Thursday, August 31, 2017

Becoming Like Christ, Part 1

Chuckle: "Why is the word "abbreviation" so long?" --Unknown
Good Quote: “It is, of course, always easier to speak of Christ-like attributes in the abstract than to practice them in the heat of battle.” --Spencer J. Condie
"YOU WERE CREATED TO BECOME LIKE CHRIST!"   (Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from Rick Warren's "Meditations on the Purpose Driven Life.")
"From the very beginning God decided that those who came to Him -- and all along he knew who would -- should become like His Son, so His Son would be the First with many brothers" (Romans 8:29 LB).
A brief review: Rick Warren has identified from Scripture five purposes for you life and mine: Our daily studies are focused on these purposes. So far we have seen that our first purpose is "You Were Planned for God's Pleasure" through worship and service to Him. Second, "You were Formed for a Family" (God's Family), and to have fellowship with Him and other believers within His family (church). Today, we begin a summary of the third purpose, "You Were Created to Become Like Christ."
When babies are born into our physical families, we lovingly look at them and sometimes wish they would never grow up -- they are so innocent, sweet, and cuddly. . . . But we know that in God's natural plan, each of them will grow and mature into adulthood. It is the nature of a healthy child to grow up. It just happens. Likewise, when we are born into God's family by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Bible tells us we are babies in Christ. God desires it to be just as natural for a spiritual baby to grow up as a physical one. As we grow spiritually, we become more and more like Christ, himself.
"The process that God uses to make you like Jesus is called Discipleship." A simple definition of discipleship is following and learning Christ -- becoming like Christ. "God is far more interested in what you are than what you do because you're not taking your career into heaven, but you are taking your character." God's indwelling Holy Spirit wants to produce Christ-like character in you. The Bible says, "As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more" (2 Corinthians 3:18 LB).
Discipleship includes (1) believing (having faith) in Jesus Christ; (2) being obedient to God's Word; and (3) having your life transformed into the likeness of Jesus. This transformation is God's ultimate goal for every believer. We must first have within us the "want to" before God's Word and the Holy Spirit can teach us the "how to" of becoming more like Christ every day.
Have a great day as you allow God to make you more like Jesus!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Formed for God's Family, Part 2

Chuckle: "I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. If I had any loose-fitting clothes, I wouldn't have signed up in the first place." --Unknown
Good Quote: “Devotion to the family and devotion to the Church are not different and separate things.” --Boyd K. Packer
MORE ABOUT THE FAMILY OF GOD: (Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are from Rick Warren's "Meditations on the Purpose Driven Life.")
"God has given us the privilege of being born again so that now we are members of God's own family. The family is the church of the living God, the support and foundation of the truth" (I Peter 1:3 NJB).
We continue with our overview of Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life." The first purpose of our lives is to bring pleasure to God by serving and worshiping him. The second purpose is to belong to God's family as described in our Scripture verse. What is the foundation of this family? "If a building has no support and foundation it collapses. In the same way you need support from other people and a foundation to keep you strong in your walk with God. You find that loving support when you join your brothers and sisters in Christ's church."
Not only is the church God's family, the Bible calls it the body of Christ. When you become a member of the family of God, you also become a member of Christ's body. We are all connected and dependent upon each other. The Bible makes no mention of "lone ranger" Christians. "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others" (Romans 12:4-5 NIV). As a member of God's family and Christ's Body, the church, you are a part of wonderful and responsive support system. Within the fellowship of his church, Christ wants us to love each other unconditionally, support each other without reservation, and be involved together as a team in doing God's work.
Here's how Christ's relationship to the church is described in Scripture. "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV). If we know Christ as Lord and Savior, we can rejoice with the assurance that we a part of God's family. Isn't that a comforting thought? Here are some ways we strengthen one another within God's family:
"Love one another." "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11 NIV).
"Encourage one another." "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).
"Serve one another." "Serve one another in love" (Galatians 5:13 NIV).
"Pray for one another." "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other" (James 5:16 NIV)."
Have a great day as you rejoice as a member of God's family!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Formed for God's Family

