What is your battle plan? Got armor?

Ephesians 6:13 is a promise we can all claim.  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”   God promises that wearing His armor will enable us to stand firmly against Satan’s attacks.   His armor provides us with what we need for this fight when combined with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power.  God’s armor includes truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation , the Word of God and prayer.  That is a treasure trove of pieces God provides for our fight.

Here are some Lessons and Truths from this verse:

  • God’s armor protects me in both physical and spiritual battles.
  • God’s armor fully covers me.
  • God desire me to stand firm in my faith.
  • Our world contains evil that desires to defeat and destroy my faith.
  • God wants me to do my best and then remain standing in Him.
  • God is more powerful than Satan.

ephesians 6 13Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be filled with His Holy Spirit and protected by His armor to face the challenges of each day.  May you be emboldened today as you step out in faith, knowing and trusting God to have you protected through His armor.  Put it on and step out!

Linda

The Cross = oneness and giftedness in Christ!

Ephesians 4:4-7 is a beautiful passage to be cherished by believers.  We are all called to be a part of God’s family and share in what we have in Christ,  and yet God sees us as epheisans 4 4-7individuals with different needs.

“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.   There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all,   who is over all, in all, and living through all.  However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.”

God,  the creator,  who is Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient  is our Heavenly Father.   He is in everything we do, everywhere we go and in every action we take.  We are to be in His presence daily, walking with Him and letting His Holy Spirit guide and direct us.  I love the fact that we are individuals before God.  He gave us special gifts through Christ when we became believers.  Each one of us is seen as useful and productive for the kingdom and are given gifts so we can successfully work and live for Him.

Do you feel isolated or a part of the body of Christ?   Are you connected in meaningful ways to other believers?  What about your gifts?  Are you using your God given talents to accomplish work for the Lord?  Lent is a time of reflection.  Ponder what your gifts may be, read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 to seek clarity about gifts, think about the things you do for others in Jesus’ name- what brings you the most joy and peace?   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.

ephesians 4 7May you be lifted up as you pray and meditate on the power of God’s family in your life and your gifts.  Be encouraged as God has special gifts for each of us though the grace of Christ!

Linda

The Cross = access to God!

Paul concludes this section on the mystery of the gospel and his work among the Ephesians as a teacher and preacher with a revelation about the unique freedom they now have in Christ.  Ephesians 3:12 “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”   3 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.”  Paul  wanted them to focus on the position available to them because of their faith in Christ and not to feel sorry for him as he writes to them from prison in Rome.  He felt it was a privilege to suffer in the name of Christ, not a burden.

So what is this unique freedom we now have as believers in Christ?  Paul says we now have the ability to come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  This is a  unique status given only to believers. Ephesians 3-12Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have access to the God the Father in prayer.  We do not need to go to or though anyone to have our requests made known to God.  In the past, the Israelites had to go through their High Priest to present their needs to the Lord.  Now, each person can approach the throne of God in prayer and lay your heart’s desires,  needs,  hopes and dreams before the Lord.  The Lord Jesus is now our High Priest and presents our prayers to the Father. When we struggle for words or thoughts, Jesus intercedes for us and knows exactly what we are thinking or feeling.  Hebrews 8:1b “we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,”   

Here are a few verses that talk about this unique privilege of prayer:

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

1 John 5:14:  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

hebrews 4-16 confidencePray with confidence today, God hears your prayers.  Pray to stay in God’s will and He will give you the grace and mercy you need.  God is faithful and keeps His promises.  I love Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”  God is 100% faithful and will hear our prayers.   His ways are not our ways, so we need trust Him and not  seek to demand our own way or try to tell God what to do.  I am always amazed at God’s answers to my prayers as He often answers in ways I could never have imagined.  Pray in faith, knowing He absolutely hears you and let God take care of the details!     Thank you Jesus for interceding for me as I approach the Father in prayer. 

Linda

The Cross = unity for all believers

Paul concludes this Chapter 2 of Ephesians with very persuasive words for the Ephesian Christians.   They are all indeed part of the family of God!   Gentiles are no longer considered aliens but full members in God’s house.  This house of God is built on Jesus, as the builders would say, He is the chief cornerstone of the church and it is filled with His Holy Spirit. The faith of those before us, the apostles and prophets, are solidly at the foundational level of this building called God’s church.   All believers in Jesus add levels to the ‘building’ God is building with us.  Paul also wants us to know that no one is without family, all belong with the Father through faith in Jesus.

ephesians 2 20Ephesians 2:19-23  “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.”   

I am sure that Paul’s letter was a great relief to the leader’s of the Ephesian church as Paul tried to settle the issue of differences, entitlement, arrogance and snobbery.  We are family of Godall one in God’s church and Jesus is our foundation.  Praise God!  I love this message and have been a part of several Interdenominational Bible Studies for many years.  I love the community of believers and the strength of the gospel message that we are all believers in the same cross, the same Lord and the same Spirit.  Paul’s message brings unity to believers and open handedness  among believers.

Who can you reach out to today with an open heart of love and acceptance?   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.

Linda

Experiencing His Power within

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 Ephesians 1-18in 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 power 20 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.”

god-in-me-2-sensory-fontToday 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.

Linda

#9 Practicing Devotion to God- by relying upon His Grace

 What is Grace? It is defined as God’s unmerited favor towards us.   We did nothing and can do nothing to deserve His favor.  It is something that God gives us freely by faith in Jesus from the depth of His love for us.  Scripture teaches us that God’s grace is always sufficient and because God is omnipotent He will never run out of grace.  2Corinthians 12-92 Corinthians 12:9  is one of my go to verses for power, strength and assurance about God’s grace.  Paul recalls the words of Christ to him,  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”    God graciously gives us what we need in our weakness and brings glory to Himself by showing His power in our lives.   I cling to the sufficiency of His grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”   We are saved by grace_alone_770x280His grace, certainly not by anything we have done or will do.  We cannot be good enough, clean enough or pure enough on our own. Salvation is a gracious gift of God given to us through our faith in Jesus.  He saves us by grace and graciously uses us to do  His good works.  He could do everything himself,  but He graciously allows us to participate for our good and His glory.

Hebrews 4:16 adds one other dimension to His grace towards us.   Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   Because of our faith in Jesus, our high priest, and His work on the cross, we have access to God and can approach Him in prayer.  When we do, we are assured that we will find grace and mercy in our times of need.  There is never a time that God is not with me and I can always know that He will meet my needs with grace and mercy.  What a blessed hope!

GodsGraceMay you grow to trust in His grace, lean into and depend upon His grace and let His grace give you Hope as you draw near to Him with a heart of love and devotion.

Linda

I pray you have been blessed as  much as I have by going through these 9 practical ways to show our loyalty and devotion to God.  We can practice devotion to God by:  recalling His attributes, remembering His good works towards us, relating to Him in prayer, reading and meditating on His Word, resting in our identity in Christ,  repenting regularly, responding to the world biblically, remembering our Savior and relying upon His grace.  May you remember to incorporate these into your life on a daily basis and receive His blessings!

Total Hope, where do you find it?

These first few weeks of 2020 I have been looking into HOPE as it is my chosen word for the year.  I saw survival hope in Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”, Hope in God’s Word, Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield;  I hope in your word.”,  Hope in God’s steadfast Love, Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,”, Hope in the future, Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” and daily Hope for living, Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  

Today’s verse helps me to see that God is my Total HopePsalm 62:5-7                            psalm 62 5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”     

I love the truth of these words written by the psalmist David so long ago.  They are truths confirmed throughout scripture.  My hope comes from God aloneHe is the one who stands by me and holds me in times of distress and trouble  Psalm 107:13 “they cried to the Lord in their trouble,   and he delivered them from their distress.”   God is so strong and mighty, so sure and complete that He cannot be shaken, Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.    He gave me salvation through faith in Jesus, Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”.   God alone is working in my life to mold and shape me into the person He desires me to be and shares His glorious attributes with me,  Romans 5:3-5 “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.”   He is the holder of my salvation and sent the Holy Spirit as my guarantee, 2 Corinthians 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Do these truths about God alone give you Hope for surviving, loving, learning and leaning on the truth of His Word, for looking into the future and for daily living?  God is my total Hope and that Hope is in Him alone.  He is and has all the hope I need.  in christ alone“Thank you Jesus for bringing God’s Hope to me.”  

May you grab hold of His Hope today and be uplifted and strengthened.

Linda

What Stops You from Giving Thanks?

Daniel was an upright believer in God who was in a position of power in Babylon.  His adversaries hated him and sought to discredit him.   They tried but could find nothing to hold against him.  So, they got the idea to ask King Darius, over the Medo-Persian Empire, to make a law that no one could pray to any other god but him for a whole month.  The king was pleased, puffed up and overtaken with pride,  so he signed a law making it unlawful, on penalty of death, to worship any god but him.  The men who hated Daniel knew Daniel prayed to the God of Israel three times a day without fail.  They were hoping that he could continue this and then they could catch him and have him put to death.

Daniel 6:10 “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”   Daniel knew of their hatred and deceit but he trusted God more.  The story continues and Daniel is called before the king for praying to his God.  The king realized his mistake but could not change the law, since once a law was signed even the king was helpless to change it.  The penalty was being cast into a den with hungry lions.  The king liked Daniel and did not want to see him killed but was powerless.  The unbelieving king did something amazing, “Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.  Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to daniel 6 21the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:16,18,19-22 

The lesson for us in this favorite Old Testament story that is that Daniel was committed to God.  He knew his God was more powerful than any earthly king,  and he would not relinquish God’s place of preeminence in his life to anyone, no matter the cost.  Daniel 6:10 said he prayed as was his custom and gave thanks.  Nothing could deter Daniel from prayer and thanksgiving.   Romans 12:12 describes Daniel’s attitude towards prayer. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

romans 12 12What about you?  What stops you from praying daily?  Our obstacles could not be any bigger than death by lions,  but we let them rob us of our prayer time and take away our opportunities to give thanks and praise Almighty God.  Will you mediate on this today and ask God to reveal to you what is taking preeminence in your life that keeps you from regular prayer?  Confess it to Him and start praying regularly with praise and thanksgiving.

Linda 

Are you in the crowd? Why did Jesus come to you?

There is one other post-resurrection appearance I want to think about as we wait for Pentecost.  Paul recounts to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the appearances between Christ’s purposeful death and resurrection and His ascension back into heaven. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,(Christ died and rose again with purpose foretold in scripture)and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (Paul is referring to his encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus that happened sometime later.)

eyewitnessesHave you ever wondered about the large gathering of 500 that saw Jesus?  What was His purpose?  In each post-resurrection appearance, Jesus purposefully met with those who needed to see Him most- the grieving Mary, the doubting Thomas, the guilt ridden Peter and the unbelieving disciples.  What could have been His reason for appearing to 500?  Perhaps He wanted those who did not know Him as intimately as the disciples to experience His love and power first hand?  Perhaps He wanted to make known the reality that He was alive and they could carry on.  Perhaps He wanted to comfort, ignite, give hope, ….  Seeing Him again, knowing the reality of His death on the cross, knowing He had been buried and was alive for them to see must have been eyeopening, challenging, fearsome, awesome, unbelievable…..  One can only imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus.

Today as you think about this, try to picture yourself as one of the 500.  We have an advantage as we have His indwelling Holy Spirit within us to convict us and bear witness to our faith.  We do not need to see Him to believe.  Jesus addressed this issue in John 20:29 as He spoke to Thomas.  Jesus said to him, “Have you john 20 29 #2believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”   Faith is a blessing from God.   Thank Him today for your ability to believe even though you were not there with the 500. You can know that He loves, cares for you and is with you always.

Linda

Are you like Thomas? Encounter the Living Jesus today!

The disciples had gathered on Resurrection Sunday evening and Jesus appeared to them coming in even though the doors were shut.  Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened.   This was his response from john-20-25-ampJohn 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 would not share in their joy that Christ was alive.

A week passed and they were all gathered in the upper room when Jesus appeared Thomasagain.  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 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.”    

john 20 29Faith 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 Him 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!

Linda