Open The Door To Jesus

Alexander Graham Bell, the eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. He was a man of remarkable persistence who never accepted defeat or failure. He said: “When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

God has made a way for us
The Bible is full of open doors. God has promised to open doors for us so we need to look for the open door. If you feel intimidated – look for an open door. If you feel isolated – look for an open door. If you feel weak and discouraged – look for an open door.
Don’t just look at the problem. Don’t just look at the obstacle. Don’t just look at the enemy. God is creating a way out somewhere. God is creating a solution for your difficulty. But you have to look for it. You can’t just stare at what’s wrong – you’ve got to see what God is doing right. Sometimes we get so focused on how awful the problem is that we miss God’s solution when it comes by.
Remember what happened when Moses sent the twelve spies into the Promised Land to check it out? Ten of them came back complaining about the problems and difficulties. All they could see where the giants, the walled cities, and their own weakness. Only Joshua and Caleb saw the open door. “Let us go up at once and possess the land” – This was the Promised Land. God had promised it to them. Whatever the difficulties, God had guaranteed them victory. They were on the winning side and defeat was not an option.
Help in every situation
Sometimes we get so concerned about the problems, that we miss God’s solution when it comes. It may seem like the obstacle you are facing is insurmountable, a huge brick wall is surrounding you, there is such a mountain to climb, such a vast ocean to cross.
This is the message Jesus Christ gives to people who have lost their confidence, to people whose strength is slipping away: “Look for the open door”. It is a message of encouragement from the Great Physician. He’s making a promise to each of us. He’s saying that in every situation you find yourself – no matter how dark, no matter how desperate – He will create an open door. He will create a way out. He will create a solution.

Little strength, limited resources
Jesus gave a promise to the church at Philadelphia, “I have set before you an open door.” He noted that they had “little power”. This may sound like a rebuke, but it wasn’t. It was merely a statement of fact. Compared to the other churches, they had only a little power, limited resources. They were small in size, and had little clout.
This was not a high-powered church. It was not a well-oiled, high profile, hotly wired mega-church. They have no respected community leaders on their church boards. There were no celebrities attending their church, nor any successful businessmen to underwrite their budget. They lived from hand to mouth – God’s hand to their mouth.
We have access to the Lord
We live in the day of the mega-church. Large, towering churches dominate the landscape and make the headlines. For those who worship and serve in smaller congregations, that can be discouraging, even intimidating. We must remember that spiritual success is not dictated by the size of the church’s buildings, budgets, and parking lot. Rather, it is determined by having great faith in a big God.
What matters is not how big or small the church is. What truly matters is how big your God is. It is far better to be a little church with a big God than to be a big church with a little God. Little churches accomplish great ministry when they serve a holy, true, and sovereign God – a big God who can open big doors. Faithfulness to God opens great doors. Even for the smallest churches, the weakest saints and the most ordinary people.
Jesus is the Door
Jesus said He was the door. He is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God. Today there is much talk about religious tolerance, about the multi-faith approach to religion and about there being many ways to God. One bishop said recently that Jesus was the most tolerant person ever. No, he wasn’t.
He taught us that there was only one way to God “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…There is no other way..Nobody comes to the Father but by me…” John 14:6.
The apostles said the same thing in Acts 4:12: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved.”
He is our gatekeeper and protector
In Bible times the shepherd was the door. At night he led his sheep into the fold where they could rest, secure from beasts of prey. He himself took up his place in the opening and thus became “the door”.
No prowling animal could get in so long as he was there. And restless sheep could not stray off into the night. In the morning he stood aside and called his sheep out, counting and examining them, and led them in the way he wanted them to go.

Beware of false teachers
The thief and robber could not come through the door because the shepherd was there. The thieves and robbers could never enter through the door, so they have to climb over the wall and enter the fold through deception.
But even if they did get in, they would never get the sheep to follow them, for the sheep follow only the voice of their own shepherd. The false shepherds can never lead the sheep, so they must steal them away.

There is only one doorway and path to salvation, and that is Jesus
Jesus said that “the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life.” John 10:10. Satan is a thief and a liar. Satan comes to steal your joy, to steal your peace and steal your assurance.
He comes and promises you much and pays you little. He promises you joy and pays you with pain, he promises you life and pays you with death, he promises you health and pays you with sickness. He is a murderer who will kill your vision, murder your zeal, and destroy your enthusiasm.
Jesus does not simply teach the way or point the way, He is the way. Our Lord’s statement, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me,” wipes away any other proposed way to Heaven – good works, religious ceremonies, costly gifts, etc. There is only one way, and that way is Jesus.
What it means to be saved…
As the door, Jesus delivers sinners from bondage and leads them into freedom. They have salvation! This word “saved” means “delivered safe and sound.”
It was used to say that a person had recovered from severe illness, come through a bad storm, survived a war, or was acquitted at court. Some modern preachers want to do away with an old-fashioned word like “saved,” but Jesus used it!
The statement “are thieves and robbers” (not “were”) makes it clear that He had the present religious leaders in mind. They were false shepherds nor did they have the approval of God on their ministry.
They did not love the sheep, but instead exploited them and abused them. The True Shepherd came to save the sheep, but the false shepherds take advantage of the sheep and exploit them.
The question is: Are you saved? Do you know what it is to be delivered? Do you know what it is to be a child of God? Do you have peace with God? Do you have the assurance that you are right with God and have entered in through the door?
When you go through “the Door,” you receive life and you are saved. As you go “in and out,” you enjoy abundant life in the rich pastures of the Lord. His sheep enjoy fullness and freedom. Jesus not only gave His life for us, but He gives His life to us right now!

Come to God right now
If you have never entered into God’s family, if you do not have the assurance that you are a child of God then I urge you to do so right now. Jesus and the Word of God urges you, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Matt 11:28. “Come for all things are now ready.” Rev 22:17. 

I come to You in the Name of Jesus. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I admit that I am a sinner and I want to be right with You. Please forgive me of all my sins. The Bible says if I confess with my mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I will be saved (Romans10:9).
I surrender my life to you; please guide me in all my ways. Thank you for the eternal life I now have with you in Heaven.

—by Nico Bougas

Dementia – To Hang On Or To Let Go?

During our lives we often find ourselves at crossroads where we need to make important decisions. One of the most difficult decisions that we will have to make is to admit and acknowledge that a spouse, a parent or a friend needs special care and treatment that we ourselves cannot provide. An example of this is when someone close to us is being diagnosed with dementia.
Showing signs of dementia
Symptoms of dementia are caused by changes in brain function. Indicators include the following:

A loss of memory
Being disorientated (places, times dates)
Finding it difficult to communicate
Struggling with complex tasks
Planning and organising skills weaken
A decrease in coordination/motor functions
Personality changes may occur
Neglecting personal hygiene
Mood swings
An inability to reason or think logically
Inappropriate (and embarrassing) behaviour
Paranoia or an abnormal suspiciousness
Agitation (irritable and frustrated).

Reducing your risk
When dementia is suspected, it is important to consult a doctor because in many cases it is caused by another treatable underlying disease. Early diagnosis will enable the family to plan and make important decisions concerning the patient’s future.
Dementia is associated with old age but precautions can be taken to reduce dementia naturally. These include supplementing the diet with omega-3; vitamins E and C, iron, green tea (antioxidants), potassium and magnesium; exercising the brain (crossword puzzles and Sudoku); avoiding stress and finding love and peace. Stress, anxiety and depression increase the risk of dementia. In this regard a person’s religious orientation and depth can be crucial for mental health.
Caring for your loved one with dementia
A person with dementia needs full time care and supervision. They need assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing and eating. A normal household can become a dangerous place – sharp knives, tools and dangerous medicine and chemicals should be removed, bath and bed safety rails installed, hot water temperatures lowered, locks and alarms fitted to outside doors, and the patient needs to wear some form of identification in case they get lost.
Confusion may be reduced by simplifying the home environment – remove clutter and keep noise levels down. Try not to change daily routine because this might lead to anxiety. In order to improve their mood, dementia patients should be encouraged to continue with exercise and normal leisure activities like crafts, games and music. Also keep in mind that the dementia patient will not be able to handle crisis situations because they will find it difficult to process information.
Finding additional care
By now I’m sure it has become clear that taking care of a dementia patient can be emotionally and physically overwhelming. Support groups might provide emotional support and practical tips. Some communities provide adult day care centres that will look after patients during the day. Professional caregivers should be considered. However most patients will require the services of a full-time nursing home.
A difficult decision
This is one of those decisions where the patient’s wellbeing is your primary concern, but where the family context should be taken into consideration. Partners or spouses are often physically and mentally unable to take on this huge responsibility (due to advanced age or simply not being able to fit it into an existing schedule).
In such cases it will be best to ensure that the patient is well taken care of at a facility that provides specialised care. Your responsibility is to constantly be in touch with the nursing home, visit regularly and take the patient out on short, planned visits. Let go of guilt knowing that you have made the best decision for everyone involved. 
DR DOROTHY DU PLESSIS is a Family and Marriage Counsellor, Parenting Workshop Presenter and part-time lecturer at the ICP. For counselling or enquiries about studies in Christian Psychology call 011 827 7611.

Biblical Names And Their Meanings

1. Noah, of The Flood (5)
2. Ethan, author of Psalm 89 (8)
3. Jacob, who became Israel (9)
4. Benjamin, son of Jacob (13)

1. Abigail, wife of David (14)
2. Hannah, mother of Samuel (23)
3. Anna, prophetess (36)
4. Leah, wife of Jacob (42)
5. Sarah, wife of Abraham (43)

Few books have inspired more baby names than the Bible. Epic tales of miracles and catastrophes, the creation of the world, and the divine hand of God depict the triumph of the human spirit and faith. In times of uncertainty and war (or peace and prosperity), Biblical names are enduring and timeless.

