Category Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Steadfast Love

 

Read: Psalm 136:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 11–12; Jude

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

“I love you!” my dad called out as I slammed the car door and headed into school. I was in sixth grade, and for months we had played out basically the same scenario every morning. We arrived at school, Dad said, “Have a great day! I love you!” and all I said was “Bye.” I wasn’t angry with him or ignoring him. I was simply so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn’t notice his words. Nevertheless, my dad’s love remained steadfast.

God’s love is like that—and more. It endures forever. The Hebrew word that expresses this steadfast kind of love is hesed. It’s used over and over again in the Old Testament, and twenty-six times in Psalm 136 alone! No modern word can fully capture the meaning; we translate it “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” or “loyalty.” Hesed is a love that is based on covenant commitment; love that is loyal and faithful. Even when God’s people sinned, He was faithful in loving them. Steadfast love is an integral part of the character of God (Exodus 34:6).

When I was a child, I sometimes took my dad’s love for granted. Sometimes now I do the same thing with my heavenly Father’s love. I forget to listen to God and respond. I forget to be grateful. Yet I know that God’s love for me remains steadfast—a reality that provides a sure foundation for all of my life.

God, we praise You for Your steadfast love to us! Even when we’re faithless, You’re faithful.

Take time to show the love of God to someone today.

By Amy Peterson

INSIGHT

Psalm 136 is known in Jewish tradition as the Great Hallel (from hallelujah; a psalm of praise). The writer of this psalm isn’t given, although some commentators suggest it was written by David. This joyful psalm was likely used as a responsive reading or song. The congregation would repeat (or sing) in unison the refrain “His love endures forever” after an individual or a choir of priests and Levites sang each opening sentence. It was likely sung during the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 7:3, 6). Variations of the refrain are also found in 1 Chronicles 16:34 and 2 Chronicles 5:13; 20:21. This psalm not only served as a reminder to the Israelites but also reminds us today to praise God for His never-ending goodness and His wondrous deeds on our behalf.

Alyson Kieda

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Home

 

Read: John 14:1-6 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 8–10; 3 John

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2 nkjv

Recently a friend who sold homes for a living died of cancer. As my wife and I reminisced about Patsy, Sue recalled that many years ago Patsy had led a man to faith in Jesus and he became a good friend of ours.

How encouraging to recall that Patsy not only helped families find homes to live in here in our community, but she also helped others make sure they had an eternal home.

As Jesus prepared to go to the cross for us, He showed a keen interest in our eternal accommodations. He told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you” and reminded them that there would be plenty of room in His Father’s house for all who trusted Him (John 14:2 nkjv).

We love to have a nice home in this life—a special place for our family to eat, sleep, and enjoy each other’s company. But think of how amazing it will be when we step into the next life and discover that God has taken care of our eternal accommodations. Praise God for giving us life “to the full” (John 10:10), including His presence with us now and our presence with Him later in the place He is preparing for us (14:3).

Thinking of what God has in store for those who trust Jesus can challenge us to do as Patsy did and introduce others to Him.

Lord, while we anticipate the home You’re preparing for us, may we tell others they too can enjoy forever the home You’re preparing for all who believe in Jesus.

Who can you talk to today about their need for an eternal home and the assurance that would bring them?

By Dave Branon

INSIGHT

John 14:1–6 is a familiar passage in which Jesus states He is the way, the truth, and the life. He then discusses going away to prepare rooms for His followers. As believers, we look forward to the day when we will be with Christ (v. 3). But these statements would have sounded completely different to the ears of the disciples. For us, these words assure us we will someday meet Jesus face to face. But for the disciples, this will be a reunion.

The focus of this passage is not the rooms in the Father’s house but being with Jesus.Jesus is coming back to take His followers with Him so that they will be where He is (v. 3). Being with Jesus is the encouragement He was offering the disciples, and it’s the same encouragement He offers us.

J.R. Hudberg

 

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Hidden Hand

 

Read: Psalm 139:13–18 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 5–7; 2 John

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

My friend was adopted by a missionary couple from the United States and grew up in Ghana. After his family moved back to the US, he began college but had to drop out. Later, he signed on with the military, which eventually helped him pay for college and took him all over the world. Through it all, God was at work, preparing him for a special role. Today, he writes and edits Christian literature that ministers to an international audience.

His wife also has an interesting story. She failed her chemistry exams during her first year of college due to the strong medication she had to take for epilepsy. After some careful deliberation, she switched from studying science to studying American Sign Language, which had a more manageable workload. Reflecting on that experience, she says, “God was redirecting my life for a greater purpose.” Today, she is making His life-changing Word accessible to the hearing-impaired.

