Friday, April 28, 2017

Satan's Strategy for Defeating Us

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, April 27, 2017

Tears for the Harvest

Chuckle: A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. "What's it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."
Quote: “There are times when God asks nothing of his children except silence, patience, and tears.” --C. S. Robinson

“Those who plant with tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest” (Psalm 126:5-6 NLT).
Although these words refer to planting and harvesting of crops, their spiritual implications simply cannot be overstated. Let's assume that the seed to be planted is the gospel message of Jesus Christ and the harvest is those who accept the message and give their hearts and lives to Christ. If tears and weeping describe the intensity of emotion for those planting and reaping grain, how much more should tears play a role in our carrying out the great commission?
Some of us shed tears easily and for most any reason. For others, tears do not come easily. But for you "macho" guys and soft-hearted gals, the shedding of tears should never be seen as a sign of weakness. After all, our Lord wept after His friend Lazarus had died (John 11:35). Paul referred to his shedding of tears because of his concern for the lost -- the enemies of Christ. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18 NIV).
There are many reasons for shedding tears and they are a natural response to deep emotional experiences. Sometimes the burdens of life become so heavy and exhausting that tears flow and we lack the ability to stop them. Regardless of the reason for your tears, you can rest assured that God knows all about them and the reasons for them. Not only does He know about them, I think God's heart is touched by our tears because He understands what we are feeling. And He is fully capable of turning those tears of sadness and pain into tears of joy and hope.
How long has it been since you shed tears over a lost person who has rejected to love of Christ? Are the tears we shed mostly because of issues in our lives or because of the plight of others? If you are concerned for others to the point of shedding tears, you will not have wept in vain. When we pray for others with tears of concern, those tears will often be replaced with tears of joy when we see a person come to Christ -- the reaping of the harvest. Tears shed for the glory of our Lord will be transformed into showers of blessings.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Specks and Planks

Chuckle: “Most of us are umpires at heart; we like to call balls and strikes on somebody else.”
Quote: "When I say 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride. I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide."Unknown source

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3-4 NIV).
Our passage is taken from Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” which includes chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the Gospel according to Matthew. Jesus understands our hypocritical nature when it comes to judging others, and gives some strong and pointed instructions on the subject. Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to detect faults in our brothers and sisters and how difficult it is to see our own?” Jesus uses the metaphor, “speck,” to emphasize that a small flaw in our brother’s character is magnified and looms large in the eyes of a judgmental Christian. The larger sin, called a “plank,” represents our own sins which we tend to minimize in significance or ignore completely.
The traits we find most offensive in others are often the very ones we have ourselves. Criticizing others somehow makes us feel better about our own faults. Somehow, we feel vindicated because we see others as being as bad as we are. But Jesus wants us to deal with our own sins before we lovingly try help someone else with theirs. He puts it this way in verse 5: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” If you feel the need to criticize a brother or sister, first scrutinize your own behavior to see if you are deserving of the same criticism.
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean," she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor hung her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. A month later, she was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her." The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."
In verse 1 (NLT), Jesus tells us to stop judging others and we will not be judged. Other translations say stop judging others or you will be judged. However, this does not mean we should overlook wrong behavior by others, but Jesus wants us to be discerning in love rather than harshly critical. We may need to let God clean our windows. .
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Smell the Flowers

Chuckle: At a bus stop, a man asked a lady which bus he should take to his destination. “Bus number 143,” she answered. When she returned to the stop that evening, the man was still waiting. “Didn’t you get on bus 143?” she asked. Nope, not yet, he replied. “So far, 136 buses have come – only seven more before mine arrives.”
Quote: “I saw three properties; the first is, that God made it. The second is, that God loveth it. The third is, that God keepeth it. But what beheld I within? Verily the maker, the keeper, the Lover.” –Julian of Norwich
 
