God Keeps His Promises

Today’s Bible Journaling is from II Corinthians 1:20, “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God.” (CSB) Today has been one of those days…I am convinced that there is something about this study that the enemy doesn’t want brought out. I woke up this morning and took a bath and when I got out of the tub and got dressed, I got so dizzy I could barely stand. My hubby had to help me to a chair and bring my hair dryer and things so I could dry my hair and then brought my vitamins and medicine and breakfast to me because I could hardly stand up without the room spinning. After sitting for a while, eating my breakfast, taking my meds, and drying my hair, I began to feel better. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, my hubby went downstairs to the basement only to discover that the sewer had backed up into our basement and left about 4 inches of water down there.

All these things have been a distraction this morning and have made it hard to concentrate on my journaling. I said something to my hubby about how I thought this was a Spiritual attack, and we prayed together and rebuked Satan’s attempt at distracting us from what God had called us to do, my hubby and his work on his commentary on the book of Revelation and me from my Bible Journaling and blog.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I look at the Scripture and am reminded first of all that God has made promises to us. The second thing I am reminded of is that God keeps His promises. Every promise He has made in the past, He has fulfilled. There are promises for the future that we can be certain that He will make good. His promises are “Yes!” That means He intends to keep that promise! We can trust Him! He will never turn His back on us, He will never make a promise and then break it. Because of that we can say, “AMEN!” God will receive the glory because others will see how God has kept His promises in our lives.

With the situation today, God has always promised His protection. The water leakage could have been much worse, running into the house, but thankfully it didn’t because God has promised protection over us and our property. My illness could have been much worse, causing me to go to the hospital, but it wasn’t because God had His Hand on me and in effect, told the dizziness, “This far and no farther.”

The same is regarding the devices Satan tries to bring into our lives to distract us from following God. I think of Job and the trials he had. Satan wanted to throw everything including the kitchen sink at him to prove to God that Job would turn his back on God. But God gave Satan limits…God told Satan that he could do what he wanted but he couldn’t take Job’s life. (Job 1:6-12) Satan does have power, but he can only do what God allows. That should give us peace because we know that Satan is allowed to do only so much, even though it seems like the end of the world, God will not let him totally destroy us.

We can trust God because of His promises. We can trust that He will fulfill those promises, we can trust that we are safely in His Hand. We can have faith that whatever happens, God is with us and we can run to Him for security and safety. He is our Abba Father and He loves us. He will not allow anything to happen to us that isn’t under His protection or will. Are you facing trials that seem to destroy you? Trust God, He promises to keep you in the safety of His Hand. Has He kept promises He made to you? Then give Him praise and relate those fulfilled promises to those around you. Not only will it encourage you, it will encourage others also.

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God Has a Plan

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Isaiah 14:24-27. As I searched for a way to create artwork for this passage, I came upon an image in Pinterest that seemed to resonate with me, so I traced it into my Bible. The image is of the cross with a heart on it. God’s love poured out on the cross.

Because this Scripture is a long passage, I won’t include it here, but I encourage you to read the passage for yourself. I read the entire 14th chapter to get background on this section. The chapter is about Israel’s release from Babylon, and they are taunting Babylon, telling them what God will do to them. In the last part of the chapter God says he will lay Assyria and Philistia to ruin for their persecution of His people. What I want to focus on is, throughout this passage God says, “I have planned”, and the 27th verse popped out at me,” For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it?”

I think what jumped out at me in this passage was not only does God have a plan, but His plan can not be stopped or changed unless He deems it. His timing is not our timing, nor His thoughts or plans like ours. (Isaiah 55:8) Oftentimes that means we are waiting on His timing for His plan in our lives to work itself out. The song, “While I’m Waiting” by Josh Waller is playing, and it’s the perfect song for this idea of God’s plan not being ours. God sees the end from the beginning and knows what He will do in our lives. His plan is far better than our plan will ever be.

As I look at the image of the cross with the heart, I’m thinking that God’s greatest plan was to send His Son to die on the cross for our sins and take our place as the punishment for our sin. God had that plan from the foundation of creation. Adam and Eve’s sin did not come as any surprise to Him and He already had a plan in place!

As for me, I can relate with the “hurry up and wait” idea. I seem to spend a lot of my life in that mode. Patience has never been a strong suit of mine, so waiting on God to do something in a specific situation sometimes gets very frustrating for me. But then, I must remember that He knows what He’s doing in my life far better than I do. I’m so glad He has a plan for my life, for without His plans, my life would be a mess! I can not even think of what my life would be like without Him. He has taken me on an adventure that is unequal to any other. I have been places I never would have imagined being. I’ve done things that, as a kid, I never would have dreamed doing! Waiting on His plan in my life is the best thing for me to do.

