Tag Archive | Love

Falling Short of Expectations, Ephesians 2:8-10

BuddyWithBone.WP

Do you ever feel like Buddy in this photo: There are good things in life you could enjoy if you’d just make the effort to grab onto it?

Sometimes I get discouraged when I read about the great heroes of the Bible: Job, Esther, Daniel, Nehemiah, Noah and Joseph. They seem so perfect, so heroic. Job who suffered so greatly yet would not curse God nor lose his faith in God’s goodness; Esther, who was willing to sacrifice her life to save the Jewish people; Daniel, who was such a good person that his enemies could find nothing to accuse him of to get him into trouble with the king; Nehemiah, who had the wisdom to pray on the spot for God’s help in a precarious moment and to ask the king to assist him in a great and mighty task; Noah, who spent over a hundred years building a boat with absolutely no evidence there would be a flood yet believed God anyway; and Joseph, who didn’t grumble and complain no matter how unfairly he had been treated and maintained his faith in God, despite his adverse circumstances.

Sometimes I feel that being of use to God in furthering His kingdom is just beyond my grasp. I want to pick up that bone and run with it and be faithful and a good Christian. But I grumble and complain when work sucks or life doesn’t go my way; I get discouraged when I don’t see God answering my prayers; I forget to pray when under stress; and people could easily find fault with me. Despite my best efforts to serve God, I feel like I fall short every day.

Way, way short of God’s standards of how I should behave.

And then, when I start to look upward and not at myself, I remember what God says in Ephesians 2:10:

“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. For we are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we would walk in them.” (NASB, CAPS my emphasis)

  1. God didn’t choose to save me because he thought I was so wonderful. But I am HIS creation. He chose to make me and save me because He loves me. And He is the one who accepted me. He’s totally 100% good and kind, yet He chose this sinful person to be in communion with Him and His Holy Spirit indwells me.
  2. “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.”–Romans 8:1 God knows I cannot live up to His righteous standards. That’s why Christ had to die and take the penalty for my sin, because there’s no way I can earn God’s favor. He freely chooses to love me, despite my faults, flaws and failures.
  3. Because I’m so flawed, I can boast in a good and loving God.
  4. God loves variety. I’m different from other people because God designed me that way. I’m unique and my job to do on this earth is, therefore, unique to me.
  5. God chose what works I am supposed to accomplish in my lifetime. His plan for me is not the same as the pastor’s or my friends or my fellow Christian believers. “He who began a good work in (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 1:6  I can trust that God, as my good Shepherd Who leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake” (Psalm 23:3) will guide Me into accomplishing the deeds/works He wants me to accomplish.

Sometimes we feel bad because we don’t have the gifts or the accomplishments that other “Super Christians” seem to have and we don’t win those great battles. Yet one man led Billie Graham to Christ and because of that one man’s faithfulness, Mr. Graham accomplished great things for God. (I was saved through Billie Graham’s TV ministry in 1989.)

As my dad has often told me, “There’ll always be someone greater or lesser than yourself.” If I compare myself to the superstars, I’ll feel discouraged.

I have to remind myself that my relationship with God is a personal relationship and that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a); God didn’t make a mistake when He made me and chose me.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”–Psalm 46:10

So I need to stop striving and trust that God will accomplish His good purposes in my life, and when I’ve completed my God-assigned tasks, He’ll call me home to eternal joy.

God bless you, my dear reader.

***PS. If you follow my site regularly, thank you. I try to follow your site back, but sometimes I have trouble finding the follow button.

***

If you aren’t born-again, you’re missing out on a wonderful love relationship. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that life becomes gravy street, but God will give you strength to face life. You’ll no longer be alone. You were born with a piece of your inner life puzzle missing, and only He can complete it. Please say this prayer below to begin your faith journey.

“Lord, I’ve offended you by my sin and fallen short of your standards. I accept that I can never be good enough to atone for my sins so that Jesus was punished on the Cross on my behalf. Please forgive me and save me from myself. Change me by sending the Holy Spirit to live Your life through Me.”

