Looking forward with Hope, backward with Thanks 2020 here we come!

2020 new year I always love December 31 because it means I am on the brink of a new beginning.  Those failures I’ve experienced during the year can end,  and I can start fresh and new.  Hope springs eternally in our hearts as we walk in faith and trust with our Lord and Savior Jesus.   In Psalms 42 and 43 David questions himself repeatedly with these words:     Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation.         

David wonders, and so do I, why I fret over failures, defeats, troubling circumstances, etc?  His answer,  and mine, is in trusting God alone.  His hope, and mine, is in God and the salvation He provides for eternity.  So as I end this year, I will reflect on what I achieved for Him, what God did in and through me, and look forward to the New Year with Hope.  I will look backward with thanksgiving in my heart as God has been 100% faithful in all things just as He promised.

Isaiah encourages us in 49:29-31 that the Lord knows the way, will provide and lead us isaiah-40-31 (1)in His way of hope.

He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

put-hope-1-627x376Will you join me in focusing on Hope and what God will bring your way in 2020?  Not only is it a New Year, it is also the beginning of a new decade.  Resolve to move Onward and upward with Christ alone!

Linda

God’s Revelations Through Advent=God’s Abounding Attributes

Advent of 2019 has been very confirming and uplifting to me.  As I wrote about the Christmas story, Messiah’s long awaited arrival on earth, I was filled with wonder and praise for our Almighty God.  Seeing the story anew through the lens of who-is-godGod’s attributes gave me a glimpse into the magnificence and depth of our God.   I saw God’s accessibility, grace, omniscience, as a person, His incomprehensibility, invisibility, holiness, as a preserver, merciful, a promise-keeper, righteous, sovereign, perfect, omnipotent, provider, merciful again, glorious, Savior, faithful, just, wise, Father, guide, love and eternal.

For 25 days we have looked into the character of God and reflected on how His character could impact us.  God desires that we are accessible to Him and to others.  He gives us grace and asks that we show grace to others.  God alone is omniscient, incomprehensible, invisible, personal, preserver of all things, righteous, sovereign, perfect, omnipotent, glorious, Savior, promise keeper and the giver of eternal life.  He calls us to be holy as He is holy and to wear the righteousness of Christ though faith in Him.  Be merciful towards others and lend them helping hands.  God wants us to be faithful to Him and to those around us, just in our dealings with others, a giver of wise council, good father’s and mothers, guide others towards Him and to be open to His leading.  He wants us to keep our word and follow His Word.  God desires that we love Him and love those He has placed in our life as much as we love ourselves.

David reached the following conclusion about God in Psalm 86:10-13.

psalm 86 10No pagan god is like you, O Lord.
    None can do what you do!
All the nations you made
    will come and bow before you, Lord;
    they will praise your holy name.
10 For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.
    You alone are God.

more like JesusThank you for joining me this Advent.  May you be blessed as you endeavor to live for Jesus and grow more and more life Him each day.

Linda

Wise men still seek Him

Today’s portion of the Christmas Story is one filled with wonder as we consider our All Wise God.  Herod was an evil, jealous king who would do anything to protect his kingship.

wise menNow after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way.  Matthew 2:1-9

Herod did not know of Jesus’ birth.  Since the Magi had traveled from the east starting when they saw the Bethlehem Star in the sky when Jesus was born,  their arrival could have been 1-2 years after Jesus’ birth.  It would have taken considerable time to come from the east, perhaps Persia.  It would have been customary to come to the current king to inquire of this new baby king-where he was. They probably thought Herod, the current king, would surely know where this baby was, however, He did not.   So they continued their journey….. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with gold-frankincense-and-myrrhMary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  The gifts they brought were fitting for a king:  gold, incense and myrrh.    The myrrh was presented to Jesus at this birth and was also given to him at the crucifixion as it was a pain reliever.  Jesus refused to dull his pain by taking any (Mark 15:23).   Then the disciples used a mixture of spices and myrrh to prepare His body for burial (John 19:39).  The wise men had followed the star for hundreds of miles, knew that God was directing them towards the new king and undoubtedly realized the greed and jealousy that Herod possessed.  Herod had listened to them but had not been eager to come with them even the short distance to Bethlehem.  He let them do the finding so then he could take care of this new rival king.   So…when God warned, they listened and acted.  12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

wise GodGod is wiseHe is not simply all-knowing.  He uses his knowledge to do exactly what is right.  God’s Word is full of His wisdom.  Both His plan of redemption which sent Jesus and His creation are perfectly wise.  All wisdom comes form God.  Job 12:13 ““To God belong wisdom and power;  counsel and understanding are his.”   These traveling Magi or wise men came seeking the Savior.  God in His wisdom led them to come at just the right time and to the exact place He had chosen.  God protected both the men and Jesus’ family from evil Herod who He knew would seek to kill the babe.  The wise men were truly wise as they listened to God.

What about you?  Do you seek to know God and be filled with His wisdom that is in His Word?  Do you have listening hears to hear God’s wisdom when He gives it to you in prayer or through His Word?   Through faith in Jesus we can know God and understand the wise God we serve.  Ephesians 1:7-8  In him(Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished ephesians 1 8on us. With all wisdom and understanding,    Knowing Jesus opens up the wisdom of God to believers so  we can read His Word with understanding, seek to know Him better and live a life filled with godly wisdom.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Seeing the Savior is life changing, just ask the shepherds

shepherd mangerLuke 2:15-20  “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds had a glorious encounter with angels that prompted them to go and seek the child born in Bethlehem.  Their second encounter that day was seeing their Lord and Savior in the flesh, the one that had come to earth to save mankind.  Luke 2:11 was the glorious message they had received, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  People were amazed when they heard their message and Mary treasured what they said and stored it away in her heart.   They all had personally encountered the Savior, Jesus.

jesus saviorGod showed the world their Savior and proclaimed his work on earth even at this humble beginning.  God reached down and rescued sinners from the penalty of death and hell that our sin deserves.  We cannot save ourselves from sin because we are dead in our sin.  God had a plan from eternity past to save His children fully from sin- from the penalty, power and presence of sin.  He sent His Son to live the perfect life we cannot live and die in our place for our sin.  Savior Jesus took all the punishment for our sin and saves us completely.  Romans 5:8 reminds us of God’s motivation for sending His Son and our true condition, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  I love the explanation of why and how God did what He did in Titus 3:4-7 “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, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Through faith we reap the benefits of His love, eternal life, His righteousness in our lives, the indwelling Holy Spirit, His grace, mercy, hope and become heirs with Christ.   We know and serve an amazing Savior.  Thank you Jesus.

What do you do with the message of Jesus the Messiah, Savior who is the Christ? Are you excited, awed and motivated to tell everyone of your Savior?  As you go through your day, think about the message the shepherds received.  Ask yourself, what am I jesus reason for the seasondoing about the Savior who is Christ the Lord?  Am I telling others of His wonderful love, salvation, hope and eternal life?  If not, why not?  Christ is the reason for this season as His is the message of Hope for all mankind.  Spread the word!

Linda

I AM…the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Jesus spoke these words in comfort to the disciples as He was preparing them for His death and departure.  Some of the most comforting words Jesus spoke come in John 14:1-4 “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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”   Jesus wanted them to know He was leaving but for them not to fear and know He was going to get a place in heaven ready for them.  Thomas did not understand and questioned Jesus in verse 5, “Lord, we do not know where you are John 14-6 I Am The Way The Truth And The Life blackgoing. How can we know the way?”  Jesus’ answer is profound and complete.  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6    He went on to tell Thomas and the others how He and the Father were one and if they had seen Him then they also had see God the Father and knew Him to be true.

What did Jesus mean with His I AM statement?   I am the way– the way to heaven and eternal life,  the way to a relationship with God.   I am the truth– He is the truth of God, the gospel.  He is the Life-He is the giver of life-both physical and spiritual, the one who brings eternal life through faith in Him, the one who provides fullness of life here and now.   The way to God is only through faith in Jesus.   Jesus was God and knew that men would doubt, men would seek to earn their way to heaven, that men would claim they knew another way to get to heaven through faith in another person or things.  Jesus knew what was coming and His answer leaves not room for those thoughts.  He is the only way to God and He knows that way perfectly.   He is the truth of God, the Life giver for now and eternity and the pathway to reach full relationship with God is through Him alone.   Martin Luther had it right in His 5 Solices- Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Christ 5 solicesAlone, Grace Alone and Glory to God Alone.  Our faith in Jesus rests on His Word, His person and His Work on the Cross on our behalf.  Thank you Jesus.

Have a blessed day as you ponder the narrowness of the Way to God but also the broadness of it’s extent.  Not one is excluded from coming to Him.  All can come to Him in faith and will be saved.  His arms are wide open to everyone of faith.

Linda

Redeemer, I’m so thankful God that You sent Jesus.

Do you know God as your Redeemer?  In the Old Testament God refers to himself as Redeemer in Isaiah 44:24 “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,  who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things,  who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,”   Because God is creator of all things, only He has the power to redeem, buy back or save His creation.   If you know God as your Savior and Redeemer you are in the know just like Job, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zachariah and Paul who referred to God as their Redeemer.  Read their powerful words and claim them for yourself today.

i-know-my-redeemer-livesJob 19:25-26 “For I know that my Redeemer lives,      
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,”      Job knew the eternal God as his Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”     David knew God was his Redeemer and desired to be humble before Him.

Isaiah 47:4 “Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.”    Isaiah knew God as his Redeemer and revered His name.

Luke 1:68 ““Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.”    Zachariah prophesied the coming of Jesus as our Redeemer.

Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”   Paul knew that Jesus’ death on the cross redeemed us from the curse of sin.

What about you?  Can you say that God is your Redeemer?   We like to save money by using coupons as we shop.  They help us to redeem more money than we deserve.  Jesus did that for us by paying the full price for sin on the cross.  We are able to be redeemed as we put our trust and faith in Him knowing He is always faithful to carry out His work ephesians 3 20within us.  This is my prayer for you today from Ephesians 3:17-20 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”   Amen.

 

Linda

Does God provide the light in your life?

psalm 27 1Light   When we say the word light, many things come to mind- glowing illumination, brightness, no more darkness, hope, direction, guidance…..   In Psalm 27 David speaks about the ultimate light of the world, God.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—    With God as his light-                     whom shall I fear?                                      he  knew salvation & no fear
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—       With God as his light- 
    of whom shall I be afraid?                         he knew strength & no fear

When the wicked advance against me      With God as his light-  he knew his enemies 
    to devour me,                                                       would crumble. 
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,                    With God as his light- he knew he would not 
    my heart will not fear;                           break under pressure but live with confidence     though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord                 With God as his light- God would always be             this only do I seek:                                                           with him, making life beautiful
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

How about you?  Is God your light?   Jesus tells us in John 8:12 ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Having Jesus in your life dispels the darkness of sin, keeps you from living in fear, gives you salvation and strength and makes all things around you to be illuminated by God’s light.  Just like David, we can see God’s light and we can know Him personally through His Son.

David ends this Psalm with a reminder to wait patiently for the Lord.  Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.”

psalm-27 14Knowing God is light and will provide direction so we can see how to proceed,  David admonishes us to wait for the Lord.   I know, easier said than done, but it is a good reminder that our timetable for things is not the Lord’s.  In His light we can walk with confidence and trust His leading as we wait for His perfect timing.

Will you walk seeking God’s light in your life today?  Will you grow in trust for Him as you wait His perfect timing?  If you are struggling with God’s timing, pray and ask for patience and guidance as you wait upon Him.

Linda

Property of Jesus, that’s me!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been bought with a price and belong to God.  The concept that we belong to God gives me hope, assurance and confidence for living.  Someone, the greatest someone in the Universe, God, cares about me and loves me.  He loved me enough to sacrifice greatly on my behalf, by sending Jesus to redeem me.  1 Corinthians 6:19,20 ” Or do you not know that your JesusPropertybody is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”   When we accept Jesus as our Savior, His Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us.  Jesus died so that this transformation within us would be possible through faith in Him.  Paul is saying we owe a debt of gratitude for the amazing grace God bestowed upon us.  We need to treat our bodies- mind, soul and spirit with the upmost care as that saved body and spirit came at a high price.  What makes this so amazing is that Jesus did it freely with no obligation on our part.  We cannot earn it nor did we deserve it!  Humility and obedience are the way to honor God with our bodies in return for His grace to us.  He has a purpose and a plan for us that will bring peace, joy and hope to us and honor to Him.

Linda

Suggestion:  take time today to focus on a way to honor God in your mind (in prayer or holding thoughts captive to Christ), in your speech (words you say to others) and in action (with your body as you look to helping others).   Seek to glorify Him today!

Christ has it – No need to worry or fret!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have untold resources and possibleriches available to me in Christ.  Once we grasp this concept of riches in Christ, a whole new world is opened to us.  As Jesus said, in Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Here are some key verses about God’s riches given to us in ChristPhilippians 4:19 philippians 4 19is a wonderful promise from God. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  God knows what we need and promises to supply all our needs.  When I am stressing over money, relationships or personal suffering, I take great comfort in knowing Jesus has my back and will provide all that I need whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.  He is there with me and knows my needs before even I do.  In Colossians 2:2-3,  Paul expands the idea as he speaks to the Colossains. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so col 2 2 3that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.   Jesus has resources that can bring me complete understanding and encourage me to work together for Him in love.

The riches available to us in Christ are for:  the strengthening of our faith, the release from worry about material provisions, the increase in understanding of His Word and the understanding of the mystery of salvation, atonement, sanctification, forgiveness, justification, Christlike living, fruits of the Holy Spirit, ……    With this increased knowledge and focus we are rich and have all we need for godly living in Christ! Like the Colossians we will  be united in purpose and love as we serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

Linda

Suggestion:  Make a list of the things you understand about Christ today that were hard or unknown to you before becoming a follower of Jesus.  You will be thankful and amazed.  Make a list ways God has provided for you in just the last few months.  You will be thankful and amazed!  Thank you Jesus.

My entrance ticket is valid and being used daily, is yours?

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have entrance into His kingdom.  The gospels refer to the kingdom of God frequently.  Jesus said that one needs child like faith in God to gain entrance.  Mark 10:15  “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  Jesus said that entrance would be harder for the wealthy as laying aside their wealth to pursue God’s kingdom is tough.  Mark 10:25 “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  Jesus was sent to proclaim the good news of His kingdom and He sent the disciples out to proclaim it too.  Luke 9:2 “and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”  Jesus used parables to describe His kingdom with the mustard seed and leaven in Luke 13:18-19,21 “He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 21 “It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three God's kingdommeasures of flour, until it was all leavened.”  All of these examples tell us that to see the kingdom of God we must have faith, as a child, set aside our worldly goals in pursuit of His kingdom,  be dedicated to telling others about Jesus and growing continually in our love for Jesus.

John tells us straight out how we can gain entrance into God’s kingdom.  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3    Paul explains in Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Entrance into God’s kingdom comes through faith in Jesus and the power of the romans 14 17indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us to live in and for His kingdom day by day.   Because of Jesus and His work on the cross, I can gain entrance into God’s kingdom now and forever through faith in Him.  Christ alone is the answer!

Linda

Suggestion:  Take inventory of your kingdom benefits- do you feel you have right standing with God because of Christ?  Do you have peace and joy from the inside out provided by the Holy Spirit?  Look to Jesus and ask Him with a repentant heart to clean your heart and mind and give you indwelling joy and peace.  He is faithful and will provide what you need to be whole.