I like journals. I enjoyed reading the journals my children wrote in elementary school. I learned a lot about my children reading the thoughts they put in their little composition books; things they liked, things they looked forward to, and even their fears, pieces of their minds and hearts. Some days went like this... "Today is Monday. Yesterday was Sunday. Tomorrow is Tuesday." They were required to write three sentences and sometimes they ran out of ideas. I recommend keeping a journal, or just jotting things down on a wall or desk calendar. It is fun to look back at, and wonder how you kept it all together. One year someone gave me a gratitude journal where each entry began with thanksgiving. I often keep Bible Study journals and write down something God shows me from His Word as I read each day. This year my daughter gave me a journal and as I was wondering just how I wanted to begin this one I noticed the verse on the front cover, "With God All Things Are Possible. Matthew 19:26" I decided that it would be my "Things To Do Journal". We won't spend long on this, but maybe you will get some ideas on things to write in your journal. We will begin with Things To Remember and later try to look at Things To See, Things To Think On, Things To Pray About, and one of my most common items on my "Things To Do" lists, Things To Clean. Sometimes it all does seem overwhelming, but remember, "With God all things are possible."
Things To Remember
Journals are good for writing down things you want to remember. I think it helps me remember more about my Bible reading when I write down special verses and thoughts. I enjoy writing about my garden. I keep looking back at notes I took last year to see when we might get our first okra of the season. Today, in honor of Father's Day, I am remembering my Dad. I can look back over my life and say with King David, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." (Psalm 16:6) I am so thankful to God that I was brought up in a Christian home with godly parents. My Mom and Dad took our family to church and were faithful to God. They taught us to read the Bible and pray. I enjoy spending time with Mom. She helped me put down laminate flooring in my house, then we put flooring down in her house. We go shopping together and compare garden stories. We go to church together and even go on short trips just for the fun of it. I love my Mom and the time we have together. My Dad died in his sleep fifteen years ago and I have missed him through the years. He always loved his garden, and I would enjoy walking with him through my garden. I miss talking with him on the phone, and listening to him pray. I miss my Dad, but I still have joy this Father's Day because I know that one day I will see him again when I reach heaven.
Things To Think About
I try to take time to read for my daily quiet time, but there are so many diversions that make it difficult to stay on the right path. Even when the house is quiet, my mind often wanders and I find myself reading the same section over and over because I just can't concentrate on what I am reading. I am too busy thinking about other things, things I need to do, what to cook for dinner, and has the dryer buzzer sounded yet? Sometimes I stop, jot down my thoughts, and that clears my head so I can continue with my reading. That also happens at night when I am trying to go to sleep and I can't seem to shut down my mind. Many of my devotionals are written on the note page of my ipad at the midnight hour. When troublesome thoughts and fears rob me of my peace I remember Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." We are so bombarded with the things of the world it is sometimes hard to think on the good things of God. There are six descriptions in our verse above and it could be a helpful exercise to write one journal entry for each item for a week, then write your summary on the last day. For example, begin with things that are true, with a focus on the truth of God's Word. Think on the good things.
Things To Pray About
A few weeks ago our car was hit from behind while Michael sat at a stop light. The impact pushed him so hard into the car in front of him it totaled our car. So, while we had planned to drive the car several more years, we were suddenly faced with the job of looking for another car. I prayed that God would show us the car just right for us, and it took about three weeks for us to have peace about which car to buy. I felt sure God had a car for us, but it took several days of prayer to know His will. I usually remember to pray about the big things. But, what about the little things? If we really think about it we know that there are no big and no little things in the eyes of God. He knows all things. He knows all about our trials and storms. He knows when we have needs, whether physical, financial, mental, or even spiritual. He knows when we are hurting within ourselves, and when we are hurting for others. There is nothing that He doesn't know about us and there is nothing too big for Him to take care of and nothing too small for Him to care about. We are His children and He watches over us as a loving Father. What should we pray about? I believe that we should pray about everything. We read in I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." Another great prayer verse is Philippians 4:6. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Jesus encourages us to pray. "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22) And what about those times when we just can't find the right words to pray? The Spirit prays for us. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26)
Things To Do To Serve Others
I like to help people. But what I don't like is when I tell someone I will do something for them, and then I forget. A few days later I remember and I'm like, "Oh, I was supposed to (whatever) for (my used to be good friend.)" All kidding aside, it is bad to promise to help someone, then forget all about it. The older I get, the more forgetful I get, so writing things down in my journal has been a big help this year. Christ was a great example on serving others and not only does it please Him when we serve others, but He said it would make us happy too!
"12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:12-17)
My journal has become a long "To Do List" and several of the pages are filled with simple reminders of things I want to do for others. I use a pink highlighter and make a big check mark in the middle of each page as I complete that task. It helps me to know that I am accomplishing my goals, and also helping others along the way. It really does give us joy to serve others!
Things To Do To Have Spiritual Success
When I was a young teen a visiting preacher to our church challenged us to read through the entire Bible. That was the first time I ever read it all the way through. I really don't know how many times I have read through my Bible since then, but God opens my eyes to more understanding each time. I often pray that God will speak to me through His Word and I have kept journals, writing down special verses or thoughts as I read. In this journal I have a few pages with my reading goals and I set new goals each time I reach one. Reading God's Word is one thing we can do to have Spiritual success. Pastor Jack Tripp spoke on "Spiritual Success" Wednesday night and I want to borrow from his outline to continue these thoughts.
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
1. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart" - Before we can trust someone we have to know them, and we can trust the Lord when we know Him. We trust Him by faith, just as those we find listed in Hebrews 11.
2. "Lean not unto thine own understanding." - Read the Word of God - "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." (Joshua 1:8)
3. "In all thy ways acknowledge him." Recognize the hand of God, working in all the events of our lives. "And all things are of God..." (II Corinthians 5:18) "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
4. "He shall direct thy path." - Rejoice in the path of God. "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23) "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way." (Psalm 37:23)
Things To Clean
Most of the first part of my journal for this year is dedicated to spring cleaning. I began writing in January while the weather was cold, and before I started planning my vegetable garden. I think I am odd, because I like spring cleaning. It is easier for me to get things done when I have a list, so I made lists after lists of all the neglected places that I wanted to tackle. My granddaughter, Maggie, likes to pull everything out of my kitchen cabinets so that was one of the projects we tackled. I checked the dates on the food, washed everything down and then we put the good stuff back. I cleaned places nobody sees, like my closets, and things we don't think about very often, like ceiling fans. I had most of my lists complete, when spring came and I started working in my garden. Now I have fresh veggies to pick and can, so my housework is being neglected, but I am happy that it was deep-cleaned a few months ago. When the children were small I always liked Proverbs 14:4. "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." I enjoyed having the children near me, so I let them play with their toys all over the house, and it gave me great joy. Now that they have moved away with families of their own, it is easier to keep the house clean, but I often miss the days when they were young. I want to encourage those today who spend their time picking up after their children. Enjoy it while you can. Spend time with your family. Talk with them. Put your electronic devices away for a while and play with them. Laugh with them. One more thought before I close. Be thankful. As you wash your dishes, thank the Lord for another meal. When you fold and put away your clothes, be thankful that you have clean clothes to wear. And as you wipe up the little hand prints, be thankful for the little hands, because they won't be little very long.
Things To Sow And Reap
After I finished most of my cleaning tasks, I started thinking about my garden. My next entries were "Planning My Garden", "Tilling The Ground", "Buying The Seeds", etc. I decided that I wanted to plant pickling cucumbers and also salad cucumbers, and I marked out a space for each kind. I enjoy the paper work. Then comes the hard work, tilling the soil, and planting. It is hard, but I give it all I've got because I know that I can't reap without sowing. God tells us in Galatians 6:9, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." I also like II Corinthians 9:6, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." So I planted and I hoed and I worked hard, and the good Lord sent the rain and sunshine and I am now starting to reap what I sowed. There is also a spiritual aspect to sowing and reaping. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Galatians 6:7-8) I wanted sweet corn, so I planted sweet corn. We will reap what we sow as we live on this earth. One reason people don't believe this is because the reaping is not always immediate. Most people don't jump into heavy sinful living all at once. They start out slow, tempting God, and when they are not punished, they move on a little deeper into sin, and soon they decide they can live any way they want to because nothing bad has happened to them yet. From the time I plant the seeds I walk daily down to my garden to see what is popping up through the soil. Sometimes I see tomatoes come up where I didn't plant tomatoes this year, or watermelons where I didn't plant watermelons. These are volunteer plants that came up from seeds I planted last year that produced and dropped fruit with new seeds that came up without my help. I started thinking about how this can happen in our lives, too. The seeds we plant by the way we live may not seem to be significant today. But they grow. And a year from now, or two years from now, we may reap what we sowed today, whether good or bad. You can be sure that although it may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, there is a pay day someday. God's Word has promised that we will reap what we sow. So, let's get busy sowing the seed of God's precious Word.
Things To Do For Your Church
Our Youth Jubilee dates for 2017 are July 17th - 20th. The campmeeting style youth services are held at High Point Camp, 6607 Hayworth Springs Road, Jamestown, NC. Pine Grove Baptist Church has sponsored the summer Youth Jubilee since 2006. My journal will soon have pages filled with things to do in looking forward to these special meetings. I want to encourage you to be faithful in doing what you can for your church.
1. Give God and your church your time. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)
2. Give God and your church your talents. "And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:20-21)
3. Give God and your church your tithes. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10)
4. Give others and your church your testimony. I want to divide this into two areas, the testimony we give and the testimony we live. We need to tell others what the Lord has done for us and invite them to church. That is important. But it is also important that we are a living testimony. We need to live our lives in such a way that others can see Christ shining through us. Many years ago I invited someone to church and he asked, "Does 'so-in-so' still go there?" I said, "No". He later went on to tell me that he could never go to church where this woman went, and he started to tell me why. We are to live to bring glory to God, and not bring a reproach on God and His house. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20)
Things To Do To Be Healthy
There have been many years that I made resolutions to eat better and exercise to be healthier, but it gets hard, boring, monotonous, tiresome, dull (choose your adjective). This year I used a few pages in my journal to set goals, and I am sticking to them. Today I want to encourage you to take care of yourself and live healthy. Maybe you don't get enough sleep, or you eat too much or not enough. Review your lifestyle and see if there are changes you can make to live better. Bodily exercise may not be as important as our spiritual well being, but it is good for us. "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (I Timothy 4:8) The life we live and the things we do are important, because we belong to the Lord. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Corinthians 6:19-20) You can start small. Think of one thing you can do to be healthier. Work on it for a week or two, then add another. It may be a simple as drinking more water. Think about it. Pray about it. Then work on it. In just a short while you may feel much better!
Things We Can't Do
I read about Noah's Ark in Kentucky last year and we planned to go for a visit this spring. We set our dates and made our hotel reservations, and something came up and we postponed our plans. We set another time, and again something happened that made us cancel our plans. With the garden vegetables coming in, and then Youth Jubilee, I don't think we will make other plans to go anytime soon. I like to put things down in my journal and I enjoy checking them off, but sometimes even the best of plans don't work out. We often have disappointments, but that is a part of life. I am reminded of the story of King David. He wanted to build a temple and Nathan the prophet told him to go ahead and do all that was in his heart, for the Lord was with him. It seemed like a great thing to do for God's glory, but God wouldn't let King David build the temple. "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever." (II Samuel 7:12-13) Don't let your disappointments bring you down. God may have other plans and His way is always best!
Things To Do With A Mother's Love
I looked through my journal to see if I had left out any categories to use before moving on, and I noticed several things I did out of a mother's, and grandmother's, love. Early in the year I made a baby quilt for our newest grandbaby, and then we drove to South Carolina to deliver it and meet little Benjamin. I was reminded of the Valentine's Day baskets I made for each of our children and their families. I made a recipe book for each family of the recipes I have collected and used for the past 40 years and made a Shutterfly book with pictures of the grandchildren helping me cook and work in my garden. It was a joy to look for small cooking utensils like whisks, colorful measuring cups, and heart decorated pot holders. I filled the books with Bible verses to remind them how important God's Word is to MeMaw. I have reminders of birthdays and anniversaries. I don't see my children and grandchildren as often as I would like to, but I want them to remember the special love I have for them, and the love I have for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am reminded of the compliment Paul paid to young Timothy in II Timothy 1:5-7.
"7 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
I want my life and my love to stir up the gift of God in my children and grandchildren. I want to encourage them with a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind. I won't be able to leave them a lot of money when I go, but I pray that I can leave a good testimony and assurance that I loved them and want to be with them all throughout eternity in heaven.
Walk With God
Let's go back to the verse we used to begin this series from Matthew 19:26, "...with God all things are possible" and look at the phrase "with God" for a few days. It is usually interesting to look at the first mention of words in the Bible when you are doing a study on them. We have to look all the way back near the beginning of time to find our first "with God" statement.
"22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Genesis 5:22-24)
Just a few chapters later we see that Noah also walked with God. "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:9) God desires to walk with us, just as He longed to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. But, sin in their lives broke the fellowship and they hid from God. "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" (Genesis 3:8-9) God was there, ready to walk and talk with them, but sin kept them from their communion with God, just as sin will keep us from God. Amos 3:3 puts it very simply, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" The only way we can walk with someone is to be going in the same direction. Let's stay on the paths of righteousness and walk with God.
Talk With God
Moses not only walked with God, but he also talked with God, face to face. "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face," (Deuteronomy 34:10) We don't talk with God face to face, as Moses did, but we can talk with God in prayer. And the Bible assures us that God hears us when we pray. "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." (Psalm 55:17) We talk to God in prayer, and because God is a living true God, He talks with us. "And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth." (Deuteronomy 34:10) We can hear God speak to us as we read and meditate on His Holy Word. Several times in the New Testament Christ gives the invitation, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15) Jesus is our Good Shepherd and He longs to walk and talk with us. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" (John 10:27)
Meet With God
Did you know that we were created for God's pleasure? "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11) We saw that we can walk with God, and talk with God, and today we see that we can meet with God. "And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount." (Exodus 19:17) We have an invitation to meet with the Lord and fellowship with Him in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." We can meet with the Lord in our worship services when we gather together in His name. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20) There are some important people in the world today and I will never meet them, but God has shown us in His Word that we can meet with Him and have fellowship in His name.
Just With God
In Job's search for answers he asked a very interesting question. "Then Job answered and said, I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?" (Job 9:1-2) God gave the law, but Moses and the Children of Israel were not justified by the law because man cannot keep and obey the law. "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith." (Galatians 3:11)
"20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" (Romans 3:20-24)
We can only be just with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I can rejoice that I am justified with God, and Jesus has forgiven me. Justified may be a hard word to understand, but think of it as "just as if I'd never sinned." "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) We can be just with God when we confess our sin and have faith to believe on Jesus to save us from our sin.
Going With God
We just got home from a short vacation with our son and his family. It was very special to spend time with four of our grandchildren. Before we start out, on long trips, or short errands, we begin with prayer and ask God to protect us and keep us safe. It is comforting to know that we serve a living God who can go with us as we go. We don't have to leave our God sitting on a shelf, gathering dust, while we are gone. I am glad that where I go I have faith that God goes with me. I feel like Moses when he told the Lord that if He didn't go with him, then he didn't want to go.
"12 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." (Exodus 33:12-15)
I want to continue to go with God and one day I will make my final trip to my heavenly home!
"1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:1-6)
Someone To Plead With God
Today I have another request made by Job. "O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!" (Job 16:21) Job's three friends came to comfort him after he lost his children, his wealth, his livelihood, and his health. But they were not much comfort to him. "I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all." (Job 16:2) Job also said, "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." (Job 12:2) Job wanted someone to plead for him with God. We have such a friend! As Jesus died on the cross He lifted one hand towards heaven to God the Father, and the other hand he reached down towards man and through His death and resurrection we have the Son of God to plead for us through His mercy and grace. The veil that separated God and man was torn from the top to the bottom as Jesus opened up the way to eternity! And now we can go to the Father in prayer, and when we don't know what to pray, the Spirit makes intercession for us and pleads our cause with God. Praise the Lord! Nothing can separate us from the marvelous love of our Savior!
"26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose...
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:26-28 & 31-39)
In The Beginning With God
I like the memory feature on facebook where it shows what happened on the same day last year, or two or three years ago. Sometimes it will tell me that I have been friends with a certain person 5 years, or 7 years. I think it is funny when this happens with a dear family member or close friend who I've known most of my life. Seven years can't even begin to proclaim how much a part of my life that person has been. We have talked about Jesus, who justifies us with God, and who pleads for us with God. We find that Jesus and God have always been together, as we look back to the beginning of creation and see Jesus, our Lord, the Word and Light of men.
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:1-4)
People in the world today don't protest if you worship a god. But, they try to keep Christians from praying in the name of Jesus, or witnessing about Jesus, or even singing about our Lord. We serve the only true and living God and the devil does all he can to stop us from leading others to Jesus. Keep on living for the Lord! Don't let the world put a damper on your light!
Emmanuel - God With Us
My daughter's air conditioner stopped working, and she came over to visit with us. I told her that she could leave the children with us if she wanted to. So during the time that I would usually be writing my devotional, I was comforting two small children who did not have their blankets, or special sleeping toys, or Mom and Dad and the familiar surroundings of their own rooms. I spoke softly and assured them that I was right there with them and they are now sound asleep on the sleeper sofa, as I "burn the midnight oil", as they used to say. I had been planning to use Matthew 1:23, so I thought about it as they drifted off to sleep. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." How comforting it is to know that God is with us! We can sometimes find ourselves in different places, without our usual comforting people or things in life, and we can have fears that make it difficult to carry out our normal duties, or sleep during the night. But, we can think on the goodness of our Lord and He speaks softly and holds our hands with calming reassurance that He is with us. What a loving God we serve!
Walk Humbly With Thy God
I just finished the books of prophecy in the Old Testament and one verse that stands out in my mind in the minor prophets is Micah 6:8. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" We don't see much of this in the world today, but hopefully as Christians we work towards this end. Earlier in this devotional series we looked at walking with God, but Micah goes on to tell us how to walk with God. He tells us that God requires us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Our words of encouragement today are to try to remember this verse, and follow it as we let others see the Light of Jesus shining through us.
Peace With God
All of the things we have been talking about having "with God" will lead to having "Peace with God." Without God we have no peace, as we see in Isaiah 57:21, "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." I was just a young girl when I was saved, but I still remember the fear I had of dying and going to hell. As soon as I confessed my sin to God and asked Jesus to save me, I had such a sweet peace from God. I was no longer afraid of eternity. I had peace that I would now go to heaven. When we are saved we have peace from God. Several times we see this in the New Testament. "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:2) We also have the peace of God which continues with us. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7) Our thoughts today also include peace with God. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" (Romans 5:1) God is a holy and righteous God and one day He will judge each one of us. Because I am justified by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, I have peace with God. Are you at peace with God?
Jesus Doeth All Things Well
We are moving on through our verse in Matthew 19:26, "with God all things are possible" to the "all things" section. We begin with Mark 7:37, "And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak." I chose this verse because the older I get, the more assurance I have that Jesus does all things well. Michael and I often sing this great old song and I hope it is an encouragement to you today. "All The Way My Savior Leads Me" was written by Frances J. Crosby and published in 1875. Although her eyes were blind, she had great insight and faith in the Lord and could say, "For I know, whate'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well!"
"All The Way My Savior Leads Me"
All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
All Things Work Together For Good...
We were ready to walk out the door for church. Michael turned off the light and as he walked across the room one of the light bulbs exploded. Glass scattered across the floor and furniture. We picked up large pieces as best as we could and used the vacuum to get the smaller ones. I remarked that God must have wanted to delay our leaving. I believe that God allows things to happen in our lives that we don't understand. We don't know how many accidents we have missed through the years because something unexpected happened to hinder or change our course. We have no idea what caused the bulb to explode, but I am so thankful that it didn't happen when the grandchildren were asleep on the sleeper sofa last week. Our verse for today is Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." We serve a loving God who has everything under control. We need to just trust in Him and lean on His Word. Sometimes we may not understand why something has happened and we may even be prone to question, "Why?" but God is good and He is working it all out together for our good.
Giving Thanks For All Things
As I wrote yesterday about all things working together for good, I started to add another verse to go with it. But, I decided that it deserved it's own post. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" (Ephesians 5:20) We cannot give "thanks always for all things", until "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God." As we face problems and God gives us faith to overcome them, our faith becomes stronger and stronger. As our faith grows stronger, we can trust in the Lord more and more and we will be able to give thanks to Him with each passing trial. "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." (Hebrews 13:15)
Prove All Things
If this verse was needed when it was written close to 2,000 years ago, then imagine how great the need for it is today. I am talking about I Thessalonians 5:21. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." We hear and read so much information that is JUST NOT TRUE. When we see or hear a deal that sounds too good to be true, then most likely it is. People who try to scam others have no respect for anyone. They often target elderly people on the phone or even at their door. The internet is filled with stories and pictures that are not real. I have tried some of the cleaning hacks I saw online. Most of them did not work, and I ended up with a bigger mess. And cooking recipes. I hate it when I get my ingredients together to make something new and it does not turn out the way it should, even though I follow all the instructions. With all the false information out there, it is hard to know what we can believe. We can't even trust the news today with all the fake news stories. What can we do? "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." This is great advice for everything we see and hear. But it is especially good for living for God. We know we can trust the Bible because it is God's Holy Word. As we listen to, and read what others say about God's Word we need to prove it through prayer, and reading and meditating on the scriptures. God wants us to grow to be mature Christians through His Word. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (II Peter 3:18)
All Things Are In The Hands Of The Lord
Pastor Jack Tripp preached a good sermon Wednesday night from the following verses.
"1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." (John 13:1-7)
Using verse 7 as his text, he talked about how we don't always understand the way the Lord is moving in our lives, but we will understand it better farther on. I want to use the third verse for our "all things" verse. Jesus knew that God had given all things into His hands. He knew that He came from God. And He knew that He was going back to God. So He could take time to be a servant to others along the way. This can encourage us today, when we realize that all things are in the hands of our Lord. Let that sink in. All things! When we trust in the Lord and believe that He died to save us, we are born again into the family of God. And we have the promise of everlasting life in a heavenly home. So we can take time to be servants for the Lord during this short journey we have on earth. We have a preacher friend who used to call us "Pilgrims" when he would see us. It might help us to see ourselves as pilgrims, just passing through on our way to a better country. I wonder how many of the disciples questioned themselves after Jesus washed their feet, thinking, "I should have washed Jesus' feet" or "Why didn't I think to serve the others?" I really believe our time left here on earth is very short. Let's do all we can as servants for our Lord.
All Things Common
We are busy, busy, busy getting ready for Youth Jubilee. If you live in the High Point, North Carolina area, I want to invite you to come! Our Youth Jubilee dates for 2017 are July 17th - 20th. The campmeeting style youth services are held at High Point Camp, 6607 Hayworth Springs Road, Jamestown, NC. Pine Grove Baptist Church has helped to sponsor the summer Youth Jubilee since 2006. In all those years it has been a great blessing to see the area churches come together to welcome the 200 or more young people from several neighboring states. Saturday, July 15th, the men and women will meet at the Camp Meeting grounds to clean the area and set out the chairs. The men and women will work together to feed them during the week. The musicians work together with the music. The preachers pray together and proclaim the messages God has given them. I chose Philippians 2:14 for our verse to share what a joy it is to see these Christian people come together in unity for God's glory. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings:" But, I think a better verse would be about the early church found in Acts 2:44 "And all that believed were together, and had all things common;" This is such a great testimony to the surrounding area who can watch this group of believers work together for a common cause.
Above All Things, Put On Love
"Wear me, Memaw." That is what little Elsa told me when I got her out of the car seat this week. Have you ever heard anything so precious? "You want me to carry you?" "Un-huh... wear me, Memaw." So I picked her up and she kissed me and wrapped both arms around my neck, and her legs around my waist, and I "wore" her just as a precious stole or diamond necklace through the mall. In his letter to the church at Colosse Paul told the believers what to put on, or wear.
"12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." (Colossians 3:12-14)
Above all things, we are to put on love. That's just what I wore from store to store last Thursday. Several times I asked Elsa if she wanted down and she would just give me a tighter hug and another kiss and say, "No, wear me, Memaw." As you begin your day, each and every day, you make a choice of what you want to wear. I want to encourage you to put on charity. Make the decision to wear love. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (I Corinthians 13:13)
"I Can Do All Things Through Christ..."
My prayer when I got home after a very busy day went something like this... "Lord, I am weak and I just don't have the strength to do the things I need to do tonight. Please give me the strength I need to accomplish the things I need to get done." Have you ever felt like you just can't go on? Have you ever prayed a prayer like this when you have come to the end of your endurance? God has given us a verse for those times in our lives. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13) My daughter and I walked in one of the walks to raise money for a certain cause several years ago. The path took us up and down several streets and circled around a neighborhood in town. Trees lined many of the streets which helped, but the last stretch of the walk was up a steep hill. As we neared the finish line the woman in front of us was praying out loud, "Help me, Jesus! I've come too far to quit now. Help me, Jesus!" There have been many times in my life when I prayed the same prayer and the Lord has given me the strength to go on. I am reminded of Psalm 73:2 which reads, "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped." Asaph continues in verse 26, "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." Many of the Psalms declare that the Lord is our strength. I close with these encouraging words. "The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation." (Psalm 118:14) "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
"All Things Were Made By Him"
Our verse today is found in John 1:3. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." My Bible tells me this and I believe it. We can look at the very first verse in the Bible and decide if we are going to read it and believe it, or question God's Word. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) And if we scroll down just a little we also read, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Genesis 1:27) When people take a stand against the Bible, they are actually taking a stand against God, because He is the Creator of all things. There are many more scriptures that tell us that God created all things. And I believe them all!
Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Acts 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
Isaiah 44:24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
Nehemiah 9:6 Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.
Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
God Has The Preeminence In All Things
As we continue with our thought on God creating all things, we see in Colossians 1:16-20 that this gives God the preeminence in all things. I have seen many political rulers, ball players, actors and actresses, and company heads who think their world revolves around them. Actually, I have seen some three and four year olds who know they are the center of their little world. We have a warning in I Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Also in Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." God is still in control and those who try to lift themselves up in pride will fall.
"16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
Observe All Things That Jesus Commanded
While Jesus was with the disciples He tried to prepare them for His death and resurrection, but they did not understand. He came back and appeared to them after He rose from the dead and talked with them. We often quote the end of Matthew 28:20, the last recorded words of Jesus in the book of Matthew. "...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." This is a wonderful verse to remember and it can help us through many troubles and trials. But, we need to put the verse in its context. Let's notice some things from Matthew 28:16-20.
"16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
In verse 16 we see that Jesus will be talking to His 11 disciples. They had faith enough to meet where Jesus had told them to be, but as we see in the next verse, "some doubted." We can't be too hard on the disciples, because there are times in our lives when we try to be where God wants us to be, but we still have doubts in the back of our minds. I think in verse 18 Jesus is trying to assure them that He has all power and He is sending them out and they will receive the power they need through Him. We also see this in Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." In verse 19 He sends them out. Now, we saw the end of verse 20, but we need not skip over the first part. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." As Christians we are to do all things that we learn from God's Word, but we are also to teach others from the Holy Word of God. And just before Jesus left the disciples He promised them that He would be with them always. When I was growing up and my Dad told me to do something, I might forget or be slow about doing it if he was not around. But if he was right there with me you can be sure that I did what he said. Jesus is with us always. And has promised us the power we need from on high. That should encourage us to be witnesses for our Lord.
All Things Are Become New
Our grandchildren like for us to read, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle, to them. We also have the game on our ipads and they can help the caterpillar eat the fruits and play little games. After several days of playing and eating and nights of sleeping under a leaf the caterpillar emerges from its cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. I recently saw a short video of a real caterpillar eating its way out of an egg, eating some leaves, and spinning the cocoon, then coming out as a butterfly. I showed the video to Jedidiah and he exclaimed, "You mean it's real!" Every time I think of the life cycle of a butterfly, I remember II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." When we are saved God takes all our sin of the past and casts it far away. He creates in us a new creature, just as the caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. Don't try to hang on to your old life. Let Jesus create in you a new creature. An even greater truth is that one day God is going to take away all the sin and pain of this world and make all things new. What a glorious day that will be! "And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." (Revelation 21:5)
Love Bears All Things
We used to have Fall Festivals for the young people at our church. One game that they enjoyed was "Going On A Bear Hunt". I gathered 10 stuffed bears from my children and tied a Bible verse around the neck of each one. Before our guests arrived I hid the bears outside and each pair of children was given a bear hunting license. As they found each bear, they marked the correct verse on their license. It was a fun game for the children. One year I waited until dark and gave them all flashlights. (For safety adults stood at the drive and we gave them boundaries.) One of the verses I used is found in I Corinthians 13:7. "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Do you know what bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things? Charity. Read a few more verses from this chapter and see why it is often called the love chapter.
"1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (I Corinthians 13:1-7)
All Things Are Possible With God
Five weeks ago we began with Matthew 19:26, "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." We looked at scriptures leading us to be "with God." We saw many references in the scriptures to "all things." We are closing with the incredible thought that "with God all things are possible." Mark recorded it twice in his gospel. "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23) "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27) We can look all the way back to Abraham and hear the Lord ask, "Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." (Genesis 18:14) We hear the Prophet Jeremiah's prayer in Jeremiah 32:17. "Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:" And hear the Lord's response in Jeremiah 32:27. "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" We are in the middle of summer, and Christmas is far away from our thoughts, but if you need another verse to convince you, remember what the Angel Gabriel said to Mary. "For with God nothing shall be impossible." (Luke 1:37) The next time something extraordinary comes into you life and all those around you say that it is impossible, remember what God says in His Word. "With God all things are possible."