Christmas story…continued, Anna

Luke indicated in 2:22-23 that Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus went to the temple to offer a sacrifice for their new born son and for Mary’s purification. Law required that she wait 40 days after giving birth to a son to enter the temple and had to offer a sacrifice for her purification. This was an important event as they were consecrating, dedicating their new born son to God. All firstborn be it animals or people were to be dedicated to the Lord. During this event, they first met Simeon who had been told by the Lord that before he died he would see his Lord and Savior. He trusted God and believed God’s Words that he would indeed see his savior. He knew God to be a promise keeping God.

After their encounter with Simeon and hearing his prophesy, they encountered Anna a prophetess.

Luke 2:36-38  “There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Doing the math, she was over 91 years old and since the temple was very large, she lived their daily spending her time worshipping and praying. Being a prophetess, she would have received prophesies from the Lord. Other such women in the Bible were Miriam, Moses’ sister, Deborah the fearless leader during the time of the Judges, Huldah, Hannah and the daughters of Philip. Anna’s encounter with Jesus, Mary and Joseph was brief but revealing as God showed her the one who would redeem the Jews.

What can we learn from Anna and her encounter with Jesus? God knew the exact time in history that His Son would be revealed to the world. He placed Simeon and Anna there at that moment to confirm for us that Jesus was His Son and had a divine purpose. He was not a random child of Jewish parents but God’s Son. He was the one through whom God would redeem all mankind. God chose devoted followers to speak of Jesus’ coming work in the world. They were elders, revered and respected for their lifestyle, devotion to God and their ability to speak prophetic words from God. Their appearance in the life Jesus was confirming for Mary and Joseph and showed how much God loved them. God wanted them to know, along with Anna and Simeon, that Jesus was His Son and they were a part of His story. God graciously included them in His work to save mankind.

How is God including you in His work? Has He given you people to tell of His wonders and grace? I like to think of these as God opportunities or God moments. Has He given you people to serve and help so that they may see Him in and through what you are doing? Has God called you to stand firmly for Him and wait patiently like He did Anna and Simeon? What ever God has for you in the New Year, embrace it, claim His promises, and cling to Jesus daily so that His work may be accomplished through you. You will be blessed. Remember, Obedience brings blessing. 2 John 1:16 “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

Make 2023 a year of obedience and love as you seek to walk with Him daily.

Linda

A Reminder of What Christmas Brings…

This blessing shows us what having Christ in Christmas does for you and me.

His Spirit brings us peace. John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” His peace dispels all fears, removes our heart troubles and calms us in a chaotic world.

His arrival brings us hope for forgiveness, mercy and redemption. Colossians 1:13-14  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead“. Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

He brings warmth into our lives with His love. 1 John 4:7-9 speaks of God’s love for us. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” God is love and He sent Jesus as proof of that great love. John 3:16-17 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

May the Peace, Hope and Love of God fill you day.

Merry Christmas,

Linda

Ancient Problems are Here and Now, Too!

November 17, 2022

Psalm 107:16-22 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

When you read this portion of the psalm you see the Israelites suffered from illnesses cause by eating disorders and from their own afflictions caused by sin. I was pondering this and the first thing that came to mind was addictions we have today for drugs and alcohol. The eating disorders and the wasting away reminded me of anorexia and bulimia. That these disease and afflictions would be in our present day but addressed in this ancient text shows the depth and applicability of God’s Word. What the psalmist is saying is that God can and does address these problems. If the sufferer cries out to Him, he will be heard. God can and does save people out of addiction each and every day. God can rescue them from the grave so to speak as He breaths life and hope into the individual through faith in Christ. Verse 20 says that God sent out His Word. Jesus is the Word and faith in Jesus will heal and save both physically and spiritually. Those who have been rescued out of these conditions along with their loved ones live lives fill with praise for God’s powerful healing in their lives. Why does God do this? He heals and rescues because He loves us. His love is unfailing unlike human love His is eternal and always full. His is a faithful love that is unconditional and unending. Praise God!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I can find grace and mercy in a time of need. This truth is so wonderful. You can claim it with hope in your heart day and night. God is accessible and we can come to him any time or any place. He promises in Deuteronomy 31:6 to never leave us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” We can have courage for living each day and assurance of His presence with us. Knowing we can come to God in prayer, what can we be assured we will find there in His presence? First of all we can find peace and relief from fear. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” We are also assured in Hebrews 14:6 of grace and mercy. “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.” God would not have told us that He has peace, grace and mercy unless He means it! God does not lie. God is truth. You can count upon Him to always be with you, give you peace, grace and mercy exactly when you need it most. Come into His presence today and ask Him for these things. He is faithful and will answer just as He promises.

