Our Daily Bread 11-30-13

Attending To Our Words

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 37-39; 2 Peter 2

David C. McCasland  A week after C. S. Lewis died in 1963, colleagues and friends gathered in the chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford, England, to pay tribute to the man whose writings had fanned the flames of faith and imagination in children and scholars alike. 

During the memorial service, Lewis’ close friend Austin Farrer noted that Lewis always sent a handwritten personal reply to every letter he received from readers all over the world. “His characteristic attitude to people in general was one of consideration and respect,” Farrer said. “He paid you the compliment of attending to your words.”

In that way, Lewis mirrored God’s remarkable attention to what we say to Him in prayer. During a time of great difficulty, the writer of Psalm 66 cried out to God (vv.10-14). Later, he praised the Lord for His help, saying, “Certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer” (v.19).

When we pray, the Lord hears our words and knows our hearts. Truly we can say with the psalmist, “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me!” (v.20). Our prayers become the avenue to a deeper relationship with Him. At all times, even in our hours of deepest need, He attends to our words.

My Savior hears me when I pray, Upon His Word I calmly rest;  In His own time, in His own way, I know He’ll give me what is best. —Hewitt

We always have God’s attention.

Originally posted 2013-11-30 13:12:50.

OUR DAILY BREAD 8-1-14

UnknownCity Of Refuge

Read: Psalm 59:10-17

I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. —Psalm 59:16

Bible in a Year: Psalms 57-59; Romans 4

Bill Crowder   As we entered a town in Australia, we were greeted by a sign that declared: “We welcome all who are seeking refuge and asylum.” This kind of welcome seems to resonate with the Old Testament concept of the cities of refuge. In the Old Testament era, cities of refuge (Num. 35:6) were established to be a safe haven for people who had accidentally killed someone and were needing protection. God had the people establish such cities to provide that refuge.

This concept, however, was not intended to be simply a practice for ancient Israel. More than that, cities of refuge reflected the heart of God for all people. He Himself longs to be our safe haven and our city of refuge in the failures, heartaches, and losses of life. We read in Psalm 59:16-17, “I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, my God of mercy.”

For the hurting heart of every generation, our “city of refuge” is not a place. Our city of refuge is a Person—the God who loves us with an everlasting love. May we find our refuge and rest in Him.

How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe, I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe; How often, when trials like sea billows roll, Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul. —Cushing  Refuge can be found in the Rock of Ages.

Insight: According to the superscription at the beginning of Psalm 59, this psalm was written to the tune of “Do Not Destroy,” which is also the tune of Psalms 57, 58, and 75. David wrote this psalm when Saul had sent assassins to watch David’s house (1 Sam. 19:11). David’s wife Michal (Saul’s daughter) helped him escape (v.12).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-31-14

UnknownJust As I Am

Read: Isaiah 55:1-7

Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live. —Isaiah 55:3

Bible in a Year: Psalms 54-56; Romans 3

Anne Cetas   Good memories flooded my mind as I sat in a concert. The group’s leader had just introduced the song they were about to sing: “Just As I Am.” I remembered how years ago at the end of his sermons my pastor would ask people to come forward while we sang that song, indicating they would like to receive the forgiveness Christ offers for their sins.

But the leader of the musical group at the concert suggested another occasion when we might sing this song. He commented that he likes to think that when he dies and goes to meet the Lord one day, he will sing in thanks to Him:

Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!

Years before writing this song, Charlotte Elliott asked a minister how she might find the Lord. He told her, “Just come to Him as you are.” She did, and later during a discouraging time of illness, she wrote this hymn about the day she came to Christ and He forgave her sin.

In His Word, the Lord encourages us to seek Him: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6). He calls to our hearts: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters . . . . Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (vv.1,3).

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can come to Him right now and will one day go into eternity to be with Him forever. Just as I am . . . I come!

Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. —Revelation 22:17

Insight: Isaiah 55 has rich words of hope for us in its first seven verses. Arguably, however, the chapter’s most familiar words are found in the next two verses: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (vv.8-9). These verses offer hope and assurance. God is in control and sees the big picture.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-30-14

UnknownFamily Trademarks

Read: 1 John 4:7-16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. —1 John 4:7

Bible in a Year: Psalms 51-53; Romans 2

Bill Crowder   The Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland, are known for their beautiful sweaters. Patterns are woven into the fabric using sheep’s wool to craft the garments. Many of them relate to the culture and folklore of these small islands, but some are more personal. Each family on the islands has its own trademark pattern, which is so distinctive that if a fisherman were to drown it is said that he could be identified simply by examining his sweater for the family trademark.

