Jesus, a name that brings Joy for Eternity!

Today’s passage is amazingly beautiful, descriptive of our Savior and presents us with a challenge and hope for the future.  Philippians 2:5-10 is a well known and often quoted portion of scripture.  I like the New Living Translation of this passage,

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had(our challenge as believers)

Though he was God,                                      
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;    
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God      
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

jesus-names-2Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,      
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,           

What was Jesus’ attitude?   He was not filled with self-pride.  He could have been as He was God and possessed power and might beyond measure.  But,  He acted with sacrificial humility and came to earth in human form with the purpose of saving us though His death on the cross.  He was obedient to God’s plan of redemption.  The result was God honored His obedience forever and made us all be subject to Jesus.  What a challenge to live each day with an attitude like Christ’s  with humility, a servant’s heart, a willingness to put others first and with pure devotion and love for God.   Only through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit is it possible.  Jesus promised in Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   Live life each day, trusting in the power of Jesus, the name above all names!

As I read this passage, I am awestruck by Jesus’ humility and sacrifice.  He gave up His position in heaven to come to earth to save and to serve.  How much He must love us!

My joy is increased today:

  • as I consider how much God loves me.
  • as I see that obedience brings blessings.
  • as I see that no matter how things look right now, God has a plan for eternity and is in His control.
  • jesus key to joyas I realize that Jesus in King now and forever!

Have a blessed day and may there be joy in your heart and on your lips!

Linda

Joy, Knowing God is Sovereign

In Philippians 1:15-21 Paul expresses the facts of ministry as he sees them.  He sees some preaching the gospel to win souls.  He calls that good will and says their preaching is out of love, desiring that all would be saved and be eternally free in Christ.   He also sees those who preach the gospel out of love of self, for self-gratification, self-gain, and self-glory.  He calls that selfish ambition  and realizes that they can, by their words, stir up trouble for him even as he sits in prison.  However, Paul does not hold their actions against them as he rejoices that the name of Christ is proclaimed and trusts in God’s plan and sovereign control over all circumstances.   Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

Paul’s continues reasoning that though the prayers of fellow believers and the power of the Holy Spirit, he knows God will be victorious and his place with Jesus is philippians_1_18assured. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Paul knew no matter what, he belonged to Jesus!   He knew the support of fellow believers through their powerful prayers and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit were essential to his surviving in his Roman prison.  Either in death or in life,  he would be victorious in and through Christ. 

 How is it that Paul was so assured?   Paul relied upon the character of God and His Word.   He undoubtedly remembered Joseph’s statement of God’s principle in Genesis genesis-50 2050:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Or perhaps his own words given by the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:28 “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Or Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 29:11-12 “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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.”   Paul was a  student of scripture and knew for a fact the truths about God’s character revealed throughout the Bible.  He had learned to draw upon them for strength, clarity and assurance.   We too need to open His Word and dig deep to replenish our joy, see our hope clearly, and gain strength and assurance. Our Sovereign God is bigger than Covid 19 or any other circumstance we face right now or in the future.  Be assured like Paul that no matter what, you and I will be victorious in Christ!

My joy is increased:

  • I know God is Sovereign and will use all things (people, places, circumstances- yes even the Corona virus) to achieve His will.
  • I know God has my back and has good plans for me as I serve Him, therefore, I will trust in Him.
  • I know that prayer is essential for survival and brings encouragement and resolve to believers.

joy in sovereignty of GodLet your joy be in our Sovereign God today.     Trust in Him!

Linda

A Call to PRAY this 5th Sunday of Lent 2020 in a virus filled world

Sovereign-LordHere are some verses to uplift, encourage and challenge you this 5th Sunday of Lent as our world struggles with the pandemic of Covid-19:

God is Sovereign: Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,   and his kingdom rules over all.”   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.”    John 10:29 “ My Father, who has given (my sheep- believers) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”    Each of these verses shows God’s Sovereign power.  He is Creator God and there is none greater.  Once we belong to Him, nothing and no one can take us away from Him.  God is the determiner of mankind and those things He allows to come into our lives.   Like the plagues of the Old Testament, pray, pray, pray for God’s mercy in these days of Covid-19.  Humble yourselves and turn back to Him and seek Him and His forgivenessWe are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:22-23   God promises sovereignrestoration and forgiveness if:    if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”   2 Chronicles 7:14 

Please pray.

