Friday, April 29, 2016

Well Done, Faithful Servant

Chuckle: "Shin: An excellent device for finding furniture in the dark."
Good Quote: "Only one life, 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." --unknown source
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness"  (Matthew 25:23 NIV).
I hope you will open your Bible and read the entire parable told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus often taught using parables, which are earthly stories with spiritual meanings. This is a lesson from Jesus on being a faithful steward of that which God has entrusted to you. The master was going on a journey and he gave money to three servants to be managed in his absence. In accordance with their abilities, he gave five talents to the first servant, two talents to the second, and one talent to the third. A talent was a unit of money valued at approximately $1,200. A key point is that each servant was given responsibility for something significant.
Put yourself in the shoes of each of these servants. If you were the servant receiving only one talent, would you have been angry because the others were given more than you? Sometimes we may be so concerned with what others have that we fail to appreciate what God has given us. While it is true that some are blessed with more than others, financially, we should never lose sight of the Biblical truth that we all are blessed with different gifts and we should use them faithfully and responsibly.
While the master was away, the servant with the five talents invested the money wisely and gained five more talents. The one with the two talents did the same and gained two more talents. But the servant with one talent merely dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money for fear of losing it if he had invested it.
When the master returned, he was pleased that two of the servants had put the money to work and his money had been doubled. The master called them faithful servants as our basic text indicates. But he was disappointed and angry that the one-talent servant had not invested and increased his money and said, "You wicked, lazy servant!" . . . Take the one talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him" (vv. 26, 28-29).
If we are not faithful in our work for the honor and glory of our Lord using the gifts and resources He has given to us, we will miss out on the eternal blessings God wants to give us. The main lesson from this parable is that our preparedness for Jesus' return is reflected in our stewardship of all the resources God has entrusted to us. What are you doing with the resources the Master has entrusted to you? This includes your time, spiritual gifts, skills, abilities, and monetary resources.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, April 28, 2016

God's Way Out of Temptation

Chuckle: "I can resist everything except temptation." --Oscar Wilde
Quote: "Blessed is he who has never been tempted for he knows not the frailty of his rectitude (good moral character)." --Christopher Morley
"When you are tempted, he (God) will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).
As Eve and Adam were tempted and sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, we all face various temptations every day of our lives. But temptation does not necessarily result in sin. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness but he never gave in to the temptation -- He never sinned. An amazing truth is that God has given us His Spirit to provide us the strength to avoid yielding to ever-present temptations. He provides us a way out. The operative question is: will we chose the way out?
Make no mistake, being tempted is a normal part of the Christian life and sin only comes when we do not take God's "way out," but give in to the temptation. Do not be surprised when you are tempted and never allow yourself to feel guilty because you have been tempted. Rather, concentrate on your relationship with your Lord. As you grow in your faith and draw closer to Him, it will become easier to resist Satan's temptations. Our goal should be to live in the Spirit to such a degree that temptations become less and less attractive to us as our fellowship with Christ becomes closer.
Our culture is becoming more and more tolerant of ungodly living. Moral depravity and sin-inducing pressures are on display everywhere and are made to seem attractive as normal human behavior. However, each Christian should recognize that God's standards of morality never change. Sin is sin in God's sight regardless of our opinions on the subject. Each time we resist temptation we become stronger as a follower of Christ.
The word Paul uses for "temptation" can also be translated as "testing." We must remember that God does not tempt anyone, but He certainly does allow our faith to be tested from time to time. "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone," (James 1:13 NIV). In the King James Version, the Bible says that God tempted Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. But, in reality, God tested him to determine the strength of his faith and willingness to obey Him no matter the cost (Genesis 22).
Whether we are tempted to sin or tested to strengthen our faith, God will show us the way out and to give us victory in every situation. "The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation" (2 Peter 2:9 NASB). Keep your spiritual ears tuned to God's voice and He will show you the way out of every temptation.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How to be Holy

