Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reasons for Failures

Chuckle: “What should you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant.  --George Carlin
Quote: "Jesus will not overlook your shortcomings or simply encourage you to do better the next time. He will give you victory in the midst of your failure." --Henry Blackaby
REASONS FOR FAILURES
Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets" (Luke 5:5 NIV). Simon and the other fishermen had failed to catch fish after trying all night long. But when they obeyed Jesus and let down their nets where He directed, they caught so many fish that their nets were torn. As we think about ways we fail our Lord, ourselves, and each other, let's consider some reasons we do so.
First, We fail because we don't plan for victory. "A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them. The simple minded man never looks (ahead) and suffers the consequences" (Proverbs 27:12 TLB). To fail to plan is to plan to fail. When we don't see the future with God's vision and direction, we fail. Success comes when God's plans become our own.
Second, we fail because we give up too soon. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9 NIV). We may want to throw in the towel and say, "I just can't study the Bible and pray every day -- I just can't be a witness for Christ." The path of least resistance usually leads to failure. Thomas Edison tried 200 different ways to make an incandescent light bulb before succeeding. He saw this as an education process -- he had learned 200 ways that didn't work and one way that did.
We learn through our failures if we will only let God teach us. If we reject God and go our own way to failure, the lessons learned are often painful. I'm still learning -- but God says, "Don't give up -- don't quit -- keep at it." The neat thing about a postage stamp is that it sticks to one thing all the way to its destination. God always sticks with us and helps us to be victorious.
Third, we fail because we're afraid to take risks. "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety" (Proverbs 29:25 NIV). We're often afraid to take risks. "Lord, I hate my job, but I need the money -- I can't risk changing." But, God says, "Here's what I want you do and I'll be with you." We say we can't step out in faith -- God says you can, with His strength. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13: NIV). The greatest failure is not trying -- failure to step out in faith. Often, we're afraid of what people might think. Fearing the opinions of others is a trap which keeps us from stepping out in faith, but trusting God gives victory and safety.
Fourth, we fail because we go our way rather than God's way. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12 NIV). By our actions, we say our ways are better than what God wants for us. It's my selfish, egotistical, stubborn way that leads to failure, defeat, and disappointment. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way" Isaiah 53:6 NIV). God's way leads to success, but our inclinations are often the opposite of what God says. God says, "My ways are not your ways; my thoughts are not your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8 NIV).
If you are in the midst of defeat and failure in some area of your life, God wants to give you victory and will do so if you turn to him and his Word for answers.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dealing With Failure

Chuckle: A motorist, after being bogged down in a muddy road, paid a farmer twenty dollars to pull him out with his tractor. He said to the farmer, "At those prices, I should think you'd be pulling people out of the mud day and night." "Can't. At night I haul water for the hole."
Quote: "The man who wins may have been counted out several times, but he didn't hear the referee." --H. E. Jansen
DEALING WITH FAILURE AND DEFEAT
"My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart's desires are broken" (Job 17:11 NLT).
Let's learn together how to overcome failures and be victorious in our Christian living. In our passage, Job expresses how some of us feel at times. If you don't feel the need for a lesson on handling defeat and failure right now, just take note - you will at some point in your life.
John F. Kennedy once said, "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan; no one wants to claim it." Wouldn't it be wonderful if everything in life was successful - every relationship fulfilling. But, even for Christians, life is a combination of both successes and failures; victories and defeats; gains and losses. And sadly many of these failures we bring on ourselves by poor decisions and choices. But, God has an answer for us.
First, we must realize that everyone fails. Peter failed his Lord miserably when he fled, along with the other disciples, from the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:56). And he failed again when he denied Jesus by saying he didn't know him (Matthew 26:69-75). James 3:2 tells us, "We all stumble in many ways." Isn't that the truth? We all make mistakes - fumble the ball - mess up. It's not "if" but "when" we fail. We have to learn to deal with, and overcome, failure and defeat.
"There is not a righteous person on earth who does what is right and never sins (makes a mistake)" (Ecclesiastes 7:20). No one is perfect. The very best basketball players only make 50% of their shots. The best baseball hitters only get one out of three. Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, but struck out 1330 times. "For all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23 NLT). I heard about a preacher, who said to his congregation, "let's bow our heads and pray for our falling shorts."
R. P. Macy tried to start a department store seven times before he succeeded by founding the world famous Macy's of New York. Failure and defeat are as much a part of life as success and victory. But, we have to learn to deal with and overcome them -- and we have a source of strength to do just that. God often gets your undivided attention after you have experienced failure. And he often takes you back to the time and place of your failure in order to teach you and create something wonderful in your life. He wants us to learn and profit from our failures.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, June 26, 2015

