Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Challenge and Commitment

Chuckle: Question: "Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?" Answer: "Samson. He brought the house down."
Ponder This: "Conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit blots out every relationship on earth and leaves one relationship only -- 'Against you, you only, I have sinned.'" --Oswald Chambers

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I. Send me" (Isaiah 6:8 NIV).
When Isaiah found himself in God's presence, he saw himself as wretchedly sinful and unworthy to behold God's holiness. He cried out in desperation, "Woe to me for I am ruined! I am a man of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5). His repentant cry of confession led God to forgive him of his sin and cleanse him. This process of confession, repentance, forgiveness, and cleansing had prepared Isaiah to hear the voice of God. God had prepared him and made him a suitable vessel which He could use.
Up to this point, God had been teaching Isaiah and creating an awareness in him that he could never accomplish anything of lasting value without God's presence and power. Jesus affirms this truth in John 15:5 NIV, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Isaiah was now ready to hear God's call and challenge. He was now listening for that call because his heart had been made over into one that God could use. I have had church members say, "I just don't hear (sense) God calling me to do this or that ministry." Without being judgmental, it could be that the reason one doesn't hear God's call is that he/she has not gone through the preparation process like Isaiah. When we have been cleansed, purified, and prepared, God will open our spiritual ears to his call.
Isaiah heard God's challenge: "Whom shall I send?" Because of the condition of Isaiah's heart, he never hesitated to accept the challenge, even before God had told him specifically what he wanted him to do. He was willing and committed no matter what the mission turned out to be. God's atonement cleanses and prepares us for God's service. Isaiah was ready!
"Here am I. Send me," should always be our response in obedience to God's call. Millions have heard God's call down through the ages, and have responded with "Here am I. Send me!" As a result, multitudes have come to salvation in Christ. Isaiah was motivated to accept God's call because he "saw the Lord." Wherever you are, and regardless of your age or status in life, God wants you to see Him for who He is, hear Him, and accept the challenge He lays before you. God has no plan "B" for drawing the people of the world to Himself. He uses people just like you and me as conduits of his great love that flows freely for all who will turn to him through faith in Christ.
Maybe you are sensing God's call on your life, but you are not yet willing to respond with, "Here am I. Send me!" I pray God will give you the strength to do so, because true happiness and fulfillment as a Christian comes from knowing one is in the center of God's will and living to please Him.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Cleansing and Usefulness

Chuckle: A cop to a speeder: "Yeah, we have a quota... Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven!"
Ponder This: "Changing the way people act is the fruit of repentance." --Rick Warren

"Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for' " (Isaiah 6:6-7 NIV).
When Isaiah found himself in God's presence, he saw himself as wretchedly sinful and unworthy to behold the holiness of God. He cried out in despair, "Woe to me for I am ruined! I am a man of unclean lips." His repentant cry of desperation and confession led God to forgive him and cleanse him.
When Isaiah saw himself as sinful before God, with no hope of measuring up to God's standard of holiness, he became a worthy candidate for action on God's part. He saw himself as unclean and spiritually bankrupt. But when he reached this level of repentance and confession, he became a recipient of God's miraculous forgiveness and cleansing. When the live coal touched his lips, he was told that his sins were forgiven by the power of a merciful God.
In response to God's forgiveness and cleansing, Isaiah submitted himself completely to God's will and his service. No matter how difficult the task, he was willing to go and do whatever God asked of him. The cleansing process was necessary before he could fulfill the task to which God was calling him -- before he could be useful to God. Before you or I accept God's call to speak and act for him, we must also be cleansed as Isaiah was by confessing our sins and submitting to God's control. Submitting ourselves and allowing God to purify us can be painful, but we must be purified before we are worthy to truly represent a pure and holy God.
I am reminded of a quote from a friend of D. L. Moody that went something like this: "The world has yet to see what God can do through a man totally committed to Him. With God's help and grace, I will be that man." These words may not be an exact quote, but the essence is there. This was Isaiah's attitude after God had forgiven and purified him. As he began to more clearly see God, the more aware he became of his own inadequacy and powerlessness to do anything of lasting value without God.
If you are a Christian, God has forgiven your sins and cleansed you with a definite purpose in mind for your life. But the sins of disobedience and indifference may have crept into your life. If so, please hear these words: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify (cleanse) us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9 NIV). Are you ready and available to be used of God regardless of where he chooses to send you or what he asks you to do?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, November 27, 2017

What is Your Treasure?

