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

The Cross = submission in love

The last portion of Ephesians 5 is a difficult passage as it deals with submission and relationships in the home and in marriage that are to mirror Christ’s love for us.  I think the reason these verses cause such turmoil is that they are counter-culture and go against the thinking of today and women’s rights.  However, if we look at verse 5:21 and 5:32-33 we get to the heart of what Paul was saying.  God is a god of order and design.  Someone in the home has to make the final decision but any decisions need to be tempered and driven by love, a love like Christ has for us as believers.  Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”   We submit, yield or seek the approval of one another out ephesians 5 32of our love for Christ.  5:32-33 “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”   An example of the mystery of Christ’s relationship to believers is seen in the loving, caring respectful relationship of a man and wife.  Submission to each other is done because of Christ and our love for Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can live lives submitted to one another in love that mirror Christ’s love for us.

Ephesians 5 21Have a blessed day as you consider how you are submitting or yielding your rights to others in Christ like love.

Linda

Here is the whole passage –Ephesians 5:21-33  ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

A Call to PRAY this 5th Sunday of Lent 2020 in a virus filled world

Sovereign-LordHere are some verses to uplift, encourage and challenge you this 5th Sunday of Lent as our world struggles with the pandemic of Covid-19:

God is Sovereign: Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,   and his kingdom rules over all.”   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”    John 10:29 “ My Father, who has given (my sheep- believers) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”    Each of these verses shows God’s Sovereign power.  He is Creator God and there is none greater.  Once we belong to Him, nothing and no one can take us away from Him.  God is the determiner of mankind and those things He allows to come into our lives.   Like the plagues of the Old Testament, pray, pray, pray for God’s mercy in these days of Covid-19.  Humble yourselves and turn back to Him and seek Him and His forgivenessWe are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:22-23   God promises sovereignrestoration and forgiveness if:    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 

Please pray.

Here are the truths we found in God’s Word from Ephesians 4:17-5:20 this last week.  They are rich and bring joy and challenge to the believer as we endeavor to walk with Him each day.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be a new creation in Jesus!  Ephesians 4:17-24

We are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God.   Ephesians 4:25-32

We can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.  Ephesians 5:1-2

I can choose light and life with HimEphesians 5:3-8

His light can be seen in me.  Ephesians 5:9-14

How I live my life for Him matters.  Ephesians 5:15-20

May you have a Sunday filled with His love and be able to spend time praying and mediating on His Sovereignty and His wonderful truths from Ephesians.

Linda

Being real imitators = Life filled with Love

Paul begins Ephesian Chapter 5:1-2 having arrived at a conclusion as to how believers ephesians 5 1-2in Jesus should act.  “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us  and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”   He exhorts us to imitate GodWhat does that mean to you?   Think of God’s attributes and consider the ones that He desires we have – like being forgiving, loving, kind, gentle, compassionate, thankful, pure, holy, ….  God desires that we follow Christ’s example and imitate Him because He dearly loves us and we are His children.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross pleased God as it redeemed all mankind from death and enabled us to come before Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.

Where do you need to imitate Christ in your life?  With your family, at work or school, on committees or groups you belong to??   Living a life of authentic Christianity is a call to sacrifice, humility and openness before God.  I love Philippians 1:6 because it assures me that I am not in this struggle to live for Christ alone,  “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.”  Philippians 4:19  assures me that He has what I need to live for Him, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”   We can have hope that God Jesus-likewill finish what He started in us when we became believers.  He always completes what He starts!  We can do this because God has the resources for all our needs.  We just need to ask and be willing to serve Him.  Be imitators of Christ today and experience His love in your life.

Linda

Don’t be a victim of the winds, going to and fro!

In Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul expands on the truth from yesterday, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.   But what do we do if new ideas come along that seem to contradict what we know about God?   We are reminded in James to look out for doctrines that would sway us away from the truth of the gospel and lead us astray.  James compares our vacillating on truth to the effect of the wind, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:6   Likewise, Paul concludes in Ephesians 4:14-16 that being grounded and rooted in God’s Word will keep us stable and lead us to lives that contribute to the body of believers. 

ephesians 4 14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

If we desire to move towards maturity in Christ, we need to be grounded in the truth of the gospel, knowledgeable about what scripture teaches  for righteous living and willing to stand firm on God’s Word of truth.  Paul says that this grounding in truth will lead to fuller, richer lives that ephesians 4 16will build up the body of believers and help the whole body of Christ (the church) be stronger.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can mature into Christians that support and love one another.

What are you doing to grow in maturity?  Do you attend church regularly and mediate on what your pastor is preaching on?  Are you in a Bible Study group at your church or elsewhere?  Growing and maturing in Christ does not happen by chance but requires attention to the Word and study.  Be growing in Christ and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when He presents you with an opportunity for growth.

Linda

Here are two International Bible Study organizations that have classes throughout the world.  Check them out and see if they are near you.  Right now all classes are on-line due to the virus, but they are still going strong as our God is unstoppable.

Bible Study Fellowshiphttp://www.bsf.org

Community Bible Studyhttp://www.cbs.org

 

But God! Thankfully, His grace abounds towards us!

Yesterday, Paul reminded us of our state of sinfulness before knowing Christ in Ephesians 2:1-3.  epheisans 2 4 but-godIn today’s verses, Paul brings us hope that through the mercy of God we were not left in that horrible state, BUT GOD!    We can be totally encouraged by our present and future!   Ephesians 2:4-7  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”   

Blank white paperWow!!! In His mercy, God intervened and sent Jesus to die for our sins and be raised from the dead.  Through His act of love, He offered salvation through faith in Jesus.  It was totally God.  He alone could save us from our sin, and we did or can do nothing to earn His love.  We can’t be good enough or work hard enough to make God love or save us- it is solely through His grace- God’s unmerited favor towards us.   Paul tells us God’s plans did not stop with salvation,  but He desires to have us dwell with Him in eternity in heavenly places so He can show us His amazing grace and kindness up close and personal.   Amazing!

I am so thankful that God intervened.  Romans 5:8 confirms this truth “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Sinful man would be a hopelessly lost but for God.    Does that fact make you thankful?  Do you feel loved by God?   Can you feel the grace of Jesus in your lifeJohn 1:14, 16 “And the john 1 16Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”    

Through the power of Jesus’  indwelling Holy Spirit, we are filled with His grace each day.  Live today like you believe you are filled with His grace and love.  Look for His gracious hand of protection and favor as you go through this day.   When you see it or feel it, raise your voice in praise to Him!  You will be amazed by God’s grace and love.

Linda