Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wisdom is Impartial

Chuckle: A man traveling in southern Oklahoma was heading toward Texas. He saw a sign reading, "Last chance for $3.00 gas." So even though he still had a quarter tank, he stopped to fill up. As he was paying for his gas, he asked the clerk, "How much is gas in Texas?" The clerk answered , "2:75."
Quote: "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." --Albert Pike
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right" (Acts 10:34 NIV). "Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism" (Colossians 3:25 NIV).
The Dictionary defines "impartial" as being unbiased, just, and fair in our dealings with others. Being impartial with people is the opposite of showing favor to some at the expense of others. Several places in Scripture, including our passages, we are reminded that God has no favorites and is impartial when it comes to showing His love, grace, and mercy. Every person is equally precious in God's sight. Jesus died for that unkempt homeless person asleep under the bridge just as much as He died for you and me. However, this is often lost on us as "Christians."
We have our favorites and are much more comfortable around people who look, talk, act, and maybe even smell like us. We are sometimes tempted to reach out to only certain people with the gospel message, and to invite to church only people we think will "fit in" with our congregation. Jesus reached out to the poor, sick, hungry, and others who were shunned by society. In light of Jesus' actions, what should be our attitude? "My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others" (James 2:1 NLT).
If we find ourselves being partial to the wealthy, well-dressed, and influential over the poor, needy, and powerless, we sin. God views all people as equals, and if He favors anyone, it is the poor and powerless. Being partial to some people may be much more subtle than between rich and poor, powerful and powerless. Our partiality can raise its ugly head because we just like some people more than others. Maybe they have done special favors for us; or maybe they are just pleasant people to be around -- fun to be with. But if our partiality causes us to withhold our love, benevolence, and sharing the love of Christ, I believe we sin. The Bible says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (James 4:17 NIV). Ouch!!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Wisdom is Merciful

Chuckle: "Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again!"
Good Quote: "Teach me to feel another's woe, To hide the fault I see; That mercy to others show, That mercy show to me." --Alexander Pope
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV).
Those who have been granted divine wisdom are not simply possessed by pity and sympathy but are actively compassionate. They are inwardly disposed to every thing that is kind and good, both to ease the discomfort of those who are in need and to forgive those who may offend them. They see and love people as our Lord sees and loves them. They are Christ-like in their understanding and application of mercy.
The wise Christian loves people in spite of their mistakes and shortcomings. They don't constantly remind others of their deficiencies and errors. If we take such a legalistic and critical approach toward people, it will sour our fellowship with them and will hinder others in their growth toward maturity in love and mercy. Being merciful is to show sensitivity to the feelings of others.
The wise Christian just forgives people and says "God loves them and I'm going to love them." The writer of Proverbs 17:9 (NLT) says, "Disregarding another person's faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends." Picking at the faults of those around us will never build great relationships.
"It is our misery that calls forth God's mercy. A parent knows how this is. When a child is suffering from a severe cold with a sore throat, runny nose, severe congestion, and assorted aches and pains, and all he can do is throw his arms around your neck and cry -- what does this evoke in you as a parent? It awakens your pity, and you reach out and try to relieve the child's distress in any way you possibly can. Why? Because his misery has called forth your mercy." --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
Similarly, the plight and distress of others should evoke all the love, mercy, and wisdom that God has placed within our hearts. Jesus said to us, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34 NIV). "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, January 29, 2018

Wisdom is Submissive

Chuckle: Senior basketball player at a major university: "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes." (now isn't that beautiful?)
Quote: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." --Proverbs 16:18 NIV
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV).
Have you heard the old saying, "You would argue with a sign post and then take the wrong road?" Oh how difficult it is sometimes to submit ourselves to the persuasion of others; to realize that it is a virtue, and a sign of heavenly wisdom, to be persuadable -- to be open to reason. Sometimes, our pride stands in the way of our being open to reasonable counsel from God and other people.
Sometimes, we continue to defend our position even after we come to realize we are dead wrong. Our pride just won't let us admit we are wrong and that someone else may be wiser in a given situation. A person who is open to reason is able to absorb the ideas of others, make judgments concerning the wisdom of those ideas, and, when appropriate, modify their own thinking and attitudes accordingly.
How approachable are you? Are you one of those who says: "Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up? Are you open to discussion - open to reason? Are you prone to accept advice? Can your spouse, children, or grandchildren come to you and have you listen with an open mind? Or do your prejudices and biases render you unable to listen and be open to reasonable persuasion?
Some people are more prone to believe gossip and rumor than the truth. They never check the source - never check for accuracy - just get all upset about something that is untrue. Being open to reason will allow you to make Godly judgments about the accuracy of what you hear. Perhaps no other characteristic is more indicative of Godly wisdom than being open to reason. For example, such wise Christians submit themselves to the spiritual guidelines of the church and do not demand their own way. If you become involved in a dispute with a fellow Christian, sometimes it is wise to swallow your pride and give up if there appears to be a good reason for doing so, and where a greater good may come from such submission.
Being open to the advice and wisdom of others is a sign of spiritual maturity and wisdom from God. Proverbs 12:15 tells us "A fool thinks he needs no advice; a wise man listens to others."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Wise Person is Considerate

Chuckle: After watching her first football game, her boyfriend asked a girl how she liked the game. "I liked it, but I don't not understand why they were killing each other for twenty-five cents." What do you mean?" he asked. "Everyone kept yelling 'get the quarter back!'"
Quote: "Hail the small sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do they make the road of it." --Laurence Sterne

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV).
We are studying the definition of wisdom that comes from God as opposed to the "wisdom" of the world (James 3:13-18). In summary, We saw in James 1:5 that "If any of you (us) lacks wisdom, he (we) should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. . ." We have found that divinely given wisdom reflects itself in the way we live -- "by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom" (vs. 13). Such wisdom is first of all pure (vs. 17). A wise person lives a pure life; uncorrupted, undefiled, genuine, real -- a life of integrity. A wise person is also peace-loving. People with divine wisdom seek to live in peace and to be peacemakers (vs. 17).
Today, we see that wisdom from God will make us considerate (reasonable, gentle, kind), and mindful of the feelings of others. The wise will forego the right to be right. From the human standpoint, we all like to be right in our opinions and assertions, but with divine wisdom, given us by the Holy Spirit, we learn that being right is not worth destroying a relationship. Consideration, gentleness, and kindness are the building blocks of lasting and warm relationships.
It's not important for us to be right, but it is important that we understand and do what is right in God's eyes. You, the husband, might come home at the end of a long day and ask your wife: "how was your day sweetheart?" Instead of being sympathetic and considerate when she tells of her bad day, you say: "You think that's tough - let me tell you about a really bad day!" Such remarks are hurtful, unkind, insensitive, and inconsiderate. Sometimes we are blind to the needs of others because we are so preoccupied with ourselves and our needs. God can give us both the wisdom and the will to overcome such tendencies if we ask in faith. He can make us kind and considerate people. . . .
Please join me in praying for the hundreds of people who receive these daily devotionals. God knows each of them by name even though you don't. We all need the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ. . . . "The prayer of a righteous man (person) is powerful and effective" (James 5:16b NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Wisdom is Peace-Loving

Chuckle: I heard of one man who was so argumentative that he only ate food that disagreed with him!!!
Good Quote: "A good deal of trouble has been caused in the world by too much knowledge and too little wisdom." --Unknown source

"Wisdom that comes from heaven is first pure; then peace-loving . . . Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:17-18 NIV). "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace" (Galatians 5:22 NIV).
People with divine wisdom seek to live in peace and be peacemakers. They produce harmony between people. Such a person never looks for fights, arguments, etc. Some people are always ready for a fight or an argument. We want to steer clear of these types of encounters if we possibly can. However, this does not mean we should compromise on Godly principles. We are not to pursue peace at the expense of purity or truth. God certainly wants us to defend vigorously what is right, and be true to our God-given convictions. I'm talking about peace at God's price -- not peace at any price. . .
How do you react to conflict? Do you have the desire and skills to quell conflicts -- to be a peacemaker? Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons (children) of God" (Matthew 5:9). If being a peacemaker is important enough to be addressed specifically by our Lord, it certainly should be equally important to us. It will be if we have received wisdom from God. There are several potential causes of conflict. Here are three:
Comparing people: To a wife: "If you could only cook like my mother." To a younger child: "Why don't you act like your older sister?" If we are wise, we will understand the destructive nature of such comments and avoid making them.
Condemning people: Always picking at people - finding fault - saying that little critical remark. Jesus addressed this subject in Matthew 7:3 as he tells us not to judge or condemn others. He said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye." Finding fault with others is easy, but unless we have true wisdom, seeing our own faults is much more difficult.
Contradicting people: No one likes to be interrupted in the middle of a sentence or be contradicted. William James has said: "The secret of wisdom is knowing what to overlook." Some things are not worth fighting over. Look back at your relationships and consider those things which have caused you conflict. Most likely they were small and insignificant but blown all out of proportion.
Being a peacemaker is another sign of spiritual maturity that comes from wisdom granted to us by God's Word and the Holy Spirit of God. The "harvest of righteousness" James talks about in verse 18 means the reward or result of doing what God demands -- to follow divine wisdom is to be led into righteous and holy living. If you are living in conflict, ask God for wisdom and the will to love peace and to be a peacemaker.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wisdom is Pure

Chuckle: A police recruit was asked during the exam, "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?" He answered, "Call for backup."
Quote: "Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more." --William Cowper

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV).
James identifies several characteristics of a wise person. Today, we will begin to study each of them in turn. keep in mind the source of such wisdom.
Wisdom is first of all pure. A pure person is uncorrupted, undefiled, genuine, real, and lives a life of integrity. Sadly, many who claim to be Christians are not authentic as evidenced by their lifestyles. They try to portray themselves as something they aren't. If you have wisdom from above, you do not lie, cheat, or deceive people. You do not use people for selfish purposes. Instead, you seek to be used in the lives of others for their benefit. This humble attitude comes from the Holy Spirit working in our lives as we seek wisdom from God. "Let this mind (attitude) be in you that is also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).
To many, lying, or distorting the truth, is a normal way of life. Television programs and movies glamorize such conduct as a normal, acceptable, and preferred way of life. Proverbs 10:9 says, "The man of integrity walks securely." If we are truthful and honest in all our dealings, we don't have to fear that our lies will catch up with us. We are secure because we are forthright. Such purity gives us security and peace of mind. I'm thankful that God has given me wise Christian friends whose lives are marked by purity and integrity. "Words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook." --Proverbs 18:4
In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north. So they built the Great Wall of China. It was too high to climb over, too thick to break down, and too long to go around. Security achieved! The only problem was that during the first hundred years of the wall's existence, China was invaded three times. Was the wall a failure? Not really -- for not once did the barbaric hordes climb over the wall, break it down, or go around it. How then did they get into China? The answer lies in human nature. They simply bribed the gatekeeper and then marched right in through a gate. The fatal flaw in the Chinese defense was placing too much reliance on a wall and not putting enough effort into building character into the gatekeepers." --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Edited by Michael P. Green
God desires to make us pure by instilling His wisdom into our value systems. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him/her" (James 1:5).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Living Wisely

Chuckle: Why is it that you always find what you're looking for in the last place you look? Duh!!
Quote: "Wisdom is the ability to discern God's hand in human circumstances and to apply heavenly judgments to earthly situations." --John Blanchard
LIVING WISELY James 3:13-18
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him/her show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom" (James 3:13 NIV). "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (I Corinthians 1:20-21 NIV).
In chapter 1, James tells us to ask God when we need wisdom. He also says that God will give it to us if we pray in faith, believing that we will receive it. How often do you and I ask God for wisdom in dealing with issues in our lives? Here in chapter 3, James takes us further into the understanding of the wisdom that comes from God. He says that true wisdom is reflected by how we live. James says that living wisely with others indicates we are maturing spiritually. You can evaluate your wisdom by your actions.
Wisdom is the ability to see life as God sees it, and act accordingly. It is God's will in action. According to James 3:13-18, there are two basic kinds of wisdom; earthly (worldly) wisdom and heavenly (divine) wisdom. Earthly wisdom is marked by "bitter envy and selfish ambition . . . Such wisdom does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil." Heavenly (divine) wisdom is "first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:14-17 NIV).
It's important to know how to relate to others with wisdom and understanding. James sums this up in verse 18 "Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness." Every day, we sow seeds; either envy, jealousy, hate, or strife - or seeds of peace, harmony, love, and joy. And what we sow, we also reap in our relationships with others. James says two important things about wisdom.
1. It must be a lifestyle. It can't be just words we say about wisdom. "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done from wisdom" (vs. 13). It's much more than wise words -- it's how we live.
2. It is from God himself. "But the wisdom that comes from heaven . . ." (vs. 17). The kind of wisdom God wants us to have is of the supernatural variety and comes through revelations from God through His Word and Holy Spirit.
If we depend upon God every day, He will continue to give us wisdom. There is always confusion and disorder in our lives if we depend upon our own wisdom or that of those around us. For example: a couple is having marital problems. The man goes to work and talks to all of his cronies about it. They say: well, you ought to do this, or you ought to do that. The wife does the same thing and gets similar earthly wisdom that often leads to bad decisions. We all need wisdom from God if our decisions are to honor Him and encourage others.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, January 22, 2018

Why Do We Shout in Anger?

Chuckle: An honest seven-year old admitted calmly to her parents that Billy Brown had kissed her after class. "How did that happen?, gasped the mother. "It wasn't easy, but three other girls helped me catch him."
Good Quote: "Speak when you're angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." --Ambrose Bierce
"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:19-20 NIV). "In your anger, do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV).
The following was sent to me by a recipient of my daily devotionals. The wording is awkward in places but the message is clear. --Author Unknown
A saint asked his disciples, "Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?" The disciples thought for a while, one of them said, "Because we lose our calm, we shout for that."
"But, why shout when the other person is just next to you?" asked the saint. "Isn't it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you're angry?" The disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the saint.
Finally he explained, "When two people are angry at each other, their hearts are distanced a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance."
Then the saint asked, "What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small..." The saint continued, "When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that's all. That is how close two people are when they love each other."MORAL: When you argue do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance each other more, else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, January 19, 2018

Today's Opportunities

Chuckle: Sunday School Teacher: “Why did Moses wander in the desert for forty years?” Ginny: Because he was too stubborn to stop and ask for directions.”
Quote: “Today is a most unusual day, because we have never lived it before; we will never live it again; it is the only day we have.” --William Arthur Ward

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:15 NIV).
Today's opportunities are the only ones we have with certainty. Let's review some other verses that bear out this truth: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about Itself" (Matthew 6:34). "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring" (Proverbs 27:1). "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow" (James 4:14).
Rather than living in the past or worrying about tomorrow, we should live for the joys of today. You can miss today, but you can't live tomorrow today. James 3 warns us about being overconfident about the future. We should plan for the future, but realize the future is dependent upon God’s will. We have no promise of tomorrow - only today.
Moses stood before the Red Sea with the Egyptians at his back. The people asked, "Why didn't we stay in Egypt (living in the past)?" Moses answered them, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today" (Exodus 14:13).
God only promises today. Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Some of us are so concerned about how we will live in the future, we can't enjoy today. This is the day the Lord has made, and he made it for you. The sun came up - you are alive - rejoice and take full advantage of God's gift -- today.
A 66 year-old man named Harlan Sanders was broke. But he was a today person and, using his mothers recipe, he opened a restaurant in Salt Lake City. Today, franchises all over America now sell Kentucky Fried Chicken. We are still licking our fingers. . . . At 66, when most of us are saying, "Oh well, not much of my life is left," Harlan Sanders lived for today. "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3:7). Listen each day for God's voice and pray that he will show you how you can bless someone today.
"Now is the time for God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2). Do you ever plan to get right with God? If so, do it today. "Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call on Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55:6 NIV). Do you plan to make your marriage better? Start today. Witness to someone today. Restore fractured relationships today. Just say, "I want to be a today person. Jesus always brings us back to today, the only day that matters." Tomorrow will never come.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Arrival: A Starting Point

Chuckle: A man wrote to the IRS: “I have been unable to sleep knowing that I cheated on my income tax. I understated my taxable income and have enclosed a check for two hundred dollars. If I still can’t sleep, I will send the rest.”
Today’s Quote: “The road is always better than the Inn.” --Cervantes

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me--the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT).
During my thirty years of military service, I remember thinking, “If I can just get that promotion, I will be happy; if I can get that great assignment, I will find fulfillment; if I can only reach my retirement date, I will feel as if I have reached my ultimate goal and will be content.” But I learned that every goal achieved in life is only a starting point for something better, not a final destination. During my 31 years of ministry, I have come to realize that my greatest joy and satisfaction comes from the daily journey with my Lord. Each achievement along the way brings a brief moment of satisfaction but, more important, it provides inspiration and motivation to continue the journey.
the apostle Paul could have been satisfied with what he had accomplished at any point along his long missionary journeys while serving his Lord. But he recognized full well that his happiness and satisfaction would never be fully realized until he completed his journey and was in the presence of his Lord receiving the award that God had in store for him. He could have been satisfied with his accomplishments in Antioch or Ephesus, or Philippi and could have made either of them his final destination – mission accomplished. However, his greatest joy was the continuing journey to become more like his Lord Jesus.
We can spend our time wishing for a status in life to give us joy and contentment instead of enjoying the present and life’s experiences along the road toward that goal. Our desire should be to faithfully continue the journey. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 NIV).
Look back over your life and I’m sure you will see that every goal achieved, or every event experienced along the way, has been instrumental in molding you into the person you are today. In our quote, Cervantes must have been saying, “As attractive as the inn is for a weary traveler, it is the journey, not the inn, that brings the most satisfaction and happiness. The inn is only a starting point for the remainder of the exciting journey.”
“I have learned to take each inn along the way with the traveler’s stride – not as a stopping point, but as a starting point for some new and better endeavor.” –Maurice Maeterlinck
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Unity Among Christians

Chuckle: More fun with the English language: "After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number."
Quote: "The whole Christian life is that we are totally one with each other in the church, that Christ has given himself totally to us in oneness." --Fr Peter Ball

"Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit , and bind yourselves together with peace. We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future" (Ephesians 4:3-4 NLT).
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream that our nation would truly come together around the concept that all people are created equal, and that this national unity would usher in a spirit of good will and understanding within our citizenry, regardless of race, ethnicity or social standing. This is a worthy goal for each of us and for our nation.
We know that Dr. King's dream will only come to fruition when we allow God to change each of our hearts. Such unity and understanding can never be legislated, mandated or dictated, but must grow from within our hearts. Unfortunately, we often see a lack of unity even among Christians, and until this situation is rectified, the full attainment of Dr. King's dream for our nation will remain distant and unrealized.
In our passage, Paul is pleading for unity within the body of Christ, the church. When believers live in unity, it is a beautiful thing to behold and an amazing testimony to the power of God's love and His Holy Spirit. Perhaps each of us should do some self-evaluation of our attitudes toward Christian unity. One of the Holy Spirit's most important roles is to build unity as He leads us and teaches us. But we must be willing to have our hearts and attitudes changed, toward both fellow believers and other people in general.
This can only happen when we keep our focus on God rather than ourselves and our likes and dislikes. Dissention within the church often occurs over the most petty and insignificant issues. When a disagreement is not dealt with, it will grow, fester and become a major source of conflict. When a brother or sister does something differently than the way you would do it, immediately stop, think, and pray about the disunity that will occur if you are unforgiving and make it a big issue.
We must all remember that we who belong to Christ are a part of one body (church) under one Head, Jesus Christ. None of us enjoys a higher standing with God than everyone else. We are all equal in God's sight and problems arise when our sight and God's sight are not the same. Jesus prayed to the Father that "they (we) may be one as we (He and the Father) are one: . . . May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me . ." (John 17:22b-23 NIV). As we unify in love around a common purpose, we can be a positive influence for unity in our world.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trinkets or Treasures

Chuckle: A woman remarked to a man at a party, "You know . . . you look like my third husband." "How man times have you been married?" asked the man. "Twice," replied the lady!"
Good Quote: "Unless we place our religion and our treasure in the same thing, religion will always be sacrificed." --Epictetus

"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be" (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT).
As a child, I enjoyed watching the old western movies. I remember how the settlers moving west would try to trade worthless trinkets to the Native Americans for things of much greater value like land, horses, food, etc. The Indians were intrigued by the uniqueness of things they had never seen and were confused about their real value. Today, I believe many people are confused about the difference between trinkets and treasures. All the glitzy, enticing, and empty things valued by the world can easily confuse even Christians as to what is really important in life.
Jesus was keenly aware that material needs are a reality of life that all people face. He took those needs very seriously and had much to say about them. Material things are not bad in and of themselves. They become bad when we place more importance on them than our relationship with God. Jesus said, "But seek first his (God's) kingdom and his righteousness and all these (material) things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33 NIV).
Here, Jesus is teaching us that the most valuable treasure is found as we become Christians and focus our energy and attention on the things of his kingdom -- things important to God. Everything else is worthless in comparison. However, notice Jesus' promise to provide for our physical needs when we place God first in our lives.
As Jesus taught his followers, in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew, chapters 5 - 7, one of His major objectives was to teach us the difference between worthless trinkets and real treasures that will endure. Things of this world, regardless of their attractiveness, are mere worthless trinkets when compared with the eternal spiritual truths of God. No matter how much wealth we accumulate or how many possessions we have, they are utterly worthless compared to knowing Christ as Savior and Lord. In God's grand scheme of things, only our relationships with him through faith in Jesus Christ will be of eternal value.
Once we know Christ as Savior, He expects us to begin storing up treasures in heaven by our acts of love and kindness. We seek to please God by our living, giving, and fulfilling God's purpose for our lives. As you mature as a Christian, the Holy Spirit will give you the ability to discern what is a worthless trinket and what is a priceless treasure.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, January 15, 2018

Be Still and Know

Chuckle: The judge looked sternly at the two men in his court and asked, "Can't this case be settled out of court"? One of the men replied, "Your honor, we were trying to do that when the police came."
Good Quote: "If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot." --John Bunyan

    "Be still (silent, quiet), and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10 NIV). "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything" (Psalm 46:10 MSG).
Just saying the words, "be still," or "stillness" is calming and soothing to our minds and bodies. But, I must admit, I'm not very good at just being still, are you? If you are like most people these days, your life is in a constant state of hustle and bustle and you feel as if you're always behind the power curve. You may not be getting enough sleep. You may be constantly running out of time before you exhaust your list of things you think need to be done. You may find it increasingly difficult just to find stillness, peace, and quiet. We all need some down time in a peaceful and restful oasis where we can put down our burdens and refresh our minds and hearts.
In our passage, God is telling His people to take time each day to be still and quietly consider who He is, and to exalt/honor Him. He further says, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." When we step back from the frustrations and cares that beset us and spend some quiet time reflecting on God's love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness, we will want to fall at His feet with thanksgiving and adoration. Then He will affirm that He is the Almighty and has everything under control. Just think how comfortable you feel when you know everything that bothers you is being taken care of -- when you become aware that everything is going to be alright. When we trust in our Lord, everything will be alright.
When we begin to grasp the power and sovereignty of Almighty God, we will want to serve Him and learn more of Him each day. Today, be still and focus your heart and mind on God, and His presence will become increasingly real to you and His power will protect you and give you peace even in the worst times of turmoil and uncertainty.
Heart surgeon, Michael E. DeBakey, once observed: "For me, the solitude of early morning is the most precious time of day. There is the quiet serenity that disappears a few hours later with the hustle and bustle of the multitude. Early morning hours symbolize for me a rebirth; the anxieties, frustrations, and woes of the preceding day seem to have been washed away during the night. God has granted another day of life, another chance to do something worthwhile for humanity."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, January 12, 2018

Everyone Who Believes

Chuckle: "A real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to a town gossip." --Billy Graham
Quote: "The Christian is one who has forever given up the hope of being able to think of himself as a good man (person)." --Leslie Newbigin

"We are made right in God's sight when we trust (have faith) in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done" (Romans 3:22 NLT). Here, Paul gives a beautiful paraphrase of John 3:16, where Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes (trusts, has faith) in him will not perish but have eternal life."
Genuine Christians are those who have acknowledged that Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, has paid the penalty for their sins on the cross. They have repented of their sins and their souls have been saved from eternal punishment by God's grace through their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They have made a conscious decision to entrust their lives into Christ's care and have accepted His forgiveness of their sins and granted Him complete Lordship over their lives. Jesus called this being "born again." A summary definition of a Christian is: one in whom Jesus dwells; one whose life Jesus controls; and one through whom Jesus is revealed.
I have heard many different answers to the question, "are you a Christian." One response is, I'm a Christian because someone close to me is a Christian. For example, "my father was a deacon." "Or, my parents raised me in a Christian home." I call this an attempt at "vicarious Christianity. Although one is more likely to be saved and become a Christian if reared in a Christian environment, living in a Christian home does not make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
Becoming a Christian requires a transformation of a person by the power of the Holy Spirit. "What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone, A new life has begun" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT). "And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him (Christ) and reflect his glory even more" (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT).
Others think they are right with God if they do their best to live a good moral life and maybe even attend church services now and then. In other words, they think we are saved by what we do rather than by what Jesus did on our behalf. We live in a world where we work for what we receive and it's difficult for some to understand that we don't have to work for our salvation -- it is a gift from God. However, we do good works in obedience to God because we have been saved, not in order to be saved. "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). If living a "good" life could save us, why did Jesus need to die?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, January 11, 2018

First Things First

Chuckle: We all admire different qualities in people. My grandfather used to say, "If we all liked the same thing, everybody would be after your grandmother!"
Good Quote: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." --Mark Twain

"He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all -- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32 NIV)
Have you thought lately about what is most important in your life? Do your priorities center around pleasing God or impressing others? Are you more concerned with self-indulgence than self-sacrifice? If these questions stirred a sense of conviction in your heart, perhaps it's time to reassess your priorities and get first things first in your life. Did these questions create a desire within you to let God change you from the inside out?
If you truly wish to change things in your life, a transformation of the heart is required. Only God is able to permanently make a change take root in your life. When we rely on our own power to make changes in our lives, these adjustments generally stem from wrong motives and are temporary in nature. They may resemble new years' resolutions made in our own strength. We have good intentions when we make them, but the flesh is just too weak -- the will just isn't there. We go for the quick and easy way, which usually is self-focused and not God's way. However, His Holy Spirit within empowers us to make adjustments and transformations with eternal value. Ask Him to "create in you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you" (Psalm 51:10 NIV).

