Our Identity – Debt Free

Today we are looking at Colossians 2:13 – 14, “And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.” (CSB) As we continue to look at our identity in Christ, I find it amazing that we are debt-free because of Jesus! Jesus paid the penalty for our sins! He looked at us with love and told the Father, “I’ll pay for it!”

Being debt-free is an amazing feeling. A few years ago, I experienced that when we were able to pay off the mortgage on our house because of an inheritance I received when my mother passed away! Having no house payments is awesome! I also have a car that is fully paid for…how cool is that? It’s nice not to have bills looming over our heads. It gives me a feeling of freedom!

Those of us who have asked Jesus to be our Lord and Master and accepted Him as our Savior, have that same feeling! We are debt-free! We owed a debt of sin that we could never pay, but Jesus stepped up and took our place and paid that debt. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (KJV) Every person who has ever been born, or ever will be born, has been born into sin. 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) That means we are debt-free! We no longer have the penalty of death hanging over our heads.

Our sin separated us from God. But God loved us so much that He made a way to make a bridge between us and Him. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) Sometimes it is hard for me to understand that kind of love. Jesus gave up everything to come to earth and live a sinless life so that He could be the sacrifice for our sins. God poured out His grace upon us so that He could have a relationship with us. He loves us that much!

Jesus invites us to ask Him to take up residence in our hearts. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (KJV) He wants a relationship with us, and as we discovered in our last post, He wants to be our friend.

There is a song that we haven’t sung in our church for a long time that expresses how much we owe Him. The lyrics say, “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to take my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song, Amazing Grace! Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay!” Our identity is in Jesus paying the price for us, and we are debt-free!

Adjusting to God’s Plan for Your Vision

I’ve been gone for three weeks on vacation, which is why you haven’t seen anything of me lately. My sister and her husband renewed their wedding vows in Las Vegas, and since I couldn’t be at her wedding 13 years ago, I wanted to be there. So, we traveled to Las Vegas to witness the ceremony. On the way back we traveled through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri, stopping to see the sights. One thing we needed on our trip was direction…Google Maps was a great help! God gives us direction also as we work to see our vision realized. We are finishing our series on Vision today, and one thing we need to remember is that sometimes, God’s idea of how we accomplish our vision may be different than ours.

Today’s Bible Journaling verse is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (KJV) When things don’t seem to be going the way we have planned; we need to adjust our way of doing things to God’s plan. What we may want to do maybe alright, but God may have something better in store.

Kind of like my Google Maps, we need to “recalculate”. On our vacation, sometimes, we would get off track, and my Google Maps, which my husband and I named Melissa because it has a woman’s voice, would say, “recalculating” and she’d get us back on track. Sometimes that’s what we need to do when we start off going one way, and God says, “Wait a minute, let’s try this.”

Accomplishing our vision successfully must be in line with what God has planned out for us. There may be several avenues to take, but one is better than the others. That’s the way it is with God guiding us. We may have good ideas, but God may have a better one.

We need God’s wisdom in helping us adjust to the plan He has laid out for us. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given you.” (NIV) Then we need to trust Him. Trust that He knows what He is doing and that He would never guide us into something that would bring us harm. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Sometimes, our timing may not be in sync with God’s. Isaiah 55:8-11 tells us that God’s ways are not like ours. “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.’ God’s Decree. ‘For as the sky soars high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.’” (The Message)

When we adjust our plan to God’s plan, we may find that He is directing us to learn something new, or He is orchestrating things to fall right in place for us to accomplish the goal of seeing our vision realized. Adjusting our plans sometimes can be difficult, but when we line up with God’s plan, we find that the fruits of our endeavors seem to run smoother. That isn’t to say that there may not be snags in the way, but when we learn to trust God and the direction He leads us, we will find we have peace with making changes to our way of thinking and doing what God has called us to do. Today, let God direct your path, you will find the way isn’t as rocky.

Visions Come from God

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Joel 2:28-29, “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind, And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (NASB) As we look at having a vision, we learn from our Scripture today that visions come from God.

What we may think is our idea really comes from God. He plants that desire, whatever it is, in our hearts. It is part of His plan for us. It is from Him that we receive the desire for our vision to come to fruition. It is His desire to see us succeed in those plans that He has placed in our hearts.

How do we know that our vision comes from God? First, we must pray and ask Him, “Is this part of your plan for me?” If the answer is yes, then we need to ask for His help in making that vision come to pass. Secondly, as we stated yesterday, we should set “God” goals so that we can see the progress we are making in achieving that vision.

If we pray and ask if this dream or vision is from God and He says, “No,” then we need to seek His will for us. Search the Scriptures. If our vision does not line up with the Bible, then the vision is of our own making, not from the Holy Spirit.

When our vision comes from God, He works through His Holy Spirit to help us in accomplishing what He has placed in our hearts. He says He will “pour out My Spirit” upon us, and it is through His guidance that we can walk in the pathway He has set before us. Amos 3:7 says, “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.” (ESV) He will reveal to us the vision He has placed in us.

It is up to us to be listening to His still small voice. He reveals His plan, will, and purpose for us through many avenues – through Scripture, by way of revelation from another person, in prayer, and in many other ways. As a sidebar, I need to also state that when we receive a revelation from someone, it is always good to look for confirmation of that revelation, either through prayer, Scripture or by way of a second person declaring the same thing to us.

As we take that step toward fulfilling the vision He has placed in us, we are walking in alignment with the plans and purposes He has for us. When we set “God” goals, we ensure that we are walking in the direction He has placed for us and we can become successful in accomplishing the vision He has given us.

Now that we know that visions come from God, if we haven’t received a vision or desire from God, it is up to us to ask Him to reveal to us the vision He has for us, and then start on the journey to accomplish that vision. Go for it with wholeheartedness!

Set God Goals for Your Vision

Accomplishing our vision begins with setting goals. No matter whether our vision is tied into ministry, is Spiritually based or not, those goals must be in alignment with God’s desire for our lives. Our verse today tells us that even though we may have plans for our lives, God also has a plan and He has goals in how those plans will come together. Today’s verse, Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” (KJV) The New American Standard Bible says it this way, “Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.”

If you are anything like me, I’m not a good goal-setter. I am great at getting things started, but not always a good finisher and that is partly because I haven’t set goals before I begin a project. I kind of go head-first into a project with no real thought of where I want to be in the process at a set time, or how I want the project to look or a myriad of other things. That doesn’t always lead to a successful outcome.

As we talk about vision, I think of the vision I have for my blog. My vision is to reach people for Christ. As I look at setting goals, I need to place a goal for my vision. For me, the goal is that someone, even just one person, will come to know Jesus as their Savior through my blog. I then need to think about how I would go about accomplishing that goal. The first thing that pops into my head is, I first need to go to God, pray and ask Him to help me make my posts clear and understandable, posting encouragement that lines up with the Bible, and always look to Him for guidance in writing and doing my Bible Journaling.

My writing must be Scripturally correct, the ideas I put forth must line up with God’s will and desire for each one of us. Therefore, I must keep in close relationship with Him, praying and asking for His help and asking that He move someone’s heart to let me know that through my writing, they have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. In my mind, if just one person gets saved, then I will have accomplished the vision I have set before me.

I need also to put feet to accomplishing the goal. I need to be sure that I am more consistent in posting and Bible Journaling. I cannot let the enemy distract me from achieving my objective. That may entail setting a specific time of every day to do my Journaling and blog. I also must pray and ask God to help me not to yield to the temptation of falling for Satan’s traps.

Setting goals need to be achievable. Sometimes we set goals so high that it is virtually impossible to attain the lofty goals we have set for ourselves and then we become disillusioned. We set ourselves up for failure. Again, we need to pray and ask God to help us set realistic goals.

The goals should also line up with what God desires for us. He has a set pathway all planned out for us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV)
He wants us to have a vision and He wants us to succeed in accomplishing that vision utilizing “God” goals; goals that will align with God’s desires for us. As we fix our eyes on going forward toward the vision we have set for ourselves, let this post be a reminder to set “God” goals that will lead to success. Then pray for God’s help, and He will help us.

A New Thing

It’s 2020! A new year is upon us and we have a whole new slate to start with, in living before the Lord for this year. Today’s Bible Journaling verse is Isaiah 43:19, “For I am about to do something new. I have already begun. See, do you not see it? I will make a new pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (NLT) We will be looking at vision this month, but I received a prompting from God to start here.

As this year begins, we do need to have a vision of where we need to be, where we want to go, and where God is leading us. But more than that, we need to be open to God doing new things in our lives. Maybe this is the year God says, “It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.”

As Believers, from time to time, it’s good to take stock of where we have been and look at where we are going. Before coming to Jesus, we were wrapped up in doing the old things we had done before. Then Jesus came into our hearts and lives and He started a new thing. Life became so much better. Does that mean there have not been hard times? No, but we found that we didn’t go through those things alone…God was with us! That was a new thing!

God tells us in Isaiah 42:9, “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (KJV) God does new things in our lives, and He does these things out in the open, not in secret. He tells us what is to come. Sometimes, we feel like He is silent and the road we are on is confusing, but He loves us enough to plan only good things for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)

One of those “new things” that God does, is that He makes new creatures out of us. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (KJV) When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He gives us a new heart. The old man is gone, and the new man has come, and we are born-again! From that point on we are on a new pathway. That’s a new thing!

God tells us in Revelation 21:5, “Behold I make all things new.” (KJV) God wants to do new things in us. It is up to us to accept the new things He is showing us and leading us into. If you are like most people, getting pushed out of your comfort zone, is uncomfortable and downright scary! This is where learning to trust that God has our best in mind for us comes into play. He wants us to grow in a manner that will give glory and honor to Him and will bring us joy, peace, contentment, and a greater love for Him and those around us.

Be open to new things! Seek God’s face in prayer, asking Him to direct your steps. If you are feeling a prompting to do something that scares you silly, trust Him enough to know that He isn’t putting you out there alone, He will go with you. Trust that He will never ask you to do something that you can not do, but always will be something to help you grow to the next level of relationship with Him. You may find that it has been something you have always wanted to accomplish but were too afraid to take the first step.

When we step out in faith, we can accomplish so much more, and who knows, we may find that when we step out into a whole new area of experience with God, it will not be as daunting as we first thought and actually will blossom in that new pathway. God is saying, “I am doing a new thing.” Trust Him and take that first step!

Jesus – The Source of Our Joy

Today’s Bible Journaling verse isn’t thought of as a “Christmas verse”, but it shows something that I think many may not realize. Our verse today is Acts 13:52, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (NASB) When I read this verse, I immediately thought of a verse we hear at Christmastime when we see a Christmas play or read the Christmas story, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” (Matthew 2:10 (KJV) The Wisemen were rejoicing because they knew they had found Jesus!

In today’s verse, the disciples have been in Antioch preaching. The Apostle Paul is preaching to a crowd and the Jews saw the crowds that were gathering to hear what he had to say. The Jews were very upset, and the Bible says they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict everything Paul and Barnabas said. (Acts 13:45) Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly (Verse 46) and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation of the end of the earth.’ When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:46-48 NASB) The chapter goes on to say that the Word of the Lord was spread out throughout the whole region. What I love about our verse today is that it says the disciples were continually filled with joy! That’s what happens when Jesus is in our hearts and lives!

He is the source of our joy. Just as the Wisemen rejoiced at finding Jesus, and the disciples were joyful at believing and accepting Jesus into their hearts, we also can be filled with that same joy. Jesus is the source of our joy. Why? Because it is through Him that we receive eternal life. He fills our hearts with joy, despite difficulties in our lives. Even though we are burdened down, we can still have joy in our hearts. We may not be happy when the world seemingly comes against us, but we can have a deep, abiding joy!

Paul and Barnabas were rejected by the Jews, in fact later in the chapter it tells of how the Jews “incited women of prominence and the leading men of the city” to persecute them and drive them out of the city. (Verse 50) The Bible says Paul and Barnabas shook the dust of the city “in protest against them” and went on to another city. (Verse 51) Even then, the disciples were “continually filled with joy.” Though they were persecuted, they were filled with joy. Only God can do that!

When the angels announced Jesus’ birth, they declared, “Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people, for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NASB) Even the angels proclaimed that there was joy in Jesus, in His birth, in His life, in His death, and in His salvation for the world!

We can have that joy, right now! The Bible tells us that Jesus came for a purpose. He was born to die! God’s plan was formed at the foundation of the world; Jesus would come into the world, live, teach and preach about God’s love, become the sacrifice for our sins by dying on a cruel cross, be buried, then three days later rise again and conquer sin, death, Hell, and the grave. He then ascended to Heaven to live with His Father. He made a promise to us. He is coming back to take His children, those who have accepted Jesus into their hearts, back to Heaven to live and reign with Him. There is great joy in knowing that Jesus loves us that much! He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and for me, that brings great joy!

Embrace the Season You’re In

 

As we finish our series on seasons, our Scripture today is Psalm 30:5, “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning.” (CSB) As we go through the different seasons of our lives, we need to understand that, “This too shall pass.” Especially when we are going through desert times or times of great difficulty.

I am an impatient person. I’ll just start out with that. Waiting is not a strong suit for me. Right now, my husband and I are seeking God’s direction regarding making a move back to Montana. I lived there for 10 years and I loved it. I consider it home even though I wasn’t born there. Right now, we are in a period of waiting. Looking for God to tell us what we are to do, whether we move there or not, when to move if we are to move, and how we are to go about getting rid of the house we are in now. It seems as if He is being silent. Is it, “now is not the right time?” Is it “No, don’t move?” We don’t know what God has in store for us. Our house has been up for sale over a year and we’ve had a couple of people come to look at it, but nothing. Unfortunately, we live in a state no one wants to live in. That doesn’t help our situation any.

I must cling to the part of the verse that says that His favor lasts a lifetime. I know He has a good plan for me, and I know that if I stay in that plan, it will go well with me. I tend to jump out ahead of God and try to “help.” That usually goes sideways. I must remember what my husband always says, “Delay is not denial.” I also must remember that if I lag behind God’s leading, that also can end badly. I must be in step with God’s plan for my life. Therefore, I must embrace this season of waiting. Take each day, each moment, one step at a time, holding onto God’s hand.

What season are you going through? Is it something that is such a blessing that you want to never end? Is it a time of sorrow that you wish would pass quickly? Is it a time of waiting for direction?

David seemed to go through times when it seemed as if God was silent. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry.” (KJV) David’s obedience paid off. He called out to the Lord and God heard him and answered. Notice it doesn’t say immediately, but it does say, God heard and answered. Embrace the time of waiting and know God does hear and will answer when the time is right. Know that the times of blessing are put in place to help us gain encouragement. We may want to stay in that time of “everything is going right”, but we must realize that we don’t grow in the good times, but we grow in the desert and valley times. It is in those times that our faith is strengthened. We must embrace them and value them as much as we embrace the good times.

Seasons change. We are in the time of the year when we go from Summer to Fall. Everything around us is changing. The trees are losing their leaves, the temperatures for some of us are getting cooler, everything is moving to prepare for Winter. I’m not a Winter girl, I’m a Summer girl, and the time of year we are in now is not my favorite. It just reminds me that Winter is coming, and I’m not very excited about it. Yes, I’m wanting to move to Montana and that means Winter comes in a big way. However, most of the time Winter isn’t too bad there, and I don’t mind it so much. I learned to embrace it when I lived there. So, I must embrace this season of my life right now.

Can you embrace the season you are in and know God has your life in His hands? Do you know that His plans for you are for your good, to give you a future and a hope? (Jeremiah 29:11) Take hold of this season, embrace it, and hold onto God’s loving hand and allow Him to lead you into the next season.