Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Delight In The Lord

Chuckle:  On his first safari, the American visitor sidled up to the experienced native guide and said smugly, “I know that carrying a torch will keep the lions away.”  “That’s true,” the guide replied, “but it depends on how fast you carry the torch.”
Quote: "O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire thee with our whole heart; that so desiring, we may seek, and seeking, find thee; and so finding thee, may love thee; and loving thee, may hate those sins from which thou hast redeemed us." --St. Anselm
DELIGHT IN THE LORD
    "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4 NIV).
Do you and I really know and understand the deepest desires of our hearts? I think many of us deal mostly with the superficial wants in our lives, but do not take the time to let God show us how to touch the innermost and most important desire of our hearts. We may think we know what we want and go about trying to get it while our deepest yearning goes unsatisfied -- the desire that please God most. Yes, it is God's desire that you delight in Him; that you find your ultimate joy and pleasure in Him.
As God created us, He designed and shaped us to desire and delight in Him above all else. The psalmist put that desire this way, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1 NIV). God made our hearts for Himself because He understands that we will only be truly happy and content when He becomes our greatest delight. As we take delight in our Lord, we will commit our life to Him, and everything we do will be to glorify Him.
How do we go about making God our greatest desire and delight? Well, let's think about it from a human relationship point of view. When we delight in someone, it's usually someone we know well and we experience great pleasure and extreme joy while in his or her presence. Similarly, if we are to delight in the Lord, we must draw closer to Him and constantly seek to know Him better by spending time with Him. Also, our delight is heightened when we stop to consider how much He loves us.
If lasting happiness and contentment could be found in having material things, then most of us should be deliriously happy and content beyond description. But the things of this world can never bring us the contentment and fulfillment for which our God-made hearts so desperately yearn. Without God there will always be a great unfilled void in our lives. But if we continue to seek our happiness in the Lord, He will provide what our hearts desire most -- peace and contentment. If we delight in the Lord and seek Him as our most treasured possession, He will give us our greatest desire which, in reality, is Himself.
"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again; Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV).

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Condemning Other Christians

Chuckle: A child prayed, "Dear God, Thank you for the baby brother but I asked for a puppy. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up." Joyce

Quote: “As we learn to shorten the time between offense and forgiveness, there becomes no time left for anger or vindictiveness.”  --Unknown source 

CONDEMNING OTHER CHRISTIANS

   "So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. . . Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So don't condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path" (Romans 14:10,12-13 NLT).

As we study the history of the Christian faith and church, we find numerous incidences where spiritual pride was the basis for criticisms of fellow believers. There are some Christian practices that the Bible leaves open to interpretation, and these differences of interpretation have often become major sources of disagreement and conflict. In Romans, chapter 14, Paul deals with this issue. His thesis is that in Christian practice where there is room for interpretation, we are to accept one another in love even when we disagree.

I know many Christians who practice some aspects of their faith and worship differently than I do, but this makes them no less faithful to their Lord. If a person has been saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, as Savior and Lord and is committed to serving Him, the principle requirement of faith has been fulfilled. We should always be considerate, encouraging and accepting of other Christians rather than being critical, condescending and condemning. 

It's true that the church must stand fast against practices that are expressly forbidden in God's Word, but we should not create additional rules and regulations and make them as important as God's specific instructions. Too often believers base their judgments of others on personal opinion, preference or adherence to a tradition. By doing so, our own lack of faith is exposed in that we don't think God is strong enough to guide His children without our help. 

Paul's message is that we should remain strong in our faith while being sensitive to the faith of others. When we consider the feelings of others before our own, we will always be amazed at the response we will receive. It is very difficult for people to return unkindness when they become convinced they are loved and appreciated -- when they know their best interests are a major consideration in a relationship. 

