A Hidden Gem Brings Hope and Assurance

Today’s ‘put on’ scripture is a bit of a surprise. When I read it I could not remember seeing this promise from God about the Holy Spirit here in 2 Corinthians. It is a gem, a hidden treasure to encourage and enlighten you and me!

2 Corinthians 1:20-25 is an infusion of hope and courage from the Apostle Paul.  For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

His first affirmation is that every promise is fulfilled, completed, and made right in Christ. What a blessing to know that everything God has planned will be completed by Christ in His time and in His way. We do not have to doubt. 1 Kings 8:56 puts it this way, “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” God keeps His promises. Amen means ‘so be it’. That is another affirmation that God’s will is to be completed just as He said.

Paul continues to reassure us that God makes us able to stand firm in our faith in Christ. David stood firmly rooted in the Lord and said, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” in Psalm 19:14. May David’s words and conviction be ours as we stand firmly for Christ. Paul also reminds us that we are anointed by Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit. The seal He puts upon us shows He owns our hearts, we belong to Him and His Spirit living within is just a heavenly deposit to remind and empower us to live for the Lord. His Holy Spirt is our guarantee that all is Yes in Christ and we have an eternity settled with Him.

May these verse help you to ‘put on’ His love, claim His promises and step out in Spirit led faith today!

Linda

Paul, “It was Worth it!” Agree?

The Apostle Paul uses put in a new context in today’s passage. 1 Corinthian 9:12 comes in the midst of a passage where Paul is reasoning that missionaries deserve to be paid or supported for their work. Just as Jewish priests were given food and clothing, so those that serve Christ preaching and teaching deserve to be cared for.

 “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

Paul is saying that they may have the right to support, but they did not insist upon it. They suffered and put up with less so that the gospel of Christ would go forward. He was not bragging, but simply stating the fact that he was compelled to preach the gospel. In verse 16 Paul says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. ” His motivation was pure, without complications, as He presented the gospel so that others might know Christ and be redeemed.

What is your motivation for telling others about Christ? Paul was so driven to tell others he could not, not tell them. His desire was for them to know Christ, to be freed from the bondage of sin, to have the eternal assurance of salvation and to have hope for living each day. This was what drove him to tell as many as he could, regardless of the danger or hardships to himself. Do you want others to be free in Christ? Do you want to see them in eternity worshipping and rejoicing with Jesus?

Consider this, Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am compelled to speak of the love of Jesus, to speak of His redeeming power and to speak of the assurance I have of spending eternity with Him. Think about this in the context of John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Are you compelled to speak out for Jesus because of your love for Jesus and for those who need to know Him? Are you willing like Paul, to put up with anything so that others can know Him? As Christians we need to be willing to put up with the world’s attitude and rejection, so that someone may come to know Jesus as their Savior. As Paul reasoned, “it is worth it.”

Linda

Holy Week, Friday, Where’s Jesus?

After His arrest Thursday night, Jesus endured 4 trials.  He went before the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, then Pilate who sent him to Herod, the Jewish head of state, then back to Pilate.  The Jews wanted Jesus killed but they did not have the authority to execute Him.  They demanded that Pilate, the Roman authority in Palestine, crucify Him.  Pilate had Jesus flogged and beaten even though Pilate knew Jesus to be innocent.  He had hoped this cruel treatment would pacify the Jews.  However, the crowds pressed him and requested the release of the criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus since it was the custom to release one convicted person as a token of goodwill at the Jewish Passover.  The crowds demanded that Jesus be crucified and Pilate agreed to appease the angry and vocal Jewish crowds.   Jesus was then made to carry His own cross to the place of execution, Golgotha.  Along the way Jesus stumbled and Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to carry the cross.  Jesus was then nailed to a cross and hung to die.  His clothes were stripped from Him and as He hung naked on the cross then soldiers gambled for his clothing underneath the cross.

I can not imagine the pain, anguish, humiliation and shame Jesus endured on my behalf. He took all the sins of the world, yours and mine, upon His pure, sinless and innocent body and the sin took him to a place he had never been before.  The sins He took upon himself, our sins, separated him from God, His holy Father.  He did this so that His sacrifice could atone for our sins.  1 Peter 2:24 explains what Jesus accomplished for you and me.

24 He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.  (NLT)

I never realized how sweet Jesus’ final words from the cross were until recently.  “‘It is finished.’ With that, he lowered his head and gave up his spirit.”  John 19:30   He declared with His final breath that the work of redemption was complete, and He had accomplished what the Father had sent Him to do. Through His death He took the punishment, death, for the sins of all who would believe for all eternity with His blood.  Having accomplished His work, He gave up His spirit.  His life was not taken from Him, but He gave it up voluntarily at the time of His choosing.  Only God can choose the time of His death.  When we speak of someone dying, we say the person has life take from them.  We don’t get to chose the hour or minute of our last breath, but Jesus chose when and where He was to die for you and me.  I am staggered by His love and sacrifice that He would endure such punishment and isolation from God on my behalf.  As you ponder the cross today, think of all Jesus gave up and all He did on your behalf.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I live redeemed from the penalty of sin, covered by His incredible sacrifice and will be able to stand before God sinless.

