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November 2008
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January 2009

Heaven - The Ultimate Vision

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.  Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. (Rev 21:10-11 NASB)

 

New Year's Resolutions are just around the corner.  Goal setting mode is upon us. When it comes to setting goals, it is important to envision the end result we had in mind so that when we lose momentum half way to the finish line, we will be motivated to keep going.

 

As Christians, we work hard to draw closer to God so we can know what He desires from us.  When we fully surrender to God’s will and realize our life’s purpose, we strive to achieve it at all costs.  As we work, we may remind ourselves from time to time of the earthly vision we had in mind, but how often do we think of our ultimate prize, heaven?

 

Perhaps we don't give enough thought to it. Keeping our eyes on the prize of heaven can keep us going through the tough times.  Today I'm going to share a Top Ten list from my pastor's sermon on 11/23.  From Pastor Jason St. John, here's the list.

 

Top 10 Reasons Heaven Will Be Awesome

 

10.       A new body.  (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

9.         Awesome food.  (Mt 8:11, Re 19:9)

8.        Meeting the great characters of history.

7.        The reunions.  (1 The 4:13, 16-17)

6.         No more sin.  (Re 21:27)

5.        The never-ending adventure.

4.         New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem.  (Rev 21:1-5, 10-11)

3.        The "No Mores". (Re 7:16-17, Is 65:17-18)

2.        Awesome Worship. (Re 5:11-14, Re 7:9-10)

1.        Seeing God.  (1 Jo 3:2, John 14:3)

 

Take some time today and look these verses up in your bible.   We all have something to look forward to as a result of our endurance here on earth.  Heaven will be awesome.  God promises it will be so.

 

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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.


Merry Christmas 2008!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  For a special holiday wish for all of you who have let me be a small part of your lives,
click
here.

Blessings to you and yours,

Janna


God With Us

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God Himself will be among them, - Revelation 21:3

 

Christians around the globe will be celebrating the first advent of Jesus Christ tomorrow on Christmas day.  As foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 8:10) over 2000 years ago, the Almighty God, Creator of the universe & King of Kings came to earth as a little baby…just to be with us.  Let that sink in for a moment.  God came to be with us.  This first time He came without fanfare, yet His birth was to pave the way for something greater than we could ever imagine.

 

I wonder what would have happened had Jesus came to earth the first time as a Mighty Conqueror rather than a lowly babe.  His name would have still been Emmanuel, meaning “God with us”.  However, I suppose we would not have gotten to see the richness of God’s character that way, because we couldn’t have fathomed God as one of us.  Seeing God as a man, growing from infant to teenager to manhood, in the most humble of ways, gives us a visual picture that we might not have seen otherwise.  I’m thankful that God chose to come to earth in the way that He did.

 

Jesus will return someday the way the Jews expected Him to come the first time—as a mighty King and conqueror.  He will come as John describes in the book of Revelation.  He will dwell with us someday in a different way than in the past.  The lowly manger will be replaced by a king’s throne, the crown of thorns by all of God’s glory.  The power of His resurrection will be made known fully as He makes all things new from the seat of His throne (Rev 21:5).  The bible says

 

and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away,”  (Rev 21:4 NASB)

 

We can doubly celebrate this Christmas by celebrating His birth and His soon again coming.  How much richer will your Christmas be if you celebrate Christmas this way?

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours.  May you always remember that God is with us.


Grown Up Christmas List

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners;Isaiah 61:1 NASB

 

As I go about the business of my daily routine and pre-Christmas rituals, I often listen to Christmas music.  One of my favorite Christmas songs, even though it puts me in a melancholy mood when I hear it is the song “Grown-up Christmas List”, written by David Foster & Linda Thompson Jenner.  As I hear Amy Grant sing the words, my own thoughts echo the chorus as I think “This too, is all I really want for Christmas.”

 

Here’s the “grown-up” Christmas list as written for the chorus:

 

No more lives torn apart

That wars would never start

And time would heal all hearts.

 

Everyone would have a friend

And right would always win

And love would never end.

 

Some people may call me an idealist.   I was told by my personal coach just this past summer that I wanted to have it all.   I know I do and I know that I can’t have it all.  It frustrates me that I can’t, but yet I press on.  However, someday we will have it all.  Jesus came to earth so that we could.  Because He came to earth the first time, we have an opportunity for salvation, an eternal existence in heaven and access to the comfort on earth that only He can provide.  Because He will come to earth a second time, we will see an end to all wars and Good triumph over Evil for the final time. 

 

Maybe we can’t have it all here on earth now, but we will someday.  God’s Word says it is so.  In the meantime, let’s do the best we can appreciate what we do have in this imperfect world.


Insincere Prayers

And they do not cry to me from their heart when they wail on their beds; For the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves, they turn away from Me. – Hosea 7:14 NASB

 

When someone asks you for help, do you sometimes question their motives because maybe their words don’t match the body language conveyed or what you know about the person?  Here in Hosea, God is using the same discernment, with the advantage of being an omnipresent mind reader!

 

In Hosea’s time, the Israelites were anything but sincerely seeking God’s will for their lives.  They wanted God’s help when they needed Him, yet wanted to do their own thing the rest of the time.  They wanted to have their cake and eat it too.    They must have thought they could fool God into helping them in spite of their disobedience.

 

Sometimes we are no different.  We wail on our beds for God to change our worlds and provide for our needs.  In reality we want comfort for the symptoms of our “disease”, not the means to a cure for that “disease”.  We too, want help to survive while continuing on in our own foolish ways.   Unfortunately, we can’t fool God any more than the Israelites could.

 

God wants us to come to Him with our needs, but He wants us to come to Him with a sincere desire to change our ways and get to know Him better.  He wants to help cure us, changing our character, so that the symptoms of our “disease” no longer appear.  When we come to Him with a pure heart, He will also take care of our symptoms, providing comfort and provision as we work through our problems. 

 

How is the condition of your heart?  When you pray, are you asking for God to help you change or for Him just to help you?  Keep asking.  Keep praying.  Most importantly, sincerely turn to Him, putting aside your own agenda and asking God to accomplish His will in your life.  He will gladly oblige.

 

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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.


A Strange Way to Save the World?

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways, My ways,” declares the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8

 

This morning the children of our church acted out a nativity scene as part of their Christmas play.  As the little actor playing Joseph stood looking at the baby Jesus in a manger, he sang the following words from the 4Him song, Strange Way to Save the World:

 

“Now I’m not one to second guess what angels have to say

But this is such a strange way … to save the world.”

 

I wonder if the real Mary and Joseph had similar thoughts as they looked down at their newborn baby more than 2000 years ago.  When I think of all the ways that God, the Creator of the universe could have chosen to redeem mankind, my college-educated brain is in awe of the method God chose to redeem mankind from the consequences of sin.  If I had been given the responsibility of solving the problem, I would have brought Jesus to earth as an adult man, foregoing childhood and puberty!  

 

How many times in our own lives do we question God’s methods for molding the clay of our character into the shape He needs for His use?  Yet, when we question God, could we possibly come up with better solutions than His?   Obviously, our intellect and perspective on the world is no match for the likes of God.   As the bible says, our thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways.   We can trust God’s plan for our lives.

 

I’m glad that God’s ways and thoughts are different than mine.  Most of all, I’m glad He cares enough about me to make sure that I become exactly who He needs me to be to do the work He has prepared for me to do.   From my perspective, using someone like me to change my world is also a little strange.  I’m sure glad God is doing all the planning.

 

For further thought:

 

1)      What trial are you currently going through?

2)      What is God trying to teach you through this trial?

3)      How can God use this situation for His glory, both in the present and future?

 


Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15 NASB)

 

Any of us who have been alive very long at all have heard or even said the phrase “Actions speak louder than words.”  Actions have a louder voice than words because putting actions to our well-intentioned thoughts takes more time and effort than talking.  Living out what we say is important to us displays authenticity rather than hypocrisy.

 

Jesus often challenges the love of His disciples.  By His statement in John 14:15 above, Jesus tested the disciples’ love for Him.  Later in the book of John we see Jesus specifically addressing Peter:

 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:17)

 

As Jesus challenges His disciples, He challenges us as well.  Keeping God’s commandments takes sacrifice on our part.  To keep His commandments, we need to know them and understand them.  This kind of understanding comes through direct communication with God by prayerfully reading God’s Word.  Many times, we may need to talk to God in prayer, getting clarification on what He desires from us.  Sometimes, as it was with Peter, it takes more than one reading or prayer to comprehend exactly what is expected of us.  But when we finally do “get it”, we will be richly rewarded by God’s words “Well done.”   It will be worth the effort.

 

Actions do speak louder than words.  Sometimes they are the only way we can truly communicate what we say we believe.  How can you demonstrate your love for God and others today?

 

For deeper understanding:

1)      How well do you really understand what God wants from you?

2)      What will it take on your part to gain that understanding?

3)  On a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to learn what God requires?