Our Daily Bread 11-21-15

Our Daily BreadWinning the Big One

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
In every field of endeavor, one award is considered the epitome of recognition and success. An Olympic gold medal, a Grammy, an Academy Award, or a Nobel Prize are among “the big ones.” But there is a greater prize that anyone can obtain.

The apostle Paul was familiar with first-century athletic games in which competitors gave their full effort to win the prize. With that in mind, he wrote to a group of followers of Christ in Philippi: “Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7). Why? Because his heart had embraced a new goal: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings” (v. 10). And so, Paul said, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (v. 12). His trophy for completing the race would be the “crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8).

Each of us can aim for that same prize, knowing that we honor the Lord in pursuing it. Every day, in our ordinary duties, we are moving toward “the big one”—“the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil. 3:14 nlt).

Dear Lord, when I get discouraged, help me to keep pressing on, looking ahead to when I will be with You forever.

What is done for Christ in this life will be rewarded in the life to come.

INSIGHT: Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is one of warmth and affection, perhaps rooted in his founding of this congregation—the first church planted in Europe. While presenting the theme of joy, the letter to the Philippians also focuses on Paul’s care for them (1:3-4), the matchless person of Christ (2:5-11), and the need for unity (4:2-3). Today’s Bible reading (3:7-14) draws our attention to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 8) and the impact that knowledge should have on our living.

Our Daily Bread 11-20-15

Our Daily BreadOur Main Concern

If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Peer pressure is part of everyday life. Sometimes we base our decisions on what other people will think or say rather than on our convictions and on what will please God. We’re worried that we’ll be judged or made fun of.

The apostle Paul experienced his fair share of peer pressure. Some Jewish Christians believed that Gentiles should be circumcised to be truly saved (Gal. 1:7; see 6:12-15). However, Paul stood his ground. He continued to preach that salvation is by grace through faith alone; no further works are required. And for that he was accused of being a self-appointed apostle. They further asserted that his version of the gospel had never received the apostles’ approval (2:1-10).

Despite the pressure, Paul was very clear about whom he served—Christ. God’s approval mattered most, not man’s. He made it his goal not to win the approval of people, but of God (1:10).

Similarly, we are Christ’s servants. We serve God whether people honor or despise us, whether they slander or praise us. One day “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Rom. 14:12). That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t consider what people think or say, but ultimately, we make pleasing God our main concern. We want to hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:23).

Dear Lord, no matter what others may say or do, give me the courage to be faithful to You today.

Keep following Jesus.

INSIGHT: Because the risen Christ called Paul to be an apostle on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-18; 22:1-15; 26:9-18), Paul acknowledges that his apostleship was different from the original 12 apostles (Gal. 1:11-17), but it was clearly accepted by them (1:18; 2:7-10). Because Christianity was birthed in Judaism, adhering to the Mosaic law became an issue as more Gentiles became believers. The Judaizers taught that Christians must follow Jewish laws and practices in order to be saved. Paul wrote this letter to counter and condemn this false teaching (vv. 8-9), affirming that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by observing the law (Gal. 2:16,20-21; 3:11,24).

Our Daily Bread 11-19-15

Our Daily BreadAs It Is Written

[They] built the altar . . . to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written. —nkjv Ezra 3:2

When it comes to putting things together—electronics, furniture, and the like—my son and I have differing approaches. Steve is more mechanically inclined, so he tends to toss the instructions aside and just start in. Meanwhile, I’m poring over the “Read This Before Starting” warning while he has already put the thing halfway together.

Sometimes we can get by without the instructions. But when it comes to putting together a life that reflects the goodness and wisdom of God, we can’t afford to ignore the directions He’s given to us in the Bible.

Jesus shows us the way to live.

The Israelites who had returned to their land after the Babylonian captivity are a good example of this. As they began to reestablish worship in their homeland, they prepared to do so “in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses” (Ezra 3:2). By building a proper altar and in celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles as prescribed by God in Leviticus 23:33-43, they did exactly what God’s directions told them to do.

