The Great Invitation

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

My pastor calls this passage the "Great Invitation". I had never heard of that concept before but find it very interesting and applicable. This passage has been described as the "how" to the Great Commandment (Mt 22:37-39) and the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20). This makes total sense to me. The premise being that in order to be able to fulfill those other two "Great's" (loving others, God & making disciples) we need to first learn from the Master, Jesus, by walking alongside Him in His yoke. Great stuff.

Did you know that yokes were custom made to fit the specific two oxen who were going to plow together? From what I've heard, training a new ox to plow a field meant that it would be yoked with a more experienced one until it learned what to do. The experienced ox would be the leader, bearing the bulk of the "responsibility" (as much as an animal can be responsible) and gently correcting the "newbie" as it learned what to do. Can you imagine then what it would be liked to be "yoked" to Jesus as His apprentice, learning the "ropes" of a life lived as He would have lived it? What a powerful picture of discipleship.

Now consider the added benefits to walking close to Jesus in His will for our lives. If we have learned from Him how to walk this Christian walk, and are consistent in our dedication to doing so, what would the implications be in our lives? I doubt that an easy yoke means that we are going to have a life of leisure. However, if we are doing what God wants us to do - the BEST rather than the GOOD - we will have an easier time of things because we won't be distracted by all of things that are outside of His will for our lives. We won't waste effort striving to make things happen that are our plans and not God's. That's how we will get rest - by reducing the striving. Rest for our souls.  Do you need the rest?

For further thought:

1) How long have you walked in the "yoke" with Jesus?

2) What can you do today to start walking closer to Him?

3) Is there someone in your life who needs to be "yoked" to Jesus? How can you lead them to Him?

NOTE: This post is also over at Laced With Grace today.  However, because I thought its content deserved double exposure, I'm posting it here as well.  :)  Be sure though, to check out other devotions at LWG.

Follow the Leader

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. - 1 Cor 11:1 NKJV

Who do you follow?  Who do you look up to?  We all have someone or several people in our lives whom we look to for guidance in one way or another.  Are you that someone to a person in your life?  To be a leader is a big responsibility.  Paul, the writer of 1 Corinthians knew this.  He knew that people imitated him and heeded his teachings.  For this reason, Paul wanted to make one thing clear: that he should not be followed in word or in deed unless he was in accordance with what Jesus Christ would do or say.

I like this about Paul.  He humbly recognized his faults (Romans 7:14-25) but still took great care to do the right thing and he wanted to make sure that first and foremost people were following Jesus.  That is the essence of what Paul wanted.  He wanted people to follow Jesus.  I want to be like Paul.  If what I say or do does not line up with what God says in His Word, than I don't want to be followed.  Always test for yourself what I say, write or live, by the truth of God's word.

Following Jesus takes work.  Following Jesus is more than going to church and getting an emotional high with hands raised while singing a favorite praise song.  Yes, that is a part of worship, a part that I believe cannot fully take place without some relationship with God.  However, true worship is more than an emotional response to an inspirational message or song designed by the local church or a speaker to evoke a reaction in the hearers.  True worship is defined by how we lived our lives in the day to day grind.  True worship is seeking God through the pages of the Bible even when we don't feel like it sometimes.  True worship is reading a passage of scripture and applying it to our lives even though we don't like how it makes us feel. True worship is a life of surrender, following the true Leader, no matter the cost.

For further thought:

1) How is your walk with God?  Would someone following you be following God as well?

2) How many times per week do you examine your life in light of what the Bible says?  Following God means that we must know what He says to do.  How can we know if we don't read His word?

3) Who are you following?  Do you know for certain that what they do or preach aligns with God's ways?  Once again, we must know Jesus Christ to know if others are also following Him.  And how can we know this unless we dive into God's Word for ourselves?

Understanding - The Goal of a Teacher

In my CBS bible study lecture this week we were presented with the following quote by Pastor David Guzik:

Understanding needs to be the first goal of any preacher or teacher.  When I stand to teach God's people, there are some things that I always need to remember:

  • If you leave knowing five helpful hints to a better life, but do not have a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed.
  • If you leave having been amused by humor, entertained by anecdotes, or captivated by dramatic stories, but do not have a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed.
  • If you leave motivated to action, or praying a prayer, but it is not based on a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed.
  • If you leave admiring me, but do not have a greater understanding of God's Word, I have failed - and will be accountable before God for my failure.

These words resonate with me for many reasons as I'm sure they probably do with you too.  We've probably all been to a church service before where we've left without a deeper understanding of God's Word.  Sometimes it is our fault because we have too much "stuff" going on in our own little brains to pay attention.  Other times it is because too much emphasis was placed on the nonessentials.  I am convicted personally as well because I so much want this blog to be a place where people can leave with a greater understanding of God's Word.  If I have not helped you, dear reader, do just that, then I feel that I have failed.

