Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Intentional Kindness

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Daniel 1–2
  • 1 John 4

I want to show God’s kindness to them.

2 Samuel 9:3 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight: 2 Samuel 9:3–11

Boarding a plane alone with her children, a young mom tried desperately to calm her three-year-old daughter who began kicking and crying. Then her hungry four-month-old son also began to wail.

A traveler seated next to her quickly offered to hold the baby while Jessica got her daughter buckled in. Then the traveler—recalling his own days as a young dad—began coloring with the toddler while Jessica fed her infant. And on the next connecting flight, the same man offered to assist again if needed.

Jessica recalled, “I [was] blown away by God’s hand in this. [We] could have been placed next to anyone, but we were seated next to one of the nicest men I have ever met.”

In 2 Samuel 9, we read of another example of what I call intentional kindness. After King Saul and his son Jonathan had been killed, some expected David to kill off any competition to his claim for the throne. Instead, he asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” (v. 3). Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, was then brought to David who restored his inheritance and warmly invited him to share his table from then on—just as if he were his own son (v. 11).

As beneficiaries of the immense kindness of God, may we look for opportunities to show intentional kindness toward others (Galatians 6:10).

By: Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

Who can you show God’s kindness to? What specific act of kindness can you demonstrate to someone who is hurting or discouraged?

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the kindness You’ve shown me. Help me to lavish it on others.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Lost Envelope

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 45–46
  • 1 John 2

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 6:19–21

We were on the way home from a visit with family in another state when I found it. I was pumping gas when I noticed a dirty, bulky envelope on the ground. I grabbed it, dirt and all, and looked inside. To my surprise, it contained one hundred dollars.

One hundred dollars that someone had lost and who at that very moment was possibly frantically searching to find. I gave our phone number to the attendants at the gas station in case anyone came back looking for it. But no one ever called.

Someone had that money and lost it. Earthly treasure is often like that. It can be lost, stolen, or even squandered. It can be lost in bad investments or even in a monetary market over which we have no control. But the heavenly treasure we have in Jesus—a restored relationship with God and the promise of eternal life—isn’t like that. We can’t lose it at a gas station or anywhere else.

That’s why Christ told us to store up “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). We do that when we become “rich in good deeds” (1 Timothy 6:18) or “rich in faith” (James 2:5)—lovingly helping others and sharing Jesus with them. As God leads and empowers us, may we store up eternal treasure even as we anticipate our eternal future with Him.

By: Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

What can you do this week that has eternal implications? How can you better use your earthly treasures as investments for heaven’s good?

Dear God, thank You for everything You’ve given us on this earth—our money, our homes, and more. Help us to hold them loosely while seeking to store up more eternal treasures.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Flip Side of Love

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 42–44
  • 1 John 1

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

2 John 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 John 1:1–11

The Roman inns during the time of Christ had a reputation so bad that rabbis wouldn’t even permit cattle to be left at them. Faced with such bad conditions, traveling Christians usually sought out other believers for hospitality.

Among those early travelers were false teachers who denied that Jesus was the Messiah. This is why the letter of 2 John tells its readers there is a time to refuse to extend hospitality. John had said in a previous letter that these false teachers were “antichrist—denying the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). In 2 John he elaborated on this, telling his readers that whoever believes Jesus is the Messiah “has both the Father and the Son” (v. 9).

Then he warned, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them” (v. 10). To extend hospitality to someone preaching a false gospel would actually help keep people separated from God.

John’s second letter shows us a “flip side” of God’s love. We serve a God who welcomes everyone with open arms. But genuine love won’t enable those who deceitfully harm themselves and others. God wraps His arms around those who come to Him in repentance, but He never embraces a lie.

By: Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

How can you reflect God’s love in your relationships today? What issues might you need to confront in your own life or in the lives of others?

Father, You love us in Your truth. Help us extend that love to others with the unwavering grace that comes only from Your Spirit.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Is There Hope?

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 40–41
  • 2 Peter 3

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 8:31–39

Edward Payson (1783–1827) led an extremely difficult life. The death of his younger brother shook him to the core. He struggled with bipolar disorder, and he was affected by extreme migraine headaches for days. If this wasn’t enough, a fall from a horse led to paralysis of his arm, and he almost died from tuberculosis! Surprisingly, his response wasn’t one of despair and hopelessness. His friends said that before Edward passed away, his joy was intense. How could that be?

In his letter to the believers in Rome, the apostle Paul expressed his complete confidence in the reality of God’s love regardless of circumstances. He asked with boldness, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). If God gave His very own Son, Jesus, to save us, then He will provide everything we need to finish this life well. Paul listed seven seemingly unbearable situations that he himself faced: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and the sword (v. 35). He didn’t imply that Christ’s love would stop bad things from happening. But Paul said that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v. 37).

Through the uncertainty of this world, God can be trusted completely, knowing that nothing, absolutely nothing, “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39).

By: Estera Pirosca Escobar

Reflect & Pray

When you face seemingly hopeless situations, how do you typically respond? What promise of God can you cling to, knowing He is faithful?

Faithful Father, thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice so that I can have eternal life. Thank You that, no matter how gray life may seem, I can trust in Your promises.

To learn more about living with the difficulties, visit bit.ly/2wXd3Jj.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Carefully Crafted

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 37–39
  • 2 Peter 2

Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people.

Ephesians 4:11–12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 4:11–14

In a YouTube video, Alan Glustoff, a cheese farmer in Goshen, New York, described his process for aging cheese, a process that adds to a cheese’s flavor and texture. Before it can be sent out to a market, each block of cheese remains on a shelf in an underground cave for six to twelve months. In this humid environment the cheese is carefully tended. “We do our best to give it the right environment to thrive . . . [and] to develop to its truest potential,” Glustoff explained.

Glustoff’s passion for developing the potential of the cheese he produces reminded me of God’s passion for developing the “truest potential” of His children so they will become fruitful and mature. In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul describes the people involved in this process: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (v. 11). People with these gifts help to stimulate the growth of each believer as well as to encourage acts of service (the “works” mentioned in verse 12). The goal is that we “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13).

Spiritual growth comes about through the power of the Holy Spirit as we submit to His maturing process. As we follow the guidance of the people He places in our lives, we become more effective as He sends us out to serve.

By: Linda Washington

Reflect & Pray

Who has been most influential to your spiritual growth? In what ways have you been challenged to grow? How can you encourage the growth of someone else?

Loving God, I’m grateful for the tender way You help me to grow.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Hazardous Materials

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 35–36
  • 2 Peter 1

See, this [live coal] has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.

Isaiah 6:7

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 6:1–10

The sound of a siren increased to an ear-piercing level as an emergency vehicle sped by my car. Its flashing lights glared through my windshield, illuminating the words “hazardous materials” printed on the side of the truck. Later, I learned it had been racing to a science laboratory where a 400-gallon container of sulfuric acid had begun to leak. Emergency workers had to contain the substance immediately because of its ability to damage whatever it came in contact with.

As I thought about this news story, I wondered what would happen if sirens blared every time a harsh or critical word “leaked” out of my mouth? Sadly, it might become rather noisy around our house.

The prophet Isaiah shared this sense of awareness about his sin. When he saw God’s glory in a vision, he was overcome by his unworthiness. He recognized that he was “a man of unclean lips” living with people who shared the same problem (Isaiah 6:5). What happened next gives me hope. An angel touched his lips with a red-hot coal, explaining, “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (v. 7).

We have moment-by-moment choices to make with our words—both written and spoken. Will they be “hazardous” material, or will we allow God’s glory to convict us and His grace to heal us so we can honor Him with everything we express?

By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Why do our words have such a powerful effect on others? How might God want to change your speech?

Dear God, help me to see how my words affect other people. Show me how to encourage them.

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Sincere Thank You

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 33–34
  • 1 Peter 5

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 9:1–2, 7–10

In preparation for Xavier’s first job interview, my husband, Alan, handed our son a pack of thank-you cards for him to send out after he met with prospective employers. He then pretended to be a hiring interviewer, using his decades of experience as a manager to ask Xavier questions. After the role-playing, our son tucked several copies of his resume into a folder. He smiled when Alan reminded him about the cards. “I know,” he said. “A sincere thank-you note will set me apart from all the other applicants.”

When the manager called to hire Xavier, he expressed gratitude for the first hand-written thank-you card he’d received in years.

Saying thanks makes a lasting impact. The psalmists’ heartfelt prayers and grateful worship were preserved in the book of Psalms. Though there are one hundred and fifty psalms, these two verses reflect a message of thankfulness: “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1–2).

We will never be able to finish expressing our gratitude for all God’s wonderful deeds. But we can start with a sincere thank you through our prayers. We can nurture a lifestyle of grateful worship, praising God and acknowledging all He’s done and all He promises He’ll do.

By: Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

What would you like to thank God for on this day He’s made? How can writing down prayers of thanks help us cultivate a spirit of gratitude in all circumstances?

Generous and loving God, please help us acknowledge the countless and wonderful ways You work.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Greedy Grasping

 

Bible in a Year:

  • Ezekiel 30–32
  • 1 Peter 4

Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 4:4–8

In the ancient fable The Boy and the Filberts (Nuts), a boy sticks his hand into a jar of nuts and grabs a great fistful. But his hand is so full that it gets stuck in the jar. Unwilling to lose even a little of his bounty, the boy begins to weep. Eventually, he’s counseled to let go of some of the nuts so the jar will let go of his hand. Greed can be a hard boss.

The wise teacher of Ecclesiastes illustrates this moral with a lesson on hands and what they say about us. He compared and contrasted the lazy with the greedy when he wrote: “Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (4:5–6). While the lazy procrastinate until they’re ruined, those who pursue wealth come to realize their efforts are “meaningless—a miserable business!” (v. 8).

According to the teacher, the desired state is to relax from the toil of greedy grasping in order to find contentment in what truly belongs to us. For that which is ours will always remain. As Jesus said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul” (Mark 8:36).

By: Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What are you driven to pursue and grasp? How can you apply the wise words of Ecclesiastes in order to find tranquility?

God, thank You for Your provision and faithful presence in my life. Help me to live in a contented way, exhibiting true gratefulness to You.

 

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Our Daily Bread — He’s Got This

 

Bible in a Year:

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Peter 3:14–18

Pastor Watson Jones remembers learning to ride a bike. His father was walking alongside when little Watson saw some girls sitting on a porch. “Daddy, I got this!” he said. He didn’t. He realized too late he hadn’t learned to balance without his father’s steadying grip. He wasn’t as grown up as he thought.

Our heavenly Father longs for us to grow up and “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). But spiritual maturity is different from natural maturity. Parents raise their children to become independent, to no longer need them. Our divine Father raises us to daily depend on Him more.

Peter begins his letter by promising “grace and peace . . . through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” and he ends by urging us to “grow in” that same “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:2; 3:18). Mature Christians never outgrow their need for Jesus.

Watson warns, “Some of us are busy slapping Jesus’s hands off the handlebars of our life.” As if we didn’t need His strong hands to hold us, to pick us up, and to hug us when we wobble and flop. We can’t grow beyond our dependence on Christ. We only grow by sinking our roots deeper in the grace and knowledge of Him.

By: Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Where do you feel your dependence on Jesus? How is that a sign of maturity?

Jesus, thank You for walking alongside me as I grow in my relationship with You.

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Special Treasure

 

Bible in a Year:

But you are . . . God’s special possession.

1 Peter 2:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Peter 2:4–10

Imagine a vast throne room. Seated on the throne is a great king. He’s surrounded by all manner of attendants, each on their best behavior. Now imagine a box that sits at the king’s feet. From time to time the king reaches down and runs his hands through the contents. And what’s in the box? Jewels, gold, and gemstones particular to the king’s tastes. This box holds the king’s treasures, a collection that brings him great joy. Can you see that image in your mind’s eye?

The Hebrew word for this treasure is segulah, and it means “special possession.” That word is found in such Old Testament Scriptures as Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, and Psalm 135:4, where it refers to the nation of Israel. But that same word picture shows up in the New Testament by way of the pen of Peter the apostle. He’s describing the “people of God,” those who “have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10), a collection now beyond the nation of Israel. In other words, he’s talking about those who believe in Jesus, both Jew and gentile. And he writes “But you are . . . God’s special possession” (v. 9).

Imagine that! The great and powerful King of heaven considers you among His special treasures. He has rescued you from the grip of sin and death. He claims you as His own. The King’s voice says, “This one I love. This one is mine.”

By: John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Can you recall a time when someone genuinely called you “special”? What effect did it have on you? What does it mean for you to know that you’re precious to God?

High King of heaven, my identity is found entirely in You, and You call me Your special treasure. I know this isn’t because of anything I’ve done, but because of everything You are.

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Our Daily Bread — God Talk

 

Bible in a Year:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Deuteronomy 11:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Deuteronomy 11:13–21

A study conducted by the Barna Group in 2018 found that most Americans don’t like to talk about God. Only seven percent of Americans say they talk about spiritual matters regularly—and practicing believers in Jesus in America aren’t that different. Only thirteen percent of regular churchgoers say they have a spiritual conversation about once a week.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that spiritual conversations are on the decline. Talking about God can be dangerous. Whether because of a polarized political climate, because disagreement might cause a rift in a relationship, or because a spiritual conversation might cause you to realize a change you need to make in your life—these can feel like high-stakes conversations.

But in the instructions given to God’s people, the Israelites, in the book of Deuteronomy, talking about God can be a normal, natural part of everyday life. God’s people were to memorize His words and to display them in places where they’d often be seen. The law said to talk about God’s instructions for life with your children “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (11:19).

God calls us to conversation. Take a chance, rely on the Spirit, and try turning your small talk toward something deeper. God will bless our communities as we talk about His words and practice them.

By: Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

What challenges have come to you as a result of spiritual conversations with friends? What blessings?

There’s so much about You, God, that can be shared with others in my life. Lead me as I interact with them.

To learn more about why the Bible endures, visit https://ourdailybreadfilms.org/film/the-bible-why-does-it-endure/.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Approval of One

 

Bible in a Year:

We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Thessalonians 2:1–4

When the legendary composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) was young, a hunger for approval drove him toward success. Warren Wiersbe wrote of him: “When Verdi produced his first opera in Florence, the composer stood by himself in the shadows and kept his eye on the face of one man in the audience—the great Rossini. It mattered not to Verdi whether the people in the hall were cheering him or jeering him; all he wanted was a smile of approval from the master musician.”

Whose approval do we seek? A parent’s? A boss’s? A love interest’s? For Paul, there was but one answer. He wrote, “We speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

What does it mean to seek God’s approval? At the very least, it involves two things: turning from the desire for the applause of others and allowing His Spirit to make us more like Christ—the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. As we yield to His perfect purposes in us and through us, we can anticipate a day when we will experience the smile of His approval—the approval of the One who matters most.

By: Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

Whose approval do you find yourself seeking and why is their validation so important to you? How could God’s approval satisfy even more deeply?

Father, it’s far too easy to seek the applause of those around me and to desire their praise. Help me to lift my eyes to You, the One who knows me best and loves me most. For further study, read Living an Authentic Christian Life at discoveryseries.org/hp111.

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Older Brother

 

Bible in a Year:

[They] muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 15:11–13; 17–24

Author Henri Nouwen recalls his visit to a museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he spent hours reflecting on Rembrandt’s portrayal of the prodigal son. As the day wore on, changes in the natural lighting from a nearby window left Nouwen with the impression that he was seeing as many different paintings as there were changes of light. Each seemed to reveal something else about a father’s love for his broken son.

Nouwen describes how, at about four o’clock, three figures in the painting appeared to “step forward.” One was the older son who resented his father’s willingness to roll out the red carpet for the homecoming of his younger brother, the prodigal. After all, hadn’t he squandered so much of the family fortune, causing them pain and embarrassment in the process? (Luke 15:28–30).

The other two figures reminded Nouwen of the religious leaders who were present as Jesus told His parable. They were the ones who muttered in the background about the sinners Jesus was attracting (vv. 1–2).

Nouwen saw himself in all of them—in the wasted life of his youngest son, in the condemning older brother and religious leaders, and in a Father’s heart that’s big enough for anyone and everyone.

What about us? Can we see ourselves anywhere in Rembrandt’s painting? In some way, every story Jesus told is about us.

By: Mart DeHaan

Reflect & Pray

How might you reflect again on the story Jesus told and on the Rembrandt painting? As the light changes, where do you find yourself?

Father, help me to see myself for how much You love me.  

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Beautifully Burdened

 

Bible in a Year:

My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:30

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 11:28–30

I awoke to pitch darkness. I hadn’t slept more than thirty minutes and my heart sensed that sleep wouldn’t return soon. A friend’s husband lay in the hospital, having received the dreaded news, “The cancer is back—in the brain and spine now.” My whole being hurt for my friends. What a heavy load! And yet, somehow my spirit was lifted through my sacred vigil of prayer. You might say I felt beautifully burdened for them. How could this be?

In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus promises rest for our weary souls. Strangely, His rest comes as we bend under His yoke and embrace His burden. He clarifies in verse 30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we allow Jesus to lift our burden from our backs and then tether ourselves to Jesus’s yoke, we become harnessed with Him, in step with Him and all He allows. When we bend under His burden, we share in His sufferings, which ultimately allows us to share in His comfort as well (2 Corinthians 1:5).

My concern for my friends was a heavy burden. Yet I felt grateful that God would allow me to carry them in prayer. Gradually I ebbed back to sleep and awoke—still beautifully burdened but now under the easy yoke and light load of walking with Jesus.

By: Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What are you carrying today? How will you give that burden to Jesus?

Dear Jesus, please take my heavy load and lay upon me Your beautiful burden for this world.

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Fruitful to the End

 

Bible in a Year:

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.

Psalm 92:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 92:12–15

Although Lenore Dunlop was ninety-four years young, her mind was sharp, her smile was bright, and her contagious love for Jesus was felt by many. It wasn’t uncommon to find her in the company of the youth of our church; her presence and participation were sources of joy and encouragement. Lenore’s life was so vibrant that her death caught us off guard. Like a powerful runner, she sprinted across life’s finish line. Her energy and zeal were such that, just days before her death, she completed a sixteen-week course that focused on taking the message of Jesus to the peoples of the world.

The fruitful, God-honoring life of Lenore illustrates what’s seen in Psalm 92:12–15. This psalm describes the budding, blossoming, and fruit-bearing of those whose lives are rooted in a right relationship with God (vv. 12–13). The two trees pictured were valued for their fruit and wood, respectively; with these the psalmist captures a sense of vitality, prosperity, and usefulness. When we see in our lives the budding and blossoming fruit of loving, sharing, helping, and leading others to Christ, we should rejoice.

Even for those who may be labeled “senior” or “seasoned,” it’s never too late to take root and bear fruit. Lenore’s life was deeply rooted in God through Jesus and testifies to this and to God’s goodness (v. 15). Ours can too.

By: Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

How does your life reflect the fruit found in a growing relationship with Jesus? What can you add or eliminate to help you grow?

Father, give me the strength to bear fruit that clearly demonstrates that my life is rooted in the life of Jesus, Your Son.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — True, Deep Desire

 

Bible in a Year:

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

Mark 10:51

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 10:46–52

A mouse with a shrill voice, Reepicheep is perhaps The Chronicles of Narnia’s most valiant character. He charged into battle swinging his tiny sword. He rejected fear as he prodded on the Dawn Treader toward the Island of Darkness. The secret to Reepicheep’s courage? He was deeply connected to his longing to get to Aslan’s country. “That is my heart’s desire,” he said. Reepicheep knew what he truly wanted, and this led him toward his king.

Bartimaeus, a blind man from Jericho, sat in his normal spot jingling his cup for coins when he heard Jesus and the crowd approaching. He yelled out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). The crowd tried to silence him, but Bartimaeus couldn’t be stopped.

“Jesus stopped,” Mark says (v. 49). In the midst of the throng, Jesus wanted to hear Bartimaeus. “What do you want?” Jesus asked (v. 51).

The answer seemed obvious; surely Jesus knew. But He seemed to believe there was power in allowing Bartimaeus to express his deep desire. “I want to see,” Bartimaeus said (v. 51). And Jesus sent Bartimaeus home seeing colors, beauty, and the faces of friends for the first time.

Not all desires are met immediately (and desires must be transformed), but what’s essential here is how Bartimaeus knew his desire and took it to Jesus. If we’ll pay attention, we’ll notice that our true desires and longings always lead us to Him.

By: Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

What do you truly desire? How might this desire lead you to Jesus?

Jesus, help me to bring my desires to You. What I’m ultimately seeking can only be satisfied by what You alone can provide.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Loving the Stranger

 

Bible in a Year:

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

Exodus 22:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Exodus 23:1–9

After a member of my family converted to a different religion, Christian friends urged me to “convince” her to return to Jesus. I found myself first seeking to love my family member as Christ would—including in public places where some people frowned at her “foreign-looking” clothes. Others even made rude comments. “Go home!” one man yelled at her from his truck, not knowing or apparently caring that she already is “home.”

Moses taught a much kinder way to act toward people whose dress or beliefs feel different. Teaching laws of justice and mercy, Moses instructed the children of Israel, “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). The edict expresses God’s concern for all strangers, people vulnerable to bias and abuse, and it is repeated in Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33.

Therefore, when I spend time with my family member—at a restaurant, in a park, taking a walk together or sitting and talking with her on my front porch—I seek first to show her the same kindness and respect that I would want to experience. It’s one of the best ways to remind her of the sweet love of Jesus, not by shaming her for rejecting Him, but by loving her as He loves all of us—with amazing grace.

By: Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What attitudes do you hold about people who appear “different” or “foreign”? In what ways can you practice God’s edict to not mistreat a “stranger” or “sojourner” in your land?

Gracious Father, open my heart today to a stranger or foreigner in my land, helping them to encounter You.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Easily Entangled

 

Bible in a Year:

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

Hebrews 12:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 2:17–18; 12:1–2

Soldiers fighting in a sweltering jungle many years ago encountered a frustrating problem. Without warning, a pervasive prickly vine would attach itself to the soldiers’ bodies and gear, causing them to be trapped. As they struggled to get free, even more of the plant’s tentacles entangled them. The soldiers dubbed the weed the “wait-a-minute” vine because, once entwined and unable to move forward, they were forced to shout out to other members of their team, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m stuck!”

In a similar way, it’s hard for followers of Jesus to move forward when we’re ensnared by sin. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and “run with perseverance.” But how do we throw off the sin weighing us down?

Jesus is the only one who can free us from pervasive sin in our lives. May we learn to fix our eyes on Him, our Savior (12:2). Because the Son of God became “fully human in every way,” He knows what it’s like to be tempted—yet not sin (2:17–18; 4:15). Alone, we may be desperately entwined by our own sin, but God wants us to overcome temptation. It’s not through our own strength, but His, that we can “throw off” entangling sin and run after His righteousness (1 Corinthians 10:13).

By: Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What sin or sins have a strong hold on you? What can you do to gain freedom from the struggle you’re experiencing?

Jesus, give me Your strength to overcome the sin in my life. Help me to trust in Your power rather than my own and lead me in the right path.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Dad, Where Are You?

 

Bible in a Year:

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Deuteronomy 31:1–8

“Dad! Where are you?”

I was pulling into our driveway when my daughter, panicking, called me on my cell phone. I’d needed to be home by 6:00 to get her to play practice; I was on time. My daughter’s voice, however, betrayed her lack of trust. Reflexively, I responded: “I’m here. Why don’t you trust me?”

But as I spoke those words, I wondered, How often could my heavenly Father ask that of me? In stressful moments, I too am impatient. I too struggle to trust, to believe God will keep His promises. So I cry out: “Father, where are you?”

Amid stress and uncertainty, I sometimes doubt God’s presence, or even His goodness and purposes for me. The Israelites did too. In Deuteronomy 31, they were preparing to enter the Promised Land, knowing their leader, Moses, would stay behind. Moses sought to reassure God’s people by reminding them, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (v. 8).

That promise—that God is always with us—remains a cornerstone of our faith today (see Matthew 1:23; Hebrews 13:5). Indeed, Revelation 21:3 culminates with these words: “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.”

Where is God? He’s right here, right now, right with us—always ready to hear our prayers.

By: Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

What Scripture brings to mind the truth of God’s presence? Place it somewhere easily visible to remind you.

Father, help us to see how much You love us!

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Aiming for the Prize

 

Bible in a Year:

Run in such a way as to get the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Corinthians 9:19–27

In the 1994 fictional movie Forrest Gump, Forrest becomes famous for running. What began as a jog “to the end of the road” continued for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours. Each time he arrived at his destination, he set another one and continued to run, zig-zagging across the United States, until one day when he no longer felt like it. “Feeling like it” was the way his running began. Forrest says, “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.”

In contrast to Forrest’s seemingly whimsical running, the apostle Paul asks his readers to follow his example and “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Like disciplined athletes, our running—the way we live our lives—might mean saying no to some of our pleasures. Being willing to forgo our rights might help us reach others with the good news of our rescue from sin and death.

With our hearts and minds trained on the goal of inviting others to run the race alongside us, we are also assured of the ultimate prize—eternal fellowship with God. The victor’s crown God bestows will last forever; we win it by running our lives with the aim of making Him known while relying on His strength to do so. What a reason to run!

By: Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

What is your “aim” in life? How is it similar to or different than Paul’s?

Jesus, help me stay focused on the reason I run: to share about You with those around me.

 

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