The Privilege of Witnessing. “Say So!”

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, Psalm 107:1-2

This week I’m going to spend some time in Psalm 107. This praise song was written after the Israelites return to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity of 70 years. The walls of the city and the temple were rebuilt and they were resettled in the promised land. As a people, they had much to thank God for and remember. In remembering, we can put into perspective the happenings of our life and gain a greater measure of thankfulness towards God. Moses repeatedly told the Israelite to remember what God had done. When we don’t, we are prone to live in the here and now forgetting the impact and influence of our loving God. By not remembering, we are prone to wander and get caught up in our daily lives centering our lives around ourselves.

The Psalmist begins this psalm with the reason for giving thanks is because of God’s character. He is loving, good and eternal! Only God is eternal and filled with immeasurable goodness and love. God’s love is not fleeting it is enduring. No matter what God will continue to love us. The Greeks used the word agape for this kind of love. Unending, unconditional and not subject to changing or diminishing. We know what human love is as we have experienced it with our loved ones and friends. It is fickle and changes with circumstances. God’s love is not like human love for it is embodied in His character and is good and eternal. That fact should and does give me reason for hope. I can depend upon God. He is unchanging. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Thank you God for your unfailing, unchanging and eternal love for me!

I also love the second verse where the psalmist emphasizes the need for each of those who love the Lord to speak up and tell their story. The ESV translates the first line this way: Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! Are you so in love with Jesus, so thankful for Him and His work in saving you that you are willing to tell others? Moses told the Israelites to remember what God had done and that is what the psalmist is saying. God has been good, has blessed, has showered you with love and kindness =TELL SOMEONE! Why would you keep it a secret? God’s goodness testifies to His character and love for you. Be proud and brave-say something to those around you. Praise His Name night an day!!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am a personal witness for Christ. Witnessing, telling others about God and what He has done in your life and the redemption and salvation in Jesus, is our great privilege’s as one loved and redeemed by Jesus. Acts 1:8 tells us that the power to speak of Him comes from His indwelling Holy Spirit. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Romans 10:17 says for someone to know Jesus they have to hear- so we have to speak up! “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Paul also wants us to know that telling others is a blessing indeed! Romans 10:15 “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

May you reexamine your speech today and salt your words with praises. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” If you are one redeemed and loved by Jesus, you need to speak up and tell others of the eternal love and goodness of our God.

Linda

Pearl Harbor…A reminder of Sacrifice that Requires Gratitude

Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941.  It began 80 years ago at 7:55 am.  If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice.  War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men.   Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day.  The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers.  A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died.  I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day.   President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.”  Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.

05 Duty, Honor, Sacrifice

Say a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices of the men who died this day so long ago and for the men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.

Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.

Linda

Strategic Living has ARRIVED!

Strategic Living FRCov (1)For such a time as this, my new book Strategic Living is perfect.  We all wonder, while we’re at home sheltering in place because of the Covid-19,  what we can do to reach others and survive ourselves.  In my new book, Strategic Living I take a biblical look at godly character and seek to challenge the reader to reflect and take action.   Becoming more and more like Jesus is a process called sanctification and takes deliberate effort and intentionality.  This new devotional gives concrete examples and direction on how God can and does shape our lives and explores perhaps new and different ways God desires that we act.  The book can be used for individual devotions or for group study.  Questions for group discussion are included along with key memory verses.

Take up the challenge and get your copy today.   It is available in paperback or eBook formats.

My book is available at Certa Publishing  http://www.certabooks.com/strategicliving   

And on Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dphttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dp

thank you,   Linda

Strategic Living BKCovAfter reading my book, I would appreciate you taking the time to review the book.  As reviews help to spread the word.

A weakness of mine- Children’s Literature

I love to read and being a teacher, I love to read Children’s Literature.  I love the themes of good versus evil, where good always triumphs.  Friendships, survival and hope all Green Emberabound in kids books.  I just finished the Green Ember Series by S.D.Smith.   He is a christian author who has constructed a wonderful series in the rabbit kingdom of Natalia where the evil war bird, Morbin, is currently threatening everyone’s existence and freedom.  The rabbit characters are brave, funny and fearless as they are developed though this series.  The bad guys are really bad and the good guys are really good- not a chance to confuse them.  The series begins with The Green Ember, Ember Falls, Ember Rising and concludes with Ember’s End.  I loved it and do hope it will endure as a Children’s classic like Wind in the Willows.

I hope you can get a copy to enjoy, I know it is available on Amazon.  I would say that the story read aloud could go from ages 6-teen, with an independent reading level at say grade 4-6.  I enjoyed this story as an adult, but I consider myself a child at heart.

Happy Reading.

Linda

Total Hope, where do you find it?

These first few weeks of 2020 I have been looking into HOPE as it is my chosen word for the year.  I saw survival hope in Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”, Hope in God’s Word, Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield;  I hope in your word.”,  Hope in God’s steadfast Love, Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,”, Hope in the future, Jeremiah 29:11 “ 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.” and daily Hope for living, Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  

Today’s verse helps me to see that God is my Total HopePsalm 62:5-7                            psalm 62 5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”     

I love the truth of these words written by the psalmist David so long ago.  They are truths confirmed throughout scripture.  My hope comes from God aloneHe is the one who stands by me and holds me in times of distress and trouble  Psalm 107:13 “they cried to the Lord in their trouble,   and he delivered them from their distress.”   God is so strong and mighty, so sure and complete that He cannot be shaken, Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.    He gave me salvation through faith in Jesus, Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”.   God alone is working in my life to mold and shape me into the person He desires me to be and shares His glorious attributes with me,  Romans 5:3-5 “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.”   He is the holder of my salvation and sent the Holy Spirit as my guarantee, 2 Corinthians 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Do these truths about God alone give you Hope for surviving, loving, learning and leaning on the truth of His Word, for looking into the future and for daily living?  God is my total Hope and that Hope is in Him alone.  He is and has all the hope I need.  in christ alone“Thank you Jesus for bringing God’s Hope to me.”  

May you grab hold of His Hope today and be uplifted and strengthened.

Linda

Our Righteous Judge, you can count on on Him!

God-is-our-JudgeBoth the Old and New Testaments, present God as Judge.  He is the ultimate authority of all the universe He created both now and in the future.  In Psalm 7:10-11 David tells us that God is a righteous judge who defends those who love Him and grieves over the sin of those who reject Him. My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.”   All creation speaks of God’s righteousness and place as judge, Psalm 50:6 “The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah   Solomon in his wisdom knew God’s place as judge, Ecclesiastes:3:17. “I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.”    Paul reminds Timothy that Jesus will be our eternal judge in 2 Timothy 4:1 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:”  Peter also wrote to Christians who were struggling with holiness in their lives.  He reminds them of who God is and who they can rely upon in Christ. “1 Peter 1:17-20 “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”   

2 peter 2 9We can trust God as the righteous judge as we know He is just, impartial and loves all those He created.  God knows what He is doing and has proved himself to mankind in the past, 2 Peter 2:9 “ then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.”  Peter was referring to God rescuing righteous Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  If he could do that for Lot, He is capable of handling anything.  He is righteous and sees who we really are in our deepest being.  We can rely upon His mercy, compassion and justice.

Many people like to only think of God as loving, holy and righteous, but God is so much more,  and as creator He has the right and authority to judge all sin.  He made a way for us to escape the judgement of sin in our lives through Jesus and His work on the cross.  1 John 9:11 tell us how we can find freedom from the judgement that is upon all the world because of sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   Confess your sins today, keep short accounts with God and do not let sin stay in your heart and reject it from your life through power of Jesus.  He is the perfect judge, just in all things and He desires for us to stand righteous before Him.

Linda

I AM a Jealous God

el-kannaJealous does not seem an appropriate attribute to associate with God.  However, that is exactly what God calls himself in Exodus 34:14.  “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”  El Kanna is His name here in Hebrew.

How does jealous fit God?  By definition, jealous is: very watchful in guarding or keeping like jealous of your rights, resentfully suspicious of a rival like a jealous husband or wife, and  requiring exclusive loyalty.   The first and last meanings fit God but not resentfully suspicious.  God knows all, sees all and is holy so He could not be resentfully suspicious.  He is watchful in guarding our loyalty and requiring that we worship only Him.  The context of this verse in Exodus is recorded just after the incident with the golden calf.  While Moses was on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments, the children of Israel had melted gold and fashioned a ‘god’ of gold to worship.  Moses was extremely angry when he returned and smashed the tablets and destroyed the idol.  In Exodus 34 God was explaining His nature to Moses and states that He is a jealous God desiring that they worship only Him.  The first 4 of the 10 Commandments are about our exclusivity in worshiping only God.  1-Have no other gods before me. 2-Do not make any graven images to worship.      3-Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. 4-Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (Exodus 20)  God demands our love and devotion.   He promises us just as He promised Abraham and his descendants, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised,” Deuteronomy 15:5-6a   Joshua gave a similar plea as he neared death in Joshua 24:14, 15 “14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The message is clear- God is a jealous God and desires that we worship only Him.  Jesus promises in John 15 that abiding in Him (worshiping, loving and serving only him) will John 15-5 He Who Abide In Me Bears Much Fruit greenbear much fruit in our lives.  John 15:5  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  He alone is the source of our power for living.    In John 15:10  Jesus tells us that abiding involves keeping His commandments- loving and worshiping only Him.  “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

Will you strive to put away idols and worship only Him?  The Senior level students in my Bible Study Fellowship class had an activity recently as we were studying Joshua and the Israelites persistence in holding onto their idols.  The students were challenged to come up with something that could be an idol for every letter of the alphabet.  Remember an idol is anything you put above God in your life.  Here is a start-see if you can finish the list.  A-ambition, B-beauty in nature, C-computer games, D-dreams, E-exercise, F-family, G-goals…. M-money….Z-zealous for_______.   All of these can be good things but put in the place of worshiping God they become idols.

May you reflect today on your life and what things might become idols and draw your attention, devotion and love away from God.

Linda

National Day of Prayer- Be there, Be with us!

The National Day of Prayer is today May 4th, the first Thursday in May.  In 1952 the Congress passed a law establishing an official date for a day Americans are called to pray and meditate.  Often in our history presidents have asked the nation to pray, meditate or fast but it did not become officially set aside as a specific day until 1952.  It was challenged in court in 2011 but upheld as constitutional.

The Bible has a lot to say about prayer and Jesus modeled how to pray in his prayer to the Lord.  You can find the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray so they would not be like the hypocrites that made loud noises to the Lord but did it all for show.  Jesus would often pull away from the disciples, the crowds and pressures of his daily life and seek solace, comfort and renewal from His heavenly Father in prayer.  We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually”.  James 5:13-18 tells us to  pray for others, pray for the sick and pray if you are in trouble.   We are told to PRAY.  When our prayers are answered we are told to rejoice and praise God. What situation has brought you to your knees before Almighty God this year?  Was it a death, natural disaster, troubling circumstances, problems with addictions or money problems?  For what answered prayer have you thanked God?  We are told in the next verse of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   Prayer and thanksgiving are to go hand in hand.

Today,  let us give thanks and offer prayers for our great nation.  Our problems are many but so are our blessings.  Turn to God and acknowledge Him.  I am reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 as we celebrate this day of prayer together.   “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”     Let us thank God for our many blessings as a nation and then turn to Him with petitions and prayers asking forgiveness for our sins and looking to Him to lead our way.

Linda

2_national_day_of_prayer

Oh MY! What praises we have in Jesus

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Ephesians 1:3

During Lent is a good time to take stock in what we have in Christ and praise Him, as without Him we would not have:

Salvation- “For God so love the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16   I can have life with Jesus forever through faith in Him, a full expression of God’s love and my sins forgiven at the cross.

Citizenship in Heaven“But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  Philippians 3:20-21  Wow! I have a permanent home, belonging in heaven and a new glorious body.

Guaranteed Redemption “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory.”  Ephesians 1:13-14    I am sealed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, marked as belonging to Him and have an inheritance in God’s kingdom.

As today’s verses states- “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”   What wonderful blessings we Have in Jesus!

Our simple prayer for today:

thank you

Thanking Jesus for what He has done for me!

Linda

Reaching for the joy

Some days are full of weariness.  How can we move from weariness to joy?  Let’s consider Hebrews 12:1-3.  This chapter comes right after the listing of all the great heroes of the faith.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12 3

These verses would suggest that focusing on Christ and his sacrifice on my behalf, allows me to throw off the things that burden my heart and my life and keep me weary and joyless.  Knowing what Christ suffered on my behalf refocuses my priorities and brings me new perseverance and hope.  Isn’t that what our Lenten journey is all about?  Ponder these verses today and endeavor to focus on Christ and see if your weariness does not leave and your joy return.  He wants us joyful and running the race of life He has given us not weary and defeated on the sidelines.  Reach for the joy today and rise out of weariness to victory with Christ.

Prayer:  Father, help me to stay focused on Jesus today.  Fill me with perseverance and purpose so that I will not be tangled up in worldly things and will be able to throw off the weariness and embrace the joy you have for me. Through the power of Jesus, Amen.

Looking to shed weariness and receive joy,

Linda

eyes on Jesus