4th Sunday of Lent, God’s Love and Grace

This week we have studied verses from Colossians 1:28-2:15. There have been some amazing truths revealed to us by Paul as he continues to make the case for Christ and His work on the cross. We can be empowered to live for Christ, filled by His Holy Spirt, and freed from the bondages of sin. I stand amazed at the depth of God’s love for us and Jesus’ willingness to suffer and die for me. I am truly blessed by His graciousness towards me. Here are the truth from this week to meditate upon and a Psalm of praise.

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

I can grow to be more and more like Jesus in character through the power of His Holy Spirit within me. Colossians 1:28-29 “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

I can claim treasures in Christ that will fill me with His confidence, wisdom and knowledge so I can be united to other believers by His love. Colossians 2:1-3 “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I can be rooted and grounded in Christ producing a life that is abundant and filled to overflowing with thanksgiving, hope and love. Colossians 2:4-8 “I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”

I am one with Him, totally forgiven and have His Holy Spirit dwelling with me. Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. 10 And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].”

I am spared God’s wrath as my sins are forgiven and I am freed from sin’s power in my life. Colossians 2:13-15 “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”

Psalm 36:5-9 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

Have a blessed week.

Linda

Your Roots, what do they cling to?

Paul continues to voice his concern for the Colossian Christians as he does not want them to be led astray by persuasive arguments of those in opposition to Christ. He wants them to know he is with them in spirit and desires they resist and stand firm in their faith. Colossians 2:4-8 “I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”

I love Paul’s straight forward way of talking about our need to be aware and on guard towards those that would seek to lead us astray into thoughts that are empty and meaningless. He zeros in on what we have in Christ in verse 7. Let your faith grow roots and have them firmly planted in Christ. Build your faith on Him, then it will be on a firm, resolute and unshakable foundation. This foundation is explained in Ephesians 2:19-22 “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 3:11 puts it very plainly, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”

Paul says the result of building our life on Christ and His truth is that our lives will then overflow with thankfulness. When we grasp the inheritance, love, forgiveness, and freedom that we have in Christ we will be eternally grateful. Paul wrote to young Timothy that coming to faith in Christ did exactly that for him. 1 Timothy 1:12-14 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Are you overflowing with grace and love because of your faith in Christ? Are you rooted and grounded in your faith? This is not something you get quickly but it grows over time as you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. The sanctification process of becoming more and more like Jesus begins at the moment of belief and continues growing throughout our life. It is truly a life changing process made possible only in Christ. Christ Alone is the reason for our change. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be rooted and grounded in Christ producing a life that is abundant and filled to overflowing with thanksgiving, hope and love. Choose Christ so you can stand steadfast and resolute as things change all around you and be overflowing with thankfulness.

Linda

Today’s blog is a milestone for me. By God’s grace I have written and posted 1,000 blog entries. It has been a growing process that has increased my faith and clarified my thinking about Christ. I can agree with Paul that standing on a firm foundation which is set in Christ Jesus fills my heart with overflowing gratitude and joy. Thank you Jesus for your love and sacrifice on my behalf!

Don’t be a victim of the winds, going to and fro!

In Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul expands on the truth from yesterday, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.   But what do we do if new ideas come along that seem to contradict what we know about God?   We are reminded in James to look out for doctrines that would sway us away from the truth of the gospel and lead us astray.  James compares our vacillating on truth to the effect of the wind, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:6   Likewise, Paul concludes in Ephesians 4:14-16 that being grounded and rooted in God’s Word will keep us stable and lead us to lives that contribute to the body of believers. 

ephesians 4 14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

If we desire to move towards maturity in Christ, we need to be grounded in the truth of the gospel, knowledgeable about what scripture teaches  for righteous living and willing to stand firm on God’s Word of truth.  Paul says that this grounding in truth will lead to fuller, richer lives that ephesians 4 16will build up the body of believers and help the whole body of Christ (the church) be stronger.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can mature into Christians that support and love one another.

What are you doing to grow in maturity?  Do you attend church regularly and mediate on what your pastor is preaching on?  Are you in a Bible Study group at your church or elsewhere?  Growing and maturing in Christ does not happen by chance but requires attention to the Word and study.  Be growing in Christ and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when He presents you with an opportunity for growth.

Linda

Here are two International Bible Study organizations that have classes throughout the world.  Check them out and see if they are near you.  Right now all classes are on-line due to the virus, but they are still going strong as our God is unstoppable.

Bible Study Fellowshiphttp://www.bsf.org

Community Bible Studyhttp://www.cbs.org

 

Promised Growth- are you seeing it? If not why not?

When Jesus came to earth, He fulfilled the plan of salvation and provided a way for us to be reconciled to the Father.  After His return to heaven, He promised a helper would come to empower us to take His message of salvation, forgiveness and love to all the ephesians 4 11world.  In Ephesians 4:11-13 Paul explains some of the resources the Holy Spirit gives to believers (His church) so that we might live fully equipped lives for Christ.  Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”   Not all believers are called to be pastors or teachers but all of us are called to be recipients of good godly teaching so that we may be equipped to do God’s work.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.

Where are you getting your good godly teaching? Is that teaching based on the Word of God or is it more a social, feel good type of message?  2 Timothy 3:16-17 promises 2 Timothy 3-17God’s Word is complete and sufficient for our training in right living.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

Ask God to guide you to a place of worship that stands on the Word of God and gives it out regularly.  You will be blessed.  

Linda

P.S  Due to the Corona Virus, this Sunday, March 22, 2020, my place of worship will be live streaming  the service. Tune in to YouTube:   wearecrossroads  at 10:15, the service begins at 10:30 AM PST     If you miss it live, that’s okay- it is still there for your viewing or reviewing thanks to YouTube.

For what and for whom are you praying?

ephesians 3 14 19The next section of Ephesians Chapter 3,  verses 14-21, is a prayer Paul wrote to them.  Today we are focusing on verses 14-19 and I have chosen the New Living Translation for ease in understanding.  His prayer is an excellent model of what to pray for fellow believers.  As you read, listen for Paul’s heartfelt desires for them and their relationship with God.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources with he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Paul makes it clear from the beginning that he is praying to the living God who created heaven and earth, remember they were surrounded by a very pagan society that worshiped man made idols.   Paul knows God is omnipotent and the source of a believer’s strength.  He wants them to grow and develop in faith.  He wants them to realize who God is and the power of His love for them.  Paul feels if they come to know the God of all power and love, they will have lives that are filled and transformed.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have the privilege and obligation to intercede on behalf of other believers.

What about you?  What do you pray for your fellow believers?  Do you pray for their growth and knowledge of God,  and that they will experience the fullness of His love? If you’ve never prayed like that- give it a try.  Choose a friend and pray for their growth in james 5 16faith, their knowledge of God to increase as they study His Word, their prayer life to expand, that they would experience and understand the depth of God’s love for them….. God desires that we lift one another up in prayer.  James 5:16b  ” The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  Seek to be a clean vessel through your own confession of sins,  then pray earnestly on behalf of other believers.  Remember Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

Linda

 

I AM…the Root of David, the bright and morning star

Revelation 22 16The names that Jesus calls himself are truly rooted in scripture, prophesies from the Old Testament.  Revelation 22:16  “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  Jesus calls himself the root and descendant of David.  We can look at Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 and see that Jesus is descended from David.  Luke 3 shows Jesus line going back to David and then onward to Abraham.  Isaiah mentions the coming Messiah in Isaiah 11:1-2.  “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,  and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,  the root of jesseSpirit of wisdom and understanding,  the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”    Jesse was David’s father, thus the stump of Jesse. Isaiah’s description of Jesus as one filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

Jesus also referred to himself as the bright and morning star.  I love this image of the star seen just before sunrise, a bright one that gives hope as we transition from night to day. rev 22 16Numbers 24:17  was part of a prophesy given by Baalem and refers to the coming of a future ‘star’ in Israel.I see him, but not here and now.  I perceive him, but far in the distant future.  A star will rise from Jacob;  a scepter will emerge from Israel.
It will crush the heads of Moab’s people,  cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.”  Knowing that Jesus can also trace his lineage back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and a scepter is a used by a king when ruling, Jesus confirms that it refers to him as He takes the name bright and morning star.

So what difference does all this make to you and me?  Jesus’ was the fulfillment of prophesies from ancient times, He was descended from King David and even Abraham, He was the bright hope for redemption, the coming of day and light to the Jews and all colossians 2 7people of the earth.  Are you rooted and grounded in Jesus?  Is He the stabilizing figure in your life giving you hope and a future?  Do you allow Jesus to shine in your life, and be your star?  Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us, Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”  Having Christ as our root establishes us in faith and allows us to walk with Him in confidence, full of life.  Peter gives us another image of Jesus as a star that rises in 2 peter 1 19our hearts as we trust in Him.  “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,  2 Peter 1:19

Let the Lord Jesus rise in your heart today.  Walk with Him hour by hour and let His light shine through you to a dark and hurting world.

Linda