My Father Gives Good Gifts

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Matthew 7-11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (KJV) God is such an incredible Heavenly Father! He loves us so much! He loves to give us the desires of our hearts. Sometimes, though, what we pray for may not be what is in His plan or may not be good for us. Just as children ask their parents for the fad item of the time, they desire it with all their little hearts, but it may not be good for them or maybe it’s something Mom and Dad want to give them but not right now. God is like that also.

We pray for things that we desire…sometimes it is more of a want than a need, sometimes it is a need, but God wants to give it to us in a different way or at a different time. So how do we react when God says, “No” or “Not right now”? I know there have been times I have not reacted well when I didn’t get what I wanted. I had a plan of how things should go, but God’s plan was so different from mine, and later I found out His plan was way better than mine!

One instance was when I lived in Montana. At that point I had been married for a little over 20 years to my first husband. We were unable to have children and we had looked at adoption when we were younger, and due to a lot of factors, our adoption attempt failed. I was so devastated! I yearned to have my own baby and it was a feeling that lasted for many years after that. At the time a gentleman came to the TV station I worked at to do an interview on adoption of Chinese children. I was the receptionist and as he has waiting, he showed me pictures of little ones who were available, and I fell in love! I tried to convince my hubby that we should try again to adopt, but he wasn’t exactly on board with it. In fact, he really was against it because of how old we were and the busyness of our lives. But I dug in my heels and begged and pleaded for him to do this and finally he agreed, but under protest. We went through the home study, and the social worker we were working with was not of the same frame of mind of us, being that we were Born Again believers, and we disagreed on everything from child rearing to what we were going to name the child. Now, at this point you would think maybe I would start to get the idea that this was not in God’s plan for me, but I became more stubborn, even to the point of rebellion, telling God, “I want this baby regardless of what You want!” I was in total rebellion! Needless to say, we were rejected, and I was so angry! Angry at the social worker, angry with my husband, and angry with God! It took me several years before I finally came to the point of asking God to forgive my disobedience.

You see, God had a better plan! Life went on, my first husband passed away and then God brought me a man who had a ready-made family! Kraig has three children and six grandchildren! When I married him, I became a Stepmom and Grandma! My heart is so happy! God has given me the desires of my heart, I just had to get in line with His plan and His timing. He has given me such an awesome gift!

God desires for us to live lives of obedience, contentment, peace, and joy. Some of the things we want may very well be what He wants for us, but the timing is off, or we may not be at a point where we can have that thing. Maybe we are not mature enough for what we desire, or maybe emotionally it would be overwhelming, and we would not be able to handle what we desire. We must remember that God wants to give us good gifts, but in His way, in His timing, and in His plan. What are you asking God for? Is it something that would be in line with His plan for your life? Is now the proper time for what you desire? Seek Him in all of this. Ask Him if now is the time, ask Him if this is something that is good for you, ask Him if this is part of His plan for you, then listen to His answer and wait for His provision.

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A Father’s Love

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Matthew 3:16-17, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (KJV) In this month of celebrating fathers, we look at our Heavenly Father.

God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us more than we can ever imagine. As I was thinking about this and looking at our Scripture passage I began to do my art journaling and ended up doing something other than I wanted to do, and I think God wanted me to go in a different direction than what I had intended. What I had intended was a pretty, speckled background overlaid with pretty roses. However, it didn’t come out that way and looked a little more like a mess. Then I got to thinking. God meets us in the middle of our mess and loves us just like we are. That spoke volumes to me!

In our Scripture today we see Jesus, God’s Son, beginning His ministry by setting an example for us, and God, the Father, and God, the Holy Spirit, are both giving their approval. We see here, in picture form, the Trinity. Even though the Bible never uses the actual word, “Trinity”, the concept is shown in so many instances throughout Scripture. Jesus, God the Son, is being obedient to God, the Father; and God, the Holy Spirit, is sealing the Father’s approval upon Jesus. This is God’s love shown, not only for Jesus, but also His love is shown for us.

The Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins. He shows us His love by providing a means for us to escape the penalty of death that is required as atonement for our sins. Jesus shows us His obedience to His Father as an example. Water Baptism is an outward showing of what has happened to us on the inside when we ask Jesus to be our Savior and to live in us. When we are plunged under the water, it signifies the washing of our sins by Jesus’ blood, we are, in essence, under the blood. When we come up from under the water we are washed, cleansed from all our sin, completely clean, just as Jesus’ blood has cleansed us from all our sin.

God loves us even when we don’t love Him. (I John 4:19) He doesn’t require that we get ourselves all cleaned up before we approach Him. He meets us in the middle of our mess – dirty, confused, unlovable, rejected, sinful, and feeling worthless. There is nothing we can do to keep God from loving us. No act, no thought, no attitude, can keep God from showering us with His love.

God is my Heavenly Father, my Best Friend, my Anchor in the storm, the Rock upon whom I can stand for a firm foundation in my faith. He is the One who will love me unconditionally. I don’t deserve it, but He loves me. There is nothing I can do to earn His love, yet He loves me anyway.

My responsibility is to show Him how much I love Him by living in a manner that gives Him glory and honor. I am to live in obedience to His will and follow His law of love, and He showers me with His love!

What an amazing, awesome God we serve! He loves us no matter what!

Confidence is Mediated by the Holy Spirit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Ephesians 1:13-14, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.” (CSB) The Holy Spirit’s purpose is not only to draw us to Jesus, but to help us in our daily walk with the Lord. One way He helps us is in assisting us to have confidence in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our confidence is then mediated by the Holy Spirit. Mediation, in this instance, is defined as “intervention in a process of relationship; intercession. The Holy Spirit helps us have confidence in Jesus, He encourages us to step forward when God is leading us into territory that is unfamiliar. As an example, when I felt God calling me to begin to minister through a blog, I was very hesitant. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, didn’t even know how to begin. The Holy Spirit, through the counsel of my Pastor and others who journal and blog, encouraged me to begin. It was a slow beginning, and in some ways, it still is. But, without the prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out of my comfort zone, I would never have begun my ministry through Bible Journaling and this blog. I don’t claim to be an organized ministry to the point of being incorporated or needing licensing or any of the things full-time ministries do, but to the few that read my journaling, I am endeavoring to minister hope, healing, salvation, and encouragement. I have no grand ideas that my blog will develop into some huge ministry with thousands of followers. I am content to share with those who find my blog or read my entries on Facebook. God never said it would be earth shattering, but it is what He has called me to do, and I pray that it influences the tiny corner of the world I reach.

There may be something that God is calling you to do, but you have been hesitant to step out in faith. It’s scary beginning something new. However, if you truly feel God is leading you to begin something you are not accustomed to doing, rely upon the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the confidence that God will guide you in the way you are to proceed. Is God calling you to minister in your church? It may not be something as prominent as singing or playing on the worship team or teaching a Sunday School class, but there are other positions that are needed in the church, that a lot of times, must be done by the pastor because no one else will step up. His or her calling is to be the shepherd of the congregation, not the janitor. Maybe there is a need for nursery duty or hospitality. Our church has a dear lady who quietly ministers by sending cards to those in our church who need encouragement. She sends our pastor something almost every week to help him and lift him up. He needs that little push to be able to minister to us. That is her ministry! Something like that, even though it seems so trivial, can be just the thing to help someone who is struggling.

The Holy Spirit seals us so that we have the assurance that we belong to God, and because of this, we have confidence that whatever God has for us in our walk with Him, we know that it is for our good, and will help us to grow daily as we seek to live our lives in glory and honor to Him.

Our Confidence is in Jesus – A Better Covenant

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Hebrews 7:22, “so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” (NASB) As we investigate from where our confidence comes, we see in this passage that our confidence can be placed in Jesus because He guarantees our salvation. The writer of Hebrews points out in this chapter that the Law of the Old Testament “made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19 NASB) and therefore couldn’t be a guarantee of entrance into Heaven, it couldn’t save us from our sins, rather it pointed out our sins.

Verses 18-19 say, “For, on the one hand there is a setting aside of a former covenant because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (NASB) Only through Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins, and our acceptance of His sacrifice, can we be guaranteed a home in Heaven.

As we place our confidence in Him daily, He walks with us, He guides us, and when we fall, He picks us up and sets us back on the right track. We are not worn down by the weight of sin that we bore, because He took our load of sin upon Himself. We can now walk free of that burden. He promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5), He promises to be our help in time of trouble. (Hebrews 4:16) He is our High Priest, (Hebrews 3:1) the one we confess our sins to, and who is able to save us from our sins and He is continually making intercession for us to the Father. (Hebrews 7:25) He has promised that not only will He save us from our sins, but He will remember them no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

Chapter 8 tells us that under the New Covenant a New Law will be placed into the hearts and minds of His children. (Hebrews 8:10) This Law is a Law of Love. We obey because of our love for Jesus, not because we must follow a Law that is impossible to keep and that shows us our shortcomings. The Old Testament Law had a purpose…to show us how far from God’s perfection we are. The New Covenant shows us that because of God’s love for us and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we can be obedient to His Law because of our love for Him and the salvation He paid in our stead.

Because of His faithfulness to us we can have confidence in whatever He promises. We know that He will never leave us, never go back on His promise to help us, never turn His back on us. He will always walk with us. We can trust Him to bring us through whatever we are facing. We can trust that He has our best in mind. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The New Covenant has made the Old Covenant obsolete; it no longer is useful. (Hebrews 8:13) The New Covenant, salvation through Jesus Christ, is a better covenant, and that is from where our confidence comes.

This Blood

I am deviating from our study on grace for a moment, but in reality, God’s grace is plainly shown in our journaling for today. We just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. During our Easter service at my church our worship team did a song called, “This Blood.” I woke this morning with that song running in my mind. Take a listen:

As I thought about the words and heard the song in my head, I began to get an image in my mind, one of my sin being covered by Jesus’ blood, no longer to be remembered or to be charged against me. The image was so powerful to me that I knew I had to journal it in my Bible. So, I searched for a Scripture that would express what I was feeling. I came upon John 19:30, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’; and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (KJV) The thing that hits me is that when Jesus died on the cross, He did it willingly because of His great love and grace toward me. As I am sitting here listening to the song, I can’t help but be completely in awe of what Jesus has done for me. He has forgiven me of every sin I have ever committed or ever will commit. He has welcomed me into His family. He has become my Best Friend, He is my Healer, He loves me unconditionally, and He beckons me to have a relationship with Him.

The Scripture reference highlights for me that nothing more is needed to be done. Jesus finished the work assigned to Him to bring about my salvation. Nothing more is needed, not from Him, and most certainly not from me, because there is nothing I can do to purchase my salvation, only Jesus was the perfect sacrifice! The old hymn, “Nothing but the Blood”, says it all…” What can wash away my sin…nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again…nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

Not only did He die for my sins, He rose from the grave three days later and conquered sin, death, and the grave! That gives me hope (confidence). A hope that one day I will also rise again and be joined with Him in the sky to go Home to Heaven! I have nothing to fear because He will walk with me through death.

What can be more precious than that? To walk through a time that can be fearful, with your Best Friend who will bring comfort and strength just as He has done your entire life. Peace beyond anything we can even imagine overflows our hearts and souls at the thought of being with Jesus.

This morning, my heart overflows with love for my Lord and Savior! I am so grateful for His salvation, His love, His friendship, and His leadership. “This Blood” is so precious to me!

Because of Love

 

Today I’m focusing on the Easter season with this being Passion Week. Friday is Good Friday, where we remember the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. His sacrifice was accomplished because of His love for us, and because of His great grace that has been bestowed upon us in that, He took the punishment for our sins. He was the only perfect sacrifice to fulfil the requirement of death as payment.

As we look at the entire 19th chapter of John, we are taken through Jesus trial, scourging, death, burial, and resurrection. I can’t help but think that the Easter account is not just about Jesus dying for us, but it also is about how He conquered sin, death, and the grave. Jesus loved us so much that He willingly endured the pain of being crucified, the most painful death one can imagine, to take our place so that we would not have to pay the requirement of death for our sins.

John 3:16 is probably the most recognized Scripture in the Bible. Most people can recite it without difficulty. I wonder though how many realize just what that verse means, and do they believe it? “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) God’s love for us is so vast, it is hard for mere humans to comprehend. He willingly gave His Son up to die for us. I don’t know many people who would willingly give their lives for another, especially someone they don’t even know. But God loves us all, He created us, and He wants us to have a relationship with Him. Through Jesus death on the cross, that relationship can be achieved.

How? By accepting Jesus as personal Savior. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (CSB) Every person born is born into sin because of Adam, and the relationship with God has been severed. There is a punishment for that sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (CSB) God provided a means of escape, a plan, to save us from the penalty of sin. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (KJV)

I Corinthians 15:3-6 says, “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.” (KJV) Jesus not only died for our sins and was buried, He was resurrected again to life, conquering death and the grave. We have nothing to fear because of this. Death and the grave has no power over those who trust in Jesus as Savior.

The Bible says that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Jesus, Himself, said, “I am the way, the truth, and he life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (KJV) John 1:12 explains that, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (KJV) When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we become children of God, He takes us into His family.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (KJV) We have no claim to our salvation, because we cannot in ourselves be saved. Nothing we can do can ever pay for our sins. Only Jesus can save us. All we need do is ask Jesus to save us. 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)

The process of salvation is simple, even a child can ask Jesus to come into their heart and save them. All we must do is ask forgiveness of our sins, invite Him into our hearts, and promise to follow Him, make Him Lord of our lives, and endeavor to live a holy life. We can rejoice because we have eternal life because of Jesus! He is Risen!

Hold Fast

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised.) (KJV) The Amplified Bible says, “Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word].” I like the way the Amplified goes deeper into the passage, stressing how faithful God is in His promises! He is reliable, trustworthy and faithful to His Word! He keeps His promises. I also like the idea of seizing and holding tightly to “the confession of our hope without wavering.”

In my mind, holding fast is like having a death grip on our confession of the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Being totally committed to what He has promised us. Our hope in Jesus gives us peace, joy, confidence in His Word, and a solid foundation upon which we can place our trust.

My husband and I are waiting on God for the sale of our house. It’s been up for a little over a year. Our house will be sold when God brings us the right person who will love our house, but the waiting has been difficult. We want to move closer to family, and it just seems like we will be here forever. I must place my hope in the fact that God has the right family or person in mind to come and purchase our house. We’ve had one person come through to look at it, and we are waiting to hear if they are going to make an offer. This is the closest we’ve come to having a possible buyer since it’s been up for sale. We are praying that God sells this house soon. My confidence, my hope, must be in the fact that God keeps His promises, for He says that He knows the plans He has for me and they are for my good, to give me a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) and He tells me in His Word that He will keep His promise to me. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” (NASB)

When things are disheartening or discouraging, we must still “hold fast” to the hope that we have in Jesus, the hope that He knows the end from the beginning in our lives, the hope that whatever comes our way is in His plan, and it is for our good. I don’t know when our house will get sold, but I trust Him to bring the right person to buy it.

Is there something in your life you are trusting God for? Then hold fast to His promise! His love for you is evident in the fact that He will keep His promises and He has the best for you in mind. He is faithful! Whatever you are waiting for, He knows, and He has a good plan for your life. Just like my husband and I are waiting for our house to sell, everything goes according to His timing…not ours. While we wait, we must choose hope, choose that confidence in His plan for our lives, and not waver in that hope.