Wow! God did all this for me! Thank you.

Paul succinctly sums up what God did for us when He sent Jesus to die on the cross and be raised from the dead. Colossians 1:13-14. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” God gave us a way to escape the darkness of sin and move into His kingdom of light. The light of Jesus is a light that overcomes, redeems and forgives. Praise God for His great mercy and love!

Here are some verses to add depth of understanding to Paul’s words to the Colossians- the light. John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” His light brings life not death and darkness. John 12:36 “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Saved out of darkness into His kingdom of lightJohn 3:17, 19, 21 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” 19 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

RedemptionRomans 3:23-24 describes this perfectly “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, I also love Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”

Forgiveness of Sins– these powerful words are remembered during communion as Jesus spoke in Matthew 26:28 “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Acts 13:38-39 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed  from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

May these words and phrases sink into your heart and soul today. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am saved out of darkness and brought into the light of Christ fully redeemed and forgiven! Praise God!

Linda

Advent Shows Light and Salvation for All!

Just like after John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph had a naming and circumcision ceremony on the eighth day. They named him Jesus as that was the name the angel gave them even before His birth. Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21 Then the Jewish law required the couple to wait 40 days before presenting their child in the temple for dedication to the Lord. On Jesus’ dedication day God prepared yet another confirmation for Mary and Joseph that their child was from God. Here is their encounter with Simeon and his words about Jesus.

Luke 2:25-35 “ At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
    as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
    and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Wow! What confirmation from this godly man that Jesus was going to provide salvation for all people and bring light into the world. Bringing salvationTitus 2:11 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” and Hebrews 5:9 “In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” Bringing lightJohn 8:12 “Jesus said to them, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” and 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Simeon also blessed them and spoke words for them to treasure in preparation for the future that God has planned for their child. Saving the world and giving light to all was not going to be an easy pathway as He would face opposition and many hearts would be effected, even theirs.

What encouragement do you find in this story of Jesus’ dedication? It confirms to me that God is Sovereign and Omniscient. He knows all that will happen and had a plan to redeem mankind. It shows God is Merciful, Gracious and Compassionate as He sent His Son to bring light into a dark world and provide salvation for all. God is loving and keeps His promises just as He kept his word to Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Savior. He also prepared Mary and Joseph for the coming life their son would lead, one that would to be filled with godly purpose. God knows each of us as He did Simeon, Joseph and Mary. He knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Reflect today on how God’s timing has been perfect in your life. How has God fulfilled his promise in Romans 8:28 to you? “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I can attest to God’s hand in my life even in the darkest times. Even those tough times produced growth and experiences that God has used many times over to help others, to build my faith and produce results I had never envisioned or dreamed possible. God is indeed Sovereign and can and will use all things for my good and His glory as I walk with Him.

Linda

Advent Shows God’s Great Mercy towards us!

Zechariah ends his Song in Luke 1:76-79. Here he tells about his newly born son and the privileged place God he holds in God’s plan of redemption for all mankind. Let the beauty of his words minister to you today.

“And you, my little son,
    will be called the prophet of the Most High,
    because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
    through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Zechariah refers to John as the prophet of the Most High and Jesus will be called the Son of the Most High. This name was revealed to Mary by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:32 “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” John had a specific job to do as he was to tell the people how to find forgiveness for their sins in this coming Messiah. He was to prepare the hearts and minds of the people for Jesus and His message of salvation. They were about to experience a time of great light from God and needed to be ready. Jesus would bring light into the darkness of the world. “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 He also gives the reason for the arrival of Jesus, because of God’s tender mercy. God showed compassion, mercy and great love towards us in sending Jesus to redeem and restore us to relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” and John 3:16 ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Praise God for His mercy, love and compassion towards us in sending Jesus.

This section of scripture ends with how John grew up. 80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Since Zechariah and Elizabeth were old when John was born, perhaps they died before his ministry began as he had moved to the Judean desert and was living there instead of being in the hill country of Nazareth where he was born. This verse confirms the prophesy about John and his way of life and mission given in Luke 1:15-16 “for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.

I think one of the things I like most about Zechariah’s Song is the pure joy and hope that he gives all of us through the coming of Jesus. We can have light. We can experience redemption. We can see God’s hand move in our midst through the power of Jesus. Praise God for His coming!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 4: The Lighted Pathway

Today’s verses from 1 John 1:5-7 cause our hearts and minds to lean in to Jesus with thanksgiving. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

These verses hold a promise from God: walking with Jesus puts us in fellowship with one another, brings purity from sin and places us on a lighted pathway in life. The light Jesus brings to our life shows us His truth and helps us to live in harmony with one another. Who doesn’t want to live without strife and turmoil in their relationships? Who doesn’t want to be clean, pure and presented holy before Holy God? Who doesn’t want to know that Jesus brings us harmony, peace, and assurance, so our lives can be stable and grounded when trials or troubles come? We do not live in a protected bubble but in a sin-filled world. Sin and its temptations are always around us and seek to lead us from the pathway of truth that we find in Jesus and His Word. Entanglements are Satan’s specialty as he seeks to keep us from the peace God truly desires for our lives.

I give thanks today for His light in my life, the purity that comes from knowing Jesus and His guidance. I can stand firmly rooted in God’s promises and His Word of truth. No doubting! God’s Word is true and Jesus is our Savior. Let Him shine His light of truth into your heart, your relationships and your future as you seek Him today with a heart of thanksgiving.

Linda

Friendly Influences pointing to Jesus

Paul begins his letter to the Corinthian believers with a word of thanks. What are your first words when someone asks you about a friend? Are they words of praise and thanksgiving for that person’s friendship or quality of character? Here are Paul’s words of praise for his friends in the Corinthian church: 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 ” I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

What stood out to me in this passage is Paul’s thankfulness to Jesus for giving these people to him as believing friends who emulated Jesus in speech and wisdom. They had spiritual gifts and used them to build up the body of believers. They lived with anticipation for the return of Christ and were sustained by their faith. Think about a friend you have in Christ. What qualities would you lift up to Jesus in praise about their faith, love and actions towards others? As you think about them, pray that God will use them to influence others as they have influenced you. Pray that they would continue to stand firm in faith and be the Light of Jesus to those around them. Pray for yourself too, that you too will be a friend that shows a zeal and passion for Christ that is evident to all those around you. Think about Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:15-16 “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

May our lives reflect Jesus and shine for all to see.

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

Back to the light, shine for Jesus

Do you ever wake up some days and feel like you missed a day?  Somehow I wrote on Ephesians 5:15-20 before writing on Ephesians 5:9-14.   So today I’m going back to our discussion of light and dark and Paul’s admonition to us to be ‘Children of the Light’.     In verses 9-14 Paul gives us more information about what living in the Light of Christ means and what we can expect in our lives because of the light He gives us.

For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

ephesians 5 14Paul instructs us that right living pleases God and that we should expose,  avoid  and to try not to take part in anything ungodly.  The light of truth in Christ will expose the things of darkness and make everything visible.  He concludes with a common hymn of the day to illustrate his point.  The Ephesians (us too) were dead without Christ but coming to faith in Jesus brought them (us) into His light.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, His light can be seen in me.

Strive to do what is good, right and true in the name of Jesus knowing that those behaviors, deeds and actions are pleasing to God and will shine His light into the world around you.  Be that light today!

Linda

It is your Choice, light or dark?

Paul gives us a list of what characterizes a non-believer in contrast to true believers.  The Ephesians were new converts, still learning and growing in faith.  They had recently come out of idolatry and had many old habits to rid themselves of as they endeavored to grow more and more like their Savior, Jesus.  Paul was very forthright with them letting them know what behaviors were OUT and would not be tolerated or found in God’s Kingdom.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 

ephesians 5 8For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

In the midst of this list of things to avoid you find verse 4b let there be thankfulness and 8 be people of the light!    Paul wants them, and us, to know that belonging to Christ, being a believer involves a life filled with thankfulness and light!  Praise God!  God does not want us to cling to old sinful behaviors and attitudes but to shed them and walk in His light.  Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  He is the light that dispels all darkness and evil.  I love 1 John 1:5 and 7 “This is the message we have heard from him and 1 john 1 5proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”   There is hope, forgiveness and life in the light of Jesus.  Choose to walk in it and be ready to be clean, whole and made right with God.

Paul wanted them and us to see the contrast between their former lives and their new life in Jesus.  Light and dark, hope and despair, freedom and condemnation, forgiveness and being held by sin, Christ makes all the difference in the focus and direction of our lives.  Listed side by side light overwhelms darkness.  Light is open, pure, holy and welcoming and the darkness of sin brings shame, hiding and imprisonment.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead I can choose light and life with Him.   Choose the light of  Jesus today.

Linda

Tender Mercy-what is it, who has it?

Like Mary, Zachariah had a long song of praise to God after his speech was restored.  Luke 1:76-79  “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
luke 1 7878 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us  from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The first part of Zachariah’s song, Luke 1:68-75,  praised God for sending Messiah, as promised.  He speaks of the holiness and righteousness of this Savior to come.   In today’s scripture, Luke 1:76-79, Zachariah is praising merciful God for his own son, John, who will have a part in preparing the way for Messiah. John would be a prophet, prepare the world for the arrival of Messiah and give the people knowledge of coming forgiveness and salvation. Zachariah extols God for being merciful and sending  a Savior to give light in a dark world, provide guidance and would show us the way of peace. Just as Mary praised God for His mercy to her people Israel, so Zachariah praises God for His tender mercy to all mankind for sending John to lead the way and providing a guiding light towards forgiveness and salvation in Jesus.  Here Zachariah calls it the tender mercies of God.  Mercy is not giving us what we do deserve which is death for our sins and total separation from Holy God.  Tender mercy is mercy filled with love for us.   The Message reads, “Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us.”   Love, sincere love from the heart, motivated God to send Jesus to save us.  John 3:16 says it best,  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  God loved us so much He sent Jesus to make a way for us to be made right with Him.  That is mercy- we did not deserve.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “ but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  What a merciful God we have.  He loved us and sent Jesus even knowing of our sinfulness and the great cost to His Son to redeem us.  That is tender mercy from a loving God!

love and mercyMay your day be filled with His mercy and love towards you.  Then give it out like God did by sending Jesus.  You will be blessed.

Linda

My Glory

jehovah kabodhiThis name of God is referred to in Psalm 3:3. “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,  my glory, and the lifter of my head.”   The name O Lord  is YHWH and my glory is Jehovah-Kabodhi in Hebrew.   David describes God as Lord, the one of glory and the lifter of his head.  Have you ever thought about what God’s glory is?  The Old Testament describes the glory cloud that led them in the wilderness and the ‘Sheikinah’ glory that filled the tabernacle and later the temple as the presence of God on earth.  Moses asked to see God’s glory while on Mt Sinai but God told him he could not see His face and live.  But, God said hide in the cleft of the rock and I will pass by.  Exodus 33:20-22  But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.”  God in His grace allowed Moses to ezekiel 1 28catch a glimpse of His glory.  Ezekiel, the prophet,  saw a vision of the throne room of God in heaven.  Ezekiel 1:28 “Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.   Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”  

God’s glory is the sum total of all His attributes. He displays His glory in the beauty and wisdom of His creation. God reveals His glory to us through His power, mercy, love, grace, judgement, holiness and all his other attributes.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the complete revelation of God’s glory.  Hebrews 11:3 describes Jesus, ” He is the radiance Hebrews 1 3of 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,”   Here is the first part of this verse in the Amplified, The Son is the radiance and only expression of the glory of [our awesome] God [reflecting God’s Shekinah glory, the Light-being, the brilliant light of the divine], and the exact representation and perfect imprint of His [Father’s] essence, and upholding and maintaining and propelling all things [the entire physical and spiritual universe] by His powerful word [carrying the universe along to its predetermined goal].”

What does this mean for you and me?  My glory is a powerful name of God that reflects His holiness, goodness, light and power and is found fully in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We, as believers, have access to this power through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We can see and experience God for ourselves through faith in Jesus.  Jesus brings all things to the light and we can bask in His glory and goodness each day.  We can soak in His light to revive and sustain us,  but shouldn’t we be reflectors of His light too?  God calls us to be lights in this world in the midst of the darkness of the sin all around us.  Seriously, ask God today how He can use you to be a reflector of His glory to those around you.  He will give you opportunities to shine for Him.

Linda