Our Lives Matter to God

In today’s passage Paul exhorts believers to be wise, make the most of every opportunity to witness for Christ, be thoughtful, temperate with our drinking, filled with the Holy Spirit and always have an attitude of thankfulness.  Does that describe you? 

ephesians 5 15So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and Ephesians 5 20hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Ephesians 5:15-20

Do you look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus?  Are you prone to overindulgence or letting addictions control your actions? Or do you rejoice with other Christians in singing, worship and studying together to bring praise and honor to God.  Are you thankful in all circumstances?  The pressures of life pile upon us each day, and it is how we handle those pressures that counts.  Do you turn to God for help, assurance or courage?   Or do you try to go it alone with an ‘I can do it attitude’?  Dependence upon God is not weakness but an opportunity for His grace to abound even 2Corinthians 12 -more.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Our weaknesses allow Him to show His strength through us.  His grace, his undeserved favor, is enough to cover all situations.

Paul is serious about how we live our lives and the impact we  have upon those around us for both believers and non- believers.  It matters to God how we live and work in the lifemattersworld.  It matters to Him as He desires the best for us which is only available through Christ.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, how I live my life for Him matters.

Let His grace abound in your life today as you strive to glorify Him in all you say and do.

Linda

The Cross = oneness and giftedness in Christ!

Ephesians 4:4-7 is a beautiful passage to be cherished by believers.  We are all called to be a part of God’s family and share in what we have in Christ,  and yet God sees us as epheisans 4 4-7individuals with different needs.

“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.   There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all,   who is over all, in all, and living through all.  However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.”

God,  the creator,  who is Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient  is our Heavenly Father.   He is in everything we do, everywhere we go and in every action we take.  We are to be in His presence daily, walking with Him and letting His Holy Spirit guide and direct us.  I love the fact that we are individuals before God.  He gave us special gifts through Christ when we became believers.  Each one of us is seen as useful and productive for the kingdom and are given gifts so we can successfully work and live for Him.

Do you feel isolated or a part of the body of Christ?   Are you connected in meaningful ways to other believers?  What about your gifts?  Are you using your God given talents to accomplish work for the Lord?  Lent is a time of reflection.  Ponder what your gifts may be, read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 to seek clarity about gifts, think about the things you do for others in Jesus’ name- what brings you the most joy and peace?   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.

ephesians 4 7May you be lifted up as you pray and meditate on the power of God’s family in your life and your gifts.  Be encouraged as God has special gifts for each of us though the grace of Christ!

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

Second Sunday of Lent, 2020

This first full week of Lent we have uncovered some amazing truths.     Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave:  we can go directly to God in prayer, Ephesians 1:15-16,   we can experience His Holy Spirit within us, Ephesians 1:18-19,  we are connected with Him and to all other believers, Ephesians 1:20-23,  we are no longer slaves to sin and will not suffer God’s wrath,  Ephesians 2:1-3, we are saved by grace, Ephesians 2:4-7, and we are God’s masterpieces, Ephesians 2:8-10.    I pray these truths will seep into your soul and cause you to trust God more and more and that they will add knowledge to your faith in Him.  We serve an amazing, grace-filled, loving God!

Let us praise God together today:  Psalm 100 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

psalm-100Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Linda

“Masterpieces” by God

ephesians 2 8I love today’s verses in Ephesians 2:8-10.   They bring renewed hope, purpose and clarification from God showing His great love, generosity, planning and sovereignty.  I particularly like the New Living Translation as it brings added clarity to the passage.      “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For ephesians 2 10we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

What hope we have because we believe in Jesus!  We are assured that we don’t have to try and ‘earn’ our way into heaven.  God promises us that there is nothing we can do now or in the future to earn our salvation.  It is purely a gift from our gracious God.  God loves us and we are important to Him.  We are His masterpieces.  He loves us and has prepared good works for us to do in His name.  There are many scriptures that confirm these facts:

John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”   His grace is perfectly complete, giving us all we need.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Salvation is a free gift, not earned.

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.   Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”   God specifically created each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”   God’s plans are complete and for my good, I can place my hope in them.

James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?   As a believer, genuine faith will cause me to seek to do good works for Jesus.

We can cling to these verses from our loving and gracious God knowing we are here with a purpose by His design.  We can trust His sovereignty in all things.   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Have a blessed day as you prayerfully considerGod’s grace towards you, His sovereignty over your life and the good works He has lovingly prepared for you.

Linda

But God! Thankfully, His grace abounds towards us!

Yesterday, Paul reminded us of our state of sinfulness before knowing Christ in Ephesians 2:1-3.  epheisans 2 4 but-godIn today’s verses, Paul brings us hope that through the mercy of God we were not left in that horrible state, BUT GOD!    We can be totally encouraged by our present and future!   Ephesians 2:4-7  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”   

Blank white paperWow!!! In His mercy, God intervened and sent Jesus to die for our sins and be raised from the dead.  Through His act of love, He offered salvation through faith in Jesus.  It was totally God.  He alone could save us from our sin, and we did or can do nothing to earn His love.  We can’t be good enough or work hard enough to make God love or save us- it is solely through His grace- God’s unmerited favor towards us.   Paul tells us God’s plans did not stop with salvation,  but He desires to have us dwell with Him in eternity in heavenly places so He can show us His amazing grace and kindness up close and personal.   Amazing!

I am so thankful that God intervened.  Romans 5:8 confirms this truth “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Sinful man would be a hopelessly lost but for God.    Does that fact make you thankful?  Do you feel loved by God?   Can you feel the grace of Jesus in your lifeJohn 1:14, 16 “And the john 1 16Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”    

Through the power of Jesus’  indwelling Holy Spirit, we are filled with His grace each day.  Live today like you believe you are filled with His grace and love.  Look for His gracious hand of protection and favor as you go through this day.   When you see it or feel it, raise your voice in praise to Him!  You will be amazed by God’s grace and love.

Linda

Travel with me to Ephesus this Lent

IMG_3519
Ancient forum and roadway where Paul would have walked and preached.

Walk with me during Lent through the book of Ephesians as we meditatively think about all that we have and are in Christ.   Let’s look at the unity of the body of believers growing there as Paul preached and taught for 2 years.  Later John also came to Ephesus and lived among the believers.  We will see the aspects of who we are in Christ, what place the body of believers called the church is to God and finish with the wonderful words about the armor available to us in Christ.  Each day we will see the amazing provisions and position we have because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead.

As we begin this Ash Wednesday, let’s look at Ephesians 1:1-2.  Paul introduces himself in the letter, tells who he’s writing to and pronounces a preliminary greeting that is typical of his writing.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Put yourself in Ephesus and become one of the believers who received this letter from the Apostle Paul.  He is addressing you as a saint, a faithful believer and he is sending greetings of grace and peace from God.  Do you think of yourself as a saint?  The New Testament repeatedly refers to believers as ‘saints’.  He also attributes faithfulness to their walk of faith.  How would you describe your daily walk with Jesus?  Are you faithful?  Paul also sends you grace,  which is God’s unmerited favor,  and His peace.  What precious gifts these are.  How will you use or experience God’s favor today?  Will you rest in His peace?   As Ephesians opens we see that because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be His saints and faithfully, walk in His grace and experiencing His peace.  Praise God!

Walk with me towards the cross, contemplating our sinfulness and His blameless character.  Join me in daily meditation and prayer for these coming 40 days of repentance and focus on who God desires us to be because of Jesus and His sacrifice.

IMG_3522
Paul would have stood on the library steps surrounded by enormous stone work, telling of the might and power of Jesus.

Let’s journey towards the cross together.

Linda

#9 Practicing Devotion to God- by relying upon His Grace

 What is Grace? It is defined as God’s unmerited favor towards us.   We did nothing and can do nothing to deserve His favor.  It is something that God gives us freely by faith in Jesus from the depth of His love for us.  Scripture teaches us that God’s grace is always sufficient and because God is omnipotent He will never run out of grace.  2Corinthians 12-92 Corinthians 12:9  is one of my go to verses for power, strength and assurance about God’s grace.  Paul recalls the words of Christ to him,  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”    God graciously gives us what we need in our weakness and brings glory to Himself by showing His power in our lives.   I cling to the sufficiency of His grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”   We are saved by grace_alone_770x280His grace, certainly not by anything we have done or will do.  We cannot be good enough, clean enough or pure enough on our own. Salvation is a gracious gift of God given to us through our faith in Jesus.  He saves us by grace and graciously uses us to do  His good works.  He could do everything himself,  but He graciously allows us to participate for our good and His glory.

Hebrews 4:16 adds one other dimension to His grace towards us.   Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   Because of our faith in Jesus, our high priest, and His work on the cross, we have access to God and can approach Him in prayer.  When we do, we are assured that we will find grace and mercy in our times of need.  There is never a time that God is not with me and I can always know that He will meet my needs with grace and mercy.  What a blessed hope!

GodsGraceMay you grow to trust in His grace, lean into and depend upon His grace and let His grace give you Hope as you draw near to Him with a heart of love and devotion.

Linda

I pray you have been blessed as  much as I have by going through these 9 practical ways to show our loyalty and devotion to God.  We can practice devotion to God by:  recalling His attributes, remembering His good works towards us, relating to Him in prayer, reading and meditating on His Word, resting in our identity in Christ,  repenting regularly, responding to the world biblically, remembering our Savior and relying upon His grace.  May you remember to incorporate these into your life on a daily basis and receive His blessings!

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

Are you thankful? For how long???

psalm 30 12You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

David described his state of thanksgiving as being eternal in Psalm 30:11-12 .  Why was he going to be thankful forever?  Earlier in the Psalm David said God had lifted him out of the pit, saved him from his enemies, healed him physically and spiritually, had shown him forgiveness and favor.  David had experienced God’s forgiveness as he mourned Romans 4 8over his sins.   In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32  ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”  Experiencing God’s forgiveness, seeing that God had covered his sins and that his sins would never be used against him in judgement made David eternally thankful and filled him with joy.

What about you?  Have you experienced God’s hand lifting you out of despair or trouble, has He rescued you from your enemies or from a really bad situation?  Has God touched you physically or spiritually to heal you?  Have you been given favor by God in blessings you did not expect and in no way deserved?  God had shown himself faithful to David,  and David recognized this.  His responds was eternal thanks that was filled with joy.  What is your response to God’s grace and forgiveness in your life?

GraceandGratitudeBegin today to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving that is based on God’s grace and forgiveness.  You will experience joy from now to eternity.

Linda