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August 2007
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October 2007

The Ultimate Plan

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. - (Hebrews 2:10 NKJV)

In my wildest dreams I can't imagine devising the plan God concocted to save His fallen creation from His perfect judgment.  God thoughts and plans are definitely more developed than mine, and I consider myself to be a good planner. Have you ever really pondered how complex God's plan of redemption is?  It is definitely easier for us with all of human history behind us to grasp. but what if we were faced with God's situation more than 6000 years ago at the beginning of our earth's creation?

Imagine yourself, not as God but just in His place, looking at your newly created humans (Adam & Eve).  You are pleased at first but then you find that they had disobeyed you and through this sinful act, have thrown a wrench into your perfect world.  I don't know about you, but I doubt that I would have come up with a plan of redemption so complex yet so perfect as to culminate in my only child dying to redeem the sins of the world.  But then, my plan wouldn't have been perfect because I am definitely not God.  Most likely I would started crying in despair before I regrouped and got out my pens, pencils & highlighters to being drawing up the solution.  Personally, I'm glad that God is God and I am not.  "Janna Almighty" I do not want to be.

But our scripture (Heb 2:10) says that God, the Creator of the universe, saw it fitting to have His Son - the captain of our salvation -suffer for us.  This was God's plan all along.  Jesus was not merely murdered.  He had a choice. He gave up His life to bring us to glory.  He gave up His earthly life to pay our entrance fee into heaven.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV)

God's perfect plan was contrived out of an endless love for His creation.  Jesus' work on the cross as our "captain" could only have been completed through His suffering.  If there was some other way, I'm sure that God would have found it.  For this reason we must also conclude that for us to become "perfect" or made useful for God's purposes, we also must suffer as Christ suffered for us.  While our sufferings will never measure up to His, they are still there, still real, and can help us lead others to receive God's glory.  At least we can find comfort in knowing that everything taking place in our lives is all a part of God's ultimate plan.

For "Planning" Purposes:

1) How much do you trust in God's control over your life? 

2) What area of your life are you having difficulty giving to God so that He can manage it rather than you?

3) What would help you view your own "sufferings" in a light that makes them easier to live through?   


Meeting God's Approval

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. - 2 Tim 2:15

I recently bought a new study bible - the Thompson Chain Reference kind - and honestly I have to say that I'm going to need to do some studying to figure out how to "work" the tools in it so that it will be useful to me.  And of course, like a good little modern Christian, I had to buy a new leather bible cover to protect it.  :)  This bible cover included a highlighter pen with the verse above printed on it.  I suppose so that if the pen ever got separated from my bible cover I would know where it belonged!  All humor aside, I do have to say that I have finally succombed to the "pressure" and am now writing a blog post on this verse.

Paul is telling pastor Timothy that he needs to get to know God's Word by diligent study so that he will be approved unto God.  This passage applies to us as well.  We are in a day and age where real truth is hard to come by because more and more the philosophy of relative moralism is seeping into every aspect of our lives.  If we as Christians, who have the truth, don't know how to explain and share it with others, who will?  As Christians, we only have one weapon in our arsenal against spiritual warfare of all types, and that is the sword of God's Word.  God's Word, when understood can not only protect us in the battle but can encourage, convict and instruct us to be the people God is desiring us to be. 

Most importantly, we must not fail to see in this passage that by studying God's Word, we will please God.  Our motivation to study should not be to impress others by our bible knowledge or to check off on a task list that we completed so many word studies in a year.  Our motivation to study should not even be so that we can be comforted or be a comfort to others by passing on a particular scripture passage.  We should be studying God's word so that we can please Him because by reading His Word - His Mind - we will get to know Him better.  That's what God really wants.

This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord. (Jer 9:23-24 NIV)

If we can study God's Word, rightly dividing it so that we get the correct meaning of what He is saying to us, we will get to know God, we will please God and all of the other benefits of God's Word to us will come.  Doesn't that want to make you study?  I know I'm ready to look for more treasures.

For the Faithful "Workman":

1) How well do you know your most important weapon?

2) What can you do today to get to know it/God better?

3) If you are having trouble getting started in a bible reading plan, what is really holding you back?


The Power of Encouragement

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV)

I spent time in 2 Timothy this morning.  I love the letters Paul has written to Timothy, his beloved protege/apprentice and son in the faith.  As I read them, especially the second, I see in Paul's words the pride and love for this young man and friend. Paul was in prison, most likely waiting to be executed, when he wrote this letter.  It seems he was lonely as well (2 Ti 4:11) and wanted to both see and exhort Timothy in his ministry one last time.

As I ponder what Paul's mood must have been at the time of its writing, I also wonder what Timothy's reaction was when he received the letter from his dear mentor.  Was he spurred on to action within his ministry?  Was he strengthened by the reminder that he was gifted by God and had God's power, Spirit, and the benefit of a sound mind? Was he saddened by Paul's need to see him one last time?  I suppose the answer could be "yes" to all.   To me, that letter would have meant the world.  Oh, the power of encouragement!

I love to encourage the people in my life to strive for and achieve their personal best, whatever that is.  That is why I started my coaching business.  It makes my day to see that I, or most likely God through me, was able to encourage someone to press on through trying circumstances and help them realize that the trial will not last forever.   I love to see other people succeed and it encourages and motivates me as well in my own journey.  Maybe that is why I love this letter from Paul so much. 

When was the last time you offered to someone a listening ear, word of encouragement, or perhaps just a note or phone call to let them know that you cared and were pulling for them?  Won't you do that today or this week?  I guarantee that it will be a richly rewarding experience - for you and for them.

For further thought:

1) What is the gift of God in you?  We all have been given something.  Are you using your gifting?

2) If you know your calling, what is stopping you from fulfilling it to its maximum potential?

3) Who can you enlist to help you on your journey to fulfill your calling & keep you focused on your strengths so you can avoid the "spirit of fear"?


True Abundance

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  - 1 Timothy 6:17 NKJV

How many of us are rich today?  I know that being rich is a relative term when spoken of regarding either material, emotional, personal or spiritual riches.   Here in the United States, even our poor have more "stuff" than some of the richest people in other parts of the world.  But no matter how rich we are with whatever or whomever we have in our lives, the bible says in 1 Timothy 6:17 that all of these things are uncertain.  So then, what can we have that will truly delight our souls?   Isaiah has the answer.

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance."
Isaiah 55:1-2 NKJV

The answer lies in our living God, who provides for us riches beyond compare that will never perish.  There is no uncertainty in God.  Without money, we can buy, eat and drink the living water and bread of God's riches in the pages of His Word.   God's Word will not only lead us to eternal life through a belief on Jesus Christ, the one who paid the price for our souls, but it will lead us to riches in our lives on earth as well.  By seeking God and His will for our lives in both our character and our deeds, we will obtain priceless riches.  How can one put a value on peace of mind, patience and perseverance?  How can we put a value on love, joy & the knowledge that God will never leave us or forsake us no matter what?  Is there a price tag for the comfort in knowing that a good God who loves you for who you are today has all things under control in your life with your best interests at heart?  I don't think so.  Consider today how you can better have the abundant riches of God in your life.

Searching for Treasure...

1) What are you spending your "wages" on that does not satisfy?

2) When was the last time you opened up your bible to seek God's riches and get to know Him better? 

3) Examine the people you hang out with.  Are they seeking God's riches or man's?  Do you have a spiritual mentor?   


A Revealing Creation

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, - Romans 1:20 NKJV

Have you ever thought what you could know about God from just observing His creation?   When was the last time you took the time to just sit in a park or anywhere outside where you could look at something other than man-made structures and marvel over the magnificence of it all?   Some of my most intimate times with God come during the times where I am out in a park and take time to just soak it all in.

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some bible study homework in a local office park where one of the questions was similar to one I just posed here.  As I sat on a park bench looking through some trees at a pond on a perfect, sunny late summer day, I took note of what I saw.  Here is what I wrote down in my journal as I sat there:

  • water & water fountains
  • slight breeze - feeling it on my face and hearing it through the trees
  • color all around - amber/brown of the dying grass, green of the flourishing grass, brilliant flowers in the landscaping, azur blue sky and water, white clouds, bright green moss on the rocks at the water's edge
  • sun glistens on the water
  • warmth of the sun and the coolness of the shade
  • spider web in the distance with a leaf suspended in it
  • scampering squirrels gathering nuts for winter
  • a blue heron about 30 yards from me looking for a late afternoon snack
  • another bird flying low over the water looking for food
  • sounds of water fountain, breeze through the trees, and the buggy creatures in the woods all around
  • a stray yellow leaf floating to the ground from a tree
  • How many types of shapes, textures and colors are really here in this "picture", seen or unseen?

Can you picture some of my scene?  In really looking at the diversity and detail of the world we as human beings did not create, how can we not believe that a divine being exists that created it all?  Now, translating this into what I can see about God's attributes, I wrote down the following:

  • God is infinitely intelligent - Who else could have imagined all that He has created from the massive universe to the unnumerable species of plants, animals and crawly things?  Think of the lines, the curves, the textures, the different types of matter.
  • God is creative.  That goes without saying, given the previous statement.
  • God is crafty.  How else could He create things so well that each piece of physical creation pictures some type of spiritual principle?
  • God is ruler of all.
  • God is powerful.
  • God is merciful. 
  • God is a provider.  Every living thing has to eat something!
  • God loves beauty.
  • God loves us by even the simple act of providing us beauty.
  • God is orderly.
  • God is.

I could go on and on here, couldn't I?  As the bible says, because our world itself shows evidence of God and His character qualities, we are without excuse in knowing He exists.  From God's creation - even the little piece of it we can see - we are able to discern quite a bit about God. As created little people in a massive creation, who are we to think that we know it all? Do our measly mechanical inventions even compare to what God has created?  Anything we create is merely a cheap copy of what God has already perfected.  Does God need gears or motors or artificial power to make things move?  I think not.   I am speechless when I realize how small I am in the whole scheme of things, but I am glad that my God is the Creator of all and still is mindful of me.

For further thought/discussion:

1) What can you add to my list of God's attributes from your view of creation? 

2) How does thinking about such things affect how you might live your life today?

3) What can the world know about you from your "creation"?


From Heart to Mouth

"A good man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.  For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." - Jesus, Luke 6:45 NKJV

I've been away from this blog for a few days, not because I wanted to, but because I've been at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri for a mini-vacation with my husband.  We played some golf, ate some good and bad food and also just hung out and relaxed.  While on this vacation I've had a lot of time to think, read and study as well.  One verse in the bible I can't seem to get away from lately is Luke 6:45 quoted above.  As a result, I am compelled to post about it here.  Apparently God wants me (or maybe someone else) to learn something about it!  In the last week it has popped up in two different bible studies I'm doing, was quoted in another book I'm reading, was mentioned on the radio and was brought up to me by a couple of friends.     Hmmm.... I didn't think I'd been that bad lately! :)

Jesus says that we speak out of the abundance of our hearts.  Rooted in every word we say are the attitudes and values we hold regarding our everyday life.  No matter how strong-willed we are or how determined we are to hide all of our true selves from the world around us, eventually what is in our hearts will seap or maybe even erupt out of our mouths, sometimes unknown to us but often noticed by those close to us.  We can temporarily change our behavior (which is but a symptom of a deeper problem) but only God can change our hearts (the underlying disease) so that we won't have to use the bandaid of discipline with our minds to control our tongues.

When was the last time you examined your heart for evidence of disease?  We can ask God to reveal to us areas in our lives where we need to change by praying this bible passage back to Him:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.  (Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV)

What is really in your heart?  What would an unbiased person say about you from what they hear rolling off your tongue?  I want my thoughts to be God's thoughts because I know that His are good.  I want to be known by the abundance of good words coming from my mouth because I've been so saturated with the mind of God through His word that they can't help but pour out.  I don't want a bandaid fix on my bad attitudes.  I want the "disease" cured.  How about you? 

Dear Father, thank You for always being there for me, for us, to listen and care for our hearts that have been battered and bruised by life's circumtances.  Reveal to us the areas that you want us to change and enable us to change these deep areas to conform to your image.  We cannot do it without your help.  Give us the desire to let your Word dwell in us so deeply that it cannot help but change our lives and permeate our hearts and minds.  As the song says, "Change our hearts, O God."  Amen.


The Word In Us

NOTE: This is a "reprint" of my original post at Laced With Grace from 9/12/2007.  Due to the subject matter and the fact that it fits with my next post, I felt that it was worthy of posting in its entirety at Bread Crumbs.


Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. - Col 3:16 NKJV

I heard a radio preacher - it may have been Dr. David Jeremiah - include this verse in a sermon of his that was broadcasted a couple of weeks ago. What he said really hit home to me as he described how so many times if a person would eavesdrop upon a room full of Christians in conversation, most of the time one could not tell a Christian was in the room because there was no mention of God or the bible in the conversations. Think about it. How many Christians do you know with whom you can carry on a deep conversation about what you are both learning from your daily bible reading? When was the last time you had such a conversation?

This was a disconcerning thought to me, although not a new one. I know the statistics regarding how many Christians actually read God's Word every day, and without looking it up, I do know that the number is not the majority. I consider myself very fortunate to have a few friends, including my own brother with whom I can discuss scripture. We frequently discuss our learnings and sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron (Pro 27:17) because the Word of God is dwelling richly in us. I know without a shadow of a doubt that these dear individuals in my life are not only searching the bible for knowledge about God, but are letting God's word change the way they think and the way they act so that they can be conformed to God's image. What a blessing they are to me.

Just this week I have been blessed (and challenged!) by my brother and a dear friend by thoughts about what a particular passage in the bible really means. What would you share this week with a friend from your quiet time with God this week? How are you letting God's Word affect your life? Are you letting it dwell in you because you have saturated your mind with the thoughts and words of the Creator of the Universe? Conversely, are you barely in the Word, and thus letting the truth of scripture only strike a glancing blow at your heart and mind?

If the Word of God does not get the opportunity to dwell in us richly and deeply, we will not obtain or retain its benefits for ourselves, much less be of any use in teaching others about who God is. What type of a Christian do you want to be - powerful or powerless? Without a doubt I know what I prefer. I want to have the mind and heartbeat of God working in and on my life so I can make an impact for Him. How bad do you want to make an impact? Why not start today?

For His Glory,

Janna


Is It In You?

How bad do you want to make an impact for God's Kingdom?  Find out how you can make the most impact as well as be a blessing to others with my post over at Laced With Grace today, entititled "Is It In You?".

Hope to see you there!


God's Provision for Leaders

Have you ever been thrust into a position of leadership and wondered how on earth you were going to accomplish the task in front of you?  I know I have.  I bet that most people have in one form or another.  Remember that we all lead someone - whether it be in our homes, our jobs, our schools or our churches.  In 1 Samuel 10, Saul found himself in a position of leadership that he did not ask for.   As I mentioned yesterday, Saul had just been walking along minding his own business when he got approached by Samuel who told him the news that he would soon become king.

I wonder what I would do if I was told one day out of the blue that I was "chosen" to be in charge of the metropolitan area in which I live?  That would be a wee bit scary!  I would hope there would be some kind of training to guide me on my way.  With respect to Saul, God provided everything necessary for him to succeed.  Other than being tall and good looking, I'm not sure what other leadership skills that Saul possessed, but I do know that God took care of the rest, as He will also do for us.  Let's take a look at what God gave Saul.

1) A Foundation in God's Word. - Before Samuel anointed Saul, he told Saul that he wanted to show Him the word of God.

And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, ( and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.  (1 Samuel 9:27)

I wonder how long Samuel and Saul talked about the word of God.  The principles in God's word are essential to effective leadership and productive lives.  (2 Tim 3:16)

2) A Change of Heart. - Samuel told Saul that he would be turned into another man by the Spirit of the Lord.  I wonder what exactly that meant in Saul's case.  Perhaps God gave him courage and compassion along with the wisdom and wherewithal to get the "job" done.  Remember, we are all turned into "another man" when we become Christians!  (2 Cor 5:17). 

And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. (1 Samuel 10:6- Samuel's words to Saul)

And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. (1 Samuel 10:9)

(NOTE: This also reminds me of the New Testament Saul (aka Paul, as the "new man") in Acts 9:17)

3) A Leadership "Team" - It is definitely more fun and more productive to be in leadership if you have a good team of people around you.  We can get more done if we have the support structure of a team.  God provided the same for Saul.  What a great God we serve, huh?  God thinks of everything.  He touched the hearts of some local men to help Saul in his new "job".

And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched. (1 Samuel 10:26)

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Can you see how much God provides for us when we accept His plans for us?  I don't know who said this, but a quote I've heard before always sticks in my mind about these principles:

God doesn't always call the equipped but He always equips the called.

Is God calling you to service in a way that you feel unequipped?  God can equip you.  Are you afraid that you will be "going it alone"?  God will provide you with helpers too.  Most importantly, we need to keep praying and  waiting on God's timing before we set out on our own.  When God is ready for us, He will make us ready for Him.

(NOTE: This is a republished post of my October 19, 2006 entry entitled "Equipped by God".   Due to the fact that this time of year many people are starting up new ministries or revamping old ones with new faces of leadership, I thought it would be beneficial for some of my newer readers.)