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True Liberty, Ephesians 2:1-6, 8

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As you can see, Buddy wore this hat to please me, but he wasn’t at all pleased about having his photo taken. His ears are pulled back because he is not at all happy about having the hat on his head. But he loves me so he put up with it.

On July 4th most* Americans are celebrating the founding of the United States, the declaration of our Independence from the rule of Great Britain. We are a unique nation because our Bill of Rights and US Constitution were designed to check the power of government over the population and balance that government’s power between the states and the different branches of the Federal Government, to ensure the freedom of our citizens.

Sadly, however, most people think they are free but they live in bondage.

Unbelievers live in bondage to sin but do not realize it, having never experienced the true freedom that Jesus Christ bought for us by dying for our sins on the Cross. Jesus paid the penalty to free us from our desires–and then was resurrected to give us eternal life. This life comes via the Holy Spirit Who indwells each believer after they accept Jesus as Lord and God in the flesh and what He did to free us from spiritual bondage.

Apostle Paul summarized this dilemma for unbelievers in the epistle of Ephesians:

“And you were dead in the your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience…indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath…But God, being rich in mercy, because of HIs great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins, made us alive together in Christ…” Ephesians 2:1-5

Until I became a Christian, I had no power over my sinful desires. I tried to be good but often failed. Christ’s Holy Spirit freed me from this bondage. Now I can choose right (as God defines it in the Scriptures) or wrong. Having been a nonbeliever till I was 28 years old, I have a lot of bad attitudes, wrong habits and sinful thinking to overcome, so sometimes I choose to do wrong, even if I know it’s wrong. But I now have a choice: before, I didn’t. I was in slavery to Satan. When I lose my temper, it’s not because God’s Holy Spirit doesn’t have the power to prevent me from being angry, but because I have sinful and selfish attitudes–self absorption–that is prompting me to be unkind that I have to learn to overcome with HIS help.

But believers also unknowingly, or willingly because of pride and/or arrogance, are in bondage. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the moral Laws of God, yet many believers remain in slavery because they still try to win God’s approval by being good. However, Jesus declared that only God is good (Matthew 19:17) . No human being can be good enough to earn their way into Heaven and God’s presence.

Ephesians 2:6 was not completely quoted above:

“even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”

And Apostle Paul continues to explain in Ephesians 2:8:

“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.”

Some people come to Christ and come under legalistic teachers, where they are led to believe that, if they continue to be good enough, God will be pleased with them.

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law (obeying God’s rules), then Christ died needlessly…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”–Galatians 2:21-3:2-3

Pleasing God and obeying His rules is a good thing for our lives. We still reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) and God disciplines us for His name’s sake and out of love for us, like a good Father does when His children go astray (Psalm 23:3, Revelation 3:19). But it does not make us right with God. Accepting the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf by faith put us into right relationship with God, and only faith in Jesus Christ keeps us in right relationship with God. (Another post for more details in the future.) Apostle Paul made it clear that the Galatians were being foolish by trying to make themselves right with God through their own efforts, rather than continuing to live by faith in Jesus Christ.

So whether you are in the bondage of unbelief in Christ or in the bondage of a legalistic relationship with God, why not celebrate true freedom and ask Jesus to set you free?

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”–Jesus, John 8:36

***

*Some mistakenly believe Socialism is a good thing. The United States was founded on the principle that the government exists to serve the people. Under Socialism, the people exist to serve and, be ruled over by, the government. Karl Marx made it very clear in his writings that Christians were fools and that Socialism was created to destroy the middle class and its bourgeois, Christian values. Check it out by reading his writings for yourself; don’t rely on what others say about what he wrote or meant, even me. I’ve read the Communist Manifesto multiple times. I know when I am being lied to because I’ve read it myself.

And please read the Bible for yourself. If with true sincerity, you ask God to guide your understanding as you read, He will. Apostle Paul applauded the Berean’s for verifying what he was teaching them by checking the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-11).

