Posts Tagged ‘bondage’

A Higher End in Life

Monday, February 27th, 2017

“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses.” Luke 12:15

“Implanted within us is a desire for amusement — the entire suppression of which is as injurious, as it is unauthorized. The Christian religion is antagonistic only to that which is hurtful to spiritual life. It is not opposed to wholesome amusements. It does not rob us of any pleasures which are consistent with our eternal welfare.”

“Healthy recreation should be encouraged, with one proviso — that it never be forgotten that there is a higher end in life than to be amused. Care should be taken, not to suppress the desire for amusement — but to moderate and rightly direct it. The limitation which devotion to Christ imposes, must ever be observed, lest pleasure be made the business of life, instead of life’s relaxation.”

“The selection of fitting sources of amusement should not be difficult. There are many such, without tampering with questionable ones, which may prove detrimental and even destructive to spiritual life. The question requiring settlement is: “Am I, by the amusement in which I indulge, being spiritually helped or hindered? Is my soul being lifted up — or more heavily weighted down?”

“The Christian should find pleasure not only in the world’s confectionery — but chiefly in the strong meat of the Word.”

“All things are yours. Take them and use them; but never let them interfere with the higher life which you are called on to lead.”

“A ship is all right in the sea — so long as the sea is not in the ship. In the same way, a Christian is all right in the world — so long as the world is not in the Christian.”

J.C. Pittman, 1917

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Are You Making a Cross for Yourself?

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Luke 22:42

A cross is composed of two pieces of wood. The shorter piece represents your will–and the longer piece represents God’s will. Lay the two pieces side by side–and there is no cross; but lay the shorter piece across the longer one–and you have a cross.

Just so, whenever our will falls across God’s will–there is a cross in our life. We make a cross for ourselves . . .
— every time we do not accept Christ’s way,
— every time we murmur at anything He sends,
— every time we will not do what He commands.

But when we quietly accept what He gives, when we yield in sweet acquiescence to His will, though it shatters our fairest hopes, when we let our will lie alongside His–there are no crosses in our life, and we have found the peace of Christ.

“My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it–may Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42

I delight to do Your will, O my God!” Psalm 40:8

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

New Year’s Motto: Look Up!

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” Luke 21:28

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have
new toils,
new trials,
new temptations, and
new troubles.

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year–let us seek grace to follow our Lord’s loving advice, and “look up!

Do not look back–as Lot’s wife did.

Do not look within–as too many do.

Do not look around–as David did.

But “look up!” Look up to God–He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, “Look unto Me, and be delivered–for I am God!”

Look up for light to guide you–and He will direct your path.

Look up for grace to sanctify you–and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.

Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God’s will–and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.

Look up for comfort to cheer you–and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.

Look up for courage to embolden you–and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might–He will increase strength.

Look up for endurance to keep you–and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.

Look up for providence to supply you–and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Look up in faith–exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.

Look up in prayer–asking for what God has graciously promised.

Look up in hope–expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.

Look up with adoration–and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.

Look up constantly–let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, “Our eyes are on the Lord our God–until He shows us mercy.”

Look up–for this will keep . . .
the head from swimming,
the heart from sinking,
the knees from trembling,
the feet from slipping, and
the hands from hanging down!

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year–but “Look up!” This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
procure for us all that we need,
secure us against all that we dread, and
make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? “Look up” and hear Jesus saying to you, “Do not be afraid–I Myself will help you!”

Are you discouraged? “Look up”–and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? “Look up” for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin–look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God’s dear Son!

Do not look too much at self–but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you–loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will . . .
bind up your broken heart,
calm your perturbed spirit,
cheer your drooping mind, and
fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
for all that you need;
from all that you fear;
through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You–and will look up!” Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!”

Do not look at your sin–it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self–it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan–he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men–they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials–they will deject you!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us–looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!” Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently–to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking–to Jesus, who is at God’s right hand in glory.

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!

James Smith, “A New Year’s Motto” 1865

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)

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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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

Is Worry Overwhelming You?

Monday, November 14th, 2016
The Bible forbids us to worry. Our Lord Himself speaks of it as foolishness and sin (Matt. 6:25-34). Peter tells us to cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Worry and faith do not go together; they are, in fact, in contradiction to each other. To worry is to lack faith.
Consider this: God cannot worry. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and all things therein. All things were made by Him, and all things are under His omnipotent hand and control. Moreover, as James declares, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). Not an atom can ever escape God’s government and control.
This means that God has nothing to worry about, because everything is under His full control and accomplishes His purpose. If the Lord be our Lord, then Romans 8:28 is true for us: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If the worst that happens to us is made to work for good in the Lord, we cannot lose.
This is why anxiety and worry are a sin. They mean a distrust in the Lord. They mean, moreover, that we insist on playing god and on trying to run our lives according to our plan. We then sinfully refuse to take hands off our lives to commit them to God’s keeping.
When our Lord says, “Take no thought for your life” (Matt. 6:25), or “do not worry, or be anxious, about your living,” He is summoning us to faith. If we refuse to have faith in the Lord, how can we expect Him to care for us? And if we refuse to have faith and insist on worrying, then we will have something to worry about: having denied the Lord, we will not have His care or providence. Take your choice: God’s care or your anxiety.
Taken from A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Volume 7.
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Waiting for God to make the first move?

Friday, November 11th, 2016

A challenging story from a wonderful speaker brings today’s word-of-the-week…

WAITING

waitAre you waiting for God to make the first move?

Mark Batterson, best-selling author and pastor at National Community Church in Washington D.C. was guest speaker at our church this weekend. He talked about prayer. He asked, “If you’re praying for something, do you trust God to answer or are you waiting for Him to make the first move?”

He told a story. A new campus location was about to open, and they needed a drummer. So everyone prayed, but no drummer appeared. They began to wonder if perhaps this location wasn’t meant to have a worship band.

Then someone observed that the campus didn’t own a drum set. Another person asked, “Why buy drums before we have a drummer?”

Mark said at that point he suggested a different perspective. “We’re asking God for a drummer. Perhaps we need the courage, or the faith, to step out and buy a drum set and trust Him do what He chooses with it.”

The worship leaders were waiting for God to make the first move.

How often do we do that? How often do we essentially offer God a deal: we’ll be happy to step forward as soon as you (God) do your part.

It’s called faith because I don’t get to know step #2 before I take step #1.

Go ahead and pray for just the right drummer. But buy the drums.

What’s the first step you need to take while you pray?

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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