Thursday, August 29, 2019

Conflict Between Christians

Chuckle: Child's comment on the Bible: "Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol."
Good Quote: "It takes two to make a quarrel, but only one to end it." --Spanish Proverb
"And now I want to plead with those two women, Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true teammate, to help these women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. And they worked with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life" (Philippians 4:2-3 NLT).
Paul addressed the conflict between two prominent women in the church at Philippi, but conflict among Christians is no respecter of gender -- it can happen to anyone, especially if our hearts aren't constantly focused on Jesus Christ and on keeping the main thing the main thing -- the Great Commandment and the Great Commission (Matthew 22:37-38, 28:19-20).
Conflict between these two influential church leaders was no small matter, because many had become believers through their efforts. Their credibility, and the credibility of Christianity, was on trial before these new and impressionable believers. Conflict within a congregation can drive people away and destroy the church's witness. If conflict exists in your church, this passage contains an important message for you; if not, there is a helpful preventive message as well. Let's glean some truths from these words.
First: In love, we should always find a way to reconcile our differences. Paul pleaded with the women to come together and work out their problems. He asked them to take the initiative in reconciliation -- to take responsibility for restoring their relationship and fellowship. Jesus said we are to take the initiative by going to the person who has something against us and reconcile our differences (Matthew 5:23).
Please, don't ignore festering anger, resentment, and hurt, no matter who is at fault. It will only get worse and will control your life and rob you of joy and peace. Paul also asked them to seek to be like-minded with Christ. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 KJV). Differences of opinion should not result in irresolvable conflict. Differences should be addressed in an atmosphere of love, understanding, and concern for the feelings of the other person. Also, it is helpful to ask, "What would Jesus do in this situation?"
Second: Sometimes even the most mature Christians need help to overcome their differences, especially if they cannot, or will not, work out their problems themselves. Notice that Paul asked an unidentified loyal ministry teammate to act as a peacemaker to encourage reconciliation between the women. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9 NIV). Wise peacemakers give those on both sides of the conflict a way out -- a way to peace and harmony without finding fault or placing blame.
We have conflicts in our homes, in our work, with our neighbors, and within the church. In each of these situations, differences can usually be worked out if the parties involved seek to see the other through the eyes of Christ -- as a beloved human being for whom Christ willingly gave himself. Also, talented peacemakers can make the difference. There is no excuse for remaining in conflict with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Courtesy is Contagious

Chuckle: A little boy, doing homework, asked his dad, “where would I find the Andes?” “Ask your mother,” said the dad. “She puts everything away in this house.”
Quote: “Hail the small sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do they make the road of it.” –Laurence Sterne
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32 NLT).
The word “Courtesy” means friendliness, kindness, politeness in actions and speech, good manners. I like the following by Frank S. Hogan: “Courteous treatment is a recognition by one person that another person has the same dignity as a human being. The practice of courtesy develops the habit of treating others as equals. It is, therefore, more than a lubricant which prevents irritation between individuals of different backgrounds. It becomes a solvent of the causes of friction and, when constantly applied, produces a positive force in the creation of good will.”
In our modern culture, it seems many people have forgotten the truth of what Publilius Syrus wrote in the first century before the birth of Christ: “You can accomplish by kindness (courtesy) what you cannot by force.” Being courteous sounds like a small and simple thing for a Christian and should not be difficult to put into practice. Life is full of small grievances which small doses of kindness and courtesy can eliminate.
I’ve noticed that major disputes between individuals often begin with minor and petty grievances, most of which can be resolved promptly with a small gestures of kindness and courtesy. However, when minor differences are between discourteous people, they can fester and grow into major disputes and become almost impossible to resolve. This is because, over time, the original grievance may fade and the issue can become a personal dislike for one another. Then the participants begin to attack each other rather than dealing with the original grievance.
I’m aware of two Christian men who let an adventuresome cow destroy their friendship and fellowship. A cow belonging to one broke through a fence and ate some delicacies from the garden of the other. Instead of coming together in brotherly love and in a courteous way to resolve the issue, they became angry and bitter and for years they rarely even spoke to one another. How sad. No doubt a show of love, kindness, and courtesy could have resolved the original issue promptly and amicably.
We can make a major contribution to the civility and harmony within our families, churches, and communities If we show the same courtesy to others that we would like to receive.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Cleansed Life

