My Heart is Full!

Today, I am deviating from the normal Christmas entry for this month. My heart is so full because God has answered my prayers. I have been praying for my family for a very long time, some are not Christians, some I’m not sure, and some are very solid in their faith. One, has been going through a struggle because of an issue in the family that has come to a crisis. The first thing they did was contact me and let me know what was happening. They were completely sidelined by the issue and began reaching out to me for help.

They asked for Scripture to help them through, anything that would give them answers. So, I gave them a packet of material from the Christian Network I used to work for, which included pamphlets on reading the Bible, becoming a Christian, things that would help them out. They assured me that they had a Bible and had tried to find Scriptures to give them hope, but they were having a difficult time. I gave them Scriptures to start with and encouraged them to continue seeking God’s Word for help. I also gave them information to help in the crisis.

They told me they were planning on going to a local church for a Christmas concert. That alone sent me flying! They haven’t been in church in years! They posted on social media that they had gone and really enjoyed it! Praise God! So, I wrote to them and asked how things were going. They told me they were reading the book of John, a chapter a day, and using Bible study helps to help them get understanding. But, the 17th chapter of John was a little confusing for them. They asked me if I could help them understand. So, I emailed to them and tried to help them understand what the chapter was about.

They also told me that they were continuing to go to the local church where they had gone for the Christmas concert. They told me that they had found the website for the church and they were looking at past sermons. Today, my heart is so full of praise to God! He has answered my prayers. They are actively searching and desiring to be in God’s Word and seeking to be in church to gain more understanding about Who God is and why He loves them so much!

Today my heart was searching for Scripture to Journal to express my joy and gratitude for God’s Faithfulness in answering prayer. I found Psalm 118:21, “I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation.”

What a loving, faithful Father we have! He knows our hearts, He knows our desires, He knows our struggles, He knows our joys, and He answers our prayers! He is a Good, Good Father! I’m on the verge of tears! Thank you, Jesus, for being so faithful, for loving my family member so much that You will do anything to draw them back to you. I’m thinking about how I can journal so much joy, and I’m really struggling with what to do. But I know one thing! God is Faithful!

At Christmas time many are in despair. It is not a happy time for them. Many have lost loved ones, some are dealing with depression, or do not have a good relationship with family members and getting together just brings strife. I’m here to tell you that God knows all about it and if you will only tell Him what is on your heart, He will answer! Right now, the song, “You Never Let Go” is playing and it just verifies the fact that God loves us so much that He won’t let go of us and He will answer our prayers, He will walk with us through joy, sorrow, struggles, good times and bad. He is FAITHFUL!

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Why a Virgin Birth?

As we enter the Christmas Season, our thoughts usually are consumed by all the hustle and bustle of this time of year. Shopping and parties, baking and planning cause us to become hurried and we end up losing our focus of what the Season is all about. Today’s Bible Journaling is from Luke 1:31, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.” Many people tend to not believe the Virgin birth of Jesus. But, as the devotional for this journal observed, without Jesus being born of a virgin, the story would be about “a sinful girl, who got pregnant, was fortunate enough to avoid being stoned to death, who raised her son, and then watched him get slaughtered.” If that was truly the case, we would have nothing to rejoice about. Jesus would have been born as a sinful human and would not have been a worthy sacrifice for our sins. The truth of the matter is, Mary was a virgin, overcome by the Holy Spirit of God, and she became pregnant by God’s overshadowing of her. Therefore, Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, became the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

I am so grateful to God for His plan! His plan of salvation is perfect. No one born in the conventional manner would have been able to take the punishment for our sins. As humans, we are all born in sin. Adam’s sin has been passed down over the generations, and our sins must be paid for with a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was the only perfect sacrifice to die a horrible, cruel, death as punishment for our sins. God chose a chaste, Godly young woman to be the mother of His Son. Mary was such an honorable woman and she loved God with all her heart. She was the perfect choice!

As I read this Bible verse, my thoughts were drawn to the fact that because of the virgin birth, Jesus is my Savior! True, it was my choice to invite Him to be my Lord and Savior, but even before I accepted Jesus as my Savior, was already my Savior and my Salvation!
No one else could take His place as my sacrifice…heaven knows, I sure couldn’t! Jesus lived a completely sinless life, making Him the perfect sacrifice.

I can’t begin to imagine what Mary went through. In those days, being pregnant out of wedlock was a crime punishable by death. The law required that she should be stoned. However, Joseph, to whom she was engaged, decided not to humiliate her publicly, but was going to divorce her quietly. In those days, an engagement was almost the same as marriage without the benefit of living together. I’m sure the town gossips had a field day! Mary had to endure the gossip and the ridicule, the scorn, and the shame of being pregnant without being married. But she believed that God would see her through. She trusted His plan and did not turn away but remained steadfast in her faith that God knew what He was doing, and she was honored to be part of His plan. Joseph was warned by an angel sent from God not to divorce her, but to go ahead and marry her. I wonder what the town gossips thought about that? They must have either felt sorry for Joseph, or thought he was some kind of fool. But, little did they know that this was all part of God’s plan.

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, it is a good thing to think of what that virgin birth means. It means salvation for all mankind, it means we have a God who loves us so much that He planned a way to redeem our souls from sin. It means we can have joy, peace, and a life filled with God’s love, and strength to live every day for Him.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, this is the perfect time! You will have a new life, be born again, and you can experience a love that mere human’s can not give. Ask Jesus to come into your heart, for He stands at your heart’s door knocking, asking if you will let Him in. (Revelation 3:20) He will replace the emptiness inside and give you peace.

Take Account of His Blessings – Part 2

 

Psalm5112Today we’re continuing in this series. Our Scripture for today is Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit.” (World English Bible – WEB) Yesterday we talked about Samson and how he lost God’s blessing of power with God. Today, we are looking at David. Psalm 51 is the chapter where David calls out to God in repentance for his sin with Bathsheba and for killing Uriah, her husband. David is in agony. He had lost God’s blessing of the joy of his salvation. His relationship with God was hindered.

David was known as a “man after God’s own heart”. He had a very personal relationship with God, and when he sinned, he lost that close connection. This brought about a very dark time for David. He is crying out for God to forgive him and restore his joy, to create in him “a clean heart.” (Psalm 51:10) David is begging God not to turn away from him and remove His presence from him.

We can lose God’s blessing of joy. God’s joy should be full, there should be “unspeakable joy” (I Peter 1:8), we should have exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:13) When our joy is restored, we receive power from God. We can stand firm in the face of the enemy because God’s joy gives us the power to withstand Satan’s attacks.

Like Samson, David’s fall came about from what he saw, but then David went a step further and acted on what he saw. Actually, I think his fall started when he decided to stay home instead of going to war, “at the time when kings go to war” (II Samuel 11:1 KJV) If he would have done what he was supposed to do he never would have come to this point. Sin will take you down a road you don’t want to go. Your destination will never be what you think it will be. Satan makes the journey look like a vacation, but in the end, the reality is misery and separation from God’s presence and the loss of His blessing of joy.

Losing God’s blessing of joy can come gradually. In fact, it can be so gradual that we never even recognize that we are walking away from God and losing His blessing. We can keep on that trail and then all of a sudden, it seems, we find ourselves at a place we don’t want to be, wondering how we got there. Then, like David, we cry out in agony for God to restore His joy and forgive us so that we can reconnect with Him. This is the time when we need to take account of where we are with God. Take stock of whether we have strayed and lost His blessings, and then repent and keep close to Him.

Sometimes, we can do all the right things, and yet our attitudes are not right. We can be lackadaisical in how we live for God, whether we keep our relationship on a good footing, studying the Word, praying, attending church, fellowshipping with other Believers, and reaching out to those who need Jesus by witnessing of His great love, mercy, and grace.

From time to time we need to evaluate our walk with the Lord. Is our attitude proper…it is all about Him and not us? Are our Christian actions done out of duty or out of love for God and what He has done for us? How concerned are we that people know Jesus as Savior? All these things give us an indication of our heart condition and it also tells us if we have lost God’s blessings. Where do we stand with God? Have we walked away or are we keeping our relationship with Him close and strong? Take stock of your life…where are you with God?

Abundant Blessings

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Isaiah 58:8, “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.” (NLT) The very first thought that struck me was, “My salvation will come like the dawn.” Dawn is a very special time. I’m not an early riser, but I have seen a few sunrises, and they have been spectacular! I’m always amazed at the artistry of God! They are so special when you see them. Our salvation is like that, special, precious even!

As I said yesterday, our salvation is the greatest blessing that God could ever bestow upon us. God loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him and be part of His family. He is concerned with every part of our lives. Once we have become His children, He sets us on a journey with Him. Sometimes He smooths out rough places in our walk with Him, and in the times when He doesn’t, He walks with us, sometimes carrying us, through those difficulties.

Today has been a little difficult because I’ve been easily distracted, and it’s taken me a long time to get my thoughts together. I had a hard time figuring out how to display this thought of salvation coming like dawn. I asked my husband for his input, and he saw this verse from a totally different perspective. For Him what stood out was the end of the verse, “the Lord will protect you from behind.” I had already done the background of my page, a scene with a sunrise, meadow, creek, and a lamb. He said, “What about the Shepherd? He protects the sheep.” Another blessing from God! I looked at the verse again and I saw another blessing…healing!

In this one verse I see three blessings from God! His salvation, His healing, and His protection. These are all evidence of God’s love for us and that also is a blessing! God is so amazing! He overwhelms us with His blessings. There are so many that it is hard to count them all. What more can we do but to lift our voices in praise to Him!

Even in times of discouragement, God blesses us. He gives us fellow Believers to walk along with us and encourage us. He is our rock, our fortress, and yes, He is our Shepherd! When we don’t know what to do or where to go, He guides us. He brings joy, peace, and strength during times when we are despondent, in turmoil and feel weak.

He blesses us with family who love us, He provides for our needs financially, physically, and Spiritually, and if it is good for us, He will even bless us with our wants. He brings healing – physical, emotional, and Spiritual, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

My heart is full of thankfulness for His overwhelming mercy and grace to me. I don’t deserve all the things He does for me, but He does it all because of His love for me. Many times, I fail Him, but He is always quick to forgive and set me back on the right path to continue my journey with Him, and even to witness some of those amazing sunrises He creates!

We must have hearts full of gratitude for our loving Father as we think of His lovingkindness to us. I’m so glad there is a whole month designated to being thankful, because often we don’t realize just how blessed we truly are, and this is a good time to take stock of all God has done for us. Thank you, Jesus, for your blessings!

God Supplies

 

Today we are looking at Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.” This is a verse that is so familiar to Believers, that I think we sometimes just rattle it off without really thinking about what it says. When I first look at this verse, I notice something that I think most people either skip right over or don’t really consider. Notice that the Apostle Paul says that God will supply all our NEEDS, not necessarily our WANTS. I may want a lot of things, but they may not be good for me, so therefore; God will not supply anything that would do me harm.

When I look at my life, I see that God has indeed supplied every need I have. I have food on my table, I have a house to live in, my finances are in good shape, He gave me a husband to share my life with, a family that loves me, and He has directed me to a church family that surrounds me and upholds me in times of distress and in times of victory and joy. All these things are things that I NEED. My wants can get out of hand and will bring joy for only a short time, and then they are quickly forgotten and possibly even discarded.

God supplies Spiritual gifts also. He gives me salvation, peace, joy, strength, courage, and a friendship that goes beyond anything I can experience. As I stated yesterday, the gift of salvation is the greatest blessing we can receive. Because of that blessing we can then walk in victory, joy, peace, and have a relationship with Him that is everlasting.

The second thing I notice in the verse is, He gives according to HIS riches. He has riches far above anything we can even imagine. So, the best thing that we can imagine for ourselves is nothing compared to what He has for us. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We sometimes find ourselves in a period where we are discouraged, nothing seems to be going our way, life is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at us, and we come to a point of only looking at our circumstances and not looking at the Savior, who can help us overcome those circumstances. We don’t see the blessings He has already provided, and we become mired down in the pit of discontentment, complaining that nothing is going our way, and throw a 2-year old’s temper tantrum, shaking our fists at God, stomping our feet on the floor saying, “I want it MY way!”

It is then that we need to stop, take account of ourselves, count our blessings, ask for forgiveness, and thank Him for all He has done for us, then lift our voices in praise to God for His unsurpassable riches and blessings!

Being thankful for what we have has added benefits. Our spirits are made lighter, we find joy in everything around us, the sun seems to shine a little brighter, friendships are a little dearer, physically, we seem to enjoy better health, and we find a contentment that settles into peace in our hearts. God has given us more than we can ever desire. Today is a good day to thank Him for all He has done, all He is, and all He has given.

Be Grateful for God’s Blessings

Today we start a new devotion on blessings. Today’s Bible verse is Genesis 1:22, ‘“God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”’ (NASB) November is the month when our hearts turn to being thankful for the many blessings God has given us. This is the first blessing from God in the Bible. Today as I reflect on our verse, I am so grateful for God’s work in my life.

As I think about how He has blessed me, I am so thankful for the husband he brought to me in my later years. The man makes me laugh! That is such a blessing after spending such a long time in grief, despair, loneliness, and depression. I am so grateful to God for bringing me two amazing men to share life with. My first husband was my anchor…he kept me from flying off in all directions, and he taught me so many things, in the natural and Spiritually, that have stayed with me. My second husband is my joy. As I said, he makes me laugh and he is a solid Bible scholar. They both have added to my life immensely. Not many people can say they have had two awesome husbands who loved the Lord with all their hearts, were called by God to minister, one in broadcasting and the other in literature evangelism and hosting a website of commentaries on different books of the Bible. Both men have been a huge blessing in my life.

God has also chosen to bless me with a calling of ministry in my life as well, and my husband has been such an encouragement! He backs everything I do and lifts me up in prayer daily. This is an area I never would have dreamed of launching. It started with a prophetic word being spoken over me, and then God just opened doors for me to step through. At this point, it is just a small beginning, but I know this is where God wants me because He has given me such a peace in my heart as I minister.

There was a time when it was hard for me to see the blessings God had granted me. Life wasn’t looking all that great and I was in a deep hole. But as I look back, I’m grateful for that time even though it wasn’t easy, because I can see how God was taking care of me, holding me, guiding each footstep, and slowly, but surely, leading me out of that pit of despair I was in. Today, even though it is raining outside and gloomy, I’m walking in the sunshine of God’s love and mercy.

Being grateful isn’t just for Thanksgiving time, it’s for every day! The Bible says that we are to live with gratefulness in our hearts. Psalm 136: 1-3 says,” Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the God of gods, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (NASB) I Thessalonians 5:18, says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Gratefulness for the things God has given us helps us, not only physically, but Spiritually as well. When we focus our eyes upon what things God has done for our good, we see that we are truly blessed despite the difficulties we may be facing. Gratefulness promotes good health. Those who are living lives of gratefulness are less likely to be facing physical ailments. Gratefulness also brings health to our Spiritual lives. We are more likely to keep our eyes on the Savior instead of the circumstances, thereby allowing us to walk in victory even though life may be hard. So today, even though it may be difficult, say “thank you” to God. Think about all the things He has provided that are working out for your good. (Romans 8:28)

A Willing Spirit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (KJV) As I read this I looked at other translations and found kind of a revelation to me. The Living Bible says, “make me willing to obey You.” That jumped out at me. God’s free Spirit makes us willing to obey Him!

Joy comes from God! When we receive His joy, it makes us willing to be obedient to Him. We are then walking in the pathway He has laid out before us. That pathway may have a few twists and turns, potholes and otherwise, not so comfortable situations, but we know that His way is always the best for us.

To give a little background on this Scripture, Psalm 51 is David’s heartfelt prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. When you read the entire chapter, you can just feel the despair and broken heartedness of David. Nathan has confronted David with his sin, and now David knows he must ask for forgiveness to be right with God and continue to be a “man after God’s own heart.”

The devotion today points out that it is ok to ask for your joy to be restored. John 16:24 says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (NIV) It’s God’s desire that we have joy in our hearts despite the circumstances or station we find ourselves in life. He is more than willing to restore joy into our hearts when we ask Him.

Another thing that popped out at me was that when we are obedient, we have joy! We die to our own desires and wants and change our desires for what God wants in our lives. Everything in life traces back to obedience to God’s will. When we are on the right track we have joy, peace, and contentment. We are in a good place with Him at our side.

Do we get ourselves off track and sin? Sure we do! We’re not perfect! We will make mistakes and sometimes become down right rebellious. But the great thing is, God is always there to offer forgiveness, set us on the right track, and gives us a second chance.

We must have a spirit that is willing to ask for forgiveness and endeavor to be obedient to His plan and will for our lives. Sometimes obedience doesn’t come easy, especially if we are stubborn in wanting our own way. Yep, that’s me! Stubborn could be my middle name! The hard part is getting rid of the stubbornness and being pliable in God’s Hands to be molded to what it is He wants us to become.

Another thing I began to think about is that becoming pliable requires us to make an active determination to be obedient and willing to follow God and His ways by getting rid of those things in our lives that is a hindrance to our growth and witness. Words and actions must line up, as well as attitudes. The key for me is, have I allowed Jesus to shine in me so that others see Him, or do they see me in all my sin and stubbornness and disobedience? Does my behavior and attitude show Christ in everything I do and say? When we can say yes to that last question, then we can have the joy and peace that is rightfully ours as children of God.

The more we seek God’s will for our lives and search out His joy, we can know we are walking in obedience and following His pathway for our lives. His plan is always good, and He has a plan for each one of us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Following His plan brings us joy!