Tag Archives: Shari Hardway Johnson

Let Them Have It

Do you ever have those days when it feels like your entire self-worth was wasted effort? I get so excited about projects and life and then in a swift swoop, on a day when it feels that I can do nothing right, I find  myself falling into this pit of despair (I know dramatic right?), but it feels very, very real and it’s very heavy on my shoulders. And the end result is usually a total mind melt down, followed by God prying my mouth open like a rebellious sick child and giving me a dose of the word. And then, glory! Miraculous healing.

That’s this morning.

Quite often the prescribed dose for days like this is from the book of Psalms. I love the word of God from Genesis to Revelation, but the books of Psalms has a special place in my heart, because it’s so often my go to place for days like this.

Like today. When Psalm 138 was spoon fed to me by the Lord in just the right measurement…

They Can Have their god

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

What gods you may be asking? There is none but Jesus Christ our Lord, right? Right! But the world didn’t seem to get that memo. People themselves think that they are sometimes gods and deserve our undivided attention, even over the things of God.

Tears just flowed from my soul and out of my eyes because I’ve been there too often lately. Too many things, some of mine, some of others that have taken my mind off the Lord’s work. I haven’t been singing His praises like I should.

They Can Have Their king

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

In that final day of earth, no man will bow before another man. We will all bow before our King. The One with a capital “K”. The One who resides in the Holy Temple of Heaven, who is kind, and honest and does not speak to me in a the condescending tones of the earth that I despise and it breaks my heart and spirit. Especially when it’s done by another Christian.

That was my day yesterday. Don’t feel too sorry for me. I’m fine. But it’s those days that we all have that the world takes it’s toll. And our focus gets off Heaven and I forget where my headquarters is. And they forget Who’s Boss.

They Can Have Their work

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Glorrrraaaaaay! Those words stirred me this morning. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve said it myself that I serve the God who sits high and looks low. And there it is in the word of God! Psalm 138:6

Though I walk in trouble, and there is plenty of it in my world; it is God who will revive my soul. God will not only take care of my enemies, He will give me the energy to thrive in my purpose.

Verse 8 really spoke to me in a way that I needed so badly today.

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

God will “perfect” (finish) that which concerns me.

There is a work He has called me to do and He’s going to get it finished through me. That is such good news! I’m pretty sure I’m into overtime with Him but it’s okay, it’s in His time, not mine.

He has a work in you as well! And He’s going to get it done. But we need to stay focused on the One True and Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the world have their gods, show them how awesome ours is! Let me have their kings, they only “think” they have power. Let them have their work, show them what great and mighty things we can accomplish through Him. I hope your day is blessed with great eternal accomplishments. ~ Shari

Finding Peace in the Trouble of Today

I really don’t understand the concept of preachers who preach that a child of God will not experience trouble, or can “speak” issues away. If that’s so, then I have some serious issues. Well, let’s face it, I’ve got issues. But my issues are issues with me, not God.

I have no power on my own, but I have a mighty God Who has the ability to remove or let me travel through any of the issues in my life. And I believe that His decision is for my good. Of that I am a firm believer, even if I sometimes don’t particularly like it. But if I could share an encouraging word with you today it would be the truth of Isaiah 26:3 ~

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

My bible journaling efforts this morning was drawn from a conversation that I had with my buddy Dewey Moede. And of a show I watched last night on Netflix. Dewey spoke of his concerns of the day, and the many battles from many directions we face as a Nation, and most importantly his reliance upon God. The Netflix show spoke of the future, and their reliance upon man. Two very different perspectives. It is unfortunate that there is likely followers of Netflix than Jesus.

Hollywood (or Hellywood) as a preacher friend of mine calls it has a tendency to jade life. As I watched that show last night the characters had the ability to come back in time and “fix” what was broken in people’s lives. But even they agreed that there were some things just beyond our control.

One of the main characters had the ability to know historical events. Including tragedies that had yet to happen in our time (his history, as he was from the future.) Those events burdened his heart, as they would us, which is why God doesn’t let us know the future. We couldn’t handle it. At least I couldn’t.

The trouble of day is enough.

Matthew 6:34 reminds us Take therefore no though for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

So what about today’s troubles. How do we handle those?

Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Perfect peace? How’s that working for you? Not so well for me every day.  But even if there are days when I have “issues” there are no issues with my Lord.

The reason I don’t have perfect peace is because I watch Netflix rather than reading the Word of God. True Story! If I “stay in the word, I have peace. If I watch Netlix or spend too much time on Social Media I allow the cares of the world to govern my thoughts.

Mark 4:19 says it best when it says And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

That’s exactly what happens!

Those things that garner our attention be it on the television, movie screen, books or computer are often lusts that choke the word of God out of our thought processes and prevent us from experiencing the true and perfect peace that God intends for His people. He didn’t’ say you wouldn’t have trouble, but He did say we could have peace in the midst.

Funny things about the heart attack and pending surgery between May 20th and May 25th. Netflix didn’t enter my mind. I wasn’t worried about not having the nicest house or being the best at anything. I wanted to survive the day. And oddly enough I had the ultimate peace. Peace that I now, 7 months later, don’t experience because I don’t have my mind “stayed.”

Remember what I said about encouraging you? Well… turns out I need encouraging too. And this little miniature study of the word of God reminds us all that peace is found in one place. The Word of God. Not in the chaos around us, not in other people, or a cup of coffee and a piece of cake with 7 minute frosting. We need to “stay” our minds and trust in the only trustworthy thing in the universe. God.

Mary knew, Do you?

Luke 1:47

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Three points for me to ponder from the word of God as spoken by Mary the mother of our Lord Jesus.

This thought began early this morning but has lingered throughout the day as I worked between one project or another all day, and couldn’t seem to get back to what was fresh on my mind at 6 a.m.

I love the character of Mary because I love her humility. Nobody was any more surprised than she was that she was chosen for such a God glorifying moment. She was carrying the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe in her womb. Forget that the world was trying to strip her of her good reputation, they could not strip her of the fact that God chosen her. Nor can they strip us. We who have decided to follow Jesus and step into His plans for us like a toddler steps into the big shoes of their Dad. They don’t fit… yet. But we’ll grow into to them by and by!

Mary knew that the Rescuer Had Come!

She may not have understood all the plan as she gave birth in that stable, but she understood that however it was that God decided to work it out, it would work. It’s a good thing she didn’t know how. What a burden for a mom to carry to know that her child would be crucified for the sins of the world. Hers included. But the Rescuer had come, His name was Jesus and He had come to save the world!

Mary knew the Rejoicing had Cause!

The angels in Heaven rejoiced, the shepherds and wise men rejoiced. And Mary rejoiced. Angels had announced His birth. They filled the skies with noise, and the hearts of those who witnessed it with wonder. Is not that the feeling we have on the day of our own personal salvation when we discover what the Lord has done. It was with me. I knew there was a reason to rejoice in my life. Salvation had come and I and my world was changed.

Life for me wasn’t perfect, nor was it for Mary. She no doubt had moments where terror filled her heart as she was hunted down for her Son. Or maybe she was a far better woman of faith than me and she trusted God through it all. But whether or not she had faith 100% of the time didn’t change the heartaches that would come in her future. But it didn’t change the promise either. Glory to God!

Mary knew the Response had a Calling!

Mary knew when she had stepped into that role that God had given her that her life had new purpose. She wasn’t just Joseph’s bride, she was the carrier of the gospel. She would soon be a part of the ministry of her Son and with it all the miracles and the messes it created.

That’s the same calling we have upon us when we accept the Lord as our Savior. We too are called to carry the gospel and to be a part of the blesses and messes that come with service.

What’s your response? Are you standing in Daddy’s shoes waiting for your orders or are you still barefoot? Step in faith my friend! It’s an exciting adventure!

Blessings from me, the Jesus Chick.

Please like and share my site www.theJesusChick.com

God’s Protocol For Worship

Psalm 100

Below is my study of Psalm 100 that I’ll be using for the teen class tonight. Perhaps it will stir some thoughts in you to draw you into that spirit of worship our souls long for! It certainly did mine as I studied His word.

ENJOY!!!!

Protocol defined: the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.

Who set the protocol for worship? The word of God.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Protocol 1 is

Make Noise!

There are many types of noises in the world, what do you consider a bad noise? (painful, loud, extreme, unnecessary)

Who do you think uses these noises and why? Satan of course!

What are some good noises?

Psalm 100:1 says to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. What do you consider a joyful noise to sound like?

Who should be shouting?

John Gill’s commentary said:

all the inhabitants of the earth, who are called upon to shout unto him as their King; as the angels did at his birth, the disciples when he made his public entrance into Jerusalem, the apostles at his ascension to heaven, the saints when the marriage of him, the Lamb, will be come, and both men and angels when he shall descend from heaven to judge the world; and such a joyful noise or shout should be made unto him as to a triumphant conqueror, who has got the victory over sin, Satan, death, and the grave, and every enemy of his and his people, and made them more than conquerors through himself;

That reading should stir your heart when you think about the reasons we should make noise!

The 2nd Protocol in Psalm 100 for Worshipping the Lord is to

Serve Him

And to not just serve Him but to be happy about it.

Since serving God is a protocol, how do you want to serve Him?


Protocol Number 3 is to

Come before His presence

I think that speaks to our attendance as well as the recognition that while in attendance to church we expect God to be there and we treat the service accordingly.

How should we come into His presence?

Protocol Number 4 is

With singing

Everyone? Yes! Everyone on the platform? No!!!!!!

But there is not only safety in numbers there is also a blending of voices that covers a multitude of bad notes. Why do you think music is important to God?

How important is it to you?

Do you feel called into the music ministry?

Do you understand what a calling is?

Protocol number 5 is to

Know

Know what? Know that the Lord is God! That’s a must to understand the calling on your life. You have to frist be saved, and then get to know the Lord so that when He speaks, you understand it is Him.

Have you ever felt the Lord speaking to you?

How would you describe it?

Do you think people misunderstand the Lord’s calling on their life? Why?

Protocol Number 6

Enter with Thanksgiving

What are some reasons that we have to be thankful as we come into the building and worship service?

The final Protocol in Psalm 100 is number 7, we should

Bless His Name

We always ask the Lord to bless us, but do we ever think about blessing Him?

What are ways we can bless Him?

The final verse of Psalm 100 gives us 3 reasons we should worship the Lord and have an attitude of worship.

Because He is good

(even when the world around us isn’t)

Because He is merciful

(every day we stand in need of it)

Because He is truth

(The world may be filled with lies, but the word of God is filled with nothing but truth.)

A Study with Shari Johnson (The Jesus Chick)

www. the Jesus Chick.com (Please share my ministry page!)

A New Thing!

What better way to start off 2019 than thinking about new things on the horizon! I loved the illustration of a new year that my friend D.L. Kerby always used of “a fresh, new piece of paper.” Nothing there but room for ideas, and of course for me improvement!

Isaiah 43:19 is a great verse to ponder today…

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Behold!

An announcement of worthy attention!

I think of new stuff every day. But much of it is not worthy of anyone’s attention. But when God announces that something new is on the horizon. Glory! It’s worthy of our notice. There is nothing stale or boring in God’s world and according to His word it is He who does the “new thing.” But how do we know it’s for us? Have you prayed for something new? That would be a great place to start. And if you’re praying for God to do something new in your life what is the purpose of it and what role does He play?

Too many people want God to do something new and amazing but then they’d rather He butt out and allow them to take over. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.

Jeremiah 31:22 speaks of Israel when he writes “How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The LORD will create a new thing on earth – the woman will return to the man.”

That new thing was the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be no more new things to that magnitude, but there is certainly new opportunities to serve Him there for the asking. As a child of God we should be prepared to focus our minds on ways to glorify and serve our Lord in the coming year. God may provide new opportunities in the secular realm, but that shouldn’t be our focus and should still include God as center focus.

Be Watching!

Now it shall spring forth! As a budding branch springs forth out of the ground.

I start longing for spring about January 2nd. I’m done with the cold, dead looking trees and frigid temperatures of winter. I need to see some life in the hills of West Virginia. But it’s not in my time, it’s in the Lord’s and the same is true when it comes to the new things that God has planned for us. His timing is imperative. But if I’m not watching for it, I might miss it.

We need to stand with a watchful eye on the world around us for ways that we can serve and glorify God.

Last night I sat beside a man that I really wasn’t certain of his soul’s state until the subject of church came up. He let me know immediately that he didn’t want any part of the church and that he was a “believing agnostic.”  I told him I hated to hear that because I really cared for him. He seemed shocked that I thought he was going to Hell. I spoke to him in love for as long as he would tolerate me, and in a moment of awkwardness where the subject had gotten too deep, he left my side for a worldlier lot. And I went home. I felt I’d done as much work as I could there. The man didn’t get saved but I had been watching for an opportunity and God opened the door, for that I’m grateful.

Be Ready!

For anything. God’s ways are not our ways. We don’t expect ways in the wilderness and rivers in the dessert. If we’re preparing for such an excursion we’re packing weed whackers and bottled water. But God said no… I’ve already got the path cut and the water supplied! You just need to be ready.

Oh my goodness those words make my soul stir. I’m not really a prepared person. I jump and go. Which gets me in trouble… a lot. But God said if I’d be ready for His way, I’ll be okay. But before I jump and go, I need to wait for some instructions. And so do you!

Isaiah 43:19 may or may not be your verse for 2019. But the wisdom that can be gleaned from it is for everyone.

God does have a new work for us and we for certain should be watching and be ready for His announcement.

What’s He laid on your heart to do in 2019? I’d love nothing more than for you to share that with me so that I can make it a matter of prayer. Blessings!!!!!

We’re Going to Have to Get Better

C.S. Lewis said “He (God) loved us not because we’re lovable, but because He is Love.”

Love has been a matter of my heart for a while. Mainly because I see the declining of it across our nation. Of course in the political arena, and even though it’s worse than ever, it’s still something we’ve come to expect with the nature of differing opinions. But when it comes to Christians, there should not be differing opinions. We can have separate church doctrines, but in the matter of Jesus, one way and one way only, and His love, it’s not up for debate. And yet, the evidence is lacking that the church fully believes the word of God.

Salvation’s Security

I will not argue why I believe in eternal security. I know what I believe and why I believe I, and if you believe otherwise, I probably won’t sway your mind. But when it comes to salvation, there is no argument. You either are, or are not saved. The scripture is clear:

1 John 4:15-21

15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

Romans 10:9-10 says  ~ That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

You either believe that, or you’re not saved. So now that we have that matter cleared up, let’s assume that you have the security of salvation. You now have the Holy Spirit, God Himself, dwelling within you.  And as we continue on in 1 John 4 there’s an evidentiary fact that should be viewed in every Christian’s life. Love.

Salvations Sincerity

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

It’s not hard for us to conceive that God would love us. I mean really, what’s not to love right? But what about others. The enemy and the downright wicked. Does He love them too? Oh yes, enough to die for them just as He died for us, and though we hate to confess it, we know that our sins were by comparison the same level of unworthiness. But Christ took the sins of all upon His back on that cross of Calvary. We conceive this knowledge, but do we convey it?

Salvation’s Sheriff

The Holy Spirit. It’s the very first gift we receive when we become saved. What a joy! But it’s a new day and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is evident. We know when something’s not right in our life. And the only way to get right, to be made perfect is to repent and accept that what Christ did on the cross is enough for me, and everyone else in the world.

Even those I have a hard time tolerating.

What should never be evident in my life as child of God is found in the closing verse of Chapter 4.

17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

There is no fear, nor hate in the child of God.

Fear is faithless

I’ve seen too many churches who rather than teaching the love of God, teach the fear of God first.

Romans 2:4 says OR despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the good of God leadeth thee to repentance?

It does not say that the fear of God will cause a man to repent. But rather the goodness of God. Perhaps we could say the “love of God” causes a man to repent.

Prior to my salvation I had enough conviction on my life to choke a horse. I felt the disconnection from God. And I believe if everyone’s honest, we’ve all felt it before we’re saved. We know we belong to Him, it’s rebellion that causes us to deny it. But when we experience His love as shown through the church, and a sense of belonging that can be found there, that’s when I felt the Holy Spirit move in my life in such a way that I said, “I need to be saved!” The preacher preached Hell, but the church showed love.

The word “hate” makes my stomach turn. Especially when I hear it used in the context of “I hate so and so.” And sometimes by Christian people. This ought not be. We need to remember that the person we’re hating needs to see Jesus. And there is no way under the sun they’ll ever see Him if we’re spewing words like that out of our mouth. There is also no way they’ll see Him if we using words that we know will cause hate in the heart of another person.

Christians should always take a stand for what’s right in the eyes of God. But in taking that stand we should do it in love and through the prayerful guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I know I’ve been guilty of not doing that.

If we’re going to make a dent in the lost of this world, we’re going to have to get better at loving people.

Kiss the Cook

Proverbs 17:27-28

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

I’m not the best cook in the world, and when it comes to my cooking my husband’s not too critical because usually he’s just happy to be fed! And when all of the food disappears from the pot, I don’t need a “That was awesome” comment because the lack of needing to rinse before putting it in the dishwasher speaks for itself. If only life could always have words and ways of encouragement. But that’s not the case is it?

If only it were the unsaved that had a critical spirit we could understand it. But often times it’s the exact opposite. The unsaved can be more encouraging than the saved.

Another random thought I’ve had is “why are their silent letters in words? What purpose do they serve?” And “does someone, somewhere, pronounce them?” It was then I realized that they served as much purpose as a critical spirit.

Spared Words

Why it is that some people are compelled to share the entirety of their opinions as if the world would fall off its axis if they did not, I do not know. I’ve been in their presence when they did; and before the words came out of their mouth my stomach would turn somersaults as if I had just eaten rotten food. There is not a fine line between criticism and constructive criticism. There is a canyon’s width.

Constructive criticism harbors no ill intent. A critical comment has several intents. It’s meant to prove that they’re wiser than the person being criticized. It’s meant to make the criticizer feel important. And it’s said without regard for the feelings of anyone concerned except the person offering their opinion. I’ve experienced it and I’ve probably been the one who had the critical spirit. But that would be rare. Not that I’m without faults, that just happens not to be one of mine because I’ve been the victim far too many times. It’s what happens when you do a lot. It offers more opportunity. It’s probably why many people do nothing.

Spirited Words

What is an excellent spirit? They are God’s gift to a troubled world. They’re people who speak wisdom and words that encourage and applaud someone who’s at least trying.

I have to be honest and tell you that there is a critical spirit within me that I have to squelch on a pretty regular basis. Whomever coined the phrase that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” may have been speaking about humanity or perhaps they were an art critic.

Last night I was watching a home improvement show and this “artist” with obviously more money than I, (perhaps I was jealous) was redoing their art studio. For which is my kitchen table. Anyway… they were an abstract artist, and not what I would have considered a good one. But they have a studio, and I have a table, so what do I know?

Another artist that I had recently seen on Etsy was selling art for huge prices that looked literally like some of the work my grandbabies do that I consider more valuable. They had thousands of followers and I’m like “are you serious?” I’m so glad that I don’t know that person personally. Yes, I too have a critical spirit. But I don’t feel compelled to post my feelings online or tell someone that they’re less than good.

Because if it’s not something that you’re paying money for, life really is subjective.

Spirit Led Words

What each of us should be is more Spirit led. Before opening our mouths we should ask ourselves “How would Jesus respond?”

Not critical. He has never one time criticized anything I’ve done for Him. But I have. Even the words that I speak over my own efforts should be examined for their intent. When I got finished with my video blog on Facebook yesterday I immediately tore into myself for a job poorly done. It’s why I refuse to watch them after I’ve posted them. I post them in faith believing God can use someone like me.

It’s also why I don’t have a critical spirit toward other people, because I understand how it tears you down and discourages you from your efforts.

I’m not sure why this thought was on my heart today, other than I needed to hear the last point myself. I hope it encourages you for the good!

God Bless!

Shari

www.theJesusChick.com

The Christmas Dance

Luke 2:20

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

When I think about the characters of Christmas, it is the shepherds that I feel most relative to. And although I’ve never been in the presence of an angel, I’ve certainly been in the presence of the Holy Spirit. What an amazing feeling. It makes me think of David when they were returning with the ark in 2 Samuel 6:14. It had been a long time since the ark, representative of the presence of Almighty God, was in their presence. There’s a reason to rejoice! There’s a reason to dance!

Sometimes, it’s a long period of time between dancing for me too. It’s why I can relate to the shepherds.

The Lowest of the Low

That’s how I feel much of the time. But the shepherds in the eyes of the general public and careers of that day, truly were the lowest of the low. Bible scholars (for which I am not) have said that shepherds were societal outcasts, a despised people. Said to be dishonest and unclean, those for whom Jesus came.

So, the shepherds becoming one of the “characters of Christmas” truly was amazing; for them and everyone else. Why would God send His heavenly messengers to people so far off of the “A” list of society? The same reason the Kings received the word as well. Because everyone needs Jesus from the lowest to the highest and in between. And in the eyes of God the souls of the shepherds were every bit as equal of importance as the Kings who came bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh.

So why do I relate more with the shepherds than kings? Economically for certain, but more so for the feeling of unworthiness. I know what a sinner I am. I know how often I fail the Lord, and while I won’t confess my faults to you, the Lord knows them. And I’m sure the shepherds felt the same way. Why would God choose to come into their presence and bestow upon them such a high honor? Why would He choose me?

As I drew the little shepherd boy dancing with his lamb, I could feel the Spirit rise up in my soul. I know the “outcast” mentality all too well. It’s not warranted, but it’s very real. God has gifted me with so many encouragers because if it were not for them, I’d be so far out in the field even the angels couldn’t find me. I don’t need people to puff me up in arrogance, some days I just need them to lift me out of the muck and mire I’ve sunk into because of depression and anxiety.

The Highest of the High

Not the Kings of earth, but the King of Heaven only reserves that title.

This Christmas I want to dance with the shepherds in high praise and honor that God chooses to be in my presence. Isn’t that amazing? That the Creator of all the universe wanted to hang out and have coffee and frosted mini wheats for breakfast. He could, and likely does dine with Kings in the richest of palaces. But He’s just as much here at my cedar kitchen table in the midst of the hills of West Virginia. Glory to God in the highest!

Be Thou my Vision

Bible Journaling Art by The Jesus Chick

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

One of the very familiar verses often quoted from the Bible, and quite often completely out of context. I have no doubt been guilty of the same. But this morning this verse caught my attention and gave me the desire to dig a little deeper into its meaning for my own personal application.

I consider myself quite the visionary when it comes to life. I love new and exciting adventures and I’m open to the Lord’s leading down unfamiliar paths without hesitation. The problem with me is that quite often it’s a Shari vision, not a God vision. So those paths have many times lead to disaster!

The Word of God is a book like no other in the world. It’s the living, breathing, Word of God that can speak life into its reader. Another book may excite you, and inspire you, but it can’t speak life. It’s also why we shouldn’t read the Bible in a haphazard manner as to take scripture out of context or apply our own definition to it.

When Proverbs 29:18 is quoted, the word “vision” is often thought of as a prophetic vision that renders itself to personal direction. But in this context vision is “an inspired revelation of wisdom from God.” Which may be personal direction, but in its full context, which people tend to ignore, it is followed by “keeping the law.” So… when you take someone like me who is apt to be a free spirit, the law has a connotation of control. And that doesn’t fit well with my application of the freedom of vision.

I’m somewhat telling on my rebellious heart. But it’s good to be real, because it will help you and me both. Nothing is worth doing unless it is the will of God. And the will of God will never be outside the Word of God. So if we want the reality of it, we can’t just say we have a vision without searching the Word of God for the truth of His will. Woah… that’s a pretty deep thought for me.

2019 is on the horizon, and I have big plans, as always. But are they God’s? Good question.

Three points for me to ponder, and perhaps you as well, from Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

No Instruction leads to Destruction

Proverbs 1:5

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

I received a call from my good friend Dewey last week, who asked if I minded some counsel. The Lord knew I was in need of it, and He even sent the messenger, so who am I to say no. And so I listened. But I’m not always that wise. Some of my greatest failures in life have been not seeking or heeding the counsel of others. It’s not that I feel I know best. It’s usually that I just don’t know and I’m too excited to slow down.

But not today. Today I’ve taken it slower and asked God for some insight into the vision He has given me for 2019. The year of our Lord 2018 has been quite difficult. For more than the obvious health reasons. I had an appointment with my cardiologist today and was discussing the frequent, steady chest pains that cause me concern. After listening to me, and running the appropriate tests, it was discovered that I’m under too much stress. Shocker! 2018 has been filled with stress, and I need a reprieve in the coming year. That will require some changes in the vision of The Jesus Chick Ministries.

First… I need to treat it like a ministry. Not a hobby.

Godly Instruction leads to Construction

Council can often be constructive criticism, and that’s okay with me too. So long as it leads to construction and things get built rather than being torn down. The problem with my ministry is I’ve been building it alone, and as God told Adam, it’s not good for man to be alone, or woman as the case may be. I’ve partnered with many others in their ministry work, but I’ve soloed my own, missing the counsel of Christ where He told the disciples to go two by two.

So I need to build my ministry so that it’s more productive. I need to expand my ministry reach, and believe God that my ministry work will be rewarded with financial provision; which has been most of the stress of 2018. I need focus. I need counsel. It’s why I appreciate ministry friends like Dewey who love me and feel comfortable to follow the leading of the Lord to say things like, “slow down.” Or encourage me to seek a 501c3 which would make the Jesus Chick a bonified ministry for contributors and provide me with counsel through a board of directors.

Vision is God’s Provision for the Journey

And so I search His word for direction.

Proverbs 12:28

In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

There is but one job one pathway for me, and the way of righteousness is through Jesus Christ alone who will be my vision. There is a song written by Ian Lynn entitled “Be Thou My Vision.” It’s words stir my soul today.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

And so that’s my prayer today. “Be Thou my Vison Lord.” I seek not riches or man’s praise, I seek a pathway that will allow me to share Christ through the talents that God has given me.

I covet your prayers and would love the privilege of praying for you.

The God Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know

For certain Satan doesn’t want you to know God because he’d prefer you stay in his custody. But once a soul has given their heart to Christ, Satan has to change his game plan to interfere with the Kingdom and the Kingdom’s work. There is nothing he can do to remove the seal of Salvation that God puts on His children.

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Glory! But he can certainly do a lot of damage to the spiritual walk of God’s children by binding them with lies. Or at least that’s the case with me. So today I search the truth and invite you along…

Micah 7:18-20

18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

We’re not to fool ourselves and believe that God is not a Holy and just God Who doesn’t get angry. Oh… I believe He gets angry and I believe He gets frustrated with me on a pretty regular basis. But the trouble with my thinking is, I get stuck there. There in that place of God’s frustration, long after He has moved on and sometimes may never have been, I’m still there. He moved on the second I repented, but I choose to stay in that place of bondage and allow Satan to convince me that God’s frustration lingers on. And I have a feeling I’m not alone.

It’s much easier in our less than merciful flesh to view God as a less than merciful God. If every day we would remember three words that God has attested to, through His Son Jesus Christ.

Forgiven

Micah 7:18 – God delights in mercy! The other day I watched as an adult was less than merciful with a child. The children happened not to be hers. Not that that is always the case, I know parents who are less than forgiving. But on this occasion the child had misbehaved and she separated herself from him as if to say “you are not worthy of my presence.” My heart broke. Praise God our Savior doesn’t treat us in that manner. He longs for the relationship to be restored as soon as it’s broken. But we delay, buying into Satan’s lies that God is forever upset. No… God is forever merciful.

Forgotten

Micah 7:19 – How deep is the sea? I personally don’t know, but I know it’s deep! And how far is the east from the west? Really far! You can’t get there from here. And that is the geographical location of our sins. Yet Satan wants us to believe that God has them attached to His refrigerator, so that every time He goes there, He is reminded of my sin.

That’s how our minds work. Not God’s. I have to work really hard not to rehash old hurts. Because they are not in the sea. They’re in the recesses of my mind waiting for a day that I can call them to mind and be frustrated and hurt again. And have to forgive… again. If I don’t bring them up, Satan will. And so when I’m in need of God forgetting something I’ve done or someway I’ve failed, I am reminded of how someone hurt or failed me, and I attach that theory of thinking to God too. What a lie!

God is not man!

Isaiah 55:8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Forever

Micah 7:20 – God’s plan nor word has ever changed, but man’s sure has. The recent election was proof of that. The political rhetoric coming from all sides made it impossible to know who was telling the truth. And even if someone had a video as evidence, we still couldn’t trust that it hadn’t been manipulated in some way and voting was a very serious game of chance. And such is life sometimes. Marriages fail, friends forsake us and parents and children break our heart. So when we hear the word “forever” in the biblical sense, it’s sometimes hard to grasp.

I can’t help but think of Satan’s words to Eve… “ye shall not surely die.” So we have on one hand the thought that forever will never come, and on the other hand, that forever is subjective to the situation.  And both make it hard to fathom eternity.

But God’s word will stand true and Satan will forever by a liar! He would much prefer that we didn’t   know the truth and one way he can help that happen is to sabotage our relationship with the Lord. It’s not hard when fewer and fewer people keeping their relationship with the Lord first in priority. The more we put between us and God the easier it is for Satan to convince us that God is not desiring a relationship with us. And when we fail, we can’t feel God’s mercy because there’s too much distance. But guess who didn’t move?

God’s exactly where He’s always been. In eternity past, present and future. Loving us as much today as yesterday and wishing we’d just talk to Him, and skip Satan the middle man… he’s a liar anyway.