COME! to Him

Today’s favorite comes from Matthew’s gospel and my friend Lee, chose verse 28. I have added the surrounding verses to give a better picture of our Lord’s meaning and scope.

Matthew 11:28-30 28 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.”

Jesus’ words bring comfort to our hearts and minds as He recognizes our humanness and the difficulties of this world in which we live. Consider the Jews Jesus is addressing when His words were spoken. They were harasses and overburdened by the religious leaders of their day. They had constant rules and regulations which they need to abide by be considered faithful. Most of these were man-made rules that were a great burden to the people and caused them great distress. They were also citizens of an occupied country. Rome was a formidable ruler that demanded much from those they enslaved. They were also living in troubled times and families struggled for existence- food, shelter and peace. Jesus’ words of peace and promised rest were music to their weary ears.

Is it not so with us? Do you long to hear words of comfort from your Savior? Jesus promises He is gentle, loving and by coming to Him He will make your burdens lighter. Belonging to Jesus will not add to your burdens, but will free you spiritually to be able to rise above the earthly worries as you cling to Him. Jesus promises belonging to Him means He will walk beside us and help us carry the burdens we have in life. If need be at times, He will carry us. Resting in Jesus is the safest place to be. In 1 Peter 5:10 Peter spoke these words to believers, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Jesus’ rest is a rest that restores, strengthens, confirms and helps establish us in faith. Praise God!

Thank you Lee for pointing us to this verse. May we be reminded of Christ’s command, COME! You cannot receive the blessing of rest and restoration unless you come to Him.

Linda

Holy Week, Tuesday, A Full Day of Teaching!

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.

Linda

Is Your Worry Greater than Your Trust in God?

Today’s scriptures from Luke 12:22-25 are ones we are all familiar with but the previous verse in Luke 12:15 shows the cause for Christ’s concern. “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Christ was talking to the disciples about worrying about accumulating wealth and the tendency towards being consumed by greed and desire for worldly things over heavenly treasures. Luke 12: 22-25 is where Jesus tells us to not be overly concerned about what we ‘put on’ physically as that kind of worry is futile.  Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

Jesus’ point is clear, worry about worldly things and needs will consume us if we let them. Will doing all that worry add any time to our lives? No, in fact the stress may make us literally sick with worry. Not that we are not to be mindful of our needs, but the worry of it should not consume us. Jesus’ reasoning is that God takes care of the birds of the air and sees to their needs and He loves us so much more. How do I know this? Because God sent His only Son to die for our sins to restore us into right relationship with Him. John 3:16 tells us how much He loves us, “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.” Jesus wants us to live a life of trust, walking with Him, not one that is consumed with worry or seeking material possessions needlessly. With our old nature, it is always tempting to let greed overtake reason. Jesus knows this so He points us to a walk of faith and trust in Him.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life free from worry and grounded in His love and care. Time spent worrying is time spent not trusting God. May your day be worry free as you trust in His faithfulness and abundant provision.

Linda

What Christ endured for me, I’m Humbled by His Love

Today’s ‘put on verse’ will cause you to consider the cost of our sins to our Savior Jesus.

John 19:2 says “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe.” and 1 Peter 2:24 ““He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Lent is a time of reflection about our sinfulness and how we can best emulate His character thought the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider what Jesus suffered: the beatings, the trials, the ridicule, the unbelief that what he said was true, the placement with thieves and robbers, and the hanging on the cross with its torture, pain and humiliation. He suffered all of that and in so doing took on the sins of the world- past, present and future. He suffered so we can know Him, be in a relationship with Him, live with Him eternally and have His Holy Spirit living within us. There is nothing we can ever do to earn or deserve that kind of love, devotion and sacrifice. John 3:16 reminds us of Jesus’ motive for going to the cross, “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.” God loved us so much; He sent Jesus to bring us into a right relationship with Him and experience eternal life. Through Christ we can be righteous, holy and pure in God’s eyes because when God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ blood covering our sins. I am amazed and humbled by God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. He put on the crown of thorns for me and went to the cross. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live forgiven and restored to a right relationship with Him.

What can I ever do for Him? Remember Jesus saying the greatest commandment and then #2. Matthew 22:34-39 “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 we love God and love others with His love, we honor Him=He is glorified.

Also consider Micah 6:8 “And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.”
We cannot act with justice, love, mercy and humility without the power of the Holy Spirit within us. So lean into Him, ask His help through prayer, learn about Him from His Word, join other believers in worship and fellowship and seek to show others your love for Jesus.

Linda

Words from Paul on How To- Put on the Good Stuff!

In yesterday’s blog from Colossians 3:1-10, Paul began with the reason we have a new life to put on. Christ is the reason for our new life and with that new life we are to put off, put away, stop doing things that are not godly. Paul had quite a list for us to consider: 3:5, 8-9 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.

In today’s scripture from Colossians 3:12-14, Paul tells us what we are to put on, as we seek to live for Jesus. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Because we now belong to Christ, Jesus wants us dressed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 22:37-40, when asked what is the greatest commandment,  “‘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.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Putting on godly behavior means seeking to love the Lord and all those around us. Jesus put it this way in John 13: 34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Becoming a Christian is more that acknowledging Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is about growing in His character through the power of the Holy Spirt, so that others will see Him and His love through you. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can love God and show His love to those around me in the things I say and do. Have a little ‘put on’ check today. Ask yourself, am I acting in a way that others can see Jesus in my actions? Am ready to forgive when wronged? Am I being loving to those I know and those I don’t? Meditate on Colossians 3:12-14 as you ponder these questions. Also consider your own growth as a Christian and whether or not you are open to God creating His character within you through the power of His Holy Spirit. If you are willing, He is ABLE!

Linda

Living in the Light of Jesus, daily!

For those of you who follow me, I apologize for the error in yesterday’s blog. Once I publish something, I can update it but it still is sent out to you without the correction. Going online and pulling it up brings up the corrected blog. I use 1 Corinthians 9:12 not 12:9. Hopefully, it did not interfere with the message as the scripture was written correctly.

Today I am looking at 1 Thessalonians 5:8 “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” This is a great verse with very clear message of what we are to ‘put on’ as believers. Paul is talking in this passage about Christ’s return and our belonging to His light as we not longer live in the darkness of sin. Verse 5, “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” We can live each day in His light assured that we belong to Him. I love 1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him (Jesus) and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Since we are children of His light, we are to put on faith and love and live with a knowledge of the hope we have in Jesus. Each day when you rise, greet the day with ‘God morning Lord’. You are assured that He is with you and that in His love He cares for you. Our faith in Jesus lets the love of God into our lives and brings with it hope for each day and for eternity with Him. Paul uses the analogy of armor in this verse. Our faith in Jesus protects our heart and the hope we have in him covers our minds as protection against the attacks of the world and its unbelief. We can live assured that Jesus has us covered. What a great way to live!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live each day in His light filled with His love and hope. May you rise each day and put on faith knowing with it comes His love, His protection and light for living that very day.

Linda

Paul, “It was Worth it!” Agree?

The Apostle Paul uses put in a new context in today’s passage. 1 Corinthian 9:12 comes in the midst of a passage where Paul is reasoning that missionaries deserve to be paid or supported for their work. Just as Jewish priests were given food and clothing, so those that serve Christ preaching and teaching deserve to be cared for.

 “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

Paul is saying that they may have the right to support, but they did not insist upon it. They suffered and put up with less so that the gospel of Christ would go forward. He was not bragging, but simply stating the fact that he was compelled to preach the gospel. In verse 16 Paul says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. ” His motivation was pure, without complications, as He presented the gospel so that others might know Christ and be redeemed.

What is your motivation for telling others about Christ? Paul was so driven to tell others he could not, not tell them. His desire was for them to know Christ, to be freed from the bondage of sin, to have the eternal assurance of salvation and to have hope for living each day. This was what drove him to tell as many as he could, regardless of the danger or hardships to himself. Do you want others to be free in Christ? Do you want to see them in eternity worshipping and rejoicing with Jesus?

Consider this, Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am compelled to speak of the love of Jesus, to speak of His redeeming power and to speak of the assurance I have of spending eternity with Him. Think about this in the context of John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Are you compelled to speak out for Jesus because of your love for Jesus and for those who need to know Him? Are you willing like Paul, to put up with anything so that others can know Him? As Christians we need to be willing to put up with the world’s attitude and rejection, so that someone may come to know Jesus as their Savior. As Paul reasoned, “it is worth it.”

Linda

Happy Valentine’s Day!

john 3 16

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.

valentine

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.

Blessings on this Valentine’s Day.

Linda

Advent…Gloriously Completed in Jesus’ Arrival

Merry Christmas! I found this Christmas Blessing while blogging this year and really loved the sentiments it contained. May you know the blessings of Peace that Jesus brings, John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” May you see your Hope in Him, 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” May you feel the Sprit of His Love, 1 John 3:23 “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” May you have the Comfort of Faith in Jesus, 2 Corinthians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

All of these gifts complete the circle of our Advent Wreath as we lit the Christ candle on Christmas Eve proclaiming His birth. May you find Love, Comfort, Hope and Peace in Jesus. May you rejoice in the arrival of Jesus and claim the JOY God has for you.

Linda

Advent…Do you please God?

On the night Jesus was born Shepherds heard the news in an amazing way. Luke 2:8-14

 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

I cannot even imagine seeing a host of angels shouting and praising God. The sound must have been deafening but glorious! It is understandable that the shepherds were afraid. These were God’s warriors from heaven’s armies come to earth, visibly, to announce this amazing news. The angel, probably Michael or Gabriel or the leader of the host of angels calmed the shepherds with his words and then quickly told them of the birth of God’s son, the long awaited Messiah. Their message to the shepherds and all of us too, was one of praise to God for sending this messenger of peace for all mankind. This peace on earth is to be bestowed upon those with whom God is pleased. Our question then is how does one please God?

Scripture tells us what pleases God. Here are a few for you to meditate upon today.

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Faith is essential to pleasing God.

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?
Living a life based upon His justice, love and kindness with humility pleases God.

Psalm 147:11 “but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
Our reverence, awe of Him and our trust upon His love pleases Him.

Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
    but those who act faithfully are his delight.
” Our faithful actions please God.

Jesus said in 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.” Our love for others shows we love Him and our obedience pleases Jesus.

May you be encouraged today as you mediate on the ways you are pleasing God and yet, challenged to do even more.

Linda