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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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How Do You Handle Insulting People? Matthew 5:11

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Buddy, like many dogs, is loving and sweet-natured. He’s slowly learning not to stand so close to my heels because I tend to be klutzy and accidentally drop things on him. He doesn’t retaliate, by growling or biting me on the shin, but he will step back a few feet further away.

But, for most people, it’s very difficult not to “return evil for evil, or insult for insult” (1 Peter 3:9, Apostle Peter). It’s my first instinct to want to retaliate when people treat me poorly. Fortunately, the longer I’m a Christian, and the more I learn about how loving God truly is, I’m becoming more self-controlled.

When I was in high school, and before I was a Christian, a guy walked up to me and said, “You’re ugly.” His clique of friends were observing him. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he had hurt me, so I replied, “So what?” He was so taken aback, that he was speechless and his face showed utter astonishment. After he had recovered himself, and apparently to salvage some dignity in front of his friends, he pronounced, “You’re weird” and walked back to join his group. It didn’t feel good to be insulted, but I had the satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t take his bait.

Jesus, also, taught not to let people bait us. But how do we accomplish this? Even with “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), it’s usually our first instinct to retaliate with unkind words (unless you’re one of those unusual, easy-going people whom are never rattled by anything).

What we have to do is change our focus: keep it on Christ and the future and not on the present trouble.

Jesus endured the torments of the Cross by setting his focus “on the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2); He looked beyond His pending death and kept his focus, instead, on the millions of people who would be drawn into a personal relationship with Him for eternity because He suffered the punishment for their sins.

Peter successfully walked on water when he kept his focus on Jesus; when he began to look at the wild waves and the wind roaring around him, he began to sink. (Matthew 14:28-30).

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me (Jesus). Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.”–Matthew 5:11

So this is my plan when someone yells at me, or criticizes me, because I hold a Biblically-based opinion and not a worldly one:

“Thank you very much for blessing me. Jesus says that when you insult me because of my belief in Him and His Word, I’ve got a big reward in Heaven. So thanks very much.”

I guarantee you that is absolutely NOT the reaction they are expecting. They want to provoke a fight. Don’t let them have their way.

Give it a try and see how they react. And let me know if you try it. I’d love to hear your story.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week. God bless from Dawn and Buddy.

***

Late last year someone insulted me because my politics differed from theirs. Mindful that I was a guest in someone’s home, just as they were, I calmly responded that I still loved them and gave them a kiss on the cheek. It totally diffused the situation. I give the Holy Spirit credit for that one.

But how do you have the Holy Spirit at work in your life, helping you to react in ways that are more godly? By humbling yourself and admitting that you need His leading and guidance in your life. Jesus had to die for our sins because God demands perfection to enter His presence. None of us can ever be perfect. But because God loves us and desires a relationship with us, Jesus took the punishment for God’s wrath against sin so that we can draw near to God. Once you admit you’re a sinner and invite God into your life to guide you away from evil and to walk in His ways (as detailed in the Bible), the Holy Spirit comes to indwell you and guide you into all righteousness.

It’s not an instantaneous process. You don’t suddenly become perfectly good. It’s a lifelong journey. As you well know, Christians often fail but God helps them to dust themselves off and resume their journey toward Heaven.

Dear Lord, I admit that I cannot come into relationship with You and enter the Kingdom of Heaven by trying to be good. I can never reach perfection or ever be good enough. I admit that I’m a sinner and have fallen short of Your standards of goodness. Please forgive my sins. I acknowledge that Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh (Matthew 1:23), became human and died for my sin. I ask the Holy Spirit to enter my life and lead me and “guide me into the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

If you said this prayer, welcome to the family of God. Please find a Bible-based church where you can fellowship with other believers and grow in a knowledge of Who God is.

 

How to Fight Evil, Ephesians 6:10-18

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As much as we love our pets, they are not made in the image of God, as we are.

Buddy does provide me with unconditional love, his companionship, and another listening ear to keep me from feeling afraid at night when I’m alone. He would risk his life to protect me from someone far bigger and stronger than he is.

But Buddy cannot protect me from supernatural danger.

Based upon the story of the prophet Balaam and his donkey, it’s possible that the animals are able to see spiritual entities more easily than we can. (Numbers 22:21-33) But this is speculation on my part.

“Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day…”–Ephesians 6:10-12

So what is this armor? The summary is: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). (versus 14-17)

And how do we do that? Pray (vs 18) at all times and “be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might” (vs 10).

Please note: HIS MIGHT, HIS STRENGTH. And we access His power and might through prayer, reading and memorizing the Word of God (Holy Bible), and believing what the Bible says (faith) and acting according to its instructions (obedience).

Faith in the Word of God: trusting in the hard times that God is faithful, loves us, and will keep His promises to us. Obeying and acting according to God’s ways, although sometimes it FEELS better to do something else. But we cannot know what those promises or instructions are if we aren’t reading the Bible, the source document for those promises.

The Word of God is our only offensive weapon against evil. It’s really important, in these difficult and deceptive times, to meditate upon the word of God day and night (Psalm 1:2). Its our filter to recognize lies.

Jesus gave the example of how to defeat the devil and his deception, by quoting from the Old Testament, and relying upon the Word of God when Lucifer came to tempt him after his 40-day fast. After successfully passing the three temptations, Christ began his earthly ministry (Matthew 4:1-11).

And it’s vitally important to pray that the Holy Spirit guide us before we begin reading a Bible passage. It is spiritually discerned, requiring His guidance. (I Corinthians 2:13)

The world offers lots of distractions: movies, video games, YouTube, Facebook, the Internet (blogs–EEK!), cable news, etc. that can keep us from taking some time to read the Bible.

I’m planning to blog more on these verses, but please note that in these trying times, when we see so much fake news and anti-Christian bias (and anti-Semitism) increasing in the USA, to remind ourselves not to be angry or hateful toward those who who are in bondage to untruth.

For instance, I just read this verse recently:

Apostle Paul adjures us to be “in no way alarmed by your opponents, which is a sign of destruction for them…”–Philippians 1:28

I really needed to be reminded of this admonition. When I hear the news, it’s easy for me to be alarmed. The Holy Spirit has to check my thoughts frequently some days as I get frustrated with deceived, or deliberately deceptive, people who spread lies and seem to get far more media attention than the good people trying to protect our laws and Constitution. I have to remind myself that it’s a sign of their ultimate destruction, their pending separation from God forever, and to feel sorry for them, rather than be angry, and pray for them to repent and escape judgment.

By praying for someone else in spiritual bondage, I am blessing not only the other person, but also myself: My spirit calms down and someone is getting prayed for who really needs it. Following God’s instruction is better for my health, because I’m not stressing my spirit with anger. Also, I am reminding myself, when I pray for those I feel frustrated toward, that I too was once deceived and separated from God and His life-giving Spirit, and needed mercy, before I finally believed that Jesus was Immanuel, God in the flesh (Matthew 1:23), Who died for my sins and was resurrected to give me everlasting life through the power of the Holy Spirit. It helps to humble me and not “virtue signal” or feel superior to someone else.

God bless you.

Please stay cool in these hot times.

Dawn and Buddy

PS. I do believe animals go to heaven. I’ll blog on that one day. (Revelations 5:13) And once again, where I was intending to go with this posting, I meandered elsewhere. But I pray what I should blog about before writing one word. I have to trust that this is what someone who reads this posting needs to “hear” right now.

You fool! Matthew 5:22b

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No matter how rotten or rascally Buddy acts, I never curse him out. Why? Because I love him.

However, it’s much more difficult when dealing with human beings. Unlike my faithful dog, they can inflict great hurt or act hatefully. I am particularly sensitive to people who are supporting political movements that are damaging the freedom, and threatening the liberty, of this great country I grew up in. I wonder if future generations are going to enjoy the freedom and prosperity that I have, and hope to continue to have, during my lifetime. But I have to remind myself of Jesus’ warning during His well-known Sermon On The Mount speech:

“But I say to you…whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:22b

Because we’re all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), God demands that we treat each other with respect. God showers His love on all humankind through what is called “common grace,” meaning that He gives good things to all people through what He has provided on earth: food from the ground, rain for crops, air to breathe, etc.

But it’s really easy for me to forget that when I’m feeling passionate about a topic or frustrated because someone isn’t acting the way I think they should. I have to remind myself that one of God’s greatest gifts to us is free will: The choice to love and obey God freely or to choose not to. God, being all powerful, could force us to obey Him or zap us whenever we do what displeases him. Jesus could easily have struck the Roman soldiers dead who beat and flogged him before forcing him to walk to His crucifixion. But He didn’t. Instead, hanging naked and beaten to a pulp from the Cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing.”–Luke 23:34

Since I’m a follower of Christ, He expects me to glorify Him in this hurting world, to be light and salt, to stand out, to draw people into relationship with Him.

It’s a challenge for me because we’re not supposed to be cowards, standing idly by while people destroy themselves with sin or promote evil, but are exhorted to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). But I often find it difficult to figure out how to be honest yet not be condemning. I don’t feel like I have many roles models to pattern myself after. Which forces me to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

And some people seem to be naturally easy-going: nothing much fazes them. That’s not me. I have the passionate, artistic personality–that’s the way God made me. Emotions are not evil, but how we express them can be, when we hurt, injure, or mistreat others instead of loving, inspiring and gently exhorting them.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s a lot easier to be patient with Buddy, not only because I love him but because I do have more control over his behavior than I do people. I cannot make people love or be grateful or work hard or do good. I work at obeying God–to love others as I love myself (Matthew 22:39–and have to learn to let go and trust Him to work out His will in the lives of others, this country, and the world. Creation and humanity was His plan and He’s ultimately in control, not me.

***

If you’re not born-again, you will discover that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot improve yourself. Only God can change your soul and make you into the loving person you’d like to be. He made you with a purpose and loves you very much. If you’re tired of continually failing, please say this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I’m sorry that I’ve sinned and offended You. Please forgive me. I’m tired of trying to be a better person in my own strength. Please come into my life and help me to become the person You created me to be and to fulfill your will and purpose for my life.

If you’ve said this prayer, God bless you. You have eternal life and are starting a wonderful journey. Please find a local, Biblically-based church or Bible study where you can becomes friends with, and be grow in your faith, other believers. It helps you to stand strong when you don’t feel alone.

 

Hurting People, James 4:11-12

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When I first adopted Buddy from Silky Terrier Rescue, he was terrified of me and my family. He didn’t utter one sound for several days, not even a sniff. We thought his voice box had been damaged by abuse but it turned out he was just too frightened to make noise. When he barked at the neighbor’s dog and was praised for making a sound, he realized it was ok to make noise. Now he’s our most talkative dog ever.

For years, however, whenever I reached toward him, he would duck as if I wanted to hit him. He doesn’t do it as often now, but he still does duck occasionally and it hurts my feelings because I have no desire to harm Buddy. I don’t know the details of his previous life and can only speculate. Only God knows, but now Buddy has a family who loves and cherishes him. He gets treats and walks and hugs and personal care.

Considering this, I realize that people often act like Buddy. There might be abuse in their past or adverse circumstances that I don’t know anything about that might be causing them to act the way they do. Sometimes people act nasty or fearful because of original sin, but sometimes there are other mitigating factors.

“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law…There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”–James 4:11-12

When the check-out clerk who is scanning my grocery items looks sullen or is unfriendly, I try to remind myself not to react unkindly. I know how many things I conceal from people that I have far more contact with. The clerk may have been forced to come to work to save their job but may not be feeling well, their dog may have run off or been killed that morning, their kid may have just entered drug rehab, or a customer earlier that day was very rude and they haven’t been able to shrug it off yet. I just don’t know what may have happened ten minutes or ten hours ago in that person’s life. Only God knows.

Similarly, a coworker may be acting like a butt because they were told bad news about a relative or had an ugly family fight that morning. Or they may just feel cranky from lack of sleep and it’s an aberration and I need to be patient while they work it out of their system.

I’m not saying that people should make excuses for acting badly toward others, but we are all human and I am certainly not Miss Sunshine 24/7 myself and need others to forgive and be patient with me, too. “Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Now there are indeed times to judge because we are told to “Open your mouth, judge righteously…” (Proverbs 31:9)  We’re not supposed to remain silent and let evil triumph. “Like a trampled spring and a polluted well, is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26)

But in most circumstances of life, I need to remind myself to be patient, be kind, and not judge. Not to be reactive or defensive, but to be proactively loving. I’m still learning because I have my “hot buttons” but I think I’m doing better than I used to because of God’s life in me.

God bless you this week.

***

Without the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our lives, it’s difficult to be the person we want to be. God gives us a new heart, a new spirit, and the mind of Christ when we admit we’re sinners and give our hearts to Him. Becoming born-again isn’t just about escaping Hell and going to Heaven; it’s about entering into a close relationship with God and becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you aren’t a believer in Jesus Christ, He invites you to enter into relationship with Him. Please pray: “Lord, I admit that I have offended You and done what is wrong in Your sight. Please forgive me of my sins and enter into my heart and my life. Make me a new creation by the power of Your Holy Spirit.” If you prayed this prayer, please find a Bible-based church to fellowship with other believers and grow in the knowledge of God. As a fellow believer in Christ, I love you and so does the Lord.

Self-Righteousness, Jonah 3:10-4:1

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I love Buddy, not because he’s always a good boy, but because he’s my pal and my responsibility. I enjoy his company and am concerned for his welfare.

When Christians become self-righteous, it’s not usually because they’re bad people but because they don’t understand what salvation is. We don’t become born-again because our works are so wonderful that we’re worthy of Heaven: we are saved despite our flaws.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”–Romans 3:23

Our works are pleasing to God when we’re in a right relationship with Him (born-again), not vice versa. No one deserves to go to Heaven. We are so wicked, compared to God’s perfect holiness and love, that no one can boast about their goodness and earn Heaven. It’s His mercy and great love for us that causes Him to convict us of our sin and bring us back into fellowship with Him.

What’s this got to do with Jonah?

Jonah hated the ancient Ninevites for good reason: They were a very warlike, cruel and vicious race of people. Everyone was afraid of them. Yet, God loved them and wanted to bring them into relationship with Himself. He chose to send the Jewish prophet Jonah to Nineveh to preach to them to repent. But Jonah hated the Ninevites and didn’t want them to repent–he wanted God to judge and punish them.

You cannot thwart God. Jonah took a ship “to flee to Tarshish” (Jonah 1:3) but God stirred up a mighty storm. The boat crew realized that a god was responsible for their troubles and discovered that Jonah was the source. Though they were pagans, they didn’t want to harm Jonah but eventually were forced to toss him overboard, at Jonah’s suggestion, to calm the stormy waters.

Jonah would rather die than go preach to people he hated and see them be blessed by God. He forgot that he didn’t deserve to be loved by a holy God either.

Everyone has heard the story of how Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and when Jonah had finally given in to God’s will to go to Nineveh to preach the gospel of repentance, the whale vomited him up on shore.

Deliberately disobeying God is never pleasant. Not only that, God hates pride and self-righteousness. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) I cannot emphasize this enough: NO ONE is good enough to go to Heaven.

Half-heartedly Jonah walked among the Ninevites, preaching the lamest sermon ever. But since a changed heart depends upon God’s power and not our greatness, a mighty revival broke out and the city repented of their sins.

“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.” (Jonah 3:6) The king declared that everyone, even the beasts and flocks of birds, were to fast and be covered with sackcloth, signifying repentance. “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw his burning anger so that we will not perish.”

“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. But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.”–Jonah 3:10-4:1

God was not pleased by Jonah’s self-righteous, hard-heartedness.

Jonah didn’t have a right to be angry. He had forgotten that he was also a sinner in comparison to a holy God. Maybe he didn’t sacrifice his children to demonic gods or cut off hands and noses or spread people’s skins, but compared to a kind and loving and merciful God, he fell far short.

God loves everyone. People every day spit in His face, deny His existence, curse His name, and deliberately ignore his pleas for them to do good, yet He gives them life, wealth, children, food, pets, vacations, lovely sunrises and many pleasing and wonderful gifts. Jesus was spit upon, beaten, and flogged by the Romans before He was crucified, yet He never cursed them or zapped them, although, as God In The Flesh (Immanuel–Matthew 1:23), He had the power to do so.

I’m certainly not perfect in this area. I have to remind myself continually to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return…for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:28, 35)

God’s mercy is available to anyone who wants to forsake their pride and repent of their sin and enter into a love relationship with Him. “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”–Luke 11:13

You have to ask to receive. God bless you.

Waiting: Psalm 27:13-14

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Buddy loves to herd me when he thinks I’m walking too slowly on our “walkies”. He’ll swing around behind me and begin bopping me in the back of my left leg with his nose, trying to get me to speed up. He’s impatient to move forward more quickly.

I’m the same way with God. I hate waiting, particularly a long time. I would like to move out of rain-soaked Seattle but events are just not coming together to make it happen, although I am eager to make a fresh start somewhere else where it’s not a major event when the sun comes out.

King David in Psalm 27 also voices his despair. He’s feeling depressed because he wants to be delivered from his enemies. He reminds himself that although the days seem dark, God will come through for him if he’s willing to wait and trust in God’s timing.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

David reminds himself to be patient, that God will eventually come through and bless him in this life. He strengthens himself emotionally by focusing on God’s faithfulness.

Sometimes we’re not supposed to wait, but pray and then step out in faith. At other times, it seems like our hopes keep being dashed and roadblocks tossed into our paths.

May you find your strength in the Lord’s promises in the Scriptures as you wait on Him.

Scripture verses are NASB