Holy Week, Monday-Where’s Jesus?

Bible Commentaries give two specific events that Jesus was involved in on Monday before His crucifixion of what is now known as Holy Week.  Jesus entered the city humbly and triumphantly on Sunday and then cleansed the temple area of money changers and withered a fig tree.  Both actions seem harsh, but they give a picture of the worldly opposition to God’s kingdom.  From both we get a glimpse of divine justice.  You can read the accounts in Matthew 21 and Mark 11.

Jerusalem at Passover was a bustling city with many thousands of pilgrims arriving to make offerings at the temple.  They needed to purchase animals for sacrifice and change money so they could pay the yearly temple tax.  The exchanges were all being conducted in the outer court of the Gentiles.  Here is Matthew’s account from 21:12-14.

12-14 Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer;
You have made it a hangout for thieves.

Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.  (Message)

Jesus was then, is now and will be in eternity the Righteous Judge.  He saw the true motives of the people desiring to make money exorbitantly and uprooted and cast them out literally.  He placed a priority on prayer and worship when coming to God’s house.  He got right to the work of His ministry, healing and allowing access to God for everyone.

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As we near the cross, take heart from this short snippet in Jesus’ last week. Know that He came to save and set right relationships and motives towards God.  What attitudes do you need adjusted by Jesus today?  Do you attend church to make ‘connections’ with people for business or do you come to pray and reflect on your walk with Jesus?  Looking at the heart is what Jesus did then and does now in our lives through the Holy Spirit.  Let Him cleanse your heart today and put you on the right pathway with right motives.  May our hearts be right with God today as suggested in this quote by Charles Wesley “Make My Heart a House of Prayer”.  

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, God is accessible to me through prayer and I can trust in His righteousness. I can claim the truths of Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Thank you Jesus for making yourself accessible through prayer, your unsurpassed peace for my heart, and for your redemptive sacrifice.

Linda

Your Roots, what do they cling to?

Paul continues to voice his concern for the Colossian Christians as he does not want them to be led astray by persuasive arguments of those in opposition to Christ. He wants them to know he is with them in spirit and desires they resist and stand firm in their faith. Colossians 2:4-8 “I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”

I love Paul’s straight forward way of talking about our need to be aware and on guard towards those that would seek to lead us astray into thoughts that are empty and meaningless. He zeros in on what we have in Christ in verse 7. Let your faith grow roots and have them firmly planted in Christ. Build your faith on Him, then it will be on a firm, resolute and unshakable foundation. This foundation is explained in Ephesians 2:19-22 “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 3:11 puts it very plainly, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”

Paul says the result of building our life on Christ and His truth is that our lives will then overflow with thankfulness. When we grasp the inheritance, love, forgiveness, and freedom that we have in Christ we will be eternally grateful. Paul wrote to young Timothy that coming to faith in Christ did exactly that for him. 1 Timothy 1:12-14 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Are you overflowing with grace and love because of your faith in Christ? Are you rooted and grounded in your faith? This is not something you get quickly but it grows over time as you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. The sanctification process of becoming more and more like Jesus begins at the moment of belief and continues growing throughout our life. It is truly a life changing process made possible only in Christ. Christ Alone is the reason for our change. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be rooted and grounded in Christ producing a life that is abundant and filled to overflowing with thanksgiving, hope and love. Choose Christ so you can stand steadfast and resolute as things change all around you and be overflowing with thankfulness.

Linda

Today’s blog is a milestone for me. By God’s grace I have written and posted 1,000 blog entries. It has been a growing process that has increased my faith and clarified my thinking about Christ. I can agree with Paul that standing on a firm foundation which is set in Christ Jesus fills my heart with overflowing gratitude and joy. Thank you Jesus for your love and sacrifice on my behalf!

