Friday, March 30, 2018

Resurrection Power

Good Friday Morning: Image result for christian easter clipart  Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.” --John R. Stott

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come see the place where he lay" (Matthew 28:5-6 NIV). Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NIV).
At Easter, We are reminded that tombs all over the world contain the remains of great secular and religious leaders, except one -- the one in Jerusalem which is empty. Christians stand in amazement at the awesome resurrection power God demonstrated on that first Resurrection Sunday.
Our Matthew passage is the angelic announcement of Jesus’ resurrection. The John text is one of the most moving accounts of Jesus and His resurrection power. In John 11, we find that Jesus' good friend Lazarus had died. When Jesus arrived Lazarus had "already been in the tomb four days." Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha, were beside themselves with grief. Read John 11:1-44 for the entire story. When Jesus arrived, Martha went to meet Him and said, "Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died." She showed faith that Jesus could have healed her brother.
When Jesus told her that Lazarus would "rise again," she thought He meant "the resurrection of the dead in the last day." However, Jesus makes a climatic statement; a strong statement often quoted, but not often understood. Jesus declared about Himself not that He has resurrection power, but "I am the resurrection and the life." Resurrection power is centered in Jesus Christ Himself. This was not just a word of comfort for Martha, but a divine truth for humanity. For the sisters, it meant that Lazarus would rise from the grave. What does Jesus' resurrection power mean to us today?
Jesus lives even though he died. Jesus even arranged his own resurrection. On at least three occasions, Jesus foretold His arrest, beating, crucifixion and resurrection on the third day. See Mark 8:31-33; 9:31; 10:32-34. Even though the disciples did not understand these teachings, in them He established what would happen. Because he is "the Resurrection and the Life," he had to rise again. You can't keep the Resurrection and the Life in a tomb or conceal his glory. After He was risen, "He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once" (I Corinthians 15:6).
Many see physical death as the final end and tend to live selfishly for the here and now. But Jesus said "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." The body may die, but the eternal soul goes to be with the Lord. Death for a believer is but the gateway to true and eternal life. For the Christian, eternal death in a place called "hell" is not possible. Jesus said, "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." Romans 6:23 tells us the good news that "the Gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eternal life does not begin when you die, but when you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! As a believer, your eternal life has already begun. Jesus asked Martha and us, "Do you believe this?"
The old hymn says goes like this; "We serve a risen Savior who's in the world today; I know that he is living, whatever men may say; I see his hand of mercy, I hear his voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him He's always near. He lives, He lives, . . . He lives within my heart."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Main Thing

Quote: “I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.” --Henry Ward Beecher

The Greatest Commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30 NIV).
A few years back, here in Texas, we had an outstanding evangelism leader who always encouraged churches and individual Christians to "keep the main thing the main thing." In our passage, Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms what the main thing is. When Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment, he did not hesitate to give us the Great Commandment. Love is the heart of the Christian life -- like the old hymn: "Love is the Theme; love is supreme. . ." And the most important thing for us is our love for God because our ability to love others depends upon our love for our Lord.
Let's not forget that knowing the Great Commandment and living it out are two different things. If we do in fact love God according to the Great Commandment, the first indication will be our joyful obedience to His other commands and instructions which includes loving others. You cannot love God and continue to do as you like. You cannot love God and disobey him. Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching" (John 14:23 NIV).
If you say you love God but do not obey him, you do not love him the way the Great Commandment describes. If our love for God is not complete, then trying to be obedient becomes burdensome, unpleasant and futile. True love for our Lord expresses itself in sincere worship and joyful obedience.
Immediately following the Great Commandment, Jesus said, "The second (greatest commandment) is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these" (Mark 12:31 NIV). If we first love God with all our hearts, we will gladly obey him by loving others as God has loved us. Even John 3:16 is all about God's love for us -- the most powerful force in all creation. If we combine the Great Commandment with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), we have our spiritual marching orders as believers. We are to love God, love others and go and tell the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Listen to these words: My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. (1 John 4:7-8 MSG). Enough said.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pitfalls of Pride

Chuckle: "Pride is like a beard. It just keeps growing. The solution? Shave it every day!"
Ponder This: "If he could see how small a vacancy his death would leave, the proud man would think less of the place he occupies." --Ernest LeGouve

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit among the oppressed than to share the plunder with the proud" (Proverbs 16:18-19 NIV). "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2 NIV).
Pride is the antithesis of humility. Bible teacher and pastor, M. R. De Haan, said this about humility: "Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have." Pride is at the root of all sins and is a terrible enemy of the Christian. Ironically, proud people seldom realize that pride is their problem, although everyone around them is well aware of it. The Bible says that God hates pride. That's why, when it pops up in our lives, God allows and brings things into our lives to humble us, and make us more dependent upon Him.

Pride lays at the root of Adam and Eve's downfall and our own. C.S. Lewis said, "It was through pride that the devil became the devil." Pride has become entrenched in our human nature; we think we can make it through life on our own power. Yet everything we have comes from God. Ask yourself the question Paul asked the Corinthian Christians: What do you have that you did not receive? God is the source of everything. Thus, none of us has reason to be proud.

So how can we overcome pride and replace it with humility? We begin by putting ourselves into proper perspective, seeing ourselves as God sees us in relationship to him. When we look to God, we grasp our unworthiness. Yet humility doesn't come from putting ourselves down. It comes from acknowledging and glorifying God, seeing Him as the source of all we are and all we have. In His love, God accepts us unconditionally and lifts us to higher ground. He shows us that we are His children, made in His image, adopted into His family as sons and daughters!

Another antidote to pride is gratitude. Whenever we accomplish anything in life, we can choose to be proud or grateful. As we realize that we accomplish nothing without God, we must choose gratitude, giving the glory to Him for all He does for us.

We can't have prideful hearts and maintain a right relationship with God. God doesn't need our accomplishments, nor is He interested in our vainglory. He wants us! Christ wants us to cultivate humble hearts that bow before His grace and His cross - the ultimate example of humility. Someone once said, "Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself one way or the other at all." Today, reflect on yourself in relationship with God and thank Him for all He has accomplished in your life. Bring your achievements to Him in gratitude and lay them at His feet, while blessing Him for His goodness to you.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Finishing the Race

Chuckle: "Never test the depth of the water with both feet."
Ponder This: "Anybody can do their best, but we are helped by the Spirit of God to do better than our best." --Catherine Bramwell-Booth

The apostle Paul said of his life, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful" (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT).
Have you experienced frustration and disappointment from starting a project and not finishing it? I have. There is a pleasant sense of peace and satisfaction when we complete a task, a journey, or an assignment, especially when we know we have given it our best effort. I have often asked myself this question: "When I come to the end of my life, will I be able to say with the apostle Paul that I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful to my Lord?"
Paul often used athletic metaphors in describing the Christian life. He pictured Christians competing, not against one another, but for the prize from God awaiting those who faithfully run the race. Paul knew he would be rewarded not by applause of men, but by Christ whom he loved and served. To win a race, an athlete must begin strong, remain strong, and finish strong if he is to be a winner. Some jump out to a quick lead, but begin to fade as they grow fatigued and do not have the reserve strength to finish strong.
Living the Christian life is hard work -- it requires continued effort and commitment, not unlike running a race. You may think that once you receive Jesus Christ as Savior your struggles have ended, but this is not the way Christ works in us. The term "babes in Christ" is used in Scripture to describe new and immature Christians. When we are born again, we are weak baby Christians in the same way a newborn baby is weak and requires a lot of nourishment, exercise, and parental care.
It is God's plan that we grow in strength and knowledge of him and that we become increasingly more productive for his kingdom. He wants you to grow in your faith and your understanding of his nature and plan for your life. Making a public commitment to Christ is a first step in running the race, but It is only the beginning of a life-long journey of devotion to the cause of Christ.
In ancient Roman athletic games, a laurel wreath was awarded to the winners. As a symbol of triumph and honor, it was the most coveted prize. This is likely what Paul was referring to when he goes on to say, "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 for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return" (2 Timothy 4:8 NLT).
Although Paul would not receive an earthly reward, he would be rewarded in heaven. Whatever you may face -- discouragement, hardships, persecution -- you can be assured of your reward Christ will give you in eternity. Our faithfulness is proven each day by our faithful endurance in the race of life.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dealing With Anxiety

