Blog Archives

The God of our Salvation!

psalms-68-19

 

Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation!
—Psalm 68:19

 

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR (Part 2) [REPOST]

~This is the second part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

 

Last Thursday we read how Jesus spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father in teaching and serving others.

God’s plan was in place.

Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

The focus switches now to Judas.

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… —John 13:2

All sin begins in the heart. Only when it is acted upon does it become sin.

We can read about this downward slide in chapter 1 of James:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. —James: 1:13-16

If you look up the verses in the Bible where Judas is mentioned, you learn he was covetous. We know this because it tells us he was a thief. He didn’t need the money, he simply wanted the money. He had been with Jesus for three years. Did he think Jesus didn’t know he was stealing?

Our hearts deceive us too. We think God doesn’t see our secret sins but He does, just as Jesus knew Judas’ heart.

One of the most startling things to consider about Judas is that earlier in time, Jesus had also sent Judas to heal, cast out demons, etc.:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

—Matthew 10:1-8 (ESV)

Isn’t this astonishing? Judas was able to do all these things and saw these miracles and many more. He saw Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead, and yet he still didn’t believe with his heart.

Sobering thoughts, aren’t they? Doesn’t it give this portion of Matthew 7 a whole new perspective to ponder?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matt. 7:21-23

We all have preconceived ideas of what we expect of Jesus in our lives even if we are not aware of it. It is very likely that Judas had some preconceived ideas toohow he thought Jesus should be or doand it was not working out that way. From my point of view, this is probably part of why he was contemplating betraying Him.

Here is one of my thoughts [and remember, this is my opinion, not the Bible’s]: we know that two of the other disciples thought Jesus was going to set up His kingdom right away and free them from the Romans. We know this because their mother asked Jesus to give them the two highest political offices, on the right and the left of Him.

Maybe Judas expected, as they did, to have an important “cabinet” position such as Department of Treasury where he could have both prestige and siphon off a lot more money to help him grow rich and powerful.

Does that sound like some of today’s politicians?

When it became clear to Judas that Jesus had another plan, he was probably disillusioned and maybe even angry. He seemed to have forgotten all the miracles of the past.

Remember, it is only a few days before Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead! Judas was there!

How this applies to us.

Often when we pray, our preconceived or erroneous ideas expect God to answer in a specific way. Or maybe we wonder why He is sometimes silent. Perhaps there’s even some other way we are disappointed by the answer [or no answer] to our prayers.

We must guard our hearts so as not to let unbelief seep in and cause us to sin or to doubt that God always has our best interests at work in our lives.

When we are angry or fearful, or when things are not going well, we are vulnerable. But sometimes we are equally vulnerable when we are on the “mountaintop.”

Therefore, we must be like Jesus: keep focused on the mission.

.

To be continued next Thursday…

…..

…..

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Joyous Hearts [REPOST]

As I wrote last week, I need to scale back big-time on my blog writing this summer. I have shared writings from my other mentor, Pat Knight. She is the author of two devotional books, Pure Joy and REJOICE! and graciously allows me to share devotionals from both of these books from time to time. I’ll be re-sharing more of these treasures with you on the next several Treasure Tuesdays.

As I wrote recently, today is the first of several Treasure Tuesday devotionals by my long-distance friend and mentor, Pat Knight. Today’s devotional is taken from her book, REJOICE!

JOYOUS HEARTS

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. —Proverbs 15:30

Like the tantalizing, sizzling colors winding downward from the primary discharge of the fireworks display, in our thoughts we can supplant joy for the flashes of brilliantly colored light. As each burst produces unique colors and patterns, the major hues trailing through the sky divide and convert into brilliant colors until the fizzle of the initial burst recedes as the point of light remains.

Joy functions in much the same manner. A person with an effervescent spirit engages another in conversation or simply flashes a smile as a friendly gesture. There are burst and sparks of light, like an inner energy that is communicated from one source of joy. From the first burst of enthusiasm, joy divides into cheerful jubilation until, with just a spark of joy remaining, the fire is rekindled in the recipient’s heart, leaving the opportunity for the qualities of joy to increase until another vivacious spirit carries joy along to split and grow. “Rejoice always” [Philippians 4:4] is a direct command. Rejoice is the action verb of the noun joy.

Joy is a gift from God, like fireworks in a night sky with all manner of sparkling light piercing into our lives and awakening us to God’s inner workings. Joy is jubilation made evident as we worship God in the splendor of His majesty. Joy never loses its energy, emerging to consistently provide gratefulness during hardships and trials. “Rejoice always.” Joy is a command. Joy is active and reactive. When we radiate joy, we multiply its benefits and affect others by our delight and good cheer.

Gardening gloves that have been left outside to the elements need the fingers turned inside out to examine for the presence of insects or the growth of mildew on the fabric before being pulled onto the hand. God resides in the Christian’s heart where He is in charge of the seat of our emotions. Just as the gloves were turned inside out to reveal any internal growth, if our hearts were examined from the inside, joy would be clinging to the sides and growing prolifically, yearning for an outward expression. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” [Matthew 12:34b].

Joy is an inner smile seeking an outlet. When we rejoice, we are exposing gladness of the heart. God resides in our hearts, at the epicenter of our emotional activity, surrounded by our joy. He also commands that we share joy with others. Joy is self-perpetuating: The more we share, the more we generate. There is little danger of diminishing our supply. Our worship of God creates a flourishing joy, used to extend enthusiasm and exuberance, naturally emitting a vital emotional energy. Joy is powerful, with the capacity to reach an apathetic heart with love and goodwill. For the Christian, “rejoice always” is not an optional activity, but a command from our Father in heaven. Cast a glimmer of joy and observe the magnificent light show that ensues.

My dear Pat, thank you so much for blessing all of us through your writing.

Beloved, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

…..

…..

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR [REPOST]

So far this summer—which actually felt like it began last April—has felt like a roller coaster ride. And I hate roller coasters! I unexpectedly have a good day so of course I do more than I probably should, and then spend several days to a week or more in recovery/payback mode.

As I’ve stated before, summer is the most difficult time of year for me. Although I cherish the rain we sorely need here in the northern Arizona desert, the monsoon weather taxes my body to the utmost. Last week I felt like I was about 95 as I S-L-O-W-L-Y pushed my shopping cart through the store. My migraine shrieked its presence as every single joint cried out in pain.

No worries though. God’s always got my back and I am forever thankful for that. He gives me just enough energy to do what He has planned for me, so I’ll ride out this monsoon season as best I can and thank Him for anything I can do to share His message of faith, love, joy and hope.

Life is full of challenges for all of us but my challenges are sometimes measured in minutes or hours. Instead of completely shutting down this blog, I have made the hard decision to prioritize rest by not writing as much as I would like to. Instead, I’ll be sharing more of my previous posts with you, along with posting some uplifting images from time to time. I pray you’ll understand and bear with me.

VectorPageDivider

As I wrote you last Thursday, today begins the series on John 13 by my friend and mentor, Donna Baker. Again, thank you, Donna, for allowing me to share your heart with my readers.

 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. –John 13:1

This was not only the last night of Jesus’ life, but He knew in mere hours He would be tortured and crucified: the most cruel form of death.

And yet He spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father, in teaching and serving others.

If we faced that, would we be fulfilling our religious obligations, teaching others—calm, methodical, focused on the goal—or would we be ricocheting off the walls, focused on the end? It’s quite unlikely we would be calm. Maybe we’d even be crying and praying. Jesus did that too in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night.

He was after all, human.

He was obeying God and His written Word in spite of what faced Him.

It was the Feast of the Passover when all Jewish males were to go to Jerusalem to attend the Feast:

The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—

My appointed times are these:…

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.’”

—Leviticus 23:1-2, 5

Jesus was not only to go to the Feast, He was to be the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice for all the sin of all mankind. There are so many Scriptures that say this, but I only want to dwell now on the one in John 1, where John the Baptist foretold of Him:

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! —John 1:29

The Jews had wanted to kill Him for years, but they didn’t want to do it during the Passover. However God had other plans and His plans are never thwarted:

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

The Jews thought they were in control but reading about the last night of Jesus’ life should put that idea to rest with anyone who reads it. God caused all things to be as they were foretold in the Old Testament. There are too many to list here.

Be an Acts 17:11 Christian and look them up and you will be amazed at Your God!!

Now these were more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. —Acts 17:11

God’s plan was in place. Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

Beloved, as you pray today, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I in lockstep with God’s plan for me today?
  • Am I spending enough time listening to Him through His Word and in prayer?
  • Am I trusting God for my future even if it is a harsh future, or even death?
  • Am I praying and caring only for myself or for others as Jesus did in His last hours?

To be continued next Thursday…

 

 

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Joy Inexpressible, Part 2

Last week I shared Pat Knight’s devotional entitled Joy Inexpressible, Part 1. Today I give you Part 2.

joy

…..

Joy Inexpressible

Part 2

By Patricia Knight

God not only fills us with joy but also adds a sweet fragrance to that joy.

“But thanks be to God,
who also leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing”

(2 Corinthians 2: 14,15).

