Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jesus Christ: Who Is He?

Chuckle: TEACHER: "Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago." WINNIE: "Me!"
Quote: "Apart from Christ we know neither what our life nor our death is; we do not know what God is nor what we ourselves are." --Blaise Pascal
    "But what about you?" he (Jesus) asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:15-16 NIV).
You may be wondering why I would raise this question to my readers, most of whom are born again believers who have answered, to their own satisfaction, the question about the identity of Jesus Christ. Not only have they settled the issue of who Jesus is, but they are so sure of their conclusion that they have committed their lives to Him and placed their eternal souls in His hands -- trusting Him to fulfill His promise that they will spend eternity with Him in a place the Bible calls heaven.
While Jesus was here on earth, there was much confusion about who He really was. Jesus asked his disciples what people were saying about His identity. "Well" they replied, "some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets" (vs. 14). It took Peter's enlightened answer for Jesus to say, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven" (vs. 17). It is faith like Peter's that forms the very foundation of God's kingdom.
Even today, the identity of Jesus Christ is a matter of much disagreement. Some discount Him all together, while others acknowledge His importance in history because of His wise teachings. Many deny that He is God incarnate who lived on earth as a man and died to redeem mankind from enslavement to sin. What would your answer be if Jesus were to ask you, "Who do you say I am?"
Do you believe He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to the virgin Mary? "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel! -- which means 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:23).
Do you believe He, as God, came to earth as a human being to "save his people from their sins?" (Matthew 1:21). 
Do you believe He suffered and died to pay the penalty for your sins and mine? "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Do you believe He rose again on the third day victorious over sin, death and the grave? "He is not here; he has risen, just as he said" (Matthew 28:6). 
Do you believe He is coming again someday to claim His church -- all believers? "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24:44).
Do you believe that "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).
If you believe these truths and have a personal testimony concerning your own relationship with Jesus Christ, you should have no trouble answering Jesus' question, "Who do you say I am?"

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, October 23, 2014

God's Never Ending Grace

Chuckle: A kind woman watched a small boy as he tried to reach the doorbell of a house. Thinking she should help, she walked up and rang it for him. “Okay, what now?” the woman asked the boy. “Run like crazy,” he answered. “That’s what I’m gonna do!”
Ponder This:  “Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    "The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father , full of grace and truth . . . From the fullness of his grace we have all received (one) blessing (grace) after another(John 1:14, 16 NIV).
God's grace is an amazing attribute of his character. Literally, "grace" is getting what we do not deserve -- or more than we deserve. Grace should not be confused with "mercy," which is not getting what we deserve, or "justice," which is getting what we deserve. Initially, it is God's grace whereby we are saved: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
As important as God's grace is for our salvation, there is much more of his grace available to us every single day. Remember, God wants each of us to experience a life full of joy and peace. He wants us to have the absolute best and fullest life that only he can give us. See John 10:10.
In our basic passage, we are told that Jesus came full of grace and truth. God's "grace" springs from his never ending boundless love and generosity. "Truth," on the other hand, stresses God's determination to be consistent, reliable, predictable, and trustworthy in his dealings with us. You can trust all the promises of God recorded in his Word. You can take them to the bank, so to speak. Grace without truth would make it meaningless. In declaring the character of God, Jesus combined an infinite tenderness toward us, as sinful people, with an unswerving fidelity and faithfulness.
Also, notice that God gives us his grace followed by even more grace -- one portion of grace after another. The flow of God's grace is like the waves of the ocean. One wave of grace is followed by another wave of grace over and over again. God's grace is never ending. Once the gift of God's grace is received, it never stops flowing and growing. God wants us to be conscious of his grace and draw upon it daily for strength, peace, and comfort. And, as the God of truth, he wants us to trust him implicitly and rely upon his promises. Promises like: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5b NIV), or "I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20b NIV).  

Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rest In Jesus

Chuckle:  A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?" "I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
Quote:  "No soul can have rest until it finds created things are empty. When the soul gives up all for love, so that it can have Him that is all, then it finds true rest." --Julian of Norwich
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11-28-30 NIV).
"The Message" translates these verses this way. "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" (vs. 28-30 MSG). I suppose I like this translation because it best describes my own personal interpretation of what Jesus was actually saying to His disciples and to us.
A yoke is a heavy wooden harness made to fit over the shoulders of oxen, which is attached to a plow or some other piece of tilling equipment for the oxen to pull. Jesus used this analogy to help us understand that He never intends to burden us down or wear us out in service for His kingdom. Regardless of what He asks us to do, He promises to give us rest and peace in Him and to restore our strength.
The rest that Jesus promises does not imply the absence of hard work, but spiritual rest and renewal by His love, healing, and peace. The concept reminds me of the question: "what's the difference between work and play?" We may exert even more energy at play than at our work, but the difference rests in our attitude toward what we are doing.
If we enjoy what we are doing, we are refreshed and exhilarated by it. Regardless of the amount of effort required or energy expended, we call it "play." Our relationship and fellowship with Jesus transforms meaningless and burdensome labor into joyous and refreshing spiritual purpose and productivity.
"You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you." --St Augustine of Hippo
Love, Jerry & Dotse