None of us is so strong in our faith that we are without weaknesses and we should always be concerned about the effects of our behavior on others. As we grow in our faith, we will become more concerned about giving an account to God for our own actions rather than judging those of others.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, September 19, 2014

Foolishness

Chuckle: What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? The saurus.
Quote: "The fruit of wisdom is Christlikeness, peace, humility, and love; and the root of it is faith in Christ as the manifested wisdom of God." --J. I. Packer
FOOLISHNESS
    "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV).
In this passage, Paul makes one thing abundantly clear -- the person who has the Holy Spirit resident within him can understand the world from God's perspective -- that is if he relies upon the Holy Spirit in his discernments. As Christians, we have access to the very mind of Christ through His indwelling Spirit and God's written Word. So, the question is not whether God has given us the ability to discern right from wrong or good from evil; but rather it is whether or not we listen to the Holy Spirit.
In Psalm 15, the psalmist asks the question: "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?" To state the question another way; "Who will you welcome into your presence to worship you?" In the Psalm, several characteristics are listed for the person God welcomes into His presence. Verse five says, "he who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord." This requirement is one of perspective. This person must first be able to discern what is to be despised and what is to be honored -- what is good and holy in God's sight and what is vile in His sight. Such a man has a clear vision of what is good and what is evil, because he sees the world as God sees it.
As Christians, our spiritual discernment senses can become dulled so that we no longer are offended by ungodly conduct. We can find ourselves compromising our convictions and adopting some of the same moral values that God detests. I venture to say that many of us are not offended by some television programs that would have caused us to turn the TV off in disgust twenty years ago. Not only are we not offended by them, but we may have come to enjoy them. Our moral senses are no longer as keen and discerning as God wants them to be in recognizing right and wrong.
God only invites holy people into his presence for worship that pleases Him. Perhaps each of us should reevaluate our tolerance of evil, ask God's forgiveness if we have compromised our spiritual integrity, and commit ourselves anew to holy living. Then God will invite us into His holy presence for worship. As we seek to live holy lives, God will continue to sharpen our spiritual sensitivity with new abilities to discern between things of the Spirit and things of the world.

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Feelings In Perspective

Chuckle: TEACHER: "Clyde, your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?" CLYDE: "No, teacher, it's the same dog."
Quote: “When we have 'second thoughts' about something, our first thoughts don't seem like thoughts at all — just feelings.” --Sydney J. Harris
FEELINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
    "Surely you heard of Christ and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (feelings); to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness"  (Ephesians 4:21-22 NIV).
The proper order for making life's decisions is facts, faith, and, finally, feelings.  “Take a strong foundation, build a house upon it, and then above the house you have the clouds and the weather. The foundation is the fact/truth of God's Word; the house is our faith settled down on the foundation; the weather represents our feelings because it is constantly changing -- coming and going." Unknown source.  Let’s consider the following two truths:
1. I should make the right decision, take the right action, and do the right things based on God's truth, not how I feel. The Bible says we are to renew our minds.  How does God renew our minds?  Through His Word -- His truth.  God wants us to choose to do the right thing even before we feel like it.  If you wait until you feel like reading your Bible, praying, attending church, witnessing, doing the right thing, you won't do much -- that is until God matures you to the point that your desires and feelings begin to correspond with His truth.  His Spirit will empower you to choose to do what's right.  Paul said we should put off the old way of thinking by saturating ourselves with divine truth, then living it -- even when we don't feel like it.
2. I should constantly affirm the truth of God's Word.  We are to "prepare our minds for action. Be self-controlled." How do you do this?  You choose to do what God says in His Holy Word.  As you affirm the truths of God's Word, you can make decisions and take actions you never thought you could make or do.   I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).  If you have feelings of doubt and insecurity, listen:
"This then is how we know we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything" (I John 3:19-20 NIV).
If I confess my sins, and ask God to empower me, then He will give me strength.  To win at life, we must learn to control the way we feel.  Remember, God is in control even when you feel nothing.  We must rely on His promises and His truth.  True Christian maturity comes when our feelings begin to correspond, through faith, with His truth and will.  "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 NIV).

