Advent…Omniscient God

In Luke 1:76-60 Zechariah turns his prophesies of praise towards God for who and what his newborn son will do with his life. Only an Omniscient, All Knowing God could have revealed these truths about a newborn baby.

“And you, my little son,
    will be called the prophet of the Most High,
    because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
    through forgiveness of their sins.
We know of John’s ministry thought the gospels. Matthew 3:1-2 tells us what John was doing, just as had been prophesied. “In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”
John preached about the coming Messiah in Matthew 3:11 “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.

80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Luke was able to add this comment about John’s adult life. Verse 80 was not part of the prophecy of Zechariah but added by Luke truthfully about John’s life and character. Matthew 3:4-6 also gives a bit of background for this unusual preacher. “John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

The thing that jumps out at me in this song of prophesy is God’s purpose and plan for John was specific. He had a ‘job’ for John to accomplish in his life. The same is true of each one of us. Jeremiah 29:11 speaks of God’s plans, “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.” Do you believe that God has good plans for your life? Do you believe His plan is designed to give you a hope and a future? Essentially this boils down to believing that God is good and can use all things, even our screw ups and hard circumstances, to bless us and bring about good. Romans 8:28 speaks to this point “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. If you truly believe that God is who He says He is and will keep His promises, then you can be assured beyond any doubt that He will bring it to pass and it will be for your good and His glory. We cannot see into the future and know all the twists and turns of our lives but God can! Walking with Him is a walk of daily trust and obedience.

In light of what God specifically had in mind for John, may you meditate on His truths in Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 and be assured anew of His love and goodness causing you to live with hope knowing your future is secure in Him.

Linda

Advent…. No Fear!

Today’s scripture from Luke 1:11-17 includes one of the No Fear statements given by God. In writing Fearless Living, I saw that each of these No Fear opportunities in scripture packed a powerful message from God. He intends for us to live fearlessly keeping our focus upon Him.

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

Zechariah was going about his priestly duties in the temple just as we go about our daily tasks. But God, intervened into his life with a message of hope and deliverance. God wanted Zechariah to be encouraged not fearful. He wanted him to know that good news was arriving and that He had heard their prayers for a child. It affirmed to Zechariah that God hears our prayers, knows the desires of our heart and had good things planned for his life which included a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) God’s message to him was one of amazing hope for both he and Elizabeth and the nation of Israel. Their child would help turn hearts back to God. What greater blessing for a parent than to see their child living for God and fulfilling the purpose to which God has called them.

Where is God giving you hope? Where is God speaking to you, nudging you through the Holy Spirit as we begin this Advent season? Do you have someone He wants you to connect or reconnect with or is He nudging you to an act of kindness on their behalf? God wants us to live fearlessly by walking in trust and obedience to His call. Will you seek to listen as God desires to intervene in your life?

Linda

Is there a blessing for me?

copyright szefei

The Stream of Water for this week is all of Deuteronomy 33. In this chapter Moses delivers a blessing for each of the tribes of Israel by name. As I read through them, I marveled at the complete knowledge God has of tribe. He knew their past, present and future. He knew where their weaknesses and strengths were. We can take comfort in the fact that God knows all those things about us too. It brought to mind Jeremiah 29:11 “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 has plans for each of us just like He did for the Israelites.

The portion of this passage that is most meaningful to me is verses 26-29. “There is no one like the God of Israel.
    He rides across the heavens to help you,
    across the skies in majestic splendor.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and his everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
    he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety,
    prosperous Jacob in security,
in a land of grain and new wine,
    while the heavens drop down dew.
29 How blessed you are, O Israel!
    Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
He is your protecting shield
    and your triumphant sword!
Your enemies will cringe before you,
    and you will stomp on their backs!”

I love His message to me: 26- God is my helper no matter where I am He is with me. 27- God is eternal and always supports and protects me. 28- God has my safety in mind and has new provisions for me. 29- God is my protector, defender and always has my back! These same promises can be found elsewhere in the Bible as God desires us to know that He is for us and wants us to live full, productive lives grounded and protected by in His love.