Chuckle: Kid's Lyrics: "God bless America, through the night with a light from a bulb!"
Quote: "Choose Jesus Christ! Deny yourself, take up the 'Cross, and follow Him for the world must be shown. The world must see, in us, a discernible, visible, startling difference." --Elisabeth Elliott
    You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. . . Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:7-8, 12 NIV).
I'm often amazed by the open display of anger and rage in our society. Sadly, Christians are not immune to these types of sins, and we can see by our Scripture passage that such actions are not unique to our time. Out of control anger can cause people to do horrible things to one another. Anger and jealousy caused Cain to kill his brother Abel (Genesis 4). Uncontrolled anger causes parents to abuse their children. Anger causes husbands and wives to mistreat one another and destroys marriages. Anger results in the sinful actions listed in our passage -- and all sorts of abhorrent behaviors.
When we are born again in Christ, we are cleansed of our sins and become God's new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). The Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives and gives us the strength we need to avoid the terrible results of anger, rage, etc. However, when we allow selfishness, greed, and self-centeredness to creep into our lives, we are headed for disaster. Here, Paul is urging believers to remain true to our faith, and rid ourselves of our old lives and clothe ourselves in our God-given new nature in Christ.
Do you sometimes catch yourself telling a lie or half-truth to get what you want or to hurt someone toward whom you have hard feelings? Have you gossiped or slandered someone's character out of anger? Every Christian is in a life-long work in progress and the more we come to know Christ, the more we are being changed to be like Him. Simply stated, clothing yourself with a brand new nature means that your conduct should match your faith. We should act like people of God. This is a straightforward step that is as simple as putting on your clothes each day. Clothe yourself in the righteousness of Christ and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you find yourself drifting into the sins mentioned in our passage, please remember that God is a God of forgiveness and cleansing. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify (cleanse) us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9 NIV).
Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, says that if he could convince the patients in his psychiatric hospitals that their sins are forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day. So often we do not take God at his word that our lives can be cleansed and our sins forgiven -- wiped away forever. Let God cleanse your life and then clothe yourself with Christ-likeness, including compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
 Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 26, 2019

Lukewarm Christians, Part 2

Chuckle: "Mama," asked the little girl, "if men go to heaven, too, why don't angels have whiskers?" "Because, dear," her mother answered, "men get to heaven by a very close shave." --Gertrude Pierson
Quote: “Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.” --Elie Wiesel
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are Lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV).
If, after yesterday's lesson, you find yourself "lukewarm" toward God and His church and you have been convicted by the Holy Spirit of your need to change, how would God have you go about it?
First, we must see ourselves as God sees us. If we have grown indifferent, comfortable, self-reliant, content, and without a burning spiritual purpose, we are lukewarm. Each of us has likely been lukewarm at some point in our Christian life, but God does not want us to stay that way.
Second, we must have a sincere desire to change. This desire comes from the Holy Spirit as we yield to His direction. This may be where you are right now. If so, please listen to these words from our Lord to the lukewarm Christians in the church of Laodicea. "I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on you eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat (fellowship) with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:18-20 NIV).
Third, we must repent and allow God to change us. Let Him totally rework our attitudes and priorities. Listen to these words with an open heart! "Never be lacking in zeal (lazy in your work), but keep your spiritual fervor (enthusiasm) in serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11 NIV). "Maintain your spiritual glow" (Moffett). Also, the psalmist says, "Zeal (passion) for your (God's) house consumes (burns within) me" (Psalm 69:9 NIV). Repentance and cleansing are the keys to regaining that spiritual fervor. Our renewed zeal will result in the following (See Romans 12:12):
(1) We will be a joyful people. "Be joyful in hope." (2) We will endure difficulties with patience. "Be patient in affliction." (3) We will "Be faithful in prayer." (4) We will serve others. "Share with God's people who are in need." (5) We will "Practice hospitality to everyone" (Romans 12:12-13 NIV). (6) We will seek opportunities for service. The body of Christ (church) "grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Ephesians 4:16 NIV). (7) We will speak boldly about Jesus. "For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20 NIV). (8) We will not neglect church attendance and fellowship. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).
God's kingdom, and this church, urgently need God's people to return to the "red-hot" zeal for Him and His work. We need spiritual revival! We need to get excited. We need to get back to the basics of being a Christian: (1) One in whom Jesus dwells; (2) One whose life Jesus controls; and (3) One through whom Jesus is revealed. If you have slipped into spiritual apathy, indifference, or unconcern, won't you ask God's forgiveness and ask Him to restore the joy and excitement of your salvation and the fervor for His service. Become a contributing and happy Christian.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Lukewarm Christians, Part 1