Chuckle: "No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn."
Quote: If you think you can walk in holiness without keeping up perpetual fellowship with Christ, you have made a great mistake. If you would be holy, you must live close to Jesus.” --Charles Haddon Spurgeon
"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy as I am Holy'" (I Peter 1:14-16).
"Holy" is an often used word among Christians. What does it mean in practical terms in our lives and how do we attain a state of holiness? In the simplest terms, the word "holy" means to cut or separate, it denotes apartness -- set apart, and so the separation of a person from the common or profane life for a divine purpose. It also means pure or chaste. To be holy is to be set aside by God for his service and to be as nearly like Christ as possible. For unlike other creatures, man was made in the image of God and capable (through the power of the Holy Spirit) of reflecting the holiness of God.
When a Christian realizes who Christ is and what Christ has done for him through his grace, it tends to have a dramatic effect on his or her life, not only in salvation but in holiness." To be "holy" and to be "righteous" are quite similar terms. We are told in Scripture that we have no righteousness or holiness on our own, but any righteousness we might have comes from Christ in us. "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:11 NIV). "But now a righteousness from God . . . comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Romans 3:21-22 NIV).
C.S. Lewis once commented to an American friend, "How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, . . . it is irresistible. If even ten percent of the world's population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year's end."
Howard Hendricks wisely observed, "It is foolish to build a chicken coop on the foundation of a skyscraper." The Christian who fails to live a holy life is failing to utilize the foundation for his life that Christ has given him. So, we can say that to be holy is to be chosen, set apart, and strengthened by God's Holy Spirit to be like Christ. If we know Christ as Savior and Lord, his Holy Spirit lives within us to teach us, convict us, and to comfort us as Christ lives out his holiness and righteousness through us. For this to happen, you must surrender every aspect of your life to his control and direction. Then the true joy will be yours in abundance.
"But the day of the Lord (Jesus' return) will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2 Peter 3:10-11 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Worship with Integrity

Chuckle: He: "I got this great new hearing aid." She: "Are you wearing it now?" He: "Yes. Cost me four thousand dollars, but it's top of the line." She: "What kind is it?" He: "Twelve Thirty."
Quote: "The blessed and inviting truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings and in our worship of Him we should find unspeakable pleasure." --A. W. Tozer

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Mark 7:6 NIV).
Our Lord is not interested in ritualistic worship that does not come from a pure heart. When we worship, it should be a time of personal encounter with our Heavenly Father -- a time when we pour out our hearts to Him in love, thanksgiving, and praise with an attitude of repentance and contrition for our sins. We should worship with excitement at the prospect of hearing God's voice as he speaks to us and directs us toward a more perfect relationship with Him. When we leave a worship service, our lives should be forever changed by what has happened there. It is impossible to sincerely enter God's presence in worship without being drawn closer to Him and becoming more like Jesus.
Hypocrisy is pretending to be something you are not. In our passage, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because their worship was not genuine. They were not motivated by love in their worship but by a desire to attain profit, to appear to others as holy, and enhance their personal status. You may attend church because your spouse nagged you into going, or you may go in order to be seen and improve your image in your community, while, at the same time, down deep in your heart, you would rather be somewhere else. When our hearts are right with our Lord, our motives for worship will be pure and our worship will be a result of genuine love for Christ and the excitement about the opportunity to let him shape our lives. We will worship with integrity.
Luther Dorr shares about worshiping with integrity: "The Lord brought home the need for me to worship with integrity in an experience I had as a faculty member of a Baptist Seminary. I had rushed to chapel services from the class I had been teaching. The first hymn was already being sung. I found the page in the hymnal and joined in the singing.
However, my mind was still on some discussions we had in the class previous to chapel. I had sung three stanzas before I realized I had been singing the words from memory, not conscious of what I was singing, while my heart and mind were doing something else. I was participating in a worship activity, but I was not worshiping the Lord consciously through the words of the hymn. The Lord seemed to call me to get my whole self into chapel and to come to Him in worship with my mind and heart as well as with my physical presence and voice. I still have to do the same thing today."
Going through the motions of worship without a change of heart is useless in God's eyes. Above all, He wants a genuine love relationship with each of us. So, He gave us the Great Commandment telling us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. God wants our worship to burst forth from our hearts out of love for Him.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rejoicing in Heaven

