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

#8 Practicing Devotion to God-by Focusing on our Savior

How do you go about focusing on Christ as your Savior?   Christ is our example, our brother, our Lord, our guide, intercessor…. but what about Savior?  Focusing on Jesus as Savior will increase your love and devotion for Him.

Here are a few verses that point us towards Christ and all He has done for us in saving romans 5 8us.  Romans 5:8 “ but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”    God so loved us, even as sinners, that he sent Jesus to redeem and save us through His death on the cross.  Imagine a love that great as to sacrifice your son for you and me!   1 Peter 2:24-25 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”    Christ died on the cross so that we might live wholly, complete and be presented blameless before God.  1 peter 2 24He willingly gave Himself to save us!  He healed us in His death from our sin and unrighteousness.  Now instead of wandering in a world of sin,  we are kept and looked after by the great Shepherd who looks out for our souls.  What a wonderful picture of our loving God and Savior.  

Today as you meditate on Christ, your Savior, think about all He has done for you personally.  Where would you be today without your Savior?  What would your future be like?   We, as believers, have much to be thankful for in having a wonderful Savior in Jesus the Christ.

Linda

Seeing the Savior is life changing, just ask the shepherds

shepherd mangerLuke 2:15-20  “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds had a glorious encounter with angels that prompted them to go and seek the child born in Bethlehem.  Their second encounter that day was seeing their Lord and Savior in the flesh, the one that had come to earth to save mankind.  Luke 2:11 was the glorious message they had received, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  People were amazed when they heard their message and Mary treasured what they said and stored it away in her heart.   They all had personally encountered the Savior, Jesus.

jesus saviorGod showed the world their Savior and proclaimed his work on earth even at this humble beginning.  God reached down and rescued sinners from the penalty of death and hell that our sin deserves.  We cannot save ourselves from sin because we are dead in our sin.  God had a plan from eternity past to save His children fully from sin- from the penalty, power and presence of sin.  He sent His Son to live the perfect life we cannot live and die in our place for our sin.  Savior Jesus took all the punishment for our sin and saves us completely.  Romans 5:8 reminds us of God’s motivation for sending His Son and our true condition, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  I love the explanation of why and how God did what He did in Titus 3:4-7 “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Through faith we reap the benefits of His love, eternal life, His righteousness in our lives, the indwelling Holy Spirit, His grace, mercy, hope and become heirs with Christ.   We know and serve an amazing Savior.  Thank you Jesus.

What do you do with the message of Jesus the Messiah, Savior who is the Christ? Are you excited, awed and motivated to tell everyone of your Savior?  As you go through your day, think about the message the shepherds received.  Ask yourself, what am I jesus reason for the seasondoing about the Savior who is Christ the Lord?  Am I telling others of His wonderful love, salvation, hope and eternal life?  If not, why not?  Christ is the reason for this season as His is the message of Hope for all mankind.  Spread the word!

Linda

Imagine seeing and hearing the Glory of God revealed by Angels

In Luke 2:8-14 angels from heaven appear to humble shepherds out tending their flocks.

Heavenly-HostThat night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

I cannot even imagine the awe and wonder that must have filled the shepherds.  Seeing glorious heavenly beings, shining before them praising God and giving them the good news of the birth of their long awaited Savior, Messiah and Lord.   They were even told where this glorious event took place, in Bethlehem.  As Luke describes the scene he said the ‘glory of the Lord’  surrounded them.  I can well imagine their fear at seeing such a radiant sight, but again the angels told them not to fear.   God wanted them to rejoice at this glorious announcement not be overcome with fear.

Where do you see God in this event?  In the heavenly angels appearing, the fact that the angelic beings spoke to the human shepherds, that the timing was perfect in announcing the birth of the Savior, that the angels knew exactly where Jesus was born and the angels radiated God’s glory around them.  Truly it was a miraculous event that showed God’s gloryGod’s glory is the total of all God’s attributes.  God displayed His glory in the beauty and wisdom of His creation.  Throughout history, God has revealed His glory to His people through His power, mercy, grace, judgement, holiness, love and every other attribute.  In the Old Testament we see His glory symbolically represented by fire in a cloud. His glorious presence came to dwell in the Tabernacle and then the Temple as God came to dwell among His people.  The Lord Jesus Christ reveals God’s glory completely.   The angels were announcing the arrival of God’s glory in human form, His Son, Jesus.  Hebrews 1 3Hebrews 1:3 tells us “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”   Isaiah had a vision of the throne room of God in Isaiah 6:3 he describes the scene, “And they were calling to one another:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Ezekiel  also recounted his vision of heaven in Ezekiel 3:12 “Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where it was standing.”  God is always surrounded by His glory and radiant power.  Amazingly for us, in Jesus is revealed the fullness of God’s glory and we can know Him and experience His glory in our lives.

