Archive | November 2017

God’s Compassion, Ezekiel 18:32

Buddy.on.bed.WP

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore my little Silky terrier, Buddy. He has a unique and spunky personality and I’d miss him terribly if anything ever happened to him. I don’t love him because he’s perfect, but because he’s my pal.

Do you ever consider that God would miss you terribly if you didn’t go to Heaven after you died?

There is a mistaken idea that the New Testament God is kind and compassionate, but that the Old Testament God is cruel and uncaring. But that’s not true.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”–Ezekiel 18:32 (Old Testament)

Because God is perfectly holy and cannot tolerate evil, He won’t permit us to enter Heaven because we’ll mess it up, just as we’ve messed up earth. Just listen to the news every day: Do you want that in Heaven?

However, He found a way to fellowship with unholy people by sending Jesus to die for our sins.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”–John 3:16-17 (New Testament)

God the Father has no desire to see us perish eternally. He wants us to be with Him. If we are willing to humble ourselves–forsake our pride and admit that we have fallen short of His holy standards–He covers our sin with the blood of Jesus and no longer sees it.

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12 (Old Testament)

God the Father loves you. And so does Jesus. He suffered a terrible death to pay for your sins. And the Holy Spirit loves you too and will live within you and help “guide (you) in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.”–Psalm 23:3b

All you have to do is believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, admit you’re a sinner and cannot meet God’s righteous standards, and ask Him to forgive you and enter into your heart.

And He’ll do it immediately because He loves you and wants you to be with him–for eternity.

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God’s Mysterious Ways, Proverbs 3:5-6

Buddie.wp

My family had been without a dog for 1.5 years and it felt like something was missing: Nobody to joyously greet me when I returned from a stressful day at work, nobody to cuddle when I felt lonely or cold, and no one forcing me to take a walk in the rain. It was time for a dog but my heart had been set upon rescuing a Silky terrier since my beloved dog who had died, Buster, was a Silky. I’d been searching the Silky terrier rescue site for a year but no dog had been posted for Washington state. I was getting discouraged.

But after returning from an extended vacation and in a state of near exhaustion, I was using my iPad (now ancient) and accidentally hit the bookmark for the Silky terrier website. I hadn’t intended to surf to that site but it popped up.

And there was Buddy, a three-year-old rescue in Washington State. I immediately contacted them and made arrangements to meet Buddy the following weekend at the dog show at the fairgrounds up north.

An accident? Or was God answering my prayers.

I’ve recently read, (and don’t recall where), that we usually misname Divine Providence as miracles, meaning that a miracle is when God intervenes in a supernatural way that isn’t a normal and natural process, such as Jesus walking on the water or turning water into wine. Versus Divine Providence, which is God intervening and answering our prayers but through the natural processes of the world.

I believe my accidentally hitting that bookmark was God directing me, because I likely wouldn’t have my sweet little fellow if I had delayed.

I don’t know about you, but most of the time I don’t see God working in my life. He was preparing Buddy in answer to my prayers but I couldn’t see Him working. So I was getting discouraged.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”–Proverbs 3:5-6

I usually want to lean on my own understanding and try to figure out what God is doing and how He is doing it. Or when something goes wrong, I figure He’s teaching me a lesson.

But maybe He’s really working on a blessing that takes time to arrange all of the difference aspects of the problem in a natural way and I need to trust that He’s working it out for my benefit although I see nothing happening.

Several years ago my car was leaking oil but the auto repair shop couldn’t get it to stop. I didn’t want to buy a new car, but I was starting to funnel too much money into a twelve-year-old car, so it was time to call it quits. (Another $600+ dollars and still leaking.)

Little did I know that the following summer I would be driving downtown Seattle, early on a Saturday morning, and a homeless man would walk out from in front of a moving garbage truck right before me in the middle of a street. I couldn’t see him coming, nor did I expect a pedestrian to stroll out from the front of a giant behemoth of a public vehicle in motion. Since I had a new Toyota, I was able to brake and turn quickly to the right to avoid him. If I’d had my old car with its truck-like steering and slow brakes (little did I know till I got my new car how suckie they were), I’m pretty sure I would’ve hit him. I still get scared thinking about it. (I won’t mention the car-maker of the older car as as it did serve me well many years.)

(And talk about God protecting the homeless guy, who jaywalked across the middle of a street in front of a garbage truck and automobile and didn’t get hit. He looked to be pretty hung over or still in alcohol’s iron grip of insobriety. I’m assuming the garbage truck driver nearly had a coronary too as he obviously couldn’t stop.)

“And we KNOW that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”–Roman 8:28

I thought having to spend money for a new car was a bad thing, but God was letting my car continue to leak oil and not be repaired to protect both me and the homeless guy. I have to remind myself of God’s promises when I start getting discouraged and focus on what I KNOW about God from His Word and not listen to my feelings, which can be erratic or manipulated.

