Wednesday, February 25, 2015

God's Call On Your Life

Chuckle: Michelangelo's mother: "Can't you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?"
Quote: "Show me the way,  Not to fortune and fame,  Not how to win Laurels  Or praise for my name --  But show me the way  To spread 'The Great Story'  That Thine is The Kingdom  And Power and Glory."              --Helen Steiner Rice
GOD'S CALL ON YOUR LIFE
    "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8 NIV).
This powerful passage reminds us that God calls his people for specific purposes. It also reminds us that the response which pleases and honors God is "Here I am, send me." Or, "Here I am Lord and I will gladly do whatever you wish me to do -- Your will be done. . . ."
There is a central truth: God's call is not only for a select few, but for every believer. Isaiah was listening to a non-specific call from God, but he personalized it by stepping forward in complete abandon to make himself available for whatever God had in store for him. Whether we hear the call of God depends on the condition of our hearts and spiritual ears. And how we interpret that call depends on our spiritual mindset. Am I listening for the call of God? Will I hear him when he calls? Or, am I so far away from God that I can't hear his voice?
"But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear (and obey), but shalt be drawn away, and worship other God's and serve them; I denounce (declare) unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish. . ." (Deuteronomy 30:17-18 KJV).
We see here the classic pattern of people drifting away and rebelling against God. You see, if our hearts are turned away from God, we will not hear Him. Then we will establish other substitute gods in our lives -- anything that becomes more important to us than our relationship and fellowship with God. When this process has run it's course, we will no longer be listening for the One True God's call. We will not hear that still small voice of invitation to join Him in fulfilling His purpose for our lives.
As a pastor, I have had Christians say they did not sense God calling them to teach a Bible study class, serve on a committee, or to witness to a lost friend. Sometimes our hearts can turn away from God and toward other things. Then we can move so far from God that we are unable to hear his call and don't know if God is calling us or not. We may not be listening for God's call because our hearts are turned away to other selfish things. To hear God's call, we must listen intently and with purpose -- leaning forward toward him with anticipation while cupping our spiritual ears with our hands, so to speak, for fear that we might miss something the God of the universe wishes to say to us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Heavenly Promise

Chuckle:  Child's prayer: "Dear God, maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother."
Quote: "Heaven is the most beautiful place the mind of God could conceive and the hand of God could create." --R.G. Lee
HEAVENLY PROMISE
    "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust (believe) in God; trust (believe) also in me. In my Father's house (heaven) are many (rooms) mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:1-4 NIV).
In our passage, Jesus' crucifixion was near, and I'm sure the disciples were beside themselves with fear, anxiety, and worry. They were about to lose their leader, mentor, teacher, and companion who had been with them constantly for the better part of three years. They had come to depend upon him in so many ways. In his tender "Jesus" way, our Lord comforted his disciples with one of the most beautiful promises in the New Testament.
Each of us will experience death at a time of God's choosing. Also, each of us has, or will, experience the loss of someone very dear to us. It is a horrible experience when we lose a loved one. But I'm sure you will join me in thanking God that he has given each of us the capacity to grieve such losses. We are created in the image of God and our ability to grieve reminds me of how God must grieve when he loses a precious soul who has rejected his love and the atoning blood of Jesus for the remission of sins -- one who has said "no" to the promise of salvation and eternal life with God in a place the Bible calls heaven.
For those of us who have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we need not fear the time when our eternal souls leave our physical bodies. And also as we grieve for other Christians we have lost, we should not grieve as those with no hope of seeing them again. Paul puts in this way: "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (die), or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13 NIV).
This brings us back to our passage from John. Jesus, right now, is preparing a place for each and every Christian. Dr. Paul Powell points out that from Jesus' own words we are reminded that we have faith in the PERSON of Jesus Christ. "Trust in God; trust also in me." We also have faith in a PLACE in heaven that Jesus is preparing for us. "I am going there to prepare a place for you." Finally, we have faith in a PROMISE that Jesus will return and receive us into his presence so "that we also may be where He is."
If we have this kind of faith, it will ease the anxiety about our own deaths, and also make us realize that ". . . to be absent from the body, and (is) to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV). Praise Him for this Amazing Promises!!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bluffing

Chuckle:  A speeding driver was pulled over.  The driver asked, “Why was I pulled over when I was not the only one speeding?”  The policeman replied, “Have you ever been fishing?”  “Yes,” answered the motorist.  “And have you ever caught all the fish?”
 
Quote:  “. . . They always talk who never think.”  --Matthew Prior
 
BLUFFING
 
    “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, . .  (James 1:19b NIV).  “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 NIV).
 
Have you ever tried to bluff your way through a conversation by talking in an attempt to hide your ignorance about the subject.  Pride is a terrible, powerful, and destructive force within us.  Pride tells us it is a sign of weakness to admit we are wrong or less informed than someone else.  Have you ever come to the conclusion that you were wrong about something, but you kept on arguing your position anyway.  I’m reminded of a saying I heard as a young boy: “You would argue with a road sign and then take the wrong road.”  When we try to bluff our way through an embarrassing situation by talking rather than listening, we are certain to lose credibility and feel shame, guilt, and regret in the long run.
 
Because of pride, we feel compelled to look better and more important than someone else.  Confessing ignorance is difficult for the proud person; but real strength is displayed when we swallow or pride, listen carefully, and confess that we don’t have all the answers.  Constant, meaningless, thoughtless, and offensive chatter may be an effort to hide a lack of ability, knowledge, or confidence.  The following should teach each of us a valuable lesson:
 
    Once, while crossing the Atlantic, an editor was approached by a fellow passenger.  “I just wanted to tell you” the man said, and it was obvious he was speaking with considerable emotion, “how deeply I appreciated your message.”
    Now, the editor could not recall the occasion for any message; in fact he could not even place the man who seemed so grateful.  But rather than admit he was at a loss, he said rather grandly:  “Oh, that’s all right.  I was glad for the opportunity to send it.”
    Naturally, he was puzzled when the other man turned absolutely white and left abruptly without another word.
    On making discreet inquiries, the old editor confessed, “I learned that I knew the man, indeed, and that the message I had been ‘so glad to send’ him had been one of condolence on the recent death of his wife!”  --Sidney Shalett
 
We can avoid all such blunders and embarrassments by being quick to listen and slow to speak -- by thinking first and speaking only after we understand what the other person is saying and have carefully considered the impact of our words on the other person.   
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse   

Monday, February 2, 2015

Prayer: Our Spiritual Breath

Chuckle: A lady stopped for speeding was asked to show her driver’s license.  She replied, “Yesterday you took my license, now you expect me to show it to you!”
Quote: "For the Christian, praying should be like breathing. Just as breathing is the response of physical life to the presence of air, so prayer should be the response of spiritual life to the presence of God."Unknown source 
PRAYER: OUR SPIRITUAL BREATH
    "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 NIV).
In the same way that we continually breathe physically, God would have us to continually breathe spiritually through prayer.  Prayer is not just a spiritual exercise, or keeping up appearances before others, or a shot in the dark -- hoping God may hear.  No, prayer is conversing with your Heavenly Father in the same way you might talk with your earthly father.  Your prayers are meant for His ears only and reveal the very essence of your being -- the deepest recesses of your heart.
Our joyfulness, prayerfulness, and thankfulness should be continuous and should not ebb and flow with changing circumstances in our lives.  You breathe physically through every situation, good or bad, and do not stop breathing when you have a physical crisis.  No, your oxygen flow becomes even more critical during difficult times.  Likewise, we need spiritual breath at all times.  Obeying the instructions in our passage -- be joyful, keep on praying, and be thankful -- often goes against our natural inclinations.  However, when we make a conscious decision to do what God says in reference to prayer, we will find it much easier to be joyful and thankful.
Obviously, we cannot spend all our time on our knees in prayer, but it is possible for us to have a prayerful attitude at all times.  It happens when your walk with your Lord becomes so close and intimate that you sense his presence with you every second of every day.  His Holy Spirit's presence becomes an extension of you own -- like you becoming one with him.  Once we reach this kind of relationship with God, it makes good sense that we converse with him continually.
Prayer can become as normal as breathing when we acknowledge our dependence on God, realizing his presence within us, and determine to obey him fully.  Praying will then become natural, frequent, short, and spontaneous.  One way to describe this concept is "breath prayers."  As you think about your Lord during your daily activities, and as you breathe, you can use your inhalations as reminders to hear God speak to you and your exhalations as reminders to speak to God concerning the desires of your heart.  For example: As you exhale, praise God for his boundless love; and as you inhale, hear him say, "I love you and am with you always."  In other words your physical breathing can remind you to breathe spiritually.
One final thought: A continuous prayerful attitude should not replace regular times of prayer and meditation on God's Word, but be an outgrowth of regular times with God.

Love, Jerry & Dotse