Suffering and Patience, why me?

As I have been meditating and studying patience, I have seen that it is a godly trait God desires in my new created character in Him. He will develop it through the power of the Holy Spirit within me as I walk with Him daily. I have also seen the need for more patience in my life and realized that it is tied to trust and time. It does not appear in my character over night, indeed it is a growing process as I learn to trust God more and more with each aspect of my life. The last area of patience we’ve only skirted upon is patience in suffering. Scripture is filled with examples of godly men and women who suffered patiently as they waited for God’s perfect timing and resolution of their situations. As they walked with faith and trust, God was manifested in their lives and they brought glory to God. Isn’t that what each of us desires? We want to be found faithful in our walk with Jesus bringing us good and Him glory.

Think for a minute about these Biblical characters and the faith they showed during great times of persecution or suffering. Noah suffered ridicule from the world around him as he worked 120 years to build the ark. Remember it had not rained before the flood and the concept of flood was unknown. Abraham and Sarah waited for their son of promise, Isaac, for years until they were too old to have a child. Miraculously God renewed their bodies and gave them a child. David, the anointed king of Israel, was pursued by Saul for 14 years as he sought to kill him. It was 14 years before Saul was killed and David was crowned king. Daniel and his friends lived in a pagan culture clinging to their faith as the world around them tried to burn or have them eaten by lions. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, etc. for the sake of the gospel. Peter was imprisoned and God sent an angel to lead him out. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos because of his faith. This is just a short list but the Bible gives us many more examples of faith under fire. Even our Lord Jesus was unjustly beaten and crucified, patiently suffering for our sake.

So how do we deal with times of trial and suffering that require us to endure with patience?

James 2:2-4 tells us it is about attitude and will build our character. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” We should think about suffering as an opportunity to experience joy as it will reap great rewards.

Romans 12:12 tells us suffering must be bathed in prayer resulting in hope and extended patience in our lives. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us that hard times of suffering call us to encourage one another, build each other up and extend patience to all. “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

Hebrews 6:15 gives us hope as we see Abraham as an example of patient faith. “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”

James 5:7-8 gives us an example of a farmer who is waiting for his crops to grow and mature. We need to be like that – waiting and growing until the Lord returns. “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

Considering these scriptures, how do you see or feel God growing your patience? Are you drawn to pray more? Are you patiently looking into His Word to discover the promises God has for you? Are you reacting with anger and are realizing your attitude needs adjustment so that you can be an encouragement to others as you wait? Patience is a virtue to be cultivated with prayer and looked upon as an opportunity for growth in Christ. I’m still working on this as I seek to grow into a more patient, prayer filled person looking to God and His promises with Hope!

Linda

How do you do it? Live for Jesus

And the journey continues… James. This New Testament book is Oh so practical in nature. It was written by James, the oldest brother of Jesus. After his conversion, he became a pillar of the Christian church in Jerusalem and was widely known. His opening lines direct this letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians who had been scattered abroad after the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). James is referred to many times in the New Testament as Jesus appeared to him personally after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), was known as a pillar in the church (Galatians 2:9), was visited by Paul on various occasions, was Paul’s first choice of whom to tell upon being released from prison, (Acts 12:17), was important in the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15:13, was the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1) and history records that he was martyred in A.D. 62.

His short letter of 5 Chapters is packed with practical knowledge and instruction on how to live out a life committed to Christ that is filled with faith and good works. James was a servant of Christ and desired that those following Jesus serve Him wholeheartedly. It is filled with wisdom on how to treat others, tame the tongue and submit to God. If you desire to learn to think biblically it is a great book to memorize. The truths will permeate your being and infuse godly thinking into your mind. As James would say, it leads to solid faith and good works that show our love for God as we serve Him. Here are a few of my most favorite verses that have transformed my thinking.

James 1:2-4 talks about attitude and the results of trusting all of life’s events to God.  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1: 5-6 instructs us to go to the source of all wisdom when we need answers but to do it with faith!  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:17 confirms the immutability of God. He also assures us that God is good in all He gives. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

James 1:19-20 instructs us to control our anger.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 2:1 begins his teaching on treating others with impartiality. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” He concludes this chapter with words about faith and good works. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (2:14)

James 3 delves into the harm and good that we can do with our tongues!  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (3:6)

James 4:7-8 is one of my favorite promises as it shows us clearly the way to draw near to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

In his last chapter James talks about the whining rich, the need for patience and the importance of prayer. James 5:15-16 encourages us in our prayer life! “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Which of these nuggets of wisdom do you need today? Are you struggling with trials in your life and need the perspective of joy? Are you concerned that God is perhaps whimsical and will change His mind about your salvation? Are you being confronted with favoritism, gossip or want to know how to get closer to God? Are you struggling with prayer and asking yourself why pray? James is a book that can be read, meditated upon and digested slowly so that the truths contained therein will permeate your life and allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out.

Be encouraged today by the practicality of James and how he makes faith in Christ applicable to our daily walk with Jesus.

Linda

A Walk of Faith

And the journey continues….Hebrews. The book of Hebrews was a letter intended for Jewish Christians who were very familiar with the Old Testament. The first century Jewish converts faced many challenges as they sought to establish themselves apart from Judaism and stand firmly with Christ as Messiah. The letter presents Christ as supreme and sufficient in all, and the revealer of God’s grace. It can be a difficult book to understand, and yet holds such beautiful promises that are clear and strengthening. It was at first thought this letter was written by Paul but the authorship is unknown. My favorite chapter is Chapter 11 which focuses on faith in Christ and its benefits.

Hebrews 11:1,6 focuses on faith. ” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I love the simplicity of these verses as they truly ‘hit the nail on the head’ in regard to what faith is and why it is totally necessary. The author’s first example of faith is Enoch. Here was a man of faith that pleased God so much that he was taken directly to heaven! The author then goes into more examples of faith for us to follow and tells us of Noah who built an ark to save his family when he was warned about things he had never seen. In the time of Noah it had never rained, as scripture tells us the mist came up from the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6) He had no concept of rain and floods, yet he built the ark as God commanded by faith thereby saving himself and all his family. Abraham was called to leave his home and go to a place he had never seen. He did and was greatly blessed with descendants and land beyond measure. Sarah who was Abraham’s childless wife conceived a child in her old age and believed God that it would come to pass. The author continues with examples from Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Moses was born Jewish, saved from death by God’s hand through Pharaoh’s daughter from the Nile. He was raised to privilege then called reluctantly after running from events in Egypt. He was in the desert for 40 years before being called to lead the people out of Egypt by God’s command at the age of 80! He trusted God to provide and experienced the plagues and hurried escape after the Passover of the angel of death. God then led them through the Red Sea in victory. The author then points to the walls of Jericho falling when they faithfully followed God’s leading. Rahab’s rescue of the spies and others like Gideon, David and countless events that showed the faithfulness of God to His people. God commended the people for their faith just as He loves and desires our faithfulness. I find great strength and encouragement from reading about the faith of these ‘heroes’. I know they were mortal and weak individuals just like me who overcame, persevered and were victorious through God’s hand in their lives because of their faith. It encourages me to be faithful knowing He will always be faithful to me and rewards those who seek Him.

There are a couple of other portions in Hebrews that I want to mention. Hebrews 4:12-13 speaks of the power of God’s Word and extols the omniscience of our God. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:14-16 speaks of Christ as our high priest and gives such hope to every believer that God will be gracious towards us. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 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.”

Hebrews 7:25 points to the sufficiency of Christ to save completely and how He continues to intercede for us even now in heaven. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” That is encouraging and so reassuring!!

Hebrews 10:10 speaks of the total sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross. “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Praise God!

Hebrews 10:22-23 are some of my favorite verses as they encourage us to draw near to God and hold onto our faith in Him.  Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Lastly, Hebrews 13:8 reminds me that Christ is immutable and a reliable foundation for my faith.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

May the truths of faith penetrate into your heart and soul today and may you know of His rewards of faith personally as you walk trusting Him.

Linda

Showing, Loving and Living Redeemed

And the journey continues… Colossians. This letter was written by Paul to the Colossian Christians whom he had never met. His convert, Epaphras, had traveled to Colossae and started a new church there. When he encountered difficulties in theology, he traveled to Rome to visit Paul in prison. Paul wrote to help ‘set their thinking straight’ so that they would know that Jesus is Lord and there is no other. He praises their faith and growth but instructs them on the supremacy of Christ our Lord who came, died and rose again to provide a way of salvation for all who believe.

I love Paul’s prayer that opens the letter. Colossians 1:3-14 We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

A couple of questions come to mind as I study this passage that I need to remember as I walk with Jesus daily. Is anyone hearing of my love for Jesus? The Colossian Christians were known for their faith and love. This is what Jesus wants for each of us. In John 13:33-34 Jesus says, “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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Another question- Do you believe in the transforming power of the Good News? The Good News that Jesus died for our sins on the cross and rose from the dead. Life in Him is abundant and filled with grace, love, mercy… and the fruits of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Galatian 5:22-23 “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The Holy Spirit transforms our lives as we follow Jesus each day in faith.

Lastly, How do you pray for others? Do you pray for their growth in faith that they will know and love God more and serve Him with eagerness? Do you pray for their patience, endurance and joy? Paul prayed for these things as he wanted the Colossian Christians to thrive and grow in the Lord. He wanted them to live with a spirit of thanksgiving and joy in their lives. James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I pray that you will show your genuine Christian love for others, pray for your fellow believers, unsaved friends and relatives and live like you believe you are truly rescued from darkness and brought into the light of God’s love. You are redeemed and forgiven dear brother and sister!

Linda

Christ desires maturity. Are you growing?

Colossians 1:28-29 finishes this first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossian Christians. He is seeking to explain his earnest motivation for calling them to be the most that they can be in Christ. He wants for them to honor Christ in their lives and seek to grow in faith. “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

How concerned are your church leaders about growth in your church body? How concerned are you about growing your faith? I’m not talking about numbers in your church congregation or hours spent serving but growing in faith. This is a growth that stretches and moves you to be more like Jesus. Are they teaching from the Word and encouraging you to spend time in God’s Word and prayer? Do you hunger after God’s Word and crave to spend time with God in prayer? This was Paul’s passion. He wanted those who came to know Jesus as savior to be mature Christians who would be able to stand steadfast in troubled times, lean on and serve each other in love and be mission minded desiring to bring others to faith. Ephesians 4:13 “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ”. Christ’s standard is high and calls for us to be mature and wise in our daily walk with Him so as to not to be tempted and fall away. Hebrews 5:14 “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong”. Being mature aids in one’s perception of the world and enables one to view things from a godly perspective. This allows one to make godly choices and not fall into sin.

Today as you mediate on these verses, test yourself? How much do you see yourself growing? Are you more like Jesus now than you were 1,2,5 years ago? I don’t mean more religious or more involved. I mean more like Jesus in character. James puts it this way in James 1:2-4 our experiences in life should be growing and producing more godly character in us. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” In Romans 5:3-6 Paul says this about character development. “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.” None of us likes to suffer but in the trials of life we grow and move either closer to Jesus or away. Which is it for you?

My latest book, Strategic Living, is about growing more and more like Jesus, I chose 1 John 2:15-17 from the Message translation as my motivating verses. Let the words speak to your heart today. “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can grow to be more and more like Jesus in character through the power of His Holy Spirit within me. Praise God! He is changing me to be more like Him. See Galatians 5:22-23 for specific examples of ways God the Holy Spirit changes us. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” In Him, He has promised we are new creations! 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Linda

3rd Sunday of Lent, Jesus did it All!

This week again we have an amazing list of benefits for believers through faith in our risen Lord Jesus. As you mediate on these truths from God’s Word in His letter to the Colossians, let the revelation of who Christ is and what He accomplished on the cross sink into your mind. Let it produce in you a greater sense of gratitude and hope.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can know God the Father who is exactly represented by Jesus the Son and who is fully God, Creator and totally Sovereign over all creation. Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

I can rely on Sovereign Jesus to hold all things together for me in my life. Colossians 1:16b-17 “all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life. Colossians 1:18-20 “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled  everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

I am redeemed and reconciled to Almighty God so I have His hope-filled love for eternity. Colossians 1:21-22 “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

I can proclaim the Good News of love and redemption and hold onto a faith that is strong and unwavering through the power of Christ in me. Colossians 1:23 “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by His blood and a citizen of His heavenly kingdom through faith in Jesus . Colossians 1:24-27 “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory”.

I pray these truths will lead you to fall deeper in love with God and lead you to praise! Here is our praise Psalm for this week:

Psalm 105:1-5 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,

Have a blessed day and week to come,

Linda

Second Sunday of Lent 2021=Assurances, Hope and Grace Revealed!

What a powerful week we’ve had this first full week of Lent. Here are the truths uncovered in the first Chapter 1 of Colossians in verses 5-14. What an abundance of assurances in hope, love, joy, grace, wisdom and care from our loving heavenly Father through the work of the Son. Meditate again on these nuggets of truth from God’s Word and treat them as true treasures that will embolden and strengthen you in Christ so you can walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I have faith and love that gives me hope that is stored up in heaven for eternity. Colossians 1:5-6a “the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.”

I have a living and vibrant grace-filled faith to share with the world. Colossians 1:6b “Indeed, just as in the whole world the gospel is constantly bearing fruit and spreading [by God’s power], just as it has been doing among you ever since the day you first heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth [becoming thoroughly and deeply acquainted with it].”

I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others. Colossians 1:7-8 “just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

I can know and understand the things of God with spiritual wisdom which helps me to walk daily in a way that pleases Him. Colossians 1:9-10 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

I can receive benefits of faith that lead to greater knowledge of Him, strength, endurance, patience and joy! Colossians 1:11-12 “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you  to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” 

I am saved out of darkness and brought into the light of Christ fully redeemed and forgiven! Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

This Second Sunday of Lent, Let us Praise Him with Psalm 150.

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Linda

Hope-safe and secure, Share it now!

Today’s verse from Colossians is very empowering and brings great assurances for our faith. Colossians 1:5-6a “the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.” Paul was praying and praising God for the Colossian believers and said that their hope, that they so readily shared with everyone around them, is rooted in Christ. Their hope is stored up, saved for eternity, preserved, untouchable by sin and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.

This is a truth that we can claim in our lives too. The faith we have in Christ and the love He has for us and us for Him gives us eternal hope! It is a hope that can never be taken away! What a wonderful blessing we have from Him! Thank you Jesus. This truth is also found in Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began“. This hope of faith is eternal in nature and comes from a God who does not change or lie. Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 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. This hope is eternal and God uses it to bring about change in our character for our good and His glory!

As you ponder your faith in Christ and God’s immense love for you, think about 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” You have the hope within you—- be prepared to share it with gentleness to a hurting world.

Linda

Advent Reveals How Persistent Faith Brings Results

Another confirmation from God came from elderly Anna. She was a widow of many years and was undoubtedly allowed to live in one of the rooms at the temple used for various things. She spent her days worshiping, fasting and praying. Anna was called a prophetess which was not as common as her male counterpart, prophet, of which there were many in the Old Testament, like Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah…. However, she was not alone as Miriam, Moses’ sister was called a prophetess in Exodus 15:20, Deborah the mighty leader in Judges 4:4, Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14 and Philip’s daughters in Acts 21:9.

Here is her encounter with the baby Jesus from Luke 2:36-38. “Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.”

What does this encounter with baby Jesus show us? God requires us to be diligent and patient, persisting in our faith. Anna took every opportunity to worship and pray. She was open to hear from God about the future. Her message to Mary, Joseph and all of us about this child is one of Hope. She saw in Him one who would rescue her people. We may not be prophets or eloquent preachers but we too have a message of Hope from Jesus to tell others. God’s indwelling Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we belong to Him and have the Words of light, hope and salvation to give in Jesus’ name. Light John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Hope1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you Salvation- 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Will you persist in faith even when things get hard? Will you lean upon Jesus as your source of eternal light, hope and salvation just as He would want? Patient Anna was rewarded with seeing Jesus and knowing the truth of God revealed to the world. Take encouragement from her today and persist in your faith with diligent prayer and worship. You too will be rewarded by God just as He promises in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Linda

Advent Teaches about Attitude

Mary’s story has so much to teach us I wanted to spend another day looking at the scripture of the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary and her response. Here is our scripture passage, Luke 1: 26-38 , in the Amplified translation. 26 Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?” 35 Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy (pure, sinless) Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.

Mary was perplexed at the greeting from Gabriel and wondered what God could possibly mean. Isn’t that just like you and me? We are led by God to do something and constantly ask why or why me? What did I do to deserve this? Did I make a mistake or maybe God did by choosing me? All Mary’s questions were answered as the angel explained fully about this child. Gabriel said her conception would be supernatural and that the child would be called the Son of God. Now that is an answer that requires faith to even at attempt to understand it. How much like our own lives and God’s answers to our prayers. We cannot see the forest for the trees, so to speak, when God shows us an answer that seems impossible. I love Mary’s response as God knew that she was a servant at heart. Do you see yourself as a servant of God? Are you willing to do whatever He asks of you? At my age, even knowing the Lord for a long time, I often hesitate. Mary at probably 15, had tremendous faith in God and was willing to serve the Lord without question. What a wonderful heart and attitude she had.

May we not lose the wonder at what God can do in us and through us, and May our hearts be as open and willing as hers.
Linda