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Trusting In God’s Protection, Isaiah 41:10

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There’s been several times when Buddy has fought me while I’ve been trying to hold him to ensure that he lands safely: whether placing him in this washtub in the laundry room to check that he doesn’t have an injury to his back paw and wash it clean or when I try to place him on the ground in the garage after a drive in my car. He spreadeagled himself across the laundry tub tonight and he often fights me to leap out of my arms onto the carport, instead of trusting me to hold him tightly and guarantee he has a safe landing on the concrete.

This verse is one of my favorites and has sustained me emotionally in many an unstable or frightening situation:

“Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”–Isaiah 41:10

And “For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand. Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.'”–Isaiah 41:13

God makes these statements after reminding His people through the prophet Isaiah that He is omnipotent, omniscient and cannot be conquered.

That:

He loves us and carries us close to His heart as our great Shepherd. Isaiah 40:11

He needs no counsel. Isaiah 40:13

The nations are as nothing compared to His power. Isaiah 40:15

No judge or ruler can defeat Him. Isaiah 40:25

He is so powerful that He created the stars, sustains them and calls these many myriad celestial bodies by name. Isaiah 40:26

He has no equal. Isaiah 40:25

He never becomes tired. Isaiah 40:28

He gives strength to the weary. Isaiah 40:29

He gives power to those who lack it. Isaiah 40:29

He is impossible to understand (in other words, He cannot be tricked). Isaiah 40:28

If you are born-again, you can be assured that, regardless of whatever situation you are currently finding yourself in, God is with you and can guarantee a safe landing–if you don’t try to wrestle out of the safety of His might arms.

Please don’t reject His ways and try to solve your problem apart from His godly wisdom. It may not seem like it at first, but eventually you’ll be glad you followed Biblical wisdom and counsel, instead of doing what felt right emotionally or succumbed to what the culture said was right. I can verify this statement from personal experience–positive and negative.

Another favorite verse of mine:

“Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I keep your word.”–Psalm 119:67

A wrong reaction can make a bad situation, worse.

God bless you. From Dawn and Buddy

***

I lost five good friends and one relative during the period November 23, 2018 through April 9th, 2019. The last death was a bit of a shock and I felt rather depressed, mourning my elderly friend’s death. Several times I got to share the gospel with him before he passed on–the last time was several hours before a massive stroke incapacitated him and led to his death two days later. Between the efforts of his cousin and I, I think he made it to Heaven by God’s grace, giving him the extra months to come to salvation. I’m looking forward to seeing my friend again one day.

Do you have the hope of reuniting with your loved ones in Heaven? Please consider Jesus, Who died to pay the penalty for your sins, a penalty demanded by a Holy God, and was raised to life to give us eternal life by the power of the Holy Spirit, the seal of our promise of eternity (Ephesians 4:30). Why not invite Him to reveal to you how much He loves you right now?

I hope to be more regular with my blog posting throughout the summer. Thanks for reading.

National Packrat Day, May 17th

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Revealing to my followers another side of myself: cartooning. I was thrilled last year when I discovered there was a National Packrat Day so that I finally had a use for this cartoon I drew years ago.

I learned that my identify does not rest in my talent. I am not a cartoonist. I am a Christian who does cartooning. First and foremost I am a child of God. But I’m thankful for this talent He has given me as it has provided me with endless hours of amusement and some cheer to others.

Have a ratty day!

Are You Starving Yourself? Ten Reasons Not To. (Part 2) Matthew 4:4

 

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Buddy is the only dog I’ve ever owned who loves bread. In fact, I’m not sure if he would choose a piece of steak over a piece of bread. I might test him someone soon to see which he would prefer.

God commands us to eat bread, spiritual bread that nourishes our souls:

And Jesus said to Satan, “‘It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”–Matthew 4:4

Last week I listed five reasons why we should read the Bible, God’s Word. To shorten the posts, I split the list into two blog postings. Below are the remaining five points:

