His Love Leads Us

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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God’s Love

In this month of February, we are focusing on love, particularly God’s love for us. I John 4:8-10 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (CSB)

God’s ultimate demonstration of His love for us was the sacrificial death on the cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus did this because of His great love for us. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NASB) When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, God’s love is put in us, and we should exhibit that love to everyone in our realm of influence. John says that anyone who doesn’t love, does not know God. That means we are to love our enemies as well as our friends and family. Loving our enemy is not easy, it isn’t supposed to be. It’s a conscious choice. By choosing to love our enemies, those who have hurt us, those who seem to delight in our failures, we are exhibiting God’s love for them.

Jesus set the example for us. Even when He was being beaten and hung on a cross, His love showed for those who tortured Him. He asked God, the Father, to forgive them. If He can forgive those who killed Him, we can forgive those who come against us in horrific ways. It may not be easy, but He is with us and will help us to show love to those who are against us. In this way, we can show the light of God to those around us.

I look around at the world we live in today. I see so much hatred, violence, discord, and complete anarchy. The Bible says the end times will be as in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26), and we are seeing it played out right in front of our eyes. My sister emailed me today and shared a news story. In the city where she lives, a police officer was shot and killed while delivering a search warrant. This is the third officer shot in the last eight months in that city. I can remember growing up there, you hardly ever heard of a police shooting. In fact, you hardly ever heard of a shooting! But today, violence is out of control. These people do not have love, and it shows in their actions and in their speech. My heart breaks for this police officer’s family. The pain they must be going through is unimaginable!

The only solution to this epidemic is God! I know it probably sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. Without the love of God in the hearts of people, there is no peace, no light, no harmony; there is only pain, darkness, violence, hatred, and confusion.

We can rejoice in the love God shows toward us. He shows us in so many ways- Salvation (John 3:16), blessings above and beyond anything we can even imagine (Ephesians 3:20), guiding us through the pathway and plans He has set before us (Jeremiah 29:11), and the promise of being with Him in Heaven one day (John 14:1-3). God is the ultimate in love, for He IS love!

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.

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.

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.

 

God Keeps His Promises

Today’s Bible Journaling is from II Corinthians 1:20, “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God.” (CSB) Today has been one of those days…I am convinced that there is something about this study that the enemy doesn’t want brought out. I woke up this morning and took a bath and when I got out of the tub and got dressed, I got so dizzy I could barely stand. My hubby had to help me to a chair and bring my hair dryer and things so I could dry my hair and then brought my vitamins and medicine and breakfast to me because I could hardly stand up without the room spinning. After sitting for a while, eating my breakfast, taking my meds, and drying my hair, I began to feel better. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, my hubby went downstairs to the basement only to discover that the sewer had backed up into our basement and left about 4 inches of water down there.

All these things have been a distraction this morning and have made it hard to concentrate on my journaling. I said something to my hubby about how I thought this was a Spiritual attack, and we prayed together and rebuked Satan’s attempt at distracting us from what God had called us to do, my hubby and his work on his commentary on the book of Revelation and me from my Bible Journaling and blog.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I look at the Scripture and am reminded first of all that God has made promises to us. The second thing I am reminded of is that God keeps His promises. Every promise He has made in the past, He has fulfilled. There are promises for the future that we can be certain that He will make good. His promises are “Yes!” That means He intends to keep that promise! We can trust Him! He will never turn His back on us, He will never make a promise and then break it. Because of that we can say, “AMEN!” God will receive the glory because others will see how God has kept His promises in our lives.

With the situation today, God has always promised His protection. The water leakage could have been much worse, running into the house, but thankfully it didn’t because God has promised protection over us and our property. My illness could have been much worse, causing me to go to the hospital, but it wasn’t because God had His Hand on me and in effect, told the dizziness, “This far and no farther.”

The same is regarding the devices Satan tries to bring into our lives to distract us from following God. I think of Job and the trials he had. Satan wanted to throw everything including the kitchen sink at him to prove to God that Job would turn his back on God. But God gave Satan limits…God told Satan that he could do what he wanted but he couldn’t take Job’s life. (Job 1:6-12) Satan does have power, but he can only do what God allows. That should give us peace because we know that Satan is allowed to do only so much, even though it seems like the end of the world, God will not let him totally destroy us.

We can trust God because of His promises. We can trust that He will fulfill those promises, we can trust that we are safely in His Hand. We can have faith that whatever happens, God is with us and we can run to Him for security and safety. He is our Abba Father and He loves us. He will not allow anything to happen to us that isn’t under His protection or will. Are you facing trials that seem to destroy you? Trust God, He promises to keep you in the safety of His Hand. Has He kept promises He made to you? Then give Him praise and relate those fulfilled promises to those around you. Not only will it encourage you, it will encourage others also.

Jesus, the Lamb of God

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (KJV) At first glance, this seems to be a strange verse to equate with Christmas, but when we really understand why Jesus came, it fits perfectly. Often, we don’t think about Christ’s sacrifice when we think about the Baby in the manger. However, the two are so interconnected that we really cannot separate them.

God had a plan set up to save us from the very foundation of the earth. He needed a way to deal with sin. There had to be a punishment for rebellion against Him, for after all, that is exactly what sin is…rebellion against God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (KJV) Every single one of us has had rebellion in our hearts toward God. When we decide in our hearts to disobey God, there is a consequence, and with that consequence comes a penalty. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (KJV) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

We cannot pay the penalty for our sin. We cannot work our way into salvation, we can’t buy our way into salvation, only through Jesus’ sacrifice are we redeemed, are we made pure. God requires a perfect sacrifice, without blemish, without sin, pure, and by the shedding of blood from that sacrifice. There was only one who could fulfil those requirements, and that was Jesus. Jesus, who was born of a virgin, the Holy Son of God, who walked this earth and experienced everything we do, and who knows just what we go through, yet He was perfect. The book of Hebrews says He experienced everything we do “yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 KJV)

The four Gospels look at Jesus from different vantage points. The book of Matthew shows Jesus as our King, the book of Mark views Him as the Servant, the book of Luke shows Him as the “Son of Man”, whereby Jesus shows His compassion toward those who are considered outcasts, and the book of John shows Jesus as the Son of God. All these attributes of Christ are given to us so that we understand more clearly Who He is, What He came to do, and Why He came to do it.

Without the Cross, Jesus’ birth is just another baby that was born. Without Jesus’ birth as the Son of God, His death on the Cross would just be another execution. The two are tied together. Jesus’ story is complete only when we include His miraculous birth and His redeeming death on the Cross.

Then, once we know and understand Jesus’ plan for us, we have a decision to make. What will we do with this information, what will we do with Jesus? We must choose to accept His loving sacrifice. He took the penalty for our sin to save us from having to meet that requirement of death for our sin. What better way to celebrate His birth than to accept Him as our Lord and Savior!

Dear reader, if you have never chosen to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, now is the perfect time! Just pray and ask Him to come into your heart, to be the ruler of your life, to forgive you of your sins, to cleanse you from all of your sin, past, present, and future, and then promise to allow Him to be the Master of your life, and to follow Him all the days of your life, serving Him in all that you do. My friend, He will do just that, and as He takes over, you will find peace, joy, and contentment.