In John’s first letter, the apostle describes things that are to be trademarks of those who are members of God’s family. In 1 John 3:1, John affirms that we are indeed part of God’s family by saying, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” He then describes the trademarks of those who are the children of God, including, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7).

Because “love is of God,” the chief way to reflect the heart of the Father is by displaying the love that characterizes Him. May we allow His love to reach out to others through us—for love is one of our family trademarks.

Father, teach me to love with the love of Christ that others might see Your love reflected in my care and concern for them. May Your love drive and dominate my responses to life and to others.

Love is the family resemblance the world should see in followers of Christ.

Insight: In 1 John 4:9, John’s words parallel those of Paul in Romans 5:8, which reads: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice that with both Paul and John the emphasis is on how God’s love has been proven through the sending of His Son to us. Paul’s perspective, however, is rooted in our unworthiness while John’s focus is on the gift of life in Christ.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-29-14

UnknownConfident Access

Read: Hebrews 4:14-16

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. —Hebrews 4:16

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

Dennis Fisher   Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island located about a half-mile off the coast of Normandy, France. For centuries it has been the site of an abbey and monastery that has attracted religious pilgrims. Until the construction of a causeway, it was notorious for its dangerous access that resulted in the death of some pilgrims. At low tide it is encompassed by sand banks, and at high tide it is surrounded by water. Accessing the island was a cause for fear.

Access to God for Old Testament Jews was also a cause for fear. When God thundered on Mt. Sinai, the people feared approaching Him (Ex. 19:10-16). And when access to God was granted through the high priest, specific instructions had to be followed (Lev. 16:1-34). Accidentally touching the ark of the covenant, which represented the holy presence of God, would result in death (see 2 Sam. 6:7-8).

But because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can now approach God without fear. God’s penalty for sin has been satisfied, and we are invited into God’s presence: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace” (Heb. 4:16).

Because of Jesus we can come to God through prayer anywhere, anytime.

Then boldly let our faith address God’s throne of grace and power, There to obtain delivering grace In every needy hour. —Watts

Through prayer, we have instant access to our Father.

Insight: For Jesus to be able to identify with and to save sinful humanity, it was necessary for Him to be fully human. Earlier, the writer of Hebrews affirmed that Jesus was fully “flesh and blood” like us (2:14 niv). Here in verse 15, he further affirmed that because He has been through suffering and temptation, Jesus knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted. Jesus is therefore qualified and able to help us (Heb. 2:17-18; 5:1-2). But in order for Him to make propitiation for sins, Jesus had to be “without sin” (v.15, also 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26-27; 1 John 3:5).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 3-10-14

UnknownMake It Personal

Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 11-13; Mark 12:1-27

Dave Branon   During my days as a teacher and coach at a Christian high school, I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with teenagers, trying to guide them to a purposeful, Christlike life—characterized by love for God and love for others. My goal was to prepare them to live for God throughout life. That would happen only as they made their faith a vital part of life through the help of the Holy Spirit. Those who didn’t follow Christ floundered after they left the influence of Christian teachers and parents.

This is demonstrated in the story of King Joash of Judah and his uncle Jehoiada. Jehoiada, a wise counselor, influenced Joash to live a God-honoring life (2 Chron. 24:11,14).

The problem was that Joash did not embrace an honorable life as his own. After Jehoiada died, King Joash “left the house of the LORD” (v.18) and began to worship in a pagan way. He turned and became so evil that he had Jehoiada’s son murdered (vv.20–22).

Having someone in our lives to guide us toward faith and Christlikeness can be good and helpful. Even better is getting to know the Lord ourselves and learning to rely on the Holy Spirit to be our guide (Gal. 5:16). That is making our faith personal.

Lord, thank You for the people in my life who influence me toward following You. Help me not to depend on them primarily—but to depend on Your Holy Spirit to guide me.

The faith of others encourages; a faith of our own transforms.

Insight: Joash was the youngest king to reign in Jerusalem. Because he was 7 years old when his reign began, he was in special need of guidance. In the New Testament, Paul highlights the importance of mentors when he says, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Originally posted 2014-03-10 09:19:54.

