Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Trustworthy Love

Bible in a Year:

Love does no harm.

Romans 13:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Romans 12:9–21

Why can’t I stop thinking about it? My emotions were a tangled mess of sadness, guilt, anger, and confusion.

Years ago, I’d made the painful decision to cut ties with someone close to me, after attempts to address deeply hurtful behavior were merely met with dismissal and denial. Today, after hearing she was in town visiting, my thoughts had spiraled into hashing and rehashing the past.

As I struggled to calm my thoughts, I heard a song playing on the radio. The song expressed not just the anguish of betrayal, but also a profound longing for change and healing in the person who’d caused harm. Tears filled my eyes as I soaked in the haunting ballad giving voice to my own deepest longings.

“Love must be sincere,” the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:9, a reminder that not all that passes for love is genuine. Yet our heart’s deepest longing is to know real love—love that isn’t self-serving or manipulative, but compassionate and self-giving. Love that’s not a fear-driven need for control but a joyful commitment to each other’s well-being (vv. 10–13).

And that’s the good news, the gospel. Because of Jesus, we can finally know and share a love we can trust—a love that will never cause us harm (13:10). To live in His love is to be free.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced or seen a difference between sincere and self-serving love? How can a community of faith help us learn to love others wholeheartedly?

Loving God, help me to learn the difference between real and counterfeit love and to share Christ’s love with those around me.

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Our Daily Bread — Pride and Deception

Bible in a Year:

The pride of your heart has deceived you.

Obadiah 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Obadiah 1:1-4

Loving God, thank You for Your gentle, nudging correction. With my shoulders slumped, I murmured those difficult words. I’ve been so arrogant, thinking I could do it all on my own. For months, I’d been enjoying successful work projects, and the accolades lulled me into trusting my capabilities and rejecting God’s leading. It took a challenging project for me to realize I wasn’t as smart as I thought. My proud heart had deceived me into believing I didn’t need God’s help.

The powerful kingdom of Edom received discipline from God for its pride. Edom was located amid mountainous terrain, making her seemingly invulnerable to enemies (Obadiah 1:3). Edom was also a wealthy nation, situated at the center of strategic trade routes and rich in copper, a highly valued commodity in the ancient world. It was full of good things yet also full of pride. Its citizens believed their kingdom was invincible, even as they oppressed God’s people (vv. 10–14). But God used the prophet Obadiah to tell them of His judgment. Nations would rise up against Edom, and the once-powerful kingdom would be defenseless and humiliated (vv. 1–2).

Pride deceives us into thinking we can live life on our terms, without God. It makes us feel invulnerable to authority, correction, and weakness. But God calls us to humble ourselves before Him (1 Peter 5:6). As we turn from our pride and choose repentance, God will guide us toward total trust in Him.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What happens when blessings in your life become sources of pride? How can pride deceive you?

Father, protect me from pride. Please give me a humble heart.

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Our Daily Bread — Investing in Others

Bible in a Year:

Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.

Luke 16:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 16:1–12

When a corporation offered one thousand frequent-flier miles for every ten purchases of one of their foods, one man realized their cheapest product was individual cups of chocolate pudding. He bought more than twelve thousand. For $3,000, he received gold status and a lifetime supply of air miles for himself and his family. He also donated the pudding to charity, which netted him an $800 tax write-off. Genius!

Jesus told a controversial parable about a cunning manager who, as he was being fired, reduced what debtors owed his master. The man knew he could rely on their help later for the favor he was doing them now. Jesus wasn’t praising the manager’s unethical business practice, but He knew we could learn from his ingenuity. Jesus said we should shrewdly “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). As “the pudding guy” turned twenty-five cent desserts into flights, so we may use our “worldly wealth” to gain “true riches” (v. 11).

What are these riches? Jesus said, “Give to the poor” and you will “provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (12:33). Our investment doesn’t earn our salvation, but it does affirm it, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 34).

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How have you recently helped meet someone’s physical needs? Why is your charity an investment?

Loving God, help me to invest in the poor, for Jesus’ sake and Yours.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Pride and Deception

Bible in a Year:

The pride of your heart has deceived you.

Obadiah 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Obadiah 1:1-4

Loving God, thank You for Your gentle, nudging correction. With my shoulders slumped, I murmured those difficult words. I’ve been so arrogant, thinking I could do it all on my own. For months, I’d been enjoying successful work projects, and the accolades lulled me into trusting my capabilities and rejecting God’s leading. It took a challenging project for me to realize I wasn’t as smart as I thought. My proud heart had deceived me into believing I didn’t need God’s help.

The powerful kingdom of Edom received discipline from God for its pride. Edom was located amid mountainous terrain, making her seemingly invulnerable to enemies (Obadiah 1:3). Edom was also a wealthy nation, situated at the center of strategic trade routes and rich in copper, a highly valued commodity in the ancient world. It was full of good things yet also full of pride. Its citizens believed their kingdom was invincible, even as they oppressed God’s people (vv. 10–14). But God used the prophet Obadiah to tell them of His judgment. Nations would rise up against Edom, and the once-powerful kingdom would be defenseless and humiliated (vv. 1–2).

Pride deceives us into thinking we can live life on our terms, without God. It makes us feel invulnerable to authority, correction, and weakness. But God calls us to humble ourselves before Him (1 Peter 5:6). As we turn from our pride and choose repentance, God will guide us toward total trust in Him.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

What happens when blessings in your life become sources of pride? How can pride deceive you?

Father, protect me from pride. Please give me a humble heart.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Divine Tenderness

Bible in a Year:

[Elijah] looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

1 Kings 19:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Kings 19:4–10, 15–18

I once heard a businessman describe his years in college as a time when he often felt “helpless and hopeless” from bouts of depression. Sadly, he never talked to a doctor about these feelings, but instead started making more drastic plans—ordering a book on suicide from his local library and setting a date to take his life.

God cares for the helpless and hopeless. We see this in His treatment of biblical characters during their own dark times. When Jonah wanted to die, God engaged him in tender conversation (Jonah 4:3–10). When Elijah asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4), God provided bread and water to refresh him (vv. 5–9), spoke gently to him (vv. 11–13), and helped him see he wasn’t as alone as he thought (v. 18). God approaches the downhearted with tender, practical help.

The library notified the student when his book on suicide was ready to collect. But in a mix-up, the note went to his parents’ address instead. When his mother called him, distraught, he realized the devastation his suicide would bring. Without that address mix-up, he says, he wouldn’t be here today.

I don’t believe that student was saved by luck or chance. Whether it’s bread and water when we need it, or a timely wrong address, when mysterious intervention saves our lives, we’ve encountered divine tenderness.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How has God come through for you in a time of desperation? Where else have you seen divine tenderness in action?

Loving God, I praise You for Your tender, practical care for the helpless and hopeless.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Set Apart

Bible in a Year:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.

Matthew 11:29

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ephesians 4:29–32

In November 1742, a riot broke out in Staffordshire, England, to protest against the gospel message Charles Wesley was preaching. It seems Charles and his brother John were changing some longstanding church traditions, and that was too much for many of the townsfolk.

When John Wesley heard about the riot, he hurried to Staffordshire to help his brother. Soon an unruly crowd surrounded the place where John was staying. Courageously, he met face to face with their leaders, speaking with them so serenely that one by one their anger was assuaged.

Wesley’s gentle and quiet spirit calmed an angry mob. But it wasn’t a gentleness that occurred naturally in his heart. Rather, it was the heart of the Savior whom Wesley followed so closely. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). This yoke of gentleness became the true power behind the apostle Paul’s challenge to us: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

In our humanness, such patience is impossible for us. But by the fruit of the Spirit in us, the gentleness of the heart of Christ can set us apart and equip us to face a hostile world. When we do, we fulfill Paul’s words, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

Why does today’s culture see gentleness as weakness? How is gentleness actually strong?

