Advent…Praises Flow towards God

Mary’s song of psalms or praise to God is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. It is called the ‘Magnificat’ in Latin which means ‘glorifies’. Mary pours her heart out to God in praise for his care, love and protection for her people throughout generations. She praises God for being chosen to bear His Son the Messiah, the one who will save her people. Read it today with a heart of praise. Luke 1:46-55.

46 Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
    and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
    He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
    and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary’s song of praise exclaims God’s favor or grace towards her 48, God’s holiness and providential care 49, God’s mercy towards Israel 50, God’s sovereignty and might 51-52, God’s care for their basic needs in life 53, God’s help in times of trouble 54, God keeps His promises 55.

Which of these do you praise Him for today? Think about His character and praise Him. Think about His grace towards you and praise Him. Think about His Sovereignty over all things and trust Him to complete His good work in you. From the depths of your soul, praise Him today as you follow Mary’s example of proclamation and praises.

Linda

Love Language for Thanking God

What type of language do you use to thank God? Are your words plain and simple, direct and forthright? If you want others to understand how you feel about God and why you feel the need to thank Him, then you should say what is in your heart with emotion and love. In Psalm 145 the psalmist lays out his feelings about God, who He is and why God should receive his (ours too) thanks and praise.

 I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Eternal God and King
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, Unsearchable in His greatness
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
Majestic, Wonderous
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
Awesome deeds, His Greatness
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
His Goodness and Righteousness

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. His Grace, Mercy, Patience and Love
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.
His Goodness and Mercy

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, All Creation will give thanks to Him!
    and all your saints shall bless you!

What an amazing list of attributes of our God! He is all those and so much more. Let your heart overflow with gratitude and thanks towards Almighty God!

Linda

Cultivate your Gratitude

One of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible is found in Daniel 2:20-23. Daniel was a young Jewish man who was taken into captivity in Babylon. He was trained to help in the king’s court as one of his wise counselors. The king had a dream and demanded that his ‘wise men’ tell him what the dream was and what it meant or they would face execution. Daniel asked for time to consult His God for answers. In this prayer Daniel is expressing his thanks for the answers God gave him so his life and the lives of others could be saved. As you read this prayer, consider your own thanks to God- why are you thankful and what do you know personally about God?

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
    and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
    for you have made known to us the king’s matte
r.”

Daniel knew God was eternal, sovereign, wise, the giver of understanding and wisdom, the revealer of deep and hidden things, total light and purity, and the one who controls the future. Do you know God because you have seen some or all of these attributes of God as He interacts in your life? Do you trust Him fully to know what is best for you? My go to verse for trust and the goodness of God is 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.” I claim this verse over my life, my mind and my will as I seek to trust God fully. Daniel trusted God and gave thanks for His love, devotion and care for him. God had answered his prayers and allowed him to grasp in the greatness of God in a new and tangible way.

I pray this thank giving time of year has brought a new realization of who God is and what He has done and is doing in your life. Give thanks to God in this season of your life. Recall what God has done and how He has blessed you. Your love and gratitude to God needs to be cultivated so it will grow and reflect outward towards others revealing the God you love.

Linda

Is God the Source of Your Thankfulness?

Today’s focus for giving thanks comes from Psalm 46:1-3. In my book, Promises for Dynamic Living, I used these verses on the printed bookmark that accompanied the book. These verses never cease to bring thankfulness, awe and extreme encouragement to my soul.

“God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Why am I always encouraged? Because, God is my refuge and strength. God is with me 24/7, ever-present. God is greater than any circumstance I will ever face, even if it looks like everything is falling apart. Knowing that God has my back allows me to move forward in life without fear. Trusting in God eliminates the threat of fear and fills me with hope, reassurance and peace.

Why am I in awe? Because, who am I that God would love, protect and care for me in all circumstances? Knowing I am loved and cared for by my heavenly Father brings joy to my soul.

Why am I thankful? Because, I have God as my protector and nothing can befall me that will leave me alone and forgotten by God. He is always with me and has this world in His control.

These verses are true cause for encouragement, awe, and thanksgiving. May they lead you towards greater thankfulness for the power and might of our loving God.

Linda

God’s Kindness, What is it?

Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23″22 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.” Like Patience this attribute is one God desires to be in our character and is one that grows and develops as we are indwelt and responsive to the Holy Spirit in our lives. For this discussion, I want to start at the root of Kindness- God Himself. God is perfect in all of His ways and embodies all kindness in His being. Here are some scriptures to help us to better understand the kindness of God.

Ruth 2:20 “And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” God brought Boaz into Ruth’s life to restore her and her mother-in-law when they returned to Israel after losing their husbands. God’s kindness is true for both those living and those who have passed into eternity. God’s kindness transcends all realms as God is God of all, both the living and the dead. I find great comfort in this, like Naomi, God does not stop being God to me when I leave this earthly home. He is eternal and His kind character will be there no matter when or where!