I’m taking a short break. I’ll be back on Monday or Tuesday, April 25th or 26th.
Chuckle: Another excuse for an accident: "An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished."
Quote: "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." --C. S. Lewis
"In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10 NIV).
If you have ever doubted God's love and concern for you, these words of Jesus should dispel such doubts. Here, Jesus uses a parable to teach his followers how important each eternal soul is to our Lord. A woman possessed ten silver coins and she lost one of them. She did everything in her power to locate the lost coin, and when she found it, she rejoiced and asked her neighbors to rejoice with her because that which was lost had been found.
At the time of Jesus ministry on earth, it was the custom to give Palestinian women ten silver coins as a wedding gift. To lose a single coin was much more alarming than that which was warranted by only its monetary value. These coins were precious for their sentimental value, and to lose one was extremely distressing.
Each individual is more precious to God than we can comprehend. He grieves over the loss of even one eternal soul and likewise He rejoices whenever one of his children is found and brought into His kingdom. Jesus used the rejoicing of a woman who found her coin to teach his followers (us) about the importance of a single soul to the God of the universe. How does it make you feel to know how much God loves you and how important your eternal destiny is to Him.
Christ's love and compassion for people is revealed in His words to an unrepentant Jerusalem. "O Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Luke 13:34 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). "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36 NIV).
Wow! Can't you sense the love Jesus has for each and every person? That love includes you! No one is outside God's circle of love. When we begin to comprehend God's love, it makes complete sense that there would be rejoicing among the angels in God's presence when you gave your heart to Christ -- when that which was lost was found.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Needs and Wants

Chuckle: "The trouble with being a leader is that you can't be sure whether people are following you or chasing you!"
Quote: “Lord, for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray; Keep me, my God, from the stain of sin, Just for today.--Mary Xavier
"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19 NLT).
We sometimes have a difficult time distinguishing between our wants and our needs. As a society, we have become spoiled because of the abundant material blessings God has given us. As we read passages of Scripture about how God will supply our needs, we can drift into thinking that God should supply our wants as well. Expecting God to provide each and everything we desire shows a lack of understanding concerning God's promise to us. We may not always have all we want, but by trusting in our Lord, our attitudes and appetites can change from wanting everything in sight to accepting God's provision with sincere gratitude.
Jesus was teaching His followers not to worry about their basic needs like food, water, and clothing. Then He laid out a condition for God's meeting these basic needs. "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after those things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt. 6:31-33 NIV).
God owns all things, knows all things, and sees all things. He is keenly aware of the needs in your life and mine. In fact, God often provides even before we become aware of our needs. As a pastor, I have been amazed at the number of testimonies from people about God's goodness as He ministers to their needs. We can trust God in all areas of life and that He will meet not only our physical needs, but emotional and spiritual needs as well. God even gave Paul the courage to face death. He will meet your need for comfort and peace when you lose a loved one. He will give you strength and peace to help you deal with a serious illness.
Paul's words: " . . for I have learned to be 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. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." (Philippians 4:11-13 NLT).
Notice that Paul had learned to be happy and content. Learning is a process of growing in faith. Have you learned to place God's kingdom and His righteousness first in your life? Have you learned to take God at His word about meeting your basic needs? Have you learned to be content and trust our Lord in every situation?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 18, 2016

Freedom and Slavery

Chuckle: "People say that hard work never killed anybody, but on the other hand, I've never known anybody who rested themselves to death."
Quote: "The will of God never takes you to where the grace of God will not protect you." --Unknown source
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
A major hurdle we all have to clear is the one that says we have to earn our way into God's favor by doing good things for others and complying with a set of behavioral standards. The writer of our passage, the apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul, once persecuted the church and was zealous about keeping the Jewish Law and traditions because he believed he could earn God's favor through these activities. He tried his best to stamp out the early church because he felt that was what God would have him do.
Saul's persecution of the church may appear totally without justification to us. It's hard for us to understand how he could be so off-base in his understanding. However, when Saul met the crucified and risen Lord Jesus he realized that favor with God comes through God's grace by faith in Christ alone, not in blind obedience to a set of rules.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). Christ transformed Saul and gave him the name, "Paul," and sent him as a missionary to the gentile (non-Jewish) world. We can be just as off-base as Saul was if we depend upon our being good to earn us salvation.
Through Christ we stand in God's favor -- accepted, beloved, and free from the power and penalty of sin! Stand firm then in the freedom of God's favor today. Don't try to earn it but just stand in amazement and let your life show your gratitude for it.
The freedom God has given us through Christ is the freedom to serve Him, not freedom to do what ever we want, because that would lead us back into sin by making us slaves to our selfish desires. Some might say that freedom to serve Him doesn't sound much like freedom.
Listen to this illustration: Some years ago in Los Angeles as man was walking down the street with a sign on his shoulders. The front of it read, "I'M A SLAVE FOR CHRIST." The back of the sign read, "WHOSE SLAVE ARE YOU?" That's a good question, because all of us are slaves to one of two masters -- sin or righteousness -- Satan or God.
Let Paul put this freedom and slavery in perspective. "But now that you have been set free from (slavery to) sin and have become slaves (servants) to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:22-23 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, April 15, 2016

