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!

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Saved By Grace

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Acts 15:11, “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (NASB)

To give a little background on this verse, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas had been ministering to the Gentiles and many were being saved through their preaching. Acts 15:1 says, “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” (NASB) This brought confusion and arguing among the congregation, some saying circumcision was not required and some saying that it was. Paul and Barnabas were commissioned by the congregation to go to Jerusalem to talk to the elders of the church concerning this issue. As Paul is explaining, he appeals to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (NASB)

There were some in the church who wanted to require a strict adherence to the law in addition to being saved by grace. They advocated a grace plus works salvation. God never placed that upon us as Believers, and I for one am grateful. We can do nothing to obtain our salvation, it is given as a free gift from God with no strings attached. If someone gave you a present and then required something of you in order to receive that gift, then it would not be freely given, there would be strings attached…something you would have to do to receive it. In my book, that’s not a gift, that is a duty, something to be earned by your actions.

I have been in churches that required a strict adherence to their denomination’s book of laws as a requirement for salvation. Trust me when I say, I’ve never seen such unhappy, joyless people. They were under a yoke, a burden, that they were unable to bear. Regulations on outward appearance, requirements of things that must be done to appear holy. Perfection was the goal…I am here to tell you that no one is perfect, and God most certainly does not expect us to be perfect. We are not required to clean ourselves up before coming to Jesus and asking for forgiveness and salvation.

I am so thankful that my salvation comes freely by grace. Oh, how much God loves us! Because of His great love for us, salvation is free! We can live our lives for Him without worrying about whether we are measuring up to a set of laws that are impossible to keep. Does He require us to live a holy life? Absolutely! But we do the works because of our love for Him, and as proof of what God has done in our lives. (James 2:17) We are not bound by man-made laws demanding us to live a life that is impossible and brings no joy or peace. His salvation to us is offered freely. His grace is extended to us because of His love for us.

Grace – God’s Gift

Today our Bible Journaling takes us to Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.” (CSB) As I was doing the journaling in my Bible, I was drawn to the little mouse band. They are so full of joy and thoroughly enjoying making music! I can relate! I play my flute on the Worship team at our church, and sometimes I will sing. My heart is so full of gratefulness for God and His goodness that it must come out in my music!

Our Scripture today explains why we as Believers are filled with gratefulness and joy. His grace to us in saving us from our sins is a gift to us. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, nothing we can do to secure a place in Heaven, nothing! The Apostle Paul writes to Titus that we are justified by God’s grace. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines justification as “the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It is a legal term signifying acquittal …” I have heard justification defined as “just as if we had never sinned.” This is God’s gift to us. We are washed clean, totally transformed (regenerated), and made an heir of Jesus…we are brothers and sisters of Christ. My little mouse band is playing it’s heart out for the joy of knowing our sins are forgiven by God’s gift of Grace.

God showered His mercy upon us by offering a perfect sacrifice for our sin! That is the most awesome gift He could ever give us. So, how do we show our gratitude toward God for what He has done for us? Must I do works to ensure that I maintain that place in God’s family? No, the works I do are an offering of gratefulness and love for everything He has done for me. Works also show others our faith. James tells us that we are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. (James 1:22) Our works are not to show off to others how good or holy we are, but to reveal the love for God in our hearts. We must be careful however; because we can slip into the trap of deceiving ourselves in thinking we are righteous before God because of our works, when in fact, we are just showing off to others, and we end up playing at religion and not exhibiting a faithful walk with the Lord.

Our works should be a show of what has happened inside. It should reveal the work God has done in our hearts. I think there should be a time for us to stop and take an account of why we are doing what we do. Are we doing work for God to look good to others or are we working to bring others to know Jesus because of our gratefulness to Him for what He has done for us? All the good works we can do, things like feeding the poor, helping the sick and afflicted, visiting those in prison, etc., must be an expression of our love for Christ, and used as a tool to draw others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

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.

The Hope of Resurrection

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Acts 24:14-15, “But I admit that I follow the Way, which they call a cult. I worship the God of our ancestors, and I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets. I have the same hope in God that these men have that he will raise both he righteous and the unrighteous.” (NLT) If we read on to the 16th verse, Paul tells Felix, the governor, “Because of this I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people.” (NLT)

Paul had been in Jerusalem preaching. This stirred up the Pharisees and the High Council, and a riot was about to erupt, and the captain of the guard took Paul into custody to protect him. There were Jews threatening to kill him. Paul’s nephew heard the plan and had his nephew tell the commander of the guard. The commander and 200 of his soldiers took Paul to Caesarea to go before Felix the governor.

Paul presented his case before the governor. Paul explains that he follows Jesus (the Way) and worships the God of the Jews and follows Jewish law. He tells Felix that he has the same hope in God as his accusers, that God will raise Believer and unbeliever alike in the resurrection and maintains a clear conscience by living a life consecrated to God. He wanted to be an example of righteous living before man and God.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we have the hope of resurrection and to be with Him for eternity. Like Paul, we should desire to live in a manner that will give glory to God and be an example to those around us of why we hope in God. The hope we have for the resurrection is not what saves us. Salvation comes in belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, in His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. As we endeavor to live for Him, we should desire to live a holy life before all around us, showing how Jesus has changed us and how our reliance upon His grace brings us hope.

You will notice, Paul mentions resurrection for the righteous and unrighteous. There will be a resurrection not only for Christians, but non-Christians also. One resurrection is to eternal life and one resurrection is to eternal death. I’ve heard people say that once we die, that’s it. However, if we look at Scripture, it talks of a life for Believers and a life for unbelievers, one in Heaven and one in Hell.

Hell was never designed for people, it was created for Satan and his demons. But God gave us free will. It is our decision to accept Jesus into our hearts and live for Him. The hope of the Believer is one of joy, peace, and knowing that one day we will spend eternity with Jesus. The unbeliever has no such hope. There is only death, destruction and an eternity of torment. We all have a hope of resurrection; the question is, which resurrection will it be?

A Call to Holy Living

Today’s Bible Journaling is from I Peter 1:13-14, “Therefore, with your minds be ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.” (CSB) I recently journaled on the 13th verse, but today’s “musings” is focusing on both verses. In the CSB version I picked up on something I didn’t see the last time I journaled this passage.

We have already talked about taking action when going about fulfilling the goals we have set for ourselves. But what stood out to me today was a list of things that we must accomplish to live a holy life. The first thing is to be ready to act. Planning comes before everything. What steps will we take to accomplish this thing? Part of planning also involves prayer, asking God to help us reach the goal we have set for ourselves.

The next step is to set our hope on grace. Peter says, “set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” When we see Jesus revealed it brings us hope. We then realize that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NASB) He gives us the strength and the ability to accomplish our goal. Spiritually, when we are attempting to become like Jesus, changing attitudes or behavior, the strength He gives us to be successful in living a life that is holy and well pleasing, is what helps us as we realize it is through His grace that we are able to do what He is asking of us.

We then must be obedient to what it is He requires of us, and that can be combined with the next point. We are not to be conformed to the fleshly desires of our past life. Those are the things that have kept us away from God and hindered our relationship with Him. Obedience is a dying to the fleshly desires of the past. Look at the word “Obedience”, right in the middle of the word is another word, “die.” We are to die to our own selfish desires, turn direction, and live a life holy and pleasing to God. That is an act of our will. We must intentionally decide to die to the old habits and behaviors, and change our way of thinking, our attitude, our behavior, and our allegiance. Disobedience is to follow the enemy’s ways. This can lead us into areas of discontentment, dissatisfaction, loss of peace and joy, and misery. Obedience brings a whole new perspective on things, and brings us contentment, joy, peace, and a strengthened walk with the Lord.

If we read I Peter 1:15, Peter says that “as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct.” Our attitude, how we act and speak, reflects who is sitting on the throne of our heart. We are to daily evaluate ourselves to see if we are sitting on that throne or if we are allowing God to sit on there. When we allow Him to be the Lord, Master, and King of our lives, we find we can accomplish what He is asking us to do. It takes a mind and attitude that is totally surrendered to Jesus.

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.