Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Blessing

New Year's Blessing

As this year draws to a close, I would like to thank all of my reader's for taking this trip through the Bible with me. To date, it is the biggest project I have undertaken--going through the entire Bible in a year, chronologically, with a devotion for each day. My plan is to put these devotions into a series of eBooks--so check my website, Devotional Reflections on the Bible. What a blessing it has been for me, and I hope and pray that you have been blessed as well!

My plan for the new year is to do a series of devotions on Bible Doxologies, so I hope you will join me tomorrow, January 1st, for the introduction to this series.

God Bless You,
Linda

The River of Life

December 31: Revelation 19-22

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:1-5, ESV

The River of Life

We have reached the last chapter of the book of Revelation, as a matter of fact, it is the last chapter of the Bible. Everything is finished! Wickedness has been conquered forever; the Anti-Christ, his servant, and Satan have been cast into the Lake of Fire forever. All people, both small and great, have been judged. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life have been cast into the Lake of Fire, the second death, to spend eternity with the Devil and his angels. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life are in the New Heavens and the New Earth to live under the Reign of Our Most Holy and Righteous God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, forever!

Is it is myth? No! The Bible, from beginning to end, lays out the history of man, from his creation and his fall to his eternal dwelling place. There are only two classes of people, and it has nothing to do with their greatness on this earth.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Does your heart swell with joy and anticipation as you contemplate the River of Life, bright as crystal, flowing straight from the throne of God?

I would like to end this devotional, and this series of devotions with the last words of Christ from Revelation 22.

7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

“Surely I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.

Amen.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fall of Babylon

December 30: Revelation 12-18

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
and will be found no more;
22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
will be heard in you no more,
23 and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slain on earth.”
Revelation 18:21-24

Fall of Babylon

Like most people, I prefer reading about the love of God and of all the blessings given to the children of God rather than the judgments against the wicked. However, there is no perfect justice if there is no judgment against sin. Remember, Christians, too, are judged for their sins; that judgment has been paid by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

If you have ever been the victim of a crime, you will see the utter frustration of being victimized with no resolution, when the criminal is "protected" and allowed to return to the streets so that he may commit more crimes against others. Of course we need a court system to protect those who are accused falsely, but it is truly a disgrace when those who are guilty are released from the judgment they deserve.

As such, our passage today focuses on the Fall of Babylon. Babylon represents the great sin and wickedness of the world; here is what we are told in Revelation 18.

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
3 For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
Revelation 18:2b-3

At the same time, the people of God are warned,

“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities."
Revelation 18:4b-5

The temptation of flirting with the world is a hard one to resist, is it not? How we like to live with our little toe stretched over the line. After all, sin is fun, and the rewards of the world are great for a time. Their end, however, is only bitterness and death.

Just as God calls His people out of Babylon, so He calls His people today out of the sins of this world which is represented by Babylon. God is a jealous God who demands His people to be faithful to Him. Unfortunately, the line between the one and the other is sometimes hard to distinguish.

As we face the approaching new year, may we all remember the Fall of Babylon, and pray that God will keep us faithfully serving Him rather than being entangled in the web of wickedness that exists all around us.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, December 29, 2008

Walk with Him in White

December 30: Revelation 6-11

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 7:9-12, ESV

Walk with Him in White

It is interesting to note that the above verses from Revelation 7 are tucked in between the 7 Seals (Judgments) and the 7 Trumpets (Judgments). Because much has been written regarding the meaning of the seals and trumpets, I will leave that to others. It is significant that God quickly reveals to us that His protection of His people includes the times of the judgments brought about by the seals and trumpets.

Who are these who walk with Him in white, and what are they doing? Again, one of the elders explains to John,

“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence."
Revelation 5:14b-15

Though often misunderstood, and applied in various ways, the book of Revelation is one of the most important books of the Bible. In it we are ushered into the very throne room of God and given a glimpse of God's rule over this earth. I am reminded of the Psalm that states, "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" As we gaze upon this throne room, how everything around us pales into insignificance.

May your theme this new year be, "Only Christ!" Nothing else matters! What awaits the believers who "walk with Him in white?"

"16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

That is what I want? How about you?

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Behold, the Lion

December 28: Revelation 1-5

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Revelation 5:1-5

Behold, the Lion

In these beginning chapters of the book of Revelation, we are given a glimpse of heaven, when John is transported through "a door standing open in heaven." What did John see?

2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
Revelation 4:2-6

Just imagine standing there by the Sea of Crystal gazing upon the Lord God Almighty. Actually I doubt if we will be standing; like the 24 elders we will fall on our faces before Him and cast our crowns at His feet. Dear Christians, this is the God we serve! He is not up in Heaven wringing His hands over what may happen here on earth; He controls everything that happens! Our God is Sovereign; everything He has ordained will come to pass in exactly the manner He has planned, right up to the very end of this world.

Who then, is the Lion? John is weeping before the throne of God because no one has been found who is worthy to open the scroll, sealed with 7 seals, that is in the hand of God. Then we hear the voice of one of the 24 elders speaking to John.

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

I cannot help but include the final verses of Revelation 5.

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

As we look forward to the new year, may I encourage every believer to Behold, the Lion! Read these verses; this is reality! Do not let these troubling times overcome your faith in our God who sits on the throne with the Lion, the Root of David, sitting at His right hand.

Amen! So come quickly Lord Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Good God!

December 27: 2 John & 3 John

4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
2 John, verses 4-11

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.
3 John, verses 11-12

Good God!

As the apostolic years began to draw to a close, we find that already there was trouble in the church. John, who writes the wonderful book of 1 John dealing with love, gently encourages believers to walk faithfully with God.

In 2 John, John encourages the "elect lady" to walk in love, and to be careful to not be deceived by the false teachers who come around teaching errors regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. In 3 John, Christians are encouraged to imitate good and not evil.

So many centuries later, we face the same issues in our churches. When we become Christians, we must constantly guard our faith by studying the Word of God and developing a closeness to the Lord through prayer. How easily we can be led away from the Lord, especially when we have been neglecting the very means that God gives us to remain close to Him. Then, like the "elect lady" we must walk in love, and yet we must not be deceived by those who twist and bend the truths of the Word.

In our culture, there are so many different churches and denominations, that it is often hard to determine a good church from a bad church. So, what is the answer? The truth is found in the Word of God. Read the Word, study the Word, memorize the Word, and engulf every area of your life with Biblical truths. Then, pray for wisdom from the God to discern right from wrong; pray that God will keep you from being led away "by every wind of doctrine."

Do not make the mistake of believing that sin only exists outside of the doors of your church. Unfortunately, we carry the seeds of sins with us wherever we go, as does every one else. Only through close fellowship with the Lord, the study of His Word, and prayer can we possibly be kept from the strong arms of deception by Satan and his angels.

We have a very Good God! Never leave Him or forsake Him; bind His word upon your hearts and your garments; surround yourself with truth and godliness, through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and guard you against sin and destruction.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, December 26, 2008

If -- Then!

December 26: 1 John 1-5

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:5-10

If--Then!

In studying Geometry, one often learns rules of theorems to discover mathematical proofs. If this is true, then that is true; or if this is true, then that cannot be true. 1 John 1:5-10 is somewhat like those geometric theorems. Look at the five "If -- Thens" in these verses.

*If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, [then] we lie and do not practice the truth.

It is quite clear from this statement that true fellowship with God means we cannot walk in darkness--or the sins of this world. In other words, we, therefore, do not practice the truth.

*But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, [then] we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Here again, we find that if we walk in the same light as God, we have fellowship with other believers and can be assured that the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. Again, walking faithfully with God is represented by walking in the light.

*If we say we have no sin, [then] we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Now that is pretty straight forward! No one, on this side of heaven, except for the Lord Jesus Christ, has ever or will ever be able to say they have no sin. If we really believe we have no sin, we have deceived ourselves and do not understand the truth--or reality!

*If we confess our sins, [then] he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

What a remarkable promise. The one who falls before God, confessing his sins, is assured of being cleansed from those sins by the faithful forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly a matter of the heart, is it not? If our heart condemns us, we have the hope of redemption from that condemnation through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ done on our behalf. Who is this Lord Jesus Christ? The Lord Jesus Christ is the only man who walked on this earth without committing one sin! Jesus Christ, the perfect God-man, who knew no sin, became sin for us!

*If we say we have not sinned, [then] we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

This statement is very similar to the third one shown above, but goes a step farther. Because God has said that all men have sinned, we make Him a liar when we say that we have not sinned. This unbelief is proof that the Word of God is not in us!

Five little "If--Then!" statements tucked away in the first chapter of 1 John! Read them, study them, pay attention to them! Your very life depends upon it!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Where is He?

December 25: 2 Peter 1-3 & Jude

1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Peter 3:1-7

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
Jude, verses 17-21

Where is He?

As the question was asked in the Gospels, "Where is He that is born king of the Jews?" so also people today say, "Where is God? Where is the promise of His coming?"

The Jews were always looking, but never finding the Christ; even when He was in the middle of them, they did not recognize Him. They certainly did not recognize that the baby in a manger in Bethlehem was the Promised One who was coming to save them.

In 2nd Peter, people were still asking, "Where is He?"

“Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

In our day, many feel that God is obsolete! Since the world began, however it began, everything continues each day as it has for thousands upon thousands of years. How does a baby in a manger, and how does God fit into this world?

Does their unbelieving heart change anything? That is exactly the point that Peter was making in 2nd Peter, and that Jude was making in his letter. Jude said, "But you must remember!" He urged his fellow believers to remember what they had been taught by the apostles. When they saw people falling away from the Lord, they should not be surprised. That did not, however, give them an excuse to disbelieve the promises of God. Instead he encouraged them,

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

As you celebrate the birth of Christ this day, remember to be active in building up your most holy faith and prayer. The question is still valid, "Where is He?" Where is He in your life today?

Have a blessed Christmas.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Good Soldier

December 24: 2 Timothy 1-4

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:1-13, ESV

Good Soldier

It is very difficult to condense an entire book into a short devotional; in 2 Timothy, we will focus on the beginning of chapter 2, as it is somewhat of a summary of the entire book.

As a good soldier, Paul reminds Timothy, and us as well, to be focused or single-minded toward the task at hand, just as an athlete remains focused on competing according to the rules, and a farmer focuses everything on the production of good crops.

Amazingly, becoming a Christian does not require an immediate career change, but rather a change of focus in that career. Whereas the goal before may have been to please the boss or the company, the goal becomes that of pleasing Christ, and sharing our faith with others.

Notice Paul's change in focus to enduring everything for the sake of the Gospel, and for the glory of God, looking to the future, rather than focusing on the current miseries.

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

In conclusion, here is Paul's definition of a good soldier versus one who denies Christ.

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—


for he cannot deny himself.

Do not forget, that as a Christian, your goal is to be a good soldier of Christ, who was born in a manger to save a people for Himself!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Looking to Jesus

December 23: Hebrews 11-13

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

Looking to Jesus

No reading or study of the book of Hebrews would be complete without going through the 11th chapter of Hebrews, known as the Faith Chapter. On my website, Devotional Reflections from the Bible, I have devoted an entire section on The Lonely Road of Faith, which is a series of devotions from Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 12, referring back to the Christians mentioned in Hebrews 11, encourages us to lay aside every weight, or sin that so easily besets us, and looking to Jesus, run with endurance the race that God has set before us. Who is this Jesus? Is He just a baby in a manger?

2 Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In this Christmas season, do not stop at the manger! This Jesus is the founder of our faith, and the perfecter (or finisher) of our faith. Being driven by the joy set before Him, He endured the cross and shame, and provided salvation for us so that we, too, may enjoy the glories of Heaven for eternity. There is no manger without a cross, there is no cross without a resurrection, and and there is no resurrection without the hope and joy of eternal life given to us by Jesus Christ our Lord.

With that in mind, read again the beautiful doxology given to us in Hebrews 13:20-21.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

May you find yourself, this Christmas season, looking to Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Living God

December 22: Hebrews 7-10

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31

The Living God

Several years ago a movement began which proclaimed, God is dead! Did that do away with God? Does the reality of God depend upon what people think? Is God only the figment of some people's imagination, or a crutch for them upon which to lean?

The writer of Hebrews, however, loudly proclaims, in Hebrews 10:31, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. That verse is preceded by the verse which says, For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine: I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."

In our world today, people do not proclaim that God is dead, they either simply ignore Him, or merely assert that He does not even exist! How bold and brazen people have become! However, their unbelief does not change a thing!

In their determination to run as far away from God as possible, some even refuse to use the word, Christmas! They would rather refer to this time as the holiday season, or a winter holiday. Yet, even the word, holiday, speaks of a holy day! The season has changed to one of Christmas trees, gift giving, and Santa Claus. No matter how we celebrate Christmas, however, as Christians we must remember that Jesus, the Christ, is the Son of God, and is very much alive today. He will take vengeance upon the ungodly at the proper time. At that time, everyone will know that, indeed, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Take that thought with you as you celebrate this holiday season!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, December 21, 2008

But We See Jesus

December 21: Hebrews 1-6

5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Hebrews 2:5-9

But We See Jesus

But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

You know, we do not really escape death when we become Christians! Oh yes, we escape our death, but that is only because a death was made on our behalf. So, death was not escaped, but was paid by another, even Christ Jesus.

One of the themes of this part of Hebrews is that many see and view the same things, and some even seem to accept Christ for a time, but in the end, only those who by God's grace, accept Christ as their own personal Savior, and then, also by His grace, live faithfully for Him are those for whom Christ died.

We, as Christians, are no better than anyone else in the world, but we see Jesus for Who He truly is. When we look at that baby in the manger, we see His sacrifice on the cross for us, and His resurrection unto life eternal, where we, too, will join Him forever and ever!

God, the Son, made Himself a little lower than the angels, was born to a poor family, lived in subjection to them until he was of age, ministered to the lost, died for their sins, was resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of God. There has never, and will never be told a greater story. Remember that this Christmas morning!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Suffering

December 20: 1 Peter 1-5


6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7

20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
1 Peter 2:20-21

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:14-17

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
1 Peter 4:12-16

8 ...Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:8b-11

Suffering

As I was reading through the book of 1 Peter, I noticed that every single chapter has some reference to suffering for Christ. In Chapter 1 we are told that we suffer for Christ to test our faith. Chapter 2 reminds us that even as Christ suffered for the Gospel, so should we be willing to walk in His steps. Honor Christ in your suffering and always be ready to make a defense for the reason for the hope within you, we are told in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 tells us to not be surprised by the fiery trials we experience, but rather glorify God in the midst of our suffering. And, chapter 5 we are reminded that after we suffer for a little while, God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.

I think it is interesting to note that we are reading this book at a time when the world calls us to be merry and full of good cheer. The world does not have a clue as to the real meaning of Christmas; it is just a time of fun, laughter, and frenzy. Yet, as Christians, we should not be fooled by this appearance of good will, but rather understand that we are at war. The more faithfully we live for Christ, the more suffering we will face on this earth.

Christ, that babe in the manger, did not bring peace to this world, but rather a sword! He did, however, bring peace to those who are saved by His precious blood spent for a people who did not love Him.

As God calls you into times of suffering, ask God to be gracious to you and to help you praise His name for being called to suffer for Him, who gave His life for us!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Heirs of God

December 19: Titus 1-3

3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:3-7, ESV

Heirs of God

As we read through the letters Paul wrote we note, again, that in Titus Paul clearly explains the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Three things are noted in the verses shown above. Left to ourselves we are filled with all manner of sin. Though there is nothing in us to deserve Christ, He, out of his own goodness and loving kindness saved a people for Himself. Those saved by Christ are justified by God's grace, making them heirs of God.

