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!”

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God Keeps His Promises

Today’s Bible Journaling is from II Corinthians 1:20, “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God.” (CSB) Today has been one of those days…I am convinced that there is something about this study that the enemy doesn’t want brought out. I woke up this morning and took a bath and when I got out of the tub and got dressed, I got so dizzy I could barely stand. My hubby had to help me to a chair and bring my hair dryer and things so I could dry my hair and then brought my vitamins and medicine and breakfast to me because I could hardly stand up without the room spinning. After sitting for a while, eating my breakfast, taking my meds, and drying my hair, I began to feel better. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, my hubby went downstairs to the basement only to discover that the sewer had backed up into our basement and left about 4 inches of water down there.

All these things have been a distraction this morning and have made it hard to concentrate on my journaling. I said something to my hubby about how I thought this was a Spiritual attack, and we prayed together and rebuked Satan’s attempt at distracting us from what God had called us to do, my hubby and his work on his commentary on the book of Revelation and me from my Bible Journaling and blog.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I look at the Scripture and am reminded first of all that God has made promises to us. The second thing I am reminded of is that God keeps His promises. Every promise He has made in the past, He has fulfilled. There are promises for the future that we can be certain that He will make good. His promises are “Yes!” That means He intends to keep that promise! We can trust Him! He will never turn His back on us, He will never make a promise and then break it. Because of that we can say, “AMEN!” God will receive the glory because others will see how God has kept His promises in our lives.

With the situation today, God has always promised His protection. The water leakage could have been much worse, running into the house, but thankfully it didn’t because God has promised protection over us and our property. My illness could have been much worse, causing me to go to the hospital, but it wasn’t because God had His Hand on me and in effect, told the dizziness, “This far and no farther.”

The same is regarding the devices Satan tries to bring into our lives to distract us from following God. I think of Job and the trials he had. Satan wanted to throw everything including the kitchen sink at him to prove to God that Job would turn his back on God. But God gave Satan limits…God told Satan that he could do what he wanted but he couldn’t take Job’s life. (Job 1:6-12) Satan does have power, but he can only do what God allows. That should give us peace because we know that Satan is allowed to do only so much, even though it seems like the end of the world, God will not let him totally destroy us.

We can trust God because of His promises. We can trust that He will fulfill those promises, we can trust that we are safely in His Hand. We can have faith that whatever happens, God is with us and we can run to Him for security and safety. He is our Abba Father and He loves us. He will not allow anything to happen to us that isn’t under His protection or will. Are you facing trials that seem to destroy you? Trust God, He promises to keep you in the safety of His Hand. Has He kept promises He made to you? Then give Him praise and relate those fulfilled promises to those around you. Not only will it encourage you, it will encourage others also.

Jesus-Our Wonderful Counselor

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (NASB) The names of Jesus struck me, but mostly the name of Wonderful Counselor.

In researching what this means, I found a website called “Walk in the Word” by James MacDonald. (https://jamesmacdonald.com/jesus-the-wonderful-counselor/) He had some insightful things to say about the name given Jesus as Wonderful Counselor. As we read this passage in Isaiah, James MacDonald says, “Isaiah says, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor.” He’s not the angry counselor, the gruff counselor, or the disconnected counselor. He understands what we’re going through and can advise us while He accompanies us through whatever we are facing. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).” (CSB)

He also explained the meaning of Wonderful. It is not as we would think of today, but we need to look at it from the perspective of Isaiah. MacDonald says, “…the Hebrew word for wonderful is “pela” which actually means wonder or miracle. So the “wonderful” in Wonderful Counselor doesn’t just mean delightful and pleasing but also miraculous. He is a miracle-working Counselor who does what no one else can do for you. The biblical idea of counsel involves both careful listening and clear advising. It describes someone who is wise; someone who really knows how to live and will share that knowledge.”

Just think, Jesus is our miracle-working Counselor, someone who knows what we are going through, who guides us with wisdom and understanding. He also walks with us through those times when we are confused or do not understand the what’s and why’s of the situation. He directs our pathway. (Isaiah 48:17) Proverbs 16:9 says that He “establishes our steps.” (NIV)

He is far greater than any human counselor can be. People can only give advice, imperfect as we are, for we can offer only what we understand. God Himself, Jesus, has perfect understanding because He sees our lives from beginning to the end. He sees the whole picture, and we can only see a portion. He also knows what He wants to accomplish in our lives. He has a plan mapped out for us. 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.” (NIV) His plans are the best for our lives. We may think we have our lives all planned out, but they can’t supersede what God has in store for us. It’s up to us to decide to follow God’s plan for us or not. He has only good in mind for our lives. The end result is for our betterment, even if the situation may not seem good at the time, the result is for our good.

How many times have we gone through something that was so horrible that we would not want to ever repeat it? But once it is over and we’ve come through it victoriously, we have found that if it were not for the experience, where we are right now would never have come about if we had not gone through it. Jesus’ counseling, guiding, leading, and directing has brought us to a higher level of relationship with Him, and we have become stronger in the process.

I look back at my life and I can see His Hand in so many areas. I have often said that my life is an adventure with Jesus. I have had so many experiences that I never would have imagined when I was a young teenager. One example is my life with my first husband. When I was in high school, if someone would have told me that I would be on radio and television, I would have told them they were crazy, and yet God saw fit to have me meet my first husband and marry him, and enter the world of broadcasting, because he was a chief engineer of Christian radio and television and we found ourselves on the air in front of a mic or TV camera quite often. This was not something I had planned for myself, but Jesus guided me, “counseled” me, and led me into a life of ministry that has spanned almost 50 years.

I praise God for being my Counselor. Left to my own devices, I would have made a miserable mess out of my life. He knows and loves me, and He wants the best for me! Are you going through a time of difficulty or indecision? Look to Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, He will walk with and guide you.

Adopted into God’s Family

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (ESV) The thought that popped out at me in this passage was the idea of adoption. Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection made the way for us to be adopted into God’s family.

Jesus came as a baby, fully human, to be our Sacrificial Lamb, to redeem us from the penalty of our sins. The verse says “when the fullness of time came…” At the right time, and in the right place, God sent His Son to be born of a virgin. Jesus was fully God and yet He was fully human. Before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, humankind was under the law. God gave Moses the law so that we would be faced with the fact that we are not perfect, and can not fulfil the law, but God sent Jesus to rescue us from the penalty of not following the law. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God adopts us into His family. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12 KJV) Because of that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. We experience God’s grace and mercy because of our acceptance of His Son and His finished work on the cross.

Now, in the Old Testament, those who trusted and obeyed God, the Father, were accepted by God as His people. They were faithful to Him and worshipped Him. But they still had to offer sacrifices for their sins because Jesus had not yet come to take the penalty for their sins. Romans 9:4 says, “…Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.” (NIV)

Once Jesus’ sacrifice was completed, the sacrifice of animals was no longer needed because He was the final sacrifice. When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and forgive us of our sins, He does just that, and we then become children of God through adoption.

Adoption is such an awesome thing. It takes a child who is without a family and makes them part of a family. By law, that child is a bonafide member of that family, they have the same rights legally as a child born into that family. Because of Jesus and what He did for us, we can be part of God’s family and become a child of God. We can share in the same rights that Jesus has. God doesn’t see our sin, but He sees Jesus’ shed blood covering our sins and we are made perfect because of His blood shed for us. Ephesians 1:5 says, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (NIV)

I have a friend who has adopted several children. Those children are her kids! She sees no difference between her blood birthed children and her adopted ones. She loves them all equally. In God’s family, God sees us as His sons and daughters, there is no difference between Jesus and us…we are His! We have the same rights of sonship as our big brother, Jesus!

I am so grateful to God for adopting me into His family. I can go to my Abba Father anytime and talk to Him about my struggles, my joys, my anxieties, and those things I need His help with. Jesus’ birth and death has helped make all of that possible, and I love Him so much for what He has done for me!

Our Hope

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from I Peter 1:13, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” When I read this from the devotion time the Scripture comes from, I wondered why this verse was used for Christmas…it just didn’t seem to be a Christmas kind of verse. But, as I went through the devotion, I began to see where it can apply to this Season.

The first thing the verse tells us is to gird up our loins. Now, in modern times, this phrase doesn’t mean much to us. I mean…what does it mean to gird up your loins? In Bible times, people wore long robes. If they needed to do something like running a race, take a journey, or do work of any kind, they needed to fasten their robe so that it didn’t get in the way of what they were doing. It denotes getting prepared, becoming ready to accomplish the task you are about to undertake. The commentary I read (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible) referenced the Israelites as they prepared to leave Egypt. They were to leave at a moment’s notice, so they had to be sure that everything was ready so that they could take off quickly. We are to have our minds prepared for this journey we call the Christian life. We are also to be sober-minded, not allowing anything to distract us from the things God calls us to do, keeping our minds focused on Jesus and the precepts the Bible teaches us to apply to our lives.

Our Scripture also says we are to “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In trying to answer a question in the devotion about what it means to hope for grace, I turned to the commentary. The commentary said the Arabic version of the verse interprets it to mean “trusting with confidence.” So, I understand that we are to trust confidently or completely in the grace God gives us through Jesus as He is revealed to us. That hope comes us through trusting in the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty for our sin completely.

The revelation of Jesus as I see it, is the birth of Jesus, coming to earth, as fully God and fully human. That hope we have when we ask Jesus into our hearts and make Him the Lord and Master of our lives, is because of His birth, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection!

When we live in preparation for whatever He has for us to accomplish as His followers, stay focused on that task He has given us, and trust completely and confidently in what He has done for us, we not only have hope for today, but we have hope for the future. We, as Believers, look forward to, or HOPE, in the eternal LIFE with Him we receive, and we anxiously await His return to come for those who are still alive at the time of the Rapture of the Church.

Therefore, Christmas is a celebration of that revelation. We rejoice because Jesus has come to do the work that God the Father commissioned Him to do, He accomplished it perfectly, and we are the recipients of that work. His grace, unmerited favor, is poured out on us when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We receive what we do not deserve (eternal life) and are released from what we do deserve (eternal death.)

I hope that you have accepted Jesus into your heart and are trusting in His finished work on the cross. Rejoice! Our Savior has come! May you and your loved ones have a very Merry and Blessed CHRISTmas!

Jesus, the Lamb of God

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (KJV) At first glance, this seems to be a strange verse to equate with Christmas, but when we really understand why Jesus came, it fits perfectly. Often, we don’t think about Christ’s sacrifice when we think about the Baby in the manger. However, the two are so interconnected that we really cannot separate them.

God had a plan set up to save us from the very foundation of the earth. He needed a way to deal with sin. There had to be a punishment for rebellion against Him, for after all, that is exactly what sin is…rebellion against God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (KJV) Every single one of us has had rebellion in our hearts toward God. When we decide in our hearts to disobey God, there is a consequence, and with that consequence comes a penalty. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (KJV) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

We cannot pay the penalty for our sin. We cannot work our way into salvation, we can’t buy our way into salvation, only through Jesus’ sacrifice are we redeemed, are we made pure. God requires a perfect sacrifice, without blemish, without sin, pure, and by the shedding of blood from that sacrifice. There was only one who could fulfil those requirements, and that was Jesus. Jesus, who was born of a virgin, the Holy Son of God, who walked this earth and experienced everything we do, and who knows just what we go through, yet He was perfect. The book of Hebrews says He experienced everything we do “yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 KJV)

The four Gospels look at Jesus from different vantage points. The book of Matthew shows Jesus as our King, the book of Mark views Him as the Servant, the book of Luke shows Him as the “Son of Man”, whereby Jesus shows His compassion toward those who are considered outcasts, and the book of John shows Jesus as the Son of God. All these attributes of Christ are given to us so that we understand more clearly Who He is, What He came to do, and Why He came to do it.

Without the Cross, Jesus’ birth is just another baby that was born. Without Jesus’ birth as the Son of God, His death on the Cross would just be another execution. The two are tied together. Jesus’ story is complete only when we include His miraculous birth and His redeeming death on the Cross.

Then, once we know and understand Jesus’ plan for us, we have a decision to make. What will we do with this information, what will we do with Jesus? We must choose to accept His loving sacrifice. He took the penalty for our sin to save us from having to meet that requirement of death for our sin. What better way to celebrate His birth than to accept Him as our Lord and Savior!

Dear reader, if you have never chosen to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, now is the perfect time! Just pray and ask Him to come into your heart, to be the ruler of your life, to forgive you of your sins, to cleanse you from all of your sin, past, present, and future, and then promise to allow Him to be the Master of your life, and to follow Him all the days of your life, serving Him in all that you do. My friend, He will do just that, and as He takes over, you will find peace, joy, and contentment.

God – Fully Human

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God.  Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.”  Jesus was fully God and fully human!  That’s something that our finite minds just can’t fathom.  It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around that.  But God required a spotless, pure, blameless sacrifice for our sins.

In the Old Testament, God required an appropriate sacrifice for the sins of Adam and Eve, a spotless lamb, perfect in every way. (Genesis 3:21, 4:4) Although Scripture doesn’t explicitly say God sacrificed a lamb, it does say that an animal was killed in order to provide animal skins to clothe Adam and Eve.  One commentary (from Abide in Christ Ministries) said that garments were symbols for righteousness.  The fig leaves that Adam and Eve made for themselves is a representation of man’s attempts at righteousness through good works and religious ritual.  Man-made attempts at righteousness are poor substitutes for the proper sacrifice required by God.  Only the blood of a spotless lamb could cover sin.

Jesus is called “The Lamb of God” (John 1:29) and He is our sacrifice for our sins.  He had to be fully God to fulfill the requirements for a perfect sacrifice.  But He also had to be fully human in order to identify with our life here on earth.  He went through all the temptations, trials, joys, sorrows, everything we experience, He experienced.  How else could He understand our predicament?  One thing is different, however; He went through everything we do, but did not sin!   Jesus was tempted by Satan, just as we are, and He came through the temptation victoriously.  There is no way we could ever be that spotless, perfect sacrifice, nor can we ever pay for our sins.  We can’t buy our way, we can’t work our way, nor can we ever be perfect enough to provide the proper sacrifice for our sins.  The work Jesus did on the Cross was the full requirement of payment for our sins.  All we are required to do is decide whether we will accept His free gift of salvation, as punishment for our sins.  God’s plan provided a way of escape for us.  He sent Jesus in the form of a tiny helpless baby.

This past Sunday our church had their Christmas program, and a song was sung that pretty much sums up the feeling of most people who don’t understand what God was doing.  The song is called, “What a Strange Way to Save the World”.  The song is sung about Joseph as he is trying to understand why God would choose to provide salvation for the world by choosing to send Jesus as a baby, by choosing Mary to be His mother, by choosing Joseph to be His Step-father.

The Bible says that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), His ways are higher than ours.  He sees the grand scheme of the plan, and we see only a small portion of His plan for us.  We can’t see how things are being set out, nor can we see the final outcome for our lives.  God’s plan is perfect, and He has the best in mind for us.  His plan of salvation is the best plan, and He put it into motion because of His love for us.  He wants a relationship with us.  Our sin breaks that relationship.  He made a way for us.

The girls in our Youth group did a painting as part of the Christmas program….as far as I’m concerned, it was true Bible Journaling without painting on a Bible page!  As they painted, our worship team sang the song, “He Made a Way in a Manger”.   It was so powerful!  The picture covers Jesus birth, His ministry, His death, His resurrection, and shows His great love for us!  Our girls did such an amazing job on this!  Everyone was just spell-bound!  That’s the Gospel from beginning to end.