Wow! God loves me THAT much!

And the journey continues….I am intimidated by the book of Romans yet, the more I’ve studied it, the more I’ve grown to love and understand it. I have 2 favorite chapters in this complex book that speak to my heart. Today I’m focusing on Romans Chapter 5 later in another blog, I’ll get to Chapter 8. Here are the first 5 verses and verse 8 from Romans Chapter 5.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us…..but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

By chapter 5 Paul has reached a conclusion in his arguments as he uses the word therefore to begin this chapter. Because of what he has written before, he then concludes the following and what a conclusion it is! We are justified (declared not guilty of sin) by our faith in Jesus. We have peace of heart and soul because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Through faith in Jesus, we now have eternal hope and stand in a position of grace (unmerited favor) before God. Paul tells us that our character will change as we accept Jesus in our life! Knowing Christ brings a life of faith trials which Paul calls sufferings. The suffering we do for and with Christ produces character we could never achieve on our own. We will have endurance, hope and God’s love in our hearts. Even though we are sinners, we can be cleaned up and declared not guilty before God because of Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Wow!

I also chose verse 8 because it shows how undeserving I am. As a sinner, I cannot find a way to God but through Christ. God knew my sinful state and loved me anyway. He loved me enough to send Jesus to died for me. That is amazing love!

Paul continues on in verses 9-11 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Paul also concludes that since God has declared us not guilty of sin through our faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, we are new in character and no longer enemies of God. God is holy and cannot abide sin so faith in Jesus saves us and brings us into a relationship with God, reconciled to Him. God desires a relationship with you and me. So He made a way through Jesus for this reconciliation to take place.

I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love, His sacrifice on my behalf and the character changing process He has begun in me through faith in Jesus the Son. Let these words of life, love and hope sink deep into your soul today and be encouraged because you are loved by God and your faith in Jesus can and will transform you! Praise God!

Linda

On My! Titus is a Gem

And the journey continues…. into Titus. The book of Titus is a letter written by Paul to his young convert and coworker for Christ. They had traveled together preaching and teaching and when they came to Crete, Paul left Titus there to carry on the work of sharing the gospel. When I visited Crete recently, they still revere Titus and his work of bringing the gospel to their island.

Titus 2:11-14 “ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” The grace of God=Christ who came bringing salvation to all people. Through Christ we can be trained to reject godlessness and sin in our lives. We can wait expectantly for Jesus’ return knowing He has created us through faith to be His people! Thank you Jesus!

Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” God is so good. He knew us and our sin filled nature and sent Jesus anyway to save us and clean us inside and out. Now we are renewed in Jesus, redeemed and saved to be heirs of His kingdom forever! We serve and amazing Savior and God who truly loves us.

May you know that God loves you and has given you a way, through Christ, to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

May you know that you are redeemed, clean and filled with His Holy Spirit.

May you know that you are co-heirs with Christ and have hope of eternal life with Him.

May you know that Christ will return and bring us to be with Him for eternity!

Have a blessed day filled with this knowledge.

Linda

Seasoned with Salt and Prayer

As Paul ends this letter to the Colossians he wants to emphasize the importance of prayer and wise behavior towards others. Colossians 4:2-6 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Pray, pray, pray! Pray for yourselves and be sure to include thanksgiving. Remember, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thanksgiving is the place to start. Prayer and thanksgiving will establish an attitude of gratitude towards God for all He has done, is doing and will do in the future on your behalf. Next, pray for others that are serving the Lord as missionaries both near and far. Who do you know that is working serving others in your community? This includes your pastor and others serving in the church. Pray for their strength their opportunities to witness and tell others about the goodness of Christ and His salvation. Pray that their words would be clear and understood by those who hear the message. Pray that the message would be received and those hearing would come to know Christ. Paul consistently asks believers to pray for his own work for Christ that it might bear much fruit, so also we should pray for our brothers and sister who minister and live in our communities that the whole community might be saved.

Paul then admonishes us to be wise with our words and make the most of those God given opportunities to talk with believers and unbelievers about Christ. Look for those God appointments as I like to call them. When talking with unbelievers, don’t try to argue with them but be salt and light giving them words filled with grace and love. Tell them about your love for Jesus and the difference He has made in your life. I love 1 Peter 3:15 ” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Impetuous Peter had learned that you don’t beat someone over the head with the gospel but present the words of life with gentleness and respect. Being wise with our words shows love and grace towards others.

Take to heart Paul’s words to the Colossians as his God given wisdom is filled with grace and salt towards us too. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am commissioned to pray diligently, speak boldly with softness and proclaim Christ to the unbelieving world.

Linda

Your Roots, what do they cling to?

