Live Life – Look Up

In today’s world, we can find ourselves so focused on work and projects and doing things that we don’t take the time to stop. Life calls to us from all avenues of things that must be done, drowning out the still small voice of God. Our lives become unbalanced and we tend to become wrapped up in the hectic activity. Today’s Bible Journaling is from I Corinthians 2:11, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (KJV)

God speaks to us daily, but I think we get ourselves so involved in the busyness of living that we don’t stop and listen. Our verse today tells us that we know the things of man because we are human (the spirit of man), but the things of God are revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. But when we get so tied up in the things and activities of this life that we can’t hear the Holy Spirit speak to us, then our life is unbalanced. God gave us an example to follow. We are to rest, to stop and replenish our energy. When He created the world, the universe, and everything in it, the Bible says God rested. (Genesis 2:2) Jesus also rested often with His disciples. Mark 6:31-32 says, “Because so many people were coming and going that they didn’t even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, `Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (NIV). In other words, Jesus said, “Fellows, you deserve a break today. Come to the desert and we’re going to rest.” (taken from Pastors.com – article by Rick Warren)

Resting can be anything from taking a walk and spending time with God, praying and singing praise to Him, to going on vacation to relax and get away from the daily grind and enjoy life around us. Look up and see the world around us, enjoy what He has created. It also can be a time of reflection. There are times we need to stop and take stock of where we are and where we are going. If life is going so fast that we can’t even breathe, then we run headlong into a life of exhaustion and chaos.

We can get so focused on work, family duties, and putting out fires all over the place, that we forget that we need to get away for a little while and get ourselves back into a place of balance. I know some people who accrue tons of vacation time, but they never use it. From where I stand, they are running headlong into a medical crisis because they won’t take the time to relax and gain strength from enjoying some downtime. Even those in ministry can be so driven that they are constantly going and don’t take some downtime. What they don’t realize is that God doesn’t require that we work ourselves to death. Yes, He has given us a talent, a ministry, a calling and we are to fulfill that calling but not to the extent that we become ineffective in our calling. We must listen to His call to take some time and rest.

When I lived in Montana there was a period where my pastor was going non-stop because within two months we had four people pass away, and he had to deal with preparing funerals and ministering to grieving families, plus preparing for Sunday sermons, and visiting the sick. He was exhausted and yet he wouldn’t take time away. It took the Church Board to make him go on vacation to rest up; it was not a request; it was a demand. He desperately needed to get away so that he could be an effective pastor to the congregation. His life was out of balance. He didn’t look up and listen to God telling him that he needed rest. Once he was rested, we could tell that he was relaxed and able to minister to us effectively.

As our verse says today, we can’t know the things of God unless we are listening to the Holy Spirit speak to us. We must slow down and listen, we must look up to Him and take in what He says. When He says it’s time to rest, then we need to stop and rest…rest in our physical lives, rest spiritually, and rest in His arms.

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We Are No Longer Enslaved By Sin

We can so easily become enslaved to sin. It’s part of our human nature. 2 Peter 2:19 says, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” (CSB) Peter was addressing the issue of false teachers in the early church. There were those who were teaching heresy to the early church and misleading new Christians away from the faith. Peter is warning them to beware of false teachers. There are those in our midst today that would lead Believers who are not mature in their faith away from the freedom found in Jesus. They deny who Jesus is, saying He was just a good teacher, or deny that He is the Son of God, or say it’s ok to do such and such and still be a Christian, even though Scripture plainly says it is sin. They cleverly manipulate Scripture to fit what they are teaching.

Peter points out that they are “slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” That seems to be the crux of the problem. Whatever happens to defeat us enslaves us. We all have things that are stumbling blocks, things that we just can’t seem to get victory over. The enemy has us enslaved, chained if you will, and he continues to keep us in bondage until we turn to the One who can break the chains that hold us.

Faith in Jesus Christ can give us power over those things we struggle with. When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, the Holy Spirit comes into us, and it is through Him that we receive power to be able to overcome the sin in our lives. We still must make a conscious decision to turn away from sin, but it is He who gives us the strength and power to be able to turn our back on it and walk in a way that is upright and pure.

The song, “Break Every Chain” is such a powerful song. It talks about having power in the name of Jesus. “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain!” God does not expect us to be able to defeat the sin in our lives on our own because He knows we are incapable of winning a fight with the Devil by ourselves. It is because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that we can stand up against the enemy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtyVdC7E6Wo&list=RDEtyVdC7E6Wo&start_radio=1

I love this song because it reinforces to me that I don’t have to be chained by the sin that trips me up. I can ask for God’s help to defeat the enemy and help me overcome those things in my life that I know are displeasing to Him and break the chains that hold me.

