His Love Endues Forever

 

As we look at love this month, we must look at the love God has for us. Psalm 136 is a chapter that echoes one theme, “His love endures forever!” Psalm 136:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (NASB) The Amplified Bible says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever.”

We’ve already talked about the fact that God IS love. Now we look at how long His love lasts. Forever is a very long time. It’s great to know that He loves us no matter what. He loves us even though we are unlovable. In fact, the Bible says He loved us before we loved Him. (I John 4:19) Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’” (KJV) He gently leads us with His love. When we are wandering around, not knowing which way to turn, His love is poured out upon us as He guides us in the pathway He has chosen for us. To those who don’t know Him yet, He draws them to Himself with love that lasts forever.

Even when we turn our backs on Him, He still loves us. The children of Israel were such a rebellious people, constantly trying God’s patience, and yet, despite their disobedience, He still loved them. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34 KJV) Jesus looked over Jerusalem in sadness because they didn’t recognize Him, they were still disobedient, and they rejected His love for them.

His love isn’t like human love. As humans, we tend to love only those who are lovable, or those who can give us something we want, or those who only do good to us. God loves us regardless of those things. Even when we shake our fists in anger at Him, He loves us. It’s His love that sustains us in the difficult times. It is His love that holds us when we are in despair. It is His love that rejoices with us in times of great victory. It is His love that compels us to come to Him when we recognize that it is only through Jesus that we are saved.

God has directed us to have the same kind of love for others as He has for us. Ephesians 5:2 says, “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (NASB) John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (KJV) The reason for this is found in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.” (KJV)

God has an enduring love for us that surpasses any that we’ve ever experienced, and we are to pattern ourselves after Him. We will never achieve that level of perfect love that God has for us, but we are to strive for that mark of excellence. He knows we will never be able to love Him like He loves us, but He wants us to endeavor to be more like Him every day.

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The Son of the Most High

 

To

day’s Bible Journaling comes from Luke 1:26-33. I’m sure many have heard the Christmas Story. If not, I encourage you to read this passage. Jesus was God in human flesh, born of a virgin, and was the Son of the Most High God. God, the Father, loved us so much that He wanted to redeem us from the penalty of sin. The only way that He could do that was to offer His Son as a sacrifice. Jesus was, and is, a part of the God-head, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are One God, in three persons. No, we don’t worship three different Gods, He is One God but there are three different aspects to Him. Much like a chair…it has a seat, a back, and legs…all different parts but still a chair.

What popped out at me from this passage is that Jesus is the Son of the Most High God. (verse 32) Jesus was to be CALLED the Son of the Most High, because He is God’s Son. Can you imagine how Mary felt? She was going to give birth to God’s Son! The responsibility must have been overwhelming! No wonder she was troubled! The angel, Gabriel, had to tell her not to be afraid when he told her that she had gained favor with God and that He had a special assignment for her.

Not only is Jesus God’s Son, but He is also God at the same time! This is a concept that is so difficult for humans to understand. Our minds just cannot wrap itself around the thought that Jesus can be both. But as such, He could experience what we experience, he could walk as we walk, and He was the perfect One to be our help, our confidant, our Savior, our strength, and to give us eternal life!

He came as a baby, born in a manger, not in a castle. He lived life here on earth to share in the trials, joys, sorrows, and conflicts we experience. Have you been homeless? So was He. The Bible says He had no place to lay His head. (Matthew 8:20) Have you been ridiculed and beaten? Jesus was mocked (Matthew 27:29) and scourged (Matthew 27:26). Have you ever been rejected? So was Jesus. (Luke 9:22) In fact, all the things Jesus experienced were prophesied by Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed Him not.” (KJV) He was born to die! He was born to experience life as we live it on earth, to suffer and die for us. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” He went through everything we do and did not sin. That is something we cannot say, for we are born in sin.

The Christmas story and the Easter story are tied together! Because He is the Son of the Most High, He is the only one qualified to be our Redeemer, our Savior, and our Lord. Without the Easter story there would be no need of the Christmas story. Without the Christmas story, there would be no Easter story. Jesus’ whole purpose on earth was to bring us to Himself, to be our sacrificial lamb, and be our Redeemer.

Healing in His Wings

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Malachi 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (KJV) The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says, “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” This month we are talking about blessings from God.

Healing is a blessing that can come to us not only physically, but Spiritually, and emotionally as well. Some of us are in need of a physical healing. I think that’s what most of us think of when we are talking of healing. It is true, Jesus can heal our bodies, and I believe that most of us yearn for totally healthy bodies with an absence of pain or disease. For myself, I long for the day when I have no pain. Through the pain, however; God gives me strength to be able to persevere through the day. So, some may say, well, God has forgotten you…you’re still in pain. Yes, I’m still in pain, but God hasn’t forgotten me. There may be a reason He is allowing the pain, what that may be, I don’t know. But this I know; His plan is better and greater than what I have planned for my life. Therefore, I trust Him.

There is also Spiritual healing. This is the most important kind of healing. God wants us to have an abiding relationship with Him, and He wants to heal us of all those things that separate us from Him. Burdens that keep us from reaching out to Him can all be dissolved when we give them to Him. The biggest restriction to a relationship with God is not accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Without Him, our relationship with Him is severed, and we have no one to lift us up when we are battling issues in our life. Sin blocks our feeble attempts at prayer, if we even try and pray, and it blocks our relationship with Him. God desires to take us into His family. He wants to heal those places deep in our soul that leave us defeated. Jesus came to this earth to make a bridge to God through His ministry, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. By accepting His sacrifice and making Him Lord of our lives, He will heal our hearts.

Emotional healing is also available. So many of us have things from our past that burden us and sometimes make us emotional wrecks. There are those who deal with a past that they would not want anyone to know about. But Jesus already knows all about it. He is the only One who can heal those wounds from our past. He took our pain, our sickness, our emotional scars, and healed them because He took the stripes for our healing at His Crucifixion. I Peter 2:24 says,” Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (KJV) Notice the verse says, “ye WERE healed.” Our healing was finished on the cross. Our healing was accomplished when Jesus took the beating for us. His shed blood covered our sins, completed our healing, and brought us freedom from sin, and Satan’s hold on us.

I look at our verse today and I love what it says. We will go forward and skip around like newborn calves. Have you ever watched newborn calves once they have had a chance to get their legs under them? They bounce around the field, enjoying life, and being free from any care or struggle. We can be like that when we trust in Jesus to take what is holding us back. Whatever it is, physical, emotional, or Spiritual, His healing gives us freedom.

Something else that stood out to me in our verse…God has healing in His wings. The Bible describes God and His love for us as being like a mother hen, spreading her wings out over her chicks in protection from the storm. God protects us much like the mother hen, and His “wings” have healing to cover us from the effects of the storm, of the battle, of past regrets, and from the effects of sin.

He desires for us to reach out to Him and seek His healing, trust in His Amazing Grace, His Abiding Love, and His Unfathomable Blessings.

God is our Hope

Today we are looking at Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NASB) This verse is an encouragement for me today, especially. My family is going through a hard time right now, and the way things look on the surface, it’s difficult to have hope in the situation. But this verse tells me that God is “the God of hope”.

God know each one of us, and He knows what situations we are facing. When our hearts break, His also breaks. When we rejoice, He is right there rejoicing with us. Jesus knows what we go through because He has been there. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (NASB) The word “tempted” can also have a meaning of being tested. Satan is always looking for ways to test us to see if we will stay faithful to God. Especially, new Christians. The enemy brings doubt and accusation, telling us that now that we are Christians, we shouldn’t be doing the things we did before, and if we do, then maybe we really aren’t a Christian at all. That my friends, is a lie straight from the pit of Hell! The enemy tried to tempt Jesus when He walked on this earth. But notice, Hebrews says that Jesus went through the temptations, but didn’t sin. Therefore, He has experienced the same things we have, and He came through victorious!

When we go through trials, God gives us Hope. Notice our verse today says that God’s hope will fill us with joy and peace, and when He does that, our hope in Him will increase through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I can rest in the knowledge that God has this, and even though we may go through the trial, He has the solution, and in the end, what we go through is for our good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This verse has been a “go-to” for Christians since I can remember. Although it is true, God works all things for our good, what we may be going through may not be good. When my first husband died, this verse was recited to me, I don’t know how many times. At that point, I wasn’t very receptive to that verse. How could my husband having strokes that eventually took his life, be good? How could me being a widow be good? It took me quite a while for me to realize that the verse doesn’t say everything will be good, nor that God gave us those trials. But what it says is, that God takes the situation we are in and makes good out of it. Then we can have hope. His blessing of working through the situation is a result of the hope we eventually can obtain.

Today’s verse also says that God will fill us with “joy and peace in believing”. As we increase faith in God and what He promises, hope increases, faith increases, joy increases, peace increases. We become filled with these gifts from Him. That allows us to rest in Him.

Sometimes the things we go through are of our own doing. Then we reap the consequences of our actions. So, does that mean that God didn’t know what we were going to do and didn’t stop us? No, He knew, but because He gives us free will, it is up to us to be obedient to His will, and when we aren’t then we must pay the consequences and then there are lessons to be learned, sometimes the hard way. The take away I get from that is, God is always there, waiting for us to come to ourselves, and realize that His way is always best, and when we have learned what it is that we needed to learn, then we realize that the experience was for our good, so that we move to the next level in our daily walk with Jesus. He gives us hope through the trials, He gives us hope that will strengthen our faith, and help us to walk in a manner worthy of His calling.

 

Count it All Joy

I’ve been on vacation for the last month so, I haven’t had an opportunity to blog or do my Bible Journaling. I must say, I have missed this time of getting into God’s Word and sharing with you. Today’s Bible Journaling is from James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (KJV) Divers temptations can be defined as trials, those hard situations that we go through in life. They can also literally be temptations.

Patience! Boy that is a big one for me. I am really bad about being patient. That goes along with my issue of anger. They kind of go hand in hand. I think this is a life-long struggle…I am more like my earthly father than I am my Heavenly Father, and that is something that bothers me, especially in this area. As a kid, I vowed I would never be like my Dad. He had a hair trigger temper, and I’m just like him. It makes me angry at myself because I don’t want to be like that. As hard as I try, every time something happens that sets me off, I automatically go to my default of being angry or being impatient.

James says that the trying of our faith works patience….so that means the only way to gain patience is through trials. Now, trials can be anything from life happening, hard situations, to our own expectations of how things should be. I have to admit, sometimes I do better with hard things like the death of my first husband, as hard as that was, than I do with everyday irritations. As I was doing my journaling today I realized that it’s the everyday stuff that seems to trip me up. Dealing with people that seem to have a knack of finding my “buttons” and pushing them just to see me blow. Sometimes it happens so quickly I don’t realize it until the storm is already passed, or the words are already out of my mouth. The counting to ten thing before speaking just doesn’t seem to work for me. I can’t seem to get to that point of even starting with one. It’s an automatic reaction to get angry or become aggravated.

While I was journaling the page, I had to remind myself that I need to “count it all joy”, and the realization came that there is joy in trials. Maybe we don’t realize it as we are going through it, but after we have had a chance to look back, we can see periods of growth in our lives, and those growth periods come during trials. There are times when the hard stuff comes that we can be glad we went through it, but we wouldn’t want to go through it again. We learn things through those hard struggles in life. If you are like me, we find ourselves going around the same mountain trying to conquer the same thing, over and over again. God tends to keep us there until we learn our lesson. I have a tendency to be hard-headed…so God has to practically beat me over the head to get me to learn anything. I feel sorry for Him …. how patient He is with me! My desire is to have that same patience. I am definitely a work in progress.

Trials are a necessary part of life. They take us from one level to another. The struggles we face are in preparation for the next level, where we need to use what we have just learned. They also show us God’s faithfulness. We can see that if He brought us through this trial, He can, and will, bring us through the next one. He doesn’t leave us to struggle alone, He walks with us, encouraging us, and helping us get through the trial so that we can come out victorious on the other side. And, in the meantime, we learn something as well.

If you are disappointed with yourself like I am, just remember, we are a work in progress, and even though we don’t want to go through those struggles, they are placed in our lives to help us grow and become more like our Heavenly Father. Be encouraged! Remember, He will never leave you to fend for yourself, He is always with you.

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!

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.