Tag Archives: Gift

It’s Mine! You can’t have it!

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Grace. Christians talk about it a lot, but what is it? It is NOT simply a prayer. Though a prayer can be said with grace. It is not flawless elegance. It is not even that lady that died 30 years ago in “Christmas Vacation”. So what is grace?

Grace is one of the most beloved concepts in all of Christianity because it truly is what we all want. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

It is not getting something worse than we deserve. We wouldn’t use the term “grace” to refer to the times when we got in trouble for something we didn’t do. No, grace is getting something better than we deserve.

Imagine you were driving down the highway – speeding – and got pulled over by a highway patrol officer. What you deserve is a ticket. Grace is like that officer coming to your window and handing you a $100 bill and wishing you a nice day. You deserved punishment but got a gift instead.

We love this because this is the central idea behind the death and resurrection of Jesus. We deserve death because of our sins (Romans 6:23), but instead of death, we not only get forgiveness, but we get righteousness and life in the presence of God forever. We deserve death, but we get life. We deserve prison, but we get freedom. That is grace.

Wouldn’t you want that? Have you received that? It is exactly what Jesus offers.

When you become a Christian – putting off the old self by connecting with Jesus in his death and resurrection through baptism – you receive the grace of God. That grace is never ending. Even when you sin in the future you will still receive grace and forgiveness.

We all want to receive grace, and we praise God for the grace we have received, but do we give it like we’ve received it?

The last time you went to a sit-down restaurant how did the waiter or waitress do? Did you pay him or her what they deserved or did you give them grace?

When someone asked you for assistance on the street corner, did you drive on by or give them grace?

When your husband or wife made you angry did you lash out or love them anyway showing them grace?

We are called to love God and love others. God loves us by giving us grace. Should we give any less to those around us?

“But you don’t understand. They’re so annoying! They keep doing the same stupid thing over and over again. Surely I am justified in my frustration with them. Surely I don’t have to always treat them that way. Shouldn’t I be treated well?”

I have to wonder if God feels the same way about us when we continually sin against him and against others. Yet, he still gives us grace. He still loves us immeasurably. His love never fails. He never gives up on us.

So I challenge you. Love others like God loves you. Don’t keep all the grace for yourself. Give them grace. Be like Jesus. Even when they were crucifying Him He prayed for their forgiveness. May your attitude be the same as His.

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Someone Should Do Something About That

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The other day I was in a grocery store checking out in one of their self-check lines. As I was scanning my items I noticed that there was a price discrepancy with one of my items. It was a minor issue, but it was the second time I’d noticed it for that item, so I decided to let the closest cashier know.

She told me I needed to let someone know about that. Seriously, that’s what she said to me.

I told her I thought I just did, and she told me I needed to alert the management. Well, I have no idea who the managers are in this store, so I asked her if she could get one since I didn’t know them.

Fortunately, she did, and everything was resolved smoothly. However, it got me thinking about how much I see this attitude in all walks of society – even our churches.

This woman basically said “someone should do something about that”. It didn’t dawn on her until later that she was the person who needed to do something. Once she finally realized her role in the situation things happened the way they were supposed to.

Have you ever seen something that needed to be done and thought “someone should do something about that”? I know exactly who is supposed to do something. YOU!

We pray to God to send someone to reach our friends for Christ. Well, He sent YOU! We walk into the church buildings and criticize something that is out of place or broken, and by your diagnosis you are probably the best person to do something about that. You’ve noticed what others have missed. Congratulations! You have a role to fill.

When we relegate the responsibilities that God has given us to others who are “supposed to” be doing that then we miss out on our calling from God. Is your friend ill and in need of some yard work? What a great opportunity to serve in the name of Jesus.

What if Jesus looked down upon earth at all of us rank heathen sinners and simply said “someone should do something about that”? We’d still be lost in sin. Thank God He didn’t. But He calls us to emulate Jesus in our lives as well.

Is there something that needs to be done? Do it! Or find someone who can and offer your help.

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

What can you do this week? How can you glorify God by no longer hoping someone else would do the things you have been called to do? May your life and the lives of those around you be blessed as you realize your potential in Christ.


Why Do We Do Good?

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“I don’t do good works to be saved; I do good works BECAUSE I am saved.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Chances are that someone has said this either to you or in relation to some church they feel are teaching a works-salvation theology. I’ve heard this more times than I can count used to explain the relationship between works and salvation.

I’m not so sure this cliché really gets to the heart of this matter.

First of all, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” This passage definitely rules out the works as being part of our salvation, or does it?

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives the most popular definition, but for me it’s still a little vague. When you study faith in the scripture it is more than belief. Belief is a thought or emotional connection about something. It is a conviction, but until it has an action tied to it, it is not faith. Faith is being so sure of you what you cannot see that you act on what you cannot see. Faith by its very nature is active. According to James, faith without deeds is dead. Is this a contradiction? No.

When I come to faith in God and give my life to Him I have to make some pretty major life changes. Anyone whose life has not been changed since coming to Christ has not truly been “converted” to anything and their salvation is suspect for Christ is ever working in us through His Spirit to make us more like Him. In order to have faith I must begin to act on the knowledge that God is real and I truly have been saved from my sins. The natural outcome of this is love for God. And love is always an action when it comes to God and others (love of ice cream is action too but altogether different).

When I begin to see the scope of love from God to me, then I am faced with just how unworthy of that love I really am. It is only when I come to that reality that I begin to love others as I have been loved. To love God is to love those whom God loves.

This brings me to my second thought regarding the cliché above. every time I have heard this phrase it has been in a setting where someone (at times me) has been trying to explain to someone else that they have an obligation out of their salvation to do good works to others. Even though I have always felt this to be extremely shallow I have been caught up into teaching this technique as well. There is a hint of truth here, but it misses the beauty of salvation and doing good by a long shot.

If you told me it was your birthday then ordered me to give you a gift, then it wouldn’t feel much like a gift when you received it. Or if I gave a gift to my daughter and told her, “well, your mother said I have to give this to you – it’s my obligation as your dad.” What would her reaction be? I am afraid it would be the worst gift ever for it wasn’t given out of love.

We are definitely called, as Christians who have been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, to do good works. Those good works are evidences of our faith. But if I am doing them out of a sense of duty, then they aren’t benefiting me or anyone else.

I don’t do good works because of an obligation due to my salvation. I do good works because God has loved me beyond my worth and comprehension. As I see His love and begin to realize that love, then I love Him back (the first and greatest commandment according to Jesus). Then, as that relationship of love grows I learn to see others through God’s eyes and love them as well (the second greatest commandment).

I don’t do good works to be saved. I do good works because God loves me, and I love Him, and I love others as well.

If you can’t accurately make that confession about yourself, then you are going through the motions. Over and over the bible condemns such actions. God would rather you be silent than lie to him in song. He would rather you keep your money than give it in frustration out of a sense of duty. But most of all, he would rather not have to worry about any of that because you are absolutely in love with Him and His creation.

I hope that the next time you hear this phrase it will spur you to remember this article. I hope you are passionately pursuing relationship with God. I hope you are loving people out of compulsion rather than out of duty – you can’t help love them because of the love-relationship between you and God.

If you haven’t begun your love-relationship with God where He has taken away your sins and given you His perfection, then I’d love to discuss any questions you may have regarding making that happen. It’s up to you. Last Friday 12 people unexpectedly died. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Don’t put off your relationship with God through Jesus another day.

If you have been going through the motions, then Jesus is calling you to come back to your first Love. The most wonderful thing about Jesus is that He has never left you; He has been there the whole time waiting for you to desire Him again. If I can pray with you or help you come back in any way please let me know.

You can reach me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can even comment on this article or any previous articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you as you do good in His name and for His sake.


What Are You Afraid Of?

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What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of snakes or bugs or creepy crawlies? Are you afraid of the dark?

I know people who say they are afraid of heights, but that is merely an easy way to explain that they have a fear of falling from high places.

Some people are afraid of wicker furniture or clowns or the number 13. Some people even have pantophobia – fear of everything!

I have agliophobia. It’s a fear of pain. Apparently it’s not a very strong fear because I was able to do the Tough Mudder with all the shocking and bleeding involved. However, it is something I had to really psych myself into accomplishing.

I’m writing this article on Valentine’s Day. Why would I be writing about fears on Valentine’s Day? The answer is found in 1 John 4:18.

We all have things of which we are afraid. Certain things, when we even think about them, cripple us and freeze us in our tracks. I remember growing up with Mom being afraid of snakes. She couldn’t even see pictures of them in magazines. Movies that had snakes in them were out. Those scenes in Indiana Jones where he is in the pit with all the snakes made her leave the room. If I left my bullwhip (a boy’s gift from a loving grandmother) on the floor overnight, then I would get in trouble because it would freeze her in her tracks. She would automatically see that bullwhip coiled up and think “snake”.

When you think of fears, however, what is the root source of that fear? Are you afraid because of the actual object or event? More often than not we are afraid because during that moment all we can think of is ourselves. When I am paralyzed in fear my thoughts are consumed with myself and what might happen to me and how it might hurt me…me, me, me.

When we love we aren’t concerned with “me”. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that “Love is not self-seeking.” If we are concerned about ourselves then we are not loving someone else. 1 John 4:18 sets fear and love as opposites. They are mutually exclusive of one another. It says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The man who fears is not made perfect in love.”.

This has many implications on our loves. It’s Valentine’s week. Have you shrunk back in your desire to show love to someone for fear of how they’ll treat you in return? In that case you aren’t truly thinking about them but yourself. Have you distanced yourself from someone because you just weren’t sure the outcome of your interaction? That’s fear, and that fear is all about you.

God’s promise to us is that He “did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). That fear that you feel did not come from God. What comes from God is a powerful ability to love others even against out knee-jerk reactions to shrink back. That’s love done out of self control in a powerful way.

When we get this idea deep into our psyche, then we will have much less difficulty telling others about the love of Jesus. Think about it. We have the greatest message in the world about the greatest event in the world offering the greatest gift to their the world, yet we don’t bother to tell even the people we claim to love about this. Is that love? Love would want them to have what we have. Yet we are paralyzed in our fears and don’t speak.

