Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Are You Prepared?

Chuckle: An insurance man was teaching his daughter to drive. Suddenly the brakes failed. “I can’t stop,” she wailed. “What should I do?” “Don’t panic,” her father told her. “Just hit something cheap!”
Great Quote: “If you think you can walk in holiness without keeping up perpetual fellowship with Christ, you have made a great mistake. If you would be holy, you must live close to Jesus.” --Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"So be prepared, because you do not know what day your Lord is coming. . . You must be ready all the time. For the Son of Man will come when least expected" (Matthew 24:42, 44 NLT).
How would you change your life if you knew Jesus would return tomorrow? This is an all important question for each of us. In our passage, Jesus tells us that His coming will be both unpredictable and unexpected; therefore, we should be prepared to meet Him at all times. The promise that Jesus will return to earth came from the lips of Jesus Himself.
This precious promise gives all Christians great joy and comfort from knowing our Lord will return to claim His church (all believers) and usher in the events leading to our spending eternity in His presence in a place the Bible calls heaven. The following quotation sheds additional light on this glorious event.
The New Testament writers speak of Christ's returning, "soon" or "quickly," with the apparent expectation that he might return in the writer’s own lifetime. However the meaning of returning "soon" is that it would happen "at any moment." It is like my phone answering machine. The message informs the caller that I am away from my desk but will return "soon." I use the same message whether I expect to be gone two minutes or two weeks -- for the very simple reason that I want to encourage the person without revealing exactly how long I will be gone! --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
Yes, Christ's return for His own will be both sudden and swift. When it happens, the opportunity to prepare for His return will have passed. Our preparations should be made now while there is still time. First, we should repent of our sins and ask Jesus Christ to come into our lives as Savior and Lord. Then we should live each day in such a way that we welcome His coming with excitement and anticipation. I heard someone say that we should never do anything for which we would be ashamed if Jesus came while we were doing it.
The apostle Paul wrote, "Remember, the Lord is coming soon" (Philippians 4:5b NLT). Jesus said, "See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according their deeds" (Revelation 22:12 NLT). When He comes, our ultimate joy will be fully realized. He who gave himself for us, and whose Spirit lives within, us will have kept His promise and fulfilled His final purpose for us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Be Accommodating to Others

Chuckle: A little boy found a leaf pressed between the pages of an old family Bible. "Mom," he called, "look what I found!" "It's Adam's clothes!"
Quote: "When a man realizes that he is a beloved child of the Creator of all, then he is ready to see his neighbors in the world as brothers and sisters." --Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury

"If someone forces (compels) you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you" (Matthew 5:41-42 NIV).
Among the meanings of the word, "accommodate," is: "to fit in with someone's wishes or demands in a helpful way." In our passage, the words of Jesus remind us of our obligation to go the extra mile to be accommodating to others when they compel/require us to do something or ask a favor of us. The same principle applies when we become aware of a need that we have the resources to meet.
If we are too busy or indifferent to the needs of others, we may turn down their cries for help or reluctantly do precisely what someone requests of us, but nothing more -- just enough to satisfy the request and clear our consciences. Jesus tells us to do more than is requested or expected.
We may have our day completely planned out with no time to spare, and then God brings someone across our path with a request or need that would require us to change our plans to grant the request or meet the need. According to Jesus' words, in our passage, what should be our attitude?
Even though it may be difficult or inconvenient at times to go the extra mile, doing so can be the key to success in your business, your marriage, your church, or other relationships. I'm sure you have come face to face with a rigid, uncaring, unyielding, or an unaccommodating person. What is your reaction to that person? You see, our Lord has instructed Christians to put others ahead of our personal desires or plans even when it is inconvenient and costs us valuable time, effort, and other resources.
Jesus expands the teaching of accommodation in Luke 6:27-36 where He tells us to love our enemies, turn the other cheek, and give to anyone beyond what they ask. To me, the message for Christians is to always do the unexpected in the eyes of the secular world. He wants us to show that our ability to love and respond to others is unlimited in the same way God's love for us is unlimited. Returning good for evil and going the extra mile will give credibility to our witness for our Lord. Jesus teaches us to be accommodating to others in all circumstances, even to our enemies.
"And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit it that to you? Even sinners do that. . . . But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, . . ." (Luke 6:33, 35 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, February 26, 2018

Aging God's Way

Chuckle: "I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process.... It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?"
Quote: "Such to me is the new image of aging; growth in self, and service for all mankind." --Ethel Percy Andrus

"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?" (Job 12:12 NIV). "Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children" (Proverbs 17:6 NIV).
In God's Word, there are numerous references to the value and responsibilities of the aged. Many societies around the world hold the elderly in the highest esteem. They are honored, respected, appreciated, and protected with great and tender care. They are recognized for what they can offer in the forms of wisdom, understanding, and insight. I wish it were more so here in our society.
We live at a time when the youthful look is worshiped. People are drawn to all sorts of weird topical compounds, body-building contraptions, weight-loss plans, and even plastic surgery -- all touted to make us look younger and more beautiful. With this emphasis on looking young, beautiful, and vigorous, we who are growing older sometimes feel as if we are being pushed aside and have little to offer.
We are tempted to think that life is virtually over for us, and that we are increasingly being ostracized. If we aren't careful, we can easily allow our self-esteem to slip into the "pits." But please don't let our youth-oriented culture put these monkeys on your back. If you're physically able, get up out of that easy chair! Stay active, both physically and mentally! Laugh a lot. “You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”George Bernard Shaw. Find something useful to do consistent with any physical limitations you may have. You are important to your God and those around you. You can still make a difference in people's lives.
There is so much you can do to make your life and the lives of others better. It all begins with attitude. I've heard that aging is unavoidable but growing old is an optional state of mind. However, when those aches and pains persist, we could argue with that conclusion. But, there is much truth in it. If we come to the point where we see ourselves as useless, we will likely be useless. But as long as we can face each day with joyful gratitude to God for life and the opportunity to serve him and others, we will be surprised at ways that God can use us regardless of our age or physical condition.
If you are a senior adult who feels that the joy of life has passed you by and is for the youth and children, may I suggest you find ways to bring joy to your age-group by your kindness and thoughtfulness. As you bring joy to others, you will experience joy yourself.  
"Esteem age and you will always have life to look forward to. Esteem youth and you proclaim your own obsolescence." –Unknown source
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, February 23, 2018

Living the Bible

Chuckle: "A bore talks about himself; a gossip talks about others; and a brilliant conversationalist talks about you."
Good Quote: "Some students drink at the fountain of knowledge -- others just gargle." --Unknown

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry . . . . Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. . . . The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it -- he will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:19, 22, 25).
Today, there is no shortage of Bibles -- they are everywhere - in all sizes, shapes, and colors. The Bible is a perennial best seller.  Sadly, however, many don't even know the purpose of the Bible which is to cause each of us to live out what it says. The printed words come alive within us by the power of the Holy Spirit and change our lives. We must read, study, memorize, and meditate on it, but the purpose of all that is to change our lives. It's not if we know Biblical content, but does it leads us to faith in Jesus Christ and produce righteous lives. Let's think about how we should do the Bible.
First, before we can do what the Bible says, we must hear and listen to it. According to Webster, to hear is "to receive sound through the ears." To listen is "to pay attention in order to hear." We can have sound waves stimulate our eardrums without listening with the intent to learn and understand. Our spiritual ears should listen as God speaks to us through reading the Word, listening to preaching and teaching, spending time in meditation, and being persistent in prayer. Hearing is the starting point. Here are four ways to help you hear and listen to the Biblical message.
Pay attention: "Be quick to hear." Focus on what we're hearing. In this electronic information age, our attention spans are short. With TV and computer images changing every few seconds, we are not trained to listen attentively for extended periods. Have you been conversing with someone - and say to yourself: "when will they ever hush so I can talk." We think ahead to what we want to say and are not really listening to the other person. Some won't even let you finish - some finish your sentences for you. We must learn to concentrate on listening. Say to the Lord right now: "Lord, I'm going to concentrate on your word, and if you want to say something to me, I'm listening."
Stop talking: If we are to learn to listen, we must just shut-up. James says "be slow to speak." If we're talking, we aren't listening and aren't learning very much. I must make time to listen to God and others as they teach me. If I didn't, what I write here would be worthless. The same applies to you if you are a teacher, or a parent teaching your children. Even our prayers can become all talk and no listening. When you pray, how about taking a few minutes to just listen to God. Socrates was teaching someone to be an orator who talked all the time. He said: "my price is double because I must teach you to hold your tongue before I can teach you to use your tongue."
Control our anger: James says: "be slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." You have a hard time listening if you are angry, bitter, or resentful. These attitudes set barrier between us and God.
Purify our lives: James is very pointed here: (vs. 21) "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent." The bible says: "Sin separates us from our God." To hear God, we must let him clean up our lives. Why am I so miserable? Why am I not enjoying life? Sin separates us from God and destroys all the joys of fellowship with Him. And if we have filthy lives, we can't hear God. Just take that life off and throw it away, like a dirty shirt. The old hymn: "nothing between my soul and the Savior, none of this world's elusive dreams." We often rationalize about our sins not being really that bad -- a minor thing. We can keep our pet sins - but if we do, we won't hear God clearly.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Receiving and Doing the Word

Chuckle: "Old age is when former classmates are so gray and wrinkled and bald that they don't recognize you!"
Good Quote: "If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it, they are wrong." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

". . . humbly accept (receive/welcome) the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says"  (James 1:21-22 NIV).
We must welcome God's Word into our hearts before we can do what it says. In our first passage, "receive" is a hospitality word. It means to welcome someone in the same way you would invite an old friend into your home with a warm, enthusiastic, and sincere welcome. In a similar way, God wants us to eagerly welcome the truth of his Word into our hearts as if it is my very best friend whom I haven't seen for a long time. Remember when you asked Jesus into your heart and life as Savior and Lord - He stood at the door of your heart and knocked - you asked Him in - you were born again - your sins were forgiven - the burden of sin was lifted - you were filled with unspeakable joy. We should continually welcome/receive God's Word into our lives with that same sense of expectation, excitement, and joy! After all, it's Almighty God speaking to us.
Next, God would have us do what his Word says -- practice it in our lives. Listen again to what James says: (vs. 22) "Do not merely listen to (hear) the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."  Assume you came to me and said: "Jerry, your looking a little heavy - a little flabby in places." But you said, "I want to help you" and then you gave me a book on body-building by Arnold Swartzenagger. I can study that book until the pages are worn out and it won't change my flabby condition one iota. I'm still the same old fat preacher, because I haven't changed my habits. The purpose of the book is realized only when readers do what it says. You have heard and read the Bible and maybe even underlined some verses, but what are you doing about it? Are you following its instructions. To live out what the Bible says, we must do three things.
1. Respond to the Word: "Do not merely listen to the word." The word here for listening without doing is like auditing a class in college. You just sit in on a class, but without the responsibilities of doing the class work or taking the exams. Also, no credit is given for auditing a class. Just auditing requires no real effort on the student's part except to attend. But God does not give us the option of just auditing his Word. He requires us to put into practice what we learn there. If we listen to the Bible, we will learn some things about ourselves we would rather not know. But if we respond and act upon it, we will become different people and our lives will reflect that difference.
2. Remember the Word: (vs. 25) "look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom." Keep on looking, studying until the truth becomes a part of you. This truth is a challenge for us preachers. Studies show that by Wednesday you will have forgotten most of what the pastor says on Sunday. But If you take notes, you will remember so much better. But, if you listen, take notes, then go home and study them you will remember 25% more.  Then if you take the truths and practice them they will become a permanent part of your lifestyle as reflected in your changed behavior.
3. Reproduce the word: Only the Holy Spirit can help us do this. We will see a pattern of reproducing the words in the way we live. The word will be reproduced in others as they see us living or doing the word. James tells us how we can identify a doer of the Word:
(a). He/she exercises self-control: (vs. 26) "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." Our speech becomes a blessing to others rather than something that puts others down. We also will control our anger. (b). He/she shows love and compassion for others: (vs. 27) "Religion that the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." The welfare of others becomes of paramount importance to us. (c). He/she lives a life of cleanliness and purity: (vs. 27) ". . . and keeps oneself from being polluted by the world." Adherence to God's Word will inoculate us against all the satanic evils the world can throw at us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How Can This Be?

Chuckle:  A little boy was overheard praying: "Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a great time as I am."
Quote:  Why, who makes much of a miracle? As for me I know nothing else but miracles – To me every hour of night and day is a miracle, Every cubic inch of space a miracle. –Walt Witman 
When considering the possibility of our accomplishing something important for our Lord, we may do so from the human perspective which includes taking into account our physical strengths and weaknesses.  As Christians, we can be tempted to dismiss out-of-hand what we know God would have us do because we view it as impossible. This is because we lack confidence that we can accomplish God’s assignment.  We might express our doubts or cynicism by thinking and saying, “This is impossible” or “how can this be?’ or “How is this possible?”  
In the Scriptures, there are numerous recorded instances when God revealed His plans to His people and gave them instructions for carrying out His plans.  Often, His people reveal their lack of faith and confidence that they can do what God asked of them.  They begin making excuses based on their perceived personal limitations.  Let’s look at three instances that might evoke the question; “how can this be?”   
The angel, Gabriel, to Mary, “You will become pregnant and have a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” . . . Mary asked the angel; “How can I have a baby? I am a virgin” (Luke 1:31-33 NLT).  “How can this be so?”  What Gabriel told Mary was so incredulous to her that it didn’t seem possible.  In response to Mary’s question, Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”  The answer to all our doubts and questions about God’s direction for our lives rests in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.    
God to Moses at the burning bush, “So now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10 NIV. Moses began to make excuses to God because he didn’t think he was up to the task even after God said, “I (my Spirit) will be with you” (v. 12),  The excuse that resonates with many of us is when Moses said he couldn’t speak well enough to convey God’s message to Pharaoh.  Moses continued to make excuses.  “Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses” (Exodus 4:14 NIV).
Jesus to His disciples: I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father”  (John 14:12 NIV).  To me, this is one of the most profound and amazing declarations to come from the lips of our Lord.  What is the truth Jesus wants His disciples, and us, to understand from this passage?  Surely, He doesn't mean that we will do greater miracles than raising people from the dead, healing the sick, forgiving sins, or the granting of eternal life.  These miracles are as amazing as miracles get.  The key lies in Jesus' statement as to why He said we will do greater things than He did while He was here on earth.  This will be true "because I am going to the Father."
How did His going to the Father change what believers are able to do?  It was the coming of the Holy Spirit into the lives of all believers who provides the motivation, direction, and power for us to do greater things.  Later, Jesus said, "Unless I go away (to the Father), the Counselor (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7 NIV).  After Jesus had gone, the disciples would be working in the power of the Holy Spirit; the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT). Jesus said to His followers, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age”  (Matthew 28:20 NLT).  Down through the ages, God’s people (believers) have brought millions of people into God’s kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit.      
In the power of the Spirit, God continues to use individuals and groups of Christians to accomplish miraculous results.The next time, you sense God calling you to a specific ministry or destination, please don’t couch your answer in terms of human limitations and frailties, but rather, in the limitless power of God’s Holy Sprit.
Love, Jerry & Dotse 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Holy Living

Chuckle: "Mom said she became an octogenarian on her last birthday. She can do as she wishes with her life, but I hope she doesn't will them all her money!"
Quote: "Holiness includes what we call moral goodness but moral goodness is not the same as holiness. It is only a constituent part of it." --Graham Leonard

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth" (Colossians 3:1-2 NLT).
What a different world it would be if all who claim to be Christians truly focused on making our lives holy before God. In this chapter, we can learn what true Christian behavior should entail. Paul emphasizes the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to change our moral and ethical standards and make us holy as God desires us to be. A right relationship with God will make us holy and result in right relationships with other believers.
A definition of "Holy" includes: "apartness, the separation of a person or thing from the common or profane for a divine use." It also means to be reverent, pure, and chaste. To paraphrase, we are set apart by God for His service, and are to be pure in mind and spirit as we serve Him. "But just as he who called us is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be Holy, because I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV). Let's look at some prerequisites for holy living.
First: We must belong to God. "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ." We must belong to God by establishing a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. We can try our hardest to live good moral and benevolent lives, and many people may benefit from our kindness. But if we don't belong to God, it will all be in vain. Being good will not make us belong to God -- and will not make us holy.
Second: If we belong to God, we are to "set our sights on the realities of heaven . . and let heaven (things above) fill our thoughts." Everything we do begins in our thoughts. If our thoughts are on the things of God, they will be reflected in the holy things we do. If we concentrate on the eternal rather than the temporal, it will show by the way we live and allow us to be holy as we live out God's purpose for us.
Third: If we belong to God, we will "not think only about things down here on earth." Sadly, our thoughts are not always completely pure and holy; and since God knows the thoughts and desires of our hearts, we can never meet God's standards for holy living while harboring sinful worldly thoughts and desires.
Howard Hendricks wisely observed, "It is foolish to build a chicken coop on the foundation of a skyscraper." The Christian who does not live a holy life is failing to utilize the foundation for his life that Christ has given him. When we are made holy, we will be "useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work" (2 Timothy 2:21 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, February 19, 2018

Live One Day at a Time

Mike Looks Back: February 2015                                                 Click here for my blog
Chuckle: "A man will laugh at a woman putting on makeup, and then take ten minutes trying to make three hairs on top of his head look like six."
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

A few years back Christie Lane had a hit recording and a portion of the lyrics went something like this: "One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that's all I'm asking from you. Help me today. Show me the way, one day at a time."
The only time any of us have is today -- time can't be saved and it can't be retrieved -- it can only be savored. I've heard it said, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans for tomorrow." James 4:15 tells us that when we make plans, we should say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." Several Scriptures attest to the value of living for today.
"This is the day 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).
Some live in the past and dwell on mistakes and failures which are now history and cannot be changed. Others live in the future in a constant state of expectancy and dissatisfaction with their lives today. Either of these mind-sets can cause us to miss the blessings God has for us today.
Living one day at a time means keeping yourself responsive to simple things. For most of us, there are few big moments in life -- only a plethora of small ones. Most of us never win the Pulitzer prize, nor the Nobel, nor an Oscar. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures -- a pat on the back; a hug; a 12-point buck in your sights; a big bass on your line; a full moon; a crackling fire; a good meal; a glorious sunset.
If our happiness is dependent upon major accomplishments and events, we won't be happy much of the time. If, however, our happiness depends on a good breakfast; flowers in the yard, a brisk walk, or a nap, we will have a lot of happiness. A good motto would be: "Learn from yesterday, hope for tomorrow, but live for today." Living one day at a time will help make your life be all it can be. When you kill time, it has no resurrection! Today is the only certain time we have to share the love of Christ with someone.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, February 16, 2018

Showing Respect for the Elderly

Chuckle: "When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra." --Will Rogers
Quote: “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world will cry and you will rejoice.” –Unknown

"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD" (Leviticus 19:32 NIV). "Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. . . . "May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice" (Proverbs 23:22, 25 NIV).
In our last lesson, we addressed the need to respect and honor all people with emphasis on the elderly. Scriptures are replete with admonitions concerning how we should treat the elderly with love and respect. I ran across a Bible lesson by Samuel Simmons on this subject. After a discussion on showing respect to the elderly, he asked the question, "What about you?" Following are his words.
Try to imagine yourself at over 80 years of age (no imagination is required for some of us). Think about how you would want to be treated. When you do, you probably see that patronizing sympathy or superficial pity falls far short of showing respect. . . What form of respect might you want in your later years? Consider these possibilities:
* The respect that says, "You still matter to God." When you hurt, God cares. When you are lonely, God is there. When you feel abandoned, God is faithful.
* The respect that says, "You still have purpose in the world.". . . God invites elderly persons to join Him in His kingdom work. When you feel useless, God gives you purpose.
* The respect that says, "I'm interested in your life." What was your vocation? Where did you live? "What do you think of this or that national crisis? . . . What are the top lessons you have learned in life?
* The respect that says, "God forgives you." Did you make mistakes? Did you hurt others? Do you have regrets? No failure in life lies beyond the powerful forgiveness possible in Jesus Christ.
* The respect that says, "If you need me, I'm here for you." Is someone trying to take advantage of you? Is someone asking you to do something that makes you uncomfortable? Let me know and I will help you if I can.
* The respect that says, "I want to hear your opinion." Do you have a different view than mine? Does your life experience tell you something different? Help me understand what you are thinking. I will listen. "Is not wisdom found in the aged? Does not long life bring understanding" (Job 12:12 NIV).
One final thought from Mr. Simmons: The way we treat our elders is the model our children and others may use in relating to us when we are old. If that is true, how will those younger persons treat us when we are old? We may be writing the script right now by the way we treat the elderly.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Respect for the Elderly

Chuckle: "We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress." -- Will Rogers
Quote: "Life is short, and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!" --Henri Frederic Amiel

"Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as though he were your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat the older women as you would your mother, and treat the younger women with all purity as your own sisters" (1 Timothy 5:1-2 NLT).
In general, there seems to be a growing attitude of disrespect for others in our society. Many have little or no respect for authority and little respect for themselves or others, especially the elderly. I read somewhere that a good measure of a nations health is the way it treats its elderly. No doubt you have seniors in your family, community, and church who yearn to know they are loved, respected and appreciated. Their long lives reflect God's honor and blessings on them and has given them the time to increase in knowledge and wisdom. Ignoring this great reservoir of wisdom shows a definite lack of respect on our part.
I don't want to appear self-serving, since I am a member of our older generation, but the seniors in America are deserving of respect and honor because of their tremendous contribution to the building of this great nation. Their perseverance and personal sacrifice have no doubt added significantly to our quality of life and we owe them much. Many of them are great role models of faithfulness to our Lord and sacrificial service to others. When you think of all they have done for you, an attitude of love, thanksgiving, and respect should follow.
The Bible is an all-sufficient instructional manual for our inter-personal relationships, both in our biological families as well as our spiritual families. Please note in our 1 Timothy passage that the emphasis is on giving the same respect to all people that you give to your own parents and siblings. The passage assumes respect, honor and thoughtfulness will be shown to our biological family members, and uses this as a model for how we should treat others. Unfortunately, this model of caring and respect is missing in many biological families, and sometimes even in spiritual families.
As a pastor, I have made untold numbers of visits to elderly and disabled residents of nursing homes and assisted living centers. It’s a joy to see residents regularly receiving expressions of love and respect by family members and friends. However, I’m deeply saddened when I see mothers, fathers and grandparents who have been "deposited" in such facilities and seemingly forgotten. Some residents seldom receive visits from family members who show little interest in letting them know they are loved, valued, and respected. This is a terrible tragedy which all of us need to address and do our part to correct.
Next time, we will consider some ways to show respect for the elderly.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Love: What is It?

                              Christian Valentines Day Animated Powerpoint for ChurchShould Christians Celebrate Valentine's Day?

Chuckle: "Why do we put suits in a garment bag and put garments in a suitcase?"
Quote: "An individual's highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His (God's) will." --John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

"We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters" (I John 3:16 NLT).
Here, the word "love" is translated from the Greek word, "agape." This kind of love can be defined as "God's kind of love" -- the kind of love that caused Jesus to sacrifice himself for us on a horrible Roman cross. This love is characterized by actions, not mere words. What did John mean when he said we ought to give up (lay down) our lives for our brothers and sisters? Fortunately, it is unlikely that most of us will be required to give our physical lives for someone else as Jesus did for us. Nevertheless, it seems John is saying we Christians should be willing to do so if called upon.
"It is our care for the helpless, our practice of loving-kindness, that brands (Christians) 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
You wouldn't hesitate to give your life for someone you love dearly -- like your spouse or your child. Soldiers lay down their lives for their country, and often sacrifice themselves to save their buddies. But is this what John is suggesting we do. Not really. There are many other ways we can lay down our lives for brothers and sisters. Immediately after saying that we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, John talks about using our material possessions to meet the needs of others.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (I John 3:17-18 NIV). Then John let's the heavy hammer fall: "This is how we know that we belong to the truth (Christ), and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" (I John 3:19-20 NIV).
This is how we will know that we have been saved and belong to Christ -- if we love and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. Up in verse 17, the word translated "pity" actually means to "shut out" or "close the door." If we see someone in need and shut the door of our hearts toward him, how can the love of God be in us? We can say kind words to someone in need, but do nothing to meet his or her need and our hearts will condemn us for such a lack of agape love -- a love demonstrated by our actions.
In light of these passages, how does your love for others stack up? I ask the same question of myself. Are we inclined to feel sorry for someone in need, and maybe share some words of encouragement with him/her, or are we willing to lay down our lives and sacrifice something to meet his/her needs? "This is how we know that we belong to the truth (Jesus)." Love is what God is all about and what we should be all about, as well.
Love, Jerry & Dotse                            

Monday, February 12, 2018

What Does "Believes" Mean?

Chuckle: John said to Nathan: “Andrea and I want to get married, but we can’t find anywhere to live.” “Why don’t you live with Andrea’s parents?” suggested Nathan. “We can’t do that. They’re living with their parents.”
Quote: “The believer may well have less use for books on religion than the unbeliever – for how can a man honestly disbelieve unless he has done himself the justice of discovering in what it is he does not believe.” --Lionel McColver

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
Christians are often called “believers.” But what does it mean to believe? Sometimes our modern English language is deficient when translating original Biblical languages such as Greek, the primary language of the New Testament. There may not always be an English word that accurately conveys the specific meaning intended by the original writer. Without understanding the broader meanings of a Greek word, we can over-simplify a Biblical subject or miss an important truth.
Let’s take the word, “believe.” Today, this English word is primarily used to describe our cognitive acceptance of a given proposition or concept as being true – an intellectual exercise. In our passage, the apostle John records the words of Jesus Himself as He tells us we must believe in Him to have eternal life. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?. In fact, it sounds so simple that some people may say they believe in Jesus when, in fact, they are only expressing a belief in the facts about Jesus. But our eternal destiny depends on our understanding of the word “believe” as it applies to our relationship with Jesus Christ. So, how can we know we believe in Jesus, and how do we explain to an unsaved person what it really means to believe in Jesus?
In our passage, as well as other places in the New Testament, the word “believe” is the translation of the Greek word for “faith” which in its noun form is “pistis” and in its verb form is “pisteuo. In John 3:16, the word translated as “believes” is “pisteuo,” which, as amplified by other Scriptures, means to have faith in; to have confidence in; to trust in; to rely upon, to give allegiance to; to commit oneself to. These meanings describe an eternal, growing, and dynamic love relationship with Jesus Christ all rolled up neatly in the single English word, “believes.”
A footnote in the NLT Study Bible describes “believe” this way: “To ‘believe’ is more than intellectual agreement that Jesus is God. It means to put our trust and confidence in him that he alone can save us. It is to put Christ in charge of our present plans (life) and eternal destiny. Believing is both trusting his words as reliable, and relying on him for the power to change.”
To authenticate our own relationship with Jesus Christ, we must understand, accept, and comply with what “believes” really means. Also, when sharing God’s plan of salvation with someone, it’s imperative that we carefully explain what believing in Jesus entails and how it impacts their lives. We can believe everything said about Jesus in the Bible and still not believe in him with a saving faith. Believing about Jesus does not establish the personal relationship Christ wants with each of us.
I have often used this illustration to help explain what it means to believe in Jesus. Before going to the airport, I can intellectually believe that the pilot and his airplane will take me safely to my desired destination. However, I have not really believed until I trust my life to that pilot by boarding the plane, settling into my seat, and the plane becomes airborne. I have not really believed until I have entrusted my life to that pilot. Likewise, I have not truly believed in Jesus until I demonstrate my faith by committing myself to Him and entrusting my eternal soul into His care.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Ambassadors for Christ

Chuckle: Two boys were walking home from church after hearing strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, "What do you think about all this Satan stuff?" The other boy replied, "Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your Dad."
Quote of the Day: "Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. It is not enough that a thing be possible for it to be believed." --Francois Voltaire

"We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you. 'Be reconciled to God!' " (2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT).
The word "Ambassador" is used to describe envoys sent by governments to other nations on occasion as special representatives, messengers and interpreters. Our government appoints ambassadors to countries with whom we have diplomatic relations to represent our interests and to explain, interpret, and promulgate the values of the United States, and to serve the American citizens living in those countries. In our passage the word applies to us as representatives of Christ charged with carrying his message of God's redeeming love and his plan for reconciling sinners to himself.
As believers, we are God's ambassadors, sent into the world with his gospel message of Jesus Christ. This is an awesome and important responsibility, and one that should never be taken lightly. When we speak it is as if God is speaking through us. The Holy Spirit empowers our words and convicts the hearts of those to whom we speak representing Christ. Really, we are allowing God to use us as conduits through whom the gospel message is communicated. Our message is clear: Be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ! The news of reconciliation is not merely good news, but urgent news, entailing consequences of the greatest eternal importance for all people.
A final thought: An ambassador never substitutes his own personal message for the message of the one who sent him or her. We must never alter, water down, or substitute our own words for those of our Heavenly Father. When an ambassador loses his focus and loyalty to the one he represents, he is no longer an ambassador. Likewise, when an ambassador does not accurately convey the message of the One who sends him, he or she becomes a hindrance to God's kingdom work. The message of reconciliation can be summarized as follows:
"For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, February 9, 2018

Bridges of Love

Chuckle: "A thoughtful wife is one who has the steaks ready when her husband comes home from a fishing trip!"
Quote: "He who is filled with love is filled with God himself." -- St. Augustine of Hippo

"Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that" (Luke 6:31-33 NIV).
In 1851, James Robling made the shocking announcement that he would build a bridge across the Niagara River Gorge. Engineers said it was impossible. The span was 800 feet. The height was 200 feet. Water flowed over the Falls at 37 million gallons per minute and rushed down the Gorge. It would be impossible to set piers to support the bridge. But true to his vision, he built a suspension bridge so strong that trains could pass over it.
Jesus is the greatest bridge-builder of all time -- across time and space -- from heaven to earth -- from sin to salvation. Jesus is saying to Christians, "I want you to be like me. I want you to build bridges to others so they can walk across that bridge of your life to me." As bridge builders, we must learn two major lessons:
First, we must learn to think like Jesus. Philippians 2:5 says, "Let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus." We must allow His Spirit to give us the mind of Christ. Like Jesus, we must invest ourselves in the lives of others. Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, so I'm sending you." Jesus said, you're "salt and the light." Both of these must be put to use to have value. Salt can't season unless it is poured out. Light is useless if kept in a closet. God wants us to:
(1) Have Christ's love for hurting people. "When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36 NIV). The lost and hurting are the ones to which Jesus is referring (sick, hurting, hungry, naked, alone,etc.).
(2) Adopt Jesus' methods: Luke 6:36 says, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" Galatians 6:10 says, "Let us do good to all people." Bridges have one purpose - they connect and allow people to move from one place to another. When we build bridges of love, we say, "don't come to our church; we're coming to you." This kind of love results in selfless good deeds. A small act of kindness says "I love you," and "there's a God who loves you."
Second, we must learn to act like Jesus. Like Jesus, our motives must be pure and our love proven. James said in 2:17 NIV, "In the same way, faith by itself, not accompanied by action is dead. . . I will show you my faith by what I do." Jesus came from heaven to where we are and built a bridge of love between us and the Father - Jesus is that bridge, and we should be bridges to others.
Acts of kindness in Jesus' name can have amazing impact on those who have not experienced God's love. If you want to make a difference in your children, take them to where they can help someone who is hungry, sick, old, alone. If we learn to think and act like Jesus, we will build bridges of love to those around us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Between Belief and Unbelief

Chuckle: "Give me a sentence about a public servant," said a teacher. The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder pregnant." The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. "Don't you know what pregnant means?" she asked. "Sure," said the boy confidently. "It means carrying a child."
Quote: "There is nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitor." --Frank Clark

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24 NIV).
I'm sure there have been times when you needed God to meet a need in your life -- when you knew God had done similar miracles as recorded in the Bible, but somehow you just couldn't quite believe He would do it in your case. Have you prayed for God to do a certain thing, but you really couldn't believe God would do what you asked? Quite often there is a big difference between our believing God can do something and believing He will do something.
The faith spoken of in the Bible is an attitude of complete trust and confidence. If your faith is wavering and you find yourself doubting that God will keep His promises, you may have slipped into the void between belief and unbelief. It just may be that you have forgotten that even our faith and ability to believe are gifts from God. In our passage, the father recognized a basic truth -- we all need God to help us overcome our unbelief.
Listen to what James says about unbelief when praying for wisdom. "When you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do" (James 1:6-8 NIV). Here, James makes the point that if we're asking anything from God we must believe He will give it to us. Your belief/faith must be solid and sure.
If your faith is weak and you have difficulty trusting your Lord in all things, you may have forgotten a basic tenet of our faith; that God can be trusted. Ask God to help you overcome you unbelief and lack of faith. In the same way God has shown His power throughout history, he will work in your life. But we must not waver -- we must truly believe that God will do even the impossible. Jesus said, "Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it" (Mark 11:24 NLT). This amazing statement presupposes that our prayers will be for God's will to be done, not ours. When we pray according to the will of the Father, He will answer.
Love, Jerry & Dotse