Joy with Heavenly Hope

Paul seeks to encourage the Philippian believers who are looking around them and see a world that is driven by selfish needs, greed, power, and bent on self-destruction. How does a believer survive in such a world? We can ask ourselves that same question right now! Paul’s answer is one of perspective. He tells the Philippians to think about Jesus and His kingdom with the knowledge that His heavenly kingdom will someday be their home! They can take encouragement and strength from the fact that they belong to Jesus and His kingdom and that His heavenly home is not located in the earthly places where they currently reside. We too can take heart from Paul’s words as they equally apply to us!

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Not only are we citizens of heaven but we can be assured that Jesus will return someday to transform us. We know this is possible because He has resurrection power and is able to bring all things under His control, i.e. He is the Sovereign Savior.

This message of Jesus’ return, His power to transform us and bring us to heaven is found other places in scripture, too. 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 speaks of Jesus’ return “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” 1 John 3:2 tells us that we will be like Jesus when He returns. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” I love the picture Paul gives us in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 about our heavenly bodies “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,”

The thoughts of Jesus’ return, a body that will not experience pain or despair, hardship or doubt brings hope to any who are suffering. Jesus will return and take us to heaven to live with Him. Whether we die first or meet Him in the air, we will go to heaven and be transformed by Him.  These are word filled with Hope.

JOY! Because we know: Jesus will return.

Jesus will transform us both inside and out.

Jesus has a home for us in heaven.

All Believers are citizens of heaven.

Let your Joy be complete in Jesus!

Linda

God’s Word is Worthy of Reading!

copyright szefei

Each week we, the believers who attend Crossroads Church in Concord, CA, have a selection from God’s Word to meditate upon. We have been going through the book of Deuteronomy for quite some time now as it is a long book, and we only take a few verses at at time. I was thunderstruck by the passage this week.

Deuteronomy 31:9-13 “So Moses wrote this entire body of instruction in a book and gave it to the priests, who carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and to the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses gave them this command: “At the end of every seventh year, the Year of Release, during the Festival of Shelters, 11 you must read this Book of Instruction to all the people of Israel when they assemble before the Lord your God at the place he chooses. 12 Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions. 13 Do this so that your children who have not known these instructions will hear them and will learn to fear the Lord your God. Do this as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.”

How many of us read God’s Word, all of it at least every 7 years? Do we share it with our families? God has a specific purpose for us reading His Word faithfully- to teach us about Himself and to pass on our love for God to the next generation. In my opinion, that is something we, all believers, have not done faithfully and now our world is lacking in the knowledge of who God is and why we should trust in Him alone.

Let us pray for our nation and ourselves that we will be found faithful in reading and studying His Word and telling those around us about the truths contained therein. To thrive in this sin-filled world, we must look to Jesus and His Word to walk in victory and light.

Linda

P.S. Need a Bible Study? send me a note and I’ll tell you of opportunities to study with many online groups. We no longer need to live in the same city or country!

What does September 11 bring to your mind?

As we ponder the significance of 9/11 today, what comes to your mind?  This is the 19th year anniversary of that tragic attack on the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon.  Many of those alive today have no memory of that horrific day and those terrifying events.  The same could be said for December 7th and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Both bring extreme sadness at the unnecessary loss of innocent lives, the aftermath of the events and their impact on families, the nation and our way of life.  A great sense of invasion and insecurity looms in my mind.

So what of 9/11 and those fears and insecurities?  Turn them over to Jesus and depend upon Him in all things.  We can cling to Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”    Nahum 1:7  “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”  John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”    I pray one of these verses gives you added hope in Jesus today.

hope in Christ

As I looked back, five years ago on 9/11 my new book, Promises for Dynamic Living arrived.  The arrival of a new book you’ve written is a momentous time for an author.  At the heart of this book is hope and security.  God’s Word provides us with an anchor for our souls in Christ and redemption though His work on the cross.   Knowing promises our Heavenly Father has made to us, gives me hope as I know He is eternal and always faithful to keep His promises.  He promised to send a savior and He did in the person of His own Son- Jesus.  What hope we have in Christ! He fulfilled all the promises in the Bible about himself and all questions about redemption are Yes in Him.  We do not need to fear for our future as it is guaranteed by Christ himself.

Living in a troubled world with HOPE,

Linda

A study in God’s Word that will bring you hope and assurance for living in a troubled world.  Available on Amazon or at Certa Publishing.Promises-for-dynamic-living-cover

Pressing onward with JOY!

Have you examined lately what causes you to move forward? What motivates you? According to Paul in Philippians 3:12-16 his motivation comes from what Christ did for him and his desire to live up to what God expects of him in Christ. I like the insights the Amplified text brings to this portion of scripture: 12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. 13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. 15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.”

 

This is a very familiar portion of scripture as it reveals Paul’s heart and desire to always press onward for Christ. Paul realizes that our world and all of its pressures can and do distract us from our work for Christ. He encourages us to press onward, upward and forward in our lives leaving the worldly distractions behind and claiming, proclaiming and grabbing hold of what Christ has for us in life. What Christ has for us is far greater than anything we could attain ourselves in this life. Christ has give it to us already so we need to walk and live by His ways.

Why joy in this? I see joy in the fact that Jesus provided a way, a plan, a pattern for following Him in His Word.

I see joy in knowing the things Christ can and will provide are greater than worldly acquisitions or achievements.

I see joy in following Him knowing I already have it all in Christ and simply need to grab hold of it and walk with Him each day.

Have a blessed day walking with Him.

Linda

 

What #hashtags of joy do you have today?

How do you view your life’s accomplishments?  The Apostle Paul was an elite, famous, learned man in his day and yet he said all the accomplishments in the world amounted to ‘garbage’ when compared to what he had in Christ.  In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul explains his point of view and wants us to view life through the lens of Christ.

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.  For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

Paul’s listed benefits:  

  • Knowing Christ as his Lord and Savior (8)
  • Being one with Him (9)
  • Being righteous through faith in Christ and not by his own efforts (9)
  • Being ready to suffer with Christ (10)
  • Being assured in resurrection with Christ (11)

Just like Paul, every Christian can claim these same promises and rejoice in Christ each day.  I revel  with JOY in the knowledge that I can get to know Christ through His Word and the teaching of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  I can depend upon Christ’s righteousness imputed to me by faith.  I can experience His resurrection power in my life and be assured I will be with Him one day in heaven.   #joy #joyfilledlife #joyinJesus #JesusbringsJoy

Pray these will be your hashtags today!

Linda

Rejoicing in the Lord is the BEST ever!

Paul has hit the rewind button in Philippians 3:1-7. He wants us to keep in mind the joy we have in the Lord! He wants us to rejoice and revel in the thoughts we have because of Christ and the state of being we have in Christ. Does that describe you and you thoughts today? Are you rejoicing in spite of opposition or hard circumstances? Paul wanted the Philippian Christians rejoicing in their faith and not putting obligations on each other or placing value/trust in their worldly achievements. Paul recalls his own worldly accomplishments and knows that he could boast but he reminds them that even all those things pale in comparison to what he has in Christ, that he says is cause for rejoicing in the Lord.

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

Paul concludes in verse 7 with his own realization that all our worldly ‘things’ and accomplishments are worthless when compared to what we have in Christ. Nothing compares to life with Him now and in the future, our heavenly home, our salvation, our redemption from eternal punishment for our sins, our growing and changing character that reflects God’s indwelling Holy Spirit….. These are priceless treasures we possess in Christ and are reasons to rejoice in the Lord!

Have a blessed day- rejoicing and giving thanks for what Christ has done and will do within you.

Linda

Dreams Bring Joy-filled Thoughts

Today the wild fires in California are burning brightly and smoke covers so much of our beautiful state. Where is joy? The passage in Philippians that I had for reflection today seems odd- how does it relate to me and my world? In this passage in Philippians 2:19-30 (entire text at the bottom) Paul makes the letter personal. He is sending notes to the Philippians about his ‘family’. Specifically Paul mentions Timothy his proven, genuine, caring son in the faith. He also says he desires to see them soon if his situation changes in Rome and he is free to travel again. Paul also talks about Epaphroditus who would be bringing the letter to them. Paul asks them to welcome him openly and realize that he has personally suffered a great deal for the sake of the gospel. Paul had plans for himself (24) and for the future of the ministry. He was looking forward to their work together in the name of Christ. Paul never doubted God had plans and knew the work of Christ would go forward!

What plans do you have for yourself and for you place in ministry? Do you dream and look forward with joy to things you can, or will do? Do you have dreams big things? I think God is calling us to trust in Him, no matter what fires are burning around us, and place our dreams at His feet. God promises us in His Word that He has good plans with purpose and they will not be thwarted.

Jeremiah 29:11 “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.” Do you believe God has good plans and a future for you?

Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Do you believe anything can stop God’s plans?

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Do you believe God can follow through on the plans He has established for you?

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Do you believe the Lord’s purpose is for your good and His glory?

James 4:13-15 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. Do you consider what God wants you to do when you make plans or do you leave Him out of the planning?

Paul’s joy was increased when he thought about his ‘family’ of faith and what plans and purposes God had for them in the future. What about you does dreaming about future events and plans in ministry bring you joy and excitement? If yes, then you are in good company and are forward looking with God, expecting joy in the future with Christ.

May your joy be multiplied today as you dream and think about what God has for you to do. Walk in faith- trusting and believing in our All Powerful God!

Linda

Philippians 2:19-30

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Joy, Does your perspective need a ‘reboot’?

Philippians 2:14-17 presents joy in several ways.   My joy is increased: 

  • godly character leads to joy in my life because of Christ’s work in me. 
  • sharing the gospel and investing in others brings joy.
  • mutual joy is to be had for both you and me over what Christ is doing and will do in/through us both individually and as a group of believers. 

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”   Paul is continuing in these verses with the conclusions he made about our lives due to Christ’s power, sovereignty and sacrifice in Philippians 2:5-11. Ours is to be a life filled with integrity and humility as we strive to live together peacefully, in harmony, and shine as a light in the darkness for those who do no know Jesus.  The gospel we offer, sometimes at great personal sacrifice,  is a light holding promise of eternity for others.  Paul says he receives joy as he looks at their lives and his own in light of eternity and work done in Christ’s name.  He also claims joy that knowing other believers, working with them in ministry as he sees the work of Christ in his own life and in their lives.   This brings mutual joy and gives him cause for rejoicing.

What about you?  Do you rejoice in the growth you see in your own life as you strive daily to be more and more like Jesus?  Do you feel joy when you share the gospel of Christ with others or take advantage of the opportunities God provides to praise and glorify His name?  Do you have joy when you work with others in ministry for both yourself and those you are working with?   Paul says all of these circumstances should bring us joy.  I pray that you will see each of these in your own life and praise Him for the joy He brings!

Linda

God at Work in me = JOY!

Therefore is a transition word that means the writer has reached a conclusion and has a truth for us.  Philippians 2:12-13 is one such passage.  Paul had just finished describing Jesus, his role as Savior and Lord of Lords in verses 5-11 and reached a conclusion about Jesus’ effect on all our lives.  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Paul reminds the Philippian believers of their faithful obedience to Jesus, even when he was not there supervising them, and admonishes them to ‘work out their salvation with fear and trembling’.  

Paul’s charge to ‘work out their salvation with fear and trembling’ would apply to us too. God at workThis phrase implies that we need to continue in faith regardless of the obstacles we face daily.   We need to commit to growing in our faith, and strive to know more about God each day.  We need to take that growth and then apply it to our faith with diligence and persistence.  All this should be done without doubt or fear but because of our faith and reverence towards God.  Scholars agree it does not mean any kind of ‘earning’ or working hard to create our salvation but rather living our faith in Jesus out in our daily lives.   Paul refers to believers as new creations in Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  That new creation, a life filled with faith in Jesus,  demands a new walk with Christ that causes us to live by His Word and be indwelt and transformed by His Holy Spirit.  We did nothing to earn this transformation as it is God’s gift to us through faith but it needs to be cared for and nurtured as we grow in Him.

philippians 2 13As Paul continues, I love what he says in verse 13.  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”   Paul knows that God is the one working within us to mold and shape us.  God is doing the work. Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.”   God needs our commitment to Him, then He is the one doing the work within us.  We trust and commit then God does the follow through!   Paul also knew that what God intends or wills happens.   Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Finally, Paul adds that the things God does in our lives are for His good pleasure.  This will always be good for us as promised in 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.”  God’s plans are always for His glory and our good!  

joy quoteIncreased joy for me, how about you?

  • I am filled with joy that my growth in character pleases God and equals joy in my life.
  • I am filled with joy that God is at work within me with purpose and goodness.
  • I am filled with joy knowing that God keeps His promises!

Have a blessed and joy filled day!

Linda

Jesus, a name that brings Joy for Eternity!

Today’s passage is amazingly beautiful, descriptive of our Savior and presents us with a challenge and hope for the future.  Philippians 2:5-10 is a well known and often quoted portion of scripture.  I like the New Living Translation of this passage,

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had(our challenge as believers)

Though he was God,                                      
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;    
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God      
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

jesus-names-2Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,      
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,           

What was Jesus’ attitude?   He was not filled with self-pride.  He could have been as He was God and possessed power and might beyond measure.  But,  He acted with sacrificial humility and came to earth in human form with the purpose of saving us though His death on the cross.  He was obedient to God’s plan of redemption.  The result was God honored His obedience forever and made us all be subject to Jesus.  What a challenge to live each day with an attitude like Christ’s  with humility, a servant’s heart, a willingness to put others first and with pure devotion and love for God.   Only through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit is it possible.  Jesus promised in Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   Live life each day, trusting in the power of Jesus, the name above all names!

As I read this passage, I am awestruck by Jesus’ humility and sacrifice.  He gave up His position in heaven to come to earth to save and to serve.  How much He must love us!

My joy is increased today:

  • as I consider how much God loves me.
  • as I see that obedience brings blessings.
  • as I see that no matter how things look right now, God has a plan for eternity and is in His control.
  • jesus key to joyas I realize that Jesus in King now and forever!

Have a blessed day and may there be joy in your heart and on your lips!

Linda