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

 

Tender Mercy-what is it, who has it?

Like Mary, Zachariah had a long song of praise to God after his speech was restored.  Luke 1:76-79  “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
luke 1 7878 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us  from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The first part of Zachariah’s song, Luke 1:68-75,  praised God for sending Messiah, as promised.  He speaks of the holiness and righteousness of this Savior to come.   In today’s scripture, Luke 1:76-79, Zachariah is praising merciful God for his own son, John, who will have a part in preparing the way for Messiah. John would be a prophet, prepare the world for the arrival of Messiah and give the people knowledge of coming forgiveness and salvation. Zachariah extols God for being merciful and sending  a Savior to give light in a dark world, provide guidance and would show us the way of peace. Just as Mary praised God for His mercy to her people Israel, so Zachariah praises God for His tender mercy to all mankind for sending John to lead the way and providing a guiding light towards forgiveness and salvation in Jesus.  Here Zachariah calls it the tender mercies of God.  Mercy is not giving us what we do deserve which is death for our sins and total separation from Holy God.  Tender mercy is mercy filled with love for us.   The Message reads, “Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us.”   Love, sincere love from the heart, motivated God to send Jesus to save us.  John 3:16 says it best,  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  God loved us so much He sent Jesus to make a way for us to be made right with Him.  That is mercy- we did not deserve.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “ but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  What a merciful God we have.  He loved us and sent Jesus even knowing of our sinfulness and the great cost to His Son to redeem us.  That is tender mercy from a loving God!

love and mercyMay your day be filled with His mercy and love towards you.  Then give it out like God did by sending Jesus.  You will be blessed.

Linda

Have you known the blessings of Obedience?

Luke 1:57-66 tell of the arrival of baby John to his mother Elizabeth and mute Zachariah, his father.  The angel Gabriel had pronounce God’s judgement upon Zachariah for his unbelief in Luke 1:19-20,  when he had questioned God’s ability to create new life within Elizabeth’s aged, barren body.   Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his John namefather, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

obedienceThis story shows how Elizabeth and Zachariah learned obedience and followed through doing exactly as God directed in naming their child.  When they had demonstrated this faith and obedience, the temporary judgment was lifted and Zachariah was able to speak.  Not surprisingly, his first words were words of praise to Almighty God for the miracles God had performed in their lives.

God is present in this very story, from the lifting of the curse of muteness upon Zachariah to the birth of a healthy boy in Elizabeth’s old age.  Even the neighbor’s recognized God’s mercy towards her and the joy she evidently showed at being a mother.  God is always faithful, keeping all His promises.  He is a promise keeping God.  In the Old Testament book of 1 Kings 8:56 we find, “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.”   None of God’s promises failed nor will they ever fail.  2 Corinthians 1:20 gives a similar message from our promise keeping God,  For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”  Peter gives the usefulness of all God’s promises to us in 2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”   God has been and always will be a promise keeping faithful God. His promises provide us access to His divine nature and aid us in escaping the corruption of the sinful world we live in. 

GodkeepspromisesThank you God for being 100% faithful and keeping all your promises to us.  We can rely upon your nature and know you will do what you say in your Word forever.

Linda

Mary Praises Merciful God!!

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” Luke 1:50-55

mercy-savesYesterday I wrote about Mary’s praise for God’s preserving character, but today I want to focus on her praise for God’s mercy.  She knew God to be merciful, why?  She had seen Him show mercy on those who love and worship Him.  She had seen God’s mercy in her people’s history and in her own.

What does it mean that God is merciful?   God in His mercy does not give us what our sins deserve.  He limits the extent of pain.  He restrains evil and holds back sin.  He makes His gospel known in places where people have turned their backs on Him.  God seeks those who are lost, alone, hurting and in need.  He forgives and restores those who repent and turn to Him in faith.

grace-mercy

Mary knew that due to their sins in the past- worshiping other gods, idolatry, the people of Israel should have been abandoned by God in the desert, in Babylon, to their enemies, BUT God in His mercy saved them.  She knew that because of their rejection of Him- they should have been overpowered, taken captives and scattered throughout the world, BUT God in His mercy brought them back, kept them as one people returning them from Egypt and Babylon.  Mary knew that God is merciful to the individuals who love and revere Him- David as he fled from King Saul’s persecution, Daniel who survived the Lion’s Den, Joseph who survived being taken captive, imprisoned, wrongfully treated and then elevated to a high position so he could save his brothers, and herself.  She knew God was merciful to her by allowing her to be the mother of the coming Messiah, for choosing her, protecting and keeping her safe in a culture that would have rejected and mistreated her.   Her love for God and her thankfulness for His unending mercies shouts to us today.

How have you experienced God’s mercy?  Has He found you when you were lost spiritually, been with you when you were alone, or come to you when you were hurting from worldly circumstances?  Definitely if you know Jesus as your Savior, you have experienced the mercy of forgiveness and restoration, salvation and the hope it brings.  What mercy can you thank God for this Christmas season?   One of my favorite promises is Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet 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.”   I know and trust that God in His mercy will renew me each morning and give me a fresh new day.  God is merciful, loving and faithful to me.  Mary knew this, do you?

Thankful for God’s mercies to me,

Linda

Here is a quote I found that really spoke to me.  This truth gives me great reason to Praise Him along with Mary for His great Mercy.

the-mercy-of-god-will-always-be-greater-than-any-sin

 

Approaching God with Confidence

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have the ability to approach God.  The idea of approaching Almighty God has been fraught with fear and trembling down through the ages.  However, if we look at Genesis 2 and 3 we see that in the beginning man existed in the garden and had a relationship with God.  Adam and Eve did not fear God until they ate from the tree of knowledge, then they knew sin. Through the work of Jesus on the cross, we can now come near to God.  Jesus has made us clean and presents us to the Father.  I love the following verses:

Hebrews 4 16Ephesians 3:12 “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Hebrews 4:16 “ Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Some of the benefits of approaching God are given in these two verses:  freedom, confidence, mercy, grace and help in our time of need.   What a wonderful God we serve.  He knows that sin binds us and keeps us prisoners, slaves to our old sin nature.  Through Jesus we find freedom and the ability to come to God.  He also knows that without Him we lack confidence to confront the problems of our lives, the heartaches of living in a sin-filled world and are filled with self-doubt.  Through Jesus we can have confidence and assurance as we approach Him.   God knows that we need mercy and grace to fill our lives.  He possesses these in abundance.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Jesus reminded Paul about His grace. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  Lastly, God promises to help us in our time of need.  We can live with assurance that God will be there for us-no matter what, no matter when and no matter where.  In Deuteronomy 31:6  God proclaims: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”   He promises to be with us calming our fears all day and night.

I-am-never-far-from-youLinda

Suggestion: Identify a problem you need help with, it could be a need for mercy, grace, confidence or freedom in some area?  It could be for yourself or another.  Bring it to Jesus and lay it at His feet.  Pray in faith believing He has the answer then wait patiently for Him.

 

What are you thinking?

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have the mind of Christ.  In 1 Corinthians Paul is talking to the Corinthian believers about wisdom, and how we can know and discern the things of God.  The natural person does not accept the WE-have-the-mind-of-Christ-300x225things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 2:14-16  With our natural mind we can’t know the things of God but with the indwelling Holy Spirit we can understand God and know Him.  The spiritual person is not to be judged by the opinions of unbelievers who consider the things of God to be foolish.  We are only held accountable to God.  His standard of conduct is the only one we need consider.  We are assured that the indwelt believer has the mind of Christ.

So what does that mean to you?  As I pondered what having Christ’s mind might mean, James 3:17 came to mind, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere”.   Having the mind of Christ would mean we have access to godly wisdom as described by James.   We can have pure thoughts, a spirit of peace in our words, gentle presentation of our thoughts to others, reasonable thoughts not prone to wander or be self-serving,  thoughts filled with mercy,  thoughts that produce good things for ourselves and others, thoughts without bias and thoughts that are always sincere not being fake in any way.  I know that having the mind of Christ is a growing process and does not happen overnight.  As we draw near to God we are promised in James 4:8 that God will draw near to us. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,”  The closer we walk with Jesus the more we can think and act as He would.  A mind that is governed by Jesus would be glorifying to God and produce a vibrant and whole life for us.  Consider the words of James today as you go about your daily routine.  What part of the mind of Christ, the wisdom that comes from above, are you seeing in your life?

Linda

guidanceSuggestion:  Pray and ask God to give you thoughts from Christ’s mind today-pure, gentle, loving, filled with hope and mercy, without bias, and totally sincere.  See the difference it will make in how you feel and view others.

 

Adoption, A thing of beauty for my grateful heart.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been adopted as God’s child and belong to His family.   This is a precious truth from scripture that gives me great comfort.  Through my faith in Jesus,  I now have a forever family and God is my heavenly Father.  Romans 8:15-17 lays out our family heritage and what it means to us ABBAeternally.   For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”   We are adopted through our faith in Jesus into God’s family.  We can call God our Father.  His Holy Spirit indwells us and reminds us that we are God’s children.  By suffering with Christ, we are considered joint heirs with Him and will share in heavenly glory.  Through adoption we have access to our heavenly Father and can go to Him each day seeking knowledge, wisdom, comfort, mercy, compassion, hope…. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8

How will you use this truth in your life today?  You are God’s child and belong to His family thorough your faith in Jesus.  This blessed privilege brings hope, contentment, comfort, assurance and belonging into your life.

Linda

Read the scripture again in the Message and let it sink into your soul and cause you to praise and thank God. 15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Suggestion:  Call on your Father, God, today in prayer and thank Him for the privileges you have as His child.  He is accessible in prayer, has saved you for eternity, has a home waiting for you in heaven, will be with you each day- will never leave you nor forsake you, His Holy Spirit indwells and bears witness to your spirit that you are His, He gives you power for living and a purpose for your life…..Thank you Jesus for making this possible for me. Amen.

Mercy is ours. Thank you Jesus.

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, I have received mercy.  What mercy have I received?  By definition, mercy is kindness or compassionate treatment; relief from suffering.  Before I knew Jesus as my Savior, I was a condemned person.  Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all sinners before a holy God.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 6:23 tells us that sin has to be atoned or paid for and Jesus paid the price for my sin and treated me mercifully.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  I did nothing to deserve His act of mercy towards me.  Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  

1 Peter 1:9-10 explains this state of mercy I received because of Jesus in a beautiful way. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  How glorious it is to be the recipient of God’s mercy.  He treats me with His loving kindness and rescued me from eternal condemnation.  

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for giving and treating me with your eternal mercy and loving kindness. Open my eyes today to receive your marvelous light and treat others as you have treated me.  Amen.

Linda

popefrancis1Suggestion:  Try to grab hold of God’s mercy today in a new way.  Pray for an opportunity to do a random act of kindness or mercy towards someone.  That means look for ways to act with kindness/mercy when it would be unexpected,  like going out of your way to help someone without them even asking for help.  Be open to giving out mercy in God’s name today.

Are you Seeing blessings in your life? Take a look!

Being a blessed believer I’ve discovered has many layers.  I began weeks ago with a definition of what blessing is in man’s eyes: a gift of divine favor, good wishes or approval, anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune.  Then I looked at scripture to see what God calls blessedness.  All of God’s examples show divine favor towards us and His divine ways of having His blessings in our lives.   Which ones have you seen, are seeing or hope to see in your life?  When you do- you can count yourself blessed!

Blessed is the believer who:  walks in His ways.  Psalm 1                                                            *whose’s sins are forgiven.  Psalm 32:1-2                                                                                          *who takes refuge in Him.  Psalm 34:8                                                                                               *who trusts in the Lord.  Psalm 40:4                                                                                                   *who wisely listens, obeys and accepts the Father’s discipline and instruction  Psalm                      94:12                                                                                                                                            *who fears (reveres) the Lord and delights in His Commandments.   Psalm 112:1                 *who is blessed through his children (physical or spiritual).  Psalm 127:5                               *who fears God and walks in His ways.  Psalm 128:1-2                                                                 *who does what is right based in His righteousness. Isaiah 56:1-2                                             *who is deep rooted in Him, standing firm in all seasons of life.  Jeremiah 17:4                      *whose sins are forgiven, dependent upon God for His righteousness in Christ.  Romans              4:6-8                                                                                                                                               *who is steadfast, persevering and awaiting reward.  James 1:12                                               *who is humble, sorrows over his sin and dependent upon God for forgiveness, hungers             after God’s Word, merciful, has a clean heart before God,  is a peacemaker, is                        persecuted  for His sake.   Matthew 5:3-10

blessed gratefulWhat a list to take to heart and meditate uponIf you are not seeing some of the blessings God provides for believers, take that to heart, pray about it, search scripture and ask God what He would have you do so that you might partake in His divine blessings!

Linda

Which attitudes are you ‘Be-ing’?

blessed2The longest list of blessings for the blessed man/woman is in Matthew.  They are commonly known as the BeatitudesEach one points to a blessing from God that will come to the person who lives a life of faith.   Reflect as you read each one and ask yourself- which of these do I see evidences of in my life?  Remember that blessed means-a gift of divine favor, happiness or something that will prevent misfortune.   Matthew 5:3-10

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   (This refers to being humble- a blessed attitude,  not proud or arrogant)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (This mourning is over our sins, and we are comforted in our salvation and redemption by Jesus.  Mourning or sadness will also be comforted by God.) 

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Here again our meekness is before God, as in humility.)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (I know this one to be true in my own life.  Studying God’s Word creates a hunger within me that only He can satisfy.  I pray that others will be blessed with this same hunger and receive the satisfaction only God can give.)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (This is promised compassion or mercy when we give or act mercifully.  God’s Kingdom does not operate the same way the world does and in His kingdom showing compassion or mercy will be returned in kind.  This is a wonderful assurance to believers.)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Those who have clean hearts and attitudes will be able to see God, know God and walk with Him daily.  David prayed in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  God desires us to have an attitude of holiness, purity and cleanness in our hearts so we can see Him clearly.)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (This applies to all believers as through Christ we are adopted into God’s family and are His sons and daughters.  Through our redemption, we are made peacemakers as ones who love Jesus and desire others to have His peace too.)

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Because of our faith in Jesus, the world will persecute us.  John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  As believers we are encouraged by the conclusion of this verse-ours is the kingdom of heaven. Praise God!)

DBonfofferWhich resonated with you today?  Thank God for His gift of divine favor and presence in your life!

Linda