Category Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Marvelous Maker

 

Read: Psalm 104:24–34 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 103–104; 1 Corinthians 2

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24

As an amateur photographer, I enjoy capturing glimpses of God’s creativity with my camera. I see His fingerprints on each delicate flower petal, each vibrant sunrise and sunset, and each cloud-painted and star-speckled sky canvas.

My camera’s powerful zoom option allows me to take photos of the Lord’s creatures too. I’ve snapped shots of a chattering squirrel in a cherry blossom tree, a colorful butterfly flitting from bloom to bloom, and sea turtles sunning on a rocky, black beach. Each one-of-a-kind image prompted me to worship my marvelous Maker.

I’m not the first of God’s people to praise Him while admiring His unique creations. The writer of Psalm 104 sings of the Lord’s many works of art in nature (v. 24). He regards “the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number” (v. 25) and rejoices in God for providing constant and complete care for His masterpieces (vv. 27–31). Considering the majesty of the God-given life around him, the psalmist bursts with worshipful gratitude: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (v. 33).

While reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent and immense creation, we can look closely at His intentional creativity and attention to detail. And like the psalmist, we can sing to our Creator with thankful praise for how powerful, majestic, and loving He is and always will be. Hallelujah!

Share your favorite photo of God’s creation at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

God’s works are marvelous, and so is He.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

This remarkable psalm is like an orchestra proclaiming the different sights and sounds of creation. Land and sea; sky and clouds; animal and plant life; light and darkness all point to the ultimate reality of God. It’s easy for the reader to be reminded of the Genesis account of creation that describes the glory of God (Genesis 1–2). Psalm 104 doesn’t read like an objective and dispassionate record of what we see in nature, however. Instead, the psalmist finds in all of creation a marvelous symphony that exalts the Creator. Creation is the signpost pointing to the majesty of God: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20).

Be on the lookout today for something in creation for which you can express praise to God.

Dennis Fisher

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Sky Garden

 

Read: Psalm 102:1–2, 18–28 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 100–102; 1 Corinthians 1

He looked down from His holy height. Psalm 102:19 nasb

While in London, a friend arranged for my wife Marlene and me to visit the Sky Garden. On the top floor of a thirty-five-story building in London’s business district, the Sky Garden is a glass-encased platform filled with plants, trees, and flowers. But the sky part captured our attention. We gazed down from a height of over 500 feet, admiring St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and more. Our views of the capital city were breathtaking—providing a helpful lesson on perspective.

Our God has a perfect perspective of everything we experience. The psalmist wrote, “For He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those who were doomed to death” (Psalm 102:19–20 nasb).

Like the hurting people pictured in Psalm 102, we are often locked into the present with its struggles, “groaning” with despair. But God sees our lives from beginning to end. Our Lord is never caught off guard by the things that can blindside us. As the psalmist anticipated, His perfect perspective will lead to an ultimate rescue that sets free even those “doomed to death” (vv. 20, 27–28).

In difficult moments, remember: We may not know what is coming next, but our Lord does. We can trust Him with every moment that stretches before us.

For more perspective on the trying seasons of life, read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at discoveryseries.org/cb151.

Focusing on Christ puts everything else into perspective.

By Bill Crowder

INSIGHT

Altitude expands our field of view, not just our perspective. From the heights we can see things that are hidden from us when we are on the ground. This can be an analogy for God’s view of our life. God looks down from the heavens and sees us (Psalm 102:19). His view takes in both time and space; He sees the ends of the earth and the beginning and end of our lives.

How does knowing that God sees everything from beginning to end offer comfort?

J.R. Hudberg

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Jesus Reached Out

 

Read: Matthew 14:22–33 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 97–99; Romans 16

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. Matthew 14:31

Sometimes life gets busy—classes are hard, work is exhausting, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and a coffee date is on the day’s schedule. It gets to the point where I force myself to read the Bible for a few minutes a day and tell myself I’ll spend more time with God next week. But it doesn’t take long before I’m distracted, drowning in the day’s tasks, and forget to ask God for help of any kind.

When Peter was walking on water toward Jesus, he quickly became distracted by the wind and waves. Like me, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29–30). But as soon as Peter cried out, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30–31).

I often feel as if I have to make it up to God after being so busy and distracted that I lose sight of Him. But that’s not how God works. As soon as we turn to Him for help, Jesus reaches out without hesitation.

When we’re unsettled by the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” (v. 31). No matter what we’re going through, He is there. He is here. Next to us at that moment, in this moment, ready to reach out and rescue us.

Lord, help me to turn to You in the midst of my busyness and life’s distractions. Thank You for always being here, ready to catch me.

