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

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