Paul continues to voice his concern for the Colossian Christians as he does not want them to be led astray by persuasive arguments of those in opposition to Christ. He wants them to know he is with them in spirit and desires they resist and stand firm in their faith. Colossians 2:4-8 “I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”

I love Paul’s straight forward way of talking about our need to be aware and on guard towards those that would seek to lead us astray into thoughts that are empty and meaningless. He zeros in on what we have in Christ in verse 7. Let your faith grow roots and have them firmly planted in Christ. Build your faith on Him, then it will be on a firm, resolute and unshakable foundation. This foundation is explained in Ephesians 2:19-22 “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 3:11 puts it very plainly, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”

Paul says the result of building our life on Christ and His truth is that our lives will then overflow with thankfulness. When we grasp the inheritance, love, forgiveness, and freedom that we have in Christ we will be eternally grateful. Paul wrote to young Timothy that coming to faith in Christ did exactly that for him. 1 Timothy 1:12-14 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Are you overflowing with grace and love because of your faith in Christ? Are you rooted and grounded in your faith? This is not something you get quickly but it grows over time as you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. The sanctification process of becoming more and more like Jesus begins at the moment of belief and continues growing throughout our life. It is truly a life changing process made possible only in Christ. Christ Alone is the reason for our change. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be rooted and grounded in Christ producing a life that is abundant and filled to overflowing with thanksgiving, hope and love. Choose Christ so you can stand steadfast and resolute as things change all around you and be overflowing with thankfulness.

Linda

Today’s blog is a milestone for me. By God’s grace I have written and posted 1,000 blog entries. It has been a growing process that has increased my faith and clarified my thinking about Christ. I can agree with Paul that standing on a firm foundation which is set in Christ Jesus fills my heart with overflowing gratitude and joy. Thank you Jesus for your love and sacrifice on my behalf!

You and Christ- is it spreading outward?

Colossian 1:6b tells us what the Colossian Christians did with the hope they received from Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Indeed, just as in the whole world the gospel is constantly bearing fruit and spreading [by God’s power], just as it has been doing among you ever since the day you first heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth [becoming thoroughly and deeply acquainted with it].” Amplified Bible

This verse shows the power of God to transform a world with the good news of Jesus. His death and resurrection turned the world upside down. The fruit he speaks of is the transformed lives of those followers that want to grow more and more like Jesus. They want to show His love to the world. John 13:34-45 tells us what happens when one embraces the Spirit of God “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” Love as the world had never known began to spread throughout the world. Just think, Jesus started with 12 disciples and then the news of the redemption, love, forgiveness and atonement of Jesus for the world began to spread. Amazing in a day with no internet, no phones or modern transportation, and yet God provided a way for the word of His Son to spread.

Who have you told lately about Jesus? Do you salt your conversations with words telling others of how God has blessed or guided you? How will someone know unless you tell or show them of God’s love? Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a living and vibrant grace-filled faith to share with the world.

Linda

Which do you need today? Grace, Peace, a Reminder of Sainthood or Faithfulness?

Yesterday we began this letter by examining who was writing, Paul, and by what authority, God’s will. Verse 2 continues the opening as Paul identifies who is receiving this letter.

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. Colossians 1:2

Paul first identifies them as saints. This term is used in scripture repeatedly to name those who believe in Jesus the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27 Psalm 145:10 “All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,  and all your saints shall bless you! Proverbs 2:7-8 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice  and watching over the way of his saints.” This seems an old fashioned term but when you ponder it, there is glory embedded with the term. We, as saints, reflect His glory to the world; His light in the darkness.

Paul also calls the believers in Colossae faithful. How would someone describe your faith in Christ? Are you faithful to the truths you find in the Bible? Do you read your Bible daily, pray regularly, and worship Him with a repentant and grateful heart? This time of Lent is one when we can take stock of where we are in our walk with Christ. We can question our devotion to Him, our faithfulness, our reliance upon Him and draw strength from His Word and encouragement through His Holy Spirit. It is a special time for reflection to help us grow deeper in love and dependence upon Almighty God.

Lastly, I want to mention the blessings Paul wished to bestow upon the readers. This blessing was not just for those in ancient Colossae but for us too. Grace is God’s unmerited favor and Peace a state of mind and being brought to us from Jesus regardless of our circumstances. What amazing truths these two words convey! Grace– I can trust His grace at all times. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “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.” There is sustaining power in God’s grace! Peace- John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” The peace Jesus gives will bring focus and hope not fear.

Such powerful words- saints, faithful, grace and peace. Let the truth of these soak into your soul today. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I, as a saint, can know and experience God’s grace and peace in my life because of His faithfulness to me.

Linda

Advent Shows Light and Salvation for All!

Just like after John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph had a naming and circumcision ceremony on the eighth day. They named him Jesus as that was the name the angel gave them even before His birth. Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21 Then the Jewish law required the couple to wait 40 days before presenting their child in the temple for dedication to the Lord. On Jesus’ dedication day God prepared yet another confirmation for Mary and Joseph that their child was from God. Here is their encounter with Simeon and his words about Jesus.

Luke 2:25-35 “ At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
    as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
    and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Wow! What confirmation from this godly man that Jesus was going to provide salvation for all people and bring light into the world. Bringing salvationTitus 2:11 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” and Hebrews 5:9 “In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” Bringing lightJohn 8:12 “Jesus said to them, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” and 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Simeon also blessed them and spoke words for them to treasure in preparation for the future that God has planned for their child. Saving the world and giving light to all was not going to be an easy pathway as He would face opposition and many hearts would be effected, even theirs.

