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January 2006
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Too Much of a Good Thing...

... is not always bad, when that good thing, that GREAT thing, is God.

Last night, after a day of my real job, my ministry "job", and my Beth Moore bible study group, I finally got to spend some  extended time alone with God.  Yesterday, my morning quite time just wasn't enough. I am constantly reminded more and more about the importance of being with God rather than always doing things for God.  Without the time with God, I cannot continue doing things for God as effectively.  Think about how much an athlete needs to fuel his body because he is using it so much.  The same is true with our spiritual selves.   The more we "work out", the more of God we need to keep us going. 

So, on that note, I'm going to share with you my precious time with God late last night.  In the stillness of night (12:30AM is still nighttime, isn't it?) before I went to sleep, I prayed this prayer, totally from the scripture of the Psalms.

Dear Father,

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. (Psalm 42:1) O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; (Psalm 63:1) Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. (Psalm 123:1)

Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness. (Ps 119:159) Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. (Ps 119:27) Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. (Ps 40:11)  For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. (Ps 86:5)

Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. (Ps 18:49) I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. (Ps 18:1) I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. (Ps 86:12) For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. (Ps 86:10).

Amen.

Now that I've prayed that prayer, I need to live up to it, huh?


For Such a Time as This

What keeps you going when you are tired of just going, going, going?  Do you keep pressing forward for duty, for love, or out of necessity?   What happens when you feel that you've been put in an impossible situation where you are the only one keeping things together?  Do you valiantly trudge forward giving it your all or do you give up because the situation appears impossible anyway?

(After my last post of the 22 questions, I thought I'd just give you readers some of my own questions.  Just kidding.  Now back to being serious.)

In my study that I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was also reminded of the story of Esther and how she became queen and eventually saved her people, the Jews, from impending genocide.  So vividly I hear the advice of her cousin Mordecai to a young and scared newly "queened" Esther that she needed to stand up for her people because she was the only one who could save them.  Let's listen in:

Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.  For if they altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then there shall enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  (Esther 4:13-14)

Brothers and sisters, we are in God's kingdom for such a time as this. Doesn't that give you goosebumps?  It does me.  When I think of the events of this past year and how I came to be in the place I am, I am floored.  Floored!  Things happened in my life this past year, a lot of them not pleasant, for such a time as this.   What time is it in your life?  Why are you in your job or not in your job?  Why are you sick or why is your friend sick?  Why are you the only one left standing when everyone else has fallen down?  .... For such a time as this. 

We all have a glorious purpose planned by God Himself if only we would just listen to that small voice inside us and do what it says by faith.  Just remember that if God got you into it, then God will get you through it.  What are you waiting for?


22 Questions

How deep are you letting God into your heart?  God wants to have an intimate relationship with each one of us.  I wonder how many times we are putting a wall up around us to keep Him out of our thoughts.

This morning as I was listening to an audio segment for a women's leadership training program (Called to Influence by InJoy), I heard mention of a set of questions that the members of John Wesley's Holy Club asked themselves each day in their private devotions over 200 years ago.  After hearing them read aloud to me, I knew immediately that I would need to share them!  Reader be warned, these are some very introspective questions.

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I
am better than I really am?  In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me
in confidence?

4. Can I be trusted?

5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?

6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self justifying?

7. Did the Bible live in me today?

8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

9. Am I enjoying prayer?

10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?

11. Do I pray about the money I spend?

12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

13. Do I disobey God in anything?

14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is
uneasy?

15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?

17. How do I spend my spare time?

18. Am I proud?

19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the
Pharisees who despised the publican?

20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a
resentment toward or disregard? If so, what I am doing about it?

21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?

22. Is Christ real to me?

What did you think of these questions?  Does anyone want to join me in adding something like this to your daily devotional time with God?


Don't Compare

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!  I'm not going to post about love today, unless it is Christ's love for us, but I will lead you to Tracy's blog where she discusses 1 Cor 13 in a heartfelt way. 

As for your "crumbs" today, I'm going to write about comparisons.  The bottom line is this.  Most of the time we, especially women (but I think that guys do this too), never get ahead by comparing ourselves to other people.   Why is this?  Because when we compare ourselves to others, we are usually comparing ourselves to someone else's giftedness.  Most of the time we are not comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.  Wouldn't you agree? 

The bible says in 2 Cor 10:12 that  "...we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves.  But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (NKJV)  I heard Chuck Swindoll say one time to never compare ourselves to those who are outstanding.  It only leads to a loss of self worth.  For example, I have an okay singing voice, but if I compare myself to Mariah Carey, I will fail miserably. 

We are all made with different spiritual gifts and abilities and were all made to use our talents in the church body.  We need all kinds.  Everyone is needed and is good for something.  Don't ever let Satan get in your mind that you are anything different.  When you find yourself wishing you were like someone else, cast it out of your mind  and remind yourself about the truth that you were fearfully and wonderfully made.


Dear Child

I'm not sure who wrote this, but I was cleaning up my office today and came across this piece.  I pray that anyone who reads this who is struggling with their importance in this world may see anew how important they are to God.

***********************

Dear Child:

I just wanted to remind you today of how beautiful you are because their is a father of lies who will try to deceive you.  He will try totell you that you are not good enough, not attractive enough, not thin enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, not righteous enough, and that you are simply unimportant to Me.

He will try to tell you that you have broken one too many promises, that you have fallen one too many times, that you have lived one too many lies, and that you've been going in the wrong direction so long that it is pointless to turn back now.

But guess what?

YOU DO NOT BELONG TO HIM.  HE IS NOT YOUR father.

I AM.

You see, you are My creation. My workmanship. You have been borne of My though, every part of you placed together by My hands.
You have my thumbprint upon you.
You are a princess (or prince), did you know that?
You are My child, the child of THE King!
I look at you and see a precious, priceless pearl.
There is no ocean I would not swim, no mountain I would not climb, no price I would not pay to have you and to be with you and call you my own.

I already have.

I have done all that I could, given all that there is.
I desire to be with you every moment of every day.
How I long for you to talk to Me every day.
My love for you never grows cold.
My promises are never broken (contrary to what he might lead you to believe).
My character never changes.
And you, my child have been made in My image.

I love you dearly, unconditionally and completely.
I understand every emotion that you have.  I've been there.
I count every tear that you cry.
I know every hair on your head.

And do you know what? I even know your weaknesses and your failures and your fears.  I know those hidden parts of you that you wish would go away.  Those dark corners of your world that you stuff deep down, praying that no one will ever see.  I have already seen them and they will not change my love for you.

Nothing will.

I love your heart and I desire all of it.

I just wanted to remind you today of how beautiful you are and how precious you are to Me.

With Unmeasurable Love,
Your Heavenly Father


We Fall Down

Have you ever thought of what you will do when you come face to face with Jesus someday?  I'm sure that anyone who has ever listened to the words of the popular Mercy Me song entitled "I Can Only Imagine" has played the scene out in their minds.  I know I have.

Today's song reflection is on "We Fall Down" by Chris Tomlin.  It is such a simple song, but the words and music almost always bring a tear to my eye.  I pray that my humble thoughts presented here can give anyone who reads this a richer worship experience.  May God bless you!


We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus;
The greatness of mercy and love, at the feet of Jesus.

And we cry holy, holy, holy,
And we cry holy, holy, holy,
And we cry holy, holy, holy is the Lamb.


We Fall Down...

The bible says at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord (Phil 2:10-11).  We will all give an account of ourselves to God (Ro 14:11).  Talking about everyone else is one thing, but what about me?  What will I do when I finally see Jesus face to face?  Being a Christian, I'm not fearing that day, but I am still awestruck.  Somehow, I don't see myself falling down at His feet, but I bet I lower myself down pretty fast!  I doubt I could stand in front of my Lord and Savior looking into His tender eyes knowing how selfishly I've lived my life at times.   I doubt I could stand in front of Jesus dry-eyed, seeing for myself the scars in His hands while realizing once again that those scars were my fault.  Could you? Yes, I think I would be probably be face down until I was told to look up.

We Lay Our Crowns...

Oh, the crowns.  The heavenly rewards we receive for service to God.  I won't go into all of the different kinds mentioned in the bible.  Suffice it to say, that they represent the only thing we have to give to God - our lives of service to and adoration of Him.  What a picture in this song of laying our lives at Jesus' feet, giving back to Him everything that we have been given.  Am I giving enough of my life now so that I will have something to give back to Him then?

At the Feet of Jesus...

Face down on the ground, at Jesus' feet.  That is where I will be on that day.  Jesus' disciples, upon seeing Him as resurrected for the first time "held him by the feet, and worshipped him." (Mt 28:9).  Perhaps the most memorable picture of someone at Jesus' feet was when the woman sinner, wiped Jesus' feet with her tears.  Let's take a look.

And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:37-38)

I won't have the ointment, but I bet I'll have the tears.   Does your love for Jesus compare with hers?

The Greatness of Mercy and Love...

To me, the gifts that I can bring to Jesus from my life and service to Him came only from his great mercy and love for me.  Only through Him, using His gifts with love to others, will I have a "crown" to lay at His feet.

And We Cry Holy, Holy, Holy...

Speechless, facedown and tearful, that is probably what I will be when I finally meet my Lord.  I doubt I will be saying "Holy, holy, holy" to anyone.  I think I might just leave that up to the other "creatures" spoken of in John's vision shown in Revelation 4.   I will be letting my words be few!   What about you?

Revelation 4:8-11

8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him: and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for they pleasure they are and were created.

____________________________________________________________________________

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.


Light affliction

What do you consider "light" affliction?  Me, when I think of "light" affliction, I think of heavy traffic, long drive-thru lines at McD's (remember, I am a McD's regular coke addict), and enduring my dog's barking when I'm trying to have my daily quiet time with God.  However, when I read Paul's words to the Corinthians regarding his trials, I am quite sure that he had heavier troubles than I ... and considered them to be light!