Faith and Foolishness

Chuckle: "When your pet bird sees you reading the newspaper . . . does he wonder why you're just sitting there staring at the carpet?"
Quote: “Remember, the wisdom of God may appear as foolishness to men, but the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right.” --Thomas S. Monson
FAITH AND FOOLISHNESS
Here, Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14 in red, "I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, 'I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas'" (1 Corinthians 1:18-19 NLT).
Authentic Christianity does not minimize the importance of human intelligence, learning, and reasoning. Instead, it assumes that a rational understanding of faith must be infused with the power of God's Holy Spirit. The Spirit reaches to the depths of human souls and causes God's Word to become alive in us. The gospel is "foolishness" only in the sense that unredeemed, unreceptive, and unbelieving people regard it as such. Nowhere in Scripture is an uneducated approach to faith in God ever advocated nor denounced education as unimportant. Human knowledge is not in conflict with the wisdom of God. It simply falls short of the spiritual understanding available to us through Christ.
Many extol the value of human intellect and exalt themselves because of their superior education and personal accomplishments. Still others look for supernatural signs that point them to the truth of God. But divine wisdom is from a different nature than the human intellect and cannot be comprehended without divine assistance and revelation. Those who have been saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, understand that true wisdom comes from God. See James 1:5. God becomes known to us only as He reveals himself and we respond to that revelation in faith. Christ is the ultimate expression of the wisdom of God.
God's redemptive plan comes to the world through the simple message of Jesus Christ. That Christ-centered message becomes the wisdom of God to all those who believe it and commit themselves to Christ in faith. Christian preaching and teaching is built around a set of basic truths of Scripture -- the core tenets of our faith: (1) Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah -- God incarnate in the Son; (2) He lived a victorious and sinless life while doing good here on earth; (3) He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins; (4) He was bodily raised from the dead; (5) He is coming again to end this present evil age; (6) He calls all people to repentance and faith; and (7) He promises forgiveness, redemption, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. The world calls these tenets foolishness; but believers know they are God's wise way of leading us to eternal salvation and into a love relationship with him.
"So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe" (I Corinthians 1:20-21 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Heart, New Spirit, New Nature

Chuckle: "Insomnia is contagious; if your baby has it, chances are you will have it too!!"
Quote: "If his conditions are met, God is bound by his Word to forgive any man or woman of any sin because of Christ." --Billy Graham
NEW HEART, NEW SPIRIT, NEW NATURE
"Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins" (Acts 3:19 NLT). "And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command" (Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT).
What a beautiful picture of God's love and plan for the life of every human being. God had Ezekiel record for us an Old Testament image of the New Testament plan of salvation through faith in Christ. When we place our faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, God, through his Spirit, creates within us a new nature. ". . . you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you" (Colossians 3:10 NLT). In the life of a Christian, there is a continuous battle between the old sinful nature and the new nature God has given us.
"So I advise you to live according to you new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. The two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict" (Galatians 5:16-17 NLT).
Over the course of time, the way we live is dependent upon which nature we choose to give control over our lives. If the old nature wins, we will drift away from God and the joy of a daily walk and fellowship with him. When this happens, we lose interest in attending church, we stop studying God's Word, We stop praying, and we stop enjoying the fellowship of other Christians. If you find yourself in this situation, you need a renewal of commitment to God. You need revival. You may need to pray as did the psalmist: "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10 NLT).
"A man once came to Gipsy Smith, the celebrated English evangelist of an earlier time, and asked him how to have revival. Gipsy asked, 'Do you have a place where you can pray?' 'Yes,' was the reply. 'Tell you what to do, you go to that place and take a piece of chalk along. Kneel down there, and with the chalk draw a complete circle all around you -- and pray to God to send revival on everything inside the circle. Stay there until He answers -- and then you will have revival.'"
Every Christian can claim the promise of I John 1:9: "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong." By admitting our sins and receiving Christ's cleansing, we are (1) agreeing with God that our sin is truly sin and that we are willing to turn away from it, (2) ensuring that we don't try to conceal our sins from him and consequently from ourselves, and (3) recognizing our tendency to sin and relying on his power to help us overcome it.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Faith is Reflected By Actions

Chuckle: A man sat in the pew, scratching and scratching. Finally, he minister stopped his sermon and asked, "Why are you scratching like that?" The man replied, "Cause I'm the only one who knows where I itch!"
Quote: “Faith, if it be a living faith, will be a working faith.” --John Owen
FAITH IS REFLECTED BY ACTIONS
"What good is it, my brothers, if a person claims to have faith but has no deeds?" (James 2:14 NIV).
We must be careful when we claim to have faith, that we are not just agreeing, intellectually, with a set of Christian teachings. Such an approach will result in an incomplete faith. The faith God honors transforms every aspect of our lives -- our conduct as well as our thoughts and attitudes. Unless our lives are changed by our faith, we do not actually believe all the truths of God that we claim to believe.
In our passage, God's Word tells us that the real evidence of our faith is in how we relate to others. Jesus teaches us to love one another, to minister to one another, to help others in their time of need. James makes it very clear that "deeds" that please God are the ones resulting from our genuine faith. "But some will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do (my deeds)"  (James 2:18 NIV). Faith is more than just words. When you come to know Christ, His life is reflected in you and the way you live. If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Would there be any witnesses against you?
Here are four basic characteristics of Real Faith: (1) It based on God's word; (2) is always centered on Christ alone - He is the object of our faith; (3) always involves the mind, emotions, and will; and (4) always results in good works/actions. "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him" (Titus 1:16 NIV).
Ephesians 2:8-10 puts faith and deeds in perspective: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21 NIV).
In conclusion, real faith and works/deeds are inseparable. "Faith and works are as inseparable as sun and sunlight. Faith is the sun; good works are its rays." Are you one who says you have faith but whose life shows little, or no, evidence of your faith. Has there been change in your life since accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Faith to Live By

Chuckle:  “If con is the opposite of pro, then isn’t congress the opposite of progress?” –Jon Stewart
Quote: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. It is not enough that a thing be possible for it to be believed.” --Francois Voltaire
FAITH TO LIVE BY THAT PLEASES GOD
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him (God) . . ." (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). ". . . in the gospel (good news) a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith'" (Romans 1:17 NIV).
If you are living by faith, you must believe that God will respond to you when you earnestly seek Him. Without this kind of faith, you cannot please God. Regardless of the good deeds you perform, the impressive words you speak, or the sacrifices you make for his sake, if you do not have faith, you will not please Him. You may say, "I love God, but I just have difficulty trusting Him to meet my daily needs." Then you are not pleasing Him. Faith keeps you in a trusting relationship with God even in the midst of severe problems. Faith has to do with your relationship with God, not your circumstances. Nothing is more secure than that which you entrust to God. When the Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God," God is teaching us that to have faith is to:
1. Trust God's Word and live our lives accordingly. "All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. . . ." (2 Timothy 3:16 ). We must never doubt that God's Word is true, He will keep his promises, and He is trustworthy in every aspect of our lives.
2. Obey God's commands and teach them to others. "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands" (I John 1:3 NIV). " . . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20 NIV). These last words are a part of Jesus' "Great Commission." As disciples, we are to make disciples of others.
3. Trust him to meet all our needs. "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19 NIV). Jesus had no place to sleep; yet, he shared the heavenly Father's unlimited resources with us. We can count on God because of what He has done for us in Christ.
4. Be assured that God will bring good from each crisis in your life. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28 NIV). This verse does not say that only good things will happen to us. But it does say that God will use every situation to achieve his purposes for you life -- for your ultimate good.
5. Claim God's promise to never leave us alone. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20b NIV). ". . . because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). God's Holy Spirit remains with us and lives within us as Christians. Therefore, God never leaves us.
6. Never doubt God's love because his love is eternal. "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV). "This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9 NIV). It’s comforting to know God’s love for you is everlasting, forgiving, and sustaining.
7. Understand that faith without actions is dead. "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17 NIV). Genuine faith will please God and be evidenced by our actions in service to others in Jesus' name.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 22, 2015

