Archive for November, 2008

When Caught in Crush of Worldly Cares

Friday, November 28th, 2008

When caught in crush of worldly cares
My spirit feels besieged
When naught surrounds but slips and snares
And dreams left unappeased
I batten down the hatches found
At portals to my soul
And try to find a quiet place
Where You I can extol
For You I’ll open any door
Any time or place
And, empty, beg to simply find
And gaze upon Your face
You calmed the waters in the storm
And fed the hungry throngs
Be still, my soul, and feed upon
The Love that rights all wrongs.

RoadrunnerCopyright 2008 by Roadrunner, all rights reserved.

Used by permission.

In Everything Give Thanks

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Today is US Thanksgiving. It is a time when families gather together celebrating their blessings and thanking God for them. This year, my plans were to visit my beloved aunt 1,000 miles away who is dying of pancreatic cancer. It will be her last Thanksgiving. Two days ago, I came down with the flu and as a result am unable to travel.

So here I am. Alone. Am I sad? Feeling sorry for myself? Beating myself up because I could not make the trip? Far from it! I am rejoicing no matter what my circumstances. I actually have the opportunity to pray without ceasing (no interruptions!). I am praying for my aunt and my family which has gathered together today. I am giving thanks that I have this time alone to truly think about my blessings and all that God has done and continues to do for me.

Where are you today? What are your circumstances? Are you praying and giving thanks?

Obie
Executive Director
Christians in Recovery

God’s Perspective: A Change in Attitude

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

“Every detail in our lives for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28, The Message).

Have you ever tried to view your life from God’s perspective?

What if you were not allowed to say, think or do anything about a person or situation until you first caught them doing something right, or observed it from a positive perspective? Would this approach make a difference in what comes out of your mouth, or the thoughts you may try to focus on?

Carmen, a devoted mom, raising three kids alone, grew tired of minimum wage jobs, living near-poverty from paycheck to paycheck. She started a yard maintenance business ten years ago. She worked hard and long hours to earn enough money to support her children. She clipped coupons from the newspaper to save money on every item she purchased, including groceries, clothing, and household items. For years, Carmen and her children lived in a small, over-crowded apartment while she scrimped to save money in hopes of some day buying a home.

She finally bought that home. Sadly, within two weeks of moving in, nothing about the house was worth positive mention. First, a slight crack within the concrete walkway destroyed her joy. Within a month, the front door was difficult to close. Later, water from the kitchen faucet dripped a couple of times. Carmen was not handling new home ownership adjustments well at all, and she made it a point to tell everyone she came in contact with every “negative” aspect about her house.

After several months of listening to her complaints, I asked her if there was anything about the house she liked. Her initial reaction was a bit haughty, but in her heart she knew I wasn’t been sarcastic… I truly cared.

“Mrs. Coates, are you thinking that I don’t appreciate my new house?”

“No, I believe you do. But don’t you think you might feel better if you looked at the big picture, minimizing the negative and maximizing the positive aspects of your home that you worked so hard to get?”

She nodded.

“Let’s talk about the spacious kitchen. How do you like having room enough in the kitchen for the kids to cook beside you?”

“Oh, the kids and I like it. Last week we prepared meals for hurricane Ike evacuees and then delivered them.”

“Well, how does it feel to have a living room big enough for you and the kids to read the Bible together as a family?”

“The family room is cozy, yet spacious, and perfect for us.”
“Have you established family TV nights yet?”

“Not yet, but we plan to.”

“How do the kids like having their own bedroom?”

“They’re delighted and are beginning to decorate the walls with their soccer ribbons, academic awards, as well as Bible verse posters. The kids finally feel a sense of home.”

“Carmen, over the years, I’ve built several homes and lived in a couple of pre-owned homes. Minor adjustments to sinks, toilets, doors, and more just go with owning a home. It takes a few months to work out all the minor issues; not to mention homeowner basic maintenance. Your Creator motivated you to work hard to purchase this home. When you display a critical attitude, how do you think God feels about the gifts he has given you?”

Her chestnut eyes filled with tears. “I’m so ashamed. I need to be thankful, don’t I?”

“Yes, my friend, you do. You also need to change your perspective regarding your ‘dream’ home. There are many good aspects of your home, so please stop and envision the positive aspects so negativity doesn’t become your focus.

“Carmen, your cup is filled to the brim with blessings, including good health, terrific kids, a new home, a profitable business. By changing the perspective of your attitude, you can change your mood, the attitudes of your kids, and learn to cherish an attitude of gratitude.”

And so it is with each of us, including me. As we change our attitude, we see life differently, and life itself becomes different. And every detail becomes GOOD!

Your work-in-progress leader,

Jan

Coates
Copyright 2008 by Jan Coates, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Jan Coates is an author, speaker, consultant, founder of Set Free Today Ministries and serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery®.

Do They See the Difference?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. Mark 5:18-19 King James Version

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture over and over and one day it became real to you and you finally understood what Jesus was saying to you? If you will read this Scripture verse again with your heart, you will hear Jesus saying to you “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” Who lives in your home? The people who are related to you live in your home.

The first thing Jesus is saying to us is that not only are we related to our families, but that we should also be their friends. The second thing Jesus is saying to us that He wants us to tell our families what great things He has done for us and how He has had compassion on us. Is Jesus bragging on Himself? Absolutely not, He just wants us to tell our families that He loves them as much as He loves us and that He is compassionate, loving and understanding.

However, it is very important that your family sees the difference that Jesus has made in your heart and life. You can tell them He has made a difference but if your family doesn’t see the difference He has made in the way that you live your life, they will not believe you. How tragic it would be if our families didn’t accept Jesus as their personal Saviour because of the way we treat them and the way we live.

Does your family know that Jesus loves them by the way that you treat them? Are you saying kind and encouraging words to them or are you saying cruel and criticizing words to them? Do they see the joy of Jesus on your face and hear His unconditional love in your words or do you constantly frown at them and say discouraging words to them? May God have mercy on us and forgive us for the way we treat our families.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

A Greater Weapon

Monday, November 24th, 2008

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 King James Version

There are so many people who are hurting not only physically, but also emotionally. Over the last three and a half years, I have received a lot of emails from people who have told me that the pain is almost unbearable. Some of them are in the middle of getting a divorce. Some of them have children who have gone astray. Some of them are being abused physically by their spouses. All of these things are a result of the weapon of hate hurled at us in a vicious attack by our enemy, satan.

There is good news for us in the midst of all of these sorrows, heartaches and devastating pain. We have a greater weapon. It is the weapon of unconditional love that has been given to us by our Heavenly Father and His name is Jesus. It doesn’t matter how many times satan attacks us with his weapon of hate; Jesus is there to bind up our wounds and remove the poisonous arrows of hatred that have been hurled at us by our enemy, satan.

When we are hurting, we need to cry out to Jesus for help. Only Jesus can see into our hearts and only Jesus can remove the unbearable pain and sorrow from our hearts. If you are hurting today, tell Jesus how you are feeling. He will be faithful to wipe the tears from your eyes and from your heart with His kisses of unconditional love and understanding. Run as fast as you can into the waiting arms of Jesus and allow Him to comfort and encourage you as only He can.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

What does it mean to say we believe the Bible?

Friday, November 21st, 2008

“You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures…” (Matthew 22:29).

Next week is National Bible Week, a week to honor the importance of the Scriptures in all areas of our lives. But how strange, especially for those who claim to be Christians, that we should have to set aside a week to do so! Though it is important to emphasize the Word of God and bring it to the attention of others who may not regularly read or study (or obey!) it, it is also a sad reminder that many who claim to believe the Bible really don’t.

Think about it for a moment. What does it mean to say we believe the Bible? As Christians, it means that we not only read and study and believe what is written in it, but also that we believe EVERYTHING that is written in it—cover to cover—because God Himself is the Author of this all-time best-selling book.

I once heard someone say that we can’t be “salad bar” Christians, meaning that we can’t browse the spread God has laid out for us in His Word and then pick and choose what we want—and what we don’t. Yet many of us do that, don’t we? Worse yet, many of us don’t even know what that all-you-can-eat scripture buffet contains because we don’t spend time perusing it daily. How can we say we believe something when we don’t know what that “something” is? Jesus stressed this very point when He said, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures.” If we are mistaken at any point in our worldview and opinions, it is because we don’t really know or follow—hence, believe—what God has revealed to us in the Scriptures.

The world is starving spiritually, and we have the means to feed it. True, we can’t force-feed anyone, but we can certainly make certain that we ourselves are well fed, having made it a regular practice to daily consume God’s Word and then digest its contents in a way that our lives reflect that practice. That, my friends, is how we will cause unbelievers to become hungry for the true spiritual food that God has provided for everyone. It will never happen because we hit them over the head with that food, but only as we model what a regular diet of that food has done for us.

People of other religions sometimes refer to Christians as “people of the book.” Shouldn’t we therefore know (and honor/obey) what that book says? As we move toward the time that has been designated as National Bible Week, may we all be found faithful to KNOW the Scriptures and to live in a way that shows that knowledge and passion for that Book of all books, therefore effectively drawing others to want to do the same.

Macias
Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Real Forgiveness

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

“Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellows ervant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormenters, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Matthew 18:32-35 King James Version

When my sister and I went out to eat this week, we were talking about the past. I reminded her that I had made some long distance phone calls on her telephone many years ago and had never paid her for them. My sister said “I had forgotten all about those phone calls.” She had forgiven me from her heart just as Jesus forgives us from His heart.

Are you forgiving people from your heart or do you just give them lip service? Do you tell them verbally that you forgive them but continue to harbor unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment in your heart? If so, you have not forgiven them. Until and unless you forgive them from your heart, you have not forgiven them.

One of the hardest persons to forgive is ourselves and satan uses this to launch a vicious attack against us to discourage and defeat us. Not only are we to forgive others from our heart; we are to forgive ourselves and never blame ourselves again. If we have confessed what we have done to God, He has forgiven us. We are forgiven through the cleansing atoning blood of Jesus. He will never hold our sins and mistakes against us again. If a Holy God can forgive us and still love us, we should forgive ourselves.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Hope Reborn, Faith Refreshed

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.

I searched for You
In the furthest reaches of my consciousness
And one night I heard Your call.
I was enthralled to know that somewhere You existed.
I ached to see Your face
So I persisted
And one night
In glimpsing Your light
Hope was reborn
Faith refreshed
Courage recalled
And though I stalled many times
I kept You in sight
Until Your light
Led me into safe harbor.

RoadrunnerCopyright 2008 by Roadrunner, all rights reserved.

Used by permission.

God’s Recycle Bin

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26-27 King James Version

One of the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary that I found for the word “recycle” is “to adapt to a new use”. That is exactly what our precious Saviour does with our hearts. He removes our old hearts that are full of sin, bitterness, resentment, jealousy, judgment, unforgiveness, criticism, hatred and sarcasm and He gives us new hearts. Our Saviour applies His precious atoning and redeeming blood to our cold hearts and He gives us hearts of unconditional love for others.

I had so much hatred, unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness in my heart for the ones who had hurt me and especially for the two people who had raped me. I didn’t trust anybody and didn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. I had been told by some of my teachers in grade school, in high school and even in college that I was stupid and would never be able to contribute anything to society. As a result of hearing so many people tell me that I was stupid and no good, I didn’t think I had a right to live and didn’t want to live. I tried to take my life several times.

On August 14, 1980, a day that changed my life forever, the day that I gave my heart to Jesus, my precious Saviour came to me as I lay underneath a bed in a mental hospital afraid of everyone and everything. He came to me when I couldn’t go to Him. He put His arms of compassion and unconditional love around me and lifted me up from under that bed.

He said something to me that I had never heard in all my life from anybody and I am sixty five years old. My loving Saviour whispered softly and tenderly in my ear “I love you, Joanne. I will never let anyone hurt you again. It is safe for you to come out from under this bed because I will protect you and I will never leave you, not even for one minute.” My precious Saviour has kept His word and has been faithful to me because He has not left me, not even for a minute. What a friend! What a Saviour, this Jesus of Nazareth!

Squire Parsons has written one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard in my life “He Came To Me”. I was in church the first time I heard this song and my pastor and everyone started shouting “Amen”. Some of the words in this beautiful song are “He came to me, O, He came to me. When I could not come to where He was, He came to me. That’s why He died on Calvary; When I could not come to where He was, He came to me.”

I get all choked up with love and gratitude for what He did for me on the cross. I know that He did it for you, but He did it for me! Tears roll down my cheeks when I think of my precious Saviour loving me enough to come to me when I couldn’t go to Him. Have you allowed God to recycle your sinful heart and replace it with a new heart, a heart that is filled with love and forgiveness for others? If not, ask Him to forgive you and allow Him to remove everything that hurts Him and brings shame to Him.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

The Best Gift We Can Give

Monday, November 17th, 2008

“Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord
and they shall be My people, and I will be their God,
for they shall return to Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).

Is it just me, or has the bad news added to more bad news put a damper on the approaching holiday season? It’s so easy to get focused on our country’s (and personal!) financial woes and therefore lose heart for Christmas and all it represents to us as believers. In the Apostle Paul’s words, Beloved, it should not be so!

I won’t deny that for many of us, finances will impact the extent to which we celebrate the gift-giving aspect of Christmas. But finances (or lack thereof) do not need to impact our giving of the very best gifts to those who so desperately need them.

What are those gifts?

We need to shine the Light of the world to those who walk in darkness—and we can do that because that Light lives within us.

We need to proclaim and model the Love of God to those with broken hearts and skewed perceptions of love—because that Love has already reached down to us.

We need to pray that many, regardless of how dark or bleak the days (or maybe even because of that very fact) would turn to the One who alone is the Light of the world and the Giver of unconditional Love to all who ask.

Specifically, why not offer up Jeremiah 24:7 as a prayer gift for your loved ones, as well as for those you don’t know? On a regular basis between now and Christmas, let’s agree together to pray, “Lord, give _________ a heart to know You. Show ______ more clearly each day that You are the Lord. We believe that _________ will be Your son/daughter, and You will be his/her God, for __________ shall return to You with all his/her heart.”

I’m going to do it. What about you? It’s the best gift we can give to anyone—and the Giver of all good gifts will be sure to answer.

Blessings to you all as we enter this wonderful season together!

Macias
Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com