Got a Word, Now look for the Why!

When choosing a Word to guide or focus your year, you need to remember that the word is just a tool of remembrance. The real power is in the Word of God upon which your word is based. For example, I have chosen Joy as my focus word for the year. I will be looking for the joy of the Lord in all things- not just the fun, productive or happy times. How do I know this is true? It is because the Joy I am seeking is based on scripture. As I have looked at my verses more closely, I see different aspects of God’s joy that I can look forward to this year.

Joy in that is based on my salvation and will provide me with sustaining strength to lift me up, even when things don’t look so good! Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold  and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord;  I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the Lord, is my strength;  he makes my feet like the deer’s;  he makes me tread on my high places.”

Joy that is based on the Sovereignty of God as He knows the pathways He has made for my life and I can find His joy as I walk trusting Him. Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy that will cause me to rejoice in both body and spirit. It will fill me up from the inside out and is based in the graciousness of God for those He has redeemed. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy,  when I sing praises to you;  my soul also, which you have redeemed.”

Joy that provides me with eternal strength to face each day. Nehemiah 8:10b “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joy that takes everything in stride and produces character within me. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Take the word you have chosen for the year and search scripture for places it is used. Pray and seek God’s guidance in which verses really speak to you that He would have you apply to your life this year. It is not your word that guides you but the Word of God that uses, applies and motivates your year.

God’s Word has the power to lead, guide, uplift, motivate, give strength, and produce salvation within you as you believe in Him. God’s Word is eternal, sharp, penetrating, breathed by Him so it can produce within our character what God desires for our lives. Let His Word guide you this year as you seek Him.

Linda

Advent: a Journey, a Delivery, a Joy Realized

My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men yet, but they truly did not arrive until about 2 years after Jesus’ birth and provided monies for Joseph and Mary when they fled to Egypt. I’ll continue with their part in the story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.

This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin- Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.

Linda

Advent Reveals How Persistent Faith Brings Results

Another confirmation from God came from elderly Anna. She was a widow of many years and was undoubtedly allowed to live in one of the rooms at the temple used for various things. She spent her days worshiping, fasting and praying. Anna was called a prophetess which was not as common as her male counterpart, prophet, of which there were many in the Old Testament, like Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah…. However, she was not alone as Miriam, Moses’ sister was called a prophetess in Exodus 15:20, Deborah the mighty leader in Judges 4:4, Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14 and Philip’s daughters in Acts 21:9.

Here is her encounter with the baby Jesus from Luke 2:36-38. “Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.”

What does this encounter with baby Jesus show us? God requires us to be diligent and patient, persisting in our faith. Anna took every opportunity to worship and pray. She was open to hear from God about the future. Her message to Mary, Joseph and all of us about this child is one of Hope. She saw in Him one who would rescue her people. We may not be prophets or eloquent preachers but we too have a message of Hope from Jesus to tell others. God’s indwelling Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we belong to Him and have the Words of light, hope and salvation to give in Jesus’ name. Light John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Hope1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you Salvation- 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Will you persist in faith even when things get hard? Will you lean upon Jesus as your source of eternal light, hope and salvation just as He would want? Patient Anna was rewarded with seeing Jesus and knowing the truth of God revealed to the world. Take encouragement from her today and persist in your faith with diligent prayer and worship. You too will be rewarded by God just as He promises in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Linda

Advent Shows Light and Salvation for All!

Just like after John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph had a naming and circumcision ceremony on the eighth day. They named him Jesus as that was the name the angel gave them even before His birth. Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21 Then the Jewish law required the couple to wait 40 days before presenting their child in the temple for dedication to the Lord. On Jesus’ dedication day God prepared yet another confirmation for Mary and Joseph that their child was from God. Here is their encounter with Simeon and his words about Jesus.

Luke 2:25-35 “ At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
    as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
    and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Wow! What confirmation from this godly man that Jesus was going to provide salvation for all people and bring light into the world. Bringing salvationTitus 2:11 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” and Hebrews 5:9 “In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” Bringing lightJohn 8:12 “Jesus said to them, “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.” and 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Simeon also blessed them and spoke words for them to treasure in preparation for the future that God has planned for their child. Saving the world and giving light to all was not going to be an easy pathway as He would face opposition and many hearts would be effected, even theirs.

What encouragement do you find in this story of Jesus’ dedication? It confirms to me that God is Sovereign and Omniscient. He knows all that will happen and had a plan to redeem mankind. It shows God is Merciful, Gracious and Compassionate as He sent His Son to bring light into a dark world and provide salvation for all. God is loving and keeps His promises just as He kept his word to Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Savior. He also prepared Mary and Joseph for the coming life their son would lead, one that would to be filled with godly purpose. God knows each of us as He did Simeon, Joseph and Mary. He knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Reflect today on how God’s timing has been perfect in your life. How has God fulfilled his promise in Romans 8:28 to you? “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I can attest to God’s hand in my life even in the darkest times. Even those tough times produced growth and experiences that God has used many times over to help others, to build my faith and produce results I had never envisioned or dreamed possible. God is indeed Sovereign and can and will use all things for my good and His glory as I walk with Him.

Linda

Advent Brings Service without Fear

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit as he delivered prophesies concerning the coming Messiah and his own newly arrived son. Even today, his words bring hope and reassurance in Jesus and God’s plan of salvation. Luke 1:68-75

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
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.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness

    for as long as we live.

I love that he begins with the fact that Jesus was coming to redeem his people. Anyone who believes in Jesus belongs to Him and are His family, His people! Ephesians 1:5 “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Zechariah reminds us that Jesus, Messiah, was prophesied to be from the line of David and would be our Savior. John 7:24 “For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” In verses 71 and 74 Zechariah states that by sending this messiah God will save the people and rescue them from their enemies. He took this to be literally enemies, like Rome, but since he said the rescue enables us to serve God without fear, we can take this to mean all kinds of rescuing. This rescuing is from sin, oppression, and bondage both physically through eternal salvation and spiritually with freedom from the bondage of sin into which we were born. Lastly he reminds us that any freedom we receive from the Savior will be eternal in nature and allow us to serve God, filled by His righteousness and holiness.

What an encouraging message for us today. We can claim the hope and eternal salvation that Jesus offers and know that though Him we can serve God covered in His righteousness. Philippians 1:11 “May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” and 1 Peter 1:13 “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”

Jesus brings hope to the world!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 27: What a deal we got through Jesus!

I 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 used to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians.  It then became a day term retailers used to signify 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.”

risen

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 they learned of Jesus’ resurrection and his defeat of sin 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!

colossians 1 ;21

That blackest Friday brought death and burial to Jesus but 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 in 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.

During these COVID times you may not be venturing out physically but think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him and Give thanks for His sacrifice that brings the greatest gains-salvation, eternal life, His indwelling Holy Spirit, heaven, godly character, a relationship with God, resistance to temptation, purpose in life…..- to you and me!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 16: 7 Amazing Reasons for Faith

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

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

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

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

Linda

Wisdom, foolishness- which is it for you?

Our Stream of Water this week is from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. This is a powerful portion of scripture as it answers the questions so many unbelievers ask, “How can you believe in God? How can you believe all that ‘stuff’?” Verses 18-19 tell us the cause of this problem, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,  and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” The unbeliever sees the truths of God, the cross and the resurrection as foolishness. No one or nothing can change this until they encounter God himself and turn to Him. God will continue to thwart their foolish plans and continue to woo sinners unto himself. God desires that all come to know Him and that none should perish! (2 Peter 3:9) Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers to keep on preaching and giving out the truth of the gospel. Because when the unbeliever opens themselves to God, they can experience His love and power in their lives. As believers we know the truth of verse 25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” By far, God is stronger and wiser than any thing, circumstance or person we will ever encounter and wiser than all He has created.

