God Sees

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (NASB) I decided to read the entire chapter to get a background of this verse. God is giving Isaiah a message to deliver to the Israelites. They observe the fasts as God required, however; they were doing so with wrong attitudes, wrong motivation, and a wrong commitment. They were fasting and observing holy days with an attitude that was not one of complete dedication to God. They would appear to be holy, yet mistreat their fellow Israelite, not feeding the hungry, having an attitude of, “It really doesn’t really matter if I’m totally committed to this, I’m going to do it my way.”

I decided to look up the definitions of attitude, motive, and commitment to be sure I was applying the correct words to the thoughts I’m trying to convey. Motive is defined as, “a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.” Attitude is defined as, “a settled way of thinking about someone or something…” Commitment is defined as, “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” In my mind, all of these can be combined in our justification for doing something.

Scripture tells us that God sees the heart (I Samuel 16:7) when others see the outside. We can appear to be so holy and yet have motivations and attitudes that are totally opposite from our actions. God was pointing out that they were not totally sincere in fasting and carrying out the observances He required, and therefore, He didn’t recognize their efforts. But if they would change their motivation, their attitude, and their commitment to Him, then He would bless them, He would guide them.

My mind goes to being on the Worship Team. I love being on the Worship Team! God has called me to use my musical abilities for Him, and it’s my outlet to show God how much I love Him! It gives me an opportunity to lift my voice and my instrument in praise to Him for everything He has done for me. But I also have to be very careful, because I can play and sing with wrong motivations and attitudes. Am I doing this for my own self-gratification and to get the accolades of those in the congregation, or am I singing and playing to give honor, praise, and glory to God? Does what I do point others to Jesus or to myself? Every time I get ready to step onto the platform at my church I pray and ask God to check my attitude. Is it proper, does it reflect Him and not myself? I’m committed to playing and singing, but why? That’s where I must look at myself and check that I’m doing this for Him and not me. I must remember it’s all about Him and not about me.

When I am obedient to what He wants me to do, then He blesses my efforts, He blesses my life, and He fills me with joy at having the opportunity to minister to others. He makes my soul satisfied, and I am like a well-watered garden, growing and full of Spiritual fruit. The more I am obedient to what He asks me to do, the more He blesses me and gives me peace and satisfaction. When I have the proper attitude and motivation, He is pleased with me, and my commitment to Him is even greater, and it is a joy to serve Him in everything I do. Doing an attitude/motivation check is a good way to be certain we are in line with God’s will and plan for our lives.

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Delay is not Denial

 

Today’s Bible Journaling verse is Isaiah 53:8-9, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.”  This is the Lord’s declaration. ‘For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”  This week we are looking at seeking counsel, and as I began my Bible Journaling, I was having a difficult time deciding just what direction I wanted to take.  I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so to speak, as I’ve already done a post on seeking counsel, and so I was talking to my husband about what direction I should take, whether to continue with the topic of seeking counsel or go a different direction.  He said something that has kind of become his mantra.  He said that a main tenant of counseling is, “Delay is Not Denial.”

As he was talking, the idea of God’s timing is not ours, came into my mind.  We are in an “instant” society.  Everything seems to be instant this or instant that.  Instant coffee, TV dinners in the microwave, instant communication with texting, and on and on it goes.  Patience is not an idea that seems to be popular these days.  I’m reminded of the lady who prayed, “God give me patience and give it to me right now!”  As funny as that sounds, a lot of us are just like that lady…patience is not our strong suit.

But God says that His ways are not our ways…His plans for us, His ways, are higher than ours.  Psalm 90:4 says, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (ESV) God sees things a whole lot differently than we do, and to us it seems as if He takes way too long.  When we are seeking His counsel on a matter and we are waiting for the answer, it may seem as if He will never answer.  But remember, “Delay is NOT Denial!”  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the answer is no, it may be that it isn’t the proper time for that answer.

So, what should we do while we are waiting?  Continue to seek God regarding the matter.  Read His Word to help discern what it is God is telling us and wait patiently for the proper timing of our request to be fulfilled.  Is there something that we need to do to prepare for the answer?  Maybe there is something about ourselves that needs to be resolved first before the answer can come.  Maybe the circumstances about the situation are not all in place yet for the answer to come.  All these things may have an effect on when the answer comes.

God’s plans are for our good, He sees the end from the beginning.  He sees the big picture, where we can only see just a small part of the plan He has for us.  Many times, we don’t understand what He is doing in our lives.  Continue to seek His counsel, continue to wait on His timing, and wait patiently.

Seek Counsel

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (KJV) The English Standard Version (ESV) says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” The Amplified Bible (AMP) says, “Without consultation and wise advice, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they are established and succeed.” When we are in the midst of carrying out plans we have made, making decisions, or even setting goals, having a sounding board, a counselor if you will, is always a good idea. Solomon says that without counsel our plans can fail.

Take for instance, building a house. When I lived in Montana, my husband and I built a house. We contacted a contractor (our counselor), we sat down and told him what we wanted, and my husband drew a rough draft of what the house should look like. Our contractor then took our ideas and drew out a blueprint from which he would be working. Without asking a lot of questions and seeking his advice on how best we should put this house together, how much it would cost, and other factors, we would never have had a successful project. We saw an example of that right in the subdivision where we built the house. A man who lived a few blocks from my parents’ house (they lived a block and a half away from us) started to build his house. He got as far as the foundation and he ran into problems. We aren’t sure exactly what the problem was, but it was evident he didn’t sit down and take into consideration all aspects of building his house. The project ended up being abandoned and he had to sell the property with a partial foundation on the lot. It was obvious that he didn’t rely on counselors to help him finish his house.

Just like building a house, we need counselors for every aspect of our lives. This is the time of year when people are making resolutions, making plans for the year, endeavoring to improve their outlook on life, their circumstances, etc. Sometimes, getting sound advice is needed. The first person to seek counsel from is God! He knows the plans He has for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) Ask Him if this is the direction He wants you to take. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of the (arrogant) fool (who rejects God’s wisdom) is right in his own eyes, But a wise and prudent man is he who listens to counsel.” (AMP) Once you hear from Him then seek out a person who may be able to help you accomplish the task God is leading you into.

In seeking advice, whether it be a mentor for something you want to improve on, or in deciding to launch out into new territory, it is best to find someone who is knowledgeable with the area you are researching. Find someone you trust. Discernment is always needed. Some people may not find it a high priority to keep things confidential, some may not want you to succeed and therefore give you wrong information. Especially in Spiritual matters, the guidance of your Pastor or a Spiritual mentor is a good beginning. In areas such as a business venture, a project you may want to begin, or self-improvement, finding someone who has experience in that area, can guide you, and warn you of pitfalls along the way, and wants you to succeed, is a good idea

A counselor can also help be an accountability partner. They can help keep you on track. They can warn you when it looks as if you are taking a wrong turn. I hold great store by accountability partners. They have your best interest in mind, and they want you to succeed in what you are trying to do. When I was trying to lose weight a few years ago, I was in a program that incorporated accountability partners. It was, in part, because of my accountability partner that I was able to succeed in losing the weight I needed to lose.

As we launch out into this new year, seeking counsel should be part of our resolution to be better or begin a new thing. Make your first Counselor, the Lord!

God Has a Plan

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Isaiah 14:24-27. As I searched for a way to create artwork for this passage, I came upon an image in Pinterest that seemed to resonate with me, so I traced it into my Bible. The image is of the cross with a heart on it. God’s love poured out on the cross.

Because this Scripture is a long passage, I won’t include it here, but I encourage you to read the passage for yourself. I read the entire 14th chapter to get background on this section. The chapter is about Israel’s release from Babylon, and they are taunting Babylon, telling them what God will do to them. In the last part of the chapter God says he will lay Assyria and Philistia to ruin for their persecution of His people. What I want to focus on is, throughout this passage God says, “I have planned”, and the 27th verse popped out at me,” For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it?”

I think what jumped out at me in this passage was not only does God have a plan, but His plan can not be stopped or changed unless He deems it. His timing is not our timing, nor His thoughts or plans like ours. (Isaiah 55:8) Oftentimes that means we are waiting on His timing for His plan in our lives to work itself out. The song, “While I’m Waiting” by Josh Waller is playing, and it’s the perfect song for this idea of God’s plan not being ours. God sees the end from the beginning and knows what He will do in our lives. His plan is far better than our plan will ever be.

As I look at the image of the cross with the heart, I’m thinking that God’s greatest plan was to send His Son to die on the cross for our sins and take our place as the punishment for our sin. God had that plan from the foundation of creation. Adam and Eve’s sin did not come as any surprise to Him and He already had a plan in place!

As for me, I can relate with the “hurry up and wait” idea. I seem to spend a lot of my life in that mode. Patience has never been a strong suit of mine, so waiting on God to do something in a specific situation sometimes gets very frustrating for me. But then, I must remember that He knows what He’s doing in my life far better than I do. I’m so glad He has a plan for my life, for without His plans, my life would be a mess! I can not even think of what my life would be like without Him. He has taken me on an adventure that is unequal to any other. I have been places I never would have imagined being. I’ve done things that, as a kid, I never would have dreamed doing! Waiting on His plan in my life is the best thing for me to do.

Even the hard times have not been as bad as they could have been, because He has walked right beside me through each situation. I didn’t have to go through those times alone. His presence was always with me, and it is still today. The joys of life seem that much better and the sorrows of life aren’t as dark as they could be. Even those times when I felt I was at the bottom of a very dark hole, God was with me, so I wasn’t alone, and He let me crawl up into His lap and cry and pour my heart out to Him as He wrapped His arms around me. Even the hard times are part of His plan, and He allows them to show me how much I desperately need Him and rely on Him. In the mountain top experiences, He rejoiced with me, and life was one big party! Those times were just that much sweeter with Him at my side. Each step of my life is planned out by God, and it is for my good and for His Glory! He receives all the praise and honor for what He is accomplishing in my life. Praise God for His plan!

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.