Growing in the Harshest Conditions

Cheyenne Zubler of Cheye Girl Photography

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a lover of God’s creation, especially plants that bloom! My family moved into our current home sixteen years ago. It sets on approximately ¼ of an acre. At the time we moved in, there were lilac bushes bordering two sides of the property, spirea bushes along the front and back of the house, a 16’ length of fence with blackberries, and six fifty year old trees (three pine, three maple). To most people that would be more than enough, but not for me! I have transformed our property to include fourteen flower beds, a 48’ x 24’ fruit and vegetable garden with an arbor wall, a pergola, and a 7’ x 20’ pond (4’ deep). My husband says that’s enough every time I add something new, but he is always amazed by the beauty and enjoyment it brings.

All of the beauty in our yard is always dependent on the weather. As I’m sure you know, the amount of precipitation, sunlight, and nutrients determine the growth of the plant. The environment that the plants are exposed to directly affects the end result. Each plant has its own needs in order to thrive. Some need dry soil, some need swampy, and yet some need a perfect blend. It can be a delicate balancing act that you ultimately have no control over. It is hard (sometimes impossible) to recover the growing season once the plant has been exposed to the harsh elements. A succulent that gets flooded and sits in soggy soil for extended time will just rot. A delicate impatient that is baked in the hot sun with no water for days on end will most likely shrivel and dry up to a crisp twig. Both will be lost forever.

If all the conditions are right in early spring, the Bearded Iris will begin to sprout from the rhizome sitting on top of the soil. The straight, blade-like leaves will grow up to 18″ tall. In a couple of weeks, you’ll start to see a stalk rise above the leaves, and buds will poke through and swell with glorious anticipation. Then one by one, as the air warms each bud’s petals, they will show their glory with a sweet scent. Weeks of growth comes to a beautiful climax that lasts just one day. That’s right, each iris bloom lasts just one day. Then, it begins to shrink and curl up. Thankfully, there are multiple blooms on each stalk giving you many days of beauty. But, sooner than later all of the blooms are gone and the greens wither away.

I watch my favorite flower go through this process year after year, and I am always amazed at God’s intricate attention to beauty. The hard, brown, ginger-like root produces one of the most delicate flowing petals bringing beauty to the garden. I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this back to the beginning when I spoke of the conditions needed for blooming and how this is so different from our ability to bloom in God’s glory.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.”
∼1 Peter 1:23-24

In God’s garden, we are preserved for eternity. Adverse conditions won’t inhibit us from blooming, and we don’t shrivel up after one bloom. In fact, God often uses those adverse circumstances to bring the most beautiful blooms of His eternal glory. In order to bloom in God’s garden of glory, the first mandatory requirement is that we are born again believers. Once God has sealed us with the Holy Spirit, then he can bring beauty to any of our circumstances in His will. He gives us nourishment and everything we need to flourish.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
∼John 15:16

Second, we must listen and obey. The lasting and meaningful fruit in our lives are not of our own accord. Have you ever tried so hard to make a situation thrive or recover it from despair only to find yourself busted and frustrated? Or, when we start to see it work just the way we want it, we see it wither away to nothing. In order to grow in God’s grace, we actually have to take in His living word and live by it.

God is the only one that can work blessings from hardships—blessings that will grow for eternity. Let me share how God tilled his grace into the garden of my life during some of the harshest conditions. My husband and I have been married for more than twenty years, and it has been a journey of love, joy, and adventures. But, like most marriages, it has had its fair share of trials, sickness, death, and despair. I became a born again Christian five years into our marriage. My husband grew up in the church but chose not to have a relationship with Christ. Our marriage was not created on the foundation of God and, until I became a Christian, neither of us cared.

I must have believed on some level: how could God fix something that he’s not fully a part of? My belief was full of unbelief. My fears continually won over my faith. A couple of years ago, we almost ended our commitment to each other. We had worked so hard through the years to save it by attending seminars and counseling and participating in exercise after exercise. None of our efforts made any lasting changes, until God stepped in when I finally stepped aside.

In my unbelief, I used to secretly ask God to give me an out. “Please, Lord, just make this long suffering end!” I longed for it to be over. I was so weary of trying everything known to man to save a relationship that seemed doomed from the beginning. Then, in the beginning of 2017, I had a complete breakthrough with God. I finally believed without a doubt, leaving no room for fear, that God loved me. This broken, bruised, tarnished, and tattered soul was actually whole, beautiful, blessed, without blemish, and strong. The circumstances in my life could not change it. No matter the outcome of whatever it is I face, I know that God has my best interest at hand. My Heavenly Father would not leave me.

So with this said, the night that my husband forced me to leave our home I had first thought, “Well, this is my out.” But was it? I was not even completely out of the driveway when I felt this sinking feeling in my gut that said this was wrong. I knew I was not to be leaving. I felt it at the core of my being. I knew that I could not just turn around and walk back in, but I also knew that it wasn’t going to be forever. The very thing that I had been begging for to end my marriage was going to be the one thing that healed it.

Within the next few months, God brought women into my life who were going through similar struggles. We started meeting weekly as a group to encourage each other, pray for each other, and support each other. We cried a river of tears and laughed so hard we cried again. We began seeing blooms through the ice as pictured in Isaiah 35.

Photography by Trisha L. KnaulThe desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”
∼Isaiah 35:1-2a

Joy and gladness returned where there was only sorrow and strife. But what changed? Our circumstances were still the same. Our lives were full of the same struggles. Then what made the difference? It was our obedience to God. God used a group of five broken women to bring blossoms of beauty in the most arid of desserts.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
∼Galatians 6:2

I encourage you to join me in God’s garden. If you allow him to give you living water by his word and feed you with his Holy Spirit, I can promise you that you will be blessed. The blessings may not be exactly what we want, but if we look between the thorns, we’ll see the beautiful rose blooming for all to see.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
∼Psalm 31:24

 

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

14 Free or Seriously Inexpensive Gift Ideas

Are you struggling to find that gift they won’t already have or is a bit more special than the mass produced box set? Here is list of ideas to spark your creativity on that perfect gift for that someone special.

1. Time
Is there any more cherished gift than spending time with your loved one? Write up a gift certificate that offers a date, a dinner, a night of watching the grandkids, or any other activity you know they’ll love. The most important part is making sure they redeem the coupon. Don’t let time get away.

2. Family Heirlooms
Give the gift that keeps on giving. Don’t wait until you’re gone to pass along the heirlooms. This way you can have the blessing of watching them cherish your gifts.

3. Memory Book
Create a memory book full of stories and pictures. If you’re not a crafter and able to do it yourself, go online! There are a lot of companies out there that you can upload pictures and write captions that share the great memory you have of your loved one.

4. Re-gifting isn’t Rude
I call it Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Is there a gift card you were given that you’ll never use? Or a scarf that isn’t your color? Or yet another throw blanket that you don’t need? Don’t waste them–re-gift them. Obviously not to the same person but hey, if you do by accident, be honest and just say that you loved their thoughtfulness and you’re passing it along.

5. Movie Nights
Redbox offers promo codes online that can be bought. Then you can add a cute gift card. (Click here for one I’ve made.)

6. Books
Gently used books you’ve already read make great gifts to your beloved bookworms. Write a personal note on the inside cover, wrap it in simple brown paper with a classic solid color ribbon. Perfection!

7. Compilation CDs
Create a CD of songs that remind you of that person. (Make sure you do so legally. Don’t be a pirate!) They will love the individual attention to detail and you’ll have fun reminiscing as you listen to the music. OR you can go completely modern and make them a personalized playlist. 

8. Ornaments
Make a gift that will become a cherished heirloom. And again, if you’re not a creative crafter, head to the craft store and buy an inexpensive kit that practically makes itself. You can find endless ideas online by searching craft sights, magazines, or Pinterest.

9. Re-purpose Relics
I LOVE this! I do this as often as I can. I absolutely love the idea of not letting something be thrown away by making it into something new. I’ve done this by making a necklace out of a belt buckle or old watch band; making a Christmas tree from used ribbons, inexpensive picks and a tomato cage, or making a blanket from old sweaters or t-shirts. I could go on and on, but to save space I suggest going to Pinterest and searching re-purposed crafts. You’’ll get thousands of options.

10. Canvas Art
You don’t have to keep your favorite photo closed up in a photo album or locked up in a electronic file. There are a plethora of companies out there offering great options on photo canvas boards that start under $5.00. Now that’s a great deal!

11. Mason Jars
Mason jar gifts aren’t just cookies anymore. Although sharing Grandma’s favorite cookie mix recipe isn’t a bad idea, there are endless options that include food, candles, and storage ideas. You can make a soup mix, dip mix, trail mix, or candied nuts. Or how about a Spa Jar filled with mini soaps, scrubby mitt, mask, bath bomb, and a candle? Once again, the internet is your friend here.

12. Handwriting Jewelry
Have you saved greeting cards from your loved one who’s passed on? Or you could even use your own handwriting. Jewelry companies can take a 1-4 word handwritten word or phrase and create a beautiful bracelet or necklace which becomes a cherished heirloom. (I’ve even seen fingerprints and paw prints used. Too cute!!)

13. Scavenger Hunt
Here’s a fun idea that can be done with kids and/or adults. There are so many ideas that can be done on a number of different scales. For kids, write a list of items pertaining to Christmas and hide gifts around the house that match or maybe at each spot give them a clue to the next. For teens, make a list of Christmas related items (bow, ribbon, poinsettia, gold coin, candy, angel, Christmas tree, nativity scene, candle, etc…) and have them walk or drive through town looking for the items. They can either take pictures (or if the owner wants to give the items, that works too), and the team that returns with the completed list first wins! A small prize for the winners could be candy bars, movie tickets, or online gaming points. For romantic adults, give them a written clue to find a variety of gifts hidden around the house. For example: Roses are red, Violets are blue, This item is as sweet as your love for me. You’ll find it hidden where you would find bubbles. (It’s a box of chocolates hidden in the bathtub.) Or how about: This item is sharp yet soft. Strong but has no strength. It’s considered old but has no grey hairs. You’ll find it in the kitchen. (It’s a block of Aged Sharp Cheddar Cheese) LOL! Have fun with this one. It’s a great game to play with the young and the old.

14. Donations in Honor of a Loved One
Give a donation in the name of your loved one or maybe in the name of the loved on who passed on. This is a great idea for teachers, co-workers, supervisors, pastors, or just about anyone.

Share it!
Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s from the heart, and it will be received with love and joy. Have fun creating memories that will last forever. Send us pictures of what you came up with, and we’ll post them on our Pinterest page.

Check out the rest of our Countdown to Christmas posts here.

21 Things to Watch, Listen, and Read Your Way to Christmas

Christmastime brings a myriad of memories and the emotions that come with them. My hope is to give you some ideas to create new memories with loved ones, remember the blessed memories of yesteryear, and lighten the pain of those that bring sadness.

7 Things to Watch

  1. A crackling fire; I start with a fire not only because it’s beautiful, relaxing, and warms the chill in the air but because you can do many of the below cuddled up next to the fireplace.
  2. Snow falling; There is something peaceful about watching snow fall. Snow is hated by so many, but I love snow because it gives a clean slate to the day. The world is beautiful when it is crystallized and seems to stand still for just a moment. Can it really be true that each snowflake is unique? (Proverbs 25:13)
  3. A young couple ice skating; I believe it is important to remember the pureness of young love. When we take time to remember what it means to have fun it gives us a renewed vision of who God has placed in our lives (friends, family and strangers alike). (1 Peter 4:8)
  4. Kids playing in the snow; Playing in the snow is still one of my favorite activities to do. I really do love winter. Watching children play in the snow is such a beautiful reminder of how innocent life begins. (Matthew 18:2-6)
  5. A local elementary school Christmas pageant; even if you don’t have children or grandchildren, go support the kids and teachers for all their hard work. A bonus is, there is always a funny one in the crowd!
  6. Twinkling Christmas lights; So many nights as a child I would lay in front of the Christmas tree with all the lights off and drift off to dreamland. Do you have a tradition of driving around your local town to see everyone’s decorations? Or does a local family, park, or company host a light display that marvels both the young and old?
  7. Christmas movies and TV shows; Last on this list but not meant to be the least of which you should do. Some of my favorites are listed and a couple new ones to watch:

It’s a Wonderful Life
White Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street
Scrooge, A Christmas Carol (1951)
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Holiday Inn
The Preacher’s Wife
While You Were Sleeping
The Man Who Invented Christmas
A Christmas Story
Elf
The Santa Clause (series)
Christmas Vacation
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman

7 Things to Listen To

  1. Children’s laughter; Can you not giggle yourself when you hear a child laugh?
  2. Golden Age radio shows; Turn back the time to when families would sit around the radio in the living room and listen to the entertaining dramas. This is a great past time that can be brought back with the technology of today. Look on the internet for great audios of classic shows from the Golden Age. Here is a great resource I found: Christmas Old Time Radio.
  3. The sounds of winter; Wherever you go there are sounds you probably haven’t even realized were going on around you. Have you listened to the sound of the snow beneath you on a bitter cold day? Or the dripping of melting icicles on a warm day? Tell me what sounds you heard when you stopped to listen. (Job 12:7-10)
  4. A young child telling Santa what they want for Christmas; Although Santa is not in the Bible, he has become a big part of the Christmas season. I think that a little make believe is good for all of us. It brings an innocence to the day when life can be down right too serious most of the time.
  5. Carolers; You may not be able to hear a group of carolers roaming your neighborhood but maybe you could bring harmony to a group of shut-ins? Gather a group of friends, family, or co-workers and visit a local nursing home, children’s home, or hospital to bring the sounds of joy to those who can’t get out themselves. (James 1:27)
  6. Stories from elders of their favorite memories and past times; If we don’t ask the generation before us to share their past, then it will be lost for the future. (Deuteronomy 32:7)
  7. And of course, Christmas music! Some of my favorites:

Silent Night
O’ Holy Night
Joy to the World
The First Noel
O Come all Ye Faithful
What Child is This?
Christmas Shoes
(And because I lost my two front teeth in December as a child…)
All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

7 Ideas for Reading

And since there are not that many different types of things you can read, I’ll just list some of my suggestions. A great source for more ideas is here. And if you missed the first post in this series, click here to check out Trisha’s post on 25 Bible Readings for Christmas.

  1. Scrooge, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  2. The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern
  3. Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis
  4. An Advent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu
  5. Unwrapping the Names of Christmas by Ashiritah Ciuciu
  6. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolken
  7. Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller

And 7 more for the kids (or the kid in you):
1. The Grinch by Dr. Suess
2. Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
3. Polar Express by Chris Van Allsberg
4. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
5. The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
6. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
7. God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren

May this list give you ideas on how you can slow down, enjoy time with family and friends, and notice things you haven’t before as you celebrate the birth of Jesus. I wish you the Merriest of Christmas seasons.

 

What are your favorite things to watch, listen to, or read during the Christmas season?

Check out the rest of our Countdown to Christmas series here.

 

A Countdown to Christmas

We are going to do a different Advent Countdown to Christmas this year. Bible Study Journey will post 8 different times starting November 30 until Christmas Eve, giving you ways to count down to the blessed day of Christmas.

The month of December is most likely a very busy month for you. If you’re like me, you find yourself frantically making lists (and checking them twice) of everything that needs to get done, everything that you want to buy for each person you love, and all of the events you would like to attend. I always have longer lists than I have time, money, and energy for.

Every year I have the best intentions to scale back and make the season all about my love for Christ himself. I’ve done well with not going full commercialized crazy on gift buying, but I still struggle with slowing down and learning more about and remembering why we celebrate Christmas. I almost always overbook myself making food and crafts and fall short when it comes to making room for quality family time.

We at Bible Study Journey believe we’re not alone in desiring to find new traditions for spending time with loved ones or just being able to slow down and meditate on our Savior. We’ve come together to bring you Bible readings, activities, gift ideas, recipes, suggestions on how to serve, games, and advice to bring Jesus, Faith, and Family to the forefront of this holiday season. If you haven’t already done so, like our Facebook page and subscribe (in the sidebar) to the website so you don’t miss any of the great ideas! Feel free to share with all your friends and family.

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Cornucopia of Thanksgiving

 

Read Psalm 107 here.

Oh thank you Father, our Lord in Heaven.

I want to bring you a praise of thanksgiving for not just what you have done for me but for who you are. I want to thank you for your mercy because I do not deserve your love. I thank you for your forgiveness, your grace to me is astounding. Your promises are true and are with no expiration. There is nothing I can do to break your love for me. I pray that all I do is for your glory. Thank you for loving me even when I fall way short of that desire.

Lord, I pray for those who may read this prayer. I pray that if they don’t know how great you are you show them your love in an undeniable way. I pray that their relationship with you grows deeper every day. Please reach out to them and let them know you are there. Show your glorious works in such a way that there is no denying your awesome power.

I stand on your promise that your kingdom cannot be shaken. You will always be there, guiding me and giving me the way to peace and blessings. I pray that I will see and recognize all of your blessings Lord, even those that have a sting. I am truly thankful for the times that you have showed me your love through the trials that seem so unbearable. Your strength is there when I am weak.

I thank you for listening to my cries, my hopes, my dreams and my desires. I thank you for the answers whether they are what I had imagined or not. I thank you for your sacrifice and the gift of your son, Jesus Christ. I thank you for your guidance through the Holy Spirit. In love and admiration I give you my heart, in the name of

the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Lifting Others Up to God

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.
1 Timothy 2:1

As I learned from my local pastors, whenever you see then at the beginning of a verse, you need to look at the previous passages to see what it is referring to. 1 Timothy begins with Paul writing to Timothy in regards to the people of Ephesus who had walked away from their faith in the Lord. Paul told Timothy to stay in Ephesus to instruct people on how they had fallen from the teachings of Christ. Paul also stated specific examples of this own terrible behaviors, speech, and actions that were all changed by the grace poured out on him by God. Paul was telling Timothy to remember what God had done for him and called him to do. You should also remember what God has done for you and called you to do.

For All People

By the time you get to the first verse of chapter two you understand why Paul was urging not just Timothy but everyone to lift people up to God. He told Timothy to petition, pray, intercede, and give thanks for all people. At first read that sounds like a lot to do for a lot of people so let’s break it down.

Petition

Petition, also translated as supplication, is to ask with desire. Before we pray, we need our hearts to be in line with God’s will for the person we are lifting up. Our prayers then call upon God to flood them with grace and blessings as in Psalm 67:1-4.

Pray

Pray, according to many scholars, as written in 1 Timothy is defined the same as supplication. If we look at other scripture to find out more about praying, Matthew 6:5-15 is an obvious place to look. We are to ask God for his grace, mercy, forgiveness, guidance, and provisions without boasting that we have done so.

Intercede

Intercede is to act upon someone else’s behalf. Often we don’t even know the words to pray, but we know that they need the love of God. Romans 8:26 speaks of how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. We hope for what is not yet received.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving speaks of the nature within us that develops when we are fully grounded in God’s will. (2 Thessalonians 1:3) Love overflows in us the deeper we are in relationship with God.

Lifting Others Up

We don’t know what God has in store for us or anyone else but God does. God doesn’t need us to pray in order for his plan to work. He desires a close relationship with everyone and we can develop that relationship by praying as he has instructed us to. Let’s give all our petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for everyone.

What do you think?

Do you find it easier to pray for others than it is to pray for yourself?
Do you pray for those who have tarnished the name of the LORD?
More specifically, do you pray for those who have harmed you?

Tell us your thoughts by leaving a response at the end of this post.

 

 

 

Visit here to enter the Project Prayer Giveaway.

Download all the Project Prayer extras (including the Luke 22:32 photo above) here.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

What’s the Purpose?

Why? Why? But why? Why? Why? Why? Why? But why? Why?…

Anyone who has been around an inquisitive toddler has heard the continual questions of why that seem to go on and on and on. I think at times we sound that way to God, but thankfully God does not get tired or irritated by our questions. So, let’s ask the question why pray?

There are many explanations of why we should pray. A few of the reasons that we at Bible Study Journey came up with are because we are told to, to be in communication with God, it’s a privilege, to be imitators of Jesus, to be a part of God’s workings, to develop humility and to have power over evil. I have thoroughly enjoyed diving into the Bible to discover what God has to say about prayer. Please join me on this journey to discover why we pray.

Christians are to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), faithfully (Romans 12:12), devoted (Colossians 4:2), to praying for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1)–even our enemies (Matthew 5:44)–and on all occasions (Ephesians 6:18). Does that seem overwhelming? Just take it slow and remember that learning new things and developing new habits takes time. With confidence I can say that God will bless you richly when you devote yourself to strengthening your prayer life.

I became devoted to prayer when I learned that Jesus himself prayed for us. It was early in my Christian walk during a women’s Bible study when we discussed John 17:20-25. In verses 24 and 25, Jesus said this prayer to God: 

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
      “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” 

If Jesus prayed for me, then why should I not pray for him and for God’s glory to shine above all?

If you are anything like me, you struggled at the thought of praying for everyone, all the time, and for those who attack us. That is where humility comes in as shown in Proverbs 11:2, “with humility comes wisdom” and in 22:4, “Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.” It is amazing when you humble yourself and truly pray in God’s will for goodness to those who have done you wrong. Give it a try; you won’t be sorry.

I believe the most humbling reason to pray is to be a part of God’s plan. When I think of who in the Bible (outside of Jesus) brought glory to God by his actions and his prayers, I think of the Prophet Elijah (You can find his story in 1 Kings 17-18:14). Elijah stood up for his beliefs in God. He prayed for God’s interventions even when they would be tremendously hard to endure. I see a man who showed us that the Christian life is not always easy. He wavered from time to time, even trying to hide from God when he felt like a failure. Just because you profess to believe in God, it does not mean that all troubles will be washed away and life will be one happy party. However, if we stay dedicated, humble, and steadfast in prayer, we can find the joy in the trials of life. Better yet, we are a witness to others, and the family of God will grow.

God shared with Elijah how his life had affected the Kingdom of God in Romans 11:4, “and what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'” 7,000! WOW! Elijah had no clue that his life had such an impact and the same goes for us. We have no way to know how a stranger’s life is impacted by our own. Just think, if someone sees you be extraordinarily gracious during a time of trial where you give God the glory for being able to endure, they may share what they saw with someone else, who will share it with someone else, and so on and so on.

I invite you to download the printable prayer journal (here) and other resources (here) we have available. Use these to commit to increasing your love for communicating with God through devoted prayer. I will conclude with a prayer:

Dear Lord,
Your gracious love for us is unfathomable. You say you will not leave those who believe in you. You give a way through any and all trials we come across here on earth. For this I thank you. I pray that my selfish desires are extinguished by the living water that flows through me from your Holy Spirit. Please use my life to strengthen your kingdom. Thank you for not turning your back on me. I thank you for the hope that comes from believing in your promise of returning to earth to redeem the world. Until that time I will continue to praise your good works. I speak all of this in the precious name of Jesus,
Amen.

 

Visit here to enter the Project Prayer Giveaway.

Download all the Project Prayer extras here.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Finding Your Way with GPS

Are you a GPS user, or do you just figure out where you’re going on your own? In the 80’s when my siblings and I got our driver’s licenses, gasoline was pretty inexpensive. Living in a rural town, we would often go cruising for our entertainment. Just driving around with nowhere to go; just taking an adventure to see if you could find your way back. We always found our way home and had a blast exploring the countryside.

One of the funniest trips was years later though. My sister and I loved cable TV decorating shows and really enjoyed a local show called Decorating Cents. They had a segment called “Trash to Treasure,” where the host would go to a resale shop called Sticks and Stones in Minneapolis, MN.  My sister lived within in an hour of there, so one day we took a road trip to visit the store. At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, we thought, “Huh, how hard could it be to find?” Well…let me tell you.

She had one of the first-generation, dash-mounted GPS units so we thought it would be a piece of cake to find the store. If you ever tried to use one of these units, you know that they were not always the most accurate (to say the least). She followed its instructions to the T—turn left, turn right, continue forward; and before we know it, we found ourselves on a dead end street. Well, that was obviously the wrong path! So, we turned around and tried again.

Just about the time we’re thinking we might not find the place, we saw a library sign. We pulled over to hopefully look up resale shops in the yellow pages. I got out of the car and got the address—only to find out that we’d been close and didn’t even know it. We went just a bit further, and she said, “THAT’S IT!” She whipped into an off-street parking spot, I jumped out and went up to the door, only to see a sign that said, “CLOSED FOR THE MONTH OF JULY.” What?! NO WAY!!! You are kidding me! I got in the car, told my sister, and we cracked up! Only we would get into the car to go to a town of 350,000 people looking for a small resale shop having no idea where it was. We still laugh about it today.

Do you ever feel your life is like being on a road trip and you don’t know the destination or which way to go? God doesn’t give us a map with a big X showing us our full journey with road blocks, construction, and other obstacles clearly marked. How are we supposed to know what journey he wants us on? Does our path ever change? How do we get where he wants us?

May I suggest using GPS–God’s Provision Steering. Jesus has gone ahead of us and prepared all we need to arrive in the Glory of God. “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) I can only know what God wants for me, if I am in communication with Him. We communicate with God by prayer and reading His word. I verify my understandings of what God is showing me by seeking counsel from biblically-sound pastors, elders, and siblings in Christ.

Our paths and purpose do change from time to time. It is rare that our journeys are on a single, long straight road with no turns, hills, valleys, or obstacles. For each season of our lives, we may have a different route and purpose. Each of these routes have something in common with the others. That commonality is our specific gifts that God has given us.

Each of us have been blessed with a gift or an ability that shines God’s presence through it. For me, it’s a passion for people, a great sense of joy and laughter, and a discerning eye. As I go through each day making decisions and interacting with others, I try to concentrate on living life for God, using my gifts to shine His grace through me. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

There have been many times in my life when I have not stayed on the path God had set before me. There were times I stopped going to church, stopped studying God’s word, and stopped engaging with other believers. At those times, I found myself struggling as if I was fighting with someone all the time. Each time I wandered, God so gently guided me back. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11) I didn’t always realize it as it was happening; but once back in his arms, I knew it was where I needed to be. It becomes easier to stay on the righteous path as I mature in my relationship with Christ. The temptations to live in the world that are all around us each day bring speed bumps, potholes, construction zones, and detours in our lives and break down our efforts to live in Christ publicly.

Just as you need to make sure your car has what it needs for a road trip, you need to make sure you have what it takes to endure life’s journey. We need to have the daily fuel of God’s word, using his GPS to find the path he has laid down before us. We need regular maintenance checks to make sure we are running as we were designed to. And, we need to make sure we are ready to be used at all times.

As I pondered the subject of life’s journey, I studied God’s word and found comfort in these truths:

• “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11)
• “My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths.” (Proverbs 1:15)
• “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)
• “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and please to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
• “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)
• “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Where does your journey lead? Is it the path you are called to be on? Seek God, and you will find where you are to be. Set yourself on studying the Bible to see where God is leading you. If you need help in this, you can send us a message, seek counsel from elders or Pastors of your local church, talk with brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray. Let’s join together on a journey with God.

What are some verses you have found helpful as you try to follow God’s path for your life? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Where Does Your Journey End?

What is life’s journey? Do the events in our lives matter? Does life just end?

These questions came to me when more than one person I knew passed away in the first couple weeks of June. As I drove the 45 minutes to my brother’s home the day his dear wife passed away, I saw these questions as clear as day. I had to stop and capture the scene pictured here. I knew then that God wanted me to share my thoughts with you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Some think that this refers to focusing on our lives instead of where we are once we pass away. Others think it’s a bit smaller and say that each event in your life doesn’t matter nor does where you end up. They believe it’s the fun you have while meandering through life, living in response to events instead of living purposefully to obtain an end goal. I’ve lived both. Prior to being a Christian, I was in it for me. Now I live my life for Christ. It changed my perspective on why we are on this earth and where we go when we die.

“May we live here like strangers and make the world not a house, but an inn, in which we sup and lodge, expecting to be on our journey tomorrow.”
–Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon said, “May we live here like strangers and make the world not a house, but an inn, in which we sup and lodge, expecting to be on our journey tomorrow.” Using Hebrews 13:14 as my basis, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come,” I think that Spurgeon is NOT telling us to be strangers among ourselves but telling us to not make this world our home.

If this world is not our permanent home then there must be another that is. God has created a place for each of us to spend eternity. A glorious home at his right side. But entry into this home is not granted just because you pass away. There are requirements that grant you entry:

  • The first of which is humbly realizing that God is the Creator of all.
  • Believing that he sent his son to be a sacrifice for our iniquities, leading the way for our own redemption and entry into an eternal life with Christ. But you have to do more than just believe.
  • The key to life with Christ is to ask our Father to cleanse you of your sins, replace it with his love, and be the LORD of all in your life. Once you have done this, you have access to the Holy Spirit who guides you on the path that God has made for you. You now are able to see your iniquities, ask for forgiveness, turn from those ways and live a purposeful life glorifying God through it all.

These scriptures tell us that there is life after death and life on earth has a purpose, a goal:

  • John 14:1-4: “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.'” 
  • Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
  • Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Have you secured your relationship with Jesus?

Our life here on earth is like dew on a lawn, lasting such a short time, then gone with the morning dawn. You can plan for your eternity now. Have you secured your relationship with Jesus? If not, I hope these passages have encouraged you to invite him into your life. God has created a place for you in heaven. Jesus is waiting there for you. If you need more help to connect with God, send us a message or reach out to your local church.

#journey #story #life #road
#lifesjourneywithjesus

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™