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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.

 

 

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Evil for Evil, 1 Peter 3:9

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I have an elderly neighbor named Fran that loves Buddy, so we try to visit him most nights so that he can have some dog time. His daughters have been visiting and brought a little Chihuahua-Chow mix with them called Sammy. Sammy is one pound of fur, one pound of dog and a hundred pounds of nasty. He growled and snapped at Buddy’s nose when Bud walked over to him to say “Hi”.

Now Buddy considers Fran’s house his second home. Sammy is an interloper. But how did Buddy respond to having his nose nipped? Surprise. He didn’t snap back, growl or attack the little runt. Everyone in the household enthusiastically declared what a sweet dog Buddy is.

Now, as you can see, Buddy has a better attitude than I do. I was not at all happy that this “little runt” attacked my dog. I love Buddy and am very protective of him. But he’s more noble than I am. He didn’t even bark at the dog but I feel irritated that Sammy tried to hurt Buddy.

I wish I could be more like Buddy. Both the Old and New Testaments command us to “treat others the same way you want to be treated,” Apostle Paul exhorts us to not to “return evil for evil” (Romans 12;17), and Apostle Peter wrote:

“not returning evil for evil or insult for insult but giving a blessing instead;”–1 Peter 3:9

Too often my first impulse is to retaliate when someone insults or mistreats me. Even though I know that Proverbs says, “sweetness of speech increases persuasion,” I still want to verbally thump someone who says something I think is ignorant, ill-informed, or just plain wrong.

Sometimes I think God put dogs into our lives to show us that it really is possible to be kind when others are unkind, to love unconditionally. Often Buddy shows more mercy and kindness than I do.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:44-45

When I take a moment to reflect on Jesus, I realize how the majority of people ignore or hate Him. Being omniscient, God knew that most people would reject Him, yet He still chose to give up His glorious home and restrict His divine power to live as a human being and die on a cross for our sins.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”–Romans 5:6-8

God did it so that He could turn enemies of God into children of God by removing the sin barrier between us. God cannot tolerate evil and must punish it. Yet, instead of destroying the human race, He chose instead to suffer horribly and take our punishment for our sin.

What keeps me from being kind at times is a lack of humility.

Because when I’m rude and retaliating when someone is unkind or selfish, I’m forgetting that I once was an unbeliever till God had mercy on me. Who knows what kind of person I’d be today, or what foolishness I’d believe, if Jesus hadn’t convicted me of my sins on March 7th many years ago. Or “there but for the grace of God go I” the old saying goes.

“…to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…”–Titus 3:3-5

And, sadly, what keeps people from knowing God is a lack of humility, the inability to admit that they’re sinners and need a perfect God to die on their behalf. Most people think they’re good enough to get to Heaven and don’t need someone to pay for their sins.

But God only accepts perfection to get into Heaven. “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:48

Personally, I know I fall short and cannot justify myself before a perfect God on Judgment Day. I just need to remind myself, before I’m tempted to “return evil for evil or insult to insult,” that God commands that I be kind, because He is kind to all.

In a rambling sort of way, what I’m saying is, that I need to be reminded to be kind when other people fall far short of how I think they should behave, because God is kind to me and accepts me as His child although I fall far short of His standards every day.

It shows how fallen I am that I even NEED to be reminded to be kind.

Thank God for His kindness and great mercy to me.

And bringing such a sweet and loving dog into my life to remind me what unconditional love really is like.

Thanks for reading and for your time. God bless you. Love from Dawn and Buddy

 

 

Discouraged, Psalm 43:5

Buddy.fur.on.nose

When I feel discouraged, cuddling Buddy really helps to lift my spirits. Another way I lift my spirits is to read the Psalms. The Psalmists were honest before God and often admitted their discouragement or fear that God wasn’t answering their prayers or dismay that He was delaying too long. But after admitting their discouragement, they’d remind themselves of God’s care for them and His faithfulness.

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 43:5

After reading their raw feelings, I don’t feel so alone in my doubt and discouragement.

This wasn’t what I originally planned about blogging tonight, but I feel really discouraged. A close friend is very ill and doesn’t know the Lord. Another good friend again reminded me how far away she is from knowing Him. Sometimes I feel like giving up because it hurts too much to care about their souls. I know that Heaven and Hell are real: I had a born-again experience March 7th, 1989 and know that the Holy Spirit is real. But no matter how many hundreds (and thousands) of prayers on their behalf, there seems to be no crack in their armor.

You get discouraged? I’d like to hear some stories about God’s answer to your prayers for someone who was far away but came to know Him. Thank you.

While I wait, I’ll give Buddy some more hugs. And remind myself that I was once lost but now am found. Someone’s prayers for me were answered.

Good News About the Ukraine

On Sunday, around 500,000 evangelical believers gathered in the central square of Kiev, Ukraine to celebrate the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary and to thank God for His faithfulness in their country. Rakhuba was in contact with colleagues attending the event, and he says, “They reported over 500,000 across denominational lines from all the churches in […]

via Ukraine has been declared free for the gospel to be preached after many years of ban. — END TIMES

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.

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.

 

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.