Our Sabbath Rest, Hebrews 4:9

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One reason I have so many photos of Buddy sleeping is because it’s one of the few times he’s not trying to run from the camera. But my point tonight is, that Buddy doesn’t have to do anything to earn our love. He can sleep peacefully and get his needed rest because he knows he is safe in our home and will be taken care of and watched over. He doesn’t need to keep alert out of fear.

Although “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (Hebrews 9:4)” most people don’t enter into God’s rest, including many of his people. It’s not because Christians don’t love the Lord or desire to follow Him with all their hearts; rather, it’s because of bad teaching and a misunderstanding of the difference between the Old and New Covenants (Old and New Testaments) between humanity and God.

All of God’s way are for our good. To take time to rest from our labors is not a bad idea. Too much overwork and stress is very damaging to our bodies and souls; we all need time to rest and refresh.

But some Christians, in their zeal to follow the Lord, tell others that they MUST take Sunday or Saturday off as a Sabbath Day or they are being disobedient to God. This isn’t correct. This must’ve been a misunderstanding in the early Church because Apostle Paul clearly addressed this issue twice in his letters to the Colossians and Romans.

“Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”–Colossians 2:16-17

“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced I’m his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord,…”–Romans 14:5-6

Apostle Paul clearly teaches that what is important is not to judge your brother and sister, but rather, to follow his own conscience in such matters:

“The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself is what he approves…whatever is not from faith is sin.”–Romans 14:22-23

Apostle Paul was very concerned about people bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) and the Apostle John in loving our fellow Christians (1 John). Not in Sabbath observances.

If you believe it’s important to take regular time to rest and refresh and reflect on God, that’s fine. But there has been a new push from some quarters to force Christians to formerly observe the Sabbath and to declare those who don’t as unfaithful or heretics.

Nonsense!

Because the book of Hebrews is so little studied, outside of the first and eleventh chapters, the Church has been missing a lot of essential teaching on the difference between the Old and New Covenants.

The Law serves its purpose in our lives by showing our sinfulness and inability to live up to God’s righteous standards and please Him. Not that the Law isn’t good–we benefit by following God’s ways (Proverbs 4:20-23). But it’s impossible to please God by living up to the Law, because He’s perfect and we aren’t.

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him…”–Hebrews 11:6

The Old Covenant was a foreshadowing of the New Covenant, pointing us to Christ. “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come…”–Hebrews 10:1  It was vitally important for the Jewish people to abstain from working on the Sabbath Day, as it was a foreshadow of the New Covenant rest for God’s people in Christ, Our Sabbath rest.

The Jewish nation wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because they disobeyed God. They didn’t believe in His goodness and trustworthiness, so they didn’t enter the Promised Land when He commanded them to. “So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19)” They didn’t have faith in God to obey His commands.

“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.”–Hebrews 4:9-10

‘When the crowd asked Jesus, “What shall we do, so that we may work the words of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”‘–John 6:28-29

The Old Covenant was a covenant of salvation by works: If we did “X”, then God promised to respond with “Y”. The New Covenant, however, is one based upon a covenant of faith, not works.”For when the priesthood is changed of necessity there takes place a change of law, also. (Hebrews 7:12)”

It was vitally important for the Jewish people under the Old Covenant not to work on the Sabbath as it was a foreshadowing of our total reliance on resting from our works righteousness in order to totally embrace the righteousness of Christ for our salvation. No one can go to Heaven by being good but only in having faith in Christ’s work on our behalf.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with with He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ…For by grace you have been said 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 4:4-5, 8-9

Under the New Covenant, we’re supposed to want to obey God out of trust and love for Him:

“If you love me, you will keep My commandments (Jesus, John 14:15) 

and not fear of punishment:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfect in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19).

James puts things into perspective by warning that, if we have true faith in Christ, we’ll obey God (James 2:14-17). Or, as Christ pointed out that when the Word is planted in our hearts, we’ll bear fruit for His kingdom (Mark 4:20) to the extent that we abide in Christ, the vine:

“I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.”–John 15:5 (emphasis mine)

So, if you want to observe a particular day as your Sabbath rest, that’s fine, if that’s your conviction. I’m not supposed to judge you for that. But if you choose to do so and I don’t, you’re not supposed to judge me, either, for observing the Sabbath doesn’t make you ANY MORE HOLY or MORE RIGHTEOUS before God than someone who chooses to consider Christ alone our Sabbath rest. Because, whether we celebrate the Sabbath on a particular day or not, CHRIST ALONE is our righteousness. There is no other way to be in right standing before a perfectly holy God than the shed blood of Christ:

“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and one their mind I will write them,” And then He says, “And their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.'”–Hebrews 10:10,14-17

We’re supposed to rest in Christ’s works, not ours.

But do get some regular rest.

And please consider reading the entire book of Hebrews, if you haven’t recently.

*** If you’d like to enter into Christ’s Sabbath rest, please pray: Dear Father, I realize that I’m a sinner and can never be good enough to earn my way into Heaven. Your standards are too perfect for me to live up to. I accept that Jesus died for my sins, having lived the holy life I could never live. Please forgive my sin. May the Holy Spirit enter my heart and make me a new creation in Christ. Please exchange my filthy rags with the holiness of Christ. Thank you for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name, amen.

PS. I’d like to acknowledge that the above is not my own. I have benefitted from almost 19 years of strong Christian teaching from Pastors Dr. Charles Stanley, Chuck Smith, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, Bob George, Bob Christopher, Blaine Smith, Michael Youssef and Kay Arthur. I give no credit to myself but only that God has enabled me to assimilate their teaching and convey it to others in a way, I hope, is easily understood.

 

 

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Propaganda, Proverbs 18:17

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Buddy was sitting on my bed tonight, watching me as I sat on the floor, studying my Bible. He seems to be carefully examining and thinking about what I am doing.

The longer I am a Christian, and the longer I study God’s Word–The Holy Bible–I realize that Biblical wisdom can be applied to every aspect of our private and public lives.

Proverbs 18:17 states, “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.”

One of our country’s foundations is the importance of free speech. The Founders believed that when people of differing opinions are able to debate freely, the truth comes out. I truly believe it’s vitally important, not only as a Creative (person who is artistic), but also to maintain our nation’s freedom, that we allow free speech.

However, “”The naive believes everything.”–Proverbs 14:15

There are a lot of people in the USA who do not question what they hear from our media. They listen to only one point of view and don’t expose themselves to people who think differently. But the Bible warns that we need to hear both sides before we come to a conclusion (Proverbs 18:17 stated above).

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”–Proverbs 27:17 By engaging in discussion or vigorous debate with others, we sharpen our views and, also, discover where our arguments are weak or wrong.

Propaganda thrives when people refuse to listen to opposing viewpoints, because they don’t have all the facts to discover if they really have the truth or not.

I believe it’s one of the enemy’s tactics to keep people isolated and not listening to one another. For instance, someone who refuses to associate with Bible-believing Christians because their pagan worldview may be questioned “and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)”

So I believe it’s vitally important for Christians to promote and protect free speech. As a nation, it’s one of our most unique and precious possessions.

And a gift from God.

****

If you’re ready to start learning about a new view of who you are, please continue reading. You are not an accident of an indifferent universe. You were designed by God (Psalm 139) and have a purpose for your life. To get to know this God who loves you, please pray the below:

God, I believe that you want me to know You. But because You’re 100% holy and blameless, I am separated from you by my sin. I ask you to forgive my sins. And give me new life in Christ, Who died for my sins, taking the punishment I deserve. There’s no way that I can earn Your forgiveness, so I accept Christ’s sacrifice for my sins as a free gift. I ask that the Holy Spirit enter into my heart and give me His life. And teach me to grow in a knowledge of You and Christ so that I can learn to discern truth from error. Thank You for loving me and making me a new Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God bless you and lead you to a Bible-believing church.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

Jesus, The Story Teller, Matthew 13:3

BudandMe

We all have stories to tell about our lives, some more exciting and adventurous than others, but we all have a hi-story. Buddy does too. He suffered abuse by the husband of his very ill owner till a kind Silky terrier breeder rescued him and fostered him till he found his forever home. His story demonstrates that some suffering does end and some lives have a happy ending.

I applied to an advertising art program at an art school some years ago but was rejected by the school’s President. She said I wouldn’t do well in the program because I “was a story teller”. Personally, I think a lot of ads are telling “stories” but I respected her opinion as she had a lot of experience that I didn’t have.

Each new year I realize that I have only so many more years on this earth and ask myself if my goals and how I spend my time is really what God wants me to pursue. I love to draw cartoons and write stories. A bit of depression settles in as I ask myself, “Is my strong desire to tell stories really helpful in furthering God’s kingdom and my purpose on earth?”

And then I remind myself that Jesus told stories, stories that impacted His listeners and the lives of millions for nearly 2000 years. These stories continue to endure, be examined, shared and transform lives.

“And He spoke many things to them in parables,…”–Jesus, Matthew 13:3

So many times I’ve read or heard someone say, “That book” or “That movie” changed my life. Because art often bypasses our intellectual gate keeper and touches our hearts.

King David repented of his hardness of heart, after his murder of Uriah to hide his adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, when Nathan the prophet spoke a parable to him that touched his shepherd’s soul (2 Samuel 12:1-14). He responded to the prophet’s rebuke after the parable revealed the severity of his sin and hypocrisy.

So I can take heart that, perhaps, I too, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, write stories that will touch people’s hearts and promote introspection, and with God’s grace, encourage positive change. That maybe my particular personality bent has a purpose and place in God’s kingdom after all.

***

I can honestly say that I wish I’d come to the Lord 10 years sooner. I gave my heart to Christ at age 28 after calling up a volunteer working the phones for a Billy Graham crusade which was televised locally. The reason I wouldn’t want to come before my college years is so that I will never forget what it feels like, the emptiness and loneliness that filled my life, before I came into a personal relationship with the Lord. You too can find peace in a relationship with Him. It is possible. He is not a myth: Jesus is real.

If you’d like to enter into a relationship with our Heavenly Father, please pray the below or something similar in your own heartfelt words: Lord, I’d like to know you but my sin has separated me from You as You are a most holy God. I accept that Jesus, as God in the Flesh, took the punishment for my sins. Please forgive me and grant that the Holy Spirit would enter into my heart. May the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, lead me into all righteousness and truth. Open my heart to love you. Amen.

 

Slander, Proverbs 10:18

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Because I love Buddy, in my eyes he can do no wrong. I excuse his sins that maybe others who don’t love him would more readily recognize.

In 2017 it was very noticeable that people were repeating all sorts of stories about public figures or expressing downright hatred; and often, not being careful to vet what they were repeating was actually true.

When we love someone, it’s very easy to ignore the ugly truth about their misdeeds but, on the other hand, it’s also very easy to believe the very worst about someone that we dislike or despise (although God tells us to love everyone like He does and not hate).

God makes it very clear in His revealed word to us, the Bible, that He HATES slander:

“…he who spreads slander is a fool.”–Proverbs 10:18

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man;”–Jesus, Matthew 15:19-20

And both apostles Paul and Peter adjured Christians not to slander:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.”–Paul, Ephesians 4:11

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander…”–Peter, 1 Peter 2:1

“There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him; Haughty eyes, a lying tongue…”–Proverbs 6:16-17

In these verses, slander shares top billing with evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, lying, theft, bitterness, clamor, malice, hypocrisy and envy. Slander is not a sin that God looks lightly upon. It destroys people, “murders” their reputations and lives, and “separates intimate friends (Proverbs 16:28)”. It also makes you look like a fool when you repeat something that other people know is wrong.

I don’t believe God wants us to have a pollyanna attitude toward life, whistling in the dark while the city burns around us. But God wants us to, instead, to speak the TRUTH in LOVE (emphasis mine)–Ephesians 4:15

I believe it’s idolatry not to hold your elected officials accountable and to excuse or turn a blind eye to everything they do, because then you’re worshipping them. But I believe, in political debate, we should speak only the TRUTH, or make it clear that what we’re saying is an opinion and not fact, so that we’re not deceiving people. And to have a humble attitude, to “be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

I’m no innocent. I’ve learned that I need to verify from different sources that I trust before I repeat something about a public figure. (And this is not about gossip but engaging in debate.) But just because someone is famous, it doesn’t make it right to tell lies about them, no matter if your motive or end goal is good or not.

So as I continue to strive to ensure that I’m not repeating falsehood, I’m imploring others to do the same and debate with accurate facts and truth, not to spread malicious lies just because it’s someone you don’t like or disagree with.

The truth always comes out, eventually. And I want to walk in integrity and have people trust what I say is correct, even if they may disagree.

Every morning, I try to remember to pray: “Lord, please help me to discern truth from error, and fact from fiction. Help me know when someone is lying to me (because I tend to be a tad too trusting).

God bless you. Thanks for reading. I hope you’re having a great New Year.

Dawn and also on Buddy’s behalf

***

Jesus claimed to be “The Way, The Truth, and The Life.” It’s hard to tell truth from error when you don’t have Jesus in your life: It’s easy to be deceived. But Jesus promises that when we invite Him into our heart that “the Spirit of truth comes, (and) He will guide you into all the truth (Jesus, John 16:13)”.

If you want to step into the light of truth, please pray: Dear Jesus, I believe that you died for my sins and took the punishment I deserved. Please forgive me and enter into my heart. I ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me into all truth. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

If you said this prayer, you’ve begun your eternal life and joined the Christian family. Please find a good church to fellowship with and grow in the knowledge of the truth. God bless you.

Happy New Year! Unexpected Blessing, Luke 2:8-11

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Buddy is a rescue dog from Silky Terrier Rescue. I’ll always be thankful to his foster mom for rescuing him from an abusive situation and bringing him into my life. Barb acted unselfishly as she is a Silky Terrier breeder yet she is willing to care for and place dogs that will not bring her an income.

Buddy was formerly in a bad situation where he was being kicked and mistreated. Suddenly, one day he was lifted out of that situation to dwell in a loving home where he is spoiled and much loved.

At Christmastime we celebrate the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, but it is a wondrous story that can bring joy to our new year, also.

Some shepherds “were staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock at night.” (Luke 2:8) To them, it was another typical night doing the same boring job they’d likely done for years. They were just another of the Nameless Unimportant doing the job that had to be done to keep their society functioning properly. The shepherds had no clue that life would suddenly change, something miraculous would occur that evening.

“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'” –Luke 2:9-11

You might be looking ahead to this year and thinking, “Another year. Probably be just like last year and the year before. Same old boring job, same old boring me. Probably be another typical year.”

I’ve been trying to encourage myself today. Seems I’ve been ill a long time, my artistic dreams have not taken wing, and life plods along like I’m a draft horse with its neck stuck in a collar treading the same old ruts on the same old path. But I have to remind myself that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

But some day this year Jesus may suddenly appear and your ernest prayers will finally be answered, your failing dreams may finally come true, your long held desires will be fulfilled. Just like Buddy, who had no clue that his miserable situation wouldn’t be permanent, we may suddenly find ourselves lifted out of the situation that is plaguing us.

“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…”–Lamentations 3:22

This night or tomorrow morning or some other day this year could finally be the day that your prayers are answered, your dreams come true.

Buddy’s life changed suddenly for the better. Yours, and mine, can too. Don’t lose hope. We serve an omnipotent and compassionate God.

Have a very happy and blessed 2018.

Love from Dawn and Buddy

PS. I did go to Taiwan last year which was an unexpected blessing and opportunity to serve God.

***

The best blessing a person could have is a relationship with the eternal and living God through His Son Jesus Christ. When you admit that you are a sinner and can never meet God’s righteous standards in your own power and strength, and that Jesus died for your sins, taking the punishment you deserve, to make you right with our Holy God, you become born-again. The Holy Spirit comes to inhabit you and transform your inner being. I invite you to take the first step to a lifetime of adventure and eternal life.

Please pray: Lord Father, I acknowledge that I can never meet your perfect and holy standards. I declare that Jesus died as punishment for my sins because He loves me and so do You. That God took on human flesh, dwelt amongst us and then died on the Cross and was resurrected bodily on the 3rd day. I ask you to forgive my sin and grant me the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. Thank you for your kindness. In Jesus’ name, Amen

I was born-again March 7th, 1989 and I’ve never regretted the decision. Which is why I invite you to join our worldwide and eternal fellowship as a fellow Christian.

 

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.