"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard throughout the land" (Song of Solomon 2:11-12 NIV).
The beauty and pageantry of God’s creation never cease to amaze and baffle our finite minds. From majestic mountains to sparkling streams; from rich farmland to baron deserts; from the sun, moon, and stars to the clouds and azure sky, the awesomeness of God’s creation is all around us. This should be a source of joy and awe as we observe the vastness as well as the intricacies and complexities of God’s amazing handiwork.
Jesus tells us that Solomon, in all his royal regalia could not match the beauty of common flowers which are adorned by God Himself. “Consider how the lilies grow. . . even Solomon in all his splendor was not dressed like one of these” (Luke 12:27 NIV). I wonder how often we stop not only to observe and smell the flowers but to take in all that creation tells us about God.
As we enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the flowers, we can’t fully appreciate them until we stop and spend time reflecting on how they came to be. If we believe the Bible to be the true and inspired Word of God, our observations about the wonders of creation should draw us to the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 1:3: Through him (Jesus) all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
So, when we smell the flowers and otherwise observe God’s creation, we should be led directly to Lord Jesus Christ – the One who died on a cruel wooden cross outside Jerusalem to pay the penalty for our sins, provide us the opportunity to be forgiven, and grant us the gift of eternal life in a place the Bible calls heaven. As we “smell the flowers” with creation in mind, we will be drawn closer to our Lord God, the Creator.
“God has not needed me for his mighty works. He did not need me to create the souls of good men or to bring the spring flowers to life again. God can, as a matter of fact, get on perfectly without us, though his home circle would never be complete unless we were in it.” Rev. H.R.L. --Sheppard Sermon 1929
“Thank you, Father, for the gift of flowers, for the fragrance and beauty you have created in each blossom. . . As I smell the flowers now, I feel nearer to You, O God. Thank you. Amen.” –Robert H. Schuller
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sight for the Blind

Chuckle: "You are marvelously mature when you and your teeth no longer sleep together!"
Quote: “There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.” --Jonathan Swift

Jesus said, "I have come to judge the world. I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind" (John 9:39 NLT).
The implications of Jesus' words in this verse are enormous. He introduced a principle that goes against the conventional wisdom of many people today, as it did when Jesus was here on earth. Jesus was dealing with a group of Pharisees who saw themselves as the ultimate reservoir of all truth, wisdom, and understanding when it came to the mind of God. Jesus gave the blind man physical sight so that he could introduce him, and others, to spiritual sight. We may see with our physical eyes and still be blind when it comes to seeing and understanding spiritual truths.
Jesus wants to teach us that even if we can see physically, we may still be blind when compared to the spiritual sight God wants to give us. Humanity is divided into two classes -- the spiritually blind (lost) and spiritually seeing (saved). Jesus gave the blind man his physical sight almost immediately, but it took time for His spiritual eyes to open. As this newly healed man learned about Jesus, his spiritual eyes began to see as he recognized Jesus first as a prophet (vs.17), then later as his Lord (vs. 38).
Even after we accept Christ as Savior, our spiritual sight does not come all at once -- our spiritual eyes continue to open gradually as we spend time with Jesus in prayer, meditation, and study of God's Word. The longer we walk with Him, the better we know Him and the keener our spiritual sight becomes. Sadly, many who think they have great knowledge, wisdom, and insight are as blind as bats when it comes to the sight that really matters. This was the case with the Pharisees. The Blind man represented "those who do not see" that are enabled to "see," whereas the Pharisees represented "those who see" that become blind.
As we allow God to open our spiritual eyes to see Him in all His glory, He will give us peace, contentment, and excitement as He continues to reveal His power, love, grace, and mercy. He will teach us the meaning of true wisdom from His perspective. In this life, we may find ourselves physically blind or seeing, but when we recognize our spiritual blindness, we are ready to let God give us the ability to see the world through His eyes. From the old hymn, "Amazing Grace:" ". . . I once was lost and now I'm found; was blind but now I see." Praise!!!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Salvation and Glorification

No Devotional on Friday, April 20th.  Will resume Monday, April 24th.
Chuckle: A man wrote a letter to the IRS: “I have been unable to sleep knowing that I have cheated on my income tax. I understand my taxable income and have enclosed a check for two hundred dollars. If I still can’t sleep, I will send the rest.”
Quote: "Our salvation is something to sing and shout about. It is available to every person who will accept in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ." -- New International Version Study Bible, page 1685.

