Monday, July 31, 2017

True Repentance

Chuckle: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, for they are sticking to their diets!!"
Good Quote: "In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma, but never let him be the period." --Author Unknown
 
"He (God) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9b NIV).
Today, let's focus on God's desire that no one should perish but that everyone come to repentance. Repentance is where the "rubber meets the road" when it comes to our saving relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. The word 'repent' is used in the Bible to describe the beginning of genuine spiritual change. It means "a change of heart and mind" -- a change of direction for your life. It includes putting your sins behind you and making a commitment never to let them be resurrected again. Repentance occurs in the deepest recesses of our minds and consciences. Paul wrote, "but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). There are two kinds of repentance:
First, is the repentance of remorse. Judas' repentance was of this type and he committed suicide. This type of repentance makes us feel sorry for ourselves and sorry we got caught. Such sorrow does not always lead to a genuine change of heart. Jesus spoke in Matthew 23:27, 28, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."
Second, is true repentance. In contrast with just being sorry for our sins, true repentance takes place deep in our hearts and results in a visible difference in our actions. We begin to see ourselves from God's perspective, and this insight spurs us on toward a permanent change of heart and mind. The Bible is clear that only through repentance can we be transformed and enjoy the assurance of our eternal home in God's presence. The entire gospel (good news) message assures us that no one has sinned so much that they are beyond being rescued by the blood of Christ, but our repentance must be sincere.
"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (to repentance)" (Matthew 9:13).

Repentance means we recognize our sin, are deeply sorry for it, and have a complete change of attitude towards God about it. It is a 180 degree turn away from sin and toward God. When we place our faith in Christ and yield ourselves to Him, He produces real change in our lives, not just facade. God's desires that you turn away from your sin and all self-righteous efforts to be "good" and begin to enjoy His gifts love, mercy, grace, and freedom which He gives to all who believe!
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord"
(Acts 3:19).

You can't lay hold of Christ while still persisting in your sin. Unless you pry your heart from the passing pleasures of sinful worldly life, you'll never see God. Adam sinned and the whole human race fell under God's condemnation. Sin now rules every unrepentant heart, and if it had its way, it would destroy and damn every soul.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, July 28, 2017

Promised Provision

Chuckle: What did Paul Revere say at the end of his famous ride? "Whoa!"
Quote for Today: "A rejected opportunity to give is a lost opportunity to receive." --Unknown source

The apostle Paul said, "I am fully supplied, having received what you provided. . . And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus"  (Philippians 4:18-19 HCSB).
Paul had experienced first hand the love and generosity of the Christians at Philippi. He had learned that God will care for His faithful servants and meet their every need, often through the generosity of fellow believers. Paul wanted to assure the Philippians Christians that because of their generous gifts to him God would, in turn, meet their needs. They could claim with confidence the promise that God would reward them by blessing them and their efforts to spread the gospel message.
In Scripture, God's blessings are often reciprocal in nature. Here are some examples from the lips of Jesus: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12). "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these (material) things will be given to you" (Matthew 6:33). "Give and it will be given to you . . . For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38).
From our passage, Paul was saying to the Philippians, and to us, that our generosity toward others is the key that unlocks God's storehouse of physical and spiritual blessings which He wants to provide to us. It doesn't make much sense for us to expect God to meet our needs when we make no effort to meet the needs of others. With love, rejoicing and thanksgiving you should share what you have with others, and you will receive God's promised provision.
"Since you excel in so many ways -- you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us -- now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving" 2 Cor. 8:7 NLT). If we believe God's Word, we will not doubt that God will be faithful in His promise to meet our needs. However, He expects generosity from us.
One other truth: We cannot claim God's promise fully unless we first accept the difference between our needs and our wants. We can't expect God to operate a general store dealing only in "wants" from which we go shopping for whatever pleases us and fulfills our selfish desires. Our attitudes and appetites will be shaped by our love for and trust in Christ. We will no longer want everything, but will desire to live for Him and accept His promised provision with thanksgiving.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dealing With Problems

Chuckle: A wife begs the psychiatrist to help her husband. "He thinks he's a racehorse, lives in a stable, walks on all fours, and eats hay!" "I'm sure I can help him, but it will be expensive." "Money is no object -- he's already won two races."
Great Quote: "Troubles are tools by which God fashions us for better things." --Henry Ward Beecher

