Gratitude vs. Ingratitude, Which Reveals the real You?

Many times we do not take the time to say ‘thanks’ for something that is done for us or towards us. We think later, ‘O, did I remember to tell them thank you or not?’ Giving or saying ‘thanks’ is something our parents taught us to say because it shows good manners. But, why do you say thank you? Is it a rote response or is it from your heart? The reason I am going down this road is we need to find the root of our gratitude or the root of our ingratitude and the consequences of each.

Repeatedly this month we have seen that scripture tells us to give thanks. Gratitude is an attitude response for all God has done. 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Our response to God and His goodness towards us for both physical and spiritual provisions is to be one of thanks. The giving of thanks creates within us a sense of peace, well being, hope and assurance of God’s love.

What about ingratitude? Romans 1:20-23 explains what happens when we refuse to give thanks and recognize that all good things come from God.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Paul is saying that we are without excuse when we fail to recognize and honor God. We have the world around us as proof of His existence and goodness. So what happens when we are ungrateful to God? Paul says our thinking becomes ineffective and useless, unproductive and our hearts are darkened or turned away from the goodness of God, His light. In our lives we can see that not being thankful leads to a hardness of heart towards others and perhaps a sense of entitlement. Somehow we feel the ‘world’ owes us good things. The reality of life is the truth of Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and 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.”

Let your heart, mind and words be filled with gratitude today. You will be blessed as you experience His hope, love, peace and joy. Let your gratitude come from your love for God so that it may have an eternal effect on those around 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

Suffering and Patience, why me?

As I have been meditating and studying patience, I have seen that it is a godly trait God desires in my new created character in Him. He will develop it through the power of the Holy Spirit within me as I walk with Him daily. I have also seen the need for more patience in my life and realized that it is tied to trust and time. It does not appear in my character over night, indeed it is a growing process as I learn to trust God more and more with each aspect of my life. The last area of patience we’ve only skirted upon is patience in suffering. Scripture is filled with examples of godly men and women who suffered patiently as they waited for God’s perfect timing and resolution of their situations. As they walked with faith and trust, God was manifested in their lives and they brought glory to God. Isn’t that what each of us desires? We want to be found faithful in our walk with Jesus bringing us good and Him glory.

Think for a minute about these Biblical characters and the faith they showed during great times of persecution or suffering. Noah suffered ridicule from the world around him as he worked 120 years to build the ark. Remember it had not rained before the flood and the concept of flood was unknown. Abraham and Sarah waited for their son of promise, Isaac, for years until they were too old to have a child. Miraculously God renewed their bodies and gave them a child. David, the anointed king of Israel, was pursued by Saul for 14 years as he sought to kill him. It was 14 years before Saul was killed and David was crowned king. Daniel and his friends lived in a pagan culture clinging to their faith as the world around them tried to burn or have them eaten by lions. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, etc. for the sake of the gospel. Peter was imprisoned and God sent an angel to lead him out. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos because of his faith. This is just a short list but the Bible gives us many more examples of faith under fire. Even our Lord Jesus was unjustly beaten and crucified, patiently suffering for our sake.

So how do we deal with times of trial and suffering that require us to endure with patience?

James 2:2-4 tells us it is about attitude and will build our character. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” We should think about suffering as an opportunity to experience joy as it will reap great rewards.

Romans 12:12 tells us suffering must be bathed in prayer resulting in hope and extended patience in our lives. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us that hard times of suffering call us to encourage one another, build each other up and extend patience to all. “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

Hebrews 6:15 gives us hope as we see Abraham as an example of patient faith. “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”

James 5:7-8 gives us an example of a farmer who is waiting for his crops to grow and mature. We need to be like that – waiting and growing until the Lord returns. “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

Considering these scriptures, how do you see or feel God growing your patience? Are you drawn to pray more? Are you patiently looking into His Word to discover the promises God has for you? Are you reacting with anger and are realizing your attitude needs adjustment so that you can be an encouragement to others as you wait? Patience is a virtue to be cultivated with prayer and looked upon as an opportunity for growth in Christ. I’m still working on this as I seek to grow into a more patient, prayer filled person looking to God and His promises with Hope!

Linda

A Walk of Faith

And the journey continues….Hebrews. The book of Hebrews was a letter intended for Jewish Christians who were very familiar with the Old Testament. The first century Jewish converts faced many challenges as they sought to establish themselves apart from Judaism and stand firmly with Christ as Messiah. The letter presents Christ as supreme and sufficient in all, and the revealer of God’s grace. It can be a difficult book to understand, and yet holds such beautiful promises that are clear and strengthening. It was at first thought this letter was written by Paul but the authorship is unknown. My favorite chapter is Chapter 11 which focuses on faith in Christ and its benefits.

Hebrews 11:1,6 focuses on faith. ” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I love the simplicity of these verses as they truly ‘hit the nail on the head’ in regard to what faith is and why it is totally necessary. The author’s first example of faith is Enoch. Here was a man of faith that pleased God so much that he was taken directly to heaven! The author then goes into more examples of faith for us to follow and tells us of Noah who built an ark to save his family when he was warned about things he had never seen. In the time of Noah it had never rained, as scripture tells us the mist came up from the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6) He had no concept of rain and floods, yet he built the ark as God commanded by faith thereby saving himself and all his family. Abraham was called to leave his home and go to a place he had never seen. He did and was greatly blessed with descendants and land beyond measure. Sarah who was Abraham’s childless wife conceived a child in her old age and believed God that it would come to pass. The author continues with examples from Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Moses was born Jewish, saved from death by God’s hand through Pharaoh’s daughter from the Nile. He was raised to privilege then called reluctantly after running from events in Egypt. He was in the desert for 40 years before being called to lead the people out of Egypt by God’s command at the age of 80! He trusted God to provide and experienced the plagues and hurried escape after the Passover of the angel of death. God then led them through the Red Sea in victory. The author then points to the walls of Jericho falling when they faithfully followed God’s leading. Rahab’s rescue of the spies and others like Gideon, David and countless events that showed the faithfulness of God to His people. God commended the people for their faith just as He loves and desires our faithfulness. I find great strength and encouragement from reading about the faith of these ‘heroes’. I know they were mortal and weak individuals just like me who overcame, persevered and were victorious through God’s hand in their lives because of their faith. It encourages me to be faithful knowing He will always be faithful to me and rewards those who seek Him.

There are a couple of other portions in Hebrews that I want to mention. Hebrews 4:12-13 speaks of the power of God’s Word and extols the omniscience of our God. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:14-16 speaks of Christ as our high priest and gives such hope to every believer that God will be gracious towards us. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 7:25 points to the sufficiency of Christ to save completely and how He continues to intercede for us even now in heaven. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” That is encouraging and so reassuring!!

Hebrews 10:10 speaks of the total sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross. “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Praise God!

Hebrews 10:22-23 are some of my favorite verses as they encourage us to draw near to God and hold onto our faith in Him.  Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Lastly, Hebrews 13:8 reminds me that Christ is immutable and a reliable foundation for my faith.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

May the truths of faith penetrate into your heart and soul today and may you know of His rewards of faith personally as you walk trusting Him.

Linda

Reboot your Basic Doctrines in Titus

And the journey continues….Titus. This letter is short but powerful! Paul wrote this letter to his beloved gentile convert Titus to encourage his ministry in Crete. Titus had worked alongside him in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. After Ephesus Paul sent him to Corinth to work in the church there. Following Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment, he and Titus journeyed to Crete to bring them the gospel message. Paul continued on and left Titus to work there strengthening the brothers and sisters in Christ by teaching and leading them. The last mention of Titus in is 2 Timothy 4:10 where Timothy mentions Titus went to Dalmatia, which is present day Yugoslavia. Paul’s letter is filled with basic doctrines emphasizing who Christ is and the life He desires us to live through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. When I visited Crete in 2016, the people continue to revere Titus, claiming they have his skull which they place prominently in a main church in downtown Heraklion. They credit Titus with the establishment of Christianity on their island.

There are two passages I dearly love in the book of Titus because of their clarity in proclaiming Christ as our Savior and Lord. See if you don’t agree.

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Paul’s message is clear: salvation for all people, turn from ungodliness, devote ourselves to God, look forward with expectation to Christ’s return, live our lives free from sin and be committed to Him. All this is possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit, praise God!

Titus 3:4-7  “But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Paul here emphasizes we are saved because of God’s grace and mercy, forgiven, and generously filled with His Holy Spirit through the power of faith in Christ. Christ has made us right before holy God and with that knowledge we can live confident lives assured of our salvation and eternal life with Him.

These basic doctrines are filled with hope and assurance based on God’s mercy and grace to us by sending Jesus to save us and cleanse us from all our sins. What is your response to this marvelous outpouring of love towards you? I am reminded of Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Philippi, An Encounter with Consequences

And the journey continues…into Acts. Acts is filled with the wonderful adventures of the Apostles learning to walk with Jesus and allowing Jesus to work in and through them to spread the gospel to the world. In Chapter 16 of The Acts of the Apostles Paul tells us how he and Silas met Timothy in Derbe. Paul wanted to take this new believer along with them on their second journey through Asia Minor and Greece. He had an instant affection for this young Greek Hebrew convert. He grew to love him as a son as is evidenced in his writings in 1 and 2 Timothy.

Then Paul has a vision during the night where the Holy Spirit spoke to him and directed them to go into Macedonia with the gospel message. Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy landed in Neapolis and traveled inland to the town of Philippi. They encountered the purple merchant Lydia and fellow Jews by a steam just outside the city. It was the Sabbath and since there was no synagogue in Philippi, they were praying and worship by the river. Paul presented the gospel truth about Jesus the Messiah and she became a believer and welcomed them into her home. I had the privilege of visiting this spot where Paul and Lydia met several years ago. It is peaceful and lovely, and you can just envision them sitting by the stream singing and praising God.

Jail where Paul and Silas were held.

As the chapter continues and Paul and Silas went repeatedly to the river to worship. A slave girl who was possessed by a spirit kept taunting them. “She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” Acts 16:17 Paul became troubled one day and turned to her and commanded the spirit to leave her in the name of Jesus. The slave girl’s owners had been using her divination powers to earn money, and they were very unhappy with these events. So they went to the town magistrate and complained, which resulted in Paul and Silas being beaten, flogged and imprisoned without trial. They were then thrown into jail. Later that evening while imprisoned, they were singing and praising God when there was an earthquake which opened the cell doors. The jailer, fearing their escape on his watch, started to kill himself. Paul called out to him that they were all there. Acts 16:29-34, And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”

Forum and ruins of Philippi

Later the next day, the magistrate sent officers to release Paul and told them to leave the city. Paul refused to go until they came and spoke with him. He was righteously outraged at their treatment as they were Roman Citizens and the magistrates desired to coverup the way they had unjustly treated Paul and Silas. They were vindicated and left the city, but not before saying good-bye to Lydia and the other believers. The new believers were encouraged.

I love these dramatic stories for several reasons. 1. It shows how Paul was lead by the Spirit on his journey to where the Holy Spirit knew there were people waiting and eager to hear the gospel message. Do I trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to just the right place and just the right time? Are you open to God opportunities to witness? 2. Paul and Silas stood up in faith and saved the young demon possessed girl. They then faced the consequences of their actions. They allowed God to use them and suffered for His name sake. God vindicated them and worked all things for their good and His glory. The jailer and his family came to know Christ, the magistrate and others were witnesses to the power of God, the magistrates were held accountable for their wrong, judgements and the believers were encouraged. How do you react to oppression and suffering? Do you complain and fight or do you pray, praise and sing with thanksgiving? Paul knew he was doing the Lord’s work and that God is sovereign over all government officials. He did not fear the outcome as he knew God was going before him and had his back. He completely trusted God. Where are you on a scale of 1 to10 on trusting God with the details of your life?

Take a few minutes and read this entire Chapter 16 of Acts. Let yourself feel what Paul and Silas must have felt- the joy, trust, and encouragement in faith along with the hatred of others, mistrust, and persecution. After, take a few minutes to pray for those brother and sisters in faith that are persecuted for the sake of Christ throughout the world. Pray for their safely and a boldness to proclaim the gospel, no matter the cost. Bravely ask God to bring you opportunities to witness to the power of Christ in your life.

Linda

Dry Bones Bring a Message of Hope!

And the journey continues…..into Ezekiel. Ezekiel is known as one of the major prophets due to the length of the book, 48 chapters. Ezekiel prophesied during a time of great upheaval and unrest in Israel. The northern kingdom had fallen to Assyrians and Judah was besieged by Babylon. Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C. to King Nebuchadnezzar’s army and many of the Jews were transported to Babylon where they lived in exile for 70 years. Ezekiel was among the Jews taken to Babylon and there he received his call from God as a prophet. He was from a priestly family and was able to serve as a prophet-priest during this time.

Chapter 37:1-14 tells of Ezekiel’s vision and conversations with Sovereign God that were to give hope to God’s exiled people. The vision and restoration of ‘dry bones’ has a message of hope for us today.

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” 10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!

God was giving the exiled Israelites hope of their coming restoration and return to their beloved homeland. God promised to accomplish the return through His Spirit and bring new life to them. Where are you in need of restoration today? Do you have insurmountable problems that need to be overcome? Do you have broken relationships or projects that seem too big even on your best days? Ezekiel knew that only God had the answer to their exile? Only God could restore them and make them a nation again. God assured Ezekiel that He would indeed bring them back and restore them.

Have faith today that God is greater than any problem you face and can indeed bring about restoration of your mind, heart, body and soul. He is Almighty God and nothing is beyond his ability to bring restoration and reconciliation. Walk in faith trusting Him for the answers.

Linda

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

Come to Breakfast, Jesus is here!

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is in John 21.  This passage will bring a smile to your face and assurance of the Savior’s love,  as you picture the scene beside the Sea of Galilee. Several of the disciples had gathered at the Sea of Galilee and decided to go fishing. Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John and 2 other disciples were there according to John 21:1-2. As they approached the shore, Jesus called out to them.

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with. you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.  He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”  When they did they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for the had taken it off) and jumped into the water.  The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about 100 yards.  When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.  Jesus said to “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.  John 21:3-14

I love this tender story of Jesus’ compassion for the tired discouraged fishermen who were his friends.  Here are a few Lessons and Truths we can glean from this passage.  What Jesus did for them that morning, He can do for us too:   1.  Jesus knows how things are going in my life, my disappointments and my joys.   2.  As believer,  Jesus considers me His friend.   3.  Jesus can guide and provide for my needs.  He can show me to where to cast my net.  4.  If I look,  Jesus will reveal himself to me;  He is always near.     5.  Jesus can and does make himself known to me.   I need to be aware and watchful.   6.  Jesus desires to fellowship with me.

John 20 10

Which of these lessons and truths speak to you today?   James 4:8 tell us,  “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”   Meet Him today wherever you are, He will be there waiting for you just like He was for the disciples that morning by the sea.

Linda