Advent begins with Love

The story of the coming Messiah, who was to save his people, began in Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as God had forbidden. They were deceived by the serpent, Satan, and then cast out of the garden lest they eat of the tree of life and suffer in their sins for eternity. God cursed the serpent and proclaimed there would be enmity between the offspring of Satan and hers. Her child would crush Satan’s head and Satan would bruise his heel. This is the first prophecy of a coming redeemer who would defeat Satan. The Amplified translation gives us some good insights into who is who and what will be accomplished. “And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”

Why start Advent here? There needed to be a compelling reason for God to send His Son to earth to live among mortals and died. John 3:16 gives us God’s motivation for this sacrificially act. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Christmas story is all about God’s great love for us. His great desire is to restore the relationship He had with mankind before sin entered the world. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we are filled with a sinful nature and prone to wander, God loves us and desires to restore man unto himself. Christ came to accomplish this. He was the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

So as we begin our journey through Advent, we need to remember it is because God loved us and desired a relationship with us that He sent Jesus. What a loving God to fix our problem of sin through His own sacrifice.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 25: God values you and me!

Isaiah 49:15-16 are precious verses that give us hope, belief in the permanence of God and show how much God loves us. All of these things cause me to increase my gratitude for God and His tender loving care for me. Isaiah wrote these words to the people of Israel to encourage them. God had promised to punish them as a nation with captivity is Babylon if they did not return to worshipping Him and forsake their idols. Israel did not repent and spent 70 years in captivity, and yet God was faithful and remembered them. He brought them back to Israel and they did not pursue the worship of idols again.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.

Why are these verses precious to me today? Here are some truths contained in these verses. Let them penetrate into your heart and mind and let them create greater thankfulness within you.

God does not forget anything about me. verse 15

God has made me, my existence, a part of His being. (16)

Engraving is a permanent marking, therefore God’s love and care for me is eternal. (16)

God knows where I am at all times and is continually seeing to my protection and well-being. (16)

When I read these verses, I feel loved, cherished, valued and protected by the love and character of God. He is a promise keeper, and I can depend upon His faithfulness. May these truths cause you to be even more thankful today.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 16: 7 Amazing Reasons for Faith

Have you ever thought about faith and considered, what’s in it for me? Why should I believe and try to follow God’s pathway for my life? Today’s verses put this into perspective and really lead straight towards greater thankfulness.

Psalm 91:14-16 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

These verses are filled with 7 amazing promises from God. When He say, “I will” He means it, as He is sovereign and all things are within and under His control. He promises those who love and believe in Him that He will be: 1- ready to rescue, 2- protect, 3- answer when called, 4- always with you especially in times of trouble, 5- will honor you, and 6- reward you with eternal life and 7- save you from the punishment for your sins. What an overwhelming list of provisions from God are yours, all because you love and believe in Him. The reasons for belief and love for God show us His merciful, compassionate, loving character towards each and every believer. We are truly blessed by our Heavenly Father.

As you consider the psalmists words today, remember a time when God heard your prayers, rescued you from danger, allowed you to receive honor for something done for Him, how He was with you in a time of great trouble, and your response to His call upon your life as you began your eternal life with Him. These things will surely cause you to praise God with a heart and spirit filled with thankfulness.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 12: The Faithfulness of God

Timothy includes the possible words of a Christian hymn in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. The words are meaningful as they give hope and assurance to our hearts. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure hardship,  we will reign with him. If we deny him,  he will deny us.13 If we are unfaithful,  he remains faithful,  for he cannot deny who he is.

Timothy’s words give true hope as they are based upon the character of God. The truth of knowing if we die knowing Him, we will live with Him. If we suffer, which we will, He will reward us in heaven. If we deny Him, He will deny us when we stand before Him to make accounting of our actions, not a pleasant thought at all, but a truth to be realized. If we are unfaithful, sin, fall away, are seemingly lost, confused or lose hope, He is always faithful as it is an integral part of His being.

Because of our sinful nature, living in a world surrounded by sin and its temptations, we will sin. God know this so He gives us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and give us courage, strength and direction. He gives us the hope of eternal life and resurrection with Him. He gives us His Word to be a lamp to our pathway in life filled with encouragement, promises and guidelines for combatting sin and living a life honoring to Him. I cling to the truth that even when I falter and fail in my walk with Him, I cannot fail as God is the one who sustains my faith. We are assured over and over in the Bible that God is faithful and we can depend upon His faithfulness to sustain, uphold, keep us in His hand and in His love.

