Waiting with JOY!

The birth of a child always brings joy! New life, a new start, a new beginning are all positive events and worthy of JOY! John’s arrival was joyous and mysterious too. As was the custom of the day, the boys were named and circumcised on the 8th day of life. Both were significant events for the birth parents. Their child had survived the birth process and was ready to enter the world with a permanent name. From the text, we can see that boys were to be named after their parent or grandparent or some relative in the past. New names were unheard of, except for John. Elizabeth knew that God had ordained that their son was to be named John and that he had a special mission to fulfill. He would call people to repentance and ready the way for the coming of the Savior. Here is how the scene unfolded.

Luke 1:57-66 “When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

Is it any wonder that the first words out of Zechariah’s mouth were words of Praise? He had been silent for 9 months knowing he was being held accountable for his doubt. His waiting period transformed his doubt into praise. I love the way scripture describes it, “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free“. It was as if his tongue had been held captive and his mouth closed. It reminds me of the salvation process. Once you encounter Jesus your mouth is opened to praising God with knowledge of who He is personally to you and you are set free from the bondage of sin. I would imagine Zechariah wanted to praise God because he was overcome by God’s power and goodness. He had not been able to speak those long months and now he could. Has God ever kept you waiting for something you knew would be wonderful? Zechariah knew his son would be just who God wanted him to be and that he was to have a part in it. He was going to be able to have input into the raising of this special child. The waiting increased his faith and caused him to spill over with joyous praises.

One such time of waiting in my life was when God had me waiting to become a mother. I knew that God had a child for me, and that we were going to be a family. Our journey from infertility to adoption was a long one with many twists and turns, but I held to the belief that God had a child for me. After many years of waiting, our daughter arrived from Korea on December 1 and my life was never the same. That first Christmas was one of great blessing and joy! It was wonderful, terrifying and yet so glorious. The waiting increased my joy and strengthened my faith.

Think back to a time when God had you wait. Did the waiting increase your joy? Was your patience rewarded with peace and hope in what you received? If we got everything right away, we would begin to lose the joy and anticipation of what was to come. God’s plan is always for my good and brings Him glory. If you are in a waiting period, take heart and let praises be on your lips. Trust in the goodness of God and let joy be in your heart as you rejoice in the coming of your Savior.

Linda

A Sunday to Celebrate Joy, Advent’s 3rd Sunday

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 is told of the angels appearing to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Christ child and where He could be found. 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 Elizabeth and Mary’s parting, John’s Birth, Zechariah’s Song of praise after being muted for 9+ months, and Joseph’s story. 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

Shared Joy!

When was the last time you shared a joyous moment with a friend or relative? I hope it has not been too long as those are moments to be cherished. My sister and brother-in-law just celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary! At dinner, we asked them to share their favorite trips, funny stories about their children, things growing up that impacted them, etc. It was a wonderful time of sharing. In today’s verses we see the joyous reunion of Elizabeth and Mary as they meet for the first time since they both were visited by the Holy Spirit’s power in a special way. Elizabeth in now 6 months into her pregnancy and Mary’s has just begun. We see Elizabeth’s joy at realizing her baby recognizes the mother of the Lord. This causes Elizabeth to be filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaim the coming of the Lord.

 “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:39-45

One of the things I cherish about this encounter is that it shows normal people engaging each other in normal ways. What is unusual about this encounter is the intervention of the Holy Spirit in their midst. We engage with people all the time, but have you stopped to think that you being indwelt by the Holy Spirit through your faith in Jesus bring the Holy Spirit with you into each encounter. As with Elizabeth and Mary, we need to let the joy of the Lord be with us in conversations and actions as we meet and greet others in our daily lives. God’s power within us has the power to effect and influence others for His good.

What words of praise do you give out? Ours will not be words of prophesy but can give life changing words of encouragement and hope. God has us where we are for His purpose, and we need to take opportunities to speak of Him as often as we can. You can speak words of hope by being a friend, listening with an open mind and heart, praying for the other person even as you speak with them. Look for the God opportunities today and share your joy!

Linda

Let Your Shouts of Praise be Heard today!

Thanksgiving Day 2022

As you gather around you tables today, May your words be sweet to one another and filled with praises to God. I love Psalm 100 and its joyful reminder of who God is and why He is worthy of all our praises.

A psalm. For giving grateful praise. Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Have a blessed day of giving thanks.

Linda

A Glimpse Ahead

November 10, 2022

Revelation 11:16-17 The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones before God fell with their faces to the ground and worshiped him. 17 And they said,

“We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty,
    the one who is and who always was,
for now you have assumed your great power
    and have begun to reign

Today’s verses from Revelation give us a glimpse into our heavenly future. All will one day bow and worship the Lord Almighty. A glimpse into our heavenly future is also given in Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

I am so thankful that God is eternal, has all power, is sovereign and will reign forever. The concept of the eternality of God is not an easy one. Our finite minds have to stretch to try and grasp the incomprehensible nature of God. We mostly live in the here and now and can remember some of our past. We have to study to grasp the past and what transpired before us but have only hope as we look to the future. God gives us a glimpse of the future with Him in the Bible. We are told in Matthew John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” Jesus is preparing a place for us. He has saved us to be with Him as Paul shares in Ephesians 2:5-7 “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

When we get bogged down by the here and now, weary of the past and it’s complications, we can look forward to our future for all eternity with Christ. How glorious that will be! Let the hope of your future with Him give you reason for thanks today.

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am a citizen of heaven. The idea that we become citizens of heaven when we accept Jesus as our Savior is one filled with hope. In contrast to those who do not know Christ we have this assurance from Philippian 3:19-20 ‘Their destiny (those who do not know Christ) is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:19 also tells us  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,” Not only are we citizens of heaven already through faith in Christ, but we are considered members of God’s family! There are many benefits of being a citizen of heaven. Here are a few to consider: we receive grace and belong to Christ, Romans 1:5-6, Christ will abide in us, John 14:23, there will be rewards and treasure there, Matthew 5:12 and 6:19-20, a permanent, God made home awaits us, 2 Corinthians 5:1, our inheritance is kept there and is imperishable, 1 Peter 1:4 and we have every spiritual blessing from Christ, Ephesians 1:3. There is much to be thankful for as a citizen of Heaven!

Praise God today for the life you now live and the one Christ has awaiting you in eternity!

Linda

Simple Directions Produce Great Results

My friend and fellow servant Wayne has chosen as his favorite verses ones from 1Thessalonians 5:16-18. These verses are placed in a paragraph in which Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians to be diligent in practicing their faith. Let’s look at the passage as whole and then Wayne’s verses in particular,

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Paul wanted the Thessalonian church to thrive. He wanted them to be working together in faith, encouraging and uplifting one another. He warned against putting the work of others down by asking them to esteem highly those that are working for the Lord and appreciate their efforts for the kingdom. Paul encouraged them to live in peace, working, helping those that are struggling and to be advocates of patience. He wanted them to not try and seek revenge when wronged but seek to do good. Paul does not want them to stop the flow of power from the Holy Spirit into their lives, but to be open to His leading. He also wants them to not believe everything they hear but to test it against scripture and pray for guidance. I particularly love his advice- ‘hold fast what is good’. Rather than focusing on the negative, hold fast, cling, proclaim in your life that which is good and from God. Lastly, he just says stay away from evil. Don’t even let it be in your heart and mind, keeping clear of it.

In the midst of this instructive paragraph come Wayne’s verses. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  These verses give practical actions that will lead to being able to carry out the instructions in the passage. Rejoice always speaks to the heart attitude that God desires. When working for the Lord, do you have an attitude of rejoicing? Are you doing things at church more as an obligation rather than joyfully for the Lord? You will know the difference because joyful service makes for an uplifted countenance and hope in Christ. We are not be be joyful in our service just when we feel good but always. Rejoicing in the Lord brings joy and encouragement to the saddest of hearts. Verse 17 tells us to pray without ceasing. I take that to mean proceed through your day and pray as you go. When you need to make a decision, speak to someone, tackle a hard or boring task… in all things pray! If we can do this, we will see God in all things and know His presence continually!! Verse 18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. This one is really hard to do at times in our lives. This is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit and true believe in 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”. As believers we need to cling and proclaim the sovereignty of God over all things in heaven and on earth. We know that God’s will is perfect and that He will see to all the details. What might be hard or devastating can and will be used for our good and His glory. How is your faith in this area? Can you trust God for the hard things in your life and know He will bring good out of them? The last part of verse 18 tells us why we need to do these things- rejoice, pray and give thanks because for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  All of these actions are part of God’s will for our lives. He desires these things for us so that we may glorify Him with our lives. What do you consider your purpose in life? In the Old Testament passage from Deuteronomy 10:12-13 God lays His purpose for our lives:  “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?  All these things- loving the Lord with our heart, mind and soul and seeking to follow His ways, are for our good and His glory. This is God’s will for our lives. He knows we need to rejoice, pray continually and give thanks in all things to keep ourselves in His will and our attitudes aligned with His purpose.

Thank you Wayne for pointing me to this powerful paragraph filled with encouragement and direction. As I serve with you in the cause of Christ, I see your heart attitude of joy and thanksgiving and your desire for prayer. May we all seek to live with these in mind so as to glorify God and walk in His will.

Linda

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!

gods-word-personal2

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.

god-ideas_guide-delight

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