OUR GOD WHO SAVES US

January 4, 2016

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:3-6)

We can praise our God who saves us because He is kind, full of love and mercy. We can be thankful that He doesn’t save us by our works of righteousness or good deeds; because we’ve all messed up so many times that the balance would be severely tilted – and not in our favor!

Our God who saves us knew that we could never measure up to His perfect standard. That’s why “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Let’s praise our God who saves us today because of His mercy that we receive through Jesus!

(Join me every Monday in a quest to know God better in 2016)

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THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE – An Easter Acronym

April 13, 2014

Is Easter only about colored, decorated eggs, the Easter bunny, “Peeps” and jelly beans? Is it simply another long weekend? Or is Easter about having the table set with fine china, an impressive Easter centerpiece and an excess of well-prepared food? What is Easter?

We can best understand Easter by seeing what God has to say about it. After all, it was His greatest act of love that prompts this annual celebration: The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Looking at an acronym for the word “Easter” will give us insight into its meaning.

E – Everlasting life. That’s the foundation of our celebration. In one of the most well-known Bible verses, we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

A – Assurance. In a long heart-to-heart session with His followers shortly before His death, Jesus assured them (and us) “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)

S – Salvation. Before Jesus made his physical appearance on earth, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, announcing Christ’s arrival. He said: “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

T – The Gift. Throughout the Bible, we are reminded that we are all sinners, deserving death. But we praise God that “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

E – Enemies. That’s what we were when Christ died for us. Because Jesus died, we are offered reconciliation. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “…when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)

R – Resurrection. To a woman who was grieving the death of her brother, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26)

Color the eggs. Eat the “Peeps” and jelly beans and enjoy your delicious family meal. But always remember God’s greatest act of love, and let the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection be the center of your celebration. That’s what Easter is all about!


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – S

December 11, 2013

All in favor of a story with a good ending? “Servant” is the name of Jesus for the “S” in our Christmas acronym, (see the December 1 post) and the end of the story is VERY good! In fact, there never was, nor ever will be an ending to a story like this one.

In the prophecies of Isaiah, centuries before the birth of Christ, we find passages that are titled the “servant songs”. They foretell Christ’s mission of redemption and salvation; they promise that He would be a light to those who walk in darkness, and give freedom to all who languish in bondage. The suffering, sorrow, rejection and death of Jesus are all depicted. The story is bad, but it doesn’t end there.

The plot takes a turn in Isaiah 53:11, where it starts to get better. We read that “He (Jesus) shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge, My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” We have the opportunity to be justified – acquitted from guilt and to be declared righteous before our holy God – because Jesus came as God’s righteous Servant. Praise God!

Later, the Apostle Paul, reminding us that Christ came as a servant, describes the events of the end of the story this way: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him (His Servant!) and given Him a name which is above every name, (here it comes….) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

Now we know the end of the story, and it will be good! Let’s celebrate Jesus, God’s Servant, this Christmas season by bowing our knees before Him in worship, and confessing that He is Lord of our lives. That will be VERY good!


CHRISTMAS ACRONYM – C

December 3, 2013

We are building our Christmas acronym with the names of Christ. Although there are several of His names that start with the letter “C”, today we’ll look at only one: CHRIST.

NEWSFLASH: “Christ” is not the last name of Jesus. “Christ” is the Greek translation of “Messiah”, which literally means “The Anointed One.” In the Old Testament, Kings, priests and prophets were anointed with oil, symbolizing that God had set them aside for a very special mission.

Christ Himself explained His special mission in John 10:10-18. In that passage, He declared that He came to lay down His life, and give “abundant life.” Later in Ephesians 2:4 and 5, the apostle Paul wrote: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

Yes, Christ is the Anointed One who fulfilled a very special mission: He came to give us the gift of abundant, eternal life. As you give and receive gifts this Christmas season, thank God for LIFE in Jesus, the greatest gift of all. It can’t be bought or wrapped; you won’t find it under any Christmas tree….but you can receive it in your heart!

