Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ten Commandments: Parents and Children

Chuckle: "In all my experience in the ministry, I've discovered that I never preached a bad short sermon!"
Quote: "A heart free from bitterness, full of forgiveness, is a great place for the Lord to begin His work." --Ron Mehl
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12 NIV).
We should honor our parents so we might live; so we won't be taken captive by bitterness; so we might not suffer guilt; to enjoy God's good gifts to us. However, God warns us violation of this command will effect the quality and length of our lives. "Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2-3 NIV).
To some, thoughts of parents are warm and pleasant because of their love and nurturing. Others have memories of abusive, uncaring, neglectful parents. Notice that this Command applies to those who have good, godly, loving parents, and those who don't. However, God does not close His eyes to pain parents inflict upon their children. "Fathers (parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Those who are not good parents must answer to God, but we should honor them as God commands. You will be a better person and parent if you honor your parents by:
Showing them love: Someone has said, "love is spelled T-I-M-E. You may say, "I don't like spending time with my parents because of the way they treat me. It goes without saying, our parents aren't perfect and they know it. However, there are no more potent words in the world to a parent's ears than the four words, "I love you mom," or, "I love you dad." Nothing even comes close. If you, as a parent, receive such love, cherish it, cultivate it, guard it, and return it with all your heart. How long has it been since you expressed your love and appreciation to your parents?
Being obedient to them: For children, God says you should honor your parents by obeying them while in their home and then by carry those teachings into later life. "My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teachings". (Proverbs 6:20 NIV). "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord" (Colossians 3:20 NIV). ". . . for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1 NIV)
Forgiving them: If you have been hurt, abused, or neglected by your parents, how do you honor them in obedience to the fifth command? In a word, "Forgiveness." To forgive means "to let go," or "to send away." But you say, "Jerry, there's no way you could know what I've been through. How can you say "just let all that hurt go?" You're right, I don't know what you've been through, but I know what Jesus went through and he still loved, forgave, forgot, and laid down his life for me. When it comes to forgiveness, the innocent party always pays the price, but it is a price worth paying. Jesus looked down from the cross at his tormentors and said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." "I forgive you" is a powerful ointment in a strained relationship that can change your life and touch the hearts of your parents.
Caring for them: Today, parents are living longer and often need extended periods of care. This can become a difficult time in our lives. We must ask God for strength and return to our aging parents the same love, concern, time, and support they gave us during our growing up years. We can avoid a terrible and haunting sense of guilt after their gone by showing them love, forgiveness, and care while they are living.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ten Commandments: Lord of the Sabbath

Chuckle: Proofreading is a lost art. Headline read: "Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say." Really? Ya think?
Quote: "My worth to God in public is what I am in private." --Oswald Chambers

"Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Exodus 20:8 NLT). "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (KJV). "For the Son of Man (Jesus) is Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8 NIV).
The principle behind this fourth command is that one day out of seven should be observed differently as Holy unto God. After Christ's resurrection on the first day of the week, most Christians have observed Sunday as the Lord's Day. All days belong to God, and are symbolically dedicated to him by a special consecration of a single Lord's Day. The primary goal should be to make it a day that honors God and is kept holy. If our Lord's Day activities do not do that, we should examine our lives. In Matthew 12:3-5, 9-11, Jesus named three things that should be done on the Sabbath: acts of necessity, acts of mercy, and acts of worship.
First, the Lord's Day should be a time when we rest our physical bodies -- as God rested from his work after the creation. Jesus said to His disciples: "Come with me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31). Rest is essential in many aspects of God's creation. Even farmers rotate crops to give soil time to rest and rebuild itself with vital nutrients. Don't you think God knows something about you and me that we tend to forget?
Second, the Lord's Day should be a time of worship. God is saying, "Could we just have some time together." We know that: God wants time to fellowship with us in a love relationship. Today, we are selfish with our time - yet we waste so much of it. Sunday has become just another day to many of us -- a day to do what we want, and if we have time we might squeeze an hour or so in for God, but only if convenient. Time with God in prayer, Bible study, and praise, in both private and public worship, should be our priority. "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker" (Psalm 95:6). "I rejoice with those who said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord" (Psalm 122:1). How important is private and collective worship to you?
Third, the Lord's Day should be a time of taking stock. When God created the world and all that was in it, Scripture says that He did it in six days, looked back over what He had done, and saw that "it was good" (Genesis 1:25). And after man was created, God saw that "it was very good" (vs. 31). If you can't reflect on your life, your home, your family, your labors, and say "it is very good," maybe the reason is because you have tried to do it yourself. It's been your work, not Gods; your agenda, not God's; your game plan, not his. But, if you've placed your ministry, work, investments, everything you are, in His care, you can have a totally different outlook. Because your life is shaped by God, you will be able to say, "It is very good."
As we rest, worship, learn of Him, and serve Him on the Lord's Day, it gives us a time of intimate fellowship with God. It can be a time for us to allow God to evaluate our lives -- to restore where our spiritual shoes may be wearing thin. Observing the Lord's Day is not so much the non-expenditure of energy but the focus of that energy on our Lord as we honor him by keeping the day holy. When we reverence God, he allows us a greater view into His heart and will for our lives.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ten Commandments: What's in a Name?

