Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
“I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew28: 20
Jesus comes alongside us as we worship. He speaks to us in his Word and sometimes through a stranger, spouse, or child. Yet much of the time we are not aware of his presence. Is it God who pulls the shade over our eyes? We are kept from recognizing him by our doubt, by the depth of our sorrow or the height of our troubles, or just because in our busyness we pay no attention to the many ways he reveals himself.
We often become aware of Jesus’ presence only in looking back. Then we remember the moments when our hearts were strangely warmed. Then we see how he guided our feet, how he covered us with his wings, how he has never failed or forsaken us.
Let’s pray for expectant ears alert to hear His voice, expectant eyes that notice signs of His love, and expectant hearts eager to respond to His call. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
"Be still and know that I am God...." Psalm 46:10
There is a time and place in our walk with God in which He sets us in a place of waiting.
It is a place in which all past experiences are of no value. It is a time of such stillness that it can disturb the most faithful if we do not understand that He is the one who has brought us to this place for only a season.
It is as if God has placed a wall around us. No new opportunities--simply inactivity.
During these times, God is calling us aside to fashion something new in us. It is an isolation chamber designed to call us to deeper roots of prayer and faith.
It is not a comfortable place, especially for a task-driven workplace believer. Our nature cries out, "You must do something," while God is saying, "Be still and know that I am God."
You know the signs that you have been brought into this chamber when He has removed many things from your life and you can't seem to change anything. Perhaps you are unemployed. Perhaps you are laid up with an illness.
Most religious people live a very planned and orchestrated life where they know almost everything that will happen. But for people in whom God is performing a deeper work, He brings them into a time of quietness that seems almost eerie. They cannot say what God is doing. They just know that He is doing a work that cannot be explained to themselves or to others.
Has God brought you to a place of being still?
Be still and know that He really is God.
When this happens, the chamber will open soon after.
by Os Hillman
Monday, October 26, 2009
"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."1
Did you know that an eagle knows when the storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come.
When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle doesn't escape the storm; it simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.
When the storms of life come upon us—and all of us will experience them—it may not be easy but we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief in Jesus, our God—and daily committing and trusting our life and way to Him. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, but rather, how we handle them.2
As God's Word says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."3 Admittedly, this can take time.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to always hope and trust in you so that, when the storms of life rage around me, I will be able to soar like the eagle above the turbulence and become a better, stronger and calmer Christian as a result. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
Note: For additional help read "Lessons from Suffering" at: http://tinyurl.com/exuyw
1. Isaiah 40:31 (NIV).
2. Today's Daily Encounter was submitted by Dick Nichol who has since lost his wife through cancer. Author of the Eagle story unknown.
3. Romans 8:28 (NIV).
Acts International - Daily Inspiration
Monday, October 19, 2009
Jesus said, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father [God] in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!."1
Terry Fitzgerald Sieck shared how she "was in the habit of praying very specifically for what she wanted. She told God in great detail about the kind of job, the kind of husband, the kind of life that she envisioned for herself. And Terry was frequently frustrated. One day, a friend suggested that she try a different tack. Give God a blank sheet of paper, the friend suggested, and let God give you his list for your life.
"Not long afterwards, Terry went back to school—something she hadn't anticipated doing. And she met a wonderful new man whom she eventually married. He didn't fit the criteria of her earlier list, but he was everything she wanted in a husband. When Terry turned her life over to God's will, God provided for her needs in ways she couldn't have imagined."2
There's nothing wrong with asking God for what we would like, but to get prayers answered, they need to be in harmony with God's will. And while "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers" (as the country song puts it), he often does give us the desires of our heart when we pray in harmony with his will.
I think God has a great sense of humor too. For instance, my last car had just under 200,000 miles on it. It was old but still okay for running around town, but I didn't feel safe in driving it long distances anymore. For months I had been looking for a good bargain on a mid-size SUV (not a gas guzzling one) as I carry lots of stuff for our work. I prayed, "God, I don't really need an SUV but it sure would be nice to have one." Within two weeks I found a fabulous bargain on a year-old, low-mileage vehicle. I now own an SUV and have found it a great help in our work.
I think one of my son's "prayers" was answered too. His vehicle was giving him all sorts of problems so I sold him my old car for $1.00—which he borrowed from us to pay for it!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you hear and answer my prayers. Thank you, too, for the times you haven't answered my prayers according to my wishes which, if you had, it may have done me more harm than good. Help me to live and pray in harmony with your will so that I can be sure that you will answer my prayers one way or another. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
Note: See article, "How to Pray Effectively" at:http://tinyurl.com/kb62w.
1. Matthew 7:11 (NIV).
2. Terry Fitzgerald Sieck, found in Stories of God's Abundance for a More Joyful Life (Lancaster, PA: Starburst Publishers, 1999), pp. 196-198.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
What audience do you play to?
Each day you are seen by many who will make a judgment about the way you handle yourself among different audiences.
Politicians have learned to play to their audiences, customizing messages for the needs of their particular groups.
Musicians have learned to play to their audiences.
Pastors play to their congregations each Sunday morning.
Workplace believers play to the audiences who will buy their product.
Christ has called us to play to one audience--the audience of Himself.
When you seek to please any other audience in your life, you become susceptible to situational ethics and motivations based on the need for the moment. Your audience becomes a pawn in your hands because you know what they want. Is that wrong? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.
Pure obedience to pleasing God in our lives will often meet the needs of those around us.
It is God's will that you and I love our spouses, provide good services to our customers, and look to the interests of others before ourselves. This will result in meeting many needs of the audiences in our lives.
However, there are other times when our audiences are asking for something contrary to God's will.
Politicians are often forced to appease their audiences, even though it may go against God's laws. When we are asked to go with the flow, we discover which audience is most important in our lives. Is it the audience of One, or the audience of many?
Today, be aware of which audience you are playing to.
Ask yourself why you are taking a particular action.
Is it to please the audience of One?
Or is it to please the audience of others who might negatively impact you should you not play to their tune?
by Os Hillman
Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father [God] is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."1
In preparation for his sermon about Jesus being the vine, and we the branches, Brett Blair shared the following: "I must admit that I know very little about the particulars of the wine industry. So I did some reading in this area and found it to be quite fascinating. Grape vines are very rugged in one way, but in another sense their fruit is very delicate and requires being treated with kid gloves. A young vine is not permitted to bear fruit for the first three years. It is therefore drastically pruned in December and January to preserve its energy. The particular branches that do not bear fruit are cut out to further conserve the energy of the plant. If this constant cutting back was not done, the result would be a crop that was not up to its full potential."2
Sometimes we wonder why God allows us, his children, to go through so many trials and tribulations; and yet, when we look back over the past, we can see how God was with us guiding our every step and pruning us so our lives would become more fruitful and productive. As the writer to the early Hebrew Christians wrote, "No discipline [or pruning] seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."3
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, while I can't say that I have ever enjoyed your 'pruning' in my life, I thank you for all the trials you have used in my life to do this. Help me to realize when trials come that you are using these to help me become more and more like Jesus in every way and accept them with an attitude of gratitude. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
Note: For further help see "Lessons from Suffering" at:http://tinyurl.com/exuyw.
1. John 15:1-2 (NIV).
2. Rev. Brett Blair. www.eSermons.com.
3. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV).
Acts Internatonal - Daily Inspiration
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
"Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry."1
One night when I was watching the news on TV, I couldn't help but notice that one group who were demonstrating against war became very violent. Violent peace—an oxymoron if ever there was one!
Now, I'm not against peaceful demonstrations, but when people get violent, it seems to me that they are very angry and are looking for a peg on which to hang their anger. That is, they want to blame someone or anything outside of themselves for their own personal problems.
Unfortunately, this happens far too often in relationships. Angry people breed anger and until they "own" their anger (admit that they have an anger problem), they will continue to look for pegs on which to hang their anger and blame others for their anger and rage. What happens doesn't make them angry—it just triggers it. To blame others or external circumstances for one's anger is a handy excuse to hang on to if we don't want to grow up and accept personal responsibility for our problems.
I'm not saying we shouldn't get angry at wrongdoing and evil. We should. But when we overreact and become violent or rage-full, that is entirely our problem. The purpose of anger is to bring about creative change—not to lash out at others and blame them for our rage.
So … if you are angered too easily, too often, too much[,] and react out of proportion to what has happened, and you want to bring about change, may I kindly suggest that you start the change in yourself, admit your problem, and seek help to resolve it.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to see through my blind spots and acknowledge all of my problems and character issues. Help me to accept personal responsibility for resolving them, and lead me to the help I need to do so. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."