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

Connected in Christ = our privilege, His purpose

What was God’s purpose for Jesus after He died on the cross and rose from the dead?  Ephesians 1:20 tells us how and where God placed Jesus, “that (the resurrection power of God)  raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.   The next verses God tells us of Jesus’ ultimate authority21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.”   Lastly in verses 22-23 God tells us why He placed Jesus there, God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”   

Ephesians 1 22-23 the-body-christIt is important for us to know that Jesus’ work on the cross finished the issue of salvation and forgiveness,  but not His work in the world now and in the future.  God has a plan for all time that He reveals in the Bible.  He refers to all believers here as the church, elsewhere the Bride of Christ.  They are a body of believers that are filled with His Spirit, the Spirit that fills all things.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are connected with Him and to all other believers.  We are all part of His body, the church.  Using the analogy of a body for all believers shows were are connected, able to work together, have many parts and each have a unique job to accomplish for Him.    So… how are you working within His body,  the church, to accomplish what He has set out for you to do for Him?  Are you cooperative with fellow believers?   Do you work for His glory and not your own?   Believers are not perfect, but sinners forgiven, and we need to be filled with His grace, mercy and love as we strive to work with others for the cause of Christ.   Remember Christ said in John 13:34-35 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

john 13 35Spend some time in prayer today contemplating your place, work and spirit of cooperation within your local church.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you are doing well and where you need His help to do better.   He is faithful and will show you.

Linda

 

#8 Practicing Devotion to God-by Focusing on our Savior

How do you go about focusing on Christ as your Savior?   Christ is our example, our brother, our Lord, our guide, intercessor…. but what about Savior?  Focusing on Jesus as Savior will increase your love and devotion for Him.

Here are a few verses that point us towards Christ and all He has done for us in saving romans 5 8us.  Romans 5:8 “ but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”    God so loved us, even as sinners, that he sent Jesus to redeem and save us through His death on the cross.  Imagine a love that great as to sacrifice your son for you and me!   1 Peter 2:24-25 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”    Christ died on the cross so that we might live wholly, complete and be presented blameless before God.  1 peter 2 24He willingly gave Himself to save us!  He healed us in His death from our sin and unrighteousness.  Now instead of wandering in a world of sin,  we are kept and looked after by the great Shepherd who looks out for our souls.  What a wonderful picture of our loving God and Savior.  

Today as you meditate on Christ, your Savior, think about all He has done for you personally.  Where would you be today without your Savior?  What would your future be like?   We, as believers, have much to be thankful for in having a wonderful Savior in Jesus the Christ.

Linda

Happy Valentine’s Day with a Thankful Heart

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 john 3 16is 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.

valentineWhen 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

 

Total Hope, where do you find it?

These first few weeks of 2020 I have been looking into HOPE as it is my chosen word for the year.  I saw survival hope in Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”, Hope in God’s Word, Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield;  I hope in your word.”,  Hope in God’s steadfast Love, Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,”, Hope in the future, Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” and daily Hope for living, Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  

Today’s verse helps me to see that God is my Total HopePsalm 62:5-7                            psalm 62 5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”     

I love the truth of these words written by the psalmist David so long ago.  They are truths confirmed throughout scripture.  My hope comes from God aloneHe is the one who stands by me and holds me in times of distress and trouble  Psalm 107:13 “they cried to the Lord in their trouble,   and he delivered them from their distress.”   God is so strong and mighty, so sure and complete that He cannot be shaken, Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.    He gave me salvation through faith in Jesus, Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”.   God alone is working in my life to mold and shape me into the person He desires me to be and shares His glorious attributes with me,  Romans 5:3-5 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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.”   He is the holder of my salvation and sent the Holy Spirit as my guarantee, 2 Corinthians 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Do these truths about God alone give you Hope for surviving, loving, learning and leaning on the truth of His Word, for looking into the future and for daily living?  God is my total Hope and that Hope is in Him alone.  He is and has all the hope I need.  in christ alone“Thank you Jesus for bringing God’s Hope to me.”  

May you grab hold of His Hope today and be uplifted and strengthened.

Linda

Got Hope in 2020? Anchor it in God’s Steadfast Love.

Hope-in-Gods-Steadfast-LoveAs we look at hope in scripture we see survival hope, hope in His Word and today I see hope in His steadfast love.  God’s love is an anchor for our soul and His love surrounds us 24/7.  Knowing God loves us- gives us Hope, knowing God is trustworthy and faithful gives us Hope that is secure in that love.  John 3:16 reminds us that God’s love is what motivated Him to come after us, free us and send Jesus to suffer and die to redeem us for all eternity.  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.   This love, eternal and sacrificial is ours so that we may have Hope.

In the Psalms David captures this love hope and puts it into words we can cling to:  Psalm 33:18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,”    Psalm 33:22  ” May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,  even as we put our hope in you.”   Psalm 147:11 “The Lord delights in those who fear him,  who put their hope in his unfailing love.”     We see in these verses hope comes from knowing God’s unfailing love because we revere, worship and adore Him.   Hope comes when we put our trust in God, and God is pleased or delighted by our reverence and fear.  We know that God is love, and the proof of His love is His sending Jesus to save us.  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”1 John 4:10

psalm33 22Meditate on God’s steadfast love today and consider how that love gives you HOPE1 Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  for his steadfast love endures forever!”    Psalm 13:5 “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” Psalm 33:22 “Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

Begin 2020 with Hope rooted in God’s Steadfast Love,

Linda

Love, the motivating factor in the story

In our journey this Advent Season we have walked with Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Anna, Simeon, the shepherds, the angels and the Wise Men, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth.  We have seen our Omnipotent, Omniscient, Sovereign God in control and guiding all events.  Today, Christmas Eve, let us look at the prophesy Isaiah gave concerning this Christ Child, Emmanuel-God with us.  Let us marvel at God’s Love for us.  The depth, width and scope of what He would do to show His love so we could be reconciled to Him.   Isaiah 9:6-7 was  written 700 years before Christ’s birth.

Isaiah-9-6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

God is loveJesus was the full expression of God’s LOVE for usHe loved us before we first loved Him.  His love is complete, eternal, uncompromising, faithful, true and unchanging.  Scripture tells us that God is love.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8   Here are a few scriptures describing God’s love:

Deuteronomy 33:12 ““Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long,  and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”

Psalm 63:3 “Because your love is better than life,  my lips will glorify you.”

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:16 “ And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 

God loved us so much that He sent His beautiful, wonderful Son to accomplish our reconciliation and redemption.  John 3:16  “ 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.”  Thank you God for loving me so much and saving me.

Linda