Here are the truths we found in God’s Word from Ephesians 4:17-5:20 this last week.  They are rich and bring joy and challenge to the believer as we endeavor to walk with Him each day.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be a new creation in Jesus!  Ephesians 4:17-24

We are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God.   Ephesians 4:25-32

We can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.  Ephesians 5:1-2

I can choose light and life with HimEphesians 5:3-8

His light can be seen in me.  Ephesians 5:9-14

How I live my life for Him matters.  Ephesians 5:15-20

May you have a Sunday filled with His love and be able to spend time praying and mediating on His Sovereignty and His wonderful truths from Ephesians.

Linda

The Cross = oneness and giftedness in Christ!

Ephesians 4:4-7 is a beautiful passage to be cherished by believers.  We are all called to be a part of God’s family and share in what we have in Christ,  and yet God sees us as epheisans 4 4-7individuals with different needs.

“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.   There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all,   who is over all, in all, and living through all.  However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.”

God,  the creator,  who is Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient  is our Heavenly Father.   He is in everything we do, everywhere we go and in every action we take.  We are to be in His presence daily, walking with Him and letting His Holy Spirit guide and direct us.  I love the fact that we are individuals before God.  He gave us special gifts through Christ when we became believers.  Each one of us is seen as useful and productive for the kingdom and are given gifts so we can successfully work and live for Him.

Do you feel isolated or a part of the body of Christ?   Are you connected in meaningful ways to other believers?  What about your gifts?  Are you using your God given talents to accomplish work for the Lord?  Lent is a time of reflection.  Ponder what your gifts may be, read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 to seek clarity about gifts, think about the things you do for others in Jesus’ name- what brings you the most joy and peace?   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.

ephesians 4 7May you be lifted up as you pray and meditate on the power of God’s family in your life and your gifts.  Be encouraged as God has special gifts for each of us though the grace of Christ!

Linda

“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

2020 A New Year, A New Decade- How will you survive?

2020 Happy New YearYesterday I was in the look back mode,  but today January 1, 2020 I am looking forward.  Each year I have a habit of choosing a word to guide my year.  Last year God gave me the word Trust and Wow! did I see that word week after week.  I learned to lean upon God and trust Him in new, painful, scary and exciting situations.  It was amazing how Trust kept coming up again and again, reminding me of who I am and where my Trust needs to be placed.

This year God has given me the word Hope.  I have always loved writing and talking about the hope I have in Christ, but I feel His Hope will reach into all corners of my life.   So I thought it wise to spend a few weeks looking into HOPE and seeing how hope is described in God’s Word.  The verse I found to start with is Psalm 71:14 as it seemed to capture the hope I feel right now as I begin this new year.But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.”  Psalm 71 was written by King David in his old age.  He reflects upon God, his dependence upon Him and God’s continuing faithfulness.  David resolves to continue praising God just as he has done since his youth. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”  Psalm 71:5

May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
    with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
    who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.  Psalm 71:13-15

David knows the ‘world’ will come against him, yet he knows God will deal with them.  He has his hope placed in God and will praise Him.  No matter what as he knows God is sovereign and in control of all things, people, and places.  He vows to continue to proclaim what God has done for him.

psalm-71-14-quote-lgThis is a challenge as we face a New Year.  We know for certain that things will come against us-as they always do.  What we know, like David, is that God is faithful and will stand with us.  We need to trust in His sovereignty and mercy and cling to Him in HOPE.  That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020?  I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful.  He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.

Looking forward to 2020 with HOPE,

Linda

Bethlehem reveals God’s Omnipotence!