Faith and Prayer Power

Chuckle: Children were in the cafeteria line of a Christian elementary school. The first item was a stack of apples. A teacher had placed a note on the apples, "Take only one, God is watching." At the end of the line was a large stack of chocolate chip cookies. In childish writing was a note. "Take all you want -- God is watching the apples!"
Quote: “Without faith a prayer has only form. Without faith a prayer has not heart or flame.” --Guy Everton Tremaine
FAITH AND PRAYER POWER
"Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (have faith) that you have received it and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24 NIV).
"How can I pray with faith ‘and power?" The first truth we must understand is that it is only in the name of Jesus that we can come to the Father in prayer. Jesus said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV). Not only must we come to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, we must also come to the Father in prayer in the name of Jesus. Thus, we close our prayers with words like, "I pray/ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen."
Jesus told his disciples that they could ask for anything in his name and it would be given them. "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (John 14:13 NIV). This sounds as if we can ask anything our little thumping hearts desire and Jesus is obligated to give it to us. Is this true? Listen to the conditions Jesus describes for this kind of praying. "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you" (John 15:7 NIV).
What does it mean to "remain in Jesus?" It means that we stay connected to him through faith, study of His Word, prayer, and yielding control of our lives to his Holy Spirit who "lives with you and is in you" (John 14:17 NIV). Jesus used the analogy of a vine and its branches to help us visualize this "remaining" in him. "I am the vine; you are the branches . . . apart from me you can do nothing (bear no fruit)" (John 15:5).
Think with me about the relationship of a tree trunk to its branches. All the life-sustaining nutrients, genetic instructions to bear fruit, and all the life-giving moisture comes to the branches through the trunk. In other words, the branches (you and I) are totally dependent upon Jesus for our spiritual sustenance and direction as Christians. No branch decides on its own what kind of fruit it will bear, or the shape of its leaves. All its instructions are received through the tree.
Now, get this picture. When a branch prays, he/she will not pray for anything that is contrary to the nature, character, and will of the vine/tree/Jesus. Jesus knows that if we remain in Him, we will only pray for things consistent with His will and character. That's why He said we can pray for anything we wish and it will be given to us. You see, as our desires becomes consistent with His character and will, we won't ask selfishly for things contrary to the will of the Vine, and He will give us what we desire.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, June 19, 2015

Husbands and Fathers

                                                            Fathers Day Clip Art. Father's Day Christian Clipart. View Original ...
Chuckle: “Wandering inside a pet store, I stopped in front of a bird cage to admire a parakeet. We watched each other for a few minutes before it asked, ‘Can’t you talk?’” –Shirley Brown
Quote:  It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” –Pope John XXIII Reader’s Digest November 1960
HUSBANDS AND FATHERS
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”  (Ephesians 5:25 NIV).  “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord”  (Ephesians 6:4 NLT).
I believe great husbands are likely to be great fathers. Since we don’t celebrate a “Husband’s Day,” let’s focus on being a great husband in this Father’s Day message. Rather than my commenting on our Scripture verses today, I think you will be touched by this letter from Ronald Reagan to his son, Michael, on the occasion of Michael’s wedding in June 1971.
Dear Mike:
    You’ve heard all the jokes that have been rousted by all the “unhappily marrieds.” But there is another viewpoint. You have entered into the most meaningful relationship there is in all human life. It can be whatever you decide to make it.
    Some men feel their masculinity can be proven only if they play out in their own lives all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. The truth is, somehow, way down inside, a wife does know, and with that knowing, some of the magic of the relationship disappears. There are more men griping about marriage who kicked the whole thing away themselves than there can ever be wives deserving of blame. There is an old law of physics that you can get out of a thing only as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out.
    Let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. It takes quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick, and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow, and you will know some very beautiful music. If you truly love a girl, you shouldn’t ever want her to feel, when she sees you greet a girl you both know, that humiliation of wondering if she was someone who caused you to be late coming home.
    Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.
Love, Dad
PS. You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day.
----------------------------------------------------------
We pray Father’s Day 2015 will bring much joy to each husband and father along with a renewed commitment to be a godly husband and father for the sake of those he loves most.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Grace, Faith, and Salvation

Chuckle: While a woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of its container, the phone rang. So she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone. "Mommy can't come to the phone right now. She's hitting the bottle."
Quote: “It is not faith and works; it is not faith or works; it is faith that works.”Unknown source
GRACE, FAITH, AND SALVATION
"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).
"Faith is the attitude whereby a person abandons all reliance in his own efforts to obtain salvation, be they deeds of piety, of ethical goodness or anything else. It is the attitude of complete trust in Christ, of reliance on him alone for all that salvation means" (New Bible Dictionary).
"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles (non-Jews), who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works" (Romans 9:30-32 NIV).
From the beginning, it has been God's intention for us to do good things for other people. However, we must understand that good works do not earn us a right standing with God. This can only come when we accept God's free gift of grace, salvation, by placing our complete faith and trust in in Christ. Once we have placed our faith in him, he makes us new creatures whose very nature is to do God's work. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).
Please take another look at the definition of faith in blue above. There you will see that faith unto salvation is an attitude of total trust in Christ, and a reliance on him alone. This faith leads to repentance of sin and acceptance of God's forgiveness. Once we have been born again and transformed by God's Holy Spirit, we will be motivated to work for him through service to others. We will understand that ". . . we are God's workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
We become Christians through God's unmerited favor (grace), not as a result of any effort, ability, or act of service on our part. Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts of God's grace, we should respond to him with love, gratitude, praise, joy, and selfless acts of service.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Faith Brings True Peace

