FADING

IMG_2752“The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.”  Isaiah 40:8 ISV

It will soon be a year since Danni died.  I still cry and miss her on a daily basis.  It still hurts but sometimes I feel guilty because life has gone on without her.  Sometimes, the memories aren’t as strong and I think I have betrayed her.  I’m afraid she is going to fade away if the pain of losing her is not as intense as it was yesterday.

The dictionary describes fade as to lose brightness or vividness of color.  It means to dim, disappear gradually and to vanish.  Our memories can turn from severely painful to  bittersweet and healing.  Danni will never disappear as she will be a part of me forever.

Things in this world started to fade when sin entered the picture in the Garden of Eden.  I John 2:17 states, “And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever”.  People and our most cherished treasures here on earth must pass away from this earth but we have a home in heaven that will never pass away.

Jesus hung on a cross willingly dying for each of us; his very life fading away.  Three days later he rose from the grave giving all who believe a resurrected hope and future.  I Peter 1:3-4 tells us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade”.  Though we fade away in our earthly bodies, we will be resurrected to live with Jesus forever where nothing will ever fade away. Jesus told his disciples that heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).

It is horrible to watch a forest fire destroying the trees.  Our plants die from lack of water.  Our loved ones grow older and may forget our names.  This world and the things of it will pass away but with Jesus we have a hope and a future that will never fade.  Put your trust in him today!

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MALNOURISHED

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But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 NIV

We have all seen the pictures of rescue animals before they have been adopted.  They are underweight and malnourished.  Burt’s ribs were showing the day we took him home at a whopping 45 lbs.  Danni weighed in at 49 lbs. wearing a harness at her first veterinarian appointment.  Both dogs filled out nicely and quickly tipped the scales at 60 lbs.

Many of us do not have the problem of being underweight.  Some of us are exactly the opposite and trying to watch what we eat so the pounds aren’t packed on over the years but it is possible to be overweight but malnourished.

Malnutrition is described as a lack of sufficient nutrients in the body.  Some causes of malnutrition include a poor diet and digestive issues.  As Christians, we can suffer malnutrition.  When we have a poor diet of spiritual nutrients, our bodies and the body of Christ suffers.

A diet packed full of personal time in God’s word, fellowship, bible study, gathering for public and private worship are all spiritual nutrients.  To lack time with God is to starve yourself and when one of God’s children are malnourished, the body of Christ is also operating on a poor diet.

The Parable of the Sower is found in Matthew 13.  A farmer was out sowing seeds and some of the seed fell on rocky ground, some fell along the path, and some seed was planted with thorns and other plants that choked the seed out making it unfruitful.  How you digest the word of God is also very important.  If you have digestive issues, you could become malnourished.  Don’t let anything stand in the way of the word of God taking root in your heart.  James 1:22 states, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says”.

Good nutrition provides maintenance, growth, reproduction, and health.  Proverbs 3:7-8 tells us, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones”.

Make sure you are getting all the proper nutrients from God’s word.  We don’t want to be malnourished Christians, starving ourselves and God’s family.

BURT AND DANNI CAME FROM THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD; TO DONATE CLICK HERE

CANCER

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For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Seneca is ten.  She has slowed down in recent months which only means she is more like other dogs now.  We can let her out in the yard to play and not worry that she will be in the next town within seconds.  She is not going to jump the fence, look back and smile, and be on the neighbors roof observing them through their windows.  Some changes are good but I still have a problem with people saying she is in her geriatric years and she is an old gal.  Some things I just can’t accept.

On a recent visit, Seneca was throwing up.  You could tell she wasn’t feeling well.  She wasn’t jumping on the bed or in the car with any enthusiasm so her senior exam and bloodwork were scheduled.  She was given supplements for her joints and seemed to be doing fine.  The results of the bloodwork showed elevated liver levels and an ultrasound was recommended.

The vet called with the test results and compassionately announced a large dark mass that extended well past her liver.  We could go to an oncologist and have a biopsy done but cancer of the liver was likely.

Cancer is a word most of us dread hearing.  It is a malignant growth or tumor resulting from the division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.  Many of us have had loved ones, human and furry that have been affected by the disease.  On the outside, things are going along fine but on the inside something is abnormal and growing.  When symptoms appear, we go to find out what is wrong.

Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Things might seem okay on the outside but on the inside sin is affecting us.  The growth left unchecked will eventually produce symptoms that will get our attention.

When sin is brought under the light of God’s word it can be eradicated.  The growth of sin can be stopped and entirely washed away by placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Our verse today states that God’s word is alive and active.  Hebrews 12:1 tells us to throw off anything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us and fix our eyes on Jesus.  1 John 1:7 in the Amplified Bible reads, “but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].

Go to God and his word today so that no unwanted growths are found that could destroy your quality of life and eventually kill you.  Jesus came that you might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10b).  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10a).  Don’t let that happen to you!  Live sin free.

SENECA CAME FROM BERKELEY COUNTY, WV:  CLICK HERE TO HELP OTHER ANIMALS FROM THERE

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

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“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.  To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.  I Corinthians 1:1-3 NIV

I receive reminder post cards from the veterinary office telling me that one of the dogs is due for certain vaccinations and testing.  I also am reminded of veterinary appointments already scheduled and emails fill my computer addressed to Danni and owner, our puppy that died almost a year ago.  This type of correspondence shows me that I am not known on a personal level even though the information may be welcomed.

Most of us have composed a letter starting with the words, To Whom It May Concern.  I know I’ve sent out many cover letters for job applications with those words.  I always feel as I type them that I am probably the only one that is really concerned.  As we write emails and letters we always hope our audience will be interested in what we have to say.  We want our correspondence to be appreciated and read.  We hope our letters accomplish what we sent them to accomplish.  To grab our readers attention, writers start out with a hook; something that they hope will hook their readers.

Paul starts his letter to the Corinthians telling who the letter is from and identifying himself with his audience.  He says who he has become is because of God.  He binds the audience to him because we are all one in Christ Jesus.  He has called us and makes us into his image.  We are related to each other in the family of God.  There is a connection.

When God sent his word he sent an angel to a young virgin and told her not to be afraid.  She would carry and give birth to the redeemer of the world.  God spoke from a burning bush to call Moses into leadership of the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land.  Both methods got the expected attention of the hearer.

There are 66 books of the Bible.  These books and letters are written to Whom It May Concern.  No matter where you are in life, the word of God does concern you.  It is packed full of attention grabbing hooks to keep you reading.  Whether it is a flood with every animal coming two by two or angels bearing messages to be fulfilled; it is directed at you, God’s audience.

John 3:16 states that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  God reached out to you first when he sent Jesus, his word, to die in your place that if you believe you will live forever.  It is an attention grabbing hook that tells you that the To Whom It May Concern is you and God is concerned.  He loves you.

Is he calling you today?  Have you read his letters?  Do they grab your attention and do you identify with them as one of his own?

Don’t hit delete before reading God’s letter to you.  There is a message personalized with your name!

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MEMORY LANE

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“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”. Romans 15:4 NASB

When we lose a pet our heart breaks.  Memories of Christmas toys and treats, road trips, walks, nights spent cuddling, and the many unique habits, personality traits, and quirks of our beloved best friend fill our minds.  As the memories hurt a little less, we wonder if we are betraying our faithful friends who loved us unconditionally.  We might even bring in a new pet to love but never replace the one your heart aches to see again.

We are told in Philippians 3:13 by Paul that it is a good thing to forget what is behind us and keep looking towards the future.  We do not want to get stuck in the past or be bogged down in guilt for past mistakes and forgiven sin.  We are told to keep pressing on to the future and becoming more like Jesus.

We are also told to learn and grow from our past.  The past shapes us into who we are today and what we will become tomorrow.  Each person we meet leaves an impact on our lives.  The past is full of lessons learned.

The Bible tells of Old and New Testament hero’s that kept the faith.  Words written for our instruction fill the pages so that we have a hope for tomorrow as we follow their example.  Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us, “Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”.  We are to pass our memories along for our children and others to know the past.  When we read the stories of the prophets of old, the Promised Land, David and Goliath, and many others, our faith is built up and we will push into the future knowing God is able.  He will provide.  He is with me and will take care of me.

Memories are a part of who you are and what you will become.  Pass them on so that others might know the hope that you have placed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  He has seen you through good times and bad times.  He was there yesterday and today and he will be there tomorrow.  He loves you!  Remember that!

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LOOK FOR THE STEEPLE

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“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”.  Hebrews 12:2 ESV

I always tell the dogs while we are out for a walk that if they ever get lost they should look for the church steeple.  When they first came to our home and were not familiar with the area, I would repeat those words often.  The church steeple stood tall on a hill and was easy to see.  If they would head for the steeple, they would reach home.

I told that story to a friend who was new to the area.  Not too long afterward, she was out walking her dog and found herself turned around and wondering which way to go to reach home.  She remembered my directions to our dogs and she looked for the steeple and soon found herself headed home in the right direction.

Unlike my home which has many streets and alleys to reach the same location, there is only one way to reach our heavenly home.  In John 14:6, Jesus tells us, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me”.  Matthew 7:14 states, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.  Acts 4:12 states, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”.  Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:17, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”.

Many are accused of being narrow minded and judgmental when proclaiming Jesus as the only way to heaven but Jesus said himself that he wasn’t sent to condemn the world but to save it.  Sin separates us from God and placing our trust and faith in Jesus Christ as our redeemer and Lord closes that gap and sets us on the right road to reach home.

Just as looking to the steeple sets my path to reach my earthly home, looking to Jesus as my Savior starts my journey toward my heavenly home.  Knowing him as the author and perfecter of my faith sets my feet on the solid rock as I place my faith in him.

Jesus took our punishment and paid for our sin.  There is no judgement just love in the finished work of our Savior on the cross.  Look to him and you will find your way home.

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EVEN THE DEMONS BELIEVE

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“You believe that there is one God. Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder.  James 2:19 NIV

Dog trainers tell you that you must be a strong leader.  Dogs will attempt to lead you if you do not lead them.  We are told to establish ourselves as the Alpha  and obvious pack leader or there will be chaos in our homes.  Different methods exist from invisible fences, clickers, E-Collars, to doggie boot camps where your pup resides and is returned to you as a sterling example of obedient perfection.

Jesus was a strong leader wrapped in love.  He led in word and by example.  The disciples boot camp lasted for three years with thorough training.  Just like our pups, they didn’t always get it but they definitely believed that Jesus was the Alpha and worth following.

Atheists and agnostics don’t have that going for them.  An atheist is defined as a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.  An agnostic doesn’t believe or disbelieve in a god or religious doctrine.  The Bible says that even the demons believe and tremble.

Satan knows God exists and aspires to be the Alpha, failing miserably with his counterfeit lifestyle.  Revelation 12:9 tells us, “The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.  He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him”.  Ephesians 6:12 states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

Mark 5 records the story of a demon possessed man healed by Jesus.  His body housed so many evil spirits that they called themselves Legion.  In The Message Bible they refer to themselves as a mob.  Jesus commanded them to come out of the man and leave him alone.  The demons begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs.  When the demons were forced out of their old home and into their new, the herd of pigs ran down a steep hill and into the water and were drowned.  Verse 13 lists the herd of pigs at 2,000.  That’s a lot of demons who all believed, spoke to Jesus, and shuddered!

Jesus is confident in who he is.  He is a born leader and speaks and acts with authority.     We claim to believe and recognize him as our Savior and Lord but do we let him lead us?  Is he the Alpha in your life?

Demons are on the opposite side and know their enemy.  They recognize him as the Alpha and the Omega.  If the demons believe in Jesus, shouldn’t we?

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ESSENTIAL

FullSizeRender (36)“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?'”  John 11:25-26 ESV

Essential.  I considered Danni to be an essential member of our family but she got sick.  After a week of seizures and suffering we were finally told there was no hope and we made a painful decision.  Within seconds our essential eight year old puppy dog was gone.

I am considered an essential employee.  I carry a letter from my place of business stating I am traveling to work because I’m essential yet I haven’t been to work in over a week.  I am staying home unless needed and am essential only on an on call basis.

Jesus was essential in heaven yet he was sent to earth to become a man.  He was essential on earth to teach his disciples to carry on God’s work so that all peoples might know him as their Lord and Savior.  Jesus is essential and yet he died, hanging on a cross for you and me.

Essential is defined as absolutely necessary and extremely important.  It is fundamental, vital, and indispensable.  It is being incapable of removal without destroying the thing itself or its character.

We would all like to believe that we are essential and yet we too will die.  While on earth we make an impact on those we love and those who love us but time passes and so do we.

Our longing for time and eternity is found in God.  To him we are essential.  Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created mankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”.  Luke 15:10 tells us, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”.  Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.  As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring'”.

Here on earth, we may be considered to be essential only by a few.  Our status may change from day to day and we may only be needed on an on call basis but with Jesus our status will never change.  He loves us with an everlasting love.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  We are loved and important to him.

We will not have to carry traveling papers to prove we are essential in heaven.  Ephesians 4:30 tells us that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of God for the day of redemption.  I Corinthians 15:52 states, “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  I Thessalonians 4:17 ends with, “And so we will be with the Lord forever”.

Essential things on earth may be temporary and will soon pass away but we will always be essential to our heavenly father!

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LIFTED UP

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Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him”.  John 3:14-15 NIV

Burt has very long, lanky legs.  He can easily jump on our bed but mostly, he stands beside it looking at you with his soulful, brown eyes.  He gently lifts his paw and swipes the bed.  My husband gathers him in his arms and lifts him to the bed where he receives all the love and attention he requires and deserves.

Lucy is another story.  She is like a kangaroo and does not need lifted up onto anything.  She is happy to jump even though she weighs thirty pounds less than Burt.

In Numbers 21, the Israelites are on their journey to the Promised Land.  They have left slavery behind in Egypt and God has provided them bread from heaven called Manna to eat on a daily basis.  Just like us when we’ve been trapped in our cars or our houses too long, God’s people started to gripe and complain against him and his provisions.  Why did we have to leave Egypt?  I’m sick of the desert.  This food you’ve given us is gross and boring.  There’s no water.  Their grumbling continued against God until he sent venomous snakes.

The snakes bit the Israelites and many died.  The people approached Moses confessing their sin and asking him to pray to God for them.  Verse 8 records the Lord telling Moses to make a snake and put it up on a pole.  Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.  Moses did as he was commanded and anyone who looked at the bronze snake that had been lifted up, lived through the poisonous snake bites.

In John 3, Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus and uses the same illustration and compares it to himself.  In John 12:32, he tells us, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself”.  Jesus is predicting his death and how he would die on a cross, lifted up from the earth.

David speaks of Jesus death on a cross many years before Christ was born.  Psalm 22:16 states that they pierced his hands and feet.  It goes on to say that people stare and gloat over me.  They divide his garments among them and cast lots for his clothing.  All things that took place at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  One thousand years before Jesus lived, King David wrote a psalm depicting his death on a cross.

700 hundred years before Jesus lived, Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 53 of the man of sorrows who carried our sins.  A man pierced for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.  Jesus the lamb that was slaughtered.  Verse 12 tells us that he was numbered with the transgressors and made intercession for them.  A prophet tells 700 hundred years before it happens that Jesus will be hung with two thieves and will pray to God for their forgiveness.

As  we go through life grumbling and complaining about our journey, snakes of sin, temptation, and discontent are biting at our feet just like the snakes in the desert.  Jesus has already been lifted up and when we lift our eyes to Him for our salvation, we shall live.  Prophets foretold it, history records it, and we must believe it.

Just like Burt stands by our bed, looking to us to lift him up, stand at the foot of the cross.  Look up!  Jesus is there waiting to lift you up and give you all of the love and attention you need. You are forgiven!  You are loved!  You are cleansed!  Though bitten by sin, you shall live!

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BATTLEFIELDS

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“Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  I Timothy 6:12 NIV

We took the dogs for a walk at the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD.  They stood overlooking Bloody Lane.  September 17, 1862 is remembered as the bloodiest day in American History with about 23,000 casualties.  The sunken road that was later renamed Bloody Lane was home to a nearly four hour battle with some of the fiercest fighting during the Battle of Antietam, or as the confederates named it, the Battle of Sharpsburg.  Blood flowed like a river inside the sunken road that day, with bodies stacked on top of bodies.

Battlefields appear everywhere in our lives no matter how hard we try to avoid them.  Our homes are filled with discord.  Churches are filled with strife.  Our schools are not safe from bullying.  Workplaces have contention and jealousy.  We are people with differing backgrounds, opinions, and beliefs.

Our own bodies are battlefields.  We struggle against depression, negativity, and destructive thought patterns.  Illnesses come against our bodies from no fault of our own or from neglect and unhealthy habits.  Our checkbooks and bank accounts, our savings or lack thereof is a constant threat to our wellbeing and peace of mind.  The struggle is real.

Jesus said in this life you will have trouble (John 16:33).  He said he has told us that so we would have peace as he has overcome the world.  In John 14:18, Jesus tells us that he will not leave us orphans because he will come to us.  In Deuteronomy 31:6, God tells us not to be afraid or terrified for the LORD your God goes with you.  He will never leave you or forsake you.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Are you struggling spiritually?  Ephesians 6 goes on to tell us to put on the whole armor of God to protect us from the evil one.

Is your battlefield in your mind?  Fear taking over?  Negativity and depression filling your thoughts?  Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will”.  2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report:  if there be an virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”.

Having trouble with others at work, home, or church?  Romans 12:18 tells us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”.  Can you hold your tongue?  Not respond to that irritating FaceBook post?  James 4:7 states, “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.

Finally, Revelation 12:11 tells us, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death”.  Just like the soldiers in the Civil War who gave their lives, Jesus died so that we might have freedom from the battlefields in our lives.  He shed his blood and he hung on a cross for you and me.  The victory was won at Calvary.  Love, peace, joy, and reconciliation all sprouted from the drops of blood that fell from our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.  There might be a skirmish or two left to fight, but the battle has been won and we have overcome!

My mother-in-law always wanted my husband and I to sing this song in church but we only managed to sing it around her piano with her accompaniment.  She was always encouraging and if she lost any battles with her thoughts and words, she would clasp her hand over her mouth and ask Jesus to forgive her!  This song is for you!

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