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The First Day...

...of a new chapter?

I sit here in my family room relaxing decompressing after three days of being out of town at a CLASS seminar - a three-day seminar to train both current and aspiring Christian speakers and writers.   What an wealth of instruction and inspiration it was!  I am definitely on overload.  The circumstances that brought me to the seminar are certainly not coincidence, and I also wonder what the significance is that tomorrow is my 1 year anniversary of this blog "Bread Crumbs".  Check out my first post here.

I can't believe it has been a year already.  So many things have happened in this year.  Thank you to everyone who has read along with me.  Maybe one day God will see fit to have some of these writings published in a book.  I can't wait to see what God will do in this next chapter of my life and "Bread Crumbs".   

Tuesday night in my hotel room, God brought to my remembrance the following verse:

The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  (Isaiah 50:4 NKJV)

God has given me the tongue of the learned.  Whatever I have, God has given me so that I can be an encouragement to others.  What those future plans are in either speaking or writing He has for me, I'm trusting God to reveal them to me.  How learned am I?  I think I know just enough to be dangerous.  I know more than I did last week and tomorrow I'll know more than I knew today.   

So as I start this next year or next "chapter" tomorrow, I pray that Bread Crumbs will be a blessing and encouragement to all who stumble upon it.  May you receive a word of encouragement and hope in your weary seasons of life! 

In Him,

Janna


The Lord Bless Thee

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:  The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.  And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:22-27)

As I read the passage above, I think about how many times throughout the bible up until this point that the children of Israel had neglected God.  I think of how many times they doubted God, cursed God and turned away from God as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the promised land, wishing they could give God's blessing of deliverance back to Him because they were uncomfortable with change.

Yet God still chose to bless them.  God still chose to give them peace and grace and allow His name to be associated with His.  Can anyone relate to this?  Has anyone else ever been frustrated with God even though in your heart you know that God has delivered or is delivering you from something?   I'm sure we;ve all been in similar circumstances.  Obedience is hard and change is scary.   If we get overwhelmed, we must go back to the basics:  God loves us and is in control of everything, including our lives.  He has good plans for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Good plans.  No, great plans.  I can't imagine that God would just settle for good in our lives, can you?  But how do we know these plans?  We only need to wholeheartedly ask God for answers and then listen for Him to speak through our circumstances, our Christian friends and our daily bible reading.

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

Oh, to find God.  Can we really find Him? 

And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I have caused you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29:14)

Yes, dear readers, we can find Him.  God wants to bring us back to Him  no matter how far we've strayed so that He can protect us, guide us, keep us and bless us.    I want His face to shine upon me, don't you?

Questions for reflection:

1) How bad do I want the blessing? Enough to keep seeking God with my whole heart through prayer every day?

2) What is keeping me from seeing God and getting to that place He wants to take me? 


If This, Then That...

Alternate title:  Two Way Promises.

Did you realize that despite God's grace, mercy and love for us, that He is also very demanding when it comes to handing out blessings?  I know this may be hard to hear, but I believe the bible says it is so.  Starting with the salvation of our souls, if we don't personally accept Jesus into our hearts as Lord, we won't inherit eternal life in heaven with God and consequently will be sentenced to an eternal life of torment in hell without God.  Simple as that.   God is a God of consequences, both good and bad.  He can't help it because He is perfectly just.

Success to us doesn't come to us rightly unless we put God first, as stated in the book of Joshua:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make you way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)

In Leviticus chapter 26, God promises to His people both blessings (Lev 26:3-13) and retribution (Lev 26:14-39).  Blessings if they obey, curses if they don't.  I find it interesting that the chapter starts out with a command against idol worship.  Kinda makes ya think we all might have a problem with our idols in one way or another, doesn't it?

You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 26:1 NKJV)

Those idols just get in the way.  Hobbies, TV, our children, our friends, our possessions and our jobs, to name a few, when prioritized before God, all take away from the blessings of peace and prosperity that He wants to give us.  Because they are distractions, they can render us powerless because we have spent too much time with them and not enough time getting to know God.    After all, without spending time in God's word, how can we really know what He wants from us?  How can we really obey?  How can we really rest in His promises if we don't know what they are?

As always, God does give us a way back to Him no matter how far off His path we have strayed.  As we see in Leviticus 26:40-46, if we confess our sins and unfaithfulness and humble our hearts before Him, He will remember His covenant with us.  God is with us and will always be.  He has promised it. 

Questions to consider:

1) What is my "idol" of the day, week, year?  Is there anything that I consistently put before my time with Him?

2) Are you scheduling uninterrupted time into your life for God, like you would schedule your other activities?

3) When was the last time you humbled your heart before God, accepting His total Lordship over your life?


Contentment

Yesterday was my 39th birthday.  Yesterday was the begininning of my 40th year on this earth. Look out world, I'm finally starting to figure a few things out!  :)  As I sit here at the computer, feeling like I haven't posted on here forever, I am blown away by the things I should be thankful for.  Actually, I even started a "Thursday Thirteen" post to list those things but my perfectionism left me frustrated with the code of the thing so I didn't get it done.  But alas, today I awake with the thoughts from yesterday still in my head.

The bible says in Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I wonder how many people fight with this verse.  In all of my wisdom a week or so ago I reminded a friend of this verse.  God has been smacking ME with it ever since.  Go figure.  :) Truly, I am content with my life when I try to look at it from God's point of view.  The blessings and strength that He gives me in both the good and not so good times in my life are far more than I deserve.  God's blessings are far more than we all deserve; we just need to remember that our trials can also be a blessing further down the road.  So...here is my list of 13 things I'm thankful for (in no particular order). 

  1. Jesus, my one faithful and true friend.
  2. My husband, who does not read this blog, for loving me more than I deserve from him.
  3. Friends, new and old, without whom I would not laugh, cry, or be convicted quite so much.
  4. My doggies.  I can't resist smiling at a cute fuzzy face even when I'm not in a good mood.
  5. God. 
  6. The volunteers who labor with me in ministry.
  7. The ladies who God is allowing me to teach the bible.
  8. Commenters on my blog.
  9. My church family.
  10. My real family.
  11. Flexibility in my job that allows me to do ministry.
  12. The power of God's Word active in my life.
  13. The power of prayer.

What are you thankful for today?


Feel Like Singing?

Feel like singing?  Well, even if you don't, I hope you enjoy this post today.  I was taking a look through some of my older posts and realized that many of my readers weren't around when they were originally posted.  So...since I've been so melancholy of late in my writings (at least I feel that I have) I thought I'd take today to direct everyone to a couple of my favorite past postings regarding the greatness, glory and majesty of our God. 

Need reminded of how great our God really is?  Click HERE.

Feel like shouting to the Lord and singing praise to Him for His promises?  Go HERE

Have a great day everyone! 

Janna


Joy Cometh - Part II

No matter what kind of mood you may find yourself in, the bible has something to say about it, especially in the book of Psalms.  For the record, if you're looking for something warm and fuzzy to stir up the emotion of your choosing, Leviticus just doesn't come highly recommended.  To do lists, yes. Comfort, no.   

God brought this verse to my mind tonight as I was praying:

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:1-5)

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  Without a doubt.  I think of passion and compassion with this verse.  I think of prayer and I think of what it means to care so much about something or someone that  in the act of submitting our requests to God we end up begging for His mercy, help and forgiveness.  These are the prayers that bring us to the inner courts of God.  These are the prayers that can move the mountains in our lives.  These are the prayers that bring joy when the God's timing has come to pass.

Why then, don't we pray like this all of the time?  Why don't we always pray as if our very lives and the lives of our loved ones depended upon it?  I can't speak for everyone, but for me, it all boils down to time and energy.  It is a sacrifice to sow with tears.  It is a sacrifice of time because it takes awhile to put away all of the day's distractions to come into God's presence and it is a sacrifice of strength as well.  It is emotionally draining to pray with that kind of passion.  It is worth it, but it is draining.

So when does the joy come? Some time after the praying.  God is the only one who knows that answer exactly.  However He does tell us that joy will come.

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life:  weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

Joy comes in the morning (maybe not always the next morning) just as sure as the sun rises each and every day.  We can be joyful in our knowledge of God's faithfulness to us...joyful in knowing that we are forever loved by the Creator of the universe and that He has everything under control.  In this we can rejoice and have hope.


This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his passions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore I will hope in him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-26)


Your Love is Deep

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did ignorantly in unbelief.  14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

As I sit here today thinking about my past and present failures, I am reminded of a song that moved me as I sang it in church today.  A song about the depth of God's love for me, and the rest of His children, entitled "Your Love is Deep", by Jami Smith.  It is a simple song really.  I didn't realize how simple until I put the lyrics down here.

Your Love is Deep
by Jami Smith

Your love is deep
Your love is high
Your love is long
Your love is wide

Deeper than my view of grace
Higher than this worldly place
Longer than this road I travel
Wider than the gap You filled

Who shall separate us
Who shall separate us from Your love
Nothing can separate us
Nothing can separate us from Your love

God's love and patience has no end.  No matter how many times I quit praying for something because I've gotten tired of waiting for His answer, God will still hear me when I resume praying again. No matter how many times I get frustrated and weary with my well-doing, God is there to to give me strength and remind me that the causes I fight for are worth the effort. No matter how many times I mess up in trying to do the right thing or mess up just plain doing the wrong thing, God still counts me faithful to do His work because of the depth of His compassion for me. Unbelievable.

I am so thankful that God's love is deeper than my view of grace and is more abundant than I can imagine.  When I examine the love I possess for my family and friends, I can only glimpse a speck of the love God has for me. Nothing can separate us from God's love.  Nothing.  Ever.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

Thank You, Lord, for the mercy, grace and love you give anew every day to Your children.  Thank You for the ultimate sacrifice You gave in Christ Jesus so that we could have fellowship with You.  I'm so glad that You wanted to love us and be with us that desperately.  Help us to appreciate all that You do for us, big things and small things.  Forgive us when we fail You as we often do, but please remind us that tomorrow is a new day with hope and new beginnings. Give us the desire to share Your deep, deep love with others. Amen.

____________________________________________________________________________

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.


Behold God's Creation

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

When was the last time that you really took a good look and thought about all that God has created?  I love to take walks, especially through the woods, to clear my mind, get some peace and quiet, and get some exercise.  Little did I know that what I love to do was mentioned in the book "Celebration of Discipline" as a means of the discipline of meditation.  I'm so spiritual!  :)  Hmmm....I've been wise and didn't even know it.  In his book "Celebration of Discipline",  Richard Foster suggests the following type of contemplative prayer:

"...give your attention to the created order.  Look at the trees, really look at them.  Take a flower and allow its beauty and symmetry to sink deep into your mind and heart.  Listen to the birds - they are the messengers of God.  Watch the little creatures that creep upon the earth.  These are humble acts to be sure, but sometimes God reaches us profoundly in these simple ways if we will quiet ourselves to listen."

I tried this a couple of weeks ago as I was out walking on a local park's walking trail.  At first, I forgot about what I'd just read in the book but as I unconsciously started really paying attention to my surroundings, I remembered its words.  I noticed the different kinds of grass, the wildflowers, saw an owl, pondered the different types of leaves on each tree and enjoyed the other various forms of wildlife.  I noticed a turtle in the pond as well as a blue heron, and watched the little rabbits and squirrels make their way throught the woods.  Thankfully, I didn't see any snakes!  I started thinking as I walked about how truly unimaginative we are as humans in our creations.   At our most creative moments, we are still in effect copying something that God has already done somewhere.  Think of all of the textures in nature as well.  I am totally in awe of God. 

As I walked I realized that in all that I do, ministry or otherwise, I do not want to be a part of anything that God is not a part of.  How could I alone possibly achieve His glory?  With Him, however, any ordinary thing can become a magnificent expression of His greatness.

So, are you ready to take a walk?  I highly recommend it.  If not a walk, just go to a secluded place in the outdoors, sit and just soak up all that God has provided for you.  Take a deep breath of the fresh air and feel the wind of God on your face.  I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

FINAL NOTE: Time with God in this fashion is best achieved in solitude as great conversation gets in the way of observation.  :)


From Trials to Hope

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  (Romans 5:3-4 NKJV)

Dear readers, my heart has been so heavy the past week for those who are struggling to make it through another day in their current situations, whatever they may be.  As I write this entry, I wish that I could look each one in the eyes personally and tell them that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities to begin anew.  I know that I write a lot about hope and the power of Jesus Christ to provide us that hope for a new day and for the strength to make it through.  I'm almost starting to believe that this is the message God has entrusted me with to share.  That though, is still yet to be determined.  But God has entrusted me with something, that I do know.

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.  And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; (1 Timothy 1:11-12)

I'm trying to be faithful today, to share that glorious gospel, the good news, that was committed to my trust.  To me, the good news is not only the eternal life giving truth of Jesus' sacrifice for our salvation, although the belief in Jesus alone for salvation is certainly the most essential and elementary good news of the gospel.  I believe that the good news of Christ extends far deeper into our Christian lives than this because once we become believers, we can tap into the power of God through Jesus, which is our hope (1 Tim 1:1)...our hope for joy and peace no matter where we find ourselves in life.  If we can discipline ourselves to take our problems directly to God through Jesus Christ, we can have the peace.  God promises it to us in black and white. 

Philippians 4: 6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Hope though, is sometimes hard to come by when life gets us down, don't you think?  Only our past experiences compared with the promises of scripture can reassure us that God will also bring us through our current circumstances.  As Romans 5:3-4 above states, hope is produced through making it through trials. 

What are you trusting God for to get you through this time?  A difficult job? A troubled marriage?  Financial difficulties? A recurring stronghold that has once again reared its ugly head?  No matter what it is, God is there just waiting for us to reach out to Him.  He is there ready to take our hand in His.  Won't you give your hand to Him today?

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, I will help thee.

Father, I thank You so much for the way you hold me up each and every day.  I pray that whoever in the world needs to hear your words of comfort and encouragement will find what they are so desparately needing.  I pray that those who read this post today who are suffering will find some relief from their pain.  For others who aren't so weary, I pray that they are reminded of someone in their lives that can be encouraged by the words You've given me today.  You are our strength and our courage...Thank You.  Amen.


Reflections on 1 Timothy 1

On March 9th, I announced to the "world" that I was going to memorize an entire book of the bible, that of 1 Timothy.  Admittedly, I started out with a bang and then fizzled in the month of May when I got to some verses that I just couldn't get into.   Do you know that feeling?   I started trying to memorize 1 Tim 1:9-10 about who the law was really made for and the list got too long.  Consequently, I fell off the memorizing wagon.

But alas, I'm back on.  I recommitted vs 1-9 solidly to memory and now I've also gotten down 10-11 as well.  So what have I learned so far?

1) Focus on the best, not the good.  Paul gave Timothy one charge (at least this is what he saw fit to include first in his letter to Timothy).  That charge was to remain in Ephesus and protect that church from straying from sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:3).  It is so easy in our churches today to get sidetracked from our first love - the gospel and the love of God and His Word - with all of the fun and good activities and ministries that can take place.  Selecting the best, which leads to godly edifying (1 Tim 1:4), is key.

2) Be real and keep pure motives.  Of all of the verses I've memorized so far from this chapter, 1 Timothy 1:5 has meant the most to me.  If we have a pretend faith, do not love others and have ulterior motives for our actions rather than pure ones, we are not glorifying God.  We are playing church, and are probably quite miserable souls when it gets right down to it.   I don't want to "turn aside unto vain jangling", desiring to teach because it is the cool thing to do. (1 Timothy 1:5-7)

3) Be a good steward.  From v 11, my freshest memory verse, I am reminded of the good news, of the beauty of God and the responsibilities I have been given.  The verse says:

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:11)

Just as Timothy was charged by Paul, I am and you are, to whatever extend we were individually called, to guard ourselves and those around us from false teaching.  We have been given the glorious good news of the saving power of Jesus' blood directly from the God who loved us enough to sacrifice His son so that He could have a relationship with us.  We are entrusted with this glorious gospel.  What are we doing with it?

This is the end of my official post for today, so if anyone is tired of reading, they can rest assured that I have no more of my own wisdom (for whatever it is worth) to impart.  Now though, I'm going to see if I can't type what I've memorized so far from memory, just for practice.  Corrections will be in red or marked through. (FYI - I'm going to correct the punctuation without the strikethroughs - KJV punctuation is brutal!)

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, while  when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.

4 Neither give heed to fables and endless geneaologies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned:

6 From which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling;

7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

8 But we know that the law is good if a man use it lawfully;

9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

10 For whoremongers, and for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.