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-28-14

UnknownCourageous And Consistent

Read: Acts 28:11-16,30-31

When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. —Acts 28:15

Bible in a Year: Psalms 46-48; Acts 28

David C. McCasland  While reading the obituary of Eugene Patterson, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the Atlanta Constitution from 1960 to 1968, I was struck by two things. First, for many years Patterson was a fearless voice for civil rights during a time when many opposed racial equality. In addition, he wrote a column every day for 8 years. That’s 2,922 newspaper columns! Day after day, year after year. Courage and consistency were key factors in the impact of his life.

We see those same qualities in the apostle Paul. Acts 13–28 records his bravery in one harrowing situation after another. After being shipwrecked on his way to stand trial before Caesar, he landed south of Rome, where many brothers in Christ came to meet him (Acts 28:11-15). “When Paul saw them,” Luke wrote, “he thanked God and took courage” (v.15). During the next 2 years as a prisoner, Paul was allowed to live in his own rented house where he “received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence” (vv.30-31).

Every follower of Jesus can be a consistent giver and receiver of courage. The Lord can use us today to encourage and strengthen each other.

O keep up your courage, each day to the end; Go forth in the strength of the Lord; Trust wholly in Jesus, thy Savior and Friend, And feed on His own blessed Word. —Miles

When people share their fears with you, share your courage with them.

Insight: Today’s passage chronicles one of Paul’s journeys and how he and his companions were received and shown hospitality. It is easy to forget that this was not a luxury cruise with an exotic island destination. During this trip, Paul was a prisoner and he and his companions (soldiers included) were met by and stayed with Christian believers. It is possible that Paul was allowed to live in his own rented home under house arrest and share the gospel (vv.30-31) because the soldiers were impressed by the hospitality that had been shown to them.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-27-14

UnknownDivine Perspective

Read: Habakkuk 2:2-14

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; . . . it will surely come. —Habakkuk 2:3

Bible in a Year: Psalms 43-45; Acts 27:27-44

Poh Fang Chia   Jason took a trip to New York during spring break. One afternoon he and some friends piled into a cab and headed for the Empire State Building. To Jason, the ride on the ground seemed chaotic and dangerous. But when he got to the observation deck of the skyscraper and looked down on the city streets, to his amazement he saw order and design. What a difference a change in perspective made!

Habakkuk learned a similar lesson. When he looked at life from his earthly vantage point, it seemed that God was indifferent to the evil permeating society (Hab. 1:2-4). But God gave him a divine perspective and showed him that life is more than what it seems. The deeds of men cannot thwart the purposes of God (2:3).

Those who don’t show any regard for God may seem to prosper at the moment, but God will ultimately right all wrong. God acts sovereignly in all that comes to pass so that everything works toward His good purpose. God’s plan will surely take place and be on schedule (v.3).

We can’t sort out the whole picture from where we are in life; only God can. So let us continue to live by faith and not by sight. From His perspective, all things are working together for the believer’s good and for His honor.

Sovereign Ruler of the skies, Ever gracious, ever wise, All my times are in Your hand, All events at Your command. —Ryland

Our times are in God’s hands; our souls are in His keeping.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-26-14

UnknownThe Work Of Our Hands

Read: Isaiah 17:7-11

Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, . . . the harvest will be a heap of ruins. —Isaiah 17:10–11

Bible in a Year: Psalms 40-42; Acts 27:1-26

Julie Ackerman Link  Spring had just turned into summer and crops were beginning to produce fruit as our train rolled across the fertile landscape of West Michigan’s shoreline. Strawberries had ripened, and people were kneeling in the morning dew to pick the sweet fruit. Blueberry bushes were soaking up sunshine from the sky and nutrients from the earth.

After passing field after field of ripening fruit, we came to a rusty pile of abandoned metal. The harsh image of orange scrap metal poking out of the earth was a sharp contrast to the soft greens of growing crops. The metal produces nothing. Fruit, on the other hand, grows, ripens, and nourishes hungry humans.

The contrast between the fruit and the metal reminds me of God’s prophecies against ancient cities like Damascus (Isa. 17:1,11). He says, “Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, . . . the harvest will be a heap of ruins” (Isa. 17:10-11). This prophecy serves as a contemporary warning about the danger and futility of thinking we can produce anything on our own. Apart from God, the work of our hands will become a pile of ruins. But when we join with God in the work of His hands, God multiplies our effort and provides spiritual nourishment for many.