“Your heavenly Father (will) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”–Luke 11:13

Congratulations, brother or sister on becoming born-again. Please begin to read your Bible and pray that God will lead you to a Bible-based church where you can grow and fellowship with other believers. God bless you richly. Love you, my fellow believer, Dawn

 

 

 

Fairy Tale Ending, 1 Corinthians 2:9

Buddy.WP.SunshinewithShawdow

When I first adopted Buddy, he was terrified of me and my family. But after several years of love and treats, walks and healthy food, he finally relaxed and enjoys our company. He was rescued from a situation where he was kicked and chased and now enjoys a loving home.

You might feel like life gives you, not love and affection, but numerous kicks and suffering. You might have chronic pain or financial problems that seem insurmountable, or family members and coworkers who torment you, or great past affliction that’s difficult to forgive or forget.

But please think of your life as a fabulous story. Every good story has conflict or it’d be tremendously boring: times of great suffering and trials that must be overcome, monsters to be slain. But the hero endures, and because he/she never gives up, triumphs.

However, if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, your unique life story has a fairy tale ending. One day you will be present with the Lord in Heaven which is so wonderful that we cannot imagine it, says Apostle Paul,

“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”–1 Corinthians 2:9

Just think of your favorite book with the happy ending you enjoy so much and Heaven is far better.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”–Revelation 21:4

You enter into a relationship with Jesus by believing that He died for your sins, suffered the punishment you deserved, and maintain your relationship with Him by faith (Galatians 3). You cannot do anything to deserve your eternal salvation, nor can you do anything to maintain your salvation:

“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 2:8-9

Jesus had the courage to voluntarily face the tremendous suffering of Crucifixion because He kept his eyes on the “joy set before Him endured the cross”–Hebrews 12:2

“Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize…”–Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:13

So when life seems hard and you want to give up, please remember to keep your focus on the joy ahead. You are the lead character in your own life story. And your story has a fairy tale ending if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Rejoice! This is good news!

Religious Freedom Joshua 24:14-15

buddy-sleeping-wp-3-5-17

It really bums me when Buddy doesn’t want to hop onto my bed and sleep with me some nights and, instead, runs to a family member’s room to spend the night. Sometimes I know the reason–my electronics beeped and scared him off–but often I don’t know the reason why. However, I don’t force him to stay in the room with me by closing him in the room. (He’s yet to figure out how to turn the doorknob.) If I force him to stay, I know he’ll be unhappy, so I let him go. He’s free to make his choice.

Joshua warned the Jewish nation that it was best for them to serve the Lord God of the Bible, the great King who led them out of slavery in Egypt and into the land promised to Abraham’s and his descendants many centuries earlier, a land of great bounty and blessing. Abraham’s father was a pagan and the Israelites had been surrounded with false gods while in bondage in Egypt. (The 10 plagues were judgments against 10 of the important Egyptian gods.) Yet, despite the pillar of Fire at night and the Cloud by day (the visible presence of God) that led the people to the Promised Land, they carried false gods from Egypt with them.

The below is one of the first great statements of religious freedom in the Bible, and I think maybe, the World (but there’s lots I don’t know about religious history).

Joshua said to the Israelites:

“…fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua made it clear where he stood, but he declared that the Israelites had a choice to serve God or not to serve Him.

God created us, loves us and sustains our lives every day. But He doesn’t force us to love and serve Him. We are free to make our own decision whom we will serve.

Then people blame God when people choose evil instead of following Him and doing good.

That’s the price of freedom.

Asking For Snacks: 2 Peter 5:7

lingering-bud-wp

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.

 

Impatience With God: Psalm 40:1-3

buddy-wp-openmouth

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.

 

When An Evil Man Dies: Ezekiel 18:32

_20141007_193814

Discussing the topic of death, I didn’t want to utilize a picture of my beloved Buddy. This photo is of the moon peering through our cloudy, Northwest sky.

