Archive for the ‘Renewal’ Category

Heaven’s Answer

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice. ~ Henry Knox Sherrill

This is not the first time that I have created a post titled, “Heaven’s Answer.” The first was done a few years back to commemorate Christmas, written from the perspective that the birth of Christ was indeed a blessing of divine origin, the beginning.

From that particular newsletter, my thought: “And so, from this point, here in the tiny space that I occupy in the universe, it is through my belief in the Holy Spirit and the seed of his worth that is placed in our hearts that I rejoice and fear not.”

There would be no Christmas if there was no Easter. And now, it is Easter, the most important festival of the Christian church and we are celebrating completion; the fulfillment of all the promise inherent in the beginning; the resurrection of the Word in Heaven’s reply.

And he departed from our sight that we might
return to our heart, and there find Him.
For He departed, and behold, He is here.
~St Augustine

The great gift of Easter is hope, the Apostle Peter wrote that it is our “new birth into a living hope.”

Recently we found a movie on Netflix titled ‘A Man Called Peter’, the life of Peter Marshall, the pastor from Scotland who became the chaplain of the Senate in the 1940’s. His sermons and prayers are as relevant and inspiring today as they were then.

To wit, “Our father’s God, to Thee who are the author of our liberty, and under whom we have our freedom, we say our prayer. Make us ever mindful that we are the heirs of a great heritage, and the trustees of priceless things, lest we forget the price that was paid for them–or the cost that may yet have to be met to keep them. Make us strong, O God, in conviction with the insight of our perilous times and in the courage for our testing.”

May you have a joyful Easter!

Remember to count your blessings and express the hope in your heart.

~*~
Becky and Jim Gabriel

Since 1980, Jim and Becky Gabriel have helped multiple numbers
of patients in Georgia and Sarasota and graduated a thousand
massage therapists from ASHA, the Academy of Somatic Healing Arts,
their Atlanta massage school.Their mission is to provide innovative, effective health care services,
educational materials and classes as well as holistic health and wellness
products for the entire community. They may be contacted via:
The Gabriel Center for Massage Therapy

A Bag, a Book, and a Bottle!

Friday, April 7th, 2017

God takes great care to comfort His people in their many trials and sorrows in this world. One of the goals which He commands His preachers to have, is the comfort of His people. He says, “Comfort, comfort My people.” Here are three things described in the Word of God that should be of great comfort to every believer.

1. God has made A BAG FOR OUR SINS. Job said, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and you sew up my iniquity.”  In ancient times when men died at sea, their bodies were placed in a weighted bag which was sewn together and sealed. Then they were cast into the depths of the sea.

That is what God has done with our sins. They are cast “into the depths of the sea.” When Christ died for our sins which were imputed to Him, He put them all away. They were buried in the sea of God’s infinite forgiveness, put away never to be brought up again. God almighty will never charge us with sin, impute sin to us, remember our sins against us, or treat us any less graciously because of our sin. That is the forgiveness of God! “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

2. The Lord has written A BOOK FOR OUR NAMES. Take heart child of God. Your name is written in the book of God! Before the worlds were made, the Lord God inscribed the names of His elect in the Lamb’s book of life. In that book God has recorded, not only the names of the chosen heirs of Heaven, but also all things pertaining to them. The Lamb’s book of life is the book of God’s eternal purpose of grace, predestination, and election. The fact that our names are written in that book means that our salvation is a matter of absolute certainty, and that all things work together for our good by God’s arrangement to secure our predestined end, which is perfect conformity to Christ. When our Lord says, “Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven,” He is telling us that we have nothing to fear. All is well with those whose names are written in Heaven.

3. Moreover, the Lord God keeps A BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small cloth or sponge to wipe away their tears. Then they were squeezed into a small vial, a tear bottle, and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who had died. Even so, the Lord our God, our heavenly Father, our almighty Savior, and our holy Comforter tenderly cares for us. We are the very apple of His eye.

The Lord our God has . . .
put our sins in a bag and buried them,
written our names in a book to remember them, and
placed our tears in a bottle to show His tender care for us.

Could anything be more comforting in this world of sin, sorrow, and death?

~Don Fortner

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The Purposes of God Stand

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Those who reject the doctrine of the total depravity of man must skim over many parts of Scripture, which is unique among the holy books of all religions in that it does not shy away from revealing the evils of even its most prominent characters. The Bible is a book about sin, in fact. It addresses the origin of sin and its only resolution. Heaven is in view, but only as the full restoration of the redeemed man. The Biblical picture of heaven is a place of victory over sin made possible by the atonement for sins by Jesus Christ.

Because it is a book about man’s sin problem, the Bible does not hesitate to point out sin, even when it is in God’s covenant people. We are not presented with a religion of positive thinking, but one with real sinners who often fail their God. Thus, we are shown Noah’s drunkenness, as well as that of Lot. We are shown the disobedience of Moses, the apostasy of Saul, the adultery and murder by David, and the excesses of Solomon.

Sometimes these accounts are so familiar to us they fail to shock us. Take, for instance, the selling of Joseph into slavery by his own brothers. This was perhaps a crueler act then if they had murdered him outright. God may have intended it for good, as Joseph later told his brothers, but their action was no less evil. This, the earlier incest of Reuben, and the murders by Simeon and Levi reveal the nature of Israel’s sons. No virtue can be ascribed to them; all that comes through is the grace of God. Nothing else could have made such men leaders of the covenant people.

All too often, we see only the evil in men and in cultures and fail to see God’s grace at work. Such a perspective leads to cynicism and a defeatist attitude. We ought to remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph saw great evil in their day but never saw the fulfillment of the promises in terms of which they lived. Likewise, Christ has made us more than conquerors, but we often personally know only what seems to us defeat. The purposes of God stand, however, and our walk must not be by sight, but by faith. Even our death, the “last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26) will, in the end, be defeated. Like watching a replay when we know the good outcome, our perspective should be one of joy and delight in the certainty of the resolution of all things by a righteous God.

~Mark R. Rushdoony

~ * ~
Reprinted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation.
Copyright by the Chalcedon Foundation. All rights reserved.

What is True Repentance?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.” Luke 15:18-20

Notice the spirit of deep self-abasement in the resolution which the prodigal made.

True repentance is intensely personal. The prodigal felt it was his own sin. I have sinned!” He can scarcely see any sin but his own. He sees his own sin in the very worst colors. Study the fifty-first Psalm. See how David again and again speaks. It is my transgression, my iniquity, my sin ever before me.

True repentance beholds the wrong done to God by sin. The prodigal felt that his sin was primarily against God. It was a breach of His holy law. It was opposition to His holiness. It was sin against His goodness, and against redeeming love. So David cries in his bitter sorrow, forgetting for the moment the wrong he had done to Uriah–in the far greater wrong which his sin had done to God: “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight!”

True repentance makes no excuses.
The prodigal seeks for no palliation, no covering, no cloak. He says nothing of the circumstances which led him to do evil, or of companions who had drawn him aside. He does not attempt to shift the burden from his own shoulders to that of others. He makes no self-justifying pleas–he has too much sorrow, too much true brokenness of spirit, to desire or attempt it. One thing, and one thing only, he sees–his own terrible fall, and his own exceeding guilt.

True repentance takes the very lowest place. Once to be a son was not enough for him–but now he will be content even to be a slave or a hired servant! He feels utterly unworthy. As Jacob felt: “I am not worthy of all the mercies You have showed me.” As the centurion felt when he sent to Jesus: “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” So did the young prodigal esteem himself: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

Be sure that God delights in the humble and contrite soul.
Lift yourself up in pride and self-satisfaction–and God will assuredly cast you down.
Cast yourself down in humble confession of your sin–and God will assuredly lift you up.
“God resists the proud–but gives grace unto the humble.”

But we see here the purpose of the heart accomplished. The young man not only made the resolution, but he kept it, So he got up and went to his father.” He turned his back forever on that far country and his old companions–and turned his face homeward. Doubtless it was with many a tear, with many a bitter feeling of regret for all that had passed–since in so different a spirit he had trodden that path before. Yet onward he trudges with weary heart and weary footstep, in the hope that a place may still be found for him in his father’s house.

Do you ask, What is repentance? I can scarcely better describe it than from the path of this wanderer. It is turning the back . . .
on sin,
on the ways of the world,
on the lusts of the flesh,
on the service of the devil.

And it is turning the face God-ward, Heaven-ward, confessing all that is past, looking upward for grace to live holier, with one single desire–to abide in the fear and love of God.

~ George Everard, “Welcome home! Plain teachings from the story of the Prodigal” 1871

God is your refuge – and underneath are the everlasting arms!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

“The eternal God is your refuge — and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deuteronomy 33:27

If we are held in the clasp of the everlasting arms — we need not fear that we shall ever be separated from the enfolding. “Underneath.” They are always underneath us. No matter how low we sink in weakness, in fainting, in pain, in sorrow — we never can sink below these everlasting arms. We can never drop out of their clasp!

God’s love is deeper than human sorrow. Sorrow is very deep, but still and forever, in the greatest grief — these arms of Divine love are underneath the believing sufferer.

God’s love is deeper than death. When every earthly support is gone from beneath us, when every human arm unclasps and every face fades from before our eyes, and we sink away into what seems darkness and the shadow of death — we shall only sink into the everlasting arms!

Drop your plummet into the deepest sea of sorrow, and at the end of your soundings: “Underneath are the everlasting arms!”

What abiding consolation! What all-embracing, never-failing strength!

~J.C. Pittman, 1917

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Be Thankful in All Circumstances

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

One day, Johann Tauler of Strosbourg met a peasant and greeted him, “God give you a good day, my friend!”

The peasant answered briskly, “I thank God that I never have a bad day!”

Tauler, astonished, kept silent for a moment. Tauler then added, “God give you a happy life, my friend.”

The peasant replied composedly, “I thank God that I am never unhappy!”

“Never unhappy!” cried Tauler bewildered, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” came the reply, “When it is sunshine — I thank God; and when it rains — I thank God. When I have plenty — I thank God; and when I am hungry — I thank God. Since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me — I am never unhappy.

Tauler looked upon him with awe. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am a king!” said the peasant.

“A king?” Tauler asked, “Where is your kingdom?”

The peasant smiled and whispered softly, “In my heart!”

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In all circumstances! This comes as a surprise when one considers the vicissitudes of human life. Sickness and health, poverty and wealth, joy and sorrow — are all ingredients of the cup placed to human lips — so all must come within the scope of thanksgiving. Why be thankful for everything? Because God causes everything to work together for good to those who love Him.

J.C. Pittman, 1917

Two Wolves

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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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

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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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