A Walk of Faith

And the journey continues….Hebrews. The book of Hebrews was a letter intended for Jewish Christians who were very familiar with the Old Testament. The first century Jewish converts faced many challenges as they sought to establish themselves apart from Judaism and stand firmly with Christ as Messiah. The letter presents Christ as supreme and sufficient in all, and the revealer of God’s grace. It can be a difficult book to understand, and yet holds such beautiful promises that are clear and strengthening. It was at first thought this letter was written by Paul but the authorship is unknown. My favorite chapter is Chapter 11 which focuses on faith in Christ and its benefits.

Hebrews 11:1,6 focuses on faith. ” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I love the simplicity of these verses as they truly ‘hit the nail on the head’ in regard to what faith is and why it is totally necessary. The author’s first example of faith is Enoch. Here was a man of faith that pleased God so much that he was taken directly to heaven! The author then goes into more examples of faith for us to follow and tells us of Noah who built an ark to save his family when he was warned about things he had never seen. In the time of Noah it had never rained, as scripture tells us the mist came up from the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6) He had no concept of rain and floods, yet he built the ark as God commanded by faith thereby saving himself and all his family. Abraham was called to leave his home and go to a place he had never seen. He did and was greatly blessed with descendants and land beyond measure. Sarah who was Abraham’s childless wife conceived a child in her old age and believed God that it would come to pass. The author continues with examples from Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Moses was born Jewish, saved from death by God’s hand through Pharaoh’s daughter from the Nile. He was raised to privilege then called reluctantly after running from events in Egypt. He was in the desert for 40 years before being called to lead the people out of Egypt by God’s command at the age of 80! He trusted God to provide and experienced the plagues and hurried escape after the Passover of the angel of death. God then led them through the Red Sea in victory. The author then points to the walls of Jericho falling when they faithfully followed God’s leading. Rahab’s rescue of the spies and others like Gideon, David and countless events that showed the faithfulness of God to His people. God commended the people for their faith just as He loves and desires our faithfulness. I find great strength and encouragement from reading about the faith of these ‘heroes’. I know they were mortal and weak individuals just like me who overcame, persevered and were victorious through God’s hand in their lives because of their faith. It encourages me to be faithful knowing He will always be faithful to me and rewards those who seek Him.

There are a couple of other portions in Hebrews that I want to mention. Hebrews 4:12-13 speaks of the power of God’s Word and extols the omniscience of our God. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:14-16 speaks of Christ as our high priest and gives such hope to every believer that God will be gracious towards us. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 7:25 points to the sufficiency of Christ to save completely and how He continues to intercede for us even now in heaven. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” That is encouraging and so reassuring!!

Hebrews 10:10 speaks of the total sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross. “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Praise God!

Hebrews 10:22-23 are some of my favorite verses as they encourage us to draw near to God and hold onto our faith in Him.  Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Lastly, Hebrews 13:8 reminds me that Christ is immutable and a reliable foundation for my faith.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

May the truths of faith penetrate into your heart and soul today and may you know of His rewards of faith personally as you walk trusting Him.

Linda

Dissensions caused by Boasting, Try Boasting in God!

There are people that love to argue. They will take the opposing view to stimulate discussion, rile up their opponents, stir up descent, cause a ruckus or feed their own egos. There is certainly a time and place for healthy debate and exchange of thoughts, but that is not what Paul is speaking of in our Stream of Water passage this week. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 relates to people stirring up trouble in the church through arguments about who is following whom? They were wrongfully trying to take pride in who they were following, claiming one was better than another. Paul rejects this and pleads for unity. He is telling them they have lost the right focus- which is following Christ, their savior.

Do where do you see this in the church today? Are people prone to boasting about their pastor and extoling his virtues? It is one thing to tell others of your godly Pastor and encourage them to listen to his teaching from the Word and another to brag that your Pastor is better than others and has a monopoly on the truth. Paul is saying that all this does is create disunity and division among believers.

A better way? Yes, Paul pleads for unity. Later in 1 Corinthians 1:31 “so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” and 2 Corinthians 10:17 he tells them, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Let us follow that advise and take up the practice of boasting in the Lord. Can you praise Him today for: provision He has provided, protection in a dangerous or precarious situation, hope you received from another brother or sister in Christ or His Word, love you experienced, help you received by His grace and mercy, guidance about a problem or direction or knowledge of Him you received through prayer or study? Let us boast to one another about the Lord and be encouraged in our faith!

Here is my boasting for this week. Last week when our ladies met for bible study, we were sharing prayer requests. One gal asked for prayer for her daughter as she was refinancing her home asked that all go smoothly. I did not realize that interest rates had fallen that much. So that evening after group, I began pursuing this. I learned that mobile homes, which are limited in financing, usually did not quality. God led me to call the man who arranged my loan a year ago when I purchased my home. He said that loans were available if all criteria were met to refinance my home at 1% lower. This week I was approved and am now gathering my papers. Praise God for His provision and intervention in my finances. Thank you Jesus!

Let us share our boasting about God to uplift and encourage one another creating unity for all believers.

Linda

Full text for this week: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

“Masterpieces” by God

ephesians 2 8I love today’s verses in Ephesians 2:8-10.   They bring renewed hope, purpose and clarification from God showing His great love, generosity, planning and sovereignty.  I particularly like the New Living Translation as it brings added clarity to the passage.      “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For ephesians 2 10we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

What hope we have because we believe in Jesus!  We are assured that we don’t have to try and ‘earn’ our way into heaven.  God promises us that there is nothing we can do now or in the future to earn our salvation.  It is purely a gift from our gracious God.  God loves us and we are important to Him.  We are His masterpieces.  He loves us and has prepared good works for us to do in His name.  There are many scriptures that confirm these facts:

John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”   His grace is perfectly complete, giving us all we need.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Salvation is a free gift, not earned.

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.   Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”   God specifically created each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   God’s plans are complete and for my good, I can place my hope in them.

James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?   As a believer, genuine faith will cause me to seek to do good works for Jesus.

We can cling to these verses from our loving and gracious God knowing we are here with a purpose by His design.  We can trust His sovereignty in all things.   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Have a blessed day as you prayerfully considerGod’s grace towards you, His sovereignty over your life and the good works He has lovingly prepared for you.

Linda

Lenten Sunday #1

As you reflect today and prepare for another week, here are some truths we’ve uncovered so far in Ephesians.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be His saint and faithfully, walk in His grace and experiencing His peace. Ephesians 1:1-2

I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3

I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Ephesians 1:4-6, 7-10

I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.   Ephesians 1:13-14

Praise God for His grace and goodness today knowing you are loved and that God Almighty has a plan for you that is perfected in Christ and guaranteed by His Holy Spirit.

Psalm 103 1 5 BlessTheLordLet Psalm 103:1-5 be on your lips today!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Linda

#9 Practicing Devotion to God- by relying upon His Grace

 What is Grace? It is defined as God’s unmerited favor towards us.   We did nothing and can do nothing to deserve His favor.  It is something that God gives us freely by faith in Jesus from the depth of His love for us.  Scripture teaches us that God’s grace is always sufficient and because God is omnipotent He will never run out of grace.  2Corinthians 12-92 Corinthians 12:9  is one of my go to verses for power, strength and assurance about God’s grace.  Paul recalls the words of Christ to him,  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”    God graciously gives us what we need in our weakness and brings glory to Himself by showing His power in our lives.   I cling to the sufficiency of His grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”   We are saved by grace_alone_770x280His grace, certainly not by anything we have done or will do.  We cannot be good enough, clean enough or pure enough on our own. Salvation is a gracious gift of God given to us through our faith in Jesus.  He saves us by grace and graciously uses us to do  His good works.  He could do everything himself,  but He graciously allows us to participate for our good and His glory.

Hebrews 4:16 adds one other dimension to His grace towards us.   Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   Because of our faith in Jesus, our high priest, and His work on the cross, we have access to God and can approach Him in prayer.  When we do, we are assured that we will find grace and mercy in our times of need.  There is never a time that God is not with me and I can always know that He will meet my needs with grace and mercy.  What a blessed hope!

GodsGraceMay you grow to trust in His grace, lean into and depend upon His grace and let His grace give you Hope as you draw near to Him with a heart of love and devotion.

Linda

I pray you have been blessed as  much as I have by going through these 9 practical ways to show our loyalty and devotion to God.  We can practice devotion to God by:  recalling His attributes, remembering His good works towards us, relating to Him in prayer, reading and meditating on His Word, resting in our identity in Christ,  repenting regularly, responding to the world biblically, remembering our Savior and relying upon His grace.  May you remember to incorporate these into your life on a daily basis and receive His blessings!

2020 A New Year, A New Decade- How will you survive?

2020 Happy New YearYesterday I was in the look back mode,  but today January 1, 2020 I am looking forward.  Each year I have a habit of choosing a word to guide my year.  Last year God gave me the word Trust and Wow! did I see that word week after week.  I learned to lean upon God and trust Him in new, painful, scary and exciting situations.  It was amazing how Trust kept coming up again and again, reminding me of who I am and where my Trust needs to be placed.

This year God has given me the word Hope.  I have always loved writing and talking about the hope I have in Christ, but I feel His Hope will reach into all corners of my life.   So I thought it wise to spend a few weeks looking into HOPE and seeing how hope is described in God’s Word.  The verse I found to start with is Psalm 71:14 as it seemed to capture the hope I feel right now as I begin this new year.But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.”  Psalm 71 was written by King David in his old age.  He reflects upon God, his dependence upon Him and God’s continuing faithfulness.  David resolves to continue praising God just as he has done since his youth. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”  Psalm 71:5

May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
    with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
    who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.  Psalm 71:13-15

David knows the ‘world’ will come against him, yet he knows God will deal with them.  He has his hope placed in God and will praise Him.  No matter what as he knows God is sovereign and in control of all things, people, and places.  He vows to continue to proclaim what God has done for him.

psalm-71-14-quote-lgThis is a challenge as we face a New Year.  We know for certain that things will come against us-as they always do.  What we know, like David, is that God is faithful and will stand with us.  We need to trust in His sovereignty and mercy and cling to Him in HOPE.  That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020?  I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful.  He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.

Looking forward to 2020 with HOPE,

Linda