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November 2005
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January 2006

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

Have you ever had such wonderful news about an event that just happened and couldn't contain yourself with all of the excitement?  Can you imagine how excited the angels were as they were proclaiming the biggest event in the history of the world as they knew it?  Follow along with me as I reflect on my favorite Christmas song, "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing".

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled."

Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"

When you hear this song on the radio or at church do you sing it as a "vain repetition" because it is so familiar or do you sing it afresh as the angels did 2000 years ago as they proclaimed the coming of the King?  We have a chance to sing the gospel in this song!  Let's make a joyful noise as we commemorate our Saviour's birth!

Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I'll skip the second verse of the song, not because it isn't important, but because I don't think any of you want to be reading all day!  :)  The third verse of the song is my favorite because of what it means to me personally.  When I imagine Jesus in His humanity as a baby...a BABY..., I am so overwhelmed by the fact that Jesus left a home in heaven, to become one of the most helpless creatures on earth - and He did it for me. (Phi 2:7-9) I don't even like leaving my home for a tent to camp!  He left heaven for you and for me.  Let's get back to the song, shall we?

Hail the heav'n born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"

Friends, this song is declaring the fulfilled prophecy of God sending His Son as a gift to the world that through Him we may have everlasting life.  We should be so moved by these words that we can't help but sing our hearts out.  He was born and died that we may live!

He 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil.

Hark! the herald angels sing.  Let the world hear us sing because...

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

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


The Day of Pentecost

Can you imagine going to church one Sunday morning (pretend that your church is one of the large ones) sitting and being a part of the following scene?

Acts 2:2-3 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (NKJV)

Let's just say that I hope we would be holding on to our coffee/tea cups, soft drink cups or whatever we were drinking! Not only would it be wild but also a mess!  Can you imagine the site of this?  I can't say that I can, and right now, I'm glad that I received the Holy Spirit in a much quieter manner - but that is just me.

Anyway, my thoughts about this day in the book of Acts aren't really about the tongues spoken or the fire and wind, but the fact that this was the first time the Holy Spirit filled people to empower them to preach the gospel to the world.  How awesome that as Christians, we still have access to that power today through the Holy Spirit inside of us.

Jesus told us much about the Holy Spirit in John 16.  We are told that the Holy Spirit will:

1) Convict us of sin (v8-9)

2) Teach us (v26, 16:13-15)

3) Intercede in prayer for us (Ro 8:26-27, Eph 2:18)

4) Comfort us (John 14:15-18)

Why then, do so many Christians feel powerless in their lives?  Because they don't let the Holy Spirit get hold of them completely.  It is said often that we have all of the Holy Spirit we will ever get; we just need to let Him have all of us.  Are you letting Him have control of your thoughts and actions?  It is hard and it takes work, but it is so worth it.   I challenge you today to have one more conversation with God than you did yesterday.  Then the next day, take another step.  Are you up for it?  I guarantee it will be worth it.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.


Are You a "Twin"?

Are you a twin?  When you consider scripture, I think that we all are at times.  Let me explain.

In my reading a few days ago I came across something in scripture that I had really never seen before because I hadn't taken the time to study it out.  I've read the KJV most of my life, however recently, I've been reading a NKJV study bible alongside my KJV.  Lo and behold, I learned something new.  Did you know that the word "Didymus" means "twin"?  (John 11:16, 20:24, 21:2)  If you didn't before now, don't feel bad.

Why would the people who knew Thomas call him a twin?  Because he, as most of us do, have a split personality when it comes to believing in and trusting God's plan for our lives.  Thomas constantly struggled between what he wanted to believe versus what Jesus told him. You might say that Thomas was somewhat of a pessimist.  Consider the following:

John 11:16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. - Thomas was such a downer here.  He was assuming they would die from persecution on their journey to visit dead Lazarus.

John 14:5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? - Once again, Doubting Thomas raises his little head.

How do you want to be known?  If I was a biological twin, it would be kind of cool to be known as twin.  However, I want to be known for my steadfast faith in God and His promises to me.  The only way to be strong in my faith is to be faithful in putting God's word into my mind every day. 

I believe that we can put on all of the Christian "armor" we want, but if we don't have faith, we will turn and run when the going gets tough - armor and all.   Above all, put on the shield of faith (Eph 6:16).  See you in the battle!


The Perfect Gift

Hello readers, once again I'm going to post my "letter" to the ladies in our church that appeared in the December issue of our newsletter.  Gentlemen, please don't tune out, because as you know, God's wisdom relates to us all.  I'll again change my salutation for you.  :)

Dear Readers,

With the Christmas shopping season now in full swing many of us spend countless hours trying to find that perfect gift for our loved ones. How do you know what to buy and what determines how much you spend? To me, the answer to that question is determined by my relationship to the person for whom I am buying. The better I know a person, the easier it is to buy for them.

How do you feel when you think about how God gave us the perfect gift? He gave us exactly what we needed, when we needed it. After all, the bible says that every perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17). What will you give the ones you love as a gift this year for Christmas? What will you give the One who owns everything? What will you give to Jesus?

Jesus doesn’t need anything, but He wants our love and obedience to Him. To me, that is a hard present to give. After all, I’ve yet to find “obedience” at the mall. I was reminded today in my daily reading how in John 21:15-17, Jesus asked Simon Peter three times if he loved Him. Jesus was trying to drive home the following point: “If you love Me, feed My sheep”. In other words, He just wanted Simon Peter to do what He asked.

How can we do what He asks and give Jesus His perfect gift, if we hardly know Him? Jesus is the Word made flesh that dwelt among us (John 1:14) and the depth of our relationship with Him is directly proportional to how much and how frequently we read our bibles. Many people struggle with making time to get to know Him in this way, so if I’m speaking to you, you are not alone.

Here are some practical tips to help you get to know Jesus better through His Word.

· Do your bible reading before you do anything else in the day.

· Keep a journal of your daily reading.

· Find a friend who is also needing help staying faithful and make it a team effort.

· Join a Bible study.

Dear Ones, I want more than anything for you to give Jesus His perfect gift. In the process of giving Him that gift, I assure you that you will be blessed as well. I wish you all a very blessed Christmas!

In Him, 

Janna


Jesus' Prayer for Us

Have I mentioned before that I just love the gospel of John?  Well, I just LOVE the gospel of John.  Hearing the writer tell the story of Jesus' life in a way that exalts Him as God is probably why it is  my favorite, aside from all of the promises to us that are presented.

In my last post concerning John 15, I mentioned the promises Jesus makes to us regarding His answers to our prayers.  We should boldly ask of Him things that we know are in His will because He said He will give them to us! 

In John 17, we come to my favorite intercessory prayer in all of scripture.  Why is it my favorite?  Because it is all about me.  :) Are you smiling?  It is all about you too - if you are a believer, that is.  Jesus prays to his Father, God, many things for us.  In the verse below, WE are the "them" that have believed on Jesus many generations down the line through the apostles words.  Check it out:

John 17: 20 Neither I pray for these alone,but for them also which shall believe on me through their word:

How does it make you feel that Jesus, the Creator of the universe and Savior of the world has and is praying for you? Do you think that the Father answers His prayers?  You bet He does! 

Jesus prayed for us many things in this passage, including the following:

1) Unity, that the world may believe in Jesus. (v 21)

2) Glory, for unity in God's vision. (v 22)

3) Home, in heaven with Jesus. (v24)

Basically, we have no excuse in this world as followers of Jesus to feel powerless over our circumstances.  God wants us to reach this world for Him and has given us wonderful gifts through Jesus' prayer to accomplish His purpose.  Don't you think that Jesus is still praying this prayer for you now? Don't you think He is relaying all of our prayers to God?  Jesus is the Greatest Intercessor! Ask away!


Attached to the Vine

As some of you may know, I love poetry, symbolism, and other means of communication that really make a person have to think about what they have just heard, seen or read.  In John 15, we get such imagery.  This time, Jesus is telling His followers that they are like branches, part of the "true vine" (who is Jesus), and that God is the husbandman or the keeper of the vineyard.  Those who abide in the vine, are fruitful and those who don't wither and die.  (John 15:1-8)

What does this mean to us?  Fellow brethren and sistren - is "sistren" a word? I couldn't resist -, in order to have plentiful lives for Christ, we must spend time with Him.  So many times, we get caught up in doing things for God that we don't spend time being with God.  As Jesus says in John 15:5:

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

Without God we can do nothing.   Okay, not literally.  People that don't know God at all can go to work, eat, sleep and raise their families.   But think about how easy it is to get burnt out when when we rely on our own strength and wisdom to get by?  We just get by.  Do you want to just get by or do you want to do great things for God?  Without God, we can do nothing of eternal worth, which is what living a life for Him is all about, isn't it?

I don't know about you, but I want to live a fruitful, power-filled life for God that can impact my little piece of the world for His kingdom.  I'm guaranteed that He will help me because He wants me to do it!  He wants the same for each of you as well.  In closing, please consider the following as promises of God - straight from the lips of Jesus.

1) If we develop a strong, life-sustaining relationship with Jesus, He will answer our prayers for a fruitful life.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask whatye will, and it shall be done unto you.

2) God wants us to be productive and fruitful.  Remember, _____________ (your name), the Creator of the universe chose YOU!

John 15:16 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 ashall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

What promises we have in the One who saved our souls.  May we all strive to have more of His mind each day.  Amen.


Do You Love Jesus?

What self-proclaiming Christian would say "no" to the question "Do You Love Jesus?" I would bet every Christian asked would say "yes" to this question.  Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:21 that "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me." (NKJV)  Yet, I wonder how many of us really love Jesus as He says we ought to. 

Do you remember the story of Simon Peter and how He was asked by Jesus about his love for Him?  Consider the following passage:

John 21:15-17

15So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

I wonder what Jesus would say to me in response to my feeble answers to His  questions.  Have you ever thought of that?  Jesus is so patient with us.  He asks us the same question and corrects our replies time and time again, just as He did with Simon Peter.  Am I "feeding His sheep?"  Do I love Him or just like Him?

Looking back at my reading this morning in the verse of John 14:21, I must conclude the following about loving Jesus:

1) To love Jesus, we must keep His commandments, not just get caught up in the emotions of a touching worship service or the warm fuzzy feeling we may get from doing our favorite ministry.  We must do what Jesus commands, even if it isn't the funnest or easiest thing on our list.

2) To love Jesus by keeping His commandments, we must have His commandments.  The only way to know them is to read them every day.  Face it.  There is too much to learn and remember from God's Word if we rely on our past memory or only get our learning from what we get from others.

So, as always, when I ask myself these questions, I'm asking you too, "How much do you love Jesus?"  Only you and God know the answer to this one.


Whiter Than Snow

"Come now, and let us reason together, " Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. - Isaiah 1:18

Is there anything whiter than snow?  Anything?  Think about it.  I love snow.  Matter of fact, last night around 9:00PM when I realized that we were going to get another 4 inches on top of the 5 we already had, I couldn't resist playing "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow" on my piano!  :)  Did I mention that I love snow?

It wasn't until several years ago that I started looking at snow through "spiritual glasses".  Aside from enjoying the beauty of each individual snowflake piling up on the ground to form a sparkly carpet, I now look at it as a wonderful picture of God's clothing of righteousness to all who believe in Him.  As our Lord says in Isaiah 1:18, our sins can be made white as snow by the blood of Jesus.  Like the snow that covers the ground completely, allowing no dirt to show through, so can we be seen by God if we believe on His Son for salvation and confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9).  How comforting to know that no matter what we have done or where we have been, we can start afresh and pure with his cleansing.  God has promised it to us.

White as snow...as snow.  Pure white as the view of a snow covered street, rooftop, or field.  God's wonderful grace can cover us all as snow covers everything in its reach completely.  We can sparkle in His glory!


The Mummy Lives

John 11. The story of Lazurus being raised from the dead.  I can relate to Mary and Mary, sisters of sick and dying Lazarus in this chapter.  I imagine that this was the quick view from their perspective:

  1. Their brother, Lazarus, was dying. (John 11:1)
  2. Jesus was summoned, but was taking His sweet time getting there to help. (John 11:6)
  3. Mary and Martha blamed Jesus for Lazarus' death. (John 11:21,32)

Does anyone remember from our trip through Ezekiel what God's main purpose is in all that He does?  He wants us to see His glory so that we will know that He is God. Remember that His thoughts are not our thoughts.  Duh...If Jesus was like us, upon hearing the news about His friend Lazarus, He would have gone into frenzy trying to get there to fix the problem!  :)  Instead, Jesus chats with His disciples, and takes two days to finally get to Lazarus.  Once He gets there, Jesus merely speaks and our mummified, smelly Lazarus is raised from the dead!  Wow.

When I think of the things going on in my own life and waiting on God's timing, I should think about how God is working things out on His timing for a glory all His own.  What better things - better than my feeble mind can imagine - will be done for Him in my life if I just wait for Him to work things out?  What a concept.  Can anyone else relate?

If Lazarus hadn't died from Jesus' delay, Jesus wouldn't have had the opportunity to perform His greatest miracle to date.   Think of how many people wouldn't have become believers, had Martha and Mary had their way.  Remember that everything is in God's hands.  He knows the big picture.


Endings...and Beginnings

Do you like endings?  Endings of friendships, small groups, seasons of life, lives?  Even though each ending often signifies a new beginning in our lives, endings are always hard to take.  Have you ever wondered why you don't like endings?  God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecc 3:11) and thus since eternity dwells there, we can't help it but to think that endings are sad.  I've had some endings in my life this year, all of which I've found myself saddened by to different degrees.  However, I cling to the hope that God knows what He is doing after all and have managed after the fog cleared to see some good beginnings peaking through the clouds.

In today's post, I'm going to quote a passage out of my favorite book of the bible, Ecclesiastes.  I affectionately call this passage my "Beatles" song verses (for the record, I'm not even a big Beatles fan).  God has a purpose for us in this vapor of life we are living.  We just need to seek Him to find it.  What parts of your life fit into this passage?  Can God have them?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein  he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hat given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.