A Favorite from Isaiah, Be encouraged!

This is a new series for 2022 to be continued throughout the year! Since my word for the year is FAITH, God has given me this inspiration and avenue to build my faith. I will be featuring favorite verses of wonderful friends of faith that have been share with me. I pray they will encourage and strengthen your walk with Jesus throughout this year.

Last summer I met with a group of ladies that studied Promises for Dynamic Living with me. In one of the lessons we were asked to share a favorite verse. I wrote them down and will start with my friend Joyce’s favorite. She chose Isaiah 43:1-3a.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I love this passage as it shows God’s love for His chosen people Israel and that extends to us. Peter assured us of this in 1 Peter 2:9 “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.” As believers we are chosen to belong to Him just as the children of Israel were his precious people so are we- chosen and special in His sight.

What does God proclaim for His chosen ones through His prophet Isaiah? We do not need to live in fear as He created us, redeemed us, calls us by name and promises to be with us. The Israelites had experienced being overwhelmed by their enemies and were rescued by God as they passed through the parted Red Sea escaping the pursuing Egyptian army. (Exodus 14) They had the story of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego who lived through the burning furnace and were not consumed. (Daniel 3) Because we belong to Jesus, we too can depend upon His guidance, protection and know we are His in all circumstances. Lastly, we can know and depend upon all these things because God is who He says He is and now and forever. He is our Savior! Praise God!

I pray these favorite words Joyce choose from Isaiah will encourage and comfort you today. They have power to uplift, assure and redeem in the name of Jesus. Perhaps they will become one of your favorite verse too!

Linda

Advent…A Time of Reflective Praise

After being mute for 9 months because he questioned God’s ability to create a child through he and Elizabeth, Zechariah let’s his praises pour forth in a song of praise and prophecy about the Messiah to come and his own new born son. Luke 1:67-75 is today’s portion of this song. I have interrupted Zechariah’s song with verses from the Old and New Testament that speak of his prophecy being true.

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
Jesus came to redeem and save us. Romans 10:9-10 assures us of this. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
Jesus was repeatedly called the Son of David. The blind beggar called him Son of David and was healed, “They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” 42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” Luke 18:37-43

70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
Paul proclaimed Jesus was the long awaited Messiah in Acts 13:23 “And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel!

71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:9-10 how Jesus saves us “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

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.
Genesis 17:1-10 describes God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God reminds him repeatedly in Genesis 18:18, 22:18 and 26:4 that all nations will be blessed through him.

7We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
Jesus call us to serve and follow Him in John 12:26 “ Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”

75 in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16-17 how we are to live. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

May the prophesies of Zechariah’s song reassure you that God has a plan, God is sovereign and God desires good things for us through faith in Jesus. May you too raise your voice in praise for all God has done for you.

Linda

A New Heart and Spirit = Thanks to Jesus

Today’s verse is 1 Chronicles 16:35-36

“Save us, O God of our salvation,
    and gather and deliver us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.
36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”

This scene takes place when David was rejoicing at the arrival of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. The ark was the object containing the mercy seat on top and inside the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod budding rod and a jar of manna. All these objects were precious to the Israelites and reminded them tangibly of their unseen God’s provision and mercy. The attribute David is extolling God for is being their Savior. He was remembering how God saved them from slavery in Egypt, brought them through the wilderness and led them to conquer the promised land. God had delivered them repeatedly and their eternal God is worthy of all their praises.

When has God saved you? If you are a believer, you were saved from the penalty of sin which is eternal death, when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. Perhaps you have also had other experiences in your life where you have been threatened physically or spiritually and God rescued you from harm. When God saved us by faith in Jesus, it was for eternity and we will belong to Him forever. All the benefits of knowing Him are ours by faith and we can claim the promises He has for us in His Word. The fact that Jesus Saves is worthy of rejoicing and giving thanks. Where would you be without Him? You would be eternally lost and separated from God which are the consequences of disbelief. Thank you Jesus for saving me from that horrible eternal fate and giving me a new life with a new heart and spirit within me. In Ezekiel 36:26 God promises us both. And I will give you a new heartand a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for your Spirit within me that gives me life, hope and guidance as I seek to honor and serve You. Thank you.

