New Hope

Today we are looking at I Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (KJV) The Amplified Bible says, “Blessed (gratefully praised and adored) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again (that is, to be born from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose) to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

This springs hope in my heart, to know that God’s mercy was extended to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus, so that we could become transformed, born again, renewed, and set apart for His purpose. Many of us can remember lives that were drastically different from the ones we live now before we were changed by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Some of us were raised in Christian homes and never had to deal with some of the things others had, but we knew that there was a void in our lives, and when we asked Jesus to save us from our sins and ourselves, our lives changed.

I like the way the Amplified Bible breaks this verse down. God’s mercy is “abundant and boundless!” That in itself, brings me joy…knowing His mercy has no limits! It is through that limitless mercy that we become Born Again Believers. We are “transformed and set apart to an ever-lasting hope and confident assurance.” We have a hope, a confident assurance, that is ongoing because Jesus rose from the dead! We have no fear of what is ahead because He has already conquered sin, death, and the grave! We know that He lives now and is coming back again to take us home with Him. That is our hope, that is our confidence.

We also have the hope and confidence in knowing that each day we walk with Him, He will walk with us. We are never alone. (Joshua 1:9) Isaiah 30:21 reminds us, “and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’” (CSB) God is guiding us every step we take.

To know He is showing me what trail to take, what decisions to make, letting me know when to stop and wait and when to forge ahead, strengthens me. I have nothing to worry about because I know that God has everything under His control!

This brings a newness of life every day, a confident hope of His love and grace, and in turn our spirit is renewed every day. He tells us that His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) We know then that He sees the end from the beginning, and we have nothing to fear. We are given a new hope!

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We Hope in God and What He Has Done

Jeremiah 1422Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Jeremiah 14:22, “Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.” (NASB) In thinking about this verse and the hope we have in God, the thought came to me as I did my journaling page, that we can hope in God (have confidence in Him) whether we are in a time of trial or whether we are enjoying a life of ease.

God brings the rain as well as the sunshine in our lives. It is through the rainy times that we grow in our Christian walk. Just as in nature, the rain comes and causes growth. In the world around us we see the result by new vegetation sprouting up after the rains come. We hold that hope in our hearts that after the rain, comes the sunshine and a new beginning. Going through those times in our lives with Jesus causes growth as well. As we grow, we gain more confidence that He will be with us during those times.

In the sunny times of our lives we also have the confidence in God that we are not alone, He walks with us. We see His blessings all around us. We know that He will guide our walk with Him. We know and hope (have confidence) that He will direct us, whether it is in our job, or a ministry He has gifted us with, or in developing the gifts and talents He has given us.

He has given us reason enough to hope in Him. He proves over and over that we can trust in His leading. As we walk with Him, He proves Himself faithful, and with each victory we gain, we have confidence to rely upon Him in every instance. We say to ourselves, “If God can lead me through this, and I make it through to the end, He will do the same the next time I come to a hard time in my life.”

As I look at this verse, I’m struck by the question, “Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain?” Those false gods cannot do what our God can do. The prophets of Baal proved that when Elijah put them to the test. (I Kings 18) The prophets spent all day praying to Baal to bring fire down on a dry offering on their altar and nothing happened. Elijah put the offering on his altar and doused it with water until the water flowed over the altar and down onto the ground. He offered a prayer to God and immediately God sent fire from Heaven and consumed the offering. Our God is alive, powerful, He works in our lives, and He can be trusted. The false gods of this world are dead, weak, and ineffective. There is no hope or confidence in their abilities because they have no ability to show themselves powerful.

Our hope is certain because our God has proven Himself to be faithful. When our faith is weak, we can know that God will do as He has promised. We can depend on Him in every situation. When we struggle with issues of life, He is there to bring comfort and strength to persevere. He is more powerful than any illness, addiction, or circumstance. He loves us more than we can ever imagine, and He shows it in His care for us.

His Love Leads Us

 

As we continue to look at aspects of God’s love, today’s verse tells us that His love leads us. Exodus 15:13 says, “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them in Your holy habitation.” (NASB) I love the idea that God leads us through each mountain and valley of our lives.

As I was thinking about this verse, I began to think back at my own life. I can see God’s hand guiding me and I see where He led me even though I had no clue which way to go. I became a Christian at the age of 11 in a Youth Group meeting on a Sunday night. I had been having disturbing dreams for a few weeks, dreams of not being a Christian and finding myself in Hell. I know God was talking to me through my dreams, trying to draw me to Himself. I don’t know why I didn’t accept Jesus after having those dreams, but I didn’t. One Sunday night, a guest came to our Youth Group and asked this question, “Why are you a Christian?” She asked it to the whole Youth Group. Each person gave their reason for why they asked Jesus to be their Savior. When it came my turn, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t give her an answer because I wasn’t a Born-Again Believer, and I admitted it. It was then that my pastor asked me if I would like to ask Jesus into my heart, and I said yes. God just wouldn’t let me get out from under His loving invitation.

He guided my life in a miraculous way, at least I think so. When I was in my mid 20’s I wasn’t in the habit of listening to the Christian radio station in our city, but one day I was having a really bad day and decided to tune in. It was then that I heard a promo for their singing group, asking those who wanted to join to come to an audition. I decided I didn’t have anything going on, and it might be nice to be part of the group. I went to auditions and was accepted and it was there I met my first husband. God led me to decide to listen to that station at that particular time, and it changed my life! It began almost 40 years of ministry in broadcasting as my husband and I served Christian radio and television stations for the majority of our lives. I’ve often said God has taken me on an adventure. I had no inkling that broadcasting would be in my life. In high school that was the farthest thing from my mind.

The hardest day of my life was when my husband died. God led me through that dark valley for six years. Being a widow was very hard for me, but God was right there carrying me through that dark time. In the midst of that valley a guest speaker came to our church and he spoke a prophetic word over me, telling me that I would minister to people all over the world using journaling. That troubled me, because I wasn’t a good journaler…very sporadic. But his words haunted me, and about 2½ years ago I found Bible Journaling. Another one of the ways God has led me.

He also led me to get on the Internet and do some online dating and at the end of that six years, I met an incredible man on a Christian dating site, and six months later we were married. God led me to him and birthed a new ministry for me. My new husband has a ministry online and I have a blog into which I incorporate my Bible Journaling.

As I look back, I see God’s Hand so plainly in my life. He has led me every step of the way. It’s good to look back and see from where God has led us. His love is so incredible!
It is because of His love for us that He leads us along the pathway He has chosen for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) He guides us in His strength Exodus 15: 13 tells us. He leads us right to the gates of Heaven, His holy habitation. Oh, how I praise Him for His guidance!

He Carries Us


One of the ways God shows His love toward us is found in Deuteronomy 1:31, “And in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.” God shows His love toward us in that He carries us.

To give a little background on this verse, the children of Israel had arrived at the Promised Land. God, through Moses, tells them to go in and possess the land. Ten scouts were sent in to spy out the land and they came back with a report. All but two of them allowed their fear and rebellion against the Lord to influence them, and they told the people that it was too hard, the people were giants, the cities were fortified with tall walls…on and on, giving excuses as to why they couldn’t go in and take the land. Only two came back with a good report, telling the people it wasn’t something they couldn’t do, but encouraging the people to go in and take the land as God had said. Moses reminded the people that God was with them, He had been with them the entire journey from Egypt, and He wasn’t about to abandon them now. Moses tells the people that “The Lord your God carried you” all through the wilderness. But the people let their rebellion win out and refused to go in. They spent the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness until that rebellious generation had all died off. God lovingly carried them through all of that despite their rebellion.

Have you ever watched a father carry his child? That child is precious to him, and lovingly holds that child so that it is safe. I remember as a little girl, my Dad carrying me on his shoulders, he made sure he had a tight grip on me so that I wouldn’t fall off. God holds us like that, with a firm hold on us so that we are safe. It makes no difference what it is we are experiencing in life; His love carries us through every situation. When we are going through mountain top experiences, He is there holding us, when we are in the valley, He is there carrying us when we feel like we can’t take another step. His love for us keeps Him right by our side.

God promises that He will hold us in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you, Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (NASB) Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” (ESV) His love for us causes Him to protect us, guide us, and carry us through life.

I find that reassuring. God knows my every step because He is right beside me, and when I stumble, He holds me so that I won’t fall. He walks this pathway of life with us and we have no need to fear or wonder where He is. He has a tight grip on us, and He keeps us safe from the attacks of the enemy, from the things that life throws at us, and even sometimes from ourselves. Like the children of Israel, we can be our own worst enemy. But He loves us even when we are rebellious, and He keeps His Hand on us. So, remember today, God’s love for you is carrying you. Be encouraged.

His Love Endues Forever

 

As we look at love this month, we must look at the love God has for us. Psalm 136 is a chapter that echoes one theme, “His love endures forever!” Psalm 136:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (NASB) The Amplified Bible says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever.”

We’ve already talked about the fact that God IS love. Now we look at how long His love lasts. Forever is a very long time. It’s great to know that He loves us no matter what. He loves us even though we are unlovable. In fact, the Bible says He loved us before we loved Him. (I John 4:19) Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’” (KJV) He gently leads us with His love. When we are wandering around, not knowing which way to turn, His love is poured out upon us as He guides us in the pathway He has chosen for us. To those who don’t know Him yet, He draws them to Himself with love that lasts forever.

Even when we turn our backs on Him, He still loves us. The children of Israel were such a rebellious people, constantly trying God’s patience, and yet, despite their disobedience, He still loved them. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34 KJV) Jesus looked over Jerusalem in sadness because they didn’t recognize Him, they were still disobedient, and they rejected His love for them.

His love isn’t like human love. As humans, we tend to love only those who are lovable, or those who can give us something we want, or those who only do good to us. God loves us regardless of those things. Even when we shake our fists in anger at Him, He loves us. It’s His love that sustains us in the difficult times. It is His love that holds us when we are in despair. It is His love that rejoices with us in times of great victory. It is His love that compels us to come to Him when we recognize that it is only through Jesus that we are saved.

God has directed us to have the same kind of love for others as He has for us. Ephesians 5:2 says, “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (NASB) John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (KJV) The reason for this is found in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.” (KJV)

God has an enduring love for us that surpasses any that we’ve ever experienced, and we are to pattern ourselves after Him. We will never achieve that level of perfect love that God has for us, but we are to strive for that mark of excellence. He knows we will never be able to love Him like He loves us, but He wants us to endeavor to be more like Him every day.

Oh, How He Loves Us!


Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (NASB) This month we are focusing on God’s love for us. I love this verse because it tells me that He loves us to a thousandth generation! His love is never ending, He is faithful, and He keeps His covenant with us.

As I was working on my journaling, I kept thinking about His love for a thousandth generation. That’s a long time! I can’t even fathom that! Over and over again the Bible tells us how much God loves us, He just keeps reminding us of His love for us. The Bible gives us 310 verses in the King James Version about God’s love, 131 times in the Old Testament, and 179 times in the New Testament (info from Google). That’s a lot of reminder for us! He never wants us to forget how much He loves us!

He loves us with an everlasting love! (Jeremiah 31:3) His heart breaks when we turn our backs on Him and decide to go our own way. Our rebellion causes Him great pain. (Jeremiah 8:18-9:3) Just as when we disappoint or rebel against our earthly parents, they are in great pain, because despite everything they’ve tried to do, we rebel and go against their teachings, leading, and guidance. Then there must be discipline. When we rebel against Him, God disciplines us, and He disciplines us in love. (Hebrews 12:3-11)

He lovingly guides us along the pathway He has chosen for us. We must remember that His plan is the best plan for our lives, and that His guidance is given in overwhelming love. Agape love…unconditional love. No matter what, He loves us! When our hearts are breaking, He lovingly wraps us in His arms and comforts us. When we are rejoicing over something that brings us joy, He is right there rejoicing with us! In our quiet times, He lovingly whispers His Word to us, teaching us so that we can become more like Jesus.

His love is far above anything we can even imagine. He showed us His love by sending Jesus to die for our sins. (Romans 5:8) The Bible says that He loved us before we loved Him. (I John 4:19) 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) He gave Himself for us! John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (NASB)

He stays close to us! He keeps us in the palm of His Hand! (Isaiah 49:16), in fact the Scripture says He inscribes us…carves us into the palm of His Hand. He can never let us go! What awesome love the Father has for us!

So, as we focus on God’s love this month, remember, you are never alone, for He is always with you. When you hurt, He hurts, when we laugh, He rejoices with us, when we are in despair, He is right there to offer comfort and loving arms. HE LOVES YOU!

Pray for Wisdom and Knowledge

Today’s Bible Journaling Scripture passage is Colossians 1:9-10, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (NASB) The Apostle Paul is commending the Colossians for their faith and their love of the brethren. He encourages them by telling them he is praying continually for them, and he is praying that they would gain wisdom, understanding and knowledge of God so that they can walk their spiritual lives in a manner that is pleasing and honorable to the Lord.

Gaining wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God’s Word is essential in the life of a Believer. Without understanding His Word, we are not able to live a life that is in “a manner worthy of the Lord.” Given to our own devices, we will fail miserably, and it also makes us an easy target for the enemy of our souls to set traps for us without us recognizing them. Praying for wisdom and knowledge from God must be done daily. We need His guidance for daily living.

Asking for wisdom in other situations is also needed. James encourages the early Christians, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NASB) Wisdom is something God is more than happy to give to His children. When God told Solomon to ask for anything he wanted, Solomon chose wisdom. (I Kings 3:3-14) God was pleased with Solomon because he didn’t ask for riches or long life or that his enemies would be killed. Because Solomon asked for wisdom, God chose to also give him riches and honor among the people.

Daily prayer and Bible reading, studying God’s Word and then applying it to our lives is what brings honor to God. We must read our Bibles with understanding. When we understand what God is telling us, not only can we bring honor to God in the way we apply what we read to our lives, but we become a light for others to see. Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of God’s Word, also helps us in fighting our battles against the enemy. Without a sound understanding of God’s Word, we have no defense against Satan’s attacks. We must remember, the enemy also knows God’s Word, and we must be able to fight back with Scripture and the correct application of that Scripture to defeat him. Satan will take Scripture and twist it for his own devices, and if we are not familiar with the true meaning of God’s Word, the enemy can lead us astray easily.

Jesus defeated Satan as the enemy tried to tempt Him to relinquish His authority and to refrain from doing the task God had assigned Jesus. How did He defeat the enemy? When Satan quoted Scripture attempting to trip up Jesus, the Lord came back with Scripture properly applied to fight back against the enemy’s attempts at bringing Him down. That’s how we win at defeating the enemy as well. Spiritual warfare can be very difficult because we have an adversary who is bent on crushing us and make us defeated Christians with no joy, peace, or victory in our lives. As we apply that wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, we receive Spiritual fruit that will grow and make us stronger in our daily walk with the Lord. So, asking God to reveal His wisdom, knowledge, and understanding through His Word, is the key to growth in living for Jesus, and being a light in a dark world.