Can you imagine what it would be like to consider prison time,  beatings and shipwrecks nothing more than "light afflictions"?  Paul is really to be admired for his eternal perspective on things.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.(1 Cor 4:17-18)

Being able to see how the issues in our lives not only affect the here and now but the eternal future is the key to being able to outlast the hard times on this earth.  I think that when Paul regards his sufferings as trivial, he is comparing them to what Jesus endured for you and for me so that we could be reconciled to God.  When I think about my difficult times, they do not compare with a crucifixion.  I'm sure that yours don't either.

In addition, Paul realizes fully the importance of his work for God's kingdom.  He understands not only that his works would earn him future rewards in heaven but he would do anything to promote the gospel because he knows how importance of the message.  What "cause" would you die for? Is the prospect of an eternity in heaven worth the short time we will serve on earth in obedience to God no matter our circumstances?

Keep pressing on my dear readers. A glorious future is awaiting for you.  In the meantime, keep praying and gathering strength from God and His word, taking one day at a time.

2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

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Pancakes & Praise

One of my favorite blogs had a post today so pertinent to each one of us that I wish to highlight it today in addition to my regular entry.  In her post, Anneliese beautifully describes a surprise breakfast to her family by making pancakes from scratch (Can't you just smell them?  You will smell them when you visit her blog).  She then relates her families' appreciation for them to how we should be appreciative of God's gift to us in His Son. 

God made a sacrifice, an unspeakable gift to us, when He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins.  Like parents love to hear a word of thanks for their efforts and gifts to their children, God loves to know that we appreciate Him too.  Please visit Anneliese's site, Tea Time, as she describes our gift of praise so much better than I.   I guarantee that you will be blessed.   Thanks, Anneliese for your wonderful words today.


Helping Prayer

I saw the movie "End of the Spear" last night.  I have to admit, shamelessly, that until recently I had never heard of the Elliots or the story of these missionary slayings in Ecuador.   I'm not a good student of current events.  At any rate, I know of them now.  The movie is definitely worth seeing.

When I think about missions work, one of the first things I think about is how necessary prayer is to the missionaries' work and safety.  They are often working in very dangerous conditions.  Paul was also a missionary.  Can you imagine being in a world where most everyone around you has never heard about Jesus?  Living here in the U.S., it is hard to imagine, isn't it?

Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians apparently after he and his fellow travelers had been suffering some persecution (2 Cor 2:8-10).   In Chapter 2, he is quick to point out the power of prayer and how thankful he was for it.

2 Cor 2:11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

Paul was very thankful for the gift of prayer bestowed on him by the church at Corinth.  knew that God had delivered him from life threatening circumstances (v8) and despair in Asia.  The bottom line here is that prayer really does work.  We may not always see the results of our prayers, but we need to keep up our intercessory prayers just the same.

To think about:

1) Who am I actively praying for?  Do they know that I am praying for them?
2) Who is actively praying for me?
3) Have I thanked people for their prayers and informed them of answered prayers so as to strengthen their faith?


Changed & Changing

Have you ever read or re-read a particular scripture and felt that your life would never be the same again?  It happened to me recently before I wrote my post last Friday about being acceptable to God.  Today, I will share my "revelations", if you will, since then.  Not that they are brilliant teaching, but because they are my personal lessons, and I hope that some of you can relate.

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

What a verse.  I can't remember the last time I thought about how many bad thoughts I had in a day.  Friday was brutal.  God gave me plenty of opportunities to see the errors of my ways.  Saturday was a little better, and I've been too busy to think about my bad thoughts until today.  So...there you have it.  It makes me wonder how many of us really take the time to examine ourselves.  Does everyone not realize the thoughts they are thinking?

I guess my point is this.  We, as believers in Christ and ambassadors for God in this broken world, may be the only evidence of God's love that some people ever see.  The world won't see God's love in us if we are too consumed with ourselves (take that however best suits you).  God put us here to be salt and light.  Our speech should be seasoned with "salt" (Col 4:6), not vinegar.  And because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Mt 12:34), we definitely need to check out what we are thinking about.

My final observation is this:  I wonder how much the world would change if we would all spend more time in self examination.  What if we prayed more for God to reveal to us our true selves than for Him to change everyone and everything around us.  While I haven't particularly enjoyed this past week of self-examination, I do hope that I don't forget it.  As the song goes, this is my prayer:

Change my heart, O God, make it ever true
Change my heart, O God, may I be like You.

You are the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me, this is what I pray.

Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.
Change, my heart, O God, may I be like You.

Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill Your lamb.
Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill Your lamb.

Jesus, please come and fill this lamb, Your lamb.  Fill everyone reading this today with Your love and the hope that You will make us each to be exactly how You have made us to be.  You are our precious Potter. Amen.