Psalms 100:4 - Thanksgiving 2021 (Bible Journal)
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name (Psalms 100:4 NLT)."
On this Thanksgiving day, I would like to thank God for everything He has blessed me with, including but not limited to my family (especially my wife and kids), the career I have been called to at this time (teaching) and the career I've been called to work towards (voice acting), the acting opportunities I have been blessed with so far, the people that have helped me in both careers, the friends that have my family and my backs, the hobbies that entertain, help with stress, and inspire, and the opportunities to write, including this platform. Thank You God for all of these things, and for Your rescue plan from sin's punishment with the death and resurrection of Your Son Jesus. Thank you God for anyone that is reading this - please bless them and theirs on this Thanksgiving day and every day after. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Daniel 5:22 & Daniel 6:7 - Redeemed By The One Above All (Bible Journal)
“You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself (Daniel 5:22 NLT)."
"We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions (Daniel 6:7 NLT)."
It is interesting how Belshazzar and Darius both failed to learn from King Nebuchadnezzar's failure to acknowledge "that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them (Daniel 5:21 NLT)." Belshazzar lost his life from his mistake, while Darius' failure put Daniel in danger instead. Despite his poor choices, I have a feeling that Darius putting his faith in God to save Daniel from the lions was what not only saved Daniel, but also brought about Darius' own redemption, keeping him on the throne. Lord, thank You for redeeming me from my failures in present times, thanks to the death and resurrection of Your Son. Please help me to always remember that You are above all, and my blessings and successes all come from You. Thank You for all that You do for me every day. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Daniel 4:37 - Thanks and Praise Where It’s Due (Bible Journal)
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud (Daniel 4:37 NLT)."
King Nebuchadnezzar is a tough sell for me, especially after reading his unfair requests and cruel punishments from the first few chapters of Daniel. Yet, just like him, I too have fallen into the trap of pride and giving myself credit over God, who makes anything and everything possible to begin with. The teacher I worked with yesterday in my church's kid service taught the class that "the one you can thank for everything is God," and it is amazing how easy it is to forget this. We may or may not have to learn the hard way like Nebuchadnezzar did, but the king ultimately gave God the glory, and God thankfully gives us the chance to do the same, even when we stray. Thank You Lord for teaching me through a wide variety of personalities, including King Nebuchadnezzar. Thank You for EVERYTHING, and thank You for Your continued patience with me. I will keep working on remembering that You are the one that continues to bless my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
This story is inspired by Daniel 3:17-18
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18 NLT).”
King Nelkon stood before the one warrior in his army that refused to follow his demands. Once a benevolent king of the small country Grashorn, Nelkon began calling for his army to attack the neighboring countries around them. The neighboring countries had thrived by living in peace and sharing the resources of their lands, but something had changed in Nelkon. Now he wanted everything for himself. His army reluctantly agreed to their ruler’s demands, but a young woman that went by the name Ikari refused.
“You will join us, or my army will crush you!” King Nelkon demanded. “Your faith will do nothing to save you, only I can make that call!”
“My faith remains in God, and His Son that rescued me from my sins through his death and resurrection.” Ikari said firmly. “God can rescue me Himself if He chooses, or He can send someone He has chosen to work through. I believe in His timing. And even if He decides not to help me, I won’t go through with this plan of yours.”
“Then you must die, and it is a shame!” King Nelkon yelled, as his eyes glowed red and his mouth began baring fangs. “You are one of my finest warriors, but if you do not do all that I command, I have no place for you. My army of loyal followers, destroy her now!”
Ikari drew her sword, prepared to defend herself to the end if needed. To her surprise, no one in the king’s army attacked. In fact, they were all frozen in place, unable to move. Ikari sensed that she was not alone after all, and she looked to her right and left. On either side of her were two men who each held a glowing blue fist in the air.
“We heard reports from the neighboring countries that the king here has been acting out of character, and we have arrived to help.” One of the men said. “My name is Kalen, and the fellow here with me is Slyvan.”
“Hello Ikari.” Slyvan added. “I made a grave mistake and unleashed a curse around the world that is causing people to become monsters, a mistake I am seeking to correct. Your king may be one such person, and I will free him from this dark magic that I unleashed.”
“Thank you Kalen and Slyvan, I believe You may have been sent by my Father in Heaven. I accept and appreciate your help.”
“Keep holding back the army Kalen, and I will take care of the king!” Slyvan yelled, rushing past the soldiers. He put his still glowing hand on the king’s shoulder, causing the king’s fangs to revert back to normal teeth, and his eyes to change from red back to their normal color.
“My army, please stand down, I have made a horrible mistake!” King Nelkon cried out. “I confess that the temptation to overthrow our neighbors crossed my mind, and all of a sudden I couldn’t stop myself from following through with those evil thoughts. Please forgive me everyone, I am so very sorry!”
“I am the one that needs to apologize, you fell under a spell that I casted.” Slyvan lamented. “I am traveling the world to fix my mistake, a mistake that unfortunately impacted you. I thought the curse would only go after those that acted in evil ways, I did not know that it would affect those struggling with temptations. Cleaning my mess up will be harder than I thought.”
“You may have caused trouble, but so did I for even considering what I was about to do.” King Nelkon replied sympathetically. “However, in your efforts to change your ways you have saved me, and I think that the God Ikari follows sent you to do exactly that. Keep on changing the world and yourself through your new direction, and as a token of my appreciation for keeping my country and our neighbors from shedding blood, I would like to offer the service of any volunteers from my army that would like to join you. If any of you would like to travel with these gentlemen, you have my blessing.”
“I will join them if they will allow me.” Ikari said with a smile. “I believe they are doing God’s work, and I would like to be a part of it.”
“Thank you Ikari, your bravery and conviction would be a great asset to our cause.” Kalen said happily. “Do you agree Slyvan?”
“I do, and I thank you too Ikari.” Slyvan said gratefully. “To undo my curse, your assistance will be most beneficial!”
*Kalen, Slyvan, and Ikari’s adventures will continue*
Daniel 2:6 & 2:30 - Humble When Helped (Bible Journal)
"But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means (Daniel 2:6 NLT)!"
"And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart (Daniel 2:30 NLT)."
King Nebuchadnezzar wanted his dream analyzed and interpreted, without even telling anyone what the dream was. He ordered death to the wise men of Babylon for not being able to fulfill a request that is simply unfair. Daniel and his friends prayed to God for help, and God gave Daniel the information that was needed to facilitate the king's demands. I loved how Daniel could have put himself on a pedestal over having information that no one else could figure out, but instead gave the credit to God once the ball was in his court. Thank You Lord for helping me when I have been faced with seemingly impossible demands. Please help me to always be humble and send the credit Your way anytime success comes to me. Please let my life glorify You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Psalms 86:1 - A New Monday Approach (Bible Journal)
"Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help (Psalms 86:1 NLT)."
The dread for Monday has already kicked in, but I am going to try and approach the new week differently. Instead of complaining and looking at stress in a negative way, I am going to try and catch myself in the act and do what I heard in the message at my church this past Sunday, and say "Yay, God is going to do heart work on me, I'm going to be free of bitterness!" Also in the message at church, I will remember that this is not something I will be able to do on my own, but I can work on it with God's help by "relying on the Holy Spirit's strength and effort" to "tame my tongue." Lord, I have no doubt that the challenges I struggled with last week will continue. I also have no doubt that I can not handle them on my own. Please do heart work on me and help me to have a better attitude that will help me to improve on dealing with stress rather than escalating it. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Psalms 83:3 - Life Giving Creativity (Bible Journal)
"They devise crafty schemes against your people; they conspire against your precious ones (Psalms 83:3 NLT)."
Crafty schemes and conspiring against others feels like a waste of talent. Our minds can be used for creativity instead, and put towards things that can benefit others if used appropriately, like writing, art, storytelling, building, and so many other ventures. While it is true that these creations can also be used to cause harm if done with that intention, they can be life giving and inspiring if done with the right heart motivation. Lord, creativity and art have enriched my life greatly, and have inspired the path I seek for the future. Please help me to create content that entertains, inspires, glorifies You, and makes the world a better place. Thank You for the gifts You have given others to create the same kind of content that has benefited me in the ways I want to benefit others with my art. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Acts 28:30-31 - Overcoming (Bible Journal)
"For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him (Acts of the Apostles 28:30-31 NLT)."
After all the obstacles Paul faces throughout the Book of Acts, he finally is able to work on his calling without opposition. I wrote about life being very challenging in my last journal, and at times opposition to what I truly want to do in my life feels overwhelming (becoming a voice actor that entertains and inspires). But trusting the path God is putting us on and doing our best to navigate it, obstacles and all, is what Paul did, putting us in good company. Lord, I don't enjoy struggling, but I trust that overcoming life's challenges will help me grow into the person You want me to be, and will help me in the future as a voice actor should I make it. Regardless of where You place me, please help me to do work that inspires, entertains, helps, and points others to You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Acts 27:33 - Care For Self and Others (Bible Journal)
"Just as day was dawning, Paul urged everyone to eat. 'You have been so worried that you haven’t touched food for two weeks (Acts of the Apostles 27:33 NLT).'"
I'm sure many will agree with me on this - life is really hard right now. A pandemic that seems to divide more each day, short staffing affecting workplaces all over, and an overall exhausted, worrisome, survival mental state many have adopted (me included) that makes enjoying the things we're passionate about difficult. Paul encouraged his fellow travelers to take care of themselves and eat despite the stress over the dire situation they were in, and we need to also take care of ourselves and each other as we navigate the craziness life is currently tossing our way. Thank You Lord for Paul's timeless reminder of the importance of caring for ourselves and each other, especially in dark times. Please help me to do the same, and please help us all not only survive, but grow through the struggles that are affecting us in this day and age. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Acts 24:26-27 - Seek True Value (Bible Journal)
"He also hoped that Paul would bribe him, so he sent for him quite often and talked with him. After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison (Acts of the Apostles 24:26-27 NLT)."
Felix had an opportunity to grow and change through Paul ministering to him over a two year period. However, Felix chose material wishes instead, and ultimately turned on Paul in the end as he continued focusing on efforts for his own personal gain. Paul didn't offer Felix a bribe, but had a much greater prize in mind that Felix missed the opportunity for. While I won't deny the importance of money, it is something that comes and goes, while a relationship with God will always be available should we seek it. Thank You Lord for always giving me an opportunity to connect with You, even when I become distant by my own shortcomings. Please help me to always remember that a bond with You is the true treasure, and please help me to grow in seeking You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.