Today’s scriptures from Luke 12:22-25 are ones we are all familiar with but the previous verse in Luke 12:15 shows the cause for Christ’s concern. “Then he said to them,“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Christ was talking to the disciples about worrying about accumulating wealth and the tendency towards being consumed by greed and desire for worldly things over heavenly treasures. Luke 12: 22-25 is where Jesus tells us to not be overly concerned about what we ‘put on’ physically as that kind of worry is futile. “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
Jesus’ point is clear, worry about worldly things and needs will consume us if we let them. Will doing all that worry add any time to our lives? No, in fact the stress may make us literally sick with worry. Not that we are not to be mindful of our needs, but the worry of it should not consume us. Jesus’ reasoning is that God takes care of the birds of the air and sees to their needs and He loves us so much more. How do I know this? Because God sent His only Son to die for our sins to restore us into right relationship with Him. John 3:16 tells us how much He loves us, “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.” Jesus wants us to live a life of trust, walking with Him, not one that is consumed with worry or seeking material possessions needlessly. With our old nature, it is always tempting to let greed overtake reason. Jesus knows this so He points us to a walk of faith and trust in Him.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,I can live a life free from worry and grounded in His love and care. Time spent worrying is time spent not trusting God. May your day be worry free as you trust in His faithfulness and abundant provision.
And the journey continues….. Isaiah. Isaiah is considered a major prophet due to the fact that the book is lengthy with 66 chapters. The first 35 chapters are marked with prophesy after prophesy about the coming judgement due to the Israelites not staying faithful in worship of the one true God. Isaiah uniquely refers to God as the Holy One of Israel. The middle section of Isaiah, chapters 36-39 are an interlude with specifics about Judah’s present day problems with the Assyrians and the growing Babylonian Empire. King Hezekiah prays for guidance as he spread the letter from attacking Sennacherib before the Lord. God answered by saving Judah and later extended the life of Hezekiah by 15 years from an illness that had him at death’s door. The final chapters 40-66 are some of the most beautiful and comforting in the Bible. Isaiah prophesizes about God’s love, protection and restoration for the nation that He alone will provide during their coming exile in Babylon and promises they will return to the land He has given them. When they returned from 70 years of exile from their homeland, they did not stray to the worship of other gods and their man made idols. They worshiped the one true God, the Holy One of Israel.
My favorite verses are found in Chapter 49. Several of the verses in this chapter have given me great encouragement and strength. I want to share them with you. God promises restoration in verse 8-9a “This is what the Lord says:
“In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, 9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ Whenever God says, I will, He is making a promise to Israel and to you and me. God keeps His promises always. Here we see and feel God’s love and commitment to those who believe in Him. He will make things happen in His time and in His way. His ultimate way of freedom is in Christ as He freed us from the bondage of sin and restored our relationship with Him.
Isaiah 49:15-16 speaks of God never forgetting me and knowing who I am, and what I need is ever before Him. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. This is a precious image of the depth of God’s love towards me. I know He goes before me and is always with me. He knows exactly who I am and has me engraved in the palm of His hand.
Isaiah 49: 23 “Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” When I see things happening in my life that are beyond my control and frighten me, I can take comfort in knowing- God has this. He will be victorious and trusting in Him will never lead to disappointment.
Isaiah 49: 25 But this is what the Lord says:
“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save. God acknowledges that many times things will look overwhelming or bleak in my life, but I need to remember that He will fight for me and that He will save me and those that will come after me. God promises there will always be a remnant of those who believe in Him.
One last favorite from Isaiah 55:11. I claimed this verse when I wrote and published my first book. I cling to God’s promise each time I give out God’s Word whether it is in a book, blog or when speaking. “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. We can be assured that putting forth God’s Word will not return empty or void. His Word has meaning and eternal value and He guarantees it will not come back empty but will always accomplish that which He desires. I claim and stand on this promise because- God says it and His will cannot be thwarted! Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
I pray that these precious verses of promise speak to you today. May you believe that God loves you, that your faith in Him will not bring disappointment, that you will lean into Him trusting in His protection and supreme ability to fight your battles and that you will continue to speak out for Jesus knowing His words and truth will not return empty.
This week we have studied verses from Colossians 1:28-2:15. There have been some amazing truths revealed to us by Paul as he continues to make the case for Christ and His work on the cross. We can be empowered to live for Christ, filled by His Holy Spirt, and freed from the bondages of sin. I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love for us and Jesus’ willingness to suffer and die for me. I am truly blessed by His graciousness towards me. Here are the truth from this week to meditate upon and a Psalm of praise.
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. Colossians 1:28-29“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.
I can claim treasures in Christ that will fill me with His confidence, wisdom and knowledge so I can be united to other believers by His love.Colossians 2:1-3 “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.“
I can be rooted and grounded in Christ producing a life that is abundant and filled to overflowing with thanksgiving, hope and love.Colossians 2:4-8 “I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. 6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”
I am one with Him, totally forgiven and have His Holy Spirit dwelling with me. Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. 10 And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].”
I am spared God’s wrath as my sins are forgiven and I am freed from sin’s power in my life. Colossians 2:13-15 “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”
Psalm 36:5-9Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. 7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Colossians 2:13-15 are powerful verses that describe what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”
Paul first describes our state of being before faith- we were dead in our sins. Through faith in Christ we were made clean, alive , forgiven and blameless so we could have a relationship with our heavenly Father. I love Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 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.” and Romans 5:8-9“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Jesus restored, redeemed and ransomed us from our sinful state of being through Christ’s work on the cross.
Paul also speaks of cancelling the charges against us. This is referring to the case against us at birth from original sin. We are born with a sin nature and that cannot be erased or cancelled through any efforts of our own. In the Old Testament times the Jews followed the Law and offered sacrifices as forgiveness requires an atoning sacrifice. Paul is affirming that no amount of rule following would ever be enough to satisfy God’s wrath over sin. Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 6:23 “For the wagesofsin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Lastly, Paul is saying that Christ’s death on the cross did public damage to Satan and his minions. They are still alive and active but their days are numbered and there is a time coming when Christ will return victorious and judge them. 1Thessalonians 5:2-4“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.” Revelation 20:7-10“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
As for me I know, Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am spared God’s wrath as my sins are forgiven and I am freed from sin’s power in my life. Rejoice with me over being forgiven and claim your victory in Christ!
My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men yet, but they truly did not arrive until about 2 years after Jesus’ birth and provided monies for Joseph and Mary when they fled to Egypt. I’ll continue with their part in the story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing 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.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.
This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin-Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”
Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.
Our thankfulness verse today comes from 2 Chronicles 30:9. Many of the Israelites had abandoned the worship of God and had fallen away from faith. King Hezekiah sent out a decree inviting worshipers to come celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. His impassioned plea resonates with us today as God makes this same promise and claim to us if we will return to Him. “For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”
Our God is compassionate and loving and graciously promises to receive me if I come back to Him. A life without God is one lived in captivity to the world, a bondage He desires to free us from. He is always waiting to receive us in faith. These words echo the words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30 ” Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
How do I know God will not reject me if I come back to Him in faith? Jesus repeatedly spoke of rejoicing over those that were lost being found or returned home. In Luke 11:7 Jesus gives the parable of the lost sheep, “7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Also in the parable of the woman with the lost coin, Luke 15:9-10 “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” God is gracious and forgiving and desires us to be in relationship with Him. Remember the truth of John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God truly loves us so much that He sent Jesus to redeem us through His death on the cross.
What part of 2 Chronicles 30:9 resonates a spirit of thanksgiving with you today? Are you thankful for a loving and compassionate God who desires that none should perish? 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.” Are you thankful for the freedom from sin He offers in Jesus? John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
There is much to be thankful for because of the loving, compassionate attributes of our heavenly Father. May they seep into your heart and mind today creating true thankfulness towards Him.
This year as we are held in bondage by a world wide pandemic, I am holding my freedoms more closely and cherishing them even more. I am thankful for breath, life and freedom from oppression. I am thankful for our country, flawed as it is, where I am free to worship and live. I am thankful for family and friends- even if I’m not able to be with them, I know they are there. Has the pandemic led you to greater thankfulness?
I want to wish each of you a Happy 4th. The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with family BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks. Even if we are not able to celebrate like we have in the past, we know that the 4th is more than that to each of us. America and the freedom it represents and holds for each of us was bought with a price- sacrifice, hope and struggle by those that went before us and those that labored to secure our freedom. Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure,defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children. We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society. Is this possible? Actually I believe it is not possible without Christ. He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.
Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to Galatians 5:1. Paul was reminding the Galatians about the precious freedom they held in Christ. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christ died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him. The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He bought our freedom with a price, his life. He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death. My freedom in Christ is due to His sacrifice on the cross for me.
I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity. Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be eternally grateful for the freedom we have in Christ alone. He is the one who secured it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.
Today as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.
Do you think God’s plan for redemption was sudden or made up on the spur of the moment when Adam sinned? God in his omnipotent wisdom knew we were frail creatures and when we sinned there needed to be a plan to bring us back into communion with Him. Ephesians 1:4-6, from the Message translation makes this passage easy to understand, “Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”
Can you imagine that God had us in mind, wanted us to be in His family and to show His love to us even before He created the universe? I love that Paul says, God took pleasure in planning this. How much He loves us! Paul continues in verses 7-10 to explain God’s wonderful plan to redeem us and make us free. “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”
These verses are so encouraging. God loves us past, present and future. God wants us to be free and His plan is fulfilled for us in Christ. Faith in Jesus is the key.
May you be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope you now have in Him. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,we have all of this through faith in Him. Thank you Jesus.