Archive for the ‘New Beginning’ Category

The Year Before Our Eyes

Friday, January 6th, 2017

“As your days’ so shall your strength be.”
Deuteronomy 33:25


The year before our eyes may hold in its bosom, events which may deeply concern and affect us. We do not know what is to come. What personal trials, what family trials, what providential trials may await us – we do not know. Every year hitherto has brought its trials in its train; and how can we expect the coming year to be exempt?

Sickness may attack our bodies, death enter our families, difficulties beset our circumstances, trials and temptations exercise our minds, snares entangle our feet, and many dark and gloomy clouds, make our path one of heaviness and sorrow.

If, indeed, we are His, whatever our trials may be – His grace will be sufficient for us.

He who has delivered – can and will deliver.

And He who has brought us thus far on the road, who has so borne with our crooked manners in the wilderness and never yet forsaken us – though we have so often forsaken Him – will still lead us along; will still guide and guard us, and be our God, our Father and our Friend – not only to the end of the next year, if spared to see it, but the end of our life.

Blessed with His presence – we need fear no evil;
favored with His smile – we need dread no foe;
upheld by His power – we need shrink from no trial;
strengthened by His grace – we need panic at no suffering.

Knowing what we are and have been when left to ourselves – the slips that we have made, the snares that we have been entangled in, the shame and sorrow that we have procured to ourselves – well may we dread to go forth in the coming year alone. Well may we say,
“If Your Presence does not go with us do not send us up from here!” Exodus 33:15

J. C. Philpot
1802-1869

Time to Renew

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Have you ever just needed a fresh start, a clean slate? Ever wanted to start over?

One of the many amazing aspects of following Jesus is the reality of new beginnings. No matter where we’ve been, what mistakes we’ve made, God offers each moment as an opportunity to choose a different path.

Renew doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul. Sometimes it’s just an update, taking stock of where you’ve been and making necessary course corrections. Six months is a good time to assess, evaluate, and renew. I want to use this week to look at my goals for the year and see where I might need to change some tactics, and I want to use it as a time to renew my commitments to those goals.

How about you? What can you renew this week?

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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

5 Steps in Satan’s Plan to Defeat You

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Many people have many plans for your life. You likely have plans of your own. But have you ever stopped and thought about what the difference between God’s will and yours or the devil’ will would be for your life? I am going to talk about what the devil would have you do and believe. Open your heart because you are about to learn how to avoid Satan defeating you.

There are 5 steps in Satan’s plan to defeat you: doubt, discouragement, diversion, defeat and delay. One by one, they lead you down into a miry pit that you can only get out of by the hand of God who loves us and wants only the best for us. And I have no doubt in my mind that each one of us will go through this process once, maybe even more, times in our lives. After all, we are human and we are quite capable of falling. We are not infallible like God. Just read what the Bible says and be hopeful.

The first step in Satan’s plan to defeat you is DOUBT. Doubt makes you questions God’s Word and His goodness for and toward you. To doubt means to disbelieve and to mistrust. In this case it means to disbelieve God and to mistrust Him. And yet we have no reason for doing either with Him. He has never let His children down.

After doubt comes DISCOURAGEMENT. Discouragement makes you look at your problems instead of staying focused on God and His goodness in your life. Discouragement can easily be overcome, but for some it can lead to detrimental emotional problems like depression. We need to fight, through the power of prayer, this discouragement that Satan attacks us with. God would never do anything to cause us doubt or discouragement. So don’t let Satan get even a slippery grasp on your life. That’s all he needs to bring you spiraling down.

Discouragement will lead you to DIVERSION. This means that the wrong things in life suddenly become attractive and you crave them more than what is right. This is the dangerous step. Once you are into sinful patterns, it is hard to break them. The old saying says that Old habits die hard. Once something becomes a habit, it is very difficult to overcome and get out of.

