Monday, February 29, 2016

Are You a Saint?

Chuckle: "She took him for better or worse, and he was worse than she took him for!"
Good Quote: "He who lives to live forever, never fears dying." --William Penn
"Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi . . ." (Philippians 1:1b NIV).
When you hear the word "saint," what image comes to mind? Often, we think of a saint as someone who is a cut above others in his/her faith, commitment, and daily walk with our Lord. The term, "saint," literally means "holy" or "set apart" for God's use. We must guard against the idea that "saint" implies an extraordinary level of moral and spiritual attainment.
The word saint has come far from its original New Testament meaning. When we think of a "saint," we think of some stylized human figure depicted in stain glass, or a person long dead who has been officially declared as an ecclesiastical relic. However, one of the clearest definitions is, "A Saint is a dead sinner, revised and edited."Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
The setting apart comes from God, not the individual; but holy and Godly character should be the mark of every Christian. The church members at Philippi were saints because they were in Christ -- because they were Christians. Paul emphasized this point by addressing them as saints as he began his letter. If you are a believer, you are a saint as the word is used in our passage. As saints, what should our lives be like?
In I Peter 2:9 NIV, we are told: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." This describes you and me if we know Christ as Savior and Lord -- if we are in Christ. So, as Christians, as saints, as a chosen people belonging to God, we have experienced the wonderful light of God's love and are to declare his praises to others. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12 NIV).
A little boy attended a church that had beautiful stained-glass windows. He was told that the windows contained pictures of Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, Saint John, Saint Paul, and other saints. One day he was asked, "What is a saint?" He replied, "A saint is a person whom the light shines through."Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
Are you a saint? Is the Light of the World showing through your life? If so, you will experience the joy that comes from being in Christ and fulfilling God's purpose for your life.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, February 25, 2016

God's Mercy

Chuckle: "After receiving the proofs of a portrait, a politician was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the photographer and arrived with these angry words: 'This picture does not do me justice!' The photographer replied, 'Sir, with a face like yours, you don't need justice, you need mercy!' "
Quote: "Two works of mercy set a man free: forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive." --St Augustine of Hippo

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. . ." (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV).
Mercy is a special gift of God to each of us. In its simplest form, mercy is not receiving what one deserves. It is withholding the administration of harsh justice because of God's love and grace. There is nothing we can do to merit God's mercy; rather it is a product of God's loving and forgiving nature. Like grace, mercy is completely unearned and undeserved.
The story has been told of a mother who sought from Napoleon the pardon of her son. The emperor said it was the man's second offense, and justice demanded his death. "I don't ask for justice," said the mother, "I plead for mercy." "But," said the emperor, "he does not deserve mercy." "Sir," cried the mother, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask." "Well, then," said the emperor, "I will show mercy." And her son was saved.
Mercy is the outward manifestation of pity and compassion; it assumes a need on the part of the one receiving it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of the one who shows mercy. God shows pity on us because of our sinful condition about which we can do nothing on our own, and he has provided a way of salvation through faith in Christ. Hebrews 4:16 tells us we should pray boldly for God's mercy: "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it."
Often mercy and peace are found together in Scripture. When this happens, mercy is usually listed first. Mercy is the act of God, peace is the resulting experience in our hearts. Another way to define Mercy is to feel sympathy with the misery of another person, and especially that type of sympathy that is manifested by action to help that person.
"Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, 'Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well' -- but you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all -- it is dead and useless" (James 2:15-17 NLT). Mercy is never deserved. If you find yourself having difficulty in granting forgiveness and mercy to others, please take a moment to reflect on God's mercy which has been granted to you. . . .
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

