God Sees

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (NASB) I decided to read the entire chapter to get a background of this verse. God is giving Isaiah a message to deliver to the Israelites. They observe the fasts as God required, however; they were doing so with wrong attitudes, wrong motivation, and a wrong commitment. They were fasting and observing holy days with an attitude that was not one of complete dedication to God. They would appear to be holy, yet mistreat their fellow Israelite, not feeding the hungry, having an attitude of, “It really doesn’t really matter if I’m totally committed to this, I’m going to do it my way.”

I decided to look up the definitions of attitude, motive, and commitment to be sure I was applying the correct words to the thoughts I’m trying to convey. Motive is defined as, “a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.” Attitude is defined as, “a settled way of thinking about someone or something…” Commitment is defined as, “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” In my mind, all of these can be combined in our justification for doing something.

Scripture tells us that God sees the heart (I Samuel 16:7) when others see the outside. We can appear to be so holy and yet have motivations and attitudes that are totally opposite from our actions. God was pointing out that they were not totally sincere in fasting and carrying out the observances He required, and therefore, He didn’t recognize their efforts. But if they would change their motivation, their attitude, and their commitment to Him, then He would bless them, He would guide them.

My mind goes to being on the Worship Team. I love being on the Worship Team! God has called me to use my musical abilities for Him, and it’s my outlet to show God how much I love Him! It gives me an opportunity to lift my voice and my instrument in praise to Him for everything He has done for me. But I also have to be very careful, because I can play and sing with wrong motivations and attitudes. Am I doing this for my own self-gratification and to get the accolades of those in the congregation, or am I singing and playing to give honor, praise, and glory to God? Does what I do point others to Jesus or to myself? Every time I get ready to step onto the platform at my church I pray and ask God to check my attitude. Is it proper, does it reflect Him and not myself? I’m committed to playing and singing, but why? That’s where I must look at myself and check that I’m doing this for Him and not me. I must remember it’s all about Him and not about me.

When I am obedient to what He wants me to do, then He blesses my efforts, He blesses my life, and He fills me with joy at having the opportunity to minister to others. He makes my soul satisfied, and I am like a well-watered garden, growing and full of Spiritual fruit. The more I am obedient to what He asks me to do, the more He blesses me and gives me peace and satisfaction. When I have the proper attitude and motivation, He is pleased with me, and my commitment to Him is even greater, and it is a joy to serve Him in everything I do. Doing an attitude/motivation check is a good way to be certain we are in line with God’s will and plan for our lives.

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God of the Impossible

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Romans 4:21, “and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” (NASB) This Scripture is about Abraham and the promise God gave him. To get background on the story we need to read Genesis 15 -18. God promised Abraham (Abram at the time) that he would have a son. Now to most people, that’s not a problem, but Abraham was 100 years old and his wife, Sarah (Sarai), was 90 and barren. But God did the impossible and they had their son of promise, Isaac.

There is great comfort in knowing that God does the impossible! It strengthens my faith and reinforces my trust in His ability to carry through on the promises He makes to me. When things look the most dismal, when all I see is impossible situations, God is there. The phrase, “But God” says it all. When logic tells us that nothing good can come out of this thing we’re going through, “But God!” When we are in despair and all we see is a deep, dark pit, “But God!” When we see NO answer in front of us, “But God!”

He is the answer and He provides the answers. He makes a way where there seems to be no way. The promises in His Word are for us and we can believe with our whole hearts that He will keep His promises. He proves it over and over again.

I can’t imagine what Abraham and Sarah must have thought. I mean, they are both well up in years, Sarah was well past the age of giving birth and had been barren her entire life, and yet God says they will have a son! The Bible says that when Sarah heard it, she laughed. (Genesis 18:12) I think I would too. I’d be thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Abraham believed God, and the book of Romans tells us that “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3 NASB) God’s promise was a covenant between Abraham and God (Genesis 15) God told Abraham that his descendants would be as the stars in the sky! God made a great nation from Abraham’s seed. As I was reading this passage, I saw that God told Abraham that his descendants would live in a land that was not their own and be enslaved (verse 13). They would have great possessions when their enslavement was over and the country who captured them would be punished by God. Then God gave the land we now know as Israel to Abraham and his descendants. That was a promise made to Abraham, and the fruition of that promise came about in 1948 as Israel became a nation. At the time, Jews had been escaping to the Promised Land, what we now know as Israel, to get out of the reach of the Nazis. Jews have been persecuted since the very beginning, and still are today. Their situation seems hopeless, enemies on all sides, the nations come against them…” But God!” They are His people and He protects them.

I love “But God” moments! It proves to me that He loves me, it proves that He knows just where I am and just what I’m going through, it proves that He will always have my back! He is the God of the impossible! Are you going through an impossible situation? Does the world seem to be at odds with you? Just remember, “But God!”

You Can Trust God’s Promises

Today’s Bible Journaling is taken from Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (NASB) I find so much comfort in reading this passage. God has made so many promises to us, and to know that He will do as He promises brings a sense of well-being, a sense that He is in control and will never go back on His word.

I was talking with my hubby about this passage and he relayed a story of something that happened when he lived in California. He had been offered a position as a maintenance man at a trailer park by a lady, and there was no contract drawn up, but an agreement was made by shaking hands. In my husband’s mind your word is your bond and should be taken as seriously as a contract. Well, a month goes by and he hears by way of the grapevine that he’s been let go and a relative of this lady has been put in the position. She never told him and so he confronted her. She gave some excuse and that was that. Well, evidently the relative didn’t work out because she came back to my hubby and asked if he would take the job again. Well, she had gone back on her word before and my husband wasn’t about to give her that opportunity again, so he said no because he couldn’t trust her. People will make promises and then not keep their word. But Moses writes that God is not man, He does not lie, and what He says He will do, He will do it.

Some people have problems in trusting God because of the actions of people. Especially if they have issues with their father. God is our Heavenly Father, and for us, our earthly father is supposed to be an example of our Heavenly Father. When that example is not a good one, then our view of God is skewed. Then it is hard to see God as a loving, Father who will keep His promises. Too many times those who have had that poor example have a hard time trusting. They can’t believe that what they are promised will come to fruition and that they will always be disappointed.

God keeps His promises. His love for us is so vast it is hard for us to comprehend, and because He loves us so much, He wants to provide for us in all ways. He promises good for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) We can trust Him, even when we don’t understand what is going on, when things are turned upside down, when it feels like we are standing in the middle of a hurricane, we KNOW we can trust Him, because as we look at how He has taken care of us in the past, we can see that His character is to be truthful, and to keep His promises.

Trust is a big issue for some people, I know for me, it is. If I don’t feel I can trust you, then I will be careful about what I tell you, I will watch closely at what you do to be sure that I will be protected. I don’t have that issue with God. I know I can always trust Him. I can trust His Word, I can trust His actions, I can trust everything about Him. I’ve seen Him work in my life in the past and He has always come through, even when I didn’t understand what He was doing at the time. I found that He always had my good in mind. He had a plan for me, and it was a good plan, even though I couldn’t see what the next step was, or how He was leading me. Even in the times when it felt like He was far away from me, He was there guiding my footsteps, holding my hand. I look back now and see His handiwork in it all.

Be encouraged dear reader, God can be trusted to keep His promises. Do you have family members far from God? God hears your prayers and He loves them more than you do. He is working in the background even when you can’t see it. (Isaiah 65:24) Trust Him. Are you going through a situation that seems as if there is no solution? He knows all about it and He is working in your favor. (Psalm 91:5) Trust Him. He loves you and He will see you through. Are you in a financial crisis? He knows all about it and He will provide because He has promised that He will. (Exodus 23:25) Trust Him. Have you wandered far from Him? He’s drawing you back to Himself. He loves you. (Ephesians2:4-5) You can trust Him!

Take Account of His Blessings – Part 4

The final part of our series on “Take Account of His Blessings” deals with the church of Ephesus. Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB) gives Jesus’ praise, admonition, and warning to the church. Jesus says, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for my name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.”

In the book of Revelation, Jesus tells the church how proud He is of them, and yet there was something with which He had to fault them. They had lost their First Love. I remember when I first was saved. I couldn’t help but tell others about what Jesus had done. I loved Him so much, and I was filled with this incredible joy! Everything was new! I was looking at the world through different eyes. Bible reading was fun! I couldn’t wait to get to church so that I could learn more about Jesus. Then when I tried witnessing to my classmates, I ran against resistance. I tried witnessing to my grandmother who wasn’t saved, and I met resistance. Suddenly, I found out that not everyone is wanting to hear about how great it was that Jesus saved me. I still loved Jesus, but my enthusiasm waned…a lot!

I imagine that is what happened with the church at Ephesus. They were very good at doing the right things, they stood up against persecution and persevered, and they were diligent at weeding out the false teachers that had managed to weasel their way into the church, but all that they did was more out of duty, not because they loved Jesus. They had lost the blessing of their First Love!

Baby Christians are so excited when they first come to know Jesus, and then they meet up with older Christians who are just holding on to the end. The more “mature” Believers will see how excited the Baby Christians are and say, “That won’t last long.” But it doesn’t have to be like that. For me, it took a good long while to get to the point where sharing my testimony, talking to people about accepting Jesus as their Savior, Bible Reading, and praying were not so much something I had to check of my list of things to do, but I truly wanted to do it.

My pastor says when there is no love, there’s no life. So, in essence, the church at Ephesus had become dead. They had forgotten what it was like at the very beginning of their walk with the Lord, how reading the Scriptures, praying, and witnessing, was a joy, it was as if they could do nothing else. But Jesus gives them an admonition…repent, remember, go back to your first love, do the deeds you did before. I believe they may have been doing some of the things they did at first, but not out of love, more out of duty. There was no joy, kind of doing “the same ole, same ole” and not realizing that they were becoming a dead church.

It can be so easy for us to fall into that trap ourselves. It’s a good thing to go back and remember what it was like when we first came to Jesus. Remember the joy in our hearts, remember the thrill of reading His Word and learning all we could, and marveling at the truths found in Scripture, remember the joy we had of leading someone to know Jesus, and how excited we were about getting to church so that we could learn more about the One who held our heart in His hands.

We need to take account of our lives…have we ever had a closer relationship with God than we are in right now? If so, then we are in a back-slidden condition. There is a solution to that condition… repentance. When I was in a singing group in my 20s, we sang a song that said, “Repentance is turning around my friend”, and that is exactly what repentance is, turning around and going in the opposite direction…a 180-degree position from where we are right now. Taking account of our lives is needed every so often. It helps us to know where we stand with Jesus.

Many will reject the Good News that Jesus loves them and wants to save them from eternal darkness, they will lose their souls to eternal darkness. If you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior, now is the time. Jesus made the process so simple, a small child can do it. Simply, ask Him to come into your life and heart, forgive you of your sins, tell Him you are sorry, and promise and endeavor to live your life for Him the rest of your days. Revelation 3:20 (KJV) says, “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” That’s His invitation to us!

Take Account of His Blessings – Part 3

We’ve been talking about how we can lose our blessings. We’ve looked at Samson and how he lost his power with God, and we’ve looked at David and how he lost the joy of his salvation. Today we look at Peter. Peter lost his boldness and testimony for the Lord. Peter was a lot like me. He was a “loud-mouthed lime” type. There was a commercial when I was a kid that was advertising flavors of their product (don’t remember what it was) and one of the flavors was “loud-mouthed lime.” That’s me…I identify with that! And like Peter, I’m a loud-mouthed lime…saying things before I think and getting myself into all kinds of trouble.

Our Scripture passage today is from Luke 22:54-62. Take the time to read it through and meditate on what is happening.

