Finding Joy- come journey with me!

I have been struggling as this pandemic has continued with finding and holding onto my joy.  The Holy Spirit has been leading me to seek the joy I have in the Lord.  Nehemiah speak of the joy of the Lord that comes from hearing His Word, worshiping and praising Him and being repentant.  The exiles had returned to Jerusalem and he gathered them together to hear the Word of God read aloud.  The people were called to repentance and gave praises upon hearing the Word.  In Nehemiah 8:10, he encouraged the people to rejoice in being there after years in Babylon and told them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved,for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”    Nehemiah told them not to grieve over the condition of their beloved city but to look beyond the present circumstances and find their joy in the Lord.  I need the same today.

So… I am going in search of my joy- seeking restoration, joy filled living and complete joy that can only be found in Christ.   God is pointing me to Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  Since I have been to Philippi, I can visualize Paul’s discussions there, the friends he made in that city and how he developed a love for them.  Come journey with me through the book of Philippians and see what joys we find together in the Lord.

A key verse with a gigantic promise as we begin our seeking His joy comes from John 15:11 where Jesus said, “I have told you this (of our need to abide in Him) so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”   God desires that we have complete joy that is found in Him alone.  Let us tap into that joy, especially in these troubled times, and feel His restoration within us.  That joy will bubble up and spill over in every area of our lives.   Let the joy of the Lord lead you, and me, today and bring you peace within your soul.

nehemiah 8 10Let’s seek joy this summer together in Him!

Linda

Love, Hope and a Redemptive Plan = Jesus our Savior!

I love the message of truth given in Ephesians 1:4-10.  I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Here it is in the Message translation for ease in understanding,

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving ephesians 1 7by the hand of his beloved Son.   7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

God had a long range plan to redeem us.  It was not a spur of the moment decision.   In Genesis 1:26, God decided to create man,  a thinking living being in His image, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”    After giving Adam and Eve the directive to not eat of the tree of good and evil, Eve bowed to temptation from Satan and ate giving some to Adam too.  God had anticipated this as He created man with free will and planned for a way to restore men and women into relation ship with Him.  Genesis 3:15 gives the first prophecy of Jesus coming to counter Satan’s dominion over the desires of man. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hersHe’ll wound your head,  you’ll wound his heel.”   Jesus would be born into this world and give hope to mankind through His sacrifice.  

John 3 17Why would God do this?  His motivation was and is  LOVE.  He loves His creation and desires to have a relationship with us.  John 3:16-18 says, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”     

Does this give you HOPE?    Hebrews 3:6 speaks of this hope we now have in Christ. “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”   I also love Romans 5:1-2 “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.”

romans 5 2The Word is filled with references to God’s plan of redemption and the restoration of His relationship with mankind from Genesis to Revelation.  The story of God’s love for us, His desire to bring us back to Him is why Jesus came.   All these things give me Hope and I pray  they do the same for you as you meditate on Jesus, God’s love and His desire to be in relationship with you.

Linda

A different look at Ephesians beginning with Heaven-what a place!

summerI have been praying and pondering what God wants me to write about this summer. What has come to mind over and over is that He is telling me I’m not done with Ephesians.  The book of Ephesians was the foundation of my Lenten journey this year.  I worked my way through the entire book in the 6 week of Lent.  It was a rich time in Word of God,  and I was mightily blessed.  How He is leading me to write on these subjects again is to start with the lessons and truths revealed in Ephesians and search scripture for other passages that confirm the same or very similar truths.  I will not attempt to do all of the truths He revealed during our Lenten journey but as many as I can.  I am looking forward to a rich time in God’s Word these summer months.

Ephesians 1 3 ImBlessedEphesians 1:3 “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”    The truth is:   God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.  

What kind of spiritual blessings does scripture tell us we have in heaven and some that start right here on earth- here are a few I found. (Believe me the Word is filled with references to heaven and these are but a few of the blessings.)

