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.

God sighted on the Road to Emmaus, did you see Him?

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Friends walking towards Emmaus.

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is the encounter of the two on the Road to Emmaus.  Overcome with grief over Jesus’ death and disbelief over what the women said about seeing Him alive,  these two followers of Christ were walking along the Emmaus Road discussing all these things.  Jesus joined them on their journey without disclosing his identity.  As they walked they were surprised that this man did not know about all the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem.  They shared their hope that Jesus, the one crucified,  had been the long awaited Messiah.   Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

IMG_0692Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and listened to Jesus explain all about Himself?  A little later in the story when they were sitting down to eat, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and began to give it to them.  Right then, their eyes were opened  and they recognized Jesus.  He then disappeared from their presence.  Even though it was late they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.

Jesus came to these two when they were in grief, despair and confusion, and He cleared up their thinking, encouraged and enlivened them.  Can you remember a time when Jesus came to you in prayer or through the actions or words of another believer to give you hope and encouragement?  Jesus promises that He will be with us wherever we go.  Just like these two, we need to look and recognize His presence with us and the hope that He brings.

Thank you JesusI pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks.  I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day.  I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the truths I have gleaned from the book of Ephesians.   I will continue writing on the post-resurrection appearances leading to Pentecost (40 days after the cross).  Christ appeared many times, before His ascension, to many individuals and groups.   They are affirming and touching encounters that teach us more about the depth of His love and care for us.

Be on the lookout for God sightings this week.  Be assured He is with you!

Linda

Signed, Sealed and Delivered- 1st Century Style

Ephesians 6 21 conclusionMy plan to blog through the entire book of Ephesians during Lent was off by only 1 day.  Here are the concluding verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

21 “To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.

23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 6:21-24

What did Paul send to his friends that lived in Ephesus?   He sent an actual person to deliver the letter.  Besides the written words of Paul, they would have Tychicus to talk to about Paul, so they could personally find out how he was doing physically, the conditions he was living under, how his ministry was going, etc.  All of this Paul knew would be an encouragement to his friends.  Then he ends with a final blessing to all who read this letter-  peace, love filled with faithfulness and eternal grace (God’s undeserved favor) upon all who believe and follow Jesus.  Each of us can receive Paul’s blessing and know that he meant the peace, love, and grace to be ours in Jesus, too.

ephesians 6 24Paul’s letter started with praise and thanksgiving for the faith of the Ephesian  believers and ended with his desire that they continue to walk in faith filled with Jesus’ love and peace for themselves and towards others.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be blessed by His peace, love and eternal grace and I can share these blessings with others in His name.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Resurrection Sunday!! Happy Easter!

Easter2020During our entire Lenten journey, we have pondered the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross.  Now we need to come to the realization that without the resurrection His death would have been meaningless,  and we would be still lost in sin!  In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 “12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 1And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

Paul made this argument to clarify for the unbelievers and doubters that resurrection was essential to their faith otherwise they would still have all their sins and be under penalty of death.  Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Belief in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His victorious resurrection were essential to the Ephesian believer’s faith and are for us as well.  Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness and victory over death! All of Christ’s suffering here on earth would have been for nothing.  I know that God is sovereign, all powerful and omniscient and nothing is left to chance or done randomly.  Jesus prayed in John 17:3-4 just before His death, And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”   We know God’s plans will be accomplished, His Word, Jesus would not return to Him void. Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   Job 42:2 also reminds us of this truth, ““I know that you can do all things,  and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Praise God His purpose was not thwarted and was accomplished completely by Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead.  Praise God, our Redeemer Lives!

1 corinthians 15 4Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, Your faith is real, your sins are forgiven, you will spend eternity with Jesus, you are empowered and indwelt by His Holy Spirit!  Praise God!

Happy Easter!  Blessings because of our risen Redeemer, Christ Jesus.

Linda

Do you speak boldly? Maybe you are under prayed?

