No need to worry- We are SECURE in Him!

Ephesians 1:13-14 holds wonderful truths for us to cling to that give us assurance of the hope and faith we have in Christ.  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

The truths of this passages are many.  I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith in Jesus affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.  These truths are confirmed other places in scripture as well.

romans 816Indwelling Holy Spirit testifying and affirming:  Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”   Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  1 Thessalonians 4:8 “Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”   We can be assured that His Spirit is real and lives within us.

Holy Spirit guaranteeing:  2 Corinthians 5:5  “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing 2 corinthians 5 5what is to come.”  Hebrews 6:17 “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.”   God gives us His word that His indwelling Holy Spirit guarantees our belonging to Him and our future with Him -heirs of His promises.

1 peter 1 4A tangible inheritance in Jesus1 Peter 1:4 “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”   Colossians 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Our inheritance is kept safe in heaven, a reward waiting for us for living a life of faith that brings glory to Jesus.

As you review these precious truths today.  Which ones resonate with your spirit and give you peace?  Claim God’s promises today!   He has an inheritance for us, He gives us His Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus and His Holy Spirit affirms and testify with our spirits so we can be assured of His love, a future with Him and His saving grace.  Praise God for His wonderful provision for us.  He knows we,  as finite beings,  need assurances  and He graciously gives us all we need.  Thank you Lord Jesus.

Linda 

Questions … can you answer them about 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?  The arrival of the promised power from heaven that would empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

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

41c6fe8801d24ef215fba3f9fc1c28b5Acts 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.  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.  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

Are you a Doubter? Joint Thomas-seeing and believing anew!

The disciples had gathered on Resurrection Sunday evening and Jesus appeared to them coming in even though the doors were shut.  Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened.   This was his response from john-20-25-ampJohn 20:24-25.  Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”  This is the passage that earned him the nickname of doubting Thomas.  He was emphatic that unless he saw the evidences of Jesus death marks himself he would not believe it to be Jesus. Do you know people that are doubters too?  Do they reject any evidence that Jesus is the Son of God in scripture purely because they can not see Him for themselves?  I’m sure the disciples were totally convinced as to what they had seen but saddened that Thomas would not share in the joy of Christ being alive.

A week passed and they were all gathered again in the upper room and Jesus appeared. ThomasJohn 20:26-29 continues the story,  Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.  Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus knew what Thomas needed and came right to him.  Thomas was amazed and proclaimed Jesus his God.  To him, seeing was john 20 29believing.  He needed a personal encounter with the living Jesus!   Jesus added this next verse for Thomas, the disciples and all of us.   29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”    

Faith is a gift from God and we who believe in Jesus are blessed with the knowledge of Him as our Savior.  However, each one of us who believes encountered the living Christ and came to know Him in a personal, vibrant and  living way.   Even though we do not physically see Him,  we can and do know within our being that Jesus is Alive!  The Holy Spirit indwells us when we believe in Jesus and testifies to us about Him.  Jesus had promised this in John 15:26 ““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”  Later Paul, explains in Ephesians ephesians 1 13-141:13-14 how the Holy Spirit works within us, In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Praise God we too can know Him and experience Him in our lives.  We are blessed – Just as Jesus said we would be through our faith in Him!   Have a blessed day as you ponder the wonder of Jesus being alive in your life!

Linda

Assurance and Purpose come from the Risen Jesus – Do you feel it?

Jesus was actively reassuring his followers on Resurrection Sunday.   He appeared to the two men on the Road to Emmaus,  to the women in the garden and Mary,  to Peter and to a gathering of disciples in a closed room.   John records this appearance in John 20:19-22.  I like the Amplified translation as it makes Peacewhat happened clearer. 19 So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side.”  The fact that Jesus appeared to them without opening the door tells us He was a spirit.   Yet, he showed them His hands and side that had been pierced at the cross which tells us He was physically real.  Only Jesus could be both in His resurrection body.  He begins with the common Hebrew greeting- ‘Peace to you’.  This shows Jesus’ love and sensitivity as perhaps they would have expected a harsh word from Jesus for abandoning Him after His arrest.  They received peace and warmth from their Savior not rebuke or criticism.  When the john 20 19disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Their response to Jesus was pure joy!  Then He sent greetings of peace to them and gave them orders to tell others.   He was sending them with power from His Holy Spirit to go and be His representatives, telling others of His death, resurrection, salvation and forgiveness of sins.  Jesus breathed on them power that would sustain them until the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost.

