Happy New Word???

Have you ever thought of having a Word for the year?  I started doing this in 2019.  I was asked to choose a word for the year and then a Bible verse or verses to support me in that focus.  I prayed and asked God to give me a word to focus upon for 2019. He gave me the word Trust.  Right then I was going through some things that required that I Trust in Him more than ever and not the world, things or people around me.  The verses I chose were Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord;  trust in him and he will do this” and Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,

In 2020, God gave me the word Hope. Oh my, how I needed that word from Him. He knew the pandemic was coming and that it would radically change my life. He knew I would need hope in Him to sustain me during the months of lonely isolation and the fear of the unknown. The verse I chose for hope was Psalm 71:14 “As for me, I will always have hope;  I will praise you more and more.

In 2021 I found myself bogged down by the pandemic, life’s complexities with schooling my grandkids, working on Zoom and continued isolation. I felt I lacked something and the word God gave me was joy. My verses were Habakkuk 3:18 “yet I will rejoice in the Lord,  I will be joyful in God my Savior.” and Nehemiah 8:10 “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” True to His Word, God allowed me to view the events of 2021 through the lens of His joy. I am grateful for His perspective in my life.

For 2022, I have been asking God what new Word He desires to use in my life. He had impressed upon me as I’ve been in prayer that He wants me to claim and focus on Faith. The verses are still to be determined as I listen to God in the days ahead. Life with God as my guide is a great adventure that always has purpose and direction!

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If you think this might help your focus for the year, pray and ask God to reveal to you a focus word for 2022.  Here are some suggestions and possible verses to support your word:

Joy- Psalm 16:11, Psalm 63:7, Habakkuk 3:18 or James 1:2

Hope–  Psalm 62:5, Psalm 147:11, Jeremiah 29:11, Lamentations 3:21-22, Romans 5:4-5 or 1 Timothy 4:10

Trust- Psalm 28:7, Psalm 31:14, Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 3:5-6 or  Jeremiah 17:7

Grace– John 1:16-17, Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 12:9, or Ephesians 1:7

Peace- Isaiah 26:3, Matthew 5:9, John 14:27 or Philippians 4:7.

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God,  in His great providence, gives us so many resources to help us walk with Him in faith.  All His words, we are reminded in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 are useful to us. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  I pray that choosing a word will give you focus and support in the year ahead.  As we desire to live for Him each day, God reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11 He has a plan. “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.

Pray, listen, look to His Word for your focus and direction in 2022.

May you have a blessed year filled with His Words!

Linda

Advent…a journey of Delivery and Unending Joy!

My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men or aged Anna and Simon yet, but the Mary, Joseph and Jesus did not meet them until after his birth. Anna and Simon were encountered in the temple when Jesus was circumsized after 8 days as was their custom. The wise men saw the star when Jesus was born and followed it, arriving about 2 years after his birth. The gifts they brought provided monies for Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they had to flee in the night to Egypt to avoid Herod’s executioners. I’ll continue with their part in the story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.

This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin- Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.

Linda

Advent, Sunday #3, the Shepherd’s candle-come feel the JOY!

Today is the lighting of the third candle in the Advent wreath. It is called the Shepherd’s candle and represents joy. During the lighting the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Christ child and where He could be found is told. Joy is contagious and once the arrival of the Messiah was proclaimed the shepherds wanted to find the child and worship Him. May you feel that same joy today and may it draw you closer to the Savior.

This next week we will be diving deep into John’s Birth, Zechariah’s Song of praise after being muted for 9+ months, Joseph’s story, and their journey to Bethlehem. Here are some words of JOY for today as we worship.

Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Luke 2:10 “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Romans 10:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

May we be filled with the joy of the Lord today as we continue to anticipate the coming of the Christ child who brought freedom from bondage to sin through His life, death and resurrection.

Linda

Light the Faith Candle on This Second Sunday of Advent

The second Sunday of Advent is when the candle of faith which is often called the Bethlehem candle is lit. It proclaims the blessing to come because of God’s great love for us, by sending Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. This week’s readings we will focus on Elizabeth’s reaction to learning she will have a child in her old age, the angel’s appearance to Mary, Mary’s response to the angel’s message, the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah, and their reactions to his birth besides the fact that dad could now talk! Prepare your hearts and minds to reach into scripture and discover new meaning for yourself as you read the scripture with faith. Faith pleases God and through our faith in Jesus He blesses us with His love and peace. He also gives us understand and insights into His Word- so be prepared to be blessed this week.

On this second Sunday of Advent, let your heart and mind dwell on the words of Psalm 121. Let them fill you with joy and anticipation that God has all things under control.

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

Blessings as you enjoy the season!

Linda

Advent 2021 Begins… my word is Joy!

I love the season of Advent as it means renewal, hope, a blessed message from God, His love, redemption and Jesus our Savior all rolled into the story of the season. Personally, December 1 brings memories of my daughter’s arrival from Korea at the age of 3 months. We had been planning and waiting for her arrival but did not know exactly when it would happen. We got a call the night before that she was arriving the morning of December 1 at LAX. We hurriedly booked flights and made our way to Los Angeles. It was a scary but gloriously exciting time for our family and a day I will never forget. Seeing and holding her for the first time, bringing her home to Oakland and having friends and family members there to greet us was amazing. That day and that experience was indelibly imprinted in my memory and on my heart.

The story of Advent, Jesus’ miraculous coming to earth as a babe, is another story that always evokes memories for each of us as we encounter the living Christ in our lives. We are reminded of His humility and sacrifice in coming for us, leaving the grandeur and power of heaven for our sake. It is a sacrifice that imprints itself into the heart of every believer and helps us relive and rejoice each Advent season. Jesus is the reason for this season of the year and what joy He brings to our lives.

I pray that as we journey through this Christmas story of Jesus’ birth and as we experience the many people both earthly and heavenly: that we will be impacted by His coming in a new and fresh way, that we will focus in on the emotions and feeling this story evokes and that each story part will lead us into a deeper understanding of God. May we see God’s hand in each person and circumstance. May it lead us to realize that God is with us and in our lives just as He was that first Christmas.

I’m looking for the joy of the season. This year my verse was Habakkuk 3:18 “yet I will rejoice in the Lord;  I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” and Nehemiah 8:10b “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Be strong, be filled and Be joyful this season! Jesus is reason enough for JOY!

Linda

Gratitude vs. Ingratitude, Which Reveals the real You?

Many times we do not take the time to say ‘thanks’ for something that is done for us or towards us. We think later, ‘O, did I remember to tell them thank you or not?’ Giving or saying ‘thanks’ is something our parents taught us to say because it shows good manners. But, why do you say thank you? Is it a rote response or is it from your heart? The reason I am going down this road is we need to find the root of our gratitude or the root of our ingratitude and the consequences of each.

Repeatedly this month we have seen that scripture tells us to give thanks. Gratitude is an attitude response for all God has done. 1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Our response to God and His goodness towards us for both physical and spiritual provisions is to be one of thanks. The giving of thanks creates within us a sense of peace, well being, hope and assurance of God’s love.

What about ingratitude? Romans 1:20-23 explains what happens when we refuse to give thanks and recognize that all good things come from God.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Paul is saying that we are without excuse when we fail to recognize and honor God. We have the world around us as proof of His existence and goodness. So what happens when we are ungrateful to God? Paul says our thinking becomes ineffective and useless, unproductive and our hearts are darkened or turned away from the goodness of God, His light. In our lives we can see that not being thankful leads to a hardness of heart towards others and perhaps a sense of entitlement. Somehow we feel the ‘world’ owes us good things. The reality of life is the truth of Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Let your heart, mind and words be filled with gratitude today. You will be blessed as you experience His hope, love, peace and joy. Let your gratitude come from your love for God so that it may have an eternal effect on those around you.

Linda

Songs of Thanks…but I can’t Sing! No Worries.

Psalm 33:1-3 tells us to give thanks with musical instruments.

“Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
    Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
    make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;

    play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”

Does this sound out of your comfort zone? I know I haven’t touched a piano in years. However, I don’t think that is what the psalmist was aiming at. He says “Praise befits the upright” the NIV puts it this way, ” it is fitting for the upright to praise Him.” Believers are to give thanks joyfully and not do it quietly. We are to be exuberant in our joy-filled worship. The question is how do you worship the Lord? Do you have an attitude of joy? Do you raise your voice in praise to God? David liked to praise God with songs and even dancing. He let his JOY in the LORD be known. Everyone around him could see his joy in coming before God in worship. Our worship needs to be joyous, from the heart and filled with thanksgiving.

As you ponder this psalm, think about your style of worship. Is it honoring to God? Are you actively giving thanks? Let your shouts be heard before Him today as you actively give thanks for who God is and what He has done.

Linda

In this song, Chris Tomlin answers the question of God’s worthiness and why we worship Him. I pray his words bless you and lead you to deeper worship.

Choosing to Trust

And the journey continues…Habakkuk. I love this short book written by a prophet that lived in the time of Jeremiah and probably lived to see the Babylonians invade Jerusalem, and the people of God carried off into captivity. Habakkuk records a conversation he had with God. He was filled with questions and doubts about what he was seeing happen in the world around him. (I can relate to that today!) In the first chapter, Habakkuk asks God why is he not doing something about the evil in his country, Judah? God replies that he will as he is sending the Babylonians to punish their evil ways. Judah had fallen big time into worshipping idols and had forsaken the worship of the one true God. In chapter 2, Habakkuk asks, how can you holy God use a wicked nation like Babylon to punish His people? God answers, he will use them but they too will receive punishment for their sins and wicked ways. In the final third chapter, Habakkuk has resolved his worry and doubt and confesses he knows God is merciful and just. He claims God is sovereign over all that happens and has decided he will choose to trust, obey and rejoice in the Lord.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 are some of the most beautiful, profound and uplifting verses in the Bible. I love them and chose verse 18 as my verse for this year, as my word for the year is Joy.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

You can feel Habakkuk’s resolve in verse 17-18 that no matter what is happening, no matter how bad things look, he will choose to rejoice in the Lord. He knows (19) that his strength is in the Lord. He trusts God to make him to soar above it all as he looks to Him for his strength and hope. I am reminded here that it is a choice we make to live looking to the Lord for our strength and joy. Moses made a similar choice in Deuteronomy 32:3-4 ‘I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect,  and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,  upright and just is he.”

May we make the same decision and resolve as Habakkuk to choose God and live joyful and abundant lives in Him. Choose to trust God; He has it covered!

Linda

The Benefits of a Walk that is Pleasing to God

Paul was praying for the Colossian Christians in a very specific way. He wanted to see them walking and experiencing an authentic life with Christ. He envisioned them, and us too, living a life worthy of the calling of Jesus. In today’s passage, Paul lists the benefits of such a worthy walk with Christ and how it truly pleases Him. Colossians 1:10-12 “ so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Wow! What a list of benefits Paul is praying for the Colossian Christians to experience in their daily walk with Jesus!

Bearing fruit in every good work. A life indwelt by the Holy Spirt, focused on Jesus shows fruit. Which of these is the Holy Spirit producing in your life as you seek to know and follow Him? Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

Increasing in the knowledge of God. Is this your goal, to know God more fully? Could this be said of you? 1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.

strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. Do you feel God’s strength, have endurance during the difficulties that arise each day or do you see and feel joy when you wait upon Him? Nehemiah 8:10 “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Are you thankful for your heavenly inheritance to come and grateful for hope-filled life Jesus is providing for you right now? Ephesians 1:18 “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

I pray as you study and meditate on these benefits provided to us through our faith in Jesus that you will be blessed with a deeper knowledge of Him and be encouraged in your walk. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can receive benefits of faith that lead to greater knowledge of Him, strength, endurance, patience and joy! Thank you Jesus!

Linda

Complete Joy can be Yours!

Joy is a byproduct of the indwelling Holy Spirit’s work within me. Scripturally I’ve see that this joy molds and shapes my soul bringing soulful joy. It is also eternal as it began its effects upon me when I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life and will continue to work within me for all eternity giving me a source of joy that is eternal. Today I want to focus on joy that comes from the Lord, knowing Jesus, walking with him daily and belonging to Him. This type of joy emanates from Christ alone. The effects of this joy is complete. It fills me and last when earthly joys fade.

Jesus spoke of knowing God the Father, abiding in His love and keeping His commandments. He promised that walking in His love and practicing His ways would provide me with this type of joy. John 15:9-11. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” The prescription for having complete joy is to be faithful and obedient to Jesus’ Word and to stay in His love.

The Apostle Paul experienced this type of joy when he and Barnabas were preaching the good news of Jesus to the crowd in Pisidan Antioch. They spoke the truth about God and His love for all of them in sending Jesus. The Jewish leaders were jealous of Paul and Barnabas’ popularity and heaped abuses upon them. They got others to join them in persecuting Paul and Barnabas and got them expelled from that region. Paul and Barnabas never stopped speaking boldly about Christ depending upon His love and truth to sustain them. Acts 13:49-52 “They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Even though things got very difficult and scary, the disciples sought to abide in Christ, trust in Him and left filled with His joy and completeness in doing God’s work.

How can you and I abide in His love and experience this fulfilling joy? Jesus’ prescription for this joy is to stay focused upon Him, engage in things that will bring glory to God, get to know Him better by studying scripture- staying in the Word, commune with Him in prayer, fellowship with other believers and worship Him in spirit and truth. Living and abiding in Him each day will bring complete joy. No matter what is happening in the world around you or even in your own life you can still experience this joy. Christ’s joy is compete and will fulfill you completely. Praise God for His provision of complete joy. Thank you Jesus!

Linda