Archive for June, 2013

Don’t Give Up!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Isaiah 57:18: “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners.”

When I talked with a woman at a retreat and prayed with her, she admitted feelings of sadness and desperation about her marriage and her family.

I encouraged her to pray daily, to memorize Isaiah 57:18 and pray it aloud to God several times a day.

Memories of the past surfaced. I told her and the other women how I had prayed this verse hundreds of times after my son turned away from the Lord. I also told them how I wrote this verse on sticky notes and posted them on the bathroom mirror, the kitchen cupboard, my desk, and the dashboard of my car.

My son returned to the Lord and called me tell me. This good news encouraged that woman at the retreat to continue to pray for her husband and family. It also encouraged the others at the retreat to pray for their needs.

The woman signed up for my weekly devotion in motion and has kept in touch with me via email, as some of the others have.

After some time, she joyfully told me how God had transformed her marriage. Yes, there is power in the Word of God.

Then that woman bubbled over with excitement as she told me about the miracles in the lives of her children. We were both ecstatic.

God knows our circumstances. He promises to heal and restore. In his time and in his way, God will answer our prayers and comfort us, the mourners.

 Dear God, help me pray Isaiah 57:18 for me and my family. Amen.

 Application: Where will you post this verse in your home this week and how often will you pray it for you and your family?

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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

Got Any Buried Secrets?

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Last weekend our pastor talked about an incident from the early life of Moses.

As usual, I got trapped on one particular thought and probably missed the whole point of the message.

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” (Exodus 2:11-14)

Have you ever had a secret, something you weren’t proud of and tried to hide? I have. It messes up every part of your life.

Moses had a skeleton buried in the sand. He was careful. He thought nobody knew, because he “looked this way and that” and was sure no one saw his sin.

Maybe they knew, maybe not—didn’t matter, because when someone questioned his integrity, guilt and anxiety overwhelmed him. Moses couldn’t stand up to criticism because he was afraid he’d been discovered.

Recently a Roman Catholic friend told me he was trying to find a way back to the church. He recounted a conversation in which a priest told him the only solution was to confess and do penance for all his sins from the past couple of decades. My friend left that discussion convinced there was no hope. He couldn’t possibly deal with the guilt and regret of so many sins from so many years.

I think he, and maybe the priest, missed the point. God doesn’t want us to relive and feel guilty for our mistakes. We’re already doing that in a never ending cycle of fear and guilt, hiding and wondering when someone will find out. He wants us to confess so we can accept the forgiveness available through faith in Jesus. It’s not about punishment and guilt. It’s about moving forward in freedom.

If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:15b-16)

The whole point of confession is healing, removing the burden of hiding the secret and wondering who knows. Confession allows me to stand in the light rather than skulking in the shadows.

Because of the guilt, doubt, and fear created by his secret in the sand, Moses lost his ability to advocate for justice. Even though he was right, he couldn’t stand before the penetrating question of a Hebrew slave.

We’ve been focusing on this verse as we prepare for our upcoming bike tour.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

We want to seek justice, defend the oppressed, etc. We hope to use the ride as a platform from which to create awareness and encourage people to become engaged in resisting the horrible injustice of human trafficking.

If I want to advocate for justice, I guess I need to make sure I don’t have any secrets buried in the sand.

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Copyright 2008-2013 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

You are His – Now and Forever

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

“Behold! I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!”  Isaiah 49:16

“Behold,” says Immutable One, “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!”
Not on the mountains, as colossal as they are–for they shall depart;
on no page of nature’s vast volume–for the last fires shall scorch them;
not on blazing sun–for he shall grow dim with age;
not on glorious heavens–for they shall be folded together as a scroll.
But on . . .
the hands of might and love
,
the hands which made the worlds,
the hands which were transfixed on Calvary,
–I have engraved you there!

No corroding power can efface the writing, or obliterate your name!

You are Mine now–and Mine forever!

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
no one can snatch them out of My hand!” John 10:28

~ John MacDuff

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Do You Trust yet have a Backup Plan?

Friday, June 7th, 2013

childrens sermonEverybody knows the story of Jesus calling the children to Him. It’s one of our favorite images, an infinitely calm, patient Jesus surrounded by squirmy kids in an idyllic children’s sermon.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:16)

But there’s a piece of this verse I tend to brush aside—the part about the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Those little children were dependent and trusting. They assumed their needs would be met. They didn’t have a Plan B if the adults in their lives failed to come through.

Jesus says folks with these attitudes inherit the kingdom of God. I’d rather skip that part.

See, I don’t want to be quite that dependent. I trust God completely, but I want a backup plan in case things don’t quite work out like I planned. I believe He’s in control, but I want to know I can pick up the pieces if it begins to fall apart.

If I’m honest, everything about my behavior as a follower of Jesus seems to end with “…but…”

I’ve been to that place of complete dependence, the place where I knew I needed a God bigger than me because nothing I could do would ever fix the mess I’d created. It’s the story of Relentless Grace. I trusted God because I had no other choice, and He came through.

You’d think that would be enough. You’d think the son who rebelled, crawled home, and was welcomed with the open arms of grace wouldn’t turn into the hard-hearted older son. But…

I wish I had an answer. I wish I could say I’ll stop hedging my bets. I wish one part of me didn’t trust God while another makes a god of my own feeble capabilities.

I get really frustrated about my inability to do what I know is right. Sometimes I think about giving up. Then I picture an infinitely calm, patient Jesus putting His arm around me.

“Don’t quit, Rich. We’ll get there together.”

THAT’S my backup plan.

