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, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 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!
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.
3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 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.
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.
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!
My 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.
Paul’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.
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 today 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,4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 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 rose 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.
Today we celebrate the birth of the Christ. His birth was foretold by the ancient prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born…” The place was foretold in Micah 5:3 “But you Bethlehem…”. He came to earth that day born as a human child, yet one who would lead a sinless life and die to save us from our sins. We believe that only God’s Son, Jesus, could satisfy Holy God and bring us back into relationship with God. Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” So where does that leave us? If we believe He was born miraculously as a man who was both fully human and fully God, and He was able to die to save us from our sins, what more is there for us to believe? He is coming again. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
As we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we need to remember the story does not end in the manger or at the cross. The story of the redemption of mankind will end with us living with God for eternity. Just as His first coming was heralded by angels so will His second coming. Just as His first coming was miraculous, awesome and breathtaking so will His second coming be worthy of King Jesus when we meet Him in the air.
What do these events say about God?God is eternal. God exists outside of time. He is not measured by anything. We measure time by the movement of the planets and stars, which God created. God has always been and always will be. No one is like Him. We are not eternal because we have a beginning and an end. Because God is eternal, He can give us eternal life. David described God inPsalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, form everlasting to everlasting you are God.” John wrote in Revelation 4:8 “Holy, holy, holy is he Lord God Almighty, who was, and is and is to come.”
With our finite minds, the eternality of God is difficult to grasp. However, we can be assured that God is who He says He is and will do as He has planned for eternity. Jesus is the one who holds the key to our eternal life. John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Come to Him this Christmas and be filled with His eternal blessing. Look past the manger, past the cross and look forward to His return!
Being a primary teacher for years, I love choral response readings. All the kids are chiming in together, listening to one another and speaking as one voice. Psalm 136 was used as a liturgy of praise. Let’s look at the first3 verses.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
I love this repetition of reason for our complete trust in God, His steadfast love endures forever. What else in all creation endures forever? God alone is eternal. Therefore, we need to thank Him for His goodness and love, and that He is the Almighty God, above all other gods. He alone is to be our LORD.
I would encourage you today to repeat these lines with a sincere, prayer-filled heart and mind and see if it doesn’t bring His love right into your life. You can depend upon His steadfast love, no matter what. His enduring steadfast love is worthy of our thanks and praise.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
David described his state of thanksgiving as being eternal inPsalm 30:11-12. Why was he going to be thankful forever? Earlier in the Psalm David said God had lifted him out of the pit, saved him from his enemies, healed him physically and spiritually, had shown him forgiveness and favor. David had experienced God’s forgiveness as he mourned over his sins. In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32 ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the onewhose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Experiencing God’s forgiveness, seeing that God had covered his sins and that his sins would never be used against him in judgement made David eternally thankful and filled him with joy.
What about you? Have you experienced God’s hand lifting you out of despair or trouble, has He rescued you from your enemies or from a really bad situation? Has God touched you physically or spiritually to heal you? Have you been given favor by God in blessings you did not expect and in no way deserved? God had shown himself faithful to David, and David recognized this. His responds was eternal thanks that was filled with joy. What is your response to God’s grace and forgiveness in your life?
Begin today to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving that is based on God’s grace and forgiveness. You will experience joy from now to eternity.