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Wagging Tail, 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Buddy.Wagging

I intended to write on another topic tonight, but when I was in the bathroom this morning, Buddy joyously greeted me with a wagging tail because I had returned from attending church. He was happy just to see me and be in my company. And it made me feel good because my dog cares about me and wants me around.

It got me thinking, “Am I happy just be in God’s company? Am I rejoicing because I’m  a child of God and know that, through my relationship with Jesus Christ, I will be “rescued from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)? Am I enjoying God for Who He is and not just what He can give me and those I pray for? Or do in this world?

Jude says that one day I will stand before Him in the Afterlife, “blameless with great joy. (Jude 1:24).” Apostle Paul also echoes this in Colossians 1:22, “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”

Because Jesus died for my sin, I don’t have to fear approaching God. He now sees me clothed in the “righteousness of Christ” and “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103: 12).” Jesus encouraged prayer and making requests of God. To see Him as our Father, our encourager and our comforter. King David often poured his heart out to God to find comfort and strength in his suffering and travails, as written down in the Psalms. Apostle John frequently emphasized in his letters that God is love and loves us: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God (1 John 3:1).”

Apostle Peter also encouraged us to open our hearts in prayer to God, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).”

After the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, the Jewish people wept because of their nation’s sin which had caused God to allow the destruction of their city by the Babylonians in 586 BC. But God admonished them, telling them to rejoice instead. “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”–Nehemiah 8:10

I know Psalm 100 by heart. But it’s time that I try harder to apply, with God’s guidance, this great Psalm’s encouragement to enjoy God:

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing…Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Because God is good and loves me, I can enjoy His presence: through prayer and giving thanks, rejoicing in my blessings, in this beautiful world and family and friends and living in a wonderful country. Instead of focusing on the hurt and trouble and evil in the world.

Or as the shorter version of the Westminster Catechism teaches:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Have a blessed week.

***

God loves you and sent Jesus to die for your sins. You can become a child of God and enjoy His presence by admitting you are a sinner. Why must you do that? Because, when Adam and Eve ate the apple, they were telling God that they didn’t need His advice on how to live, they were going to decide it for themselves. As a result of rejecting Him, God’s Holy Spirit left the human race and so every generation has been born separated from God since. When you ask God to forgive your sin, you’re admitting to Him that you don’t have all the answers and want His guidance and presence in your life, that you want Him to be your great Shepherd and leader. Please ask Him to forgive your sins and ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit, to guide your through His Word, the Bible, on how to live this life. He’s waiting for your invitation to let Him enter into your life and heart.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.”–Revelation 3:20

Please open your heart to Him for “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

 

 

 

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What Passover Means to Christians, Exodus 11:13

BuddyInHutch.WP

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.

 

 

We’re of Infinite Value, Matthew 1:23

Buddy.Hiding.Santa

I like to dress Buddy up in little sweaters and for Christmas, a Santa outfit. He wasn’t too happy this Christmas morning, as you can see.

What is amazing is that the 2nd part of the eternal and omnipotent God, Jesus Christ, came down and put on human flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:14). The Almighty God who created all things, the Heavens and the earth (Colossians 1:15-16), who existed outside of time and space and the material world, humbled Himself to take on human form, lived in a human womb for 9 months to subsequently enter in our world. By doing this, He could personally interact with us and demonstrate to us who God is (John 14:8-10).

“‘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.'”–Matthew 1:23

But there is another aspect of this incarnation that is truly wonderful. By taking on human flesh, God declared that human beings were of infinite value.

Catholic philosopher Dr. Robert P. George theorizes that modern culture is promoting the ancient Greek heresy of Gnosticism (neo-Gnosticism), the idea that only the spirit is sacred and the flesh is not, that the mind is inferior to the body and is a breakable unity; that the human personality/mind is distinct from the physical body it inhabits. “That the mental, the spiritual, is what ultimately matters.” That it was the philosopher René Descartes who introduced this distinction into our modern civilization. Whereas Christianity teaches that we are whole beings, spirit and flesh. We cannot separate the two.

God declared that the flesh is of infinite value by taking on human form Himself. He didn’t come down as a spirit being only or die on the Cross as a spirit being only or rise as a spirit being only. He was born of a virgin female, lived and worked and preached as a human male, died on the Cross in the flesh and rose bodily in the flesh.

