Category Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Praying Like Jesus

 

Bible in a Year:

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

Luke 22:42

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 22:39–44

Every coin has two sides. The front is called “heads” and, from early Roman times, usually depicts a country’s head of state. The back is called “tails,” a term possibly originating from the British ten pence depicting the raised tail of a heraldic lion.

Like a coin, Christ’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane possesses two sides. In the deepest hours of His life, on the night before He died on a cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). When Christ says, “take this cup,” that’s the raw honesty of prayer. He reveals His personal desire, “This is what I want.”

Then Jesus turns the coin, praying “not my will.” That’s the side of abandon. Abandoning ourselves to God begins when we simply say, “But what do You want, God?”

This two-sided prayer is also included in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 and is mentioned in John 18. Jesus prayed both sides of prayer: take this cup (what I want, God), yet not My will (what do You want, God?), pivoting between them.

Two sides of Jesus. Two sides of prayer.

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What might we learn if we prayed honestly and with complete abandon, as Jesus did? What situation are you facing right now where you can pray honestly yet with abandon to God?

Father, help me follow the example of Your Son, who spent everything so that I might possess real life that includes experiencing intimate prayer with You.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Inheritance Isn’t Earned

 

Bible in a Year:

He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

Ephesians 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Ephesians 1:3–14

“Thanks for dinner, Dad,” I said as I set my napkin on the restaurant table. I was home on a break from college and, after being gone for a while, it felt strange to have my parents pay for me. “You’re welcome, Julie,” my dad replied, “but you don’t have to thank me for everything all the time. I know you’ve been off on your own, but you’re still my daughter and a part of the family.” I smiled. “Thanks, Dad.”

In my family, I haven’t done anything to earn my parents’ love or what they do for me. But my dad’s comment reminds me that I haven’t done anything to deserve to be a part of God’s family either.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul tells his readers that God chose them “to be holy and blameless in his sight” (1:4), or to stand without blemish before Him (5:25–27). But this is only possible through Jesus, in whom “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (1:7). We don’t have to earn God’s grace, forgiveness, or entrance into His family. We simply accept His free gift.

When we turn our lives over to Jesus, we become children of God, which means we receive eternal life and have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. Praise God for offering such a wonderful gift!

By:  Julie Schwab

Reflect & Pray

In what ways do you feel or act as if you have to earn God’s love? How can you practice living in the freedom of His love?

Faithful God, thank You for freely giving Your Son so I can be a part of Your family. Help me to honor You in all You’ve done for me.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Blessed Bread

 

Bible in a Year:

Jesus took some bread and blessed it.

Matthew 26:26 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 26:26–29

When our oldest child became a teenager, my wife and I gave her a journal that we’d been writing in since her birth. We’d recorded her likes and dislikes, quirks and memorable one-liners. At some point the entries became more like letters, describing what we see in her and how we see God at work in her. When we gave it to her on her thirteenth birthday, she was mesmerized. She’d been given the gift of knowing a crucial part of the origins of her identity.

In blessing something as common as bread, Jesus was revealing its identity. What it—along with all creation—was made to reflect: God’s glory. I believe Jesus was also pointing to the future of the material world. All creation will one day be filled with the glory of God. So in blessing bread (Matthew 26:26), Jesus was pointing to the origin and the destiny of creation (Romans 8:21–22).

Maybe the “beginning” of your story feels messed up. Maybe you don’t think there’s much of a future. But there’s a bigger story. It’s a story of a God who made you on purpose and for a purpose, who took pleasure in you. It’s a story of God who came to rescue you (Matthew 26:28); a God who put His Spirit in you to renew you and recover your identity. It’s a story of a God who wants to bless you.

By: Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

How does seeing your true origin story as being made on purpose and for a purpose change the way you see yourself? What’s the bigger story than simply your situation right now?

Dear Jesus, I place my life like bread in Your hands. Only You can return me to my origin. Only You can carry me to my destiny. Jesus, You are the author and the finisher of my faith.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — When Life Is Hard

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 15–16
  • Matthew 27:1–26

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Psalm 16:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 16

Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I curled up in my recliner. Our family had followed God’s leading and had moved from California to Wisconsin. After we arrived, our car broke down and left us without a vehicle for two months. Meanwhile, my husband’s limited mobility after an unexpected back surgery and my chronic pain complicated our unpacking. We uncovered costly problems with our new-to-us, old home. Our senior dog suffered with health issues. And though our new pup brought great joy, raising a furry ball of energy was far more work than anticipated. My attitude soured. How was I supposed to have unshakable faith while traveling on a bumpy road of hardships?

As I prayed, God reminded me of the psalmist whose praise didn’t depend on circumstances. David poured out his emotions, often with great vulnerability, and sought refuge in the presence of God (Psalm 16:1). Acknowledging God as provider and protector (vv. 5–6), he praised Him and followed His counsel (v. 7). David affirmed that he would “not be shaken” because he kept his eyes “always on the Lord” (v. 8). So, he rejoiced and rested secure in the joy of God’s presence (vv. 9–11).

We too can delight in knowing our peace doesn’t depend on our present situation. As we thank our unchanging God for who He is and always will be, His presence will fuel our steadfast faith.

By: Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can offering God praise for His unchanging character and wondrous works increase your faith during challenging circumstances? What situations do you need to place in God’s trustworthy hands?

Thanks for being You, Father!

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Freed from Our Cage

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 14
  • Matthew 26:51–75

[God] brought me out into a spacious place.

Psalm 18:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 18:3–6, 16–19

While out taking walks, writer Martin Laird would often encounter a man with four Kerry Blue Terriers. Three of the dogs ran wild through the open fields, but one stayed near its owner, running in tight circles. When Laird finally stopped and asked about this odd behavior, the owner explained that it was a rescue dog that had spent most of his life locked in a cage. The terrier continued to run in circles as though contained inside a confined box.

The Scriptures reveal that we’re trapped and hopeless unless God rescues us. The psalmist spoke of being afflicted by an enemy, entrapped by “the snares of death” with the “cords of death . . . coiled around” him (Psalm 18:4–5). Enclosed and shackled, he cried to God for help (v. 6). And with thundering power, He “reached down . . . and took hold” of him (v. 16).

God can do the same for us. He can break the chains and release us from our confining cages. He can set us free and carry us “out into a spacious place” (v. 19). How sad it is, then, when we keep running in small circles, as if we’re still confined in our old prisons. In His strength, may we no longer be bound by fear, shame, or oppression. God has rescued us from those cages of death. We can run free.

By: Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

What are the cages that have you confined? How are you living as though an old cage still traps and holds you?

God, You say You set the captives free. Help me to believe it. Help me to live it. I want to be free. I want to be in Your spacious place.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Miracle of White Snow

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 13
  • Matthew 26:26–50

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.

Isaiah 1:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 1:15–20

In the seventeenth century, Sir Isaac Newton used a prism to study how light helps us see different colors. He found that when light passes through an object, the object appears to possess a specific color. While a single ice crystal looks translucent, snow is made up of many ice crystals smashed together. When light passes through all of the crystals, snow appears to be white.

The Bible mentions something else that has a certain color—sin. Through the prophet Isaiah, God confronted the sins of the people of Judah and described their sin as “like scarlet” and as “red as crimson.” But God promised they would “be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). How? Judah needed to turn away from wrongdoing and seek God’s forgiveness.

Thanks to Jesus, we have permanent access to God’s forgiveness. Jesus called Himself “the light of the world” and said whoever follows Him “will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). When we confess our sins, God forgives us and we’re seen through the light of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This means that God sees us as He sees Jesus—blameless.

We don’t have to wallow in the guilt and shame of what we’ve done wrong. Instead, we can hold on to the truth of God’s forgiveness, which makes us “white as snow.”

By: Linda Washington

Reflect & Pray

What does it mean to be completely forgiven? What helps you remember that God has forgiven you?

Heavenly Father, thank You for the forgiveness You freely offer.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Nearby Neighbors

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 11–12
  • Matthew 26:1–25

Better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.

Proverbs 27:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 27:1–10

Our neighborhood, like many others, uses a website to help neighbors connect immediately with those surrounding them. In my community, members warn one another of mountain lion sightings and wildfire evacuation orders, as well as supply one another with child care when the need arises. It has even proven to be a resource for locating runaway pets. By leveraging the power of the internet, those living near one another are connecting again in ways that are often lost in today’s fast-paced world.

Being in relationship with those who live nearby was also important long ago in the days of King Solomon. While family relationships are truly important and can be a source of great support, Solomon indicates that the role of a friend is vital—especially when “disaster strikes” (Proverbs 27:10). Relatives might care deeply for their family members and desire to be of help in such circumstances. But if they’re far away, there’s little they can do in the moments when calamity strikes. Neighbors, however, because they’re close by, are likely to know of the need quickly and can assist more readily.

Because technology has made it easier than ever to remain connected with loved ones across the globe, we may be tempted to overlook those living nearby. Jesus, help us invest in relationships with the people You’ve placed around us!

By: Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

Who has brought you aid in your times of need? How can you come alongside those living nearest you?

Thank You, God, for giving us neighbors to show care for one another.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — In It Together

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 8–10
  • Matthew 25:31–46

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Romans 12:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 12:9–16

During a two-month period in 1994, as many as one million Tutsis were slain in Rwanda by Hutu tribe members bent on killing their fellow countrymen. In the wake of this horrific genocide, Bishop Geoffrey Rwubusisi approached his wife about reaching out to women whose loved ones had been slain. Mary’s reply was, “All I want to do is cry.” She too had lost members of her family. The bishop’s response was that of a wise leader and caring husband: “Mary, gather the women together and cry with them.” He knew his wife’s pain had prepared her to uniquely share in the pain of others.

The church, the family of God, is where all of life can be shared—the good and not-so-good. The New Testament words “one another” are used to capture our interdependence. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. . . . Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:10, 16). The extent of our connectedness is expressed in verse 15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

While the depth and scope of our pain may pale in comparison with those affected by genocide, it’s nonetheless personal and real. And, as with the pain of Mary, because of what God has done for us it can be embraced and shared for the comfort and good of others.

By: Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

When have you allowed someone else to share your sorrow? How does the body of Christ—the church—help you deal with the hard times in life?

Gracious God, forgive me for my reluctance to enter the pain of others. Help me to live more fully as a connected member of Your church.

Learn about loving as Jesus does at discoveryseries.org/q0208.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Does What We Do Matter?

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Leviticus 1–3
  • Matthew 24:1–28

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Colossians 3:12–17

I dropped my forehead to my hand with a sigh, “I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done.” My friend’s voice crackled through the phone: “You have to give yourself some credit. You’re doing a lot.” He then listed the things I was trying to do—maintain a healthy lifestyle, work, do well in graduate school, write, and attend a Bible study. I wanted to do all these things for God, but instead I was more focused on what I was doing than how I was doing it—or that perhaps I was trying to do too much.

Paul reminded the church in Colossae that they were to live in a way that glorified God. Ultimately, what they specifically did on a day-to-day basis was not as important as how they did it. They were to do their work with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12), to be forgiving, and above all to love (vv. 13–14) and to “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (v. 17). Their work wasn’t to be separated from Christlike living.

What we do matters, but how we do it, why, and who we do it for matters more. Each day we can choose to work in a stressed-out way or in a way that honors God and seeks out the meaning Jesus adds to our work. When we pursue the latter, we find satisfaction.

By: Julie Schwab

Reflect & Pray

In what ways do you do things out of need or obligation rather than for God’s glory? How do you think meaning is found in Christ rather than accomplishments?

Jesus, forgive me for the times I stress over what I’m trying to accomplish. Help me to instead seek to accomplish things for Your glory.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Mercy’s Lament

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 39–40
  • Matthew 23:23–39

My heart is poured out on the ground . . . because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.

Lamentations 2:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Lamentations 2:10–13, 18–19

Her father blamed his illness on witchcraft. It was AIDS. When he died, his daughter, ten-year-old Mercy, grew even closer to her mother. But her mother was sick too, and three years later she died. From then on, Mercy’s sister raised the five siblings. That’s when Mercy began to keep a journal of her deep pain.

The prophet Jeremiah kept a record of his pain too. In the grim book of Lamentations, he wrote of atrocities done to Judah by the Babylonian army. Jeremiah’s heart was especially grieved for the youngest victims. “My heart is poured out on the ground,” he cried, “because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city” (2:11). The people of Judah had a history of ignoring God, but their children were paying the price too. “Their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms,” wrote Jeremiah (v. 12).

We might have expected Jeremiah to reject God in the face of such suffering. Instead, he urged the survivors, “Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children” (v. 19).

It’s good, as Mercy and Jeremiah did, to pour out our hearts to God. Lament is a crucial part of being human. Even when God permits such pain, He grieves with us. Made as we are in His image, He must lament too!

By: Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

How do you handle the painful situations in your life? How might it help you to write it down and share your journal with a friend?

Dear God, I’m hurting because of ____________________. You see my grief. Please show Your strength in my life today.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — How to Stay on Track

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 36–38
  • Matthew 23:1–22

The Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie.

1 John 2:27 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 John 2:18–27

As the world’s fastest blind runner, David Brown of the U.S. Paralympic Team credits his wins to God, his mother’s early advice (“no sitting around”), and his running guide—veteran sprinter Jerome Avery. Tethered to Brown by a string tied to their fingers, Avery guides Brown’s winning races with words and touches.

“It’s all about listening to his cues,” says Brown, who says he could “swing out wide” on 200-meter races where the track curves. “Day in and day out, we’re going over race strategies,” Brown says, “communicating with each other—not only verbal cues, but physical cues.”

In our own life’s race, we’re blessed with a Divine Guide. Our Helper, the Holy Spirit, leads our steps when we follow Him. “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray,” wrote John (1 John 2:26). “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know” (v. 27 nlt).

John stressed this wisdom to the believers of his day who faced “antichrists” who denied the Father and that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 22). We face such deniers today as well. But the Holy Spirit, our Guide, leads us in following Jesus. We can trust His guidance to touch us with truth, keeping us on track.

By: Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How attuned are you to the Holy Spirit’s guidance? How can you listen better when He guides, warns, and directs?

Dear God, attune our hearts to Your Holy Spirit’s guidance so we’ll run to Your truth and not to lies.

Read about the filling of the Spirit at discoveryseries.org/q0301.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — God-Sized Love

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 34–35
  • Matthew 22:23–46

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?

Matthew 5:46

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 5:43–48

I once visited an impoverished neighborhood of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Homes were made of corrugated iron, with electrical wires dangling live above them. There I had the privilege of interviewing families and hearing how churches were helping to combat unemployment, drug use, and crime.

In one alleyway I climbed a rickety ladder to a small room to interview a mother and her son. But just a moment later someone rushed up, saying, “We must leave now.” A machete-wielding gang leader was apparently gathering a mob to ambush us.

We visited a second neighborhood, but there we had no problem. Later I discovered why. As I visited each home, a gang leader stood outside guarding us. It turned out his daughter was being fed and educated by the church, and because believers were standing by her, he stood by us.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents a standard of love that’s beyond comparison. This kind of love embraces not just the “worthy” but the undeserving (Matthew 5:43–45), reaching beyond family and friends to touch those who can’t or won’t love us back (vv. 46–47). This is God-sized love (v. 48)—the kind that blesses everyone.

As believers in Santo Domingo live out this love, neighborhoods are starting to change. Tough hearts are warming to their cause. That’s what happens when God-sized love comes to town.

By: Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How would you describe the difference between human love and godly love? Who can you bless today who can’t repay you?

Jesus, pour Your love into me so I may pour it out to others—even to those who can’t repay the favor.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Fire Called Holy

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 31–33
  • Matthew 22:1–22

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 3:15–18

After several years of drought, the wildfires of Southern California left some residents thinking of them as acts of God. This disturbing impression was reinforced when news sources began referring to one as the Holy Fire. Many unfamiliar with the area didn’t realize it was a reference to the Holy Jim Canyon region. But who was Holy Jim? According to local history, he was a nineteenth-century beekeeper so irreligious and cantankerous that neighbors tagged him with that ironic nickname.

John the Baptist’s reference to a baptism of “the Holy Spirit and fire” also came with its own story and explanation (Luke 3:16). Looking back, he was likely thinking of the kind of Messiah and refining fire foreseen by the prophet Malachi (3:1–3; 4:1). But only after the Spirit of God came like wind and fire on the followers of Jesus did the words of Malachi and John come into focus (Acts 2:1–4).

The fire John predicted wasn’t what was expected. As a true act of God, it came with boldness to proclaim a different kind of Messiah and holy flame. In the Spirit of Jesus, it exposed and consumed our futile human efforts—while making room for the love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22–23). Those are the acts of God that He would like to work in us.

By: Mart DeHaan

Reflect & Pray

How has your life been affected by the work of the Holy Spirit? What does it mean for you to pursue a holy—set apart—life before God?

Father in heaven, please replace our fear of Your Holy Spirit with a love, joy, and peace that is as priceless as our stubborn ways are worthless.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Going, Going, Gone

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 25–26
  • Matthew 20:17–34

Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone.

Proverbs 23:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Proverbs 23:1–5

The mischievous artist Banksy pulled off another practical joke. His painting Girl with Balloon sold for one million pounds at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Moments after the auctioneer yelled “Sold,” an alarm sounded and the painting slipped halfway through a shredder mounted inside the bottom of the frame. Banksy tweeted a picture of bidders gasping at his ruined masterpiece, with the caption, “Going, going, gone.”

Banksy relished pulling one over on the wealthy, but he need not have bothered. Wealth itself has plenty of pranks up its sleeve. God says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich . . . . Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4–5).

Few things are less secure than money. We work hard to earn it, yet there are many ways to lose it. Investments go sour, inflation erodes, bills come, thieves steal, and fire and flood destroy. Even if we manage to keep our money, the time we have to spend it continually flies. Blink, and your life is going, going, gone.

What to do? God tells us a few verses later: “always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (vv. 17–18). Invest your life in Jesus; He alone will keep you forever.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Where does your life feel insecure? How might that lead you to Jesus?

God, help me to give my insecurities to You and to trust in Your goodness and faithfulness.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Where Are You Headed?

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Exodus 1–3
  • Matthew 14:1–21

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

2 Samuel 12:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 12:1–14

In northern Thailand, the Wild Boars youth soccer team decided to explore a cave together. After an hour they turned to go back and found that the entrance to the cave was flooded. Rising water pushed them deeper into the cave, day after day, until they were finally trapped more than two miles (four kilometers) inside. When they were heroically rescued two weeks later, many wondered how they had become so hopelessly trapped. Answer: one step at a time.

In Israel, Nathan confronted David for killing his loyal soldier, Uriah. How did the man “after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) become guilty of murder? One step at a time. David didn’t go from zero to murder in one afternoon. He warmed up to it, over time, as one bad decision bled into others. It started with a second glance that turned into a lustful stare. He abused his kingly power by sending for Bathsheba, then tried to cover up her pregnancy by calling her husband home from the front. When Uriah refused to visit his wife while his comrades were at war, David decided he would have to die.

We may not be guilty of murder or trapped in a cave of our own making, but we’re either moving toward Jesus or toward trouble. Big problems don’t develop overnight. They break upon us gradually, one step at a time.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What decision can you make right now to move toward Jesus and away from trouble? What must you do to confirm this decision?

Jesus, I’m running to You!

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Clean Containers

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Genesis 49–50
  • Matthew 13:31–58

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 10:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Peter 4:7–11

“Hatred corrodes the container that carries it.” These words were spoken by former Senator Alan Simpson at the funeral of George H. W. Bush. Attempting to describe his dear friend’s kindness, Senator Simpson recalled how the forty-first president of the United States embraced humor and love rather than hatred in his professional leadership and personal relationships.

I relate to the senator’s quote, don’t you? Oh, the damage done to me when I harbor hatred!

Medical research reveals the damage done to our bodies when we cling to the negative or release bursts of anger. Our blood pressure rises. Our hearts pound. Our spirits sag. Our containers corrode.

In Proverbs 10:12, King Solomon observes, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” The conflict that results from hatred here is a blood feud between rivaling peoples of different tribes and races. Such hatred fuels the drive for revenge so that people who despise each other can’t connect.

By contrast, God’s way of love covers—draws a veil over, conceals, or forgives—all wrongs. That doesn’t mean we overlook errors or enable a wrongdoer. But we don’t nurse the wrong when someone is truly remorseful. And if they never apologize, we still release our feelings to God. We who know the Great Lover are to “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

By: Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What things cause you to hate? How might the hard-hearted heat of hostility eat away at our personal joy and our world’s peace?

O God, help me surrender to Your great love that covers all sins and makes me into a clean container in which You dwell in love.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Prompted to Pray

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Genesis 1–3
  • Matthew 1

I constantly remember you in my prayers.

2 Timothy 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Timothy 2:1–8

“Several years ago I was prompted to pray for you often, and I wonder why.”

That text message from an old friend came with a photo of a note she’d kept in her Bible: “Pray for James. Cover mind, thoughts, words.” Beside my name she’d recorded three separate years.

I looked at the years and caught my breath. I wrote back and asked what month she began to pray. She responded, “Sometime around July.”

That was the month I was preparing to leave home for extended study abroad. I would be facing an unfamiliar culture and language and have my faith challenged like never before. As I looked at the note, I realized I’d received the precious gift of generous prayer.

My friend’s kindness reminded me of another “prompting” to pray, Paul’s instruction to his young missionary friend Timothy: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). The phrase “first of all” indicates highest priority. Our prayers matter, Paul explains, because God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” about Jesus (v. 4).

God moves through faithful prayer in countless ways to encourage others and draw them near to Himself. We may not know someone’s circumstances when they come to mind, but God does. And He’ll help that person as we pray!

By: James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Who comes to mind that needs your prayers in this new year? How can you remind yourself to pray for them often?

Loving God, please help me to pray often and to make a lasting difference in others’ lives through my intercession for them. 

To learn more about prayer, visit https://bit.ly/2kTeSVt.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A String of Yeses

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Nahum 1–3
  • Revelation 14

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 2:15–19

One Christmas, my grandmother gave me a beautiful pearl necklace. The beautiful beads glowed about my neck until one day the string broke. Balls bounced in all directions off our home’s hardwood flooring. Crawling over the planks, I recovered each tiny orb. On their own, they were small. But oh, when strung together, those pearls made such an impression!

Sometimes my yeses to God seem so insignificant—like those individual pearls. I compare myself to Mary, the mother of Jesus who was so fantastically obedient. She said yes when she embraced God’s call for her to carry the Messiah. “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:38). Did she understand all that would be required of her? That an even bigger yes to relinquishing her Son on the cross loomed ahead?

After the visits of the angels and shepherds, Luke 2:19 tells us that Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Treasure means to “store up.” Ponder means to “thread together.” The phrase is repeated of Mary in Luke 2:51. She would respond with many yeses over her lifetime.

As with Mary, the key to our obedience might be a threading together of various yeses to our Father’s invitations, one at a time, until they string into the treasure of a surrendered life.

By: Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What yeses do you need to say to God? How can you learn to be more obedient?

Dear God, help us to respond, one yes at a time, to Your ongoing work in our lives.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Failure Is Impossible

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Micah 1–3
  • Revelation 11

This work had been done with the help of our God.

Nehemiah 6:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Nehemiah 6:1–9

“Failure is impossible!” These words were spoken by Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), known for her immovable stance on women’s rights in the US. Though she faced constant criticism and later an arrest, trial, and guilty verdict for voting illegally, Anthony vowed to never give up the fight to gain women the right to vote, believing her cause was just. Though she didn’t live to see the fruit of her labor, her declaration proved true. In 1920, the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote.

Failure wasn’t an option for Nehemiah either, mainly because he had a Powerful Helper: God. After asking Him to bless his cause—rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem—Nehemiah and those who had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon worked to make that happen. The wall was needed to keep the people safe from enemies. But opposition to the cause came in the form of deception and threats. Nehemiah refused to let opposition deter him. He informed those who opposed the work, “I am carrying on a great project” (Nehemiah 6:3). After that, he prayed, “Now strengthen my hands” (v. 9). Thanks to perseverance, the work was completed (v. 15).

God gave Nehemiah the strength to persevere in the face of opposition. Is there a task for which you’re tempted to give up? Ask God to provide whatever you need to keep going.

By: Linda Washington

Reflect & Pray

How do you normally handle opposition? What cause are you willing to fight for, no matter how tough the opposition?

Precious God, I need Your help to keep going with the work You’ve given me to do, no matter what the cost may be.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Written on the Heart

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Jonah 1–4
  • Revelation 10

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.

2 Corinthians 3:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 2:17–3:6

As a professor, I’m often asked by students to write letters of recommendation for them—for leadership positions, study-abroad programs, graduate schools, and even jobs. In each letter, I have a chance to praise the student’s character and qualifications.

When Christians traveled in the ancient world, they often carried with them similar “letters of commendation” from their churches. Such a letter ensured that the traveling brother or sister would be welcomed hospitably.

The apostle Paul didn’t need a letter of recommendation when he spoke to the church in Corinth—they knew him. In his second letter to that church, Paul wrote that he preached the gospel out of sincerity, not for personal gain (2 Corinthians 2:17). But then he wondered if his readers would think that in defending his motives in preaching, he was trying to write a letter of recommendation for himself.

He didn’t need such a letter, he said, because the people in the church in Corinth were themselves like letters of recommendation. The visible work of Christ in their lives was like a letter “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (3:3). Their lives testified to the true gospel Paul had preached to them—their lives were letters of reference that could be “known and read by everyone” (3:2). As we follow Jesus, this becomes true of us too—our lives tell the story of the goodness of the gospel.

By: Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

When people read the “letter” of your life, what do they see of Jesus? Who are the teachers who have left their imprint on you?

Jesus, I want others to see You in my life. May I decrease and You increase.

 

http://www.odb.org