Tag Archive | Joy

What Is Hell? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Buddy.WhatIsHell?

Buddy is keeping a close eye on me while enjoying the oriental rug I laid down on my bedroom floor. The beautiful rug made the room much more homey and comfortable looking, livening up a lifeless space.

When most people think of Hell, likely what comes to mind is the Dr. Faustus version or the old Hammer Films of shooting flames and pointy-tailed demons, pitchforks, red skin and goatees.

What Hell actually is, is eternal separation from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the triune God. Which is a total absence of the presence of love, as God embodies true love and is the source of all life for eternity.

There are many attributes listed in the Bible of Who God is, but the two passages below are very succinct in their description.

The most famous passage is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 written by the Apostle Paul, often quoted during wedding ceremonies in the USA:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.”

The second passage from Galatians 5:22-23, also by Apostle Paul, describes the fruit of the Holy Spirit and how, as God works in a believer’s life, helps him or her to grow in these qualities throughout their lifetime:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

What is Hell? A complete absence of these qualities.

An eternal existence with only the exact opposite of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-controlled behavior in one’s life.

“Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”–Jesus to Nicodemus, Pharisee, John 3:3

Please consider Jesus this Christmas season. God came to earth, taking on human flesh, to satisfy the righteous requirements of His Law and to die for our sins, suffering the punishment we deserve for falling short of God’s standards to enter His holy presence.

“…knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 2:4

The Triune God loves you and wants you to spend eternity in His loving presence, “to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.”–Apostle Paul, Jude 1:24

With love from Dawn and Buddy.

Happy As a Dog, Isaiah 36:3

Buddy.Mariners.Posing..WP

Buddy always greets me with joyous rapture when I return home. And he is always excited to take a “walkie” although we frequently walk the same route once or twice a day. Unless something frightens him, his normal state is to be either contented or happy.

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

“The steadfast in mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.”–Isaiah 36:3

I believe that dogs are happy because they aren’t fussing or ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. They live in the present.

God always encourages us to be thankful (contented) and to live in the present.

Not to ruminate on the past, to let it go:

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.”–Isaiah 43:19  Why?

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered nor come to mind.”–Isaiah 65:17

Because one day we will not remember our current earthly lives. You’re not only going to leave everything in the past behind–but not even remember this present life. So why keep holding onto that old baggage that’s distressing you? Drop it now. You’re not taking it to heaven (or the new earth) with you.

And, what is worry? Fretting about possible negative events in the future.

Does a dog ever sit around and think, “Good heavens! My owner may die tomorrow and I won’t get treats and walkies and belly rubs anymore? I may get chucked out of the house and have to lick spoiled tomato sauce out of old, rusty tin cans in the garbage dump to survive.” Heck no! He’s focused on what you have hidden in that napkin in your coat pocket after you returned from eating out.

Jesus says, because we can trust in God’s love for us: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him…For everyone who asks receives…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him.”–Matthew 6:8, 7:8, 7:11 from the Sermon On The Mount

In summary, you can trust God for your present and your future. Forget the past and move on because you have a wonderful future ahead of you.

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create, For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness.?–Isaiah 65:18

God created you to be happy as a dog.

***

Ironically, while working on this post, something popped up that distressed me greatly. God brought it around for my good (Romans 8:28). Thinking about what I am blogging about helped to calm me down and deal with the situation much more rationally. God is good. What timing!

Never claimed I was perfect, just blogging about what I am thinking about or dealing with at the time.

Much love from Dawn and Buddy.

Wagging Tail, 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Buddy.Wagging

I intended to write on another topic tonight, but when I was in the bathroom this morning, Buddy joyously greeted me with a wagging tail because I had returned from attending church. He was happy just to see me and be in my company. And it made me feel good because my dog cares about me and wants me around.

It got me thinking, “Am I happy just be in God’s company? Am I rejoicing because I’m  a child of God and know that, through my relationship with Jesus Christ, I will be “rescued from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)? Am I enjoying God for Who He is and not just what He can give me and those I pray for? Or do in this world?

Jude says that one day I will stand before Him in the Afterlife, “blameless with great joy. (Jude 1:24).” Apostle Paul also echoes this in Colossians 1:22, “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”

Because Jesus died for my sin, I don’t have to fear approaching God. He now sees me clothed in the “righteousness of Christ” and “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103: 12).” Jesus encouraged prayer and making requests of God. To see Him as our Father, our encourager and our comforter. King David often poured his heart out to God to find comfort and strength in his suffering and travails, as written down in the Psalms. Apostle John frequently emphasized in his letters that God is love and loves us: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God (1 John 3:1).”

Apostle Peter also encouraged us to open our hearts in prayer to God, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).”

After the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, the Jewish people wept because of their nation’s sin which had caused God to allow the destruction of their city by the Babylonians in 586 BC. But God admonished them, telling them to rejoice instead. “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”–Nehemiah 8:10

I know Psalm 100 by heart. But it’s time that I try harder to apply, with God’s guidance, this great Psalm’s encouragement to enjoy God:

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing…Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Because God is good and loves me, I can enjoy His presence: through prayer and giving thanks, rejoicing in my blessings, in this beautiful world and family and friends and living in a wonderful country. Instead of focusing on the hurt and trouble and evil in the world.

Or as the shorter version of the Westminster Catechism teaches:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Have a blessed week.

***

God loves you and sent Jesus to die for your sins. You can become a child of God and enjoy His presence by admitting you are a sinner. Why must you do that? Because, when Adam and Eve ate the apple, they were telling God that they didn’t need His advice on how to live, they were going to decide it for themselves. As a result of rejecting Him, God’s Holy Spirit left the human race and so every generation has been born separated from God since. When you ask God to forgive your sin, you’re admitting to Him that you don’t have all the answers and want His guidance and presence in your life, that you want Him to be your great Shepherd and leader. Please ask Him to forgive your sins and ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit, to guide your through His Word, the Bible, on how to live this life. He’s waiting for your invitation to let Him enter into your life and heart.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.”–Revelation 3:20

Please open your heart to Him for “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

 

 

 

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.

 

 

God Is Love, 1 John 4:16

Buddy.Cute.WP

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.

 

Strength From Joy, Nehemiah 8:9-10

Happy Buddy

I tried to give Buddy a walk earlier today, but the construction noise across from the park frightened him and he made a mad dash back to my car. He gave me a happy smile when he managed to claim the driver’s seat. Because he felt safe in my car, he could abandon fear and smile again.

Nehemiah was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes of the ancient Medo-Persian empire. The great king allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem in 445 BC to rebuild the city wall that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had destroyed. Inspired by God, pagan King Artaxerxes also provided the funds and supplies for the project. During those times cities were usually encircled by walls to protect them from their enemies. Because of Nehemiah’s leadership skills, the motley and varied group of Jewish inhabitants of the city rebuilt the wall in 52 days. What was particularly amazing is that these people were not professional builders: women, perfumers, goldsmiths, and all sorts of persons lugged stones for the walls and hung doors for the gates.

After the great project was completed, all the people gathered to hear Ezra the scribe bless them. He also read from the Book of the Law (Old Testament) and explained it in a way that was understandable. The people wept bitterly when they realized they fell far short of God’s requirements.

“Then Nehemiah who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep….Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”–Nehemiah 8:9-10

When we’re focused on our works and failures, rather than on God’s goodness and might, we can be self-preoccupied, cranky, bitter and miserable. But what does God say?

“For You have cast all my sins behind your back.”–Isaiah 38:17

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He moved our transgressions from us.”–Psalm 103:12

After we’ve confessed our sins, God doesn’t continue to hold them against us. He doesn’t want us walking around with long, pious faces. I really think Jesus wasn’t like the movies portray him: serious-looking all the time. I believe he was full of joy, radiating abundant health, because people were drawn to Him and wanted to be near Him. No one is drawn toward a sour puss.

When we are focused on our sin and unworthiness, we’re self-preoccupied rather than God-occupied. Most people are unhappy. If they see Christians who are joyful, even despite adverse circumstances, they will be drawn to you and will listen to your testimony because you clearly have something they lack: joy.

And from personal experience, I feel healthier when I’m focused on God’s goodness, the beauty of nature and positive things in life, rather than where I’m failing or where others are falling short. I feel more pep in my step when I’m focused on the positive instead of being self-preoccupied.

Folks, be God-occupied and rejoice! God is good, thinks about you a lot, and He loves you. You can trust Him to “guide (you) in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). And “Who always leads us to triumph in Christ,” (2nd Corinthians 2:14).

You can relax in Jesus. He’ll continue to guide you. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6

End note: If you are not born-again, you can still find temporary joy in nature but without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, you are not being guided into triumph in Christ. Please consider saying this prayer: “Father, I admit that I have a sinful heart, have offended you and cannot live up to Your righteous standards. I accept that Jesus died on the Cross to take the punishment I deserve for my sin. Please forgive me and enter into my heart. I trust that on the third day after the Crucifixion Jesus was resurrected bodily, an acceptable sin sacrifice, to give me eternal life. Be my Lord and teach me to walk in your ways.” If you’ve said this prayer, God promises to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13  God bless you and guide you to a Biblically-based church fellowship.

Quotes from the NASB version of the Bible

 

Focusing on Joy: Hebrews 12:2

buddy-seahawks-12-4-16

Here in the Seattle area most people look forward to watching the Seahawks football team play. As I am typing, fireworks are blowing off, signaling that the Hawks have scored. Buddy is less than enthusiastic about the fireworks, however, and is cowering near my feet.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”–Hebrews 12:2

Jesus was able to endure the agonizing pain and humiliation of the cross because His focus was on the end result, the great joy of reconciling humankind to Himself, removing the sin barrier separating us from God. His sitting down at the right hand of the Father symbolizes, (I’ve been told by spiritual authorities I respect), the finished work of Christ on the Cross. There is nothing to add to His work. “…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;”–Apostle  Paul, Romans 10:9

As Christians, we have something far more wonderful to look forward to: Our lives have a very happy ending.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 8:18

Our lives are like fairy tales. There are great dangers and sorrows to be faced and overcome, but in the end (as in most of the traditional tales) there is a happy ending. I encourage you to imitate Christ and keep your focus on the end game, the goal line: our joyful eternity with God.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.”–God, Isaiah 65:17

One day, all of these present sufferings will pass away and we’ll live in never-ending joy.

God bless you this Christmas Season.

Dawn and Buddy

NASB Version of the Bible quoted from.