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December 2005
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February 2006

Eye hath not seen

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

This verse is music to my ears.  First of all, it applies to me because I do love God.  I'm sure that there are minutes of every day (hopefully not too many) where it doesn't appear that I do, but I am doing the best that I can.  I do love God and am trying to earn that blessed compliment "Well done, good and faithful servant".

I wonder what this verse means entirely.  I know that God has some marvelous things prepared for me, and you too, but what are they?  So how awesome is heaven really going to be?  How enjoyable is my future on earth going to be if I keep doing as He asks?  Only God knows. 

Should we muse about what God has prepared for us?  Absolutely.  Focusing on the good things that God has prepared for us is never a bad thing.  In fact, it may help us overcome our current problems.  This reminds me of some of the Christmas presents I got as a kid - the ones I didn't ask for.  My mom and dad knew what I would like (sometimes) better than I did.  God is no different, although He is never mistaken in what we would like best.  So, I'm wondering again, what could it be that I will receive from my heavenly Father that I've never seen nor heard of and can't even imagine?  The wonders of God just blow my mind.

Friends, remember God's promise for you.  Someday will come the end of all suffering and pain, poverty and loneliness.   Those of us who love God will have more than we can ever imagine.  Now that is something to dwell on! :)

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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.


Foolish or not?

"I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is." - Forrest Gump
_____

What if all of us were as smart as Forrest Gump?  Seriously.  Forrest may not have been a smart man, but I bet to God he was a genius.  I love his innocence, untainted by worldly intelligence.  What would the world be like if everyone was like Forrest?

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty: (1 Cor 1:27)

Do you think you are wise?  Think again.  I used to think I was wise, but the more I get to know who God is, the less I think of myself.  God is so cool in that He thinks so different than me.  To God, the foolish are wise, the weak are strong and the poor are rich.  How incredible!  What if we never get over our own foolishness?

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)

If we never get over our foolishness and believe the unbelievable (namely, Jesus' resurrection for our sins) we will first of all perish and second, never have the power of God.   Oh, the power of God to those who believe!

I thank Him for saving me from a literal hell through my belief in Him, but I also thank Him for the power He gives me in my life to overcome the obstacles and strongholds that try to bring me down.  I don't like being a fool, but I will gladly be a fool for Him.  Won't you?


NOTE: I had, at least in my mind, a more eloquent post than this prepared.  Somehow, my computer locked up and I had to rewrite.  Needless to say, I was devastated when I lost my work.   Maybe that was God's way of showing me that my best work is not necessarily what He wants me to say.


Let My Words Be Few

"God's holiness silences human boasting." - Max Lucado, "Its Not About Me"


"Sometimes I just have to remember that God is God and I am not". I had lunch with a couple of friends Friday and this comment came up from one of them regarding some things that had been happening in her life. How true, huh? So when I saw that we were going to be singing Matt Redman's "Let My Words Be Few" this coming Sunday, I just had to smile. Before I go any further, let's take a look at the words to the song:


LET MY WORDS BE FEW
by Matt and Beth Redman

You are God in heaven
And here am I on earth
So I'll let my words be few
Jesus, I am so in love with You

And I'll stand in awe of You, Jesus
Yes, I'll stand in awe of You
And I'll let my words be few
Jesus, I am so in love with You

The simplest of all love songs
I want to bring to You
So I'll let my words be few
Jesus, I am so in love with You


God is God and we are not, therefore, we shouldn't really have anything to say, right?  Why is it that we always feel the need to make ourselves look important?  I wish I knew the answer to that!

Ecc 5:2 says "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."  What a reminder of our place in this world.  Do we really think we can figure every thing out on our own?  Should we even waste our time trying?  We should be so in love with Jesus that we just sit in silence before Him, hanging on His every word.

How much in awe are you of God?

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Ro 12:33-34)

I believe that Matthew Henry's commentary compares man counselling God to lighting a match next to the sun.  We don't really have anything to offer.  Just as the sun doesn't need the match, God doesn't need our advice.  We just need to accept that He has everything under control and give Him the gift of our love in reverent silence.

God is in heaven and I am a little speck on earth.  I get it.


Burden Carriers

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


How many times do we complain (even if it is in our own minds) at work, at home, at school or anywhere else that "so-and-so" isn't pulling their weight? How many times have you said "That's his or her job, not mine."?  I bet we all "complain" more often than we care to admit.

Do you remember when Jesus said that to whom much was given,  much was required?  That applies to each one of us and sometimes that requirement is that we sacrifice some of our time to help someone else who is less gifted than us.  I can't count how many times as a manager in the corporate world I have tried to explain this concept to my subordinates. 

Okay, so now we understand that God wants us to carry the weak, so to speak, should we do our good deeds begrudgingly?  As Paul likes to say, God forbid.  We need to cheerfully give (God likes that) of our time, talents, and treasures and put all complaining aside.

1 Peter 4:9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Don't you just love it when God smacks you over the head with His word?  I was reminded of the verse 1 Peter 4:9 about a month ago.  I don't even remember how God brought it up, but I needed the reminder.  God is good.  So, is God telling you anything today?


Just Hold On

For all of you readers who are going through a dark time, this post is for you.  I'm not going to tell you that your troubles will soon be over, but I can tell you that God wants to bless you through it because He has something in mind for you.  That, I know.

Last week in my Beth Moore bible study "Patriarchs" we discussed Jacob and his wrestling match with God.  I'm going to share with you some truths from the video related to session 6 and as always, I pray that what I share touches your heart and provides you hope.  Here we go! (Note: items in bold/quotes are directly from Beth Moore's video viewing guide, session 6).

In Genesis 32:24-32, we are eyewitnesses to Jacob's wrestling match alone and in the dark with the stranger who turned out to be God Himself.   Keep in mind that previously Jacob had just found out that he would be facing his brother Esau, of whom he was very much afraid.  Jacob had sent his family ahead of him and had gotten alone to pray in this night before the impending encounter with Esau when we find him in v. 24.

PRINCIPLE #1:  "We are who we are without our gang and our game." (Ge 32:24). 

This story, as Beth Moore puts it, is about an "honest fight".  As Jacob was alone with God that night, he was facing God as he truly was, not who he was when he was around other people with his game face on.  Who are you really

PRINCIPLE #2: "Sometimes in the dark of our night seasons, we don't know with whom we're struggling until the light begins to dawn."

Read the above principle one more time.  Have you been there?  Are you there right now?  Jacob wrestled in the dark with God Himself and didn't realize with whom He was fighting until daybreak.  It takes a long time of self analysis to see that sometimes we are really struggling with God, doesn't it?  I have found that most times in my "night seasons" that the issue might not be the other person or situation that I am fighting.  The core issue behind the problem was some part of my personality that God wanted to change for His glory.

PRINCIPLE #3: "In every struggle do not let go until the blessing comes."

In verse 26, Jacob states that he is not letting go until God blessed him.  My first reaction to this statement was that Jacob was being pretty demanding.  However, consider this.  Jacob had been fighting all night long and at least wanted something good to come out of his efforts.  Friends, this so applies to us.   We know that God wants to change us and that He wants to conform us to the image of His Son.  We know that God changes us through His purifying "fire" in the trials of our lives.  If we give up before we get what He wants to give us, what then was all of the fighting for?  Keep on keepin' on.  God has great plans for all of us!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

1) Keep looking for what God wants you to learn from your difficulties.  He has something He wants to teach you.

2) God wants us to be overcomers.  Jacob got a new name and so will we someday.  (Rev 2:17).  What if we believed God enough to let Him make us totally new?


Teamwork II

For years I have had the following question in my mind: "Who mentors the mentors?"  Where is the "support group" for our leaders who spend countless hours pouring themselves out to others?  What happens when that support group is not in place?  Being in a position of influence can be a lonely place.  It is no wonder that Paul said the following in his letter to the church in Rome:

"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.  That is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.  (Romans 1:11-12)

Paul was anxious to visit his fellow laborers because he desired to help them in some way by using one of his spiritual gifts.  In addition, he knew he would be encouraged by them when he saw how faithful they were.  Interestingly enough, I came across the above passage in my daily reading last week before I had a couple of planning meetings.  I was reminded then how much I was blessed by getting together with a group of like-minded leaders.

Tonight's meeting was different.  I held a meeting tonight for the ladies at my church who lead our women's only small groups.  The meeting's purpose was twofold: 1) To provide vision and 2) To provide a sense of belonging to my faithful group leaders.  We hear too often the importance of vision, for without it "the people perish" (Pr 28:18).  How often though is our own need to be part of a team stressed?  How often do we provide training and support for our leaders?  I believe that too often we neglect ourselves because it always seems that there is too much to do.  We get so busy pouring out of ourselves that we don't take the time to fill back up.

So I guess my point is this.  No matter what is going on in our crazy worlds, we must not cease to be shepherds to our leadership.  We must keep building up these faithful ones so that they can remain strong for the battle that rages on continually.  Together we all can remain strong.


The Work of God's Hand

But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. - Isaiah 64:8


I'm not sure exactly how I got to the above verse from Romans 10, but I am here nonetheless.  (Aside: If I get this post done with my sweet little dog barking his fool head off, it will be nothing short of a miracle).  Did you notice the last phrase of this verse? We all are the work of God's hand.  Think on that a minute.  What does that mean to you personally?

I think that most of us have heard about how God is the potter and we are the clay.  What stands out to me is that I am the work of God's hand.  Do you remember what God thought in the beginning?

Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

We are all the work of God's hand. God's.  All of us are - not just our best friend, our neighbor, our mentor, favorite bible teacher or our spouse. He has created each one of us to be all that He needs to finish His work here on earth.  Sometimes we are like soft clay, easily molded and changed, other times we are hardened clay that must be broken to be reformed.  At any rate, we are still the work of God's hand.  He says it. 

What do we do with this knowledge?  Well, in my case, I'm going to try not to be the hard clay.  I will try to be the best servant I can be without trying to be a copy of someone else.  I will try to remember ahead of time that when I become the hard clay in spite of my efforts to remain soft, as I believe we all do at times, I will be used by God for His glory all the more. After all, God is into the miracle business (he has quieted my dog, after all).

Friends, God needs all of us to do His work to further God's kingdom.  My prayer is that each one of you reading this will be touched by an extra measure of God's grace today and that you will be assured that you are the work of God's hand.  God doesn't make junk.


Blessed Be the Name

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.

Job 1:20-21


It is easy to praise God when things are going well, isn't it?  When we're in the land that is plentiful and things in our world are just as they should be it is so easy.  But when we're in that desert place or traveling through the wilderness of life with no end in sight, it gets a little harder to thank God for our situations.  I'm reminded of these things whenever I hear or sing the song "Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt Redman.

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

It takes spiritual maturity to praise God all the time - to give thanks in everything (1 Thes 5:18). However, as we grow in Christ, we can learn to give thanks to God even in our darkest times. We still praise God because through His love letter to us, He tells us that everything in our lives serves a purpose (Ro 8:28) and that He has promised us an awesome future in Him (Ro 8:18).

Every blessing Your pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Heavenly Father, Your name is glorious and we know that for all You've done for us we should never cease to sing Your praises.  We know we should never cease to be thankful because we know that the only way we can become stronger is through your trials.

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all 'as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Lord, help me to always thank you for the sunshine in my life and never take credit for the good things because they are always from You.  Show me how to help someone else live through their suffering because You have been there in mine.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be Your name

God, You do give and take away at Your discretion and I should never take anything for granted.  Help me to live for today and for the people You have placed in my life.  Please be with my readers and help them do the same.  Let our hearts choose to say "Lord, blessed be Your name."  Amen.


Split Personality

Do you have a split personality when it comes to spiritual things?  I think we all do, to a certain extent.  I can totally relate to Paul in Romans 7:15-25.  To me, it is probably one of the most memorable passages of Paul's writings, not necessarily because of the content, but because of its "tongue twister" nature.   Paul is describing how he wrestles with how his mind wants to do what is right, but his body wants to do what is wrong.  Aren't we all there?

Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Although this battle of the mind versus flesh seems impossible to win sometimes, we do have the power to overcome our bad thoughts through God's Word.  Because Jesus died for our sins and left the Holy Spirit behind inside each of us, we have the means to let the good personality inside of us win.

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

We have the power, but we also must cooperate with God by renewing our mind each day through His Words to us. Only a daily personal time with God will keep us consistently growing in our faith so that we can overcome our bad selves.  Without the daily time, it is too easy to revert back to our old ways.  Who is winning in you?


In Christ Alone

In Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope
Is Christ alone.

I feel that I should expand on my post from yesterday on this topic.  After all, how many times have you been told that you just need to rely on God?  to just trust God for every aspect of your life?  I think that trusting God for everything is easier said than done.  Let's practically break this down.

In Christ alone I place my trust

1) Have you ever taken that first step in asking Jesus into your life as your PERSONAL savior?  If you haven't, stop here and go here.  (If you took this step right now and asked Jesus into your heart, please email me or post a comment.  I'd love to rejoice with you!)

2) How much do you pray? Prayer in itself is a humbling experience because usually when we pray we are admitting to God that we need help.  Do you pray before you start your work day?  Do you ask God to bless your correspondence, meetings, social time, devotional time?  Putting our lives totally in God's hands takes discipline and time, my friends.  We have to break our hurried, self-sufficient natures to make it happen!

3) What are you really trusting in to get things done?  Do you trust in other people, your work experience, your education, your life experience, charm or intelligence to make things happen?  If you are, then do you think you are trusting God?  I know from my personal experience that it is too easy (okay, it is lazy) to rely on my on strength to get things done.

Hmmm....I feel a second series coming on.  I might just take some more time tonight/tomorrow and put add some verses to this post.  This topic actually goes well with my reading in Romans anyway, right?  My online friends, I do pray that my words from my own experience can help you to have a close walk with Jesus.  Where would we be without Him?  I don't really want to think about it.  I pray for each of you that He becomes more real to you each day.  Until tomorrow....