Live Life as an Adventure

 

I have often told people that since Jesus came into my life, I have been on an adventure. God has led me into some pretty incredible areas, areas I would never have dreamed to be placed in. As we look at living life, we have talked about looking up and listening to what God is telling us about resting. Today, we look at life as an adventure and how we should experience that adventure. Our Bible Journaling today is from Exodus 40:36, “Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out.” (NASB) The World English Bible says, “When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward throughout all their journeys.”

As we look at the background of our verse today, we know that God led Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. His Spirit inhabited the cloud and the pillar of fire, and so He led them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Whenever the cloud moved, the Israelites were to follow. They were going to a land where they had never been and didn’t know what to expect when they got there. They were on an adventure.

Our lives are often like that. God is leading us in areas we are not familiar with, and with which we have no experience. That can be scary sometimes, but mostly I find it interesting. As I said, my life has been an adventure. In High School, if someone would have told me that one day I would have been working in radio and television, I would have told them that they were crazy. Broadcasting was not even in my peripheral vision! But because God was directing my life, I met my first husband, who was the chief engineer of a local Christian radio station, and my path was set. I have been involved in radio on the microphone and behind the scenes, and on television in front of the camera and behind it. It has been an amazing journey. After my husband died, God took me on another adventure, and I am now married again and retired, experiencing life differently.

God wants us to experience the adventure He takes us on. Some parts are exhilarating, while others can be devastating, as it was when my first husband died. I was in such a dark pit, but even in that, God was leading and teaching me.

Adventure comes in many forms. It can be in a time of rest, such as when we get away from the daily grind of things while we are on vacation. It can be in little moments, like seeing nature in a new and different way as we go about our normal routine, and we can praise Him for His creation. Adventure can be something as simple as watching our little ones grow, experiencing the world around them with awe and wonder. Or, it can be seeing our lives unfold in ways we don’t expect, and we stand in awe that God is doing something different in our lives. Our lives are an adventure, we just have to see that God is leading us and wants us to be aware and experience that adventure to the fullest.

Look around you, what is it that God wants you to experience? Are you aware of His leading? Can you see the adventure on which He is taking you? Open yourself up to the adventure He has for you. You will find that life can be so much more exciting when you are aware of God’s hand in everything you do and experience.

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God Calls Us His Children

Bible Journaling page was traced from a Pinterest post from Carmen Ramirez.

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from I John 3:1-3, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.” (NLT) God loves us so much that He calls us His children! What an awesome thought!

God refers to Believers in different ways. He says we are His children; He says we are lambs; He says we are His bride! I love that He calls us His children! That makes Him my Abba Father! I can go to Him with everything that concerns me. Joys, sorrows, victories, defeats…anything that I experience, I can tell Him about it. His love is never ending. His love is more than I can comprehend.

There is one requirement for a person to be considered God’s child. Each person must decide in their heart what they will do with Jesus. Will He be accepted into that person’s life or rejected? To be God’s child, we must accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, ask forgiveness for our sins, and promise to live for Him. From that moment on, our lives must be lived for Him in everything we do and say. We must exhibit a pure life that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. When we do this, the Bible says we are Born-Again. (John 3)

There are several references in the Bible where Born-Again Believers are called children of God. The Apostle Paul states in Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (KJV) Jesus said as much in Luke 20:36, “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (KJV)

As His children, we are required to keep ourselves pure (verse 3), and as human beings, that can be difficult at times. But we must stay close to Him to accomplish purity in our lives. Once we wander away from Him, it makes it more difficult to stay pure. Obedience to God is needed in every area of our lives. We realize that we are not perfect, and God knows that also, after all, He created us. But He requires that we persevere in living holy, pure lives for Him. Daily Bible Study and prayer, fellowshipping with other Christians, church attendance…all these things help us to live holy lives before Him. We often stray and get off the pathway He has laid out for us, and when that happens, God, as our Father, disciplines us. He disciplines out of love, not as an overbearing task master, but He gently leads us back to where we belong. The writer of Hebrews explains, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11 KJV) Job 36:10 (NASB) says, “He opens their ear to instruction, And commands that they return from evil.” As a loving Father, He disciplines us so that we overcome our rebellion, our mistakes, and our sin.

He knows what is best for us, just as earthly fathers know what is best for their children, and desire to keep their children safe and happy. God wants us to experience the best in life that He has to offer us. He loves us and wants our obedience and a close relationship with His children. He wants us to talk to Him every day, He wants to shower us with His blessings. He wants us to get to know who He is and enjoy His presence with us. I am so glad He loves me enough to discipline my rebellious ways. It is then that I can truly enjoy a life of peace and joy with God as my Abba Father!

Our Gentle Shepherd


Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Isaiah 40:11, “He protects His flock like a shepherd, He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.” (CSB) Have you ever watched a shepherd with his flock of sheep? I have. My husband and I were on vacation in the mountains of Wyoming. Our campsite was on the edge of the forest and went up into a pasture high in the mountains. When we woke up the next morning, we heard what almost sounded like a great crowd of people talking. When we looked out the window of our camper, we saw a whole flock of sheep grazing on the mountainside. The shepherd was sitting and watching over the sheep and his dogs were carefully keeping their charges in line, not allowing them to stray too far.

We went up to talk to the shepherd. He told us about taking care of the sheep, all the while keeping his eyes on the sheep, making sure they were safe and not getting into trouble. He had a cook/camp wagon where he slept and fixed his meals. He stayed with the sheep all the time until it was time to take them back to the ranch. He had raised each one of them, and he ensured that they were safe from predators like coyotes and wolves, which roam freely in the mountains.

Our God is like that shepherd. He watches over us constantly! When we are hurt, He gathers us up in His arms to minister healing and comfort to us. When we get ourselves into sticky situations, He is there to rescue us. He also administers discipline when we get out of line. Like the shepherd my husband and I talked to, God must dole out correction to His sheep. The shepherd’s staff has a crook at the end to reign in the wayward sheep, and much like that shepherd who must guide his sheep back to the fold, God must reign us in and get us back on the right pathway.

Both do correction lovingly, not harshly. Why? Because of their love for the sheep. Like that shepherd, God exhibits His love for us in how He takes care of and watches over us. The sheep of the shepherd we talked to also knew their master’s voice. He would call to them and they would listen. John chapter 10 talks about that also. Jesus is telling the people how the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will respond, but a stranger they will not listen to because they don’t know his voice. Jesus also talks about how the shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep because he loves them. Jesus is our shepherd; He is the Great Shepherd.

In Bible times the shepherd would sleep in the door of the sheep fold to protect the sheep at night. The website, http://www.gotquestions.org describes this: “There were two kinds of sheepfolds or pens. One kind was a public sheepfold found in the cities and villages. It would be large enough to hold several flocks of sheep. This sheep pen would be in the care of a porter or doorkeeper, whose duty it was to guard the door to the sheep pen during the night and to admit the shepherds in the morning. The shepherds would call their sheep, each of which knew its own shepherd’s voice, and would lead them out to pasture.

The second kind of sheep pen was in the countryside, where the shepherds would keep their flocks in good weather. This type of sheep pen was nothing more than a rough circle of rocks piled into a wall with a small open space to enter. Through it the shepherd would drive the sheep at nightfall. Since there was no gate to close—just an opening—the shepherd would keep the sheep in and wild animals out by lying across the opening. He would sleep there, in this case literally becoming the door to the sheep.” Jesus used this illustration in John 10:7 where He says that He is the door. “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’” (NASB)

We are like sheep, wandering anywhere we choose, getting ourselves into all kinds of trouble, not too bright, and in need of a keeper. Sheep are not known to be very smart; they will go into places that will most certainly bring instant death, without the benefit of a keeper. They need guidance and constant watching. A shepherd will go to any lengths to save his sheep from harm, including putting his life on the line.

Jesus loves us to the point of dying for us. He gave up His life so that we could have eternal life. Like those sheep, the only door through which we must go, is the one our Shepherd provides for us. We must go through Him for safety. By accepting Jesus as our Savior, living our lives in a manner that brings Him glory and honor, and being obedient to Him, we can know peace, safety and life!

God Knows Us

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (NASB) What an awesome thought, that God knew us before we were born, and He knows us intimately now! Every part of us He knows, not just our physical appearance, but He knows our very thoughts, the intentions of our hearts, our sorrows, our joys, our failings, our victories; He knows it all! And why shouldn’t He, for He is the One who created us!

Because of this, He desires an intimate relationship with us. That should also be the desire of every Believer’s heart. It is God that we can go to when we are at the end of our rope, or when we don’t know where to put the next footstep, when we are feeling fearful, or depressed. It is to Him we can share our joys, victories, and overwhelming love of His care for us. We can rely on His leading, for He has planned our lives, beginning to end. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (NASB) We can gain strength from knowing that He has planned for us to have “a future and a hope.”

I’m glad that He is in control of my life, for He can do a much better job of running my life than I can. All I can do is mess things up. I let the little things in this life ruin things. I let my will get in the way, and in the end, I’ve made a royal mess of things. It’s then that I must go to Him, ask forgiveness, and listen to His will for my life and follow the path He has laid out for me. He sees my journey from beginning to end, and I can see just a little part of the pathway.

What I love is that He knows us intimately! I love that I can tell Him anything and know He won’t reject me or condemn me, but He, with understanding, will love me, correct me when I am in the wrong, rejoice in my victories, and cry with me in my sorrows. My favorite verse, my life verse if you will, is Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (NASB) In my mind’s eye, I see, not a cold and austere throne, but I see my Heavenly Father sitting in an overstuffed, comfortable chair, bidding me to come sit in His lap and tell Him all about my problems – my joys, my feelings, my plans…everything! Then He wraps His arms around me and says, “My daughter, I love you!” He is my Abba Father, my Daddy!

Only our Creator can know us so fully. He knows how He put us together. He knows the emotions and desires of our hearts, because He put them there. He knows how we will react to situations, and He knows whether we will follow His leading or go our own way. He knows whether we will accept His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior or reject Him.

If you desire an intimate relationship with God, I encourage you to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior today. It will be the best decision you ever made. He will walk with you through every situation. You can know that you are not alone, and that He knows you and loves 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!

 

Confidence Begins with God

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 89:34, “My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.” (NASB) The King James Version puts it this way, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” God assures us that He will keep His promises to us, and He will not change!

Confidence coming from ourselves is very shaky. We, unlike God, change constantly. Our attitudes, our actions, our thinking, how we perceive things…all are constantly in a state of change. We find that if we rely upon our own understanding, our pathway becomes bumpy, uncertain, full of potholes. However, God does not change, ever! His yes is yes, and His no is no. (I Corinthians 1:20). Hebrews 13:8 says that “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (NASB) We gain our confidence from God.

Remember the first time you got a job and arrived the first day to take your place in the workforce? We did not have confidence in our own abilities, especially in a new situation. We had to learn the way things operated in our new situation. I know I did not have confidence in my first job. I took a summer job in a plant that distributed cassettes and 8-track tapes (yes, I’m dating myself) to customers, and I had to work in the warehouse packing orders for shipment. It was the first time I had to use office equipment to track the order (this is before computers mind you) and get it ready to go out the door. I had to get used to my coworkers, most of whom were from a different background than me, and to say the least, I was not confident in my ability to do the job. At that point, I had not learned to put my confidence in Jesus. I was a relatively new Christian with a lot to learn.

The more I worked at my job, the more confident I became. It’s the same with our daily lives with God. The more we put our confidence and trust in Him, the more assured of His promises we become and our confidence in Christ grows.

God has a plan for each of us, (Jeremiah 29:11) and His plan is different from His plan for someone else. He knows what He has mapped out for us, and He knows what is best for us. He knows how to strengthen our confidence in Him. The more He brings us through situations that seem way more complicated and confusing than we would like, the more we can find ourselves saying, “If He got me through that, He can get me through the next big hurdle.” We can look back and see how He has been faithful to us, our confidence grows, and when the next big hurdle comes (and it will) we can be confident that He will not leave us alone, He will guide our steps, He will walk with us, and He will be sure that we do not fail in the end. He will not go back on His promises to us! We can rely on Him in every situation.

I see the Bible as God’s love letter to us, from Genesis to Revelation. He loves us enough to guide us through His Word. He loves us enough to show us examples of how to live and how not to live. He loves us enough to be gracious to us in all circumstances. He loves us enough to keep His promises. He loves us enough to teach us how to rely upon Him, to take our confidence from Him.

If you are finding yourself without confidence, turn to God. He loves you and He wants to see you succeed. Your first step is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior if you haven’t already, confess your sins, and promise to live for Him daily. He will then show you how to take your confidence from Him and rely upon Him for each day, each circumstance, in all things.

God’s Grace is Amazing

For the next month we will be looking at God’s grace. Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary puts as its first definition of grace, “unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification.” So, grace is favor, “unmerited favor.” In other words, we get what we don’t deserve, and we don’t get what we deserve.

Joel 2:13 says, “Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.” (CSB) To give a little background Joel is talking about the Day of the Lord. Israel has been wayward, sinful, and rebellious. They are to be disciplined by God for their sin and rebellion by being captured by the Babylonians and be in captivity for 70 years. Joel is telling them all the horrible things that will happen during that time. However, this book isn’t just about the captivity of Israel to the Babylonians, it is also referring to the awful judgement during the Tribulation period found in Revelation. Israel was rebellious in Joel’s day and they will continue to be rebellious in the last days.

In the midst of the judgements Joel describes, he tells of how God will deliver them. He pleads for them to repent and turn back to God. In our verse today, Joel is telling the people what God has told him, and God is pleading for them to return, not just in outward appearance, but in their hearts. Today, God is pleading for us to turn from our rebellion and turn back to Him. Joel says that God is “gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in faithful love.” The judgements described are God’s way of disciplining, not hatefully or cruelly, but gently drawing them back to Him.

God’s grace is extended to us when we ask for His forgiveness and turn our hearts back to Him. His love for us is greater than we can imagine, and He desires for us to be faithful. When we rebel against God, it separates our communication with Him, and He wants more than anything to be in constant contact with us, to have a good relationship with us. God is a loving Father who desires obedience from His children, He desires faithfulness, He desires to show His love to us and give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4)

I love the description Joel gives of God’s character. He is gracious and compassionate. He shows grace to us all the time because of the compassion He has for us. He understands that we can’t be perfect, and so His grace is extended to us. He is “slow to anger”. Boy, I sure can’t say that about myself. That’s a life-long battle for me. So, when I mess up, my only recourse is to repent, ask forgiveness, and endeavor to do better, and God graciously forgives. Joel talks about tearing their hearts, not just their clothes. What God is desiring from us is not just an outward appearance of repentance, but a true repentance from the heart. God is “abounding in faithful love”. His love for us is more than we can even imagine. It hurts His heart when we rebel against Him and the desires He has for us. He “relents from sending disaster”. His grace is extended to us because of His love for us. He holds back from disowning us, if you will, because He wants a relationship with us, one of love and faithfulness.

However, there is such a thing as discipline. He must discipline us when we get out of line, otherwise, He wouldn’t be a loving Father. We’ve all seen children that run amok because their parents won’t discipline them. Those parents usually say something like, “I love them too much to tell them ‘no’”. In actuality, their actions just show the opposite. If they truly loved them that much, they would discipline their children so that they would be protected from harm and be good citizens as adults. Even though we don’t like to be disciplined, it is necessary. Hebrews 12:11 says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (NASB) The result of discipline is to produce godly living. God extends His grace in the way He disciplines us. He lovingly chastises us. He doesn’t come down on us with a heavy fist but guides us with discipline and pleads with us to turn back to Him.

Today, we can be grateful for the grace He shows us. How awesome to know that He loves us so much that He desires for us to stay close to Him, and live a life that is holy, righteous, and redeemed.