God’s Word is Worthy of Reading!

copyright szefei

Each week we, the believers who attend Crossroads Church in Concord, CA, have a selection from God’s Word to meditate upon. We have been going through the book of Deuteronomy for quite some time now as it is a long book, and we only take a few verses at at time. I was thunderstruck by the passage this week.

Deuteronomy 31:9-13 “So Moses wrote this entire body of instruction in a book and gave it to the priests, who carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and to the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses gave them this command: “At the end of every seventh year, the Year of Release, during the Festival of Shelters, 11 you must read this Book of Instruction to all the people of Israel when they assemble before the Lord your God at the place he chooses. 12 Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions. 13 Do this so that your children who have not known these instructions will hear them and will learn to fear the Lord your God. Do this as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.”

How many of us read God’s Word, all of it at least every 7 years? Do we share it with our families? God has a specific purpose for us reading His Word faithfully- to teach us about Himself and to pass on our love for God to the next generation. In my opinion, that is something we, all believers, have not done faithfully and now our world is lacking in the knowledge of who God is and why we should trust in Him alone.

Let us pray for our nation and ourselves that we will be found faithful in reading and studying His Word and telling those around us about the truths contained therein. To thrive in this sin-filled world, we must look to Jesus and His Word to walk in victory and light.

Linda

P.S. Need a Bible Study? send me a note and I’ll tell you of opportunities to study with many online groups. We no longer need to live in the same city or country!

Pressing onward with JOY!

Have you examined lately what causes you to move forward? What motivates you? According to Paul in Philippians 3:12-16 his motivation comes from what Christ did for him and his desire to live up to what God expects of him in Christ. I like the insights the Amplified text brings to this portion of scripture: 12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. 13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. 15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.”

 

This is a very familiar portion of scripture as it reveals Paul’s heart and desire to always press onward for Christ. Paul realizes that our world and all of its pressures can and do distract us from our work for Christ. He encourages us to press onward, upward and forward in our lives leaving the worldly distractions behind and claiming, proclaiming and grabbing hold of what Christ has for us in life. What Christ has for us is far greater than anything we could attain ourselves in this life. Christ has give it to us already so we need to walk and live by His ways.

Why joy in this? I see joy in the fact that Jesus provided a way, a plan, a pattern for following Him in His Word.

I see joy in knowing the things Christ can and will provide are greater than worldly acquisitions or achievements.

I see joy in following Him knowing I already have it all in Christ and simply need to grab hold of it and walk with Him each day.

Have a blessed day walking with Him.

Linda

 

Dreams Bring Joy-filled Thoughts

Today the wild fires in California are burning brightly and smoke covers so much of our beautiful state. Where is joy? The passage in Philippians that I had for reflection today seems odd- how does it relate to me and my world? In this passage in Philippians 2:19-30 (entire text at the bottom) Paul makes the letter personal. He is sending notes to the Philippians about his ‘family’. Specifically Paul mentions Timothy his proven, genuine, caring son in the faith. He also says he desires to see them soon if his situation changes in Rome and he is free to travel again. Paul also talks about Epaphroditus who would be bringing the letter to them. Paul asks them to welcome him openly and realize that he has personally suffered a great deal for the sake of the gospel. Paul had plans for himself (24) and for the future of the ministry. He was looking forward to their work together in the name of Christ. Paul never doubted God had plans and knew the work of Christ would go forward!

What plans do you have for yourself and for you place in ministry? Do you dream and look forward with joy to things you can, or will do? Do you have dreams big things? I think God is calling us to trust in Him, no matter what fires are burning around us, and place our dreams at His feet. God promises us in His Word that He has good plans with purpose and they will not be thwarted.

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.” Do you believe God has good plans and a future for you?

Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Do you believe anything can stop God’s plans?

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Do you believe God can follow through on the plans He has established for you?

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Do you believe the Lord’s purpose is for your good and His glory?

James 4:13-15 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. Do you consider what God wants you to do when you make plans or do you leave Him out of the planning?

Paul’s joy was increased when he thought about his ‘family’ of faith and what plans and purposes God had for them in the future. What about you does dreaming about future events and plans in ministry bring you joy and excitement? If yes, then you are in good company and are forward looking with God, expecting joy in the future with Christ.

May your joy be multiplied today as you dream and think about what God has for you to do. Walk in faith- trusting and believing in our All Powerful God!

Linda

Philippians 2:19-30

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Joy, Knowing God is Sovereign

In Philippians 1:15-21 Paul expresses the facts of ministry as he sees them.  He sees some preaching the gospel to win souls.  He calls that good will and says their preaching is out of love, desiring that all would be saved and be eternally free in Christ.   He also sees those who preach the gospel out of love of self, for self-gratification, self-gain, and self-glory.  He calls that selfish ambition  and realizes that they can, by their words, stir up trouble for him even as he sits in prison.  However, Paul does not hold their actions against them as he rejoices that the name of Christ is proclaimed and trusts in God’s plan and sovereign control over all circumstances.   Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

Paul’s continues reasoning that though the prayers of fellow believers and the power of the Holy Spirit, he knows God will be victorious and his place with Jesus is philippians_1_18assured. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Paul knew no matter what, he belonged to Jesus!   He knew the support of fellow believers through their powerful prayers and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit were essential to his surviving in his Roman prison.  Either in death or in life,  he would be victorious in and through Christ. 

 How is it that Paul was so assured?   Paul relied upon the character of God and His Word.   He undoubtedly remembered Joseph’s statement of God’s principle in Genesis genesis-50 2050:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Or perhaps his own words given by the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:28 “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Or Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 29:11-12 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.”   Paul was a  student of scripture and knew for a fact the truths about God’s character revealed throughout the Bible.  He had learned to draw upon them for strength, clarity and assurance.   We too need to open His Word and dig deep to replenish our joy, see our hope clearly, and gain strength and assurance. Our Sovereign God is bigger than Covid 19 or any other circumstance we face right now or in the future.  Be assured like Paul that no matter what, you and I will be victorious in Christ!

My joy is increased:

  • I know God is Sovereign and will use all things (people, places, circumstances- yes even the Corona virus) to achieve His will.
  • I know God has my back and has good plans for me as I serve Him, therefore, I will trust in Him.
  • I know that prayer is essential for survival and brings encouragement and resolve to believers.

joy in sovereignty of GodLet your joy be in our Sovereign God today.     Trust in Him!

Linda

Strategic Living has ARRIVED!

Strategic Living FRCov (1)For such a time as this, my new book Strategic Living is perfect.  We all wonder, while we’re at home sheltering in place because of the Covid-19,  what we can do to reach others and survive ourselves.  In my new book, Strategic Living I take a biblical look at godly character and seek to challenge the reader to reflect and take action.   Becoming more and more like Jesus is a process called sanctification and takes deliberate effort and intentionality.  This new devotional gives concrete examples and direction on how God can and does shape our lives and explores perhaps new and different ways God desires that we act.  The book can be used for individual devotions or for group study.  Questions for group discussion are included along with key memory verses.

Take up the challenge and get your copy today.   It is available in paperback or eBook formats.

My book is available at Certa Publishing  http://www.certabooks.com/strategicliving   

And on Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dphttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1946466719?ref=myi_title_dp

thank you,   Linda

Strategic Living BKCovAfter reading my book, I would appreciate you taking the time to review the book.  As reviews help to spread the word.

Are you using your Sword effectively? Take a lesson from Jesus.

Ephesians 6:17 lists two weapons – the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.  As Paul reminded us in verse 16 these weapons are to be ready in all circumstances.  The helmet of salvation is an offensive weapon like the breastplate of Ephesians 6-17 Swordrighteousness, shoes of the gospel and the belt of truth.  However, the sword of the Spirit is our only physical weapon that can be used both offensively and defensively.   “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”   

The Sword of the Spirit or the Word of God is a weapon for close combat one to one or for group warfare.  The Word of God includes the physical words in the Bible, the message of the Word, their intended meaning and the actual saying of the words out loud.  Jesus gave us a perfect example of the use of God’s Word in combat when He was confronted by Satan in the wilderness.  Jesus did not try to reason with Satan or argue with him.  He simply used God’s Word and its truth to thwart him.  He answered his questions with the Word of truth. (See Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13 for the account of Satan confronting Jesus in the wilderness.)

We can take a lesson in how to use the Sword of Spirit from Jesus.  We need to learn to use God’s Word when we are confronted with indecision, confusion, difficult circumstances, temptations, fears, etc.  The reason Jesus was able to use God’s Word to rebuff Satan was because He knew the Word of God.  That should lead us to the conclusion that we need to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we will be ready.  Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Memorizing scripture has eternal value as once you put it into your mind, the Holy Spirit will use it to shape and mold your mind so that you will be stronger in faith, less led into sin and confidently face situations.    We also need to study and immerse ourselves in God’s Word to know more about who God is and what He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11 reveals God’s heart towards us, “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.”  Studying God’s Word is essential for growth towards maturity as a believer.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  hebrews 4 12God’s Word is active and alive, remember saying or using the words of God has power to effect lives for Him.  God’s Word helps us to discern God’s truth and discover our hearts intentions.  God’s Word has power and should be treated with reverence as it is God’s defensive gift to us for use in our struggles here on earth.  Know it, use it  and be transformed by it!  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead I have access to the living Word of God that can and will defeat the enemy.

Wield your sword in battle today.  Have God’s power in your hand and on your lips.

Linda

Holy Week- Thursday was the day of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.  He spent considerable time comforting them and praying for them.  They went to Gethsemane where Jesus prayed,  arrested and led off to trials throughout the night.  Matthew 26:17-46, Mark 14: 12-42, Luke 22:7-46, John 14:1-16:33

What is your battle plan? Got armor?

Ephesians 6:13 is a promise we can all claim.  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”   God promises that wearing His armor will enable us to stand firmly against Satan’s attacks.   His armor provides us with what we need for this fight when combined with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power.  God’s armor includes truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation , the Word of God and prayer.  That is a treasure trove of pieces God provides for our fight.

Here are some Lessons and Truths from this verse:

  • God’s armor protects me in both physical and spiritual battles.
  • God’s armor fully covers me.
  • God desire me to stand firm in my faith.
  • Our world contains evil that desires to defeat and destroy my faith.
  • God wants me to do my best and then remain standing in Him.
  • God is more powerful than Satan.

ephesians 6 13Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be filled with His Holy Spirit and protected by His armor to face the challenges of each day.  May you be emboldened today as you step out in faith, knowing and trusting God to have you protected through His armor.  Put it on and step out!

Linda

4th Sunday of Lent, 2020 Facing the world through Christ not the virus

We had some amazing truths this week in Ephesians 3 and 4 that affirmed who we are in Christ and the purpose God has for believers’ lives.

  • we have the privilege and obligation to intercede on behalf of other believers.  Ephesians 3:14-19   PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for one another!
  • we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good. Ephesians 3:20-21   Empowered to give and show LOVE!
  • we are indwelt, empowered and enabled to act and be more and more like Jesus as we grow in Him.  Ephesians 4:1-3    Sanctification-growing more like Jesus!
  • we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.   Ephesians 4:7  Show His grace to the world around us.
  • we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him. Ephesians 4:11-13   God will bring growth in our lives so we can serve those around us in Him.
  • so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.   Ephesians 4:14-16   We can be contributors to the body of Christ as we work together in unity of love and Spirit.

God teaches us we need to pray for others, be indwelt and empowered by His Holy Spirit, are gifted by His grace, can be fully equipped through His Word to serve others, and grow ourselves more and more like Christ.  What powerful messages for our times!   Our togetherworld is in need of Christ and His redeeming love, our love as believers and the Truth of His Word.   Endeavor to reach out to others this week in love, pray for those hurting around you, look for His truth in the Word of God as you open it this coming week. Read the Book (the Bible) to grow in wisdom, truth, love and knowledge of God.

Linda

Promised Growth- are you seeing it? If not why not?

When Jesus came to earth, He fulfilled the plan of salvation and provided a way for us to be reconciled to the Father.  After His return to heaven, He promised a helper would come to empower us to take His message of salvation, forgiveness and love to all the ephesians 4 11world.  In Ephesians 4:11-13 Paul explains some of the resources the Holy Spirit gives to believers (His church) so that we might live fully equipped lives for Christ.  Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”   Not all believers are called to be pastors or teachers but all of us are called to be recipients of good godly teaching so that we may be equipped to do God’s work.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.

Where are you getting your good godly teaching? Is that teaching based on the Word of God or is it more a social, feel good type of message?  2 Timothy 3:16-17 promises 2 Timothy 3-17God’s Word is complete and sufficient for our training in right living.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

Ask God to guide you to a place of worship that stands on the Word of God and gives it out regularly.  You will be blessed.  

Linda

P.S  Due to the Corona Virus, this Sunday, March 22, 2020, my place of worship will be live streaming  the service. Tune in to YouTube:   wearecrossroads  at 10:15, the service begins at 10:30 AM PST     If you miss it live, that’s okay- it is still there for your viewing or reviewing thanks to YouTube.

#7 Practicing Devotion to God-By Thinking Biblically

This idea of thinking biblically is something I’ve given quite a bit of thought.  Scripture tells us in Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways Isaiah-55-9higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”   God’s way of thinking and doing things are not the same as ours.  We are human and finite and God is omniscient and infinite.  So, we need to learn to think biblically to understand God’s ways better.  How do you go about that?  The process begins by spending time in God’s Word, memorizing His Word, and meditating on His Word  so that your minds thoughts are immersed in His thinking and ways.  Then when you are faced with a situation, you will respond with biblical thoughts more often than with worldly thoughts and actions.  

I have had this happen many times while I was memorizing the book of James.  It is a very practical book with loads of thoughts to direct our actions.  When something would happen, I would immediately recall scripture as my first reaction to a situation.  I realized I was practicing biblical thinking and acting like God would have me act.  It is an amazing feeling when your first reaction is godly and not worldly.  Our thought originate within ourselves and are selfish at heart and of this world.  God’s ways are not like ours and only come from being fully covered in His Word.

Psalm 119:11 confirms this idea, I have stored up your word in my heart,  that I might not sin against you.”  Psalm 119: 98 “Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.”   Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is powerful and can discern truth.  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”   Having God’s Word in your heart and on and in your mind causes you to think Biblically and react as God would have to you act.   As you strive to be more and more like Jesus, becoming sanctified in Him, your thoughts and actions need to reflect Jesus more and more.

psalm 119 11Ponder how you can think more like Jesus.  Delve into God’s Word and try to soak it up into your very being.  Endeavor to practice Biblical thinking this week and see if you are not wiser and led into sin less as you look to His Word as your guide.

Linda