Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Daily Dependence

Bible in a Year:

Give us today our daily bread.

Matthew 6:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:6–13

One morning our younger kids decided to get up early and fix breakfast for themselves. Tired from a grueling week, my wife and I were trying to sleep until at least 7:00 a.m. on that Saturday morning. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash! I jumped out of bed and raced downstairs to find a shattered bowl, oatmeal all over the floor, and Jonas—our five-year-old—desperately trying to sweep (more like smear) the gooey mess off the floor. My children were hungry, but they chose not to ask for help. Instead of reaching out in dependence, they chose independence, and the result was definitely not a culinary delight.

In human terms, children are meant to grow from dependence to independence. But in our relationship with God, maturity means moving from independence to dependence on Him. Prayer is where we practice such dependent ways. When Jesus taught His disciples—and all of us who have come to believe in Him—to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), He was teaching a prayer of dependence. Bread is a metaphor for sustenance, deliverance, and guidance (vv. 11–13). We’re dependent on God for all that and more.

There are no self-made believers in Jesus, and we’ll never graduate from His grace. Throughout our lives, may we always begin our day by taking the posture of dependence as we pray to “our Father in heaven” (v. 9).

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

What’s the “bread” you’re praying for today? How do you reveal your trust in God as you call out to Him?

Dear Jesus, You’re my Creator and my Sustainer. Please help me to trust in You.

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Our Daily Bread — Who You Are

Bible in a Year:

Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Timothy 4:12–16

In 2011, after a decade of childlessness, my wife and I chose to start afresh in a new country. Exciting as the move was, it required my leaving a broadcast career, which I missed. Feeling lost, I asked my friend Liam for advice.

“I don’t know what my calling is anymore,” I told Liam dejectedly.

“You’re not broadcasting here?” he asked. I said I wasn’t.

“And how is your marriage?”

Surprised at his change of topic, I told Liam that Merryn and I were doing well. We’d faced heartbreak together but emerged closer through the ordeal.

“Commitment is the core of the gospel,” he said, smiling. “Oh, how the world needs to see committed marriages like yours! You may not realize the impact you’re having already, beyond what you do, simply by being who you are.”

When a difficult work situation left Timothy dejected, the apostle Paul didn’t give him career goals. Instead, he encouraged Timothy to live a godly life, setting an example through his speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12–1315). He would best impact others by living faithfully.

It’s easy to value our lives based on our career success when what matters most is our character. I had forgotten that. But a word of truth, a gracious act, even a committed marriage can bring great change—because through them something of God’s own goodness touches the world.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Who has touched your life and what qualities did they have? How can you set an example of faithfulness today?

Dear God, help me to remember that the work I do isn’t as important as the person I become. Please make me more like You.

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Our Daily Bread — Warning Sounds

Bible in a Year:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Proverbs 15:1–7

Ever had a close encounter with a rattlesnake? If so, you might have noticed that the sound of the rattle seemed to get more intense as you moved nearer to the viper. Research in the scientific journal Current Biology reveals that the snakes do increase their rattling rate when a threat is approaching. This “high-frequency mode” can cause us to think they’re closer than they are. As one researcher put it, “The misinterpretation of distance by the listener . . . creates a distance safety margin.”

People can sometimes use increasing volume with harsh words that push others away during a conflict—exhibiting anger and resorting to shouting. The writer of Proverbs shares some wise advice for times like these: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). He goes on to say that “soothing” and “wise” words can be “a tree of life” and a source of “knowledge” (vv. 4, 7).

Jesus provided the ultimate reasons for gently appealing to those with whom we enter into conflict: extending love that reveals us to be His children (Matthew 5:43–45) and seeking reconciliation—“[winning] them over” (18:15). Instead of raising our voice or using unkind words during conflicts, may we show civility, wisdom, and love to others as God guides us by His Spirit.

By:  Tom Felten

Reflect & Pray

Why can it be difficult to be gentle and loving in a conflict? How can the Holy Spirit help you carefully choose your words and actions?

Heavenly Father, help me to lovingly address issues with those with whom I disagree.

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Our Daily Bread — A Hot Meal

Bible in a Year:

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Matthew 25:40

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 25:34–40

Barbecue chicken, green beans, spaghetti, rolls. On a cool day in October, at least fifty-four homeless people received this hot meal from a woman celebrating fifty-four years of life. The woman and her friends decided to forgo her usual birthday dinner in a restaurant, choosing instead to cook and serve meals to people on the streets of Chicago. On social media, she encouraged others to also perform a random act of kindness as a birthday gift.