"Consider it pure joy (rejoice), my brethren, whenever you face trials (problems) of many kinds. . . ." (James 1:1a NIV).
Rejoice during trials!!!! This must be a misprint! Right? Has the writer, James, gone completely bonkers? How can a person rejoice while experiencing trials and problems? No, he's not bonkers because he's not talking about frolicking in joyous abandonment -- not a jump up and down kind of joy. He's talking about the kind of joy described in Nehemiah 8:10 NIV: "The joy of the Lord is my strength."
James is talking about that inner peace that comes from our faith/trust, regardless of circumstances. This sense of well being comes when you have inside information that trials produce endurance and endurance produces maturity. This joy is described by the Psalmist: "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth." (Psalm 34:1 NIV). Job put it this way: "The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21b NIV). Only God can give us that kind of joy.
Pray during trials. "If any man lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5 NIV). When we face problems, we should pray something like this: "Lord, I don't want to miss what you are trying to teach me in this time of difficulty. Please give me wisdom to understand what you want me to learn during this crisis within my family, during this illness, or during this time of disappointment. . . ."
Trust God during difficulties. We rejoice! We pray! We trust! Faith is cooperating with God. Many fight him, or run from him during crises. James 1:12 gives us insight: "Blessed is the man (person) who endures (perseveres) under trial, because he has stood the test. He will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." We are tested here, but our final reward will be received in heaven. Remember: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28 NIV).
"Trials are not to our detriment but add to our growth. For example, consider the kite flyer. He must take in hand the string of his kite and run until the kite lifts up into the heavens. But he will not reach his goal of flying a kite if there is not wind. Every kite flyer knows that wind is necessary for flying kites. But note that kites do not rise with the wind but rise against it. So it is with trials. The Christian will not ascend to patience and maturity unless he ascends against trials. Do trials make you soar above, or just plain sore?" --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; March 1991; Edited By Michael P. Green
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Problems Have Purpose

Chuckle: “More than ever before, Americans are suffering from back problems -- back taxes, back rent, back auto payments.” --Robert Orben
Good Quote: “Quit thinking that tomorrow your problems will go away and life will begin in earnest. The Lord is waiting to help you cope today if you will lay your human-size needs at his divine feet.” --Paul H. Dunn

" . . . . because you know that the testing of your faith develops (produces) perseverance (endurance)" (James 1:3 NIV).
Someone has said that Christians are like tea-bags -- you can't really tell what's inside until you drop them into hot water! Problems in a Christian's life are like a test -- like purifying metals in the fire. How we handle problems is an indicator of how real/genuine our faith is. Job said in 23:10 NIV: "When he has tested me, I will come forth as purified gold." Trials will help us to mature in several ways.
Trials solidify our faith. It's during these difficulties that our faith is purified and we become solid Christians. When everything is going well, it's easy to praise God and be thankful. However, difficult times reveal who we really are. A faith that is never tested is suspect, but a faith that has endured the testing of trials becomes beautiful and inspirational to others needing encouragement in their faith.
Trials teach us patience. "Testing produces endurance or perseverance." Trials teach us to hang in there without wavering. Endurance literally means to keep on staying even under extreme pressure. Just keep on trusting God even when there is no obvious answer. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15 NIV).
Trials build character. God set us apart as his special possession when we placed our faith in Jesus Christ, and he desires that our character reflects a unique dependence on him. "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4 NIV). When you pass the test by enduring, you become a more mature Christian. Remember, God's purpose is to make us like Jesus. In His life on earth, Jesus became fatigued, hurt, rejected, and endured extreme pain and heartache. As we learn to be like Jesus during trials, we will always trust God and stay true to Him. God wants to make us like Jesus by:
1. His Word. How often do you spend time prayerfully reading and studying God's Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit, looking for answers in your times of trials and difficult problems?
2. Circumstances. You may say, "God, I'm doing my best to live for you, follow you, and make you Lord of my life. Why am I going through this trial?" God may be taking you through a crash course in growing up, spiritually. He may be teaching you to trust Him completely even in the most difficult of times.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Problems Are Inevitable

Chuckle: After an examination, his doctor took the man into his room and said, "I have good news and bad news." The man said, "Give me the good news first." "They're going to name a disease after you," the doctor replied.
Quote: “You want to 'see' people without problems? Go to the cemetery.”
PROBLEMS ARE INEVITABLE
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever (not if, but when) you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature" (James 1:2-4 NIV).
Notice that it's not "if," but "when" we face trials and troubles. James assumes we will have troubles and that it is possible for us to profit from them. However, usually, when something goes wrong in our lives, we tend to ask questions like, "How could this happen to me?" Or, "Why has this happened to me?" Or, "What did I do to deserve this?" Or, "How could a loving God let this happen to me?" I'm sure you have asked these or similar questions when unexpected difficulties came into your life. I suspect we all have. . . .
Problems are a normal part of life. We must accept the fact that Christians are not immune from problems. God would have us understand that and they come in many forms. They can be related to physical illness; a financial crisis; a rebellious child; a disappointment by a trusted friend; or a hurtful remark which degrades you, your values, or your faith. There's no limit to the variety of difficult situations which can arise.
As Christians, we should not be surprised when problems arise! God warns us of trials, difficulties, problems, and challenges as we go through life in this imperfect world. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you" (I Peter 4:12 NIV).
Problems also come suddenly and unexpectedly. A doctor informs you that you have cancer, or your boss surprises you with a pink slip. You're never ready for such encounters. God wants to prepare us for unexpected and varied problems, even the small ones. He does not want us to be surprised, but He does want us to look to him for wisdom and strength in the handling of such setbacks in life. God loves you and fully understands how much your faith can endure.
Someone has said, "The trials of our faith are like God's ironing. When the heat of trials/troubles are applied to our lives the wrinkles of spiritual immaturity begin to be smoothed out." When problems arise in your life, don't be discouraged. Instead, turn to the One who specializes in problem-solving -- your loving Heavenly Father.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, July 24, 2017

Profiting From Problems

Chuckle: “A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.” --Ogden Nash
Good Quote: If you're not having problems, you're missing opportunities for growth.” --Unknown source 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials (problems) of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature" (James 1:2-4 NIV).
No one enjoys going to the dentist, but we all enjoy the long-term benefits of having our teeth made more attractive and healthy. Likewise, none of us enjoys the pain and anguish associated with severe trials or problems that come into our lives. But all who endure them with patience and understanding enjoy the ultimate outcomes of perseverance, proven character, and hope. James begins his writing by identifying life's greatest teachers: problems, trials, adversities, or difficulties. There are two key words in the above passage that we need to fully understand:
1. "Consider," means to think ahead. James is telling us to spend some time planning for what we will do when trials come. A wise person makes preparations for dealing with difficulties in life, and that preparation is done God's way. When a wise person pitches a tent, he thinks ahead to the possible storm -- chooses high ground, drives the stakes deep, trenches around his tent, etc.
2. "Know," means to have certain information, facts, or truths from God's Word as you think ahead that will help you deal with what's coming. It means searching for truth according to God that will stand the test of time and serve us well as we deal with trials and troubles. Here are three truths about problems:
a. Problems are certain. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you" (I Peter 4:12 NIV).
b. Problems have purposes. ". . . . because you know that the testing of your faith develops (produces) perseverance (endurance)" (James 1:3 NIV)
c. We must learn to cope with problems. "Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials (problems) of many kinds" (James 1:2 NIV).
Jesus himself had some very important things to say about problems. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 NIV). He never promised to remove all problems from the Christian's life, but he does promise to be with us and give us the strength and wisdom to endure and grow us through them. My prayer for each of you is that you will experience this peace that our Lord promised, even during the most difficult of times.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, July 21, 2017

You Are Wonderfully Made

Chuckle: “How’d you make out in that fight with your wife?”  “She came crawling to me on her hands and knees.”  “Yeah? what did she say?”  “Come out from under the bed, you coward!”  --R & R Magazine
Quote: "God creates out of the absolute superabundance of his mercy and love." --George Florovsky