Chuckle: "Our neighbor, the president of the local bank, was ironing a clean shirt to wear to work one morning. "I'll bet," he said to his wife, "that I'm the only businessman in this town ironing his own shirt this morning." "You're probably right," she agreed. "That's because you didn't do it last night."
Quote: “Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.” --Anthony J. D'Angelo

"Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be" (Luke 12:34 NLT).
What do you think about, dream about, fret about, and talk about most frequently? The answer to this question will likely identify your most precious treasure in life. We live in perhaps the most materialistic and self-centered world in history. The "me" generation reflects the attitude that the whole world revolves around me and it's what I want that really matters. Our treasures can be laid up on earth or in heaven, and each of us must decide which is the most important in the grand scheme of life. "If you have something you can't live without, you don't own it, it owns you."
If you concentrate on what your money and possessions can do for you, they are your treasure. However, if you concentrate on what your money can do to improve the lives of others, it is not your treasure, but only a tool to be used in ministry. Where do you put your time, money, and energy? How should your attitude toward possession be changed in order to reflect kingdom values rather than earthly values? "Materialism has nothing to do with amount, it has everything to do with attitude."
If you're desire is for Christ to be in control of every aspect of your life, you will discover that concern for his kingdom will become central in your system of values. As your Lord and Creator, he wants to provide what you need as well as guide how you use what he provides. Jesus said, "Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern" (Matthew 6:32b-33 NLT).
In summary, if God's love touches your wallet and causes you to generously help others in the name of Jesus, you are storing up lasting treasures in heaven. Jesus said, "This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no holes in them. Your treasure will be safe -- no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it" (Luke 12:33b NLT).
An old Jack Benny skit illustrates how money can become more important to us than anything else. Jack was walking along, when suddenly an armed robber approached him and ordered, "Your money or your life!" There was a long pause, and Jack did nothing. The robber impatiently queried, "Well?" Jack replied, "Don't rush me, I'm thinking about it."
Have a great day as you consider what is your treasure!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Uniquely You

Chuckle: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." --Mark Twain
Good Quote: "Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant." --William Ward

"You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV).
Somewhere, I read an estimate that the chances of another person being exactly like you or me are one in trillions. However, if I understand the Scriptures, it is impossible for another person to be exactly like someone else. God created each of us as "one of a kind" and has described our uniqueness. God's hand was on you while you were being formed in your mother's womb and He had a plan for your life. "With your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do" (Psalm 139:16 CEV).
God saw us and knew us when we were embryos, and He has formed us and planned our days on this earth from the start. I cannot understand how some Christians can be OK with aborting, for the convenience of the mother, a life that God knows from the moment of conception. Each life is special and precious to the Creator who has a purpose and plan for that life.
Your personality traits and abilities that God has given you make you unique among all others. You may think God wasn't very careful when He made you because of your perceived flaws and weaknesses. However, your every characteristic contributes to your uniqueness and the perfection God sees in you. You are as valuable to God as any other human being on earth regardless of your appearance, social status, wealth, or personal skills. The Bible tells us there is no favoritism with God.
God loves your uniqueness in the same way you love each of your children even though each one is totally different and unique in his/her own way. Their uniqueness becomes more precious to you as they grow and develop. Today, I hope you will rejoice and celebrate because you have been so wonderfully and uniquely made by God Himself. In your rejoicing pledge to carry out the great plan God has for your life. He will strengthen your every weakness and make you strong in Him.
One of the most amazing aspects of God creating each of us is that He has given us the freedom to choose spiritual life in Christ or death without Him. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why Not Say Thanks?

