Restoration From Utter Darkness, Thank you Jesus!

November 16, 2022

Psalm 107:10-16 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

In this portion of the psalm the writer gives examples of different problems that were NOT beyond the control of Almighty God. The one who is suffering is portrayed in utter darkness, a prisoner in chains because of their own sin against God. This scenario is like the Israelites who refused to follow God and worship Him. After many years and many chances, God sent the Babylonians to take the Jews captive and remove them from their beloved land. They were deported to Babylon and remained there for 70 years. After that time, God arranged for their miraculous return to Jerusalem and they were able to rebuild the temple and the city walls. Never again did the Israelites forsake God and worship idols.

God knew what they needed to come to the realization that He was God and deserved all their praise, worship and thanks. They learned that God preserves and protects His own for their good and His glory. As the psalmist wrote in verse 14, He brought them out of darkness, broke their chains and restored them. Just as God has done in the past, He will do for you and me today. He restores our soul, lifts our spirit and redeems us from utter darkness. Where has God rescued you and broken the chains of sins that entangled you? Will you give Him thanks and praise? He is an awesome God and He loves you!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am free in Christ. Because of Christ and his work on the cross, I am no longer in bondage to sin and I am free from sin’s penalty, death. Here are some verses to ponder about your freedom in Christ: John 8:35-36 “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Galatians 5:1 speaks of our freedom from our old nature and its slavery to sin “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” What a glorious truth! I am free in Christ! Thank you Jesus!!

Linda

Resurrection Sunday, A True Eternal Blessing!

During our entire Lenten journey, we have pondered the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross and the actions Jesus wants us to ‘put on’ so we can shine His light and love on others.  Now we need to come to the realization that without the resurrection His death would have been meaningless,  and we would be still lost in sin!  In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Paul writes,”12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

Paul made this argument to clarify for the unbelievers and doubters that belief in the resurrection was essential to faith otherwise they would still have all their sins and be under penalty of death.  Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Belief in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His victorious resurrection were essential to the Corinthian believer’s faith and are for us as well.  Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness of sins and no victory over death! All of Christ’s suffering here on earth would have been for nothing. 

I know that God is sovereign, all powerful and omniscient and nothing is left to chance or done randomly.  Jesus prayed in John 17:3-4 just before His death, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”   We know God’s plans will be accomplished, His Word, Jesus would not return to Him void. Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   Job 42:2 also reminds us of this truth, ““I know that you can do all things,  and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Praise God His purpose was not thwarted and was accomplished completely by Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead.  Praise God, our Redeemer Lives!

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Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, Your faith is real, your sins are forgiven, you will spend eternity with Jesus, you are empowered and indwelt by His Holy Spirit!  Praise God!

Happy Easter!  Blessings because of our risen Redeemer, Christ Jesus.

Linda

Wholeness Through Jesus

Our scripture today speaks of the death on the cross that put our sins to death and made us alive in Christ. Before Peter concludes with Christ’s suffering in verse 18, he reminds us that in Christ we will suffer for good. 1 Peter 3:15-18

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to GodHe was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

We are to expect suffering but Peter tells us to cherish Christ in our hearts and always be prepared to tell others about Him. As we speak gently to others about Christ, we need to persevere even if other speak ill of us. His admonition is that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. We can console ourselves that Christ suffered, and He was without sin. He died for our sins so that we could be make righteous before God. In His death, he put to death sin and made us alive with the Holy Spirit within us. I love Romans 5:8 “ But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ knew I was a sinner and died for me anyway, so I could be reconciled to God. What an amazing Savior we have in Christ Jesus.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am purified and made righteous so that I can speak freely of His love and salvation! Thank you Jesus for loving me when I do not deserve it. Thank you Jesus for making me whole and purifying me so I can stand before God the Father covered in your righteousness. Thank you Jesus for you great love for me.

Linda

Healed and Forgiven in Jesus!

Our ‘put away’ scripture today comes from Hebrews 9:24-26. The author of Hebrews is writing to Jews explaining how Christ’s coming and His sacrifice was different from the continual sacrifices the priests made at the temple and the sacrifice made once a year for the sins of the people taken into the holy of holies. Christ’s was better and only had to happen once for all time as He was/is the perfect complete and all sufficient sacrifice to atone for our sins and appease God’s wrath. The author also mentions that Christ took his complete sacrifice to heaven itself not into the temple made by man. He took his sacrifice to God himself to make complete atonement for our sins.

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 

If Christ’s sacrifice had not been complete, once for all time, he would have had to have come and died over and over again. He did not! He came and died once and put to death all sin and took all sin upon himself. 1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Praise God! Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live covered by His righteousness and healed by His love. Thank you Jesus!

Linda

Advent…A Time of Reflective Praise

After being mute for 9 months because he questioned God’s ability to create a child through he and Elizabeth, Zechariah let’s his praises pour forth in a song of praise and prophecy about the Messiah to come and his own new born son. Luke 1:67-75 is today’s portion of this song. I have interrupted Zechariah’s song with verses from the Old and New Testament that speak of his prophecy being true.

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
Jesus came to redeem and save us. Romans 10:9-10 assures us of this. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
Jesus was repeatedly called the Son of David. The blind beggar called him Son of David and was healed, “They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” 42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” Luke 18:37-43

70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
Paul proclaimed Jesus was the long awaited Messiah in Acts 13:23 “And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel!

71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:9-10 how Jesus saves us “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.
Genesis 17:1-10 describes God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God reminds him repeatedly in Genesis 18:18, 22:18 and 26:4 that all nations will be blessed through him.

7We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
Jesus call us to serve and follow Him in John 12:26 “ Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”

75 in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16-17 how we are to live. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

May the prophesies of Zechariah’s song reassure you that God has a plan, God is sovereign and God desires good things for us through faith in Jesus. May you too raise your voice in praise for all God has done for you.

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

Holy Week, Monday-Where’s Jesus?

Bible Commentaries give two specific events that Jesus was involved in on Monday before His crucifixion of what is now known as Holy Week.  Jesus entered the city humbly and triumphantly on Sunday and then cleansed the temple area of money changers and withered a fig tree.  Both actions seem harsh, but they give a picture of the worldly opposition to God’s kingdom.  From both we get a glimpse of divine justice.  You can read the accounts in Matthew 21 and Mark 11.

Jerusalem at Passover was a bustling city with many thousands of pilgrims arriving to make offerings at the temple.  They needed to purchase animals for sacrifice and change money so they could pay the yearly temple tax.  The exchanges were all being conducted in the outer court of the Gentiles.  Here is Matthew’s account from 21:12-14.

12-14 Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer;
You have made it a hangout for thieves.

Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.  (Message)

Jesus was then, is now and will be in eternity the Righteous Judge.  He saw the true motives of the people desiring to make money exorbitantly and uprooted and cast them out literally.  He placed a priority on prayer and worship when coming to God’s house.  He got right to the work of His ministry, healing and allowing access to God for everyone.

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As we near the cross, take heart from this short snippet in Jesus’ last week. Know that He came to save and set right relationships and motives towards God.  What attitudes do you need adjusted by Jesus today?  Do you attend church to make ‘connections’ with people for business or do you come to pray and reflect on your walk with Jesus?  Looking at the heart is what Jesus did then and does now in our lives through the Holy Spirit.  Let Him cleanse your heart today and put you on the right pathway with right motives.  May our hearts be right with God today as suggested in this quote by Charles Wesley “Make My Heart a House of Prayer”.  

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, God is accessible to me through prayer and I can trust in His righteousness. I can claim the truths of Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Thank you Jesus for making yourself accessible through prayer, your unsurpassed peace for my heart, and for your redemptive sacrifice.

Linda

Second Sunday of Lent 2021=Assurances, Hope and Grace Revealed!

