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December 2005

Hidden Treasure

Good afternoon, dear readers!  I feel that my posts have been erratic (time of day) of late, and I apologize for that.  I've been burdened about what to share today and God finally gave it to me.  Let's just say, that you will be blessed not to hear of more strange visions out of Zechariah.

I attended a Beth Moore bible study this morning, The Patriarchs, and it is a tiny portion of the lesson that I want to share with you.  We're studying the story of Joseph in Genesis 43 and it is about the time that Jacob's sons went to Egypt and met up with their brother, Joseph.   In Genesis 43:23, they were "caught" with silver in their pouches (Joseph's steward placed it there, read the story for more details) and were probably afraid for their lives. 

To get to the point, there is nothing like God's providence to bring about "treasure" from circumstances in our lives.  In the study, p. 210, Beth Moore says the following:

"Beloved, I don't know what kind of circumstances this season of your life poses, but could they be worse than those Jacob's sons perceived?  They could hardly experience deeper peril or greater risk, yet God's providence was in perfect play.  In the midst of His unfolding plan, He'd buried treasures for them to unearth at times they least expected.  Do you feel in deep peril?  At great risk?  Your God...has given you treasure.  Search for it."

Are you going through a difficult season in your life?  The year 2005 has been that for me.  Although a rough roller coaster ride at times, I still have managed to see the "treasure" God has placed there for me.  God will bless us if we just hang on long enough and don't bail out before He gives us that blessing.

What treasure has God left for you, buried in your life's "rubble"?


God is With Us

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed like it was too big for you to handle but you know that you are the one to handle it?  This could be related to home, work, ministry or just about anywhere.  What do you do?  Procrastination comes to my mind.  Paralysis by analysis.

I like the exhortation by God in Haggai 2:4-5.  There was work do - remember that God's temple was in ruins - and the people were apparently not working.  Perhaps they weren't working because of fear or hopelessness. At any rate, look what God says:

'Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,' says the LORD; 'and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,' says the LORD, 'and work; for I am with you,' says the LORD of hosts. According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!' (Haggai 2:4-5 NKJV)

Get to work.  Do not fear...says the LORD.  Okay, okay, okay.  :)  Isn't it awesome that God never forgets His promises to His people?  God made a covenant with the Hebrews approximately 800 years (Ex 29:45-46)before Haggai was even noticed, he remembered it and honored it even though the nation of Israel had not remembered Him.  What a loyal God we serve.

God is with us, always (Mt 28:20).   He will never leave or forsake us (He 13:5).  And...he keeps His promises.  So, I need to just quit complaining, quit crying, quit whining and quit procrastinating and get to His work!  :)

Okay, you've heard what God is telling me, what is He saying to you?  What "work" do you need to do?: 

'Yet now be strong, _____________,' says the LORD; 'and be strong, ____________, ...; and be strong, all you people of the land,' says the LORD, 'and work; for I am with you,' says the LORD of hosts. According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!'


You Can Borrow Mine

Last week I bought the Bebo Norman CD, "Try" and have been listening to it.  This week, I noticed a song on that CD that really spoke to me about the importance of friendships, specifically those that are built upon a shared relationship with God.  The song is entitled "Borrow Mine" and speaks of being a friend offering a "hand" to another that is down. Here is the chorus:

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone

Borrow mine
When you can't go on

Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side

When your faith is hard to find
Borrow mine

Have you ever been down and tired of praying for the "same old thing" and had to "borrow" someone else's faith?  Have you offered your faith to a friend in need?  Life is too tough sometimes to rough it alone and having our Christian brothers and sisters praying for us will get us through. I know they have come through for me.

My favorite passage on friendship is in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. 

9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

God makes our cord of friendship a threefold cord when we involve Him in it.  What a blessing we can be to others lending out our faith for a time to a brother or sister in need.  Lord, thank You for friends and thank You for being my perfect, loyal friend.


Consider Your Ways

Alternate title: "How is Your House?"

Have you ever read a book of the bible and thought to yourself "I've never seen this passage before."?  My reading in Haggai was one of those times. I sure hope I'm not the only one who has read through the bible numerous times but can say that.  If so, I better just sign off now.  :) 

God is very concerned in Haggai chapter 1 about two things:  1) The condition of His house, and 2) The spiritual condition of His people.  God's temple was lying in ruins while the people were only concerned with making their own homes as plush as possible (Haggai 1:4).  Hear what God says about this:

Now therefore, thus says the LORD Of hosts: "Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages earns wages to put into a bag with holes."(Haggai 1:5-6)

Do you see any similarities to the world we live in?  I know that I do.  The things of this world do not satisfy, yet we continually strive for more of those things while neglecting God's "house" - our spiritual well-being.  Material possessions aren't bad, exercise/fitness isn't bad, hobbies/activities (ours or our kids) aren't bad & recreational activities aren't bad in and of themselves.   However, our society, especially in the Unites States where we have so much wealth, runs at such a fast and active pace that we are constantly challenged to find our time with God.  Should we consider OUR ways?

Things I need to think about:

1) What are my priorities, really?  What do my actions say that my priorities are?

2) Do my actions, and thus my priorities, line up with my life's mission? (NOTE: If you don't have a personal mission statement, it is very beneficial to help prioritize things)


Are You Thankful?

Once again, dear readers, you are getting a "sneak preview" if you will, of my "letter" appearing in our Women's Ministry monthly newsletter.   Gentlemen, don't worry, I don't think that all of this is too girly for you.  Hang in there with me for today! :)  Happy reading to all!

Dear readers (okay, I changed this from "Ladies", just for the men),

The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner. Can you believe it? Funny thing about it though, is that I never appreciated how much work went into all of the preparations of the meal until I started doing it myself. Interestingly enough, I became much more thankful for those hands that prepared all of my childhood Thanksgiving meals! Can anyone else relate?

The holiday has a new meaning for me now. I still remember the pilgrims, but amidst the hustle and bustle of hosting the meal, I try to reflect on all of the blessings (even the ones in disguise) that God has given me. What are you thankful for? What should you be thankful for?

Did you know that the word "thankful" is first mentioned in our NKJV bibles in Psalms 100:4? "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." As I read this verse, I wonder how many times I enter into His "gates" in prayer without first thanking Him for all of the things He is to me and does for me.

We all have at least one thing for which to be thankful. God so loved us that He gave us His son so that we, His creation, could receive eternal life. (John 3:16) Whether we believe or don’t believe in Him, the fact remains that God gave the greatest gift ever given in the history of the world to you and to me. Wow. When was the last time you gave God thanks?

I have a challenge for each of you this month. For each complaint you have, stop and think about how even it can be the result of a blessing. For instance, if your job is getting you down you could think, "Well, at least I’m thankful that I have a job to complain about". If your thought is "I’m just overwhelmed by all of the people in my house for the holidays", be thankful that you have friends and family around to overwhelm you. Are you up for the challenge? I’m going to try it.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

In Him,

Janna

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift. (2 Cor 9:15)


Woman at the Well

Can you imagine going about your daily routine and entering into a "chance" meeting with the Savior of the world?   This happened to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well in John 4.   I absolutely love the dialogue that took place between the two of them. The story of her encounter with Jesus, is not so different from ours.  Just as Jesus approached her, He pursues us until we finally know enough information about Him to make a choice whether to accept Him or not.  These were some things that I gleaned from the story:

  1. Jesus is our pursuer.  He didn't wait to be spoken to. (John 4:7)
  2. Jesus is patient.  He was God, yet He answered with patience (although with vintage Jesus parables) the questions of a sincere seeker.
  3. One person led to a personal relationship with Jesus can change the hearts of many (John 4:39).
  4. Nothing happens by chance.  The Samaritan woman was part of God's plan to reach many people for Him.

Isn't it amazing that just one voice, ours perhaps, can accomplish great things through the power of our God?  He can and He will.   All we need to do is open our mouths.

 


Once Again

God has made my blog so easy to write because I could spend all the days of my life writing about what He has to say and I would never be finished.  How can one ever finish a "commentary" on a work that is "alive"?  Whoa.  My bible is definitely the best love letter I've ever read, written by the One who saved my soul.

Today's post is not going to be as heavy in scripture as usual, but is inspired by Anneliese's blog, "Tea Time", a blog I read regularly.  From what I've seen, she shares my passion: To share with others how devotion to God's Word can empower us to live changed lives for God.  Please check out one of my favorite posts of hers, "How Desperate Are You? ... I couldn't have said it any better! 

How do we get desperate for more of Jesus?  By thinking upon His sacrifice and His gift of life to us.  I am blessed to be able to play the piano and sing music to God, and I took some time tonight before my husband got home to sing to Him.  Tonight, I played and prayed the song "Once Again" by Matt Redman.  The song never fails to bring tears to my eyes.  I hope that although you can't hear the music here, the words might touch your soul as you think of God's sacrifice. 

ONCE AGAIN

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times I've wondered at Your gift of life
And I'm in that place once again
I'm in that place once again

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
I'm humbled by Your mercy and I'm broken inside
Once again I thank You
Once again I pour out my life

Now You are exalted to the highest place
King of the heavens where one day I'll bow
But for now, I marvel at Your saving grace
And I'm full of praise once again
I'm full of praise once again

Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my Friend


Lukewarm

Another day, another minor prophet.  As I make my way through the final books of the old testament, I'm continually reading about forecasts of doom and gloom followed by promises of hope to those who repent.  To those of you who have taken this journey with me, I hope you have seen that while we are seeing the harsh but necessary side of God, that you are also seeing that judgment breaks His heart.

Today I read the book of Zephaniah, and as I read I noticed the following verse (a word from God) that I think exemplifies most church goers today:

Zephaniah 1:12 (NKJV) And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, 'The LORD will not do good, nor will He do evil.

God's people were settled in complacency and assuming that God is just out there somewhere passively watching what is going on.  Do you know or people like this in your church?  Are you one of them?  What do you really think that a God who gave His Son's life for mankind is thinking when He sees so many people that refuse to get involved in His work?

God is very serious in His word about us being "lukewarm" for Him.  In the book of Revelation, chapter 3, He states clearly his distaste for it.  There is so much work to be done.   We Christians have the answer, not the quick fix, to helping people overcome any problem they might have.  We have hope to give by putting a hurting person's hand in the hand of Jesus, one person at a time. 

TO THINK ABOUT: 

1) Am I a benchwarmer Christian?  If so, what can I do to get myself into the game?

2) If I'm in the "game", what can I do to get others into the game?


Hinds' Feet

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk 3:19)

Whenever I read this verse I think about the book "Hinds' Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard. In my opinion, it is a must read.  An allegory about a Much-Afraid, a cripple, who escaped from her relatives to go with the Shepherd to the High Places...a place where "perfect love casteth out fear".

This verse is a wonderful promise of God to make us into what He wants us to become.  Let's break it down.

The LORD God is my strength ... - Do I rely on God enough when I am strong or do I wait until I am spent before I turn to Him?   He will bring me up out of the valley. (Ps 27:1, 14)

And he will make my feet ... How do I think he "makes"anything?  Trials and tribulations, that's how.  After all, I know I can't twitch my nose and make things happen!  :)  Ro 5:3-5

Like hinds' feet ... God will make us surefooted on the "rocks and cliffs" of our lives.  We will be fearless wonders if we trust in Him! 2 Tim 1:7

And he will make me ... We cry "You can't make me, you can't make me"!  But YES, He can and yes, He will.  God will gives us the abilities to do all He calls us to do!  James 1:2-4

To walk upon mine high places.  What is my high place?  Not my husband's high place or my friends' high place, or my pastor's high place, but mine.  2 Sam 22:33-34

Can you see the richness in this verse? Your "high place" may be ministering to your family, courage in your church ministry or a career issue.  Whatever the situation, God promises to give us the strength, the courage and the ability to press on for His glory. 


God of Wonders

GOD OF WONDERS ... a reflection on God's perfection.

I thank God that He is perfect.  Perfectly good.  Perfectly just.  If He wasn't can you imagine how scary our lives would be knowing that He was "lurking" around every corner of the universe with His jealousy intact because His people constantly put other "gods" before Him?   God is truly a God of Wonders. 

Lord of all creation, of water, earth and sky
The heavens are Your tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on high

Usually when I sing this song I'm not thinking about God's sovereignty.  I'm not thinking about Him being good in that way.  So good that He isn't carrying around all that power on a trip!  Since we need to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) let's focus on the truth.

  1. God is jealous (Nahum 1:2)
  2. God is just and slow to anger (Nahum 1:3)
  3. God is powerful (Nahum 1:4)

God is so awesome that the heavens have to be His tabernacle!  Glory to our Lord on high.  He is Lord over the heaven and the earth, not to mention the rest of the galaxy.  I don't even think I'm "lord" to my dogs! :)  How is that for perspective?

God of wonders beyond our galaxy,
You are holy, holy.
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy.
Lord of heaven and earth, Lord of heaven and earth.

Psalm 19 talks about the heavens declaring the glory of God.  It also mentions his perfect judgment in verse 9:  "...the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  As I mentioned before, I am so thankful that He is so perfect and longsuffering to us.  Thankfully, His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts.  God's power is safe with God.

Finally, our God is so mindful of what I am doing in spite of all of His other "Lordly" duties, that when I'm down and in the darkness, I know that I can still call on Him for help.  Wonderful love.

Early in the morning, I will celebrate the light
When I stumble in the darkness, I will call your name by night.

Do you call His name by "night"?  Do you celebrate His name by "day"?  I try. 

NOTE: God of Wonders was written by Marc Byrd and Steve Hindalong