Who is in Control of Your Season?

As we continue our series on seasons, today’s verse is Daniel 2:21, “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” (NASB) Some seasons are easily traversed while others are very difficult. Some we wish would stay longer, others we can’t wait for them to be over and done.

As much as we want to control the seasons in our lives, we can’t. Only God has control over the seasons of our lives. In our Scripture today, Daniel has been summoned by King Nebuchadnezzar to interpret a dream he has had. Daniel’s first action is to go to God and ask for wisdom and the interpretation to be relayed to the king. When God has given him what he has asked for, Daniel offers a prayer of thanksgiving and acknowledgment that it is God who establishes the seasons, places and unseats kings, and gives wisdom to those who seek it.

There are so many times in our lives that we wish we could orchestrate things to go the way we wish. The times of struggle are seasons that we would like to avoid completely, but once through them, even though very difficult, we have found that God allowed us to go through that season for a purpose. Maybe it was to stretch us so that we can grow stronger in our faith. Maybe it was so that our experience may be a blessing and comfort to someone who is going through the same thing. God knows our pathways; He directs each step we take. As much as we try to control each season, what usually happens is that we become frustrated because the path isn’t going the way we want it to.

When my first husband was so sick, I wanted that season of my life to be over with so badly. I wanted my husband well, back to the way he was before his strokes and seizures. I wanted him walking, talking in complete sentences, working on his pet projects, and I wanted his wacky sense of humor back. Taking care of him was very difficult and as much as I didn’t mind that assignment, after seven years of struggle, I was becoming overwhelmed. I wanted my husband healed! I prayed and cried, and still, God’s plan was not for him to be healed here, but in Heaven. I was so frustrated because I had no control over the situation.

When we try to take control of the season we are in, sometimes it can backfire. When I was in my 40’s an opportunity presented itself where my husband and I could possibly adopt. At that stage of our lives, we had already been married for 25 years. We had tried to adopt when we were much younger, but circumstances were such that the adoption fell through due to the situation in the country we were trying to adopt from. Now at this time, we had another chance, I thought, to try again. My husband wasn’t completely on board with the idea. However, I desired a baby so badly that I ran full steam ahead going through with the process of home study and interviews with the adoption agency. I got myself so off-track, that I rebelliously told God that I didn’t care if it was in His will for me or not, I was going through with it. However, God shut the whole process down through the agenda of a social worker who was not on board with our assessment of discipline and rearing children. Once she heard the words Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family, it was an uphill battle. She shut us down and would not approve us for adoption. It was only then that I realized that as much as I tried to control the situation (the season, if you will) I couldn’t. God did not have it in His plan for us to be parents. That was the hardest lesson I ever learned.

Once we realize that it is God who controls the season, and not ourselves, we find that as we walk through the season we are in, allowing God to orchestrate situations to fit into His plan for us, we are much happier. We must relish the seasons that we treasure and enjoy, and hold onto God through the seasons that are hard. Even if a season is one of great delight, we must relinquish control over that season and realize that our life is in His hands. He knows where He is taking us, it is ours to follow along and trust Him.

Living a Full Life

As we finish our look at living life, many of us find it difficult to live a life that is full of joy, peace, and fulfillment. The Bible tells us there is a reason for that. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NASB) Our enemy, the Devil, seeks to take away any peace, joy or fulfillment we can have in life. His goal is to see that as Believers, we live a life that is ineffective in reaching others for Christ. He will do anything he can to defeat us in every area of our lives.

As we look at our Scripture today, Jesus has been talking to the people with the parable of The Good Shepherd. He explains that the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will not respond to anyone else. They are so close to him that they instantly recognize his voice as he calls them. He also tells them that the shepherd is the door to the sheep pen, and anyone who enters through the door other than the shepherd is a thief and a robber. In Bible times, sometimes many shepherds had to leave their sheep in a “community sheepfold” and someone was hired to be the doorkeeper. Each shepherd would come to get his sheep and would call to them. Only his sheep knew his voice and they would follow him. If anyone else tried to call his sheep, they would not follow because they did not know their voice.

Many times, our enemy tries to call us away from the abundant life found in Christ. I looked for a definition of what abundant life meant, and Wikipedia described it as, “a life abounding in joy and strength in mind, body, and soul.” For me, it means that my life is full of peace, joy, and fulfillment. I can find that abundant life only through Jesus Christ. As I live my life in a way that would bring honor and glory to God, then I can live a life that is complete, a life that is so full that I can hardly stand it.

Daily stresses can hinder us from living that abundant life. When we try to juggle work, home life, relationships, and the myriad of other things that we encounter daily, it can become so overwhelming that we find ourselves wanting to get away from it all. But, as we have seen in our series, all we need to do is look up to the One who can help us. See what God is asking for us to do. Maybe it’s just to step away from all the chaos and rest in Him. Maybe He’s asking us to trust Him in the path He is leading us, even though it makes no sense. Whatever He wants from us, that is the way to living the abundant life.

In my life, right now, I am dealing with physical pain in my knees and my back. I can let this get me down to the point of not doing anything because I’m in pain, thereby, living like a hermit and not getting out and enjoying life, or I can ask God for the strength to keep going and determine that I’m not going to let it get me down. I just spent a week at my sister’s because I had my 50th high school reunion, and while my hubby and I were there, we didn’t just sit around, we were on the go almost every day. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen and a cane! We walked more last week than I have in a long time. I was able to enjoy my high school reunion, go to a HUGE flea market, go to the zoo, visit some childhood friends, and visit the local Renaissance Faire. I lived life to the fullest despite the pain. Satan has tried his best to set me back in my walk with God, through physical pain. But I can say with firm conviction, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

If you are facing difficult circumstances, remember that it is Jesus who is able to deliver us, He is the One who gives us the strength, it is through Him that we have that abundant life!

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!

Fear Ensnares – Trust in the Lord Brings Freedom

Fear can stop us in our tracks.  It can paralyze us; it can stop whatever dreams we have from coming to fruition.  Fear of what others say or think of us can trap us into a prison so that we just stand still.  Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (KJV) Our verse says that fear of men can ensnare us.  Trusting in God can release us from that prison of fear.

Fear of other’s thoughts and opinions of us can hinder us from stepping out into our dreams and ambitions.  However, we must trust in God’s opinions and His thoughts of us.  If He is calling us out of our comfort zone, there will be plenty of people ready, and willing, to put a damper on our desire to fulfill that call.  However, we must trust that God knows the best for us.  If He has called us into an area for our growth, He will give us the ability to accomplish it. He will encourage us to push forward.  When we put our trust in what God says about us, we can break free of the fear of what others may try to do or say to hinder us.

Our verse today says that when we trust in the Lord, we are safe!  Chains of fear are broken.  When we are fearful of failure, we can remember, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 CSB) When we are fearful of other’s opinions, we can go to God’s Word and read the myriad of verses of how He loves us and how precious we are to Him.  When we are fearful of a doctor’s diagnosis, we can remember that it is by Jesus’ stripes that we are healed. (I Peter 2:24)

When we are afraid, God tells us in Isaiah 43:1 “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” (NIV) Trusting God will bring peace and joy.  (John 14:27, Psalm 94:19) We can say with David, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 NIV) Trusting in God gives us courage and boldness.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (NIV)

We can step out into areas that we may not be comfortable in. We can also step out in faith into areas of ministry, knowing that God is with us, encouraging, guiding, and giving us the boldness to reach out to others who need to hear of His love for them.  We need not allow fear to hold us back because we know we are safe with the Lord when we trust in Him.

God’s Faithful Love

Well, I decided to do another Bible Journaling entry. This one comes from Psalm 103:17, “But from eternity to eternity the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren.” (CSB) God’s love for us is beyond amazing. He wants only the best for us, and He showers His blessings upon us daily.

I was curious to find out how many verses in the Bible deal with God’s love. There are 310 times in 280 verses that talk about God’s love! Wow! God must really want us to know how much He loves us! I think that is amazing! I love how our verse talks about God’s faithful love! That is so reassuring! His love is not fickle, but it is steadfast and enduring. His love never fails! (Psalm 36:7) He loves us with an everlasting love! (Jeremiah 31:3) He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to the cross to die in our place for our sins. (John 3:16)

I also love the way He wants us to know how much He loves us. He tells us so many times in His Word. He is unlike some human fathers, who never tell their children that they are loved. I know of an instance where the father never uttered the words, “I love you” to his sons, and both sons thought that the father loved the other son more. It was heartbreaking! It created a rift between the boys. Not until years later did they find out that neither son heard those words. They began to realize that their father did love them, he just didn’t know how to express it. One of those boys determined that he would always tell his children that he loved them so that there was no doubt in his children’s minds of his love for them. Every phone conversation always ended with the words from their father, “I love you.”

Just like that son, God wants His children to know how much He loves them. He wants there to be no doubt in his children’s minds of His love for them. When a child hears from their father that he loves them it brings feelings of comfort, security, peace, and joy. They know that they can go to him with everything and not be afraid that he will reject them. It is the same with our Heavenly Father. We have nothing to fear, for He is willing to listen to our heart’s cry. He wants to hear about our day. He wants us to share with Him our dreams and our plans. He wants to hear about our heartaches and those things that distress us. He wants a strong relationship with His children.

God’s love for us is unending! He is reaching out to us, asking us to come to Him and to trust Him. When we feel unloved by others, He loves us, when we feel rejected, He calls us to come and He wraps His arms around us and draws us close to Himself. If you are feeling unloved today, call out to God, and He will wrap you in His arms and tell you how much He loves you!

Confidence Begins with God

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 89:34, “My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.” (NASB) The King James Version puts it this way, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” God assures us that He will keep His promises to us, and He will not change!

Confidence coming from ourselves is very shaky. We, unlike God, change constantly. Our attitudes, our actions, our thinking, how we perceive things…all are constantly in a state of change. We find that if we rely upon our own understanding, our pathway becomes bumpy, uncertain, full of potholes. However, God does not change, ever! His yes is yes, and His no is no. (I Corinthians 1:20). Hebrews 13:8 says that “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (NASB) We gain our confidence from God.

Remember the first time you got a job and arrived the first day to take your place in the workforce? We did not have confidence in our own abilities, especially in a new situation. We had to learn the way things operated in our new situation. I know I did not have confidence in my first job. I took a summer job in a plant that distributed cassettes and 8-track tapes (yes, I’m dating myself) to customers, and I had to work in the warehouse packing orders for shipment. It was the first time I had to use office equipment to track the order (this is before computers mind you) and get it ready to go out the door. I had to get used to my coworkers, most of whom were from a different background than me, and to say the least, I was not confident in my ability to do the job. At that point, I had not learned to put my confidence in Jesus. I was a relatively new Christian with a lot to learn.

The more I worked at my job, the more confident I became. It’s the same with our daily lives with God. The more we put our confidence and trust in Him, the more assured of His promises we become and our confidence in Christ grows.

God has a plan for each of us, (Jeremiah 29:11) and His plan is different from His plan for someone else. He knows what He has mapped out for us, and He knows what is best for us. He knows how to strengthen our confidence in Him. The more He brings us through situations that seem way more complicated and confusing than we would like, the more we can find ourselves saying, “If He got me through that, He can get me through the next big hurdle.” We can look back and see how He has been faithful to us, our confidence grows, and when the next big hurdle comes (and it will) we can be confident that He will not leave us alone, He will guide our steps, He will walk with us, and He will be sure that we do not fail in the end. He will not go back on His promises to us! We can rely on Him in every situation.

I see the Bible as God’s love letter to us, from Genesis to Revelation. He loves us enough to guide us through His Word. He loves us enough to show us examples of how to live and how not to live. He loves us enough to be gracious to us in all circumstances. He loves us enough to keep His promises. He loves us enough to teach us how to rely upon Him, to take our confidence from Him.

If you are finding yourself without confidence, turn to God. He loves you and He wants to see you succeed. Your first step is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior if you haven’t already, confess your sins, and promise to live for Him daily. He will then show you how to take your confidence from Him and rely upon Him for each day, each circumstance, in all things.

Where is Your Confidence Placed?

Today’s Bible Journaling is from I Kings 8:57, “May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us.” Solomon is encouraging the people of Israel to be obedient and to put their confidence in God. He’s asking God to be with them and not forsake them. He is putting His confidence in God and what He has done in the past for the children of Israel.

Where do we place our confidence? Is it in material things, the “get everything you can” atmosphere of today’s society? Is it in people? Let’s start with the definition of confidence. Merriam-Webster dictionary says that confidence (1) is a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances, (2) a faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper or effective way, ( 3) the quality or state of being certain.

For me, spiritually, confidence is a steadfast knowledge that we can rely on God, that He is trustworthy. Confidence is a strong trust in someone or something. God has proven time and again that He can be trusted. He is faithful! He comes through on His promises to us. He promises to never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) The NASB says that He will never desert us! That is a promise He keeps every day! I can put my confidence in God because He has proven to me that He will keep His promises to me.

I trust in God’s leading in my life. I know that He will not lead me somewhere that would be harmful to me, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. His desire is for me to live a life that is full of blessing, a life that is totally surrendered to Him, and He wants me to have the best relationship with Him that is possible. He brings me through things that will strengthen me and cause me to draw closer to Him. He walks through the desert with me, He dances in the meadow in jubilation when I am blessed more than I can stand! He reaches out to me when I am uncertain and comforts, guides, and loves me.

Placing our confidence in someone or something other than God does not bring us joy but leads to disappointment. People will fail you, circumstances will fail you, things will disappoint and fail you, but God never fails, never disappoints. His word is truth, His love is everlasting, He is faithful in all things. The verse before our Scripture today says, “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.” (NASB) Do you see in the middle of the verse? “not one word has failed of all His good promise…” He makes good on His promises.

Is there something you are trusting God to do for you? Are you overwhelmed by circumstances around you? Are you in need of confidence that He will never leave or forsake you, do you need to know without a shadow of a doubt that God will be faithful? Is your confidence in God? As I am typing this, I’m listening to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sing, “More Than Enough”. It reminds me that my confidence in God is well-placed. Listen, and let the words flow over your soul.

https://www.pandora.com/artist/play/the-brooklyn-tabernacle-choir/god-is-working/more-than-enough/TR:1033624