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

Sanctified? Called? What about you?

As a church we have completed reading Deuteronomy and are beginning 1 Corinthians. I am looking forward to our selections as we wade into the streams God has for us in His Word.

1 Corinthians begins with a typical greeting from the writer, the Apostle Paul, to the believers in Corinth. This was a busy city that bustled with commerce of goods, services and ideas. Many of ideas were in direct conflict with the new doctrines presented in the gospel and Paul uses this letter format to instruct, lead and encourage this early church.

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul begins by reminding them of his commission and call to preach the truth about Jesus. He reminds the believers that they are all sanctified in Jesus and also have a calling. As I meditated upon these facts this week, I thought about my own sanctification and call to faith in Jesus. Do I feel sanctified? The dictionary defines sanctification as being made holy, consecrated and set apart by God. That means that God has set me apart and made me holy through the blood of Jesus. Am I acting like one that is set apart in holiness? Do I take time to realize that God has a plan and a purpose for me as a believer? Through my faith in Jesus, I am to be a light for Him in this world, just as the Corinthians were to be lights of hope and truth in their pagan society. Do I feel called? By virtue of the fact that I profess belief in Jesus, I have made the decision to follow Him- that is my calling. Following Jesus can lead in many different ways and each is unique to us. I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God knows just how He will use each one of us. We just need to be open and willing to follow Him wherever and whenever He leads. Are you willing?

Lastly, Paul sincerely wanted the believers to know that he wanted them blessed with grace and peace from God. Do we seek the grace and peace of Jesus towards our fellow believers? Unity of believers was important in Paul’s day and is as essentially important today. We need to stand together for truth, showing grace and peace towards others.

Blessings as we delve into Corinthians together. I have attached some photos of ancient Corinth which was an amazing site to visit.

Linda

Signed, Sealed and Delivered- 1st Century Style

Ephesians 6 21 conclusionMy plan to blog through the entire book of Ephesians during Lent was off by only 1 day.  Here are the concluding verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

21 “To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.

23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 6:21-24

What did Paul send to his friends that lived in Ephesus?   He sent an actual person to deliver the letter.  Besides the written words of Paul, they would have Tychicus to talk to about Paul, so they could personally find out how he was doing physically, the conditions he was living under, how his ministry was going, etc.  All of this Paul knew would be an encouragement to his friends.  Then he ends with a final blessing to all who read this letter-  peace, love filled with faithfulness and eternal grace (God’s undeserved favor) upon all who believe and follow Jesus.  Each of us can receive Paul’s blessing and know that he meant the peace, love, and grace to be ours in Jesus, too.

ephesians 6 24Paul’s letter started with praise and thanksgiving for the faith of the Ephesian  believers and ended with his desire that they continue to walk in faith filled with Jesus’ love and peace for themselves and towards others.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be blessed by His peace, love and eternal grace and I can share these blessings with others in His name.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

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