Resting in Christ

As we have been looking at living life and resting, I want to step away from the physical aspect of rest and look at resting from a Spiritual perspective. Today’s Scripture is Hebrews 4:9, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (KJV) As we read the verses around our Scripture, the writer of Hebrews is talking about resting in Christ and that we as Believers can find our rest in Jesus. During the time of the Israelites’ Exodus to the Promised Land, they were people who couldn’t find rest because they were relying on Moses, Joshua, and the Law to bring that rest to them. However, none of these could give them the rest they desired. They struggled continuously, even after they entered the Promised Land, they were not able to find that peace and rest they so longed for. They were unable to conquer the entire land and enjoy all the blessings that God had in store for them because they were relying on things other than God to bring that rest.

The writer of Hebrews writes this chapter with the theme that Jesus is greater than Joshua because Christ finished the work for us on the cross to bring us that rest that we so desperately need. Joshua nor the Law could bring the rest of knowing our sins were wiped away, and therefore the work was unfinished, and no rest could be found. The people were enslaved still in their hearts because they had no assurance that their sins were completely paid for. They had to offer sacrifices for their sins. Jesus paid the penalty of death that must be paid for sin.

Because Jesus paid our penalty, we can rest in Him, not just for the payment of our sins, but also in being able to trust Him for every situation we face. Not only can we rest in the knowledge that our sins have been forgiven and the debt has been paid, but we can also rest in the fact that Jesus can be trusted to guide us through this life. When we are being blessed, we can trust Him and rest in His blessings. When life is throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink, and maybe even the kitchen sink, we can rest in knowing He’s got this. Nothing we face comes to Him by any surprise, and He will hold us through the struggle. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

We know that He is faithful to keep His promises, He is faithful to help us (Hebrews 13:6) and we can rest in Him! Sometimes I struggle with resting in Jesus, especially when I am faced with a situation that looks impossible and there is nothing I can do about it. My default is to panic or worry myself into a frenzy. I forget that God has this, and this is not coming to Him by any surprise. He’s big enough to take care of it and doesn’t need my help. That’s when I need to step back, take a deep breath, and put it in His hands, and not take it back, which I also tend to do. Resting in Jesus means remembering all the times that He has come through for me, then believe and trust that He will do it again!

As Believers, we can rest in Jesus’ arms. When we allow Him to work in our lives to fulfill His plan for us, we will find that rest. Peace will flood our souls and we know that He has us in the palm of His hand, and He will never let us go. So, today find your rest in Jesus. Allow Him to work in your life and He will give you rest!

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.

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!

We are Free from the Power of Sin

As we continue to look at the subject of freedom, today we learn that we are free from the power that sin has over us. Romans 6:22-23 says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NASB) We are all born in sin, every single one of us. As babies we have the selfish desires of being the center of everything, our needs and wants are top priority over everything else. As we grow older, hopefully, we learn not to be so self-centered, but there is still that within us that wants what it wants when it wants it. That attitude is ingrained in us from birth…and as such, it is the sinful part that was handed down to us from Adam.

The Apostle Paul tells us in our Scripture today that when we accept Jesus as our Savior, He frees us from our sins, and we are sanctified. I looked up the definition of sanctification in Dictionary.com. and sanctification is defined as “to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate; to purify or free from sin.” When we become Believers, we are set apart for God’s glory and to be used by Him to be an example of what God has done in us. Our attitude, our actions, our speech, everything about us is to reflect Jesus Christ living in us. Does that mean that after we become Christians we never sin? No, of course not! We are still human and fallible. However, Jesus made a way for us to be reinstated when we fall. His death on the cross and His shed blood covers us when we come to Him and repent of our sins. Does that mean we can just keep on sinning because we can continue to ask forgiveness? No! We are not to make a habit of sinning. We are to live lives that are set apart, holy, and consecrated to God.

The Christians in Rome dealt with this very problem. Paul tells them in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (NASB) It is true, God’s grace covers us when we sin, but we are not to abuse His grace toward us. Because Jesus paid for the penalty of sin, God has declared that we are sinless and perfect in His eyes, and it is He who gives you the power to overcome sin. God has sanctified us, made us holy, and because of this, we must live our lives in a way to give honor and glory to Him.

