Tag Archive | Jesus

Where Is Your Faith? Luke 8:22-25a

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It’s Seahawks football season again. Last year Buddy hid in the master bathtub because the neighborhood shoots off booms and bangs every time the Hawks score a touchdown. He also runs off when a family member claps their hands to cheer a good play.

Christians, including myself, are not immune to fear. As a result, we don’t always move forward in faith when we should. Yet, sometimes Jesus pushes us into fearful situations to increase our faith and trust in Him.

“Now on one of those days Jesus and HIs disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they launched out.

But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.

They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.

And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?'”–Luke 8:22-25a

Sometimes I get frustrated with my fellow Christians. Maybe that is wrong. But here is the reason: According to the US Government Census page, our USA population is slowly approaching 326 million people. 40% of the population claims to be born-again, or 130 million, 400 thousand people. I assume they are all old enough to make the claim. When I was discussing this with a friend recently, they claimed that only about 10% of the 40% is sincere. OK, so that’s 13 million and 40 thousand people.

For several years I’ve been listening to the Christian community claim that it’s all over for America. Really?

After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, 12 apostles and five thousand new converts turned the known world upside down, starting a spiritual, and ultimately a cultural, revolution that has lasted for over 2 thousand years. So I ask my fellow 13 million plus fellow American believers: Where is your faith?

“And He (Jesus) could do no miracles 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

Perhaps the problem in America with it’s increasingly debauched culture isn’t that God has given up on America, but that we have given up on praying to God for spiritual renewal. It’s really easy to get busy with family or recreation or business and not leave time to pray. Or exhaust ourselves with guilt and worry and anger and not have the energy to pray.

Or, simply, not ask God for spiritual renewal and hunger in America because of simple unbelief. Not asking because we don’t believe it’s possible. We’re looking at the waves surging around us of cultural rot and animosity toward Christianity and the Bible and tossing our hands up in the air in despair, instead of getting on our knees and praying.

As Dr. Charles Stanley says, “The battle is won on our knees.”

I’m not satisfied in watching souls die without the Lord and hope.

I’m going to start spending more time in prayer that God raise up godly evangelists, particularly among the new generation becoming adults. And for spiritual renewal in America. Please pray with me.

Until Jesus returns, we’re to be salt (a preservative) and light. We’re all here at this time for a reason. Have faith, my friends!

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

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

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

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

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

What’s this got to do with Jonah?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.” (Jonah 3:6) The king declared that everyone, even the beasts and flocks of birds, were to fast and be covered with sackcloth, signifying repentance. “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw his burning anger so that we will not perish.”

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.”–Jonah 3:10-4:1

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

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

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

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

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

You have to ask to receive. God bless you.

The Third Guy, Matthew 25:14-29

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Buddy had been abused before I had adopted him. He was three years old at that time and very frightened of my family. He didn’t make a single sound for three days, not even a sniff or a cough. We feared his voice box had been damaged and were about to take him to the veterinarian to be examined when, fortunately, he gave a small woof at the neighbor’s dog. When he wasn’t punished for making a noise, he slowly became more vocal. It took about 1.5 years before he stopped ducking every time we reached toward him. It made us very sad. Now, after 7 years, he is the most talkative dog we’ve ever had and I enjoy his attempts to communicate with us. After living with him for so many years, we usually understand what he’s saying.

Jesus told a parable about a master and his three slaves. Their master gave his servants a great opportunity to show their value to him. He went away on a trip and left them with some money with the expectation they would increase it somehow. Upon his return, two of his servants had invested the money wisely and doubled the amount. They were greatly praised and rewarded. The third slave, fearing his master and thinking he was a harsh and punishing man, didn’t invest the money but, instead, hid it in the ground. This parable is referred to as the Parable of the Three Talents (the talent being the issue of currency in the tale).

Because the third slave didn’t invest the money wisely and bring an increase of the master’s money that was entrusted to him, the master became very angry and had him cast into the outer darkness.

Usually this tale is interpreted as Jesus telling us that He wants us to utilize our lives for His glory and not to waste the gifts and talents given to us. The third slave goes to Hell as he does not invest his life wisely.

Why did the third guy fail so miserably?

It’s because he didn’t love and trust his master. He even had the gall, in attempting to excuse himself for being such a poor steward of the talent given to him, to tell the master to his face:

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”–Matthew 25:24-25 NASB

Often people reject knowing Jesus and submitting to Him as their God and master because they fear him. Like the third guy, they don’t live their lives for God’s glory because they believe God is a harsh master who cannot be trusted. They don’t know Jesus so therefore they don’t trust that He loves them and wants to bless them. But what does Jesus say about Himself?

“I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”–John 10:10b-11

Jesus loves us so much that He laid down His life to die for our sins so that we can be declared pleasing/righteous in God’s eyes. He had to do this because God cannot tolerate sin, so Jesus had to purify us from our sins so that we can enter into God’s presence and fellowship with Him.  There’s no way we can be good enough, no matter how hard we try, so the perfect God/man had to die for our sins. His righteousness is a gift, given to us, just for the asking through an act of faith.

But it takes an act of trust to ask God to enter your life and be your Father and Lord.

As the Good Shepherd, He can be trusted to guide your life to “green pastures”. (Please read Psalm 23). Ask Him to forgive your sin and invite Him to enter into your heart and be your Lord. I’m not promising you’ll have an easier life. But you will never regret it.

And you’ll have eternal life with a reward so wonderful that you cannot imagine it.

Good People Go To Hell, Matthew 5:3

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Did that title get your attention?

Buddy sits by the front door to see what’s going on in the neighborhood but he’s looking in the wrong direction. However, since he has seemingly supersonic hearing, he can still hear what’s going on outside.

Many people hear God’s call or message of salvation, but they look the other way and don’t accept it.

During His famous Sermon On The Mount speech, Jesus began with this verse:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”–Matthew 5:3

Speaker and teacher Kay Arthur explains that being “poor in spirit” is to admit one’s spiritual poverty, one’s utter spiritual bankruptcy and inability before a holy God to have any righteous standing. To admit one’s utter sinfulness.

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;”–Isaiah 64:6

Most people think that Judgment Day is like what is depicted in Egyptian paintings: There is a scale on which one side rests all of one’s bad deeds and the good deeds on the other. If the good deeds outweigh the bad, you get to go to Heaven. If the bad outweighs the good, you go to Hell.

But God is so pure and holy that we can never stand before Him on Judgment Day in our own righteousness. “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:48   God’s standard to get into HIS HOUSE is perfection.

“No one is good except God alone.”–Jesus, Mark 10:18

The people Jesus was harshest with, as reported in the New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), were the Pharisees, the religious leaders who thought they were good and didn’t need to listen to Jesus’ message or rebukes.  Jesus upset their spiritual apple cart by declaring that those persons that the Pharisees considered to be the most sinful members in their society would get into Heaven before they would.

“Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”–Matthew 21:31

Because the Pharisees believed they were good, they didn’t see a need to repent and accept the righteousness of Christ as their own.

Sadly, I know a lot of good people who refuse to believe they need to repent of their sins and accept Jesus’ death on the Cross as payment for their sin. They think they can stand before a perfect God and prove themselves holy by their own deeds.

Pride is the opposite of “poor in spirit.” I pray that pride is not keeping you from accepting that Jesus died for your sins.

***

I stand on the shoulders of giants. I’d like to give credit to my spiritual mentors:

Martin Luther,  Kay Arthur, Dr. Charles Stanley,  Pastor Chuck Smith, Pastor Chuck Swindoll, Pastor Bob George, Pastor Max Lucado, Pastor Ben David of Hope Fellowship and Dr. Michael Youseff

 

Mr. Darcy and Christmas: Genesis 3:9

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My beloved Buddy is wearing his Christmas holiday bowtie and collar. He wasn’t too happy about it and is looking rather miffed. Yet, he is naturally a very sweet dog and makes good company. If someone were to judge him solely by this photo, they would get a very wrong impression of Buddy’s personality.

During the Thanksgiving holiday season I watched one of my favorite movies, “Pride & Prejudice,” with the lovely Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. I particularly enjoy Donald Sutherland’s version of Mr. Bennet.

As many who love the story know, the hero, Mr. Darcy, makes an error in judging the character of Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s sister. Because Jane is so shy, she doesn’t make her interest in Mr. Darcy’s friend clear as to whether she loves him as a man or just a friend. So Mr. Darcy separates his friend from Jane to protect his feelings.

Elizabeth is quite angry that her sister’s heart was broken. She considers Mr. Darcy cold and snobbish. Mr. Darcy proves his love to Elizabeth by rescuing the Bennet family from a foolish choice by one of her sisters that could ruin the family’s reputation and standing in the community. Elizabeth learns, through Mr. Darcy’s actions, that he is actually a good man and is also rather shy in revealing his true feelings and nature to those he doesn’t know well. And falls in love with him.

Only because Mr. Darcy is willing to risk being rejected a second time by proposing again to Elizabeth (after she rejected him for being a snob for his poorly worded first proposal), does Elizabeth find great happiness in marriage.

When contemplating how the author, Jane Austen, put the plot and characters together, I realized that Mr. Darcy is a sort of Christ figure. Despite his rejection by Elizabeth, he continued to do good for her family, with a great financial gift to rescue her sister from ruin, to prove his love for her. Love motivated him to continue to pursue Elizabeth and risk rejection.

“Where are you?”–Genesis 3:9

When I finally realized the true meaning of God calling out for Adam and Eve in the Garden, it broke my heart.

God is also misunderstood and rejected by billions of his beloved humanity. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve didn’t trust God’s love for them and listened to Satan instead, thinking God was holding out on them so they disobeyed. They didn’t believe that God truly loved them.

When God called out, “Where are you?”, He knew where Adam and Eve were physically. But they became spiritually separated from Him. At one time, they were in perfect union and fellowship with God. Sin/disobedience separated them spiritually so that they no longer felt His great love for them in their spirits. Their spirits died.

We were created to be triune beings, like God: soul, body and spirt. When the human race rejected fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit left the human race. As a result, each one of us is born missing the Life of God within us. We are all born with a God-shaped hole within our being.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”–Jesus, John 10:10

Every human being feels that emptiness inside. They try to fill it with things that can never fill it: food, sex, entertainment, parties, alcohol, travel, drugs, shopping, etc. We can never get enough of what we’re trying to fill that emptiness with. These attempts to fill the hole never work because we were created to be filled with the Life of Christ.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing;”–John 6:63

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), …so that in the ages to come He might show the surprising riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”–Ephesians 2:4-7

Because we don’t trust that God is good, we don’t come to Him. Yet, He continues to pursue each one of us because of His great love for us. He wants to give us, not only eternal life with Him, but His life by giving us the Holy Spirit, making us whole once again. This is what the term “born again” means: the Holy Spirit coming to live within you when you repent of your sin, admitting that you need God to be in charge of your life, accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Your spirit is united with the Spirit of Christ and you become spiritually alive.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and confess in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”–Romans 10:9

Lord, meaning, “Immanuel, God with us.”–Matthew 1:23

Christmas is about God pursuing us, sending His son to live among us so that we can understand and believe that He is good and that He truly loves us.

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; …And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”–Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas from Dawn and Buddy

God bless you. Thank you for reading my Buddy blog.