Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coming Home

In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty. The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations. Both are lost. Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.

Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God. Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God's unconditional love.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Monday, June 29, 2009

Too Important Not to Share

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things."1

"Do you remember the Mercedes TV commercial a few years ago that showed a Mercedes crashing into a concrete wall during a safety test? An engineer in a white lab coat walks over after the crash and kneels down to examine the damage, which is minimal. A reporter then asks the engineer about Mercedes' energy absorbing car body. After the engineer tells all about the unique design the reporter asks him why Mercedes doesn't enforce their patent on the design, a design evidently copied by several other companies because of its success.
"The engineer then replied matter-of-factly, 'Because some things in life are too important not to share.' How true this is. There are many things in life that fall into this 'too important not to share category.' Advances in science, in medicine, in technology. But all of these pale in importance to that of sharing our faith."2
As Billy Graham said, "I am convinced the greatest act of love we can ever perform for people is to tell them about God's love for them in Christ."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, I come to you with all my fears, insecurities, and weaknesses but I'm available. Please use me today to be 'as Christ' to someone in need and help me in a loving way to share an appropriate word about you and my Christian faith. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Romans 10:15 (NKJV).
2. Rev. Steve Jackson, Sermon: "Come and See."


Acts International - Daily Encounter

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Spiritual Courage

Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.
Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just Do It

"You are to go into all the world and preach [communicate] the good news to everyone everywhere."1
One writer pointed out that there is a scene in "Winnie the Pooh" that goes something like the following:
Pooh: "Did you fall into the river, Eeyore?"
Eeyore: "Silly of me, wasn't it?"
Pooh: "Is the river uncomfortable this morning?"
Eeyore: "Well, yes, the dampness you know."
Pooh: "You really ought to be more careful!"
Eeyore: "Thanks for the advice."
Pooh: "I think you're sinking."
Eeyore: "Pooh, if it's not too much trouble, would you mind rescuing me?"

How sad when people all around us, among other things, are lost without Christ and we discuss outreach, form outreach committees, conduct seminars on outreach, read books about outreach, and do everything in the church except outreach.
Somebody else said, "If you see a poisonous snake in your kitchen, just kill it. Don't appoint a committee on snakes!" Just kill it—or at least remove it to a safe place!
And as Meg Stawinski says in her book, Confessions of a Supermarket Evangelist, about a church she used to attend, as you exited the church parking lot there was a sign that read: "You are now entering the mission field."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, every day please help me to be 'as Christ' in some way to every life I touch—no matter where I am—and always be prepared to share a timely word about you as opportunity presents itself. And grant that our home will always be a house of blessing to all who enter in. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Jesus in the Gospel of Mark 16:15 (TLB … NLT)
NOTE: To have a vital role in God's plan to reach the world with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, please consider joining the People Power for Jesus group. See

Acts International - Daily Encounter

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T That is What He Needs from Me

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

I have a confession to make: when my husband JJ and I got married over 15 years ago, I took out the words "honor and obey" from my wedding vows. I didn't say I would submit to my husband either. I vowed to "submit my ideas and dreams" to my husband and trust God's leadership in our marriage. I had some serious issues going into marriage. I was a young Christian, who was afraid of the "S" word, and I wanted to make sure God and my witnesses didn't catch me in a lie. Like many women, I was terrified that if I submitted to my husband I'd become a doormat and lose myself somewhere in the middle of letting my husband lead. I regretfully remember one time JJ told me it was easier to let me lead because it wasn't worth the argument to him.You'd think that's what I wanted - to get my way - but it wasn't because my husband became apathetic. Soon I realized I was losing respect for my husband and it was mostly my fault. I wanted him to lead, but when he tried I'd often criticize how he led. It was a mess.One day I was praying God would change JJ and make him more decisive, more confident, more protective and, well, just more what I wanted him to be. God strongly impressed on my heart that my criticism wasn't getting me any closer to my desired result. In fact, my frustration with JJ only contributed to his own doubt as a man trying to follow God and lead His family.

God's also reminded me that I was fueling Satan's flaming darts of condemnation aimed at my husband's heart. I was joining efforts with the one who wanted to take out my husband as the leader of our home. Through prayer, God showed me that my husband needed me to be his greatest cheerleader and his biggest supporter verbally, emotionally and spiritually.

