Heart Searcher

” I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  Jeremiah 17:10

Good Morning Bible Journal family, Happy Easter Week!

The other night I found myself up for multiple hours praying and reflecting on this verse. You see, my daily prayer involves the Lord searching my heart and continuing to do His transformational work. (My selfish desires always get in the way.) There are really only you and God that knows all depths of your heart.

I continue to pray for some Heavenly heart surgery and have felt more grateful for this time we have with His word and to ourselves to examine our hearts to see what God sees.  There are many negative impacts our current pandemic has shown us, but I can also say there have been many praises in our household as well.  Before being forced to stay at home, our family often ran the worldly race between job, children, selfish desires, and other mental and physical to do’s lists. Many times this left only my scheduled parts of the day to God before I got too busy with worldly agendas.  I would be running a race so fast I was missing opportunities with my beautiful bride and children and mainly with God.  For many of us as we run this race we are able to put on an outside image that mirrors the Goldilock’s “just right” appearance that things are “ok” but inside still have some battles going on.  Thankfully, we have a savior who sees our hearts and says, “I love you, follow me.”  Thank you, God, for seeing my sinful heart and helping us to see how we need you. Lord, help us to produce fruit.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27

God will send His Spirit to intercede for us.  The more our heart is open and talking with Him, we will start to abide by His will and not our own earthly desires. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart today.  To intercede for our desires.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 1 Chronicles 28:9

Remember in this time and when things return to “Normal” to seek Him.  I know many people have questioned why we have so many things going on in our world today? Where have our priorities been compared to where they may be today? When we truly seek Him, he finds us and will change your eternal life.

I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Revelation 2:23

I know what a very strong verse for early in the morning.  Strike dead.  Truth is we are all going to die one day.  I pray that as God searches our hearts He finds the transformation that highlights deeds performed only to glorify His kingdom.

It’s not to late, there is nothing that you have done in your past that can’t keep you away from a relationship with God.  Yes, we all have sinful hearts, God won’t be shocked by what He sees.  His desire is for us to turn to Him, repent, and seek Him with our hearts.

Here’s my heart Lord, speak what is true!

I can’t think of a better song.  This last Saturday I was going to take our son to his first concert, Casting Crowns.  I look forward to making it soon.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. Psalm 139:1

Happy Easter Bible Journal readers, praying for you and your families.  Produce great fruit this week.

 

 

 

God over all kingdoms

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 19:15

And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. Lord, the God of Isreal, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

Today, I find comfort in this verse.  There can be our natural human lean towards fear and anxiety about future health for ourselves, family, and friends. It’s reassuring I can find peace in our God in His Kingdom at this time. On this side of the earth and in eternal Heaven, God alone will rule.  In the last five weeks, we have talked about our Lord the King of Kings at church.  Pastor Mike has provided wisdom to the Living truth that it all points back to One King and One Kingdom. (If you have time I would go back and watch or listen – King of Kings )

For me, it has lately been really easy to live my life according to the calendar of daily events that either involve myself, wife, or children.   Before just over a week ago I was still just doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.   In reflection, it was like my own day to day kingdom that of course, I felt I had control of.  How selfish of me. The truth is God has reigned over all kingdoms, He has always been able to show this kingdom is His. The kingdom of Earth and Heaven.  As I stated in the beginning, I found comfort in this verse because it helped me to remember who’s Kingdom this all is, and the eternal Kingdom to come. I can’t let my schedules run me around, I need to submit to His will daily.

David said in 1 Chronicles 29:11 says

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom.

 

Dear God,

I love you and thank you for all your ways. I humbly repent of my earthly desires to always want to do what I want to do and not submit to Your will.  Help me to listen, help me to lean into your Living Word and remember who’s God over this earthly Kingdom and the one to come.  Lord, we pray for wisdom and comfort during this time using all our moments to point back to you. Help us to grow more Christ-like and deepen our trust in Your plan.

Foundation

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, with Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 3:11

Jesus as our foundation.  This is one of my favorite analogies of who Christ is. Paul goes from planting and being God’s field to the foundation of God’s building(v.9).

I’ve never been a mason.  One summer I in my late teens I helped a family friend put up a new chimney. (I was mainly the person who would carry the bricks and mortar up and down the ladder) When the opportunity arose for me to help with the bricks I often went too fast wanting to get done quicker and thinking about the way I was going to be using the money.  The gentleman I worked with quickly put me in my place about taking my time and the importance of lining up of the bricks.  The importance of the cornerstone. 

This brings me to today, our verse about Jesus being our foundation.  In order to capture more wisdom of this verse, I listened to the sermon called The Judgement of the Believers Work by John MacArthur which helped me to connect all the parts of this section that includes verses 1 Corinthians 3:10-17.

I’ve challenged myself this last week with the question if Jesus is my cornerstone, how am I building the rest of my building?

Back in 2017, BJ wrote specifically about Jesus being our Cornerstone.

 

Our life should be built only on Him.  As the builder who gets to lay bricks every day I have to remember that one day I will be face to face with Jesus and he will look at my building and have a final judgment. Just looking one verse ahead tells me,

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth on it. But let every man take heed how he buildeth upon it.”

Do I just rush into the day without being in His Word? Do I find weak substitutes in my own desires? What are my motives behind my daily actions and words?  We all believe that Jesus is our foundation.  His Living Word, the Bible, provides us deep footings to align our life.  What kind of building are you building today?

MacArthur said, ” Some people are trying to build their lives on morality, and ethics, and good deeds, and all of these things. But the only foundation for a life and the only foundation for corporate life, which is the church, is Jesus Christ. If that foundation goes, everything falls. ” 

For many years of my life, I didn’t even know my foundation.  Through other believers, friends, family, bible journal writers, and the people of the Church,  you helped point me back to our foundation, Jesus.  He is our foundation, the cornerstone of what each day of our life should be lived on.  I have misplaced some bricks, I’ve placed bricks too fast, I replaced bricks with idols, I laid bricks just to try to impress others.  Every brick I lay should be for Jesus. He is our foundation.  When that final judgment comes God is going to judge our motives,  conduct, and service.  Did I use the gifts He provided me to build upon His foundation His glory or for my own?

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Dear Jesus,

You are our foundation. You have given us your Living Word and it all points to you.  Father, help me to build my life around your foundation and while laying every brick I point it all back to you.  Jesus please help guide and direct us to use the gifts you have provided to us in order to be the hands of feet of You. We love you! Thank you for being our foundation.  Amen

Everlasting Father

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This verse has made me reflect a lot this last week. It’s an amazing verse that can provide so much comfort wherever you may be at today.  Out of the many names of Jesus we have studied and lifted up we come across, Everlasting Father.

Initially, my thoughts brought me back to my own earthly father, the late Ronald LaFrance.  I never really got a chance to know him before he passed away.  My parents got divorced when I was in 5th grade and as a family, we had many dysfunctional situations that occurred before this time.  My father passed away just over 17 years ago.  Sadly, I couldn’t tell you if he was a believer.  I pray he was.  For many years growing up I was searching for a father.  For many years after he died I was still searching for one.  It wasn’t until 8 years after my earthly father’s death I truly met and started focusing on a true relationship with my Everlasting Father.  I had an earthly father but he is gone.

Fast-forward 17 years to today. I’m a husband to Jennifer and father to Jackson (9), Marshall (5), and Gianna (18 months). I try to model to the best of my earthly abilities how to be our Heavenly Father for my family.  I fall short daily in many ways. My daily prayer is to close the gap between what we read or hear in His Living Word and how I personally act and say.  What’s in my heart and who am I living for?  The difficult part to imagine at times is just like my earthly father who passed away,  so will I.

The greatest part of this reflection of being a son who spent many years searching for a father, and now spending years trying to be the best earthly father is that we have an Everlasting Father who is there always.  An Everlasting Father that whether you grew up with your dad or not or if you are knocking it out of the park as a parent or have messed it up, you have an Everlasting Father that will provide everything you need and everything your children will need.

You have a Father forever.  Someone who has known you even before you were born and will be there even when our midst of time on this earth passes, waiting to tell you, “well done“.

This week like only God can do I sat in church thinking about our everlasting Father. What were some of the scriptures shared?  Verses about our Everlasting Father, verses about prayer. Thank you, God, for your perfect timing always.

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.” Mark 14:36

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15-16

Isaiah announces the birth of our coming Father.  As an Everlasting Father, he will show unconditional love, concern, and care for us. This will never stop.

Dear Dad,

You are the Father of Eternity. You care for us, love us, and will be present for us forever.  I had a father but now he is gone, I am a father, but I will be gone too one day.  Please help me to tell and show others that we have an Everlasting Father just waiting to provide us with eternal life. We just need to call on you, turn away from our sins, and love you.

 

Covenant for the people

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations, Isaiah 42:6

A covenant is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with His people. This covenant would be for all nations, all people. But there was only one person that could fill it. Jesus. As the prophet Isaiah stood about a hundred years before the birth of Jesus he prophesized about the coming of this covenant, a coming of light for all who came after.  This includes you and me.  There was no other who could do this. Earlier in the book of Isaiah, God had provided Isaiah with wisdom about the coming judgment of all people, still with godliness in their minds, it wasn’t capturing their hearts. They knew what would happen, what to do, how to do it, and what to say, still, in their hearts, the true relationship with God wasn’t there.

How does that still show up today? We have been given a warning about what will happen. Just this last week we talked about it in church.  We know –

  • The King will sit on His throne.
  • Everyone will stand before the throne.
  • Those who failed to  show compassion not by works but by a relationship with God on the throne
  • Eternal punishment will be real. Eternally separated from God.
  • Entering into the Kingdom is inherited, not earned.

Israel and all the nations (this includes us) have been given God’s words to know and to live by, still, we needed the covenant for the people, Jesus, to come and show us the Suffering Servant and sovereign Lord. Based on what our covenant for the people did, Jesus, we all can be forgiven and turn to Him in faith.  Knowing that when that day comes when we stand at the throne we will too enter into the Kingdom not by anything we have done,  but by our relationship with Him.

Have you had an encounter with God? A time where He grabbed a hold of your heart and shows you that it’s not about what we are doing but who He is to us? I can recall a few moments where God was tugging on my heart to let go of my earthly desires. The more we invest in an honest, open-hearted relationship with God, the more we will realize how much we need Him.  There has been, and still are many times where I think, “I got this” and truthfully, I don’t.  He does.  What I need is a closer relationship and honestly more sincere trust that my faith can’t be on myself or anything in this earthly world.  But in our covenant for the people.  My trust needs to be in Jesus!

Psalm 105:8 He remembers His covenant forever, the promises He made, for a thousand generations,

 

brightness

Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. Psalm 18:12

In praying for some insight into this verse and the focus of brightness I had to go back to the beginning of Psalm 18.  This Psalm written by David is a song out of gratitude for the Lord’s deliverance and victory.  David knew the only sure way to be delivered from surrounding evil was to call on Him.  He will provide the help and strength we need. Did you know that in 2 Samuel 22  David would again sing a song of praise when he was delivered from the hand of his enemies and of Saul?

Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth.  (2 Samuel 22:13)

I love watching a storm roll in.  The lightning that can be seen in the distance is mesmerizing.  At night there are times when the lighting is so bright the whole earth seems to light up.  I love this imagery for God.  The brightness of His light shows the way for all of us to take the next step. In the dark it allows us to see our surroundings. If you are in a dark place right now pray for God’s light.  Allow His brightness to help guide you through this storm.

With prayer and praise, the brightness of Jesus can light up your sky today! As the storm comes in and brings darkness, trust that the brightness of the Lord shines brighter than it all.  The brightness of lightning reminds me of His power to control it all.  Turn your eyes to God.   For the light of God is in our midst, and yet, even the brightest moments are but glimmers of the coming glory. The light of God in our world may seem to fade when darkness rears its head in death, disease, and sin, but a day of “unfading brightness” is coming. I can’t wait to see you there.  Let’s tell others of this light with us. #influence

“Who being the brightness of His Glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Have a wonderful day everyone! 

Atoning Sacrifice

He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

For all our offenses, Jesus came. Our debt has been covered.  As I reflect on this verse I can think about the guilt many can have from past sin.  Thankfully our advocate we have is Jesus who tells us He came and suffered for the sins of our past, present, and future.  The debt he paid was for you, me, and everyone.  One day when we come face to face with him we can wrap our arms around Him and thank Him as he welcomes us home.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins 1 John 4:10

Jesus ever lives to make intercession for those that come to believe in God through him.  We are all sinners in need of a savior.  The price has already been paid.  It can be hard to forgive yourself, it can even be harder to forgive others at times.  Still, all the sins of all the people paid in full by Jesus, our atoning sacrifice.  No one is beyond forgiveness.

Dear God,

Thank you for sending your son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for us.  The sacrifice he made for all of us we didn’t deserve, still, he submitted himself for us paying off all our debts.  God, I pray for those who don’t know you and understand the forgiveness promised we help share this truth.   Help us to continue to turn from sin and when we do fall short turn to you for forgiveness.  God help us to commit our heart to you and not to ourselves or this world.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Walking with Him

Good Morning Biblejournal family,

Happy New Years Eve,

The other day I read One Day at a Time by Stephanie.  It really spoke to me at the current time and place in my life.  If you didn’t get the chance to read it I would encourage you to go back and read it again. Reflecting on the quote by Elisabeth Elliot which said,  “The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived – not always looked forward to as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.”  This quote got me thinking how many years I have approached the New Year with a list a of new goals or plans for the upcoming year.  I reflect on this last year and leave myself we multiple if only… Still, as we enter into a New Year I was doing some reading and found the words by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:2 Meaningless! Meaningless!  says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

I know, encouraging right? Really, what I need to ask myself for the New Year is, what am I doing that is meaningful?  It reminds me that life can be meaningless when I don’t have God at the center of it.  That true satisfaction and joy only come through Him.  Many times I can do be doing things for me or/and make idols out of my wife, kids, job, sports, or earthly desires. Often I want things my way and in my timing. God shakes His head I’m sure wondering when will I let go?  My prayer is for a balance of love and grace while encouraging others and pointing everything back to Him.

Psalm 119: 133-134 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.

I know we are broken and live in a broken world. But when I let God direct my footsteps and not seek my own satisfaction or desires, sin can take a back seat.

I recently read,  Christianity is lived on an incline, and if you’re not moving forward, your slipping backward.  What meaningless things are causing you to slip? What is causing me to slip?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your wisdom given to us through your living word. I pray as we enter into a New Year we will use your wisdom to help us in knowing what is meaningless or an idol that causes us to slip down that slope further from you. We pray for the wisdom to continue to take steps closer to you as we continue our journey of faith.  Help us to plants seeds and be the hands and feet to others pointing everything back to you.  God, we need you every day and as we enter into 2020 help us to trust and obey in your will for us on this earth so we can one day spend eternity with you in Heaven.  We love you. Amen

 

Are we there yet?

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12 

In the last couple of months, I have heard this many times as we have traveled as a family to watch our sons play hockey.  Many of these games have taken place around Chicago two to three hours away depending on the traffic and construction.  The first time this question is asked is before we have even left Bloomington.  So this week, we plan to drive to Florida I’m thinking of starting a tally chart for fun to see how many times this is asked.

I often can take for granted the time we spend with each other. As I reflect on previous shorter trips I can recall many lost times to frustration, short tempers, yelling both at our kids and my wife because of my loss of patience and grace. I’ve even quoted the “Don’t make me pull this car over” that may have happened a few times growing up.  In these moments that are fleeting, I have lost sight of God, His Grace, and the Kingdom promised to all of us.  I have lost sight of His purpose for my life and the lives of my wife, children, friends, and others.  For me, I need to be in His word every day.  His word is living and active. Hebrews 4:12 Proverbs 30:5 says Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.  Psalm 119:105 says Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.

There are many verses that you can go to when faced with challenges throughout the day. I will often carry a few in my pocket as a reminder to provide support in the face of adversity.  Remember that Satan is the father of lies.  Don’t let him ruin these moments you will be spending in the near future with family and friends. Keep your faith, trust, and hope in our Savior who sent his own son to die for us.  For me, I’ve been reminded about my wife and children and the importance of always showing my trust and faith in Jesus who came to show us how to live, how to love Him, how to love others.  I recently read the book Hero by Meg Meeker who said, “Every day that your children see you, they’re shaped by you. And equally important they are also shaped by your absence when you are not there”.

In nine days we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  He lived a perfect life. He died for us and was resurrected so that we would believe.  It will be easy to get caught up in the road trips, the parties, the gifts.  Don’t miss the opportunity you have today to share the greatest gift ever.  The chance to have a relationship with God.  Proverbs 3:6 says, In all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.  Every conversation we have with a person (or your own child) leaves them better or worse.  Make it better!

Dear God,

Teach us to number our days.  That earthly day we have is an opportunity to praise you and submit to your will for our lives.  Often we can get caught up in everything going on around us and lose sight of who should be at the center of everything. Heavenly Father, please help us to lean into you and celebrate the eternal life we will have with you one day.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Are we there yet?

 

King Agrippa II

And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”[ 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

King Agrippa had asked to hear Paul’s case.  What he heard was Paul’s testimony of transformation and the essence of why he tells of the glory of God.  Today’s reading is from  Acts 25-26

Paul is brought before King Agrippa and other prominent men to tell his case even though no one has been able to find any charges against Paul.  King Agrippa II was the brother of Drusilla, Felix’s wife. He was responsible during much of his rule for appointing high priests. Although he was Jewish by religion, the Jewish people disliked him, because he sided ways with Rome. He was a major political and religious person who had alternative motives in hearing Paul’s case to benefit future political maneuverings.

Like many people, King Agrippa stopped within the hearing distance of the Kingdom of God. He heard the Gospel but decided it wasn’t worth responding personally. Many of us still can hear or read a story and stop right there without believing.

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

Almost… how many almost times have you been part of an almost story? Times where you have shared the Gospel or an offering into a relationship with God and it was left at that. For myself, growing up I heard many caring individuals share their testimony of faith with me and didn’t accept the invitation.  Like King Agrippa, I was too worried about what others would say or think. Only by God’s grace did He still provide testimonies and acts of true love providing me with a truth of a genuine relationship with God.  Every testimony I hear through our bible journal provides daily reminders of how great and loving our Lord is.

How has hearing the Gospel impacted you? Has it turned your life around and given you the hope of eternal life, or a message of resistance. I wish it would have taken a short time. But God’s perfect timing is and was just in time.  I’m grateful for the many people who share their testimony with others.  Paul shared his testimony.  He spoke the truth that King Agrippa had known, still, the King wasn’t going to let this testimony change what Agrippa wanted the world to see.

Paul shares his testimony for all who are listening.  Do we shy away from sharing ours?

To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

It’s not easy to share our testimony when we let our own human thoughts and worries get in the way.  But we have a Lord that will help provide the words and courage to share with others the hope of an eternal Kingdom.  We are all sinners.  But the two categories of sinners include saved and unsaved.

Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved… v13″ Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 

It may seem hard and scary to give your whole life to God, but the price will seem minimal compared to an eternity without Him.  Take time to share your amazing testimony with someone today.

Prayers for a great day today!