Great Creator: Psalm 36:7

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I love my Buddy; when he’s good or when he’s bad, he’s still my little pal. I do much prefer it when he’s good and obedient, but I’d never toss him aside or give him away because he’s misbehaving.

In my women’s Bible Study we’re learning about the names of God. God and Lord in the Scriptures actually have more exact names in the original languages.

A few weeks ago we studied about Elohim, The Creator.

I often identify with God more as The Creator than His other names because, being made in His image (Genesis 1:27), I also like to use my imagination creatively. I’m not like God, able to speak things into being from nothingness and can only recreate from what already exists, but I really enjoy making up stories and drawing cartoons.

I struggled with my image of a loving God because I know He’s so holy and I’m so imperfect. But one day it finally clicked: I love my cartoon characters from my Cattle Capers(tm) world, both the good ones and the bad ones. Why? Because I created them.

They’re not real, yet I have an emotional attachment to them, as their creator.

The name Elohim is used in Psalm 36:7, but translated as God, per Strong’s Number 430: “How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God (Elohim). People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

God loves us because He created us. He fashioned us in the womb and is intimately interested in us. His attention is always on us. (Psalm 139) We exist because He wanted us to.

Lenny the Rat is one of my favorite characters, but he’s far from perfect.

Just as I am, just as you are. But God loves us anyway.

You don’t have to be perfect to be lovable.

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Finding Rest: Matthew 11:28-29

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When we visited Ocean Shores last summer, I wore Buddy out, walking along the beach. He found rest amidst the grass. However, it was inadequate to protect him from the strong wind that afternoon.

I don’t know about you, but at times I want to run away from the nastiness that’s being spewed since the last Presidential election. But, unless I want to hide in a cave for the next four years, I have to deal with it. Jesus has been my hiding place to run to and find rest.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”–Matthew 11:28-29

Preachers claim that Jesus is referring to a team of oxen: A young ox is yoked to the experienced, older ox who plods along, focused on plowing a straight line. When the newer ox stops goofing around, trying to go his own direction, and yields to the older ox, he finds that the yoke becomes easier.

I find anger, fretting, fear and frustration very taxing emotionally. It’s like a slow poison that damages your health and soul. Jesus promises that when we focus on Him, we’ll find rest. When we allow Jesus to direct our lives, we will find we’re happier and our soul feels lighter.

Jesus has a better path for our minds to travel in.

“Do not FRET…”–Psalm 139

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and DO NOT CURSE.”–Romans 12:14

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”–Romans 12:17

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God…”–Romans 12:19

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”–Romans 12:21

“Do not FEAR for I have redeemed you…you are precious in My sight…”–Isaiah 43:1, 4

“Do not WORRY about your life…”–Luke 12:22

“My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”–John 14:27

As you can see in John 14, peace is something God gives to you. You cannot create peace within yourself nor obtain it from the world we live in. Ask Him to give you peace in your heart and by faith trust Him to have given it to you and thank Him for it. When the world and angry people around you start to make you feel stressed out, turn your focus toward Jesus and follow His way: praying for your enemies/opposition and trusting Him to work it out. Focus on His attributes. He’s the great Lord of Hosts, the Omnipotent God. Nothing is too difficult for Him to handle. (Jeremiah 32:17)  He’s in control at all times. He laughs at the nations. They are but dust in His sight. (Psalm 2)

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.”–Isaiah 26:3

 

 

Lingering: Genesis 3:1-2

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Our area received nearly 7 inches of beautiful snow Sunday evening, while many local areas received almost a foot. Oddly, it snowed all day Sunday but didn’t start to stick to the ground till after dark. Buddy tried to walk around the edges of the snow in our backyard to find a place for “relief”. Finally, he had to trot through the snow, but he didn’t linger in the frigid cold but kept moving.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he (the serpent) said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'” And the woman said to the serpent…”

Often, when I buy something I don’t need it’s because I linger too long looking at it. If I’d merely glanced and moved on, I wouldn’t have spent money on something I really didn’t need. But if I stop and gaze–whether on the Internet, an email I should’ve deleted, a catalog I should’ve tossed, a store’s window or display stand I should’ve continued walking by–then I’m far more likely to give into temptation and pull out the credit card or check book.