What a powerful week we’ve had this first full week of Lent. Here are the truths uncovered in the first Chapter 1 of Colossians in verses 5-14. What an abundance of assurances in hope, love, joy, grace, wisdom and care from our loving heavenly Father through the work of the Son. Meditate again on these nuggets of truth from God’s Word and treat them as true treasures that will embolden and strengthen you in Christ so you can walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

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

I have faith and love that gives me hope that is stored up in heaven for eternity. Colossians 1:5-6a “the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.”

I have a living and vibrant grace-filled faith to share with the world. Colossians 1:6b “Indeed, just as in the whole world the gospel is constantly bearing fruit and spreading [by God’s power], just as it has been doing among you ever since the day you first heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth [becoming thoroughly and deeply acquainted with it].”

I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others. Colossians 1:7-8 “just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

I can know and understand the things of God with spiritual wisdom which helps me to walk daily in a way that pleases Him. Colossians 1:9-10 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

I can receive benefits of faith that lead to greater knowledge of Him, strength, endurance, patience and joy! Colossians 1:11-12 “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you  to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” 

I am saved out of darkness and brought into the light of Christ fully redeemed and forgiven! 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.”

This Second Sunday of Lent, Let us Praise Him with Psalm 150.

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Linda

Wow! God did all this for me! Thank you.

Paul succinctly sums up what God did for us when He sent Jesus to die on the cross and be raised from the dead. 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.” God gave us a way to escape the darkness of sin and move into His kingdom of light. The light of Jesus is a light that overcomes, redeems and forgives. Praise God for His great mercy and love!

Here are some verses to add depth of understanding to Paul’s words to the Colossians- the light. John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” His light brings life not death and darkness. John 12:36 “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Saved out of darkness into His kingdom of lightJohn 3:17, 19, 21 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” 19 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

RedemptionRomans 3:23-24 describes this perfectly “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, I also love Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”

Forgiveness of Sins– these powerful words are remembered during communion as Jesus spoke in Matthew 26:28 “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Acts 13:38-39 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed  from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

May these words and phrases sink into your heart and soul today. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am saved out of darkness and brought into the light of Christ fully redeemed and forgiven! Praise God!

Linda

Be Thankful Someone Shared the Good News with You! Praise God!

How would you describe your church leaders, your pastors or priests? In Colossians 1:7-8 Paul described who was doing what in the Colossian church. “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.” Paul praised Epaphras for his faithful delivery of the gospel message and how he communicated their love for each other to him. From his prison cell, Paul was able to understand the work the Holy Spirit was doing among them through Epaphras’ genuine and faith-filled words.

What a wonderful example of God’s work among believers. Epaphras was a converted pagan who loved the Lord Jesus and wanted others to share in this love, forgiveness and salvation. He was serving in the cause of Christ as he told others of Jesus and showed them God’s love. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was at work there in Colossae. What about you and where you worship and serve? Is your service done there out of habit or are you serving so you can show Jesus to others? Is your service faithfully done or is it haphazardly executed as time allows? What should be our motivation for serving and telling others about Jesus? Several things come to my mind: so others can experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus, so others will have eternal life in heaven, so the quality of their life here on earth will be abundant and filled with hope and love that only God can give, so that others will come to know God in a greater way, so that others will glorify God in their faith and life. The good news of Christ is indeed good news and transforms the life of each one who embraces and believes. Shouldn’t we want to share this wonderful transforming news with others? Epaphras, Paul, James, Titus, Peter…. and the person who told you about Jesus all shared their love of Jesus. Each one of us comes to faith through the telling of Jesus’ story somehow. Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

As you meditate today on this passage, give praise and thanks for the ones who led you to faith, in my case it was a Sunday School teacher. Give praise and thanks for those who faithfully give out the Word of God each week at your church. By doing so they are helping you to grow and mature in your Christian faith. Epaphras did both of these for the church he planted in Colossae and Paul was eternally grateful for his work in the name of Jesus. Let us give thanks today for those who brought us to faith and those who endeavor to show us areas where we can grow more and more like Jesus as we seek to know Christ and walk with Him daily.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others.

Linda