We have seen the power and might of God, His knowledge of people and His choices of who He would use to bring about His plan for our redemption.  Today we see His sovereign power and His control of places and world events.

Luke 2:1-4  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world Bethlehemshould be registered. This was the first registration when  Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,”   

It was no coincidence that the Roman emperor had a census taken and that Mary and Joseph would need to travel to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home.  He was in the line of David and David’s home had been in Bethlehem in Judea since he was of the tribe of Judah.  In addition, God knew this ahead of time because the Old Testament  prophecy regarding where the Messiah would be born was given hundred of years before the event in Micah 5:2

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.

God knew when and where His Son would be born,  and it happened exactly when and where God designed it.  Not only do we see God’s sovereignty in the choice and Omnipotentcontrol of people and places but we see His Omnipotence God is All Powerful as He has unlimited power and influence.  He does all He wants and intends to do.  God is the source of all power and without God’s power everything would fall apart.  His power holds the stars in place and sustains life.   Having Mary able to travel, Joseph having to go to Bethlehem, the Roman government requiring a census are all evidences of God’s Omnipotent power.  His power and influence extends to His whole creation and nothing happens by chance.

Where do you see God’s Omnipotent power in your life?  Nothing happens that is outside His control.   His will cannot be thwarted and He will see all to completion.  No earthly leader or worldly power can stop God’s plans.  Daniel expressed his awe at God’s power in Daniel 2:20-21 ““Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;    Daniel knew that God had power over all things, people and places.  Job also knew of God’s Omnipotent power as he states in Job 42:2  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

job 42 2Look for God in the little things in your life and soon you will see His presence everywhere.  God’s providential care of those who believe in Jesus is a blessing beyond measure.

Linda

Sovereign God, see Him today!

Joseph’s story inspires me in several ways.  He was an ordinary carpenter, a working man, righteous in God’s esteem and used by God to complete His plan for bringing His Son to us. He was completely obedient to God’s directions-he did as the Lord commanded.  He was compassionate as he respected Mary and sought to divorce her quietly not bringing further embarrassment because of her situation.  Here is his back story of how this happened to him, Matthew 1:18-25.

 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

history and sovereingty of GodWhere do we see God in this event?  For sure God’s power and might are displayed in the angel and the dream.  The choosing of the ‘right’ man for the job shows the knowledge of God and the exact timing of the events in the course of time-His sovereignty.

Today as I look at this I am struck by the Sovereignty of GodWhat does God’s sovereignty cover?   God controls all things.  There is nothing outside of God’s wise control, even the exact time and place for each person to live.  No one tells God what to do.  What God plans, happens.  No event, not natural disaster, no person, not even Satan can stop God’s plans.  God planned the time for His Son to come and He will return exactly as God plans in the future.   Do you see sovereignty here?  God chose the exact type of earthy father He desired for His Son-the right mother, the right home and time.  He placed him with a compassionate, righteous father giving Him exactly what Jesus needed to grow in wisdom and truth to accomplish His plan for our redemption.

What about you?  Do you trust wholly in God’s sovereignty?  Do you believe that He has the right place, plans and purpose for your life?  Joseph did not question God as He trusted in His wise judgement, plans and purposes for His life.  He was obedient to God-no doubting of God’s plan or power like we saw in Zachariah when the angel appeared to him.   No questioning of the incomprehensibility of the situation like Mary first did when the angel told her she would bear a son even though she was a virgin.  No, Joseph’s obedience and acceptance of God’s plans for his life are impressive and humbling.  He trusted totally in Sovereign God.

Sovereign-LordPray about Joseph’s example today as you seek to make obedience, compassion and integrity a part of your character.  God is sovereign and will lead you to serve Him exactly where He needs you to be.  Trust Him and He will grow and develop your character.

Linda

 

I don’t get it? Why this way God?

I have been pondering today’s scripture for several days.  Luke 1:34-38 continues the encounter of Gabriel and Mary.  She begins with a question and listens as the angel explains how and why Mary will become pregnant.  Amazingly Mary states her unwavering obedience to God before Gabriel leaves her.

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”   35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Where is God in this encounter?  God is the Sovereign force behind the events happening right then.  He is All-Powerful, Omnipotent God who can make the impossible God-is-incomprehensible-1happen.  But, the attribute that has stuck in my mind is Incomprehensible.  Not in our wildest human plans would we have come up with a miraculous birth by a lowly young Jewish maiden to save all mankind.  We cannot understand God’s thoughts, plans or ways with our finite minds.  His ways are always righteous and good for all people.  His ways and plans bless us and glorify Him.  Here are a few verses that speak to the incomprehensibility of God:

Job 5:9 “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”     

 Isaiah 40:28  “Do you not know? Have you not heard?   The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”     

Isaiah 55:8 ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,”  declares the Lord.”     

Romans 11:33  “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments,  and his paths beyond tracing out!

faith_does_not_make_things_300x300How big is your God?  Mary knew God could do great and impossible things in the world and in her life.  She experienced the incomprehensibility of God in her life and accepted it on faith.   Can you do that too?  When you face hard to deal with questions or situations in life, can you trust in Jesus anyway?  Walking with Jesus is a life long journey of learning and discovery as no one can plumb the depths of God’s Word or fully know His character.   He wants to teach us to love and trust Him realizing He is incomprehensible and His ways are not our ways. 

Linda                                                                                                                 

 

 

God’s Power in our Lives!

Our story of Advent began even before Gabriel approached Mary and Joseph as it was in the mind of God from the beginning of time.  The arrival of the Messiah, one who would save mankind from their sins, was told throughout the Old Testament.  Scripture also mentioned one who would come before this Messiah, Savior, and prepare the way for His arrival.   Today in Luke 1:11-17 we find two people, Zechariah and Elizabeth who were consider devout and blameless (verse 6).   This didn’t mean they were sinless, but that God recognized their devotion and love for Him.  They had been married many years and had no children.  Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth his wife was called barren.  They were both considered old, and she was beyond child bearing age.

Zechariah was serving in the temple and an angel appeared to him.  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”  The angel told Zechariah their prayers for a child had been heard and would be answered with a son he was to name John.  Then the angel continued and told him about this unusual child, what he would be like and what purpose God had for him.  “He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

luke 1 13Can you imagine Zechariah and Elizabeth’s surprise at hearing this news?  Their prayers had been heard and the answer was forthcoming.  It was not only their prayers but the prayers of the nation of Israel for a Savior, Messiah, that would to come and save them from their sins.  Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son would go before this coming holy one and prepare the way for Him.  What honor and joy they must have felt!

How do we see God in this portion of our Advent story?  As I began yesterday, knowing that God would hear my cry for understanding through His Word so Zechariah and Elizabeth were assured by Gabriel that their prayers had been heard for a child.  They had prayed for years for a child to raise and love.  God had chosen them to parent this coming one who would proclaim the Messiah.  What joy they must have felt at knowing God heard their prayers and that they would have a child.  On a bigger scale they would have understood that they would all be part of God’s  plan for the redemption of mankind.

This reveals that God is accessible to us in prayer.  He hears us and responds in His own way and in His own time.  All God’s plans are for His glory and our good.  I also see God’s infinite grace in revealing His plan to them, showing them how He was going to use them GodsGraceand their son.  God did not need to tell them all these things but showed them His grace in revealing it to them.  Grace is God showing us kindness or favor we do not deserve.  One does not earn grace, it is freely given by God.   Psalm 84:11 says “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;  no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”  We also see God’s ability to know the future and have all things under His control, Sovereign.  His supernatural power to provide an impossible child for Zechariah and Elizabeth also shows His love and care for us as individuals.  

May you see our Accessible, Gracious, Loving, Caring and Sovereign God at work in your life today.

Linda