Tag Archive | perfection

Why The Flood Still Matters, 2 Peter 3:9

BudnandDonut.WP

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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Evil for Evil, 1 Peter 3:9

Buddy.Looking.WP

I have an elderly neighbor named Fran that loves Buddy, so we try to visit him most nights so that he can have some dog time. His daughters have been visiting and brought a little Chihuahua-Chow mix with them called Sammy. Sammy is one pound of fur, one pound of dog and a hundred pounds of nasty. He growled and snapped at Buddy’s nose when Bud walked over to him to say “Hi”.

Now Buddy considers Fran’s house his second home. Sammy is an interloper. But how did Buddy respond to having his nose nipped? Surprise. He didn’t snap back, growl or attack the little runt. Everyone in the household enthusiastically declared what a sweet dog Buddy is.

Now, as you can see, Buddy has a better attitude than I do. I was not at all happy that this “little runt” attacked my dog. I love Buddy and am very protective of him. But he’s more noble than I am. He didn’t even bark at the dog but I feel irritated that Sammy tried to hurt Buddy.

I wish I could be more like Buddy. Both the Old and New Testaments command us to “treat others the same way you want to be treated,” Apostle Paul exhorts us to not to “return evil for evil” (Romans 12;17), and Apostle Peter wrote:

“not returning evil for evil or insult for insult but giving a blessing instead;”–1 Peter 3:9

Too often my first impulse is to retaliate when someone insults or mistreats me. Even though I know that Proverbs says, “sweetness of speech increases persuasion,” I still want to verbally thump someone who says something I think is ignorant, ill-informed, or just plain wrong.

Sometimes I think God put dogs into our lives to show us that it really is possible to be kind when others are unkind, to love unconditionally. Often Buddy shows more mercy and kindness than I do.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:44-45

When I take a moment to reflect on Jesus, I realize how the majority of people ignore or hate Him. Being omniscient, God knew that most people would reject Him, yet He still chose to give up His glorious home and restrict His divine power to live as a human being and die on a cross for our sins.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”–Romans 5:6-8

God did it so that He could turn enemies of God into children of God by removing the sin barrier between us. God cannot tolerate evil and must punish it. Yet, instead of destroying the human race, He chose instead to suffer horribly and take our punishment for our sin.

What keeps me from being kind at times is a lack of humility.

Because when I’m rude and retaliating when someone is unkind or selfish, I’m forgetting that I once was an unbeliever till God had mercy on me. Who knows what kind of person I’d be today, or what foolishness I’d believe, if Jesus hadn’t convicted me of my sins on March 7th many years ago. Or “there but for the grace of God go I” the old saying goes.

“…to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…”–Titus 3:3-5

And, sadly, what keeps people from knowing God is a lack of humility, the inability to admit that they’re sinners and need a perfect God to die on their behalf. Most people think they’re good enough to get to Heaven and don’t need someone to pay for their sins.

But God only accepts perfection to get into Heaven. “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:48

Personally, I know I fall short and cannot justify myself before a perfect God on Judgment Day. I just need to remind myself, before I’m tempted to “return evil for evil or insult to insult,” that God commands that I be kind, because He is kind to all.

In a rambling sort of way, what I’m saying is, that I need to be reminded to be kind when other people fall far short of how I think they should behave, because God is kind to me and accepts me as His child although I fall far short of His standards every day.

It shows how fallen I am that I even NEED to be reminded to be kind.

Thank God for His kindness and great mercy to me.

And bringing such a sweet and loving dog into my life to remind me what unconditional love really is like.

Thanks for reading and for your time. God bless you. Love from Dawn and Buddy

 

 

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.

 

Being Perfect: Matthew 5:49

Perfect.Buddy

To me my little Silky terrier, Buddy, is perfect because I love him. Is he really perfect? No. But when I look at him, I’m not thinking about the times he’s been a bad boy: I’m thinking about how fun he is and loyal and quirky. I’m not focusing on his bad traits (which are very few, of course).

Many Christians love Jesus with all their hearts but don’t really understand their salvation, so oftentimes they’ll preach the bad news to unbelievers. Yet, the Gospel is called “the Good News”. What makes it good, and not bad, news?

During the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus’ most famous sermon, He tells how to be a good person. It’s very convicting because no one can live up to it 24/7, no matter how hard a person tries and how sincerely. Yet Jesus proclaims during the sermon:

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:49

Perfect? God expects me to be perfect?

Often, in sincerity, Christians will proclaim that you must do good deeds and live up to God’s Laws to be pleasing to Him. Some even claim you can lose your salvation if you aren’t good enough. But Jesus said that God’s standard was “perfection”. James also proclaimed:

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”–James 2:10

What James is saying: if you try to please God by attempting to live up to His standards, yet fail just once, you’re guilty. The law of good works condemns you to Hell.

So anyone who tells you that you can be good enough to be pleasing to God, just doesn’t have it quite right. Because it’s impossible to be perfect. God is so incomprehensibly far holier than we could ever imagine or hope to be in this lifetime.

But here’s the GOOD NEWS: “By grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.”–Apostle Paul, Ephesians 2:8-9

God declares you righteous by faith, not by your good deeds (works): not by being good enough or staying good enough. The truth is: You can NEVER be good enough in this lifetime.

It’s a GIFT: You don’t work to earn it. It’s an act of mercy by a loving, yet holy, God to bring you into a love relationship with Him.

The GOOD NEWS is that you’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ. What is that exactly? By believing that Jesus was God in the flesh, died on the Cross to take the penalty of God’s wrath for your sin, and that He was resurrected from the grave.

“My righteous one shall live by faith.”–Hebrews 10:38.

“And without faith it’s impossible to place Him…”–Hebrews 11:6

And, because it’s still impossible to be perfect after your salvation, you maintain your walk by faith (Galatians 3:1-3). You’re declared “not guilty” by the Great Judge because Jesus nailed your sin to His Cross (Colossians 2:14). If you come to faith in Jesus, on Judgment Day, you will “stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.”–Jude 24

When you believe in Jesus and become born-again (receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit), God looks down on you like I look at Buddy: with eyes of love and not condemnation.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.”–Romans 8:1

“And their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.”–Hebrews 10:17

More later on the counterbalance: Actions have consequences.