Dear God, remind me that Jesus displayed a heart of gentleness and compassion to His adversaries.

Read more about Jesus.

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Our Daily Bread — Giving Out of Love

Bible in a Year:

Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:1–4

Every day, Glen purchases his morning coffee at a nearby drive-through. And every day he also pays for the order of the person in the car behind him, asking the cashier to wish that person a good day. Glen has no connection to them. He’s not aware of their reactions; he simply believes this small gesture is “the least he can do.” On one occasion, however, he learned of the impact of his actions when he read an anonymous letter to the editor of his local newspaper. He discovered that the kindness of his gift on July 18, 2017, caused the person in the car behind him to reconsider their plans to take their own life later that day.

Glen gives daily to the people in the car behind him without receiving credit for it. Only on this single occasion did he get a glimpse of the impact of his small gift. When Jesus says we should “not let [our] left hand know what [our] right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3), He’s urging us to give—as Glen does—without need for recognition.

When we give out of our love for God, without concern for receiving the praise of others, we can trust that our gifts—large or small—will be used by Him to help meet the needs of those receiving them.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How have you benefited from someone’s anonymous giving? How can you give more “in secret”?

Father, thank You for using me to meet the needs of others and for meeting my needs through them. Help me not to seek credit when I give but to do so in a way that gives You the glory. 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Hope Cuts through Storms

Bible in a Year:

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 107:23–32

In the spring of 2021, several storm-chasers recorded videos and took photos of a rainbow next to a tornado in Texas. In one video, long stalks of wheat in a field bent under the power of the whirling winds. A brilliant rainbow cut across the gray skyline and arched toward the twister. Bystanders in another video stood on the side of the road and watched the symbol of hope standing firm beside the twisting funnel-shaped cloud.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist offers hope and encourages us to turn to God during difficult times. He describes some who were in the middle of a storm, “at their wits’ end” (v. 27). “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28).

God understands His children will sometimes struggle to feel hopeful when life feels like a storm. We need reminders of His faithfulness, especially when the horizon looks dark and tumultuous.

Whether our storms come as substantial obstacles in our lives, as emotional turmoil, or as mental stress, God can still our storms “to a whisper” and guide us to a place of refuge (vv. 29–30). Though we may not experience relief in our preferred way or time, we can trust God to keep the promises He’s given in Scripture. His enduring hope will cut through any storm.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

When have you struggled to feel hopeful during a storm in your life? How has God given you reminders of His promises through Scripture and His people when you needed a burst of hope?

Loving God, thank You for being my hope-giver no matter what’s going on in my life.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Healing for the Whole World

Bible in a Year:

God . . . reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 5:11–19

Tucked into a remote gorge in western Slovenia, a secret medical facility (Franja Partisan Hospital) housed an extensive staff that tended to thousands of wounded soldiers during World War II—all the while staying hidden from the Nazis. Though avoiding detection from numerous Nazi attempts to locate the facility is in itself a remarkable feat, even more remarkable is that the hospital (founded and run by the Slovenia resistance movement) cared for soldiers from both the Allied and Axis armies. The hospital welcomed everyone.

Scripture calls us to help the whole world to be spiritually healed. This means we need to have compassion for all—regardless of their views. Everyone, no matter their ideology, deserves Christ’s love and kindness. Paul insists that Jesus’ all-embracing love “compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:14). All of us suffer the sickness of sin. All of us are in desperate need of the healing of Jesus’ forgiveness. And He’s moved toward all of us in order to heal us.

Then, in a surprising move, God entrusted us with “the message of reconciliation” (v. 19). God invites us to tend to wounded and broken people (like us). We participate in healing work where the sick are made healthy through union with Him. And this reconciliation, this healing, is for all who will receive it.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Who are the people you think God won’t (or shouldn’t) heal? Where might He call you to be a reconciler and a healer?

God, I need healing. And so it shouldn’t surprise me that everyone else needs healing too. Help me be part of Your healing of others.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Uncommon Courage

Bible in a Year:

Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.

Daniel 2:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Daniel 2:24–30

In 1478, Lorenzo de Medici, the ruler of Florence, Italy, escaped an attack on his life. His countrymen sparked a war when they tried to retaliate against the attack on their leader. As the situation worsened, the cruel King Ferrante I of Naples became Lorenzo’s enemy, but a courageous act by Lorenzo changed everything. He visited the king unarmed and alone. This bravery, paired with his charm and brilliance, won Ferrante’s admiration and ended the war. 

Daniel also helped a king experience a change of heart. No one in Babylon could describe or interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream. This made him so angry that he decided to execute all his advisors—including Daniel and his friends. But Daniel asked to visit the king who wanted him dead (Daniel 2:24).

Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel gave God all the credit for revealing the mystery of the dream (v. 28). When the prophet described and deciphered it, Nebuchadnezzar honored the “God of gods and the Lord of kings” (v. 47). Daniel’s uncommon courage, which was born of his faith in God, helped him, his friends, and the other advisors avoid death that day.

In our lives, there are times when bravery and boldness are needed to communicate important messages. May God guide our words and give us the wisdom to know what to say and the ability to say it well.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

How has someone’s bravery made a difference in your life? How can you rest in God’s power to act courageously for Him?

Dear Jesus, thank You for the courage You showed during Your life on earth. Fill me with Your wisdom and power when I face tense situations.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — The Sunflower Battle

Bible in a Year:

In Christ you have been brought to fullness.

Colossians 2:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Colossians 2:6–14

The deer in our neighborhood and I have two different opinions about sunflowers. When I plant sunflowers each spring, I’m looking forward to the beauty of their blooms. My deer friends, however, don’t care about the finished product. They simply want to chew the stems and leaves until there’s nothing left. It’s an annual summertime battle as I try to see the sunflowers to maturity before my four-hoofed neighbors devour them. Sometimes I win; sometimes they win.

When we think about our lives as believers in Jesus, it’s easy to see a similar battle being waged between us and our enemy—Satan. Our goal is continual growth leading to spiritual maturity that helps our lives stand out for God’s honor. The devil wants to devour our faith and keep us from growing. But Jesus has dominion over “every power” and can bring us “to fullness” (Colossians 2:10), which means He makes us “complete.” Christ’s victory on the cross allows us to stand out in the world like those beautiful sunflowers.

When Jesus nailed the “record of the charges against us” (the penalty for our sins) to the cross (v. 14 nlt), He destroyed the powers that controlled us. We became “rooted and built up” (v. 7) and made “alive with Christ” (v. 13). In Him we have the power (v. 10) to resist the enemy’s spiritual attacks and to flourish in Jesus—displaying a life of true beauty.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

In what areas does the enemy try to nibble away at your growing spiritual maturity? Why is it vital for you to call out to God when you experience spiritual attacks?

Loving God, make my life beautiful for You. Help me to resist the enemy through Your power because I can’t do it on my own. Thank You for Jesus’ death and resurrection—my source of hope, power, and courage.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — He Knows

Bible in a Year:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

Psalm 139:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 139:1–5

Lea was about to start a job as a nurse in Taiwan. She’d be able to better provide for her family, more than she could in Manila, where job opportunities were limited. On the night before her departure, she gave instructions to her sister, who’d be taking care of her five-year-old daughter. “She’ll take her vitamins if you also give her a spoonful of peanut butter,” Lea explained, “And, remember, she’s shy. She’ll play with her cousins eventually. And she’s afraid of the dark . . .”

While looking out the plane window the next day, Lea prayed: Lord, no one knows my daughter like I do. I can’t be with her, but You can.

