paul’s instructions and admonitions to Titus can be boiled down to one word, “godliness.”  A lack of godliness by a Christian provides ammunition to the critics of Christianity.  As a pastor, I often heard words like these from unsaved and unchurched people:  “I’m as good as those people in your church – they are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.”  Unfortunately, there is sometimes much truth in such accusations.  However, when people find themselves living outside the will of God and practicing worldly standards of conduct, it’s easy to denigrate someone else in order to make themselves look more virtuous.  It’s tempting to rationalize ungodly behavior this way.
Paul wanted Titus to be so righteous in both his living and his teaching that no one could find fault with either.  Paul wanted Titus to be such a good example to those with whom he mingled that they might see the goodness in his life and strive to imitate him rather than find fault with him.  What a wonderful goal for each of us as we yield to the Holy Spirit as our guide, teacher, and encourager.  Even when we are not aware that we are being observed, many sets of skeptical eyes are likely to be upon us.  Your life may be the only Bible some will ever read.
    Blackmailers once sent C. H. Spurgeon a letter to the effect that if he did not place a certain amount of money in a certain place at a certain time, they would publish some things in the newspapers that would defame him and ruin his public ministry.  Spurgeon left at the station a letter in reply:  “You and your like are requested to publish all you know about me across the heavens.”  He knew his life was blameless in the eyes of men and therefore, they could not touch his character.”   --Illustrations For Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
I wonder how many of us would have the courage and confidence in our character and reputation to react as did C. H. Spurgeon?

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Impossible

Chuckle: "If people were not meant to have late-night snacks, why is there a light in the refrigerator?"
Quote:  “A miracle is an event which creates faith.  Frauds deceive.  An event which creates faith does not deceive; therefore it is not a fraud, but a miracle.”  --George Bernard Shaw
    "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over-shadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:34-37 NIV).
Just take a moment and let the significance of these words sink into your mind and heart.  Here we see two women who were used of God; one to bring the Christ-child into our world and the other to birth John the Baptist who would herald Jesus' coming.  Not in our wildest imagination could such a scenario of miraculous events be conceived.  Miracles, by their very nature, are supernatural and originate from the realm of the “impossible.”  They baffle the minds of us mere humans.  As acts of God, they seem to go against the known laws of nature, science, and reason.  But some miracles seem even more impossible than others.  Jesus said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27 NIV).  
God sent His Son into the world as a fulfilment of His promises to His people as written by the prophets.  That same Jesus has made some wonderful promises to you and me.  He has promised to give us eternal life through faith in Him.  He has promised that our sins have been forgiven through His atoning death on the cross.  He has promised that His Holy Spirit will live within us as believers to teach us, guide us, convict us and encourage us.  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  He has promised to come back to earth a second time to claim His church and to take us into His presence for eternity.  These are wonderful promises that, sadly, are seen as foolishness to many because they appear to be impossible and make no sense to carnal minds.
We can rejoice not only in celebration of Jesus' miraculous birth but for all He has done for us and for His promises for our future.  It is by faith that we can claim these promises and have the complete assurance that what God says in His Word is absolutely true and reliable.  We know that God specializes in the impossible.  If we understood everything about God, He wouldn't be God, but only an extension of our own minds.  Let's rejoice that we serve a God who did the impossible by having a virgin conceive and be the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If God can do this, He can certainly bring to reality the promises He has made to us, His children.
We can rejoice with Mary as she said, ". . . the Mighty One has done great things for me -- holy is his name" (Luke 1:49 NIV).

Love, Jerry & Dotse