Lord, I want to be a part of what You are doing in Your world. Apart from You, my work is nothing. Lead me, fill me, use me. Nourish others through me.

“Without Me you can do nothing.” —Jesus (John 15:5)

Insight: At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy, the Assyrians were a military threat to the region. The northern kingdom of Israel formed a military pact with Syria to fight the Assyrians. Because King Ahaz of Judah refused to join the alliance, Syria and Israel attacked Judah (2 Kings 16:5; Isa. 7:6). Isaiah had assured King Ahaz that God would protect and deliver Judah. But instead of trusting God for help and deliverance, Judah turned to the Assyrians for help and protection (2 Chron. 28:16-21; Isa. 7:1-12). Ahaz rejected God and turned to idols instead (2 Chron. 28:22-26). In Isaiah 17, the prophet pronounced judgment on Israel and Syria, warning that they would be defeated by the Assyrians (see also Isa. 7:17; 8:4).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 5-8-14

UnknownTalking About Jesus

Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 4-6; Luke 24:36-53

Dave Branon   Former major league baseball player Tony Graffanino tells of an ongoing ministry effort in a European country. Each year his organization holds a week-long baseball camp. During this week they also offer a daily Bible study. In past years, the leader tried to find reasoned ways to convince the campers that God exists so they would place their faith in Him. After about 13 years, they had seen only 3 people decide to follow Jesus.

Then they changed their approach, says Graffanino. Instead of “trying to present facts, or winning arguments for a debate,” they simply talked about “the amazing life and teachings of Jesus.” As a result, more campers came to listen, and more chose to follow Him.

The apostle Paul said that when we tell others about the gospel of Jesus Christ, we should set “forth the truth plainly. . . . We do not preach ourselves,” he said, “but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor. 4:2,5 niv). This was Paul’s standard for evangelism: “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

We should be knowledgeable about the Bible and about the reasons for our belief, and sometimes we need to explain those reasons. But the most compelling and effective story we can tell puts Christ in the center.

Father God, please use me in the lives of others. Remind me to talk about who Jesus is and His life and teachings. And not to be dragged into debates, but to share Jesus’ amazing life. The risen Christ is the reason for our witness.

Insight: Today’s reading showcases a remarkable spiritual reality concerning those who are resistant to the gospel. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ . . . should shine on them” (vv.3-4). The apostle Paul tells us that Satan, “the god of this age,” has produced a form of spiritual blindness that hinders one’s perception of the reality of Jesus Christ. Spiritual blindness can only be overcome by the light of Christ (v.6).

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Originally posted 2014-05-08 08:11:48.

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-25-14

UnknownLooking For Zacchaeus

Read: Luke 19:1-10

Today salvation has come to this house. —Luke 19:9

Bible in a Year: Psalms 37-39; Acts 26

Dave Branon   Alf Clark walks the city streets looking for Zacchaeus. Well, not the actual one in the Bible—Jesus already found him. Alf and some friends who serve with an urban ministry do what Jesus did in Luke 19. They go purposefully through town to meet with and help those in need.

Alf walks house to house in his neighborhood, knocking on doors and saying to whoever peeks out, “Hi, I’m Alf. Do you have any needs I can pray for?” It’s his way of opening up communication and—like Jesus did with tax-collector Zacchaeus—seeking to supply needed counsel and spiritual life and hope.

Notice what Jesus did. Luke simply says that Jesus “passed through” Jericho (Luke 19:1). Of course, a crowd gathered, as usually occurred when Jesus came to town. Zacchaeus, being “height challenged,” climbed a tree. Jesus, while passing through, walked right over to his tree and told him He had to visit at his house. That day salvation came to Zacchaeus’s house. Jesus had “come to seek and to save that which was lost” (v.10).

Do we look for Zacchaeus? He is everywhere, needing Jesus. In what ways can we share Christ’s love with people who need the Savior?

God, guide our steps toward and not away from those who need You. Then guide our words and our actions so that we can be purposeful in our encounters with others.

God’s good news is too good to keep to ourselves.