This story reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40). He said these words after declaring that His sheep will be invited into His eternal kingdom to receive their inheritance (vv. 33–34). At that time, Jesus will acknowledge that they’re the people who fed and clothed Him because of their genuine faith in Him, unlike the proud religious people who did not believe in Him (see 26:3–5). Although the “righteous” will question when they fed and clothed Jesus (25:37), He’ll assure them that what they did for others was also done for Him (v. 40).

Feeding the hungry is just one way God helps us care for His people—showing our love for Him and relationship with Him. May He help us meet others’ needs today.

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

What acts of kindness can you do today to show God’s love to others? How are you also caring for Him when you help meet their needs?

Gracious God, please help me to show Your love through my actions today.

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Our Daily Bread — Walk with Me

Bible in a Year:

The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

Titus 2:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Titus 2:11–14

A few years ago, a popular song hit the charts, with a gospel choir singing the chorus, “Jesus walks with me.” Behind the lyrics lies a powerful story.

The choir was started by jazz musician Curtis Lundy when he entered a treatment program for cocaine addiction. Drawing fellow addicts together and finding inspiration in an old hymnal, he wrote that chorus as a hymn of hope for those in rehab. “We were singing for our lives,” one choir member says of the song. “We were asking Jesus to save us, to help us get out of the drugs.” Another found that her chronic pain subsided when she sang the song. That choir wasn’t just singing words on a sheet but offering desperate prayers for redemption.

Today’s Scripture reading describes their experience well. In Christ, our God has appeared to offer salvation to all people (Titus 2:11). While eternal life is part of this gift (v. 13), God is working on us now, empowering us to regain self-control, say no to worldly passions, and redeem us for life with Him (vv. 12, 14). As the choir members found, Jesus doesn’t just forgive our sins—He frees us from destructive lifestyles.

Jesus walks with me. And you. And anyone who cries out to Him for help. He’s with us, offering hope for the future and salvation now.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

What do you need Jesus to change in you today? How desperate are you for Him to do it?

Dear Jesus, I need You. Forgive my sins, free me from destructive habits, and change me from the inside out.

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Our Daily Bread — Enduring Hope

Bible in a Year:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

Revelation 21:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Revelation 21:1–8

Doctors diagnosed four-year-old Solomon with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle-degenerating disease. A year later, doctors discussed wheelchairs with the family. But Solomon protested that he didn’t want to have to use one. Family and friends prayed for him and raised funds for a professionally trained service dog to help keep him out of that wheelchair for as long as possible. Tails for Life, the organization that trained my service dog, Callie, is currently preparing Waffles to serve Solomon.

Though Solomon accepts his treatment, often bursting out in song to praise God, some days are harder. On one of those difficult days, Solomon hugged his mom and said, “I’m happy there’s no Duchenne’s in heaven.”

The degenerating effects of sickness affect all people on this side of eternity. Like Solomon, however, we have an enduring hope that can strengthen our resolve on those inevitable tough days. God gives us the promise of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). Our Creator and Sustainer will “dwell” among us by making His home with us (v. 3). He will “wipe every tear” from our eyes. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4). When the wait feels “too hard” or “too long,” we can experience peace because God’s promise will be fulfilled.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How has acknowledging God’s promise for a new heaven and a new earth comforted you? How can you encourage a hurting friend with the enduring hope of God’s promises?

Loving God, thank You for strengthening my resolve with the surety of my enduring hope.

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Our Daily Bread — Hopes and Longings

Bible in a Year:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Proverbs 13:12–19

When I moved to England, the American holiday of Thanksgiving became just another Thursday in November. Although I created a feast the weekend after, I longed to be with family and friends on the day. Yet I understood that my longings weren’t unique to me. We all yearn to be with people dear to us on special occasions and holidays. And even when we’re celebrating, we may miss someone who’s not with us or we may pray for our fractured family to be at peace.

During these times, praying and pondering the wisdom of the Bible has helped me, including one of King Solomon’s proverbs: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). In this proverb, one of the pithy sayings through which Solomon shared his wisdom, he notes the effect that “hope deferred” can have: the delay of something much longed for can result in angst and pain. But when the desire is fulfilled, it’s like a tree of life—something that allows us to feel refreshed and renewed.

Some of our hopes and desires might not be fulfilled right away, and some might only be met through God after we die. Whatever our longing, we can trust in Him, knowing He loves us unceasingly. And, one day, we’ll be reunited with loved ones as we feast with Him and give thanks to Him (see Revelation 19:6–9).

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt sick because of an unfulfilled longing? How did God meet you in your time of need?

God our Creator, You fulfill my deepest longings. I give You my hopes and my desires, asking You to grant them according to Your wisdom and love.

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Our Daily Bread — Trusting Our Future to God

Bible in a Year:

No one knows what is coming.

Ecclesiastes 10:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ecclesiastes 10:12–14

In 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz made the first purchase with bitcoin (a digital currency then worth a fraction of a penny each), paying 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas ($25). In 2021, at its highest value during the year, those bitcoins would have been worth well more than $500 million. Back before the value skyrocketed, he kept paying for pizzas with coins, spending 100,000 bitcoins total. If he’d kept those bitcoins, their value would’ve made him a billionaire sixty-eight times over and placed him on the Forbes’ “richest people in the world” list. If only he’d known what was coming.

Of course, Hanyecz couldn’t possibly have known. None of us could have. Despite our attempts to comprehend and control the future, Ecclesiastes rings true: “No one knows what is coming” (10:14). Some of us delude ourselves into thinking we know more than we do, or worse, that we possess some special insight about another person’s life or future. But as Ecclesiastes pointedly asks: “who can tell someone else what will happen after them?” (v. 14). No one.

Scripture contrasts a wise and a foolish person, and one of the many distinctions between the two is humility about the future (Proverbs 27:1). A wise person recognizes that only God truly knows what’s over the horizon as they make decisions. But foolish people presume knowledge that isn’t theirs. May we have wisdom, trusting our future to the only One who actually knows it.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where do you see temptation to control the future? How can you better trust God with your coming days?

Dear God, help me to simply trust You today.  

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Our Daily Bread — Faith in Action

Bible in a Year:

Faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

James 2:14–26

A tornado blew through a community on a June evening in 2021, destroying a family’s barn. It was a sad loss because the barn had been on the family property since the late 1800s. As John and Barb drove by on their way to church the next morning, they saw the damage and wondered how they might help. So they stopped and learned that the family needed assistance with cleanup. Turning their car around quickly, they headed back home to change clothes and returned to stay for the day to clean up the mess the violent winds had created. They put their faith into action as they served the family.

James said that “faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). He gives the example of Abraham, who in obedience followed God when he didn’t know where he was going (v. 23; see Genesis 12:1–415:6Hebrews 11:8). James also mentions Rahab, who showed her belief in the God of Israel when she hid the spies who came to check out the city of Jericho (James 2:25; see Joshua 26:17).

“If someone claims to have faith but has no deeds” (James 2:14), it does them no good. “Faith is the root, good works are the fruits,” comments Matthew Henry, “and we must see to it that we have both.” God doesn’t need our good deeds, but our faith is proven by our actions.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think it’s important that we do good deeds? What can you do out of your love for God?

May I serve You out of my faith in You and love for You today, dear God.

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Our Daily Bread — Thoughts and Prayers

Bible in a Year:

Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

Acts 12:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Acts 12:4–11

“You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” If you hear those words, you might wonder if the person really means it. But you never had to wonder when Edna Davis said them. Everyone in the small, one stoplight town knew of “Ms. Edna’s” yellow legal pad—page after page, lined with name after name. Early each morning the aging woman prayed out loud to God. Not everyone on her list received the answer to prayer they wanted, but several testified at her funeral that something God-sized had happened in their lives, and they credited it to the earnest prayers of Ms. Edna.

God demonstrated the power of prayer in Peter’s prison experience. After the apostle was seized by Herod’s men, thrown into prison, and then “guarded by four squads of four soldiers each” (Acts 12:4), his prospects looked bleak. But “the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (v. 5). They had Peter in their thoughts and prayers. What God did is simply miraculous! An angel appeared to Peter in prison, released him from his chains, and led him to safety beyond the prison gates (vv. 7–10).

It’s possible some may use “thoughts and prayers” without really meaning it. But our Father knows our thoughts, listens to our prayers, and acts on our behalf according to His perfect will. To be prayed for and to pray for others is no small thing when we serve the great and powerful God.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

When was the last time you knew someone remembered you and prayed earnestly for you? Who is someone you can pray that way for today?

Jesus, thank You that I can bring every care to You and that You listen.

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Our Daily Bread — Onwards! Unswerving

Bible in a Year:

[We encouraged] . . . you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Thessalonians 3:11–13; 4:9–12

In the poem “Rest,” the poet gently challenges our tendency to separate “leisure” time from “work,” asking, “Is not true leisure / One with true toil?” If you want to experience true leisure, instead of trying to avoid life’s duties, the author urges, “Still do thy best; Use it, not waste it,— / Else ’tis not rest. / Wouldst behold beauty / Near thee? all round? / Only hath duty / Such a sight found.”

The poet concludes that true rest and joy are both found through love and service—an idea that brings to mind Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians. After describing his calling to encourage believers “to live lives worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:12), the apostle gives more specifics.

And the picture he paints of such a life is one of quiet integrity, love, and service. Paul prays that God would “make [their] love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (3:12). And he urges believers in Jesus to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” to “mind your own business and work with your hands” (4:11). It’s that kind of life, quietly loving and serving in whatever ways God has enabled us, that reveals to others the beauty of a life of faith (v. 12).

Or, as the writer puts it, true joy is “loving and serving / The highest and best; / ’Tis onwards! Unswerving— / And that is true rest.”

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

How does God’s presence help you experience true joy? How are rest and service united in God’s kingdom?

Loving God, thank You that I don’t need to avoid the duties and rhythms of daily life to experience Your beauty. Help me to know the joy of a quiet life lived with You.

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Our Daily Bread — Using Your Voice

Bible in a Year:

I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.

Exodus 4:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Exodus 4:10–17

Since age eight, Lisa had struggled with a stammer and became afraid of social situations that required her to talk with people. But later in life, after speech therapy helped her overcome her challenge, Lisa decided to use her voice to help others. She began volunteering as a counselor for an emotional distress telephone hotline.

Moses had to face his concerns about speaking to help lead the Israelites out of captivity. God asked him to communicate with Pharaoh, but Moses protested because he didn’t feel confident in his speaking ability (Exodus 4:10). God challenged him, “Who gave human beings their mouths?” Then He reassured Moses saying, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (vv. 11–12).

God’s response reminds us that He can work powerfully through us even in our limitations. But even when we know this in our hearts, it can be hard to live it out. Moses continued to struggle and begged God to send someone else (v. 13). So God allowed Moses’ brother Aaron to accompany him (v. 14).

Each of us has a voice that can help others. We may be afraid. We may not feel capable. We may feel we don’t have the right words.

God knows how we feel. He can provide the words and all we need to serve others and accomplish His work.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

How might God want to use your words to help others? How does it encourage you to know that He works through us even in our fear and weaknesses?

Dear God, please show me how I can serve You with my voice today. 

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Our Daily Bread — The Love of God

Bible in a Year:

Great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 57:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 57

In 1917, Frederick Lehman, a California businessman beset by financial setbacks, wrote the lyrics to the hymn, “The Love of God.” His inspiration led him quickly to pen the first two stanzas, but he got stuck on the third. He recalled a poem that had been discovered years earlier, written on the walls of a prison. A prisoner had scratched it there into the stone, expressing a deep awareness of God’s love. The poem happened to be in the same meter as Lehman’s hymn. He made it his third stanza.  

There are times when we face difficult setbacks as did Lehman and the poet in the prison cell. In times of despair, we do well to echo the psalmist David’s words and “take refuge in the shadow of [God’s] wings” (Psalm 57:1). It’s okay to “cry out to God” with our troubles (v. 2), to speak to Him of our current ordeal and the fears we have when “in the midst of lions” (v. 4). We’re soon reminded of the reality of God’s provision in times past, and join David who says, “I will sing and make music. . . . I will awaken the dawn” (vv. 7–8).

“The love of God is greater far,” this hymn proclaims, adding “it goes beyond the highest star.” It’s precisely in our time of greatest need when we’re to embrace how great God’s love really is—indeed “reaching to the heavens” (v. 10).

By:  Kenneth Petersen

Reflect & Pray

What are the difficulties you face today? How has God provided for you in times past?

Loving God, I am facing difficult matters, but I am reminded of Your love for me and Your provision throughout my life. Thank You.

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Our Daily Bread — The Source

Bible in a Year:

Create in me a pure heart, O God.

Psalm 51:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 7:14–23

It was 1854, and something was killing thousands of people in London. It must be the bad air, people thought. And indeed, as unseasonable heat baked the sewage-fouled River Thames, the smell grew so bad it became known as “The Great Stink.”

But the worst problem wasn’t the air. Research by Dr. John Snow would show that contaminated water was the cause of the cholera epidemic.

We humans have long been aware of another crisis—one that stinks to high heaven. We live in a broken world—and we’re prone to misidentify the source of this problem, treating symptoms instead. Wise social programs and policies do some good, but they’re powerless to stop the root cause of society’s ills—our sinful hearts!

When Jesus said, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them,” He wasn’t referring to physical diseases (Mark 7:15). Rather, He was diagnosing the spiritual condition of every one of us. “It is what comes out of a person that defiles them,” He said (v. 15), listing a litany of evils lurking inside us (vv. 21–22).

“Surely I was sinful at birth,” David wrote (Psalm 51:5). His lament is one we can all voice. We’re broken from the beginning. That’s why David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (v. 10). Every day, we need that new heart, created by Jesus through His Spirit.

Instead of treating the symptoms, we must let Jesus purify the source.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

In what ways might you be treating symptoms instead of letting Jesus clean up the source? How can you share the good news of what Jesus did for you?

Heavenly Father, guard my heart and help me be attentive to Your Spirit within me.

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Our Daily Bread — Legacy of Friends

Bible in a Year:

A friend loves at all times.

Proverbs 17:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Proverbs 27:6–10

I met him in the 1970s when I was a high school English teacher and basketball coach, and he was a tall, gangly freshman. Soon he was on my basketball team and in my classes—and a friendship was formed. This same friend, who had served with me as a fellow editor for many years, stood before me at my retirement party and shared about the legacy of our longstanding friendship.

What is it about friends connected by the love of God that encourages us and brings us closer to Jesus? The writer of Proverbs understood that friendship has two encouraging components: First, true friends give valuable advice, even if it’s not easy to give or take (27:6): “Wounds from a friend can be trusted,” the writer explains. Second, a friend who is nearby and accessible is important in times of crisis: “Better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away” (v. 10).

It’s not good for us to fly solo in life. As Solomon noted: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 nlt). In life, we need to have friends and we need to be friends. May God help us “love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10 esv) and “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2)—becoming the kind of friend that can encourage others and draw them closer to the love of Jesus.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

In what sense could you be isolating yourself from others? How can you regularly connect with some strong believers in Jesus to encourage each other?

Dear God, search my heart regarding my friends. Please help me provide Christ-centered counsel to them and receive godly wisdom from them.

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Our Daily Bread — Wise or Unwise?

Bible in a Year:

Understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ephesians 5:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ephesians 5:15–17

When I was ten, I brought home a cassette tape from a friend at youth group that contained the music of a contemporary Christian band. My dad, who had been raised in a Hindu home but had received salvation in Jesus, didn’t approve. He only wanted worship music played in our home. I explained it was a Christian band, but that didn’t change his mind. After a while, he suggested that I listen to the songs for a week and then decide if they brought me closer to God or pushed me further away from Him. There was some helpful wisdom in that advice.

There are things in life that are clearly right or wrong, but many times we wrestle with disputable matters (Romans 14:1–19). In deciding what to do, we can seek the wisdom found in Scripture. Paul encouraged the Ephesian believers to “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). Like a good parent, Paul knew that he couldn’t possibly be there or give instructions for every situation. If they were going to “[make] the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” they were going to have to discern for themselves and “understand what the Lord’s will is” (vv. 16–17). A life of wisdom is an invitation to pursue discernment and good decisions as God guides us even when we wrestle with what might be disputable.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

How can you determine what will be wise or foolish as you make decisions? How can you seek God’s guidance?

Dear Jesus, cultivate a heart of wisdom in me. Enable me to live my life in a way that will always draw me closer to You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Loving Our Neighbors

Bible in a Year:

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.

Leviticus 19:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Leviticus 19:15–18

In the days of self-isolation and lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, words by Martin Luther King Jr. in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” rang true. Speaking about injustice, he remarked how he couldn’t sit idly in one city and not be concerned about what happens in another. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,” he said, “tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects us all indirectly.” 

Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted our connectedness as around the world cities and countries closed to stop the spread of the virus. What affected one city could soon affect another.

Many centuries ago, God instructed His people how to show concern for others. Through Moses, He gave the Israelites the law to guide them and help them live together. He told them to “not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life” (Leviticus 19:16); and to not seek revenge or bear a grudge against others, but to “love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 18). God knew that communities would start to unravel if people didn’t look out for others, valuing their lives as much as they did their own.

We too can embrace the wisdom of God’s instructions. As we go about our daily activities, we can remember how interconnected we are with others as we ask Him how to love and serve them well.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think Jesus echoed God’s law when He told the religious leaders to love their neighbors as themselves? How could you put this instruction into action today?

Loving Creator, help me to share Your love and grace today.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Thankful for Monday

Bible in a Year:

A person can do nothing better than to . . . find satisfaction in their own toil.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ecclesiastes 2:17–25

I used to dread Mondays. Sometimes, when I got off the train to head to a previous job, I’d sit at the station for a while, trying to delay reaching the building, if only for a few minutes. My heart would beat fast as I worried over meeting the deadlines and managing the moods of a temperamental boss.

For some of us, it can be especially difficult to start another dreary workweek. We may be feeling overwhelmed or underappreciated in our job. King Solomon described the toil of work when he wrote: “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain” (Ecclesiastes 2:22–23).

While the wise king didn’t give us a cure-all for making work less stressful or more rewarding, he did offer us a change in perspective. No matter how difficult our work is, he encourages us to “find satisfaction” in it with God’s help (v. 24). Perhaps it will come as the Holy Spirit enables us to display Christlike character. Or as we hear from someone who’s been blessed through our service. Or as we remember the wisdom God provided to deal with a difficult situation. Though our work may be difficult, our faithful God is there with us. His presence and power can light up even gloomy days. With His help, we can be thankful for Monday.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What gives you the Monday blues? How will you lean on God’s help to find satisfaction in your work today?

Faithful God, help me to see the good You’re enabling me to accomplish through my work today!

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Our Daily Bread — God Redeems Our Pain

Bible in a Year:

The Lord bless him! . . . That man is our close relative.

Ruth 2:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ruth 2:20–22; 4:13–17

Olive watched her friend loading her dental equipment into his car. A fellow dentist, he’d bought the brand-new supplies from her. Having her own practice had been Olive’s dream for years, but when her son Kyle was born with cerebral palsy, she realized she had to stop working to care for him.

“If I had a million lifetimes, I’d make the same choice,” my friend told me. “But giving up dentistry was difficult. It was the death of a dream.”

We often go through difficulties we can’t understand. For Olive, it was the heartache of her child’s unexpected medical condition and relinquishing her own ambitions. For Naomi, it was the heartache of losing her entire family. In Ruth 1:21 she lamented, “The Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”  

But there was more to Naomi’s story than what she could see. God didn’t abandon her; He brought restoration by providing her with a grandson, Obed (Ruth 4:17). Obed would not only carry on the name of Naomi’s husband and son, but through him, she would be a relative of an ancestor (Boaz) of Jesus Himself  (Matthew 1:516).

God redeemed Naomi’s pain. He also redeemed Olive’s pain by helping her begin a ministry for children with neurological conditions. We may experience seasons of heartache, but we can trust that as we obey and follow God, He can redeem our pain. In His love and wisdom, He can make good come out of it.  

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

How has God redeemed your trials in the past? How is He encouraging you in your present difficulties?

Dear God, thank You that You’re redeeming the painful stories of my life.

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Our Daily Bread — Hearing Christ, Not Chaos

Bible in a Year:

My sheep listen to my voice.

John 10:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 10:1–6, 27

After watching TV news for hours each day, the elderly man grew agitated and anxious—worried the world was falling apart and taking him with it. “Please turn it off,” his grown daughter begged him. “Just stop listening.” But the man continued to spend an excessive amount of time on social media and other news sources.

What we listen to matters deeply. We see this in Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate. Responding to criminal charges brought against Jesus by religious leaders, Pilate summoned Him and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (John 18:33). Jesus replied with a stunning question: “Is that your own idea . . . or did others talk to you about me?” (v. 34).

The same question tests us. In a world of panic, are we listening to chaos or to Christ? Indeed, “my sheep listen to my voice,” He said. “I know them, and they follow me” (10:27). Jesus “used this figure of speech” (v. 6) to explain Himself to doubting religious leaders. As with a good shepherd, He said that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (vv. 4–5).

As our Good Shepherd, Jesus bids us to hear Him above all. May we listen well and find His peace.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What do you hear on the news or social media that makes you feel anxious? How can you give more time to hearing the voice of God?

Loving God, in a noisy world, when You speak to my heart, mind, and spirit in and through the Scriptures, may I hear You over all.

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