Chuckle: A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. "What's it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."
Quote: "One of the mysteries of faith is that, although it constitutes our deepest response to God for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ, yet it is, at the same time, a gift from him when we lift our eyes beyond ourselves. He meets us with faith when we want to have faith." --John Gunstone
FAITH PRODUCES TRUE PEACE
"Your faith has made you well; go in peace" (Luke 8:48 NASB). "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you" (John 14:27 NIV).
Can you imagine how the woman in this Luke passage must have felt? She had been sick for over twelve years and had found no person or treatment that could offer her relief from her infirmity. She was desperate and when she learned that Jesus was near she was determined to see Him and at least touch Him in hopes that He would heal her. In fact, it seems her faith was so strong that she knew, without doubt, that touching such a man of God would heal her.
Picture the great throng of people around Jesus. It must have been a physically exhausting effort for a woman, who was not well, just to plow through the crowd and get close enough to touch Him. The result of her faith was that Jesus' healing power was released into her the instant she touched his garment and she was healed. What a beautiful picture of God's love, power, and amazing love for each of us regardless of what we may be going through in life.
Please notice, that physical healing occurred, yes, but perhaps even a greater gift was granted to the woman -- a peace that only God can give. As we hold onto God in faith, He may or may not choose to heal us physically, but He certainly will grant us strength, comfort, and peace to deal with whatever may be troubling us. "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7 NIV).
It was the woman's faith that released Christ's power into her life. Are you casually aware of who Jesus is, or do you actively reach out to Him in faith knowing He can bring miraculous physical healing as well as spiritual healing? Renew your faith today and reach out to Jesus the Savior of our souls, the Great Physician, and giver of peace -- His peace.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Example, Part 3

Chuckle: A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done, we take her back to the airport."
Quote: “A good example is the best sermon.” --Benjamin Franklin
HOW TO BE A GOOD EXAMPLE
"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:7-8 NIV). "You became imitators of us and of the Lord; . . . and so you became a model to all believers . ." (I Thessalonians 1:6-7 NIV).
On a cold December day, a little barefoot boy was standing shivering on the sidewalk staring into the window of a shoe store. A lady walked up and asked him what he was doing. He said: "I was wishing God would give me a pair of shoes." The lady took him into the store and told the clerk to get six pairs of socks for the boy and also asked for a pan of warm water and a towel. She took the boy to the back of the store and washed and dried his little feet and put a pair of new socks on them. Then she bought him a pair of shoes and said: "There, you will feel better now." As she turned to leave, the little boy asked: "are you God's wife?"
What a great example of love and concern not only for the little boy, but for others in the store. As professing Christians, people are watching our every move. They're looking for something to criticize or for something genuinely good and real in which they can place their hope and trust. Remember, an example is a model or pattern to be followed or imitated. I hope you have the desire to model Christian character as an example for others. Paul said to Timothy, ". . . set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity" (I Timothy 4:12 NIV).
We all are aware of many prominent Christians who have disgraced their Lord and Christianity by scandalous behavior that destroyed their Christian testimony. Such well publicized occurrences have done much to harm the credibility of our faith. No doubt God would have each of us make it our personal responsibility to help create a positive attitude toward Christians and Christianity.
It would be well if each of us evaluated ourselves by asking: What kind of an example am I on the job -- at school -- in church -- as a pastor -- as a deacon -- as a Sunday School teacher -- as a parent -- as a neighbor?" Do I use the same profane words and tell the same dirty jokes as non-Christians? As a teacher/leader in the church, is my example a good one for members and other aspiring teachers? Am I setting an example of love, ministry, and service? Are my actions an example that I would want my children and grandchildren to follow when they become parents? Is my conduct sufficiently different to mark me as a Christian?
What is it that prevents you from saying: "Follow my example?" What needs to be included in, or excluded from, your life to make you a good example of Christian character? The power of an example cannot be overstated. The most frequent accusations against Christians by non-Christians have to do with our failure to set a Godly example by the way we live -- to practice what we preach .
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 15, 2015