God challenged me to keep my mouth closed when JJ did something I didn't like or led in a way I didn't want to follow. He encouraged me to tell my husband when I saw things I appreciated and use the power of my words to build up and not tear down my man.
I started doing what God showed me. I looked for and found things in my husband that I'd never really noticed before. I got intentional about finding things I respected and letting God take care of things I didn't. I made many choices to honor him in big and small ways. And you know what? I discovered things about my husband that were worthy of respect.

We've been through a lot together. I have followed God as I trusted many of my husband's decisions that scared me: job changes I didn't want him to make; financial investments that seemed too risky; parenting issues that were hard. It hasn't been easy, but I am so thankful that my husband has become the leader of our family. And I'm more comfortable following his leadership than I ever thought I'd be!

Dear Lord, I want to respect my husband and build Him up with my words. Help me to measure my thoughts carefully and come to You with my complaints. I want to become my husband's biggest cheerleader and watch You do Your thing in His life. I know this is possible as I depend on You to live Your life through me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Renee Swope
Proverbs 31 Ministries - Inspiration for Today


Words That Come From the Heart

Words that do not become flesh in us remain "just words." They have no power to affect our lives. If someone says, "I love you," without any deep emotion, the words do more harm than good. But if these same words are spoken from the heart, they can create new life.
It is important that we keep in touch with the source of our words. Our great temptation is to become "pleasers," people who say the right words to please others but whose words have no roots in their interior lives. We have to keep making sure our words are rooted in our hearts. The best way to do that is in prayerful silence.
Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation


Monday, June 22, 2009

Costly Success

"Then He [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, saying: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, "What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?" So he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'" But God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.'"1
Alan Smith tells about a wrestler, Yussif, the Terrible Turk, "a 350-pound wrestling champion in Europe a couple of generations ago. After he won the European championship, he sailed to the United States to wrestle the American champion, whose name was Strangler Lewis—a little fellow by comparison who weighed just a shade over 200 pounds.
"Although he wasn't very big, Strangler had a simple plan for defeating his opponents and it had never failed to work. He'd put his massive arm around the neck of his opponent and cut off the oxygen. Many an opponent had passed out in the ring with Strangler Lewis.
"The problem when he fought Yussif the Turk was that Yussif didn't have a neck. His body went from his head to his massive shoulders. Lewis could never get his hold and it wasn't long that the Turk flipped Lewis to the mat and pinned him. After winning the championship, the Turk demanded all five thousand dollars in gold. After he wrapped the championship belt around his vast waist, he stuffed the gold into the belt, and boarded the next ship back to Europe. He was a success! He had captured America's glory and her gold!
"He set sail on the SS Bourgogne. Halfway across the Atlantic, a storm struck and the ship began to sink. Yussif went over the side with his gold still strapped around his body. The added weight was too much for the Turk and he sank like an anvil before they could get him into a lifeboat. He was never seen again."2
"What a fool," we say, but how many of us in reality (especially we in the West) spend so much of our lives investing in the pursuit of possessions and grasp onto them until our dying day?
As Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, deliver me from the vain pursuit and grasping of material possessions, and help me to realize that my life does not consist in the abundance of things I possess, but in my love of, and in my service to you through serving others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Luke 12:16-21 (NIV).
2. Contributed by Alan Smith, www.TFTD-online.com.
Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.
You will eat the fruit of your labour, blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.
Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of yor life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,

and may you live to see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel. Psalm128

May all fathers rejoice in the Lord on this Father's Day

Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Faith Struggles

"Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:3-4 (NIV)

My faith struggles. It occurs most often when something happens in life that is beyond my understanding. My faith plunges to below sea level depth when I witness a natural disaster, a family tragedy, or another Christian's failure. In my humanness, I cannot comprehend the "Why?"
Regardless of my stinkin' thinkin,' God is faithful. Scripture states the following three truths explicitly throughout the Bible.

God is faithful
"He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!" (Deuteronomy 32:4, NLT)

God always works in our best interests
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (Jeremiah 29:11, AMP)

God's ways are beyond our understanding
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV).

