Are you ready? Jesus calls us to be part of His Plan “A”.

Today’s meeting with Jesus took place on a mountainside in Galilee.  I had always associated this scene with the ascension,  but it is a separate incident.  Jesus did give the ‘Great Commission’ at His ascension but he also gave it here sometime before the ascension.

the_great_commissionMatthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”    

There were 11 disciples because Judas had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself.  However, there were probably others along with them as in verse 10 earlier in the chapter Jesus had said to the women at the tomb garden, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”   Scholars think that the people Matthew is referring to as ‘doubting’ are the other brothers who also accompanied the 11 to the mountainside and does not refer to the disciples.  The heart of Jesus’ message is He wants the message of salvation and redemption to go out to all the world.  It is their job to spread the ‘good news’ to the world.  He promises to go with them (and us) throughout all the ages to come.

the_great_commissionHave you ever considered that you are God’s plan A?  There is no backup plan for spreading the news of redemption to the world- we are it!  God promises that His word will not return empty or without use, 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.”   God also promises that His will cannot be thwarted, Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Jesus did His part- He came to earth, lived, died on the cross to redeem us and rose from the grave conquering sin and death.  We have our part to do now- tell others about marvelous, amazing, redemptive Jesus!   Since you are part of plan A, whom will you tell today?    Remember there are many ways to tell others about Jesus.  Yes, you need to be able to give a full account of the gospel which according to 1 Peter 3:15, “ but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,   However, you can witness each day to the power of the risen Christ in your life by what you say, how you respond, who you help, what you do for others, how you treat them, etc.  Our lives speak for Jesus along with our mouths.  We can give a word of praise to God for little and big things in our lives and others will hear it.  We can mention a verse of scripture and how it applies to our circumstances, we can offer to pray for a colleague or neighbor who is in need or lend a helping hand without being asked.  There are many ways to show you love Jesus and that He is the driving force behind what you say and do.  All of these witness to His power of redemption.  At any point you are asked, you need to be willing and able to give words to your faith as 1 Peter 3:15 tells us- the reason for your hope.

matt 28 16Be encouraged today and mindful of the position and commission Jesus gave to me and you.  Be bold for the gospel and let the gospel drive you thoughts, actions and words today.

Linda

Living with Confidence, Thank you Jesus

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a life with a godly plan and purpose. This thought brings me great comfort as it means my existence has meaning and I am here for a reason. It also means God has intentions for my life and knowing that God is good means His intentions are always good for me, my life and my growth. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse I claim frequently for reassurance when things seem bleak or unsettling in my life. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I can rest in knowing Sovereign God has a plan and purpose for me and it is all good!

Knowing God’s plan is good, we can cling to that promise in hard times as well as the promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Many say “life just happens” but this verse assures us that is not true. We can rest assured that God’s purpose and design is greater than anything Satan can throw at us. This verse promises God can use all things for our good. Many times we don’t see how at the moment, but God is faithful and eventually we may see how He uses even the very hard things in our lives to teach and grow us for His good.

One last verse for today: 2 Timothy 1:8b-9a “But join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy life -not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” Paul knew that God had a purpose for him, a work that was divinely commissioned just for him and that God would empower him through Christ to do all He had set out for Paul to do. We can know that is true for us as believers, too.

When things are hard- claim any of these three verses in your life. Cling to them and know God is faithful and keeps all His promises.

Linda

Suggestion: Take time to reflect on a hard time or difficult relationship and see how God worked in the circumstances to bring you to a better place or to grow you. Claim one of the above verses over something you are facing and believe God for the results.

4th Sunday of Lent, A Time of Prayer and Praise

40 days is a long time and it is enough time to establish a habit, overcome an adversary or endure a trial.  Do you feel like you are enduring a trying time in your life this Lent?  Then, look to Daniel today and see God from His perspective. Daniel was a Jew who was taken from Jerusalem and deported to Babylon.  He and his friends were smart and resourceful and were a part of the king’s wise men.   The king had a dream and no one seemed to be able to tell him the meaning of it.  He got frustrated and ordered all the ‘wise’ men killed.  Daniel heard about this and ran to tell his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah.  He asked them to pray and ask God for mercy concerning this mystery.  During the night God revealed to Daniel the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  Here is Daniel’s praise to God from Daniel 2:20-23.

