Category Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Servant’s Heart

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 113–115; 1 Corinthians 6

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

Mark 9:35

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 9:33–37

Cook. Event Planner. Nutritionist. Nurse. These are just some of the responsibilities regularly performed by modern moms. In 2016, research estimated that moms likely worked between fifty-nine and ninety-six hours per week doing child-related tasks.

No wonder moms are always exhausted! Being a mom means giving a lot of time and energy to care for children, who need so much help as they learn to navigate the world.

When my days feel long and I need a reminder that caring for others is a worthy pursuit, I find great hope when I see Jesus affirming those who serve.

In the gospel of Mark, the disciples were having an argument about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus quietly sat down and reminded them that “anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (9:35). Then He took a child in His arms to illustrate the importance of serving others, especially the most helpless among us (vv. 36–37).

Christ’s response resets the bar for what greatness looks like in His kingdom. His standard is a heart willing to care for others. And Jesus has promised that God’s empowering presence will be with those who choose to serve (v. 37).

As you have opportunities to serve in your family or community, be encouraged that Jesus greatly values the time and effort you give in service to others.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

How might you serve someone today? How could you take time to say “thank you” to someone who has graciously loved and served you?

Jesus, thank You for reminding us of Your loving care for children and any who are vulnerable. Help us to follow Your example of service.

 

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Our Daily Bread — More Than Hacks

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 110–112; 1 Corinthians 5

He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name.

Psalm 111:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 111

I recently found a “hack” (a clever solution to a tricky problem) when one of my grandchildren warmed her toy rabbit on our fireplace glass. The resulting globs of fake bunny fur weren’t pretty, but a fireplace expert provided a great hack—a tip for how to make the glass look like new. It worked, and now we no longer allow stuffed animals near the fireplace!

I bring up hacks because sometimes we can view Scripture as a collection of hacks—tips to make life easier. While it’s true that the Bible has much to say about how to live a Christ-honoring new life, that’s not the only purpose of the Book. What Scripture provides for us is a solution for mankind’s greatest need: rescue from sin and eternal separation from God.

From the promise of salvation in Genesis 3:15 all the way to the true hope of a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1–2), the Bible explains that God has an eternal plan for rescuing us from our sin and allowing us to enjoy fellowship with Him. In every story and every suggestion for how to live, the Bible is pointing us to Jesus—the only One who can solve our biggest problem.

When we open God’s Book, may we remember that we’re looking for Jesus, the rescue He offers, and how to live as His children. He’s provided the greatest solution of all!

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

How has Jesus and His promise to rescue those who believe in Him touched your heart and life? Why is it vital to see that the Bible consistently points to Christ?

Father, thank You for the salvation You provided through Jesus. Help me to honor You by keeping focused on our Savior and His amazing love for me.

To learn more about who Jesus is, visit christianuniversity.org/NT111.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Life Changes

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 107–109; 1 Corinthians 4

Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 4:20–24

Stephen grew up in a rough part of East London and fell into crime by the age of ten. He said, “If everyone’s selling drugs and doing robberies and fraud, then you’re going to get involved. It’s just a way of life.” But when he was twenty, he had a dream that changed him: “I heard God saying, Stephen, you’re going to prison for murder.” This vivid dream served as a warning, and he turned to God and received Jesus as his Savior—and the Holy Spirit transformed his life.

Stephen set up an organization that teaches inner-city kids discipline, morality, and respect through sports. He credits God with the success he has seen as he prays with and trains the kids. “Rebuilding misguided dreams,” he says.

In pursuing God and leaving behind our past, we—like Stephen—follow Paul’s charge to the Ephesians to embrace a new way of life. Although our old self is “corrupted by its deceitful desires,” we can daily seek to “put on the new self” that’s created to be like God (Ephesians 4:22, 24). All believers embrace this continual process as we ask God through His Holy Spirit to make us more like Him.

Stephen said, “Faith was a crucial foundation for me changing my life around.” How has this been true for you?

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

When you look back over your life, what comes to mind as key moments that prompted change? What long-lasting change resulted?

Jesus, You’re alive and working in the world and in my life. Help me become more like You day by day as I leave the old self behind.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Touched by Grace

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 105–106; 1 Corinthians 3

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

Luke 6:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 6:27–36

In Leif Enger’s novel Peace Like a River, Jeremiah Land is a single father of three working as a janitor at a local school. He’s also a man of deep, sometimes miraculous, faith. Throughout the book, his faith is often tested.

Jeremiah’s school is run by Chester Holden, a mean-spirited superintendent with a skin condition. Despite Jeremiah’s excellent work ethic—mopping up a sewage spill without complaint, picking up broken bottles the superintendent smashed—Holden wants him gone. One day, in front of all the students, he accuses Jeremiah of drunkenness and fires him. It’s a humiliating scene.

How does Jeremiah respond? He could threaten legal action for unfair dismissal or make accusations of his own. He could slink away, accepting the injustice. Think for a moment what you might do.

“Love your enemies,” Jesus says, “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?

Jeremiah looks at Holden for a moment, then reaches up and touches his face. Holden steps back defensively, then feels his chin and cheeks in wonder. His scarred skin has been healed.

An enemy touched by grace.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

What would your first reaction be in Jeremiah’s situation? How can you help a difficult person move closer to God’s purposes for them?

God, when faced with unfairness, injustice, or abuse, show me how to help my enemy move closer to You.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Sad Story

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 94–96; Romans 15:14–33

The thing David had done displeased the Lord.

2 Samuel 11:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 11:2–15

Painfully, the evil that has long been swept under the rug—sexual abuse of many women by men who had power over them—has come to light. Enduring headline after headline, my heart sank when I heard proof of abuse by two men I admired. The church has not been immune to these issues.

King David faced his own reckoning. Samuel tells us that one afternoon, David “saw a woman bathing” (2 Samuel 11:2). And David wanted her. Though Bathsheba was the wife of one his loyal soldiers (Uriah), David took her anyway. When Bathsheba told David she was pregnant, he panicked. And in a despicable act of treachery, David arranged for Joab to have Uriah die on the battlefield.

There is no hiding David’s abuse of power against Bathsheba and Uriah. Here it is in full color, Samuel ensuring we see it. We must deal with our evil.

Also, we must hear these stories because they caution us against the abuse of power in our times. This was David, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22), but also a man who needed to be held accountable for his actions. May we also prayerfully hold leaders accountable for how they use or abuse power.

By God’s grace, redemption is possible. If we read further, we encounter David’s profound repentance (2 Samuel 12:13). Thankfully, hard hearts can still turn from death to life.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to prayerfully address the abuse of power in our midst and in our world? How did Jesus reveal the right way to live out true power?

God, I don’t know what to do with all the brokenness I see in my world, the brokenness in me. Will You shine Your light and heal us?

 

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Our Daily Bread — Lincoln’s Pockets

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 91–93; Romans 15:1–13

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Romans 15:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 15:1–6

The night US president Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater in 1865, his pockets contained the following: two spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocketknife, a watch fob, a handkerchief, a leather wallet containing a five-dollar Confederate bill, and eight newspaper clippings, including several that praised him and his policies.

I wonder what the Confederate money was doing in the president’s pocket, but I have little doubt about the glowing news stories. Everyone needs encouragement, even a great leader like Lincoln! Can you see him, in the moments before the fateful play, perhaps reading them to his wife?

Who do you know who needs encouragement? Everyone! Look around you. There isn’t one person in your line of vision who is as confident as they seem. We’re all one failure, snide comment, or bad hair day away from self-doubt.

What if we all obeyed God’s command to “please our neighbors for their good, to build them up”? (Romans 15:2). What if we determined only to speak “gracious words” that are “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”? (Proverbs 16:24). What if we wrote these words down, so friends could reread and savor them? Then we’d all have notes in our pockets (or on our phones!). And we’d be more like Jesus, who “did not please himself” but lived for others (Romans 15:3).

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Whose words have most encouraged you? Who might need encouragement that you’ve been overlooking?

Loving God, help me to encourage others with my words, actions, and presence.

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Illusion of Control

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 89–90; Romans 14

You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.

James 4:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:James 4:13–17

Ellen Langer’s 1975 study titled The Illusion of Control examined the level of influence we exert over life’s events. She found that we overestimate our degree of control in most situations. The study also demonstrated how reality nearly always shatters our illusion.

Langer’s conclusions are supported by experiments carried out by others since the study was published. However, James identified the phenomenon long before she named it. In James 4, he wrote, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (vv. 13–14).

Then James provides a cure for the delusion, pointing to the One who’s in absolute control: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (v. 15). In these few verses, James summarized both a key failing of the human condition and its antidote.

May we understand that our fate doesn’t rest in our own hands. Because God holds all things in His capable hands, we can trust His plans!

By:  Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

In what ways have you given in to the illusion that you’re in control of your fate? How can you turn over your plans to God and leave your future in His hands?

Heavenly Father, I place all of my life in Your loving hands. Thank You for Your good plans for me.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Jesus in Disguise

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 87–88; Romans 13

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 25:31–40

My son Geoff recently participated in a “homeless simulation.” He spent three days and two nights living on the streets of his city, sleeping outside in below freezing temperatures. Without food, money, or shelter, he relied on the kindness of strangers for his basic needs. On one of those days his only food was a sandwich, bought by a man who heard him asking for stale bread at a fast-food restaurant.

Geoff told me later it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done, yet it profoundly impacted his outlook on others. He spent the day after his “simulation” seeking out homeless people who had been kind to him during his time on the street, doing what he could to assist them in simple ways. They were surprised to discover he wasn’t actually homeless and were grateful he cared enough to try to see life through their eyes.

My son’s experience calls to mind Jesus’s words: “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:36, 40). Whether we give a word of encouragement or a bag of groceries, God calls us to lovingly attend to the needs of others. Our kindness to others is kindness to Him.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What little kindness can you extend to another? When have you been the recipient of another’s kindness?

Dear Jesus, help me to see You in the needs of others today and to love You by loving them.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Celebrating God’s Creativity

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 84–86; Romans 12

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Romans 12:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 12:3–8

As music filled the church auditorium, color-blind artist Lance Brown stepped onstage. He stood in front of a large white canvas, with his back to the congregation and dipped his brush into black paint. With smooth swipes, he completed a cross. Stroke after stroke with brushes and his hands, this visual storyteller created images of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. He covered the large patches of the canvas with black paint and added blue and white to finish a now abstract painting in less than six minutes. He picked up the canvas, turned it upside down, and revealed a hidden image—a compassion-filled face—Jesus.

Brown said he’d been reluctant when a friend suggested he speed-paint during a church service. Yet he now travels internationally to lead people into worship as he paints and shares Christ with others.

The apostle Paul affirms the value and purpose of the diverse gifts God has dispersed to His people. Every member of His family is equipped to glorify the Lord and build others up in love (Romans 12:3–5). Paul encourages us to identify and use our gifts to edify others and point to Jesus, serving diligently and cheerfully (vv. 6–8).

God has given each of us spiritual gifts, talents, skills, and experiences to serve wholeheartedly behind the scenes or in the forefront. As we celebrate His creativity, He uses our uniqueness to spread the gospel and build up other believers in love.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

Who can you encourage to use their God-given gifts to serve others? How will you do the same?

God, thank You for Your creativity. May I reflect it today.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Loaves and Fishes

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 68–69; Romans 8:1–21

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

Matthew 14:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 14:13–21

A young boy came home from church and announced with great excitement that the lesson had been about a boy who “loafed and fished all day.” He, of course, was thinking of the little boy who offered his loaves and fish to Jesus.

Jesus had been teaching the crowds all day, and the disciples suggested He send them into the village to buy bread. Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16). The disciples were perplexed for there were more than 5,000 to be fed!

You may know the rest of the story: a boy gave his lunch—five small loaves of bread and two fish—and with it Jesus fed the crowd (vv. 13–21). One school of thought contends that the boy’s generosity simply moved others in the crowd to share their lunches, but Matthew clearly intends us to understand that this was a miracle, and the story appears in all four gospels.

What can we learn? Family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and others stand around us in varying degrees of need. Should we send them away to those who are more capable than we are? Certainly, some people’s needs exceed our ability to help them, but not always. Whatever you have—a hug, a kind word, a listening ear, a brief prayer, some wisdom you’ve gathered—give it to Jesus and see what He can do.

By David H. Roper

Reflect & Pray

What’s one need of another person that you may be able to meet? What can you give to Jesus to be used to bless others?

Jesus, give us eyes to see the ways we can care for others. Lead us and use us.

 

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Our Daily Bread — For Love or Money

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 63–65; Romans 6

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.

Luke 12:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 19:1–10

Irish poet Oscar Wilde said, “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” His comment was made tongue-in-cheek; he lived only to age forty-six, so he never truly was “old.” Wilde fully understood that life is not about money.

Money is temporary; it comes and it goes. So life must be about more than money and what it can buy. Jesus challenged the people of His generation—rich and poor alike—to a recalibrated value system. In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” In our culture, where there’s an abiding focus on more and newer and better, there’s something to be said both for contentment and for perspective about how we view money and possessions.

Upon meeting Jesus, a rich young ruler went away sad because he had many possessions he didn’t want to give up (see Luke 18:18–25), but Zacchaeus the tax collector gave away much of what he’d spent his life acquiring (Luke 19:8). The difference is embracing the heart of Christ. In His grace, we can find a healthy perspective on the things we possess—so they don’t become the things that have us.

By Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

What can’t you live without? Why? Is it something that lasts forever, or just for a moment?

Father, give me Your wisdom that I might keep the things of life in the right perspective—and have a value system that reflects eternity.

Listen to “God and Money” at discovertheword.org/series/god-and-money/.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — From Trash to Treasure

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 60–62; Romans 5

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 4:5–7

The trash man’s house sits atop a steep street in a poor Bogota neighborhood. Not one thing about it looks special. Yet the unassuming abode in Colombia’s capital is home to a free library of 25,000 books—discarded literature that Jose Alberto Gutierrez collected to share with poor children in his community.

Local kids crowd into the house during weekend “library hours.” Prowling through every room, each packed with books, the children recognize the humble home as more than Señor Jose’s house—it’s a priceless treasury.

The same is true for every follower of Christ. We’re made of humble clay—marred by cracks and easily broken. But we’re entrusted by God as a home for His empowering Spirit, who enables us to carry the good news of Christ into a hurting, broken world. It’s a big job for ordinary, fragile people.

“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7), the apostle Paul told his congregation in the ancient city of Corinth. They were a cross section of people from across this region, so many might have been tempted to “go around preaching about [them]selves,” Paul said (v. 5 nlt).

Instead, Paul said, tell others about the priceless One living inside of us. It’s Him and His all-surpassing power that turns our ordinary lives into a priceless treasury.

By Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What does it mean to you that you have a treasure, the Holy Spirit, inside you? How is it comforting to know that He enables us to share the good news?

Jesus, fill up my ordinary life with the power of Your Spirit.

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Bulldog and the Sprinkler

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 57–59; Romans 4

I pray that you . . . may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17, 19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 3:14–21

Most summer mornings, a delightful drama plays out in the park behind our house. It involves a sprinkler. And a bulldog. About 6:30 or so, the sprinklers come on. Shortly thereafter, Fifi the bulldog (our family’s name for her) arrives.

Fifi’s owner lets her off her leash. The bulldog sprints with all her might to the nearest sprinkler, attacking the stream of water as it douses her face. If Fifi could eat the sprinkler, I think she would. It’s a portrait of utter exuberance, of Fifi’s seemingly infinite desire to be drenched by the liquid she can never get enough of.

There are no bulldogs in the Bible, or sprinklers. Yet, in a way, Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 reminds me of Fifi. There, Paul prays that the Ephesian believers might be filled with God’s love and “have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” He prayed that we might be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv. 18–19).

Still today, we’re invited to experience a God whose infinite love exceeds anything we can comprehend, that we too might be drenched, saturated, and utterly satisfied by His goodness. We’re free to plunge with abandon, relish, and delight into a relationship with the One who alone can fill our hearts and lives with love, meaning, and purpose.

By Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

How does the experience of plunging into waves at a beach symbolize the immensity of God’s love for you? What barriers do you think potentially keep you from experiencing His love?

God, thank You for Your infinite and satisfying love. Please help us to know and experience the love You have for each one of us.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Who We Are

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 54–56; Romans 3

This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name.

Acts 9:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Acts 9:13–16

I’ll never forget the time I took my future wife to meet my family. With a twinkle in their eyes, my two elder siblings asked her, “What exactly do you see in this guy?” She smiled and assured them that by God’s grace I had grown to be the man she loved.

I loved that clever reply because it also reflects how, in Christ, the Lord sees more than our past. In Acts 9, He directed Ananias to heal Saul, a known persecutor of the church whom God had blinded. Ananias was incredulous at receiving this mission, stating that Saul had been rounding up believers in Jesus for persecution and even execution. God told Ananias not to focus on who Saul had been but on who he had become: an evangelist who would bring the good news to all the known world, including to the gentiles (those who weren’t Jews) and to kings (v. 15). Ananias saw Saul the Pharisee and persecutor, but God saw Paul the apostle and evangelist.

We can sometimes view ourselves only as we have been—with all of our failures and shortcomings. But God sees us as new creations, not who we were but who we are in Jesus and who we’re becoming through the power of the Holy Spirit. O God, teach us to view ourselves and others in this way!

By Peter Chin

Reflect & Pray

How can you begin to better view yourself and others in light of who you are in Christ today? How does it encourage you to know God isn’t through growing and refining you?

Heavenly Father, help me to find my full identity in You. Allow me to humbly see others through Your eyes of grace!

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Ready for Restoration

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 51–53; Romans 2

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?

Psalm 85:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 85

While stationed in Germany in the army I purchased a brand-new 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. The car was a beauty! The dark green exterior complemented the brown leatherette interior. But as the years took their toll, stuff began to happen, including an accident that ruined the running board and destroyed one of the doors. With more imagination, I could have thought, “My classic car was a perfect candidate for restoration!” And with more money, I could have pulled it off. But that didn’t happen.

Thankfully the God of perfect vision and unlimited resources doesn’t give up so easily on battered and broken people. Psalm 85 describes people who were perfect candidates for restoration and the God who is able to restore. The setting is likely after the Israelites had returned from seventy years of exile (their punishment for rebellion against God). Looking back, they were able to see His favor—including His forgiveness (vv. 1–3). They were motivated to ask God for His help (vv. 4–7) and to expect good things from Him (vv. 8–13).

Who among us doesn’t occasionally feel battered, bruised, broken? And sometimes it’s because of something we’ve done to ourselves. But because the Lord is the God of restoration and forgiveness, those who humbly come to Him are never without hope. With open arms He welcomes those who turn to Him; and those who do, find safety in His arms.

By Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

Are there signs in your life that restoration is in order? What’s your response to the God of restoration?

Lord, help me not to ignore the signs that restoration is needed in my life.

 

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Our Daily Bread — All for Nothing

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 49–50; Romans 1

Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.

Proverbs 7:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 7:10–27

Heroin addiction is poignantly tragic. Users build tolerance, so larger hits are required for the same high. Soon the dosage they seek is more than enough to kill them. When addicts hear someone has died from an exceptionally strong batch, their first thought may not be fear but “Where can I get that?”

  1. S. Lewis warned of this downward spiral in Screwtape Letters,his imaginative look at a demon’s explanation of the art of temptation. Start with some pleasure—if possible one of God’s good pleasures—and offer it in a way God has forbidden. Once the person bites, give less of it while enticing him to want more. Provide “an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure,” until finally we “get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return.”

Proverbs 7 illustrates this devastating cycle with the temptation of sexual sin. Sex is God’s good gift, but when we seek its enjoyment outside of marriage we’re “like an ox going to the slaughter” (v. 22). People stronger than us have destroyed themselves by pursuing highs that are harmful, so “pay attention” and “do not let your heart turn to [wrongful] ways” (vv. 24–25). Sin can be alluring and addicting, but it always ends in death (v. 27). By avoiding—in God’s strength—the temptation to sin, we can find true joy and fulfillment in Him.

By Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When and where do you face temptations? How can you seek God’s wisdom and help in turning from them? 

Holy Spirit, I know that I am powerless in myself to resist temptation. I need You. Help me. For more on overcoming addiction, see When We Just Can’t Stopat discoveryseries.org/cb961.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Something to Brag About

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 35–36; Acts 25

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.

Jeremiah 9:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jeremiah 9:23–26

What does it mean to be real? That’s the very big question answered in the small children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s the story of toys in a nursery and the velveteen rabbit’s journey to become real by allowing himself to be loved by a child. One of the other toys is the old and wise Skin Horse. He “had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by break . . . and pass away.” They looked and sounded impressive, but their bragging eventually amounted to nothing when it came to love.

Boasting starts out strong; but in the end, it always fades away. Jeremiah lists three areas where this is evident: “wisdom . . . strength . . . riches” (Jeremiah 9:23). The wise old prophet had been around long enough to know a thing or two, and he countered such boasting with the Lord’s truth: “But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord” (v. 24).

Let us, the children, brag about God, our good Father. In the unfolding story of His great love, it’s the wonderful way you and I grow to become more and more real.

By John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Think of a person you know who embodies the ability to “boast in the Lord.” What is one way this week you can follow their example?

Father, help me to remember Jeremiah’s words. May my only boasting be in the knowledge of You and Your great love which endures forever.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Eyes in the Back of My Head

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 33–34; Acts 24

From his dwelling place [God] watches all who live on earth.

Psalm 33:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 33:6–19

I was as mischievous as any other child in my early years and tried to hide my bad behavior to avoid getting into trouble. Yet my mother usually found out what I had done. I recall being amazed at how quickly and accurately she knew about my antics. When I marveled and asked how she knew, she always replied, “I have eyes in the back of my head.” This, of course, led me to study her head whenever she’d turn her back—were the eyes invisible or merely cloaked by her red hair? As I grew, I gave up looking for evidence of her extra pair of eyes and realized I just wasn’t quite as sneaky as I had supposed. Her watchful gaze was evidence of her loving concern for her children.

As grateful as I am for my mother’s attentive care (despite being occasionally disappointed I hadn’t gotten away with something!), I’m even more grateful that God “sees all mankind” as He looks upon us from heaven (Psalm 33:13). He sees so much more than what we do; He sees our sadness, our delights, and our love for one another.

God sees our true character and always knows exactly what we need. With perfect vision, which even sees the inner workings of our hearts, He watches over those who love Him and put their hope in Him (v. 18). He’s our attentive, loving Father.

By Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How does it comfort you to know that God sees everything and is watching over you? What has He been doing recently to sharpen your character?

Dear Father, thank You for watching over all people and for seeing what happens in our world and in my life.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Faithful in Captivity

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 31–32; Acts 23:16–35

While Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him.

Genesis 39:20–21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Genesis 39:6–12, 20–23

Haralan Popov had no idea what turn his life would take when the doorbell rang early one morning in 1948. Without any warning, the Bulgarian police took Haralan away to prison because of his faith. He spent the next thirteen years behind bars, praying for strength and courage. Despite horrible treatment, he knew God was with him, and he shared the good news of Jesus with fellow prisoners—and many believed.

In the account from Genesis 37, Joseph had no idea what would happen to him after he was mercilessly sold by his angry brothers to merchants who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an Egyptian official. He found himself in a culture surrounded by people who believed in thousands of gods. To make things worse, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. When Joseph refused repeatedly, she falsely accused him, leading to his being sent to prison (39:16–20). Yet God didn’t abandon him. Not only was He with Joseph, but He also “gave him success in everything he did” and even “showed him kindness and granted him favor” with those in authority (39:3, 21).

Imagine the fear Joseph must have felt. But he remained faithful and kept his integrity. God was with Joseph in his difficult journey and had a master plan for him. He has a plan in mind for you too. Take heart and walk in faith, trusting He sees and He knows.

By Estera Pirosca Escobar

Reflect & Pray

What difficult situation have you experienced—perhaps one in which you were falsely accused? Why is it vital for you to maintain your integrity?

God, thank You for being with me always, even when life’s circumstances cause me to be uncomfortable. Help me to be faithful to You.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Wise Aid

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 20–22; Acts 21:1–17

Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Thessalonians 5:12–15

As I stopped my car at a red light, I saw the same man standing beside the road again. He held a cardboard sign: Need money for food. Anything helps. I looked away and sighed. Was I the kind of person who ignored the needy?

Some people pretend to have needs but are actually con artists. Others have legitimate needs but face difficulties overcoming destructive habits. Social workers tell us it’s better to give money to the aid ministries in our city. I swallowed hard and drove past. I felt bad, but I may have acted wisely.

God commands us to “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). To do this well we must know who belongs in which category. If we warn a weak or disheartened person, we may break her spirit; if we help an idle person, we may encourage laziness. Consequently, we help best from up close, when we know the person well enough to know what he needs.

Has God burdened your heart to help someone? Great! Now the work begins. Don’t assume you know what that person needs. Ask her to share her story, and listen. Prayerfully give as seems wise and not merely to feel better. When we truly aim “to do what is good for each other,” we will more readily “be patient with everyone,” even when they stumble (vv. 14–15).

By Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When have others most helped you? What did you learn about how best to help others?

Father, help me to help wisely, and often.

 

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