Righteousness from Christ

Chuckle: “Children aren’t happy with nothing to ignore, And that’s what parents were created for.” --Ogden Nash
Quote: The essence of repentance is that we cannot be repentant until we confront our own self-righteousness with God's righteousness." --Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, DD
God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).
You may think you are a good person and take pride in the fact that you can't be accused of a terrible crime and that you have a good reputation in your community. Being the prideful human beings that we are, we have a tendency to pat ourselves on the back for being a good parent, a good grandparent, a good friend, a good neighbor, etc. Often, inherent in such an attitude is "look what I have done." We want to take the credit for any and all good resulting from our lives. We want to say we "pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps" and made the world a better place because we were here.
I don't suppose there is anything wrong with feeling satisfaction from our living a good moral life as long as we don't depend upon our "good" life to make us right with God. Without Christ, your "good" moral life may bring happiness to the lives of others; but it will never bring you into a saving relationship with God. You are still a sinner in need of a Savior. That brings me to the subject of righteousness according to God. As used in the New Testament, the Bible Dictionary describes "righteousness" from God's point of view: "The gracious gift of God to men whereby all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are brought into right relationship with God. The person who trusts in Christ becomes the righteousness of God in Him."
It is the righteousness of Christ, not our own, that makes us right with God. When we place our trust in Christ, we make an exchange. He takes our sins and, in return, makes us right with God -- gives us His righteousness. In the secular world, bartering only works when two people exchange goods and services which are perceived to be of equal value. But God, in His love and mercy, offers to trade His righteousness for our sin -- something of immeasurable value for something totally worthless. As Christians, we must let God's Word remind us constantly that, outside of Christ, "There is no one who is righteous; not even one" (Romans 3:10 NIV).
Every sin of every person who ever lived, or will live, was placed on Christ. By His sacrifice, His righteousness was made available to all who place their faith in Him. We receive His righteousness the moment we became Christians. Therefore, any righteousness we have is not our own but the righteousness of Christ which has been imputed to us -- credited to our account.
"The Chinese character for 'righteousness' is most interesting. It is composed of two separate characters -- one standing for a lamb, the other for me. When 'lamb' is placed directly above 'me,' a new character -- 'righteousness' is formed. This is a helpful picture of the grace of God. Between me, the sinner, and God, the Holy One, there is interposed by faith the Lamb of God. By virtue of His sacrifice, He has received me on the ground of faith, and I have become righteous in His sight." –Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I Am Who I Am

Chuckle:  Art Linkletter saw a small boy drawing a picture. He inquired, "What are you drawing?" The boy replied, "A picture of God." Linkletter told the lad that no one knows what God looks like, to which the boy confidently responded, "They will when I get through."
Great Quote:  "We are, because God is." --Emanuel Swedenborg
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'the God of your fathers (ancestors) has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you'" (Exodus 3:13-14 NIV).
I'm sure you recall the story of how God spoke to Moses from a burning bush and call him to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Moses began making excuses to inform God that he was not the man for the job. Moses was worried that the Israelites would not accept him and he wanted to know from God what he should tell them when they asked who had sent him to lead them. When God said tell them "I AM WHO I AM" has sent me, He was speaking to His very nature and attributes about which we yearn for better understanding.
Remember, the Israelites had been in bondage for over 400 years and had come to understand the Egyptian way of thinking. They were aware that the Egyptians had many gods and each of them was identified by name. So, in their minds, it was necessary to know the name of the God of Israel. In the Hebrew language, familiar words often have timeless meanings when referring to the God of eternity. Within the statement, "I Am Who I Am" is an identification not bound by the limits of a specific time frame. God's words could be translated, "I Am Who I Have Been" or "I Will Forever Be Who I Am Now." The New Living Translation puts it this way: "I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS." There is no time or place in eternity where God is not.
God calls Himself "I AM" to describe His unchanging character, eternal presence and unequalled majesty. In our modern world, values, morals, and laws are constantly changing, but we can find security and stability in the person of our unchanging God. It's comforting to remember that the same God who appeared to Moses and guided him through the Exodus now lives in us today in the form of His Holy Spirit. The one true God, I AM, who has revealed Himself as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit "is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).
God's name describes His nature and trustworthiness and we are free to follow Him and trust Him in all aspects of our lives. The same God that called Moses and gave him strength is faithful and will provide for you and me as we walk with Him. God says, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5b NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Remember God Today

Chuckle: "Have you ever wondered why they didn't just hang on to them when they were taking the pictures of those criminals on the wanted posters in the Post Office?"
Quote: "As the ship is not made for the harbor, nor the bird for her nest, neither is man made for the storm cellar." --William Arthur Ward
"I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them" (Psalm 77:11-12 NLT).
Often, when I'm conducting a funeral service, I remind the grieving family of the wonderful gift God has given us -- our ability to remember. This God-given capacity allows us to relive the happy memories of our departed loved ones and those memories can never be taken from us. Have you thought lately about the complexities and intricacies of the healthy human brain that makes it possible to retrieve even some of the most meaningful memories for our enjoyment? Such reflections remind us anew of the magnificence of God creation. And when we remember what God has done for us, we receive great comfort for the present and assurance for the future.
Let's stop for a time this morning and remember together what God has done on behalf of mankind -- for you and me. God's written Word gives the accounts of God’s great love and miraculous accomplishments on behalf of His people down through the ages. Our love and gratitude for Him is magnified each time we remember. When we reflect on God's master plan to bring people into fellowship with Himself through faith in Jesus Christ, we are filled with gratitude, awe and reverence.
Remember when God first revealed Himself to you; how His Spirit drew you into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember how He has worked in your life to give you the strength to deal with every situation you have faced. Remember how much He loves you and genuinely cares about what happens to you. Remember all the joy and comfort you have received from spending time in God's Word; how answers to problems in your life have been revealed therein.
The most important thing for Christians to remember is the price our Lord Jesus paid when he bore our sins on that cross outside Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. Remember that without His experiencing agony of both body and Spirit and the shedding of His precious blood, you and I would be doomed for eternity. Remember, the love, compassion, and forgiveness shown by Jesus as he hung on the cross and what He said on behalf of His tormentors: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Remember His miraculous resurrection on the third day victorious over sin, death, and the grave.
I pray our remembering together this morning has strengthened your faith and instilled in your heart new levels of love and gratitude for our crucified, buried, and risen Lord.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 11, 2016

Lose It to Find It

Chuckle: “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went on ahead without it.” --Jonathan Winters
Quote: "Our self-searching prayers rise higher than our self-seeking prayers." --William Arthur Ward
"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life" (Mark 8:34-35 NLT).
The words in the Bible spoken by Jesus take on the greatest importance to me. These words from the lips of our Lord cut right to the heart of our battle within ourselves over our love for the things of this world and our love for our Lord Jesus Christ. Have you thought lately about your definition of success? Do your measures of success include the amount of money you have, the size of your house, or the horsepower of your car? Do you value most the world's trappings of success or God's definition for success?
In our passage, Jesus speaks both in the negative to drive His point home -- losing versus finding. He was teaching His followers about the cost of following Him -- the cost of discipleship. By asking us to take up our cross and follow Him, Jesus says we must be willing to publicly identify with Him, even in the face of opposition, and be willing to suffer and even give our lives for His sake. Henry Blackaby defines discipleship this way:
"Discipleship is more than acquiring head knowledge and memorizing Scripture verses. It is learning to give Jesus Christ total access to your life so He will live His life through you." --Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God Day by Day
If we cling to the things of this life, we may forfeit the best life that Christ wants us to have both here on earth and in heaven. The more we love wealth, popularity, power, etc., the sooner we will learn how empty this life can really be. So, if you want to live a full and successful life according to God's standards, loosen your grasp on things of this world and its rewards, and take hold of Christ. I like this definition of success: "Success is fulfilling the purpose for which God created you!"
If we fail to fulfill God's purpose for our lives, there's no way we can claim success. As we invest our lives for Jesus' sake, we will find the meaning and significance of the life that God has planned for us from the beginning. We are truly successful when we allow Jesus Christ to live His life through us. Then we will "lose" this life for His sake and "find" His true life.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sinful Anger or Righteous Indignation?

Chuckle: Golfer: "I'd move heaven and earth to break 100 on this course." Caddy: "Try heaven. You've already moved most of the earth."
Quote: "A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good." --Henry Ward Beecher
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19-20 NIV).
Wikipedia defines righteous indignation as, "a reactive emotion of anger over either an obvious or perceived mistreatment, insult, criticism, overpowerment, oppression, malice, etc." It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice." How can we be certain that our anger is righteous indignation and not sinful rage? I believe the answer is rather simple to state, but difficult to live out. Anger is righteous indignation when it is directed at that which angers Jesus Himself and when we react as Jesus reacted when He was angry.
Following Jesus' example, righteous anger and indignation are justified when we are confronted with sin and injustice. Some examples would be anger towards spousal abuse, child neglect/abuse, pornography, homosexual activity, racism, abortion, discrimination and the like. Jesus' anger and indignation, were directed at obvious sinful behavior and injustice. However, Jesus' anger was always couched in His overriding love and compassion. Even when hanging on the cross, He could have expressed anger and hatred toward His tormentors, but instead, He showed love and forgiveness by saying, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."
When Jesus was angry with the Pharisees because of the hardness of their hearts, He did not exact revenge, but showed grief and compassion for them (Mark 3:5). When we become angry, we best examine our motives before we act. We should resist the temptation to retaliate in kind or exact revenge when we, or others, are mistreated. Aren't you thankful that Jesus didn't react in kind to the rejections, insults and agony He suffered. In McCosh's book, Motive Powers, he provides some cautions concerning righteous indignation.
"We may be angry and sin not; but this disposition may become sinful, and this in the highest degree. It is so when it is excessive, when it is rage, and makes us lose control of ourselves. It is so, and may become a vice, when it leads us to wish evil to those who have offended us. It is resentment when it prompts us to meet and repay evil by evil. It is vengeance when it impels us to crush those who have injured us. It is vindictiveness meant to give pain to those who have thwarted us. Then sin has Already entered."
God knows our hearts and motives and we should never try to disguise hateful anger as righteous indignation. Destructive anger has a condemning component, while righteous indignation always has a redemptive component based on love and forgiveness. Believers have many opportunities to channel their righteous anger into constructive ministries that counter the influence of evil in society. If our anger results in bringing others into a loving and saving relationship with Jesus Christ, it is righteous indignation. Forces antagonistic toward God and Christianity challenge us to love as Jesus loved while acting in opposition to such forces.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, April 8, 2016

Wisdom and Foolishness

Chuckle: A minister was asked by a politician, "What can the government do to help the church?" The minister replied, "Quit making one dollar bills."
Quote: "There is a deep wisdom inaccessible to the wise and prudent but disclosed to babes." --Christopher Bryant
    "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. . . So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made them look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in his wisdom saw that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:18, 20-21 NLT).
I feel totally inadequate to even comment on this passage which was penned by the apostle Paul. The message is so abundantly clear that it's a mystery how its central truth is missed, ignored, or discredited by so many in our modern-day world. It seems many have a difficult time recognizing any wisdom greater than their own -- even if described in God's Word.
In the ancient Jewish culture, the minds of the "wise" were made up and their mindset was that the long-awaited Messiah would come as a reigning monarch and would restore the earthly throne of King David, free them from the yoke of rule by other nations, and perform great signs and miracles.
Instead, Jesus came as an humble servant, was executed like a common criminal, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and rose from the dead the third day. The "wise" of that day could not understand God's plan for the redemption of mankind. Jesus came to die as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and to establish his kingdom in the hearts of those who trust him by faith, not for those who try to earn salvation with good deeds and human wisdom.
We can spend our lifetimes trying to accumulate the wisdom of this world and never achieve the essential for eternal salvation, a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. "Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn your back on evil" (Proverbs 3:7 NLT).
Those who are truly wise understand that a personal relationship with Christ demonstrates the greatest wisdom anyone can have. Jesus said, "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way" (Matthew 11:25-26 NLT).
James tells us that wisdom from heaven “is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”  (James 3:17 NIV). How do you and I measure up in this test of heavenly wisdom?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Running From God

Chuckle: "Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare." --Ed Asner
Quote: "Very few things motivate us to give God our undivided attention like being faced with the negative consequences of our decisions." --Charles Stanley
"The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.' But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD" (Jonah 1:1-3 NIV).
Our great God is omnipresent -- there is no place where He is not. No matter how far you may try to run from Him or Hide from Him, He is with you. This can be disturbing news if you are trying to run from God in disobedience, as was Jonah; but it is wonderful news if you know Him, love Him, and wish to draw near to Him in obedience. No matter where you go or what you do, His comforting presence is always with you. "I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! (Psalm 139:7 NLT).
Our old pal, Jonah, learned first hand the futility of trying to run and hide from God. He found there was no place to hide. Jonah was a prophet for Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.). This story of Jonah took place around 759 B.C. The terribly wicked and cruel city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, an arch enemy of Israel. Jonah had no desire to preach to such horrible people, and I'm sure he feared for his life if he went there. Nineveh was 550 miles northeast of Jerusalem in what is now Iraq. Rather than obey God, Jonah went to the port city of Joppa and boarded a ship for Tarshish, 2500 miles west (in Spain) of where God had told him to go. He tried to get as far away from God as possible.
Jonah's disobedience brought extreme misery upon the sailors on the ship and upon himself as they endured a terrible storm. Jonah was thrown overboard and was swallowed by a giant fish. When he repented, the fish spat him out on dry land. "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim the message I gave you:'" Now Jonah was ready when God commanded him a second time to go preach to the city of Nineveh. As a result, the whole city and surrounding communities repented and turned to the Lord. When Jonah stopped running and began to trust and obey God, he was used by God to accomplish mighty things.
This story is not about Jonah, a great storm, a great fish, or even a great city. It's about a great God who loves us and responds to our repentance with love, compassion, and mercy. He proved to Jonah that He was a God of second chances. Perhaps you have been running from God. If so, repent and God will give you a second chance to become what he wants you to be.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Persecuted, Who Me?

Chuckle: A preacher related how he asked a group of high school students to write down their favorite hymns. One girl wrote, "Willie Smith."
Quote: "The way of the world is to praise dead saints and persecute the living ones." --Unknown Author
"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:12-13 NIV).
What is the greatest desire of your life? Our actions are driven by our desires and the perceived need to satisfy those desires. The operative question is what desires are we trying to satisfy? As a Christian, you know that God wants our greatest desire to be to love Him and "to live godly lives in Christ Jesus." If this is, in fact, the greatest desire of your life you will definitely find yourself swimming against the current in our culture which is rapidly moving in the opposite direction. When our Christian values conflict with those of a culture that does not value godliness, we can be assured of a negative reaction.

A good measure of our desire to serve God is whether or not we are experiencing opposition. If we never find ourselves at odds with the worldly culture, then we should examine our hearts to see if we have lost our desire to serve God as our first priority. Jesus warned us about this when He said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you..." (Luke 6:26 NIV). When the ungodly speaks highly of a "Christian," it could mean the Christian has compromised his values to bring them in line with the prevailing culture. Sadness lies ahead for those who seek the approval of the crowd rather than God's approval.
The promise of persecution is not a pleasant one and it is not something we enjoy thinking about. Yet we need to be aware of the cost of godliness and be ready "to live a godly life in Christ Jesus" at any cost. Biblical truths should govern our lives, not the socially acceptable and politically correct values of our culture. Our ultimate goal should be to change our culture to once again accept God's standards and values.
"During the Watergate scandal, some people regarded it as a compliment to be on Nixon's 'enemies list.' They took it as a credit to them that people in the administration opposed them. In the same way, if you have enemies because of your righteousness, it will be a credit to you. You should be glad that you have that kind of enemies, and that they are persecuting you, because it means that you are not doing what they do. Instead you are doing what unrighteous men hate." –Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