"And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in his glory" (Colossians 3:4 NLT).
Previously, we have seen the gift of eternal salvation entails several wonderful aspects that we need to understand. Our salvation experience includes our spiritual new birth (REGENERATION); our being set apart holy unto God for His service (SANCTIFICATION); and God's forgiveness, acquittal of our sins and being declared righteous in His sight (JUSTIFICATION). Today, let's think about the exciting culmination of our salvation experience when we reign with Christ in the final and eternal state of the redeemed in heaven; GLORIFICATION.
Let's start this study with some words concerning Jesus and our relationship to God through Him. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed (had faith) in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children . . . born of God" (John 1:12-13 NIV. Please take special note of the phrase, "children of God." We are told elsewhere in Scripture that because we are children of God we are heirs and joint heirs with Christ to the kingdom of God.
"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory" (Romans 8:16-17 NIV). If our salvation is genuine, our lives should reflect continuing faithfulness to Him, including a willingness to suffer if need be. When Christ comes again in all His glory, the ultimate fulfillment of our salvation will take place as we reign with Him in our heavenly home now being prepared for us. "I (Jesus) am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am" (John 14:2-3 NIV).
Here's how our final glorification will unfold when Christ returns. "But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, . . . the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed (glorified) bodies. And we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NLT).
"First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words" (1 Thess. 4:16-18 NLT). PRAISE!!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Salvation and Justification

Chuckle: TEACHER: "Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?" HAROLD: "A teacher."
Quote: "Justification is the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge, the pronouncement of the sinner as righteousness, who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ." --Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words

"He (Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification" (Romans 4:25 NIV).
Our salvation/redemption from the penalty and power of sin must be seen as the greatest miracle God has ever performed. We have seen previously that our salvation encompasses a new spiritual birth (REGENERATION), being set apart for service holy unto God (SANCTIFICATION), and today we look at another aspect of salvation, JUSTIFICATION. The word "justification" denotes the act of acquittal or absolution from guilt. One of the amazing benefits of salvation is that the justified (not guilty) live in peace with God. By God's forgiveness, they are delivered from the condemnation of sin and given eternal life.
In a court of law, a judge or jury will find the defendant "not guilty" if the evidence presented is inadequate for a conviction. With this ruling, the defendant's record is wiped clean and he is free from any future penalty connected to the alleged offenses. Similarly, God, the Righteous Judge, has declared us not guilty of our sins, freed us from the penalty thereof and declared us righteous because we now have the righteousness of Jesus who has already paid the penalty for those sins. I have heard justification described as, "it's just as if I had never sinned."
I'm reminded of a soldier who went AWOL during World War II. After the war, he appeared before a prosecutor to find out where he would be serving out the rest of his long sentence. Instead he was told that President Truman had given him a full pardon. The prosecutor said, "that means your record is completely clear. Just as if you had never committed the offense."
When we have received forgiveness by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice, our sins are remembered against us no more. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Hebrews 8:12 NIV). "He (God) has removed our rebellious acts (sins) as far away as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12 NLT).
God justifies the believing sinner on the basis of Christ's death and grants us His free gift of life. To allow His one and only Son to die in our stead and be raised again on the third day was the terrible price He paid for our justification. When we repent, believe in Christ and are justified, we enter into a right relationship with God for all eternity. Praise His Holy Name.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Salvation and Sanctification

Chuckle: "The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes, armadillos, and sand gnats come close!"
Quote: "I felt my heart strangely warmed. I feel I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the bore of sin and death." --John Wesley

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NIV).
Salvation encompasses the entire range of God's redeeming activity for mankind, and includes regeneration, sanctification, justification and glorification.
Last time, we looked at the first step in the salvation process -- regeneration. As you recall, regeneration means to experience the new spiritual birth, to be saved, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, regeneration suggests that all things are made new. When we accept Christ as Savior, by God's grace, through faith, we become a new creation of God -- the old life is gone and we are made new from the inside out (2 Cor. 5:17).
Some seem to believe that making a public profession of one's faith in Jesus Christ is the end of the salvation experience. However, In the New Testament, salvation is referred to as past, present and future -- "I have been saved; I am being saved; and I will be saved" (2 Corinthians 1:10). It's true that we are instantly saved when we sincerely repent of our sins, ask God's forgiveness, commit our lives to Christ by faith and claim Him as Savior. However, this sincere acceptance of God's free gift of salvation is only the beginning of what God has in store for us as new believers. Today, let's think together about another aspect of our salvation experience - SANCTIFICATION.
To be sanctified is to be set apart for a purpose, holy unto God. Every believer is to be apart from the sinful influences of this world and wholly dedicated to serving God -- to set a new course for one's life befitting the redeemed. It is that relationship with God which we enter by faith in Christ. The sanctified should exhibit behavior totally different from that of the unregenerate people of this world. This is God's will for each of us who claim the name of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Agent of sanctification and it is through Him that every believer is so designated as holy ones or saints.
You may have seen the button with the letters “PBPGINTWMY’” on it. It is designed, of course to evoke the question, “What do all those letters mean?” The answer is, “Please Be Patient, God Is Not Through With Me Yet.” It is true that we Christians are “under construction.” We are in the process of becoming sanctified – holy and set apart for Christ.
Sanctification is a journey and a process, not a status we work for. it begins with the new birth (regeneration), and is the state into which God, in all His grace, calls sinful people as they begin to grow in their journey of discipleship with Christ. For us to please God our behavior should reflect a close and growing relationship with our Lord. Our gratitude for what God has done for us as through His love, grace, and mercy can only be shown by our holy living. To be fully sanctified, as a regenerated believer, is to be conformed to the image of Christ – to become Christ-like.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 17, 2017

