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.

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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!

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)

Freedom is Found in Christ

In the United States we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th. There is much celebrating as we remember what was given so that we can live in a country where we are free to live and worship as we please. There is also a Spiritual freedom that comes through belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Our Bible Journaling today comes from John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” (CSB)

First off, we need to know the definition of freedom. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines freedom as “the quality or state of being free: such as the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action, liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another.” Spiritually, we are free from the power of sin over our lives once we become Born-Again Believers. However, that does not mean we will never sin. We still are human beings who are not perfect and do sin. But that does not mean that all is hopeless. God forgives our sin when we repent and ask for His forgiveness. If we are free in Jesus does that mean we have a license to do whatever we want, even go against God’s law and will for our lives? No. The Apostle Paul dealt with this issue 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) There were some in the church who were teaching that because God would forgive their sin when they asked forgiveness (I John 1:9) then they could go out and live any way they wanted, including returning to their old life. What they forgot was, with sin comes consequences and that means discipline from God. Paul had to deal with this issue in the church a lot, it seems.

Freedom doesn’t mean that we can return to our former lifestyle without having to suffer the penalty for disobedience. Just as we in the United States have freedom to live as we please, there are still laws that must be obeyed, or we suffer the consequences.

Today there are still those who think that once they have become Christians, they have an insurance policy to get into Heaven. They think they can go out and live like the Devil himself without repercussion. But Paul says no, there must be accountability and we must be obedient to God and His Word to ensure that we are living holy, justified lives. So, what does freedom in Christ mean? It means that we are free to follow Him and His precepts, Not only are we free from the penalty of our sin, but we are also free to love and worship God and have a close relationship with Him. We are free from Satan’s hold on us and we are free to follow God, free to choose to live a life of joy, peace, and restoration.

We are also free to believe what God says about us. Sometimes, I have a hard time accepting what God says about me. I know myself, and I know I don’t measure up to God’s standards. I look at myself in the mirror and what I see doesn’t please me a lot of the time. But when I look at myself through God’s Word and see what it is that He says about me, then I realize that I must quiet the sound of the enemy in my head telling me that I’m not who God says I am. God says I am His (Isaiah 43:1), He says I am precious to Him (Isaiah 43:4), He says I am loved (Jeremiah 31:3), He says I am beautiful (Isaiah 62:3, Ephesians 2:10), He says I am accepted (Ephesians 1:3-6), and He says that I am restored (Psalm 23:3). We have freedom in Christ to believe what He says about us and to live accordingly. We can then rejoice in our freedom. I am so thankful that God provided a way for me to enjoy the freedom I find in Jesus. My heart is full of peace and joy, knowing that I have freedom in Christ. You can also know that freedom. If you have ever asked Jesus to save you from your sins, now is a good time. 2 Corinthians says, “…Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.” When you accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation you can begin to enjoy a life of freedom in Him.

God Calls Us His Children

Bible Journaling page was traced from a Pinterest post from Carmen Ramirez.

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from I John 3:1-3, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.” (NLT) God loves us so much that He calls us His children! What an awesome thought!

God refers to Believers in different ways. He says we are His children; He says we are lambs; He says we are His bride! I love that He calls us His children! That makes Him my Abba Father! I can go to Him with everything that concerns me. Joys, sorrows, victories, defeats…anything that I experience, I can tell Him about it. His love is never ending. His love is more than I can comprehend.

There is one requirement for a person to be considered God’s child. Each person must decide in their heart what they will do with Jesus. Will He be accepted into that person’s life or rejected? To be God’s child, we must accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, ask forgiveness for our sins, and promise to live for Him. From that moment on, our lives must be lived for Him in everything we do and say. We must exhibit a pure life that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. When we do this, the Bible says we are Born-Again. (John 3)

There are several references in the Bible where Born-Again Believers are called children of God. The Apostle Paul states in Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (KJV) Jesus said as much in Luke 20:36, “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (KJV)

As His children, we are required to keep ourselves pure (verse 3), and as human beings, that can be difficult at times. But we must stay close to Him to accomplish purity in our lives. Once we wander away from Him, it makes it more difficult to stay pure. Obedience to God is needed in every area of our lives. We realize that we are not perfect, and God knows that also, after all, He created us. But He requires that we persevere in living holy, pure lives for Him. Daily Bible Study and prayer, fellowshipping with other Christians, church attendance…all these things help us to live holy lives before Him. We often stray and get off the pathway He has laid out for us, and when that happens, God, as our Father, disciplines us. He disciplines out of love, not as an overbearing task master, but He gently leads us back to where we belong. The writer of Hebrews explains, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11 KJV) Job 36:10 (NASB) says, “He opens their ear to instruction, And commands that they return from evil.” As a loving Father, He disciplines us so that we overcome our rebellion, our mistakes, and our sin.

He knows what is best for us, just as earthly fathers know what is best for their children, and desire to keep their children safe and happy. God wants us to experience the best in life that He has to offer us. He loves us and wants our obedience and a close relationship with His children. He wants us to talk to Him every day, He wants to shower us with His blessings. He wants us to get to know who He is and enjoy His presence with us. I am so glad He loves me enough to discipline my rebellious ways. It is then that I can truly enjoy a life of peace and joy with God as my Abba Father!

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.

God Knows Us

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (NASB) What an awesome thought, that God knew us before we were born, and He knows us intimately now! Every part of us He knows, not just our physical appearance, but He knows our very thoughts, the intentions of our hearts, our sorrows, our joys, our failings, our victories; He knows it all! And why shouldn’t He, for He is the One who created us!

Because of this, He desires an intimate relationship with us. That should also be the desire of every Believer’s heart. It is God that we can go to when we are at the end of our rope, or when we don’t know where to put the next footstep, when we are feeling fearful, or depressed. It is to Him we can share our joys, victories, and overwhelming love of His care for us. We can rely on His leading, for He has planned our lives, beginning to end. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (NASB) We can gain strength from knowing that He has planned for us to have “a future and a hope.”

I’m glad that He is in control of my life, for He can do a much better job of running my life than I can. All I can do is mess things up. I let the little things in this life ruin things. I let my will get in the way, and in the end, I’ve made a royal mess of things. It’s then that I must go to Him, ask forgiveness, and listen to His will for my life and follow the path He has laid out for me. He sees my journey from beginning to end, and I can see just a little part of the pathway.

What I love is that He knows us intimately! I love that I can tell Him anything and know He won’t reject me or condemn me, but He, with understanding, will love me, correct me when I am in the wrong, rejoice in my victories, and cry with me in my sorrows. My favorite verse, my life verse if you will, 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) In my mind’s eye, I see, not a cold and austere throne, but I see my Heavenly Father sitting in an overstuffed, comfortable chair, bidding me to come sit in His lap and tell Him all about my problems – my joys, my feelings, my plans…everything! Then He wraps His arms around me and says, “My daughter, I love you!” He is my Abba Father, my Daddy!

Only our Creator can know us so fully. He knows how He put us together. He knows the emotions and desires of our hearts, because He put them there. He knows how we will react to situations, and He knows whether we will follow His leading or go our own way. He knows whether we will accept His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior or reject Him.

If you desire an intimate relationship with God, I encourage you to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior today. It will be the best decision you ever made. He will walk with you through every situation. You can know that you are not alone, and that He knows you and loves you.