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August 2008
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October 2008

Accepting the Do-Over

Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." ~ He 4:6-7 NKJV

God gives us many do-overs to start anew.  He's been giving them out all through biblically recorded history.  In the passage above we see King David being quoted in Psalm 95 by the writer of Hebrews.  David, approximately 400 years after Joshua and the Israelites failed to enter their promised land (or "rest") the first time, spoke of another change for God's people to enter into rest.

God is still waiting for his people to come back to him and he still waits today.  He is still giving out do-overs!  Unfortunately, we get caught in a cycle of defeat by not making good use of our do-over, and fail to enter the spiritual rest that God promises us.  Our unbelief, not trusting God, keeps us defeated.

Generally, there are four keys to overcoming our unbelief:

1) Forgive your past mistakes.  God has forgiven you.  Forgive yourself and start fresh.

2) Remember your past victories.   Intentionally recall a time in the past where God has come through for you.  He will do it again!

3) Trust God's promises.  The Bible is filled with truths to hold on to.  God will do what He says because He cannot lie.

4) Trust God's power.  God created the universe. He can create a new beginning and craft a solution to your problems.

The bottom line is that each day is a new day and no matter where we are in our lives, God will give us another chance to believe in Him.  Most importantly, He is worthy of our trust. We can pray to Him with confidence, "I can't _________________, but You can _______________."  When we master that prayer, we are on our way to the "rest" God desires for us.

Points to ponder:

  • What are you the most tired of struggling with in your daily life?
  • What kinds of things do you tend to work out on your own?
  • At what times do you say you trust God, yet in reality still hold on tightly to your problems?

Note: This post is excerpted from a portion of a new retreat I'm presenting this weekend entitled "The Work of Rest".  If you are interested in learning more about it or would be interested in booking it at your church, please contact me.

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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.


Blessed by Waiting

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the LORD is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18 NIV)

I wonder if there is a support group somewhere for well-intentioned, God-seeking impatient people.  I'm sure you know the type.  Maybe you are one of them, sincerely wanting to do God's work, but sometimes jumping in with your own plans and getting ahead of God's timing, accomplishing a lot of good things, but missing out on the best God has to offer.  I know a few of those people, and admittedly I'm one of them at times. 

God says repeatedly that we should wait on and trust in him.  Through the prophet Isaiah, God chastises the people of Israel for carrying out plans that weren't of Him.  They were forging ahead, trusting in man-made provisions for their security and God reminded them of the futility of their ways.  He then offered a standing invitation to return to Him for their needs and for future blessing as he stated in Isaiah 30:18, "Blessed are all who wait for him!"

We will be blessed by waiting on God.  While we view our world from ground level, He looks at the world from a "helicopter" view.  Not only does He see how all things are working together, but He also knows what skills and character qualities we need to be able to carry out His plans.  He knows when we will be able to most effectively carry out His will.  We don't.

When we jump ahead we miss the best for our lives and create more struggles.  Because we jump ahead, thinking we are ready but really aren't, we struggle with both the inefficiencies of our underdeveloped character as well as the inefficiencies caused by all of the external "pieces" of the plan not being available yet.  However when we wait on God's timing, He will take care of those kinds of details for us.   We may still face opposition in executing the plan, but it will definitely be easier His way.  That's why we will be blessed by waiting.  Perhaps by waiting we will even "get there" quicker.

To Ponder:

1) In what area of your life are you getting impatient with God?

2) In this area, how will you benefit from waiting on God?  What work does He have yet to do in you or in the situation?

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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.


The Strengthening Touch of God

Have you ever felt so weary from life, whether it is home, work, worry or ministry, that you just felt that you couldn't take one more step?  That you felt all strength was zapped from you?   I think Daniel felt this way in Chapter 10 after he was left alone to have another troubling vision. (10:7)

Now imagine being on the ground, face down and feeling a comforting touch... 

Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.  And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you."  While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.  (Dan 10:10-11 NKJV)

This touch occurred to Daniel three different times in the chapter.  After hearing words from the "angel" in v12-14, Daniel again turned his face to the ground, speechless.  The vision had overwhelmed him and no strength was left in him.  This time, "suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men" touched his lips, allowing Daniel to speak. (v16).  Daniel spoke but ran out of steam again and for the third time, God (in the form of angel or preincarnate Christ - you decide) touched and strengthened him.

Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.  And he said,"O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!  (Dan 10:18-19 NKJV)

Admittedly, Daniel was strengthened after this exhortation!  Wouldn't you be, if Jesus Himself told you to get up and face life?   Did you know that Jesus tells us personally to keep pressing on all of the time in His Word?  I find that so awesome how he personally speaks to me. I pray that He speaks to you too, all who are weary and void of strength:

Isaiah 40:28-31 28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.    30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.    30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (NKJV)

 


Politics and Christianity

Our Christian worldview should affect everything we do, including how we vote.  How do you determine who you vote for?  Do you follow family tradition as many do, or do you sift through the issues for yourself, comparing your candidates views on various issues to what the bible says regarding those issues? 

The past few posts at Truth Talks, discuss these issues and present some pertinent information to equip Christians at the polls:

Wise Advice About Politics - by Sharon Houk, addresses where the two major parties really stand on Homosexuality and Abortion.

The Biblical View on Abortion - by Janna Rust, equips the Christian as to what God says about abortion. 

Hope to see you there...and if you have any topics you'd love to see addressed there, please feel free to comment or email me and let me know.


Offended By Worship

Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the might works they had seen...And some of the Pharisees callled to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."~Luke 19:37,39 NIV

When I look around the room during our Sunday morning church service, I always enjoy the different ways people express their appreciation for God.   Some quietly listen to the music, others sing at the top of their voice.  Some raise their hands or clap, some keep them at their sides or on the pew in front of them.  Some people pray aloud while others pray silently.  If heartfelt, all forms of praise are pleasing to God.  However, not all people appreciate this variety of expression and some would probably prefer that it not take place at all. 

Giving praise to God was not always appreciated in Jesus' day either.  In Luke 19:37-39, Jesus was making his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and the disciples were ecstatic.  I can picture the multitudes lining the streets as they would for the a popular parade, erupting with cheers and clapping as Jesus passed by.  The Pharisee's didn't like what was going on and asked Jesus to rebuke the crowd.

I've wondered why the loud praise would matter to the Pharisees.  Why were they offended?  Were they afraid?  Was it disturbing their nap time?  What did it matter to them at all?  I'm going to speculate that the praise given to Jesus made them uncomfortable because they didn't understand the reason for it.  Unbelievers can't possibly understand the motive behind worship, and that's what the Pharisees were.  For that matter, depending on their level of spiritual maturity, some believers might feel the same as the Pharisees.

No matter how its expressed, worship for our Creator and Savior cannot be squelched by man.  As Jesus said, even if the people are silenced, the rocks would still cry out. How do you feel about the way different people express their personal worship around you?   


Receiving a Calling

And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: "You are my Son, Today I have begotten You." - Hebrews 5:4-5 NKJV

I've probably mentioned in the last week or two that I've been absorbed lately in a writing project, hence my somewhat sparce postings lately.  I also spoke yesterday at a Stonecroft Christian women's group in Sabetha, Kansas.  As I ponder my past few weeks alongside of the above passage, I can see the importance of receiving a calling rather than achieving a calling.  Let me explain.

In the passage above, the author discusses the qualifications for priesthood within the framework of the Jewish faith.  Priests back then were called into service by God because it was God who ordained, or "called", Aaron's family line to be priests.  Even Jesus, our eternal High Priest, did not create His calling. 

If Jesus didn't ask for His calling, why should we?  Following are three reasons why I believe we need to receive rather than achieve...

  • God's calling requires a price. - Fulfilling God's call on our lives is hard work and can be discouraging at times.  In addition, when we are executing God's plans, we subject ourselves to the wiles of the one, Satan, who wants to thwart God's plans.
  • God's calling requires timing. - God will allow us to do His work when we become who He needs us to be to do that work.  Then, and only then, will He provide us the resources to get the job done.  We need to wait on God's timing.  He will exalt us when He knows we are ready.
  • God's calling requires God.  - Pride has no place in the work of the Lord.  Otherwise, how could the work be God's?  We'd be taking credit for it.  Additionally, God's plans for us are often bigger than we can imagine.  God-size callings have to include God in the planning mix.

So, have I been "called" to speak for God, either in the written or spoken word?  Perhaps.  It requires a price but I'm willing to pay it.  I definitely need God in it because I've never really considered myself a speaker.  But somehow, people are uplifted and encouraged by what I present.  Therefore I will keep pressing on and waiting for what God chooses to do with me next.  How about you?  What are you sensing is God's call on your life?  I know He's got something for you.  Just receive it and let the fun begin!

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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.


Complete Conformity

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things that are not seen.  (2 Cor 4:16-18a NKJV)

For a little over a year, I have been receiving weekly allergy shots in an effort to change my immune system so that I will no longer have to endure the runny nose, sneezing, & congestion that accompanies my exposure to high levels of mold, most pollens and last but not least - cats.  It is fascinating to me that I have my own personalized serum stored at the allergy injection clinic including “pieces” of all of the 30+ allergens that I’m allergic to.  It is my hope that after 5 years of the prescribed shot regimen I will be able to play golf symptom-free during the bad allergy days.  I mention cats  because I want you to know that I did not sign up to receive allergy shots to eliminate my allergy to cats!  I even asked the nurse at the clinic -in a joking manner- if they could possibly take “cat” out of my serum. :) After all, a) the arm injected with the “cat” itches and swells the most the day of the shot and b) I’m not really a cat lover anyway. The nurse just laughed at my request and went on with her business.  I did, however, make sure that she knew I really was kidding.

What do you think is God’s reaction when we ask Him to change us and then complain when the change hurts?  As I thought about my experiences at the doctor’s office, I realized that I am no different with God.  I really do want God to make into the woman He wants me to be, but I want it to be easy.  Don’t you?  But lasting inner change is never easy is it?  To encourage us to change, God uses the trials in our lives.  Our ”job” is just to endure them the best that we can and let them work their way in us as God intends.  Unfortunately, we can’t tell God that we only want to improve certain aspects of our character.  We must accept God’s intention of working in us complete conformity to His will at whatever the cost.  The good news is that the bible says that we can rejoice in our struggles.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)

We don’t have to be selective in the way we wish for God to change us because at the end of the journey lies wonderful hope.  As the passage from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, God promises that our momentary afflictions are working for our greater good, but to see this we must look at things from God’s perspective, not ours.  Because we can trust in God’s Word and God’s character, we can rest assured that no matter what, He has our best interests at heart.  We must not ask God to take “patience” or “self-control” out of our “serum”.  If we do, we might miss out on the blessing.

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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.


Knowing Your Identity

"Who's Your Daddy?", one of the most important questions in pop culture today, can take on many different meanings.   Knowing our birth father enables us to know where we came from and may help predict where we are going. 

On matters of eternity, the question "Who's Your Daddy?" is paramount in importance because our "family" relations determine our eternal destiny, heaven our hell.  As Christians, we are born again into God's family.   Being born again is the only way to become a child of God.  Can you show someone from the bible where this is so?  Check out my post over at Truth Talks for the answer!

Hope to see you there!


Hope Deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.  - Proverbs 13:12 NKJV

My friend's son is getting married this weekend.  I've heard her talk about the day with excitement and anticipation as the weeks rolled by this summer.  The big day is almost here and I can sense the joy in her spirit.  Can you remember the last time a long awaited "dream" or desire finally came to fruition?  How did you feel when you were waiting?

I don't like waiting, but as I get older, I'm getting better at it.   Not only am I getting better at waiting in traffic or grocery store checkout lines, but I am getting better at waiting in the bigger areas of life.  I'm learning how to not "make things happen" and am re-learning that the only things I do have control of are my own thoughts and actions.   These learnings have helped me to hold my expectations loosely and better enjoy the moments in between expectation and reality. 

Hope deferred, or delayed "dreams" don't have to make our hearts sick if we keep our minds' eye focused on what we have to do today and let God take care of the rest.  Patience comes with knowing and trusting that God's desired outcomes are better than what we can imagine anyway.  Patience comes when we surrender our will to God's.  When we hold our desires loosely, we allow God to change the desires of our hearts.  Our waiting will become less painful as we trust God's provision and direction for our lives.  They still will bring life and joy when they come, but the waiting might just be a little easier.

For further thought:

1) Rate your "grip" on your own desires on a scale of 1-10 (10 being white-knuckled). How does your "grip" affect your patience in waiting?  How does it affect what you do with what you hear from God? 

2) What are you learning from God in your situation?  Does God want you to take hold of a different desire?

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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.


Thinking Like Children

"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." - Luke 18:17

If you can, think back to a time in your life before innocence was lost.  Before behavior patterns became cemented into your lifestyle.  Before you knew it all.  Before you were ever hurt or betrayed by someone.  Before you became judgmental.  When it was easy to forgive.  Times were easier then, weren't they? 

Innocence is underrated.  From a learning perspective, innocence brings ease into learning.  With innocence, old ways of thinking don't have to be unlearned and skeptical thoughts don't have to be wrestled asiide.  From a teaching perspective, there is nothing like teaching a pupil who is eager to learn, has no presuppositions the subject matter and is willing to accept instruction for what it is and nothing more.  Children are that way.  It is no wonder Jesus loved them so. 

Jesus used the children as examples for us.  He knew how difficult we make things for ourselves sometimes by thinking too much or rationalizing ways to live our own way and still be right with God.  He knew how much we need to be right and would resist being told to change our ways.   He also knew that with our own adult thinking we would fail.

How do you receive God's instruction for your life?  With adult resistance or childlike acceptance?  Oh, if only we could accept His teachings as llittle children.  Maybe we can with a little work on our part to put our pride aside.  If we ask God to receive His wisdom as eager to learn children, He will grant our request.  Only then can we enter the fullness of all God intends for us.  Maybe it won't be as hard as we think.  After all, as Christians we are children of God.

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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.