So what do I do when my faith plummets? I need to look to the truth that is deeper than my human reality. I need to acknowledge this fact - my faith can only grow when I have to trust God without the benefit of understanding every aspect of His divine will. I also need to realize that faith fluctuates and I am not the only one that struggles with the issue of doubt.

A biblical example of a person who struggled with his faith is the disciple Thomas. Thomas spent three years with Jesus. He watched the Lord perform miracles. But still his faith floundered. Jesus never gave up on Thomas but kept encouraging him to believe and to trust.

So when my faith struggles to stay afloat in a sea of doubt, I will look to Jesus for support. I will readily admit that I do not understand the why of the situation. And I will accept that it is part of the process of growing my faith. I will hold onto our Key Verse as a faith preserver.
"Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:3-4, NIV).

If your faith is struggling today, join me in the journey of faith. We can walk in encouragement together knowing we are persevering and maturing and that one day our faith will be complete, not lacking in any area.

Dear Lord, at times my faith strugItalicgles. Help me to hold onto the truth of your Word. Allow me to remember my faith is in a state of growth in every circumstance. Grant me strength in my faith so that it may persevere and mature. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Susanne Scheppmann
Proverbs 31 Ministries - Encouragement for Today

We Are the Glory of God

Living a spiritual life is living a life in which our spirits and the Spirit of God bear a joint witness that we belong to God as God's beloved children, (see Romans 8:16). This witness involves every aspect of our lives. Paul says: "Whatever you eat, then, or drink, and whatever else you do, do it all for the glory of God" (Romans 10:31). And we are the glory of God when we give full visibility to the freedom of the children of God.
When we live in communion with God's Spirit, we can only be witnesses, because wherever we go and whomever we meet, God's Spirit will manifest itself through us.

Daily Inspiration - Henri Nouwen

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."Romans8:16

Seeds of Opportunity

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."1
One of the most asked questions from Daily Encounter readers has to do with suffering and why God allows it. Recently one reader asked the question, "Why doesn't Jesus return to end all the evil that is in today's world?" At a more personal level, others ask, why does God allow me and my family to go through so many problems?
I suppose all of us have asked the same question at one time or another. I certainly have and my answer is, I don't know. I'm sure my parent's generation asked the same question especially during the days of Hitler, World War II, and Stalin. However, had Jesus returned before I was born, I probably wouldn't have been born, nor would I be given a home in Heaven, nor would I have the wonderful privilege of publishing the gospel and reaching so many others with God's message of eternal salvation.
The fact is that every generation has gone through suffering of one kind or another and only God knows when Jesus will return to end it all. The point is that we need to realize that evil happens because we live in a broken and sin-full world, the results and effects of which affect us all. The other thing is that God wants us to use our pain to draw us closer to him and help us to grow and become healthier and more mature persons. We also know that God wants everyone in the world to be given the opportunity to hear the gospel before Jesus comes again. Also, it helps to remember that "no matter how disappointed you are feeling or how much you are hurting, know that every heartache and loss has within it the seeds of opportunity. Hidden within each disappointment is a pearl of great price that, when found, will totally dwarf your problem. The greatest success stories are written by people who, against seemingly overwhelming and often insurmountable odds, have accepted their trials and turned them into opportunities for personal growth and stepping stones on their pathway to success. With God's help you can do the same. Trust him and choose friends who will empower you to do so."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to use every trial and problem that comes into my life to draw me closer to you and to help me grow towards becoming the person you want me to be. Also, please help me to be an effective witness for you and to be a part of your plan in reaching every one in my world and beyond with the gospel by being 'as Jesus' in some way to every life I touch, and by being ready to share the gospel with every opportunity that presents itself. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. James 1:2-4 (NIV).
2. From How to Mend a Broken Heart, by Dick Innes. Available on sale at: http://www.actscom.com/store.
Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

"As he [Jesus] was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, 'Jesus, Master, have pity on us!' When he saw them, he said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?'"1
William Stidger, a Methodist minister, began to think of the blessings he had received during his life. He remembered a special elementary school teacher who had gone out of her way to give him an appreciation for verse. It had been more than 50 years since Stidger had been in her class, but his appreciation for verse had endured since that time. Stidger wrote to his former teacher a letter of appreciation and she replied: "My Dear Willie, I cannot tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely and, like the last leaf of autumn, lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught in school for fifty years and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a grateful heart and a thankful spirit, so that I will always give and express credit where credit is due, thanks where thanks is due, and appreciation where appreciation is due. And above all, give me a thankful heart for the countless blessings you have given so freely to me and especially for your gift of salvation and a home in Heaven to be with you forever. Help me to so live that my life will be a living expression of gratitude for all that you have done for me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Luke 17:12-17 (NIV).
2. From Pastor Ron Clarke, Tasmania, Australia.
Acts International - Daily Inspiration



"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." - Proverbs 18:21
Words have the power to motivate or destroy, energize or deflate, inspire or create despair.
Many successful executives can remember the time their father failed to give affirmation to them as a child. The result was either over-achievement to prove their worth, or underachievement to prove he was right.
Many a wife has lost her ability to love because of a critical husband. Many a husband has left a marriage because of words of disrespect and ungratefulness.
Stories abound regarding the power of words. There are just as many stories of those who have been encouraged, challenged, and comforted with words that made a difference in their lives.
Jesus knew the power of words.
He used parables to convey His principles of the Kingdom of God. He used words of forgiveness and mercy. He used words to challenge. He used words to inspire His disciples to miraculous faith.
Do your words give life? Do they inspire and challenge others to greatness? Who does God want you to encourage through your words today?
Affirm someone close to you today.

Os Hillman

AllWorship Inspiration


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Once ... Always?

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ; he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Once a liar, always a liar. Once a bitter person, always a bitter person. Once a failure, always a failure. Once impure, always impure. Once a bad mom, always a bad mom. Once a person living in fear, always a person living in fear. "Once a ____, always a ____."
What did you fill in the blank with? Do you have anything from your past that still defines you? I have good news for you. You can stop living like this today.
Who is Jesus to you? That is a question we all need to answer. Jesus' disciples were asked this in Matthew 16:15. "Then Jesus asked them, 'But who do you say I am?'" (CEV). Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (v.16). How would you answer Jesus' question?
So many of us know and believe Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God, but what does that mean to us in terms of our identity? The Bible tells us in John 3:16-18 that God loved us so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but live forever in eternity. "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned." (CEV)
Did you notice that last part? Jesus did not die for our sins so that we would live under condemnation of them. Nor did He die so we would forever be labeled and falsely identified by our sins. He died so we would be set free from our sins and their shame, labels, and condemnation. Don't believe anyone who tells you different. Know who Jesus, your Savior from sin, is and rest in that truth.
Maya Angelo said, "When people show you who they are, believe them...the first time." I will have to disregard Ms. Angelo's statement. "Once a ___, does not make me (or you) always a ____." Why? Because of who Jesus is in us. Our God is not only a God of second chances, He is a God of infinite chances, forgiveness and grace.
We can't change what people think about us. Sure, we can try to explain how we've changed, but often others will define us by one or more sins we've committed in the past. It's happened to me before. Even though I may have once earned the "Once/Always" names I was called, I know that's not who I truly am. Our identity is NOT in what we did, but in who and Whose we ARE.
"Once a ___, always a ___"? No ma'am, that is not true in the context of Christ! In Christ, you are washed clean. Look again at our key verse, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come." The old has gone. Gone. Gone. It's gone! Answer the question Jesus asks, "Who do you say I am?" And believe the answer that He is your Savior from condemnation. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. No person or past action can take that from you because, "Once a beloved child of God, always a beloved child of God." That is the truth!
Dear Lord, I pray today that You will remind me that I am precious and washed clean in Your sight. The shed blood of Jesus on the cross is proof that I am no longer captive to what I've done or who people say I am. I am Yours! In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Melissa Taylor
Proverbs 31 Minitries - Encouragement for Today

