Thankfulness Day 15: Consider His Peace

The Bible is full of scriptures about peace. God wants us to know His peace, live in peace and experience peace on a daily basis. Today’s verses come from Isaiah 26:3-4. As you read and meditate on the words from Isaiah, may they lead you towards greater thankfulness as you consider His peace.

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Prayer: Lord, I desire your peace in my life. May my trust in you grow daily so that my mind is steadfastly focused on you. I know you can and will keep me in a state of peace that will cover my mind, body and soul as I trust in you more and more. Lord, you are my rock and refuge. You are eternal and will keep me as your own for eternity. I know Lord that you love me and are a promise keeper. Bring your peace into my life today as I focus upon you and walk trusting in you. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.

Have a blessed day filled with His peace and a thankful heart.

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

Thankfulness Day 8: He’s rejoicing over me!

Today’s verse comes from Zephaniah 3:17. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness;  he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Zephaniah was a prophet to the nation of Israel in approximately 700 B.C. who had a message of repentance. He warned of coming judgement if they did not turn from their worship of idols. He also focused on the coming day of the Lord and the rejoicing that would bring. He proclaims that God is in our midst, He will save and that He loves and rejoices over each of us with singing. What a wonderful message of hope and reassurance for today. We know Jesus came showing that He saves, loves, cares, protects, holds us in His hands and rejoices over us with gladness. Let His gladness and love sink into your soul, filling you with thanksgiving and hope. Knowing that God rejoices and sings over me, a sinner, gives me great hope and creates in me a thankful heart. Knowing He alone will quiet my heart gives me peace.

Be filled with thanksgiving in knowing you are loved and that your Savior, Jesus, is rejoicing over you today!

Linda

Generosity at its Best = Servants of Jesus cared for and loved!

As I have reached the end of the book of Philippians, I have been encouraged each time I have written by the JOY that Paul conveys in this short letter. Our last portion is Philippians 4:14-23. Paul applauds the Philippians for their unending support for him spiritually and financially. He praises their generosity towards him even when others have forgotten. It truly made him feel loved and cared for.

14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. 21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. 22 And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

As I read this closing portion of Paul’s letter, I was reminded that this month, October, is Pastor Appreciation month. These words and their stated generosity that is over and above that which others had done spoke to me. I asked myself, what have I done, how have I shown my appreciation to God’s servants at my church? Would they consider my generosity and loving care a love that goes over and above?

For their generosity and loving care, Paul pronounced a blessing promise on these believers and all of us in verse 19. “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew the one who took care of him and was sovereign over all his needs. God had placed those believers there in Philippi to take care of His servant Paul. We can know that same assurance of His care and love though our faith in Jesus. Don’t we need to do our part in taking care of the servants He has placed in our midst?

Consider this and count it as JOY that God has blessed you by giving you faithful servants in your life that love Jesus and love and care about you. How will you express your generosity this month towards those who serve you faithfully in the name of Jesus?

Linda

Joy in Being Like Minded…

The portion of Philippians for today’s blog has caused me to think and then rethink what it means for my life.  Paul starts out with a statement that should cause us to pause and evaluate our life experiences.  I like the New Living Translation as I think it makes it  Philippians 2-2clearer.  Philippians 2:1-2 “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”   It seems Paul is saying if we have experienced Christ in our life through His love and compassion or felt the indwelling Holy Spirit within us then we should be able to work together with other believers having Christ and His gospel ministry as our priority.  Being like minded does not mean uniformity like we are clones of one another.  God made us to be individuals and gave us uniquely different gifts.  We are to use them in working together striving to be joined in Christlike attitude.  When we digress into petty arguments or oppose one another for the sake of opposition then we are not practicing God’s love towards one another and are hindering the spread of the gospel.  Paul is saying that being like minded brings him complete joy or makes him truly happy.   Seeing fellow believers working together in unity makes him glad!    Paul goes on to admonish us to watch our “self” attitudes and motives and humbly look out for others. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”  Sobering thoughts.

Paul’s words are as applicable today as they were to the believers of ancient Phillipi.  People digress and desire to look out for themselves and their own interests rather than seeking to look out for the interest of others.  Jesus wants us to have godly priorities:  God first then man.  He gave this as a command in Matthew 22:38-39 “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Take some time today and reexamine your priorities- who are you putting first in your life?  What is motivating you-love of God or love of self? Do, like Paul, find joy in seeing people work together in love and commitment to Christ?

helping othersMy Joy is increased: 

  • I can be like-minded in and through Christ with other believers. (vs 2)
  • I can experience joy as I focus on Christ and not worldly self-interests. (vs 3)
  • I can have a loving and compassionate attitude towards others because of Christ in me. (vs 4)

Do these truths bring you joy?  Hopefully, they will cause you to meditate and pray asking God to infuse you with His Holy Spirit and cause you to walk humbly before Him.  That will surely  bring you joy!!

Linda

Love, Hope and a Redemptive Plan = Jesus our Savior!

I love the message of truth given in Ephesians 1:4-10.  I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Here it is in the Message translation for ease in understanding,

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving ephesians 1 7by the hand of his beloved Son.   7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

God had a long range plan to redeem us.  It was not a spur of the moment decision.   In Genesis 1:26, God decided to create man,  a thinking living being in His image, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”    After giving Adam and Eve the directive to not eat of the tree of good and evil, Eve bowed to temptation from Satan and ate giving some to Adam too.  God had anticipated this as He created man with free will and planned for a way to restore men and women into relation ship with Him.  Genesis 3:15 gives the first prophecy of Jesus coming to counter Satan’s dominion over the desires of man. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hersHe’ll wound your head,  you’ll wound his heel.”   Jesus would be born into this world and give hope to mankind through His sacrifice.  

John 3 17Why would God do this?  His motivation was and is  LOVE.  He loves His creation and desires to have a relationship with us.  John 3:16-18 says, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”     

Does this give you HOPE?    Hebrews 3:6 speaks of this hope we now have in Christ. “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”   I also love Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  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.”

romans 5 2The Word is filled with references to God’s plan of redemption and the restoration of His relationship with mankind from Genesis to Revelation.  The story of God’s love for us, His desire to bring us back to Him is why Jesus came.   All these things give me Hope and I pray  they do the same for you as you meditate on Jesus, God’s love and His desire to be in relationship with you.

Linda

Faith- does it really matter?

faith-mattersAs we all struggle with the racism that has surfaced yet again in America, we need to seriously ask ourselves if faith matters. People are carrying signs that say “Black Lives Matter” which is so true- as all people matter. We are all precious and made in God’s image. The question I am pondering is does ‘faith matter’? If it indeed does, how is it manifesting itself in your life?

As Christians we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and God is working within us.  That should make a difference in the way we see our world and the people, animals and the creation that make up our world.   We should be concerned about our life and the lives of others.  Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; make and female he created them.”  He created all of us and our faith brings God into us.  Our faith in God allows us to work and live for Him.  Many of God’s attributes are for Him alone- only He is Incomprehensible, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Sovereign and Almighty.  However, many of God’s attributes are characteristics that He desires us to emulate.

ephesians-3-17If we want to be more and more like Jesus, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to develop those characteristics within us.  He desires that we are kind, loving faithful, thankful, show goodness, gentleness, joy and experience His peace.  If we are to mature in faith, the actual term is sanctification, the we need to work our our faith and live it.  It does matter – it matters to God and it matters to me.  Jeremiah 9:24 tell us what pleases God, “But let him who boast boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”  Through faith we can know God, and w can act in ways that bring Him glory and us good.

Just like ‘black lives matter’, so faith matters. It matters to you and to me. We need to humble ourselves and be open to God’s leading in our lives. When Solomon was dedicating the temple in Jerusalem, God promised a way to return to Him and save their land should they veer off course. “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

way-we-liveLet us pray for our nation and humble ourselves seeking to do as Jesus would when dealing with others… Faith in God and Love are the ways to peace.  Faith matters, let the light of Christ shine in and through you today.

Linda

Love is the answer… live it! Like Jesus.

Troubled times can lead to fear, confusion, despair, alienation from God (self-imposed) and violence when they are not met face to face by Jesus.  When clinging and looking to Jesus, one can see hope, resources, direction, a drawing nearer to Him, and peace.   I have gathered a few quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that are pertinent to our times- I pray they will help direct you towards peace and hope.  He possessed it and lived it during his lifetime and now is in eternity with His Lord and Savior.

Dr King quote 1     When we see injustice, we need to speak out.

Dr King quote 3  Jesus teaches us to love one another.  Unbelievers will know we are Christians because of the love for one another.

We cannot hide our heads in the sand and say – OH, racism will get better on its own- no we have to stand and confront it each time it appears in our midst.  We cannot ignore it like those who persecuted the Jews during WWII.   Racism in any form is deadly.

Dr King quote 5

As I pray for peace in our land, I am convinced that faith and love are the only answers to this problem and all its consequences.  Hatred is evil and leads to more hatred.  Christ spoke of love not hate and He confronted many who hated Him but never resorted to violent actions or words.

Here are a few verses to meditate upon today:

John 13:34-35 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.”

Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Ephesians 4:1-2 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”

1 John 4: 7,11-12 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”  11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

God is love and desires that we love one another.  Let us walk in His love and purposefully show it to whoever we encounter.  Be His love in this world today.

Linda

Their Sacrifices are right and just on our behalf …. Semper Fi (Always faithful)

Memorial-Day-1For this holiday- Memorial Day- the greeting, “Happy Memorial Day” just does not express the appropriate sentiment.  Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifice of soldiers who have died in war.  It began after the Civil war and was originally called ‘Decoration Day’.  It was later extended to honor all fallen soldiers in any war.  Jesus told us in John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than his, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Anyone who joins the military knows they might be called to go to war and fight.  Believing in life, freedom and the independent pursuit of happiness is declared in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights and gives motivation and heart to their call to defend our nation.  It is an honorable calling that is worthy of our acknowledgement and remembrance.  Proverbs 10:7The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
 but the name of the wicked will rot.” 
  Who will you remember today that has answered the call and given their life for their friends?  You and I need to consider ourselves their friends and it is our obligation to their sacrifice that we remember them.  Scripture teaches that remembering will be and is a blessing to us.  Remember both the living and the dead, as both made or are making sacrifices on our behalf.

Will you attend a parade, a breakfast, have a time of prayer, watch a war movie?   Any of these things can be a cause to remember those that have fallen and give thanks for their sacrifice for you and for me.  Have a blessed Memorial Day!  I think that would be the proper greeting and I send it to you!

Linda

Arlington Cemetary
Arlington National Cemetery

Prayer:  Thank you Lord, for those brave men and women who have given their all- their lives- so that I can enjoy the freedoms our country provides.  Help me to be honoring to their memory and sacrifice knowing they laid their lives down for me, someone they did not even know.  Give me an attitude of thankfulness for those Veteran’s that are still living and help me to honor them.  Lord, give our leaders wisdom and a sense of unity in working to preserve that for  which so many have died.  Amen.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered- 1st Century Style

Ephesians 6 21 conclusionMy plan to blog through the entire book of Ephesians during Lent was off by only 1 day.  Here are the concluding verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

21 “To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.

23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 6:21-24

What did Paul send to his friends that lived in Ephesus?   He sent an actual person to deliver the letter.  Besides the written words of Paul, they would have Tychicus to talk to about Paul, so they could personally find out how he was doing physically, the conditions he was living under, how his ministry was going, etc.  All of this Paul knew would be an encouragement to his friends.  Then he ends with a final blessing to all who read this letter-  peace, love filled with faithfulness and eternal grace (God’s undeserved favor) upon all who believe and follow Jesus.  Each of us can receive Paul’s blessing and know that he meant the peace, love, and grace to be ours in Jesus, too.

ephesians 6 24Paul’s letter started with praise and thanksgiving for the faith of the Ephesian  believers and ended with his desire that they continue to walk in faith filled with Jesus’ love and peace for themselves and towards others.  Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be blessed by His peace, love and eternal grace and I can share these blessings with others in His name.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda