Recognize, Realize and Get Ready

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Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 5

Good morning Bible Journal readers! Today we are studying Luke 5 in our journey through the words of Jesus. I’m loving this scripture today because I feel like we can all find ourselves in these three miracle moments. The first miracle is one that’s familiar. Jesus takes Simon’s boat out into the water while preaching and then casually tells Simon to throw the nets out. Simon sort of rolls his eyes and says “I suppose, because you said so but it probably won’t work because we’ve been throwin’ nets all night and ain’t no fish comin’ up!” Simon shows his obedience to Jesus but it’s clear that he doesn’t believe the outcome will change. Can you see yourself in this moment? Do you sort of use faith as a last resort rather than a first strategy? I feel like I fall into this habit almost daily. We know how this story ends, the nets come up with so many fish that boats nearly sink under the weight of them. Simon is awestruck at this miracle and immediately feels shame:

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5: 8

Have you ever been blessed by God and felt unworthy? Do you hide from Him because you recognize your sin and don’t want to face judgement? I feel such a connection to Simon Peter in this moment. I remember a time in our life when our son was very sick and his hospital bills were so far beyond our meager capacity. We tried to work extra hours, we tried to negotiate with the hospital to lower the bill, we argued, we cried, but what we didn’t do was pray. Of course, we prayed for our son to get better but we never prayed to God to help us with the financial part of the problem. We were encouraged by some friends and mentors to pray for that specific need and our nets were filled! In fact, they were overflowing. We never even considered that Jesus could or would address that need in our life. If you’ve been a Bible Journal reader or writer for a long time, you know that we experienced that miracle through you.Our Bible Journal family made that happen through the love of Jesus Christ.

God has three requirements for coming to Him:

  • Recognize our own sinfulness
  • Realize we can’t save ourselves
  • Be Ready to leave everything behind and follow Him

In verse 31 Jesus tells the sinners at Matthew’s house:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sin. Until we examine our hearts and place ourselves in a posture of humility we can’t begin to accept His mercy. Next, we need to realize that we truly can’t save ourselves. Often, despite our best intentions we make errors in judgement or our pride gets in the way of asking for help. Finally, we need to be ready to leave everything else behind including the false God’s we rely upon for protection and follow Him. Levi the tax collector first encounters Jesus while sitting in his tax collecting booth. Jesus implores him to “follow me” and Levi is moved in that moment. He leaves the promise of money, status and power to follow Jesus by faith. I’m not sure that I’d have the strength to do that. If Jesus came to my work place tomorrow and said “follow me” I hope I’d be ready. Today’s scripture has so many examples of Jesus ministering to people in their day to day struggles. I hope that encourages you to pray this week for the little things. Pray for Him to intercede and truly move in your life.

Holy Ground

Today’s reading is Luke 18:2-8 and Psalm 127.

Psalm 127:1-2 reads..

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

How often do we try to “build our house” without the Lord? In reflecting back on the prayers throughout most of my life, my prayers have typically involved asking for forgiveness for my sins, thanking God for dying on the cross for me, and praying for others’ needs of which I’m aware. While asking for forgiveness for my sins and believing in His death on the cross is sufficient to go to Heaven and praying for the needs of others is noble and something God wants…I don’t think that’s all He wants.

John 15:5 reads..

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Meriam-Webster defines Lord as “one having power and authority over others.” God wants to be Lord of your life, not just some of your life, but all of it. God doesn’t just want some of your heart, he wants all of it. It says clearly in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” God wants our marriage, our kids, our careers, our finances, our health…he wants EVERYTHING. He wants to be Lord of all those things. He wants us to surrender all of those things to Him and His lordship (authority)..not just our sins.

Why do we hold back our personal needs and desires from Him and not ask Him for help, guidance, and wisdom in all these areas of our life? Why do we not acknowledge he’s already in control of these things anyway and ask Him for help?

Here are a few potential reasons…

  • We don’t think he really cares about our needs..big and small. Why would he be concerned about little old me? However, Psalm 139:13-14 tells us He knit us together in our mother’s womb, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. Matthew 10:29-30 tells us that not even a sparrow falls without God knowing and even the hairs on our head are numbered.
  • We fear He won’t answer our prayers the way we want which may in turn cause us to question whether He really cares or even question His sovereignty. My Mom always told me as a child God answers all prayers. However, he just may not answer them in the exact way we ask them. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We must trust and believe this.
  • We may wonder why even bother because of past prayers that we feel were unanswered and may even hold animosity towards Him due to this. But, Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We never know the good that may come out of things we feel are really bad in our eyes, and I’m sure all of us can think of some prayers we thought were unanswered but later realized it was actually a good thing.
  • Either our desires are truly selfish or we feel because they benefit us in some earthly way they must be. Just because something benefits us doesn’t mean it’s selfish necessarily. We can use earthly gifts and blessings for His glory when we consciously think about it, give Him the due praise and glory, and then use those gifts for His glory.

Truly surrendering all to Him means we are doing all for His glory and not ours. We give all areas of our life to Him and His lordship. It’s not about us, and it’s never been about us. It’s about Him.

Once we surrender it all to Him, He will truly bless us. Abraham and Sarah waited until age 100 for Isaac. Can you imagine how precious and coveted this child was to Abraham? God then asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son he had waited all this time for. Not until the very last second when Abraham had the knife raised did God stop Abraham. Not until he knew Abraham was truly going to give his most prized possession to Him did God stop him. Then, God tells Abraham because he obeyed him and did not spare his beloved son he will surely bless him and give him more offspring than the sand on the seashores. He surrendered it all, and God blessed. Check this out in Genesis 22.

Maybe God is holding back things from you because you are holding things back from Him. You are not asking Him for help and giving it to Him. He’s waiting until you give them all to Him and will use them for His glory. He loves you enough to not give them to you until you do because He knows that’s when you will be truly satisfied and fulfilled..when you give it all to Him. He’s waiting for you to go “all in” with Him.

We read in Luke 18:2-8 where an unrighteous judge gave a persistent widow justice against her adversary because she kept asking him to do so. The question is posed that if an unrighteous judge will give help because you keep asking, won’t God if you truly cry out to Him for help?

Romans 8:32 reads…

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

What more does God really need to do than give us His only Son to show us His love and tell us we can bring him all our troubles surrendering all to Him? If today someone else sacrificed themselves or their son for my life, would that not tell me all I needed to know about their care and love for me?

Surrender your entire life to Him…not just some areas…all of them. Ask Him for help. Do not build your house in vain. Make every area of your life “Holy Gound.” It’s what He’s been waiting for. It’s what you’ve been waiting for that will give you peace and comfort that surpass understanding.

Let us pray the words of the song Holy Ground below by Passion/Melodie Malone..

“…Come and have your way Jesus.

Chains fall.

Fear bow.

Hear now.

Jesus, you change everything.

Lives healed.

Hope found.

Here now.

Jesus, you change everything….”

Heartfelt or Hypocrite

I have a desk in our unfinished basement tucked away in the corner just out of the way of most flying balls or pucks. This is a usual spot for reflection and prayer. At my desk, dinner table, bed, car, school or church how are my prayers? In the longest recorded sermon given by Jesus, He describes the traits He was looking for His followers.  Jesus requires consistent heartfelt prayer.  He is not looking for a series of words but a true confession of the heart.  This confession can be anything, because He already knows.

Matthew 6:8 says, “Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

As I reflect on my various daily prayers there are times when I read this verse I pause to think am I always honest and sincere? At times do I babble? Do I take for granite the fact that God is right there listening to every prayer.  Even the dinner prayers were I’m attempting to keep the boys from calling each other out for having their eyes open.   I believe as our relationship with God grows closer so does our prayer life .  We are reminded that our Father who is mentioned 17 times in the Sermon on the Mount knows what is truly on our hearts.  My flesh side of my self can be at times fearful, while at opposite times it can be full of pride.  This lacks the closeness and the honest heartfelt prayers our Father desires.

Pastor Mike Baker a couple weeks ago shared four prayer killers that can take away from a sincere closeness to my Heavenly Father.

  1. Not abiding in God or His word ( John 15:7 )
  2. Not asking ( James 4:2)
  3. Not believing what you’re asking for ( James 1:6 )
  4. Not asking with the right motives ( James 4:3)

Which one of these can get in my way of the genuine one on one intimacy God desires no matter my location or circumstance?

Today’s Reading Matthew 6:8, Psalm 71

Dear Father, You know our hearts, minds, and soul.  I ask that you help us to not let any of these prayer distractions get in the way of a closeness with you.  God we don’t deserve this amazing promise and grace but it’s not about us, its about you.  You hear all our prayers, you answer them all according to your perfect timing.  Thank you for your love that only our eternal Father can give.  I pray to always be open and honest with you admitting that I need you always.  Jesus, we come to you with our hearts wide open.  Help us to share the truth you already know, asking to come into our hearts and trust a promise you already gave us through your son Jesus.  We love you. Amen

Psalm 71:5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.

Psalm 71: 18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all that are to come.

Legacy

Legacy. What do you think of when you hear the word legacy? Do you care about yours or not? Well, I believe you should because we all leave a legacy and your leadership example determines your legacy. We are all leaders, definitely as parents and spouses and often professionally, but even those that aren’t married, don’t have kids, or don’t have a defined professional leadership role are still leaders. Other friends and co-workers are always watching and following you whether you intend them to do so or not so that makes you a leader. John Maxwell says leadership is influence. Your leadership example determines the impact you have on others which ultimately determines your legacy.

Our small group is currently reading The Resolution for Men and The Resolution for Women. This is my 3rd time through the men’s version, and I would highly recommend every man read it. It is like an instruction manual for being man, husband, and father by translating and breaking down what God instructs us to do in the Bible. It tells men how He created and empowers us to fulfil His leadership vision. Having children, when I think of legacy, I think of the legacy I want to leave for them first and foremost.

The book challenges us to think about how we define success for our children. It is human nature for us to define the success of our children by whether they achieve big things academically, athletically, and even socially with friends or being on homecoming court or in school leadership roles for example. However, this book challenges us that success for our children is only defined by them loving God and knowing Him as their Lord and Savior. Period. End of story. Thus, the legacy we leave in this way through our leadership by example is all that matters.

David tells us in his last words in 2 Samuel 23:3-5..

“The God of Israel has spoken,

the Rock of Israel has said to me:

When one rules justly over men,

ruling in the fear of God,

he dawns on them like the

morning light,

like sun shining forth on a

cloudless morning,

like rain that makes grass to

sprout from the earth.”

How do we lead our children in this way by our example so they know and love Jesus as their Lord and Savior?

  1. First, we must be in the Word daily. This keeps us centered and focused on God so we can know and understand Him and His will better making better decisions daily. This must be visible to them so they know you are in the Word. We should also look to be in the Word together as a family. Try a weekly family devotional on a certain day each week.
  2. They must see you in prayer. They must know you go to God throughout your day in prayer to draw closer to Him as a source of wisdom. Talk about how you go to Him for your challenges and to praise him, and pray together as a family.
  3. They must see you praising and worshipping God in adoration. This can most commonly be done in song as we read about in many Psalms, throughout the Bible, and just yesterday with David in 2 Samuel 22. If your kids go to their own church service, consider bringing them into church with you occasionally so they can see you praising and worshipping Him. Recently, we had a night of worship music only at our church where we brought our kids, and it was awesome singing along with them praising God. It doesn’t have to be planned though. Singing along to Christian music in the car or while cooking out or eating dinner at home spontaneously can be just as impactful for them to see God is more than worthy of your praise all the time..any time.
  4. Speaking about God and his creations of beauty all around us in the world and about how God worked in your life today and asking them how God worked in theirs today is tremendously impactful. Simply put..talk about God. Daily. Not just on Sundays on the drive home from church.

Lastly, if you want to lead someone, most notably your kids as we are speaking of, you must have their heart. If you have their heart and they know you care about and love them, they will follow you. The Resolution for Men discusses if you don’t have your child’s heart, you must do WHATEVER it takes to get it back..even if it takes the rest of your life. 2 Samuel 23 tells about David’s mighty men and all the things they did in battle. While it might be neat to be known for personal or professional successes in life, we should strive for our kids to say when we are no longer on this Earth our legacy was this…”My Mom/Dad loved Jesus with all their heart, and I’m forever grateful they helped me do the same.” Our children must make their own decision to follow Jesus, but nothing is more important than the eternal legacy we strive to instill in and leave them.

Carpe Momentum.

Leadership Lessons From David

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 30 and Psalm 31.

One of the things I love about writing for Bible Journal is it really makes me take a step back and ask myself what God is teaching us through Scriptures where I may have easily glanced over it during a quick read. Today, I was blown away by 2 great leadership examples through David in 1 Samuel 30.

First, we see in 1 Samuel 30:6 David “strengthened himself in the Lord His God.” How did David do this? He came to Lord in prayer, asking for wisdom as to what to do, and then he took action by following the Lord’s direction pursuing Amalekites. Let’s not glance over how terrible it looked for David. His town had been burned and his family was gone leaving him not knowing if they were dead or alive. David faced trouble with Saul, but I often think of the people always loving David due to his victory over Goliath amongst others, but apparently it was still a “what have you done for me lately world” back then because we also read in verse 6 the people talked of stoning him. Psalm 31 gives us a prayer by David which is likely very similar to what David prayed during this time. We know in Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.” God doesn’t care if you haven’t turned to Him in the past and if it took things getting really bad before you turned to Him for the first time or again in some cases. He just wants your heart..now.  He wants you to believe fully that He will pull you through it trusting in Him. What challenge are you facing today you don’t think you can handle or rebound from? “Strengthen yourself in the Lord” by praying for wisdom and guidance…then trust in Him and act upon His direction.  This is what David did and his family was safely returned through he and his people’s victory over the Amalekites.

The second lesson we learn from David is when things are going great and the Lord gives us victory, we give the glory to God. For it is Him who does these things through us. How easy is it to be prideful in thinking…”look at what I did”….when things are going well. We are all guilty of this. Psalm 31:23 tells us that is not a good thing to do. Those who went into battle did not want to give their winnings to those who stayed back, but David says in 1 Samuel 30, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us and given into our hand the hand that came against us.” David immediately recognizes in the presence of others this victory came from God and gives him the credit.  I love the quote, “Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less.”  Why should we think less of our self and that we are not capable or that God doesn’t have big things planned for us? Psalm 139:13 tells us we were created by the Almighty God and he “knit” us together. Thinking less of our self essentially means thinking less of God then since He created us, doesn’t it? But, in being humble, we DO think of ourselves less, and we give to those around us just as David models in 1 Samuel 30:24. We must think to ourselves, “For it was not me who did this, but God through me.”  David realized not everyone is meant to be a mighty warrior and go into battle.  He shared with those for whom God had a different role.

Both leadership lessons of strengthening ourselves in the Lord by trusting in Him through prayer, believing He can pull us out of any situation no matter how impossible it looks because our confidence is in Him, not our self, and then giving the glory to God are summed up by Paul again in Ephesians 3:20-21.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Let us move forward today in confidence and give him the glory!

The Power of Prayer

Today’s Reading:  Jonah 2; Proverbs 28

Image result for power or prayer

Jonah 1:17: And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.  And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 

Wow!  Have you ever wondered why something has happened to you?  How are you ever going to get out of a predicament?  Being swallowed by a great fish, is some kind of predicament!  Jonah realized he needed to rely back on the Lord.  He was in trouble, even under sin and in God’s displeasure, he still prayed.   Jonah 2:1-2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried and you heard my voice.”

There are many times within a day, lets be real I’m a mom of a 7 year old and 3 year old boys, a junior high teacher and living in this crazy society.  There are definitely many times within a day I need to pause and PRAY!  I am not perfect, I am trying to live out a life the best I can to be like Jesus, but it is far from perfect.  Take a moment to pause…PRAY and even bring out pain, suffering, or struggles by our sins.  God knows our sins and imperfections.  The Lord will welcome us to the throne of grace, just like He did with Jonah.  It is not easy, we live in the picture-perfect world through social media.  No one wants to admit their imperfections.  It is so easy to get caught up in a world that does not live like Jesus did.  Whether it is your workplace, family, or friends; how are you going to show others the love and grace that Jesus has shown us?  Stop and pray for the mom at the store whose screaming child is throwing a huge fit or a friend who is struggling with a relationship.  No matter the struggle big or small, God is here for us we just need to take the time to pray.  What better way to show Jesus’ love then the power of prayer.  Don’t just say “I’ll pray for you” actually pause and do it!  At the end of the day, Jesus is the judge of us all.

Jonah shows us that no matter where you are, even at the bottom of the ocean in the stomach of a fish, we can too pray because God is always with us.  He walks with us and alongside us in the crazy place we call life.  Pause, take a moment to PRAY, and most of all thank God for all He does for us.  He is a miracle worker and we are so undeserved of everything He has done for us.  Praise be to God!  Jonah 2:10:  And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.  Miracle worker?  I believe so!  Pray and trust in God!

Jennifer LaFrance

Psalm 145

Our reading for today is Psalm 145, and after reading it through, it is simply perfect for the day after Christmas. Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise, written by David to his Lord:

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.

You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

The Lord preserves all who love him, but the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145)

In this psalm, David lists several reasons why God is worthy of our praise: He is great. His greatness is unsearchable. He does mighty and wondrous works. He is abundantly good. He is righteous. He is gracious and merciful. He is slow to anger. His love is steadfast (I love this one! – It reminds me of the picture of an anchor). He is good to all. He has mercy on us. He is powerful. His kingdom is everlasting. He is faithful and kind. He upholds the fallen. He is a provider. He satisfies our deepest desires. He is near. He saves. He preserves all who love him. That’s quite a list, right?!

David’s response to all of who God is is simply this: praise. David will meditate on God’s works, and in response, David will declare God’s greatness and sing aloud of His righteousness. David says that he will extol God, and that he will bless Him and praise His name forever. David praises God for the work He has done in David’s life, and for who He is.

Perhaps this is a good time, as we near the end of 2017, to take some time to write out your praises to God. Consider what He has done for you this year, and praise Him for the times of blessing and the times of stretching and growing. Consider His attributes, the aspects of His character, and praise Him for those. And consider that when we praise Him, we link arms with those around the world who are doing the exact same thing. We join in that chorus of praise. Merry Christmas!

We are speaking to the creator of the universe!

This is my last post for 2017 so I’m reflecting on the past year along with Psalm 141, a Psalm of King David.

Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
 Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
 and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Psalm 141:1-2)

Note the exclamation points and the direct manner by which David starts out speaking to God. This is from the heart, passionate, and urgent. We should all pray like we mean it… we are speaking to the creator of the universe! He doesn’t need our empty words or empty promises, he wants our hearts! Lift up your hands and cry out to him right now. I triple dog dare you. Yes, ’tis the season to go straight to the triple dog dare.

Consider the urgency of Jesus as he prayed on the Mount of Olives, praying so hard that his sweat was like blood.

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

I’ve seen God move in mighty ways this year, no doubt as a result of crying out and the faithful prayers of friends and family. When I say that I’ve seen God move, I don’t mean that he’s answered every prayer in the way that I wanted him to answer it. He also moves through saying no, not yet, or revealing a completely different plan. While it is easy to say right now that I’m thankful, there have certainly been times of frustration, sorrow, fear, and doubt.

Sitting at my favorite place to write inside, I am thinking about the people, habits, or events that had the biggest influence on my life this year.

  • Absolutely the greatest influence on my life in 2017 (same with 2016) has been writing for Bible Journal. This habit and responsibility causes me to look for the Holy Spirit in all events and to constantly be thinking about God’s ways over my ways. It teaches me to see others as who they are: first and foremost, children of God, loved by God, and therefore I must love others. After completing one post, it is time to start praying about the next one, asking for wisdom and for God’s will to be done. There are so many stories going on in all of our lives, and this journaling habit brings the stories closer to my heart. I am so thankful, humbled and honored to be part of this community.
  • Words of encouragement. Do not underestimate the power that our words have on other people, positive or negative. I’m thankful for those who have lifted me up and challenged me in a way that is pleasing to God.
  • Grace. I spent a few minutes thinking about all that I’ve been given this year that I didn’t deserve. Sit quietly and ask God to show you a glimpse of what you’ve been given this year. I believe he wants all of us to see this so that we may give him, the ultimate giver, the thanks he deserves.
  • Surprises. Meeting new people, especially those who are humble and joyful.
  • Seeing my sin as what it is: unacceptable in the eyes of God. This one stings but let’s not sugar coat it. I’m thankful to have a savior who gave his perfect life in exchange for my all too often wretched life. I’m a sinner in need of a savior. Thank you Jesus.

Not Alone

“You will fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” – Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” – Mark 14:27-30

Today’s Reading: Mark 14, Psalm 138

The struggle is real! How many times do we declare our faith and fall short? Jesus knows our earthly struggles. Peter was told by Jesus that in the very same day he would disown Jesus three times. God has seen humans fall short since the Garden of Eden. As I read through Mark 14 even in the presence of the Lord, the disciples fell short in submitting to God’s will.  There are times when we do as well. But in these stories of the disciples falling short, Jesus leaves hints of how to stay connected to Him. His word is packed with promises for today and tomorrow.

The visual I see of sheep scattering is a perfect image of what I can be like sometimes when trials come my way.  A quick reflex, eyes wide open,  with arms flailing  in an opposite direction, possibly stumbling, trying to get up so I can get away.

Jesus lets us know He goes before us.  That even Peter, who believed he would never deny Him, did so in the same night.  That we can’t rely on ourselves to get through hard circumstances. We have to call on Him and trust.

Jesus provides us some reminders as we read Mark.

Prayer – Mark 14:35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”     All things are possible through prayer.  All things can be included in your prayer life.  Most days I will pray to be more prayerful? It’s when I think I have I have it under control the Lord has His way of saying, Why are you not asking me?

Mark 14:38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Psalm 145: 18:19 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

  • Stay Awake – It’s easy to get caught up in schedule that has you looking into the end of the week as we worry about the things to be wrapped, this gift to find, the party you have to attend, or these things at work that need to be done.  It can be the problem that still hasn’t been solved that is now growing and leaving you half-minded. Be aware of God’s presence right now in your life, waiting for you to call Him.

Mark 14:41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

1 Thessalonians 5:6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • Don’t do it alone –  Having and realizing God is with us all the time is amazing. It  God always being with us, do life with others.  I think of our small group and how many circumstances in our lives we have walked through together. I think of the many brothers and sisters in Christ I have been able to talk with and hear timely words of wisdom from when there was no way at all I was going to figure out that problem. Sharing your struggles with others can provide you with the additional blessings and strength you may need.  Same with you and others, we supply that same blessing and prayer.  Together we provide strength and growth towards Christlikeness.  Thank you to all of you that have made such a difference in my walk with the Lord.  Please always know I’m here for you too.

Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

God wants us to stay close to Him, instead of falling asleep or denying Him, draw closer. We celebrate and praise the birth of a Savior who came for us, and who loves us.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Bible Journal Family and Friends. David, Jennifer, Jackson, Marshall, and…7/11/18:)

Psalm 138:7-8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

 

 

Faith to Move a Mountain

Today’s reading is Mark 11 and Psalm 135.

Mark 11:24 reads, “Therefore I tell you whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” If this is true, then why don’t I have the Lamborghini I’ve been praying for?! In all seriousness, I think this is a verse that many Christians struggle with quite frankly and one that many non-believers use as evidence that God does not exist.” If there is a God, why doesn’t he answer my prayers? It says here He does, but He hasn’t answered mine.”

I can remember my Mom saying at a young age that God does answer all prayers, but just not directly in the way you ask and think is best. Why? We are sinful humans. We don’t know what is best. He does. If we did, then we would be God, and we are clearly not. Most of our prayers have some sort of a selfish nature wanting us to receive the glory and not Him. Isaiah 55:8-9,“ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ “Reading this in Isaiah makes me thankful He doesn’t answer my prayers in the way I ask. He knows what is truly best. I don’t. I just think I do.

Mark 11:23 also says we can ask a mountain to move and it will. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t even seen a pencil move when I asked it to! Does this mean there is no God or these verses in Mark are not true? James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” I’m embarrassed to say that even though I know God made the Earth and Heavens and everything in them, not only do I doubt He will do certain things, but if I really get deep and reflect I even question if He can do certain things. Do we really believe God can and will heal our loved one from the illness he or she has? Do we really believe He can and will heal our marriage like we’ve been asking? Do we truly believe He can and will move that mountain if we asked Him to? Maybe if we truly believed He would and could,  He would actually in fact do it. God knows the true condition of our heart and maybe Mark 11:23 is not just a metaphor, but He truly would move a mountain if we asked and truly believed He would.

As we move forward in this next week let us pray this together….

Lord, please create in me a pure, clean heart. Please help my prayers not be for selfish ambition and for my glory but for yours. Help me to know and believe you can and will answer my prayers. When I truly believe you can and will move that mountain I’m facing in my life, I know you will.