May the God of Israel show Himself to you today as He comes alongside you to love, protect, defend and support you. Trust Him as Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” God keeps His promises. Live today like you really believe it!

Linda

Assurances that bring Joy!

Paul had just stated in Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  However, in today’s passage he goes on to explain these words in verses 1:22-26.  “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”  

heavenPaul is torn between the desire to be with Jesus and the desire to be with believers working to spread the gospel and for Christ.  Paul doesn’t know what the future holds for him but he rejoices in the assurance that God holds the future!  (Sounds like today huh!) He knows that God’s plans can be trusted and are good for him. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   Paul also knows how the fellowshipfellowship with other believers, the work of preaching, disciplining and proclaiming Christ is also good.  He loves his fellow co-workers and loves seeing their joy in Christ and the glory they all bring to God.

Therefore, Paul is good with either way the future unfolds.  He knows he will have joy in either case- death and moving into the presence of God (remember Paul is imprisoned at this point awaiting Caesar’s judgement)  or life and continued fellowship and spread of the gospel here on earth.

What about you?   Do you trust God with your future?  Are you assured of eternal life with Christ as Paul was?  I have listed the following verses below for you to mediate upon and claim their truths in your life.    I pray they will bring you reassurance:  John 3:16,  John 3:36, John 6:47, Romans 6:23,  1 John 2:25, 1 John 5:11.   (Printed out below)

Today my joy is increased as I know:

  • In death I will be with Jesus (verse 23)
  • The life I now have in Christ, in faith, is cause for joy. (25)
  • Fellowshipping with other believers, working in the cause of Christ brings me joy. (26)

Faith-JoyMay your joy be solidly rooted in Jesus as you walk in faith and trust in Almighty God.

Linda

John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 John 2:25 “And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.”

1 John 5:11  “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Eternal life with Jesus is a sure thing for the believer.  Live like you believe it today!

No need to worry- We are SECURE in Him!

Ephesians 1:13-14 holds wonderful truths for us to cling to that give us assurance of the hope and faith we have in Christ.  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

The truths of this passages are many.  I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith in Jesus affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.  These truths are confirmed other places in scripture as well.

romans 816Indwelling Holy Spirit testifying and affirming:  Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”   Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  1 Thessalonians 4:8 “Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”   We can be assured that His Spirit is real and lives within us.

Holy Spirit guaranteeing:  2 Corinthians 5:5  “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing 2 corinthians 5 5what is to come.”  Hebrews 6:17 “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.”   God gives us His word that His indwelling Holy Spirit guarantees our belonging to Him and our future with Him -heirs of His promises.

1 peter 1 4A tangible inheritance in Jesus1 Peter 1:4 “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”   Colossians 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Our inheritance is kept safe in heaven, a reward waiting for us for living a life of faith that brings glory to Jesus.

As you review these precious truths today.  Which ones resonate with your spirit and give you peace?  Claim God’s promises today!   He has an inheritance for us, He gives us His Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus and His Holy Spirit affirms and testify with our spirits so we can be assured of His love, a future with Him and His saving grace.  Praise God for His wonderful provision for us.  He knows we,  as finite beings,  need assurances  and He graciously gives us all we need.  Thank you Lord Jesus.

Linda 

Where are you placing your future? Is it done with Hope and Assurance?

Do you have verses that are yours?  One of my life verses is Jeremiah 29:11.  I first connected with this verse when I was asked to choose a verse for my grandson at his baby dedication. God led me to Jeremiah 29:11 and I began to cling to the promises it holds.   The connection for today and every day is the hope contained with God’s Words. romans 8-28“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.”   This verse tells me God knows me and my future and He has good planned for me.  Those things He has planned are designed to give me hope and a positive future.  I am convinced that God loves me and wants the very best for me.  I am convinced that God is good,  desiring the best for me- for my good and His glory.  How can I not have hope?

Does this mean that everything will always be good, happy and fulfilling? No.  It means that whatever happens in my life, God can use it for my good.  Romans 8:28 confirms Jeremiah-29-11this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   Since I know and love Jesus, I am assured that He can and does use all things in my life for good.  In the hard times, it is difficult to be assured of this,  but looking back or looking at others suffering we can often get a glimpse of this truth.  This calls for our faith and trust in Him.

I cling to the truths of Jeremiah 29:11 when hard times come, when I see amazing things happen, when I look and plan for the future and seek to know what He would have me do.   I ask for His help and guidance as His will is perfect His direction is true.  Let Psalm 25:4-5 be your prayer as it is mine.                                                                                            psalm 25 5 “Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Linda

How easily we are distracted!

The last section of the Sea of Galilee post-resurrection appearance of Jesus involved both Peter and John.  Still impetuous Peter inquired of the Lord about the things the Lord knew about, and Jesus refocused him.  John 21:17-19 “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”   Peter was distressed at the Lord’s insistent questioning of his love and Jesus replied with a prophecy about Peter’s life and death to come and how he would bring glory to God.  What Jesus required of Peter was obedience- ‘follow me’!

Then Peter asked about John and received this reply from Jesus in verses 21-22. “When Peter saw him (John), he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”   Jesus wanted Peter’s focus to be on Him not on the future and what would happen to others.  As Jesus said, He would take care of John but Peter needed to focus on following Him.

John 21 22How can we be encouraged by this scene today?  Just like Peter, we need to focus our lives on following Jesus, being obedience to His Word and walking with Him daily.  We do not need to ‘worry’ about others or question Jesus about their work and walk.  We have enough to do to keep our own focus on Jesus.   This does not mean we are not concerned about others,  but Peter was just being nosy here and wanted to know what would happen to John in the future- is his better than mine type stuff?  Since the Lord’s answer was always “Follow me”, that is what is crucial in our life too.  Obedience to Jesus is what He desires.  Later Peter so beautifully 1 peter 1 22wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 

Let us take seriously our walk with Jesus and His command ‘Follow me!” May we let the distractions of the world fall away as we walk forward in obedience with our Savior.

Linda

Hope, now and for eternity. Thank you Jesus.

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have hope.  Lent it a time of reflection and I was thinking what life would be like if Jesus had not come.  I would be dead in my sins without hope.  I would face eternal punishment because there would be no way to approach holy God.  Jesus’ death on the cross changed all that. Praise God! Thank you Jesus!  Here are some verses to offer up in praise for the work of our Savior.hope jesus blood

Psalm 62:5 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”

Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.”

1 Peter 1:21 “who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

Jesus_Christ_Our_Reason_For_Hope_637_637Because Jesus came, died and rose again, I can have hope for a life lived by faith today and a hope of future glory.   That is a blessed hope!  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Suggestion:  Today as you consider the hope you have in Jesus, express to someone something you are hopeful about and why.  It could be as simple as “I hope you have a good day” to “I am hopeful because of Jesus.”   Show someone you possess hope. If they ask you why you have hope then you can explain,  as today you have the answer! Jesus.

I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.

Because I believe Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.  The concept of believers being with Christ in heaven and reigning with Him is a privilege of faith and God’s grace to us.   Since we are adopted into God’s family and are heirs with Jesus, we will be in seated in heaven with Him.  Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with ephesians-2-vs-6-ewhich he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.   God did this for us, placed us in a place of privilege and honor because of His grace, mercy and love.  He made us alive in Christ when we were dead in our sins.  Believing in Christ changed our position from rejected sinner to one of honor.  2 Timothy 2:11-12a  give a similar picture, “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;”  Faith in Christ is the determining factor in whether we live and reign with Him or face eternal death.  God cannot look on sin so we have to find some way to deal with our sin or we are rejected from God’s sight forever.  In His infinite mercy and grace, He sent Jesus to provide a way for us to be restored, cleansed and elevated to a position of honor and purity.  Praises to Jesus for what grace-and-mercyHe did for us at the cross.

What about you?  Are you thanking Jesus for His grace and mercy?  As we gaze on the cross in a few days, think about what He has done for you and what you have because of His sacrifice.

Humbled in His sight,

Linda