Insight: When Zacchaeus said he would “restore fourfold” (v.8), he followed the highest pattern rather than the one required under Jewish law. While fourfold restoration was required for sheep stealing (see Ex. 22:1 and David’s response to Nathan, 2 Sam. 12:5-6), the restitution for normal theft was a return of the principal plus an extra 20 percent.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-24-14

UnknownHe Calls The Stars By Name

Read: Psalm 147:1-9

He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. —Psalm 147:4

Bible in a Year: Psalms 35-36; Acts 25

David C. McCasland   On a plateau high above the Atacama Desert in Chile, the world’s largest radio telescope is giving astronomers a view of the universe never seen before. In an Associated Press article, Luis Andres Henao spoke of scientists from many countries “looking for clues about the dawn of the cosmos—from the coldest gases and dust where galaxies are formed and stars are born to the energy produced by the Big Bang.”

The Bible celebrates the mighty power and infinite understanding of God who “counts the number of the stars” and “calls them all by name” (Ps. 147:4). Yet the Creator of the universe is not a remote, uncaring force, but a loving heavenly Father who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (v.3). “The Lord lifts up the humble” (v.6) and “takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (v.11).

He loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

British author J. B. Phillips called Earth “the visited planet,” where the Prince of Glory is still working out His plan.

Our hope for today and forever lies in the loving mercy of God who calls each star by name.

The God who made the firmament, Who made the deepest sea, The God who put the stars in place Is the God who cares for me. —Berg 

God, who knows the name of every star, knows all our names as well.

Insight: The book of Psalms concludes with five hymns of praise (Psalms 146–150) that begin and end with the refrain, “Praise the Lord!” (Hebrew, Hallelujah). In Psalm 147, the psalmist calls for grateful worship (vv.1,7) as he reflects on the goodness of God to Israel (vv.2-3,6) and on His greatness in creation (vv.4-5,8-9). The psalmist celebrates God’s loving faithfulness in caring and blessing His chosen people individually (vv.2-3,7) and in displaying His mighty power in creating and sustaining His creation generally (vv.4-5,8-9). Focusing not only on God’s greatness but also on His closeness, goodness, and kindness, the psalmist affirms that it is God alone who provides security and prosperity (vv.13-14).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-23-14

UnknownWaving The White Flag

Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God. —Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Bible in a Year: Psalms 33-34; Acts 24

Joe Stowell   Recently, while watching a video of a church service held in South America, I noticed something I had never seen before in church. As the pastor passionately called his flock to yield their lives to Jesus, one of the parishioners took a white hankie out of his pocket and started waving it in the air. Then another, and another. With tears running down their cheeks, they were expressing full surrender to Christ.

But I wonder if there was more to the moment than the flags of surrender. I think they were waving flags of love to God. When God told His people to “love the Lord your God” (Deut. 6:5), it was in the context of His urging them to surrender their lives to Him.

From God’s point of view, life with Him is far more than just trying to be good. It is always about relationship—relationship in which surrender is the way we express our grateful love to Him. Jesus, in amazing love for us, surrendered Himself on the cross to rescue us from our helpless bondage to sin and set us on a journey to all that is good and glorious.

We don’t have enough words to tell God how much we love Him! So, let’s show Him our love by surrendering our hearts and lives to follow Him.

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine; Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine. Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride; I now surrender, Lord—in me abide. —Orr

Surrender is God’s love language.

Insight: Deuteronomy 6:4 contains the Shema (or Shema Yisrael). This affirmation of the oneness of God (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”) is the centerpiece of the morning and evening prayers of observant Jews. The title Shema comes from the Hebrew term for the first word in the verse, hear.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-22-14

UnknownLasting Regrets

Read: Psalm 32:1-7

When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. —Psalm 32:3

Bible in a Year: Psalms 31-32; Acts 23:16-35

Bill Crowder  While I was talking with a gifted pianist, she asked me if I played any musical instruments. When I responded, “I play the radio,” she laughed and asked if I had ever wanted to play any instrument. My embarrassed answer was, “I took piano lessons as a boy but gave it up.” Now, in my adult years, I regret not continuing with the piano. I love music and wish I could play today. That conversation was a fresh reminder to me that life is often constituted by the choices we make—and some of them produce regret.

Some choices produce much more serious and painful regrets. King David discovered this when he chose to sleep with another man’s wife and then killed that man. He described the guilt that filled him as devastating, saying, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4). But David acknowledged and confessed his sin to God and found forgiveness (v.5).

It is only from God that we can receive the grace of forgiveness when our choices have produced painful regrets. And only in Him do we find the wisdom to make better choices.

Father of mercies, forgive me for the foolish choices I have made. Please enable me to be wiser in my choices. Teach me the value of resting in Your grace.

God’s forgiveness frees us from the chains of regret.

Insight: For about a year after his adultery with Bathsheba, David refused to repent of his sins (covetousness, adultery, deceit, and murder) until the prophet Nathan confronted him (2 Sam. 11–12). David penned Psalms 32 and 51 thereafter. In today’s psalm, David speaks of the heavy burden of guilt in his year-long denial of sin (vv.3-4). He also tells of the joy of receiving God’s gift of forgiveness when, with a contrite heart, he confesses and repents (vv.1-2,5) and becomes receptive to God’s rule in his life (vv.7-11). Warning of God’s disciplining hand (v.4), David urges all who have sinned to repent without delay (v.6).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 2-23-14

UnknownLimitless Love

Bible in a Year: Numbers 7-8; Mark 4:21-41

Joe Stowell   Recently, a friend sent me the history of a hymn that I often heard in church when I was a boy:

Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole Though stretched from sky to sky.

These words are part of an ancient Jewish poem and were once found on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum.

Also, Frederick M. Lehman was so moved by the poem that he desired to expand on it. In 1917, while seated on a lemon box during his lunch break from his job as a laborer, he added the words of the first two stanzas and the chorus, completing the song “The Love of God.”

The psalmist describes the comforting assurance of God’s love in Psalm 36: “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens” (v.5 esv). Regardless of the circumstances of life—whether in a moment of sanity in a mind otherwise muddled with confusion or during a dark time of trial—God’s love is a beacon of hope, our ever-present, inexhaustible source of strength and confidence.

You are loved with everlasting love.

Insight: In this psalm, David contrasts the way of life of unbelievers (vv.1-4) and believers (vv.7-9). In conclusion, he affirms that God will protect and sustain the faithful and punish and destroy the wicked (vv.10-12). According to David, the unbelieving person is one who has “no fear of God before his eyes” (v.1).

Originally posted 2014-02-23 10:44:44.

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-21-14

UnknownWater For The World

Read: John 4:7-15 

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. —John 7:38

Bible in a Year: Psalms 29-30; Acts 23:1-15

C. P. Hia   Although 70 percent of the world is covered by water, less than 1 percent of it is drinkable by humans. Water conservation and sanitation are crucial matters in many parts of the world, as all life depends on having sanitary water.

Jesus went out of His way to introduce a lost woman to another kind of life-giving water. He deliberately chose to go to a town in Samaria, a place where no respectable rabbi would set foot. There, He told this woman about “living water.” Those who drink of it, He said, “will never thirst.” It will “become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

The living water is Jesus Himself. Those who receive Him have eternal life (v.14). But the living water He provides also serves another function. Jesus said of those who receive it: “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (7:38). The living water that refreshes us is to refresh others also.

As fresh-water distribution is uneven in the world, so too is the distribution of living water. Many people do not know followers of Jesus who really care about them. It is our privilege to share Him. Christ is, after all, the living water for whom people are thirsting.

Lord Jesus, I want to live for You. May Your life and love flow through me as I go about my duties today so that others may see You through me and be drawn to the living water.

Jesus is a never-ending supply of living water for a parched world.

Insight: The stories of Nicodemus (John 3) and the woman at the well (John 4) are found side by side in Scripture, yet there is great contrast between them. Contrary to Nicodemus, the woman at the well recognized that Jesus was offering something that she could not do without. Nicodemus’ last words to Jesus were, “How can these things be?” (3:9). The woman simply responded, “Sir, give me this water” (4:15).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-20-14

UnknownSmall Ways In Small Places

Read: Isaiah 49:1-6
For who has despised the day of small things? —Zechariah 4:10
Bible in a Year: Psalms 26-28; Acts 22
Dennis H. Roper  Often I meet with people who serve in what they think are seemingly small ways in small places. They are frequently discouraged by loneliness, feeling that their acts of service are insignificant. When I hear them speak, I think of one of the angels in C. S. Lewis’ book Out of the Silent Planet. He said: “My people have a law never to speak of sizes or numbers to you. . . . It makes you do reverence to nothings and pass by what is really great.”
Sometimes culture says bigger is better—that size is the truest measure of success. It takes a strong person to resist that trend, especially if he or she is laboring in a small place. But we must not “pass by what is really great.”

It’s not that numbers aren’t important (after all, the apostles counted their converts; see Acts 2:41). Numbers represent living people with eternal needs. We should all work and pray for large numbers of people to enter the kingdom, but numbers mustn’t be the basis for self-esteem.

God doesn’t call us to find fulfillment in the amount of work we do for Him, or the number of people who are a part of that work, but in faithfully doing our work for His sake. Serving our great God with His strength in a small way is not a stepping-stone to greatness—it is greatness.

Lord, help me remember that there are no small places or small people. All are precious in Your sight. May I see the value of my work and cherish it as You do.

Anyone doing God’s work in God’s way is important in His sight.

Insight: Isaiah prophesied under Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, meaning that his ministry may have continued for more than 64 years. He was the son of Amoz (Isa.1:1), was married (his wife was referred to as “the prophetess,” 8:3), and had two sons, whose names symbolized the turbulent times in which Isaiah served his God. His first son’s name, Shear-Jashub (7:3), means “a remnant shall return” and his second son’s name, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:3), means “spoil quickly, plunder speedily.”

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-19-14

UnknownWhoppers Or Adventures?

Read: Psalm 102:18-28

But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. —Psalm 102:27

Bible in a Year: Psalms 23-25; Acts 21:18-40

Randy Kilgore  My grandfather loved to tell stories, and I loved to listen. Papaw had two kinds of tales. “Whoppers” were stories with a whiff of truth, but which changed with each new telling. “Adventures” were stories that really happened, and the facts never changed when retold. One day my grandfather told a story that just seemed too far-fetched to be true. “Whopper,” I declared, but my grandfather insisted it was true. Although his telling never varied, I simply couldn’t believe it, it was that unusual.

Then one day, while I was listening to a radio program, I heard the announcer tell a story that confirmed the truth of my grandfather’s tale. My grandfather’s “whopper” suddenly became an “adventure.” It was a moving moment of remembrance that made him even more trustworthy in my eyes.

When the psalmist wrote about the unchanging nature of God (102:27), he was offering this same comfort—the trustworthiness of God—to us. The idea is repeated in Hebrews 13:8 with these words, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” This can lift our hearts above our daily trials to remind us that an unchanging, trustworthy God rules over even the chaos of a changing world.

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

Let the sameness of God waft over your heart with His peace in your storms.

Insight: How comforting to know that God is always the same and never changes! Despite the twists and turns, ups and downs, and constant changes of our lives, we know that standing powerful and constant above it all is our God. The wonderful things that God has done for us must be preserved and told to others (v.18).

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-18-14

UnknownLiving Bridges

Read: Jeremiah 17:5-10

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. —Jeremiah 17:7

Bible in a Year: Psalms 20-22; Acts 21:1-17

Jennifer Benson Schuldt   People who live in Cherrapunji, India, have developed a unique way to get across the many rivers and streams in their land. They grow bridges from the roots of rubber trees. These “living bridges” take between 10 to 15 years to mature, but once they are established, they are extremely stable and last for hundreds of years.

The Bible compares a person who trusts in God to “a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river” (Jer. 17:8). Because its roots are well-nourished, this tree survives soaring temperatures. And during drought it continues to yield fruit.

Like a firmly rooted tree, people who rely on God have a sense of stability and vitality despite the worst circumstances. In contrast, people who place their trust in other humans often live with a sense of instability. The Bible compares them to desert shrubs that are frequently malnourished and stand alone (v.6). So it is with the spiritual lives of people who forsake God.

Where are our roots? Are we rooted in Jesus? (Col. 2:7). Are we a bridge that leads others to Him? If we know Christ, we can testify to this truth: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord (Jer. 17:7).

Jesus is all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all; He is my strength from day to day, Without Him I would fall. —Thompson

Even strong trials cannot blow down a person who is rooted in God.

Insight: The heart is the very basis of character, including the mind and will. Because of our sinful nature, the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). Jeremiah debunked the popular belief that people are basically good (cf. Job 25:4; Ps. 51:5). That God examines and tests the heart is the consistent teaching of Scripture (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 6:30; Ps. 139:1-2; Jer. 11:20; Rom. 8:27; Heb. 4:12-13). Although we might try to hide our innermost thoughts and motives from others, God sees. He alone knows the true character of every person. God searches and knows us, but loves us despite our inherent sinfulness.

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