Even the hard times have not been as bad as they could have been, because He has walked right beside me through each situation. I didn’t have to go through those times alone. His presence was always with me, and it is still today. The joys of life seem that much better and the sorrows of life aren’t as dark as they could be. Even those times when I felt I was at the bottom of a very dark hole, God was with me, so I wasn’t alone, and He let me crawl up into His lap and cry and pour my heart out to Him as He wrapped His arms around me. Even the hard times are part of His plan, and He allows them to show me how much I desperately need Him and rely on Him. In the mountain top experiences, He rejoiced with me, and life was one big party! Those times were just that much sweeter with Him at my side. Each step of my life is planned out by God, and it is for my good and for His Glory! He receives all the praise and honor for what He is accomplishing in my life. Praise God for His plan!

Count the Cost

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Luke 14:28, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he enough to complete it?” (NASB) I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not much of a planner. Give me a daily planner and you will most likely see an empty planner! Although, if I have a specific task to do, say planning a party, I will figure out all I need.

I have never been one of those “This is where I want to be in five years” kind of people. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that all my planning goes out the window, because God has my life and He knows where He’s taking me, I’m just along for the ride. For example, I moved from Ohio to Montana and said, OUT LOUD, “I will never move cross country again!” WRONG! Ten years later I moved from Montana to Southern Illinois! It was a God thing for sure. I often tell people that when I made that statement God just laughed and said, “Oh yeah?”

On the other hand, there is something to be said for planning. Jesus used the example of someone building a tower. When my first hubby and I built our house in Montana, we had to sit down with a contractor and draw out our plans so he could draw a blueprint. That blueprint was his roadmap on how much material he needed and the exact dimensions and placing of each room in the house. Without the blueprint, he wouldn’t be able to build a strong, sturdy, house that would withstand the elements.

Our lives are like building that house. Without a goal or a plan, we wander aimlessly through life, not knowing where we are going. Are there parts of our lives we would like to change? How badly do we want to change them? If we are intent on changing, then we must sit down and “count the cost”. What will it take for us to make that change? Will there be discomfort in changing…most likely there will. Are we willing to endure the hardship to make that change? What steps must we take to bring about that change? All of these things need to be considered when we come face to face with parts of our lives that we are unhappy about or want to make better.

Planning means taking the time to evaluate what it is we need to be doing, how we are going to go about bringing that change, and above all…praying for God’s help in moving forward to overcome during the hard times and becoming the person He has created us to be. I know what needs to change in my life, and this year I need to be intentional about bringing about that change. My first issue is getting the courage to actually start! I guess I’m more of the “I need a swift kick in the pants” type of person.

For example, I need to lose weight (don’t we all?) That involves dieting and exercise. I’ve fallen off the diet wagon this past year and gained all the weight I lost. A lot of it has to do with exercises…my back pain has kept me from getting into it again. However, if I don’t get up off the recliner and get moving, I’ll be in worse shape than I am now. So, I need to make the time (set an alarm? schedule time? be determined?) to get this done so that it will help me lose weight. I need to be committed to sticking to my diet…no more munchies of potato chips and pretzels…but eating healthy snacks, and in limited amounts. I’ve lost the weight doing this and I know I can do it…I just need to make up my mind and be determined to get this done.

The same applies with our Spiritual lives. We must sit down and be determined to change or move forward in areas that will draw us closer to God. That may involve scheduling a Quiet Time with the Lord…if it means putting it on your calendar, then do that, as a reminder that you need to spend time with God. I’m not a morning person, so praying and reading my Bible when I first get up is not good. I can barely function much less concentrate on what I’m reading, and have it stick. So, I do my Bible Journaling, which becomes my Quiet Time with Him, later in the morning or sometimes in the afternoon when I can retain what I’m reading and praying for His guidance in what I’m supposed to do, in journaling and in life.

We are at the beginning of a new year, and it’s a good time to decide how we are going to go about doing what it is God wants us to do, and how we can follow Him closer, so that we become the person He has created us to be.

Jesus-Our Wonderful Counselor

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (NASB) The names of Jesus struck me, but mostly the name of Wonderful Counselor.

In researching what this means, I found a website called “Walk in the Word” by James MacDonald. (https://jamesmacdonald.com/jesus-the-wonderful-counselor/) He had some insightful things to say about the name given Jesus as Wonderful Counselor. As we read this passage in Isaiah, James MacDonald says, “Isaiah says, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor.” He’s not the angry counselor, the gruff counselor, or the disconnected counselor. He understands what we’re going through and can advise us while He accompanies us through whatever we are facing. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).” (CSB)

He also explained the meaning of Wonderful. It is not as we would think of today, but we need to look at it from the perspective of Isaiah. MacDonald says, “…the Hebrew word for wonderful is “pela” which actually means wonder or miracle. So the “wonderful” in Wonderful Counselor doesn’t just mean delightful and pleasing but also miraculous. He is a miracle-working Counselor who does what no one else can do for you. The biblical idea of counsel involves both careful listening and clear advising. It describes someone who is wise; someone who really knows how to live and will share that knowledge.”

Just think, Jesus is our miracle-working Counselor, someone who knows what we are going through, who guides us with wisdom and understanding. He also walks with us through those times when we are confused or do not understand the what’s and why’s of the situation. He directs our pathway. (Isaiah 48:17) Proverbs 16:9 says that He “establishes our steps.” (NIV)

He is far greater than any human counselor can be. People can only give advice, imperfect as we are, for we can offer only what we understand. God Himself, Jesus, has perfect understanding because He sees our lives from beginning to the end. He sees the whole picture, and we can only see a portion. He also knows what He wants to accomplish in our lives. He has a plan mapped out for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (NIV) His plans are the best for our lives. We may think we have our lives all planned out, but they can’t supersede what God has in store for us. It’s up to us to decide to follow God’s plan for us or not. He has only good in mind for our lives. The end result is for our betterment, even if the situation may not seem good at the time, the result is for our good.

How many times have we gone through something that was so horrible that we would not want to ever repeat it? But once it is over and we’ve come through it victoriously, we have found that if it were not for the experience, where we are right now would never have come about if we had not gone through it. Jesus’ counseling, guiding, leading, and directing has brought us to a higher level of relationship with Him, and we have become stronger in the process.

I look back at my life and I can see His Hand in so many areas. I have often said that my life is an adventure with Jesus. I have had so many experiences that I never would have imagined when I was a young teenager. One example is my life with my first husband. When I was in high school, if someone would have told me that I would be on radio and television, I would have told them they were crazy, and yet God saw fit to have me meet my first husband and marry him, and enter the world of broadcasting, because he was a chief engineer of Christian radio and television and we found ourselves on the air in front of a mic or TV camera quite often. This was not something I had planned for myself, but Jesus guided me, “counseled” me, and led me into a life of ministry that has spanned almost 50 years.

I praise God for being my Counselor. Left to my own devices, I would have made a miserable mess out of my life. He knows and loves me, and He wants the best for me! Are you going through a time of difficulty or indecision? Look to Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, He will walk with and guide you.

Adopted into God’s Family

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (ESV) The thought that popped out at me in this passage was the idea of adoption. Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection made the way for us to be adopted into God’s family.

Jesus came as a baby, fully human, to be our Sacrificial Lamb, to redeem us from the penalty of our sins. The verse says “when the fullness of time came…” At the right time, and in the right place, God sent His Son to be born of a virgin. Jesus was fully God and yet He was fully human. Before Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, humankind was under the law. God gave Moses the law so that we would be faced with the fact that we are not perfect, and can not fulfil the law, but God sent Jesus to rescue us from the penalty of not following the law. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God adopts us into His family. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12 KJV) Because of that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. We experience God’s grace and mercy because of our acceptance of His Son and His finished work on the cross.

Now, in the Old Testament, those who trusted and obeyed God, the Father, were accepted by God as His people. They were faithful to Him and worshipped Him. But they still had to offer sacrifices for their sins because Jesus had not yet come to take the penalty for their sins. Romans 9:4 says, “…Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.” (NIV)

Once Jesus’ sacrifice was completed, the sacrifice of animals was no longer needed because He was the final sacrifice. When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and forgive us of our sins, He does just that, and we then become children of God through adoption.

Adoption is such an awesome thing. It takes a child who is without a family and makes them part of a family. By law, that child is a bonafide member of that family, they have the same rights legally as a child born into that family. Because of Jesus and what He did for us, we can be part of God’s family and become a child of God. We can share in the same rights that Jesus has. God doesn’t see our sin, but He sees Jesus’ shed blood covering our sins and we are made perfect because of His blood shed for us. Ephesians 1:5 says, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (NIV)

I have a friend who has adopted several children. Those children are her kids! She sees no difference between her blood birthed children and her adopted ones. She loves them all equally. In God’s family, God sees us as His sons and daughters, there is no difference between Jesus and us…we are His! We have the same rights of sonship as our big brother, Jesus!

I am so grateful to God for adopting me into His family. I can go to my Abba Father anytime and talk to Him about my struggles, my joys, my anxieties, and those things I need His help with. Jesus’ birth and death has helped make all of that possible, and I love Him so much for what He has done for me!

Jesus-Our Good and Perfect Gift

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from James 1:17, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (NLT) As I was reading this today, my first thought was, our good and perfect gift is Jesus. God gave us His Son as a gift for our salvation because He loves us.

I think especially at Christmas some tend to think only of the Baby in the manger and not think about why He came. The Christmas story for some is just a nice little story about a baby who was born in a stable and laid in a manger and was visited by shepherds and wise men. The core point of why He came as a baby never seems to come to their minds. For some, Jesus is left as a Baby in a manger, and His ministry and sacrifice don’t seem to have an effect. But for the Believer, Christmas and Easter is tied together. His birth, death, and resurrection complete the picture.

When I lived in Northern Wisconsin, I was choir director at our church. One Christmas we did a play/cantata called, “Born to Die.” The fact that those who played the acting parts were unable to memorize their lines and had to read from the script, did not deter from the message of the whole cantata. It was a powerful production relating a modern day “prodigal son” who, at the end comes home and finds his family at the Christmas service in church, he hears the Gospel from Jesus’ birth to His death and resurrection, is convicted, and turns his heart over to Jesus and finally comes home, repentant and forgiven. The production had an amazing effect on our congregation…people were weeping! You see, it wasn’t just a nice Christmas play, with the manger scene, it was the story of how God gave the gift of His Son to save a young man who had wandered far away from Him, and how He lovingly wooed that young man back to His side.

Jesus was a PERFECT gift because He “knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21). He lived a perfect, sinless life, yet was still human, experienced the things we experience, was tempted, was victorious over that temptation, and knows just what we endure on this earth. God’s requirement for punishment for our sins was perfection, spotless, and pure! Just as God required a blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb, “without spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27), Jesus is our Sacrificial Lamb. He willingly gave up His life so that we could have eternal life. He died because He loves us, and He wants to have a relationship with us. The following verse, James 1:18, says that we “became His prized possession.” He chose us to be one of His own, and He would give anything, including His Son, for us to be His!

All we need to do is accept His gift. Ask Jesus to live in our hearts, make Him Lord and Master, have complete control over our lives, and then live for Him for the rest of our lives. Salvation is so simple a small child can do it! Nothing complicated, just talk to Jesus, ask Him to live inside of you, ask forgiveness for your sins, and then choose to live for Him. When I was a Sunday School teacher for 4 and 5-year-old’s, this became so clear to one of my little ones. His face beamed as he said, “Jesus didn’t stay dead!” He not long after that accepted Jesus as his Savior at 5 years old. He understood that Jesus lives today. That was over 35 years ago, and although I’ve lost track of him, I’m hopeful that he remained true to his promise to live for Jesus and knows without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus lives in His heart and that he is a godly man today.

If you have never asked Christ to be your Savior, it isn’t too late to turn your life over to Him. He’s waiting for you to come home!

Our Hope

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from I Peter 1:13, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” When I read this from the devotion time the Scripture comes from, I wondered why this verse was used for Christmas…it just didn’t seem to be a Christmas kind of verse. But, as I went through the devotion, I began to see where it can apply to this Season.

The first thing the verse tells us is to gird up our loins. Now, in modern times, this phrase doesn’t mean much to us. I mean…what does it mean to gird up your loins? In Bible times, people wore long robes. If they needed to do something like running a race, take a journey, or do work of any kind, they needed to fasten their robe so that it didn’t get in the way of what they were doing. It denotes getting prepared, becoming ready to accomplish the task you are about to undertake. The commentary I read (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible) referenced the Israelites as they prepared to leave Egypt. They were to leave at a moment’s notice, so they had to be sure that everything was ready so that they could take off quickly. We are to have our minds prepared for this journey we call the Christian life. We are also to be sober-minded, not allowing anything to distract us from the things God calls us to do, keeping our minds focused on Jesus and the precepts the Bible teaches us to apply to our lives.

Our Scripture also says we are to “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In trying to answer a question in the devotion about what it means to hope for grace, I turned to the commentary. The commentary said the Arabic version of the verse interprets it to mean “trusting with confidence.” So, I understand that we are to trust confidently or completely in the grace God gives us through Jesus as He is revealed to us. That hope comes us through trusting in the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty for our sin completely.

The revelation of Jesus as I see it, is the birth of Jesus, coming to earth, as fully God and fully human. That hope we have when we ask Jesus into our hearts and make Him the Lord and Master of our lives, is because of His birth, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection!

When we live in preparation for whatever He has for us to accomplish as His followers, stay focused on that task He has given us, and trust completely and confidently in what He has done for us, we not only have hope for today, but we have hope for the future. We, as Believers, look forward to, or HOPE, in the eternal LIFE with Him we receive, and we anxiously await His return to come for those who are still alive at the time of the Rapture of the Church.

Therefore, Christmas is a celebration of that revelation. We rejoice because Jesus has come to do the work that God the Father commissioned Him to do, He accomplished it perfectly, and we are the recipients of that work. His grace, unmerited favor, is poured out on us when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We receive what we do not deserve (eternal life) and are released from what we do deserve (eternal death.)

I hope that you have accepted Jesus into your heart and are trusting in His finished work on the cross. Rejoice! Our Savior has come! May you and your loved ones have a very Merry and Blessed CHRISTmas!