Thankfulness That Produces Results

Colossians 3:15-17 contains precious verses to empower, direct and motivate us to live lives to the honor and glory of God. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Paul’s message has 3 directives all followed by thankfulness. 1) let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, and be thankful. 2) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,  and with thankfulness in your heart to God. 3) do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, always giving thanks to God the Father through him. Each of these actions of letting peace rule our hearts, letting His Word dwell within us and doing all we say and do in the name of Jesus need to motivate us as we seek to live for Jesus each day. Each needs to be followed with thankfulness which will be easy when you see that each of them produces great thankfulness in our hearts and minds. As we see what Christ has done for us, our gratitude increases.

How are you doing? Are you living in and with the peace of God? Jesus told his disciples and us too in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” It is yours for the asking, Jesus meant you to be at peace in Him.

Are you spending time in God’s Word and letting Him speak to you as you read and study? Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” John 17:8 “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” God’s Word is truth and reading it daily will allow Him to speak to you, minister to your soul and give you insights into your character and His.

Are you examining your words and actions to see if they line up with God’s desires, plans and commandments? 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?” 1 Samuel 15:22 “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God wants you to be a person of character walking in obedience to Him, with humility and trusting His plans that are for your good and His glory. God is always faithful so walk trusting Him with each day.

As you consider the 3 directives and examine your own heart, what is your level of thankfulness? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are to incorporate thankfulness into all areas of our life- in all circumstances, both good times and hard. But when we do, our peace is increased, our love and understanding of God’s word is increased and our actions begin to be more and more like Jesus which produces profound thankfulness in our hearts. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can experience profound thankfulness as I learn to hold tightly to the peace of God, the Word of God and trust in His development of my character to be more and more like Jesus.

Linda

Soulful Joy

What is so special about the Joy we find in the Lord? First of all we know that joy is brought to us through the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 gives a list of the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit, those things that come to us as a believer when we accept Jesus as Savior and His Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. As we grow as a believer, His Spirit manifests Himself within us in these ways. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” How do others or even you yourself know you are a believer? These fruits should be evident in your life along with growth in godly character which I like to call growing more and more like Jesus. Theologically it is a process known as sanctification. This is the Holy Spirit’s work within us, growing us in holiness to be like Jesus. A good question to ask yourself is, what ‘fruits’ am I seeing in my life? Is my character changing as I seek to walk closer to the Savior? Am I more kind, loving, understanding, or do I hunger after God’s Word, seek other believers in fellowship, spend time in prayer, enjoy Christian music, or seek to be a peacemaker? All of these would be signs of growth in the sanctification process and the work of the Holy Spirit within you.

But back to Joy, scripture describes several kinds of joy that I will delve into in coming blogs. The first kind I want to talk about I call soulful joy. Joy that emanates from within your soul because you are loved and cared for by God. Here are some passages that describe this kind of joy:

Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,

and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.

Psalm 63:5-8 “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Isaiah 49:13 “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
    break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted.

Jude 1:24-25 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

May you recognize soulful joy in your life and bask in the light of His love for you. May thoughts of God’s love, protection and comfort bring joy to your soul and peace from within from His Holy Spirit today.

Linda

Got a Word, Now look for the Why!

When choosing a Word to guide or focus your year, you need to remember that the word is just a tool of remembrance. The real power is in the Word of God upon which your word is based. For example, I have chosen Joy as my focus word for the year. I will be looking for the joy of the Lord in all things- not just the fun, productive or happy times. How do I know this is true? It is because the Joy I am seeking is based on scripture. As I have looked at my verses more closely, I see different aspects of God’s joy that I can look forward to this year.

Joy in that is based on my salvation and will provide me with sustaining strength to lift me up, even when things don’t look so good! Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold  and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord;  I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength;  he makes my feet like the deer’s;  he makes me tread on my high places.”

Joy that is based on the Sovereignty of God as He knows the pathways He has made for my life and I can find His joy as I walk trusting Him. Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy that will cause me to rejoice in both body and spirit. It will fill me up from the inside out and is based in the graciousness of God for those He has redeemed. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy,  when I sing praises to you;  my soul also, which you have redeemed.”

Joy that provides me with eternal strength to face each day. Nehemiah 8:10b “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joy that takes everything in stride and produces character within me. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Take the word you have chosen for the year and search scripture for places it is used. Pray and seek God’s guidance in which verses really speak to you that He would have you apply to your life this year. It is not your word that guides you but the Word of God that uses, applies and motivates your year.

God’s Word has the power to lead, guide, uplift, motivate, give strength, and produce salvation within you as you believe in Him. God’s Word is eternal, sharp, penetrating, breathed by Him so it can produce within our character what God desires for our lives. Let His Word guide you this year as you seek Him.

Linda

The Process of Transformation -a blessed journey!

Oh! what a promise we have in our Stream of Water reading from the Word this week. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 holds many truths and encouragements aimed at the believer and assurance of the promise of the mind of Christ.

Paul wanted to encourage the believers in Corinth that godly wisdom comes through knowing Christ and that His Holy Spirit would indwell and teach us the important things we need to know. He was not talking about worldly wisdom but those things that are the deep things of God.

What does this mean for you and me? We can read and study the Bible with confidence knowing the Holy Spirit will teach and reveal to us things we need to know to live godly lives before God. 10 “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” When we were unbelievers, Paul explains the words of God seemed foolish or not understandable. 14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Now that we are believers the Holy Spirit reveals to us things of God, 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” We can think about God, understand Him more clearly and make decisions based on godly wisdom and behaviors. Will we know everything about God? No, that is not possible as we have finite minds and cannot totally grasp the infinite. But we can be assured that through the power of the Holy Spirit within us we can live, love, work, study, and thrive growing in the knowledge of who God is and that He is real. We can align our hearts and minds with Christ and walk in His power each day. We can learn to emulate Christ and think biblically as we delve into His Word. What a privilege! Thank you Jesus for giving us a mind that can be focused and that can understand and learn about you. We are truly blessed.

Linda

Entire 1 Corinthian passage: 2:6-16

Wisdom from the Spirit

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Moses Loved By His Sovereign God and Nation

What do you remember about Moses? The miracles in Egypt, his age -40 years in Egypt as a Prince, 40 years in Midian as a shepherd, 40 years leading the Israelites in the desert or do you remember his total perseverance with the stubborn Israelites as he lead, guided and interceded for them before God. As I thought about this, I read our last portion of scripture from Deuteronomy Chapter 34 that is our Stream of Water for this week. What stood out to me was what God did, and what He said. God took Moses up to the top of Mt. Nebo and showed him all the land of Promise that the Israelites would possess, verse 1-4. He was frank with him and told Moses he would not enter this land, verses 4. Moses had served God until age 120 and was still not weak in body or mind and had his eyesight, verse 7. God buried him personally, verse 5. God had prepared a new young leader to march the people forward with memories of this great servant of God in their hearts and minds, verses 9-12.

For what do you want to be remembered? Moses was and is remembered for his character, his faithful service, his own flaws and sins, his opportunity to see God and to deliver God’s people and message faithfully. That is a legacy filled with honor for Moses and one that points us to His God. Do you personally know God? Will He be there to meet you in death and take you home with Him? If you don’t believe this will happen, seek Jesus and place your faith in Him. He promises eternal life for all who believe. 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.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Know Him personally today! Experience the love and care of Jesus from now until eternity through faith in Him. You too can be like Moses and know God. You can follow and serve Him faithfully. He will be personal to you and await you in death. What glorious promises we have in Jesus!

Linda

Deuteronomy 34 :1-12 “Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

God at Work in me = JOY!

Therefore is a transition word that means the writer has reached a conclusion and has a truth for us.  Philippians 2:12-13 is one such passage.  Paul had just finished describing Jesus, his role as Savior and Lord of Lords in verses 5-11 and reached a conclusion about Jesus’ effect on all our lives.  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Paul reminds the Philippian believers of their faithful obedience to Jesus, even when he was not there supervising them, and admonishes them to ‘work out their salvation with fear and trembling’.  

Paul’s charge to ‘work out their salvation with fear and trembling’ would apply to us too. God at workThis phrase implies that we need to continue in faith regardless of the obstacles we face daily.   We need to commit to growing in our faith, and strive to know more about God each day.  We need to take that growth and then apply it to our faith with diligence and persistence.  All this should be done without doubt or fear but because of our faith and reverence towards God.  Scholars agree it does not mean any kind of ‘earning’ or working hard to create our salvation but rather living our faith in Jesus out in our daily lives.   Paul refers to believers as new creations in Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  That new creation, a life filled with faith in Jesus,  demands a new walk with Christ that causes us to live by His Word and be indwelt and transformed by His Holy Spirit.  We did nothing to earn this transformation as it is God’s gift to us through faith but it needs to be cared for and nurtured as we grow in Him.

philippians 2 13As Paul continues, I love what he says in verse 13.  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”   Paul knows that God is the one working within us to mold and shape us.  God is doing the work. Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.”   God needs our commitment to Him, then He is the one doing the work within us.  We trust and commit then God does the follow through!   Paul also knew that what God intends or wills happens.   Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Finally, Paul adds that the things God does in our lives are for His good pleasure.  This will always be good for us as promised in 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.”  God’s plans are always for His glory and our good!  

joy quoteIncreased joy for me, how about you?

  • I am filled with joy that my growth in character pleases God and equals joy in my life.
  • I am filled with joy that God is at work within me with purpose and goodness.
  • I am filled with joy knowing that God keeps His promises!

Have a blessed and joy filled day!

Linda

Strategic Living has ARRIVED!

Strategic Living FRCov (1)For such a time as this, my new book Strategic Living is perfect.  We all wonder, while we’re at home sheltering in place because of the Covid-19,  what we can do to reach others and survive ourselves.  In my new book, Strategic Living I take a biblical look at godly character and seek to challenge the reader to reflect and take action.   Becoming more and more like Jesus is a process called sanctification and takes deliberate effort and intentionality.  This new devotional gives concrete examples and direction on how God can and does shape our lives and explores perhaps new and different ways God desires that we act.  The book can be used for individual devotions or for group study.  Questions for group discussion are included along with key memory verses.

Take up the challenge and get your copy today.   It is available in paperback or eBook formats.

My book is available at Certa Publishing  http://www.certabooks.com/strategicliving   

And on Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dphttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dp

thank you,   Linda

Strategic Living BKCovAfter reading my book, I would appreciate you taking the time to review the book.  As reviews help to spread the word.

Truth and Right Living, Armor up with Christ

Do you suit up properly for life’s battles?  Here are the first pieces of armor in Paul’s list- the belt and  breastplate.   Ephesians 6:14 “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness”,  The first things we are to put on involve our godly ephesians 6 14-beltcharacter- the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.  The root of the believer’s strength is the character he/she has in Christ.  Godly character is based on the truth of God, who He is, and how you are bound to Him through faith in Christ.  Jesus is truth and knowing Him brings truth into your lifeJohn 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  His Holy Spirit brings believers truth “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13 and His Word is truth “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  John 17:17.   The truth of godly character is base on Christ, the Holy Spirit and His Word and are the essential building blocks for godly character in our lives.

Another element of godly character that we are to put on that provides for our defense is His righteousness as ephesians 6 14-breastplateour breastplate.   The breastplate covers the heart and protects our vital organs. Since we cannot be righteous on our own because of our sin nature, we have to depend upon Christ and His righteousness.  Romans 3:21-24 “ But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”   Jesus made the way for us to be righteous before God and give us (imputes) His righteousness to us.  We are renewed through this righteousness from Christ as Paul reminded us in Ephesians 4:20-24 in The Message translation, “But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”  Righteousness is a key to a life filled with godly character and can only be obtained through Christ.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, only through Him can we have His character.

ephesians 6 14Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have godly character that is based on His truth and righteousness.  These first pieces of armor are crucial to living a life for Christ. Put them on then stand firmly rooted and grounded in Christ.

Linda

 

 

 

Godly character, what is that?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have godly character.  What is godly character?  God has many attributes and some are communicable to us through Jesus and some belong solely to God.  For example, only God is incomprehensible, the creator, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent or sovereign.  However, those characteristics of God that He wants us to possess are vast and growing characterwonderful.  He desires that we are like Him in having peace, joy, being forgiving, thankful, honest, friendly, generous, loving and humble to name just a few.  As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit transforms us in a process called sanctification as we are made more and more like Jesus.

Why does God want to do this for us?  Scripture is clear there are great benefits to this character transformation.  Romans 5:2-4 “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. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”   Wow! Through faith in Jesus we stand in grace, rejoice in hope and our suffering produces godly character in us!  James 1:2-4 also speaks of the count it all joytrials of life bringing about change in our character for good.  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Life’s trials test our faith and produce character that is steadfast and leads to perfection in Christ.   It is the trials in our life that God uses to hone and shape our character to make us more and more like Jesus as we learn to depend upon Him and place our Hope in Him.  

hopeMay you find joy in your trials and suffering as God works on your character, a character that will bring you hope!

Linda

Suggestion:  Determine to take a different view of the hard things you face today.  Seek to see them as character building. Praise God for the ability to cling to Him with a thankful, joyful and hopeful heart!

Completeness! Thank you Jesus.

Complete-in-ChristBecause Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been made complete in Christ.   Colossians 2:10 “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”   My understanding of this is that all God’s purposes for our lives are made complete in Christ.  2 Corinthians 1:20 “ For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”  Knowing that we can be who God wants us to be because of Christ’s work on the cross, we can consider ourselves complete in His power.   We have assurances from God’s Word that our completeness in Christ is made possible by His Holy Spirit within us and through the leading of His Spirit we will be made more and more like Jesus.  

Here are some verses to encourage you as you walk with Jesus each day and seek be to complete in Him:   2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”   God’s Word teaches, corrects and trains us so we can do His good works.  Seeking completeness?  Stay in God’s Word so He can equip you!         

James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.   God wants us to face trials with joy as they will hone and perfect our character to be more like Jesus.  Do you feel your character is sagging or you are growing apathetic?  Endeavor to see your trials and tests as opportunities to build your character and allowed by God to grow you up in Christ.       

joy in Christ1 John 1:3-4  “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our  joy may be complete.”   John wanted us, as believers, to rejoice in Christ as fellow-shipping with the Father and Son brings complete joy to us and our fellow believers!  Do you consider yourself a joyful ChristianIf not, seek to know Christ better and fellowship with positive spirit-filled Christians.  Their joy for Christ will be contagious!

Linda

Suggestion:  Choose one of God’s completeness strengtheners from scripture and praise God for the completeness you feel!

  • Choose a portion of God’s Word to read each day this week. (Psalm 31, 37 or 103 are my personal favorites)
  • If you have a particular trial coming up this week, endeavor to count it joy and praise God for the opportunity.
  • Seek out a fellow Christian(s) and praise God together in song or prayer.