Chuckle: “Smartness runs in my family. When I went to school I was so smart my teacher was in my class for five years.” --George Burns
Good Quote: “When you look at your life, the greatest happiness's are family happiness's." --Dr. Joyce Brothers
"YOU WERE FORMED FOR GOD’S FAMILY" (Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from Rick Warren's "Meditations on the Purpose Driven Life.")
"God's unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure" (Ephesians 1:5 NET).
Last time, we were reminded that God created us to "Bring Him Pleasure." We please God by serving him and worshiping him. Anything we do that pleases God is an act of worship.
The second purpose for your life is to be a part of God's family. There are some who believe all human beings are a part of God's family based solely on the fact that God created us all. However, we must not confuse God's creation with God's family. All were created by God, but, unfortunately, not all are members of God's family. We become part of God's family only through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
God has wanted a family from the beginning of time. Intertwined with the thread of God's love throughout the entire Bible is the thread of his desire to establish a family for himself who will love him, honor him, fellowship with him, and reign with him forever. He wants you to be a part of that family -- his eternal family -- and made provisions for us to do so. Read this incredible verse: "So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters" (Hebrews 2:11 NLT).
"Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters! We're not just called to believe. We're called to belong -- to belong to the family of God." As a believer, isn't it comforting to know and understand that we are brothers and sisters with Jesus as members of God's family? As members of God’s family, we accept responsibility for nurturing and strengthening our new family. "God has given us the privilege of being born again so that now we are members of God's own family. That family is the church of the living God, the support and foundation of the truth" (1 Peter 1:3 NJB). Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again'" (John 3:5-7 NIV). Once we are born into the family of God, how should we live? Next time.
Have a great day as you reflect on your being a member of God's family!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 28, 2017

Planned for God's Pleasure

Chuckle: "My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk." Duh!!
Good Quote: "On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for him." --C. S. Lewis
"You, God, . . . created everything, and it is for Your pleasure that they exist and were created" (Revelation 4:11 NLT).
Several years back, Rick Warren wrote two best-selling books: "The Purpose Driven Church" and "The Purpose Driven Life." I encourage you to read both of these books. In the second book, Dr. Warren identifies and elaborates on five Biblical purposes for the life of every human being. Mankind is no accident, and was created by God for God's purposes. Using "Meditations on the Purpose Driven Life" as a guide, I want to share some of the highlights of the book with you.
The first purpose for your life is to give God pleasure. Contrary to the way some of us act, God does not exist to give us pleasure, although he does so in unbelievable ways. As you study the Bible, you cannot miss the central thread running through its entirety -- that God loves you with an indescribable kind of love. The Bible tells us that God is love -- love is central to his character -- the essence of who he is. When God created you, he made you the object of his love. You were made to be loved by God -- that's your number one purpose. . . . We were planned for his pleasure of loving us and having us love him in return.
The Bible also tells us we are made in God's image. We are unlike any other creature in all of creation. We alone are privileged to have God love us and given the capacity to know God and to love him in return. The most important thing you can know in life is that God loves you. He knows everything about you and he still loves you. In Jeremiah 31:3 NIV, the Lord says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
The most important thing you can do in life is to love God in return. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38). His deepest desire is for you to know him and love him in return. One of the ways we show our love for God is in our worship. "The Lord is pleased only with those who worship him and trust his love" (Psalm 147:11 CEV). Anything we do that pleases God is an act of worship.
Here is a great prayer for each of us: "God, if I don't get anything else done today, help me to know you a little bit better and to love you a little bit more. If, at the end of the day, I know you a little bit better and I love you a little bit more, I will have not wasted this day. On the other hand, it won't matter what else I've done or left undone, if I missed the first purpose of my life. So help me, Father, to know and love you more today." --Rick Warren
Have a great day as you reflect on God’s purpose for your life!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Bible and You

Chuckle: "When you become dissatisfied and wish you were young again, think about algebra!" --Will Rogers
Quote: "A Bible which is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't! --C.H. Spurgeon,

