Freedom isn’t free, there is always a cost

Freedom-DaysI want to wish each of you a Happy 4th.  The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks.  But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us.  The freedom we enjoy in America was bought with a price.  The cost to those that came before us was filled with sacrifice, hope and struggle.  It continues to cost those who labor daily in the military to ensure our freedom.  Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure, defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children.  We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society.  Is this possible? Actually,  I believe it is NOT possible without Christ.  He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.

Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1.  Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own: you have been bought at  price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”   Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ and that it should be their desire and ours to honor God in all we say and do.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Christ  died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him.  The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  He bought us with a price, his life.  He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death.  My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.

I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity.   Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone.  He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.

freedomToday as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.

Thankful today,

Linda

Where does your strength come from?

god is my strength 1We know that God is mighty in strength as scripture is filled with references to God’s strength.  David praised God’s strength in his song of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16:10-11 when he had the ark brought to Jerusalem. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.11 Look to the Lord and his strength;  seek his face always.”   David knew seeking God was the correct action to receive strength at all times. Later in Psalms he writes how God strengthen his heart in Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail,  but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” , equips and brings righteousness with His strength Psalm 18:32 “the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”, and His strength brings blessing Psalm 84:5 “Blessed are those whose strength is in you,  in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” 

There are so many others who wrote about God’s strength.   Isaiah proclaimed God’s strength for those in need in Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength“. Habakkuk proclaimed God’s strength and ability to lift him above his circumstances in Habakkuk 3:19 “God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;  he makes me tread on my high places.” 

god is my strengthIn the New Testament we are encouraged to seek God’s strength through prayer. Luke 21:36 Jesus exhorts the disciples to pray for the strength to combat the temptations of the world that would lead us astray,  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Paul reminds us in Ephesians to pray for strength that comes through faith and trust in Christ, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,”  Ephesians 3:14-18  In Philippians Paul pens one of my favorite verses about God’s strength, I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

GodismystrengthWhat do you know and feel about God’s strength?  Is His strength accessible to you in prayer? Do you ask for His strength daily in your life or only when you are in times of great need?  Scripture shows us that God’s strength is available to us so that we may be strong of heart, filled with love and conviction for Christ, equipped to do His work and to be able to stand in adversity.  Philippians 4:13 would even go so far as to say God can make the impossible possible through His strength.  Do not be lacking in strength because you neglected to pray and ask for strength.  Jesus said in John 16:24 “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  James 4:2 “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”   We know God desires us to Philippians-413be strong and living in His strength daily, so ask Him for  strength whenever you need it.

Be comforted and encouraged by His strength in your life today!

Linda

Is God your Rock?

God is my rockDavid was well aware of God as his Rock.  In Psalm 18:1-3 he uses this image of God when proclaiming his thanks for God’s strength in protecting him from murderous Saul.  David struggled with Saul chasing him and seeking to kill him for over 10 years.  David trusted God and His plan and timing to make him king.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.

Since David struggled for so many years against the elements as a shepherd, a boy facing Goliath, as a fugitive and as a king with many battles to face, the Psalms are filled with his reliance upon God as his rock and source of his faith.

psalm 19 14Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 62:1-2 “Truly my soul finds rest in God;  my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;  he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 71:1-3 “In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.”

David proclaims God as his Rock as well as fortress, deliverer, refuge, stronghold, salvation, redeemer and righteous God.  David knew from experience that God was faithful, and he could depend upon Him.  Can you proclaim who God is to you?  Let David’s words seep into you thoughts today and give you confidence and strength in God.  Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” and James 1:17 “ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ”   The God who David trusted and loved is the same God we serve.  He does not change from generation to generation and we can depend upon Him just like David.

god rock refugePrayer:  Thank you Father that you are the same yesterday, today and forever.  Your character and ideals do not change or shift with the times and whims of man.  You are my rock and can hold me steady as I face the storms in my life.  You are to be praised for you are always faithful and seek to do and bring good into my life.  Help me to be depend upon your strength and character so I may live fully for you.  Amen.

Linda

Come with me and praise His Name!

PowerPoint PresentationLast fall I was working on a series based on the names of God.   It is essential to our faith to learn as much about God as possible because the more we know God the more we can be assured He is who He says He is and will do all things He promises.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are incomprehensible (an attribute of God) and yet God desires that we know Him.  Our finite minds can only take in so much of our omniscient God, but we know from life’s experiences that we can grow and as we do we stretch ourselves to learn more.  I love this quote from Daniel 11:32b.  Daniel was in a very turbulent time and he wanted to encourage the people that knowing God would give them a firm foundation to withstand the trials of their present day. but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”   That is my prayer for us too, that knowing more about our God will cause us to stand firmly planted and willing and able to take action for Him.

Psalm 148 is a psalm of praise to God as the creator of all things about earth and the heavens.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;              
    praise him, all his hosts!

Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.        The psalmist call upon all people to praise His name because of all He has created in the heavens.  He continues….

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
    creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
    old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his saints,
    for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!                                                           The psalmist calls upon all people to praise the name of the one  who created all nature and peoples on the earth.  

psalm 148In verse 13 points us to the name of the creator, the Lord who is worthy of all our praise because He is above all, greater than all He created and He alone is worthy of our praise.  If we think the creation is wonderful, it is nothing compared to God himself.  The creation pales in comparison to the Creator God.  This psalm is a call to all of creation to praise the creator and a reminder that He is greater than all.

I challenge you this summer to come along with me to explore greater depths of God’s character as we look into the Word and focus on Who God is by name.  His name is worthy of all praise!

Linda

Remembering Father’s Day

 

 

Psalm 103:13 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”

Proverbs 23:24 “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.”

Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s approach has caused me to think reflectively about  my earthly father, Henry Beecher Chrisp. He was a loving father, but demanded that we behave well, work hard, show respect and not give up easily.  He loved to work with his hands building things and to fish.  Dad loved the outdoors by cultivating flowers, growing a vegetable garden or simply taking a hike or ride through the forest.  He had a deep faith in God.    He showed me God, the Father, through his compassion and love for me.  Dad was always one to love what we did and took pride in our accomplishments.

I hope your own father reminds you of God, the Father,  in some personal way.  I felt blessed and fortunate to have a father who loved me and wanted the best for me.  I know all earthly fathers are not like that.  Fortunately, we all have a perfect Heavenly Father we can look up to and depend upon.  He will always be there for us and promises to never leave us or forsake us.   Thank you Lord.

Have a blessed Father’s Day filled with good memories or activities with your father.

Linda

How easily we are distracted!

The last section of the Sea of Galilee post-resurrection appearance of Jesus involved both Peter and John.  Still impetuous Peter inquired of the Lord about the things the Lord knew about, and Jesus refocused him.  John 21:17-19 “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. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”   Peter was distressed at the Lord’s insistent questioning of his love and Jesus replied with a prophecy about Peter’s life and death to come and how he would bring glory to God.  What Jesus required of Peter was obedience- ‘follow me’!

Then Peter asked about John and received this reply from Jesus in verses 21-22. “When Peter saw him (John), he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”   Jesus wanted Peter’s focus to be on Him not on the future and what would happen to others.  As Jesus said, He would take care of John but Peter needed to focus on following Him.

John 21 22How can we be encouraged by this scene today?  Just like Peter, we need to focus our lives on following Jesus, being obedience to His Word and walking with Him daily.  We do not need to ‘worry’ about others or question Jesus about their work and walk.  We have enough to do to keep our own focus on Jesus.   This does not mean we are not concerned about others,  but Peter was just being nosy here and wanted to know what would happen to John in the future- is his better than mine type stuff?  Since the Lord’s answer was always “Follow me”, that is what is crucial in our life too.  Obedience to Jesus is what He desires.  Later Peter so beautifully 1 peter 1 22wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 

Let us take seriously our walk with Jesus and His command ‘Follow me!” May we let the distractions of the world fall away as we walk forward in obedience with our Savior.

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

Encountering Jesus brings….

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is in John 21.  This passage will bring a smile to your face and assurance of the Savior’s love,  as you picture the scene beside the Sea of Galilee.

Several of the disciples had gathered by the Sea of Galilee, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John and 2 other disciples (John 21:1-2) and Jesus appeared to them.

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with. you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was john 21 4Jesus.  He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.  He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”  When they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him(for the had taken it off) and jumped into the water.  The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about 100 yards.  When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”  Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore.  It was full of large fish, 153, but even with some say the net was not torn.  Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.  Jesus came , took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish  This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.   John 21:3-14    (The prior appearances were in the upper room, see blogs from April 26, May 10 and May 14)

I love this tender story of Jesus’ compassion for the tired discouraged fishermen who were his friends.  Here are a few Lessons and Truths we can know from this passage as what Jesus did for them that morning, He can do for us too:                                                    1.  Jesus knows how things are going in my life, my disappointments and my joys.              2.  Jesus considers me His friend.                                                                                                        3.  Jesus can guide and provide for my needs.                                                                                  4.  If I look, Jesus will reveal himself to me; He is always near.                                                    5.  Jesus makes himself known to me.                                                                                                6.  Jesus desires to commune with me.

John 20 10Which of these lessons and truths speak to you today?   James 4:8 tell us,  “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”   Meet Him today where ever you are, He will be there waiting for you just like He was for the disciples that morning by the sea.

Linda

Here is my picture of sunrise over the Sea of Galilee and the typical fishing boat used with tourist in Israel today.

Is Jesus personal to you?

Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups.  Jesus met Mary as I wrote about in the blog of May 3, 2019,  but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearance to Peter and James.  The appearance to Peter is mentioned in Peter appearancepassing in Luke 24:34 “saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  and in 1 Corinthians 15:5 by Paul “and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve”.   The Luke message was delivered to the disciples by the two men who Jesus met on the Road to Emmaus (blog of 4/23/2019).  Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his old name.   Jesus also referred to Peter by his old name when He told him he would deny Him three time before the rooster crowed. The prediction of the denial is recorded in both Matthew 26 and Mark 14.  The actual denial event is recorded in all 4 gospels, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18.   Peter was not acting with his new believing nature, clinging to the rock of faith which is Jesus, but with the old, impetuous, doubting nature of unbelieving Simon.  It shows great compassion from our Lord to singularly appear to Peter to forgive and restore him.  Jesus would have known the anguish and guilt Peter was feeling after his denial of Jesus the night before the Crucifixion.  The forgiven Peter went onward, never doubting nor denying his Lord and Savior again.  Jesus personally knows what we need and seeks to be there for each one of us.   What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.

The other post-resurrection appearance that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:7 was to James.  Scholars believe this was James the half-brother of Jesus and not one of the other followers named James.  His brother did not believe in Christ before the resurrection, but afterward became a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, wrote james appearancethe book of James and died a martyr’s death in 62 A.D.  “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”  This appearance speaks to me of Jesus’ compassion and love for his earthly family and for those who are lost.  2 Peter 3:9  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.   He knew James needed to see Him personally to be confronted with his unbelief.  Jesus does that for each one of us as we seek to come to faith and trust in Him.  He is a personal God that loves and cares for each of us.

Jesus personal GodIs Jesus personal to you today?  Do you claim Him as your God and Savior?  Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”  Thomas did in John 20:28 “ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” and Paul in Philippians 4:19 “ And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”    Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.

Linda

Look who’s here! Jesus is alive!

For 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and others to show them living proof that He was alive.  On Resurrection Sunday He met the women in the garden, and the two men walking on the Road to Emmaus.  In today’s passage, Jesus appeared to those disciples gathered in the Upper Room.

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’  When he had said them he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”   Luke 24:36-43

What was their immediate concern?  Is Jesus real or are we experiencing hallucinations?  What is your reaction when confronted by Jesus?   Do you doubt who Jesus is and question His reaching out to you?  Do you think your feelings are not real?Jesus reassured the disciples that He was a real living being just as He promised.  He proved it to them by showing them His hands and feet- pierced at the cross, and eating.   Matt 7 7How does Jesus make himself known to you?  Does He come to you in prayer, in the helping hands of others or through His Word?   Jesus can and does reveal himself to us if we are open and willing.  In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   Be a seeker today and know the joy of His presence.  Be amazed as you encounter the living Lord Jesus, just as the disciples did in the upper room.  Each encounter with Jesus brings new revelation and understanding of who He is!

Linda

upper-room
The disciples encountered Jesus in the upper room, where will you meet Him today?