Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spirit of Faith

6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. . .

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 & 13-14, English Standard Version

What is the spirit of faith? I think it is better understood when we look back at verses 6 & 7 of 2 Corinthians 4. The originator of our faith is God who has shone His light in our hearts, giving us power that belongs to God and not to us.

Light originated with God. God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shown His light into our hearts filling us with the spirit of faith. Faith, then, is not something we do, but rather something we receive from the Lord. It is something that He does to us. We are simply the vessel, the jars of clay, that God has filled with the spirit of faith. Why is this important to understand?

It is important to realize that everything we have and are is from God and not from ourselves. We do not even have the means to grasp a hold of saving faith--even that is bestowed upon us by the Lord. As you ponder that thought, think of what it means. I would much rather put my trust in God Almighty than in myself.

The powerful faith God grants us allows us to say, without any hesitation, "I believed, and so I spoke."

We also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

Yes, that is the spirit of faith; a faith so complete and sure that we know that we will be raised with the Lord Jesus Christ, and brought into His presence. It is a faith granted to us by God, and not manufactured by our own means.

Do you lack this faith? Go to God. Fall on your face before Him and plead with Him to grant to you the spirit of faith.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, March 30, 2009

What is Faith?

15 "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 2:15-16, English Standard Version

As we continue our "What is in a Word" series, I thought it would be good to take some time to discuss the meaning of Faith. What is Faith? We hear the word used frequently, but what really does the Bible say about faith.

I find it interesting that The New Oxford American Dictionary defines faith as, A strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

To understand the Biblical meaning of faith, we will look at some Bible passages which use the word, "faith."

We find two important aspects of faith in Galatians 2:15 & 16. First, our object of faith is the Lord Jesus Christ, and second, we cannot be justified before God by obeying His law as found in the Word of God. In other words, there is nothing we can do, in and of ourselves to be justified before God. No matter how good we may act, we will always be imperfect before a righteous and holy God! So, we are doomed!

Our object of faith, then, is not ourselves but the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is that? Christ was not only a man, but He is also God; that is why we often refer to Him as the God-man. I do not understand that, but I know that it is true. [Remember, our faith is based upon spiritual apprehension, and not evidence of truth.] Only a man, perfect because He was also God, could come to this earth and take the punishment of our sins for us. Without that death in payment of our sins, there is no hope of life with God.

What is faith? Though our faith may seem blind to others, we have a spiritual understanding given to us by the Holy Spirit; an irrefutable assurance that we have been purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ and presented blameless before God Almighty.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Living Hope

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:3-5, New English Standard Version

Years ago, the "God is Dead" movement ran rampant in our country as well as the rest of the world. Today, there are still many who adhere to this point of view, although most unbelievers would say there is no God at all, dead or alive. What about the Lord Jesus Christ? Many would say He was a good man, maybe even a great prophet, but He, too, is dead. Because Jesus Christ is the object of our hope, what would that do to our hope if He is dead. Simply, there would be no grounds for our hope.

Peter, however, declared, In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is the foundation for our hope in Christ; Christ is not dead, but rather is seated at the right hand of God making intercession for His people. He is very much alive!

But, that is not all! Peter continues, And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Christians have an inheritance that can not perish, spoil or fade away (or taxed into nothingness by any government on this earth). Also, until that time we are ready to receive our inheritance, we are shielded by the power of God! What thing on this earth do you know of that comes with a greater guarantee than this. No one can circumvent God!

Reflect on that as you go about the duties of this day. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever, is a living Hope who grants His children an inheritance kept waiting for them.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, March 27, 2009

Object of Hope

27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27

13 Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2:13-14

What is our object of hope as Christians? What has made such a total change in our lives that everything we once held dear no longer appeals to us? The object of our hope is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, who walked as a God-man on this earth over 2000 years ago, still lives to this day! Not only is Christ alive, but He lives within us. Christ in you, the hope of glory. Before Christ came into our hearts, our hearts were not empty; instead they were filled with the worldly lusts of our day. No one is neutral, i.e. just an empty vessel waiting to be filled! From the fall of Adam, every single person was born in sin, serving Satan and the lusts of this world.

How did that change in our lives? When Christ came into our hearts He brought a new hope. From that day forward we have been waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Those verses say it all, do they not?

Jesus Christ, our blessed hope, became the object of our hope when he gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness. As Christians we have been purified in Christ, so that the rest of our lives may be lived in faithfulness and zealousness for our Savior.

The key to our faith is found in the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, alone, do we have hope!

God Bless You,
Linda

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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Hope!

12 Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 2:12

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13

No Hope! Have you ever noticed that we all have a tendency to take for granted the things we have until they are taken away? Sometimes, then, it is good for us to reflect on our past, so that we may better appreciate our lives today.

Before we came to know Christ, we were without hope. Though we may not have been aware of our hopeless circumstances, we had no standing before God, and no hope for an eternal future with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine living this life as though this is all there is! I guess we do not have to look very far, as this is the very state most people are in. They live a "what you see is what you get" kind of reality.

Not all unbelievers, however, live without any hope; some have a delusional or displaced hope. They may rest in their riches, their power, or their friends and family. They may re-create reality by changing the rules: "If I live a good enough life, St. Peter will let me in at the door of heaven."

We understand this because that is where most of us were at one time. However, once we have experienced the true reality of Christ, we realize how hopeless our situation was. Gone are the doubts that formerly plagued us; our lives are now filled with the peace of God which passes all understanding.

As we go about our duties this day, let us think of those who have no hope. We must be diligent to pray for our unsaved co-workers, friends, and family members, and present a Godly example of the hope that lies within us!

God Bless You,
Linda

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Called to Hope

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:1-4, English Standard Version

Not only do we have hope, but we are called to that hope. Are we worthy of such hope? Do we deserve such hope? Is it by our own efforts that we are called to hope? Once attaining this hope, can we keep it by our own efforts?

These are very interesting questions to ponder. What is the Source of our hope?

There is one body and one Spirit . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

And, there is one hope, given to us by our great God and Father who is over all, and through all, and in all. What then should this hope produce in our lives? This hope should produce a great desire to walk worthy of our calling to walk as Christ walked, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

It sounds so hopeful; so right, does it not? What would our world truly be like if all lived in such a manner? Unfortunately, due to the sin which abounds all around us, and in our own hearts as well, we will not know the answer to that question until we walk in the new heavens and the new earth that God is preparing for us.

So, what should we do? We should seek God's face; ask Him for the strength and wisdom to restrain us from our sins and walk circumspectly according to the commandments given in His Word. What an amazing God we have! What is hopeless for us to attain, we can by the help and power of our only wise and true God.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hope is Essential

Today I am beginning a new series of Bible Devotions called, "What is in a Word?". Many familiar words may have several meanings or innuendos based upon their use in a particular verse or passage of the Bible. I hope you enjoy this study; let me know if there are specific words you would like included in this study.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13, English Standard Version

Hope, combined with faith and love, is an essential Christian character trait. We hope for what we have not yet seen or experienced. Romans 8:24 & 25 expresses it this way,

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.

Verse 2 & 3 of 1 John 3 express hope in this way,

2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

When you think of it, it is hope that gets us up each day and helps us keep our sanity in the midst of a very troubled world. The very essence of our Christianity is hope. We hope for the return of Christ; we hope for that day when we will join our dear Lord in eternity forever. Coupled with faith and love, hope gives us a powerful weapon to use in a world so destitute of meaning, purpose, or hope.

Ponder that as you go about your duties of this day. Hope is essential; in it we truly have victory in Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Last Benediction

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Revelations 22:21, KJV

I thought it fitting to end this series on Bible Benedictions with the last benediction in the Bible, found in the last verse in the Bible. It is short and succinct, but so powerful!

If you were to write a book, how would you end it? What are the last words you would leave on the page? John chose grace; the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

When we take an overview of our Christian life and our relationship with the Lord it does not take long for us to observe that it is all of grace. In grace God saw our sin and made a plan for our salvation. In grace Christ died for the sins of His people. In grace God resurrected Christ from the dead and brought Him to Heaven where He continually makes intercession for Christians. Our salvation is all of grace, and none of us! If God's grace does not dwell with us, then we have no salvation and life has no purpose!

The books are closed, God's Word has been written, and eleven short words summarize the message of the entire Bible.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Perfect!

10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:10-11, KJV

After just reading a Bible benediction regarding truth, this is a very fitting benediction to use as a follow-up. It can be very discouraging to see warring between Christians, but we must take heart because God will make us perfect!

Though each Christian has a God given purpose while on this earth, God has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus. Though we suffer while on this earth, God will make us perfect, and establish, strengthen, and settle us. Just think about that; what a wonderful promise.

God has granted to us true joy in this life, but that joy is continually tempered with trials and adversity. As we grow older we see the changes in our inner self that God has brought through the various adversities we have experienced. Along with that growth (sanctification), our longing for heaven increases.

My mother just passed away two weeks ago, though I miss her dearly, she was so eager to go and be with the Lord. Her body was ravaged with cancer, and having lost my dad two years ago, her heart was longing for heaven. What a beautiful picture that paints. For those of you who have lost Christian friends and family, you know what a great comfort we have in Christ.

May God grow you in Him; to Him belongs all the glory!

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Truth and Love

1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

2 John 1:1-3, KJV

Our Bible benediction today occurs at the beginning of 2 John rather than at the end as we would suspect, and it is directed to the elect lady and her children. Notice how many times John uses the word "truth" in these three verses.

Verse 1
*Love in the truth
*Known the truth

Verse 2
*For truth's sake

Verse 3
*In truth and love

What is truth? That is not an easy question to answer. Yes, there is the obvious answer, and it is correct. God is truth, and the Word of God is truth. But, just a quick cursory glance at the Christian world today, and you will see it splintered into hundreds of "denominations." How can that be when there is only one God and only one Bible and only one truth?

I live in a small city of Dutch descent, so the predominant churches here are Reformed. In a city of around 7,000 people, there are at least 8 reformed churches, most of them boasting a membership of over 500. Where there are two men, there are usually two different opinions, even though both are reading the same book. It is just a reflection of our sin nature; in our zeal to uphold the truth, we divide and divide and divide.

Think of that as you go about your duties of this day. There is one God and one church. Be patient toward those of other denominations. There is a whole world of non-Christians waiting to hear the Word of God, and yet, how often are we too busy arguing with other believers that we miss the lost right next door.

The truth is important, but in reality, I suspect no one church is 100% right! Ah, how I long for heaven when all Christians will gather together in unity, and in truth and love!

Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Steadfast

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58

Our Bible benediction today from 1 Corinthians 15 is presented as a challenge to the Christian to be steadfast, unmovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. That is quite a challenge, is it not?

How can we remain steadfast with everything around us in such a turmoil? The worldwide economy is fracturing piece by piece; countries maintain a fragile commitment to each other displaying a semblance of peace. What about our personal lives? We battle money issues, family problems, heath concerns, etc.

As a Christian, how can we remain unmovable in such an environment? We cannot! Only through Christ can we be steadfast or unmovable. The challenge is presented, however, with a solution. We must be always abounding in the work of the Lord. Does that mean that every Christian must now become a pastor or a missionary? No! The challenge is to every single Christian. Wherever God has placed you, you are to abound in the work of the Lord!

How do we accomplish this? Read and study our Bibles; pray; fellowship with other believers. We, Christians, have a work to do for the Lord, and our labor is not in vain. We must pray for help to live our lives always focused upon the Lord Jesus Christ. When we get up in the morning, as we work through our duties of each day, when we sit down to rest, and as we prepare for bed in the evening, we are to meditate upon the Lord.

The days are short; our life is but a vapor in the realm of time. Every breath we take is an opportunity to live for Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, March 16, 2009

Exalted!

10 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.
11 Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.


1 Chronicles 29:10-11, KJV

While this passage is really a blessing that David pronounced to the Lord, rather than a benediction, its message is so encouraging that I decided to include it in my series of Bible benedictions.

David never tired of blessing the Lord, not only in the Psalms, but throughout the historical books as well. We live in such a "me" centered culture that it is good for us to reflect again and again the truth of our victory in Christ. There is no room for a single, "me" in our lives; all glory goes to the Lord our God who is exalted as head above all.

Look at the attributes of God that David included in this blessing. Thine, O Lord, is the:

*Greatness
*Power
*Glory
*Victory
*Majesty

Who else could receive such acclaim? No one!

In this time of uncertainty, when we see the effects of a failing economy all around us, let us remember the God we serve. Are these difficulties too great for our God? Does He suffer when the economy suffers? Of course not!

Take some time today to meditate on this blessing given by David. What an amazing God we serve. He is able to deliver us from all evil.

Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Glory in Men

21Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
22Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
23And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23, KJV

Notice the beginning of today's Bible benediction. Let no man glory in men. This was originally written almost 2000 years ago, and yet it directly applies to our culture today, does it not? We spend millions of dollars just for the purpose of glorying in men! Who are considered to be the most wise or sought after in our culture? Well, they most certainly must have a college degree, and it does not hurt if they are rich, and it is a real plus if they are also good looking; they also earn extra points for being a successful actor or a professional athlete.

But wait a minute! How does this benediction end? Let no man glory in men, for all things are yours . . . and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. That certainly changes things. How can we glory in ourselves or other men or women when none of us truly own anything. Everything we have, even our education, riches, good looks, and athletic abilities, do not belong to us or come from us. Everything we have belongs to Christ; and everything Christ has belongs to God.

To quote a famous book title, How Then Shall We Live? If we have nothing, because everything we have belongs to God, are we being good stewards of everything God has given to us? How should we view our duties of this day?

This reminds me of a Bible verse I memorized as a child from Colossians 3:17.

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Singing with Grace

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:15-16, KJV

What rules you? Sometimes I think my teenagers rule me; they seem to think that their schedule is my schedule. Other times, I must admit, I am ruled by worry, and most often, I seem to be ruled by my own schedule. How does that happen?

So, I was struck by the beginning of this Bible benediction. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. I can understand how that would help me with my worries, but what about others who control my schedule--or even my own schedule controlling me? Do these things happen apart from God? Do you think the real problem might be selfishness on my part? (Hey, I am not afraid of admitting it!) My own schedule is mostly dictated by my work schedule (I teach piano lessons.) Of course we need the income, and I enjoy teaching, so that should not really be a burden, should it?

So, let's go on with our Bible passage. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . . and be ye thankful. Notice, it is not a suggestion; it is a command. Be ye thankful.

Our benediction does not end there either. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

When the peace of God rules our hearts and the Word of God dwells within us, what more do we need? Now, that is truly enough to make my heart sing! I encourage you this day, to pray for grace to let the peace of God rule in your heart and the Word of God dwell within you, so that you, too, will find yourself singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Perfect Heart

59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:
60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

1 Kings 8:59-61

Today's Bible Benediction is a continuation of yesterdays, from 1 Kings 8:56-58. We already noted yesterday that God spreads His Word through the life testimonies of His people; notice how the writer acknowledges that very thought today. Then, in verse 61, we are again reminded that all of our righteous acts come from the help of God; we can not do anything good apart from the Lord our God.

I know that no one can actually work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but have you ever noticed that, more often than not, your children get sick in the evenings or on weekends when the doctor's office is closed? Our God is never "closed," so we can say with the writer, I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night. There is no time when He is not able to maintain the cause of His people.

What happens when God answers that prayer? It shows! That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else. We do not live in a vacuum; others see when God faithfully works on our behalf.

Do you know what the really good news is? We can have perfect hearts! Wow! Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day. With the Lord our God, we can have perfect hearts which will give us the desire to walk in God's commandments and to keep His statutes.

Now that is a thought to carry with us throughout this day. Praise God that we are not left to ourselves to somehow try to live for the Lord. When we call out to Him to help us be faithful, He answers that prayer.

59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: 60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else. 61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, March 12, 2009

God is Not Dead!

56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.

1 Kings 8:56-58, KJV

1 Kings 8 gives us an extended Bible benediction covering six verses, the first three of which we will look at today. Notice the progression from verse 56 to verses 57 and 58. The Lord has given rest, the Lord is implored to remain with us, and our response (also brought about by the Lord) is to incline our hearts to him.

We know from the history of the Israelites, that they were not always known for their faithfulness to God, but it is interesting to note that they did realize that their rest from their enemies was the work of God. It is too bad that we have forgotten that lesson today.

As such, they plead in verse 57 that this same God would continue to be with them as He was with their fathers. How different would our world leaders act today if they truly believed that good would only come to them by the hand of God? Sadly, we live in a time when man has become his own god!

Notice the implication, then, in verse 58, where it says, That he may incline our hearts unto him. How do we walk in His ways and keep his commandments, statutes, and judgments? Only through the power and help He gives us can we even obey His commandments!

What a fitting benediction for our day. Our world leaders may not acknowledge these truths, but do we? That is where it must start. God works among His people, they teach His truths to their families, and as His people rub shoulders with others in their work and recreation, the Gospel is spread. So let us continue to faithfully spread the message, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Called to be Saints

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:7, KJV

Paul usually introduces himself and states his purpose at the beginning of his letters to the churches. What an introduction he writes for the book of Romans! He tells us who he is, what his subject matter is, and to whom this book is written.

Who is Paul? The answer is in Romans 1:1, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God. I know Paul spent his entire life as a missionary for Christ, but in reality all Christians are called to be servants of Christ and to be separated unto the Gospel of God. Oftentimes we relegate this distinction to just full-time Christian servants such as pastors and missionaries, putting them on a pedestal above the rest of us common people. God puts no one on a pedestal, nor does He exempt anyone from service to Him with a life separated unto the gospel of God. He puts us all in different walks of life, but we all have the same purpose, and in that sense, we are all full-time Christian servants!

What subject matter has inspired Paul to write this book the the church at Rome?

3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.

To whom is this book written? To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints. The book of Romans was written for Christians, first in Rome and then for all Christians everywhere.

Then, we have the benediction. Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. These words have a familiar ring; Paul has used these words in other benedictions. I think it is interesting to note that we usually think of a benediction as coming at the end of a worship service, article, or book. Yet, this Bible benediction comes at the beginning.

So what have we learned? We Christians are called to be servants of God, separated unto the Gospel of God. Paul encourages us by invoking grace and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ are our only true sources of grace through salvation by Christ, and peace in knowing that our God is supreme, all-powerful, all-knowing, and completely able to provide for all of our needs.

Take that thought with you today as you go about the normal duties of life that God has assigned to you.

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The King Eternal

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17, KJV

The focus in this benediction is the King eternal, immortal, invisible, and the only wise God. That is quite a mouthful, but what does it mean?

God is eternal: God had no beginning and he has no end. Because we are such people of time, it is impossible for us to truly understand this concept. How can anything have no beginning? I do not understand it either, but what a wonderful truth. God is not finite like we are--He is infinite! Should we not be flocking to His Word as this truth gradually seeps in our comprehension.

God is immortal: God is not a mortal such as we are; as such He does not have the limitations that mortals have. No one can harm or destroy God or cause Him to deviate from the plan He has chosen for this world. His is the only winning team!

God is invisible: God is not limited by time and space as we are. He can be everywhere at once, and He can live within our hearts all at the same time. As Christians, we take God with us everywhere we go; He will never leave us or forsake us.

God is the only wise God: God is wisdom! There is no wisdom apart from God! Man may increase in learning, but does that make him more wise? Many times the most learned have less wisdom than those who have no schooling at all. Wisdom comes from God; it does not come from books (except God's Book).

Yes, to this God be honor and glory forever and ever!

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fear God!

13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 & 14, KJV

The richest man in the world did a study to find what brought true joy and peace. He built beautiful gardens, brought in silver and gold from all over the world, enjoyed the most beautiful of women, wrote many wise proverbs, and yet, in the end, his conclusion was that all of it only brought emptiness. In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon tells of his search for meaning in life. The conclusion, or benediction, is shown in the last two verses of Ecclesiastes.

What is the whole duty of man? Fear God and keep His commandments. Does that sum up our lives? Is that what is uppermost in our thoughts and actions? Sadly, even we Christians must say "No," to that question. We spend most of our lives struggling to make a living, and working hard to please those around us. However, the only one we need to please is the Lord Jesus Christ.

It sounds too simplistic, does it not? Why is it so important?

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

What can you take with you from this life? Only the works done for Christ shall last for eternity. Pray today that God would help you to shrug off the things of the world that consume you most, and live completely for him, in your mind, your body, and your soul!

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, March 06, 2009

Forever!

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 23, King James Version


I am taking a short break from my series of Bible Benedictions to write this devotional in honor of my mother, who went home to be with the Lord on February 28th.

I am so thankful for parents who made sure that we were in church each Sunday. As a child, I learned Psalm 23 as well as many other passages of Scripture which have under girded my life ever since.

My parents represented an incredible generation that went through the depression and World War II. My mother knew what it was like to not have any food to eat. She knew what it was like to follow news of the war, knowing every day that she might never see her husband again, and that he might never know his son.

When the troops came home, a new adjustment was necessary. There were no jobs! Yet, my parents lived through adversity after adversity seeing God faithfully providing for them through the post-war years. It was not an easy time, and everything was not always rosy at home.

Yet, God faithfully brought both parents safely through life--they both reached their mid-eighties before God took them home. Losing Dad two years ago devastated my mother. After being together for 65 years, she was left alone, struggling for a purpose in her own life.

These last few months, as her health began to fail, she moved in with my sister and brother-in-law.
Every day she read the Bible--until she was no longer able to read. Then, she enjoyed having the Bible read to her. Now she is home with her Lord and Savior and my Dad and sister. What a joyous reunion! So, though I am saddened by my loss, I rejoice at her gain.

Psalm 23 was her favorite Psalm. As you read it, I pray that you will take comfort in its absolute truth. Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for God is with us. . . . And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

God Bless You,
Linda