Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Are You Afraid To Listen?

Friday, August 8th, 2014

facing fearThe guy at the retreat answered a question about fear in a brutally honest manner. “I’m afraid if I really listen to God, He might tell me to do something I don’t really want to do.”

Lots of folks grumble that God never speaks to them. What if the real problem is that we’re afraid to listen? What if we intentionally keep God at a distance to avoid disrupting our self-created illusion of security?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send?
And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I.
Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

Most of the guys around the fire that night agreed. We seek to serve—when it’s convenient, when it fits into the schedule. We’d love to serve or do a mission trip, but that vacation gets in the way. We want to finish well—but we need to guard the 401(k).

What if we want to follow—on our terms?

What if we’re not-so-secretly afraid that Jesus was serious when He said, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

What if our efforts to follow Jesus in a safe, sanitary manner actually cause us to avoid God because we’re afraid of what He might say?

Are you ever afraid God might ask you to do something you don’t want to do or give up something you really want to hang on to? What are those times/things for you?

What are some of the excuses we use for not listening?

How do you know if it’s God’s voice or your own wishes?

Often we think of “being sent” in terms of big stuff like going to Africa (or doing a bike tour). What are some more everyday circumstances where God might send us if we’d listen a bit more closely?

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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

Do You Believe God Will Hear You?

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Micah 7:7: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

“Oh my God,” I whispered and then sobbed as I looked at the crypt with my son’s name on it. It had been two and a half years since my last visit to San Diego.

I stood alone as the sun shone over the military cemetery, and the breeze blew through my hair. Such a beautiful day, and yet my heart ached to see my son. I placed a patriotic red, white, and blue arrangement of flowers in a wheelbarrow at the foot of the crypt and took pictures of it.

“God, I’ve asked you before and I’m asking you again, don’t let my son’s death be in vain. Use it for good in my life and the lives of others. Let it be for your honor and glory and for furthering your kingdom here on earth.”

“I [watched] in hope for the LORD” and said, “My God will hear me.” I sensed God’s presence and comfort. God reminded me of how he has answered that prayer in the past and assured me he will continue to do so.

That day and for the next few days of my San Diego visit, God allowed me to minister to others. I understood their pain because of the pain I have had. My God did hear me.

What about you? Do you believe God will hear you? How often do you watch in hope for him?

Dear God, help me watch in hope for you. Amen.

Application: When will you wait for God to hear you?

Copyright © by Yvonne Ortega July 7, 2014

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Does Your Worship Matter?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

On our recent tour, our teammate Doug was fond of the greeting “Gloria a Dios” (glory to God).

Even when he received a nasty gash on his leg from a stray piece of glass in a trash bag, he limped to our starting circle with a hearty Gloria a Dios.

I thought it was a great alternative to “How ya doing?” I liked being reminded of our shared commitment, but I found myself asking what might seem like an odd question.

Why should God care whether we glorify Him or not?

I don’t intend to be disrespectful. Quite the opposite—He’s God. Why does it matter to Him whether I even acknowledge Him, much less offer Him the glory for my meager efforts?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

This isn’t a new question for me. I suspect it bubbles to the surface when I’m feeling especially vulnerable or uncomfortable. I suppose a diminished sense of self-worth leads to the notion that my worship won’t matter to God.

Ever been there?

It’s a lie, of course, but I think I get the reasoning twisted around. Maybe you do as well.

It’s certainly true that God doesn’t need me to give Him glory. In fact, He doesn’t need anything from me, you, or anyone else. He’s God.

So why does it matter? The secret is in the second paragraph above—“I liked being reminded…”

Gloria a Dios isn’t for God’s benefit, it’s for mine. Each time Doug repeated the greeting I remembered my connection to the Creator, my dependence on Him. I remembered that the ride was about justice, and that we were letting God use us to set things right for a handful of kids.

God doesn’t need me to glorify Him, but He knows I’m more at peace, more aware, more grounded, when I do.

In the midst of a hectic week when it was so easy to lose focus, Doug’s greeting took me home. I’m grateful.