  1. To know right from wrong, we have to study God’s Word. It’s a big book and there is a lot of wisdom in it. If we say we’re Christians but just go about living life based upon what the culture says is right and wrong, and not sifting our decisions and thoughts against what the Bible says, then we’re acting like Adam and Eve, denying what God commands and deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong. We avoid unnecessary harm by obeying God. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-3, King David).”
  2. The Scriptures are good for you, mentally and physically. “”Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3:7-8, King Solomon).” And, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-19, Jesus).” “Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways…Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates,…all who hate me love death (Proverbs 8:36).” “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him (Psalm 2:12).” “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him (Proverbs 30:5).”
  3. So that you can pray with confidence. God promises to answer our prayers if it’s according to His will. How can you know that you’re praying in accordance with God’s will? Know the Scriptures! “Let my cry come before You, O Lord; give me understanding according to Your word. Let my supplication come before You; deliver me according to your word (Psalm 119:169-170).” And, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him (1 John 5:14, Apostle John).”
  4. Knowing the Bible will protect you from false prophets, false teaching and falsehood. “I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints (Jude 3).” “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; (1 Thessalonians 5:21).”
  5. Lastly, because it’s God speaking to us. We should listen to our Lord and Savior. “But know this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20).” If you love someone, you want to get to know them better. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37, Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 6:4).”

I hope you are now convinced of the necessity of daily reading God’s Word. May I suggest starting with reading one book of Proverbs for each day of the month? In other words, Proverbs 1 for the first day of the month, Proverbs 2 for the second day of the month, etc. Read Proverbs 31 on a thirty day month either on day thirty with Proverbs 30 or on the first day of the month with Proverbs 1.

If you miss a day or several, just continue with the program. You will find that these proverbs will begin to sink into your heart and when you face a certain situation, the Holy Spirit will bring the proverb to your mind to guide you. He’s done that for me many times.

God bless you richly as you grow in the knowledge of Him and His Word.

Dawn and Buddy

 

Are You Starving Yourself? Ten Reasons Not to. (Part 1) Matthew 4:4

Bud@MuddBay.WP

Buddy’s most favorite place in the whole world (besides being at my side, or so I delude myself) is the local pet food store, Mud Bay in Maple Valley. He goes wild in the car when he realizes we’re near the shop. The regular employees know Buddy and give him treat samples, but his favorite is Brianna. He loves checking out the bags of dog food, bags of snacks, bins of dog bones and treats. For Buddy, it’s a doggie play palace.

I ask, “Are you starving yourself?” because many people are like Buddy: They enjoy a good, tasty meal of food but are starving themselves spiritually. Their bodies are fit but their souls are hungry.

When Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the desert wilderness after He had fasted for 40 days, Jesus counteracted every temptation with the Word Of God.

In response to the first temptation, Jesus told Satan, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the south of God.'”–Matthew 4:4

Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.

The first five of ten points:

  1. Jesus emphasized that knowing God’s Word is vitally important. Just like food, we should be reading the Bible every day and praying for God to guide us. We cannot go six days ignoring the Bible and think that just a few hours on Sunday morning is good enough. You wouldn’t starve yourself all week and expect one meal on Sunday morning would get you through the week. (Above quotes.)
  2. Jesus used the Bible to counteract all three of Satan’s temptations. The more of God’s you have memorized, the longer your Sword of the Spirit will be to vanquish your spiritual enemies and temptation. The Word of God is the only offensive weapon listed by Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:17. The other pieces of armor listed are defensive.
  3. Although we live under the New Covenant (New Testament), we still need the lessons of the entire Word of God. Firstly, Jesus and the apostles quoted from the Old Testament. And, secondly, both apostles Paul and Peter instructed Christians to read the Old Testament writings. “…they were written for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11, Apostle Paul).” And “…you should remember the words spoken by the holy prophets… (2 Peter 3:2).” Also, “ALL SCRIPTURE (emphasis mine) is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; … (2 Timothy 3:16, Apostle Paul).”
  4. God’s Word helps us to become better people, to be progressively sanctified. We are declared righteous in God’s sight by faith, but in order to be light in the World, we need God’s Word to help us become better people. “…like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (1 Peter 2:2).” Babies frequently yearn for milk, they don’t have it occasionally. It’s their daily diet.
  5. To obey God, we should read God’s Word. Multiple times we’re commanded to know God’s Word and teach it to the next generation. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Joshua).”

The past six months or so God has revealed to me that I have a lot of contentious thoughts. I debate issues with imaginary people in my mind where I can always win the argument. I’m improving in cutting the thoughts off in mid-stride, but this verse came to me this past week and it’s helped a lot to meditate on it:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9, Jesus, Sermon on the Mount).”

