OUR DAILY BREAD 9-17-14

UnknownGiving It To God

Read: Mark 10:17-22

[He] went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. —Mark 10:22

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 27-29; 2 Corinthians 10

Dave Branon   A hero to a generation of people who grew up after World War II, Corrie ten Boom left a legacy of godliness and wisdom. A victim of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, she survived to tell her story of faith and dependence on God during horrendous suffering.

“I have held many things in my hands,” Corrie once said, “and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.”

Corrie was well acquainted with loss. She lost family, possessions, and years of her life to hateful people. Yet she learned to concentrate on what could be gained spiritually and emotionally by putting everything in the hands of her heavenly Father.

What does that mean to us? What should we place in God’s hands for safekeeping? According to the story of the rich young man in Mark 10, everything. He held abundance in his hands, but when Jesus asked him to give it up, he refused. He kept his possessions and he failed to follow Jesus—and as a result he “went away sorrowful” (v.22).

Like Corrie ten Boom, we can find hope by putting everything in God’s hands and then trusting Him for the outcome.

All to Jesus I surrender,

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him,

In His presence daily live. —Van de Venter

No life is more secure than a life surrendered to God.

Insight: In Mark 10:1-16, Jesus taught about the demands of discipleship, including the necessity for childlike faith. Here in the encounter with a rich young man, Jesus spoke of the need to love God totally—fully and unreservedly. This young leader lacked unrivaled allegiance to God because he loved his earthly possessions more (v.22). In His teaching, Jesus had warned, “No servant can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). The young man’s actions sadly illustrated this principle. His story is also told in Matthew 19:16-22 and Luke 18:18-23. Paul too warned of the subtle lure of material riches in 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-16-14

UnknownA Heart For Prayer

Read: Psalm 27:7-14

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” —Psalm 27:8

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 25-26; 2 Corinthians 9

Anne Cetas   While traveling on an airplane with her 4- and 2-year-old daughters, a young mom worked at keeping them busy so they wouldn’t disturb others. When the pilot’s voice came over the intercom for an announcement, Catherine, the younger girl, paused from her activities and put her head down. When the pilot finished, she whispered, “Amen.” Perhaps because there had been a recent natural disaster, she thought the pilot was praying.

Like that little girl, I want a heart that turns my thoughts toward prayer quickly. I think it would be fair to say that the psalmist David had that kind of heart. We get hints of that in Psalm 27 as he speaks of facing difficult foes (v.2). He said, “Your face, Lord, I will seek” (v.8). Some say that David was remembering the time he was fleeing from Saul (1 Sam. 21:10) or from his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15:13-14) when he wrote this psalm. Prayer and dependence on God were in the forefront of David’s thinking, and he found Him to be his sanctuary (Ps. 27:4-5).

We need a sanctuary as well. Perhaps reading or praying this psalm and others could help us to develop that closeness to our Father-God. As God becomes our sanctuary, we’ll more readily turn our hearts toward Him in prayer.

Teach me, Father, what it means to run to and have You as my sanctuary. Help me not to worry about the words I say, but just to express my heart to You and to nestle down close to You.

In prayer, God can still our hearts and quiet our minds.

Insight: Many of the psalms are prayers to God, and many are songs to encourage others concerning the goodness and love of God. Today’s psalm contains both elements. While David cries out to God for guidance and protection in verses 7-13, he ends his psalm with a message to the reader (v.14). Taking the lessons and thoughts expressed in his prayer, David encourages the reader to trust the Lord and wait upon Him as he has done.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-15-14

UnknownThe Blame Game

Read: Genesis 16:1-6; 21:8-13

My wrong be upon you! . . . The Lord judge between you and me. —Genesis 16:5

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

Marion Stroud   When Jenny’s husband left her for another woman, she vowed that she would never meet his new wife. But when she realized that her bitterness was damaging her children’s relationship with their father, she asked for God’s help to take the first steps toward overcoming bitterness in a situation she couldn’t change.

In Genesis 16, we read the story of a couple to whom God promised a baby. When Sarai suggested that her husband Abram have a child with their servant Hagar, she wasn’t fully trusting God for the child He had promised. When the baby was born, Hagar despised Sarai (Gen. 16:3-4), and Sarai became bitter (vv.5-6).

Hagar had been the slave with no rights and suddenly she was special. How did Sarai react? By blaming others, including Abram (v.5). God’s promise was realized in the birth of Isaac 14 years later. Even his weaning celebration was spoiled by Sarai’s attitude (21:8-10).

It may never have been easy for Sarai to have lived with the consequences of their decision to go ahead of God. It may have taken a miracle of grace to change her attitude but that could have transformed everything. Sarai couldn’t reverse the decision, but through God’s strength, she could have lived with it differently, and given God the glory.

Thank You, Lord, that though our situations may not change, Your grace is strong enough to change us in our situations. Help us as we struggle sometimes to live in this sinful world.

By God’s grace, we can reflect His light in the dark times.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-14-14

UnknownGentle Jesus

Read: Matthew 18:1-10

Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 18:3

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 19-21; 2 Corinthians 7

David C. McCasland   Charles Wesley (1707–1788) was a Methodist evangelist who wrote more than 9,000 hymns and sacred poems. Some, like “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” are great, soaring hymns of praise. But his poem “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild,” first published in 1742, is a child’s quiet prayer that captures the essence of how all of us should seek the Lord in sincere, simple faith.

Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb,

In Thy gracious hands I am;

Make me, Savior, what Thou art,

Live Thyself within my heart.

When some followers of Jesus were jockeying for position in His kingdom, the Lord “called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt. 18:2-3).

Not many children seek position or power. Instead, they want acceptance and security. They cling to the adults who love and care for them. Jesus never turned children away.

The last stanza of Wesley’s poem shows a childlike desire to be just like Jesus: “I shall then show forth Thy praise / Serve Thee all my happy days; / Then the world shall always see / Christ, the holy Child, in me.”

Father, give me the faith of a little child. I want to know Your love and care, and to rest in Your embrace. Grant my desire to be like You in all my ways that I might live for Your honor.

Faith shines brightest in a childlike heart.

Insight: Jesus’ warning in Matthew 18:6 would have been received with the weight it deserved. The ancient Hebrews viewed the sea as a place of danger and chaos. As a result, there were few things more feared than death by drowning, the picture Jesus painted here.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-13-14

UnknownThink Of Them No More

Read: Isaiah 43:22-28

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. —Isaiah 43:25

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 16-18; 2 Corinthians 6

David H. Roper   My early years as a believer in Christ were laden with foreboding. I had the impression that when Jesus comes back, all my sins will be portrayed on a giant screen for everyone to see.

I know now that God chooses not to remember against me a single one of my transgressions. Every sin has been buried in the deepest sea, never to be exhumed and examined again.

Amy Carmichael wrote, “A day or two ago I was thinking rather sadly of the past—so many sins and failures and lapses of every kind. I was reading Isaiah 43, and in verse 24 I saw myself: ‘You have wearied me with your iniquities.’ And then for the first time I noticed that there is no space between verse 24 and verse 25: ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.’”

Indeed, when our Lord comes back He will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:5). On that day our works will be tried and we may suffer loss, but we will not be judged for sin (3:11-15). God will see what Christ has done for us. He “will not remember [our] sins.”

Where no far-reaching tide with its powerful sweep May stir the dark waves of forgetfulness deep, I have buried them there where no mortal can see! I’ve cast all thy sins in the depths of the sea. —Anon.

When God saves us, our sins are forgiven forever.

Insight: God’s people had been unfaithful and had stubbornly refused to repent and return to God (Isa. 43:22-24). Yet despite their sins and guilt, God in His mercy said He would forgive them (v.25), even though they were undeserving of His favor (v.26). From the time of “your first father and your mediators”—perhaps referring to Abraham and other covenantal leaders such as Moses—they were all sinners (v.27). Although their sins would be forgiven, they would still face the consequences of their actions and be disciplined through the exile (v.28).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-12-14

UnknownThe Small Giant

Read: 1 Samuel 17:32-37

The Lord . . . will deliver me. —1 Samuel 17:37

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 13-15; 2 Corinthians 5 

Poh Fang Chia    The towering enemy strides into the Valley of Elah. He stands 9 feet tall, and his coat of armor, made of many small bronze plates, glimmers in the sunlight. The shaft of his spear is wrapped with cords so it can spin through the air and be thrown with greater distance and accuracy. Goliath looks invincible.

But David knows better. While Goliath may look like a giant and act like a giant, in contrast to the living God he is small. David has a right view of God and therefore a right view of the circumstances. He sees Goliath as one who is defying the armies of the living God (1 Sam. 17:26). He confidently appears before Goliath in his shepherd’s clothes, armed with only his staff, five stones, and a sling. His confidence is not in what he has but in who is with him (v.45).

