Archive for September, 2009

Don’t Pick Them Up Again

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 King James Version

There is a song that I really love and it is a song that has helped me learn to trust Jesus. Pastor Charles Albert Tindley penned these beautiful words. The name of the song is “Leave It There”. I wonder how many times we have sung these words and never did them.

These words have helped me so much “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.” I think if we are honest with ourselves we will have to admit that there are times when we take our burdens to the Lord and as soon as we are through praying and asking Him for help, we pick them up again.

When we pick our burdens up again, what we are saying is “We don’t trust You, Jesus, to solve the problems and crises in our lives”. May God have mercy on us and forgive us for not trusting His beloved Son. Do you take your burdens to Jesus and then pick them up again? If so, you are hurting Him and breaking His heart.

May God help all of us to do what the words of this beautiful song tell us to do “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there”. Are you willing to trust Jesus with your burdens? If you are, don’t pick them up again. He is waiting for you to trust Him. There are times when He can’t work in our lives because we try to solve our problems ourselves. Let’s get out of His way and leave our burdens with Him.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Follow Me And Be Free

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Ghandi

Yesterday I wrote about the pitfalls of Legislating Morality.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” [Matthew 5:17]

I believe that Jesus meant exactly what He said. I believe that absolute truth exists. I believe that ethics and morals are not relative, that right is always right, and wrong is always wrong. I believe that Jesus is the source of truth, and that His model is the example we’re meant to emulate.

“FOLLOW ME.”

Jesus knew that the written law couldn’t sufficiently capture His truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” The fullness of truth is expressed only in a personal relationship with Jesus.

It sounds so simple, as long as I don’t have to actually put it into practice. I want to follow, but I know I’ll fail. The best I can hope for is a poor but improving approximation of His desire for me.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:38-48]

HE CAN’T BE SERIOUS

Jesus was either the most naïve, impractical teacher in history or He knew something about us that’s beyond the world’s experience.

Do you think He was serious? I do.

By any worldly standard, Jesus didn’t win. He was unfairly persecuted and He refused to get even. I don’t want to follow that example. I want to see my opponents defeated, exposed, and humiliated. I demand fair treatment, and I don’t want to get even, I want to get ahead.

Turn the other cheek? You can’t possibly operate in this world with that sort of approach. People will take advantage of you. How can you possibly survive, much less thrive, if you respond to evil with love? Doesn’t He understand that loving my enemy leaves me vulnerable, that unscrupulous enemies will welcome the chance to strike at the second exposed cheek?

He understands perfectly, because He experienced it. Jesus’ followers will suffer injustice and persecution. He makes only one simple guarantee: if you do it His way, you’ll be free.

AN ENDLESS CYCLE

As long as I insist upon an eye for an eye, I’m a prisoner because the other guy dictates my behavior. If he’s kind, I can be kind. But if he’s nasty, I have to react with at least an equal level of nastiness. He gossips, I have to gossip. He hits, I have to hit back.

I may get even, and I may even win. But I’m never free, because my only choice is to react to the world on its terms.

One side misuses the process and stretches the truth, so the other side misuses the process and stretches the truth to keep up. They yell, so we have to yell louder or we’ll lose the argument. Right and wrong don’t matter; you can’t let the other side get ahead. It’s the stuff of politics and punditry and politicized pulpits, and we have to follow our side’s leaders or we’ll lose.

But we’re following the wrong leaders.

Violence demands violence. Disrespect must be answered disrespectfully. Suspicion requires more suspicion. And on and on it goes, a death spiral of eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth until with world is littered with toothless blind people lashing out at one another in darkness.

And in this cycle, the real enemy, the enemy of our souls, celebrates. Followers of Jesus succumb to the world’s temptation and surrender their power to choose love. You can almost hear him whispering, “Surely God doesn’t really mean that you’re supposed to be kind and love when others do obvious wrong. Surely He doesn’t want you to let evil ideas win.” And he chuckles with glee as we bow to his subtle twisting of Jesus’ simple words.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Jesus asks us to stop the cycle. He asks us to be different from the tax collectors and pagans. He asks us to step above slavery to the world’s ways and follow His way. He asks us to serve those who intend to harm us. In His simple, naïve words, He offers the keys to the prison.

    * The Pharisees command obedience to the letter of the law. Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”.
    * The Romans kill their enemies. Jesus forgives the soldiers who drive nails into His body.
    * The enemy of our souls tells us that God wants us to win the world’s battles. Jesus asks us to look to a kingdom beyond this broken world.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. [Galatians 5:1]

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. [2 Corinthians 3:17]

Jesus says simply, “Follow me.” He doesn’t promise that our side will win, or that the world will be fair, or that people won’t take advantage of us. Following Jesus is naïve and impractical, except for one thing.

When you follow Jesus, you get to be free.

Why is the simple message of Jesus so difficult to implement?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2009 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

Are We Comforting Them?

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 King James Version

We have a merciful Heavenly Father. Not only is He merciful; He also comforts us in all our tribulation. Since He comforts us, we should also comfort those who are discouraged, lonely and heartbroken. Are we comforting them? There are times when we try to give people advice when we should be comforting them. When someone is heartbroken and hurting, that person does not want advice.

What that person needs is someone who will comfort him or her. Above all, we should never criticize someone who is hurting. Every one of us should ask ourselves this question “Am I comforting people who are lonely, discouraged and heartbroken or am I giving them advice and criticizing them?” May God have mercy on us and forgive us if we are not comforting people just as He comforts us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for being a compassionate, loving and merciful Father. Thank You, dear Father, for being faithful to dry the tears from our eyes and from our hearts with Your tender kisses. You are a wonderful Father. We love You and appreciate all that You do for us. Thank You for holding us close to Your loving heart and rocking us in Your arms until the hurt goes away. Amen.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Walking in Joy and Freedom

Friday, September 11th, 2009

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (2 John 4:18).

Today is 9/11—an infamous day that the vast majority of us will never forget. Much like those who were alive on Sunday, December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, we remember where we were that morning in September when we heard the news that our beloved country was under attack. As the hours passed, we soon learned the extent of human loss, and we grieved, as we still do at the memory of that horrific occurrence.

Eight years later, we still grieve, though the pain has diminished with time, as it does in the aftermath of most tragedies. But the lessons of that day remain. Though God has promised to keep us in “perfect peace” if we will focus our hearts and minds on Him and His faithfulness, He has not promised that we will not experience difficult times. We live in a broken world, full of broken promises and broken hearts. We also live in a world that is, to a large extent, driven by fear—whether it be fear of the known, or the unknown.

Despite the fact that we have picked up the pieces and moved on with our lives since that horrifying day in September 2001, we cannot deny that we will never be quite the same as we were before those planes full of innocent people were flown into buildings, bringing death and destruction on a monumental level. And that’s as it should be. We need to learn from such watershed events and never return to the complacency that helped allow them to happen in the first place. But even as we take a permanent stance of vigilance against future attacks, we must take a stance of vigilance against allowing fear of the future to paralyze us from walking in the freedom and joy that is inherent in walking with our Resurrected Savior.

Jesus Christ defeated death. He didn’t go around it or over it, or avoid it in any way. He met it head-on—and came through triumphant on the other side, leaving an empty tomb as testimony of His great victory. That is Perfect Love, folks—a perfect love that overcomes death and promises to one day carry us through that inevitable experience as well.

As we rightfully remember and honor those who died on 9/11, may we also keep our hearts and minds focused on the One who is greater than any tragedy that comes our way. For as Romans 8:31 declares, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

May you all walk in the joy and freedom of the Perfect Love that casts out all fear!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Macias
Copyright 2009 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest books are:
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”
(New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Are You Watering?

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 King James Version

I have a beautiful plant that a friend gave me. My friend told me the name of it but I don’t remember what she told me. My sister made a comment about the plant “it sure looks healthy”. She asked me how often I watered it. I told her that I watered it once a week. After my sister left, I realized that I forgot to tell her that every time I walk by the plant, I smile at it. If I remember to do so, I say to the plant “you are beautiful”. Someone put that plant in the pot. I am watering it but God is making it grow.

Jesus has planted salvation and His love in the hearts of every person who has been redeemed and cleansed by His precious blood. You and I need to water His love for them by smiling at them, encouraging them and praying for them. All of us need encouragement and we need each other. Are you watering people who are lonely, hurting, discouraged and in despair? Do you encourage them by telling them that Jesus loves them and that He loves them unconditionally?

If we will be faithful to water them, God will give the increase. He will dry the tears in their hearts and eyes with His tender compassionate kisses. Are you willing to water the love that Jesus has planted in people’s hearts? There may come a time when you will need someone to water you. If you don’t water others, it’s doubtful that you will be watered. It is so true “you get back what you give out”. Pick up God’s watering can and start watering the hearts of your family and friends.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Take Them to Jesus

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

“And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Mark 2:3-5 King James Version

Many years ago, my Mother said to me with tears in her eyes “Joanne, tie me in this chair so I won’t fall”. My Mother had Alzheimer’s disease and she was afraid she would fall out of her chair if I didn’t tie her in the chair. I had restrained many patients for their protection when I worked in nursing homes. However, the day I had to restrain my own Mother in the chair was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life.

Today, as I was thinking about restraining Mom in her chair, I was reminded of the man who had the palsy. This man who had the palsy was too sick to go to Jesus so four people carried him to Jesus. However, there were so many people gathered to hear Jesus preach that they couldn’t get to Him. These caring and compassionate people broke the roof so they could get the man who had the palsy to Jesus.

Do we care enough about people who are discouraged, suicidal, heartbroken and hurting to turn off the television and take them to Jesus in prayer? Are we willing to call them or email them or send them a letter by regular mail and tell them that Jesus loves them and cares about them? Have we allowed Jesus to fill our hearts with compassion for others? May God have mercy on us and forgive us if we aren’t willing to get out of our comfort zones and encourage those who desperately need to know that someone cares if they live or die.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Are You Leaning?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 King James Version

John Stallings wrote a beautiful song “Learning to Lean”. I believe that these words came from the depths of his heart. “I’m learning to lean, learning to lean, Learning to lean on Jesus. Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed, I’m learning to lean on Jesus.” It is only when we lean on Jesus that we find rest, comfort and encouragement for our weary hearts.

In our Scripture verse Jesus tells us to learn of Him. We may know all the geographical places in the Bible and know about all the events in the Bible but if we don’t know the heart of Jesus, all we have is knowledge. Telling people about the places in the Bible and the events in the Bible will not lead them to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour.

We must tell them about Jesus and His unconditional love for them. However, it is not enough to tell them about Jesus. We need to live so that they will see Jesus in our smiles, hear Him in our words, and feel Him in our actions. We can tell people all day long that Jesus loves them but if we never prove it to them by our loving actions, they are not going to believe us.

Are you leaning on Jesus or are you still carrying your burdens and trying to solve your problems by yourself? You may find a temporary solution but only Jesus can give you a lasting peace. Give all of your heartaches, burdens and problems to Jesus and He will give you rest. We have a loving and compassionate Saviour. Thank You, Jesus, for loving us and caring about us.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

His Promise to Us

Monday, September 7th, 2009

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26: 3-4 King James Version

There are times when we worry and get upset over crises and problems in our lives. We never have to worry about anything because Jesus has promised to give us perfect peace if we will keep our minds on Him. Not only has He promised us peace, He has promised us perfect peace. Where we make our mistake is instead of keeping our minds on Jesus and trusting Him, we worry about things. Our Scripture verse tells us to trust Jesus because “in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength”.

We put more trust in the chairs we sit on than we do in Jesus. When we sit down we don’t wonder if the chair will hold us, we just sit down. What a sad commentary it is on those of us who claim to be Christians that we trust a chair more than we trust the Saviour of the world. May God have mercy on us and forgive us for not trusting Him. Thank God for His precious promise to us, a promise to keep us in perfect peace.

Heavenly Father, please forgive us for doubting Your promise and for trusting things and people more than we trust Your Son. Help us to trust Jesus more. May we bring joy and happiness to You. Teach us to rely on Jesus more than we rely on things and people. Jesus, thank You for not only dying for us so that we may be saved but also thank You for giving us strength. Thank You for being our comforter and for kissing the tears from our eyes and from our heart. Amen.

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Are You Following Your Heart or God?

Friday, September 4th, 2009

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
but whoever walks wisely will be delivered (Proverbs 28:16).

We talked a couple of weeks ago about the need to walk in God’s wisdom and not the wisdom of the world. Our scripture verse today, Proverbs 28:16, reinforces that need.

First, the verse clearly tells us that we are fools to trust in our own heart. Just the opposite of what the world tells us, isn’t it? “Follow your heart” is a word of advice often given by those who don’t know God. But then, isn’t it logical that an unbeliever would instruct others to do something foolish, since the Scriptures tells us that “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). A fool, by biblical definition, is one who does not believe in God and who trusts in his own heart. As believers we should know better, since the Scriptures also tell us in Jeremiah 17:9 that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” If we claim to believe in the God of the Bible, then we must choose to believe in (and act upon!) the instructions found within its pages, rather than on what we may “feel” in our heart at the moment.

And that’s the problem. If we have not disciplined ourselves to regularly read and memorize and meditate on God’s Word, we won’t readily know God’s direction at any given moment and in any sort of situation. Without God’s Word hidden in our heart so that we might not sin against Him (see Psalm 119:11), we humans are ALL prone to go our own way and follow what we feel in our fickle and self-centered (“desperately wicked”) heart. The end is always the same: We reap the consequences of that foolish decision.

If you are facing a decision today, CHOOSE to trust God’s wisdom as found ONLY in the Scriptures, rather than in what you may FEEL in your heart. It may take awhile to get that clear direction from God, and all too often we don’t like the waiting involved to discover it. But the alternative, though a seemingly quick and easy fix, is anything but….

The wisdom of the ages is at our fingertips, folks. Be willing to take the time and make the effort to avail yourself of it before making a decision that will impact your life—and the lives of others. Then we can reap the consequences with joy!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Macias
Copyright 2009 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest books are:
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”
(New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Gentle Jesus, Meek And Mild?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

Jesus can sometimes be a confusing guide.

    * Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, passively endures ridicule, scorn, and torture.
    * Humble Jesus makes His triumphal entry in front of cheering crowds on a common donkey.
    * Assertive Jesus turns over tables and drives the money changers from the temple.
    * Confrontational Jesus condemns the self-serving, superficial religiosity of the Pharisees.

Which Jesus am I supposed to follow? Gentle and humble, assertive and confrontational—what’s the model?

The answer, of course, is “all of the above,” but that’s confusing in a culture that equates gentleness with weakness.

Jesus was the most powerful human in history, with the armies of heaven at His command. He could have turned the Roman Empire on its head, destroyed the corrupt religious establishment, and established Himself as king, general, and high priest. He could have righted every wrong, punished every evil, and placed His friends in positions of honor and authority.

In our world, these are the sorts of actions that define strength. All of them, and much more, were within Jesus’ grasp. So what did He do?

He washed feet. He wandered among obscure villages and spoke to insignificant outcasts. He chose a life of service that took Him to a horrible, humiliating death.

Two of Jesus statements have always had a powerful impact on me.

    * “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
    Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” [John 19:10-11]
    * The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” [John 10:17-18]

In our culture, powerful men give the orders. Obedience isn’t usually associated with strength and authority. Jesus willingly surrendered the power of the universe to do His Father’s will.

Jesus knew that coercion, force, and violence are signs of weakness. He could have kicked in the doors of power and demanded change. He could have debated the religious leaders into submission. He could have threatened dire consequences unless public policy conformed to His truth.

He didn’t brandish weapons or shout at His opponents. He didn’t use His authority and status to intimidate and control. He did none of the things we equate with power and strength, because He knew that they’re only imitations of strength.

Jesus knew that authentic courage means following God’s will. He displayed the courage to stand for right, regardless of the risk to Himself and His friends. But He didn’t need to win. He didn’t need others to acknowledge that He was right. He knew He was right in God’s eyes, and that mattered more to Him than anything else.

That’s the model, that’s the source of strength. If I know I’m right in God’s eyes, I can live with self-confidence and strength.

    * It doesn’t matter what others think.
    * I don’t need to win.
    * I can serve in obscurity and humility.

Jesus wasn’t gentle and meek because He lacked strength or courage. Instead, because He knew the truth and held the authority of God in His hands, He had the courage to be gentle.

That’s the model. Those are the footsteps I want to follow.

Both gentleness and meekness are born of power, not weakness. There is a pseudo-gentleness that is effeminate, and there is a pseudo-meekness that is cowardly. But a Christian is to be gentle and meek because those are Godlike virtues. We should never be afraid, therefore, that the gentleness of the Spirit means weakness of character. It takes strength, God’s strength, to be truly gentle. Jerry Bridges

Do you struggle with needing to get your way or needing to win? How do you get past those feelings?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2009 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