The Beatitudes – Blessed Are You

Today’s Bible Journaling is dealing with the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:1-11, “One day as He saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went upon the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around Him and He began to teach them. ‘God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the Children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of things against you because you are My followers.’” (NLT)

In this month of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for God’s blessings, and for the most part I think we consider mostly the physical things but tend to see the Spiritual blessings as maybe not as important, or maybe taking a close second. My devotion asked the question, “Which beatitude speaks to you the most?” I really struggled with that. Because like most people, I considered the physical things immediately as important…food, housing, financial freedom, good health, but the Spiritual things didn’t come immediately to mind.

When I look at the Beatitudes, the blessings are things that touch the Spirit of our being. The more I looked at them, the more I began to realize something. The very first Beatitude seemed to be the basis of blessing for the rest. Blessed are we who realize that we NEED Jesus, for the Kingdom of Heaven is ours. Without Jesus, everything else just can not be possible. When we mourn, the Bible says Believers don’t mourn as others, because we have the hope of seeing our loved one again if they have accepted Jesus as their Savior, and we find comfort in that. Unbelievers don’t have that hope or that comfort. Those who are humble will inherit the earth. Humility comes from God. As Christians, we have inherited His attribute of humility. The world says, “Look at me!” and they disregard those who are meek or humble as being wimps, someone to ridicule and demean.

God blesses the pure in heart for they will see God. This, to me, speaks of our salvation and the relationship we have with Him. As Christians, our desire should be to have a continuous, close relationship with Jesus, for the Bible says He is the best friend we could ever have. (Proverbs 18:24) God blesses peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God. True peace comes only through a relationship with God and His son, Jesus, and listening to His Holy Spirit guide us. When we have His peace, we have the means to show peace and diffuse situations where there is no peace, because His peace is within us.

God blesses those who are persecuted for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. For those of us who live in countries like the United States, we don’t see too much in the way of persecution. But in other countries where being a Christian is a crime, persecution is a way of life. Some are persecuted to the point of death. Voice of the Martyrs is an organization that reaches out to those who are persecuted. The stories are heartbreaking, but I have heard stories where, because God has blessed them with a determination to keep following Him no matter what, and in the very end of their lives, they boldly proclaim Jesus as Lord, God gives them grace to face those horrific trials.

The last Beatitude I tend to put together with the persecuted. Because it talks about how God blesses us when people mock us, lie about us, and do evil against us because of our stand for Christ. In the U.S., that’s more the kind of persecution we face. We are truly blessed to live in a country where we can freely worship God without fear of the military breaking down our church doors and arresting every Believer. We have no idea what those in other countries face. I truly believe that, as Christians in the United States and other countries like ours, we need to ask God for forgiveness for being so self-righteous, smug even, in thinking that we deserve to live here and not face assault from the enemy of our souls. We should be thankful beyond measure that God has placed us in this land of freedom, and then pray for those who suffer needlessly for their faith.

Today, take stock of the Spiritual blessings God has granted. Our salvation is so precious because it was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. The least we can do is live a life of gratitude for everything we receive. Our salvation is the greatest blessing that God could ever bestow upon us!

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God Supplies

 

Today we are looking at Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.” This is a verse that is so familiar to Believers, that I think we sometimes just rattle it off without really thinking about what it says. When I first look at this verse, I notice something that I think most people either skip right over or don’t really consider. Notice that the Apostle Paul says that God will supply all our NEEDS, not necessarily our WANTS. I may want a lot of things, but they may not be good for me, so therefore; God will not supply anything that would do me harm.

When I look at my life, I see that God has indeed supplied every need I have. I have food on my table, I have a house to live in, my finances are in good shape, He gave me a husband to share my life with, a family that loves me, and He has directed me to a church family that surrounds me and upholds me in times of distress and in times of victory and joy. All these things are things that I NEED. My wants can get out of hand and will bring joy for only a short time, and then they are quickly forgotten and possibly even discarded.

God supplies Spiritual gifts also. He gives me salvation, peace, joy, strength, courage, and a friendship that goes beyond anything I can experience. As I stated yesterday, the gift of salvation is the greatest blessing we can receive. Because of that blessing we can then walk in victory, joy, peace, and have a relationship with Him that is everlasting.

The second thing I notice in the verse is, He gives according to HIS riches. He has riches far above anything we can even imagine. So, the best thing that we can imagine for ourselves is nothing compared to what He has for us. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We sometimes find ourselves in a period where we are discouraged, nothing seems to be going our way, life is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at us, and we come to a point of only looking at our circumstances and not looking at the Savior, who can help us overcome those circumstances. We don’t see the blessings He has already provided, and we become mired down in the pit of discontentment, complaining that nothing is going our way, and throw a 2-year old’s temper tantrum, shaking our fists at God, stomping our feet on the floor saying, “I want it MY way!”

It is then that we need to stop, take account of ourselves, count our blessings, ask for forgiveness, and thank Him for all He has done for us, then lift our voices in praise to God for His unsurpassable riches and blessings!

Being thankful for what we have has added benefits. Our spirits are made lighter, we find joy in everything around us, the sun seems to shine a little brighter, friendships are a little dearer, physically, we seem to enjoy better health, and we find a contentment that settles into peace in our hearts. God has given us more than we can ever desire. Today is a good day to thank Him for all He has done, all He is, and all He has given.

God’s Blessings

Today my Bible Journaling took me to John 1:16, “From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” (NLT) Today has been a fun day. Our church is participating in a fundraiser for our youth group. The kids decided to “decorate” an old toilet and the purpose is for the congregation to pay to have it removed from your yard when it arrives. Of course, you could buy insurance to keep it from showing up on your lawn, but what fun is that? LOL. Well this morning we got blessed! LOL It was passed along to us from some friends who had it yesterday. We’ve had a lot of laughs over it today with friends and family.

Today I am grateful and beyond blessed with the gift of laughter and with good friends who are so dear to us who feel free enough to prank us. But there is one blessing that is better than even having the ability to laugh or having great friends to joke around with, and that is the blessing of salvation. The Apostle John said that God has an abundance of blessings and He gives to us graciously. The best blessing is the offering of His Son, Jesus to take the punishment for our sins so that we could be saved from sin’s penalty of death.

Many people think that just going to church is what makes one a Christian. However, that’s not what God says. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (KJV) That means every single person has been born with a sin nature because of Adam’s sin at the very beginning. Every heart has a spirit of rebellion which is born in natural man. That is a spirit of rebellion against God. This creates a broken relationship with Him. God loved us so much, from the very beginning of time, that He created a plan to redeem us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) God provided a way of escape through His Son, Jesus. He is the only means by which we are saved. John 17:3 says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know the, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (KJV)

Jesus Himself said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9 KJV) Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (KJV) Each one of us must decide whether to accept God’s gift or reject it. If we decide to accept God’s gift, He brings us into His family. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become sons of God, even to those who believe on His name.” (KJV) Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that faith comes only through the grace of God. “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (KJV) There is nothing we can do to earn salvation. No amount good works will save us, only faith in God through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus is standing at the heart’s door of each person, asking to be invited in. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (KVJ) All that is required is that we ask Him to forgive us of our sins, invite Him into our lives, and then promise to live for him for the rest of our days, and endeavor to follow Him. That is the greatest blessing we can receive. The Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:12) We never know if we have even the next second. Once we have closed our eyes in death, it is too late, no more opportunities will be offered. If you haven’t yet asked Jesus to come into your heart and life, today is a good day to receive the best gift you could ever receive and blessings above anything you can imagine.

Be Grateful for God’s Blessings

Today we start a new devotion on blessings. Today’s Bible verse is Genesis 1:22, ‘“God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”’ (NASB) November is the month when our hearts turn to being thankful for the many blessings God has given us. This is the first blessing from God in the Bible. Today as I reflect on our verse, I am so grateful for God’s work in my life.

As I think about how He has blessed me, I am so thankful for the husband he brought to me in my later years. The man makes me laugh! That is such a blessing after spending such a long time in grief, despair, loneliness, and depression. I am so grateful to God for bringing me two amazing men to share life with. My first husband was my anchor…he kept me from flying off in all directions, and he taught me so many things, in the natural and Spiritually, that have stayed with me. My second husband is my joy. As I said, he makes me laugh and he is a solid Bible scholar. They both have added to my life immensely. Not many people can say they have had two awesome husbands who loved the Lord with all their hearts, were called by God to minister, one in broadcasting and the other in literature evangelism and hosting a website of commentaries on different books of the Bible. Both men have been a huge blessing in my life.

God has also chosen to bless me with a calling of ministry in my life as well, and my husband has been such an encouragement! He backs everything I do and lifts me up in prayer daily. This is an area I never would have dreamed of launching. It started with a prophetic word being spoken over me, and then God just opened doors for me to step through. At this point, it is just a small beginning, but I know this is where God wants me because He has given me such a peace in my heart as I minister.

There was a time when it was hard for me to see the blessings God had granted me. Life wasn’t looking all that great and I was in a deep hole. But as I look back, I’m grateful for that time even though it wasn’t easy, because I can see how God was taking care of me, holding me, guiding each footstep, and slowly, but surely, leading me out of that pit of despair I was in. Today, even though it is raining outside and gloomy, I’m walking in the sunshine of God’s love and mercy.

Being grateful isn’t just for Thanksgiving time, it’s for every day! The Bible says that we are to live with gratefulness in our hearts. Psalm 136: 1-3 says,” Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the God of gods, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (NASB) I Thessalonians 5:18, says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Gratefulness for the things God has given us helps us, not only physically, but Spiritually as well. When we focus our eyes upon what things God has done for our good, we see that we are truly blessed despite the difficulties we may be facing. Gratefulness promotes good health. Those who are living lives of gratefulness are less likely to be facing physical ailments. Gratefulness also brings health to our Spiritual lives. We are more likely to keep our eyes on the Savior instead of the circumstances, thereby allowing us to walk in victory even though life may be hard. So today, even though it may be difficult, say “thank you” to God. Think about all the things He has provided that are working out for your good. (Romans 8:28)

The Battle is Already Won

Today’s devotional is from John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage I have overcome the world.” (NASB) In our study on courage, we must remember that in the face of the battles we struggle with, we have already won. Notice Jesus said that we will have trouble! Tribulation, trials, problems, struggles…they are all part of life.

When I was a new Christian there was a movement going around that said once we became Believers, we would never have problems. Everything would be smooth sailing. The only problem with that is, as new Believers, the first battle we come up against, we begin to feel discouraged, some even think they have lost their salvation. But Jesus never said we wouldn’t have battles to face, in fact, He said that we would have to go through these things. It is a certain fact! My mind goes to a song that was popular when I was a late teen/early adult that said, “I never promised you a rose garden.” That is exactly the point! Jesus never promised that we would go through life unscathed, without difficulties.

But, Jesus has won the battle for us, therefore we are victors in those things that the enemy would throw into our pathway. Once we have become Christians, Satan is not a happy camper! That’s when he throws everything including the kitchen sink at us. He knows he can’t take away our salvation, but he can make it so that our witness is ineffective, that we become discouraged, that we lose our peace, and that we give up. I’ve heard Believers state that before they were Christians they didn’t have as many battles and problems as they did after becoming Believers. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Satan isn’t worried when we belong to him, but he is worried when we belong to HIM…the One who gives life, peace, joy, strength, and saves completely!

Notice that Jesus says we should take courage! We can rest in the knowledge that God already has the battle won. We do not have to walk defeated lives, we can find peace, strength, and encouragement as we fight those battles. We must remember that the battle is the Lord’s (I Samuel 17:47), and it is He who fights our battles. Now, that doesn’t mean we just sit back and not try to fight. But what it means is, He fights with us, and it is He who brings the final victory.

My battle with anger is a prime example. Yes, Jesus has won the battle for me, but it is up to me to try and control my anger. Every victory is because He has given me the strength and courage to fight to get my anger under control. For me, this a life long battle. I win by baby steps. I am far from where I need to be, but I must say, I have seen some improvements. Satan knows how to get me to the point of exploding, I just need to recognize what weapons he uses to cause me to fail, and then fight against them.

As we walk out this life as Believers we know we do not walk alone. God is walking right next to us. He is fighting for us, encouraging us, strengthening us, helping us to become strong in our faith, to live lives that would draw others to Jesus. Be encouraged, you are not alone!

Trusting in God Develops Courage

Today’s Bible study is from Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.” Courage isn’t something that comes easily. We get attacked from every side and amid those attacks, we find that in our own strength we are defeated and haven’t much courage to face the battle. Today as I am doing my Bible Journaling, I am really struggling to concentrate. I have had a growing sinus headache, and even though I have taken medication and asked the Lord to ease the pain, it is still with me. I seriously believe that this is one of the tools Satan uses to distract us from doing the things God is calling us to do.

David had similar problems. When we read the 31st chapter of Psalm, David is praying to God, pouring out his heart of all the things, people, and situations that are coming against him. Enemies were seeking to kill him, others were being judgmental about his sin and attacking him with slurs and gossip, he is grieving deeply in his heart over the results of his sin, to the point where he physically has “wasted away” (verse 10), and he is discouraged. However, sprinkled throughout the chapter David reminds himself that God is the one who is his source of strength, his deliverer, his refuge, and in the end, David reminds us that we are to “be strong and let your heart take courage.” We can do this when we hope or trust in God. It is God who gives us the strength and the courage to face the things that come against us.

Satan knows our weak points and he knows just what buttons to push to cause us to turn away from trusting God. We can find hope in our lives in Jesus. David, in the middle of his sorrow and pain, declared in verse 14, “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”’ We need to remind ourselves that we are not forgotten, God knows where we are, He knows the battle we face, and He is right beside us. Therefore, we can trust Him. We can put our full faith and belief in Him to deliver us and to give us the courage to face those hardships.

For me, the struggles at this stage in my life have been physical pain and trying to win the battle over my anger issues. Satan is constantly at me, trying to get me to become distracted and turn away from God. My husband says the attacks are coming because I have determined in my heart to Bible Journaling and blogging as a means of ministry to others. This may be true. But the funny thing is, I have been in ministry work almost my entire adult life and the attacks have never been this constant or severe. My pastor has said that when the enemy attacks, it means that something is about to happen to where we are heading for another level in our walk with the Lord, and Satan is pulling out all the stops to prevent us from succeeding and becoming an effective Christian in our witness to others. He’s running scared and he’s throwing everything he can think of in our pathway to derail us.

Without God to give us the courage and strength to persevere in those times of hardship, we would fail miserably, and our witness would be ineffective. We can find victory when we place our trust in Him. He hears our heart’s cry and He is ready to give us what it is we need. Then we can boldly say, as David did, “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”’

The Armor of God

Today’s devotion is from Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (NASB) The question is, how do we become strong in the Lord? If you read Ephesians 6:10-18, the Apostle Paul tells us. We are to put on the whole armor of God. Each piece of the armor is important. As Believers, we are in a battle daily. It is a battle that we don’t necessarily see in the flesh and is mostly a Spiritual battle being waged between the old man and the new man.

The first element of the armor of God is the Belt of Truth. We must seek out truth and that is found in God’s Word. Without knowing what is true, we have no defense against the lies of the enemy. The Bible says that Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies. John 8:44 says that he has no truth in him. So, when he speaks, he lies, and we must know the truth to be discerning when we hear him speak and know what we hear is not truth. We must also speak truth and believe the truth of the Bible.

The second element is the Breastplate of Righteousness. The Breastplate is extremely important because it protects the vital organs of the soldier’s body. Having the Breastplate of Righteousness is a protection against Satan’s attacks. Right living is also a testimony to others of the work God has done in our lives. Again, the only way to know how God expects us to live, is to read His Word and apply His principles and laws to our lives and exhibit those precepts so that unbelievers will see and know that God has made a change in our lives and is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to us.

Element number three is footwear…the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace. First of all, peace comes only through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are to spread the Gospel to others and to do that we must be prepared. Again, we are to search the Scriptures, hide God’s Word in our hearts, and go out to share the Good News that Jesus brings peace. Knowing God’s Word helps to strengthen us and helps others to know that they can rely on Him to deliver them.

The Shield of Faith is our next piece of armor. Shields fend off the attack of swords and other weapons of warfare delivered by the enemy. Satan wants to weaken our faith and he will throw all kinds of ammunition at us to derail our faith. Reading God’s Word, assembling with fellow Believers to be encouraged, learning more of God and His love for us, and remembering the times God has delivered us, all go toward strengthening our faith.

The next element of the armor is the Helmet of Salvation. Salvation is where our journey begins. Salvation is accepting Jesus into our hearts and lives, allowing Him to take total control, repenting for our sins, and endeavoring to live for Him for the rest of our lives. Joyce Meyer says that the battlefield is the mind, and it is true. It is one of Satan’s favorite areas to try and defeat Christians. He will try to deceive us into thinking that we have lost our salvation, or at least are a horrible Christian, and so we should give up trying to live a godly life. The helmet protects the head; therefore, the Helmet of Salvation is to protect us from the lies the enemy tries to place in our minds.
The last element of the armor is the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. We are to read it daily for instruction, for encouragement, and for strength. As you look at the armor, notice it is the only piece of armor that is used for defense. The Sword is the only means of defense we have against Satan. The Bible says that God’s Word is a two-edged sword. It is given for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. (II Timothy 3:16-17) Not only does it teach us, but it also shows us our sins and where we have messed up so that we can repent and correct our relationship with Jesus, and then in turn, as we bury His Word into our hearts, we can use it to fight against the enemy’s attacks. Jesus showed us how to use the Word to fight back when He was being tempted by Satan.

Satan knows the Word of God also, but he twists things around to mean something it doesn’t say. Jesus quoted Scripture in response to every temptation Satan brought before Him. Satan had no defense, because He knew that God’s Word is true, and his lies were no match for God’s Word.

The one thing you will notice about the armor of God is, there is no protection for the back. God does not want us to retreat or turn our back on the enemy. That is a very vulnerable position for the Believer. As the Army of God, we are to fight back to back, standing together to defeat the adversary of our souls. That is the reason meeting together as Believers is so vital. When one is weak, there are others who are strong who can help that one to gain strength in Christ. Having an accountability partner is a great help. We can keep each other from straying or retreating in the face of heavy opposition from the enemy, and that strengthens us when we are weak. Being with other Christians also encourages us to keep in the fight, and to rely on Jesus when the battle gets too hard.

So today, do you have your armor on? Are you prepared to fight the enemy? As Soldiers of God, put on your armor and prepare to win the battle against Satan’s attacks.