Friendship Day

Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. - John 15:13 NKJV

Friends are a gift from God and should be cherished, celebrated, and never taken for granted. My friend Patti Ann says this about friendship in her recent post entitled "Happy Friendship Day":

I personally believe that friends are God’s way of taking care of us.  God not only directs the steps on our journey of faith, but He also places people in our lives at specific times to touch our lives or for us to touch theirs.  Each person has a story - life experiences no one else can claim.  From these things we learn what we could not from any other person.  Our lives are enriched by those we keep close to us.  Some remain a lifetime, some only for a short while for the purposes God intends.

True friends know your faults but love you anyway.  I used to think that we chose our friends for who they are – I found out we actually love them because they accept and support who we are.

"Friendship Day" was a "holiday" I had never heard of, but will gladly pass along to you, my faithful readers.  True friends, are indeed those who love us no matter what. Please take some time to day to stop by Patti Ann's blog and read the entire post, complete with some biblical references and a friendship prayer. You'll be glad you did.

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Dear Lord, I thank you for Your friendship most of all, because in spite of who I am, You have never left my side. Thank you for the friends you've put in my life --new or old, near, distant or "estranged". Please let my friends know how much I care about them, even though we may not see or communicate as much as I'd like. Help me to learn from them, support them, and never take them for granted, for they are gifts from You to mold me into the person you want me to become. Amen.

 


Formula for Deliverance: Prayer and Praise

Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. - 2 Chr 20:27

Have you ever faced a situation bigger than you, where you see trouble coming from afar and have no idea how to ward off the coming disaster? Jehoshaphat, king of Judah found himself in such a place. Just when he felt his troubles were ending, new troubles in the form of massive enemy armies arose on the horizon.

Jehoshaphat did what most people terrified for their lives would do. He prayed.

But he didn't just offer the "Help me now, God!" prayer and leave it at that. Jehoshaphat sincerely sought God's will and his hand in a spirit of humble submission to the almighty ruler of the universe. Open your Bibles to 2 Chronicles 20 with me. We see Jehoshaphat's sincerity through his actions.

  1. He proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah (2 Ch 20:3).
  2. He publicly praised and prayed to God for his nation (2 Ch 20:5-12)
  3. He demonstrated complete trust in God and commanded his people to do the same (2 Ch  20:20)

Once Jehoshaphat turned his eyes to God, the rest of the people followed him in prayer and praise to God (2 Ch 20:21) and God came through with a victory in a most dismal circumstance.

When they began singing and praising the Lord set ambushes against the  sons of Ammon, Moab & Mount Seir, who had come against Judah. (2 Ch 20:22)

The Israelites did nothing but look to God for help. And God came through for them in a mighty way. In what circumstance do you need the victory today? Relationships? Finances? Health issues? Turn to God and He will deliver you in his perfect time.

Dear Lord, forgive us when we take matters into our own hands, showing you that we lack faith in you.  Help us to believe you can and will come through for us. Show us what to do and enable us to be obedient to your call. Amen.


Courage For Purpose

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20 NASB)

Living for a purpose takes a lot of courage. As a professional coach, I often strike fear in the hearts of my clients when I encourage them to voice their life goals and aspirations. Some people are afraid to explore the emotions surrounding a life purpose and thus never fully engage in the process. Others, once they discover their purpose get overwhelmed and fearful because the discovery prompts life change.

I wonder what Solomon thought when David told him he was to build a house for God. For GOD. I wonder if panic coursed through His veins as he considered the magnitude of the task and whether or not he could get it right.  I bet he was scared to death.

Yet through his fear he heard the words of his wise father King David, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear…for the LORD God, my God, is with you.” David knew fear and David knew God’s ability to provide. He also knew that one of the best ways to conquer fear was to just start doing. David encouraged his son with the voice of experience.

Solomon knew his father’s God and knew his victories through God. Eventually, he built one of the most magnificent temples in world for God!

We too, can achieve great things when we trust God’s provision for our lives when we are overwhelmed and afraid. What big dream has you shaking? Think of that fear as an opportunity to do great things through God. Be strong and courageous, and act. Take one step toward it today and watch what God can do!

What have you done to overcome fear?  What will you do today to move forward? Share your thoughts in a comment below.


Wait For Strength

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! - Psalm 27:14 (NKJV)

Who likes to wait? I don't like waiting. I will read chapters at the end of the book in a suspense novel to see if my favorite character lives. I sometimes work harder and take on more than I need to in order to control and speed things up. I've mellowed quite a bit over the years, but at times I still struggle with wanting to "help" God move ahead with His plans for my life.

I find myself waiting on God quite a lot these days. I have to, because a situation is out of my hands. I'm waiting on a person. God's probably waiting on me.

None of us like waiting, yet God says to wait on Him and to not be afraid...

...through the questions
...through the pain, and
...through the tears.

God says that He will strengthen our hearts when they become weak. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. He uses everything in our lives to mold us and shape us into the people He needs us to be to accomplish our purpose in this life.

We need challenges in order to change.

God leads us to green pastures to high places via dark valleys at times. Through it all, He is always there. Like a child going through a scary place with a parent, we can bury ourselves in Him when the going gets too rough.

Does your heart need strength today? Give God time and just wait. Find some solitude. Turn off the TV, computer and phone, and be still in the silence. Open your Bible to your favorite promise from God and ask Him to put His arms around you and give you peace in the middle of your circumstance. He will strengthen your heart.

Dear Father, I thank you for all of who you are to me and most of all I thank you for your unchanging and unconditional love. Show me where I've failed you. Show me where I've pleased you. Most of all, strengthen my heart, our hearts, as we wait on you. Amen.


Revival Through God's Word

Let my soul live that it may praise Thee, and let thine ordinances help me. (Psalm 119:175)

You don't have to go to a "revival" to be revived. God revives anywhere, as long as His Word is present. This morning as I was going through my daily Bible reading plan I experienced somewhat of a "revival" of my own. Actually, it was more of a discovery than a revival, but it sure put a smile on my face.

Did you know that the phrase "revive me" or "revived me" is found eleven times in the 119th Psalm (NASB)? Neither did I until this morning! According to this Psalm, God revives us through His Word, His righteousness, and His lovingkindness. He gives us provision when we so desperately need it. Read through the following list and see what resonates with you today. Something will. I guarantee it.

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My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Thy Word. (v 25)

Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in thy ways. (v 37)

Behold, I long for Thy precepts; Revive me through Thy righteousness. (v 40)

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy Word has revived me. (v 50)

Revive me according to Thy lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Thy mouth. (v 88)

I will never forget Thy precepts, For by them Thou hast revived me. (v 93)

I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Thy Word. (v 107)

Hear my voice according to Thy lovingkindness; Revive me, O Lord, according to Thine ordinances. (v 149)

Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Thy Word. (v 154)

Great are Thy mercies, O Lord; Revive me according to thine ordinances. (v 156)

Consider how I love Thy precepts, Revive me, O Lord, according to Thy lovingkindness. (v 159)

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Lord, thank you for your healing touch. Thank you for your Word and your mercies that are new every morning. Revive your children so they can really live again for you. Amen.

How does God revive you? Feel free to share in the comments below.  I'd love to hear from you!

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.


Is Feeling Worthy Being Prideful?

It is only in the possession of God that I lose myself. It's in the height and breadth and glory of the sunshine that the littleness of the dust particle playing in its beams is seen, and it's by humility that we take our place in God's presence to be nothing but a speck dwelling in the sunlightof His love. - Andrew Murray, "Humility"
Mainstream society tries to make us think that each one of us is and should be the center of our own universe yet the bible compares our best efforts at righteousness to filthy rags (Is 64:6). It is no wonder that so many of us are confused!
 
We are all worthy to be used, but not worthy to be praised. I believe that there are two keys to recognizing our place in this world and stepping up and out to make a difference in it.

1. We are important to God - God loves us and gave His son to die for us, so that He could empower each one of us to be lights in the darkness of this world. He needs us, for the very reason that we are so imperfect, so He can show the world what He can do and so people will know that He is God!

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-7 NKJV)

2. We are not important in relation to God - In the whole scheme of things, we are pretty insignificant indeed. However it is the realization of insignificance that gives us true power, and in that lies the paradox. In my opinion, this is the essence of faith, for to have true faith in God, we must not have faith in ourselves.

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9 NKJV)
Feel worthy to be used by God, but not so worthy that God can't use you. We can feel worthy to fulfill God's call on our lives without being prideful as long as we still remember who we really are in light of who God is.  Fulfill your calling with a humble confidence.  Just show up for work. God will get the job done.

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.


Accepting the Do-Over

Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." ~ He 4:6-7 NKJV

God gives us many do-overs to start anew.  He's been giving them out all through biblically recorded history.  In the passage above we see King David being quoted in Psalm 95 by the writer of Hebrews.  David, approximately 400 years after Joshua and the Israelites failed to enter their promised land (or "rest") the first time, spoke of another change for God's people to enter into rest.

God is still waiting for his people to come back to him and he still waits today.  He is still giving out do-overs!  Unfortunately, we get caught in a cycle of defeat by not making good use of our do-over, and fail to enter the spiritual rest that God promises us.  Our unbelief, not trusting God, keeps us defeated.

Generally, there are four keys to overcoming our unbelief:

1) Forgive your past mistakes.  God has forgiven you.  Forgive yourself and start fresh.

2) Remember your past victories.   Intentionally recall a time in the past where God has come through for you.  He will do it again!

3) Trust God's promises.  The Bible is filled with truths to hold on to.  God will do what He says because He cannot lie.

4) Trust God's power.  God created the universe. He can create a new beginning and craft a solution to your problems.

The bottom line is that each day is a new day and no matter where we are in our lives, God will give us another chance to believe in Him.  Most importantly, He is worthy of our trust. We can pray to Him with confidence, "I can't _________________, but You can _______________."  When we master that prayer, we are on our way to the "rest" God desires for us.

Points to ponder:

  • What are you the most tired of struggling with in your daily life?
  • What kinds of things do you tend to work out on your own?
  • At what times do you say you trust God, yet in reality still hold on tightly to your problems?

Note: This post is excerpted from a portion of a new retreat I'm presenting this weekend entitled "The Work of Rest".  If you are interested in learning more about it or would be interested in booking it at your church, please contact me.

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.


The Strengthening Touch of God

Have you ever felt so weary from life, whether it is home, work, worry or ministry, that you just felt that you couldn't take one more step?  That you felt all strength was zapped from you?   I think Daniel felt this way in Chapter 10 after he was left alone to have another troubling vision. (10:7)

Now imagine being on the ground, face down and feeling a comforting touch... 

Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.  And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you."  While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.  (Dan 10:10-11 NKJV)

This touch occurred to Daniel three different times in the chapter.  After hearing words from the "angel" in v12-14, Daniel again turned his face to the ground, speechless.  The vision had overwhelmed him and no strength was left in him.  This time, "suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men" touched his lips, allowing Daniel to speak. (v16).  Daniel spoke but ran out of steam again and for the third time, God (in the form of angel or preincarnate Christ - you decide) touched and strengthened him.

Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.  And he said,"O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!  (Dan 10:18-19 NKJV)

Admittedly, Daniel was strengthened after this exhortation!  Wouldn't you be, if Jesus Himself told you to get up and face life?   Did you know that Jesus tells us personally to keep pressing on all of the time in His Word?  I find that so awesome how he personally speaks to me. I pray that He speaks to you too, all who are weary and void of strength:

Isaiah 40:28-31 28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.    30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.    30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (NKJV)


Hope Deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.  - Proverbs 13:12 NKJV

My friend's son is getting married this weekend.  I've heard her talk about the day with excitement and anticipation as the weeks rolled by this summer.  The big day is almost here and I can sense the joy in her spirit.  Can you remember the last time a long awaited "dream" or desire finally came to fruition?  How did you feel when you were waiting?

I don't like waiting, but as I get older, I'm getting better at it.   Not only am I getting better at waiting in traffic or grocery store checkout lines, but I am getting better at waiting in the bigger areas of life.  I'm learning how to not "make things happen" and am re-learning that the only things I do have control of are my own thoughts and actions.   These learnings have helped me to hold my expectations loosely and better enjoy the moments in between expectation and reality. 

Hope deferred, or delayed "dreams" don't have to make our hearts sick if we keep our minds' eye focused on what we have to do today and let God take care of the rest.  Patience comes with knowing and trusting that God's desired outcomes are better than what we can imagine anyway.  Patience comes when we surrender our will to God's.  When we hold our desires loosely, we allow God to change the desires of our hearts.  Our waiting will become less painful as we trust God's provision and direction for our lives.  They still will bring life and joy when they come, but the waiting might just be a little easier.

For further thought:

1) Rate your "grip" on your own desires on a scale of 1-10 (10 being white-knuckled). How does your "grip" affect your patience in waiting?  How does it affect what you do with what you hear from God? 

2) What are you learning from God in your situation?  Does God want you to take hold of a different desire?

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.


God Our Healer

Are you in need of a healing touch from God?  Although we don't see as many physical healings of sickness and disease as were depicted in biblical times, God is still very much in the healing business today.  He heals our hearts.

Please stop by Pam's blog, Pathways to Freedom to view the post "My Healer", as she discusses how an intimate relationship with God through prayer and bible reading can provide the healing we all so desparately need.