What “Goliath” are you facing right now? It may be an impossible situation at work, a financial difficulty, or a broken relationship. With God all things are small in comparison. Nothing is too big for Him. The words of the hymnwriter Charles Wesley remind us: “Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to that alone; laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.” God is able to deliver you if that’s His desire, and He may do so in ways you don’t expect.

Not to the strong is the battle, Not to the swift is the race; Yet to the true and the faithful Victory is promised through grace. —Crosby

Don’t tell God how big your giants are. Tell your giants how big your God is.

Insight: David was young at the time he faced Goliath, so his courage in confronting the giant is impressive. His confidence was in God and was based on His actions in the past. David considered the heroic actions of his shepherding days (17:34-35) as victories of the Lord (v.37). His boldness was encouraged by the faithful strength of God.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-11-14

UnknownBorn To Rescue

Read: Mark 10:35-45

For 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

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 10-12; 2 Corinthians 4

Dennis Fisher   After the terrorist attack and the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, Cynthia Otto took care of the search-and-rescue dogs. Years later she established a Working Dog Center where young pups are put through specialized training to prepare them to help victims of disaster.

Otto made this comment about these rescue animals: “There are so many jobs now that dogs are being used for . . . and they can save lives.” Otto said that these puppies will one day give vital aid to people in life-threatening circumstances. They are “born” to rescue others.

The Bible tells us of the Messiah who was born to rescue humanity from the penalty of sin. What He did rises above all earthly comparison. Two thousand years ago, God Himself became human in order to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. When Jesus became a man, He understood and proclaimed that He was born to rescue (John 12:27). “For 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).

Let us praise our wonderful Savior—Jesus Christ—who was born to save all who will accept His offer of salvation.

Use us, Lord, and make us humble, Rescue us from foolish pride; And when we begin to stumble, Turn our thoughts to Christ who died. —Sper

Christ came to seek and to save the lost.

Insight: James and John’s request to be allowed to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in the kingdom, followed by their audacious claim that they could indeed “drink the cup” that awaited Jesus (Mark 10:38), reveals that they failed to fully understand the gravity of what that cup entailed—Christ’s upcoming crucifixion.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-10-14

UnknownOne Amazing Letter

Read: Psalm 119:9-16

I will not forget Your word. —Psalm 119:16

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 8-9; 2 Corinthians 3

Dave Branon   Once in a while my wife and I open the mail to find a letter with no words on it. When we take the “letter” out of the envelope, we see a piece of paper with nothing more on it than a colorful mark made with a felt pen. Those “letters” warm our hearts because they’re from our preschool granddaughter Katie, who lives in another state. Even without words, these letters tell us that she loves us and is thinking about us.

We all cherish letters from those we love and those who love us. That’s why there is so much encouragement in the fact that our heavenly Father has given us a letter called the Bible. The value of Scripture goes beyond its words of power, challenge, and wisdom. Amid all of the stories, teaching, and guidance this Book provides, the overriding idea is that God loves us and has planned our rescue. It tells us of His love in overseeing our existence (Ps. 139), meeting our needs (Matt. 6:31-34), comforting us (2 Cor. 1:3-4), and saving us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus (Rom. 1:16-17).

You are loved beyond imagination. God says so in His inspired and inspiring message to you. No wonder the psalmist wrote, “I will not forget Your word” (Ps. 119:16). It is one amazing letter!

Lord, help me to examine the Bible’s pages, understand its truths, and apply its teachings to my life. May I be as excited about Your letter to me as I am about a letter, email, or Facebook posting by a friend.

The love of God for us is revealed in His letter to us—the Bible.

Insight: Psalm 119 is the longest psalm and chapter in the Bible. The focus of its 176 verses is God and His Word. God is mentioned in every verse of this psalm, and the entire psalm speaks of the primacy, authority, sufficiency, and efficacy of God’s Word in the life of the believer. It is a personal prayer for help. Oppressed and persecuted by powerful enemies who scorned and ridiculed his beliefs in God (vv.23,157,161), the unnamed psalmist found great strength and much comfort by trusting, keeping, and meditating on the Word of God. In this passage (vv.9-16), we see that victory over sin comes about only when we hide, meditate, contemplate, and delight in God’s Word.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-9-14

UnknownA Possum’s Pose

Read: 1 Samuel 28:5-6, 15-20

[The Lord] neither faints nor is weary. —Isaiah 40:28

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 6-7; 2 Corinthians 2

Jennifer Benson Schuldt   Possums are known for their ability to play dead. When this happens, the possum’s body wilts, its tongue flops out, and its heart rate declines. After about 15 minutes, the animal revives. Interestingly, animal experts do not believe that possums purposefully play dead to evade predators. They faint involuntarily when they become overwhelmed and anxious!