Do you sometimes wonder where God is leading you? Psalm 139:16 acknowledges God’s sovereign hand in our lives: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” We don’t know how God will use the circumstances of our life, but we can rest in the knowledge that God knows everything about us and is directing our footsteps. Though His sovereign hand may seem hidden, He’s never absent.

Dear Lord, help me to trust You even when I don’t understand.

What steps can you take to discern God’s leading or to act on His call for your life?

By Poh Fang Chia

INSIGHT

David wrote Psalm 139 to worship God, but he also gave us a primer in theology proper—the study of the person of God. He does this by focusing on three of God’s character qualities, what theologians call “attributes.” In verse 1, David points out God’s omniscience—that He is all-knowing: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” He then moves to God’s omnipresence—that God is everywhere present at once: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (v. 7). Then the psalmist moves to God’s omnipotence—that there is no limit to His power—which is evidenced in how He forms us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13).

For more on Psalm 139, listen to the Discover the Word programs “Search Me” at discovertheword.org/series/search-me-2/.

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Lonely Christmas

 

Read: Psalm 25:14–22 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 3–4; 1 John 5

My eyes are ever on the Lord. Psalm 25:15

The loneliest Christmas I ever spent was in my grandfather’s cottage near Sakogu, northern Ghana. I was just fifteen, and my parents and siblings were a thousand kilometers away. In previous years, when I’d been with them and my village friends, Christmas was always big and memorable. But this Christmas was quiet and lonely. As I lay on my floor mat early Christmas morning, I remembered a local song: The year has ended; Christmas has come; the Son of God is born; peace and joy to everybody. Mournfully, I sang it over and over.

My grandmother came and asked, “What song is that?” My grandparents didn’t know about Christmas—or about Christ. So I shared what I knew about Christmas with them. Those moments brightened my loneliness.

Alone in the fields with only sheep and occasional predators, the shepherd boy David experienced loneliness. It would not be the only time. Later in his life he wrote, “I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16). But David didn’t allow loneliness to cause him to be despondent. Instead, he sang: “My hope, Lord, is in you” (v. 21).

From time to time we all face loneliness. Wherever Christmas may find you this year, in loneliness or in companionship, you can enjoy the season with Christ.

Lord, thank You that with You I’m not alone even in my times of loneliness. This Christmas, help me to enjoy my fellowship with You and to reach out to others.

With Jesus at Christmas, we’re never alone.

By Lawrence Darmani

INSIGHT

Psalm 25 is a prayer for and celebration of God’s guidance—extended to anyone willing to humbly learn from Him (vv. 5, 8–9, 12). Even the structure of this psalm as an acrostic poem (each line sequentially following the Hebrew alphabet) reinforces this emphasis on learning from God, since the structure was often chosen for its helpfulness in memorization.

The psalm’s theme of worship as a lifestyle of learning from God is also captured by the words “put my trust” in verse 1—more literally, “lift up my soul” (nrsv; “soul” referring to all of oneself, both body and spirit). The image, alluding to the worship posture of uplifted hands, offers a beautiful picture of walking with God: we honestly lift up before Him all of ourselves and our struggles, while continually waiting with open, trusting hands to receive all we need from our loving, gracious God (vv. 15–18, 20–21).

Monica Brands

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Hand Up

 

Read: Ecclesiastes 4:8–12 | Bible in a Year: Daniel 1–2; 1 John 4

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:10

My children have enjoyed the thrill of a backyard ice-skating rink during our cold Idaho winters. When they were young, learning to skate was challenging: persuading them to deliberately set foot on the hard, icy surface proved difficult because they knew the pain of falling. Each time their feet slid out from under them, my husband or I would reach out to pull them again to their feet, setting them upright and steadying their frames.

Having someone there to help us up when we fall is the gift of a helping hand depicted in Ecclesiastes. Working with another makes our work sweeter and more effective (4:9), and a friend brings warmth to our lives. When we encounter challenges, it helps to have someone come alongside with practical and emotional support. These relationships can give us strength, purpose, and comfort.

When we find ourselves flattened on the cold ice of life’s hardships, is there a helping hand nearby? If so, it might be from God. Or when someone else needs a friend, could we be God’s answer to lift them up? In being a companion, we often find one. If it appears that no one is nearby to lift us to our feet again, we can find comfort in knowing that God is our ever-present help (Psalm 46:1). As we reach out to Him, He’s ready to steady us with His firm grip.

Thank You, Father, for helping me up when life knocks me down. Thank You for the people You’ve used to encourage and strengthen me. Yours is the most faithful friendship I have.

How can you open yourself more fully to God’s presence in your life?

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

The author of Ecclesiastes (“the Teacher,” 1:1–2) is in the midst of a long lament about the meaninglessness of living for this world only. This particular section concerns a lonely rich man the Teacher has observed. Perhaps he has trampled all others on his way to the top. (Think of Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge.) Regardless of how the man got there, the author recognizes the futility of such efforts and concludes, “Two are better than one” (4:9).

Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Teacher’s larger point is that living with an earthbound view is cruelly dissatisfying. We toil and strive, yet we remain haunted by a vague sense that we’re missing something. As with all Scripture, Ecclesiastes must be understood within the context of the entire Bible. The early church fathers Jerome (ad347–420) and Ambrose (ad 340–397) were among the first to note that the companion we’re missing is Christ Himself.

Tim Gustafson

 

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Our Daily Bread — Questions at Christmas

 

Read: Matthew 16:13–21 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 47–48; 1 John 3

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15

Well before the calendar flips to December, Christmas cheer begins to bubble up in our northern town. A medical office drapes its trees and shrubs in close-fitting strings of lights, each a different color, illuminating a breathtaking nighttime landscape. Another business decorates its building to look like an enormous, extravagantly wrapped Christmas present. It’s difficult to turn anywhere without seeing evidence of Christmas spirit—or at least seasonal marketing.

Some people love these lavish displays. Others take a more cynical view. But the crucial question isn’t how others observe Christmas. Rather, we each need to consider what the celebration means to us.

A little more than thirty years after His birth, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). They gave responses others had given: John the Baptist, Elijah, maybe another prophet. Then Jesus made it personal: “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15). Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).

Many will celebrate Christmas without a thought about who the Baby really is. As we interact with them, we can help them consider these crucial questions: Is Christmas just a heartwarming story about a baby born in a stable? Or did our Creator visit His creation and become one of us?

Father in heaven, may our Christmas celebrations this year, whether lavish or small, honor the Messiah who came to redeem His creation.

For more on the life of Christ, see christianuniversity.org/NT111.

Who do you say Jesus is? 

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

Who was Matthew, the writer of the gospel by the same name? Matthew (also known as Levi) was one of Jesus’s twelve disciples. Prior to Jesus’s call, Matthew served as a despised tax collector (9:9). Tax collectors were particularly loathed because they exacted taxes from their own people, the Jews, to pay the Romans (the oppressive rulers of Israel). And they often collected far more than required. Matthew wrote his gospel primarily to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Messiah (Savior), the eternal King. We see Matthew’s emphasis clearly in today’s passage. When Jesus asked His disciples about His identity, Peter declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:15–16). Alyson Kieda

Alyson Kieda

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Thanks for Being You!

 

Read: Psalm 100 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 45–46; 1 John 2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Psalm 100:4

When I served as my mom’s live-in caregiver at a cancer center, I got to know Lori, another caregiver who lived down the hallway from us with her husband, Frank. I would chat, laugh, vent, cry, and pray with Lori in the shared living areas. We enjoyed supporting each other as we cared for our loved ones.

One day, I missed the free shuttle that took residents to buy groceries. Lori offered to drive me to the store later that evening. With grateful tears, I accepted her offer. “Thanks for being you,” I said. I truly appreciated her for who she was as a person, not just for what she did for me as a friend.

Psalm 100 demonstrates an appreciation of God for who He is, not simply for all He does. The psalmist invites “all the earth” (v. 1) to “worship the Lord with gladness” (v. 2), being confident in knowing “the Lord is God” (v. 3). Our Maker invites us into His presence to “give thanks to him and praise his name” (v. 4). Yes, the Lord remains worthy of our ongoing thankfulness because He “is good,” His “love endures forever,” and His “faithfulness continues through all generations” (v. 5).

God will always be the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and our intimately loving Father. He deserves our genuine joy-filled gratitude.

Lord, thanks for being You!

Who can you share God’s love with today?

By Xochitl Dixon

INSIGHT

Psalm 100 echoes the words of Psalm 95. Both begin with an appeal to shout for joy and together call for a resounding celebration in song to the God of gods, Yahweh. This personal name of Israel’s God is translated in English versions as Lord.

But beyond their similarities, the two songs tell a different story. While Psalm 95 attempts to rouse a nation that has lost its joy (vv. 7–11), Psalm 100 invites the whole earth to erupt in shouts of praise and songs of mirth. At least fourteen times the songwriter of Psalm 100 points to this God of gods by name or pronoun. With every line the psalmist invites people of all nations to enter into the presence of One who is infinitely more to be praised than was seen in the lagging joy of His dearly loved and chosen people.

Mart DeHaan

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Safe Place

 

Read: Psalm 17:1–9 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 42–44; 1 John 1

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 17:6

My brothers and I grew up on a wooded hillside in West Virginia that provided a fertile landscape for our imaginations. Whether swinging from vines like Tarzan or building tree houses like the Swiss Family Robinson, we played out the scenarios we found in the stories we read and movies we watched. One of our favorites was building forts and then pretending we were safe from attack. Years later, my kids built forts out of blankets, sheets, and pillows—constructing their own “safe place” against imaginary enemies. It seems almost instinctive to want a hiding place where you can feel safe and secure.

When David, the singer-poet of Israel, sought a safe place, he looked no further than God. Psalm 17:8 asserts, “[God,] keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” When you consider the Old Testament record of David’s life and the almost constant threats he faced, these words reveal an amazing level of confidence in God (v. 6). In spite of those threats, he was convinced his true safety was found in Him.

We can know that same confidence. The God who promises to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) is the One we trust with our lives every day. Although we live in a dangerous world, our God gives us peace and assurance—both now and forever. He is our safe place.

Father, the world around me can feel threatening, overwhelming, and dangerous. But You give me peace, strength, and help.

Give God thanks for being your hiding place today.

By Bill Crowder

INSIGHT

In the Psalms, we find people speaking to God about the concerns of their heart and the practical issues of everyday life. As such, there are various categories of psalms. One category is imprecatory psalms (Psalms 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140). Imprecatory literally means “to pray evil against” or “to invoke a curse upon.” In these psalms, the author typically asks for vindication against an enemy for unjust treatment. These prayers can range in aggression from a request for justice and vindication to petition for the death and destruction of one’s enemies (see Psalm 17:2 and Psalms 35 and 137 for increasingly aggressive requests for God’s action). While some imprecatory psalms may make us uncomfortable, we must remember that these are human requests for God to act—requests made from the pit of despair, frustration, and hopelessness.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — God Hears

 

Read: Romans 12:9–21 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 40–41; 2 Peter 3

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Diane listened as the others in the group asked for prayers for their family members and friends facing challenges or illness. She had a family member who had been struggling with an addiction for years. But Diane kept her request silent. She couldn’t bear to see the looks on people’s faces or hear the questions or advice that often followed whenever she spoke the words aloud. She felt that this request was usually better left unspoken. Others simply didn’t understand how her loved one could be a believer in Jesus and still struggle daily.

Although Diane didn’t share her request with that group, she did have a few trusted friends she asked to pray with her. Together they asked God to set her loved one free from the very real bondage of addiction that he might experience freedom in Christ—and that God would give Diane the peace and patience she needed. As she prayed, she found comfort and strength from her relationship with Him.

Many of us have earnest, persistent prayers that seem to go unanswered. But we can be assured that God does care and He does hear all our requests. He urges us to continue to walk closely with Him, being “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). We can lean on Him.

Lord, Your Word urges us to pray continually. Help us to be persistent in prayer, and enable us to be faithful partners in prayer with others.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings. Hebrews 10:22

By Alyson Kieda

INSIGHT

In Romans 12, Paul builds on his theological teaching from chapters 1–11 and now begins to provide practical application for a gospel-based life. Salvation produces internal results with external impact. In response to our salvation, we are to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” (12:1–2). The internal results are a proper sense of self-awareness (v. 3) and spiritual enablement (vv. 4–8) producing the external impact of service in Christ’s kingdom (vv. 9–13, 15–16) and to the world in which we live (vv. 14, 17–21). Paul’s clear message to the followers of Christ in Rome is that what we believe should have a profound influence on how we live.

For more on Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, check out Knowing God Through Romans at discoveryseries.org/sb221.

Bill Crowder

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Honoring God with Thanks

 

Read: Psalm 50:8–15 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 37–39; 2 Peter 2

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15

The doctor wasn’t frowning, despite talking to my husband about his recent cancer diagnosis. Smiling, she offered a suggestion: start each day by giving thanks. “For at least three things,” the doctor said.  Dan agreed, knowing that gratitude opens our hearts to find encouragement in God’s goodness. Thus, Dan starts each day with words of praise. Thank You, God, for a good night’s sleep. For my clean bed. For sunshine. For breakfast on the table. For a smile on my lips.

Each word is heartfelt. But could it sound trivial? Does our praise in life’s small details matter to Almighty God? In Psalm 50, David’s chief musician, Asaph, offers a clear answer. God has “no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens” (v. 9). Instead of these once-formal Israelite sacrifices of gratitude, God wants His people to give Him our hearts and lives in gratitude (vv. 14, 23).

As my husband experienced, whole-hearted gratitude helps our spirits flourish. Then when we call on the Lord “in the day of trouble,” He will “deliver” us (v. 15).  Does this mean Dan will be healed, spiritually and physically, during his two-year treatment? Or not until after this lifetime? We don’t know. But for now, Dan delights in showing God he’s grateful for His love, and for who God is: Redeemer. Healer. Friend. And friends delight to hear these beautiful words: Thank You.

