The Cross = a family plan filled with blessings in Christ

Chapter 3 of Ephesians begins with Paul telling us that he is a minister for Christ among the Gentiles,  and that he is charged with presenting the mystery of the gospel.  This mystery was not fully known or understood until Christ came bringing His message ephesians 3 6of redemption for all.  It was not completely exposed until the coming of the Holy Spirit which would indwell and empower believers to spread the gospel to all mankind.   Paul’s instruction about the mystery of God’s plan ends with Ephesians 3:6, “ And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”   

A few salient truths emerge in this verse:    God’s plan is open to  everyone, the message of being in God’s family through faith in Jesus is Good News!, as the family of God we are all in this together as His children (brothers and sisters in Christ), and we all can share in the blessing promised to us by Jesus (salvation, heavenly home, indwelling Holy Spirit, access to the Father, justification, sanctification, …..).   What a glorious list of truths that we can know and be assured of through our faith in Jesus.   Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  The mystery of God’s plans for redeeming mankind are yes in Christ!

Ephesians 1 3 ImBlessedLet these truths impact your life today as you speak with others and seek to serve them in the name of Christ.  Here is a great verse to remind us of the blessings we have in Christ from Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”  

Have a wonderful day!

Linda

P.S.  Please pray for the health and safety of the people of the world and that this crisis will turn many to Christ as their source of hope and life.

 

“Masterpieces” by God

ephesians 2 8I love today’s verses in Ephesians 2:8-10.   They bring renewed hope, purpose and clarification from God showing His great love, generosity, planning and sovereignty.  I particularly like the New Living Translation as it brings added clarity to the passage.      “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For ephesians 2 10we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

What hope we have because we believe in Jesus!  We are assured that we don’t have to try and ‘earn’ our way into heaven.  God promises us that there is nothing we can do now or in the future to earn our salvation.  It is purely a gift from our gracious God.  God loves us and we are important to Him.  We are His masterpieces.  He loves us and has prepared good works for us to do in His name.  There are many scriptures that confirm these facts:

John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”   His grace is perfectly complete, giving us all we need.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Salvation is a free gift, not earned.

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.   Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”   God specifically created each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”   God’s plans are complete and for my good, I can place my hope in them.

James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?   As a believer, genuine faith will cause me to seek to do good works for Jesus.

We can cling to these verses from our loving and gracious God knowing we are here with a purpose by His design.  We can trust His sovereignty in all things.   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Have a blessed day as you prayerfully considerGod’s grace towards you, His sovereignty over your life and the good works He has lovingly prepared for you.

Linda

The Reality of our former selves- covered in sin

In Chapter 2 Paul begins with a lengthy description of the sinful state of the Ephesians (and us too)  prior to becoming believers.  Before telling them of the riches they have through their faith in Christ,  he drives home the point- they were totally, irrefutably sinners.  It is important to realize the state where we began and by grace no longer belong!  Ephesians 2:1-3  “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and Ephesians-2-1-3 deadyour many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.”    

The truth of our sinful nature is all throughout scripture.   Romans 3:23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Psalm 51:4 “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;    I have done what is evil in your sight.  You will be proved right in what you say,  and your judgment against me is just.”   

Jeremiah 30:15 “Why do you protest your punishment— this wound that has no cure? I have had to punish you  because your sins are many  and your guilt is great.” 

John 8 24 you will die in your sinsJohn 8:24 “That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”

These are just a few verses that confirm the sinful state of man without God’s intervention.  But for the grace of God…. I would still be there.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am no longer a slave to sin and will not suffer God’s wrath.  

Today as you consider your former self, prior to faith in Jesus, give thanks for His grace in saving you.  We are still subject to sin’s influence from within our selves and from the world’s ways around us,  but through Christ we have the power to reject sin and walk with Him.  Praise God!

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

 

Total Hope, where do you find it?

These first few weeks of 2020 I have been looking into HOPE as it is my chosen word for the year.  I saw survival hope in Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”, Hope in God’s Word, Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield;  I hope in your word.”,  Hope in God’s steadfast Love, Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,”, Hope in the future, Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” and daily Hope for living, Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  

Today’s verse helps me to see that God is my Total HopePsalm 62:5-7                            psalm 62 5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”     

I love the truth of these words written by the psalmist David so long ago.  They are truths confirmed throughout scripture.  My hope comes from God aloneHe is the one who stands by me and holds me in times of distress and trouble  Psalm 107:13 “they cried to the Lord in their trouble,   and he delivered them from their distress.”   God is so strong and mighty, so sure and complete that He cannot be shaken, Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.    He gave me salvation through faith in Jesus, Acts 4:12 “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.”.   God alone is working in my life to mold and shape me into the person He desires me to be and shares His glorious attributes with me,  Romans 5:3-5 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”   He is the holder of my salvation and sent the Holy Spirit as my guarantee, 2 Corinthians 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Do these truths about God alone give you Hope for surviving, loving, learning and leaning on the truth of His Word, for looking into the future and for daily living?  God is my total Hope and that Hope is in Him alone.  He is and has all the hope I need.  in christ alone“Thank you Jesus for bringing God’s Hope to me.”  

May you grab hold of His Hope today and be uplifted and strengthened.

Linda

Promise fulfilled! Simeon sees His Lord, Jesus the Christ

fulfilled in ChristJesus said, “ Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44  Jesus came and lived the perfectly sinless life which meant that He made all the right sacrifices at holy days, was circumcised, and followed all the Jewish customs and laws.  In addition, all that was prophesied about Him, all the work He came to accomplish was Yes in Christ.  Today’s story continues in Luke 2:21-25 “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”   These actions are what we would expect from Mary and Joseph as they would want to observe all the right customs that were required by the Law of Moses with their new child.

God is faithfulLuke 2:25-37 tells us what happened when they came to the temple to present Jesus to the Lord.   As you read, consider our Faithful GodGod knows and loves each  of His own. He will do all He has promised: caring for us, making us strong, forgiving, making us new, protecting and purifying us.  From the beginning God had a plan to restore the world, break the power of sin and reveal His plan to us. We know God is faithful because He sent His Son  to the cross to keep His promise.  He is faithful to himself and His Word.  We can trust Him to keep all His promises.   Here is what happened when they got to the temple:

SimeonNow there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

How gracious and faithful God was to keep His promise to Simeon that he would not die until He had seen his Savior.  God also confirmed from the beginning that Jesus came to be a light to all- Jew and Gentile.  He also revealed that Jesus would be rejected and it would hurt both Jesus and Mary to the very core of their being.

We-Enjoyed-The-BlessingHow do you see Faithful God work in your own life?  Do you see His caring for you in life’s circumstances, building you up and making you stronger in faith through the trials you face each day, forgiving your sins,  protecting you in body and soul and cleansing you when you confess your sins?   Look today for the faithful hand of God in your life.   You will be amazed and blessed!

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

Seeing God’s response to me, brings thankfulness!

A-Thankful-HeartPsalm 28 is a thankful response from David for God’s deliverance.  I want to focus on the verses 6-9.   What was David thankful for in these verses that we know to be absolutely true of God?

Praise the Lord!                                                       
For he has heard my cry for mercy.                 God is accessible, He hears our prayers.
The Lord is my strength and shield.                   God is our protector.
I trust him with all my heart.                                  God is trustworthy.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.                    God gives us joy.

The Lord gives his people strength.                     God gives us strength to meet the day.
    He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
Save your people!                                                    God saves those who believe in Him.
Bless Israel, your special possession.                 God blesses.
Lead them like a shepherd,                                     God is our good shepherd.
    and carry them in your arms forever.               God is eternal and saves us for                                                                                                                        eternity with Him.

attributes of GodFor which of these attributes are you most thankful today?  I had a friend tell me yesterday that when times are hard she focuses on her joy in the Lord.  What about you?  As you go through today, meditate on God’s goodness and blessings towards you, then take time to thank Him.

Blessings,

Linda

Are you up to it? A month of Thanks and Praise- join me each day…

give_thanks-As we enter the month of November that has our National Day of Thanksgiving, let us give thanks this whole month long for the things, people, places, hopes and dreams we have within our lives.  God is good and worthy of all our praises!  Isaiah gives us a song of praise in Isaiah chapter 12.  As I look at various verses of thanksgiving this month, this chapter is the key of what our hearts’ attitude must be before Almighty God.

The Lord Is My Strength and My Song

12 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. 

I am a sinner and did not deserve God’s mercy but Romans 5:8 reminds us of God’s love “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”    With joy in my heart, I can draw on His mercies from the ‘well of salvation’ and know His forgiveness.  Because of faith in Christ and His death and resurrection, I can know the salvation of the Lord and praise His great name.    Isaiah explains when you know the ‘well of salvation’ you can:   And you will say in that day:

isaiah 12 4“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.”

Are you ready to give thanks, to shout and proclaim His wondrous deeds?   Do you want to let all the world know He is holy God, the only true God?  All our joy and thanksgiving comes from God because of what He has done for us.  Let us give thanks and worthy of praiselet us utter songs of joy and praise to Him all month long.  Let the spirit of thanksgiving towards God permeate your very being, dip into that well of salvation, and live out praise and thanksgiving towards God and all the people you meet.

I am looking forward to blogging each day this month with an eye and heart towards thanksgiving.

Linda