“The fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Now, that should cause us to smile. So much revenue is spent on cosmetics, many for the purpose of erasing deep frown lines that have formed over the years. Smiling takes substantially fewer muscles than frowning. Did you ever practice smiling in front of a mirror? It provides a light-hearted experience, putting a smile on your face, and one in your heart.

There are some extremely expensive fragrances on the market for which both women and men pay lofty amounts. As aromatic as these may be, there is no sweeter fragrance than that emitted by Jesus. We “are to God the aroma of Christ” among people being won to Him. What a privilege and a responsibility! We need not think we have to spread His joy alone. God manufactures it and gives it to us, the most expensive fragrance in the world, bought with the highest sacrifice in heaven and on earth. Then, God will help us distribute it to the destitute in heart. The source is readily available, renewable, and inexhaustible.

Gal5-22-23Joy is one of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). In a long line of attributes, joy is second in line, snuggling right up close with love. We are told to have joy, ALWAYS! Have we been neglecting something important in our lives? We need possession of the immediate joy that sparks a flame of excitement plus the persistent joy that produces a daily expression of happiness and thanksgiving.

Worship flows naturally out of a thankful, joyful heart.

Praise, song and love all emerge from a heart previously primed with joy.

When we are consumed with joy, there is no room for negativism. As we are caught up in serving God and men with a happy heart, we are celebrating God and the joy He places there for us. When we share with others, our joy multiplies and carries with it a sweet aroma. People are encouraged.

Phil2_14We are commanded to do everything without complaining or grumbling (Philippians 2:14). I have never learned how to express joy while complaining, nor do I believe God intends for us to combine the two.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:12). Choices are made from the attitudes we form. No matter how negative our lives appear, no one can force us to match it with a negative attitude. Even though we tend to blame others for our problems, we as Christians are to rise above our circumstances. We choose our responses. We also choose joy. Though joy is free flowing and available, we have to embrace it for our personal life style for it to become an effective tool for us. An outpouring of our inner joyfulness is our gift to others.

In my earlier career, I worked at a medical facility where a friend of mine was later hired in the social services department. Martha was the most effervescent, enthusiastic and happy woman I had ever met. She possessed a beautiful smile and used it unsparingly, with a deep, engaging laugh. Other workers were aloof toward her and later shared with me that they didn’t trust Martha and were suspicious of her. They reasoned that she was too happy and smiled too much. I am still shocked by their logic. The unhappy, insecure workers were not going to befriend a newcomer who embodied joy and confidence. Studies have proven the power of a positive attitude in achieving the healing and recovery process. Martha understood the benefit of permeating her life and profession with joy.

Each day we have a predetermined amount of energy. When our supply of energy is used positively and creatively, we contribute to the joy in our lives and in the lives of others. If we look for laughter and sunshine wherever we go, we are able to increase the joy that we discover. Joy shared is multiplied. Joy restrained is limited. God commands that we prioritize joy. Look for the brilliance in the early morning sunrise, the diamonds bouncing off the rippling water, and the crystals radiating from newly fallen snow. Then, store those scenes in your mental imagery and share that beautiful joy with someone else when the opportunity arises.

Ps100-1-2

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name”

(Psalm 100: 1, 2, 4).

That same compelling joy will gladden your own heart and travel far and wide to affect the lives of others.

…..

P”

Pat, you are one of the most joyful people I have ever met and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this wonderful and joyful devotional! 

PureJoy“Joy Inexpressible” is from Pat’s devotional book, Pure Joy.

Beloved, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of Pure Joy, please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

…..

…..

…..

…..

 

VectorPageDivider

 

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

…..

…..

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

 

My Peace, My Comfort, My Hope

Psalm27-13-14--wait

I would have despaired
unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
yes, wait for the Lord.
—Psalm 27:13-14

 

Joy Inexpressible, Part 1

Today I once again have the delightful privilege of sharing another of Pat Knight’s writings. She and I have been talking more lately about joy and how to hang on tight to it while living with chronic pain. I think this devotional from her book, Pure Joy, was particularly appropriate right now.

This part 1 of 2.

1Pet1-8-9

…..

Joy Inexpressible

Part 1

By Patricia Knight

 Joy!

What a small word for such a giant effect it creates in others and us. “Joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) is how our Guidebook, the Bible, assumes is the attitude and method of every Christian. Joy is dynamic and ready to do its work. Joy can flow out from one person to another or it can rush in to fill a life.

The exchange of wedding vows, the birth of a child, the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s life are times when joy knows no bounds. It overflows, gushes, whirls, either causing an action or a reaction. We cannot ignore joy. And, who would want to disregard such an important emotion?