Here are a few verses to meditate on the faithfulness of God. Let them create thankfulness in your heart today! Psalm 36:5 “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,  your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 86:15 “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good;  his steadfast love endures forever,  and his faithfulness to all generations.” Isaiah 25:1 “O Lord, you are my God;  I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things,  plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;    his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.” Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

As you depend upon the faithfulness of God for each breath you take today, will you thank Him for His unending faithfulness? Let these verses lead you toward greater thankfulness, knowing the truth of Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” HE IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 10: A loving, compassionate God awaits all believers

Our thankfulness verse today comes from 2 Chronicles 30:9. Many of the Israelites had abandoned the worship of God and had fallen away from faith. King Hezekiah sent out a decree inviting worshipers to come celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. His impassioned plea resonates with us today as God makes this same promise and claim to us if we will return to Him. “For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”

Our God is compassionate and loving and graciously promises to receive me if I come back to Him. A life without God is one lived in captivity to the world, a bondage He desires to free us from. He is always waiting to receive us in faith. These words echo the words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30 ”  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

How do I know God will not reject me if I come back to Him in faith? Jesus repeatedly spoke of rejoicing over those that were lost being found or returned home. In Luke 11:7 Jesus gives the parable of the lost sheep, Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Also in the parable of the woman with the lost coin, Luke 15:9-10 “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” God is gracious and forgiving and desires us to be in relationship with Him. Remember the truth of John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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.” God truly loves us so much that He sent Jesus to redeem us through His death on the cross.

What part of 2 Chronicles 30:9 resonates a spirit of thanksgiving with you today? Are you thankful for a loving and compassionate God who desires that none should perish? 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.” Are you thankful for the freedom from sin He offers in Jesus? John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

There is much to be thankful for because of the loving, compassionate attributes of our heavenly Father. May they seep into your heart and mind today creating true thankfulness towards Him.

Linda

Jesus is personal, Let Him hear your declaration of Faith today!

Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups.  I previously wrote about Jesus’ encounter with Mary,  but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearances to Peter and James.  The appearance to Peter is mentioned in Peter appearancepassing in Luke 24:34 “saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  and in 1 Corinthians 15:5 by Paul “and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve”.   The Luke message was delivered to the disciples by the two men who Jesus met on the Road to Emmaus.  Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his former name.   Jesus also referred to Peter by his former name when He told him he would deny Him three time before the rooster crowed. The prediction of the denial is recorded in both Matthew 26 and Mark 14.  The actual denial event is recorded in all 4 gospels, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18.   Peter was not acting with his new believing nature, clinging to the rock of faith which is Jesus, but with the old, impetuous, doubting nature of unbelieving Simon. This personal appearance to Peter shows great compassion from our Lord to singularly appear to Peter to forgive and restore him.  Jesus would have known the anguish and guilt Peter was feeling after his denial of Jesus the night before the Crucifixion.  The forgiven Peter went onward, never doubting nor denying his Lord and Savior again.  Later, Jesus met a group of disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and spoke more with Peter and his future work in the kingdom.  See John 21.   Jesus personally knows what we need and seeks to be there for each one of us.   What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.

The other post-resurrection appearance that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 was to James.  Scholars believe this was James, the half-brother of Jesus, and not one of James-the-brother-of-Jesusthe other followers named James.  His brother did not believe in Christ before the resurrection, but afterward became a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, wrote the book of James and died a martyr’s death in 62 A.D.  “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”  1 Corinthians 15:7.   This appearance speaks to me of Jesus’ compassion and love for his earthly family and for those who are lost.  2 Peter 3:9  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.   He knew James needed to see Him personally to be confronted with his unbelief.  Jesus does that for each one of us as we seek to come to faith and trust in Him.  He is a personal God that loves and cares for each of us.

Jesus personal GodIs Jesus personal to you today?  Do you claim Him as your God and Savior?  David did in 2 Samuel 22:3 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation,”  Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”   and Thomas did in John 20:28 “ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”    Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.

Linda

Final Sunday of Lent 2020, amidst the Palms

Palm Sunday 2020Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, the day of  Jesus’ return to Jerusalem.  His reception was loud and colorful with waving palms, cloaks on the ground, shouting, chanting of praises and Jesus riding on a humble donkey.  It was the conclusion of three years of public ministry that ended in His death on the cross on Friday.  However, all was not lost as He miraculously rose from the dead and appeared on Easter morning just as He said He would.   His ‘life’s ride’ on earth was a wild one filled with compassion, love, obedience and sacrifice for us.   As we enter this Holy Week let us ponder anew how we personally have felt His compassion and love in our lives.  How we have benefited from His obedience to the cross and the sacrifice of His life for ours.   We have much to be thankful for, even in the hardest of times.  Only you can answer today’s sentence,  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am or can_____________________.

Some time today read one or more of the Palm Sunday Triumphal entry passages:  Matthew 21:1-11,  Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-38, John 12:12-15.

Here is the summary from this weeks passages in Ephesians.  We meditated on Ephesians 5:21-6:14Think about:  **Which truth have you seen in your life this week? **Which is the most meaningful to you in your life right now?

  • we can live lives submitted to one another in love that mirror Christ’s love for us. Ephesians 5:21-33
  • we (both parent and child) are able to submit to one another with love and respect. Ephesians 6:1-4
  • we can show God’s love and care whether we are the employer or employee bringing glory to God and blessings upon ourselves.  Ephesians 6:5-9
  • we are able to battle against unseen forces through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 6:10-12
  • I can be filled with His Holy Spirit and protected by His armor to face the challenges of each day.   Ephesians 6:13
  • I can have godly character that is based on His truth and righteousness.  Ephesians 6:14

Personally, the truth from Ephesians 6:10-11 reminded me of the unseen forces of evil that we face each day.  This truth really resonated with me, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic.  It is something I never envisioned and pray fervently that God will cause the virus to be contained and that the evil effects would be lessened.  We need to humble ourselves and pray for His mercy.    The most meaningful truth this week that brings me real encouragement is from Ephesians 6:14, that I can have godly character if I am rooted and grounded in the truth of Christ and put on His righteousness.  It is an eternal hope filled with promise.  In Christ, I can be a new creation.

Palm Sunday vectorHave a Blessed Palm Sunday.

Linda

#5 Practicing Devotion to God-Knowing your Identity

As we grow and mature in life we go through a process of learning to know who we are.  We struggle with self-esteem, motivation and self-discovery.  As a Christian, we also go through this as we learn who we are in Christ, and how much we are loved by God.  I personally did not really learn to love and appreciate myself until I got a grasp on how much God loved me,  and how important I am to Him.  This knowledge gave me worth in His eyes and was more powerful in shaping me than anyone or anything.

God tells us who we are to Him in His WordPsalm 139 is filled with His love for us.  Here are a few verses: 1-6, 14-15

Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
pslam 139 14You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it….. 13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.

Isaiah also gives us a picture of God’s love for us in Isaiah 43:1-2, 4,7

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah 43 74 Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,

7 everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

galatians 2 20God loves us beyond measure and we were created for His glory. His love was ultimately shown when He sent Christ to die for our sins and restore us to relationship with Him that was broken by sin.  Galatians 2:20 gives Paul’s testimony of who He is in Christ.  Let it be ours too.  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I pray that as you meditate on these verses you will catch of glimpse of how much God loves you and desires a relationship with you.  You are important to Him!  Know that you you-are loved by Godwere loved even before you were created and you are held precious in His eyes.  That is true worth,  to know and understand you are loved by God.  Let your life be governed by His love and let your identity be in and with Christ.

Linda

Love, the motivating factor in the story

In our journey this Advent Season we have walked with Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Anna, Simeon, the shepherds, the angels and the Wise Men, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth.  We have seen our Omnipotent, Omniscient, Sovereign God in control and guiding all events.  Today, Christmas Eve, let us look at the prophesy Isaiah gave concerning this Christ Child, Emmanuel-God with us.  Let us marvel at God’s Love for us.  The depth, width and scope of what He would do to show His love so we could be reconciled to Him.   Isaiah 9:6-7 was  written 700 years before Christ’s birth.

Isaiah-9-6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

God is loveJesus was the full expression of God’s LOVE for usHe loved us before we first loved Him.  His love is complete, eternal, uncompromising, faithful, true and unchanging.  Scripture tells us that God is love.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8   Here are a few scriptures describing God’s love:

Deuteronomy 33:12 ““Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long,  and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”

Psalm 63:3 “Because your love is better than life,  my lips will glorify you.”

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:16 “ And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 

God loved us so much that He sent His beautiful, wonderful Son to accomplish our reconciliation and redemption.  John 3:16  “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Thank you God for loving me so much and saving me.

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