Good Morning:                                                                     
Chuckle: We need to be reminded that Thanksgiving is more than food, football, friends, family, and fun. It is a time to be thankful . . . that you don't have feathers!!!!
Quote: "The unthankful heart . . . discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessing!" --Henry Ward Beecher
WHY NOT SAY THANKS? (Luke 17:11-19)
One of them (lepers), when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, "Praise God, I'm healed!" He fell face down on the ground at Jesus' feet, thanking him for what he had done (Luke 17:15 NLT).
In a couple days, we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Will we celebrate with an attitude of gratitude or ungratefulness? I venture to say that many of us will be more concerned with how much we can eat and drink than giving thanks to Almighty God for the bounty he allows us to enjoy. For Christians, our greatest reasons for giving thanks should be for the forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life we enjoy because of the atoning blood sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Leprosy begins with white splotches -- then eats away flesh until parts of the body decay and fall off. If unchecked, a horrible, painful death ensues. Although it is rare today, leprosy was common in biblical times. Our passage reveals an Intriguing story of Jesus' ministry -- healing of lepers. On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus and disciples passed through a village where they met ten lepers. Lepers were not allowed to come within six feet of the healthy -- fifty feet if upwind. If someone neared them they would shout "unclean! unclean!" The ten lepers stood far off and cried, "Master, have mercy on us!"
With deep compassion, Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest. The law of Moses was specific -- before a healed leper could reenter society he had to be examined by a priest and given a health certificate saying he was cured. In obedience to Jesus, the men went to the priest. As they went, they were cleansed and healed. The miracle was not instantaneous -- but came as they obeyed Jesus. One of them, a Samaritan, turned back to fall at Jesus' feet, gave thanks and praised God. Failure of the nine to return left Jesus perplexed. To take blessings from God and never say "thank you" was unthinkable to Him.
Jesus' question, "where are the nine?" is an important question for all of us. We all have reason to be thankful to the Lord for blessings and benefits. But how many take time to say "thank you." Someone has said, "So far as thanksgiving is concerned, the mass of people can be divided into two classes -- those who take things for granted and those who take things with gratitude." Thanksgiving for the Christian should not be just time of year, but a permanent attitude of the heart -- a feeling of unworthiness for all God has done for us because of His love.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Open Door

Chuckle: My Mother-in Law is a master of the mixed metaphor. One day in Sunday school she outdid herself when she warned her students' parents that if they didn't teach their children properly, "their roosters would come home to croak." --Tod Smith
Quote: "In His love He clothes us, enfolds and embraces us; that tender love completely surrounds us, never to leave us." --Julian of Norwich

Jesus to the church at Philadelphia: "I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can shut. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me" (Revelation 3:8 NLT).
Think with me for a moment about this amazing truth. As a devoted follower of Christ, God has provided a door for you into His very presence, in the name of Jesus, which no power can ever close. No one can exclude you from God's kingdom; you can never be shut out. An open door into our homes and the presence of our families who love us gives us a sense of peace, comfort, and acceptance. A door into God's presence is far and away more significant and reassuring because it has eternal implications.
I remember, some years ago, that a motel chain made famous the comforting phrase, "We'll leave the light on for you." The voice of Tom Bodett had a slow folksy down home quality that assured weary travelers that the door to a clean and comfortable room would always be open for them any time of day or night. Incidentally, on its 50th anniversary, the motel chain began using the phrase: "50 years - the light is still on."
In this life, God fully understands that we are weak and weary travelers, but He encourages us by assuring us of the availability of His strength and protection when we obey His Word and are faithful in proclaiming His name. God opens the door into His presence and future kingdom, and after the door is opened, it will never be closed. No one can ever close it -- our salvation is certain.
The comforting words of Jesus, in our passage, assure us that our places in God's kingdom and presence has been eternally reserved and sealed. Jesus is now preparing a place for us in His eternal heaven -- a place of complete joy and peace. This is all because of God's never ending love for us. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, November 17, 2017

Being Accountable

Church bulletin blooper: "Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days."
Quote: "No one does well what he doth against his will." --St Augustine of Hippo

"So then, each of us will give an account of himself before God" (Romans 14:12 NIV). "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward" (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)
To be "accountable" means to be liable or responsible for one's actions. Accountability seems to be in short supply these days. Some are unwilling to accept blame for their inappropriate and negligent actions while, at the same time, being quick to claim the credit for things that turn out well -- even when the credit rightly belongs to others. To be accountable, we must first accept personal responsibility for our actions.
When you accept responsibility, you automatically place yourself in a vulnerable position and risk catching the blame as well as the praise. But until you are willing to accept the risks of responsibility, you will not be willing to be held accountable. This is true in the secular professional world as well as in the work of the Lord.
What about you and me? Are we willing to step forward and be held accountable for our lives and the ministry challenges God has placed before us? When you walk the walk of faith, you will eagerly accept being held accountable before God. You will accept responsibility with an attitude of humility and without fear of failure, because you are dependent upon the Holy Spirit of God to guide you, sustain you, teach you, and strengthen you. It is to Him that you and I are ultimately accountable.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what (reward) is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV).
Until you conquer the fear of failure and its ensuing criticisms, it will be difficult to muster the courage to be what God wants you to be in your professional life or your spiritual life. As Christians, we should be the best employees and the best managers in the workplace, and the most faithful and inspirational workers and leaders in our churches and communities -- for the glory of our Lord. Practicing accountability now will ensure a joyous experience when we are held accountable at the judgment seat of Christ.
"When God's work is done in God's way for God's glory, it will never lack God's supply. God is not obligated to pay for our selfish schemes. He is obligated to support His ministry." --Hudson Taylor
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Secret of Being Content

