My prayer is that anyone who chooses to read my thoughts on the true Bread of Life can pick up a few "crumbs" to give them a taste of what God has to offer each of us in His Word - an appetizer, if you will. Happy reading!
My goal for this blog is for it to be an encouragement as well as a tool for others in their walk with Christ. Happy Reading!
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13
Today I'm following some of my own coaching advice in that 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing. I've been wanting to write the perfect post here for quite some time and decided that today I was casting perfection aside here at Bread Crumbs to bring you some unplugged thoughts I've had lately regarding friendships or relationships.
I love to help people. My mom always used to tell me, "Janna, you can't save the world." As a good friend of mine says, I am a "net holder". I am someone you can count on to hold one corner of your safety net, should you need to "plunge" to safety. I don't run from the tough stuff of emotions and contrary to my impatient nature I am generally long suffering with my friends.
Jesus says that there is no greater love than sacrificing for our friends. He modeled it perfectly, giving up his life on the cross as a sacrifice for the souls of man. Even with my helping nature, I can't remotely compare to Him. In fact, I'm extremely selfish in comparison!
Friendship is about sacrifice. Its about the other person, not yourself. To be a good friend according to Jesus' example means we need to give and expect nothing in return, knowing that we will eventually reap for ourselves the good we have sown if we don't lose heart (Gal 6:9), even if we suffer heart ache in the process. Sometimes it's not easy to do, especially if we care deeply about the other person for which we are sacrificing. But Jesus didn't say His way would be easy, did He?
How closely do you model Jesus' example of friendship? What stands in your way of considering someone else's needs over your own? What can you do today to reach out to someone in your world? Your small gesture may mean the world to someone else.
I am finally on the last book of the Left Behind book series, "Kingdom Come". In it, I'm finding interesting the storytelling surrounding the Judgment Seat of Christ and how all of our works will be judged by Jesus someday. God is more concerned with our heart condition than our sacrifices. He wants us to do things for Him, not for ourselves.
We can see one reminder of God's viewpoint from the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 7:5-6 when God asks the people: "When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me - for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?"
As I read this passage I have to ask myself come questions as well. Questions like, "Why am I really doing the things I do? What is my motive?". In 1 Cor 3:12-15, God's Word says clearly that one day God will examine all of our "works" and see what the motive was behind it. Our good deeds could be regarded as wood, hay or straw or as gold, silver and precious stones depending on our motive. Those deeds done with a sincere heart and pure motive will not be trashed in the "fire" of God's judgment because they will be as precious stones to Him. How will your works stand the heat? Maybe its time to do a little self-assessment.
Questions to ponder:
1) When I attend that prayer meeting, bible study or ministry meeting, am I doing it for God or some other motive?
2) When I study my Bible, am I doing it for just knowledge (pride) or to really hear from God?
3) When I do a friend a favor, do I do it begrudgingly or with a true spirit of giving?
When you read the bible, do you read it with the expectation that God will speak to you through it? Do you keep pen and paper at hand so you can capture His thoughts as they come at you in His whisper?
If we anxiously come to our devotional time expecting to hear from God, He will not disappoint. His Word is living and active, more powerful than a double-edged sword, and is able to direct our lives. All we need to do is come to the "table" and partake.
With this, I will challenge you with the following passage. IT is a part of perhaps Paul's final letter before his death, written to his son in the faith, friend and faithful protege, Timothy. Paul had specific words for Timothy in this letter. I'm sure they came from God. What does the following passage say to you?
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NKJV)
Take time if you need to read this passage through slowly again. Get your pen and paper out. Jot down what you hear God saying to you. What would it mean in your life to fulfill your ministry? What will you do with what you've heard?
According to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it, as the LORD had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them. (Exodus 39:42-43 NKJV)
Looking back on Exodus 35-39, we see an example of God's people carrying out God's instructions to the letter. Not only did they construct the tabernacle, but they carefully made all of the furnishings, altar items, and priestly garments. It is amazing to me how much work it takes to do things exactly as God wants. God is very particular and desires quality rather than quantity. The good news is that God provides us with the resources to do the job! God gave Moses all that he needed to get the work done, including materials and skilled personnel. Incredible!
As I think about the completed tabernacle, I think about the following principles we can apply to our lives:
God provided skilled workers - God stirred up the hearts of the specific people He needed to get the job done.
God provided materials - more than they needed.
Moses followed God's instructions to the letter - He gave God the quality God expected.
Moses inspected the work - A leader is responsible for the work of subordinates.
What task does God have planned for you? What character does He want to produce in you? He will provide the resources you need in many ways. No job is too big for God. Keep seeking Him and watching for His plan to be revealed. When it is time to move on the task, God will make the way.
Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here." - Moses, Exodus 33:15 NKJV
Once again, Moses is deep into conversation with God about the responsiblities bestowed on him as the leader of God's people. Moses knew the task, "Bring up this people", but he was concerned as to who was going to accompany him to the promised land. Moses wanted assurance that God would be there and God gave him that assurance.
And He said, "My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest." (Ex 33:14 NKJV)
I find it interesting that Moses made the statement regarding what would happen if God didn't go with them AFTER God said He was going. Was Moses doubting God? In this intimate conversation between Moses and God, my guess is that Moses isn't doubting God at this point but was merely talking out loud as he stated the importance of God's presence in the journey.
What journey are you on currently? How is God asking you to live for Him in your current circumstance? No matter where we are in our lives, be it a family/relationship situation or a ministry opportunity, it is important that we desire to take God with us with the same enthusiasm as Moses had back in His day. Moses knew the futility of trying to do life or ministry without God and he wanted no part of God's absence. We need also to say to God, "I'll go if You go."
And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves into the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian. - Nu 31:3
What makes your blood boil? What situations stir you to action? In the above verse, God stirred up Moses to send the Israelites to war against the Midianites. God's people had been led astray and because of it God's "name" had been dragged through the mud. Someone needed to pay for their acts of deception.
I was struck by the verse above in my daily reading today because of God's call for a holy war. It is important to note here that Moses' act of gathering the people to war was not an act of petty jealousy. God's people had been led into sexual immorality and idol worship with the Midianites' prompting. Moses was motivated because of his closeness with God and the wrongness of the Midianites' deeds. He walked so closely with God that he not only heard God tell him to avenge His name, but most likely felt the same anger as God did.
We too need to take up "arms" and defend what is right and true. Today most of our battles are not literal battles as was the case in biblical times. Today's battles are more subtle and without careful discernment, one might not even be aware of the current day fight. Christianity is in crisis. Our Christian blood should be "boiling" at the thought of how many partial truths are being passed off as real Truth. Let's dust off our "swords" and get into the fray!
Taking up arms
Do you know the Truth of God's Word so well that you can immediately recognize a lie or partial truth? If not, why not and what are you going to do about it?
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. -- Romans 12:1 NKJV
Reading through Exodus 28-29, I am astounded at the requirements they had for approaching God in the tabernacle. We learn here of the priestly garments and the seemingly endless offerings required of the priests for their personal sanctification, without which, they could not approach God. Isn't that something?
1 Peter 2:9 says that we Christians are also part of the priesthood, designated to proclaim God's praises!
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (NKJV)
Being representatives of God ourselves, "priests", we need also to keep ourselves in a position to be most effective as witness for God. Our position requires offering ourselves as living sacrifices each day, keeping ourselves acceptable to God, so that we can come into His presence and serve Him. This is no small task. Fortunately, God will help us out and clean us up.
Connecting learning to living
What unconfessed sin (thought or deed) is in my life that might keep me from approaching God?
What am I doing that might hinder the effectiveness of my witness?
How can I "sacrifice" one aspect of my behavior today for the good of someone else?
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2 Cor 9:6-7
Last night I had the privilege of having dinner with my high school French teacher. We have kept in contact over the years, having dinner together once a year or so since I graduated. Too much time had passed, several years, since we'd last connected. However, the time lapse had no effect on our conversation.
She is retiring this year. And as we talked about that, I kept thinking of the legacy she will leave behind. She was one of the good ones. Always giving of her best and expecting the best of others. Always loving what she did. I know her students saw her passion and I believe she was probably more inspiring to others - fellow educators & students alike - than she gives herself credit for.
A giver's reward is in the fruit of their labor. If we sow bountifully we will reap likewise. And if we give with a cheerful heart, we will be blessed all the more because God loves a cheerful giver. How will you give of yourself today?
Questions to ponder:
1) In what area of my life am I "giving" grudgingly?
2) How can I give cheerfully of my time, talent and treasure today?
Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days." - Exodus 16:4-5 NIV
What will you do with the blessings you receive? In this passage we see God's faithfulness in providing a whining and complaining nation of Israel with food from heaven (manna) to sustain them in the wilderness. Isn't God good? If it were me doling out the blessing I might have told them to quit complaining for a day or two before I provided it to them. It is a good thing that I'm not in control!
However, I wonder why God chose to test their obedience with the manna. He didn't choose to test them with the water He provided back in Marah (Ex 15:22-26), yet they complained there as well. It was apparently evident to God that the hearts of the Israelites were not totally with Him. They had, after all, exclaimed their desire to be back in Egypt (Ex 16:3). So God put them to the test.
I think that many times we aren't much different than the Israelites. We oftentimes follow the same cycle. By God's mercy, after hearing our own cries for deliverance, He delivers us. Freed from our trials, we quickly forget what we were delivered from, start complaining and wishing for the old life we never even really liked to begin with. It is no wonder God has to repeatedly test the nature of our hearts for Him, even in our blessings. How will you treat the blessings God has recently given you? Will you do with them as He pleases?
Lord, hear our prayer and forgive us for consistently falling down in our walk with you. Give us the desire to do your will and not our own in our lives. Show us your ways and help us to be good stewards of the blessings you provide. Amen.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. -2 Cor 4:7 NKJV
I read the following quote today form Os Guinness' The Call that really started my mind thinking regarding who God uses and the timing of when He calls someone into service for Him. Here's the quote:
God's calling is the key to igniting a passion for the deepest growth and and highest herosim in life. - Os Guinness, The Call, p.78
Why is God's calling the key to igniting passion for more personal growth and heroism than we would normally attain without it? I believe the essence of the "key" is the size of God-sized goal compared to the goals we form without considering God's involvement. Simply said, our human-sized goals and dreams are too small. We typically don't plan to do things we know we can't do on our own. Our plans revolve around the means our "earthen vessel" bodies can supply.
God revels in our weakness. If we truly believe that our whole purpose in life is to bring glory to Him and Him alone, we would better understand God's ways. God wants to be sure we acknowledge that all excellence comes from Him.
What would you do if you knew you would not fail because God was on your side?