Previous month:
July 2005
Next month:
September 2005

Pride and Protection

Confession time. Today, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I have been able to do my daily devotional time first. FIRST!! Before my shower, before my breakfast, before work. First. Although I had not been missing a day in God's Word, I had been squeezing it in at random times throughout the day and it has just not been the same. So...I come to my blog refreshed and ready to start the day.

Back to Ezekiel...

PROTECTION

I read Ezekiel 25-28 this morning and as the title says, it really was about pride and protection. Let me explain quickly. In Ezekiel 25, God is speaking through our friend Zeke about vengeance on the nations of Ammon, Moab, Edom and Phillistia because of their poor treatment of Israel and Judah. To me, this is a perfect picture of the new testament verse in Romans 12:19 that says that vengeance is God's, not ours to take. More than the vengeance though, I am reminded by this chapter that even though God gets irritated with me from time to time, He still wants to protect me from harm, like He does with Israel and Judah. Perfect love from the perfect Father!

PRIDE

Now to the pride. This would have to come up again. When I read through chapter 28, it almost makes me think that it is too scary to be a leader because of both the responsibility over what God has given me as well as the responsibility over myself to keep relying on God else I become proud. Being successful is more dangerous to us than I think most of us realize.

I don't believe that God condemns success. Actually, I believe that He wants good things to happen for us. The key is remembering who allowed us to succeed in the first place! The prince of Tyre was an awesome ruler (Ez 28:12-15) until he because consumed with materialism (28:16) and became full of himself. (Ez 28: 1-5). As a result, our fair and perfect God who just wants people to know who He is, had no choice but to take down that prince.

Things to think about:
What kind of "prince" am I?
If I am successful, do I give credit where real credit is due?


Keep Singing

I was working on a bible study lesson about praise - specifically Psalm 150 - and thought of the following song. We know we have found healing when we can sing again.

Another rainy day.
I can’t recall having sunshine on my face.
All I feel is pain;
All I wanna do is walk out of this place.

But when I am stuck, I can’t move
When I don’t know what I should do,
When I wonder if I’ll ever make it through,

I gotta keep singing,
I gotta keep praising Your name.
You’re the One that’s keeping my heart beating.

I gotta keep singing,
I gotta keep praising Your name.
That’s the only way that I’ll find healing

Can I climb up in Your lap?
I don’t wanna leave.
Jesus, sing over me.
Oh, You’re everything I need,
And I gotta keep singing.
--
Keep Singing
by Mercy Me

What Defines A Man?

In case anyone noticed, I've missed a few more days here and there than usual. You would think that I was trying to get my dogs off to school or something! :) Actually, I've just been a little busy with life, but plan on getting back on the "blogwagon" very, very soon.

In the meantime, as I've been working on things for Grace Church's upcoming Ladies' Retreat, I've been thinking a lot about its subject matter. When reading one of my favorite blogs this morning, I saw a recent post that describes how God really views us. If only humankind could do the same!

Check out "The inside" . I guarantee you will be uplifted by the insight here.


Famous One

Are you praising or just singing? Do you understand the difference? One of the most important things to me in our weekend church service is the music portion of our service. Not just because I've been involved with music all of my life, but because I firmly believe that music has the ability to soften our hearts to better hear what God has to say to us.

This coming Sunday, we will be singing a song entitled "Famous One" by Chris Tomlin. When I sing the following stanza, I am talking to God as I sing the words:

You are the Lord
The Famous One, the Famous One
Great is Your Name in all the earth
The heavens declare
You're Glorious, you're Glorious
Great is Your fame beyond the earth

Can you imagine being so famous that your fame would extend beyond the earth? That the heavens declare your name? Who can fathom the magnificence of God! (Ps 19:1, Ps 97:6) Worshipping God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23) means that we know who He is.

And for all you've done and yet to do
With every breath I'm praising You
Desire of nations and every heart
You alone are God
You alone are God

Are you praising God for all He's done and all He's yet to do? Even if it has been a difficult road sometimes? I determine whether or not I'm praising or singing to God by whether or not I could honestly pray the song back to God. For instance, if I'm pretty frustrated with God and am having trouble praising Him, this song might be a gut check to me to see the condition of my heart. To me, this part of the song makes me really focus on my faith in God's plan and not my own. After all, He alone is God!

For another reflection on this song click here.


