The Impact of a Blessed Life

My journey into the area of Obedience continues as I look today at Psalm 128. The focus of verse 1 is explained in this short and beautifully worded psalm.

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.

You will eat the fruit of your labor;
    blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing
    for the man who fears the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion;
    may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life.
May you live to see your children’s children—
    peace be on Israel.

The first point the psalmist makes is that obedience brings blessing. The obedience is specific as it is about walking in the fear of the Lord. This fear is not panic or terror but reverence and awe. Keeping the Lord with you each day as a loved and cherished companion, knowing He knows right from wrong and will guide your steps, is this kind of obedience. The psalmist also points out that walking in obedience to God daily will bring blessings to your household and all of your family. I love this idea that walking with God reflects on those around you for good. By your words and deeds you will make Him known. Paul gives us this idea when he wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:14 ” The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” When we walk with Jesus, His grace is on us and poured out to others in His name. This is a beautiful thought to ponder and absorb. Your life has meaning in Him and will impact others for Jesus!

The psalmist also make the point that a life lived in obedience will reflect the peace of God and bring prosperity to our life and the lives of our children. Peter opens his second letter with this same idea. 2 Peter 1:2-3 “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” God promises grace and peace to those who follow Him and Peter tells us that God has given us all we need to see and live in that peace and to do it with abundance. Is your life peaceful? I’m not talking about being free from conflict, but do you have worries about your eternal future? Do you know that you belong to Him no matter what happens? Is your life filled with abundant love from God? As you look into His Word, do you see His love for you and His peace? Consider Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” and John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” God promises His love and peace for us. It starts when you receive Jesus as your savior and repent of your sins. It will continue into eternity! Now that is love in abundance and bountiful peace that we did and do not deserve!

Seeking to walk in obedience to Jesus and show His love to those around you today. You will be blessed!

Linda


A Reminder of What Christmas Brings…

This blessing shows us what having Christ in Christmas does for you and me.

His Spirit brings us peace. John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” His peace dispels all fears, removes our heart troubles and calms us in a chaotic world.

His arrival brings us hope for forgiveness, mercy and redemption. Colossians 1:13-14  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead“. Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

He brings warmth into our lives with His love. 1 John 4:7-9 speaks of God’s love for us. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” God is love and He sent Jesus as proof of that great love. John 3:16-17 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

May the Peace, Hope and Love of God fill you day.

Merry Christmas,

Linda

A Journey towards Freedom and Joy!

My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men or aged Anna and Simon yet, but the Mary, Joseph and Jesus did not meet them until after his birth. Anna and Simon were encountered in the temple when Jesus was circumsized after 8 days, as was their custom. The wise men saw the star when Jesus was born and followed it, arriving in Bethlehem about 2 years after his birth. The gifts they brought provided monies for Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they had to flee in the night to Egypt to avoid Herod’s executioners. I’ll continue with their parts in this story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.

This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin- Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.

Linda

The 4th Sunday of Advent, Peace to You!

On this 4th Sunday before Christmas, we light the peace candle. The first candle we lit on that First Sunday was the prophecy candle which symbolized the hope the coming Messiah brings to mankind. The second was the Bethlehem candle which reminded us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. The third candle symbolized the Shepherd’s joy at the birth of the Messiah. Today we light the Angel candle symbolizing the message given to the angels which was one of “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.” The final white center candle will be lit on Christmas Eve which speaks of the arrival of the Messiah, the Christ child.

Rejoice today as you worship and sing carols. Ponder the blessings of hope, joy and peace that come to us because of God’s mercy and grace in sending Jesus as our Savior. Here is Psalm 130 which speaks of our cries to God for mercy as we realize our own sin. The answer rests with the Lord and His mercy towards us in sending Jesus.

From the depths of despair, O Lord,
    I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
    Pay attention to my prayer.

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
    who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
    that we might learn to fear you.

I am counting on the Lord;
    yes, I am counting on him.
    I have put my hope in his word.

I long for the Lord
    more than sentries long for the dawn,
    yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
    for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
    His redemption overflows.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from every kind of sin.

Thank you Lord for your unfailing mercy and love. Thank you for sending Jesus to redeem me from every kind of sin. Thank you Lord that You have everything under your control. I will trust in You.

Linda

Zechariah’s Child Brings Hope of Redemption

Zechariah’s prophecy part 2, Luke 1: 76-80. In these verses of Zechariah’s song of praise to the Lord, he focuses on his own new born son and the place and purpose God has for him..

Luke 1:76-80 76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Here is what scripture tells of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son just as prophesied: John 1:6-8 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” He was known during his ministry as John the baptizer or John the Baptist. Not only did Zechariah give prophesies about John and his mission for God but the ancient prophet Isaiah has also foretold of one coming to pave the way for Jesus hundreds of years before. Matthew 3:1-3 “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:4 “And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Luke 3:2  during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

All 4 gospels speak of John and his mission to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. He was to enlighten the Jews as to their sinfulness, like the prophets of old, and point them to Jesus. Zechariah’s prophesy speaks of the condition of the people at that time- living in darkness under the shadow of death. This refers to the bondage of sin that Jesus came to lift and to Him bringing His light of life. John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Not only would Jesus bring the light of life but peace to their souls. In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

How do these prophesies encourage you today? First, they tell me that God had a plan long ago to redeem us from our sins. He planned to send Jesus to bring us life, light, freedom from sin and peace. Next, God is Sovereign. Over that centuries He wove His plan through the people of God, the Jews, through the line of Seth to Abraham to David to Jesus. He brought them over distances far and wide using rulers who believed as well as those who did not. Only God is Sovereign over time, space, people and things. Only God could preserve His people through thousands of years. Lastly, it strikes me that God is love. He loved us so much that He brought His plan to completion by the sending of His one and only Son, Jesus to die for our sins. John 3:16 says God orchestrated all time and space to bring His Son Jesus and just the right time in just the right place for all the right reasons, to save us. Thanks be to God! Praise Him this season for His love, sovereignty and plan of redemption. He did it for you and me!

Linda

Sacrifice and Service, Remember them today!

Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941.  It began 81 years ago at 7:55 am.  If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice.  War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men.   Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day.  The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers.  A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died.  I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day.   President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.”  Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.

05 Duty, Honor, Sacrifice

Say a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices of the men who died this day so long ago and for the men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.

Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.

Linda

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