#8 Practicing Devotion to God-by Focusing on our Savior

How do you go about focusing on Christ as your Savior?   Christ is our example, our brother, our Lord, our guide, intercessor…. but what about Savior?  Focusing on Jesus as Savior will increase your love and devotion for Him.

Here are a few verses that point us towards Christ and all He has done for us in saving romans 5 8us.  Romans 5:8 “ but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”    God so loved us, even as sinners, that he sent Jesus to redeem and save us through His death on the cross.  Imagine a love that great as to sacrifice your son for you and me!   1 Peter 2:24-25 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”    Christ died on the cross so that we might live wholly, complete and be presented blameless before God.  1 peter 2 24He willingly gave Himself to save us!  He healed us in His death from our sin and unrighteousness.  Now instead of wandering in a world of sin,  we are kept and looked after by the great Shepherd who looks out for our souls.  What a wonderful picture of our loving God and Savior.  

Today as you meditate on Christ, your Savior, think about all He has done for you personally.  Where would you be today without your Savior?  What would your future be like?   We, as believers, have much to be thankful for in having a wonderful Savior in Jesus the Christ.

Linda

#5 Practicing Devotion to God-Knowing your Identity

As we grow and mature in life we go through a process of learning to know who we are.  We struggle with self-esteem, motivation and self-discovery.  As a Christian, we also go through this as we learn who we are in Christ, and how much we are loved by God.  I personally did not really learn to love and appreciate myself until I got a grasp on how much God loved me,  and how important I am to Him.  This knowledge gave me worth in His eyes and was more powerful in shaping me than anyone or anything.

God tells us who we are to Him in His WordPsalm 139 is filled with His love for us.  Here are a few verses: 1-6, 14-15

Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
pslam 139 14You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it….. 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.

Isaiah also gives us a picture of God’s love for us in Isaiah 43:1-2, 4,7

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah 43 74 Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,

7 everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

galatians 2 20God loves us beyond measure and we were created for His glory. His love was ultimately shown when He sent Christ to die for our sins and restore us to relationship with Him that was broken by sin.  Galatians 2:20 gives Paul’s testimony of who He is in Christ.  Let it be ours too.  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I pray that as you meditate on these verses you will catch of glimpse of how much God loves you and desires a relationship with you.  You are important to Him!  Know that you you-are loved by Godwere loved even before you were created and you are held precious in His eyes.  That is true worth,  to know and understand you are loved by God.  Let your life be governed by His love and let your identity be in and with Christ.

Linda

Seeing the Savior is life changing, just ask the shepherds

shepherd mangerLuke 2:15-20  “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds had a glorious encounter with angels that prompted them to go and seek the child born in Bethlehem.  Their second encounter that day was seeing their Lord and Savior in the flesh, the one that had come to earth to save mankind.  Luke 2:11 was the glorious message they had received, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  People were amazed when they heard their message and Mary treasured what they said and stored it away in her heart.   They all had personally encountered the Savior, Jesus.

jesus saviorGod showed the world their Savior and proclaimed his work on earth even at this humble beginning.  God reached down and rescued sinners from the penalty of death and hell that our sin deserves.  We cannot save ourselves from sin because we are dead in our sin.  God had a plan from eternity past to save His children fully from sin- from the penalty, power and presence of sin.  He sent His Son to live the perfect life we cannot live and die in our place for our sin.  Savior Jesus took all the punishment for our sin and saves us completely.  Romans 5:8 reminds us of God’s motivation for sending His Son and our true condition, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  I love the explanation of why and how God did what He did in Titus 3:4-7 “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Through faith we reap the benefits of His love, eternal life, His righteousness in our lives, the indwelling Holy Spirit, His grace, mercy, hope and become heirs with Christ.   We know and serve an amazing Savior.  Thank you Jesus.

What do you do with the message of Jesus the Messiah, Savior who is the Christ? Are you excited, awed and motivated to tell everyone of your Savior?  As you go through your day, think about the message the shepherds received.  Ask yourself, what am I jesus reason for the seasondoing about the Savior who is Christ the Lord?  Am I telling others of His wonderful love, salvation, hope and eternal life?  If not, why not?  Christ is the reason for this season as His is the message of Hope for all mankind.  Spread the word!

Linda

Opportunities?? Thank you Jesus.

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”  Colossians 3:16-17 

colossians-3-17Having an attitude of gratitude is what Paul is talking about in Colossians.  He commends us to be filled with Christ and be used to bless each others lives with thankful hearts.  The ministry we have with each other is to be done with thankfulness because we are being representatives of Jesus to each other.  That is a staggering thought that God considers me to be Jesus’ representative when I talk with my neighbors, greet strangers, do my job at work and talk with my family day to day.  Our Jesus ‘face’ is not just for Sunday or when we desire to be like Him but all day every day.  Paul is teaching us that everything we say and do reflects on Jesus.  His final words in this passage are that we should thank God for all these opportunities.

Todayface the world with the Love of Jesus in your heart knowing that you represent Him before all that you meet.  Thank God for every person and opportunity that comes your way with an attitude of gratitude.  Now that is kingdom living at its best!

Have a blessed day filled with encounters for Jesus,

Linda

Are you in the crowd? Why did Jesus come to you?

There is one other post-resurrection appearance I want to think about as we wait for Pentecost.  Paul recounts to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the appearances between Christ’s purposeful death and resurrection and His ascension back into heaven. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,(Christ died and rose again with purpose foretold in scripture)and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (Paul is referring to his encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus that happened sometime later.)

eyewitnessesHave you ever wondered about the large gathering of 500 that saw Jesus?  What was His purpose?  In each post-resurrection appearance, Jesus purposefully met with those who needed to see Him most- the grieving Mary, the doubting Thomas, the guilt ridden Peter and the unbelieving disciples.  What could have been His reason for appearing to 500?  Perhaps He wanted those who did not know Him as intimately as the disciples to experience His love and power first hand?  Perhaps He wanted to make known the reality that He was alive and they could carry on.  Perhaps He wanted to comfort, ignite, give hope, ….  Seeing Him again, knowing the reality of His death on the cross, knowing He had been buried and was alive for them to see must have been eyeopening, challenging, fearsome, awesome, unbelievable…..  One can only imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus.

Today as you think about this, try to picture yourself as one of the 500.  We have an advantage as we have His indwelling Holy Spirit within us to convict us and bear witness to our faith.  We do not need to see Him to believe.  Jesus addressed this issue in John 20:29 as He spoke to Thomas.  Jesus said to him, “Have you john 20 29 #2believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”   Faith is a blessing from God.   Thank Him today for your ability to believe even though you were not there with the 500. You can know that He loves, cares for you and is with you always.

Linda

Ascension Day- up He goes!

Acts-1-1-11-The-Ascension40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.  His ascension is recorded in Mark, Luke and the book of Acts.  It took place on a mountain top in the vicinity of Bethany according to Luke 24:50-51 “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”  Mark also adds in Jesus’ destination after His ascension, Mark 16:19 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”   In the  book of Acts, Luke, the author, gives us a more complete picture of this event.  Acts 1:9-11 “And after He said these things, He was caught up as they looked on, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight. 10 While they were looking intently into the sky as He was going, two men in white clothing suddenly stood beside them, 11 who said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

The disciples who were focused on where Jesus went and  the angels assured them that Jesus will return in the same way He left.   Jesus had lovingly told them that He would send a helper to guide and empower them in His absence.  Acts 1:7-8 “He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”  Jesus wanted His followers to be about telling others of the kingdom and the good news of the salvation and forgiveness available to each one though Jesus.   The promised Holy Spirit would come upon them in just 10 days at Pentecost and then the truth of Christ and His work would revolutionize the world!  

Christs returnAre you anticipating the return of Christ?  Be encouraged with these words from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

apologetics-1-peter-3-15-28354Are you telling others about your Savior as you wait?  Be encouraged by Peter’s words: 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”   Be ready to tell others of your HOPE in Jesus!

Have a blessed Ascension Day, and may our prayer be, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus”.

Linda

Loving Jesus Requires Faith in Action

Today’s post-resurrection appearance is a continuation of the fishing scene I wrote about in Encountering Jesus brings on May 17, 2019.  When they (Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, John and James and  two other disciples) had followed Jesus’ instructions and cast their nets as He directed, they hauled in a great catch.  Jesus had a welcoming fire waiting on the beach and beckoned them to bring some fish for roasting.   They ate together and then Jesus spoke to Peter.

john 21 15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. ”  John 21:15-17

Jesus had previously had an encounter with Peter where I’m sure they dealt with Peter’s great guilt over his denial.  (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5)  Scholars put this first appearance to Peter on Resurrection Sunday where this encounter in Galilee is later.  Here it would seem Jesus is making a point of asking Peter about his proclaimed love for Him.  He asks 3 times, like his denials.  Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and if he does, then Peter is to show his love for His sheep.  He is to feed or tend to His sheep.  Throughout the gospels sheep have been synonymous with followers and my sheep specifically believers in Jesus.   John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Jesus is the good shepherd who died for all believers.  John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,”  and John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Jesus is asking Peter to demonstrate his love for Him by leading, tending, loving, caring for, guiding, protecting…. those who are believers in Jesus.  He is saying ‘be a good shepherd’ to the flock of believers that come into your life.

Isn’t that what Jesus wants for us too?  As believers, like Peter, we are to look out for others, lead them towards Jesus, care for them, show them kindness and give that ‘cup of cold water’ in His name.  Knowing Jesus, requires us to take up this ‘job’ and love others.  We do it not because we have to but because we love Jesus.  James tells us faith without works is dead (James 2:26 ) and loving and showing Jesus to others is our compelling love Jesuswork for Him.  We do it not out of obligation or for future reward but out of love for our Savior.  Who will you show love to today?  Who will you ‘feed or tend’ in Jesus’ name?

Linda

It was given in a word, her name.

One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary in the garden.  It is recounted in John 20:14-18.  She was at the tomb, had seen the angels and heard them say that Jesus was not there but risen.  However, she was so overcome with grief 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 john-20-16be 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 john 20 18my 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.  He confirmed he was risen, was the Messiah and that  He was alive.  He showed her that there was eternal Hope in Him!  She got all of that from Jesus 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 and He will be found, today!    

  Linda 

IMG_0465
Today the garden tomb is a very peaceful spot in Jerusalem.

What’s your fragrance like?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the aroma of Christ about me. Paul wanted the Ephesians, and us too, to think about the effect we have on others when we are around them. You can tell if someone bathes regularly, uses special soap or shampoo or is wearing a fragrance, but you can also smell one who does not bathe regularly, who ate garlic or onions recently or who is wearing an offensive fragrance. Paul says we have the ‘smell’ of Christ. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16a This is a sobering thought that to other believers or those who are open to Christ we the aroma of Christ. This aroma is pleasing to God and reminds them of life and brings knowledge of Christ to them. However, to the unbeliever the aroma of Christ and His presence in our life through His indwelling Holy Spirit smells of death, condemnation and judgement.

Today as we consider our presence in the lives of others, let us ask ourselves, Do I have the aroma of Christ about me? Can others smell His presence in my life? How strong or weak is my fragrance? If you think you are only fragrant enough for God to smell you, spend some time in His Word or in prayer or with other Christians or in worship or listening to Christian music. All of those will strengthen your fragrance towards God and others.

Linda

Suggestion: spend some time today in a fragrance a building activity- in the Word, prayer, worship, fellowship or listening to Christian music. Remember your presence speaks to others.

Love, where does it come from?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have love for others. Jesus was very emphatic that as Christians we are to show love for one another. First we are to love God then others. Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Jesus also spoke of loving others in John 15:12, 15 “My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” “This is my command:Love each other.”

Why is loving others so important? It shows we strive to be like Jesus. His character and love are perfect and He desires that we grow to reflect Him. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” What is this love supposed to look like? Romans 12:10 gives us direction. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Hebrews 10:24 tells us it is to be a continual thought in our minds, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.

Where does this loving and honoring attitude come from? Since Jesus commands it, when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior His spirit indwells us and empowers us for right living! Paul eloquently wrote to the Ephesians in 3:17b-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Being filled with the love of Christ leads us into a life filled with love and good deeds towards others.

Linda

Suggestion: Ask God to send you someone special to love with His love today.