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Are You Waiting For Something Good to Happen? Psalm 27:13-14

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Buddy was jumping up on me the other night, begging me to take him for a walk.

“Buddy, it’s too hot.  You have to wait. We’ll go later when it cools down a bit.”

Then it suddenly hit me: I’m like Buddy.

Many hundreds of times the past years I’ve cried out to God to answer two particular prayers which seemingly go unanswered. I feel like Buddy in this picture: tied to a post and not able to escape. I want my circumstances to change, to improve, but for some reason God is keeping me “stuck” in place.

When I get frustrated, I try to do three things:

  1. Recall my blessings;
  2. Remind myself of times I didn’t trust God’s timing, forged ahead and regretted it; and
  3. Remind myself of who God is.

The first two don’t need any further explanation. But regarding #3:

I have to remind myself that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He knows the future and I don’t. His plans for me are good (Jeremiah 29:11) and I have to trust that He’s making me wait because I’m either not ready for the blessing at this time or He’s still arranging the circumstances in my favor. (God normally works His will through the natural realm of things and not with a spectacular miracle.)

Additionally, there may be people He wants me to influence or help where I’m at currently. Or the experiences I’m enduring now, or have yet to encounter, will bring glory to Him and help others. It’s not always about me and what I want, but what God wants to do in the lives of others around me, too.

It could also be that I need to grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and the only way for God to encourage me to become a better person is to make me endure some suffering or hardship.

This is one of my favorite verses, which I quote when I feel discouraged and stuck:

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”–Psalm 27:13

It doesn’t build your faith when everything goes your way. Only when things seemingly go awry or our plans are frustrated or we’re opposed in some manner in reaching our goals do we need to rely on God’s promises detailed in the Bible.

It’s hard to trust when you can’t see an invisible God at work in the background. God knows waiting is really hard.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”–Psalm 27:14

God never promised us an easy path in this life (Jesus, John 16:33).

In Psalm 27, the Psalmist David reminds himself why we can wait upon God with confidence:

vs. 1, 5: We don’t need to fear because He’s our light and salvation and our defense. He will light our path and rescue us.

vs. 2-4: Evil people WILL oppose us. But we can be confident that God will cause them to stumble and fall.

vs. 8-9: God promises to answer us when we seek Him.

vs. 10: Even our family may abandon us, but God never will forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5-6)

vs. 12-13: Evil people may rise against us, outnumber us, lie about us, slander us, threaten us, but God will arise to our aid if we are

WILLING TO WAIT.

And I tell you what: Waiting is HARD, HARD, HARD!!!

Eventually, when it cooled down, Buddy got his walkie.

***

Experts claim that memorizing poems is good for you. I decided to memorize some Biblical psalms because it is not only good for my brain, but also my soul. So many times I’ve felt distressed and felt better after reciting a psalm to myself or praying through it aloud to God. Please give it a try. Psalm 100 or 23 are good poems to start with as they are fairly short. But Psalm 27 is also a very good one to memorize too.

God bless you from Dawn and Buddy

 

 

 

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What Passover Means to Christians, Exodus 11:13

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Buddy likes to hide in his cubicle which gives him the illusion of being safe. He doesn’t realize that he’s only safe because we choose not to intrude upon his “safe space”. We could easily pull him out of the cube or pick it up and drop him out of it.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Old Testament, Moses was sent by God to lead the Israelites out of bondage to the ancient Egyptians and into the Promised Land (modern Israel is only a tiny portion of this original territory). With each refusal of Pharaoh to let the people go, God sent a plague which was a judgment against each Egyptian God, proving that He was far more powerful. The last and final judgment was the most severe: God would kill the first born son of everyone in Egypt, including the cattle.

However, a family could be spared this judgment by slaying an unblemished male lamb and “take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses…”(Exodus 11:7)  The passover meal was to be eaten that same night the destroying angel came to strike the firstborn.

“The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”–Exodus 11:13

The people were spared, not because they were holier than anyone else or because they were more deserving by their good behavior, not to have the avenging angel visit their home; they were spared if they BELIEVED what God said, that Judgment was coming, and placed the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. When the destroying angel saw the blood on the house, He would PASSOVER the house. Their response by believing and acting on the warning spared their family the death of the firstborn. The innocent lamb died instead.

This mighty night symbolized the coming of the perfect Lamb of God Who would live a blameless life and die for our sins on the Cross. ‘The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!'”–John 1:29 God sent His own firstborn Son to die in our place.

We are spared the judgment of God for our sins on Judgment Day when the blood of Christ has been sprinkled on the doorposts of our hearts. When God sees our belief in Christ and His sacrifice for our sin, He PASSES OVER us in judgment and declares us righteous.

