Confidence is Mediated by the Holy Spirit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Ephesians 1:13-14, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.” (CSB) The Holy Spirit’s purpose is not only to draw us to Jesus, but to help us in our daily walk with the Lord. One way He helps us is in assisting us to have confidence in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our confidence is then mediated by the Holy Spirit. Mediation, in this instance, is defined as “intervention in a process of relationship; intercession. The Holy Spirit helps us have confidence in Jesus, He encourages us to step forward when God is leading us into territory that is unfamiliar. As an example, when I felt God calling me to begin to minister through a blog, I was very hesitant. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, didn’t even know how to begin. The Holy Spirit, through the counsel of my Pastor and others who journal and blog, encouraged me to begin. It was a slow beginning, and in some ways, it still is. But, without the prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out of my comfort zone, I would never have begun my ministry through Bible Journaling and this blog. I don’t claim to be an organized ministry to the point of being incorporated or needing licensing or any of the things full-time ministries do, but to the few that read my journaling, I am endeavoring to minister hope, healing, salvation, and encouragement. I have no grand ideas that my blog will develop into some huge ministry with thousands of followers. I am content to share with those who find my blog or read my entries on Facebook. God never said it would be earth shattering, but it is what He has called me to do, and I pray that it influences the tiny corner of the world I reach.

There may be something that God is calling you to do, but you have been hesitant to step out in faith. It’s scary beginning something new. However, if you truly feel God is leading you to begin something you are not accustomed to doing, rely upon the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the confidence that God will guide you in the way you are to proceed. Is God calling you to minister in your church? It may not be something as prominent as singing or playing on the worship team or teaching a Sunday School class, but there are other positions that are needed in the church, that a lot of times, must be done by the pastor because no one else will step up. His or her calling is to be the shepherd of the congregation, not the janitor. Maybe there is a need for nursery duty or hospitality. Our church has a dear lady who quietly ministers by sending cards to those in our church who need encouragement. She sends our pastor something almost every week to help him and lift him up. He needs that little push to be able to minister to us. That is her ministry! Something like that, even though it seems so trivial, can be just the thing to help someone who is struggling.

The Holy Spirit seals us so that we have the assurance that we belong to God, and because of this, we have confidence that whatever God has for us in our walk with Him, we know that it is for our good, and will help us to grow daily as we seek to live our lives in glory and honor to Him.

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God’s Grace Transforms Us

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.