As January is progressing, I’ve been seeking to come to terms with, understand and accept the new word God has given me for 2023. When I was searching related scriptures, there were many that spoke to me and shed light on where God might be going with this. Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” The reason Paul started these verses with therefore is that he was coming to a conclusion. He had been talking about the love and devotion he had heard about in the Colossian church. He had heard how the believers there were showing love and devotion to one another and Christ. These words show where he wants them to be or to go because of their faith and heart for God. Paul desires that they walk with Jesus daily. He wants them rooted and grounded in faith in Christ that will hold them firm in times of trials and tribulations that come in life. He wants them to remember what they had been taught about Christ, God and the Holy Spirit, and what God desires for us in our lives. Paul wants them to remember the truths of faith- salvation, eternal life, hope of His return, a home in heaven with Him, constant support 24/7 as He will never leave us nor forsake us! He wants them to be continually thankful for the abundance they have in Christ and empowerment through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
What amazing gifts God has given to us through faith. May your day be filled with His goodness, hope and reassurances that come through faith in Jesus. He desires the best for us and promises to never leave us- He is always there! I love and cling to Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.“
The second Sunday of Advent is when the candle of faith which is often called the Bethlehem candle is lit. It proclaims the blessing to come because of God’s great love for us, by sending Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. This week’s readings we will focus on Elizabeth’s reaction to learning she will have a child in her old age, the angel’s appearance to Mary, Mary’s response to the angel’s message, the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah, and their reactions to his birth besides the fact that dad could now talk! Prepare your hearts and minds to reach into scripture and discover new meaning for yourself as you read the scripture with faith. Faith pleases God and through our faith in Jesus He blesses us with His love and peace. He also gives us understand and insights into His Word- so be prepared to be blessed this week.
On this second Sunday of Advent, let your heart and mind dwell on the words of Psalm 121. Let them fill you with joy and anticipation that God has all things under control.
I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! 3 He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. 4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.5 The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. 6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.7 The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. 8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
And the journey continues….2 Timothy. Paul wrote this final letter to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, during his final imprisonment in a Roman dungeon prior to his death. He exhorts Timothy to be strong in the faith, reject worldliness and willingly suffer for the cause of Christ. As Timothy’s mentor, we wanted this young minister to continue wholeheartedly for Christ remembering all that Christ had done for him. There are several key verses that shouted out to me as I reread this letter. I pray they will speak to you today as an encouragement from Paul to stay the course of faith and preserve in the face of adversity for the rewards are great and blessings abound.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Paul was telling Timothy that he knew he had a sincere upbringing in faith but to remember the power of faith that came through the Holy Spirit when he believed in Jesus. Paul had led him to Christ and wanted him to remember his gift of faith and that it is one of boldness, power, love and self-control. It is the same with all of us. We have that same gift of faith in Christ and it is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that gives us power for living. Jesus wants us to live fearlessly for Him.
2 Timothy 2:11-13 scholars believe was part of an early Christian hymn Paul included. It speaks of Paul’s faith in Christ and his belief that suffering with Christ will bring great rewards.
11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. The part of this that gives me the most hope is that even in my faithlessness God is always faithful. Faithfulness is an integral part of God’s character from which He can never separate himself. Praise God, He is faithful.
Paul also wrote about the hardships Timothy will face following of Christ. 2 Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” He says evil men and their deeds will always continue to abound but he exhorts Timothy to remember, continue and stand fast holding to God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:14-17″But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In seeking to live a godly life, we too need to remember what we know about God, rely on His faithfulness, delve into scripture so that the Holy Spirit may teach, correct and train us into the men and women Jesus desires us to be in and through Him. The Bible is not just ancient words but the very breath of God given for our growth and benefit. All of it is inspired and through it God seeks to teach us about Himself and how He wants us to act and react in this world we live in. God wants us to do good work and being in His Word will ready us for work in the world. He will equip us with all we need.
Paul has poured himself out to Timothy knowing his remaining time on earth was short. His desires for the continuing faith of this child of God are sincere, heartfelt and instructive. What part of his message do you need today? Are you struggling with fear, faithfulness, and persecution? Or are you in need of teaching, correction and training from God’s Word? Do you not feel equipped to face the ministry to which God has called you? Paul reminded us in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” All promises are Yes in Christ and our faith is established and sealed by Him. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee, our proof, that God is alive and Jesus lives within us. Rejoice as you face each trial as He is with you, will help you persist in faith, teach, guide and equip you with all you will need! Praise God!
The disciples had gathered one evening shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and Jesus appeared to them coming in through the locked doors. Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened. This was his response from John 20:24-25. Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” This is the passage that earned him the nickname of doubting Thomas. He was emphatic that unless he saw the evidences of Jesus death marks himself he would not believe it to be Jesus. Do you know people that are doubters too? Do they reject any evidence that Jesus is the Son of God in scripture purely because they can not see Him for themselves? I’m sure the disciples were totally convinced as to what they had seen but saddened that Thomas could not share in the joy of Christ being alive because of his unbelief.
A week passed and they were all gathered again in the upper room and Jesus appeared. John 20:26-29 continues the story, “Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus knew what Thomas needed and came right to him. Thomas was amazed and proclaimed Jesus his Lord and God. To him, seeing was believing. He needed a personal encounter with the living Jesus! Jesus added this next verse for Thomas, the disciples and all of us. 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Faith is a gift from God and we who believe in Jesus are blessed with the knowledge of Him as our Savior. However, each one of us who believes encountered the living Christ and came to know Him in a personal, vibrant and living way. Even though we do not physically see Him, we can and do know within our being that Jesus is Alive! The Holy Spirit indwells us when we believe in Jesus and testifies to us about Him. Jesus had promised this in John 15:26 ““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” Later Paul, explains in Ephesians 1:13-14 how the Holy Spirit works within us, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
Praise God we too can know and experience Him in our lives. We are blessed – Just as Jesus said we would be through our faith in Him! Have a blessed day as you ponder the wonder of Jesus being alive in your life!
As is Paul’s custom, he begins his letter to the Colossian Christians with prayers of thanksgiving.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, Colossian 1:3-4
Is thankfulness your first response when you consider your friends of faith? Are you able to focus on how God is using them in His work and thank God for their presence in your life? In Philippians 4:6, Paul puts it this way, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” As we pray for those people in our lives, God wants us focused on being thankful and then asking Him for direction and guidance in our life. Paul wanted to express his thanks to God for these faithful, grace filled co-workers that lived in Colossae. This group of new believers had a special place in his heart as they showed their faith and love actively to other believers. They were living out Jesus command in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As you begin this Lenten journey, who do you have in your life that you are thankful for? Give Thanks. Who do you serve with at your church or other Christian organizations that you are thankful for their working with you in the cause of Christ? Give Thanks. Who is in the need of prayer? Give Thanks that you can support them in prayer. I cling to the truth in Philippians 4:7. Praying with thankful hearts brings God’s peace and will focus us upon Jesus. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,I can pray with a thank-filled heart and experience the love of Jesus in my life through and with other believers.
The second Sunday of Advent is when the candle of faith or love is lit. Both of these proclaim the blessing to come because of God’s great love for us, by sending Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. This week we will focus on the angel’s appearance to Mary, her reaction, the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah, and their reactions to his birth besides the fact that dad could now talk! Prepare your hearts and minds to reach into scripture and discover new meaning for yourself as you read the scripture with faith. Faith pleases God and through our faith in Jesus He blesses us with His love and peace. He also gives us understand and insights into His Word- so be prepared to be blessed this week.
I will leave you today with this Psalm 92:1-5 and 12-15
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
92 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, 3 to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. 4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 5 How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 15 to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
What is your response when someone gives you a gift? Usually people say Thank you. Have you said Thank you to Jesus for the most precious of gift He and the Father have given you? FaithHebrews 11:1 describes faith this way, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is knowing God exists and has the world now and in the future in His hands. It is the knowing in our heart, mind and soul that God is who He says He is and that He exists now and forever.
Here are some scriptures about faith to meditate on. Let them create in you greater thankfulness. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” Know that God desires all to come to Him in faith and He is waiting for those who still do not believe, or have faith in Him, to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
How did you come to faith in Jesus? How do you know for sure that He died for your sins, rose from the dead and now has His Holy Spirit indwelling you? Here is the truth, plain and simple, faith is a gift from God. We can’t make ourselves believe, work or learn to believe, nor can we ask someone else to give us their faith. Each person comes to Faith by answering God’s call upon their life by accepting His gift of faith. He gives it to us. For this we should be eternally thankful. The gift of faith is special and shows God’s love and favor towards us.
Thank God for your gift of faith. It is so easy to take it for granted or wrongly assume it is because of something I have done for God. No, it is a gift pure and simple. Let God know how much you love and appreciate His gift of faith.
On Day 16, we looked at 7 amazing reasons for faith. Today’s verse looks more specifically at #7- salvation that leads to eternal life in Him. John 11:25-26 is a familiar precious promise from God “Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”” Jesus spoke these words to Martha, the sister of Lazarus who had just died and was recently buried. She was upset that Jesus had not made it Bethany before Lazarus died, for she knew he could have saved him from dying. Jesus’ message to Martha, and you an me, is that belief in Him guarantees resurrection to new life. Belief in Jesus brings a life one can live in Him now and for eternity. His words were meant to encourage, bring hope and challenge Martha’s faith.
His question to Martha, do you believe me?, is the same question He asks each of us. If your answer is YES, then the thought of eternal life with Jesus, living forever with Him should bring you eternal joy. No one likes to think about leaving their life and dying, but Jesus is reassuring each of us that He has it covered. He will be with us, protect and guide us into our next stage of life with Him. If your answer was NO, then may His words bring you to Him today with a repentant and open heart.
May your heart rejoice over this promise. You can be thankful that God is eternal. God is greater than anything you will ever face- even death. God desires that you live without fear of death and know He has a plan for your life. Rejoice in the hope of resurrection and let that joy fill your heart with thanksgiving.
Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups. I previously wrote about Jesus’ encounter with Mary, but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearances to Peter and James. The appearance to Peter is mentioned in passing in Luke 24:34 “saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” and in 1 Corinthians 15:5 by Paul “and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve”. The Luke message was delivered to the disciples by the two men who Jesus met on the Road to Emmaus. Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his former name. Jesus also referred to Peter by his former name when He told him he would deny Him three time before the rooster crowed. The prediction of the denial is recorded in both Matthew 26 and Mark 14. The actual denial event is recorded in all 4 gospels, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18. Peter was not acting with his new believing nature, clinging to the rock of faith which is Jesus, but with the old, impetuous, doubting nature of unbelieving Simon. This personal appearance to Peter shows great compassion from our Lord to singularly appear to Peter to forgive and restore him. Jesus would have known the anguish and guilt Peter was feeling after his denial of Jesus the night before the Crucifixion. The forgiven Peter went onward, never doubting nor denying his Lord and Savior again. Later, Jesus met a group of disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and spoke more with Peter and his future work in the kingdom. See John 21. Jesus personally knows what we need and seeks to be there for each one of us. What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.
The other post-resurrection appearance that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 was to James. Scholars believe this was James, the half-brother of Jesus, and not one of the other followers named James. His brother did not believe in Christ before the resurrection, but afterward became a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, wrote the book of James and died a martyr’s death in 62 A.D. “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” 1 Corinthians 15:7. This appearance speaks to me of Jesus’ compassion and love for his earthly family and for those who are lost. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”. He knew James needed to see Him personally to be confronted with his unbelief. Jesus does that for each one of us as we seek to come to faith and trust in Him. He is a personal God that loves and cares for each of us.
Is Jesus personal to you today? Do you claim Him as your God and Savior? David did in 2 Samuel 22:3 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation,” Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” and Thomas did in John 20:28 “Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.
As Paul wrote that he was praying for the Ephesian believers, he eloquently told them he was praying for the eyes of their hearts to be flooded with light. He wanted them to know God, know His power and believe that they possess a portion of that same power in their lives. Ephesians 1:18-20 “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”
Ask yourself, do I feel flooded with His light in my life? Am I confident and assured in my faith? Do I feel like I belong to Him? Paul says we can be sure of His love and power in our lives as it is the same power that raised Christ from the dead! His indwelling Holy Spirit is that power in our lives. The same power that created the universe and defeated death lives within us. When we truly grasp this truth, there is nothing that can shake or defeat us. In Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Today ask God to show you His power within as you step out in faith to engage in your day. May you have a new sense of confidence and awareness of His Holy Spirit within you.