Because Jesus Lives . . . for Us!

Blog - Because Jesus Lives for Us - John 20 v 31 - April 21, 2019Suggested Reading: John 19-20

Stilled by a bout with sickness, I sat on the sidelines as folks prepared fancy Easter outfits and meals, stuffed colorful baskets with gifts and goodies, and planned fun activities for children.

Spring suits and dresses.

Egg hunts and family photos.

This year, all of our traditions remained packed in totes.

The scenery on Easter Sunday didn’t look the same in Wisconsin.

I missed the sunny weather and the fragrant flowers decorating our California back yard.

I missed the laughter as our sons searched for candy and cash stashed in plastic eggs ruthlessly hidden in the nooks and crannies of our two-story home.

Sadness tugged on my heart and nudged me into a full-blown pity-party. I nursed my cold and waved as my husband headed to church.

I wanted to go with him. I wanted to spend Easter with our sons. I wanted to have more energy, less pain, more laughter, less grief, more blessings, less trials.

Discontent didn’t make a cute Easter outfit, so I repented.

As I settled in to watch the live-stream video of the service, the Lord tugged my focus to a different place, a quiet place, a sobering place . . . at the foot of the cross.

Betrayed and abandoned, mocked and rejected, Jesus stood silently before His raging accusers, and endured torture (John 19:1-17). As He hung on the cross, Jesus provided for His mother (John 19:25-27).

I am a face in the crowd along with Jesus’s mother, covered by a cloak of Christ’s unending compassion.

As God in the Flesh experienced excruciating physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain, He thought of those He loved before the beginning of time.

He thought of . . . me.

But how often do I think of Him?

Do I ever stop “wanting something else” long enough to consider the weight of the cross on Jesus’s wounded back?

Do I think of the pain caused when the soldiers struck Jesus across the face, when they flogged Him with barbed and splintered weapons?

The punishment I deserve was heaped onto Jesus, the only one who can ever claim innocence.

God in the Flesh allowed the soldiers to ridicule and abuse Him, tearing into His flesh and His heart as they beat Him . . . instead of me.

Do I live like I know the value of each moment the Messiah stood silently, bleeding as mockers spit in His face, accepting the cruel sentence meant for me?

Do I stand in awe of Christ’s holiness as He restrained His limitless power and willingly accepted each blow so that the God-breathed words of Scripture would be fulfilled . . . simply because He loved . . . loves me?

The blood-stained cross, of Christ’s nail-pierced wounds and heart-wrenching cries to the Father, came at a great cost . . . yet, I pay nothing.

Do I “look on the one they have pierced” (John 19:37) with iron nails as the jagged splinters of the cross pressed against the deep-wounds stinging His flesh?

Do I consider the price Jesus paid when chose to take on my sins and be separated from the Father, accepting death and being left in a dark tomb that was truly meant for me?

Do I truly rejoice in the gift of the empty tomb as I proclaim Christ as the Risen King (John 20) who lives to give life-transforming love to the rejected, the forgotten, the marginalized, the doubters, and the worst of sinners . . . like me?

As I read through the gospel of John, do I remember that each word is written that we “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,” and that by believing we may have “life in His name” (John 20:30-31)?

Today, I didn’t feel well. I struggled with pain and fatigue. I became frustrated with the symptoms of my cold and discouraged because I can’t take medication for cold symptoms. But by God’s incredible grace, I celebrated Easter with my heart focused on the foot of the cross.

As we consider the cost of Jesus’s personal sacrifice, we can learn to appreciate the value of the blood He shed and embrace the sobering reality that comes with believing that Jesus died and rose and lives for us.

Oh, what a gift it is to be loved so much . . . by God!

When Jesus made His way to the cross . . . He thought of us.

When Jesus died on that cross . . . He thought of us.

When Jesus rose after three days in that tomb . . . He thought of us.

Jesus thought of us when He promised to send us the Wise Counselor, His Spirit who would reveal His truth to us and empower us to live for Him and share Him with others (John 20:19-22).

God in the Flesh, the Second Person in the Trinity, Jesus thought of us . . . Jesus thinks of us.

No matter what we’re facing in life, we can rise up in victory, walk in power, move forward in hope, and breathe faith-filled prayers with confidence, because . . . Jesus lives . . . for us.

Hallelujah!

Lord Jesus, we love You and praise You and thank You for the unchanging truth that changes us and gives us an eternal perspective through which we can view the situations we face each day. Oh, how easily we can brush aside Your priceless love when we get consumed with our busyness, when we get overwhelmed by our selfishness, when we get lost in the mess of our fleshly discontent that tempts us to desire something more or something else. Thank You for coming to save us, for dying for us, for living for us. Please help us to receive Your intimate love, to be forever transformed and empowered by Your constant presence as we live in the shadow of the Good News . . . forever freed and victorious in You. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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How does your perspective on trials and triumphs change when you know that Jesus thought of you when He died for you and rose for you, that Jesus thinks of you every moment of every day?

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J9379To pre-order your copy of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace today, please visit my Amazon Author Page. We’ll be going through the daily devotions on this blog after the book releases on August 7, 2019. I look forward to growing with you!

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Waiting for God Pre-Order Party

Waiting for God - Pre-Order Announcement 1 - 2019My first full-length devotional, Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, is available for Pre-Order on Amazon!

To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise, praise, praise!

I used to be toe-tapping impatient when standing in lines. I would get irritated when I made a phone call and was left on hold. My inability to embrace the act of waiting when juggling life’s small frustrations became more evident when I faced heart-wrenching delays.

Waiting was not a welcome part of my life, especially when the wait was accompanied by physical or emotional pain.

When I first surrendered my life to Jesus, a friend warned me not to pray for patience. So what was I supposed to do? How was I going to deal with the inevitable waiting seasons in life if I couldn’t be honest and ask God for help?

After my battle with chronic pain became overwhelming, I longed for comfort, for peace, for revitalized strength and realized patience has nothing to do with trusting God in the wait.

Patience requires us to suppress rather than process feelings and is reliant on our ability to control our actions and attitudes in our own strength.

Over the years, I’ve learned the futility of self-help and will-power.

So, instead of trying harder, I admitted my weaknesses.

Sick of being burdened by anxious thoughts and tired of feeling stuck, I cried out to God. With Spirit-empowered strength, I looked for Bible verses to help me trust the Lord when the wait felt endless. I reflected on how other faith-warriors leaned on God while facing difficult situations.

My search for enduring hope revealed unexpected answers.

I didn’t need more patience. I needed a new perspective on the Maker of Time’s purpose of waiting.

As I inhaled God’s Word, I exhaled in prayer and experienced the power of resting in God’s love.

Now, I have the privilege of sharing my journey with you.

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J9379What others are saying about Waiting for God?

“If your heart is weary and longing for answers—for healing, for provision, for miracles—Waiting for God renews your hope with strong biblical truth and encouraging Scripture-based prayer.

Conquer your fears and frustrations as you inhale God’s Word, exhale in prayer, and rest in God’s love. Live a life of deeper connection and immediate communion with God that can lead to contentment in His constant presence, no matter what your days hold or how long God’s deliberate delays may last.

Xochitl Dixon writes each chapter with heart-touching transparency and vulnerability, as she shares her own story as well as the stories of others who are trusting God through waiting seasons with no apparent end in sight. As a woman who lives with chronic pain, Xochitl understands constant struggle yet chooses to put God on the throne of her life.”

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Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace is available for pre-order on Amazon and scheduled for release on August 7, 2019.

I’m looking for readers willing to join me for this pre-order party and to prayerfully consider reading through one chapter a day with me after the book is released.

I’ll be offering exclusive giveaways to readers who join the conversation as we discuss the end-of-chapter reflection questions, which are designed for personal and group study.

Please take a moment to follow my Amazon Author Page and pre-order your copy of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.

Please also leave a comment below to share how I can pray with you as you continue waiting for God and trusting daily in His plan and pace . . . one breath at a time.

I look forward to growing with you!

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S.P.R.A.W.L. Before the Lord

MEME - Blog - S.P.R.A.W.L. Before the Lord - Jan 14, 2019Suggested Reading: Genesis 24

As a teenage runaway, I convinced myself that survival made it necessary to place my needs above everyone else’s.

I demanded my way, dug in my heels until I proved myself right, and prided myself in being independent.

I gave to no one. I insisted I needed no one. I submitted to no one.

I trusted no one.

After repeatedly falling face-first in the mess caused by my foolishness and self-centered sinfulness, I met a King‒Jesus‒who proved Himself trustworthy.

Prayerfully reading through the Bible yearly helped me learn more about God’s character as I discovered how much my personal Lord and Savior loved me, how much He gave for me, how much He promises me.

I began to realize He was and is and always will be the only One worth following.

Falling in love with Jesus changed my perspective on servanthood.

But how could I learn to follow Christ when every fiber in my being still struggled with stubbornness at times?

How could I possibly hear His direction when a war waged between my self-serving heart and my desire to have a surrendered servant’s heart?

Though the concept of surrender filled me with fear, the Lord used a humble servant in Genesis 24 to help me learn to S.P.R.A.W.L. before my trustworthy Master, Jesus Christ.

S.P.R.A.W.L.

Stop.

Pray.

Release.

Acknowledge.

Watch.

Listen.

When Abraham sent his servant to seek out a wife for Isaac, the servant fretted over his ability to complete the task (Genesis 24:1-9). Abraham assured him that he Lord would be with him and equipped with all he needed for his travels (vv. 10-11). Scripture doesn’t tell us how much time passed when the servant arrived in Nahor, but we do know how he spent his time.

He stopped and prayed (vv. 12-14).

He released his worries into God’s able hands.

He acknowledged God’s love and reliability with a simple statement of assurance:

“By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love for my master.” (v. 14, emphasis mine)

Through his honest and confident prayer, the servant opened his heart to the peace of trusting God with the outcome (vv. 15-21).

He watched with expectancy as he waited for God’s answer (v. 33).

And even when others tried to distract him from his purpose and delay him, the servant listened‒obeyed his master‒followed the Lord and started on his journey home (vv. 34-61).

This nameless servant chose to S.P.R.A.W.L. before the Lord when given a seemingly impossible task and became a vital part of God’s plan in bringing Isaac and Rebekah together (vv. 62-67).

The Lord never leaves us empty-handed when He calls us to follow Him.

When the twists and turns in our journey test us and the delays and distractions discourage us, we can still follow our Master with surety and hope.

As we S.P.R.A.W.L. like a servant before the Lord Almighty, He can use us to make an eternal impact in someone else’s life.

 Lord Almighty, thanks for affirming Your unending love for us as You empower us to S.P.R.A.W.L. before You whenever we face challenges.

Give us wisdom to stop when we need guidance, pray with confidence, and release our worries into Your capable hands.

 Help us acknowledge You as our Holy God full of goodness and mercy, as we watch You place every piece of Your plan in place.

Help us listen to You‒to hear You and obey You as we follow You.

 In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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How did your life change when you chose to live with a servant’s heart instead of a self-serving heart?

 Is it harder for you to stop, pray, release, acknowledge, watch, or listen to God?

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The Same Old Story

MEME - Blog - Genesis 1 v 1 - Edited Jan 5, 2019

A strange sadness weighed on my heart as I stared at my Bible.

Why wasn’t I excited about reading God’s Word?

Alan and I had been reading the Bible in a year since 2005.

Each year, we’d been amazed at how the Lord revealed Himself in new ways and used His Word to stretch and strengthen us at the perfect time.

So, why was I struggling with focus?

Why didn’t I feel that twinge of expectation and excitement when I prepared to start the year’s reading plan?

When did I start losing sight of the immeasurable value of each God-breathed word in Scripture?

As I beat myself up over the unanswered questions, the Lord patiently massaged my weary heart and prepared me for an unexpected answer.

When I approach Bible reading as a task, I fail to acknowledge God intentionally provided and protected each word from the time of oracles through the years of transcription and translations so He could place His story at my fingertips.

To the enemy’s delight, I’d fallen for the lie that made me skim through Scripture as if I had nothing left to learn from the same old story, as if I didn’t desperately need to listen to my loving Savior’s unchanging voice, as if I didn’t need Him to transform my heart with His words every single day of this life He’s given me.

I prayed for forgiveness and asked God to ignite my passion for His Holy Word, to help me approach Scripture with a new and more grateful perspective, to strengthen me through the same old story that changed my life on December 14, 2001 . . . the day I surrendered my life to Jesus.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning, before life as we know it started, God existed in all His triune perfection and decided to create something out of absolutely nothing.

God created the heavens.

He designed and gave purpose to every galaxy, every planet, every star, every black hole, every atomic particle in the universe.

The Lord created the heavens, in all its marvelous and mysterious vastness.

He created the five basic elements of the universe. Fire. Wood. Water. Metal. Earth.

From the nothing that existed, God created the earth.

He created the inner core, the outer core, the earth’s mantle, and the solid crust that gives us firm places to stand.

He decided where the land would separate the water, where vegetation would flourish, where desert sands would stretch across miles, where mountain ranges and valleys would be carved by trickling streams and the winds that answer to His voice alone.

The Maker of time decided when this world would begin and when man would be created.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

The mind-blowing implications of that simple declaration confirm our Almighty Creator started His story by providing a place for us to be with Him.

Every God-breathed word preserved in the Bible assures us that we can depend on “the same old story” being the foundation of our faith and the proof of His unchanging and unconditional love.

God’s unchanging story gives us confidence in the foundational truths on which He builds our faith.

Why would we want God to change His perfection, to lead us along a different path so we won’t get bored?

Why would we want Him to change His story, to shake things up so we could have a foundation we couldn’t depend on?

Would we really want to follow Him if He was untrustworthy, if He kept changing the rules to fit our weaknesses?

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

Why would He change anything? Why would we want Him to change anything?

As I prepare to read the same old story this year, I’m now excited about the prospect of deepening my faith as He strengthens my confidence in His unchanging Word.

I don’t want to miss one syllable.

I don’t want to skim through one story.

I don’t want to risk giving up an opportunity to hear His unchanging voice declaring His unconditional love for us.

My attitude toward reading God’s Word was a direct result of The Fall. Like Adam and Eve, I listened to the enemy tempting me to doubt the value and surety of God’s unchanging words of truth and love.

Did God really say this or that?

How will we know if we don’t sit at His feet every day and invite Him to share the beautiful story He’s preserved for us in Scripture?

Lord Almighty, thanks for blessing us with confidence in Your unchanging truth. Please ignite our passion for Your Word and help us understand Your truth as we sit at Your feet each day.

Please forgive us for the moments we forget to truly hear what You are saying through Your words preserved in Scripture.

We love You and praise You and thank You for the beautiful love letter You’ve placed in our hands‒the Bible. Please help us approach daily Scripture reading with grateful hearts surrendered in prayer and excitement at the opportunity to know You more.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

In what ways have you struggled with reading the Bible?

How does considering the magnitude of the statement in Genesis 1:1 make reading God’s story more exciting?

 How has the Lord used His unchanging Word to change your life?

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This year I’m using the Our Daily Bread reading schedule to read through the Bible in one year. If you would like to receive daily encouragement devotions and the daily reading schedule from Our Daily Bread, please visit www.odb.org/subscriptions

For encouragement and prayers, please connect with me on my Facebook Author Page, Xochitl E. Dixon at  https://www.facebook.com/Xochitl-E-Dixon-239776362714751/

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God’s Guaranteed Grace

MEME - Hebrews 4 v 16 - Dec 4, 2018My heart ached as I recalled a friend saying, “I know my pain isn’t as bad as yours, but would you please pray for me?”

I grieved when I remembered the various apologies and fear-filled prayer requests.

 I’m so sorry to bother you with this prayer request.