We can’t overcome sin on our own, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us defeat those things in us that would lead us into areas of sin. Temptation is not sin, however; succumbing to it is. When we delve into sinful attitudes and actions, not desiring to repent but continue, we can find ourselves in trouble. We can put ourselves into situations where we easily fall prey to the traps of the enemy. Each one of us has areas in our lives that we battle with daily. It is then that we must turn to Jesus, ask for His help and hold onto His hand, allowing Him to guide us in the pathway we are to go.

For me, I struggle with my weight, like a lot of us I suppose. I find that my “I want what I want when I want it” voice pops up more times than I like to admit. I fight that every single day. I’m not much on exercise either. My motto has always been, “Exercise will kill ya!” (LOL) My overindulgence in eating and not exercising is, for me, sin. I need to overcome my selfishness and seek God’s power to overcome in this area of my life. I have moments where I am successful, but then there comes a time when I’m tired of being good on my diet and I’m back where I started. Living a sanctified life isn’t always easy, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s leading, we can be successful. We then can experience the freedom that comes in relenting to Jesus and turning our back on those things that lead us into sin.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can put our rebellion behind us and be free from the power and penalty of sin. We can rejoice, knowing that through Him we are free!

Unshakeable Confidence

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 3:3-6, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side.” (CSB) This passage was written by David as he was fleeing his son, Absalom. Absalom wanted to take over David’s throne and become king. Despite being on the run and having those in Israel who were favorable toward Absalom come against him, David still had confidence in God.

God had him anointed and placed on the throne of Israel. David could rest and not be worried or concerned because he knew that God was in control of everything and God had his back.

Worry can be disabling. It can cause sleepless nights, physical ailments, and take away our peace. But when we have confidence that God has everything under His control, that He sees our path beginning to end, we can have peace, we can rest. I love how David says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.” (verse 5) He could sleep at night in peace. Absalom had an agenda and desired to take David out so that he could become king, and David kept his confidence that God would settle the matter in His own time and way. He even says he is not afraid of those who are coming against him! That is Unshakeable Confidence!

I am not necessarily a worrier, however; there are times I can become concerned or even worry a little bit about a situation. I try not to let it get me to the point of being overwhelmed with worry, but I can have that situation uppermost in my mind, and it can always be there in my thoughts. If I don’t stop and pray about the situation, give it to God, and then trust Him to work it out for my good, then I become miserable.

God gives us His promise that when we pray, He will listen and answer. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (NASB) When we pray, He will hear and answer! That is our confidence!

God also gives us confidence to step out in faith when He has given us direction into an area that is not in our comfort zone. Doing new things can be scary, but God is orchestrating things in our lives to make us more like Him, to become a vessel that He can use in bringing others to faith in Jesus. Knowing He is directing my steps gives me confidence that I can do what He is asking me to do. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) As Believers, we know this verse and quote it quite often, but we never really pay attention to that little word in the middle of the verse…all! There is nothing we can not do when we put our trust and confidence in Christ. Everything is possible through Jesus!

So, as we look at placing our confidence in God, step out in faith, rely on His leading, rest in peace that He knows what is best for us, and He will always walk with us!

 

God’s Grace Transforms Us

This past week has been very hard for me and my family. Saturday, we held the funeral for my nephew, and it’s been difficult to say the least. So, I’ve not been in any frame of mind to do journaling. The day before my husband and I left to go to the funeral I did my Bible journaling artwork, and Satan knew just how to get to me because my hubby and I had a big argument and I couldn’t even put my thoughts together to write my journaling blog. So, the artwork has just been sitting here and as I look at it and read the Scripture, I still am having a hard time knowing where to begin.

The verse comes from Titus 2:11-13, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (NASB) The first thing I see in this passage is that God’s grace brings us salvation. For that, I am eternally grateful! Without His grace toward me, I would have no hope, no joy, no peace.

The second thing I see is that God instructs us in how to live our lives. He guides us in godly living, and that guidance helps to transform us. When we allow Him to do that transforming work in our lives, we are changed. We are not the same people we were ten years ago, five years ago, a year ago, even a day ago! He is constantly molding us and changing us to be more like Him. As I think about how He has transformed me, I recognize that the transformation He must do in me can only come about if I allow Him to work in my life, allow Him to change me.

I still battle with anger issues, but He is working in me trying to help me gain control of my anger. It isn’t easy for me to not just lash out at whoever I’m angry with. I am a work in progress. I don’t know if I will ever gain control over this, but I know it can’t happen if I don’t allow Him to do what He needs to do in me to gain the victory over anger. He is still working, and I can see that the outbursts aren’t as frequent, but I still have a lot of work to do to be more like Him.

The last thing I see in this passage is that because of His transforming work in our lives, we have something to look forward to…”the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” We are expectantly waiting for His return, the Glorious Appearing! As I look at events in today’s world, I know His return is very close. There are days I say, “OK, God, You can come anytime, I’ve had enough!” We have a future to look forward to! We can be assured that He will keep His promise to come and take us home with Him. We also can have that assurance that He won’t call us home until we are transformed into who are to become…a transformed child of God who is the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

No More Pain

Today I am remembering my nephew, Brian. He passed away on April 3, 2019. My heart is so broken. He is my sister’s first-born, and he was such a joy to have around. Although life dealt him some painful blows, he tried to survive the hits but unfortunately, his way of dealing with it was drug addiction. My sister and I tried to help him, and he seemed to really be trying, going into drug rehab at the local rescue mission a couple of months before he died. He tried to kick the drugs and was going to the chapel services and studies that are part of the therapy there. He thanked me for sending my blog posts for encouragement to him, and my sister took him to her church once when he was able to go. It seemed like he was finally on the right road.

I find comfort in God’s Word during times like this. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (NASB) God is there helping us through times of sorrow. His arms are lovingly wrapped around us drawing us to Himself. Broken hearts are His specialty! Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NASB) Right now, my family is feeling that crushing of the spirit. My life verse is Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (NASB) When I think of this verse, I see God sitting in an overstuffed chair, not a cold, austere throne, and He is saying, “Come my daughter,” as He pats His leg for me to crawl up in His lap and let Him wrap His arms around me and lets me pour out my heart to Him.
He is my Abba Father, my Heavenly Daddy. When my heart is so full of hurt, He applies the salve to my heart to bring healing. As the salve flows over the hurt and the pain, I feel His love for me healing my heart.

As I was journaling my remembrance page for Brian, I found a sticker that says, “You are worth dying for – Jesus Christ” and that is what I hope Brian finally discovered before he died. I hope through the last couple of months that he found that God loves him despite what he has done. No one comes to Jesus being perfect, we all come to Him in a mess of our own making. In fact, He doesn’t want us to try and clean ourselves up before we come to Him. We couldn’t anyway. Nothing we can do can make up for all the sin in our lives. Only Jesus’ precious blood can cleanse our sin away. Only Jesus can forgive our sins and bring us salvation.

My heart’s cry is that Brian found the way to salvation and accepted Jesus in to his life. That is also my desire for my readers, that each one has come to the realization that there is nothing any of us can do to be acceptable in the sight of God. Only by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, asking forgiveness for our sins, and promising to follow Him and live a life worthy of Him, can we find salvation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) I am a whosoever, you are a whosoever, and He loves us so much that the only payment for our sins had to be paid by His Son, Jesus, on the cross. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (NASB) Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (NASB) Death is the penalty for our sin, and only a perfect blood sacrifice could pay for our sins. But God showed His love and grace toward us by sending His Son to die on a cross for our sins, so that we would not have to pay the penalty. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (KJV) God’s grace is poured out on us when we ask Jesus to save us and be Lord and Master. God invites us to accept Him, all we need to do is ask. 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 in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (KJV) If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, Jesus is lovingly knocking on your heart’s door asking to be invited in. He will not push His way in, He is a gentleman. But He longs to have a relationship with you. He desires for you to decide today. II Corinthians 6:2 says, “…Now is the day of salvation.” My prayer for all of my readers is that they make that decision to follow Christ and find out that a life of surrender to Him can bring peace and joy.