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.

Jesus is the Light – Reflect It

As we continue our study on Jesus being the light, our Bible Journaling verse today is John 8:12, “Then spake Jesus unto them saying, ‘I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’” (KJV) When we think of light, the first thing we think of is how light illuminates, it shows hidden things, it drives out darkness, it exposes things not seen in the dark.

Spiritually, when we come to ask Jesus to be our Savior, He exposes our sin. We know we are imperfect against His perfection. We are walking in darkness. Once we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He shines His light in us. We become the vessel for His light to shine through. Jesus also says that when we follow Him, we will walk in the light. Jesus illuminates the pathway He has prepared for us. As we walk with Jesus and bask in His light, He also wants us to be a light to others around us. We are to be the vessel through which His light shines so that others will see and be drawn to Him.

I don’t often start a conversation with someone about Jesus. I’ve witnessed to people when the conversation turned to “religion” and then had the opportunity to share with them how Jesus has affected my life. I knew someone who was kind of the “in your face” type of person when they were witnessing. It was offensive to a lot of people. It made them want to avoid that person. I tend to witness by the way I live my life. I want to reflect that light that Jesus is shining in me. I want people to see that there is something different in me and ask me what it is that makes me different. I am currently in discussions periodically with a friend I’ve known for many years who doesn’t want to hear anything about God. He once let me know in no uncertain terms that he was offended by the fact that I was a Christian. The funny thing about it is, I had not said anything to him about being a Believer, yet he knew I was. When he sees me share something on Facebook about Jesus, he will usually make a comment and then we will have a thread that will go back and forth for several posts. I keep praying he will come to know Jesus, and that something I have said or shared will hit him in a way that he finally comes to know the peace, joy, love, and eternal life I’ve found by asking Jesus to be my Savior.

When we reflect the light of Jesus in our lives, those who are unbelievers, walking in the darkness of sin, notice it. They see the peace Jesus gives. They see the steadfastness we have even in difficult circumstances. They see not just happiness, but true joy in our lives. I Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (ESV) When we allow Jesus to shine through us and we reflect His light, people will notice. Jesus also told us that our lives should be such that others see Jesus so that He is given glory. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)

Reflecting the light of Jesus in our lives gives Him glory. He is given the honor He is due, and it gives Him an opportunity to speak to the lives of those around us through the reflection of His light in us. We are the vessel through which He shines. We need to be intentional about allowing His light to shine through us. Today, be the light in someone’s life that will draw them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Lord is My Light

As we look at how God is our light, our Bible verse is Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (KJV) I think of the different ways God is our light. The first thing I think of as I look at my Bible Journaling page is, I misspelled the word “light”. So, God illuminates our mistakes or sins, the things we struggle with. He does this because He knows we are not perfect, and we need His help to become who He wants us to become.

There are so many things I need help with in my life, and I am grateful that He is always available to help me, to put the light on my failings so that I can work on them. It is our job, once He shines that light on our frailties, to do something about them. If we are to live a victorious Christian life, we must work on fixing what is broken. We are to do what we can do, and then let God take care of the rest.

Another thing I see in our Bible verse is that God is our salvation. Without Him and His plan for our lives (the plan of salvation), we are lost. We wander aimlessly in life without a direction. His light guides us, His salvation saves us from ourselves and from what Satan would do to us.

I also see in our verse that there is nothing or no one of whom we need to be afraid. He is our protector. Isaiah 59:19 says, “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (KJV) The Holy Spirit will put a hedge of protection around us to keep the arrows of the enemy from hitting its target, namely, us. Does that mean we will never face a battle with the enemy? No, but we have an ally who will help us during the battle.

I also see in our verse that God is the strength of our lives. He is the one who gives us the strength to endure during hard times. Because of this, we have no reason to be fearful. Romans 8:31 tells us that if God is for us, who can against us? Therefore, we don’t need to fear man or circumstances or anything because God is on our side.

Fear comes in the dark. We can walk down a street in the daytime and not be fearful. But we can walk down that same street at night, especially one that is not well-lit, and we become fearful because we can not see our surroundings. God is our light in life. When we find ourselves walking a pathway in life that is dark, we can be fearful. But when we have God lighting our path, we have no reason to fear because we know He is walking right beside us.

I am so grateful for God’s light in my life. His salvation, leading, protection, correction, and the strength He gives help me become the woman He wants me to be. I encourage you to seek out His light in your life. Then you also can say, “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Be the Light

This month we are looking at how Jesus is the light and how we can let His light shine through us. Today’s Bible Journaling is from Revelation 21:23, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (NASB) It’s hard for me to imagine Heaven. There is no need of sun or moon, and it is light continuously. That to me is mind-boggling! But our verse tells us that what illuminates Heaven is the glory of God and that Jesus is the lamp used to reflect that light.

Jesus has told us in His Word that He is the light. (John 8:12) He goes on to say that if we follow Him, we will not be in darkness and will have the light. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord, Master, and Savior, He comes to live inside of us and our lives are filled with His light. When we allow His light to shine through us, we also become a light to others around us. Walking in the light of Jesus requires us to be obedient to His Word and live in such a manner that Jesus shines through us. We become a vessel for His light to shine out so that Jesus is seen in us.

The adage, “Actions speak louder than words” fits so well here. Many times, what we do screams louder than what we say. I remember my parents giving me the, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say” line. The only problem with that was, their actions spoke louder to me than their words. We are to be lights in this world so that others will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

It is so obvious that we live in a dark world. Everywhere we look the atmosphere around us is getting darker. There are times when it can get very scary when we hear of the things going on around us. It seems that Satan is having a hey-day. Sometimes I wonder how long God is going to let this nonsense continue. But then I remember that I must do my part to put light into this darkness. When I live according to God’s Will and Plan, I am allowing Jesus to shine through me so that those around me can see the right pathway to take.

We are to live in such a way that those who don’t know Jesus will find our lives attractive, drawing them to know who Jesus is, and desire to have what we have. Our lives are to be a witness to the unbeliever. When they see us living like Jesus, it attracts them, and they desire to know what it is in us that is different from themselves. This is the reason Peter says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…” (I Peter 3:15 KJV) We are to be that light in a dark world, guiding them to Jesus. When they ask us, what is so different about us, we can tell them it’s Jesus living in us, and then share with them our story of how we came to know Jesus and what He has done for us. We are to be a witness! We are to be that light!

When we act just as the world acts, it’s like hiding our light under a bushel. (Luke 11:33) No light gets out, and unbelievers can’t see any difference between them and us. Our actions speak louder than our words. As Believers, we are held to a higher standard. We are to be the example to them of what a Christian is and how a Christian speaks and acts. We must allow Jesus’ light to shine through us to them. Be that light that shines so that Jesus is reflected.

Rejoice in the Season of Harvest

My Grandfather was a farmer. He had a 96-acre farm in Central Indiana, and I remember Grandpa working with the dairy cattle and hogs and farming the land. When Spring came, he worked the land to prepare it for planting, then once the land was prepared, he would plant corn, hay, and other crops. When the crops were ripe and ready to harvest, there would be workers who would come to help him bring in the harvest. My Grandmother would make a feast for all the workers. It was like a celebration, because there had been a good harvest, and my Grandparents would get a good price for their crops and money to keep the farm running.

As we think about the Season of Harvest, our Scripture for today talks about rejoicing at harvest time. Isaiah 9:3 says, “You have multiplied the nation You have increased their joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the plunder.” The CSB version says, “You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you, as they rejoice at harvest time, and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.” Just as in a physical harvest, there is rejoicing in the Spiritual realm when there is a harvest of souls. Like a farmer who does the hard work of preparing the soil, planting the seed, watering and tending the crop, and harvesting the result of all of that hard work, as we work to prepare others to know Jesus by planting and watering seeds of faith into their lives, harvest doesn’t come except through hard work. Harvest also doesn’t come quickly for the most part. Just as it takes time for the crops to grow and ripen before harvest, the seeds of faith must germinate and ripen before harvest can come.

We may never be able to see the fruit of our labors. God may have us at the planting or watering stages, and not at the harvest. This is not meant to be discouraging, but to bring encouragement in knowing that our hard work at witnessing, with God’s help, will result in a harvest of that soul in coming to know Jesus, and that when that one soul comes to Christ, there is a party going on in Heaven, (Luke 15:10) and we can rest in the knowledge that we had a part in that one soul coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

Especially when we are trying to reach a family member, the work can be very difficult. It may seem like they will never come to faith in Christ. But our job may only be to prepare the soil, (their heart) or plant the seed, (witness to them) or water that seed (giving the Word to them so that they gain understanding). We may not be called to be the harvester. However, if we are privileged to be part of the entire process of them coming to Jesus, know that it involves hard work, and the process is sometimes neither quick nor easy. It could be years before we see any evidence of a seed growing in them. As we patiently work toward helping them to salvation, we can rejoice with them when they make that important decision, and know we had a part in their decision.

When we look at television evangelists, it may seem that they came to notoriety over-night. But know that before they became famous, there was hard work involved in getting to where they are. Years of schooling, possibly many years pastoring a congregation and going through the struggles of shepherding a flock, before they became well-known.

Is there something that God has placed in your pathway, a ministry or a person to reach for Him? Are you in the middle of the process? Does it seem that you do nothing but plant but never see the results? Do not be discouraged. God has placed you just where He needs you, to be able to reach that person or a group of people to come to Him. As we talked about in our last post, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 WEB) Know that God has you where He can utilize your influence and talents and bring about a harvest, though you may never see the harvest. Rejoice in knowing that you had a part of the harvest.

Freedom to Choose

As we’ve looked at the subject of freedom in Christ, we have learned about justification, sanctification, and now we look at glorification. Our Bible Journaling Scripture for today is Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.” (CSB)

So far, we have learned that justification is “the act of being declared righteous in God’s sight.” We have learned that sanctification means “to be made holy”. This is a process; it is a life-long journey. Now we look at glorification, which is defined as, “God’s final removal of sin from the life of the saints (through salvation). When Jesus comes back to take the Believer to Heaven with Him, “we will be changed from mortal to holy immortal with direct access to God’s presence.” (taken from http://www.gotquestions.org)

God did not create us to be mere automatons. He gave us the ability to choose the path we want to go. We alone decide whether to accept Jesus as our Savior or to reject Him. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, God provides the final removal of our sins because of what Jesus has done for us. Unlike the angels, who were created to worship God entirely, we have a choice. We choose to love Him; we choose to follow His will and His purpose for us. We have a choice!

My first husband was into robots. In fact, he was so enamored by them that he made a couple of them. The last one was almost 6 feet tall and it walked, talked, and moved its arms. We named him Ottomation. But Otto couldn’t do any of those things without my husband rigging up a control panel for him to move and by providing the voice for Otto. The robot couldn’t do anything unless my husband made it do what he wanted it to do. Otto was a robot and could only do what he was programmed to do. God did not want mindless robots who were programmed only to do His bidding. He wanted His people to have the free will to be able to choose whether they would love, honor, obey, and worship Him.

The first test of this was in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3) God had only one rule for Adam and Eve, they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They failed the test miserably, and because of that, sin entered the world and we have been dealing with it ever since. Because of Adam’s sin, each of us was born in sin. In order to restore the relationship between God and us, we must accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins. (John 3:3, John 3:16-17, Acts 2:21, 4:12) God does not beat us over the head, demanding that we follow Jesus, but He lovingly offers us a way of escape from the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23) through Christ’s death on the cross.

Once we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are promised eternal life with Him, free from all the hindrances we face now. God accepts our repentance, we receive His grace, and we can then live a life full of peace and joy and have the knowledge that God loves us and provides eternal life for us. We are promised that we will have a glorified body, like Jesus, and we will be in God’s presence face to face. The choice is ours. The question remains, “What will you do with Jesus?” I hope that if you haven’t asked Christ into your life, that today you will choose to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. It will be the best decision you will have ever made.

Freedom from the Fear of Death

Death is not something most of us don’t want to even think about. As Believers, we don’t have to fear death because Jesus has conquered it. Today’s Bible Journaling Scripture is taken from Hebrews 2:14-15, “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

Why do we fear death? I think for some it is fear of the process of death. What will we feel? will we be aware that we are dying? will there be pain? … all of these can be sources of our fear. For those especially who do not know Jesus as Savior, it is fear of what happens to us after we die. The Bible tells us that there is life after death, the question is where will we spend that life? The Bible says that life after death is eternal. John 5:28-29 says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (NIV) Now some may say, “Well, all I have to do is be a good person and I will live in Heaven.” But that isn’t what the Bible says. Sin separates us from fellowship with God. We all are born in sin because of Adam’s sin in the Garden and that destined us all to death. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” (CSB)

But when we put our full trust and belief in Jesus Christ, accept His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins and live for Him, we can then look forward to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to salvation and life eternal. (John 14:6) God set out a plan to save us from our sin at the very beginning. (Genesis 3:15) Jeremiah 21:8 says, “But tell this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.’” (CSB) He sent Jesus to die for our sins because of His great love for us. (John 3:16) Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.’” Therefore, we have no need to fear death. The Bible says that Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave! Revelation 1:18 tells us, “And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” We have nothing to fear, Jesus has the keys and He has locked the door, never to unlock it again!

For those who fear the process, the Bible talks about death, saying that we sleep. (Daniel 12:2, Matthew 9:24, John 11:12-13, I Corinthians 15:51) It says we fall asleep here and wake up in eternity. Whether we wake in Heaven or in Hell depends on what we have decided about Jesus. We can rest in the knowledge that Jesus has conquered death and we know that He loves us and wants to take away all our fear. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we can rest, without fear of what is to come, knowing we have a Savior who loves us and has given His life for us, and has prepared the way for us. (John 14:1-3)