Amazing Reasons for Thanking God

As we continue in this Thanksgiving week, let us turn our thanks completely to God. He is the source of all good things as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 103: 8 10-13.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

The reasons for thanking God listed here by the psalmist are amazing:

**God is merciful, gracious, abounding in love that never changes. (8)

**God will not deal with us according to what our sinfulness deserves but will treat us with grace and mercy! Thank you Jesus. (10)

**God loves me as a believer in Him with an amazing love. (11)

**God removes my sin out of sight where it cannot be found. (12)

**As a believer in Him, He treats me with compassion as a child of His, as my Father. (13)

Which of these reasons resonate with you today? Are you grateful for your sins being forgiven and totally removed, for His grace and mercy that you do not deserve, for His amazing and boundless love, or that you are a child of your heavenly Father? All of these are amazing and given freely through faith in Jesus the Son. Claim them today and let your praises raise up to Him as a sweet aroma of love and thankfulness.

Linda

Giving Thanks Wholeheartedly

In Psalm 138 David repeatedly expresses his thanks to God. He gives good reasons for his attitude of gratitude.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;
    I will sing your praises before the gods.
I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
    I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
    by all the honor of your name.

As soon as I pray, you answer me;
    you encourage me by giving me strength.

In these first 3 verses, David proclaims his thanks to God with his whole heart and being. David is ‘all in’ for God. What things receive your total commitment and wholehearted love? Are you ‘all in’ for God or do you hold back? David saw that the Lord listened to his prayers and acted on his behalf. He gave him strength and encouragement. David knew in his heart that God stood behind all of His promises. God loved him with an unfailing love. David knew love in his life but saw the fleetingness and fickleness of the men and women around him. By comparison, David knew that God would always love him and be with him. He had learned at an early age while tending his father’s sheep, when confronting a gigantic enemy in Goliath and fleeing from Saul for 14 years as he awaited being made king of God’s faithfulness. He knew that God alone was the one who always stood with him and went before and behind to keep him safe.

How about you? Has God been with you 24/7 and gone before and behind you? Do you see His faithfulness day by day? If you do, then be ‘all in’ like David and love God wholeheartedly. Your wholehearted love for God and His wholehearted love for you is cause for great thanks and praise!

Linda

Thankfulness = the Truth of God’s Love

What attribute of God am I most thankful for? When I pondered this question, the first thing that came to mind was God’s love for me. He loved me so much He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for my sins so that I could be brought into a relationship with him through faith in Christ. John 3:16 says it so well. ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God wants me to be with Him for eternity and be freed from the power and presence of sin. What an amazing gift we have in His love! Thoughts of God’s love lead me to think about the perfection and purity of His love. In our world we don’t know love that is not motivated by some selfish desire. It is part of our world and our nature no matter how hard we try. God is pure love. His love is not short lived but longsuffering and eternal in nature. His love is steadfast and we can always count on it. Multiple scriptures express the truth that God’s love is steadfast, everlasting, eternal and forever. Here are a few:

1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Psalm 136:1-26 repeatedly says, “
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.”

God’s love is steadfast, true, pure and will be with me for eternity. I can rely upon God’s love always as God is faithful.

Today as you consider reasons for your thankfulness, I pray that God’s love will be ever present in your heart and mind. His love is an eternal truth we can always be thankful for in every circumstance.

Praise God!

Linda

Take time to read Psalm 136. Read it aloud and let the truth of God’s love sink into your soul.

Did you Forget?? Are you Withholding??

When we question ourselves about kindness, the most frequent thought is: how did I show kindness or how can I show kindness in what I say or do? This is another aspect of kindness that God addresses in His Word. 2 Chronicles 24:22. describes a scene where God reveals the sin of not remembering the kindness of others done to us and the consequences that can come from deliberately forgetting. In this time in Israel’s history, Joash was king. He was a good king and restored the worship of the Lord with the help of the priest Jehoiada. Time passed, Joash got old and Jehoidada died and was replaced by his son, Zechariah. Israel fell back into idolatry and the new high priest Zechariah confronted Joash. He counciled Joash to return to God and abandon idolatry. His advice was was met with great resistance. 21 But they (those at court) conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. 22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the Lord see and avenge! ” Sure enough, Joash was invaded by the Syrians, the city was looted and his officials killed him in his bed for murdering Zechariah the high priest all before the year was done. What lesson can we learn from these events? When we are treated with kindness or kindly, we need to remember who treated us kindly and why. Remembering helps to temper our reactions or actions in the future if things are not so pleasant. Kindness is meant to be accepted, cherished and then repaid out of love. Jesus told us in John 13:34-35 “ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Kindness needs to be remembered and responded to with love, regardless of the passage of time.

Another thought about kindness is the idea of withholding kindness. Job was suffering and told his friends that they should treat him with kindness, not withhold, punish or reject him because of his circumstances. The circumstances and reasons are for God alone to know. Their response should be kindness not judgement. Job 6:14 in the Amplified ““For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; So that he does not abandon (turn away from) the fear of the Almighty.” I find this verse very convicting as Job’s friends were condemning him for not blaming God. Their kindnesses should have been done or said so that Job would draw closer to God. A sobering thought, is your lack of kindness pushing someone away from God? Kindness is meant to be given to show God’s love and bring someone closer to Jesus as they see Him in our words and actions.

I pray that these thoughts from God’s Word will sink down into your soul and open your eyes to situations where you need to remember how you were treated with kindness in the past and therefore react to a new situation with kindness. Or how you might be withholding kindness when responding with kindness may draw someone closer to Jesus. God can and does transform us through His Holy Spirit so we can show His love to others.

Linda

Holy Week, Thursday, Where’s Jesus?

As Jesus’ time on earth draws to a close, His Thursday was filled with love, encouragement, heartbreak and pain.  As Jesus celebrated the Passover supper with His disciples in the Upper Room, Judas was dismissed as he had already decided in his heart to betray Jesus.  Then Jesus spent precious hours teaching, reassuring and praying for His disciples.  Later they went to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and gained strength from His Father.  The soldiers came into the garden to arrest Jesus, and he was betrayed by Judas. They led him away to be tried in numerous trials both civilian and religious.  He was beaten, flogged, insulted and denied by Peter.

During all this time, Jesus was focused on doing the will of the Father and completing His mission on earth, the redemption of mankind.  I am touched when I consider His prayer in the Upper Room as recorded in John 17: 20-23 as he was thinking of me and you and not the ordeal he was facing.

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.  (Message)

I was amazed that Jesus took time to pray for His mission, His disciples and All future believers that night in the Upper Room.  He wanted all future believers to be unified in faith so we can tell others that Jesus was and is real and was sent by the Father.  He says that the unity of our faith and oneness with Christ will give evidence to the unbelieving world that God loves us and truly sent His Son to redeem us.  This unity was so important to our Lord and Savior that He interceded for us.  Jesus wants us to be one in Spirit, united, telling others about Him.

What difference does it make that Jesus spend time on the last night before his crucifixion praying for you?  When you are with other believers do you strive for the unity Christ desired or are you seeking to divide and cause unrest in matters of faith with your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Are you about the sharing of your faith with others by showing kindness, love and speaking of the hope you have in Jesus?  Today, think of Jesus and what He desires for all believers.  Strive to walk in unity.  He promises it will show the world that we believe in Him and God’s love.

Prayer:  Father, I am humbled and amazed that Jesus prayed for me on His last night on earth.  He loved me so much and wanted me to be one in faith and unified in spirit with all believers.  Help me to live today with an abiding faith in You so that the people I meet will know that I love You and that You love me. Empower me to show your love to others so that you may be glorified in all I say and do. Amen.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be unified with other believers in Jesus’ name and share in His love.

Linda

I Stand Amazed at God’s Mercy, 5th Sunday of Lent

Lent is a time for reflection about our own sinfulness and prayer and thankfulness for God’s mercy. One of my most precious verses is Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. As you meditate on the truths from Colossians we uncovered this week, let your heart turn to Him in thankfulness. We have so much because of God’s mercy and Christ’s willingness to die for us.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can know Christ, be indwelt by His Holy Spirit and have a relationship with Almighty God through the power of Christ Alone! Colossians 2:16-19 “So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ. 18-19 Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.”

I am affirmed in Christ and can ask for His guidance and wisdom from His Word. Colossians 2:20-23 “You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”

I can have a new nature with a new mindset as I seek to live for Him each day. Colossians 3:1-2 “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”

I have a life with Christ that is assured, protected and expectant as I await His return! Colossians 3:3-4 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory”.

I have the power of Christ within guiding me to act in a manner that is pleasing to God for my good and His glory! Colossians 3:5-8 “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.

I can seek to love others wholeheartedly and impartially. Colossians 3:9-11. “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”

Here is our Psalm of Praise for this week,

Psalm 103:1-6 Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Have a blessed Sunday that is filled with Praises!

Linda

Claim your Treasures!

Chapter 2 of Colossians starts with Paul showing us his empathy for the believers in Colossae and Laodicea, a nearby town. Epaphras has filled him in on the great needs and struggles of both of these churches. Paul identifies with their struggles and wants them to know he is united to them by love even if they have never met. Colossians 2:1-3 “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He wants them to understand the wonderful mystery that Christ reveals- redemption, forgiveness and salvation for all who believe. In Christ is life and knowledge that is a treasure for living a guided, indwelt and redeemed life.

What part of this treasure do you possess? Do you know Christ’s great love? Have you experienced the strong ties to other believers as you work, study and encourage one another in your walk with Christ? Do you have a treasure chest filled with good things Christ has given you? All of these are YES in Christ! Here are some of the benefits Paul wanted the Colossian and Laodicean Christians to experience: LOVEJohn 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” UNITY- 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” CONFIDENCE- 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,” HIDDEN TREASURES of WISDOM and KNOWLEDGEPsalm 51:6 “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,  and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Paul wanted the Colossians and Laodiceans to have all these treasures so they could live a life worthy of the calling of Christ and shine for Him in a dark world. Paul wants these things for us too, claim them today. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can claim treasures in Christ that will fill me with His confidence, wisdom and knowledge so I can be united to other believers by His love.

Linda

Amazing, God loves me that much!

Colossians 1:18-20 was about the reconciliation we have through Christ. Paul continues with this topic in Colossians 1:21-22 explaining in more detail the how’s and why’s of this amazing transformation that is available to us. “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Paul explains our state of being from birth. We are born sinners, separated from God by our sin-filled nature which we act out in words and deeds. It is our natural state of being because of the sin passed on to us from Adam and Eve and held captive in a world ruled by Satan. That may sound harsh but Christ called Satan the devil, the prince of this world and an angel of darkness.

Once we came to know Jesus and believe in His death and resurrection, we were brought into a relationship with God. Our sins were forgiven and we were clean and pure, holy, blameless and able to stand before God. God cannot tolerate sin and where sin is- God is not. However, He loves us and loved us even before we knew Him. Romans 5:8 is a precious verse that is hard to even fathom, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” God loved us and wanted to make a way for sinful man to be restored to relationship with Him. The entire Bible is God’s love story to mankind as He seeks to find the lost and redeem us. When you consider all of this truth, it is staggering. It is amazing that God loved me so much that He was willing to send Jesus to suffer and die for me. God wanted me that much. How can I not be thankful that He loves, cares, and wants me to spend eternity with Him.

Ponder this amazing truth today! Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am redeemed and reconciled to Almighty God so I have His hope-filled love for eternity. Thank you Jesus!

Linda

Be Thankful Someone Shared the Good News with You! Praise God!

How would you describe your church leaders, your pastors or priests? In Colossians 1:7-8 Paul described who was doing what in the Colossian church. “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.” Paul praised Epaphras for his faithful delivery of the gospel message and how he communicated their love for each other to him. From his prison cell, Paul was able to understand the work the Holy Spirit was doing among them through Epaphras’ genuine and faith-filled words.

What a wonderful example of God’s work among believers. Epaphras was a converted pagan who loved the Lord Jesus and wanted others to share in this love, forgiveness and salvation. He was serving in the cause of Christ as he told others of Jesus and showed them God’s love. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was at work there in Colossae. What about you and where you worship and serve? Is your service done there out of habit or are you serving so you can show Jesus to others? Is your service faithfully done or is it haphazardly executed as time allows? What should be our motivation for serving and telling others about Jesus? Several things come to my mind: so others can experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus, so others will have eternal life in heaven, so the quality of their life here on earth will be abundant and filled with hope and love that only God can give, so that others will come to know God in a greater way, so that others will glorify God in their faith and life. The good news of Christ is indeed good news and transforms the life of each one who embraces and believes. Shouldn’t we want to share this wonderful transforming news with others? Epaphras, Paul, James, Titus, Peter…. and the person who told you about Jesus all shared their love of Jesus. Each one of us comes to faith through the telling of Jesus’ story somehow. Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

As you meditate today on this passage, give praise and thanks for the ones who led you to faith, in my case it was a Sunday School teacher. Give praise and thanks for those who faithfully give out the Word of God each week at your church. By doing so they are helping you to grow and mature in your Christian faith. Epaphras did both of these for the church he planted in Colossae and Paul was eternally grateful for his work in the name of Jesus. Let us give thanks today for those who brought us to faith and those who endeavor to show us areas where we can grow more and more like Jesus as we seek to know Christ and walk with Him daily.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others.

Linda

Is there a blessing for me?

copyright szefei

The Stream of Water for this week is all of Deuteronomy 33. In this chapter Moses delivers a blessing for each of the tribes of Israel by name. As I read through them, I marveled at the complete knowledge God has of tribe. He knew their past, present and future. He knew where their weaknesses and strengths were. We can take comfort in the fact that God knows all those things about us too. It brought to mind Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has plans for each of us just like He did for the Israelites.

The portion of this passage that is most meaningful to me is verses 26-29. “There is no one like the God of Israel.
    He rides across the heavens to help you,
    across the skies in majestic splendor.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and his everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
    he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety,
    prosperous Jacob in security,
in a land of grain and new wine,
    while the heavens drop down dew.
29 How blessed you are, O Israel!
    Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
He is your protecting shield
    and your triumphant sword!
Your enemies will cringe before you,
    and you will stomp on their backs!”

I love His message to me: 26- God is my helper no matter where I am He is with me. 27- God is eternal and always supports and protects me. 28- God has my safety in mind and has new provisions for me. 29- God is my protector, defender and always has my back! These same promises can be found elsewhere in the Bible as God desires us to know that He is for us and wants us to live full, productive lives grounded and protected by in His love.

May the God of Israel show Himself to you today as He comes alongside you to love, protect, defend and support you. Trust Him as Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us “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.” God keeps His promises. Live today like you really believe it!

Linda