God Sees

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (NASB) I decided to read the entire chapter to get a background of this verse. God is giving Isaiah a message to deliver to the Israelites. They observe the fasts as God required, however; they were doing so with wrong attitudes, wrong motivation, and a wrong commitment. They were fasting and observing holy days with an attitude that was not one of complete dedication to God. They would appear to be holy, yet mistreat their fellow Israelite, not feeding the hungry, having an attitude of, “It really doesn’t really matter if I’m totally committed to this, I’m going to do it my way.”

I decided to look up the definitions of attitude, motive, and commitment to be sure I was applying the correct words to the thoughts I’m trying to convey. Motive is defined as, “a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.” Attitude is defined as, “a settled way of thinking about someone or something…” Commitment is defined as, “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” In my mind, all of these can be combined in our justification for doing something.

Scripture tells us that God sees the heart (I Samuel 16:7) when others see the outside. We can appear to be so holy and yet have motivations and attitudes that are totally opposite from our actions. God was pointing out that they were not totally sincere in fasting and carrying out the observances He required, and therefore, He didn’t recognize their efforts. But if they would change their motivation, their attitude, and their commitment to Him, then He would bless them, He would guide them.

My mind goes to being on the Worship Team. I love being on the Worship Team! God has called me to use my musical abilities for Him, and it’s my outlet to show God how much I love Him! It gives me an opportunity to lift my voice and my instrument in praise to Him for everything He has done for me. But I also have to be very careful, because I can play and sing with wrong motivations and attitudes. Am I doing this for my own self-gratification and to get the accolades of those in the congregation, or am I singing and playing to give honor, praise, and glory to God? Does what I do point others to Jesus or to myself? Every time I get ready to step onto the platform at my church I pray and ask God to check my attitude. Is it proper, does it reflect Him and not myself? I’m committed to playing and singing, but why? That’s where I must look at myself and check that I’m doing this for Him and not me. I must remember it’s all about Him and not about me.

When I am obedient to what He wants me to do, then He blesses my efforts, He blesses my life, and He fills me with joy at having the opportunity to minister to others. He makes my soul satisfied, and I am like a well-watered garden, growing and full of Spiritual fruit. The more I am obedient to what He asks me to do, the more He blesses me and gives me peace and satisfaction. When I have the proper attitude and motivation, He is pleased with me, and my commitment to Him is even greater, and it is a joy to serve Him in everything I do. Doing an attitude/motivation check is a good way to be certain we are in line with God’s will and plan for our lives.

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Teach Me Lord

Today our Bible Journaling verse is Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” (KJV) As we are looking at God’s promises, seeking counsel, and accepting instruction, this verse is such an encouragement to me. As I was thinking about this, the thought came to me that to be taught we must be willing to accept the teaching. There are times when God shows us something about ourselves that is hard, and we don’t want to face.

We must be willing to accept those things, be willing to listen, and be obedient to the Lord in changing those things that need changing. I know for me, sometimes, that is so hard to do. I’ve never been one of those kinds of people that was wild about change, but if it had to be done, I would try and make those changes that were needed.

One time, change was very hard for me. My first husband had just had his first stroke and was in the hospital after having brain surgery. I had been off work for two weeks, spending every day at the hospital with him. When I came back to work there were a lot of things that had changed. Our department was revamping procedures, the station was doing something new and we needed to be on board with it. At about that time things at home were falling apart because my hubby couldn’t take care of it and it was something I couldn’t do. To say I was stressed out was an understatement. The changes at work were like the straw that broke the camel’s back. So much was changing all at the same time and I just couldn’t handle it. My boss was trying to get me to change without throwing a small fit. All I could say was, “Why can’t there just be one thing that doesn’t change?” It was all I could do to keep from breaking down in a crying jag. I wasn’t willing to change what needed to change and I wasn’t happy, and my boss was frustrated with me.

We can be like that with God. We can throw a two-year old tantrum, stomping our feet and telling God, “NO!” All that accomplishes is us being miserable and God being very patient with us. He takes us around that mountain again to learn the lesson we are refusing to learn. It amazes me how patient God is with us! As humans, we would most likely give up after a while and leave the stubborn one to their own devices. Sort of “let them stew in their own juice” as it were. God isn’t like that. He patiently puts us back on that pathway heading for the thing we need to learn, and He keeps putting us in that place until we are willing to learn the lesson. Then, and only then, can we have peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (NIV) Deuteronomy 11:13 says, “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul,” (NASB) Being obedient, willing to learn, and accepting of changes that need to be made, help us to grow in our walk with God.