Eve apparently wasn’t surprised that the serpent spoke to her, so she must’ve had at least a prior encounter with the snake. The problem was, when the serpent questioned what God had commanded her, she stopped to continue the conversation. But Satan was the most crafty of all creatures. Once Eve lingered to speak, she was halfway toward questioning God’s good intentions toward her and losing the presence of the Holy Spirit in her life. If she had run away, Satan would’ve been denied that particular opportunity to tempt her to destroy her intimate relationship with God.

So the moral is: Don’t linger unless you really want to buy the goods that are being offered. Something I need to remind myself of more often.

Asking For Snacks: 2 Peter 5:7

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Anyone who has a dog knows they like to linger at the dining room table when you’re eating in the hopes of scoring a few crumbs or leftovers. I try not to give Buddy too many scraps because it’s not good for him, but I enjoy his company and having him near my chair, even if it’s not for the best motives.

God enjoys our company, also. Jesus encouraged His followers to pray in Matthew 7:7-8:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will opened.”

He asks us to come to His table and ask for “snacks”. Why?

“…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”–2 Peter 5:7

Sometimes I have to call Buddy to the kitchen or to the table to give him a snack because he’s someplace else in the house. If he is unwilling to come, then he doesn’t get the snack.

In His home town of Nazareth, Jesus “could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.”–Mark 6:5-6

Sometimes we suffer because we just aren’t willing to walk over to the table and spend some time with our Master. My hip will hurt, or perhaps a sensitive tooth, for days before I remember I haven’t come to the Lord and asked Him to heal me. And guess what? When I asked recently, the pain went away. (It will return, due the chronic issues I have, but maybe I’ll remember to ask sooner for help.)

I’m not saying we’ll always be healed or delivered from our difficult or troubling situations. Sometimes He answers by giving us the strength to get through it because we live in a sinful world with selfish people. Sometimes life sucks and we just need courage to weather the storm. It may be God’s will that nonbelievers around us see how believers handle difficult situations, (hopefully), with patience, kindness and faith, not fretting, because we have a relationship with the living God. And maybe they’ll seek Him to have that relationship, also, to navigate successfully through their stormy seas.

Do you have some need today that you haven’t brought before Him?

PS. This wasn’t my original posting I intended to write about lingering, but I felt led to give you encouragement today instead of exhortation. Quotes from the NASB version of the Bible.

 

Bronze Serpent: Numbers 21:4-9

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The day before I flew out of town last December, my little Buddy was in a great deal of pain and had to be rushed to the vet. Above, he is trying to get onto my family member’s lap in the vet’s office. Not only was he in pain, but I was in pain, listening to him squeal whenever we walked near him or tried to pick him up. I just wished he could tell us what was wrong.

Many skip reading the book of Numbers in the Bible as it has a lot of lists and numbering of tribes and persons, etc. which is, honestly, a bit of a snoozer and likely interesting only to archeologists. But there are some story gems sprinkled in the book.

The Jewish people were getting impatient with the journey to the Promised Land. They wanted immediate possession, not wandering about in the wilderness to get there. They didn’t trust God to lead them safely to the land in His timing. Once again they sinned by grumbling against God, displaying no faith in His goodness or willingness to bless them.

“The people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.'”–Numbers 21:5

The food being referred to was the manna that God miraculously provided for them. Talk about ingratitude. God didn’t take them directly to the Promised Land because they would’ve immediately encountered hostile tribes before they were properly prepared for warfare. The indirect route was His way of protecting them.

In response to their grumbling, God sent fiery serpents among the people which bit and killed many of them. When the people acknowledged their sin and asked for the serpents to be removed, God commanded Moses to create a bronze serpent set upon a standard. All anyone had to do to be healed of their wound was to look at the serpent. Those with faith in God’s Word through Moses, looked at the bronze serpent and were healed. Those who scoffed and refused to look at the serpent and focused on their wounds instead, died.

Jesus referred to this incident as recorded in the Gospel of John, 3:14-15:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the serpent image echoes the serpent in the Garden of Eden who led to the downfall of Mankind, causing Adam and Eve to sin, bringing both spiritual and physical death to their offspring. We all have a choice in life: To listen to the devil and focus on our sins, or by faith, look at the Cross of Christ. By simple faith, we can have eternal life by acknowledging our sin and believing in Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for our sins.

But, not only that, every day we all have a choice as Christians: to focus on the wounds the serpent, Satan, inflicts us with and our sinfulness, or look to Jesus for healing of those wounds by accepting His love and forgiveness. We can choose to be miserable, focusing on our hurting wounds and failures, or look to Him Who promises:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 4:8

The choice is yours: focus on Jesus Christ and His might, mercy and love, or wallow in your sin, hurt and guilt.

Not that I am perfect. How often do I agonize over my failures or someone’s bitter behavior toward me till I remember to look to my dear friend and Savior, to finally find peace for my soul.

Make the better choice, my eternal friend in Christ.

By the way, it turned out that Buddy had strained a muscle in his neck. When we walked near him, he was shrieking to warn us to stay away so that we wouldn’t accidentally touch him and injure his neck further. He’s doing great now, after a rather pricey vet bill, but I’m thankful I had the money to pay for it.

Note: All Scripture quotes are from the NASB. And I gratefully acknowledge the great Christian leaders who’ve shared their Biblical knowledge over the years so that I could put this blog together. It is their teaching, distilled today, that I share.

Impatience With God: Psalm 40:1-3

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The other day Buddy was fussing at me because I was making him wait for the meat I was cutting up for him. He could smell the delicious aroma of the beef from below the dining room table. I was making him wait, not to be mean, but because the steak wasn’t properly prepared yet. I wanted to cut it into Silky terrier-sized bites and mix in some little bits of cheese. If I’d given it to him when he wanted it, the chunks would’ve been too large to swallow easily and he wouldn’t have gotten the cheese.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.”–Psalm 40:1

Often we get impatient with God. Because we’re hurting, we want Him to solve our problem RIGHT NOW! Often God tells us to wait for the answer to our prayers. He hears us but He’s often working silently in the background, getting people and events properly in place to bless us. God, I’ve found, usually works within the natural processes of the world He’s created. He’s not making us wait because He’s mean and enjoys watching us suffer. During the wait we learn to trust Him; our faith is being built up. And the next time we have to wait, we’re a little more patient because we’ve learned something good is being prepared for us.

“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”–Psalm 40:2-3a

I believe God’s New Year’s Resolution for me is to learn to be more patient. I can sometimes sound a little harsh or irritable with people or be frustrated with negative situations. I know I can improve. When people see me remaining calm in a tight, stressful or hurtful situation, I can point them to the reason why: trust in Jesus Christ’s love and care for me.

“Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.”–Psalm 40:3b

Buddy and I wish you a great week.

 

No Fear In The New Year: Psalm 121:7-8

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Buddy isn’t so thrilled about the New Year because it’s a war zone in our neighborhood. Fortunately, this year the neighbors celebrated for fewer hours, perhaps because it was so cold this winter or maybe they just ran short on funds after the multi-day fireworks extravaganza last Fourth of July. He spent most of the evening hiding deep in the closet under clothing or sandwiched amongst the stuffed toys stacked on my bed with just his face showing, just like ET.

Every New Year reminds me of how unknowable my future is. This year could bring great joy or great sorrow, a likely job lay-off or illness, a fabulous overseas European adventure or reduced circumstances. I don’t have the ability to predict the future, only to make my best guess.

However, whatever the year brings, I can rely on God’s promises in Scripture. One of my favorites, when facing the unknown, are these two verses from Psalm 121:7-8:

“The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.”–NASB

Whether I leave a job, my home, or the old year behind, I know that the Lord Jesus will be with me, guarding me and watching over me.

Whether I begin a new job, move to a new home, or enter a new year, I know that the Lord Jesus will be with me, guarding me and watching over me.

Whether I go or come, leave or stay, He will be with me.

As you wake to each new day or rest your head onto your pillow in the evening, if you are born-again and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, remember that He will be with you.

Happy New Year from Dawn and Buddy.

PS. Due to inclement weather (high winds), this greeting was a bit delayed.