God is Impartial, A Message for All!

Paul concludes his argument about putting on the new life in Christ in Colossians 3:9-11. His powerful words are as freeing to us today as they were to the first century Christians in Colossae. “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” These people lived in a society where people were separated race, religion, gender and social status. They were used to being put down, overlooked, cast out and neglected. Paul’s message was one of acceptance for all as those things do not matter or count in God’s kingdom. Jesus died for all!

Believers in Jesus could find freedom in God’s kingdom that was eternal and it promised equality for all. God is impartial. He sees no race, color, gender or status. God is only separated from us by our sin which knows no color or creed. All are called His children who believe in Jesus the Son. Romans 8:16-17 “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” He even names all Gentiles in Ephesians 3:6 “And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.

Additionally, Jesus called us His friends. John15:13-15 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” We are precious to Jesus and God the Father. We are called friend, sons, and heirs. We have an inheritance through faith in Jesus.

Paul’s last line in verse 11 is “Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” Jesus is all that matters. Faith in Him is the only way to a relationship with God as He imputes His righteousness to us and makes us clean before Almighty God. I love the fact that God is impartial and loves and accepts all of us. We are all sinners redeemed by the Son for a relationship with Him. Here are a few verses to meditate upon about the Impartiality of God. He is impartial and desires that we be and act with impartiality, too. He desires for us to love all people as Jesus did.

Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.”

Acts 10:34-35 “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”

Romans 2:11 “For God shows no partiality.”

1 Peter 1:17 “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.”

As you meditate on the sufficiency of Christ and the impartiality of God, let these verses resonate within you and cause you to seek to live with a loving and impartial attitude towards all men. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can seek to love others wholeheartedly and impartially.

Linda

Advent Shows Light and Salvation for All!

Just like after John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph had a naming and circumcision ceremony on the eighth day. They named him Jesus as that was the name the angel gave them even before His birth. Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21 Then the Jewish law required the couple to wait 40 days before presenting their child in the temple for dedication to the Lord. On Jesus’ dedication day God prepared yet another confirmation for Mary and Joseph that their child was from God. Here is their encounter with Simeon and his words about Jesus.

Luke 2:25-35 “ At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
    as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
    and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Wow! What confirmation from this godly man that Jesus was going to provide salvation for all people and bring light into the world. Bringing salvationTitus 2:11 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” and Hebrews 5:9 “In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” Bringing lightJohn 8:12 “Jesus said to them, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” and 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Simeon also blessed them and spoke words for them to treasure in preparation for the future that God has planned for their child. Saving the world and giving light to all was not going to be an easy pathway as He would face opposition and many hearts would be effected, even theirs.

What encouragement do you find in this story of Jesus’ dedication? It confirms to me that God is Sovereign and Omniscient. He knows all that will happen and had a plan to redeem mankind. It shows God is Merciful, Gracious and Compassionate as He sent His Son to bring light into a dark world and provide salvation for all. God is loving and keeps His promises just as He kept his word to Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Savior. He also prepared Mary and Joseph for the coming life their son would lead, one that would to be filled with godly purpose. God knows each of us as He did Simeon, Joseph and Mary. He knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Reflect today on how God’s timing has been perfect in your life. How has God fulfilled his promise in Romans 8:28 to you? “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I can attest to God’s hand in my life even in the darkest times. Even those tough times produced growth and experiences that God has used many times over to help others, to build my faith and produce results I had never envisioned or dreamed possible. God is indeed Sovereign and can and will use all things for my good and His glory as I walk with Him.

Linda

Advent Brings Service without Fear

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit as he delivered prophesies concerning the coming Messiah and his own newly arrived son. Even today, his words bring hope and reassurance in Jesus and God’s plan of salvation. Luke 1:68-75

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness

    for as long as we live.

I love that he begins with the fact that Jesus was coming to redeem his people. Anyone who believes in Jesus belongs to Him and are His family, His people! Ephesians 1:5 “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Zechariah reminds us that Jesus, Messiah, was prophesied to be from the line of David and would be our Savior. John 7:24 “For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” In verses 71 and 74 Zechariah states that by sending this messiah God will save the people and rescue them from their enemies. He took this to be literally enemies, like Rome, but since he said the rescue enables us to serve God without fear, we can take this to mean all kinds of rescuing. This rescuing is from sin, oppression, and bondage both physically through eternal salvation and spiritually with freedom from the bondage of sin into which we were born. Lastly he reminds us that any freedom we receive from the Savior will be eternal in nature and allow us to serve God, filled by His righteousness and holiness.

What an encouraging message for us today. We can claim the hope and eternal salvation that Jesus offers and know that though Him we can serve God covered in His righteousness. Philippians 1:11 “May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” and 1 Peter 1:13 “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”

Jesus brings hope to the world!

Linda

Advent, A Time of Grace Realized

The birth of a child brings happiness, joy and wonder to every parent. The arrival of Elizabeth’s baby was no exception and perhaps was an even greater joy to them and those around them as they had waited a long time for a child. I can identify with this as we were married for 14 years before the arrival of our Elizabeth and it was pure joy! Jewish customs prevailed and the child was not named until he was circumsized on the eighth day, as that recognized his officially belonging to the family of God. It was a day of great family celebration and scripture gives us a glimpse into this special day.

Luke 1: 57-66 “ When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” 61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. 65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

Can you even imagine being there when Zechariah spoke after 9 months of silence? What a surprise! But God is faithful to His Word, and just as the child was named, Zechariah’s time of silence ended. Awe or reverence for the Lord was used to describe the effect this had on the people there and the surrounding area. Other translations word it this way, “And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea.” The awe or fear was due to their amazement over what the Lord had done in their midst. They had seen first hand the power of God to provide this child in old age and to mute Zechariah for 9 + months. When was the last time you experience the hand of God in your own life or in someone near to you? Did it leave you in awe of our Sovereign God? Perhaps it was due to the birth of a child, healing of an illness, release from a threatening situation, resolving of a difficult circumstance or an answer to a specific prayer. What effect did it have on you? Were you joyous, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, or filled with wonder like the neighbors or did you try to discount it? Our response to God’s mercy and grace in our lives is crucial. In 1 Corinthians 1:4 Paul puts it this way, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,” Because of Jesus, our response should be one of thanks for His grace, His unmerited favor, towards us.

Let thanks be on your lips as you look for His Grace in your life today.

Linda

Advent, A Time to Proclaim the Promises of God

Within the Christmas story there are 4 hymns of praise we will encounter. Today’s is Mary’s in Luke 1:46-55 and is known as the Magnificat because the opening word in Latin, when translated, was Magnificat which showed Mary’s desire to magnify God in her life. The other hymns of praise we will soon come to are from Zechariah, the Shepherds and a devout Jew named Simeon. Mary’s is one of the most beautify in scripture and is similar to the song sung in praise by Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 when the Lord blessed her in her barrenness with a long awaited son.

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Mary’s desire was to magnify God in her life and rejoice in all He had done for her. She knew that she would be a blessing to others as she became the mother of our Lord, and also what a privilege it was to be chosen by God to carry His Son. What is your attitude towards God and the things He has called you to do? Are you thankful? Do you rejoice at the opportunity like Mary? Her attitude is sobering as it is so selfless and humble. She was not proud or arrogant at having been given this ‘job’ by God but considered it a privilege to serve her Lord.

Mary also knew scripture and the blessing God promised to Israel. Genesis 12:2-3 “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God promised repeatedly that all the world would be blessed though the descendants of Abraham. Jesus is that great blessing to the world, and Mary realized the fulfillment of this promise in the child she carried. She knew without a doubt that she was part of God’s plan of blessing for the world. What confidence do you have in the promises of God? Do you claim and cling to certain promises for your life? Here are a few of mine: 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.” A Promise to me that God has plans for my good filled with hope. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” A Promise that God is good and loves me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” A Promise of sufficient grace to face anything in life with Him. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” A Promise to always be with me.

God was real to Mary and He is to me. Know His promises and claim them in your life. Be bold and experience the faithfulness and love of God for yourself.

Linda

Need a study of God’s promises? Fill your New Year with promises to stand upon. My devotional book Promises for Dynamic Living gives 70 promises to meditate upon and claim as a believer. It is for personal study or can be used by a group. It is available at CertaPublishing.com or from Amazon.com.

Advent Brings Wonderment at the Kindness of God

Luke 1:23-25 tells of mute Zechariah going home and barren aged Elizabeth becoming pregnant just as God had said. “When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

Here are a couple of personal connections with these verses: Elizabeth remained in seclusion for 5 month and she had an amazing attitude towards God. It is not known why she kept her pregnancy a secret. It could have been because of her advanced age, the possibility of a miscarriage or perhaps it was time for her to adjust to this miracle happening to her. Elizabeth’s attitude proclaims a wonderment at God’s work in her. Since barrenness was consider a disgrace in their society, her heart overflowed with love and gratitude towards God for lifting this ‘curse’ from her.

How quickly do you to proclaim wonderment at God’s work in your life? I find it takes me a bit of time to process what has happened and to see God’s hand in my life. I can truly identify with Elizabeth and her process time. Like Elizabeth, I waited years for a child and God provided my sweet Elizabeth from a far away country. It took time to process that the adoption was really going to go through, that my child of promise was really coming and that I was going to be a mother. Once I realized it was really happening, I was filled with wonder at God’s answer to my long awaited prayer. I’m sure that Elizabeth had similar thoughts and concerns about her ability to be a mom and to raise her child as God wanted. I’m sure she never doubted her ability to love this new life within her! Her expressions of love and wonder at God choosing her to be a mother and the lifting of her disgrace was cause for her exclamation in scripture, “How kind the Lord is!” I totally get her words as that is exactly how I felt. I felt touched and so loved by God that He kindly sent Elizabeth to me. I also identified with her ‘lifting of disgrace’ for not having children. I know it was much more intensified in her day but I was constantly asked, “When are you going to have children?” I wanted children, so the words stung and stayed with me. Somehow, it is expected that once married you will have children, but as in Elizabeth and my case God had a plan for us to see the wonderment of God in our lives. God’s timing was not our timing, but His will was accomplished. John was born to Elizabeth and Zachariah and Elizabeth was brought home to us. “How kind God was!” to bring Elizabeth into our home! It was and is cause for rejoicing at the power and might of God.

May you see God’s hand in your life today and exclaim along with us, “How kind God is!”

Linda

Thankfulness Day 25: God values you and me!

Isaiah 49:15-16 are precious verses that give us hope, belief in the permanence of God and show how much God loves us. All of these things cause me to increase my gratitude for God and His tender loving care for me. Isaiah wrote these words to the people of Israel to encourage them. God had promised to punish them as a nation with captivity is Babylon if they did not return to worshipping Him and forsake their idols. Israel did not repent and spent 70 years in captivity, and yet God was faithful and remembered them. He brought them back to Israel and they did not pursue the worship of idols again.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.

Why are these verses precious to me today? Here are some truths contained in these verses. Let them penetrate into your heart and mind and let them create greater thankfulness within you.

God does not forget anything about me. verse 15

God has made me, my existence, a part of His being. (16)

Engraving is a permanent marking, therefore God’s love and care for me is eternal. (16)

God knows where I am at all times and is continually seeing to my protection and well-being. (16)

When I read these verses, I feel loved, cherished, valued and protected by the love and character of God. He is a promise keeper, and I can depend upon His faithfulness. May these truths cause you to be even more thankful today.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 16: 7 Amazing Reasons for Faith

Have you ever thought about faith and considered, what’s in it for me? Why should I believe and try to follow God’s pathway for my life? Today’s verses put this into perspective and really lead straight towards greater thankfulness.

Psalm 91:14-16 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

These verses are filled with 7 amazing promises from God. When He say, “I will” He means it, as He is sovereign and all things are within and under His control. He promises those who love and believe in Him that He will be: 1- ready to rescue, 2- protect, 3- answer when called, 4- always with you especially in times of trouble, 5- will honor you, and 6- reward you with eternal life and 7- save you from the punishment for your sins. What an overwhelming list of provisions from God are yours, all because you love and believe in Him. The reasons for belief and love for God show us His merciful, compassionate, loving character towards each and every believer. We are truly blessed by our Heavenly Father.

As you consider the psalmists words today, remember a time when God heard your prayers, rescued you from danger, allowed you to receive honor for something done for Him, how He was with you in a time of great trouble, and your response to His call upon your life as you began your eternal life with Him. These things will surely cause you to praise God with a heart and spirit filled with thankfulness.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 9: We have a recipe for freedom from worry! Yeah!

Matthew 6:31-34 contains our thanksgiving challenge for today!

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I labeled this as a thanksgiving challenge because Jesus’ principles for living go against our natural tendencies and desires. Jesus is asking us to live fully committed to God to receive provision and freedom from worry. God promises relief from daily worry if we will put knowing Him and His righteousness first in our life. How wonderful a life free from the stress of worry about our circumstances and needs would be. Jesus is proclaiming the following truths about life with Him: God does not want our life consumed with worry about everyday things or the future. God is sovereign and is greater than anything I could possibly face in life. Seeking to know God and His righteousness ways leads to a life free from worry. God know each day can be a challenge and requires full focus on Him to meet these challenges with trust in Him.

Can you do this? Yes, all things are yes in Christ! Focus on Jesus, knowing Him and seeking Him. God will keep His promises and free you from worry. Let the knowledge of Him and the freedom He provides create in you a sense of true thanksgiving and praise today.

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.