We must be willing to say, “Teach me Lord!” and then accept the teaching He gives. We must relinquish control of our lives, let Him lead, guide, and teach us, and then we can walk in peace.

 

Receive Instruction

As we continue to look at seeking counsel this week, our Bible Journaling comes from Ecclesiastes 4:13, “A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king, who no longer knows how to receive instruction.” (NASB) The Christian Standard Bible says it like this, “Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings.”

Part of seeking counsel involves something on our part. Once someone gives us the counsel we are seeking, it is up to us to decide whether or not to receive their counsel. This involves discernment on our part. Is the person giving the information to us someone we can trust? If so, then it is up to us whether we will take what they tell us and use it.

My mother was an elementary teacher for 35 years. For most of those years she taught the gifted kids, but for a while she had a mixture of children who were extremely intelligent and ones who weren’t as bright. Grades ran the gamut, the straight A kids and the ones who were barely hanging on. In some instances, she had kids who were really smart, but for whatever reason, just didn’t apply or accept what she was trying to teach them. The ones who could have done better did not use discernment in receiving what she was teaching them. They didn’t want to be in school, they didn’t want to learn, and they decided they were not going to apply themselves in learning.

We can be just like those kids. If the information is from someone we aren’t sure whether or not to trust, then discernment and wisdom is needed. However, if the advice and counsel is from someone we respect and their ideas make a lot of sense, and we don’t take their advice, then we are like that foolish king in our verse today who won’t take instruction, and like those kids in my Mom’s class who refused to learn.

We can also be like those people when it comes to God’s guidance, instruction, and teaching. When we refuse to take God’s Word to heart and learn from it, we are in rebellion. Just like those kids in my Mom’s class, they rebelled against her in refusing to do the work, we can be stubborn and say “NO” to God in defiance or just decide to do it our own way. Most times that just gets us into trouble. Do we forget that God’s ways are the best for our lives, or are we actively defying God’s instruction? How foolish we are to ignore God’s leading and instruction!

I know in my own life there have been times when I verbally said, “No God, I don’t care what you say, this is what I want!” I found myself in a long time of digging myself out of a situation in which I should never have been. I had to learn the hard way, that my defiance and outright rebellion was going to take me in a path I didn’t want to go down. But, when I heed His voice, when I listen to instruction and follow obediently, then life goes a lot smoother. I begin to learn from Him when I follow His leading! Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Good words of advice!

Delay is not Denial

 

Today’s Bible Journaling verse is Isaiah 53:8-9, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.”  This is the Lord’s declaration. ‘For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”  This week we are looking at seeking counsel, and as I began my Bible Journaling, I was having a difficult time deciding just what direction I wanted to take.  I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so to speak, as I’ve already done a post on seeking counsel, and so I was talking to my husband about what direction I should take, whether to continue with the topic of seeking counsel or go a different direction.  He said something that has kind of become his mantra.  He said that a main tenant of counseling is, “Delay is Not Denial.”

As he was talking, the idea of God’s timing is not ours, came into my mind.  We are in an “instant” society.  Everything seems to be instant this or instant that.  Instant coffee, TV dinners in the microwave, instant communication with texting, and on and on it goes.  Patience is not an idea that seems to be popular these days.  I’m reminded of the lady who prayed, “God give me patience and give it to me right now!”  As funny as that sounds, a lot of us are just like that lady…patience is not our strong suit.

But God says that His ways are not our ways…His plans for us, His ways, are higher than ours.  Psalm 90:4 says, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (ESV) God sees things a whole lot differently than we do, and to us it seems as if He takes way too long.  When we are seeking His counsel on a matter and we are waiting for the answer, it may seem as if He will never answer.  But remember, “Delay is NOT Denial!”  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the answer is no, it may be that it isn’t the proper time for that answer.

So, what should we do while we are waiting?  Continue to seek God regarding the matter.  Read His Word to help discern what it is God is telling us and wait patiently for the proper timing of our request to be fulfilled.  Is there something that we need to do to prepare for the answer?  Maybe there is something about ourselves that needs to be resolved first before the answer can come.  Maybe the circumstances about the situation are not all in place yet for the answer to come.  All these things may have an effect on when the answer comes.

God’s plans are for our good, He sees the end from the beginning.  He sees the big picture, where we can only see just a small part of the plan He has for us.  Many times, we don’t understand what He is doing in our lives.  Continue to seek His counsel, continue to wait on His timing, and wait patiently.

Seek Counsel

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (KJV) The English Standard Version (ESV) says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” The Amplified Bible (AMP) says, “Without consultation and wise advice, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they are established and succeed.” When we are in the midst of carrying out plans we have made, making decisions, or even setting goals, having a sounding board, a counselor if you will, is always a good idea. Solomon says that without counsel our plans can fail.

Take for instance, building a house. When I lived in Montana, my husband and I built a house. We contacted a contractor (our counselor), we sat down and told him what we wanted, and my husband drew a rough draft of what the house should look like. Our contractor then took our ideas and drew out a blueprint from which he would be working. Without asking a lot of questions and seeking his advice on how best we should put this house together, how much it would cost, and other factors, we would never have had a successful project. We saw an example of that right in the subdivision where we built the house. A man who lived a few blocks from my parents’ house (they lived a block and a half away from us) started to build his house. He got as far as the foundation and he ran into problems. We aren’t sure exactly what the problem was, but it was evident he didn’t sit down and take into consideration all aspects of building his house. The project ended up being abandoned and he had to sell the property with a partial foundation on the lot. It was obvious that he didn’t rely on counselors to help him finish his house.

Just like building a house, we need counselors for every aspect of our lives. This is the time of year when people are making resolutions, making plans for the year, endeavoring to improve their outlook on life, their circumstances, etc. Sometimes, getting sound advice is needed. The first person to seek counsel from is God! He knows the plans He has for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) Ask Him if this is the direction He wants you to take. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of the (arrogant) fool (who rejects God’s wisdom) is right in his own eyes, But a wise and prudent man is he who listens to counsel.” (AMP) Once you hear from Him then seek out a person who may be able to help you accomplish the task God is leading you into.

In seeking advice, whether it be a mentor for something you want to improve on, or in deciding to launch out into new territory, it is best to find someone who is knowledgeable with the area you are researching. Find someone you trust. Discernment is always needed. Some people may not find it a high priority to keep things confidential, some may not want you to succeed and therefore give you wrong information. Especially in Spiritual matters, the guidance of your Pastor or a Spiritual mentor is a good beginning. In areas such as a business venture, a project you may want to begin, or self-improvement, finding someone who has experience in that area, can guide you, and warn you of pitfalls along the way, and wants you to succeed, is a good idea

A counselor can also help be an accountability partner. They can help keep you on track. They can warn you when it looks as if you are taking a wrong turn. I hold great store by accountability partners. They have your best interest in mind, and they want you to succeed in what you are trying to do. When I was trying to lose weight a few years ago, I was in a program that incorporated accountability partners. It was, in part, because of my accountability partner that I was able to succeed in losing the weight I needed to lose.

As we launch out into this new year, seeking counsel should be part of our resolution to be better or begin a new thing. Make your first Counselor, the Lord!

You Can Trust God’s Promises

Today’s Bible Journaling is taken from Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (NASB) I find so much comfort in reading this passage. God has made so many promises to us, and to know that He will do as He promises brings a sense of well-being, a sense that He is in control and will never go back on His word.

I was talking with my hubby about this passage and he relayed a story of something that happened when he lived in California. He had been offered a position as a maintenance man at a trailer park by a lady, and there was no contract drawn up, but an agreement was made by shaking hands. In my husband’s mind your word is your bond and should be taken as seriously as a contract. Well, a month goes by and he hears by way of the grapevine that he’s been let go and a relative of this lady has been put in the position. She never told him and so he confronted her. She gave some excuse and that was that. Well, evidently the relative didn’t work out because she came back to my hubby and asked if he would take the job again. Well, she had gone back on her word before and my husband wasn’t about to give her that opportunity again, so he said no because he couldn’t trust her. People will make promises and then not keep their word. But Moses writes that God is not man, He does not lie, and what He says He will do, He will do it.

Some people have problems in trusting God because of the actions of people. Especially if they have issues with their father. God is our Heavenly Father, and for us, our earthly father is supposed to be an example of our Heavenly Father. When that example is not a good one, then our view of God is skewed. Then it is hard to see God as a loving, Father who will keep His promises. Too many times those who have had that poor example have a hard time trusting. They can’t believe that what they are promised will come to fruition and that they will always be disappointed.

God keeps His promises. His love for us is so vast it is hard for us to comprehend, and because He loves us so much, He wants to provide for us in all ways. He promises good for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) We can trust Him, even when we don’t understand what is going on, when things are turned upside down, when it feels like we are standing in the middle of a hurricane, we KNOW we can trust Him, because as we look at how He has taken care of us in the past, we can see that His character is to be truthful, and to keep His promises.

Trust is a big issue for some people, I know for me, it is. If I don’t feel I can trust you, then I will be careful about what I tell you, I will watch closely at what you do to be sure that I will be protected. I don’t have that issue with God. I know I can always trust Him. I can trust His Word, I can trust His actions, I can trust everything about Him. I’ve seen Him work in my life in the past and He has always come through, even when I didn’t understand what He was doing at the time. I found that He always had my good in mind. He had a plan for me, and it was a good plan, even though I couldn’t see what the next step was, or how He was leading me. Even in the times when it felt like He was far away from me, He was there guiding my footsteps, holding my hand. I look back now and see His handiwork in it all.

Be encouraged dear reader, God can be trusted to keep His promises. Do you have family members far from God? God hears your prayers and He loves them more than you do. He is working in the background even when you can’t see it. (Isaiah 65:24) Trust Him. Are you going through a situation that seems as if there is no solution? He knows all about it and He is working in your favor. (Psalm 91:5) Trust Him. He loves you and He will see you through. Are you in a financial crisis? He knows all about it and He will provide because He has promised that He will. (Exodus 23:25) Trust Him. Have you wandered far from Him? He’s drawing you back to Himself. He loves you. (Ephesians2:4-5) You can trust Him!

God Has a Plan

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Isaiah 14:24-27. As I searched for a way to create artwork for this passage, I came upon an image in Pinterest that seemed to resonate with me, so I traced it into my Bible. The image is of the cross with a heart on it. God’s love poured out on the cross.

Because this Scripture is a long passage, I won’t include it here, but I encourage you to read the passage for yourself. I read the entire 14th chapter to get background on this section. The chapter is about Israel’s release from Babylon, and they are taunting Babylon, telling them what God will do to them. In the last part of the chapter God says he will lay Assyria and Philistia to ruin for their persecution of His people. What I want to focus on is, throughout this passage God says, “I have planned”, and the 27th verse popped out at me,” For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it?”

I think what jumped out at me in this passage was not only does God have a plan, but His plan can not be stopped or changed unless He deems it. His timing is not our timing, nor His thoughts or plans like ours. (Isaiah 55:8) Oftentimes that means we are waiting on His timing for His plan in our lives to work itself out. The song, “While I’m Waiting” by Josh Waller is playing, and it’s the perfect song for this idea of God’s plan not being ours. God sees the end from the beginning and knows what He will do in our lives. His plan is far better than our plan will ever be.

As I look at the image of the cross with the heart, I’m thinking that God’s greatest plan was to send His Son to die on the cross for our sins and take our place as the punishment for our sin. God had that plan from the foundation of creation. Adam and Eve’s sin did not come as any surprise to Him and He already had a plan in place!

As for me, I can relate with the “hurry up and wait” idea. I seem to spend a lot of my life in that mode. Patience has never been a strong suit of mine, so waiting on God to do something in a specific situation sometimes gets very frustrating for me. But then, I must remember that He knows what He’s doing in my life far better than I do. I’m so glad He has a plan for my life, for without His plans, my life would be a mess! I can not even think of what my life would be like without Him. He has taken me on an adventure that is unequal to any other. I have been places I never would have imagined being. I’ve done things that, as a kid, I never would have dreamed doing! Waiting on His plan in my life is the best thing for me to do.

Even the hard times have not been as bad as they could have been, because He has walked right beside me through each situation. I didn’t have to go through those times alone. His presence was always with me, and it is still today. The joys of life seem that much better and the sorrows of life aren’t as dark as they could be. Even those times when I felt I was at the bottom of a very dark hole, God was with me, so I wasn’t alone, and He let me crawl up into His lap and cry and pour my heart out to Him as He wrapped His arms around me. Even the hard times are part of His plan, and He allows them to show me how much I desperately need Him and rely on Him. In the mountain top experiences, He rejoiced with me, and life was one big party! Those times were just that much sweeter with Him at my side. Each step of my life is planned out by God, and it is for my good and for His Glory! He receives all the praise and honor for what He is accomplishing in my life. Praise God for His plan!