A Recipe for Blessings

psalm 40 4Today’s blessing passage comes from Psalm 40.  David leads up to verses 4 and 5 by describing the wonderful things God has done for him and can do for us.  By the time we get to verse 4, we are ready to see how trusting the Lord can and does bring great blessing and to tell others of God’s greatness.

40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry      In life, David had learned to wait upon the Lord patiently even when it was hard.  He experienced God’s hearing his pleas for help and His rescues personally as he waited 14 years to be king while running and hiding from Saul.  Is God asking you to wait patiently today?                  He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.             David had been rescued by God from Saul, the Philistines and from his own sinful mistakes multiple times, and he had experienced God’s restoration both physically and spiritually.  Is this your story too?
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.    David praised God for keeping him and giving him a new song of praise to sing, and he is calling others to put their trust in his saving God.  If you could name your new song from God, what would be the title?

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!   Here David reaches the conclusion that one who trusts in God and not worldly things or advice is and will be truly blessed.  Trusting God leads to wholeness in life.
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.      Lastly, David praises God for His grace, mercy, blessings and acts towards us. Even if we started now and praised all day long we could never tell of all the wonderful things God has done on our behalf.  We are truly blessed by Almighty God and no one or nothing can compare to Him!

The first 5 verses of this Psalm are all about blessings David experienced first hand and so can we.  God listens and desires that we wait patiently for His perfect timing.  God will lift us out of hard circumstances in life and set us upon solid ground if we will place our trust in Him.  He will give us a new song to sing as we walk with Him day by day.  We will be blessed by trusting in Him and not looking elsewhere for our direction and guidance.  God has given and will give us abundant blessings for walking in trust and faith.

today blessingWhat a wonderful recipe for success in life– patience in listening, trusting God to rescue and provide, singing His song, looking to Him for guidance and advice and telling about His goodness.  Will you make this your intent today?   Look for blessings if you do!

Linda

Prepare the Way for the LORD!

Isaiah 40 1Isaiah 40:1,3,4 opens the Messiah and that is where our Advent story begins.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”  A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.

It had been 400 years since the prophet Malachi had spoken and the people were hungry and eager to hear from God.  Hundreds of years before Isaiah had prophesied that the people would be comforted by the voice of one crying in the wilderness who will proclaim the arrival of the Messiah.  The one spoken of here is John the Baptist.  His mother Elizabeth was Mary’s Aunt and their babies were due months apart.  Zachariah, John’s father, had received visit from the angel Gabriel foretelling the birth of this forerunner of Jesus.  Luke 1:13-17 “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will luke 1 17bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.   Just as Isaiah had prophesied,  John came and proclaimed a message of repentance and prepared the people for the Lord’s coming.

Isaiah also spoke of leveling the ground in Isaiah 26:7 The path of the righteous is level;
    you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”   Jesus, Messiah, would come and make way for the righteous.  Jesus indeed smoothed the way for mankind to be made righteous through His coming, His death and His resurrection.  All the mountains of sin that stood between God and man were made low through His sacrifice.  Jesus made “every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain” for those of faith to come to God.  He removed the barrier of sin between us and holy God.  Jesus made the way for us to be saved.

John, the herald of Jesus, came to call Israel to repentance and faith.  Let us answer his call today  as we meditate on the beauty, exactness and completeness of God’s Word and the hope we have in Jesus.

Let our Advent journey begin with repentance,

Linda

I AM the Shield

God is our shieldIn Deuteronomy 33:29 the LORD gave 2 names by which God is known- the Glorious Sword and the Shield.  Previously I wrote about the Glorious Sword but today my focus is on God’s name-the Shield.  Blessed are you, Israel!  Who is like you,  a people saved by the Lord?  He is your shield and helper  and your glorious sword.  Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights.”  God was the shield for His people in Old Testament times and today He is a shield for all believers.  Through faith in Jesus we can claim God as our Shield and helper.    I looked up the word shield and found several definitions – armor held to ward off blows or missiles, a person or thing that guards, protects or defends and a shape in various forms that protects in tunnels from cave-ins, a heavy metal screen like a heat shield, insulating wire that shields against electrocution, or a protective screen against radiation.  As you look at the verses below-see how God is the perfect shield in all circumstances!

ephesians 6 16Ephesians 6:16 “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”    God is a Shield against Satan’s arrows or missiles.

Psalm 3:3 ” But you, Lord, are a shield around me,  my glory, the One who lifts my head high.  God is the person who shield and defends. 

Psalm 5:12  “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;  you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”   

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield;  my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy,  and with my song I praise him.”    

Is God your all around shield that protects you in all circumstances against the world that seeks to destroy your witness and lead you away from Him?  Consider these verses:

Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect:  The Lord’s word is flawless;  he shields all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield;  the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold  from those whose walk is blameless.

Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers,  and under his wings you will find refuge;  his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Psalm 119:114 “You are my refuge and my shield;  I have put my hope in your word.”

Proverbs 30:5 ““Every word of God is flawless;  he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

God's protective careAs a believer, God promises to be the Shield in your life.  American Civil war hero, Stonewall Jackson, claimed God as his shield and was so thankful.  How about you?  Be encouraged today!

Linda

 

 

I AM the God who is There

glory of GodDo you ever think about where God is?  In the Old Testament God came to dwell in the wilderness Tabernacle filling it with His Shekinah glory.   As they traveled in the wilderness God went with them guiding their way with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.  When they had their camp set up, God dwelt in the tabernacle in their midst.  Exodus 40:34-35 “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lordfilled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”  It is a beautiful picture of God’s abiding presence and guidance.   Ezekiel had prophetic visions of the future and closes his book with the rebuilt temple and city of God in the future.  Ezekiel 48:35 “The circumference of the city shall be 7-jehovah-shammah18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.,”  Jehovah-Shammah.     John’s prophetic vision of the City of God in Revelation 21:3 also speaks of God’s abiding presence there.  “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

It is God’s intention to live with us.  He is Personal and desires a relationship with each and every believer.  In the past God dwelt in the tabernacle and temple, in the future, God will dwell with us as described in Ezekiel and Revelation,  but what about now?  Jesus speaks of the benefits of abiding in Him, living with Him.  We will be living free in His Word, John 8:31.  We will be bearing much fruit for God, John 15:4.  We will have the power to live for Him, John 15:5.  We will be connected to God and see answers to our prayers, John 15:7.  We will be surrounded by His love, John 15:9.  We will be able to honor God by keeping His commandments, John 15:10.   Jesus promised to send the comforter, counselor to guide us and abide with us after His death.  Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”   Acts  2 records the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and how God’s Spirit indwelt the believers giving them power to live for Him.  Peter preached to the crowd that day,  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”Act 2:38.    Later in Acts Paul and Silas were in prison and the Lord shook the prison and opened the cells.  The jailer rushed in thinking they were gone and found them in their cell. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Acts 16:30-31  Just like the Philippian jailer we can experience that indwelling power of God’s Holy Spirit and have God abiding, living within us.  We can follow his example and believe in Jesus. When we abide in usdo,  God promises He will send His Holy Spirit to abide or live with us.  He will be with us to guide and comfort, strengthen and love us from the inside out.  God is There with us.

Abide in Him,

Linda

 

I AM your Banner

This curious statement comes in Exodus 17:15. “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner,”  Moses and the children of Israel were still wandering in the desert when this event occurred.  They were camped at Rephidim and were attacked by the Amalekites who lived in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula.   Moses ordered Joshua to take fighting men and go out and confront them in battle.  Moses along with Aaron and Hur would view the battle from the top of a hill.  Moses told Joshua he would stand on the hill with the staff of God in his hands, which was the staff that God had used through Moses to perform many miracles.   The battle began and as long as Moses’ hands with the staff were uplifted they were winning but if his hand and staff dropped they began losing.  So Aaron and Hur sat Moses on a rock and held up his hand banneruntil the battle was won.   When the victory was complete, Moses built and altar to the Lord and called it “The Lord is my Banner.”  “saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! 16a

What is a banner?  By definition a banner is:  a piece of cloth bearing a design, motto or slogan sometimes attached to a staff and used as a battle standard,  a flag (like the Star-Spangled Banner) or a headline in a newspaper.  The meaning that seems to fit this event would really be all 3- the battle standard or flag declaring who God is and the announcement that God is the Banner for the those who believe.  Moses wanted all to remember that God was the reason they won the battle with the Amalekites, and they were God’s people waving His Banner over their lives.  What about you?  Do you wave God’s banner over your life?  Are your ‘battles’ in life solved with the Lord’s power and direction?  A couple of promises come to mind promises keptwhere God promises to be with us in and through things for our good and His glory “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.” Deuteronomy 31:6,  “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 and “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”   2 Timothy 1:7.   Where do you need God to be your Banner today?  Look to Him for courage, power and love to overcome the obstacles you face today. Claim His promises and fly His Banner in victory.