Peter was very bold in everything he did. When Jesus told Simon Peter that Satan wanted to destroy him, Peter boldly said, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death.” Then Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. (Luke 22:33-34 KJV)

Jesus was arrested and was brought before the high priest. Peter followed, but at a distance, that was his mistake. The bold Peter melted away and was replaced with a scared Peter, one who was almost afraid of his own shadow. When approached by a handmaiden, probably just a teenager, saying that he was one of the disciples, Peter denied it. When two others said that Peter knew Jesus, Peter vehemently denied that he was a follower of Jesus. Peter started with following at a distance and then was afraid of a little handmaiden. He couldn’t be that bold Peter everybody knew. His boldness faded when he followed “at a distance”. He wasn’t close to Jesus as he claimed he would be. Peter had gotten far away from the Lord.

We can lose our boldness also. When we follow “at a distance,” our relationship with Jesus is hindered. We don’t have a close relationship with Him and we can lose our footing, our boldness, and even our witness. We need to re-evaluate how far we are from Jesus. Do we continue in Bible study, prayer, church attendance, witnessing to the unsaved? Are we living in a manner that pleases Him? Is our attitude such that it shows Christ’s attributes?

I remember my Dad saying one time that he wasn’t all together convinced that we couldn’t lose our salvation, but he didn’t want to live in a manner where he would have to find out that he had. That’s the attitude we need to have. My Pastor has said, we can’t lose our salvation, but we can choose to walk away from it. There is a difference. Losing our salvation implies something to the effect of “I lost my keys…I put them somewhere and now I don’t remember where I left them.” We can’t just lose our salvation. We can, however; walk away from it. That suggests a choice! We can choose to follow Jesus or not.

Once we’ve headed down that pathway it becomes a slippery slope to broken fellowship with the Lord, and unless we repent, we are lumped in with unbelievers. Like my Dad, I don’t ever want to find myself in that camp. So today take account of your blessings. Have you lost the power of God in your life, have you lost the joy of your salvation, or have you lost your boldness and witness for the Lord? It only takes one prayer of repentance to find yourself back at the side of Jesus.

Take Account of His Blessings – Part 2

 

Psalm5112Today we’re continuing in this series. Our Scripture for today is Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit.” (World English Bible – WEB) Yesterday we talked about Samson and how he lost God’s blessing of power with God. Today, we are looking at David. Psalm 51 is the chapter where David calls out to God in repentance for his sin with Bathsheba and for killing Uriah, her husband. David is in agony. He had lost God’s blessing of the joy of his salvation. His relationship with God was hindered.

David was known as a “man after God’s own heart”. He had a very personal relationship with God, and when he sinned, he lost that close connection. This brought about a very dark time for David. He is crying out for God to forgive him and restore his joy, to create in him “a clean heart.” (Psalm 51:10) David is begging God not to turn away from him and remove His presence from him.

We can lose God’s blessing of joy. God’s joy should be full, there should be “unspeakable joy” (I Peter 1:8), we should have exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:13) When our joy is restored, we receive power from God. We can stand firm in the face of the enemy because God’s joy gives us the power to withstand Satan’s attacks.

Like Samson, David’s fall came about from what he saw, but then David went a step further and acted on what he saw. Actually, I think his fall started when he decided to stay home instead of going to war, “at the time when kings go to war” (II Samuel 11:1 KJV) If he would have done what he was supposed to do he never would have come to this point. Sin will take you down a road you don’t want to go. Your destination will never be what you think it will be. Satan makes the journey look like a vacation, but in the end, the reality is misery and separation from God’s presence and the loss of His blessing of joy.

Losing God’s blessing of joy can come gradually. In fact, it can be so gradual that we never even recognize that we are walking away from God and losing His blessing. We can keep on that trail and then all of a sudden, it seems, we find ourselves at a place we don’t want to be, wondering how we got there. Then, like David, we cry out in agony for God to restore His joy and forgive us so that we can reconnect with Him. This is the time when we need to take account of where we are with God. Take stock of whether we have strayed and lost His blessings, and then repent and keep close to Him.

Sometimes, we can do all the right things, and yet our attitudes are not right. We can be lackadaisical in how we live for God, whether we keep our relationship on a good footing, studying the Word, praying, attending church, fellowshipping with other Believers, and reaching out to those who need Jesus by witnessing of His great love, mercy, and grace.

From time to time we need to evaluate our walk with the Lord. Is our attitude proper…it is all about Him and not us? Are our Christian actions done out of duty or out of love for God and what He has done for us? How concerned are we that people know Jesus as Savior? All these things give us an indication of our heart condition and it also tells us if we have lost God’s blessings. Where do we stand with God? Have we walked away or are we keeping our relationship with Him close and strong? Take stock of your life…where are you with God?

Take Account of His Blessings

This month has been devoted to thinking about God’s blessings in our lives. Today’s Scripture comes from Psalm 103:1-5, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (NASB) As I was thinking about this section, my mind focused on Spiritual blessings, partly because my Pastor has been doing a series on “Blessings That Can Be Lost”.

I have never realized until this series that we can lose the blessings God has granted. I wasn’t intending to do today’s post on that, but God just won’t let me get away from it. We are given so many blessings from God, that sometimes it’s hard to count them all. When we are in a state of depression or a difficult time, it’s good to think over the blessings God has given us. Yes, the physical ones such as healing, provision, and the blessing of family, but also the Spiritual ones such as salvation, redemption, and God’s love and kindness to us.

Other blessings are experiencing power with God, the joy of our salvation, boldness and testimony for the Lord, and our first love for God. I’m sure there are many more, but these are blessings that my Pastor touched on by using different characters and their stories of how they lost the blessing God gave them. In difficult times, thinking of what God has granted us with, changes our perspective on the situation. And, in the case of losing our blessing, it causes us to reflect, take stock of our lives, and make changes.

The first blessing is power with God. Samson is a case where he should have stopped and taken account of where he was with God. Samson’s mother was barren, and she prayed to the Lord, asking for a child, and she made a promise to raise him as a Nazarite. The Nazarites took a vow never to touch wine, eat or touch any unclean thing, or to cut their hair. They were to remain separate from the rest of the world. Samson’s mother, was not to drink wine or strong drink, eat anything that came from the vine, or eat any unclean thing while she was pregnant with Samson. When he was born, his parents taught him in the ways of the Nazarite. God had blessed Samson with overwhelming strength as long as he followed the Nazarite vow and didn’t cut his hair. God also instructed, that when Samson was of marrying age, not to marry someone who was not an Israelite. This is where Samson started down the long road of destruction. He decided to marry a Philistine woman. The Philistines were wicked people and dreaded enemies of the Israelites. Samson was looking in areas he wasn’t supposed to look, and it started his downfall. It resulted in Samson falling away from the vow he had taken and away from God.

When he met Delilah, he was smitten, but she was from another country and not Israelite and she used her feminine wiles to try to get Samson to reveal the source of his strength so that she could tell the Philistine army the secret of his strength. Samson had gone so far away from God that eventually he succumbed to Delilah’s pleas to know the truth, that he finally gave in and told her. She told the Philistines and they came and cut his hair, bound him and gouged out his eyes. Samson didn’t know that his power had left him. He didn’t recognize that God’s presence was no longer with him. As a result, he was captured and used like an ox to grind grain in the mill in the prison. Samson lost the blessings of power with God by his disobedience. He had strayed so far away that he didn’t even recognize that the presence of God was no longer with him. You can read the whole story of Samson in Judges chapters 13 through16.

We also can lose the power with God we have. We can get ourselves into such a position that we no longer realize that the presence of God is not with us. My Pastor said that when we become like the world, we frustrate the work of God and therefore we lose the power. It’s something that is progressive…very subtly it leaves because we aren’t focused on keeping our relationship with God strong and we walk away from Him, leaving us defenseless against the enemy.

Today, take stock of your relationship with God. Have you strayed? Do you feel God’s presence with you? Are you being obedient to what He has asked you to do? Don’t lose His blessing of His power. Count your blessings.