What encouragement do you find in this story of Jesus’ dedication? It confirms to me that God is Sovereign and Omniscient. He knows all that will happen and had a plan to redeem mankind. It shows God is Merciful, Gracious and Compassionate as He sent His Son to bring light into a dark world and provide salvation for all. God is loving and keeps His promises just as He kept his word to Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Savior. He also prepared Mary and Joseph for the coming life their son would lead, one that would to be filled with godly purpose. God knows each of us as He did Simeon, Joseph and Mary. He knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Reflect today on how God’s timing has been perfect in your life. How has God fulfilled his promise in Romans 8:28 to you? “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I can attest to God’s hand in my life even in the darkest times. Even those tough times produced growth and experiences that God has used many times over to help others, to build my faith and produce results I had never envisioned or dreamed possible. God is indeed Sovereign and can and will use all things for my good and His glory as I walk with Him.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 18: A Recipe for Renewal

Today’s verses are some of my favorites as they give me a clear picture of who God is, His power and might, and they list some of the reasons for my thankfulness. David’s psalm resounds with praise to God because He is so thankful for what God has done for him.

Psalm 103:1-5 Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

David desires to praise God with all his being because God has forgiven his sins. David had a heart for God but also was chief among sinners. He lied, cheated, committed adultery, stole another man’s wife and then had the man killed. David knew the forgiveness of God from first hand experience. He had also experienced spiritual healing, and seen physical healing. He had seen and felt God’s rescue and protection as he fled from Saul for 14 years even though he was anointed by God to be king of Israel. He had experienced the love and compassion of God and the satisfaction of knowing Him as His God. David had known the renewal only God can bring into his life when he was desperate, alone, forsaken and depressed. Knowing what he knew about God and being fully aware of what God had done for him, his only response was PRAISE!

What about you? What do you know about God? How has He dealt with you? Have you experienced His Grace, His Providence, His Redeeming power, His Love, His Protection, His Joy, ….? Remember, and let these thoughts lead you to join David in praising Almighty God today. He is worthy of all our praises.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 7: God’s grace and mercy

It could be said that attitude and actions are an essential part of our walk of faith. Our attitude and actions towards God and our fellow man show the true nature of our faith. In today’s verses, Jonah has had a readjustment of his attitude towards God and it has changed his future course in life.

Jonah realized placing his faith in worthless things, including his own pursuits and desires, was futile. The only hope he had was in the Lord who always brings salvation. He was now willing to shout and proclaim with a thankful voice that God is the Lord. What about you? Are you like Jonah experiencing an attitude adjustment caused by circumstances of your own making? Are you running from God or trying to put up barriers to protect yourself? Jonah turned back to God with thankful heart.

God told Jonah to go to pagan Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. Jonah did not want to go so he decided to run. He caught a ship leaving port and got onboard. They were stuck by a terrible storm and Jonah revealed to the crew he was running away from God and told them to toss him overboard. In the depths to the sea, he was swallowed by a big fish. After 3 days in the belly of the big fish, he prayed to God with a repentant heart. The circumstances reshaped his thinking and attitudes and lead him to pray as he realized it was wrong to run and to not do what the God he believed in asked him to do. His willful attitude was changed. Jonah 2:8-9 “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

God showed his grace and mercy to Jonah by saving him. He deserved to be lost at sea, BUT GOD saved him. Do you see God’s grace in your life today? Jonah responded with thanksgiving and praise. Will you praise Him with a thankful heart today for how God has rescued you? Take heart from Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” and Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

Blank white paper mock up on white wood background – filter effect

Thank you Jesus for saving me and changing the course of my life. Will you join me in thanksgiving and praise for God changing the course of your life?

Linda

Facing the World through Thankfulness

As this pandemic has endured longer than I ever imagined possible back in late February and March, I have been in need of words of encouragement. I focused on the book of Philippians as Paul focused on joy in that letter. Other areas where I am in need of encouragement are hope, assurance, fellowship, diligence in prayer, strength from the Word and peace. As I reflect upon each of these, I am stuck by how each will come to me more readily if I develop and mature my attitude towards thankfulness. In future blogs I will delve into these topics as they relate to thankfulness and see what encouragement God has for me and hopefully you from His Word.

Each day during November, I will seek to leave you with a verse or verses about thankfulness and how it brings us all the things we need. Today I will leave you with the verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “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. This is my go to verse this year as I face the difficulties of isolation, fear, helplessness, and even regret. Knowing that whatever may come, God has my back and has enough grace to cover me. That gives me hope and I am thankful for His wonderful care and love. Knowing that God has this and that in my weakness, He can be made strong helps me to develop an attitude of thankfulness for His complete control and sovereignty!

May you be lifted up today and let’s look forward to a November filled with Thankfulness and power, through the name of Jesus.

Linda