Wednesday, May 28, 2008
1. The Day That Changed the World
"I [Jesus] am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades [hell]."1
I recall reading about a father who was caught with his two young daughters in a snow storm and lost his way. When night fell he wrapped his jacket around his two girls and lay on top of them to stop them from freezing to death. The next day they were found by a search party. The two girls were alive and safe, but the father had frozen to death. He gave his life to save the ones he loved.
That is what Jesus did for you and me. He gave his life on the Roman cross some 2,000 years ago to pay for the consequences of our sin—death; that is, spiritual and eternal death which is not the cessation of life but eternal separation from God, the author and creator of all love and life. But when Jesus rose from the grave he forever overcame the power of death and sin. In so doing, he guaranteed resurrection and eternal life for all who accept him as their personal Lord and Savior.
Rivi Zacharias expresses Christ's death and resurrection simply yet profoundly in the following words: "The disciples were the ones marked out for death. Those who survived Jesus were really the dead. And he, Jesus, the dead one, was really the living one."
And because Jesus is the Living One—the day he rose from the grave was the day that changed the world forever. And the day that you and I commit our life to him and receive his free pardon is the day that will change our life—for all eternity. Forever!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, how can I ever thank you enough for your great sacrifice in giving your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in my place to pay the ransom price for all my sin! And dear Jesus, because you died for me, help me to love you as I ought and to live all the days of my life for you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Revelation 1:18 (NIV).
Monday, May 26, 2008
1. Less We Forget
"And He [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."1
Today in the United States is Memorial Day—a national holiday "originally held in commemoration of soldiers killed in the American Civil War (1868). Its observance later extended to all U.S. war dead. National observance is marked by the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery."2
It is good to remember every day, and to celebrate this day with special thanksgiving for all who gave their lives to give us freedom. May we also remember in prayer today all of our Christian brothers and sisters who live in countries where they don't know the freedoms that we have.
As a kid growing up in Australia during World War II, how well I remember what the Americans did for my homeland. Had it not been for the American soldiers with the backing of the American Congress and people, Australia would not know the freedom it knows today—neither would the rest of the Western World. And if it weren't for the strength and determination of America today, we would all be living in a much different world. What if a Saddam Hussein or an Osama Bin Laden had the military might of the U.S.? The consequences would be unthinkable!
Someone asked Albert Einstein what kind of weapons would be used in the third World War. "Well," he answered, "I don't know … but I can tell you what they'll use in the fourth world war. They'll use rocks."
In spite of its weaknesses Americans still enjoy many freedoms for which its citizens need to be extremely grateful. However, unless America turns back the tide that is rapidly taking it away from its Christian moral heritage and roots, it is highly improbable that our children or our children's children will continue to be blessed by the great freedoms that America still enjoys today. And for all who live in this great land of opportunity and despise, misuse, and/or abuse it, unlike many countries, America gives them the freedom to leave! Very few do though!
May we in the West never take our freedoms for granted for, "Eternal vigilance is still the price of freedom." And above all, that includes moral vigilance. For as God's Word says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."3 And as Jesus told us to remember his death for us, let us also remember all who have given their lives to give us the wonderful freedoms we know today, for there is always a great price to purchase and maintain freedom.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, we thank you especially today for all who have given their lives to keep us living in a land that knows unprecedented freedom. Help all of us in the free world awaken to our need to be eternally vigilant in moral integrity, righteous living, trusting in you. And we pray for all living in lands where they are under great bondage, and where the gospel is forbidden to be preached, proclaimed or followed. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Luke 22:19 (NKJV).
2. Encyclopedia Britannica
3. Proverbs 14:34 (NIV).
Friday, May 23, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
1. Rules Vs. Relationships
"He [Jesus] looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored."1
God is not into rules. He's into relationships. For example, when Jesus healed the man with the withered hand on the Jewish Sabbath, the religious leaders began to plot how they might kill him. Jesus was angry with these Pharisees because, among other things, they loved their rigid rules more than they loved people. They may have had religion, but they certainly didn't have Christ, Christianity, or God!
What is even more absurd is that these same religious leaders who murdered Jesus insisted that he be taken off the cross before sundown (the beginning of their religious Sabbath day) on the day they killed him because it wasn't "lawful" for him to be hanging dead on the cross on their Sabbath. To leave him there would have broken one of their laws and they would have felt ceremoniously unclean! Imagine that!
