Our Daily Bread — Remember and Celebrate

Bible in a Year:

[Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 22:14–23

On December 6, 1907, explosions rocked a small community in the US state of West Virginia, producing one of the worst disasters in the history of the coal-mining industry. Some 360 miners were killed, and it’s been estimated that this horrific tragedy left behind about 250 widows and 1,000 children without fathers. Historians maintain that the memorial service became the seedbed from which the celebration of Father’s Day in the US would eventually grow. Out of great loss came remembrance and—eventually—celebration.

The greatest tragedy in human history occurred when human beings crucified their Creator. Yet, that dark moment also produced both remembrance and celebration. The night before He would go to the cross, Jesus took the elements of Israel’s Passover and created His own memorial celebration. Luke’s record describes the scene this way: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’ ” (Luke 22:19).

Still today, whenever we take communion, we honor His great, unflinching love for us—remembering the cost of our rescue and celebrating the gift of life His sacrifice produced. As Charles Wesley said in his great hymn, “Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

How often do you find yourself just going through the motions when taking communion? What are some ways to keep your focus on the cross?

Father, when I come to the memorial table, help me to remember why my forgiveness was so costly, and help me to celebrate Your great, awesome love.

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Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Generosity of Love

“[Love] does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:5).

Love transforms selfish people into self-sacrificing people.

From the time of Adam and Eve, replacing God with self has been at the root of all sin. Our first parents had only one restriction: “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). But Eve believed the serpent’s lie that God was trying to keep her from realizing her full potential (Gen. 3:5). She ate the forbidden fruit, gave some to Adam, and together they plunged the human race into sin and death.

Christ changed all that when He came, not “to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Unlike Adam and Eve, He didn’t seek His own comfort or gain, but made whatever sacrifices were necessary to redeem lost sinners.

It is reported that the inscription on a tombstone in a small English cemetery reads,

Here lies a miser who lived for himself, And cared for nothing but gathering wealth. Now where he is or how he fares, Nobody knows and nobody cares.

How tragic to spend your entire life enslaved to your selfishness. In contrast, a tombstone in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London reads, “Sacred to the memory of General Charles George Gordon, who at all times and everywhere gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, his heart to God.” The first tombstone testifies to the futility of greed and selfishness; the second to the glory of generosity and self-sacrifice.

Christ is the perfect example of self-sacrifice. If you love Him, you should be characterized by the same quality. Then others will see your genuineness and commitment to them, and by God’s grace be drawn to your Lord.

What epitaph might your family and friends write about you? I pray it is one that glorifies God for the selfless love He demonstrated through you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for those who have made significant sacrifices toward your spiritual growth. Seek to imitate their love.

For Further Study

List the fifteen qualities of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, then determine how self-sacrifice relates to each one.

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Joyce Meyer – Be Slow to Speak

 For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good — whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).

— 1 Peter 3:10 (AMPC)

Have you ever regretted something you said as soon as the words were out of your mouth? You can’t take back the words you speak to others—and words can damage relationships. The Bible says that if you can control your mouth, you can control your whole body (see James 3:2).  

Before you respond to people too quickly, stop and listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say about your situation. James taught, Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry (James 1:19 AMPC). Commit your mouth to God’s service today and use words that speak healing to others. When you do, you will begin to see an increase in your overall joy.  

Prayer Starter: God, thank You for your Word and for all the ways that You give me peace and help me fight the devil. Amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Our Shepherd-King

He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord.

Micah 5:4

Christ’s reign in His Church is that of a shepherd-king. He has supremacy, but it is the superiority of a wise and tender shepherd over his needy and loving flock. He commands and receives obedience, but it is the willing obedience of the well-cared-for sheep, rendered joyfully to their beloved Shepherd, whose voice they know so well. He rules by the force of love and the energy of goodness.

His reign is practical in its character. It is said, “He shall stand and shepherd.” The great Head of the church is actively engaged in providing for His people. He does not sit down upon the throne in empty state or hold a scepter without wielding it in government. No; He stands and shepherds. The expression “shepherd” in the original is like an analogous one in the Greek that means to do everything expected of a shepherd: to guide, to watch, to preserve, to restore, to tend, as well as to feed.

His reign is continual in its duration. It is said, “He shall stand and shepherd”; not “He shall feed now and then and leave His position”; not “He shall one day grant a revival and then next day leave His Church to barrenness.” His eyes never slumber, and His hands never rest; His heart never ceases to beat with love, and His shoulders are never weary of carrying His people’s burdens.

His reign is effectually powerful in its action; “He shall … shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD.” Wherever Christ is, there is God; and whatever Christ does is the act of the Most High. It is a joyful truth to consider that He who stands today representing the interests of His people is very God of very God, to whom every knee shall bow. We are happy to belong to such a shepherd, whose humanity communes with us and whose divinity protects us. Let us worship and bow down before Him as the people of His pasture.

C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Cares for His People

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-6)

After weeks of preparing, Luke and his twin sister, Jill, were finally spending the night in their treehouse. Dad had helped Luke put some finishing touches on the treehouse – like sanding out the splinters. Mom and Jill had made hot chocolate and poured some into a tall thermos for Luke, and some more into a tall thermos for Jill. Luke and Jill had dragged their sleeping bags and pillows up the ladder and spread them out on the plywood floor. For a nightlight, they captured lightning bugs and put them into a large glass jar with tiny airholes poked in the lid.

It was a beautiful night for stargazing, and the crickets were chirping happily. Jill had brought extra blankets and sweatshirts, in case it cooled down during the night. Setting the jar in the center of the treehouse, they nestled down into their sleeping bags and whispered and laughed and stared up at the stars until they finally began to feel sleepy.

Suddenly – creak!

Luke sat straight up in his sleeping bag. He had been dozing off, but he knew he had heard a noise. Creak. There it was again! Crackle, swish, creak.

Someone was climbing up the ladder! And whoever it was had to be heavier than a squirrel or a raccoon or a possum. By this time, Jill was awake and sitting up, too. Luke could see from the glow of the lightning bugs that she was as scared as he was. Clunk. Creak!

It had to be someone climbing the ladder. Luke and Jill were too afraid to cry out. There was nothing to throw at the intruder, except the jar of lightning bugs. They froze and braced themselves to face whoever was coming up the ladder. Suddenly, two big hands grabbed the top of the ladder, and there was a blinding flash of white light.

A moment later, Luke and Jill heard a hearty laugh that they recognized immediately. “Dad!” they groaned.

Shaking with laughter and balancing a Polaroid camera in his hand, Dad climbed the rest of the way into the treehouse. “Wait till you two see this picture!”

They waited for the picture to develop and laughed at the “o” shape of Jill’s mouth and the wild, wide-eyed shock on Luke’s face. “What a mean prank, Dad!” Luke said. He pretended to be mad, but he could not help but grin.

Once Luke and Jill knew that the mysterious noisemaker was their father, they were not afraid at all. They knew that their dad was a strong man and that nobody could try to get them if he was with them. They also knew that he cared about them. It was a relief for them to know that their scary intruder was actually someone who cared about them. They had nothing to worry about from Dad.

God, our heavenly Father, is more powerful and wise than we could ever be, but 1 Peter chapter 5 teaches us that we should throw all our worries and concerns upon His shoulders. He is almighty, so He is able to help us. He is also compassionate and loving, so He wants to help us.

Your dad, or other men you know, might want to help you – but they might not always be able to. Other people are able to help, but they do not want to help. God is both able and willing to help. The Bible teaches that God is both mighty and caring. He is stronger than you, and He cares for you! Throw your worries and concerns onto Him.

Almighty God cares for His people and is able and willing to help them.

My Response:
» Has God shown Himself to be a caring God?
» How should I respond to a mighty and caring God when I am afraid or in trouble?


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Denison Forum – Will al-Qaeda attack America again?

At this writing, as many as fifteen thousand Americans remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover of the country. They have been urged to go to Hamid Karzai International Airport for evacuation out of the country, but the US is reportedly unable to provide transportation or guarantee them safe passage.

A Taliban spokesman promised that “nobody will be harmed in Afghanistan,” including Americans. However, their actions so far speak a very different message.

They faced their first street protests yesterday against their takeover of the country. When a crowd gathered in the northeastern city of Jalalabad, Taliban soldiers fired into them and beat protesters and journalists. At least two people were killed and a dozen injured.

Taliban fighters recently executed twenty-two Afghan commandos as they tried to surrender. Earlier this month, they assassinated a presidential spokesman who was head of the government’s media and information center. A letter circulating recently listed activities forbidden by the Taliban, including girls banned from school, women confined to their homes and forced to wear a full hijab, boys forced to learn rote recitation of the Qur’an, and women banned from leaving their houses without a male relative.

With regard to Americans still trapped in Afghanistan, Walter Russell Mead writes in the Wall Street Journal that “Mr. Biden should worry about a repeat of Tehran in 1979.” He adds that “even if national Taliban authorities want to avoid a confrontation, with thousands of unprotected US and other foreign citizens scattered around a chaotic country, authorities in the capital may not be able to control radical factions or ransom-hungry groups of local fighters and criminal gangs.”

The history of al-Qaeda and the Taliban

While Americans are understandably deeply concerned about our citizens remaining in Afghanistan under the Taliban, we should also be concerned about ourselves at home.

American troops were sent to Afghanistan twenty years ago in response to the 9/11 attacks and the Taliban’s provision of safe harbor for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Our forces toppled the Taliban from power not because we were concerned that they wanted to launch attacks on our homeland, but because we wanted to prevent further such attacks from al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups they were protecting.

From their beginning, the Taliban were foundationally linked with al-Qaeda. Their shared Islamic ideology and fight against Soviet forces in Afghanistan brought them together.

Al-Qaeda was an experienced militant group with an established global brand when the Taliban were in their infancy. The early training, fundraising, and supplies provided by al-Qaeda were critical to the Taliban’s growth. In turn, before the Taliban were toppled by US forces, al-Qaeda reportedly paid them up to $20 million a year for its safe haven in Afghanistan.

What of their relationship today?

The United Nations reported in June 2021, “A significant part of the leadership of al-Qaeda resides in the Afghanistan and Pakistan border region. . . . Large numbers of al-Qaeda fighters and other foreign extremist elements aligned with the Taliban are located in various parts of Afghanistan.”

While the Taliban committed to the US government in February 2020 that it would restrain jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda, from organizing and launching terrorism from the country, the UN states that “it is impossible to assess with confidence that the Taliban will live up to its commitment.” It adds that “al-Qaeda and likeminded militants continue to celebrate developments in Afghanistan as a victory for the Taliban’s cause and thus for global radicalism.”

“The best news al-Qaeda has had in decades”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “the Taliban continues to provide al-Qaeda with protection in exchange for resources and training.” US authorities reportedly believe that al-Qaeda’s chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is in Afghanistan as well.

The Morning Dispatch reports that “many top al-Qaeda leaders have sworn blood oaths to the successive heads of the Taliban, and others including Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has a $10 million price on his head from the US government, serve as leaders of both groups.”

It quotes Nathan Sales, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, who wrote in an expert briefing: “The Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is the best news al-Qaeda has had in decades. With the Taliban back in charge of the country, it is virtually certain that al-Qaeda will reestablish a safe haven in Afghanistan and use it to plot attacks on the United States.”

Sales added: “The terrorist group responsible for 9/11 will soon find itself flush with cash looted from Afghanistan’s central bank, with weapons seized from the defeated Afghan army, and with fighters freed from prison.”

Britain’s defense minister agreed, warning that al-Qaeda will likely have a resurgence as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. And Robert M. Gates, secretary of defense for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 to 2011, wrote in the New York Times that the Taliban “still maintain ties with al-Qaeda.”

He asked, “Why should we assume they will no longer harbor al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups that seek to target those—above all, the United States—that ousted them from power and have been fighting them for twenty years?” He concluded in his June 2021 article that “the consequences of another Taliban takeover in Kabul would not be limited to the people of Afghanistan.” Now that takeover has been accomplished.

Will 9/11 be a “catalyst for acts of targeted violence”?

As I noted in my 2011 book, Radical Islam: What You Need to Know, al-Qaeda and similar jihadists are convinced that America has been attacking the Muslim world since the Crusades. They consider the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 to be a theft of land from its rightful Muslim owners and see our support for Israel as complicity in this attack. Since Americans are citizens of a democracy, they view us as part of this “assault” on Islam.

Since the Qur’an requires Muslims to defend Islam (cf. Surah 2:190), al-Qaeda’s followers believe they are required to attack Americans in our homeland. As a result, they do not see 9/11 as an attack on innocent Americans but as a defense of Islam striking back at “Crusader” aggression.

Now that the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan, such attacks may be more likely. The head of an Afghan news and media company told New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, “The relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda will get stronger. Why should the Taliban fear the Americans anymore? What’s the worst that could happen? Another invasion?”

He added: “These guys are going to be the most belligerent, arrogant Islamist movement on the planet. They are going to be the Mecca for any young radical of Islamic heritage or convert. It’s going to inspire people. It’s a godsend for any radical, violent group.”

Author Peter Bergen believes the Taliban takeover will inspire extremists around the globe. He notes, “When ISIS ran a lot of Iraq and Syria, there were a lot of Westerners who volunteered to go and fight. Here we have the Taliban doing something not dissimilar in Afghanistan. I anticipate a lot of problems for Western states.”

The Department of Homeland Security added in a recent security alert that the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 and upcoming religious holidays “could serve as a catalyst for acts of targeted violence.” It noted that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recently released the first English-language version of its Inspire magazine in four years, apparently intended to mark the upcoming anniversary of 9/11.

Three practical responses

What can you and I do about the threat of a resurgent al-Qaeda?

One: Pray for members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other jihadist groups to come to Christ. Jesus urged us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). As I have noted frequently, more Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus today than at any time in Islamic history, many through visions and dreams of our Savior. If you doubt whether such conversions are possible, remember Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).

Two: Pray for Christians in Afghanistan and across the Muslim world to be protected, emboldened, and empowered as they share Christ with their neighbors. We are to “keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). I plan to say more about this in tomorrow’s Daily Article, but please join me in praying for our sisters and brothers today.

Three: Pray for ministries and missionaries to Afghanistan and the Muslim world to be effective and courageous. Jesus called his followers to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). Then Jesus called his apostles to answer their prayer by taking his message to their culture (Matthew 10).

The choice of the hour

I was interviewed yesterday by Chris Brooks, a brilliant pastor and radio host. At one point, he mentioned a member of his church in Michigan who has been called to go to Afghanistan as a missionary. Ask God to raise up many more, then pray for them and support them however you can. And ask God to use your life and witness to reach Muslims and others in your circle of influence.

Chris also quoted the maxim that, in regard to missions, we can “go, give, or live in sin.”

Which will you choose today?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Do You Want to Be Well?

DO YOU WANT TO BE WELL? – August 19, 2021

On one particular day Jesus was drawn to the pool of Bethesda. His eyes landed upon a man who “had been sick for thirty-eight years…[Jesus] asked him, ‘Would you like to get well?’ ‘I can’t, sir,’ the sick man said, ‘for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me’” (John 5:5-7 NLT).

What an odd question to ask a sick person: Would you like to get well? To us Jesus asks, “Would you like to get well?” Or do you like being sick? Getting well means getting up, getting a job, and getting to work. Do you really want to be healed? That’s the question Jesus asked then. That’s the question Jesus asks all of us still.

http://www.MaxLucado.com