Mary Praises Merciful God!!

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” Luke 1:50-55

mercy-savesYesterday I wrote about Mary’s praise for God’s preserving character, but today I want to focus on her praise for God’s mercy.  She knew God to be merciful, why?  She had seen Him show mercy on those who love and worship Him.  She had seen God’s mercy in her people’s history and in her own.

What does it mean that God is merciful?   God in His mercy does not give us what our sins deserve.  He limits the extent of pain.  He restrains evil and holds back sin.  He makes His gospel known in places where people have turned their backs on Him.  God seeks those who are lost, alone, hurting and in need.  He forgives and restores those who repent and turn to Him in faith.

grace-mercy

Mary knew that due to their sins in the past- worshiping other gods, idolatry, the people of Israel should have been abandoned by God in the desert, in Babylon, to their enemies, BUT God in His mercy saved them.  She knew that because of their rejection of Him- they should have been overpowered, taken captives and scattered throughout the world, BUT God in His mercy brought them back, kept them as one people returning them from Egypt and Babylon.  Mary knew that God is merciful to the individuals who love and revere Him- David as he fled from King Saul’s persecution, Daniel who survived the Lion’s Den, Joseph who survived being taken captive, imprisoned, wrongfully treated and then elevated to a high position so he could save his brothers, and herself.  She knew God was merciful to her by allowing her to be the mother of the coming Messiah, for choosing her, protecting and keeping her safe in a culture that would have rejected and mistreated her.   Her love for God and her thankfulness for His unending mercies shouts to us today.

How have you experienced God’s mercy?  Has He found you when you were lost spiritually, been with you when you were alone, or come to you when you were hurting from worldly circumstances?  Definitely if you know Jesus as your Savior, you have experienced the mercy of forgiveness and restoration, salvation and the hope it brings.  What mercy can you thank God for this Christmas season?   One of my favorite promises is Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet 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.”   I know and trust that God in His mercy will renew me each morning and give me a fresh new day.  God is merciful, loving and faithful to me.  Mary knew this, do you?

Thankful for God’s mercies to me,

Linda

Here is a quote I found that really spoke to me.  This truth gives me great reason to Praise Him along with Mary for His great Mercy.

the-mercy-of-god-will-always-be-greater-than-any-sin

 

Let it be heard! Blessings from Mary.

I had the privilege of speaking Sunday morning at my church.  My topic was Mary’s story.  In my address, I give thoughts about Mary and what we can learn from her.  I do hope this is a blessing to you.  It was to me as I studied and let God organize my thoughts for this presentation.

Blessings from the First Sunday of Advent,

Linda

Lessons learned this month-did you get it too?

A lesson and truth I received from the scriptures we studies this month on cultivating a habit of thankfulness in our lives is this:  Thankfulness has a powerful affect on me and all those around me.

contagious thanksHow have you seen this to be true this season of thanksgiving?  Is your mindset towards thanks contagious?  “How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9  Paul felt that the thanks he had for his fellow believers, for their faith and love for God, caused him to rejoice.  He saw God working in their lives and this brought joy and thankfulness to his own worship.  I would call that contagious thanks.  Have you ever been thankful for someone or something and it caused you to give thanks to God?  As we live our lives, we need to look for those things that God gives us that create ‘contagious thanks’ within our hearts.  As we give thanks to Him in these situations, God will faithfully create in us a thanks that will be contagious and will result in our being in a constant state of thankfulness and joy.  Paul left the Thessalonians with these words in 5:16-18  “ Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  

blessings jarDevelop that attitude of gratitude and watch it grow in your own life and then watch it rub off into the lives of those around you.

Linda

The Blackest Friday = Profit for you and me!

black fridayI was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’.  It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’.  It began as a term to describe the crowds,  like the street was black with pedestrians.  It then became a day  to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased.   In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.  Luke 23:44-46   The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me.  His death on that darkest day brought the greatest profit for us.  John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen.  “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath.  Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they hurried to get Jesus down from the cross,  buried and settled in a borrowed tomb.  Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste.  After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday.  “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”  Mark 16:1  Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of risensin and death.  An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  What joyous news they had to share!

That blackest Friday brought death to Jesus and  burial brought the greatest profit to you and me.  Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it.  And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”    That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history.  Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be colossians 1 ;21in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven.   We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God and that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin.  That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.

As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him as you do.

Blessings,

Linda

Is Jesus Personal to You?

Psalm 118 28Who is God to you?  To King David He was a personal God, one who saved, loved, protected, helped, restored,cared for and directed him throughout his life.  In Psalm 118:28-29 David desires to give thanks to his God.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;  you are my God; I will extol you.     Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  for his steadfast love endures forever!

David had a personal relationship with God and knew who He was and how he could depend upon Him.  I too have a relationship with God that was made available to me through Jesus.  Knowing Jesus as my savior opened the door to having God’s indwelling Spirit within me.  Jesus put it this way in John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  Jesus told Martha in John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”  I don’t have ‘religion’;  I have a relationship with God.  I am His daughter.   Paul described our new relationship with God in Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”    Is God your Father?  Do you claim your status as an adopted son or daughter of God through Jesus?

personal godMake God personal today and move into a relationship with Him.   1 John 1:9 tells us how to know Jesus-  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   Make this your first Thanksgiving with Him- ask for His forgiveness for the sins you’ve committed.  You know the words you’ve used to hurt others, your selfishness, your unkind actions… the list for all of us goes on and on as this is the sin nature we were born with.  Put a stop to this circle of sinning and invite Jesus into your life.  Like David, you will have a personal relationship with God.  That relationship is worthy of all our thanks and praise to Jesus who made it possible.  Knowing Jesus will change your life!  Praise and thank Him this Thanksgiving for this new life.  If you know Jesus, thank Him today for His marvelous grace and forgiveness.

1peter3 15Share your thanks with someone else this year.  1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to share our hope in Jesus with gentleness and kindness, “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,”  Jesus is the good news of life to a dying world.  Be bold and share Him with others.  You will be blessed.

Linda

What Stops You from Giving Thanks?

Daniel was an upright believer in God who was in a position of power in Babylon.  His adversaries hated him and sought to discredit him.   They tried but could find nothing to hold against him.  So, they got the idea to ask King Darius, over the Medo-Persian Empire, to make a law that no one could pray to any other god but him for a whole month.  The king was pleased, puffed up and overtaken with pride,  so he signed a law making it unlawful, on penalty of death, to worship any god but him.  The men who hated Daniel knew Daniel prayed to the God of Israel three times a day without fail.  They were hoping that he could continue this and then they could catch him and have him put to death.

Daniel 6:10 “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”   Daniel knew of their hatred and deceit but he trusted God more.  The story continues and Daniel is called before the king for praying to his God.  The king realized his mistake but could not change the law, since once a law was signed even the king was helpless to change it.  The penalty was being cast into a den with hungry lions.  The king liked Daniel and did not want to see him killed but was powerless.  The unbelieving king did something amazing, “Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.  Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to daniel 6 21the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:16,18,19-22 

The lesson for us in this favorite Old Testament story that is that Daniel was committed to God.  He knew his God was more powerful than any earthly king,  and he would not relinquish God’s place of preeminence in his life to anyone, no matter the cost.  Daniel 6:10 said he prayed as was his custom and gave thanks.  Nothing could deter Daniel from prayer and thanksgiving.   Romans 12:12 describes Daniel’s attitude towards prayer. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

romans 12 12What about you?  What stops you from praying daily?  Our obstacles could not be any bigger than death by lions,  but we let them rob us of our prayer time and take away our opportunities to give thanks and praise Almighty God.  Will you mediate on this today and ask God to reveal to you what is taking preeminence in your life that keeps you from regular prayer?  Confess it to Him and start praying regularly with praise and thanksgiving.

Linda 

I AM…the Resurrection and the Life

“I AM the Resurrection and the Life..”  This profound statement was made to grieving Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus.  The sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus that their brother, who Jesus loved, was ill.  Jesus knew he would die before he arrived so he delayed his return 2 more days.   By the time Jesus returned, Lazarus was already laid in the tomb and his body wrapped and spiced.    When they heard that Jesus had arrived, Martha went out to meet him and said,  Lazarus would not have died if you had been here.  Jesus replied, “Your brother will rise again.”   Martha being a good Jew believed in the resurrection of all dead at the end of time and said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection JOhn 11 25at the last day.” Jesus’ reply to her is life changing. 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  Her reply reveals her true belief and knowledge of  Jesus27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  John 11:21-27   

Martha believed that Jesus was God and could have saved Lazarus had He been there.  However, Jesus’ meaning goes further when He says He is resurrection and faith in Him will lead to eternal life.  To show Martha this truth, He had her take him to the tomb where they had laid Lazarus.  Then Jesus had them roll the stone away and He called to Lazarus to come out of the tomb.   Lazarus rose and staggered out of the tomb as he was bound in his burial clothes.  Jesus commanded them to take off the grave clothes and let him go.  The raising of Lazarus  brought glory to God,  showed Jesus’ power over life and death and foreshadowed His own ability to rise from the dead.  His power was real and He truly was the resurrection and life to Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

resurrection hopeThis I AM statement by Jesus gives the believer hope in the future as we know our eternity will be with Jesus. It also gives assurance that belief in Jesus and His resurrection power will one day bring us to Him.   Do you  believe, like Martha, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, the Son of God?  That belief was life changing for Mary, Martha and Lazarus and is for us too.   Today, ponder the hope you have in the resurrected Christ and the assurance you have of eternity with Him.   Be encouraged.

Linda

A Day of Remembrance-9/11

9 11As we ponder the significance of 9/11 today, what comes to your mind?  This is the 19th year anniversary of that tragic attack on the twin towers in NY and the Pentagon.  Many of those alive today have no memory of that horrific day and those terrifying events.  The same could be said for December 7th and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Both bring extreme sadness at the unnecessary loss of innocent lives, the aftermath of the events and their impact on families, the nation and our way of life.  A great sense of invasion and insecurity looms in my mind.

As I looked back, four years ago on 9/11 my new book, Promises for Dynamic Living arrived.  The arrival of a new book you’ve written is a momentous time for an author.  At the heart of this book is hope and security.  God’s Word provides us with an anchor for our souls in Christ and redemption though His work on the cross.   Knowing promises our Heavenly Father has made to us, gives me hope as I know He is eternal and always faithful to keep His promises.  He promised to send a savior and He did in the person of His own Son- Jesus.  What hope we have in Christ! He fulfilled all the promises in the Bible about himself and all questions about redemption are Yes in Him.  We do not need to fear for our future as it is guaranteed by Christ himself.

So what of 9/11 and those fears and insecurities?  Turn them over to Jesus and depend upon Him in all things.  We can cling to Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”    Nahum 1:7  “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”  John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”    I pray one of these verses gives you added hope in Jesus today.

Living in a troubled world with HOPE,

hope in Christ

Linda

A study in God’s Word that will bring you hope and assurance for living in a troubled world.  Available on Amazon or at Certa Publishing.Promises-for-dynamic-living-cover

I AM…the door of the sheep

John-10-9Many translations use the word gate instead of door, but the sheep pen used by shepherds was a rock enclosure with only 1 gate or door into the pen.  They would sleep at the door preventing anyone or thing from entering and harming their sheep.  This is a wonderful picture of Jesus as our protector or guardian of our safety.  One we are in his ‘pen’ no one or nothing can ever take us away from Him.

Jesus adds to this idea of guardian by saying He is the door.  John 10:7 -9 “So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”   When we accept Jesus into our life we have entered by the door- the only door to salvation.  Act 4:12 confirms this truth, “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.”  Many might say there are many ways to be saved, many doors or gates but Jesus is emphatic that He is the only true door to salvation.  He warns that others -thieves and robbers have or will come, but He admonishes us to not listen to their lies and depend upon Him for salvation.

Why choose Jesus?  His door leads to love, compassion, freedom from sin, an inheritance sealed with by the Holy Spirit, life eternal, …. the benefits are many for those that choose to enter into a relationship with Jesus.  He is the only one who can redeem us romans 5 9from our sin-filled state of being, Romans 5:8-9  “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”  Meditate upon His goodness and love for you today and His mercy in loving you even when you still in sin- He sent Jesus to redeem you!  Praise God! 

Linda

The Amazing Creator

creator godGod refers to himself as Creator in Isaiah 43:15 “I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.”   In Isaiah 40:28 Isaiah speaks of the hope that this Creator brings to us, Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.”    This Creator of heaven and earth, the one who made us and everything in the universe wants to be our King.   Isaiah’s passage tell us this creator is eternal, has unlimited energy and power, is not subject to human weaknesses like being tired, weary or falling away and His knowledge is beyond end.  

Have you ever spent time gazing at God’s creation?  Those things that we make reflect on our abilities, ingenuity, creativity, dexterity, resources and perseverance.  How much more so with God and His creation of the universe.  It speaks of His majesty, unlimited knowledge, sense of humor and creativity, grandeur and power.  Psalm 19:1-2 puts it so psalm 19 1-2eloquently, The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above  proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.”

I hope you have had some time this summer to go out and about in God’s grand creation.  Did you reflect on the Creator as you gazed at His marvelous creation all around you?  As summer wanes and we head into the busy fall season with school and multiple activities, I pray you will take some time to think about how awesome our God is and all He has created for you to enjoy.  All creation, including you, is made to bring glory and honor to God, the Creator.  Let us strive today to bring glory to Him in what we say and do.

Linda