Chuckle: A preacher looking over his predecessor's sermons found midway down a page a sentence in brackets which read: "Yell like blazes -- argument poor!"
Quote: "Guard your roving thoughts with a jealous care, for speech is but the dialer of thoughts, and every fool can plainly read in your words what is the hour of your thoughts." --Alfred Lord Tennyson

"Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name" (Exodus 20:7 NLT). "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (KJV).
In biblical thought, a name was a means to capsulate the very essence of a person into one meaningful term. Because of their importance, names were never given without purpose, and sometimes changed to represent a change in character -- Abram to Abraham; Jacob to Israel, etc. Even Jesus was given names with profound meaning. "Jesus" from Hebrew "Joshua" means "Jehovah is Salvation." "Christ" is from the Greek "Christos," and Hebrew equivalent "Messiah" which means "Anointed One." He was also called "Immanuel," which means "God with us."
Using His name in vain is a big deal to God. Taking God's name in vain is more than just using profanity in our speech. It indicates a flawed lifestyle; and, sadly, when we deny God's holiness by profaning His name, we may cause others to lose respect for His name as well. To profane His name, or misuse His name, is to ignore his holy nature represented by His name. When I allow bitter and profane words to escape my lips, it's a sign of a sinful heart. I've never met a person who puts God first in his/her life who uses God's name in vain in the course of conversation -- have you?
Other ways we can violate this commandment include: (1) Using the name "Christian" without obeying God's commands. "They claim to know God, but by their actions, they deny Him" (Titus 1:16 NIV); (2) Praying in Jesus name for things desired by a selfish heart rather than for what Jesus wants for me. "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3 NIV); (3) Giving lip-service to worship -- not from the heart -- "These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain" (Matthew 15:8-9a NIV); or (4) A lack of reverence for God's name -- the "Name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess . . ." (Philippians 2:10 NIV).
The way we use God's name reveals how we really feel about him. If you find yourself profaning or otherwise misusing and dishonoring God's name, there are some ways to deal with the issue. First, recognize your sin and confess it before God. Second, accept God's forgiveness. Third, be conscious of God's presence with you at all times. There is no "off-the-record" way of dishonoring God's name. Don't forget, God gave us this commandment because he loves us. If you have used His name in vain,  you can pray asking God’s forgiveness and cleansing of your heart, mind, and lips.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ten Commandments: Don't Worship Idols

Chuckle: A little girl who was an avid fan of radio closed her prayer with these words, "God bless mamma and daddy, amen and F.M."
Quote: "In the morning, prayer is the key that opens to us the treasures of God's mercies and blessings; in the evening it is the key that shuts us up under his protection and safeguard."Unknown Source

"Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god!" (Exodus 20:4-5a NLT).
Here's what God is saying: "I am your God. I love you and I have redeemed you at a terrible price. I want to provide for you and protect you and bless you. Please, don't put anyone or anything in the place that rightfully belongs to me." God is saying: "don't carry around any other images or idols in your heart -- don't turn to false gods for comfort, stimulation, or satisfaction. I am able to meet your every need." It's a love issue. It's a relationship issue. The Apostle John wrote: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (I John 5:21 NIV).
The purpose of the second commandment is to negate all the vices that diminish our Godliness and further estrange us from the true God. Some "idols" that get in the way of our love relationship with God include our desire for power, image, pleasure, fame, wealth, status, etc. When you pursue these things more than God, they have become idols to you. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said to disciples, "You cannot serve both God and money." Paul says in Colossians 3:5, that even "greediness is idolatry." We will become just like the image/idol we are pursuing. We become like what we worship. God knows the hollow despair that ultimately results from a life where things other than Him hold first place in our value system.
A modern definition of happiness is "whatever makes me feel good -- whatever makes my child happy whether it's good for him or not." But the images/idols/gods of this world will take us where God doesn't want us to go. They will use us up, drain us dry, and then discard us. They can never give us genuine happiness.
There's room for only one truly loved husband or wife in your life and there should be room for only one Lord in your heart. He's Jesus. So, if you have attached your allegiance to something that has become more important than your relationship with Him, what should you do? Listen to Jesus: "Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern" (Matthew 6:32b-33 NLT).
Matthew Henry explains: "Since you know the true God and are in Him, let your light and love guard you against all that is advanced in opposition to Him, or competition with Him . . .Cleave to Him in faith, and love, and constant obedience, in opposition to all things that would alienate your mind and heart from God."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, June 24, 2016

Ten Commandments: No Other Gods

Chuckle: A minister said to a woman, "It is wonderful how much you have collected for the hospital." She replied, "Well I feel I owe so much to the hospital -- you know my husband died there!"
Quote: “The Ten Commandments aren’t prefaced with 'If you’re in the mood.'" --Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Then God instructed the people as follows: "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. Do not worship any other gods besides me" (Exodus 20:1-3 NLT). "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (KJV).
The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets of stone that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. The first four commands are about the nature of God and deal with our relationship to Him: One God; Idols; His Name; and the Sabbath. The last six commands deal with our relationships with other people.
As a minister and pastor, my greatest challenge is not preaching, teaching, counseling, or administering. My greatest challenge is maintaining a close, personal, loving, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ -- Keeping God first in my life -- allowing nothing else to become more important to me than Him. I have learned that If the first commandment is kept the way God intended, the other nine are no problem at all. Hard work for the Lord isn't enough -- it's our relationship with Him that concerns God -- the condition of our hearts toward Him.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV). The bottom line: You should put God first in everything you do so He can direct your path. Let God set your plans and priorities -- Don't just squeeze Him into your otherwise busy and hectic schedule. You see, our understanding is flawed by sin and is totally inadequate. "There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).
Today, many simply fail to consider God in their daily lives. They are not necessarily or deliberately against God. They simply don't know God or have chosen to ignore Him. On a typical day in your life, where does God fit in? He wants to be your only God -- He wants to care for you -- He is committed to you even when you fail -- He is never done with you and considers you a work in progress. When God is first in your life, it will impact the lives of others. "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (I Peter 3:15 NIV).
Simply stated, we should always keep Him first. After all He's done for me, why should I put anything or anyone ahead of Him in my life? God gives us love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, forgiveness, comfort, blessings, guidance, and strength. He only asks that we let nothing become a god by becoming more important to us than He is. Sounds reasonable to me! Why should I turn to some other god who cannot measure up?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ten Commandments: Our Response

Chuckle: "To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong, admit it. Whenever you are right, shut up." --Ogden Nash
Quote: "God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, he can make something out of us." --Martin Luther