To Live Or Die

Chuckle: "Question: What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth? Answer: Ruthless."
Quote: "The inevitable tomb is not a period at the end of the sentence of life, but a conjunction connecting us with the (glorious) life to come." --Unknown
"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body" (Philippians 1:21-24 NIV).
To a person who doesn't believe in Christ, life here on earth is all there is. So it is natural for him/her to live for the here and now -- to strive for the things valued by the world: money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige. However, for Paul, it meant living by eternal values and telling others about Christ, who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective.
Being in prison, and facing possible execution, Paul was torn between two strong desires, to live and to die. In verse 21, he weighed the glory of living against the greater glory of dying, not knowing which to choose because each was a wonderful option. He would gain no matter which way his Roman trial went. His life would be wonderful simply because it was Christ-filled. Death would be gain because Paul's union with Christ would finally be realized fully.
In verse 22, He was weighing two possibilities, life and death. He didn't know which was best, so he would leave that to God. "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two . . ." In verse 23, he rationalized that he was needed in his earthly ministry, but his personal desire would be to go to be with the Lord.
To Paul, death was not an enemy, but a friend. He wrote: "We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it" (2 Corinthians 5:8).
I believe God would have each of us view live and death as Paul did. We should be eager to serve the Lord to our utmost while alive here on earth, but have no dread of death because of what awaits us in God's glorious presence.
To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord. What a beautiful picture of our future as believers. If you're not ready to die, then you're not ready to live your life to its fullest. Make certain of your eternal destiny in Christ; then you will be ready and free to serve God and other people -- devoting your life to what is really important, without fear of death.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, February 22, 2016

Jesus, Our Friend

Chuckle: Father: "What did you learn in school today?" Son: "That three and three are seven." Father: "Three and three are six!" Son: "then I guess I didn't learn anything today!"
Quote: "Value a friend who, for you, finds time on his calendar -- but cherish the friend who, for you, does not even consult his calendar."
"I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it -- the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. You are my friends if you obey me. I no longer call you servants because a master doesn't confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me" (John 15:12-15 NLT).
Please take a moment to reflect on the significance of Jesus' words in our passage. How do they make you feel? Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master, and He should call us servants; instead, He calls us friends. These most comforting and reassuring words tell us we Christians have been chosen to be His friends.
Friendship implies the closest and most intimate non-romantic relationship there is between two individuals. As you read our Lord's words, the intimacy of Jesus' relationship with His followers becomes crystal clear -- and totally amazing. The circle of friendship we enjoy through Jesus Christ includes the saved, servants, and friends of Jesus.
Lest we get too carried away with this concept of Jesus being our friend, we must remember that He came as a servant and has called us to be servants. We are called to be servants while enjoying the privileges of friends with our Lord. Here's what Jesus said about Himself as a servant: "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28 NLT). Here, Jesus was instructing his followers that their importance in His kingdom would be measured by their willingness to be the servants/slaves of others.
Notice the conditions Jesus requires us to meet if we are to be his friends. "You are my friends if you obey me." You see, love for Jesus translates into obedience -- love is also reflected by obedience. Jesus said, "All those who love me will do what I say" (John 14:23 NLT).
Let's not overlook the first command in our passage -- that we love one another in the same way Jesus loves us. This is possible only in the power of the Holy Spirit. In our own strength, we could never love with the love with which Jesus loved. We may not be called upon to die for a friend, but there are other ways to practice sacrificial love; listening, encouraging, helping, giving. Think of someone you know who needs this kind of love today. Give all the love you can, and then give a little more. Our friend, Jesus, did just that.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, February 19, 2016

Worshipers God Desires

Chuckle: Three retirees, each with a hearing loss, were playing golf. One remarked, "Windy, isn't it?" "No," the second man replied, "it's Thursday." And the third man chimed in, "So am I. Let's go have something to drink."
Quote: “I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.” --Henry Ward Beecher
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23 NIV).
Have you given much thought to the question: why is God so interested in receiving our worship? Why does God's Word have so much to say to us on the subject of worship? When I think about these questions, I'm taken back to the Garden of Eden and the creation. The Bible tells us that God created us male and female in the spiritual image of Himself. He made us as spiritual beings with the capability to respond in love to His love for us -- our spirit connecting with His Spirit. From the beginning, it has been God's desire that we love Him. Jesus gave us the great commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30 NIV).
God is Spirit and this means he is not a physical being limited to one place or one time. He is timeless and present everywhere, and this makes it possible for us to worship Him anywhere. It is not where you worship that is all important but how you worship. The location of your private worship or public worship with your church family is not nearly as important as your attitude in worship. The Father seeks genuine worshipers that involves our spirit connecting with His Spirit in love, reverence, adoration, and submission. He wants us to worship Him out of love as we respond to His great love and amazing grace.
When we assemble for worship with our church families, it's essential that our attention be focused exclusively on the One we have come to worship. This means not letting our minds wander to other things, but keeping ourselves attentive only to hearing God speak to us and responding to His presence with love, repentance, prayers, and songs of praise. For our worship to be pleasing to God, we must focus our attention on Him and the great command by loving Him with all our being, holding nothing back.
"Many years ago, Thomas K. Beecher once substituted for his famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Many curiosity seekers had come to hear the renowned Henry Beecher speak. Therefore, when Thomas Beecher appeared in the pulpit instead, some people got up and started for the doors. Sensing that they were disappointed because he was substituting for his brother, Thomas raised his hand for silence and announced, 'All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church; all who came to worship God may remain.' The example of godly leaders is helpful, but only the Savior is worthy of our worship and devotion."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, February 18, 2016