Example: Part 2

Chuckle:  Exhausted hiker: “I am so glad to see you! I’ve been lost for three days!” Other hiker: “Well, don’t get too excited. I’ve been lost for a week.”
Quote: “The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example.” --Thomas Morell
DO AS I DO -- NOT ONLY AS I SAY
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us" (Ephesians 5:1 NIV).
Think back over your life and recount all the people whose lives have served as examples for you: parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, deacons, etc. Some may have been wholesome examples and others may have been the opposite. In all cases, it was ultimately your decisions about which examples you would imitate and whose values you would incorporate into your life. From the Bible, we find many examples available to us:
God Himself: God's purpose for our salvation is to lead us to imitate His character. He is revealed as having a pure, self-giving, self-sacrificing, and unconditional love for each of us. Thus His example is the way we should relate to one another -- Always loving and forgiving. Living a pure and holy life. "I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44 NIV).
Jesus Christ: "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you"  (John 13:15 NIV). Along with His teachings, Jesus' life was an essential part of his message to us and his example gave even greater credibility to his words. He never told us to do anything he had not modeled for us. He lived a sinless life. As a servant, he demonstrated sacrificial service. He modeled godly service by humbling himself to wash the feet of His disciples feet (John 13), and by saying he didn't come to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Because Christ suffered for you . . . .leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps" (I Peter 2:21 NIV).
Bible Characters: They served as both good and bad examples. Some of them made serious blunders, and their examples show us things to avoid; like letting things of the world creep into our lives such as materialism, greed, idolatry, sexual misconduct, etc. "Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did" (I Corinthians 10:6 NIV). "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . .” (I Corinthians 10:11 NIV)
People you know: There are many godly people around us whose lives reflect their devotion to their Lord and serve as great examples for us. We are wise to seek them out and let them inspire us to become more like Jesus. The apostle Paul recognized his responsibility as an example to others and said: "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1 NIV). ". . . imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:12 NIV). The apostle John wrote: "Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good" (3 John 11 NIV).
One final thought. As helpful as wholesome examples are, we should never follow the example of another person blindly, or use another person as our only standard for holy living. We should measure our lives only against the standard of Jesus himself and the teachings of God's Word.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, June 12, 2015

Example for Others, Part 1

Chuckle: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" asked the visitor of his host's teenage son. "I want to be possible," he replied. "Possible?" asked the visitor. "Yes," said the boy. "Every day somebody tells me I'm impossible."
Quote: “Example moves the world more than doctrine." --Henry Miller
EXAMPLE FOR OTHERS, Part 1
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect (mature), but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV).
My Bible Encyclopedia says an example is "a typical representative, or illustrative case; a pattern or model for imitation. A good example is one which, if followed, would result in the building of Christian character in the one following the example. It’s similar to an illustration -- how a Christian should live." God wants each of us to be a living example for others.
"As a boy, Dr. John Mitchell was familiar with the mountains and mine pits around his house. One night his Boy Scout troop was on a midnight hike. Since Mitchell knew the mountains and where the dangerous pits were, he took several private jaunts away from the troop. The Scoutmaster admonished him, saying, 'Although you know where the mine pits are and how to avoid them, when you go to them you make a path that others may follow to their death.'"  Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
As followers of Christ, we teach by example, whether we intend to or not! Never should we underestimate the importance of being a Christian example because we learn much from examples. In Philippians 3:17 and I Corinthians 4:16, the Apostle Paul tells fellow Christians, and us, to follow his example in the way we live. Was he being arrogant and self-righteous by setting himself up as an example for others to follow? I don't think so. Please read our basic passage again and then consider what Paul said in verse 17: "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you."
Paul's example that he wanted the Philippian church to follow was his relentless pursuit of Christian character - not that he was perfect. However, he was living so close to the Lord that he knew his life was what God wanted and expected. Have you ever heard the expression: "I can't hear what you are saying because your actions are speaking so loudly?" Or, "Actions speak louder than words."
The way we live will either add credibility to or detract from our Christian witness. We are either a positive or negative influence for our Lord. We are either a good or bad example for others. There is no neutral position. Is your life the kind of example you would want your children, grandchildren, or others to follow? Or, more importantly, is your life the example our Lord wants you to be? Are you striving to be more like Jesus each day?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Envy is Destructive

Chuckle: A preacher up in the Adirondacks went to church one Sunday morning. The pastor called on him to pray. He replied -- "Pray yourself, I'm on vacation!"
Quote: "As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man." --Chrysostom
ENVY DESTROYS
    "Do not covet your neighbor's house. Do not covet your neighbor's wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns" (Exodus 20:17 NLT: one of the Ten Commandments).
Coveting is having a strong desire to have the possessions of someone else. Such desire goes far beyond merely admiring a person's possessions or thinking, "I really would like to have one of those." When you covet, you can easily progress to the point of resenting the person who has what you don't -- this is envy. When we envy, we transfer our feelings of desire for a person’s possessions to resentment against the person.
Do you know someone you envy for what he or she has, or the praise he or she has received, or the success he or she has attained? God saw that such feelings could arise in the hearts of his people. He knew that coveting is such a destructive force that he chose to deal with it in one of the Ten Commandments. God knows that possessions alone can never bring lasting happiness. He also knows that greed, jealousy, covetousness, and envy can destroy relationships among his people and between his people and himself.
Not only can such desires take away our joy, they can lead us to commit other sins such as adultery and stealing -- both of which are also forbidden in the Ten Commandments. In our society, we often see violence perpetrated against someone by a criminal driven by envy. But envy can easily create bitterness and destroy relationships among believers as well. Being covetous and envious is a counter-productive exercise since God is able to provide what we really need, even if He chooses to stop short of giving us everything we want. To avoid being envious, we need to practice being content with what we have. 
"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little." (Philippians 4:11-12 NLT). Once Satan gains a foothold in your life by creating envy in your heart, he can destroy your joy, contentment, and peace that God wants you to have, and it can keep you from being the holy person God wants you to be.
There is a fable that Satan's agents were failing in their various attempts to draw into sin a holy man who lived as a hermit in the desert of northern Africa. Every attempt had met with failure; so Satan, angered with the incompetence of his subordinates, became personally involved in the case. He said, "The reason you have failed is that your methods are too crude for one such as this. Watch this." He then approached the holy man with great care and whispered softly in his ear, "Your brother has just been made Bishop of Alexandria." Instantly the holy man's face showed that Satan had been successful: a great scowl formed over his mouth and his eyes tightened up. "Envy," said Satan, "is often our best weapon against those who seek holiness."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Temptation: Resisting

Chuckle: "The trouble with resisting temptation is it may never come your way again.”
Quote: "O help me Father in heaven to overcome and resist temptation in every form or shape.” --Emmeline B. Wells
HOW TO RESIST TEMPTATION
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV),
Who is tempted? The answer is -- everyone. Temptation even came to Jesus. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one (Jesus) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet without sin"  (Hebrews 4:15 NIV). New Christians may be surprised to feel a pull toward those old sins of their previous life. But remember, it's not a sin to be tempted. The sin comes in the yielding to the temptation.
Who tempts us? God does not tempt us, but may use temptations to help us grow toward maturity. "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone" (James 1:13 NIV). We tend to blame God for our weaknesses, but that blame is misplaced. It's not God's will for us to yield to temptation. When we yield, we are the ones who make the conscious decisions and no one is to blame but ourselves.
Some say: "I was just made that way - it's just my nature!" (liars, cheaters, thieves, adulterers, etc.). We justify our actions by blaming God for making us that way. "To err is human, but to blame God is even more human." Then if we don't blame God, we can blame our parents -- "it was the way they raised me." Parents often fail in their responsibilities, but yielding to temptation occurs within us and we make the decisions. Nobody can make you yield to temptation. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve, etc.
What are the results of yielding to temptation? "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:15). When we succumb to the lure of temptation, we begin to die to purity, purpose, life, joy, meaning. How can you and I overcome temptation? We must deal with our desires. You don't have to give in -- its up to you. You are the final authority. You have a new nature in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit lives within you. "Greater is He that lives in us than the one who lives in the world" (I John 4:4 KJV).
Here are some practical suggestions for dealing with temptations. (1) Recognize your desires as real and normal. (2) Keep your focus on Christ. A trained dog will "sit" in front of a steak keeping his eyes on his master, and will eat the steak only after the master signals it's OK. (3) Discover and understand the areas where you are the weakest and most vulnerability and stay away from temptations in those areas. If you don't want to be stung, stay away from hornet's nests. (4) Learn to say "no" in the power of the Holy Spirit. "Walk (live) by the power of the spirit and say no to the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). (5) Acknowledge past failures, ask God for forgiveness, and begin focusing on Him. Use the fellowship of Christians in your church to help you -- a friend -- an accountability group.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Temptation: Accountability

