Mr. Shadow

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

January 2, 2022

It is pretty well known that pets have assisted and comforted man for a long time. What happens when they need our help? Some are cast off, abandoned, or brought to a shelter. Some shelters only hold on to the animal for so many days before euthanizing them. In today’s throw away culture I expect euthanizing unwanted pets, animals, and humans to become more prevalent. Someone said “Rescue Dog does not mean damaged… It means they have been let down by humans” That may not be 100 percent accurate, however it does reflect the throw away culture.

How does the throw away culture bear a true witness to real love? If you deny our one Creator God; love would just be a word which some like to use.

Love is a verb, an action word. Love is not that tingling feeling based in lust.

Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness. (1)

When Mr. Shadow entered our home over fifteen years ago this cat could jump six foot high fences at a single bound. He was a playful, loyal, loving gentle soul. If he didn’t trust a person or two at the door he would sit or lay down between me and the person at the door. When needed he growled like a Sheppard, which none dare challenge.

Some months ago things started to change for Mr. Shadow. The first of the two signs I remember is his lack of interest in his favorite treat and he began to walk back and forth. (2)  He got to the point where he had trouble walking or doing other common tasks. He received all the assistance he needed to eat and accomplish other common tasks right to the end. At sixteen and a half years he passed away in my arms on December 6, 2021. I am glad he was not alone.

His furry friend (Mittens) of about fifteen years misses him as well. I tell her we’ll just have to wait until we get to Heaven to see him again.

“Scripture does not conclusively tell us whether our pets will make it to Heaven. However, the Bible does provide us with some significant clues regarding whether or not animals will inhabit the new heaven and the new earth.

First, animals populated the Garden of Eden. Thus, there is a precedent for believing that animals will populate Eden Restored as well. Animals are among God’s most creative creations. Thus, it would seem incredible that he would banish such wonders in Heaven.

Furthermore, while we cannot say for certain that the pets we enjoy today will be “resurrected” in eternity; I am not willing to preclude the possibility. Some of the keenest thinkers from C. S. Lewis to Peter Kreeft are not only convinced that animals in general but those pets in particular will be restored in the resurrection. If God resurrected our pets, it would be in total keeping with his overwhelming grace and goodness.

Finally, the Scriptures from first to last suggest that animals have souls. Both Moses in Genesis and John in Revelation communicate that the Creator endowed animals with souls. In the original languages of Genesis 1:20 and Revelation 8:9, nephesh and psyche respectively refer to the essence of life or soul. Not until Descartes and Hobbes and the Enlightenment did people think otherwise about animals. However, because the soul of an animal is qualitatively different from the soul of a human there is reasonable doubt that it can survive the death of its body. One thing is certain: Scripture provides us with sufficient precedence for believing that animals will inhabit the new heaven and new earth. In the words of Isaiah: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).” (3)

“God has a special reason and place for each of His created beings. Animals, too, have a purpose in God’s creation. Man, as the highest order of creation, has been given dominion over the animal kingdom (Genesis 1:26-28).

We believe that animals were intended for man’s enjoyment and use. The Bible itself does not indicate that there is life after death for animals. It may be that God’s purpose for animals is fulfilled on this earth. However, if animals would make us happier in heaven, surely there will be a place for them there.” (4)

Mr. Shadow exhibited and received unconditional love. Unconditional love is what our Creator God has for each of us. Individuals are free to accept God’s unconditional love or reject it.  

Mr. Shadow was a joy and brought us a lot of happiness.

Happiness is rooted in circumstance. Happiness doesn’t bring joy, and joy isn’t the byproduct of happiness. Joy is an attitude of the heart.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and when we find joy it will be with comfort and wrapped in peace. It’s an attitude of the heart and spirit, often synonymous with but not limited to following Christ Jesus and pursuing a Christian life.

Our Creator God who can make the stones cry out and made a donkey speak certainly can use Mr. Shadow or others like him to evangelize God’s love to the world,

The world needs more Mr. Shadows to overcome the God deniers.

References

(1) https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/helped-by-your-pet/

(2)https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/neurological/c_ct_cognitive_dysfunction_syndrome

(3) https://www.equip.org/bible_answers/will-there-be-animals-in-heaven/

(4) https://billygraham.org/answer/will-there-be-animals-in-heaven/

Related:

Some related scriptures of animals in heaven:  Genesis 1:24, Genesis 1:25, Psalms 24:1, Psalms 145:21, Proverbs 12:10, Ecclesiastes 3:1, Ecclesiastes 3:21, Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 65:25, Matthew 10:29, Luke 3:6, Acts 3:19-21, Romans 8:19-22, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Revelation 5:13, Revelation 19:11, Revelation 19:14

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2022/01/06/mr-shadow/


What’s the purpose of the church?

Exclusive: Joseph Farah unpacks the lessons for today from the 1st century

By Joseph Farah April 13, 2021

Have you ever considered the purpose of church?

I’ve been thinking about this subject, because we have a model. Our model is the first century church, which witnessed the biggest explosion not just in numbers of believers, but in power.

One thing we learn from that experience is that the church grows in numbers and effectiveness – not to mention to the glory of God – in times of persecution. Like these.

But let’s start at the beginning. What did Jesus teach His church to do?

I think it’s worth noting that His first instruction to His disciples, who numbered no more than a few hundred or thousand, was not to do anything except keep it together, be a comfort to each other and teach others.

They were ready to go restore the Kingdom to Israel. In Acts 1, He told them to forget that for a while. That would have to wait for Him to come back.

What was the first instruction from Jesus?

He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father in the form of the Holy Spirit.

It wouldn’t take long. Jesus evidently knew that – because once the power fell upon them, this was their next and only assignment: “And ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

They would have to figure the rest out for themselves, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and all Jesus taught them.

It wasn’t the only time Jesus had given them this instruction. He also did so in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

It would seem to me we already learned two important lessons about the role of the church:

  • Make sure you are working under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
  • Then, as Frank Sinatra would say, start spreading the news – the Good News, that is.

There are all kinds of debates going on in the American church today about “church planting,” “church growth strategies” and “how we must seek a new approach today with Christianity in decline.”

But I wonder if we’re going about this in an entirely wrong way.

For starters, if the goal is to reach the uttermost parts of the earth – not to mention our own neighborhoods – are we really waiting on the Holy Spirit? And are we really focused on evangelism?

I’ve heard that American-style “evangelism” largely consists of attracting people away from other churches. Here the American church is like one big revolving door. Some churches grow, others do not. Some wither away, others grow stronger and bigger. Yet neither of those ends has much bearing on what Jesus commanded us to do.

So, what did the first century church do?

Exactly what Jesus said to do.

They waited, got empowered and they turned the world upside down. Was that just for then?

I wonder. What I do know is that their church didn’t look like ours.

They met together. They prayed together. They ate together. They worshiped together. They comforted each other. They discipled. They edified. They fellowshipped. They glorified God. And they recited or read the Scriptures.

In the American church, we’re watching the clock. People can’t wait to get out of there.

I recently read that one large mega-church built a multi-lane overpass to ensure that they could get everyone out of the 35,000-attendee parking lot within 30 minutes of the close of service.

In how many churches have you experienced evangelism training or expeditions?

Isn’t that the urgent mission of the church? Why don’t we do it? Do you know I was 21 years old before anyone ever evangelized me – in America? Am I that unusual? What are we waiting for? Who are we going to recruit to do it, if not us?

That’s why the light is going out in America – because the Christian culture, which was healthy and vibrant in America when it was founded, has been ceded over to the world.

Meanwhile, what about elsewhere? Where is the church exploding? Where it is persecuted. You know that. That’s where the Holy Spirit is. That’s where miracles are taking place today – in China, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

There have been some notable revivals in the U.S. over the years – but not one for some time.

Another thing we learn from the first century church is that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Does that still work?

I know it does for me. That doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Unless you believe everyone is going to be saved, nothing is going to work for everyone.

But I find it deeply disturbing that some pastors believe we should stop emphasizing the Word. Some say we should drop the Old Testament pretty much altogether. They say we should tell stories and attribute them to people rather than the Word of God.

Do we no longer believe in the Word of God? Are we ashamed of it? Are we ashamed of doing exactly what Jesus told us to do?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have one.

Do you think there is a more important book than the Bible anywhere on earth?

Do you think getting people to crack it open would generally bring them closer to the Lord – maybe even get them saved?

Do you think God has changed His mind about the way He spoke the world into existence and revealed His plan to His children?

Is there really anything new under the sun?

Or, is it time for the church to start following instructions? Has the salt lost its savor? Or are we ready to be the salt and the light in the world again?

By the way, that’s one of the things the church is supposed to be.

Matthew 5:13-16: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

That’s right. The church is supposed to glorify our Father in heaven.

We’re supposed to be Jesus’ heavenly bride. We’re His children if we are doing His will – yes, even in this age of grace. We all fall short of the mark, but the mark goes beyond salvation, does it not? Does He not take pleasure in us when we are obedient to His call, holy and surrender all to Him?

I don’t consider myself an expert on the church. But I do know how I came to know and love Jesus – and love Him more every day.

I would like everyone to understand that – not wishing that anyone would perish.

And that’s why I took several years to research and write “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament.” I wanted people to see what I see when I look at the Bible – the most miraculous book in the whole world, one that has stayed the test of time, one that is fully integrated, singular in purpose, abounding in wisdom, cohesive and without contradictions, one supernatural message of repentance, revival, redemption and restoration from Genesis to Revelation.

It’s all about the Word. It will always be about the Word – whether its written on our hearts, etched in our minds or seared in our souls.

Jesus told us all to be evangelists. And that’s what I am doing right now.

I want to share “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” with you because I think it might open up the Scriptures to you, with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, bringing you not only the keys of everlasting life, but a place of honor in His Kingdom.

Amen? Amen.

Note: “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” by Joseph Farah is available in both hardcover and e-book versions.

He Gives Power to the Weak

 by ZAMA-ZOE GRACE

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:28-30

Mounting up with wings as eagles

Greetings! Friends, How are you this day? Are you feeling tired and weary? I know the answer for many is a “No” because they have just witnessed God breaking through for them as they were passing through the storms of life. However, some feel tired and weary because the journey has been challenging for them. They don’t think they have any power in them to continue to fight and push through till the end. 

Well, I am here this day to encourage you and tell you once again that you are not alone in this battle; God is with you and for you. As I was meditating last night, I felt weary and exhausted, and I kept asking God the same question, when will the end of these trials comes to an end. For a moment, I felt that I don’t have the power to go on and finish this race. As I was entertaining this thought, the Holy Spirit started ministering back to me and reminded me of Isaiah, chapter 40, from verses 28 to 31. 

This chapter begins with proclaiming comfort for the people as quoted in the scripture below: 

Our God says to you:

    “Comfort, comfort my people with gentle, compassionate words.

 Speak tenderly from the heart to revive those in Jerusalem, and proclaim that their warfare is over.

Yes, the warfare has ended, even though it seems hard, but God is proclaiming this day that the fight has ended. In this chapter, God reveals Himself as our Shephard, who has gone ahead of us and has made every crooked path straight, every mountain and hill low, and every valley leveled. He has cleared the way ahead of us, and not only that, He has promised to give power to the weak and increase strength to the weary. 

However, there is a part we need to play for us to continue to finish this race. We have to wait patiently in the Lord, in His presence through prayer, praise and worship, tithing and giving offerings, serving in the house of God, and so on. There is a promise that God gives to those who are weary and, tired yet, continue to wait silently and patiently in His presence.

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired. Isaiah 40: 31 AMP

According to the above mentioned scripture, God will renew our strength and power as long as we continue to wait in His presence. We will receive new strength like never before, and we will mount up with wing as eagles and soar very high, we will run and not become weary, we will walk and not be faint. 

I got very excited and felt energized after meditating on this verse, I felt revival entering my soul, and I was overflowing with joy to continue and finish this race. May I encourage you this day to meditate on this chapter and allow God to fill you up afresh with His strength and power so you can mount up with wings like an eagle and start soaring high once again and run your race like never Before!

There is the power that comes with meditating on the word of God as we learn in Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. AMP

May I also end this post with this quote from Nehemiah Chapter 8 verse 10.

Then Ezra said to them, “Go [your way], eat the rich festival food, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.

NEHEMIAH 8:10 AMP

I hope you found encouragement and inspiration to continue to wait in the presence of God. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read—many blessings to you. God loves you, and He is with you and for you.

Comfort in Times of Trouble

J. Stephen Lang

What does God promise his people? Relief from all troubles in the next world, relief from some troubles in this life. Faithful people throughout the centuries witness to dramatic deliverances from sickness, from financial woes, from all manner of troubles. Flesh-and-blood human beings have testified to miracles. They happen.

But not always. Sometimes we aren’t relieved by God. Sometimes we merely endure. This isn’t such a bad thing. We are never nearer to God than when we are troubled. In times of comfort and ease we forget him. In the worst of times, we suddenly remember, “Ah, what if I asked God for help?” Sometimes the answer is the help we pray for. Sometimes the answer is “Lean on me, and you will survive and thrive.”

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalm 73:25-26

Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles. Psalm 119:50

The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Psalm 46:1-2

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. Psalm 71:20

The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. Psalm 126:5

He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:2

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

“God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. “Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.” Matthew 5:4, 10-12

“Not even a sparrow, worth less than a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 2 Corinthians 4:8, 16-17

The Book of God’s Promises, © J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

https://www1.cbn.com/teaching/comfort-times-trouble

AUDIO Grief Is Inevitable. It Doesn’t Have to Be Inevitably Lonely

Season two of Living and Effective explores the isolating, inescapable nature of grief.

JOHN B. GRAEBER

Listen here

Job’s grief over his family, health, and livelihood feels relatable to so many of us. Psychologist Diane Langberg says that while the death of a loved one is the most poignant loss we can experience, grief is ever-present: “Death meets us around many corners in life.”

In this article, John Graeber offers a look at Job’s inner-life, one that is strikingly similar to our own. For more on grief, loss, and our response to it, check out season two of Living and Effective, available in full now. – CT Creative Studio

“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, CSB)

You cast me into my grave, but for 140 years, Lord, you have refused to draw the last breath from my lungs. Instead, you have left me a broken shell, a creature wandering landscapes stripped as bare as my heart; gullies awash in sudden storms threaten to drown me. I would welcome the reprieve.

I waited for you to reassemble the pieces of my shattered life, but you would not. I’ve now realized that these shards have become my life, and I exist only along their broken edges, in the empty spaces that cannot be restored. After all, that which you have torn down, none can rebuild.

You took everything I loved, and tore out the foundations from underneath me. You left me adrift, cast upon a merciless sea, where my anguish lay in wait for quiet moments, to curl forth and drag me into the depths. Can you, Lord, holy and complete, understand what it is not to be whole?

In my despair you conjured a tempest like the priest of a lesser god, and from it you questioned my grief. You put this love inside me. Am I not made in your image? Did you not consider what would happen when you breathed your divine spirit into earthly clay? Can you understand the chaos of holding such torment in so weak a vessel? How could one so powerful know the brokenness of a heart burdened with sorrow it was never meant to bear?

For years my soul has lain in ruins around me. Children again you have given to me. But you did not restore those whom you took, and their loss has darkened all of my days. Their absence ever near, ready to overwhelm. Did you know when you allowed this evil that I would be forever altered?

Even in moments of rest, I know the storm will return. The winds will howl and the sea will churn, the hail will pour forth from the sky and beat me into the dust. The lightning will cleave me in two and yet I will live.

Why haven’t you taken my life also? Do you consider it a mercy? I’m still here not because I am strong, but simply because my body does not die.

When my grief was fresh, and the fires of my torment burned fierce and hot, I was told to curse you and die, but I had received good at your hand. Should I not accept the evil that also comes? For you are the Lord my God.

You laid the foundations of the earth.

You store up snow and hail in the great storehouses of heaven.

You give the horse his might and clothe his neck with a mane.

You bind the chains of the Pleiades and loose the cords of Orion.

You could have spared me by your hand, but you did not.

You are the source of my affliction, and your terrors are arrayed against me, but there is no judge to arbitrate between us.

Do you understand that I would have left you? That your name should never have again passed over my lips for as long as I drew breath? But with your hand, you would not let me turn my face from you.

In my many years you have revealed yourself to me, and I am no longer deceived. I understand the true nature of the Lord, and I have seen the depths of the Almighty.

And “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger” (Job 19:25-27, CSB).

Living and Effective is produced by CT Creative Studio in partnership with the Christian Standard Bible .

John B. Graeber is a writer living in Chattanooga, TN, with work at Curator Magazine, The Blue Mountain Review, Ekstasis Magazine, Glide Magazine, and Fathom Magazine, and featured poetry on Chattanooga’s local NPR affiliate. He is also co-founder of Tributaries, a literary newsletter that explores the inspiration behind great writing. Follow him on Twitter

https://www.christianitytoday.com/partners/christian-standard-bible/living-and-effective/around-every-corner.html

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