I love this Valentine and keep sending it each year as the message is timeless and the graphics so true.
The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money. I walked into a local supermarket yesterday, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display. On the love side, Valentine’s Day is a day when we can express our love for one another freely and not be thought of as sentimental or mushy. How about God? How does God express His love for us? Here is a familiar verse that gets right to the heart of God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For He did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
How much more love could God show towards us than sacrificing His only Son on our behalf? He loved us that much. He sent Him so that through faith in Jesus we could be saved and not condemned. Only sinless Jesus could erase our sin and present us whole and perfectly clean before our Holy God.
When you say ‘thank you’ today for a Valentine gift you receive, a card, note, flowers or someone simply saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, think about thanking God too. Thank Him for sending Jesus. Thank Him for making a way for your salvation and eternal life with Him. That is the best Valentine I can think of that is filled with all of God’s love for now throughout eternity.
The last of my selected verses on Obedience is 2 John 1:6 “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
God spoke to Solomon in a dream and said if he walked in His commands he would be blessed with a long life. 1 Kings 3:14 “And if you walkin obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Later in 1 Kings 11:38, God told Solomon, “If you do whatever I command you and walkin obedience to me and do what is right inmy eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.” Here God says walking in His commands would result in a generational legacy of faith. Both of these are benefits of walking with God and following His pathway, His truth, His Word in our lives. The Apostle John adds something else to obedience in 2 John 1:6. He says that walking in God’s ways, keeping His commands is a walk of LOVE. This love is not only towards God but towards all those that live in and around us. Our perspective on life is to be one of love. Jesus explained this in Matthew 22:36-39 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
When one is seeking to live in obedience to God’s Word by following His commands, our first priority is to love God! Our love should be all encompassing in that it involves our heart, soul and mind- our whole being. God wants all of us not just a portion. What would that look like in our lives? Being sincere about our commitment to God and the practice of being involved in Bible Study, prayer and worship. Ask yourself, why do I do what I do? Is it out of love for God? If our motivation is out of love, it will flow and help us commune with God on a new level and totally immerse us in His love. If it is not done our of love for God, it will be a constant struggle and stain on our lives.
The second priority for walking with Jesus in love is to love others. John states this in 2 John 1:6 ‘his command is for you to walk in love.’ I love John 13:34-35 where Jesus tell us, “A new command I give you: Loveoneanother. As I have loved you, so you must loveoneanother. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you loveoneanother.” The love Jesus is talking about here is sacrificial love for one another. What would walking in love sacrificially look like in your life? Would it mean going the extra mile to help someone in need? Would it mean speaking to a stranger or friend about the love of Jesus? Would you mean praying diligently for those who are lost, hurting or seeking God’s help in their lives?
Obedience is not just giving lip service to God and his commands but LIVING Them in LOVE. The blessings of living a life of love is brought back to you in abundance. You are at peace in your heart, mind and soul and you can and will experience God’s blessing of a life lived for Him and be leaving a legacy of faith behind you.
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 Zechariah’s reaction to the angel’s message, Elizabeth’s belief that she will have a child in her old age, the angel’s appearance to Mary, Mary’s response to the angel’s message, and Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth and her unborn child. 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 31:19-23. Let them fill you with joy and anticipation that God has all things under control.
How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. 20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. 22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. 24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Blessings as you enjoy the season and may God strengthen your walk of Faith!
Bible scholars attribute many happenings to the Tuesday of Holy Week. Jesus was questioned by the religious leaders as to by what authority was He speaking and performing miracles. Jesus cleverly trapped them with their own questions, and they left him alone. (Matthew 21:23-27) After that confrontation, Jesus proceeded to teach in parables about the tenants who killed the messengers sent by the master, then about the wedding banquet where those invited refused to come and strangers were welcomed in their place instead. Both of these pointed to the treatment of Jesus, God’s Son, by the religious leaders and Jews of His day. Jesus also taught about taxes and where we owe our allegiance. He spoke about marriage in heaven and who He really was. (Matthew 21:28-23:39)
Later in the evening, Jesus ate at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There Mary anointed Jesus with pure nard, a very expensive perfume, and the disciples were upset at her for using this costly perfume on Jesus. (Matthew 26:6-12) From morning until night, Jesus used every minute to instruct and build up the faith of His followers as He knew His time was short.
During this day, one of Jesus’ most important teachings was revealed when the Jewish leaders asked Jesus what was the most important commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
This statement about the right priorities for our lives is so simply stated, and yet is so difficult to live out on a daily basis. Putting God first in our lives will keep everything else in balance and then loving others with as much love as we love ourselves comes next. Do you love yourself? Do you take care with what you put into your body, soul and mind? Jesus tells us that He expects us to love and respect ourselves. Out of our love for God will flow love for ourselves and those around us. Think about your priorities today and the fact that Jesus spent time His last week on earth telling us how to align our lives in the most productive way for ourselves and others.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have His Holy Spirit’s indwelling power that enables me to keep my priorities in line with Him. Putting God first, honoring yourself and loving others is God’s way. Thankfully, He is able and will see the faith He has started in us to completion as promised in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He also promised help in Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Praise God! He wants us to love and cling to Him and to show His love to others. He will enable us to do so in His time and His way.
And the journey continues.…I am intimidated by the book of Romans yet, the more I’ve studied it, the more I’ve grown to love and understand it. I have 2 favorite chapters in this complex book that speak to my heart. Today I’m focusing on Romans Chapter 5 later in another blog, I’ll get to Chapter 8. Here are the first 5 verses and verse 8 from Romans Chapter 5.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us…..8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
By chapter 5 Paul has reached a conclusion in his arguments as he uses the word therefore to begin this chapter. Because of what he has written before, he then concludes the following and what a conclusion it is! We are justified (declared not guilty of sin) by our faith in Jesus. We have peace of heart and soul because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Through faith in Jesus, we now have eternal hope and stand in a position of grace (unmerited favor) before God. Paul tells us that our character will change as we accept Jesus in our life! Knowing Christ brings a life of faith trials which Paul calls sufferings. The suffering we do for and with Christ produces character we could never achieve on our own. We will have endurance, hope and God’s love in our hearts. Even though we are sinners, we can be cleaned up and declared not guilty before God because of Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Wow!
I also chose verse 8 because it shows how undeserving I am. As a sinner, I cannot find a way to God but through Christ. God knew my sinful state and loved me anyway. He loved me enough to send Jesus to died for me. That is amazing love!
Paul continues on in verses 9-11 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Paul also concludes that since God has declared us not guilty of sin through our faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, we are new in character and no longer enemies of God. God is holy and cannot abide sin so faith in Jesus saves us and brings us into a relationship with God, reconciled to Him. God desires a relationship with you and me. So He made a way through Jesus for this reconciliation to take place.
I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love, His sacrifice on my behalf and the character changing process He has begun in me through faith in Jesus the Son. Let these words of life, love and hope sink deep into your soul today and be encouraged because you are loved by God and your faith in Jesus can and will transform you! Praise God!
Bible scholars attribute many happenings to the Tuesday of Holy Week. Jesus was questioned by the religious leaders as to by what authority was He speaking and performing miracles. Jesus cleverly trapped them with their own questions, and they left him alone. (Matthew 21:23-27) After that confrontation, Jesus proceeded to teach in parables about the tenants who killed the messengers sent by the master, then about the wedding banquet where those invited refused to come and then strangers were welcomed in their place. Both of these pointed to the treatment of Jesus, God’s Son, by the religious leaders and Jews of His day. Jesus also taught about taxes and where we owe our allegiance. He spoke about marriage in heaven and who He really was. (Matthew 21:28-23:39) Later in the evening, Jesus ate at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There Mary anointed Jesus with pure nard, a very expensive perfume, and the disciples were upset at her for using this costly perfume on Jesus. (Matthew 26:6-12) From morning until night, Jesus used every minute to instruct and build up the faith of His followers as He knew His time was short.
During this day, one of Jesus’ most important teachings was revealed when the Jewish leaders asked Jesus what was the most important commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
This statement about the right priorities for our lives is so simply stated, and yet is so difficult to live out on a daily basis. Putting God first in our lives will keep everything else in balance and then loving others with as much love as we love ourselves comes next. Do you love yourself? Do you take care with what you put into your body, soul and mind? Jesus tells us that He expects us to love and respect ourselves. Out of that love for God will flow and be poured into those around us. Think about your priorities today and the fact that Jesus spent time His last week on earth telling us how to align our lives in the most productive way for ourselves and others.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have His Holy Spirit’s indwelling power that enables me to keep my priorities in line with Him. Putting God first then yourself and others is God’s way. Thankfully, He is able to see this work to completion as promised in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He also promised help in Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Praise God! He wants us to show His love to others and will enable us to do so in His time and His way.
Paul began this chapter in Colossians talking about the new life, new heart and new nature we have in Christ. All of this is protected by Christ for us. Now Paul speaks of the things we used to do that definitely need to be put aside or better left behind us. Colossians 3:5-8 “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. He reminds them that that was the way they used to live but are not to live any more. Obedience to Christ and His ways move us to act in a way that will be pleasing to God.
How do we know what pleases God or what God requires? Scripture gives us some wonderful passages that are very specific about what God desires of us. Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “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? ” Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was in Matthew 22:37-39 ““You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Many times Jesus spoke about obedience, loving God, abiding in Him, seeking to be holy as He is holy and loving others. In John 13:34-35 Jesus told his disciples that the world will know us by our love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” As we walk with God, He transforms us more and more into the image of His Son. This ‘sanctification’ process is a life long journey to be more and more like Jesus.
Since we know what God desires of us, why don’t we just do it? I agree with Paul when he wrote in Romans 7:15-16 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.” Like Paul, I desire to please God but my old nature gets in the way. What to do? Pray, repent, look into His Word, seek His guidance and His will for our lives. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,I have the power of Christ within guiding me to act in a manner that is pleasing to God for my good and His glory! Praise God for His indwelling power through the Holy Spirit.
This week we have studied verses from Colossians 1:28-2:15. There have been some amazing truths revealed to us by Paul as he continues to make the case for Christ and His work on the cross. We can be empowered to live for Christ, filled by His Holy Spirt, and freed from the bondages of sin. I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love for us and Jesus’ willingness to suffer and die for me. I am truly blessed by His graciousness towards me. Here are the truth from this week to meditate upon and a Psalm of praise.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,
I can grow to be more and more like Jesus in character through the power of His Holy Spirit within me. Colossians 1:28-29“So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
I can claim treasures in Christ that will fill me with His confidence, wisdom and knowledge so I can be united to other believers by His love.Colossians 2:1-3 “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.“
I can be rooted and grounded in Christ producing a life that is abundant and filled to overflowing with thanksgiving, hope and love.Colossians 2:4-8 “I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. 6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”
I am one with Him, totally forgiven and have His Holy Spirit dwelling with me. Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. 10 And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].”
I am spared God’s wrath as my sins are forgiven and I am freed from sin’s power in my life. Colossians 2:13-15 “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”
Psalm 36:5-9Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. 7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
This next portion of Colossians 1:24-27 was a bit puzzling as I read it and reread it. So I looked it up in the New Living and found it much more understandable. I hope it helps you to see the truths Paul is trying to convey to us. “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Paul is rejoicing over his own suffering as he feels it connects and draws him closer to Jesus because he realizes that suffering both by him and his Savior was for the benefit and growth of the church. Christ desired the church to grow winning both Jews and Gentiles into the kingdom. This revelation that the kingdom of God is for all who believe in Jesus was a deep mystery. The fact that redemption was possible and available was also a mystery only God could have provided. The realization that God wanted all believers to share in His glory and to have Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit was a new revelation to all mankind. All of these mysteries- indwelling of the Holy Spirit, redemption for all and an open kingdom for every believer in Jesus the Son and His work on the cross were amazing and hard for these new believers to grasp. (Truthfully, it is hard for us today to believe and grab hold of these mysteries revealed by our loving and merciful God.)
The whole of scripture speaks of these mysteries made available by God for the reconciliation of man. When you think about it logically with realism it seems impossible. But God,…. He intended us to be His and have His Spirit within us to mark us as belonging to Him. Romans 8:9 “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” But God, … redeemed us through Jesus the Son. Romans 3:24 “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” But God,…wanted us in His kingdom by the work of Jesus on the cross.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.”
May you marvel at the mysteries revealed through the Son and praise God Almighty for His wonderful plan for you and me. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by His blood and a citizen of His heavenly kingdom through faith in Jesus . Thank you precious Savior for your sacrificial love and the revelation of these deep mysteries provided for me.
In Colossians 1:18-20 Paul continues to make his case for the supremacy of Christ. Here it is in the New Living Translation:
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Paul is wanting the Colossians to know and understand Jesus, who He is now, head of all believers, and what He did by rising from the dead. Jesus raised several people during his ministry like Lazarus and the widow’s son but their return to life was not permanent as they died later in their lives. Jesus’ resurrection was the first to conquer death permanently and be raised to new life. He also points to Jesus as the fullness of God. He possesses all of God’s attributes and powers. In verse 20, Paul tells us why God sent Jesus to die. Jesus came to reconcile us to God and mend the relationship that was broken in the garden by Adam and Eve’s sin that separated them from God. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He made peace between mankind and creation available. Thank you Jesus!
What does this mean for you and me? We can be connected and reconciled to God though faith in Jesus. He can and will bring us into a family relationship of love and acceptance that is filled with forgiveness of sin, hope and has the promise of eternal life with Him. I love Romans 8:15-17 “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
May you know and feel God’s love and care today. May you know Him personally and feel His forgiveness in your life. Call on Him and He will answer. Romans 10:13 is a promise He always keeps. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life.