A Thankful Heart

For the past week or so, I’ve not been posting because I had cataract surgery on my right eye, and I need to let it heal. Today I decided to try Bible Journaling, and I’m finding that I may need to wait a while longer. I will be having the other done in a week, so I may be out of service for a couple more weeks or so. With that said, I need to finish our devotion to how we can be the light, and we will be working on being grateful for this month. I want to try and incorporate both of those thoughts this month somehow.

For today though, we will look at I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We need to have grateful hearts. There are so many things for which we can give God praise and thanks. Even during times of distress, there are things for which we can be grateful. As I was doing my Bible Journaling page, I listed a few things for which I am thankful that God has given me. I am so grateful for my husband. He came at the right time in my life. He ended a time of darkness in my life. God knew I needed him then, and He blessed me with another wonderful man of God! I have been so blessed to have two husbands who were/are in ministry with a heart after God. The time between them was a period of grief and darkness, but as our verse tells us today, we are to rejoice always…even in the darkness.

I am also thankful for the talent He has given me in music. I am so grateful to be able to be part of the Worship Team at my church. I find it a blessing to express my gratefulness, love, and devotion to Him through my singing and playing. I can use the talent He has given me for His glory.

Most of all I am thankful for His salvation. His grace is above and beyond anything I can even imagine. He loved me before I loved Him! He sought me out and drew me to Himself because He wanted a relationship with me. As I look at my Bible Journaling page, it kind of looks like a bit of a mess, but then I remember, He takes my mess and makes it something beautiful and for that, He gets the glory!

Our verse says we also are to pray unceasingly! Now, that doesn’t mean that we are in constant prayer, unable to do anything but pray. No, we are to be in an attitude of prayer daily. Our thoughts should be in a conversation with our Lord and Master throughout the day. In that way, we keep our relationship with God strong. It helps us to hear His voice, we become familiar to His still, small, voice even when constant chaos and noise is around us. As we listen to His leading and we spend time with Him, as we’ve been discussing, we can then allow His light to shine in and through us, drawing others to Him. As we go about our day doing the things we must do, our attitude should be that of being in contact with Him, seeking His will and asking what would give Him glory and honor.

Our verse today also goes on to say that we are to give thanks in everything! That includes times when nothing is going right. My husband is teaching me to praise God even when we don’t get what we prayed for, or when things are falling apart. He daily says, “Thank you God for this difficulty. I don’t understand why things went this way, but I give you praise for it anyway.” He is an example of giving thanks in everything. I admire him for being the example I need to see. I’m not one to say thank you for hard times, for the most part, and I need to learn how to honestly say thank you at that moment. What I notice about our verse is, it is God’s will for us to be thankful even in times of distress.

Even though this is the time of year that we are more conscious about being grateful, it is not just at Thanksgiving that we are to be thankful, it is for every day of our lives. When we show gratitude, it also allows God’s light to shine out to a dark world that needs to see a clear pathway to salvation and life.

Living a Full Life

As we finish our look at living life, many of us find it difficult to live a life that is full of joy, peace, and fulfillment. The Bible tells us there is a reason for that. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NASB) Our enemy, the Devil, seeks to take away any peace, joy or fulfillment we can have in life. His goal is to see that as Believers, we live a life that is ineffective in reaching others for Christ. He will do anything he can to defeat us in every area of our lives.

As we look at our Scripture today, Jesus has been talking to the people with the parable of The Good Shepherd. He explains that the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will not respond to anyone else. They are so close to him that they instantly recognize his voice as he calls them. He also tells them that the shepherd is the door to the sheep pen, and anyone who enters through the door other than the shepherd is a thief and a robber. In Bible times, sometimes many shepherds had to leave their sheep in a “community sheepfold” and someone was hired to be the doorkeeper. Each shepherd would come to get his sheep and would call to them. Only his sheep knew his voice and they would follow him. If anyone else tried to call his sheep, they would not follow because they did not know their voice.

Many times, our enemy tries to call us away from the abundant life found in Christ. I looked for a definition of what abundant life meant, and Wikipedia described it as, “a life abounding in joy and strength in mind, body, and soul.” For me, it means that my life is full of peace, joy, and fulfillment. I can find that abundant life only through Jesus Christ. As I live my life in a way that would bring honor and glory to God, then I can live a life that is complete, a life that is so full that I can hardly stand it.

Daily stresses can hinder us from living that abundant life. When we try to juggle work, home life, relationships, and the myriad of other things that we encounter daily, it can become so overwhelming that we find ourselves wanting to get away from it all. But, as we have seen in our series, all we need to do is look up to the One who can help us. See what God is asking for us to do. Maybe it’s just to step away from all the chaos and rest in Him. Maybe He’s asking us to trust Him in the path He is leading us, even though it makes no sense. Whatever He wants from us, that is the way to living the abundant life.

In my life, right now, I am dealing with physical pain in my knees and my back. I can let this get me down to the point of not doing anything because I’m in pain, thereby, living like a hermit and not getting out and enjoying life, or I can ask God for the strength to keep going and determine that I’m not going to let it get me down. I just spent a week at my sister’s because I had my 50th high school reunion, and while my hubby and I were there, we didn’t just sit around, we were on the go almost every day. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen and a cane! We walked more last week than I have in a long time. I was able to enjoy my high school reunion, go to a HUGE flea market, go to the zoo, visit some childhood friends, and visit the local Renaissance Faire. I lived life to the fullest despite the pain. Satan has tried his best to set me back in my walk with God, through physical pain. But I can say with firm conviction, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

If you are facing difficult circumstances, remember that it is Jesus who is able to deliver us, He is the One who gives us the strength, it is through Him that we have that abundant life!

The Joy of Worship

This morning I woke with the chorus of a song running through my head. The name of the song is “Humble Hearts Cry (All I Wanna Do)” and the chorus goes like this:

ALL I WANNA DO IS LOVE YOU
ALL I WANNA DO IS WORSHIP YOU
ALL I WANNA DO IS LAY HERE RIGHT AT YOUR FEET
AS I LIFT MY HANDS TO HEAVEN
LET YOUR FIRE FALL DOWN ON ME
REKINDLE THE FIRE WITHIN ME LORD ONCE AGAIN!

This song has stayed with me all morning and I decided to journal about worship. I began searching for Scripture that would speak to the lyrics of the song. I found so many verses where we are commanded to worship God, and I was beginning to get frustrated because I wanted a verse where the author was worshipping God because of their deep love for Him and not because they were commanded to worship. Then I found Psalm 63:1. David is showering his love upon God by saying, “O God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (NASB)

This is just what I was looking for! David echoes the longing of my heart. I love it when God puts a song in my mind, and it stays with me all day long! My heart sings to God as I think of how awesome He is. He has walked with me through joys and sorrows, through disappointments and triumphs, in the good and the bad, He has always been there! Oh, how I love Him!

I love how David says that his soul thirsts for God and his flesh yearns for Him. It is a burning desire to worship God and to keep his relationship with the Lord strong. Most of us think of worship as music – singing about our love for God and offering our praise to Him. But worship can be in many forms. It can be in the stillness when we allow God to speak to us and we marvel at how much He loves us. Worship can be reading His Word and learning more about His character. It can be seeing His beautiful creation and thanking Him for making such a beautiful world for us to live in. Worshipping God can be expressed in so many ways. For those of us who Bible Journal, that is a form of worship for us as we express what we are learning in Scripture, through our artwork. We show in visual form what God is speaking to our hearts.

God created us with a desire to worship. Everyone has that desire, Believer and Non-Believer alike. For those who don’t know Christ, worship can be anything from material goods to their job. They can worship movie stars or sports figures, people of influence. They place so much importance on these people and things and are so devoted that nothing else matters. They live for these things. But these people and things can’t give the satisfaction that comes from worshipping God.

God created us to worship Him! He placed a God-shaped hole in our hearts that can only be filled with Him. He desires for us to love Him and have a deep relationship with Him. It is only through our relationship with Him that we are complete. Our worship of God and who He is, what He means to us, and our love for Him help us live in peace, joy, and a sense of everything is right with the world. When we take the time to worship Him just for who He is, our hearts are so full of love for Him. I encourage you today to take the time to worship Him and you will find yourself full of adoration for our great God, I guarantee it!

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.

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.

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.