Prayer with Confidence and Purpose

November 9, 2022

Have you ever thought about answered prayer? We love to see our prayers answered in just the way we envision them but often God surprises us with His answers. Most times, I have found, God uses unusual ways to answer all or part of our requests. We see the truth of Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” We know that God is faithful, hears our requests and will answer His way which will be good for us and bring Him glory. Today’s verse of thanks comes from 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. Paul is relating to the Corinthians believers the perilous situation they encountered while in Asia and thanked them for praying. “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Paul does not know how God will resolve this situation but He has confidence in Him. He asks the believers to pray so that many will give thanks on their behalf. Not only will they be blessed but so will the ones who pray. When you pray for someone, you are lifting them up before God seeking His help to provide for them in some special way. When that prayer is answered, you are blessed and your faith is affirmed. Even in the praying you are blessed as a peace or comfort comes upon you as you pray with faith. Paul knew the believers would be blessed and gave thanks ahead of time for their faithfulness.

Who do you know today that is in a situation of some kind and is in need of divine assistance? Will you lift them before God and seek His intervention on their behalf? Paul tells us that you will be blessed for your faithful prayer and so will the one who is prayed for. Claim Philippians 4:19 in your heart as you pray. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God knows what is needed and will supply the answer in His way in His time just as He promises.

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I can be assured that all things are working together for good. Romans 8:28 states this promise to all believers. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Here are a few things to consider about this promise: God is sovereign and there is nothing beyond His control. 2 Chronicles 20:6 “and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” God is good and intends only good things for me. Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” God has a purpose to which He has call each of us. 2 Timothy 1:9 “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” God’s ways are not our ways and He achieves His desires. Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

Being assured of these facts from God’s Word, claim this promise with confidence and let it give peace to your heart and mind. Pray with confidence knowing that God is sovereign, good, has a plan and will solve things His way that will be good for us and give Him glory.

Linda

He’s Got This! Trust Him!

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. It is also the favorite of Steve, in my church, and Francine, in my BSF leader’s group. Why is this verse so beloved? Let me explain the hope and encouragement, the reassurance of who God is and His Sovereign control over all things that are found in this verse!

The full context of the verse occurs in a letter sent to the Israelites who had been taken into captivity. God wanted them to know that they were loved by Him and that He had future plans for their lives even though their current circumstances were troubled. Jeremiah 29:1 sets the stage: This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” God wanted them to know that even though they were ‘gone’ from Jerusalem, the temple and their homeland; they were NOT forgotten or abandoned there. Jeremiah 29:10-14 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Here is God’s encouragement- WOW! 10) Be of good courage as I will bring you back home after 70 years in Babylon. 11) I know what the future holds for you and I’ve got this- it is good! 12)Your faith will continue and we will have viable communication. 13) When you look for me, you will find me! 14) I promise I’ll bring you home. The exile in Babylon had been caused by their own unfaithfulness to God, and yet God was confirming to them that they still were His and He would work in their lives to restore them. What a wonderful loving God! They had messed up big time, had not listened, had ignored his prophets, had worshipped other gods, and yet God still had them in the palm of His hand as He promised to care for them while in exile. Thankfully, the Israelites learned their lesson and did not stray into idolatry again after their return to Israel 70 years later.

That is the big picture, now to verse 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,” God knew the plans He had for Israel and the work He had planned for them. God is sovereign and knows all about me. I know He has plans for me and a purpose for my life in His kingdom. Because God is good in all things, I can rest assured that all His plans for me are good and will be successful. God’s plans are meant to give me hope and assure my faith and future. Those plans are not for a bigger house, car or better job, but are in relation to my work for Him in His kingdom. Our purpose is to glorify God in all we say and do and He has the very best places and plans for that to happen. Walking with Jesus, I can live assured that His way, though it may be hard, will produce good for me and will add to my future with Him. He has plans….my job is to keep the faith and seek to stay in His will doing things His way in His time.

Steve, Francine and I all love the assurance this verse gives and seek to claim its promises in our lives as we seek to live and serve Him. How about you? Do you see God’s plans as good? Do you trust in His goodness no matter what is happening around you? Circumstances can and do get very sticky and troubled. Keep your focus upon Him and trust in His sovereignty. Psalm 73:28 is my cry, along with David, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Trust in Him and make the Sovereign Lord your refuge. Proclaim Him to those around you. Trust Him! He’s got this!

Linda

God Has us Covered! Protected Offensively and Defensively with His Armor

In yesterday’s blog, Paul gave us the reasons for putting on God’s armor. (See the blog entitled “Armored Up.” Today we see the purpose for each piece and the benefits of suiting up!

Ephesians 6:13-17 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Each piece of God’s armor is specifically designed to help us withstand the temptations and trial of this world. Satan wants to see us defeated. He knows he cannot take our salvation away as it is held secure in the love of God and sealed by the Holy Spirt. However, he can destroy our witness, cause us to be discouraged or feel defeated and worthless. Paul presents the specifics of God’s armor to encourage and strengthen us, as we seek to walk with Christ day by day. First, Paul reminds us that putting on God’s armor will allow us to stand in the face of evil and hold on to Him no matter what comes our way. Then Paul begins listing each piece that will fortify us. The truth of the gospel, the truth of who God is and His being binds us and gives us strength like no other. Covering our heart is the breastplate, so our inner feelings and soul are protected from harm by His righteousness. When David cries out to God in Psalm 51:10 ” Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”, he is requesting renewal of heart, purification by Christ and resilience. All of these come from the righteousness of God and are ours in his breastplate of righteousness.

The next piece of armor is for our feet, the gospel of peace. The salvation of Christ to the world brings peace wherever it goes, as being in Christ brings unity of purpose. Putting on the shoes of the gospel means being willing to walk with Him and tell others about His love, forgiveness and salvation. Now that Paul has us up and dressed, we need to pick up our outer shield which is faith. The shield goes before us and protects us from the doubts and methods of Satan who seeks to destroy us and our witness.

Lastly, Paul mentions our two offensive weapons that can be used in our battles against Satan. They are the sword of the Spirit and prayer. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Jesus rebuked Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness with God’s Word. His Word has power and can be our defense against any attack that Satan launches against us. It is a sword that is discerning and powerful according to Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The sword is amazing as it works to help us defend ourselves. Prayer is also an offensive weapon we can use it both for and against our enemies. Prayer changes things and gives us emotional, physical and spiritual support. We are admonished to ‘pray continually’ and that prayer is effective. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 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.” 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Prayer is a tool we can use continually- night and day, for and with each other and for our help, hope and defense!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can suit up with God’s weapons of defense and offense to stand against the powers of this world and Satan. Thank you Jesus for your all covering armor that we can use to protect and defend ourselves and our witness in this world.

Linda

Third Sunday of Lent, 2022

Each Sunday I have been highlighting a portion of Psalm 139. Not only do I love this Psalm but it is one of my friend Elizabeth’s favorite portions of scripture (See Favorite Bible Verses for Confident Living in Jesus series). She had many that she uses for specific situations that give her strength, however, this was her favorite psalm. I decided to bring you a portion of this wonderful psalm each Sunday during Lent. On the First Sunday we discovered how God knows all there is to know about our thoughts and motives. The Second Sunday we learned there is no where we can go that God cannot find us, and that He will always be our light in a dark world. Here are verses Psalm 139: 13-16.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

These verses assure us that God made us even as we were developing. He knows us and nothing about us is hidden from Him. That can be both assuring and scary as God knows our innermost thoughts, desires and motives. He see our actions and will hold us accountable for all our deeds and words. May the thought that your creator knows you bring you comfort, as He assures us that there is nothing we are going through that He did not foresee or allow. He promises to be with us wherever we go and He is greater than anything we can ever face.

One last thought from the line- Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. I find great comfort in knowing God’s works are wonderful and good. Things do not happen by chance and are for His glory and my good. Also, my soul understands the wonder of God even if I don’t fully get it. My finite mind cannot grasp the magnitude of God’s greatness, but my soul knows it and realized who God is. Thank you Lord for the greater understanding you give to my soul. May it be transmitted to my heart more and more each day.

Blessings this third Sunday of Lent.

Linda

Knowing and Rejoicing, Assured in Jesus

There is amazing comfort in today’s ‘put on’ verses. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 is one of my favorites because it gives me assurance and hope as a believer in Jesus.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Paul was reassuring the Corinthians Christians, and us too, that God is the one who keeps us with Christ. He is the one who anoints us as believers. He is the one who puts His seal upon us and has given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. What an amazing promise to all who believe! Paul also states in Romans 8:16 that “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” We can know and be assured that we belong to Jesus. We can feel and know His Spirit within us confirming we belong to Him. We can know that He is our heavenly Father and we are a child of His.

**Who does not want to feel grounded and supported in their faith? God has this.

**Who does not want to feel anointed, blessed and chosen in their faith? God did this in Christ.

**Who does not want to be indwelled by His Holy Spirit, knowing that it is God’s seal of guarantee on your life? God did this through Christ. He keeps His promises.

**What is our response to all God has done? Believe in His Son, Jesus. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be guaranteed His seal and indwelling Holy Spirit to guide me as I seek to walk with Jesus day by day.

Have a blessed day rejoicing in His Spirit and the knowledge that you belong to Him! Your are SEALED!

Linda

Advent…But God Experiences Teach Us

Everyone rejoices when a baby is born, new life brings hope and speculation about who the child looks like, who the child will grow up to be, what they will do and how they will fit into the world into which they have just arrived. In addition, in earlier times the health and survival of the baby and mother were not always assured. In our passage we see a group of family and friends rejoicing that aged Elizabeth was able to carry her baby to full term and deliver her child. They were both thriving and 8 days after birth, as was their custom, they gathered to circumcize the young child and officially name him. Luke 1:57-66 is fraught with joy and amazement as John speaks after 9 months of silence, just as the angel had said.

 “When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” 61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. 65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

This story is an example of But God! The child was delivered and healthy, and he was surely to be named after his father But God intervened. Zechariah had been mute for 9 long months But God opened his mouth so he could speak. Can you imagine in that moment what Zechariah would say? He could have spoken to Elizabeth, words of comfort and apology, to the child, words of love and tenderness but scripture tells us his first words were praises to God. Zechariah knew God had intervened in his life and brought this wonder of new life to he and Elizabeth, and that God had a greater purpose for this child. All the angel had told him about his son came flooding back into this mind, and he knew without a doubt that it was all going to be true. He knew God keeps His promises and what He says will come to pass.

Have you had a But God moment in your life? How did you use it? Did you allow God to mold and shape you with His Holy Spirit by having your heart transformed and pointed towards Him? Zechariah did as He allowed God to work in his life and knew he would and could father this child God had given him. He trusted God for his child’s future and knew God would take care of him. Think back to your own God moment. Have you been open to God’s leading in your life? Have you doubted and wasted time arguing with God? Have you been saying, ‘Later God, not now?” Acknowledge God and ask Him to lead you in His way and see how your life’s path will be transformed. Remember the promise of 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.” Claim His promises in your life and trust Him for the plans, hope and future He has for you.

Linda

Reboot your Basic Doctrines in Titus

And the journey continues….Titus. This letter is short but powerful! Paul wrote this letter to his beloved gentile convert Titus to encourage his ministry in Crete. Titus had worked alongside him in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. After Ephesus Paul sent him to Corinth to work in the church there. Following Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment, he and Titus journeyed to Crete to bring them the gospel message. Paul continued on and left Titus to work there strengthening the brothers and sisters in Christ by teaching and leading them. The last mention of Titus in is 2 Timothy 4:10 where Timothy mentions Titus went to Dalmatia, which is present day Yugoslavia. Paul’s letter is filled with basic doctrines emphasizing who Christ is and the life He desires us to live through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. When I visited Crete in 2016, the people continue to revere Titus, claiming they have his skull which they place prominently in a main church in downtown Heraklion. They credit Titus with the establishment of Christianity on their island.

There are two passages I dearly love in the book of Titus because of their clarity in proclaiming Christ as our Savior and Lord. See if you don’t agree.

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Paul’s message is clear: salvation for all people, turn from ungodliness, devote ourselves to God, look forward with expectation to Christ’s return, live our lives free from sin and be committed to Him. All this is possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit, praise God!

Titus 3:4-7  “But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Paul here emphasizes we are saved because of God’s grace and mercy, forgiven, and generously filled with His Holy Spirit through the power of faith in Christ. Christ has made us right before holy God and with that knowledge we can live confident lives assured of our salvation and eternal life with Him.

These basic doctrines are filled with hope and assurance based on God’s mercy and grace to us by sending Jesus to save us and cleanse us from all our sins. What is your response to this marvelous outpouring of love towards you? I am reminded of Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Thank you Jesus.

Linda

How can you get what you need today? Know Jesus, He knows you!

One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden.  It is recounted in John 20:14-18.  Mary had been to the tomb and seen and heard the angels say that Jesus was not there. They had said He was risen.  However, she was so overcome with grief that it had yet to truly register with her brain.    They (the angels) said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 

This scene touches me as it only took Jesus saying her name for her to recognize Him.  In John 10:27 Jesus told the disciples that the ones who know Him will recognize His voice and follow Him  ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Mary knew immediately that it was her Lord saying her name.  She was instantly comforted and wanted to touch Him.  He cautioned her not to touch him, but to go and tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord!  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Mary needed to have the Savior’s touch.  He touched her with His voice and He gave her the reassurance that all would be well.  Jesus confirmed He had indeed risen and that He was alive!  Jesus showed her that there is eternal Hope in Him!  She got all of those reassurances from Jesus just saying her name!

What do you need Jesus to say to you today?  Do you need Him to call you by name, give you a word of encouragement, a word of guidance, or simply a word of Hope?  He can say and do it all- if you just ask Him.   Seek Him today and He will be found!    

  Linda 

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Today the garden tomb is a very peaceful spot in Jerusalem.

Holy Week, Saturday, Where’s Jesus?

Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb by his friend Joseph of Arimathea.  Scripture gives us some hints as to what Jesus was doing between the time of his burial and resurrection.  There is a lot of debate by scholars on the subject, but it is agreed that Jesus was in Hades preaching and teaching.  Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Jesus descending and leading captives as he ascended into heaven.  1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to spirits in prison. We can be assured that he was not in the tomb waiting around but doing God’s Work.

Why is scripture basically silent on this period of time?  Probably because it is of little importance to us as believers.  The gospel essence is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  His power over death is so miraculous and life giving that our focus needs to be on our redemption and His victory.  We also know that Jesus was always about His Father’s business.  “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I , too, am working.”  John 5:17  God always has a purpose and a plan, and Jesus was always doing the Father’s work.  So on this silent day we can ask ourselves, Am I doing what God wants me to do?  Am I using the time God has given me to pray, study, witness and do good things for others?  Quietly think about God today as you prepare for Resurrection Sunday.   Know for sure the truth of Isaiah’s ancient words:    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!”   Isaiah 52:7

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can wait upon Him with assurance and hope knowing my future is secure and all His plans are for my good and His glory!

Blessings as we await His resurrection,

Linda

Is this You? Unwavering in Faith and Bold in Speech?

Paul has spent many verses in Chapter 1 of Colossians explaining the supremacy of Christ the Son and the benefits of faith in Him. In the last verse of Chapter 1, he reminds us that all those benefits of faith come to the faithful. He is not suggesting if we fail in our faithfulness that we would lose our salvation but that the true benefit of a daily walk with Jesus would be lost to us. Colossians 1:23 “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

Each of us, like Paul, are commissioned to tell others of the Good News of Jesus. Matthew 28: 18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Accepting this commission from Christ, leads us to speak boldly about Christ and His Good News for the world. Do you hear yourself speaking boldly for Christ? Likewise, we are instructed to stand firm, unwavering, in the truth of the gospel. The gospel is the truth that Christ came and died on the cross and rose from the dead so that we might be reconciled to God and have a relationship with Him for eternity. What better news could there ever be? Through Christ we are new creations! We are loved and cherished by God. So our job as believers is to tell others this good news and to stand firm in His truth.

What happens if we don’t stand firm? James says without the wisdom and knowledge of God we will be tossed and pulled in many ways resulting in not knowing what is right and wrong, being unstable in our faith. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8 Are you plagued by indecision or errant thoughts? Give them to God and ask Him for wisdom and stability in your faith. Dive into His Word and learn about Him. He will keep your faith stable and on a steady course. He will give you the words to speak boldly for Him and remain steadfast in your faith!

Be encouraged today and stand firmly rooted and grounded in your faith. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Let us hold to our faith and proclaim the Good News to a hurting and lost world. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can proclaim the Good News of love and redemption and hold onto a faith that is strong and unwavering through the power of Christ in me.

Linda