Changing Seasons

As we enter Fall, we are looking at a new season. Summer is fading, Fall is approaching, and Winter will soon be upon us. Seasons come and go with each passing year. For me, Fall and Winter are not my favorites. True, Fall is beautiful with all the different colors, but that means that Winter will be upon us and that means cold and snow…not my favorite thing to deal with. We enter different seasons in our lives also. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” (NASB) The King James Version puts it this way, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

As we read Ecclesiastes, Solomon seems to be in a depressed mood, talking about how everything is just vanity. Then he sort of snaps out of it when he remembers that everything we experience comes under the watchful eye of God, our Father. As we read the third chapter, Solomon goes on to expound about the different seasons of our lives. As we enter different seasons in our lives, we must remember also, each season is under God’s careful care. There is a reason for each season in our lives that we face. Some seasons may be placed in our lives to help us grow and mature in our Christian walk with God. Some may be as an encouragement for others who may be going or will go through, the same thing. Learning how to navigate each season is what helps us grow.

As I went through the season of widowhood, I learned that grieving the loss of a spouse was different than grieving the death of my father. The grief was totally different. This year, my family is dealing with the death of my nephew, who died way too young, and that kind of grief is different from either of those other deaths. Through each of these situations, God is walking with us. Things have happened in my family as a result of my nephew’s death that causes my heart to rejoice! Family members have drawn close to the Lord, and I’m watching in amazement at how they are walking in peace, knowing God has them in the palm of His hand. They are drawing closer each day to Him, and being intentional in their Bible study, church attendance, and even beginning to witness. My heart is so grateful to God for taking them in His arms and helping them.

I am now remarried, and I’m finding that this season of marriage is different from my marriage with my first husband. I find I need to learn how to relate to someone who is so different, and there is a learning curve here. Even in this, God is walking with me, helping me to deal with each situation we face together as a couple. We are learning to appreciate each other more, accept the differences, and life is on a good path.

As each of us faces each new season in our lives, we must look to Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) He has experienced every season we have, and He alone can help us through each experience.  (Hebrews 4:15) He knows what it is to experience loss, joy, financial difficulties, sadness, betrayal, and on and on. Everything we have gone through, He knows what it is like because He also went through those things. Therefore, we can trust Him to help us.

Seasons come and go, but we have this solid confidence…Jesus never changes, and He is our stability as we go through each season. As you face different seasons, remember, each season is for a purpose. Embrace each season with confidence, and know you are not alone!

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Live Life as an Adventure

 

I have often told people that since Jesus came into my life, I have been on an adventure. God has led me into some pretty incredible areas, areas I would never have dreamed to be placed in. As we look at living life, we have talked about looking up and listening to what God is telling us about resting. Today, we look at life as an adventure and how we should experience that adventure. Our Bible Journaling today is from Exodus 40:36, “Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out.” (NASB) The World English Bible says, “When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward throughout all their journeys.”

As we look at the background of our verse today, we know that God led Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. His Spirit inhabited the cloud and the pillar of fire, and so He led them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Whenever the cloud moved, the Israelites were to follow. They were going to a land where they had never been and didn’t know what to expect when they got there. They were on an adventure.

Our lives are often like that. God is leading us in areas we are not familiar with, and with which we have no experience. That can be scary sometimes, but mostly I find it interesting. As I said, my life has been an adventure. In High School, if someone would have told me that one day I would have been working in radio and television, I would have told them that they were crazy. Broadcasting was not even in my peripheral vision! But because God was directing my life, I met my first husband, who was the chief engineer of a local Christian radio station, and my path was set. I have been involved in radio on the microphone and behind the scenes, and on television in front of the camera and behind it. It has been an amazing journey. After my husband died, God took me on another adventure, and I am now married again and retired, experiencing life differently.

God wants us to experience the adventure He takes us on. Some parts are exhilarating, while others can be devastating, as it was when my first husband died. I was in such a dark pit, but even in that, God was leading and teaching me.

Adventure comes in many forms. It can be in a time of rest, such as when we get away from the daily grind of things while we are on vacation. It can be in little moments, like seeing nature in a new and different way as we go about our normal routine, and we can praise Him for His creation. Adventure can be something as simple as watching our little ones grow, experiencing the world around them with awe and wonder. Or, it can be seeing our lives unfold in ways we don’t expect, and we stand in awe that God is doing something different in our lives. Our lives are an adventure, we just have to see that God is leading us and wants us to be aware and experience that adventure to the fullest.

Look around you, what is it that God wants you to experience? Are you aware of His leading? Can you see the adventure on which He is taking you? Open yourself up to the adventure He has for you. You will find that life can be so much more exciting when you are aware of God’s hand in everything you do and experience.

Fear Ensnares – Trust in the Lord Brings Freedom

Fear can stop us in our tracks.  It can paralyze us; it can stop whatever dreams we have from coming to fruition.  Fear of what others say or think of us can trap us into a prison so that we just stand still.  Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (KJV) Our verse says that fear of men can ensnare us.  Trusting in God can release us from that prison of fear.

Fear of other’s thoughts and opinions of us can hinder us from stepping out into our dreams and ambitions.  However, we must trust in God’s opinions and His thoughts of us.  If He is calling us out of our comfort zone, there will be plenty of people ready, and willing, to put a damper on our desire to fulfill that call.  However, we must trust that God knows the best for us.  If He has called us into an area for our growth, He will give us the ability to accomplish it. He will encourage us to push forward.  When we put our trust in what God says about us, we can break free of the fear of what others may try to do or say to hinder us.

Our verse today says that when we trust in the Lord, we are safe!  Chains of fear are broken.  When we are fearful of failure, we can remember, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 CSB) When we are fearful of other’s opinions, we can go to God’s Word and read the myriad of verses of how He loves us and how precious we are to Him.  When we are fearful of a doctor’s diagnosis, we can remember that it is by Jesus’ stripes that we are healed. (I Peter 2:24)

When we are afraid, God tells us in Isaiah 43:1 “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” (NIV) Trusting God will bring peace and joy.  (John 14:27, Psalm 94:19) We can say with David, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 NIV) Trusting in God gives us courage and boldness.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (NIV)

We can step out into areas that we may not be comfortable in. We can also step out in faith into areas of ministry, knowing that God is with us, encouraging, guiding, and giving us the boldness to reach out to others who need to hear of His love for them.  We need not allow fear to hold us back because we know we are safe with the Lord when we trust in Him.

Freedom from Fear

Fear. It’s something each of us deals with. Some people are enslaved by fear to the point that they won’t step out and tackle something new. Some are afraid of something that may happen to them. Some are so fearful that it paralyzes them emotionally and sometimes physically. Our Bible Journaling comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV) Notice the verse says that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Fear comes from the enemy!

Satan’s whole purpose is to “kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10) He wants to derail us in our walk with the Lord. He wants us so paralyzed in fear that we become ineffective witnesses for Christ, and our lives are in bondage to the fear that holds us. On Sunday, my Pastor spoke about how Satan speaks to us, telling us we are less than what God says we are, degrading us, telling us we can’t do this because….” In the process we become bound by what the enemy is telling us because we allow him to demean us in our minds. We can be locked up in fear.

But our verse tells us that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Instead He gives us power, love, and a sound mind. Fear can be debilitating to the point of becoming a psychological disorder. Some people are afraid of being out in crowds or around people, that is called agoraphobia, and they are holed up in their houses, afraid to step outside. I have never experienced that kind of fear, but I do have a fear.

