Peace, Gratitude, Forgiveness- May they be seated at your Table this Thanksgiving

November 21,2022

Colossians 3:15-16 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Paul was writing to Colossians about their attitudes towards one another. In verses 12-15 he describes what their behavior should look like towards one another that would be pleasing to God. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” If we are behaving as Paul describes, then we just need to relax and let Christ rule in our hearts bringing peace and unity to our gatherings. Because of the message of Christ, we can worship together and praise God in one accord with extreme gratitude in our hearts.

What if this is not what our homes, families, and churches look like? Then we need to seek God’s help. 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.”
God will seek to use us to bring harmony and peace to where we are. He promises His peace to indwell us and knowing that promise we can indeed be thankful. At this opportune time of the year, let us express our thanks to God and to let others know that our THANKFULNESS comes from GOD! Remember, Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.”

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am forgiven. You might wonder why I chose this truth for today’s scripture. As my remember my own sin, it brings great thankfulness for God’s forgiveness. I can look at others as ones loved by God who also stand in need of forgiveness. I am reminded of Romans 5:8“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God loved me and sent Christ to die for me. That is the center of my thankfulness and heart of gratitude towards God and others. Here are a few other verses about forgiveness: Colossians 1:12-14  and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Micah 7:18-19 is one of my favorites to claim with hope and thanks, “Who is a God like you,
    who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Thank you Jesus, my sins are gone!

I also love the image given to us in Isaiah 38:17 “Surely it was for my benefit
    that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
    from the pit of destruction;

you have put all my sins
    behind your back.”

Let your forgiven heart be open to the needs of others and seek to make peace at your Thanksgiving table. Remember you have His peace within you and can testify to the wonders of His Name.

Linda

Let’s Not… and Choose to Live Redeemed, Thriving in Christ

Yesterday in Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul exhorted us to ‘put on’ a new self in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit living within each believer. The next verses continue and remind us of what we need to ‘put off’ as well. In Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul gets really specific about what actions we need to put away or put off so that the new self in Christ can thrive.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  We are to not lie to each other. Stop the little falsehoods that make us look better and the other person less. We are to remember we are all here as believers joined together in His body to glorify Him.

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.  Unrighteous anger, and holding grudges allows Satan to infiltrate your mind and actions, and let’s him have an in with you. Don’t let this happen!

28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Check your motives and work for the common good-sharing and loving one another in Christ. Selfish gains have no place in the body of Christ.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Watch what you say- it is important to build each other up not tear one another down.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Those things that are sinful grieve God when we do them. We don’t’ think we are hurting others but we are making God sad by our sinful words, deeds, thoughts and actions. Our desire should be to please God not grieve Him.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Paul is very specific- get rid of the bad attitudes and actions, evil and hurt. They are not to be part of our new character in Christ!

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Paul’s final reminder of what God desires of us in Christ.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can choose to be kind, compassionate and forgiving towards others; I can put off those non God honoring behaviors that are destructive to myself and those around me. Praise God! Through Christ Alone is this possible.

Linda

What Christ endured for me, I’m Humbled by His Love

Today’s ‘put on verse’ will cause you to consider the cost of our sins to our Savior Jesus.

John 19:2 says “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe.” and 1 Peter 2:24 ““He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Lent is a time of reflection about our sinfulness and how we can best emulate His character thought the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider what Jesus suffered: the beatings, the trials, the ridicule, the unbelief that what he said was true, the placement with thieves and robbers, and the hanging on the cross with its torture, pain and humiliation. He suffered all of that and in so doing took on the sins of the world- past, present and future. He suffered so we can know Him, be in a relationship with Him, live with Him eternally and have His Holy Spirit living within us. There is nothing we can ever do to earn or deserve that kind of love, devotion and sacrifice. John 3:16 reminds us of Jesus’ motive for going to the cross, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God loved us so much; He sent Jesus to bring us into a right relationship with Him and experience eternal life. Through Christ we can be righteous, holy and pure in God’s eyes because when God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ blood covering our sins. I am amazed and humbled by God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. He put on the crown of thorns for me and went to the cross. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live forgiven and restored to a right relationship with Him.

