Archive for April, 2009

Reaching Out

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Proverbs 21:2-3 NRSV
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Our elementary school is known in our community for its performing arts. Oh, we’re not a magnet school or anything. We just have a group of teachers who love kids and want those kids to have opportunities to sing and dance and act. This year, I’m in charge of the play and I’m determined to make it the best play ever, not so much in excellence of show (though I hope the kids all do their best), but technically so that all the parents can hear and see their kiddies on stage. Technical performance is demanding because it means (in this case) managing about 15 microphones, two computers, a CD player, and calling the show cues for eight student light operators and stage crew. It also happens to mean trying to keep 70 cast members moving from one place to another so that they end up on stage when they’re supposed to.

The problem is that all my good intentions of having a technically good show seem to go down the drain when a egocentric child decides that I’m the answer to their life’s problems and interrupts what I’m doing to ask me what they should do now that their pants are wet from “accidentally” being dropped in the toilet! In the midst of this, I need to be reminded: What would Jesus do?

Jesus was never afraid to stop what He was doing to minister to the people around Him. His disciples, I think, were more like me, interested in achieving the goal, while the Master was (and is) much more interested in saving the lost. This was never better exemplified then when parents began to bring their children to Jesus for His blessing. The disciples didn’t see this as part of the group’s mission and tried to send the children away:

“Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’” (Matthew 19:13-14 NRSV).

Now we all know that the kingdom belongs not only to children. But the fact is, the kingdom belongs to those who are seeking God’s love, His blessing, His acceptance. Our Father is reaching out His hands to the lost, to the disenfranchised, to the lonely and neglected and hurting. And He reaches out His hands through our hands. We are the physical Christ in this world as His Spirit lives in us and through us. The children who come to me often come from homes where they are ignored and neglected. (Two little girls were left at school last night for an hour after practice because one girl’s mom refused to come and pick her up). The best “show” I could give isn’t the one that satisfies my pride, but rather is one where I reach out to every lonely “demanding” child to give love and mercy and, yes, even forgiveness.

Copyright 2009 by Robin L. O’Hare. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission. Permission to reproduce will be given by author by contacting servinggodalone @ yahoo.com. All copies must be reproduced in their entirety and distributed without cost.

Consciousness of God

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

No man can sound the depths of his own natural peace, or rise to the heights of his own natural bliss, who is not conscious of the presence and the companionship of God. This consciousness is natural to the soul whose will is in harmony with the will of God, but it is impossible to the soul whose will is not converted to the Divine will. The work of religion is to create a longing for good in the self of man, so that it may escape from the slavery of sins fatal to its own peace, and reach its highest usefulness to the purposes of development in a direct and living consciousness of God.

Consciousness of God, he holds, is the natural state of things. Sin is unnatural, and prevents the natural state of things from obtaining. Sin is unnatural in the sense that it is the will of the creature opposing itself to the will of the Creator. Always it is sin, and only it is sin, which blinds the eyes and hardens the heart of mankind. It may be the smallest of sins, one of those sins which we describe as merely amiable weaknesses; but let it be in charge of a soul and directing its course, let it be a sin which we find ourselves unable to give up, which we recognize as unworthy, and yet cling to, and we are living in the cold, we are moving in the shadows, and all our faculties are in gyves.

From the book: Life Changers
Used by Permission from Healing-Habits.com

A Life of Laughter

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing:
thou hast put off my sackcloth,
and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee,
and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
Psalm 30: 11, 12 King James Version

I am so thankful that my life is a life that is filled with joy, peace, happiness and laughter. However, it hasn’t always been this way. Most of my life was filled with pain, heartache, fear and sadness. On the saddest and darkest day of my life, as I was lying under a bed in a mental hospital with no desire to live, Jesus came to me. He put His loving and compassionate arms around me and lifted me up from underneath that bed.

He held me close to His heart and dried my tears with His tender kisses. He said “I love you, Joanne. It’s safe for you to come out from under this bed. I won’t let anyone hurt you again. I will never leave you. You can trust Me.” He has kept His word. He has never left me, not even for one minute. What a Saviour! What a friend, this Jesus of Nazareth! There is no one like Jesus. No one loves us like He loves us.

Squire Parsons wrote a beautiful and inspiring song “He Came To Me”. These words fill my heart with joy “He came to me, O, He came to me. When I could not come to where He was, He came to me.” I could not come to where Jesus was but I am so thankful that He loves me so much that He came to me.

My precious Saviour didn’t just come to visit me in that hospital; He took me out of the hospital. He took the terror from my heart and replaced it with the assurance that He will protect me and will never leave me and that He will always love me. This is why I love my precious Saviour so much.

A lot of people have asked me if it is difficult to write about my past. Yes, it is very painful to write about my past but I do it because if it helps just one person then it is worth the embarrassment and painful memories. If your heart is breaking and you are living a life of sadness and pain, I have good news for you. You too can have a life of laughter, happiness, peace, joy and excitement just like I do. If you have invited the Christ of Calvary into your heart to be your personal Saviour, He has already given you everything you need to live a life of laughter.

Allow Jesus to flood your heart and your life with laughter and joy. He really does love you and He wants you to be happy. Spend time with Him every day and laugh with Him. Listen to Him as He softly whispers in your ear “I love you”. He will remove the tears of pain, discouragement, disappointments, grief, heartaches and sorrow from your heart with His tender compassionate kisses. Have you allowed Jesus to fill your heart and your life with laughter or are you still living in bondage to satan?

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

Sin is a Choice

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Sin is a word which denotes a choosing. The will chooses the bad. It is its duty, in the interest of the world, to choose the good. It is fatal to its own peace and happiness to choose the bad. But it chooses the bad. This act of choosing constitutes the sin.

So long as it consents to the slavery of the bad it cannot perceive that to choose good is not only right, but a matter of the first importance to its own liberty. All sin is reaction; it is an attempt on the part of the human will to reverse the processes of growth–to go back, not to go forward; to descend, not to ascend. The will which chooses the bad, therefore, is in opposition to the will of the universe, that is to say, the Divine Will, the Will of God immanent in growth.

In order to be free from the tyranny of sin, and in order to gain the natural liberty of a will in harmony with the will of the universe, there must be, first and foremost, a desire for the good. Without that desire the will is powerless. But let that desire exist, howwever feebly or intermittently, and the enslaved will is neither helpless nor hopeless. Let that desire beecome the strongest and intensest longing of the heart, and not only can the will be delivered from its oppression, but a change of the will can be brought about so complete, so pervasive of the whole being, so creative in power and goodness, that it may truly be described as a new birth of the soul.

From the book: Life Changers
Healing-Habits.com

For the Miracle to Happen, I Had to be Open and Willing

Friday, April 24th, 2009

The things I change are on the outside and the things God changes are all on the inside. I can only do so much….. yet I need to do all I can.

I have to work each of the 12 Steps. I have to diligently use the tools of recovery given to me. It is up to me to not pick up a drink or drug…. or to say bad things to people…..or mistreat others or myself.

My miracle did not happen until I was honest, open and willing for God to tangibly working in my life. I had to be willing to allow Him to change me.

Ultimately God is in charge of the inner transformation. That takes a miracle… and that is His business. He is really good at miracles.

I thought I understood being born again…. and I was born again as a Christian…. but I got born yet again as a Christian in recovery. It is a miracle. It is God’s doing. And all the praise goes to him.

Psalm 106:8
He saved them for His name’s sake,
that He might make His mighty power to be known.

Our Rock of Love

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
my God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
my buckler, and the horn of my salvation,
and my high tower.
I will call upon the Lord,
who is worthy to be praised:
so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
Psalm 18:1-3 King James Version

Not only is Jesus our strength, our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, our strength, our buckler, the horn of our salvation and our high tower; He is also our rock of love. When our families and friends leave us, we have the assurance in our hearts that Jesus is our rock of love. He is faithful and dependable and He will never leave us even in the midst of crises or difficult situations.

Has someone who you thought was your best friend turned his or her back on you and stopped being your friend? Don’t despair, Jesus is still with you. He is more than able to carry you through this time of heartache and sorrow. He will pick you up in His compassionate and loving arms. He will hold you close to His loving heart and carry you until your tears stop flowing. He will tenderly dry the tears from your eyes and from your heart with His gentle kisses.

What a Saviour! What a friend, this Jesus of Nazareth! There is no one like Jesus. No one loves us like He loves us. We know that He loves us because He proved His love for us when He allowed them to crucify Him on the old rugged cross. The question we must ask ourselves is “Do I love Jesus and if I do, what am I doing to prove that I love Him?” Remember, the level of our service to Jesus depends on our level of love for Him. How much do you love Him and what are you doing to prove that you love Him?

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

Admitting Powerlessness

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Step One is:
We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and dysfunctional behaviors and that our lives had become unmanageable.

This was a big….way big step for me. Nobody likes to admit they are powerless. I equated powerlessness with defeat. I thought I was admitting defeat. But what I learned from the 12 Steps is that in admitting that I am powerless, I am opening the door to God. It is the first step toward victory.

As Paul said in the Bible: I had to decrease….. so God could increase. I had to loose control….. or maybe not loose control….but instead I had to come to the realization that I never did have control or power over my life. It was coming to the realization that only God is in control. I was finally able to get myself out of the way.

Trust Him Gladly

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!
Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

With Easter just past and Mother’s Day on the horizon, I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers, particularly two of them from the Bible. First, of course, was Eve, often referred to as the “mother of all living.” And then there was Mary, the mother of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

What a study in contrasts! Eve, who with Adam had the privilege of living in the perfect environment and in a perfect relationship with one another and with God—not to mention all the animals—caved in to the temptation to doubt God the minute the serpent called the Creator’s Word and His character into question. And the entire human race has been dealing with the consequences ever since. Mary, on the other hand, affirmed the goodness and infallibility of both God’s Word and His character when she declared, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” As a result of Mary’s humble obedience and faith, we no longer have to pay the consequences of Eve’s foolish choice and Adam’s blatant sin.

Mary of Nazareth, an innocent teenage girl engaged to a man named Joseph, had just had her life invaded by an angel, who announced to her that she was going to have a baby, even though she was a virgin. “With God, nothing is impossible,” the angel told her. And with that explanation, this young virgin yielded herself to God’s will and purpose for her life.

Just as Eve fell into sin by yielding to the temptation to doubt God’s Word (“has God indeed said…?”) and His character (“God told you not to eat the fruit of this tree because He doesn’t want you to be like Him or to know as much as He knows”), Mary was able to fulfill her destiny because she believed God’s Word was true and His character was good. She therefore laid down all rights to her own life and proceeded to fulfill God’s purpose for her in bringing forth the Savior of the world.

During this post-Easter season as we approach Mother’s Day when we honor those who gave us physical life here on earth, may we also honor that great truth demonstrated and modeled to us by the mother of Jesus—the truth that God’s Word is always true and His character is always good; therefore we can trust Him and gladly lay down our own lives to serve Him, as well as those we meet on our journey home.

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

Our Flower of Hope

Monday, April 20th, 2009

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Song of Solomon 2:1 King James Version

My favorite flower is a red rose. It is beautiful and it smells so sweet just as Jesus is beautiful and sweet. I love the words to this inspiring song that Edward Mote wrote “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus Name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.” Every time I sing this song or hear it, I am reminded of the faithfulness and beauty of Jesus.

The greatest Christian is only a sinner who has been saved by God’s grace and by the precious cleansing and atoning blood of our risen Saviour. We must keep our eyes on Jesus and trust in Him and not in people. We need to anchor ourselves to the solid Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the definitions for hope in Webster’s Dictionary is “to expect with confidence”. We can trust Jesus to protect us. He will be faithful to heal our hearts and dry our tears with His tender kisses when satan hurls his poisonous darts of discouragement, criticism, and judgment at us.

There are times that instead of putting our trust in Jesus we put our trust in people and then we wonder why we get hurt. We should never put our trust in anyone other than Jesus. He will never hurt us and He will never fail us. What He tells us we can rely on and we can take it to the bank. Our precious Saviour is trustworthy and it is always safe to trust Him. Indeed, Jesus is our flower of hope. Have you put your trust in Him?

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

Are You Confident and Well Pleased?

Friday, April 17th, 2009

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body
and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8).

We have just come off of the most victorious celebration in all of Christendom—the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is the central, pivotal point of our faith, for without it, our faith is vain, ridiculous, and hopeless. Without a risen Savior, our religion is no different than any other, and our eternal future just as bleak.

But if we are truly born again, we know that we know that we KNOW the certainty of Christ’s Resurrection because He now lives within us. As surely (or more so!) as we know we are breathing, we know the Spirit of the risen Lord has taken up residency within our hearts, both as a Guide for how to live here on earth and as an assurance of eternal life when we leave this place.

So why don’t we look forward to that transition from temporal life to eternal with more joy and anticipation? Seriously, if we really believe what we say we believe, that passage into the very presence of God should be the most eagerly awaited event imaginable, one we are continually pressing into with each passing day. But let’s be honest, shall we? Don’t we get so caught up in our earthly life—even and maybe especially the “good” things about it—that we resist the idea of giving it up and moving on to something better?

Personally, I love what I do. I love writing Christian books and blogs and devotionals. I love fellowshipping with other believers, communing with and singing praises to God, basking in His presence, enjoying biblical studies and learning from the written Word—and, of course, spending time with my loved ones. But do I care about those things so much that I give them priority over “graduating” to my eternal destiny with God, foolishly thinking that all those “good” things in this life will be lost when I move on to the next?

My first reaction is to say, Of course not! God is first in my heart and life. But is He? With Easter just past, maybe it’s a good time to check our “heart condition” and find out if loving and serving God really is our first priority, since that’s clearly what the Scriptures point out is our primary calling. If the Lord came for us this very moment, is there anything here in this life that we would regret leaving behind in order to go to be with Him? If so, maybe we need to ask God’s forgiveness for allowing idols into our lives and then lay down those idols RIGHT NOW—rather than waiting until the moment He really does come for us.

Do we actually think our life here is better in any way than what it will be when we are in God’s presence? If so, we haven’t grasped the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” May our prayer today be that God will help us understand that great truth so that we no longer have anything here on earth that holds us back from our longing to be with Him….

***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: My latest release, MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE SPEAK TO MOTHERS OF TODAY, is available at www.cbd.com for Mother’s Day gift-giving!

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