Strategic Living has ARRIVED!

Strategic Living FRCov (1)For such a time as this, my new book Strategic Living is perfect.  We all wonder, while we’re at home sheltering in place because of the Covid-19,  what we can do to reach others and survive ourselves.  In my new book, Strategic Living I take a biblical look at godly character and seek to challenge the reader to reflect and take action.   Becoming more and more like Jesus is a process called sanctification and takes deliberate effort and intentionality.  This new devotional gives concrete examples and direction on how God can and does shape our lives and explores perhaps new and different ways God desires that we act.  The book can be used for individual devotions or for group study.  Questions for group discussion are included along with key memory verses.

Take up the challenge and get your copy today.   It is available in paperback or eBook formats.

My book is available at Certa Publishing  http://www.certabooks.com/strategicliving   

And on Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dphttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dp

thank you,   Linda

Strategic Living BKCovAfter reading my book, I would appreciate you taking the time to review the book.  As reviews help to spread the word.

Prayer, Are you using it as a Weapon in Life’s Battles?

Paul has described the armor of God in terms of those pieces worn by Roman soldiers of the time.  The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit.   All of these are physical weapons in our arsenal for fighting our earthly battles of seen and unseen forces that are against us because of our faith.  They are to be worn in all circumstances so that we are never without protection from God and His Holy Spirit.  The last piece of armor Paul lists is a non-physical weapon that we are to use constantly, prayer.   Ephesians 6:18 describes this weapon,  ” And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

ephesians 6 18Prayers are to be constantly on our lips for other believers.  It is a weapon that is to be used at all times for all occasions.  Paul exhorts us to stay vigilant for attacks upon our faith, trials that test our resolve or ideas that cause us to doubt.  Being alert keeps you or other believers from being taken by surprise by the things of the world that would cause you to stumble.  What kinds of prayers should we be offering for other believers?  Faith that is growing and maturing seeks to be more and more like Jesus so anything that would strengthen the walk, character, resolve, purity, thankfulness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, hope, salvation, purity, pursuit of righteousness….  the list is endless.  All these things we are told in scripture are desirous for the believer.   Here are a few examples:

Leviticus 19:2 “‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”   We can pray for our own holiness and purity as well as all other believers.

Psalm 25:9  “He guides the humble in what is right  and teaches them his way.”  We can pray for humility in ourselves and others and commitment to walking with Jesus daily.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”      Pray for each other’s daily walk, grounding in scripture, strength of faith and a life showing great thankfulness.

Galatians 5:22-23 “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”   We can pray for the fruits of the Spirit to be evident and developing in our life and other believers.

Pope-Francis-Quote-Let-us-always-pray-for-one-anotherBecause Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the privilege of lifting myself and others up in prayer as we face life’s battles.   Take this privilege seriously and make it a habit to pray for yourself and others so that all would be strong in faith and rooted and grounded in Christ.  Satan desires that we stumble and falter as he wants to destroy our witness for Christ.  Jesus reminded the disciples before His death,  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  Pray that we will all be over-comers and live victoriously in Him.

Linda

Holy Week- Jesus’ Friday was incredibly grueling.  He was tried in various courts in the night and early morning, beaten, brought before Pilate and condemned to be crucified.  He was brought to the cross and crucified then buried in a new borrowed tomb.  “Good Friday”  was good for us but physically hard, painful and demanding all from our savior.   Matthew 26:47-27:66, Mark 14:4-15:47,  Luke 22:47-23:56 and John 18:2-19:32. 

What is your battle plan? Got armor?

Ephesians 6:13 is a promise we can all claim.  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”   God promises that wearing His armor will enable us to stand firmly against Satan’s attacks.   His armor provides us with what we need for this fight when combined with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power.  God’s armor includes truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation , the Word of God and prayer.  That is a treasure trove of pieces God provides for our fight.

Here are some Lessons and Truths from this verse:

  • God’s armor protects me in both physical and spiritual battles.
  • God’s armor fully covers me.
  • God desire me to stand firm in my faith.
  • Our world contains evil that desires to defeat and destroy my faith.
  • God wants me to do my best and then remain standing in Him.
  • God is more powerful than Satan.

ephesians 6 13Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be filled with His Holy Spirit and protected by His armor to face the challenges of each day.  May you be emboldened today as you step out in faith, knowing and trusting God to have you protected through His armor.  Put it on and step out!

Linda

The Cross = submission in love

The last portion of Ephesians 5 is a difficult passage as it deals with submission and relationships in the home and in marriage that are to mirror Christ’s love for us.  I think the reason these verses cause such turmoil is that they are counter-culture and go against the thinking of today and women’s rights.  However, if we look at verse 5:21 and 5:32-33 we get to the heart of what Paul was saying.  God is a god of order and design.  Someone in the home has to make the final decision but any decisions need to be tempered and driven by love, a love like Christ has for us as believers.  Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”   We submit, yield or seek the approval of one another out ephesians 5 32of our love for Christ.  5:32-33 “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”   An example of the mystery of Christ’s relationship to believers is seen in the loving, caring respectful relationship of a man and wife.  Submission to each other is done because of Christ and our love for Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can live lives submitted to one another in love that mirror Christ’s love for us.

Ephesians 5 21Have a blessed day as you consider how you are submitting or yielding your rights to others in Christ like love.

Linda

Here is the whole passage –Ephesians 5:21-33  ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Thankful in all things, really Lord?

1 Thess 5 18Paul’s final words to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them shows his pastor’s heart.  He told them to take care of one another, be patient, not to seek revenge and always try to do good.  Then in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 he includes these thoughts: Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  He concludes this passage with admonitions to them to not try to block the Holy Spirit’s work and always seek to do good. 

What would our lives be like if we really tried to do these things?  Being patient with those who frustrate us, seeking to take care of those who are weak or in need, not being vengeful, always being filled with joy, thanks and praises to God, being known as a prayer warrior, seeking to do the will of God in all things and always looking for the good.   But that is what Paul is saying is God’s will for us.  God wants us filled with joy, always looking to Him in prayer and being thankful in all circumstances.   Scripture does not say being thankful for all things but in all things.  We do not need to be thankful for the hurricane, car accident or someone’s death,  but we need to be thankful during those times of stress, deprivation, sorrow or calamity.  We need to have an attitude of gratitude towards God at all times.  That can be very hard in difficult times but as Paul says this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”   This is the key to having a grateful heart which God desires of us.  I love the way David expresses this is Psalm 86:11-13         Teach me your ways, O Lord,
    that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
    so that I may honor you.
12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
    I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
    You have rescued me from the depths of death.

psalm 86 12Is this you in all circumstances?  Let David’s words be your prayer today.

Lindar

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

I AM…the Root of David, the bright and morning star

Revelation 22 16The names that Jesus calls himself are truly rooted in scripture, prophesies from the Old Testament.  Revelation 22:16  “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  Jesus calls himself the root and descendant of David.  We can look at Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 and see that Jesus is descended from David.  Luke 3 shows Jesus line going back to David and then onward to Abraham.  Isaiah mentions the coming Messiah in Isaiah 11:1-2.  “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,  and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,  the root of jesseSpirit of wisdom and understanding,  the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”    Jesse was David’s father, thus the stump of Jesse. Isaiah’s description of Jesus as one filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

Jesus also referred to himself as the bright and morning star.  I love this image of the star seen just before sunrise, a bright one that gives hope as we transition from night to day. rev 22 16Numbers 24:17  was part of a prophesy given by Baalem and refers to the coming of a future ‘star’ in Israel.I see him, but not here and now.  I perceive him, but far in the distant future.  A star will rise from Jacob;  a scepter will emerge from Israel.
It will crush the heads of Moab’s people,  cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.”  Knowing that Jesus can also trace his lineage back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and a scepter is a used by a king when ruling, Jesus confirms that it refers to him as He takes the name bright and morning star.

So what difference does all this make to you and me?  Jesus’ was the fulfillment of prophesies from ancient times, He was descended from King David and even Abraham, He was the bright hope for redemption, the coming of day and light to the Jews and all colossians 2 7people of the earth.  Are you rooted and grounded in Jesus?  Is He the stabilizing figure in your life giving you hope and a future?  Do you allow Jesus to shine in your life, and be your star?  Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us, Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”  Having Christ as our root establishes us in faith and allows us to walk with Him in confidence, full of life.  Peter gives us another image of Jesus as a star that rises in 2 peter 1 19our hearts as we trust in Him.  “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,  2 Peter 1:19

Let the Lord Jesus rise in your heart today.  Walk with Him hour by hour and let His light shine through you to a dark and hurting world.

Linda

I AM…the true vine.

John 15 1Jesus made this I AM statement during His upper room discourse with the disciples. He was giving important teaching to guide and give them hope as He knew the cross was upon Him. He states this message twice in John 15:1 and 5 with a slightly different emphasis each time. “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. ” Knowing that Israel was often referred to in the Old Testament as the vine, Jesus is saying that He is the true vine, the Messiah, and God is the ‘gardener’ in life. As the gardener God has a responsibility to keep us healthy and growing strong and that only happens if you are carefully pruned. The goal of God has for us is to produce fruit in our lives and pruning will enable us to be more fruitful. Remaining with Jesus, walking with Him daily is the way to stay connected to Him. If we lose touch, we will not and cannot be fruitful.

john 15 5 stayIn verse 5, Jesus reconfirms that He is the vine. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”   Jesus identifies us as branches off Him.  We are connected and grow strong through that connection.  He adds that being with Him, walking with Him daily, remaining in Him will cause us to be fruitful. That fruit in our lives is not possible without Him.

After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us from within. The Holy Spirit works within us to transform us into the spiritual beings that God desires, filled with purpose for Him and bringing Him glory. Gal 5 22This transformation is know as sanctification and is a life long process as we walk with Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 describes some of this ‘fruit’ that God desires in our life that is made possible only through knowing Jesus. ” But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! These are always good in our life and give glory to God.

Do you desire to be fruitful in your walk with Jesus? Jesus said the key is to remain in Him and be open to God’s pruning. God will use the Holy Spirit within you to mold and luke 1 37shape your character so that you grow more and more like Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus each day and walk with Him. “For nothing will be impossible for God.” Luke 1:3 Watch how He will transform you day by day.

Linda

Place or person, who is your refuge?

God refugeHow many times have you said, “God is my refuge”?   These are words that David repeatedly spoke about God.  By definition a refuge is a place of shelter or protection from danger or difficulty, or it can be a person who gives shelter, help or comfort.  David spent 14 years running from King Saul after being anointed the future king  by Samuel.  He was hunted, attacked and driven into the wilds away from friends, family and others.

David refers to God as his refuge, a place of safety,  in Psalm 91:1-2 and 91:9-10.                    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say  to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”                                                                                                             91:9-10  “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge —
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.”                    Abiding with God in your heart, soul and mind each day gives you a refuge, a safe place where you can depend upon God to shelter and protect you.     

David also saw God as his refuge, a person who brings protection, help or comfort.  In Psalm 62:5-7 David describes his refuge relationship with God.                                          psalm 62For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.       David sees God as the one who keeps him secure, steadfast and is his provider of salvation.

Psalm 59:16-17 “But I will sing of your strength;
    I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
    and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love.     David is so thankful that God is his refuge providing him with protection, steadfast love and comfort.       

Is this the lens through which you see God?  Is He your place and person of protection, safely, love and comfort?  He can be that and more.  Look to Him today and ask Him to draw near to you and He will just as he promised in James 4:7-8. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, psalm 91 2 NLTand he will draw near to you.”   David repeatedly resisted the desire and opportunity to kill Saul which would have ended his running,  but he did not yield to that temptation and kept drawing nearer to God depending upon Him for refuge.      God can do the same for you.     

Linda                                              

God is my strength!

God is my strength!  Are these words you would speak freely, often and with great conviction?  The Bible is filled with words of praise to the Father for the strength that God provided to His beloved people in both the Old and New Testaments.  Moses proclaimed in Exodus 2:15 after crossing the Red Sea and seeing the Egyptian army defeated. “The Lord is my strength and my defense;  he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,  my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”  David proclaimed praises to God for delivering him from Saul in Psalm 18:32 “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”  Proclaiming praises to God for His psalm 28 7 strengthdeliverance and strength uplifts our spirit and pleases God.  David penned in Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.  
Do you have praises for Almighty God today for the strength and deliverance He has provided in your life? Or maybe you are struggling to find strength.  David prayed for strength as he pleaded with God in Psalm 71:9  “Do not cast me away when I am old;  do not forsake me when my strength is gone.”  Whether it is due to age or overwhelming circumstances, we can pray and ask God for strength to face our challenges.   Paul often directed believers pray for spiritual strength, Ephesians 3:13-14 “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. For this reason I kneel before the Father,”  and gospel power strength in doing God’s work, 2 Timothy 2:1-2 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”  

The Bible teaches we can pray and ask God for strength but then we need to trust in  God’s strength as it has amazing power.  He can not only give us physical strength but He can dispel fear.  Isaiah 41:10 gives me great hope.  “Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”   God promises to be with us and hold us in His righteous right hand which is another name for Jesus.  Jesus will hold us!   We also find in Habakkuk 3:19 that God’s strength can enable us do do habakkuk 3 19things we cannot do on our own and will renew us in the process!  God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

So today, I really need this message as I am facing a move for good and pleasant reasons but a move nonetheless.  I need physical and spiritual strength,  and I know God can and will provide for me.  I only need ask Him.  I pray you can trust God enough to call upon His strength today for your needs.  He will be with you and give you just what you need for strength, renewal or comfort.

Have a blessed day.

Linda