Chuckle: Why is it that when a door is open, it's ajar, but when a jar is open, it's not adoor?
Quote: “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, But only empties today of its strength.” -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ"  (Philippians 4:6 NIV).
The New Living Translation renders the first phrase of our passage as, "Don't worry about anything." Worry has been defined as "a small trickle of fear that meanders through the mind until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained." Anxiety can literally incapacitate us and render us useless in life. How high is your number on the "anxiety/worry meter?" Does worry, anxiety, stress, and restlessness rule your life? Does worry and anxiety keep you from being a happy and contented person?
In our society, worry contributes to stress which has been identified as a major cause of all sorts of physical and emotional disorders from coronary disease and strokes to obesity. But God's children are instructed, and given the resources, not to be anxious or worry. God is well aware of all the things in our lives that have the potential for causing anxiety, worry, and stress. And, in our passage today, he uses the apostle Paul to teach us to react in a healthy way to these circumstances.
Paul was writing from prison. He was separated from those he loved. Some were attempting to undermine and discredit all he had accomplished in starting churches. He was suffering physically and emotionally and was facing execution. Even in the face of these hardships, Paul said there would never be a crisis so severe and overwhelming that God would not bring peace even in the midst of it. Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27 NIV).
God has never promised to remove all the stresses of life, but he will always carry the load for you if only you will let him do so. He wants each of us to experience the peace that surpasses all human understanding -- a supernatural peace. This peace is for everyone that knows Christ as Savior and Lord. But if we aren't careful, we will take the view that the troubles we are enduring are just too big and complicated to be accompanied by inner peace. To have this view is to limit God's power to work in your life. We're saying God can't do what he says He will do!
We must take God at his word. His Word clearly indicates there is nothing you can face that is to big, difficult, troubling, or fearful for Him. In all circumstances, turn your worry, stress, and anxiety over to Him and have faith that His perfect peace will guard your heart. Paul tells us to turn our worries into prayers. Whenever you start to worry, stop and pray. Remember, "Worry is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere!"
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, March 23, 2018

Apathy, A Moral Cancer

Chuckle: Sign on plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed!"
Quote: "Science may have found a cure for most evils, but is has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings." --Helen Keller
APATHY, A MORAL AND SPIRITUAL CANCER
 "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned (apathetic); they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with (destroyed) them as you have seen"(Ezekiel 16:49-50 NIV).
Someone was asked if he knew the difference between ignorance and apathy. His reply: "I don't know and I don't care." I'm afraid this describes the attitude of many of us both spiritually and socially. The Dictionary defines apathy as "A lack of interest or concern; indifference. (Public apathy resulted in a light voter turnout)."
When elections come around, a large segment of the adult population will not care enough to even cast a ballot. But sadly, many of those same apathetic Americans will gripe and complain if people they don't like are voted into office and make political decisions contrary to their values. I pray you are neither disinterested nor unconcerned when it comes to exercising your constitutional right and precious freedom to make your voice heard at the ballot box. Regardless of your political party affiliation, please care enough to cast your all important vote for those candidates who best exemplify the moral and spiritual standards set forth in God's Word. Your vote could make the difference in a close election.
Sadly, apathy is not limited to the political process -- it is also alive and well in the spiritual realm among many who call themselves Christians. It is God's will that His people be actively involved in evangelizing and ministering to the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of people. Being apathetic about the things of God is disgusting to Him. He is not interested in our offerings, ceremonies and celebrations if we are apathetic about the plight of those around us.
God said, "Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, plead the case of the widow" (Isaiah 1:17 NIV). "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies . . . Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" (Amos 5:21, 23-24 NIV).
Jesus is concerned about the apathy of His followers as workers in His harvest fields. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send workers into his harvest field" (Matthew 9:36-38 NIV).
Let's pray. Lord, please rearrange my heart, mind, and will to make me intolerant of the sin of apathy both in my relationship with you and in carrying out my civic and social responsibilities. In Jesus' name, Amen.
 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fear or Faith

Chuckle: Diner: “Waiter! You have your finger on my steak!” Waiter: “Well, I don’t want it to fall on the floor again.”
Quote: “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ increase us in faith and truth and gentleness, and grant us part and lot among His Saints.” --St Polycarp

“God is able to do superabundantly, for over and above, all that we dare ask or think. Infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams” (Ephesians 3:20 AMP). “According to your faith, it will be done to you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV).
We can approach life in one of two ways – by fear or by faith. If we live by fear, we will view every circumstance with pessimism, and concentrate on what we’re afraid will happen rather than what we want and expect to happen. Even Job, the great man of faith, found himself living by fear. “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25 NIV). Or you can live by faith and view every circumstance with optimism. If we live by faith, we expect God’s promised presence and power to be available to us in every situation and will not allow ourselves to live with fear and dread.
Unfortunately, many Christians never tap into God’s abundant resources He has made available to us. We know, intellectually, that God is all powerful and can distribute that power whenever and wherever He chooses. However, because of our lack of faith, we miss seeing the evidence of God’s power. There have been times in my life when I prayed but didn’t really expect God to do what I asked. My expectations translated into a lack of faith. The key that unlocks God’s power in your life is really simple: It’s faith.
The law of expectations says, basically, we get what we expect in life. We see what we expect to see; feel what we expect to feel; act the way we expect to act; and eventually, achieve what we expect to achieve. Your expectations influence your happiness, your relationships, and even your health. Because of our faith, or lack of faith, our expectations as to what God will do influence what God actually does. This is because “according to your faith, it will be done to you.”
The words of Jesus, in our text, tell us Jesus did not immediately respond to the pleas of some blind men to have their sight restored. Jesus waited to see if they had faith. There may have been times in your life when you thought God wouldn’t answer your prayers, or was much to slow in answering. It could be that God was testing your faith as Jesus did with the blind men. Do you desire and expect God’s help in dealing with your problems?
Fear and faith are demonstrated in the story of David and Goliath. In fear, everyone but David saw the giant as too big and powerful for them to defeat. But, by faith, David saw him as a target much too big for him to miss with his deadly slingshot. What are your goliaths in life and how do you approach them – by fear or by faith?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Flawless Message

Chuckle: "If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple car payments!"
Quote: "The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others." --Albert Schweitzer

"But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).
Previously, we considered that we all are imperfect messengers for our Lord. Our flaws are many. But today, we can praise God that his message to the world is flawless, perfect, and everlasting. "For God so loved the world" is the refrain that echoes throughout all eternity as God's motivation for giving his one and only Son. Because of His great love, God gave us a way to have all our sins and blemishes removed forever.
The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1500 years. Its writers included kings, shepherds, physicians, fishermen, and many others. The 66 books contain no contradictions, no variance in God's message, and paint a clear, unmistakable, and error free word picture of God's amazing love and eternal plan to reconcile human beings to himself through the atoning blood sacrifice of his one and only Son. The message is as perfect as the Almighty God who authored it by his Spirit. Paul, as we must, kept this truth in mind as he dealt with imperfect and sinful people.
The flawless/perfect message of Jesus should be our focus. - Paul never said that the character and conduct of the messengers is unimportant. But, he has a single-minded passion and personal goal that all people should hear the gospel message. As long as the gospel is being preached to the lost, he could overlook the flaws in the character of those who were trying to injure him. It is not our job to judge the motives of others, but rather to be faithful in proclaiming God's message.
Unfortunately, in church life, some people are more concerned with the protection of their feelings than with the proclamation of the gospel message. They always want their way and walk around with a chip on their shoulder -- they are easily offended. Their passion is their own egos and selfish desires. My prayer is that your church may be free of such petty and selfish motives and be completely united in carrying out the church's most important task -- proclaiming the perfect message of Jesus Christ.
The flawless message of Jesus should cause us to rejoice. "And because of this I rejoice" (Philippians 1:18). Paul joyfully endured his imprisonment and the imperfections of others because through it all people were coming to Christ. You too may have to endure hardships to serve the Lord. And in order to do that joyfully, as Paul did, the gospel message must become bigger, and more important to you than your own life and desires. Do you have that kind of joy?
"The minister of the gospel must not be afraid of conflict with the wisdom of the world. Gregory the Great said, 'God first gathered the unlearned, afterwards philosophers, nor has He taught fishermen by orators, but has subdued orators by fishermen.'"
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Flawed Messengers

Chuckle: "Do you realize that in about 40 years we'll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos?"
Quote: "Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth." --Henry David Thoreau

"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will . . . But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice" (Philippians 1:15, 18 NIV).
In recent years, we have seen some prominent preachers go down in disgrace because of personal greed, ambition, sexual misconduct, dishonesty, etc. What a tragedy it is when men and women of God lose sight of the One they serve and become influenced by the standards of the world. All of us, as Christians, whether preachers or not, should say: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." All of us are wise to be on guard and keep our eyes upon Jesus so that our testimony is not discredited by sin in our lives. Whether we are preachers, teachers, or serving our Lord in some other capacity, we are all flawed messengers -- some more than others. We are all sinners saved by grace. Yet, Paul rejoiced if the message was being preached, regardless of the sinful motives of the ones doing the preaching. God can use His message for good regardless of the flaws in the messengers.
Flawed people sometimes attempt to serve the Lord with sinful hearts. "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry" (vs.15). Unfortunately preachers don't always practice what they preach. The same was true in Rome in Paul's day. How can one preach the One who cleanses from sin while still intentionally sinning himself? Sadly, it happened in Paul's day, and it happens in our day as well.
Flawed people should serve the Lord with sincere hearts. ". . . some preach Christ . . . out of goodwill" (vs. 15). Remember, that though good men may be sincere, they are not perfect. Even the best of us are at best only flawed human beings. Paul says in Philippians 3:12, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect (mature), but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Paul's confessions about his own imperfections are sobering. "What a wretched man I am!" (Romans 7:24). "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst" (2 Timothy 1:15). Thank God for his imperfect servants who are nonetheless sincere in what they do for Him. And thank God for his forgiveness and cleansing (I John 1:9).
Flawed people sometimes serve the Lord with sinful motives. "The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains" (vs..17). "Some preach Christ out of false motives" (vs..18). Paul certainly had his enemies in the church at Rome, and they saw his imprisonment as an opportunity to demonstrate their perceived superiority over him. Preachers often deal with the temptation to promote self rather than the gospel. No matter who you are or what you do for the Lord, be careful of your motives and heed Paul's admonition. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit" (Philippians 2:2). Beware of what lurks in the heart, for "when the Lord comes, He . . . will expose the motives of men's hearts" (I Corinthians 4:5).
Flawed people should serve the Lord with pure motives. "The latter do so in love" (vs.16). Sincere servants of the Lord are motivated by their love and gratitude toward God, His Word, and the people for whom He gave His Son. Wise preachers, teachers, and other Christians, in spite of their failures and flaws, should make God's love the obvious motive for their service to the Lord.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, March 19, 2018

Kindness, Requested or Not

Chuckle: Patient: "Help me, Doc. I can't remember anything for more than a few minutes. It's driving me crazy!" Doctor: "How long has this been going on?" Patient: "How long has what been going on?"
Quote: "Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence and learning." –Frederick W. Faber'

"Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you" (Joshua 2:12 NLT).
Everyone desires to experience kindness. When someone shows an act of kindness to us, it makes us feel loved and accepted. It tells us we have value in the eyes of the one offering the kindness and encourages us to make similar gestures to others who may need of our kindness and compassion.
The words in our passage were spoken by Rahab, the prostitute, who had hidden the spies sent by Joshua to gather strategic information about the promised land, especially about the city of Jericho, in preparation for the upcoming battle. She had risked her life to give shelter to the Israelite spies in her house which was likely built into the city wall. God directed the spies to Rahab's house because He knew her heart was receptive to Him and that she could provide the key to a successful siege of Jericho. Even her sordid past did not prevent God from using her to accomplish His purpose.
Rahab was aware that as the warriors of the Israelite army advanced across the promised land, their reputation preceded them and it was well known that the one and only true God was with them and helped them conquer every foe. In return for her help, Rahab asked only for kindness, not for herself alone but for her entire family. I'm sure the two spies understood the dangers facing Rahab if her king found out that she was aiding and abetting the enemy. "We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety," the men agreed. "If you don't betray us, we will keep our promise when the LORD gives us the land" (vs. 14 NLT).
Rahab's request for kindness came because she saw something special and good in the spies. Do people see in your life the evidence of the God you serve? Is God's power revealed in you to the extent that people realize the authenticity of your faith and are drawn to you. If so, more than likely they will seek your kindness with questions about God. How open are you to the need to show kindness even if it is not requested. God shows kindness toward us because He loves us. Shouldn't we show kindness to others for the same reason -- because we love them. . . .
The greatest kindness you can offer anyone is to share your testimony about God's great love and what He has done for you. Your act of kindness can be used by the Holy Spirit to draw people into God's kingdom through their faith in Jesus Christ.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, March 16, 2018

Future Generations

Chuckle: When the Duke of Windsor was asked what impressed him most in America, he replied, "the way American parents obey their children."
Good Quote: "When Christians are safe and comfortable, the church is in its greatest danger" --William Arthur Ward

"Future generations will also serve him. Our children will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn. They will hear about everything he has done" (Psalm 22:30-31 NLT).
Whether we're speaking of physical life or spiritual life, healthy societies are highly concerned about the well-being of their future generations. They willingly sacrifice today to make for a better tomorrow for their children and grandchildren. I wonder if our society has lost its way in this area.
We tend to be a self-centered people who want everything to fulfill our own selfish desires, and we want it right now. We see parents who couldn't care less about preparing their children for their future as long as their own selfish appetites are being satisfied today. Socrates said to the people of Athens: "Why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you will relinquish all?"
I have often heard statements like: "The church is only one generation away from extinction." Such a statement reflects concern that today's Christians are being negligent in reaching and teaching the next generation of believers. If you and I don't teach our children and grandchildren the things of God, who will? If not now, when? In our passage, the Psalmist was confident that God's people would be faithful from generation to generation to proclaim the wonders of God and His righteousness. I wonder, is his confidence justified in our time?
The spiritual well-being of yet unborn generations depends upon our faithfulness today. It is God's desire that each generation teach the next; but if we fail to teach our children about the Lord, we risk breaking the chain of God's influence in the generations to come. When we look into the faces of children and teenagers, we see the future leaders in Christianity and our society. Are you and I being faithful in teaching our children and grandchildren the things of God? Are you actively trying to lead them to a saving faith in Jesus Christ?
If we expect our children and grandchildren to grow up serving the Lord, they need to hear about Him from us by our words and the way we live. We should not rely solely on pastors, Sunday School teachers, or others with more knowledge than we to provide their Christian education. They need to hear it from us in the home. "Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it" (Proverbs 22:6 NLT). How are you and I doing?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Daily Dependence Upon God

Chuckle: "What'll you do when you are as big as your father?" "Diet," replied the young boy.
Quote: "Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake." --Victor Hugo

"Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God!" (Psalm 3:7a NIV). "So be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord!" (Psalm 31:24 NIV).
Each of us can draw a valuable lesson from the experiences and words of King David. As David awoke from his peaceful sleep (verse 5), he asked God to guide his every move throughout the day and rescue him from his enemies. David's enemies were the advancing armies of his rebellious son, Absalom, but we face our own enemies every day. Peter warns us, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).
If we are to live the victorious life, we too must learn to call on the Lord for guidance and deliverance day by day. "From the LORD comes deliverance" (Ps. 3:8a). We must learn to trust in Him for the victory each day that He alone can win for us. Every day we need God's power to help us defend ourselves from the wiles of Satan and the evil accomplices he has working for him.
This attitude of dependence on God is sometimes difficult for us, because, after all, "I'm pretty good at taking care of my self." For this attitude of dependence to take root in our lives, we must humble ourselves to the point that we realize that without God we can do nothing that really matters (John 15:5b NIV).
A good habit that can help us stay dependent upon our Lord, is the use of "breath prayers." This is a habit which takes time to develop, but the ultimate outcome should be a brief, one breath, prayer before we make each daily decision facing us whether minor or major. "Lord help me make the right decision in this matter."
Paul tells us to "let this attitude (mind) be in you that is also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). It is God's desire to make us more like Jesus every day. If He is to do this, we must make ourselves shapeable in His hands like clay is to the potter. As we depend upon Him for strength and allow ourselves to be molded into the likeness of Jesus, then our minds/attitudes will become more and more like His.
Let's learn from David. Each morning when you awaken, take a moment to express your dependence on God and ask for His guidance and deliverance from evil influences during the day. Then follow this up during the day with breath prayers as you seek God's help in dealing with each issue you face. Ask God to give you the strength to walk in victory every moment of every day.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Deeply Troubled

Chuckle: Geography teacher: "Who can describe the English Channel?" Student: "We don't get that channel on our TV."
Good Quote: "A healthy (pure) conscience tugs at the concealed sin in our lives as though it were God's hidden hand." --Unknown source

"While Paul waited for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city" (Acts 17:16 NLT).
We live in a society deeply engrossed in political correctness and tolerance of any and all lifestyles and immoral behavior. Is your spirit troubled by what you see? Tolerance is a good thing up to a point, but when it leads to complacency about things that are clearly wrong according to God's Word, even tolerance can become a sin.
Jesus tells us we are to be "salt and Light" in an evil world -- that we are to be an influence for that which is good, pure, holy, and true. The path of least resistance is to set back and let the world go by without lifting a finger or a voice against the corruption that permeates our communities and our nation. Are you deeply troubled by the deterioration in moral standards in your family, your community and your nation?
In our passage, the apostle Paul was deeply troubled by the idolatry and sinful living by the people of Athens. The Athenians were tolerant of any and all idolatry and conduct among the people. Paul was troubled to the point that he had to confront the Christian Jews and God-fearing Greeks. We should do as Paul did; look around us at the idols and be moved to do our part to represent Christ in our homes, schools, communities, clubs, workplaces, etc. If not now, when? If not you, who? Today's idols may be money, power, success, popularity, or false religions. Is our nation any different than Athens?
The gradual drift toward unbridled tolerance for sin can be traced to moral decay and sinful practices in our own lives. We can fill our minds with immoral images from television, movies, video games, and other media; and slowly and subtly we begin to compromise our moral standards. We become less and less offended by what we see. Then we not only tolerate those sinful images, but come to enjoy them. Our spiritual senses become dulled, our holiness is compromised, and we become useless to God as His ambassadors and messengers.
If we as God's people, are to influence our society for good --integrity, morality, and holiness, we must begin with our own hearts and lives. We need pure consciences and godly actions. We should not blend in with the rest of a corrupt society. Instead, we should be a positive influence by following the example of Jesus who hates sin while loving the sinner.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Door to Your Heart

Chuckle: Child's comment on marriage: "No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with." -- Kristen, age 10
Good Quote: “Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.” --Zig Ziglar

    "Look! Here I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends" (Revelation 3:20 NLT).
Our passage is from a letter from Jesus to the church at Laodicea. This was a church that had become comfortable with the status quo. It was wealthy and lacked for nothing, but had lost its vision for what a New Testament church should be. The people had become complacent and self-centered and Jesus accused them of being "lukewarm" and disgusting to Him. He said he was going to "spew" them out of his mouth because they were neither hot nor cold. Christ was showing the Laodiceans that true value is not in material possessions but in a right relationship with God.
Our desire for money, pleasure, material possessions can be dangerous because their temporary satisfaction can cause us to be indifferent to God's offer of lasting fulfillment and happiness. In reality, our possessions and achievements are worthless when compared with the everlasting future of Christ's Kingdom. But Jesus had not given up on the Laodiceans, and neither has He given up on us. If your relationship with our Lord has become lukewarm, He wants you to repent and return to Him.
In our passage, Jesus is standing at the door of our "lukewarm" hearts. He is knocking on our heart's door and calling out for us to open the door. But if we are doing our own things behind the locked door of our turned away hearts, we will no longer hear God because we are too busy disobeying the greatest commandment: "Love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30 NIV). If our hearts are turned away from God, we do not want to hear God. We want to do our own thing. Notice that Jesus didn't assume that he would be heard. He said, "if" anyone hears my voice. We can easily get so far away from God that we can no longer hear his voice.
Notice that Jesus does not break down the door to our hearts, but gently and lovingly knocks and calls out for our attention. He allows us to decide whether or not we will listen to his call and open the door. Have you found yourself deliberately and intentionally keeping Christ's life-changing presence and power on the other side of the firmly locked door of your heart? If so, you would do well to open your heart to Him in an attitude of repentance and let Him restore your joy. Say to God: I'm wrong; I'm sorry; please forgive me; cleanse me; empower me anew with your Spirit; and use me once again as your vessel for your glory!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, March 12, 2018

Attitude Control

Chuckle: The Judge said to the defendant, "I thought I told you I never wanted to see you in here again." "Your Honor," the criminal replied, "that's what I tried to tell the police, but they wouldn't listen!"
Quote: “The control center of your life is your attitude.” --Unknown source

"Why am I discouraged? Why am I sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:11 NLT).
Each morning when we rise, each of us has choices to make that will determine the kind of day we will have--the kind of attitude will we display as we interact with others. We can choose to be discouraged, pessimistic, grumpy, and down-in-the-mouth, or we can choose to rejoice in the Lord and expect a wonderful day in His presence. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24 NIV).
Making such choices may not always be easy, especially if you are suffering from a physical problem or facing a difficult and challenging day. But only you and I can make such choices. You may not always have control of your circumstances, but you always have complete control of your attitude. When we have trouble with our attitudes it's usually because we are thinking only of ourselves. "Woe is me" is a prevalent attitude of the pessimist because "it's all about me" and my problems.
The apostle Paul had this to say about our attitudes: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 NIV). Paul goes on to describe how Jesus humbled Himself and took on the very nature of a servant. If you are feeling sorry for yourself, try focusing your attention on the needs of others and what you can do to help. Happiness is somewhat like a butterfly. When you try to chase it down, it is very elusive, but when you go about your business with a healthy attitude, it will often light on your shoulder when you least expect it. With the right attitude, happiness will find you without your having to search for it.
Each morning, try praising God and focusing your attention on the One who can turn all your adverse circumstances around according to His will, or give you the strength and courage to see you through them. When you choose a positive and upbeat attitude, you will be ready to affect the kind of day you will have. Just meditate on our Lord and what He has done, and continues to do, for you and He will help you control your attitude.
Love, Jerry & Dotse