Linda

Advent begins with Love

The story of the coming Messiah, who was to save his people, began in Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as God had forbidden. They were deceived by the serpent, Satan, and then cast out of the garden lest they eat of the tree of life and suffer in their sins for eternity. God cursed the serpent and proclaimed there would be enmity between the offspring of Satan and hers. Her child would crush Satan’s head and Satan would bruise his heel. This is the first prophecy of a coming redeemer who would defeat Satan. The Amplified translation gives us some good insights into who is who and what will be accomplished. “And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”

Why start Advent here? There needed to be a compelling reason for God to send His Son to earth to live among mortals and died. John 3:16 gives us God’s motivation for this sacrificially act. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Christmas story is all about God’s great love for us. His great desire is to restore the relationship He had with mankind before sin entered the world. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we are filled with a sinful nature and prone to wander, God loves us and desires to restore man unto himself. Christ came to accomplish this. He was the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

So as we begin our journey through Advent, we need to remember it is because God loved us and desired a relationship with us that He sent Jesus. What a loving God to fix our problem of sin through His own sacrifice.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 23: Forgiving, Merciful, Omnipotent God

Do you have friends, neighbors and loved ones who do not have faith in God or even know of Jesus? How can that cause me to be thankful? Worried and concerned for their eternal fate is more like it. However, Isaiah 55:6-9 holds facts about God Almighty that will create thankfulness in the midst of these troubling thoughts.

Isaiah was writing a message to the future Israelites who would become captives in Babylon. He was imploring them to remember God and return to the Lord as He alone can satisfy. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;” Isaiah 55 verse 1. He continues with his call to return in verses 6-9 giving them and us profound hope and thankful hearts.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:6-9

Why would these verses cause us to have hope, creating thankfulness in our hearts? 1- verse 7 God promises to freely forgive anyone who turns to Him and forsakes his sinning ways. 2- God promises to have mercy on them by not giving them what they deserve for their sins, but treating them with grace and love. These two things bring us hope for our loved ones and friends that do not know Jesus. We know that God is waiting and promises forgiveness and mercy towards anyone who comes to Him! God will not change His mind and decide their sins were to numerous or egregious. God is unchanging and we can depend upon Him as He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” Hebrews 13:8.

Why include verses 8-9 in this discussion as they are not part of the promise of forgiveness? Verses 8 and 9 explain to us the fact that God does not think or act like us. He is does not harbor hate, grudges, or resentments. We cannot think or act like God as it is not in our nature, but it is in His! This is something to be thankful for too. God is above us and His way of dealing with people and circumstances are not anything like ours. How many times have you seen God answer prayer in amazing, out of the box, ways! I am thankful that He my merciful, omnipotent God and that His ways and thoughts are greater than mine.

Let these promises of mercy and love for the lost fill you with hope as you continue to pray for the salvation of those you know who do not know Jesus as Savior. Let the knowledge of God’s ways being so unlike our own cause you to be thankful for Him and fill you with Hope.

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.”

Thankfulness Day 8: He’s rejoicing over me!

Today’s verse comes from Zephaniah 3:17. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness;  he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Zephaniah was a prophet to the nation of Israel in approximately 700 B.C. who had a message of repentance. He warned of coming judgement if they did not turn from their worship of idols. He also focused on the coming day of the Lord and the rejoicing that would bring. He proclaims that God is in our midst, He will save and that He loves and rejoices over each of us with singing. What a wonderful message of hope and reassurance for today. We know Jesus came showing that He saves, loves, cares, protects, holds us in His hands and rejoices over us with gladness. Let His gladness and love sink into your soul, filling you with thanksgiving and hope. Knowing that God rejoices and sings over me, a sinner, gives me great hope and creates in me a thankful heart. Knowing He alone will quiet my heart gives me peace.

Be filled with thanksgiving in knowing you are loved and that your Savior, Jesus, is rejoicing over you today!

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

#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