Relying on the Character of God

Today’s favorite verses come from my friend Aifen. She has chosen Isaiah 55: 8-9. So that we get the context around those verses I have included the entire stanza. They are verses that show the power and majesty of our God.

Isaiah 55:6-9 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah first tells his listeners to seek to find God and call upon Him. He implores the listener to do it sooner than later. Don’t wait until you are lost or overcome by the ways of the world. Turn to God and seek His compassion and love. Know assuredly that He will forgive you and provided for you with care. How can we know this is true? Because, God is not like us. He is not entangled with a sin nature that seeks to rebel and serve for self gain. God is not human but Spirit and Truth. God assures us that His thoughts and ways are truly higher than any man could ever have. His are lofty, heavenly and not bound to this earth.

God’s Character

How does this encourage you? I am comforted that God is not like me. He is not bound to earthly ways, thoughts, motivations, competitions, materialism, greed, selfishness, etc. His character is pure, true, holy, kind, loving, compassionate, filled with mercy and love. Each of His character traits are perfect as He is perfect. We cannot fully understand God and His ways as He is so far above us in character and intellect. Yet, we can know is that He is just and faithful. Looking into scripture tells us about God and shows us who He is and what He can and will do. He does not sin and cannot be controlled by anyone or anything. God will pardon sinners abundantly. He is Sovereign and Almighty God.

I know my friend Aifen takes great strength from knowing that she loves and worships the Almighty Creator who is Sovereign over all things, thoughts and ways! Be encouraged as nothing will ever happen in your life that catches God unaware. He knows and can be with you. Deuteronomy 36:3  “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.” Be of good courage!

As you reread these verses, seek to catch a glimpse of Almighty God and His power.

Linda

You can Trust God, can’t you?

Today’s verse is a favorite of my friend Rosa. We have shared times in God’s Word, and I know this verse is one that uplifts and sustains her as she seeks to live for Jesus. Let the words seep deep into your soul today as you meditate and pray upon them.

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

This psalm was penned by David when he was struggling with his world. He was in exile for 14 years as he fled Saul. Samuel had anointed David king at God’s direction, but Saul was still in power.(1 Samuel 16:1) David did not seek to kill Saul, even though he had opportunities, as he knew Saul was God’s appointed king and it was not his ‘job’ to remove him. (1 Samuel 24:7-8, 1 Samuel 26:7,12) David knew God would take care of the timing and the people. Knowing these things did not lessen David’s struggle and caused him to cling to God and depend upon Him even more closely. David acknowledges the Lord is his guiding light, his hope and redeemer. He knows God can and will save Him just as He promised. He realizes in his mind that whatever the world has to ‘throw’ at him can be overcome by God. He knows there is nothing, no one and no circumstances that are greater than God- hence, He has nothing to fear!

One of the translations I read used the word fortress for stronghold in the second stanza. This brings to mind a redeemer that will defend, protect and care for us. David knew that God was taking care of him, defending him against his enemies and protecting his family, possessions and his own life. God had a plan for David and was going to see that it was completed.

What part of Rosa’s verse do you need today? Do you need reassurance of God’s guidance, hope and salvation? Are you readily depending upon God for your protection, care and defense? Saying you do and actually doing so is often difficult. There are so many things/people that can get in the way and cause you to doubt God’s loving protection. If you have time, read the remained of the psalm and see where David had doubts creep mind in to his mind. (text is below) What David did though was voice his fears to the Lord in this psalm in prayer. He gave them to God and claim His promises. David ends the Psalm in verses 13-14 with these words with reassurance and hope:

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

May you be confident of the Lord today and seek to wait patiently for Him. May you talk your fears over with God and receive His reassurance and hope. May you claim His promise to guide, uphold, defend, protect, care and redeem you.

Linda

Psalm 27: 1-14 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

June 5 Pentecost, a time to answer your 5 W’s too!

Our journey from the cross to Pentecost is finally over. Pentecost: Who was there?  Scripture tells us in Acts chapters 1 and 2 that the disciples and many other Jews from every nation were gathered together.

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What happened?  The arrival of the promised gift from the Father, power from heaven that would empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When did it happen?  Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover.  It was called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. It was 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.

Where did it happen?  Jesus told them to go and wait for the helper that would come.  They returned to Jerusalem after Jesus’ Ascension just as He commanded.

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Acts 2:2-4 describes to us vividly the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”    Peter stood and preached to the gathered crowd and told them that this outpouring from heaven was from God.  He quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel in Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”   The arrival of the Holy Spirit was dramatic: tongues of fire, a noisy strong wind and filled with many languages.  It was a surprise arrival yet it had been expected.  Jesus told them to go and wait, so they knew someone was coming as gift from the Father.  In John 15:15-17, 25-26,  Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit would come.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.   And all this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   Also in Luke 24:48-49 Jesus told them of the coming power and place,  “You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 

Why was this necessary?  When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  This Spirit that arrived on tongues of fire and with a great sound lives within me permanently.  He empowers me to live a godly life and to speak to others about Jesus and His salvation.  1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is great than the one who is in the world.”   Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. ”     2 Corinthians 1:21-22  “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”    

How do you answer your own 5 W’s about the Holy Spirit?  Who is the Holy Spirit to you?  What are you allowing God to do with this Holy Spirit that lives within you?  Where are you walking in obedience and listening to His Word?  When are you  stepping out in faith to tell others about Jesus?    Why is the Holy Spirit necessary in your life?  Jesus wanted the disciples, and us too, to use the power the Father sent to do the work of telling others and living for Him.  Will you begin today by allowing God’s Holy Spirit living within you to lead you to live for Him in a mighty way that will bring Him honor and glory?

Praising Him this Pentecost Sunday,

Linda

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