romans 10 17What is your response to the risen Savior?  I’m sure the disciples had various reactions like joy that He was alive, curiosity about His wounds, questions about their purpose in life now that He is no longer teaching them day to day?  Jesus answered their questions, shared in their joy and gave them purpose.  It is the same purpose Jesus has for us- tell others the good news of the gospel.  He desires that everyone hear how He saves us from eternal punishment for our sins and forgives us.  Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17   “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Jesus sent them, and us too, into the world tell otherswhere we live to tell others the good news of Christ.  We have to speak out and speak up for Jesus.

Who will you joyfully tell today?

Linda

Battles, unseen forces vs. Christ and His Holy Spirit

Paul reaches the conclusion of his letter to the Ephesians after exhorting them to live godly lives, to depend upon each other in the body of Christ and to live lives submitted to one another filled with love and grace.  He tells them that the battle of living for Christ involves both the physical world we live in and the spiritual world we cannot see.  His advice is to put on God’s armor.

ephesians 6 11Ephesians 6:10-12  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Later in the chapter Paul fully explains each piece of armor and why we desperately need them for our battles.  Here he reminds us that spiritual battles are being waged in the heavens of which we are unaware,  and yet we have to come up against them in our daily lives.  One of my favorite Old Testament stories shows the forces of evil that surround us and how Satan would love to destroy our faith and witness is found in 2 Kings 6:15-17.   Elisha, the prophet of God, was telling the king of Israel the battle secrets of the king of Syria that God was revealing to him.  The king of Syria was very upset and sent horsemen to come and seize him.  Elisha’s servant looked out of the house they were staying in and ran to tell Elisha that they were surrounded.  Amazingly, Elisha was not afraid and asked God to reveal what he saw to his servant to explain why he was unafraid. He then asked God to confuse the enemy and He did with blindness.

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant 2kings 6 16said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. 19 And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.

What I love about this story is that the servant was unaware of the ring of fiery angels that were ready to do battle on Elisha’s behalf.  We too have power of the Holy Spirit that indwells us and gives us power to thwart sin and Satan’s plans. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world,” 1 John 4:4.   Paul is telling us to be ready to do battle in a serious fashion using His power and might.  We are on the winning side because Jesus is greater than anyone or anything physical or spiritual that we may encounter in life!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are able to battle against unseen forces through the power of the Holy Spirit.   We need to be ready and willing to walk with the Lord and be empowered by Him each day.

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

Straight talk by Paul (points us to Christ like behavior)

In this last section of Ephesians 4 Paul gets down to serious talk about sins that he has seen or heard of among the believers.  He mentions lying or speaking untruthfully with each other.  Anger that is not righteous but rooted in resentment, hostility or jealousy.  Also some had been thieves prior to becoming believers, and Paul tells them they must work and be useful so they will have things to share with those in need.  He mentions gossip or unwholesome talk, saying things that bring others down instead of building  them up.  He straight out tells them to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger fighting, backbiting, slander, and any and all kinds of malice.   All of these things are undesirable and incompatible with a life given to Christ.

Several verses jumped out at me in this section, Ephesians 4:26, 30 and 32.  26 “Be angry ephesians 4 26and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”  This verse is frequently said, “don’t go to bed angry”.   Anger that is rooted in sin is filled with resentment, jealousy, bitterness and even hatred.  Paul is saying, anger is a valid emotion but do not let it be for the wrong reasons.  Jesus was angry with the money changers buying and selling in the temple and threw them out (Matthew 21:12).  He was angry with the Pharisees for wanting to trap him and keep a man from being healed on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5).  Both of these were cases of righteous anger.  They were not rooted in self but in wrongs done towards God.  When we harbor or coddle our anger, it will fester and grow.  Paul is telling us to not let that happen as the results will be harmful to us and to those around us.

30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”   What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?   As a believer, Jesus’ Holy Spirit lives within us.  When we deliberately sin- steal, lie, cheat, act with wrong motives in anger, harbor bitterness, etc, it grieves the Holy Spirit that is within us.  God hates sin and doing sinful acts gives His Spirit grief, or makes His Spirit sad over our sin.  Paul reminds us that when we received Christ,  we were sealed by God’s Holy Spirit forever.  That is a wonderful privilege and honor,  and we should love Jesus enough to desire to not deliberately sin against Him.

32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  I love this verse as Paul lays it out directly for us as to what kinds of actions should characterize a believer.  These will bring delight to our Savior.  They should be our response to His marvelous forgiveness and grace.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God. 

ephesians 4 32Focus today on right living, good thoughts and actions towards others, putting away all bitterness, jealousy, anger …..  Don’t let  yourself fall into anger over your current circumstances,  but look for the good and seek to see how you can ‘be Jesus’ to each one you speak with today.

Linda

 

Full text in the New Living Translation:

25″ So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,  guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

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

How Big is your God? He is ABLE!

Ephesians Chapter 3 ends with a powerful benediction to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers.  He eloquently tells them and us about God, who He is,  and His power as seen in Christ and the church. God’s is: glorious,  omnipotent in power, provides us with His indwelling Holy Spirit,  has power that endures for  eternity and has a plan that lives from generation to generation.

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

What comfort do you receive from reading these words?   I am encouraged even in these difficult times that our God is bigger than any virus, is Sovereign over heaven and earth now and in the future. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and Ephesians 3-20 He Is Abletoday and forever.”  God is able to do even greater things than which we could even think to ask Him to do in our lives for Him.  2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. “  God does not give us His Holy Spirit to indwell us without reason and purpose. John 3:16 shows us God’s purpose  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”    Romans 5:3-5 shows the Holy Spirit at work in our lives for a purpose.   “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.”   God loves us and desires that our character be refined and matured.

Use Paul’s words today as you pray.  Stand on the hope you have in Jesus, the power of His Spirit to lead and guide you, and God’s unfailing love for you.  God has a purpose for you, for your life and He desires that you know Him and live and grow in His love.  His love is transforming for now and into the future.  Because Christ died on the cross and Ephesians-3-21rose from the dead, we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good.

Reach out to others today, however you can, and let God’s transforming love flow through you to them in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Linda

 

 

3rd Sunday of Lent, 2020 Need a place to worship? Join us on YouTube

This second week of Lent has given us important action verbs of faith from Ephesians- brought near, united as one Spirit and family,  founded in Christ, privileged in faith and having access to Almighty God.  What a week filled with truths in the midst of panic, fear and doubt due to the Corona-19 virus.   New words have occurred- social distancing and self-quarantining that seek to limit and restrain us.  The truths from Ephesians are free, open and available even in a crisis.  They will transform our lives, assure us in faith and move us forward together in Christ.  Let the truths from Ephesians 2 and 3 seep into your soul and let the Holy Spirit use them to transform your faith.  Let them replace any fears you are feeling.

Truths:

  •  we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ.   Ephesians 2:13
  • we are one in Spirit.   Ephesians 2: 14,18
  • we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.  Ephesians 2:19-23
  • we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  Ephesians 3:6
  • we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world.   Ephesians 3:7-11
  • we have access to the Father in prayer.  Ephesians 3:12

Blessings as you worship today- in most places virtually,  as we practice social distancing due to the Corona-19 Virus.  Our church service will be live streamed on YouTube today-you can tune in at 10:30 am PST to hear our worship band and Pastor Aaron Gonzenbach preach from the Word.  You simply type:  wearecrossroads  into Youtube and it should take you there.

Blessings as you seek to live fearlessly for Him,

Linda