Our hearts are so filled with pride and our own righteousness, that we must be reminded again and again that there is nothing good in our hearts that would cause God to desire us over another. Verse 3 describes every person apart from the Lord!

3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

All Christians are saved by the washing and regeneration of the Spirit through the blood of Christ. Nothing in them has any merit before God, yet He chooses by His own mercy to save them.

What an amazing God we have!

The salvation granted to Christians by God is perfect and complete. Christians are heirs of God, and have the hope and promise of eternal life with God for all eternity.

Heirs of God! Think of it! How can that be?

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see

When we've been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun,
we've no less days to sing God's praise,
than when we first begun.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fight the Good Fight!

December 18: 1 Timothy 1-6


11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
1 Timothy 6:11-16

Fight the Good Fight!

It is clear from the writings of Paul to Timothy that the Christian life is an active life, and a life of warfare. Just as soldiers exercise and train for battle, so, too, must Christians actively pursue a life of Godliness.

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Paul is speaking to Timothy as from one pastor to another, but though we may not be pastors, the charge given here to Timothy certainly applies to all Christians as well. Then, are we left alone in this battle?

As Christians, we are never alone; Christ is with us at all times--how amazing is that! The question we must ask ourselves, however, is do we live each moment of every day as though Christ is standing right beside us? Let us pray that we will actively pursue and fight the good fight on the Lord's side, and not on the enemies' side.

He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion.

Now that is the Master I want to serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make Me Humble!

December 17: Philippians 1-4

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11, ESV

Make Me Humble!

Humility--now there is a dying characteristic! How many current popular novels or movies do you know which have a humble main character? Remember the old Disney movies--what characteristics did we see in Snow White or Cinderella? Now, how about current Disney movies? The main character is elevated because of his or her spunky, rebellious spirit! Is it no wonder we see such major rebellion among our youth of today?

Is humility a weakness or is it a strength? In our politically correct generation, humility is disdained as weakness of character. But, what does the Bible say; as a matter of fact, what does Paul say in today's Bible reading passage? Look at verses 3 and 4 shown above.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

What example did Paul use to illustrate such a bold statement. He used the most perfect example of all!

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Is humility an easy trait to develop? Can we do it by our own power? If you have any doubt about these questions, just look at children under the age of 2! How humble are they? How much concern do they shown for their parents when they do not feel like sleeping at night, or when a favorite toy is lost?

I do not know about you, but one of the most grievous things I face in this life is dealing with my own sin. I want to be humble, but then out bursts the ugly head of pride. I want to be kind, until someone steals my favorite chair. I want to think of others before myself, but who do I think of when I first awake in the morning?

Only by falling before Christ and pleading for strength to live a life holy and acceptable to God can we accomplish anything near humility. And, remember, do not take pride in the fact that you are asking God for humility!

Though the world may ridicule now, a time will come when every single person will bow the knee, and confess with his tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the father.

What should our prayer be today? Lord, make me humble!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

His Workmanship!

December 16: Ephesians 1-6

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:1-10, ESV

His Workmanship!

Perhaps because Paul's ministry was mostly to Gentiles, he gives us such a clear understanding of who we are in Christ. We learn four things from verse 10, shown above.

* We are God's workmanship.
* We are created in Christ for good works.
* God prepared everything beforehand.
* We should walk in obedience to Him.

What do a potter, an artist, a carpenter, and a factory worker have in common? If they are good at what they do, it is because they take pride in their workmanship. In the same way, children of God show forth His workmanship; everything they do reflects upon the work of God. As we are told elsewhere, we are not our own for we were bought with a price--and what a price it was!

Not only are we His workmanship, but we were created to perform good works for Christ. As Christians, we are not to continue walking as children of the world enslaved by sin. By the grace of God, we are to put off the deeds of darkness, and walk within the Light of God's Word.

Is this impossible for us to perform? Quite frankly, yes! But, God who is rich in mercy has prepared everything in advance for us. In Him and through His power alone, we are able to live for His glory. Everything we need, our personality, our gifts, our strengths, and even our weaknesses are all there to show forth the glory of God.

So, do we have a valid excuse, as Christians, to not serve Him? No way! From the moment of salvation, our life has changed forever.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

By God's grace alone we have been saved, by God's grace alone we are His workmanship, by God's grace alone we were created for good works, by God's grace alone He has prepared everything for us beforehand, and by God's grace alone we should walk in obedience to Him.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, December 15, 2008

What's in a Name?

December 15: Colossians 1-4 & Philemon

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:1-2 & 12-17, ESV


What's in a Name?

When I was a child I was not very old when I discovered that everything I did, whether good or bad, affected our name within the community. Being from a small town, a tarnished name was hard to overcome. We would do well to think of this same principle as Christians. What's in a name? More importantly, how well do you represent the name of Jesus?

That really sums up the meaning of the verses shown above; unfortunately we tend to forget that in everything we do or say, at work or at home, we are representing the name of Jesus! In Colossians, Paul is addressing the church at Colossi; this epistle was written to Christians, not to unbelievers.

So how should Christians act? I cannot answer that question more succinctly than Paul did in Colossians 3:12-17.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

It is a pretty tall order; as a matter of fact, no matter how hard we try we are certain to fail! That is, we will fail if we attempt to be obedient to the Lord in our own power. We must go to Christ! Only through the power of God can we live as we are called to live in these verses. Just imagine what churches would be like today if all believers really took these verses to heart!

We sing about it, especially at this time of year:

Peace on earth,
goodwill to men.

Think about that as you make your preparations for Christmas; the preparations of your heart are more important than any other. So, in your life, what's in a name? How do you represent the name of Jesus?

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 14: Acts 27-28

26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
27 For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Acts 28:26-28, ESV

Do You Hear What I Hear?

After shipwreck at sea, and wintering at the island of Malta, Paul was brought to Rome in the spring of the year. As was his custom in the cities in Asia, Paul called together the rulers of the Jews so that he might present to them the truth of the Gospel.

As was also true in Asia, Paul received a mixed reaction from the Jewish community.

23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. (from Romans 28, ESV)

Why is that? Two people standing next to each other hear the same Gospel proclaimed and yet it elicits two completely different responses. Not only are the two responses different, but those who do not believe become enemies of the believers. Such was the case in Rome. Just as the Jewish leaders in other cities were seeking the death penalty for Paul, so would the Jewish leaders in Rome do likewise.

As Christmas approaches, and we are thinking again of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, the question needs to be asked, "Do you hear what I hear?" Do you understand the real meaning of Christmas? Without the birth of Christ there would be no Gospel, and there would be no salvation for mankind.

Do not let the gaiety of the season distract you from the true miracle of Christmas. Christ, the Son of God, the God man, was born so that He might die for others to live. Just as He was resurrected after His death on the cross, so do all believers have the confidence that we, too, will be resurrected at the last day, and so shall we ever be with the Lord!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Out of Your Mind

December 13: Acts 24-26

24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
Acts 26:24-29, ESV

This portion of Acts dealing with the unlawful imprisonment of Paul helps us to understand his great faith even under dire circumstances. By the time we reach this portion of Acts, Paul has been in prison for over two years. As Paul presents his case before King Agrippa and Festus, we clearly see the attitude of the Romans toward the Jewish rebels who were part of The Way sect. We also see Paul's passion for the Gospel and his heart toward the unconverted.

After Paul gave his personal testimony to Agrippa and Festus, including his conversion on the road to Damascus, Festus declares, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” As our world rushes madly as far from God as possible, we will see more and more people saying the same thing about born-again Christians. A great many people in the United States declare themselves to be Christians, but I wonder how that number will change when such attitudes toward Christians become commonplace.

Yet, Paul was unmoved by Festus' outburst. Instead of pleading for his release, we find Paul presenting the Gospel to all of those gathered to hear him, especially King Agrippa. Astonished, Agrippa asks Paul, "Paul, do you think that in such a short time after such a brief message you can persuade me to become a Christian? Don’t you know how powerful and intellectually sophisticated I am?" [Quote is from P. G. Mathew from a sermon he preached in November, 2000.] Did that comment discourage Paul?

No! Look at his response. “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” What passion for the unconverted!

How concerned are we about the unconverted we come into contact with every day? How much do we pray for their conversion? Paul spent his life as a Christian reaching out to the lost, enduring imprisonment, and eventually giving up his life for his faith. What does our faith mean to us? As the world continues to cascade toward utter abandonment of the Lord, and persecutes believers for their faith, which side will we be on?

It was a unique time in Paul's day; the early church was struggling in its faith, and yet the growth of the church was phenomenal. I believe that we will see such a time again as we draw nearer to the return of Christ. Are you willing to be "out of your mind" for Christ? Take some time this Christmas season and ponder your own faith; ask the Lord to help you grow in faith and in love toward unbelievers you see every day. God will answer your prayer!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ambush!

November 12: Acts 20-23

12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

16 Now the son of Paul's sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.” 19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” 20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him. 21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.”
Acts 23:12 & 16-21, ESV

Ambush!

As we return to the books of Acts and the narrative of Paul's journeys we witness of the return of Paul to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has not been kind to Paul since his conversion; as a matter of fact Paul had been warned repeatedly that danger and imprisonment awaited him in Jerusalem. Why, then, did he ignore all of the warnings? How did he respond?

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Romans 20:24, ESV

In Paul, we find a man so focused upon his ministry for the Lord that even the threat of death would not dissuade him from testifying to the Gospel of the grace of God. He had no doubt that he was safely in the hands of His Lord, and that nothing would happen to him apart from the will of God.

The warnings given to Paul proved to be correct; as a matter of fact, when in Jerusalem, more than forty men made a vow to neither eat or drink until they had killed Paul. However, God had other plans for Paul; no ambush could thwart the plans of God. As the narrative continues we learn that Paul leaves Jerusalem as a prisoner, and eventually ends up in Rome.

How, you may ask, does this impact my life? Many of the books of the New Testament were yet to be written, and would be completed while he was imprisoned in Rome. Paul's writings are one of the greatest sources for helping us understand the Christian life and the relationship we have with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh that we would have the faith of Paul! When faced with an ambush leading to a certain death, he did not fear for his life. Oh that we would be so focused in living our life for Christ that no fears, including death, would prevent us from faithfully serving Him every moment of our lives.

With Christmas less than two weeks away, pray that your focus would remain on the true meaning of Christmas and the change it has brought to you, as a Christian, in every single facet of your life. Do not fear the ambush, but fear the God who is able to grant to you eternal life through the death of that little child, born in obscurity in a manger in Bethlehem.

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Doxology

December 11: Romans 14-16

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Romans 16:25-27, ESV

A Doxology

Sometime I am going to do a series of devotions on doxologies; they are some of the most beautiful words recorded in the Bible. Webster's dictionary tells us that a doxology is a liturgical expression of praise to God. You can tell that Paul was still thinking of the last part of his letter to the Romans when he wrote this doxology.

Those of us who are Gentiles (non-Jews) tend to take the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for granted, but in Paul's day the church was still struggling with Gentiles being allowed in to a religion they believed was only for the Jewish people. In this doxology Paul is praising God for revealing to the world the "mystery" of the Gospel which had formerly been kept secret from the world, and had been only made knows to the Jewish nation.

Take some time and think about that! We do not take time often enough to step back and take a wider view of our world, through the eyes of God. Yet in this doxology, in one sentence, we are taken from the time of the prophets to the time of Paul. God did not need to provide salvation for us; He could have left us in our sin, destroyed the world, and created a new, sinless, world. Yet, in love so great we can not begin to understand it, He chose to send His Son to purchase a people for himself.

In this Christmas season, stop and praise the only wise God, for the revelation of His Son, at His command, to all the world. Perhaps it will help us to view the baby Jesus with much greater depth. The only reason Christ was born was to purchase a people for Himself--a people consisting of Jews and Gentiles.

To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Repaying God!

December 10: Romans 11-13

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-35, ESV

12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2, ESV

Repaying God!

I think everyone should have Romans 11:33 and 34 stamped on the back of their hand! Paul succinctly tells us that no one knows the mind of the Lord and not one of us has ever been His counselor. Gods judgments to us are unsearchable and his ways past finding out, as the King James Version tells us.

Yet, one would think that is not true. It seems that everyone has an opinion as to how they would rule the world if given the chance. If they were God, things would be different! How arrogant and foolish a thought that is; we occupy one little pin prick in the depths of time, and yet we think we could outwit God!

Oh, how He loves His children; from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. Why do we spend so much of our lives on ourselves, when He has given so much for us and to us? What a debt we owe. Should we not start thinking of repaying God?

That was a trick question; there is no way to repay God! Look how Paul follows Romans 11:36 with Romans 12:1-2 (the chapter divisions were not made by Paul, so this thought immediately follows in his thinking).

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

These two verses should be stamped on the back of our other hand! Pray today that your focus would be God's focus, and that instead of thinking of repaying God, you would present your body to Him as a living sacrifice. Pray that from this time forward you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You can not do this in and of yourself, but God can do it for you. Ask Him!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Called

December 9: Romans 8-19

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:22-28, ESV

The Called

Have you been called? I find it interesting that in the United States a large proportion of the population considers themselves to be Christians. If that is truly so, why do we see such moral decline in America, and such acceptance of things blatantly contrary to the Word of God?

Do you groan inwardly for freedom from your own sinful body? Do you wait eagerly for the completion of your adoption as a child of Christ? Do you even have a clue as to the meaning of Romans 8:22-23?

This is not deep theology! As a matter of fact, this is what defines a Christian as a true child of God! As the Holy Spirit guides us and teaches us the truths of the Bible, the normal Christian life is one of growth and continued sanctification. Though it is impossible to reach perfection on this side of heaven, it is true that a Christian becomes more and more like Christ the longer he lives. This process of sanctification causes us to become more and more uncomfortable with the sins of the world, especially the sins in our own hearts, causing us to grown inwardly and long for the life to come when sin will be conquered forever!

Romans 8:28 is a favorite verse of Christians, and is a good one on which to meditate.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

True Christians are the called! What does that mean? Christians are the called according to the purpose of God. While still on this earth, believers have a purpose to fulfill for God; knowing that, they understand that all things do work together for good. As God leads them through this life, He uses the circumstances of their lives to guide them into the way He has chosen for them to go, and hones their love for Him through the trials He allows to come their way.

What an amazing God? He uses the foolish things (that is us) of this world to advance His kingdom here on earth! He could have used the angels, but instead He has chosen us for this purpose.

To borrow a quote from John F. Kennedy (with changes made by me), "Ask not what God can do for you, but ask what you can do for God."

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, December 08, 2008

Slaves!

December 8: Romans 4-7

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:17-18 & 20-23, ESV

Slaves!

We do not like that word, do we? We bristle anytime we hear someone speaking of slavery. The truth, however, is that everyone is a slave! From the moment Adam and Eve, sinned everyone was conceived as a slave to sin.

Do you wonder what is wrong with the world? Why does the whole world seem to be rushing madly to death and destruction? Why is the world continually plagued by wars? One country is seeking to conquer or destroy another. Will it ever end?

Yes, it will end, but you can be sure that it will not be because man has finally discovered how to bring peace on earth!

This is the theme of Paul's words from Romans 6; all men are slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. How can that be? If we are conceived as slaves of sin, how to we get from there to become slaves of righteousness.

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Christ! In Christ we are delivered from the slavery of sin to become slaves of righteousness. As slaves of sin, we were free from the law of righteousness, but as slaves of righteousness, we are free from the law of sin and death. What does Christ offer? Christ is the perfect slave master who willingly gave His life to purchase a people for Himself. In Him we are free from death and are made alive for all eternity!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yes, we are all slaves! The real question to ponder this day is, who is your slave master?

God Bless You,
Linda