King Saul had a similar response to danger at the end of his reign. Saul “fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid . . . . And there was no strength in him” (1 Sam. 28:20). He responded this way when the prophet Samuel told him that the Philistines would attack Israel on the next day, and that the Lord was not going to help him. Because Saul’s life had been characterized by disobedience, rashness, and jealousy, God was no longer guiding him (v.16), and his efforts to defend himself and the Israelites would be futile (v.19).

We may be in a place of weakness and despair because of our rebellion or because of the difficulties of life. Although anxiety can steal our strength, God can renew it as we lean on Him (Isa. 40:31). He “neither faints nor is weary” (v.28), and He is willing to reach down and revive us when we can’t take another step.

Jesus, You mean the world to me. You are my life and my all. I’m thankful for the strength that You give from day to day. I know that without You I am nothing.

The secret of peace is to give every anxious care to God.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-8-14

UnknownSow What?

Read: Mark 4:1-20

He who sows righteousness will have a sure reward. —Proverbs 11:18

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 3-5; 2 Corinthians 1

Julie Ackerman Link   On the clock tower of my alma mater is an Art Deco bas-relief sculpture titled The Sower. The inscription beneath it is from Galatians 6:7, “Whatsoever a man soweth.” Michigan State University remains a leader in agricultural research, but despite many improvements in farming techniques and crop production, this fact remains: Seeds of corn will not produce a crop of beans.

Jesus used many farming metaphors to explain the kingdom of God. In the parable of the sower (Mark 4), He compared the Word of God to seeds sown in different types of soil. As the parable indicates, the sower sows indiscriminately, knowing that some seed will fall in places where it will not grow.

Like Jesus, we are to sow good seed in all places at all times. God is responsible for where it lands and how it grows. The important thing is that we sow. God does not want us to reap destruction, so He wants us to sow what is good and right (Prov. 11:18). The apostle Paul elaborated on the metaphor when he warned believers not to sow seeds of corruption. Instead, we are to sow seeds that will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:8).

The answer to the question, “Sow what?” is “Sow what you want to reap.” To reap a good harvest in your life, start sowing seeds of goodness.

Sow a thought, reap an act; Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny. —Anon.

A buried seed brings fruit; a selfless life reaps an eternal harvest.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-14-14

UnknownGrain On The Mountaintop

Read: Psalm 72:12-20

There will be an abundance of grain in the earth, on the top of the mountains. —Psalm 72:16

Bible in a Year: Psalms 10-12; Acts 19:1-20

David H. Roper   I’ve been on a number of mountaintops in the US in my time, and I can tell you that not much grows up there. The summits of mountains are bare rock and lichen. That’s not where you would normally find an abundance of grain.

But Solomon, who wrote Psalm 72, asked God for “an abundance of grain . . . on the top of the mountains,” to characterize his reign as king. If grain on the mountain is so unusual, what is Solomon suggesting? That God’s power can produce results in even the most unpromising soil?

Perhaps you think of yourself as a little person, with very little to bring to the kingdom. Take courage: God can produce an abundant harvest through you. This is one of the ironies of faith: God uses the insignificant to accomplish the great. Not many of us are wise or noble; most of us are anonymous and far from extraordinary. Yet all of us can be used. And contrary to what we might think, it is because of our weakness that we can be used by God (1 Cor. 1:27-29; 2 Cor. 12:10).

It’s possible to be too big or proud for God to use, but we can never be too little. “Out of weakness” we are “made strong” (Heb. 11:34). By God’s great power, we can do all that He has called us to do.

Lord, You work through such common things—those of us with flaws and weaknesses. We are in awe of Your power and humbled by Your choice of us. Our hearts long to be faithful to You.

To experience God’s power, we must first admit that we are weak.

Insight: Solomon and wisdom are virtually synonymous. As great as Solomon was and as much as he did for Israel through his kingship—economic prosperity, peace, arts, and culture—he still fell short of what God can do. In today’s psalm, Solomon, the man who built golden temples and palaces, reflects on the power of God to save souls and to bring growth to barren places (72:13,16). God is the only one who truly does wondrous things (v.18).

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Originally posted 2014-07-14 07:37:17.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-6-14

UnknownLet Me Be Singing

Read: Psalm 150

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. —Psalm 150:6

Bible in a Year: Psalms 148-150; 1 Corinthians 15:29-58

David C. McCasland   When I asked a friend how his mother was getting along, he told me that dementia had robbed her of the ability to remember a great many names and events from the past. “Even so,” he added, “she can still sit down at the piano and, without sheet music, beautifully play hymns by memory.”

Plato and Aristotle wrote about the helping, healing power of music 2,500 years ago. But centuries before that, the biblical record was saturated with song.

From the first mention of Jubal, “the father of all those who play the harp and flute” (Gen. 4:21), to those who “sing the song of Moses, the servant of God and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3), the pages of the Bible resonate with music. The Psalms, often called “the Bible’s songbook,” point us to the love and faithfulness of God. They conclude with an unending call to worship, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 150:6).

Today we need God’s ministry of music in our hearts as much as any time in history. Whatever each day brings, may the evening find us singing, “To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, my God of mercy” (59:17).

Lord, I don’t know what will come this day or farther into the future, but I’m grateful that You’re by my side. Grant me a spirit of praise and thanksgiving in whatever lies ahead.

Praise to God comes naturally when you count your blessings.

Insight: The last five songs of Israel’s hymnbook are also known as Hallelujah Psalms, because each of them (Psalms 146–150) begins and ends with the refrain “Praise the Lord” (Hebrew Hallelujah). Psalm 150 answers three important questions: Who should praise God? (vv.1,6). Why should God be praised? (v.2). How is He to be praised? (vv.3-5). The psalmist calls on “everything that has breath” to worship God (v.6)—including creatures on earth and angels in the heavens (v.1). We should praise God for what He has done (“His mighty acts” v.2) and for who He is (“His excellent greatness” v.2). We are to praise Him with our voices, with the accompaniment of all kinds of instruments, and with dancing (vv.3-6). “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (v.6) is indeed a fitting final doxology to God.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-5-14

UnknownWith Him Forever!

Read: James 4:11-17

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. —James 4:14

Bible in a Year: Psalms 146-147; 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

Bill Crowder   In 1859, during the turbulent years prior to America’s Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had the opportunity to speak to the Agricultural Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As he spoke, he shared with them the story of an ancient monarch’s search for a sentence that was “true and appropriate in all times and situations.” His wise men, faced with this heady challenge, gave him the sentence, “And this, too, shall pass away.”

This is certainly true of our present world—it is constantly in the process of deterioration. And it’s not happening just to the world; we also face the reality in our own lives that our days are numbered. James wrote, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Although our current life is temporary and will pass away, the God we worship and serve is eternal. He has shared that eternity with us through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. He promises us a life that will never pass away: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

When Christ returns, He will take us home to be with Him forever!

Awake, my soul and sing Of Him who died for thee, And hail Him as thy matchless King Through all eternity. —Bridges/Thring

For hope today, remember the end of the story— eternity with God.

Insight: The New Testament book of James is often compared to the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Both contain a great deal of practical instruction about daily life lived in faith. Proverbs says that if we acknowledge God, He will direct our paths (3:6). Today’s passage reminds us of the same idea. While cautioning us that our lives are fleeting (James 4:13-14), James comforts us with the knowledge that we are in God’s hands (vv.12,15). He is the one who saves, and it is by His will that we live our lives.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-4-14

UnknownThe Barking Lion

Read: Proverbs 22:1-5

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. —Proverbs 22:1

Bible in a Year: Psalms 143-145; 1 Corinthians 14:21-40

Po Fang Chia   Visitors to a zoo were outraged when the “African lion” started barking instead of roaring. Zoo staff said they had disguised a Tibetan mastiff—a very large dog—as a lion because they could not afford the real thing. Needless to say, the zoo’s reputation was sullied and people will think twice before visiting it.

Reputation is fragile; once it’s damaged, it’s hard to restore. It is not uncommon to sacrifice a good reputation on the altar of power, prestige, or profit. This too could be our story. Scripture encourages us: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Prov. 22:1). God is telling us that true value must be placed not in what we have but in who we are.

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” As followers of Jesus, we bear His name. Because of His love for us, we strive to walk worthy of Him, reflecting His likeness in our words and deeds.

When we fail, He picks us up again by His love. By our example, others around us will be led to praise the God who has redeemed and transformed us (Matt. 5:16)—for the name of the Lord is worthy of glory, honor, and all praise.