There is no other way to escape our judgment for our sin but to believe in Jesus and His sacrifice in place for our sin. We don’t work or earn our way into Heaven, because the standard is too high: We can never meet it.

People call Christianity too exclusive or unfair. It’s not fair that Christ had to die for our sin, set aside His divinity, and die when he had never done anything evil to deserve punishment. He never rejected us; humankind rejected His rule and authority and fellowship with Him. It’s fair because everyone, no matter who they are or where they are or how old they are, need only humble themselves by admitting their need for a Savior.

“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 1:8-9

Only God is perfect and only God could meet the standard of perfection to enter Heaven.

“You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Sermon On The Mount, Matthew 5:48

Have a blessed Easter.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

***

It’s true. To rejoice in God’s mercy on Judgment Day, you need only humble yourself, confessing that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior to pay the penalty for your sin, and believe. Please say the below prayer if you’d like:

Dear Lord, I confess that I’ve fallen far short of the standard required to enter Heaven and live in eternity with You in great joy. I believe that Jesus lived a blameless life, was crucified to pay for my sins, and rose from the dead, proving that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father. I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and rose bodily from the grave. Please save me and grant that the Holy Spirit enter my heart so that I’ll be born-again. Please grant me eternal life and walk with me throughout this life. Teach me Your ways.

If you prayed this prayer, please find a Bible-believing Church and get a Bible in some form to grow in a knowledge of God. Congratulations on starting your eternal life.

 

 

God’s Mysterious Ways, Proverbs 3:5-6

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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

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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.

 

Where Is Your Faith? Luke 8:22-25a

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It’s Seahawks football season again. Last year Buddy hid in the master bathtub because the neighborhood shoots off booms and bangs every time the Hawks score a touchdown. He also runs off when a family member claps their hands to cheer a good play.

Christians, including myself, are not immune to fear. As a result, we don’t always move forward in faith when we should. Yet, sometimes Jesus pushes us into fearful situations to increase our faith and trust in Him.

“Now on one of those days Jesus and HIs disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they launched out.

But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.

They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.

And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?'”–Luke 8:22-25a

Sometimes I get frustrated with my fellow Christians. Maybe that is wrong. But here is the reason: According to the US Government Census page, our USA population is slowly approaching 326 million people. 40% of the population claims to be born-again, or 130 million, 400 thousand people. I assume they are all old enough to make the claim. When I was discussing this with a friend recently, they claimed that only about 10% of the 40% is sincere. OK, so that’s 13 million and 40 thousand people.

For several years I’ve been listening to the Christian community claim that it’s all over for America. Really?

After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, 12 apostles and five thousand new converts turned the known world upside down, starting a spiritual, and ultimately a cultural, revolution that has lasted for over 2 thousand years. So I ask my fellow 13 million plus fellow American believers: Where is your faith?

“And He (Jesus) could do no miracles there except that He laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.”–Mark 6:5-6

Perhaps the problem in America with it’s increasingly debauched culture isn’t that God has given up on America, but that we have given up on praying to God for spiritual renewal. It’s really easy to get busy with family or recreation or business and not leave time to pray. Or exhaust ourselves with guilt and worry and anger and not have the energy to pray.

Or, simply, not ask God for spiritual renewal and hunger in America because of simple unbelief. Not asking because we don’t believe it’s possible. We’re looking at the waves surging around us of cultural rot and animosity toward Christianity and the Bible and tossing our hands up in the air in despair, instead of getting on our knees and praying.

As Dr. Charles Stanley says, “The battle is won on our knees.”

I’m not satisfied in watching souls die without the Lord and hope.

I’m going to start spending more time in prayer that God raise up godly evangelists, particularly among the new generation becoming adults. And for spiritual renewal in America. Please pray with me.

Until Jesus returns, we’re to be salt (a preservative) and light. We’re all here at this time for a reason. Have faith, my friends!

The Third Guy, Matthew 25:14-29

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Buddy had been abused before I had adopted him. He was three years old at that time and very frightened of my family. He didn’t make a single sound for three days, not even a sniff or a cough. We feared his voice box had been damaged and were about to take him to the veterinarian to be examined when, fortunately, he gave a small woof at the neighbor’s dog. When he wasn’t punished for making a noise, he slowly became more vocal. It took about 1.5 years before he stopped ducking every time we reached toward him. It made us very sad. Now, after 7 years, he is the most talkative dog we’ve ever had and I enjoy his attempts to communicate with us. After living with him for so many years, we usually understand what he’s saying.

