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September 2008

Hoping in God

Dear readers, I am consumed with my retreat writing and am sincerely hoping in God to find the words to say and to meet my own internal deadline of completing my first draft by the end of August.  Thankfully, the retreat is not until September 26 and I'm pretty much on track.  Consequently my writings have been a little sparse this past week.   However, I am also thankful that I am able to share a post written just yesterday about hope, written over at Truth Talks.  I'm sharing it here in its entirety today because someone stopping by might be refreshed and rejuvenated by these words. 

HOPING IN GOD
by Sharon Houk

As I hear about all the challenges our nation and world is facing, I am tempted to cover my ears and eyes hoping it will all go away. A nagging voice lures me to sit back and let others do whatever is necessary to fix it. Others who are closer to me struggle with fear and frustration of personal crisis. What am I to do? I am but one person.

I am to share biblical truths and promises wherever I can. That's what I am to do.

The purpose of Truth Talks is to challenge its readers to know how the Truth, the truth of God's Word, sets us free from uncertainty's bondage. Whether it’s uncertainty in the world or in the other room, struggling through heartache is doable when we know the promises of the God of hope. Take a moment to soak in these promises.

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10)

On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul. (Psalm 138:3)

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.(Isaiah 58:11)

It is said that two things in life are certain: taxes and death. There is a third certainty: hope in God. We may not see what he’s doing at the moment, but he answers our calls. We may feel like we’re walking alone, but he’s guiding our steps. We may feel parched and sun-scorched, but he’s preparing refreshment. Keep hoping in God.

Who do you know that needs a cup of refreshment today?


Commit Doesn't Mean Do

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. - Proverbs 16:3  NKJV

This verse has haunted me for years.  I've both received it as instruction from wise counsel and given it as "wise" counsel to others, instructing them (and myself) to "just do the right thing and your emotions/feelings/thoughts will eventually catch up".   But is that what the verse is really saying?  Could this interpretation be contrary to the premise of Ephesians 2:8-9?  Ephesians 2:8-9 says

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Our doing...

... takes God's provision out of the "miracle" equation.
... gives us reason to accept credit for the changed life.
... enslaves us when done out of obligation.

Commit doesn't mean "do".  The English "commit" is from a Hebrew root word meaning "to roll".  I like the way my study bible explains this:

The idea is to "roll your cares onto the Lord."  Trusting the Lord with our decisions frees us from preoccupation with our problems."

A parallel verse is this one:

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5)

I am changing the way I "counsel" with respect to this verse.  All we need to be doing is praying for our attitudes and our direction.  God will do the rest.   He will establish our thoughts or plans.  If we try, all we'll do is get ourselves into more "trouble".   That's what we should be taking credit for, not the miracle.

Dear Lord, thank you for the treasures in your word and how when unearthed, it interprets itself.  Help me and other "doers" like me to rest in your provision and promises to do right by us in your sovereign plan.  Bend our will to yours.  Break us if you must.  Most of all, bring us close to you so we can clearly see your will.  Amen.

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


Weeping and Rejoicing

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. (Ne 8:9 NKJV)

It is not surprising that the people were weeping & mourning when they heard the words of the Law being read by Ezra this day.  It was a sacred moment and a life-changing experience for the listeners present.  They could have been thankful that their city wall was finally constructed.  Perhaps they realized just how sinful they had become over the years and the punishment they deserved from God.

Think back to the last time you were emotionally impacted by either the spoken or written word.  What sparked the emotion in you?  Was it thankfulness or conviction? Words are powerful because no matter where they come from, they speak into our lives.  God's words are the most powerful of all because they convict us of wrongdoing, comfort us in our sorrows, and create hope in our circumstances.

Hearing God's truth with respect to our personal lives is oftentimes hard to digest.  We don't like to hear how we've been wrong and necessary life changes may seem too monumental a task.  However, God is not asking us to change in our own strength.  We need not be overwhelmed.  When Nehemiah, Ezra and the priests exhorted the people to quit crying, they made sure to tell them why they should as they proclaimed ""Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Ne 8:10 NIV). 

The Israelites had help to change and so do we.  God graciously extends forgiveness and provision to those who diligently seek to follow his ways.  He can be all that we need if we rely upon him.  This is the joy of the Lord.

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


Receptivity to God's Word

Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands.  And they  bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. - Neh 8:6 NKJV

Have you ever listened to someone,either in a group setting or one-on-one, while thinking to yourself "I wish I could be anywhere but here"?  How much information do you think you gleaned from the person speaking?  On the contrary, when you were interested in the subject matter or the speaker, it is likely that you took home some practical information to use or share with others.  Our attitudes affect our intake.

In the book of Nehemiah, we see a group of people yearning to hear the words of God.  In the open square before the Water Gate in Jerusalem, the people gathered to hear Ezra read the Book of the Law to them.  I wonder if they were ecstatic because their city wall was now complete.  Maybe they had renewed zeal for their calling as God's chosen people.  Ezra read from morning until midday, and "the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law." (Ne 8:3)  After hearing the reading, a collective "Amen" was heard (v6) and they bowed and worshiped the Lord in a humble pose.

I bet this was a sight to behold.  There are three principles from Nehemiah 8:1-6 we can all use to reap the full impact of God's Word in our lives.

1.  Attitude - Seek God's truth for our lives.  When we look forward to how God can change us, we will be more receptive to what he has to say.

2.  Attentiveness - When God speaks to us, we need to give Him our full attention, expecting to hear life-changing principles or promises to apply to our situations.

3.  Application - Everything God says can be directly applied in our lives.  We need to be willing to press our ways into God's mold, not His into ours.

When will you next have the opportunity to hear from God?  It could happen any time, especially if we pick up our bibles daily to hear from him directly.  How will you approach that time differently this next time?

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


New Age, Same Old Story

Since the beginning of time, the great Deceiver, Satan, has been working hard to mess up God's plan for mankind with his subtle lies, disguised as truth. 

  • How has Satan's thread of lies been woven into society over the ages?
  • Where do you find "new age" thinking in churches today?
  • What should we be on the alert for?

For the answer to these questions, check out the post "Becoming Like God, Without Him" over at Truth Talks.  Sharon Houk does not disappoint and has included some "bonus" material.  Hope to see you there!


Fulfill Your Ministry

When you read the bible, do you read it with the expectation that God will speak to you through it?  Do you keep pen and paper at hand so you can capture His thoughts as they come at you in His whisper?

If we anxiously come to our devotional time expecting to hear from God, He will not disappoint.  His Word is living and active, more powerful than a double-edged sword, and is able to direct our lives.  All we need to do is come to the "table" and partake.

With this, I will challenge you with the following passage.  IT is a part of perhaps Paul's final letter before his death, written to his son in the faith, friend and faithful protege, Timothy.  Paul had specific words for Timothy in this letter.  I'm sure they came from God.  What does the following passage say to you?

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NKJV)

Take time if you need to read this passage through slowly again.  Get your pen and paper out.  Jot down what you hear God saying to you.  What would it mean in your life to fulfill your ministry?  What will you do with what you've heard?

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


Prerequisites for a Priceless Friendship

But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.  For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 2:19-21 NASB)

A friend with a kindred spirit is a priceless gift from God.  He or she can only come from God.  God definitely has a unique way of bringing people together.  I've been blessed to have a number of close friends over the course of my lifetime.  As I've matured over the years, my friendships have also changed.  Some have endured, some have faded away and new friends have also entered into my life ... all in God's perfect timing.

In this particular week of my life, I happened to stop by a blog I hadn't read in a long time and found this post about the kindred spirit friendship of Paul & Timothy as well as that of David and Jonathon.  When I read one commenter lamenting that she doesn't think these types of friendships exist any more, I wondered why this is so.  While I don't believe they are "extinct", because I am fortunate to be a part of one, I do agree that they are rare.  I also wonder if the reason for the rarity doesn't lie somewhere within the above passage, specifically because deep down people "seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus."

Priceless friendships require both parties to be seeking after Jesus with all of their hearts.  Both parties should be passionately seeking God's will over their own, pouring over the Bible in prayer for answers.  They need to pray for each other, spend time with each other and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's prompting to either exhort or listen to the other.   Pride and self-serving agendas should be put aside.   These are the prerequisites for priceless relationships.   

Finding one person meeting these prerequisites is hard enough to find...and a relationship takes two! Even Paul could only find Timothy to be genuinely concerned about the Philippians and I'm sure that even Timothy wasn't all of these things all of the time.  I'm wondering how much richer our friendships would be if we all persistently sought God's help to mold us into His image.  Maybe we could become priceless friends.

To ponder:
1.  Do you have what it takes to both "sharpen" and be "sharpened by a friend? (Pr 27:17)
2.  How much are you seeking God?
3.  Who do you need to become?

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