A Small Book Bringing Mighty Words for Living Forgiven

And the journey continues….to Micah. The book of Micah was written by the prophet Micah, who lived during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah. He was a contemporary with the prophets Isaiah and Hosea. This was a time of great idolatry in Israel and Judah. The Lord God was not pleased with their idol worship and Micah’s messages told of the destruction and fall of Samaria and Jerusalem as punishment for their forsaking the worship of God and worshipping other gods. Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and the Judeans managed to hold off Sennacherib’s attacks with the help of the Lord. Their return to worship of God Almighty under Hezekiah was short lived and Jerusalem fell with the Jews deported to Babylon in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar. In the midst of all the prophesies against Judah and Israel, God gave messages through Micah of hope, restoration and future glory to come through the Messiah.

To begin, I love the beautiful verse in 5:2 where the birth place of the coming Messiah is foretold. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,  who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” What hope this pinpointing of the birthplace of their Messiah must have given them. God always promised there would be a remnant, a group of believers who would remain true to their faith in Him, and a Savior to come. They did not know when their redeemer would come but now they knew where he would arrive, in Bethlehem. From the Christmas story, we know this to be true as related in Chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew and Luke.

Micah also makes a case for obedience in faith and action in Chapter 6. He states wholeheartedly what the Lord desires of us. I have always found these verse in 6:6-8 very encouraging and straight to the point of what God wants. “With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God
?”
Micah knew that God looks at the heart and knows if our offerings are sincere, or just attempts to appease Him. Micah speaks plainly about what Almighty God desires of us. We can take his words to heart and examine ourselves looking intently at our motives and actions. This requires me to daily focus on seeking the Lord with an open and sincere heart so I can act justly, walk humbly and show God’s love and kindness to others.

My favorite verses of this little book are found in 7:18-20. They remind me of who God is, His amazing character which is filled with compassion and forgiveness. Micah also highlights a great gift God made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus which was freeing us from the bondage of sin. We are forgiven through Christ. I am assured that those sins are gone, forgotten and will be remembered no more! Praise God! “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over transgression
    for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
    into the depths of the sea.

20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob

    and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
    from the days of old.”
God in His faithfulness loves and forgives me completely. As Micah said, Who is a God like you? Jesus. There is no other. Paul described Jesus in Philippians 2:9-11 ” Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am forgiven. Thank you Jesus!

May you soak in the truth and depth of God’s forgiveness and love. May you seek to do those things that please Him because of the depth of your love for Jesus and gratitude for what He has done for you.

Linda

4th Sunday of Lent, God’s Love and Grace

This week we have studied verses from Colossians 1:28-2:15. There have been some amazing truths revealed to us by Paul as he continues to make the case for Christ and His work on the cross. We can be empowered to live for Christ, filled by His Holy Spirt, and freed from the bondages of sin. I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love for us and Jesus’ willingness to suffer and die for me. I am truly blessed by His graciousness towards me. Here are the truth from this week to meditate upon and a Psalm of praise.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can grow to be more and more like Jesus in character through the power of His Holy Spirit within me. Colossians 1:28-29 “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

I can claim treasures in Christ that will fill me with His confidence, wisdom and knowledge so I can be united to other believers by His love. Colossians 2:1-3 “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I can be rooted and grounded in Christ producing a life that is abundant and filled to overflowing with thanksgiving, hope and love. Colossians 2:4-8 “I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”

I am one with Him, totally forgiven and have His Holy Spirit dwelling with me. Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. 10 And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].”

I am spared God’s wrath as my sins are forgiven and I am freed from sin’s power in my life. Colossians 2:13-15 “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”

Psalm 36:5-9 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

Have a blessed week.

Linda

Spared, Forgiven and Free, That’s me in Christ!

Colossians 2:13-15 are powerful verses that describe what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”

Paul first describes our state of being before faith- we were dead in our sins. Through faith in Christ we were made clean, alive , forgiven and blameless so we could have a relationship with our heavenly Father. I love Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” and Romans 5:8-9 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Jesus restored, redeemed and ransomed us from our sinful state of being through Christ’s work on the cross.

Paul also speaks of cancelling the charges against us. This is referring to the case against us at birth from original sin. We are born with a sin nature and that cannot be erased or cancelled through any efforts of our own. In the Old Testament times the Jews followed the Law and offered sacrifices as forgiveness requires an atoning sacrifice. Paul is affirming that no amount of rule following would ever be enough to satisfy God’s wrath over sin. Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Lastly, Paul is saying that Christ’s death on the cross did public damage to Satan and his minions. They are still alive and active but their days are numbered and there is a time coming when Christ will return victorious and judge them. 1Thessalonians 5:2-4 “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.” Revelation 20:7-10 “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

As for me I know, Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am spared God’s wrath as my sins are forgiven and I am freed from sin’s power in my life. Rejoice with me over being forgiven and claim your victory in Christ!

Linda

Praise Jesus, He is who He is!

Who do you think Christ is? Paul wanted the Colossian Christians to know without a doubt that Christ is God. Current philosophies of Paul’s day claimed that he was not all God. Paul says and that in Him nothing was lacking, He is the all in all. Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. 10 And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].” I like the Amplified text as it adds and explains to us what Paul was talking about specifically. Some were saying Jesus was not all of God and was not divine. Paul wanted to confront their heretical ideas and explain the truth about Christ- who He is.

We have philosophies today that want to discredit and deny the deity of Christ. What can we say to refute them? Paul’s claim is that Jesus, when here on earth, had the fullness of God within him. Hebrews 1:3 gives us a perfect description who Jesus is and what He accomplished, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Jesus often talked of who He was and the power He possessed to grant eternal life. John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” He possessed the glory of God within himself, John 13:31-32 “Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” Being God himself, Jesus was able to make those who believe in Him complete. They would have complete forgiveness of sins, Acts 2:38, ” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” They would have the Spirit of God dwelling within them, 2 Timothy 1:13-14 “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” They would be one with Christ, Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” and John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Lastly, Paul wanted the believers to know that Jesus was and is ruler over all, He is sovereign God. I love the Philippians passage where Paul explains who Jesus is and was for all time, Philippians 2:6-11 “

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

May you catch a glimpse of Who Jesus is and was and what He has done for you. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am one with Him, totally forgiven and have His Holy Spirit dwelling with me. Praise God, Jesus is who He is!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 23: Forgiving, Merciful, Omnipotent God

Do you have friends, neighbors and loved ones who do not have faith in God or even know of Jesus? How can that cause me to be thankful? Worried and concerned for their eternal fate is more like it. However, Isaiah 55:6-9 holds facts about God Almighty that will create thankfulness in the midst of these troubling thoughts.

Isaiah was writing a message to the future Israelites who would become captives in Babylon. He was imploring them to remember God and return to the Lord as He alone can satisfy. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;” Isaiah 55 verse 1. He continues with his call to return in verses 6-9 giving them and us profound hope and thankful hearts.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:6-9

Why would these verses cause us to have hope, creating thankfulness in our hearts? 1- verse 7 God promises to freely forgive anyone who turns to Him and forsakes his sinning ways. 2- God promises to have mercy on them by not giving them what they deserve for their sins, but treating them with grace and love. These two things bring us hope for our loved ones and friends that do not know Jesus. We know that God is waiting and promises forgiveness and mercy towards anyone who comes to Him! God will not change His mind and decide their sins were to numerous or egregious. God is unchanging and we can depend upon Him as He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” Hebrews 13:8.

Why include verses 8-9 in this discussion as they are not part of the promise of forgiveness? Verses 8 and 9 explain to us the fact that God does not think or act like us. He is does not harbor hate, grudges, or resentments. We cannot think or act like God as it is not in our nature, but it is in His! This is something to be thankful for too. God is above us and His way of dealing with people and circumstances are not anything like ours. How many times have you seen God answer prayer in amazing, out of the box, ways! I am thankful that He my merciful, omnipotent God and that His ways and thoughts are greater than mine.

Let these promises of mercy and love for the lost fill you with hope as you continue to pray for the salvation of those you know who do not know Jesus as Savior. Let the knowledge of God’s ways being so unlike our own cause you to be thankful for Him and fill you with Hope.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 2: Forgiveness brings Hope

Knowing that God hears me when I call out to Him gives me great assurance in this troubled world, but knowing I’m forgiven gives me peace and hope. Today’s verse is Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,  and I will not remember your sins.” Scripture tells us that when God forgives He does it completely and puts it out of His sight (Micah 7:19 into the depths of the sea, Isaiah 38:17 behind His back) and will not remember or hold them against us ever again (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)

Why is this important? God is holy and cannot look upon, tolerate or live with sin. Man is born with a sin nature and the only remedy for cleaning us up is to be covered in Christ’s righteous blood through faith in His atoning work on the cross and resurrection. As this verse states, God provided Jesus to atone for our sin for His sake so He could look upon us, and we could have restored fellowship with Holy God. Knowing that God completely forgives me when I seek His forgiveness is so reassuring. Knowing that He forgives and will not hold my sins against me ever again gives me peace of mind. To experience that assurance and peace, I need to regularly confess my sins and seek communion with God through His Word and in prayer. He desires that I know and love Him just as He knows and loves me.

Let the truth of Isaiah 43:25 speak to you today. Let God’s promise of forgiveness give you hope and create in you a greater thankfulness towards your loving, merciful God.

Stand on His promise of forgiveness with thanksgiving in your heart.

Linda

Resurrection Sunday!! Happy Easter!

Easter2020During our entire Lenten journey, we have pondered the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross.  Now we need to come to the realization that without the resurrection His death would have been meaningless,  and we would be still lost in sin!  In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 “12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 1And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

Paul made this argument to clarify for the unbelievers and doubters that resurrection was essential to their faith otherwise they would still have all their sins and be under penalty of death.  Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Belief in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His victorious resurrection were essential to the Ephesian believer’s faith and are for us as well.  Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness and victory over death! All of Christ’s suffering here on earth would have been for nothing.  I know that God is sovereign, all powerful and omniscient and nothing is left to chance or done randomly.  Jesus prayed in John 17:3-4 just before His death, And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”   We know God’s plans will be accomplished, His Word, Jesus would not return to Him void. Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   Job 42:2 also reminds us of this truth, ““I know that you can do all things,  and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Praise God His purpose was not thwarted and was accomplished completely by Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead.  Praise God, our Redeemer Lives!

1 corinthians 15 4Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, Your faith is real, your sins are forgiven, you will spend eternity with Jesus, you are empowered and indwelt by His Holy Spirit!  Praise God!

Happy Easter!  Blessings because of our risen Redeemer, Christ Jesus.

Linda

Straight talk by Paul (points us to Christ like behavior)

In this last section of Ephesians 4 Paul gets down to serious talk about sins that he has seen or heard of among the believers.  He mentions lying or speaking untruthfully with each other.  Anger that is not righteous but rooted in resentment, hostility or jealousy.  Also some had been thieves prior to becoming believers, and Paul tells them they must work and be useful so they will have things to share with those in need.  He mentions gossip or unwholesome talk, saying things that bring others down instead of building  them up.  He straight out tells them to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger fighting, backbiting, slander, and any and all kinds of malice.   All of these things are undesirable and incompatible with a life given to Christ.

Several verses jumped out at me in this section, Ephesians 4:26, 30 and 32.  26 “Be angry ephesians 4 26and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”  This verse is frequently said, “don’t go to bed angry”.   Anger that is rooted in sin is filled with resentment, jealousy, bitterness and even hatred.  Paul is saying, anger is a valid emotion but do not let it be for the wrong reasons.  Jesus was angry with the money changers buying and selling in the temple and threw them out (Matthew 21:12).  He was angry with the Pharisees for wanting to trap him and keep a man from being healed on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5).  Both of these were cases of righteous anger.  They were not rooted in self but in wrongs done towards God.  When we harbor or coddle our anger, it will fester and grow.  Paul is telling us to not let that happen as the results will be harmful to us and to those around us.

30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”   What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?   As a believer, Jesus’ Holy Spirit lives within us.  When we deliberately sin- steal, lie, cheat, act with wrong motives in anger, harbor bitterness, etc, it grieves the Holy Spirit that is within us.  God hates sin and doing sinful acts gives His Spirit grief, or makes His Spirit sad over our sin.  Paul reminds us that when we received Christ,  we were sealed by God’s Holy Spirit forever.  That is a wonderful privilege and honor,  and we should love Jesus enough to desire to not deliberately sin against Him.

32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  I love this verse as Paul lays it out directly for us as to what kinds of actions should characterize a believer.  These will bring delight to our Savior.  They should be our response to His marvelous forgiveness and grace.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God. 

ephesians 4 32Focus today on right living, good thoughts and actions towards others, putting away all bitterness, jealousy, anger …..  Don’t let  yourself fall into anger over your current circumstances,  but look for the good and seek to see how you can ‘be Jesus’ to each one you speak with today.

Linda

 

Full text in the New Living Translation:

25″ So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,  guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”