The Glue of our Sovereign God, Do you feel it?

Yesterday as I mediated or ruminated on Colossians 1:15-17 there were several phrases that really stuck in my mind. Colossians 1:16b-17 ” all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” This says all things were created by Jesus as He was there at the moment of their creation; He is creator God. All the heavens and the earth were created for Him, to bring Him glory. Our purpose in serving Him is to abide in Him, reflect His character in ours and bring Him glory. Psalm 148: 5-6 puts it this way: 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 other phrase that has given me pause is that “and in him all things hold together.What does this mean to you? Do you think of yourself as the one that holds your family or workplace or church or group you belong to together? As a fallible human it is not possible to have that kind of responsibility and see it through to completion. However, Paul was telling the Colossians that Jesus does it all. He can handle all things, complete all things and work all situations for our good and His glory. One of my favorite scriptures that I claim and cling to is Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” As believers we can trust in our Sovereign God to know how things can and will work together. How what seems to us a mistake can be used by God to refine, teach and grow us to be more like Jesus.

As you think about how Jesus holds all things together here are a few verses proclaiming His Sovereignty in all things. 1 Chronicles 29:12 “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 2 Chronicles 29:6 ” “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”

Is Jesus the preeminent one in your life? Is He the one you are trusting to hold all things together? Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can rely on Sovereign Jesus to hold all things together for me in my life. I love Isaiah 49: 16 and claim His promise in my life, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” We are precious to Him and He is holding us in His hands day by day. He goes before us and surrounds us with His perfect will and timing. Trust Him to keep your life glued together as you walk with Him.

Linda

Word for the Year, What’s Yours?

Each year I pray and ask God for a word to guide me. Last year, as we began a new decade I was given the word Hope. I wrote these words on January 1,2020 which turned out to be very prophetic. “HOPE.  That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020?  I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful.  He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.” Wow! No truer words did I need and live through during 2020. It was a year that I needed extreme Hope to survive!

This year I have been asking God about a new word for 2021. The word that has come to me over and over is JOY. God knows there is a need within me after all that has happened in 2020 to focus on His joy in my life. His joy is not dependent upon the world events, personal relationships or my own drama of life but in Him alone. As I wrote in my new book, Strategic Living, His joy brings benefits to our souls, is eternal and complete. His joy is a byproduct of the Holy Spirit’s work within us, the fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

The verses I’ve chosen to claim this year are: Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;  in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are  pleasures forevermore.” Jesus is at God’s right hand in heaven and He will guide me and give me complete joy that is eternal. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you;  my soul also, which you have redeemed.” I am confident God will give me opportunities to proclaim to others His goodness in my life. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Learning to live in joy, praising God and thanking Him for the growth He is bringing to my character in and through the trials of life takes a new attitude and mindset that is filled with His Joy!

Prayerfully consider in this New Year what word God would give you to focus and guide your thoughts this year. As the year progresses, you can look for your word in the events of your life, in relationships and in your thoughts. It is amazing the ways God shows you your word throughout the year. I am so thankful for the word Hope and how it reminded and sustained me in 2020. I am looking forward to clinging to the Joy that is before me in Christ. Nehemiah summed it up in Nehemiah 8:10 “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Since I’ve chosen Joy as my word, I will be blogging in January on various verses that focus on the joy we have in Christ. God is leading me to be uplifted and to uplift others in His joy. I am looking forward to it!

Linda

Reflection: Hope, What a Year!

This last day of 2020 is filled with Hope for the future. Hope that the Pandemic that has plagued the world this year will soon end. Hope that the vaccine will protect us from the Corona Virus. Hope that the economy will recover. Hope that our world will again be open to travel. Hope that our lives will again begin to intertwine with others face to face. Providentially, the Word God gave me for this year was HOPE. I have seen it manifested in my life more and more as the year progressed. The scriptures I claimed this year were Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more”, Psalm 119:147 “I rise before dawn and cry for help;  I hope in your words. and Psalm 39:7 ““And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you.”

As I began the year, my reasons for choosing Hope were based on the eternal hope I know I have in Jesus. The hope I have that His Word anchors me in both the good times and in those that are difficult. His hope gives me confidence and joy in living each day. As the year continued, I saw the great need for His Hope in my life to ward off the fears of isolation, desperation, confinement, loneliness and boredom. He led me so that I was able to learn and grow in spite of all the confusion and helplessness I was feeling. I learned new ways to connect with others, the value and need I have to be connected and how to function together with others without being physically with them. I am eternally grateful for the Hope I have in Jesus that sustains and leads me. The lessons God taught me about His Hope caused my faith to grow and increased my assurance that His Word is true in every way.

