Colossian 1:6b tells us what the Colossian Christians did with the hope they received from Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Indeed, just as in the whole world the gospel is constantly bearing fruit and spreading [by God’s power], just as it has been doing among you ever since the day you first heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth [becoming thoroughly and deeply acquainted with it].” Amplified Bible
This verse shows the power of God to transform a world with the good news of Jesus. His death and resurrection turned the world upside down. The fruit he speaks of is the transformed lives of those followers that want to grow more and more like Jesus. They want to show His love to the world. John 13:34-45 tells us what happens when one embraces the Spirit of God “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” Love as the world had never known began to spread throughout the world. Just think, Jesus started with 12 disciples and then the news of the redemption, love, forgiveness and atonement of Jesus for the world began to spread. Amazing in a day with no internet, no phones or modern transportation, and yet God provided a way for the word of His Son to spread.
Who have you told lately about Jesus? Do you salt your conversations with words telling others of how God has blessed or guided you? How will someone know unless you tell or show them of God’s love? Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,I have a living and vibrant grace-filled faith to share with the world.
Today’s verse from Colossians is very empowering and brings great assurances for our faith. Colossians 1:5-6a “the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you.” Paul was praying and praising God for the Colossian believers and said that their hope, that they so readily shared with everyone around them, is rooted in Christ. Their hope is stored up, saved for eternity, preserved, untouchable by sin and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.
This is a truth that we can claim in our lives too. The faith we have in Christ and the love He has for us and us for Him gives us eternal hope! It is a hope that can never be taken away! What a wonderful blessing we have from Him! Thank you Jesus. This truth is also found in Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began“. This hope of faith is eternal in nature and comes from a God who does not change or lie. Romans 5:2-5 “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. This hope is eternal and God uses it to bring about change in our character for our good and His glory!
As you ponder your faith in Christ and God’s immense love for you, think about 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,” You have the hope within you—- be prepared to share it with gentleness to a hurting world.
As we look towards Lent beginning in a few days, I need to ask myself what does God desire of my heart? In my heart search in Psalms I found new facets and attitudes of our hearts showing what God desires. He desires that we have a bold, teachable, repentant and seeking heart in our interactions and responses towards Him.
God desires that we take a ‘No Fear’ stance in life that depends upon God and not ourselves. Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Be bold for Him.
God desires that we are open to teaching and examination of our motives.Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”Be teachable by Him.
God desires a repentant heart, one that is sorrowing over sin, the Bible also describes this as a contrite heart.Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Isaiahalso speaks of our need to have a contrite heart inIsaiah 57:15 ” The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this:“I live in the high and holy placewith those whose spirits are contrite and humble.I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” God desires us to be repentant so He can restore and dwell with us. We have to come humbly before Him. Since living with Him is not just when we die, we need to deal with the sin in our lives. God living with us is being indwelt by His Holy Spirit begins when Jesus enters our hearts and lives. Jesus gives cleansing from sin when we come before Him with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness and restoration. Be repentant or contrite towards our sin.
God desires that I have a seeking heart towards Him. Psalm 119:10 “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Psalm 22:26 “The afflicted (meek) shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!” Be a seeker of Him.
What is the temperament of your heart today? Are you trusting, open to teaching, repentant and seeking restoration? Would God describe your heart as contrite? Do you sorrow over your sins and desire to walk with Jesus each day? The opposite of each of the above would be one who is fearful, close-minded, rejecting, proud and arrogant over their sins. I pray that none of those describe your heart and that you seek to please God. Micah describes it this way: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
May this be the attitude of our hearts as we walk with Him today.
The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money. I am always overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display in our local stores. 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.
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.
“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
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.
Proverbs has a lot to say about the heart. Sometimes the truth is given directly like in Proverbs 24:1-2 “Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, 2 for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble” and Proverbs 6:14 describes a wicked man’s heart, “with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord.” Very often the proverbs are given with a contrast between the good heart and the bad and seeks to teach or instruct us about our hearts. Proverbs 28:14 “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. “ The writer of Proverbs was wise and desired us to know how God views the heart of man and that God would not just be an observer in our lives. Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 17:3 “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”
Proverbs also teaches how our hearts can and do show our emotions. Proverbs 15:13-15 speaks of the cheerful, seeking heart and how a sorrow can crush the spirit of our heart. “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. 14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,but the mouths of fools feed on folly. 15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 14:30 speaks of the effects of calm and envy on the heart. “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”
In Proverbs 6:16-19 we are given a list of things God hates that really displease Him. “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
How do these ‘heart’ proverbs speak to you today? Is your heart cheerful and calm or do you have times when you feel discord, disharmony or evil? Because of the root of sin in our hearts, we need to continually submit our hearts to the Lord for His continual transformation. I love Proverbs 22:11 “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.” I do want King Jesus as my friend so I need to submit to daily cleansing at His feet in prayer. Won’t you join me today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you know the true nature of my heart. Root out the evil ways in me and replace them with your love, grace and mercy. Give me compassion and love for others that comes out of a grateful heart. Create in me a clean heart that desires to please you. Amen.
