How Long O Lord?

 

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Psalm 13:1, How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” King David is questioning in the midst of a very difficult time in his life. He feels as if God has abandoned him. He doesn’t feel God’s presence, he prays and hears nothing. We’ve all been in that circumstance, haven’t we?

Life gets hard, God seems far away, our prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back to the floor. “Where are You God?” I’ve certainly been there. I’ve recounted before the hardest time in my life when my first husband was so sick and eventually passed away. It took a long time for me to actually sense God’s presence and working in my life. But once I did, I was amazed at what He had been doing even though I, at the time, couldn’t see it.

David must have been very depressed, but despite his searching and feelings of being abandoned, if you read the rest of the chapter, David ends up rejoicing and worshipping God. The verses that really jumped out at me were verses 5 and 6. “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Even though he felt like God left him to fend for himself, he realizes that he must trust God and His plan.

I love this about David! He spends the majority of the chapter pleading and complaining and then it’s almost like he comes to himself and remembers that he must trust God no matter what he is going through. How like David we are, aren’t we? We gripe and complain that God isn’t doing anything, or He has abandoned us, or isn’t working in our time frame and then it’s like we need a good smack in the head to remind us that no matter the situation, the first thing is TRUST GOD!

We forget to pray, or if we are praying, our prayers can be full of impatience or sound like a 2-year old temper tantrum…” I want it my way, and I want it now!” Never remembering that all things are done in HIS timing, not ours. He sees the big picture, He has a plan for our lives and sees the end from the beginning. All we can see is what is just in front of us.

Trusting is sometimes so hard to do, especially if we have been in the position of trusting someone only to have them leave us standing on our own without what was promised. We tend to not want to trust them again. We can only get left hanging for so long before we realize it isn’t worth the hurt and pain to trust.

However, God is always faithful! He never goes back on His word. If He has promised it, He will do it, and we can rely on His word. Sometimes it seems like He has moved far away, but in reality, we are the ones who have moved. He is always right at our side, holding us, walking with us, guiding us in the right way to go. It is up to us to stay with Him, to follow His leading. And, in those times when we feel He has left continue to trust whatever He has planned for us. Resting in His arms is the best place to be.
Sometimes God allows the hard times to build our faith, to make us stronger, or to prepare us for something that is coming down the road. We can look back and say, “If God could bring me through that, He can bring me through this.” Our strength comes from trusting in His Divine Plan for our lives and allowing Him to work through us and in us.

So, if you are going through a difficult time, remember it’s ok to ask, “How long, O Lord?” Just remember, He hasn’t abandoned you, He is right with you. Trust in His plan for your life and walk the pathway He has laid out for you with patience. He will never fail you!

Advertisements

Remember God

 

So many times, I think, we tend to forget that what we have achieved, be it wealth, position, material goods, whatever it is, is only because God has given us the power to accomplish these things. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

I’m sure we all know people who are so focused on obtaining the things of this world, and they work hard to get them, but they fail to realize that without God, none of it would have been possible. They think that the reason they are where they are, is because they did it all. They worked hard, they gained the knowledge to get where they are, they did this or that. The glory goes to them. They never once consider that without God allowing them to be successful, they wouldn’t be where they are at this time.

God is reminding the children of Israel that what they have is not because they did it on their own, but that God gave them the power to accomplish their goal. It is He who gives health to be able to work, it is He who gives the knowledge to learn skills, it is He who gives opportunities to develop their skills, God is the one to receive the glory for it all.

I had an uncle who did very well for himself. He was able to do so many things that my family were not able to do. However, what he failed to realize was that no matter what it was, he was not the reason he had acquired all he had, it was God’s goodness and graciousness that allowed him to have the wealth that he had. My uncle had the mindset that if he could buy his way into Heaven, he would be ok. I don’t know if he ever came to the point of turning his life over to Christ, only God knows that. But my heart is sad, because he never really understood that God was the reason he was so successful, and that he needed to change his focus from getting all he could get, to surrendering everything to Jesus. I loved my uncle very much, and I am glad he could enjoy things that I have never been able to, but I look at my uncle’s life, and what I see was a man, who deep down inside, was always searching, never fully happy or fulfilled, and was empty inside because He didn’t focus on God. He didn’t remember that God gave him the power to do what he was able to do. God was not part of the equation in his life.

As Believers, we also must remember that God is to be given the glory for all we have and are able to do. He gives us power, through the Holy Spirit, to witness, to live our lives as an acceptable offering to Him and be able to acquire wealth. He alone is to be given the glory for it all. He gives us the skills, the giftings, the talent, the knowledge, and the opportunities to be successful. Sometimes I think we get a little too full of ourselves and tend to forget that without Him, we can do nothing! (John 15:5)

We are blessed beyond measure, and God also gives us the hope we need to accomplish the dreams He has placed in us. Those dreams may include our part in spreading the Gospel to those who need to know who Jesus is, and to lead them into a relationship with Him. God gives us the avenues, be it speaking one on one with someone, broadcasting over radio and television, writing books, magazine articles, or blogs, or developing a website that draws people to further investigate God’s love and mercy to us, or through music, artwork, or dance. There are numerous ways to reach people with the love of Jesus, and He gives us the power and the wherewithal to accomplish those things.

So today, let us remind ourselves that what we are able to do, what we are able to gain, is only because God gives us the power! His Holy Spirit resides in us, helps us, guides and counsels us. Remember God.

Be Prepared

I’ve been working on a devotional series called, “Dream Big”. For the last two days we’ve been focusing on being prepared to move forward in accomplishing the dream that God has placed in your heart. One Scripture is I Kings 2:4, “So that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.” David was nearing the end of his reign as king and he was giving instructions to Solomon about what he needed to do in order to follow his father in leading Israel. God had instructed David to tell his son that he needed to walk in righteousness and in truth before the Lord so that God could bless him and prosper him.

We also need to walk before God in truth, being careful that our lives are righteous before Him. Part of being careful with how we live our lives or see that we realize the fruition of the dreams God has placed in us is being prepared for whatever may come our way. Solomon had to watch his attitude, his actions, his words, everything he did needed to be pure before God so that he would be prepared to take over after David in ruling the nation.

The other Bible Journaling verse is from Matthew 25:4, “but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.” In this parable, Jesus is telling His listeners that they needed to be prepared for the end of days with He would return to take Believers to Heaven at the end of time. The Bible says that no one knows when that will be, even Jesus doesn’t know, only God the Father. In the parable, 10 virgins were waiting to go to the wedding feast. The foolish virgins didn’t bring enough oil for the long wait. The wise (or prudent) virgins brought enough oil for their lamps to be able to burn throughout the night while they waited for the bridegroom to come and call them to the feast. The foolish virgins ran out of oil and asked the wise virgins for some oil. But the wise told the foolish that if they shared their oil with them there would not be enough for all of them throughout the night and told the foolish virgins to go buy oil for themselves. While they were out getting oil, the bridegroom came and called the virgins to the feast. When the foolish virgins came to the door of the banquet hall where the feast was, they were turned away because the bridegroom didn’t know who they were and wouldn’t let them in. This is a forecasting of what it will be like for those who haven’t repented of their sins and asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. Jesus was telling them that because no one knows when He would return, they needed to be prepared for His return at any moment.

Preparation is part of seeing the fulfillment of the dreams that God has placed in us. What do we need to do to lay a foundation for our God-birthed dreams to come to fruition? Maybe God has laid upon your heart to be a music minister, have you invested in music lessons, or going to college to get a degree in music so that you will be effective in reaching others for Christ through your music? Or God may have called you to be a minister, what steps have you taken to prepare yourself for being the shepherd of a flock at a local church? Have you set down and written out a plan?

I must admit, I’m really bad at planning out things when it comes to seeing where I will be in five or ten years. My attitude has basically been, God is going to do what He wants to regardless of what my plans are. But there is wisdom in sitting down and at least researching what it is that needs to be done for your dream to be realized. That’s something I’m working on…I’m definitely not there yet. My husband, on the other hand, is a planner! He plans everything out to the very last detail, going over the plan repeatedly. I’m more spontaneous and have a tendency to do things on the spur of the moment. That doesn’t work too well in planning a future.

So, preparation is key in seeing our dreams realized and become successful. Sit down, take a few minutes, and think about what it is that needs to be done to build a foundation for your dream and then step out in faith and accomplish that which God has put in your heart.

 

God’s Grace

Today I am Bible Journaling Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” This is a verse, along with verse nine, that is so familiar to Believers, that we tend to rattle it off without really thinking about the significance of its meaning. God’s Grace is so amazing and yet we can take it for granted. We often use it as a Scripture to draw the unsaved to Jesus, as a way of explaining that God’s love for us is nothing we can earn, He gives it to us willingly and it is so overwhelming, we oftentimes can’t fathom the depths of His love for us.

As I was thinking about this, I was struck by the fact that His grace is a gift. We can’t earn it, nothing we can do or say can change that. God loves us so much that He extends His Grace to us by offering us salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Verse nine in the New Living Translation says, “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” We cannot earn our salvation, or the grace God extends to us. It is God’s gift to us because He loves us so much.

I have often heard the definition of grace as “unmerited favor.” Dictionary.com defines grace as “favor or goodwill, forgiveness, mercy, the manifestation of favor by a superior.” God is so awesome! The Bible says that He loved us before we loved Him. (I John 4:19) Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (NLT) I don’t know about you, but I find that totally amazing. We as humans have a tendency to love those whom we deem lovable. God loved us when we were unlovable! That is so hard for me sometimes to understand. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the extent of God’s love for me.

He is also our example in that we are to love and extend grace to others, even the unlovable! Boy, for me, that’s a hard thing to do. There are times I’m like that spoiled two-year-old kid who stomps their feet and says, “I don’t want to! Do you know what they did to me?” God could have done the same thing to us…He could have refused His love and grace to us, but He didn’t. He provided a way of salvation so that we could have a relationship with Him.

I believe God is calling each one of us to be more like Him in that we show His love to others regardless of whether we think they deserve it or not. We are to love them as He loves us and as He loves them. Regardless of whether we have been hurt by another Believer or by a sinner, we are to love and forgive them. Forgiveness is offered free to them just as it was to us. If we are to show the light of Christ, we must love like He does.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love for us and the Grace you bestow upon us. We ask, Lord, to help us to love and offer forgiveness to others as You do. Help us to see those who are in need of Your salvation as You see them. Give us the boldness to share our stories of how You saved us, with others so that they can experience an awesome relationship with You and be free from the burden of sin. Thank You for leading us each day in our journey with You. Amen.

 

Compassion

Today I journaled Matthew 9:36. “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (NASB) I began reading at verse 18. My Bible started that section with a heading of Miracles of Healing, and from that point to the end of the chapter Matthew chronicled all the healing miracles Jesus did on His way to heal the synagogue official’s daughter. Verse 36 points out that Jesus had compassion on those he encountered.

As I did my Bible Journaling, I began to think of the fact that Jesus’ heart was so full of compassion for them because they were in distress. His heart broke for the situations in which they found themselves. We are to have that same compassion for those who come across our paths. Sometimes we see people who are in dire straits, and we think, “There isn’t anything I can do, I’m only one person.” But sometimes we don’t always have to DO something, just being available in their time of need is all they really need. Knowing that if they need a shoulder to cry on and we are there for them, is sometimes all that is needed. It can give them strength to persevere through the struggles and trials they face.

Compassion is not just that I feel bad that you are going through a struggle, it is a heart-wrenching feeling of love toward them that you want to reach out and touch them where they are, to bring even a little relief. Compassion is an overwhelming love for them, and your desire to help them in any way that you can.

Jesus had that kind of compassion. Many times, His heart broke at the sight of people being in despair, in need of everything from healing and spiritual freedom to salvation and forgiveness. He had the ability to help them right at the core of where they were. Their greatest need was the need of repentance and forgiveness. That was His primary reason for everything He did, because He loved them so much.

Jesus is our example, and we are to try, to the best of our ability, to model His example. We may not have the capability to help someone financially, but we can pray for them, or offer help in some other way. We may not believe that we have the power to heal, but God does, and if we allow Him to use us, healings can come. There are many scenarios that we could name where we do not have the power or strength to accomplish what is needed, but God has that power and strength. Leaning on Him and relying on His strength can help us to be His instrument in bringing relief from despair, sickness, poverty, and spiritual bondage. We must be available to become His vessel, filled with compassion for those going through hard times.

 

Are You Distracted?

Today I decided to do my devotional from the Bible Journaling Ministries (www.biblejournalingministries.com) Momentum Series, “Never too Busy”.  Tracie Rollins does a fantastic job in presenting devotional material and she is so down to earth…I just love the things she presents.  This series is all about keeping your focus on the main thing … Jesus.  Today we dealt with being distracted.  Boy, did that hit home!  Today we focused on I Corinthians 7:35, “This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.”

I am so easily distracted.  It doesn’t take much. I am drawn to TV and Facebook like a magnet, to the point that nothing gets accomplished in my day.  These are habits that I definitely need to break.  The problem is, Facebook is my means of keeping up with family, and it helps us all stay connected, but then I end up looking through my page to see who has left me a little tidbit to look at, and before you know it, a couple of hours are gone. Then I get hooked on a TV program, and I’ve wasted another part of my day.

In reading through the devotional, I started to ask, how is it that I am so easily distracted? Boredom plays a large part of it. That, and the fact that I’d rather be on the computer than doing anything else, which seems to be my main problem. We gravitate to the things that we would rather be doing instead of things we really need to be doing. Unfortunately, getting together with the Lord isn’t part of the first category. I am ashamed to admit that, but that is the main thrust of it.

So, I have to take myself to task. I find myself ignoring my time with God, and that can only result in a broken relationship with Him. Then when I find myself in that situation, I have to come to Him and repent and try to start all over again.

Do you have this problem? I gather most people do. It is so easy to be distracted in today’s world. Our society is so fast paced, everything is instantaneous with computers and cell phones and other things that can bring distractions. When I was a kid, we didn’t have computers and I-Pads to pull us away from important things. But even then, we could find things to do to take us away from what we needed to do.

I must admit, Bible Journaling has really helped me in this area. I’m a lot better than I used to be at finding time to have a quiet time with God. Expressing what I’m learning through being creative in my journaling has helped me focus on what it is He wants me to know. God gave each of us a creative side, whether we realize it or not. I am far from being an artist. In fact, I almost flunked art classes in school …. couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life. But God directed me to Bible Journaling and showed me that my artwork doesn’t have to be gallery perfect, but that it is all about the time I spend with Him, and what it is He is teaching me. Journaling through artwork helps me retain it so much better. I have always been a note-taker during sermons. Writing it down helps me remember. The neat thing with my Journaling Bibles is that I can go back and see where I am compared to when I started…that brings those lessons back to remembrance.

This is not an easy thing to conquer, as it is with most things that are really important and bring the greatest satisfaction, but I know that I have Jesus to help me, and with the two of us working on this, I will eventually win the battle.

 

Anxiety

Luke104142Luke104142(2)This is one of those mornings when God woke me up. I wasn’t sure why, but I decided to do some Bible Journaling since I couldn’t sleep. The Bible study today had me reading Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus is admonishing Martha for being so upset that Mary wasn’t helping her and for being so anxious about what needed to be done. I’m focusing on verses 41 and 42, “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chose the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (KJV)

Martha was so anxious about making sure everything was absolutely perfect for her dinner party with Jesus as the honored guest. Verse 40 says she was “encumbered”. The lady was stressed out, and to top it all off, her sister Mary, wasn’t helping, she was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His teaching, and she was a little ticked at her sister!

But Jesus had to remind Martha that some things are more important than others. Mary had chosen to focus on what was truly important, her spiritual well-being. Now, Jesus wasn’t telling Martha not to work on preparations for the party, but He was telling her that it wasn’t necessary to get so stressed….it doesn’t have to be perfect or elaborate. All she needed to do is put a few items together, nothin’ fancy, just something nice, and enjoy the time with Jesus.

The Bible tells us not to be anxious in several places. Philippians 4-6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (NASB) This verse has a reward attached to it. Verse 7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) The reward is PEACE!

For most people, the first reaction to a stressful situation is anxiety, not peace. They forget that the first action should be prayer! No problem or situation is too big for God to handle. Worrying doesn’t solve anything, in fact, it brings nothing but problems. Studies have shown that those who are constantly in a state of anxiousness are more likely to have health problems, physically, mentally, and emotionally. God never intended for us to live our lives in a perpetual state of anxiety.

The idea that everything must be absolutely perfect, did not come from God. We put ourselves under so much stress trying to do things with perfection, that we forget…. WE AREN’T PERFECT! Only God can claim that title, so it only stands to reason that we will never get everything perfect. Strive for excellence, not perfection! And if it doesn’t turn out super awesome…you did your best and be happy with that, and give God glory for the results.

Do I get this right every time? No, and I probably never will. But I am working on it. The old hymn we sing in church comes to mind…

Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above,
Sweep over my spirit forever I pray,
In fathomless billows of love!

Are you longing for that peace? Does it seem to elude you and you are wallowing in a pit of worry and stress? Rest in Him, trust Him to be the answer to the problems and situations that would rob you of your peace. Then sit back and watch Him work miracles in your life!