What word will you ask God for in 2021? In 2019 my word was Trust. I saw my need for trust in God grow through the events of that year and the truth of God being Trustworthy. As I look toward 2021, God has been saying to me that my joy is in Him. So this next year I am convinced that JOY is my word for 2021. May God lead you as you reflect upon His Goodness, Patience, Love and Mercy as you end 2020 and look into 2021 with a HOPE that only Jesus can give!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 30: a recipe for peace

As I end this month long journey of thankfulness, I am more content and satisfied with my present circumstances because of all of the wonderful promises and truths we’ve seen. My final choice this last day of November 2020, which has been a particularly difficult year world over, is Philippians 4:6-7. I like the Amplified translation as it makes it very clear, Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

This promise of not needing to worry about anything is very reassuring. To really believe this, one must believe God exists and is Sovereign over all things in His creation. God is in control and I need to pray specifically about my concerns and needs and leave it to God. Worry or anxiety is human but is not what God wants for us. He wants us trusting in Him, releasing our worries to Him and living with His peace in our hearts. His peace for our mind, body and soul comes from and through Christ Jesus. He promises to guard our hearts and minds and give us a transcending peace. All this comes as we commit ourselves to being thankful in all things and believing in faith that God has things handled.

May the thankful promises of November carry you into December so you can rejoice in the Advent season. The reason for our thankfulness is found in Christ!

Linda

The Process of Transformation -a blessed journey!

Oh! what a promise we have in our Stream of Water reading from the Word this week. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 holds many truths and encouragements aimed at the believer and assurance of the promise of the mind of Christ.

Paul wanted to encourage the believers in Corinth that godly wisdom comes through knowing Christ and that His Holy Spirit would indwell and teach us the important things we need to know. He was not talking about worldly wisdom but those things that are the deep things of God.

What does this mean for you and me? We can read and study the Bible with confidence knowing the Holy Spirit will teach and reveal to us things we need to know to live godly lives before God. 10 “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” When we were unbelievers, Paul explains the words of God seemed foolish or not understandable. 14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Now that we are believers the Holy Spirit reveals to us things of God, 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” We can think about God, understand Him more clearly and make decisions based on godly wisdom and behaviors. Will we know everything about God? No, that is not possible as we have finite minds and cannot totally grasp the infinite. But we can be assured that through the power of the Holy Spirit within us we can live, love, work, study, and thrive growing in the knowledge of who God is and that He is real. We can align our hearts and minds with Christ and walk in His power each day. We can learn to emulate Christ and think biblically as we delve into His Word. What a privilege! Thank you Jesus for giving us a mind that can be focused and that can understand and learn about you. We are truly blessed.

Linda

Entire 1 Corinthian passage: 2:6-16

Wisdom from the Spirit

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Thankfulness Day 28: Prayerfully walking in Faith Produces RESULTS!

Matthew 21: 20-22 is the setting for today’s promise that will lead us to greater thanks. Jesus was hungry and on the road with his disciples. He went up to a fig tree and it had no figs. Jesus cursed the tree and it immediately withered. This provided a teachable moment for Jesus. When the disciples questioned him, he was able to explain to them the power of faith and answered prayer.

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

So is Jesus saying, I can pray for anything in faith and it will be given to me? Not at all! Jesus wants us to know the power of prayer and faith together can, through Him, can accomplish anything. If that is true, why don’t I have all the things I want or desire? I can just pray for them. James gives us the reason this is not possible. “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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ” James 4:2-3 God knows our hearts and sees what our real motives are for asking. Yes, faith and prayer can overcome but our heart attitude needs to be right with God and aligned to His purposes. Perhaps, you feel that you asked with the right heart attitude and were praying for God’s will to be done. Don’t lose heart. Remember our timing is not God’s timing and you may still have to wait longer for your prayers to be answered.

I find this encouraging. God knows the desires of my heart and I need only tell Him. I need to trust Him to bring it about if it is in His will, in His time and in His way so that He is glorified and I am uplifted in faith. Faith and prayer can accomplish great things in and through Christ. Pray fervently and have faith trusting God for the answer whether it is yes, no or wait. Walking in faith is difficult but always produces godly results and brings thankfulness.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 27: What a deal we got through Jesus!

I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’.  It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’.  It began as a term used to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians.  It then became a day term retailers used to signify when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased.   In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.  Luke 23:44-46   The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me.  His death on that darkest day brought the greatest profit for us.  John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen.  “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

risen

Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath.  Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they hurried to get Jesus down from the cross,  buried and settled in a borrowed tomb.  Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste.  After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday.  “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”  Mark 16:1  Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as they learned of Jesus’ resurrection and his defeat of sin and death.  An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  What joyous news they had to share!

colossians 1 ;21

That blackest Friday brought death and burial to Jesus but brought the greatest profit to you and me.  Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it.  “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”    That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history.  Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven.   We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God and that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin.  That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.

During these COVID times you may not be venturing out physically but think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him and Give thanks for His sacrifice that brings the greatest gains-salvation, eternal life, His indwelling Holy Spirit, heaven, godly character, a relationship with God, resistance to temptation, purpose in life…..- to you and me!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 26: Hard times, there is Hope

Are you in a hard spot this Thanksgiving Day? The prophet Habakkuk gives us words for difficult circumstances that bring hope and thanksgiving to our lips, no matter what.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19

The situations that are described in verse 17 are about as bad as it could get for an ancient agrarian society. Famine, crop failure, animals dying, no oil for lamps or cooking or wine for pressing and barren fields would mean complete destruction of life as they knew it. What devastating circumstances are you experiencing- loss of job, illness, Covid-19, death of a loved one, aloneness this Thanksgiving? Then Habakkuk’s words of hope and resolve in verse 18 and 19 are meant for you today.

Realign your thinking and focus on the goodness and provision of God. He alone is to be the source of our joy and strength and He is eternal. No devastating circumstances can remove or diminish God’s love for us. We are saved through faith in Jesus and salvation is a permanent state of being. Through God we can have the strength to endure hardships both physical and emotional. By concentrating and relying upon His strength, we can and will endure. My go to verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9 ” “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God gives me exactly what I need each day to endure with and in Him.

May we live each day dependent upon God’s Grace and be filled with Thanksgiving in our hearts.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 22: God can use you to bless others!

Have you ever thought, I don’t have the energy, time or money to do another good thing for someone else? Or I’m used up so let God choose someone else to do this or someone else to meet this need? Today’s verses from 2 Corinthians 9:7-9 address these questions and needs and shows us how to keep our priorities straight and God focused.

Paul writes, Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” He was mainly addressing the giving that Titus was going to be collecting when he arrived in Corinth. The churches were collecting moneys for the destitute Christians in Jerusalem. Paul knew that the Corinthians were generous but wanted to remind them of how much their giving pleased God and the benefits of giving to both the giver and receiver.

I want to focus on verse 8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” This principle of blessing when we give is applies to all things- money, time and our talents. God promises to meet all our needs from His great riches and give abundantly- not just adequately, but abundantly so we can abound, thrive and excel in doing His good works. If we look to Jesus, He will supply all our needs. That is cause for thanksgiving and celebration!! God blesses us as we give out of what we have. We don’t do His work for the blessings that will come but out of our love for Him. The blessings are a byproduct of serving Him.

Thank Him today for His blessings and the opportunities He gives to serve Him.

Linda

Let it be Good News around your Table

This week’s Stream of Water from the Word is from 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 and these verses have a timely message for us. In this passage, Paul is reminding the Corinthians that he did not come to them with flowery words and great speeches, but with God’s truth, love and the gospel of Christ. “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,  I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Paul’s words are a reminder that God is the one who speaks through us when we talk about Jesus. God’s message of redemption for the world and the solution to our sin problem is Jesus. Just like Paul, we need to rely upon the Holy Spirit to give us the right words when He presents us with opportunities to witness about Jesus. Paul spoke plainly and boldly so as to tell others about His amazing Savior. What about you? Are you afraid to speak about Jesus for fear of rejection, misunderstanding, or apathy? The truth of Acts 1:8 is true today just as it was in Paul’s day. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He has appointed us as His witnesses and will give us words and opportunities to tell about Him. How can we tell others if we do not speak of Him? Paul also knew the truth of Romans 10:17 and was putting his faith into action. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

May you speak boldly of your Savior, Jesus Christ, as you gather around your table this Thanksgiving. Be it virtual or in person our words of witness need to be heard so others will know our Christ. Let your words be given with gentleness as you seek to witness for Him.

Linda