Like humans, God desires to show His kindness towards us. He is always motivated by His love. Romans 2:4 says He shows us His love because He desires that we will see and recognize His love, patience and longsuffering towards us and turn to Him. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” What is the purpose of your acts of kindness? Do you desire to show your Savior to others and draw them to Him?

God’s kindness towards us was given to bring us to repentance and faith and is explained more fully in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians 2:5-8 is one of my favorite and encouraging passages. 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, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” God’s kindness is evident in His sending Jesus to redeem and save us from eternal death through faith. Jesus came even though we were sinners and dead in our sins. He brought us life. What a wonderful kindness God showed to all of us by this act. God showed us then and will continue to show us His kindness into eternity. Titus put it this way in Titus 3: 4-6 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” God’s kindness in sending Jesus to die for our sins was His alone. It was His mercy and cleansing though our faith in Christ that redeems us. He loved us that much! What sacrifices have you made for others out of godly kindness?

David summed up God’s kindness in Psalm145.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.]

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.

How does God’s kindness towards you affect your day to day walk with Him? Are you seeking to show His kindness to others? Remember, kindness is an outgrowth of faith and the work of the Holy Spirit within. Our kindness is meant to draw others to Jesus. By being and acting kindly towards others we show them Jesus and His great love. Not feeling kindly towards others- pray. Not wanting to do kind acts- pray. Remember, God is eternal and His kindness is unending, longsuffering and always fills us with hope! Thank you God.

Linda

God’s Character Revealed

And the journey continues…Nahum. This short book in the Old Testament was written by Nahum the prophet. Like Jonah he was called to give a message from God to Assyria. Years earlier God sent Jonah to call the people of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, to repentance. They had repented and God had postponed their destruction. They had been an evil people practicing extreme cruelty towards others and had taken the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity. God had promised revenge upon those who used and abused His people. So the time for their downfall has arrived and Nahum tells how God will destroy them because of their sinful ways. In the midst of these 3 short chapters there are some nuggets that speak of God’s great character and promises of hope in the future for those who trust in Him.

Nahum 1:2-7 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
    and keeps wrath for his enemies.
God does not allow those who love Him to be taken advantage of and not avenged. He is the one who will right wrongs and take care of our enemies. This biblical truth is given many other places in scripture. See Deuteronomy 32:41-43,Isaiah 35:4, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
    and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
    and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry;
    he dries up all the rivers;
Bashan and Carmel wither;
    the bloom of Lebanon withers.
The mountains quake before him;
    the hills melt;
the earth heaves before him,
    the world and all who dwell in it.
Here Nahum speaks of the sovereign control God has over His creation. He describes God’s character as being longsuffering, patient but just in the face of sin.

Who can stand before his indignation?
    Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
    and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
The Lord is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him
. God is God and no one can stand against Him and His power. Verse 7 is one of my favorites as it extols the goodness of God for all who believe and take refuge in Him!

In 1:15 Nahum tells of good news to come. The coming destruction of Assyria was good news to the people of Judah who had been threatened and abused by them. The good news also foreshadows the coming of Jesus who brought good news for all mankind. Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
    who brings good news,
    who publishes peace!
Keep your feasts, O Judah;
    fulfill your vows,
for never again shall the worthless pass through you;
    he is utterly cut off.

What can we learn from this ancient prophesy? We know that the destruction of the Assyrian empire was historically accomplished at the hands of the Babylonians years after this prophesy was written. God’s word was true and accurate and shows how God’s will will be accomplished as He says. The words within Nahum show us more about God’s holy character and how He is mighty, sovereign, holy and all powerful. It also gives us assurance that God will avenge wrongs done towards those who follow Him in faith and shows His love and care for each believer. I cling to the truth of verse 7- God is good and in Him I will find refuge as He cares for me! Amidst the destruction and unleashing of God’s wrath towards their unrepentant sin, we see hope and restoration for those who believe in Him– Jesus. He is the ultimate good news of God that brings love, peace, hope, forgiveness and life eternal in Him. 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.” Thank you Jesus.

May you have a clearer vision of who God is and what He has done for you through Jesus.

Linda

How do you do it? Live for Jesus

And the journey continues… James. This New Testament book is Oh so practical in nature. It was written by James, the oldest brother of Jesus. After his conversion, he became a pillar of the Christian church in Jerusalem and was widely known. His opening lines direct this letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians who had been scattered abroad after the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). James is referred to many times in the New Testament as Jesus appeared to him personally after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), was known as a pillar in the church (Galatians 2:9), was visited by Paul on various occasions, was Paul’s first choice of whom to tell upon being released from prison, (Acts 12:17), was important in the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15:13, was the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1) and history records that he was martyred in A.D. 62.

His short letter of 5 Chapters is packed with practical knowledge and instruction on how to live out a life committed to Christ that is filled with faith and good works. James was a servant of Christ and desired that those following Jesus serve Him wholeheartedly. It is filled with wisdom on how to treat others, tame the tongue and submit to God. If you desire to learn to think biblically it is a great book to memorize. The truths will permeate your being and infuse godly thinking into your mind. As James would say, it leads to solid faith and good works that show our love for God as we serve Him. Here are a few of my most favorite verses that have transformed my thinking.

James 1:2-4 talks about attitude and the results of trusting all of life’s events to God.  “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.

James 1: 5-6 instructs us to go to the source of all wisdom when we need answers but to do it with faith!  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:17 confirms the immutability of God. He also assures us that God is good in all He gives. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

James 1:19-20 instructs us to control our anger.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 2:1 begins his teaching on treating others with impartiality. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” He concludes this chapter with words about faith and good works. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (2:14)

James 3 delves into the harm and good that we can do with our tongues!  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (3:6)

James 4:7-8 is one of my favorite promises as it shows us clearly the way to draw near to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

In his last chapter James talks about the whining rich, the need for patience and the importance of prayer. James 5:15-16 encourages us in our prayer life! “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Which of these nuggets of wisdom do you need today? Are you struggling with trials in your life and need the perspective of joy? Are you concerned that God is perhaps whimsical and will change His mind about your salvation? Are you being confronted with favoritism, gossip or want to know how to get closer to God? Are you struggling with prayer and asking yourself why pray? James is a book that can be read, meditated upon and digested slowly so that the truths contained therein will permeate your life and allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out.

Be encouraged today by the practicality of James and how he makes faith in Christ applicable to our daily walk with Jesus.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 12: The Faithfulness of God

Timothy includes the possible words of a Christian hymn in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. The words are meaningful as they give hope and assurance to our hearts. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure hardship,  we will reign with him. If we deny him,  he will deny us.13 If we are unfaithful,  he remains faithful,  for he cannot deny who he is.

Timothy’s words give true hope as they are based upon the character of God. The truth of knowing if we die knowing Him, we will live with Him. If we suffer, which we will, He will reward us in heaven. If we deny Him, He will deny us when we stand before Him to make accounting of our actions, not a pleasant thought at all, but a truth to be realized. If we are unfaithful, sin, fall away, are seemingly lost, confused or lose hope, He is always faithful as it is an integral part of His being.

Because of our sinful nature, living in a world surrounded by sin and its temptations, we will sin. God know this so He gives us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and give us courage, strength and direction. He gives us the hope of eternal life and resurrection with Him. He gives us His Word to be a lamp to our pathway in life filled with encouragement, promises and guidelines for combatting sin and living a life honoring to Him. I cling to the truth that even when I falter and fail in my walk with Him, I cannot fail as God is the one who sustains my faith. We are assured over and over in the Bible that God is faithful and we can depend upon His faithfulness to sustain, uphold, keep us in His hand and in His love.

Here are a few verses to meditate on the faithfulness of God. Let them create thankfulness in your heart today! Psalm 36:5 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,  your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 86:15 “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good;  his steadfast love endures forever,  and his faithfulness to all generations.” Isaiah 25:1 “O Lord, you are my God;  I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things,  plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;    his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.” Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

As you depend upon the faithfulness of God for each breath you take today, will you thank Him for His unending faithfulness? Let these verses lead you toward greater thankfulness, knowing the truth of Deuteronomy 31:6 “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.” HE IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL.

Linda

God’s Word is Worthy of Reading!

copyright szefei

Each week we, the believers who attend Crossroads Church in Concord, CA, have a selection from God’s Word to meditate upon. We have been going through the book of Deuteronomy for quite some time now as it is a long book, and we only take a few verses at at time. I was thunderstruck by the passage this week.

Deuteronomy 31:9-13 “So Moses wrote this entire body of instruction in a book and gave it to the priests, who carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and to the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses gave them this command: “At the end of every seventh year, the Year of Release, during the Festival of Shelters, 11 you must read this Book of Instruction to all the people of Israel when they assemble before the Lord your God at the place he chooses. 12 Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions. 13 Do this so that your children who have not known these instructions will hear them and will learn to fear the Lord your God. Do this as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.”

How many of us read God’s Word, all of it at least every 7 years? Do we share it with our families? God has a specific purpose for us reading His Word faithfully- to teach us about Himself and to pass on our love for God to the next generation. In my opinion, that is something we, all believers, have not done faithfully and now our world is lacking in the knowledge of who God is and why we should trust in Him alone.

Let us pray for our nation and ourselves that we will be found faithful in reading and studying His Word and telling those around us about the truths contained therein. To thrive in this sin-filled world, we must look to Jesus and His Word to walk in victory and light.

Linda

P.S. Need a Bible Study? send me a note and I’ll tell you of opportunities to study with many online groups. We no longer need to live in the same city or country!

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