Category Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — As Advertised

 

Read: John 16:25–33 | Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 4–6; Acts 2:22–47

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

During a vacation, my husband and I signed up for a leisurely rafting tour down Georgia’s Chattahoochee River. Dressed in sandals, a sundress, and a wide brimmed hat, I groaned when we discovered—contrary to the advertisement—that the trip included light rapids. Thankfully, we rode with a couple experienced in whitewater rafting. They taught my husband the basics of paddling and promised to navigate us safely to our destination. Grateful for my life jacket, I screamed and gripped the plastic handle on the raft until we reached the muddy bank downriver. I stepped onto the shore and dumped water from my purse as my husband helped me wring out the hem of my soaked dress. We enjoyed a good laugh, even though the trip had not turned out as advertised.

Unlike the tour brochure, which clearly left out a key detail about the trip, Jesus explicitly warned His disciples that rough waters were ahead. He told them that they’d be persecuted and martyred and that He would die and be resurrected. He also guaranteed His trustworthiness, affirming that He would guide them toward undeniable triumph and everlasting hope (John 16:16–33).

Although it would be nice if life were easier when we follow Jesus, He made it clear that His disciples would have troubles. But He promised to be with us. Trials won’t define, limit, or destroy God’s plan for us, because Jesus’s resurrection has already propelled us to eternal victory.

Lord, thank You for the promises in Your Word that assure us You’ve planned our path and remain with us and for us, no matter what comes.

Jesus promises to be with us through the roughest waters.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

Hours before His death, Jesus spoke of difficult times ahead (John 13:21, 31–33; 15:20; 16:2, 32). Jesus comforted the distraught disciples with the provision of heaven, the promise of the Holy Spirit, and His abiding presence. And He offered them and us a most needed gift—peace (John 14–16). Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 nlt). Living in a world broken by sin and devastated by suffering, we have the promise of Jesus’s peace.

As you cope with life’s troubles and pain, how does Jesus’s peace of mind and heart give you confidence and hope? (John 14:27; 16:33).

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — “Lovable!”

 

Read: Jeremiah 31:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Nehemiah 1–3; Acts 2:1–21

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

“Lovable!”

That exclamation came from my daughter as she got ready one morning. I didn’t know what she meant. Then she tapped her shirt, a hand-me-down from a cousin. Across the front was that word: “Lovable.” I gave her a big hug, and she smiled with pure joy. “You are lovable!” I echoed. Her smile grew even bigger, if that was possible, as she skipped away, repeating the word over and over again.

I’m hardly a perfect father. But that moment was perfect. In that spontaneous, beautiful interaction, I glimpsed in my girl’s radiant face what receiving unconditional love looked like: It was a portrait of delight. She knew the word on her shirt corresponded completely with how her daddy felt about her.

How many of us know in our hearts that we are loved by a Father whose affection for us is limitless? Sometimes we struggle with this truth. The Israelites did. They wondered if their trials meant God no longer loved them. But in Jeremiah 31:3, the prophet reminds them of what God said in the past: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” We too long for such unconditional love. Yet the wounds, disappointments, and mistakes we experience can make us feel anything but lovable. But God opens His arms—the arms of a perfect Father—and invites us to experience and rest in His love.

Lord, hard things in our lives can tempt us to believe we are unlovable. But You say otherwise. Please help us to receive the life-transforming gift of Your everlasting love for us.

No one loves us like our Father.

By Adam Holz

INSIGHT

Much of the book of Jeremiah deals with the prophet’s anguished appeal for God’s people to turn back to Him. Those pleas were ignored, making judgment inevitable. But God’s love is relentless, and in chapters 30–31 Jeremiah gives hope to the remnant who would live through the coming invasion. “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness,” God said (31:2). This “favor” would show up in ways the scattered survivors likely thought no longer possible. What the invading horde destroyed, God would rebuild, causing the people to “take up [their] timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful” (v. 4). Their farmers would plant fruitful vineyards (v. 5). No longer would watchmen cry out in warning, but would instead call the people to Zion (Jerusalem) for worship (v. 6).

When we begin to understand the scope of God’s love, we can accept His correction and learn from it. As we embrace His everlasting love, we find that God’s discipline is for our good and is proof that we are His children (see Hebrews 12:5–7).

Do you see God as our gentle and loving heavenly Father? In what ways have you sensed His loving correction?

