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Encouragement in Times of Trouble, Hebrews 13:5

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For some reason Buddy loves to watch me vacuum the rugs and wash the vinyl floors. He doesn’t do anything but just sit and watch (or get in my way, occasionally). I don’t understand what he finds so endlessly fascinating, but I can always count on him to be there.

One of the verses I treasure when I feel discouraged is Hebrews 13:5: “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'” I often say it out loud when I feel downhearted and thank the Lord for being with me. (Probably quoted from Isaiah 41.)

But in writing this blog, I realize that I often don’t quote the next verse, which is also one to treasure, verse 6:

“so that we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will an do to me?'”

I don’t believe that anyone has a life without its sorrows or problems: They are just different, dependent upon your circumstances.

Jesus promises us in John 16:33 a tough time in life, but to be of good cheer:

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

I realized, after reading a short excerpt from Martin Luther about expecting trouble in life, that I DO expect life to be smooth–to never have to overcome any problems or have trials or sorrows. But that is not reality.

The dictionary defines to “forsake” as being abandoned in time of trouble. (I use the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.)

What God promises is to be with us when we have problems in life and to help us to endure with the right attitude or to overcome. Paul and Silas could sing hymns and praise God in prison because they trusted that God was with them (Act 16:25). When you are born-again, the Holy Spirit indwells you and is ALWAYS with you. You are never going through any circumstance in life alone.

God not only helps us endure but can give us the strength to overcome the circumstance:

“In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple and my cry for help before Him came into His ears…For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall…The God who girds me with strength…”–King David, Psalm 18:6, 29,32a

Please note that Paul and Silas had their focus on the Lord and not their imprisonment by singing and praising God, despite their harsh circumstance. And David was able to overcome his enemies by praying firstly, then acting.

Praise and prayer to the God who always with you is your winning combination.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

***

The Lord promises to be there for the believer. But if you are not a believer, you cannot always count on God to come through for you. Because He is a loving god, He often helps those who call upon Him, even if they again turn away. I truly believe that, on Judgment Day, unbelievers are going to be told how many times God in Christ intervened in their lives to protect them and they chose to ignore Him. Please don’t ignore Him any longer. He loves you but cannot be in a relationship with you unless you admit that Jesus is the Lord God, came in the flesh, died to take the punishment for your sin and then was raised bodily from the dead to give you eternal life. Please ask Him into your life by acknowledging your sin and your need for His salvation so that you can begin to reap the benefits of a loving relationship with the Almighty Savior.

 

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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).

Getting Wet, Matthew 23:27-28

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When I walked Buddy tonight, I tried to reign him in on his leash to keep him close to me. Not to restrict his movement, but to try to shelter him under my umbrella so that he wouldn’t get wet from the intermittent rain. Being the usual headstrong terrier, he kept resisting me and pulling out from under the protection of the umbrella, with the predictable result.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem,…” Jesus lamented in Matthew 23:27-28. “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”

God calls to each of us to run to shelter under His protecting umbrella, yet people think God is trying to crimp their lifestyle with His rules of behavior, so they willfully resist Him and go their own way. As a result, they get wet with the eventual unhappiness and consequences of their behavior. Sometimes they even curse God for their circumstances, when all along He was warning them to turn back.

But God is merciful and loving. When you repent of your willful disobedience, He opens His arms wide and pulls you into His loving embrace. He doesn’t reject anyone who comes to Him.

“And the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”–Jesus, John 6:37b

Why not give your heart to Jesus now?

Dear Father, I thank you that Jesus, God In the Flesh, took the punishment for ALL my sin on the Cross. And was resurrected bodily to give me eternal life. Please forgive my sin. I invite the Holy Spirit to live His life through me and to guide me. Thank you for loving me.

Please attend a church service this Easter where Christians love and worship the King as described in the Bible. And let them know that you just recently gave your heart to the Lord so that they can assist you in your new life’s journey.

God bless.

Dawn and Buddy

 

True Freedom, 2 Corinthians 3:17

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When Buddy and I visit my storage unit, I let him run around without holding onto the leash because the doors are closed. He’s free to wander about anywhere he wants, within defined limits. Because, if he gets out past the doors, he could potentially get run over by a moving truck or out onto a major highway and be killed.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.”–Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:17

Today in the USA we’re celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin King Luther, Jr. His original name at his brith on January 15th, 2919, was Michael King. His name was changed to later Martin Luther King Jr. Why the change?

His father, a Senior pastor, was sent by his congregation on a trip to Europe and the Middle East. In Germany he visited the church in Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the castle church, challenging the teachings of the Catholic Church which had become corrupted. The pounding of this nail into the door started the Protestant Revolution and transformed world history. During this same tour his father visited Berlin a year after Hitler rose to power and was profoundly affected by the hatred toward the Jewish people.

I’m not sure of the details regarding the name change of his son, but apparently MLK made it clear in his final sermon on April 3rd, 1968, that if he could travel back in history, he “would’ve watched Martin Luther nail his 95 Thesis to the door at the church of Wittenberg”, making it clear that he considered this a pivotal event in history. He also declared that “I just want to do God’s will.”

Mr. Luther understood that following God was critical to living a full life. And like Buddy, we are free to live life fully as long as we stay within God’s defined limits. To stay in love, and not poison ourselves with hatred and bitterness. To not murder the reputation of another through lies and slander, not plot against and harm the innocent, to show respect and kindness instead of animosity and cruelty. “Speaking the truth in love (Apostle Paul, Ephesians 4:15)” and not with anger and arrogance.

To be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day and have a clear conscience, knowing that you did your best that day to love others, instead of hating and slandering.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”–Apostle John, 1 John 4:8

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, that you have love for one another.”–Jesus, John 13:34

Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy will live on in every Christian who chooses God’s will, instead of selfishness and hate.

***

In his last sermon, MLK also admitted that he preferred to live but did not fear death. He knew he would go to heaven because He believed in Jesus Christ. Why not follow in his footsteps and give your life to Jesus tonight and become a new Creation? Start now from scratch, following a new path.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”–Proverbs 4:18

God hates evil and sin and must punish it to be just. By admitting you’re a sinner and accepting that Jesus, God in the Flesh (Immanuel–Matthew 1:23), died for your sins, you can be declared not guilty before God and declared righteous in His sight–A child of God destined to live in eternity with Him, no longer separated from Him by unpunished sin. Why not admit you need Jesus Christ today and become born-again by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit? With the guidance of the Holy Sprit, godly Christian fellowship and the Bible, you can discover a new life.

**Please note I use the NASB version of the Bible for my Biblical references. Information about Martin Luther King Jr was from an article published online by tHe Washington Post on 1/15/19 by Deneen L. Brown.

Thank You from Dawn and Buddy

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Thank you for sharing your time with me by reading my Buddy Blog. I know you could be spending your time doing other things and, instead, you spare a few minutes for my thoughts. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much. God bless you.

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

 

The Way of The World, Psalm 2:1-4,10-12

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I was going to blog about cowardice, but changed my mind due to recent current events.

I will be deeply grieved if Buddy were ever to leave me. Why? Because I love and know him.

This world, however, does not know Jesus: His might, His kindness, His mercy, His grace, His patience, His love, nor His authority. I’m sure those who know our Great Shepherd can come up with many other attributes to add to the above. As a result of not knowing Jesus, the world mocks and rejects the God of the Universe and His church. Our American society, led by the mainstream media, is progressively hostile in its attitude toward Christians and anyone who believes in the Bible.

This Psalm was written over three thousand years ago, yet accurately reflects our world today:

Why are the nations in an uproar? And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Messiah (Jesus), saying,

“Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!”

He Who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them…

Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth.

Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled.–NASB version, Psalm 2:1-4, 10-12

Increasingly we see the Ten Commandments, Crosses, and other symbols of Christianity being removed in our society, or people making attempts at removing them. In Europe, hostile groups are tearing down Christmas trees or causing Christians and Jews to flee or deny them sanctuary. Recently, a group attempted to prevent Franklin Graham from entering the UK to preach the gospel. A Syrian Christian returned to Syria after immigrating to Austria, because he “felt safer” in his home country.

Although Jesus promises us freedom–freedom from sin, defeat, the devil, eternal punishment, self-destruction, negativity–the world sees Jesus and His commandments as enslavement, a “fetter” that must be “cast off” so that they can have the freedom to do whatever they want, to define their morality as they see fit, often in the disguise of a religious belief.

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

Out of love for us, God sent Jesus to suffer the punishment for our sin. Jesus is our mediator, the bridge between a perfectly holy, sinless God and imperfect humanity.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”–Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 3:9

But as some point, His patience is going to run out.

Because the world does not know Him, we must tell them, out of love for their welfare, even if they don’t want to listen.

Before “His wrath is kindled…”

***

My dear reader, Jesus loves you far more than I could even possibly love my beloved Buddy. He created you and sustains you every day. He wants to be in a loving relationship with you and not be estranged from you. Could you please consider giving your heart to Him today? He wants to be your Father–and your best friend.