What verses bring you comfort in trials? Share at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

My gratitude to God is great to Him.

By Patricia Raybon

INSIGHT

The legal language and setting in Psalm 50 are hard to miss. A universal summons is issued by God (v. 1) and the purpose of the gathering is clear—the judgment of His people (v. 4). In a manner reminiscent of the giving of the Law (Exodus 19:16–19), the Lord makes His grand entry (Psalm 50:2–3) as the righteous and just judge (v. 6). However, “judge” is not His only role; He is also witness (v. 7) and plaintiff (v. 8). Two groups of defendants enter the Lord’s courtroom and the Judge has indictments that match the transgressions of each group. The Lord’s charges against the first group (vv. 7–15) concerned their worship. Though a formal worship system was in place, the kind of worship the Lord desired was missing. Spiritual worship that included “thanksgiving” mattered to the Lord more than the flesh and blood of animals. The charges against the second group (vv. 16–23) concerned their hypocrisy. Though they were able to recite words that came from God, their actions demonstrated their hearts were far from Him (vv. 17–21). As with the first group, the Lord’s corrective included the reminder that “thank offerings” really matter to Him (v. 23).

Arthur Jackson

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Lord of the Moment

 

Read: 2 Kings 8:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 35–36; 2 Peter 1

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Not long ago I was working on a construction project at my son’s home three hours away. The job took days longer than expected, and each morning I prayed we would finish by sunset. But every evening there was more to be done.

I wondered why. Could there be a reason for the delay? An answer came the next morning. I was picking up a tool when my phone rang and a stranger’s voice spoke urgently: “Your daughter was injured in an accident. You need to come immediately.”

She lived near my son, so it took just fourteen minutes to reach her. If I had been home, I would have been three hours away. I followed the ambulance to the hospital and comforted her before surgery. As I sat holding her hand I realized if my project hadn’t been delayed, I wouldn’t have been there.

Our moments belong to God. This was the experience of a woman whose son God had resurrected through the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:18–37). She left the country because of famine and returned years later to beg the king for her land. At precisely that moment the king was conversing with the prophet’s servant Gehazi. “Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored” her son, the woman walked in (8:5). Her request was granted.

We don’t know what even the next second brings, but God is graciously able to use any situation for good. May God give us grace to walk with Him expectantly into His appointments for us today.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of my life. Help me to be Your faithful servant.

Our lives are better off in God’s hands than in our own.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

Today’s text demonstrates God’s sovereignty in directing human affairs. Another example of God’s divine direction is seen in the account of Joseph (Genesis 37–41). At the end of his story, Joseph comforted his brothers who had grievously harmed him (45:5) and said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good” (50:20 nlt).

The apostle Paul says, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

How do these examples help you trust God as the Lord of your moments?

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Solid Foundation

 

Read: Matthew 7:24–27 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 33–34; 1 Peter 5

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

Last summer my husband and I toured Fallingwater, a house in rural Pennsylvania designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Wright wanted to create a home that rose organically out of the landscape, as if it could have grown there—and he accomplished his goal. He built the house around an existing waterfall, and its style mirrors the neighboring rock ledges. Our tour guide explained what made the construction safe: “The whole vertical core of the house,” she said, “rests on boulders.”

Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’s words to His disciples. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told them that what He was teaching would be the sure foundation for their lives. If they heard His words and put them into practice, they would be able to withstand any storms. Those who heard but didn’t obey, in contrast, would be like a house built on sand (Matthew 7:24–27). Later, Paul echoed this thought, writing that Christ is the foundation, and we must build upon it with work that will endure (1 Corinthians 3:11).

When we listen to the words of Jesus and obey them, we’re building our lives on a steady, rock-solid foundation. Maybe our lives can look a little like Fallingwater, beautiful and built to last on the Rock.

God, help us to hear and obey the words of Jesus!

What are you building your life around?

By Amy Peterson

INSIGHT

In Matthew 7:24–27, Jesus says following His teachings is wise and prudent, for they are the foundation on which a full and healthy life is built. He makes this statement after giving the Sermon on the Mount, which contains what has been considered by some the most difficult and stringent guidelines for life. But we aren’t left to live this life on our own; we are dependent on the Spirit. These requirements extend beyond actions and into the thoughts and attitudes. A person who honors God with his or her whole life will remain steady in the storms of life (vv. 24–25).

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — God Is Here

 

Read: Hosea 6:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 27–29; 1 Peter 3

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. Hosea 6:3

A plaque in our home states “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” A modern version might read, “Acknowledged or unacknowledged, God is here.”

Hosea, an Old Testament prophet who lived in the late eighth century bc (755–715), wrote similar words to the Hebrew nation. He encouraged the Israelites to “press on” (Hosea 6:3) to acknowledge God because they had forgotten Him (4:1). As the people forgot God’s presence, they began to turn away from Him (v. 12) and before long there was no room for God in their thoughts (see Psalm 10:4).

Hosea’s simple but profound insight to acknowledge God reminds us He’s near and at work in our lives, in both the joys and struggles.

To acknowledge God might mean that when we get a promotion at work, we recognize God gave us insight to finish our work on time and within budget. If our housing application is rejected, acknowledging God helps to sustain us as we trust Him to work in the situation for our good.

If we don’t make it into the college of our choice, we can acknowledge God is with us and take comfort in His presence even in our disappointment. As we enjoy dinner, to acknowledge God may be to remind ourselves of God’s provision of the ingredients and a kitchen to prepare the meal.

When we acknowledge God, we remember His presence in both the successes and sorrows, whether big or small, of our lives.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for the times I am prone to forget You. Help me to acknowledge Your presence in my life.

God is always present and at work.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

James Limburg comments on today’s passage in his book Interpretation: Hosea—Micah: “The contrast which comes to expression in Hosea 6:6 is between two fundamentally different notions of religion. The one thinks in terms of discharging religious obligations through . . . sacrifice and offering; the other speaks of loyal love and of acknowledging God as God. . . . When religion becomes preoccupied with the niceties of liturgy, the nuances of language, the novelties of music, art, and architecture, but forgets the neighbor, then religion has been reduced to cultic correctness . . . . True religion has that rich word hesed [steadfast love] at its center, recalling God’s steadfast love (Ps. 136) and mercy (Titus 3:5–7) and then calling for lives which respond to that love with loyal devotion to God and loving service to the neighbor.”

Are there areas of your life where the line between religion and relationship has become blurry?

For more on true devotion to God, read Following Jesus: Relationship or Religion? at discoveryseries.org/q0215.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — God Is Here

 

Read: Hosea 6:1–6 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 27–29; 1 Peter 3

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. Hosea 6:3

A plaque in our home states “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” A modern version might read, “Acknowledged or unacknowledged, God is here.”

Hosea, an Old Testament prophet who lived in the late eighth century bc (755–715), wrote similar words to the Hebrew nation. He encouraged the Israelites to “press on” (Hosea 6:3) to acknowledge God because they had forgotten Him (4:1). As the people forgot God’s presence, they began to turn away from Him (v. 12) and before long there was no room for God in their thoughts (see Psalm 10:4).

Hosea’s simple but profound insight to acknowledge God reminds us He’s near and at work in our lives, in both the joys and struggles.

To acknowledge God might mean that when we get a promotion at work, we recognize God gave us insight to finish our work on time and within budget. If our housing application is rejected, acknowledging God helps to sustain us as we trust Him to work in the situation for our good.

If we don’t make it into the college of our choice, we can acknowledge God is with us and take comfort in His presence even in our disappointment. As we enjoy dinner, to acknowledge God may be to remind ourselves of God’s provision of the ingredients and a kitchen to prepare the meal.

When we acknowledge God, we remember His presence in both the successes and sorrows, whether big or small, of our lives.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for the times I am prone to forget You. Help me to acknowledge Your presence in my life.

God is always present and at work.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

James Limburg comments on today’s passage in his book Interpretation: Hosea—Micah: “The contrast which comes to expression in Hosea 6:6 is between two fundamentally different notions of religion. The one thinks in terms of discharging religious obligations through . . . sacrifice and offering; the other speaks of loyal love and of acknowledging God as God. . . . When religion becomes preoccupied with the niceties of liturgy, the nuances of language, the novelties of music, art, and architecture, but forgets the neighbor, then religion has been reduced to cultic correctness . . . . True religion has that rich word hesed [steadfast love] at its center, recalling God’s steadfast love (Ps. 136) and mercy (Titus 3:5–7) and then calling for lives which respond to that love with loyal devotion to God and loving service to the neighbor.”

Are there areas of your life where the line between religion and relationship has become blurry?

For more on true devotion to God, read Following Jesus: Relationship or Religion? at discoveryseries.org/q0215.

J.R. Hudberg

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Quiet Witness

 

Read: 1 Peter 2:11–21 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 24–26; 1 Peter 2

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. 1 Peter 2:12 nlt

Amy lives in a closed country where it’s forbidden to preach the gospel. She’s a trained nurse who works in a big hospital, caring for newborn babies. She’s such a committed professional that her work stands out, and many women are curious about her. They are moved to ask her questions in private. It’s then that Amy shares about her Savior openly.

Because of her good work, some co-workers were envious and accused her of stealing some medicine. Her superiors didn’t believe them, and authorities eventually found the culprit. This episode led some of her fellow nurses to ask about her faith. Her example reminds me of what Peter says: “Dear friends . . . . Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God” (1 Peter 2:11–12 nlt).

Our everyday lives at home, in our work environment, or at school make an impact on others when we let God work in us. We’re surrounded by people who are watching the way we speak and behave. Let’s depend on God and have Him rule our actions and thoughts. Then we’ll influence those who don’t believe and this may lead some of them to turn in faith to Jesus.

Father, help me to live in such a way that Your name will be honored wherever I go.

Our lives speak louder than our words.

By Keila Ochoa

INSIGHT

Being misunderstood or falsely accused is inevitable in a broken world. But in those vulnerable moments, Peter argues, it’s especially crucial for believers to strive to follow Christs example of responding to suffering with love rather than lashing out (1 Peter 2:12, 21). “Submitting” to those with power (v. 13) doesn’t mean blind obedience, but rather letting go of our natural desire to control or overpower others. And as we fearlessly display Christ’s love and the ways of our Lord’s kingdom (vv. 13, 16), God may even use us to guide others to His love.

Monica Brands

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Constant Helper

 

Read: John 14:15–26 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 22–23; 1 Peter 1

[The Holy Spirit] will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

After a spinal injury left Marty paralyzed, he decided to go back to school to earn his MBA. Marty’s mother, Judy, helped make his goal a reality. She sat with him through every lecture and study group, jotting notes and handling technology issues. She even assisted him onto the platform when he received his diploma. What might have been unattainable became possible with the consistent, practical help Marty received.

Jesus knew His followers would need a similar kind of support after He left the earth. When He told them about His upcoming absence, He said they would gain a new kind of connection with God through the Holy Spirit. This Spirit would be a moment-by-moment helper—a teacher and guide who would not only live withthem but also be in them (John 14:17, 26).

The Spirit would provide Jesus’s disciples with internal help from God, which would enable them to endure what they couldn’t handle on their own as they fanned out to share the good news. In moments of struggle, the Spirit would remind them of everything Jesus said to them (v. 26): Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . Love one another . . . I am the resurrection and the life.

Are you facing something that exceeds your own strength and ability? You can depend on the Spirit’s constant help. God’s Spirit working in you will bring Him the glory He deserves.

Dear God, thank You for the ongoing support available through the Holy Spirit. Help me to rely on Your Spirit when I need help.

When it is a question of God’s almighty Spirit, never say, “I can’t.” —Oswald Chambers

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

INSIGHT

In John, Jesus teaches extensively about the Holy Spirit: The advocate or comforter will help us and never leave us (John 14:16). The world cannot accept this “Spirit of truth,” yet He lives with and inside believers (v. 17). He teaches us and reminds us of Jesus’s words (v. 26; 15:26); convinces us of sin and reveals God’s “righteousness,” or moral rightness (16:8); and guides us into “all the truth” about Christ and brings Him glory (vv. 13–14).

Alyson Kieda

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — What We Have

 

Read: 2 Corinthians 8:1–12 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 18–19; James 4

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. 2 Corinthians 8:12

My friend was eager to gather her family and friends for a festive holiday celebration at her home. Each of the guests looked forward to gathering around the table together and wanted to help defray the expense of feeding so many by contributing to the meal. Some would bring bread, others salad or a side dish. For one guest, however, money was exceptionally tight. Although she looked forward to spending the evening with those whom she loved, she couldn’t afford to purchase any food. So, instead, she offered to clean the host’s home as her gift.

She would have been welcome at the table had she come empty-handed. Yet she looked at what she did have to offer—her time and skills—and brought them to the gathering with her whole heart. I think that’s precisely the spirit of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 8. They had been eager to give to help some fellow Christians, and he urged them to follow through on that effort. He commended them for their desire and their willingness, saying their motivation to give is what makes a gift of any size or amount acceptable (v. 12).

We’re often quick to compare our giving to that of others, especially when our resources don’t afford us the luxury of giving as much as we’d like to. But God views our giving differently: it’s our willingness to give what we have that He loves.

Lord, help me see what You’ve given me, even if it doesn’t seem like much by the world’s standards. Help me to give generously.

God loves wholehearted giving of any measure.

By Kirsten Holmberg

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Hidden Ministry

 

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:8–11 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 16–17; James 3

On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. 2 Corinthians 1:10–11

A big academic project was weighing on me, and I was fretting over whether I could complete it by the deadline. In the midst of my anxious thoughts, I received three notes of encouragement from friends who were cheering me on. Each one said, “God brought you to mind today when I was praying.” I felt humbled and encouraged that these friends would contact me without knowing what I was going through, and I believed God had used them as His messengers of love.

The apostle Paul knew the power of prayer when he wrote to the people in the church of Corinth. He said he trusted that God would continue to deliver them from peril “as you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10–11). And when God answered their prayers, He would be glorified as the people gave Him thanks for the “answer to the prayers of many” (v. 11).

My friends and Paul’s supporters were engaging in the ministry of intercession, which Oswald Chambers calls “a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit through which the Father is glorified.” As we focus our minds and hearts on Jesus, we find Him shaping us, including how we pray. He enables us to give the gift of true intercession to friends, family members, and even strangers.

Has God put someone on your heart and mind for whom you can pray?

Read more from Oswald Chambers at utmost.org.

God hears the prayers of His people.

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

Paul endured far more than his share of trials. As he begins this deeply personal letter (see 2 Corinthians 1:3–7), he comforts the church in Corinth by using his own difficulties to identify with them. Then, with piercing candor, he reveals the depths of those trials—“far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (v. 8). Why would God permit His faithful servants to go through so much? Paul points to the reason: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (v. 9, emphasis added).

When facing despair, we can do far more than merely endure. We can use our travails to identify with and understand our brothers and sisters who suffer and to pray for them. And we can acknowledge the absolute necessity of God, who raises the dead.

Tim Gustafson

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — On the Wrong Side?

 

Read: Philippians 1:12–18 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 14–15; James 2

What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. Philippians 1:12

When the bridge to Techiman, Ghana, washed out, residents of New Krobo on the other side of the Tano River were stranded. Attendance at Pastor Samuel Appiah’s church in Techiman suffered too because many of the members lived in New Krobo—on the “wrong” side of the river.

Amid the crisis, Pastor Sam was trying to expand the church’s children’s home to care for more orphans. So he prayed. Then his church sponsored outdoor meetings across the river in New Krobo. Soon they were baptizing new believers in Jesus. A new church took root. Not only that, New Krobo had space to care for the orphans awaiting housing. God was weaving His restorative work into the crisis.

When the apostle Paul found himself on the “wrong” side of freedom, he didn’t lament his situation. In a powerful letter to the church in Philippi, he wrote, “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). Paul noted how his chains had led to “the whole palace guard” learning about Christ (v. 13). And others had gained confidence to share the good news of Jesus (v. 14).

Despite obstacles, Pastor Sam and the apostle Paul found God showing them new ways to work in their crises. What might God be doing in our challenging circumstances today?

Lord, sometimes we feel as though we’re on the wrong side of a particular situation. We know You are everywhere. Help us see You.

God is at work in the mess. That’s the message of the Bible. Matt Chandler

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

Scholars believe Paul was reminiscing about his ministry in Rome when he wrote Philippians 1:12–14. According to Acts 28:16–31, Paul was under house arrest but “was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier” (v. 16 nlt). In those two years, Paul had the rare opportunity to proclaim “the kingdom of God” and to teach “about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (vv. 30–31). In particular, he proclaimed God’s truth to the palace guards, Caesar’s elite troops (Philippians 1:13). Paul hinted of an unspecified number in “Caesar’s household”—court officials and dignitaries—who had come to faith (4:22). Writing from Rome, Paul’s primary concern was not his freedom, but being faithful to preach Christ (1:18–19), to be fruitful (v. 22), and to glorify Christ, whether he lived or died (v. 20). In a later Roman imprisonment (2 Timothy 1:17), Paul wrote that though he was “chained like a criminal . . . . God’s word [was] not chained” (2:9).

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hard Conversations

 

Read: 1 Samuel 25:21–35 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 11–13; James 1

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

I once drove fifty miles to have a hard conversation with a remote staff person. I had received a report from another employee that suggested he was misrepresenting our company, and I was concerned for our reputation. I felt nudged to offer an opinion that might change his choices.

In 1 Samuel 25, an unlikely person took great personal risk to confront a future king of Israel who was about to make a disastrous choice. Abigail was married to Nabal, whose character matched the meaning of his name (“fool”) (vv. 3, 25). Nabal had refused to pay David and his troops the customary wage for protecting his livestock (vv. 10–11). Hearing that David planned a murderous revenge on her household, and knowing her foolish husband wouldn’t listen to reason, Abigail prepared a peace offering, rode to meet David, and persuaded him to reconsider (vv. 18–31).

How did Abigail accomplish this? After sending ahead donkeys loaded with food to satisfy David and his men and settle the debt, she spoke truth to David. She wisely reminded David of God’s call on his life. If he resisted his desire for revenge, when God made him king, he wouldn’t “have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” (v. 31).

You might also know someone dangerously close to a mistake that could harm others and compromise their own future effectiveness for God. Like Abigail, might God be calling you to a hard conversation?

Dear God, please help me know when to lovingly confront others.

 

Sometimes following God means difficult conversations.

By Elisa Morgan

 

http://www.odb.org