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 

Heartfelt Proverbs

Proverbs has a lot to say about the heart.  Sometimes the truth is given directly like in Proverbs 24:1-2  “Be not envious of evil men,  nor desire to be with them,  for their hearts devise violence,  and their lips talk of trouble” and Proverbs 6:14 describes a wicked man’s heart, with perverted heart devises evil,  continually sowing discord.”  Very often the proverbs are given with a contrast between the good heart and the bad and seek to teach or instruct us about our hearts.   Proverbs 28:14  “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always,  but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. “  The writer of Proverbs was wise and desired us to know how God views the heart of man and that God would not just be an observer in our lives.  Proverbs 21:2  “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”  Proverbs 17:3 “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”  

Proverbs also teaches how our hearts can and do please or displease God.  Proverbs 15:13-15 speaks of the cheerful, seeking heart and how a sorrow can crush the spirit of our heart.   “A glad heart makes a cheerful face,  but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. 14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.  15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.”   Proverbs 14:30 speaks of the effects of calm and envy on the heart.   A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,   but envy makes the bones rot.”  In Proverbs 6:16-19 we are given a list of things God hates that really displease Him. There are six things that the Lord hates,  seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.”

How do these ‘heart’ proverbs speak to you today?  Is your heart cheerful and calm or do you have times when you feel discord, disharmony or evil?  Because of the root of sin in our hearts, we need to continually submit our hearts to the Lord for His continual transformation.   I love Proverbs 22:11 “He who loves purity of heart,  and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.”  I do want King Jesus as my friend so I need to submit to daily cleansing at His feet in prayer.   Won’t you join me today?

proverbs 22Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you know the true nature of my heart.  Root out the evil ways in me and replace them with your love, grace and mercy.  Give me compassion and love for others that comes out of a grateful heart.  Create in me a clean heart that desires to please you.  Amen.

Seeking to serve with a humble and contrite heart,

Linda

The True Nature of our Hearts vs God’s Power = Victory in Jesus

God knows the true nature and intentions of our hearts.  Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees as they had observed the disciples eating food without washing or cleaning of their hands.  The Jewish law required certain observances before eating for yourself and the food.  Jesus called them hypocrites in Mark 7 saying they were more concerned about the outward appearances and not about the heart’s intent.  His disciples questioned him after this encounter.   And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,22 coveting, wickedness deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”  Mark 7:18-23

Lord looks at heartJesus knew the heart of man is where the problems lie.  The Pharisee’s desired to destroy Jesus out of greed, envy, jealousy and hatred.  It had nothing to do with eating ‘unclean food’ with ‘unclean hands’.  Jesus knows our hearts too.  He knows our true motives and desires.  Our hearts are bent toward self-gratification, self-glory, self-power and self-adulation.  It comes from a heart that is not right with God.  An old hymn calls it a sin sick heart that is in need of saving, cleaning and setting right before God.   We can not deny the true nature of our hearts but we can bring our hearts to God and allow Him to transform and make our hearts clean before Him.  Jesus gave us this new way to reconciliation with God.  Hebrews 10:21-23 describes this power, “21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God (Jesus), 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”   Jesus can clean our hearts and minds.  Then we can hold to our faith with assurance and hope!  He can and will root out the evil intentions of our hearts with His indwelling Holy Spirit and mold and shape us to His will and His ways.  First, we need to be cleaned by faith in Jesus’ work on the cross (death and resurrection) and then willing to be molded and shaped by His Holy Spirit.  God’s transformation is complete and 2Corinthians5.17permanent.  He replaces the old desires with new desires 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls us a new creation,  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”   Praise God for His transforming power!

Praising Jesus and His power to make me new!

Linda

True Freedom

Freedom-DaysI want to wish each of you a Happy 4th.  The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with family BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks.  But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us.  America and the freedom it represents and holds for each of us was bought with a price- sacrifice, hope and struggle by those that went before us and those that labored to secure our freedom.  Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure,defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children.  We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society.  Is this possible? Actually I believe it is not possible without Christ.  He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.

Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1.  Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own: you have been bought at  price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”   Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Christ  died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him.  The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  He bought us with a price, his life.  He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death.  My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.

I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity.   Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone.  He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.

freedomToday as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.

Thankful today,

Linda

Faith=treasure, truth, peace and knowledge of God

care-trustAs the psalmist nears the end of his lengthy outpouring of praises and petitions to God in Psalm 119:161-168, he lays bare before God his struggles with persecutors.  He relies upon God’s Word and character to uphold him.  Powerful people harass me without cause,  but my heart trembles only at your word.   I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.“(161-2)  He knows that God’s Word contains power to overcome and sustain.  He considers it a treasure.  He also discovered that as he called upon God throughout the day he received peace and had strength to face the tough circumstances he encountered. ” I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just.  Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble. (164-5)  The psalmist concludes with what he knows about God.  He is the one who saves.  I long for your rescue, Lordso I have obeyed your commands.” (166)   God knows him intimately and loves his obedience. Yes, I obey your commandments and laws  because you know everything I do.” (168)  

Is God’s Word a treasure for you? Do you gain power to overcome by reading and meditating upon it’s truths?  Do you pray throughout the day reminding yourself of the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit?  Do you find peace? Do you obey and trust God because you know His character?  Do you know that He knows you personally?   Can you join the psalmist in obedience to God’s Word because of who He is and what He does?  The psalmist trusted God in all things and called upon Him throughout his day in faith.  Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 and 6 “Faith shows the reality of faith tells mewhat we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”   Making God real involves faith in who He is and what He has done for us in Jesus.  Pleasing God involves seeking Him and accepting the gift of faith in Jesus.  He promises sincere seeking will be rewarded by faith.

Walking by faith in God and His Word is the psalmists answer to life’s problems, may it be mine also.

Linda

Why the tears?

Psalm 119:129-136 opens with praise and awe over the amazing depth of God’s Word.  Your laws are wonderful.
    No wonder I obey them!
130 The teaching of your word gives light,
    so even the simple can understand.   So many times I have heard people say that the Bible is too hard to understand.  Here the psalmist is declares that even the young or less trained can understand.  How is that possible?   Understanding comes from God, so with prayer, meditation, the right translation and through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit believers can read and understand that which God has for them in His Word.  
131 I pant with expectation,
    longing for your commands.
132 Come and show me your mercy,
    as you do for all who love your name.   The psalmist looks with great expectation into God’s Word.  He is looking for mercy and love.  These are tangible confirmations of faith for him.  When you read God’s Word, do you read with expectation?  Do you look for His mercy and love?  Think back, when you read the Bible do you find that you are filled with peace, understanding and hope?  Have you ever opened its pages seeking advice or help or comfort?  The psalmist has faith that God will answer his needs and then provide him with direction.
133 Guide my steps by your word,
    so I will not be overcome by evil.
134 Ransom me from the oppression of evil people;
    then I can obey your commandments.   He trusts in the guidance of God and knows titus 2 14that the Word will lead him to victory.  He claims God as his guide and redeemer!  He refers to being ransomed or bought back from evil.  This is what Christ did for us.  In Paul’s letter to Titus he puts it this way, “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:14
135 Look upon me with love;
    teach me your decrees.    The psalmist trusts God to look upon him with love.  He knows that God is immutable and will always be loving, slow to anger and filled with compassion.  He looks for teaching from God as he trusts God.
136 Rivers of tears gush from my eyes
    because people disobey your instructions.  The last lines of this section of Psalm 119 really spoke to me.  The psalmist is proclaiming to God that he is distressed to the point of tears over those who disobey and reject God’s Word.  I asked myself, does the psalm 119 136rejection of the truth of God’s Word and His ways bring me to tears?  Do I sorry for those that do not believe or those that profess to believe and do not live by the standards God desires?  If I am  brought to tears, then my response should be one of love and restoration not condemnation.  Pray, pray, pray for the light of God to be made known to them.  God has ways of  reaching those who we consider unreachable.  Look what He did to confront Saul, the chief persecutor of early Christians. He brought him to his knees and to faith in Jesus.  Read his miraculous story in Acts 9.   Lift your tears up to God and ask Him to work on the person who you are concerned about, to bring them to faith and change their life.  Many times I have heard stories of people praying for individuals for years and years before they came to faith.  God calls us to be persistent and filled with hope at their redemption. 

God’s Word fills us with expectation, hope, love, and guidance as He points us to His truths that are eternal and filled with redemption.

Linda

Resolve to speak of your Hope

In this next portion of Psalm 119, verses 41-48, the psalmist is struggling with resolve.  He is troubled by those that question his faith and he wants to have an answer for them.  He wants to be faithful to God’s Word.  Look at the number of I will’s he states.  He really wants to use God’s Word and live it!

Waw

41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
    your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.

psalm 119 42In verses 41 and 42 the psalmist is asking God for his help so he can reply to those who would taunt him for or about his faith.  He asked God to give him an answer from His Word to reply to his tormentors.   Peter also tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”  We are to always be prepared to talk about Jesus and the hope we have in HimDoes that describe your attitude towards telling others about Jesus, and what He has done for you?  We are not to brag or boast over our privileged position as a child of God but to convey our love for others, our concern about their future and our belief that life with Jesus frees us from sin and all the baggage this world heaps upon us.  Jesus 1 peter 3 15has and is the answer to the world’s problem of sin as He alone is the redeemer.

Just like the psalmist, you can ask God to give you the words to say in reply to naysayers.  We need to stand firm and boldly speak of Jesus.  He will give you the words, just as He has promised.  Keep studying and learning about God and He will reveal more and more about Himself.  Remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  God’s Word equips us for every good work and gives us replies to those who would question our faith.

It is a blessing and a comfort to be prepared.

Linda

Open His book-Ahh! The wonder of it.

In today’s portion of Psalm 119, the psalmist recognizes that following God’s ways, as outlined in the Bible, brings good and will reveal wonders about God.

Psalm 119:17-18     Gimel.

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word [treasuring it and being guided by it day by day].
Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law. (AMP)

A beautiful sunburst through the clouds at the end of a day.Do you open God’s Word regularly seeking to know Him better and learn a better way of living?  The Word of God is to be treasured as it guides and reveals God to us.  I like the conclusion that the psalmist comes to in the last verse of this section, verse 24.  “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.”   Knowing and using God’s Word brings delight, good counsel and hope to the one who seeks answers that are found within the pages of the Bible.  Does that describe you?  Are you a seeker of truth, guidance and wisdom that comes from God?  Prayerfully consider how much time you are spending in God’s Word each week.  Do you seek out groups where you can study His Word and learn?  If you don’t know where to find such groups- here are a few suggestions.  1) ask your pastor what is available at your own church.  If you don’t attend a church or your church does not have groups that match your schedule,  here’s someplace else to look. 2) Bible Study Fellowship and Community Bible Study are organizations that present the Bible all over the world.  Look them up on-line and see if there is a class you can join that is near where you live.  The studies are complete, well laid out and based on the Biblical truths in God’s Word.  Here are the links to their websites:  https://www.bsfinternational.org  and https://communitybiblestudy.org

The study of God’s Word will always result in delight and wonder as God reveals himself to you.

 

Being a student of the Bible brings great reward,

Linda