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

Advent begins with Love

The story of the coming Messiah, who was to save his people, began in Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as God had forbidden. They were deceived by the serpent, Satan, and then cast out of the garden lest they eat of the tree of life and suffer in their sins for eternity. God cursed the serpent and proclaimed there would be enmity between the offspring of Satan and hers. Her child would crush Satan’s head and Satan would bruise his heel. This is the first prophecy of a coming redeemer who would defeat Satan. The Amplified translation gives us some good insights into who is who and what will be accomplished. “And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”

Why start Advent here? There needed to be a compelling reason for God to send His Son to earth to live among mortals and died. John 3:16 gives us God’s motivation for this sacrificially act. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Christmas story is all about God’s great love for us. His great desire is to restore the relationship He had with mankind before sin entered the world. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we are filled with a sinful nature and prone to wander, God loves us and desires to restore man unto himself. Christ came to accomplish this. He was the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

So as we begin our journey through Advent, we need to remember it is because God loved us and desired a relationship with us that He sent Jesus. What a loving God to fix our problem of sin through His own sacrifice.

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

Lenten Sunday #1

As you reflect today and prepare for another week, here are some truths we’ve uncovered so far in Ephesians.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be His saint and faithfully, walk in His grace and experiencing His peace. Ephesians 1:1-2

I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3

I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Ephesians 1:4-6, 7-10

I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.   Ephesians 1:13-14

Praise God for His grace and goodness today knowing you are loved and that God Almighty has a plan for you that is perfected in Christ and guaranteed by His Holy Spirit.

Psalm 103 1 5 BlessTheLordLet Psalm 103:1-5 be on your lips today!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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

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

 

The Blackest Friday = Profit for you and me!

black fridayI was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’.  It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’.  It began as a term to describe the crowds,  like the street was black with pedestrians.  It then became a day  to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased.   In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.  Luke 23:44-46   The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me.  His death on that darkest day brought the greatest profit for us.  John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen.  “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath.  Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they hurried to get Jesus down from the cross,  buried and settled in a borrowed tomb.  Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste.  After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday.  “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”  Mark 16:1  Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of risensin and death.  An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  What joyous news they had to share!

That blackest Friday brought death to Jesus and  burial brought the greatest profit to you and me.  Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it.  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,”    That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history.  Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be colossians 1 ;21in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven.   We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God and that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin.  That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.

As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him as you do.

Blessings,

Linda

Dipping into the Well of Salvation Brings Joy!

isaiah 12 4Isaiah 12 has 2 short songs of praise that lead us towards thanksgiving.  Let these songs of praise create joy and thanks over your salvation.

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be made known  in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
    for great in your  midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

 

Isaiah 12 3This psalm gives us a picture of our salvation.  God hates our sin but through the well of salvation in Jesus we are forgiven.  Being cleansed by the waters of salvation through faith in Jesus’ work on the cross,  God brings us into His comforting arms and His anger  over sin is turned away.  Having drunk deeply from the well of salvation we are compelled to shout and sing His praises with great joy!  Thank you Jesus.

May yours be a day of thanksgiving and praise to God as you meditate on His forgiveness, love and redemption in Christ.

Linda

I AM…the door of the sheep

John-10-9Many translations use the word gate instead of door, but the sheep pen used by shepherds was a rock enclosure with only 1 gate or door into the pen.  They would sleep at the door preventing anyone or thing from entering and harming their sheep.  This is a wonderful picture of Jesus as our protector or guardian of our safety.  One we are in his ‘pen’ no one or nothing can ever take us away from Him.

Jesus adds to this idea of guardian by saying He is the door.  John 10:7 -9 “So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”   When we accept Jesus into our life we have entered by the door- the only door to salvation.  Act 4:12 confirms this truth, “12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Many might say there are many ways to be saved, many doors or gates but Jesus is emphatic that He is the only true door to salvation.  He warns that others -thieves and robbers have or will come, but He admonishes us to not listen to their lies and depend upon Him for salvation.

Why choose Jesus?  His door leads to love, compassion, freedom from sin, an inheritance sealed with by the Holy Spirit, life eternal, …. the benefits are many for those that choose to enter into a relationship with Jesus.  He is the only one who can redeem us romans 5 9from our sin-filled state of being, Romans 5:8-9  “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”  Meditate upon His goodness and love for you today and His mercy in loving you even when you still in sin- He sent Jesus to redeem you!  Praise God! 

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