A different look at Ephesians beginning with Heaven-what a place!

summerI have been praying and pondering what God wants me to write about this summer. What has come to mind over and over is that He is telling me I’m not done with Ephesians.  The book of Ephesians was the foundation of my Lenten journey this year.  I worked my way through the entire book in the 6 week of Lent.  It was a rich time in Word of God,  and I was mightily blessed.  How He is leading me to write on these subjects again is to start with the lessons and truths revealed in Ephesians and search scripture for other passages that confirm the same or very similar truths.  I will not attempt to do all of the truths He revealed during our Lenten journey but as many as I can.  I am looking forward to a rich time in God’s Word these summer months.

Ephesians 1 3 ImBlessedEphesians 1:3 “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”    The truth is:   God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.  

What kind of spiritual blessings does scripture tell us we have in heaven and some that start right here on earth- here are a few I found. (Believe me the Word is filled with references to heaven and these are but a few of the blessings.)

David wrote of the physical blessings of the heavens that we have shown to us through creation itself.  Psalm 8:3-9  (a foretaste of the glories of heaven)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

We can see and know God’s handiwork even before we get to heaven.  The heavens also declare God’s righteousness, faithfulness and justice.

Psalm 36:5 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Psalm 50:6 “The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! 

Jesus said that repentance and persecution bring blessings in heaven.  Matthew 5:10-12 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

John 6 passages promise eternal life from, Jesus, the bread of heavenJohn 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

2 Corinthians 5:1-2 talks about our new heavenly home, body,  made by God, 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,”

In heaven,  all things will be united and we will have a place at his right hand, (a place of honor)  Ephesians 1:10 and 20  “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”

Peter describes our inheritance that is safe guarded in heaven, 1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Lastly, Revelation is filled with picture images of the new heaven God will create for our dwelling place for  all eternity.  Revelation 21:1-2 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

The greatest blessing of heaven,  now and in the future,  is that Christ died for you and me so we can experience these spiritual blessings.  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Spiritual-Blessings-in-Christ-I pray you have the blessing of knowing Christ and are looking forward to these eternal blessings that await us in heaven.  May you marvel at the beauty of heaven to come, the safety, completeness and glory we will see there.  Be encouraged today as you meditate on these passages.  This is our inheritance and a place all believers can look forward to in their future.  Praise God!

Linda

 

 

3rd Sunday of Lent, 2020 Need a place to worship? Join us on YouTube

This second week of Lent has given us important action verbs of faith from Ephesians- brought near, united as one Spirit and family,  founded in Christ, privileged in faith and having access to Almighty God.  What a week filled with truths in the midst of panic, fear and doubt due to the Corona-19 virus.   New words have occurred- social distancing and self-quarantining that seek to limit and restrain us.  The truths from Ephesians are free, open and available even in a crisis.  They will transform our lives, assure us in faith and move us forward together in Christ.  Let the truths from Ephesians 2 and 3 seep into your soul and let the Holy Spirit use them to transform your faith.  Let them replace any fears you are feeling.

Truths:

  •  we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ.   Ephesians 2:13
  • we are one in Spirit.   Ephesians 2: 14,18
  • we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.  Ephesians 2:19-23
  • we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  Ephesians 3:6
  • we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world.   Ephesians 3:7-11
  • we have access to the Father in prayer.  Ephesians 3:12

Blessings as you worship today- in most places virtually,  as we practice social distancing due to the Corona-19 Virus.  Our church service will be live streamed on YouTube today-you can tune in at 10:30 am PST to hear our worship band and Pastor Aaron Gonzenbach preach from the Word.  You simply type:  wearecrossroads  into Youtube and it should take you there.

Blessings as you seek to live fearlessly for Him,

Linda

 

The Cross = a family plan filled with blessings in Christ

Chapter 3 of Ephesians begins with Paul telling us that he is a minister for Christ among the Gentiles,  and that he is charged with presenting the mystery of the gospel.  This mystery was not fully known or understood until Christ came bringing His message ephesians 3 6of redemption for all.  It was not completely exposed until the coming of the Holy Spirit which would indwell and empower believers to spread the gospel to all mankind.   Paul’s instruction about the mystery of God’s plan ends with Ephesians 3:6, “ And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”   

A few salient truths emerge in this verse:    God’s plan is open to  everyone, the message of being in God’s family through faith in Jesus is Good News!, as the family of God we are all in this together as His children (brothers and sisters in Christ), and we all can share in the blessing promised to us by Jesus (salvation, heavenly home, indwelling Holy Spirit, access to the Father, justification, sanctification, …..).   What a glorious list of truths that we can know and be assured of through our faith in Jesus.   Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  The mystery of God’s plans for redeeming mankind are yes in Christ!

Ephesians 1 3 ImBlessedLet these truths impact your life today as you speak with others and seek to serve them in the name of Christ.  Here is a great verse to remind us of the blessings we have in Christ from Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”  

Have a wonderful day!

Linda

P.S.  Please pray for the health and safety of the people of the world and that this crisis will turn many to Christ as their source of hope and life.

 

#6 Practicing Your Devotion to God-by Repentance

Sin is something we all have to deal with in our lives.  We were born sinners, with a sin nature.  You only need to look at the willfulness of a small child to see they came that  sin separatesway with a rebellious, willful nature built inside.  It was not something they learned.  However, as we grow we learn to sin even more by fulfilling our own desires.  Adam and Eve fulfilled their own desires in the garden of Eden when they willfully sinned against God by eating of the forbidden tree, the tree of good and evil.

Each of us needs to come to the realization that we are sinners and approach God with a sin bridge Jesusrepentant heart asking Him to forgive us through faith in Jesus Christ.   Our faith in Jesus allows us to be cleansed and made whole.  However, we still have that sin nature within us and we need to grow and learn about Jesus, depend upon Him and stay repentant to walk with Him by faith.  Our heart’s desire is to walk with Jesus and grow more and more like him.  Sanctification describes this process in our lives and it is the work of the Holy Spirit within us that enables us to grow stronger in Christ and sin less.

David knew the key to a clean and whole existence with God was to be repentant and humble, confessing his sins to God.  Psalm 32 describes David’s thoughts about this:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,            Repentance brings blessing.
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away                  Being unrepentant can cause
    through my groaning all day long.                                              you physical illness.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,                                               David resolves to repent with
    and I did not cover my iniquity;                                                 an openness to God.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Psalm 51:1-2, 10    David knew that God alone was able to forgive sin and lays his sins before Him.   He knew he was unworthy of forgiveness but trusted God in his infinite mercy to forgive him.

psalm 51 1Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

He knew God alone could create a new heart within him.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.

What about you?  Do you know the truth and reality of 1 John 1:9 ?  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   This is a promise we can claim and depend upon.   God is faithful and will keep His promise to forgive all our sins.  All we need to do is confess and have a repentant heart before Him.

Practice repentance daily for a closer walk with Jesus.

Linda

Are you thankful? For how long???

psalm 30 12You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

David described his state of thanksgiving as being eternal in Psalm 30:11-12 .  Why was he going to be thankful forever?  Earlier in the Psalm David said God had lifted him out of the pit, saved him from his enemies, healed him physically and spiritually, had shown him forgiveness and favor.  David had experienced God’s forgiveness as he mourned Romans 4 8over his sins.   In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32  ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”  Experiencing God’s forgiveness, seeing that God had covered his sins and that his sins would never be used against him in judgement made David eternally thankful and filled him with joy.

What about you?  Have you experienced God’s hand lifting you out of despair or trouble, has He rescued you from your enemies or from a really bad situation?  Has God touched you physically or spiritually to heal you?  Have you been given favor by God in blessings you did not expect and in no way deserved?  God had shown himself faithful to David,  and David recognized this.  His responds was eternal thanks that was filled with joy.  What is your response to God’s grace and forgiveness in your life?

GraceandGratitudeBegin today to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving that is based on God’s grace and forgiveness.  You will experience joy from now to eternity.

Linda

Seeing God’s response to me, brings thankfulness!

A-Thankful-HeartPsalm 28 is a thankful response from David for God’s deliverance.  I want to focus on the verses 6-9.   What was David thankful for in these verses that we know to be absolutely true of God?

Praise the Lord!                                                       
For he has heard my cry for mercy.                 God is accessible, He hears our prayers.
The Lord is my strength and shield.                   God is our protector.
I trust him with all my heart.                                  God is trustworthy.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.                    God gives us joy.

The Lord gives his people strength.                     God gives us strength to meet the day.
    He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
Save your people!                                                    God saves those who believe in Him.
Bless Israel, your special possession.                 God blesses.
Lead them like a shepherd,                                     God is our good shepherd.
    and carry them in your arms forever.               God is eternal and saves us for                                                                                                                        eternity with Him.

attributes of GodFor which of these attributes are you most thankful today?  I had a friend tell me yesterday that when times are hard she focuses on her joy in the Lord.  What about you?  As you go through today, meditate on God’s goodness and blessings towards you, then take time to thank Him.

Blessings,

Linda

From Sin to Blessing because of Jesus

Paul makes a case for the blessed man in Romans.  He is talking about the blessed state of  a man who has faith.  He is blessed by God because of his faith and trust in Him and the man did or does nothing to earn that blessedness.  It is a gift from God through Jesus.   Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32 in Romans 4:6-8.

just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Romans 4 7 8Our blessedness comes from God and has nothing to do with our ‘works’ as it is all God working in us.  Only God can forgive sin and through Jesus’ shed blood God covers our sins.  He does not count our sins against us!  Now that is blessedness!  The believer is mightily blessed by God through his faith and trust in God.  Jesus’ work on the cross eradicates our sin and presents us whole and blameless before Almighty God.

Thank you Jesus for your work on my behalf!

faith inMay you have a blessed day as you consider your privileged position before God- pure, blameless and saved from eternal destruction through your faith in Jesus the Son.

Linda

Blessings, what are they?

I have had a very hard week but feel blessed by God.  That started me thinking about blessings and where scripture tells us we are blessed.  What does blessing look like to God?  First, I wanted to start with a definition of blessing.  The dictionary says: a gift of divine favor, good wishes or approval, anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune.   I can see my week’s events were a blessing as God granted me divine favor and prevented severe misfortune.

Psalm 1 is a great place to start looking at blessings or being blessed.  This psalm describes the way of the believer and the blessings that way brings.

blessed is the manBlessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The blessed man doesn’t seriously listen to the advice of unbelievers, do the things they do or make fun of godly things.  The blessed man loves God’s Word and thinks about it all the time.  He is deeply rooted by God and shows growth in both his faith and his life.  He prospers in all he does.   The psalmist contrasts this picture of one who loves God with the unbeliever.

The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Unbelievers are tossed to and fro with the ideas of the world. They are not grounded in God’s Word and faith in Him so they will perish.

As you meditate today, think about your life and ask yourself, Am I like the blessed man?  Do I hunger after God’s Word and think about it a lot?  Am I deeply rooted in God’s Word, and am I standing firm in faith where ever God has me?  If your answers are yes, you are on you way towards blessingsBeing in God’s Word and walking in God’s way gives happiness and guides us away from misfortune.  Even if we go through hard times Jesus is with us. Therefore, by definition we are blessed!

willienelson1Count your blessings today as you strive to walk with Him in His way,

Linda 

Praise and Thanksgiving on our lips today! Good-bye 2018!

On this last day of 2018, we conclude with the final chorus of the Messiah.  The scene is the throne room of heaven in John’s vision and Jesus is being praised and worshiped.  Revelation 5:9-13

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of worthy-is-the-lambthousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

They begin by singing a new song. In the Old Testament, a new song was sung to celebrate and act of divine deliverance or blessing.  Here the creatures and angels are praising Jesus, the Lamb, who delivered all mankind through his blood.  Jesus is worthy to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, honor and blessing because of the ransom He paid with His blood on the cross.  All heaven and earth will praise Him!  What a glorious scene this will be.  Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, is Worthy of all Praise!

1 Thess 5 18And so… what a fitting way to end our year.  Let us praise our Savior and Redeemer.  Let your lips utter praise today for all this last year has brought both good and bad.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”   Ponder the difficulties you’ve had in your life this year  in G-R-I-Tlight of James 1:2-4Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let us take the adversity we experienced and the blessings we received and offer them up to Jesus today as and offering of praise and thanksgiving.

Linda

The Conclusion of the Messiah

Biblical A,B,C’s- let’s take a look!

As I have been praying about writing after the Lenten season, the Lord has renewed my conviction that His Word is essential to our Christian walk and good spiritual health.  I am going to walk through Psalm 119 in successive weeks stopping to blog and meditate on selected verses.  I pray you will be blessed as we journey through this magnificent Psalm together.

Pslam 119:1-2

psalm 119 1-2Aleph

Joyful are people of integrity,
    who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
    and search for him with all their hearts. (NLT)

This psalm is known as an acrostic as it goes through the Hebrew alphabet, aleph to taw.  Each section has 8 verses and are all about God’s Word.  In these opening verses the Psalmist tells us that joy is to be had in following God’s Word, walking in obedience and seeking after God.  Can you agree with the psalmist?  Do you find joy in reading and knowing God’s Word?   Does walking in obedience make your life more joyful and keep you in touch with God?  Do you hunger for a deep meaningful relationship with God and seek Him out each day?

Nehemiah 8:9-10 tells what happened when the people of God heard the word read to them.  Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.     And Nehemiah  continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”   How does the Word of God affect you?  The Israelites were sad and grieved over their sins as God’s Word revealed to them how they were sinning and not walking with Him.  Then Nehemiah reminded them that a right relationship with God brings joy and strength from the Lord!  Their repentance brought them into a place of joy in the Lord.  Offer up a prayer with a repentant heart right now, then claim His joy and strength in your day.

Jeremiah 29 13As we journey through this psalm, claim the joy that God has for you as you seek him with a humble and repentant heart.  Remember, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

Seeking God and a right attitude,

Linda