What Are You Thankful for? What Are You Doing About It?

November 25th, 2014

Psalm 95:2-3: “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.”

As I placed my Thanksgiving candle figures on the dining room table, I remembered how my son used to move the pilgrims, the ships, and the Indians around the table. I thank God for the precious memories of my son, who is in heaven now.

I also think of my mother who loved the holidays and used to cook and bake from morning until night for days to make Thanksgiving a feast for the family.

My son and mother are in heaven praising God with music and song. I thank God they are no longer in pain.

I also thank God, for you, my readers. Some of you have been with me since the beginning of my weekly devotions. Some of you have not, but you have encouraged me and prayed for me as the others have. Thank you so much.

As I look back over the past year, I thank God for the fall in my home. Although I was in pain, I spent time with “the Lord . . . the great God, the great King above all gods” in prayer, Bible study, and praise and worship. I sensed God’s presence, peace, and power.

Dear God, thank you for my family, friends, and you “the great God.” Amen.

Application: When will you praise God with music and song this week?

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Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Can Hardship be Tokens of God’s Love?

November 24th, 2014

Trials no less than comforts–are the tokens of God’s love. All is regulated by His infinite wisdom. You will find cause to praise Him even for the severe afflictions.

Cisterns must be broken–but the fountain of living waters is always full and always flowing!

Gourds must wither–but the tree of life has shade and fruit sufficient for us all, and at all times!

Creatures must die–but the Lord lives!

Creatures are like candles; while they burn–they waste away; and when they are extinguished, those who depend upon them are covered with darkness. But the Lord is a Sun to His people, and His bright beams of consolation can well supply the lack of the candlelight of creature comforts!

“I know, O LORD, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. May Your unfailing love be my comfort.” Psalm 119:75-76

~Letters of John Newton

Unlimited Supplies of What We Really Need

November 21st, 2014

We attended a going-away party for dear friends yesterday.

As I looked around the room I realized how God surrounds us with the things we need most…in unlimited supplies.

Grace, love, hope, courage, faith, smiles, forgiveness–they’re everywhere. It’s as though we were made of them, which is cool because we  can give them away any time we want to people who need them.

And we might as well give them away like they’re unlimited because, well, they are.

Cool, huh?

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Rescued and Transferred

November 20th, 2014

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins!” Colossians 1:13-14

The true believer hates and resists those sins which once he loved–and renounces that world which once so much enamored him.

How divinely glorious is the religion of Jesus!
Old things pass away–and behold, all things become new!
It turns the lion, into the lamb.
it turns the desert heart, into the garden of the Lord.
It converts the impure and savage heart, into a habitation fit for the mild and holy Dove.
It restores the Hell-bent sinner to the divine favor.
It transforms him into the divine image.
It redeems him from the depths of damnation.
It raises him to the highest seats in glory!

What tongue can speak, or what heart conceive, the richness and extent of divine redemption!

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace which He lavished on us!” Ephesians 1:7-8

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

~ Thomas Reade

Does Your Spouse Love You?

November 18th, 2014

 “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28

You probably know a domestic violence victim, or you may be one yourself.

Unfortunately, domestic violence occurs in so called “Christian” homes. Batterers use “submission” as their excuse to abuse their spouses. Domestic violence can be verbal, emotional, physical, or financial.

As today’s Bible verse says, “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”

If a man loves his wife as his own body, he has neither reason nor excuse to punch, kick, spit on, curse, threaten, humiliate, or hurt his wife in any way.

A woman, who loves and respects her husband and herself, cannot allow her husband to be abusive. That gives him permission to sin against her and God.

In addition to sinning, the abusive spouse also breaks the law and commits a crime.

If you want a Christian home, you teach your children by your example how to love and respect each other. That way, little boys won’t grow up thinking it’s all right to batter women to get their way. Little girls won’t grow up thinking it’s all right for men to humiliate and hurt them.

Dear God, help me love and respect others and myself. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to be a role model of love and respect?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

This is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes

November 13th, 2014

“These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes!” Revelation 14:4

A believer follows the Lamb TRULY, without hypocrisy. Many follow the Lamb, as beggars follow a rich man–only for his money. They prize the wages of religion–above the works of religion! “I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me… because you ate the loaves and had your fill!” John 6:26.

God abhors a hypocrite more than a Sodomite! Hell is provided on purpose for hypocrites, “He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!” Matthew 24:51

Following the Lamb fully, is to have the heart fixed and resolved for God, “My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You!” says David in Psalm 63:8. “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God. I thirst for God, the living God!” Psalm 42:1-2

A believer follows the Lamb CONSTANTLY, without apostasy. A true believer never stops following the Lamb.

He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes–who follows the Lamb earnestly for a while–but afterwards forsakes Him, when the storm arises! “Since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word–he quickly falls away!” Matthew 13:21

He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes–who follows the Lamb in some things, and the Beast in other things! “They worshiped the Lord–but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.” 2 Kings 17:33

He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes–who follows the Lord in a dull heavy manner, and lukewarm temper. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth!” Revelation 3:15-16. Oh! this is not following the Lamb!

Those who follow the Lamb–abide in the Lamb, and cleave to the Lamb, and continue constantly in the Lamb’s ways, unto the end of their days. “Yet the righteous person will hold to his way!” Job 17:9. The righteous man follows the Lamb wherever He goes. “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him!” Hosea 6:3

This is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes:
1. Speedily
2. Sincerely
3. Whole-heartedly
4. Zealously
5. Humbly
6. Cheerfully
7. Diligently
8. Constantly
9. Faithfully
10. Supremely

(William Dyer, “Follow the Lamb”)

Are You an “Insider” or “Outsider?”

November 10th, 2014

Yall comeA few years back my friend Tim talked about a church strategy he called Y’ALL COME.

The notion seemed simple. Open the doors wide, put up a sign, have people at the doors with big smiles, and we’ve done our part, right?

Not so much.

Tim claimed Y’ALL COME wasn’t good enough. He said we can’t wait for folks to show up, that it’s our responsibility to go get ‘em. He said we have to reach out and bring people into the church. (I described Tim’s creative response in Who’s Special?)

I think that’s a great first step, but it’s only a band-aid. The people we “bring in” are always going to feel like outsiders, because that’s in fact exactly what they are. There’s “them” and there’s “us” and we’re inviting “them” to become part of “us.” Obviously “us” is superior to “them” because we’re asking them to assimilate.

In Ephesians 2:11-18, Paul explains that Jesus’ death reconciled BOTH Jew and Gentile to God. The Jews wanted to believe they were the original in-crowd and now the Gentiles were being invited to join and become some sort of second-class Jews. But Paul writes, “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross…”

This is about a lot more than skin color or lifestyle. I experience it when people make assumptions about me and attempt to marginalize me in subtle and not-so-subtle ways because I sit in a wheelchair.

This is about anyone who’s perceived as different from us because they feel that perception. We can call them special and create all the ministries we want for them, but as long as they’re “them,” they’re never really part of us.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

My guess—and maybe I’m wrong—is we mostly don’t believe we’re all the same—especially if we’re part of the privileged majority.

Justice means the ground at the foot of the cross really is level, and if we’re honest we’d rather have the illusion of occupying slightly higher ground.

Until we acknowledge our bias, we can’t let it go. And until we let it go, justice and reconciliation will be nice words.

The ground in my own heart’s not as level as I’d like. Jesus and I have a bit of excavating to do.

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Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his website www.relentlessgrace.com

When You Jump To Conclusions

November 6th, 2014

jumpI have this terrible tendency to form on-the-spot judgments.

I don’t always engage with grace and an open mind before instantly staking out a position. I believe that’s what they call “being judgmental.”

A while back we met a young, energetic leader. In the course of our conversation he made what seemed to be a curious statement.

We’re called to make disciples. That’s my primary responsibility. Whether people actually come to Christ or not isn’t my concern, as long as I’m faithful to my call of making disciples.

You tell me—what’s your reaction?

Personally, I bristled at “Whether people actually come to Christ or not isn’t my concern.” It came across as though he didn’t care much about the individuals he was “discipling.”

Then I wrote this post about Farming and listened to Jesus’ words.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  (Mark 4:26-28)

So…it’s not my job to grow the seeds. I sow, God’s in charge of the sprouting and growing.

I guess I’d still phrase it differently, because I’m really concerned about whether people come to Christ. But I certainly agree that the result is beyond my control.

We do our best to sow the right seeds, and we trust God for the outcome.

And maybe we learn to jump a bit less quickly to that sad place called Premature Conclusions.

 

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of: Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Look Around You!

November 5th, 2014

“Be kind and compassionate to one another” Ephesians 4:32 

Look around you, first in your own family, then among your friends and neighbors, and see whether there is not someone you can show kindness to–someone…
whose little burden you can lighten,
whose little cares you may lessen,
whose little pleasures you can promote,
whose little wants and wishes you can gratify.

Cheerfully giving up our own pleasures to minister to others, is one of the little kindnesses and self-denials of Christian living. Doing little things that nobody likes to do, but which must be done by someone, is another.

It may seem to many, that if they avoid little unkindnesses, they must necessarily be doing all that is required. But it is not enough to abstain from sharp words, sneering tones, petty contradictions, or daily little irritations. We must be active and earnest in kindness–not merely passive and inoffensive.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12, 14

Help! I Need Peace!

November 4th, 2014

Psalm 29:11: “The LORD blesses his people with peace.”

“The pianist has to work Saturday and can’t play for the conference.” That was not an email I wanted to see. The conference is in five days. I prayed, “Lord, please intervene. Keep us calm, and send us a pianist.”

The next email didn’t help. “The soundman said he will try to be there.” Try? I prayed again, “Lord, please work this out and bless us with peace.” God answered that prayer request immediately. The soundman will be there.

“Another pianist is looking at the music to see if she can be ready to play on Saturday.” I prayed again, “Lord, get her ready fast or get someone else for the conference as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, I’m trying to practice my presentations. “God, multiply my time and bless me with peace.”

The latest email arrived. The pianist is ready, and the praise & worship team will practice with the pianist on Thursday evening. Hallelujah.

Do you think to ask God for peace when your circumstances look dismal? What situation tests your faith to believe God will answer your prayer?

Dear God, I believe you bless me with your peace. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to show you believe “The LORD blesses his people with peace”?