What can I ever do for Him? Remember Jesus saying the greatest commandment and then #2. Matthew 22:34-39 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ When we love God and love others with His love, we honor Him=He is glorified.

Also consider Micah 6:8 “And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.”
We cannot act with justice, love, mercy and humility without the power of the Holy Spirit within us. So lean into Him, ask His help through prayer, learn about Him from His Word, join other believers in worship and fellowship and seek to show others your love for Jesus.

Linda

Words from Paul on How To- Put on the Good Stuff!

In yesterday’s blog from Colossians 3:1-10, Paul began with the reason we have a new life to put on. Christ is the reason for our new life and with that new life we are to put off, put away, stop doing things that are not godly. Paul had quite a list for us to consider: 3:5, 8-9 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.

In today’s scripture from Colossians 3:12-14, Paul tells us what we are to put on, as we seek to live for Jesus. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Because we now belong to Christ, Jesus wants us dressed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 22:37-40, when asked what is the greatest commandment,  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Putting on godly behavior means seeking to love the Lord and all those around us. Jesus put it this way in John 13: 34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Becoming a Christian is more that acknowledging Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is about growing in His character through the power of the Holy Spirt, so that others will see Him and His love through you. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can love God and show His love to those around me in the things I say and do. Have a little ‘put on’ check today. Ask yourself, am I acting in a way that others can see Jesus in my actions? Am ready to forgive when wronged? Am I being loving to those I know and those I don’t? Meditate on Colossians 3:12-14 as you ponder these questions. Also consider your own growth as a Christian and whether or not you are open to God creating His character within you through the power of His Holy Spirit. If you are willing, He is ABLE!

Linda

Amazing Reasons for Thanking God

As we continue in this Thanksgiving week, let us turn our thanks completely to God. He is the source of all good things as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 103: 8 10-13.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

The reasons for thanking God listed here by the psalmist are amazing:

**God is merciful, gracious, abounding in love that never changes. (8)

**God will not deal with us according to what our sinfulness deserves but will treat us with grace and mercy! Thank you Jesus. (10)

**God loves me as a believer in Him with an amazing love. (11)

**God removes my sin out of sight where it cannot be found. (12)

**As a believer in Him, He treats me with compassion as a child of His, as my Father. (13)

Which of these reasons resonate with you today? Are you grateful for your sins being forgiven and totally removed, for His grace and mercy that you do not deserve, for His amazing and boundless love, or that you are a child of your heavenly Father? All of these are amazing and given freely through faith in Jesus the Son. Claim them today and let your praises raise up to Him as a sweet aroma of love and thankfulness.

Linda

Thanks to Be Given that our Debt is Paid

Our precious verses of thanks for today come from 1 Corinthians 15:56-58. The words of thanks come in verse 57, but the reason Paul gives for the thanks is our victory over death through the work of Christ on the cross. His death communed our sentence from death for sin (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.), to a life of forgiveness and eternal life. That is a huge reason to give THANKS to God! Here are Paul’s words to us: 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Do you thank God for sending Jesus to die for your sins? Do you thank Jesus for going to the cross in your place? Only God could die for all our sins as He was the perfect sacrifice wholly acceptable to God as payment in full for our sins. Romans 6:9-11 puts this truth together for us:  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. ” Christ suffered and died so that I may live restored and in fellowship with God for eternity. This new life is to be abundant, full and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Our lives are to have purpose as seek to bring glory to Him. What a wonderful gift from Jesus through faith.

This Thanksgiving spend some time thanking God for His grace, mercy and love towards you in sending Jesus. Thank God for calling you to live and work for Him and your gift of faith to believe in Him. Thank you Jesus!

Linda

Paul’s Persuasion Points to Christ

And the journey continues…Philemon. This short letter from Paul to the slave owning believer Philemon in Colossae is an example of Christian persuasion at its best. Paul’s words seek to remind the believing slave owner, who has been wronged, of how his faith in Christ can and will transform his attitudes and opinions for the common good. It seems Onesimus, the slave, ran away from his master Philemon’s home in Colossae stealing from him in the process. His journey away from Colossae took him to Rome where he encountered Paul. Paul lead him to faith in Jesus and was witness to his transformed character. Onesimus decided that the right thing to do was to return to his master. Under Roman law, this was a crime punishable by death. Seeing the changed heart and his desire to return to ‘fix’ the situation, Paul writes this letter to persuade Philemon to welcome Onesimus back into this home and his service.

Paul’s steps to persuade Philemon start with their common ground. They are both believers and Paul thanks God for Philemon’s faith in Jesus and his willingness to share his faith with others. Paul tells him how he has been blessed and encouraged by the faith of the believers in Colossae. As we learned in Colossians, Paul had never been to Colossae but Epaphras whom he had led to Christ had started a church there. Paul had heard of their growing and vibrant faith. Philemon 1:7 “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. What Christian brother or sister are you grateful for? How has their love for Jesus impacted you? Does their witness and faith encourage you and build up your own faith? If so, make a point of telling them. It will be an encouragement to them and help them see how they are having an impact for Christ in the world.

Next Paul sets before Philemon a challenge of faith. He asks him, because of Jesus’ loves for him, to accept and forgive Onesimus back for several reasons. Paul tells him of his love for Onesimus and how much he has grown to love this young man since leading him to Christ. He tells him how helpful he has been, during his time in prison, and that it is as if Philemon is there helping him through Onesimus. As to the matter of what he stole from Philemon, Paul goes so far as to ask Philemon to charge the debt to him. He says he will pay whatever is owed when he sees Philemon. Lastly, he argues the point that if he should welcome Onesimus back he will get not only his slave returned to his service but a brother in Christ who will be serving him and the savior they share in faith.

As I pondered Paul’s pleas for the life of Onesimus, I was struck by the power of the gospel in our lives. Paul contributes Onesimus’ new attitudes and faith in Christ with his total change of heart and character. The power of Christ in our lives makes us do and say things that are contrary to our old nature. The truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is evident in Onesimus’ life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” He was also reminding Philemon that he too has a new nature that should not be motivated by worldly values. Is there someone or something you need to reevaluate in light of the cross of Christ?

Paul closes this letter with greetings to their common friends and asks Philemon to have a room ready for him when he visits. This is very personal and shows Paul’s willingness to come to him regardless of his decision concerning Onesimus. He is praying that Philemon will be lead by Christ to have compassion, mercy and love towards his slave. PauI’s pleas remind me God’s desire for each of us.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

May we seek to please God and walk humbly with Christ looking to serve him with justice and love towards others.

Linda

A Small Book Bringing Mighty Words for Living Forgiven

And the journey continues….to Micah. The book of Micah was written by the prophet Micah, who lived during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah. He was a contemporary with the prophets Isaiah and Hosea. This was a time of great idolatry in Israel and Judah. The Lord God was not pleased with their idol worship and Micah’s messages told of the destruction and fall of Samaria and Jerusalem as punishment for their forsaking the worship of God and worshipping other gods. Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and the Judeans managed to hold off Sennacherib’s attacks with the help of the Lord. Their return to worship of God Almighty under Hezekiah was short lived and Jerusalem fell with the Jews deported to Babylon in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar. In the midst of all the prophesies against Judah and Israel, God gave messages through Micah of hope, restoration and future glory to come through the Messiah.

To begin, I love the beautiful verse in 5:2 where the birth place of the coming Messiah is foretold. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,  who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” What hope this pinpointing of the birthplace of their Messiah must have given them. God always promised there would be a remnant, a group of believers who would remain true to their faith in Him, and a Savior to come. They did not know when their redeemer would come but now they knew where he would arrive, in Bethlehem. From the Christmas story, we know this to be true as related in Chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew and Luke.

Micah also makes a case for obedience in faith and action in Chapter 6. He states wholeheartedly what the Lord desires of us. I have always found these verse in 6:6-8 very encouraging and straight to the point of what God wants. “With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God
?”
Micah knew that God looks at the heart and knows if our offerings are sincere, or just attempts to appease Him. Micah speaks plainly about what Almighty God desires of us. We can take his words to heart and examine ourselves looking intently at our motives and actions. This requires me to daily focus on seeking the Lord with an open and sincere heart so I can act justly, walk humbly and show God’s love and kindness to others.

My favorite verses of this little book are found in 7:18-20. They remind me of who God is, His amazing character which is filled with compassion and forgiveness. Micah also highlights a great gift God made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus which was freeing us from the bondage of sin. We are forgiven through Christ. I am assured that those sins are gone, forgotten and will be remembered no more! Praise God! “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over transgression
    for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
    into the depths of the sea.

20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob

    and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
    from the days of old.”
God in His faithfulness loves and forgives me completely. As Micah said, Who is a God like you? Jesus. There is no other. Paul described Jesus in Philippians 2:9-11 ” Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am forgiven. Thank you Jesus!

May you soak in the truth and depth of God’s forgiveness and love. May you seek to do those things that please Him because of the depth of your love for Jesus and gratitude for what He has done for you.

Linda

A Hole in the Roof leads to Blessings

And the journey continues…. into the gospel of Mark. One of the stories I love from the book of Mark is also found in Matthew 9 and Luke 5. Mark 2:1-12 shows a scene where Jesus is preaching to a packed house and some friends bring their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. “When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

There are several things I love about this story. First, the friends moved heaven and earth, so to speak, to get their friend to Jesus. They knew that Jesus had the power to heal him. They went above and beyond to get their friend into the meeting place. They were creative and resourceful by digging through the roof and lowering the man through the hole they had created. It was not an easy task I’m sure. Who do you know that needs Jesus’ healing power? Are you persistent in trying to ‘get’ them somewhere to hear the gospel message? I am reminded of Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Are you like the friends in this story? You know Jesus and what He has to offer. Are you desperately trying to share it with your unsaved friends? God desires that we share the wonderful benefits provided by Jesus, as everyone needs Jesus!

Secondly, the group of religious naysayers took objection at Jesus telling the man ‘his sins are forgiven’. Jesus countered with the words he could just as easily have said ‘take up your mat and walk’. When you think about it, both are things only God can do! Only God can forgive sins and only God can heal a paralyzed man so that he can immediately jump up and walk out carrying his mat! It seems they were offended by Jesus’ words declaring them to be blasphemous. They were upset as forgiveness was God’s to grant, not his. However, they failed to see that He was God and was doing things that only God could do!

Lastly, Mark observed that all were stunned as they watched the events unfold and were amazed. Their amazement led to worship and praise of God. What has been your reaction to God’s hand in your life? Is your response one of praise and thanksgiving?

May you see with fresh eyes today the amazing riches you have in Christ. May you seek with persistence to bring others to Jesus. May you marvel anew at the power of Christ to heal and forgive.

Linda

Walking in the Light

And the journey continues… into 1 John Chapter 1. This letter was written by the Apostle John and shares the same style as the gospel of John. He wants to assure the readers that he has seen Jesus, experienced his life and death, and wants to share Christ with us. Sharing Christ with us will make his joy complete.

The reason I love this chapter is the words of truth John gives us about the light we have in Christ, the contrast of life without Christ which in one in darkness and how to know for certain one has the light of Christ in their life! 1 John 1:5-10 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

This passage teaches us these truths:

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Believing in Jesus brings us into the light and allows us to have fellowship with God and be cleansed from our sins.

If we think we are sinless, we are not being truthful.

Getting right with God, being in His light, requires we confess our sins, accept His forgiveness in our lives.

God is always faithful.

If we claim we are without sin, we are calling God a liar and Jesus does not live within us.

I love this passage for it’s straight forwardness about who God is and what He does for me. 1 John 1:9 was one of the first verses I memorized long ago, and God brings it to my mind often as I need to continually repent and depend upon His faithfulness to forgive and cleanse me. May the truths of this passage sink in and cause you to see God through His light, Jesus, and may you know His love and forgiveness in your life anew today. May you also have joy in sharing the good news of Jesus with someone.

Linda