Got a Word, Now look for the Why!

When choosing a Word to guide or focus your year, you need to remember that the word is just a tool of remembrance. The real power is in the Word of God upon which your word is based. For example, I have chosen Joy as my focus word for the year. I will be looking for the joy of the Lord in all things- not just the fun, productive or happy times. How do I know this is true? It is because the Joy I am seeking is based on scripture. As I have looked at my verses more closely, I see different aspects of God’s joy that I can look forward to this year.

Joy in that is based on my salvation and will provide me with sustaining strength to lift me up, even when things don’t look so good! Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold  and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord;  I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength;  he makes my feet like the deer’s;  he makes me tread on my high places.”

Joy that is based on the Sovereignty of God as He knows the pathways He has made for my life and I can find His joy as I walk trusting Him. Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy that will cause me to rejoice in both body and spirit. It will fill me up from the inside out and is based in the graciousness of God for those He has redeemed. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy,  when I sing praises to you;  my soul also, which you have redeemed.”

Joy that provides me with eternal strength to face each day. Nehemiah 8:10b “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joy that takes everything in stride and produces character within me. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Take the word you have chosen for the year and search scripture for places it is used. Pray and seek God’s guidance in which verses really speak to you that He would have you apply to your life this year. It is not your word that guides you but the Word of God that uses, applies and motivates your year.

God’s Word has the power to lead, guide, uplift, motivate, give strength, and produce salvation within you as you believe in Him. God’s Word is eternal, sharp, penetrating, breathed by Him so it can produce within our character what God desires for our lives. Let His Word guide you this year as you seek Him.

Linda

Reflection: Hope, What a Year!

This last day of 2020 is filled with Hope for the future. Hope that the Pandemic that has plagued the world this year will soon end. Hope that the vaccine will protect us from the Corona Virus. Hope that the economy will recover. Hope that our world will again be open to travel. Hope that our lives will again begin to intertwine with others face to face. Providentially, the Word God gave me for this year was HOPE. I have seen it manifested in my life more and more as the year progressed. The scriptures I claimed this year were Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more”, Psalm 119:147 “I rise before dawn and cry for help;  I hope in your words. and Psalm 39:7 ““And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you.”

As I began the year, my reasons for choosing Hope were based on the eternal hope I know I have in Jesus. The hope I have that His Word anchors me in both the good times and in those that are difficult. His hope gives me confidence and joy in living each day. As the year continued, I saw the great need for His Hope in my life to ward off the fears of isolation, desperation, confinement, loneliness and boredom. He led me so that I was able to learn and grow in spite of all the confusion and helplessness I was feeling. I learned new ways to connect with others, the value and need I have to be connected and how to function together with others without being physically with them. I am eternally grateful for the Hope I have in Jesus that sustains and leads me. The lessons God taught me about His Hope caused my faith to grow and increased my assurance that His Word is true in every way.

What word will you ask God for in 2021? In 2019 my word was Trust. I saw my need for trust in God grow through the events of that year and the truth of God being Trustworthy. As I look toward 2021, God has been saying to me that my joy is in Him. So this next year I am convinced that JOY is my word for 2021. May God lead you as you reflect upon His Goodness, Patience, Love and Mercy as you end 2020 and look into 2021 with a HOPE that only Jesus can give!

Linda

Aftermath, Herod- Evil Incarnate

This portion of the Christmas Story is not very pleasant. It shows how evil, greed, power and the thirst for absolute power can consume a person. It shows how selfish desires can cause irreparable damage to those around us. Matthew 2:16-18 tells of Herod’s reaction and subsequent actions when he heard that the Magi had not returned to tell him about the child born ‘king of the Jews’.

Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. 17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A cry was heard in Ramah—weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children,    refusing to be comforted,    for they are dead.”