God is waiting for us to turn to Him so He can reach out and help.

By Julie Schwab | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

The fear-filled disciples who saw Jesus walking on the lake cried out, “It’s a ghost!” (Matthew 14:26). But then they worshipfully acknowledged, “Truly you are the Son of God” (v. 33). In between the collective voices of the disciples, we hear the voices of Jesus and Peter. Following the words of Jesus in verse 27, Peter spoke, “Lord, if it’s you . . . tell me to come to you on the water” (v. 28). At first glance it’s easy to interpret Peter’s “if” as implying uncertainty. An alternate rendering of the word if is since. Given Peter’s actions, it seems to me that this translation makes sense. When Jesus is the one directing us, doubt can yield to confidence.

Arthur Jackson

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Heart Hunger

 

Read: John 6:32–40 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 94–96; Romans 15:14–33

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

Riding along with my husband on some errands, I scrolled through emails on my phone and was surprised at an incoming advertisement for a local donut shop, a shop we had just passed on the right side of the street. Suddenly my stomach growled with hunger. I marveled at how technology allows vendors to woo us into their establishments.

As I clicked off my email, I mused over God’s constant yearning to draw me closer. He always knows where I am and longs to influence my choices. I wondered, Does my heart growl in desire for Him the way my stomach did over the idea of a donut?

In John 6, following the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the disciples eagerly ask Jesus to always give them “the bread that . . . gives life to the world” (vv. 33–34). Jesus responds in verse 35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” How amazing that a relationship with Jesus can provide constant nourishment in our everyday lives!

The donut shop’s advertisement targeted my body’s craving, but God’s continuous knowledge of my heart’s condition invites me to recognize my ongoing need for Him and to receive the sustenance only He can provide.

Dear God, remind me of my need for Your daily bread of presence.

Jesus alone offers the only bread that truly satisfies.

By Elisa Morgan

INSIGHT

The heart hunger described in today’s devotional was modeled by Jesus. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus told the Enemy, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then in John 4:34, He told His followers, “My food . . . is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Jesus’s passion for the Father and His purposes is the greatest example we can have of true spiritual heart hunger. While we cannot perfectly reflect that desire, we can learn to long for the Father’s presence and provision—just as Jesus did.

For more on spiritual hunger and spiritual satisfaction, check out the Discover the Word conversations “Satisfied” at https://discovertheword.org/series/satisfied-3.

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Lord Speaks

 

Read: Job 38:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 91–93; Romans 15:1–13

Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Job 40:2

We can find nearly every argument in the book of Job about why there is pain in the world, but the arguing never seems to help Job much. His is a crisis of relationship more than a crisis of doubt. Can he trust God? Job wants one thing above all else: an appearance by the one Person who can explain his miserable fate. He wants to meet God Himself, face to face.

Eventually Job gets his wish. God shows up in person (see Job 38:1). He times His entrance with perfect irony, just as Job’s friend Elihu is expounding on why Job has no right to expect a visit from God.

No one—not Job, nor any of his friends—is prepared for what God has to say. Job has saved up a long list of questions, but it is God, not Job, who asks the questions. “Brace yourself like a man,” He begins; “I will question you, and you shall answer me” (v. 3). Brushing aside thirty-five chapters’ worth of debates on the problem of pain, God plunges into a majestic poem on the wonders of the natural world.

God’s speech defines the vast difference between the God of all creation and one puny man like Job. His presence spectacularly answers Job’s biggest question: Is anybody out there? Job can only respond, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (42:3).

Lord, we have so many questions about life and its unfairness. You have shown Yourself good to us. Help us to trust You for what we cannot understand.

No calamity is beyond God’s sovereignty.

By Philip Yancey

INSIGHT

After all Job had endured, how could the Lord of heaven respond to his honest, agonizing questions with more questions?

Job forgot the case he wanted to argue in the court of heaven (Job 23:1–10). The presence and questions of God suddenly reawakened the trust he’d expressed in those first moments of the worst days of his life (1:21; 2:10).

We, on the other hand, have an advantage that Job lacked. In the prologue of Job’s story, we are taken behind the scenes to see how God viewed Job (1:1–2:10).

What if our lives had such a prologue? Would it help to know that more is going on than we can see and that it’s better than we imagine? Even if we aren’t an exemplary example as Job was, can we take heart in being one of the dearly loved sinners for whom Christ died?