Knowing God is glorious scripture tells us that we can see His glory in His creation. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God;   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” glory of god Knowing that Jesus reflects God’s glory means that having Jesus’ Holy Spirit indwelling us gives us the power to bring glory to God by doing His work.  Hebrews 13:21 “ equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

May you glimpse God’s glory in nature and in the working of Christ in your life.

Linda

Worthy of our Praises? You bet!

Let Psalm 95 speak to your heart today as you worship the Lord this Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Think about God, who He is and why He alone is worthy of praise.

Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.        He provides salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
    Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,                            He is completely Sovereign.
    a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth          He is creator God.
    and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
    His hands formed the dry land, too.

Come, let us worship and bow down.                             
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,             He watches over and cares for us.
    the flock under his care.                           We belong to Him.

psalm 95 2Praise God for His love, sovereignty, omnipotent power, creating all things, protecting, watching and caring for us.   We are so blessed that we belong to Him.

Have a great day rejoicing and being thankful in His presence.

Linda

I AM … Your Savior

I amGod refers to himself in the Old Testament as Your Savior in Isaiah 49:26 and 60:16.  In both cases His name is linked to prophesy in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem when the Babylonians came and destroyed it and took the people off to Babylon.  The city was held under siege and the people suffered greatly, at one point even resorting to cannibalism.  Isaiah’s words were to be ones of encouragement that God will be evident in the dealings of His people.   Isaiah 49:26

“I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh,
    and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.
Then all flesh shall know
    that I am the Lord your Savior,
    and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”    Again in Isaiah 60:16

“You shall suck the milk of nations;
    you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
    and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

I am your godThe people of Israel were to know that in both hard and good times God will be with them, He will be their Savior, Redeemer and Mighty One.   We can be encouraged like they were that God alone is God, He is our Redeemer and has plans for our redemption through Christ His Son, and He alone is the Mighty One from generation to generation.  The prophet pointed out specifically that God is your Savior and your Redeemer.  He is a personal God who loves each one of us and wants to have a relationship with us.  He desires that we accept His Son as Savior and open our hearts to His redemptive plan.

Here are a few verses to mediate upon today as you consider your Savior and Redeemer.  1 Corinthians 1:30 “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”  and Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

May Jesus be your Savior and Redeemer today bringing you hope and assurance of salvation!

Linda

Is Jesus personal to you?

Several of the post-resurrection appearances were to specific individuals instead of groups.  Jesus met Mary as I wrote about in the blog of May 3, 2019,  but today I want to look at Jesus’ appearance to Peter and James.  The appearance to Peter is mentioned in Peter appearancepassing in Luke 24:34 “saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  and in 1 Corinthians 15:5 by Paul “and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve”.   The Luke message was delivered to the disciples by the two men who Jesus met on the Road to Emmaus (blog of 4/23/2019).  Here the men referred to Peter as Simon using his old name.   Jesus also referred to Peter by his old name when He told him he would deny Him three time before the rooster crowed. The prediction of the denial is recorded in both Matthew 26 and Mark 14.  The actual denial event is recorded in all 4 gospels, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18.   Peter was not acting with his new believing nature, clinging to the rock of faith which is Jesus, but with the old, impetuous, doubting nature of unbelieving Simon.  It shows great compassion from our Lord to singularly appear to Peter to forgive and restore him.  Jesus would have known the anguish and guilt Peter was feeling after his denial of Jesus the night before the Crucifixion.  The forgiven Peter went onward, never doubting nor denying his Lord and Savior again.  Jesus personally knows what we need and seeks to be there for each one of us.   What a wonderful, compassionate and loving Savior we serve.

The other post-resurrection appearance that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:7 was to James.  Scholars believe this was James the half-brother of Jesus and not one of the other followers named James.  His brother did not believe in Christ before the resurrection, but afterward became a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, wrote james appearancethe book of James and died a martyr’s death in 62 A.D.  “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”  This appearance speaks to me of Jesus’ compassion and love for his earthly family and for those who are lost.  2 Peter 3:9  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.   He knew James needed to see Him personally to be confronted with his unbelief.  Jesus does that for each one of us as we seek to come to faith and trust in Him.  He is a personal God that loves and cares for each of us.

Jesus personal GodIs Jesus personal to you today?  Do you claim Him as your God and Savior?  Mary did in Luke 1:47 “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,”  Thomas did in John 20:28 “ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” and Paul in Philippians 4:19 “ And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”    Let Him hear your words of declaration today as you thank Him for being your God and Savior.

Linda

It was given in a word, her name.

One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary in the garden.  It is recounted in John 20:14-18.  She was at the tomb, had seen the angels and heard them say that Jesus was not there but risen.  However, she was so overcome with grief it had yet to truly register with her brain.    They (the angels) said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to john-20-16be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 

This scene touches me as it only took Jesus saying her name for her to recognize Him.  In John 10:27 Jesus told the disciples that the ones who know Him will recognize His voice and follow Him  ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Mary knew immediately that it was her Lord saying her name.  She was instantly comforted and wanted to touch Him.  He cautioned her not to touch him, but to go and tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord!  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to john 20 18my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Mary needed to have the Savior’s touch.  He touched her with His voice and He gave her the reassurance that all would be well.  He confirmed he was risen, was the Messiah and that  He was alive.  He showed her that there was eternal Hope in Him!  She got all of that from Jesus saying her name.  What do you need Jesus to say to you today?  Do you need Him to call you by name, give you a word of encouragement, a word of guidance, or simply a word of Hope?  He can say and do it all- if you just ask Him.   Seek Him and He will be found, today!    

  Linda 

IMG_0465
Today the garden tomb is a very peaceful spot in Jerusalem.

Saved by Jesus! Amazing and True!

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a Savior.  A savior is by definition is one who saves.  Jesus saved me from sinRomans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Jesus saved me so I could know God personallyPsalm 91:14-16 describes this relationship with God and what God will do because I love and trust in Jesus. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver Trust mehim;  I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

One of my favorite passages that explains how and why Jesus is my Savior is Titus 3:4-7.  Titus was a young convert of Paul and did missionary work with him after his imprisonment in Rome.  They went to Crete together to spread the word about Jesus.  In his letter to Titus, Paul explains the truth about Jesus, His gracious mercy in coming, His cleansing and renewing of our lives with His Holy Spirit and His marvelous grace.

Titus 3 5But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Luke 1 47Truly, there is no Savior other than our Lord Jesus. Let us join Mary today in saying, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” Luke 1:47

Linda

Suggestion: We know Jesus saved us from sin but what did He save you to?  Think of at least 5 things that you can do now because you are saved by Jesus and have a relationship with God.  (Hint- I can pray and know He will answer, I can ….)  When you finish your list- offer it up to God with Praise and Thanksgiving in Jesus’ Name.

Mercy is ours. Thank you Jesus.

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, I have received mercy.  What mercy have I received?  By definition, mercy is kindness or compassionate treatment; relief from suffering.  Before I knew Jesus as my Savior, I was a condemned person.  Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all sinners before a holy God.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 6:23 tells us that sin has to be atoned or paid for and Jesus paid the price for my sin and treated me mercifully.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  I did nothing to deserve His act of mercy towards me.  Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  

1 Peter 1:9-10 explains this state of mercy I received because of Jesus in a beautiful way. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  How glorious it is to be the recipient of God’s mercy.  He treats me with His loving kindness and rescued me from eternal condemnation.  

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for giving and treating me with your eternal mercy and loving kindness. Open my eyes today to receive your marvelous light and treat others as you have treated me.  Amen.

Linda

popefrancis1Suggestion:  Try to grab hold of God’s mercy today in a new way.  Pray for an opportunity to do a random act of kindness or mercy towards someone.  That means look for ways to act with kindness/mercy when it would be unexpected,  like going out of your way to help someone without them even asking for help.  Be open to giving out mercy in God’s name today.