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.

Who is in Control of Your Season?

As we continue our series on seasons, today’s verse is Daniel 2:21, “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” (NASB) Some seasons are easily traversed while others are very difficult. Some we wish would stay longer, others we can’t wait for them to be over and done.

As much as we want to control the seasons in our lives, we can’t. Only God has control over the seasons of our lives. In our Scripture today, Daniel has been summoned by King Nebuchadnezzar to interpret a dream he has had. Daniel’s first action is to go to God and ask for wisdom and the interpretation to be relayed to the king. When God has given him what he has asked for, Daniel offers a prayer of thanksgiving and acknowledgment that it is God who establishes the seasons, places and unseats kings, and gives wisdom to those who seek it.

There are so many times in our lives that we wish we could orchestrate things to go the way we wish. The times of struggle are seasons that we would like to avoid completely, but once through them, even though very difficult, we have found that God allowed us to go through that season for a purpose. Maybe it was to stretch us so that we can grow stronger in our faith. Maybe it was so that our experience may be a blessing and comfort to someone who is going through the same thing. God knows our pathways; He directs each step we take. As much as we try to control each season, what usually happens is that we become frustrated because the path isn’t going the way we want it to.

When my first husband was so sick, I wanted that season of my life to be over with so badly. I wanted my husband well, back to the way he was before his strokes and seizures. I wanted him walking, talking in complete sentences, working on his pet projects, and I wanted his wacky sense of humor back. Taking care of him was very difficult and as much as I didn’t mind that assignment, after seven years of struggle, I was becoming overwhelmed. I wanted my husband healed! I prayed and cried, and still, God’s plan was not for him to be healed here, but in Heaven. I was so frustrated because I had no control over the situation.

When we try to take control of the season we are in, sometimes it can backfire. When I was in my 40’s an opportunity presented itself where my husband and I could possibly adopt. At that stage of our lives, we had already been married for 25 years. We had tried to adopt when we were much younger, but circumstances were such that the adoption fell through due to the situation in the country we were trying to adopt from. Now at this time, we had another chance, I thought, to try again. My husband wasn’t completely on board with the idea. However, I desired a baby so badly that I ran full steam ahead going through with the process of home study and interviews with the adoption agency. I got myself so off-track, that I rebelliously told God that I didn’t care if it was in His will for me or not, I was going through with it. However, God shut the whole process down through the agenda of a social worker who was not on board with our assessment of discipline and rearing children. Once she heard the words Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family, it was an uphill battle. She shut us down and would not approve us for adoption. It was only then that I realized that as much as I tried to control the situation (the season, if you will) I couldn’t. God did not have it in His plan for us to be parents. That was the hardest lesson I ever learned.

Once we realize that it is God who controls the season, and not ourselves, we find that as we walk through the season we are in, allowing God to orchestrate situations to fit into His plan for us, we are much happier. We must relish the seasons that we treasure and enjoy, and hold onto God through the seasons that are hard. Even if a season is one of great delight, we must relinquish control over that season and realize that our life is in His hands. He knows where He is taking us, it is ours to follow along and trust Him.

Rejoice in the Season of Harvest

My Grandfather was a farmer. He had a 96-acre farm in Central Indiana, and I remember Grandpa working with the dairy cattle and hogs and farming the land. When Spring came, he worked the land to prepare it for planting, then once the land was prepared, he would plant corn, hay, and other crops. When the crops were ripe and ready to harvest, there would be workers who would come to help him bring in the harvest. My Grandmother would make a feast for all the workers. It was like a celebration, because there had been a good harvest, and my Grandparents would get a good price for their crops and money to keep the farm running.

As we think about the Season of Harvest, our Scripture for today talks about rejoicing at harvest time. Isaiah 9:3 says, “You have multiplied the nation You have increased their joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the plunder.” The CSB version says, “You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you, as they rejoice at harvest time, and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.” Just as in a physical harvest, there is rejoicing in the Spiritual realm when there is a harvest of souls. Like a farmer who does the hard work of preparing the soil, planting the seed, watering and tending the crop, and harvesting the result of all of that hard work, as we work to prepare others to know Jesus by planting and watering seeds of faith into their lives, harvest doesn’t come except through hard work. Harvest also doesn’t come quickly for the most part. Just as it takes time for the crops to grow and ripen before harvest, the seeds of faith must germinate and ripen before harvest can come.

We may never be able to see the fruit of our labors. God may have us at the planting or watering stages, and not at the harvest. This is not meant to be discouraging, but to bring encouragement in knowing that our hard work at witnessing, with God’s help, will result in a harvest of that soul in coming to know Jesus, and that when that one soul comes to Christ, there is a party going on in Heaven, (Luke 15:10) and we can rest in the knowledge that we had a part in that one soul coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

Especially when we are trying to reach a family member, the work can be very difficult. It may seem like they will never come to faith in Christ. But our job may only be to prepare the soil, (their heart) or plant the seed, (witness to them) or water that seed (giving the Word to them so that they gain understanding). We may not be called to be the harvester. However, if we are privileged to be part of the entire process of them coming to Jesus, know that it involves hard work, and the process is sometimes neither quick nor easy. It could be years before we see any evidence of a seed growing in them. As we patiently work toward helping them to salvation, we can rejoice with them when they make that important decision, and know we had a part in their decision.

When we look at television evangelists, it may seem that they came to notoriety over-night. But know that before they became famous, there was hard work involved in getting to where they are. Years of schooling, possibly many years pastoring a congregation and going through the struggles of shepherding a flock, before they became well-known.

Is there something that God has placed in your pathway, a ministry or a person to reach for Him? Are you in the middle of the process? Does it seem that you do nothing but plant but never see the results? Do not be discouraged. God has placed you just where He needs you, to be able to reach that person or a group of people to come to Him. As we talked about in our last post, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 WEB) Know that God has you where He can utilize your influence and talents and bring about a harvest, though you may never see the harvest. Rejoice in knowing that you had a part of the harvest.

In the Season of Planting – Never Give Up!

Ministry is hard! For all of those who have been in a ministry of one type of another, it is a given fact that doing ministry isn’t easy. Mostly it is long hours, little pay, and in a lot of cases, we don’t see the results of our efforts, ever. But today’s Scripture is an encouragement to each one of us because, even though you may not be part of a ministry, you do have a ministry just where you are.

As we continue in our study of seasons, today we are looking at the Season of Planting. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Another version puts it this way, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (WEB) In this section of the chapter, the Apostle Paul is talking about spiritual sowing and reaping. He says that we should not be deceived in what we do or how we live our lives, thinking we are doing great things for God when all we are doing is mocking God. Verse 8 says, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Then he tells the Galatians not to become weary in well-doing.

This hits me hard. I have to be so careful not to let pride get in the way of my ministry work. I must examine myself regularly to be sure that the reason I do ministry is for God’s glory and not my own. The second thing that I see is in our Scripture for today is, not becoming weary! This is so easy to do, especially when it seems like there is no result in the work that has been done.

Ministers and people who work in large ministries especially can find themselves in burn-out so quickly. When my first husband and I were running a Christian television station in Northern Wisconsin, we ran head-first into burnout. For all the hard work we were putting in, it seemed like we were reaching no one. We were basically the staff, because we were a brand-new station, and couldn’t afford a staff. We had seven volunteers, my husband was Chief Engineer, General Manager, On-Air personality, Master Control Operator, and Production Manager. I was the station’s Secretary, Traffic Manager, Volunteer Co-Ordinator, as well as running Master Control, Cameraperson, doing editing and sometimes On-Air personality. What usually takes a staff of almost 100, we and our volunteers did it all for three years. We would be airing programs and sit and wonder if anyone was watching, and if it was doing any good. When we began producing a local program involving the Pastors of different churches in the area, we began to see some movement. Our program had Pastors come in and do a 15-minute devotional that aired Monday through Friday. At Share-A-Thon time, we would have all our Pastors come in and help us raise funds. This was an area where the Pastors and churches didn’t really associate with one another. There was no co-operation between churches in doing ministry together. When we had the Pastors come in for Share-A-Thon, we mixed up the denominations so that Baptist would get to know Lutheran and Assembly of God, Methodist, and Missionary Alliance, etc. They found out that the other guys weren’t as bad as they once thought. As my husband put it, “They found out the other guy didn’t have two horns and a tail.” By the time we left, we found out that our efforts were rewarded. An Assembly of God Church and a Baptist Church got together and sponsored a Focus on the Family film series. It was as if God was telling us,” See, all the work was worth it and because of the station, a new atmosphere is growing between the churches.”

I shared this story to let you know, that even when you are ministering to someone, or praying for someone to come to know Jesus, don’t give up! You may be praying for a family member, and it has been YEARS! Don’t Give Up! All your work is not in vain. God says that His Word will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) That seed you are planting must take time to germinate and grow. There is a Season of Planting, a Season of Watering, and a Season of Harvest. It could be that you aren’t meant to see the Harvest time. There will be some things that we have worked so hard for, that we will never see the results this side of Heaven. Don’t be discouraged. Just know that God has it all in His hands, He is the God of the results. “Do not grow weary” Do not give up!

It’s Only a Season

As we continue our study on seasons, today we look at the seasons in our life. Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (NASB) The King James Version puts it this way, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Whatever we are going through, it’s just a season, it will not be forever.

This is comforting, especially when we are going through difficult times. Those times will not last forever, it’s only a season. Each season is given for a reason. Is there something God wants us to learn? Is what we are going through given as an example for someone else who may go through the same thing? Maybe God is preparing us for something greater. Whatever the case, it’s a season.

As I stated in my last post, I went through a season of grief when my first husband passed away. The grief was for a season. That was a difficult season. I am now in another season, one of happiness and learning. I have a friend who has lost her job, one she would never have resigned from on her own, but God is taking her on a journey. She is in a new season, one where she is at the beginning of creating a ministry to women. As scary as it is for her, there is a certain amount of excitement and anticipation as she makes a ministry plan and she is at peace with where God is taking her. I am excited to see what God has in store for her and to see what road He will take her down.

As we look at today’s Scripture, the first thing that I see is, “For His anger is but for a moment.” There will be times of discipline. When we look at Scripture, we can see how God would become angry with the children of Israel. Time and again they would test His patience, become disobedient, rebellious children and the Bible says God’s anger was kindled against Israel. But that anger was not forever. Discipline was needed to draw them back. When they finally came to their senses and repented, God’s anger would diminish, and He would lovingly draw them back into His arms, gathering them into His family. The next thing I see in our Scripture is, “His favor is for a lifetime.” I like how the King James Version puts it, “in His favor is life.” God’s favor is with His children forever and that favor brings life! That’s a season also! He loves us so much that He wants to grant His favor upon us. He wants to shower us with those things that will help us to grow in our relationship with Him, things and people who can help us become more like Him.

Then, our Scripture says, “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” We may be going through a desperate time of darkness, one where we can do nothing but let the tears flow. That season is so hard to go through. My husband calls those times, “Job’s Trials”. God loves us, even when we go through the darkness, and He never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5). If we can trust Him through the dark times, He promises us that it will end, and joy will come at the end of the trial. Often, this season seems so long, and it feels like it will never end, but the promise of joy coming at the end of the trial, is what keeps us holding on to Him. We must remind ourselves, “It’s Only a Season!”

As we experience the changing seasons in weather, we know that Fall will give way to Winter, Winter will melt into Spring, and Spring will change into Summer, and Summer returns to Fall. Each season is for a time, it will not be forever, the seasons are ever-changing from one to the other. So, when you go through something new, remind yourself, “It’s Only a Season!”