The LORD God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth my ear to hear as the learned.  (Isaiah 50:4)

I want to speak that word in season to whomever is weary and needs some comfort along life's journey.  I want to speak that word in season to whomever might need a little push to achieve all that God wants for them.  My prayer is that by pointing those in need to the Savior through God's Word, that I can equip them to not only help themselves in their current and future situations, but to help others also.  We all need each other, don't we?  Let us all make helping others understand the Word of God better as our goal.  That, is essential.

Lord, give me the wisdom to write the things You would have me to say that would edify Your people so that they would have a better understanding of You and Your Word.  Give me compassion and patience and the words to say so that I can always direct others to You.  Point out to me when I fail You so that I can quickly get things right again and continue on the path You've made for me. Amen.

Are You a Disciple?

I started this blog on June 30, 2005, as a result of peer pressure and God's calling.  The peer pressure was from other ladies at my church to add more estrogen to our church family's blogosphere.   God's calling on me came a month after the "pressure" when I couldn't stop thinking about the silly blog.   I think that He must have known that I would be forced to blog about my bible reading because of a) my love for God's word,  b) I love to share what I learn with others, and c) I had to blog about God's word because I didn't have time to blog about anything else and keep up with my bible reading.  :)  Hence, Bread Crumbs was born.

A lot has changed in my life since then - new friendships gained, old friendships lost, a new church home - but the one thing that has remained constant is my desire to partner with others to help them grow closer to God through His word and to equip them to be able to teach others how to have a daily walk with their Savior.  In simple terms, I am a disciple of Jesus, and desire to fulfill Jesus' commandment to us when He said:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in  the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:, and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

We are to be disciples of Jesus and we are to make disciples of Jesus.  So what is a disciple, anyway?  Webster's definition of  a disciple is the following:

disciple n.  1 a pupil or follower of any teacher or school of religion, learning, art, etc. 2 an early follower of Jesus, esp. one of the Apostles.

Okay.  Simple enough, right?  I found a more complete definition in a book entitled The Adventure of Discipling Others by Ron Bennett and John Purvis.  From p. 54, I'll quote:

"The simplest definition of a disciple is found in Matthew 4:19 when Jesus said, 'Follow me,  and I will make you fishers of men.'  A disciple is one who follows and consequently becomes like the One being followed.  Discipleship was more than adhering to a set of teachings or principles: it was a relationship of transformation."

Indeed, discipleship is a process of transformation.  It is a process of continual renewing of our minds and hearts so that we can become more like Jesus with every new day.  Is every believer a disciple of Jesus?  Unfortunately, no.    Being a disciple has a cost.   Being a disciple takes discipline and courage to not worry about what someone else thinks about you becoming a "fanatic".  Being a disciple means that you are serious about conforming your life to what the bible says rather than trying to make what the bible says agree to what your life "says". Are you a disciple of Jesus? I counted the cost of becoming a disciple 10 years ago and I've never regretted it.   We had a discipleship program at our church where we were matched one-on-one with a more mature believer who shared with us how to develop a walk with God, how to study our bibles and how to approach life with a biblical worldview.   What a blessing it was.  I encourage anyone I meet to get involved in an opportunity for one-on-one mentoring of this nature.

I've come to realize that I was rather spoiled to have had a mentor early in my "serious" Christian walk. (Note: I have been a Christian since age 13, but didn't get serious about my faith and service until I was 23).   If only I could be so fortunate to find another mentor today! I just spoke with a woman today who had been a Christian and attending church for more than 30 years who had never been discipled but was longing for the opportunity.  My heart goes out to her and others like her.  I wish I could "disciple" everybody!

So in closing, I have some questions for you, dear readers.   Would you be so kind as to leave a comment behind?  I'd really appreciate it, and I'm sure others would too. :)

1) Does your church have a discipleship program?

2) Have you ever been discipled/mentored?

3) What would you say has been a key ingredient during your greatest periods of spiritual growth?

Contagious Christianity

You are contagious.  It is the time of year when we all worry about germs and catching the latest cold or flu virus going around (or maybe it is only me who concerns herself with this in my rare adventures helping out the children's ministry).  Being contagious though, can also be a good thing.   Remember, we all have an influence on someone around us, no matter who we are.  And, keep in mind that if we have an influence on others, they also have an influence on us.

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (NIV)

What kind of contagious influence are you?  Good or bad?  Ezra, a scribe in the time of Jewish exile as well as the time of the Jews' return to Jerusalem, was a good influence on the people around him.  He was a "ready scribe in the law of Moses" (Ezra 7:6) and his heart was ever prepared to not only seek and understand God's word, but to do and to teach it.  (Ezra 7:10). 

A prepared leader will always get opportunities to lead.  There came a day in Ezra's life that I believe was one of Ezra's finest moments in his influencial existence.   The temple was now functional and the exiles had just sacrificed  burnt offerings to God  in the temple, when the leaders came to Ezra  with a confession that the people had been disobedient to God by intermarrying with peoples of foreign lands.   The bible says that the leaders and officials led the way in this unfaithfulness. (Ez 9:2)  Look at Ezra's words upon hearing the news:

When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled...until the evening sacrifice.  Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: (Ezra 9:3-5 NIV).

I could write on and on about this and wish that everyone would read Ezra's prayer of confession.  This outward expression of contriteness had a huge impact on his people - a positive one. His grief over sin was contageous and encouraged a change in the behavior of his people.  You can read about that in Ezra 10.  People were weeping.  A proclamation was made.  The exiles repented.  What a powerful story of the influence one person with a heart for God can have.

So are you infectious in a good way?  How can you use your influence to impact others in a positive way?  Are you allowing your friends' attitudes to rub off on you?  If so, I hope you have some godly good friends! :)  We must never underestimate the power of our lives to influence others.  Let's just make sure that we are spreading God and not germs. 

Until next time,


Getting the Most Out of Your Bible

As most of you know and can hopefully see my heart from this blog, I love to read & study the bible as well teach others how they can do the same and apply God's truths to their lives.  (Yes, I try to apply God's Word to my life as well, and it is difficult sometimes!)

This morning I found a wonderful post by Steven Camp over at "Camp on This" that gives some very practical tips - complete with biblical references for each - from old time Theologan, Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686) on how we can get the most out of God's Word.  Please take the time to check it out.  I for one, will be printing out the list and studying through it.

Happy Reading!

What is Your Legacy?

As usual, I've thought of many things I could write about today.  I could expand on my last post about contentment, I could get on a soapbox (although I don't like to do that here), or I could write chronogolically through my daily bible reading.    If you remember anything about the first few chapters of 1 Chronicles, you will see my dilemma. There is little doctrine or application to write about - at least through my little eyes - except for the prayer of Jabez nestled into 1 Chronicles 4 amongst all the genealogy.  But I started thinking about all of the lineages of Kings presented and I thought of my recent readings through 1 and 2 Kings, and the light came on.

What do all of the people's names here represent?  They represent the results of time.  Time invested positively or negatively in the lives of others.  As I connect the dots of scripture, I think about how many times I read the words  "he did that which was evil" in association with the legacy of Jeroboam, the first king of Israel in the divided kingdom.  Seven times in scripture we see this phrase combined with the phrase who or which "made Israel to sin".  (2 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 13:11, 2 Kings 14:24, 2 Kings 15:9, 2 Kings 15:18, 2 Kings 15:24, 2 Kings 15:28).  Jeroboams legacy, immortalized in pages of scripture, was that he made Israel to sin.  I don't know about you, but I don't want that kind of legacy.

As Christians we have a bigger responsibility than just to not cause people to sin.  Jesus commands us to teach others what we've learned.  Paul elaborates on this truth even more in his letter to Timothy, his own disciple:

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  2 Timothy 2:1-2

This commandment takes shape in many different ways throughout the seasons of our lives.  For some of us, our current situations may dictate that we spend the time training up our children.  For others, adults are our calling.  Who, dear reader, are you training up so that they too can be training up others?  Have you ever had the words and teachings committed to you?  If you have, get started on your eternal legacy.  If you haven't, find someone who can walk beside you and guide you in your journal of spiritual growth.  If anyone has more questions about what I'm talking about here, please feel free to contact me.   I'd love to help.  One of the biggest blessings I can experience in my life is to help someone else grow closer to God.  I challenge you to do the same.  So, are you ready to get going?

My first journal entry...ever

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before here, but I've been on a cleaning/reorganization binge in my house for the past month.  In the process, I've cleaned out lots of clutter from my life and found a few treasures as well. One of those treasures I'm going to post right here - my first ever "spiritual" journal entry.   I was being discipled - a subject I will cover in detail in a later post - by one of our pastors' wives and it was then that I was made encouraged to keep a journal of my daily bible reading to be checked weekly by my discipler at our weekly meetings.  Enjoy!

1/18/1998  Matthew 1

Chapter Summary

There were 14 generations from Abraham to David.

There were 14 generations from David until the carrying away of Babylon.

There were 14 generations from  carrying away into Babylon unto Christ.

Virgin Mary gave birth to Messiah.

Personal Application

As Joseph listened and obeyed God, I should try harder to obey what is written in the Word, just because God said it.

That wasn't too bad for a "baby".  :)  I even had a personal application.  A noble one at that and one we should all aspire to.  However, my second journal entry, was not so profound with its personal application.  Take a look.

1/19/1998 Matthew 2

Chapter Summary

Jesus was born in Bethlehem but quickly moved to Egypt to escape Herod's wrath.  When Herod was dead, God told Joseph to take his family into Israel where he settled in Nazareth.

Personal Application


You know, a person has to start somewhere.  Who would have thought that 7 years later I would be posting much of my thoughts about my daily bible reading out here on a blog.  Hmm...I didn't even know what a blog was until less than 2 years ago.  Like I said, a person has to start somewhere.  I suppose that is the point of this post other than my sharing my personal "baby" scratchings from years gone by just for the fun of it.  Wherever you are in your personal spiritual walk, start there and start walking.  And find someone to guide you along the way.