We know the people we love, and we notice all the details about them because they’re precious to us. When we can’t be with them due to various circumstances, we’re often anxious that since no one knows them as well as we do they’ll be more vulnerable to harm.

In Psalm 139, David reminds us that God knows us more than anyone does. In the same way, He knows our loved ones intimately (vv. 1–4). He’s their Creator (vv. 13–15), so He understands their needs. He knows what will happen each day of their lives (v. 16), and He’s with them and will never leave them (vv. 5, 7–10).

When you’re anxious for others, entrust them to God for He knows them best and loves them the most.

By:  Karen Huang

Reflect & Pray

Who can you entrust to God’s care? How can you show your trust in Him in this area?

Father in heaven, though I can’t always be with those I love, I entrust them to Your loving care, remembering that You know them the best and love them the most.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Our Father

Bible in a Year:

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father . . .”

Matthew 6:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:5–13

Most mornings I recite the Lord’s Prayer. I’m not worth much for the new day until I’ve grounded myself in those words. Recently I’d said only the first two words—“Our Father”—when my phone rang. It startled me as it was 5:43 a.m. Guess who? The phone display read “Dad.” Before I had a chance to answer, the call quickly ended. I guessed my dad had called by mistake. Sure enough, he had. Random coincidence? Maybe, but I believe we live in a world awash in the mercy of God. That particular day I needed that reassurance of our Father’s presence.

Think about that for a minute. Of all the ways Jesus could have taught His disciples to begin their prayers, He chose those two words—“Our Father” (Matthew 6:9) as the starting point. Random? No, Jesus was never less than intentional with His words. We all have different relationships with our earthly fathers—some good, some far less than that. However, praying in the way we should is not addressing “my” father or “your” father, but “our” Father, the One who sees us and hears us, and who knows what we need before we even ask Him (v. 8).

What an amazing reassurance, especially on those days when we might feel forgotten, alone, abandoned, or simply just not worth much. Remember, regardless of where we are and what time of day or night it might be, our Father in heaven is always near.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

How can you make the Lord’s Prayer a part of your prayer life? What feelings do those two words—“Our Father”—stir in you?

Father, thank You for Your promise to hear me when I pray, regardless of where I may be.

Learn more about prayer.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Heart for Service

Bible in a Year:

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God.

2 Corinthians 9:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 9:12–13

A ministry in Carlsbad, New Mexico, supports their community by offering more than 24,000 pounds of free food each month to local residents. The leader of the ministry shared, “People can come here, and we will accept them and meet them right where they are. Our goal is . . . to meet their practical needs to get to their spiritual needs.” As believers in Christ, God desires for us to use what we’ve been given to bless others, drawing our communities closer to Him. How can we develop a heart for service that brings glory to God?

We develop a heart for service by asking God to show us how to use the gifts He’s given us to benefit others (1 Peter 4:10). In this way, we offer “many expressions of thanks to God” for the abundance He’s blessed us with (2 Corinthians 9:12).

Serving others was an important part of Jesus’ ministry. When He healed the sick and fed the hungry, many were introduced to God’s goodness and love. By caring for our communities, we’re following His model of discipleship. God’s wisdom reminds us that when we demonstrate God’s love through our actions, “others will praise God” (v. 13). Service isn’t about self-gratification but about showing others the extent of God’s love and the miraculous ways He works through those who are called by His name.

By:  Kimya Loder

Reflect & Pray

What’s motivated your service to the community? How might you be more intentional about using your gifts to bring glory to God?

