Our Daily Bread 11-28-13

How To Enjoy Things

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 33-34; 1 Peter 5

Dennis J. DeHaan In his book Daring To Draw Near, Dr. John White writes that several years earlier God had made it possible for him to acquire a lovely home with many luxuries. His feelings about the house fluctuated dramatically.

When he reminded himself that it was a gracious gift from God, he felt joy and thanksgiving. But when he would begin to compare it with those of his friends, he would feel proud because he had such a fine house and his joy would evaporate. His home would actually become a burden. All he could see were the many hedges and trees to care for and the endless odd jobs to do. White said, “While vanity clouds my eyes and burdens my heart, gratitude clears my vision and lightens my load.”

The writer of Ecclesiastes saw God at every turn in the enjoyment of material things. The power to eat the fruits of our labors and even the strength to receive and rejoice in them is from Him (5:18-19).

From beginning to end, all of life is a continuous gift-giving by God. We deserve nothing. He owes us nothing. Yet He gives us everything. If we remember this, we need not feel selfish or guilty. Whatever material blessings we have are a gift from our gracious God.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts My daily thanks employ; Nor is the least a cheerful heart,  That tastes those gifts with joy. —Addison  

God, who has given so much to us, gives one more thing—a grateful heart. —Herbert

Originally posted 2013-11-28 14:37:48.

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Our Daily Bread 12-20-13

Taking Refuge

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Micah 1-3; Revelation 11

Dennis Fisher  In the medieval world, farmers would care for their crops until an enemy appeared on the horizon. Then they would flee with their families to their fortified city for protection from the marauders.

The city of Carcassonne has been a refuge for generations. Built in the 5th century BC, this stone fortress has provided protection for Romans, Gauls, Visigoths, Franks, and French. Its sprawling size and majestic watchtowers and battlements gave confidence to those hiding inside its protective walls.

As believers, we can take refuge in the presence of the living God. The book of Proverbs tells us: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10). “The name of the Lord” refers to God’s character—abounding with faithfulness, power, and mercy. The term safe means “set on high out of danger.”

We all face threats at times that make us want to run for cover. Some seek security in material wealth or relationships. But the Christ-follower has a more secure refuge. Because of who God is and what He can do for us, our best protection ultimately rests in Him. If you are facing a threat today, go to the Lord, who is a strong tower. You will find refuge in His care.

In the times of greatest struggle, When the angry billows roll, I can always find my Savior, Christ, the Refuge of my soul. —Woodruff

In good times and bad, God is our safe resting place.

Originally posted 2013-12-20 14:32:14.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-30-14

UnknownA Fresh Start

Read: Luke 5:17-26

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. —Luke 5:31

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 9-10; Ephesians 3

David C. McCasland   In many countries, health laws prohibit reselling or reusing old mattresses. Only landfills will take them. Tim Keenan tackled the problem and today his business employs a dozen people to extract the individual components of metal, fabric, and foam in old mattresses for recycling. But that’s only part of the story. Journalist Bill Vogrin wrote, “Of all the items Keenan recycles . . . it’s the people that may be his biggest success” (The Gazette, Colorado Springs). Keenan hires men from halfway houses and homeless shelters, giving them a job and a second chance. He says, “We take guys nobody else wants.”

Luke 5:17-26 tells how Jesus healed the body and the soul of a paralyzed man. Following that miraculous event, Levi answered Jesus’ call to follow Him and then invited his fellow tax collectors and friends to a banquet in honor of the Lord (vv.27-29). When some people accused Jesus of associating with undesirables (v.30), He reminded them that healthy people don’t need a doctor—adding, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (v.32).

To everyone who feels like a “throwaway” headed for the landfill of life, Jesus opens His arms of love and offers a fresh beginning. That’s why He came!

                                 The power of God can turn a heart From evil and the power of sin;                                        The love of God can change a life And make it new and cleansed within. —Fasick

Salvation is receiving a new life.

Insight: The religious leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming divine attributes for Himself (Luke 5:21). Blasphemy is showing contempt or a lack of reverence for God or something sacred (v.20). A violation of the third commandment, it was punishable by death (Lev. 24:15-16).

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Originally posted 2014-09-30 08:00:13.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-3-14

UnknownFiltered Light

Read: 2 Corinthians 4:1-12

It is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts. —2 Corinthians 4:6

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 17-19; Ephesians 5:17-33

David C. McCasland   The painting A Trail of Light by Colorado Springs artist Bob Simpich shows a grove of aspen trees with golden leaves lit by the autumn sun. The top most leaves are brilliantly illuminated while the ground beneath the trees is a mixture of sunlight and shadows. The painter said of this contrast, “I can’t resist the light filtered through to the forest floor. It weaves a special magic.”

The apostle Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Corinth, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Paul goes on to describe the reality of life in which “we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; . . . perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (vv.8-9).

There are times when it seems that the light of God’s face is dimmed because of our difficulty, sorrow, or loss. Yet, even in these dark shadows, we can see evidence of His presence with us.

If we walk in filtered light today, may we discover anew that God’s light—Jesus—is always shining in our hearts.

             Lord, shine the light of Your face on us that we may find our way to Your salvation.                         Shine Your light into the darkness that envelops our world that we may see who You are                                                                             and show others the way to You.

In dark circumstances, God’s light is still shining in our hearts.

Insight: Despite the high price Paul paid to remain faithful to God (2 Cor. 11:23-28), he remained resilient and did not lose heart (4:1,14). He had been sustained by God’s sovereign power and sufficient grace (vv.7-9) and Christ’s resurrected life (vv.10-12).

 

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Originally posted 2014-10-03 07:41:26.

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Our Daily Bread 9-15-13

A Life That Shined

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year:   Proverbs 22-24; 2 Corinthians 8

David C. McCasland  According to the International Basketball Federation, basketball is the world’s second-most popular sport, with an estimated 450 million followers in countries around the globe. In the US, the annual NCAA tournament in March often brings mention of legendary coach John Wooden. During his 27 years at UCLA, Wooden’s teams won an unprecedented 10 National Championship titles. Yet, today, John Wooden, who died in 2010, is remembered not just for what he accomplished but for the person he was.

Wooden lived out his Christian faith and his genuine concern for others in an environment often obsessed with winning. In his autobiography, They Call Me Coach, he wrote, “I always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere.”

John Wooden honored God in all he did, and his example challenges us to do the same. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Show me the way, Lord, let my light shine As an example of good to mankind; Help them to see the patterns of Thee, Shining in beauty, lived out in me. —Neuer 

Let your light shine—whether you’re a candle in a corner or a lighthouse on a hill.

Originally posted 2013-09-15 14:10:02.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-8-14

UnknownOranges Or Milk?

Read: Hebrews 5:5-14

Solid food belongs to those who are of full age. —Hebrews 5:14

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 43-45; Hebrews 5

Jennifer Benson Schuldt   When I told my young daughter that a 3-month-old baby boy was coming to our house for a visit, she was delighted. With a child’s sense of hospitality, she suggested that we share some of our food with the baby; she thought he might enjoy a juicy orange from the bowl on our kitchen counter. I explained that the baby could drink only milk, but that he might like oranges when he was older.

The Bible uses a similar concept to describe a believer’s need for spiritual food. The basic truths of Scripture are like milk—they help new Christians thrive and grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). In contrast, “Solid food belongs to those who are of full age” (Heb. 5:14). Believers who have had time to digest and understand the basics can move on to investigate other biblical concepts and begin to teach others these truths. The rewards of spiritual maturity are discernment (v.14), godly wisdom (1 Cor. 2:6), and the ability to communicate God’s truth to others (Heb. 5:12).

Like a loving parent, God wants us to grow spiritually. He knows that feeding only on spiritual milk is not in our best interest. He wants us to move on so we can enjoy the taste of solid food.

