A Small Book Bringing Mighty Words for Living Forgiven

And the journey continues….to Micah. The book of Micah was written by the prophet Micah, who lived during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah. He was a contemporary with the prophets Isaiah and Hosea. This was a time of great idolatry in Israel and Judah. The Lord God was not pleased with their idol worship and Micah’s messages told of the destruction and fall of Samaria and Jerusalem as punishment for their forsaking the worship of God and worshipping other gods. Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and the Judeans managed to hold off Sennacherib’s attacks with the help of the Lord. Their return to worship of God Almighty under Hezekiah was short lived and Jerusalem fell with the Jews deported to Babylon in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar. In the midst of all the prophesies against Judah and Israel, God gave messages through Micah of hope, restoration and future glory to come through the Messiah.

To begin, I love the beautiful verse in 5:2 where the birth place of the coming Messiah is foretold. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,  who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” What hope this pinpointing of the birthplace of their Messiah must have given them. God always promised there would be a remnant, a group of believers who would remain true to their faith in Him, and a Savior to come. They did not know when their redeemer would come but now they knew where he would arrive, in Bethlehem. From the Christmas story, we know this to be true as related in Chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew and Luke.

Micah also makes a case for obedience in faith and action in Chapter 6. He states wholeheartedly what the Lord desires of us. I have always found these verse in 6:6-8 very encouraging and straight to the point of what God wants. “With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God
?”
Micah knew that God looks at the heart and knows if our offerings are sincere, or just attempts to appease Him. Micah speaks plainly about what Almighty God desires of us. We can take his words to heart and examine ourselves looking intently at our motives and actions. This requires me to daily focus on seeking the Lord with an open and sincere heart so I can act justly, walk humbly and show God’s love and kindness to others.

My favorite verses of this little book are found in 7:18-20. They remind me of who God is, His amazing character which is filled with compassion and forgiveness. Micah also highlights a great gift God made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus which was freeing us from the bondage of sin. We are forgiven through Christ. I am assured that those sins are gone, forgotten and will be remembered no more! Praise God! “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over transgression
    for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
    into the depths of the sea.

20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob

    and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
    from the days of old.”
God in His faithfulness loves and forgives me completely. As Micah said, Who is a God like you? Jesus. There is no other. Paul described Jesus in Philippians 2:9-11 ” Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am forgiven. Thank you Jesus!

May you soak in the truth and depth of God’s forgiveness and love. May you seek to do those things that please Him because of the depth of your love for Jesus and gratitude for what He has done for you.

Linda

Thankfulness That Produces Results

Colossians 3:15-17 contains precious verses to empower, direct and motivate us to live lives to the honor and glory of God. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Paul’s message has 3 directives all followed by thankfulness. 1) let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, and be thankful. 2) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,  and with thankfulness in your heart to God. 3) do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, always giving thanks to God the Father through him. Each of these actions of letting peace rule our hearts, letting His Word dwell within us and doing all we say and do in the name of Jesus need to motivate us as we seek to live for Jesus each day. Each needs to be followed with thankfulness which will be easy when you see that each of them produces great thankfulness in our hearts and minds. As we see what Christ has done for us, our gratitude increases.

How are you doing? Are you living in and with the peace of God? Jesus told his disciples and us too in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” It is yours for the asking, Jesus meant you to be at peace in Him.

Are you spending time in God’s Word and letting Him speak to you as you read and study? Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” John 17:8 “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” God’s Word is truth and reading it daily will allow Him to speak to you, minister to your soul and give you insights into your character and His.

Are you examining your words and actions to see if they line up with God’s desires, plans and commandments? Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 1 Samuel 15:22 “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God wants you to be a person of character walking in obedience to Him, with humility and trusting His plans that are for your good and His glory. God is always faithful so walk trusting Him with each day.

As you consider the 3 directives and examine your own heart, what is your level of thankfulness? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are to incorporate thankfulness into all areas of our life- in all circumstances, both good times and hard. But when we do, our peace is increased, our love and understanding of God’s word is increased and our actions begin to be more and more like Jesus which produces profound thankfulness in our hearts. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can experience profound thankfulness as I learn to hold tightly to the peace of God, the Word of God and trust in His development of my character to be more and more like Jesus.

Linda

What Kind of Character Are You Wearing?

I love today’s portion of scripture from Colossians 3:12-14 as Paul gives us clear directives on how to live the life we now have in Christ. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Paul’s challenges are found repeatedly throughout the New Testament. He challenges us to live like we are chosen by God and dearly loved by Him. 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.”

We are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

We are to live with each other upholding and uplifting and forgiving. Forgiving because we have been forgiven! Christ is our example. Ephesians 4:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

We are to love one another as that will bind us together in unity. John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 7:33 “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Paul’s familiar challenges call us to stand firmly in Christ clinging to His desires and promises for our lives. Though the power of His Holy Spirit, Christ enables us to live for Him and grow in character. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am enabled to live for Christ showing character that is humble, gentle, patient, compassionate, forgiving, loving and united with others.

Linda

What Heart Attitudes does God desire?

As we look towards Lent beginning in a few days, I need to ask myself what does God desire of my heart? In my heart search in Psalms I found new facets and attitudes of our hearts showing what God desires.  He desires that we have a bold, teachable, repentant and seeking heart in our interactions and responses towards Him.

God desires that we take a ‘No Fear’ stance in life that depends upon God and not ourselvesPsalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news;  their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Be bold for Him.

God desires that we are open to teaching and examination of our motives.  Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”  Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart;  test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Be teachable by Him.

God desires a repentant heart, one that is sorrowing over sin, the Bible also describes this as a contrite heart.  Psalm 51:17  “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”   Isaiah also speaks of our need to have a contrite heart in Isaiah 57:15 ”  The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,  the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble  and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.”       God desires us to be repentant so He can restore and dwell with us.  We have to come humbly before Him.   Since living with Him is not just when we die, we need to deal with the sin in our lives.  God living with us is being indwelt by His Holy Spirit begins when Jesus enters our hearts and lives.  Jesus gives cleansing from sin when we come before Him with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness and restoration. Be repentant or contrite towards our sin.

God desires that I have a seeking heart towards HimPsalm 119:10 “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.”  Psalm 22:26 “The afflicted (meek) shall eat and be satisfied;  those who seek him shall praise the Lord!   May your hearts live forever!”  Be a seeker of Him.

What is the temperament of your heart today?  Are you trusting, open to teaching, repentant and seeking restoration?  Would God describe your heart as contrite?  Do you sorrow over your sins and desire to walk with Jesus each day?   The opposite of each of the above would be one who is fearful, close-minded, rejecting, proud and arrogant over their sins.  I pray that none of those describe your heart and that you seek to please God.  Micah describes it this way:  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.   And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy    and to walk humbly with your God
.  Micah 6:8

 May this be the attitude of our hearts as we walk with Him today.

Linda

Jesus, a name that brings Joy for Eternity!

Today’s passage is amazingly beautiful, descriptive of our Savior and presents us with a challenge and hope for the future.  Philippians 2:5-11 is a well known and often quoted portion of scripture.  I like the New Living Translation of this passage,

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had(our challenge as believers)

Though he was God,                                      
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;    
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God      
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

jesus-names-2Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,      
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,                                            11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.     

What was Jesus’ attitude?   He was not filled with self-pride.  He could have been as He was God and possessed power and might beyond measure.  But,  He acted with sacrificial humility and came to earth in human form with the purpose of saving us though His death on the cross.  He was obedient to God’s plan of redemption.  The result was God honored His obedience forever and made us all be subject to Jesus.  What a challenge to live each day with an attitude like Christ’s  with humility, a servant’s heart, a willingness to put others first and with pure devotion and love for God.   Only through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit is it possible.  Jesus promised in Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   Live life each day, trusting in the power of Jesus, the name above all names!

As I read this passage, I am awestruck by Jesus’ humility and sacrifice.  He gave up His position in heaven to come to earth to save and to serve.  How much He must love us!

My joy is increased today:

  • as I consider how much God loves me.
  • as I see that obedience brings blessings.
  • as I see that no matter how things look right now, God has a plan for eternity and is in His control.
  • jesus key to joyas I realize that Jesus in King now and forever!

Have a blessed day and may there be joy in your heart and on your lips!

Linda

Joy in Being Like Minded…

The portion of Philippians for today’s blog has caused me to think and then rethink what it means for my life.  Paul starts out with a statement that should cause us to pause and evaluate our life experiences.  I like the New Living Translation as I think it makes it  Philippians 2-2clearer.  Philippians 2:1-2 “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”   It seems Paul is saying if we have experienced Christ in our life through His love and compassion or felt the indwelling Holy Spirit within us then we should be able to work together with other believers having Christ and His gospel ministry as our priority.  Being like minded does not mean uniformity like we are clones of one another.  God made us to be individuals and gave us uniquely different gifts.  We are to use them in working together striving to be joined in Christlike attitude.  When we digress into petty arguments or oppose one another for the sake of opposition then we are not practicing God’s love towards one another and are hindering the spread of the gospel.  Paul is saying that being like minded brings him complete joy or makes him truly happy.   Seeing fellow believers working together in unity makes him glad!    Paul goes on to admonish us to watch our “self” attitudes and motives and humbly look out for others. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”  Sobering thoughts.

Paul’s words are as applicable today as they were to the believers of ancient Phillipi.  People digress and desire to look out for themselves and their own interests rather than seeking to look out for the interest of others.  Jesus wants us to have godly priorities:  God first then man.  He gave this as a command in Matthew 22:38-39 “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Take some time today and reexamine your priorities- who are you putting first in your life?  What is motivating you-love of God or love of self? Do, like Paul, find joy in seeing people work together in love and commitment to Christ?

helping othersMy Joy is increased: 

  • I can be like-minded in and through Christ with other believers. (vs 2)
  • I can experience joy as I focus on Christ and not worldly self-interests. (vs 3)
  • I can have a loving and compassionate attitude towards others because of Christ in me. (vs 4)

Do these truths bring you joy?  Hopefully, they will cause you to meditate and pray asking God to infuse you with His Holy Spirit and cause you to walk humbly before Him.  That will surely  bring you joy!!

Linda

A Call to PRAY this 5th Sunday of Lent 2020 in a virus filled world

Sovereign-LordHere are some verses to uplift, encourage and challenge you this 5th Sunday of Lent as our world struggles with the pandemic of Covid-19:

God is Sovereign: Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,   and his kingdom rules over all.”   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.”    John 10:29 “ My Father, who has given (my sheep- believers) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”    Each of these verses shows God’s Sovereign power.  He is Creator God and there is none greater.  Once we belong to Him, nothing and no one can take us away from Him.  God is the determiner of mankind and those things He allows to come into our lives.   Like the plagues of the Old Testament, pray, pray, pray for God’s mercy in these days of Covid-19.  Humble yourselves and turn back to Him and seek Him and His forgivenessWe 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.” Romans 3:22-23   God promises sovereignrestoration and forgiveness if:    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 

Please pray.

Here are the truths we found in God’s Word from Ephesians 4:17-5:20 this last week.  They are rich and bring joy and challenge to the believer as we endeavor to walk with Him each day.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be a new creation in Jesus!  Ephesians 4:17-24

We are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God.   Ephesians 4:25-32

We can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.  Ephesians 5:1-2

I can choose light and life with HimEphesians 5:3-8

His light can be seen in me.  Ephesians 5:9-14

How I live my life for Him matters.  Ephesians 5:15-20

May you have a Sunday filled with His love and be able to spend time praying and mediating on His Sovereignty and His wonderful truths from Ephesians.

Linda