May you make a resolution today to live according to the Spirit of God. May the Spirit fill you with that power, love, and self discipline. And may the world be changed starting with the relationships we have at home because we are no longer afraid to love others. I know that’s my prayer for me; it’s my prayer for you too.

Thanks for reading this each week! Have a blessed day, and if you’d like to talk more about anything you read here or would like me to pray for you please let me know at jddobbs@verizon.net. Remember: power, love, and self discipline – they are yours in Christ!!


Shopping in Houston: A Gift-Buying Fiasco

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The other day I drove into Houston to pick up my daughter for Christmas. While I was there I decided to look for a few Christmas presents to finish off my list. One of those gifts happened to be a new pair of shoes for me. But these weren’t just any shoes, so I had to find the few stores that carried them, and then I had to find the one with the best price.

Fortunately all of this was initiated fairly quickly over the phone before ever traveling up to Houston, so I set off on my journey – the Tuesday before Christmas. This trip started with two kids in tow (one not feeling so hot), so I had a heightened awareness of the busy-ness of the region as I carted my two little ones through crowded stores.

I went to the first store, near the Galleria, and they searched all over but lo and behold they were out of my size (unless I wanted pink). They checked their computer and the store at the Memorial Park mall had two of the exact size and color in stock, so off I went.

On the way over there traffic was super busy. It was five o’clock AND the Tuesday before Christmas, so this was no ordinary driving day. As I travelled, I called the store to make sure that they really did have two in stock, and I waited on hold as they checked. It turned out that they didn’t have my preferred color, but they had the next best one. They only had one, however, and they put it at the register for me with my name on it.

When I arrived at the mall, we saw Target, and one of the gifts on my list was at that store, so we quickly went inside and found the gift rather easily. Standing in line to check out was less than easy with crowded electronics department check out lines in a small area and me with a child seat cart (one of those with the two extra seats for your toddlers). At one point as I stood waiting, I looked over and my children were gone. My heart dropped. It turned out that they were just a foot to the left of where I could see in order to watch a particular monitor. I got them back in place and was able to stay in my spot in line.

After Target, we picked up my daughter at the mall and proceeded on to the store that was holding my shoes. They did have my shoes behind the counter waiting for me, so I though this was going to be great. When I opened the box, however, one shoe wasn’t the same as the other. One was the one I wanted, but the other was a different style and size. The clerk searched and searched to no avail. So this turned out poorly.

I decided to try one last store. I knew they had one at the Katy Mills mall, so I called them and verified that they had the shoe I wanted. They said they did, but I had them put their hands on it and check the box this time to make sure there were no more mismatches. Everything looked to be right this time. With my three kids in tow I took them to eat dinner then off we set to find the store in Katy.

When we got to the mall, we found the store immediately, and everything was looking up. At the counter they had my shoes, so I decided I better try them one one last time before handing over the cash for them. While putting on the shoes, my youngest daughter (3) decided she wanted to play hide and seek, although she told no one of her plans. Now my daughter had disappeared in an unknown store crammed with people. My heart sank again.

We finally found her. I got to try on the shoes, and we finally got to actually purchase (at 8pm) what I’d been trying to buy since 4:30. To celebrate, I took the kids to the play area to get their wiggles out before the car ride back home. This time I noticed that my son no longer had on his jacket. I asked him where he left it, and he said he took it off in the bathroom (on the other end of the mall). I frantically rushed back to the bathroom to look for the jacket, but it wasn’t there.

When I returned to the play area, my son wasn’t nearly as upset that someone had taken his jacket as I was. After sufficient play time we headed back to the car. I got the kids seated and asked my some one more time if he was sure he hadn’t just left his jacket in the car. He looked at his feet and said, “oh! There it is!” it was in the floorboard of the car the entire time.

I was exhausted.

I had worked so hard to find one gift for me. I had not been required to work so hard to find gifts for those others in my life that I love. This gift was something I had wanted for a few years now, and I finally had the opportunity to get it. So I was determined to make this wish come true in my life.

What do you wish for? This season we celebrate the birth of Christ – the greatest gift to mankind that God has ever given. Do you desire him? What had you been willing to do or sacrifice to find him and have relationship with him? He requires that we sacrifice our life for him, but it’s not a worthless sacrifice. I’ve never met anyone who sacrificed everything for Christ and was disappointed in their decision.

As you celebrate Christmas this year remember that it is because of Jesus you have been offered the gift of salvation. You have the opportunity to have eternal life. You can have intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe. These are gifts we should be willing to brave more than just the holiday rush in Houston in order to receive.

This gift is readily accessible. You don’t have to go to multiple stores to find it. But it is expensive. It will cost you your sin. You will be asked to exchange all the junk in your life for the peace that comes through Christ. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a pretty good exchange to me.

What do you say? Are you ready to receive the ultimate gift this Christmas? If you are then call me or email me. I’d love to visit with you about this and help you find your way. If I can help you in any way, call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net.

Merry Christmas, and may you allow God to bless you this Christmas season.


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