Christ gave His followers some directions too. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37,39). When we believe in Him and come to Him, He shows us the way to live. The One who made us knows far better than we do how life is supposed to work.

Remind us, Lord, as we start each day that You have already shown us by Your example how to live. Help us to read Your Word and follow the directions You so graciously provide for us.

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If we want God to lead us, we must be willing to follow Him.

INSIGHT: Twice in today’s passage Ezra records that the people returning from exile did things “in accordance with what is written” (vv. 2,4). However, what makes these statements impressive is what is found in the middle of the paragraph. They did all these things “despite their fear of the peoples around them”—the residents of Judah who were not part of the returning exiles (v. 3).

Our Daily Bread 11-18-15

Our Daily BreadReflecting the Son

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Due to its location among sheer mountains and its northern latitude, Rjukan, Norway, does not see natural sunlight from October to March. To lighten up the town, the citizens installed large mirrors on the mountainside to reflect the sunrays and beam sunlight into the town square. The continuous glow is made possible because the giant mirrors rotate with the rising and setting sun.

I like to think of the Christian life as a similar scenario. Jesus said His followers are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). John the disciple wrote that Christ the true light “shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). So too, Jesus invites us to reflect our light into the darkness around us: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). That is a call for us to show love in the face of hatred, patience in response to trouble, and peace in moments of conflict. As the apostle Paul reminds us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

Jesus also said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Our light is a reflection of Jesus the Son. Just as without the sun the large mirrors of Rjukan would have no light to reflect, so too we can do nothing without Jesus.

Teach us, Lord, what it is to reflect Your light, especially when life’s demands can tempt us to live selfishly. Help us today to live in Your love.

Reflect the Son and shine for Him.

INSIGHT: The concept of light shining in the darkness is one of the primary themes of John’s writings, but it also has a strategic place in Matthew’s gospel. After Jesus returned from being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Matthew records the launching of Jesus’ public ministry by quoting the words of Isaiah the prophet: “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matt. 4:16; Isa. 9:2). These words provide the context for Jesus’ instruction in today’s reading about being a light to others.

Our Daily Bread 11-17-15

Our Daily BreadSafe in His Arms

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

I sat next to my daughter’s bed in a recovery room after she had undergone surgery. When her eyes fluttered open, she realized she was uncomfortable and started to cry. I tried to reassure her by stroking her arm, but she only became more upset. With help from a nurse, I moved her from the bed and onto my lap. I brushed tears from her cheeks and reminded her that she would eventually feel better.

Through Isaiah, God told the Israelites, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). God promised to give His children peace and to carry them the way a mother totes a child around on her side. This tender message was for the people who had a reverence for God—those who “tremble at his word” (v. 5).

We can depend on God’s love to support us when we suffer.

God’s ability and desire to comfort His people appears again in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian believers. Paul said the Lord is the one “who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). God is gentle and sympathetic with us when we are in trouble.

One day all suffering will end. Our tears will dry up permanently, and we will be safe in God’s arms forever (Rev. 21:4). Until then, we can depend on God’s love to support us when we suffer. 

Dear God, help me to remember that nothing can separate me from Your love. Please assure me of Your care through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God comforts His people.

INSIGHT: Having warned of exile in Babylon (Isa. 39:6-7), Isaiah now comforts the Israelites with the promise that God will bring them back to Judea and bless them (chs. 40–66). This restoration is so certain and swift that it is likened to a woman giving birth to a child before she even experiences labor pains (39:7-8). What God promises, He fulfills (v. 9). God will love His people like a mother loves her child (v. 13).

Our Daily Bread 11-16-15

Our Daily BreadShared Struggles

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. —nlt Galatians 6:2

J.R. Hudberg April 25, 2015, marked the 100th commemoration of Anzac Day. It is celebrated each year by both Australia and New Zealand to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought together during World War I. It marks a time when neither country had to face the dangers of war alone; soldiers from both countries engaged in the struggle together.