As strange as it may seem to many, religion may send more people to hell than anything else! That is, religion that depends on one's own "good works" or man-made laws, rules or traditions. These will never get anyone to heaven. God's Word, the Bible, makes it very clear that: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."2
Again, God isn't into religion or rules. He's into relationships. Jesus died so that we could be reconnected to God and have a right relationship with him. He also wants to make us whole so we can have wholesome relationships with others and live in harmony with God's laws—not to get us into God's heaven, but so we can live wholesome lives.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you gave your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins so that I could have a right relationship with you, others and myself. Help me to live by your laws that give life and not be bound by man-made religion, legalistic rules, or traditions that are not based on your Word, the Bible. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Mark 3:5 (NIV).
2. Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV).
Thursday, May 22, 2008
1. Successful Living
"God's laws are perfect. They protect us, make us wise, and give us joy and light."1
Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Nature never breaks her own laws." Fortunately for us it doesn't. If it weren't for the law of gravity, for example, the earth wouldn't stay in its orbit and we'd all fly off into outer space. If we try to break nature's laws—such as the law of gravity, we can't. It will break or even kill us!
There are universal moral laws, too, without which our society would fall apart. If we defy these laws, they will also break us, or rather; we will break ourselves against them. Most man-made laws are important too. They make living together possible. Imagine driving on today's highways without any traffic laws!
There are also laws that govern human development. For example, every child needs considerable nurture, unconditional love, acceptance and approval throughout his developmental years. When this law is violated, so are our children—many of whom are left with broken lives. There are also laws that apply to adult health, happiness, and well-being. Defy, ignore or break these laws and we break ourselves.
God has also given us spiritual laws … not to take away our joy or freedom, but to give us the fullness of life as well as eternal life. We defy these laws to our eternal destruction.
We heed these laws not because we are legalists and have to obey them, but because we want and choose to obey them because we know we need to for our own well-being and that of our loved ones. As the Psalmist wrote, "God's laws are perfect. They protect us, make us wise, and give us joy and light. God's laws are pure, eternal, just. They are more desirable than gold. They are sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb. For they warn us away from harm and give success to those who obey them."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to understand that all of your laws are for my total well-being—both for this life and for the life to come. Give me the good sense and courage to always live in harmony with your laws so that I will live in harmony with myself, others and you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Psalm 19:7 (TLB).
2. Psalm 19:7–11 (TLB).
Friday, May 09, 2008
1. Happy Mother's Day
Wishing all mothers a very Happy Mother's Day
"Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."1
Lee Strobel tells about a mother from Costa Mesa, California who told about the day her three-year old son was on her heels wherever she went. She was having trouble doing her routine chores.
"Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around I would trip over him," she said. "Several times I suggested fun activities to keep him occupied, but he would just smile and say, 'That's alright Mommy I'd rather be in here with you.' He continued to follow me and after the fifth trip, my patience wore thin and I asked him why he was following me constantly."
He said, "My Sunday school teacher told me to walk in Jesus' footsteps but I can't see him so I'm walking in yours."
The greatest way we can teach our children about and show our loved ones the love of Jesus is through the example of how we live, and how we model his love in our everyday life.
As another has said, "We raise not the children we want but the children that we the parents are."
Suggested prayer, "Dear God, please help me to so live that people, especially my children (and loved ones), will see Jesus in me and will want to follow in my footsteps and have Jesus in their life too. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (KJV).
Thursday, May 08, 2008
1. Hope and Endurance
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."1
You may have read the story about the "piano teacher who was affectionately known as Herman. One night at a university concert, a distinguished piano player suddenly became ill while performing an extremely difficult piece. No sooner had the artist retired from the stage when Herman rose from his seat in the audience, walked on stage, sat down at the piano and with great mastery completed the performance.
"Later that evening, at a party, one of the students asked Herman how he was able to perform such a demanding piece so beautifully without notice and with no rehearsal. He replied, 'In 1939, when I was a budding young concert pianist, I was arrested and placed in a Nazi concentration camp. Putting it mildly, the future looked bleak. But I knew that in order to keep the flicker of hope alive that I might someday play again, I needed to practice every day. I began by fingering a piece from my repertoire on my bare board bed late one night.
The next night I added a second piece and soon I was running through my entire repertoire. I did this every night for five years. It so happens that the piece I played tonight at the concert hall was part of that repertoire. That constant practice is what kept my hope alive. Everyday I renewed my hope that I would one day be able to play my music again on a real piano, and in freedom.'"
I'm sure that some of our readers at this time are facing great hardships and may even be in peril for their life. The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to experience great hardships, shipwreck, whippings, and being thrown into prison for his faith. He was the one who wrote today's Scripture verse encouraging the Christians in Rome (who, if they weren't going through persecution at the time, would soon be) to find encouragement and hope in the Word of God. May you and I do the same.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in times of hardship, despair and suffering, please help me to keep practicing my faith every day, putting my trust entirely in you. And please bring me through triumphantly to the last day when I will see you face to face and know you as you are. Grant that this hope and the encouragement from your Word will keep me enduring to the end. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. Romans 15:4 (NIV).
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
1. Resolving the Effects of Abuse
"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."1
A Daily Encounter reader writes, "Could you please lend some encouragement for those of us who were sexually abused as young girls by a family member. I know it is a 'taboo' subject, but in my case, because of the abuse, I am still unmarried and I don't understand why God has not answered my lifelong prayer for a mate, especially since he knows the crippling emotional pain that I faced and how desperately I need male love."
I have often wondered if the words of Jesus in today's Scripture verse didn't apply to adults who abuse small children. Child abuse, whether it is physical, emotional or sexual is a grave offense against helpless children and is psychologically very damaging-often extremely damaging.
In my work, I have worked with many a victim and have seen first-hand some of the devastating results. One woman had been used in child pornography by one of her parents in order to make money! The struggles this victim has gone through in both her personal life and marriage have been horrific. Fortunately she is both committed to God and to the healing process, and after years of hard work is now a qualified counselor, herself helping others.
Those of us in the work of ministering to others could give numerous other examples. Sad to say, abuse is in the church as well as outside of it. The reality is that hurt people hurt people. And so often parents who themselves were abused as children, unless they resolve their hurt, tend to abuse others including their own offspring.
So how does an abused victim overcome her or his problem?
First, prayer. Some say that God uses prayer and prayer alone to bring abuse victims healing. I wish this were always true. However, I haven't personally witnessed this. Yes, I believe solidly in prayer and I believe strongly in making prayer the foundation for any and all healing. But we need to pray the right prayer; that is, if I am an abuse victim, I need to ask God to confront me with the truth of what I may still be contributing in any way to my situation, to reveal to me all that I need to know about my problem, and lead me to the help I need to face and resolve all of my self-destructive feelings and beliefs and overcome them.
Second, I need to quit the blame and self-pity game. Yes, we need to acknowledge the fact that we were abused, and deal with and resolve our hurt and anger so that we get to the point of forgiveness. If I stay in the self-pity blame game, I will B - LAME. Third, most abuse victims need qualified and skillful counseling to help them work through their struggle, get to their buried feelings and express them creatively, and then to reprogram their feelings, negative thinking, and beliefs about themselves so they learn to trust again. This is not easy. It needs God's help, determination, and a solid commitment to healing, growth and recovery, and most often the help of a skilled and qualified counselor.
Suggested prayer: "Dear Heavenly Father, there is such a need for the healing of wounded, broken souls all around us. Please use me to be a 'wounded' healer and grant that the church will become a healing center for us all. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. Mark 9:42 (KJV).
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
1. Love God ... Love People
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'…and…'Love your neighbor as yourself'."1
Ron Clark of Tasmania, Australia, tells how he "read of a halfway house for men released from prison where they could stay until they got a job and somewhere to live. One young man had been in a penal institution for most of his adult life. One day as he sat in the lounge, the three-year-old daughter of the couple who ran the shelter crawled up onto his lap, put her arms around his neck and gave him a hug. With tears running down his cheeks he said, 'This is the first time I can remember anyone touching me in love.'
"A few weeks later he gave his life to Jesus Christ. God used that unique communication of physical contact and love to break the scars of all those years."
I recall reading in one of Leo Buscaglia's books about a fairly small child who went to a neighbor's house where a husband lived whose wife had died. When she returned home, her mother asked what she did. She said, "I just sat on his lap and helped him cry."
If there were one answer for the ills of the world, it could be summed up in the words of Jesus when he was asked by a lawyer, "Which was the greatest of all the commandments?" To which Jesus replied, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."2
If we truly love God, we will serve him. We will also love people and do all we can to help them because we serve God by serving people.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to love you with all of my heart, soul and mind, and love my neighbor as myself, and to serve you by giving and ministering to others. And help me to always do this with a pure motive—one that will glorify you in all that I am and do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV).
2. Matthew 22:37–40 (NIV).
Monday, May 05, 2008
1. Prosperity Gospel
"I [Jesus] have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble [tribulation]. But take heart! I have overcome the world."1
A Daily Encounter reader from a much poorer country than North America asks, "Can you please write a message on prosperity teachings. [Some American preachers]…say it is a sin to be poor and when you are prosperous (have money) you are blessed."
Amazing isn't it?
If God has gifted me to be a good businessman and to make money, and I can do that honestly, then I'd say it would be my responsibility to make money … not for personal indulgences but so I would be able to give generously in supporting the Lord's work on earth.
I for one, however, don't have that gift or that calling. Neither am I a gifted fundraiser, so financing God's work for me has always been a challenge and probably will be until the day I retire or die … whichever comes first!
However, to some degree I have been gifted with an ability to communicate. Thus it is my responsibility to be trained in this area and communicate God's truth and the gospel to the best of my ability. Not to do so would be a sin for me as the Bible says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."2
To claim that everybody is gifted to make money or to communicate effectively is not true—and, if claiming this to be true, could lead many to doubt God's blessing on their life. The same goes for those who are led to believe that it is God's will for every Christian to be financially prosperous.
Think of Jesus, for example. Was he prosperous? Not at all. Were the twelve disciples prosperous? Matthew, the tax collector, may have been at one time but through questionable methods. Peter and the other fishermen and disciples probably made just enough to make ends meet. True, Moses came from a well-to-do background, having grown up in Pharaoh's household, but he gave it all up to serve God and lead the people of Israel.
If, however, prosperity is God's will for everyone, then let's take this message to the poverty-stricken parts of the world where untold thousands of people are dying of malnutrition.
For the rest of us less prosperous ordinary folks, let's do the best we can with the gifts God has given to us to help make our world a better place in which to live.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please grant that I will always be a messenger of truth and never be misled by false promises from false prophets who claim to be speaking in the name of the Lord. If ever I teach a false message, please reveal that to me so it can be corrected immediately. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. John 16:33 (NIV).
2. James 4:17 (NIV).
Thursday, May 01, 2008
American Bible Society Releases Spanish Language Audio Bible
Produced and directed by 2008 Grammy Award winner
NEW YORK, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
The most widely read book in the world is now available on the go -- in the car, on the computer and via the iPod --- en Espanol. The American Bible Society today released La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960, a dramatized recording in Spanish of the New Testament. Produced and directed by Grammy Award winner and independent producer David Rapkin, whose audio books are frequently represented on the Publisher's Weekly list of best selling audio programs, The Reina-Valera 1960 promises to bring alive the richness of the Scriptures.
In an effort to bring the Scriptures to an international audience and make the Bible accessible to everyone, despite their level of literacy, learning style or activity, the American Bible Society continues to use a variety of vehicles to spread the Word of God.
"To carry on the Bible Society's mission to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, producing a Spanish-language, auditory-version of the Bible was a natural venture to take on," said John Cruz, vice president of the Bible Society's publishing unit, Bibles.org. "We encourage everyone to experience its life-changing message."
Available in both CD and MP3 formats, the audio Bible features native Spanish-speaking talent in a dramatized presentation with music and sound effects, designed to transport the listener back to the time of Christ.
To continue to meet the needs of the Hispanic community, Bibles.org has launched a Spanish language Web site, at La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960. The Web site makes multimedia Biblical resources easily available. To listen to La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960, order a copy and to find more information, visit www.bibles.org or www.lapalabraeterna.org.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY
Founded in 1816 and headquartered in New York City, the mission of the American Bible Society is to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so that all people may experience its life-changing message. The American Bible Society Web site is www.bibles.com.
Source: American Bible Society
CONTACT: Roy Lloyd of the American Bible Society, +1-212-408-8731,
email@example.com; or Rebecca Silver of RLM Public Relations,
+1-212-741-5106 x 218, abs@RLMpr.com, for American Bible Society
Web Site: American Bible Society
La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960