Have You Any Room?

Today I want to continue with the verse we studied yesterday, Luke 2:7, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (NASB) Yesterday we talked about celebrating Jesus’ birth. Today I want to focus on the last part of this verse. As I explained yesterday, Mary and Joseph had to take refuge in a stable because there was no room at the inn for them, even though Mary was about to give birth.

Because of the census being taken, every inn was completely full in Bethlehem. How unsettling that must have been for Mary and Joseph. I can relate! Back in the 1990s, my first husband, Allen, and I went on a “driving vacation.” We only had a week and we decided to head from Montana down to Las Vegas, through Arizona, New Mexico, and back to Montana. Allen wasn’t one for making reservations in advance, much to my dismay. We managed fine until we got to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was something like 2:00 in the morning, we couldn’t find any motels that had rooms within a 100-mile radius, because, much to our surprise, the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival was taking place and every hotel, motel, and camping spot was taken. We found a motel in a not so good part of town, pulled in, and the counter clerk said they had no rooms available, especially since we had brought our dogs with us. Then, he said, “I have a room that you may be able to take.” He took us to this room, and there on the floor was someone’s suitcase. I said, “This room is already taken.” Then he took us to another room, and it was like the room from Hell! It looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in months. Dirt was everywhere, it had a kitchenette and the refrigerator had spoiled food in it, the bathroom was dirty, and the bed looked like someone had been sleeping in it. On top of that, there were people out in the parking lot that I could swear were doing drug deals. Needless to say, we left our dogs in the car! I told Allen to bring our sleeping bags in and lay them on the bed because there was no way I was getting into that bed between the sheets! The kicker to it all was the name of the motel…Desert Oasis! Wow!

As bad as that was, Mary and Joseph had it worse. They ended up in a stable full of smelly, dirty animals, and that was where Jesus was born. What a way for the Savior of the world to come into the world! No one had any room for Him! It has been that way ever since! When He walked this earth teaching and preaching, He was rejected by His own people. Even the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of His day, called Him a blasphemer and plotted to kill Him. What they didn’t realize is that He was God’s Son, come to save the world from sin, to die on a cross willingly as a sacrifice for sins, past, present, and future. He then rose from the grave to be victorious over death and the grave and ascended back into Heaven.

Down through the centuries people have rejected Jesus, not making any room for Him in their hearts. They think that doing good deeds, or “not being as bad as the next guy” will get them into Heaven and save their sins. But the Bible says that we must accept Jesus as our Savior and ask Him to forgive us of our sins, and then allow Him to have complete control over our lives. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (NASB) Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (NASB) Romans 6:23 tells us, “But the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we can not be saved by our works. We are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. “For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” (KJV) Only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ can we become new creatures, have our sins forgiven, and gain eternal life. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” When we ask Jesus into our hearts and lives, He forgives us, cleanses us from all our sins, and then He desires to fellowship with us. He wants a relationship with us.

If you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior, this Season of celebrating His birth is a perfect time. Make room for Him in your heart. You will find it is the best decision you will ever make. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and He will walk with you every day.

A Thankful Heart

For the past week or so, I’ve not been posting because I had cataract surgery on my right eye, and I need to let it heal. Today I decided to try Bible Journaling, and I’m finding that I may need to wait a while longer. I will be having the other done in a week, so I may be out of service for a couple more weeks or so. With that said, I need to finish our devotion to how we can be the light, and we will be working on being grateful for this month. I want to try and incorporate both of those thoughts this month somehow.

For today though, we will look at I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We need to have grateful hearts. There are so many things for which we can give God praise and thanks. Even during times of distress, there are things for which we can be grateful. As I was doing my Bible Journaling page, I listed a few things for which I am thankful that God has given me. I am so grateful for my husband. He came at the right time in my life. He ended a time of darkness in my life. God knew I needed him then, and He blessed me with another wonderful man of God! I have been so blessed to have two husbands who were/are in ministry with a heart after God. The time between them was a period of grief and darkness, but as our verse tells us today, we are to rejoice always…even in the darkness.

I am also thankful for the talent He has given me in music. I am so grateful to be able to be part of the Worship Team at my church. I find it a blessing to express my gratefulness, love, and devotion to Him through my singing and playing. I can use the talent He has given me for His glory.

Most of all I am thankful for His salvation. His grace is above and beyond anything I can even imagine. He loved me before I loved Him! He sought me out and drew me to Himself because He wanted a relationship with me. As I look at my Bible Journaling page, it kind of looks like a bit of a mess, but then I remember, He takes my mess and makes it something beautiful and for that, He gets the glory!

Our verse says we also are to pray unceasingly! Now, that doesn’t mean that we are in constant prayer, unable to do anything but pray. No, we are to be in an attitude of prayer daily. Our thoughts should be in a conversation with our Lord and Master throughout the day. In that way, we keep our relationship with God strong. It helps us to hear His voice, we become familiar to His still, small, voice even when constant chaos and noise is around us. As we listen to His leading and we spend time with Him, as we’ve been discussing, we can then allow His light to shine in and through us, drawing others to Him. As we go about our day doing the things we must do, our attitude should be that of being in contact with Him, seeking His will and asking what would give Him glory and honor.

Our verse today also goes on to say that we are to give thanks in everything! That includes times when nothing is going right. My husband is teaching me to praise God even when we don’t get what we prayed for, or when things are falling apart. He daily says, “Thank you God for this difficulty. I don’t understand why things went this way, but I give you praise for it anyway.” He is an example of giving thanks in everything. I admire him for being the example I need to see. I’m not one to say thank you for hard times, for the most part, and I need to learn how to honestly say thank you at that moment. What I notice about our verse is, it is God’s will for us to be thankful even in times of distress.

Even though this is the time of year that we are more conscious about being grateful, it is not just at Thanksgiving that we are to be thankful, it is for every day of our lives. When we show gratitude, it also allows God’s light to shine out to a dark world that needs to see a clear pathway to salvation and life.

Embrace the Season You’re In

 

As we finish our series on seasons, our Scripture today is Psalm 30:5, “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning.” (CSB) As we go through the different seasons of our lives, we need to understand that, “This too shall pass.” Especially when we are going through desert times or times of great difficulty.

I am an impatient person. I’ll just start out with that. Waiting is not a strong suit for me. Right now, my husband and I are seeking God’s direction regarding making a move back to Montana. I lived there for 10 years and I loved it. I consider it home even though I wasn’t born there. Right now, we are in a period of waiting. Looking for God to tell us what we are to do, whether we move there or not, when to move if we are to move, and how we are to go about getting rid of the house we are in now. It seems as if He is being silent. Is it, “now is not the right time?” Is it “No, don’t move?” We don’t know what God has in store for us. Our house has been up for sale over a year and we’ve had a couple of people come to look at it, but nothing. Unfortunately, we live in a state no one wants to live in. That doesn’t help our situation any.

I must cling to the part of the verse that says that His favor lasts a lifetime. I know He has a good plan for me, and I know that if I stay in that plan, it will go well with me. I tend to jump out ahead of God and try to “help.” That usually goes sideways. I must remember what my husband always says, “Delay is not denial.” I also must remember that if I lag behind God’s leading, that also can end badly. I must be in step with God’s plan for my life. Therefore, I must embrace this season of waiting. Take each day, each moment, one step at a time, holding onto God’s hand.

What season are you going through? Is it something that is such a blessing that you want to never end? Is it a time of sorrow that you wish would pass quickly? Is it a time of waiting for direction?

David seemed to go through times when it seemed as if God was silent. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry.” (KJV) David’s obedience paid off. He called out to the Lord and God heard him and answered. Notice it doesn’t say immediately, but it does say, God heard and answered. Embrace the time of waiting and know God does hear and will answer when the time is right. Know that the times of blessing are put in place to help us gain encouragement. We may want to stay in that time of “everything is going right”, but we must realize that we don’t grow in the good times, but we grow in the desert and valley times. It is in those times that our faith is strengthened. We must embrace them and value them as much as we embrace the good times.

Seasons change. We are in the time of the year when we go from Summer to Fall. Everything around us is changing. The trees are losing their leaves, the temperatures for some of us are getting cooler, everything is moving to prepare for Winter. I’m not a Winter girl, I’m a Summer girl, and the time of year we are in now is not my favorite. It just reminds me that Winter is coming, and I’m not very excited about it. Yes, I’m wanting to move to Montana and that means Winter comes in a big way. However, most of the time Winter isn’t too bad there, and I don’t mind it so much. I learned to embrace it when I lived there. So, I must embrace this season of my life right now.

Can you embrace the season you are in and know God has your life in His hands? Do you know that His plans for you are for your good, to give you a future and a hope? (Jeremiah 29:11) Take hold of this season, embrace it, and hold onto God’s loving hand and allow Him to lead you into the next season.

In the Season of Planting – Never Give Up!

Ministry is hard! For all of those who have been in a ministry of one type of another, it is a given fact that doing ministry isn’t easy. Mostly it is long hours, little pay, and in a lot of cases, we don’t see the results of our efforts, ever. But today’s Scripture is an encouragement to each one of us because, even though you may not be part of a ministry, you do have a ministry just where you are.

As we continue in our study of seasons, today we are looking at the Season of Planting. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Another version puts it this way, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (WEB) In this section of the chapter, the Apostle Paul is talking about spiritual sowing and reaping. He says that we should not be deceived in what we do or how we live our lives, thinking we are doing great things for God when all we are doing is mocking God. Verse 8 says, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Then he tells the Galatians not to become weary in well-doing.

This hits me hard. I have to be so careful not to let pride get in the way of my ministry work. I must examine myself regularly to be sure that the reason I do ministry is for God’s glory and not my own. The second thing that I see is in our Scripture for today is, not becoming weary! This is so easy to do, especially when it seems like there is no result in the work that has been done.

Ministers and people who work in large ministries especially can find themselves in burn-out so quickly. When my first husband and I were running a Christian television station in Northern Wisconsin, we ran head-first into burnout. For all the hard work we were putting in, it seemed like we were reaching no one. We were basically the staff, because we were a brand-new station, and couldn’t afford a staff. We had seven volunteers, my husband was Chief Engineer, General Manager, On-Air personality, Master Control Operator, and Production Manager. I was the station’s Secretary, Traffic Manager, Volunteer Co-Ordinator, as well as running Master Control, Cameraperson, doing editing and sometimes On-Air personality. What usually takes a staff of almost 100, we and our volunteers did it all for three years. We would be airing programs and sit and wonder if anyone was watching, and if it was doing any good. When we began producing a local program involving the Pastors of different churches in the area, we began to see some movement. Our program had Pastors come in and do a 15-minute devotional that aired Monday through Friday. At Share-A-Thon time, we would have all our Pastors come in and help us raise funds. This was an area where the Pastors and churches didn’t really associate with one another. There was no co-operation between churches in doing ministry together. When we had the Pastors come in for Share-A-Thon, we mixed up the denominations so that Baptist would get to know Lutheran and Assembly of God, Methodist, and Missionary Alliance, etc. They found out that the other guys weren’t as bad as they once thought. As my husband put it, “They found out the other guy didn’t have two horns and a tail.” By the time we left, we found out that our efforts were rewarded. An Assembly of God Church and a Baptist Church got together and sponsored a Focus on the Family film series. It was as if God was telling us,” See, all the work was worth it and because of the station, a new atmosphere is growing between the churches.”

I shared this story to let you know, that even when you are ministering to someone, or praying for someone to come to know Jesus, don’t give up! You may be praying for a family member, and it has been YEARS! Don’t Give Up! All your work is not in vain. God says that His Word will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) That seed you are planting must take time to germinate and grow. There is a Season of Planting, a Season of Watering, and a Season of Harvest. It could be that you aren’t meant to see the Harvest time. There will be some things that we have worked so hard for, that we will never see the results this side of Heaven. Don’t be discouraged. Just know that God has it all in His hands, He is the God of the results. “Do not grow weary” Do not give up!

With Your Plans – Pray

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that did not seem to be the best for you? Maybe a work situation seemed to be a great trial every single day, and it made the work environment one of stress and constant chaos. Maybe a health issue was rearing its ugly head, and some decisions needed to be made. There are times when everyone must face a hard circumstance, and that situation makes us want to pack up and run away. Our Bible Journaling Scripture today is Isaiah 32:8, “But a noble person plans noble things; he stands up for noble causes.” (CSB)

I know for me, there have been times when I wanted to turn tail and run, but in my heart, I knew there was a reason why I was going through that situation. I have never been the type to run from a situation if I could help it. I usually would stand and face it. That doesn’t mean I always had the proper attitude or outlook on what was happening.

In our Scripture passage today, Isaiah is talking about a righteous kingdom and how a noble person handles themselves. They plan for situations. As I was doing my Bible Journaling God nudged me a little with the thought, “With Your Plans – Pray”. When we are looking to move forward in a situation, it is good to make plans on how to proceed, but we must also pray and ask God for His plan. Is what we are planning part of His will for us? Have we prayed and asked that He guide us in our planning? If what we are planning is part of His plan, is it the right timing?

As my husband and I were talking about this, he read to me from the book, “Power in Praise”, by Merlin Carothers. It is a book on praising God in the middle of your circumstances. The book states that when we praise God when things are not going well, it releases power to us so that we can step forward and walk in that situation armed with the power God gives us through our praise. The more I think about it, that power enables us to make those plans that are needed to step forward into a future that is in line with God’s plans for our lives.

The bottom line is, when we are faced with difficult situations, we must stand firm, and not run away. We should make plans, with the help of God, on how to face our circumstances or how to move forward into what God would have for us. It may be that we are to stand and face the situation head-on, deal with what we must, and with God’s help, show the light of Christ to those around us. If He is calling us to move forward into another area, then we are to pray for His leading, maybe step back a little, access the situation, and make plans to move into the area in which He is guiding us.

As we face difficulties through each season of our lives, we can find peace in knowing that God also has a plan for our lives. His plan is to give us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) We know that we can trust Him to show us how to deal with the hardships of life, and know that He sets the example for us, as we take a break, and make plans on how to proceed.

The Joy of Worship

This morning I woke with the chorus of a song running through my head. The name of the song is “Humble Hearts Cry (All I Wanna Do)” and the chorus goes like this:

ALL I WANNA DO IS LOVE YOU
ALL I WANNA DO IS WORSHIP YOU
ALL I WANNA DO IS LAY HERE RIGHT AT YOUR FEET
AS I LIFT MY HANDS TO HEAVEN
LET YOUR FIRE FALL DOWN ON ME
REKINDLE THE FIRE WITHIN ME LORD ONCE AGAIN!

This song has stayed with me all morning and I decided to journal about worship. I began searching for Scripture that would speak to the lyrics of the song. I found so many verses where we are commanded to worship God, and I was beginning to get frustrated because I wanted a verse where the author was worshipping God because of their deep love for Him and not because they were commanded to worship. Then I found Psalm 63:1. David is showering his love upon God by saying, “O God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (NASB)

This is just what I was looking for! David echoes the longing of my heart. I love it when God puts a song in my mind, and it stays with me all day long! My heart sings to God as I think of how awesome He is. He has walked with me through joys and sorrows, through disappointments and triumphs, in the good and the bad, He has always been there! Oh, how I love Him!

I love how David says that his soul thirsts for God and his flesh yearns for Him. It is a burning desire to worship God and to keep his relationship with the Lord strong. Most of us think of worship as music – singing about our love for God and offering our praise to Him. But worship can be in many forms. It can be in the stillness when we allow God to speak to us and we marvel at how much He loves us. Worship can be reading His Word and learning more about His character. It can be seeing His beautiful creation and thanking Him for making such a beautiful world for us to live in. Worshipping God can be expressed in so many ways. For those of us who Bible Journal, that is a form of worship for us as we express what we are learning in Scripture, through our artwork. We show in visual form what God is speaking to our hearts.

God created us with a desire to worship. Everyone has that desire, Believer and Non-Believer alike. For those who don’t know Christ, worship can be anything from material goods to their job. They can worship movie stars or sports figures, people of influence. They place so much importance on these people and things and are so devoted that nothing else matters. They live for these things. But these people and things can’t give the satisfaction that comes from worshipping God.

God created us to worship Him! He placed a God-shaped hole in our hearts that can only be filled with Him. He desires for us to love Him and have a deep relationship with Him. It is only through our relationship with Him that we are complete. Our worship of God and who He is, what He means to us, and our love for Him help us live in peace, joy, and a sense of everything is right with the world. When we take the time to worship Him just for who He is, our hearts are so full of love for Him. I encourage you today to take the time to worship Him and you will find yourself full of adoration for our great God, I guarantee it!

God Provides

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Acts 17:24-25, “The God who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” (NASB) As we continue to look at God’s provision for us, today’s Scripture reminds us that it is God who gives us all things, even our breath and life!

This passage comes from Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The Greeks worshipped many gods, and were, as Paul states, “very religious” (verse 22). They erected altars to all the gods they worshipped, including one to “AN UNKNOWN GOD”. Paul preaches to them and explains just who that UNKNOWN GOD is. The climate in that day was full of idols and as Paul was teaching about God and His love for us, the philosophers of the day became curious and encouraged Paul to teach them about the One True God. He explained that it was God who created heaven, earth, and us, and provided life and breath to us. It is to Him we must worship! It was God who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice for our sins, who died, was buried, and rose again, and it is through His shed blood that we are forgiven.

Sometimes, I think we lose track of the fact that our very life is because of God’s love for us. He created us, He loves us, and He wants us to live lives that are fruitful, full, rich, and blessed. He provides everything we have, right down to the very air we breathe. He loves us so much that He provided a way of escape from our sins, and a pathway for eternal life. For that I am eternally grateful!

When we come to those times when we begin to worry and fret over our needs, God reminds us in His Word. Jesus Himself told His disciples, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:31-32 ESV) Jesus states that God, the Father, already knows what we need, and He provides those things for us.

Why do we worry so? Why don’t we rest in the knowledge that God knows our needs and He will provide? I think it is because of our impatience sometimes. We want it now, not tomorrow, not next year, but now! How like a 2-year old throwing a temper tantrum we can become! It is during those times of waiting on God’s provision that we must learn to trust His plan and His purpose for our lives. Circumstances may not be in place for the thing that we desire to come to pass. Maybe we are not able to handle what it is that we ask for, even though God wants to give it to us. Sometimes, when other people are involved, it could be that they are not in a place they need to be for the provision to come about. The song, “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller, comes to mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6X71sXagUY

As you listen to the song, think about what it is that you are waiting for from God. If you are impatient in waiting for God’s provision, ask Him to help you wait. If it seems like God’s provision isn’t coming anytime soon, do as the song states, “worship while I wait.” You will find that He is faithful. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (CSB) That includes His provision for you.