Dear Lord, please deepen my understanding

of Your Word. Let Your Holy Spirit guide

me and enlighten my heart as I pursue Your

truth so that I might walk in Your ways.

Spiritual growth occurs when faith is cultivated.

Insight: Today’s passage encourages readers toward maturity in Christ. Far from urging detailed knowledge of difficult Bible passages or in-depth understanding of doctrine, the writer says that “full age” is characterized by something straightforward and practical. It is being able “to discern both good and evil” (v.14).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-7-14

UnknownMultiply It

Read: Revelation 22:1-5

There shall be no more curse. —Revelation 22:3

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 40-42; Hebrews 4

Anne Cetas   Amy had battled cancer for 5 years. Then the doctor told her that the treatments were failing and she had just a few weeks to live. Wanting some understanding and assurance about eternity, Amy asked her pastor, “What will heaven be like?”

He asked her what she liked most about her life on earth. She talked about walks and rainbows and caring friends and the laughter of children. “So, then, are you saying I will have all of that there?” she asked longingly.

Amy’s pastor replied, “I believe that your life there will be far more beautiful and amazing than anything you ever loved or experienced here. Think about what’s best here for you and multiply it over and over and over. That’s what I think heaven will be.”

The Bible doesn’t describe in detail what life in eternity will be like, but it does tell us that being with Christ in heaven is “far better” than our present circumstance (Phil. 1:23). “There shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:3).

Best of all, we will see the Lord Jesus face to face. Our deepest yearnings will be fully satisfied in Him.

                                          We’re thankful, Lord, for Your presence now in our lives.                                                                         But what an amazing day it will be when we meet You face to face!                                                                              Life with You in heaven will be greater by far.

To be with Jesus forever is the sum of all happiness.

Insight: In some translations of the Bible, the book of Revelation is entitled “The Revelation of St. John,” giving attention to the human author John, one of the disciples of Jesus. This title, however, is inaccurate. In Revelation 1:1, we read, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.” This is significant because the word revelation means “a revealing or unveiling.” The primary purpose of the book is to give us an unveiling of Christ Himself. Interestingly, that unveiling reveals Jesus to be the Lamb of God, and the word lamb appears in Revelation more than 25 times.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-6-14

UnknownHorse Power

Read: Job 39:19-25

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. —Psalm 139:14

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 37-39; Hebrews 3

Dave Branon   Think for a moment of the power, beauty, and majesty of a galloping horse—his head held high, his mane flying in the wind, and his legs working in unison to provide speed, power, and abandon.

What a wonderful example of God’s magnificent creation is the horse! God created it not just for our amazement and enjoyment but also as a complement to the human race (Job 39). Properly trained, the horse is fearless when we need a courageous companion. The horse was used to carry the soldier faithfully into conflict with speed (v.24) and anticipation (v.25).

Although God was using creation to teach Job about His sovereignty, we can also be reminded through this passage about our own value in God’s world. We are created not simply as a beautiful creature with a job to do but also as a creature made in God’s image. The power of the horse is amazing, but the value of each human transcends all other creatures.

God created us uniquely to have a relationship with Him and to live with Him forever. While we praise God for the magnificence of the creatures of nature, we also stand in awe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14).

Thank You, our Almighty God and Father, for Your

creation. You have provided so many majestic

creatures for us to enjoy, but help us to recognize

with thankfulness the special place we have in creation.

Of all God’s creation, only humans can experience re-creation.