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory . . . for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" (Revelation 4:11 NIV).
Are there times when you feel people, even those closest to you, just don't understand you? They don't have a clue about who you are and what talents and abilities you possess. To fully understand a person, one would have to become that person and live as they live. When we think about how difficult it is really know someone and fully appreciate their unique abilities and personality, it should remind us once again of the amazing attributes of God. He knows you intimately because He created you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
You are you a unique creation of God. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalms 139:13-14 NIV). There is no other exactly like you. As your Creator, He made you to suit Himself and knows everything about you.
You are God's treasured possession. "You are a chosen people, . . . a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9 NIV). You are uniquely valuable and beautiful in His eyes. When God created you, He made no mistakes. You are just as He wanted you to be, and everything about you is lovely and precious to Him
You are a member of God's own family/household. "Consequently, you are . . . fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household" (Ephesians 2:19 NIV). Because of God's amazing love, grace, and mercy you have become a precious member of God's family -- if you have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord..
You are gifted by God with great potential for service. "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us" (Romans 12:6 NIV). These gifts and abilities are to be used as instruments of service to bless the lives of others for the glory of God.
The next time you look at yourself in a mirror, please remember that God made you, loves you, and wants you to know how perfectly you were created. Therefore, all of us should praise and honor God because He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. "In order to create there must be a dynamic force, and what force is more potent than love." --Igor Stravinsky
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Life From God's Perspective

Chuckle: “Tell a man there are three hundred billion stars in the universe, and he believes you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it, and he has to touch it to be sure.”
Quote: “Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another.” –Isaac Penington The Art of Living

"Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away" (Psalm 37:1-2 NIV).
No doubt you have wondered why so many ungodly people seem to prosper and get all the breaks. We may want to question God about why do they seem to get ahead while those who strive to live righteously often struggle and never seem to get a break. This observation often causes us to shake our heads with wonder and can cause us to become bitter and envious of them. However, God has some specific instructions for us in our passage for today: "Don't do it" but rather look at life from God's view point.
We should never envy evil people, even though some may be extremely popular or excessively rich. No matter how much they have, it will fade and vanish like grass that withers and dies. Those who follow God live differently from the ungodly and, in the end, will have treasures in heaven. What an unbeliever gets on earth may last a lifetime, but what you get from following God lasts for eternity.
Ungodly gain, although attractive, is only temporary. During the last Olympic season I was reminded of Paul's exhortation, "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV). Don't forsake the way of eternal reward for momentary gain and worldly pleasures. Keep God's perspective on life and keep pressing toward the goal.
"Henry C. Morrison, after serving for forty years on the African mission field, headed home by boat. On that same boat also rode Theodore Roosevelt. Morrison was quite dejected when, on entering New York harbor, President Roosevelt received a great fanfare as he arrived home. Morrison thought he should get some recognition for forty years in the Lord's service. Then a small voice came to Morrison and said, 'Henry--you're not home yet.'"
As a Christian, God may choose to bless you with wealth in this life. If so, be thankful and please remember the words in James 1:17: "Don't be deceived my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, . . ." Either way, let's pray that God will give us strength to resist the lure of the world's temporary pleasures and focus our attention on the things that really matter from God's perspective. Let's never settle for only worldly trinkets when we can have heavenly treasures.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Light Delights Us

Chuckle: An executive was interviewing a nervous young woman for a position in his company. He wanted to find out something about her personality so he asked, "If you could have a conversation with someone living or dead, who would it be?" The young woman quickly responded, "The living one."
Quote: "Worry doesn't help tomorrow's troubles, but it does ruin today's happiness."Unknown source
THE LIGHT OF GOD'S WORD DELIGHTS US:
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105 NIV). Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy (delight) of my heart" (Psalm 119-111 NIV).
The Light gives us abundant joy (vs.. 111). Obviously, a heritage is something handed down to us by our ancestors -- our inheritance. There is no other heritage that even comes close to being as priceless as the heritage of God's Word left to us -- the Bible. The Bible, however, is like some other inheritances people receive -- it yields its treasures only under certain conditions. God's Word is priceless but it will not yield its wealth to us without hard work. When we work at it by diligent study, the Bible never fails to yield its riches. The heart which is inclined to obedience has tapped into the limitless resources of God's Word which brings lasting and complete joy.
The Light causes us to look to the future. "I am determined to keep your principles, even forever, to the very end" (Psalm 119:112 NIV). Those who work, or have worked, with horses know that a tired horse will move faster and pull harder when it is heading for the barn -- when the end of a day's work is in sight. Some people may find living their lives in accordance with God's Word to be uphill, tiring work, but not the psalmist. He was heading home. He had turned his heart in that direction.
If we reflect on all that God has done for us, the feeling within us that we are heading home will continue to grow and give us even greater motivation to work more diligently for our Lord. No doubt the psalmist found that keeping God's precepts gave him momentum, so that when difficult situations came they were already more than half conquered. He never lost sight of the end of the journey. He looked to the future with anticipation and confidence.
"Consider the difference between a strong and a weak cup of tea. The same ingredients -- water and tea -- are used for both. The difference is that the strong cup of tea results from the tea leaves immersion in the water longer, allowing the water more time to get into the tea and the tea into the water. The longer the steeping process, the stronger the cup of tea. In the same way, the length of time we spend in God's Word determines how deeply we get into it and it gets into us. Just like the tea, the longer we are in the Word, the "stronger" we become."  --Unknown Source
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Light Defends Us

