Monday, August 25, 2014

A Happy Face

Chuckle - Child's Prayer: "Dear God, we read that Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday School they said you did it.  So I bet he stoled your idea." Sincerely, Donna
Quote:  “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”Anne Frank

   "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health" (Proverbs 15:30 NLT). "A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart, and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle" (MSG).
When I stopped for a sandwich at a local SUBWAY store sometime back, the place was humming with a long line of customers waiting to be served.  Behind the counter was an attractive middle-aged lady with the most pleasant face I had seen in some time.  Her radiant smile, patience and kind words lifted the spirits of those standing in line.  She appeared totally happy and content as she rushed to fill the rapid-fire orders from hungry customers.  She made the whole experience one I will not soon forget.  I thought at the time, that's the demeanor each and every Christian should project.
Can others perceive that you are a Christian by just looking at you?  Does your countenance reveal the joy in your heart?  Do your words and actions reflect the love of Christ to those around you?  If you are living with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God, your actions will show it.  You know you are not alone as you walk through even the most difficult times of your life and that confidence in Gods never-ending presence fills you with feelings of joy, contentment, peace, and excitement that cannot be hidden.
When others see joy in your life, no doubt it will bring joy to the theirs.  Jesus said, "By this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another" (John 13:35).  A person experiencing the real joy of Jesus Christ will love others and want to share that joy.  As you show that love, and others see you doing it, you are a living testimony of what Christ has done for you.
As the "good news" (gospel) of Jesus Christ brings joy to your heart and transforms your life, that same good news will bring the same results to others.   Good news is always a tonic for the body and soul.  People will know by your expressions of love and happy face that you are living in fellowship with God.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, August 22, 2014

Worry Is Wrong

Chuckle: "To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong, admit it. Whenever you are right, shut up." --Ogden Nash
Good Quote: “Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night.” –Unknown source
   "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear" (Matthew 6:25 NIV). "Seek first his (God's) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:33-34 NIV). "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27 NIV).
From his discourse to his followers in the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus gives us instructions in the practical aspects of Christian living.  He deals with a subject here that is very real to many of us, worry.  I must admit I've done some major league worrying myself at times.  Some worry about everything as if their worrying will somehow make the dreaded situation more pleasant and acceptable.  In reality, worrying about something will not change it one iota. "Worry is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere."
Jesus is well aware of the human tendency to worry and chose to address it in a direct and straight forward way.  He says, "Do not worry." He says we are to focus our attention on Him, His kingdom, and His righteousness; then He will provide to us all the needs (not wants) of life.  If you are worrying, you are trusting in yourself rather than God.  Most of the time, worrying comes from a feeling of inadequacy and our inability to control a situation or solve problems in our lives rather than trusting them to God.  When you worry, you are placing all the pressure of the future upon yourself.
It is not only useless to worry, it is an act of infidelity toward God.  When He tells us not to worry but we do it anyway, we are being disobedient and untrusting.  We are saying to God, "I don't believe your promise to look after the practical needs of my life, so I must do it myself."  That's an arrogant attitude toward God, don't you think?
God says the cares of this world will choke His words out of us.  Usually, it is the little cares and worries that make us so uncomfortable.  Most of the things we worry about either don't materialize or are not nearly as bad as we imagined.  If we are worrying, we are not trusting God to deal with the future we cannot see.  The only cure for this lack of trust is obedience to His words. "Now faith (trust) is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see . . . Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:1, 6 NIV).
The operative concept here is to abandon yourself into God's hands and trust him completely.  But, does this mean we just sit on our hands and do nothing while trusting God to take care of us and grant each little desire of our hearts?  Of course not.  He gave us our minds and abilities and we are to use them, for his glory, in providing for our families and ourselves.  However, while we are doing our best with talents God has given us, we should not worry.  We trust the outcome to God.  This allows us to live in peace and contentment rather than anxiety and worry.

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Confessing Jesus As Lord

Chuckle: A child was asked to complete this statement: Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and . . . . . . . "someone yells , "Shut up!"
Quote: "Finding God is not our greatest need; rather it is recognizing Him in each of life's ever-present situations, and then submitting to His will." --William Ward
   ". . . in human form he (Jesus) obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross. Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name. So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11 NLT).
As I contemplated this passage, I was reminded of a TV commercial where an automobile repairman says, "pay me now or pay me later."  He says we can pay him to fix a minor problem at little cost; or we can wait until the problem becomes more serious and costs much more to repair.
We can confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior now while we still have time and only costs us our faith and trust in Him, or we can wait until the last judgment when it will be too late to save us and the cost will be spending eternity separated from God in a place the Bible calls "hell."  Not a pleasant thought.
This is one of the most profound passages in Scripture.  At the last judgment, if not before, every human being will bow down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  It describes the exalted position of Jesus and the power of His name which is far greater than any other. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 NIV).
For those of us who know Christ as Savior and Lord, this passage affirms our faith and the joy we experience from having confessed who He is, repented of our sins, received His forgiveness, and asked Him into our lives.  Our confession of Jesus includes thanksgiving, praise, and life-long commitment to Him.  My prayer is that you have made such a commitment to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"A man was shown a red glass bottle and asked what he thought was in the bottle. He replied, 'wine? brandy? whiskey?' When told it was full of milk, he could not believe it until he saw the milk poured out. He hadn't known that the bottle was made of red glass which hid the color of the milk. So it was with our Lord's humanity. Men saw him tired, hungry, suffering, weeping, and thought he was only a man. He was made in the likeness of men, yet he ever is God over all, blessed forever."  --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Grace, Abounding