The times we remember best in our lives are the joyous occasions, those that offer us great delight and gladness of heart.

Psalm126-3

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalms 126:3). “Filled with joy” is not a phrase I hear used often, but it sure does sound like a good idea to be infused, saturated, slathered with a good dose of joy. Imagine the result if we were all living joy-filled lives. I rarely hear about it, though I have heard of the opposite—”to be filled with anger.” I can even envision that anger at work, as a person’s face reddens and his voice and actions become irrational. As Christians, we are commanded to have joy. There’s no preference of when to have or when to share it. Joy must be an integral part of our being, with instant preparedness for sharing.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:4-7). Notice how joy, thanksgiving, and prayer have all been interlocked in this command. For us to have joy, we need to be thankful. If we follow God’s command to give thanks in all things, we will be joyful people. If we have joy in our own lives, then we yearn to give it away. Living in perpetual communication with our Lord, our supply will never be depleted.

“Let your gentleness be known to all.” God means all-inclusive, no matter to whom, in whatever conditions and circumstances we find ourselves, and for all reasons. The word “all” can be a little tricky. It is a small, three-letter word that can easily be ignored. It isn’t a difficult word to understand, but applying its meaning to our everyday life presents a challenge. In my personal life, I have struggled with expressing joy and thanks for constant pain. There doesn’t seem to be a purpose to it. That’s when God asks me to be thankful and trust Him enough to be joyful regardless of my life’s circumstances. I have to acknowledge that before the pain enters my body, God has approved it and because it is part of His plan for my life, I can thank Him that His will is being done and be joyful in His decisions for my life.

PraisingGodInSong

“The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).  To be “overtaken by joy”? That is what God says. What would result if all of us took a new approach to joy? I suggest that we all begin a new day with an abundant, heaped-to-the-top-and-running-over package of joy.

Perhaps that sounds a little fantastic, not really credible. If God is in charge, and He tells us that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27), then being overtaken with joy is possible. I want to be overtaken with joy so that there is no room for conflicting negative emotions. Nothing can quench the joy. If it were God’s wish that we be completely consumed with joy, then why do we find ourselves moping about at times, bemoaning our situation? God may wonder too. If He has given the instruction, He will also give the strength and power to accomplish what He has commanded.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”

(2 Timothy 1:7).

P”T

Stay tuned for Part 2!

VectorPageDivider

 

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

…..

…..

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

 

The Heart of Jesus [repost from Joni Eareckson Tada]

This wonderful devotional from Joni Eareckson Tada is from her Joni  and Friends web site.

Daily Devotional

Joni Eareckson Tada’s inspirational daily devotionals are biblical insights that will enrich,
enlighten, and encourage you in your walk with Christ Jesus.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.”
—Lamentations 3:32-33

What do you think was on the Lord’s heart when He healed those who were paralyzed? When He opened the eyes of the blind? What was the Lord feeling when He counseled the father of the little boy who was gripped by seizures?

There are those who point to such miracles as signs of Christ’s messiahship, saying, “Jesus healed those people as evidence of His authority as the Son of God. By such power, He was proving He was the Messiah.” And they are right. But praise God, there is more.

Christ did not use helpless people to advance His own agenda. He did not enlist hurting men and women only as audio-visual aids to teach an important lesson about Himself. Neither did He approach blind, deaf, or paralyzed people in an emotional vacuum. Scripture often tells us that He was moved with compassion when He saw the hurting masses.

When it comes to suffering, Lamentations 3:32-33 reveals the heart intent of Jesus. He does not willingly, or that is, from the heart bring affliction of grief. Suffering may be part of God’s larger and most mysterious plan, but God’s intention is always to demonstrate compassion and unfailing love which touches people at their deepest point of need.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness”
(Lamentations 3:22-23).

Lord, may I never doubt what’s on your mind and heart when I suffer. You are full of love and compassion. Thank You for only permitting in my life what I am able to endure with Your grace.  Bless You for Your unfailing love.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust. Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Time for a Rest

Taking-a-break

I am sad to say that I am in the middle of another FMS/CFIDS flare. When that happens, I need to cut back on all my activities while I ride this out, so for at least the next couple of weeks I will be taking a necessary break from blogging. Those of you who are also bloggers will understand how many hours are consumed in composing each blog post—even the most seemingly simple ones. 

I am so thankful for all of you and look forward to being back with you in June.

Beloved, as always, I praise God for carrying me through these tough times. I really have no clue how I could handle these flares without the perfect peace of His close presence in my life!

Isaiah-26-3

 

Amen!

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Joyful … Hopeful … Prayerful

Romans-12-12

 

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 531 other followers

%d bloggers like this: