Archive for January, 2009

God’s Oven

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 King James Version

Several years ago, I heard Evangelist David Ring say “If you don’t like the way I am now, stick around. I’m still in the oven and God’s still baking me.” The statement he made has been a source of comfort and inspiration to me for many years.

When I fail Jesus, and I do fail Him just like you do, I allow satan to put doubts about myself in my heart. I start criticizing myself and I start feeling that I am no good and I have no business serving Jesus. It is then that God reminds me that like David Ring, I am still in the oven and He is still baking me.

It is very easy for me to forgive people when they hurt me. However, it is much more difficult to forgive myself when I make mistakes and sin. I am and have always been a perfectionist. I think that if what I do is not perfect then it is not worthwhile. When I was in college, I majored in Secretarial Science. While taking a speed typing test in my typing class, even though I was not looking at the typewriter, I could always tell when I made a typing error.

We were supposed to keep typing even though we made mistakes because it was a speed test. I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t keep typing. I would stop and start all over. My professor used to get so frustrated with me. God has been working on me for a long time trying to make me understand that while I am here on this earth, I will never be perfect.

It is true that we are to strive for perfection but that does not mean that we will be perfect. We read in the Bible “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19: 21). If we will love people and give them not only our money but also our time, our encouragement, our understanding and our compassion, then our hearts will be in right standing with God.

Yes, sometimes God has to allow us to go through the fire because we refuse to forgive people who hurt us. Our rotten attitudes and our criticism, sarcasm and judgmental ways stink in His nostrils. I echo the words of Evangelist David Ring “I’m still in the oven and God’s still baking me.” I am so glad to know that I don’t have to be perfect because I’m not perfect. However, I need to be perfect in my heart, in my attitude, and in my words and actions.

God is baking you also and one day Jesus will present all of us before God faultless. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1: 24, 25).

Heavenly Father, thank You for allowing us to go through the fire so that our hearts will be changed. Please help us to love one another unconditionally and to forgive each other just as You forgive us. Grant that we will be compassionate and forgiving children that will make Your heart to rejoice. Precious Saviour, I love You so much. Thank You that one day You will present us faultless before God with exceeding joy. Amen.
JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Are They Acceptable?

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 King James Version

We think that nobody knows the things we are thinking or the words that we whisper. However, Jesus knows everything! He can see into our hearts and see the things we keep hidden from people. He knows what we are thinking and He hears the words that we whisper so softly that nobody else can hear. Are our words and our thoughts acceptable to Jesus? Do they bring joy to His heart or do they bring sadness to His heart?

We read in the Bible “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23: 7a). Are our hearts filled with criticism, sarcasm, unforgiveness and judgment for others or are they filled with unconditional love, forgiveness and compassion for people? Do our families and friends see Jesus in our smiles and hear Him in our words when we talk? Are we drawing them closer to Jesus or are we turning them away from Him by our hateful actions and words?

Heavenly Father, search our hearts and if there is anything that is displeasing to You and hurts You, please forgive us and cleanse our hearts of those hateful things that bring shame and disgrace to You. May we be children that bring joy and happiness to You instead of children that hurt You and make You sad. Thank You for loving us unconditionally and for being a God of mercy, grace, compassion and forgiveness. Thank You for the gift of Your beloved Son, Jesus. Amen.

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

Frontal Lobal Warming

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

frozen waves

I remember a time, remote,
When feelings heaved
Then froze,
Cleaving mind from tapping toes
Leaving heart transfixed
Within the icy floes.
The frost, unmoved for years,
Grew thicker with the tears,
‘Til hope, itself, seemed dead,
Succumbed to drear and dread.
But time flowed.
Far below,
How, God only knows,
Life never stopped
Hope never died
‘Til one day a tide,
A wave of balmy weather,
Finally arrived,
And I survived.

frozen waves

RoadrunnerCopyright 2008 by Roadrunner, all rights reserved. Used by permission. See more works at Roadrunner’s web site http://furtherreaches.comhttp://furtherreaches.com

God’s Vacuum Cleaner

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4: 31-32 King James Version

When my parakeet gets seeds on the carpet or when I spill seeds while cleaning his cage, I vacuum the carpet so the seeds won’t attract roaches or ants. If I don’t vacuum the seeds as soon as I see them on the carpet, then I am inviting the ants and the roaches to have a feast. We do the same thing with satan. When we allow satan to put the seeds of bitterness, resentment, criticism, hatred, sarcasm and judgment in our hearts and we leave them there, we are inviting satan to have a feast with our hearts.

It is extremely important that we ask God to vacuum our hearts as soon as satan attacks us with his poisonous darts. If we wait to ask God to remove the seeds, our hearts will become cold and indifferent. Have you asked God to forgive you for the things in your heart that bring shame and disgrace to Him? Have you asked Him to vacuum the poisonous seeds of bitterness and resentment, jealousy and sarcasm, criticism and judgment and hatred from your heart?

If you haven’t allowed God to vacuum your heart and remove those poisonous seeds, then you are hurting Him and bringing shame and disgrace to Him. Your heart will become cold and indifferent and you will no longer be able to serve Him the way He wants you to serve Him. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t allow satan to take control of your heart. Cry out to God as soon as you realize what is happening and allow Him to vacuum your heart and make it clean and fit for His use.

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

Pill Cures Alcoholism and Addiction!

Monday, January 26th, 2009

The BBC recently reported: France abuzz over alcoholic ‘cure’. French cardiologist Oliver Ameisen says that baclofen, a muscle relaxer, can cure alcohol and cocaine addictions.

Take a pill to cure your addiction. It sounds too good to be true.

How much sense does it make?

Is addiction simply a craving for a substance or thing? If that is the case, the pill will cure it. Unfortunately, addiction is not just a craving. It is a complex malady of the mind, body and spirit. To treat the physical craving only, is to ignore the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of addiction and dysfunctional living.

Taking a pill is much like putting a band aid with numbing ointment on a wound. I feel better but the wound is not healed. Secondly, what caused the wound in the first place is not eliminated. The wound can occurr again and again inflicting more and more damage.

We live in a society that wants the quick fix, the easy way out of our misery. But true and lasting healing takes time. The causes of the pain have to be removed so no more injury can take place. The wounds and scars on our souls need to be healed. The sins have to be washed away. We have to be willing to change, do things differently and to actually walk a different path. We need to be cleansed before we can be regenerated. Without addressing these things, we are fooling ourselves.

We cannot fix ourselves. Pills cannot remove what ails us. Only Jesus Christ has the power and authority to bring true healing.

He said:
“I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” John 10:9-11

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” John 11:25

S.O. Brennan, Executive Director Christians in Recovery®

How Do You Choose to Spend Your Time?

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Before my precious father became a Christian in the last week of his 88 years of life, he often commented on the fact that the rest of us in the family spent too much time reading the Bible. “Haven’t you got that thing memorized by now?” he’d asked. “You must have read it a hundred times!”

I can’t say how many times each of us has read the Bible through, but almost ten years after my dad went to home to be with the Lord, we’re still reading it—every day. Why? Because we’re serious about being disciples. Jesus said more than once that if we want to be His disciples, we must “abide” in His Word. Since He is no longer walking the earth in bodily form and speaking to us verbally today, that means His disciples must be reading/studying/meditating on His Word, as found in the Scriptures, regularly. To do anything less disqualifies us as serious disciples.

Sound harsh? Judgmental? Exclusive? If so, I didn’t say it. Jesus did. And He has a right to set the requirements for following Him. We have a lot of people, both inside and outside of the Church, who like to quote the latter part of John 8:31-32 (many of whom have no idea where the quote comes from), while ignoring the first part. “The truth shall make you free,” they proclaim. But what is truth? Pontius Pilate asked that very question, even as Truth stood right in front of him. And we all know how that turned out.

Jesus declared quite clearly that He alone is “the way, THE TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). Just as there is no other way to reach God the Father except through Jesus, there is no other way to be truly free or to be dedicated disciples than to abide in the Word of God. When schedules and circumstances, trials and commitments overwhelm us and we find ourselves too busy to spend regular quality time in the Scriptures, then it is all the more important that we listen and obey the words of our Savior if we truly want to be free. The world will tell us that freedom is found in pursuing our own desires and plans, but God says otherwise. Who will we believe?

How we choose to spend our time gives us the answer to that question. Choose wisely, beloved. You won’t regret it.

Do You Make Him Happy?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

“And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” Genesis 3:8-9 King James Version

I bought a baby parakeet Tuesday afternoon. It is a beautiful blue parakeet. He is two months old. I had planned on naming my new parakeet “Baby” in honor of my first parakeet. However when I was at the pet store, one of the employees was watching me talk to the parakeet and she made the comment “He looks so happy when you are talking to him.” So I decided to name my beautiful new baby parakeet “Happy”.

I am writing this devotion Wednesday night so I have only had him about thirty hours and he is already getting on my finger when I tell him to perch. He is letting me stroke his belly and he really does seem to be happy. The only time he doesn’t seem to be happy is when I am not paying attention to him or talking to Him. I think if he could talk to me, he would say “Where are you and why aren’t you talking to me?”

I think if we will listen with our hearts we will hear our Heavenly Father saying to us “Where art thou and why aren’t you talking to Me?” I believe that it makes God very sad and hurts Him when we don’t talk to Him. He is waiting for us to talk to Him. Sometimes He has to wait all day long before we take a few minutes to talk to Him. How we must hurt Him and break His heart.

We sometimes use the excuse “I’m too busy to talk to Him during the day. I have a very hectic schedule.” Have you ever noticed that if an emergency comes up, we don’t have any problem making time to ask Him to help us? May God forgive us for taking Him for granted. If we are too busy to talk to God, we are too busy and we need to prioritize our schedules and rearrange them to be certain that He comes first before everyone and everything.

It is no wonder at all that we have problems in our work and in our lives when we ignore Him or just squeeze Him in when we have a few extra minutes between meetings and activities. If we will put Him in first in our lives as He should be, we will be a lot more success in our jobs. We will also have more peace and a lot more happiness in our lives.

More important than that, we will make Him happy if we will make time for Him and talk to Him the first thing every morning. Are you making our Heavenly Father happy or are you making Him sad? Are you spending time with Him and talking to Him every morning or are you just giving Him a few minutes between appointments and activities?

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

Difference Makers

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Always remember that what you do matters. In fact, your actions and deeds today could change a life tomorrow.

I’ve probably met thousands of difference makers. Sometimes a song, a fragrance, or even a gesture reminds me of an individual who offered a gentle smile, a warm embrace, or a simple prayer. Difference makers in the life of people like you and me are everywhere. The cool thing is they probably don’t even realize that they are indeed making a difference in the life of an ordinary, everyday person.

For me, it’s sometimes through the rear-view mirror of my life that I actually realize the depth of the impact a difference maker made within my life.

Several weeks ago while speaking for a large group of women in New York I shared a true story about a photographer’s assistant who made a difference in my life, and I’m guessing throughout her life she continued to inspire many others.

I believe I was in second or third grade, when this lady touched my heart and impacted my life forever.

I remember “picture day” very clearly. As I stood in the line with the other kids, I felt rather embarrassed. My hair was messy. In fact, I couldn’t get a comb through it before leaving home so I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the tangles off and plopped the them into the bathroom trashcan. The other girls in the line were dressed in freshly ironed, cute dresses. Their hair was nicely groomed. Really, I didn’t fit in.

Each time the photographer’s flashbulb popped, I moved one step closer to the front of the line. I tried to blend in with the other kids, but that didn’t happen. The photographer’s assistant walked up to me, knelt down, sighed, and looked me in the eye. I trembled with fear and hoped she wouldn’t make a scene, or tell others about the way I looked.

“I’ll be right back, sweetie,” she whispered.

I watched as she walked across the room to a brown metal table. She opened her purse and took out her comb, and then smiled at me as she walked towards me.

“It’s almost time for you to get your picture taken, honey, and you have a few hairs sticking up. Do you mind if I comb your hair?”

My heart melted as this beautiful lady licked her fingertips and ran them through my hair. She gently combed my hair and did the best she could to make my fine, short hair look nice.

More than 45 years later I still remember the kindness and compassion of this lady. She loved on me. She made me feel special. She definitely made a difference in my life.

Like the photographer’s assistant, difference makers are God’s chosen people. They generously share compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience even when no one is looking (Colossians 3:12 paraphrased).

Thank you to all the difference makers of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

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®.

God’s Towel

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4 King James Version

It felt so good this morning to hold the soft towel to my face and dry my face after washing it. The warmth of the towel not only made me feel good, it reminded me of our Heavenly Father. Some glorious day all of our tears, our sorrows, our heartaches and our pain will be gone. God Himself will wipe away the tears from our eyes and from our hearts with His soft gentle kisses of compassion and love. What a happy day that will be when we feel His tender kisses.

Not only will He wipe away the tears from our faces and from our hearts with His soft gentle kisses, He is also wiping away the sins from our hearts through the precious blood of His beloved Son. Our precious Saviour paid a very expensive price so that we can have our sins forgiven and live with Him for all eternity. He died for you and for me. As He hung on that cruel cross bruised and bleeding and in agony and pain, He felt a pain that nobody has ever felt or ever will feel.

What kind of love is this, that He would allow them to crucify Him? It was a compassionate and forgiving unconditional love that flowed from His heart for us that day at Calvary. Jesus not only brought unconditional love into the world; He is unconditional love. His love hasn’t changed even though we continue to hurt Him. He still loves us unconditionally. Jesus loves us as much today as He did yesterday and He will love us as much tomorrow as He does today. What a Saviour! What a friend, this Jesus of Nazareth!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your towel of unconditional love and compassion. Thank You that one day You will kiss away all tears from our faces and from our hearts. Thank You for the gift of Your beloved Son who died so that we might live. Jesus, thank You for loving us so much that You died for us. Indeed, You are worthy to be praised and adored. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I am so thankful that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that you are Lord. On that day, You will finally get the recognition and honor that You so richly deserve. Again, thank You, Heavenly Father and thank You, Jesus for loving us unconditionally. I love both of You so much and I really appreciate all that You have done for me and continue to do for me every day. Amen.

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

“It’s Your Fault”

Monday, January 19th, 2009

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 King James Version

Have you ever said “it’s your fault” to someone? I am ashamed to admit it but I have many times. I’m sure you know what happened when I made that statement to the person. It was like putting more coal on a burning fire. The flames of anger, denial and criticism flared up in the person. Instead of helping the situation, I made it worse. It may not have been my fault that the person was upset but it was my fault that I didn’t put out the fire by apologizing to the person.

If ever someone had a right to say to us “it’s your fault”, it’s Jesus. Where would we be today if Jesus had refused to go to the cross and die for our sins? What if He had said to us “it’s your fault”? We would be on our way to hell for all eternity. Thank God for a compassionate forgiving Saviour who loves us unconditionally. I am so thankful that Jesus loves me so much that He took all of my sins on Him and died for me so that I could be saved and live with Him for all eternity.

There is no one like Jesus! No one loves us like He loves us. He sees into the corners of our hearts where we hide things from our families and our friends. He sees the terror, the grief, the loneliness, the desperation and the fears we have hidden in our hearts and His loving compassionate heart is touched. He feels our pain and He hurts for us. Thank You, Jesus, for comforting and encouraging us when it feels like we can’t take another step or give another smile. Thank You that You are there for us in the bad times as well as in the good times.

The next time someone hurts us instead of saying “it’s your fault” to the person let’s swallow our pride and say to the person “I’m sorry that I hurt you”. We may think that we didn’t do anything but the person thinks that we did and the person is upset and hurt so we should apologize. Instead of heaping coals on the fire, let’s put the fire out by loving people unconditionally.

We need to react with love and kindness when they say things and do things to hurt us. It’s impossible for us to do this in our own strength. We must ask Jesus to love through us. Father, please help us to respond with kindness and love even if we feel that it’s not our fault because we didn’t do anything. May we be children that will make You happy. Amen.

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