Chuckle: "I wonder why people say 'amen' and not 'awomen'? Bobby asked. His little friend replied, "Because they sing 'hymns' and not 'hers,' silly?"
Quote: “The danger of our becoming lukewarm is not from without—the danger is within.” --Reed Smoot
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are Lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV).
Laodicea was a wealthy city that had always had a problem with its water supply. At one time, an aqueduct brought water to the city from some hot springs. But by the time the water reached the city, it was neither hot nor refreshingly cool -- only lukewarm. Because the Laodiceans had become lukewarm, they had become distasteful to the Lord - like a lukewarm drink. This metaphor describes a church that had become complacent and self-satisfied, and was destroying itself with the status-quo. They saw no need for change nor to be concerned.
I believe there is nothing more repugnant to God than a lukewarm, half-hearted, self-sufficient Christian or church. There should be excitement, zeal, and fervor in everything we do for our Lord. "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11 NIV). However, sadly, the greatest sickness that plagues the church today is half-hearted complacency by its members. What constitutes a Lukewarm-warm Christian?
First, lukewarm Christians are not those who stay home on Sundays without cause and make no pretense of living for God. No, those are the "cold" ones. However, these seem to be more preferable to God than the lukewarm ones because they are not pretending to be something they are not. "I wish you were (hot or cold) one or the other." On the other hand, the "Lukewarm" ones are the ones who may attend church, but give little of their attention, time, finances, and energy in worship or service to our Lord.
Second, to the lukewarm Christian, church has become little more than a ritual in their lives. They attend and go through the motions of worship -- and feel they have fulfilled their religious duty for the week. They don't give much serious thought to spiritual matters again until the next time they take their Sunday clothes out of the closet. Their lives do not reflect active service for their Lord.
Third, the lukewarm Christian has a sense of contentment and peace about their Christianity. They are unaware of how far they are from where God wants them to be. Jesus said to the Laodiceans, "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17 NIV).
Each of us has become "Lukewarm" at some point in our Christian experience. However, this is not a state in which God wants us to remain. The longer we stay in this lukewarm state, the more hardened and calloused our hearts become to the wooing of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to draw us back into a love relationship with our Lord. He wants us to be happy, loving, excited, and active Christians deeply involved in the fellowship and ministries of the local church.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, August 22, 2019

God's Mercy

Chuckle: "After receiving the proofs of a portrait, a politician was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the photographer and arrived with these angry words: 'This picture does not do me justice!' The photographer replied, 'Sir, with a face like yours, you don't need justice, you need mercy!' "
Quote: "Two works of mercy set a man free: forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive." --St Augustine of Hippo
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. . ." (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV).
Mercy is a special gift of God to each of us. In its simplest form, mercy is not receiving what one deserves. It is withholding the administration of harsh justice because of God's love and grace. There is nothing we can do to merit God's mercy; rather it is a product of God's loving and forgiving nature. Like grace, mercy is completely unearned and undeserved.
The story has been told of a mother who sought from Napoleon the pardon of her son. The emperor said it was the man's second offense, and justice demanded his death. "I don't ask for justice," said the mother, "I plead for mercy." "But," said the emperor, "he does not deserve mercy." "Sir," cried the mother, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask." "Well, then," said the emperor, "I will show mercy." And her son was saved.
Mercy is the outward manifestation of pity and compassion; it assumes a need on the part of the one receiving it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of the one who shows mercy. God shows pity on us because of our sinful condition about which we can do nothing on our own, and he has provided a way of salvation through faith in Christ. Hebrews 4:16 tells us we should pray boldly for God's mercy: "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it."
Often mercy and peace are found together in Scripture. When this happens, mercy is usually listed first. Mercy is the act of God, peace is the resulting experience in our hearts. Another way to define Mercy is to feel sympathy with the misery of another person, and especially that type of sympathy that is manifested by action to help that person.
"Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, 'Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well' -- but you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all -- it is dead and useless" (James 2:15-17 NLT). Mercy is never deserved. If you find yourself having difficulty in granting forgiveness and mercy to others, please take a moment to reflect on God's mercy which has been granted to you.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mission of Mercy

Chuckle: On a cold, snowy Sunday in February, only the pastor and one farmer arrived at the village church. The pastor said, "Well I guess we won't have a service today." The farmer replied, "If only one cow shows up at feeding time, I feed it."
Quote: "Who will not mercy to others show, How can he mercy ever hope to have." --Edmund Spenser
"Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren't contaminated by their sins" (Jude 22-23 NLT).
Every Christian, without exception, has been dispatched by our Lord on a mission of mercy to claim or reclaim two categories of people: The lost who have never committed their lives to Jesus Christ, and those believers who have drifted away from God as their faith has become weakened. Our passage also contains a warning that we must be on guard against letting their sinful habits contaminate our own lives as we reach out to them.
Our assignment is to be faithful witnessing to others. Effective witnesses are instrumental in saving people from the penalty of their sins. Such witnessing requires unconditional love, mercy, compassion, patience and perseverance. We are God's messengers whom He uses to draw people to Himself for salvation and spiritual revival. There are numerous ways you can be an effective witness. A 12th century, a monk named Francis of Assisi (Italian) said, "Preach everywhere you go and, when necessary, use words."
Our actions, the company we keep, our faithfulness to Christ's church, and the words we utter are all important for effective witness. Have you ever pictured yourself extending the hand of love to snatch someone from the very perils of hell? If we don't snatch them, they are doomed for all of eternity. When I think of snatching someone from the fires of judgment, I'm reminded of the times I've cooked hamburgers on a grill and had one of the patties fall through the grill into the coals below. My first reaction is to snatch it out before it burns and without getting burned myself.
Notice the warning! As we witness, we must not become contaminated by the sins of those we are trying to reach. We must be careful not to fall into the quicksand of compromise. We must not allow them to influence us to sin. We do this by insuring that our own spiritual footing remains solid and secure.
Our passage is a clarion call to action for God's people. We are on a critical mission of mercy to rescue those around us from spending eternity separated from God in a place the Bible calls hell. Also, we are to love wayward Christians back into a renewed and dynamic love relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Two works of mercy set a man free; forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive.” --St Augustine of Hippo, Sermons
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Living With Confidence

Chuckle: Sign on an Optometrist's Office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."
Quote: "Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” --Michael O'Brien
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that we ask anything according to his will and he hears us" (I John 5:14 NIV). "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Hebrews) 10:35-36 NIV).
Have you noticed how some Christians exude confidence and optimism in every circumstance. Nothing seems to get them down. They have an aura of inner peace and contentment about them. Sometimes those who have the most reasons to be depressed and discouraged become blessings to others because they have such confidence in God's ability to sustain them. They inspire others to examine their own faith and dependence upon God. They always have a smile and a positive word no matter how difficult times may be for them. they just have too much going for them.
We can have confidence in approaching God in prayer. "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). As we pray, our confidence grows from knowing our prayers are consistent with the will of the Father. When we align our prayers with His will, He will listen and give us a definite answer. We should pray with confidence!
We can have confidence that God is with us in every circumstance. In our Hebrews 10 passage, we are encouraged not to abandon confidence in our faith in times of disappointments and trials; but rather to show by our endurance that our faith is real. Because of what Christ has done for us, we should have confidence that He will sustain us today and in the future. God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. Such a promise should build our confidence in God's presence, provision, and protection no matter what we face in this life.
We can have confidence that our eternal home is being prepared. Jesus said, "I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2b-3 NIV). This is a promise from our Lord himself and if you have trusted Christ as Savior you can take it to the bank. As believers, we need not fear death. I once sat by the bedside of a dying godly aunt. As we talked, she blessed my heart when she said she was not afraid of death. She had accepted the fact that her earthly life was drawing to a close and saw death as a part of life. She was confident that even though she was walking "through the valley of the shadow of death, she feared no evil, for God was with her" (Psalm 23:4 NIV).
I pray your confidence in your Lord and His Word will grow, while depending upon the companionship and strength of His Holy Spirit to meet every need in your life.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 19, 2019

Hope During Persecution

Chuckle: After several unsuccessful attempts, a mother finally reached a game warden. “Are you a game warden,” she asked. “Yes,” came the reply. “Great,” said the mother. “Could you give me some help with my son’s birthday party?”
Quote: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
As He concluded His teachings on the beatitudes, Jesus had this to say: “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT).
Today, around the world, Christians are being imprisoned, tortured, and even slaughtered for one simple reason – they profess their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and refuse to deny their Lord. This is particularly true in those areas with radical Islamic regimes. If you are a Christian, I’m sure you have thought about what your reaction would be if you found yourself experiencing intensely painful and life-threatening persecution. As you become aware of Christians suffering for their faith, please remember they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They are part of our family of God, and they deserve our prayers and other support as we become aware of their needs.
It seems certain that things are going to get much worse for all Christians. When teaching about what would happen prior to His return, Jesus predicted: “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:9-10 NLT). An amazing fact remains, in New Testament times, the Christian church grew and flourished while Christians were enduring harsh persecution. The following occurred around 160 AD.
One of the most inspiring examples of courage in the history of the church was the martyrdom of Polycarp, who was burned at the stake for his faith. The aged Polycarp had been arrested by the Roman authorities and brought to the arena for execution in from of the cheering crowd. The proconsul pressed him hard and said, “Swear, and I will release you. Revile Christ.” Polycarp replied, “Eighty and six years I have served him, and he never did me wrong, and how can I now blaspheme my King that has saved me?” (Cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, chapter 15.)
Jesus tells us his followers will be severely persecuted by those who hate us because of our loyalty to Christ and His teachings. But He also tells us that even during the most severe persecution we can have hope, because we know our salvation is secure. If you should find yourself pressured to give in and deny your faith in Christ, please don’t yield to the temptation. Remember the eternal benefits if we stand firm and continue to live in obedience to Christ by spreading the gospel (Good News) message with Christ-like love and compassion.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Giving Ourselves in Worship

Chuckle: "As the X-ray tech walked down the aisle to say the marriage vows with her former patient, a coworker nurse whispered to a doctor seated next to her, "Wonder what she saw in him?"
Quote: "The more we listen for God's voice, the wiser is our every choice." --William Arthur Ward
"Draw close to God and he will draw close to you" (James 4:8a NLT). "In view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1 NIV).
I've heard people say, "I just didn't get anything our of the worship service this morning." My dear friends, worship is not about our getting something out of it, but rather it's about what God gets out of us -- what we give to God. If we evaluate a worship service by what we get out of it, we have made worship all about us instead of all about God. Worship is about our giving God our attention, honor, praise, submission, thanksgiving, and offerings -- giving ourselves. God delights in these gifts. When you last attended a worship service, what did you give God?
When you enter a worship service, what are your expectations? Worship should not necessarily make us feel good but instead it should please and glorify God. As we commit ourselves to give to God in worship, we will be convicted of our sin and the need for repentance, which can be very unpleasant and heartbreaking. What are you willing to give God when you worship?
If you are having trouble seeing worship as a time of giving to God, the following steps in drawing close to God should help you be prepared for the kind of worship that pleases God. Notice that God's coming close to us is dependent upon our coming close to Him. James gives us five ways to draw close to God in worship:
1. Humble yourselves before God (4:7). This means submitting our wills to His and committing our lives to Him and His control. 2. Resist the Devil (4:7). Avoid placing yourself in positions to be tempted and enticed. 3. Wash your hands . . . and purify your heart (4:8). Be cleansed from sin and replace it with a desire to experience God's purity (1 John 1:9). 4. Let there be deep sorrow and grief for your sins (4:9). Be genuinely sorry for what you have done. 5. Bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up (4:10, 1 Peter 5:6).
I'm sure you have heard the saying, "The more you put into something the more you will get out of it." Worshiping God is no different. When we are focused on giving to God in worship, we always receive more from God than we have given to Him. As you worship, visualize your presenting your gifts at the throne of God. The true joy of worship comes from drawing close to God and giving ourselves totally to Him as living sacrifices.
Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Where Credit is Due

Chuckle: A teacher asked the kindergartners, "Can a bear take off his warm overcoat? "No," they answered. "Why not?" After a long silence, a little fellow spoke up. "Because only God knows where the buttons are."
Good Quote: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” --Harry S. Truman
The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength" (Judges 7:2 NLT).
It's always interesting to see the reaction of champion athletes after they have won a game, race, or other athletic event. Some have the attitude that says, "look what I have done," while others give credit to parents, coaches, teammates, and some even point upward toward God giving Him the credit for the accomplishment.
Even those of us who say we trust God in every aspect of our lives are often tempted to claim credit for our accomplishments made possible by the support of others and to disavow God's providence in what we are able to do. We are wise if we understand that we can accomplish nothing without help.
In the story of Gideon, God saw the need to reduce the numbers of Israelite soldiers from 32,000 down to three hundred to insure they would give Him credit for their miraculous victory over the Midianites. If the odds were better, the soldiers would have claimed their superior strength overcame their enemy. With an army this small, there could be no doubt that the victory was by the hand of God. Like Gideon, we must be reminded that we are helpless in our own strength. Jesus made this point when He said, "I am the vine; 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" (John 15:5 NIV).
Sometimes Christians are like the woodpecker who was pecking away on the trunk of a dead tree. Suddenly lightning struck the tree and splintered it. The woodpecker flew away unharmed. Looking back to where the dead tree had stood, the proud bird exclaimed, "Look what I did!"
As we think about our accomplishments, we should always share the acclaim with all the other people who contributed to that success. But even more important, we should always give God the credit that is due Him. To give credit where credit is due requires us to empty ourselves of selfish pride and realize our dependence on others and God Himself.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Temple of the Holy Spirit