If your heart is consistent with God's will, you never have to doubt His willingness to move in your life. Make a choice to build on a firm, permanent foundation. Rely fully on God alone for He loves you and will help you on your journey! Read in His Word all that He has planned for you - it's all good! He will help you keep first things first. "I can do all every thing through Him (Christ) who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13 NIV). Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion states, "Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it." When you stop letting God change you, you stop growing and maturing spiritually. A change in behavior begins with a change in the heart.
Jesus asked the man by the pool of Bethesda, "Do you want to be made well?" Some people don't want change in their lives. They feel comfortable right where they are. Jesus was asking this man, Are you content with the way you are right now? Do you really want your life to change?"
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Attitude of Love

Chuckle: "Do you believe in life after death?" the boss asked a new employee. "Yes, of course sir," the employee replied. "Well then, that makes everything just fine," the boss went on. "After you left early yesterday to go to your grandmother's funeral, she stopped by to see you!"
Quote: "His love enableth me to call every country my country, and every man my brother" --Daniel Wheeler; "Spiritual Experiences of Friends."
"Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that" ((Luke 6:32 NLT).
Attitude is defined as, "A way of acting or behaving that shows what one is thinking or feeling" -- a loving attitude; a friendly attitude, etc. The Scriptures tell us that God is Love. Since Jesus is God incarnate, He is love, and we are told "Your attitude (mind) should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 NIV). In other words, Christ would have us live every day with an attitude of love like His. What does such an attitude of love look like?
A Christian writer named Tertullian (160-225 AD) wrote these words: "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 describes an attitude of love among early Christians and emphasizes the positive impact this attitude will have on others, even those who oppose us.
Jesus set the example for us when it comes to loving people. He treated everyone with kindness and compassion. I'm sure He was aware that every person carries burdens and faces difficulties that influence the way they react. He knew they didn't need more problems and life challenges -- they needed an extra measure of love and understanding. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 NIV). His love was unchanging and independent of how people reacted to Him. His attitude was one of unconditional love.
A belligerent angry spirit against those who react with anger and hostility toward us does not reflect the attitude of love that Jesus modeled for us. The only effective tool we have to draw people to Christ and Christianity is the demonstrated unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Even though we cannot always understand why people react the way they do, we can still represent our Lord by being a blessing to them. Like the people described by Tertullian, they will certainly see Jesus in you if you have the attitude of love that Jesus has.
"Love of God is the root, love of our neighbor the fruit of the Tree of Life. Neither can exist without the other, but the one is cause and the other effect." --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael Green
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Rejoice Every Day

Chuckle: "If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito." --Anita Roddick
Good Quote: “The most evident token and apparent sign of true wisdom is a constant and unconstrained rejoicing.” -- Michel de Montaigne

"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24 NLT).
I've heard people say, "I'm just not a morning person," or "don't bother me in the mornings; I'm a grouch." Others say, "I love the early morning, and enjoy the beauty of God's creation, coming alive at daybreak." Some rejoice at the prospect of another day of life, love, and service to family and others.
Obviously, our own personal temperaments and personalities have a lot to do with the way we greet each new day. But there is a basic truth from God's Word; each new day we live is a gift from God and should be treasured with thanksgiving and rejoicing. You may say, "But Jerry, you don't understand; the way things are going in my life, I just don't feel like rejoicing -- I have nothing to rejoice about." Oh, yes you do -- if you know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Obviously, there are days when we don't feel much like rejoicing. You may be facing yet another day of unemployment; another day of caring for a sick parent or child; another day of struggle with your own health; or another day of heartbreak in a relationship. You may feel like Charlie Brown, pondering his plight in life, thought, "Yesterday, for one brief moment I was happy. But just when I thought I was winning in the game of life, there was a flag thrown on the play and life dealt me a blow."
When the psalmist penned the words of our passage, he understood that even when life has dealt us a blow, when our mood is down, when our situation seems out of hand, or when our sorrow and guilt are overwhelming, God can still give us reason to rejoice. I suggest that if you can't see any reason to rejoice that you be honest with God in your prayers. Take your depression, sadness, and hurt to the one who said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
The psalmists were always honest with God and did not hesitate to express their sorrows, anxieties, fears, and doubts. Invariably, when they opened their hearts honestly before God, they came away from that encounter with reasons to rejoice.
When you don't feel like rejoicing, express your feelings to our Lord and let Him show you all the reasons you have to rejoice each and every day. When you look at each day as another gift from God and another opportunity to live and serve Him, you will be glad and rejoice at what God has done for you through Jesus Christ.
Love, Jerry & Dotse