Then the Lord told Moses, "Go down and prepare the people for my visit. Purify them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for I will come down upon Mount Sinai as all the people watch" (Exodus 19:10 NLT).
God's commandments are a gift of love in an uncertain and dangerous world. He revealed his true character by giving us a covenant to live by. So, how should we respond to this amazing gift? We should prepare ourselves to hear Him. The Lord made an issue out of preparing the people to experience His presence and receive His commands. In other words, this encounter with God was going to require something of them -- an attitude that says, "OK God, I'm ready to listen to you." We need to get the clutter out of our lives: unconfessed sin, worry, possessions, pleasures, and responsibilities. In return for His love, we need to study, listen, learn, and obey.
One day a single friend asked a father, "Why do you love your children?" The father thought for a moment, but the only answer he could come up with was "because they are mine." The children had no need to do anything to prove themselves to this father. He took them just as they were. So it is with God's love for us. He loves us as we are, and it is his love that motivates us to trust and obey him in return.
Our response to God's unspeakable love is shown through our worship. When we meet God for worship, public or private, we should set aside the preoccupations and cares of everyday life, and use the precious time God gives us to prepare our hearts to meet Him, hear Him, and experience Him. We can do this by allowing Him to purify our hearts. "If we confess our sins (to him), he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9 NIV).
To worship God is to give back to Him the very best of all He has given us. Right now, there at your computer, have you given your life to Him through faith in Jesus Christ? If so, are you preparing your heart for the next encounter with our Lord? Before attending public worship, do you spend time in prayer asking God to prepare your heart and mind for worship? I pray that you know Christ as Savior and Lord, and I also pray you will experience His presence, hear Him speak, and find His joy on this special day that he has made (Psalm 118:24).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Ten Commandments: On Eagles' Wings

Chuckle: On her first visit to a church, a little girl was awed by the occasion. "Mama," she whispered. "Does the minister live here or does he come down from heaven every Sunday!"
Quote: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether this happens at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young, but becomes constantly more valuable regardless of physical capacity." --Harvey Ullman

"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagles' wings" (Exodus 19:4 NLT).
Through Moses, God communicated his love and compassion for his people. He reminded them how they were slaves in Egypt; how they cried out to Him; how He heard their cries and saw their tears; how He came down to buy them back from slavery; how He helped them escape across the Red Sea with Pharaoh's armies in pursuit; how He provided manna for food in the wilderness and fresh water from the desert; and how He swooped down and bore them on eagles wings. In all these ways God showed his love for his people.
Like the mother eagle makes a nest, nurtures, and teaches the young eagle to fly, so God wanted Moses to remind the people of His love before giving them these commands. At one time, each of us were like the baby eagle with no hope and nothing to cling to -- "without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).
But what happened? In Christ, God swoops down and picks us up (saves us) and now sustains us and keeps us every day of our lives. He gives us His Word to guide and protect us. As you yearn for your children to avoid destructive paths in their lives; how much more our heavenly Father desires the same for His children. Out of His love, He wants to protect us from the snares of the evil one, and help us to find eternal peace.
The lines between truth and untruth are becoming increasingly blurred in our culture. Paul called these days "perilous times" in 2 Timothy 3:1. From the media, we see that no one seems to know what is right and ethical and moral anymore. People say: "well this may be wrong for you, but it's right for me. That may be wrong in this situation, but right in that situation." This kind of confusion leads to adultery, lying, stealing, killing, abortion, etc.
With the Ten Commandments, God said, "let me remove the confusion and ambiguity from your lives. There are parameters within them that are literally matters of life and death." God, more than anyone else, understands how life works. He knows the consequences of our decisions. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11). But, just like in the Garden of Eden, Satan does not want us to see God's commands as products of love given for our own good, but as harsh, unfair, and irrelevant in today's world.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ten Commandments, God's Love Letter

Chuckle: A man was shouting "Amen" in a certain church. One of the deacons told him he’d have to be quiet. The man said -- "But I've got religion." "Well, shut up, you didn't get it in this church," the deacon snapped.
Quote: "Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." --Erica Mann Yong

Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called out to him from the Mountain and said, "Give these instructions to the descendants of Jacob, the people of Israel. You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle's wings" (Exodus 19:3-4 NLT).
If you love your children deeply and are genuinely concerned for their well-being, you will set down rules and guidelines for their conduct in order to protect them from destructive behavior. You're intent is not to restrict their lives and make them miserable, but to make their lives happier and more fulfilling. Please keep this thought in mind as we begin a series of lessons on the Ten Commandments.
In our modern age, how much of the Old Testament Law is still relevant for New Testament Christians? Which, if any, of the Laws should be kept by Christians now living under Grace rather than law? Remember, Jesus said He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). We must recognize that the ceremonial and sacrificial laws are no longer applicable to the church because Jesus became the ultimate once for all sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:10). However, these Commands are as relevant today as they were in Moses' day. They give us a moral and spiritual compass to live by. Even our very laws are based on the Ten Commandments.
In our "if it feels good, do it" society, where emphasis is placed on individual rights and personal freedoms, there is a growing resentment toward authority and some people are generally not receptive to commands of any kind. This attitude can creep into the Christian life if we are not careful. The Ten Commandments are more correctly termed as "A Covenant," or "Testimony" (Deuteronomy 9:9). The "Tables of the Covenant" were God's way of establishing order in his kingdom and were designed out of love for His people to lead them to lives of practical holiness.
In the covenant, God said to the people: "Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6 NLT). If you accept the commandments as your part of a covenant between God and you, rather than just a set of rules, you will begin to see them and God in a totally different light.
Listen to what God said to Moses in Exodus 19:3-4. In essence, God said, "Moses, before you give the people these commands, before anything else, tell them I love them, delivered them out of slavery, bore them on eagles' wings, and brought them to myself." What a beautiful expression of our Heavenly Father's never ending love.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, June 17, 2016

Faith and Actions

Chuckle: A cop to a lady stopped for speeding: "So you didn't think we gave tickets to pretty women? You're right, we don't. . .! Sign here."
Quote: "Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible." --Corrie Ten Boom
"Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. . . Now some may argue, 'Some people have faith; others have good deeds.' I say, 'I can't see your faith if you don't have good deeds; but I will show you my faith through my good deeds . . . Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so faith is dead without good deeds" (James 2:14,18,26 NLT).
Here, James is alarmed by some in the church who professed to have faith but refused to do what Christians should. He was dealing with people who considered themselves as belonging to the Christian community, but did not feel that ethical or moral actions were necessary. They had divorced faith from works.
James Peterson & Peter Kim wrote a book: "The Day America Told the Truth." They found that many people keep their religious lives (one or two hours on Sunday) separate from their daily lives. However, James says real (authentic) faith will be reflected by our actions -- how we live each day. It will permeate everything we do. Genuine faith is always followed by a Godly life of love, morality, happiness, service, and ministry. Our faith should change the way we live.
When someone claims to have faith, what he or she may have is intellectual assent -- agreement with a set of Christian teachings -- and as such it is incomplete faith. True faith transforms our conduct as well as our thoughts. If our lives remain unchanged, we don't truly believe the truths we claim to believe. In other words, doing good deeds for others will not save us, but if we have been genuinely "born again," our salvation experience and ensuing faith will be authenticated by how we live -- by how much we love, accept, and minister to the needs of others in the name of Jesus.
"Martin Luther, who had made himself the apostle and champion of faith alone, wrote the following: 'Faith is a living, busy, active, powerful thing; it is impossible for it not to do us good continually. It never asks whether good works are to be done, but has done them before there is time to ask the question, and it is always doing them."
Deeds of loving service are not a substitute for, but rather a verification of, our saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 13, 2016

Why Love Others?

