Advent: a Journey, a Delivery, a Joy Realized

My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men yet, but they truly did not arrive until about 2 years after Jesus’ birth and provided monies for Joseph and Mary when they fled to Egypt. I’ll continue with their part in the story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.

This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin- Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.

Linda

Advent, Sunday #2 Preparation for Blessings

The second Sunday of Advent is when the candle of faith or love is lit. Both of these proclaim the blessing to come because of God’s great love for us, by sending Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. This week we will focus on the angel’s appearance to Mary, her reaction, the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah, and their reactions to his birth besides the fact that dad could now talk! Prepare your hearts and minds to reach into scripture and discover new meaning for yourself as you read the scripture with faith. Faith pleases God and through our faith in Jesus He blesses us with His love and peace. He also gives us understand and insights into His Word- so be prepared to be blessed this week.

I will leave you today with this Psalm 92:1-5 and 12-15

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.

92 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
    to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
    at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O Lord!
    Your thoughts are very deep!

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
    they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the Lord is upright;
    he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Have a blessed day!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 22: God can use you to bless others!

Have you ever thought, I don’t have the energy, time or money to do another good thing for someone else? Or I’m used up so let God choose someone else to do this or someone else to meet this need? Today’s verses from 2 Corinthians 9:7-9 address these questions and needs and shows us how to keep our priorities straight and God focused.

Paul writes, Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” He was mainly addressing the giving that Titus was going to be collecting when he arrived in Corinth. The churches were collecting moneys for the destitute Christians in Jerusalem. Paul knew that the Corinthians were generous but wanted to remind them of how much their giving pleased God and the benefits of giving to both the giver and receiver.

I want to focus on verse 8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” This principle of blessing when we give is applies to all things- money, time and our talents. God promises to meet all our needs from His great riches and give abundantly- not just adequately, but abundantly so we can abound, thrive and excel in doing His good works. If we look to Jesus, He will supply all our needs. That is cause for thanksgiving and celebration!! God blesses us as we give out of what we have. We don’t do His work for the blessings that will come but out of our love for Him. The blessings are a byproduct of serving Him.

Thank Him today for His blessings and the opportunities He gives to serve Him.

Linda

Is there a blessing for me?

copyright szefei

The Stream of Water for this week is all of Deuteronomy 33. In this chapter Moses delivers a blessing for each of the tribes of Israel by name. As I read through them, I marveled at the complete knowledge God has of tribe. He knew their past, present and future. He knew where their weaknesses and strengths were. We can take comfort in the fact that God knows all those things about us too. It brought to mind 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.” God has plans for each of us just like He did for the Israelites.

The portion of this passage that is most meaningful to me is verses 26-29. “There is no one like the God of Israel.
    He rides across the heavens to help you,
    across the skies in majestic splendor.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and his everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
    he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety,
    prosperous Jacob in security,
in a land of grain and new wine,
    while the heavens drop down dew.
29 How blessed you are, O Israel!
    Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
He is your protecting shield
    and your triumphant sword!
Your enemies will cringe before you,
    and you will stomp on their backs!”

I love His message to me: 26- God is my helper no matter where I am He is with me. 27- God is eternal and always supports and protects me. 28- God has my safety in mind and has new provisions for me. 29- God is my protector, defender and always has my back! These same promises can be found elsewhere in the Bible as God desires us to know that He is for us and wants us to live full, productive lives grounded and protected by in His love.

May the God of Israel show Himself to you today as He comes alongside you to love, protect, defend and support you. Trust Him as Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” God keeps His promises. Live today like you really believe it!

Linda

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