Heavenly Father, I desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Please give me a heart for service. May it be an act of praise and gratitude to You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Longing for a Home

Bible in a Year:

Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 62:1–8

Anne, the lead character in the Anne of Green Gables stories, longed for a family. Orphaned, she had lost hope of ever finding a place to call home. But then she learned that an older man named Matthew and his sister Marilla would take her in. On the buggy ride to their home, Anne apologized for chattering on and on, but Matthew, a quiet man, said, “You can talk as much as you like. I don’t mind.” This was music to Anne’s ears. She felt no one had ever wanted her around, much less wanted to hear her chatter. After arriving, her hopes were dashed when she learned the siblings had thought they were getting a boy to help as a farmhand. She feared being returned, but Anne’s longing for a loving home was met when they made her a part of their family.

We’ve all had times when we felt unwanted or alone. But when we become a part of God’s family through salvation in Jesus, He becomes for us a secure home (Psalm 62:2). He delights in us and invites us to talk with Him about everything: our worries, temptations, sorrows, and hopes. The psalmist tells us we can “find rest in God” and “pour out [our] hearts to him” (vv. 5, 8).

Don’t hesitate. Talk to God as much as you like. He won’t mind. He delights in our hearts. In Him you’ll find a home.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What circumstances have caused you to make God your home? What do you want to talk to Him about?

Help me, God, not to hold back in talking with You when I’ve got something on my heart. Thank You for Your listening ear.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Father of Lies

Bible in a Year:

When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 8:39–47

Victor slowly became addicted to pornography. Many of his friends looked at porn, and he fell into it too. But now he understands how wrong it was—he sinned against God—and it crushed his wife. He’s vowed to put safeguards in his life so he’ll never look at it again. Yet he fears it’s too late. Can his marriage be saved? Will he ever be free and fully forgiven?

Our enemy, the devil, presents temptation as if it’s no big deal. Everyone’s doing it. What’s the harm? But the moment we catch on to his scheme, he switches gears. It’s too late! You’ve gone too far! You’re hopeless now!

The enemy will say whatever it takes to destroy us as we engage in spiritual warfare. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

If the devil is a liar, then we should never listen to him. Not when he says our sin is no big deal, and not when he says we’re beyond hope. May Jesus help us dismiss the evil one’s words and listen to Him instead. We rest our hearts on His promise: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (vv. 31–32).

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What sin has you feeling hopeless? Do you think this despair comes from Satan or from Jesus? What promise from the Bible might you claim today?

Jesus, You died and rose again to free me from the bondage of sin. Please help me to live in that liberty today!

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Spiritual Diagnosis

Bible in a Year:

We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord.

Jeremiah 44:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 44:16–18, 20–23

Chemotherapy reduced the tumor in my father-in-law’s pancreas, until it didn’t. As the tumor began to grow again, he was left with a life-and-death decision. He asked his doctor, “Should I take more of this chemo or try something else, perhaps a different drug or radiation?”

The people of Judah had a similar life-and-death question. Weary from war and famine, God’s people wondered whether their problem was too much idolatry or not enough. They concluded they should offer more sacrifices to a false god and see if she would protect and prosper them (Jeremiah 44:17).

Jeremiah said they had wildly misdiagnosed their situation. Their problem wasn’t a lack of commitment to idols; their problem was that they had them. They told the prophet, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord!” (v. 16). Jeremiah replied, “Because you have burned incense and have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you” (v. 23).

Like Judah, we may be tempted to double down on sinful choices that have landed us in trouble. Relationship problems? We can be more aloof. Financial issues? We’ll spend our way to happiness. Pushed aside? We’ll be equally ruthless. But the idols that contributed to our problems can’t save us. Only Jesus can carry us through our troubles as we turn to Him.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What personal problem has you stumped and how are you tempted to respond in a sinful way? What do you think Jesus might want you to do?

Jesus, I’d rather fail with You than succeed without You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Growing in Faith

Bible in a Year:

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

James 1:2–4

At the beginning of my gardening journey, I’d wake up early and run to my vegetable garden to see if anything had sprouted. Nothing. After an internet search for “fast garden growth,” I learned that the seedling stage is the most important phase of a plant’s lifespan. Knowing now that this process couldn’t be rushed, I came to appreciate the strength of small sprouts fighting their way through the soil toward the sun and their resilience to temperamental weather. After waiting patiently for a few weeks, I was finally greeted by bursts of green sprouts creeping through the soil.

Sometimes it’s easy to praise the victories and triumphs in our lives without similarly acknowledging that growth in our character often comes through time and struggle. James instructs us to “consider it pure joy” when we “face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). But what could possibly be delightful about trials?

God will sometimes allow us to go through challenges and hardships so that we can be molded into who He’s called us to be. He waits in anticipation for us to come out of the trials of life “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4). By staying grounded in Jesus, we can persevere through any challenge, growing stronger and ultimately allowing the fruit of the Spirit to blossom in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23). His wisdom gives us the nourishment we need to truly flourish each and every day (John 15:5).

By:  Kimya Loder

Reflect & Pray

What trials have you been working through recently? What lessons are these circumstances revealing to you?

Dear heavenly Father, sometimes the trials I face seem unbearable. Please give me the strength to persevere, and help me as I grow in faith and develop into the fruit-bearing believer that You’ve called me to be.

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Our Daily Bread — Sing Again

Bible in a Year:

Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel!

Zephaniah 3:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Zephaniah 3:14–20

Australia’s regent honeyeater bird is in trouble—it’s losing its song. Though once an abundant species, just three hundred birds now remain; and with so few others to learn from, the males are forgetting their unique song and failing to attract mates.

Thankfully, conservationists plan to rescue the honeyeaters by singing to them. Or, more precisely, play them recordings of other honeyeaters singing so they can relearn their heart song. As the males pick up the tune and attract females again, it’s hoped the species will flourish once more.

The prophet Zephaniah addressed a people in trouble. With so much corruption among them, he announced that God’s judgment was coming (Zephaniah 3:1–8). When this later came to pass through capture and exile, the people too lost their song (Psalm 137:4). But Zephaniah foresaw a time beyond judgment when God would come to this decimated people, forgive their sins, and sing to them: “He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). As a result, the heart song of the people would be restored (v. 14).

Whether through our own disobedience or the trials of life, we too can lose our heart song of joy. But a Voice is singing over us songs of forgiveness and love. Let’s listen to His melody and sing along.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When do you find it hardest to retain your joy in God? What song, poem, or prayer can you give to God in response to His rejoicing over You?

Loving God, it’s amazing to imagine that You would sing songs of joy over me. I praise You and sing my own song of praise to You.

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Our Daily Bread — Age Is Just a Number

Bible in a Year:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Timothy 4:6–13

Youthfulness shouldn’t stop anyone from achievement. It certainly didn’t stop eleven-year-old Mikaila. Instead of putting up a lemonade stand, Mikaila opened a lemonade business. Me & the Bees Lemonade started with her grandmother’s recipe and eventually earned a $60,000 investment from investors on the television show Shark Tank. She also signed a contract with a major grocer to sell her lemonade at fifty-five of the chain’s stores.

Mikaila’s drive and dreams point us back to Paul’s words to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Timothy, though not a child like Mikaila, was likely considerably younger than most in his congregation. After interning with the apostle Paul, some thought that Timothy wasn’t mature enough to lead them. Instead of telling him to prove himself by showing his credentials, Paul encouraged Timothy to demonstrate spiritual maturity by the way he used his words, lived his life, loved his parishioners, exercised his faith, and remained sexually pure (v. 12). No one could discredit him as a teacher and pastor if he backed it up with a godly example.

Regardless of our age, we can impact the world. We do it by setting a Christ-centered example for others as God provides what we need. May He shape our lives with the gospel, so whether we’re seventeen or seventy, we’ll be worthy to share it with others.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

How has God been helping you grow in spiritual maturity and effectiveness for Him? Why is age not the most important factor?

Father, help me to model what it means to be devoted to Jesus in the way I speak, exercise my faith, and love others.

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