Thankful prayers result in Peace

As is Paul’s custom, he begins his letter to the Colossian Christians with prayers of thanksgiving.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, Colossian 1:3-4

Is thankfulness your first response when you consider your friends of faith? Are you able to focus on how God is using them in His work and thank God for their presence in your life? In Philippians 4:6, Paul puts it this way, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” As we pray for those people in our lives, God wants us focused on being thankful and then asking Him for direction and guidance in our life. Paul wanted to express his thanks to God for these faithful, grace filled co-workers that lived in Colossae. This group of new believers had a special place in his heart as they showed their faith and love actively to other believers. They were living out Jesus command in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As you begin this Lenten journey, who do you have in your life that you are thankful for? Give Thanks. Who do you serve with at your church or other Christian organizations that you are thankful for their working with you in the cause of Christ? Give Thanks. Who is in the need of prayer? Give Thanks that you can support them in prayer. I cling to the truth in Philippians 4:7. Praying with thankful hearts brings God’s peace and will focus us upon Jesus. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can pray with a thank-filled heart and experience the love of Jesus in my life through and with other believers.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 13: Hope in a nutshell of verses

Today’s focus for thankfulness comes from Psalm 46:1-3. In my book, Promises for Dynamic Living, I used these verses on the printed bookmark that accompanied the book. These verses never cease to bring thankfulness, awe and extreme encouragement to my soul.

“God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Why am I always encouraged? Because, God is my refuge and strength. God is with me 24/7, ever-present. God is greater than any circumstance I will ever face, even if it looks like everything is falling apart. Knowing that God has my back allows me to move forward in life without fear. Trusting in God eliminates the threat of fear and fills me with hope, reassurance and peace.

Why am I in awe? Because, who am I that God would love, protect and care for me in all circumstances? Knowing I am loved and cared for by my heavenly Father brings joy to my soul.

Why am I thankful? Because, I have God as my protector and nothing can befall me that will leave me alone and forgotten by God. He is always with me and has this world in His control.

These verses are true cause for encouragement, awe, and thanksgiving. May they lead you towards greater thankfulness for the power and might of our loving God.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 11: Remember with gratitude

Today is Veteran’s Day in America. It is a day to remember those who have died fighting for freedom for our country and for those that are living and serve or have served in the military. It is a day of remembrance and thanksgiving for the end of a brutal war, WWI, on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour when the armistice was signed in 1918. It was originally called Armistice Day but the name was changed by Congress in 1954 to Veteran’s Day.

Why remember? Throughout scripture we are told to remember the things God has done so we don’t forget His goodness, so we can be more diligent about our faith and the way we live, so we can gain appreciation and love for God and His faithfulness towards us. The same could apply to remembering our brave veterans. Jesus said in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” We owe our Veterans, both the living and the dead, a debt of gratitude and thanks for their sacrifices on our behalf. They do not even know me and were willing to put their lives at risk for all of us. I am humbled by their service and dedication.

Who do you know that you can thank and honor today? Maybe a friend, a neighbor or loved one serves or has served. Take time to say a word of thanks, send them a card or email, text them…. Let your thanks be put into action as you seek to express your gratitude.

Gratitude from the heart is honoring to God,

Linda

Thankfulness Day 7: God’s grace and mercy

It could be said that attitude and actions are an essential part of our walk of faith. Our attitude and actions towards God and our fellow man show the true nature of our faith. In today’s verses, Jonah has had a readjustment of his attitude towards God and it has changed his future course in life.

Jonah realized placing his faith in worthless things, including his own pursuits and desires, was futile. The only hope he had was in the Lord who always brings salvation. He was now willing to shout and proclaim with a thankful voice that God is the Lord. What about you? Are you like Jonah experiencing an attitude adjustment caused by circumstances of your own making? Are you running from God or trying to put up barriers to protect yourself? Jonah turned back to God with thankful heart.

God told Jonah to go to pagan Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. Jonah did not want to go so he decided to run. He caught a ship leaving port and got onboard. They were stuck by a terrible storm and Jonah revealed to the crew he was running away from God and told them to toss him overboard. In the depths to the sea, he was swallowed by a big fish. After 3 days in the belly of the big fish, he prayed to God with a repentant heart. The circumstances reshaped his thinking and attitudes and lead him to pray as he realized it was wrong to run and to not do what the God he believed in asked him to do. His willful attitude was changed. Jonah 2:8-9 “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

God showed his grace and mercy to Jonah by saving him. He deserved to be lost at sea, BUT GOD saved him. Do you see God’s grace in your life today? Jonah responded with thanksgiving and praise. Will you praise Him with a thankful heart today for how God has rescued you? Take heart from Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” and Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”

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Thank you Jesus for saving me and changing the course of my life. Will you join me in thanksgiving and praise for God changing the course of your life?

Linda

Thankfulness Day 6: God’s Word has Absolute, Eternal Truths

1 Peter 1:23-25 has a powerful message for us today. Peter was writing in this chapter about our Living Hope, which is Jesus, and he calls us in faith to live holy lives. He concludes his message with these powerful words. “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,  and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

God promises that my new imperishable life in Christ comes from a living, eternal savior. God also promises that His Word will never fade or fail but will stand forever, our eternal truth. We live in a world that is constantly changing in complexity and variability. Nothing is absolute in our world. But God is saying that His Word is eternal and the truths we find there are absolutely true, unchanging for all eternity. What a comfort that brings to our volatile lives. God and His Word are absolute truths we can count on now and forever. That is indeed good news!

Take heart from these words and their truths. Let the absolute truth of God’s Word and His eternal promises create in you a spirit of true thanksgiving today. Good news brings smiles, hope and thanksgiving that come from knowing God and trusting in His Word.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 3: I’m His for sure!

Do you know your friend’s favorite verse? It would be one they mention often. One of the verses in today’s passage is my friend’s favorite and I can’t hear it without thinking of her and the truth contained in the verse. Just as the verses say all believers were given to Jesus by God the Father, her love of this verse is a gift to me.

John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” There are so many truths in this passage about Jesus that bring hope and assurance to all who follow Him. I have underlined my friend’s favorite verses. The truth contained in them is amazing. Once we belong to Jesus no one or nothing can take us away from Him. God the Father will not allow it. We are His eternally and can live with that assurance each day of our life. That creates in me a sense of thankfulness, peace, hope and reassurance that God in sovereign, all powerful and is greater than anything or anyone or any circumstance I can ever face.

Let the hope and peace of this truth fill you with thankfulness today. God is worthy of all our praise and thanksgiving.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 2: Forgiveness brings Hope

Knowing that God hears me when I call out to Him gives me great assurance in this troubled world, but knowing I’m forgiven gives me peace and hope. Today’s verse is Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,  and I will not remember your sins.” Scripture tells us that when God forgives He does it completely and puts it out of His sight (Micah 7:19 into the depths of the sea, Isaiah 38:17 behind His back) and will not remember or hold them against us ever again (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)

Why is this important? God is holy and cannot look upon, tolerate or live with sin. Man is born with a sin nature and the only remedy for cleaning us up is to be covered in Christ’s righteous blood through faith in His atoning work on the cross and resurrection. As this verse states, God provided Jesus to atone for our sin for His sake so He could look upon us, and we could have restored fellowship with Holy God. Knowing that God completely forgives me when I seek His forgiveness is so reassuring. Knowing that He forgives and will not hold my sins against me ever again gives me peace of mind. To experience that assurance and peace, I need to regularly confess my sins and seek communion with God through His Word and in prayer. He desires that I know and love Him just as He knows and loves me.

Let the truth of Isaiah 43:25 speak to you today. Let God’s promise of forgiveness give you hope and create in you a greater thankfulness towards your loving, merciful God.

Stand on His promise of forgiveness with thanksgiving in your heart.

Linda

November, Reasons for Thankfulness, Day 1

This month I will be endeavoring to focus on verses that give us spiritual truths about God that lead us toward a greater sense of thankfulness. It is my prayer that through greater thankfulness we will see how God meets our every need, even or especially during this time of pandemic and social unrest. God has brought to my mind new verses I discovered last year in a study of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 33:2-3 in the Amplified translation “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is His name, Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’

This is a truth from God’s Word that I can cling to as I seek to live for Him. God promises to reveal things to me from His Word, through my experiences, through prayer and through other believers. He wants me to understand who He is so I can hold onto His promises and truths more tightly. He wants me to trust and rely upon Him to guide me each day. This truth about God and how He desires for me to know Him, creates in me a great sense of Thankfulness. Who am I that the God of the universe would desire to know me? What a privilege it is to know God, even the little bit I know and feel. Through His indwelling Spirit, I can see God more clearly and understand better what He has for me to do as I walk with Him.

May this truth from Jeremiah 33:3 cause you to call upon Him in prayer and open His Word so He can speak to you personally. Let this create in you a spirit of thanksgiving, assurance, hope and love for God as you open your heart to Him.

Linda