Ephesian 6:19 -20 is a plea from Paul for prayer support from the Ephesian believers.  He desires them to use their privilege of intercession to lift him up before God. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.”    In the previous verse (18) he had extorted the believers to use their weapon of prayer to intercede for each other in regard to their  faith, character, etc. and on all occasions.  He is asking that the believers support his ministry and give him the courage to speak boldly,  especially since he was in prison.  I find it encouraging that Paul, one of the most eloquent writers and speakers for Jesus of all time, knew he needed the power pray could bring to his ministry.  He needed the right words for bold speech and explanation of the gospel message.  Like Paul, we should never take for granted that we ‘know ‘ it all and can explain all the essential doctrines of the faith.   We are nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit and Paul knew that.   We need to take a lesson from the Apostle Paul and seek prayer support for our ministries.  Bathe them in prayer before you go out, while speaking, and after wards.  Pray, pray, pray!   

ephesians 6 19Who do you know that is in the need of prayer for their ministry of service?   Sunday School teachers need it, Pastors need it, Worship leaders need it, Church leaders need it, …..  we all stand in the need of prayer to be able to go out and give out the message of hope in Jesus to a hurting world.    For my first book, Fearless Living, I claimed Isaiah 55:11 “so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire  and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   God promises that giving out His Word will not return isaiah_55_11empty but will accomplish His purposes.  A great promise to claim!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be confident that God will hear my prayers and that giving out His Word will accomplish His purposes.

Linda

 

 

Prayer, Are you using it as a Weapon in Life’s Battles?

Paul has described the armor of God in terms of those pieces worn by Roman soldiers of the time.  The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit.   All of these are physical weapons in our arsenal for fighting our earthly battles of seen and unseen forces that are against us because of our faith.  They are to be worn in all circumstances so that we are never without protection from God and His Holy Spirit.  The last piece of armor Paul lists is a non-physical weapon that we are to use constantly, prayer.   Ephesians 6:18 describes this weapon,  ” And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

ephesians 6 18Prayers are to be constantly on our lips for other believers.  It is a weapon that is to be used at all times for all occasions.  Paul exhorts us to stay vigilant for attacks upon our faith, trials that test our resolve or ideas that cause us to doubt.  Being alert keeps you or other believers from being taken by surprise by the things of the world that would cause you to stumble.  What kinds of prayers should we be offering for other believers?  Faith that is growing and maturing seeks to be more and more like Jesus so anything that would strengthen the walk, character, resolve, purity, thankfulness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, hope, salvation, purity, pursuit of righteousness….  the list is endless.  All these things we are told in scripture are desirous for the believer.   Here are a few examples:

Leviticus 19:2 “‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”   We can pray for our own holiness and purity as well as all other believers.

Psalm 25:9  “He guides the humble in what is right  and teaches them his way.”  We can pray for humility in ourselves and others and commitment to walking with Jesus daily.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”      Pray for each other’s daily walk, grounding in scripture, strength of faith and a life showing great thankfulness.

Galatians 5:22-23 “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”   We can pray for the fruits of the Spirit to be evident and developing in our life and other believers.

Pope-Francis-Quote-Let-us-always-pray-for-one-anotherBecause Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the privilege of lifting myself and others up in prayer as we face life’s battles.   Take this privilege seriously and make it a habit to pray for yourself and others so that all would be strong in faith and rooted and grounded in Christ.  Satan desires that we stumble and falter as he wants to destroy our witness for Christ.  Jesus reminded the disciples before His death,  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  Pray that we will all be over-comers and live victoriously in Him.

Linda

Holy Week- Jesus’ Friday was incredibly grueling.  He was tried in various courts in the night and early morning, beaten, brought before Pilate and condemned to be crucified.  He was brought to the cross and crucified then buried in a new borrowed tomb.  “Good Friday”  was good for us but physically hard, painful and demanding all from our savior.   Matthew 26:47-27:66, Mark 14:4-15:47,  Luke 22:47-23:56 and John 18:2-19:32. 

Are you using your Sword effectively? Take a lesson from Jesus.

Ephesians 6:17 lists two weapons – the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.  As Paul reminded us in verse 16 these weapons are to be ready in all circumstances.  The helmet of salvation is an offensive weapon like the breastplate of Ephesians 6-17 Swordrighteousness, shoes of the gospel and the belt of truth.  However, the sword of the Spirit is our only physical weapon that can be used both offensively and defensively.   “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”   

The Sword of the Spirit or the Word of God is a weapon for close combat one to one or for group warfare.  The Word of God includes the physical words in the Bible, the message of the Word, their intended meaning and the actual saying of the words out loud.  Jesus gave us a perfect example of the use of God’s Word in combat when He was confronted by Satan in the wilderness.  Jesus did not try to reason with Satan or argue with him.  He simply used God’s Word and its truth to thwart him.  He answered his questions with the Word of truth. (See Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13 for the account of Satan confronting Jesus in the wilderness.)

We can take a lesson in how to use the Sword of Spirit from Jesus.  We need to learn to use God’s Word when we are confronted with indecision, confusion, difficult circumstances, temptations, fears, etc.  The reason Jesus was able to use God’s Word to rebuff Satan was because He knew the Word of God.  That should lead us to the conclusion that we need to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we will be ready.  Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Memorizing scripture has eternal value as once you put it into your mind, the Holy Spirit will use it to shape and mold your mind so that you will be stronger in faith, less led into sin and confidently face situations.    We also need to study and immerse ourselves in God’s Word to know more about who God is and what He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11 reveals God’s heart towards us, “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.”  Studying God’s Word is essential for growth towards maturity as a believer.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  hebrews 4 12God’s Word is active and alive, remember saying or using the words of God has power to effect lives for Him.  God’s Word helps us to discern God’s truth and discover our hearts intentions.  God’s Word has power and should be treated with reverence as it is God’s defensive gift to us for use in our struggles here on earth.  Know it, use it  and be transformed by it!  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead I have access to the living Word of God that can and will defeat the enemy.

Wield your sword in battle today.  Have God’s power in your hand and on your lips.

Linda

Holy Week- Thursday was the day of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.  He spent considerable time comforting them and praying for them.  They went to Gethsemane where Jesus prayed,  arrested and led off to trials throughout the night.  Matthew 26:17-46, Mark 14: 12-42, Luke 22:7-46, John 14:1-16:33

Who is after your mind? Be protected- use your helmet!

Ephesians 6:17 is part of a sentence that began yesterday in 6:16 that has an important element for 6:17 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”   Each piece of armor that Paul is instructing believers to put on are to be used at all times in all circumstances.  He knew the devil is always ready to attack.  Peter knew it also as he wrote in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”   Being ready means putting on our armor as we endeavor to walk with Jesus daily.  

Verse 17 mentions 2 pieces of armor but I’m only going to focus on one today, the helmet ephesians 6 17 helmetof salvation.  Why did Paul associate salvation with the helmet in our armor?  Salvation is not just redemption but is our protection plan for eternity.  Ephesians 1:13 told us “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,”  We are sealed for eternity and nothing or not one can take our salvation away from us!  This is a blessed assurance or promise from God and God always keeps His promises!

A helmet is essential because it protects your head and your mind.  Satan is after our minds.  He want to turn us away from godly thinking, confuse, disrupt or distort our thinking.  The brain controls the body so protecting our mind is vital for survival.  2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us that we need to hold every thought captive to Christ.  “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”   Opinions, false doctrines and 2 corinthians 5 3arguments against the faith can be overcome with all thoughts captivated by Christ and His truths.  Having a firmly placed and active helmet helps us keep our shield of faith in place and solidifies who we are in Christ.  We need to think like kingdom citizens.  Protecting our minds from attacks of stray thoughts, doubts, letting fear creep in and control us or letting desires over come what we know is right are all things we are vulnerable to without a good helmet.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have assurance of salvation for all eternity and be mentally protected from attacks by Satan.

Here are a few verses about how God protects our minds in Christ:

Isaiah 26:3  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,because he trusts in you”.    Peace of mind is yours in Christ.

Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”   Life is yours in Christ.

Colossians 3:2  “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”.  Heavenly thinking is yours to possess.

1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ”  Complete preparation for spiritual battles is ours through Christ.

As you go through today, think about your gift of salvation through faith in Christ. Praise and thank God for this precious gift and how it protects and defends your mind and thinking.  Your salvation is sure and true and you hold it for all eternity.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Holy Week -Wednesday.   Plots are hatched against Jesus as Judas is lured by officials to betray Christ.  Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6.   As He looked towards the cross and betrayal which was to come on Thursday evening and Friday, Jesus likely took this day to rest and be with those He cherished on earth.

 

Is your Shield of Faith flame proof?

epheisan 6 16 shieldEphesians 6:16  describes the Shield of Faith that we must possess as believers so that we may combat the enemy,  “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”    Paul in these passages is comparing our Christian walk and witness to going into or being in battle each day.  In verse 12 he had reminded us that the forces of evil in this world can be both physical and spiritual so we must always be ready.  Satan cannot take our salvation away but he can destroy our witness and effectiveness for God.   As Paul said here, we must be ready in all circumstances.

Active faith functions a shield because it shows you truly believe in God.  It is actively putting your trust in God’s truths and desiring to please Him with your actions. We won’t see our shield in action until we step out boldly using our faith.  A believer’s faith is less about the believer and more about God and what we believe and are absolutely convinced that He is capable of doing in our lives.  It involves trust and hope at the highest levels.  Jeremiah 29:11 has helped to activate my faith and move it from head knowledge to heart trust,  as I absorb the truth of God’s Words.  “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.”   God is good and intends good for me.  I can trust Him in all I do, wherever I go He is there with me.

Satan wants to lessen, destroy, or render ineffective any and all faith that we possess.  He cannot take our salvation away as it is sealed and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.  2 Corinthians 1:21-22 is a promiseNow it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  Using your faith in a way  that will thwart or repel Satan’s attacks, requires trust in God’s faithfulness and wisdom on our part so we are aware and ready.

Consider this todaysometimes you might not need more faith or a bigger shield,  but you just need a better understanding of the comprehensive nature of God’s faithfulness. Think about His faithfulness in these verses:

Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”     God is always faithful and does not change.

Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”  Our shield of faith is backed by His faithfulness to us.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”   God’s faithfulness gives us strength and protection.

Hebrews 10:23 “ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”   God’s faithfulness gives us hope as we actively use it- holding on tightly!

faith tells meBecause Christ died on the cross and rose for the dead, I have a faith that is supported and connected to the faithfulness of Almighty God.   His faithfulness is eternal, unending, complete and 100% sure!

Take up your shield today!  Step out with an active faith unafraid and backed by God’s faithfulness.

Linda

Holy Week- Tuesday.  Jesus’ authority was questioned at the temple by the Pharisees and He continued to teach with parables.  Later in the day, He was anointed with oil which, unknowingly to the disciples,  was in preparation for His burial.  See Matthew  21:23-27, 21:28-23:39 and Matthew 26:6-13.  These are also recorded in Mark and Luke and the anointing in John.

Peace, essential footwear for the Believer

After putting on the Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness the believer needs to tend to their footwear.  Usually the picture of messengers is one running with bare feet.  Here the soldier, ready for all terrain conditions,  has his feet covered and Ephesians 6 15protected.  But what kind of foot wear is Paul suggesting, spiritual footwear that only comes through the gospel’s good news = peace.   “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.”  Ephesians 6:15

How does the peace given through the Good News of Jesus protect us?  Jesus promised through faith an other worldly peace that keeps away fearJohn 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  His peace also gives us strength and blessing.  Psalm 29:11 “May the Lord give strength to his people!  May the Lord bless his people with peace!”   His peace acts as a guard against Satan’s attacks and keeps us from being anxious.  Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The gospel message also brings peace through the assurance of salvationIsaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace,  who bring good tidings,  who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,  “Your God reigns!””  Lastly, His peace is brought to us through faith in an attitude of thanksgiving.  Colossians 3:17 colossians 3 17“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  This attitude of thankfulness allows God’s peace to rule in our lives.  Peace will guard and keep us  moving forward with confidence in God and His plan to give out the Good News of Jesus.

As you pray and think on God’s Word today, remember the peace that comes through Jesus confounds Satan and brings glory to God.  When have you experienced this other worldly peace that gave you strength, kept away your fears, assured you of your salvation, caused you to be thankful and gave you a mind that was calm and resting in Him?  It is this peace that all believers need to possess, grab hold of, hold close, as they witness and walk each day living for Jesus.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have peace filling my life as I strive to walk in witness to His truth.

Linda

Holy Week – on Monday Jesus cleansed the temple and cursed the fig tree.  He was  righteously angry at the greedy money changers that were keeping the Gentiles from worshiping and treating His house with disrespect.  Matthew 21:13 “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”  Jesus also cursed the fig tree which was fully leaved and yet had no figs.  This was a foreshadowing of the coming judgement on the nation of Israel for rejecting the truth of His coming.