4th Sunday of Lent, 2022

Our verses for today from Psalm 139: 17-18, reflect the psalmist love for God. He also grasps the immenseness of who God is, His vastness and power. Meditate on these 2 verses as you begin your day.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

The psalmist knows that the knowledge of God, who He and and what He does, is beyond his imagining. God is immense and unending. He knows there is no way to put God in a box and count the number of things He could do. He is amazed and grateful that God thinks about and cares for him. He knows that God is with him 24/7. When he awakes assured that God is still with him. Praise God for His faithfulness.

Do you know this about God? Is He real as you try to grasp his eternal nature and omniscience? Like the psalmist, I seek to know God and try not to define or limit Him by my human finite standards. God is so much more. I am humbled by the fact that God loves and thinks about me. He alone knows what I need to pursue the work He has designed for me. May you catch a new glimpse of God and His love and care for you today.

Blessings this 4th Sunday of Lent as you seek to know and worship Him.

Linda

A New Heart and Spirit = Thanks to Jesus

Today’s verse is 1 Chronicles 16:35-36

“Save us, O God of our salvation,
    and gather and deliver us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.
36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”

This scene takes place when David was rejoicing at the arrival of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. The ark was the object containing the mercy seat on top and inside the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod budding rod and a jar of manna. All these objects were precious to the Israelites and reminded them tangibly of their unseen God’s provision and mercy. The attribute David is extolling God for is being their Savior. He was remembering how God saved them from slavery in Egypt, brought them through the wilderness and led them to conquer the promised land. God had delivered them repeatedly and their eternal God is worthy of all their praises.

When has God saved you? If you are a believer, you were saved from the penalty of sin which is eternal death, when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. Perhaps you have also had other experiences in your life where you have been threatened physically or spiritually and God rescued you from harm. When God saved us by faith in Jesus, it was for eternity and we will belong to Him forever. All the benefits of knowing Him are ours by faith and we can claim the promises He has for us in His Word. The fact that Jesus Saves is worthy of rejoicing and giving thanks. Where would you be without Him? You would be eternally lost and separated from God which are the consequences of disbelief. Thank you Jesus for saving me from that horrible eternal fate and giving me a new life with a new heart and spirit within me. In Ezekiel 36:26 God promises us both. And I will give you a new heartand a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for your Spirit within me that gives me life, hope and guidance as I seek to honor and serve You. Thank you.

Linda

Thankfulness = the Truth of God’s Love

What attribute of God am I most thankful for? When I pondered this question, the first thing that came to mind was God’s love for me. He loved me so much He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for my sins so that I could be brought into a relationship with him through faith in Christ. John 3:16 says it so well. ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God wants me to be with Him for eternity and be freed from the power and presence of sin. What an amazing gift we have in His love! Thoughts of God’s love lead me to think about the perfection and purity of His love. In our world we don’t know love that is not motivated by some selfish desire. It is part of our world and our nature no matter how hard we try. God is pure love. His love is not short lived but longsuffering and eternal in nature. His love is steadfast and we can always count on it. Multiple scriptures express the truth that God’s love is steadfast, everlasting, eternal and forever. Here are a few:

1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Psalm 136:1-26 repeatedly says, “
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.”

God’s love is steadfast, true, pure and will be with me for eternity. I can rely upon God’s love always as God is faithful.

Today as you consider reasons for your thankfulness, I pray that God’s love will be ever present in your heart and mind. His love is an eternal truth we can always be thankful for in every circumstance.

Praise God!

Linda

Take time to read Psalm 136. Read it aloud and let the truth of God’s love sink into your soul.

God’s Kindness, What is it?

Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23″22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Like Patience this attribute is one God desires to be in our character and is one that grows and develops as we are indwelt and responsive to the Holy Spirit in our lives. For this discussion, I want to start at the root of Kindness- God Himself. God is perfect in all of His ways and embodies all kindness in His being. Here are some scriptures to help us to better understand the kindness of God.

Ruth 2:20 “And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” God brought Boaz into Ruth’s life to restore her and her mother-in-law when they returned to Israel after losing their husbands. God’s kindness is true for both those living and those who have passed into eternity. God’s kindness transcends all realms as God is God of all, both the living and the dead. I find great comfort in this, like Naomi, God does not stop being God to me when I leave this earthly home. He is eternal and His kind character will be there no matter when or where!

Like humans, God desires to show His kindness towards us. He is always motivated by His love. Romans 2:4 says He shows us His love because He desires that we will see and recognize His love, patience and longsuffering towards us and turn to Him. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” What is the purpose of your acts of kindness? Do you desire to show your Savior to others and draw them to Him?

God’s kindness towards us was given to bring us to repentance and faith and is explained more fully in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians 2:5-8 is one of my favorite and encouraging passages. even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” God’s kindness is evident in His sending Jesus to redeem and save us from eternal death through faith. Jesus came even though we were sinners and dead in our sins. He brought us life. What a wonderful kindness God showed to all of us by this act. God showed us then and will continue to show us His kindness into eternity. Titus put it this way in Titus 3: 4-6 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” God’s kindness in sending Jesus to die for our sins was His alone. It was His mercy and cleansing though our faith in Christ that redeems us. He loved us that much! What sacrifices have you made for others out of godly kindness?

David summed up God’s kindness in Psalm145.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.]

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.

How does God’s kindness towards you affect your day to day walk with Him? Are you seeking to show His kindness to others? Remember, kindness is an outgrowth of faith and the work of the Holy Spirit within. Our kindness is meant to draw others to Jesus. By being and acting kindly towards others we show them Jesus and His great love. Not feeling kindly towards others- pray. Not wanting to do kind acts- pray. Remember, God is eternal and His kindness is unending, longsuffering and always fills us with hope! Thank you God.

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

Thankfulness Day 15: Consider His Peace

The Bible is full of scriptures about peace. God wants us to know His peace, live in peace and experience peace on a daily basis. Today’s verses come from Isaiah 26:3-4. As you read and meditate on the words from Isaiah, may they lead you towards greater thankfulness as you consider His peace.

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Prayer: Lord, I desire your peace in my life. May my trust in you grow daily so that my mind is steadfastly focused on you. I know you can and will keep me in a state of peace that will cover my mind, body and soul as I trust in you more and more. Lord, you are my rock and refuge. You are eternal and will keep me as your own for eternity. I know Lord that you love me and are a promise keeper. Bring your peace into my life today as I focus upon you and walk trusting in you. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.

Have a blessed day filled with His peace and a thankful heart.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 6: God’s Word has Absolute, Eternal Truths

1 Peter 1:23-25 has a powerful message for us today. Peter was writing in this chapter about our Living Hope, which is Jesus, and he calls us in faith to live holy lives. He concludes his message with these powerful words. “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,  and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

God promises that my new imperishable life in Christ comes from a living, eternal savior. God also promises that His Word will never fade or fail but will stand forever, our eternal truth. We live in a world that is constantly changing in complexity and variability. Nothing is absolute in our world. But God is saying that His Word is eternal and the truths we find there are absolutely true, unchanging for all eternity. What a comfort that brings to our volatile lives. God and His Word are absolute truths we can count on now and forever. That is indeed good news!

Take heart from these words and their truths. Let the absolute truth of God’s Word and His eternal promises create in you a spirit of true thanksgiving today. Good news brings smiles, hope and thanksgiving that come from knowing God and trusting in His Word.

Linda

Is there a blessing for me?

copyright szefei

The Stream of Water for this week is all of Deuteronomy 33. In this chapter Moses delivers a blessing for each of the tribes of Israel by name. As I read through them, I marveled at the complete knowledge God has of tribe. He knew their past, present and future. He knew where their weaknesses and strengths were. We can take comfort in the fact that God knows all those things about us too. It brought to mind Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has plans for each of us just like He did for the Israelites.

The portion of this passage that is most meaningful to me is verses 26-29. “There is no one like the God of Israel.
    He rides across the heavens to help you,
    across the skies in majestic splendor.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and his everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
    he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety,
    prosperous Jacob in security,
in a land of grain and new wine,
    while the heavens drop down dew.
29 How blessed you are, O Israel!
    Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
He is your protecting shield
    and your triumphant sword!
Your enemies will cringe before you,
    and you will stomp on their backs!”

I love His message to me: 26- God is my helper no matter where I am He is with me. 27- God is eternal and always supports and protects me. 28- God has my safety in mind and has new provisions for me. 29- God is my protector, defender and always has my back! These same promises can be found elsewhere in the Bible as God desires us to know that He is for us and wants us to live full, productive lives grounded and protected by in His love.

May the God of Israel show Himself to you today as He comes alongside you to love, protect, defend and support you. Trust Him as Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” God keeps His promises. Live today like you really believe it!

Linda

Signed, Sealed and Delivered- 1st Century Style

Ephesians 6 21 conclusionMy plan to blog through the entire book of Ephesians during Lent was off by only 1 day.  Here are the concluding verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

21 “To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.

23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 6:21-24

What did Paul send to his friends that lived in Ephesus?   He sent an actual person to deliver the letter.  Besides the written words of Paul, they would have Tychicus to talk to about Paul, so they could personally find out how he was doing physically, the conditions he was living under, how his ministry was going, etc.  All of this Paul knew would be an encouragement to his friends.  Then he ends with a final blessing to all who read this letter-  peace, love filled with faithfulness and eternal grace (God’s undeserved favor) upon all who believe and follow Jesus.  Each of us can receive Paul’s blessing and know that he meant the peace, love, and grace to be ours in Jesus, too.

ephesians 6 24Paul’s letter started with praise and thanksgiving for the faith of the Ephesian  believers and ended with his desire that they continue to walk in faith filled with Jesus’ love and peace for themselves and towards others.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be blessed by His peace, love and eternal grace and I can share these blessings with others in His name.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

How Big is your God? He is ABLE!

Ephesians Chapter 3 ends with a powerful benediction to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers.  He eloquently tells them and us about God, who He is,  and His power as seen in Christ and the church. God’s is: glorious,  omnipotent in power, provides us with His indwelling Holy Spirit,  has power that endures for  eternity and has a plan that lives from generation to generation.

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

What comfort do you receive from reading these words?   I am encouraged even in these difficult times that our God is bigger than any virus, is Sovereign over heaven and earth now and in the future. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and Ephesians 3-20 He Is Abletoday and forever.”  God is able to do even greater things than which we could even think to ask Him to do in our lives for Him.  2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. “  God does not give us His Holy Spirit to indwell us without reason and purpose. John 3:16 shows us God’s purpose  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”    Romans 5:3-5 shows the Holy Spirit at work in our lives for a purpose.   “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”   God loves us and desires that our character be refined and matured.

Use Paul’s words today as you pray.  Stand on the hope you have in Jesus, the power of His Spirit to lead and guide you, and God’s unfailing love for you.  God has a purpose for you, for your life and He desires that you know Him and live and grow in His love.  His love is transforming for now and into the future.  Because Christ died on the cross and Ephesians-3-21rose from the dead, we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good.

Reach out to others today, however you can, and let God’s transforming love flow through you to them in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Linda