Archive for June, 2011

Are You Armed with the Sword?

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

…and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God (Ephesians, 6:17, NKJV).


Have you ever noticed that of all the spiritual weapons listed in Ephesians 6, the Word of God is the only one that actually serves as both an offensive and defensive weapon? Defensive weapons are certainly necessary because we know the enemy of our souls continually prowls around “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But as believers who belong to the victorious Savior who already defeated death, we don’t have to wait for the enemy to bring the fight to us. We can assault the very “gates of hell” (which Matthew 16:18 says will not prevail against the Church), and we will win. But how do we do that? With the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit.

I learned how important this was the first time I became involved in jail ministry and discovered that, unlike when I went behind bars with a ministry team, as an individual visiting a specific inmate, I could not bring my Bible in with me. So how was I supposed to minister to that inmate? The Lord reminded me at that very moment that I had read and studied and memorized Scripture for years, and I carried that powerful weapon with me wherever I went. And that, my friends, made me “armed and dangerous”!

I hope that you too have realized the importance of taking the fight to the very gates of hell, armed with the Word of God in your heart. It is all we ever need to prevail against the enemy of our soul—and to help deliver others from his deadly grip.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2011 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”

and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

No Greater Love

More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Resilient

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Last week Becky was finally able to put out her normal array of flowers. Usually that happens earlier, but we’ve had an odd spring.

Since I’ve been trapped in bed, she placed an especially beautiful hanging basket right where I could see it. Yellow, red, orange, green—the room brightened each time I glanced at it.

Then the hail came. We get early summer hailstorms in Colorado that strips paint and damages tough, “weatherproof” roof shingles. Contractors will be busy replacing and repairing for a few weeks.

Fragile flowers and hailstones—it wasn’t much of a contest. All of those plants, so meticulously placed just days earlier, lay battered and seemingly lifeless, colored petals strewn around the yard.

And that gorgeous hanging basket got the worst of the storm. Completely exposed, swinging in the violent wind, it was reduced to a mass of tangled stems. The poor thing looked like it had received a really bad haircut—you almost felt embarrassed for it as it, hanging there naked and exposed.

Dead.

Four days later—the yellow and orange and red are brighter than ever, along with some purple I didn’t notice before. The shingles and paint still wait for repair, but that poor, “dead” plant is bigger and more beautiful.

We surveyed the damage to Becky’s flowers after the storm, convinced that she’d have to replace them. In our minds it was a total loss.

Life’s like that a lot. Like those seemingly fragile flowers, we bounce back in amazing and unexpected ways from apparent devastation.

We forget too easily that God is all about Hope. He designed us to be resilient.

Is there some part of your life in which you need to trust God for resilience?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Never Forsaken

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Psalm 9:10: “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

A friend and I discussed our trust in God. She has prayed for her children for years and hasn’t seen results. Sometimes she thinks things are worse.

She continues to trust in the Lord even when it seems he doesn’t hear her prayers or doesn’t know she exists.

People will disappoint us. Some will betray us, but the Bible says the Lord will never forsake those who seek him.

I prayed for an unsaved co-worker for several years. The more I prayed and trusted in the Lord for her salvation, the meaner she became.

Years later, I learned God had answered my prayers. He had not forsaken me. That former co-worker now knows and loves the Lord. She and her husband serve the Lord together.

Dear God, thank you that you have never forsaken those who seek you. Amen.

Application: How will you show your trust in the Lord this week?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2011, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC

All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.

She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.

Visit her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Taking It Personally

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Do you have trouble hearing the Bible in a personal way?

We hear a lot of discussion about whether we should interpret the Bible literally. I want to tell you about an experience that makes me wonder if I ought to take it a bit more personally.

The other night I was feeling really down. I’d received disappointing news about the progress of my healing, and I was pretty much inconsolable.

A friend who’s also a pastor stopped by. Dick isn’t a quick-fix, easy-answer guy. He’s not the sort of preacher who whips out a handy-dandy scripture to put a band-aid on a gaping wound.

He sensed that mostly he just needed to listen, so that’s what he did. After I dumped my frustrations for a while, he did two extremely wise and helpful things.

First, he told me he didn’t understand why all of this was happening or what God was trying to tell me. He shared his own inability to discern what God’s saying to him in difficult times.

That might sound awfully simple, but this is one of the most prayerful, thoughtful men of God I’ve ever known. It meant a great deal to me to hear about his own uncertainty and lack of clarity.

Then he pulled out a Bible and asked permission to read something. With most folks this might have shut me down, but I said okay because it was him.

So Dick read a few selected, familiar verses from Romans 8:31-39, but with a twist—he replaced every personal pronoun with “Rich.” So, for example, the opening line came out as:

If God is for Rich, who can be against Rich?

Today, I invite you to give this a try. Read the following sentences, aloud if possible. Whenever you come to a “_______” insert your first name.

If God is for _______, who can be against _______?

He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for _______—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give _______ all things?

Who will bring any charge against _______ whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns?

No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for _______. Who shall separate _______ from the love of Christ?

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate _______ from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I don’t know about you, but those words brought a lot of comfort and peace to me. They made it feel personal.

I think that’s the point.

What did this exercise feel like to you?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Who’s REALLY In Charge ?

Friday, June 10th, 2011

What do you believe without really realizing it?

I wish the past couple of months had happened differently. I don’t like the illness, doctor visits, disappointments, inactivity, and interruptions of my carefully-constructed plans for the bike ride project.

Makes me angry. Makes me sad. Makes me frustrated, disappointed, discouraged…makes me all sorts of stuff.

Who wouldn’t be angry, right?

What to hear a hard truth? This situation doesn’t “make me” angry, or sad, or anything else. Do you know what makes me frustrated and disappointed and …?

I do. Or, more precisely, a crazy belief does.

Humans have somehow acquired one particularly troubling cultural belief: we’re supposed to be in control of everything.

It’s drilled into us as children. The message isn’t subtle or hidden: work, study, fight, manipulate—do whatever it takes to control yourself, others, and events. And I believed. I didn’t question, I believed.

So now I’m angry because this thing has happened and I can’t control it.

Guess what? My personal control over my circumstances is largely an illusion, and an extremely harmful illusion at that.

Jesus said it (Luke 11:25-26): Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

These past months remind me of an eternal truth: I cannot control other people, and mostly I cannot control external events. However, I am the supreme commander of me.

No one can take from me the right to control my responses.

Jesus says quietly, “You have the freedom to choose internal peace. You don’t have to fuss and worry.” I surrender that right when I react in anger or frustration or worry.

I’m free to be angry, or I’m free to be at rest. It’s not a platitude; nobody’s saying it’s easy. Choosing an attitude of calm in the midst of the storm is tough. (Mark 4:35-41)

It means choosing a different belief, knowing in your heart that God’s in control even when you can’t see or feel or understand it. Even when you don’t like it.

I want a quick fix. I want it better, I want it my way. And if I can’t have that, I at least want an explanation.

But, hard as it is to get through my thick skull, it’s not about what I want. I’m not in charge here.

I want the peace to accept that.

Where does the illusion of control cause you pain?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Where is God?

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

“In the world you will have tribulation;
but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV).

How many times have you heard professing Christians in the midst of trials ask, “Where is God?” Perhaps you’ve even said those words yourself. Even if we haven’t actually spoken them, we’ve probably all thought them at times—at least for an instant. But deep down we know the answer, don’t we? God is still on the Throne, faithful as always, never leaving or forsaking us.

So why do we react as if He had abandoned us when disaster strikes? Jesus didn’t say we MIGHT have tribulation in the world; He assured us that we WOULD have it. But what else did He say? “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” His faithful promise to us is that there is no trial or tribulation or disaster that can steal our assurance of salvation, our promise of eternal life with Him. The One who overcame the world when He burst forth from the grave now holds us in His nail-scarred hands. We belong to Him, and He is in complete control, even when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances.

Pastor Peter Paul of Bangalore, India, understands that. A dedicated follower of Christ, this courageous pastor dared to hand out New Testaments to Muslim children. The result? His house and all his belongings were destroyed, and his family is now homeless. When the police showed up, they arrested Peter Paul instead of his attackers, charging him with “disturbing communal harmony” by distributing Christian books to Muslim young people. He was put in prison, but that didn’t stop him. He preached to fellow inmates and won many to Christ.

What does Pastor Peter Paul have to say about all this? “Persecution is not an accident. It is the expectation.”

This humble pastor believes the words of Jesus. He understands that in the world he will have tribulation; he also rejoices in the midst of that tribulation because he knows he belongs to the One who has “overcome the world.”

And so do we, dear friends, so let’s rejoice together!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2011 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”

and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

No Greater Love

More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Developing Fitness

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

I’ve fussed a lot lately about the forced inactivity that’s gradually degrading my physical fitness. But I wonder if I should be a bit more concerned about my spiritual fitness.

Hebrews 12:1 talks about following Jesus using an analogy of physical training: Therefore … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Developing fitness is actually a relatively simple process–simple, but certainly not easy. Do the work, and you get more fit. Since I’ll soon (hopefully) be resuming physical training, I thought about some principles that might transfer to developing our spiritual fitness.

One day per week isn’t enough. Fitness requires sustained effort and attention throughout the week.

Talking about it doesn’t do any good. You can play the part, wear the costume, and say the words—doesn’t matter. Fitness only changes when you actually do the work.

Everyone does it at their own level. Comparing is a great way to make sure you get discouraged and quit–or never begin.

It depends less on discipline and more on developing proper habits. “Discipline” means forcing yourself to do something you don’t really want to do, and eventually fades for most folks. Habits become ingrained, part of how you live. Fitness habits—physical or spiritual—are much more likely to remain.

Accountability helps. Workout partners, small groups, prayer partners. Gyms, teams, churches. Coaches, pastors, mentors. Fitness is a lot easier in communities.

It’s a long-term issue. You don’t get unfit, or fit, in a day or a week. It’s never too late to begin. And as long as you’ve got a pulse, you’re not finished.

There are probably more, but that’ll get us going for a Monday. As this first full week of June revs up, do you need to begin working on your own physical or spiritual fitness?

What other principles would help the rest of us develop physical and spiritual fitness?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Drink from the Brook

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011


1 Kings 17:4: “You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you.”

Elijah told Ahab there would be neither dew nor rain in the next few years. Then God told Elijah to hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan (1 Kings 17:1-2).

God promised Elijah he would drink from the brook God also promised he would send ravens to feed Elijah.

Verse 6 tells us, “The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

When economic times look grim, when we lose a job, when we think we can’t go on another day, let’s remember God’s faithfulness to Elijah.

God took care of Elijah, and he will take care of us too.

Dear God, thank you for your faithfulness in meeting my needs. Amen.

Application: How will you show your trust in God’s provision this week?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2011, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
Visit her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Go to Him just as you are–and receive from Him all you need!

Monday, June 6th, 2011

“Come unto Me.” Matthew 11:28

Jesus calls you to His throne of grace. He is there waiting to hear, relieve and bless you. You are to go to Him just as you are–and receive from Him all you need.

He will give you:
wisdom–to direct your steps;
peace–to keep your hearts;
strength–to do His will;
righteousness–to justify your souls;
and rest–unspeakably sweet.

He is glorified in bestowing these blessings upon you. He calls you this morning, this moment–to receive all you need–without money and without price. What a precious Savior is Jesus! What a kind and tender Friend!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“Come!” He says, “Come to Me! Do not go to SELF, to the world, to the empty cisterns which creatures idolize; but come unto Me, and I will do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine!
Your sins–I will pardon;
your graces–I will revive;
your comforts–I will restore;
your holiness–I will increase;
your efforts to glorify Me–I will crown with success;
I will bless you–and you shall be a blessing!”

~ James Smith, “The Pastor’s Morning Visit”

Learning From Adversity

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Have you learned something important in a time of struggle?

The past weeks have been something of a roller coaster for me, emotionally more than physically. I’ve discovered that one helpful practice in such times is reflection.

Often by looking back at a difficult experience I find peace. I see patterns and themes that weren’t apparent. Since I’m struggling a bit this morning, I thought this would be a good time to share my real-time reflections.

Perspective matters. Jesus perceived events from an eternal, kingdom perspective, and He calls us to seek that point of view.

Events appear much different when you’re immersed in them. It helps to remind myself that what’s happening right now is a small part of something much bigger.

Platitudes don’t help. I appreciate the desire to offer a quick-fix answer, but I’m not satisfied with simplistic explanations to complex, painful problems. I loved it when one of the wisest, most prayerful men I know said, “I don’t know exactly how God speaks to me, and I’m not sure I always hear Him very well.”

God provides. Often it’s from unexpected sources or in unanticipated times, but He always provides. His provision is often big-picture and far beyond what I would have thought to ask for.

Friends change everything. I tend to isolate myself when I’m struggling. I have many friends who push past the walls and gently-but-firmly keep me involved in the communities I so desperately need.

God will work this out for good. He’s done it in tougher circumstances than this, and He promises in Romans 8:28 to always cause everything to work together for good.

I want to get better at holding these assurances in my head—and my heart—in the middle of trials. I think reflection, reminding myself, is one way to practice.

What have you learned in a time of adversity?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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