The human form is important to God, the culmination of His Creation (Genesis 1:27). We are made in HIS IMAGE. He declared His creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

You are of infinite value. You are NOT an accident of the universe, a random result of natural selection.

God designed you and foreknew you (Psalm 139:13). All of you. Your mind and your physical body.

So valuable that God Himself died for you on the Cross for your sin, taking the punishment you deserved. And when you accept His death for your sin, He gives you eternal life by regenerating your spirit, making it alive.

The miracle of Christmas is not just that God came down to dwell amongst us, but that He loves and values us so much.

And one day, if you are born-again by the Spirit of God, you will be resurrected in a perfected body.

A fleshly body, a healthy body, a beautiful body.

God loves you.

Love and Merry Christmas from Dawn and Buddy.

***

PS. They nearly doubled my workload in my day job. I was exhausted for at time but hope to be rejuvenated during the holiday season to get back to a weekly posting.

Falling Short of Expectations, Ephesians 2:8-10

BuddyWithBone.WP

Do you ever feel like Buddy in this photo: There are good things in life you could enjoy if you’d just make the effort to grab onto it?

Sometimes I get discouraged when I read about the great heroes of the Bible: Job, Esther, Daniel, Nehemiah, Noah and Joseph. They seem so perfect, so heroic. Job who suffered so greatly yet would not curse God nor lose his faith in God’s goodness; Esther, who was willing to sacrifice her life to save the Jewish people; Daniel, who was such a good person that his enemies could find nothing to accuse him of to get him into trouble with the king; Nehemiah, who had the wisdom to pray on the spot for God’s help in a precarious moment and to ask the king to assist him in a great and mighty task; Noah, who spent over a hundred years building a boat with absolutely no evidence there would be a flood yet believed God anyway; and Joseph, who didn’t grumble and complain no matter how unfairly he had been treated and maintained his faith in God, despite his adverse circumstances.

Sometimes I feel that being of use to God in furthering His kingdom is just beyond my grasp. I want to pick up that bone and run with it and be faithful and a good Christian. But I grumble and complain when work sucks or life doesn’t go my way; I get discouraged when I don’t see God answering my prayers; I forget to pray when under stress; and people could easily find fault with me. Despite my best efforts to serve God, I feel like I fall short every day.

Way, way short of God’s standards of how I should behave.

And then, when I start to look upward and not at myself, I remember what God says in Ephesians 2:10:

“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. For we are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we would walk in them.” (NASB, CAPS my emphasis)

  1. God didn’t choose to save me because he thought I was so wonderful. But I am HIS creation. He chose to make me and save me because He loves me. And He is the one who accepted me. He’s totally 100% good and kind, yet He chose this sinful person to be in communion with Him and His Holy Spirit indwells me.
  2. “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.”–Romans 8:1 God knows I cannot live up to His righteous standards. That’s why Christ had to die and take the penalty for my sin, because there’s no way I can earn God’s favor. He freely chooses to love me, despite my faults, flaws and failures.
  3. Because I’m so flawed, I can boast in a good and loving God.
  4. God loves variety. I’m different from other people because God designed me that way. I’m unique and my job to do on this earth is, therefore, unique to me.
  5. God chose what works I am supposed to accomplish in my lifetime. His plan for me is not the same as the pastor’s or my friends or my fellow Christian believers. “He who began a good work in (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6  I can trust that God, as my good Shepherd Who leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake” (Psalm 23:3) will guide Me into accomplishing the deeds/works He wants me to accomplish.

Sometimes we feel bad because we don’t have the gifts or the accomplishments that other “Super Christians” seem to have and we don’t win those great battles. Yet one man led Billie Graham to Christ and because of that one man’s faithfulness, Mr. Graham accomplished great things for God. (I was saved through Billie Graham’s TV ministry in 1989.)

As my dad has often told me, “There’ll always be someone greater or lesser than yourself.” If I compare myself to the superstars, I’ll feel discouraged.

I have to remind myself that my relationship with God is a personal relationship and that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a); God didn’t make a mistake when He made me and chose me.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”–Psalm 46:10

So I need to stop striving and trust that God will accomplish His good purposes in my life, and when I’ve completed my God-assigned tasks, He’ll call me home to eternal joy.

God bless you, my dear reader.

***PS. If you follow my site regularly, thank you. I try to follow your site back, but sometimes I have trouble finding the follow button.

***

If you aren’t born-again, you’re missing out on a wonderful love relationship. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that life becomes gravy street, but God will give you strength to face life. You’ll no longer be alone. You were born with a piece of your inner life puzzle missing, and only He can complete it. Please say this prayer below to begin your faith journey.

“Lord, I’ve offended you by my sin and fallen short of your standards. I accept that I can never be good enough to atone for my sins so that Jesus was punished on the Cross on my behalf. Please forgive me and save me from myself. Change me by sending the Holy Spirit to live Your life through Me.”

“Your heavenly Father (will) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13

Congratulations, brother or sister on becoming born-again. Please begin to read your Bible and pray that God will lead you to a Bible-based church where you can grow and fellowship with other believers. God bless you richly. Love you, my fellow believer, Dawn

 

 

 

Weeds, Philippians 4:8

weeds

Picture of a swamp near a boardwalk in Renton, Washington. A picture of my beloved Silky terrier, Buddy, is much more pleasant to look at, isn’t it?

Weeds seem to sprout so quickly and without requiring any attention. It’s those happy, positive and uplifting thoughts that seem to take so much effort to bring to mind. Slowly, since becoming a Christian, God has been revealing my weedy thoughts that need to be cast out. My mind requires daily, careful pruning. As the Good Shepherd leads me in the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3), I’m discovering more and more weeds that need to be yanked out. It’s like, after pulling out the big messy plants, I’m discovering the ones with tough roots that have been lurking in the shadows or just beneath the surface. Slowly, I’m learning to plant lilies instead of swamp grass, lavender instead of moss, attracting butterflies instead of mosquitoes.

I frequently have to pray:

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [may I] dwell on these things.”–Philippians 4:8 (I leave out the extra whatevers, praying just the first one.)

But the key is the word “dwell”. I cannot keep the weeds from drifting downstream into the lake of my mind from the world, the flesh and the enemy of our souls, but I can keep from dwelling upon those thoughts. I can reject them and choose to replace them with better thoughts.

I believe it’s a lifelong learning process. Be kind to yourself by not condemning yourself. Start where you are and move forward. Kicking yourself doesn’t do anything other than give you a sore butt.

Bud.wp

Now isn’t this a much better picture to dwell upon? I love this little guy!

God’s Bath, James 4:6

Soaked.Bud.WP

Got a surprise tonight. I didn’t plan on spending part of my Saturday evening giving my dog a bath, but it was pointed out to me by a family member that he had a “poopie butt”. That can happen when you aren’t properly maintaining your dog’s coat and let the fur on the back end get too long near the anus.

At time God has to give me a little “bath” too. In His eyes, I am cleansed of my sins because of my faith in Jesus, which was His gift of righteousness to me, unearned (Ephesians 2:4-9) but sometimes I get my feet dirty.

“Jesus said to (Peter), ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean,'”–John 13:10

At times I’ll get a little haughty and think, “I’m doing OK this week in the sin department,” and then God points His finger at me and says, “Well, what about this?”

And I’ll respond, “Augh! Oh no! You’re right, Lord. I shouldn’t be thinking or doing that or having that attitude. Please help me to change.”

God doesn’t toss me into the bathtub to punish me, but to show me where I need to improve to better glorify Him, and serve Him and others.

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”–James 4:6

It was pride that caused Satan to fall and become the leader of all wickedness, and pride that caused the Pharisees and chief priests and the elders of the Jewish people to hand Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified:

“For (Pilate) knew that that because of envy they had handed Him over.”–Matthew 27:18

When we become born-again and enter into God’s family as one of His beloved children, we are GIVEN the righteousness of Christ so that we can fellowship with a holy God. A parable of the Christian life that preachers often use to illustrate our changed condition from unbeliever to believer is the caterpillar which weaves a cocoon and emerges, after radical change, into a beautiful butterfly. But as Pastor Bob George points out, we sometimes don’t fly like we should. Sometimes we stay down on the ground and wiggle through the mud like we’re still fuzzy worms.

I add: Then when we try to fly it’s difficult to soar upward and enjoy the freedom of flight when we have mud coating our wings. We have to shake that mud off so that we can fly well. God doesn’t knock the mud off our wings to make us feel bad or to depress us; He wants us to fly in the freedom He’s given us from the bondage of sin and from the consequences that bad or wicked attitudes can bring into our lives.

It feels great to fly free. Thank you, Lord, when you correct me.

And Lord, thank you I can fly in the joy of faith in the sunshine of Your love although there’s still a lot of mud speckling my wings.

Thanks for your time. I realize you have myriads of choices on how to spend it. I appreciate you chose to spend a little with me.

***

End note: If you are not born-again, you may feel free but you’re actually walking in bondage to the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live even if he dies,” (John 11:25). Please consider saying this prayer: “Father, I admit that I have offended you and cannot live up to Your righteous standards. I accept that Jesus died on the Cross to take the punishment I deserve for my sin. Please forgive me and enter into my heart and give me eternal life in Christ. Be my Lord and teach me to walk in your ways.” If you’ve said this prayer, God promises to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13  God bless you and guide you to a Biblically-based church fellowship.

 

Strength From Joy, Nehemiah 8:9-10

Happy Buddy

I tried to give Buddy a walk earlier today, but the construction noise across from the park frightened him and he made a mad dash back to my car. He gave me a happy smile when he managed to claim the driver’s seat. Because he felt safe in my car, he could abandon fear and smile again.

Nehemiah was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes of the ancient Medo-Persian empire. The great king allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem in 445 BC to rebuild the city wall that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had destroyed. Inspired by God, pagan King Artaxerxes also provided the funds and supplies for the project. During those times cities were usually encircled by walls to protect them from their enemies. Because of Nehemiah’s leadership skills, the motley and varied group of Jewish inhabitants of the city rebuilt the wall in 52 days. What was particularly amazing is that these people were not professional builders: women, perfumers, goldsmiths, and all sorts of persons lugged stones for the walls and hung doors for the gates.

After the great project was completed, all the people gathered to hear Ezra the scribe bless them. He also read from the Book of the Law (Old Testament) and explained it in a way that was understandable. The people wept bitterly when they realized they fell far short of God’s requirements.

“Then Nehemiah who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep….Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”–Nehemiah 8:9-10

When we’re focused on our works and failures, rather than on God’s goodness and might, we can be self-preoccupied, cranky, bitter and miserable. But what does God say?

“For You have cast all my sins behind your back.”–Isaiah 38:17

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

After we’ve confessed our sins, God doesn’t continue to hold them against us. He doesn’t want us walking around with long, pious faces. I really think Jesus wasn’t like the movies portray him: serious-looking all the time. I believe he was full of joy, radiating abundant health, because people were drawn to Him and wanted to be near Him. No one is drawn toward a sour puss.

When we are focused on our sin and unworthiness, we’re self-preoccupied rather than God-occupied. Most people are unhappy. If they see Christians who are joyful, even despite adverse circumstances, they will be drawn to you and will listen to your testimony because you clearly have something they lack: joy.

And from personal experience, I feel healthier when I’m focused on God’s goodness, the beauty of nature and positive things in life, rather than where I’m failing or where others are falling short. I feel more pep in my step when I’m focused on the positive instead of being self-preoccupied.

Folks, be God-occupied and rejoice! God is good, thinks about you a lot, and He loves you. You can trust Him to “guide (you) in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). And “Who always leads us to triumph in Christ,” (2nd Corinthians 2:14).

You can relax in Jesus. He’ll continue to guide you. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6

End note: If you are not born-again, you can still find temporary joy in nature but without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, you are not being guided into triumph in Christ. Please consider saying this prayer: “Father, I admit that I have a sinful heart, have offended you and cannot live up to Your righteous standards. I accept that Jesus died on the Cross to take the punishment I deserve for my sin. Please forgive me and enter into my heart. I trust that on the third day after the Crucifixion Jesus was resurrected bodily, an acceptable sin sacrifice, to give me eternal life. Be my Lord and teach me to walk in your ways.” If you’ve said this prayer, God promises to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13  God bless you and guide you to a Biblically-based church fellowship.

Quotes from the NASB version of the Bible