Chuckle: "Why are buildings called buildings when they are finished? Shouldn't they be called builts?"
Quote: "Prayer doesn't get man's will done in heaven; it gets God's will done on earth." --Ronald Dunn
"Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself. For God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body" (I Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT).
When Jesus found the money changers and merchants doing business in the temple, He became angry and forcefully drove them out. Then He said, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple (house) will be called a place of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves" (Matthew 21:13 NLT).
God condemns the desecration of His place of worship and prayer. It is to be a sacred and holy place at all times. Here, the commercialism in God's house frustrated people's attempts to worship. It's no surprise that such actions angered Jesus. Any practice that hinders or interferes with genuine worship should be ended quickly if we are to please God. Now, let's look at our basic text which says our bodies are God's temples of the Holy Spirit.
Many think their bodies belong to them and they have the right to do with them whatever they wish. But under the guise of freedom, they become slaves to their own desires: sex, drugs, tobacco, gluttony, etc. You see, the Spirit of the Living God does not reside only in buildings, although He is there (omnipresent), but in the hearts of believers. Doesn't it track that our bodies, as temples of God's Spirit, should always be treated as holy, sacred, and instruments of worship and prayer? We should never abuse the temple of the Holy Spirit by mistreating our bodies. It is the Spirit within us that enables and helps us to live and pray in a way that honors and pleases God.
Now to our bodies as temples of prayer. "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will" (Romans 8:26-27 NLT).
As a believer, God does not leave you alone to cope with life's problems. Even when you are at a loss for words in expressing the desires of your heart in prayer, the Spirit prays with and for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you and help you to pray in harmony with God's will. Then, when you pray, trust that He will always do what is best.
So, in summary: Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who resides in you. You are not your own, but were purchased by God with the blood of Jesus. Your body should be treated as holy and sacred and should never be defiled. Your body should be an instrument of worship. And the Holy Spirit within you intercedes for you before the Father and helps you pray in harmony with his will.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

God Prepares Us For Service

Chuckle: "I got a letter from my sister. She just had a baby, but she didn't say whether it was a boy or girl. So I don't know if I'm an uncle or aunt."
Quote: "Personal humility is a spiritual discipline and the hallmark of the service of Jesus." --Franklin Graham
"Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:21-22 NIV).
Here, Jesus again identified himself with His Father by informing His disciples by whose authority He did His work. Then He passed to them the responsibility of spreading the good news of salvation locally and around the world. You will notice in this passage that Jesus fully equipped His followers for the task he gave them. Let's look at the gifts He has given us to make possible the accomplishment of this task.
First, He gives us His peace. This is a supernatural peace that only Christ can give. Just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words: "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). This is a divinely given peace that transcends all human understanding (Philippians 4:7). It is the kind of peace that does not depend upon external circumstances, but is a condition of our hearts that endures no matter what.
Second, He gives us a purpose. "I am sending you." "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV). Our mission is clear.
Third, He gives us His power in the form of His Holy Spirit. Giving His Spirit to His disciples appears to be a foretaste of the Holy Spirit that would come to all believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). It is the Holy Spirit that provides us the power to fulfill our purpose of ministry in His Name. His Holy Spirit is with us and in us (John 14:17) and will never leave us. Without the Holy Spirit living within us we can do nothing.
"If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5 NIV). "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26 NIV).
In Summary, our basic passage gives us a synopsis of God's plan to bring the good news to the whole world. He has no plan B -- we are to be His witnesses who move and function under His direction and in the power of His Spirit (Acts 1:8).
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, August 12, 2019