David wrote of the physical blessings of the heavens that we have shown to us through creation itself.  Psalm 8:3-9  (a foretaste of the glories of heaven)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

We can see and know God’s handiwork even before we get to heaven.  The heavens also declare God’s righteousness, faithfulness and justice.

Psalm 36:5 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Psalm 50:6 “The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! 

Jesus said that repentance and persecution bring blessings in heaven.  Matthew 5:10-12 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

John 6 passages promise eternal life from, Jesus, the bread of heavenJohn 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

2 Corinthians 5:1-2 talks about our new heavenly home, body,  made by God, For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,”

In heaven,  all things will be united and we will have a place at his right hand, (a place of honor)  Ephesians 1:10 and 20  “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”

Peter describes our inheritance that is safe guarded in heaven, 1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Lastly, Revelation is filled with picture images of the new heaven God will create for our dwelling place for  all eternity.  Revelation 21:1-2 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

The greatest blessing of heaven,  now and in the future,  is that Christ died for you and me so we can experience these spiritual blessings.  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Spiritual-Blessings-in-Christ-I pray you have the blessing of knowing Christ and are looking forward to these eternal blessings that await us in heaven.  May you marvel at the beauty of heaven to come, the safety, completeness and glory we will see there.  Be encouraged today as you meditate on these passages.  This is our inheritance and a place all believers can look forward to in their future.  Praise God!

Linda

 

 

Sacrifice then…let us continue the fight for freedom

Today is a day that will live in history and always be known for the great sacrifice of so many for the cause of freedom and justice.   June 6, 1944  was the day of the “D-Day” invasion of Europe in 1944.   Known as Operation Overload it was cloaked in secrecy and

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Today the Allied flag still fly in memory.

various rumors were spread to mislead the enemy as to when the attack would take place.  General Eisenhower had originally chosen June 5 for the invasion but bad weather made that impossible,  so they moved forward as weather cleared on June 6.  It was the largest amphibious attack in history and some 156,000 plus troops from Great Britain, Canada and the United States landed on various beaches.  When I visited Normandy, I realized how great the coordination had to have been to attack simultaneously the different beaches.  The British and Canadians captured beaches code named Gold, Juno and Sword.  The Americans captured Utah Beach but faced heavy resistance on Omaha Beach where over 2,000 Americans died.  Some historians estimate that more than 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives in the D-Day invasion, with thousands more wounded or missing.

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Today it is beautiful and serene, but that day the beaches were covered with barbed wire and obstacles to stop the troops from landing.

 

 

 

By the day’s end, some 156,000 troops had landed successfully and led what is thought to be ‘the beginning of the end for Germany’.  By the end of August, northern France had been liberated and by the Spring of 1945 the Germans were defeated.   The coordinated efforts of all the commanders were lead by General Dwight D Eisenhower.  They successfully adapted and overcame to defeat the enemy.

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The Rangers attacked under heavy fire from the Germany guns in these bunkers on top of the cliff.

 

IMG_0810
This beautiful beach cliff was the setting of the American Rangers’ attack that morning.

 

As we ponder this day in history, let us give thanks to those who gave their lives and those who fought bravely in the face of grave danger and survived.  Thank you to those who came home and lived lives of honor and courage after having experienced the horrors of war and to those who did not return.

IMG_0826Normandy, a place of remembrance.  Let us remember their sacrifice for our freedom and not take it lightly as the cost was great.

Proverbs 10:7 “The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
May the memories bring you blessings today.

Linda

 

Faith- does it really matter?

faith-mattersAs we all struggle with the racism that has surfaced yet again in America, we need to seriously ask ourselves if faith matters. People are carrying signs that say “Black Lives Matter” which is so true- as all people matter. We are all precious and made in God’s image. The question I am pondering is does ‘faith matter’? If it indeed does, how is it manifesting itself in your life?

As Christians we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and God is working within us.  That should make a difference in the way we see our world and the people, animals and the creation that make up our world.   We should be concerned about our life and the lives of others.  Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; make and female he created them.”  He created all of us and our faith brings God into us.  Our faith in God allows us to work and live for Him.  Many of God’s attributes are for Him alone- only He is Incomprehensible, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Sovereign and Almighty.  However, many of God’s attributes are characteristics that He desires us to emulate.

ephesians-3-17If we want to be more and more like Jesus, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to develop those characteristics within us.  He desires that we are kind, loving faithful, thankful, show goodness, gentleness, joy and experience His peace.  If we are to mature in faith, the actual term is sanctification, the we need to work our our faith and live it.  It does matter – it matters to God and it matters to me.  Jeremiah 9:24 tell us what pleases God, “But let him who boast boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”  Through faith we can know God, and w can act in ways that bring Him glory and us good.

Just like ‘black lives matter’, so faith matters. It matters to you and to me. We need to humble ourselves and be open to God’s leading in our lives. When Solomon was dedicating the temple in Jerusalem, God promised a way to return to Him and save their land should they veer off course. “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14

way-we-liveLet us pray for our nation and humble ourselves seeking to do as Jesus would when dealing with others… Faith in God and Love are the ways to peace.  Faith matters, let the light of Christ shine in and through you today.

Linda

Readying yourself for Pentecost, remember the Ascension

40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.  His ascension is recorded in Mark, Luke and the book of Acts.  It took place on a mountain top in the vicinity of Bethany according to Luke 24:50-51 “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”  Mark also adds in Jesus’ destination after His ascension, Mark 16:19 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”   In the  book of Acts, Luke, the author, gives us a more complete picture of this event.  Acts 1:9-11 “And after ascensionHe said these things, He was caught up as they looked on, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight. 10 While they were looking intently into the sky as He was going, two men in white clothing suddenly stood beside them, 11 who said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

The disciples who were focused on where Jesus went and  the angels assured them that Jesus will return in the same way He left.   Jesus had lovingly told them that He would send a helper to guide and empower them in His absence.  Acts 1:7-8 “He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”  Jesus wanted His followers to be about telling others of the kingdom and the good news of the salvation and forgiveness available to each one though Jesus.   The promised Holy Spirit would come upon them in just 10 days at Pentecost and then the truth of Christ and His work would revolutionize the world!  

Christs returnAre you anticipating the return of Christ?  Be encouraged with these words from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

apologetics-1-peter-3-15-28354Are you telling others about your Savior as you wait?  Be encouraged by Peter’s words: 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”   Be ready to tell others of your HOPE in Jesus!

Linda

God sighted on the Road to Emmaus, did you see Him?

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Friends walking towards Emmaus.

One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is the encounter of the two on the Road to Emmaus.  Overcome with grief over Jesus’ death and disbelief over what the women said about seeing Him alive,  these two followers of Christ were walking along the Emmaus Road discussing all these things.  Jesus joined them on their journey without disclosing his identity.  As they walked they were surprised that this man did not know about all the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem.  They shared their hope that Jesus, the one crucified,  had been the long awaited Messiah.   Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

IMG_0692Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and listened to Jesus explain all about Himself?  A little later in the story when they were sitting down to eat, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and began to give it to them.  Right then, their eyes were opened  and they recognized Jesus.  He then disappeared from their presence.  Even though it was late they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.

Jesus came to these two when they were in grief, despair and confusion, and He cleared up their thinking, encouraged and enlivened them.  Can you remember a time when Jesus came to you in prayer or through the actions or words of another believer to give you hope and encouragement?  Jesus promises that He will be with us wherever we go.  Just like these two, we need to look and recognize His presence with us and the hope that He brings.

Thank you JesusI pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks.  I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day.  I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the truths I have gleaned from the book of Ephesians.   I will continue writing on the post-resurrection appearances leading to Pentecost (40 days after the cross).  Christ appeared many times, before His ascension, to many individuals and groups.   They are affirming and touching encounters that teach us more about the depth of His love and care for us.

Be on the lookout for God sightings this week.  Be assured He is with you!

Linda

Truth and Right Living, Armor up with Christ

Do you suit up properly for life’s battles?  Here are the first pieces of armor in Paul’s list- the belt and  breastplate.   Ephesians 6:14 “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness”,  The first things we are to put on involve our godly ephesians 6 14-beltcharacter- the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.  The root of the believer’s strength is the character he/she has in Christ.  Godly character is based on the truth of God, who He is, and how you are bound to Him through faith in Christ.  Jesus is truth and knowing Him brings truth into your lifeJohn 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  His Holy Spirit brings believers truth “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13 and His Word is truth “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  John 17:17.   The truth of godly character is base on Christ, the Holy Spirit and His Word and are the essential building blocks for godly character in our lives.

Another element of godly character that we are to put on that provides for our defense is His righteousness as ephesians 6 14-breastplateour breastplate.   The breastplate covers the heart and protects our vital organs. Since we cannot be righteous on our own because of our sin nature, we have to depend upon Christ and His righteousness.  Romans 3:21-24 “ But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”   Jesus made the way for us to be righteous before God and give us (imputes) His righteousness to us.  We are renewed through this righteousness from Christ as Paul reminded us in Ephesians 4:20-24 in The Message translation, “But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”  Righteousness is a key to a life filled with godly character and can only be obtained through Christ.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, only through Him can we have His character.

ephesians 6 14Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have godly character that is based on His truth and righteousness.  These first pieces of armor are crucial to living a life for Christ. Put them on then stand firmly rooted and grounded in Christ.

Linda

 

 

 

The Cross = Parent-Child relationships made whole

We are about to enter one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  Ephesians 6 has so much to tell us about Christ and the life He desires that we live in and through His powerful indwelling Holy Spirit.  Remember Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”?   This is the driving verse for the discussion about relationships between a husband and wife and it continues in Ephesians 6 with children and parents, then employee and employer.

eph-6 1Ephesians 6:1-4 deals with parent-child relationships.  “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

The admonition from God to obey and honor our parents was given in the 10 Commandments.  Exodus 20:12 ““Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”   Living a life with peace begins in the home.  Rebellion, strife, anger, harsh words and discord can flourish in children both young and old (meaning even you at your age) if not curbed with honor, respect and love.  We are selfish creatures and as such want our own way.  This command to honor and obey our parents has a promised return- a long and full life in the Lord.  Honor and obedience lead to peace and harmony that will lengthen the quality our lives just as disharmony, eph6-4discord and dissent will shorten it.    Paul does not end with the children but goes on to admonish all parents.  He says we are not to provoke, needle, irritate our children intentionally or be unnecessarily angry with them for anger sake.  We are to practice a parenthood that reflects Christ and remember His submission to the Father on our behalf.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we (both parent and child) are able to submit to one another with love and respect.

eph-6-2These are sobering words that call all of us to think about our parent-child relationships.  Are they honoring in God’s eyes?  In these last days of Lent, spend some time mediating on Paul’s words and seek God’s guidance in your relationships.

Linda 

 

 

Back to the light, shine for Jesus

Do you ever wake up some days and feel like you missed a day?  Somehow I wrote on Ephesians 5:15-20 before writing on Ephesians 5:9-14.   So today I’m going back to our discussion of light and dark and Paul’s admonition to us to be ‘Children of the Light’.     In verses 9-14 Paul gives us more information about what living in the Light of Christ means and what we can expect in our lives because of the light He gives us.

For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

ephesians 5 14Paul instructs us that right living pleases God and that we should expose,  avoid  and to try not to take part in anything ungodly.  The light of truth in Christ will expose the things of darkness and make everything visible.  He concludes with a common hymn of the day to illustrate his point.  The Ephesians (us too) were dead without Christ but coming to faith in Jesus brought them (us) into His light.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, His light can be seen in me.

Strive to do what is good, right and true in the name of Jesus knowing that those behaviors, deeds and actions are pleasing to God and will shine His light into the world around you.  Be that light today!

Linda