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

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

All-Knowing God provides Victory!

daniel 2 20Daniel 2:20-23 gives Daniel’s praise to God after having received the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.   Daniel and all the wise men of the kingdom were going to be killed if the meaning of the King’s dream was not revealed.   Upon receiving the King’s death threat, Daniel went to his believing friends in the palace and asked them to pray concerning this mystery asking God to reveal the meaning of the King’s dream so they might be saved.  Here is Daniel’s response after God revealed the dream’s meaning to him in a vision.      Daniel answered and said:

“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;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
    and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
    for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

Daniel begins by praising God for who He is- the Sovereign Eternal God of the universe with all things, people and circumstances within His control.  He praised God’s knowledge and wisdom and His ability to reveal things to those who love Him.   He praised God’s purity, and that in Him there is no darkness.  Daniel thanks God for revealing His wisdom to Him and for letting him know what the King’s dream was about, thereby saving him.

who-is-godDo you know who God is?  Do you praise Him for His glorious character  and for how He has kept all His promises?   Try incorporating  praise for who God is into your prayers today.  List His attributes so you can think about Him as you pray.   The more we love and know God the greater our trust in Him will be.

Linda

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.