I Stand Amazed at God’s Mercy, 5th Sunday of Lent

Lent is a time for reflection about our own sinfulness and prayer and thankfulness for God’s mercy. One of my most precious verses is Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. As you meditate on the truths from Colossians we uncovered this week, let your heart turn to Him in thankfulness. We have so much because of God’s mercy and Christ’s willingness to die for us.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I can know Christ, be indwelt by His Holy Spirit and have a relationship with Almighty God through the power of Christ Alone! Colossians 2:16-19 “So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ. 18-19 Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.”

I am affirmed in Christ and can ask for His guidance and wisdom from His Word. Colossians 2:20-23 “You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”

I can have a new nature with a new mindset as I seek to live for Him each day. Colossians 3:1-2 “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”

I have a life with Christ that is assured, protected and expectant as I await His return! Colossians 3:3-4 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory”.

I have the power of Christ within guiding me to act in a manner that is pleasing to God for my good and His glory! Colossians 3:5-8 “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.

I can seek to love others wholeheartedly and impartially. Colossians 3:9-11. “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”

Here is our Psalm of Praise for this week,

Psalm 103:1-6 Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Have a blessed Sunday that is filled with Praises!

Linda

Lent 2021. Please join me as I journey through Colossians

This year the Lord has led me to the book of Colossians for my meditations and writing. This New Testament Letter is short, only 4 chapters, but is powerfully packed with words of strength that we so desperately need in our daily walk with Christ. The passages will give us assurance of our salvation, the work and person of Jesus Christ and the sovereignty of God. This letter was penned by the Apostle Paul and was believed to have been written during his first imprisonment in Rome. He wrote all of the Prison letters (Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon) during this time.

Where was Colossae? This town was located in Asia Minor in present day Turkey. It was a smaller town on a river and lay on the trade route between the Aegean Sea and the Euphrates River. The neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis were larger. You might remember the church in Laodicea is mentioned in Revelation. It was the church chastised by Christ as being lukewarm-neither hot nor cold in faith. (See map at the bottom)

Why a letter? When Paul was in Ephesus, he lead a young man named Epaphras to know Christ. Later, Epaphras left Ephesus and went to Colossae. He led several people to the Lord and began a church plant there. Later, the Colossian Christians were struggling and were under theological attack so Epaphras journeyed to Rome to see Paul. Paul, who had never been to Colossae, wrote this encouraging, insightful letter seeking to ‘set their thinking right’ and point them to the one and only Lord Jesus.

I pray that our journey through Colossians will help us to focus on the cross, the sacrifice and the hope we have in Jesus. Also, that the scripture will cause us to pause, think, meditate and pray about our own need to repent and walk daily with Jesus. Here is a key verse in Colossians 2:13 for us to look forward to that shows us what Christ did for us! You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

Thank you for coming with me. I look forward to the lessons and truths that we will uncover in scripture that will enrich our lives and walk with Jesus. Because Christ died on the cross and rose again, I have the ability to repent and be forgiven! Praise God and thank you Jesus!

Linda

Thankfulness Day 27: What a deal we got through Jesus!

I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’.  It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’.  It began as a term used to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians.  It then became a day term retailers used to signify when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased.   In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.  Luke 23:44-46   The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me.  His death on that darkest day brought the greatest profit for us.  John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen.  “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

risen

Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath.  Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they hurried to get Jesus down from the cross,  buried and settled in a borrowed tomb.  Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste.  After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday.  “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”  Mark 16:1  Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as they learned of Jesus’ resurrection and his defeat of sin and death.  An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  What joyous news they had to share!

colossians 1 ;21

That blackest Friday brought death and burial to Jesus but brought the greatest profit to you and me.  Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it.  “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”    That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history.  Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven.   We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God and that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin.  That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.

During these COVID times you may not be venturing out physically but think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him and Give thanks for His sacrifice that brings the greatest gains-salvation, eternal life, His indwelling Holy Spirit, heaven, godly character, a relationship with God, resistance to temptation, purpose in life…..- to you and me!

Linda

Final Sunday of Lent 2020, amidst the Palms

Palm Sunday 2020Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, the day of  Jesus’ return to Jerusalem.  His reception was loud and colorful with waving palms, cloaks on the ground, shouting, chanting of praises and Jesus riding on a humble donkey.  It was the conclusion of three years of public ministry that ended in His death on the cross on Friday.  However, all was not lost as He miraculously rose from the dead and appeared on Easter morning just as He said He would.   His ‘life’s ride’ on earth was a wild one filled with compassion, love, obedience and sacrifice for us.   As we enter this Holy Week let us ponder anew how we personally have felt His compassion and love in our lives.  How we have benefited from His obedience to the cross and the sacrifice of His life for ours.   We have much to be thankful for, even in the hardest of times.  Only you can answer today’s sentence,  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am or can_____________________.

Some time today read one or more of the Palm Sunday Triumphal entry passages:  Matthew 21:1-11,  Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-38, John 12:12-15.

Here is the summary from this weeks passages in Ephesians.  We meditated on Ephesians 5:21-6:14Think about:  **Which truth have you seen in your life this week? **Which is the most meaningful to you in your life right now?

  • we can live lives submitted to one another in love that mirror Christ’s love for us. Ephesians 5:21-33
  • we (both parent and child) are able to submit to one another with love and respect. Ephesians 6:1-4
  • we can show God’s love and care whether we are the employer or employee bringing glory to God and blessings upon ourselves.  Ephesians 6:5-9
  • we are able to battle against unseen forces through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 6:10-12
  • I can be filled with His Holy Spirit and protected by His armor to face the challenges of each day.   Ephesians 6:13
  • I can have godly character that is based on His truth and righteousness.  Ephesians 6:14

Personally, the truth from Ephesians 6:10-11 reminded me of the unseen forces of evil that we face each day.  This truth really resonated with me, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic.  It is something I never envisioned and pray fervently that God will cause the virus to be contained and that the evil effects would be lessened.  We need to humble ourselves and pray for His mercy.    The most meaningful truth this week that brings me real encouragement is from Ephesians 6:14, that I can have godly character if I am rooted and grounded in the truth of Christ and put on His righteousness.  It is an eternal hope filled with promise.  In Christ, I can be a new creation.

Palm Sunday vectorHave a Blessed Palm Sunday.

Linda

Travel with me to Ephesus this Lent

IMG_3519
Ancient forum and roadway where Paul would have walked and preached.

Walk with me during Lent through the book of Ephesians as we meditatively think about all that we have and are in Christ.   Let’s look at the unity of the body of believers growing there as Paul preached and taught for 2 years.  Later John also came to Ephesus and lived among the believers.  We will see the aspects of who we are in Christ, what place the body of believers called the church is to God and finish with the wonderful words about the armor available to us in Christ.  Each day we will see the amazing provisions and position we have because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead.

As we begin this Ash Wednesday, let’s look at Ephesians 1:1-2.  Paul introduces himself in the letter, tells who he’s writing to and pronounces a preliminary greeting that is typical of his writing.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Put yourself in Ephesus and become one of the believers who received this letter from the Apostle Paul.  He is addressing you as a saint, a faithful believer and he is sending greetings of grace and peace from God.  Do you think of yourself as a saint?  The New Testament repeatedly refers to believers as ‘saints’.  He also attributes faithfulness to their walk of faith.  How would you describe your daily walk with Jesus?  Are you faithful?  Paul also sends you grace,  which is God’s unmerited favor,  and His peace.  What precious gifts these are.  How will you use or experience God’s favor today?  Will you rest in His peace?   As Ephesians opens we see that because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be His saints and faithfully, walk in His grace and experiencing His peace.  Praise God!

Walk with me towards the cross, contemplating our sinfulness and His blameless character.  Join me in daily meditation and prayer for these coming 40 days of repentance and focus on who God desires us to be because of Jesus and His sacrifice.

IMG_3522
Paul would have stood on the library steps surrounded by enormous stone work, telling of the might and power of Jesus.

Let’s journey towards the cross together.

Linda

Lent- let it begin with my heart, mind and soul

Lent is a time of reflection, fasting, praise, worship and thanksgiving as we walk daily towards the cross.  The number 40 is used in the Bible to signify a time of testing and trial.  During your Lenten journey which is from today, Ash Wednesday, to Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross, we are to think about the price Jesus paid for our sins through His own death.  How we do that can take many forms.  Daily devotions with prayer and scripture, fasting for a meal or even a whole day can bring your focus on Jesus to a greater height.  Or you can choose to let go of something you really like to do, say or eat as a form of penance or identification with Christ’s suffering for you and your Pope Lentsin.  Last year, I found this quote from Pope Francis and it brought a new perspective to fasting during Lent.  It isn’t just denying myself chocolate or alcohol,  it is denying myself in other ways.  I love his suggestions to fast from stress and pressure by being intentionally more prayerful, or letting go of bitterness and focusing on love.

Today as you think about Christ and His suffering and the price He paid for your sins- think about ways you can honor Him in the next 40 days.  Each day at the end of my devotion I will have a suggestion of what you might do that day to honor Christ by doing for others in love as Christ did for you at the cross.   My daily blogs will focus on what we have in Christ because Jesus died on the cross and rose again.  I pray that my blogs and suggestions will help you to gain greater love and appreciation for your Lord and Savior and be prepared in your heart, mind and soul when Good Friday and Easter arrive.

Let the journey begin today in your heart as you set your mind towards the cross.

Linda

Suggestion:  attend an Ash Wednesday service or spend some time reflecting on your own sins.  Take a piece of paper and write them down.  Then take that paper place it before you as you pray and ask God to take those sins away and fill you anew with His love and devotion.  Symbolically placing your sins on the cross of Christ helps us to see that He died for me and my sins. Romans 5:8 “But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”