February is a month that retailers, florists and card makers would like us to focus on love. Valentine’s Day is big business. They capitalize on the desire of people to find ways to express their love and friendship towards one another. God desires that we have a right heart before Him and attitudes, feelings and joys of the heart are of importance to Him. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Our devotion and love for God is to be paramount in our daily walk with Him. As we move towards the Lenten season which begins on Ash Wednesday, the 17 of February this year, I want to spend a few weeks talking about our hearts and seeing that they are realigned to Him before Lent begins. Join me on this brief look at the heart and be sure yours is in line with God and His desires for you.
What is the true nature of the heart? Scripture teaches the hard truth of what our hearts are like because of sin. Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” God knows the true nature of our hearts and is the only one who can transform a sin sick heart. He searches our heart, tests our mind and will evaluate us according to our deeds. This does not mean we have to earn our salvation. It means there will be a day of accounting where God looks at our actions. We are clean and purified by the blood of Christ, so He will not be looking at sin, but at our heart for Him. What causes you to do good or hard things for God? Is it love, devotion, thankfulness, or zeal for the gospel?
I totally identify with David’s plea to God in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.” By nature our hearts are filled with sin but God can create a clean heart within us. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be transformed by faith in Him. Jesus is our pathway to cleansing, restoration and hope. Just like David, we have to desire it and ask God for it. He promises to renew our hearts and make them pure, and committed to Him.
Will you ask Him today to create a clean heart within you? It will be a new beginning and a step that pleases God, renews and revitalizes life, and brings hope and restoration. Ask Him today.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe you have the power to transform my heart and make me clean and pure. Root out the sin that plagues me and bring me into a vibrant relationship with you. Create in me a clean heart that will be devoted and steadfast in loving you. Create in me a new life with new desires and new hopes that are firmly placed in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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 light the Christ candle on Christmas Eve or morning proclaiming His birth. May you find His Love, Comfort, Hope and Peace in Jesus. May you rejoice in the arrival of Jesus and claim the JOY God has for you.
Just like after John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph had a naming and circumcision ceremony on the eighth day. They named him Jesus as that was the name the angel gave them even before His birth. Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21 Then the Jewish law required the couple to wait 40 days before presenting their child in the temple for dedication to the Lord. On Jesus’ dedication day God prepared yet another confirmation for Mary and Joseph that their child was from God. Here is their encounter with Simeon and his words about Jesus.
Luke 2:25-35 “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. 30 I have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared for all people. 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Wow! What confirmation from this godly man that Jesus was going to provide salvation for all people and bring light into the world. Bringing salvation– Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” and Hebrews 5:9 “In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” Bringing light– John 8:12 “Jesus said to them, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” and 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Simeon also blessed them and spoke words for them to treasure in preparation for the future that God has planned for their child. Saving the world and giving light to all was not going to be an easy pathway as He would face opposition and many hearts would be effected, even theirs.
What encouragement do you find in this story of Jesus’ dedication? It confirms to me that God is Sovereign and Omniscient. He knows all that will happen and had a plan to redeem mankind. It shows God is Merciful, Gracious and Compassionate as He sent His Son to bring light into a dark world and provide salvation for all. God is loving and keeps His promises just as He kept his word to Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Savior. He also prepared Mary and Joseph for the coming life their son would lead, one that would to be filled with godly purpose. God knows each of us as He did Simeon, Joseph and Mary. He knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Reflect today on how God’s timing has been perfect in your life. How has God fulfilled his promise in Romans 8:28 to you? “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I can attest to God’s hand in my life even in the darkest times. Even those tough times produced growth and experiences that God has used many times over to help others, to build my faith and produce results I had never envisioned or dreamed possible. God is indeed Sovereign and can and will use all things for my good and His glory as I walk with Him.
Zechariah ends his Song in Luke 1:76-79. Here he tells about his newly born son and the privileged place God he holds in God’s plan of redemption for all mankind. Let the beauty of his words minister to you today.
“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. 77 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Zechariah refers to John as the prophet of the Most High and Jesus will be called the Son of the Most High. This name was revealed to Mary by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:32 “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” John had a specific job to do as he was to tell the people how to find forgiveness for their sins in this coming Messiah. He was to prepare the hearts and minds of the people for Jesus and His message of salvation. They were about to experience a time of great light from God and needed to be ready. Jesus would bring light into the darkness of the world. “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 He also gives the reason for the arrival of Jesus, because of God’s tender mercy. God showed compassion, mercy and great love towards us in sending Jesus to redeem and restore us to relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” and John 3:16 ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Praise God for His mercy, love and compassion towards us in sending Jesus.
This section of scripture ends with how John grew up. 80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Since Zechariah and Elizabeth were old when John was born, perhaps they died before his ministry began as he had moved to the Judean desert and was living there instead of being in the hill country of Nazareth where he was born. This verse confirms the prophesy about John and his way of life and mission given in Luke 1:15-16 “for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.
I think one of the things I like most about Zechariah’s Song is the pure joy and hope that he gives all of us through the coming of Jesus. We can have light. We can experience redemption. We can see God’s hand move in our midst through the power of Jesus. Praise God for His coming!
The second Sunday of Advent is when the candle of faith or love is lit. Both of these proclaim the blessing to come because of God’s great love for us, by sending Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. This week we will focus on the angel’s appearance to Mary, her reaction, the birth of John to Elizabeth and Zechariah, and their reactions to his birth besides the fact that dad could now talk! 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.
I will leave you today with this Psalm 92:1-5 and 12-15
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
92 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, 3 to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. 4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 5 How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 15 to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.