OUR DAILY BREAD 10-31-14

UnknownWhat Love Is

Read: Romans 5:1-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing love!

How can it be

That Thou, my God,

Shouldst die for me? —Wesley

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

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

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-30-14

UnknownMusic And Megaphone

Read: 2 Corinthians 3:17-4:7

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing is unusable in God’s hands.

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

 

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-29-14

UnknownShadowed

Read: Jeremiah 42:1-12

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

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

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

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

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

Trust when your skies are darkening,

Trust when your light grows dim,

Trust when the shadows gather,

Trust and look up to Him. —Anon.

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

 

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-28-14

UnknownWorking For The Wind

Read: Ecclesiastes 5:10-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-27-14

UnknownNew To The Family

Read: Luke 15:3-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

The One who made the heavens,

Who died on Calvary,

Rejoices with His angels

When one soul is set free. —Fasick

Angels rejoice when we repent.

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

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-26-14

UnknownAll Together

Read: Psalm 98:1-9

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

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

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

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

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

Let us celebrate together,

Lift our voice in one accord,

Singing of God’s grace and mercy

And the goodness of the Lord. —Sper

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

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

 

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Our Daily Bread 9-3-13

Not Interested In Religion

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

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

Anne Cetas  A radio ad for a church caught my attention: “Because you’ve heard about Christianity, you might not be interested in religion. Well, it might surprise you—Jesus wasn’t interested in religion either. But He was big on relationship and teaching us to love one another.” It continued, “You may not like everything about our church, but we offer authentic relationship, and we’re learning to love God and each other. You’re welcome to visit.”

This church may have overstated things about Jesus and religion because Scripture does speak of “true religion” in James 1:27 as helpful deeds toward others. But Jesus did have difficulties with religious people of His day. He said the Pharisees, guided by tradition and rules not by love for the Lord, “outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside [they] are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:28). They didn’t have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42). Jesus wanted relationship with them, but they were “not willing to come to [Him]” (v.40).

If being “religious” means following a set of rules so we can look good—instead of enjoying a relationship with the Savior—Jesus isn’t interested. He offers forgiveness and love to all who want an intimate relationship with Him.

True religion is to know – The love that Christ imparts; -True religion is to show – This love to burdened hearts. —D. DeHaan

There is a longing in every heart that only Jesus can satisfy.

Originally posted 2013-09-03 13:09:46.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-25-14

UnknownFirst Response

Read: James 5:13-16

Be anxious for nothing, but . . . let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 6-8; 1 Timothy 5

Cindy Hess Kasper   When my husband, Tom, was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, I began to call family members. My sister and her husband came right away to be with me, and we prayed as we waited. Tom’s sister listened to my anxious voice on the phone and immediately said, “Cindy, can I pray with you?” When my pastor and his wife arrived, he too prayed for us (James 5:13-16).

Oswald Chambers wrote: “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”

At its root, prayer is simply a conversation with God, spoken in the expectation that God hears and answers. Prayer should not be a last resort. In His Word, God encourages us to engage Him in prayer (Phil. 4:6). We also have His promise that when “two or three are gathered together” in His name, He will be “there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).

For those who have experienced the power of the Almighty, our first inclination often will be to cry out to Him. Nineteenth-century pastor Andrew Murray said: “Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us.”

When I come before His presence

In the secret place of prayer,

Do I know the wondrous greatness

Of His power to meet me there? —Hallen

Pray first!

Insight: The book of James is often referred to as the Proverbs of the New Testament. This is an accurate description, for James is filled with practical advice for daily life as a Christian. In today’s passage, James points out that prayer is the appropriate response to any situation. If we suffer, we should pray. If we are happy, we should pray. If we are sick, prayer is the response. James uses a device called merism, which describes the whole by its parts. He highlights the extremes of life—suffering, happiness, sickness—to say that everything in between is included. Like Paul, James is telling us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-24-14

th122Tiny Island

Read: Titus 3:1-7

Speak evil of no one, . . . be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. —Titus 3:2

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 3-5; 1 Timothy 4

Poh Fang Chia   Singapore is a tiny island. It’s so small that one can hardly spot it on the world map. (Try it, if you don’t already know where Singapore is.) Because it is densely populated, consideration of others is especially important. A man wrote to his fiancée who was coming to Singapore for the first time: “Space is limited. Therefore . . . you must always have that sense of space around you. You should always step aside to ensure you are not blocking anyone. The key is to be considerate.”

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus, a young pastor: “Remind the people . . . to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2 niv). It has been said, “Our lives may be the only Bible some people read.” The world knows that Christians are supposed to be different. If we are cantankerous, self-absorbed, and rude, what will others think about Christ and the gospel we share?

Being considerate is a good motto to live by and is possible as we depend on the Lord. And it is one way to model Christ and demonstrate to the world that Jesus saves and transforms lives.

Dear Lord, help us to be gracious, kind, and considerate not only in the church but also in our community.    May the world who watches see transformed people and believe in Your transforming power.

Your witness is only as strong as your character.

Insight: According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Titus “was with Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, and accompanied them to the council at Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-3; Acts 15:2) . . . . He appears to have been a Gentile, and to have been chiefly engaged in ministering to Gentiles; for Paul sternly refused to have him circumcised . . . . [Later] he was sent by Paul to Corinth for the purpose of getting the contributions of the church there in behalf of the poor saints at Jerusalem sent forward (2 Cor. 8:6, 12:18).”

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-23-14

UnknownClean The Closet

Read: Psalm 139:13-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart. —Psalm 139:23

Bible in a YearJeremiah 1-2; 1 Timothy 3

Joe Stowell   To this day I can still hear my mother telling me to go and clean up my room. Dutifully, I would go to my room to start the process, only to get distracted by reading the comic book that I was supposed to put neatly in the stack. But soon the distraction was interrupted by my mother warning that she would be up in 5 minutes to inspect the room. Unable to effectively clean the room in that time, I would proceed to hide everything I didn’t know what to do with in the closet, make the bed, and then wait for her to come in—hoping that she wouldn’t look in the closet.

This reminds me of what many of us do with our lives. We clean up the outside of our lives hoping that no one will look into the “closet” where we have hidden our sins by rationalization and excuses and by blaming others for our own faults.

The problem is that while looking good on the outside, we remain well aware of the mess on the inside. The psalmist encourages us to submit to the cleansing inspection of God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). Let’s invite Him to inspect and cleanse every corner of our lives.

Lord, forgive me for looking good on the

outside while attempting to hide my faults and

failings. I desire for You to cleanse my life so

that I may walk with You in full integrity.

We can own up to our wrongs— because we can’t hide them from God anyway.

Insight: In Psalm 139, David invites us to meditate on the attributes of God. He is omniscient, or all-knowing (vv.1-4); omnipresent, or ever-present (vv.5-12); and omnipotent, or all-powerful (vv.13-18). In today’s text, David writes of the human body as a masterpiece created by the all-powerful Creator. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (vv.13-15). Mindful of the wickedness around him (vv.19-22), David closes his psalm with a prayer of loyalty and commitment (vv.23-24).

 

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-22-14

UnknownOne Who Understands

Read: Psalm 139:7-12

The Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. —1 Chronicles 28:9

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 65-66; 1 Timothy 2

David H. Roper   My friend’s husband was in the last stages of dementia. In his first introduction to the nurse who was assigned to care for him, he reached out for her arm and stopped her. He said he wanted to introduce her to his best friend—one who loved him deeply.

Since no one else was in the hall, the nurse thought he was delusional. But as it turned out he was speaking of Jesus. She was deeply touched but had to hurry on to care for another patient. When she returned, the darkness had closed in again and the man was no longer lucid.

Even though this man had descended into the darkness of dementia, he knew that the Lord was his best Friend. God dwells in the fathomless depth that is our soul. He can pierce the darkest mind and assure us of His tender, loving care. Indeed, the darkness shall not hide us from Him (Ps. 139:12).

We do not know what the future holds for us or those we love. We too may descend into the darkness of mental illness, Alzheimer’s, or dementia as we age. But even there the Lord’s hand will lead us and His right hand will hold us tight (v.10). We cannot get away from His love and personal care.

God knows each winding way I take,

And every sorrow, pain, and ache;

And me He never will forsake—

He knows and loves His own. —Bosch

Jesus loves me. This I know.

Insight: Today’s passage, a standard text on the doctrine of God’s omnipresence—God is everywhere all the time—is also one of deep comfort. These verses offer assurance that no matter where we go, even if we are trying to run from God (see v.7), we cannot separate ourselves from Him. This is the same idea that Paul elaborates on in his letter to the church in Rome: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). These verses not only point out that nothing can separate us from His presence, they also beautifully state that nothing can keep us from God’s love.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-21-14

UnknownUndeserved Praise

Read: Luke 5:27-32

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. —Luke 5:32

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 62-64; 1 Timothy 1

Julie Ackerman Link   Even before I could afford a self-cleaning oven, I managed to keep my oven clean. Guests even commented on it when we had them over for a meal. “Wow, your oven is so clean. It looks like new.” I accepted the praise even though I knew I didn’t deserve it. The reason my oven was clean had nothing to do with my meticulous scrubbing; it was clean because I so seldom used it.

How often, I wonder, am I guilty of accepting undeserved admiration for my “clean” life? It’s easy to give the impression of being virtuous; simply do nothing difficult, controversial, or upsetting to people. But Jesus said we are to love people who don’t agree with us, who don’t share our values, who don’t even like us. Love requires that we get involved in the messy situations of people’s lives. Jesus was frequently in trouble with religious leaders who were more concerned about keeping their own reputations clean than they were about the spiritual condition of those they were supposed to care for. They considered Jesus and His disciples unclean for mingling with sinners when they were simply trying to rescue people from their destructive way of life (Luke 5:30-31).

True disciples of Jesus are willing to risk their own reputations to help others out of the mire of sin.

Dear Lord, give me a heart of compassion for those who are lost in sin.

Help me not to be concerned about what others think of me

but only that Your holy name will be honored.

Christ sends us out to bring others in.

Insight: The role of tax collector in first-century Israel was quite different from what we would think today. Ancient Rome operated on the back of the taxes drained from conquered lands like Israel. This was overseen by the local governor (or procurator), but it was actually accomplished by local citizens like Levi (also known as Matthew), who worked for Rome. These tax collectors, however, were not viewed as simple agents or bureaucrats. They were known to charge higher taxes than were due and to pocket the excess. They were despised as collaborators who had aligned themselves with the hated occupying force. The taxes they collected were a continuing symbol of the oppression the Jews felt as a conquered people, and the tax collectors were considered participants in that oppression.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-20-14

UnknownA War Of Words

Read: Proverbs 15:1-23

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. —Proverbs 15:1

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 59-61; 2 Thessalonians 3

David C. McCasland   On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia in response to the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie. Within 90 days, other European countries had taken sides to honor their military alliances and pursue their own ambitions. A single event escalated into World War I, one of the most destructive military conflicts of modern time.

The tragedy of war is staggering, yet our relationships and families can begin to fracture with only a few hateful words. James wrote, “See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:5). A key to avoiding verbal conflict is found in Proverbs: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1).

A small comment can start a large fight. When we, by God’s grace, choose not to retaliate with our words, we honor Jesus our Savior. When He was abused and insulted, He fulfilled the prophetic words of Isaiah, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7).

Proverbs urges us to speak the truth and seek peace through our words. “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, . . . and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (15:4,23).

A careless word may kindle strife,

A cruel word may wreck a life;

A timely word may lessen stress,

A loving word may heal and bless. —Anon.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Insight: A major theme in Proverbs concerns the use of our tongues (10:19-21; 12:18, 13:3; 17:27-28; 18:6-8; 25:11; 26:18-22). Proverbs 15 warns of the consequences of using wrong words and the benefits of using right words. A wise person is carefully restrained and judicious when speaking (vv.2,7,28).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-19-14

UnknownThe Right Foundation

Read: Matthew 7:24–29

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. —Matthew 7:24

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 56-58; 2 Thessalonians 2

Marion Stroud  “I’ve got bad news for you,” said the builder, who was renovating an old house I had inherited. “When we started to convert the back half of the garage for your office, we found that the walls had almost no foundation. We will have to demolish them, dig proper foundations, and start again.”

“Do you have to do that?” I pleaded, silently calculating the extra cost. “Can’t you just patch it up?” But the builder was adamant. “Unless we go down to the proper depth, the building inspector won’t approve it. The right foundation is vital.”