Chuckle: Returning from the concession stand, Marge asked a man at the end of the row, “Excuse me, did I step on your foot a few minutes ago?” Expecting an apology, the man said, “Yes you did.” Marge said, “Oh good. This is my row.”
Quote: "Opportunity knocks but once, but temptation leans on the doorbell." –Unknown source
WHO IS TO BLAME WHEN WE YIELD TO TEMPTATION?
"And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, 'God is tempting me.' God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either. Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead (drag us) to evil actions, and evil actions (sins) lead to death. So don't be misled (deceived), my dear brothers and sisters" (James 1:13-16 NLT).
Last time, we saw that Temptation is "An enticement to satisfy a God-given desire in a God-forbidden way." We saw that desires for food, sexual intimacy, success, and acceptance are examples of God-given desires, but when we try to fulfill them in ways that God forbids we sin against God and others.
When we sin by giving in to temptation, we never intend to destroy ourselves, our families, our reputations, our happiness, but yielding can do all of these. And it can happen without us realizing it until it's too late. As Christians, we must be prepared to deal with temptation. Have you noticed that the proud are often the ones who fall the hardest?. They think it can never happen to them. Remember Peter who said to Jesus: "I will never forsake you Lord; I will never deny you." He was proud.
From our passage, here are the steps that yielding to temptation will take: (1) Desire for gratification in a sinful way; (2) Deception -- making the temptation appear desirable and normal; (3) Sin -- the ungodly act of yielding to evil temptations; and (4) Disaster and even death. ". . . . but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (vs. 14 NIV). The word "dragged" or "carried" away is a word for a trap, like one used to catch an animal. You hide/conceal it carefully but put attractive bait on it. "Entice" is like putting the most attractive bait on your hook. The unsuspecting fish is enticed to take the bait. The hook is not tempting but the bait is.
Biblical truths tell us that temptations: (1) Nearly always are related to the fulfillment of physical desires, not spiritual; (2) Usually include a desire for instant gratification; (3) Play on our desire for independence and self-rule. "I have a right to cheat on my taxes because the government is not fair -- because of what they are doing to me;" and (4) Questions the fairness of God. "God hasn't treated me right." It's easy to blame others and make excuses, but God holds only us accountable for our actions. We must remember: Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 8, 2015

Temptation Awaits Us All

Chuckle: "One three-year-old's explanation for being in the kitchen atop a chair, eating cookies: 'I just climbed up to smell them, and my tooth got caught.'"
Quote: "If you don’t want temptation to follow you, don’t act as if you are interested.” --Richard L. Evans
TEMPTATION AWAITS US ALL
    "And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, 'God is tempting me.' God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either. Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead (drag us) to evil actions, and evil actions (sins) lead to death. So don't be misled (deceived), my dear brothers and sisters" (James 1:13-16 NLT).
In our society, there is ample reason to be concerned that many people are being deceived by the blurring of the line between right and wrong – having no absolutes. James warns us not to be deceived. People can be wrong and not even know it -- deceived and headed in the wrong direction and not see the danger. Christians are not immune from being drawn off their moral course. Temptation is an enticement to satisfy a God-given desire in a God-forbidden way. Or, seeking satisfaction of a legitimate drive in an illegitimate way. Here are some drives that are prime targets of temptation.
The desire for food: Hunger is a natural desire which can go awry and lead to overeating -- the Bible calls it "gluttony." If you said to me: "Jerry, you are overeating," I wouldn't mind too much, but if you said: "Jerry, you are a glutton!" Ouch! Obviously, we should enjoy food, but we should combine healthy eating and adequate exercise if we wish to maintain healthy bodies – as a temple of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 6:19.
The desire for sexual intimacy: This is a drive given us by God who intended its fulfillment to be in marriage. In counseling, married couples often say: "Oh how I wish I could undo the damage, the hurt, the guilt, of yielding to a sexual temptation outside of marriage." "How I wish I had stayed sexually pure and saved myself only for my marriage partner." God can and will forgive these sins but their damage to relationships may last a lifetime.  
The desire for success: God gives us the desire to prosper through faithfulness and hard work. But sometimes we get off course. If you're a student, God gave you the desire to do well on that test. But, you pervert that desire when you give in to temptation and cheat -- or when a business person decides to lie and cheat to close a deal.
The desire for approval and acceptance: We all need acceptance, understanding, and approval. However, some compromise their principles just to win the approval of their peers. This especially true for teenagers where peer pressure is a compelling force.
As parents and grandparents, we have an awesome but joyful responsibility to teach our children and grandchildren from God's Word about how to resist temptation and avoid the pitfalls of sin. The best way to teach them is by example through our godly living.
Love, Jerry & Dotse