Mart DeHaan

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Riding the Rapids

 

Read: Isaiah 43:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 89–90; Romans 14

When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2

The rafting guide escorted our group to the river’s edge and directed us all to put on life jackets and grab paddles. As we climbed into the boat, he assigned us seats to balance the boat’s weight, providing stability when we encountered rapids. After highlighting the thrills the watery voyage ahead would hold for us, he detailed a series of directions we could expect to hear—and would need to follow—to effectively steer the boat through the white water. He assured us that even though there might be tense moments on the way, our journey would be both exciting and safe.

Sometimes life feels like a white-water rafting trip, one that contains more rapids than we might like. God’s promise to Israel, through the prophet Isaiah, can guide our feelings when we fear the worst is happening: “When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Isaiah 43:2). The Israelites faced an overwhelming fear of rejection by God as they went into exile as a consequence of their sin. Yet instead, He affirms them and promises to be with them because He loves them (vv. 2, 4).

God won’t abandon us in the rough waters. We can trust Him to guide us through the rapids—our deepest fears and most painful troubles—because He also loves us and promises to be with us.

Thank You, Lord, for being my guide through troubled waters. Help me to trust You even when the journey is wild and scary.

Has the Lord guided you through a difficult time? Share your story at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

God steers us through difficult times.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

In today’s passage, God declares, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2). In the New Testament, we see this promise of God’s care displayed in two stories of literal storms. In one, Jesus is sound asleep in a boat when awakened by His disciples who are frightened by a sudden storm. He calms the storm and the disciples’ fears (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). In a similar story, the disciples are alone in a boat when a furious squall begins. Jesus walks out to them on the water (Matthew 14:22-33; John 6:16-21) and assures them, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20). The Lord “commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him” (Luke 8:25).

Alyson Kieda

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Gift of Time

 

Read: Luke 6:37–38 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 87–88; Romans 13

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

I headed into the post office in a big hurry. I had a number of things on my to-do list, but as I entered I was frustrated to find a long line backing up all the way to the door. “Hurry up and wait,” I muttered, glancing at my watch.

My hand was still on the door when an elderly stranger approached me. “I can’t get this copier to work,” he said, pointing to the machine behind us. “It took my money and I don’t know what to do.” Immediately I knew what God wanted me to do. I stepped out of line and was able to fix the problem in ten minutes.

The man thanked me and then left. As I turned to get back in line, it was gone. I walked straight to the service counter.

My experience that day reminds me of Jesus’s words: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

My wait seemed shorter because God interrupted my hurry. By turning my eyes to others’ needs and helping me give of my time, He gave me a gift. It’s a lesson I hope to remember, next time I look at my watch.

Heavenly Father, all of the time I have is in Your hands, a gift from You. Please show me how to use it to bring glory and honor to You.

Sometimes our to-do list needs to wait.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

Time is a precious commodity that we can waste, spend, or invest. Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). In a sense, nothing more clearly requires—or displays—a heart of wisdom than the way we use our time. This may be why Jesus—pressed by the crowds, confronted by the needs around Him, and threatened by the religious establishment—is never described in the Gospels as being in a hurry. Instead, He saw time as having a part in the Father’s purposes. At the wedding feast in Galilee, He said to His mother, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). As He drew ever closer to the cross, however, He saw that time coming to culmination. In John 12:27 He affirmed, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” Living wisely is rooted in understanding that our loving Father has a purpose behind our seconds, minutes, hours, and days.

Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Help from Heaven

 

Read: Joshua 10:6–15 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 84–86; Romans 12

Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! Joshua 10:14

SOS, the Morse code signal, was created in 1905 because sailors needed a way to indicate extreme distress. The signal gained notoriety in 1910 when used by the sinking ship Steamship Kentucky, saving all forty-six people aboard.

While SOS may be a more recent invention, the urgent cry for help is as old as humanity. We hear it often in the Old Testament story of Joshua, who faced opposition from fellow Israelites (Joshua 9:18) and challenging terrain (3:15–17) for more than fourteen years as the Israelites slowly conquered and settled the land God had promised them. During this struggle “the Lord was with Joshua” (6:27).

In Joshua 10, the Israelites go to the aid of the Gibeonites, allies of Israel who were being attacked by five kings. Joshua knew that he needed the Lord’s help to defeat so many powerful enemies (v. 12). God responded with a hailstorm, even stopping the sun in the middle of the sky to give Israel more time to defeat the enemy. Joshua 10:14 recounts, “Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!”

If you are in the midst of a challenging situation, you can send out an SOS to God. Although help will look different than the assistance Joshua received, perhaps help comes through an unexpected job, an understanding doctor, or peace in the midst of grief. Be encouraged that these are ways He is responding to your call for help and fighting for you.

Thank You, Father, for walking with me on this difficult journey and hearing me when I cry out to You.

As we cry out to God for help, we can trust that He will be with us.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

The Gibeonites feared Israel’s God, so they tricked Joshua and the Israelites into becoming their allies (Joshua 9). So when Gibeon called Israel for help (10:6), they were ultimately calling on God.

Do we wait for a crisis to turn to Him?

Tim Gustafson

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — That Smiling Man

 

Read: Colossians 3:18–23 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 81–83; Romans 11:19–36

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23

Going to the grocery store isn’t something I particularly enjoy. It’s just a mundane part of life—something that has to be done.

But there is one part of this task I’ve unexpectedly come to look forward to: checking out in Fred’s lane. Fred, you see, turns checkout into show time. He’s amazingly fast, always has a big smile, and even dances (and sometimes sings!) as he acrobatically flips (unbreakable) purchases into a plastic bag. Fred clearly enjoys a job that could be seen as one of the most tedious around. And for just a moment, his cheerful spirit brightens the lives of people in his checkout lane.

The way Fred does his job has won my respect and admiration. His cheerful attitude, desire to serve, and attention to detail all line up well with the apostle Paul’s description of how we are to work in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

When we’re in relationship with Jesus, any job we have to do gives us an opportunity to reflect His presence in our lives. No task is too small . . . or too big! Tackling our responsibilities—whatever they may be—with joy, creativity, and excellence gives us an opportunity to influence those around us, no matter our job.

Lord, help me to tackle everything on my plate today with grace, enthusiasm, and joy, knowing that my attitude may affect others in ways I’m not even aware of.

The best way to do satisfying work is to do it for the Lord.

By Adam Holz

INSIGHT

In his letters, the apostle Paul will often soar in the atmosphere of heavy theology, and then at other times he brings it down to everyday life with practical instructions. Today’s passage is an example of the latter. The list of instructions given in Colossians 3:18–23 and a similar list in Ephesians 5:22–6:4 are known as household codes. In these passages Paul describes how to relate to each other in our various roles—as a spouse, child, father, slave, or master. Colossians 3:23 caps this code with a well-known verse that many of us use to remind us to work for the Lord at our jobs—whether the boss is difficult or in our corner, whether our coworkers support us or are trying to undermine our efforts. Working for the Lord, however, is not restricted to our places of work. Wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves, and masters are to fulfill their roles as to the Lord.

What might it mean for you to work for the Lord with joy as a spouse, child, or parent?

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Hopeful Lament

 

Read: Lamentations 3:49–58 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 79–80; Romans 11:1–18

I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. Lamentations 3:55

To visit Clifton Heritage National Park in Nassau, Bahamas, is to revisit a tragic era in history. Where the land meets the water, stone steps lead up a cliff. Slaves brought to the Bahamas by ship in the eighteenth century would ascend these steps, often leaving family behind and entering a life of inhumane treatment. At the top, there is a memorial to those slaves. Cedar trees have been carved into the shapes of women looking out to sea toward the homeland and family members they’ve lost. Each sculpture is scarred with marks of the slave captain’s whip.

These sculptures of women mourning what they’ve lost remind me of the importance of recognizing the injustices and broken systems in the world, and lamenting them. Lamenting does not mean that we are without hope; rather, it’s a way of being honest with God. It should be a familiar posture for Christians; about forty percent of the Psalms are psalms of lament, and in the book of Lamentations, God’s people cry out to Him after their city has been destroyed by invaders (3:55).

Lament is a legitimate response to the reality of suffering, and it engages God in the context of pain and trouble. Ultimately, lament is hopeful: when we lament what is not right, we call ourselves and others to be active in seeking change.

And that’s why the sculpture garden in Nassau has been named “Genesis”—the place of lament is recognized as the place of new beginnings.

We can trust God to bring something new out of our seasons of lament.

By Amy Peterson

INSIGHT

The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied for over forty years to a disobedient, disbelieving Judah (627–580 bc). Now in five emotionally charged “funeral laments” he writes as an eyewitness, lamenting the destruction and devastation of Jerusalem, the temple, and the people as they are forcefully exiled to Babylon. He includes the reasons why God would use the Babylonians to discipline His idolatrous people (Lamentations 1:5–8; see 1 Kings 9:6–9; Jeremiah 2:11–13, 18:15–17).

For two years the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem. Jeremiah witnessed the uncensored horrors of war (2 Kings 25:1-4; Jeremiah 52:12–27; Lamentations 2:20; 4:10). But he also wrote of hope in the midst of despair (3:21–33) and of the restoration that would come (5:19–22). Jeremiah reminded the Jewish people that the Lord, who has judged Judah rightly for her sins, is the Lord of hope (3:21, 24–25), compassion (v. 22), faithfulness (v. 23), and salvation (v. 26). Jeremiah calls the people to repent and to trust in the goodness of God (vv. 25–26; 5:21).

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation,” says the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 7:10). How has this been true in your own life?

  1. T. Sim

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Good Daddy

 

Read: Psalm 63 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 77–78; Romans 10

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Psalm 63:6

When our son, Xavier, was younger, business trips often pulled my husband away from home. Though his father called often, there were rough nights when the calls alone didn’t comfort Xavier. To help soothe our son when he felt he needed his dad, I’d pull out our photo albums as he prepared for bedtime. I’d point out the images that showed them spending time together and ask, “Do you remember this?”

Memory after memory encouraged our son, who often said, “I have a good daddy.”

I understood Xavier’s need to be reminded of his father’s love when he couldn’t see him. Whenever I’m going through tough or lonely times, I too long to know I’m loved, especially by my heavenly Father.

David proclaimed his deep yearning for God as he hid from his enemies in the desert (Psalm 63:1). Remembering his personal encounters with God’s limitless power and satisfying love led him to praise (vv. 2–5). Through his most difficult nights, David could still rejoice in his dependable Father’s loving care (vv. 6–8).

During our dark times, when we feel as if God’s not there for us, we need reminders of who God is and how He’s demonstrated His love. Reflecting on our personal experiences with Him, as well as His actions recorded in Scripture, can affirm the countless ways our good Abba Father loves us.

Lord, thanks for demonstrating Your endless love to Your people, in our lives and through the words You preserved in Scripture.

Remembering God’s works, which reveal His character, reassures us of His love.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

Do you ever wonder whether your faith could endure during hard times? Psalm 63 describes a relationship with God that is deep enough to sustain times so difficult that—literally or metaphorically—we experience life as a “dry and parched land where there is no water” (v. 1).

A faith that is long-lasting is one in which experiencing God’s love is so precious it’s “better than life” (v. 3). Such an intimate relationship is sustained through ongoing communication “through the watches of the night” (v. 6)—a time which in the psalms points to vulnerable communication with God (see, for example, 4:4; 16:7; 119:55).

Through cultivating such a relationship with God, when hard times come we will have a rich history to remember and cherish (63:2, 6). In this way we can trust God enough to cling to Him (vv. 7–8), confident that He’ll deliver us once more (vv. 9–11).

Monica Brands

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Dedicated to Love

Read: Romans 9:1–5 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 74–76; Romans 9:16–33

My heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1

As a convert to Jesus Christ, Nabeel Qureshi has written books to help his readers understand the people in the religion he left. His tone is respectful, and Qureshi always displays a heart of love for his people.

Qureshi dedicated one of his books to his sister, who has not yet put her faith in Jesus. The dedication is brief, but powerful. “I am begging God for the day that we can worship him together,” he wrote.

We get a sense of that kind of love as we read Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. “My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief,” he said, “for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them” (Romans 9:2–3 nlt).

Paul loved the Jewish people so much that he would have chosen separation from God if only they would accept Christ. He understood that by rejecting Jesus, his people were rejecting the one true God. This motivated him to appeal to his readers to share the good news of Jesus with everyone (10:14–15).

Today, may we prayerfully dedicate ourselves to the love that aches for those close to us!

Father, we ask You to fill our hearts with Your love for others. We hold ______ up to You and beg for them to see the truth about Your Son Jesus.

We must love those for whom Christ died as well as those in whom Christ lives.

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

Paul’s concern that his Jewish brothers and sisters would come to Christ echoes the heart and plan of the Father for both Jew and Gentile. Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus “was made lower than the angels for a little while, [and is] now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” God’s concern is for all to come to Him through the sacrifice of His Son. This idea resonates with Peter, who declared, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Notice God’s great concern for this broken, rebellious world. Not only has He provided in Jesus a sufficient sacrifice, He also extends patient love to people who do not know Him. Truly, as John 3:16 says, this is evidence of a God who so loved this world that He would pay the greatest possible price to satisfy His desire to reach to us. This is the great good news of the gospel!

Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — When the Bottom Drops Out

 

Read: 1 Kings 17:15–24 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 72–73; Romans 9:1–15

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

During the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, more people were looking for work than there were jobs available. I was one of those job seekers. After nine anxious months, I landed employment as a copywriter. But the company soon fell on bad times and I was jobless again.

Ever been there? It seems like the worst is over when suddenly the bottom drops out on you. The widow at Zarephath could relate (1 Kings 17:12). Due to a famine, she was preparing the last meal for herself and her son when the prophet Elijah requested a bite to eat. She reluctantly agreed and God provided a continuous supply of flour and oil (vv. 10–16).

But then her son fell ill. His health declined until he stopped breathing. The widow cried out, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” (v. 18).

At times, we may want to respond like the widow—wondering if God is punishing us. We forget that bad things can happen in this fallen world.

Elijah took the concern to God, praying earnestly and honestly for the boy, and God raised him up! (vv. 20–22).

When the bottom drops out on us, may we—like Elijah—realize that the faithful One will not desert us! We can rest in God’s purposes as we pray for understanding.

For help on the topic of peace, read discoveryseries.org/q1126.

God is good in both the good times and the bad.  

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

It can be easy to think that life will go well if we do everything we’re supposed to do. But today’s story reminds us that life isn’t a formula. The widow was faithful and obedient, and yet her son died. But we can be encouraged that there’s nothing too hard for God, for He is the one who can even bring the dead back to life (v. 23).

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Commit your situation to our faithful God.

For more about the book of Kings, check out our free online course at christianuniversity.org/OT219.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Joy of Giving

 

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12–24 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 70–71; Romans 8:22–39

Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

It was a dreary week. I had been feeling lethargic and listless, although I couldn’t figure out why.

Near the end of the week, I found out that an aunt had kidney failure. I knew I had to visit her—but to be honest, I felt like postponing the visit. Still, I made my way to her place, where we had dinner, chatted, and prayed together. An hour later, I left her home feeling upbeat for the first time in days. Focusing on someone else rather than myself had somehow improved my mood.

Psychologists have found that the act of giving can produce satisfaction, which comes when the giver sees the recipient’s gratitude. Some experts even believe that humans are wired to be generous!

Perhaps that’s why Paul, when encouraging the church in Thessalonica to build up their faith community, urged them to “help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Earlier, he had also cited Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). While this was said in the context of giving financially, it applies as well to the giving of time and effort.

When we give, we get an insight into how God feels. We understand why He’s so delighted to give us His love, and we share in His joy and the satisfaction of blessing others. I think I’ll be visiting my aunt again soon.

Father, You have made me to give to others just as You have given to me. Teach me to give so that I can truly reflect Your character and be more like You today.

The giver is the greatest recipient.

By Leslie Koh

INSIGHT

Do you ever feel that you’re always on the giving end? Or do you feel you’re always taking and receiving—with nothing to offer others but your own neediness? Take another look at Paul’s words to the Thessalonians. See if you can hear the wisdom of someone who knows there’s a time to give and a time to receive.

If you sense that you’re receiving more than your fair share of help, does Paul give you any idea about what you have to give even while receiving? Can you see that in acknowledging graciously the hard work of those who are caring for you, God can actually use you to encourage them?

If you seem to be giving to the point of exhaustion, see if you can hear any gentle wisdom here for yourself.

Mart DeHaan

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hard Mysteries

 

Read: Nahum 1:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 68–69; Romans 8:1–21

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power. Nahum 1:3

As my friend and I went for a walk, we talked about our love for the Bible. She surprised me when she said, “Oh, but I don’t like the Old Testament much. All of that hard stuff and vengeance—give me Jesus!”

We might resonate with her words when we read a book like Nahum, perhaps recoiling at a statement such as, “The Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath” (Nahum 1:2). And yet the next verse fills us with hope: “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power” (v. 3).

When we dig more deeply into the subject of God’s anger, we understand that when He exercises it, He’s most often defending His people or His name. Because of His overflowing love, He seeks justice for wrongs committed and the redemption of those who have turned from Him. We see this not only in the Old Testament, as He calls His people back to Himself, but also in the New, when He sends His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.

We may not understand the mysteries of the character of God, but we can trust that He not only exercises justice but is also the source of all love. We need not fear Him, for He is “good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (v. 7).

Father God, You are good. You are loving and You are merciful. Help me to understand more fully some of the mysteries of Your redeeming love today.

God’s justice and mercy intersect at the cross.

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

Along with Nahum 1:3, we find eight other instances in the Old Testament where we read that the Lord is “slow to anger” (for example, Psalm 86:15; 103:8). But these passages also describe other attributes of God: He is “abounding [or rich] in love” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 145:8); He is “gracious and compassionate” (Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2); and He is a “forgiving God” (Nehemiah 9:17). If God were not both just and merciful, we would be without hope. Why? Because “everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt” (Psalm 53:3). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). None of us deserve His love, compassion, or forgiveness. Apart from God’s love, through the incredible sacrifice of His Son who paid the price for our sins, we would have no opportunity to receive eternal life. But God loved us so very much He gave His only Son (John 3:16).

How can you express your gratitude to God?

Alyson Kieda

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Radical Love

 

Read: Luke 14:7–14 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 66–67; Romans 7

When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. Luke 14:13

Just one week before her scheduled wedding date, Sarah’s engagement ended. Despite her sadness and disappointment, she decided not to waste the food she had purchased for her wedding reception. She did, however, decide to change the celebration plans. She took down the gift table and revamped the guest list, inviting the residents of local homeless shelters to the feast.

Jesus upheld this sort of no-strings-attached kindness when speaking to the Pharisees, saying, “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed” (Luke 14:13–14). He noted that the blessing would come from God because these guests would not be able to repay the host. Jesus approved of helping people who couldn’t supply charity donations, sparkling conversation, or social connections.

When we consider that Jesus spoke these words as He sat at a meal given by a Pharisee, His message seems provocative and radical. But real love is radical. I’ve heard it said that love is giving to meet the needs of others without expecting anything in return. This is how Jesus has loved each of us. He saw our inner poverty and responded by giving His life for us.

Knowing Christ personally is a journey into His infinite love. All of us are invited to explore “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).

Dear God, help me to explore the depths of Your love. I want to give to others what You have given to me.

How deep is the Father’s love for us!

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

INSIGHT

As Jesus attends a dinner party hosted by a “prominent Pharisee” (Luke 14:1), He turns our human desire for social recognition into an opportunity to teach His kingdom values: Don’t seek out positions of prominence but exalt others instead (vv. 7–11). Then He turns that lesson into one tailored for His host: Don’t give a party simply to enhance your own economic prospects or to build your reputation in the community. Instead, give lavishly to those who have a genuine need and cannot repay you (vv. 12–14). This aligns with the Lord’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets” (Matthew 6:2).

What motivates my giving and my social interactions? Do I serve God’s kingdom values of unconditional love and mercy?

Tim Gustafson

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — I See You

 

Read: Psalm 121 | Bible in a Year: Job 25–27; Acts 12

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:8

When Xavier was two, he darted into one aisle after another in a small shoe store. Hiding behind stacks of shoeboxes, he giggled when my husband, Alan, said, “I see you.”

Moments later, I saw Alan dash frantically from aisle to aisle, calling Xavier’s name. We raced to the front of the store. Our child, still laughing, ran toward the open door leading to the busy street outside.

Within seconds, Alan scooped him up. We embraced as I thanked God, sobbed, and kissed our toddler’s chubby cheeks.

A year before I became pregnant with Xavier, I’d lost our first child during the pregnancy. When God blessed us with our son, I became a fearful parent. Our shoe store experience proved I wouldn’t always be able to see or protect our child. But I discovered peace as I learned to turn to my only sure source of help—God—when I struggled with worry and fear.

Our heavenly Father never takes His eyes off His children (Psalm 121:1–4). While we can’t prevent trials, heartache, or loss, we can live with confident faith, relying on an ever-present Helper and Protector who watches over our lives (vv. 5–8).

We may encounter days when we feel lost and helpless. We may also feel powerless when we can’t shield loved ones. But we can trust that our all-knowing God never loses sight of us—His precious and beloved children.

Thank You for watching over our loved ones and us, Lord.

God always keeps His eye on His children.

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

Psalms 120–134 are known as “Pilgrim Songs”—songs for “pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem” (nlt). God commanded all male Jews to come to the temple to observe the three annual feasts (see Deuteronomy 16:16): Unleavened Bread (Passover), Weeks (Pentecost), and Tabernacles. As pilgrims trod up the hilly paths to Jerusalem, they sang from these psalms.

When we embark on a journey, we often pray for journeying mercies for safety is foremost on our minds. Psalm 121—known as “The Traveler’s Psalm”—is a prayer addressing our safety and security concerns as we journey through life. Even as the psalmist speaks of unknown dangers, he affirms God’s divine protection and preservation. He reminds us that God is our Helper, giving us the security and stability we need (vv. 1–3). And because God is our Keeper—watching our every step (vv. 4–8)—we can pray in confident trust, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8 nlt).

How does being led by God, our Good Shepherd, empower you to “walk through the darkest valley”? (Psalm 23:4).

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Living Out Loud

 

Read: 1 Peter 3:8–16 | Bible in a Year: Job 22–24; Acts 11

In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15

While staying at a hotel in Austin, Texas, I noticed a card lying on the desk in my room. It said:

Welcome
Our prayer is that your stay here will be restful
and that your travels will be fruitful.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make
His face shine upon you.

This card from the company that manages the hotel made me want to know more, so I accessed their website and read about their culture, strength, and values. In a winsome way, they seek to pursue excellence and live out their faith in the workplace.

Their philosophy reminded me of Peter’s words to the followers of Jesus scattered throughout Asia Minor. He encouraged them to demonstrate their faith in Christ in the society where they lived. Even as they faced threats and persecution, Peter told them not to be afraid, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

A friend of mine calls this “living a lifestyle that demands an explanation.” No matter where we live or work, may we in God’s strength live out our faith today—always ready to reply gently and respectfully to everyone who asks the reason for our hope.

May our lives cause others to ask the reason we have hope.

By David C. McCasland | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

When we think of Peter, we often think of young Peter—his rash denials of Christ (John 18:17, 25, 27), his jumping out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:22–31), or his cutting off a servant’s ear in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10). Yet aged Peter—mature Peter—is a much different man who wrote letters to encourage believers in Jesus. The man who called down a curse on himself as he denied Christ (Matthew 26:73–75) now writes that believers should be prepared to give an answer for their hope—something he was once unwilling to do. Such is the difference the Spirit makes in our lives.

How has the Spirit been transforming you and helping you to live out your faith?

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — What Is God Like?

 

Read: Hebrews 1:1–10 | Bible in a Year: Job 20–21; Acts 10:24–48

The Son is . . . the exact representation of [God’s] being. Hebrews 1:3

To celebrate a special occasion, my husband took me to a local art gallery and said I could choose a painting as a gift. I picked out a small picture of a brook flowing through a forest. The streambed took up most of the canvas, and because of this much of the sky was excluded from the picture. However, the stream’s reflection revealed the location of the sun, the treetops, and the hazy atmosphere. The only way to “see” the sky was to look at the surface of the water.

Jesus is like the stream, in a spiritual sense. When we want to see what God is like, we look at Jesus. The writer of Hebrews said He is “the exact representation of [God’s] being” (1:3). Although we can learn facts about God through direct statements in the Bible such as “God is love,” we can deepen our understanding by seeing the way God would act if He faced the same problems we have on Earth. Being God in human flesh, this is what Jesus has shown us.

In temptation, Jesus revealed God’s holiness. Confronting spiritual darkness, He demonstrated God’s authority. Wrestling with people problems, He showed us God’s wisdom. In His death, He illustrated God’s love.

Although we cannot grasp everything about God—He is limitless and we are limited in our thinking—we can be certain of His character when we look at Christ.

Dear God, thank You for making a way for us to know You. Help us to grow closer to You by looking at Jesus.

Looking at Jesus shows us God’s character.

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

INSIGHT

Jesus lived out the mission of revealing the heart and character of His Father to a world that had separated itself from Him. This aspect of Jesus’s incarnation was described in John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (nlt). In revealing the Father to us, we see the invisible God made visible in Jesus.

Bill Crowder

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sinners Like Us

 

Read: Luke 15:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 54–56; Romans 3

This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. Luke 15:2

I have a friend—her name is Edith—who told me about the day she decided to follow Jesus.

Edith cared nothing for religion. But one Sunday morning she walked into a church near her apartment looking for something to satisfy her discontented soul. The text that day was Luke 15:1–2, which the pastor read from the King James Version: “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”

That’s what it said, but this is what Edith heard: “This man receives sinners and Edith with them.” She sat straight up in her pew! Eventually she realized her mistake, but the thought that Jesus welcomed sinners—and that included Edith—stayed with her. That afternoon she decided to “draw near” to Jesus and listen to Him. She began to read the Gospels, and soon she decided to put her faith in Him and follow Him.

The religious folks of Jesus’s day were scandalized by the fact that He ate and drank with sinful, awful people. Their rules prohibited them from associating with such folk. Jesus paid no attention to their made-up rules. He welcomed the down-and-out and gathered them to Him, no matter how far gone they were.

It’s still true, you know: Jesus receives sinners and (your name).

Heavenly Father, we can’t thank You enough for the radical love of Your Son, who drew all of us outcasts and moral failures to Him, and made the way for us to come to You in joy and boldness.

God pursues us in our restlessness, receives us in our sinfulness, holds us in our brokenness.  Scotty Smith

By David H. Roper

INSIGHT

The parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1–7) is the first in a series of parables about lost things. It’s followed by the parable of the lost coin (vv. 8–10) and the parable of the lost son, better known as the prodigal son (vv. 11–32).

Although each of the parables is about something lost, there’s also something in each that isn’t lost—the sheep safe in the pen, the remaining coins, and the elder son at home. Yet the shepherd, the woman, and the father are not content with what they have; their concern is for that which is lost.

Is someone in your life lost and waiting to be found by the Savior? Whom can you trust to God’s loving and searching ways?

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

 

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