Chuckle: The draftee was awakened roughly by his sergeant after the rookie's first night in the army barracks. "It's four-thirty!" roared the sergeant. "Four-thirty!" gasped the recruit. "Man, you'd better get to bed. We've got a big day tomorrow!"
Quote: "The Bible is as necessary to our safe passage through this lifetime as oxygen is to sustain life."Unknown source

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105 NIV). "Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law" (vs. 109). The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts (that defend me)" (vs. 110).
As the psalmist points out, Satan and the world are constantly laying traps to ensnare us. Only a close and constant walk with the Lord and diligence in studying his Word can defend us from the spirit of darkness. Our enemies take many forms but the Light of God's Word is able to defend us from them all. Here are some examples.
1. The Light defends us from our Fears: "Though I constantly take my life in my hands" (vs. 109) is a most unusual expression. It is found in several places in the Old Testament and involves the meaning: I am "putting myself at grave risk," or, "I find myself in great danger." All the dangers to the psalmist were real and he was afraid. I think he had a lump in his throat, his heart was in his mouth, but God's word hushed his fears and gave him a sense of peace and calmness. A man totally absorbed in keeping himself alive is likely to think he has no time, energy, or attention to spare for God's Word. However, as we mature in our faith, we come to realize it is during these most anxious times that God's Word becomes most precious and comforting to us.
2. The Light defends us against Our Enemies: "The wicked have set a snare for me. . . ." (vs. 110). The psalmist was afraid because he was in danger of being snared. Traps were being set for him. A person ringed about by traps is likely to take whatever steps he can conceive to avoid them, even at the cost of straying from the path marked out by God (vs.. 110). But, even in such circumstances, the psalmist did what all people of faith should do. They deliberately choose God's Word, and find that God's instructions give them deep, complete, and continuous joy. No matter what happens, the Word of the Lord must reign supreme in your life and mine if we are to be what God wants us to be and experience His peace and joy.
3. The Light defends us against dark thoughts: In this sinful world, ungodly thoughts are constantly seeking to invade our minds, and we know that evil thoughts precede evil actions. God understands that we need a strong defense against Satan’s inroads into our thinking, and has provided His Word (Light) as our first and last lines of defense. As we remain in God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, our thoughts will become more pure and holy. “For the Word of God (Light) is living and active. . . It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). “Men suffer from thinking more than anything else.”Leo Tolstoy
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, July 17, 2017

Light Directs Our Lives

Chuckle: Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman: "And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" the reporter asked. She replied, "No peer pressure."
Quote: "The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving." --Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirm it, that I will follow your righteous laws" (Psalm 119:105-106 NIV).
God's Word, as the Light for our paths, is valuable to us in many ways. In Psalm 119, the psalmist reveals several life-changing benefits from making God's Word the center of your daily life and letting God direct your life.
1. The Bible stresses obedience. A lamp is for night; however, light shines in the day as well. The psalmist's has made a choice and has taken God’s Word as his guide to point his feet down the path of righteousness. "I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow (obey) your righteous laws" (vs.106). The light that illuminates our path and gives us direction also is the lamp that illuminates our next step. God's Word does not unroll the whole map of life before us at once, but reveals it to us one step at a time as we remain obedient to its instructions. Thus by day and by night the Word exerts its light-giving influence. He that uses it faithfully learns where to set his foot as he walks along treacherous path of this life. He need not stumble or fall.
2. The Bible is our strength in difficult times (vs. 107). "I have suffered much; preserve my life, O Lord according to your Word." The psalmist was suffering from affliction and resulting depression -- a common combination. Where could he go for help? Only one solution came to him; he would go to God's Word - where else? His affliction came from the outside and he was the object of persecution by a number of powerful and influential enemies. However, God's Word lifted his thoughts to the One who was mightier than all his foes. God's Word fortifies our hearts and souls and revives us. It deals with anxiety, guilt, and depression; with inhibitions and fear; and all the other negative feelings that torture us within. Almost in the same breath, as he praises God for what His Word has done for him, he prays that he may learn still more of its priceless treasure.
3. The Bible shows us what offerings are pleasing to God (vs.108). "Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth." The psalmist asks God to accept an offering, the praise of his mouth. He had rare insight into God's Word, and understood that there was much more to worship than offering a sacrificial bull or a goat and shedding its blood. The most important offering to God emanates from our hearts and results in expressions of praise from our lips, followed by acts of love, service, and other offerings. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, July 14, 2017

Light That Directs Our Paths

Chuckle - A Child's Prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the baby brother. But what I prayed for was a puppy!" Joyce
Quote: "The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." --William James

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for (that directs) my path . . . Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy (delight) of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end" (Psalm 119:105, 111-112 NIV).
Years ago, I took a tour deep inside a huge cavern. Lights had been strung along the ceiling to guide us and help us keep our footing along the potentially treacherous path. When we were at the deepest point of the cavern, the guide, after warning us, turned out all the lights! Until that moment, I never fully realized what total darkness really is and how scary and dangerous life can be without light.
Believers have a tremendous advantage over those who do not know Christ as Savior. Believers have a Light to guide and direct them, they know precisely where they are going in life, and they know how to get there. They have God to help them, and the Light of His Word to show them the way even in the darkest of times.
I remember once being lost, and I learned a valuable lesson that day. If you don't know where you are going, you are lost and in darkness. That is the spiritual condition of every unsaved person on earth. The Bible does not use the word unsaved to describe the condition of those without Christ; it uses the word "lost." Because of the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, Christians have found the way and are on their way home. The psalmist here points out three essential benefits of God's Word, the Bible. It directs us (vs.105-108), defends us (vs. 109-110), and delights us (vs. 111-112). The Bible is our greatest treasure on earth. lights our path and is our road map to heaven, our final destination.
"I believe the Bible is the best gift that God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book. I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go." --Attributed to Abraham Lincoln
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, July 13, 2017

We Should Pray for Wisdom

Chuckle: A woman complained to a marriage counselor about her husband's self-centeredness. "It was evident from the minute we married," she said. "He even wanted to be in the wedding pictures."
Quote: “Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” --David Starr Jordan

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God. . . ." (James 1:5 NIV).
Last time, we began looking at some prerequisites for obtaining Godly wisdom for daily living. The first requirement is that we have a "teachable spirit." We must be eager to have God teach us his ways and impart his wisdom. The second important prerequisite is that we must have a "prayerful mind."
James 1:5b tells us that when we ask God for wisdom, he will generously give it to us without finding fault. There are several Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible for prayer, but James doesn't use any of them when he talks about praying for wisdom. Instead, he uses a common and simple word meaning, "just ask." Just ask!! This says to me that we should pray: "Lord, I need your wisdom to get through my day and deal with the difficulties which will arise."
Job 28:12,23 says: "But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells." Wisdom is God's gift to us as expressed in Proverbs 2:6 NIV: "For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding."
When our children ask us repeated questions, we may be prone to become impatient and say something like, "I'm busy and, besides, I've already told you a dozen times what to do and you still haven't done it." God is different. He doesn't find fault with our past mistakes. He doesn't dwell on our past failures to hear him. If God chooses to answer our prayer and grant us His wisdom, nothing can keep Him from doing so. But Satan can keep us from asking by telling us we are unworthy to ask. James tells us, "You have not because you ask not" (James 4:2 NIV). However, James gives us a word of advice about praying in faith: "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt" (James 1:6 NIV).
We are also admonished concerning our motives when we pray for wisdom. James 4:3 says: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your (own selfish) pleasures." You see, when we are praying for wisdom, or something else, our motive should be to use whatever God gives us unselfishly in His service for the good of others. Otherwise, God says we may not receive what we are asking for. If you have asked God for something, but see no evidence of God's answer to that prayer, perhaps you should reexamine your motive for the request. Was it a selfish request for your own gratification or for the good of your family, friends, or others around you?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

God Gives Wisdom to the Teachable

Chuckle: A police recruit was asked during the exam, "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?" he answered: "Call for backup."
Quote: “First of all that I would crave, as the richest of heaven's blessings, wisdom from my Heavenly Father bestowed daily.” --Emma Hale Smith

"If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5 NIV).
Man's wisdom is not enough. It is limited, partial wisdom. T.S. Elliot put it so beautifully when he said in "The Rock": "All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance, All our ignorance brings us nearer to death, But nearness to death no nearer to God." Then he asks the question that hangs over this whole generation: "Where is the life we have lost in living?" Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
If we want to experience Godly wisdom instead of depending on our own limited wisdom, We must first have a teachable spirit. Before we can be teachable, we must acknowledge a need to be taught. We've all heard the old adage, "There is none so blind as those who will not see." The same is true about those who don't realize their need for divine wisdom and refuse to be taught by our Lord. They just muddle along trying to solve life's problems solely with their own strength and abilities -- and wonder why things go so horribly wrong.
Each day, our prayer should be: "Lord, I don't have the wisdom to rear my children; or the wisdom to be a godly husband/wife; or the wisdom to run my business; or the wisdom to teach these children in Sunday School. Lord, I desperately need your wisdom in every aspect of my life." A wise person is always listening, always learning, always seeking, always acquiring counsel from God and other wise godly people. "Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" (Proverbs 1:5 NIV). A proud spirit is not teachable -- not open to being taught. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2 NIV).
Education is a wonderful tool to be valued and sought by us all, but educated people are not necessarily wise. Some of the wisest people I have known had relatively little formal education. Yet, they were able to handle the trials of life with confidence, assurance and contentment. The wise not only have their facts in order, but have their lives in order as well. They are teachable, and understand from whom they should be learning -- our Lord himself. "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5 NIV). There is another great verse in Psalm 111:10 NIV: "The fear (awe) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
Today, let's make a new commitment to allow God to teach you and me each day from his abundant source of wisdom? Will you claim his promise that he will generously give His wisdom to all who sincerely ask for it?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Wisdom That God Gives

Chuckle: A teacher was ending a discussion in her fourth grade class on the importance of curiosity. She asked, "Where would we be today if no one had ever been curious?" One student piped up, "In the Garden of Eden?"
Quote: “Wisdom is the power that enables us to use knowledge for the benefit of ourselves and others.” --Thomas J. Watson

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5 NIV).
If God said He would grant you one request, what would you ask for? God said this very thing to Solomon who was about to assume kingship of Israel upon the death of his father, David. Solomon's one request to God was for wisdom and a discerning heart (1 Kings 3:5-12). God was so pleased with his request that He made him the wisest man who had ever lived; and also blessed him beyond belief in other ways.
Today, we live in the information age, where knowledge is king. We know more than we have ever known, yet true wisdom seems to be on the decrease. We must understand that wisdom is much more than knowledge. Wisdom is taking knowledge and using it in a practical way to better one's self and others. The Greek word for wisdom, "sophia," means the practical use of knowledge. How many truly wise people do you know?
John Blanchard says, "Wisdom is the ability to discern God's hand in human circumstances and to apply heavenly judgments to earthly situations." Wisdom is the ability to see life as God sees it, and act accordingly. In James 3:13-18, we find two basic kinds of wisdom; earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. Earthly wisdom is marked by "bitter envy and selfish ambition, is unspiritual, of the devil." Heavenly (divine) wisdom is "first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."
You see, the kind of wisdom God wants us to have only He can give -- the kind of wisdom that we should desire most. Let me ask you: When you face a major crisis or decision in your life, what is your first thought for a source of the wisdom needed to deal with the issue? Many of us have a tendency to trust in our own knowledge and understanding to provide us the answer. Thus, we exhaust all our own strength trying to deal with the situation, when, in fact, our first action should have been to ask God for His wisdom. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV tells us:
"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 path straight (direct your paths)."
We should study and acquire all the earthly knowledge and understanding available. However, when it comes to the practical application of what you have learned, turn to the One who will give you His wisdom. God wants to make us wise through his Word, prayer, His indwelling Spirit and through the Godly teachings of wise Christians. But, we must be willing to listen and learn. . . .!
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, July 10, 2017

Solution For An Untamed Tongue

Chuckle: TEACHER: "Millie, give me a sentence starting with 'I'." MILLIE: "I is. . ." TEACHER: "No, Millie .  . Always say 'I am'." MILLIE: "All right . . ., I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."
Quote: "A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day." -- Emily Dickinson

"Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10 NLT).
At one time or another we all have been guilty of saying unkind and hurtful things when angry, bitter, or frustrated. But we must understand that the heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. In the James passages, we see the power of the tongue used for both good and evil. In other passages, we are told how to get control over our tongues. "Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit" (Ezekiel 18:31 NLT). We can paint the well-house but it will not make the water taste better. We can make new years resolutions and promise to do better, but unless our hearts are changed, we'll continue as same person making the same mistakes.
We need a clean heart. Unless you have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ and are allowing the Holy Spirit to control your life, you can't change your heart nor the way you speak. But, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse (purify) us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9 KJV). Thus a clean heart.
We need God's power daily. David says: "Set a guard over my mouth, oh Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3 NIV). If you want victory over your tongue, pray every day that God will give you kind and encouraging words for your marriage partner, your children, and your workmates, etc. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my rock (strength) and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14 NIV). We must want our speech to emanate from a pure heart. At the end of each day confess to God unkind, harsh, and critical words you have used that day and ask His forgiveness and cleansing.
We need to think before we speak. When I was a child, I was told to count to ten, when I was angry, before I said anything. This is good advice, because so much of what we say would not be said if we had taken the time to "cool down" before speaking. Also, we need to learn to think as Jesus thinks. "let this mind (attitude) be in you which is also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 KJV). Jesus always knew what, how, when, and to whom to speak the truth with kindness and compassion. Proverbs 12:18 says: "the tongue of the wise brings healing," rather than hurt.
The six most important words: "I admit I made a mistake." The five most important words: "You did a good job." The four most important words: "What is your opinion." The three most important words: "If you please." The two most important words: "Thank you." The least important word: "I."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, July 7, 2017

Words Reveal Our Character

Chuckle: "When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep -- not screaming like all the passengers in his car."
Quote: "Temper is what gets most of us into trouble. Pride is what keeps us there." --Anonymous

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men (people) who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth can come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be" (James 3:9-10 NIV).
James gives two strong illustrations of how our words reveal character -- what/who we are deep inside. First, he asks, "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" (vs. 11). Of course not. The spring is consistent in the water that flows from it. But we, with our tongues, may praise God one minute and verbally assault or curse our brother or sister the next. With one breath, we tell God how great He is and then with the next we tell someone how despicable they are. James says this should not be.
Some people pride themselves in being able to "tell it like it is." But, there's a difference in telling it like it is and being Godly in our speech. Sometimes telling it like it is may not be of God and will inflict great pain. Sometimes even the truth can be terribly hurtful. We don't have to say something just because it's true. We don't have to hurt others by sharing that juicy morsel of gossip just because it turns out to be factual.
Next, James says the tongue is also like a tree. "My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?" (vs. 12). James is telling us that if our hearts have been made pure by our relationship with Christ, our tongues will manifest it by the words we use. We will bear fruit consistent with the character of the one who has given us new hearts. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus tells us: "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." An untamed tongue is a symptom of an impure heart. Words indicate the condition of our hearts and reveal who we really are.
If you speak negative words, you have a fearful and pessimistic heart. Afraid to trust God, afraid to have faith, afraid to be optimistic. So negative words come out of your mouth. It's a heart problem. The glass is always half empty, never half full. People like this look for reasons something can't be done rather than how something can be done.
If you speak harsh words, it is because you're harboring anger in your heart. Most of our most hurtful words are spoken while we have uncontrolled anger toward someone. Many times those closest to us are our victims.
If you speak boastful words, it is because you have an insecure heart. If you are insecure, you feel you must impress people to make them think you are special and important. This heart condition often takes the form of putting others down to make ourselves look good.
If you speak critical words, it is because you have a bitter heart. The resentment and bitterness comes out in our words. Our tongues become like sharp sabers that cut, slash, and stab. Such unresolved bitterness can turn us into people no one likes to be around -- and also makes us most miserable.
Love, Jerry & Dotse