I am totally deaf in one ear due to an illness I had as a child. My fear is that I will lose my hearing totally in my good ear and go completely deaf. To this day I don’t like being in totally quiet rooms, I must have noise, the radio or TV, in the background. A few years ago, I experienced an ear infection that was so bad that I lost a part of my hearing in my good ear. My husband could stand next to me and yell in my ear and I could barely hear him. It scared me badly. I experienced the closest thing to being totally deaf, the thing I feared the most, and I was in a panic. Praise God for His healing and antibiotics and medication to clear the ear infection. I did regain my hearing, however; my hearing was diminished a little. I’ve worn hearing aids for about 30 years, and my hearing continues to decline. Losing my hearing completely is still a fear, but God has helped me through that experience, and it no longer is as strong of a fear as it was before. I have learned a little sign language, so that I will be able to communicate with others. I’m grateful for friends who are sign language interpreters and help me out when I don’t understand something. I’ve also learned to read lips a little.

There are other types of fear that can cause us to step back and not be who we are called to be. We can also be fearful to step out into an area of growth that God is calling us into. We must believe that we are who God says we are. We must remember that it is God who gives us the ability to do what He has called us to. When I first started doing my blog, I was very hesitant. Several years ago, a prophetic word, that I was to begin journaling and I would be ministering to others, was spoken over me. First, I had never had a prophetic word spoken over me before and I wasn’t sure just how to take it. After consulting with my Pastor and talking to some others about what I felt God was leading me to, I launched out. It has been a slow beginning, but I am now beginning to see some rewards, small ones, but rewards none the less. I had to believe that I was able to do what God said I could do and not allow fear to stop me from being obedient to step into my calling.

We must go to God’s Word to reaffirm what He says about us. Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (NASB) God promises that He will not forsake us. (Psalm 37:25) Ephesians 4:8 tells us that He leads us out of slavery. “Wherefore he saith ‘When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.’” (KJV) Philippians 4:3 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) Jesus gives us the strength and helps us to step out into whatever it is that we need to do.

We can follow God and His call on our lives because He does not give us the spirit of fear, He frees us from it. All we need to do is allow Him to free us from that fear and surrender it to Him.

Unshakeable Confidence

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 3:3-6, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side.” (CSB) This passage was written by David as he was fleeing his son, Absalom. Absalom wanted to take over David’s throne and become king. Despite being on the run and having those in Israel who were favorable toward Absalom come against him, David still had confidence in God.

God had him anointed and placed on the throne of Israel. David could rest and not be worried or concerned because he knew that God was in control of everything and God had his back.

Worry can be disabling. It can cause sleepless nights, physical ailments, and take away our peace. But when we have confidence that God has everything under His control, that He sees our path beginning to end, we can have peace, we can rest. I love how David says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.” (verse 5) He could sleep at night in peace. Absalom had an agenda and desired to take David out so that he could become king, and David kept his confidence that God would settle the matter in His own time and way. He even says he is not afraid of those who are coming against him! That is Unshakeable Confidence!

I am not necessarily a worrier, however; there are times I can become concerned or even worry a little bit about a situation. I try not to let it get me to the point of being overwhelmed with worry, but I can have that situation uppermost in my mind, and it can always be there in my thoughts. If I don’t stop and pray about the situation, give it to God, and then trust Him to work it out for my good, then I become miserable.

God gives us His promise that when we pray, He will listen and answer. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (NASB) When we pray, He will hear and answer! That is our confidence!

God also gives us confidence to step out in faith when He has given us direction into an area that is not in our comfort zone. Doing new things can be scary, but God is orchestrating things in our lives to make us more like Him, to become a vessel that He can use in bringing others to faith in Jesus. Knowing He is directing my steps gives me confidence that I can do what He is asking me to do. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) As Believers, we know this verse and quote it quite often, but we never really pay attention to that little word in the middle of the verse…all! There is nothing we can not do when we put our trust and confidence in Christ. Everything is possible through Jesus!

So, as we look at placing our confidence in God, step out in faith, rely on His leading, rest in peace that He knows what is best for us, and He will always walk with us!

 

Confidence is Mediated by the Holy Spirit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Ephesians 1:13-14, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.” (CSB) The Holy Spirit’s purpose is not only to draw us to Jesus, but to help us in our daily walk with the Lord. One way He helps us is in assisting us to have confidence in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our confidence is then mediated by the Holy Spirit. Mediation, in this instance, is defined as “intervention in a process of relationship; intercession. The Holy Spirit helps us have confidence in Jesus, He encourages us to step forward when God is leading us into territory that is unfamiliar. As an example, when I felt God calling me to begin to minister through a blog, I was very hesitant. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, didn’t even know how to begin. The Holy Spirit, through the counsel of my Pastor and others who journal and blog, encouraged me to begin. It was a slow beginning, and in some ways, it still is. But, without the prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out of my comfort zone, I would never have begun my ministry through Bible Journaling and this blog. I don’t claim to be an organized ministry to the point of being incorporated or needing licensing or any of the things full-time ministries do, but to the few that read my journaling, I am endeavoring to minister hope, healing, salvation, and encouragement. I have no grand ideas that my blog will develop into some huge ministry with thousands of followers. I am content to share with those who find my blog or read my entries on Facebook. God never said it would be earth shattering, but it is what He has called me to do, and I pray that it influences the tiny corner of the world I reach.

There may be something that God is calling you to do, but you have been hesitant to step out in faith. It’s scary beginning something new. However, if you truly feel God is leading you to begin something you are not accustomed to doing, rely upon the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the confidence that God will guide you in the way you are to proceed. Is God calling you to minister in your church? It may not be something as prominent as singing or playing on the worship team or teaching a Sunday School class, but there are other positions that are needed in the church, that a lot of times, must be done by the pastor because no one else will step up. His or her calling is to be the shepherd of the congregation, not the janitor. Maybe there is a need for nursery duty or hospitality. Our church has a dear lady who quietly ministers by sending cards to those in our church who need encouragement. She sends our pastor something almost every week to help him and lift him up. He needs that little push to be able to minister to us. That is her ministry! Something like that, even though it seems so trivial, can be just the thing to help someone who is struggling.

The Holy Spirit seals us so that we have the assurance that we belong to God, and because of this, we have confidence that whatever God has for us in our walk with Him, we know that it is for our good, and will help us to grow daily as we seek to live our lives in glory and honor to Him.

Our Confidence is in Jesus – A Better Covenant

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Hebrews 7:22, “so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” (NASB) As we investigate from where our confidence comes, we see in this passage that our confidence can be placed in Jesus because He guarantees our salvation. The writer of Hebrews points out in this chapter that the Law of the Old Testament “made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19 NASB) and therefore couldn’t be a guarantee of entrance into Heaven, it couldn’t save us from our sins, rather it pointed out our sins.

Verses 18-19 say, “For, on the one hand there is a setting aside of a former covenant because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (NASB) Only through Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins, and our acceptance of His sacrifice, can we be guaranteed a home in Heaven.

As we place our confidence in Him daily, He walks with us, He guides us, and when we fall, He picks us up and sets us back on the right track. We are not worn down by the weight of sin that we bore, because He took our load of sin upon Himself. We can now walk free of that burden. He promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5), He promises to be our help in time of trouble. (Hebrews 4:16) He is our High Priest, (Hebrews 3:1) the one we confess our sins to, and who is able to save us from our sins and He is continually making intercession for us to the Father. (Hebrews 7:25) He has promised that not only will He save us from our sins, but He will remember them no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

Chapter 8 tells us that under the New Covenant a New Law will be placed into the hearts and minds of His children. (Hebrews 8:10) This Law is a Law of Love. We obey because of our love for Jesus, not because we must follow a Law that is impossible to keep and that shows us our shortcomings. The Old Testament Law had a purpose…to show us how far from God’s perfection we are. The New Covenant shows us that because of God’s love for us and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can be obedient to His Law because of our love for Him and the salvation He paid in our stead.

Because of His faithfulness to us we can have confidence in whatever He promises. We know that He will never leave us, never go back on His promise to help us, never turn His back on us. He will always walk with us. We can trust Him to bring us through whatever we are facing. We can trust that He has our best in mind. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The New Covenant has made the Old Covenant obsolete; it no longer is useful. (Hebrews 8:13) The New Covenant, salvation through Jesus Christ, is a better covenant, and that is from where our confidence comes.