Tim Gustafson

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Quieting the Critic

 

Read: Nehemiah 4:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezra 9–10; Acts 1

Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Nehemiah 4:4

I work with a team to put on an annual community event. We spend eleven months plotting many details to ensure the event’s success. We choose the date and venue. We set ticket prices. We select everything from food vendors to sound technicians. As the event approaches, we answer public questions and provide directions. Afterward we collect feedback. Some good. Some that is hard to hear. Our team hears excitement from attendees and also fields complaints. The negative feedback can be discouraging and sometimes tempts us to give up.

Nehemiah had critics too as he led a team to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. They actually mocked Nehemiah and those working alongside him saying, “Even a fox climbing up on it would break down [your] wall of stones” (Nehemiah 4:3). His response to the critics helps me handle my own: Instead of feeling dejected or trying to refute their comments, he turned to God for help. Instead of responding directly, he asked God to hear the way His people were being treated and to defend them (v. 4). After entrusting those concerns to God, he and his co-laborers continued to work steadily on the wall “with all their heart” (v. 6).

We can learn from Nehemiah not to be distracted by criticism of our work. When we’re criticized or mocked, instead of responding to our critics out of hurt or anger, we can prayerfully ask God to defend us from discouragement so we can continue with a whole heart.

Help me to evaluate the good and bad in the criticism, to trust You, and to continue in my work wholeheartedly.

God is our best defense against criticism.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

Have you noticed how criticism seems so justified when we give it—but so wrong when we receive it?

As Jewish families returned to their homeland after seventy years of exile in Babylon, they faced strong criticism. Current residents believed it was in their own interest to resist the returning exiles. They saw the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls as a threat to their own homes and families.

Just as understandably, Nehemiah and his friends felt they had a God-given right to regard as enemies those who opposed their effort to rebuild Jerusalem’s broken-down walls (Nehemiah 4:4).

Nehemiah’s courageous prayer of faith is a chapter in a bigger story that leads us to even higher ground. Many years later, by His own example, Jesus calls all people on both sides of conflict to find security in more than walls of self-interest. He taught all of us to pray for those who abuse us and to bless those who curse us (Matthew 5:9–12, 44). In His kingdom, it’s a heart of mercy that Christ desires.

Mart DeHaan

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Humble Love

 

Read: Philippians 2:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Ezra 6–8; John 21

The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11

When Benjamin Franklin was a young man he made a list of twelve virtues he desired to grow in over the course of his life. He showed it to a friend, who suggested he add “humility” to it. Franklin liked the idea. He then added some guidelines to help him with each item on the list. Among Franklin’s thoughts about humility, he held up Jesus as an example to emulate.

Jesus shows us the ultimate example of humility. God’s Word tells us, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:5–7).

Jesus demonstrated the greatest humility of all. Though eternally with the Father, He chose to bend beneath a cross in love so that through His death He might lift any who receive Him into the joy of His presence.

We imitate Jesus’s humility when we seek to serve our heavenly Father by serving others. Jesus’s kindness helps us catch a breathtaking glimpse of the beauty of setting ourselves aside to attend to others’ needs. Aiming for humility isn’t easy in our “me first” world. But as we rest securely in our Savior’s love, He will give us everything we need to follow Him.

Beautiful Savior, I am Your servant. Please help me to live in Your love and be a blessing to someone today.

We can serve because we are loved.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

Philippians 2 teaches us that how we behave is rooted in what we believe. Paul says the call to humble love and service is built on the example of Jesus. We are to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” He then adds, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (vv. 2–4). This type of living does not come naturally. Only when we allow the Holy Spirit to enable us can we live out the humble love expressed perfectly by Christ.

For more, get our free download, The Mind of Christ.

Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Called by Name

Read: John 20:11–18 | Bible in a Year: Ezra 3–5; John 20

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” John 20:16

Advertisers have concluded that the most attention-grabbing word that viewers react to is their own name. Thus a television channel in the UK has introduced personalized advertisements with their online streaming services.

We might enjoy hearing our name on television, but it doesn’t mean much without the intimacy that comes when someone who loves us says our name.

Mary Magdalene’s attention was arrested when, at the tomb where Jesus’s body had been laid after He was crucified on the cross, He spoke her name (John 20:16). With that single word, she turned in recognition to the Teacher whom she loved and followed, I imagine with a rush of disbelief and joy. The familiarity with which He spoke her name confirmed for her beyond a doubt that the One who’d known her perfectly was alive and not dead.

Although Mary shared a unique and special moment with Jesus, we too are personally loved by God. Jesus told Mary that He would ascend to His Father (v. 17), but He had also told His disciples that He would not leave them alone (John 14:15–18). God would send the Holy Spirit to live and dwell in His children (see Acts 2:1–13).

God’s story doesn’t change. Whether then or now, He knows those whom He loves (see John 10:14–15). He calls us by name.

Loving Father, living Jesus, comforting Holy Spirit, thank You that You know me completely, and that You love me unceasingly.

The God who created the cosmos also made you, and He calls you by name.

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

God knows us, and He loves us. That’s easy to say but harder to believe sometimes—especially when we feel crippled by grief, when we feel completely alone.

This beautiful passage (John 20:11–18) can remind us that we can be honest with God. We don’t need to pretend to be happy. We can bring our pain to Him, exactly as it is. Tell Him why we’re crying (vv. 13, 15); tell Him when He seems far away. He loves us and wants us to run to Him in our pain (1 Peter 5:7). When we do, we can experience the tender love of our Father knowing and holding us in even those most painful places (John 20:16). And we can share with others how He brought joy even out of our weeping (v. 18).

Monica Brands

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Advice from My Father

 

Read: Proverbs 3:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Ezra 1–2; John 19:23–42

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

After being laid off from an editorial job, I prayed, asking for God to help me find a new one. But when weeks went by and nothing came of my attempts at networking and filling out applications, I began to pout. “Don’t You know how important it is that I have a job?” I asked God, my arms folded in protest at my seemingly unanswered prayer.

When I talked to my father, who had often reminded me about believing God’s promises, about my job situation, he said, “I want you to get to the point where you trust what God says.”

My father’s advice reminds me of Proverbs 3, which includes wise advice from a parent to a beloved child. This familiar passage was especially applicable to my situation: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). To “make . . . paths straight” means God will guide us toward His goals for our growth. His ultimate goal is that I become more like Him.

This does not mean that the paths He chooses will be easy. But I can choose to trust that His direction and timing are ultimately for my good.

Are you waiting on God for an answer? Choose to draw near to Him and trust that He will guide you.

Lord, thank You for guiding and caring for us every step of the way. Help us to trust in You daily.

Your Father in heaven knows what’s best for you.

By Linda Washington

INSIGHT

The first nine chapters of Proverbs don’t follow the same format (pithy sayings; poetry couplets) that the rest of the book follows. The beginning chapters are a father’s encouragement to his son. The father tells his son of the benefits of wisdom, of its ability to make life more pleasant and fulfilling. Wisdom and folly are personified and invite the young man to pursue them. But why is this important? It seems obvious that wisdom is better than folly, so why go to such lengths to convince a child of the need to pursue wisdom?

The answer is experiential. You see, folly is the easier of the two, the more natural. As we read chapters 10–31, we see what the better choice is. But folly is far simpler to choose—it seems hardwired into us. Whether it’s a harsh word, a selfish action, or self-indulgence, folly is always ready to embrace us. That’s why the father takes such time to encourage his son to pursue wisdom. Wisdom isn’t restricted to big decisions, however; we need it for every action we take and every word we speak.

How can we pursue wisdom today?

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Warm Welcome

 

Read: 1 Peter 4:7–11 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 34–36; John 19:1–22

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

“Who will hug everybody?”

That was one of the questions our friend Steve asked after he got the news that he had cancer and realized he would be away from our church for a while. Steve is the kind of man who makes everyone feel welcome—with a friendly greeting, a warm handshake, and even a “holy hug” for some—to adapt an application from Romans 16:16, which says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

And now, as we pray for Steve that God will heal him, he is concerned that as he goes through surgery and treatment—and is away from our church for a time—we will miss out on those welcoming greetings.

Perhaps not all of us are cut out to greet one another as openly as Steve does, but his example of caring for people is a good reminder to us. Notice that Peter says to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling,” or in a way that centers on love (1 Peter 4:9; see Philippians 2:14). While first-century hospitality included offering accommodations to travelers—even that always starts with a welcoming greeting.

As we interact with others in love, whether with a hug or just a friendly smile, we do so “that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

Lord, help us to represent You to others. Guide us to show hospitality in a way that will show others Your love.

When we practice hospitality, we share God’s goodness.

By Dave Branon

INSIGHT

In 1 Peter 4, the apostle challenges the church to hospitality then reinforces that challenge with a call to service (vv. 10–11). In verse 10 he reminds believers that we’ve received gifts for that very purpose, and as we utilize those gifts in serving others we become expressions of God’s grace. It appears from these statements that Peter is giving his readers a glimpse into the realm of spiritual gifts about which Paul wrote in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.

Spiritual gifts are the Holy Spirit’s provision for equipping followers of Jesus to help one another (1 Corinthians 12:7). While Paul offers a more extended list of these gifts, Peter compresses them into two basic categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts (1 Peter 4:11). Both provide support and resources for the kind of hospitality described in today’s devotional. As we encourage people with the Scriptures and help them by acts of service, the family of God is strengthened and the hurting are helped.

For more on spiritual service, check out the free download, The Church We Need.

Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Perfect Father

 

Read: Psalm 27 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 32–33; John 18:19–40

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Psalm 27:10

Standing in the crowded store aisle, I struggled to find the perfect Father’s Day card. Although we had reconciled after years of a strained connection, I had never felt close to my dad.

The woman next to me groaned and shoved the card she’d been reading back into the display. “Why can’t they make cards for people who don’t have good relationships with their fathers, but are trying to do the right thing?”

She stormed off before I could respond, so I prayed for her. Thanking God for affirming only He could be a perfect Father, I asked Him to strengthen my relationship with my dad.

I long for deeper intimacy with my heavenly Father too. I want David’s confidence in God’s constant presence, power, and protection (Psalm 27:1–6).

When David cried out for help, he expected God’s answers (vv. 7–9). Though earthly parents could reject, abandon, or neglect their children, David declared God’s unconditional acceptance (v. 10). He lived with assurance in the Lord’s goodness (vv. 11–13). Like most of us, David sometimes struggled, but the Holy Spirit helped him persevere in trust and dependence on the Lord (v. 14).

We will encounter difficult relationships on this side of eternity. But even when people fall short, fail us, or hurt us, we’re still completely loved and protected by the only Perfect Father.

Lord, thank You for being a Father we can always count on.

God—the Perfect Father—will never let us down, leave us, or stop loving us.

By Xochitl Dixon

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Faces

 

Read: Galatians 5:22–26 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 30–31; John 18:1–18

We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18

When our granddaughter Sarah was very young, she explained to me what happens when you die: “Only your face goes to heaven, not your body. You get a new body, but keep the same face.”

Sarah’s concept of our eternal state was a child’s understanding, of course, but she did grasp an essential truth. In a sense, our faces are a visible reflection of the invisible soul.

My mother used to say that an angry look might someday freeze on my face. She was wiser than she knew. A worried brow, an angry set to our mouths, a sly look in our eyes may reveal a miserable soul. On the other hand, kind eyes, a gentle look, a warm and welcoming smile—despite wrinkles, blemishes, and other disfigurements—become the marks of inner transformation.

We can’t do much about the faces we were born with, but we can do something about the kind of person we’re growing into. We can pray for humility, patience, kindness, tolerance, gratefulness, forgiveness, peace, and love (Galatians 5:22–26).

By God’s grace, and in His time, may you and I grow toward an inner resemblance to our Lord, a likeness reflected in a kind, old face. Thus, as English poet John Donne (1572–1631) said, age becomes “loveliest at the latest day.”

Lord Jesus, I want to be more like You each day. Help me to cooperate with the work You want to do in my heart.

There’s nothing like the beauty of a loving heart.

By David H. Roper

INSIGHT

Policemen, firemen, doctors, and nurses put on clothes that distinctively identify them. What about the Christian? What distinguishes us as followers of Jesus? Paul tells us to “clothe [ourselves] with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). Earlier in Romans Paul says, God “predestined [us] to be conformed to the image of his Son” (8:29). It was God’s intention when He saved us that we would become like His Son. Our spiritual transformation is a process, however (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit works in us to increasingly make us more like Christ (1 John 3:2). To be like Jesus is “to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24 nlt). Our transformation will only be fully completed at the second coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:49–53).

As you reflect on your spiritual transformation since coming to Jesus, in what areas have you seen growth? Can others say, “I can see Christ in you”?

  1. T. Sim

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — And in Truth

 

Read: Zephaniah 1:1–6; 2:1–3 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 28–29; John 17

In his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Years ago, I attended a wedding where two people from different countries got married. Such a blending of cultures can be beautiful, but this ceremony included Christian traditions mixed with rituals from a faith that worshiped many gods.

Zephaniah the prophet pointedly condemned the mixing of other religions with faith in the one true God (sometimes called syncretism). Judah had become a people who bowed in worship to the true God but who also relied on the god Molek (Zephaniah 1:5). Zephaniah described their adoption of pagan culture (v. 8) and warned that as a result God would drive the people of Judah from their homeland.

Yet God never stopped loving His people. His judgment was to show them their need to turn to Him. So Zephaniah encouraged Judah to “Seek righteousness, seek humility” (2:3). Then the Lord gave them tender words promising future restoration: “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home” (3:20).

It’s easy to condemn examples of obvious syncretism like the wedding I attended. But in reality, all of us easily blend God’s truth with the assumptions of our culture. We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to test our beliefs against the truth of God’s Word and then to stand for that truth confidently and lovingly. Our Father warmly embraces anyone who worships Him in the Spirit and in truth (see John 4:23–24).

When I am in trouble, where do I turn? A crisis reveals where I put my trust. Is my faith completely in God? What do I need to give over to Him today?

God is always ready to forgive and restore.

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

God’s judgment is the theme of Zephaniah and is predicted because the people “neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him” (1:6). Several groups are targeted: the priests, who thought they could worship God and false gods (v. 6); the royal family, “who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit” (v. 9); “merchants,” who exploit the poor (v. 11); and the “complacent” (v.12), who live comfortably while doing nothing to change their corrupt culture. When we mix God’s truth with error, as the idolatrous priests did, judgment is inevitable.

Tim Gustafson

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Side by Side

 

Read: Nehemiah 3:1–12 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 25–27; John 16

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9

In ancient times, a city with broken walls revealed a defeated people, exposed to danger and shame. That is why the Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. How? By working side by side, an expression that can well describe Nehemiah 3.

At first glance, chapter 3 might appear to be a boring account of who did what in the reconstruction. However, a closer look highlights how people worked together. Priests were working alongside rulers. Perfume-makers were helping as well as goldsmiths. There were some who lived in nearby towns and came to give a hand. Others made repairs opposite their houses. Shallum’s daughters, for example, worked alongside the men (3:12), and some people repaired two sections, like the men of Tekoa (vv. 5, 27).

Two things stand out from this chapter. First, they all worked together for a common goal. Second, all of them are commended for being part of the work, not for how much or little they did as compared to others.

Today we see damaged families and a broken society. But Jesus came to build the kingdom of God through the transformation of lives. We can help to rebuild our neighborhoods by showing others they can find hope and new life in Jesus. All of us have something to do. So let us work side by side and do our part—whether big or small—to create a community of love where people can find Jesus.

Dear Lord, help me to work with others, side by side, by showing love and pointing others to Jesus.

Let’s work together to build the kingdom of God.

By Keila Ochoa |

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Blind Man’s Plea

 

Read: Luke 18:35–43 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 23–24; John 15

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Luke 18:38

Some years ago a traveling companion noticed I was straining to see objects at a distance. What he did next was simple but life changing. He took off his glasses and said, “Try these.” When I put his glasses on, surprisingly my blurred vision cleared up. Eventually I went to an optometrist who prescribed glasses to correct my vision problem.

Today’s reading in Luke 18 features a man with no vision at all, and living in total darkness had forced him to beg for a living. News about Jesus, the popular teacher and miracle worker, had reached the blind beggar’s ears. So when Jesus’s travel route took Him by where the blind man was sitting, hope was ignited in his heart. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 38) he called. Though without sight physically, the man possessed spiritual insight into Jesus’s true identity and faith in Him to meet his need. Compelled by this faith, “He shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (v. 39). The result? His blindness was banished, and he went from begging for his living to blessing God because he could see (v. 43).

In moments or seasons of darkness, where do you turn? Upon what or to whom do you call? Eyeglass prescriptions help improve vision, but it’s the merciful touch of Jesus, God’s Son, that brings people from spiritual darkness to light.

Father, open the eyes of my heart to clearly see who Jesus is and what He can do.

The Father’s delight is to give sight to those who ask Him.

By Arthur Jackson

INSIGHT

From the gospel of Mark we learn the blind man’s name is Bartimaeus (10:46). Bible scholar Kenneth Bailey, in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, tells us that Bartimaeus’s story is best understood in the context of what happens next—Jesus’s encounter with Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector of Jericho (Luke 19). With these two men, Jesus is reaching out to the extremes of the social context of first-century Israel—a blind beggar and a wealthy publican. Christ shows profound grace to both by giving Bartimaeus his sight and bringing salvation to the house of Zacchaeus (19:9–10).

A key element that connects these stories is the word son. Bartimaeus calls Jesus “Son of David,” a title identifying Jesus as the Messiah that Israel had longed for. Jesus calls Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham” (v. 9). This was not an ethnic description but an affirmation that Zacchaeus had come to faith (Galatians 3:7). The stories close with Jesus’s self-identification as “the Son of Man”—another title with Messianic implications (Luke 19:10).

On the cross Christ would complete His work of seeking and saving those who are lost—like Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus, and us.

Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Open My Eyes

 

Read: John 14:23–31 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 21–22; John 14

The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things. John 14:26

The first time I went to the gorgeous Chora Church in Istanbul, I was able to figure out some Bible stories from the Byzantine frescos and mosaics on the ceiling. But there was much I missed. The second time, however, I had a guide. He pointed to all the details I had previously missed, and suddenly everything made perfect sense! The first aisle, for instance, depicted the life of Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Luke.

Sometimes when we read the Bible we understand the basic stories, but what about the connections—those details that weave Scripture into the one perfect story? We have Bible commentaries and study tools, yes, but we also need a guide—someone to open our eyes and help us see the wonders of God’s written revelation. Our guide is the Holy Spirit who teaches us “all things” (John 14:26). Paul wrote that He explains “spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Corinthians 2:13).

How wonderful to have the Author of the Book to show us the wonders of it! God has not only given us His written Word and His revelation but He also helps us to understand it and learn from it. So let us pray with the psalmist, saying, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18).

Dear Lord, as I read Your Word, open my eyes that I may discover the wonders of Your revelation.

Study more at basics.christianuniversity.org/courses/SF105.

We need God in order to understand Scripture.

By Keila Ochoa

INSIGHT

Did you do connect-the-dot puzzles as a child?

When Jesus spoke in John 14:23–31 about giving His Spirit to show His disciples all they needed to know, they couldn’t yet see the picture. What He said about love, obedience, and the Spirit who would help them put it all together were still just words.

Imagine what it was like to be one of Jesus’s disciples for whom what He was saying was such a mystery and a puzzle on that Passover night. Then the Spirit came and began to reveal truth. Think about how the Spirit is now, through the Scriptures, connecting the dots for you.

Mart DeHaan

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Clocks and Calendars

 

Read: Psalm 62 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 19–20; John 13:21–38

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

My father died at 58 years of age. Ever since then, I pause on the date he died to remember Dad and reflect on his influence in my life. When I realized I had lived more of life without my dad than with him, I began pondering the brevity of my own life.

On reflection, we may wrestle with both an event in time and the feelings it stirs within us. Though we measure time with clocks and calendars, we remember times because of events. In the moments of life that trigger our deepest emotions, we can experience joy, loss, blessing, pain, success, failure.

The Scriptures encourage us: “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8). This confident statement did not occur in a time of ease. David wrote these words while surrounded by enemies (vv. 3–4). Still, he waited quietly before God (vv. 1, 5) reminding us that God’s unfailing love (v. 12) is greater than any of the times of struggle we may face.

In every event, we have this confidence: Our God stands with us, and He is more than adequate to carry us through all of life’s moments. When the times of life threaten to overwhelm us, His help will be right on time.

We’re grateful that You are always and will always be faithful to us, Father.

Listen to the Discover the Word series, “Remembering Who God Is” at discovertheword.org/series/remembering-who-god-is/.

 

Our God is ready to be with us in all the times of life.

By Bill Crowder

INSIGHT

Slowing down to consider what Psalm 62 tells us (or at least implies) about the situation that prompted the psalmist to write it can deepen our understanding of God. It helps us internalize the psalm’s teaching in a way that transforms us rather than simply informs us. These are not the blissful words of reflection from an untroubled soul. David writes from the tired depths of someone maligned and assaulted. Saying that hope comes from the Lord is simple when hope is a luxury. To say that you will not be shaken when even your friends are secretly cursing you (v. 4) is an expression of trust before, during, and after all other hopes have failed.

How can you express hope in God?

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The “Chewing” Years

 

Read: 1 Peter 2:1–11 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 17–18; John 13:1–20

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

My wife recently gave me a Labrador retriever puppy we named Max. One day when Max was spending time with me in my study, I was concentrating at my desk and heard the sound of paper ripping behind me. I turned to find a guilty-looking puppy with a book wide open and a page dangling from his mouth.

Our veterinarian tells us that Max is going through his “chewing years.” As puppies lose their milk teeth and permanent ones grow, they soothe their gums by chewing almost anything. We have to watch Max carefully to ensure he isn’t gnawing on something that could harm him, and we point him to healthy alternatives.

Max’s urge to chew—and my responsibility to watch him—cause me to think about what we “chew on” in our minds and hearts. Do we carefully consider what we are feeding our eternal souls when we read or surf the web or watch TV? The Bible encourages us, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2–3). We need to fill ourselves daily with God’s Word and truth if we are to thrive as followers of Christ. Only then can we grow to maturity in Him.

Loving Lord, help me to hunger for You and Your Word and to stay away from that which harms me. Fill me with Your goodness today.

When Christ returns, what will He find us craving?

By James Banks

INSIGHT

Food is used as a metaphor to describe the Bible’s nutritional value. To Peter, it’s pure milk (1 Peter 2:2). Job treasured God’s Word more than his daily bread (Job 23:12). In Psalm 19:10, it’s sweeter than honey. Looking at Hebrews 5:12–14, why do we need the solid food of Scripture to mature spiritually?

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Stop

 

Read: Psalm 46 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 15–16; John 12:27–50

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

My friend and I sat in the sand, near the ever-rhythmic ocean. As the sun sank in the distance, wave after wave curled, paused and then rippled toward our extended toes, stopping just short each time. “I love the ocean,” she smiled. “It moves so I don’t have to.”

What a thought! So many of us struggle to stop. We do, do, do and go, go, go, somehow afraid that if we cease our efforts we will cease to be. Or that by stopping we will expose ourselves to the ever-present realities we work to keep at bay.

In Psalm 46:8–9, God flexes His omnipotent muscles, putting His power on display. “Come and see what the Lord has done . . . . He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” God is a busy God, who works to create calm within the chaos of our days.

And then in verse 10 we read, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Of course it’s possible to know God while running here and there. But the psalmist’s invitation to cease striving beckons us into a different kind of knowing. A knowing that we can stop—and still be—because God never stops. A knowing that it is God’s power that gives us ultimate value, protection, and peace.

Dear God, help me to find my rest in You.

We rest well when we’re in the loving arms and perfect will of God.

By Elisa Morgan

INSIGHT

Psalm 46 has been a source of encouragement to many over the years—including reformer Martin Luther. In fact, he based the classic hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” on this psalm. During times of struggle “when terribly discouraged, he would turn to his co-worker, Philipp Melanchthon, and say, ‘Come, Philipp, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm’” (Ligonier Ministries, Luther and the Psalms: His Solace and Strength).

This mighty fortress describes the God of strength who is our refuge. And He is also the God who calls us to find our rest in Him. In the New Testament, Jesus personalized that rest when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In the midst of the cares and despairs of life, we can stop, be still, and find refuge in God.

Bill Crowder

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Interrupted Fellowship

 

Read: Matthew 27:32–50 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 13–14; John 12:1–26

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46

The loud, sorrowful cry pierced the dark afternoon air. I imagine it drowning out the sound of mourning from friends and loved ones gathered at Jesus’s feet. It must have overwhelmed the moans of the dying criminals who flanked Jesus on both sides. And surely startled all who heard it.

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Jesus cried out in agony and in utter despondency as He hung on that cross of shame on Golgotha (Matthew 27:45–46).

Jesus, thank You for making it possible to have fellowship with the Father.

“My God,” He said, “my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I cannot think of more heart-wrenching words. Since eternity, Jesus had been in perfect fellowship with God the Father. Together they had created the universe, had fashioned mankind in their image, and planned salvation. Never in the eons past had they not been in total fellowship with each other.

And now, as the anguish of the cross continued to bring devastating pain on Jesus—He for the first time lost the awareness of God’s presence as He carried the burden of the sins of the world.

It was the only way. Only through this time of interrupted fellowship could our salvation be provided for. And it was only because Jesus was willing to experience this sense of being forsaken on the cross that we humans can gain fellowship with God.

Thank You, Jesus, for experiencing such pain so we could be forgiven.

Jesus, we again stand in awe at Your sacrifice. We kneel in Your presence and with gratitude acknowledge what You did for us on the cross. Thank You for making it possible to have fellowship with the Father forever.

The cross reveals God’s heart for the lost.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — When Words Fail

 

Read: Romans 8:22–27 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 10–12; John 11:30–57

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Not long ago I sent my wife, Cari, a text message using only voice prompts. I was on my way out the door to give her a ride home from work and intended to send the words, “Where would you like me to pick you up, old gal?”

Cari doesn’t mind my calling her “old gal”—it’s one of the affectionate nicknames we use around the house. But my cell phone didn’t “understand” the phrase, and sent the words “old cow” instead.

We can come to Him with every need, assured that He understands and receives us with love.

Fortunately for me, Cari immediately understood what had happened and found it funny. She later posted my text message on social media and asked, “Should I be offended?” We were both able to laugh about it.

My wife’s loving response to my awkward words that day makes me think about God’s loving understanding of our prayers. We may not know what to say when we pray or even what to ask for, but when we belong to Christ, His Spirit within “intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26) and lovingly helps us articulate our deepest needs before Him.

Our heavenly Father doesn’t stand at a distance waiting for us to get our words right. We can come to Him with every need, assured that He understands and receives us with love.

Abba, Father, thank You that I can come to You without fear of having to get my words just right. Help me to keep company with You today.

God’s love is beyond words.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

Some of the New Testament’s most important teaching on the Holy Spirit is found in Romans 8. The Spirit is mentioned 21 times in the first 27 verses, with activities ranging from indwelling the lives of followers of Jesus (v. 9), giving us assurance of our relationship with the Father (v. 16), and helping us as we pray (as seen in today’s devotional; vv. 26–27). What a rich and wonderful gift we have received in the Holy Spirit! May we, as Paul says, “not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4).

Bill Crowder

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Gazing at the Horizon

 

Read: Hebrews 11:8–16 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 7–9; John 11:1–29

We are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14

Almost as soon as the ferryboat started to move, my little daughter said she felt ill. Seasickness had already begun to affect her. Soon I was feeling queasy myself. “Just stare at the horizon,” I reminded myself. Sailors say this helps to regain a sense of perspective.

The Maker of the horizon (Job 26:10) knows that sometimes in life we may become fearful and restless. We can regain perspective by focusing on the distant but steady point of our destiny.

Our present troubles are temporary. Focus on God and gain perspective.

The writer of Hebrews understood this. He sensed discouragement in his readers. Persecution had driven many of them from their homes. So he reminded them that other people of faith had endured extreme trials and had been left homeless. They endured it all because they anticipated something better.

As exiles, these readers could look forward to the city whose architect is God, the heavenly country, the city God prepared for them (Hebrews 11:10, 14, 16). So in his final exhortations, the writer asked his readers to focus on God’s promises. “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (13:14).

Our present troubles are temporary. We are “foreigners and strangers on earth” (11:13), but gazing at the horizon of God’s promises provides the point of reference we need.

Father, in the midst of troubles, help me to focus on Your promises.

Focus on God and regain perspective.

By Keila Ochoa

INSIGHT

Followers of Jesus wait for the day when we will be with Him—the fulfillment of what we’ve spent our lives pursuing. We rightfully yearn to be “home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The troubles we have in this life make our desire that much sharper and earnest. Today’s passage isn’t about forgetting the world we live in and thinking only of heaven; it’s about seeing our present life from the perspective of the life to come. Paul reminded us that our current troubles are not worth comparing to what is to come (Romans 8:18).

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — he Last Call

 

Read: 2 Samuel 1:17–27 | Bible in a Year: 2 Chronicles 4–6; John 10:24–42

How the mighty have fallen! 2 Samuel 1:27

After serving his country for two decades as a helicopter pilot, James returned home to serve his community as a teacher. But he missed helicopters, so he took a job flying medical evacuations for a local hospital. He flew until late in his life.

Now it was time to say goodbye to him. As friends, family, and uniformed co-workers stood vigil at the cemetery, a colleague called in one last mission over the radio. Soon the distinctive sound of rotors beating the air could be heard. A helicopter circled over the memorial garden, hovered briefly to pay its respects, then headed back to the hospital. Not even the military personnel who were present could hold back the tears.

We honor the Creator when we honor the memory of His servants.

When King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in battle, David wrote an elegy for the ages called “the lament of the bow” (2 Samuel 1:18). “A gazelle lies slain on your heights,” he sang. “How the mighty have fallen!” (v. 19). Jonathan was David’s closest friend and brother-in-arms. And although David and Saul had been enemies, David honored them both. “Weep for Saul,” he wrote. “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother” (vv. 24, 26).

Even the best goodbyes are oh-so-difficult. But for those who trust in the Lord, the memory is much more sweet than bitter, for it is never forever. How good it is when we can honor those who have served others!

Lord, we thank You for those who serve their communities as First Responders. We humbly ask You for their safety.

We honor the Creator when we honor the memory of those who honored Him.

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

Second Samuel 1:19–27 combines personal and communal grief. Jonathan’s death was not just a loss for David personally, but along with Jonathan’s father, King Saul, a loss to the entire nation (vv. 19, 17). Although Saul had tried to kill David, David invited the nation to grieve the loss of their king (v. 24).

How can mourning with a community, instead of alone, bring greater healing during grief?

Monica Brands

 

 

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