"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey from the comb" (Psalm 19:7-10 NIV). Our passage identifies life-changing benefits from spending time in God's Word:
It Revives the Soul (vs.7). To revive, means to bring back to life one who was once alive but has become lifeless. As Christians study the Bible we are revived and we grow spiritually. God's Word gives us reason to rejoice and be glad because of God's love, Christ's sacrifice, and His indwelling presence.
It Makes the Wise Simple (vs.7). To be "Simple" means to be an humble, teachable, open-hearted person." "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom. . ." (I Corinthians 1:25 NIV). It gives wisdom/guidance for living. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go" (Psalm 32:8 NIV). It gives practical counsel for marriage, parenting, finances, etc. (vs.8). My God, through your precepts and rules on conduct, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence . . ." (Psalm 16:11 NIV). The Word will lift you up and give you joy.
It Restores Spiritual Eyesight (vs.8). Sin blinds us to the correct choices and paths in life. "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12 NIV). Without this light, sin will cause us to stray. "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105 NIV).
It Endures for Eternity (vs.9). "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8 NIV). Other books come and go, but the Bible remains. Efforts to destroy it throughout history have all failed and It remains a perennial best seller.
It is Absolutely True and Trustworthy (vs.9). The Bible is as sure and true as it has ever been. It remains altogether right. "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal" (Psalm 119:160 NIV). In our society, many struggle with what's right and what's wrong. However, God's Word deals in absolutes -- right and wrong. Jesus, as the central character of the Bible, said: "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV). There's no other way to heaven except through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is More Precious than Gold (vs.10). Nothing even comes close to being the treasure that God's Word is. "Karen's mother was startled to find her five-year-old going through a new Bible storybook and circling the word God wherever it appeared on the page. She quietly asked, 'why are you doing that?' Karen's matter-of-fact answer was: 'So that I will know where to find God when I want him." Wouldn't it be nice to open a storybook and find God waiting for us? We have such a book -- the Bible, God's love letter to each of us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Holy Spirit as Counselor

Chuckle: More fun with the English language: "When shot at the dove dove into the bushes."
Quote: "The inward stirring and touching of God makes us hungry and yearning; for the Spirit of God hurts our spirit; and the more he touches it, the greater our hunger and craving." --Jan van Ruysbroeck

"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I (Jesus) am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7 NIV).
The Holy Spirit transforms and seals believers and serves as our supreme Counselor who helps us interpret and understand what God's Word says to us --helps us apply it to the real-life situations we face (John 14:26 NIV). Let's think together about the Holy Spirit as our Counselor.
There are times when many of us require skilled counselors to help us deal with issues in our lives. But Jesus taught His disciples and us about the ultimate Counselor and Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus was about to be crucified and after His resurrection, He would be leaving the earth and returning to His eternal home with His Father (Acts 1:9-11).
Prior to our passage, Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth" (John 14:15-17 NLT). It was necessary for Jesus to leave the earth and return to His Father so that the Holy Spirit would come. While He was on earth, Jesus could only be in one place at a time, but through the Holy Spirit He can now be present to the whole world at once.
The anglicized Greek word, "Paraclete," is translated "Counselor" and combines the ideas of companionship, comfort and counsel. As Jesus prepared to leave His disciples, He promised to remain with them always as the Counselor -- the Spirit of God -- who would come to care for and guide the disciples after Jesus was gone.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples in a locked room and gave this promised Holy Spirit first to them. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:21-22 NIV).
Later the Holy Spirit was poured out (given to) on all the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2) shortly after Jesus had ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit is God's power in us as God's children. He is the very presence of God within believers, helping us live godly lives and build Christ's church on earth.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, August 18, 2017

Love Your Neighbor

Chuckle: One hunter to another: “Look at those bear tracks! I’ll go see where he came from, and you go see where he went.”
Quote: “Today . . we know that all living beings who strive to maintain life and who long to be spared pain - all living beings on earth - are our neighbors.” --Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Jesus states the greatest commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . soul, . . . mind, . . . and strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31 NIV). "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the (robbed and beaten) man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him" (Luke 10:33 NIV).
A lawyer asked Jesus, "If I'm to love my neighbor who is he?" Jesus answered with the familiar parable of the "Good Samaritan." The story takes place on the 20 mile steep, rocky, and dangerous road from Jerusalem down to Jericho.
Who is your neighbor? It can be anyone, especially anyone you see, or know about, who has a physical, spiritual, or emotional need. It might be the person seated right in front of you in your worship service. All around us our neighbors are hurting (divorce, death, financial, illness, etc.). Some are poor, jobless, grieving, lonely, and spiritually cold. They need someone to show concern. Our Lord wants us to keep our antennae up and tuned in to the lives of our neighbors like the Samaritan. He saw someone in desperate need, and he put personal concerns aside and stopped to help his neighbor. Here are some key words that describe the attitudes Jesus wants us to have in relation to our neighbors:
Compassion - empathy - share their hurt - experience their grief. The word for compassion is often used to describe Jesus. But here it describes someone acting like Jesus. He let nothing stand in his way. Love does not see obstacles to helping others, only solutions to people's needs. It looks for opportunities.
Contact. The language of love is understood by everyone. Making contact in love with a hurting neighbor will often break down walls of distrust and make the person more receptive to the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Care. Care enough to bind up wounds, administer healing oil, put them on your donkey (car) and get them a room - make provisions for them. Whatever it takes.
Cost. It costs us time, money, energy, materials, and convenience to be a good Samaritan. Being a ministering Christian costs us something if we are to make a difference in people's lives. We must hurt before we help - care before it counts - pay a price before the joy of the blessing comes.
What did the Samaritan get from what he did? He received neither financial reward, prestige, nor recognition. However, he gained the personal joy, peace, and satisfaction from knowing he had touched another life at a critical time and place. God knew what he had done even if no one else did. Jesus said, "If you give a cup of cool water in my name, you will be rewarded." Albert Switzer said, "Really happy people are those who have learned to serve." There's room all around for more happy Good Samaritans.
Jesus asked the lawyer, "Who was the neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?" "The man who showed mercy on him," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Would you go this week and do likewise for someone in need? Sometimes we're so busy making money, taking care of ourselves, and doing our thing, that we miss opportunities for service and the joy that follows.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Healthy Soul and Body

Chuckle: After the church service, a little boy told the pastor; "When I grow up, I'm going to give you some money." "Well, thank you," the pastor replied, "but why?" "Because my Daddy says you're one of the poorest Preachers we've ever had."
Quote: "The whole point of this life is the healing of the heart's eye through which God is seen." --St Augustine of Hippo

"This letter is from John the Elder. It is written to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I am praying that all is well with you and that your body is as healthy as I know your soul is" (3 John 1-2 NLT). ". . fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones" (Proverbs 3:7b-8 NIV).
This passage, verse 2 in particular, has caused me to consider its implications for all of us as modern-day Christians. We don't know much about Gaius, to whom this letter is addressed, but evidently he had befriended the apostle John with warm hospitality sometime during his travels. John loved him deeply as a faithful brother in Christ.
Obviously, our physical health should be of major importance to us. Once lost, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to regain. With the epidemic of obesity in this country, and all the associated health problems, there is a growing awareness of the need for more healthy lifestyles in general. John was praying that Gaius was as healthy physically as his soul was spiritually. For John to use Gaius' spiritual health as a standard for measuring his physical health, Gaius must have been a spiritual giant.
John's prayer for Gaius reminds us that God is concerned for both our bodies and our souls. As devoted followers of Christ, we should not neglect the health of either. We should not indulge ourselves in unhealthy ways but care for and discipline our bodies so that we can be at our best in service to our Lord.
Let me ask each of us this question: If your physical health was as good as your spiritual health, would your physical health be better or worse than it is now? Would you want other Christians to pray that your physical health would be as good as your spiritual health? How is your health, spiritually and physically? Maybe it's time for each of us to have a check-up. If the results are not what you want them to be, seek God's help in getting spiritually healthy. Spiritual and physical health should be our goal. Once attained, we should nurture our good health to the best of our abilities, in the power of the Spirit.
“Inner healing is simply this: Jesus can take the memories of our past and heal them . . . and fill with his love all these places in us that have been empty for so long., once they have been healed and drained of the poison of past hates and resentment.” --Francis MacNutt
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Planning: Do the Right Thing Today

Chuckle: "Americans are getting stronger. Twenty years ago, it took two people to carry ten dollars worth of groceries. Today, a five-year old can do it."
Quote: "Our motivation is worth ten threats, two pressures, and six reminders." -- Paul Sweeney

As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (James 4:16-17 NIV).
Do you neglect or procrastinate doing what you know God wants you to do? God tells us, through James, that we sin when we fail to do something good we know God would have us do. There are sins we "commit," and there are sins when we "omit" -- sins of commission and sins of omission. Failing to do something good for someone, or procrastinating, are sins of omission. An unknown poet wrote: "procrastination is my sin, it causes me great sorrow. I know I ought to change my ways, and I will, tomorrow." Here's another thought: "Procrastination is the assassination of motivation."
The Bible says that Christianity is not just a life of not doing certain things but a life filled with doing the things God wants us to do. To fail in life, just do nothing -- just do nothing to strengthen your marriage or to teach your children. The solution is doing something now. Write a letter to someone; write your parents; call your best friend and tell him/her what a difference he/she makes in your life; restore a fractured relationship with a friend or neighbor; get right with Christ today; join a church today; get your marriage right today; forgive others today. Not tomorrow!
A pastor put it this way. "I don't know anyone who got married tomorrow. I don't know anyone who died tomorrow. I don' know anyone who sinned tomorrow. I don't know anyone who made a difference tomorrow. I don't know a life that was ever changed tomorrow." That's why God said: "Now is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Every day we have choices. God puts your life in your hands and says: "it's yours - you can do with it as you wish." You can waste it with drugs, alcohol, or selfish pleasures; or you can invest it in the things that really matter here on earth and in eternity. When you invest your life, you find it; when you invest it, God multiplies it. No matter if you live to be 20, 30, or 90, your life can make a difference today.
You may have seen the movie, "Point of the Spear." It is the story of missionary Jim Elliott and others who were killed by savage Indians in a foreign country as they were sharing the gospel of Christ. Jim had written in his diary a few days before his death: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose." Today, many of those Indians are Christians. He paved the way with his life. He said, "I'm not going to wait on tomorrow - I'll make a difference today."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Planning: Don't Count on Tomorrow