Flying the Banner of God is a life-time privilege and honor,

Linda

I AM the God who Provides

I have always been fascinated by the I AM statements God makes about Himself in the Bible.  They convey the power, majesty and greatness of God and increase my trust in who God is.  The second I AM proclamation I’m going to look at is in Genesis 22 and was made before God’s revelation of I AM Who I AM in Exodus.  This was made to Abraham on Mt Moriah where he went to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, by God’s direction.  Isaac Gen-221asked where the sacrifice was going to come from and Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”  Genesis 22:8    Then they proceeded up the mountain together.  This story has always troubled me as God had asked Abraham to do the unthinkable, sacrifice his only son.  It is a picture to us of the anguish God must have felt in sending Jesus to die for our sins.  He provides for us the ultimate sacrifice to remove our sins forever through His only Son’s sacrifice in Jesus’ death on the cross.  I have thought that Abraham knew  and trusted God’s promise of becoming a great nation, children as numerous as the stars and blessing the whole world which God had given him in Genesis 12 and 15.  He trusted God to provide whatever was needed and even to the point of resurrecting Isaac if needed.     Genesis 22:13-14 tells us what happened.  “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”   God showed himself as the provider of life, of sacrifice, of hope, of the future and of faith to Abraham.  He had great faith in his God who would provide.

Do you see God as the I AM who will provide?  One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”   God promises to provide what I need just like He did for Abraham on that mountain.  It is a matter of trusting God to provide.  Claiming and reciting this verse makes me focus and remember that God can and will provide for me even when it seems that the odds of that happening are very much against it.  I believe Abraham would have said the same as he trudged up the mountain with the wood and his son.  Take a step of faith closer to God today.  Trust Him instead of worrying.  Let the anxiety go and place it his-provisionin God’s hands.  “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

Loving Jesus requires a walk of trust in His great provision.

Linda

Who is God? I AM

Moses fled out of Egypt for killing a Hebrew slave, Exodus 2, and ended up in Midian.  He married a Midianite woman and settled there as a shepherd.   He was out in the wilderness when God appeared to him in a ‘burning bush’ that was not consumed.  God told Moses he was to return to Egypt and bring the Israelite people out of Egypt to freedom in Promised Land of Canaan.  Moses was reluctant to say the least and posed many questions to God as excuses as to why he could not possibly go and do this for Him.   He objected with why me? Then what if they don’t believe me?  I’m not eloquent enough.  God patiently responded to each of his objections.   In Exodus 3:13-14 Moses I amquestioned who God is, His name.  Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 

Why is this answer of who God is important?  It reveals God’s name YHWH, Yahweh or His divine name.  It was written without vowels as they did not even speak the name of God because it was so holy.   It tells us that God is who He is –self-existent and not dependent upon anyone for His existence.  It tell us that God is the creator and sustainer of all that exists.  It tells us that God is- unchanging and immutable, has been and always will be.  It tell us that God is eternal, He always existed and will always exist.  It assured Moses that God in His sovereign power can do all things and will be with him on this journey back to Egypt and beyond.

2017-07-09-The-Great-I-AM-600x600We too can be assured by the great I AM.  He is immutable and we can depend upon Him.  Hebrews 13:8  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”   He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Knowing God is eternal and dependent upon nothing else gives us security and assurance of our future with Him. John 14:1-2 “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?” 

Have a blessed day as you cling to the promises of the great I AM.

Linda

A Transformed Heart is filled with…obedience

Do you think of yourself as obedient?  Do you readily obey your parents, the codes of conduct in your society or even your own heart’s desires?  All of those may be in conflict with God’s desires for your life and the necessary obedience needed to follow Him.  Because we are sinners and live in a sinful world, obedience does not come naturally.  It is against our sin nature to do what others desire of us or even what we desire ourselves for our future since we are rebellious at heart.  So how do we become obedient to God and His Word?  Peter gives us direction in 1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  God calls us to be holy and to follow Him in obedience.  Peter goes on in verses 18-19 to explain to root of our ability to obey, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”  Because of Christ’s death on the cross we become His children through faith in Him and His redeeming work.  We are given the godly motivation, godly direction and ability to be obedient from our heart through our faith in Jesus.   

romans 6 17I love the way Paul explains this transformation in Romans 6:17-18  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”  Faith in Jesus sets me free from the bondage of sin that holds my heart and actions and frees me to serve with an obedient heart the Jesus I love.

What about you?  Does your love and faith in Jesus cause you to desire to be obedient to Him and His Word?  Do you find following Jesus hard?  Even Paul stated in Romans that I hate what I dohe struggled to do what God wants him to do because of his own sin nature.  Romans 7:19-2019 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”    He summarizes his condition of faith in verse 24-25.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”  His final conclusion to this dilemma is profound in Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the romans 8 1-2law of sin and death.”   Jesus is the answer and He frees us from our bondage to sin.

May your heart be filled with the love of Jesus today so that you may live with a heart that is wholeheartedly obedient to Him.

Linda

A Transformed Heart is filled with….faith and love

When we take the leap of faith and step out with Jesus, we are putting our trust in Him to be the guiding force in our lives from now through all eternity.  That step brings about a transformation in our hearts that solidifies our faith in Him.  With a heart committed to Jesus, scripture teaches that our hearts become filled with love for God and our fellow man.  Let’s look at Ephesians ephesians_3_173:16-19.  16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”   

Paul first reminds us of God’s total power and resources.(16)  Then having Christ in our hearts will give us deep rooted love and strength. (17)  That deep love will help us understand God’s love for us – the depth of it.(18)  That love, so hard to understand, will make us complete for a life that is full and power driven.(19)   Peter describes this transforming deep love in 1 Peter 1:22.  22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”   Accepting Jesus and His cleansing power brings about obedience and sincere love for others.   He says we are to love deeply from our hearts.

love deeplyWhat about you?  Do you feel sincere love for others because you know Jesus?  Do you feel that the love God showed to you by sending Jesus makes you love Him even more?  A truly transformed heart is a heart filled with faith in Jesus that manifests itself in our lives by love for God and others.  If you feel you lack this kind of love, ask God for it.  Love for others is a God thing and when we are lacking He tells us to ask Him.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”    Asking, seeking and knocking are to be a continual part of our lives if we desire to have transformed hearts for Him.

Blessings as you seek to love others like Jesus today.

Linda

Reject your heart of stone, Get a new living model!

heartToday I am beginning a new series on the heart.  There are at least 100 scriptures that focus on the heart, so it must be of great importance to God.   I found there are scriptures that talk about God’s Work in our hearts, the true nature of our hearts and what a transformed heart looks like.   The materials I have show the most ‘popular’ verses- people actually voted, so perhaps they were either most helpful, most revealing or most convicting.  I love it that the most loved verses deal with God’s Work in our hearts.  It gives us a good place to begin.

Ezekiel 36:26 is one of the key verses in this summary of prophesies God gave to the children of Israel in Ezekiel 36Look at what God said He would do:  22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name…  23 I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations… 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.  25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I heart of stone heart of fleshwill cleanse you.  26 And I will give you a new heart, and 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. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.  29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.”

God said He would do all these things to and for His believing children.  He would vindicate or show the holiness of  His name to them and the world,  He would bring them back to the land (they were in Babylon in exile at the time), He would cleanse them, He would give them a new heart, He would put His spirit within them, He promised them long life in the land and great fruitfulness.  As I read this list of promises God gave them, I realized that some were fulfilled then with their return to the Promised Land but many were fulfilled much later.  Jesus came and brought cleansing and healing through His death and resurrection.   At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell the believers through faith because of Jesus’ work on the cross.  Israel is again a nation and is amazingly fruitful.  It is a wonder in the desert and blooms as God intended under their care.

new heartThrough Jesus’ Work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we can live forgiven and be filled with His Holy Spirit.  We can have the new heart that God desires for us.  He says in verse 26, He will give us a new heart.  This heart will be soft, pliable and alive with faith and devotion to Him.  With this new heart, we can live for him.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”   We are new creatures with a new heart through Christ.  Do you feel like you have a heart of stone?  Are you hard-hearted towards others, unfeeling about the difficulties in your life and their lives, do you shut out God?  Or do you claim a new heart through Jesus that is open, willing, compassionate and loving towards those in your life?

Claim your new heart in Jesus today and watch God transform you and give you a heart of flesh and feeling and take away your heart of stone that was filled with sinful self-desires.  Turn to Jesus and He will transform your heart.

Seeking transformation of heart,

Linda