Miracle of Salvation: Regeneration

Chuckle: Child's comment on the Bible: "The epistles were the wives of the apostles."
Quote: "This minute, too, is part of eternity." --George Papashvily

"For It is by grace you have been saved, through faith (in Jesus Christ) -- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
For the next few lessons, we will be thinking about the miracle of salvation and all it entails. In its broadest definition, salvation includes regeneration, sanctification, justification, and glorification. We will define each of these terms and just let the abundance of God's love and sacrifice flow over our hearts, hopefully in a new, exciting and fresh way.
First, it is necessary for us to understand that salvation involves the redemption of the whole person, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Savior and place their faith in His atoning blood sacrifice on the cross. This is a statement that most of us, as Christians, will readily accept and agree with. However, let's dig a little deeper into the miracle of salvation by starting with "REGENERATION."
The Greek word translated as "regeneration" has various shades of meaning including a "new birth." If you will recall, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be "born again" to see (enter) the kingdom of God (John 3:3), referring to a new spiritual birth as opposed to physical birth, and spiritual life as opposed to spiritual death. In its fullest meaning, regeneration also describes a new state of things in contrast with the old -- the old becomes new. Paul makes this contrast quite plain when he said, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). "For we are God's workmanship, created (anew) in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
To qualify as a son (child) of God, each of us must experience regeneration (the new birth). Sadly, many lost/unregenerate people consider themselves to be God's children because God made them. But being a product of God's creative handiwork does not automatically qualify a person for a saving relationship with God and the gift of eternal life in God's presence. Our initial passage makes it clear how we are saved (Eph. 2:8-9).
"A cabinetmaker constructs a cabinet. But this does not make the cabinet a 'child' of the cabinetmaker. A birth process would be necessary for this. The unregenerate man who claims sonship with God 'because he made me' is basing his claim merely on the fact that he is a product of God's handiwork. Like the cabinet, he lacks the new birth (regeneration) necessary for a sonship (saving) relationship." --Illustrations For Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green.
It is my prayer that every person reading this has experienced salvation/regeneration by praying to receive Jesus Christ, by repentance and faith, as your Lord and Savior. If so, you have the assurance of heaven as your eternal home.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, April 14, 2017

Victorious Resurrection

"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay'" (Matthew 28:5-6 NIV).
Every Christian understands that the resurrection of God's one and only Son, is the cornerstone of his or her faith. Without the bodily resurrection of Christ, He would have been just one more good man executed by the Roman authorities. Jesus' victory over sin was completed on the cross; however, his victory over death came when he arose from a borrowed tomb that first Easter morning. Often, we hear claims that he didn't really die, or that his body was replaced with another, or that it was all a hoax or religious hallucination. To believe any of these "explanations" requires a lot of imagination in light of historical evidence to the contrary. Do you think Jesus' twelve disciples would have followed a hoax to the point of giving their lives as martyrs for their faith? I don't think so!
On this Good Friday, we are reminded that the Roman Empire was known then, and throughout history, for perfecting the art of conducting the most agonizing executions. The soldiers knew how to carry out their duty and God used their reputation for success to remove all doubt about Jesus' death. To help insure their own well-being, the soldiers made sure Jesus was dead by thrusting a spear into his side, piercing His heart. If he had not already been dead, the soldiers would also have broken his legs to hasten death.
In addition to its extreme agony and slowness of death, Crucifixion was especially humiliating as its victim hung helplessly on the cross for public viewing. As Jesus allowed Himself to come to earth as a helpless human baby, he voluntarily remained alive through the humiliation, scourging, beatings, bleeding and painful nailing to a cross. But remember; no man could have taken His life without His willingness to lay it down. Jesus allowed himself to be crucified so that his mission could be completed -- to fulfill prophecy and to purchase our redemption.
"Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!" (Isaiah 53:4-5 NLT).
If Jesus had remained dead in that tomb, He would have failed as our Savior. Death would have conquered Him and remained our enemy. There is no doubt in the heart of a Christian that Jesus lives and is 100% victorious! Because Jesus rose from the grave and conquered sin and death, we now have died to our old sinful life and have been given new life in Christ. As Christians, we should be different people since we met Christ. The truth that sets us free is reflected through a changed life.
Have a wonderful Easter weekend as you celebrate our Lord's miraculous and Victorious Resurrection! Hallelujah, HE'S ALIVE!
Love, Jerry & Dotse                                                                

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Our Risen Lord; Our Companion

Chuckle: "Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it!"
Good Quote: "The supreme question is not whether or not God is, but whether or not He is first in our lives." --William Arthur Ward

Jesus said, "No, I will not abandon you as orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18 NLT). ". . . he (my Spirit) lives with you now and later will be in you" (John 14:17 NLT).
Here, Jesus makes both a prediction and a promise. He promises never to leave us as believers; and he predicts the coming of the Holy Spirit to live in us as our indwelling companion. When Jesus said, "I will come to you," He meant it. Although Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in each of us as believers, and to have the Holy Spirit is to have Jesus himself because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one triune God.
Our living Lord is our companion for the road of life. What he did for us in the past is remarkable, and amazing; but He is more than an inspirational memory. He gave his disciples many indisputable proofs that He has conquered death. But in Acts 1, He repeatedly encouraged them to wait for a precious gift from the Father, the Holy Spirit, that He had predicted and promised in John 14:17.
The Gospel of John has been called the "Gospel of the Spirit" because of John's message concerning the Holy Spirit. Because of His Holy Spirit, we can experience Jesus' living presence each day of our lives. From John's Gospel, here are several things the Holy Spirit does for us: He lives within us (14:17); He teaches us (14:26); He reminds us of Jesus' words (14:26, 15:26); He convicts us of sin, shows us God's righteousness, and announces God's judgment on evil (16:8); He guides us into truth and gives insight into future events (16:13); He brings glory to Christ (16:14). For those who hear Christ's words and understand the Spirit's power, the Spirit gives them the ability to see life in a whole new way.
The Holy Spirit within us makes it possible for us to hear Jesus say, "Follow Me." With the disciples on the mountaintop, we can hear Jesus giving a divine mandate. He commanded them to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you." Then, the clincher: "And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20 NLT). This promise rings down through the ages in the ears of believers who give themselves in obedience to His command. He is your companion for life.
Jesus Christ is alive! Hallelujah, He's alive! Yes, Jesus Christ is gloriously alive. He is standing at your heart's door eager to bring God's presence and blessings into your life. If you have never trusted him as Savior, what better time than Easter, 2017, to let him come into your life as Savior -- then become the Lord of your life? And if you already know him as Savior, what better time to make him the Lord of your life and allow him to use you to touch the lives of others?
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jesus Confirmed as God's Son

Chuckle: Two Bookies came to church -- as they left the Preacher heard one of them say to the other -- "Stupid, it's Hallelujah, not Hialeah!"
Quote: "Each time we take a step toward God we discover that He has already taken two steps toward us." --William Arthur Ward

"This Good News was promised long ago by God through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. It is the Good News about his Son, Jesus, who came as a man, born into King David's royal family line. And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 1:2-4 NLT).
Prior to their witnessing Jesus' resurrection, the disciples believed Jesus was the Son of God. After His resurrection, their belief was confirmed -- to the extent that they put their lives on the line to tell others of His saving grace and His divine love. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river, by John the Baptist, the voice of God declared, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17 NIV). The power that raised Him from the dead authenticated every claim that Jesus is the Son of God.
Without reservation, Paul states that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and the resurrected Lord. He calls Jesus a descendant of King David to emphasize that Jesus truly had fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures that predicted the coming of the Messiah. Not only does Scripture declare Jesus to be the Son of God, it declares Him to be God. Perhaps the clearest statement on this subject comes from the apostle John: "In the beginning the Word (Jesus) already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make" (John 1:1-3 NLT).
His resurrection served to confirm Biblical accounts of who Jesus is -- God himself revealed through His Son in human form. Only by the empty tomb was an apparent defeat and public disgrace changed to reveal that Jesus' death, as God's one and only Son, was the ultimate demonstration of God's power and His love. It's not the kind of love we deserve or can earn -- it is God's free gift to all who will accept it. All people around the world need to hear this good news!
Many people are like Juanito Piring. He is a former hoodlum, from the slums of Manila, who wanted to make up for his sins and had himself nailed to a cross each Good Friday for twelve straight years. He was trying to earn something which is totally free. It took the blood of Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection to assure us that God's gift of the abundant and eternal life is available to us all through faith in our Risen Lord. If it had been possible for us to earn God's favor in our own strength, the death of God's one and only Son would have been totally unnecessary.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our Risen Lord; Our Intercessor

Chuckle: "I once got a post card in the mail and written in big letters across the front of the card was the word 'Personal.' Is that optimism or what?"
Quote: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

"My dear children (Christians), I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense -- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John. 2:1-2 NIV).
Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection enabled Him to be our intercessor before His Father, the Righteous Judge. "For Christ has entered into heaven itself to appear before God as our Advocate (intercessor)" (Hebrews 9:24 NLT). Here Christ is described as a mediator who acts on our behalf. Further, the Bible says that Christ has offered Himself and continues to offer his sacrificial death as an atonement for the sins of those who accept Him.
"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for us" (Hebrews 7:25 NIV). It is by his victorious resurrection that His ministry of intercession is possible. He is able to save us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, the practice of sin, and eventually even the very presence of sin, because he lives and intercedes for us before the Father.
Many people are plagued with guilt and shame because of their past sins and feel they have committed sins too terrible to be forgiven and deserve to be condemned. To them, John offers powerful words of assurance. When you feel this way, don't give up hope -- the best defense attorney in the universe is pleading your case before the Father. He is your advocate, your defender, and intercessor, and because of his death, burial, and miraculous resurrection, he has already won the case.
Jesus can stand before God as our mediator because his death satisfied once and for all the wrath of God against sin. In him we are forgiven and purified no matter the seriousness of our sin. There is no sin beyond the power of His forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9 NIV). There is no sin for which Jesus did not pay the penalty, and His forgiveness covers them all. Let every believer give him PRAISE!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 10, 2017

He's Not Here; He Has Risen!

Chuckle: "To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target."
Good Quote: "Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." --St. Augustine

"The crowds that went ahead of him (into Jerusalem) and those that followed shouted, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Bless is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!' When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, 'Who is this?' The crowds answered, 'This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee'" (Matthew 21:9-11 NIV).
Yesterday, Palm Sunday, we marked the anniversary of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of the final five days prior to His crucifixion. He had his last Passover supper with the disciples on Thursday evening prior to being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, arrested and tortured, given a mock trial, and finally crucified on Friday, which we call "Good Friday." Then He victoriously arose from the dead on that first Easter morning. Christianity is the faith with a resurrected and living founder, Jesus Christ. No other religion can make this claim.
Christianity is not just good a set of rules or a philosophy for living; it is the wonderful news from a Jerusalem tomb for sinners everywhere. Christ's resurrection not only makes eternal salvation possible, but certain and irrevocable. ". . . He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:25 NIV). These inspired words affirm both the ability and determination of the living Christ to fully save those who come to the Father through him. This is based on His complete victory over sin, death, and the grave. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
Dr. R. G. Lee (former pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis) preached a message entitled, "The World's Blackest Assumption," -- That Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul points out that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, we are all lost without hope, are living a lie, and are among all people most miserable. Thank God that this black assumption is totally false and the empty tomb declared this reality to His disciples, the Jewish religious leaders, and the Roman authorities. His disciples became passionate evangelists of the good news that the penalty for sin had been paid, death had been conquered, and Jesus Christ is alive.
Jesus appeared to his disciples at least ten different times following His resurrection. The truth of His resurrection gives a message of hope to a world facing despair. Like the blaring notes of a thousand trumpets, the apostles went out proclaiming that Jesus Christ is alive. HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! Hallelujah, HE'S ALIVE! There are several truths about His miraculous resurrection which we will consider during this "Passion Week."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Holy Spirit and You

Chuckle: Jimmy: “Teacher, would you be mad at me for something I didn’t do?” Teacher: “No, of course not.” Jimmy: “Good. I didn’t do my homework.”
Quote: “No generation can claim to have plumbed to the depths of the unfathomable riches of Christ. The Holy Spirit has promised to lead us step by step into the fullness of truth.” --Cardinal Suenens

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9 NIV).
While teaching His disciples, Jesus promised that when He had ascended to His Father, the Holy Spirit would come to be His presence in the hearts lives of His followers. That includes you and me. He is in us to encourage us, comfort us, teach us, convict us of sin, and be our constant companion. The significance of this passage cannot be over stated. There are several divine truths in this verse, and related Scriptures, that should govern the way we live in relationship with the Holy spirit of God.
1. You cannot be a Christian without God’s Spirit residing in you. When we repent of our sins and pray to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we receive the gift the Holy Spirit who “lives with you and will be in you (John 14:17 NIV).
2. The Holy Spirit becomes our Companion, Counselor, and Teacher. Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26 NIV).
3. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV). To be “filled” means we have turned complete control of our lives over to the Holy Spirit.
4. The Holy Spirit not only resides in us but marks us with an eternal seal as belonging to Christ. “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13b-14 NIV).
5. We sin when we try to add credibility to our sinful thoughts and actions by claiming the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I heard about a man who informed his pastor that the Holy Spirit was leading him to divorce his wife and marry another woman. What’s wrong with this picture? The Holy Spirit will never lead us to do something contrary to God’s Word.
Countless books have been written about the Holy Spirit in an attempt to describe the unfathomable depths of His impact on individual Christians and the world. This brief outline of the Holy Spirit and You only reminds us of God’s amazing grace and perfect plan for His Holy Spirit in your life and mine to help us accomplish His purpose. The Holy Spirit is not with us to do our bidding, but to empower us to be obedient to God’s Word and will.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Confidence in Christ

Chuckle: Teacher: “The law of gravity explains why we stay on the ground.” Chloe: “How did we stay on the ground before the law was passed?”
Quote: “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” --Michael O'Brien

"And because of my imprisonment, many Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ" (Philippians 1:14 NLT).
The American painter, John Sargent, once painted a panel of roses that was highly praised by critics. It was a small picture, but it approached perfection. Although offered a high price for it on many occasions, Sargent refused to sell it. He considered it his best work and was very proud of it. Whenever he was deeply discouraged and doubtful of his abilities as an artist, he would look at it and remind himself, “I painted that.” Then his confidence and ability would come back to him. (Bits and Pieces, September 19, 1991, p. 9)
The dictionary defines confidence this way: "Strong belief or trust in someone or something; a belief in oneself -- self-confidence." Normally we would say that when a person loses self-confidence he or she will likely not do well in accomplishing a task or reaching a goal. But for the Christian the critical thing is not self-confidence but Christ-confidence. Do you need something today to restore your confidence as a Christian? I don't know a single believer who hasn't drawn inspiration from the experiences and writings of the apostle Paul.
The setting for our passage is Paul's imprisonment in Rome. Even in prison, Paul's attitude inspired others to have renewed confidence in their Savior and boldness in telling others about him. How you handle adversities in your life can serve to encourage, inspire, and motivate others to be faithful in their Christian service. As we gain confidence, we are much more excited about striving to reach a goal or to accomplish a task. Perhaps you can think of someone like Paul who is enduring extreme hardship but their attitude is one of joy, confidence, and determination. If so, your own confidence is likely to have been increased by their example.
Like Paul, we as Christians can have joy in the present and confidence in the future whether we live or die. He was so confident in his salvation and his ultimate prize of eternity with Christ that he said; "I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be better for me, but it is better for you that I live" (Philippians 1:23-24 NLT). Wow! What a beautiful attitude of unselfishness, self-sacrifice, and confidence in his Lord was revealed by Paul.
We all need a purpose for living that goes well beyond just our own physical comfort and needs. Do you know someone who needs your encouragement and support? Do you have a well-defined purpose for you life? Are you allowing your Lord to give you the confidence and strength to fulfill that purpose? If you lack confidence, your are trusting in your own strength, wisdom, and abilities. Confidence comes from trusting Christ to give us His strength, His wisdom, and His abilities - by the power of His Spirit.
Love, Jerry & Dotse