Chuckle: "My home church welcomes all denominations, but mainly they prefer tens and twenties!"
Good Quote: "The highest love of all finds its fulfillment not in what it keeps, but in what it gives." --Fr Andrew SDC
Great Commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" "The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).
Here, Jesus identifies the two greatest commandments. Except our love for God, there is nothing more important than our love for others. At one point Jesus reiterated this command and was asked, "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29 NIV). From Jesus' answer, we know that no one should be excluded from being loved as our neighbor. We are to love and care for others as we love and care for ourselves. This command is easily understood by both believers and non-believers alike, and Jesus quoted it as applicable to everyone who heard his voice. This command was first given by God to Moses in the Law which was designed to govern the lives of His people, Israel (Leviticus 19:18).
However, when Jesus was teaching His disciples prior to His crucifixion, He took love for one another to a whole new level. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35 NIV). Jesus is saying that, as believers, we should love one another as He has loved us, not as we love ourselves. He has given us a new standard for loving fellow Christians. Only believers can understand what it means to love as Jesus loves, because we have experienced His love first hand. We know what His love is like.
In our own strength, it is impossible to love others as Jesus loves us. But remember, we have God's Holy Spirit living within us and He wants the love of Christ to flow through us and into the lives of others. It is Christ living within us that makes this kind of love possible. "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20 NIV).
Here is a good summary of how we should love one another: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT).
Our ability to love others as Jesus loves us is dependent upon our relationship with Him. Only His Spirit can enable us to adequately love others as Jesus modeled for us. As we learn to love like Jesus, our relationships with others will become more fulfilling and pleasing to God.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Spiritual Warfare, Part 4

ChuckleChurch bulletin on a national Fasting and Prayer Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals."
Quote: "Christ himself is my righteousness. I look at him as a gift to me, in himself; so that in him I have all things." --Martin Luther
"We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans and methods. We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NLT).
Last time, we looked at the powerful spiritual weapons God has given us to defeat the forces of Satan each day we live. Additional weapons available to us are prayer, faith, hope, and love. These are also powerful and effective. God wants us to live victoriously in him every day.
We can demolish satanic arguments and philosophies that mislead us into lives of sin and indifference toward God. "With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God" (2 Corinthians 4:5 NLT). These weapons can break down the human arguments against God and walls Satan builds to keep people from God. We can demolish every pretension against the knowledge of God.
We can take captive the negative, impure, and ungodly thoughts the world places in our minds. "With these weapons we conquer their (the world's) rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:6 NLT). Both God and the world want to place thoughts in our minds. The ones we allow to fill our minds depends upon our desire to be holy and responsive to God's will.
We can deal with the temptation to disobey God; however, If we have disobeyed God, we can ask His forgiveness and cleansing. When the Holy Spirit makes us aware and convicts us of our sins, we should deal with those sins immediately and not allow them to become strongholds. Again, I refer you to I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." You and I can have victory over the devil and the world each day when we trust Jesus completely and use the spiritual weapons he has provided us.
Not only does God give us offensive spiritual weapons, but also protective armor. I want to leave you with the words of the apostle Paul: "A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil . . . . Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on your salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere" (Ephesians 6:10, 13-18 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Spiritual Warfare, Part 3

Chuckle: "Why are buildings called buildings when they are finished? Shouldn't they be called builts?"
Quote: "The winds of God are always blowing, but you must set the sails." --Unknown Source
"We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4 NLT).
We have seen how sin in your life can be exploited by the evil one to neutralize you as a Christian. Today, let's look on the positive side and seek to better understand the spiritual weapons at our disposal. Here are five primary weapons God has given us:
God's Word. Satan tries to convince us that God's Word really doesn't mean what it says about sin -- it cannot be trusted to guide us -- it is not relevant in today's world. He will try to make us believe that certain "little" sins will make our lives happier and more fulfilled. But Hebrews 4:12 (NLT) tells us: "For the Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires." Like a skilled spiritual surgeon, God's Word reveals who we are and and are not. It penetrates the very core of our moral and spiritual being. It requires a response each time we are exposed to its wisdom and power.
The Name of Jesus. "Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name" (Luke 10:17 NLT). Jesus is Prophet, Priest, King, Savior, Creator -- all that God is. "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus (Prophet) Christ (Priest) is Lord (King), to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV). The very name of Jesus is a powerful force against evil.
The blood of Jesus. "They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus)" (Revelation 12:11 NIV). The shed blood of Jesus represents what he has done for us. Jesus' death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead defeated Satan once and for all. When you feel Satan establishing a stronghold in your life because of some sin, just remember and reflect on the miraculous provision God has made to forgive your sins and bring you into a love relationship with Himself. This will give you strength to overcome any sin in your life.
The indwelling Holy Spirit. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I (Jesus) have said to you" (John 14:26 NIV). If you are a Christian, God's Spirit will convict you of your sin, interpret and teach you the truths of God's Word, and give you strength to overcome even the most persistent strongholds Satan has on your life.
Finally, Your Testimony. If you know Christ as Savior, you have a powerful testimony that his Spirit can use to restore your joy and to touch the lives of others who need to experience God's love through Christ. God would have us show his presence in our lives by speaking out about his love, living a holy life, and praying in faith as evidence of our new life in Him. Reflecting on your testimony will help give you strength to overcome Satan's strongholds. "So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you" (James 4:7 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 6, 2016

Spiritual Warfare, Part 2

Chuckle: "A mother asked, 'Where did you get that lollipop son?' 'I bought it with the quarter you gave me.' 'The quarter was for Sunday School.' 'I know Mom, but the preacher met me at the door and got me in free.'"
Quote: "Defeat never comes to any man until he admits it." -- Joseph Daniels
"Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion looking for some victim to devour" (I Peter 5:8 NLT).
Are there sins in your life over which you seem to have no control? They just keep popping up and continually influence your behavior. Do you have a problem with anger, lying, using profane or vulgar language, pornography, etc.? If you have a pet sin that you cannot overcome, the devil has established that sin as a stronghold in your life. And he will use it to destroy your joy, influence, and witness for Christ through guilt and shame. These Strongholds are sins in our lives we can't overcome -- they control us. We open the door to Satan when we allow sin to creep into our lives. To win the daily spiritual battles, we must understand Satan's strategy for defeating us as Christians. Paul uses the sin of uncontrolled anger to teach us valuable truths about strongholds.
"And don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry. For anger gives a mighty foothold (stronghold) to the Devil" (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT).
Uncontrolled anger is an example as to how Satan can use a weakness in our character to gain control of us. He will use that character flaw to cause us to become bitter and vindictive which can destroy us from within. If we nurse our anger, we give Satan an opportunity to exploit and divide us. Are you angry with someone right now? In this passage, you are advised not to let the day end before you begin to work on mending your relationship with someone, while seeking God's forgiveness and cleansing. The same truth applies to other weaknesses in our characters which Satan can exploit to destroy our influence for our Lord and the joy of our salvation.
There is an old saying that goes like this: "It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe." Many a person, worried for fear he would not be able to cross a mountain, has had to stop some miles before he crossed the foothills because he had not taken the time to clean out his shoes.
That has been the source of failure in many Christian lives. Eager to avoid the big sins, your life may outwardly be one of extreme piety, but if there are hidden imperfections (sins) -- little pebbles in your shoe -- these will cause failure in your Christian life.
As you are reading this lesson, has God revealed to you a sin in your life that you have been unable to conquer? Has his Spirit spoken to you about a stronghold Satan has established that is causing you to be guilt-ridden, unhappy, and ineffective as an instrument of God's grace to those around you? If so, God wants to help you overcome that stronghold. In our next lessons, we will look at the weapons God has given us to fight against the forces of evil that seek to control us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Spiritual Warfare, Part 1)

Chuckle: A police officer pulled over a pickup truck from out of state. He said to the driver, 'Got any ID?' The driver said, "Bout what?"
Quote: "All the strength and force of a man comes from his faith in things unseen." --J. F. Clarke
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with . . . have divine power to demolish (Satan's) strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NIV).
War is a harsh and unpleasant term and most of us would prefer "peace" over war. But the Scriptures are clear that God and Satan are at war for the hearts and minds of people. It is a spiritual conflict of eternal importance. The wonderful side to all this is that the outcome of the war has already been decided. It was determined when Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again, victorious over sin, death, and the grave. God will be the ultimate victor and Satan will be banished to eternal punishment along with his angels and those who choose to follow him rather than Jesus Christ (See Revelation 20:10, 15).
To win a war we must first identify and get to know our enemy. There is a daily battle going on between good and evil within each of us -- between the new nature God has given us by his Spirit and the old sinful nature. And, here on earth, we are the warriors God uses to wage his daily battle for the hearts of people. Even though Satan has powerful weapons, God does not send us into battle poorly equipped. We are provided with weapons as powerful as God himself and are assured of victory if only we are willing and committed warriors. Satan blinds the unsaved to the truth of Jesus Christ, and he also blinds uncommitted Christians and leads them astray -- away from fellowship with our Lord. He wants to destroy your witness, your influence, and your joy.
"For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
We face Satan's powerful and determined evil army whose goal is to defeat you and your Christian influence -- and, ultimately, the influence of Christ's church. Satan is our enemy, and he will try every deception, enticement, and untruth to lure us away from Christ and back to a life of sin and indifference toward God. Although we are assured of ultimate victory if we know Christ as Savior, we must engage in the never ending struggle until Christ returns. We need supernatural power to defeat Satan daily, and God has provided this by giving us his Holy Spirit within us and his armor surrounding us. If you find yourself feeling discouraged, just reflect on Jesus' words to Peter: "Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it" (Matthew 16:18 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Save Me Lord

Chuckle: "I walked around the block three times this morning . . . then I picked up the block and threw it in the toy chest."
Good Quote: "Faith is the whole man (person) rightly related to God by the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." --Oswald Chambers

"Alright, come" Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted. Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith." Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?" (Matthew 14:29-31 NLT)
I'm sure we all like to think our faith will allow us to stand firm in the face of any challenge placed before us. But, like Peter, sometimes our faith falters. I can think of no greater test of faith than for Jesus to tell Peter to leave the relative safety of the boat in a storm and "come." The easiest response for Peter would have been to say, "that's OK, Lord, I'll just wait for you here in the safety of the boat." But, in an initial show of faith, Peter had asked Jesus to let him come to Him; and when Jesus said "come," he immediately obeyed and found himself in the safest place on earth because of his obedience to Jesus. Can you imagine the faith and courage resident in Peter which would allow him to step out of that boat and begin walking toward Jesus on the water?

When our hearts and minds are attuned to Jesus, we will listen for His call and do whatever is necessary to be obedient to that call. If it had been anyone other than Jesus who said "Come," Peter would have sunk the instant he stepped out of the boat. But the lesson here is that when Jesus says "Come" he gives us all the courage and strength to do whatever He asks us to do. But if we stumble or falter because of our own lack of faith, we can cry out, "save me Lord," and Jesus is always there to lift us up and help us walk in obedience to Him.
Like many of us, Peter's faith wavered and he began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and began contemplating the dangers around him. It's unlikely that Jesus will ask us to walk on water, but He may ask us to walk through difficult times and extreme situations. Our ability to deal with such eventualities is dependent upon our faith. Like Peter, we will begin to sink without adequate faith that our Lord will see us through and cover our weaknesses with His strength. We should focus on Jesus' power instead of our circumstances. Obeying the call of Jesus may lead us into stormy situations, but there is no safer place than walking in obedience with Jesus.
"A little blind girl was perched in the fourth-floor window of a burning building in New York's Harlem district. The firemen were desperate. They couldn't fit the ladder truck between the buildings, and they couldn't get her to jump into a net, which she, of course, couldn't see. Finally her father arrived and shouted through the bull horn that there was a net and that she was to jump on his command. The girl jumped and was so completely relaxed that she did not break a bone or even strain a muscle in the four-story fall. She trusted her father completely, and when she heard his voice she did what he said was best." --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
 Love, Jerry & Dotse