Jesus told a parable about a master and his three slaves. Their master gave his servants a great opportunity to show their value to him. He went away on a trip and left them with some money with the expectation they would increase it somehow. Upon his return, two of his servants had invested the money wisely and doubled the amount. They were greatly praised and rewarded. The third slave, fearing his master and thinking he was a harsh and punishing man, didn’t invest the money but, instead, hid it in the ground. This parable is referred to as the Parable of the Three Talents (the talent being the issue of currency in the tale).

Because the third slave didn’t invest the money wisely and bring an increase of the master’s money that was entrusted to him, the master became very angry and had him cast into the outer darkness.

Usually this tale is interpreted as Jesus telling us that He wants us to utilize our lives for His glory and not to waste the gifts and talents given to us. The third slave goes to Hell as he does not invest his life wisely.

Why did the third guy fail so miserably?

It’s because he didn’t love and trust his master. He even had the gall, in attempting to excuse himself for being such a poor steward of the talent given to him, to tell the master to his face:

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”–Matthew 25:24-25 NASB

Often people reject knowing Jesus and submitting to Him as their God and master because they fear him. Like the third guy, they don’t live their lives for God’s glory because they believe God is a harsh master who cannot be trusted. They don’t know Jesus so therefore they don’t trust that He loves them and wants to bless them. But what does Jesus say about Himself?

“I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”–John 10:10b-11

Jesus loves us so much that He laid down His life to die for our sins so that we can be declared pleasing/righteous in God’s eyes. He had to do this because God cannot tolerate sin, so Jesus had to purify us from our sins so that we can enter into God’s presence and fellowship with Him.  There’s no way we can be good enough, no matter how hard we try, so the perfect God/man had to die for our sins. His righteousness is a gift, given to us, just for the asking through an act of faith.

But it takes an act of trust to ask God to enter your life and be your Father and Lord.

As the Good Shepherd, He can be trusted to guide your life to “green pastures”. (Please read Psalm 23). Ask Him to forgive your sin and invite Him to enter into your heart and be your Lord. I’m not promising you’ll have an easier life. But you will never regret it.

And you’ll have eternal life with a reward so wonderful that you cannot imagine it.

Being Perfect: Matthew 5:49

Perfect.Buddy

To me my little Silky terrier, Buddy, is perfect because I love him. Is he really perfect? No. But when I look at him, I’m not thinking about the times he’s been a bad boy: I’m thinking about how fun he is and loyal and quirky. I’m not focusing on his bad traits (which are very few, of course).

Many Christians love Jesus with all their hearts but don’t really understand their salvation, so oftentimes they’ll preach the bad news to unbelievers. Yet, the Gospel is called “the Good News”. What makes it good, and not bad, news?

During the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus’ most famous sermon, He tells how to be a good person. It’s very convicting because no one can live up to it 24/7, no matter how hard a person tries and how sincerely. Yet Jesus proclaims during the sermon:

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:49

Perfect? God expects me to be perfect?

Often, in sincerity, Christians will proclaim that you must do good deeds and live up to God’s Laws to be pleasing to Him. Some even claim you can lose your salvation if you aren’t good enough. But Jesus said that God’s standard was “perfection”. James also proclaimed:

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”–James 2:10

What James is saying: if you try to please God by attempting to live up to His standards, yet fail just once, you’re guilty. The law of good works condemns you to Hell.

So anyone who tells you that you can be good enough to be pleasing to God, just doesn’t have it quite right. Because it’s impossible to be perfect. God is so incomprehensibly far holier than we could ever imagine or hope to be in this lifetime.

But here’s the GOOD NEWS: “By grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.”–Apostle Paul, Ephesians 2:8-9

God declares you righteous by faith, not by your good deeds (works): not by being good enough or staying good enough. The truth is: You can NEVER be good enough in this lifetime.

It’s a GIFT: You don’t work to earn it. It’s an act of mercy by a loving, yet holy, God to bring you into a love relationship with Him.

The GOOD NEWS is that you’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ. What is that exactly? By believing that Jesus was God in the flesh, died on the Cross to take the penalty of God’s wrath for your sin, and that He was resurrected from the grave.

“My righteous one shall live by faith.”–Hebrews 10:38.

“And without faith it’s impossible to place Him…”–Hebrews 11:6

And, because it’s still impossible to be perfect after your salvation, you maintain your walk by faith (Galatians 3:1-3). You’re declared “not guilty” by the Great Judge because Jesus nailed your sin to His Cross (Colossians 2:14). If you come to faith in Jesus, on Judgment Day, you will “stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.”–Jude 24

When you believe in Jesus and become born-again (receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit), God looks down on you like I look at Buddy: with eyes of love and not condemnation.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.”–Romans 8:1

“And their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.”–Hebrews 10:17

More later on the counterbalance: Actions have consequences.