Is Your Name Written in Heaven?

Today’s Bible Journaling study is from Luke 10:20, “But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” (NLT) The disciples had gone out witnessing as Jesus told them to do, and He gave them instructions on how to minister. When they returned, they were rejoicing about the great things they were able to do, they had healed the sick, cast demons out of people, and did the same things Jesus did as He ministered to people. Jesus reminded them that the greatest miracle is not being able to make the demons subject to them, but the fact that their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life in Heaven…they were redeemed by Jesus’ blood and saved from the penalty of sin.

In this month of Thanksgiving, this is the greatest blessing…our salvation. Nothing compares to the peace and joy we receive once we have asked Jesus to be the Lord and Master of our lives. The blessing of knowing our sins are forgiven, we are washed in the blood of Jesus and are looking forward to an eternal life in Heaven with Him, is more than we can comprehend!

As awesome as that is, we are still living on planet earth, and God has given each of us a job to do, and it is up to us to fulfill that mandate. What is that job? Collectively, our job is to reach the lost! That is our primary focus. We aren’t meant to arrive in Heaven without bringing someone we have led to Jesus as well. That is the primary purpose of these posts. My hope is that someone will read these and realize their need of Jesus. The second purpose is to encourage Believers as they walk out their faith in Jesus daily.

Our first response to the question, “What will you do with Jesus?” is to take an account of our life. Have we accepted His sacrifice on the cross for our sins? Have we made a conscious decision to live for Him and allow Him to have total control of our lives? If not, today is a good day to do just that. II Corinthians 6:2 says, “…behold, now is the accepted time behold, now is the day of salvation.” Don’t wait, make your decision now. My first husband used to say, “Put your finger on your wrist and feel your pulse. We are only certain of this very moment that our heart will beat…we don’t know what the next minute will bring, or if we’ll even take our next breath!” Once our life is over, there is no more opportunity to make that decision. When we pray and ask Jesus to save us, come into our hearts and lives, and the ask forgiveness for our sins and promise to live for Him, He takes us into His family. We become a Child of God, and we inherit all that God has to offer us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We become new creatures in Christ, (II Corinthians 5:17), we are changed! The process is so simple even a child can do it!

Once we have decided to follow Christ, then our responsibility is to live for Him, let Him have complete control of our lives, and then witness…tell others about what Jesus has done for us, and offer encouragement to others. God also gives us gifts, talents, avenues of ministry to reach the lost. For me, God has gifted me the ability to play and sing music. He also has directed me to reach out through my posts and my Bible Journaling. For each one, the gift is designed to be specific to what they are the best at doing, to reach others for Jesus. For some it is the gift of hospitality. I know ladies that can put together a bash that would make a White House dinner look dim in comparison! Some are given the gifting of administration…our Pastor’s wife has this gift…she is the ultimate organizer, director, and planner! She keeps our church going on an even keel, everything is planned out and rolls smoothly! She’s a super access to our Pastor! Some are given the gift of teaching. They minister to the Body of Christ through teaching the Scriptures, helping us to understand concepts and principles in the Bible. Once you have found your gifting, pursue it with all diligence.

So, my encouragement to you, my dear readers, is to take stock of your life, is your name written in Heaven? If not, today is a good day to be sure that it is. Then live your life so that others may know that Jesus reigns in your heart and bring others to the foot of the cross to be redeemed.

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God is Able

 

Today we’re looking at II Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” (NIV) The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” What jumped out at me is, GOD IS ABLE!

That is such an encouragement for me. No matter what I’m going through, God is able! He is able to bless me above anything I can even dream of, He is able to hold me tight when I am going through a trial, He is able to guide me in wisdom, HE IS ABLE!

What a blessing to know that I don’t walk this walk alone, He is with me! I have Pandora on at the moment, and a little bit ago, it was playing, “Good, Good Father”, and that song just resonated with me. He is able because He loves me, and He is a good Father who desires to give me all that is good for me. When discouragement hits me, He is there to bring encouragement and remind me that I have peace, joy, grace, and salvation through Him and Him alone. When I am burdened, He is there to lighten the load, for He tells me to “take my yoke upon me and learn of me.” (Matthew 11:29 KJV)

As I write this, my heart is heavy. In the middle of working on this post, my sister emailed me to let me know that my nephew is in the hospital after a heroin overdose, and he almost died. How “on time” God is…to remind me that He is able, and then to hear news that could shake my foundation of faith in Him if it weren’t for that reminder that “He is able!” He can take my nephew and turn him 180° in the opposite direction, save his life, physically and spiritually, and set him on a new course. My faith in God is not shaken. I’ve already put my nephew on a couple of prayer boards, and I’ve heard from so many who have said they’ve been there, and sent me encouragement, and are praying for my family. How good God is to surround us with a body of Believers who uphold each other in prayer, give encouragement, and sometimes even wrap their arms around us physically to keep us on our feet.

That is such a great blessing from God! I am so grateful to Him for His care. He knows right where I am. He knows what is heavy on my heart, He knows just what I need, He knows! We do not serve a God who is distant from us, nor unconcerned with our lives and what we experience. He loves us with an everlasting love, He walks with us, His desire is to bless us immeasurably, and He is faithful!

As I just looked at the verse again, I notice it says that He is able to bless us abundantly so that at ALL TIMES we have what we need. Do you need encouragement? He is able. Do you need healing? He is able. Do you need financial freedom? He is able. Do you need peace? He is able. Do you need your marriage restored? He is able. Do you need chains broken? He is able. Whatever your need is…HE IS ABLE!

My friends, even in the depths of despair, GOD IS ABLE! Take courage and gain strength in the knowledge that God is able no matter what your situation. Reach out to Him and give Him whatever it is you need for Him to do for you. Remember, “the God of Angel Armies is always by your side!”

God will Bring the Rain

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Joel 2:23, “Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain He sends demonstrates His faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.” (NLT) The New American Standard Bible (NASB) puts it this way, “So rejoice, oh sons of Zion, And be glad in the Lord your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and the latter rain as before.”

The prophet Joel was giving the people of Israel a message from God, encouraging them to turn their hearts to Him, and He would give them blessings far above anything they could imagine. God demanded obedience, and when they disobeyed and went after other gods, punishment was inevitable. But the time for punishment was coming to an end and God was pleading for His people to return to Him, and when they did, He would pour out blessings as the rain!

When I think of the blessings as of rain, my mind goes to a real gully-washer! Rain pouring out of the sky, so hard and so fast, one can not even see! That’s how I see God’s blessings. We may be in a time of trial, but that trial will not last forever, and God promises to bless us as only He can.

For me at this point in my life, trial comes in the form of pain, I have pain all the time. Yesterday was a prime example. I was pretty much laid up all day long with pain. The pain was so bad, I couldn’t even do my Bible Journaling, and spent the whole day on a heating pad stuck in my recliner. But I know this will eventually end…either in a complete healing from God here on earth, or when I meet Him face to face. My hubby spent yesterday praying for the pain to leave me. I must say, I still have pain, but it isn’t like it was yesterday, so there is my blessing. Learning to live with pain is a day by day process. But I have a God who promises me it will not always be like this, and I can praise Him because He will bless me one day with a pain-free life.

Each of us has trials or we are walking in disobedience. But God will walk through the trials with us, desires for us to turn to Him in obedience, and promises blessings like the rain. Some rain comes as a sprinkle, just barely noticeable, other rain showers come as a steady, quiet rain, still others are an outright downpour! God’s blessings are also like that. Some come quietly, and sometimes we don’t even recognize them as blessings from God, others come where we have no doubt that God was the source, and still other blessings fall so fast and so quickly, that we become overwhelmed with the enormity of the blessings God has for us.

Notice in our Scripture, God says He will pour down the rain “as before.” That is a promise for us to hold on to. He’s telling us that just as He has blessed us before, He will bless us again. When we doubt that God will bless us, all we need to do is look at what He has done in the past and know that what He did then, He will do again.

God Blessed Them

Today I am looking at Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’” Adam and Eve had it made! God blessed them with everything they would ever need including a beautiful Garden to live in.

God created them and loved them so much that He gave them every blessing they would ever need. How awesome is that? Can you imagine not having to toil to get food…it was already there, all they needed to do was just pluck it off a tree. They didn’t have to worry about any need, it was already provided. There was no need of money, food was provided, a home was provided, and God gave them dominion over every living creature to take care of. That was Adam’s responsibility. God also gave him another responsibility, and that was to be obedient to God’s instruction, for there was one tree Adam and Eve were not to eat from.

However, God also gave them a free will, it was their decision to obey or not. Therefore, they became disobedient and because of their disobedience, God needed to punish them. They were banished from the Garden, God required an animal sacrifice for atonement, Adam had to toil to provide food for him and his wife, and Eve would go through pain in delivering her children. Even in this, God provided. He provided the animals needed for sacrifice, for food, for clothing, He provided the materials needed for a shelter. Despite Adam and Eve’s disobedience, He still provided blessings for them. He loved them and wanted to show His love by blessing them.

What I get from this is that even when we are disobedient, God still loves us, and He still blesses us. There will be punishment for our sin, but our sin doesn’t negate God’s blessings. There will be consequences, but He still blesses. The Bible says that it rains on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:45) God sends His blessings on those who love Him and those who don’t. Does that mean we can keep on sinning? No, God desires for us to repent for our sin and reestablish our relationship with Him. He is a good Father who wants to be in constant contact with His children, loving them, providing for them, blessing them.

I find that an encouragement. Even when I do something or say something that God is not pleased with, He still loves me, He still provides for me, He still wants to see me prosper in everything I do, He still wants me to come to Him for everything. He doesn’t turn His back on me, and when I’m so far away from Him, He guides me back to His side. In my despair, He wraps His arms around me and loves me. He protects me from the enemy and a lot of times, from myself.

I think that sometimes, we don’t see God’s blessings, we see our circumstances. When life gets hard, it is difficult to see that God is in the hard times, blessing us. It seems like He is so far away, but in reality, He is right by our side. He is waiting for us to look to Him for the solution. Many times, it isn’t God who moved, but us. We strayed from the pathway He laid out for us, and now we are struggling to find Him again. All during this time, He is ready to pour out blessing upon blessing over us when we acknowledge our need of Him. Be encouraged! God loves you no matter where you are in your walk with Him, and He wants to bless you!

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!

The Beatitudes – Blessed Are You

Today’s Bible Journaling is dealing with the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:1-11, “One day as He saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went upon the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around Him and He began to teach them. ‘God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the Children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of things against you because you are My followers.’” (NLT)

In this month of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for God’s blessings, and for the most part I think we consider mostly the physical things but tend to see the Spiritual blessings as maybe not as important, or maybe taking a close second. My devotion asked the question, “Which beatitude speaks to you the most?” I really struggled with that. Because like most people, I considered the physical things immediately as important…food, housing, financial freedom, good health, but the Spiritual things didn’t come immediately to mind.

When I look at the Beatitudes, the blessings are things that touch the Spirit of our being. The more I looked at them, the more I began to realize something. The very first Beatitude seemed to be the basis of blessing for the rest. Blessed are we who realize that we NEED Jesus, for the Kingdom of Heaven is ours. Without Jesus, everything else just can not be possible. When we mourn, the Bible says Believers don’t mourn as others, because we have the hope of seeing our loved one again if they have accepted Jesus as their Savior, and we find comfort in that. Unbelievers don’t have that hope or that comfort. Those who are humble will inherit the earth. Humility comes from God. As Christians, we have inherited His attribute of humility. The world says, “Look at me!” and they disregard those who are meek or humble as being wimps, someone to ridicule and demean.

God blesses the pure in heart for they will see God. This, to me, speaks of our salvation and the relationship we have with Him. As Christians, our desire should be to have a continuous, close relationship with Jesus, for the Bible says He is the best friend we could ever have. (Proverbs 18:24) God blesses peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God. True peace comes only through a relationship with God and His son, Jesus, and listening to His Holy Spirit guide us. When we have His peace, we have the means to show peace and diffuse situations where there is no peace, because His peace is within us.

God blesses those who are persecuted for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. For those of us who live in countries like the United States, we don’t see too much in the way of persecution. But in other countries where being a Christian is a crime, persecution is a way of life. Some are persecuted to the point of death. Voice of the Martyrs is an organization that reaches out to those who are persecuted. The stories are heartbreaking, but I have heard stories where, because God has blessed them with a determination to keep following Him no matter what, and in the very end of their lives, they boldly proclaim Jesus as Lord, God gives them grace to face those horrific trials.

The last Beatitude I tend to put together with the persecuted. Because it talks about how God blesses us when people mock us, lie about us, and do evil against us because of our stand for Christ. In the U.S., that’s more the kind of persecution we face. We are truly blessed to live in a country where we can freely worship God without fear of the military breaking down our church doors and arresting every Believer. We have no idea what those in other countries face. I truly believe that, as Christians in the United States and other countries like ours, we need to ask God for forgiveness for being so self-righteous, smug even, in thinking that we deserve to live here and not face assault from the enemy of our souls. We should be thankful beyond measure that God has placed us in this land of freedom, and then pray for those who suffer needlessly for their faith.

Today, take stock of the Spiritual blessings God has granted. Our salvation is so precious because it was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. The least we can do is live a life of gratitude for everything we receive. Our salvation is the greatest blessing that God could ever bestow upon us!

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.