Knowing God is wise, why would He give the message of hope and salvation to us to give out? Why us? How did we become plan A for making Him known to the world? Verses 27-28 give us part of His reasoning “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. ” God did not want anyone to boast about ‘saving the world’. He chose to use the weak, us as frail flawed humans, so that when we accomplish things for Him we will know for sure that God is the one who enables, provides and directs. God wraps up this discussion through Paul in verse 30-31, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Only Jesus, the perfect sinless Son of God could save us. Through Him we receive His righteousness, sanctification and redemption for ourselves and all those we pass on the message of the gospel. We cannot brag about doing the Lord’s work, winning people to Christ or saving anyone. It is all Christ working through us.

May the truth of God’s Word cause you to continue giving out the gospel confident in God’s ability to save any who will turn to Him.

Linda

Entire passage: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 “

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,  not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

God at Work in me = JOY!

Therefore is a transition word that means the writer has reached a conclusion and has a truth for us.  Philippians 2:12-13 is one such passage.  Paul had just finished describing Jesus, his role as Savior and Lord of Lords in verses 5-11 and reached a conclusion about Jesus’ effect on all our lives.  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Paul reminds the Philippian believers of their faithful obedience to Jesus, even when he was not there supervising them, and admonishes them to ‘work out their salvation with fear and trembling’.  

Paul’s charge to ‘work out their salvation with fear and trembling’ would apply to us too. God at workThis phrase implies that we need to continue in faith regardless of the obstacles we face daily.   We need to commit to growing in our faith, and strive to know more about God each day.  We need to take that growth and then apply it to our faith with diligence and persistence.  All this should be done without doubt or fear but because of our faith and reverence towards God.  Scholars agree it does not mean any kind of ‘earning’ or working hard to create our salvation but rather living our faith in Jesus out in our daily lives.   Paul refers to believers as new creations in Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  That new creation, a life filled with faith in Jesus,  demands a new walk with Christ that causes us to live by His Word and be indwelt and transformed by His Holy Spirit.  We did nothing to earn this transformation as it is God’s gift to us through faith but it needs to be cared for and nurtured as we grow in Him.

philippians 2 13As Paul continues, I love what he says in verse 13.  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”   Paul knows that God is the one working within us to mold and shape us.  God is doing the work. Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.”   God needs our commitment to Him, then He is the one doing the work within us.  We trust and commit then God does the follow through!   Paul also knew that what God intends or wills happens.   Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Finally, Paul adds that the things God does in our lives are for His good pleasure.  This will always be good for us as promised in 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 always for His glory and our good!  

joy quoteIncreased joy for me, how about you?

  • I am filled with joy that my growth in character pleases God and equals joy in my life.
  • I am filled with joy that God is at work within me with purpose and goodness.
  • I am filled with joy knowing that God keeps His promises!

Have a blessed and joy filled day!

Linda

No need to worry- We are SECURE in Him!

Ephesians 1:13-14 holds wonderful truths for us to cling to that give us assurance of the hope and faith we have in Christ.  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

The truths of this passages are many.  I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith in Jesus affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.  These truths are confirmed other places in scripture as well.

romans 816Indwelling Holy Spirit testifying and affirming:  Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”   Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  1 Thessalonians 4:8 “Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”   We can be assured that His Spirit is real and lives within us.

Holy Spirit guaranteeing:  2 Corinthians 5:5  “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing 2 corinthians 5 5what is to come.”  Hebrews 6:17 “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.”   God gives us His word that His indwelling Holy Spirit guarantees our belonging to Him and our future with Him -heirs of His promises.

1 peter 1 4A tangible inheritance in Jesus1 Peter 1:4 “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”   Colossians 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Our inheritance is kept safe in heaven, a reward waiting for us for living a life of faith that brings glory to Jesus.

As you review these precious truths today.  Which ones resonate with your spirit and give you peace?  Claim God’s promises today!   He has an inheritance for us, He gives us His Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus and His Holy Spirit affirms and testify with our spirits so we can be assured of His love, a future with Him and His saving grace.  Praise God for His wonderful provision for us.  He knows we,  as finite beings,  need assurances  and He graciously gives us all we need.  Thank you Lord Jesus.

Linda