 I know others are worse off than I am, but do you think God will help me?

 Is it okay to ask God for help when so many others are hurting around me?

 Is my request too small, too personal, too self-centered to bring to God?

How many precious children of God fear or avoid asking for intercessory prayer because they feel their needs are not as important as someone else’s?

How many beloved brothers and sisters in Christ keep quiet, ashamed of wanting to ask for their needs to be met because their neighbors’ problems seem bigger, more severe?

God cares about every single detail of our lives.

Our compassionate Creator wants us to come to Him, whether we’re suffering from illness, trudging through seasons of grief, or battling discouragement, fear, insecurities, or doubt.

How often have I been afraid to be accused of whining before God’s throne of grace instead of being confident in God’s amazing grace?

What would it take for me to be assured of God’s limitless love, perfect faithfulness, and immeasurable mercy?

Would the Lord care if I’m weary when someone else is fighting for their lives?

Yes.

Would He care if I’m discouraged when someone’s family is falling apart?

Yes.

Would God care if I need courage to work towards a dream when someone’s struggling to make ends meet?

Yes.

The Lord doesn’t minimize or neglect any of His children.

He doesn’t compare us to one another, because He knows He created us as unique individuals.

He orchestrated every twist and turn, every mountain-top moment and every step through the dry and lush valleys.

MEME - Quote - God's Guaranteed Grace - Dec 4, 2018Our Wise Counselor, our Good Shepherd, our Mighty God is prepared to equip and encourage us through the paths He’s planned for us.

He uses His unchanging Word to arm us with courageous and persevering faith.

“For the Word of God is alive 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)

God changes us as He challenges us when we walk with Him daily.

He purifies our hearts and minds and motives, aligning our thoughts and adjusting our longings until we mirror Him, by the power of His beautiful grace.

We can’t trick our Father, pretending we’re mature just because we’re good at looking polished and presentable.

He knows when we’re broken, when we can barely breathe.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

He knows about our sins, our selfish thoughts, our self-centered jealousy.

He knows about our wants, even when we’re afraid to admit them.

He knows about our struggles, even when we’re drowning in denial.

He knows about our joys and our pains, our hopes, our dreams, and our greatest fears.

Because Jesus is the great High Priest, who has ascended into heaven, we can hold unswervingly–without fear, without hesitation, without a single doubt–to the hope we profess (v. 14).

Our mighty Lord understands everything we’re going through, as He showers us with compassion and magnifies His loving perfection and limitless power in the midst of our weaknesses (v. 15).

With these truths anchoring our faith to His promises, we can trust Him, surrender to Him, walk with Him, and embrace the freedom of His forgiveness when we repent and turn away from our sins.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

When we need rescue, relief, or rest, God cares.

When we need encouragement, God cares.

When we need a miracle, God cares.

In our personal time of need, God cares enough to promise us that He’s approachable and abundant in grace.

God’s plentiful love for us gives us the confidence we need to come before Him with our needs, to pray for others and for ourselves as an act of worship and a brave display of our trust in our Savior.

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Thanks for assuring us that You are our Great Physician, our generous Provider, our gallant and good Shepherd, our Almighty King.

Thanks for never comparing our circumstances to the circumstances of others, Lord, for never minimizing our feelings, for never belittling us for struggling.

Thanks for reminding us that You care equally about every little detail of our day-to-day living and every overwhelming burden that weighs heavy on our minds.

Good Father, please give us courage to come to You for all things. Help us know You’re not randomly picking or choosing one concern over another.

Empower us to trust Your timing and Your plans are perfect in every way.

Please help us rely on Your ability to love without limits, to extend immeasurable grace without running low, and to be fully present and caring with each of us without neglecting any of us.

 Thank You, Lord Almighty, for the privilege of loving You as we learn to accept the unconditional life-changing love You have for each of us.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Have you ever been hesitant to bring your prayers to God when you compare your requests with the requests of others?

How does knowing God never compares us with others increase your gratitude for His loving care, your courage in prayer, and your depth of faith?

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