Vision Requires Alignment with God

Today I’m preaching to myself. As we look at having a vision and accomplishing that vision, I am pricked in my heart. My vision to reach others with Jesus’ love and be an example for others to see His love in me, requires that I be aligned with His Will and the pathway He has set before me. Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (NASB)

The reason I say that I am preaching to myself is that as I read this verse today, God showed me how I was not aligned with His Kingdom. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have a problem with anger. I also have a problem with laziness. Neither of these things are qualities that line up with righteousness, peace, or joy; they are anything but! So, I must become aligned with God’s desires for me; to be a person of peace and righteousness thereby giving way to joy.

Alignment is something we all need, whether physically or Spiritually. I deal with Scoliosis, arthritis, and osteoporosis in my back. I need to see a Chiropractor every month to get my back adjusted and put back into alignment. When I skip a month or two for some reason, the back pain is more than I can stand some days. My back needs to be put in place so that it will not give me pain. The same is true in our spiritual lives. When we are not in alignment with God’s Will we encounter pain, be that Spiritually or physically. We need to make adjustments in our lives so that we reflect the characteristics of God.

Visions, whether they be physical, mental, or Spiritual sometimes require that to reach the goal, we must change something to be successful. In my case, anger is not an attitude that shows God’s love; therefore, I need to make changes to reach that goal of having a Christlike attitude. If I want others to see Jesus in me, my attitude and actions must reflect His nature. I need to be aligned with the Holy Spirit in my life. Proverbs 4:3 tells me, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” To be aligned I need to work on my heart. I need to keep my heart diligently with vigilance. The dictionary says vigilance is, “the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.”

This is not something that comes easily for me. The enemy puts up roadblocks to trip me up, and even though I may know that’s what is happening, my default is to react in anger. Planning what I will do if someone makes me angry doesn’t really work with me. The anger is sometimes so hot that no matter how much planning I do, I fail and explode before I even can catch myself. My problem with laziness is just as bad. Satan knows how much I hate doing housework, and he is adept at putting other things in my pathway, things that are much more enjoyable, that I fall prey to his temptation, and will waste a whole day doing something other than housework. As I said, planning what I will do to counteract these things does not come easily for me and putting them into practice is even harder.

I must make a conscious effort to push past my instinct to go to my default position on these things. I must determine in my heart to become aligned with God’s Will for me, I must make adjustments in my life to fulfill the vision I have of being a witness before others. I must take account of where I am to reach my goal of accomplishing my vision. How do I do this? Pray and ask God for His help. He wants my vision to become a reality as much as I do.

So today, if you are like me and need alignment, ask God to show you what needs to be aligned and adjusted, then ask Him to help you. He never goes back on His Word to help us. (Isaiah 41:10, 13) God also gives us tools. James 4:7 tells us that we are to, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” (NASB) We must be aligned to His Holy Spirit so that we can accomplish the vision He has placed on our hearts.

Write the Vision

As we begin a new year, we are talking about having a vision. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.” (NASB) The King James Version says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Writing our vision down is the first step in accomplishing the goals we set before ourselves. I must admit, I’m not good at making goals or writing down visions.

I have dreams just like anyone else but setting goals has always been a hard thing for me. My thinking is, “God’s going to do what He wants to do anyway, my making goals isn’t going to change what He does.” However, I’m beginning to see that by writing down a vision and setting goals is the first step in accomplishing the dreams I have.

For instance, my purpose in beginning this blog is to reach people with Jesus’ love and leading them to know Him by accepting Him as Lord and Savior. That is my vision! My heart’s desire is to see people come to Jesus, asking for His forgiveness, and endeavoring to live for Him so that others will know Him also. One of those tools in accomplishing that vision is my use of Bible Journaling.

I admit that I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but God knows that, and what I do in my Bible Journaling is an expression of what He points out to me from the Scripture, and He’s ok with what I do.

Another tool is expressing in words what He is speaking to me, hence the blog. My thoughts written here are a pouring out of what He wants me to learn or what He wants me to hold on to and to share with others.

I believe that God has called me to this as a ministry. I’m not concerned with how many likes I get or how many followers I have. My primary focus is being obedient to what God has called me to do, and I leave the results up to Him. It’s nice when I get a new follower; I am grateful that I have made an impact on someone through my blog. I keep in mind that Scripture says not to despise small beginnings, (Zechariah 4:10) because God rejoices in seeing the beginning of something sprout and grow, whether it be a ministry He is calling us to, or whether it is a goal we have that is lined up with His will.

Writing the vision down puts it in black and white, it is in front of our eyes, something to look at from time to time as a reminder of the direction we want to go. Writing goals are steps to accomplish that vision. Periodically we need to take account of where we are in achieving the vision and goals we have set; it gives us a measuring stick as to how well we are doing.

Today, I encourage you to sit down and think about what vision you have for this year. What do you want to see come to fruition? Where would you like to be in comparison to where you are now? Pray about the vision you have set, ask God if this is where He is leading you to, and ask for His help in reaching your goal for this year. Write down the vision!

God’s Grace Transforms Us

This past week has been very hard for me and my family. Saturday, we held the funeral for my nephew, and it’s been difficult to say the least. So, I’ve not been in any frame of mind to do journaling. The day before my husband and I left to go to the funeral I did my Bible journaling artwork, and Satan knew just how to get to me because my hubby and I had a big argument and I couldn’t even put my thoughts together to write my journaling blog. So, the artwork has just been sitting here and as I look at it and read the Scripture, I still am having a hard time knowing where to begin.

The verse comes from Titus 2:11-13, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (NASB) The first thing I see in this passage is that God’s grace brings us salvation. For that, I am eternally grateful! Without His grace toward me, I would have no hope, no joy, no peace.

The second thing I see is that God instructs us in how to live our lives. He guides us in godly living, and that guidance helps to transform us. When we allow Him to do that transforming work in our lives, we are changed. We are not the same people we were ten years ago, five years ago, a year ago, even a day ago! He is constantly molding us and changing us to be more like Him. As I think about how He has transformed me, I recognize that the transformation He must do in me can only come about if I allow Him to work in my life, allow Him to change me.

I still battle with anger issues, but He is working in me trying to help me gain control of my anger. It isn’t easy for me to not just lash out at whoever I’m angry with. I am a work in progress. I don’t know if I will ever gain control over this, but I know it can’t happen if I don’t allow Him to do what He needs to do in me to gain the victory over anger. He is still working, and I can see that the outbursts aren’t as frequent, but I still have a lot of work to do to be more like Him.

The last thing I see in this passage is that because of His transforming work in our lives, we have something to look forward to…”the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” We are expectantly waiting for His return, the Glorious Appearing! As I look at events in today’s world, I know His return is very close. There are days I say, “OK, God, You can come anytime, I’ve had enough!” We have a future to look forward to! We can be assured that He will keep His promise to come and take us home with Him. We also can have that assurance that He won’t call us home until we are transformed into who are to become…a transformed child of God who is the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Guard Your Mind

I’m going to break off today from the Journaling on love for this month. Sunday, our pastor gave a message called, “Guard Your Mind.” This is an area where, I think, most of us, Believer and non-believer alike, are having problems. Satan’s sole purpose is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) and he will use any means he can find to accomplish his purpose. We are looking at II Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (KJV)

Satan knows one fact; the battlefield is our minds! He wants to take control of our minds, what we think on and how we look at the world. As Believers, we have an advantage, God has given us the ability and power to control our minds. We can decide whether we will dwell on negative thoughts or positive thoughts or on sinful thoughts or holy thoughts. Satan’s desire is to corrupt our thought life. He plants temptation through our minds, and it is up to us whether we will dwell on those thoughts, leading us to temptation and sin. We can rationalize and say, “Well, no one else knows what I’m thinking, how bad can this be?” However, we forget there is One who knows our thoughts, God! He knows exactly what we are thinking. He calls us to think pure, honorable, right, and lovely thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)

Satan has a strategy to draw us away from those good and lovely thoughts. The Bible says he is a deceiver. (Revelation 12:9) One of his tactics is to bring doubt into our minds. We see this in the Garden of Eden. The serpent (Satan) deceived Eve by causing her to doubt what God had said about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He said they were not to eat from it, and Satan asks Eve, “…hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” When Eve tells him what God said about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that if they ate from it they would die, Satan tells her, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day that ye eat thereof; then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5 KJV) He put doubt into her mind, causing her to think that God was withholding something good from her. When she and Adam ate from the tree, death did come, not physical, but spiritual. Satan had won that bout, he caused her to fall.

Another strategy Satan uses is perversion. In today’s world, it’s hard not to see some pretty awful things. It seems that everywhere we turn we are faced with things that are unholy, whether it’s TV programs or song lyrics. We live in a depraved world and it is hard for a Christian to maintain pure thoughts when we are constantly bombarded from every side. II Corinthians 4:4 tells us that he blinds the minds of unbelievers. Because they have no advocate to help them, they end up succumbing to the temptations of their minds. He also tries to blind us, but we have God to help us. Whether it’s sexually explicit material or other things, Satan plants those thoughts into our minds, and it is up to us fight against it. Matthew 16:19 says that we can bind Satan and loose the power of God.

The door Satan uses is our unconfessed or hidden sin. When we don’t deal with our sin, it gives him an opportunity to enter and plant his deception. But we can defeat the enemy by doing three things, repent of sin, resist him, and renew our minds. Repentance closes the door on Satan, resisting his attempts is our action of fighting against him, and renewing our minds is done through getting into God’s Word, committing every day to God, and praying for God’s help. The battlefield is definitely in our minds. We must be diligent in keeping our thought life pure. Applying Philippians 4:8 daily by thinking on “these things” …what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, anything of virtue, anything of praise. When we do this, we can then guard our minds, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5)

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.

Think Carefully

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Haggai 1:5, “Think carefully about your ways.” (CSB). This month we’ve been talking about having goals, making plans, and God’s plans and promises. To give a little background on this passage, the prophet, Haggai was directed by God to give a message to Zerubbabel, who was the governor of Judah. God was displeased with the children of Israel because they had tended to their own houses and left the temple in ruins. They were supposed to be rebuilding the temple, but they were more concerned with their own personal comfort and well-being, that they disregarded God’s house while reconstructing their own homes.

God gave them a directive, “Think carefully about your ways.” He mentions this twice, in verse 8 God once again tells them, “Think carefully about your ways.” He’s dead serious about this, hence the repeating of his instruction. Their hearts were in the wrong place. They did not desire to be obedient, and God showed His displeasure with their heart attitudes. Verse 6 talks about how they planted but their harvest amounted to little. They eat and drink, but they are not satisfied. They put on clothes, but they never have enough to stay warm. God held back blessings from them because of their disobedience and disregard for His house. Therefore, He charges them to think carefully about all they have done.

As we sit down and make our goals, and make plans to accomplish those goals, we must think carefully about how we are going to accomplish what we want. Whether it’s something as physical as losing weight, or as spiritual as becoming more like Christ in attitude and action, we must carefully think about how we are going to meet that goal.

As I recently recounted about a neighbor who failed to sit down and plan out the building of his house and failed miserably, we can fail in accomplishing our goals without careful planning, thinking about what steps we must take to be successful, setting ourselves up for meeting that goal.

In a spiritual sense, not only must we think carefully about how we will be more like Jesus, but we must also consult God. Spending time in prayer and Bible study, seeking wisdom from godly counselors, all help us to accomplish our desire to be more like Him.

For me, the first step is taking account of where I am right now with Jesus. What attitudes and actions am I exhibiting? Are they reflecting a Christ-like attitude? If not, what do I need to do to change? Then I need to go to God in prayer, asking Him to help me be the person He wants me to be. As I look into His Word, I must ask Him to show me verses that will help me to succeed. Accomplishing my goal is done one step at a time. As I succeed with each trial that makes me choose the right attitude or action, I then need to thank Him for His help. When I have reached the goal then I must remember not to let pride take hold, for if I become prideful then I am like the children of Israel who disregarded God’s instruction.

Heart attitude is so important. We can cause all the good we do to be of no account because of a poor heart attitude. Then the goals we have accomplished become as nothing. “Think carefully about your ways.” Only then can we be truly successful in achieving our goals.

Count the Cost

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Luke 14:28, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he enough to complete it?” (NASB) I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not much of a planner. Give me a daily planner and you will most likely see an empty planner! Although, if I have a specific task to do, say planning a party, I will figure out all I need.

I have never been one of those “This is where I want to be in five years” kind of people. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that all my planning goes out the window, because God has my life and He knows where He’s taking me, I’m just along for the ride. For example, I moved from Ohio to Montana and said, OUT LOUD, “I will never move cross country again!” WRONG! Ten years later I moved from Montana to Southern Illinois! It was a God thing for sure. I often tell people that when I made that statement God just laughed and said, “Oh yeah?”

On the other hand, there is something to be said for planning. Jesus used the example of someone building a tower. When my first hubby and I built our house in Montana, we had to sit down with a contractor and draw out our plans so he could draw a blueprint. That blueprint was his roadmap on how much material he needed and the exact dimensions and placing of each room in the house. Without the blueprint, he wouldn’t be able to build a strong, sturdy, house that would withstand the elements.

Our lives are like building that house. Without a goal or a plan, we wander aimlessly through life, not knowing where we are going. Are there parts of our lives we would like to change? How badly do we want to change them? If we are intent on changing, then we must sit down and “count the cost”. What will it take for us to make that change? Will there be discomfort in changing…most likely there will. Are we willing to endure the hardship to make that change? What steps must we take to bring about that change? All of these things need to be considered when we come face to face with parts of our lives that we are unhappy about or want to make better.

Planning means taking the time to evaluate what it is we need to be doing, how we are going to go about bringing that change, and above all…praying for God’s help in moving forward to overcome during the hard times and becoming the person He has created us to be. I know what needs to change in my life, and this year I need to be intentional about bringing about that change. My first issue is getting the courage to actually start! I guess I’m more of the “I need a swift kick in the pants” type of person.

For example, I need to lose weight (don’t we all?) That involves dieting and exercise. I’ve fallen off the diet wagon this past year and gained all the weight I lost. A lot of it has to do with exercises…my back pain has kept me from getting into it again. However, if I don’t get up off the recliner and get moving, I’ll be in worse shape than I am now. So, I need to make the time (set an alarm? schedule time? be determined?) to get this done so that it will help me lose weight. I need to be committed to sticking to my diet…no more munchies of potato chips and pretzels…but eating healthy snacks, and in limited amounts. I’ve lost the weight doing this and I know I can do it…I just need to make up my mind and be determined to get this done.

The same applies with our Spiritual lives. We must sit down and be determined to change or move forward in areas that will draw us closer to God. That may involve scheduling a Quiet Time with the Lord…if it means putting it on your calendar, then do that, as a reminder that you need to spend time with God. I’m not a morning person, so praying and reading my Bible when I first get up is not good. I can barely function much less concentrate on what I’m reading, and have it stick. So, I do my Bible Journaling, which becomes my Quiet Time with Him, later in the morning or sometimes in the afternoon when I can retain what I’m reading and praying for His guidance in what I’m supposed to do, in journaling and in life.

We are at the beginning of a new year, and it’s a good time to decide how we are going to go about doing what it is God wants us to do, and how we can follow Him closer, so that we become the person He has created us to be.