Biblical names have endured
Biblical names have always endured with the passing generations, although in the late nineties, there was a marked decline in their popularity. However, with a slew of Biblical movies being released in 2014, one can expect Biblical baby names to gain even more ground. Above, you can see the top ten Biblical names collated from birth lists across the USA and compared globally. The number after the name (in brackets) indicates the name’s position within the overall top 10 baby names category.

Beware of what you call your child!
Biblical names have widely been accepted and associated with strength, masculinity and  success. In fact social studies have shown that children named with classic or Biblical names (specifically David, Jonathan, Michael and Mark), are far more likely to gain the respect of their peers, and rise to positions of authority – simply because of their name alone!
Conversely, children who possess obscure or “trendy” names find themselves at a distinct disadvantage in school and the working world – purely because of the public’s preconceived idea of people possessing those names. (Think of the connotation that comes to mind when I mention the name Jermaine, Skylar, Rhett, LeShaun).
Over the last decade, within the Christian community, there has been a marked shift toward giving children Biblical names. For many believers, a name not only identifies your child, but also proclaims certain truths over their life. (Eg: Isaac, meaning, “He laughs”).
Interestingly though, many Christian parents have opted of late, for the more unusual names, like Hananiah, Uzziah and Jethro.
Most popular boy’s names
Like a group of tussling, unruly brothers, the top five boys’ names have jostled each other for position. And though there are multiple meanings and contexts, the basic explanation of the most popular names are as follows:
• Michael [who is like God?]
• Ethan [solid and enduring]
• Joshua [Jehovah saves]
• Daniel [God is my judge]
• Matthew [gift from God]
• Andrew [manliness]
• Alexander [defender of men]
• David [beloved]
• Noah [rest, comfort]

A rose by any another name?
By comparison, very few Biblical names ever feature in the top 10 girls’ names. Enduring female names include:
• Abigail [my father is joy]
• Hannah [favour or grace]
• Leah [delicate or weary]
• Sarah [lady, princess, princess of multitude]

What a blessing we have as believers, to know the significance of names and what we pronounce over people. With over 700 possible (though not always pronounceable!) names to choose from, the Bible is our ultimate source of inspiration and wisdom! 
By Jackie Georgiou

Dealing With Discouragement

I have had the privilege of interviewing or speaking with many high profile Christian leaders, pastors, authors and missionaries during the many years I have been involved with Christian publications. It always surprises me to find that many of them struggle with discouragement and even depression.
Even the greatest enter the valley
We shouldn’t find it surprising or even unusual that even the most spiritual of people have their moments of doubt and discouragement. Moses, on one occasion at least, was overwhelmed by his circumstances. After he had listened to the constant complaining of the children of Israel, he basically told the Lord: “I’m fed up. Just kill me. I don’t want to deal with this for another day.”
Elijah, after his contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, heard that Jezebel had put a contract out on his life. He was so overwhelmed by his circumstances, so discouraged, so uncertain, and so filled with doubt that he said to God: “Take my life.”
Burdened beyond measure
Even the great apostle Paul had times when he was discouraged. He wrote to the church at Corinth: “We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.” 2 Cor 1:8.
Jeremiah, the great prophet, faced it as well. He was ridiculed and harassed for giving out the Word of God. Because he was tired of the pressure he was facing, he wanted to stop giving out God’s Word altogether. He said, “The Word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and derision daily. Then I said: ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His Name.’ ” Jer 20:8-9.
We have hope in Christ
If you are feeling discouraged and downhearted, you are in good company. Hang in there. The dark days will pass. There is light at the end of the tunnel (and it isn’t an oncoming train!)
Isaiah had a word for those struggling with doubt and discouragement: “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys His servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God,” Isaiah 50:10.
The life-giving light
In times of darkness and gloom remember God is light and Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”  John 8:12.
King David had many great and glorious victories that made him one of the standout leaders in history and certainly one of the great heroes of Biblical history. But he also had hard times when he was lured into discouragement and despair. Times when he was hounded by Saul,  and when he tripped up over the incident with Bathsheba and when his son Absalom rebelled against him and subsequently was killed. David scaled great heights and deep valleys. We read that David was greatly distressed, but David encouraged himself in the Lord His God.
Encouragement and light
When you encounter dark days, follow the example of King David. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Get into His Word, for it brings light
(Ps 119:130). Enter His presence for there you will find fullness of joy.
(Ps 16:11) and surround yourself with positive, encouraging believers who are able to build you up. (Heb 10:25). 

By Nico Bougas