Our Daily Bread — The Crowd

Bible in a Year:

I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for [my people’s] sake.

Romans 9:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 9:1–5

“Men have been found to resist the most powerful monarchs and to refuse to bow down before them,” observed philosopher and author Hannah Arendt (1906–75). She added, “[B]ut few indeed have been found to resist the crowd, to stand up alone before misguided masses, to face their implacable frenzy without weapons.” As a Jew, Arendt witnessed this firsthand in her native Germany. There’s something terrifying about being rejected by the group.

The apostle Paul experienced such rejection. Trained as a Pharisee and rabbi, his life was turned upside down when he encountered the resurrected Jesus. Paul had been traveling to Damascus to persecute those who believed in Christ (Acts 9). After his conversion, the apostle found himself rejected by his own people. In his letter we know as 2 Corinthians, Paul reviewed some of the troubles he faced at their hands, among them “beatings” and “imprisonments” (6:5).   

Rather than responding to such rejection with anger or bitterness, Paul longed for them to come to know Jesus too. He wrote, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people” (Romans 9:2–3).

As God has welcomed us into His family, may He also enable us to invite even our adversaries into relationship with Him.

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

How have you responded when you experienced exclusion? What makes rejection so hard?

Loving God, help me to point others to You and a place in Your kingdom despite personal hurt or disappointment.

http://www.odb.org

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Showing Love Through Hospitality

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

Hospitality should be a trait of all Christians, because whenever we display it, we minister to the Lord.

If you are a Christian, your responsibility to love others does not stop with fellow believers. The apostle Paul is very explicit and direct about this: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men” (1 Thess. 5:15). “All men” includes even your enemies. The “strangers” mentioned in today’s verse can refer to unbelievers as well as believers. The writer of Hebrews is saying we often won’t know the full impact hospitality will have; therefore, we should always be alert and diligent because our actions may even influence someone toward salvation.

The last part of Hebrews 13:2, “some have entertained angels without knowing it,” further underscores the point that we can never know how significant or helpful an act of hospitality might be. Abraham had no idea that two of the three men passing by his tent were angels and that the third was the Lord Himself, but he still went out of his way to demonstrate hospitality (Gen. 18:1-5). The primary motivation is still love, for the sake of those we help and for the glory of God.

The Lord Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). As Christians, when we feed the hungry, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit someone in prison, we serve Christ. If we turn our backs on people, believers or unbelievers, who have real needs, it is the same as turning our backs on Him (v. 45). Loving hospitality is therefore more than an option—it is a command.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would give you a greater desire to show hospitality and that you could minister it to a specific person.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 18:1-15.

  • Write down the positive ways in which Abraham handled his opportunity to show love to strangers.
  • How well did Sarah handle this situation?
  • How does the example of her attitude relate to Hebrews 13:2?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Joyce Meyer – Good from Bad

As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.

— Genesis 50:20 (AMPC)

God wants to restore your soul. The closer you get to Him, the more you experience His healing, strengthening, restoring power. He’ll take you back to where your life got off track and make everything right from that moment forward.

Joseph is the classic biblical example of how God takes what was meant for evil against us and works it for our good. In that dramatic scene where Joseph is speaking in Genesis 50:20, he tells his brothers that the evil they meant to do to him (and it was truly evil), God had used for good to save them and their families and hundreds of thousands of others in a time of famine.

In my own life, I cannot truthfully say I am glad I was abused. But through the power of forgiveness and yielding my pain to God, He has healed me and made me a better, stronger, more spiritually powerful, and sensitive person. He has restored my soul and driven out the fear and insecurity. I can trust, love, forgive, and live with simplicity in my approach to life because God has restored my soul, and He can do the same thing for you.

Prayer of the Day: Father God, I know You can heal my soul and restore my situation. I thank You in advance for bringing something good out of my current situation, amen.

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Oldest Christian Confession

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

From very early on, while the church has stood on the firm foundation of God’s word, she has also looked to the support structure, as it were, of her creeds and confessions to faithfully summarize the core tenets of the Christian faith. Perhaps you have recited the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed, or maybe you have made use of the Westminster Confession of Faith to aid your understanding of a particular point of doctrine.

The historical nature of such creeds and confessions demonstrates how the Christian faith has held its ground over time. For example, the Nicene Creed reaches all the way back to AD 325, when the earliest version was adopted at the Council of Nicaea. Seventeen hundred years is quite a shelf life! But it is not the oldest confession, for there is one that reaches back even earlier, to the earliest days of the church. It’s only three simple words: Jesus is Lord.

This earliest confession can be found throughout the New Testament, in places such as Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 12:3, and Philippians 2:11. In making such a statement, the early Christians said a great deal about the identity of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, God identifies Himself with four Hebrew letters, equivalent to YHWH in English, which some pronounce “Yahweh.” This divine name is rendered in our English Bibles most often as LORD, with small caps. When the Hebrew version of the Old Testament was translated into Greek, nearly all the occurrences of Yahweh—over 6,000 of them—were rendered with the Greek term for “Lord,” kurios. So to say “Jesus is Lord” is not just to call Christ Master but to affirm that He is fully and completely God.

While some try to argue that the New Testament never really identifies Jesus as God, nothing could be further from the truth. To confess Him as Lord is really to call Him Yahweh. He is not just a teacher or healer or miracle-worker but God in the flesh.

This earliest confession demands some reflection from us: Do I really confess, with my life as well as my lips, that Jesus is Lord? Do I really believe that He has total claim over my life and every right to command my allegiance and obedience? Do I really accept that He knows better than me and that I may hold nothing back from Him?

“Jesus is Lord,” then, is no trite statement. But it is not a terrifying one, either. For this Lord is kind and good, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). His love means that before He sat on His heavenly throne, He hung on a wooden cross. Since He is Lord, He can always ask for your all—and since He loves you, you can give it joyfully.

So what will you confess today?

GOING DEEPER

Exodus 34:1-10

Topics: Christ as Lord Jesus Christ

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 

http://www.truthforlife.org

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Is Our Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2)

One spring afternoon, a tourist named Peter was riding a bus through the countryside in Scotland. Up and down the steep green hills, woolly sheep and their little lambs grazed. Many of the lambs were playing. Peter smiled as he watched them leaping and kicking the air with their tiny hooves.

Another passenger on the bus pointed out a circle of large, weathered stones on the side of a hill. “Look, a sheepfold!” he said. A kind shepherd had built that sheepfold long ago. He wanted his lambs to have a safe place to sleep at night, a place where he could watch over them.

God’s Word tells us that He is our Shepherd. Every person who places his trust in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is one of His sheep. Our good Shepherd cares for us always. He watches over us day and night. He promises to give us everything that we really need to be happy and content. What more could a sheep want?

God is our Shepherd Who cares for us and gives us everything that we need.

My Response:
» Am I discontent, or am I trusting God to take good care of me?

Denison Forum – “Spare,” Prince Harry’s autobiography, is setting records

Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare is now the UK’s fastest-selling nonfiction book. I started reading it yesterday and am already glad I’m not part of the royal family.

Closer to home, flights resumed yesterday after a Federal Aviation Administration system failure left pilots, airlines, and airports without crucial safety information for hours. My first thought when the FAA paused flights was to hope their action wasn’t related to terrorism. My second was to be grateful I wasn’t flying that day.

In other news, Goldman Sachs began layoffs yesterday; just over three thousand employees will eventually be let go. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be forced to extend their stay for several months after their Russian MS-22 Soyuz spacecraft sprung a leak. The Center for Strategic & International Studies has wargamed a Chinese invasion of Taiwan (Taiwan, aided by the US, wins but at a devastating cost). And a bestselling novel about a fictitious same-sex love affair between the son of the US president and the Prince of Wales will be made into a movie this year.

As with the royal family and air travel, I’m glad I’m not employed by Goldman Sachs, work on the ISS, or live in Taiwan. Nor do I have to read the same-sex romance novel or see the movie.

On the other hand, the World Bank’s warning that the global economy is “perilously close” to a recession does affect me for obvious reasons. And Bloomberg’s report that antisemitism is “seeping into the workplace” deeply grieves me even though I am not Jewish. My love for the Jewish people, bolstered by more than thirty trips to the Holy Land, calls me to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” every day (Psalm 122:6) and to urge you to do the same.

Advice from Ronald Reagan’s daughter

Patti Davis is the daughter of President Ronald Reagan and the author of an autobiography many years ago in which, in her words, she “flung open the gates of our troubled family life.” She now writes in the New York Times that she deeply regrets exposing her family’s private challenges to the public and has learned that “not everything needs to be shared.” She would “respectfully” suggest this lesson to Prince Harry today.

Here’s one reason her advice is worth taking: how we treat others is inevitably how the world will treat us.

Jesus advised us in the so-called Golden Rule, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). He also taught us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, quoting Leviticus 19:18).

Over the years, when I have followed his instruction, I have discovered this pattern: when I love my neighbor as myself, I love myself more. This enables me to love my neighbor more, which enables me to love myself more. And on the pattern goes.

My experience is not unique: a new study at Ohio State University shows that people suffering from forms of depression or anxiety may help heal themselves by doing good deeds for others. Evolutionary psychologists would no doubt call this finding an example of the “survival of the fittest”: the more compassionate we are with others, the more we experience their compassion and the more likely we are to survive and flourish.

But what if this pattern is not a coincidental product of chaotic chance but one dimension of our Creator’s design for us and our world?

“Believe the God we believe in”

If this is true, I am wrong to read Spare as though the royal family is not part of the human family and thus my family. I am wrong to care less about flight delays on the days I am not flying or to treat news of layoffs, strandings in space, war scenarios, and sexual immorality as though they do not affect me.

Instead, I need to make agape love, God’s unconditional love for others, my goal. However, since this is a “fruit” of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), I need to submit my thoughts and feelings to the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) so he can manifest such love for others in and through my life.

The more our culture rejects biblical morality, the more you and I will need to pray for such compassion. As my wife brilliantly notes in her latest blog, “If Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, we shouldn’t condemn the world, either.” Instead, we should “believe the God we believe in” (quoting R. C. Sproul) and thus share his truth with his grace.

It would be human nature simply to write our fallen society off, turning those who reject biblical truth over to the consequences of their sinful choices. But this would contradict the example of the One who came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). It would ignore the example of the Apostle who wrote of his “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” for his unbelieving Jewish brethren (Romans 9:2).

And it would impoverish us personally. The more we love our neighbor, the more we love ourselves and the more we can love our neighbor as ourselves.

“The only way for us to stay well”

Henri Nouwen makes my point better than I can: “I think that we have hardly thought through the immense implications of the mystery of the incarnation. Where is God? God is where we are weak, vulnerable, small, and dependent. God is where the poor are, the hungry, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the powerless.”

As a result, he asks: “How can we come to know God when our focus is elsewhere, on success, influence, and power?” Rather, he writes, “The only way for us to stay well in the midst of the many ‘worlds’ is to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us. When we discover him we can truly rejoice.”

Jesus would agree. After describing followers who care for those who are hungry, thirsty, unwanted, naked, and imprisoned, he assured us that “the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40).

And to yourself as well.

Denison Forum