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Feelings and God's Will

No posts September 4th and 5th.  Will resume Monday, September 8th.
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Chuckle: "Cosmetics were used in the Middle Ages; in fact they're still used in the middle ages."
Quote: “You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.” --Pearl S. Buck
FEELINGS AND GOD'S WILL
    "Do not conform yourselves any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Rom.12:2 NIV).
Our feelings are not reliable and often mislead us.  Here are some examples. (1) Sometimes Christians may feel worthless to God and others. This may be the way you feel, but God sees you as His precious child, a citizen of heaven, a special person.  (2) You may not feel God's presence in your life.  Does this mean his presence is not with you?  When you feel this way, read Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  This promise is true regardless of our feelings.  (3) Sometimes we don't feel the strength to do what we know God wants us to do.  Remember, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13 NIV) -- if I trust Him and not my feelings.
Feelings are influenced by circumstances, people, and the devil.  We must test our feelings against the truths of his Word.  Satan will try to get you to doubt divine truths and make you feel down and discouraged.  Feelings must not be allowed to determine your decisions in life.  Your feelings of need for acceptance, approval, belonging, etc., may mislead you into making bad decisions that can ruin your life.
If you purchase your dream home based on your feelings and it is beyond your means, trouble is on the way.  Your decision was not based on truth.  The most basic truth is if you don't accept Jesus Christ as Savior, you will spend eternity separated from God in a place the Bible calls "hell," no matter how you feel about it.  Can you see the problem with making important decisions based on feelings. Controlling our feelings is not easy.  This quote reveals the reason:
"The human personality is said to consist of roughly four-fifths emotions and one-fifth intellect. This means that our decisions are arrived at on the basis of 80 percent emotions (feelings) and only 20 percent intellect (reasoning). To engage in a confrontation, or even a discussion, without taking emotions into account is to be only 20 percent effective in your dealings with people."Unknown source
Understanding the importance of human emotions is essential for successful interpersonal relationships.  And we must also recognize how powerful our own emotions and feelings are and let God's will from his Word override our feelings when it comes to making life's decisions.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Feelings Are Unreliable

Chuckle: A teenager complained to a friend: "My dad wants me to have all the things he never had as a boy – including straight A's on my report card."
Quote: “We must become acquainted with our emotional household; we must see our feelings as they actually are, not as we assume they are. This breaks their hypnotic and damaging hold on us.”  --Vernon Howard
FEELINGS ARE UNRELIABLE
    "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children do not conform to the evil desires (feelings) you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do"  (1 Peter 1:13-15 NIV).
In my military pilot training, I was taught to fly aircraft by instruments. When flying in clouds, and other conditions of low visibility, it becomes necessary to fly solely from the information displayed on the aircraft's instruments.  One of the most difficult things to learn is how to ignore your feelings when you have no visual reference to the ground, or horizon, and believe what the instruments are telling you.  Trying to fly based on feelings can lead to disaster as vertigo sets in.  Your feelings are totally unreliable, and the factual information being displayed by the instruments must be trusted for safe flight.
Do you make life's decisions based on feelings?  Do you attend church only when you feel like it?  Do you live your life by moods and emotions?  Either your feelings master you, or you master your feelings. Don't get me wrong, emotions and feelings are God-given and are very important for a happy life. The problem is, our feelings can misdirect us.
Here are three true or false statements - I should live my life: (1) based on my feelings; (2) based on my faith; or (3) or based on facts.  If we live by our feelings, we will make many mistakes because they are unreliable.  Therefore this statement is false.  Whether or not we should live by faith depends on the object of that faith; not faith in self, some philosophy, new age concept, or some person who is unreliable.  Unless faith is in Christ, this statement is also false.  It's true, we should live based on facts -- the facts of God's Word.  Jesus said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32 NIV).  God's Word is true whether I believe it or not - whether I act upon it or not - whether I feel good about it or not.
Bill Bright used a Train Diagram to put our feelings in perspective. The Engine represents the facts of God's Word; the Coal Car is faith which provides the fuel; and the Caboose represents feelings.  You cannot drive the train from the caboose.  Believing God's Word and acting on it is the key.  Like the aircraft instruments, God's Word always has an accurate and reliable message for me when my feelings get in the way of his will for my life.  If we are to win at Life, we must be good students of the Scriptures and make life's decisions based their truths, not how we feel.
Love, Jerry & Dotse