Let Go. He Has.

Today’s reading is Judges 15:9-20 as we read about Samson for a second day.

Yesterday we read in Judges 13:5 where an angel told Samson’s mother before he was born that God had big plans for Samson, and He would begin to save Israel from the Philistines who were against God and who suppressed them. Reading through today’s verses tell us he did just that. Although they took him as a prisoner, we can read in chapter 16 he killed many of them taking down the pillars of the building he was in with them.

In reading about Samson in the book of Judges we can tell God did with Samson just what he said he would and fulfilled His purpose through him. We can also learn Samson did not always do what was pleasing to God. He did not follow many of the rules he was supposed to as a Nazarite. He also fell in love with Philistine women who were against God including Delilah. Some would also say that while God did say he would fight against the Philistines he was also over-zealous and too bent on revenge and violence.

If we think about what the angel told Samson’s parents about the plans God had for Samson, we might realize that he did not say Samson would live a perfect life without sin, or God would only do big things with Samson if he didn’t make mistakes or behaved in a certain way. God was going to fulfill His purpose for Samson despite his mistakes and mess ups which He knew Samson would make.

Did you know God said the same thing about you?

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

These verses in Psalms tell us not only did He make you fearfully and wonderfully and know you before you were born, but He knew all the days in your life and what would happen and the mistakes you would make. Yet, the verse in Ephesians tells us you are not only His workmanship, but you were created for good works which God prepared before hand for you to walk in. You were created for good works He would do through you despite your sin.

From the time sin came into the world, God knew you would sin and had a plan to defeat it. Genesis 3:15 tells Satan Jesus would come “crush your head” beating sin. Romans 5:8 tells us while we were still sinners Christ showed us His love and died for us.

God has had a plan for you all along to not only save you from your sin, but to use you for His purpose.

He’s forgiven you and will use you for His purpose despite anything in your past.

Since He’s forgiven you, what do you need to forgive yourself?

What do you need to do to remember daily that He will use you for big things despite your sin and past?

In fact, He’s using your past and your story to create your future and bring His greater story of grace and forgiveness to light so that He may be glorified and so that others may know Him and know His love and what’s possible through you and your life.

Nobody But Jesus

Today’s reading is Acts 10:1-11:18 as we focus on Cornelius.

The Bible tells us Cornelius was a centurion in the Roman army meaning he commanded at least one hundred men and held an important social status. Despite his non-jewish, Gentile background, we are told in Acts 10:2 that he was devout, feared God, and gave alms or money to the poor and needy. Being a believer, Cornelius likely thought he was already being used by God for a purpose with his favorable position of power. However, we serve a big God who has bigger vision for each one of us and the people of this world than we can see. Cornelius is visited by an angel telling him to send a few of his men to get Peter who he’s never met and doesn’t know. Not coincidentally when Cornelius’ men show up, Peter just had a vision from God (Acts 10:9-15) telling him that the Gospel was available to all nations. Peter then went with Cornelius men to Caesara helping bring the Gospel through the Holy Spirit to them and all the Gentiles.

As I read these verses, I could not help but think of and look back on my notes from a sermon Pastor Mike Baker from Eastview Church did a few years ago on Genesis 12 where Abram is called to leave his country. Pastor Mike said, “Faith is not a ‘stay’…it’s always a ‘go.’” If you ‘stay,’ you don’t need faith and you can’t grow to be all God’s called you to be. God doesn’t give us the details of the future even when we are in turmoil wanting to know His plans for two reasons. First, we would likely freak out if we knew everything that would happen. Second, we would try to take over and mess it up thinking we can do it better than God can. Cornelius could have just said, “Hey God..I’m doing good things here as a centurion. I’m giving to the needy and using my position for good, and I have 100 men here under me I can witness, too.” However, God called him for bigger things..to bring the Good News of Jesus through the Holy Spirit to all the Gentiles and letting them know that His forgiveness through the cross was available to all people and all nations (Acts 10:34-35, Acts 10:44-48 Acts 11:18). He called Cornelius to “go” and do bigger things, he obeyed, and look what happened.

Today, on Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for Cornelius, the Holy Spirit, and the big God we serve that is always working on our behalf.  Sadly, I don’t know much about my genealogy, but likely similar to many reading this, I don’t think I have any Jewish roots. I’m thankful that Cornelius obeyed God’s command so we non-Jews know that we are also one of God’s people through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can be thankful Romans 8:26-28 tells us the Holy Spirit is always working on our behalf and interceding (just like here to come to the Gentiles and make Jesus’ forgiveness available and known to everyone). Despite whatever challenges and changes in your life you may be going through today, you can be thankful that He working ALL things for His good. Be grateful you don’t know and can’t control the future because through His power within you, He can do more than you can ever ask or imagine, and He will be glorified (Ephesians 3:20-21), so that ultimately through you the world can see “nobody but Jesus.” How blessed are we that He uses us for His purpose.



The Plans He Has

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfareand not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Jeremiah 29:10-14

Well hello Bible Journal readers, another Monday is upon us! How are you feeling? I think of you and pray for you at the beginning of each week. I hope that you are finding joy and some peace in this holiday season. In these final days of the year, we have the opportunity to share a verse or two with you that is close to our heart. Jeremiah 29:11 has always been a foundational piece of the word for our family. I wrote these words on a small piece of paper the night before our son had a very important brain MRI in 2011. That small scrap of paper has been there ever since. We rely on these words to remind us that God will indeed fulfill his promises, that he has plans for us that are good and that he doesn’t ever harm us.

I had to go back to that little scrap of paper this week for the first time in a long time. A friend of ours died very suddenly in a place that was not his home and in a way that brought more questions than will ever be answers. It’s been a long time since I have questioned in the “but why God” sort of way. Honestly, I thought I was more mature in my faith journey than that, but this event changed things. This extinguished life without a why brought on unexpected waves of grief and anger. Have you ever had a rock bottom moment like that in your faith journey? I rolled it around in my mind looking for the grace or maybe a hint of mercy in the situation, but I couldn’t see it. I came back to my foundational verse, Jeremiah 29:11 and I got even more angry. There is no hope or future for our friend so what is the plan?When it came time to write today, I went back to my Bible, flipping pages looking for inspiration and came back to Jeremiah. For the first time in a very long time I began at the beginning:

“These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Jeremiah 29:1

 These are the words. The words of the letter. The letter sent to the exiles. So, before the exiles got this letter they were just exiles. In fact, I noticed for the very first time in the ten years that I have been frequently this page of my Bible that the name of this chapter is, “Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles” All along it’s been really helpful and comforting to read that part about God’s plan for hope and a future but I sort of missed the point. Without a period of exile, we can’t experience the hope and the future. Without the separation or exile from that which we hold dear, we can’t truly know Him. Shoot, I forgot that being a Christian does not guarantee that we’ll be protected from really hard things. It doesn’t mean that we’ll have an easy life without the broken parts. It does mean that when the really hard things happen that we will know to seek Him. And when we seek Him, He finds us. He finds us in the darkest dark when all we have left is to cling to Him with our whole heart. There may never be answers but there will berestoration.

If I’m writing to you today, I hope you find comfort and hope in this message. I hope you see that all Christ followers have a bottom of the barrel “whyGod” moment. We are all in exile some of the time. As Christmas draws near, I hope you’ll go to Him with all your heart. Pour out your hopes to Him and ask Him to intercede with good in your life. If you are approaching this holiday with trepidation because you are broken, go to Him. If you are reading this and you are not sure if He has a plan for you, go to Him and ask.

Have a great week!


Our Prince



Today’s Readings: 1 Chronicles 3-4, Hebrews 9, Amos 3, Psalms 146-147

“I will praise the Lord as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 

Put not your trust in princes,

in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;

on that very day his plans perish.”

Psalm 146: 2-4

 It’s been quite a week to live here on this earth in our little country called The United States. At least I’m sure our country is small to our Heavenly Father who is looking down on us, shaking his head as we struggle to be united. My heart has been heavy with the responsibility of writing today. Mostly, because I want to deliver an uplifting message to everyone and maybe because I need one myself. We’ve spent this week, this month, this year focused on the plans that one person has for our country. But we forgot. We forgot that there isn’t a person on this earth that can have dominion over everything.

“…when his breath departs, he returns to earth; on that very day his plans perish.” 

When we put all of our hope and our trust and our faith in a human being, there will be hardship. No matter who it is. No one can carry our lives in their hand, keep us safe, and protect our souls like our Father. It has been a hard lesson, but we are learning. Our country is swept up in fear, hostility and in some places violence. The division is deep, and it hurts. There is one that can heal us. One that shows us each day that our plans are just for now, while we are here. What endures is God’s love, generation after generation.

At another time in my life when I was afraid and alone, a friend took the time to write encouraging scriptures for me on some little yellow note cards. Those cards saved me. Literally, those cards brought the Bible into my life for the very first time. Despite growing up Catholic I had never opened a Bible. The first time I read about God’s promises, they were written on yellow index cards. This opportunity to write for Bible Journal has matured my faith more than I could have imagined, I am reading many of His sacred words for the first time. Now, I hold those passages close to my heart. I speak them out loud, read them in a quiet moment or simply think them while driving from place to place. That small act of taking an hour to write scripture onto note cards had such an impact on my life. As I prayed about what to write for you today, God told me to bring it back to the simplicity of his word. He reminded me that we can’t fix things here on earth. We are a broken world with broken people. He is the only “fixer.” I realized that the uplifting message I have to share with you today is just Jesus. He is our salvation.

Lord, we know that you are in control of everything. We know that you lead us each and every day. Help us to see your way Father.

A few of the yellow cards:


“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18


“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3


“Faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see…By faith, I understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3


“God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of calm and well balanced mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7


“Now unto Him who is able to do more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be the glory forever and ever, Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21


“Everything that was written in the past was written to teach me, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures I might have hope.” Romans 15:4