It’s Hard Not To Fret! Hebrews 1:11

Storage.Unit.2019.WP

I am progressively moving boxes out of my storage unit into my condo. I am not a strong person so I don’t want to transport and carry the boxes up the stairwell into my home in one day, so am doing it a few at a time till my intended move-out date.

Buddy insists on coming with me in the car and particularly enjoys visiting my storage unit. I have no idea why he enjoys it but he seems to like to observe what I am doing.

I don’t want Buddy to get knocked on the head, so I usually rope him to the adjacent unit, leaving my keys nearby for him to guard. This time, I also left my cellphone next to him. Usually I don’t bring my phone with me and but usually leave it in the car, but I thought, “What if I get locked in down there (my unit is in the basement) and need to call for help?” So I took it along.

After removing several boxes and setting them onto my cart, I locked the unit and then untied Buddy. I was preoccupied with Buddy and forgot my phone on the cement floor.

Later that night, I wanted to make a phone call and realized that I did not have my phone. I looked everywhere. By then it was dark and I had to use a flashlight to investigate the ground around my condo; I looked several times everywhere that I had walked Buddy with no luck. It was nowhere in my car nor my condo.

After searching for a few hours, I got confused and couldn’t recall where I’d last held or seen the phone. I kept praying and asking God about it.

This verse came to mind while praying: “Do not be anxious about anything,…”. Apostle Paul admonished the Philippians in his letter, verse 4:6, not to worry but to trust God.

I asked the Lord to give me a new idea of where to look as I’d run out of ideas and He knew where it was. The image of my cell phone on the floor by my storage unit came to mind. I’d thought I’d picked it up but as I’d said above, confusion had already set in, particularly as I was tired from being anxious.

I pictured Jesus in the boat, sleeping peacefully and trusting God even though the boat was being swamped with water because of an unusually severe storm on the lake. That is how I should have slept, nice and peaceful trusting that the situation was in God’s hands.

But I didn’t sleep peacefully, trusting in God.

You see, I was worrying about all the photos of my adorable Buddy on my phone that I had not yet downloaded and may never see again. And the cost of purchasing a new phone when I wanted to wait for Apple to upgrade their current phone to the G5 network.

I was worrying, even though I knew I shouldn’t.

Hebrews 11:1 defines what faith is:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

One of my favorite verses in Psalms is 57:2:

“I will cry to God Most High, to God Who accomplishes all things for me.”

As I was praying, God had already reassured me not to worry and had given me an image of where the phone was. But because I could NOT SEE the phone in my hot little hand, I lacked faith that all was well. Unlike Jesus, I fretted and didn’t sleep well. As a result, I woke up the next day exhausted and not able to accomplish the task I’d set myself for the day before attending an evening class.

Thank goodness that God is forgiving when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). I confessed my lack of faith, knowing that Jesus had already taken the punishment for my sin on the cross. God was not going to punish me for my lack of faith.

I had punished myself by fretting.

And, yes, the next morning, after the storage unit had reopened for the day, I found my cell phone exactly where the Holy Spirit had already revealed it was to me during prayer. No one had picked it up and made off with it.

You can bet that I started downloading my Buddy photos that same night.

Please remember that God accomplishes all things for those who love Him. He loves His children and helps them in times of trouble. He never promised a problem free life but to assist us when trouble comes.

God bless you this year in 2020.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

***

God loves and helps His children. But the Apostle John makes it clear in the gospel of John, verses 1:12-13:

“But as many as received Him (Christ Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born…of God.”

Every human being is a creation of God, but not a child of God. Therefore, if you are not born again (John 3:1-3), ie. do not believe in Christ, you cannot claim God’s promises in the Bible. Because God is loving, He does a lot of good for people who do not know or love Him, but God’s revealed promises in the Bible cannot be claimed.

Why not start the New Year with a new 2020 vision of your future by praying the below prayer of faith:

Dear Father, I confess that I have sinned and fallen short of your righteous standards. I deserve Your judgment. But Jesus, God in the flesh, died on the Cross to take the punishment for my sin that I deserve. Please forgive my sin and make me a new creation in Christ by circumcising my heart by the Holy Spirit. I want to be born again.

If you are truly repentant, the Holy Spirit will abide in you and make you complete in Christ, connecting you to God. Please find a godly, Bible-based church to learn about, and grow, in Christ. I also recommend the radio and TV ministries of Charles Stanley (InTouch.org), Michael Youssef (LTW.org), and Basic Gospel (BasicGospel.net).

Have a great year as a new believer!

Happy New Year!

May you have 2020 Vision this new year!

To Help Us Understand, 1 John 4:8-11

Buddy.Santa.coat.2019

It’s so cute when Buddy cocks his head at me, trying to understand what I am saying. Since it’s just the two of us living in my condo, he is my main companion. I realize that he doesn’t understand most of what I’m saying, but he does know that I’m at least paying him attention and communicating.

“…God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.”–Apostle John, 1 John 4:9-11

God knew that human race wasn’t “getting it.” Out of love He sent the moral Law through Moses to lead and guide people, to protect them from evil and show them the proper way to live and get along with one another. He created the nation Israel to be a light to the world, to bless and prosper them so that the world would see that the nation that serves and loves God is blessed.

Yet this high and holy God was often rejected to pursue gods of wood and stone because people didn’t comprehend how much He loved them.

People still aren’t getting it.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Immanuel, God in human flesh (Matthew 1:23). God came down in human form so that we could understand Him and enter into fellowship with Him. Jesus healed people of physical, mental and spiritual diseases. He washed the dirty feet of His disciples. He spoke kindly to a Samaritan woman who was rejected, not only for her sex and race, but also because of her immoral behavior. He rebuked the political/religious leaders who were leading people astray, not for the purpose of destroying them but to get them to wise up. He refused to retaliate against the very men who beat, spit and crucified Him: He didn’t slander or evaporate them.

Jesus came down to speak personally to the human race so that we would understand that God loves us and is love.

To “speak our language”.

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:17)” For “Greater love has no one that this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)”

As the angel announced to the shepherds guarding their flocks Christmas night:

“I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 1:10-11)”

It is appropriate to celebrate at Christmastime. For it is joyful news that God visited humanity to dwell with us and demonstrate that He loves us. A mighty and innocent Savior who was crucified to take on the Father’s wrath for our sin so that we could be declared righteous in God’s sight without having to earn it, but merely by admitting we are sinners in need of a Savior and inviting Christ into our lives and hearts.

God wants us to get it: That the all powerful God loves us and made a way for imperfect people to be in fellowship with a pure and holy God.

To bring joy into our lives both here and for eternity.

Merry Christmas from Dawn and Buddy. May your holiday season be filled with love and joy.

 

 

True Humility, Matthew 1:23

Cute.Bud.WP.12.2019

Some of you may know that Buddy recently moved from Washington State to Arizona with me. With his unusual and goofy personality, he has been great company. I often turn around and find him keeping an eye on me, as in the photo above. (Although in this instance, he may have been thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”)

The Apostle Matthew, a one-time member of a hated group, tax collectors, quoted a prophecy uttered by the Jewish Prophet Isaiah (who lived from 739 BC to 681 BC) from Isaiah 6:14. This quote is in the first book of the New Testament in the Bible, Matthew 1:23:

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

The most amazing act of humility occurred when God became flesh and dwelt amongst us. One member of the Holy Trinity, the Son, humbled Himself to dwell within a human womb for 9 months, the most amazing act of trust ever in the Heavenly Father. And an amazing act of trust in His human caretakers, Joseph and Mary. Can you imagine having created the Heavens and the earth and then one day becoming a part of your own creation? And putting aside Your divinity for 9 months?

It boggles the mind.

He became incarnate flesh to die for our sins, taking upon Himself the punishment we deserve for falling far short of God’s holy standards, As an adult He also showed amazing humility and self-control by allowing human beings to spit on Him, beat Him, slap Him, slander and mock Him, and crucify Him. Being both man and God, He had the power to instantly destroy the men who were mistreating Him, yet didn’t utter any threats against them.

People often mock Christians, saying they are arrogant. But isn’t it arrogant to deny that you are a sinner? After death to stand before a totally pure and holy Creator and claim that you are good enough to enter Heaven and dwell in His house? Or to make up your own designer god to justify whatever behavior you want to engage in?

There is some justification for this attitude in that some Christians are not taught properly and believe they earned, or continue to earn, their salvation/good standing with God by their own efforts. That they are better than others because God is so pleased by their good deeds and holiness. So they can come off as arrogant. I get that.

I tried to become an atheist when I was in college because I didn’t like the way some Christians were treating me, but I couldn’t deny that there had to be a Creator (besides other reasons) of this wonderfully complex and interdependent system of life.

But Christians who properly understand the gospel realize that there is no way that a person can justify themselves before God.

“All of our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;” (Isaiah 64:6) in the eyes of God. Every person, no matter how good and kind they appear to us, falls far short of God’s perfect standard. I fall short every day. You fall short.

“No one is good except God alone.”–Jesus, Mark 10:18

Nobody is better than anyone else because we are all sinful in God’s eyes apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Our own works and good deeds never meet the mark. God has set the bar too high for anyone to meet.

Absolute perfection.

“Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:48

Christians (properly taught) know that their righteousness is a gift from Jesus who purchased it with His blood on the Cross. We claim His righteousness as our own through faith in His works, not our own works. (Galatians 3 by Apostle Paul.) Claim His resurrection from death into life as our own.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”–Ephesians 3:8-9, Apostle Paul

This Christmas season, let’s focus on how marvelously humble and loving our Lord Jesus is by coming to earth as a baby, growing up under the authority of human parents and then submitting His will to the Father and dying by the hands of His own creation.

Jesus’ humility boggles the mind.

 

 

What Is Hell? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Buddy.WhatIsHell?

Buddy is keeping a close eye on me while enjoying the oriental rug I laid down on my bedroom floor. The beautiful rug made the room much more homey and comfortable looking, livening up a lifeless space.

When most people think of Hell, likely what comes to mind is the Dr. Faustus version or the old Hammer Films of shooting flames and pointy-tailed demons, pitchforks, red skin and goatees.

What Hell actually is, is eternal separation from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the triune God. Which is a total absence of the presence of love, as God embodies true love and is the source of all life for eternity.

There are many attributes listed in the Bible of Who God is, but the two passages below are very succinct in their description.

The most famous passage is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 written by the Apostle Paul, often quoted during wedding ceremonies in the USA:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.”

The second passage from Galatians 5:22-23, also by Apostle Paul, describes the fruit of the Holy Spirit and how, as God works in a believer’s life, helps him or her to grow in these qualities throughout their lifetime:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

What is Hell? A complete absence of these qualities.

An eternal existence with only the exact opposite of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-controlled behavior in one’s life.

“Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”–Jesus to Nicodemus, Pharisee, John 3:3

Please consider Jesus this Christmas season. God came to earth, taking on human flesh, to satisfy the righteous requirements of His Law and to die for our sins, suffering the punishment we deserve for falling short of God’s standards to enter His holy presence.

“…knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 2:4

The Triune God loves you and wants you to spend eternity in His loving presence, “to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.”–Apostle Paul, Jude 1:24

With love from Dawn and Buddy.

What Is Heaven? Revelation 4:2-3, 5, 11

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For some reason Buddy is always getting in the way when I vacuum. He’d let me run over him if I didn’t make him move. Although Buddy can be a pain in the behind at times by frequently getting in the way and causing me to nearly trip over him, I cannot imagine my home without him. He’s great company with his unique personality.

The book of Revelation describes God the Father in all His majesty:

“Behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.  And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance…Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder…” (Revelation 4:2-3,5)

And the beings in heaven, the elders and four living creatures, were saying,

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

Heaven is God’s home. Where this great and mighty Creator sits on His throne, ruling over all creation.

There are many persons who are deceived. They reject God their entire lives, despising His restrictions and rules, thumb their noses at Him, and mock or persecute His followers. They don’t want to spend time worshipping Him or praying–unless they’re in trouble–and ignore Him.

Then, when they die, they believe they can knock on God’s front door and demand that He let them into His heavenly home.

Most people would hate being in heaven. They’d have to spend eternity with people they’ve mocked and despised during their earthly lives. They’d also have to follow God’s rules–as given in the Bible–for the rest of their existence.

Most people don’t want to go to heaven.

***

If you feel a deep emptiness inside, consider Jesus. We were created in God’s image and intended to be triune beings just as He is: mind, body and spirit. But when the first couple rejected God, His Holy Spirit left the human race, so that everyone since Adam and Eve were, and are, born incomplete: only mind and body. Nothing can fill that void but God’s Spirit. People use drugs and alcohol, popularity, shopping, food, etc to fill that emptiness, but that inner void can only be filled with God’s Spirit. It is the only way for a person to be made complete.

If you’re ready, please pray:

Lord, I feel empty inside. I’ve tried everything to fill that void except for Jesus. I admit that I have sinned and disobeyed your rules. I’d like to change and experience new life. Jesus died for my sins, taking the wrath that I deserve for my disobedience. Please forgive my sins. I want to be in relationship with You. Please grant me the Holy Spirit and grant me new life in Jesus. Thank you.

If you prayed this prayer, please find a godly, Bible-based Church to fellowship with other believers. It’s difficult to go it alone in a society that rejects God’s existence.

God bless.

Dawn and Buddy

Why The Prosperity Gospel Prospers, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Buddy.Condo.Livingroom

As Buddy was abused before I rescued him through Silky Terrier Rescue, I have usually rely upon the more modern approach of dog obedience: praise every time he does something correct. The only time I use more harsh methods is if he is in immediate danger, like trying to get under my legs when I’m driving down the freeway. He is generally a good-natured and sweet boy who, though willful like most terriers, is fairly well-behaved.

This is merely my opinion, but I believe that when the Church is in imbalance, it gives an opportunity for bad teaching to enter.

When the Church is overly focused on rebuking, rather than, praising/encouraging believers.

“…our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”–Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Under the Old Covenant, before Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins and resurrected to raise us into new life with Him, people were made right with God through following a set of rules for living, as detailed in the Old Testament Law given to the Jewish people through Moses. This is the “letter” that “kills” referred to by Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians. The Old Covenant Law was given to show humanity their complete inability to follow it perfectly, to prove their need for a New Covenant through the blood of a someone who could totally fulfill the rules 100%: Jesus Christ, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

Shortly after leaving Egypt during the Great Exodus, the Jewish people promised Moses that they would obey all that God commanded and worship Him only, but they couldn’t even keep their promise long enough to wait for Moses to return from the mountaintop before creating a golden calf to worship and dance before. They weren’t lying: they just couldn’t obey because as, unredeemed people, they didn’t have the Holy Spirit to assist them.

What I have found, after being a Christian for 30 years now, is that many pastors are very good at rebuking and exhorting the people of their congregations. But not so good at encouraging them. I think the reason is that they are eager for the people to obey God and be a positive influence in their city and culture, to stand out in a godless society to help lead others into a relationship with the Lord.

But, this is my opinion, most pastors are not trusting the Holy Spirit within each believer to lead and guide them “in the paths of righteousness”. So they tend to focus on preaching that people should obey the Law and not so much on encouragement–or how to do so.

But Apostle Paul made it clear, not only in the above verses from Corinthians, that the Law kills, but that we do not grow in sanctification, i.e. become more godly people in our walk with God–by obeying the  letter of the Law but by focusing on Christ.

One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is from Galatians, where the Apostle Paul rebukes the Galatians for trying to obey the Old Testament Law instead of following the guidance of the Holy Spirit:

“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are so you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, as you now being perfected by the flesh?”–Galatians 3:1-3

Apostle Paul was pointing out that the Christian believer came into fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the Old Testament Law. They had witnessed the Holy Christ die for their sins. They received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit by believing in Christ’s sacrifice for their sin, not by following the Old Testament Law. Paul pointed out that they were to walk in faith, to trust in Jesus as their righteousness, and not in how well they could obey.

I hope you are still following me here. The prosperity preachers focus on God’s blessings and encouragement of believers because too many preachers are focused on exhortation, leaving many persons feeling dispirited and discouraged after a sermon. I’m not advocating that pastors should never rebuke or talk about God’s standards. But they need to balance out their rebuke and call to holy living with positive messages.

Many pastors focus on what the believer can do FOR God. They make the Gospel bad news because, after a person is convicted of their sin, convinced that they are unholy in their behavior, the new believer is exhorted that they have to try really hard to meet those impossible standards.

But the Gospel isn’t bad news: It’s good news.

It’s about what Jesus DID. The focus is on God and not on us.

God initiates a relationship with us and we receive it by His grace as a freely given gift (Ephesians 2:8-10). We cannot earn it.

Charles Spurgeon, the great Victorian preacher in London, got the balance just right, in my opinion. His focus was not on what the believer could do FOR God, but always on what we can do BECAUSE OF Jesus. We are victorious BECAUSE JESUS has already won the victory over sin, death and Satan at the Cross. We can walk in the newness of life BECAUSE JESUS took our sins upon Himself and crucified them on His Cross.

When I was a young believer, I got involved in an ungodly relationship with a nonbeliever. The Holy Spirit made me horrendously miserable in my soul till I gave up the relationship. God also sat a pastor next to me during an airplane trip who gently rebuked me. The Great Shepherd kept His promise to keep me on that path of righteousness for His namesake. The pressure of the Holy Spirit was reinforced by the pastor, but without God’s pressure In my soul–my desire to obey God because I had become a “slave of obedience” (Romans 6:16)–the rebuke wouldn’t have “stuck”.

It’s about Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit. It’s not about us.

It’s about God keeping His promise, as our great Shepherd, to lead us and guide us.

Let the true Church get back into balance: rejecting the false promises of the prosperity teachers and encouraging the believer to walk by faith alone in Christ alone.

Let’s keep the focus on Jesus, the eternal God, and get it off ourselves.

“And, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”–Jesus, John 12:32

Lift up Jesus.

***

If you don’t know Jesus, why not ask Him to reveal Himself to you? If you are sincere, He will, because He loves you and wants you to be in a relationship with Him. How He does this is as individual as each of us are.

***

I’ve been absent for several months as firstly, I had foot surgery, then spent a week in Alaska with no Internet service, then packed and moved from Washington State to Arizona. It was an exhausting move for both Buddy and I to our new home, more so than I had expected. I hope to be back on track now.

I very much appreciate your reading my blog. I hope today’s blog is helpful to you. Though the language is more florid than we are accustomed to nowadays, I heartily encourage you to read some of Pastor Spurgeon’s sermons. Particularly his sermons on spiritual warfare. You’ll feel even more impassioned about what Christ has done for you.