Tag Archive | judgment

Why The Flood Still Matters, 2 Peter 3:9

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As I detailed in an earlier posting, Buddy was so proud of himself when he grabbed my donut that I had left on my bed one morning instead of eating for breakfast. When I returned from work, he proudly greeted me with his prize. I laughed; after all, it was my fault. Buddy didn’t deserve punishment for only retrieving what I’d forgotten.

God is the same way with us. He is not eager to punish humanity for its sin. “For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but the save the world” (John 3:17). God loves us, yet He hates sin. So He sent Jesus to take our punishment for His anger at our wickedness.

Apostle Peter echoes Apostle John’s words in his second letter to the church. He warns them that in the last days before Christ’s return, people will mock God, saying that because Christ has not yet returned, there is no coming Judgment. History flows along as it always has, with humanity in charge.

“But when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that…the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”–2 Peter 3:5

I wasn’t raised Christian and struggled with the concept that an all powerful God could come down as a man and live amongst us. I read the “Origin of the Species” by Charles Darwin and a biography on Darwin, in an attempt to embrace atheism after some negative experiences with Christians I’d met who were a little too eager to convert me. But I’d had two years of biology in high school, plus a math teacher who emphasized logic, and noticed there was quite a lot that was unscientific about Darwin’s book and a lot of unverified fact that was assumed and mere conjecture.

When I took a course in Mythology at the University of Washington, I expected to learn about Greek and Roman mythology. Instead, I had a professor who seemed hellbent on discrediting Christianity. She mentioned that every culture in the world had a flood myth.

“Wait a second,” I thought. “If there really was a flood, wouldn’t every culture in the world have a remnant memory of it, passed down through the generations? If there wasn’t a flood, I’d expect many cultures NOT to have a flood myth. Yet my professor just said every culture had one.”

My now deceased uncle was a college professor, so I knew better than to believe unquestionably everything my instructors told me at the University of Washington. I maintained my intellectual discernment when listening to lectures–thinking critically, not just swallowing everything I was told without mulling it over first.

This incident was the turning point in my life on a path toward coming into a relationship with the true and living God about 5 years later.

I believe so many unbelievers are insistent on discrediting the existence of the flood–and to discredit the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah–because they want to deny that there is a judgment after death and that they’re accountable for how they live their lives. Despite the fact that there are fossils of sea life in unlikely places, like mountain tops, and that dinosaur remains are discovered in piles in alluvial sediment, as if swept away by a vast push of water and deposited.

Yet, the Bible tells us:

“it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”–Hebrews 9:27

“Then I saw a great throne (in heaven) and Him who sat upon it…And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds…And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”–Revelation 20:11-15

God delays judgment, however, because He loves each one of us and wants us to repent and reconnect with Him. I believe this is why we sometimes feel frustrated, wondering why evil people continue to act wickedly and don’t seem to be punished: God is giving them a chance to turn their lives around. He isn’t eager to discipline anyone.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord. “Therefore, repent and live.”–Ezekiel 18:32

It’s really easy to escape this judgment.

“And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”–Apostle Peter, Acts 2:21

“Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”–Jesus, John 8:24

When you recognize that you’re a sinner who cannot earn your way to Heaven, because you’re not able to meet God’s perfect standard, and call upon the name of Jesus, believing that He is God in the flesh, Who took the punishment for God’s wrath at sin, you’re saved.

“We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”–Apostle Paul, Romans 3:28

“For by grace you have been saved though faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that n one can boast.”–Ephesians 2:8-9

To illustrate:

God, 100% perfection, is on one side of a cliff and flawed humanity is on the other side, two miles apart. Between us is a deep gorge, the bottom so far down that even Wile E. Coyote would be afraid to tie an Acme rocket to his back. Some people, because they are really good people, try to jump across and make it maybe twelve feet, then plunge to the bottom. Some people, because they are sorta good and sorta bad, are able to jump eight feet and then plunge to the bottom. Some people are so bad and nasty, they cannot jump at all and just trip and fall to the bottom.

The point is, no matter how good you are, you cannot jump far enough because the only way to get across to stand before a 100% loving and holy God is to be 100% good. For example, you blew it the first time you yelled, “No!” at your mother when she asked you to do something (or your guardian, if you weren’t raised by your mother).

But Jesus stands in the gap, his arms stretching out toward both sides, connecting the two cliff faces. You can walk toward Heaven across His holy arms.

If you have trouble believing, just start on that road by asking Him to give you the faith to believe. He loves that prayer and will answer.

God bless you.

From Dawn and Buddy

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PS. Many thanks to WordPress for allowing us freedom of speech. There are a lot of issues with social media platforms discriminating against speech their founders don’t approve of. Thankfully there is still someplace people can still blog freely. If you don’t like my blog posts, just don’t read them or don’t follow me. I won’t be offended. I believe in freedom.

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Hurting People, James 4:11-12

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When I first adopted Buddy from Silky Terrier Rescue, he was terrified of me and my family. He didn’t utter one sound for several days, not even a sniff. We thought his voice box had been damaged by abuse but it turned out he was just too frightened to make noise. When he barked at the neighbor’s dog and was praised for making a sound, he realized it was ok to make noise. Now he’s our most talkative dog ever.

For years, however, whenever I reached toward him, he would duck as if I wanted to hit him. He doesn’t do it as often now, but he still does duck occasionally and it hurts my feelings because I have no desire to harm Buddy. I don’t know the details of his previous life and can only speculate. Only God knows, but now Buddy has a family who loves and cherishes him. He gets treats and walks and hugs and personal care.

Considering this, I realize that people often act like Buddy. There might be abuse in their past or adverse circumstances that I don’t know anything about that might be causing them to act the way they do. Sometimes people act nasty or fearful because of original sin, but sometimes there are other mitigating factors.

“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law…There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”–James 4:11-12

When the check-out clerk who is scanning my grocery items looks sullen or is unfriendly, I try to remind myself not to react unkindly. I know how many things I conceal from people that I have far more contact with. The clerk may have been forced to come to work to save their job but may not be feeling well, their dog may have run off or been killed that morning, their kid may have just entered drug rehab, or a customer earlier that day was very rude and they haven’t been able to shrug it off yet. I just don’t know what may have happened ten minutes or ten hours ago in that person’s life. Only God knows.

Similarly, a coworker may be acting like a butt because they were told bad news about a relative or had an ugly family fight that morning. Or they may just feel cranky from lack of sleep and it’s an aberration and I need to be patient while they work it out of their system.

I’m not saying that people should make excuses for acting badly toward others, but we are all human and I am certainly not Miss Sunshine 24/7 myself and need others to forgive and be patient with me, too. “Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Now there are indeed times to judge because we are told to “Open your mouth, judge righteously…” (Proverbs 31:9)  We’re not supposed to remain silent and let evil triumph. “Like a trampled spring and a polluted well, is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26)

But in most circumstances of life, I need to remind myself to be patient, be kind, and not judge. Not to be reactive or defensive, but to be proactively loving. I’m still learning because I have my “hot buttons” but I think I’m doing better than I used to because of God’s life in me.

God bless you this week.

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Without the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our lives, it’s difficult to be the person we want to be. God gives us a new heart, a new spirit, and the mind of Christ when we admit we’re sinners and give our hearts to Him. Becoming born-again isn’t just about escaping Hell and going to Heaven; it’s about entering into a close relationship with God and becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you aren’t a believer in Jesus Christ, He invites you to enter into relationship with Him. Please pray: “Lord, I admit that I have offended You and done what is wrong in Your sight. Please forgive me of my sins and enter into my heart and my life. Make me a new creation by the power of Your Holy Spirit.” If you prayed this prayer, please find a Bible-based church to fellowship with other believers and grow in the knowledge of God. As a fellow believer in Christ, I love you and so does the Lord.

Greatest Faith: Luke 23:39-43

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It’s hard to believe that Buddy was abused for nearly three years before I adopted him from Silky Terrier Rescue. He was so afraid of me that he yanked and pulled at his leash, trying to get back to his foster mother (who is a responsible Silky Terrier breeder). I wondered what I had gotten myself into, he was so adamant about not going home with me. Then he kept running away the next week or so. Fortunately, I had a kitty collar on him with a bell, so I was able to locate him by the ringing when I couldn’t find him. I was so afraid he’d get hit by a car. (Fortunately, at that time we lived in a closed neighborhood which lessened the odds of getting hit, but didn’t eliminate it.)

Then, one day, it was like a lightbulb flipped on in his head, as if he was thinking, “Why am I running away? They love me. They give me good food and treats, bathe me, comb me, kiss and hug on me, and take me for rides and walks.” And he stopped trying to run off. Now, he greets me at the door with joyous adoration.

One of the people I admire the most in the Bible is one of the thieves on the cross next to Jesus. Of all the people in the New Testament, I believe he had the greatest faith.

If you don’t know the story, two thieves were crucified on either side of Jesus. On Jesus’ cross, Pilate had a placard nailed above His read which read, “King Of the Jews” to mock Jesus’ claim to be a King, only Jesus claimed to have a spiritual, not earthly kingdom.

“One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him (Jesus), saying ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’

But the other answered, and rebuking him, said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’

And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!’

And He (Jesus) said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'”–Luke 23:39-43

Though the thief had no opportunity to do any good deeds nor be baptized, he recognized his sinfulness and God’s great mercy. He acknowledged he was a sinner deserving death for his evil deeds, repented of his sin by rebuking the other man for mocking God, and asked Christ to save him. This is why I so greatly admire this man. He was one of the few at the time who really got who Jesus was, the Christ–the sacrificial Lamb of God–who died to cover our sins.

The repentant thief is a great example of salvation. The perfect man, Christ, had to die to take our penalty for God’s wrath against our sin. God is just and must punish evil, and only the perfect God Man was holy enough to take that punishment so we don’t have to.

The thief understood that it was all about repenting and faith, not about working for God’s favor, but receiving God’s approval and gift of righteousness by His mercy alone.

“For by grace you have been saved thorough 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 2:8-9

And this very kind and loving God, though in great torment, reached out to acknowledge the thief was forgiven and encouraged him to look forward to Paradise.

There were two thieves, however. The other continued in his disbelief. Which is really sad, because God’s grace would’ve covered him too–if he’d only believed in the Son of God.

No Greater Love: Luke 23:33-34

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One day I came home from work and was greeted by Buddy, proudly displaying his new prize: my donut. I immediately forgave him and laughed. After all, it was my fault that he snagged the donut as I set it down upon my bed when getting ready for work and then forgot it.

I much admire Jesus’ great love for us. When He was hanging from the Cross, in unbelievable pain and agony, His focus was on the welfare of others:

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they do.'”–Luke 23:33-34 NASB

When I’m feeling cranky or stressed, it’s a challenge for me to remember God’s great love and patience for me and that I’m supposed to demonstrate that same love to others. How often I’m tempted to repay evil for evil, or insult for insult, to strike back at someone who’s done evil, forgetting that I once was condemned, deceived and far from God, till I was given a saving knowledge of Christ because of God’s mercy. I was tempted not to pray for a wicked public figure (not a politician in case you’re trying to guess who it is), but God reminded me that He loves everyone and so I prayed for his soul.

After all, to someone as pure as God is, we’re all pretty rotten, yet every day He gives us a beating heart, air to breathe, a lovely day and evening sky, all the blessings of nature, and, in general, a government that maintains law and order. I have no right to be irritated with someone else because we all need God’s mercy.

I’ve been thinking about Judgment Day lately, how those in leadership who think they’re getting away with evil, and refuse to repent, will discover there is no escaping God’s judgment. I feel sorry for them and pray they’ll repent, because it is going to go hard on them. Perhaps this Great Day will not only include a summary of our sins if we’ve not accepted Jesus so that they’ll understand why they’re sinful in God’s eyes, but perhaps also a recitation of all the great love He shows each person every day that they never noticed or acknowledged: Escapes from harm, healing from disease, enablement to make a living, a restraining of wicked impulses that helps them to choose good and maintain their relationships, friends and pets who love them, etc.

And they’ll mourn because they’ll realize they’ve rejected spending eternity with the most loving, generous being Who was, is and will ever exist.

God waits to bring judgment because He is showing remarkable patience, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”–2 Peter 3:9

I’m very thankful, since I wasn’t saved till I was 28 years old, God was patient with me.