Advent Shows God’s Perfect Place at the Perfect Time

Nothing shows us the Sovereignty of God like the birth of Christ. God being Sovereign means that all things, circumstances, people and governments are under God’s control. He sees all things and knows how they fit together to complete His plan. Luke records the events that led Mary and Joseph and their unborn child to be present in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth. The prophecy of where the Messiah was to be born is found in Micah 5:2. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,  who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old,  from ancient days.” The promised Messiah would also be from the line of David, as God had promised David’s kingdom would be eternal.(2 Chronicles 7:18) God had also promised Abraham, David’s ancestor, in Genesis 12:3b “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” All of these promises came together miraculously at the birth of Christ because of the love of our Sovereign God.

Luke 2:1-5 “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

God in His Sovereignty knew the timing was perfect for the arrival of His Son. Both Mary and Joseph were of the line of David and would have been required to register in the census decreed by the Roman emperor. All those over the age of 12 were made register and pay a poll tax to Caesar. Mary being 9 months pregnant was not excuse to not travel to Bethlehem for this census. It was 3 days journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and I can imagine it was an uncomfortable and tiring trip for both Mary and Joseph.

What does this teach us about God? Truly, God is sovereign as He orchestrated all the events to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the birth of His Son. He chose the people- Mary and Joseph both godly people of the family of David in the tribe of Judah. The chose the time, Rome just happened to want a census and demanded all comply. He chose the event- the birth of His Son. That covers the who, when, where and what of Christ’s birth. The why? God told Mary and Joseph through the angel He was sending His only Son to ‘save their people from their sins’ and that ‘all the world through Him would be saved.’ Jesus would be ‘God with us, Immanuel.’

Today as you meditate on the arrival of this young couple in Bethlehem, ponder anew the sovereignty of God. Have you seen God work things out in amazing ways in your own life? Have you seen things happen in perfect order you would never have orchestrated? Have you been in the right place at the right time and wondered how that happened? In life are no accidents, there are no coincidences in God’s kingdom, only the providence or divine care and direction of Almighty, Sovereign God. As we walk with Him, we learn that God can use all things that happen in our lives for our good and His glory.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 12: The Faithfulness of God

Timothy includes the possible words of a Christian hymn in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. The words are meaningful as they give hope and assurance to our hearts. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure hardship,  we will reign with him. If we deny him,  he will deny us.13 If we are unfaithful,  he remains faithful,  for he cannot deny who he is.

Timothy’s words give true hope as they are based upon the character of God. The truth of knowing if we die knowing Him, we will live with Him. If we suffer, which we will, He will reward us in heaven. If we deny Him, He will deny us when we stand before Him to make accounting of our actions, not a pleasant thought at all, but a truth to be realized. If we are unfaithful, sin, fall away, are seemingly lost, confused or lose hope, He is always faithful as it is an integral part of His being.

Because of our sinful nature, living in a world surrounded by sin and its temptations, we will sin. God know this so He gives us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and give us courage, strength and direction. He gives us the hope of eternal life and resurrection with Him. He gives us His Word to be a lamp to our pathway in life filled with encouragement, promises and guidelines for combatting sin and living a life honoring to Him. I cling to the truth that even when I falter and fail in my walk with Him, I cannot fail as God is the one who sustains my faith. We are assured over and over in the Bible that God is faithful and we can depend upon His faithfulness to sustain, uphold, keep us in His hand and in His love.

Here are a few verses to meditate on the faithfulness of God. Let them create thankfulness in your heart today! Psalm 36:5 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,  your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 86:15 “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good;  his steadfast love endures forever,  and his faithfulness to all generations.” Isaiah 25:1 “O Lord, you are my God;  I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things,  plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;    his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.” Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

As you depend upon the faithfulness of God for each breath you take today, will you thank Him for His unending faithfulness? Let these verses lead you toward greater thankfulness, knowing the truth of Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” HE IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL.

Linda

Joy, Knowing God is Sovereign

In Philippians 1:15-21 Paul expresses the facts of ministry as he sees them.  He sees some preaching the gospel to win souls.  He calls that good will and says their preaching is out of love, desiring that all would be saved and be eternally free in Christ.   He also sees those who preach the gospel out of love of self, for self-gratification, self-gain, and self-glory.  He calls that selfish ambition  and realizes that they can, by their words, stir up trouble for him even as he sits in prison.  However, Paul does not hold their actions against them as he rejoices that the name of Christ is proclaimed and trusts in God’s plan and sovereign control over all circumstances.   Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

Paul’s continues reasoning that though the prayers of fellow believers and the power of the Holy Spirit, he knows God will be victorious and his place with Jesus is philippians_1_18assured. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Paul knew no matter what, he belonged to Jesus!   He knew the support of fellow believers through their powerful prayers and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit were essential to his surviving in his Roman prison.  Either in death or in life,  he would be victorious in and through Christ. 

 How is it that Paul was so assured?   Paul relied upon the character of God and His Word.   He undoubtedly remembered Joseph’s statement of God’s principle in Genesis genesis-50 2050:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Or perhaps his own words given by the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:28 “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Or Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 29:11-12 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.”   Paul was a  student of scripture and knew for a fact the truths about God’s character revealed throughout the Bible.  He had learned to draw upon them for strength, clarity and assurance.   We too need to open His Word and dig deep to replenish our joy, see our hope clearly, and gain strength and assurance. Our Sovereign God is bigger than Covid 19 or any other circumstance we face right now or in the future.  Be assured like Paul that no matter what, you and I will be victorious in Christ!

My joy is increased:

  • I know God is Sovereign and will use all things (people, places, circumstances- yes even the Corona virus) to achieve His will.
  • I know God has my back and has good plans for me as I serve Him, therefore, I will trust in Him.
  • I know that prayer is essential for survival and brings encouragement and resolve to believers.

joy in sovereignty of GodLet your joy be in our Sovereign God today.     Trust in Him!

Linda

Praying, you are in great company!

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 1:15-16 that he considered it a privilege to pray for his ephesians 1 15fellow believers.   Do you feel that way too? For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”  He knew he could go directly to God and was assured that God would hear his prayers!   

As I contemplated God’s accessibility to me through prayer, I reflected some of the people in the Bible that prayed and why they sought an audience with God.  Have you talked with God about similar situations in faith?  If so you are in good company.  Isaac prayed for his wife to conceive a child, Genesis 25:21, Moses and the people prayed for God to remove the serpents because they had greatly sinned Numbers 21:7.  Hannah prayed for a child in 1 Samuel 1:11, Solomon prayed for wisdom in 1 Kings 3:9,  Ezra prayed for protection and safe journey in Ezra 8:21, David prayed when in danger and distress Psalm 55, for grace in Psalm 86, for peace in Psalm 122,  Jeremiah prayed for mercy and direction in Jeremiah 42:2-4, Daniel prayed for mercy in Daniel 9:3 and 17,  Jonah prayed for salvation and mercy in Jonah 2 and 4, Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done Matthew 26:39 and 42,   the disciples prayed for deliverance of Peter in Acts 12:5. and the letters are filled with prayers for salvation, thanksgiving, restoration, for the needs of others, godly behavior, healing and forgiveness.   We have a mighty cloud of witnesses in the Bible that attest to the fact that God will listen to our prayers and will answer.  In all the ones listed above, Jesus is the only one who prayed for God’s will.  He knew that God’s will is perfect and will provide the perfect answer to prayer.

prayer for-strength-faith-fear-power-powerlessness-trusting-amenBe encouraged and keep on praying.  Give you requests to God and He will answer. If you don’t exactly know how to pray?  Ask the Holy Spirit to do it for you.   Romans 8:27 “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”     God is faithful and will answer in His time and in His way.  This requires faith, trust and patience as we wait upon God for His perfect answer.

Let me encourage you with these final verses:  Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find prayer alonegrace to help us in our time of need.”   Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Pray continually and be assured that God hears your prayers.

Linda

** Need a fun exercise?  Look up the above prayers and see how God answered each of them in His way in His time.  God is good, all the time.  “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him.”  Nahum 1:7

Love, Hope and a Redemptive Plan = Jesus our Savior!

I love the message of truth given in Ephesians 1:4-10.  I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Here it is in the Message translation for ease in understanding,

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving ephesians 1 7by the hand of his beloved Son.   7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

God had a long range plan to redeem us.  It was not a spur of the moment decision.   In Genesis 1:26, God decided to create man,  a thinking living being in His image, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”    After giving Adam and Eve the directive to not eat of the tree of good and evil, Eve bowed to temptation from Satan and ate giving some to Adam too.  God had anticipated this as He created man with free will and planned for a way to restore men and women into relation ship with Him.  Genesis 3:15 gives the first prophecy of Jesus coming to counter Satan’s dominion over the desires of man. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hersHe’ll wound your head,  you’ll wound his heel.”   Jesus would be born into this world and give hope to mankind through His sacrifice.  

John 3 17Why would God do this?  His motivation was and is  LOVE.  He loves His creation and desires to have a relationship with us.  John 3:16-18 says, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”     

Does this give you HOPE?    Hebrews 3:6 speaks of this hope we now have in Christ. “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”   I also love Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

romans 5 2The Word is filled with references to God’s plan of redemption and the restoration of His relationship with mankind from Genesis to Revelation.  The story of God’s love for us, His desire to bring us back to Him is why Jesus came.   All these things give me Hope and I pray  they do the same for you as you meditate on Jesus, God’s love and His desire to be in relationship with you.

Linda

A different look at Ephesians beginning with Heaven-what a place!

summerI have been praying and pondering what God wants me to write about this summer. What has come to mind over and over is that He is telling me I’m not done with Ephesians.  The book of Ephesians was the foundation of my Lenten journey this year.  I worked my way through the entire book in the 6 week of Lent.  It was a rich time in Word of God,  and I was mightily blessed.  How He is leading me to write on these subjects again is to start with the lessons and truths revealed in Ephesians and search scripture for other passages that confirm the same or very similar truths.  I will not attempt to do all of the truths He revealed during our Lenten journey but as many as I can.  I am looking forward to a rich time in God’s Word these summer months.

Ephesians 1 3 ImBlessedEphesians 1:3 “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”    The truth is:   God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.  

What kind of spiritual blessings does scripture tell us we have in heaven and some that start right here on earth- here are a few I found. (Believe me the Word is filled with references to heaven and these are but a few of the blessings.)

David wrote of the physical blessings of the heavens that we have shown to us through creation itself.  Psalm 8:3-9  (a foretaste of the glories of heaven)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

We can see and know God’s handiwork even before we get to heaven.  The heavens also declare God’s righteousness, faithfulness and justice.

Psalm 36:5 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Psalm 50:6 “The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! 

Jesus said that repentance and persecution bring blessings in heaven.  Matthew 5:10-12 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

John 6 passages promise eternal life from, Jesus, the bread of heavenJohn 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

2 Corinthians 5:1-2 talks about our new heavenly home, body,  made by God, 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. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,”

In heaven,  all things will be united and we will have a place at his right hand, (a place of honor)  Ephesians 1:10 and 20  “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”

Peter describes our inheritance that is safe guarded in heaven, 1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Lastly, Revelation is filled with picture images of the new heaven God will create for our dwelling place for  all eternity.  Revelation 21:1-2 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

The greatest blessing of heaven,  now and in the future,  is that Christ died for you and me so we can experience these spiritual blessings.  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Spiritual-Blessings-in-Christ-I pray you have the blessing of knowing Christ and are looking forward to these eternal blessings that await us in heaven.  May you marvel at the beauty of heaven to come, the safety, completeness and glory we will see there.  Be encouraged today as you meditate on these passages.  This is our inheritance and a place all believers can look forward to in their future.  Praise God!

Linda

 

 

A Call to PRAY this 5th Sunday of Lent 2020 in a virus filled world

Sovereign-LordHere are some verses to uplift, encourage and challenge you this 5th Sunday of Lent as our world struggles with the pandemic of Covid-19:

God is Sovereign: Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,   and his kingdom rules over all.”   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”    John 10:29 “ My Father, who has given (my sheep- believers) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”    Each of these verses shows God’s Sovereign power.  He is Creator God and there is none greater.  Once we belong to Him, nothing and no one can take us away from Him.  God is the determiner of mankind and those things He allows to come into our lives.   Like the plagues of the Old Testament, pray, pray, pray for God’s mercy in these days of Covid-19.  Humble yourselves and turn back to Him and seek Him and His forgivenessWe are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:22-23   God promises sovereignrestoration and forgiveness if:    if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”   2 Chronicles 7:14 

Please pray.

Here are the truths we found in God’s Word from Ephesians 4:17-5:20 this last week.  They are rich and bring joy and challenge to the believer as we endeavor to walk with Him each day.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be a new creation in Jesus!  Ephesians 4:17-24

We are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God.   Ephesians 4:25-32

We can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.  Ephesians 5:1-2

I can choose light and life with HimEphesians 5:3-8

His light can be seen in me.  Ephesians 5:9-14

How I live my life for Him matters.  Ephesians 5:15-20

May you have a Sunday filled with His love and be able to spend time praying and mediating on His Sovereignty and His wonderful truths from Ephesians.

Linda

How Big is your God? He is ABLE!

Ephesians Chapter 3 ends with a powerful benediction to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers.  He eloquently tells them and us about God, who He is,  and His power as seen in Christ and the church. God’s is: glorious,  omnipotent in power, provides us with His indwelling Holy Spirit,  has power that endures for  eternity and has a plan that lives from generation to generation.

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

What comfort do you receive from reading these words?   I am encouraged even in these difficult times that our God is bigger than any virus, is Sovereign over heaven and earth now and in the future. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and Ephesians 3-20 He Is Abletoday and forever.”  God is able to do even greater things than which we could even think to ask Him to do in our lives for Him.  2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. “  God does not give us His Holy Spirit to indwell us without reason and purpose. John 3:16 shows us God’s purpose  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”    Romans 5:3-5 shows the Holy Spirit at work in our lives for a purpose.   “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”   God loves us and desires that our character be refined and matured.

Use Paul’s words today as you pray.  Stand on the hope you have in Jesus, the power of His Spirit to lead and guide you, and God’s unfailing love for you.  God has a purpose for you, for your life and He desires that you know Him and live and grow in His love.  His love is transforming for now and into the future.  Because Christ died on the cross and Ephesians-3-21rose from the dead, we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good.

Reach out to others today, however you can, and let God’s transforming love flow through you to them in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Linda

 

 

God is FAITHFUL!!

My declaration of God’s faithfulness comes after a harrowing move with many ups and downs.  As I look back at the boxes, the selling and gifting of many of my worldly possessions the gentlemen and ladies who came to move me would say-she got rid of things, really?  It was a time of reflection and sadness over ‘things’ that we feel mean so much to us.  However, the reality is- we can not take them with us into the next life and lightening  the load of possessions- really helps.  I feel less burdened- freed from the worry or stress those things caused.  In the midst of all this turmoil, God stood beside me providing exactly what I needed when I needed it in miraculous ways.  Today my internet was connected and I could get back to my teaching and writing- I wanted to praise God and extol Him for His goodness and mercy.  On Mount Sinai Moses wanted to see God.  “And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD , in your presence.  I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.'”   I feel blessed and love by my merciful God.  I have seen His goodness and felt His compassion and mercy.  Thank you Jesus.

i believeFeeling blessed by God,

Linda