Friday, January 29, 2010

Receiving Forgiveness

There are two sides to forgiveness: giving and receiving.
Although at first sight giving seems to be harder, it often appears that we are not able to offer forgiveness to others because we have not been able fully to receive it. Only as people who have accepted forgiveness can we find the inner freedom to give it. Why is receiving forgiveness so difficult? It is very hard to say, "Without your forgiveness I am still bound to what happened between us. Only you can set me free." That requires not only a confession that we have hurt somebody but also the humility to acknowledge our dependency on others. Only when we can receive forgiveness can we give it.

Does GOD heal people today?

Some illnesses are simply because we live in a sinful, broken world and are all affected. Other ills may be allowed by God to help us grow. The Apostle Paul had some ailment that he prayed three times for God to heal. God didn't. Through this, Paul learned the efficiency of God's grace which helped him to live with his problem.

Jesus said to those who were infirm, "Do you want to be made well?" As I've said before, wishes don't wash. We need to genuinely want to be made well and accept personal responsibility for doing our part in the healing process. God doesn't go against his own laws. We either resolve our sins and issues or suffer the natural consequences.

Speaking personally, in my youth I was taught that Christians should never be angry and that you can't trust your feelings—so I learned early in life to repress and deny my pent-up negative emotions. By the time I was in my early 30s I suffered from painful bursitis in both shoulders and miserable hay-fever. But when I got into recovery and resolved my anger, hurts, grief and fears, I was healed. I haven't suffered from either bursitis or hay-fever in years, for which I am very thankful.

Thus I believe it is true that "Christians shouldn't be any sicker than we ought to be."

Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Terrific Potential

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

A shoe manufacturer decided to open his business to the Congo market and sent a salesman to the underdeveloped country.

The salesman wrote, "Prospect here nil. No one wears shoes."

The manufacturer wrote back, "Market potential terrific! Everyone is barefooted."

At times, all we see is our faults and failures, and we convince ourselves the prospect of our spiritual success is nil.

Fortunately, we have a God who sees not only our past and present sins and mistakes; but He also sees our hopeful future, that one day we will be
finally renewed and eternally with Him!

He has the ability to see the big picture and understand that our earthly struggles with our human nature will end once and for all when He returns for us. If we would keep that in the forefront of our mind, we might never lose hope.

We cannot let the enemy constantly remind us of our failures and convince us that our shortcomings define who we are.

Instead, we have to meditate on God's Word, allowing Him to renew our hope that one day we will be like Him.

by David Jeremiah

AllWorship Email

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word [God's Word, the Bible] 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

Yesterday we talked about wheel-kickers. This reminds me of an attractive black and white bird (that is found where I grew up), called a magpie. Magpies are about the size of a small dove and are extremely protective of their young. If you come too close to a mother magpie's nest, you'd better watch out for your head as these birds with their long, sharp beak are just as likely to dive at you.

Magpies also have a strange but amusing habit. They spend seemingly tireless effort in repeatedly jumping into and pecking at their own reflection in the shiny hub caps of cars … never realizing that they are pecking at their own image.

Some people are kind of like that. When we habitually peck at, put down, and criticize others, we are reflecting an image of ourselves. Or, as the old saying goes, when we point a finger at others, we are pointing four fingers back at ourselves. Pity we can't see it—greater pity that we don't want to see it. It's so much easier to play the blame-game and project our problems onto others than to accept the fact that we are the problem. And remember, when we play the blame-game, we will "be-lame."

If we truly want to grow, become more whole and mature, we can start by looking at our attitude towards and treatment of others. If we have a critical spirit, an ongoing negative attitude, and repeated conflict with others, we can be certain that both the problem and the cure lie within ourselves.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, rather than 'pecking at others' help me to see myself in your Word and, not forgetting what I see and, with your help, confront and resolve my issues so that I become more and more like Jesus in every way. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. James 1:22-24 (NIV).


Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Work In Progress

A few years ago while I was still newly-employed at my job, I kept hearing my boss refer to the "year-end WIP reports", and I didn't have a clue what he was talking about. Being new to all those accounting office buzz words, and wanting so to make a good impression, I privately asked a co-worker what WIP stands for. She kindly replied, "work in progress."

OK, I now had what the letters stand for, but I still didn't grasp what the term really means. Next stop--internet dictionary. Hmmm...a piece of work that's not yet finished. How interesting. Self-explanatory, actually.

Unfinished stuff. I can totally relate to that, can't you? My stack tray is full of it, and so is my house! But on a deeper level, let's talk about us.
I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, "work in progress" in my prayer time this morning. Not having heard that term in months, I had to just sit and mull it over before getting ready for work.

You and I are God's work in progress. As new Christians, we begin as a rough draft (a really rough draft!). In the course of our lifetimes, God has to do a lot of revising, adding, subtracting, changing our thinking, changing our attitudes, undoing what we've done to ourselves and what other people have spoken over us.

That stack of papers on my desk hasn't got a will; the time it takes for completion is entirely up to me and my willingness to whittle it down.
However, with God's work in progress, the "worked on" items--we-- have a free will! For that reason, it takes Him all our lives to work out the "bugs." Sometimes we catch on quickly; other times He has to delete the same things from our mindset over and over.

But He's patient. He envisions the finished product and He's so willing to see us through to the end. As long as it takes, as a matter of fact. If you struggle with frustration over your failures, as I often do, know that God's grace is sufficient. No matter how often you've fallen flat on your face, or "almost but not quite" succeeded in fulfilling your destiny, it's not so late in the game that God can't redeem the time for you.

He's an expert at implementing "Plan B" for all of us who didn't get it right the first (or second, or third!) time. Hop back up onto Father God's
worktable today and allow Him to do a new thing in your life. He's got plans for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a're His very valuable work in progress.

"...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

by Lisa Crum - AllWorship

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Parable of Brother Leo

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."1

Michael Josephson tells about "an old legend … of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker as to who should do various chores.

"On the third day they met another monk who was also going to the monastery and he joined their party. This monk never complained or shirked a duty, and whenever the others would fight over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer and simply do it himself. By the last day the other monks were following his example, and they worked together smoothly.

"When they reached the monastery and asked to see Brother Leo, the man who greeted them laughed. 'But our brother is among you!' And he pointed to the fellow who had joined them late in the trip."2

Not all, by any means, but unfortunately many today who want to be leaders—be it in the church, the community, politics, or in the business world—want it for the wrong reason. They want the position for attention, prestige, prominence, control, money, or to manipulate for power to push their particular brand of product, belief, or philosophy (be it good or bad), or for other varied false motives.

There is an urgent need today for leaders—the kind modeled by Brother Leo—and more importantly, the kind modeled by Jesus who came to serve and to give of himself.3 His motive was loving concern for others. It's called "servant leadership." This type of leader leads by example and not by command or demand.

And as Josephson said, "Can you imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, educators and business executives saw themselves as servant leaders?" To which I would add preachers, teachers and, most important of all, to be modeled in the home by we men who call ourselves fathers.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a servant leader in whatever capacity I find myself, and with your help, always strive to be like Jesus in everything I do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Romans 12:10 (NIV).
2. Michael Josephson, Character Counts (313.3).


Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Monday, January 18, 2010

Overcoming Addictions Part III

"The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."1

First a word of warning to those of us who say, "I don't have any addictions. That's not my problem."

We all need to realize that anything we habitually do or use to avoid facing our inner pain is an addiction—no matter how good what we are doing may appear to be. A codependent person, for example, is addicted to the addict in his or her life. Others of us hide behind our busyness, our intellectuality, our position, or whatever. Some people escape into religion and claim they are standing on the Word of God, when in fact they are hiding behind the Word of God. They use God's Truth as a defense against facing the truth about themselves—a very subtle, self-deceiving, and self-destructive course to take.

Also, some people, as John Powell said, treat God as if he were a giant Bayer's aspirin. "Take God three times a day and you won't feel any pain!" It's not that simple. What is realistic is that God will help us but he will not do for us anything we need to do for ourselves, but he will bend the heavens to do for us what we can't do for ourselves—that's why Jesus came to earth and died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins and mine.

So when we ask God to help us to overcome our addictions, how can we pray to get our prayers answered?

First, pray honestly. The beginning point to resolve any problem is to admit that I have a problem. Only those who say, "I have a problem. I need help," can ever find help.

Second, pray sincerely. We need to want to overcome our problem with all our heart and be totally committed to do what we need to do about our recovery if we want God to help us. A wish won't wash. It has to be a genuine want. As Jesus would say, "Do you want—not wish—to be made well?"

Third, pray for truth. If, for example, I am an alcoholic, I need to (1) not only admit to myself that I am an addict but also admit/confess to God and at least one other person that I am an alcoholic (or whatever my addiction is); (2) that my life is out of control; (3) that I need help: and (4) ask God to confront me with the truth about myself; to show me the cause/s behind my addiction no matter how much it may hurt. This can be painful. I know because there have been times when I have prayed for God to confront me with the truth about myself. The good news is, once I see the truth about myself and the cause/s behind my problems, I know what I need to do to overcome. As Jesus taught, it's the truth that sets one free.

Remember the "LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." So the way to pray to get prayer answered is to pray for truth—the truth, the whole truth about yourself.

Fourth, ask for guidance. When we pray, we need to ask God to lead us to the help we need to overcome our problem—and never give up until we find that help.

Fifth. accept responsibility. Part of our recovery, after we ask God for help and guidance, is to actively seek the help we need to overcome our problem, and to do what we need to do in order to recover.

Sixth, commitment. It took many years to become who and what we are so we don't overcome our struggles overnight. We need to be so committed that we never give up until we work through and resolve our problem so that we become more and more the person God envisioned for us to be—and that is to be made whole. God's goal goes much deeper than seeing us delivered from our addictions. It is that we are made whole, for only to the degree that we are made whole will our lifestyle, actions, attitudes, behaviors and relationships become wholesome.

Jesus' question to you and me is this: "Do you want to be made whole?" God will do his part. It's up to you and me to do our part. We need to pray the right prayer, want deliverance with all our heart, and do our part in the recovery process.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you are waiting to help me when I pray the truth from my heart. Help me always to be honest with myself and with you knowing that when I am, you will always hear and answer my prayers. Help me, too, to always pray the right prayer. Thank you for hearing and answering me. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).


Acts International - Daily Inspiration

From Unceasing Thinking to Unceasing Prayer

Our minds are always active. We analyze, reflect, daydream, or dream. There is not a moment during the day or night when we are not thinking. You might say our thinking is "unceasing." Sometimes we wish that we could stop thinking for a while; that would save us from many worries, guilt feelings, and fears. Our ability to think is our greatest gift, but it is also the source of our greatest pain. Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue with our God, who is the source of all love.

Let's break out of our isolation and realize that Someone who dwells in the center of our beings wants to listen with love to all that occupies and preoccupies our minds.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation


"How do we overcome addictive behaviors that are the fruit of a deeper root?"

First, face reality. Addicts are very adept at avoiding reality, are steeped in denial, and have all sorts of devious ways of denying their addiction. Like the man who says, "Sure I drink a lot but I'm not an alcoholic," even though he has a dozen or so beers a day and often comes home either drunk or half-drunk. Or like the wife who is a closet drinker. She will do everything in her sneaky-power to avoid being caught and is in deep denial about her addiction.

Thus, the first step in overcoming any addiction is to face reality and admit, "I have a problem. I need help." Even God limits himself from helping us until we admit we have a problem, acknowledge that our life is out of control, and that we need help.

Second, accept responsibility. The addict needs to get into an effective recovery program—such as a Twelve-Step or similar program—that will help him to stop acting out through his addiction, and to confront his inner reality and pain head on. This can be extremely difficult and very painful because for much of his life he has avoided facing his reality and feeling his pain. However until he stops medicating his pain and feels and faces it, chances are that he will never do anything about overcoming his problem.

Some time ago a friend who had tried without success for twenty years to stop smoking asked me for help. He admitted he had a problem but didn't really want to confront the cause behind it. I asked him a simple question: "Why do you need to smoke?" He mumbled a few incoherent sentences and walked away. Sadly, he died a few years later from cancer. The reality is that if we don't get the cause behind our symptoms, the symptoms will get us.

Acts International - Daily Inspiration

The Still, Small Voice of Love

Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, "Prove that you are a good person." Another voice says, "You'd better be ashamed of yourself." There also is a voice that says, "Nobody really cares about you," and one that says, "Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful." But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, "You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you." That's the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen.

That's what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us "my Beloved."

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Either rightly or wrongly I was taught years ago in a pastoral counseling class that every church has a church boss—and very often it isn't the pastor. Almost always, wherever people are together, there is someone who wants to be in control. The church is no different because we are all fellow strugglers—sinners saved by grace—and, unfortunately, we won't be free from conflict until we get to heaven.

I recall some years ago in the church where I was a member how I said to the pastor about a "control freak" that if he (the pastor) didn't get rid of this man, he would do his utmost to get rid of him (the pastor). He almost did and caused great harm to the church. So what do we do with these "mutagens"? It's tough I know, but there are times when tough love is called for, and we have to do what we have to do. For if we have a "cancer" and don't get rid of it, the cancer will get rid of us.

It may be a bit crude, but when they threw troublemaker Jonah overboard, there was a great calm. At the very least, discipline is needed to reform "mutagens." If this fails, then the Jonah principle may need to be applied to save the many from the damage by the least.

Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stepping over Our Wounds

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on. The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there. Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or the "discarded one." Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them. It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability

There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another's wounds. Let's remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vulnerable, Like a Bird

Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support. Life and death are connected by vulnerability. The newborn child and the dying elder both remind us of the preciousness of our lives. Let's not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation