Archive for January, 2013

Are You Weary? He will Keep Your Feet.

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

He will keep the feet of his saints. (1 Samuel 2:9)

The way is slippery and our feet are feeble, but the Lord will keep our feet. If we give ourselves up by obedient faith to be His holy ones, He will Himself be our guardian. Not only will He charge His angels to keep us, but He Himself will preserve our goings.

He will keep our feet from falling so that we do not defile our garments, wound our souls, and cause the enemy to blaspheme.

He will keep our feet from wandering so that we do not go into paths of error, or ways of folly, or courses of the world’s custom.

He will keep our feet from swelling through weariness, or blistering because of the roughness and length of the way.

He will keep our feet from wounding: our shoes shall be iron and brass so that even though we tread on the edge of the sword, or on deadly serpents, we shall not bleed or be poisoned.

He will also pluck our feet out of the net. We shall not be entangled by the deceit of our malicious and crafty foes.
With such a promise as this, let us run without weariness and walk without fear. He who keeps our feet will do it effectually.

~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Almighty Guidance

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go; I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8

No more precious assurance can I have, than this: that I am under the constant, loving guidance of my heavenly Father–that He appoints the bounds of my habitation, and overrules all events for my good–that my whole life is a plan arranged by Him! Every apparent little contingency, as well as every momentous turn and crisis-hour–forms part of that plan! “A man’s heart devises his way–but the Lord directs his steps.”

“I will instruct you and teach you.” How patiently does this almighty Preceptor train, and with what infinite wisdom and tenderness does He adapt His varied teachings to the needs and requirements of His people! It is “line upon line;” or if need be–cross upon cross, trial upon trial. Or it may be that startling providences are no longer required–the gentle indications of His will are enough, “I will guide you with My eye.” The earthquake–the hurricane–the wind–the fire, may now have fulfilled their mission. “The still, small voice” is now sufficient.

And HOW does He promise to teach and to guide? Not in the way that we would like to go–not in the way of our own choosing–but “the way which you shall go.” Often we would decide on pursuing the sunny highway. But God says, ‘the rough mountain-track is best for you!’ Often we would, like Israel, take the near and smooth road to Canaan. But God’s pillar-cloud decides otherwise, and takes us by a circuitous route “by the way of the wilderness.” Often we would prefer, like the disciples at sea of Tiberias, the safe path by the seashore, so as to avoid the gathering storm, “for the wind is contrary.” But God says, “No!” He constrains us to get into the boat!

“He led them by the right path–to go to a city where they could live!” It is not for us to question His plans. He led His people of old–He leads them still–by the right path. There is a day coming–when we shall own the wisdom of every earthly lesson, the “needs-be” of every wave in the troubled sea!

The gardener has occasionally to subject his plants to apparently rough treatment–cutting, lopping, mutilating; reducing them to unsightly shapes–before they burst into flower. Summer, however, before long, vindicates the wisdom of his treatment, in its clusters of varied fragrance and beauty. So also, at times, does our heavenly Gardener see fit to use His pruning-knife! But be assured that there is not one superfluous or redundant lopping. We shall understand and acknowledge an infinitely wise necessity for all–when the plant has unfolded itself into the full flower, bathed in the tints and diffusing the fragrance of Heaven.

Believer, go up and on your way–rejoicing in the teaching and guidance of unerring Wisdom! “I will guide you with My eye.” The sleepless eye of Israel’s un-slumbering Shepherd is upon you by day and by night–in sickness and in health–in joy and in sorrow–in life and in death!

“The Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love.”

~ John MacDuff, “THE THOUGHTS OF GOD

What are Your Heart, Mind, and Motives?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

1 Chronicles 28:9: “Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive.”

What’s the temperature of your devotion to God? Do you go to church on Sunday because that’s what “nice people” do or because it’s good for your business? Do you fall asleep when you listen to the minister’s sermon? One woman told me she listens better with her eyes shut. She confirmed my doubts when her head slid toward my shoulder and she snored. How often do you pray or read the Bible? Have you forsaken your first love?

Do you serve only by showing up or with a willing mind? Someone once told me he helps in Sunday school, but Christians are a bunch of hypocrites. He also said not a single Christian is fun to be with. One middle-aged man bought a Bible and went faithfully to church while he was engaged to a Christian woman. Once they married, he forgot about his Bible and stopped going to church. Her unequally yoked dating turned into an unequally yoked marriage.

This Scripture says, “The LORD searches every heart.” There are no exceptions. He searches every heart, because he knows, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Every day we face the battlefield. The devil would like to destroy our devotion to God and turn our hearts toward the ways of the world. I find it helpful to tell God each day that I give him my heart and my mind and do so willingly.

Today’s verse also says “the LORD understands every motive.” We may be able to fool our spouses, friends, and neighbors, but we can’t fool God. We may be able to deceive our pastor and our boss, but we can’t deceive God.

Dear God, help me serve you with wholehearted devotion and a willing mind. Amen.

Application: What will God find when he searches your heart this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2013, 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.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

What Are You Afraid Of?

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

In about a month I’m going to ride a stretch of road known as “alligator alley” during week three of Florida Hope Tour 2013.

A number of friends have visited the area. Mostly I’m told it’s beautiful, interesting, and peaceful. They describe gorgeous scenery filled with abundant wildlife and unusual birds and plants.

Then there are the kind folks who remind me of oversized pythons and the ever-present threat of gators lurking beside the road. I’ve been having fun with the whole alligator thing, but I’m assured the likelihood of an encounter is really quite small. I’m probably in more danger from cars on the road than animals beside it.

However, I could easily allow the possibilities, the what-if’s, the fears, to block the trail.

A few days ago I wrote over at the Rich’s Ride blog (What’s The Obstacle?) about what gets in the way of pursuing our dreams. I’m convinced that, if we look deep enough, most of the obstacles are rooted in fear.

A dream is the God-inspired desire to share your unique gifts and passions to serve others and change the world.

Perhaps you recall my friend Dick Foth’s phrase based on Jesus’ walking on the water in Matthew 14. TAKECOURAGEIAMDON’TBEAFRAID. (You can read the background in New Words.)

I make excuses…there’s not enough time or money. Nobody will listen. The task’s too big for me.

How about you…what can you add to the list?

And as I record my excuses I hear Jesus saying something like this: “I gave you this dream. I gave you the desire, the abilities, and the passions. You need to bring one thing…faith. You need to believe. You need to be all-in.

“Peter sank because he doubted. He thought he had to do it himself, and he knew he couldn’t. You can’t, either. But you don’t have to.”

I hear Jesus’ words, and I look at my list. The excuses, the doubts…they’re really all about fear. I’m afraid to take the first step, afraid to trust, afraid of what might happen if it isn’t all planned out before I begin.

God usually doesn’t show me the whole path. He often reveals the second step only after I take the first. The world says that’s an irresponsible way to operate. You’re supposed to have a business plan, a line of credit, and a viable track record before you begin.

That’s not how God operates. I don’t get it, but apparently I’m not supposed to get it. I guess that’s why it’s called “faith.” It’s hard, and it’s scary.

TAKECOURAGEIAMDON’TBEAFRAID.

Have You Gotten to the end of Yourself? Really?

Friday, January 25th, 2013

A Sunday school class we visited this weekend got me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…

END


If you’ve hung around the bible at all, you’ve heard of The Beatitudes. (Matthew 5:3-11) It’s always good to hear familiar verses phrased in new ways.

The first of The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3) says:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The pastor paraphrased it like this:

Want to get rich, or famous, or powerful? You can do that stuff by yourself.

When you get to the end of yourself, when you’re done relying on you, when you’re at the end of your rope, when you’re ready to rely on Me…you get the Kingdom.

I spent a big part of the afternoon driving, thinking about the phrase: when you get to the end of yourself.

I don’t like to admit it, but I don’t think I’m at the end of myself yet. I still cling to the illusion that I can control things. I want to be in charge.

Got some letting go to do.

How about you?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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

What Do You Cling to?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Psalm 63:8: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

“Has the hospital called you to make an appointment?” the receptionist from the local women’s clinic asked me over the phone.

My heart beat faster. My hands became clammy. “No, why should they?”

“Your mammogram wasn’t clear, and we want the hospital to repeat the procedure.” She paused for a second. “Call today for an appointment.”

That’s not a message a cancer survivor wants to hear. I wiped away the tears and prayed for mercy and God’s strength, I thought of Psalm 63, especially verse 8. I couldn’t think of anything or anyone I’d rather cling to than God himself. I felt weak and wanted God’s right hand to uphold me.

We will face crises or difficulties in life. What do we do when they come? When I spoke at a conference recently, I asked the women how they handle life’s stresses.

One woman told me she chews her fingernails and showed me her mutilated nails. Another said she ate chocolate, especially the dark kind, because it was good for her. However, she admitted she needed to lose weight.

An embarrassed woman confessed privately that she reverted to smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Still another talked about shopping sprees.

A lady in excellent shape said she would exercise twice a day for two or three hours when she felt overcome with fear or worry.

If we are honest, many of us can identify a comfort food or some excess to handle or avoid life’s challenges. Our weak human nature attempts to come up with its own solution.

God longs for us to turn to him with our problems. He wants to uphold us.

 Dear God, help me cling to you. Amen.

 Application:  In what situation will you allow the Lord to uphold you this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2012, 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.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Do You See People as Indiviuals or as Categories?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

My friend Dick Foth has a way with phrases. Recently he described a spiritual ailment called “hardening of the categories (HTC).”

Those afflicted with this disease lose the ability to see individuals. Instead, they see people only in terms of their categories. It’s like the physical disease in which hardening of the arteries narrows the passageways and decreases flexibility. Those with HTC lose the ability to think flexibly. They become narrow minded.

You know what I mean. The guy with the dirty clothes and long hair, standing on the corner with a sign…when you get HTC you see a type of person, and you automatically know what they’re like because that’s just how those people are.

In Jesus’ day everybody knew about Samaritans and tax collectors. You didn’t have to bother knowing the person. His category was all that mattered.

HTC is a disease of convenience. The girl with all the tattoos is troubled and needs guidance. The guy in the wheelchair needs help or pity. The well-dressed lady is smart and has a lot to offer. Life’s a lot easier when you don’t have to bother with back stories.

I suspect we all have a bit of HTC. We all have some blind spots, pigeonholes into which we place certain classes of people. We need to ask Jesus to show us the places where we see groups rather than individuals.

Perhaps it’s appearance, political persuasion, culture, race, or …

What are your HTC areas?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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

Jesus Likes Me?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Don Miller wrote a penetrating reflection about how his faith has evolved in the past decade or so.

I paused a long time over one simple heading:

Jesus likes me

I believe Jesus loves me. It’s in the words of the simplest children’s song.

Jesus loves me
This I know
For the bible
Tells me so

Jesus loves everyone. That’s who He is.

But I have to admit…it’s hard not to smile when I allow myself to consider that Jesus actually likes me.

I think He likes you, too.

If Someone is “Right” is it OK to Nuke Others?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

By nearly any definition, Aaron Swartz was a computer prodigy, a brilliant, eccentric young man. As a teenager he created some of the backbone Internet systems we take for granted and later campaigned for online transparency and freedom. You can read briefly about his life, legal issues, and tragic suicide here.

Like most folks with a cause, Swartz pushed boundaries and irritated powerful people. Eventually the government indicted him and threatened more than thirty years in prison.

We could debate the seriousness of his crimes—this article indicates that even his “victim” agreed that his principle outweighed any minor harm—but that’s not the point. In that same article, Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig makes a powerful observation:

“We need to get beyond the ‘I’m right so I’m right to nuke you’ ethics that dominates our time.” (emphasis mine)

Somehow, we’ve got to rise above the notion that my rights, or even being right, are transcendent.

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

Jesus died for my freedom. My rights, my liberty, don’t originate from a man-made constitution. They’re absolute, purchased at the cross. I am totally free, but…

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Jesus didn’t die for my rights. He died for what’s right.

Not always the same.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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

Everlasting Peace… No Matter What

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee’ (Isaiah 54:10).

One of the most delightful qualities of divine love is its abiding character. The pillars of the earth may be moved out of their places, but the kindness and the covenant of our merciful Jehovah never depart from his people.

… the years of my life are growing few, but time does not change my Lord. New lamps are taking the place of the old, perpetual change is on all things; but our Lord is the same. Force overturns the hills, but no conceivable power can affect the eternal God. Nothing in the past, the present, or the future can cause Jehovah to be unkind to me.

My soul, rests in the eternal kindness of the Lord, who treats you as one near of kin. Remember also the everlasting covenant. God is ever mindful of, see that you are mindful of it too. ln Christ Jesus the glorious God has pledged himself to you to be your God, and to hold you as one of his people. Kindness and covenant dwell on these words as sure and lasting things which eternity itself shall not take from you.

~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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