Once Satan has you into his diversions, he then leads you to DEFEAT. This makes you feel like a failure. It can hurt so bad that some people give up on even trying to get out of a situation. Satan’s grasp is so strong that you just can’t bear to even try for anything good anymore. Defeat is not for God’s children. The victory is already won for the believer and if we just focus on the words “It is finished,” the battle is over, what a difference we would see in our churches.

And finally, once you feel you are defeated you are lead into DELAY. You put off doing something – usually something good so that it never gets done. In this case, you put off calling on God so your life never gets straightened around.

If you are feeling or experiencing ANY of the above 5 steps in your life, I suggest you call a/your pastor and get some spiritual guidance. Better to feel a little awkwardness now than to completely turn around the path to your eternity.

This battle plan that Satan has for all living persons was first set in motion with Adam and Eve. Satan placed doubt in Eve’s mind about what God had said. When she learned she could be like God, she was discouraged with what she had and wanted more. All of a sudden that tree and its fruit looked pretty good – she fell for the diversion. When Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, they felt shame and defeat. They knew Satan had gotten the better of them and they had saddened God’s heart. And when God did approach them, the delayed in answering because they knew what they had done was wrong. Rather than coming forward and saying sorry to God, they both made excuses, blaming someone or something else for their actions. This was the delay process.

And now, thanks to them, we all have to deal with these five steps. Some may have to go through all five of them in order to finally see the light. Some may only go through 1 or 2 or 3 before they realize what’s happening.

Don’t despair. God won’t leave you there. All you need to do is lift your eyes Heavenward and reach up with your hand and God will take it and lift you up, cleanse you and give you a brand new start.

We don’t need to stay stuck in the mire and mud of our sins. God knows we are human and He is fully willing to give us a helping hand. All we have to do is reach out and ask. Don’t let Satan get the victory because God has already won the entire spiritual war. Keep focused on the Lord in your heart and you won’t stumble into Satan’s battle ground.

By Sheri Liegh Adams, copyright Sheri Liegh Adams, all rights reserved

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A New Beginning

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 King James Version

Someone reminded me of a bad decision I made a few years ago.  For a few minutes, satan tried to discourage me and then God brought our Scripture verse to my mind.  This is why it is so important that we hide the Word of God in our hearts.  When we repent of our sins and ask God to forgive us and the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our hearts for the forgiveness of our sins, we have been forgiven.

We have a new life and a new beginning and when we say to God “Remember what I did several years ago?”  He will say to us “I don’t know what you’re talking about because I don’t remember that.”  Does this mean that God has a bad memory?  Of course not, it means that He makes a choice to forgive and forget and never hold it against us again.

May God help us to love others as He loves us.  We also need to make the choice to forgive people and then forget about it and never hold it against them again.  However, many times we harbor unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness in our hearts instead of letting it go.  I am so glad to know that when I fail God, and I do fail Him just like you do, He forgives me and forgets it.

Don’t let people put you under guilt because of something you did in the past.  If you asked God to forgive you, let it go.  It is important, however, that occasionally we think about our past just to remind us how far He has brought us.  Praise and thank Him for His mercy, grace, forgiveness and unconditional love for you. Thank Him for all He has done for you.

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

Resolutions and Priorities: Seeking and Finding

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I chuckled when I read an email from Barnes & Noble on January 3. It listed three diet books for the New Year at 20% or more off. On the news on TV, one of the newscasters talked about his new book on losing weight.

Some people need to lose weight for health reasons, but not everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.

Some friends told me they wouldn’t make a New Year’s resolution because they probably wouldn’t keep it after two or three weeks.

A lady in my exercise class said the first two or three weeks in January the exercise classes are packed. Then they go back to their normal size.

My New Year’s resolution is not based on diet and exercise. Instead it is based on Jeremiah 29:13. I want to seek the Lord with all my heart and find him. I pray that resolution will become stronger with each passing month.

My citizenship is in heaven, and I’m going to spend eternity with my heavenly Father. I might as well get to know him now.

How will I seek him and find him? I’ll spend more time in prayer and daily Bible study. I’ll review more Bible verses on a regular basis and join the women’s Bible study group that resumes this month.

