Dry Bones Bring a Message of Hope!

And the journey continues…..into Ezekiel. Ezekiel is known as one of the major prophets due to the length of the book, 48 chapters. Ezekiel prophesied during a time of great upheaval and unrest in Israel. The northern kingdom had fallen to Assyrians and Judah was besieged by Babylon. Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C. to King Nebuchadnezzar’s army and many of the Jews were transported to Babylon where they lived in exile for 70 years. Ezekiel was among the Jews taken to Babylon and there he received his call from God as a prophet. He was from a priestly family and was able to serve as a prophet-priest during this time.

Chapter 37:1-14 tells of Ezekiel’s vision and conversations with Sovereign God that were to give hope to God’s exiled people. The vision and restoration of ‘dry bones’ has a message of hope for us today.

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” 10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!

God was giving the exiled Israelites hope of their coming restoration and return to their beloved homeland. God promised to accomplish the return through His Spirit and bring new life to them. Where are you in need of restoration today? Do you have insurmountable problems that need to be overcome? Do you have broken relationships or projects that seem too big even on your best days? Ezekiel knew that only God had the answer to their exile? Only God could restore them and make them a nation again. God assured Ezekiel that He would indeed bring them back and restore them.

Have faith today that God is greater than any problem you face and can indeed bring about restoration of your mind, heart, body and soul. He is Almighty God and nothing is beyond his ability to bring restoration and reconciliation. Walk in faith trusting Him for the answers.

Linda

Wow! God loves me THAT much!

And the journey continues….I am intimidated by the book of Romans yet, the more I’ve studied it, the more I’ve grown to love and understand it. I have 2 favorite chapters in this complex book that speak to my heart. Today I’m focusing on Romans Chapter 5 later in another blog, I’ll get to Chapter 8. Here are the first 5 verses and verse 8 from Romans Chapter 5.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 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…..but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

By chapter 5 Paul has reached a conclusion in his arguments as he uses the word therefore to begin this chapter. Because of what he has written before, he then concludes the following and what a conclusion it is! We are justified (declared not guilty of sin) by our faith in Jesus. We have peace of heart and soul because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Through faith in Jesus, we now have eternal hope and stand in a position of grace (unmerited favor) before God. Paul tells us that our character will change as we accept Jesus in our life! Knowing Christ brings a life of faith trials which Paul calls sufferings. The suffering we do for and with Christ produces character we could never achieve on our own. We will have endurance, hope and God’s love in our hearts. Even though we are sinners, we can be cleaned up and declared not guilty before God because of Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. Wow!

I also chose verse 8 because it shows how undeserving I am. As a sinner, I cannot find a way to God but through Christ. God knew my sinful state and loved me anyway. He loved me enough to send Jesus to died for me. That is amazing love!

Paul continues on in verses 9-11 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Paul also concludes that since God has declared us not guilty of sin through our faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, we are new in character and no longer enemies of God. God is holy and cannot abide sin so faith in Jesus saves us and brings us into a relationship with God, reconciled to Him. God desires a relationship with you and me. So He made a way through Jesus for this reconciliation to take place.

I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love, His sacrifice on my behalf and the character changing process He has begun in me through faith in Jesus the Son. Let these words of life, love and hope sink deep into your soul today and be encouraged because you are loved by God and your faith in Jesus can and will transform you! Praise God!

Linda

3rd Sunday of Lent, Jesus did it All!

This week again we have an amazing list of benefits for believers through faith in our risen Lord Jesus. As you mediate on these truths from God’s Word in His letter to the Colossians, let the revelation of who Christ is and what He accomplished on the cross sink into your mind. Let it produce in you a greater sense of gratitude and hope.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can know God the Father who is exactly represented by Jesus the Son and who is fully God, Creator and totally Sovereign over all creation. Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

I can rely on Sovereign Jesus to hold all things together for me in my life. Colossians 1:16b-17 “all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life. Colossians 1:18-20 “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled  everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

I am redeemed and reconciled to Almighty God so I have His hope-filled love for eternity. Colossians 1:21-22 “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

I can proclaim the Good News of love and redemption and hold onto a faith that is strong and unwavering through the power of Christ in me. Colossians 1:23 “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by His blood and a citizen of His heavenly kingdom through faith in Jesus . Colossians 1:24-27 “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”.

I pray these truths will lead you to fall deeper in love with God and lead you to praise! Here is our praise Psalm for this week:

Psalm 105:1-5 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
    Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;
    rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
    continually seek him.
Remember the wonders he has performed,
    his miracles, and the rulings he has given,

Have a blessed day and week to come,

Linda

Reconciled, Thank you Jesus!

In Colossians 1:18-20 Paul continues to make his case for the supremacy of Christ. Here it is in the New Living Translation:

Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth

    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Paul is wanting the Colossians to know and understand Jesus, who He is now, head of all believers, and what He did by rising from the dead. Jesus raised several people during his ministry like Lazarus and the widow’s son but their return to life was not permanent as they died later in their lives. Jesus’ resurrection was the first to conquer death permanently and be raised to new life. He also points to Jesus as the fullness of God. He possesses all of God’s attributes and powers. In verse 20, Paul tells us why God sent Jesus to die. Jesus came to reconcile us to God and mend the relationship that was broken in the garden by Adam and Eve’s sin that separated them from God. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He made peace between mankind and creation available. Thank you Jesus!

What does this mean for you and me? We can be connected and reconciled to God though faith in Jesus. He can and will bring us into a family relationship of love and acceptance that is filled with forgiveness of sin, hope and has the promise of eternal life with Him. I love Romans 8:15-17 “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”

May you know and feel God’s love and care today. May you know Him personally and feel His forgiveness in your life. Call on Him and He will answer. Romans 10:13 is a promise He always keeps. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can know Him and the peace of reconciliation in my life.

Linda

Love, Hope and a Redemptive Plan = Jesus our Savior!

I love the message of truth given in Ephesians 1:4-10.  I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Here it is in the Message translation for ease in understanding,

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving ephesians 1 7by the hand of his beloved Son.   7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

God had a long range plan to redeem us.  It was not a spur of the moment decision.   In Genesis 1:26, God decided to create man,  a thinking living being in His image, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”    After giving Adam and Eve the directive to not eat of the tree of good and evil, Eve bowed to temptation from Satan and ate giving some to Adam too.  God had anticipated this as He created man with free will and planned for a way to restore men and women into relation ship with Him.  Genesis 3:15 gives the first prophecy of Jesus coming to counter Satan’s dominion over the desires of man. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hersHe’ll wound your head,  you’ll wound his heel.”   Jesus would be born into this world and give hope to mankind through His sacrifice.  

John 3 17Why would God do this?  His motivation was and is  LOVE.  He loves His creation and desires to have a relationship with us.  John 3:16-18 says, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”     

Does this give you HOPE?    Hebrews 3:6 speaks of this hope we now have in Christ. “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”   I also love Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

romans 5 2The Word is filled with references to God’s plan of redemption and the restoration of His relationship with mankind from Genesis to Revelation.  The story of God’s love for us, His desire to bring us back to Him is why Jesus came.   All these things give me Hope and I pray  they do the same for you as you meditate on Jesus, God’s love and His desire to be in relationship with you.

Linda

Blessed Assurance- Salvation is #1

When we think about blessings and what it means to be blessed, one of the first things that comes into the mind of the believer is salvation.  Truly being spared the wrath of God in judgement and being able to live with Him forever in heaven is a BIG blessing.  ps32Scripture tell us exactly that in Psalm 32:1-2.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

We are spared from the wrath of God (God’s anger over sin) because Jesus came, died on the cross and rose again so that we could be reconciled to God. (Romans 5:10-12)   His blood provides the atonement for our sins as He covers us so that when God looks at the believer He sees Jesus’ atoning blood not our sin.   “God gave Christ as a sacrifice to pay for sins through the spilling of his blood. So God forgives the sins of those who have faith. God did all this to prove that he does what is right. He is a God of mercy.”  Romans 3:25    We are forgiven and God promises to not hold our sins against us.  I love these verses in Micah about God, His forgiveness and the fact that He casts my sins into the depths of the sea.  Praise God once confessed, our sins are gone forever!  Micah 7:8-10 

Lord, who is a God like you?
    You forgive sin.
You forgive your people
    when they do what is wrong.
micah 7 19You don’t stay angry forever.
    Instead, you take delight in showing
    your faithful love to them.
19 Once again you will show loving concern for us.
    You will completely wipe out
    the evil things we’ve done.
You will throw all our sins
    into the bottom of the sea.

How blessed am I?   Because of Jesus and His sacrifice, God forgives my sin and casts it into the depths of the sea.   Because of Jesus,  I can continue to walk with Him each day and have His light to shine for others.  1 John 1:6-7 puts it this way.  Suppose we say that we share life with God but still walk in the darkness. Then we are lying. We are not living out the truth. But suppose we walk in the light, just as he is in the light. Then we share life with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his Son, makes us pure from all sin.”   

alive blessedMay your day be filled with joy as you reflect on your treasured state of being- forgiven, all your sins are gone out of God’s sight forever, you are able to walk with Jesus in His light each day and saved for eternity.  Now there are eternal blessings we can count upon!

Linda

All we like sheep

This scripture passage was also included in Sunday’s Poignant Gratitude blog, but Handel’s Messiah has a separate chorus for this verse that is very beautiful. Let’s look at this today in the Amplified Translation.

Isaiah 53.6Isaiah 53:6  “All of us like sheep have gone astray,
We have turned, each one, to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]  To fall on Him [instead of us].

Believers or followers of Christ were often referred to by Jesus as ‘sheep’.  It was an image that the people of His time could relate to as most towns and villages had herds of sheep.  They were familiar with the idiosyncrasies of sheep and how much care they required.  They knew sheep were prone to wander and get lost if the shepherd did not guide, protect and lead them.  Jesus called himself the good shepherd and states His willingness to die for His sheep.  A good shepherd would want to protect his sheep from predators and would fight to defend them even if it caused his own death.  John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  In verse 14, Jesus tell about the sheep and how those who believe in Him will know Him.  “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”   In verses 27-28, Jesus assures us we will recognize Him, follow Him and be protected by Him.   “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  In Luke 15 Jesus gives the parable of the ‘lost sheep’ and how as the good shepherd he pursues any and all that are lost that they might know Him and be saved.

Not only is Jesus the good shepherd but in His death He took on the sins of the world so that mankind could be reconciled with God.  And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”  Colossians 1:21-22  He took all sins upon Himself and paid the price for sin which is death.  Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Jesus took the penalty for my sins and yours so that we might be freed from having to pay sin’s price, which is death.  Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

savedPrayer:   Lord Jesus, thank you for being my good shepherd and dying for me on the cross.  You took the punishment for my sins and gave me life, hope and freedom from the bondage of sin.  Thank you that through your blood I am covered and when God looks upon me He sees your righteous covering instead of my sin.  You promise that my sins are gone and buried in the depths of the sea and this gives me hope.  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”  Micah 7:19  Amen.

Blessings to you as you ponder the power of His reconciliation and the hope of His righteousness imparted to you.

Linda

A Purpose-filled Coming

lamb-of-God-535x360Part 2 of the Messiah begins with John 1:29.  “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  God sent Jesus into the world that Christmas night to save us from our sins.  When the angel had appeared to Joseph he said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-22.  God’s plan of redemption was to send Jesus to bring us to redemption and reconciliation with God.  1 John 1:5 “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”  Being sinless, he was the perfect sacrifice.  It did not have to be repeated againHebrews 10 10 and again like the Old Testament sacrifices, as His death paid for all sin.  Hebrews 10:9-10 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”   As Jesus said from the cross ‘it is finished’, His death was the ultimate and complete sacrifice and finished it.  His perfect sacrifice paid the price for our sins.  He came to earth and gave up His place in glory to establish a way for us to become righteous and reconciled to God.   I love Paul’s reasoning in Romans 6:8-10 where he tell us that through Christ’s death and resurrection we are raised to life and that sin has been paid for in full. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Praise Jesus today for His coming, His sacrifice on the cross and His victory over death  by which we are saved through faith in Him.  “for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13   This is a Promise we can trust and live by.

Linda

This is a moving presentation of the Chorus with visuals to point you to the meaning of the words.