God is Faithful

Chuckle: "Remember: Marriage is the number one cause of divorce." --Red Skelton
Quote: "No problem is too big for God's power, and no person is too small for God's love."Unknown Source
"God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful" (I Corinthians 1:9 NIV).
"Two young girls were talking, and one said she had ten pennies. The other girl looked at her hand and only saw five. She said, 'You only have five pennies.' The first girl replied, 'I have five and my father told me he would give me five more tonight. So I have ten.' She understood that her father's promise was as good as done."
Our passage reaffirms God's faithfulness in every situation. The problem with many of us is that we really don't trust Him in all circumstances. It is our human tendency to try to deal with hardships and solve our problems in our own strength. Often, it's only after our feeble efforts have failed miserably that we finally ask God to be faithful and give us a hand. The Bible says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). He was faithful when He paid the penalty for your sins and He is faithful today to meet your every need.
God is faithful in carrying out His plan and purpose for each of our lives. He gave us the freedom to choose whether or not we will have fellowship with Him. If we choose to accept His love through faith in Jesus Christ, He is faithful to fellowship with us through His Word and Spirit and meet our every need. He has a plan and purpose for your life and will be faithful to give you the strength to carry out that plan and fulfill that purpose.
God is faithful in the promises he has made. "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23 NIV). He is faithful in answering prayer as He promised (Mark 11:24). He is faithful to supply our needs (Philippians 4:19). He is faithful in sending the Holy Spirit as our comforter and companion (John 14:8).
God is faithful to be with us in every circumstance. As we serve Him by reaching out to others in His name, he has promised to be with us (Matthew 18:20). Even in the valley of death and despair He is with us (Psalm 23:4). As a believer, there is no way we can ever escape from His presence (Psalm 139:7) or His love (Romans 8:38-39).
As the little girl trusted the promise of her father, so we should trust our Heavenly Father for our eternal salvation and to help us make the most of our lives today. "I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b NIV). There is no part of your life that you cannot trust God to make it rich and full. This old hymn says it all.
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; As thou has been thou forever will be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided;Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
(Thomas O. Chisholm)
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Honest Humility

Chuckle: "Sometimes I think I understand everything, then I regain consciousness!"
Quote: "Humility is a strange thing; the moment you think you have it, you have lost it." --Author Unknown
"You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for 'God sets himself against the proud but he shows favor (gives grace) to the humble.' So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you" (I Peter 5:5b-6 NLT).
People of all ages can benefit from Peter's instructions. The opposite of humility is pride, and pride often keeps older people from trying to understand younger people and keeps younger people from listening to those who are older. Pride makes us continue to argue our point even after we know in our hearts that we are wrong. Let's see if we can learn from God's Word how we can live honestly with genuine humility.
I like Andrew Murray’s definition of humility: "Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble. The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself, he simply does not think of himself at all."
An humble person is more secure than a proud person because humility gives a more accurate perspective of one's self and the world. It does not mean that we should put ourselves down because we know we have great worth in God's Kingdom. Rather, we are to lay aside selfishness and treat others with understanding, respect, and common courtesy. When we consider others' interests as more important than our own, we become linked with Christ who is our true example of humility.
The importance of humility springs from the fact that it is found as part of the character of God himself. The word meaning humility is used in the New Testament to describe a condition of low estate brought about by the judgment of God; and also it describes a spirit of lowliness which enables God to bring special blessings to the humble. Paul teaches us to emulate the humility of Christ, who willingly and deliberately set aside His divine prerogatives and humbled Himself, thus receiving exaltation from the Father. "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on the cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place. ." (Philippians 2:8-9a NIV). Setting our desires aside for the sake of serving others is following Jesus' example.
Like all virtues, humility can be simulated or faked, and the danger of false humility is real. We can become proud of our own humility and thereby lose what humility we may have had. We have humility only when our motives are so pure we are unaware that we have it, even as others see it in us.
 Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

God's Amazing Grace

Chuckle: "Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together."
Ponder This: "Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see." --John Newton, 1725-1807
"But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9 NIV).
Justice is receiving what we deserve. Mercy is not receiving what we deserve. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve. The Greek word translated "Grace" can also mean "favor." Grace is God's unmerited favor to us because of His great love and mercy. Like God's mercy, His grace is not something we can earn, but is bestowed by God according to His will. Being a recipient of God's grace brings peace, and joy to one's life. His amazing grace is the reason every believer can rejoice and be thankful to God for His love and compassion.
We become Christians through God's grace, not by our efforts, abilities, intelligent choices, or acts of service on our part. However, because of our gratitude for this free gift, our natural inclination is to serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness, and not merely to bring credit to ourselves but to please God. When someone gives you a gift, you don't ask, "how much do I owe you?" No, the natural response is "Thank you." Yet, many Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation by God's grace, feel obligated to work (earn) their way into God's favor.
Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts from God's by His grace, He expects our response to include gratitude, praise, and joy. Then we will be motivated to do good things for others. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). Doing good deeds cannot save us, but good deeds that please God should follow our salvation by grace. Kay Arthur summarizes the ways God's grace impacts our lives as believers:
"It is grace, grace, grace. God does it all. Ours is only to believe. Even the faith to believe is of grace. It is all of grace.
It is by grace that we are saved. It is by grace that we can know Him intimately. It is by grace that we live day by day. It is by grace that we deal with the traumas of life. It is by grace that we serve God. It is by grace that we please God. By grace we deal with our sins when we do not walk by the Spirit but yield to the flesh. By grace, and grace alone, we approach God and receive the things we need -- whether spiritual, emotional, or physical. Through faith, we lay hold of the grace of God, believing and walking in obedience to Him, no matter what."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, February 12, 2016

Disowning Our Lord

Chuckle: "Adolescence is that period when a boy refuses to believe that someday he will be as ignorant as his parents."
Quote: "He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions." --J. F. Clarke
Jesus said to Simon Peter: "I tell you the truth, . . . this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same" (Matthew 26:34-35 NIV).
Jesus had predicted his death and resurrection to his disciples. On the night before he was crucified, Jesus ate the Passover meal with them. There he identified Judas Iscariot as the one who would betray him into the hands of his enemies. Jesus went on to tell his disciples they would all lose courage and "fall away" from him – in reality, disowning Him. Sure enough, when Jesus was arrested, all the disciples deserted him and fled even though they had all said they never would even if it meant their deaths.
However, Peter followed at a distance as they took Jesus away. After Jesus was taken before the high priest and the whole Sanhedrin, Peter was confronted three times by people who accused him of being a follower of Jesus. Each time, Peter vehemently denied that he even knew Jesus. After he had denied/disowned Jesus the third time, the rooster crowed.
"Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: 'Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75 NIV).
As Christians, most of us, if asked, would say as the disciples did: "I will never disown my Lord." But how bold are we in being identified with him? How bold are we in expressing our faith before others out of fear of what they might say or do? How bold are we in letting others know of our allegiance to Christ in the workplace, classroom, or family gatherings?
We may be disowning our Lord by our actions -- by the way we live and our silence about our relationship with him. How much evidence is there in your life and mine that we are fully devoted followers of Christ? Is your love for your Lord overshadowed by a fear of what others may think or say about you? Like Peter, a time will come when we will deeply regret our failure to be identified with the One who loved us so much that he died for us.
In many places today, around the world, Christians are being tortured and hideously martyred simply because they boldly proclaim their faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ. Sadly, persecution of Christians is likely to get even worse before it gets better. Let’s join our hearts in prayer that we will have the courage to be faithful to our Lord regardless of the persecutions we may endure. 
Love, Jerry & Dotse  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Prayer and God's Power

Chuckle: "If all the people who sleep in church were laid end to end -- they'd be more comfortable!"
Quote: “Time spent on the knees in prayer will do more to remedy heart strain and nerve worry than anything else.” --George David Stewart

"Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16 NIV).
The story is told of a young girl who said, "Lord, I am not going to pray for myself today; I am going to pray for others." But at the end of her prayer she added, "And please give my mother a handsome son-in-law!"
We just can't seem to end a prayer without asking something for ourselves. However, when we become disciplined enough to pray for others, we become partners with God in His work of salvation, healing, comfort, and justice. Of course, God can accomplish those things without us, but in His plan we are given the privilege of being involved with Him through prayer.
When we intercede for someone in trouble, facing surgery, who needs Christ, has lost a loved one, or a pastor who needs strength, we are asking God to provide for that person what we cannot give ourselves. We are interceding for God to direct His power in a specific direction.
Prayer is not a magic wand for satisfying our own desires and wishes, but it's a God-given opportunity to work with our Lord in accomplishing His purposes. "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14 NIV).
You may not feel like praying for others because you are so in need of prayer yourself. However, there is a basic truth about God's kingdom; we find healing for ourselves by ministering on behalf of others.
Many of us go to church looking for healing that will make us whole and make us more effective ministers for our Lord. But Jesus wants us to get out there, with all of our own needs, and minister to others. When we do this, it's amazing how we will find the needed healing and strength which we're seeking! Fervent intercessory prayer for others, that comes from a pure heart, will result in God doing mighty things in the lives of both the intercessor and the one for whom he/she is interceding. Have a great day as you focus on the power of prayer!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dispelling the Darkness

Chuckle: "These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter. I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I'm here after."
Quote: “Help me reach a friend in darkness; Help me guide him through the night. Help me show thy path to glory By the Spirit's holy light.” --Lorin F. Wheelwright

“In him was life; and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. . . The true Light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:3b-5, 9 NIV).
We are told in Genesis 1:1-3 (NLT) that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."
Notice how God spoke light into existence -- "Let there be light." It boggles our minds to think of God doing such things in His creation; but when it came to dispelling darkness with His light, God was just getting started. The next light from God was when He sent His one and only Son, the Light of the World, to dispel the darkness of sin within human souls.
The word "darkness" is used often in God's Word to describe the sinful condition of mankind and the evil of the Prince of Darkness (Satan). The word "light" is used to describe Jesus Christ as He transforms the souls of people into His righteousness and makes us acceptable in God's presence. In John 1:6, we are told that John the Baptist was sent to tell everyone about the "True Light" (Jesus Christ) that was coming into the world -- a Light that can never be overcome by darkness.
This means that the darkness of evil never has and never will overpower God's light. In the light of Jesus Christ, we see ourselves as we really are (in the darkness of sin and needing a Savior). When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly and falling into sin. He lights the path ahead for us so we can see (know) how to live for Him. He removes the darkness from our lives.
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12 NIV). Give your heart and life to Christ and let Him guide your life, and you will never need to stumble in darkness again. He will bring you unspeakable joy, peace, and assurance.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, February 8, 2016