Fire on One End, Fool on the Other

"Do not merely listen to the word [God's Word, the Bible], and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."1
In his Sermon: "Didn't You Hear What I Said?" Julian Gordy shared how, when he was in high school, "A physician came to talk to us about the dangers of smoking. He scared us with his grim pictures of smokers' lungs and tales of death from lung cancer. The doctor finished his speech by saying, 'Remember, fire on one end, fool on the other.'
"We were all impressed, especially those boys who would sneak out behind the shop building at lunch to light one up. But a couple of the guys saw the doctor himself lighting up when he got back in his car after the lecture. And his credibility was shot. He was the talk of the campus. It would have been better for the no-smoking campaign if he had never come to speak. Saying one thing and doing another is something nobody respects."
Reminds me of the quote that goes something like, "Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you say."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to so live that my life will always be a living example of integrity in that the life I live will be in harmony with what I believe and what I say. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. James 1:22-24 (NIV).
Acts international - Daily Inspiration

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Source of All Love

Without the love of our parents, sisters, brothers, spouses, lovers, and friends, we cannot live. Without love we die. Still, for many people this love comes in a very broken and limited way. It can be tainted by power plays, jealousy, resentment, vindictiveness, and even abuse. No human love is the perfect love our hearts desire, and sometimes human love is so imperfect that we can hardly recognise it as love.In order not to be destroyed by the wounds inflicted by that imperfect human love, we must trust that the source of all love is God's unlimited, unconditional, perfect love, and that this love is not far away from us but is the gift of God's Spirit dwelling within us.

Daily Meditation - Henri Nouwen

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1John4:8

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blow Upon Blow

"But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."1
Jim Rohn says, "You can cut down a tree with a hammer, but it takes about 30 days. If you trade the hammer for an ax, you can cut it down in about 30 minutes. The difference between 30 days and 30 minutes is skills."2
You could also put it this way: You can cut down a tree with an ax in about 30 minutes, with a chain saw in about five—so having the right tools for the job is a big help too!
On the other hand, it may take 30 years or more to replace that tree. So we need to be extremely careful before we start cutting down anything of value as we may never be able to replace it. Like blow upon blow of a sharp axe, blow upon blow of cutting words can hurt deeply, ruin a marriage, severely damage a friendship, and destroy the self-concept of a child!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, grant that my speech and my conversation will always be seasoned with grace and truth, and never be used to chop down anyone. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. James 3:8-10 (NIV).
2. Cited on "Quotes From the Masters."
Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Ministry and the Spiritual Life

All Jesus' words and actions emerge from his intimate relationships with his Father. "Do you not believe," Jesus says, "that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? What I say to you I do not speak of my own accord: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his works. You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe it on the evidence of these works" (John 14:10-11).
Just as all Jesus' words and actions emerge from his communion with his Father, so all our words and actions must emerge from our communion with Jesus. "In all truth I tell you," he says, "whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works. ... Whatever you ask for in my name I will do" (John 14:12-13).
It is this profound truth that reveals the relationship between the spiritual life and the life of ministry.
Daily Meditation - Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Empowered to Be

Who are we? Are we what we do? Are we what others say about us? Are we the power we have? It often seems that way in our society. But the Spirit of Jesus given to us reveals our true spiritual identities. The Spirit reveals that we belong not to a world of success, fame, or power but to God. The world enslaves us with fear; the Spirit frees us from that slavery and restores us to the true relationship. That is what Paul means when he says: "All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons [daughters] of God, for what you received was not the spirit of slavery to bring you back into fear; you received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Romans 8:15).
Who are we? We are God's beloved sons and daughters!

Daily Meditation - Henri Nouwen

"The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

The Power of the Spirit

In and through Jesus we come to know God as a powerless God, who becomes dependent on us. But it is precisely in this powerlessness that God's power reveals itself. This is not the power that controls, dictates, and commands. It is the power that heals, reconciles, and unites. It is the power of the Spirit. When Jesus appeared people wanted to be close to him and touch him because "power came out of him" (Luke 6:19).

It is this power of the divine Spirit that Jesus wants to give us. The Spirit indeed empowers us and allows us to be healing presences. When we are filled with that Spirit, we cannot be other than healers.

Daily Meditation - Henri Nouwen

Empowered to Pray

Prayer is the gift of the Spirit. Often we wonder how to pray, when to pray, and what to pray. We can become very concerned about methods and techniques of prayer. But finally it is not we who pray but the Spirit who prays in us.

Paul says: "The Spirit ... comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words; and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers that the Spirit makes for God's holy people are always in accordance with the mind of God" (Romans 8:26-27).

These words explain why the Spirit is called "the Consoler."

Daily Meditation - Henri Nouwen
"God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth" John4:24

Friday, June 5, 2009


"'King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.' Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?' Paul replied, 'Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'"1

Phil Parrino, a Daily Encounter reader, tells the story how in "World War I there was a young American ambulance driver who personally witnessed all kinds of death and suffering. After the war he wrote dark brooding novels and finally committed suicide. His name was Earnest Hemmingway.
"But there was another American Ambulance driver even younger than the first. The dead and dying he witnessed were mostly from the great influenza epidemic that swept Europe at the end of World War I. After the war he drew cartoons and made people laugh. When he died he was loved by millions. His name was Walt Disney.
"As you have said, it's not only what happens to us, but how we react to it. Our personality predisposes us to a certain extent, but in the end we make the choice."
Life is a series of choices. I am today where I am because of choices I made years ago. I will be where I am tomorrow based on choices I make today. And I will spend eternity based on the choice I make about accepting or rejecting God's great gift of salvation.
As Paul challenged King Agrippa to become a Christian, he challenges you and me today to make that choice and not to be an almost-persuaded. For help be sure to read, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: www.actsweb.org/articles.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to see that my life has been shaped in so many ways because of choices I made in the past. Help me to make choices today for where I want to be tomorrow. And above all, help me to make the right choice about eternity by making sure I have accepted Jesus as my Savior and am a true follower of him. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Acts 26:27-29 (NIV).
Acts International - Daily Inspiration


"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"1
Not so long ago I had an urgent phone call from a good friend in Australia—one of my closest friends when I was growing up. Two of his granddaughters on their way to a Bible College in Florida were stranded at the Los Angeles International Airport. My friend wanted to know if there was any way I could help them as their passport and entry papers were not in order. We offered to have them stay over with us until this got sorted out. No chance. They were not allowed out of the airport and we were not allowed to see them—not that we could have done anything but it would have been nice to at least give them a sympathetic ear.
They were put on the next plane and sent back to Australia
How terribly disappointing it was for them. They were just kids and didn't know any better as their travel agent hadn't given them the correct instructions. The good news is that all is corrected and they have returned to the U.S. and are now in college in Florida
This is a good reminder about making sure that we have our passport for heaven. All religions, as many would have us believe, do not lead to heaven. Good works, as many others claim, will not get us into God's heaven either. There's only one way and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ who has paid the ransom price for all our sins and wrongdoings through his death on the cross. There is no other way.
Accepting Jesus as your Savior is providing your passport for entry into heaven. Whatever you do, don't leave earth without it. Unlike our friends from Australia, there will not be a second chance to come back to get it right.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you gave your Son, Jesus, to pay the ultimate sacrifice in giving his life as a ransom price to pay for the penalty of all my sins, and that in accepting him as my Savior gives me my 'passport' to heaven. Please help me to be sure that I have my passport to heaven. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
For your "passport to heaven" be sure to read "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: www.actsweb.org/articles.
1. John 14: 6 (NIV).

Acts International - Daily Inspiration


"Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9
Every day of our lives, we are placed in situations that engage us with other people, whether it is in the office, our homes, or in public places.
Do you recall the last time someone cut you off in traffic, or you were forced to wait in line because someone up front got held up? Perhaps your employer did something that was downright unfair. Anger can result from many circumstances.
A friend once told me that anger is like warning lights on the front of your car dashboard. They signal that there is something going on under the hood, and we should take a look to examine the source of the problem.
When we lose control of a circumstance that we have placed certain expectations on and those expectations do not result in our desired outcome, we are tempted to get angry. The source of this type of anger is both fear and protection of personal rights. You see, when we believe we have a right to something, we have not given the Lord permission to allow an outcome different from what we want. If an outcome is different from our expectations, this may stimulate fear.
For instance, if a vendor failed to deliver an important job on time due to something out of his control, you may respond out of anger. Please know that the source of your anger is the fear of what might happen to you or what this might say about your abilities to manage a project. You no longer are in control of the circumstance and this creates fear in you.
The next time you get angry, ask the Lord, what is the source of that anger? Did the Lord allow that failure to let you see what is "under your hood"?
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (see 2 Tim. 1:7). Give up your rights to expectations that God never gave you. You will find a new freedom in Christ you never knew you could have.
by Os Hillman

Destruction Invited

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."1

Vernon Eaton, commenting on the book, Ways of the Ant, by John Crompton, writes: "A pleasure-mad society needs to take a lesson from the Sanguine ants and their affair with the Golden-Haired beetle."
"The ants' normal diet is plain, often to the point of austerity, but they love unusual and exotic tidbits and will go to any lengths to satisfy this craving. For example, the Golden-Haired beetle exudes from the base of its golden hairs some secretion which ants find irresistible. So it is allowed to do anything it likes, even lay its own eggs, which soon turn to grubs. So besotted and obsessed do the worker ants become that they feed the beetle with food intended for their own infants, and even with food reserved for the queen."
"Worse, much worse, they allow the beetle to kill their infants and eat them. They even kill their own infants themselves and feed them to this stranger. The beetle repays them with a generous allowance of the secretion they crave…. The end is not immediate. The colony may last two years more, but the end is certain."
"How like Satan is this picture. Promising the 'pleasures of sin' and then enslaving us with our own cravings. The 'dead-end' may not be obvious at first, but it is inevitable."
The good news is that while the end result of sin is eternal death, which is eternal separation from God the author of all love and life, the gift of God is both forgiveness and eternal life. Both are available for all who believe and ask. For help be sure to read "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" at: www.actsweb.org/aricles.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me always to remember that sin always has its consequences and that I will reap what I sow. And I thank you that you have provided an escape from sin's ultimate consequences—eternal death and separation from you—by giving Jesus to die in my place on the cross. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Romans 6:23 (NIV).

Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance

"Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith."1
Beliefs are remarkably powerful in that they are to our lives what a rudder is to a ship. That is, they control the direction and destiny of our lives. Furthermore, while we don't always live the life we profess, we always live the life we believe. Simply put, if I believe I am a failure, I will set myself up to fail. If I believe I am a successful person, I will succeed, and so on.
Another critical point to remember about beliefs is that while we may begin with healthy beliefs but if we fail to live up to them, we will experience cognitive dissonance; that is, mental disharmony that is caused by guilt. Because of this discomfort, the danger is that we may change our beliefs to match our lifestyle. And then, instead of living the life we believe, we end up unhappily believing the life we live—a dangerous and self-destructive path to follow.
The good news about beliefs is that we get to choose them. In so doing we choose the direction and destiny of our life. Thus we need to choose our beliefs carefully and base them on reality and not on that which is convenient, or on false teaching or faulty perceptions from the past. We need to base them on God's Word and his principles for successful daily living.
For some in difficult circumstances it may be difficult to believe in God and that he has a specific purpose for your life. Nevertheless, we still believe in God by choice as exemplified by a World War II prisoner of war who wrote on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany: "I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining; I believe in love, even when I feel it not; I believe in God even when he is silent."
Another powerful thing about beliefs is that they determine not only the destiny of our present life, but also our relationship to God and our destiny for the life to come. God's Word, the Bible, says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."2 Also, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved [for the life to come]."3 And again, "To all who received him [Christ], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."4
Remember, too, that beliefs are only wishes until we act on them!

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the wisdom to choose my beliefs carefully—beliefs that are in harmony with your Word, the Bible. And give me the courage to always live in accordance with these beliefs and never change them to match a less than wholesome lifestyle. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Timothy 1:18-19 (NIV).
2. John 3:16 (NIV).
3. Acts 16:31 (NIV).
4. John 1:12 (NIV).
NOTE: Today's Daily Encounter is also adapted from "The Power of Belief" by Dick Innes at

Acts International - Daily Inspiration


"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'"1
"Sir Michael Costa, the celebrated conductor, was holding a rehearsal. As the mighty chorus rang out, accompanied by scores of instruments, the piccolo player—a tiny pint-sized flute—thinking perhaps that his contribution would not be missed amid so much music, stopped playing. Suddenly, the great leader stopped and cried out, 'Where's the piccolo?'
"The sound of that one small instrument was necessary to the harmony, and the Master Conductor missed it when it dropped out. The point? To the Conductor there are no insignificant instruments in an orchestra. Sometimes the smallest and seemingly least important one can make the greatest contribution and even if it doesn't seem to make that big a difference to the audience at large, the conductor knows it right away!
"In the church, in life and in God's work on earth the players and the instruments are diverse—different sizes, different shapes, different notes, different roles to play. But like the piccolo player in Sir Michael's orchestra, we often in our own sovereignty decide that our contribution is not significant. Our contribution couldn't possibly make a difference. And so we quit playing. Stop doing that which we've been given to do. We drop out. But the Conductor immediately notices."2 From our perspective your and my contribution may be small, but from God's viewpoint it is critical. So, whatever you do, don't bury your piccolo (talent) but put it to use in service for the Lord remembering that we serve God by serving people and doing it in Jesus' name.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the gift/s you have given to me and for the part you have given me to play as you orchestrate your plan for the world in which I live. Help me to play my part diligently, faithfully, and to the best of my ability always for your glory and the benefit of others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Matthew 25:24-25 (NIV).
2. Adapted from Richard Love, Sermon: "Blowing Your Horn," Memphis: Sermon Illustrations, 1999. Cited on www.eSermons.com.

Acts International - Daily Inspirational

Commitment Contradiction Part I

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."1
Have you ever noticed that God doesn't worry about being politically correct? Today's politically "correct" society has all sorts of fancy watered down names for sin. We call a lie a fib (or "I misspoke"), adultery an affair, abortion a viable means of birth control, homosexuality an alternate lifestyle, etc., etc. But God doesn't beat around the bush. Sin is sin is sin. To call poison by any other name would be deadly. To call sin by any other name is also deadly. If we do what we know is wrong, we sin. And if we know to do good, and don't do it, we sin.
While I would disagree with a Buddhist monk on many issues, I totally agree with his statement when he said, "To know and not to do is not yet to know."
To translate that into our Christian terminology it could be: "To believe and not to act is not yet to believe because I only truly believe that which motivates me to action." Thus the Buddhist monk was right on when he said, "To know and not to do is not yet to know."
If I say I am a follower of Christ and don't do anything to help the poor, feed the hungry, care for the downtrodden in my community and in other parts of the world, nor support missions and those spreading the gospel, then I am not a follower of Jesus regardless of what I say I am. What I say is meaningless unless it is backed by my actions.
Every one of us can do something to be "as Christ" to somebody. Even if we are bedridden, we can still communicate Christ's love to those who are ministering to us through a grateful and loving spirit, and we can pray for these nurses and doctors, and for those who are on the front line of action for Christ.
Thus, to know and not to do is not yet to know; or to believe and not to act is not yet to believe, for I only truly believe that which motivates me to action.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a 'doer' of your word and not just a 'talker.' And please help me always to be faithful in being 'as Christ' to every life I touch—ministering to people at their point of need and then communicating your love and the gospel message with those who are lost and need the Savior. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. James 4:17 (NIV).
Acts International - Daily Inspiration


A man was exploring caves by the seashore.
In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake.
They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.
He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock.
Inside was a beautiful precious stone.
Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure.
He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left.
Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves.
Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!
It's like that with people.
We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel.
It doesn't look like much from the outside.
It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it.
We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy.
But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.
There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.
May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.
May we see the people in our world as God sees them.
--Author Unknown

Monday, June 1, 2009

Making Your Life Count

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."1

Everybody is good at something … even the person who said he was a good example of what not to do!
Seriously, what is it you like to do best? Even if it is only one talent, start putting it to good use today—right now. And then get the training you need to sharpen that talent and ask God how you can use it to serve him and help others so you can make your life count for something worthwhile.
Don't wait for opportunities to fall into your lap—they may or may not come. Make your own opportunities. If you find a need, meet it. If you find a hurt, heal it.
With God's help you, too, can make your life count for something truly worthwhile for time and eternity.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, again today I commit and trust my life and way to you. What can I do for you today? I'm available; please use me to help a wounded soul along the way, to bring a smile to a saddened heart, to give comfort to a lonely child, encouragement to a struggling teen, a sandwich to a hungry man. Whatever it is, please use me today to be 'as Christ' to every life I touch. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV).


Acts International - Daily Inspiration