Posts Tagged ‘hardship’

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

Do You Fully Recognize the Hand of God?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

We are to fully recognize the hand of God in whatever trials and sorrows may be appointed for us. And if we see God’s hand in them, we shall . . .
find that our cares and sorrows give us fresh errands to the throne of grace;
see redeeming love in them all;
be assured that Divine wisdom has ordered all for good;
believe that a Fatherly discipline and a tender regard for our highest welfare, have in some way seen them to be needful. So we shall trust and not be afraid.

One day a mother’s hand brings to a child a present of a toy.
At another time, the same hand gives the necessary food.
At another time, the same kind hand dries the child’s tear, and lifts it up when it has fallen.
At another time, the mother brings to the child, a cup of bitter medicine.
All of her dealings with the child are ways of showing her love, and perhaps the last in giving the medicine manifests her love the most.

Is it not so with our Father above? With far more than a mother’s love, He cares for His children.
Sometimes He bestows a temporal gift that greatly adds to our happiness.
Sometimes He gives the necessary provision for our life.
Sometimes He raises us up when we have fallen, and dries the tear of penitence or sorrow.
But it is equal love–yes, perhaps greater love–when He sends to us some distressing providence, or appoints some bitter cup of suffering or bereavement. It is for our highest good. It is the healing medicine which is to overcome some sinful propensity, or to preserve us from some temptation.

Let us believe this, and trust our Father’s love. Let us believe that He cares for us, and that He will remove the trial when its work is done. Let us commit our way unto Him, and roll upon Him the burden which oppresses us.

(George Everard, “Christian Living!” 1881)

When Doors Won’t Open for Us

Monday, October 31st, 2016

A statement of frustration brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

OPENS

doorway“It feels like even when I’m at the right door it never opens for me.”

“Okay, tell me how it works.”

“It’s like I’m following my dream, doing the thing I think I’m called to do, but the door never opens.”

“So following your dream feels like you’re fighting yourself?”

“Exactly!”

“Well, here’s my theory. I think if you’re following your God-inspired dream, it shouldn’t feel like that. It may not be easy, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re fighting yourself.

“Can we try something?

“Sure.”

“Imagine Jesus is standing on the other side of that door, knocking. Please push the door open and let Him in.”

He reached for the handle. “You mean ‘Pull the door open,’ right? I can’t push it. It doesn’t open that way.”

“No, I’d really like you to push it. I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to happen.”

“But  can’t push it open.”

“Wait, are you telling me that if Jesus Himself was standing on the other side of that door you couldn’t push it open if I told you to?”

“Well, I could try, but that’s not the way it opens.”

“Do you think it’s possible that’s what happens with the doors of your dreams? I think sometimes we decide in advance not only WHAT should happen but EXACTLY HOW it should happen.

“Maybe you’re at the right door, but you’re absolutely certain you should push through it when that’s not the way it opens.”

The popular view says if the door doesn’t open, it wasn’t your door.

Maybe it simply opens the other way.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

Have You Given up?

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

A renowned international speaker said, “Yvonne, it took me 20 years to become an overnight success.”

I think of those words often and use them to encourage other speakers and myself. Have you given up on your dreams? Have you pushed your goals aside?

Go back in time with me to a fisherman named Simon. He and another fisherman had fished all night but caught nothing. They left their boats at the water’s edge and were washing their nets. They were done trying to catch fish.

Jesus got into Simon’s boat, sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he finished, he told Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).

Simon said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

If you had been Simon, would you have tried one more time? Would you have trusted the Lord enough not to give up?

Sometimes I work hard on goals and dreams my way and want results in my time rather than God’s. Can you identify with me?

Luke 5:6-7 says, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”

Talk about results. I will wait, let the Lord direct me to the deep water, and haul in his overflowing blessings. What about you?

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CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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That Master Key!

Monday, September 19th, 2016

For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart! Hebrews 4:12

I see more and more in Holy Scripture, a perfect adaptability to the various ills of mankind.

A friend went into one of our lock factories, and he was shown upwards of a hundred locks. He was told that none of the keys would open any of the locks, except the particular one for which it was made.

But then a master-key was shown to him, and this would open any of the hundred locks.

I believe Holy Scripture is like that master-key! There are myriads of human hearts, with various sins, temptations, sorrows, cares, and fears–but the Bible is fitted alike to each and all. It points out the remedy for every form of misery and evil–it leaves no heart and no trouble without some balm suited for its need.

Holy Scripture is our Father’s love letter to His redeemed children. We may trace the handwriting. The spirit of truth, holiness, and love is seen all through. We mark that He knows and provides for the needs of every one in His large family. There are warnings to caution us against every form of sin, however subtle. There is consolation provided for every one of the manifold varieties of human woe.

Pain and suffering, anxieties about the future, disappointments, losses, bereavements–not one of these evils, or any other… we find some appropriate solace, some heavenly promise, that can lift the heart of the believer above it. Who could so completely have provided for every need–but He who made man and knows the hearts of those whom He has made?

~George Everard, “Strong and Free, A Book for Young Men” 1882

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Need a New Perspective?

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

A fifth grader’s comment brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

PERSPECTIVE

The young lady told me she loved the idea of perspective.

I just spoke to her class and she was escorting me to the office. “Why is perspective so interesting to you?”

She stopped and gazed right into my eyes. “Because,” she explained, “it means I get to control how I look at things. It’s like choosing my attitude instead of letting my attitude choose me.”

I love listening to kids.

Can I be honest, just between you and me? Once in a while this thing of living in a wheelchair still gets a bit discouraging. You would think after nearly twenty-eight years I’d be over that feeling, but I still hit an occasional stretch in which all I can see is how difficult life is and all the things I wish I could do.

Then a young lady reminds me God gave me the ability to decide whether I’ll see darkness or light. It’s not easy, but with the Spirit’s help I can choose hope rather than despair. I’m not a victim of circumstances.

As my young friend said, “Perspective means I get to control how I look at things.”

Is there some situation that requires a new perspective?

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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

The key of Death is in the Savior’s hands!

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

“Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Ever-living One! I died–but see, I am alive forevermore! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (the realm of the dead).” Revelation 1:17-18

When it is affirmed that Jesus holds “the key of DEATH,” it is plainly implied that none can pass out of this present world without His appointment. And, more generally, that He is lord of the living not less than of the dead, and has a thorough control over everything that can in any way affect the lives of men. An absolute power over death, necessarily presupposes a corresponding power over life and its affairs. And it is by the exercise of His providence in sustaining life–that He fulfills His purpose as to the time and mode of their departure hence.

Has the Redeemer the keys of death? Then this should mitigate the anxiety which often preys upon the mind when we look forward into futurity, and contemplate the prospect of our own death. We should remember, that as the Redeemer alone has the keys of death–nothing can happen to send us forth from the world before the time which He has appointed for our departure. Neither man nor devils can abridge the term of probation assigned to us by our gracious Master. Nor, until He is pleased to call us away, shall any power on earth or in Hell prevail against us. The Redeemer is possessed of absolute power over the course of our lives on earth–and over the time and manner of our departure out of the world.

No accident, no hostile violence, no insidious snare, no dark conspiracy–can touch our life–but by His command. And surely, when we reflect on the numerous dangers to which human life is exposed–the frailty of our frame–the diseases to which it is subject–our constant exposure to fatal accidents–the malice of open or concealed enemies–it must be consolatory to know, that the key of Death is in the Savior’s hands, and that, come what may, we cannot be forced out of the world, until He opens the door and bids us to come to Him.

More especially, when we are visited with disease, and threatened with a speedy termination of life–the Savior’s power over the keys of death should repress or assuage those violent anxieties as to the probability of death or of recovery–and those disquieting speculations as to the outcome of disease, and the mode of its treatment. For disease cannot kill, nor can medicine cure–without the appointment of Him who holds in His own hands the keys of life and of death! And if He has fixed the outcome of this disease–then why should we be anxious? If death is in our cup–that cup has been put into our hands at the time fixed by unerring wisdom and infinite love!

(James Buchanan, “Comfort in Affliction” 1837)

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Have a Gunpowder Heart?

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

“Avoid every kind of evil!” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Be careful to guard against all occasions of sin and evil. There is no safety without setting a watch against all that is likely to prove a stumbling-block.

I read one day of the remarkable precautions which are taken to avoid danger in a gunpowder manufactory. The walls are all of stone, and no wood is allowed to be in the place. Anyone who walks through has to take off his shoes, lest the nails in them should strike a spark. Then, if he has any metal on him, he must leave it at the door. The danger is so great, that everything must be done to avoid any approach to it.

Oh that Christians would take heed in a similar way to keep from the peril of sin! Keep far away from any approach to temptation. You have gunpowder hearts–so ready to ignite from the least spark! A look, a word, an evil example, a sentence in a book, a suggestion from a bad companion–any of these may be the cause of a world of mischief.

Therefore, make it your firm resolve to keep out of harm’s way.
Beware of all places, and scenes, and people–that may turn you from the right course.
Don’t imagine you are strong enough to go, and get no harm.
Better to keep far from the edge of the precipice.
Better to keep out of the lion’s reach!
Better to keep from the long grass where the viper is coiled up!
Stop while you can–or you may go so far that it may be impossible to escape.

Be careful to guard well the various gates of access to the heart–and of egress into the world.

Guard well the eye. Keep it from vanity. Remember that one look cost Achan his life–and a lustful look embittered the whole of David’s years. Let the eye look straight onward, and right upward to the throne.

Guard well the ear. Receive nothing that will pollute or defile you. Hearken to no voice of flattery or persuasion to evil. Welcome every message of the word of truth.

Guard well the memory and imagination. Let no vision or image tarry there, which will chain and enthrall the soul. If unclean birds fly over your head–do not let them settle in your hair!

Nor be less mindful . . .
to curb the tongue,
to guide the foot,
to use the hand,
according to God’s holy will.

The words you utter,
the paths you go,
the deeds you perform,
tell mightily on yourself and on others. And none should be permitted to act except under the control of the fear and love of God.

Yet always remember, that it is not your careful walking, but Christ’s careful keeping–which will ensure your final victory!
Your enemies are legion,
your strength is nothing,
your resolutions soon fail,
your heart is easily beguiled and turned aside–
but the good Shepherd will keep His own redeemed people.
He will point out your danger–and enable you to flee from it.
He will uphold you in perilous places–and lift you up when you fall.
He will keep you from falling–and save you even to the uttermost!

(George Everard, “Mind Your Steps!” 1884)

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Can Affliction Be Good?

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Some years ago I heard an allegory which I have never forgotten. It often comes back to me when I think of the way in which the Lord leads His people.

The fable runs that a few ears of wheat were growing in the corner of a field, and it was promised to this wheat that it would one day be brought before the Queen. But by-and-by the mower came with his sharp scythe and cut the wheat, and feeling the sharpness of the scythe, it said, “I shall never stand before the Queen!” Presently it was laid in the wagon, and pressed and borne down by the other sheaves, and again arose the cry of distress and despair. But, more than this, it was laid on the threshing-floor, and the heavy flail came down upon it. It was taken to the mill, and cut and cut and cut; then it was kneaded into bread; and at last it was placed in the hot burning oven. Again and again was heard the cry of utter, hopeless despair. But at length the promise was fulfilled, and the bread was placed on the Queen’s table!

There is a great spiritual truth beneath the fable. Christians are God’s wheat, sprung from the incorruptible seed of His Word, and from the precious seed of the crucified, buried body of our Lord–and He purposes that one day they shall stand before Him! But there needs much preparation.

There comes the sharp scythe of bereavement–the loss of child or parent or spouse.

There comes the oppressive burden of care.

There comes the severe tribulation (the very word signifies threshing), seasons of adversity and disappointment.

There comes the mill, the trial that utterly breaks us down, and fills the whole spirit with distress.

There comes the hot furnace of agonizing pain or fear.

All these are doing their appointed work, stirring up faith and prayer, humbling to the very dust–and yet lifting up the Christian, by leading him nearer to God, and enabling him at length to say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted!”

~ George Everard, “The Home of Bethany” 1873

How Well Do You Wait?

Monday, August 1st, 2016

I don’t like to wait in line at the grocery store or anywhere else. How about you?

Inevitably, I end up behind a person who forgot one item at the other end of the store or a customer who buys something without a price on it.

When it comes to my prayer requests, I want God to answer immediately. Sometimes he does. Other times I wait for years for his answer.

In 1 Samuel 10:3, the prophet Samuel told Saul, “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

Saul waited seven days. Samuel didn’t come, and Saul’s soldiers “began to scatter.” Saul sacrificed the offerings to the Lord. Samuel arrived shortly after that and asked him what he had done.

Notice Saul’s response in 1 Samuel 13:11-12, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,I thought, Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor. So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

In verse 13, Samuel said, “You have done a foolish thing . . . You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.”

Did Saul learn his lesson? Look at 1 Samuel 28. After Samuel’s death, he saw the Philistines coming and panicked. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord didn’t answer him.

Rather than wait for an answer, Saul asked a medium for advice. He ignored God’s command against that practice and his own law against mediums in Israel.

The medium brought up the late Samuel, who told him in I Samuel 28:19, “The LORD will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

As I read those chapters, I reflected on the importance of obedience and waiting on God. His timing may not be mine, but he loves me and wants what’s best for me.

I don’t want to take matters into my own hands and suffer the consequences the way Saul did.

God loves you and wants what’s best for you too. Will you wait for his perfect timing?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!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
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com