Our Daily Bread 10-18-13

The End?

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 53-55; 2 Thessalonians 1

Joe Stowell  Everything in this world eventually comes to an end, which at times can be disheartening. It’s the feeling you get when you read a book that’s so good you don’t want it to end. Or when you watch a movie that you wish would go on a little while longer.

But all things—good and bad—do come to “The End.” In fact, life ultimately does come to the end—sometimes sooner than we expect. All of us who have stood by the casket of a loved one know the painful emptiness of a heart that wishes it wasn’t over yet.

Thankfully, Jesus steps into the fray of terminal disappointments, and, through His death and resurrection, He interjects hope for us. In Him “the end” is a prelude to a death-free eternity, and words like “it’s over” are replaced by a joy-filled “forever.” Since our bodies are not an eternal reality, Paul assures us that “we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51) and reminds us that because of Christ’s conquering work we can confidently say, “O Death, . . . where is your victory?” (v.55).

So let not your heart be troubled. Our sorrow is real, but we can be filled with gratitude because God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.57).

Lord, keep our eyes and hearts fixed not on the temporary joys or disappointments but on the victorious realities of eternity. Thank You for Your death and resurrection that guarantee our forever future.

In Christ, the end is only the beginning.

Originally posted 2013-10-18 13:43:12.

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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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Originally posted 2014-11-04 09:12:41.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-5-14

UnknownPink Sheep

Read: John 10:7-18

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:35

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 23-25; Philippians 1

Dave Branon   While traveling on a road from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Scotland, I was enjoying the beautiful, pastoral countryside when a rather humorous sight captured my attention. There, on a small hilltop, was a rather large flock of pink sheep.

I know that sheep owners mark their animals with dots of spray paint to identify them—but these sheep really stood out. The owner had fully covered every animal with pink coloring. Everyone knew who those sheep belonged to.

Scripture calls followers of Christ sheep, and they too have a unique identifying mark. What is the “pink coloring” in a Christ-follower’s life? How can someone be identified as Jesus’ own?

In the gospel of John, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, told us what that identifier is: love. “Love one another; as I have loved you . . . . By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

In words and deeds, a believer should show love to all those around. “Beloved,” John writes, “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). A Christian’s love for others should be as obvious as pink wool on a flock of Scottish sheep.

                              Dear Lord, remind me that this life is not about me and my needs,                                                              but about others and how Your love can shine through me to them.                               May Christlike love be my distinguishing characteristic.

 As followers of Christ, our love should make us stand out in a crowd.

Insight: Attention is often given to the comparison between the believer and sheep. Today’s text focuses on Jesus as the Shepherd and on what He does for the sheep. He loves His sheep so much that He willingly died to save us, and now we are to love one another.

You can make a difference. Even the smallest donation helps reach people around the world with the life-changing wisdom of the Bible. Donate

Originally posted 2014-10-05 07:39:12.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 3-29-14

UnknownA Better World

Bible in a Year: Judges 7-8; Luke 5:1-16

Joe Stowell   In one of my favorite Peanuts cartoons featuring Charlie Brown, the always confident Lucy declares, “How could the world be getting worse with me in it? Ever since I was born the world has shown a distinct improvement!”

Of course, Lucy is displaying an unrealistic and elevated opinion of herself, but she makes an interesting point. What if we were to try to make the world a better place by displaying the love of Christ wherever God has placed us?

When Peter wrote to persecuted believers, he advised them to “[keep] your conduct honorable” (1 Peter 2:12) by doing good deeds that will ultimately bring glory to God. In other words, we can make our world a better place through our actions. Think of the difference that Christlike deeds of love, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and peace would make in our world. I’ve always thought that if we lived out this verse, people might say, “Our office is a better place because ______ works here.” Or, “Our neighborhood is a better neighborhood.” Or, “Our school is a better school.”

We can’t change the entire world singlehandedly, but by God’s grace we can let the difference Christ has made in us make a difference in the world around us.

Love is giving for the world’s needs, Love is sharing as the Spirit leads, Love is caring when the world cries, Love is compassion with Christlike eyes. —Brandt

Everyone can do something to make the world better—we can let Christ shine through us.

Insight: Peter wrote to encourage believers in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) who were being persecuted because they were Christians. Verses 11-12 contain the summary application of Peter’s exhortation: Christians are to live honorable and blameless lives and do good works before an unbelieving and hostile world so that those who don’t believe can be won to the Lord. Peter reminded them that they were chosen by God to be His people for this purpose of witnessing and testifying to God’s love (vv.9-10) and were to be ready to share the gospel when the opportunity presented itself (3:15-16). The apostle Paul also exhorted his readers to live godly lives (Rom. 13:12-13; Phil. 2:15; Col. 4:3-6; 1 Thess. 4:12; Titus 2:7-8; 3:8,14).

Originally posted 2014-03-29 08:44:30.

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Our Daily Bread 8-28-13

A Way Of Escape

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year:  Psalms 123-125; 1 Corinthians 10:1-18 

Jennifer Benson Schuldt  Highway 77, which passes through the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, features a series of runaway truck ramps. These semi-paved exits appear in an area of the highway where the altitude drops nearly 1,300 feet over the course of about 6 miles. This steep descent combined with the road’s winding path can create problems for motorists—especially truck drivers.

Just as a runaway truck needs an escape route from a highway, we also need “a way of escape” when out-of-control desires threaten our spiritual well-being. When we face temptation, “[God will] make the way of escape, that [we] may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). God enables us to say “no” to enticement through the power of His Word. Jesus conquered Satan’s temptation relating to food, authority, and trust by quoting verses from Deuteronomy (Matt. 4:4-10). Scripture helped Him resist the devil despite the effects of a 40-day fast in the wilderness.

When we are tempted, we may feel like disaster is just around the bend. Memories of past failure and isolation from others can intensify this feeling. However, we can trust God in moments of temptation; He is faithful. He will provide a way for us to resist sin’s allure.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou near by; Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh. I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee. —Hawks/Lowry

The best way to escape temptation is to run to God.

Originally posted 2013-08-28 17:02:53.

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Our Daily Bread 9-9-13

All Through This Hour

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

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

Dennis Fisher  The majestic chime of London’s Great Clock of Westminster, commonly known as Big Ben, is familiar to many. In fact, some of us may have clocks in our homes that sound the same hourly chime. It is traditionally thought that the melody was taken from Handel’s Messiah. And the lyrics inscribed in the Big Ben clock room have a time significance:

All through this hour, Lord, be my guide; And by Thy power, No foot shall slide.

These lyrics are a good reminder of our constant need for God’s guidance. King David recognized that he needed guidance all through the day as he faced the challenges of life. In Psalm 25 he says: “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day” (v.5). Wanting to be a teachable follower of God, David looked to his Redeemer for direction. His heart’s desire was to wait on God with dependent faith throughout the entire day.

May this be our desire as well. Our requests for God’s help often begin the day, but then competing distractions can pull our attention away from Him. Lord, remind us to pray: “All through this hour, Lord, be my guide.”

There’s never a day nor a season – That prayer may not bless every hour, – And never a prayer need be helpless – When linked with God’s infinite power. —Morton

Let Christ be first in your thoughts in the morning, and last in your thoughts at night.

Originally posted 2013-09-09 12:08:27.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-4-14

UnknownDisposable Culture

Read: Psalm 136:1-9,23-26

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. —Psalm 136:1

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 20-22; Ephesians 6

Bill Crowder   More than ever, we live in a disposable culture. Think for a minute about some of the things that are made to be thrown away—razors, water bottles, lighters, paper plates, plastic eating utensils. Products are used, tossed, and then replaced.

This disposable culture is also reflected in more significant ways. Many times true commitment in relationships is seen as optional. Marriages struggle to survive. Long-term employees are discharged just before retirement for cheaper options. A highly revered athlete leaves to join another team. It seems as if nothing lasts.

Our unchanging God, however, has promised that His loving mercy endures forever. In Psalm 136, the singer celebrates this wonderful promise by making statements about God’s wonder, work, and character. He then punctuates each statement about God with the phrase, “For His mercy endures forever.” Whether it is the wonder of His creation (vv.4-9), the rescue of His people (vv.10-22), or His tender care for His own (vv.23-26), we can trust Him because His mercy will never fail. In a temporary world, the permanence of God’s mercy gives us hope. We can sing with the psalmist, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v.1).

I sing of mercies that endure,

Forever builded firm and sure,

Of faithfulness that never dies,

Established changeless in the skies. —Psalter

God’s grace is immeasurable; His mercy inexhaustible; His peace inexpressible.

Insight: Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote of Psalm 136, “We know not by whom this Psalm was written, but we do know that it was sung in Solomon’s temple (2 Chron. 7:3,6), and by the armies of Jehoshaphat when they sang themselves into victory in the wilderness of Tekoa. From the striking form of it we should infer that it was a popular hymn among the Lord’s ancient people. Most hymns with a solid, simple chorus become favourites with congregations, and this is sure to have been one of the best beloved.” (Treasury of David)

 

You can make a difference. Even the smallest donation helps reach people around the world with the life-changing wisdom of the Bible. Donate

Originally posted 2014-10-04 08:18:25.

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Our Daily Bread 7-29-13

What’s Love?

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Psalms 49-50; Romans 1

Anne Cetas  When asked “What’s love?” children have some great answers. Noelle, age 7, said, “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” Rebecca, who is 8, answered, “Since my grandmother got arthritis, she can’t bend over and polish her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even after his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Jessica, also 8, concluded, “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”

Sometimes we need reminding that God loves us. We focus on the difficulties of life and wonder, Where’s the love? But if we pause and consider all that God has done for us, we remember how much we are loved by God, who is love (1 John 4:8-10).

Psalm 103 lists the “benefits” God showers on us in love: He forgives our sin (v.3), satisfies us with good things (v.5), and executes righteousness and justice (v.6). He is slow to anger and abounds in mercy (v.8). He doesn’t deal with us as our sins deserve (v.10) and has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west (v.12). He has not forgotten us!

What’s love? God is love, and He’s pouring out that love on you and me.

Our God is God— – His truth, His love remains each day the same, – He’s faithful to His matchless name, – For God is God—He does not change. —D. DeHaan 

The death of Christ is the measure of God’s love for you.

Originally posted 2013-07-29 13:07:17.

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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).

You can make a difference. Even the smallest donation helps reach people around the world with the life-changing wisdom of the Bible. Donate

Originally posted 2014-09-13 09:18:35.

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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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