Actions and Reactions, do they reflect Christ?

My friend Laureen has chosen Colossian 3:23 as her favorite verse. This verse comes after Paul has given standards for conduct for husbands, wives, children, Fathers and slaves. (Colossians 3:18-22) Verse 23 begins Paul’s summary of why we do what we do. He explains more fully in Colossians 3:23-25.

 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Paul’s reminder of why we need to act with submission, love, respect and obedience towards those we are in relationships with is so that we can reflect Christ in our actions and show the nature of our heart. Our hearts motivate us into action for good if based on our love for Christ or not if centered in ourselves. All of our actions should seek to reflect the love of Christ because we love Him for all He has done for us. Not only are we redeemed and forgiven but will live with Him for eternity. Our purpose is to reflect Him in all we say and do so that He will be glorified. God promises rewards – an inheritance which includes a home in heaven and a relationship with Him. Our inheritance brings us into His family and makes us an heir with Christ. So knowing all this, Paul reminds us to remember who we are serving and that those who choose not to serve Him will receive a different kind of reward. The last line states that God shows no favorites. He loves you and me equally and desires that all should come to repentance! 2 Peter 3:9 reveals God’s heart and promise, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

How does this effect me today? Examine your own heart and motives. Do you do things for the Lord, to bring glory to Him? Or do you do things for self-gain, pride or greed? Are you working 100% for the Lord or are you only giving less than 100% effort and holding back? Each day we need look at our motives and be sure we are speaking, doing things and interacting with people through godly motives. You can ask yourself, Am it reflecting Christ in what I say and do? Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern your motives and help you to align them and your heart with Christ so that He may be glorified in your life.

Thanks Laureen for pointing me to this group of verses to better understand how I am to act and react towards others and hold right motives in my heart.

Linda

You can Trust God, can’t you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linda

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy 4th with A Promise

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I thought this promise was appropriate for the week of the Fourth of July.  Enjoy the holiday and cherish your freedoms.  Happy 4th!!

John 8:31-32, 36

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’…’So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,’”

Promise: God promises freedom, truth and discipleship in Christ

Where and when do you feel truly free? As Americans, we pride ourselves on our independence, self-initiative and having freedoms to claim and practice in our daily lives. As we know our freedoms are defined and limited by the society in which we live. Sometimes we agree with these limitations and sometimes we don’t. We struggle each day to survive and maintain our freedoms within our family, neighborhoods and society.

The freedom that God promises is dependent upon Christ not us. We need to believe and accept the true freedom and then live a life dependent upon God. We need to accept the truth that God provides in His Word and the truth of who Jesus is and what He did for us on the cross. We need to accept our place in His family and take up the job of living for Him as His disciple. Working for God’s truth in our world will bring greater freedom than anything we think we can obtain or receive here on Earth. So do as Jesus commands, accept His freedom in faith and be free indeed!

Live free today in Jesus,

Linda

Here is a fun fact I found on the Internet this morning about our flag.  I did not know what the colors represented.

Between 1777 and 1960, the shape and design of the American flag changed several times before arriving at the present form. The 13 alternating red and white stripes represent the 13 original colonies. Talking about colors, red stands for hardiness and valor; white symbolizes purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. Food for thought- does our nation still represent these colors? If not, what can I do to stand for valor, live purely and persevere for what is right? Pray, pray and pray for our nation and our leaders and lean on Jesus in our own lives.

Heavenly Promises Guaranteed by the Holy Spirit

I am greatly encouraged by the ‘put on’ passage we have today. How many times have you thought about your heavenly body to come? I know I look forward to no aches and pains, no worry or stress, no concerns about what to eat and the calories the food contains, etc. We don’t want to rush into our heavenly bodies as that would mean we are no longer living on earth, yet we long for the presence of the Lord as we weary of the pressures of life on earth. Our passage is from 2 Corinthians 5:1-8.

 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

Here are some lessons and truths from this passage- be encouraged as we wait to put on our heavenly bodies: *Once we leave our earthly body we will have a heavenly one (vs1)

*Our heavenly body is made by God (not man made like our present one) (vs1)

*Our new bodies will be free of weariness and clothed by God not a free floating spirit with a body (vs 3)

*The Holy Spirit is our guarantee within us that we will have a heavenly body just as God has promised (vs5)

*We live by faith not by sight (vs7)

*Being here on earth means we are not with the Lord in person yet (8)

*We can live confident that we have a home in heaven with the Lord! (8)

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live knowing life after death means a new body, a new home in a place with the Lord as guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who dwells within me right now! What glorious promises from our promise-keeping God! Savor this joy today and spend time communing with the Holy Spirit. Thank Him for His confirming guarantee.

Linda

Trust in Him, God has this!

Today’s favorite verse comes from my friend Mig. Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

This promise of sustaining power and victory over fears was given to the children of Israel because God knew they had hard times ahead and could always look to Him for help. Not many years later they were carried off to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar where they were held captive for 70 years. After the 70 years of exile, they we enabled by God return and rebuild Jerusalem and the destroyed temple. We can also claim this ancient promise in our lives as believers. We are His children through faith in Jesus and are members of His family. Romans 8:14 “For all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God.”

What do you see in this promise today that you need to sustain you? God promises to be with us always. We do not need to fear or be anxious about the situations, people or circumstances of our lives because God is right there with us. He promises He will strengthen, help, and uphold us with His righteous right hand, which is Jesus. All the help, comfort and stamina to continue facing life’s trying situations will be given to us in the name of Jesus. We know we can count on this promises as God keeps Him promises and is always faithful. Exodus 34:6 “The Lord passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” We can count upon Jesus’s upholding hand as 2 Corinthians 1:20 reveals “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

Mediate upon the fact that God is with you wherever you go. God has sufficient strength to enable you to overcome whatever obstacles are in your pathway. God will help you. When God says He will, He always does. God provided Jesus’s righteousness to cover, cleanse and uphold you always.

Be encouraged! God has this. Put your FAITH in Him Ask Him for His sustaining power to fill, help and uplift you today!

Linda

Advent…a journey of Delivery and Unending Joy!

My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men or aged Anna and Simon yet, but the Mary, Joseph and Jesus did not meet them until after his birth. Anna and Simon were encountered in the temple when Jesus was circumsized after 8 days as was their custom. The wise men saw the star when Jesus was born and followed it, arriving about 2 years after his birth. The gifts they brought provided monies for Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they had to flee in the night to Egypt to avoid Herod’s executioners. I’ll continue with their part in the story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.

This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin- Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.

Linda

Advent…An Unexpected Answer

Our Advent journey continues with Mary’s answer from the heavenly angel. He had surprised her, soothed her fears and told her she would give birth to a son whom she would name Jesus. She asked the angel how this was even possible as she was a virgin and had known no man. Here is the angel’s unexpected answer from Luke 1:35-38.

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Talk about a miracle birth! Wow! Imagine Mary’s surprise at those words, “the Holy Spirit of God will come upon you.” She was to bear the Son of God. In her wildest dreams she would not have conceived the idea that she could bear the Messiah. It was the impossible. It was the unthinkable! But God, said it would be so and she knew that would it would be true because God keeps His promises. She knew how God had kept his promises to her people by bringing them out of Egypt, giving them the land of Israel, bringing them back from Babylon and keeping them for generation to generation as a people who called Him Lord. If she was doubting at all, the angel added in the fact of Elizabeth’s pregnancy which would be considered a miracle at her age and something only God could make happen. His final words brought hope to Mary and definitely to me, “with God nothing is impossible.”

What was Mary’s response to the unexpected news? Mary answered in faith. She did not question the angel but accepted his miraculous news by faith, trusting God to work out the details. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” What would you have said? Do you have that kind of trusting faith in God and His plans for your life? Perhaps Mary recalled Jeremiah 29:11 and claimed it for just a time as this, “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.” She trusted her future to the Lord and looked forward with expectation knowing He was going to do great things for her good and His glory. Can you have that same attitude this Advent season? Can you look forward to the way God can and will use you to bless others and show His love? Claim Jeremiah 29:11 in your own life and look expectantly for the ways God will use you for your good and His glory each day.

Linda

Faithful God is There for me!

This final day before Thanksgiving, let us consider Psalm 91:9-16. The reason God protects us spiritually is because He loves us and we recognize Him. We claim Him and He claims us. Since we are not perfect we can cling to 2 Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” It is in God’s character to be faithful always. Let these words of promise sink in to your soul and give you more reasons to be thankful today.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

1For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I have underlined our part in this- faith in Almighty God, holding fast to His love and calling or asking Him for help. The rest thankfully is all God’s part: being a refuge, protecting me with His angels, allowing nothing or no one to take our salvation away (John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”), rescuing me from trouble, long life and salvation (John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”.) These are things only Almighty God can provide for you and me. Let them be added to your thanksgiving list today!

Linda

Need Strength? Make God Personal

As I continue this Thanksgiving week looking at reasons for praising God and giving thanks, I came to Psalm 91. It has long been a favorite of mine and is known to be a favorite among soldiers. Why is that you might ask? Are you frightened today about the future or events in your life? Are you struggling and despairing over people or things? Soldiers facing battle struggle with all of these, and yet the words of this psalm sooth and comfort them. May you too find comfort and be able to give thanks to God who is sovereign and All-Sufficient. Psalm 91:1-4

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

My friend Bob who lived at the Veteran’s Home in Yountville, CA used to recite this psalm. He told me he used to put his name in verse 2 as he personalized and claimed God’s truth of love and protection over himself and his bombing crew as they flew missions in WWII. “I, Bob, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I, Bob, trust.” He would do the same with Psalm 23. “The Lord is Bob’s shepherd I will not want…”

Do you find scripture personal? Bob believed in God’s Word and the power of the truths God placed there for our benefit. Can you claim the truth of verses 1 and 2- that God is your refuge and fortress and you can trust in Him in all situations? What about verses 3 and 4? Do you believe that God is greater than any foe or force you will face? Does He faithfully cover you and enfold you in His love and care?

I pray this Thanksgiving, as you reflect on God’s goodness and care, that you can see God’s hand in your life protecting and leading. That you feel his loving arms surrounding you and giving you strength. May God’s faithfulness and love speak to you in a new way this holiday creating in you greater gratitude for God.

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