Herod was an evil, self-centered, tyrannical dictator who wanted no one else to come between him and his reign. He saw the child who would be king as a personal threat to his power and throne. God protected Jesus and his family by sending them to Egypt to escape the reaches of Herod and the Magi He sent home by another route after appearing to them in a dream. There was no escaping the evil Herod showed by killing all the male babies under 2 in Bethlehem. The anguish and sadness brought upon the people of Bethlehem at his hand is unspeakable. You might ask the age old question, why God? Why did God allow this to happen? My only answer is that we as believers live in a sin-filled world. We have to cling to the goodness of God and that His purposes are just and bring goodness to us and glory to Him. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him”. 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.”

This action towards the innocents of Bethlehem shows the omniscient power of God to know the future as the prophecy in verse 18 from Jeremiah was given hundreds of years before. God knows the heart of mankind and the evil that our sin natures can cause. We have seen evil in the world century after century and the destruction it brings. We only need to remember the times of Noah, Judges and David in the Old Testament and those who plotted to kill Jesus, Paul, Stephen and Peter. It is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith and can rise above the desires and pressures of this sin-filled world. We can know God’s love, forgiveness and comfort even as the world struggles with sin that effects all the world around us. We can thank God for His eternal protection and salvation. We can know that in Him all is right. Take heart in these verses from Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Linda

Advent Shows Seekers Find Peace and Hope in Jesus!

The appearance of Gabriel and the heavenly host spurred the shepherds into action. They were curious to see this child of peace that would bring the favor of God upon all who believed in Him. Our story continues in Luke 2:15-20 “ When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”

Their encounter with the Christ child led them to tell others what the angel had said, “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12 They also told others what they had seen, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Their experience of seeing the majesty of God in His heavenly beings and the manifestation of His glory in the baby Jesus would have been life changing. It is no wonder at all that they left the stable and went back to work praising and glorifying God.

What do you do with your encounters with God? Do you discount them in unbelief or do you relish them in faith and turn them into praise? God desires that we seek Him like the shepherds did that evening in Bethlehem. Scripture tells us seeking God will bring results. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” David wrote in Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,” Solomon wrote in Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;” Jesus said in John 4:23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” An unknown author wrote in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Throughout scripture we are encouraged to seek God wholeheartedly.

Are you a seeker? Do you love to spend time in prayer and studying the Word of God? Do you love fellowship with other believers? Do you pursue God with your whole heart? I pray that this Advent you will be open to the Savior and come seeking Him with a newness of heart. He is waiting to bless you, draw you closer to Him and reward you with peace and hope. Paul put it this way in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. May you receive His blessings of peace and hope today!

Linda

Let it be Good News around your Table

This week’s Stream of Water from the Word is from 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 and these verses have a timely message for us. In this passage, Paul is reminding the Corinthians that he did not come to them with flowery words and great speeches, but with God’s truth, love and the gospel of Christ. “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,  I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Paul’s words are a reminder that God is the one who speaks through us when we talk about Jesus. God’s message of redemption for the world and the solution to our sin problem is Jesus. Just like Paul, we need to rely upon the Holy Spirit to give us the right words when He presents us with opportunities to witness about Jesus. Paul spoke plainly and boldly so as to tell others about His amazing Savior. What about you? Are you afraid to speak about Jesus for fear of rejection, misunderstanding, or apathy? The truth of Acts 1:8 is true today just as it was in Paul’s day. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He has appointed us as His witnesses and will give us words and opportunities to tell about Him. How can we tell others if we do not speak of Him? Paul also knew the truth of Romans 10:17 and was putting his faith into action. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

May you speak boldly of your Savior, Jesus Christ, as you gather around your table this Thanksgiving. Be it virtual or in person our words of witness need to be heard so others will know our Christ. Let your words be given with gentleness as you seek to witness for Him.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 6: God’s Word has Absolute, Eternal Truths

1 Peter 1:23-25 has a powerful message for us today. Peter was writing in this chapter about our Living Hope, which is Jesus, and he calls us in faith to live holy lives. He concludes his message with these powerful words. “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,  and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

God promises that my new imperishable life in Christ comes from a living, eternal savior. God also promises that His Word will never fade or fail but will stand forever, our eternal truth. We live in a world that is constantly changing in complexity and variability. Nothing is absolute in our world. But God is saying that His Word is eternal and the truths we find there are absolutely true, unchanging for all eternity. What a comfort that brings to our volatile lives. God and His Word are absolute truths we can count on now and forever. That is indeed good news!

