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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Obama Disarming Christians – Arming Muslims Who Are Slaughtering Christians

obama-islam-600x371Obama Wants To Disarm American Christians, While He Gives Arms To Muslims To Slaughter Christians In The Middle East

Theodore Shoebat  7-17-14  Obama wants to disarm American Christians, while he gives arms to Muslims to slaughter Christians in the Middle East.

If Christians have no arms, they are left to the slaughter, an open field ready to be tilled and plunged into the harrowing depths of the earth.

A Christian from Iraq, named Joseph Kassab, a medical researcher at the University of Baghdad who fled persecution and now resides in the United States, had this very revealing truth to say in regards to the helplessness of the Christians:

[The Christians] are the weakest of the weak because they don’t carry arms, they don’t form a militia, they don’t have a police force, and the government is too weak to protect them

This statement contains so much reality, and should ring in our ears the knowledge of tyranny’s nature. While Obama wants to seize the guns of the American conservatives, he is giving guns to the jihadists in the Middle East, who then use those same weapons to slaughter Christians. The elitist in the United States government want to make American Christians just as vulnerable as the Christians in the Middle East.

If the Christians in the Middle East could all collectively form a militia, the Muslims would not stand a chance against such a holy band of godly warriors.

In the words of holy warrior:

Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;

To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;

To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;

To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 149:5-9)

In 2013, I wrote an article entitled, Obama Wants To Disarm Americans But Arm Terrorists, and for the sake of whats happening in both America and to the Christians now, I will post it here…

Continue reading

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-17-14

UnknownLookin’ Good!

Read: Hebrews 10:19-25

Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. —Hebrews 10:24

Bible in a Year: Psalms 18-19; Acts 20:17-38

Cindy Hess Kasper 7-17-14  After trying on my new sunglasses in the car one day, my daughter handed them back and said, “These are not sunglasses, Mom. They’re just fashion lenses. Let me guess,” she teased, “you bought them because you look cute in them.”

Okay, I have to admit—my daughter knows me. I hadn’t given a passing thought to UV rays or even whether those glasses would actually block the sun. I just really liked the way they looked on me.

Most of us like to look good. We want to appear that we “have it all together”—with no struggles or fears or temptations or heartaches.

Trying to maintain a façade of perfection on our spiritual journey doesn’t help us or our fellow travelers. But sharing our lives with others in the body of Christ benefits us as well as others. When we are a bit more transparent, we may find people who are struggling in a similar situation. And as we enjoy a growing fellowship with God and become more aware of our own brokenness and inadequacy, God is able to use us more fully to help others.

Let’s allow God to strip away any pretense and “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24 niv).

Wearing a mask that shows everything’s fine Says that life’s struggles are not God’s design; But when we’re open, transparent, and true, People will trust God to meet their needs too. —Sper

Believers stand strong when they don’t stand alone.

Insight: One of the great ongoing debates among Bible scholars involves the authorship of the letter to the Hebrews. In the early days of the church, it was generally regarded to have been written by the apostle Paul, but scholars disagree about its authorship today. Along with stylistic elements of the content that these scholars say does not match the writings of Paul, one often-cited argument against Pauline authorship is that Hebrews is anonymous, and Paul declared that he always signed his letters (2 Thess. 3:17). Some of the names offered as the possible human author of this inspired letter include Luke, Apollos, Barnabas, and Priscilla.

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Our Daily Bread 10-13-13

Facing Our Past

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41-42; 1 Thessalonians 1

David C. McCasland  Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, spent 40 years helping people hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. When he died in April 2012, one newspaper article carried the headline, “Charles Colson, Nixon’s ‘dirty tricks’ man, dies at 80.” It seemed surprising that a man so transformed by faith should be identified with things he did as a politically ruthless presidential aide decades earlier before he knew the Savior.

The apostle Paul’s conversion and his early Christian witness were greeted with skepticism and fear. When he began preaching that Jesus is the Son of God, people said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose?” (Acts 9:21). Later when Paul went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples, they were afraid of him (v.26). In years to come, Paul never ignored his past, but spoke of it as evidence of the mercy of God (1 Tim. 1:13-14).

Like Paul, we don’t need to parade our failures or to pretend they didn’t happen. Instead, we can thank the Lord that through His grace and power, our past is forgiven, our present is changed, and our future is bright with hope for all He has prepared for us.

Transformed by grace divine, The glory shall be Thine; To Thy most holy will, O Lord, We now our all resign. —Burroughs

Only Jesus can transform our life.

Originally posted 2013-10-13 06:07:14.

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-16-14

Feeling Chained?

Read: Psalm 16

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. —Philippians 4:11

Bible in a Year: Psalms 16-17; Acts 20:1-16

Dennis Fisher   Boethius lived in sixth-century Italy and served the royal court as a highly skilled politician. Unfortunately, he fell into disfavor with the king. He was accused of treason and imprisoned. While awaiting execution, he asked for writing materials so he could compose his reflections. Later, these became an enduring spiritual classic on consolation.

As Boethius sat in prison, pondering his bleak prospects, his faith in Christ infused his perspective: “Nothing is miserable but what is thought so, and contrariwise, every estate is happy if he that bears it be content.” He understood that our view of changing circumstances and contentment is a personal choice.

The apostle Paul reinforced the idea that the way we view our circumstances is more important than the circumstances themselves. While he too was in prison, he wrote: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Both men could be content because they drew their ultimate satisfaction from God, who never changes.

Do you feel chained to difficult circumstances? God can give you contentment. Lasting satisfaction can be found only with Him, for in His “presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

Lord, lead me today as You see best. Use the gifts You’ve given me to encourage others on their journey. Help me not to compare myself with others but to be content.

When all you have is God, you have all you need.

Insight: David affirms that God is his protector and provider (Ps. 16:1-2). In response to who God is, David delights in the fellowship of like-minded believers and disassociates himself from idolatry (vv.3-4). He depends on God’s Word and celebrates the security and safety he has in the Lord’s presence, not only in this present life but also beyond this life (vv.5-11).

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-15-14

UnknownTrue Loyalty

Read: 2 Corinthians 11:23-31

If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. —2 Corinthians 11:30

Bible in a Year: Psalms 13-15; Acts 19:21-41

David C. McCasland   By one estimate, more than 14 trillion frequent-flyer miles have been accumulated by people worldwide. It all started in the early 1980s, when airlines began the first frequent-flyer programs to encourage repeat business by rewarding customers for their loyalty. Accumulated miles could be redeemed for free travel, goods, and services, so it wasn’t long before people began planning their travel based as much on personal reward as on price or schedule.

The apostle Paul was an avid first-century traveler, but he wasn’t in it for the “frequent-sailor miles.” His goal was to reach as many people as he could with the good news of forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus. When some people in the city of Corinth questioned his authority, he wrote a letter describing the price he had paid to bring the gospel to others: “Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep” (2 Cor. 11:25). God gave Paul the grace and endurance to risk his life to tell people about Jesus with no thought of personal gain.

Whether we receive persecution or praise for our service to the Lord, may our focus always be loyalty to Him and gratitude for His sacrifice of love.

I am Yours, Lord, yet teach me all it means, All it involves of love and loyalty, Of holy service, full and glad, In unreserved obedience to Thee! —Bennett

Our loyalty to Jesus grows from His love for us.

Insight: To modern-day followers of Christ, the apostle Paul is held in the highest regard for his tireless work of teaching, church-planting, and writing of biblical letters. This, however, was not the case in the first century. Even after years of faithful service, Paul had to write the letter of 2 Corinthians to defend his calling and ministry, which was being questioned by people in Corinth. Today’s reading is a part of that defense of his ministry.

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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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Our Daily Bread 10-11-13

“Gorgeous Inside”

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 37-38; Colossians 3

Dave Branon  It’s a rather nondescript house that sits on a busy thoroughfare. With no distinctive characteristics, this rather plain home is easy to ignore. But as I drove past it the other day, I noticed a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Attached to the sign was a smaller notice that happily announced: “I’m gorgeous inside.” While I’m not in the market for a new house, that sign intrigued me. What could make this otherwise forgettable house gorgeous inside?

It also made me wonder: Could that sign apply to us as followers of Jesus? Think about it. No matter what we look like on the outside, shouldn’t there be within us a beauty that reveals God’s love and work in our lives?

What does the Bible say about inner beauty? We might start with Romans 7:22, which says, “In my inner being I delight in God’s law” (niv). A few verses later in Romans 8:6, Paul speaks of a Spirit-controlled mind that is characterized by “life and peace.” And in Galatians, we see that letting the Spirit take charge of our inner being will build in us the “fruit of the Spirit” (5:22), a beautiful array of qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.

Delighting in Scripture and allowing the Spirit to work in our heart will make us look good on the inside—and will pay off in a life that honors God.

Dear Lord, I pray that through the work of Your Spirit dwelling within me I will be transformed into a grand display of the fruit that will attract others to You and reflect glory back to You.

Righteousness in your heart produces beauty in your character.

Originally posted 2013-10-11 13:02:41.

OUR DAILY BREAD 7-13-14

Unknown“No Grace”

Read: 1 Peter 4:1-11

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression. —Proverbs 19:11

Bible in a Year: Psalms 7-9; Acts 18

Julie Ackerman Link   I have nicknamed our car “No Grace.” Sunday mornings are the worst. I load the car with all the stuff I need for church, get myself in my seat, close the door, and Jay starts backing out of the garage. While I am still getting settled, the seat belt warning starts buzzing. “Please,” I say to it, “all I need is another minute.” The answer, apparently, is no, because it continues buzzing until I am buckled in.

This minor annoyance is a good reminder of what life would be like if indeed there were no grace. Each of us would immediately be called to account for every indiscretion. There would be no time for repentance or change of behavior. There would be no forgiveness. No mercy. No hope.

Living in this world sometimes feels like falling into a no-grace sinkhole. When minor flaws are blown up into major indiscretions or when people refuse to overlook the faults and offenses of others, we end up burdened by the weight of guilt that we were never meant to carry. God, in His grace, sent Jesus to carry the burden for us. Those who receive God’s gift of grace have the privilege of offering it to others on Christ’s behalf: “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8).

Father God, the culture around us can seem so harsh and hard on people when they fail. Help me to show grace and patience, because You have been gracious to me and have forgiven my sin.

When we gratefully acknowledge the grace we’ve received, we joyfully give it to those in need.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-12-14

UnknownThe Power Of A Name

Read: Proverbs 18:1-10

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. —Proverbs 18:10

Bible in a Year: Psalms 4-6; Acts 17:16-34

Joe Stowell   Nicknames are often descriptive of some noticeable aspect of a person’s character or physical attributes. Growing up, my elementary school friends brutally called me “liver lips” since at that stage of development my lips seemed disproportionately large. Needless to say, I have always been glad that the name didn’t stick.

Unlike my nickname, I love the names of God that describe His magnificent characteristics. God is so wonderfully multifaceted that He has many names that communicate His capabilities and character. To name just a few, He is:

Elohim, the God above all gods Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides El-Shaddai, the almighty God Jehovah Rapha, our healer God Jehovah Shalom, our God of peace Jehovah Shamma, our God who is present Jehovah Yahweh, our loving, covenant-keeping God

It’s no wonder the writer of Proverbs encourages us to remember that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower,” that in times of need God-fearing people run to it and “are safe” (Prov. 18:10). When unwelcome circumstances threaten you and you feel vulnerable, reflect on one of God’s names. Be assured—He will be faithful to His name.

Lord, remind us that Your names reveal Your character. Help us to remember them in our times of need and distress. Thank You for the assurance that You are faithful to Your name.

God’s names, which describe His character, can bring comfort when we need it most.

Insight: The book of Proverbs provides us with insight on everything from words to work to relationships. Interestingly, sprinkled throughout the book are sayings that don’t tell us something about life but rather about God. Yet those theological truths should not be separated from the idea of practical day-to-day living. It is as important to know that the name of the Lord is strong and provides safety (18:10) as it is to know that a fool’s mouth leads to his destruction (v.7).

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-10-14

UnknownLook To The Hills

Read: Psalm 121

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. — Psalm 121:1-2

Bible in a Year: Job 41-42; Acts 16:22-40

Bill Crowder   Atop Corcovado Mountain overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, stands Christ the Redeemer, one of the tallest statues of Christ in the world. Standing 30 meters tall, with arms spreading 28 meters, this sculpture weighs 635 metric tons. It can be seen day or night from almost anywhere in the city. One look to the hills brings this figure of Christ the Redeemer into view.

The New Testament tells us that Christ is not only the Redeemer, but He is also the Creator of the universe, and that Creator is in view in Psalm 121. There the psalmist challenges us to lift our eyes to the hills to see God, for our “help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (vv.1-2). He alone is sufficient to be our strength and to guide our steps as we make our way through a dangerous and troubled world.

We lift our eyes to the One who keeps us (v.3), guards us (vv.5-6), and overshadows us in the face of all types of danger. He preserves us from evil and keeps us safely in His care for all eternity (vv.7-8).

In faith, we lift our eyes to the One who is our Redeemer and Creator. He is our help and our hope and our eternal home.

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home! —Watts

Christ was lifted up that He might lift us up.

Insight: The superscription for Psalm 121 is “A Song of Ascents.” This designation is actually given to the collection of psalms that includes Psalms 120–134. Called “a psalter within the psalter” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, these songs were sung by Jewish pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem for the three primary feast times of the year. The reason for calling them songs of “ascent” is that Jerusalem is the highest point in Israel, so people going to Jerusalem were always going up.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-9-14

UnknownAsking Different Questions

Read: Job 38:1-11

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? —Job 38:4

Bible in a Year: Job 38-40; Acts 16:1-21

Dave Branon   When tragedy strikes, questions follow. Our loss of a loved one may lead us to ask God any number of pointed questions: “Why did You let this happen?” “Whose fault was this?” “Don’t You care about my pain?” Believe me, as the grieving father of a teenager who died tragically I have asked these very questions.

The book of Job records the questions Job asks as he sits down with friends to lament his suffering. He had lost his family as well as his health and possessions. At one point, he asks, “Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter of soul?” (3:20). Later, he asks, “What strength do I have, that I should hope?” (6:11). And, “Does it seem good to You that You should oppress?” (10:3). Many have stood near a headstone placed too early and asked similar questions.

But when you read all the way to the end of the book, you get a surprise. When God responds to Job (chs. 38–41), He does it in an unexpected way. He turns the tables and asks Job questions—different questions that show His wisdom and sovereignty. Questions about His magnificent creation—the earth, stars, and sea. And the questions all point to this: God is sovereign. God is all-powerful. God is love. And God knows what He is doing.

We comprehend Him not, Yet earth and heaven tell, God sits as sovereign on the throne, And ruleth all things well. —Gerhardt

Our greatest comfort in sorrow is to know that God is in control.

Insight: Our familiarity with the story of Job may cause us to overlook some of the significant aspects of his story. It is important to notice the unity of the book of Job. The wisdom, power, and control that God asks Job to consider in chapters 38–41 is the same wisdom, power, and control we read about in the opening chapters when God allows Satan to turn Job’s life upside down and inside out. We should not disconnect God’s wisdom seen in the world around us from the wisdom with which He works in our lives.

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OUR DAILY BREAD 7-8-14

UnknownUncertain Times

Read: Philippians 4:6-9

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

Bible in a Year: Job 36-37; Acts 15:22-41

Po Fang Chia   During a major economic downturn several years ago, many people lost their jobs. Sadly, my brother-in-law was one of them. Writing to me about their situation, my sister shared that although there were uncertainties, they had peace because they knew that God would care for them.

Believers in Jesus can have peace in the midst of uncertainties because we have the assurance that our heavenly Father loves His children and cares for our needs (Matt. 6:25-34). We can bring all our concerns to Him with an attitude of thankfulness, trusting Him to meet our needs and give us peace (Phil. 4:6-7).

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” writes the apostle Paul, “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (v.7). To say the peace of God surpasses all understanding reveals that we can’t explain it, but we can experience it as He guards our hearts and minds.

Our peace comes from the confidence that the Lord loves us and He is in control. He alone provides the comfort that settles our nerves, fills our minds with hope, and allows us to relax even in the midst of changes and challenges.

Heavenly Father, You are all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving. In the midst of uncertainties, help me to rest in the certainty of who You are. I thank You that Your peace will guard my heart. I place my trust in You. 

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. —Isaiah 26:3 

Insight: Jesus taught us not to worry, because we can entrust our needs to our heavenly Father who loves us and cares for us deeply (Matt. 6:25-34; 7:9-11; 1 Peter 5:7). In Philippians 4, Paul follows Jesus’ example and encourages us to replace our anxieties with expectant trust and grateful prayer. The “peace of God” (v.7) is not a psychological state of mind but an inner calm or tranquility. This peace comes from a confident trust in God who answers prayers (v.6), from a disciplined spiritual perspective, and from a deliberate practice of Christian virtues (v.9). Those who entrust themselves to God will not only experience the peace of God (v.7), but “the God of peace” Himself will be with them (v.9).

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