Praise & worship will become a daily practice. As I work at the computer, that music will fill me with the presence and power of the Lord. I will sing to the LORD and praise him as long as I live.

Will you join me in 2017 to seek the Lord with all your heart?

Dear God, help me seek you with all my heart. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to seek and find the Lord?

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Copyright 2010-2012, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVCAll 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

Christmas and Recovery

Monday, December 19th, 2016

This is an important time of year for Christians and I think it is especially so for recovering people. Let us look at some scripture:

Matthew 1: 20-23
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The name JESUS means “God is salvation” or “Savior”; the one who saves people from their sins. Jesus is the Greek form of the Jewish name Joshua, and Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.”

Emmanuel means “God with us” or “God is with us.” Jesus Christ was given by God to us to rescue us from our unmanageable lives, to forgive our sins and to bind up our wounds.

William Barclay put it this way:

“Jesus was not so much The Man born to be King as The Man born
to be Saviour. He came to this world, not for his own sake, but for
men and for our salvation…..

“Jesus is the one person who can tell us what God is like, add what God means us to be. In him alone we see what God is and what man ought to be. Before Jesus came men had only vague and shadowy, and often quite wrong, ideas about God; they could only at best guess and grope; but Jesus could say, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).

In Jesus we see the love, the compassion, the mercy, the seeking heart, the purity of God as nowhere else in all this world. With the coming of Jesus the time of guessing is gone, and the time of certainty is come. Before Jesus came men did not really know what goodness was. In Jesus alone we see true manhood, true goodness, true obedience to the will of God. Jesus came to tell us the truth about God and the truth about ourselves.”

This Christmas season celebrate the birth of Christ in this world 2,000 years ago. Celebrate the fact that Jesus lives in you and through you each and every day. Celebrate your own rebirth by baptism of the Holy Spirit. And celebrate by sharing the love of God and the peace of Jesus with those around you.

~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S. O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and the author of the
Christians in Recovery Workbook & Meeting Guide
Christians in Recovery Devotional Journal
and editor of
Morning Exercises – Daily Devotional
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“Little Foxes” that do Great Harm

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

“Catch the foxes–the little foxes that spoil the vines.” Song of Songs 2:15

Solomon is very emphatic here. It is “the little foxes” which do the mischief. If the vines are injured, if the beautiful clusters are destroyed–he warns us that it is the little foxes which have crept in and have been the culprits.

I want to linger over this thought. I want every reader to lay to heart the importance of little things.

“Is it not a little one?” is the excuse of many a soul when entering upon a course that will be fatal to all peace and happiness.

Yes, it may look a little one, but for that very reason, be the more on your guard. A man’s life is made up of little things. “He who despises little things, shall fall little by little.”

A tiny hair has in some way found an entrance into the works of a watch. It touches one of the inner wheels, and so again and again the watch stops or goes irregularly. Much valuable time is in consequence lost, and only after its removal, does the watch prove useful to its owner.

A spark of fire has fallen upon some inflammable materials. It is but a spark at first, but it soon kindles into a flame. By-and-by through that one spark, a group of valuable warehouses is burned to the ground.

A small screw has not been carefully fastened in the boiler of an engine. For a time, no harm comes of it; but after a while, the defect loosens other parts of the machinery. An unlooked for catastrophe shortly afterwards occurs. The boiler explodes and spreads devastation and death far and wide. Many lives are lost, and valuable property is destroyed.

The tiny hair, the spark, the screw
–have often their counterpart in the Christian life. A permitted inconsistency stands in the way and hinders the working of the Savior’s love in the heart. A harsh word does a world of harm. A neglected duty brings evil to thousands.

Catch the foxes, yes, the little ones–let not one of them escape! If you would be secure, you must be determined to spare none–not even the very smallest!

Bear in mind “the little foxes” are especially dangerous, because they creep into the vineyard so secretly. They often get in unobserved. Even so, little sins and faults have a peculiar power to beguile the conscience. They often pass unchallenged. They make but little noise or show, and therefore they deceive the heart, and do their deadly work while we are unaware.

Bear in mind also, that little foxes will soon grow. Week by week, month by month, very insensibly to yourself–the little one is growing stronger and larger! The one you thought at first a mere plaything because it was so small–becomes an over-bearing tyrant!

Is not this true of every sin? It grows by use and habit. Its strength and power is constantly on the increase.

Secret sins are the forerunners of open and presumptuous sins.
If evil is cherished in the deep of the heart, if unholy desires are permitted to remain–soon may follow some terrible breach of the Divine law. Our safety is in watching against the first wrong step. We must not treat the smallest deviation from truth and righteousness lightly. If you once put your foot in the mire of sin–you will sink deeper and deeper!

The little foxes are dangerous, because they make a track for others to follow. A little thief may creep in at the window and open the door for those who are lurking near. So a little fox may lead the way for a troop of others to enter the vineyard. The path is easier to find. The hedge will be broken down, or the opening in the wall made larger; so that where at first there came but one, and that one a little one–by-and-by a whole tribe will be found, and the vineyard utterly laid waste!

So is it with sins. One makes way for another, and each one that goes before makes it easier for others to follow. There is a companionship in sins–you never find them alone. They always accompany one another.

A young man forsakes the House of God and the Bible Class, and regards Sundays as merely days for rest or pleasure. Very often the evil increases fast:
he takes up with bad company,
he then becomes loose in his talk,
he then finds his way to the drinking saloon,
then, perhaps, he gets into profligate habits, and
then acts dishonestly to supply means for his extravagance.
In this way, very often a young life is blighted and robbed of all its fair prospects, and perhaps the man ends his days in a prison or the poor house. In this and many similar ways, one sin is linked unto another–and wretchedness, poverty, shame, and temporal and eternal damnation, are their bitter fruit.

Look at the first sin that crept into our world. Truly it might seem to some to be a small matter–but it was the little fox that destroyed the tender grapes.
It begins with a look and a wish.
Eve sees the fruit and longs for it.
Then she gives ear to the Tempter.
She believes his lie, and doubts the truth and the goodness of God.
She touches, she takes, she tastes.
She persuades her husband to taste likewise.
Thus the evil spreads.
All the joys of paradise are forfeited.
The image of God in the soul is lost.
Briers and thorns spring up in the ground.
Sins and sorrows without end, spring up in the world.
One sin, as we might think a little one, has become a giant–and evil of every kind overspreads the face of the earth! The whole world groans beneath the violence, wickedness, and oppression that lie heavy upon it. And to this hour, the outcome of that sin is seen in the ten thousand times ten thousand forms of vice and wickedness which cover the earth, and fill mankind with untold misery and woe!

Therefore take good heed of little sins. Remember, sin grows, and grows fast! Watch against the beginnings of evil.

(George Everard, “Little Foxes, and How to Catch Them!” 1878)

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The Power of “Little” Habits

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Those habits which seem too weak to be felt–soon become too strong to be broken! They entwine themselves around the soul, and the coil proves fatal….
A painter once wanted a picture of innocence–and painted a child at prayer. The little suppliant was kneeling beside his mother, the palms of his uplifted hands were reverently pressed together, his rosy cheek spoke of health, and his mild blue eye was upturned with the expression of devotion and peace. The portrait of young Rupert was much prized by the painter, and was hung up on his study wall, and called ‘Innocence.’

Years passed away, and the painter became an old man; still the picture hung there. He had often thought of painting a contrast–the picture of guilt–but he had not found the appropriate subject. At last he effected his purpose by paying a visit to a neighboring jail.

On the damp floor of his cell lay a wretched culprit, named Randall, heavily shackled. Wasted was his body, and hollow his eye–vice was visible in his face. The painter succeeded in copying his features admirably, and the portraits of young Rupert and old Randall were hung up side by side, as ‘Innocence’ and ‘Guilt.’

But who were young Rupert–and old Randall? Alas! the two were one! Old Randall was young Rupert, led astray by his companions, and ending his life in this damp dungeon of the jail.

Beware of trifling with sinful habits. Satan lays his fatal snares for the unwary, adapts the bait–and the soul is taken captive by the devil!

Never open the door to a little vice, lest a great one should enter also!

Hide God’s Word in your heart, that you may not sin against Him. It will be a bulwark to shield you, and a guide to direct you.

If we would walk safely, we must check every approach to evil, and pray, “Hold me up–and I shall be safe!” Psalm 119:117

“Sow a thought–and you will reap an act;
sow an act–and you will reap a habit;
sow a habit–and you will reap a character;
sow character–and you will reap a destiny!”

“As the tree falls–so must it lie;
As the man lives–so must he die!
As a man dies–such must he be;
All through the ages of eternity!”

(author unknown)

The Absolute Awesomeness

Monday, November 21st, 2016

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses (Psalm 33:6-7, NKJV).


I’ve been meditating a lot lately on the absolute awesomeness of God, and the verses above capture that so clearly, don’t they? We serve a God who spoke the heavens into existence, breathed the stars into the skies, gathers the waters into their assigned boundaries, and locks the depths of the oceans into reservoirs. No matter how you look at it, that’s impressive!

Knowing this, what is our response to be? According to verse 8 of Psalm 33, all the inhabitants of the earth are to “fear the Lord” and “stand in awe of Him.” But is that what usually happens? Sometimes. More often than not, however, the “inhabitants of the earth” pay little if any attention to this awesome God and, instead, worship His creation.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the oceans and the mountains, the trees and flowers, the birds and fish and animals. But they are all creations, masterfully crafted by the One who also breathed life into the dust of the earth and formed man. Is it any wonder He holds our lives in His hands? Shouldn’t the very thought make us tremble, even as we rejoice that He is merciful and loving?

As we move into a season of Thanksgiving and then celebration of Christ’s coming to earth as a Babe in a manger, may we appreciate all of God’s creations—but may we worship only Him. May we, as the psalmist declared, “fear the Lord” and “stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8, NKJV). There is nothing that can put our own lives in perspective quicker or clearer than recognizing the awesomeness of God.

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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

What About That Setback?

Friday, November 18th, 2016

bumpA friend experienced a setback.

A “speed bump” is how he described it. I’d say it was more like a major detour, but either way, things aren’t exactly going his way right now. This is a guy who’s had his share of struggle along the road, and things were starting to look a bit brighter. This particular speed bump wasn’t part of the plan.

So what do you say? What’s useful, helpful, to someone in a circumstance like this?

First, let’s hold off on the Christian one-liners. It’s God’s plan. Everything happens for a reason. God will use this for good. Even if you believe something like this, it’s simply not helpful to toss a simplistic conclusion into a complex, painful situation. Mostly these are designed to make the speaker feel better; they’re not going to help someone who’s already experiencing confusion and doubt. Let go of your need to offer an easy answer that likely doesn’t exist.

It’s okay to feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Following Jesus doesn’t mean pasting a permanent fake smile on your face. When you acknowledge and accept your feelings, you don’t have to be controlled by them.

Want to help? Offer a safe space for her to express these perfectly normal emotions.

Hope is a decision, not a feeling. Hope is confidence in the future based on faith that God keeps His promises. It’s possible to choose hope and feel hopeless…I don’t know how that works, but I’ve been there. You can decide to choose hope, and hold on no matter how you feel.

Want to help? Continue to talk about hope while showing you understand how hopeless it feels.

You are not your circumstances. I am not a wheelchair. My friend is not his “setback.” That’s not how God sees us. We’re defined by how He sees us through Jesus.

Want to help? Show (don’t tell) him that he’s valued as a person beyond his circumstances. The show part is, by the way, hard.

God is long-term. Hope is long-term. Love is long-term. Most of the stuff we focus on…isn’t.

Want to help? Hang around long-term. Do long-term stuff, the things most others won’t do because it’s frustrating and they don’t see results and often they’re not even appreciated.

Hang around when the short-term folks lose patience. Don’t judge them.

That’s what Jesus does.

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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright 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