God Shows Us the Way

Chuckle: A boy thought this line in the Lord's Prayer was, "Lead a snot into temptation," and meant he was praying for his little sister to get into trouble.
Quote: "Seek in reading and thou shalt find in meditation; knock in prayer and it shall be opened to thee in contemplation." --St John of the Cross
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21 NIV).
How can I know for certain what God's will is for my life? I'm pretty sure you have asked a similar question at some time in your life. As Christians, knowing and obeying God's will should be our primary focus in everything we do. Our passage tells us that God will make His will known to us if we are listening for His voice. There have been times in my life when I was focused on doing what I thought was best while hoping God would agree with me. What a terrible mistake it is to decide on a course of action and then ask God to bless you in that decision.
If you are seeking to know God's will for your life, you must listen for His voice before you decide which way you will go, not afterwards. For us to hear God's guiding voice, we must be listening. We must have our hands cupping our spiritual ears, so to speak, for fear that we might miss something God is saying to us. The secret is walking so close to our Lord each day that his guiding us is a foregone conclusion. But, let's face it, sometimes we don't want to hear God's voice because we know He will tell us to do something we really don't want to do. This is when our total devotion to Him becomes suspect.
God's voice comes to us in many ways if we are really listening: through His written Word; through His indwelling Holy Spirit; through prayer; through other people; and even through circumstances He allows, or causes, us to experience. Sometimes God's voice is muffled by our lack of attention and we find ourselves confused and uncertain about which path to take. But, often it isn't that God's will is obscure, but that we are unwilling to hear and obey. I think it was Mark Twain who said something like this: "It isn't what I don't understand in the Bible that gives me the most trouble, but rather it's what I do understand."
One thing is certain, God's voice will never tell us to do something that is contrary to the written instructions in His Word. Like Mark Twain, we often understand a lot more about God's will than we are willing to admit and follow. Complete surrender of our wills to God will cure our spiritual deafness and allow us to hear more clearly the guiding voice of God.
"I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble" (Proverbs 4:11-12 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Knowing Jesus Christ

Chuckle: When our neighbor's young son was asked how his soccer game went one morning, he said, "Really good. If we had just scored four more goals, we would have beat them by one point." --Cindy Moore
Quote: "It's easier to acquire a good reputation than to lose a bad one."Unknown Source 
"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. . . . As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead" (Philippians 3:8-9a, 10a NLT).
It may seem strange that the Paul would be striving to know Jesus. After all, he was miraculously saved on the Damascus road and had been faithful for years as God's messenger to the gentiles. He had been shipwrecked, beaten, ostracized, and generally persecuted for his faithfulness. Even after all that, he recognized he did not yet know Christ in the fullness he desired.
There's a big difference between knowing Jesus as Savior and knowing him intimately as Lord of your life. Knowing him as Savior involves repentance, forgiveness, and saving faith in him. Knowing Jesus in the way Paul desired involves a personal intimate companionship with him. It is this kind relationship with his Lord that gave Paul extreme incomparable joy.
If you want to get to know someone, you must spend time with that person; and the more time you invest the better you will come to know him or her. The same is true with our knowing Jesus. You may know him as Savior, but infatuation with worldly things may have caused you to lose your desire to draw closer to him by spending time with him in prayer and Bible study in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your desire to know Christ more completely may have waned and your spiritual growth may be stunted as a result.
There is a danger that we may substitute other "good" things instead of knowing Christ as the Lord of our lives and intimate companion. For example, you may have Scripture memorized; you may work hard in your church; you may teach a Bible class, etc., but still not know Jesus in the way Paul is describing. You can become so involved in doing the Lord's work that you neglect your personal relationship with the Lord himself. It takes a conscious desire to make progress toward knowing him. No amount of Christian activity can ever replace your love relationship with Jesus.
After Paul had evaluated everything he had accomplished in his life, he considered it all worthless when compared with the great blessing of knowing Christ. What an absolutely profound statement about values. As we prayerfully read this passage, it should cause each of us to examine our value system. Do you place other things above your relationship with Christ? If your priorities are out of whack, how will you reorder them? It was only when Paul became one with Christ that he began to experience God's power in his life. Listen to the words of this hymn by Andy Park:
"In the secret, in the quiet place, In the stillness You are there. In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait -- only for You, -- 'Cause I want to know You more. (Chorus) I want to know You, -- I want to hear Your voice; I want to know You more. I want to touch You, I want to see Your face; I want to know You more."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jesus: Lamb of God