Gloria a Dios indeed!

Copyright by Rich Dixon. All rights reserved.

Where Does Your Praise Go?

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Isaiah 42:8: “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”

“I don’t take God’s glory, do I?” I sat in silence and pondered that question.

God’s answer surprised me. He reminded me that any talents or gifts I have come from him. I needed to acknowledge that more often. I expressed my sorrow and determined to do so. What about you?

Would I pass the test on my next question? “I don’t give your glory to another or your praise to idols, do I, God?” I waited for his answer in silence.

Once again God showed me I did. My admiration for others’ gifts and talents sometimes exceeded my praise for God.

I sensed God ask me a couple of questions: Have you made idols out of other people or activities? Do you think or act as if you can’t survive without them?

Guilty again. I couldn’t deny my sins. I needed to repent and change my ways.

It is easy to make idols out of money, relationships, sports, clothes, food, hobbies, exercise, or self-righteousness—feeling or acting too proud of or self-satisfied with one’s own moral behavior or beliefs to the point of annoying other people.

How will you answer these questions? What are God’s answers to you about them?

Dear God, I’m sorry for the times I’ve taken your glory for myself. Amen.

Application:~ b> What will you do today to praise God instead of idols?

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Copyright by 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 Your *Real* Motives for Prayer?

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

After reading a daily devotional from Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost for His Highest” I have come to ask myself some important questions.

Spiritual lust causes me to demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Himself who gives the answer.

What is my motive for prayer?

Do I pray because I want something from God?

Or because I desire to draw closer to Him and have the Truth revealed to me?

Am I praying because I long to be in His will, crave to learn what He has to say (His truths)?

What is more important to me:
What I am saying and wanting?
Or what He has to say and His desires?

Is my prayer about my will or His will?

When praying, what am I hoping or trusting God will do?

That is a burning question I really should ask myself every time I pray. Just exactly WHY am I praying?

What are my motives? What am I expecting to get out of my time of prayer?

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~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S.O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and Alcoholics Victorious

Who’s in Charge?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

  Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

“I hope I can go to the conference,” I told my friend on the phone. “I’ll ask for vacation time.”

After we hung up, I faced a decision. I could stay up most of the night and worry. Another option would be to pray to the Lord for favor and ask a prayer partner to pray with me.

I’ve done both in the past, and I know worry and sleepless nights solve nothing. When you’ve wanted something, what have you done?

I prayed that God would allow me to go and called one of my prayer partners.

She said, “[Your boss’] heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.’”

She prayed and incorporated this Bible verse in her prayer.

That was all I needed to hear. I felt sure God wanted me to attend the conference. Peace came over me, and I thanked my friend for her Scriptural prayer.

After that call, I pulled out a suitcase to pack for the trip.

Sometimes we forget the Lord is in charge. I’m thankful for a prayer partner who reminds me as she prays the Word of God.

Dear God, help me remember you are in charge. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to remind yourself that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD”?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright , Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVCBY
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 If Scripture Is A Participation Sport?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

god talkHave you ever questioned an expert’s version of “what the bible says”?

Yesterday I compared church to a football game: a lot of people who desperately need exercise sit around and watch a small group of people who desperately need rest.

We’re especially in that mode when it comes to interpreting scripture. We often accept without question or research some expert’s spoon-fed scripture interpretation.

I decided a while ago to be responsible for my own theology. For me, here’s what that means.

I know several pastors from a variety of backgrounds. They all love Jesus, and if they gathered in a room they’d agree on many theological principles: the trinity, we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus, we’re called to love our neighbor, and lots of other stuff.

For me, those are the core principles, those on which virtually all followers of Jesus concur. They’re the “majors,” the principles that define what it means to follow Jesus.

My friends would also disagree on some issues. Honest, prayerful scholarship can lead people of faith and good will to different conclusions on certain matters. When I’ve discussed these points, my friends frequently (not always) say things like “here’s the best conclusion I can reach right now” or “this is how it seems to me at this point.”

To me these are important but less essential issues. They’re the “minors.” They do not in any way separate me from other followers of Jesus. And since my pastor friends disagree, it’s my job to either let these issues go or figure out where I stand.

I want to major in the majors and minor in the minors. In the words of Augustine:

In the essentials, unity.
In the non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, charity.

You and I can disagree about a particular issue, even if we both believe the bible and love Jesus. In the context of a relationship we can discuss and learn without arguing, but no positive purpose is served by name-calling or labeling. Disagreement doesn’t make either of us wrong.

We’ve seen recently (in the World Vision fiasco) the devastation and division that results when one side of an issue is labeled “bible-believing.” Whenever you see two people who seem to love Jesus and hold different views, I challenge you to transform scripture interpretation into a participation sport.

Instead of accepting what you’ve always heard, do some research on other perspectives. Don’t read opinions, but find responsible scholarship that looks at biblical interpretation at deeper levels. Remember that scripture is God-inspired, but understanding scripture is an imperfect human activity. Beware of anyone—not named Jesus—who claims to have THE answer.

Occasionally Jesus’ answers are kind of surprising, but you almost always have to ask questions first.

Oh, and you have to listen.

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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

Decisions! Decisions!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Psalm 143:8b: “Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

Do you ever feel unable to make a decision? I do. If I shop for clothes, I want them to be on sale, made well, washable, no iron, and in red, hot pink, or royal blue.

When it comes to electronics, I’ll talk to dozens of people before I make a decision. I’ll wait months even two or three years before I decide.

When I bought my laptop, I waited and waited.

Finally, I did what I should have done first. I prayed and asked God to “show me the way I should go.”

I also asked God to have that laptop on sale. I told him I wouldn’t buy it unless it was on sale. Then I stopped thinking about the laptop.

About seven months later, I went to the pharmacy near an electronics store. Since I was already there, I walked inside the store.

I heard an announcement over the intercom that the Apple laptops were on sale, and they had only four left.

As I raced to the computer department, I thanked God for the sale. I bought my laptop and thanked God again.

Sometimes God says, “No.” Sometimes he says, “Yes.” Other times he says, “Wait.”

 Dear God, show me the way I should go. Amen.

 Application: In what decision will you wait to hear from God?

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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

What Kind of Life Will You Have in 2014?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

As I reflected on 2013, I thought about what 2014 might bring. How about you? I heard several people mention diet and exercise as their New Year’s resolutions.

What about spiritual commitments or choices? Will you read more than one or two Bible verses quickly each day in order to draw from the fountain of life?

The first week of November, I felt the Lord leading me to read ten chapters from the Bible daily. Those chapters encouraged me during my illness and comforted me during the Christmas season. I saw the light of the Lord rather than darkness.

Every thought, word, and action we choose in 2014 will either direct us to the fountain of life or to the snares of darkness, death and destruction.

For 2014, I’m reading five Bible chapters daily. I desire to draw the living water of God’s wisdom from the fountain of life and bask in his light. It won’t always be easy to keep up the reading, but it will be worth it.

The Lord will provide opportunities to share lessons learned from the fountain of life.

What will you see in 2014? What will you share?

Dear God, help me remember you alone are the fountain of life. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to see the Lord’s light?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!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

Is Giving Thanks an Obligation or a Gift?

Monday, December 16th, 2013

We talk a lot about gratitude this time of year.

Like a lot of other things, we get the notion of gratitude turned around. We act like gratitude’s an obligation, something we owe to God. You’d think He commanded us to be thankful because He needs our thanks.

When you say it that way it sounds silly, doesn’t it? God doesn’t need anything from us. He’s doing just fine. Thankfulness isn’t a requirement, an obligation, or a burden. It’s an opportunity to reaffirm our authentic identity and renew our connection to God.

Gratitude is a gift we give ourselves. When we express our thanks, we remind ourselves that we’re stewards rather than owners.

Gratitude allows us to hold everything—achievement, finances, family, health—loosely, with open hands. God wants us to live with gratitude because it’s the only way we can live in authentic peace. Gratitude allows us to let God be God.

There’s some freedom in that.