Happy Thanksgiving from the Heart

As I conclude this year’s Thanksgiving month of thanks, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! May the day be filled with thanks to the God who provides all we have and need. I chose as today’s verses Colossians 3:15-17. Let the Word of God bring to mind the many things you have to be thankful for and to create in you a growing attitude of gratitude towards Almighty God.

15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Have a blessed day thanking your heavenly Father, thanking Jesus, and thanking His indwelling Holy Spirit. Let your praises of Thanks be a sweet aroma towards Him.

Linda

Our Richness Abounds Because of HIM!

As we begin this last week before Thanksgiving, let us turn our thanks completely to God. He is the source of all good things as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 103: 1-5.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good

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

The psalmist admonishes us to:

** praise the God for who He is, was and will always be!

**To not forget what God has done for me-REMEMBER His great works (my salvation being the first on the list!)

**To know with assurance that God forgives sin and heals. He is Jehovah-Rapha the one who heals both physically, spiritually and emotionally.

**To thank Him for his redemption from the pits of life in this world and the promise of eternity with Him crowned with His love and mercy.

**To Him who satisfies our needs with His goodness and renews us daily in spirit so that we always feel young in Him.

Let your thanks abound today as you meditate on all you have in and through Father God, Jesus the Son and His Holy Spirit. We are rich indeed!

Linda

A New Heart and Spirit = Thanks to Jesus

Today’s verse is 1 Chronicles 16:35-36

“Save us, O God of our salvation,
    and gather and deliver us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.
36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”

This scene takes place when David was rejoicing at the arrival of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. The ark was the object containing the mercy seat on top and inside the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod budding rod and a jar of manna. All these objects were precious to the Israelites and reminded them tangibly of their unseen God’s provision and mercy. The attribute David is extolling God for is being their Savior. He was remembering how God saved them from slavery in Egypt, brought them through the wilderness and led them to conquer the promised land. God had delivered them repeatedly and their eternal God is worthy of all their praises.

When has God saved you? If you are a believer, you were saved from the penalty of sin which is eternal death, when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. Perhaps you have also had other experiences in your life where you have been threatened physically or spiritually and God rescued you from harm. When God saved us by faith in Jesus, it was for eternity and we will belong to Him forever. All the benefits of knowing Him are ours by faith and we can claim the promises He has for us in His Word. The fact that Jesus Saves is worthy of rejoicing and giving thanks. Where would you be without Him? You would be eternally lost and separated from God which are the consequences of disbelief. Thank you Jesus for saving me from that horrible eternal fate and giving me a new life with a new heart and spirit within me. In Ezekiel 36:26 God promises us both. And I will give you a new heartand a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for your Spirit within me that gives me life, hope and guidance as I seek to honor and serve You. Thank you.

Linda

Christ Alone, His Righteousness for me

This morning I was studying about the righteousness of God made manifest in Jesus the Son. Then Psalm 7:17 jumped out at me as I was reviewing passages on giving thanks. “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
 and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.”

What greater reason do we have to give thanks than that we stand on His righteousness and not our own? The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10 “None is righteous, no, not one;” We are all born sinners. You only need to look at yourself and you will realize that every day you cannot do everything right, say everything correctly, hurt no one, be kind at all times, etc. It is not possible. But, Jesus tells us that in Him all things are possible. Having His Holy Spirit within us, empowers us to live rightly for Him. I love the way Titus explains this in 2:11-13 “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,” Through Christ alone we obtain our right standing with God. Paul writes in Philippians 3:8-10 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”

Knowing then that our right standing before God is all because of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, shouldn’t that lead us to thankfulness? Without Christ, we are condemned, lost and would be eternally separated from God. Thank you Jesus! Due to your righteousness, I am healed, loved, freed from the power of sin, saved, cherished as God’s child, cared for, protected, provided for, and blessed. The list of what Jesus has done for me is endless! May these facts cause us to be living in thanks to Him. Giving Him praise and honor for all He has done and will do! May the words of Psalm 7:17 be on your lips today in praise.

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
    and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm 7:17

Linda

God’s Kindness, What is it?

Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23″22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Like Patience this attribute is one God desires to be in our character and is one that grows and develops as we are indwelt and responsive to the Holy Spirit in our lives. For this discussion, I want to start at the root of Kindness- God Himself. God is perfect in all of His ways and embodies all kindness in His being. Here are some scriptures to help us to better understand the kindness of God.

Ruth 2:20 “And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” God brought Boaz into Ruth’s life to restore her and her mother-in-law when they returned to Israel after losing their husbands. God’s kindness is true for both those living and those who have passed into eternity. God’s kindness transcends all realms as God is God of all, both the living and the dead. I find great comfort in this, like Naomi, God does not stop being God to me when I leave this earthly home. He is eternal and His kind character will be there no matter when or where!

Like humans, God desires to show His kindness towards us. He is always motivated by His love. Romans 2:4 says He shows us His love because He desires that we will see and recognize His love, patience and longsuffering towards us and turn to Him. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” What is the purpose of your acts of kindness? Do you desire to show your Savior to others and draw them to Him?

God’s kindness towards us was given to bring us to repentance and faith and is explained more fully in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians 2:5-8 is one of my favorite and encouraging passages. 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. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” God’s kindness is evident in His sending Jesus to redeem and save us from eternal death through faith. Jesus came even though we were sinners and dead in our sins. He brought us life. What a wonderful kindness God showed to all of us by this act. God showed us then and will continue to show us His kindness into eternity. Titus put it this way in Titus 3: 4-6 “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,” God’s kindness in sending Jesus to die for our sins was His alone. It was His mercy and cleansing though our faith in Christ that redeems us. He loved us that much! What sacrifices have you made for others out of godly kindness?

David summed up God’s kindness in Psalm145.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.]

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.

How does God’s kindness towards you affect your day to day walk with Him? Are you seeking to show His kindness to others? Remember, kindness is an outgrowth of faith and the work of the Holy Spirit within. Our kindness is meant to draw others to Jesus. By being and acting kindly towards others we show them Jesus and His great love. Not feeling kindly towards others- pray. Not wanting to do kind acts- pray. Remember, God is eternal and His kindness is unending, longsuffering and always fills us with hope! Thank you God.

Linda

Patience, right now Lord?

Patience is something God desires us to have within our character but in looking at scripture I’m seeing that God has it and wants us to have it too. There is always a function of time involved that often grates against our nature and causes us grief. It is called for in suffering and growth and is a part of life that opens us up to greater blessings from God. I am going to spend a few blogs meditating on patience as I, myself, see the need to increase this God given attribute in my life. I desire to see its fruit in my life.

First, let’s look at patience as something God desires for our character. Jesus wants us to show Him to others with patience. 1 Timothy 1:16 “ But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” We are to be his example to the world of great patience. If that is so, then I need to ask myself, What do I need to do to show patience towards others? How do I cultivate an attitude or ability to be patient?

Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23 about the fruits of the Spirit. These are attitudes and attributes that come from allowing the Holy Spirit to work and reign within our lives.  “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Do you seek to acknowledge the Spirit of the living God in your life daily? Do you pray with expectation and hope, knowing He can do all things? Do you seek to grow in Christ allowing Him to develop His character within you freely? Sanctification, or the process of becoming more and more like Jesus, is a life long journey. It definitively requires patience from God, or Him being longsuffering, with all of our ups and downs, steps forward and backwards! It also requires patient endurance on our part to seek to keep focused upon God and His ways in our life. In Colossians 3:12 Paul writes, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” This having patience with others is not an option for believers. God loves us and calls us to be His examples showing His character to the world.

Meditate on your own patience today. Are you allowing God to use patience to mold and shape your character? Are you seeing progress? If not, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to be able to show greater patience in your life. James 4:2b tells us “Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” Boldly ask God for greater patience so you can endure the trials of your life with greater joy.

I’m asking God to increase my patience and turn it to joy today.

Linda

P.S. Just as I am writing, I was called upon to show patience with someone new. A good reminder that patience is something I need to beware of and let God cultivate within me moment by moment. I want my reactions to life to show His character within me. Patience is truly required!

Life with Christ=No Fear, Faith and God’s Word

And the journey continues….2 Timothy. Paul wrote this final letter to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, during his final imprisonment in a Roman dungeon prior to his death. He exhorts Timothy to be strong in the faith, reject worldliness and willingly suffer for the cause of Christ. As Timothy’s mentor, we wanted this young minister to continue wholeheartedly for Christ remembering all that Christ had done for him. There are several key verses that shouted out to me as I reread this letter. I pray they will speak to you today as an encouragement from Paul to stay the course of faith and preserve in the face of adversity for the rewards are great and blessings abound.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Paul was telling Timothy that he knew he had a sincere upbringing in faith but to remember the power of faith that came through the Holy Spirit when he believed in Jesus. Paul had led him to Christ and wanted him to remember his gift of faith and that it is one of boldness, power, love and self-control. It is the same with all of us. We have that same gift of faith in Christ and it is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that gives us power for living. Jesus wants us to live fearlessly for Him.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 scholars believe was part of an early Christian hymn Paul included. It speaks of Paul’s faith in Christ and his belief that suffering with Christ will bring great rewards.

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
The part of this that gives me the most hope is that even in my faithlessness God is always faithful. Faithfulness is an integral part of God’s character from which He can never separate himself. Praise God, He is faithful.

Paul also wrote about the hardships Timothy will face following of Christ. 2 Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” He says evil men and their deeds will always continue to abound but he exhorts Timothy to remember, continue and stand fast holding to God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:14-17″But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In seeking to live a godly life, we too need to remember what we know about God, rely on His faithfulness, delve into scripture so that the Holy Spirit may teach, correct and train us into the men and women Jesus desires us to be in and through Him. The Bible is not just ancient words but the very breath of God given for our growth and benefit. All of it is inspired and through it God seeks to teach us about Himself and how He wants us to act and react in this world we live in. God wants us to do good work and being in His Word will ready us for work in the world. He will equip us with all we need.

Paul has poured himself out to Timothy knowing his remaining time on earth was short. His desires for the continuing faith of this child of God are sincere, heartfelt and instructive. What part of his message do you need today? Are you struggling with fear, faithfulness, and persecution? Or are you in need of teaching, correction and training from God’s Word? Do you not feel equipped to face the ministry to which God has called you? Paul reminded us in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 “ For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” All promises are Yes in Christ and our faith is established and sealed by Him. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee, our proof, that God is alive and Jesus lives within us. Rejoice as you face each trial as He is with you, will help you persist in faith, teach, guide and equip you with all you will need! Praise God!

Linda

OH 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

Pentecost-Today is the day!

Our journey from the cross to Pentecost is finally over. Pentecost: Who was there?  Scripture tells us in Acts chapters 1 and 2 that the disciples and many other Jews from every nation were gathered together.

untitled (2)

What happened?  The arrival of the promised gift from the Father, power from heaven that would empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When did it happen?  Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover.  It was called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. It was 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.

Where did it happen?  Jesus told them to go and wait for the helper that would come.  They returned to Jerusalem after Jesus’ Ascension just as He commanded.

41c6fe8801d24ef215fba3f9fc1c28b5

Acts 2:2-4 describes to us vividly the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”    Peter stood and preached to the gathered crowd and told them that this outpouring from heaven was from God.  He quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel in Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”   The arrival of the Holy Spirit was dramatic- tongues of fire- and noisy- as a strong wind and filled with many languages.  It was a surprise arrival yet it had been expected.  Jesus told them to go and wait, so they knew someone was coming as gift from the Father.  In John 15:15-17, 25-26,  Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit would come.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.   And all this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   Also in Luke 24:48-49 Jesus told them of the coming power and place,  “You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 

Why was this necessary?  When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  This Spirit that arrived on tongues of fire and with a great sound lives within me permanently.  He empowers me to live a godly life and to speak to others about Jesus and His salvation.  1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is great than the one who is in the world.”      Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. ”     2 Corinthians 1:21-22  “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”    

How do you answer your own 5 W’s about the Holy Spirit?  Who is the Holy Spirit to you?  What are you allowing God to do with this Holy Spirit that lives within you?  Where are you walking in obedience and listening to His Word?  When are you  stepping out in faith to tell others about Jesus?    Why is the Holy Spirit necessary in your life?  Jesus wanted the disciples, and us too, to use the power the Father sent to do the work of telling others and living for Him.  Will you begin today by allowing God’s Holy Spirit living within you to lead you to live for Him in a mighty way that will bring Him honor and glory?

Praising Him this Pentecost Sunday,

Linda

Waiting…Hard for them and us!

Jesus had been appearing to them for the last 40 days since his resurrection. He had been teaching and confirming who He was and their mission to continue to tell others about Him after He returned to heaven. They had many questions and voiced a few in Acts 1:6-8. Here was Jesus’ answer, “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” They wanted details- the how, when and where of His return but He simply reminded them of the power and their greater purpose. Jesus wanted patient obedience and focus from them.

How good are you at waiting? I’m not prone to waiting patiently, but when I know something is coming I can endure with a bit more patience. The disciples were commanded by Jesus to wait for the coming Holy Spirit that the Father would send. They were not to leave Jerusalem and go home either. The fact Jesus told them to wait there would have given them hope that it would be only a ‘short’ time before this promised power would arrive. Acts 1:1-5 “In my former book (the gospel of Luke), Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Is that a lesson you need to learn too? We know Jesus is to return and what our job is until he does. Why do we fret over the when and where? Just like the disciples, we need to wait for the right time for speaking out about Him, remain steadfast in faith, constant in prayer and filled with His hope. God’s timing is perfect and He alone knows when Jesus will return. Until then, just like the disciples- we wait. But, God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to tell others about Him. The disciples were waiting for that power- only a few days more until the Holy Spirit arrives on Pentecost. They didn’t know it was only 10 days away so they returned to Jerusalem after the ascension and waited together . Acts 1:14 “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” This is a perfect example of how we can encourage and support one another as we wait.

If Jesus returned today, would He find you doing what He asked? Are you telling others about Him? Are you praying for others and remaining steadfast in your faith? Are you encouraging and praying with fellow believers? It was a challenge for the disciples and it is a challenge for us. They had just seen and heard Jesus and knew Him to be real and trustworthy. We have the empowerment from the Holy Spirit within us to be faithful and honor His requests, and we too know Him to be trustworthy!

May you seek to do His will while you wait for His return.

Linda