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
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

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
"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

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
"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, 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
"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
"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