RESCUE THE PERISHING

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“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh”.  Jude 22-23 NIV

We have friends that lost their home in a fire while they were away for the evening.  The family was saved but their dogs perished in the fire.  I can barely think about it let alone imagine the grief they feel.

The Message Bible puts Proverbs 24:11-12 this way, “Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help.  If you say, ‘Hey, that’s none of my business,’ will that get you off the hook?  Someone is watching you closely, you know-Someone not impressed with weak excuses”.  We can’t always save people or pets from physical fires but we can certainly warn others so they don’t perish in the eternal fires of hell.

Are you concerned for the salvation of others?  Do you pray for your friends and loved ones?  Do you take the opportunity to tell them Jesus loves them enough to die for them so that they might live eternally or do you look the other way while the fires rage out of control?

I Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.  It is not always easy to witness for Christ but I don’t want to just ride by a burning buulding with people perishing and not try to rescue them from the flames.

Along with the tragic stories of those lost in housefires, the news is full of happy endings where the firefighters have pulled out family pets and their relieved owners.  They receive oxygen and burn treatments but they are blessed with their lives.

I want to be a firefighter.  I want to rescue the perishing so that no one is lost but all come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2:4).  Be a hero so no one is lost.  Pass on the saving grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior so that others might live.

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WE FLY AWAY

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“We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.  You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.  All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.  The length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength, yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away”.  Psalm 90:7-10 NIV

At Burt’s first veterinarian appointment, I was told that this type of dog had long ears that needed to be cleaned as they got dirty quickly.  The ear cleaning solution could be purchased or I could make a home version.  My instructions were to squirt the solution down into the ear and slowing rub the ears to get it everywhere, then to move away as Burt would shake his ears and anyone near would get wet.  After the shake, I was to take a tissue and gently clean Burt’s ears.

The energy Burt puts into shaking his head makes his ears look like propellors and his ears flap so loudly against his head you would think it was painful.  He reminds me of the old show, The Flying Nun.  Burt is ready for takeoff.

Burt can’t really fly and neither can we but hearing the words I’ll fly away give you a sense of freedom and hope.  Hope in Jesus and his finished work on Calvary, offering us a place in heaven with him for eternity.  We all long to fly away from our troubles and be free.  1 Corinthians 15:52 tells us, “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”.   Are you ready for takeoff?

Let’s go to God everyday and present ourselves for cleansing.  The deep down kind that will prepare us to live a free life.  Free from sin and anything that hinders our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Just like Burt, Hebrews 12:1 tells us to shake off the sin that entangles us.  When we are cleansed we will be ready for takeoff.

When life is going great and you’ve been greatly blessed, I pray you are looking forward to the freedom of putting on the incorruptible body and flying away.  When life is rough and you don’t think you can take one more day, I pray you have the hope of eternity with Jesus and are preparing to fly away with him.  As Christians we have to be ready for take off at any minute and it’s guaranteed to be the trip of a lifetime!

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CHAOS

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“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”.  Genesis 1:2 NIV

Chaos is defined as complete disorder and confusion, behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, and the formless matter that existed before the creation of the universe.  Burt creates chaos in our home.  It is safe to say when Burt is around there is disorder and lots of confusion.  His behavior definitely fits into the category of unpredictable.

Genesis 1:2 states that God’s spirit was hovering over the waters when the  earth was formless and empty.  Darkness was over the surface of the deep and it was chaotic.  God spoke and took disorder and turned it into order.  He turned chaos into the heavens and the earth, day and night, and every living creature and pronounced it good.  He was pleased with his creative work and rested from his labor.

Life feels chaotic a majority of the time to many of us.  Whether it is our work schedules, our children’s sports schedules, a new dog with behavioral issues, or dirty dishes and laundry piling up around you; we tend to feel like our lives are spinning out of control.  God is not a God of disorder but of peace.  He longs to take our chaos and create order.

Colossians 1:15-17 states, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”.  In him all things hold together!  You might feel like you are hanging on by a thread but the Bible say he holds all things together and that includes you and me!

Seek him first even when your schedule is overwhelming you.  Praise him during the stressful, sleepless, seemingly endless nights.  Recognize that the God who created the heavens and the earth created you and can turn your chaos into order.  He can still your troubled heart and fill you with his peace.  Not the peace that the world gives but the peace that passes all understanding.  A peace that will bring order to your everyday chaotic life.

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WHAT’S IN YOUR BACKPACK?

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“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved”.  Psalm 55:22 ESV 

Burt’s trainer suggested he wear a backpack during his walks to help tire him out.  We were instructed to fill it with water bottles and other heavy objects so it would be more of a work out for Burt.  The idea was to weigh him down and expend his energy.  Trying to get the backpack on Burt without him eating it definitely expended my energy.

A popular phrase these days is “baggage”.  Whether we carry a suitcase or a backpack through life; it is up to us what we carry in our luggage.  Our hurts, dreams, heartaches, and everything else that has helped to shape us can be crammed in our backpack.  When we shove them into the dark interior of our bag we do not deal with the situation.  It is hidden in the dark and not allowed to have the light of God’s love shine upon it.

The more we carry in our backpack, the more weight we have wearing us down.  Like Burt, we walk around with a heavy burden slowing us down with no energy to spare on a new day.  We feel alone and weary; misunderstood and rejected.

God has not designed us to carry the weight alone.  I Peter 5:7 tells us to, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.  In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus states, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

Jesus does not want us weighed down by heavy burdens.  We are instructed in Hebrews 12:1 to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us so that we can run the race of life without the added burdens and anything that weighs us down.  When we go to Jesus and confess our sins; when we cast our cares upon him, our burdens become lighter.

It is our goal to tire Burt out and help him expend his endless supply of energy but that is not God’s plan for our lives.  He desires that we be free.  Free of sin, free of burdens, free to worship him with no hindrances weighing us down.  Lighten your backpack today by emptying all your cares and concerns at the feet of Jesus.  He cares for you!

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WOOD CHIPS

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“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work”.  I Corinthians 3:11-13 NIV

The dogs like to chew.  Whether it’s a tree limb or a piece of a wooden puzzle, there are always wood chips scattered around the living room.  They don’t know the difference in value between something bought or something that’s fallen from the tree for their entertainment.  They are non discriminate in their choices.  To them everything is edible.  A toy is being beheaded now as I write.

Paul uses the illustration of a building in 1 Corinthians 3.  Jesus is the foundation and each of us are the builders.  The materials we build with are listed as gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw.  The works we do daily contribute to the building.  Like the dogs, sometimes we can’t tell what our material is worth.  We are told that our works will be tested by fire.  Works made with gold, silver, and precious stones will survive.  Works made with wood, hay, or straw will be burned with nothing left but wood chips and ashes.

Why you are building has a lot to do with the cost of your materials.  Are you building to be seen by others?  Is your building being erected for your glory or for God’s glorification?  Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ”.  If we forget why we are building and for who, we will be stuck with wood chips scattered after the fire.

Matthew 7:21-23 reminds us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Our first priority is to know Jesus Christ personally as Lord and Savior.  Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”.

Are you thinking more about all the things Jesus has promised instead of seeking his presence and enjoying his companionship?  Are you concentrating on the building instead of the sure foundation?  Are your supplies provided by God or gathered up by the wayside?

We are God’s building and precious in his sight.  We were bought with a price; the blood of his son, Jesus Christ.  When we build with lasting supplies like love, joy, and peace; the building will survive the fire.  If we build with selfishness, discontent, and strife; nothing will be left but wood chips and ashes.  God will not be glorified and we will be left with a mess.

Inspect your building today and bring it up to code.  It will make the value go up and stand the test of time and fire.

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JEHOVAH JIREH

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“So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.  And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided”.  Genesis 22:14 NIV

As pet parents, we are our pet’s provider.  We are careful to provide them with everything they need and a lot of what they want.  From healthy food and snacks, toys and exercise; shelter and water, coats and doggie boots, we assure our pets are taken care of and want for nothing.  We make sure they have all their vaccinations and any monthly preventative medications necessary for their well being.

Jehovah Jireh is one of the many names of God.  It means The Lord Will Provide.  God will see to it.  Abraham uses it in Genesis Chapter 22 when God tells Abraham to take the child God had promised and provided and sacrifice him on a mountain God would show him.  Abraham set out the next morning in obedience with two of his servants and his son.  He took wood and when he reached the mountain God had showed him, he told the servants to stay with the donkey while he and his son Isaac worshipped.  He said they would come back to them.  Abraham in obedience planned to obey God but had faith to tell his servants that they would both return.

Climbing the mountain with all the supplies for the sacrifice but missing the actual sacrifice, Isaac finally asked where was the lamb for the burnt offering.  In verse 8, Abraham tells him that God himself will provide the lamb. The story continues with God stopping the sacrifice and Abraham looks over and a ram is caught in the bushes. The sacrifice had been provided.  Abraham calls the place where they stood The Lord Will Provide.  He had faith in his provider.

Do we have faith in our provider?  Are you believing for big things or are you totally relaxed knowing he will provide your basic needs on a daily basis like God did when he provided the Israelites with manna from heaven on a day to day basis?  Do the only provisions we count on come from a large warehouse type grocery supply company or do we trust in the creator of the universe for all we need?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own”.  Obey God one step at a time and trust in His provision.  He will take care of you.  He is your provider.  He has provided the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus for your salvation and he is faithful to provide all you need each and every day.

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THE POOP TEST

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”  Matthew 12:34-35 NIV

I hate it when the veterinarian hands you the little jar in which they expect you to gather up your dog’s poop and shove it into the tiny container and transport it to their office within hours so it’s still fresh.  Sometimes it looks more like grass than poop with some leaves thrown in for variety.  Fecal tests determine if your pet has intestinal parasites and are necessary to keep your pet healthy.  What comes out of the pup shows what is on the inside of the pup.

Just like our pets, we need our insides to be healthy.  We want to guard our hearts from heart worms and any parasites that would interfere with our relationship with God.  A parasite is an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.  In other words, is there anything on the inside that is sucking the life out of you?  If there is, it will show up on the outside.

Jesus states in Mark 7:20-22, “”What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come-sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly”.  In Matthew 7:16, we are told that we shall be known by the fruit we produce.  The fruits of the spirit are listed in Galatians 5.  Good fruit is listed as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  The bad fruit named is sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, and orgies.  What is coming out of you?  Delicious fruit or rotten tomatoes?

We are told in Ephesians 4:29-32, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”.

If you do the poop test and don’t like what you see, we are advised by Paul in Colossians 3 to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature and clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Draw near to God today and ask him to remove all the parasites that are sucking the life out of you and thank him daily for the new, healthy you.

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AMAZED

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“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”  John 6:9 NIV

Some people never feed their dogs human food and that’s great.  Our dogs wait patiently for the last bite and always get to lick the plate clean.  They know that if it is up to the baby, a lot more food will be thrown their way and licking her hands and face after a meal is a given.

The little boy in John 6 has five small loaves of bread and two small fish.  That’s not too much more than what our dogs can expect to be slipped under the table and yet in Jesus’ hands, it fed 5,000 men and who knows how many women and children?

A bag lunch multiplied to feed over five thousand people.  The story of Jesus healing ten lepers is recorded in Luke 17.  John 2 tells us Jesus turned water into wine as his first miracle.  Stories abound of amazing miracles in the gospels and testimonials of people we may know, but are we amazed?  Do we skim over the details accepting them as fact without realizing how amazing it really is?

The disciples reported to Jesus the amount of food they had found to feed the crowd.  Such a small amount yet it was multiplied to feed so many.  Are you comprehending the amazing facts of the story?  When you sit down to dinner with enough to feed your family and have a few leftovers and the pieces of meat that you slip to your dogs under the table could feed the town where you live.  Can you see it?  The lunch you pack for your child could feed everyone in the school cafeteria?  That’s amazing!

Think and ponder the greatness of God.  He’s bigger than you can imagine.  His robe fills the church you attend (Isaiah 6:1).  He’s able to do over and abundantly more than you can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  God is truly amazing!

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I LOVE LUCY

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For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  II Corinthians 5:1 ESV

Lucy found herself in the position of being rehomed.  To rehome means to find your dog a new home where it will be safe and loved.

Lucy’s family could no longer take care of her and she was staying with friends.  Burt met Lucy and they became buddies; loving to play, run, and jump.  Lucy could tire Burt out and so we adopted Lucy for Burt to play with and hoped he would be too tired to destroy the house and what was left of the furniture.

We are adopted into the family of God when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior.  Ephesians 5:1 tells us, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure”.  We now belong to him and he assures us in Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5 that he will never leave or forsake us.  We belong to God.  Psalm 100:3 states, “Know that the LORD, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture”.

With God, we are safe and loved.  He will never look for a new home for us.  Our place is reserved in heaven with him for eternity.

 

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ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS

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“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17 NIV

Duke waits under the table as we eat to ensure he doesn’t miss a crumb.  Our granddaughter actively throws things in his direction and truthfully, any and all directions.  Her dogs sit on each side of her high chair waiting to lick her face and hands and devour anything dropped.  Burt stands and barks at you as you eat, letting his requests be known.

Articles and signs of what not to feed your dog are as plentiful as The Food Pyramid and diet information for adults.  I personally don’t use onion or garlic anymore so I can share with my pups.  As pet owners, we are responsible for our pets diets (at least their indoor diets).  We are their accountability partners.

To be accountable is to be responsible.  Our pets don’t always make the right choices in food intake and other behaviors.  We team up with them to help them live their best lives.  We are a family that loves and cares for each other.

So it is with our Christian family.  We are united in Christ and love and care for each member.  We are to speak the truth in love to help each other stay on track.  It is not always easy to speak nor is it easy to hear correction.  Many churches encourage accountability partners.  This would be someone you can trust to always speak the truth in your best interest.  Someone who will keep your confidences and pray for you to succeed in your walk with God.

James 5:16 tells us to confess our faults one to another, and pray one for another.  Galatians 6:2 states, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”.  Our verse today tells us that as Christians, we can sharpen each other, making us better members of the body of Christ.  Sometimes, it is easier to see the speck in your brother’s eye than the plank in your own eye (Matthew 7:5).  With an accountability partner, you can both see clearly.

Of course, Jesus is our greatest accountability partner.  I John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.  If you are like our dogs though, find that one trusted friend who has your best interests at heart, to help you be a Christian who is as sharp as a tack.

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