Jesus breaks the power that sin has over us. We can then walk in freedom, knowing that when we come to a bump in the road, trip, and fall, we can get right back up with the help of Jesus and walk on the pathway He has set before us. Now, it may not be easy winning a battle over something we struggle with, but we are not alone. Jesus walks with us and He promises to always be with us. (Hebrews 13:5) We know the enemy would like nothing better than to see us fall and remain defeated. We must look to Jesus to help us to overcome our failings and the sin that “so easily besets us” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV) It is only through Jesus that we can be free from the power that sin has over us!

Freedom from Fear

Fear. It’s something each of us deals with. Some people are enslaved by fear to the point that they won’t step out and tackle something new. Some are afraid of something that may happen to them. Some are so fearful that it paralyzes them emotionally and sometimes physically. Our Bible Journaling comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV) Notice the verse says that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Fear comes from the enemy!

Satan’s whole purpose is to “kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10) He wants to derail us in our walk with the Lord. He wants us so paralyzed in fear that we become ineffective witnesses for Christ, and our lives are in bondage to the fear that holds us. On Sunday, my Pastor spoke about how Satan speaks to us, telling us we are less than what God says we are, degrading us, telling us we can’t do this because….” In the process we become bound by what the enemy is telling us because we allow him to demean us in our minds. We can be locked up in fear.

But our verse tells us that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Instead He gives us power, love, and a sound mind. Fear can be debilitating to the point of becoming a psychological disorder. Some people are afraid of being out in crowds or around people, that is called agoraphobia, and they are holed up in their houses, afraid to step outside. I have never experienced that kind of fear, but I do have a fear.

I am totally deaf in one ear due to an illness I had as a child. My fear is that I will lose my hearing totally in my good ear and go completely deaf. To this day I don’t like being in totally quiet rooms, I must have noise, the radio or TV, in the background. A few years ago, I experienced an ear infection that was so bad that I lost a part of my hearing in my good ear. My husband could stand next to me and yell in my ear and I could barely hear him. It scared me badly. I experienced the closest thing to being totally deaf, the thing I feared the most, and I was in a panic. Praise God for His healing and antibiotics and medication to clear the ear infection. I did regain my hearing, however; my hearing was diminished a little. I’ve worn hearing aids for about 30 years, and my hearing continues to decline. Losing my hearing completely is still a fear, but God has helped me through that experience, and it no longer is as strong of a fear as it was before. I have learned a little sign language, so that I will be able to communicate with others. I’m grateful for friends who are sign language interpreters and help me out when I don’t understand something. I’ve also learned to read lips a little.

There are other types of fear that can cause us to step back and not be who we are called to be. We can also be fearful to step out into an area of growth that God is calling us into. We must believe that we are who God says we are. We must remember that it is God who gives us the ability to do what He has called us to. When I first started doing my blog, I was very hesitant. Several years ago, a prophetic word, that I was to begin journaling and I would be ministering to others, was spoken over me. First, I had never had a prophetic word spoken over me before and I wasn’t sure just how to take it. After consulting with my Pastor and talking to some others about what I felt God was leading me to, I launched out. It has been a slow beginning, but I am now beginning to see some rewards, small ones, but rewards none the less. I had to believe that I was able to do what God said I could do and not allow fear to stop me from being obedient to step into my calling.

We must go to God’s Word to reaffirm what He says about us. Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (NASB) God promises that He will not forsake us. (Psalm 37:25) Ephesians 4:8 tells us that He leads us out of slavery. “Wherefore he saith ‘When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.’” (KJV) Philippians 4:3 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) Jesus gives us the strength and helps us to step out into whatever it is that we need to do.

We can follow God and His call on our lives because He does not give us the spirit of fear, He frees us from it. All we need to do is allow Him to free us from that fear and surrender it to Him.

We Hope in God and What He Has Done

Jeremiah 1422Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Jeremiah 14:22, “Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.” (NASB) In thinking about this verse and the hope we have in God, the thought came to me as I did my journaling page, that we can hope in God (have confidence in Him) whether we are in a time of trial or whether we are enjoying a life of ease.

God brings the rain as well as the sunshine in our lives. It is through the rainy times that we grow in our Christian walk. Just as in nature, the rain comes and causes growth. In the world around us we see the result by new vegetation sprouting up after the rains come. We hold that hope in our hearts that after the rain, comes the sunshine and a new beginning. Going through those times in our lives with Jesus causes growth as well. As we grow, we gain more confidence that He will be with us during those times.

In the sunny times of our lives we also have the confidence in God that we are not alone, He walks with us. We see His blessings all around us. We know that He will guide our walk with Him. We know and hope (have confidence) that He will direct us, whether it is in our job, or a ministry He has gifted us with, or in developing the gifts and talents He has given us.

He has given us reason enough to hope in Him. He proves over and over that we can trust in His leading. As we walk with Him, He proves Himself faithful, and with each victory we gain, we have confidence to rely upon Him in every instance. We say to ourselves, “If God can lead me through this, and I make it through to the end, He will do the same the next time I come to a hard time in my life.”

As I look at this verse, I’m struck by the question, “Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain?” Those false gods cannot do what our God can do. The prophets of Baal proved that when Elijah put them to the test. (I Kings 18) The prophets spent all day praying to Baal to bring fire down on a dry offering on their altar and nothing happened. Elijah put the offering on his altar and doused it with water until the water flowed over the altar and down onto the ground. He offered a prayer to God and immediately God sent fire from Heaven and consumed the offering. Our God is alive, powerful, He works in our lives, and He can be trusted. The false gods of this world are dead, weak, and ineffective. There is no hope or confidence in their abilities because they have no ability to show themselves powerful.

Our hope is certain because our God has proven Himself to be faithful. When our faith is weak, we can know that God will do as He has promised. We can depend on Him in every situation. When we struggle with issues of life, He is there to bring comfort and strength to persevere. He is more powerful than any illness, addiction, or circumstance. He loves us more than we can ever imagine, and He shows it in His care for us.

Hope That Brings Strength

 

Today we are looking at a very familiar verse to most Christians, Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (KJV) That kind of strength comes only from God! Our hope is in God. Remember, we have said that the kind of hope we are talking about is confidence…confidence in God, confidence that He will do what He has promised, confidence that no matter what we go through, He has our back, and that no problem is too big or too small for Him.

There are days we go through when it just seems like it’s too much. Everything seems harder than it should. We can barely keep ourselves together, much less accomplish a task. That’s where hope in God’s strength comes into play. We rely on His strength to get us through. When we feel we can barely crawl, He gives us the strength to walk, then to run. Our hope, our confidence is in knowing we are not alone, He walks with us, sometimes, He carries us.

Our Scripture reference talks about mounting up with wings as eagles. If you have never seen eagles fly, it is an absolutely amazing thing to see. When I lived in Montana, in the fall, the eagles would fly over the canyon in their mating ritual. It was awesome to see them do their mating dance and see the strength they had in their wings to be able to grab their talons together and fly hooked to one another. God gives us that kind of strength. We are held by God, He gives us strength to persevere through each circumstance, and our hope, our confidence, grows with each situation we face.

I know for me, God has given me strength in several instances. My husband and I have gone through a hard time over the last two years. We were married March 25, 2017, and right after that he went to the doctor for a yearly physical. The doctors found something wasn’t right and he had to have a biopsy. We waited to go on our honeymoon because my niece was getting married in May, and we decided to take it then. While we were on our honeymoon, the doctor’s office called and told us that my husband, Kraig, had prostate cancer. We both were rocked to our core. But God held us both up through the whole process of Kraig’s treatment. After having radiation treatments, a lot of prayer from family, church, and friends…Kraig was declared cancer free on October 23, 2017! His last test a few months ago showed an improvement in his test scores, in fact they were lower than previously! He still is being watched by the doctor, but for all practical purposes, there is no more treatment needed, just to keep an eye on things. We are rejoicing for God’s goodness and care. I thank Him for the strength He gave us and the hope of knowing that He is a healer.

That hope, that confidence, that God would do as He promised is what held us together and kept us from falling apart. It not only strengthened us spiritually, but also strengthened our commitment to one another. We found out that we could go through anything if we could go through that. We both held on to God, believing in His healing power for Kraig, and we gained strength.

Our Scripture says we are to “wait upon the Lord.” That means to trust His timing on things, trust that He knows our situation and knows the solution, and have the confidence that nothing that happens to us goes without notice by Him. Then we can fly like the eagles, we can run and walk, and not faint.