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

Being real imitators = Life filled with Love

Paul begins Ephesian Chapter 5:1-2 having arrived at a conclusion as to how believers ephesians 5 1-2in Jesus should act.  “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us  and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”   He exhorts us to imitate GodWhat does that mean to you?   Think of God’s attributes and consider the ones that He desires we have – like being forgiving, loving, kind, gentle, compassionate, thankful, pure, holy, ….  God desires that we follow Christ’s example and imitate Him because He dearly loves us and we are His children.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross pleased God as it redeemed all mankind from death and enabled us to come before Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.

Where do you need to imitate Christ in your life?  With your family, at work or school, on committees or groups you belong to??   Living a life of authentic Christianity is a call to sacrifice, humility and openness before God.  I love Philippians 1:6 because it assures me that I am not in this struggle to live for Christ alone,  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 4:19  assures me that He has what I need to live for Him, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”   We can have hope that God Jesus-likewill finish what He started in us when we became believers.  He always completes what He starts!  We can do this because God has the resources for all our needs.  We just need to ask and be willing to serve Him.  Be imitators of Christ today and experience His love in your life.

Linda

The Cross = access to God!

Paul concludes this section on the mystery of the gospel and his work among the Ephesians as a teacher and preacher with a revelation about the unique freedom they now have in Christ.  Ephesians 3:12 “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”   3 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.”  Paul  wanted them to focus on the position available to them because of their faith in Christ and not to feel sorry for him as he writes to them from prison in Rome.  He felt it was a privilege to suffer in the name of Christ, not a burden.

So what is this unique freedom we now have as believers in Christ?  Paul says we now have the ability to come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  This is a  unique status given only to believers. Ephesians 3-12Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have access to the God the Father in prayer.  We do not need to go to or though anyone to have our requests made known to God.  In the past, the Israelites had to go through their High Priest to present their needs to the Lord.  Now, each person can approach the throne of God in prayer and lay your heart’s desires,  needs,  hopes and dreams before the Lord.  The Lord Jesus is now our High Priest and presents our prayers to the Father. When we struggle for words or thoughts, Jesus intercedes for us and knows exactly what we are thinking or feeling.  Hebrews 8:1b “we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,”   

Here are a few verses that talk about this unique privilege of prayer:

Hebrews 4:16 “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.”

1 John 5:14:  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

hebrews 4-16 confidencePray with confidence today, God hears your prayers.  Pray to stay in God’s will and He will give you the grace and mercy you need.  God is faithful and keeps His promises.  I love Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”  God is 100% faithful and will hear our prayers.   His ways are not our ways, so we need trust Him and not  seek to demand our own way or try to tell God what to do.  I am always amazed at God’s answers to my prayers as He often answers in ways I could never have imagined.  Pray in faith, knowing He absolutely hears you and let God take care of the details!     Thank you Jesus for interceding for me as I approach the Father in prayer. 

Linda

“Masterpieces” by God

ephesians 2 8I love today’s verses in Ephesians 2:8-10.   They bring renewed hope, purpose and clarification from God showing His great love, generosity, planning and sovereignty.  I particularly like the New Living Translation as it brings added clarity to the passage.      “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For ephesians 2 10we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

What hope we have because we believe in Jesus!  We are assured that we don’t have to try and ‘earn’ our way into heaven.  God promises us that there is nothing we can do now or in the future to earn our salvation.  It is purely a gift from our gracious God.  God loves us and we are important to Him.  We are His masterpieces.  He loves us and has prepared good works for us to do in His name.  There are many scriptures that confirm these facts:

John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”   His grace is perfectly complete, giving us all we need.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Salvation is a free gift, not earned.

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.   Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”   God specifically created each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   God’s plans are complete and for my good, I can place my hope in them.

James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?   As a believer, genuine faith will cause me to seek to do good works for Jesus.

We can cling to these verses from our loving and gracious God knowing we are here with a purpose by His design.  We can trust His sovereignty in all things.   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Have a blessed day as you prayerfully considerGod’s grace towards you, His sovereignty over your life and the good works He has lovingly prepared for you.

Linda

But God! Thankfully, His grace abounds towards us!

Yesterday, Paul reminded us of our state of sinfulness before knowing Christ in Ephesians 2:1-3.  epheisans 2 4 but-godIn today’s verses, Paul brings us hope that through the mercy of God we were not left in that horrible state, BUT GOD!    We can be totally encouraged by our present and future!   Ephesians 2:4-7  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 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.”   

Blank white paperWow!!! In His mercy, God intervened and sent Jesus to die for our sins and be raised from the dead.  Through His act of love, He offered salvation through faith in Jesus.  It was totally God.  He alone could save us from our sin, and we did or can do nothing to earn His love.  We can’t be good enough or work hard enough to make God love or save us- it is solely through His grace- God’s unmerited favor towards us.   Paul tells us God’s plans did not stop with salvation,  but He desires to have us dwell with Him in eternity in heavenly places so He can show us His amazing grace and kindness up close and personal.   Amazing!

I am so thankful that God intervened.  Romans 5:8 confirms this truth “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Sinful man would be a hopelessly lost but for God.    Does that fact make you thankful?  Do you feel loved by God?   Can you feel the grace of Jesus in your lifeJohn 1:14, 16 “And the john 1 16Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”    

Through the power of Jesus’  indwelling Holy Spirit, we are filled with His grace each day.  Live today like you believe you are filled with His grace and love.  Look for His gracious hand of protection and favor as you go through this day.   When you see it or feel it, raise your voice in praise to Him!  You will be amazed by God’s grace and love.

Linda

Here’s a guarantee you can count on!

ephesians 1 13-14Today’s verses are some of the most precious in the New Testament and I refer to them often in my writing and speaking.  They tell of our wonderful inheritance of salvation through faith in Christ and inclusion in God’s family through the power of the Holy Spirit.  His power within us is our guarantee of God’s hope and promises to come.  Be encouraged as you read, Ephesians 1:13-14 “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”

I love that God knew us so well.  He knew that our finite minds would need a guarantee to confirm our faith and help us cling to His promises.  Praise God for the Holy Spirit that He has placed within us through faith.  The Holy Spirit confirms and testifies with our spirit giving us hope and assurance in Him.  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”  Romans 8:16

romans 8 16Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.  Praise God!  Thank you Jesus!

Linda

#9 Practicing Devotion to God- by relying upon His Grace

 What is Grace? It is defined as God’s unmerited favor towards us.   We did nothing and can do nothing to deserve His favor.  It is something that God gives us freely by faith in Jesus from the depth of His love for us.  Scripture teaches us that God’s grace is always sufficient and because God is omnipotent He will never run out of grace.  2Corinthians 12-92 Corinthians 12:9  is one of my go to verses for power, strength and assurance about God’s grace.  Paul recalls the words of Christ to him,  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”    God graciously gives us what we need in our weakness and brings glory to Himself by showing His power in our lives.   I cling to the sufficiency of His grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”   We are saved by grace_alone_770x280His grace, certainly not by anything we have done or will do.  We cannot be good enough, clean enough or pure enough on our own. Salvation is a gracious gift of God given to us through our faith in Jesus.  He saves us by grace and graciously uses us to do  His good works.  He could do everything himself,  but He graciously allows us to participate for our good and His glory.

Hebrews 4:16 adds one other dimension to His grace towards us.   Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   Because of our faith in Jesus, our high priest, and His work on the cross, we have access to God and can approach Him in prayer.  When we do, we are assured that we will find grace and mercy in our times of need.  There is never a time that God is not with me and I can always know that He will meet my needs with grace and mercy.  What a blessed hope!

GodsGraceMay you grow to trust in His grace, lean into and depend upon His grace and let His grace give you Hope as you draw near to Him with a heart of love and devotion.

Linda

I pray you have been blessed as  much as I have by going through these 9 practical ways to show our loyalty and devotion to God.  We can practice devotion to God by:  recalling His attributes, remembering His good works towards us, relating to Him in prayer, reading and meditating on His Word, resting in our identity in Christ,  repenting regularly, responding to the world biblically, remembering our Savior and relying upon His grace.  May you remember to incorporate these into your life on a daily basis and receive His blessings!

#3 Practicing Devotion to God- Pray

prayerThe third practical way to experience love and commitment to God is to PRAY.  The Bible is filled with people talking, communing, listening and responding to God in prayer.  Isaac prayed for his wife Rebekah to conceive as she was barren, Hannah prayed rejoicing as God gave her a son to love,  David prayed for protection and guidance as he fled from Saul, Solomon prayed for wisdom to rule the people, Nehemiah prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem,  Jonah prayed from the belly of the fish, Jesus prayed many times to commune with His father while here on Earth, the Apostles prayed for guidance in presenting the gospel and encouraged all believer to pray constantly.  These are just a few examples of the who, when and why people prayed.

We often think of prayer as me talking and God listening.  All of the above knew that God was accessible in prayer and that He would answer with guidance, hope, love and compassion.  In Psalm 16: verses 7, 11 David reveals how he feels about prayer.  I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;  in the night also my heart instructs me.”  ” You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”    David received God’s guidance and counsel as God laid on his heart what he should do.  God revealed the right pathway in life to him. 

 Jesus instructed us on prayer in Matthew 6: 5-13He told us what not to do in verse 5,7-8 and then what to do in verses 6, 9-13.  Do Not “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.    Do “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”   Pray then like this:

lords-prayer“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.”

Prayer is personal as you alone can speak with Almighty God and lay your concerns, hopes, dreams and desires before Him.  As you learn to trust Him, He will reveal His will and desires to you.  Psalm 37:3,4 are some of my favorite verses and I pray and claim them often.  “Trust in the Lord and do good;  dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.Take delight in the Lord,  and he will give you the desires of your heart.”   

Psalm-37-4Talk with God, trust Him with the desires of your heart, keep on doing good and be safe in His arms.

Linda

Plans, Dreams Realized in Walking with God. Thanks Dr. King for your example.

i-have-a-dream-mlkToday is deemed Martin Luther King Day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood for rightness in the fight for freedom and equality for all men.  He was very eloquent in speech and inspired many with his life and his fight against oppression.  He challenges the generations to dream of equality and reach for it.  Where do you have unrealized dreams today?  Are you actively pursuing them, keeping them in focus and grabbing onto opportunities to make them happen?

This year my word is HOPE and like Dr. King I need to put my faith and trust in God and walk in Hope.  What about you?  Have you chosen patience as your word- do you need to purse patience in moving towards the goals God has for you?  Have you chosen structure- do you need to form a plan or have a pattern for your daily success?  Have you chosen peace- do you need to develop an attitude of peace in your heart and towards those around you this year?   Like Dr. King, we want our dreams and goals to be accomplished and we want to glorify God in the process.  I came across this verse today that fits in and encouraged me.  Proverbs 16:3 in the Message translation. Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.”  Keep God in your focus, in your heart, in your prayer life and He will bring you to it and through it this year for your good and His glory!

As we remember Dr. King today and honor his achievements for mankind. think how much God has for you to accomplish and what wonderful purposes He has for you.  We know for certain that He has a plan and a purpose for each of us.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11  Put God in charge of your plans and He will align them with His will to accomplish His purposes.  His are the best plans of all. Let go this year and let God be in charge.   But Jesus looked at them and said, Matthew19_26_All thingsWith man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26.

Linda

Total Hope, where do you find it?

These first few weeks of 2020 I have been looking into HOPE as it is my chosen word for the year.  I saw survival hope in Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”, Hope in God’s Word, Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield;  I hope in your word.”,  Hope in God’s steadfast Love, Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,”, Hope in the future, Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” and daily Hope for living, Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  

Today’s verse helps me to see that God is my Total HopePsalm 62:5-7                            psalm 62 5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”     

I love the truth of these words written by the psalmist David so long ago.  They are truths confirmed throughout scripture.  My hope comes from God aloneHe is the one who stands by me and holds me in times of distress and trouble  Psalm 107:13 “they cried to the Lord in their trouble,   and he delivered them from their distress.”   God is so strong and mighty, so sure and complete that He cannot be shaken, Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.    He gave me salvation through faith in Jesus, Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”.   God alone is working in my life to mold and shape me into the person He desires me to be and shares His glorious attributes with me,  Romans 5:3-5 “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.”   He is the holder of my salvation and sent the Holy Spirit as my guarantee, 2 Corinthians 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Do these truths about God alone give you Hope for surviving, loving, learning and leaning on the truth of His Word, for looking into the future and for daily living?  God is my total Hope and that Hope is in Him alone.  He is and has all the hope I need.  in christ alone“Thank you Jesus for bringing God’s Hope to me.”  

May you grab hold of His Hope today and be uplifted and strengthened.

Linda