Sharing life’s struggles is fundamental to the way followers of Christ are called to live. As Paul challenged us, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2 nlt). By working together through life’s challenges we can help to strengthen and support one another when times are hard. By expressing toward one another the care and affections of Christ, the difficulties of life should draw us to Christ and to each other—not isolate us in our suffering. By sharing in the struggles of another, we are modeling the love of Christ. We read in Isaiah, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4 nkjv). No matter how great the struggle we face, we never face it alone.

Thank You, Father, that I don’t have to walk my life’s journey alone. You are near. Read more about the nearness of God in The Lord Is My Shepherd at discoveryseries.org/hp952  

We can go a lot further together than we can alone.

INSIGHT: In Galatians 6:2 Paul instructs the Galatian believers to carry each other’s burdens. However, in verse 5 Paul says that each person should carry his own load. In the case of carrying each other’s burdens, we are to do so in the context of someone caught in sin (v. 1). However, in the case of carrying our own load, it is so that we do not compare ourselves to others and become unduly disheartened by our progress (or lack of it). 

Our Daily Bread 11-15-15

Our Daily BreadWho We Are

You are . . . God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Bill Crowder In her autobiography, Corrie ten Boom described her and her sister Betsie’s horrific time in a Nazi concentration camp in the early 1940s. On one occasion they were forced to take off their clothes during an inspection. Corrie stood in line feeling defiled and forsaken. Suddenly, she remembered that Jesus had hung naked on the cross. Struck with wonder and worship, Corrie whispered to her sister, “Betsie, they took His clothes too.” Betsie gasped and said, “Oh, Corrie, . . . and I never thanked Him.”

It is easy for us to live thanklessly in a world that is full of trouble, struggles, and woes. On any given day we can find many reasons to complain. However, Psalm 100 exhorts God’s people to be glad, joyful, and thankful for “it is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (v. 3). As we remember who we are, we can respond in thanksgiving. For even in the worst of times, we can remember Christ’s love and sacrifice for us.

Don’t let the brutality of the world take away your thankful heart. Remember you are God’s child, and He has shown you His goodness and mercy through His work on the cross.

I thank You, Lord, that though my heart can grow cold at times, when I remember that I am Yours and You are mine, I’m encouraged yet again. Thank You for Your love for me, for Your mercy, and Your sacrifice.

Praise comes naturally when you count your blessings.

INSIGHT: Psalm 100 is a doxology, a statement or word (logos) describing the glory (doxa) of God. This psalm forms the conclusion to a series of psalms that celebrate the Lord’s rule in power, glory, and grace. In spite of its brevity, it is considered preeminent among the psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Its superscription—“For giving grateful praise”—is unique to this song. Psalm 100 is used often in liturgical worship and is the basis for several hymns, including “All People that on Earth Do Dwell.”

Our Daily Bread 11-13-15

Our Daily BreadThe Big Stink

God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:5

J.R. Hudberg In August 2013, large crowds gathered at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to witness the blooming of the tropical plant known as the corpse flower. Since the flower is native to Indonesia, and may flower only220px-Titan-arum1web once every several years, its blooming is a spectacle. Once open, the huge spiky, beautiful, red
bloom smells like rotten meat. Because of its putrid fragrance, the flower attracts flies and beetles that are looking for rotting meat. But there is no nectar. 
Like the corpse flower, sin holds out promises but in the end offers no rewards. Adam and Eve found this out the hard way. Eden was beautiful until they ruined it by doing the one thing God urged them not to do. Tempted to doubt God’s goodness, they ignored their Creator’s loving warning and soon lost their innocence. The God-given beauty of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil became like a corpse flower to them. The reward for their disobedience was alienation, pain, emptiness, toil, and death.

God made us to share in His life & joy.

Sin looks inviting and may feel good, but it doesn’t compare with the wonder, beauty, and fragrance of trusting and obeying God, who has made us to share His life and joy.

What temptations are you facing today? Remember that God promises to help you fight against temptation. Ask Him to help you remember to rely on Him.

God’s commands can overpower Satan’s suggestions.

INSIGHT: Today’s passage records the entrance of sin into an innocent world. But it also records God’s grace in response to sin. Rather than let Adam and Eve eat from the tree of life and live forever in their sin, God graciously blocked the way to that tree (vv. 22-23). 

Our Daily Bread 11-12-15

Our Daily BreadOf Geese and Difficult People

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Dennis Moles When we first moved into our present home, I enjoyed the beauty of the geese that nest nearby. I admired the way they cared for each other and the way they moved in straight lines in the water and in majestic V-formations in the air. It was also a joy to watch them raise their young.

Then summer came, and I discovered some less beautiful truths about my feathered friends. You see, geese love to eat grass, and they don’t really care if it ruins the look of the lawn. Worse, what they leave behind makes a stroll across the yard a messy adventure.

God helps us see the beauty in even the most difficult people.

I think of these geese when I’m dealing with difficult people. Sometimes I wish I could simply shoo them out of my life. It’s then that God usually reminds me that there is beauty in even the most difficult person if we can get close enough to discover it, and the pain they’re giving out may be reflective of the pain they are feeling. The apostle Paul says in Romans, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (12:18). So I ask God to help me be patient with the “hard side” of others. This doesn’t always produce a happy outcome, but it is remarkable how often God redeems these relationships.

As we encounter difficult people, by God’s grace we can see and love them through His eyes.

By Your grace, Lord, help me to live peaceably with others. And help me to recognize when I’m the difficult person in other people’s lives and need Your intervention. Give me the will and desire to change.

Peace can come if we respond with a gentle answer.

INSIGHT: When the apostle Paul instructs the Roman Christians to bless rather than curse those who persecute them, he’s not talking just about words. The biblical concept of blessing and cursing nearly always meant both words and actions. In today’s passage Paul is calling for radical acts of love, for—as Jesus showed us—true love is not just conveyed by what we say but also by what we do (John 15:13; 1 John 3:18). 

Our Daily Bread 11-11-15

Our Daily BreadCrumbs of Time

Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10

Bill Crowder   A friend was coming to town. He is a very busy man and his schedule was tight, but after a difficult day in important meetings, he managed to see my family for half an hour for a quick and late dinner. We enjoyed his visit, but I remember looking at my plate and thinking, “We only got the crumbs of his time.”

Then I remembered how many times God gets the crumbs of my time—sometimes just the last minutes before I fall asleep.

Daniel was a busy man. He held a high government position in the ancient kingdom of Babylon, and I’m sure he had a full schedule. However, he had developed the habit of spending time with God—praying three times a day, praising God, and thanking Him. This routine helped him develop a strong faith that did not waver when he faced persecution (Dan. 6).

God desires a relationship with us. In the morning we can invite Him into our day, and then we can praise Him and ask Him for His help throughout the day. At other times we can treasure some time alone with Him and reflect on His faithfulness. As we spend time with God in prayer and in His Word, we grow in our relationship with Him and learn to become more and more like Him. As time with God becomes a priority, we enjoy His company more and more.

Dear Father, I want to have an intimate relationship with You. I invite You to be part of my entire day—from the time I awake until I go to sleep.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Isaiah 40:31

INSIGHT: The name Daniel means “God is my judge,” and Daniel lived a life that expressed that truth. He lived in captivity to the Babylonians, but his heart was surrendered to God.

Our Daily Bread 11-10-15

Our Daily BreadGentle Lights

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Sim Kay Tee Wang Xiaoying (pronounced Shao-ying) lives in a rural area of China’s Yunnan province. Due to health problems, her husband couldn’t find work in the fields, causing hardship for the family. Her mother-in-law attributed the trouble to Xiaoying’s faith in God. So she mistreated Xiaoying and urged her to go back to the traditional religion of her ancestors.

But because Xiaoying’s husband had observed her transformed life, he said, “Mother, it isn’t enough for Xiaoying alone to believe in God; we too should put our faith in God!” Because of the noticeable change in his wife, he is now considering the good news of Jesus.

People will watch our walk before listening to our talk. The best witness combines good behavior with appropriate words, reflecting the difference Christ makes in our lives.

This was the apostle Peter’s instruction to the first-century believers, and to us, on how we can introduce Jesus to a hostile world. He challenged his readers to be “eager to do good” (1 Peter 3:13), to live obediently in Christ, to have a good conscience, and to be prepared to explain to others why we have such hope (v. 15). If we do this, we have no reason to fear or be ashamed when people mistreat or slander us because of our beliefs.

Whatever our situation, let’s shine for Jesus where we are. He can provide the grace we need to reach even those who don’t agree with us.

Lord, we tend to react defensively when people shun us or attack us for our faith. Give us Your courage to offer wise and gentle responses when we are mistreated.

The more we live like Jesus, the more others will be drawn to Him.

INSIGHT: First Peter was written to those who were being persecuted because of their faith in Christ. In 1 Peter 2:11-25, echoing Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5:10-16, Peter encourages the believers to live holy lives and to do good works so that those who don’t believe might be won to the Lord. In today’s passage he encourages followers of Christ to remain faithful, to continue to “revere Christ as Lord,” and to be ready to share the gospel when the opportunity presents itself (3:14-16). Paul makes similar calls to godly living in his other letters (Rom. 13:12-14; Phil. 2:14-16; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Thess. 4:9-12; Titus 2:7-8). 

Our Daily Bread 11-9-15

Our Daily BreadCharity Island

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7

J.R. Hudberg Charity Island is the largest island in Saginaw Bay in the Michigan waters of Lake Huron. For many years the island has provided a lighthouse for navigational aid and a safe harbor for those sailing these waters. The island received its name because sailors believed it was there “through the charity of God.”

Sometimes in life we have to navigate through seas of troubling circumstances. Like those sailors we need guidance and a place of safety; we might wish for our own Charity Island. The psalmist understood that God is the one who can bring tranquility to troubled waters and guide us to safe harbors. He wrote, “He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (Ps. 107:29-30).

While no one asks for the storms of life, they can multiply our appreciation for the guidance and refuge God provides. He offers the light of His Spirit and His Word to guide us. It is the safe harbor of His love that we long for. He alone can be our ultimate “Charity Island.”

Father, help me to seek Your light to guide me through the storms of life. 

The living God will always be our shelter.

INSIGHT: Today’s psalm reminds us that God can indeed guide us to safe havens in the midst of life’s storms and trials. However, this psalm also reminds us that the same God who calms the storm and points the way to our “desired haven” (v. 30) is the God who sometimes stirs up the oceans in our lives. It is God who “stirred up a tempest” (v. 25) that caused the sailors to melt with fear and reel and stagger (vv. 26,27). Then “they cried out to the Lord . . . and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28). The God who stirs the seas wants us to turn to Him for help.

Our Daily Bread 11-8-15

Our Daily BreadBringing Our Friends to Jesus

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

Bill Crowder During my childhood, one of the most feared diseases was polio, often called “infantile paralysis” because most of those infected were young children. Before a preventive vaccine was developed in the mid-1950s, some 20,000 people were paralyzed by polio and about 1,000 died from it each year in the United States alone.

In ancient times, paralysis was viewed as a permanent, hopeless condition. But one group of men believed Jesus could help their paralyzed friend. While Jesus was teaching in the village of Capernaum, four of the men carried the man to Him. When they couldn’t reach Jesus because of the crowd, “they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on” (Mark 2:1-4).

Jesus is the only One who can meet our deepest needs.

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’ ” (v. 5), followed by “Get up, take your mat and go home” (v. 11). How remarkable that in response to the faith of the men who brought their friend, Jesus forgave his sins and healed his incurable condition!

When someone we know is facing serious physical difficulty or a spiritual crisis, it is our privilege to join together in prayer, bringing our friends to Jesus—the only One who can meet their deepest needs.

Lord Jesus, we know that You can speak the words of eternal life and healing to people in great need. We bring them to You in prayer today.

Praying for others is a privilege—and a responsibility.

INSIGHT: Capernaum was a fishing community on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, which essentially became the headquarters of Jesus’ northern ministry (Matt. 4:13). Home to Peter, James, John, and Andrew—four of Jesus’ disciples—Capernaum was an important village on a major trade route. The name Capernaum means “the village of Nahum,” and Nahum was one of the Old Testament prophets. This fact seems to have been conveniently ignored by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who, when debating His legitimacy as a prophet, said, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee” (John 7:52).

Our Daily Bread 11-7-15

Our Daily BreadMention the Name

I am in the Father, and . . . the Father is in me. John 14:10

A church group invited a speaker to address their meeting. “Talk about God,” the group leader told him, “but leave out Jesus.”

“Why?” the man asked, taken aback.

“Well,” the leader explained, “some of our prominent members feel uncomfortable with Jesus.  Just use God and we’ll be fine.”

Accepting such instructions, however, was a problem for the speaker who said later, “Without Jesus, I have no message.”

Something similar was asked of followers of Jesus in the days of the early church. Local religious leaders conferred together to warn the disciples not to speak about Jesus (Acts 4:17). But the disciples knew better. “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard,” they said (v. 20).

To claim to believe in God and not in His Son Jesus Christ is a contradiction in terms. In John 10:30, Jesus clearly describes the unique relationship between Himself and God: “I and the Father are one”—thus establishing His deity. That is why He could say, “You believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). Paul knew that Jesus is the very nature of God and equal with God (Phil. 2:6).

We need not shy away from the name Jesus, for “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus, You are God. Thank You for showing Yourself to us in the Bible and in our lives. You have done so much for us. Help us to share with others what we know of You and have experienced of You.

The name of Jesus is at the heart of our faith and our hope.



Bible in a Year:Ezra 9-10; Acts 1

Anne Cetas   It was a sad day in May 2003 when “The Old Man of the Mountain” broke apart and slid down the mountainside. This 40-foot profile of an old man’s face, carved by nature in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, had long been an attraction to tourists, a solid presence for residents, and the official state emblem. It was written about by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his short story The Great Stone Face. Some nearby residents were devastated when The Old Man fell. One woman said, “I grew up thinking that someone was watching over me. I feel a little less watched-over now.”

There are times when a dependable presence disappears. Something or someone we’ve relied on is gone, and our life is shaken. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, or a job, or good health. The loss makes us feel off-balance, unstable. We might even think that God is no longer watching over us.

But “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry” (Ps. 34:15). He “is near to those who have a broken heart” (v.18). He is the Rock whose presence we can always depend on (Deut. 32:4).

God’s presence is real. He continually watches over us. He is rock-solid.

The Rock of Ages stands secure, He always will be there; He watches over all His own To calm their anxious care. —Keith

The question is not where is God, but where isn’t He?

Insight: Psalm 34 was written during a difficult time for David, as the superscription indicates: “A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech [Achish], who drove him away, and he departed.” Recorded in 1 Samuel 21:1-15, those dark days were not David’s best as a person of faith. First, he had joined Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, as he fled from Saul. Then, when things in Gath (Philistine country) became threatening, David pretended madness to escape. Fear and deceit may not be characteristics of great faith, but they are normal human responses to danger—reminding us of our great need for God.

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Our Daily Bread 11-6-15

Our Daily BreadHe Trains My Hands

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1

Sim Kay Tee When former NBA player David Wood was playing for Taugrés de Baskonia, I was with him at a Spanish Basketball Cup final. Before one game, he read Psalm 144:1: “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” He turned to me and said, “You see? It’s as if God has written this verse just for me! He trains my hands to catch rebounds and my fingers to shoot!” David felt called to play basketball and had learned that God takes us as we are and enables us to do what He calls us to do.

We can easily dismiss ourselves as having little use to God because we feel we have nothing to offer. When God appeared to Moses and assigned him the task of telling the Israelites that He would deliver them from the Egyptians (Ex. 3:16-17), Moses felt inadequate. He said to the Lord, “I have never been eloquent . . . . I am slow of speech and tongue” (4:10). Perhaps Moses had some kind of speech impediment, or he was just afraid, but God overcame his inadequacy with His sufficiency. God said, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (v. 12).

All God wants from us is to follow His plans.

All God wants from us is to follow His plans. He will sort out the rest. In His mighty hands, you can be a blessing to others.

Here I am, Lord, ready to serve You in whatever way You desire. Lead me.

God’s call to a task includes His strength to complete it.

INSIGHT: When God called Moses to deliver the Jews from Egyptian bondage, Moses protested and offered various reasons why he was not the right candidate for the job (Ex. 3). He questioned his own identity (v. 11), his lack of authority (v. 13), and his credibility and acceptability (4:1). God responded by assuring Moses of His power and presence (4:1-9). Moses then continued his protest, saying he lacked eloquence and was “slow of speech and tongue” (v. 10). But God assured Moses He would enable him to speak powerfully and effectively (v. 12). Running out of excuses, Moses asked God to “send someone else” (v. 13). He was angry with Moses for his lack of trust and being unwilling to take up the assignment (v. 14). God told Moses that He would enable him to do what He called him to do. 


Late Arrivals Welcome

Bible in a Year: Job 17-19; Acts 10:1-23

Randy Kilgores  One night when I visited a nursing home, a resident named Tom slipped out quietly from his room, hoping to catch me to chat. After we talked awhile, he asked, “Won’t God be insulted if I become a Christian this late in life?” Tom’s question wasn’t a surprise. As a chaplain, I often hear it in varying forms from the elderly, from those who struggle with addictions, from former prisoners. They think they have a legitimate reason to believe it’s too late for them to know God or to be used by Him.

Tom and I spent time exploring people in Scripture who, because of their past, could have thought it was too late for them to know God. But Rahab, a prostitute (Josh. 2:12-14; Heb. 11:31), and Zacchaeus, a tax collector (Luke 19:1-8), chose faith in God despite their past.

We also looked at Jesus’ parable of workers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16). The earlier the hire, the more labor they were able to give the vineyard owner (vv.2-7), but those hired later discovered they had equal value in the owner’s eyes and would be rewarded equally (vv.8-16). The vineyard owner chose to be gracious to them all.

No matter our past or present, God longs to show us His grace and bring us into relationship with Him.

Father, we are amazed at Your grace! Thank You that
we can come to You at any time for forgiveness and be
restored to relationship with You. Thank You that we
can now be used by You to touch the lives of others.
To give your life to Christ now is to keep it forever.

Our Daily Bread 7-25-13

Where Can Wisdom Be Found?

Our Daily Bread Radio is heard Here> Les Lamborn

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

David H Roper  Wisdom is the beauty of holiness. James says wisdom is reasonable; flexible; forgiving; peaceful; caring; given to friendly visits, small acts of courtesy, and kind words. It is humble, transparent, simple, gentle, and gracious to the core (James 3:17).

Where can wisdom be found? It comes from heaven (1:5). “Wisdom,” wrote Charles Spurgeon, “is a beauty of life that can only be produced by God’s workmanship in us.”

It’s good to ask from time to time: “Am I growing in wisdom?” After all, life is relentlessly dynamic. We’re either growing sweeter and wiser as the days go by, or we’re growing into foolish or even sour-faced curmudgeons. Into what are we growing?

It’s never too late to begin growing in wisdom. God loves us with an ardent, intense affection that can deliver us from our foolishness if we yield ourselves to Him. His love can make the most difficult nature into a miracle of astonishing beauty. It may hurt a little and it may take a while, but God relentlessly seeks our transformation. When we ask, His wisdom will begin to rise in us and pour itself out to others.

We have this promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to [you]” (1:5).

Lord, please put an end to our foolishness and – turn our hearts toward the wisdom that comes – only from You. We ask You now to take our – lives and transform them into Your likeness.

True wisdom begins and ends with God.

Our Daily Bread 11-5-15

Our Daily BreadAngry Prayers

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. Proverbs 29:11

J.R. Hudberg The neighbors probably didn’t know what to think as they looked out their windows at me one wintry day. I was standing in the driveway with a garden shovel clutched in my hands, whacking wildly and angrily at a clump of ice that had formed beneath a corner gutter. With each smack, I was uttering prayers that were variations on one theme: “I can’t do this.” “You can’t expect me to do this.” “I don’t have the strength to do this.” As a caregiver, with a long list of responsibilities to handle, I now had this ice to deal with, and I had had enough!

My anger was wrapped around a bundle of lies: “I deserve better than this.” “God isn’t enough after all.” “Nobody cares anyway.” But when we choose to cling to our anger, we become mired in the trap of bitterness, never moving forward. And the only cure for anger is truth.

The truth is that God does not give us what we deserve; He gives us mercy instead. “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you” (Ps. 86:5). The truth is that God is more than enough, despite what we see. The truth is that His strength is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). Yet before we can find such reassurance, we may need to step back, lay down the shovel of our own efforts, and take Jesus’ hand that’s extended to us in mercy and grace.

God is big enough to listen to our anger and loving enough to show us, in His time, the path forward.

Loving God, forgive me for my outbursts of anger. Today I choose to lay down my sinful anger and accept Your mercy and grace. Thank You for forgiveness and for truth that leads to wisdom.

Grace: Getting what we don’t deserve. Mercy: Not getting what we do deserve.

INSIGHT: The psalms are often read as windows to the soul—songs that reflect the reality of our emotions and struggles. They encourage us to understand that God can handle our honesty as we express ourselves to Him. Yes, God is big enough to absorb our anger and listen to our complaints, but we must not overlook the context in which the writers of the psalms expressed their feelings. In today’s passage, over and over David recognizes his place in relationship to God. He acknowledges that he is “poor and needy” (v. 1), he is faithful to God and trusts in Him (v. 2), and he is God’s “servant” (v. 4). It is important that we understand who we are in relationship to God when we bring our hurts and struggles to Him.

Our Daily Bread 11-4-15

Our Daily BreadOur Jealous God

The Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14

Bill Crowder In 2014 a University of California researcher used a stuffed dog to show that animals are capable of jealousy. Professor Christine Harris asked dog owners to show affection for a stuffed animal in the presence of their pet. She found that three-fourths of the dogs responded with apparent envy. Some tried to get attention with touch or a gentle nudge. Others tried to push between their owner and the toy. A few went so far as to snap at their stuffed rival.

In a dog, jealousy seems heartwarming. In people, it can lead to less admirable results. Yet, as Moses and Paul remind us, there is also another jealousy—one that beautifully reflects the heart of God.

God made us & rescued us to know & enjoy Him forever.

When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he said he was “jealous for you with a godly jealousy” (2 Cor. 11:2). He didn’t want them to be “led astray from [their] sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (v. 3). Such jealousy reflects the heart of God, who told Moses in the Ten Commandments, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5).

God’s jealousy is not like our self-centered love. His heart expresses His protective zeal for those who are His by creation and salvation. He made us and rescued us to know and enjoy Him forever. How could we ask for anything more than a God who is so zealous—and jealous—for our happiness?

Father, help me shun anything that distracts me from You, so that I may always find enjoyment in who You are and in Your plan for me.

God loves every one of us as if there were but one of us to love. Augustine

INSIGHT:  Paul’s relationship with the church at Corinth was a turbulent one. Paul founded the Corinthian church and spent 18 months there (Acts 18:1-18). Then he returned for another 3 months at a later time (20:3). In spite of this significant investment of time and energy, the Corinthian believers appear to have struggled with Paul’s authority and position as an apostle, as well as his correction of them. His letters to the church at Corinth are filled with evidence of his disappointment over their testy relationship. Still, Paul’s love for them is evidenced by his desire that they not be led astray by false teachers.