Chuckle:  Hearing her young son open the front door, A mother shouted, “Be careful on that floor, Jimmy; it’s just been waxed.”  Walking right in, Jimmy replied, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’m wearing my cleats.”
Quote:  “It is good for us to think that no grace or blessing is truly ours till we are aware that God has blessed some one else with it through us.” --Phillips Brooks
   "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV).
A few years back, I received an e-mail from Dayspring Devotions in which they emphasized the wonderful acts of God's grace toward each of us every day we live as Christians.  I will quote them before providing some commentary of my own.
"Grace. What a wonderful word! The very sound of it brings health and healing, comfort and reassurance, encouragement and hope. What does this wonderful word mean to us who have trusted in Christ? What is Grace? Here are some helpful and wonderful definitions that have been written and spoken through the years:
Grace is God's Riches At Christ's Expense. 
Grace is God's unmerited favor. 
Grace is God working in us the will and desire to do the things that please him. 
Grace is receiving from God what we do not deserve, freely, without money or price. 
Grace is God's influence upon us resulting in happiness and thankfulness."
Any strength we may possess that let's us pattern our lives after Jesus, by showing unearned and undeserved love, is given to us by God Himself.  There is nothing we can do to make ourselves worthy of receiving God's grace because if we earned it, we would deserve it, and grace, by its very nature, is that which we do not deserve.
"For it is by (God's) grace you have been saved through faith . . ." (Ephesians 2:8 NIV). Our very salvation and eternal life are gifts from God -- by His grace.  "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me . . ."  This undeserved grace is a function of God's love and mercy.  We just need to accept God's free grace gift, then allow His grace to work through us.  It is this work of God that motivates us to work for Him for His glory and the good of others.
During the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt came to Clara Barton of the Red Cross to buy some supplies for his sick and wounded men.  His request was refused. Roosevelt was troubled and asked, "How can I get these things?  I must have proper food for my sick men." "Just ask for them, Colonel," said Barton.  "Oh," said Roosevelt, "then I do ask for them."  He got them at once through grace, not through purchase.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, August 15, 2014

Love as Jesus Loves You

Chuckle: "One way to improve your memory is to lend people money!"
Quote: "To love as Jesus loves; that is not only the Lord's precept, it is our vocation. When all is said and done it is the one thing we have to learn, for it is perfection." --Rene` Voillaume
    "Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other" (Romans 12 9-10 NLT).
I read about a church meeting where emotions were running high because of differing opinions about something.  A bystander, watching and listening, could not miss the rancor, hurtful words, bitterness, pride and a lack of Christian love being shown.  After the tumultuous meeting, the same members went outside and found a young pregnant mother in the parking lot with a baby in her arms and holding a second child by the hand.  She desperately need help.  The same church members who were fighting just a few minutes before now joined together to show love and support for someone they didn't even know.  Does this seem strange to you?
When Jesus was about to go to the cross, he said to His disciples, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove that you are my disciples" (John 13:34-35 NLT).
When you take our two passages together, a beautiful picture is revealed about how we should love our Christian brothers and sisters -- brotherly love for those closest to us.  Jesus knew His followers would need a special kind of love for each other if they were to come through the crisis of His crucifixion and later to carry out the Great Commission to evangelize the world (Matthew 28:19-20.
Previously, Jesus had taught that the standard for loving others was to "love your neighbor as you love yourself."  But He knew this kind of neighborly love, would be inadequate for His followers in loving each other.  Here Jesus sets a new standard of brotherly love for believers.  Now we are to love other Christians not as we love ourselves but as Jesus has loved us.  This is the unconditional sacrificial "agape" love like that with which Jesus has loved us as He gave Himself for us on the cross.  This kind of love will motivate us to love both believers, our neighbors and all others as Jesus has loved us.
Have you noticed that we often tend to treat total strangers with greater kindness than those closest to us -- in our biological families as well as our spiritual/church families.  This was the case of the young woman in the parking lot.  You see, it is our love for each other that proves to the world that we belong to and are followers of Christ. 
Jesus assumes that people will see our acts of love for each other.  If they don’t see our acts of love for each other, how will they know we belong to Christ.  We cannot limit our expressions of love to the four walls of the church.  Rather we show our love in our homes, our work places, our classrooms, and everywhere we go each day.  let's examine our hearts and see if we genuinely love one another as Jesus has loved us or if we are pretending.  It's easy to say we love someone, but the genuineness of our words is proven by our actions.

Love, Jerry & Dotse