“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23


COUNT YOUR “S” BLESSINGS

November 21, 2013

How’s your “Count Your Many Blessings” list going? Today we’re on the outlook for “S” blessings. Some of my list looks like this:

Surprises, sandwiches, supermarkets, salt for flavor and salt for icy sidewalks, singing, salaries, sunrises, salad, sales (especially “Clearance” sales), sunsets, Snickerdoodles, sunshine, sight, soap, swimming, Sundays, stars, shoes, summertime, spinach, snorkeling, smoke detectors, shampoo, stories, and the best “S” blessing, salvation.

Our eternal salvation in Christ supersedes all the A to Z blessings! We can survive without a lot of the blessings we’ve mentioned in the past weeks, but they are all secondary. Because of Jesus, we are assured of the blessing of salvation. Praise Him for that “S” blessing today!


SPRING CLEANING – STITCH, PITCH, DITCH, SWITCH

April 13, 2013

 

Spring’s here! We see “stuff” that accumulated during long, dark winter days. Lengthening daylight hours energize us to do Spring Cleaning; to manage our “stuff”. To do that, I created a simple strategy: switch, pitch, ditch, switch. I do that as I go from closet to bookshelf, to corner and cubby. Each item is categorized:

STITCH: That’s where salvageable things go that I’m committed to fixing. Stitch, glue, tighten a screw, tape, replace a part…you get the idea. Make it useable again.

PITCH: These are useable items that are in good shape and “pitched” into a box to donate: books I’ll never read again, clothes that don’t fit right, shoes, accessories, gadgets, etc. Plus…when I leave my stuff at the thrift store, I get to go in and pick up things for next Spring’s “Pitch Box”!

DITCH: Some things simply have to go. These are things that are way past the “Pitch” stage and won’t help anyone: severely worn, shabby looking, un-fixable. That’s why we have weekly trash pick-up!

SWITCH: To get to this category, first I have to either “pitch” or “ditch” an item. I need a new one. Why keep burning toast because the toaster only works on HI? Why keep shoving that old red jacket with a broken zipper and frayed elbows to the back of the closet? Or what about all those clothes that are too small? (Come on, we all have them…) I’ll ditch those things and go bargain hunting!

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GOD DITCHES AND SWITCHES! He sees the sin-stained, selfish, salvageable heart that separates us from His presence, and promises to ditch it. In Ezekiel 36:26-28 God promises us: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; (SWITCH) I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh (DITCH) and give you a heart of flesh (SWITCH). I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them … you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”

If you’ve never let God DITCH your old, sinful heart and SWITCH it to a clean new one, let Him do that! God specializes in making new hearts through faith in Jesus! Your life will change forever, and you will spend eternity with Him!

Those of us who have that new heart know that we often need Him to STITCH it. The promise of 1 John 1:7 assures us that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” We can praise Him for that! God wants us to be willing to do whatever needs to be done in our lives: STITCH, DITCH, or SWITCH!

Happy Spring Cleaning!


A QUEST FOR “…BUT GOD”

March 24, 2011

My cousin Janice and I grew up next door to each other. We were probably together almost literally every day until she graduated from high school. Even after all those years – and we won’t say how many – and hundreds of miles, we still keep in touch. After I posted the last blog, “DIALOGUE BETWEEN DOUBT AND TRUST”, Janice sent me an e-mail that said:  “…I always say “but God” is my favorite part of the Bible. But for God where would we be????”

Janice’s comment got me thinking. Isn’t it true that when we think we are in an impossible situation and we cry out to God, either He gives us His strength to handle it or He changes the situation? When God steps in, the impossible happens. Those are the times that, when we look back we can say “This is where I was…but God…”

It also got me searching. I’m on a quest for “…but God” situations in the Bible. I’ve already discovered a few, but the very first one I found is probably the biggest and best. The apostle Paul penned it. In Ephesians 2, verses 1 through 3 he says that we were “dead in trespasses in sins”, going on to describe behavior that is characteristic of a sinful lifestyle. Dead; an impossible situation. Then in verses 4-5 we read:

BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

Isn’t that the most wonderful “…but God” there is? I was dead in sin, but God, who is rich in mercy made me alive! That “…but God” is so rich, so comforting and real, that I think I’ll just suspend my “…but God” quest for a few days and savor that one. Thanks, Janice, for the inspiration!


FOCUS

June 10, 2010

Several years ago, while visiting a dear aunt and uncle who were very elderly, my sister Carole and I were enjoying some of the thousands of old pictures Uncle Ted had taken throughout his lifetime. (He always had at least one camara hanging around his neck!) Holding up one ancient, age-yellowed picture, I asked: “Aunt Anna, who’s in this picture?” Wrong question to ask anyone from across the room, and even more wrong when that person is elderly and has failing eyesight! I’ll always remember her quick reply: “I can’t even see you. How do you expect me to know who’s in the picture?” Aunt Anna’s eyes had lost their ability to focus.

Sometimes our hearts lose their focus, too. We lose sight of God. It’s hard to distinguish what’s important and what’s not. We become frustrated because we are disoriented. What would happen if we would make an effort to focus on Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith”? (Hebrews 12:2) Here’s the challenge I’m laying out for myself, to get back my focus….

FOCUS – Not on my circumstances. If they are good, I’m in danger of forgetting God; if they are bad, I could turn away from Him. (Proverbs 30:7-9) I’ll focus on God, who allows my circumstances!

FOCUS – Not on my problems or pain. They can discourage me. I’ll focus on the Healer instead! (Isaiah 61:1)

FOCUS – Not on the answer I desperately want when I pray. It can sidetrack me. I’ll focus on the One who hears and answers my prayers. (Psalm 34:17)

FOCUS – Not on my possessions, or lack of them. They can easily become idols. I’ll focus on God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. (1st Timothy 6:17)

FOCUS – Not on others. They can change and let me down. I’ll focus on my unchanging, faithful God! (Psalm 118:5)

FOCUS – Not on myself, my weaknesses or failures. That can discourage me! I’ll focus instead on God, whose strength is perfected when I am weak! ((2nd Corinthians 12:9)

FOCUS – Not on the past. That can make me stagnant. I’ll focus on God, who promised to do something new! (Isaiah 43:19)

FOCUS – Not on the future. Worry can overtake me. I’ll focus on my Heavenly Father, who knows all my needs, and provides for them! (Matthew 6:25-34)

FOCUS – Not on trying to be good enough to earn my way to heaven. My best efforts will not suffice. I’ll focus on God, who gave me the gift of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

One day, my eyesight may fail, and like Aunt Anna, I won’t recognize who’s sitting across my living room. I pray that even then, my heart would be focused on God. I praise God because I know that when these physical eyes close for the very last time they will open in His presence – totally focused on HIM, face to face!


ACROSTICS

March 4, 2010

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Colossians 3:16

Words are intriguing. I enjoy dissecting them, rearranging them, studying them, learning new ones, comparing them, and even translating them! One way I like to relax is playing Scrabble Blast on www.pogo.com or the brain building word games on www.prevention.com.

It seems like this trait is inherited. Mom was a word-lover.  Anyone who knew her knows that she was not only an avid reader way into her 90’s, but she authored hundreds of beautiful poems that were published in a book when she was 93! She always did the crossword puzzle in the Akron Beacon Journal. She was invincible at Scrabble and Boggle. Up until the end of her life, she spent hours doing word searches, the large letter ones by then, and we would often find her reading her well-worn Bible with a magnifying glass.

Something I find entertaining is creating acrostics. Take a word, line the letters up vertically and use each one to start another one. This is one way to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”, as the Apolstle Paul encourages us to do. The more we meditate on His word, the richer we become in it. Let’s take the word PROMISE for example, and write words of what God promises us in His word: 

PEACE: “My peace I give you” (John 14:27) 

REST: “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

OLD things pass away when we are in Christ (2nd Cor. 5:17)

MERCY: “For with the Lord there is mercy” (Psalm 130:7) 

INHERITANCE: We have “An inheritance  … that does not fade away.” (1st Peter 1:3)

SALVATION: “Nor is there salvation in any other” (speaking of Jesus in Acts 4:12)

ETERNAL LIFE: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1st John 5:10)

My encouragement today is to get into the Word of Life, look up those promises, meditate on them, thank God for them, and make them part of your life. Grab a piece of paper and invent your own acrostic. That’s one way to meditate on His Word! In future blogs, I’ll post other ways I’ve discovered that we can let the word of Christ dwell in us richly….stay with me!


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