Lord, I do want to walk worthy of Your name because You have made me Your own. I know I can’t live perfectly, but I want to reflect to others a little of who You are. Please show Yourself through me.

The purest treasure mortal times afford is a spotless reputation. —Shakespeare

Insight: The book of Proverbs is made up of several collections of wise sayings, with the majority coming from the pen of wise King Solomon. Solomon’s proverbs of wisdom are contained in 1:8–22:16, which are then followed by the sayings of other wise men in 22:17–24:34. More of Solomon’s wisdom, written down by Hezekiah’s men, is found in chapters 25–29. The book of wisdom closes with Agur’s wise sayings in chapter 30 and Lemuel’s words in chapter 31. All of this combines to make the book of Proverbs a comprehensive collection of the wisdom of ancient Israel.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-3-14

UnknownHope To Continue On

Read: Lamentations 3:19-33

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. —Lamentations 3:22-23

Bible in a Year: Psalms 140-142; 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

Anne Cetas   The solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse can fly day and night without fuel. Inventors Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg hope to fly it around the world in 2015. While the plane flies all day by solar power, it gathers enough energy to be able to fly all night. When the sun rises, Piccard says, “It brings the hope again that you can continue.”

The idea of sunrise bringing us hope makes me think of Lamentations 3 from our Bible reading for today: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (vv.21-23). Even when God’s people were in the depths of despair while the city of Jerusalem was being invaded by the Babylonians, the prophet Jeremiah said they had reason to hope—they still had the Lord’s mercies and compassions.

Sometimes our struggles seem worse at night, but when sunrise comes it brings hope again that we can continue. “Weeping may endure for a night,” the psalmist says, “but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).

Thank You, Lord, for the hope You send with each sunrise. Your mercies and compassions are new every morning!

New mercies every morning, Grace for every day, New hope for every trial, And courage all the way. —McVeigh

Each new day gives us new reasons to praise the Lord.

Insight: For 2 years the Babylonians lay siege to Jerusalem. Conditions within the besieged city were desperate and deplorable. Starvation during the siege even led to cannibalism (2 Kings 25:1-4; Lam. 2:20; 4:10). Sadly, Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of the city and temple (Jer. 52:12-27). In five emotionally charged dirges, or funeral laments (one for each chapter of Lamentations), he described the sufferings of the people and the reasons for their suffering. But he also wrote of hope in the midst of despair (Lam. 3:21-32) and of restoration that would come (5:19-22).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 9-2-14

UnknownNot Even A Nod

Read: Luke 17:11-19

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God. —Luke 17:15

Bible in a Year: Psalms 137-139; 1 Corinthians 13

Randy Kilgore   Traffic was bad and everyone was cranky on that hot afternoon. I noticed a car with two young men waiting to enter traffic from a fast-food restaurant driveway. I thought it was nice when the driver ahead of me let them in.

But when the “nice” driver ahead of me didn’t get a nod or even a thank you wave, he turned ugly. First he rolled down his window and shouted at the driver he had let in. Then he gunned his engine and raced forward as if to ram into his car, honking and yelling as he continued to vent his anger.

Who was “more wrong”? Did the young driver’s ingratitude justify the “nice” driver’s angry response? Was he owed a thank you?

Certainly the 10 lepers Jesus healed owed gratitude to Him. How could only one return to say thank you? I’m struck by Jesus’ response: “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18). If the King of Kings can get only a 1 in 10 response of thanks, how can we expect more from others? Better to do our deeds to honor God and serve others than to do them to collect gratitude. May the grace of God be seen in us even when our kind acts go unappreciated.

Lord, we like to be recognized for the things we do. Help us to remember that we are not owed any recognition or thanks but that we owe You a lifetime of gratitude for the salvation You offer through Jesus.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may . . . glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

Insight: As the 10 men in today’s reading went away to follow Jesus’ instructions, “they were cleansed” (v.14); that is, healed of their leprosy. Yet verse 19 says that only one man, the Samaritan, glorified God for his healing and came back to say thank you. Only he received Jesus’ word that his faith had made him well. The Greek word for “made well” is used in reference to salvation. Jesus’ miraculous power made the man well physically (v.14). But the Samaritan’s faith, demonstrated in praise and gratitude, led to his spiritual healing (v.19). All 10 were “cleansed,” but only one was “made well.”

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OUR DAILY BREAD 8-31-14

UnknownThe Ultimate Sacrifice

Read: 1 John 3:16-23

By this we know love, because [Jesus] laid down His life for us. —1 John 3:16

Bible in a Year: Psalms 132-134; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Jennifer Benson Schuldt   When Deng Jinjie saw people struggling in the water of the Sunshui River in the Hunan province of China, he didn’t just walk by. In an act of heroism, he jumped into the water and helped save four members of a family. Unfortunately, the family left the area while he was still in the water. Sadly, Jinjie, exhausted from his rescue efforts, was overwhelmed and swept away by the river current and drowned.

When we were drowning in our sin, Jesus Christ gave His life to come to our aid. We were the ones He came to rescue. He came down from heaven above and pulled us to safety. He did this by taking the punishment for all of our wrongdoing as He died on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) and 3 days later was resurrected. The Bible says, “By this we know love, because [Jesus] laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16). Jesus’ sacrificial love for us now inspires us to show genuine love “in deed and in truth” (v.18) to others with whom we have relationships.

If we overlook Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, we’ll fail to see and experience His love. Today, consider the connection between His sacrifice and His love for you. He has come for your rescue.

Rescued: By Jesus’ love; Rescued: For life above; Rescued: To serve my King; Rescued: My praise to bring. —Verway 

Jesus laid down His life to show His love for us.

Insight: John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7) and to whom Jesus entrusted the care of His mother, Mary (19:26-27), was well qualified to write about love. In 1 John 2, he described the quality and authenticity of the love expected of the children of God. Here in 1 John 3, he pointed to the death of Christ and directed us to Him as our standard of Christian love (v.16). True Christian love is sacrificial action and selfless generosity displayed both in speech and in actions (vv.16-18).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 8-30-14

UnknownStep Up!

Read: 2 Chronicles 15:1-12

[Asa] took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land . . . ; and he restored the altar of the Lord. —2 Chronicles 15:8

Bible in a Year: Psalms 129-131; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Dave Branon   When a woodchuck started eating our garage (well, just the trim), I bought a live trap with plans to transplant the little guy to a park. I baited it with an assortment of goodies and opened the trap door. The next morning, I was excited to see a little critter in my trap—until I noticed that it was no woodchuck. I had snared a skunk.

I went online to see how to untrap the skunk without having it . . . well, you know. The solutions were extremely cautious in their descriptions of how to protect yourself while releasing the animal. Plastic bags. Gloves. Tarps. Blankets. Goggles. The task looked daunting and dangerous.

Then my son-in-law Ewing stepped up. He simply walked over to the trap, opened the door, and coaxed our striped friend on its way with a few sprays from the garden hose.

Sometimes our fears can lead to inaction. We worry so much about protecting ourselves that we fail to simply step up. When King Asa learned that the Lord wanted him to remove the idols from Israel, he “took courage” (2 Chron. 15:8). He could have had a rebellion on his hands for doing this. But he stepped up, and as a result the nation rejoiced (v.15).

Facing a spiritual challenge? The Lord will help you step up with courage and trust Him for the outcome.

Let the road be rough and dreary, And its end far out of sight, Foot it bravely, strong or weary; Trust in God and do the right. —Macleod

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

Insight: While the books of Samuel and Kings follow the monarchy from the days of Saul all the way into the divided kingdom, the books of Chronicles devote only one chapter to Saul (1 Chron. 10). The writer spends most of his time and effort recording the reigns of David and Solomon, presenting their reigns as the high point of Israel’s history.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 8-29-14

UnknownTerms Of Service

Read: Luke 6:27-37

Forgive, and you will be forgiven. —Luke 6:37

Bible in a Year: Psalms 126-128; 1 Corinthians 10:19-33

Julie Ackerman Link   If you’re like me, you seldom read the full text of contracts for online services before you agree to them. They go on for pages, and most of the legal jargon makes no sense to ordinary people like me.

I was quite surprised, therefore, when a friend from Africa made me aware of this one-of-a-kind service agreement for online software. Instead of a wordy license telling people how not to use it, the developer offers a simple blessing urging people to use it for good:

May you do good and not evil. May you find forgiveness for yourself and forgive others. May you share freely, never taking more than you give.

At first I thought, Wow. Imagine if more terms of service agreements were written as blessings instead of legal documents. Then I thought, The agreement Jesus makes with us is like that. He offers us forgiveness of sin, peace with God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. In return, all He asks is that we do good (Gal. 6:10), forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Luke 6:37), and love others as He loves us (John 13:34).

The beauty of Jesus’ agreement with us is that even though we fail to live up to the terms, we still receive the blessing.

Bestowed with benefits daily, Sent from the Father above; Mercies and blessings abounding, Gifts of His marvelous love. —Anon.

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all. —Galatians 6:10

Insight: In Luke 6:20-49, Luke recorded a sermon by Jesus that is similar to the sermon recorded in Matthew 5–7. Some scholars believe it was the same sermon, while others say that Jesus taught in two different settings. In Matthew, he taught it “on a mountain” (5:1), while here, Jesus taught these same truths “on a level place” (Luke 6:17).

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TOP 5 “RIGHT HOOKS” 8-28-14

PatriotsPostLogoFederal Debt Threatens Economy in Long Term      The Obama administration has the economy wrong, according to the Congressional Budget Office report on the outlook of the economy for the next 10 years. Last month, the great cooker of books at the White House said the Gross Domestic Product grew at a 2.6% rate this year. But the CBO downgraded that number to 1.5%. Contrast that to average growth of 4% during Ronald Reagan’s recovery. The good news is the deficit is shrinking, and will continue to shrink until Obama slinks from office. But once 2017 rolls around, the federal debt will again rear its head. If it isn’t fixed, the debt will hold back the economy, make the federal government less responsive to “unexpected challenges” and risk a fiscal crisis, according to the CBO. And remember: The debt really skyrocketed beginning with Obama’s response to the financial crisis, so it’s present decrease is hardly remarkable. More…

How Accurate Are the Job Numbers?     The way the government collects unemployment numbers may be flawed in that they show more people employed than actually is the case. According to a study by Princeton University, the accuracy of the numbers has deteriorated ever since the Current Population Survey (CPS) switched from a paper format to computer. If you’re unemployed, do you really want to check the box that says you are still out of work and then have the government probe even more into your idleness or inability to find a job? But the U.S. jobs report still uses this data and then fiscal policy is plotted off the numbers. Before you know it, Barack Obama steps up to a lectern somewhere and announces everything is awesome. CBS News reports there may be a better way to obtain jobs data: Monitor Twitter to see what people are saying about their jobs. Oh great. Big Brother really is watching you. More…

District of Columbia Fights Against Freedom to Carry       The lawyers for the District of Columbia want the handgun ban back. After Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. ruled that DC’s ban on carrying handguns in the nation’s capitol is unconstitutional, lawyers filed a request in federal court asking for a reconsideration of the ruling. According to the lawyers, the judge who let the freedom of the Second Amendment dawn over the Potomac Swamp erred because he “failed to conduct the analysis required by controlling law, and relied on flawed, non-controlling decisions from other jurisdictions.” Shame on him for not knowing that there are politicians and foreign dignitaries that walk those streets — not to mention lawyers — who aren’t comfortable with boom-sticks. It’s the city’s first move in challenging the ruling. Hopefully, the city whose license plates bear the phrase “taxation without representation” will realize freedom entails unalienable rights. More…

Obama Turns Focus to Transgenders in the Military         Despite escalating hostility in the Middle East, Ukraine and other areas around the world, Barack Obama has steadily weakened America’s military prowess by reducing the number of troops and cutting funding to various areas of defense. Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was apparently a far more important priority than, say, protecting the United States from foreign enemies. Now the administration is turning its focus to another area of leftist concern: transgenders. The Washington Examiner reports, “[T]he Pentagon ‘likely will’ allow transgendered Americans to serve openly in the military where 15,500 now secretly serve, according to a new report issued by top former generals. Three of the top brass, endorsing the deployment of transgendered troops, also said their effort has the support of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Obama.” While the world burns, the president is pushing ahead with dangerous social engineering. This may not mean much to the golfer in chief, but to say this decision is a bogey is a gross understatement — and ultimately, it’s America that will suffer for it. More…

Bobby Jindal Sues Dept. of Education Over Common Core       Once welcoming Common Core educational standards to the state of Louisiana, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a suit against the Department of Education Aug. 27 alleging the implementation of the program violates the rights of states under the Tenth Amendment. “This case involves an attempt by the executive branch to implement national education reform far beyond the intentions of Congress,” the suit read. In fact, it’s “in contradiction to 50 years of Congressional policy forbidding federal direction or control of curriculum, the cornerstone of education policy.” Beltway pundits argue Jindal’s move is a stunt to boost his potential 2016 presidential run, but for the teachers and students in the suburbs and towns of America, Common Core is a Washington intrusion into everyday life that must be challenged. More…

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