It’s ironic that an anti-capitalist Marxist, Fidel Castro, died on Black Friday, the biggest sales day of a capitalist country, one pundit commented yesterday. Understandably, the Cuban community in exile in Miami celebrated. I pray that Raul Castro will allow, not only economic freedom to continue to expand, but also personal freedom. He is permitting Christians to worship more freely (so I’ve heard earlier this summer), which is wonderful.

But how does God feel about the death of an evil man, such as Fidel Castro?

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

“God is love.”–1 John 4: 8b

Once a person dies, they no longer have the option of repenting of their sins and entering into a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Because God is loving, He doesn’t rejoice when someone dies without having a relationship with Him. He isn’t happy when someone is separated from Him for eternity. No one knows us as well as He does and loves as deeply and sincerely as He does.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 6:44, 48

All of us are considered sinners in God’s eyes before we repent, for “There is none righteous, not even one;” (Romans 3:10). He alone is perfect; we cannot consider that we’re more worthy of God’s love than any other person. Once we declare our need for Jesus to cover our sin and advise us how to live, then we’re covered by Christ’s righteousness. We’re considered holy by God only because we’ve received the Holy Spirit and our hearts have been circumcised by faith. It’s not our righteousness, but that of Jesus, that God sees when He looks at saved Christians.

In other words, no one has the right to strut about, thinking they’re so much more wonderful than anyone else. In God’s eyes, we’re either saved or not.

“Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”–Provers 25:26

I’m not saying we’re supposed to rejoice when a wicked person rules or passively accept evil behavior. But to avoid self-righteousness, thinking we deserve salvation and someone else doesn’t. Because we don’t earn it: It’s an undeserved gift from God of His mercy.

I pray that the Cuban people may experience increased freedom now that Fidel Castro is gone.

 

God’s Lovingkindness: Psalm 23:6a

walking-behind-wp

For some time I’ve been pondering and praying over these words from Psalm 23:6a*:

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,”

David’s psalm begins with the good Shepherd walking in front of His flock, leading the way, but ends with Him following from behind. Why?

It perplexed me for some time. If God is leading me through dark times to a lush, pleasant highland to rest and refresh myself, why is He suddenly walking from behind?

And then I considered this very famous verse from Apostle Paul, Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,”.

God leads “us in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3b*) The problem is, I don’t always follow Him and wander off the path. Sometimes it’s because of foolishness, or lack of trust in Him, or just simply not knowing what I should be doing. And, I hate to admit it but it’s true, it’s just outright rebellion, thinking I know better than God.

Stupid to think I know better than the omniscient God, isn’t it?

We do have to pay the penalty when we wander off course. Not because God is mean, but consequences teach us to stay on the path. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”–Galatians 6:7 *

However, God is merciful and loving. What I finally realized is: When I mess up, my merciful Father helps me get back on course. He follows behind, helping me to get out of the hole I’ve dug for myself and to fix the mess I got myself into. He doesn’t kick me when I’m down. There are some things that cannot be reversed, for example an abortion, but He brings healing to the suffering woman who’s had one through godly Christian counseling and friendship.

But God isn’t mean: He doesn’t want us to stay down when we slip up. A common metaphor preachers use is: Like a little child that’s learning how to walk and then falls, God has ahold of my hand and lifts me back up again and helps me walk forward. The Christian life is a process. We’re not instantly perfect when we become born-again; learning to be a godly person is a lifetime task.

I think anyone who knows me would certainly agree that I’m far from perfect.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”–Psalm 37:23-24*

It’s comforting to know that the Lord has “enclosed me behind and before,” (Psalm 139:5*). I’m not alone in trying to clean up the mess I’ve made. My merciful Friend is right with me.

*All quotes from the NASB version of the Bible.

(Also, please note that I’ve been influenced by many godly persons and preachers in my lifetime. Not everything I write is 100% original with me; for instance, the metaphor of a child falling down and being lifted up again by the Heavenly Father. But I certainly couldn’t tell you where I first heard it.)