Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Living Well

Bible in a Year:

Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ecclesiastes 7:1–4

Free funerals for the living. That’s the service offered by an establishment in South Korea. Since it opened in 2012, more than 25,000 people—from teenagers to retirees—have participated in mass “living funeral” services, hoping to improve their lives by considering their deaths. Officials say “the simulated death ceremonies are meant to give the participant a truthful sense of their lives, inspire gratitude, and aid in forgiveness and reconnection among family and friends.”

These words echo the wisdom given by the teacher who wrote Ecclesiastes. “Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Death reminds us of the brevity of life and that we only have a certain amount of time to live and love well. It loosens our grip on some of God’s good gifts—such as money, relationships, and pleasure—and frees us to enjoy them in the here and now as we store up “treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).

As we remember that death may come knocking anytime, perhaps it’ll compel us to not postpone that visit with our parents, delay our decision to serve God in a particular way, or compromise our time with our children for our work. With God’s help, we can learn to live wisely.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What changes will you make in your life today as you think about death? How can you be more conscious about death amid the hustle and bustle of life?

Loving God, help me to remember the brevity of life and to live well today.

To learn more about what happens after death.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — God’s Plans for You

Bible in a Year:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 37:3–7

For six years, Agnes tried to make herself the “perfect minister’s wife,” modeling herself after her adored mother-in-law (also a pastor’s wife). She thought that in this role she couldn’t also be a writer and painter, but in burying her creativity she became depressed and contemplated suicide. Only the help of a neighboring pastor moved her out of the darkness as he prayed with her and assigned her two hours of writing each morning. This awakened her to what she called her “sealed orders”—the calling God had given her. She wrote, “For me to be really myself—my complete self—every . . . flow of creativity that God had given me had to find its channel.”

Later, she pointed to one of David’s songs that expressed how she found her calling: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As she committed her way to God, trusting Him to lead and guide her (v. 5), He made a way for her not only to write and paint but to help others to better communicate with Him.

God has a set of “sealed orders” for each of us, not only that we’ll know we’re His beloved children but understand the unique ways we can serve Him through our gifts and passions. He’ll lead us as we trust and delight in Him.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How does Agnes’ story of living someone else’s life resonate with you? What has God put in your “sealed orders”?

Creator God, You’ve made me in Your image. Help me to know and embrace my calling that I might better love and serve You.

Explore how your identity is rooted in Christ.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Beginner’s Guide to Life

Bible in a Year:

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 6:16–23

After my mother’s sudden death, I was motivated to start blogging. I wanted to write posts that would inspire people to use their minutes on earth to create significant life moments. So I turned to a beginner’s guide to blogging. I learned what platform to use, how to choose titles, and how to craft compelling posts. And in 2016, my first blog post was born.

Paul wrote a “beginner’s guide” that explains how to obtain eternal life. In Romans 6:16–18, he contrasts the fact that we’re all born in rebellion to God (sinners) with the truth that Jesus can help us be “set free from [our] sin” (v. 18). Paul then describes the difference between being a slave to sin and a slave to God and His life-giving ways (vv. 19–20). He continues by stating that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (v. 23). Death means being separated from God forever. This is the devastating outcome we face when we reject Christ. But God has offered us a gift in Jesus—new life. It’s the kind of life that begins on earth and continues forever in heaven with Him.

Paul’s beginner’s guide to eternal life leaves us with two choices—choosing sin, which leads to death, or choosing Jesus’ gift, which leads to eternal life. May you receive His gift of life, and if you’ve already accepted Christ, may you share this gift with others today!

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

How would you describe what it means to receive the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ? What’s the difference between being a slave to sin and a slave to God and His life-giving ways?

Jesus, thank You for loving me and forgiving me. You paid a debt I couldn’t pay and gave me a gift I couldn’t buy.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Words that Endure

Bible in a Year:

This word came to Jeremiah from the Lord.

Jeremiah 36:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 36:27–32

In the early nineteenth century, Thomas Carlyle gave a manuscript to philosopher John Stuart Mill to review. Somehow, whether accidentally or intentionally, the manuscript got tossed into a fire. It was Carlyle’s only copy. Undaunted, he set to work rewriting the lost chapters. Mere flames couldn’t stop the story, which remained intact in his mind. Out of great loss, Carlyle produced his monumental work The French Revolution.

In the waning days of ancient Judah’s decadent kingdom, God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you” (Jeremiah 36:2). The message revealed God’s tender heart, calling on His people to repent in order to avoid imminent invasion (v. 3).

Jeremiah did as he was told. The scroll soon found its way to Judah’s king, Jehoiakim, who methodically shredded it and threw it into the fire (vv. 23–25). The king’s act of arson only made matters worse. God told Jeremiah to write another scroll with the same message. He said, “[Jehoiakim] will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night” (v. 30).

It’s possible to burn the words of God by tossing a book into a fire. Possible, but utterly futile. The Word behind the words endures forever.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What has caused you or those you know to ignore the words of God? Why is it vital for you to submit to and obediently follow what He’s instructed?

Father, help me to take Your words to heart, even if they’re difficult to hear. Please give me a heart of repentance—not defiance.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Greatest Teacher

Bible in a Year:

Who was it that taught [the Lord] knowledge?

Isaiah 40:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 40:12–14

“I don’t get it!” My daughter slapped her pencil down on the desk. She was working on a math assignment, and I’d just begun my “job” as a homeschooling mom/teacher. We were in trouble. I couldn’t recall what I’d learned thirty-five years ago about changing decimals into fractions. I couldn’t teach her something I didn’t already know, so we watched an online teacher explain the skill.

As human beings, we’ll struggle at times with things we don’t know or understand. But not God; He’s the all-knowing One—the omniscient One. Isaiah wrote, “Who can . . . instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13–14). The answer? No one!

Humans have intelligence because God created us in His own image. Still, our intelligence is just an inkling of His. Our knowledge is limited, but God knows everything from eternity past to eternity future (Psalm 147:5). Our knowledge is increasing today with the aid of technology, but we still get things wrong. Jesus, however, knows all things “immediately, simultaneously, exhaustively and truly,” as one theologian put it.

No matter how much humans advance in knowledge, we’ll never surpass Christ’s all-knowing status. We’ll always need Him to bless our understanding and to teach us what’s good and true.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

In what types of situations are you thankful for God’s omniscience? How does knowing that Jesus understands everything encourage you?

Jesus, I praise You as the One who knows everything. Teach me what You want me to learn, and help me to love You with all my mind.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — At the King’s Table

Bible in a Year:

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

2 Samuel 9:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Samuel 9:6–13

“He’ll live,” the vet announced, “but his leg will have to be amputated.” The stray mongrel my friend had brought in had been run over by a car. “Are you the owner?” There would be a hefty surgery bill, and the puppy would need care as it recovered. “I am now,” my friend replied. Her kindness has given that dog a future in a loving home.

Mephibosheth saw himself as a “dead dog,” unworthy of favor (2 Samuel 9:8). Being lame in both feet due to an accident, he was dependent on others to protect and provide for him (see 4:4). Furthermore, after the death of his grandfather, King Saul, he probably feared that David, the new king, would order all enemies and rivals to the throne killed, as was the common practice of the time.

Yet, out of love for his friend Jonathan, David ensured that Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth would always be safe and cared for as his own son (9:7). In the same way, we who were once God’s enemies, marked for death, have been saved by Jesus and given a place with Him in heaven forever. That’s what it means to eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God that Luke describes in his gospel (Luke 14:15). Here we are—the sons and daughters of a King! What extravagant, undeserved kindness we’ve received! Let’s draw near to God in gratitude and joy.

By:  Karen Kwek

Reflect & Pray

When are you likely to forget that God protects and cares for you? How could 2 Samuel 9:6–13 encourage you during such times?

Dear Jesus, thank You for saving me and giving me a place at Your table forever. Remind me that I’m Your dear child, and help me to always praise and trust You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — For Others’ Sake

Bible in a Year:

All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

Romans 14:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 14:13–21

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Singaporeans stayed home to avoid being infected. But I blissfully continued swimming, believing it was safe.

My wife, however, feared that I might pick up an infection at the public pool and pass it on to her aged mother—who, like other seniors, was more vulnerable to the virus. “Can you just avoid swimming for some time, for my sake?” she asked.

At first, I wanted to argue that there was little risk. Then I realized that this mattered less than her feelings. Why would I insist on swimming—hardly an essential thing—when it made her worry unnecessarily?

In Romans 14, Paul addressed issues like whether believers in Christ should eat certain foods or celebrate certain festivals. He was concerned that some people were imposing their views on others.

Paul reminded the church in Rome, and us, that believers in Jesus may view situations differently. We also have diverse backgrounds that color our attitudes and practices. He wrote, “Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (v. 13).

God’s grace gives us great freedom even as it helps us express His love to fellow believers. We can use that freedom to put the spiritual needs of others above our own convictions about rules and practices that don’t contradict the essential truths found in the gospel (v. 20).

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

What are some of the rules and practices you keep as a believer in Christ? How might they affect other believers who think differently?

Jesus, give me the grace to give way on things that don’t contradict the gospel truth and the love to put the feelings of others above my own.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — What’s Your Name?

Bible in a Year:

I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it.

Revelation 2:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Revelation 2:12–17

Someone said we go through life with three names: the name our parents gave us, the name others give us (our reputation), and the name we give ourselves (our character). The name others give us matters, as “a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). But while reputation is important, character matters more.

There’s yet another name that’s even more important. Jesus told the Christians in Pergamum that though their reputation had suffered some well-deserved hits, He had a new name reserved in heaven for those who fight back and conquer temptation. “To the one who is victorious, I will give . . . a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).

We aren’t sure why Jesus promised a white stone. Is it an award for winning? A token for admission to the messianic banquet? Perhaps it’s similar to what jurors once used to vote for acquittal. We simply don’t know. Whatever it is, God promises our new name will wipe away our shame (see Isaiah 62:1–5).

Our reputation may be tattered, and our character may be seemingly beyond repair. But neither name ultimately defines us. It’s not what others call you nor even what you call yourself that matters. You are who Jesus says you are. Live into your new name.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How does your reputation match up against your character? How well is your character reflecting who you are in Jesus?

Father, I believe I am who You say I am. Help me to live as Your child.

To better understand the book of Revelation.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — All That You Need

Bible in a Year:

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 73:23–28

Seated at the dining room table, I gazed at the happy chaos around me. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews were enjoying the food and being together at our family reunion. I was enjoying it all, too. But one thought pierced my heart: You’re the only woman here with no children, with no family to call your own.

Many single women like me have similar experiences. In my culture, an Asian culture where marriage and children are highly valued, not having a family of one’s own can bring a sense of incompleteness. It can feel like you’re lacking something that defines who you are and makes you whole.

That’s why the truth of God being my “portion” is so comforting to me (Psalm 73:26). When the tribes of Israel were given their allotments of land, the priestly tribe of Levi was assigned none. Instead, God promised that He Himself would be their portion and inheritance (Deuteronomy 10:9). They could find complete satisfaction in Him and trust Him to supply their every need.

For some of us, the sense of lack may have nothing to do with family. Perhaps we yearn for a better job or higher academic achievement. Regardless of our circumstances, we can embrace God as our portion. He makes us whole. In Him, we have no lack.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What’s one thing lacking in your life that you feel would make you whole? How can you surrender it to God and find satisfaction in Him as your portion?

Father, thank You for making me complete in Christ. Help me to say along with the psalmist, “As for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28).

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Joyful Learning

Bible in a Year:

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 12:1–3

In the city of Mysore, India, there’s a school made of two refurbished train cars connected end-to-end. Local educators teamed up with the South Western Railway Company to buy and remodel the discarded coaches. The units were essentially large metal boxes, unusable until workers installed stairways, fans, lights, and desks. Workers also painted the walls and added colorful murals inside and out. Now, sixty students attend classes there because of the amazing transformation that took place.

Something even more amazing takes place when we follow the apostle Paul’s command to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). As we allow the Holy Spirit to uncouple us from the world and its ways, our thoughts and attitudes begin to change. We become more loving, more hopeful, and filled with inner peace (8:6).

Something else happens too. Although this transformation process is ongoing, and often has more stops and starts than a train ride, the process helps us understand what God wants for our lives. It takes us to a place where we “will learn to know God’s will” (12:2 nlt). Learning His will may or may not involve specifics, but it always involves aligning ourselves with His character and His work in the world.

Nali Kali, the name of the transformed school in India, means “joyful learning” in English. How’s God’s transforming power leading you to the joyful learning of His will?

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Which areas of your thought life are most in need of God’s transforming power? How willing are you to act when you clearly understand His will for your life?

Dear God, I invite You to transform me by renewing my mind today. Thank You for all that’s possible when I surrender to You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Flight of Ichabod

Bible in a Year:

The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.

1 Samuel 4:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Samuel 4:12–22

In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving tells of Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher who seeks to marry a beautiful young woman named Katrina. Key to the story is a headless horseman who haunts the colonial countryside. One night, Ichabod encounters a ghostly apparition on horseback and flees the region in terror. It’s clear to the reader that this “horseman” is actually a rival suitor for Katrina, who then marries her.

Ichabod is a name first seen in the Bible, and it too has a gloomy backstory. While at war with the Philistines, Israel carried the sacred ark of the covenant into battle. Bad move. Israel’s army was routed and the ark captured. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the high priest Eli, were killed (1 Samuel 4:17). Eli too would die (v. 18). When the pregnant wife of Phinehas heard the news, “she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains” (v. 19). With her last words she named her son Ichabod (literally, “no glory”). “The Glory has departed from Israel,” she gasped (v. 22).  

Thankfully, God was unfolding a much larger story. His glory would ultimately be revealed in Jesus, who said of His disciples, “I have given them the glory that you [the Father] gave me” (John 17:22).

No one knows where the ark is today, but no matter. Ichabod has fled. Through Jesus, God has given us His very glory!

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What do you think it means for God to give us His glory? How have you experienced it?

Dear Father, thank You for revealing Your glory through Jesus. Make me mindful of Your presence throughout this day.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Unlimited

Bible in a Year:

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary.

Isaiah 40:28

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 40:21–28

There I am, sitting in the shopping mall food court, my body tense and my stomach knotted over looming work deadlines. As I unwrap my burger and take a bite, people rush around me, fretting over their own tasks. How limited we all are, I think to myself, limited in time, energy, and capacity.

I consider writing a new to-do list and prioritizing the urgent tasks, but as I pull out a pen another thought enters my mind: a thought of One who is infinite and unlimited, who effortlessly accomplishes all that He desires.

This God, Isaiah says, can measure the oceans in the hollow of His hand and collect the dust of the earth in a basket (Isaiah 40:12). He names the stars of the heavens and directs their path (v. 26), knows the rulers of the world and oversees their careers (v. 23), considers islands mere specks of dust and the nations like drops in the sea (v. 15). “To whom will you compare me?” He asks (v. 25). “The Lord is the everlasting God,” Isaiah replies. “He will not grow tired or weary” (v. 28).

Stress and strain are never good for us, but on this day they deliver a powerful lesson. The unlimited God is not like me. He accomplishes everything He wishes. I finish my burger, and then pause once more. And silently worship.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How will you draw on God’s unlimited strength today? (vv. 29–31). In the midst of your tasks and deadlines, how will you pause to worship the infinite One?

Loving God, You’re the unlimited One who’ll accomplish all You’ve promised.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Whatevers

Bible in a Year:

Brothers and sisters, whatever . . . is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Philippians 4:1–9

Every Friday evening, the national news my family views concludes the broadcast by highlighting an uplifting story. In contrast to the rest of the news, it’s always a breath of fresh air. A recent “good” Friday story focused on a reporter who had suffered from COVID-19, fully recovered, and then decided to donate plasma to possibly help others in their fight against the virus. At the time, the jury was still out on how effective antibodies would be. But when many of us felt helpless and even in light of the discomfort of donating plasma (via needle), she felt it “was a small price to pay for the potential payoff.”

After that Friday broadcast, my family and I felt encouraged—dare I say hope-filled. That’s the power of the “whatevers” Paul described in Philippians 4: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (v. 8). Did Paul have in mind plasma donation? Of course not. But did he have in mind sacrificial actions on behalf of someone in need—in other words, Christlike behavior? I’ve no doubt the answer is yes.

But that hopeful news wouldn’t have had its full effect if it hadn’t been broadcast. It’s our privilege as witnesses to God’s goodness to look and listen for the “whatevers” all around us and then share that good news with others that they may be encouraged.  

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What’s a “whatever” story that’s encouraged you lately? Who might want or need to hear your story?

Father, I know that behind whatever is excellent and praiseworthy is You. I love You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Frolicking in Freedom

Bible in a Year:

You will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.

Malachi 4:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Malachi 4:1–3

A third-generation farmer, Jim was so moved when he read “You who revere my name . . . will go out and frolic like well-fed calves” (Malachi 4:2) that he prayed to receive Jesus’ offer of eternal life. Vividly recalling his own calves’ leaps of excitement after exiting their confined stalls at high speed, Jim finally understood God’s promise of true freedom.

Jim’s daughter told me this story because we’d been discussing the imagery in Malachi 4, where the prophet made a distinction between those who revered God’s name, or remained faithful to Him, and those who only trusted in themselves (4:1–2). The prophet was encouraging the Israelites to follow God at a time when so many, including the religious leaders, disregarded God and His standards for faithful living (1:12–14; 3:5–9). Malachi called the people to live faithfully because of a coming time when God would make the final distinction between these two groups. In this context, Malachi used the unexpected imagery of a frolicking calf to describe the unspeakable joy that the faithful group will experience when “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays” (4:2).

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this promise, bringing the good news that true freedom is available to all people (Luke 4:16–21). And one day, in God’s renewed and restored creation, we’ll experience this freedom fully. What indescribable joy it will be to frolic there!

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced freedom in Jesus? What other images help you to visualize joy?

Jesus, help me to live joyfully as I remember the freedom only You provide.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — No Misunderstanding

Bible in a Year:

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.

Romans 8:28

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 8:26–30

Alexa, Siri, and other voice assistants embedded in smart devices in our homes occasionally misunderstand what we’re saying. A six-year-old talked to her family’s new device about cookies and a dollhouse. Later her mom received an email saying that an order of seven pounds of cookies and a $170 dollhouse were on their way to her home. Even a talking parrot in London, whose owner had never bought anything online, somehow ordered a package of golden gift boxes without her knowledge. One person asked their device to “turn on the living room lights,” and it replied, “There is no pudding room.”

There’s no such misunderstanding on God’s part when we talk with Him. He’s never confused, because He knows our hearts better than we do. The Spirit both searches our hearts and understands God’s will. The apostle Paul told the churches in Rome that God promises He’ll accomplish His good purpose of maturing us and making us more like His Son (Romans 8:28–29). Even when because of “our weakness” we don’t know what we need in order to grow, the Spirit prays according to God’s will for us (vv. 26–27).

Troubled about how to express yourself to God? Not understanding what or how to pray? Say what you can from the heart. The Spirit will understand and accomplish God’s purpose.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What’s on your mind right now that you should share with God? How are you encouraged by the truth that He knows and understands what you’re facing?

Thank You, God, that You know my heart. I love You for that and many other reasons. Help me to express my thoughts to You and to trust You to understand.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Truth, Lies, and Vigilantes

Bible in a Year:

Do not spread false reports.

Exodus 23:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Exodus 23:1–9

During the 2018 baseball season, a Chicago Cubs coach wanted to give a baseball to a young boy sitting by the dugout. But when the coach tossed the ball toward him, a man scooped it up instead. Video of the event went viral. News outlets and social media skewered this “brute” of a man. Except viewers didn’t know the whole story. Earlier, the man had helped the young boy snag a foul ball, and they agreed to share any additional balls that came their way. Unfortunately, it took twenty-four hours before the true story emerged. The mob had already done its damage, demonizing an innocent man.

Too often, we think we have all the facts when we only have fragments. In our modern gotcha culture, with snippets of dramatic video and inflamed tweets, it’s easy to condemn people without hearing the full story. However, Scripture warns us not to “spread false reports” (Exodus 23:1). We must do everything possible to confirm the truth before leveling accusations, making sure not to participate in lies. We should be cautious whenever a vigilante spirit takes hold, whenever passions ignite and waves of judgment swell. We want to safeguard ourselves from “follow[ing] the crowd in doing wrong” (v. 2).

 As believers in Jesus, may God help us not to spread falsehoods. May He provide what we need to exhibit wisdom and to make certain our words are actually true.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Take a moment to recollect a time when someone was falsely accused. What was the damage, and how was the wrong made right?

God, with things moving so fast these days, it’s often hard to know what’s real. Help me to listen, pay attention, and speak only the truth. 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — An Unexpected Guest

Bible in a Year:

[Jesus said], “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Luke 19:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 19:1–10

Zach was a lonely guy. When he walked down the city streets, he could feel the hostile glares. But then his life took a turn. Clement of Alexandria, one of the church fathers, says that Zach became a very prominent Christian leader and a pastor of the church in Caesarea. Yes, we’re talking about Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:1–10).

What prompted him to climb the tree? Tax collectors were perceived as traitors because they heavily taxed their own people to serve the Roman Empire. Yet Jesus had a reputation for accepting them. Zacchaeus might have wondered if Jesus would accept him too. Being short in stature, however, he couldn’t see over the crowd (v. 3). Perhaps he climbed a tree to seek Him out.

And Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus too. When Christ reached the tree where he was perched, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). Jesus considered it absolutely necessary that He be a guest in this outcast’s home. Imagine that! The Savior of the world wanting to spend time with a social reject.

Whether it’s our hearts, relationships, or lives that need mending, like Zacchaeus we can have hope. Jesus will never reject us when we turn to Him. He can restore what’s been lost and broken and give our lives new meaning and purpose.

By:  Poh Fang Chia

Reflect & Pray

What relationships in your life can Jesus help restore? What will it mean for you to be restored by Him?

Jesus, thank You for seeking me when I was lost in sin and for redeeming my messed-up life.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Move Your Fence

Bible in a Year:

See, I am doing a new thing!

Isaiah 43:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 43:18–21

The village vicar couldn’t sleep. As World War II raged, he’d told a small group of American soldiers they couldn’t bury their fallen comrade inside the fenced cemetery next to his church. Only burials for church members were allowed. So the men buried their beloved friend just outside the fence.

The next morning, however, the soldiers couldn’t find the grave. “What happened? The grave is gone,” one soldier told the reverend. “Oh, it’s still there,” he told him. The soldier was confused, but the churchman explained. “I regretted telling you no. So, last night, I got up—and I moved the fence.”

God may give fresh perspective for our life challenges too—if we look for it. That was the prophet Isaiah’s message to the downtrodden people of Israel. Instead of looking back with longing at their Red Sea rescue, they needed to shift their sight, seeing God doing new miracles, blazing new paths. “Do not dwell on the past,” He urged them. “See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18–19). He’s our source of hope during doubts and battles. “I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, [providing] drink to my people, my chosen [people]” (v. 20). 

Refreshed with new vision, we too can see God’s fresh direction in our lives. May we look with new eyes to see His new paths. Then, with courage, may we step onto new ground, bravely following Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What new thing would God like to accomplish in your life? What new ground has God led you to and what will you do with it?

Merciful God, thank You for providing fresh perspective for my life in You. Refresh my sight to see new ground to walk with You.

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Our Daily Bread — From Mess to Message

Bible in a Year:

Tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Mark 5:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 5:1–20

Darryl was a baseball legend who nearly destroyed his life with drugs. But Jesus set him free, and he’s been clean for years. Today he helps others struggling with addiction and points them to faith. Looking back, he affirms that God turned his mess into a message.

Nothing is too hard for God. When Jesus came ashore near a cemetery after a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, a man possessed by darkness immediately approached Him. Jesus spoke to the demons inside him, drove them away, and set him free.

When Jesus left, the man begged to go along. But Jesus didn’t allow it, because He had work for him to do: “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you” (Mark 5:19).

We never see the man again, but Scripture shows us something intriguing. The people of that region had fearfully pleaded with Jesus “to leave” (v. 17), but the next time He returned there, a large crowd gathered (8:1). Could the crowd have resulted from Jesus sending the man home? Could it be that he, once dominated by darkness, became one of the first missionaries, effectively communicating Jesus’ power to save?

We’ll never know this side of heaven, but this much is clear. When God sets us free to serve Him, He can turn even a messy past into a message of hope and love.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What has Jesus set you free from? How can you share with others what He’s done for you?

Beautiful Savior, I praise You for Your amazing power! No darkness can stand against You! Help me to walk in Your light today.

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Molded Instruments

Bible in a Year:

We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 64:5–9

Considered one of the greatest video games ever made, Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has sold more than seven million copies worldwide. It’s also popularized the ocarina, a tiny, ancient, potato-shaped musical instrument made of clay.

The ocarina doesn’t look like much of a musical instrument. However, when it’s played—by blowing into its mouthpiece and covering various holes around its misshapen body—it produces a strikingly serene and hauntingly hopeful sound. 

The ocarina’s maker took a lump of clay, applied pressure and heat to it, and transformed it into an amazing musical instrument. I see a picture of God and us here. Isaiah 64:68–9 tells us: “All of us have become like one who is unclean. . . . Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter. . . . Do not be angry beyond measure.” The prophet was saying: God, You’re in charge. We’re all sinful. Shape us into beautiful instruments for You.

That’s exactly what God does! In His mercy, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sin, and now He’s shaping and transforming us as we walk in step with His Spirit every day. Just as the ocarina maker’s breath flows through the instrument to produce beautiful music, God works through us—His molded instruments—to accomplish His beautiful will: to be more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

By:  Ruth Wan

Reflect & Pray

How can knowing that you’re a recipient of God’s mercy affect what you think, say, and do today? How can you submit yourself to His transformation?

Father, thank You for saving me and transforming me so that I’ll become more like Your Son, Jesus. Teach me to submit to Your Spirit’s work of transforming me.

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