Thankfulness Day 28: Prayerfully walking in Faith Produces RESULTS!

Matthew 21: 20-22 is the setting for today’s promise that will lead us to greater thanks. Jesus was hungry and on the road with his disciples. He went up to a fig tree and it had no figs. Jesus cursed the tree and it immediately withered. This provided a teachable moment for Jesus. When the disciples questioned him, he was able to explain to them the power of faith and answered prayer.

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

So is Jesus saying, I can pray for anything in faith and it will be given to me? Not at all! Jesus wants us to know the power of prayer and faith together can, through Him, can accomplish anything. If that is true, why don’t I have all the things I want or desire? I can just pray for them. James gives us the reason this is not possible. “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ” James 4:2-3 God knows our hearts and sees what our real motives are for asking. Yes, faith and prayer can overcome but our heart attitude needs to be right with God and aligned to His purposes. Perhaps, you feel that you asked with the right heart attitude and were praying for God’s will to be done. Don’t lose heart. Remember our timing is not God’s timing and you may still have to wait longer for your prayers to be answered.

I find this encouraging. God knows the desires of my heart and I need only tell Him. I need to trust Him to bring it about if it is in His will, in His time and in His way so that He is glorified and I am uplifted in faith. Faith and prayer can accomplish great things in and through Christ. Pray fervently and have faith trusting God for the answer whether it is yes, no or wait. Walking in faith is difficult but always produces godly results and brings thankfulness.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 21: Faith A Gift for you

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? Faith Hebrews 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.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 7: God’s grace and mercy

It could be said that attitude and actions are an essential part of our walk of faith. Our attitude and actions towards God and our fellow man show the true nature of our faith. In today’s verses, Jonah has had a readjustment of his attitude towards God and it has changed his future course in life.

Jonah realized placing his faith in worthless things, including his own pursuits and desires, was futile. The only hope he had was in the Lord who always brings salvation. He was now willing to shout and proclaim with a thankful voice that God is the Lord. What about you? Are you like Jonah experiencing an attitude adjustment caused by circumstances of your own making? Are you running from God or trying to put up barriers to protect yourself? Jonah turned back to God with thankful heart.

God told Jonah to go to pagan Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. Jonah did not want to go so he decided to run. He caught a ship leaving port and got onboard. They were stuck by a terrible storm and Jonah revealed to the crew he was running away from God and told them to toss him overboard. In the depths to the sea, he was swallowed by a big fish. After 3 days in the belly of the big fish, he prayed to God with a repentant heart. The circumstances reshaped his thinking and attitudes and lead him to pray as he realized it was wrong to run and to not do what the God he believed in asked him to do. His willful attitude was changed. Jonah 2:8-9 “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

God showed his grace and mercy to Jonah by saving him. He deserved to be lost at sea, BUT GOD saved him. Do you see God’s grace in your life today? Jonah responded with thanksgiving and praise. Will you praise Him with a thankful heart today for how God has rescued you? Take heart from Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” and 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,”

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Thank you Jesus for saving me and changing the course of my life. Will you join me in thanksgiving and praise for God changing the course of your life?

Linda

Are you a Doubter? Joint Thomas-seeing and believing anew!

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 the joy of Christ being alive.

A week passed and they were all gathered again in the upper room and Jesus appeared. ThomasJohn 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 john 20 29believing.  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 ephesians 1 13-141:13-14 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

Is your Shield of Faith flame proof?

epheisan 6 16 shieldEphesians 6:16  describes the Shield of Faith that we must possess as believers so that we may combat the enemy,  “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”    Paul in these passages is comparing our Christian walk and witness to going into or being in battle each day.  In verse 12 he had reminded us that the forces of evil in this world can be both physical and spiritual so we must always be ready.  Satan cannot take our salvation away but he can destroy our witness and effectiveness for God.   As Paul said here, we must be ready in all circumstances.

Active faith functions a shield because it shows you truly believe in God.  It is actively putting your trust in God’s truths and desiring to please Him with your actions. We won’t see our shield in action until we step out boldly using our faith.  A believer’s faith is less about the believer and more about God and what we believe and are absolutely convinced that He is capable of doing in our lives.  It involves trust and hope at the highest levels.  Jeremiah 29:11 has helped to activate my faith and move it from head knowledge to heart trust,  as I absorb the truth of God’s Words.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   God is good and intends good for me.  I can trust Him in all I do, wherever I go He is there with me.

Satan wants to lessen, destroy, or render ineffective any and all faith that we possess.  He cannot take our salvation away as it is sealed and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.  2 Corinthians 1:21-22 is a promiseNow it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  Using your faith in a way  that will thwart or repel Satan’s attacks, requires trust in God’s faithfulness and wisdom on our part so we are aware and ready.

Consider this todaysometimes you might not need more faith or a bigger shield,  but you just need a better understanding of the comprehensive nature of God’s faithfulness. Think about His faithfulness in these verses:

Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”     God is always faithful and does not change.

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.”  Our shield of faith is backed by His faithfulness to us.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”   God’s faithfulness gives us strength and protection.

Hebrews 10:23 “ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”   God’s faithfulness gives us hope as we actively use it- holding on tightly!

faith tells meBecause Christ died on the cross and rose for the dead, I have a faith that is supported and connected to the faithfulness of Almighty God.   His faithfulness is eternal, unending, complete and 100% sure!

Take up your shield today!  Step out with an active faith unafraid and backed by God’s faithfulness.

Linda

Holy Week- Tuesday.  Jesus’ authority was questioned at the temple by the Pharisees and He continued to teach with parables.  Later in the day, He was anointed with oil which, unknowingly to the disciples,  was in preparation for His burial.  See Matthew  21:23-27, 21:28-23:39 and Matthew 26:6-13.  These are also recorded in Mark and Luke and the anointing in John.

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