Weird Behavior

No, I'm not talking about my wireless server, although it has been giving me fits of late, hence no post yesterday. Fortunately, I got lucky and figured out how to go "wired" this morning. "The show must go on"! Hardly anything raises my blood pressure like computer problems!! Or, maybe it is just the lack of control I feel over the situation!

Whew. Now that is off my chest, I'll get back to being spiritual. :) Lord, I do thank You that You have things totally under control even though I don't.

I read Ezekiel 22-24 today in search of something other than prophecy of judgment on those bad Israelites. Poor Zeke. I would guess by now he might be tired of being a pawn for God, but unfortunately (well, I guess he is still fortunate because he is, after all, still being obedient to God and thus living in His will) God wants to use Him to show some more weird behavior to the people of Israel. This time, God tells Ezekiel that his wife is going to die and that he is not to mourn or cry. (Ez 24:15-17) Wouldn't that be impossible? Ezekiel's obedience really speaks to me about the power of God to do anything in our hearts and minds.

To me, the point here is that all of us are put in positions like this in one time or another. We all go through trials but it is how we react to those trials that makes us stand out to others.

Phillipians 2:14 says for us to "Do all things without murmurings and disputings" (Note to self - Janna, even comforting your dog in the middle of the night during storms). We need to exhibit "weird" behavior to the world when things are crumbling around us so that they will be prompted to ask us how we are able to stand through the storms.

Again, why should be "weird" to the unsaved world? "That we may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." (Ph 2:15)

How weird are you?


Water to Wine

To our Ladies Retreat speakers, singers, musicians, helpers and prayer warriors:

You may never read this, but I want everyone to know how thankful I am that you are allowing God to use you. I pray that the impact of your words and efforts, turned from "water to wine" by the power that only God can provide, will move our Grace ladies in a mighty way. Thank you.

----------------------------------------------------------

From my reading some time ago in Anne Graham Lotz's book entitled "Just Give Me Jesus", I came across something she discussed that really shows the power of God to change whatever we do into a glorious work for Him.

Remember Jesus' first miracle where He turned the water into wine at the wedding feast? The servants dipped cups into the water, brought them to the master and wine appeared! Here's a quote from the book and as you read it, think of the "water" we put into our ministries and our lives and the "wine" that will result due to God's work.

"Can you imagine the thrill those servants experienced? It's the same thrill I've experienced again and again as I have climbed down from a pulpit to a standing ovation, acutely conscious of the water I had put into the message - the interrupted prayer time, the scattered thoughts, the flawed outline, the weak delivery - yet the wine flowed out. People responded to the message, lives were changed, and the demonstration of the power of God was evident. No one in the audience knew what this servant knew - that water had gone in, but wine had com out. And as I outwardly lift my hand in praise to God, inwardly I humbly acknowledge what only He and I know - that a quiet miracle has occurred." - Anne Graham Lotz.


As I read the quote then and now, I get goosebumps thinking about what God can do through us if we let Him. Thank You God, for the miracles You provide!


Chosen

What does it mean to be chosen by God? From my reading today in Ezekiel 20, being chosen by God is an awesome thing, but it comes with a price. Throughout this chapter, I get a sense that God is very sad because despite all of the things He did for His chosen people, they still abandoned Him to their idols. Here are some quick thoughts: Being "chosen" means:

1) Being loved by a jealous but loving God who is deeply saddened when His chosen ones don't do what He asks of them.

2) Being blessed beyond what we deserve, just because God loves us.

3) Being obligated to follow God because He chose us for His glory - that others may know that He is God. (1 Cor 6:19-20)

We are all chosen by God to take part in His kingdom because God is not willing that any should perish. However, if we do not accept what He has done for us in the gift of His son, then we will reap the consequences - forever. In Ezekiel, God must pour out His fury upon Israel for His name's sake (Ez 20:8-9) because if He doesn't He will look bad to the other nations because of Israel's behavior. In our lives, not obeying God can mean a couple of things:

1) We never accepted the gift of salvation in the first place and thus we are condemned.

2) We accepted the gift of salvation and spend our lives either serving God or not serving God, each of which have consequences, good and bad. Jesus says to each of us in John 15:16 that:

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm choosing to obey God and live a life of service to Him so He will answer my prayers.


All Things Are Possible

All I can say to start this post is "Wow". Reading through Luke 18 was such a joy to me today. God showed me so many cool stories in this chapter it was hard to pick just one to write about. So, today, I'm giving "Janna's One-Liners" for a few items and then I will expand on one. Here goes.

Parable of the Persistent Praying Widow (v.1-8) - Keep praying and God just might give you what you were begging for.

Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (v. 9-14) - When you hear preaching or read your bible or pray, do it for your benefit, not so you can compare your goodness with someone else's sin. (This one is a personal pet peeve of mine)

Wasn't that fun? Now for the serious part. What must we do to inherit eternal life? That was the question asked of Jesus by a "certain ruler" in Luke 18:18. What must we give up to be sold out for Jesus? The ruler was apparently rich, like so many of us are in this country, or even in Overland Park, because he struggled with giving up all of his possessions to follow Jesus. I can relate to the ruler, as I'm sure we all can at times. We may not struggle with giving up material possessions, but what about our old ways, our time, our recreational activities, our pride or our fears?

It seems like too difficult a task sometimes - that God is expecting too much of us to give up our lives to serve Him. However, Jesus says that "the things which are impossible with men are possible with God." (v27). Our finances, our marriages, our spouses, our work situations, our attitudes or whatever the obstacle is, can be overcome if we ask God for help. To access that power means, however, we must be known by the Savior, saved by His blood.

What a relief! I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! (Ph 4:13). All I need is the faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. How strong is your faith?


Better Is One Day

Today I'm reflecting on a song we will sing tomorrow in our Sunday morning service entitled "Better is One Day" by Matt Redman. My goal is to do these "reflections" on Friday so that anyone who might attend Grace Church on the following Sunday may have a deeper worship experience by being challenged to think more about the songs we sing.


Better is one day in Your courts,
Better is one day in Your house,
Better is one day in Your courts,
Than thousands elsewhere.

Many of us have heard this chorus before. For those of us who love God and are actively pursuing a life of serving Him, I don't think many choruses out there portray the feeling of being "ambassadors for Christ" (2Cor 5:20) quite like this song does. Although there is a cost to leadership and serving God, there is really no place I would rather be, because then my heart is satisfied.

How lovely is Your dwelling place,
O Lord almighty,
For my soul longs and even faints
For You.
For here my heart is satisfied
Within Your presence.
I sing beneath the shadow of
Your wings.

I left the golf course Thursday night and was discussing this concept with a fellow sister in Christ. The closer I get to God, the more out of place I feel here amidst our materialistic, pleasure driven society - the more I feel like an "ambassador".

My heart and flesh cry out
For You, the living God.
Your Spirit’s water
to my soul.
I’ve tasted and I’ve seen.
Come once again to me.
I will draw near to You, I will draw near to You, to You.

There is so much more to life than the pleasures of this world and it makes me sad because I don't think that the majority of people out there realize what they are missing. How do we disentangle ourselves enough from the affairs of this world so that we can make an impact and still stay in the world where we can make an impact? What a "war" we are in. Unfortunately I believe that most of the battle is within ourselves. We, as Christians, need to remember that this world is not our home.
Questions to think about:
1) Where is my heart...really? Am I already "home"?
2) Is the Holy Spirit like water to my soul?
3) Have I "tasted" and "seen" the fulfillment of being in God's presence and of serving Him?
2 Timothy 2:4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with
the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (NKJV)


Dogs Do Not Have Sound Minds

Yes, in case you didn't get it from the title, my post today was inspired by my oldest "child", a 12-year-old, Shihtzu. People that know me well understand that I just love thunderstorms because they so exhibit the power of God. However, when I am trying to sleep and would normally be sleeping through them (I am a very sound sleeper) except for the fact that my dog is scared out of her mind, I am not enjoying them very much. Especially when the disturbance occurs from 3:30am to 5:30am.

My poor "baby" Jessie. She was so scared, but all I could do was be mad at her for waking and keeping me up last night during the storms. Jessie did not know that she was safe inside the house with me and that the storms couldn't hurt her. I think it was about 4:30am or so when this verse came to my mind and I realized that my poor scared dog really couldn't help it that she didn't understand.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

My dog does not have a sound mind. I wonder at times, how much of a mind dogs really have, but that is a story for a different day. Fortunately, God did give us, as His children, a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. The closer we are to God and the more we can step back and take our emotions and ourselves out of the picture, the more of these attributes we are able to possess. I know from experience that it takes practice.

Finally, I did learn a lesson from this morning/last night:

One must have compassion even if one is tired and is frustrated with "someone" (even a fuzzy someone) who is going through a tough time.

Verses to meditate on:

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. - Romans 15:1