Chuckle: With hands over a woman’s eyes, a man said: "You have three guesses who this is or I'm going to kiss you." Woman: "Jack Frost, Santa Claus, King Leer. ."
Quote: "His (Jesus') cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by his Resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to any person, and by His Ascension our Lord enters heaven and keeps the door open for humanity." --Oswald Chambers

"What is your life? You are a mist (vapor) that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say; 'If it's the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that'" (James 14b-15 NIV).
A young couple desiring to go into missionary work had invited a missionary couple to their home. The host couple kept mentioning that life was "so uncertain" for them because the husband had multiple sclerosis. He could even become immobilized in a hospital bed, or live normally until death, or die unexpectedly. After hearing the term "uncertain" so many times, the missionary turned to the couple and said, "All of our lives are uncertain. You just happen to know it, and most of us don't."
One important reason to include God in our planning for the future is that you cannot be certain of what tomorrow will bring. You may not have tomorrow -- you have only the one opportunity of today that is certain. This fact is less real to young people, but much more real to those of us who are older. Whether you are a teenager or senior adult, life is short and fragile. James says we make a foolish mistake when we presume to have a tomorrow. He also says we are fools if we boast about tomorrow. Proverbs 27:1 says: "Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth."
How then should we live? Simple! Live one day at a time. Some of us can't enjoy today because we are so worried or preoccupied with the future. Some can't enjoy their marriages because of planning for the future. Others can't enjoy school because they're planning for after graduation and for "when I get out of here." Jesus said: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself" (Matthew 6:34 NIV). He is telling us God will take care of tomorrow. So, you should pack your life today with all that God has for you.
Someone has said, "Life is what happens to us while we're planning something else." Many are missing life because being angry with someone is more important than living fully today; being consumed with the past is more important than enjoying the present; worrying about the uncertain future is more important than enjoying today. James encourages you to live it up, God's way. Psalm 90:12 says: "So teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom."
How are you spending your life? Psalm 31:15 says, "Lord, my days (times) are in your hands." God wants us to trust our lives into his care. We should say, "Lord, I don't know how long I will live, but I'll live everyday with the joy of your presence and will be ready when my life ends. Meanwhile, I will allow you to fulfill your purpose for my life."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 14, 2017

Planning Without God's Guidance

Chuckle: “Age makes you take twice as long to rest and half as long to get tired.
Quote: "Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do." --Oswald Chambers

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. (James 4:13-14 NIV).
In contrast to the Christi Lane song, "One Day at a Time," we can become so obsessed and preoccupied with the future that we cannot experience and enjoy God's best for us today. "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). James deals with three mistakes we sometimes make which results in the future not being clear and the present not being lived fully. Today, we will deal with the first of these: Planning without God's Guidance.
James describes businessmen talking about how they are going to expand; go to a new place; start a new venture; and the profits they expect to make. Planning ahead is a worthy endeavor, and there's nothing inherently wrong with making a profit. But in our passage, the problem was their failure to consider God's will in their planning. It is dangerous for Christians to make plans without God. We make plans for college, vacations, business ventures, our marriage, our family, etc. Where does the Father's will fit into our planning? James says we are to give God His rightful place in our planning. He wants our plans not be limited by human insight, wisdom, and abilities.
Alexander Saul: Wrote about the Russian revolution in the early 1900's that brought communism. He summed up the destruction of the Soviet Union and Communism by three simple words: "Men Forgot God." These same words could well be written about our nation in the 21st century if something doesn't change. We have forgotten God. How sad it is to see God's people making plans as if God does not exist. We do this often. We go about a life of practical atheism as we make plans for our lives. Where is God in your planning, choices, decisions, dreams, etc. If you include God, your won't make mistakes and you won't be disappointed. I've heard it said: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans!"
James says we ought to say: "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:15 NIV). Most of us who have lived a while have discovered that our best laid plans often go awry. Murphy's law is working overtime to thwart our very best plans and intentions. We have seen plans and dreams crumble around us and wonder why? Our planning should start with: "Lord, what will you have me to do." "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths (make your paths straight)" (Proverbs 3:6 NIV). "Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He will bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5 NIV).
God always has the last word in any of our plans for the future. As Christians, we need to stop asking God to bless what we want to do. Instead we should ask: "Lord what would you have me to do?" He will bless your plans if they are His plans.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Reality of Sin

Chuckle: A Man said to me, "I had to shoot my dog." "Was he mad?" I asked. "Well, he wasn't very pleased!" he replied.
Quote: "He (Christ) carried our sin, our captivity and our suffering, and He did not carry it in vain. HE CARRIED IT AWAY." --Karl Barth

"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV). "Have mercy on me O God, . . . Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:1-2 NIV).
We live in a world where absolutes concerning right and wrong are vanishing into a sea of relativism. This leads people to say, "what's right for you may not be right for me -- right or wrong depends upon the circumstances at the time." We see people committing even the most heinous of crimes without remorse, or acknowledging that their conduct is wrong and immoral. As these attitudes spread, they can lead to an undisciplined society of anarchy and chaos.
In the Bible, "sin," means missing the mark and the breaking of God's moral law. The Ten Commandments are an easily understood list of those transgressions that violate God's moral and spiritual laws. Incidentally, they are the basis for most of the laws in our society -- the Judeo-Christian ethic, if you will. Breaking these laws is a crime against society and sin against God. Let's look further at the reality of sin.
First, we must realize that "sin" sometimes describes a condition within the heart and soul of every human born into this world. This sinful condition can only be changed by God's forgiveness and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The shed blood of Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Not only do we need saving from our sinful condition, but we need to be forgiven of our sinful thoughts and actions as well. The Bible uses a variety of terms to describe sin, but the most common one means to miss the mark or deviate from God's standard of moral behavior. Let's focus on "sin" as breaking God's moral laws.
Psalm 51 was written by King David after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife. David had slept with Bathsheba, and then had her husband, Uriah killed so he could have Bathsheba for himself. David was devastated by guilt, remorse, and depression because of his great sins. Can you imagine a Godly man like David committing these sins? Remember, he was crowned King by God Himself because of his strong faith and immaculate character.
You may have heard this saying: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." David was a powerful king and nothing was denied him. He allowed his sinful nature to be tempted by Satan and yielded to the basic lusts of the flesh. The so called, "righteous" and powerful seem to fall the hardest when they succumb to temptation because they have the farthest to fall. In his sorrow and remorse, David came to his senses and concluded that he did not deserve God's forgiveness and prostrated himself before God and pled for mercy. Our loving and merciful God forgave him and restored him, but he dealt with the consequences of his sin for the rest of his life. Like David, we all sin and need God's forgiveness.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sin is Always Sin

Chuckle: A small boy drew a car with a man driving and a man and woman in the back. "That's God driving Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden," he explained.
Quote: "There is but one thing more dangerous than sin -- the murder of a man's sense of sin." --Pope John Paul II

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12 NIV). "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, . . ." (Romans 3:23 NIV). "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23 NIV).
You may have heard the saying, “A rose by any other name is still a rose.” Likewise, sin, no matter what we call it, is still sin. However, we live in a society where, for many, there are no absolutes when it comes to right and wrong. Right and wrong have become relative to the situation at hand. What is right for one person might not be right for another. If we take this view, then it's an easy transition to the notion that sin is not always sin -- not absolute -- the Ten Commandments are negotiable -- they become the ten suggestions.
The murder of unborn children has become an acceptable practice. We have become calloused and tolerant of adulterous lifestyles and relationships often glamorized and promoted by the entertainment media. Dishonesty has become acceptable as long as we don't get caught. Many do not see homosexuality as sin even though the Bible calls it a detestable sin (Leviticus 18:22 NLT) and an indecent perversion (Romans 1:27 NIV). But the definition of sin in God's Word is absolute and unchanging. The good news is that none of these and other sins are outside of God's grace, love and forgiveness. Let's look at three aspects of sin.
First: Sin is a condition. Because of Adam's original sin, we are all born with a sinful nature. "For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death" (Romans 7:5 NIV). We are all sinners because of who we are. The most moral and upright individuals and the most vile and despicable characters you know are equally in need of forgiveness and a Savior. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:24 NIV).
Second: Sin is action. We are all sinners because of our sinful actions which show themselves in our rebellion against God and our disobedience of his commands. Sin is any attitude of indifference, unbelief, or disobedience to the will of God revealed in His Word -- whether this attitude expresses itself in thought, word, or deed. "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your life will produce these evil results (actions)"  (Galatians 5:19 NLT). Failing to do good can also be sin (James 4:17).
Third: All Christians sin. Even after we have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we l commit sins when we succumb to Satan's temptations. However, if we are genuinely born again, we will be miserable when we sin and will not want to continue to sin. But God has provided a way for us to be forgiven and cleansed when we do sin. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9 NIV).
Sin is sin no matter what kind of spin we choose to put on it. Allowing God to give us a new nature is the only answer. Let's pray that God will give us the courage and will to confront sin firmly as Jesus did -- but in a loving, caring, and compassionate way -- so that people will be drawn to Christ by His love.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Praying for America

Chuckle: A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, "Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today." The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. "That's interesting," she said, "how do you make babies?" "It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."
Quote: "Prayer doesn't get man's will done in heaven; it gets God's will done on earth." --Ronald Dunn

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Proverbs 14:34 NIV).
No doubt you are as disturbed as I am by the moral and spiritual decay in our beloved USA. It seems that nothing is sacred any more and morality has been sacrificed on the altars of self-indulgence and relativism. People are conditioned to want immediate self-gratification with little or no thought for future consequences or the needs of others. Many are becoming increasingly dishonest, promiscuous, selfish, cruel, and demanding. We depend less and less on God's providence in our lives and are oblivious to God's hand and direction in the founding of this great nation. Many of our churches are dead or dying social clubs rather than Holy Spirit empowered organisms serving as beacons of hope to a lost and dying world.
If you agree with my assessment, what should we do about it? What should we ask God to do about it? After all, it will ultimately be God's mighty power working in the hearts of His people that will turn our country around and back to Him. Such a discussion would be incomplete without looking at 2 Chronicles 7:14. "If my people (that's us), who are called by my name (that's us), will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways (that's us), then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." These are beautiful promises from God Himself which we should take seriously and pattern our lives and prayers accordingly.
We tend to blame the condition of our society on those terrible sinful and corrupt politicians, criminals, and hoodlums out there who are destroying the very fabric of our society. But, is this really so? From Scripture, it is clear that God blesses or punishes a nation based on how His own people live. It's true that God wants all unbelievers to come to Him in repentance, but only when God's people get right with Him will we see that happen. When we begin to live holy lives marked by prayer, repentance, kindness, unselfishness, compassion, and service to others, we will be spiritually ready to pray for our nation and for a great revival and spiritual awakening.
First, we must humble ourselves before God. We must recognize our own sin and inadequacies and see ourselves as God sees us. We must see ourselves as the problem in our country because of our pride, greed, selfishness, unconcern for others, etc. When we humble ourselves before God, we will fall on our faces before Him, confess our sins, repent of those sins, and ask him to forgive us and cleanse us. True repentance and forgiveness will then cause us to make conscious decisions to turn from our wicked ways (sins) and live like we really belong to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Praying for our country in the abstract without beginning with personal confession, repentance, and cleansing of our own individual hearts will be futile. Once we have allowed God to deal with our own sins and disobedience, we are prepared to pray for our nation. "God doesn't listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will" (John 9:31 NLT. Let's get right with God, then pray earnestly for His healing of our beloved land.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Salvation Assurances 5

Chuckle: "There is nothing so annoying as having two people talking when you are busy interrupting." --Mark Twain
Quote: "The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt." --Paul Tillich
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13 NIV).
The last four lessons from 1 John have provided some indicators which, if applicable in our lives, will give us great assurance of our eternal salvation in Christ. In summary, John tells us to look for these conditions in our lives: (1) Obedience to God's commands (1 John 2:3); (2) A genuine desire not to sin (1 John 3:6); (3) A sincere love for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:14); and (4) the Holy Spirit living within us (1 John 4:13). If these conditions are met, John says we will know for certain that we have eternal life. But, if you continue to have doubts, how should you deal with them when they arise? I hope these suggestions will be helpful:
1. Realize that doubt is likely the result of persistent sin in your life -- Satan is the author of doubt. When a sin persists, you will find yourself doubting your worthiness of God's love. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 NIV).
2. Claim the promises of God concerning your eternal security as a believer. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38 NIV).
3. Focus on the faithfulness of God. "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).
To restore the joy of your salvation and remove any doubts, say to God in repentance: (1) I am wrong (confess specific sins in your life); (2) I am sorry for my sin (remorse - first step in repentance); (3) Forgive me (depending upon His faithfulness); (4) Cleanse me (guilt is taken away and sin atoned for); (5) Empower me (ask the Holy Spirit to take control of your life); (6) Use me for your glory.
Remember, God will not use you as a vessel in his kingdom until you have been emptied of self and cleansed of all sin. But after he has purified your life, he will empower you to be an instrument of his love and forgiveness to those around you. When you are being used of God, you will find that all doubt will disappear.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 7, 2017

Salvation Assurances 4

Chuckle: A Texas cowboy bought a Dachshund when someone told him to "get a long little dogie!"
Good Quote: "Three things we can all do today; Pause a moment to pray, Be a friend both tried and true, And find some good thing we can do." --William A. Ward
"And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. . . . All who proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God" (I John 4:13 NLT).
To this point, we have seen some indicators that give us assurance of our salvation. They include (1) obeying God's commands (I John 1:3), (2) not having a desire to sin (I John 3:6), and (3) loving one another as Christ loves us (I John 3:14). Today, we see a fourth indicator that our salvation is certain -- the Holy Spirit within us. Jesus told his disciples, and us, that the Holy Spirit "lives with you and later will be in you" (John 14:17 NLT). Those in Christ know they live in God and He lives in them because of this gift. We are the ones who bear witness that God sent Jesus Christ as the world's Savior and who confess that Jesus is the Son of God.
"And this is his command: to believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us" (I John 3:23-24 NIV).
The apostle Paul sheds some more light on the subject of the Spirit within us. "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). Paul is very blunt. If we don't have the Holy Spirit, we do not know Christ as Savior.
If you continue to worry about whether or not you have really been saved and are a Christian, but you can answer "yes" to the following question, you can put your mind at ease. Have you sincerely trusted Jesus Christ for your salvation and acknowledged him as the Lord of your life? If you can say "yes," then the Holy Spirit lives within you and your belong to God and your salvation is assured. It is the presence of God's Spirit that gives you the strength to obey his commands, to avoid yielding to sin, and to love your brothers and sisters as Jesus loves you. The Holy Spirit within you helps you to act and think as a fully devoted follower of Christ should. The Holy Spirit seals your eternal relationship with God.
"The trucking industry has an interesting illustration of the sealing of the Spirit. For certain types of loads, when a truck is fully loaded and ready for its run, a plastic seal is put around the lock on the door. This seal cannot be broken before the truck reaches its destination without the penalty of loss of one's job. This is similar to the sealing of the Spirit. The seal of the Spirit cannot be broken before the Christian reaches his or her heavenly destination. It is our guarantee of reaching God's destination for us."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, August 4, 2017

Salvation Assurances 3

Chuckle: "What do you call a receptionist at a beauty salon? Answer: A hair-traffic controller!"
Quote: "It is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. 'Look!' they say, 'how they love one another! Look how they are prepared to die for one another.' " --Tertullian
"If we love our brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life . . . Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions" (I John 3:14, 18 NLT).
Jesus said, "A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John. 13:34-35 NIV).
So far, we have seen that obeying God's commands (I John 1:3) and a strong desire not to sin (I John 3:6) are two indicators that we have eternal life through our faith in Jesus Christ. Today, we will see another Christian trait that gives us one more proof that we know Christ as Savior and Lord: Love for my brothers and sisters?
Both our passages were written by the Apostle, John. He, and others of the twelve, had experienced the love of Jesus first hand and understood what it means to love one another as Jesus had loved him. This kind of love translates into actions toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. We go out of our way to show our love for one another. We are sensitive to one another's needs. Love is the evidence that people have been delivered from spiritual death to spiritual life. How are you doing so far?
Real love is much more than a warm and fuzzy feeling toward someone -- it is proven by our actions. Jesus tells us that the greatest love of all is the giving of oneself for the good of others. How can we give up our lives for others? By serving others unselfishly with no thought of receiving anything in return. This involves putting the desires of others ahead of our own. A good way to determine the extent of our love for others is to ask ourselves this question: "How generous am I with my money, my material possessions, and my time?"
"In a boiler room, it is impossible to look into the boiler to see how much water it contains. But running up beside it is a tiny glass tube that serves as a gauge. As the water stands in the little tube, so it stands in the great boiler. When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; if empty, so is the boiler. How do you know you love God? You believe you love him, but you want to know for sure. Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother and sister is the measure of your love for God."
How are you doing in obeying God’s commands; desiring not to sin; loving your brothers and sisters in Christ? “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse