Vision Requires Alignment with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Christmas Hope

As we continue to look at Christmas, today we look at the hope that Christmas brings to us. Isaiah 9:6 is a familiar passage for us. It has been spoken in countless church Christmas programs by shining little faces acting out the Christmas story. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV) Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah some 700 years before it was fulfilled. The Jewish people had hope that God was going to step into their lives and rescue them.

Jews today are still looking for the Messiah. What they don’t realize is, He already has come. Two thousand years ago He came in a way they weren’t expecting, and so they missed it. They are still in hope of seeing the Messiah come, they look for His coming. As Born-Again Believers, we have seen that Hope realized in our lives. Jesus came to earth as a baby born in a stable to common people. He didn’t come as a King. The Jews were looking for a grand entrance with lots of fanfare. Jesus came quietly, in a small town, with no fanfare except for a chorus of angels telling of His birth to lowly shepherds on a country hill looking after their sheep.

He lived a simple life, preached to those who would hear about what His purpose for being there was, showing them how to live, who God was, who HE was, and then fulfilled His purpose by becoming a sacrificial lamb for the sins of the whole world. He came to be the Savior of the world and provide the hope of eternal salvation for everyone. That hope is still available today.

Jesus invites each one of us to tap into that hope by accepting His free gift of salvation. He loves us so much that He wants us to become part of His family. He wants to provide for us, not just physical or financial things, but He wants to provide eternal life, He wants to provide to us eternal blessings.

That is the greatest hope we can ever have! The hope of eternal salvation! The hope of having a Friend who is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), the hope of walking with Him daily, the hope of a love greater than we could ever imagine, the hope that our lives will be full of joy, peace, and grace. These things can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Life in this world is hard, that’s a fact. However, Jesus can help us in those times when it seems life is smacking us down. He can give us hope that He knows what’s going on, hope that this will not last forever and that He has a plan for our lives, and it’s a good plan (Jeremiah 29:11). When we feel as if we can’t take one more step, He will carry us.

He will provide blessings that will overwhelm us. In those times, He will rejoice with us. The joy of His presence, of experiencing His blessings, of finding the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) is one of the greatest gifts He gives us. Jesus is God’s gift to us! How we love Him for providing such an amazing gift! That is the Christmas Hope we have.

If you haven’t asked Jesus to be your Savior, ask Him to come into your heart and life, confess your sins, and make a conscious decision to live for Him. You will find it is the best decision you will ever make. You will then have that Hope!

Resting in Christ

As we have been looking at living life and resting, I want to step away from the physical aspect of rest and look at resting from a Spiritual perspective. Today’s Scripture is Hebrews 4:9, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (KJV) As we read the verses around our Scripture, the writer of Hebrews is talking about resting in Christ and that we as Believers can find our rest in Jesus. During the time of the Israelites’ Exodus to the Promised Land, they were people who couldn’t find rest because they were relying on Moses, Joshua, and the Law to bring that rest to them. However, none of these could give them the rest they desired. They struggled continuously, even after they entered the Promised Land, they were not able to find that peace and rest they so longed for. They were unable to conquer the entire land and enjoy all the blessings that God had in store for them because they were relying on things other than God to bring that rest.

The writer of Hebrews writes this chapter with the theme that Jesus is greater than Joshua because Christ finished the work for us on the cross to bring us that rest that we so desperately need. Joshua nor the Law could bring the rest of knowing our sins were wiped away, and therefore the work was unfinished, and no rest could be found. The people were enslaved still in their hearts because they had no assurance that their sins were completely paid for. They had to offer sacrifices for their sins. Jesus paid the penalty of death that must be paid for sin.

Because Jesus paid our penalty, we can rest in Him, not just for the payment of our sins, but also in being able to trust Him for every situation we face. Not only can we rest in the knowledge that our sins have been forgiven and the debt has been paid, but we can also rest in the fact that Jesus can be trusted to guide us through this life. When we are being blessed, we can trust Him and rest in His blessings. When life is throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink, and maybe even the kitchen sink, we can rest in knowing He’s got this. Nothing we face comes to Him by any surprise, and He will hold us through the struggle. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

We know that He is faithful to keep His promises, He is faithful to help us (Hebrews 13:6) and we can rest in Him! Sometimes I struggle with resting in Jesus, especially when I am faced with a situation that looks impossible and there is nothing I can do about it. My default is to panic or worry myself into a frenzy. I forget that God has this, and this is not coming to Him by any surprise. He’s big enough to take care of it and doesn’t need my help. That’s when I need to step back, take a deep breath, and put it in His hands, and not take it back, which I also tend to do. Resting in Jesus means remembering all the times that He has come through for me, then believe and trust that He will do it again!

As Believers, we can rest in Jesus’ arms. When we allow Him to work in our lives to fulfill His plan for us, we will find that rest. Peace will flood our souls and we know that He has us in the palm of His hand, and He will never let us go. So, today find your rest in Jesus. Allow Him to work in your life and He will give you rest!

Freedom from Fear

Fear. It’s something each of us deals with. Some people are enslaved by fear to the point that they won’t step out and tackle something new. Some are afraid of something that may happen to them. Some are so fearful that it paralyzes them emotionally and sometimes physically. Our Bible Journaling comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV) Notice the verse says that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Fear comes from the enemy!

Satan’s whole purpose is to “kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10) He wants to derail us in our walk with the Lord. He wants us so paralyzed in fear that we become ineffective witnesses for Christ, and our lives are in bondage to the fear that holds us. On Sunday, my Pastor spoke about how Satan speaks to us, telling us we are less than what God says we are, degrading us, telling us we can’t do this because….” In the process we become bound by what the enemy is telling us because we allow him to demean us in our minds. We can be locked up in fear.

But our verse tells us that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Instead He gives us power, love, and a sound mind. Fear can be debilitating to the point of becoming a psychological disorder. Some people are afraid of being out in crowds or around people, that is called agoraphobia, and they are holed up in their houses, afraid to step outside. I have never experienced that kind of fear, but I do have a fear.

I am totally deaf in one ear due to an illness I had as a child. My fear is that I will lose my hearing totally in my good ear and go completely deaf. To this day I don’t like being in totally quiet rooms, I must have noise, the radio or TV, in the background. A few years ago, I experienced an ear infection that was so bad that I lost a part of my hearing in my good ear. My husband could stand next to me and yell in my ear and I could barely hear him. It scared me badly. I experienced the closest thing to being totally deaf, the thing I feared the most, and I was in a panic. Praise God for His healing and antibiotics and medication to clear the ear infection. I did regain my hearing, however; my hearing was diminished a little. I’ve worn hearing aids for about 30 years, and my hearing continues to decline. Losing my hearing completely is still a fear, but God has helped me through that experience, and it no longer is as strong of a fear as it was before. I have learned a little sign language, so that I will be able to communicate with others. I’m grateful for friends who are sign language interpreters and help me out when I don’t understand something. I’ve also learned to read lips a little.

There are other types of fear that can cause us to step back and not be who we are called to be. We can also be fearful to step out into an area of growth that God is calling us into. We must believe that we are who God says we are. We must remember that it is God who gives us the ability to do what He has called us to. When I first started doing my blog, I was very hesitant. Several years ago, a prophetic word, that I was to begin journaling and I would be ministering to others, was spoken over me. First, I had never had a prophetic word spoken over me before and I wasn’t sure just how to take it. After consulting with my Pastor and talking to some others about what I felt God was leading me to, I launched out. It has been a slow beginning, but I am now beginning to see some rewards, small ones, but rewards none the less. I had to believe that I was able to do what God said I could do and not allow fear to stop me from being obedient to step into my calling.

We must go to God’s Word to reaffirm what He says about us. Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (NASB) God promises that He will not forsake us. (Psalm 37:25) Ephesians 4:8 tells us that He leads us out of slavery. “Wherefore he saith ‘When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.’” (KJV) Philippians 4:3 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) Jesus gives us the strength and helps us to step out into whatever it is that we need to do.

We can follow God and His call on our lives because He does not give us the spirit of fear, He frees us from it. All we need to do is allow Him to free us from that fear and surrender it to Him.

God Provides

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Acts 17:24-25, “The God who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” (NASB) As we continue to look at God’s provision for us, today’s Scripture reminds us that it is God who gives us all things, even our breath and life!

This passage comes from Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The Greeks worshipped many gods, and were, as Paul states, “very religious” (verse 22). They erected altars to all the gods they worshipped, including one to “AN UNKNOWN GOD”. Paul preaches to them and explains just who that UNKNOWN GOD is. The climate in that day was full of idols and as Paul was teaching about God and His love for us, the philosophers of the day became curious and encouraged Paul to teach them about the One True God. He explained that it was God who created heaven, earth, and us, and provided life and breath to us. It is to Him we must worship! It was God who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice for our sins, who died, was buried, and rose again, and it is through His shed blood that we are forgiven.

Sometimes, I think we lose track of the fact that our very life is because of God’s love for us. He created us, He loves us, and He wants us to live lives that are fruitful, full, rich, and blessed. He provides everything we have, right down to the very air we breathe. He loves us so much that He provided a way of escape from our sins, and a pathway for eternal life. For that I am eternally grateful!

When we come to those times when we begin to worry and fret over our needs, God reminds us in His Word. Jesus Himself told His disciples, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:31-32 ESV) Jesus states that God, the Father, already knows what we need, and He provides those things for us.

Why do we worry so? Why don’t we rest in the knowledge that God knows our needs and He will provide? I think it is because of our impatience sometimes. We want it now, not tomorrow, not next year, but now! How like a 2-year old throwing a temper tantrum we can become! It is during those times of waiting on God’s provision that we must learn to trust His plan and His purpose for our lives. Circumstances may not be in place for the thing that we desire to come to pass. Maybe we are not able to handle what it is that we ask for, even though God wants to give it to us. Sometimes, when other people are involved, it could be that they are not in a place they need to be for the provision to come about. The song, “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller, comes to mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6X71sXagUY

As you listen to the song, think about what it is that you are waiting for from God. If you are impatient in waiting for God’s provision, ask Him to help you wait. If it seems like God’s provision isn’t coming anytime soon, do as the song states, “worship while I wait.” You will find that He is faithful. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (CSB) That includes His provision for you.

Unshakeable Confidence

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 3:3-6, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side.” (CSB) This passage was written by David as he was fleeing his son, Absalom. Absalom wanted to take over David’s throne and become king. Despite being on the run and having those in Israel who were favorable toward Absalom come against him, David still had confidence in God.

God had him anointed and placed on the throne of Israel. David could rest and not be worried or concerned because he knew that God was in control of everything and God had his back.

Worry can be disabling. It can cause sleepless nights, physical ailments, and take away our peace. But when we have confidence that God has everything under His control, that He sees our path beginning to end, we can have peace, we can rest. I love how David says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.” (verse 5) He could sleep at night in peace. Absalom had an agenda and desired to take David out so that he could become king, and David kept his confidence that God would settle the matter in His own time and way. He even says he is not afraid of those who are coming against him! That is Unshakeable Confidence!

I am not necessarily a worrier, however; there are times I can become concerned or even worry a little bit about a situation. I try not to let it get me to the point of being overwhelmed with worry, but I can have that situation uppermost in my mind, and it can always be there in my thoughts. If I don’t stop and pray about the situation, give it to God, and then trust Him to work it out for my good, then I become miserable.

God gives us His promise that when we pray, He will listen and answer. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (NASB) When we pray, He will hear and answer! That is our confidence!

God also gives us confidence to step out in faith when He has given us direction into an area that is not in our comfort zone. Doing new things can be scary, but God is orchestrating things in our lives to make us more like Him, to become a vessel that He can use in bringing others to faith in Jesus. Knowing He is directing my steps gives me confidence that I can do what He is asking me to do. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) As Believers, we know this verse and quote it quite often, but we never really pay attention to that little word in the middle of the verse…all! There is nothing we can not do when we put our trust and confidence in Christ. Everything is possible through Jesus!

So, as we look at placing our confidence in God, step out in faith, rely on His leading, rest in peace that He knows what is best for us, and He will always walk with us!