Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Haystack Prayers

 

Bible in a Year:

You help us by your prayers.

2 Corinthians 1:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 1:8–11

Samuel Mills and four of his friends often gathered together to pray for God to send more people to share the good news of Jesus. One day in 1806, after returning from their prayer meeting, they got caught in a thunderstorm and took refuge in a haystack. Their weekly prayer gathering then became known as the Haystack Prayer Meeting, which resulted in a global mission movement. Today the Haystack Prayer Monument stands at Williams College in the US as a reminder of what God can do through prayer.

Our heavenly Father is delighted when His children approach Him with a common request. It’s like a family gathering where they’re united in purpose, sharing a common burden.

The apostle Paul acknowledges how God helped him through the prayers of others during a time of severe suffering: “He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10–11). God has chosen to use our prayers—especially our prayers together—to accomplish His work in the world. No wonder the verse continues: “Then many will give thanks . . . [for the] answer to the prayers of many.”

Let’s pray together so we can also rejoice together in God’s goodness. Our loving Father is waiting for us to come to Him so He can work through us in ways that reach far beyond anything we could ever imagine.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What request can you and others pray for? How has your faith been strengthened when you pray with others?

Father, help us to pray together even as we work together. 

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Strengthened in Song

 

Bible in a Year:

I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress.

Psalm 59:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Psalm 59:1, 14–17

When French villagers helped Jewish refugees hide from the Nazis during World War II, some sang songs in the dense forest surrounding their town—letting the refugees know it was safe to come out from hiding. These brave townspeople of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon had answered the call of local pastor André Trocmé and his wife, Magda, to offer wartime refuge to Jews on their windswept plateau known as “La Montagne Protestante.” Their musical signal became just one feature of the villagers’ bravery that helped save up to 3,000 Jews from almost certain death.

In another dangerous time, David sang when his enemy Saul sent nighttime assassins to his house. His use of music wasn’t a signal; rather, it was his song of gratitude to God his refuge. David rejoiced, “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

Such singing isn’t “whistling in the dark” during danger. Instead, David’s singing conveyed his trust in almighty God. “You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely” (v. 17).

David’s praise, and the villagers’ singing in Le Chambon, offer an invitation to bless God today with our singing, making melody to Him despite the worries of life. His loving presence will respond, strengthening our hearts.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How do you feel when you’re singing your favorite praise song? Why do praise songs inspire us to feel stronger?

Dear God, strengthen my heart with praises that transform my fears and worries into worship of You.

 

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Our Daily Bread — False Places of Safety

 

Bible in a Year :Song of Songs 6–8; Galatians 4

The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!

Mark 1:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Mark 1:9–15

When our dog Rupert was a puppy, he was so afraid of going outside I’d have to drag him to the park. After getting him there one day, I foolishly let him off his leash. He sprinted home, back to his place of safety.

That experience reminded me of a man I met on a plane, who began apologizing to me as we taxied down the runway. “I’m going to get drunk on this flight,” he said. “It sounds like you don’t want to,” I replied. “I don’t,” he said, “but I always run back to the wine.” He got drunk, and the saddest part was watching his wife embrace him when he got off the plane, smell his breath, then push him away. Drink was his place of safety, but it was no safe place at all.

Jesus began His mission with the words, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). “Repent” means to reverse direction. The “kingdom of God” is His loving rule over our lives. Instead of running to places that entrap us, or being ruled by fears and addictions, Jesus says we can be ruled by God Himself, who lovingly leads us to new life and freedom.

Today Rupert runs to the park barking with joy. I pray the man on the plane finds that same joy and freedom, leaving behind his false place of safety.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

What false place of safety do you run to in times of fear or stress? How will you leave it behind today and place yourself under God’s freeing rule?

Jesus, forgive me for running to anything but You in search of life and happiness. I turn away from those things now, and turn my life over to You. Lead me to real freedom.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Shield Around Me

 

Bible in a Year :Song of Songs 1–3; Galatians 2

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

Psalm 3:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 3

Our church experienced an agonizing loss when Paul, our gifted worship minister, died at the age of thirty-one in a boating accident. Paul and his wife, DuRhonda, were no strangers to pain; they had buried several children who hadn’t made it to term. Now there would be another grave near the small graves of these little ones. The life-crushing crisis this family experienced hit those who loved them like a knockout blow to the head.

David was no stranger to personal and family crises. In Psalm 3, he found himself overwhelmed because of the rebellion of his son Absalom. Rather than stay and fight, he chose to flee his home and throne (2 Samuel 15:13–23). Though “many” considered him forsaken by God (Psalm 3:2), David knew better; he saw the Lord as his protector (v. 3), and he called upon Him accordingly (v. 4). And so did DuRhonda. In the midst of her grief, when hundreds had gathered to remember her husband, she raised her soft, tender voice in a song that expressed confidence in God.

When doctors’ reports are not encouraging, when financial pressures won’t ease up, when efforts to reconcile relationships fail, when death has left those we cherish in its wake—may we too be strengthened to say, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (v. 3).

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

How did you respond the last time you found yourself in an overwhelming situation? How does knowing God is a shield around you help?

Heavenly Father, help me to see that though life can be uncomfortable, I can find comfort in You.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Guiding Light

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 143–145; 1 Corinthians 14:21–40

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Genesis 1:1–5

The restaurant was lovely but dark. Only one small candle flickered on every table. To create light, diners used their smartphones to read their menus, look to their tablemates, and even to see what they were eating.

Finally, a patron quietly pushed back his chair, walked over to a waiter, and asked a simple question. “Could you turn on the lights?” Before long, a warm ceiling light flashed on and the room erupted with applause. But also with laughter. And happy chatter. And thank-yous. My friend’s husband turned off his phone, picked up his utensils, and spoke for us all. “Let there be light! Now, let’s eat!”

Our gloomy evening turned festive with the flick of a switch. But how much more important to know the real source of true light. God Himself spoke those astonishing words, “Let there be light,” on the first day when He created the universe, “and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). Then “God saw that the light was good” (v. 4).

Light expresses God’s great love for us. His light points us to Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12), who guides us from the gloom of sin. Walking in His light, we find the bright path to a life that glorifies the Son. He is the world’s brightest gift. As He shines, may we walk His way.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

In what situation do you need Christ’s light to shine? When has His light guided you?

Loving God, we thank You for Jesus, the Light of the World, and the guiding light of His great love.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — It’s Slippery Out Here!

 

Bible in a Year :Psalms 140–142; 1 Corinthians 14:1–20

Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil.

Psalm 141:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 141

Years ago, when I was learning to ski, I followed my son Josh down what appeared to be a gentle slope. With my eyes on him I failed to notice he turned down the steepest hill on the mountain, and I found myself careening down the slope, completely out of control. I cratered, of course.

Psalm 141 shows how we can easily find ourselves slipping down sin’s slope. Prayer is one of the ways we stay alert to those slopes: “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil” (v. 4) is a plea that echoes the Lord’s Prayer almost exactly: “Lead [me] not into temptation, but deliver [me] from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). In His goodness, God hears and answers this prayer.

And then I find in this psalm another agent of grace: a faithful friend. “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it” (Psalm 141:5). Temptations are subtle. We’re not always aware that we’re going wrong. A true friend can be objective. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6 nkjv). It’s hard to accept rebuke, but if we see the wounding as a “kindness” it can become an anointing that puts us back on the path of obedience.

May we be open to truth from a trusted friend and rely on God through prayer.

By:  David H. Roper

Reflect & Pray

What slippery slopes do you gravitate toward? In what ways can you set a guard over your heart?

Father, please keep my feet from straying. Help me to listen to You and good friends.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Another Chance

 

Bible in a Year :Psalm 119:89–176; 1 Corinthians 8

Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Micah 7:19 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Micah 7:1–3, 18–20

At the Second Chance Bike Shop near our neighborhood, volunteers rebuild cast-off bicycles and donate them to needy kids. Shop founder Ernie Clark also donates bikes to needy adults, including the homeless, the disabled, and military veterans struggling to make it in civilian life. Not only do the bicycles get a second chance but sometimes the recipients get a new start too. One veteran used his new bike to get to a job interview.

Second chances can transform a person’s life, especially when the second chance comes from God. The prophet Micah extoled such grace during a time the nation of Israel groveled in bribery, fraud, and other despicable sins. As Micah lamented, “The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth” (Micah 7:2 nlt).

God would rightly punish evil, Micah knew. But being loving, He would give those who repented another chance. Humbled by such love, Micah asked, “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people?” (v. 18 nlt).

We too can rejoice that God doesn’t abandon us because of our sins if we ask for forgiveness. As Micah declared of God, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (v. 19 nlt). God’s love gives second chances to all who seek Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What sin will you repent of and gain a second chance from our loving God?

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the grace of second chances.

 

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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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