But God…Always has the Best Plan!

This next portion of Colossians 1:24-27 was a bit puzzling as I read it and reread it. So I looked it up in the New Living and found it much more understandable. I hope it helps you to see the truths Paul is trying to convey to us. “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Paul is rejoicing over his own suffering as he feels it connects and draws him closer to Jesus because he realizes that suffering both by him and his Savior was for the benefit and growth of the church. Christ desired the church to grow winning both Jews and Gentiles into the kingdom. This revelation that the kingdom of God is for all who believe in Jesus was a deep mystery. The fact that redemption was possible and available was also a mystery only God could have provided. The realization that God wanted all believers to share in His glory and to have Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit was a new revelation to all mankind. All of these mysteries- indwelling of the Holy Spirit, redemption for all and an open kingdom for every believer in Jesus the Son and His work on the cross were amazing and hard for these new believers to grasp. (Truthfully, it is hard for us today to believe and grab hold of these mysteries revealed by our loving and merciful God.)

The whole of scripture speaks of these mysteries made available by God for the reconciliation of man. When you think about it logically with realism it seems impossible. But God,…. He intended us to be His and have His Spirit within us to mark us as belonging to Him. Romans 8:9 “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” But God, … redeemed us through Jesus the Son. Romans 3:24 “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” But God,…wanted us in His kingdom by the work of Jesus on the cross. Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

May you marvel at the mysteries revealed through the Son and praise God Almighty for His wonderful plan for you and me. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by His blood and a citizen of His heavenly kingdom through faith in Jesus . Thank you precious Savior for your sacrificial love and the revelation of these deep mysteries provided for me.

Linda

What Heart Attitudes does God desire?

As we look towards Lent beginning in a few days, I need to ask myself what does God desire of my heart? In my heart search in Psalms I found new facets and attitudes of our hearts showing what God desires.  He desires that we have a bold, teachable, repentant and seeking heart in our interactions and responses towards Him.

God desires that we take a ‘No Fear’ stance in life that depends upon God and not ourselvesPsalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news;  their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Be bold for Him.

God desires that we are open to teaching and examination of our motives.  Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”  Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart;  test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Be teachable by Him.

God desires a repentant heart, one that is sorrowing over sin, the Bible also describes this as a contrite heart.  Psalm 51:17  “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”   Isaiah also speaks of our need to have a contrite heart in Isaiah 57:15 ”  The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,  the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble  and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.”       God desires us to be repentant so He can restore and dwell with us.  We have to come humbly before Him.   Since living with Him is not just when we die, we need to deal with the sin in our lives.  God living with us is being indwelt by His Holy Spirit begins when Jesus enters our hearts and lives.  Jesus gives cleansing from sin when we come before Him with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness and restoration. Be repentant or contrite towards our sin.

God desires that I have a seeking heart towards HimPsalm 119:10 “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.”  Psalm 22:26 “The afflicted (meek) shall eat and be satisfied;  those who seek him shall praise the Lord!   May your hearts live forever!”  Be a seeker of Him.

What is the temperament of your heart today?  Are you trusting, open to teaching, repentant and seeking restoration?  Would God describe your heart as contrite?  Do you sorrow over your sins and desire to walk with Jesus each day?   The opposite of each of the above would be one who is fearful, close-minded, rejecting, proud and arrogant over their sins.  I pray that none of those describe your heart and that you seek to please God.  Micah describes it this way:  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.   And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy    and to walk humbly with your God
.  Micah 6:8

 May this be the attitude of our hearts as we walk with Him today.

Linda

Advent Shows God’s Great Mercy towards us!

Zechariah ends his Song in Luke 1:76-79. Here he tells about his newly born son and the privileged place God he holds in God’s plan of redemption for all mankind. Let the beauty of his words minister to you today.

“And you, my little son,
    will be called the prophet of the Most High,
    because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
    through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Zechariah refers to John as the prophet of the Most High and Jesus will be called the Son of the Most High. This name was revealed to Mary by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:32 “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” John had a specific job to do as he was to tell the people how to find forgiveness for their sins in this coming Messiah. He was to prepare the hearts and minds of the people for Jesus and His message of salvation. They were about to experience a time of great light from God and needed to be ready. Jesus would bring light into the darkness of the world. “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 He also gives the reason for the arrival of Jesus, because of God’s tender mercy. God showed compassion, mercy and great love towards us in sending Jesus to redeem and restore us to relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” and John 3:16 ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Praise God for His mercy, love and compassion towards us in sending Jesus.

This section of scripture ends with how John grew up. 80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Since Zechariah and Elizabeth were old when John was born, perhaps they died before his ministry began as he had moved to the Judean desert and was living there instead of being in the hill country of Nazareth where he was born. This verse confirms the prophesy about John and his way of life and mission given in Luke 1:15-16 “for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.

I think one of the things I like most about Zechariah’s Song is the pure joy and hope that he gives all of us through the coming of Jesus. We can have light. We can experience redemption. We can see God’s hand move in our midst through the power of Jesus. Praise God for His coming!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 7: God’s grace and mercy

It could be said that attitude and actions are an essential part of our walk of faith. Our attitude and actions towards God and our fellow man show the true nature of our faith. In today’s verses, Jonah has had a readjustment of his attitude towards God and it has changed his future course in life.

Jonah realized placing his faith in worthless things, including his own pursuits and desires, was futile. The only hope he had was in the Lord who always brings salvation. He was now willing to shout and proclaim with a thankful voice that God is the Lord. What about you? Are you like Jonah experiencing an attitude adjustment caused by circumstances of your own making? Are you running from God or trying to put up barriers to protect yourself? Jonah turned back to God with thankful heart.

God told Jonah to go to pagan Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. Jonah did not want to go so he decided to run. He caught a ship leaving port and got onboard. They were stuck by a terrible storm and Jonah revealed to the crew he was running away from God and told them to toss him overboard. In the depths to the sea, he was swallowed by a big fish. After 3 days in the belly of the big fish, he prayed to God with a repentant heart. The circumstances reshaped his thinking and attitudes and lead him to pray as he realized it was wrong to run and to not do what the God he believed in asked him to do. His willful attitude was changed. Jonah 2:8-9 “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

God showed his grace and mercy to Jonah by saving him. He deserved to be lost at sea, BUT GOD saved him. Do you see God’s grace in your life today? Jonah responded with thanksgiving and praise. Will you praise Him with a thankful heart today for how God has rescued you? Take heart from Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” and Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

Blank white paper mock up on white wood background – filter effect

Thank you Jesus for saving me and changing the course of my life. Will you join me in thanksgiving and praise for God changing the course of your life?

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

 

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.