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
5067135-Charles-F-Stanley-Quote-As-children-of-a-sovereign-God-we-are21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.

Do you share Daniel’s high view of God? Daniel knew from first hand experience that God was sovereign, all powerful, eternal,  wise, light, and worthy of praise.  Where do you need strength or knowledge today?  Ask Him like Daniel did then praise Him even if-the-god-you-believe-in-is-not-a-sovereign-god-then-you-really-dont-believe-in-godbefore He answers.

Linda

Suggestion:  As you journey through this day, keep Daniel’s prayer of praise in your mind.  When you encounter difficulties, pray immediately and leave it to God.  Then wait expectantly for His answers.

2nd Sunday of Lent, God’s Sovereignty challenges us to see God in everything!

On Sunday’s during Lent, I desire to focus on praising God.  Pondering the Sovereignty of God this morning brought me to my knees as I considered all that God controls, directs, His kept promises and those in the future He will keep, and the fact that nothing surprises God or catches him off guard.  He is ever vigilant and none of His plans can be derailed or thwarted.  The Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, offered a prayer to God in Habakkuk 3.   Let his words of praise and awe wash over you and seep into your soul.  Cling to the sovereignty of God in all your experiences in life and trust Him, the one who knows all, sees all and determines all by His power.  Habakkuk 3:2-4, 17-19

Habakkuk 3 2I have heard all about you, Lord.
    I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
    help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
    remember your mercy.

I see God…
His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,
    and the earth is filled with his praise.
His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise.
    Rays of light flash from his hands,
    where his awesome power is hidden.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,sproul
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights.

Praise Him today for His Sovereignty and trust all that you have and are into His care.

Linda

In-Gods-HandsSuggestion (it’s a challenge):   Knowing that God is sovereign and depending upon God’s sovereignty are vastly different.  Think of something that is coming up for you today or this next week.  Determine now to release that item to God and depend upon and seek His sovereignty over all parts of this task.   Do your part in preparing for the event, but release the outcome to God.  No worrying allowed as you depend solely on His sovereignty. and for God to bring this work to completion for your good and His glory.  Let go and let God!

Enjoy this beautiful song about God’s Sovereignty.

A Struggler’s Confession

I have struggled these first few weeks of January as it seems I can’t get things to run smoothly.  Yesterday I sought solace in God’s Word and Job 42:1-6 brought me comfort.  I was touched by the Message version.

42 1-6 Job answered God:

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.             I’m comforted by God’s 
Nothing and no one can upset your plans.                                              Sovereignty.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
made small talk about wonders way over my head.            I’m talking and not 
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.                                listening.
    Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!          I do know you!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

As I read this passage, I identified with Job.  I too question God’s wisdom and His perfect plan.  I forget that He alone is Sovereign.  I tend to run on about things and not take time to listen to Him in prayer and in the Word.  Thankfully, I do know Him and have experienced God first hand in my life.  I know He is truth and He will fill me with His love and mercy if I turn to Him.

Prayer:  Father, I do know you and trust in your plans for me.  I know who you are and of your love and grace.  You do not do to me what I deserve but shower me with grace and mercy.  Thank you Jesus for loving me and keeping me in the palm of your hand. You shield and comfort me in hard times.  You bring me joy and hope everlasting day after day.  Create in me a clean heart that is focused upon you and not the swirling world around me.  Help me, like Job, to cling to you and your truth with a repentant heart.  Amen.

job 42 2Have a blessed day living in the light provided and protected by Sovereign, Almighty God.

Linda

Possessed by the Savior

The duties of the risen Messiah are foretold in Psalm 2:7-9.  I chose the Amplified version to give us some additional help in understanding these words included in the Messiah.

psalm 2 7 “I will declare the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son;
This day [I proclaim] I have begotten You.