Chuckle: Little Johnny's new baby brother was screaming up a storm. Johnny asked his mom. "Where'd we get him?" "He came from heaven, Johnny." "Wow! I see why they threw him out!"
Quote: "In taking the form of a servant, Jesus established the law of rank in the church of Christ. The higher one wishes to stand in grace, the more it must be his joy to be a servant of all." --Andrew Murray
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29 NIV). ". . ., we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:10, 12 NIV).
John (the Baptist) was a strange character, but with a powerful message from God. He lived an obscure and lonely life somewhere in the Jordan River Valley. His clothing was made from coarse camel hair and he ate locusts and wild honey. He was not a very social person, but he was a man with a divine mission -- a mission to prepare the way for the coming of the long awaited Messiah. He was the herald to announce the arrival of the King -- the King that was also a sacrificial lamb.
It was John's unpopular task to shock people into awareness of their need to repent and turn from their sins. It's interesting that his was the first prophetic voice among God's people since Malachi four hundred years earlier. No one living had heard a true prophet of God, nor had they seen the fiery eyes of a person filled by the Holy Spirit and through whom God Himself spoke. John's words were spoken with God-given authority and pierced hardened hearts and resistant minds.
The religious leaders (priests and Levites) sought out John in the wilderness along the Jordan and asked who he was. They asked if he was the Messiah, or the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, or "that prophet who is to come." John answered that he was only a single voice crying in the wilderness, pleading with people everywhere to prepare the way for the King, and it was for this mission that he had been born. The voice of John echoes throughout eternity with his profound and reverberating declaration: "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
It was Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb, who was offered on the cross as the ultimate blood sacrifice necessary for our redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. Over the centuries, prior to the crucifixion of Christ, countless thousands of lambs had been sacrificed in the temple and elsewhere. But John's message was that only the blood of the sinless "Lamb of God" could "wash away our sins" once for all. No other sacrifice would ever be needed.
There is an awesome wonder in the name "the Lamb of God." This title for Jesus appears 29 times in the book of Revelation. As John wrote the apocalyptic vision from God, it became one of the most precious titles of Jesus and sums up his unfailing love, willing sacrifice, and total triumph over sin, death, and the grave (Revelation 5:6, 11-14). Today, we have the same mission as John, to proclaim to a lost world: "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!"
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, February 1, 2016

Investing God's Way

Chuckle: "I'm not rich like Jack, don't have a mansion like Russell or a Porche like Martin, but I do love you and want to marry you." "I love you too, but what was that you said about Martin?"
Quote: "A man there was, though some did count him mad, The more he cast away, the more he had." --John Bunyan, "The Pilgrim's Progress"
"Honor the LORD with your wealth and the best part (firstfruits) of everything your land produces" (Proverbs 3:9 NLT). Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38 NIV).
One would have to be in the burrow with Punxsutawney Phil (tomorrow is groundhog day) not to be aware that many people are still struggling to make ends meet in these difficult economic times. The lackluster economic recovery continues to place a strain on many families even though the overall economic climate is slowly improving. Many hurting people have not yet experienced the benefits of the recovery. Maybe you can identify with this group 
As high prices put terrible strains on our budgets, many find their disposable income plateauing, going down, or vanishing entirely, forcing them to withdraw from savings and/or max out credit cards to meet their financial needs. Thousands of jobs have recently been lost in the oil industry alone due to declining oil prices.
Investments that people depend upon for retirement are growing ever so slowly, or not at all, due to low interest rates. How should Christians react when they find themselves in difficult financial situations? We should always turn to God's Word for wisdom in handling our financial resources both in good times and bad.
Our passage, written by Solomon, deals with the practice of giving to God the first and the best parts of our income and other resources. He reminds us that rich or poor we are to honor God by putting Him first in every area of our lives, and this includes the disbursement of our income. When we obey God with our tithes and offerings, we can depend upon His promises to be with us even through the worst of times (Hebrews 13:5). Please notice the promises made by Jesus in our Luke 6:38 passage. 
When things aren't going well for us, we honor God by trusting His perfect plan. God has a way of multiplying what we have left when we are faithful in giving to help meet the needs of others. If you are struggling financially, I pray God will bless you and give you wisdom both in your giving and management of the remaining resources He has entrusted to you.
Faith is giving even when I can't spare it. By obeying God in our giving, we are investing in the eternal and He will prepare us to receive His special blessings (Malachi 3:10). Whether God has blessed us with little or much, let's all be generous in helping those less fortunate and by supporting the ministries of your church. Also, let's be careful not to give God the leftovers but the firstfruits of our labor.
Love, Jerry & Dotse