Sight for the Blind

Chuckle: "You are marvelously mature when you and your teeth no longer sleep together!"
Quote: “There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.” --Jonathan Swift
Jesus said, "I have come to judge the world. I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind" (John 9:39 NLT).
The implications of Jesus' words in this verse are enormous. He introduced a principle that goes against the conventional wisdom of many people today, as it did when Jesus was here on earth. Jesus was dealing with a group of Pharisees who saw themselves as the ultimate reservoir of all truth, wisdom, and understanding when it came to the mind of God. Jesus gave the blind man physical sight so that he could introduce him, and others, to spiritual sight. We may see with our physical eyes and still be blind when it comes to seeing and understanding spiritual truths.
Jesus wants to teach us that even if we can see physically, we may still be blind when compared to the spiritual sight God wants to give us. Humanity is divided into two classes -- the spiritually blind (lost) and spiritually seeing (saved). Jesus gave the blind man his physical sight almost immediately, but it took time for His spiritual eyes to open. As this newly healed man learned about Jesus, his spiritual eyes began to see as he recognized Jesus first as a prophet (vs.17), then later as his Lord (vs. 38).
Even after we accept Christ as Savior, our spiritual sight does not come all at once -- our spiritual eyes continue to open gradually as we spend time with Jesus in prayer, meditation, and study of God's Word. The longer we walk with Him, the better we know Him and the keener our spiritual sight becomes. Sadly, many who think they have great knowledge, wisdom, and insight are as blind as bats when it comes to the sight that really matters. This was the case with the Pharisees. The Blind man represented "those who do not see" that are enabled to "see," whereas the Pharisees represented "those who see" that become blind.
As we allow God to open our spiritual eyes to see Him in all His glory, He will give us peace, contentment, and excitement as He continues to reveal His power, love, grace, and mercy. He will teach us the meaning of true wisdom from His perspective. In this life, we may find ourselves physically blind or seeing, but when we recognize our spiritual blindness, we are ready to let God give us the ability to see the world through His eyes. From the old hymn, "Amazing Grace:" ". . . I once was lost and now I'm found; was blind but now I see." Praise!!!
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Believing God

Chuckle: A preacher asked for a discount at a store saying, "You know I'm a poor preacher." "I know," said the storekeeper. "I heard you last night!"
Good Quote: “It was a Person that God gave, it is a Person that we need, and it is a Person that we accept by faith.” --Walter Lewis Wilson
Jesus said, ". . . whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (have faith) that you have received it and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24 NIV). "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, . . . But when he asks, he must believe (have faith) and not doubt," (James 1:6 NIV).
Think back with me to yesterday -- from the time you awoke until you went to bed last night. How many times did you face issues in your life, when you felt inadequate and lacking in wisdom to deal with the situation you were facing? If, after reflecting on this question, you answer "none," then you probably went through the day depending entirely upon your own strength and wisdom to make decisions and deal with issues you faced. You see, even if we think we know the best answer to a problem, or the best way to handle a situation, we may be settling for second best wisdom -- ours.
From our two passages above, we see that believing (having faith) is essential for God to answer our prayers and grant our requests. Faith is believing God and acting on that belief. "If God says it, I believe it, and I will ask him about it!" When you pray, do you do so with expectation and confidence that God will answer, or is prayer just one more possibility among other sources you depend upon for wisdom and strength in your daily life? Maybe you pray something like this: "OK, Lord, I'm asking, but I don't really believe you will answer my prayer. What kind of faith is that???
A doubting Christian is one who says, he trusts God, but really doesn't. He says he has faith but he really doesn't. He is divided inside. God says he is "double-minded." "That person (without faith) should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded person, unstable in all he does" (James 1:7-8 NIV).
A double-minded Christian is one who knows Christ as Savior and is going to heaven, but on a daily basis does not have the faith to trust God to grant his or her request for wisdom to guide his or her life. We can pray all night to no avail unless we believe and have faith. As we mature in our Christian life, our faith should grow as well. What is it in your life that holds you back from believing God and exercising your faith in Him?
"At a circus a huge elephant was tied to an eighteen-inch stake. Could he not easily have pulled it out of the ground and been free? Sure! But he had tried it when he was a baby and was unsuccessful. The elephant had concluded that he could never pull it out of the ground. So there he stood, a massive creature capable of lifting whole trees, yet held captive by a puny stake. What small stake could faith release you from?"
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Praying in Jesus' Name (3)

Chuckle: Why is the person who invests all your money called a broker?
Quote: "Prayer is not merely an occasional impulse to which we respond when we are in trouble; prayer is a life attitude." --Walter A. Mueller
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11 NIV). "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:23b-24 NIV).
In our last two studies, we have seen that praying in Jesus' name is the only way to gain access to the Father. Also, we saw that we must remain joined to Jesus and hide his words in our hearts if we are to expect to receive what we ask of God. We must pray according to the character and will of Jesus. Today, let's focus on how our lives will change if we pray this way.
We can readily see in our passages that our joy is of primary concern to our Lord. He shares the secrets of living in complete harmony and fellowship with him which will bring about this joy. He also says that when we sincerely pray in the name of Jesus, we will receive the desires of our hearts and our joy as Christians will be complete.
Previously, people had approached God through priests as mediators. After Jesus resurrection, any believer could approach God directly. A new day has dawned and now all believers are priests (1 Peter 2:9), talking with God personally. That's why Jesus said his disciples had not previously asked anything in his name. When we pray in Jesus' name:
(1) our joy will be complete -- it is dependent upon exercising the privilege of prayer. Prayer is the spiritual life-sustaining breath to the believer. A praying Christian is a joyful and happy Christian. (2) God's power will be evident in and through us. Someone has said, “Prayer is the only omnipotence God grants us.” (3) We will receive increased spiritual illumination. This new spiritual insight then allows us to increasingly pray in more perfect accord with His character and his will.
Our rewards for praying according to the will of the our Lord in Jesus' name will be answered prayers, sweet fellowship in His presence, and complete joy. The disciples no longer could rely on Jesus' physical presence for strength, comfort, and joy. The new experience of asking in the name of the ascended Christ brought them new power and new joy. Such power and joy remain available to all believers today.
Let me close with the words of Leonard Ravenhill. "The church has many organizers, but few agonizers; many who pay, but few who pray; many resters, but few wrestlers; many who are enterprising, but few who are interceding. The secret of praying is praying in secret. A worldly Christian will stop praying and a praying Christian will stop worldliness. Tithers build a church, but tears will give it life. In the matter of effective praying, never have so many left so much to so few. Brothers and sisters, let us pray."
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Praying in Jesus' Name (2)

Chuckle: "The man who is forever criticizing his wife's judgment never seems to question her choice in a husband!!"
Quote: "Don't pray to escape trouble. Don't pray to be comfortable in your emotions. Pray to do the will of God in every situation. Nothing else is worth praying for." --Samuel M. Shoemaker
"I am the vine; 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. . . If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:7-8 NIV).
Last time, we saw that it is only through Jesus that we have access to the Father (John 14:6). We heard Jesus tell us that whatever we ask for in His name He would give it to us. I posed the question: "Does this mean we can ask anything our hearts desire in Jesus' name and God is obligated to grant our request?" I then said the answer is both "yes" and "no."
In our passage for today, Jesus answers this question by laying out the conditions for praying/asking in His Name and having what we ask given to us. If we meet this condition, we can pray in Jesus' name with confidence that our requests will be granted. That condition: "If you remain in me (joined to me) and my words remain in you."
Just as branches are one with the vine/tree, in Jesus' analogy, God desires that we be one with Christ. If we remain in Him, we will realize that all our spiritual sustenance comes from Him through his Spirit within us. We will learn to depend upon Him and grow to (1) Understand the mind of Christ and think more like Him; (2) Understand His will, His ways, and His words; (3) Pray the will of the vine which Christ will honor; and (4) Ask only for that which is consistent with His character.
Suppose you send your child off to college with a credit card for use in meeting legitimate financial needs. You would never expect that child to use the card for purchases that are not consistent with your character. You would not expect that child to purchase pornography, drugs, alcohol, etc. Likewise, if we remain in Christ, we will not try to use our spiritual line of credit for selfish requests not consistent will His character and His will.
If we remain in Him and He is in us, we will pray in His name, ask unselfishly, listen to the Vine, and we will bear fruit. James 4:3 NIV says, "When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your (selfish) pleasures." God will not grant requests contrary to His character (nature) or His will, and we cannot use His name as a magic formula to fulfill our selfish desires. If we are sincerely following God and seeking His will, then our requests will be in line with what He wants, and He will grant them.
Our motive for everything in our prayers should be to glorify God and help us bear fruit. Notice that Jesus said His granting our requests "is to my Father's glory." We bring glory to the Father when we pray according to His will. Because our hearts have been reconditioned by His Spirit, we can now pray for anything our hearts desire and we will receive.
Finally, when we get to this point in our relationship with our Lord (the Vine), we will pray with complete faith. Jesus said, "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24 NIV). James puts it this way: "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt" (James 1:6 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse