Doodles and devotions that draw me to the heART of God.
It was God who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. It was us, who are prone to wander, that get full off His blessings and forget where where we came from.
We have become prideful, self-centered and seeking our own treasures. The real treasure lies within the Savior. He is like the cactus within the desert. He holds water…living water, when the world around us is parched and dry.
Oh, He is so good to us! If you feel like you have been walking in circles the wilderness there is One who is an oasis for your weary soul. There have been so many times in my own life where I have looked to my self or others for validation and for help. Often times when we are in a situation that has our heart heavy and burdened, we look at God as this “mirage” that is fleeting and unattainable. However, He is strong, steady and immovable.
Keep walking toward Him and you will soon realize as you approach His greatness, He has everything you will ever want or need available to you.
Don’t give up today. Keep walking, sister. Keep your eyes on Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
I finished up 1 Samuel this morning with the death of Saul. It was a tragic death and unfortunately, it was one that he seen coming. As I completed this book of the Bible, I have just been sitting here and thinking and studying about Saul and his life. He started out chasing lost donkeys that belonged to his father in Chapter 9 when he was approached by Samuel to be the king of Israel (that the people asked for). It wasn’t until after some convincing that he was anointed and scripture says God changed his heart…but then we see him in Chapter 10 hiding among supplies and they have to go get him out so he can be presented to the people. He wasn’t exactly praised and accepted…but Saul does manage to rescue the city of Jabesh from Nahash (the leader of the Ammonites). Scripture says the spirit of the Lord came upon him and he was so victorious in battle that the survivors were so scattered that no two men were left together. The people now are willing to confirm him as King and they celebrate the victory over Nahash. Later in the thread of military crisis, Saul chooses to not do as God commanded and submit to the divine instruction given to him by Samuel. He chose his own way. Saul did a lot of choosing his own way, people pleasing and disregarding that will of God. He seems really great at religious performance with no actual commitment to God. We see in Chapter 15, the Lord regretting that He had made Saul king over Israel. Here is where we see David step onto the scene as the newly chosen king and the spirit of the Lord has departed from Saul. An evil spirit came upon him and he was miserable, depressed and we see him driven to madness, but this young David would play the harp for him and the evil spirit would leave. However, when the people praised David in Chapter 18 after the slaying of Goliath, Saul got very angry. Next thing we see is an evil spirit taking over Saul to the point that he tries to kill David as he is there with him playing the harp. If you didn’t know, David goes on the run from Saul, because he sets out to try and kill him. It’s a lot of running, hiding, attempts of murder that make for great reading for several chapters…but I am going to skip over to Saul visiting the medium/witch in Chapter 28 because he didn’t know what to do. The Lord was silent and he turned to forbidden acts for answers. The answer he got was very troubling and we see God’s promises to Saul in Chapter 31 as he falls on his own sword after being mortally wounded. Saul, three of his sons and his armor bearer all lay dead at the hands of the Philistines (and from their own swords). They cut off Saul’s head, stripped him of his armor and hung their bodies to the wall of Beth Shan. They even place his head in with their god, Dagon as a slap in the face to the God of Israel.
That’s a lot, huh? Saul was out chasing donkeys when we meet him, he chased David and then his sins caught up with him in the end.
It’s really sad that this man chose to do his own thing instead of listen to instructions of God. Most of his problems he brought on himself, because he chose to do what seemed right by him instead of what was right in the eye of the Lord. He chose to please self and others instead of pleasing God. It wasn’t about being a righteous king, but self-a righteous ruler. He didn’t want to honor God, only himself. Almost his whole life could be summed up as a slap in the face of God.
What did I learn from spending weeks in this book and looking at Saul? You will never go wrong when you choose to follow God’s will. Will it be easy? Not always. Will you have to give up some things? Usually.
We must be willing to sacrifice what we want in this life for the purposes of God. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the life of Saul is evidence that when we try to take matters into our own hands, build statues to honor ourselves instead of God and bypass His word seeking answers in the wrong places, we end up cut off completely from our Heavenly Father.
We can’t pretend to perform righteousness and expect God to show up when we stand on the battle lines of life. God isn’t looking at the outside (as we know Saul was a handsome, tall man…like no other). He desired a man after His own heart (David)…who wasn’t concerned with doing what they desired, but what says the Lord.
Let’s be a people that lives to honor the Lord.
I don’t want my words, my actions or my body being used as a slap in the face to my God.
I’ve been in 1 Samuel for weeks. There is so much to learn from the life of Samuel, Saul and David in the scriptures here. This weekend and this morning I sat down to once again read and study the encounter that Saul had with a medium in Chapter 28. Here is a king that was frustrated because God was no longer speaking to him and decided to take matters into his own hands and go out and seek the help of a medium under disguise. Samuel had died, so Saul was upset that he didn’t have him there for advice or to speak to him on behalf of God. He wanted this medium to bring up Samuel.
As I read over this and studied I couldn’t help but think about the chapters I have previously read when Saul was hearing from God. What happened that he was no longer speaking to Saul? His pride got in the way and he consistently rebelled against God. We even find Samuel telling Saul in Chapter 15, verse 23 that if you were rebelling from God you might as well obey the spirits of the dead and practice witchcraft! It’s one in the same.
Well, here’s what we see Saul doing in Chapter 28. He goes and visits a medium (some translations call her a witch) to see about hearing from Samuel. He is asking of a medium after he had expelled them from the land because it was forbidden by the Lord. He is so worried about the Philistine army attacking him that he is desperate to hear from Samuel. He does and the message he receives is not a good one.
He will die tomorrow.
Why do we not hear from God? Disobedience on our part.
God doesn’t move…we do. We get frustrated when we don’t hear Him speaking, but most of the time it is because we have chosen to rely on ourselves, turned from Him in disobedience or acted against God’s word or will.
So, when we don’t hear his voice, we decide that we will do whatever it takes to bypass Him and seek counsel from wherever and whoever in an attempt to “know what to do.” When we get in great distress, we don’t want to look at the reason we aren’t hearing from God, but we must remember that God never ceases to stop speaking, we are usually spiritually deaf because of some reason. Most often that reason is sin. It separates us from God.
Also, we must remember that God doesn’t always say what we want to hear. When the Holy Spirit speaks to us, it may not always line up with our plans and our will. We can’t take matters into our own hands and bypass what He has for us, because it will surely not end well.
We see a great example of in the life of Saul of what happens when we let ourselves get in the way of God’s will for our lives, turn from God and look to the things of the world for answers. You may get an answer, but it will certainly bring more fear and less peace, just as it did with Saul. We may not fall on our own literal sword as Saul did, but we will surely fail.
This morning I was reading about the beheading of John the Baptist. It’s quite an interesting story in that the reason for his beheading was simply because Herod wanted to save face with his family and didn’t want to cross his hateful wife. He did something he knew was wrong just to look good in front others.
He had sat and listened to John, perplexed by his words and even though he didn’t like what he had to say, he didn’t want to kill him. He knew he was just and holy man, so he imprisoned him. His wife, who was actually his brothers wife beforehand didn’t like John. She didn’t like the fact that he was always telling her what she was doing wrong and John’s call for her and Herod to repent. She took it as a personal attack, when it was just John preaching truth boldly and unapologetically.
Herod had a huge dinner on his birthday and Herodias’ daughter came in to dance for them, he was so impressed that he told her that he would give her whatever she wanted. That must have been some dance. Well, let me just say it was probably something immodest and inappropriate, but scripture doesn’t say. She went back to her mother, who said, “Tell him you want John the Baptist’s head on a platter.” That hussy knew what she was doing. She knew that he would give her what she wanted, even though it was wrong. He couldn’t go back on his words in front of all his friends.
It says that Herod was exceedingly sorry, but couldn’t refuse her. So, he sent for John the Baptist to be killed and his head was delivered up on a platter for Herodias. How sad. How can we look at this story in this moment? As I was reading, these are the thoughts that come to my mind:
How many times do we sin against God to “save face” with those around us? How many times do we speak idle words and give someone “whatever they want” forsaking everything we know to be right?
Those are hard questions that I asked myself and will probably ponder on them for the rest of the day.
I don’t really know what to say about those two statements that were pressed deep into my spirit, so I am just going to leave them at that and get dressed to tackle my day, but keeping in the back of my mind the importance of two very important things:
When it comes to sinning just to “save face”, we are in a dangerous place. No matter what anyone else may want us to do, if it doesn’t line up with The Word, then we must be willing to stand our ground and not cower at the expense of “saving face”.
We must mean what we say and say what we mean. We must refuse to not forsake what we know to be right, just so someone can get what they want. That goes for ourselves and for others. Quick words based on emotions will often come back to bite you. We are often left with regrets, just as Herod.
No saving face, but sharing the saving knowledge. No idle words, only what is true and right.
Be okay and stop worrying about what others think. Stop worrying about looking good in front of others and make sure you are right before God.
Just so you know, my toes hurt…and let’s hope my face doesn’t stay that way.
When it comes to our relationship with God, why do we feel the need to be a like senseless and stubborn mule that only does what it should when it has been guided by some rather rigorous training, afflictions or trials?
Let’s read Psalm 32
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
There is great blessing for the man or woman who knows the forgiveness of God. If we want to be blessed, we must make a full confession and repentance of sin. We live in an age of fence riding, lukewarmness and wishy-washy Christians who are afraid of offending those around us. We don’t want to speak truth (which is The Word of God) because it may hurt someone’s feelings. David in Psalm 32 was quick to let us know how harsh unconfessed sin was in his life.
Let’s look at this scenario.
You and your friend are out shopping for a dress. She told you before starting the try on process, “Tell me the truth and let me know what dress will be right for me.” She tries on a dress and it isn’t right for her. And you say, “That not right.” She looks at you and she starts saying, “You just called me fat!” You said, “I am too short for this….you think my shoulders are too broad?” “I can’t believe you would tell me that it makes me look bad!” She even says, “you judging me!”
You tell her, “What a minute, friend…you told me to tell you what was right and this dress isn’t right.”
You immediately tell her the truth and she finds things to get offended about within herself and you are immediately judging her because you are telling her the truth.
Everyone wants the truth, but most people can’t handle it. When they are faced with the truth (the Word of God), it makes them immediately see the things wrong within themselves and they immediately believe that you are judging those insecurities and/or sins that they have within themselves. Just because you speak the truth and say that something isn’t right, doesn’t mean you are judging your friend, you are just telling her that the dress isn’t right for her.
That’s what we are to do with scripture and sin. As I read through Psalm 32, I see a picture of someone who knows the truth and the blessings that come from repentance and walking with the Lord. David says that he acknowledged his sin under God and confessed it and He forgives. We are preserved in Him and God will instruct us and teach us in the paths that we must go. We can’t be like a senseless mule who constantly has to be “yanked” back in line. We shouldn’t need that as believers…we should be easily guided by God to walk in righteousness. We may not like the truth, but we know it and we must be willing to say to ourselves and others that any unconfessed sin in our lives is “not right for me.”
Sin brings destruction and we have seen that time and time again in scripture and maybe in our own lives. We must always speak truth in love and guide those that are living in sin, or struggling with sin toward the Father…not jerking the reins. You lead them to God, He will take care of their sin.
We must remember that in Christ, we are no longer senseless mules. Our sins are covered and we are led by the Spirit of God.
This past weekend, I had someone be rude to me for no reason. They haven’t always been what you would call a “friend”, but we have worked together, shared meals together and have lots of mutual friends. I know this person loves the Lord, but their rudeness caught me off guard and it was totally uncalled for, in my opinion. I was so shocked by it, that I made a joke and tried to shake it off, but by the time I got home and talked with a couple of people about the encounter, I was hurt as I retold the story several times.
Listen, I have extremely tough skin. The ministry and being self-employed has given me the ability to handle hard and heavy things that might be dropped and shattered by others. That’s not to brag on my own abilities, but just to say that I am not a whiner that gets my feelings hurt over silly things.
This wasn’t silly. This really hurt.
I was hurt because this person calls themselves a Christian.
Now, I know what you are thinking…so I will say it for you.
Ashlee, you’re not perfect. You’ve been rude before. You have probably hurt someone’s feelings, too.
Yes, you’re right. I sure have. However, her response did not match my cordial greeting and light-hearted conversation. I have decided to file it under “she was having a bad day” in my mind and move on. But, in the midst of that situation, it got me thinking about the power of the tongue, because I was so affected by the tone of her speech and the words that she expressed to me.
I have a lot of power that can come from my lips.
I have the power to encourage or discourage. I have the power to lift up or tear down. I have the power to speak life or speak death. I have the power to heal or harm.
I’m not perfect, but I never want to be rude. I don’t ever want to hurt someone’s feelings, either. I don’t want anyone to feel what I felt this weekend after walking away from a conversation with me. I am responsible not just for my words, but how they are perceived.
They matter to others and they matter to God.
I was hurt, because this person calls themselves a Christian. But, what if I wasn’t a Christian? What if I was needing the encouragement…the life…the hope…the healing of Christ through her words in that moment, but was met with the opposite? The hurt wouldn’t just be physical, it would also be spiritual.
There’s a lot of power inside my mouth.
I don’t want something I say to keep someone from seeing Christ. Guard my tongue, Lord and keep it gentle…’cause even when I am “having a bad day”, my words must tell of the goodness of God.
I am not a fancy “Bible Journaler”. I like to keep it simple with easy and relatively inexpensive products, but wanted to share a few things that I use daily and most can be found on Amazon or at your local craft stores.
I enjoy my interleaved Bible, which has a blank page between each page of scripture. Here’s a great one and actually the one I use! This isn’t a Bible that you would want to carry around, ‘cause it’s thick…but is great for those that do not want to write over the scriptures.
I also am very fond of Prismacolor Colored Pencils and here is a great deal on a nice 36-piece set to get you started! Just remember to be careful and keep them in their case, as they can break on the inside of the pencil if dropped. That becomes a problem when you go to sharpen, as the end will break off while you sharpen!
Lastly, I love my Sharpie pens! They do not bleed through the Bible pages and offer amazing lines for outlining and details! These pens are different from regular Sharpies!
If you want to use watercolor on your Bible pages, which I like to do sometimes, too…you can place a piece of card stock behind your Bible page and then paint with a set of inexpensive cake watercolors. This set is one similar to mine and these brushes work great for Bible pages and even watercolor paper to practice!
You can also combine colored pencils, watercolor and pens! The options are endless and so is your creativity!
I hope this helps you get started with Bible Journaling and illustrating your faith! It’s always good to “draw from His word”! 😉
*Please note I receive a commission if you purchase through my links. Product prices and availability are accurate as of date/time posted and are subject to change.
This past Sunday evening, my pastor posed the question in his sermon, “Who do we love enough to save?” Not that we have the saving power, but who do we love enough to point to Jesus?
As a Christian, it’s easy to answer, “EVERYONE, Lord!”…but do we REALLY? I can only speak for myself, but I can recall so many times that I have missed an opportunity to share about the Lord, because I wasn’t sure how to turn the conversation in that direction or I was afraid of the reaction I would receive.
How many times have we left someone treading water…maybe drowning in sin…with no hope of being thrown the saving knowledge of Jesus?
As my pastor was talking in his sermon, he spoke about how his personality is introverted and the thoughts of having to speak in front of people when he was younger was quite terrifying. I could totally relate. In school, I was afraid to try out for sports, stand in front of class and I even struggled to make eye contact with people. I was extremely shy. And…if I am being completely honest, I enjoy time alone and you could say I am introverted by nature. Most people always find that shocking because I teach classes and sometimes overshare pieces of my life…well, if my husband was writing this, he would say I overshare all the time!
When I sit down and think about the positions I had in Human Resources over 20 years ago that put me standing in front of new employees each week for several years speaking to them about their benefits, then God placing me in the role of a pastor’s wife for over seven years and now running a business with the constant pressure of having to promote my services/products to stay relevant…
God was in it all.
Without each one of those positions I found myself in, I would not be able to teach Sunday School classes, teach painting classes and share the pieces of my life that are messy and vulnerable. I feel quite unworthy to even do any of them, honestly. No Bible degrees…not formal art training…no public speaking knowledge…just a country girl from SC with a hillbilly accent and who uses excessive amounts of “y’all” and “ummm”. I’m not articulate, but God has blessed me and allowed me to use my “job” as a ministry and an avenue to share my testimony. He gives me words to write out and share that sometimes blow my mind, because I am too dumb to think of those things on my own.
God is in it all.
He is using my job and my studio to give me the opportunity to share Jesus in subtle and bold ways each and every day! As I stood at my coffee pot this morning looking out the window, I said to the Lord, “Thank you for this day. Help me to use it to honor You. Honoring Him with my life requires going outside my comfort zone, throwing out the preserver and trusting that I may not be the one to pull them into shore, but I am willing to stand and throw until my arms give out with the hope that they reach that golden shore.
I want to love God enough and people enough to share of His amazing love…His saving grace. His mercy that endures forever.
I want to always be the friend that has the life-preserver in my hands ready to throw out to ANYONE at ANYTIME.
I want to love enough to always be “on deck” with words of encouragement, life and hope that come from a relationship with Christ. I don’t want to EVER miss an opportunity to share what I have within me.
I want to love enough to save.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
Did you know that Solomon spent 7 years building God’s temple, but 13 years building his palace? Now, I’m not saying that Solomon was selfish, but he had specifically asked God for wisdom and it was given to him, but he chose to not use that gift of wisdom very well over several occasions. I know in the past, I have prayed for wisdom and discernment in areas of my life and kinda seen a little of myself in ‘ole Solomon as I read through 1 Kings 6 & 7.
How many times do we use the gifts that God has given us to sit in our own “mud hole” and splash around like a selfish pig? We spend more of our time doing what benefits us (like Solomon and his palace) and not those things that bring honor and glory to God. We should be “God-centered” over “me-centered”. Often times we do those things which benefit us and not what benefits the kingdom of God…then expect God to fill our trough with blessings, while we have done nothing but roll around in our own pigpen and get more lazy when it comes to serving Jesus!
Serving Jesus isn’t a glamorous job…most of the time, it’s much like getting down in the mud with those that are spiritually dirty from the sins of this world. I want to have dirty hands and feet from serving Him. I want others to see what a sloppy mess I was before He came into my life. I want to use everything He has given me to honor Him and serve others by sacrificing self…like a little piggy fattening itself to eventually become breakfast bacon, pork chops and for those that will eat anything…pickled pigs feet.
Let’s make today count, little piggies…bring home that spiritual bacon!
I have several planners filled with lists and goals that go back over the years that never were attained or completed. I usually pick a word and Bible verse that means something that I want to be my theme for the year, too. It feels good to have those things in the front of my planner as a fresh start on the blank canvas of a new year. But, you know what happens? I get busy and then that list is forgotten, the goals go to the back burner in the day-to-day chaos that is my life and the word that was supposed to be the focus of my new year is blurred by laundry, my ever-growing to-do list and life…life in general.
Goals don’t mean anything if they aren’t achieved. They are literally just words on a piece of paper that look great as motivation for self. Words don’t mean anything if they aren’t intentional. They are literally letters pressed together on a piece of paper that look great as motivation for self.
It just feels good.
I feel like the last few years, it has been about motivating self to accomplish or achieve something that is attainable, but only if the plans are actually executed. Writing things I want to do or focus on and not actually doing them is wasteful. I don’t like being wasteful…except for when it comes to slathering on expensive wrinkle cream or buying excessive amounts of black leggings.
As I sat in church this morning taking notes from the sermon that was in Joshua 3, I was overwhelmed with emotion at verse 5. I don’t want to take it out of the context of what was happening to the Israelites in that moment, but it spoke to my heart this morning in a fresh and exciting way that made lists and words for a new year seem obsolete.
“Consecrate yourself for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5
Before this, the people had refused to take hold of God’s promise…the land that God said He would give to them. All they had to do was walk into it. But, because they refused this promise that God gave them, they never entered the promise land. This new generation is standing there and Joshua tells them to separate themselves, cleanse themselves, examine and sanctify themselves because God is going to something amazing! In later verses (7), the Lord tells Joshua that He will exalt him in the eyes of all Israel, so that they may know that He is with him as He was with Moses. We know that God parted the Jordan River so they could walk across into dry land. Then, at the beginning of Chapter 5 we see that the Amorite kings were fearful and no longer had the courage to face the Israelites, due to them choosing to follow God’s plan and purpose. Don’t you just love the power of God?
I know what you are thinking…
What does this have to do with my new year…my goals…my focus for 2023?
I don’t know what it means for you, because that is between you and The Father, but for me those words spoke clearly to my heart…
Consecration and Devotion.
It isn’t about what I can do in 2023. It’s about what HE CAN DO through me. I can’t expect God to do great things when I am unable to leave where I am at and move closer to Him. I must pursue His goals and His will for my life…not those that are motivation for self. That’s just wasteful. In past years, those goals were great, but they weren’t accomplished because I refused to take hold of the promises He had already given me. The promises were blurred by my priorities, problems and PLANNING. Nothing was intentional. It was simply to make myself feel good.
The Lord is going to do amazing things in 2023.
I’m not going to plan…I am just going to pursue Him intentionally and watch Him part waters and put fear in those that want to destroy His plans for my life.