3rd Sunday of Lent, Jesus did it All!

This week again we have an amazing list of benefits for believers through faith in our risen Lord Jesus. As you mediate on these truths from God’s Word in His letter to the Colossians, let the revelation of who Christ is and what He accomplished on the cross sink into your mind. Let it produce in you a greater sense of gratitude and hope.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can know God the Father who is exactly represented by Jesus the Son and who is fully God, Creator and totally Sovereign over all creation. Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

I can rely on Sovereign Jesus to hold all things together for me in my life. Colossians 1:16b-17 “all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life. Colossians 1:18-20 “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled  everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

I am redeemed and reconciled to Almighty God so I have His hope-filled love for eternity. Colossians 1:21-22 “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

I can proclaim the Good News of love and redemption and hold onto a faith that is strong and unwavering through the power of Christ in me. Colossians 1:23 “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by His blood and a citizen of His heavenly kingdom through faith in Jesus . Colossians 1:24-27 “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory”.

I pray these truths will lead you to fall deeper in love with God and lead you to praise! Here is our praise Psalm for this week:

Psalm 105:1-5 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,

Have a blessed day and week to come,

Linda

Is this You? Unwavering in Faith and Bold in Speech?

Paul has spent many verses in Chapter 1 of Colossians explaining the supremacy of Christ the Son and the benefits of faith in Him. In the last verse of Chapter 1, he reminds us that all those benefits of faith come to the faithful. He is not suggesting if we fail in our faithfulness that we would lose our salvation but that the true benefit of a daily walk with Jesus would be lost to us. Colossians 1:23 “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

Each of us, like Paul, are commissioned to tell others of the Good News of Jesus. Matthew 28: 18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Accepting this commission from Christ, leads us to speak boldly about Christ and His Good News for the world. Do you hear yourself speaking boldly for Christ? Likewise, we are instructed to stand firm, unwavering, in the truth of the gospel. The gospel is the truth that Christ came and died on the cross and rose from the dead so that we might be reconciled to God and have a relationship with Him for eternity. What better news could there ever be? Through Christ we are new creations! We are loved and cherished by God. So our job as believers is to tell others this good news and to stand firm in His truth.

What happens if we don’t stand firm? James says without the wisdom and knowledge of God we will be tossed and pulled in many ways resulting in not knowing what is right and wrong, being unstable in our faith. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8 Are you plagued by indecision or errant thoughts? Give them to God and ask Him for wisdom and stability in your faith. Dive into His Word and learn about Him. He will keep your faith stable and on a steady course. He will give you the words to speak boldly for Him and remain steadfast in your faith!

Be encouraged today and stand firmly rooted and grounded in your faith. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Let us hold to our faith and proclaim the Good News to a hurting and lost world. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can proclaim the Good News of love and redemption and hold onto a faith that is strong and unwavering through the power of Christ in me.

Linda

Be Thankful Someone Shared the Good News with You! Praise God!

How would you describe your church leaders, your pastors or priests? In Colossians 1:7-8 Paul described who was doing what in the Colossian church. “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.” Paul praised Epaphras for his faithful delivery of the gospel message and how he communicated their love for each other to him. From his prison cell, Paul was able to understand the work the Holy Spirit was doing among them through Epaphras’ genuine and faith-filled words.

What a wonderful example of God’s work among believers. Epaphras was a converted pagan who loved the Lord Jesus and wanted others to share in this love, forgiveness and salvation. He was serving in the cause of Christ as he told others of Jesus and showed them God’s love. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was at work there in Colossae. What about you and where you worship and serve? Is your service done there out of habit or are you serving so you can show Jesus to others? Is your service faithfully done or is it haphazardly executed as time allows? What should be our motivation for serving and telling others about Jesus? Several things come to my mind: so others can experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus, so others will have eternal life in heaven, so the quality of their life here on earth will be abundant and filled with hope and love that only God can give, so that others will come to know God in a greater way, so that others will glorify God in their faith and life. The good news of Christ is indeed good news and transforms the life of each one who embraces and believes. Shouldn’t we want to share this wonderful transforming news with others? Epaphras, Paul, James, Titus, Peter…. and the person who told you about Jesus all shared their love of Jesus. Each one of us comes to faith through the telling of Jesus’ story somehow. Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

As you meditate today on this passage, give praise and thanks for the ones who led you to faith, in my case it was a Sunday School teacher. Give praise and thanks for those who faithfully give out the Word of God each week at your church. By doing so they are helping you to grow and mature in your Christian faith. Epaphras did both of these for the church he planted in Colossae and Paul was eternally grateful for his work in the name of Jesus. Let us give thanks today for those who brought us to faith and those who endeavor to show us areas where we can grow more and more like Jesus as we seek to know Christ and walk with Him daily.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others.

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

Joy in Standing with Christ

Paul knows by experience that the truth of Christ bring opposition.  He is trying to encourage the Philippian believers by stating the facts about their shared work for Jesus. Telling others about salvation, redemption, eternal life, heaven…. are all things in which the believer rejoices.   The unbeliever sees them as a pronouncement of coming destruction and fights against those who proclaim these gospel truths.   In Philippians Philippians 1 271:27-30, Paul says we need to stand up for Christ and walk in a manner worthy of His calling.  This is a life lived fearlessly for Christ knowing He alone is Savior, Redeemer, and Sovereign over all things.

27 “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.”

philippians 1 29Paul’s conclusion is that knowing and walking with Christ each day is a privilege entrusted to us by faith and with that comes suffering.  Know it, accept it and then lean on Him.  Remember you can take strength in and from fellow believers as you stand together in the cause of Christ.  Here are a few verses that help with the concept of suffering and why it comes with the job of being a believer.  (I have printed them at the bottom.)  I pray they help you to put in perspective what a privilege we have to suffer with Christ and the bigger purpose He has for us in suffering.  James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 4:14 and Acts 5:40-41.

My joy is increased:

  • I do not need to be fearful in my daily walk.   Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • I am in this with life with victorious Christ and fellow believers are at my side.
  • Remembering Christ sacrifice for me, it is a privilege to suffer for Him.

Let your joy in serving Christ fill you today.

philippians 1 28Linda

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.”

1 Peter 4:14 “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

Acts 5:40-41 “and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”

 

Do you speak boldly? Maybe you are under prayed?

Ephesian 6:19 -20 is a plea from Paul for prayer support from the Ephesian believers.  He desires them to use their privilege of intercession to lift him up before God. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.”    In the previous verse (18) he had extorted the believers to use their weapon of prayer to intercede for each other in regard to their  faith, character, etc. and on all occasions.  He is asking that the believers support his ministry and give him the courage to speak boldly,  especially since he was in prison.  I find it encouraging that Paul, one of the most eloquent writers and speakers for Jesus of all time, knew he needed the power pray could bring to his ministry.  He needed the right words for bold speech and explanation of the gospel message.  Like Paul, we should never take for granted that we ‘know ‘ it all and can explain all the essential doctrines of the faith.   We are nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit and Paul knew that.   We need to take a lesson from the Apostle Paul and seek prayer support for our ministries.  Bathe them in prayer before you go out, while speaking, and after wards.  Pray, pray, pray!   

ephesians 6 19Who do you know that is in the need of prayer for their ministry of service?   Sunday School teachers need it, Pastors need it, Worship leaders need it, Church leaders need it, …..  we all stand in the need of prayer to be able to go out and give out the message of hope in Jesus to a hurting world.    For my first book, Fearless Living, I claimed Isaiah 55:11 “so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire  and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   God promises that giving out His Word will not return isaiah_55_11empty but will accomplish His purposes.  A great promise to claim!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be confident that God will hear my prayers and that giving out His Word will accomplish His purposes.

Linda

 

 

The Cross = a privilege to show others our Savior

Today’s passage in Ephesians 3:7-11 gives us a glimpse into the true heart of Paul and his motivating character.  Let these words soften your heart towards the hard working saint as you picture his struggle for Christ.

“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.   Paul realizes that God chose him specifically on the Road to Damascus (see Acts 9).  Through His might and power,  he was transformed into one who professed and proclaimed the name and fame of Jesus instead of persecuting Him.

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone  this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.  Paul humbly professes that he feels unworthy of God’s grace and mercy and relishes the privilege of revealing God’s plan of redemption through Christ for all mankind. 

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.   Paul sees that God intends that all believers are shown God’s wisdom and eternal plan through the knowledge and work of Christ.  Then all believers, the church, will share that wisdom and knowledge with others.

ephesians 3 7Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the deadwe are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world.   Just like Paul, we will be humbled by the magnitude of this privilege when we realize we are God’s chosen messengers to the world.  It is an amazing responsibility.  Paul counted himself favored to be chosen by God to tell others.

What about you?  Do you consider it a privilege to tell others about Jesus?   Are you humbled by the fact that God chose you?  Take a moment today and thank God for choosing you and empowering you with His Holy Spirit so you are able to do all He calls you to do.

Linda

The Cross = a family plan filled with blessings in Christ

Chapter 3 of Ephesians begins with Paul telling us that he is a minister for Christ among the Gentiles,  and that he is charged with presenting the mystery of the gospel.  This mystery was not fully known or understood until Christ came bringing His message ephesians 3 6of redemption for all.  It was not completely exposed until the coming of the Holy Spirit which would indwell and empower believers to spread the gospel to all mankind.   Paul’s instruction about the mystery of God’s plan ends with Ephesians 3:6, “ And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”   

A few salient truths emerge in this verse:    God’s plan is open to  everyone, the message of being in God’s family through faith in Jesus is Good News!, as the family of God we are all in this together as His children (brothers and sisters in Christ), and we all can share in the blessing promised to us by Jesus (salvation, heavenly home, indwelling Holy Spirit, access to the Father, justification, sanctification, …..).   What a glorious list of truths that we can know and be assured of through our faith in Jesus.   Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  The mystery of God’s plans for redeeming mankind are yes in Christ!

Ephesians 1 3 ImBlessedLet these truths impact your life today as you speak with others and seek to serve them in the name of Christ.  Here is a great verse to remind us of the blessings we have in Christ from Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”  

Have a wonderful day!

Linda

P.S.  Please pray for the health and safety of the people of the world and that this crisis will turn many to Christ as their source of hope and life.

 

God’s Power in our Lives!

Our story of Advent began even before Gabriel approached Mary and Joseph as it was in the mind of God from the beginning of time.  The arrival of the Messiah, one who would save mankind from their sins, was told throughout the Old Testament.  Scripture also mentioned one who would come before this Messiah, Savior, and prepare the way for His arrival.   Today in Luke 1:11-17 we find two people, Zechariah and Elizabeth who were consider devout and blameless (verse 6).   This didn’t mean they were sinless, but that God recognized their devotion and love for Him.  They had been married many years and had no children.  Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth his wife was called barren.  They were both considered old, and she was beyond child bearing age.

Zechariah was serving in the temple and an angel appeared to him.  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”  The angel told Zechariah their prayers for a child had been heard and would be answered with a son he was to name John.  Then the angel continued and told him about this unusual child, what he would be like and what purpose God had for him.  “He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

luke 1 13Can you imagine Zechariah and Elizabeth’s surprise at hearing this news?  Their prayers had been heard and the answer was forthcoming.  It was not only their prayers but the prayers of the nation of Israel for a Savior, Messiah, that would to come and save them from their sins.  Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son would go before this coming holy one and prepare the way for Him.  What honor and joy they must have felt!

How do we see God in this portion of our Advent story?  As I began yesterday, knowing that God would hear my cry for understanding through His Word so Zechariah and Elizabeth were assured by Gabriel that their prayers had been heard for a child.  They had prayed for years for a child to raise and love.  God had chosen them to parent this coming one who would proclaim the Messiah.  What joy they must have felt at knowing God heard their prayers and that they would have a child.  On a bigger scale they would have understood that they would all be part of God’s  plan for the redemption of mankind.

This reveals that God is accessible to us in prayer.  He hears us and responds in His own way and in His own time.  All God’s plans are for His glory and our good.  I also see God’s infinite grace in revealing His plan to them, showing them how He was going to use them GodsGraceand their son.  God did not need to tell them all these things but showed them His grace in revealing it to them.  Grace is God showing us kindness or favor we do not deserve.  One does not earn grace, it is freely given by God.   Psalm 84:11 says “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;  no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”  We also see God’s ability to know the future and have all things under His control, Sovereign.  His supernatural power to provide an impossible child for Zechariah and Elizabeth also shows His love and care for us as individuals.  

May you see our Accessible, Gracious, Loving, Caring and Sovereign God at work in your life today.

Linda

Good News for you and me! Shout it out!!

In this next portion of scripture I envision the angels as they announce the arrival of our Savior to the shepherds, or Paul as he preaches about the ‘good news’ of the gospel.  Like many prophecies it has already been fulfilled and yet there is one fulfillment still future to us.

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountainsgood news
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
 “Your God reigns!”

Scholars feel the first fulfillment of God’s return to Jerusalem (Zion) was when His people returned from captivity in Babylon.  Nehemiah led the group back to Jerusalem with the blessing and provisions of King Artaxerxes.  See the books of Nehemiah and Ezra for the full telling of their return, opposition, rebuilding  of the walls and eventually the temple.  The second fulfillment of this prophecy of good news being proclaimed in Zion comes through Jesus.  He proclaimed the ‘good news’ of the kingdom.  Jesus read the words in Isaiah as told in Luke 4:18 ““The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,  to set the oppressed free,”  He then in verses 20-21 Luke records, “Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Jesus knew the gospel or good news he preached was to bring salvation and deliverance for all who believed.  The final fulfillment of this prophecy is still future to us.  It will be when Christ returns triumphantly to Zion, proclaiming the good news of His return and reign over all the earth.  Revelation 19:6 “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”  What a glorious time that will be!

The prophecy tells of good news- good tidings, that salvation is available to all who believe.  Jesus’ coming brought hope of restoration in our relationship with God and freedom from the bondage of sin.  Paul reasoned with the Jews in Antioch “Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39   Again in Romans 6:-6-7 and 18 Paul explains this freedom and our new view of righteousness this freedom brings. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that romans 6 18we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.  “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”   The good news of the gospel brings restoration and hope,  and that is good news indeed!

Who can you tell of the good news of Jesus this Christmas? 

Linda 

Messiah tells this scripture one way.  The traditional Christmas carol proclaims the good news too.  This one is just fun and makes me smile.