Chuckle: "A pastor resigned from one church because of health and exhaustion . . . They were sick and tired of him!"
Good Quote: "Contentment is a pearl of great price, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and a happy purchase." --Balguy

". . . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. . . . I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:11-12).
Two little teardrops were floating down the river of life. One asked, "Who are you?" "I'm a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. But who are you?" The first teardrop replied, "I'm a teardrop from the girl who got him!"
Life is like that. We cry for things we can't have, but we might cry twice as hard if we had received them. Jesus spoke often of qualities that produce peace and contentment. Do you know individuals you would classify as content? Are you content with your life? Do others think of you when they name contented people?
I am convinced that it is a greater challenge to be content while having much and using it properly with a Christlike spirit, than it is while having little. Often it seems that the more we have, the more we want -- never quite satisfied or content. Notice that Paul said, "I have learned the secret of being content." Contentment is not a trait that is obtained naturally -- it is a supernatural condition available for Christians who have learned its secret.
Learning to be content is a process which takes time. You can't expect to master skiing or golf the first time you try. You must learn. Paul said he had learned to be content even while in prison chains. His contentment did not depend on external circumstances. He noted the terrible circumstances in which he learned contentment in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27. His tutor was the "God of peace."
Contentment doesn't mean you necessarily like your circumstances -- it means you have confidence that God is involved with you in them. It's the surrender of ourselves into his care. We have to accept the fact that God is in control not us. We must move from "my timing, my way, my outcome" to "God's timing, God's way, God's outcome." It's all about Christ. With Christ we can learn to say, "I can do everything (including being content) through Christ who gives me strength." It is Christ's power that lets us to rise above our worrisome, frustrating circumstances and say, "It is well with my soul."
"A story is told of a king who was suffering from a mysterious ailment and was advised by his astrologer that he would be cured if the shirt of a contented man was brought for him to wear. People went out to all parts of the kingdom looking for such a person, and after a long search they found a man who was really happy and content. But he did not have a shirt."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Eye for an Eye

Chuckle: I ate one time at a Pizzeria. That's a weird name. Sounds more like something you would get from eating bad pizza!"
Good Quote: "Revenge, at first though sweet, Bitter ere long back on itself recoils." --John Milton

"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it. But I say, don't resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other too" (Matthew 5:38-39 NLT).
As long as I can remember, I have heard the phrase, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." The phrase has it's origin in the law that was given by God to the judges of the Old Testament. In effect, the law said: "Make the punishment fit the crime." Although it was not intended to approve the exacting of revenge on someone, some were using it to justify vendettas against other people. To this day, people try to justify their acts of reprisal and revenge with words like, "I was just treating him the way he treated me."
It's a human tendency to want to "get even" when we are wronged. Jesus understood how dangerous such attitudes could be to the harmony among His people. It's no different today. Jesus says we are to do good to those who do us wrong. He even tells us we are to love our enemies. We are not to keep score but to love and forgive. I don't need to tell you that this is an unnatural reaction -- it is a supernatural reaction. As Christians, we must recognize that only God can provide us the strength and will to love and forgive as He does. When someone does an evil thing to you, Jesus would have us pray for the perpetrator rather than planning vengeance.
Jesus continues: "If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow" (Matthew 5:40-42 NLT).
The Jews of Jesus' day were no different than people today -- they found these statements offensive and unacceptable. Any Messiah who would turn the other cheek was not the military leader they wanted to lead a revolt against Rome. They hated their Roman oppressors and wanted retaliation against them. And wouldn't you know it, along came Jesus with this radical and senseless response to injustice.
Instead of demanding our rights, He wants us to give them up freely without rancor or bitterness. The message from our Lord is that it is much more important to give justice and mercy than it is to receive justice ourselves. Wow! what a concept! By displaying Christ-like love and kindness to those who offend us, we can overcome evil with good. Forgiveness and kindness are much more powerful weapons than revenge and anger.
The next time someone treats you wrongly, stop and think about this teaching, count to ten or 100, whatever it takes, then return love and kindness. You may be surprised at the reaction of the one who receives undeserved love and forgiveness. After all, isn't that what Jesus did for us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Day of the LORD

Chuckle: After a session with his parents, a little boy taped to his parents' door a note that read: "Dear parents, Be nice to your children and they will be nice to you. Love, God."
Good Quote: "He who provides for this life, but takes no care for eternity, is wise for the moment but a fool forever." --Unknown

"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 NIV).
A major theme in New Testament Scriptures is the second coming of Jesus Christ. One of the clearest statements on the subject comes from the lips of Jesus Himself. "And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am" (John 14:3 NIV). The promise of Jesus' return is a precious tenet of the Christian faith. Numerous passages attest to the fact that He will come again to "rapture" His church (all those whose sins have been covered by the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus Himself) and take us to be with Him forever. You can read about how this will happen in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The promise, and our blessed hope, that Jesus will return has spawned numerous questions about when and how this will happen. People, down through the ages, have made all sorts of predictions and some have even set specific dates when Jesus would return -- all have been proven wrong. Speculating about the date of Christ's return is wasted effort and foolish. Listen to Jesus own words: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. . . . Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. . . . So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44 NIV).
Even though we do not know when Jesus will return, we are to live with the expectation that He could come at any moment. If you knew that Jesus' return was immanent, how would it change the way you live? Would it make a difference in your faithfulness to Him and in the way you serve other people? Would it cause you to fall on your knees and repent of your sins? Would it cause you to get your spiritual house in order in preparation for meeting your Lord? Look at Jesus' words again: "So you also must be ready" as if He were coming today.
Since the Lord will return suddenly and unexpectedly, my plea to you who do not know Him as Savior and Lord is that you give your heart and life to Him today -- that you repent of your sins, ask His forgiveness, and commit your life to Him in faith. If you are already a Christian, I encourage you to bring your life into line with God's standards for His followers and be ready to meet Him with confidence and joy and without fear. Praying in accordance with 1 John 1:9 is a great place to start. Let's be faithful in telling others how they can be ready to meet Christ as well. We do have many prophetic indications that His coming could be soon.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sail On

Chuckle: A prospective husband in a book store, “Do you have a book called, ‘Husband – The Master of the house’?  Sales Girl: “Sir, Fiction and Comics are on the 1st floor!”.
Quote: “This day we sailed on. Course WSW.” –Christopher Columbus

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever 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 and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).
Most of us are somewhat aware of that famous voyage, in 1492, of three small ships – the, Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. But I dare say that few of us have an appreciation for the challenges which faced Christopher Columbus and his three crews on that historic first voyage across the Atlantic. According to Wikipedia, this voyage led to the first lasting European contact with the Americas, inaugurating a period of European exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for several centuries. Listen to this brief account:
This (our quote) was the entry which, day after day, Columbus put down in the private log of his first voyage across the uncharted North Atlantic. He must have written it in a spirit alternating between blind hope and quiet despair. Conditions were about as adverse as possible. Storms had damaged the little caravel; the Pinta had lost her rudder; the crews of all three vessels were threatening mutiny; and probably Columbus’ own confidence in what seemed an insane enterprise was wavering. But he had set his course in the direction which his own intuition and logical intelligence let him to believe was the right one, and with dogged courage he kept going (he persevered). --Cornelia Otis Skinner (parentheses mine)
I see a correlation between this story and the real-life Challenges facing a Christian who has set his course as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, but finds himself beset by trials and obstacles of many kinds. If he or she is not totally committed to Christ and the course they have set, they will find many reasons to turn back and abandon their journey. I’m sure Columbus had anticipated difficulties on his dangerous voyage; however, his strong commitment and conviction kept him from throwing in the towel and turning back.
Do you sometimes get discouraged in your walk with our Lord? Do the challenges and burdens of life become just too great? Here are two additional passages. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b NIV). “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12 NIV).
These verses stress the certainty that troubles will come – it’s “when,” not “if.” When we face the inevitable pain, a positive outlook will help us be joyful as we focus on the good that troubles can produce in our lives. No one enjoys trials, but those who endure them with strong faith will reap the benefits of perseverance, proven Character, and hope. Some one said, “A brook would lose its song if God removed the rocks.” Sail on. . . .
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, November 10, 2017

Our Christian Heritage

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 Chuckle: "It's a good thing I found you Gideon. It seems someone has been hiding all your Bibles in motel rooms."
Ponder This: “The human soul is like a bird that is born in a cage. Nothing can deprive it of its natural longings, or obliterate the mysterious remembrance of its heritage.” --Epes Sargent

"Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance -- all who seek the Lord! Consider the quarry from which you were mined, the rock from which you were cut" (Isaiah 51:1 NLT).
It seems the older I get the more interested I become in my family history. I'm thankful for Christian family members who have gone on the be with the Lord, and my living relatives have become even more precious to me. I often think about the Christian heritage they have given me and I reflect on their faithfulness in years past.
Living in the past can be dangerous to your emotional health if overdone; however, a healthy respect for those who made your life possible and more meaningful is good and proper. As believers, we do well to stop and think of all the faithful Christians who have gone before us and the great heritage they have left us. We should never overlook our history because it helps us to understand who we are and gives us a sense of purpose -- where God is leading us.
At the time of Isaiah's writings, God's people had forgotten what God had done for them, and they also had forgotten about their faithful spiritual ancestors such as Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Jacob. They were living as spiritual paupers rather than heirs to a wonderful heritage as members of God's royal priesthood -- as God's people. The call in our passage suggests the vital need for all Christians to focus their hearts and minds on the underlying principles which characterize our faith.
Today, as a Christian, you enjoy an even richer heritage than did the people in Isaiah's day. We have the broad shoulders of great New Testament Christians, like Peter, John, and Paul, to stand on and to draw strength from. You also may have come from a Christian family whose faithfulness to Christ goes back many generations. If so, you are most fortunate. We should view our heritage as a special gift of God and be forever thankful.
The key questions for you and me are, "what kind of heritage am I leaving for my children and generations to come?" Will they look back with thanksgiving for the life you lived and the Christian instruction you provided them? These are sobering questions that we would be wise to deal with right now. Right now is a great time for life assessment by each of us as a parent or grandparent. If we Christians, even a faithful few, remain steadfast, just think what God can do through us to inspire and influence current and future generations.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Precious Memories

Chuckle: A patient awakened after the operation to find herself in a room with all the blinds drawn. "Why are all the blinds closed?" she asked the doctor. "Well," the surgeon responded, "they're fighting a huge wildfire across the street, and we didn't want you to wake up and think the operation had failed."
Good Quote: “God created memories so that we might have roses in December.” --Italo Svevo

"I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them" (Psalm 77:11-12 NLT).
When I conduct a funeral, I usually remind the family that both their capacity to grieve the loss of a loved one and to remember the wonderful blessings of that life are gifts from God.
Just stop and think about the intricacies of the human brain and spirit that make grieving and remembering possible -- not to mention all the other amazing functions our brains perform. The more you think about these two capabilities, the more amazing and miraculous they become. They remind us of the omnipotence of our Heavenly Father who wonderfully created each of us and faithfully sustains us.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.”Laurence Binyon
Right now, let's use our ability to remember and think about all the great things God has done for us and our families. Remember how God, because of His great love, came into your life with His miraculous plan of redemption through His Son's atoning sacrifice. Remember how He continues to work in your life through His Word and His powerful indwelling Holy Spirit. Remember how He has arranged circumstances in your life that show how deeply He cares for you. Remember how He gave you your spouse, your children, your ability to work and earn a living, your sense of humor, your precious friends, your brothers and sisters in Christ, and everyone and everything of value to you.
Remember, in times past, when His Word brought you peace and comfort during difficult times in your life; how the presence of the Holy Spirit has brought you joy from knowing God is with you no matter what. When you face new and unexpected trials, take the time to remember, reflect, and review how His goodness has sustained you in the past. As you remember, your faith will be strengthened, your hope in Him will become absolute assurance, and your faithfulness to Him will be reaffirmed.
The chorus of the old hymn: "Precious memories, How they linger; How they ever flood my soul. In the stillness of the midnight, Precious sacred scenes unfold." Let's thank God for the ability to remember and for the precious memories that bring great joy to our lives.
Love, Jerry & Dotse.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Good Name

Chuckle: The five year-old asked her preacher dad why he bowed his head before preaching. "Well, Honey," he said, "I'm asking God to help me preach a good sermon." "How come He doesn't answer you?" she asked.
Daily Quote: "The invisible thing called 'GOOD NAME' is made up of the breath of numbers that speak well of you." --Lord Halifax

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1 NIV).
Our good or bad name, or reputation, has as its source the choices we make and the ensuing actions those choices produce. Each waking moment of every day, we are confronted with situations requiring decisions that will impact our lives either positively or negatively in the eyes of those who know us and through whom our reputations are established.
Of course, the choice with eternal consequences is what you decide to do when confronted with the truth of God's love and His plan for the salvation of your eternal soul through faith in Jesus Christ. Once you decide to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and begin your walk of faith with Him, important life decisions must continue to be made every day.
As we travel down the road of faith, we find it has many forks. At each fork in the road, the decision you make will help determine your reputation as a Christian. Robert H. Schuler put it this way: "At each fork in the road, we should ask this question. 'Where do I want to go?' 'Which road will take me there?' Be careful which road you choose."
Our passage provides important guidance for making life's decisions by placing relative values on the outcomes. "A good name is more desirable than great riches." But we know our modern society tends to view the accumulation of wealth as the true measure of success. That's why it is so important to ask this question, "where do I really want to go in this life and what is the best decision to take me there?" Does the desire to please God and have a good name drive your decisions, or does the desire for personal gain trump any concern for God's will or your good name?
My last daily quote speaks powerfully to me at this point. "Each of us will one day be judged by our standard of life -- not by our standard of living; by our measure of giving -- not by our measure of wealth; by our simple goodness -- not by our seeming greatness." --William Arthur Ward
Today, each of us will make many choices and decisions, some of which will seem relatively insignificant while others may determine your entire future. Often, concern for one's good name is sacrificed on the altars of self-centeredness and self-gratification. Consequently, as a Christian, each decision should be made prayerfully and with great care. The choices we make reveal our true character. "Your ideal is what you wish you were. Your reputation is what people think you are. Your character is what you are."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dishonesty Destroys

Chuckle: A children's Sunday School teacher asked her class, "Who defeated the Philistines?" One little boy said, "I don't know. I don't keep up with the minor leagues."
Quote: "A lie can travel half way around the world while truth is still lacing up her boots" --Mark Twain

"No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence" (Psalm 101:7 NIV).
"A little lie is like a little pregnancy -- it doesn't take long before everyone knows" (C.S. Lewis). Lying and other forms of dishonesty seem to be the acceptable standard to many today. Some have adopted the philosophy that a certain amount of lying and cheating is necessary to get ahead. The days when "a man's word is his bond" are long gone. The time when business deals were sealed with a good-faith handshake is a distant memory. They have been replaced by mounds of written notarized legal contracts and other documents signed by multiple witnesses to keeping us honest.  
One of the most tragic stories in Scripture deals with the seriousness of dishonesty. You may remember the Bible story of Ananias and Sapphira who lied to God. God struck them dead for their lack of honesty. You can find this account in Acts 5:1-11. Some of us may have said, "I sure am glad God doesn't still strike people dead for lying." But it just may be that He still does. It seems likely that the wages of dishonesty and deceit is still death. Perhaps not the death of the body, but the death of what is valuable and meaningful in life: trust, integrity, and faithfulness.
A Marriage -- Falsehoods and deceitfulness are like termites that devour the "trunk of the family tree." Lies and deceit undermine the mutual trust and respect which must be present for a marriage to remain healthy and thrive. Once lost, trust and respect are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild. "I just can't trust him/her anymore" is a common expression in troubled marriages.
A Conscience -- Consciences can become callused and useless as lies and deceit are repeated. The second lie is always easier than the first, etc. Dishonesty will, over time, render our consciences unreliable in determining right from wrong. At this point the old saying, "let your conscience be your guide" has no validity. The conscience becomes worthless as the moral compass for your life. We often see people lying with seemingly no remorse or regret -- with no pangs of conscience.
A Career -- I'm sure the student who was kicked out of school for cheating or the employee who was fired for embezzlement would say, without hesitation, that dishonesty was fatal to his/her reputation. In recent years, we have seen lives destroyed as careers came crashing down because of dishonesty. Many former corporate executives are now serving long jail sentences for such conduct.
But for us who are Christians, the most tragic result of dishonesty is our Christian credibility and witness. Like a jury in a courtroom, the people of the world we are trying to reach for Christ will not listen to the testimony of a perjured witness. "A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies" (Proverbs 12:17 NIV). We must never succumb to the temptation to be dishonest, regardless of how small and insignificant the untruth may appear on the surface. Dishonesty can easily become a slippery slope toward moral and spiritual disaster.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, November 6, 2017

Family: Our Treasure

Chuckle: "Mom, there's a man at the door collecting for the Old Folks Home. Shall I give him Grandma?"
Quote: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy one is unhappy in its own way." --Leo Tolstoy
"How happy are those who fear the LORD -- all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How happy you will be! How rich your life! Your wife will be like a fruitful vine, flourishing in your home. And look at all those children! There they sit around your table as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees. That is the LORD's reward for those who fear him. . . May you live to enjoy your grandchildren" (Psalm 128:1-4, 6 NLT).
As I grow older, my family members become more and more precious to me -- both my extended family as well as my immediate family. Last week, some members of our family came together in Jasper, Arkansas to enjoy a time of fun, food, and fellowship. This annual event has become a wonderful time of sharing life's experiences, recalling precious memories, and strengthening the bonds of love between us. We hope to have even more family members with us next time.
In our society, family members are often scattered over great distances and it is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to bring all of them together, except perhaps for funerals. As I conduct funeral services, I often remind family members that life is brief and they should never pass up an opportunity to come together and express their love for one another. Failure to do so can bring lingering feelings of guilt and regret after a loved one passes away.
We know it is God's plan that the family be the building block for society. He instituted the family in creation and even saved Noah's family unit when He destroyed life on the earth with the great flood. Strong godly families make strong churches, communities, and nations. I think we all agree that the rapid disintegration of the family in our society contributes to all sorts of social ills. As Christians, we should be faithful to heal and protect our family relationships in ways that bless one another and honor God.
Family fulfills the human need for love, companionship, and procreation. It is also the setting within which our religious faith is nurtured through the examples and teachings of parents and other relatives. Family relationships do not remain warm and close automatically. They must be nurtured through love, communication, family worship, conflict resolution, and even healthy friendships outside the family. I hope you see your family members as your greatest treasure, and I encourage you to never pass up an opportunity to let each one of them know how much you love and appreciate them. We never know when we will do so for the very last time.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sincerely Wrong

Chuckle: "Sure, you can lead a horse to water; most folks can . . . but if you can teach him to float on his back, then you've really got something!"
Quote: "The devil is sincere, but he is sincerely wrong." --Billy Graham

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV). "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25-26 NIV).
No doubt you have heard people rationalize something like this: "it really doesn't matter what one believes as long as he is sincere." My dear friends, nothing could be further from the truth. You can sincerely believe anything you wish and be sincerely and tragically wrong. For centuries, people sincerely believed the earth was flat, but they were sincerely wrong. The words from the lips of our Lord himself tell us there is only one source of truth and one way to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven. Several truths to consider:
1. We choose our beliefs. "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator -- who is forever praised. Amen" (Romans 1:25 NIV). People tend to believe lies that reinforce their own selfish, personal beliefs. You can choose to believe a lie from the evil one, or believe God’s Word.
2. Beliefs govern our behavior. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do" (Proverbs 4:23 NLT). Our hearts -- feelings of love and desire – dictate, to a great extent, how we live. We always find time to do what we value and enjoy doing.
3. The world teaches false beliefs. "Do not believe everyone who claims to speak the truth. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world" (1 John 4:1 NLT). We should never believe something just because someone says it is a message from God. Test it against what God really says in His Word.
4. False beliefs can cause emotional stress and unhappiness. "You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32 NLT). Christ is the source of all truth, the perfect standard of what is right. He frees us from the penalty of sin, self-deception, and deception by Satan.
5. God is the only source of reliable and eternal truth. ". . Though everyone else in the world is a liar, God is true" (Romans 3:4 NLT). "Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever" (Luke 21:33 NLT).
It really does matter what you believe. You cannot afford to be sincerely wrong. Your eternal destiny depends upon you personal relationship with the One who said, "I am the way and the truth and the life." "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (in Jesus Christ) -- and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse