Wednesday, July 31, 2019

When Christ Returns

Chuckle: A police officer saw a lady driving and knitting at the same time, so after driving next to her for a while, he yelled, "Pull over!" "No!" she called back. "It's a pair of socks!"
Quote: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” --Psalm 27:1 NIV
"And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28 NIV).
As you drive on the highways of America, you often see large signs that read: "Jesus is coming soon," or, "Prepare to Meet God," or similar messages. One country pastor painted these words on his barn: "Prepare to Meet Thy Maker." All who passed by were confronted with a reminder that being prepared to meet God is the most critical aspect of life here on earth. How about you? If Christ were to return today, would you be caught off guard or would you be ready? If you live expecting His return at any moment, you will always be prepared to meet Him.
The certainty of Christ’s return is a major tenant of our Christian faith. However, no one can predict with accuracy the precise time of His return. Each of us should want to do everything we can to help others enjoy that blessed assurance that He will return. Being ready to meet the Lord when He comes is a major theme of the New Testament. It is my deepest desire and prayer that every reader of my daily devotionals can say with certainty that they have trusted Christ as their personal Savior and can look forward to His return with joy and anticipation -- even if He should come today.
Jesus said this concerning His coming: "And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven" (Matthew 24:30-31 NLT).
People of all nations on earth will mourn because those who have rejected Christ will suddenly realize the eternal consequences of their decisions. Everything they have ignored and scoffed will be revealed as true and they will have missed eternal life in God's presence in a place the Bible calls heaven. If it should be today, are you ready for the glorious moment of Christ's return?
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Why Not Work?

Chuckle: A man was showing his new clock to a friend. “This clock," he said, "will go for 14 days without winding." "Really?" replied his friend, "and how long will it go if you do wind it?"
Quote: "Lose yourself in productive, creative and necessary work, and you will brighten, improve and enhance your own corner of the world. This is your responsibility, your privilege, and your calling." --William Arthur Ward
"We were never lazy when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so that we would not be a burden to any of you . . , we wanted to give you an example to follow. Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'Whoever does not work shall not eat'" (2 Thessalonians 3:7b-10 NLT).
I want to preface this message by saying that we as individual Christians, churches, other charitable organizations and society in general have a God-given responsibility to care for those who are legitimately in need of assistance -- financial or otherwise. We should never shirk caring for the sick, poor and needy. See the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46.
Our beloved country was built by industrious people with a strong personal work ethic. Most of those in my dad's generation took great pride in their work and never wanted to be accused of being a slacker. They were reluctant to accept charity from anyone as long as they were physically able to earn their own way. Even those who desperately needed help were often embarrassed by accepting it. They cherished their personal independence and worked hard to avoid being dependent upon others. Most would never seek personal gain through dishonest and fraudulent means.
Now, contrast the above with an all to common attitude today that says: "I deserve to be taken care of. I deserve what others have without having to work for it." Some even take pride in the fact that they can dishonestly manipulate the system to receive undeserved financial benefits. Sadly, the stigma formerly attached to dishonest gain no longer exists in the minds of many today. I once had a "Christian" neighbor ask me why I didn't dishonestly claim a disability to increase my tax-free retirement income.
In our passage, Paul advised the church to stop financial support to those who refused to work and persisted in their idleness. He was not advising the church to become cold, uncaring, and cruel to those with legitimate needs. No, just the opposite. However, he knew that idleness by the able-bodied could only be overcome when they learned to value work, not charity, for their livelihood.
The "something for nothing" attitude is all too pervasive in our society. We as Christians need to set the example by reflecting unwavering integrity in every aspect of our lives including our work habits. Like Paul, we should set an example for our family members and others with whom we interact. We must recognize that character and morality in our society can never be legislated, and will come only "If my (God's) people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, July 29, 2019

Happy Face Reveals Your Heart

Chuckle - Child's Prayer: "Dear God, we read that Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday School they said you did it. So I bet he stoled your idea." Sincerely, Donna
Quote: “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”Anne Frank
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health" (Proverbs 15:30 NLT). "A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart, and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle" (MSG).
When I stopped for a sandwich at a local SUBWAY store sometime back, the place was humming with a long line of customers waiting to be served. Behind the counter was an attractive middle-aged lady with the most pleasant face I had seen in some time. Her radiant smile, patience and kind words lifted the spirits of those standing in line. She appeared totally happy and content as she rushed to fill the rapid-fire orders from hungry customers. She made the whole experience one I will not soon forget. I thought at the time, that's the demeanor each and every Christian should project.
Can others perceive that you are a Christian by just looking at you? Does your countenance reveal the joy in your heart? Do your words and actions reflect the love of Christ to those around you? If you are living with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving to God, your actions will show it. You know you are not alone as you walk through even the most difficult times of your life and that confidence in Gods never-ending presence fills you with feelings of joy, contentment, peace, and excitement that cannot be hidden.
When others see joy in your life, no doubt it will bring joy to the theirs. Jesus said, "By this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another" (John 13:35). A person experiencing the real joy of Jesus Christ will love others and want to share that joy. As you show that love, and others see you doing it, you are a living testimony of what Christ has done for you.
As the "good news" (gospel) of Jesus Christ brings joy to your heart and transforms your life, that same good news will bring the same results to others. Good news is always a tonic for the body and soul. People will know by your expressions of love and happy face that you are in fellowship with God.  Old Hymn “Let others see Jesus in you”
1. While passing thro' this world of sin,
and others your life shall view,
Be clean and pure without, within;
Let others see Jesus in you.
Let others see Jesus in you,
Let others see Jesus in you.
Keep telling the story, be faithful and true;
Let others see Jesus in you.
2. Your life's a book before their eyes,
They're reading it thro' and thro'
Say, does it point them to the skis,
Do others see Jesus in you?
3. Then live for Christ both day and night,
Be faithful, be brave and true,
and lead the lost to life and Christ.
Let others see Jesus in you.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Hard Times

Chuckle: "The only people who listen to both sides of a family quarrel are the next-door neighbors."
Quote: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” --Helen Keller
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly" (Philippians 1:12-14 NIV).
Paul is in prison in Rome. While there, he learned (and teaches us) that God can use even our most adverse circumstances for His glory. He can use the hard times in our lives to grow us spiritually and to use us to accomplish his purposes.
God's people should prepare for hard times. "Now I want you to know brothers . . . what has happened to me." Good people will have bad experiences while living in this fallen world. Our Lord told His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33 NIV). Then he goes on to say, "But take heart! I have overcome the world." Peter said, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you" (I Peter 4:12 NIV).
Paul was a classic example of this truth - he suffered much. He said, "I have worked harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and have been exposed to death again and again . . . (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV). "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him" (Philippians 1:29 NIV).
God's people should keep hard times in perspective. ". . . what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel" (vs.12). Notice that Paul did not direct attention to himself and his suffering, but focused on the good that came from his hard times. There's a big difference between suffering for the spotlight and suffering for the Savior. We must be careful which we do.
When we suffer, the emphasis should not be on how much we suffer, but, rather, on what God was able to accomplish through it - how He used our struggles to accomplish His perfect work. Paul told Timothy, "This is my gospel, for which I suffer even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's Word is not chained" (2 Tim. 2:8-9 NIV). Our struggles can become vehicles by which we bring glory and honor to Him.
"The trials of our faith are like God's ironing. When the heat of trials is applied to our lives the wrinkles of spiritual immaturity begin to be smoothed out."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Failures Need Not Be Permanent

Chuckle - Bumper Snicker: "I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money."
Quote: "If you have recently experienced failure, you may be on the brink of receiving a profound revelation from God!" --Henry Blackaby
"People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy" (Proverbs 28:13 NLT). If we are serious about overcoming defeat and failure, we must do two things;
First, we must accept responsibility for our failures. We should resist blaming God or someone else for our own failures. God gives us the capability to make choices and our choices often lead us to failure. However, we are greatly blessed to serve a God who specializes in second chances. Where would any of us be if it were not so? Can you honestly say, "I've never needed a second chance?" I doubt it. I've needed multiple second chances in my lifetime. Losers blame others, but those who learn to deal with defeat/failure say, "I have sinned/failed - it's my fault - I want to start over - I want God to do something special in my life." We can say to our family, our friends, our church family, "I'm the one who failed - I take responsibility - I need to admit it."
In 1977, after 88 straight wins, the UCLA bruins lost a basketball game to Notre Dame. The next day, the LA papers had this headline, "blame me, says the coach!." He said, "I let my team get over-confident."
Until you say, "I am a sinner -- I'm at fault -- I need a Savior," you can never be saved and become a Christian. As Christians, we can never experience the real success God wants for us until we recognize our failures and sins and ask forgiveness. "For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again" (Proverbs 24:16 NIV). God reaches down his hand in the midst of life's failures, our sins, and our defeats to lift us up and restores our joy and fellowship with him.
"The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time" (Jonah, 3:1 NIV). Jonah failed miserably the first time God called him to a mission in Nineveh. But after his repentance (accepting responsibility), God gave him a second chance. Today, He's saying to you and to me; "no matter how many failures you've experienced, or the severity of those failures, I will give you another chance." Maybe you're paralyzed by fear -- or wallowing in self-pity -- or caught up in pride or stubbornness. God wants you to admit your failure and let Him help you start again.
Second, we must accept God's grace and forgiveness. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). No matter what has happened in your life, God will give you a new and transformed life through faith in Jesus Christ. He took our sins upon Himself on the cross.
I want to challenge you to love our Lord with all your heart and love your brothers and sisters as Jesus has loved us. "Love never fails." There is only one failure, we need to fear. "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12-9 NIV). His grace prevents eternal failure through faith in Jesus Christ. For Christians, His grace is sufficient to pick you up in the midst of your defeat and failure and give you a new start. He will restore your joy and peace if you turn to him in repentance.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Reasons for Failures

Chuckle: “What should you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant. --George Carlin
Quote: "Jesus will not overlook your shortcomings or simply encourage you to do better the next time. He will give you victory in the midst of your failure." --Henry Blackaby
A few days ago, we considered how to deal with failures and defeat.  The next two lessons will expand on that subject.
Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets" (Luke 5:5 NIV). Simon and the other fishermen had failed to catch fish after trying all night long. But when they obeyed Jesus and let down their nets where He directed, they caught so many fish that their nets were torn. As we think about ways we fail our Lord, ourselves, and each other, let's consider some reasons we do so.
First, We fail because we don't plan for victory. "A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them. The simple minded man never looks (ahead) and suffers the consequences" (Proverbs 27:12 TLB). To fail to plan is to plan to fail. When we don't see the future with God's vision and direction, we fail. Success comes when God's plans become our own.
Second, we fail because we give up too soon. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9 NIV). We may want to throw in the towel and say, "I just can't study the Bible and pray every day -- I just can't be a witness for Christ." The path of least resistance usually leads to failure. Thomas Edison tried 200 different ways to make an incandescent light bulb before succeeding. He saw this as an education process -- he had learned 200 ways that didn't work and one way that did.
We learn through our failures if we will only let God teach us. If we reject God and go our own way to failure, the lessons learned are often painful. I'm still learning -- but God says, "Don't give up -- don't quit -- keep at it." The neat thing about a postage stamp is that it sticks to one thing all the way to its destination. God always sticks with us and helps us to be victorious.
Third, we fail because we're afraid to take risks. "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety" (Proverbs 29:25 NIV). We're often afraid to take risks. "Lord, I hate my job, but I need the money -- I can't risk changing." But, God says, "Here's what I want you do and I'll be with you." We say we can't step out in faith -- God says you can, with His strength. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13: NIV). The greatest failure is not trying -- failure to step out in faith. Often, we're afraid of what people might think. Fearing the opinions of others is a trap which keeps us from stepping out in faith, but trusting God gives victory and safety.
Fourth, we fail because we go our way rather than God's way. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12 NIV). By our actions, we say our ways are better than what God wants for us. It's my selfish, egotistical, stubborn way that leads to failure, defeat, and disappointment. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way" Isaiah 53:6 NIV). God's way leads to success, but our inclinations are often the opposite of what God says. God says, "My ways are not your ways; my thoughts are not your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8 NIV).
If you are in the midst of defeat and failure in some area of your life, God wants to give you victory and will do so if you turn to him and his Word for answers.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Copying Jesus Christ

Chuckle: A blurb in a church bulletin read, "Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands. . . .!"
Good Question: "What kind of a church would my church be if all its members were just like me?
"Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV).
We often hear the term "role model" when describing someone whose life reflects the good qualities of character that we admire. I'm sure each of us has someone we look up to as a role model. Having worthy human role models is good, but living with Jesus as your role model is best. If we pattern our lives after other humans, we become a copy of a copy, and imperfections and flaws have a way of creeping into copies of copies. It's much better to copy the original than a copy. It is God's desire that we pattern our lives after Jesus Christ, not parents, friends, or even pastors.
We are to live as God's children by imitating our heavenly Father. If you are a born again believer, you are a child of God by spiritual birth and have been given a new nature. You could say you have the spiritual DNA of God, and it's only logical that we should act like our Lord. If you heard a cat bark or a dog meow, you would know right away that something was amiss. Their outward appearance and actions should be consistent with their nature. If you are a child of God, you should act like it by living like Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit from whom your new nature is derived.
Just as children imitate their parents, we are instructed to imitate God, as His children, by living a life of love. Christ's great love for us caused Him to sacrifice Himself to give us new life and His nature. This kind of love for others goes far beyond affection results in self-sacrificing acts of service. To live a life of love means that we are filled, saturated, and permeated by the same unconditional love that Christ demonstrated for us on the cross. As Jesus was hanging on that cross in agony, His love showed through with this prayer for those who were crucifying Him: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34 NIV).
This kind of love is not reciprocal -- it is unconditional and makes no demands. It's the kind of love God showed as described in Romans 5:8 and 6:23. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
To copy the love of Christ is to copy the love of God, the Father, because the Bible tells us they are one. We copy the love of Christ by loving others as He has loved us. Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34 NIV). This kind of love is shown when we share Christ with the lost people, and by even loving those who do not love us in return.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, July 22, 2019


Chuckle: A speeding driver was pulled over. The driver asked, “Why was I pulled over when I wasn’t the only one speeding?” The policeman replied, “Have you ever been fishing?” “Yes,” answered the motorist. “And have you ever caught all the fish?”
Quote: “. . . They always talk who never think.” --Matthew Prior
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, . . (James 1:19b NIV). “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 NIV).
Have you ever tried to bluff your way through a conversation by talking in an attempt to hide your ignorance about the subject. Pride is a terrible, powerful, and destructive force within us. Pride tells us it is a sign of weakness to admit we are wrong or less informed than someone else. Have you ever come to the conclusion that you were wrong about something, but you kept on arguing your position anyway. I’m reminded of a saying I heard as a young boy: “You would argue with a road sign and then take the wrong road.” When we try to bluff our way through an embarrassing situation by talking rather than listening, we are certain to lose credibility and feel shame, guilt, and regret in the long run.
Because of pride, we feel compelled to look better and more important than someone else. Confessing ignorance is difficult for the proud person; but real strength is displayed when we swallow or pride, listen carefully, and confess that we don’t have all the answers. Constant, meaningless, thoughtless, and offensive chatter may be an effort to hide a lack of ability, knowledge, or confidence. The following should teach each of us a valuable lesson:
Once, while crossing the Atlantic, an editor was approached by a fellow passenger. “I just wanted to tell you” the man said, and it was obvious he was speaking with considerable emotion, “how deeply I appreciated your message.”
Now, the editor could not recall the occasion for any message; in fact he could not even place the man who seemed so grateful. But rather than admit he was at a loss, he said rather grandly: “Oh, that’s all right. I was glad for the opportunity to send it.”
Naturally, he was puzzled when the other man turned absolutely white and left abruptly without another word.
On making discreet inquiries, the old editor confessed, “I learned that I knew the man, indeed, and that the message I had been ‘so glad to send’ him had been one of condolence on the recent death of his wife!” --Sidney Shalett
We can avoid all such blunders and embarrassments by being quick to listen and slow to speak -- by thinking first and speaking only after we understand what the other person is saying and have carefully considered the impact of our words on the other person.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Envy Destroys

Chuckle: A preacher up in the Adirondacks went to church one Sunday morning. The pastor called on him to pray. He replied -- "Pray yourself, I'm on vacation!"
Quote: "As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man." --Chrysostom
"Do not covet your neighbor's house. Do not covet your neighbor's wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns" (Exodus 20:17 NLT: one of the Ten Commandments).
Coveting is having a strong desire to have the possessions of someone else. Such desire goes far beyond merely admiring a person's possessions or thinking, "I really would like to have one of those." When you covet, you can easily progress to the point of resenting the person who has what you don't -- this is envy. When we envy, we transfer our feelings of desire for a person’s possessions to resentment against the person.
Do you know someone you envy for what he or she has, or the praise he or she has received, or the success he or she has attained? God saw that such feelings could arise in the hearts of his people. He knew that coveting is such a destructive force that he chose to deal with it in one of the Ten Commandments. God knows that possessions alone can never bring lasting happiness. He also knows that greed, jealousy, covetousness, and envy can destroy relationships among his people and between his people and himself.
Not only can such desires take away our joy, they can lead us to commit other sins such as adultery and stealing -- both of which are also forbidden in the Ten Commandments. In our society, we often see violence perpetrated against someone by a criminal driven by envy. But envy can easily create bitterness and destroy relationships among believers as well. Being covetous and envious is a counter-productive exercise since God is able to provide what we really need, even if He chooses to stop short of giving us everything we want. To avoid being envious, we need to practice being content with what we have.
"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little." (Philippians 4:11-12 NLT). Once Satan gains a foothold in your life by creating envy in your heart, he can destroy your joy, contentment, and peace that God wants you to have, and it can keep you from being the holy person God wants you to be.
There is a fable that Satan's agents were failing in their various attempts to draw into sin a holy man who lived as a hermit in the desert of northern Africa. Every attempt had met with failure; so Satan, angered with the incompetence of his subordinates, became personally involved in the case. He said, "The reason you have failed is that your methods are too crude for one such as this. Watch this." He then approached the holy man with great care and whispered softly in his ear, "Your brother has just been made Bishop of Alexandria." Instantly the holy man's face showed that Satan had been successful: a great scowl formed over his mouth and his eyes tightened up. "Envy," said Satan, "is often our best weapon against those who seek holiness."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Dealing with Failure and Defeat

Chuckle: A motorist, after being bogged down in a muddy road, paid a farmer twenty dollars to pull him out with his tractor. He said to the farmer, "At those prices, I should think you'd be pulling people out of the mud day and night." "Can't. At night I haul water for the hole."
Quote: "The man who wins may have been counted out several times, but he didn't hear the referee." --H. E. Jansen
"My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart's desires are broken" (Job 17:11 NLT).
Let's learn together how to overcome failures and be victorious in our Christian living. In our passage, Job expresses how some of us feel at times. If you don't feel the need for a lesson on handling defeat and failure right now, just take note - you will at some point in your life.
John F. Kennedy once said, "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan; no one wants to claim it." Wouldn't it be wonderful if everything in life was successful - every relationship fulfilling. But, even for Christians, life is a combination of both successes and failures; victories and defeats; gains and losses. And sadly many of these failures we bring on ourselves by poor decisions and choices. But, God has an answer for us.
First, we must realize that everyone fails. Peter failed his Lord miserably when he fled, along with the other disciples, from the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:56). And he failed again when he denied Jesus by saying he didn't know him (Matthew 26:69-75). James 3:2 tells us, "We all stumble in many ways." Isn't that the truth? We all make mistakes - fumble the ball - mess up. It's not "if" but "when" we fail. We have to learn to deal with, and overcome, failure and defeat.
"There is not a righteous person on earth who does what is right and never sins (makes a mistake)" (Ecclesiastes 7:20). No one is perfect. The very best basketball players only make 50% of their shots. The best baseball hitters only get one out of three. Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, but struck out 1330 times. "For all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23 NLT). I heard about a preacher, who said to his congregation, "let's bow our heads and pray for our falling shorts."
R. P. Macy tried to start a department store seven times before he succeeded by founding the world famous Macy's of New York. Failure and defeat are as much a part of life as success and victory. But, we have to learn to deal with and overcome them -- and we have a source of strength to do just that. God often gets your undivided attention after you have experienced failure. And he often takes you back to the time and place of your failure in order to teach you and create something wonderful in your life. He wants us to learn and profit from our failures.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Doubters versus Cynics

Chuckle: "You know you're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster."
Quote: "When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt him. When he says -- 'Do not let your hearts be troubled,' if you see him I defy you to trouble your mind, it is a moral impossibility to doubt when he is there." --Oswald Chambers
"When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer" (Psalm 94:19 NLT).
We all are familiar with the Bible story of "doubting Thomas." After Jesus' had risen from the dead, ". . . the other disciples told him (Thomas), 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it' " (John 20:25 NIV).
First, let's think about the difference between doubt and cynicism. The doubter is unsure about whether something is true or right, but is open to evidence that his doubt may not be justified. However, the cynic does not believe that people are ever sincere, honest, or good and tends to be bitter and negative about life. Such a person is not as open to evidence refuting his conclusions and sometimes has the attitude, "don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up."
"To believe is to be 'in one mind' about accepting something as true; to disbelieve is to be 'in one mind' about rejecting it. To doubt is to waver between the two, to believe and disbelieve at once and so be 'in two minds.' " (Os Guinness, "In Two Minds.")
Jesus never condemned Thomas for having honest doubts. Jesus appeared to Thomas and patiently said to him, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God' " (John 20:27-28 NIV). You see, Thomas was open to being convinced -- and stopped short of actually feeling the wounds of Jesus. He became convinced by Jesus' invitation to feel him and immediately voiced his belief.
Some people need to doubt before they can believe. If doubts lead one to ask honest questions, and questions lead to answers based on truth, and the answers are accepted, then doubt has been a good thing. But when doubt leads to stubborn cynicism and stubbornness becomes a mind-set, then that cynicism does extreme harm to one's faith. If you find yourself doubting the truths of the Bible, or God himself, please don't let your search for truth end there. As you discover answers, let those answers deepen your faith.
I believe God would have you bring your doubts directly to him as you pray. Be honest about your doubts, as Thomas was, and pour out your heart's concerns to the Lord. Then be open to new insights as he reveals his truths. If you have this attitude, even doubt can serve to bring you closer to him. God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5 NLT). Take God at his word and never doubt his love, his power, his provision, and his promises.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Disappointed with God

Chuckle: "If you saw a lawyer and an IRS agent drowning and you could only save one of them, would you go to lunch or read the newspaper?"
Quote: "The circumstances of a saint's life are ordained by God. . . All our circumstances are in the hand of God, therefore never think it strange concerning the circumstances you are in." --Oswald Chambers
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" (Romans 8:29 NLT).
Let's face it, life is full of disappointments. Sometimes we are even disappointed with God because He doesn't do as we expect Him to do, want Him to do, or think He should do. When it comes to disappointment with God, please remember that God does not conduct Himself by our standards, but rather by what is best for us as He carries out His plan for our lives. God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8 NIV). We should, however, bring our disappointments to God in prayer and be honest with Him. After all, He knows our thoughts anyway, so there's no point in trying to hide them.
You may not always understand why God allows pain to come into your life, but consider that God may be trying to teach you and work his power through you in those circumstances. When you are disappointed with God, it's a good idea to ask God: "Lord, what are you trying to teach me through this experience?"
In our disappointments, it's important that we move toward God, not away from Him. Getting angry with God and running from the very one who can help you through your pain is not the way of the spiritually wise. "O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you" (Psalm 63:1 NLT). Listen to and trust God, even when it seems to make no sense.
You can reduce, or eliminate, disappointment with God by putting him first in your life. When we make self all important, we are setting ourselves up for God to disappoint us. But when He is first, our goal is to please Him, not ourselves. Then it becomes much easier for us to understand God's ways and his intentions. "As the Scriptures express it, 'I am placing a stone in Jerusalem, a chosen cornerstone, and anyone who believes in him will never be disappointed'" (I Peter 2:6 NLT).
To believe in Christ means to have faith in Him, to trust Him, and commit our lives to Him. As we place our complete trust in the Lord, our expectations of Him will change. As our Creator, He knows what is best for us and we can learn from Him as He reveals to us His master-plans for our lives. "Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you" (Psalm 55:22 NLT).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, July 15, 2019

Boasting in the Lord

Chuckle: A father was reading Bible stories to his young son. He read, "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt." His son asked, "What happened to the flea?"
Quote: "My great concern is not whether God is on our side, my great concern is to be on God's side." --Abraham Lincoln
"The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done" (1 Corinthians 1:31 NLT).
Many of us like to draw attention to ourselves by boasting about what we have done. Some have the idea that the way to earn God’s favor and attain eternal life is to live a moral life. If we can convince God of our “goodness,” surely He will find us acceptable in His sight. But we must realize that skills, wisdom, and good deeds do not get a person into God’s kingdom – simple faith in Jesus Christ does. Let’s delve into this amazing truth more deeply and learn how to satisfy our desire to boast.
In our passage, Paul gives us some sage advice concerning boasting. It's easy for us to want the credit for all the good things in life as if we had earned them all on our own. When we begin to think too highly of ourselves, we risk having our pride take control and everything becomes about us and what we have done. "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (Romans 12:3 NIV). We are warned that "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18 NIV).
Our pride and boasting should always be about what God has done. That way He receives all the honor He deserves. When it comes to our salvation, no one can boast that personal achievements helped him or her secure eternal life. No, our salvation is a gift from God through our faith in Jesus Christ. We can never be "good" enough to earn it. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
If we have been saved by God’s grace through faith, what is the significance of doing good deeds/works? This verse reveals the answer. “For we are God’s workmaship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). Now our good works are to glorify God, not to earn our way into His favor.
If we recognize that everything we are and everything we have comes from God, we have accepted the truth that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . ." (James 1:17 NIV). When we glorify God, we praise Him and our only boasting is about what He has done in our lives.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Why Study the Bible?

Chuckle: A children's Sunday School teacher asked her class, "Who defeated the Philistines?" One little boy said, "I don't know. I don't keep up with the minor leagues."
Quote: "The Bible is so deep that theologians can never touch the bottom, yet so shallow that babes cannot drown."Unknown author
"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey from the comb" (Psalm 19:7-10 NIV).
The story is told about a pastor who was visiting in the home of a church family. Before leaving he asked if they would like him to read from the Bible. The mother told one of her boys to go bring the Big Book we read out of so much. Excited to help, the boy rushed out of the room and returned with the Mail-Order catalog. .!!
I wonder how many of us see the Bible as a treasure from God and study it accordingly. It was written over a span of 1500 years by hundreds of different writers including kings, peasants, poets, herdsmen, fishermen, scientists, farmers, priests, pastors, tentmakers, and governors. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the various books were gathered together, and they tell one complete story of God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness without contradictions or inconsistencies. Just stop for a moment and let the significance of all this this sink into your heart anew.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). ". . . .men spoke from God as they were carried along (moved) by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20). Listen to what some famous people have said about the Bible:
Abraham Lincoln: "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book."
George Washington: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
Napoleon: "The Bible is no mere book but a living creature which conquers all who oppose it. For thousands of years the forces of evil have tried to discredit, ignore, or destroy God's Holy Word - but to no avail."
Andrew Jackson: "That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests."
Daniel Webster: "If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering, but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."
The worldly secular progressive view is that the above observations are archaic, irrelevant, and were made by less than enlightened men. But, for us believers, such statements about God's Word only add credibility to a truth we assimilated into our hearts and minds long ago.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Love Your Enemies

Chuckle: "When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried!"
Quote: "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." --Martin Luther King
Jesus said: "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven . . . If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors (sinners) do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect (mature), even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-47 NLT).
At the time of Jesus' ministry here on earth, the Jewish people were oppressed under the rule of the Romans. Now imagine yourself in their place -- and along comes Jesus to tell God's people to love their enemies. Obviously such teaching could not be accepted by everyone and many turned away from Jesus. Probably, their biggest problem was dealing with the definition of love from Jesus' point of view. They thought He was telling them to have warm and fuzzy emotional feelings of affection for their oppressors/enemies. But, in reality, Jesus was talking about an act of the will. In the same way God despises sin but loves the sinner, we are to love our enemies even though we may detest their actions. If you can understand this, then you will have much less difficulty dealing with the concept of loving your enemies.
It takes a conscious effort and submission of will to love those who mistreat you and always act with their own best interests in mind. We can pray for them, and think of ways to make their lives better. Jesus had this attitude toward everyone, even though people hated Him, persecuted Him, and even crucified Him. As the Roman soldiers were killing Him, and people stood around with approving looks, Jesus said from the cross: "Father, forgive them for the do not know what they are doing." We are to follow His example of unconditional love and forgiveness. Jesus never stops loving us no matter how much we rebel against His love and ignore His invitation to accept Him by faith for forgiveness of our sins.
What about the last sentence in our passage? "But you are to be perfect (mature), even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Jesus is telling his followers, and us, that we are to be different. We are to become perfect or mature Christians as we allow God's Holy Spirit to give us a spiritual makeover. As we allow Him to mold us and shape us into the likeness of Christ, we will display these marks of maturity:
(1) In character: Here on earth we will never become flawless, but we can strive to become more like Christ every day we live. (2) In holiness: We are to be submissive to God's desires rather than our own and carry His love and mercy into the world -- even to those who hurt us. (3) In maturity: Achieving Christ-like character and holy living does not happen overnight, but is a growth process over a lifetime of Christian service. (4) In love: We can learn to love others as completely as God loves us -- even our enemies.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Love as a Practice

Chuckle: Why did the bowlegged cowboy get fired? He couldn't keep his calves together!
Quote: "We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small." --D.L. Moody
"Serve one another in love" (Galatians 5:13 NIV).
Have you ever wondered why we call a physician's work a "practice?" I don't think any of us want a doctor "practicing" on us -- we want him to attend to us only after he has perfected his skills. Of course we understand that in this case the word "practice" means he/she is applying his skills for the benefit of his patients. However, when it comes to Christian love, we need to practice it day in and day out in a life-long effort to get it right -- to love as Jesus loves. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us . . .” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)
Most Christians are pretty good at expressing their love to one another, verbally, or maybe even with a hug. Such expressions are rooted in warm and fuzzy feelings we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Telling others that we love them is a good thing and should never be neglected. But words alone just won't cut it when we apply the Biblical standard to the way we should love one another.
Christian love is more than words and more than a warm emotional feeling. Christian love is serving the ones whom we love. It is demonstrated by our actions. It means getting our hands dirty as we help meet the needs of others. It means having the heart of a servant like our Lord who wrapped himself in a towel and washed the dusty or muddy feet of his disciples (see John 13:1-17).
Jesus set the bar extremely high for us when it comes to loving one another through acts of kindness and service. While none of us has reached the point where we can love like Jesus loves us, we must never stop striving to be like Him. Jesus said, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35 NIV).
You know Lord how I serve you, with great emotional fervor, in the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for you, at a women's club.
You know how I effervesce when I promote a fellowship group.
You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.
But how would I react, I wonder, if you pointed to a basin of water,
and asked me to wash the calloused feet
of a bent and wrinkled old woman, day after day, month after month,
in a room where nobody saw, and nobody knew?
--Ruth Harms Calkin
Love, Jerry & Dotse