Do you need a fortress in your life?

God-is-my-FortressDavid uses the image of God as his fortress as he describes who he feels and sees God is in his life.  By definition a fortress is a fortified place for protection.  David praised God for his deliverance from his enemies and from the murderous pursuit by Saul his king.   “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,” 2 Samuel 2:22  Repeatedly in Psalms David refers to God as his fortress.  Psalm 31:3 “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;”  Psalm 59:9 “O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.”   This psalm was written when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.  Later in verse 16-17 David writes, “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.

psalm 91 2The beautiful and uplifting words of Psalm 91:1-4 resonate with David’s love, trust and complete confidence in the God, who is his fortress.

“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.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

David knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was his fortress, safe haven and refuge from all the evil men and deeds that came at him.  He lived with confidence in God’s merciful protection that would cover him as he walked through each circumstance.   Do you have that kind of trust in God?  Have you walked with Him through hard times and seen His hand upon your life?  The more we know God day to day and walk with Him, study His Word, pray, praise and worship will we grow in trust and confidence in God’s God fortress trusteternal protection of our souls.  He is indeed our fortress, our safe place in this swirling world but also our safe haven for eternity.  Praise God for His great name and character today as you seek to walk with Him.  Claim Him as your fortress.  He is solid and can be relied upon at all times in all places.

Linda

Are you ready? Jesus calls us to be part of His Plan “A”.

Today’s meeting with Jesus took place on a mountainside in Galilee.  I had always associated this scene with the ascension,  but it is a separate incident.  Jesus did give the ‘Great Commission’ at His ascension but he also gave it here sometime before the ascension.

the_great_commissionMatthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”    

There were 11 disciples because Judas had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself.  However, there were probably others along with them as in verse 10 earlier in the chapter Jesus had said to the women at the tomb garden, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”   Scholars think that the people Matthew is referring to as ‘doubting’ are the other brothers who also accompanied the 11 to the mountainside and does not refer to the disciples.  The heart of Jesus’ message is He wants the message of salvation and redemption to go out to all the world.  It is their job to spread the ‘good news’ to the world.  He promises to go with them (and us) throughout all the ages to come.

the_great_commissionHave you ever considered that you are God’s plan A?  There is no backup plan for spreading the news of redemption to the world- we are it!  God promises that His word will not return empty or without use, 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.”   God also promises that His will cannot be thwarted, Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Jesus did His part- He came to earth, lived, died on the cross to redeem us and rose from the grave conquering sin and death.  We have our part to do now- tell others about marvelous, amazing, redemptive Jesus!   Since you are part of plan A, whom will you tell today?    Remember there are many ways to tell others about Jesus.  Yes, you need to be able to give a full account of the gospel which according to 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,   However, you can witness each day to the power of the risen Christ in your life by what you say, how you respond, who you help, what you do for others, how you treat them, etc.  Our lives speak for Jesus along with our mouths.  We can give a word of praise to God for little and big things in our lives and others will hear it.  We can mention a verse of scripture and how it applies to our circumstances, we can offer to pray for a colleague or neighbor who is in need or lend a helping hand without being asked.  There are many ways to show you love Jesus and that He is the driving force behind what you say and do.  All of these witness to His power of redemption.  At any point you are asked, you need to be willing and able to give words to your faith as 1 Peter 3:15 tells us- the reason for your hope.

matt 28 16Be encouraged today and mindful of the position and commission Jesus gave to me and you.  Be bold for the gospel and let the gospel drive you thoughts, actions and words today.

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

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?

Road towards Pentecost begins here!

road to EmmasOne of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is the encounter of the two on the Road to Emmaus.  Overcome with grief over Jesus’ death and disbelief over what the women said about seeing Him alive,  these two followers of Christ were walking along the Emmaus Road discussing all these things.  Jesus joined them on their journey without disclosing his identity.  As they walked they were surprised that he did not know about all the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem and told him their hope that Jesus had been the long awaited Messiah.   Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and listened to Jesus explain all about Himself?  A little later in the story when they were sitting down to eat, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and began to give it to them.  Right then, their eyes were opened  and they recognized Jesus.  He then disappeared from their presence.  Even though it was late they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.

Jesus came to these two when they were in grief, despair and confusion, and He cleared up their thinking, encouraged and enlivened them.  Can you remember a time when Jesus came to you in prayer or through the actions or words of another believer to give you hope and encouragement?  Jesus promises that He will be with us wherever we go.  Just like these two, we need to look and recognize His presence with us and the hope that He brings.

Thank you JesusI pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks.  I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day.  I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the blessings I HAVE because of Him.  I will continue writing on the post-resurrection appearances leading to Pentecost (40 days after the cross).  Christ appeared many times before His ascension to many individuals and groups.   They are affirming and touching encounters that teach us more about the depth of His love and care for us.

Blessings to you,

Linda

SALVATION- Thank you Jesus!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have salvation.  This is a wonderful message filled with hope on this Good Friday.  Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf accomplished what nothing else could.  He was the perfect sacrifice that was wholly accepted by God the Father.  Jesus told us that He was the way to salvation.   Here are a few verses to ponder in your heart as you consider your own faith in Jesus.

acts 4 12John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  The way to salvation is clearly through faith in Jesus.

Acts 4:12 “ And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Salvation can only come through Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”   God’s plan to redeem us from the punishment of sin was through Jesus.

solasTitus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,”   God’s grace, undeserved favor, was fully shown in sending Jesus.  It is His plan for salvation for everyone who believes and He desires that none should perish but all come to repentance.

Jesus is our salvation, our only hope in this sin-filled world.  He alone can SAVE us!

Linda

Suggestion:  This Good Friday spend time in prayer thanking Jesus for His sacrifice on your behalf.

 

Looking for your keys? See Jesus, He found them.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have an eternal home.  Jesus’ work on the cross reconciled us, as sinners,  and brought us into relationship with Holy God.  Jesus knew that future believers would then dwell with Him in heaven.  He reassured the disciples of this joyful fact even though they did not understand it at the time.  It was only later they would grasp more fully the greatness of the price He paid to mansionsredeem all mankind.  John 14:1-2 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;  believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?     Jesus wanted his disciples, and us too, to understand that He was leaving them,  but He was going ahead to prepare a place, a home for them.  He assured them there would be room enough for all.  This scripture is often used at funerals to comfort the grieving.  The idea that we have a prepared place to go, a home in heaven is of great comfort and gives us great hope.

There are other scriptures that would imply that this eternal home is not only a place,  but a new body form.  In our heavenly home, we will have a heavenly body that is eternal, immortal and imperishable.  2 Corinthians 5:1-2 in the Amplified version makes it very clear. “For we know that if the earthly tent [our physical body] which is our imperishablehouse is torn down [through death], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our [immortal, eternal] celestial dwelling,”    and   1 Corinthians 15:42 “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. The [human] body that is sown is perishable and mortal, it is raised imperishable and immortal.”   

Be encouraged today as the suffering of this life will end and we will someday be with Jesus in a new body in a new home.  Praise God!

christ alone hopeLinda

Suggestion:  Find someone to share your eternal hope and destination with and tell them how that gives you hope for today.  You live with assurance as you know you have a home in heaven and Jesus is waiting for you there.

Are you sure God is listening?

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have access to God in prayer.  The Bible is filled with believers’ prayers to God.  David, Job, Solomon, Daniel and the list goes on and on as they called upon God and were assured that He heard their prayers.  Jesus prayed and was heard by the Father and, he often sought a solitary place to spend time with His Father to gain strength and commune with Him.  Since Jesus died on the cross, believers have an internal connection through the Holy Spirit with Him.  Here are a few scripture for you to meditate upon today as you consider your prayer life and connection to Him.

Ephesians 2:13, 17-18 ”  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”   His Holy Spirit brings us near to Him, thank you Jesus!

ephesains 3 12Ephesian 3:12 “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”  We can seek Him boldly with confidence because of Jesus, thank you Jesus!

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  We can come before Him knowing He will treat us with grace and mercy, thank you Jesus!

Hebrews-7-25Hebrews 7:25 “ Therefore he is able to save completely, those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  I can know that I am whole in Him and I am humbled by the truth that Jesus prays for me, thank you Jesus!

James 4:8a “Come near to God and he will come near to you. ”  Access to God is made possible by Jesus as His Holy Spirit helps draw us closer to Him, thank you Jesus!

Come-near-to-God-James-4-8-free-printable-thumb-I pray these verses assure you that as a believer you have access to God in prayer, can approach Him with confidence, know that Jesus will intercede for you before the Father and that He desires that we come and draw near to Him.  Pray boldly with confidence, Jesus is with you.

Linda

Suggestion:  pray today with confidence, assurance and hope that God will hear your prayers and draw near to you!  Then, live like you believe it!

 

Alive? Is this you in Christ?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been made alive in Christ. The aliveness we have in Christ effects us physically, mentally and spiritually. Paul describes this in Ephesians 2:4-5. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.” We did nothing to deserve this aliveness or quickening of our mind and body. God brought it to us through our faith in Jesus. God’s love, mercy and grace caused Him to send Jesus so we could be in relation with Him.

What is this aliveness we have in Christ? His spirit within us helps us to stand strong in the face of adversity. Ephesians 6:15 “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.” Our standing is both physical and mental. 2 Corinthians 10:5 describes this mental duel. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”. The aliveness in Christ is also effects us spiritually. Romans 6:10-11 describes this “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Being alive in Christ gives us the power to stand in Him and with Him. It gives us control over our mind and will to be obedient to Him. He gives us the ability to cast off and turn our backs on sin and walk away with Him!

Claim and proclaim your aliveness in Christ today!

Linda

Suggestion: ask Jesus to show you an area of His aliveness within you today.

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.