Questions for Today, What will be Your Answer?

One thing I’ve noticed about favorite verses. Some are ones you cling to as a life line for a lifetime, others are tailored to specific seasons of our lives. All are good and remind us that God’s Word will always sustain and encourage us in our walk with Him.

Today’s verse comes from my friend Patty. She chose Proverbs 4:20-22. and I added verse 23. I chose the New Living Translation.

My child, pay attention to what I say.
    Listen carefully to my words.
21 Don’t lose sight of them.
    Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
22 for they bring life to those who find them,
    and healing to their whole body.
23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life
.

These verses call for us to look into God’s Word diligently and listen to His directions for living. We are to meditate upon them and let them sink deep into our hearts. The promise is that in doing so, we will find life and healing for our whole body- heart, mind, and soul. We are admonished to guard, hold fast, protect, our hearts for where our hearts lead us determines our life’s direction. Jesus taught this same principle in Matthew 6:20-21  “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The questions for us today are: Am I listening to God when I pray, worship and read His Word? Acts 16:14 gives the story and attitude of Lydia. Is this you? “One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. She was open to God and was ready to listen and respond. Am I listening with a heart that is ready to respond to what God has for me?

Am I letting His Word penetrate my life and guide my actions and words? Psalm 119:9 and 11 “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” God’s Word needs to be internalized to help us live and think biblically.

Am I praying and studying God’s Word with the expectation of healing and guidance? Psalm 143:1 “Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. and James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Am I praying like Paul for the things Christ has for me, Colossians 1:9 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,”

Am I taking steps daily to guard my heart? Philippians 4:6-7 tells us how “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Pray with a thankful heart and submit to Him. He will guard your heart. I love the promise in 2 Timothy 1:14 “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

This is our blessed assurance: we do not have to do all of these things in our own power and strength. 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Check your power source. Recharge with prayer and the Word. Then ‘just do it!’ for the Lord!! He is always with you and will guide your steps.

Linda

A Favorite from Isaiah, Be encouraged!

This is a new series for 2022 to be continued throughout the year! Since my word for the year is FAITH, God has given me this inspiration and avenue to build my faith. I will be featuring favorite verses of wonderful friends of faith that have been share with me. I pray they will encourage and strengthen your walk with Jesus throughout this year.

Last summer I met with a group of ladies that studied Promises for Dynamic Living with me. In one of the lessons we were asked to share a favorite verse. I wrote them down and will start with my friend Joyce’s favorite. She chose Isaiah 43:1-3a.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I love this passage as it shows God’s love for His chosen people Israel and that extends to us. Peter assured us of this in 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” As believers we are chosen to belong to Him just as the children of Israel were his precious people so are we- chosen and special in His sight.

What does God proclaim for His chosen ones through His prophet Isaiah? We do not need to live in fear as He created us, redeemed us, calls us by name and promises to be with us. The Israelites had experienced being overwhelmed by their enemies and were rescued by God as they passed through the parted Red Sea escaping the pursuing Egyptian army. (Exodus 14) They had the story of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego who lived through the burning furnace and were not consumed. (Daniel 3) Because we belong to Jesus, we too can depend upon His guidance, protection and know we are His in all circumstances. Lastly, we can know and depend upon all these things because God is who He says He is and now and forever. He is our Savior! Praise God!

I pray these favorite words Joyce choose from Isaiah will encourage and comfort you today. They have power to uplift, assure and redeem in the name of Jesus. Perhaps they will become one of your favorite verse too!

Linda

The Gift of Faith leads to a Journey with God

As I continue to look at my word for the year, faith, I’m seeking to dig deeper into the aspects of what faith really is. Hebrews 11:6 admonishes us, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” This verse appears in a chapter where the author is speaking of the great heroes of the faith, those who demonstrated true, lasting faith in God. The Message translation includes verse 5 with 6. “By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” Let’s combine this verse with Hebrews 11:1  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” and 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

These verses show us that we need to believe that God is real and alive even though we cannot physically see Him. Our faith in His existence is pleasing to God. It means we realize as truth that we can seek know God and that He will reward our faith in Him. This concept of faith is huge. It establishes a foundation for our beliefs, trust, hope and assurances in God. It gives us reason to pursue a relationship with God through Jesus so that we can be the beneficiaries of a walk in life that pleases God. It means we do not need to physically see God to know He is real and to live a life filled with faith. We can know that our faith, belief in Him is going to be pleasing to God.

One other aspect of this faith that we need to consider is Ephesians 2:8-9 “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” This to me is one of God’s mysteries. He gives us faith, in Him, freely as a gift. We do not have to earn it or do anything but believe! How amazing this that!! God is gracious and loves us so much He gifts us with faith to believe. Paul expressed this thanks this way in 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” This gift is: grace, His unmerited favor, Jesus, who died to redeem us from our sin-filled state and faith and the ability to believe and put our trust in our unseen God. It is not just one gift but many made possible by Jesus.

Where do you put your faith today? Is it in the unseen, all-knowing Creator God or is it in the things of this world that you can see? If you do not believe, you can in sincerity ask God for the faith to believe and He will give it to you! Faith is a gift, a precious gift, from God. Do you spend time seeking to know God more fully? Do you look into His Word daily for guidance? Do you spend time talking and communing with God in prayer? All of these are an outgrowth of believing in Him. Will you seek Him today in faith? Thereby, pleasing God with your heart-filled actions and attitude.

Linda

Faith, Amazing Truths within Our Grasp

As January is progressing, I’ve been seeking to come to terms with, understand and accept the new word God has given me for 2023. When I was searching related scriptures, there were many that spoke to me and shed light on where God might be going with this. Colossians 2:6-7 “ Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” The reason Paul started these verses with therefore is that he was coming to a conclusion. He had been talking about the love and devotion he had heard about in the Colossian church. He had heard how the believers there were showing love and devotion to one another and Christ. These words show where he wants them to be or to go because of their faith and heart for God. Paul desires that they walk with Jesus daily. He wants them rooted and grounded in faith in Christ that will hold them firm in times of trials and tribulations that come in life. He wants them to remember what they had been taught about Christ, God and the Holy Spirit, and what God desires for us in our lives. Paul wants them to remember the truths of faith- salvation, eternal life, hope of His return, a home in heaven with Him, constant support 24/7 as He will never leave us nor forsake us! He wants them to be continually thankful for the abundance they have in Christ and empowerment through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

What amazing gifts God has given to us through faith. May your day be filled with His goodness, hope and reassurances that come through faith in Jesus. He desires the best for us and promises to never leave us- He is always there! I love and cling to Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Linda

What’s in a Word?

In my first blog of the year, Happy New Word, I challenged you to pray about a guiding word for this New Year of 2022. Last year my word was joy and I saw it manifested throughout the year. God has given me the word faith for 2022. I have been praying about which scripture to claim along with my word and God has led me to Psalm 37:3 and Hebrews 11:1.

Psalm 37:3 has been a favorite verse of mine for many years. “Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”
Befriend is defined by ESV scholars as feeding upon faithfulness that leads to safety or safe pastures. I like to think of it as embracing faithfulness in my life. In order to embrace faithfulness fully, I need to walk in trust and seek to do good. This gives direction and hope to my faith and assurance of His protective hand upon me. What He has given me by faith is sealed by His Holy Spirit and cannot be lost. Ephesians 1:13 “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” My walk of trust and service will help me from misplacing my priorities. It is so easy to lose focus and to misplace my focus upon worldly things that surround me.

Hebrews 11:1 is also a favorite as it defines faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When people question my faith, I can rely upon the hope and assurance I have in Christ that He is real, alive and with me always. I have that conviction as His Holy Spirit speaks to my spirit that I am His. Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” I can be assured that I am His and can be called His child.

In addition to choosing a scripture to go with my Word, I graphically used a program called Word Art to give me a visual of my word. It is an easy program to use and generates a fun art focus to hang near your desk or someplace where you can be reminded of your word. You need to ponder about your word and brainstorm other words it brings to mind. Select those 10 words related words that will expand and define different aspects of your word. My word of faith generated the following list for me: hope, goodness, strength, rooted as in rooted and grounded in faith, courage, trust, conviction, pleasing as in pleasing to God, assurance, and abundance. I made two visuals. One is in the shape of a heart which is red and the other a cloud in blue. The program can be found at http://www.wordart.com It is a free site. Here are my visuals:

I do not know how God will use this word in my life this year but I know He will. May this blog be an encouragement to you to pray about a Word for 2022 and to choose a scripture to claim and cling to during the year. God wants to lead and teach us…we just need to be open to His leading and His teaching.

Linda

Happy New Word???

Have you ever thought of having a Word for the year?  I started doing this in 2019.  I was asked to choose a word for the year and then a Bible verse or verses to support me in that focus.  I prayed and asked God to give me a word to focus upon for 2019. He gave me the word Trust.  Right then I was going through some things that required that I Trust in Him more than ever and not the world, things or people around me.  The verses I chose were Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord;  trust in him and he will do this” and Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,

In 2020, God gave me the word Hope. Oh my, how I needed that word from Him. He knew the pandemic was coming and that it would radically change my life. He knew I would need hope in Him to sustain me during the months of lonely isolation and the fear of the unknown. The verse I chose for hope was Psalm 71:14 “As for me, I will always have hope;  I will praise you more and more.

In 2021 I found myself bogged down by the pandemic, life’s complexities with schooling my grandkids, working on Zoom and continued isolation. I felt I lacked something and the word God gave me was joy. My verses were Habakkuk 3:18 “yet I will rejoice in the Lord,  I will be joyful in God my Savior.” and Nehemiah 8:10 “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” True to His Word, God allowed me to view the events of 2021 through the lens of His joy. I am grateful for His perspective in my life.

For 2022, I have been asking God what new Word He desires to use in my life. He had impressed upon me as I’ve been in prayer that He wants me to claim and focus on Faith. The verses are still to be determined as I listen to God in the days ahead. Life with God as my guide is a great adventure that always has purpose and direction!

gods-word-personal2

If you think this might help your focus for the year, pray and ask God to reveal to you a focus word for 2022.  Here are some suggestions and possible verses to support your word:

Joy- Psalm 16:11, Psalm 63:7, Habakkuk 3:18 or James 1:2

Hope–  Psalm 62:5, Psalm 147:11, Jeremiah 29:11, Lamentations 3:21-22, Romans 5:4-5 or 1 Timothy 4:10

Trust- Psalm 28:7, Psalm 31:14, Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 3:5-6 or  Jeremiah 17:7

Grace– John 1:16-17, Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 12:9, or Ephesians 1:7

Peace- Isaiah 26:3, Matthew 5:9, John 14:27 or Philippians 4:7.

god-ideas_guide-delight

God,  in His great providence, gives us so many resources to help us walk with Him in faith.  All His words, we are reminded in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 are useful to us. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  I pray that choosing a word will give you focus and support in the year ahead.  As we desire to live for Him each day, God reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11 He has a plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Pray, listen, look to His Word for your focus and direction in 2022.

May you have a blessed year filled with His Words!

Linda

Experiencing God’s Joy

As January draws to a close I look back and see the planning and goals I’ve set for 2021, the Word I’ve chosen as my focus, Joy, and the opposition we face in our troubled times. Living by faith takes courage and focus on Jesus, and it is what we are called do each day during 2021. I have written how we can have soulful joy, eternal joy and complete joy in Christ. Scripture speaks of another joy, which I’ve called God’s Joy. God has put things here on earth for our pleasure that speak of His joy. At creation God looked at what He had made and called it good, Genesis 1:10,12, 18, 21,25, and upon finishing the creation of man He said it was very good in verse 31. God created His creation for our good and His glory. In Acts14:17, Paul explains, “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” All creations speaks of God’s glory, majesty and provision for us. Here are a few verses that speak of God’s majesty and the joy of His creation:

1 Chronicles 16: 26-27 “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

Consider Psalm 8 and David’s insights into Creator God, His majesty, power and the joy of His creation.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
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?
5 5 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.
O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

As we look at creation we can be filled with God’s joy. He created all the heavens and the earth to reflect His glory. Today as you meditate on Psalm 8, lift your voice to God and give Him praise. He will turn you praises to joy within your heart and soul.

Linda

The Effects of Eternal Joy on our Lives

Another aspect of Joy that scripture highlights is the eternal joy which we have through Christ for our future with Him. It is not a temporal joy only experienced in a day but one that transcends each day and year of our lives beginning when we accepted Christ and continuing on into eternity. The eternal joy we will totally experience in heaven will emanate from God and being in His presence. While here on earth, we can experience part of that eternal joy as we have His Holy Spirit indwelling us and drawing us unto Him. In heaven it will be magnified 100%. Here are a few glimpses I found in scripture to describe this joy:

Isaiah 51:11 describes what heavenly joy will be like when we are with him: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”.

Psalm 84:1-3 gives David’s anticipation of being in God’s presence and the joy he will find there: How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy

    to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.

Revelation 21:3-4 gives us a glimpse of the joys we will experience in heaven: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

How can the anticipation or realization of the eternal joy awaiting us in heaven help us? Doesn’t the hope of a future vacation motivate you to save, get prepared with supplies, read some books or research where you are going, and talk about it with expectation with your friends? The same is true of our heavenly home where we will live in God’s presence and experience His eternal joy. As we look to that time in our life, we need to be prepared with salvation in our hearts, by studying about God and His character, fellowshipping with other believers and endeavoring to walk with Him daily. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-20 our focus needs to be on Him and doing His work in preparation for our heavenly home. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also“. As we live each day, we can look to the eternal joy we will experience in heaven with hope bringing joy into our everyday life.

Thank you Jesus, for the hope and joy we have in You!

Linda

Soulful Joy

What is so special about the Joy we find in the Lord? First of all we know that joy is brought to us through the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 gives a list of the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit, those things that come to us as a believer when we accept Jesus as Savior and His Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. As we grow as a believer, His Spirit manifests Himself within us in these ways. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” How do others or even you yourself know you are a believer? These fruits should be evident in your life along with growth in godly character which I like to call growing more and more like Jesus. Theologically it is a process known as sanctification. This is the Holy Spirit’s work within us, growing us in holiness to be like Jesus. A good question to ask yourself is, what ‘fruits’ am I seeing in my life? Is my character changing as I seek to walk closer to the Savior? Am I more kind, loving, understanding, or do I hunger after God’s Word, seek other believers in fellowship, spend time in prayer, enjoy Christian music, or seek to be a peacemaker? All of these would be signs of growth in the sanctification process and the work of the Holy Spirit within you.

But back to Joy, scripture describes several kinds of joy that I will delve into in coming blogs. The first kind I want to talk about I call soulful joy. Joy that emanates from within your soul because you are loved and cared for by God. Here are some passages that describe this kind of joy:

Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,

and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.

Psalm 63:5-8 “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Isaiah 49:13 “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
    break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted.

Jude 1:24-25 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

May you recognize soulful joy in your life and bask in the light of His love for you. May thoughts of God’s love, protection and comfort bring joy to your soul and peace from within from His Holy Spirit today.

Linda

Got a Word, Now look for the Why!

When choosing a Word to guide or focus your year, you need to remember that the word is just a tool of remembrance. The real power is in the Word of God upon which your word is based. For example, I have chosen Joy as my focus word for the year. I will be looking for the joy of the Lord in all things- not just the fun, productive or happy times. How do I know this is true? It is because the Joy I am seeking is based on scripture. As I have looked at my verses more closely, I see different aspects of God’s joy that I can look forward to this year.

Joy in that is based on my salvation and will provide me with sustaining strength to lift me up, even when things don’t look so good! Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold  and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord;  I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength;  he makes my feet like the deer’s;  he makes me tread on my high places.”

Joy that is based on the Sovereignty of God as He knows the pathways He has made for my life and I can find His joy as I walk trusting Him. Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy that will cause me to rejoice in both body and spirit. It will fill me up from the inside out and is based in the graciousness of God for those He has redeemed. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy,  when I sing praises to you;  my soul also, which you have redeemed.”

Joy that provides me with eternal strength to face each day. Nehemiah 8:10b “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joy that takes everything in stride and produces character within me. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Take the word you have chosen for the year and search scripture for places it is used. Pray and seek God’s guidance in which verses really speak to you that He would have you apply to your life this year. It is not your word that guides you but the Word of God that uses, applies and motivates your year.

God’s Word has the power to lead, guide, uplift, motivate, give strength, and produce salvation within you as you believe in Him. God’s Word is eternal, sharp, penetrating, breathed by Him so it can produce within our character what God desires for our lives. Let His Word guide you this year as you seek Him.

Linda