Blessed Assurance- Salvation is #1

When we think about blessings and what it means to be blessed, one of the first things that comes into the mind of the believer is salvation.  Truly being spared the wrath of God in judgement and being able to live with Him forever in heaven is a BIG blessing.  ps32Scripture tell us exactly that in Psalm 32:1-2.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

We are spared from the wrath of God (God’s anger over sin) because Jesus came, died on the cross and rose again so that we could be reconciled to God. (Romans 5:10-12)   His blood provides the atonement for our sins as He covers us so that when God looks at the believer He sees Jesus’ atoning blood not our sin.   “God gave Christ as a sacrifice to pay for sins through the spilling of his blood. So God forgives the sins of those who have faith. God did all this to prove that he does what is right. He is a God of mercy.”  Romans 3:25    We are forgiven and God promises to not hold our sins against us.  I love these verses in Micah about God, His forgiveness and the fact that He casts my sins into the depths of the sea.  Praise God once confessed, our sins are gone forever!  Micah 7:8-10 

Lord, who is a God like you?
    You forgive sin.
You forgive your people
    when they do what is wrong.
micah 7 19You don’t stay angry forever.
    Instead, you take delight in showing
    your faithful love to them.
19 Once again you will show loving concern for us.
    You will completely wipe out
    the evil things we’ve done.
You will throw all our sins
    into the bottom of the sea.

How blessed am I?   Because of Jesus and His sacrifice, God forgives my sin and casts it into the depths of the sea.   Because of Jesus,  I can continue to walk with Him each day and have His light to shine for others.  1 John 1:6-7 puts it this way.  Suppose we say that we share life with God but still walk in the darkness. Then we are lying. We are not living out the truth. But suppose we walk in the light, just as he is in the light. Then we share life with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his Son, makes us pure from all sin.”   

alive blessedMay your day be filled with joy as you reflect on your treasured state of being- forgiven, all your sins are gone out of God’s sight forever, you are able to walk with Jesus in His light each day and saved for eternity.  Now there are eternal blessings we can count upon!

Linda

A New Spirit for the New Year

102685840-happy-new-year-2019-poster-templateHappy New Year!  I can’t believe 2018 is done and we are ready to embark on 2019.  At this time of year we wonder what the year will bring- changes in places, people, relationships and even jobs.  It is a good time to take a closer look at our relationship with God and reevaluate our commitment and devotion to Him.  God never changes.  Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”   Psalm 33:11, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”  James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  These are just a few verses that reassure us that God is immutable and never changes.  Knowing that fact about God, we can look more closely at ourselves, our attitudes and actions. 

How do I remain faithful to a faithful God?   God reassured the children of Israel when they were taken into captivity in Babylon that He would be their sanctuary.  He alone would hold them steady in faith.  Ezekiel 11:19 “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,”   God promises to put a new spirit within us and remove our heart of stone- attitudes of rebellion, faithlessness, unbelief, despair, rejection….   God can and will remove those from you and give you a NEW SPIRIT for the New Year.   He will give you a heart that is loving, compassionate, believing, and filled in christ alonewith hope.   How do you get this new heart and spirit?  In Christ alone our hope is found.  1 John 5:11-12 describe our hope. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  Belief in Jesus, commitment to Him in gratitude and service is a place to begin.  Repentance of past sins and asking forgiveness brings us to our knees and realigns our hearts with Him.

New Year new spiritCelebrate your life in Christ, your hope in Christ and be assured that God will give you a new heart and a new spirit to live triumphantly in Him this year!  2019 Bring it on!  We’re ready with a repentant heart looking to our Savior.

Linda

Need focus? Be encouraged today!

1 Corinthians 15 51This last Sunday of 2018 where is your focus?  Handel turns our thoughts to Christ’s return and the changes it will bring as he nears the completion of his work in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.  “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”  Wow! Now that will be a transformation!  In a nanosecond in time we will be changed as we hear the trumpet signaling Christ’s return.  We do not know when this will happen, but can be assured that it will happen just as Christ said.  1 Thessalonians 5:2 addresses the time of His return. “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”  We don’t know the day or time so we need to be ever ready for His return.  John ends his vision in Revelation 22:20 with this hope.  “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!

Praise our Savior today as you worship!  Revel in all He has done and will do in the future for you and me.   As you look to 2019, pray for His return and stand with new hope and assurance that He will help you to overcome all obstacles that lie ahead.  Praise Him for the victory that will be yours in Christ as you seek to follow Him each new day.

Linda

Enjoy the music and lovely pictures.

Possessed by the Savior

The duties of the risen Messiah are foretold in Psalm 2:7-9.  I chose the Amplified version to give us some additional help in understanding these words included in the Messiah.

psalm 2 7 “I will declare the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son;
This day [I proclaim] I have begotten You.

‘Ask of Me, and I will assuredly give [You] the nations as Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth as Your possession.

‘You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall shatter them [in pieces] like earthenware.’”

Paul quotes verse 7 in his impassioned preaching to the Jews in Antioch recorded in Acts 13:32-33.  He was describing Jesus as the awaited and prophesied Messiah.  And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’”  God claims Jesus as Son and establishes His right to rule over all the earth.   The author of Hebrews also includes verse 7 when referring to Christ’s God given superiority over all angelic beings.   He rightly includes all beings in heaven and earth will worship the Son.  Hebrews 1:5-6  “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?  Or again,  “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.

What do these prophecies mean to us? Our Savior and Lord is God’s Son and will rule over all creation both in heaven and on earth.  This is not wishful thinking by God but presented as fact that His Son will rule as King.  God gives each of us to His Son as a precious possession.  Ephesians 1:14 refers to all believers as belonging to Christ and being sealed by His Holy Spirit.In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Peter also refers to believers as being a special possession of Christ’s  special possessionin 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”   Peter reminds us we are called to proclaim Jesus as we have seen His light and were called out of unbelief.

christmasLet us praise our risen King and all He accomplished on our behalf as we consider the babe in the manger.   I love the description of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”  Thank you Jesus.

Linda 

The 4th Sunday of Advent-worship and be blessed!

Psalm 2 is highlighted in the Messiah as it pointed to Jesus.  It foretells how the nations would conspire against Jesus to condemn Him, but even their plotting and actions were used by God for our good and the redemption of all mankind.                                                       Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed,

job42-2All the raging of nations, the shouting of atheists and the persecution of believers are all vain threats against the Lord and His plans.  Job spoke with confidence in Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Isaiah 8:10 reveals God’s plans against the warring Assyrians.  Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand,  for God is with us.   

Do you have the confidence Job and Isaiah showed about who God is and what power He possesses?  Think about Christmas and the miracle of Jesus’ birth, the sovereignty of God shown in all the prophecies being exactly fulfilled at the exact right time in history.  In the spirit of God’s sovereignty, claim Jeremiah 29:11 for your own life knowing and trusting God and His will.  “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.” 

psalm 2 11I love the way Psalm 2 ends with verses 11-12.                 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Serve, fear-revere, rejoice, kiss Jesus (adore Him) then be ready to receive His blessings as you cling to Him.  Have a blessed Sunday worshiping the Lord!

Linda

Good News for you and me! Shout it out!!

In this next portion of scripture I envision the angels as they announce the arrival of our Savior to the shepherds, or Paul as he preaches about the ‘good news’ of the gospel.  Like many prophecies it has already been fulfilled and yet there is one fulfillment still future to us.

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountainsgood news
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
 “Your God reigns!”

Scholars feel the first fulfillment of God’s return to Jerusalem (Zion) was when His people returned from captivity in Babylon.  Nehemiah led the group back to Jerusalem with the blessing and provisions of King Artaxerxes.  See the books of Nehemiah and Ezra for the full telling of their return, opposition, rebuilding  of the walls and eventually the temple.  The second fulfillment of this prophecy of good news being proclaimed in Zion comes through Jesus.  He proclaimed the ‘good news’ of the kingdom.  Jesus read the words in Isaiah as told in Luke 4:18 ““The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,  to set the oppressed free,”  He then in verses 20-21 Luke records, “Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Jesus knew the gospel or good news he preached was to bring salvation and deliverance for all who believed.  The final fulfillment of this prophecy is still future to us.  It will be when Christ returns triumphantly to Zion, proclaiming the good news of His return and reign over all the earth.  Revelation 19:6 “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”  What a glorious time that will be!

The prophecy tells of good news- good tidings, that salvation is available to all who believe.  Jesus’ coming brought hope of restoration in our relationship with God and freedom from the bondage of sin.  Paul reasoned with the Jews in Antioch “Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39   Again in Romans 6:-6-7 and 18 Paul explains this freedom and our new view of righteousness this freedom brings. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that romans 6 18we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.  “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”   The good news of the gospel brings restoration and hope,  and that is good news indeed!

Who can you tell of the good news of Jesus this Christmas? 

Linda 

Messiah tells this scripture one way.  The traditional Christmas carol proclaims the good news too.  This one is just fun and makes me smile.

Assurance of Eternal Joy in Jesus

Handel used this next portion in Psalms 16 to remind us that our long awaited Savior would conquer death.   David penned the words of this psalm as a prayerful plea to God for His protection, guidance and victory over death in the many battles and struggles he faced.  How much more these words applied to our Savior during His life!  Both Peter and Paul quote these verses in speaking of Jesus as he faced death and died, but that the grave could not keep Him and He rose from the dead.

Psalm 16 8Psalm 16:9-11  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

God did not abandon Jesus after death as He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  Peter preached these words about Christ in Acts 2:26-33 as he spoke to the crowds at Pentecost.  Paul  preached with these words in Acts 13:35-37  at the synagogue in Antioch.  These words exude confidence that Jesus would not see decay bring us hope.  He would not rot in the grave and return to dust but conquer death through the power of God.  Romans 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the Romans 8 11dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of  his Spirit who lives in you.”  Praise God we have that spirit living within us!  Belief in Jesus brings freedom from the curse of death.  2 Corinthians 4:14 “because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.”   Do you have that hope?   Praise Him if you do and seek Him if you do not.

The psalmist also wrote that this risen one would then be seated in heaven at God’s right hand.   Ephesians 1:19b-21 tells us of Jesus’ place in heavenThat power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,21 far above all rule and authority, power and ephesians 1 20dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”   Colossians 3:1 also gives this truth “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

The Psalmist’s words foretelling Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and placement in heaven are confirmed throughout the New Testament. What joy and hope they should bring to us!  Through the power of God, believers do not see death, eternal punishment and separation from God, but rise to live with Him in eternity.  We will see Him seated on His heavenly throne at God’s right hand.   What a glorious day that will be!

Praise God today for coming and making all this possible through our faith in Him.  Thank you Jesus.  You came to seek and to save those who are lost.  We can be assured today you will find us and save us for all eternity.

Linda

Purposed in LOVE

The Messiah next returns to Isaiah 53:8 as Handel continues to show the suffering and rejection of our Savior.  His birth at Christmas is a celebration but it led to a pathway filled with grief and sorrow for our Lord Jesus. I think the Amplified Translation will help us to see this verse more clearly.

Isaiah 53:8 “After oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation [His contemporaries], who [among them] concerned himself with the fact
That He was cut off from the land of the living [by His death]
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke [of death]was due?

Jesus’ persecution by both the religious Jews in several illegal mock trials and then His judgement by Jews and condemnation by the Romans are what is spoken of here as oppression and judgement.  His trial before the Sanhedrin is recorded in Matthew 26:62-67 “Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.  The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God:Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”  64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” He is worthy of death,” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him.”   Later before Pilate they all demanded death for Jesus.  Matthew 27:20-23 “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.  “Barabbas,” they answered.  22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”  23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Verse 8 also states that Jesus would be cut off from the land of the living and sentenced to death for the transgressions of the people not his own.  Paul puts this cutting off plainly Romans 5 6 8in Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  

How can we be encouraged by these words of suffering and death of our Savior?  Jesus came as a babe fully aware of his life and purpose.  Even as young as 12 when he spoke in the temple people were amazed.  Luke 2:46-47  “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.”  When Mary and Joseph asked him about it he replied in verse 49 ““Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  Jesus knew His purpose and came to earth to do the will of His Father in heaven.  He God loves youcame for us.   Are you motivated by the love of God to give yourself willingly to serve others?  It is Jesus’ example to us given at Christmas for us to ponder and imitate in our own lives.  What better time of year to put this into practice!

Linda

 

All we like sheep

This scripture passage was also included in Sunday’s Poignant Gratitude blog, but Handel’s Messiah has a separate chorus for this verse that is very beautiful. Let’s look at this today in the Amplified Translation.

Isaiah 53.6Isaiah 53:6  “All of us like sheep have gone astray,
We have turned, each one, to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]  To fall on Him [instead of us].

Believers or followers of Christ were often referred to by Jesus as ‘sheep’.  It was an image that the people of His time could relate to as most towns and villages had herds of sheep.  They were familiar with the idiosyncrasies of sheep and how much care they required.  They knew sheep were prone to wander and get lost if the shepherd did not guide, protect and lead them.  Jesus called himself the good shepherd and states His willingness to die for His sheep.  A good shepherd would want to protect his sheep from predators and would fight to defend them even if it caused his own death.  John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  In verse 14, Jesus tell about the sheep and how those who believe in Him will know Him.  “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”   In verses 27-28, Jesus assures us we will recognize Him, follow Him and be protected by Him.   “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  In Luke 15 Jesus gives the parable of the ‘lost sheep’ and how as the good shepherd he pursues any and all that are lost that they might know Him and be saved.

Not only is Jesus the good shepherd but in His death He took on the sins of the world so that mankind could be reconciled with God.  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,”  Colossians 1:21-22  He took all sins upon Himself and paid the price for sin which is death.  Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Jesus took the penalty for my sins and yours so that we might be freed from having to pay sin’s price, which is death.  Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

savedPrayer:   Lord Jesus, thank you for being my good shepherd and dying for me on the cross.  You took the punishment for my sins and gave me life, hope and freedom from the bondage of sin.  Thank you that through your blood I am covered and when God looks upon me He sees your righteous covering instead of my sin.  You promise that my sins are gone and buried in the depths of the sea and this gives me hope.  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.”  Micah 7:19  Amen.

Blessings to you as you ponder the power of His reconciliation and the hope of His righteousness imparted to you.

Linda

Poignant Gratitude This 3rd Sunday of Advent

Today’s scriptures in Isaiah are some of the most poignant and convicting for us as believers.  We see the anguish, pain and separation our Lord Jesus endured for us as wayward, lost and sinful believers.   Ponder these ancient words this 3rd Sunday of Advent.   Isaiah 53:4-6

Isaiah 53-4 Surely He Has Borne Our Griefs redSurely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

Consider these related verses in the New Testament.                                                             1 Peter 2:23-25 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”                  Romans 4:24-25 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”                                                   Hebrews 10:22-23 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

romans-4-20-25May God’s Word speak to you today so that you can better comprehend the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice in coming that Christmas.  Praise Him today for His mercy, love and compassion of us.  Praise Him for His plans for you and me.

Linda