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So, what's the plan, God?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

It's comforting to know that God has a plan for my future. He knows what the next season of my life will hold and His plans are for my good.  I just wish He'd let me in on them!

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I don't wait well. I want to know what the next step is so I can start working on it now, or if I can't work on it, at least I can start getting a little excited about it. Instead, I wake up each day thinking that just around the next corner is something really great for me, something fun and exciting.

The problem is that while I'm focused on the future, I'm not really enjoying the present...and that's just wrong!  Each day should be lived to it's fullest, with thanksgiving for the Father's provision and love. After all, if I can't treasure everything He's given me today, I can't move on to the new thing He wants to do in my life.

Am I the only one who's like this? Do you ever spend so much time looking forward that you miss today?

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If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Where is God?

I do not have to search for God, for He has made my heart His dwelling place.

I need only to still myself and shut out the noise of the world to hear his sweet voice.

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Ever near,
ever listening,
ever speaking,
guiding,
loving.

Only a quiet breath away is the Lord, God Almighty.


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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Are you "called" to pray?

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (New International Version 1984) - Ephesians 6:18
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I head up the prayer ministry at our church, receiving requests over the internet, the phone and via our communication cards. I then type up the requests and send them out by email to all the members of our prayer team.
Often folks will slip up beside me in church and ask me to add or a loved one to our prayer list.

I assure them that we would love to pray for their needs and sometimes I ask, "Would you like to join our prayer team and pray for the needs of others?"

I would like to say that their answer is "yes" every time, but sometimes I get this...

"Oh, I don't have time to pray for others."

"Um...I'll pray about it and let you know."

"Well...I don't really feel called to that ministry."


What??????

I'm sorry, but God is not going to issue a special "calling" to pray for the needs of our fellow believers. Well, let me take that back...God has all ready issued a specal calling to pray for the needs of fellow believers...and the lost...and those in authority...and for His kingdom to be come and for His will to be done - and His will is that we pray for one another.

With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints!

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The King has extended the scepter!

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (21st Century King James Version) - Hebrews 4:16


History tells us that if someone approached a king's throne without being summoned, one of two things could happen. The king would extend his scepter, thereby inviting the person in or he would not extend the scepter, in which case, the persons very life might be in danger.

We read about just such a case in the book of Esther.

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” - Esther 5:1-3

Esther was fortunate, in that she had earned the king's favor and was able to lay her request before the King, but she did not enter boldly with confidence.

We, on the other hand, are more fortunate, because God (our King) has invited us to approach His throne with confidence so that we might find grace and mercy. To realize what a wonderful invitation that is, we need to look at the definitions of grace and mercy.

Grace is when God gives us something we don't deserve (like forgiveness and blessings) and mercy is when He spares us from something we do deserve (like punishment for sin).

So the invitation to come to Him to find mercy and obtain grace is a wonderful invitation indeed!

As children of God, we do not have to work to earn the King's favor. That's already been done for us by Jesus Christ. We can come to God at any time and in any frame of mind. His door is always open and His ear is alway listening.

He is always ready to give us everything we need to live that abundant life He has designed for us, so enter His throne room, my friend. Enter and experience the presence of the King.

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Let's Party!


Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. (New International Version 1984) - Psalm 95:1-2
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What a joyful celebration this verse brings to mind! Singing, shouting, music, song - sounds like a party to me.

Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in the everyday struggles of life. A little knock here and a little knock there and before you know it, your spirit is doing more grumbling and complaining than rejoicing. We get so focused on our problems that we forget the One who has all the answers to them. We forget that He will give us joy in the midsts of life's drudgery.

When this happens, the best antedote for the blues is praise and worship, reminding us of who God is, what He has done, what He has promised to do.

Remember the lyrics to at old song...Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness? Praise is the perfect remedy for depression, so come on, put on your glad rags, slip on yer dancin' shoes, crank up some praise music and let's party.

No one has more reason to celebrate than those who know the Rock of our salvation!

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Pour it On!

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days." Joel 2:28-29 (NIV)

Oh, how we need an outpouring of the Spirit today.  I feel it personally, I see it in those around me, in the state of the world today. So, how do we get one?

We pray. We seek God. We ask. We saturate ourselves in Him. We reject temptation and sin. We trust. We have faith.

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Oh, Father, hear our plea
our hungry cries for thee
to fill our hearts
to refresh
renew

Oh, Father, how we need you.
Let your Spirit
stir in us
ignite the fires within
a great outpouring
is what we need
for that, Dear Lord, we plead.


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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Have you told your children?

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (New International Version 1984) - Joel 1:3
I come from a long line of storytellers. As a child, family gatherings were a weekly event. Every Saturday and Sunday our house was filled with aunts, uncles and cousins. Folks flowed through our back door laden with huge casserole dishes, steamy baked breads and tins of homemade pie. We ate...and ate...and ate, and then the guys would break out their guitars and the singing would begin.

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We heard nearly every country western song ever written. Everyone sang along as the beer loosened their inhibitions. Then the stories would start. The older relatives would recall the time when the youngin's blew up the outhouse or the time two of my uncles raced their hot rods down Howard Lane and launched themselves over the big hill at the dead end curve. We heard stories of hen house raids, fist fights and how great-grandpa made hooch in the woods, but we never heard stories about God.

He was not a part of our lives. We never heard how He parted the sea for the children of Israel or about the time He empowered a little boy to kill a giant. We never heard about Noah's Ark or David's dancing. We were never told that God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die on a cross so that we could have a relationship with God the Father. They never told us.

But God, in his loving kindness made sure we heard. He blessed us with one Aunt and Uncle who loved us enough to begin taking us to church with them. There we heard the stories of God from Sunday school teachers, from our Pastor and from our Aunt and Uncle...and we believed. Me and all five of my little brothers.

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How I wish that I had heard these stories from my parents. That I had grown up in a home where God's name was honored, rather than used as a swear word. A home were the stories passed down from generation to generation were about the wonders of God and all the ways He had worked in our families lives. What a wonderful heritage that would have been.

Christian parents, please take the time to tell your children about the wonders of God. About His love and His provision, His grace and His mercy. Tell them how He saves and protects and provides. Tell them of the glorious promise that awaits those who believe. Tell them when He strengthens you to face through life's trials. When He comforts you in sorrow and when He guides you through the storm.

Help them to know Him at an early age, to rely on him through adulthood and to rest in Him in old age. And parents...tell them by example, not just words.

This is the greatest legacy you could ever give your children, for not only does it equip them for life and eternity, it trickles down to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, until a family line is filled with children who love and serve God.

Love them enough to tell them.

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Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Ah, Peace with God

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (New International Version) - Romans 5:1,2

Peace with God , can there be anything more wonderful than that? Just to know that everything between you and God is good. No sin separating, no disapproval coming from Heaven, no need to feel guilt or shame. What an awesome existence!

Top that with the fact that we did nothing to earn this blissful relationship with God. We couldn't do enough to earn it and yet, God extended His love and grace to bring us into his family - that's grace! In fact, that's the very definition of grace; unmerited, unearned favor.

Yes, God extends His grace to us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, yet not everyone reaches out to take it - to embrace all that has been done for us so that we might experience peace with God and the assured hope of eternal life spent with Him. Why? Why do those who've heard the story of God's plan of salvation reject it?

To some it seems too simple, surely we must do something to earn it - to pay for all the sin we've committed in our lives. For others, it may be a matter of pride, because in order to receive this salvation by grace we must first admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior. And others trip over the faith aspect of salvation. They won't believe anything they can't see, feel, touch or understand. Their intellect gets in the way of their spirit.

Oh, what peace we forfeit when, in our stubbornness we choose to reject the grace of God.

I implore you, my unseen friend...reach out to God in faith, for He's reaching out to you with grace. Accept the amazing gift of salvation that He's provided through His Son, seek His forgiveness, surrender your life and you will never regret it, because you will experience joy and peace like you've never known before.

His hand is extended to you. Will you reach out and take it?

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Ole' - Aim for the right target!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (New International Version 1984) - Ephesians 6:12
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I heard a great illustration about this once.

Imagine a bullfight. (stick with me, now)

The bullfighter is Satan.
You are the bull.
The bullfighter's cape represents those people in your live that irritate, infuriate and cause you problems.

(still with me?)

The bull is irritated by the cape being flashed around in front of him. He lowers his head and charges, attacking the cape with all his fury - and he get's nowhere. If he were a smart bull, he would quickly realize that the cape is just a tool used by the bullfighter to anger and distract him. If he were a smart bull, he would attack the bullfighter , not the cape.

The moral of the story is the next time you are struggling with another person, remember...
...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (New International Version 1984) - Ephesians 6:12

Attack the situation with prayer, not by charging headlong into an argument with another person, not by trying to fix a bad situation. Start with prayer and allow God to open your eyes to the real issues. Let Him determine your course of action and you'll come out victorious.

Ole'

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

No More Whining

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (New International Version 1984) - Luke 6:35


This verse has special meaning to me. You see, several years ago we sold a truck to a friend for much less than we felt we could get elsewhere, because...well, because he was our friend. He needed a vehicle to get back and forth to work, but didn't have much money. We let him take possession of the truck with the agreement that he would make 9 monthly payments. He made one payment. That's all.

While our friend was not my enemy and we never had harsh words over it, as the months passed, it did cause hard feelings in my heart. Feelings that I let fester. Feelings that gradually built a wall between us. This is not acceptable for a child of God.

I whined to God - Lord, we were trying to help him out and look what he did to us. You know we could use the money. Why would you allow him to treat us like that? Whaa-whaa-whaa ...

Pitiful, right?

Well, God has used this verse to remind me that He gives, He loves, He is kind - even to those who are wicked and ungrateful. He reminded me that everything I have was given to me by Him and that I don't need to fuss about what is "owed" to me. Now, when we lend, we truly consider it a gift. If the person decides to pay it back, wonderful, if not, that's okay, too, because God is our provider and because giving freely emulates the Father's gift to us.

No more whining...well, at least not about people who don't pay me back. I'm still workin' on some other stuff.

Aren't we all?     

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)