Are you facing difficulties right now in your life? Do you suffer from an addiction or are you stressed out from the pressures of life? Call upon Him. Come into His presence today and feel His love and support. He has what you need in abundance.

Linda

God’s Promises, Alive in My Life!

I have truly enjoyed the series God has led to write on favorite Bible verses submitted by my friends. I noticed that the verses are reflective of the person’s life and show a glimpse of their heart for God. I want to end this series with my own favorites. I hope these verses will show my heart for God and my dependence upon Him.

Let me start with my ‘go to’ verse when I’m stressed or facing difficulties in life. 2 Corinthians 12:9 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.” This verse grounds me in the fact that nothing is above or beyond the power of God and He promises me sufficient grace to meet the challenges of life. God also assures me that my struggles and weaknesses bring glory to Him when I rely upon Him and His sustaining power!

Isaiah was a book I studied when I was struggling in my personal life. Everything in life seemed in shambles and I found much comfort in Chapter 49 of Isaiah. 16 “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” This verse assures me that God sees me and knows me personally. I’m literally in His hands.

23 b Then you will know that I am the Lord;  those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” This verse reminds me that like the Israelites, who were in Babylon at the time, separated from their homeland, God will not leave me. Good things are in store for me if I am patient and wait for His time and His answer. Results will bring honor and glory to God and good to me.

25 b For thus says the Lord,
for I will contend with those who contend with you,
    and I will save your children.
The second part of this verse speaks hope to me. In my situations of life, I know God is on my side and will fight for me. I don’t know about you but many times I feel defeated and like life is an uphill battle. Knowing that Almighty God will do the fighting for me and in addition He promises to save my children. I derive strength and hope from these promises. All three of these verses from Isaiah brought hope and confidence for living in knowing that God has my back and is with me fighting, uplifting and encouraging me all the way. He brought light and hope into my life at a very dark time. I can gladly say “God is good, all the time.” He knows where I am and what I need. Thank you Jesus.

I came across Jeremiah 33:3 while doing a study of the life of Jeremiah. This verse spoke to my heart and really encouraged me. Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.‘ This is a promise that is personal! God is accessible and will answer when I call out to Him. When in prayer or study or fellowship, God will reveal Himself to me in new ways. What wonderful promises!!

Lastly, I have 3 verses that I call my life verses. They have been favorites of mine for years and years. They are all promises of God that I can claim in my life. 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.” I can always trust God for His plans are good for me and will bring glory to Him. Even when things look dark all around me, I can proceed with hope and claim God’s goodness and plans over my life. Joshua 1:8-9 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” God promises that His Word will be a guiding force in my life, if I will study and cling to it. God also promises to be with me wherever I go! This has been proven to me over and over as I study and seek God’s truth in His Word. 1 John 1:9 was one of the first verses I memorized as a young Christian. It is so affirming and reassuring. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This give practical advise on how to stay right with Him so I can abide with Him and He in me.

I pray that the verses God has laid upon my heart will be meaningful to you. As you can see, God’s promises are important to me. I seek to claim and cling to them daily. Year after year, God has been faithful to multiply His grace to me, keep me in the palm of His hands, contend with those who are opposing me, answer when I call upon Him, openly reveal His character to me through His Word, hears my confession, cleanses me over and over and always has good plan for my life that will bring Him honor and glory. I have seen over and over again that I can trust God. He has me and I can rest in Him. What an amazing God!
Linda
    

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

Holy Week, Friday, “It is Finished”

After His arrest Thursday night, Jesus endured 4 trials.  He went before the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, then Pilate who sent him to Herod, the Jewish head of state, then back to Pilate.  The Jews wanted Jesus killed but they did not have the authority to execute Him.  They demanded that Pilate, the Roman authority in Palestine, crucify Him.  Pilate had Jesus flogged and beaten even though Pilate knew Jesus to be innocent.  He had hoped this cruel treatment would pacify the Jews.  However, the crowds pressed him and requested the release of the criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus since it was the custom to release one convicted person as a token of goodwill at the Jewish Passover.  The crowds demanded that Jesus be crucified and Pilate agreed to appease the angry and vocal Jewish crowds.   Jesus was then made to carry His own cross to the place of execution, Golgotha.  Along the way Jesus stumbled and Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to carry the cross.  Jesus was then nailed to a cross and hung to die.  His clothes were stripped from Him and as He hung naked on the cross then soldiers gambled for his clothing underneath the cross.

I can not imagine the pain, anguish, humiliation and shame Jesus endured on my behalf. He took all the sins of the world, yours and mine, upon His pure, sinless and innocent body and the sin took him to a place he had never been before.  The sins He took upon himself, our sins, separated him from God, His holy Father.  He did this so that His sacrifice could atone for our sins.  1 Peter 2:24 explains what Jesus accomplished for you and me.

24 He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.  (NLT)

I never realized how sweet Jesus’ final words from the cross were until recently.  “‘It is finished.’ With that, he lowered his head and gave up his spirit.”  John 19:30   He declared with His final breath that the work of redemption was complete, and He had accomplished what the Father had sent Him to do. Through His death He took the punishment, death, for the sins of all who would believe for all eternity.  Having accomplished His work, He gave up His spirit.  His life was not taken from Him, but He gave it up voluntarily at the time of His choosing.  Only God can choose the time of His death.  When we speak of someone dying, we say the person has life take from them.  We don’t get to chose the hour or minute of our last breath, but Jesus chose when and where He was to die for you and me.  I am staggered by His love and sacrifice that He would endure such punishment and isolation from God on my behalf.  As you ponder the cross today, think of all Jesus gave up and all He did on your behalf.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I live redeemed from the penalty of sin, covered by His incredible sacrifice and will be able to stand before God sinless.

Prayer:  Father, the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice and your love in sending Him to die for my sin is incomprehensible.  ‘Your ways and not my ways’ Isaiah reminds us in Isaiah 55:8.  I am so thankful for your plan of redemption. I stand humbly before you because of Jesus, my Savior, covered by His righteousness.  Praising you in Jesus name, Amen.              

Linda

Holy Week, Thursday, Jesus Prayed for You and Me

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 for 30 pieces of silver.  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 his 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 desire to show God’s love to others.

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

Paul, “It was Worth it!” Agree?

The Apostle Paul uses put in a new context in today’s passage. 1 Corinthian 9:12 comes in the midst of a passage where Paul is reasoning that missionaries deserve to be paid or supported for their work. Just as Jewish priests were given food and clothing, so those that serve Christ preaching and teaching deserve to be cared for.

 “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

Paul is saying that they may have the right to support, but they did not insist upon it. They suffered and put up with less so that the gospel of Christ would go forward. He was not bragging, but simply stating the fact that he was compelled to preach the gospel. In verse 16 Paul says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. ” His motivation was pure, without complications, as He presented the gospel so that others might know Christ and be redeemed.

What is your motivation for telling others about Christ? Paul was so driven to tell others he could not, not tell them. His desire was for them to know Christ, to be freed from the bondage of sin, to have the eternal assurance of salvation and to have hope for living each day. This was what drove him to tell as many as he could, regardless of the danger or hardships to himself. Do you want others to be free in Christ? Do you want to see them in eternity worshipping and rejoicing with Jesus?

Consider this, Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am compelled to speak of the love of Jesus, to speak of His redeeming power and to speak of the assurance I have of spending eternity with Him. Think about this in the context of John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Are you compelled to speak out for Jesus because of your love for Jesus and for those who need to know Him? Are you willing like Paul, to put up with anything so that others can know Him? As Christians we need to be willing to put up with the world’s attitude and rejection, so that someone may come to know Jesus as their Savior. As Paul reasoned, “it is worth it.”

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


Happy Valentine’s Day!

john 3 16

I love this Valentine and keep sending it each year as the message is timeless and the graphics so true.

The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money.  I walked into a local supermarket yesterday, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display.   On the love side, Valentine’s Day is a day when we can express our love for one another freely and not be thought of as sentimental or mushy.  How about God?  How does God express His love for us?   Here is a familiar verse that gets right to the heart of God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For He did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17  

How much more love could God show towards us than sacrificing His only Son on our behalf?  He loved us that much.   He sent Him so that through faith in Jesus we could be saved and not condemned.  Only sinless Jesus could erase our sin and present us whole and perfectly clean before our Holy God.

valentine

When you say ‘thank you’ today for a Valentine gift you receive, a card, note, flowers or someone simply saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, think about thanking God too.  Thank Him for sending Jesus.  Thank Him for making a way for your salvation and eternal life with Him.   That is the best Valentine I can think of that is filled with all of God’s love for now throughout eternity.

Blessings on this Valentine’s Day.

Linda