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 

Resurrection Sunday!! Happy Easter!

Easter2020During our entire Lenten journey, we have pondered the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross.  Now we need to come to the realization that without the resurrection His death would have been meaningless,  and we would be still lost in sin!  In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 “12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 1And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

Paul made this argument to clarify for the unbelievers and doubters that resurrection was essential to their faith otherwise they would still have all their sins and be under penalty of death.  Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Belief in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His victorious resurrection were essential to the Ephesian believer’s faith and are for us as well.  Without the resurrection there is no forgiveness and victory over death! All of Christ’s suffering here on earth would have been for nothing.  I know that God is sovereign, all powerful and omniscient and nothing is left to chance or done randomly.  Jesus prayed in John 17:3-4 just before His death, And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”   We know God’s plans will be accomplished, His Word, Jesus would not return to Him void. Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   Job 42:2 also reminds us of this truth, ““I know that you can do all things,  and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”   Praise God His purpose was not thwarted and was accomplished completely by Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead.  Praise God, our Redeemer Lives!

1 corinthians 15 4Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, Your faith is real, your sins are forgiven, you will spend eternity with Jesus, you are empowered and indwelt by His Holy Spirit!  Praise God!

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

Linda

Who is after your mind? Be protected- use your helmet!

Ephesians 6:17 is part of a sentence that began yesterday in 6:16 that has an important element for 6:17 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”   Each piece of armor that Paul is instructing believers to put on are to be used at all times in all circumstances.  He knew the devil is always ready to attack.  Peter knew it also as he wrote in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”   Being ready means putting on our armor as we endeavor to walk with Jesus daily.  

Verse 17 mentions 2 pieces of armor but I’m only going to focus on one today, the helmet ephesians 6 17 helmetof salvation.  Why did Paul associate salvation with the helmet in our armor?  Salvation is not just redemption but is our protection plan for eternity.  Ephesians 1:13 told us “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,”  We are sealed for eternity and nothing or not one can take our salvation away from us!  This is a blessed assurance or promise from God and God always keeps His promises!

A helmet is essential because it protects your head and your mind.  Satan is after our minds.  He want to turn us away from godly thinking, confuse, disrupt or distort our thinking.  The brain controls the body so protecting our mind is vital for survival.  2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us that we need to hold every thought captive to Christ.  “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”   Opinions, false doctrines and 2 corinthians 5 3arguments against the faith can be overcome with all thoughts captivated by Christ and His truths.  Having a firmly placed and active helmet helps us keep our shield of faith in place and solidifies who we are in Christ.  We need to think like kingdom citizens.  Protecting our minds from attacks of stray thoughts, doubts, letting fear creep in and control us or letting desires over come what we know is right are all things we are vulnerable to without a good helmet.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have assurance of salvation for all eternity and be mentally protected from attacks by Satan.

Here are a few verses about how God protects our minds in Christ:

Isaiah 26:3  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,because he trusts in you”.    Peace of mind is yours in Christ.

Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”   Life is yours in Christ.

Colossians 3:2  “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”.  Heavenly thinking is yours to possess.

1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ”  Complete preparation for spiritual battles is ours through Christ.

As you go through today, think about your gift of salvation through faith in Christ. Praise and thank God for this precious gift and how it protects and defends your mind and thinking.  Your salvation is sure and true and you hold it for all eternity.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda

Holy Week -Wednesday.   Plots are hatched against Jesus as Judas is lured by officials to betray Christ.  Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6.   As He looked towards the cross and betrayal which was to come on Thursday evening and Friday, Jesus likely took this day to rest and be with those He cherished on earth.

 

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