So next time something suckie happens, trust that God will somehow bring good out of it. After all, the Bible often promises to deliver us from trouble, not to prevent us from getting into trouble. We cannot see the power of God operating in our lives if there are no situations to deliver us from.

“My eyes are continually toward the Lord, For He will pluck my feet out of the net.”–David, Psalm 25:15

***

If you’re realizing you’re trapped in a net of your own devising, that you don’t have any power to deliver yourself from your own behavior, congratulations. There’s hope in Jesus for anyone humble enough to admit they need His help. Please say the below prayer:

Dear Father, I cannot meet your perfect standard of righteousness and earn my way to Heaven. Righteousness is a gift from You. Thank you for sending Jesus, Emmanuel, God in the Flesh (Matthew 1:23) to live a perfectly pleasing life and to take the punishment for my sin on His Cross. I believe He died and rose bodily, an acceptable sin sacrifice on my behalf. I invite You to come into my heart and help me to follow You. I want to change and be a better person. I trust You to answer my prayer because You love me. Thank you.

If you said this prayer, God bless you. You’re in the family of God. Please find a local, Bible-based church to fellowship with and grow as a believer. We’re in this together.

 

***

Sadly, I avoid visiting Seattle as much as possible. I no longer am a season ticket holder or attend meetings like I used to. I have spoken to many persons who are telling me the same thing. If you visit Seattle as a tourist, be very watchful if you’re driving and be sure not to drive too fast. It only takes a moment for a bike to zip in front of you or a pedestrian with their nose stuck to their cellphone to step off the curb unexpectedly when you have a green light. If you don’t need to travel outside downtown, I recommend not driving yourself around and using alternative transportation, like a cab.

 

God Is Love, 1 John 4:16

Buddy.Cute.WP

One reason I love this photo is because I love Buddy. He is great company, particularly when I’m alone in the house at night. And because I love him, I don’t think about the bad boy things he has done: I see him as perfect and totally lovable.

The Apostle John, who laid his head against Christ’s breast when Jesus walked the earth, declared that “God is love,”–1 John 4:16

When most people think of Heaven, they think of angels on clouds and green meadows full of flowers and meeting their loved ones again, looking young and healthy. They usually don’t think of it as a place where God dwells.

Since God is love and dwells in Heaven, guess what Hell could be defined as? Not as a place of fire and brimstone, but a place where God does not dwell, a place totally absent of love.

Please think about that. Hell is a place with no mercy, no kindness, no laughter, no joy, no peace, no faithfulness, no goodness, no patience, no freedom…(Galatians 5:22) I’m sure you can think of many others.

I think most people, if mentally healthy, would prefer to go to Heaven and not Hell, but they have a misunderstanding about how to get there. This will shock most people: IT’S NOT BY BEING GOOD! or , like pictured in an Egyptian papyrus painting, I have, “IT’S NOT BY HAVING YOUR GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGHING YOUR BAD.”

To address the latter firstly: If you think it’s by having your good deeds outweighing the bad, how do you define your good and your bad deeds? God is perfect. His definition of “bad” is far broader than ours is. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I realize how bad I really am, because I become more familiar with what God’s standards really are. When someone asked Jesus what he must do to “inherit eternal life”, Jesus responded, “No one is good except God alone.”–Luke 18:18

This seems to me a really iffy program to place my hope on to obtain eternal life in Heaven. How do you really know when your good deeds outweigh your bad? How many points does gossip get versus donating a toy to Toys for Tots? That method would keep me awake at night.

Most people don’t understand the gospel (which means “good news”). It’s not good news to tell me that I need to work really hard to be good and hope that maybe I did well enough to pass muster on Judgment Day. God cannot tolerate evil, i.e. sin. He demands perfection. In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus declared, “You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:48  I blew that one a long time ago.

That’s why Jesus had to die. Only He was good enough, being God in the flesh, to live a perfect life and take our punishment for God’s wrath against sin. We don’t do anything to earn Heaven except humble ourselves and admit we’re sinners and need Jesus’ blood to cover our sin for us. And because He rose from the dead, proving Himself to be God and His sacrifice acceptable, ask Him to empower us by giving us the Holy Spirit to live His life through us.

Then God sees us as perfect and totally lovable, just like I love my Buddy.

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12

And that’s good news, not working for my eternal life but accepting that Jesus already did it for me.

Sadly, admitting they’re not perfect is just too difficult for most people.

PS. If someone says this is wrong, it’s not by faith in Christ but good works, then ask them, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

***

If you agree with me, “Hey, I’d like to go to Heaven and live with this loving God for eternity, and I know I’m not perfect, I’ve missed the mark,” please pray:

Dear Father, I’m sorry I’ve screwed up and fallen far short of your standards. I know I’m far from perfect but I believe you love me and want me to spend eternity with you. I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and died for my sins. That He lived the perfect life I couldn’t live. Please forgive me and grant me Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Amen.