Prayer:  Father, the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice and your love in sending Him to die for my sin is incomprehensible.  ‘Your ways and not my ways’ Isaiah reminds us in Isaiah 55:8.  I am so thankful for your plan of redemption and stand humbly before you because of Jesus, my Savior.  Praising you in Jesus name, Amen.              

Linda

Thankfulness Day 16: 7 Amazing Reasons for Faith

Have you ever thought about faith and considered, what’s in it for me? Why should I believe and try to follow God’s pathway for my life? Today’s verses put this into perspective and really lead straight towards greater thankfulness.

Psalm 91:14-16 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

These verses are filled with 7 amazing promises from God. When He say, “I will” He means it, as He is sovereign and all things are within and under His control. He promises those who love and believe in Him that He will be: 1- ready to rescue, 2- protect, 3- answer when called, 4- always with you especially in times of trouble, 5- will honor you, and 6- reward you with eternal life and 7- save you from the punishment for your sins. What an overwhelming list of provisions from God are yours, all because you love and believe in Him. The reasons for belief and love for God show us His merciful, compassionate, loving character towards each and every believer. We are truly blessed by our Heavenly Father.

As you consider the psalmists words today, remember a time when God heard your prayers, rescued you from danger, allowed you to receive honor for something done for Him, how He was with you in a time of great trouble, and your response to His call upon your life as you began your eternal life with Him. These things will surely cause you to praise God with a heart and spirit filled with thankfulness.

Linda

Bringing us near = cross of Christ

In Ephesians 2:11-12 Paul summarizes the state of the world.  Basically there were two groups of people.  1- the believers in the one true God called Jews and 2-  those who did not believe in the one true God called Gentiles.  People could become Jewish by faith and the Old Testament is filled with them.  These were people who aligned themselves with the people of God.  There were even several in Christ’s lineage- Rahab, the prostitute, whose story is found in Joshua 2.  She aligned herself with the people of God as she had heard how God had led the people victoriously out of Egypt and even parted the Red Sea.  She was transformed by her faith in God, and later became the wife of Salmon.   Ruth, the Moabitis  whose story is in the book of Ruth aligned herself with the people of God when she decided to honor her mother-in-law’s God and follow her back to Israel after the death of her husband and father-in-law.   She later married Boaz, who became her kinsmen redeemer.   The Jews followed God’s laws, and had a covenant with God which required them to be circumcised.  Those men who aligned themselves with God’s people had to be circumcised also. After Christ came and died, the only thing required of believers is repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection.  Through In-Christ-Alonefaith in Christ alone is someone saved1 John 1:9 puts it this way, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  No longer was the outward sign of circumcision needed to prove belief in the one true God.

Paul concludes this discussion of Jews and Gentiles in Ephesians 2:13 as he reminds these new believers in Ephesus of their wonderful present position in Christ.   “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.”    Because Jesus ephesians 2 13died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ.   This is good news!  We are no longer separated from God by sin,  but can be united with Him.  This really is the heart of the gospel that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are brought into relationship with Him.  We are covered by the blood of His sacrifice and our sins are washed away.  We are not far away anymore but brought near to Christ.  Hebrews 10:10 “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”  His sacrifice was big enough, great enough and pure enough to cover all our sins.  Amazing!

How will you use this good news today?  Will you draw near to God and thank Him for sending Jesus to redeem you?  God loves a heart filled with gratitude and praise.  Thank you Jesus for all you have done and are doing in my life.

Linda

 

Beloved,adopted and free in Christ!

Do you think God’s plan for redemption was sudden or made up on the spur of the moment when Adam sinned?   God in his omnipotent wisdom knew we were frail creatures and when we sinned there needed to be a plan to bring us back into communion with Him.  Ephesians  1:4-6, from the Message translation makes this passage easy to understand, “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 by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Can you imagine that God had us in mind, wanted us to be in His family and to show His love to us even before He created the universe?  I love that Paul says, God took pleasure in planning this.  How much He loves us!  Paul continues in verses 7-10 to explain God’s wonderful plan to redeem us and make us free.  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 Ephesians-1-7_webfree, 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.”

These verses are so encouraging.  God loves us past, present and future.  God wants us to be free and His plan is fulfilled for us in Christ.  Faith in Jesus is the key.

May you be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope you now have in Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have all of this through faith in Him.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

I AM … Your Savior

I amGod refers to himself in the Old Testament as Your Savior in Isaiah 49:26 and 60:16.  In both cases His name is linked to prophesy in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem when the Babylonians came and destroyed it and took the people off to Babylon.  The city was held under siege and the people suffered greatly, at one point even resorting to cannibalism.  Isaiah’s words were to be ones of encouragement that God will be evident in the dealings of His people.   Isaiah 49:26

“I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh,
    and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.
Then all flesh shall know
    that I am the Lord your Savior,
    and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”    Again in Isaiah 60:16

“You shall suck the milk of nations;
    you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
    and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

I am your godThe people of Israel were to know that in both hard and good times God will be with them, He will be their Savior, Redeemer and Mighty One.   We can be encouraged like they were that God alone is God, He is our Redeemer and has plans for our redemption through Christ His Son, and He alone is the Mighty One from generation to generation.  The prophet pointed out specifically that God is your Savior and your Redeemer.  He is a personal God who loves each one of us and wants to have a relationship with us.  He desires that we accept His Son as Savior and open our hearts to His redemptive plan.

Here are a few verses to mediate upon today as you consider your Savior and Redeemer.  1 Corinthians 1:30 “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”  and 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 Jesus be your Savior and Redeemer today bringing you hope and assurance of salvation!

Linda

Redeemer, I’m so thankful God that You sent Jesus.

Do you know God as your Redeemer?  In the Old Testament God refers to himself as Redeemer in Isaiah 44:24 “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,  who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things,  who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,”   Because God is creator of all things, only He has the power to redeem, buy back or save His creation.   If you know God as your Savior and Redeemer you are in the know just like Job, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zachariah and Paul who referred to God as their Redeemer.  Read their powerful words and claim them for yourself today.

i-know-my-redeemer-livesJob 19:25-26 “For I know that my Redeemer lives,      
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,”      Job knew the eternal God as his Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight, Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”     David knew God was his Redeemer and desired to be humble before Him.

Isaiah 47:4 “Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.”    Isaiah knew God as his Redeemer and revered His name.

Luke 1:68 ““Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.”    Zachariah prophesied the coming of Jesus as our Redeemer.

Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”   Paul knew that Jesus’ death on the cross redeemed us from the curse of sin.

What about you?  Can you say that God is your Redeemer?   We like to save money by using coupons as we shop.  They help us to redeem more money than we deserve.  Jesus did that for us by paying the full price for sin on the cross.  We are able to be redeemed as we put our trust and faith in Him knowing He is always faithful to carry out His work ephesians 3 20within us.  This is my prayer for you today from Ephesians 3:17-20 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”   Amen.

 

Linda

Is God your Rock?

God is my rockDavid was well aware of God as his Rock.  In Psalm 18:1-3 he uses this image of God when proclaiming his thanks for God’s strength in protecting him from murderous Saul.  David struggled with Saul chasing him and seeking to kill him for over 10 years.  David trusted God and His plan and timing to make him king.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.

Since David struggled for so many years against the elements as a shepherd, a boy facing Goliath, as a fugitive and as a king with many battles to face, the Psalms are filled with his reliance upon God as his rock and source of his faith.

psalm 19 14Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 62:1-2 “Truly my soul finds rest in God;  my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;  he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 71:1-3 “In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.”

David proclaims God as his Rock as well as fortress, deliverer, refuge, stronghold, salvation, redeemer and righteous God.  David knew from experience that God was faithful, and he could depend upon Him.  Can you proclaim who God is to you?  Let David’s words seep into you thoughts today and give you confidence and strength in God.  Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” and James 1:17 “ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ”   The God who David trusted and loved is the same God we serve.  He does not change from generation to generation and we can depend upon Him just like David.

god rock refugePrayer:  Thank you Father that you are the same yesterday, today and forever.  Your character and ideals do not change or shift with the times and whims of man.  You are my rock and can hold me steady as I face the storms in my life.  You are to be praised for you are always faithful and seek to do and bring good into my life.  Help me to be depend upon your strength and character so I may live fully for you.  Amen.

Linda

Is God your Shepherd?

good shepherdDavid saw God as His shepherd and wrote about him in Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.          The shepherd provides.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.       The shepherd guides
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.                                          The shepherd restores.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;                                      The shepherd protects and comforts.
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me              The shepherd knows the future and
in the presence of my enemies;                                prepares for me.
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me        The shepherd is with me eternally.
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

Do you regard the Lord God as your shepherd?  The shepherd was the one who tended, cared, protected, defended and loved his sheep.  God is described as the shepherd of the nation of Israel in Isaiah 40: 10-11 “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,….He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;  he gently leads those that have young.”  Jesus described himself as the good shepherd in John 10:11 “ “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Then in John 10:14-16 “ “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. (Here Jesus was referring to those who were not Jews, the Gentiles.) I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”   Jesus is the perfect image of the good shepherd.  The sheep listen to Him, know Him and He sacrifices Himself for this beloved sheep.  What a beautiful pictures of our loving God.

good shepherd 1Today as you reflect upon God, consider the 23rd Psalm and Jesus’ words in John.  Know that you are loved and cared for by your loving heavenly Father and that your good shepherd, Jesus, will guide, protect, defend, hear, and love you. 

Linda