God's Peace

Chuckle: When asked if he wanted his pizza cut into 4 pieces or 6. The man thought for a moment and said, "Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces."
Ponder This: "No God, no peace; know God, know peace."
Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27 NIV).
A hurricane is a storm with cyclonic winds exceeding 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes can be very fierce storms with relentless pounding winds and rain that continue hour after hour. But the storm's "eye" is a place of perfect calm in its center. So it is with the storms of life. With the Lord as our center, there is calm and peace, even in the worst of storms.
Peace! What a beautiful and comforting word. Just hearing the word has a calming effect on me, and causes me to consider the level of serenity, calmness, and comfort that exists in my life. Peace is a state of mind that everyone seeks after, but many never find the secret of genuine peace.
Jesus is called "The Prince of Peace." When his birth was announced, the angels heralded, "peace and good will toward men." In our passage, Jesus was comforting his disciples on the evening before his crucifixion. In announcing his going away, he promised the gift of his peace. In the preceding verses, Jesus had also promised that the Holy Spirit would come to be with us and in us. The result of the Holy Spirit's presence and work in our lives brings deep and lasting peace.
Jesus made a distinction between the peace the world offers and the peace he has given us. In earthly terms, peace is usually described as the absence of conflict, but the peace Jesus gives includes confident and calm assurance in every circumstance. With Christ's peace, we never need to harbor fear, anxiety, or worry -- not now, not ever.
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Jesus Christ" (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
Just imagine never having to worry about anything ever again! Impossible, you say! Paul tells us to turn our worries into prayers. If you want to worry less, then pray more. True peace is not found in positive thinking, absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. As a Christian, your citizenship in Christ's kingdom is assured, your destiny is set, and your victory over sin and death has been won. So, why worry? Let the peace that Jesus gives guard your heart against worry and anxiety. Like the calm in the eye of the hurricane, Christ keeps us in the eye of his care even as the storms of life roar all around us. Claim this promise and live with a peace that defies understanding by those who have not experienced it.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Need for Repentance

Chuckle: "Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield."
Good Thought: "An obvious indication that we have not genuinely repented is that we make excuses for our sinful behavior." --Henry Blackaby
THE NEED FOR REPENTANCE
"For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death" (2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT).
"Noah's message from the steps of the Ark was not, 'Something good is going to happen to you!' Daniel was not put into the lion's den for telling the people, 'Possibility thinking will move mountains!' John the Baptist was not forced to preach in the wilderness and eventually be beheaded because he preached, 'Smile, God loves you!' Instead, the message of all these men of God was one word: 'Repent!'" –Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
Jesus Himself, along with Biblical writers, preached repentance as a necessary step in the forgiveness of sin and receiving eternal salvation. Repentance is a word that makes us feel uncomfortable because it requires us to change our ways of thinking and acting. The word "repent" means to change direction -- stop going in one direction, do a 180 degree turn, and start going in the opposite direction. It also means to be genuinely sorry and regretful for the sin in our lives. Repentance can be a life-changing experience.
Do you see repentance as a positive or a negative word? I hope you see it as positive and comforting. Just think about it! God, in His amazing love, has cared enough to warn us of coming danger and has given us the remedy for avoiding it. Yes, repentance is necessary if we are to be born again and receive salvation through faith in Christ. But the need to repent can also be a real problem for Christians as well. If you see repentance as a negative word, you will try all sorts of other actions in order to avoid repenting. Some of the ways we avoid being genuinely repentant include, rededicating our lives to Christ; making resolutions to be more faithful to God; and being sorry for our sins, but unwilling to turn from them.
Repentance requires allowing God to do major surgery on your heart. It indicates a major and radical change in both heart and mind. It means we have come to see our sins as God sees them and we have come to agree with him about their seriousness. Repentance requires us to take specific and decisive actions to bring our lives back into the center of God's will for us -- to realign our thinking with his. Repentance requires us to change, not just have a desire to change.
In our passage, Paul warns about the dangers of having sorrow for our sins that falls short of genuine repentance. Being sorry we got caught, but not sorry for sinful action falls into this category. We can be sorry for the effects of our sins on ourselves and others but not for the sin itself. But a changed life will be the evidence that true repentance has occurred.
If you are struggling with a "pet" sin in your life that you just can't turn away from, you are in need of repentance and forgiveness. Listen to I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse (purify) us from all unrighteousness." If you have a genuine desire to change your life, God will forgive you, cleanse you, and give you strength to overcome that stronghold Satan has in your life. Repentance is key to a victorious life in Christ!
Love, Jerry & Dotse