5th Sunday of Lent

Today as we go to worship let us think about Solomon’s words to the people of Israel. He knew who God is and what he has done!

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

1 Kings 8:56-61

Be bold in living for a God this week knowing you can rely upon Him as He keeps all His promises. Not one of His promises will fail!

Linda

Suggestion: Claim one of God’s promises this week, review it daily and let the hope of a God’s Word work in your life. Here are a couple of suggestions: Lamentations 3:21-23, Philippians 4:19, James 4:7-8a, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 37:5 or John 14:27

Living with Confidence, Thank you Jesus

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a life with a godly plan and purpose. This thought brings me great comfort as it means my existence has meaning and I am here for a reason. It also means God has intentions for my life and knowing that God is good means His intentions are always good for me, my life and my growth. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse I claim frequently for reassurance when things seem bleak or unsettling in my life. 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 can rest in knowing Sovereign God has a plan and purpose for me and it is all good!

Knowing God’s plan is good, we can cling to that promise in hard times as well as the promise in Romans 8:28 “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.” Many say “life just happens” but this verse assures us that is not true. We can rest assured that God’s purpose and design is greater than anything Satan can throw at us. This verse promises God can use all things for our good. Many times we don’t see how at the moment, but God is faithful and eventually we may see how He uses even the very hard things in our lives to teach and grow us for His good.

One last verse for today: 2 Timothy 1:8b-9a “But join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy life -not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” Paul knew that God had a purpose for him, a work that was divinely commissioned just for him and that God would empower him through Christ to do all He had set out for Paul to do. We can know that is true for us as believers, too.

When things are hard- claim any of these three verses in your life. Cling to them and know God is faithful and keeps all His promises.

Linda

Suggestion: Take time to reflect on a hard time or difficult relationship and see how God worked in the circumstances to bring you to a better place or to grow you. Claim one of the above verses over something you are facing and believe God for the results.

Peace, do you have it?

peace-with-godBecause Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have peace with God.  Peace seems like such an illusive thing.  Some days I revel in it and some days it seems out of my reach.   What we can be assured of is that peace is ours through Christ and is always attainable.  Jesus said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  The peace Jesus gives is not worldly calm and freedom from activity,  but a peace that will satisfy our souls.  It is the peace the pervades us even when the world is swirling around us.  Paul describes this peace in Romans 5:1-2  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”   Paul assures us that the peace we have though Christ brings us into relationship with God, is filled with His grace,  and it will purposefully sustain us no matter what else is happening in our lives.

Since peace is ours for the taking in Christ, why do we struggle with it so much?  I think it is because of the pull of the world on our lives.  We are free in Christ from the power of sin over our lives,  but we live in a sinful world.  The effects of sin on us and our lives are unavoidable.  Staying above this and living in peace takes work, prayer, diligence to stay in the Word and fellowship with other believers.  Are you getting a dose of each of these in your life each day or week?  Lent is good time to renew commitments and take time to pray, read God’s Word, memorize a verse or two and have fellowship with other believers.  It is good for your soul and will bring you peace!

27733-jesus-peace.1200w.tn

Linda

Suggestion Today set aside time to pray, read the Word or talk with a Christian friend.  Then look for God’s peace to surround you!

Adoption, A thing of beauty for my grateful heart.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been adopted as God’s child and belong to His family.   This is a precious truth from scripture that gives me great comfort.  Through my faith in Jesus,  I now have a forever family and God is my heavenly Father.  Romans 8:15-17 lays out our family heritage and what it means to us ABBAeternally.   For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”   We are adopted through our faith in Jesus into God’s family.  We can call God our Father.  His Holy Spirit indwells us and reminds us that we are God’s children.  By suffering with Christ, we are considered joint heirs with Him and will share in heavenly glory.  Through adoption we have access to our heavenly Father and can go to Him each day seeking knowledge, wisdom, comfort, mercy, compassion, hope…. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8

How will you use this truth in your life today?  You are God’s child and belong to His family thorough your faith in Jesus.  This blessed privilege brings hope, contentment, comfort, assurance and belonging into your life.

Linda

Read the scripture again in the Message and let it sink into your soul and cause you to praise and thank God. 15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Suggestion:  Call on your Father, God, today in prayer and thank Him for the privileges you have as His child.  He is accessible in prayer, has saved you for eternity, has a home waiting for you in heaven, will be with you each day- will never leave you nor forsake you, His Holy Spirit indwells and bears witness to your spirit that you are His, He gives you power for living and a purpose for your life…..Thank you Jesus for making this possible for me. Amen.

How to Live Towards Blessings

In Isaiah 56:1-2 the Lord reveals that blessings come from doing what is right, supporting justice, looking forward to God’s salvation, keeping the Sabbath and staying away from doing evil.  God promises that living a life based in His righteousness leads to blessings.

This is what the Lord says,
“Maintain justice and do righteousness,
For My salvation is soon to come,
And My righteousness and justice is soon to be revealed.
“Blessed (happy, fortunate) is the man who does this,
And the son of man who takes hold of it,
Who keeps the Sabbath without profaning it,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”  Isaiah 56:1-2 (AMP)   

Blessings are gifts of divine favor that bring happiness into our lives.  Living our lives with a desire to do what is right is a gift from God.  Seeking His righteousness that He reveled through Jesus will help us walk with Him each day and bring blessing.  I love the way God tells us to take hold, grab onto this lifestyle so we can receive His blessings and favor to the fullest.  Keeping the Sabbath, a day devoted to worship, family, praise and one that is a respite from our days of working that life requires, will bring blessing.  We must really strive to live apart from the world and its ways that are based in greed and self-fulfillment.    I like the description James gives us in 1:26-27 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”   Watching what we say is of upmost importance, doing good for others and keeping ourselves unstained by the world’s standards and acts is what God is looking for in our lives and in our hearts as we seek to show love and devotion to Him.

today“Blessed (happy, fortunate) is the man who does this, is the goal God has set before us.  Knowing that a life lived for God is based on His righteousness and reflects His justice, love, mercy, compassion and hope for the world around us. Look for His blessings as you walk with Him today.  He is forever faithful and will do as He promises.

Linda

 

Good News Then and Now!

The  librettist, Charles Jennens, of Handel’s Messiah put these two prophecy’s of HOPE together.  Both of them tell of the good news of Christ’s coming.   It is seen as prophecy applying to their return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, Christ’s first coming as a babe in the manger to save us from our sins and can be applied to Christ’s second coming where He will return as victor and judge.   All were good news of God’s care and plan to save mankind.

Isaiah 40:9 “Go on up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
    Isaiah-60.1O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
    lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Behold your God!”

Isaiah 60:1  Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Just reading the words of Isaiah 40:9 makes me want to shout the good news of salvation in Jesus from the mountain tops!  The assurance of Isaiah 60:1 is profound- your light has come!  I am so thankful that Jesus came because He loved me and you.  Think back to 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”   Ponder anew the amazing provisions of our God both then, now and in the future.

Golden Bible verse John 3 16 , made hand lettering on watercolor heart.Blessings,

Linda

 

Journey through Advent with the ‘Messiah’

Psalm 22In Psalm 22 David wrote words that described the coming Messiah’s work and anguish while here on earth.  When he took the sins of the world upon himself Jesus cried out in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, so far for the words of my groaning?” (verse 1)   The Psalmist describes Jesus’ conditions on the cross, “they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (16b) “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (18)  These visions of Messiah and what awaited him were given to David.  By reading them, we can see proof that Jesus fulfilled each and every prophecy made about him and be assured that He is from God.  We catch a glimpse into the Omniscience and Sovereignty of God.

HandelMessiahThis advent season I will be blogging each day using prophecies about Messiah and His coming as highlighted in Handel’s Messiah.  He turned the words of Charles Jennens, his librettist, who created the story from Old and New Testament passages into glorious song.  Handel wrote the Messiah in about 3 weeks in the late summer of 1741.  His divine inspiration has humbled and inspired audiences ever since.  Recently, I got a copy of a handbill that is given out when one attends the Messiah.  It contains all the scriptures that the ‘story’ is based upon and their references.  Each time someone attends a performance of the Messiah, they are presented with these scriptures in both writing and song.  Praise God!  He has used Handel and his work ‘The Messiah’ to tell his story to the world since 1741 in this unique way.

Join me in a journey this Advent Season through the ‘Messiah’ to catch a glimpse of our Savior and His mighty works.

Excited about the journey,

Linda

Why Transform our hearts?

God is very intentional in His transformation of our hearts.  I would say there is no wasted efforts or motions in God’s plans.  Unlike man, God is omniscient and knows the beginning and the end.  He knows where we are going and how to get us where He wants us to be.  Here are a couple of verses that point to God’s intent or purpose in transforming our hearts.

psalm 90 12Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days  that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Jeremiah 32:40 “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.”

God wants us to realize that we are accountable to Him and use our time here on earth wisely.  He desires we affect others with our lives and show His goodness and glory in what we say and do.    In the Jeremiah passage God tells us what He will do for believers.  We have an everlasting covenant of salvation in Jesus, He promises to not turn from us- He is completely faithful, He desires good for us and will do it and He wants us to love and follow Him.  God wants us to spend eternity with Him and the only way that is possible is if we wisely turn to Him, accept His salvation in Jesus and have a make-over of our heart’s desires.  A transformed heart is essential for the Christian believer and something God does with intentionality.   Look back at the ways He transforms our heart… with joy and praise, love and faith, commitment, purity, kindness, compassion and forgiveness, devotion and obedience.  His way brings results and fills our hearts with His heavenly treasures.

Jer 32 40Let’s make this a day of Thanksgiving to God for His grace and mercy.  Thanking Him that for transforming us so we can live lives of purpose and bear fruit for His kingdom.

Linda

Going astray-our struggle, seeking the lost-God’s eternal position

As the psalmist reaches the end of the alphabet (taw), he reflects on the power of God and pleads for understanding and deliverance.  169 “Let my cry come before you, O Lord give me understanding according to your word!  170 Let my plea come before you;  deliver me according to your word.”   Next, he speaks of how he worships God both privately and publicly. 171 “My lips will pour forth praise,  for you teach me your statutes. 172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.”  He knows for certain that God will be with him and is always ready to deliver him.  He knows God is true to His Word and he depends upon it.  173 “‘Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.  174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,  and your law is my delight.  175 Let my soul live and praise you,  and let your rules help me.”  Lastly, he ends this great psalm with a true confession.  He admits that he has wandered away from God’s truths and he implores God to continue to seek him and remind him of His ways.  176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,  for I do not forget your commandments.”

sinThe apostle Paul speaks of ‘going astray’ as the constant struggle he has with sin and not doing what God wants him to do.  In Romans 7:15-20 Paul lays his heart bear and shares his personal struggle with sin just like the psalmist has been doing in Psalm 119.  As you read these verses, see if you too can identify with Paul and the psalmist.  For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

In addition to his struggle with ‘going astray’  the psalmist feels like a lost sheep, wandering away from the Lord.  Jesus told God’s view of lost sheep in his parable of the lost sheep that is found in both Matthew and Luke.  He knew God is the good shepherd who seeks and finds the lost believers.  So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-lost sheepnine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  Luke 15:3-7   When the psalmist begs God to seek and find him, we know that is exactly what God can and will do for each of us.  God will faithfully find those who are open to Him and are seeking to know Him.  Jesus saves those who are lost.

As you reflect and meditate on this last portion of Psalm 119, do you identify with the psalmist and Paul on the struggle to walk daily with the Lord and follow His pathway?  Are you confident that God continually seeks you because you are precious to Him?  

faithful God“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”  Hebrews 10:23

Linda

 

Knowing Faithful God = Assurance +

In verses 89-96 of Psalm 119, the psalmist proclaims God’s faithfulness to each generation, to the earth He created and to me-the individual.  His Word is eternal. If you understand the Word of God to be what God says to us in the Bible, you know the truths contained within it are eternally true.  God does not lie and He will be forever faithful to uphold His Word.  If you take the Word of God to mean Jesus, as in John it say 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” then you know the living Word of God who is eternally with us and always faithful.

psalm 119 90God is faithful to each generation and to the earth He created.  vs 89-90   Forever, O LordYour word is settled in heaven [standing firm and unchangeable].    Your faithfulness continues from generation to generation;
You have established the earth, and it stands [securely].              They continue this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things [all parts of the universe] are Your servants.  AMP

God is faithful to me vs 92-94                                                                                                            If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my time of trouble.
I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me and given me life.
I am Yours, save me [as Your own];
For I have [diligently] sought Your precepts and required them [as my greatest need].

The psalmist arrives at his conclusion, the only one he feels he can make in light of all the evidence in the world and in his own life.   verse 96                                                                 I have seen that all [human] perfection has its limits [no matter how grand and perfect and noble];
Your commandment is exceedingly broad and extends without limits [into eternity].

What is your conclusion about God and His faithfulness at this time in your life?  Do you see His mercies new each morning (Lamentation 3:21-23)?  Do you cling to the hope yo have in Jesus (Hebrews 10:23)?  Do you know you are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)?  Do you believe God is good and has good things planned for you (Jeremiah 29:11)?   Do you have peace and rest in Jesus (John 14:27)?  Look into His Word and claim His Word over your life, take His Word into your very being and you will undoubtedly come to the same conclusion the psalmist did.  There is no limit to how grand and glorious God is and His Word stands now and for all eternity.

note-to-self-may-24thStanding on God’s Word is firm ground.

Linda