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January 2008
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The Blessing of Unsolicited Advice

So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he said. - Exodus 18:24 NKJV

How many times have you given advice that was not taken well by the recipient?  To the contrary, how often have you received advice and not reacted well to it?  Unsolicited advice from a friend, family member or work associate can have mixed results.  More often than not, the well-meaning advice should have never been verbalized.  Sometimes though, the advice we receive may be exactly what we need to hear.

In Exodus 18, we see a perfect example of how such advice should be given and received in the continuing saga of Moses leading Israel to the promised land.  His father-in-law, Jethro, pays a visit which had a huge impact on Moses.  At the time of Jethro's visit, Moses was really getting bogged down in the details of judging every case of law brought to him by the people.  Hard telling how petty some of them were!  We can only imagine.  In short, Jethro saw what was going on and advised Moses to start delegating the smaller tasks so he wouldn't get burnt out. 

The key points to remember from this passage are related to when we should give advice and how we should receive it. 

1.  When giving, be educated.  We see in Exodus 18: 14 that Jethro spent some time observing the situation.   I'd venture to say that Jethro was also sensitive to God's leading as well. Advice should not be given unless all of the facts are known and mutual respect is established.

2.  When receiving, be humble.  Moses implemented all that Jethro advised him to do because he was a humble leader.  Moses valued effectiveness more than his ego.  He listened to wise Jethro and was a more effective leader for it.

Yes, giving unsolicited advice is a risky thing to do, but may be just the thing someone in your life needs to hear.  If given in the right way, it could be life-changing.  Who in your life might need your help today?

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


Importance of Teamwork

But Moses' hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it.  And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.  So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. (Exodus 17:12-13 NKJV)

This is such a wonderful picture of teamwork.   Israel still hadn't stopped complaining about their situation (Ex 16:3), Moses was at his wits end and the Amalekites had come to fight with Israel in Rephidim.  Moses, however had a plan.  He sent out mighty Joshua with some men to fight them while he (Moses) stood at the top of the hill overlooking the battlefield with the rod of God raised in the air.   As long as Moses kept his hands up, Joshua prevailed.  But Moses got tired.

Moses got tired and his friends Aaron and Hur picked him up.  They knew the importance of Moses' task, saw his need, and jumped in to help.  Yes, God was in the rod and was ultimately the source of Moses' power, but a rod on the ground did not victory make.  Let's keep focused on the human aspect this time.

We can help others or ask for help in a variety of ways.  We can pray or be prayed for.  We can roll up our sleeves to help or ask a competent friend to do that with us.  Together we can definitely accomplish more than we can alone.  Sometimes one plus one does equal three.  Whose "arms" can you lift up today?

Dear Father, I thank you for the support of those people you have put in my life who take the time to pray for me and support me when I am weak.  Thank you for your wisdom and your provision and for your persistent care for me.  Help me to see where I can be helpful to someone in need so that I can assist them in your will as Aaron and Hur helped Moses.  To you be the glory.  Amen.

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


Oprah's New Age "Classroom"

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 3)

In early February, I happened to catch the last fifteen minutes of an Oprah Winfrey show.  I've been haunted by those fifteen minutes ever since.  And the funny thing is, I don't watch daytime TV.  To make things even more interesting, it was the first fifteen minutes of Oprah that I had watched in the last twelve months.

So why is it that I could be "haunted" by Oprah Winfrey?  To clarify, Oprah herself doesn't bother me.  It appears that she is one of the kindest hearted individuals around and tries to use her money and influence to make the world a better place.  From what I can possibly know of Oprah through the media, I like her as a person.   What I heard that was so disturbing to me was her announcement of an upcoming class on a book written by a man she endorsed as "one of the leading spiritual teachers of today".  The Lighthouse Research blog, in a recent post entitled "'Oprah and Friends' to teach course on New Age Christ", states regarding Oprah that

Her recent promotion of New Ager Eckhart Tolle's January release, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose has turned the book into a best seller in just weeks. In the meantime, Oprah's year-long promotion of A Course in Miracles is leading countless women into the arms of a New Age religion and a false god. This is no minor thing that is taking place.

Dear readers, in the current times in which we live, we must be very careful who we believe.  No matter how charismatic, nice, intelligent, or well-intentioned someone is, they can be deceived into believing and then ultimately teaching things that aren't true - eternally dangerous things.  That is why we need to know the Truth of God's Word.  We need to know it so well that when we hear the subtle lies of New Age spirituality we will recognize them as such in a heartbeat and instantly know that they contradict the Christianity of the Bible.

I mention Oprah not to call her out, but to do the best I know how in contending for the faith - the faith of the Bible.   I cannot be silent when such subtle deception is taking innocent people farther away from the God of the Bible.  What she is doing, albeit with good intentions and some possible good effects on the way people view their place in the world, is no minor thing.  Please take some time to read the post I've referenced above so you can use the information as a means of sharing the Truth with someone else.  Most likely, you will know of someone taking Oprah's class.

UPDATE:  For more information, check out my 3/4/2008 post by clicking here.

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


The Real Object of Our Complaints

"...And what are we?  Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD." - Exodus 16:8b NKJV

Leaders have tough jobs.  Without a doubt.  Good leaders work hard and fulfill their roles not because of power or prestige but out of a sense of a higher calling to be good stewards of the talents and abilities they possess.  In spite of their efforts to perform their duties to the best of their abilities, most receive less positive feedback than they do negative feedback or criticism.  It was no different back in Moses' day.

By God's hand, Moses and Aaron had just led the nation of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.  However, the people were not satisified.  In fact, they were hungry, complaining and longing for the good ol' days back in Egypt.  In reading Moses' statement to the people that their complaints were not against he and Aaron but against God, I thought further about the nature of their complaints as well as how this could apply to us today.  How could our complaints be against God? 

  1. When we complain, we question God's ability to complete the work he has begun in us our around us.
  2. When we complain, we question God's character.  We fail to trust that God is by nature good and wants what is best for us.
  3. When we complain, we question God's wisdom and elevate our own thoughts and ways over his.

Complaining indicates a lack of faith, a lack of trust and a lack of humility on our parts.  Maybe our complaints really are against God.  Please keep in mind that I am by no means saying that we should never voice our opinions or concerns to God or to the people in positions of authority over us.  However, an examination of our attitudes before we share our thoughts might go a long way in ensuring that we are heard more effectively.

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


Discerning a Blessing

And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as the frost on the ground.  So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?"  For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat."- Exodus 16:14-15 NKJV

Ah, they did not know that the small round substance on the ground was to be their food for the next 40 years!  God had heard the Israelites complaints for food in the wilderness, and once again provided for His people, this time in the form of bread from heaven.   However, they did not recognize their blessing for what it was.  Moses had to explain it to them.

Once again there are several principles packed into this passage.  Let's examine them, shall we?

  1. Blessings can be tests.  God will use blessings to test our hearts in order to determine our level of obedience to him.
  2. Blessings can be disguised. Gifts from God aren't always immediately recognized as the blessings that they are.  Manna means "What?" The people didn't know what to make of this new foreign substance at first glance.  Once it was explained to them by an objective source, Moses, who wasn't complaining to God, they understood what they had.
  3. Blessings can be squandered.  We need to use the blessings God gives us as he intends them to be used.  Notice the specific instructions given to the Israelites in Exodus 16 for handling their blessing. (v20-21) Following God's instructions will keep our blessings alive.

Is there a blessing hanging around in your life that you have failed to recognize?  Are you using the ones you've received and recognized for God's glory?  We are blessed to be a blessing to others.  What will you do with yours?

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


Pressing Toward the Goal

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Jesus Christ has also laid hold of me...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus - Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

I wonder if we don't underestimate the power of knowing our callings in life - what Christ has "laid hold" of us for.  After we are initially called by God to come to him in a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there is a secondary calling.  God has a purpose for our lives.  God has given each of us a unique set of abilities and personalities to be employed for his use and once we surrender completely to His will, we will live more satisfying lives. 

I would venture to say that most of us never reach our full God-given potential.  Even if we discover our own specific purpose for our lives, many of us never put plans into action to move forward toward them.  Take a look at some recent statistics regarding goal setting.

Research shows that approximately 95 percent of us have never written out our goals in life, but of the 5 percent who have, 95 percent have achieved their goals.  In 1953 at Yale University, 3 percent of the graduating class had specific, written goals for their lives.  In 1975, researchers found that the 3 percent who wrote down their goals had accomplished more than the other 97 percent put together. - John Maxwell, Be All You Can Be, p29

Interesting stuff, huh?  I wonder if our apostle Paul wrote down his goals.  Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but the fact remains that he did know what he was called to do.  And his sense of calling drew him toward the end result.  He kept looking and reaching forward toward his goals. 

Connect Learning to Living:

1) Do you know what your life's purpose is?  If you would like to know, there are some excellent resources available to help you with this.  I'd be glad to help.

2) If you know your life purpose, what are you doing with what you know?

3) Where do you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?  What would your life look like then?  What would need to change in your life to get there?  Who can hold you accountable to pressing toward your goals?

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


The Test of a Blessing

Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.  In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."  - Exodus 16:4-5 NIV

What will you do with the blessings you receive?  In this passage we see God's faithfulness in providing a whining and complaining nation of Israel with food from heaven (manna) to sustain them in the wilderness.   Isn't God good?  If it were me doling out the blessing I might have told them to quit complaining for a day or two before I provided it to them.  It is a good thing that I'm not in control!

However, I wonder why God chose to test their obedience with the manna.  He didn't choose to test them with the water He provided back in Marah (Ex 15:22-26), yet they complained there as well.  It was apparently evident to God that the hearts of the Israelites were not totally with Him.  They had, after all, exclaimed their desire to be back in Egypt (Ex 16:3).  So God put them to the test. 

I think that many times we aren't much different than the Israelites.  We oftentimes follow the same cycle.  By God's mercy, after hearing our own cries for deliverance, He delivers us.  Freed from our trials, we quickly forget what we were delivered from, start complaining and wishing for the old life we never even really liked to begin with.  It is no wonder God has to repeatedly test the nature of our hearts for Him, even in our blessings.  How will you treat the blessings God has recently given you?  Will you do with them as He pleases?

Lord, hear our prayer and forgive us for consistently falling down in our walk with you.  Give us the desire to do your will and not our own in our lives.  Show us your ways and help us to be good stewards of the blessings you provide.  Amen.

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


Cursing a Blessing

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all of the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." - Exodus 16:2-3 NIV

Have you ever cursed God's blessings to you?  That sounds like a crazy question, doesn't it?  The Israelites did.  They had just been delivered out of slavery in Egypt to live free for God and yet all they could do was complain and yearn for their old life.  At first glance it sounds a bit silly since we know that prior to this passage in the bible we find out about how God personally delivered them by His mighty hand.  He first used plagues upon the Egyptians to force Pharoah to let them go and literally parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape.  Yet, once in safety, they complained.  Hunger has a way of drawing the worst out of people!

Think about how this biblical account pictures our lives as Christians.  We are delivered out of slavery to sin when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives.  We are guaranteed a new life of purpose and the power to change so that we can live our lives the way God wants us to.   We are also guaranteed that we will live a life forever in the presence of pure goodness - in heaven with God.  Yet, in the trials of this life, we rebel.  In the trials of this life, we get frustrated because we can't live life the way we want to.  We become no different than the grumbling Israelites who cursed their blessing, wishing they could have some of their old lives back...the good parts.  We forget that those good parts came with some terrible, powerless times though, don't we. 

God didn't bring us out of "Egypt" to make us miserable.  He brought us out to live abundant lives for Him.  He will enable us to live that abundant life.  We just need to quit complaining and quit fighting Him and let Him take control.

From Learning to Living:

  • What situation in your life do you need to turn completely over to God?
  • How can you let God help you in your desert?
  • Ask God to help you in your situation.

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


Planting the Purchased

You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, In the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.  - Exodus 15:17 NKJV

Moses sang these words to God in celebration of the miracle God had done in bringing the nation of Israel out of Egypt.  Previous to this moment, Israel had been in slavery for roughly 400 years.  God used two brothers (Moses and Aaron), a shepherd's rod and a stubborn Egyptian ruler, to perform one of the most incredible deliverances of all time.  Keep in mind probably the most important aspect of the story: God delivered, not man.

Moses knew very well that he had nothing to do with the Israel nation's "escape" from Egypt.  Moses merely said what God told him to say and raised up his shepherd's rod when God told him to do it.  Moses also knew that Good would be faithful in taking care of His people once they were out of their captivity.   He knew that God would establish or "plant" them again in the place where they could eventually flourish, a place that God had designed specifically for His "purchased" people.

Christian, did you know that God has purchased you?  No matter where you are in your life, He has a specific plan for your life.  If you need deliverence, in His time He will deliver you.  When He delivers you, He will provide a new way for you.  He will do all of the work necessary to make it happen.  We just need to put aside our own agendas and go along for the ride.  He's the power.  We're just the tool.

From learning to living...

1.  Are you in a transitional place in your life?  Maybe you are in between jobs, ministries, relationships, etc.  If God has delivered you, He will find a new "place" for you.

2.  What personal agenda are you holding on to that might hinder God's plan for you?

3.  How can you take what you've learned today to change your life tomorrow?

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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.


Profitable Fear

So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses. - Exodus 14:30-31 NKJV

Do you really know who God is?  Really?  Do you realize that He is so powerful that with one swipe of His hand he could wipe out our entire sinful world and start over from scratch if He so chose?  We deserve nothing less, Christians included.  But in God's infinite grace and mercy, because He is good, He spares us of His wrath and patiently works with us through circumstances in our lives to make us into the individuals He wants us to be.

God was working on Israel.  We can see from Exodus that He needed to do a horrible thing by destroying the Egyptians so He could accomplish His will.  Following a series of ten plagues on Egypt, God led His chosen people out of slavery and literally parted the Red Sea for them so they could escape.  Unfortunately for the Egyptians, they happened to be on the bad side of God's miracles.  On the other hand, the Israelites saw the great work the Lord had done.  This fear prompted them to believe God.

A healthy reverant fear of God is essential in our role of obedience.  Do we really know God if we don't have a proper fear of Him?  That healthy fear will prompt us to obey and believe Him even when things aren't going the way we would like.  It helps keep us humble and helps us to remember that this life is not about us, it is all about God.  Won't you let the fear of God be profitable for you?

From learning to living: 

1) How well do you know God?  If you knew Him, all aspects of Him, it would change your life.

2) How often are you in His "mind"?  Our level of intimacy and knowledge of God is directly proportional to how much time we spend in His Word. 

3) What one thing will you commit to today to get to know God better?

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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.