Take heart from these words and their truths. Let the absolute truth of God’s Word and His eternal promises create in you a spirit of true thanksgiving today. Good news brings smiles, hope and thanksgiving that come from knowing God and trusting in His Word.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 4: The Lighted Pathway

Today’s verses from 1 John 1:5-7 cause our hearts and minds to lean in to Jesus with thanksgiving. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

These verses hold a promise from God: walking with Jesus puts us in fellowship with one another, brings purity from sin and places us on a lighted pathway in life. The light Jesus brings to our life shows us His truth and helps us to live in harmony with one another. Who doesn’t want to live without strife and turmoil in their relationships? Who doesn’t want to be clean, pure and presented holy before Holy God? Who doesn’t want to know that Jesus brings us harmony, peace, and assurance, so our lives can be stable and grounded when trials or troubles come? We do not live in a protected bubble but in a sin-filled world. Sin and its temptations are always around us and seek to lead us from the pathway of truth that we find in Jesus and His Word. Entanglements are Satan’s specialty as he seeks to keep us from the peace God truly desires for our lives.

I give thanks today for His light in my life, the purity that comes from knowing Jesus and His guidance. I can stand firmly rooted in God’s promises and His Word of truth. No doubting! God’s Word is true and Jesus is our Savior. Let Him shine His light of truth into your heart, your relationships and your future as you seek Him today with a heart of thanksgiving.

Linda

Are you Carefully Obeying God?

The stream of water we had for this week was Deuteronomy 31:39-32:47. This is a long song that God had Moses compose to remind the people of who He is, what He has done, what He has promised to do if they are obedient. Meditate on the words as you read. I have added a question or comment along to way to stimulate your thinking on how this song can apply to us today.

30 So Moses recited this entire song publicly to the assembly of Israel:

32 “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!
    Hear, O earth, the words that I say!
Let my teaching fall on you like rain;
How does God’s Word
    let my speech settle like dew.
affect you?
Let my words fall like rain on tender grass,
    like gentle showers on young plants.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
    how glorious is our God!
He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
Do you know who God is?
    Everything he does is just and fair.

He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
    how just and upright he is!

“But they have acted corruptly toward him;
    when they act so perversely,
are they really his children?
Do your actions each day
    They are a deceitful and twisted generation.
bring Him glory?
Is this the way you repay the Lord,
    you foolish and senseless people?
Isn’t he your Father who created you?
    Has he not made you and established you?
Remember the days of long ago;
    think about the generations past.
Are you passing on your
Ask your father, and he will inform you.
knowledge of God?
    Inquire of your elders, and they will tell you.
When the Most High assigned lands to the nations,
    when he divided up the human race,
he established the boundaries of the peoples
    according to the number in his heavenly court.

“For the people of Israel belong to the Lord;
    Jacob is his special possession.
10 He found them in a desert land,
Remember how God
    in an empty, howling wasteland.
has provided and protected.
He surrounded them and watched over them;
    he guarded them as he would guard his own eyes.
11 Like an eagle that rouses her chicks
    and hovers over her young,
so he spread his wings to take them up
    and carried them safely on his pinions.
12 The Lord alone guided them;
    they followed no foreign gods.
13 He let them ride over the highlands
    and feast on the crops of the fields.
He nourished them with honey from the rock
    and olive oil from the stony ground.
14 He fed them yogurt from the herd
    and milk from the flock,
    together with the fat of lambs.
He gave them choice rams from Bashan, and goats,
    together with the choicest wheat.
You drank the finest wine,
    made from the juice of grapes.

15 “But Israel soon became fat and unruly;
    the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed!
Then they abandoned the God who had made them;
    they made light of the Rock of their salvation.
16 They stirred up his jealousy by worshiping foreign gods;
    they provoked his fury with detestable deeds.
17 They offered sacrifices to demons, which are not God,
    to gods they had not known before,
Remember how you have
to new gods only recently arrived,
failed to follow Him.
    to gods their ancestors had never feared.
18 You neglected the Rock who had fathered you;
    you forgot the God who had given you birth.

19 “The Lord saw this and drew back,
    provoked to anger by his own sons and daughters.
20 He said, ‘I will abandon them;
Has God left you to pursue
    then see what becomes of them.
your own idols? Money,
For they are a twisted generation,
success, greed, knowledge.
    children without integrity.
21 They have roused my jealousy by worshiping things that are not God;
    they have provoked my anger with their useless idols.
Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people;
    I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles.
22 For my anger blazes forth like fire
    and burns to the depths of the grave.
It devours the earth and all its crops
    and ignites the foundations of the mountains.
23 I will heap disasters upon them
    and shoot them down with my arrows.
24 I will weaken them with famine,
Has God allowed calamity
    burning fever, and deadly disease.
to come into your life to
I will send the fangs of wild beasts
cause you to turn back to
    and poisonous snakes that glide in the dust.
Him?
25 Outside, the sword will bring death,
    and inside, terror will strike
both young men and young women,
    both infants and the aged.
26 I would have annihilated them,
    wiping out even the memory of them.
27 But I feared the taunt of Israel’s enemy,
    who might misunderstand and say,
“Our own power has triumphed!
    The Lord had nothing to do with this!”’

28 “But Israel is a senseless nation;
    the people are foolish, without understanding.
29 Oh, that they were wise and could understand this!
    Oh, that they might know their fate!
30 How could one person chase a thousand of them,
    and two people put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
Do not be lured away
    unless the Lord had given them up?
by false worthless gods.
31 But the rock of our enemies is not like our Rock,
    as even they recognize.
32 Their vine grows from the vine of Sodom,
    from the vineyards of Gomorrah.
Their grapes are poison,
    and their clusters are bitter.
33 Their wine is the venom of serpents,
    the deadly poison of cobras.

34 “The Lord says, ‘Am I not storing up these things,
    sealing them away in my treasury?
God knows those who oppose
35 I will take revenge; I will pay them back.
us and will take care
    In due time their feet will slip.
of them in due time.
Their day of disaster will arrive,
    and their destiny will overtake them.’

36 “Indeed, the Lord will give justice to his people,
    and he will change his mind about his servants,
when he sees their strength is gone
God is just.
    and no one is left, slave or free.
37 Then he will ask, ‘Where are their gods,
    the rocks they fled to for refuge?

38 Where now are those gods,
    who ate the fat of their sacrifices
    and drank the wine of their offerings?
Let those gods arise and help you!
    Let them provide you with shelter!
39 Look now; I myself am he!
Do you know and
    There is no other god but me
!
believe this truth?
I am the one who kills and gives life;
    I am the one who wounds and heals;
    no one can be rescued from my powerful hand!
40 Now I raise my hand to heaven
    and declare, “As surely as I live,
41 when I sharpen my flashing sword
    and begin to carry out justice,
I will take revenge on my enemies
    and repay those who reject me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
    and my sword will devour flesh—
the blood of the slaughtered and the captives,
    and the heads of the enemy leaders.”’

43 “Rejoice with him, you heavens,
    and let all of God’s angels worship him.
Rejoice with his people, you Gentiles,
    and let all the angels be strengthened in him.
For he will avenge the blood of his children;
    he will take revenge against his enemies.
He will repay those who hate him
Rejoice in Him and
    and cleanse his people’s land.”
trust Him.

44 So Moses came with Joshua son of Nun and recited all the words of this song to the people. 45 When Moses had finished reciting all these words to the people of Israel, 46 he added: “Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. 47 These instructions are not empty words—they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life in the land you will occupy when you cross the Jordan River.”

I pray that you and I will heed words of Moses’ song as they are words of life and prosperity, hope and regeneration and because they are centered on God’s promises to us as believers. God is a promise keeper and we can trust Him.

Blessings,

Linda

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