My Father Gives Good Gifts

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Matthew 7-11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (KJV) God is such an incredible Heavenly Father! He loves us so much! He loves to give us the desires of our hearts. Sometimes, though, what we pray for may not be what is in His plan or may not be good for us. Just as children ask their parents for the fad item of the time, they desire it with all their little hearts, but it may not be good for them or maybe it’s something Mom and Dad want to give them but not right now. God is like that also.

We pray for things that we desire…sometimes it is more of a want than a need, sometimes it is a need, but God wants to give it to us in a different way or at a different time. So how do we react when God says, “No” or “Not right now”? I know there have been times I have not reacted well when I didn’t get what I wanted. I had a plan of how things should go, but God’s plan was so different from mine, and later I found out His plan was way better than mine!

One instance was when I lived in Montana. At that point I had been married for a little over 20 years to my first husband. We were unable to have children and we had looked at adoption when we were younger, and due to a lot of factors, our adoption attempt failed. I was so devastated! I yearned to have my own baby and it was a feeling that lasted for many years after that. At the time a gentleman came to the TV station I worked at to do an interview on adoption of Chinese children. I was the receptionist and as he has waiting, he showed me pictures of little ones who were available, and I fell in love! I tried to convince my hubby that we should try again to adopt, but he wasn’t exactly on board with it. In fact, he really was against it because of how old we were and the busyness of our lives. But I dug in my heels and begged and pleaded for him to do this and finally he agreed, but under protest. We went through the home study, and the social worker we were working with was not of the same frame of mind of us, being that we were Born Again believers, and we disagreed on everything from child rearing to what we were going to name the child. Now, at this point you would think maybe I would start to get the idea that this was not in God’s plan for me, but I became more stubborn, even to the point of rebellion, telling God, “I want this baby regardless of what You want!” I was in total rebellion! Needless to say, we were rejected, and I was so angry! Angry at the social worker, angry with my husband, and angry with God! It took me several years before I finally came to the point of asking God to forgive my disobedience.

You see, God had a better plan! Life went on, my first husband passed away and then God brought me a man who had a ready-made family! Kraig has three children and six grandchildren! When I married him, I became a Stepmom and Grandma! My heart is so happy! God has given me the desires of my heart, I just had to get in line with His plan and His timing. He has given me such an awesome gift!

God desires for us to live lives of obedience, contentment, peace, and joy. Some of the things we want may very well be what He wants for us, but the timing is off, or we may not be at a point where we can have that thing. Maybe we are not mature enough for what we desire, or maybe emotionally it would be overwhelming, and we would not be able to handle what we desire. We must remember that God wants to give us good gifts, but in His way, in His timing, and in His plan. What are you asking God for? Is it something that would be in line with His plan for your life? Is now the proper time for what you desire? Seek Him in all of this. Ask Him if now is the time, ask Him if this is something that is good for you, ask Him if this is part of His plan for you, then listen to His answer and wait for His provision.

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God’s Faithful Love

Well, I decided to do another Bible Journaling entry. This one comes from Psalm 103:17, “But from eternity to eternity the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren.” (CSB) God’s love for us is beyond amazing. He wants only the best for us, and He showers His blessings upon us daily.

I was curious to find out how many verses in the Bible deal with God’s love. There are 310 times in 280 verses that talk about God’s love! Wow! God must really want us to know how much He loves us! I think that is amazing! I love how our verse talks about God’s faithful love! That is so reassuring! His love is not fickle, but it is steadfast and enduring. His love never fails! (Psalm 36:7) He loves us with an everlasting love! (Jeremiah 31:3) He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to the cross to die in our place for our sins. (John 3:16)

I also love the way He wants us to know how much He loves us. He tells us so many times in His Word. He is unlike some human fathers, who never tell their children that they are loved. I know of an instance where the father never uttered the words, “I love you” to his sons, and both sons thought that the father loved the other son more. It was heartbreaking! It created a rift between the boys. Not until years later did they find out that neither son heard those words. They began to realize that their father did love them, he just didn’t know how to express it. One of those boys determined that he would always tell his children that he loved them so that there was no doubt in his children’s minds of his love for them. Every phone conversation always ended with the words from their father, “I love you.”

Just like that son, God wants His children to know how much He loves them. He wants there to be no doubt in his children’s minds of His love for them. When a child hears from their father that he loves them it brings feelings of comfort, security, peace, and joy. They know that they can go to him with everything and not be afraid that he will reject them. It is the same with our Heavenly Father. We have nothing to fear, for He is willing to listen to our heart’s cry. He wants to hear about our day. He wants us to share with Him our dreams and our plans. He wants to hear about our heartaches and those things that distress us. He wants a strong relationship with His children.

God’s love for us is unending! He is reaching out to us, asking us to come to Him and to trust Him. When we feel unloved by others, He loves us, when we feel rejected, He calls us to come and He wraps His arms around us and draws us close to Himself. If you are feeling unloved today, call out to God, and He will wrap you in His arms and tell you how much He loves you!

God Knows Us

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (NASB) What an awesome thought, that God knew us before we were born, and He knows us intimately now! Every part of us He knows, not just our physical appearance, but He knows our very thoughts, the intentions of our hearts, our sorrows, our joys, our failings, our victories; He knows it all! And why shouldn’t He, for He is the One who created us!

Because of this, He desires an intimate relationship with us. That should also be the desire of every Believer’s heart. It is God that we can go to when we are at the end of our rope, or when we don’t know where to put the next footstep, when we are feeling fearful, or depressed. It is to Him we can share our joys, victories, and overwhelming love of His care for us. We can rely on His leading, for He has planned our lives, beginning to end. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (NASB) We can gain strength from knowing that He has planned for us to have “a future and a hope.”

I’m glad that He is in control of my life, for He can do a much better job of running my life than I can. All I can do is mess things up. I let the little things in this life ruin things. I let my will get in the way, and in the end, I’ve made a royal mess of things. It’s then that I must go to Him, ask forgiveness, and listen to His will for my life and follow the path He has laid out for me. He sees my journey from beginning to end, and I can see just a little part of the pathway.

What I love is that He knows us intimately! I love that I can tell Him anything and know He won’t reject me or condemn me, but He, with understanding, will love me, correct me when I am in the wrong, rejoice in my victories, and cry with me in my sorrows. My favorite verse, my life verse if you will, is Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (NASB) In my mind’s eye, I see, not a cold and austere throne, but I see my Heavenly Father sitting in an overstuffed, comfortable chair, bidding me to come sit in His lap and tell Him all about my problems – my joys, my feelings, my plans…everything! Then He wraps His arms around me and says, “My daughter, I love you!” He is my Abba Father, my Daddy!

Only our Creator can know us so fully. He knows how He put us together. He knows the emotions and desires of our hearts, because He put them there. He knows how we will react to situations, and He knows whether we will follow His leading or go our own way. He knows whether we will accept His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior or reject Him.

If you desire an intimate relationship with God, I encourage you to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior today. It will be the best decision you ever made. He will walk with you through every situation. You can know that you are not alone, and that He knows you and loves you.

A Call to Holy Living

Today’s Bible Journaling is from I Peter 1:13-14, “Therefore, with your minds be ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.” (CSB) I recently journaled on the 13th verse, but today’s “musings” is focusing on both verses. In the CSB version I picked up on something I didn’t see the last time I journaled this passage.

We have already talked about taking action when going about fulfilling the goals we have set for ourselves. But what stood out to me today was a list of things that we must accomplish to live a holy life. The first thing is to be ready to act. Planning comes before everything. What steps will we take to accomplish this thing? Part of planning also involves prayer, asking God to help us reach the goal we have set for ourselves.

The next step is to set our hope on grace. Peter says, “set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” When we see Jesus revealed it brings us hope. We then realize that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NASB) He gives us the strength and the ability to accomplish our goal. Spiritually, when we are attempting to become like Jesus, changing attitudes or behavior, the strength He gives us to be successful in living a life that is holy and well pleasing, is what helps us as we realize it is through His grace that we are able to do what He is asking of us.

We then must be obedient to what it is He requires of us, and that can be combined with the next point. We are not to be conformed to the fleshly desires of our past life. Those are the things that have kept us away from God and hindered our relationship with Him. Obedience is a dying to the fleshly desires of the past. Look at the word “Obedience”, right in the middle of the word is another word, “die.” We are to die to our own selfish desires, turn direction, and live a life holy and pleasing to God. That is an act of our will. We must intentionally decide to die to the old habits and behaviors, and change our way of thinking, our attitude, our behavior, and our allegiance. Disobedience is to follow the enemy’s ways. This can lead us into areas of discontentment, dissatisfaction, loss of peace and joy, and misery. Obedience brings a whole new perspective on things, and brings us contentment, joy, peace, and a strengthened walk with the Lord.

If we read I Peter 1:15, Peter says that “as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct.” Our attitude, how we act and speak, reflects who is sitting on the throne of our heart. We are to daily evaluate ourselves to see if we are sitting on that throne or if we are allowing God to sit on there. When we allow Him to be the Lord, Master, and King of our lives, we find we can accomplish what He is asking us to do. It takes a mind and attitude that is totally surrendered to Jesus.

Remain in My Joy

Today’s Bible Journaling is from John 15:11, “I have spoken these things to you, that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be made full.” (NLT) As I concluded this series on joy, the thought that struck me was, the secret to having joy is to remain in God’s joy and be obedient. How are we to do that? If we read the entire 15th chapter, Jesus starts by talking about remaining in the vine. He is the vine, we are the branches. (John 15:5) We are to get our nourishment from Him, and as we grow in Him, by following His commands, He in turn fill us with joy. We are to remain in His joy, and as we do that, we are full of His joy.

That joy comes by developing a close relationship with Jesus, reading His Word, and being obedient to His commands. As we grow in Him, we produce fruit (Galatians 5:22), the more Spiritual fruit we produce, the more joy. Contentment comes, peace reigns in our hearts and lives, and our outlook on life is one of deep, abiding joy. Jesus promises that if we remain in Him that His joy will overflow in our lives.

Growth comes not only from obedience and a close relationship with God, but also through difficult times that could be characterized as a pruning process. In order for plants and trees to grow properly, they need to go through a pruning so that old, dead parts of the plant are cut away to allow for new growth to come. The same is with our lives as Christians, those who are Christ-followers. Those difficult times we experience are times when the Father cuts away those things in our lives that are hindering our growth process. As much as we don’t want to go through the pruning process, it is a necessary part of growth in a Believer’s life. It is during those times that we find it difficult to exhibit much joy. Pruning is hard, but so necessary!

I can look back on my life and see times when God has done some extensive pruning, and it was not a pleasant experience. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because I learned so much, and I grew the most during those times. Sometimes those times are preparation time for what is to come next. We need to be strong for the next level. Pruning also helps make us strong to encounter whatever the next level has to throw at us. We also can take the things we learn from those growth spurts and use them to help someone else who is going through the same thing we did, and thereby we become instruments that God can use to help someone else to grow. There is no greater joy for me than to be used by God in that manner. It makes my heart happy when I see that someone has gained strength through something I shared, and that God has brought them so far, and they grow more in Christ!

This is one area in our lives that we can become intentional in pursuing joy in our lives. There are many ways to be filled with God’s joy. I’ve already mentioned studying His Word and being obedient to His commands. Other ways are singing or playing music as a means to worship and praise Him. For me, this is a really big thing. Music is such an important part of my life. I love nothing more than singing, playing my flute, and playing Christian music on my laptop or radio. Participating in the worship team at my church is where I find myself in a state of peace and contentment, and joy. Also, just being part of my church brings me joy. Being in the company of my fellow Believers in unity is the most awesome experience ever! I’m sure there are many more things that could be included, and I encourage my readers to seek out ways to be filled in God’s joy. You may just find that you are filled with a joy that you have never experienced before in your life.

A Willing Spirit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (KJV) As I read this I looked at other translations and found kind of a revelation to me. The Living Bible says, “make me willing to obey You.” That jumped out at me. God’s free Spirit makes us willing to obey Him!

Joy comes from God! When we receive His joy, it makes us willing to be obedient to Him. We are then walking in the pathway He has laid out before us. That pathway may have a few twists and turns, potholes and otherwise, not so comfortable situations, but we know that His way is always the best for us.

To give a little background on this Scripture, Psalm 51 is David’s heartfelt prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. When you read the entire chapter, you can just feel the despair and broken heartedness of David. Nathan has confronted David with his sin, and now David knows he must ask for forgiveness to be right with God and continue to be a “man after God’s own heart.”

The devotion today points out that it is ok to ask for your joy to be restored. John 16:24 says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (NIV) It’s God’s desire that we have joy in our hearts despite the circumstances or station we find ourselves in life. He is more than willing to restore joy into our hearts when we ask Him.

Another thing that popped out at me was that when we are obedient, we have joy! We die to our own desires and wants and change our desires for what God wants in our lives. Everything in life traces back to obedience to God’s will. When we are on the right track we have joy, peace, and contentment. We are in a good place with Him at our side.

Do we get ourselves off track and sin? Sure we do! We’re not perfect! We will make mistakes and sometimes become down right rebellious. But the great thing is, God is always there to offer forgiveness, set us on the right track, and gives us a second chance.

We must have a spirit that is willing to ask for forgiveness and endeavor to be obedient to His plan and will for our lives. Sometimes obedience doesn’t come easy, especially if we are stubborn in wanting our own way. Yep, that’s me! Stubborn could be my middle name! The hard part is getting rid of the stubbornness and being pliable in God’s Hands to be molded to what it is He wants us to become.

Another thing I began to think about is that becoming pliable requires us to make an active determination to be obedient and willing to follow God and His ways by getting rid of those things in our lives that is a hindrance to our growth and witness. Words and actions must line up, as well as attitudes. The key for me is, have I allowed Jesus to shine in me so that others see Him, or do they see me in all my sin and stubbornness and disobedience? Does my behavior and attitude show Christ in everything I do and say? When we can say yes to that last question, then we can have the joy and peace that is rightfully ours as children of God.

The more we seek God’s will for our lives and search out His joy, we can know we are walking in obedience and following His pathway for our lives. His plan is always good, and He has a plan for each one of us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Following His plan brings us joy!

A Joyful Heart

I’m beginning a devotional series on having a joyful heart. Yesterday’s Scripture was Psalm 16:11, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (NASB) Today’s Scripture is II Corinthians 6:10, “As sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” (NASB) I combined both Scriptures today because the source of joy is from God, and yet, even though we are going through trials, we can still be joyful because that joy comes from Him.

As I was doing both pages, yesterday and today, I couldn’t help but think of situations where I needed God’s joy in my life. Once was when I miscarried the only time I became pregnant, and the other was when my first husband died. Both times I needed God’s joy even though I was in deep pain and sorrow. I could honestly say that God’s joy was in my heart despite the circumstances. To the average person that concept doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. How can you be joyful and be in sorrow at the same time? First, I think we need to look at what we are talking about. Joy is not happiness and happiness is not necessarily joy. Joy is deep in your heart and doesn’t depend on circumstances. Happiness is fleeting. We can be happy in one second and unhappy in the next. We can be joyful even though we are not happy.

Confusing? Yes, it can be. But when we understand that joy doesn’t come from our emotions but from deep inside, whereas happiness is emotion driven, then it isn’t so confusing. Joy comes from God and He places that joy deep inside of us.

When my first husband, Allen, died, I felt a multitude of emotions…grief, relief, joy, exhausted, lost, isolated, not whole…the list went on and on. All of those emotions were piled on me at the same time. I grieved because I was missing my life partner and best friend. Relief, because I was his primary caregiver and it hurt me to see him suffer. Joy, because I knew he was in Heaven with God and was no more in a debilitated condition and suffering. Exhausted, because there was nothing left in me after caring for him for seven years from strokes and epilepsy. Lost and not whole, because a part of me was missing. Isolated, because I felt all alone. Yet I still had a deep joy, knowing God was in control despite my circumstances. I knew He would never leave me, and He would walk with me through this. Was I happy? No, but I still had joy and my faith in God was not shaken.

II Corinthians 6:10 talks about being sorrowful, yet rejoicing, about being poor but making others rich, and having nothing but possessing everything. These things are happening simultaneously. Our circumstances don’t dictate our joyfulness, but they can dictate our happiness. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people who have next to nothing in possessions talk about how contented they are with their lives in spite of the fact that they are poor. They scrimp and save and eke out an existence with little to show for it. Yet, they seem to be the happiest, most joyful people on the planet, and more often than not, they are the biggest givers. They may not have much, but what little they have, they are willing to share with others. Whereas the people with everything financially and materially seem to be the most unhappy people. Living lives of “I have to keep everything to myself” and not willing to really share from the bounty they possess. II Corinthians says that because of joy, even though we have nothing, we possess all things. Only God can do that! Only God can give us that joyful heart that leads to contentment and brings peace into our heart and life.