Insight: In the midst of his pain (Job 1–3), Job seeks to understand why he has to suffer so much. Instead of explaining why He allowed evil to exist or human beings to suffer (chs. 4–37), God confronted and confounded Job with more questions concerning His creation. Job 38–42 is not an explanation of why man has to suffer, but a revelation of who God is! God reveals Himself as Creator (ch. 38), Sustainer (ch. 39), and Controller of all creation (chs. 40–42). Job didn’t need to fully understand cosmology, meteorology, zoology, hippology, or God’s immutable ways (Isa. 55:8-9). He only needed to trust the omnipotent and transcendent Creator God who is “very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11; see Job 42:2-3).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-5-14

UnknownLess Than The Least

Read: Genesis 32:3-12

I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant. —Genesis 32:10

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 34-36; Hebrews 2

David H. Roper  Unlike those who think highly of themselves, Jacob knew that he had been ruined by sin (Gen. 32:10). He thought himself a man unworthy of God’s grace. He had cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright (ch.27), and his brother hated him for it. Now, years later, Jacob was going to face Esau again.

“I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies,” Jacob prayed, using a word for “least” that suggests the tiniest object. “Deliver me, I pray” (32:10-11).

How odd to see those phrases side by side: I am unworthy of Your mercies . . . . Deliver me! Yet Jacob could pray for mercy because his hope lay not in his own worth, but in God’s promise to look with favor on those who throw themselves at His feet. Humility and contrition are the keys that open the heart of God. Someone has said that the best disposition for praying is being stripped of everything. It is crying out of the depths. It comes from the soul that knows its deep depravity.

Such prayers are offered by those who are thoroughly convicted of their sin and shame, but, at the same time, are convinced of God’s grace that goes out to undeserving sinners. God hears best those who cry out: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13).

Lord, I am like Jacob, in need of Your mercy.

I have failed You, and I bow at Your feet today.

Thank You for being a merciful God, ready

and able to forgive and restore me.

It is fitting for a great God to forgive great sinners.

Insight: Jacob had good reason to fear his brother Esau. With trickery and deception, Jacob had stolen both Esau’s inheritance (Gen. 25) and his blessing (Gen. 27). Esau’s last recorded words before he met Jacob again (Gen. 32) were “I will kill my brother Jacob” (27:41).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-4-14

UnknownPerception Or Reality?

Read: Mark 4:35-41

Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? —Mark 4:38

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 32-33; Hebrews 1

Bill Crowder   We often hear it said, “Perception is reality.” That idea for Americans may have dawned on September 26, 1960—the date of the first televised debate between two presidential candidates. In front of the cameras, John Kennedy appeared composed; Richard Nixon appeared nervous. The perception was that Kennedy would be a stronger leader. The debate not only turned that election, but it also changed the way politics is done in the US. Politics by perception became the rule of the day.

Sometimes perception is reality. But not always—especially our perceptions about God. When Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a small fishing vessel, a sudden storm threatened to sink the boat. With Jesus asleep and the disciples on the verge of panic, they began to stir Him, asking, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

Their question sounds similar to questions I’ve asked. At times I perceive God’s apparent inactivity as a lack of care. But His care for me goes well beyond what I can see or measure. Our God is deeply concerned for what concerns us. He urges us to place all our care upon Him, “for He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7). That is true reality.

O yes, He cares; I know He cares!

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares. —Graeff

Even when we don’t sense God’s presence, His loving care is all around us.

Insight: It appears that each of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) had a distinct audience and approach to telling Jesus’ story. Some scholars believe that Mark’s telling of the story was directed primarily to a Roman audience, and that his approach to Christ was to present Him as the “divine Servant.” This theme is rooted in Jesus’ own words about His mission when He said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This theme would have had a strong connection for a Roman audience in the first century.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-3-14

UnknownDoes God Care?

Read: Psalm 30

Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper! —Psalm 30:10

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 30-31; Philemon

Randy Kilgore   Minnie and George Lacy were faced with some questions: “Is Jesus enough? Is our relationship with Christ sufficient to sustain us? Will He be enough to help us want to go on living? Does He care?”

While serving as missionaries in 1904, the Lacys’ youngest daughter fell ill. Then in rapid succession, all five of their children died from scarlet fever, none living to see the new year. In letters to the mission board George Lacy wrote about their deep loneliness and grief: “Sometimes it seems more than we can bear.” But then he added, “The Lord is with us and is wonderfully helping us.” In this, their darkest time, they found that Jesus was near and He was enough.

Many of us will face moments when we will wonder if we can go on. If our health fails, if our job disappears, if we lose those closest to us, will we find our relationship with the Lord real enough to keep us pressing forward?

The psalmist reminds us of God’s presence and faithfulness (Ps. 30). When he was deeply depressed, he cried out, “Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!” (v.10). God gave Him healing and comfort (vv.2-3).

As believers in Jesus, we will never lack what we need to persevere. The Lord will always be near.

Though tempted and sadly discouraged,

My soul to this refuge will flee

And rest in the blessed assurance,

“My grace is sufficient for thee.” —Anon.

Faith in an all-sufficient Christ enables us to press on.

Insight: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). David was no stranger to sadness and grief. In these two poignant lines of Scripture we see how anguish can disturb sleep and seem to last throughout the night. But there is always the assurance that each new day brings the hope of God’s providential deliverance and help. This realization can bring joy even to those who grieve.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 5-29-14

UnknownQuest For Stolen Treasure

Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 7-9; John 11:1-29

Joe Stowell    In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the dwarfs gathered to go up against Smaug, the fierce dragon, to retrieve their stolen treasure. In spite of the dangerously frightening quest, Balin, the dwarfs’ second-in-command, expressed confidence in Thorin: “There is one I could follow. There is one I could call King.” His commitment to the mission, as dangerous as it was, was empowered by his confidence in his leader.

At the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He gathered a group around Him that would join Him in the kingdom task of rescuing the treasure of lost souls from our enemy, Satan. When He called them, He said, “Follow Me” (Matt. 4:19). For them, following Jesus would mean a radical transition from catching fish to the enterprise of being fishers of men and women who were lost in the grip of sin. But the task would not always be easy; Jesus referred to the quest as taking up our cross to follow Him (see Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).

How do we stay engaged in the battle to reclaim Christ’s lost treasures when it seems intimidating or awkward? By keeping our eye on our Leader. He indeed is worthy—One we can follow, the One we call King!

Lord, in the face of intimidation and fear, when seeking to engage others with the gospel, remind me that they are Your lost treasures. I count it a privilege to follow You into others’ lives. 

Follow your Leader into the lives of those around you.

Insight: These two pairs of brothers (Peter and Andrew, James and John) were the earliest disciples to respond to Jesus’ call. Most likely, Peter, Andrew, and John had an earlier encounter with Jesus (John 1:35-42). In today’s passage, the Lord is calling them to abandon their fishing trade and to follow Him fully and permanently (Matt. 4:20,22). Later, Peter declared that they had left all to follow Jesus (19:27). These four had been partners in the fishing business (Luke 5:10). Peter, James, and John were also privileged to become the inner circle among Jesus’ 12 disciples (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33).

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Originally posted 2014-05-29 07:56:28.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-2-14

UnknownHands Off!

Read: Psalm 46

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 27-29; Titus 3

Joe Stowell   I remember bobbing for apples when I was a child, a game that required me to have my hands tied behind my back. Trying to grab a floating apple with my teeth without the use of my hands was a frustrating experience. It reminded me of the vital importance of our hands—we eat with them, greet with them, and use them to do just about anything that is vital to our existence.

When I read Psalm 46:10, I find it interesting that God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The Hebrew word for “still” means to “cease striving,” or, literally, “to put our hands at our side.” At first glance this seems to be a rather risky piece of advice, since our first instinct in trouble is to keep our hands on the situation and control it to our advantage. God in essence is saying, “Hands off! Let Me deal with your problem, and rest assured that the outcome is in My hands.”

But knowing when to take our hands off and let God work can make us feel vulnerable. Unless, that is, we believe that God is indeed “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v.1) and that “the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (v.7). In the midst of trouble, we can rest in God’s care.

Lord, forgive me for always wanting

to manage my own affairs.

Teach me to trust in Your wise and timely

intervention in my life and to keep my hands out of Your way.

When we put our problems in God’s hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.

Insight: We often think of this passage in times of busyness and stress, and we emphasize that the stillness means “to cease striving.” But the imagery in verses 2-4 and 8-9 (the destruction of the earth and the weapons of war) suggests that even when self-preservation is the aim, our hands should be at our sides and our trust should be in God.

 

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OUR DAILY BREAD 11-1-14

UnknownMosaic

Read: Ephesians 2:10-22

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. —Ephesians 2:10

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 24-26; Titus 2

Julie Ackerman Link   For 3 weeks every fall season, our city becomes an art gallery. Nearly 2,000 artists from around the world display their creations in galleries, museums, hotels, parks, city streets, parking lots, restaurants, churches, and even in the river.

Among my favorite entries are mosaics made from small pieces of colored glass. The winning entry in 2011 was a 9 x 13-foot stained-glass mosaic of the crucifixion by artist Mia Tavonatti. While viewing the artwork, I heard the artist discuss how many times she had cut herself while shaping the pieces of glass for her mosaic.

As I gazed at the beautiful rendition of what was a horrific event, I saw more than a representation of the crucifixion—I saw a picture of the church, the body of Christ. In each piece of glass I saw an individual believer, beautifully shaped by Christ to fit together into the whole (Eph. 2:16,21). In the artist’s story, I recognized the shedding of Jesus’ blood so that this unity could take place. And in the finished artwork, I saw the act of love required to complete the project despite pain and sacrifice.

We who believe in Christ are a work of art created by God to show the greatness of a Savior who makes something beautiful out of the broken pieces of our lives.

The church’s one foundation

Is Jesus Christ her Lord,

She is His new creation,

By water and the Word. —Stone

Christ gave everything to make something beautiful of His church.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-31-14

UnknownWhat Love Is

Read: Romans 5:1-8

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 22-23; Titus 1

Bill Crowder   Years ago I asked a young man who was engaged to be married, “How do you know that you love her?” It was a loaded question, intended to help him look at his heart’s motives for the upcoming marriage. After several thoughtful moments, he responded, “I know I love her because I want to spend the rest of my life making her happy.”

We discussed what that meant—and the price tag attached to the selflessness of constantly seeking the best for the other person, rather than putting ourselves first. Real love has a lot to do with sacrifice.

That idea is in line with the wisdom of the Bible. In the Scriptures there are several Greek words for love but the highest form is agape love—love that is defined and driven by self-sacrifice. Nowhere is this more true than in the love our heavenly Father has shown us in Christ. We are deeply valued by Him. Paul stated, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

If sacrifice is the true measure of love, there could be no more precious gift than Jesus: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16 nlt).

Amazing love!

How can it be

That Thou, my God,

Shouldst die for me? —Wesley

The measure of love is what you are willing to give up for it.

Insight: As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, Paul mentions two great benefits for the follower of Christ. In verse 1, he says that we have “peace with God,” an idea that he unpacks in Philippians 4, where we read of the incomprehensible peace of God, but also the relationship we have with the God of peace Himself (vv.8-9). In Romans 5:2, Paul also declares that we now have “access” to God. This was a stunning idea that he explained more fully in Colossians 1:21, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” We receive the gifts of peace with God and access to God because of Christ’s loving sacrifice on our behalf.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-30-14

UnknownMusic And Megaphone

Read: 2 Corinthians 3:17-4:7

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. —2 Corinthians 4:7

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 20-21; 2 Timothy 4

David C. McCasland   Christopher Locke buys old trumpets, trombones, and French horns and transforms them into acoustic amplifiers for iPhones and iPads. His creations are modeled on the trumpetlike speakers used in the first phonographs during the late 1800s. Music played through Christopher’s AnalogTelePhonographers has a “louder, cleaner, richer, deeper sound” than what is heard from the small speakers in the digital devices. Along with being interesting works of art, these salvaged brass instruments require no electrical power as they amplify the music people love to hear.

Paul’s words to the followers of Jesus in Corinth remind us today that in living for Christ and sharing Him with others, we are not the music but only a megaphone. “For we do not preach ourselves,” Paul wrote, “but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). Our purpose is not to become the message, but to convey it through our lives and our lips. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (v.7).

If an old horn can amplify music, then perhaps our flawed lives can magnify the goodness of God. We’re the megaphone; the music and the power come from Him!

Thank You, Lord, that You can take our lives and use them in ways we never thought possible. Help us to be the instruments that convey the music of Your love.

Nothing is unusable in God’s hands.

Insight: Paul was careful to ensure that his motives and methods were completely aboveboard (2 Cor. 4:2). Careful not to be accused of being a huckster who profited monetarily from the ministry (2:17), Paul ensured that his message was true, his motives were pure, and his methods were proper (4:2). He also spoke of the need for integrity in ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-10.

 

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-29-14

UnknownShadowed

Read: Jeremiah 42:1-12

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? —Psalm 27:1

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 18-19; 2 Timothy 3

Mart DeHaan   Someone was shadowing me. In a darkened hallway, I turned the corner to go up a flight of stairs and was alarmed by what I saw, stopping dead in my tracks. It happened again a few days later. I came around the back of a favorite coffee shop and saw the large shape of a person coming at me. Both incidents ended with a smile, however. I’d been frightened by my own shadow!

The prophet Jeremiah talked about the difference between real and imagined fears. A group of his Jewish countrymen asked him to find out whether the Lord wanted them to stay in Jerusalem or return to Egypt for safety because they feared the king of Babylon (Jer. 42:1-3). Jeremiah told them that if they stayed and trusted God, they didn’t need to be afraid (vv.10-12). But if they returned to Egypt, the king of Babylon would find them (vv.15-16).

In a world of real dangers, God had given Israel reason to trust Him in Jerusalem. He had already rescued them from Egypt. Centuries later, the long-awaited Messiah died for us to deliver us from our own sin and fear of death. May our Almighty God show us today how to live in the security of His shadow, rather than in shadowy fears of our own making.

Trust when your skies are darkening,

Trust when your light grows dim,

Trust when the shadows gather,

Trust and look up to Him. —Anon.

Under the protecting shadow of God’s wing, the little shadows of life lose their terror.

 

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-28-14

UnknownWorking For The Wind

Read: Ecclesiastes 5:10-17

What profit has he who has labored for the wind? —Ecclesiastes 5:16

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 15-17; 2 Timothy 2

Jennifer Benson Schuldt  Howard Levitt lost his $200,000 Ferrari on a flooded Toronto highway. He had driven into what seemed like a puddle before realizing that the water was much deeper and rising quickly. When the water reached the Ferrari’s fenders, its 450-horsepower engine seized. Thankfully he was able to escape the car and get to high ground.

Howard’s soggy sports car reminds me of Solomon’s observation that “riches perish through misfortune” (Eccl. 5:14). Natural disasters, theft, and accidents may claim our dearest belongings. Even if we manage to protect them, we certainly can’t haul them with us to heaven (v.15). Solomon asked, “What profit has he who has labored for the wind?” (v.16). There is futility in working only to acquire belongings that will ultimately disappear.

There is something that doesn’t spoil and we can “take with us.” It is possible to store up eternal heavenly treasure. Pursuing virtues such as generosity (Matt. 19:21), humility (5:3), and spiritual endurance (Luke 6:22-23) will yield lasting rewards that can’t be destroyed. Will the kind of treasure you seek expire on earth? Or, are you seeking “those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God”? (Col. 3:1).

                  Dear God, please give me a passion for the unseen, eternal rewards that You offer.                                               Make me indifferent to the temporary pleasures of this world.

Treasures on earth can’t compare with the treasures in heaven.

Insight: The book of Ecclesiastes is often viewed with skepticism, and its message is considered dark and hopeless. Today’s passage exemplifies much of the book—the emptiness of riches and the transitory nature of things of this earth. But as with many great stories, this book saves the best for last. After all the reflections and lessons learned, the writer’s final conclusion is to “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (12:13). The things of God are what truly matter.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-27-14

UnknownNew To The Family

Read: Luke 15:3-7

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. —Luke 15:7

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 12-14; 2 Timothy 1

Dave Branon   While on a ministry trip with a Christian high school chorale to Jamaica, we witnessed an illustration of God’s love in action. On the day we visited an orphanage for disabled children and teens, we learned that Donald, one of the boys our kids had interacted with—a teen with cerebral palsy—was going to be adopted.

When the adopting couple arrived at the “base” where we were staying, it was a joy to talk to them about Donald. But what was even better was what happened later. We were at the base when Donald and his new parents arrived just after they had picked him up at the orphanage. As the brand-new mom embraced her son, our students gathered around her and sang praise songs. Tears flowed. Tears of joy. And Donald was beaming!

Later, one of the students said to me, “This reminds me of what it must be like in heaven when someone is saved. The angels rejoice because someone has been adopted into God’s family.” Indeed, it was a picture of the joy of heaven when someone new joins God’s forever family by faith in Christ. Jesus spoke of that grand moment when He said, “There will be . . . joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7).

Praise God that He has adopted us into His family. No wonder the angels rejoice!

The One who made the heavens,

Who died on Calvary,

Rejoices with His angels

When one soul is set free. —Fasick

Angels rejoice when we repent.

Insight: In Luke 15, Jesus delivers a trilogy of parables to describe the pursuing love of God for the lost. The first, seen here in verses 3-7, displays the shepherd desperately pursuing his lost sheep. The second, in verses 8-10, pictures a woman tenaciously searching for a lost coin. The third, in verses 11-32, tells of a father’s compassion for a wayward child and of his grace and forgiveness when that prodigal returns home. In each parable, the result of finding the lost is a celebration (vv.6,9,22-24) that depicts the great joy experienced in heaven when the lost return to their heavenly Father.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-26-14

UnknownAll Together

Read: Psalm 98:1-9

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. —Psalm 98:4

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 9-11; 1 Timothy 6

Dennis Fisher   For years my wife’s piano and my banjo had an uncomfortable and infrequent relationship. Then, after Janet bought me a new guitar for my birthday, she expressed an interest in learning to play my old guitar. She is a very capable musician, and soon we were, together, playing songs of praise on our guitars. I like to think that a new kind of “praise connection” has filled our home.

When the psalmist was inspired to write of worshiping God, he began with this exhortation: “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises” (Ps. 98:4). He called for us to “sing to the Lord” with instruments such as harps and trumpets and horns (vv.5-6). He commanded all of the earth to “shout joyfully to the Lord” (v.4). In this mighty orchestration of praise, the rolling sea is to roar with exaltation, the rivers are to clap their hands, and the hills are to sing out in joy. All the human race and creation are together called to praise the Lord in “a new song” of praise, “for He has done marvelous things” (v.1).

Today let your heart connect with others and God’s creation in singing songs of praise to the mighty Creator and Redeemer.

Let us celebrate together,

Lift our voice in one accord,

Singing of God’s grace and mercy

And the goodness of the Lord. —Sper

God can use ordinary instruments to produce a concert of praise.

Insight: Psalm 98 pictures and celebrates God the Savior (vv.1-3), God the King (vv.4-6), and God the Judge (vv.7-9). It also celebrates His mercy and faithfulness to His people (v.3). It extols God as the righteous King who will rule the whole world with justice and fairness (v.9). This call to celebrate is universal, extending to the congregation at the temple (v.1), to the nations (v.2), and to the whole earth (v.4).

 

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