Do You Just Hear about God? or Do You See Him with the Eyes of Your Heart?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5, NKJV).

Lately I’ve been singing that chorus about asking God to open the eyes of my heart so I can see Him. Isn’t that what happened to Job?

In the above verse we see a humbled and chastised Job who, after losing everything and bemoaning his fate because he believed he had done nothing to deserve such misery, has now come face to face with the living God. As a result, his entire perspective has changed.

Like Job, nearly everyone has at least heard of God. However, unlike Job who clung to his belief in God regardless of his circumstances, the majority of people who hear of God choose not to believe in or trust Him. How different their reaction might be if the eyes of their heart were opened and they could actually see Him!

I’ve heard people say, “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask God why He allowed this or that to happen.” Really? I don’t think so. First of all, when we arrive in heaven it won’t be because of anything good we’ve done, but rather because Jesus paid the price of our admission and we humbly accepted His gift. Second, when we finally lay eyes on the God of the universe, the One who spoke it all into creation, I believe we will be too awestruck to say anything, except maybe, “Holy, holy, holy!” And that, of course, is the point. All else will be swept away when we behold His glory; nothing else will matter as we bask in His unearned, unconditional love.

I want to be like Job, don’t you? I don’t want to just hear about God; I want to SEE Him with the eyes of my heart. And I want others to do the same. Open the eyes of our heart, Lord, that many might see You!

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Copyright 2009-2013 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”

“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

Deliver Me From Evil, (finalist for the Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year Award) and Special Delivery.
No Greater Love, More than Conquerors

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

Are You Going Or Talking About Going?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

I’ve been thinking lately about engagement.

My thought—an awful lot of what we call following Jesus is really talking about following Jesus. I think following might have to involve some sort of engagement.

I think Satan would like nothing more than for us to spend a lot of time discussing Jesus. He’d be pleased if we devoted ourselves to learning about Jesus, studying His teaching, and knowing every detail about His life.

Our enemy would encourage religious leaders who make themselves celebrities. He’d be excited about large church bureaucracies, rigid policies, and divisive doctrinal statements—especially if lots of time, energy, and money were spent crafting, re-working, and maintaining them.

I think he’d delighted by anything that looks religious without actually engaging with people and their pain.

In Exodus 3, God addresses Moses from a flaming shrub. After a quick introduction, God briefly explains His plan. Then He says, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10 NIV)

So now, go.

That’s it. No college degree or internship, no time to make an action plan or pull together a support staff. No building, no office, no organization.

These people need help. You’re my guy. So now…GO!

God didn’t want Moses to learn about the problem, study it from a safe distance, and train some missions experts he could send a few years later. He didn’t want concern or charity or even a prayer chain.

He wanted engagement. He wanted Moses to actually go somewhere and do something.

Several centuries later, Jesus showed up. He could have opened His own university to train disciples. Imagine the coursework He might have offered! Instead, He said, “Follow me.”

Come with me. Watch. Do what I do.

After He hung out with them for a few short years, it was time to leave. His final words to His friends:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19)

I think I have a new phrase for my bathroom mirror.

So now… GO!

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Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 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 are You Learning on the Bike Trail of Life?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

There are unexpected depths in human beings, and abilities beyond the world’s imagining. We all ride the same road, and if we ride it together, we can get where we want to go.  ~Charles Kuralt

You can learn a lot on a bike trail.

The way the other folks choose to travel mostly doesn’t impact your ride. If you work hard and make good decisions, things generally go pretty well.

Sharing the trail means occasionally yielding or slowing down. Crashes happen if everyone insists on always getting their own way.

A skinned knee is a big price to pay for being right.

Sometimes you encounter a problem. When that happens, it’s nice to have other folks stop and help. Remember that when you see someone else struggling.

Diversity is part of the attraction of the trail. If everyone rode the same bike or walked the same speed it wouldn’t be as interesting.

There’s not much point in telling others how they should ride, unless they ask.

Just because someone else travels differently doesn’t make them, or you, wrong. There are lots of ways to move along the trail.

It doesn’t make much sense to compare. There’s no such thing as “best” or even “normal.” Everyone’s got their own reason for being there. Some are working out, some are socializing, and some are just enjoying the scenery.

Kids—and those who act like kids—seem to have the most fun. There must be something to learn from that.

Old or young, fast or slow, bike, rollerblade, walk, or wheelchair, we all travel the same road.

Things might be smoother if we learned to appreciate the folks with whom we share the trail.

When Jesus called little children to Him, he didn’t say only rich children, or children with two-parent families, or children who didn’t have a mental or physical handicap.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:16)

What’s your observation about the diversity you encounter on the trail?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 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

Immediate and Complete Freedom

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. (Nahum 1:13)

The Assyrian was allowed for a season to oppress the Lord’s people, but a time came for his power to be broken. Like this, many held in bondage by Satan have painfully worried under his yoke. May the word of the Lord resonate according to the text, “Now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder!”

See! The Lord promises a present deliverance. “Now will I break his yoke from off you.” Believe for immediate freedom, and according to your faith so shall it be unto you at this very hour. When God says “now,” let no man say “tomorrow.”

See how complete the rescue is to be; for the yoke is not to be removed but broken; and the bonds are not to be untied but burst asunder. Here is a display of divine force which guarantees that the oppressor shall not return. His yoke is broken, we cannot be bowed down by its weight again. His bonds, are burst asunder, they can no longer hold us. Believe in Jesus for complete and everlasting emancipation! “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” Come, Lord, and set free Your captives, according to Your Word.

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook” {adapted}

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