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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UnknownA Picture Of Humility

Read: John 13:1-11

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. —James 4:6

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

Bill Crowder   During the Easter season, my wife and I attended a church service where the participants sought to model the events that Jesus and His disciples experienced on the night before He was crucified. As part of the service, the church staff members washed the feet of some of the church volunteers. As I watched, I wondered which was more humbling in our day—to wash another person’s feet or to have someone else wash yours. Both those who were serving and those being served were presenting distinct pictures of humility.

When Jesus and His disciples were gathered for the Last Supper (John 13:1-20), Jesus, in humble servanthood, washed His disciples’ feet. But Simon Peter resisted, saying, “You shall never wash my feet!” Then Jesus answered, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (13:8). Washing their feet was not a mere ritual. It could also be seen as a picture of our need of Christ’s cleansing—a cleansing that will never be realized unless we are willing to be humble before the Savior.

James wrote, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We receive God’s grace when we acknowledge the greatness of God, who humbled Himself at the cross (Phil. 2:5-11).

My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine; Now hear me when I pray, take all my sin away, O let me from this day be wholly Thine! —Palmer

The most powerful position on earth is kneeling before the Lord of the universe.

Insight: In ancient Israel, the task of foot-washing was necessary because of the open shoes worn in streets filled with dirt and refuse. Because it was such an unpleasant task, it was usually assigned to the lowest servant in the house. Here Jesus Himself performed this menial job (John 13:3-5).

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UnknownLife’s Darkest Moments

Read: 1 Kings 19:1-8

An angel touched [Elijah], and said to him, “Arise and eat.” —1 Kings 19:5

Bible in a Year: Psalms 120-122; 1 Corinthians 9

Randy Kilgore  Charles Whittlesey was a hero’s hero. Leader of the so-called “Lost Battalion” in World War I, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery when his unit was trapped behind enemy lines. When the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated, Charles was chosen to serve as pallbearer for the first soldier laid to rest there. Two weeks later, it is presumed that he ended his own life by stepping off a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.

Like Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-7), Charles was publicly strong, but in the quiet, post-public moments, his feelings of despair set in. People today frequently face situations bigger than they can handle. Sometimes it’s temporary despair brought on by fatigue, as in Elijah’s case. He had been part of a great victory over the prophets of Baal (18:20-40), but then he feared for his life and ran into the wilderness (19:1-3). But often, it’s more than despair and it’s more than temporary. That’s why it is imperative that we talk about depression openly and compassionately.

God offers His presence to us in life’s darkest moments, which enables us, in turn, to be His presence to the hurting. Crying out for help—from others and from God—may be the strongest moment of our lives.

Father, grant us the candor to admit to each other that sometimes life overwhelms us. And grant us the courage to help others find help—and to seek it when we need it.

Hope comes with help from God and others.

Insight: Elijah, deemed Israel’s greatest prophet, was highly revered and well spoken of by the Jews, by the Lord Jesus Himself, and by the apostles (Matt. 17:10-11; Luke 1:17; Rom. 11:2-4, James 5:17-18). He appeared with Moses at the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:3). Because Elijah did not die (2 Kings 2:1), the Jews believed he would come back again (Mal. 4:5). Many scholars believe that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11.

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UnknownSpiritual Navigation

Read: Psalm 119:97-106

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. —Psalm 119:105

Bible in a Year: Psalm 119:89-176; 1 Corinthians 8

David C. McCasland   Dava Sobel’s award-winning book Longitude describes a dilemma faced by early sailors. They could readily determine their latitude north or south of the equator by the length of the day or height of the sun. Calculating east/west longitude, however, remained complex and unreliable until English clockmaker John Harrison invented the marine chronometer. This was “a clock that would carry the true time from the home port . . . to any remote corner of the world,” thus enabling sailors to determine longitude.

As we navigate the seas of life, we also have a reliable source of spiritual direction—the Bible. The psalmist wrote, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97). Rather than occasionally glancing at God’s Word, he spoke of pondering the Lord’s directions throughout each day: “Your testimonies are my meditation” (v.99). This was coupled with a commitment to obey the Author: “I have sworn and confirmed that I will keep Your righteous judgments” (v.106).

Like the mariners of old, we need a constant guide to help us find our way and stay on course. That’s what happens when we seek the Lord day by day with an open heart and a willing spirit that says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

We need God’s guidance from above, His daily leading and His love; As we trust Him for direction, To our course He’ll give correction. —Fitzhugh

With God as your navigator, you’re headed in the right direction.

Insight: In today’s reading, we find a portion of the psalmist’s great homage to the Word of God. The verses describe the Word as commandments (v.98), testimonies (v.99), precepts (vv.100,104), and judgments (vv.102,106). He also pictures the Word as honey (v.103) and a lamp (v.105). One idea repeated in this text is that of the singer’s response to the Word, which is meditation (vv.97,99). The word meditate means “to reflect on.” It is a common theme in psalms that speak of the Scriptures—beginning with Psalm 1, which describes the blessed person as the one who meditates on the Word “day and night” (v.2). The word for meditate comes from the Hebrew word habah, which means “to be preoccupied with,” and is also used of a cow chewing its cud in order to more readily absorb the nutrients.

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UnknownMore Than Waiting

Read: Acts 1:1-11

A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father. —John 16:16

Bible in a Year: Psalm 119:1-88; 1 Corinthians 7:20-40

Anne Cetas   I don’t know how it works where you live, but when I have to call for a repair for one of my appliances, the company says something like, “The repairman will be there between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.” Since I don’t know when the repair person will arrive, all I can do is wait.

Jesus told His followers that He would soon be leaving them and they would need to wait for His return in “a little while” (John 16:16). After His resurrection, they saw Him again and they hoped He would be establishing His kingdom on earth at that time. But He told them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7). They would have to wait even longer.

But they were to do more than wait. Jesus told His followers that they were to “be witnesses to [Him] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (v.8). And He gave them the Holy Spirit to empower them to do this.

We still wait for Jesus’ return. And while we do, it’s our delight, in the Holy Spirit’s power, to tell and show others who He is, what He has done for all of us through His death and resurrection, and that He has promised to return.

Dear Lord, we love You so much. We want our words and our lives to be a witness of Your goodness and grace. Please use us in ways we never thought possible.

Wait and witness till Jesus returns.

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UnknownMemory Loss

Read: Psalm 118:1-14

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. —Psalm 118:1

Bible in a Year: Psalms 116-118; 1 Corinthians 7:1-19

Dennis Fisher   Sometimes when we face times of trouble, we may get spiritual amnesia and forget the grace of God. But a good way of reestablishing a thankful heart is to set aside undistracted time and deliberately remember God’s past provisions for us and give thanks.

When the children of Israel found themselves in a barren, hot desert, they developed memory loss about the grace of God. They began to wish they were back in Egypt, enjoying all its foods (Ex. 16:2-3) and later complained about their water supply (17:2). They had forgotten the mighty acts of God in their deliverance and how He had showered them with wealth (12:36). They were dwelling on their current circumstances and forgetting God’s gracious past provision.

The psalmist challenges us: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Ps. 118:1). The word mercy means “steadfast love.” It refers to God’s faithfulness. He has promised to be present always to care for His children.

By remembering specific ways God has provided for us in the past, we can change our perspective for the better. God’s steadfast love endures forever!

Wait on the Lord from day to day, Strength He provides in His own way; There’s no need for worry, no need to fear, He is our God who is always near. —Fortna

Remembering God’s provision for yesterday gives hope and strength for today.

Insight: Psalms 113–118, collectively known as psalms of praise or the “Egyptian Hallel,” are used in the Passover celebration commemorating the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Ex. 12–13). Psalms 113–114 are recited before and Psalms 115–118 after the Passover meal. The emphatic refrain “His mercy endures forever” (Ps. 118:1-4) reminds the Jews of God’s faithfulness. In response, the psalmist calls for renewed trust in God (vv.8-9).

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UnknownKeeping Darkness At Bay

Read: Matthew 5:11-16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father. —Matthew 5:16

Bible in a Year: Psalms 113-115; 1 Corinthians 6

Joe Stowell   In J. R. R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit, the wizard Gandalf explains why he has selected a small hobbit like Bilbo to accompany the dwarves to fight the enemy. He says, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

That’s what Jesus teaches us as well. Warning us that we would live in dark times, He reminded us that because of Him we are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14) and that our good deeds would be the power against the darkness for the glory of God (v.16). And Peter, writing to believers in Christ who were facing severe persecution, told them to live so that those accusing them would “by [their] good works which they observe, glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).

There is one force that the darkness cannot conquer—the force of loving acts of kindness done in Jesus’ name. It is God’s people who turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and forgive and even love their enemies who oppose them who have the power to turn the tide against evil. So look for the privileged opportunity to perform acts of kindness today to bring the light of Christ to others.

Lord, teach me the folly of trying to repay evil for evil. May I be so grateful to You for the loving acts of kindness that You have shown me that I gladly look to share good deeds with others as well!

Light up your world with an act of kindness.

Insight: Taken from the Sermon on the Mount, today’s passage presents some of the behavioral expectations of the kingdom of God and stresses authenticity. Using the recognizable images of salt and light, Jesus tells His listeners that they cannot follow Him in secret. Salt must be salty and light must illuminate. However, we must be careful not to assume that it is goodness for goodness’ sake that is expected of God’s people. Good deeds are what bring God glory and reflect His character to the world (v.16).

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UnknownLive In Love

Read: Psalm 112

Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; he is gracious, and full of compassion. Psalm 112:4

Bible in a Year: Psalms 110-112; 1 Corinthians 5

Dave Branon   In the African country where my friend Roxanne lives, water is a precious commodity. People often have to travel long distances to collect water from small, contaminated creeks—leading to sickness and death. It’s difficult for organizations like orphanages and churches to serve the people because of a lack of water. But that’s beginning to change.

Through Roxanne’s leadership and the unselfish gifts of some loving people in established churches, clean water wells are being dug. At least six new wells are now operational, allowing churches to be centers of hope and encouragement. A health center and a home for 700 orphans will also be able to be opened because of access to water.

That’s the kind of love that can flow from believers in Christ when we have experienced the love and generosity of God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that if we don’t have love, our voices clang on people’s ears and our faith means nothing. And the apostle John says that if we have material possessions and see others in need and take action, that’s evidence that God’s love is abiding in us (1 John 3:16).

God desires that we deal “graciously” (Ps. 112:5) with those in need, for His heart is gracious toward us.

Be not weary in your serving; Do your best for those in need; Kindnesses will be rewarded By the Lord who prompts the deed. —Anon.

Kindness is Christianity with its working clothes on.

Insight: While there is no designation of the author of Psalm 112, the common speculation is for Davidic authorship. It may well have been written as a companion to Psalm 111. In both songs, the verses are written in alphabetical order, and both share the theme of the characteristics and life of the person blessed by God. Psalm 111 focuses on the God who blesses, while Psalm 112 focuses on the person who is blessed.

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UnknownA Word For The Struggler

Read: Hebrews 10:32-39

Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. —Hebrews 10:35

Bible in a Year: Psalms 107-109; 1 Corinthians 4

David C. McCasland   There is an old adage that says, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” It’s wise not to take on more responsibilities than we can handle. At some time, however, we will likely feel overwhelmed by the size and difficulty of a task we have agreed to do.

This can happen even in our walk of faith in Christ when our commitment to God seems too much to bear. But the Lord has an encouraging word for us when our confidence wavers.

The writer of Hebrews urged his readers to recall the courage they demonstrated during the early days of their faith (10:32-33). Despite public insults and persecution, they aided believers in prison, and they joyfully accepted the confiscation of their own property (vv.33-34). With that in mind, he says, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (vv.35-36).

Our confidence is not in ourselves but in Jesus and His promise to return at just the right time (v.37).

It is God’s power that enables us to continue in our journey of faith. Recalling the Lord’s faithfulness in days past stirs our confidence in Him today.

When life becomes a heavy load, An upward climb, a winding road, In daily tasks, Lord, let me see That with me You will always be. —D. DeHaan

Trusting God’s faithfulness stirs up our confidence.

Insight: Severely opposed and persecuted, Jewish Christians were pressured to abandon Christianity and to revert to Judaism. The unnamed writer of Hebrews encouraged them to continue in the faith by affirming the preeminence, superiority, and sufficiency of Christ through His person and position (Heb. 1–4) and His work of propitiation (chs. 5–10). He also warned them against rejecting Christ (2:1-3; 3:7-15; 6:4-6). Here, in his final exhortation, he reminded them of their exemplary faithfulness in enduring the mistreatments thus far (10:32-34) and of the great reward that would be theirs if they persevered (vv.35-36). He was confident that they would succeed (v.39).

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UnknownJob Titles

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 26-27; Mark 14:27-53

C.P. Hia  When the British Broadcasting Corporation asked for examples of important-sounding, obscure, and even bizarre job titles, one writer offered hers: Underwater Ceramic Technician. She was a dishwasher at a restaurant. Sometimes titles are used to make a job sound more important.

When the apostle Paul listed some of God’s gifts to the church in Ephesians 4:11, he did not intend for these to be understood as high-sounding job titles. All the parts of the body are necessary for the body to function properly. No one part is better than another.

What was of primary importance was the purpose of these gifts. They were “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to . . . the stature of the fullness of Christ” (vv.12-13).

It matters little what title we hold. What is important is that we strengthen the faith of God’s people. When we gauge our effectiveness by the standard that the Bible gives us, it will not matter when we are moved to another role or no longer hold a specific title. Out of love for God, we serve to build up fellow believers, and we let God give His commendation in heaven as He sees fit (Matt. 25:21).

Lord, please use me as Your instrument to touch others’ lives. Help me not to be concerned about what title I hold but instead that my life might show others Your grace.

God’s gifts to us are not for us but for others.

Insight: Today’s reading records Christ giving spiritual gifts to the church, the body of Christ. These gifts include: apostles, those who open up new mission territories to the gospel; prophets, who apply the Word in spiritually compelling ways; evangelists, who have a special ability to share the gospel that often brings a positive response; and pastors/teachers, who communicate the Word so that believers are built up in their faith. The goal of the use of these gifts is that Christians will be “perfected” in their faith and move on to maturity. The effective use of gifts creates a unity that bears witness to the reality of Christ (John 13:35).

Originally posted 2014-03-15 07:18:38.

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UnknownOur Foundation

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:1-11

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 3:11

Bible in a Year: Psalms 105-106; 1 Corinthians 3

Denis Fisher   The Bavarian city of Nördlingen is unique. It sits in the middle of the Ries Crater, a large circular depression caused by the impact of a huge meteorite a long time ago. The immense pressure of the impact resulted in unusual crystallized rock and millions of microscopic diamonds. In the 13th century, these speckled stones were used to build St. George’s Church. Visitors can see the beautiful crystal deposits in its foundation and walls. Some might say it has a heavenly foundation.

The Bible talks of a different kind of heavenly foundation. The Lord Jesus came to our world from heaven (John 3:13). When He went back into heaven after His death and resurrection, He left His followers who became the “living temple” of God, of which He is the foundation. The apostle Paul says, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).

The church building in Bavaria is built on a foundation from pieces of rock from the physical heavens. But the spiritual church—all believers in Christ—is founded on the ultimate heavenly foundation, Christ Jesus (Isa. 28:16; 1 Cor. 10:3-4). Praise God that because of what Jesus has done our salvation is secure.

On Christ salvation rests secure; The Rock of Ages will endure; Nor can that faith be overthrown Which rests upon the “Living Stone.” —Anon.

Christ, the Rock, is our sure hope.

Insight: In today’s passage, Paul uses both agricultural and architectural metaphors to warn of an over-reliance and dependence on church leaders. Using an agricultural metaphor, he reminds us that while human leaders do the planting and watering, God alone can make the church grow (1 Cor. 3:1-9). And with the architectural metaphor of a building, Paul warns that no human leader is the founder of the church (vv.10-11). God alone is the founder and foundation.

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UnknownFollowing The Master

Read: Numbers 9:15-23

At the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed. —Numbers 9:23

Bible in a Year: Psalms 103-104; 1 Corinthians 2

Jennifer Benson Schuldt   At a dog show near my home, I watched a Cardigan Welsh corgi named Trevor perform. At his master’s command, he ran several yards away and immediately returned, he jumped fences, and he identified objects using his sense of smell. After finishing each exercise, he sat down at his master’s feet and waited for more instructions.

Trevor’s careful attention to his master’s instruction reminded me of the devotion God desired from His people as they followed Him through the wilderness. God led in a unique way. His presence appeared as a cloud. If the cloud ascended, He wanted His people to move to another area. If the cloud descended, they were to stay put. “At the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed” (Num. 9:23). The Israelites followed this practice day or night, regardless of how long they had to remain in one place.

God wasn’t simply testing the Israelites; He was leading them to the Promised Land (10:29). He wanted to take them to a better place. So it is with us when God asks us to follow Him. He wants to lead us to a place of closer fellowship with Himself. His Word assures us that He is loving and faithful in leading those who humbly follow Him.

In fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, Or we’ll walk by His side in the way; What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey. —Sammis

God asks His children to follow the Leader.

Insight: The tabernacle (Num. 9:15) was not only a place of worship, it was intended to be the center of Israel’s national life. This “tent of meeting” also foreshadowed the incarnation of Christ, the living Word who “dwelled” (that is, “tabernacled”) among us in a tent of human flesh (John 1:14).

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UnknownBelieving In Advance

Read: Revelation 22:12-21

Surely I am coming quickly. —Revelation 22:20

Bible in a Year: Psalms 100-102; 1 Corinthians 1

Philip Yancey   8-18-14  In a German prison camp in World War II, undiscovered by the guards, some Americans built a homemade radio. One day news came that the German high command had surrendered, ending the war. Because of a communications breakdown, however, the guards did not yet know this. As word spread among the prisoners, a loud celebration broke out. For 3 days, they sang, waved at guards, and shared jokes over meals. On the fourth day, they awoke to find that all the Germans had fled. Their waiting had come to an end.

A number of Bible stories center on waiting: Abraham waiting for a child (Gen. 12–21). The Israelites waiting for deliverance from Egypt. Prophets waiting for the fulfillment of their own predictions. The disciples waiting for Jesus to act like the powerful Messiah they anticipated. Jesus’ final words at the end of Revelation are “I am coming quickly,” followed by an urgent, echoing prayer, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (22:20). For this, we still wait.

Here’s the question I ask myself: As we wait, why are we so often fearful and anxious? We can, like the Allied prisoners, act on the good news we say we believe. What is faith in God, after all, but believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse?

Faith looks beyond the shadow Of dread and doubt and fear And finds the Savior waiting And always standing near. —French

Waiting tries our faith and so we wait in hope.

Insight: After writing of the events that will precede Jesus’ second coming (Rev. 4–22), John assured his readers of the certainty and nearness of Jesus’ return by quoting Him two times: “I am coming quickly” (vv.12,20). John then adds a personal plea, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (v.20).

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th122Is Somebody Singing?

Read: John 17:20-26

[Bear] with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. —Ephesians 4:2-3

Bible in a Year: Psalms 97-99; Romans 16

Julie Ackerman Link   From 200 miles above Earth, Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and commander of the International Space Station, joined in song with a group of students in a studio on Earth. Together they performed “Is Somebody Singing,” co-written by Hadfield and Ed Robertson.

One phrase of the song caught my attention: “You can’t make out borders from up here.” Although we humans draw many lines to separate ourselves from one another—national, ethnic, ideological—the song reminded me that God doesn’t see such distinctions. The important thing to God is that we love Him and each other (Mark 12:30-31).

Like a loving father, God wants His family united. We cannot accomplish what God has for us to do if we refuse to be reconciled with one another. In His most impassioned prayer, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus pleaded with God to unite His followers: “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:21).

Singing illustrates unity as we agree on the lyrics, chords, and rhythms. Singing can also promote unity as it binds us together in peace, proclaims God’s power through praise, and demonstrates God’s glory to the world.

O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise, The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace. —Wesley

Singing God’s praises will never go out of style.

Insight:  Jesus’ prayer for the unity of believers (17:20-26) is one of the beautiful theological passages of the gospel of John. It discusses both the relationship between God the Father and Jesus as well as the duration of that relationship. Jesus roots His desire for the church to be one in His own relationship with God the Father. Their relationship is characterized by mutual knowledge, love, and glory. Not only does this prayer call for unity in the church, but it shows the unique relationship between Jesus and the Father that existed before the foundation of the world (v.25).

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Our Daily Bread 12-25-13


Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Zephaniah 1-3; Revelation 16

Bill Crowder  In the Czech Republic and other places, the Christmas celebration includes “Christingles.” A Christingle is an orange, representing the world, with a candle placed in the top of it to symbolize Christ the light of the world. A red ribbon encircles the orange, symbolizing the blood of Jesus. Four toothpicks with dried fruits are placed through the ribbon into the sides of the orange, representing the fruits of the earth.

This simple visual aid vividly represents the purpose behind Christ’s coming—to bring light into the darkness and to redeem a broken world by shedding His blood.

In John’s account of Christ’s life, the disciple describes Jesus as the Light of the world. He wrote of Christ: “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). Not only did Christ the Light come to penetrate our world’s darkness, but He is also “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v.29).

Think of it! The baby of Bethlehem became the living, risen Christ who has rescued us from our sin. And so John instructs us to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). May all who have experienced His rescue find in Jesus the peace of walking in His light.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in Thee tonight. —Brooks

The newborn Christ-child became the Light of the world and the Lamb of God.

Originally posted 2013-12-25 15:50:53.

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UnknownWalking Billboards

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

We are ambassadors for Christ. —2 Corinthians 5:20

Bible in a Year: Psalms 94-96; Romans 15:14-33

C.P. Hia   Pete Peterson’s first contact with Vietnam was in the Vietnam War. During a bombing raid in 1966, his plane was shot down and he was taken prisoner. Over 30 years later he returned as US Ambassador to Vietnam. One press article called him “a walking billboard for reconciliation.” He realized years ago that God had not saved his life for him to live in anger. Because he believed this, he used the rest of his life and his position to make a difference by pushing for better safety standards for children in Vietnam.

It is a great responsibility and honor to be appointed as a representative of your country to another. As followers of Christ we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Just as God sent Christ to reconcile us to Himself (v.18), we now have the ministry of “reconciliation” (v.19). Our message is that all can be redeemed in Christ because God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (v.21).

In response to the reconciling love Jesus offers us, we can share that love with others. Let’s take our role seriously. Wherever God places us in this world, He can use us as walking billboards of reconciliation for Jesus Christ.

I am a stranger here, within a foreign land; My home is far away, upon a golden strand, Ambassador to be of realms beyond the sea, I’m here on business for the King! —Cassel

Good news kept silent is no news at all.

Insight: The Christian life is one of transformation. This is described for us in verse 17 of today’s text. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” We are reconciled with God and have become new creatures—His ambassadors. As His ambassadors, we are called to present Christ to the world around us because of the wonder of what He did for us: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (vv.20-21).

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UnknownIs There Hope?

Read: Matthew 28:1-10

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” —Matthew 28:6

Bible in a Year: Psalms 91-93; Romans 15:1-13 

Anne Cetas   I sat quietly at the graveside of my father, waiting for the private family burial of my mother to begin. The funeral director carried the urn that held her ashes. My heart felt numb and my head was in a fog. How can I handle losing them both within just 3 months? In my grief I felt loss and loneliness and a little hopeless facing a future without them.

Then the pastor read about another graveside. On the first day of the week, early in the morning, women went to Jesus’ tomb, carrying spices for His body (Matt. 28:1; Luke 24:1). There they were startled to find an open and empty tomb—and an angel. “Do not be afraid,” he said to them (Matt. 28:5). They didn’t need to be afraid of the empty tomb or of the angel, because he had good news for them.

Hope stirred when I heard the next words: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (v.6). Because Jesus had come back to life, death had been conquered! Jesus reminded His followers just a few days before His death: “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).

Even though we grieve at the loss of our loved ones, we find hope through the resurrection of Jesus and His promise that there is life after death.

Thank You, Lord, for comfort and hope. What would we do without You? Your death and resurrection provide all we need for this life and the next.

Because He lives, we live.

Insight: The “other Mary” (Matt. 28:1) in today’s account is apparently the same woman described as “Mary the wife of Clopas” who was at the cross and burial of Jesus (27:61; John 19:25). It appears she was the mother of James “the Less” and Joses (Mark 15:40), and despite sharing the same name, she was a sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother (John 19:25).

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UnknownThe Parable Of The Sting

Read: 1 Peter 2:9-12

They may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. —1 Peter 2:12

Bible in a Year: Psalms 89-90; Romans 14

Randy Kilgore   I can still see Jay Elliott’s shocked face as I burst through his front door almost 50 years ago with a “gang” of bees swirling around me. As I raced out his back door, I realized the bees were gone. Well, sort of—I’d left them in Jay’s house! Moments later, he came racing out his back door—chased by the bees I had brought to him.

I had more than a dozen stings, with little effect. Jay had a different experience. Though he’d been stung only once or twice by “my” bees, his eyes and throat swelled up in a painful allergic reaction. My actions had caused a lot of pain for my friend.

That’s a picture of what’s true in our interpersonal relationships too. We hurt others when our actions aren’t Christlike. Even after an apology, the “sting” sticks.

People would be right to expect an absence of harshness and an air of patience from those who follow Christ. We forget sometimes that people struggling with faith, or life, or both, watch Christians with expectation. They hope to see less anger and more mercy, less judgment and more compassion, less criticism and more encouragement. Jesus and Peter told us to live good lives so God is given the glory (Matt. 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). May our actions and reactions point those around us to our loving Father.

We have found that it’s easy to hurt others with our words or actions. Teach us, Father, to pause and to think before we speak or act. Fill us with kindness and care.

May others see less of me and more of Jesus.

Insight: Peter wrote to Christians who were going through fiery trials of intense persecution (1 Peter 1:6; 4:12). He encouraged these believers to persevere, to remain faithful, and to view these difficult times as opportunities to strengthen their faith and bear witness to Christ. In today’s passage, Peter reminded them of their special identity and spiritual status as God’s chosen people (vv.9-10). “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” are descriptions applied to the Jews in the Old Testament (Ex. 19:5-6; Isa. 43:20-21), but here Peter applies them to believers. He reminds them—and us—that we are chosen by God for the purpose of witnessing and testifying to God’s love (vv.9-10).

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UnknownLife-Giving Rain

Read: Acts 6:1-10

They were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. —Acts 6:10

Bible in a Year: Psalms 87-88; Romans 13

David C. McCasland   During the August heat of 1891, R. G. Dyrenforth arrived in Midland, Texas, determined to blast rain from the sky. Known as a “concussionist,” he and his team launched and detonated huge balloons filled with explosive gases, fired cannons, and exploded piles of dynamite on the ground—shaking both earth and sky. Some believed he made it rain a little, but most said all he caused was noise. The explosive power was impressive but ineffective.

When the early church needed overseers, they sought people with a different kind of power. They chose “seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3) to manage the daily distribution of food. One of those was Stephen, a man “full of faith and power, [who] did great wonders and signs among the people” (v.8). When disputes arose, those who argued with Stephen “were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” (v.10).

The Bible makes it clear that Stephen’s spiritual effectiveness came from being filled with the Holy Spirit, who gave him the right balance of faith, wisdom, and power.

God’s Spirit in our lives today replaces the loud noise of self-interest with His gentle, life-giving rain.

Holy Spirit, I want my life to be marked by Your power. May my words and actions give life-giving rain to encourage others to know You and trust You.

In our life for Christ we accomplish nothing without the power of the Spirit.

Insight: Today’s text not only highlights the source of the power with which the Christian works—the Holy Spirit (v.5)—but also our responsibility in relation to that power—faith (vv.5,8). Stephen was a man known to be full of both.

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UnknownExample That Encourages

Read: 2 Timothy 2:1-7

I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet . . . . I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. —John 13:14-15

Bible in a Year: Psalms 84-86; Romans 12

Albert Lee   The story is told that in the late 1800s a group of European pastors attended D. L. Moody’s Bible conference in Massachusetts. Following their custom, they put their shoes outside their room before they slept, expecting them to be cleaned by hotel workers. When Moody saw the shoes, he mentioned the need to others because he knew their custom. But he was met with silence. Moody collected all the shoes and cleaned them himself. A friend who made an unexpected visit to his room revealed what Moody had done. The word spread, and the next few nights others took turns doing the cleaning.

Moody’s leadership style of humility inspired others to follow his example. The apostle Paul reminded Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:1-2 niv). When we remember that our strength is a result of God’s grace, that keeps us humble. Then in humility we pass on God’s truth by being an example that encourages and inspires others to follow.

Jesus Himself is our example of servanthood. He gave His very life for us.

Lord Jesus, I know little about humility. Show me and teach me as I read about Your example in Your Word. Give me the grace to humble myself and serve others.

Humility is the result of knowing God and knowing yourself.

Insight: Paul had been mentoring Timothy as he pastored a church in Ephesus. Paul instructed Timothy not only in matters of faith (2 Tim. 3:14-17), but in matters of church etiquette and order, and in practical matters of conducting himself in a manner that reflected the grace of Jesus Christ. The importance of the last of these is reflected in today’s passage (vv.3-6). But Paul didn’t simply give direction and instruction; he modeled what he encouraged. Modeling Christ to those around us is one of the ways we demonstrate that He is our leader (vv.2-3). We see this principle also in 1 Corinthians when Paul told the Corinthian church to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ (11:1).

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