When this verse comes to mind, it really helps me break free of my argumentative ruminations. I want to be a peacemaker. The verse speaks to one of my core desires: to encourage and uplift people. I feel happier and have more energy, because I’m not wasting my mental energy on contentious or useless thinking. I can now redirect my thoughts toward more creative and productive thoughts. However, the Holy Spirit would not be bringing this verse to my mind if I didn’t know it from reading or hearing it many times till it sank into my subconscious mind.

I had originally planned only 3 points but came up with 10. I’ll post the other 5 next week so that this post isn’t too long.

May God bless you as you read His Holy Word. Please remember that it is a supernatural book and pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance before you start reading.

Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate your time. Have a great day or evening.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

Lamest Sermon Ever! Jonah 3:1-10

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I can’t say that I’m always eager to take Buddy for a walk when I return home from work. He’s always so excited to see me, however, that I “suck it up” for his sake and we trudge out into the rain and/or cold weather to please him.

Probably everyone knows the spectacular aspect of Jonah’s story, that he was swallowed by a whale. What the average person doesn’t know is why. God told Jonah to travel to Nineveh, which was in ancient Assyria, and preach that they repent of their sins or face God’s judgment. Jonah, however, hated the Ninevites because they were cruel and wicked people: He wanted God to judge and destroy them.

However, it seems that Jonah didn’t know God too well. He takes a ship to Tarshish in the opposite direction of Nineveh, to escape “from the presence of God” (Jonah 1:3). Seems he didn’t know God was omnipresent, i.e. everywhere. God tosses the ship around in a violent storm because of Jonah’s disobedience, so the crewmen reluctantly throw Jonah overboard. Here’s the big irony: The pagans did everything they could to save Jonah’s life as they didn’t want to toss him overboard to his death. When the sea suddenly calmed when Jonah hit the water, the seamen repented and acknowledged God as their savior from the storm. These pagans had more compassion on Jonah, even though he caused them great distress, than Jonah, one of God’s representatives, had on the Ninevites.

A whale swallows Jonah, saving him from drowning. After he finally repents of his disobedience after three days and nights in its belly (this was one stubborn dude), the whale vomits him up onto dry land. God then commands Jonah once again to go preach to the Ninevites to repent of their sin, “120,000 persons (Jonah 4:11).” Jonah obeys, but with a sullen attitude. He walks an entire day through Nineveh, proclaiming this greatest of all sermons:

“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”–Jonah 3:3

That’s it. Charles Spurgeon or Martin Luther probably produced greater sermons during their sneezes.

Yet the King orders everyone to fast and put on sackcloth as a sign of repentance–even the animals were clothed with sackcloth:

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.’

And when God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”–Jonah 3:6-10

God loved the Ninevites, despite their wickedness, and didn’t want to destroy them. He wanted to give them a chance to repent.

Jonah was very angry that the city repented, but that’s another point for later. What I want to emphasize now is that Jesus encourages us to pray and promises to answer our prayers. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22)” But we often think that we aren’t eloquent or fervent enough to be heard, or that we aren’t important enough to warrant God’s notice or don’t know how to spin out long-winded prayers that convince God to respond. We might read the Psalms of King David and think, “I fall far short. I sound really lame compared to him.”

Our prayers may be puny or weak–or maybe just two heartfelt words, “Help, Jesus!” What we just need to do is only this: pray to the One True and Living God.

“…whatever you ask of the FATHER in MY NAME HE may give to you (John10:16b)”. Because “All authority has been given to ME (Jesus) in heaven and on earth (Mark 28:18)”. (CAPS mine for emphasis.)

The Ninevites repented because God’s power was already at work in their hearts; it was His desire to see them repent or He wouldn’t have bothered to send Jonah. He could’ve just zapped them all with fire and brimstone, like Sodom and Gomorrah, and gotten it over with.

I truly believe that Jesus was not able to do “many miracles there (Nazareth) because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58)” as the people in His hometown of Nazareth didn’t believe that He was the Lord God in the flesh, Immanuel, having lived with him since his childhood, so they didn’t ask. They didn’t realize that He was the Incarnation that the prophet Isaiah prophesied about, even though Jesus had declared Himself to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the coming Messiah in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:17-21) at the beginning of His ministry.

About 700 years before Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, Isaiah prophesied that God would become flesh and dwell amongst us (Matthew 1:23):

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace…”–Isaiah 9:6

So the point I’m trying to make is: Pray and trust God to work. The power is not in how eloquent or long or interesting your prayers are; the power flows from The Lord Of Hosts (Lord of Angel Armies) Who answers your prayers. And proclaim Christ as Lord, trusting not in your power and effort but in God’s power that works in the hearts of people.

“God rules over the nations.”–Psalm 47:8

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains; The world, and those who dwell in it.”–Psalm 24:1

“The Lord is King forever and ever; Nations have perished from His land. O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear…” Psalm 10:16-17

Pray your feeble prayers and trust an all powerful, loving God to answer.

***

It’s my prayer that this blog blesses you. If I was relying upon my eloquence and not the hope that God is using my words, I’d despair because I often feel like I’m falling short. God wants us to honor Him, not honor ourselves. Not because He’s arrogant but because Dawn cannot save your soul; only He can redeem you. If your prayers aren’t being answered, are you sure that you’re praying to the true and living God as depicted in the Bible? Many people deny the Deity of Christ, but He clearly instructs us to pray to the Father in His name. Would you please consider who your faith is in: yourself or Jesus, the loving Savior? The One Who died for your sins so that you don’t have to pay for them yourself on Judgment Day. Your efforts, your works–or His work?

God bless you. Dawn and Buddy

 

Why Adam and Eve Still Matter, Genesis 3:1

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Sometimes Buddy is reluctant to obey when I call him into the house. He loves snooping around the backyard, investigating whether some doggoned possum, cat, mouse or rat has been intruding upon his territory. But, when I’m insistent, he listens to me and comes through the back door. I make sure that I praise him profusely to encourage him to continue to obey me. He obeys me because he loves and trusts me.

Why is Adam and Eve still relevant today?

The main point of the story about the Temptation and Fall of Humanity when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is: They stopped trusting God and wanted to determine for themselves what was right and wrong, instead of listening to what the God of Love (1 John 4:16) defined what was right and wrong.

Satan began his temptation with the statement, “Indeed, has God said,…?”–Genesis 3:1

Lucifer tempted Adam and Eve to distrust that God was truthful and knew what was best for them, that He was a good God Who should be obeyed.

I think our society is in chaos right now because too many people no longer believe that the Bible is the standard for defining what is right and wrong. They have become their own gods, defining morality for themselves.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness”  —Indeed, has God said? (Exodus 20:16)

“You should not slander.”–Indeed, has God said? (Leviticus 19:16)

“You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart;”–Indeed, has God said? (Leviticus 19:17)

Justice is to be impartial, not favoring the poor nor deferring to the great.–Indeed, has God said? (Leviticus 19:15)

Humankind, male and female, are made by God in His image.–Indeed, has God said? (Genesis 1:27)

“Every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”–Indeed, has God said? (Jesus, Matthew 12:36)

There will be a great Judgment of everyone after death, “everyone was judged according to their deeds.”–Indeed, has God said? (Revelation 20:12-16)

Jesus is God in the flesh.–Indeed, has God said? (Matthew 1:23)

Judgment can be escaped through faith in Jesus Christ, which is not earned, but a gift from God.–INDEED, HAS GOD SAID? Satan screams. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for our sins on the Cross and was resurrected to give us eternal life.–INDEED, HAS GOD SAID??? (John 3:16)

God is love. We don’t need to be afraid of Him.–I HATE GOD!! Satan screams. (Luke 1:74)

God bless you from Dawn and Buddy

***

Truly, my life was transformed after I gave my heart to Jesus March 7th, 1989. I’m far from perfect, but when I obey what is right as defined in the Bible, the greatest book of Wisdom ever written, rather than follow my selfish desires, my life’s path is less rocky than it would be otherwise. Please consider asking Jesus into your life right now, to be your Lord and forgive your sins. Becoming a born-again Christian won’t guarantee you an easy life, but it’s a decision you will never regret making.