Friday, June 29, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit -- Peace

Chuckle: A Texas cowboy bought a Dachshund when someone told him to "get a long little dogie!"
Quote: “Drop Thy still dews of quietness, Till all our strivings cease; Take from our souls the strain and stress, And let our ordered lives confess The beauty of Thy peace.” --John Greenleaf Whittier

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). "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. . . . But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:16,22 NIV).
There is a painting titled "Peace.” It depicts waves crashing against jagged rocks along the seashore. It portrays the violence of a crushing storm. It seems anything but peaceful. But down in a small corner of the painting, tucked away in the rocks, is a little bird sitting on her nest totally oblivious to the raging storm all about. That is peace. Do you have genuine peace?
"Peace," a word that describes what we all want. It communicates serenity, quietness, contentment, and comfort. Spiritual Peace is a sense of well-being and fulfillment that comes from God and is dependent upon His presence. To try to define genuine peace by any other criteria is to devalue peace as a fruit of the Spirit. Many search for inner peace without knowing the true source or are unwilling to trust that true source. We cannot obtain peace without the help of God Himself. Notice in our above passage that Jesus wants to give us "His" peace. "My peace I give you."
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).
The Greek word eirene corresponds to the Hebrew shalom expressing the idea of peace, well-being, restoration, reconciliation with God, and salvation in the fullest sense. The Bible tells us that God is "the God of peace" (Romans 15:33; Philippians 4:9). The Gospel is "the good news of peace" (Ephesians 6:15; Acts 10:36) because it announces the reconciliation of believers to God and to one another (Ephesians 2:12-18). In both the Old and the New Testaments, spiritual peace is realized in being rightly related -- rightly related to God and rightly related to one another.
Love, Jerry & Dotse2

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit -- Joy

Chuckle: How would the world be different if people didn't get married? "There would be a lot of children to explain, wouldn't there?" --Kelvin, age 8
Quote: “The Kingdom of God is simply God’s power enthroned in our hearts. Faith in the Kingdom of God is what makes us light of heart and what Christian joy is all about.” –John Main Moment of Christ

"By their fruit you will recognize them (Christ's followers)" (Matthew 7:16 NIV). "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. . . . But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:16,22 NIV).
The Greek word for "joy" also means "delight." It’s used elsewhere in the New Testament. For example, there is joy or rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents and turns to God (Luke 15:7,10). Joy for Christians is the fruit of a right relationship with God.
Is there a difference "happiness" and "joy"? We tend to view happiness largely as the result of circumstances we experience in life. However, joy, as a fruit of the Spirit, is of supernatural origin and does not result from earthly circumstances, but from knowing and serving our Lord. It springs from so deep inside God's grace that even the most adverse circumstances cannot take it away. The Bible says, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV).
Again, since joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, it is not something people can create by their own efforts. The Bible distinguishes joy from pleasure. The Greek word for pleasure is the word from which we get our word hedonism, the philosophy of the self-centered and pleasure-seeking. Paul referred to false teachers as "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:4 NIV).
Many people think that God is the great "Kill-Joy." Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus spoke of His own joy and of the full joy He had come to bring to others (John 15:11; 17:13). He illustrated the kingdom of heaven by telling about the joy of a man who found treasure (Matthew 13:44). Zacchaeus was in a tree when Jesus called him, but he quickly climbed down and received Jesus joyfully (Luke 19:6). He had found life's ultimate treasure in Christ.
A Christian's joy is in direct proportion to his/her walk with the Lord. We can rejoice because we are in the Lord (Philippians 4:4). Joy is a fruit of a Spirit-led life (Galatians. 5:22). Sin in a believer's life robs him/her of joy (Psalm 51:8,12). When a person walks closely with the Lord, he/she can continue to rejoice even when troubles come.
Joy in the Lord enables people to enjoy all that God has given them. They share with other believers the joys and sorrows of life: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). It’s a wonderful testimony about God's grace when we reflect the joy the Holy Spirit places in our hearts. Such joy can certainly influence others who may not know Christ as Savior and Lord. Real joy is contagious. .!!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit -- Love

Chuckle: When is it OK to kiss someone: "The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that." --Curt, age 7
Quote: “There is a comfort in the strength of love: ‘Twill make a thing endurable, which else Would overset the brain, or break the heart.” --William Wordsworth

Jesus said, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last" (John 15:16 NIV). "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. . . . But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:16,22 NIV).
Jesus has called each of us to bear fruit for his kingdom. We must remember that the Spirit produces fruit in a Christian's life. The Christian is the conduit through whom the Spirit produces the fruit. The first fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions is "love." This overused word has many meanings, and before we can understand its importance as a fruit of the Spirit, we must understand what the word means as it is used here in our Scripture passage. The Greek word here is "Agape," an unconditional, self-sacrificing, and giving love -- the kind of love Jesus has for us.
This Christian love of which Paul wrote is different from the love we normally experience and speak about. Christian love is not simply a warm and fuzzy emotion which arises because of the character of the one loved. It is not due to the loving quality of the lover. It is a relationship of self-giving which results from God's activity in Christ. This kind of love is instilled in us by the Holy Spirit. It is an action word -- our actions demonstrate this kind of God-given love. A great definition of this kind of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, which reads in part:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV).
It's easy to tell someone you love them with words, but when your actions demonstrate that love, it is much more believable and more likely to positively impact the life of the one being loved. The Christian life is to be characterized by love so that Paul could even speak of "walking in love" (Rom. 14:15 NIV). The Christian is to increase and abound in love (1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV).
"In a boiler room, it is impossible to look into the boiler to see how much water it contains. But running up the outside is a tiny glass tube, that serves as a gauge. As the water stands in the little tube, so it stands in the boiler. When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; if it is empty, so is the boiler. How do you know you love God? You believe you love him, but you want to know. Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother or sister is the measure of your love for God."
One last thought. When we love people as Jesus loves us, it will add great credibility to our witness as we try to reach people for Christ. It will let people know we are genuine -- the real deal -- as Christians. Thus, love is crucial if people are to be born into God's kingdom -- the ultimate in fruit bearing.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Fruit Bearing

Chuckle: "What are the sins of omission," a teacher asked a Sunday School class. One man answered: "Those are the sins we should have committed and did not. . .!" (Check this man's response against the true definition in James 4:17).
Quote: “The last, best fruit which comes to late perfection, even in the kindliest soul, is tenderness toward the hard, forbearance toward the unforbearing, warmth of heart toward the cold, philanthropy toward the misanthropic.” --Jean P. Richter
"I am the vine; and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . .This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:5-8 NIV).
Bearing fruit is a normal and healthy function of a tree and its branches. Nothing is more true in the physical world and nothing is more true in the spiritual world. Spiritually healthy Christians bear fruit. Jesus was uncanny in his ability to use metaphors, allegories, and examples from the physical world to teach valuable spiritual truths.
Here's my definition of bearing fruit: "Anything you do as a Christian that benefits other people (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) for the glory of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit working through you." This means our character becomes like Jesus; we are generous in our giving; we please God through our praise worship; and we influence people to be drawn to Christ. Jesus was saying that He, as the vine, would provide to and through us (the branches) all the spiritual nutrients, power, and abilities to bear much fruit for the glory of the Father. "It is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit." Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11 NLT).
Like anything we try to do as Christians, the temptation is to try to bear fruit in our own strength, forgetting that we can do nothing (bear no fruit) that will be recognized as legitimate by our Lord without the power of the Vine (Holy Spirit) flowing through us. We sometimes try to do things for God without maintaining that intimate connection to God from whence comes our spiritual strength.
Jesus says we must remain (abide) in him to bear much fruit. What does this statement really mean? It means we stay connected to Christ and totally dependent upon Him for everything to keep us spiritually alive and productive. This allows us to do what is important to Him -- bearing fruit. The moment we allow unconfessed sin to remain in our lives, we become disconnected from the vine; His strength no longer is flowing through us; and we become ineffective as fruit bearers for our Lord. God wants us to produce fruit in the likeness of Christ, and he wants to remove anything from our lives that hinders us from "bearing much fruit."
For the next few days, I want to turn to the book of Galatians, where the apostle Paul presents a list of Christian characteristics known as the "fruit of the Spirit." These types of fruit, performed in the power of the Holy Spirit, qualify as "fruit" that Jesus was talking about in John 15. Here is a list of spiritual fruit, found in Galatians 5:22, that we will be addressing in coming days. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 25, 2018

Lord's Supper, Part 2

Chuckle: Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend. "Did you see the paper?" he asked. "They say I died!!" "Yes, I saw it!" his friend replied. "Where are you calling from?"
Good Quote: "Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see!" –Unknown source
"So if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, that person is guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking from the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup unworthily, not honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God's judgment upon yourself" (I Corinthians 11:27-29 NLT).
As we continue our lesson on the Lord's Supper, our passage instructs us in the "how" we should observe this ordinance -- in a manner worthy of the event we are commemorating. Paul gives specific instructions on how we should conduct ourselves during the observance.
1. As we saw in our last lesson, we should partake in the bread and juice with an attitude of humility and worship. The Lord’s Supper is a holy and sacred observance.
2. We should take the Lord's Supper thoughtfully because we are proclaiming that Christ died for our sins.
3. We should take it worthily, with due reverence and respect for our crucified and risen Lord.
4. We should examine ourselves for any unconfessed sin or resentful attitude and be properly prepared for the worship experience.
When Paul speaks of taking the Lord's Supper worthily, he is cautioning the church members who participate without thinking of its meaning. In reality, no one is worthy to take the Lord's Supper. We are all sinners saved by grace. This is why we should prepare our hearts and minds beforehand for communion with God through healthy introspection, confession of sin, and resolution of differences with our fellow Christians. Such actions will remove the barriers that affect our fellowship with Christ and with other believers.
We examine ours physical appearance in a mirror before going out, and we should examine our spiritual condition in the mirror of God's Word before partaking of the Lord's Supper. We should examine our relationship with our Lord, our motives for worship, and our relationships with others. Prior to taking the elements, we should use I John 1:9 as our guide, confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, and allow God to cleanse our lives of all characteristics which are contrary to His will for us. Then, and only then, are we adequately prepared to observe the Lord's Supper -- in a worthy manner with a profound attitude of worship and thanksgiving.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lord's Supper, Part 1

Chuckle: "My wife and I always hold hands. If I let go, she shops!" --Red Skelton
Good Quote : "God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do." --Regina Brett

   On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it." For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord's death until he comes again" (I Corinthians 11:23-26 NLT). Also see Matthew 26:17-30.
The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the events leading up to Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.  It is an ordinance of the church, instituted by Jesus himself the evening before his crucifixion, which is observed by the various Christian denominations and congregations.  It is called by different names: Lord's Supper, Last Supper, Communion, Holy Communion, etc.  However, for every Christian body of believers the observance of the Lord's Supper should be a worshipful experience.
What does the Lord's Supper mean?  The early church remembered that Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper on the night of the Passover meal (Luke 22:13-20).  Just as Passover celebrated deliverance from slavery in Egypt for God's people, so the Lord's Supper celebrates our deliverance from sin by Christ’s atoning and sacrificial death.
The Lord's Supper is designed to:
    (1) Remind us regularly of the death of Jesus. It's somewhat strange that those who have been saved by the shed-blood of Jesus would need a reminder, but that's the way it is.  We remember what he did and why he did it.
    (2) Remind us of the nature of Jesus' death.  By partaking of the bread and wine (juice), the Christian remembers the manner of Jesus death. It was excruciatingly painful and bloody.
    (3) Show Jesus' death until he comes again.  When he comes again to claim his church, believers will then enjoy Jesus' constant, and eternal presence and the joy he brings.
The Lord's Supper is important because:
    (1) It is an act of obedience.  There is little, or no, disagreement among Christians that it is a commandment to be obeyed.  Obedience to our Lord's commands and instructions is an indication of our gratitude and love for him.
    (2) It reminds us of the significance of Jesus' death.  He paid the penalty for our sins by his sacrifice of himself on the cross.
    (3) It is an act of worship.  It provides opportunity for reflection, confession, and repentance, as well as thanksgiving, and praise for what Christ has done for us.
    (4) It provides opportunity for Christian fellowship in worship.  By observing the Lord's supper together, believers show solidarity and oneness in their faith.
"We come to the Lord's Supper as sinners saved by grace, wholly unworthy of what God has done for us, but glad and grateful that we have been cleansed from the guilt, power, and penalties of sin. We claim not worthiness, but we claim the righteousness in Christ Jesus which is by faith, the righteousness of grace." --Millard J. Berquist
Christians generally agree that participating in the Lord's Supper is an important element in the Christian faith and that the Spirit of Christ's presence strengthens us spiritually. It is my hope and prayer that you will faithfully worship by observing the Lord's Supper regularly.  It can, and should, be one of the most fulfilling acts of worship available to us.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Example for Others, Part 3

Chuckle: A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done, we take her back to the airport."
Quote: “A good example is the best sermon.” --Benjamin Franklin
"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:7-8 NIV). "You became imitators of us and of the Lord; . . . and so you became a model to all believers . ." (I Thessalonians 1:6-7 NIV).
On a cold December day, a little barefoot boy was standing shivering on the sidewalk staring into the window of a shoe store. A lady walked up and asked him what he was doing. He said: "I was wishing God would give me a pair of shoes." The lady took him into the store and told the clerk to get six pairs of socks for the boy and also asked for a pan of warm water and a towel. She took the boy to the back of the store and washed and dried his little feet and put a pair of new socks on them. Then she bought him a pair of shoes and said: "There, you will feel better now." As she turned to leave, the little boy asked: "are you God's wife?"
What a great example of love and concern not only for the little boy, but for others in the store. As professing Christians, people are watching our every move. They're looking for something to criticize or for something genuinely good and real in which they can place their hope and trust. Remember, an example is a model or pattern to be followed or imitated. I hope you have the desire to model Christian character as an example for others. Paul said to Timothy, ". . . set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity" (I Timothy 4:12 NIV).
We all are aware of many prominent Christians who have disgraced their Lord and Christianity by scandalous behavior that destroyed their Christian testimony. Such well publicized occurrences have done much to harm the credibility of our faith. No doubt God would have each of us make it our personal responsibility to help create a positive attitude toward Christians and Christianity.
It would be well if each of us evaluated ourselves by asking: What kind of an example am I on the job -- at school -- in church -- as a pastor -- as a deacon -- as a Sunday School teacher -- as a parent -- as a neighbor?" Do I use the same profane words and tell the same dirty jokes as non-Christians? As a teacher/leader in the church, is my example a good one for members and other aspiring teachers? Am I setting an example of love, ministry, and service? Are my actions an example that I would want my children and grandchildren to follow when they become parents? Is my conduct sufficiently different to mark me as a Christian?
What is it that prevents you from saying: "Follow my example?" What needs to be included in, or excluded from, your life to make you a good example of Christian character? The power of an example cannot be overstated. The most frequent accusations against Christians by non-Christians have to do with our failure to set a Godly example by the way we live -- to practice what we preach .
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Example for Others, Part 2

Chuckle: Exhausted hiker: “I am so glad to see you! I’ve been lost for three days!” Other hiker: “Well, don’t get too excited. I’ve been lost for a week.”
Quote: “The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example.” --Thomas Morell
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us" (Ephesians 5:1 NIV).
Think back over your life and recount all the people whose lives have served as examples for you: parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, deacons, etc. Some may have been wholesome examples and others may have been the opposite. In all cases, it was ultimately your decisions about which examples you would imitate and whose values you would incorporate into your life. From the Bible, we find many examples available to us:
God Himself: God's purpose for our salvation is to lead us to imitate His character. He is revealed as having a pure, self-giving, self-sacrificing, and unconditional love for each of us. Thus His example is the way we should relate to one another -- Always loving and forgiving. Living a pure and holy life. "I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44 NIV).
Jesus Christ: "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:15 NIV). Along with His teachings, Jesus' life was an essential part of his message to us and his example gave even greater credibility to his words. He never told us to do anything he had not modeled for us. He lived a sinless life. As a servant, he demonstrated sacrificial service. He modeled godly service by humbling himself to wash the feet of His disciples (John 13), and by saying he didn't come to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Because Christ suffered for you . . . .leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps" (I Peter 2:21 NIV).
Bible Characters: They served as both good and bad examples. Some of them made serious blunders, and their examples show us things to avoid; like letting things of the world creep into our lives such as materialism, greed, idolatry, sexual misconduct, etc. "Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did" (I Corinthians 10:6 NIV). "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . .” (I Corinthians 10:11 NIV)
People you know: There are many godly people around us whose lives reflect their devotion to their Lord and serve as great examples for us. We are wise to seek them out and let them inspire us to become more like Jesus. The apostle Paul recognized his responsibility as an example to others and said: "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1 NIV). ". . . imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:12 NIV). The apostle John wrote: "Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good" (3 John 11 NIV).
One final thought. As helpful as wholesome examples are, we should never follow the example of another person blindly, or use another person as our only standard for holy living. We should measure our lives only against the standard of Jesus himself and the teachings of God's Word.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Example for Others, Part 1

Chuckle: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" asked the visitor of his host's teenage son. "I want to be possible," he replied. "Possible?" asked the visitor. "Yes," said the boy. "Every day somebody tells me I'm impossible."
Quote: “Example moves the world more than doctrine." --Henry Miller

"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. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV).
My Bible Encyclopedia says an example is "a typical representative, or illustrative case; a pattern or model for imitation. A good example is one which, if followed, would result in the building of Christian character in the one following the example. It’s similar to an illustration -- how a Christian should live." God wants each of us to be a living example for others.
"As a boy, Dr. John Mitchell was familiar with the mountains and mine pits around his house. One night his Boy Scout troop was on a midnight hike. Since Mitchell knew the mountains and where the dangerous pits were, he took several private jaunts away from the troop. The Scoutmaster admonished him, saying, 'Although you know where the mine pits are and how to avoid them, when you go to them you make a path that others may follow to their death.'" Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green
As followers of Christ, we teach by example, whether we intend to or not! Never should we underestimate the importance of being a Christian example because we learn much from examples. In Philippians 3:17 and I Corinthians 4:16, the Apostle Paul tells fellow Christians, and us, to follow his example in the way we live. Was he being arrogant and self-righteous by setting himself up as an example for others to follow? I don't think so. Please read our basic passage again and then consider what Paul said in verse 17: "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you."
Paul's example that he wanted the Philippian church to follow was his relentless pursuit of Christian character - not that he was perfect. However, he was living so close to the Lord that he knew his life was what God wanted and expected. Have you ever heard the expression: "I can't hear what you are saying because your actions are speaking so loudly?" Or, "Actions speak louder than words."
The way we live will either add credibility to or detract from our Christian witness. We are either a positive or negative influence for our Lord. We are either a good or bad example for others. There is no neutral position. Is your life the kind of example you would want your children, grandchildren, or others to follow? Or, more importantly, is your life the example our Lord wants you to be? Are you striving to be more like Jesus each day?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dealing with Disagreements

Chuckle: A Sunday School teacher asked a new boy, "who led the Israelites across the Red Sea?" "It wasn't me," he said. "We've just moved here from Missouri."
Good Thought: “We need not all agree, but if we disagree, let us not be disagreeable in our disagreements.” --Martin R. DeHaan

"And now I want to plead with those two women, Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement" (Philippians 4:2 NLT).
Disagreements are inevitable when two or more people interact. But, with God's help, we can learn to disagree without bitterness and rancor. When you think about it, wouldn't it be a dull world if we all agreed on everything. Usually disagreements occur when we don't get our way. Often we want something done one way and someone else wants it done another way.
Not getting our way can sometimes cause us to react in anger, frustration, and bitterness to a degree that others are surprised and taken back by our actions. They may never have seen this side of us before. Christians are not immune to immature reactions when things don't go the way we think they should, or the way we want them to. Sadly, disagreements that lead to anger and bitterness can destroy the sweet fellowship of God's people.
The two women mentioned in our passage had been co-workers for Christ in the church at Philippi, and their broken relationship was a matter of great concern to Paul. Many had come to know Christ through their cooperative efforts, but the credibility of their witness was in danger of being destroyed because they couldn't get along. We may work hard for Christ's kingdom, but the fruits of our labor can be diminished or non-existent if we can't get along with others in the church. There is no excuse for Christians to be at odds with one another when they are committed to the same cause.
We must remember that when we form strong opinions about something, we are no more entitled to have our opinions accepted by others than others are to have theirs accepted by us. It's a "human" thing to believe that "my idea is the best one and I don't understand why everyone can't see that which is so obvious to me." A Spirit-filled Christian will not allow selfish desires to get in the way of pursuing the common good.
If you find yourself angry and frustrated because you didn't get your way, or things did not go the way you wanted (felt they should), you would be wise to listen more closely to those who disagree with you -- with the intent to better understand why they feel the way they do. This requires an open mind and a cooperative spirit. We must learn to handle disagreements in a loving and kind way -- never with anger and hostility.
"Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself" (Philippians 2:2-3 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Teach Me, Lord

Chuckle: A man asked the pharmacist for a cure for the hiccups. The pharmacist reached out and slapped him across the face. "What'd you do that for?' asked the man angrily. "Well, you don't have the hiccups anymore, do you?" "No," replied the man, "but my wife out in the car still does!"
Quote: "Value a friend who, for you, finds time on his calendar -- but cherish the friend who, for you, does not even consult his calendar."

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:10 NASB).
Each time we establish new relationships and make new friends, there are a lot of uncertainties involved. What will he/she expect of me? Can I live up to those expectations? What will it take to please the other person and help to nurture the relationship? Will my new friend really care about me? Initially, a lot of guesswork is involved in learning what it takes to please the other person and to make the relationship become what you want it to be. We often leave ourselves vulnerable to hurt and disappointment if the relationship doesn't work out.
However, there is no guesswork when you establish a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. You never have to worry about not knowing what God wants from His relationship with you. His Word, as illuminated by His Holy Spirit, lays it all out in clear and understandable terms. God wants an intimate love relationship with us because He loves us unconditionally. In our passage, the Psalmist asked God to teach him exactly what His will was for their relationship. He wanted God to teach him how to know and understand His will -- how to please Him.
When our relationships with other people are based on unconditional love, those relationships have a great chance of becoming strong and long-lasting. But with the kind of love that God has for us, He will never leave us guessing and He will never be the one to break the relationship or interrupt the fellowship with us that He desires. The prayer of the psalmist is a good one for us. "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14 NLT).
These words from Micah 6:8 provide a great summary of what God expects from His relationship with His people. "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly (do what is right) and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." In our efforts to please God, we should examine these areas of our lives regularly.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Teachable Spirit

Chuckle: "The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public." --George Jessel
Quote: "Christianity cannot be taught. All that you can do is clear the young mind and put it in a fit state to receive the Holy Spirit." --Sir Richard Acland Quoted Llew Gardner

"Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you" (Psalm 25:5 NLT).
Do you have an open mind and a teachable Spirit? Are you eager to learn from others and, more importantly, from our Lord Himself? Sometimes pride can make us resistant to teaching, and this same pride can prevent us from letting God show us the path He wants us to take in life. Pride can also make us selective learners -- willing to be taught when the teaching corresponds to our preconceived ideas about the value of that which is being taught.
There is a story about a man who wanted to train his mule. The first thing he did was to pick up a big stick and hit the mule a resounding wallop between the ears. As the mule staggered about, someone said to him, "What is the matter? Why did you do that?" The man said, "To teach a mule, you must first get his attention."
The above may or may not be true of mules, but there is substantial truth in it when applied to humans. For God to teach us, we must allow His Spirit to get our attention and awaken within us a desire before learning of Him can occur. In other words, our want to must come before God can teach us the how to. Our willingness to let our Lord guide us and teach us is a reliable measure of our love for Him.
Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teachings . . . But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:23, 26 NIV). In our Psalm passage, David expresses his urgent desire for God's guidance and teachings to give direction for his life. Jesus says His words, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, will provide that direction for us.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach the disciples and remind them of the truth of His words. He wanted them to prove their love for Him by learning and obeying His teachings. He wants the same from us.
As we adopt a teachable spirit, we will eagerly study the truths of God's Word and allow the Holy Spirit to plant and cultivate those truths in our hearts and minds. He will teach us God's will, and remind us when we stray from it.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Blessings From Delegating

Chuckle: Dad: "Why is your January report card so bad?" Son: Well, you know how it is, Dad. Things are always marked down after Christmas!"
Quote: "Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. . So God put the body together. . If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts (rejoice) are glad" (1 Corinthians 12:14, 24, 26 NLT).
Paul uses the analogy of the human body to describe the function of the body of Christ, the church. Like the human body, the church has many members and each of them is important to the life and function of the spiritual body. For our physical bodies to perform at their best, each and every part must perform its function as it was designed by our Creator. The same is true of the church.
Have you ever made the statement: "If I want something done right, I do it myself?" This statement says we think we can do the job better than anyone else in our organization or the church. Even though such thoughts come naturally to us, any organization can be a winning team only if leaders are willing to delegate even the good jobs to others.
All sorts of misgivings can lead us to be reluctant to delegate. Are they capable? Are they dependable? Will they follow through? Are they team players? Yes, it's natural to ask such questions, but the highly successful person recognizes that trusting others is critical for a cohesive and successful team. It takes a person with a healthy self-image to be secure enough to share both responsibility and credit.
I have known pastors and other leaders, including myself, who have tried to do too many jobs themselves because they didn't have faith in others. Perhaps they had been disappointed in the past when they tried to delegate tasks to others. No matter the reasons, failure to delegate and allow others to exercise their God-given gifts and abilities is to rob them of the joy of service as an important member of the team.
Until you learn to delegate, you won't have time to dream, plan, study, and be creative. You will seriously limit your own effectiveness and that of your organization or church. The beautiful thing about delegating is that you will now have the time to do those things that only you can do -- that cannot be delegated. If you are a leader in your church, you are wise to recognize the value of each member, allow them to function as members of Christ's Body, and rejoice with them and give them credit when they do well.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

God's View of Prejudice

Chuckle: A child's comment on the Bible: "Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles."
Quote: "Prejudice is never easy unless it can pass itself off as reason." --William Hazlitt

"The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, 'You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink'" (John 4:9 NLT).
Back before his horrible lapse into immoral conduct, I watched an interview with Tiger Woods and his mother on 60 Minutes. In that interview, the greatest golfer in the world revealed the prejudices and rejection he had to overcome as he broke into the ranks of professional golf. You could see the pain and sadness in his eyes and those of his mother as they discussed such a deeply personal and difficult subject. It reminded me that each of us can become blinded to the value of people by our own prejudices.
The word "prejudice" has several shades of meaning, but the dictionary says: "Prejudice is an opinion formed without knowing the facts or by ignoring the facts; an unfair or unreasonable opinion; a dislike or distrust of people just because they are of another race, religion, country, etc." It means to prejudge another person based on some set of preconceived notions in our value systems.
Many of us grew up in a day when prejudice was commonplace in our society, and for many it is still so today. Without God's help we can become victims of our prejudices, hatreds, and biases to the point that we are blinded spiritually and cannot see people as God sees them. Intellectually, we all know that every person on earth is of equal value in the eyes of God, but often our words and actions say otherwise.
The setting for our passage reflects the fact that intermarriage between foreigners and Jews had produced a mixed race known as Samaritans. Thus, the "pure" Jews hated this mixed race and viewed the Samaritans as impure and outcasts. The actions of Jesus were offensive to the Jews, but, not only did Jesus die for the sins of all people, Jesus set the example for us in overcoming prejudices in our daily lives when he reached out to the Samaritan woman across lines of blind and radical prejudice and racial hatred. He demonstrated that the Good News is for all people regardless of race, social position, or past sins.
Let's pray that God will give us pure, loving, and accepting hearts toward others who may not look like us, act like us, talk like us, or adopt our set of values. Let's remember that all people are equally precious in God's sight, and they should be in ours.
Love, Jerry & Dotse.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Marks of a Mature Christian

Chuckle: "Age makes you take twice as long to rest and half as long to get tired."
Quote: "Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character: Sow a character, reap a destiny." -- Reade

". . . let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity" (Hebrews 6:1 NIV). In 2 Peter 3:18 NIV, we are told to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Do you see yourself as mature in Christ? Or, do you say with the apostle Paul, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have been made perfect (mature), but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Philippians 3:12 NIV). God brings about Spiritual growth in our lives if we are willing. A mature Christian:
Deals wisely with life's problems. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything" (James 1:2-4 NIV). The mature Christian knows problems and trials will come and prays. "Lord, I know you will use these difficult times to help me grow and mature." How about you? Do you recognize trials and problems in your life as opportunities to test your faith and to help you develop perseverance -- and become mature and complete?
Is sensitive to the needs of others. "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism . . ."If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right" (James 2:1, 8 NIV). Love your neighbor as yourself. Don't play favorites - don't look down on some people. Jesus said we are to be concerned for others be very sensitive to their needs.
Controls his/her tongue. "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect (mature) man, able to keep his whole body in check" (James 3:2 NIV). If a person can control his tongue, he probably will control his/her whole body. To speak in a loving way that edifies others is a mark of maturity.
Is a Peacemaker. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" (James 4:1 NIV). Many of us are quarrelsome, easily offended, etc. We get our feelings hurt and we lash out at those who offended us. These reactions are a result of being selfishness or being judgmental.
Is Patient and Prayerful. "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming" (James 5:7 NIV). ". . . The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16b NIV). Four times in this chapter, James says: "be patient." But in our fast pace world of instant gratification we are prone to pray, "Lord teach me patience - and do it right now!" Seven times James says: "be prayerful." Prayers are answered in God's time."
In Summary, When you were born into God's kingdom by faith, you became an infant Christian, but you will need to grow and become mature. It's a matter of spiritual growth until you function in a mature way. This requires faithfulness in worship, Bible study, ministry to others, fellowship with other Christians, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. God's plan is for you to grow to maturity. What's your plan?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Who Me, A Priest?

Chuckle: Q: What kind of man was Boaz before he met Ruth? A: He was Ruth-less!!
Quote: When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package." --John Ruskin

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9 NIV).
The Bible says every believer is a priest. It's important that each of us understands the meaning and significance of this truth. You probably have a mental image of what a priest looks like and what he does; and you may not see yourself fitting that image.
In Old Testament times, the priest was the intermediary between the people and God. The priest approached God on behalf of the people. Even today, some choose to confess their sins through a priest. However, after Christ's victory over sin and death on the cross, the pattern for our interaction with God changed dramatically. Now each of us has the glorious privilege of coming directly into God's presence without fear. In the name of Jesus, we can now speak directly to God and have him speak to us through his Word and his Holy Spirit. The New Testament refers directly to the priesthood of believers five times: 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 20:6. The priesthood of believers involves both privileges and clear responsibilities.
Our Priestly privileges include:
(1) Direct access to God in the name of Jesus, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). "For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. . ." (I Timothy 2:5 NIV);
(2) The right to interpret Scripture. This right and privilege means you and I, as individual Christians, can study and interpret Scripture for ourselves while depending upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance.
Our Priestly responsibilities include:
(1) Offering spiritual sacrifices (I Peter 2:5). According to Lavonn Brown, this involves four dimensions; "(a) a spiritual sacrifice of worship (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15); (b) a spiritual sacrifice of witness for Jesus (I Peter 2:9); (c) a spiritual sacrifice of stewardship (Philippians 4:18); and (d) a spiritual sacrifice of service (Hebrews 13:16)."
(2) Being priests to others. The overriding principle here is that Christians have the God-given responsibility to minister to the needs of others in the name of Jesus. Although churches set aside (ordain) vocational ministers for certain ministry positions, all believers are personally and equally called to be ministers. Our most important ministry is to help others come to faith in Jesus Christ -- the ministry of reconciliation.
"And he (God) has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:19b-20a NIV). Faithful exercise of your priestly privileges and responsibilities will please our Lord and bring you much joy and fulfillment!
Love, Jerry & Dotse