‘Ask of Me, and I will assuredly give [You] the nations as Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth as Your possession.

‘You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall shatter them [in pieces] like earthenware.’”

Paul quotes verse 7 in his impassioned preaching to the Jews in Antioch recorded in Acts 13:32-33.  He was describing Jesus as the awaited and prophesied Messiah.  And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’”  God claims Jesus as Son and establishes His right to rule over all the earth.   The author of Hebrews also includes verse 7 when referring to Christ’s God given superiority over all angelic beings.   He rightly includes all beings in heaven and earth will worship the Son.  Hebrews 1:5-6  “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?  Or again,  “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.

What do these prophecies mean to us? Our Savior and Lord is God’s Son and will rule over all creation both in heaven and on earth.  This is not wishful thinking by God but presented as fact that His Son will rule as King.  God gives each of us to His Son as a precious possession.  Ephesians 1:14 refers to all believers as belonging to Christ and being sealed by His Holy Spirit.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, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Peter also refers to believers as being a special possession of Christ’s  special possessionin 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.”   Peter reminds us we are called to proclaim Jesus as we have seen His light and were called out of unbelief.

christmasLet us praise our risen King and all He accomplished on our behalf as we consider the babe in the manger.   I love the description of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”  Thank you Jesus.

Linda 

The 4th Sunday of Advent-worship and be blessed!

Psalm 2 is highlighted in the Messiah as it pointed to Jesus.  It foretells how the nations would conspire against Jesus to condemn Him, but even their plotting and actions were used by God for our good and the redemption of all mankind.                                                       Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed,

job42-2All the raging of nations, the shouting of atheists and the persecution of believers are all vain threats against the Lord and His plans.  Job spoke with confidence in Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Isaiah 8:10 reveals God’s plans against the warring Assyrians.  Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand,  for God is with us.   

Do you have the confidence Job and Isaiah showed about who God is and what power He possesses?  Think about Christmas and the miracle of Jesus’ birth, the sovereignty of God shown in all the prophecies being exactly fulfilled at the exact right time in history.  In the spirit of God’s sovereignty, claim Jeremiah 29:11 for your own life knowing and trusting God and His will.  “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.” 

psalm 2 11I love the way Psalm 2 ends with verses 11-12.                 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Serve, fear-revere, rejoice, kiss Jesus (adore Him) then be ready to receive His blessings as you cling to Him.  Have a blessed Sunday worshiping the Lord!

Linda

I AM the Lord of All the earth

Joshua crossin JordanMost people who have opened a Bible or been exposed as a young child have heard of the miraculous parting of the Red Sea.   Many more have seen the movie ‘Exodus’ about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt with Pharaoh hot on their trail.   Today’s blog is about our miraculous God who again parted waters for the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering.  Joshua 3 tells of the nation of Israel, led by Joshua, poised to enter Canaan but needing to cross the Jordan River.  It was flood season so the river was raging.  The Lord of All the earth told Joshua to have the priests carry the arc of the covenant in front. “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan.” Joshua 3:11 (The arc was very sacred and contained the 10 Commandment tablets, a jar of manna and Aaron’s budding rod.  It was covered with gold and had 2 cherubim on top with wings spread creating the mercy seat.  It was carried on poles through rings by the priests and no one touched it.)  When the priests got to the edge of the raging Jordan and touched the water,  the waters parted.  And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” Joshua 3:13   Just as the Lord had said, when the priests got to the water and started in, the waters piled up on the flowing side so they could cross over. and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”Joshua 3:15-17  

I love the image here of the priests carrying the arc going first then stopping in the middle to let the people pass.  When all the Israelites had passed by then the arc was brought to the other side.  It reminds us that the Lord of All the earth goes before us preparing the way, is with us during our day and then comes behind to protect us.  God promises us, just like He did Joshua,  that he will be with us always and we need to be strong and courageous day by day.  Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The Lord of All the earth has all the elements of this world under His command.  He is sovereign and all-powerful.  Where do you need the Lord of All the earth to go with you today?  Remember He went before you to ready the day, will be with you all day and He will have your back.  There are 3 promises from Isaiah I want to leave you with today as you think about the power and majesty of the Lord of All the earth.  Isaiah 49: 16 “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;  your walls are continually before me.”   Isaiah 49:23b “Then you will know that I am the Lord;  those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:25b “for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.”   The Lord of All the earth knows me, has me engraved on the palm of His hands, will not disappoint and will fight for me.   Be encouraged to day. 

Linda

I AM the Most High God

el elyonThe name Most High God is used frequently in  both the Old and New Testaments.  The Hebrew word is El Elyon.  Beginning in Genesis the mysterious priest Melchizedek recognizes that Abraham is blessed by the God Most High. and blessed be God Most High,  who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” Genesis 14:20   David frequently spoke of God as the Most High God in his Psalms.  He proclaims where God lives, His ability to hear him, that God was his redeemer and that there is no god greater than God.  Psalm 46:4 “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,  the holy habitation of the Most High.  Psalm 57:2 “I cry out to God Most High,  to God who fulfills his purpose for me.”  Psalm 78:35 ” They remembered that God was their rock,  the Most High God their redeemer.”  Psalm 97:9 “For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;  you are exalted far above all gods.”    Daniel tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar was brought low and then restored when he acknowledged the power of the Most High God.  Daniel 5:21 “He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.”  

Son of most highIn the New Testament, the angel that appeared to Mary proclaimed the arrival of the Son of the Most High God, Luke 1:32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David.”   The demons recognized Jesus’ deity and power calling him the Son of the Most High God in Luke 8:28 “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.”  In Acts the demon possessed girl that followed Paul and Silas recognized that the Most High God indwelt and spoke through them about salvation.  Acts 16:17 “She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

What about me?  Do I proclaim that God is above all gods?  Do I believe He is indeed the God Most High?  Do you consider yourself a child of the Most High God?      Meditate on Psalm 84: 10-12Thank Him for being the God Most High in your life and for saving you to dwell with Him forever.                                                           

For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.
12 Lord of hosts,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Most High GodHave a blessed day as you walk with the Most High God!

Linda

God’s way through troubled times

In today’s portion of Psalm 119 verses 81-88, we get a snapshot of a believer clinging to God’s Word and his faith in Almighty God to help him weather the storms of life.  At times he seems overwhelmed and defeated by his oppressors.                                                  I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
    but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.
    When will you comfort me?
83 I am shriveled like a wine skin in the smoke,
    but I have not forgotten to obey your decrees.          

catHe seems discouraged yet has hope in God and His promises!  I get the picture in my mind of the cat hanging on by his tiny paws- ‘hanging in there’.    He is being persecuted by unbelievers and pleads with God for stamina to resist and knows God alone can protect him.   The unbelievers in his life are scoffing at God’s Word and lay traps to ensnare him.  Do you feel that way sometimes? Do unbelievers think you foolish to study God’s Word and believe the Bible?                                                                                              How long must I wait?
    When will you punish those who persecute me?
85 These arrogant people who hate your instructions
    have dug deep pits to trap me.
86 All your commands are trustworthy.  
    Protect me from those who hunt me down without cause.

He ends this section with praise and hope in Almighty God who he knows in his heart will sustain and keep him.  He knows God loves him.  God will keep His promises so he clings to them in obedience.                                                                                                             They almost finished me off,
    but I refused to abandon your commandments.
88 In your unfailing love, spare my life;
    then I can continue to obey your laws.

No matter how things look in this world the psalmist knows that God loves him and is in control.  He is Sovereign, Loving and the only one who can save him.  How about you?  Do you know the Sovereign God of the universe who loves you beyond measure?  Call upon Him today and He will answer.  God tells us in Micah 6:8 what He requires of us.   “He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God? ”   

micah-6-8May you walk in obedience today with Jesus by your side and His Holy Spirit in your heart knowing He alone is Sovereign and will guide you through this troubled world. Walking with God is a matter of faith and obedience, He promises to never leaves us nor forsakes us!

Clinging to Jesus all day long,

Linda