Growing in Him, Planning & Following

Our last ‘put upon’ scripture for this Lenten season is meaningful as it teaches an attitude and practice that God desires of all committed believers. Paul is instructing the Corinthian Christians about the collection of offerings for the suffering Christians in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Christians were under extreme persecution at this time and believers throughout Asia minor were concerned and seeking to aid them in their time of need and distress. Paul was planning to go and take the offerings if he could, if not then he assured them that some other brothers would take their offerings to these suffering Christians.

1 Corinthians 16:1-5 “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

What lesson was Paul teaching in his request for them to set aside a portion each week for these needy people? I am calling it planned generosity. Many of us can be generous on the spur of the moment, carried by emotion or emotional pleas but this was to be planned. They needed to learn to set aside a portion for God’s use each week. Since many of the people of Macedonia were poor, they needed to plan and set aside a little bit at a time and then amazingly they would have a lot to give. This relies on God’s faithfulness to provide and our faithfulness to be obedient and set monies aside.

I had not thought of planning for generosity, but I’ve done it. When you decide to set aside money to pay for a camp scholarship to be used in the future, when you know there will be a Pastor Appreciation month coming in October or the love gift at Christmas. In the case of the Corinthians, it was giving that was over and above their regular giving and needed to be planned for. Give this some thought. Next time you have a bonus or some unexpected monies, ask God what you should do with it and set it aside. You don’t have to give it right then as perhaps God has something else in mind for those funds. Set it aside as Paul instructs and wait for the project or time God wants you to give it. You will be blessed by the planning and blessed by the listening and following God’s direction.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can depend upon God to direct my giving and allow Him to grow my obedience and faithfulness.

As we have seen throughout this Lenten season, God wants to grow and mold us into who He sees we can be in Him.

Linda

Is Your Worry Greater than Your Trust in God?

Today’s scriptures from Luke 12:22-25 are ones we are all familiar with but the previous verse in Luke 12:15 shows the cause for Christ’s concern. “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Christ was talking to the disciples about worrying about accumulating wealth and the tendency towards being consumed by greed and desire for worldly things over heavenly treasures. Luke 12: 22-25 is where Jesus tells us to not be overly concerned about what we ‘put on’ physically as that kind of worry is futile.  Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

Jesus’ point is clear, worry about worldly things and needs will consume us if we let them. Will doing all that worry add any time to our lives? No, in fact the stress may make us literally sick with worry. Not that we are not to be mindful of our needs, but the worry of it should not consume us. Jesus’ reasoning is that God takes care of the birds of the air and sees to their needs and He loves us so much more. How do I know this? Because God sent His only Son to die for our sins to restore us into right relationship with Him. John 3:16 tells us how much He loves us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus wants us to live a life of trust, walking with Him, not one that is consumed with worry or seeking material possessions needlessly. With our old nature, it is always tempting to let greed overtake reason. Jesus knows this so He points us to a walk of faith and trust in Him.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life free from worry and grounded in His love and care. Time spent worrying is time spent not trusting God. May your day be worry free as you trust in His faithfulness and abundant provision.

Linda

4th Sunday of Lent, 2022

Our verses for today from Psalm 139: 17-18, reflect the psalmist love for God. He also grasps the immenseness of who God is, His vastness and power. Meditate on these 2 verses as you begin your day.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

The psalmist knows that the knowledge of God, who He and and what He does, is beyond his imagining. God is immense and unending. He knows there is no way to put God in a box and count the number of things He could do. He is amazed and grateful that God thinks about and cares for him. He knows that God is with him 24/7. When he awakes assured that God is still with him. Praise God for His faithfulness.

Do you know this about God? Is He real as you try to grasp his eternal nature and omniscience? Like the psalmist, I seek to know God and try not to define or limit Him by my human finite standards. God is so much more. I am humbled by the fact that God loves and thinks about me. He alone knows what I need to pursue the work He has designed for me. May you catch a new glimpse of God and His love and care for you today.

Blessings this 4th Sunday of Lent as you seek to know and worship Him.

Linda

Blessings this 2nd Sunday of Lent, 2022

Our scripture for today comes from Psalm 139:7-12. The first Sunday of Lent we looked at verses 1-6 and saw that God knows me and lovingly cares about me. Today the psalmist exclaims that God is everywhere; He surrounds us. There is nowhere we can go to ‘get away’ from God. If you are running from God, like Jonah did, you will soon realize that you can’t out run God. He will find you and seek you out. If you know God, it is a comfort to know that He is always near and there is no where you can go on earth or in heaven where He will not be! Praise God! He is omniscient and omnipresent in all things and in all ways.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning

    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

May you be comforted by the loving presence of God in your life today.

Linda

About to give up? Look to God’s Word-He has the Answers You need.

How do you use God’s Word to support your everyday life? Do you have special verses that have helped you though different types of crisis? My friend Elizabeth from Iowa has a collection of verses that she can call upon for support. I will meditate and write on her choices in two blogs- this one and the next.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

Elizabeth is a young mom who seeks to be a godly wife and mother. These verses in Proverbs give hope and assurance that placing her trust in God is the right thing to do. Acknowledging His ways and not ours, listening to His Word and not the world’s babble, and diligently seeking His will for her life will keep her on God’s desired pathway. I love the reminder to not try to do things ourselves in our own power and in our own way. Living a godly life does not happen by accident but takes persistent focus upon the things of God and a daily walk with Jesus. He knows the pathways of our lives. I am reminded of Psalm 16:6 “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” We can trust Him for the direction and claim His promise of pleasant places now and in the future wherever they may be.

Elizabeth has another verse for when times get wearisome and hard from Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” How many times have I wanted to give up and stop helping, providing, caring, etc. This verse reminds me that God desires daily persistence in my walk with Him. He wants to grow and develop my spiritual muscles so that I can better serve Him and those around me. This verse helps me to regain my focus and know God has a purpose and a plan for all that we do in His name. I am reminded of Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” At the end of the day, when I’m tired and want to give up He desires that I do all that I can and then stand firm. That is faithful persistence in Jesus.

The last highlighted verse of Elizabeth’s today is 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.

These are wonderful verses filled with hope and assurance. When we get discouraged all I have to do is think back and remember who God is. He will bring HOPE as I mediate on his character and remember what He has done for me in my life: salvation assured, eternal life, being with me 24/7, indwelling me with His Holy Spirit, giving me a future, having plans for my life and showing me how to live for Him just to name a few. I know that God is loving and merciful and I can trust in his great faithfulness. Each day brings hope and renewed mercies. When you are about to give up on things- this verse along with Galatians 6:9 will help to ground you in His love and faithfulness. These verses from Lamentations are ones I frequently blog on at the beginning of the New Year. They are a reminder of the newness of Hope found in God. Each day we choose to walk with Jesus is a new day with our merciful, loving God.

Where do you need hope and strength today? These verses from Proverbs, Galatians and Lamentations are filled with direction and hope. They promise guidance from our heavenly Father and show us that God desires we be persistent in faith. Draw them into your thoughts and meditate upon these hope-filled truths for living from God’s Word.

Linda


Advent…a journey of Delivery and Unending Joy!

My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men or aged Anna and Simon yet, but the Mary, Joseph and Jesus did not meet them until after his birth. Anna and Simon were encountered in the temple when Jesus was circumsized after 8 days as was their custom. The wise men saw the star when Jesus was born and followed it, arriving about 2 years after his birth. The gifts they brought provided monies for Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they had to flee in the night to Egypt to avoid Herod’s executioners. I’ll continue with their part in the story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.

This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin- Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.

Linda

Advent…A Time of Reflective Praise

After being mute for 9 months because he questioned God’s ability to create a child through he and Elizabeth, Zechariah let’s his praises pour forth in a song of praise and prophecy about the Messiah to come and his own new born son. Luke 1:67-75 is today’s portion of this song. I have interrupted Zechariah’s song with verses from the Old and New Testament that speak of his prophecy being true.

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
Jesus came to redeem and save us. Romans 10:9-10 assures us of this. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
Jesus was repeatedly called the Son of David. The blind beggar called him Son of David and was healed, “They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” 42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” Luke 18:37-43

70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
Paul proclaimed Jesus was the long awaited Messiah in Acts 13:23 “And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel!

71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:9-10 how Jesus saves us “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

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.
Genesis 17:1-10 describes God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God reminds him repeatedly in Genesis 18:18, 22:18 and 26:4 that all nations will be blessed through him.

7We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
Jesus call us to serve and follow Him in John 12:26 “ Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”

75 in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16-17 how we are to live. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

May the prophesies of Zechariah’s song reassure you that God has a plan, God is sovereign and God desires good things for us through faith in Jesus. May you too raise your voice in praise for all God has done for you.

Linda

Advent…An Unexpected Answer

Our Advent journey continues with Mary’s answer from the heavenly angel. He had surprised her, soothed her fears and told her she would give birth to a son whom she would name Jesus. She asked the angel how this was even possible as she was a virgin and had known no man. Here is the angel’s unexpected answer from Luke 1:35-38.

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Talk about a miracle birth! Wow! Imagine Mary’s surprise at those words, “the Holy Spirit of God will come upon you.” She was to bear the Son of God. In her wildest dreams she would not have conceived the idea that she could bear the Messiah. It was the impossible. It was the unthinkable! But God, said it would be so and she knew that would it would be true because God keeps His promises. She knew how God had kept his promises to her people by bringing them out of Egypt, giving them the land of Israel, bringing them back from Babylon and keeping them for generation to generation as a people who called Him Lord. If she was doubting at all, the angel added in the fact of Elizabeth’s pregnancy which would be considered a miracle at her age and something only God could make happen. His final words brought hope to Mary and definitely to me, “with God nothing is impossible.”

What was Mary’s response to the unexpected news? Mary answered in faith. She did not question the angel but accepted his miraculous news by faith, trusting God to work out the details. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” What would you have said? Do you have that kind of trusting faith in God and His plans for your life? Perhaps Mary recalled Jeremiah 29:11 and claimed it for just a time as this, “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.” She trusted her future to the Lord and looked forward with expectation knowing He was going to do great things for her good and His glory. Can you have that same attitude this Advent season? Can you look forward to the way God can and will use you to bless others and show His love? Claim Jeremiah 29:11 in your own life and look expectantly for the ways God will use you for your good and His glory each day.

Linda

Faithful God is There for me!

This final day before Thanksgiving, let us consider Psalm 91:9-16. The reason God protects us spiritually is because He loves us and we recognize Him. We claim Him and He claims us. Since we are not perfect we can cling to 2 Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” It is in God’s character to be faithful always. Let these words of promise sink in to your soul and give you more reasons to be thankful today.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

1For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I have underlined our part in this- faith in Almighty God, holding fast to His love and calling or asking Him for help. The rest thankfully is all God’s part: being a refuge, protecting me with His angels, allowing nothing or no one to take our salvation away (John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”), rescuing me from trouble, long life and salvation (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”.) These are things only Almighty God can provide for you and me. Let them be added to your thanksgiving list today!

Linda

Need Strength? Make God Personal

As I continue this Thanksgiving week looking at reasons for praising God and giving thanks, I came to Psalm 91. It has long been a favorite of mine and is known to be a favorite among soldiers. Why is that you might ask? Are you frightened today about the future or events in your life? Are you struggling and despairing over people or things? Soldiers facing battle struggle with all of these, and yet the words of this psalm sooth and comfort them. May you too find comfort and be able to give thanks to God who is sovereign and All-Sufficient. Psalm 91:1-4

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

My friend Bob who lived at the Veteran’s Home in Yountville, CA used to recite this psalm. He told me he used to put his name in verse 2 as he personalized and claimed God’s truth of love and protection over himself and his bombing crew as they flew missions in WWII. “I, Bob, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I, Bob, trust.” He would do the same with Psalm 23. “The Lord is Bob’s shepherd I will not want…”

Do you find scripture personal? Bob believed in God’s Word and the power of the truths God placed there for our benefit. Can you claim the truth of verses 1 and 2- that God is your refuge and fortress and you can trust in Him in all situations? What about verses 3 and 4? Do you believe that God is greater than any foe or force you will face? Does He faithfully cover you and enfold you in His love and care?

I pray this Thanksgiving, as you reflect on God’s goodness and care, that you can see God’s hand in your life protecting and leading. That you feel his loving arms surrounding you and giving you strength. May God’s faithfulness and love speak to you in a new way this holiday creating in you greater gratitude for God.

Linda