The right foundation makes the difference between something that lasts and something temporary. Jesus knew that though foundations are invisible, they are vitally important to the strength and stability of the house (Matt. 7:24-25), especially when it is battered by the elements. He also knew the hearts of His listeners. They would be tempted to take the easy way, find shortcuts, or do things by halves to gain their objectives.

Other foundations may be quicker and easier. Building our lives on the right foundation is hard work, but God’s truth is the only bedrock worth building on. When the storms of life hit, houses built on and held together by Him stand firm.

Father, the winds of life’s storms can be

powerful and threatening. Thank You for the

foundation of the truth of Your faithfulness. Help

me to rely on Your strength in my storms.

The wise man builds his house upon the Rock.

Insight: Jesus had just finished giving His “Sermon on the Mount” when He used the analogy found in today’s passage. His teachings provide a stable foundation that will weather any storm. The wind, the rain, and the house are not the problem. The house built on the sand fell down because the sand provided no support in the wind and rain. The wind and rain washed and blew away the foundation so that there was nothing to support the house. Even the best house will crumble with no foundation.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-18-14

UnknownA Genuine Friend

Read: 1 Samuel 20:32-42

Two are better than one. —Ecclesiastes 4:9

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

Jennifer Benson Schuldt  In the novel Shane, a friendship forms between Joe Starrett, a farmer on the American frontier, and Shane, a mysterious man who stops to rest at the Starrett home. The men first bond as they work together to remove a giant tree stump from Joe’s land. The relationship deepens as Joe rescues Shane from a fight and Shane helps Joe improve and guard his farmland. The men share a sense of mutual respect and loyalty that reflects what Scripture says: “Two are better than one . . . . If they fall, one will lift up his companion” (Eccl. 4:9-10).

Jonathan and David modeled this principle as well. Circumstances tested their friendship when David suspected that King Saul wanted him dead. Jonathan doubted this, but David believed it to be true (1 Sam. 20:2-3). Eventually, they decided David would hide in a field while Jonathan questioned his father about the matter. When Saul’s deadly intent became clear, the friends wept together and Jonathan blessed David as he fled (v.42).

You have a genuine friend in Jesus if you have accepted His offer of salvation—a friend who is always loyal; one who lifts you when you stumble. He has shown you the greatest love one friend can have for another—love that led Him to sacrifice His life for you (John 15:13).

What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer! —Scriven

Jesus is your most trusted Friend.

Insight: Jonathan’s friendship with David was marked by brotherly affection, but it also displayed Jonathan’s self-sacrifice. The throne that would have been his destiny as the son of King Saul had already been given to David (1 Sam. 16:10-13).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-17-14

UnknownFrom Peeker To Seeker

Read: Jonah 1:1–2:2

I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. —Jonah 2:2

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 50-52; 1 Thessalonians 5

Randy Kilgore   When our daughter was too young to walk or crawl, she created a way to hide from people when she wanted to be left alone or wanted her own way. She simply closed her eyes. Kathryn reasoned that anyone she couldn’t see also couldn’t see her. She used this tactic in her car seat when someone new tried to say hello; she used it in her highchair when she didn’t like the food; she even used it when we announced it was bedtime.

Jonah had a more grown-up strategy of hiding, but it wasn’t any more effective than our daughter’s. When God asked him to do something he didn’t want to do, he ran in the opposite direction. But he found out pretty quickly there is no place God couldn’t find him. In fact, Scripture is full of stories of God finding people when they didn’t necessarily want to be found (Ex. 2:11–3:6; 1 Kings 19:1-7; Acts 9:1-19).

Maybe you have tried to hide from God, or maybe you think even God can’t see you. Please know this: If God sees and hears the prayer of a rebellious prophet in the belly of a big fish, then He sees and hears you wherever you are, whatever you’ve done. But that’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s actually a great comfort. He’s always there, and He cares!

Thank You, God, that You are there for us.

We hear Your words: “You will seek Me

and find Me, when you search for Me

with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).

We need not fear the troubles around us as long as the eye of the Lord is on us.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-16-14

UnknownMysterious Detours

Read: Genesis 12:1-10; 13:1

Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. —Psalm 22:4

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 47-49; 1 Thessalonians 4

Dave Branon   Before my wife and I embarked on a 400-mile road trip, I set up the GPS with our daughter’s home in Missouri as the destination. As we traveled through Illinois, the GPS instructed us to get off the Interstate, resulting in a detour through the city of Harvey. After the GPS directed us back to
I-80, I was baffled by this mysterious detour. Why were we directed off a perfectly good highway?

I’ll never know the answer. We continued on our way, and we trusted the GPS to get us there and home again.

That got me to thinking about detours in life. We may seem to be traveling on a smooth pathway. Then for some reason, God redirects us into an unfamiliar area. Perhaps it is an illness, or a crisis at work or school, or an unexpected tragedy occurs. We don’t understand what God is doing.

Abraham faced a mysterious detour when God told him, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house” (Gen. 12:1). Surely Abraham must have wondered why God was routing him to the Negev desert. But he trusted God and His good purposes.

A GPS may make mistakes, but we can trust our unfailing God (Ps. 22:4). He will guide us through all our mysterious detours and lead us where He wants us to go.

We seek Your guidance, Lord, but we understand

that our path won’t always be without challenges.

Help us to trust You through the detours—knowing

that You have our best interests and Your honor at heart.

We don’t need to see the way when we stay close to the One who does.

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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 10-15-14

UnknownSeeing Upside Down

Read: Matthew 8:1-4; 9:9-12

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. —Matthew 9:12

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 45-46; 1 Thessalonians 3

Philip Yancey   In India I worshiped among leprosy patients. Most of the medical advances in the treatment of leprosy came about as a result of missionary doctors, who were willing to live among patients and risk exposure to the dreaded disease. As a result, churches thrive in most major leprosy centers. In Myanmar I visited homes for AIDS orphans, where Christian volunteers try to replace parental affection the disease has stolen away. The most rousing church services I have attended took place in Chile and Peru, in the bowels of a federal prison. Among the lowly, the wretched, the downtrodden—the rejected of this world—God’s kingdom takes root.

Taking God’s assignment seriously means that we must learn to look at the world upside down, as Jesus did. Instead of seeking out people with resources who can do us favors, we look for people with few resources. Instead of the strong, we find the weak; instead of the healthy, the sick. Instead of the spiritual, the sinful. Is not this how God reconciles the world to Himself? “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12-13 niv).

To gain a new perspective, look at the world upside down as Jesus did.

We know, Jesus, that You sought the lowly ones

who were rejected by others. We want to be like

You. Open our eyes and show us how.

We long to be used by You to bless others.

Do you see a needy world through the eyes of Jesus?

Insight: Jesus dined with the Pharisees (Luke 7:36; 11:37), perhaps even with a member of the Sanhedrin (14:1). But Jesus ate so often with social and religious outcasts that He earned the reputation as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matt. 11:19). He even appointed a tax collector as His apostle. When the self-righteous Pharisees criticized Him for socializing with those they considered the outcasts of society, Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 10-14-14

UnknownA Forever Hello

Read: 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit. —2 Corinthians 5:5

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 43-44; 1 Thessalonians 2

Anne Cetas   After a week’s vacation with her daughter and 4-month-old grandson, Oliver, Kathy had to say goodbye until she could see them again. She wrote to me saying, “Sweet reunions like we had make my heart long for heaven. There, we won’t have to try to capture memories in our mind. There, we won’t have to pray for the time to go slowly and the days to last long. There, our hello will never turn into goodbye. Heaven will be a ‘forever hello,’ and I can’t wait.” As a first-time grandma, she wants to be with her grandson Oliver as much as possible! She’s thankful for any time she can be with him and for the hope of heaven—where the wonderful moments will never end.

Our good days do seem too short, and our difficult days far too long. But both kinds of days cause us to long for even better days ahead. The apostle Paul said that he and the Corinthians longed to be “clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor. 5:4 niv). Although the Lord is with us in this life, we cannot see Him face to face. Now we live by faith, not by sight (v.7).

God made us for the very purpose of being near to Him always (v.5). Heaven will be a forever hello.

Face to face—O blissful moment!

Face to face—to see and know;

Face to face with my Redeemer,

Jesus Christ who loves me so! —Breck

Now we see Jesus in the Bible, but then, face to face.

Insight: The opening words of today’s passage are beautiful and encouraging: “We do not lose heart.” Despite the afflictions we face, we know something greater is coming—an “eternal weight of glory” (v.17).

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