Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Give While You Live

Bible in a Year:

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.

John 9:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 9:1–12

A successful businessman spent the last few decades of his life doing all he could to give away his fortune. A multibillionaire, he donated cash to a variety of causes such as bringing peace to Northern Ireland and modernizing Vietnam’s health care system; and not long before he died, he spent $350 million to turn New York City’s Roosevelt Island into a technology hub. The man said, “I believe strongly in giving while living. I see little reason to delay giving. . . . Besides, it’s a lot more fun to give while you live than to give while you’re dead.” Give while you live—what an amazing attitude to have.

In John’s account of the man born blind, Jesus’ disciples were trying to determine “who sinned” (9:2). Jesus briefly addressed their question by saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned . . . but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me” (vv. 3–4). Though our work is very different from Jesus’ miracles, no matter how we give of ourselves, we’re to do so with a ready and loving spirit. Whether through our time, resources, or actions, our goal is that the works of God might be displayed.

For God so loved the world that He gave. In turn, let’s give while we live.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

When it comes to giving, what’s one thing you’ve been delaying? What would it mean for you to give while you live?

Giving God, please show me places where I can give today.

Read Celebrating God’s Generosity.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Love of Learning

Bible in a Year:

Let the wise listen and add to their learning.

Proverbs 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Proverbs 1:1–7

When asked how he became a journalist, a man shared the story of his mother’s dedication to his pursuit of education. While traveling on the subway each day, she collected newspapers left behind on seats and gave them to him. While he especially enjoyed reading about sports, the papers also introduced him to knowledge about the world, which ultimately opened his mind to a vast range of interests. 

Children are wired with natural curiosity and a love for learning, so introducing them to the Scriptures at an early age is of great value. They become intrigued by God’s extraordinary promises and exciting stories of biblical heroes. As their knowledge deepens, they can begin to comprehend the consequences of sin, their need of repentance, and the joy found in trusting God. The first chapter of Proverbs, for instance, is a great introduction to the benefits of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1–7). Nuggets of wisdom found here shine a light of understanding on real-life situations.

Developing a love of learning—especially about spiritual truths—helps us to grow stronger in our faith. And those who have walked in faith for decades can continue to pursue knowledge of God throughout their life. Proverbs 1:5 advises, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” God will never stop teaching us if we’re willing to open our heart and mind to His guidance and instruction.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What fresh truth of Scripture have you added to your knowledge recently? How can you continually pursue a deeper understanding of God’s truth?

Father, please continue to open my mind and heart to grow in knowledge and wisdom as I read from the Scriptures.

Grow deeper in your understanding of faith.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Stay Awake!

Bible in a Year:

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 26:36–46

A German bank employee was in the middle of transferring 62.40 euros from a customer’s bank account when he accidentally took a power nap at his desk. He dozed off while his finger was on the “2” key, resulting in a 222 million euro (300 million dollar) transfer into the customer’s account. The fallout from the mistake included the firing of the employee’s colleague who verified the transfer. Although the mistake was caught and corrected, because he hadn’t been watchful, the sleepy employee’s lapse almost became a nightmare for the bank.

Jesus warned His disciples that if they didn’t remain alert, they too would make a costly mistake. He took them to a place called Gethsemane to spend some time in prayer. As He prayed, Jesus experienced a grief and sadness such as He’d never known in His earthly life. He asked Peter, James, and John to stay awake to pray and “keep watch” with Him (Matthew 26:38), but they fell asleep (vv. 40–41). Their failure to watch and pray would leave them defenseless when the real temptation of denying Him came calling. In the hour of Christ’s greatest need, the disciples lacked spiritual vigilance.

May we heed Jesus’ words to remain spiritually awake by being more devoted to spending time with Him in prayer. As we do, He’ll strengthen us to resist all kinds of temptations and avoid the costly mistake of denying Jesus.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

What part of your prayer life needs to be more devoted and disciplined? How can you intentionally spend more time alone with God this week? 

Jesus, because I’ve been spiritually sleeping, I haven’t been praying. And because I haven’t been praying, I haven’t depended on You. I’m sorry. Please help me to spend more time with You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Love’s Greatest Gift

Bible in a Year:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray.

Isaiah 53:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 53:1–6

My son Geoff was leaving a store when he saw an abandoned walking frame (a mobility aid) on the ground. I hope there isn’t a person back there who needs help, he thought. He glanced behind the building and found a homeless man unconscious on the pavement.

Geoff roused him and asked if he was okay. “I’m trying to drink myself to death,” he responded. “My tent broke in a storm, and I lost everything. I don’t want to live.”

Geoff called a Christian rehabilitation ministry, and while they waited for help, he ran home briefly and brought the man his own camping tent. “What’s your name?” Geoff asked. “Geoffrey,” the homeless man answered, “with a G.” Geoff hadn’t mentioned his own name or its uncommon spelling. “Dad,” he told me later, “that could have been me.”

Geoff once struggled with substance abuse himself, and he helped the man because of the kindness he’d received from God. Isaiah the prophet used these words to anticipate God’s mercy to us in Jesus: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Christ, our Savior, didn’t leave us lost, alone, and hopeless in despair. He chose to identify with us and lift us in love, so that we may be set free to live anew in Him. There’s no greater gift.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Where would you be without Jesus? How can you be His hands and feet for someone in need?

Thank You, Jesus, for coming to rescue me. Help me to join in Your search-and-rescue mission and to share Your love with someone who needs You today.

Read Remade in the Image of Jesus .

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Brave Your Storm

Bible in a Year:

[Fix your] eyes on Jesus, . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2–3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Hebrews 12:1–3, 12–13

It was the evening of April 3, 1968, and a fierce thunderstorm was lashing through Memphis, Tennessee. Weary and feeling ill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hadn’t intended to give his planned speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at a church hall. But he was surprised by an urgent phone call saying a large crowd had braved the weather to hear him. So he went to the hall and spoke for forty minutes, delivering what some say was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

The next day, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, but his speech still inspires oppressed people with the hope of “the promised land.” Likewise, early followers of Jesus were uplifted by a stirring message. The book of Hebrews, written to encourage Jewish believers facing threats for their faith in Christ, offers firm spiritual encouragement to not lose hope. As it urges, “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (12:12). As Jews, they would recognize that appeal as originally coming from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:3).

But now, as Christ’s disciples, we’re called to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2). When we do so, we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

Certainly, squalls and storms await us in this life. But in Jesus, we outlast life’s tempests by standing in Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How do you respond to life’s spiritual storms? As you look to Jesus and His promises, how does He encourage you?

Jesus, You calm every spiritual storm. When tempests rage, speak peace to my soul as I put my hope in You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Ludicrous Investment

Bible in a Year:

I knew that this was the word of the Lord; so I bought the field.

Jeremiah 32:8–9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Jeremiah 32:6–15

In 1929, as the US economy crashed, millions of people lost everything. But not Floyd Odlum. As everyone else panicked and sold their stocks at cut-rate prices, Odlum appeared to foolishly jump in and purchase stocks just as the nation’s future disintegrated. But Odlum’s “foolish” perspective paid off, yielding robust investments that endured for decades.

God told Jeremiah to make what seemed like an absolutely ludicrous investment: “Buy [the] field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin” (Jeremiah 32:8). This was no time to be buying fields, however. The entire country was on the verge of being ransacked. “The army of the king of Babylon was . . . besieging Jerusalem” (v. 2), and whatever field Jeremiah purchased would soon be Babylon’s. What fool makes an investment when everything would soon be lost?

Well, the person who’s listening to God—the One who intended a future no one else could envision. “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (v. 15). God saw more than the ruin. God promised to bring redemption, healing, and restoration. A ludicrous investment in a relationship or service for God isn’t foolish—it’s the wisest possible move when God leads us to make it (and it’s essential that we prayerfully seek to know He’s behind the instruction). A “foolish” investment in others as God leads makes all the sense in the world.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where do you sense God asking you to make a ludicrous investment in someone or something? How will this step require you to trust God in ways that appear foolish?

God, it’s a good thing You see the future because sometimes all I see is ruin and disaster. Show me where to go, where to give my life.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Hearing Us from Heaven

Bible in a Year:

Hear from heaven their prayer and their plea.

1 Kings 8:45

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Kings 8:37–45

At eighteen months old, little Maison had never heard his mother’s voice. Then doctors fitted him with his first hearing aids and his mom, Lauryn, asked him, “Can you hear me?” The child’s eyes lit up. “Hi, Baby!” Lauryn added. A smiling Maison responded to his mother with soft coos. In tears, Lauryn knew she’d witnessed a miracle. She’d given birth to Maison prematurely after gunmen shot her three times during a random home invasion. Weighing just one pound, Maison spent 158 days in intensive care and wasn’t expected to survive, let alone be able to hear.

That heart-warming story reminds me of the God who hears us. King Solomon prayed fervently for God’s attuned ear, especially during troubling times. When “there is no rain” (1 Kings 8:35), during “famine or plague,” disaster or disease (v. 37), war (v. 44), and even sin, “hear from heaven their prayer and their plea,” Solomon prayed, “and uphold their cause” (v. 45).

In His goodness, God responded with a promise that still stirs our hearts. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Heaven may seem a long way off. Yet Jesus is with those who believe in Him. God hears our prayers, and He answers them.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What troubling situation can you pray about today, believing God is hearing you from heaven? What help from God can you thank Him for because He hears your plea?

Heavenly Father, during my toughest struggles and troubles, I thank You for hearing my humble cry.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Escape or Peace?

Bible in a Year:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

John 16:25–33

“ESCAPE.” The billboard shouts the benefits of having a hot tub installed. It gets my attention—and gets me thinking. My wife and I have talked about getting a hot tub . . . someday. It’d be like a vacation in our backyard! Except for the cleaning. And the electric bill. And . . . suddenly, the hoped-for escape starts to sound like something I might need escape from.

Still, that word entices so effectively because it promises something we want: Relief. Comfort. Security. Escape. It’s something our culture tempts and teases us with in many ways. Now, there’s nothing wrong with resting or a getaway to someplace beautiful. But there’s a difference between escaping life’s hardships and trusting God with them.  

In John 16, Jesus tells His disciples that the next chapter of their lives will test their faith. “In this world you will have trouble,” He summarizes at the end. And then He adds this promise, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33). Jesus didn’t want His disciples to cave in to despair. Instead, He invited them to trust Him, to know the rest He provides: “I have told you these things,” he said, “so that in me you may have peace” (v. 33).

Jesus doesn’t promise us a pain-free life. But He does promise that as we trust and rest in Him, we can experience a peace that’s deeper and more satisfying than any escape the world tries to sell us.

By:  Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

How have you seen invitations to escape in the world around you recently? How well do you think they might deliver on those promises?

Father, help me to trust You so that I may find peace and rest in You.

Read Finding Peace in a Troubled World .

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Etch A Sketch Forgiveness

Bible in a Year:

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 103:7–13

The little red rectangular box was magical. As a kid, I could play with it for hours. When I turned one knob on the box, I could create a horizontal line on its screen. Turn the other knob and voila—a vertical line. When I turned the knobs together, I could make diagonal lines, circles, and creative designs. But the real magic came when I turned my Etch A Sketch toy upside down, shook it a little and turned it right side up. A blank screen appeared, offering me the opportunity to create a new design.

God’s forgiveness works much like that Etch A Sketch. He wipes away our sins, creating a clean canvas for us. Even if we remember wrongs we committed, God chooses to forgive and forget. He’s wiped them out and doesn’t hold our sins against us. He doesn’t treat us according to our sinful actions (Psalm 103:10) but extends grace through forgiveness. We have a clean slate—a new life awaiting us when we seek God’s forgiveness. We can be rid of guilt and shame because of His amazing gift to us.

The psalmist reminds us that our sins have been separated from us as far as the east is separated from the west (v. 12). That’s as far away as you can get! In God’s eyes, our sins no longer cling to us like a scarlet letter or a bad drawing. That’s reason to rejoice and to thank God for His amazing grace and mercy.

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think God chooses to not treat you as your actions might deserve? How can you thank Him for separating your sins from you?

Loving God, thank You for forgiveness. Remind me that You no longer remember my sins.

Read The Forgiveness of God.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Genuine Hope

Bible in a Year:

He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Peter 1:3–9

In the early 1960s, the US was filled with anticipation of a bright future. Youthful President John F. Kennedy had introduced the New Frontier, the Peace Corps, and the task of reaching the moon. A thriving economy caused many people to expect the future to simply “let the good times roll.” Then the war in Vietnam escalated, national unrest unfolded, Kennedy was assassinated, and the accepted norms of that previously optimistic society were dismantled. Optimism simply wasn’t enough, and in its wake, disillusionment prevailed.  

Then, in 1967, theologian Jürgen Moltmann’s A Theology of Hope pointed to a clearer vision. This path wasn’t the way of optimism but the way of hope. The two aren’t the same thing. Moltmann affirmed that optimism is based on the circumstances of the moment, but hope is rooted in God’s faithfulness—regardless of our situation.

What’s the source of this hope? Peter wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Our faithful God has conquered death through His Son, Jesus! The reality of this greatest of all victories lifts us beyond mere optimism to a strong, robust hope—every day and in every circumstance.

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, what situations cause concern in you? Why is hope better than either optimism or pessimism?

God, this world is distressing and confusing, and many voices want to drive me to a perspective that feels void of hope. Help me to root my heart in the promise and power of the resurrection of Jesus, who holds the future.

Read Hope: Choosing Faith Instead of Fear.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Dealing with Disagreement

Bible in a Year:

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Colossians 3:12–14

The social media powerhouse Twitter created a platform where people all over the world express opinions in short sound bites. In recent years, however, this formula has become more complex as individuals have begun to leverage Twitter as a tool to reprimand others for attitudes and lifestyles they disagree with. Log on to the platform on any given day, and you’ll find the name of at least one person “trending.” Click on that name, and you’ll find millions of people expressing opinions about whatever controversy has emerged.

We’ve learned to publicly criticize everything from the beliefs people hold to the clothes they wear. The reality, however, is that a critical and unloving attitude doesn’t align with who God has called us to be as believers in Jesus. While there will be times when we have to deal with disagreement, the Bible reminds us that as believers we’re to always conduct ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Instead of being harshly critical, even of our enemies, God urges us to “bear with each other and forgive one another if [we have] a grievance” (v. 13).

This treatment isn’t limited to the people whose lifestyles and beliefs we agree with. Even when it’s difficult, may we extend grace and love to everyone we encounter as Christ guides us, recognizing that we’ve been redeemed by His love.

By:  Kimya Loder

Reflect & Pray

Consider a time when you were quick to criticize a friend or a stranger. What was the result? What could you have done differently to honor God and the individual?

Heavenly Father, I know I fall short of Your glory every day. Thank You for Your unconditional love. Help me strive to be more like You by being patient and gentle with others.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Back to the Basics

Bible in a Year:

Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right.

Ezekiel 45:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Ezekiel 45:9–10, 17–20

Resolutions, it seems, are made to be broken. Some folks poke fun at this reality by proposing New Year’s vows that are—shall we say—attainable. Here are a few from social media:

Wave to fellow motorists at stoplights.

Sign up for a marathon. Don’t run it.

Stop procrastinating—tomorrow.

Get lost without any help from Siri.

Unfriend everyone who posts their workout regimen.

The concept of a fresh start can be serious business, however. The exiled people of Judah desperately needed one. Just over two decades into their seventy-year captivity, God brought encouragement to them through the prophet Ezekiel, promising, “I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob” (Ezekiel 39:25).

But the nation first needed to return to the basics—the instructions God had given to Moses eight hundred years earlier. This included observing a feast at the new year. For the ancient Jewish people, that began in early spring (45:18). A major purpose of their festivals was to remind them of God’s character and His expectations. He told their leaders, “Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right” (v. 9), and he insisted on honesty (v. 10).

The lesson applies to us too. Our faith must be put into practice or it’s worthless (James 2:17). In this new year, as God provides what we need, may we live out our faith by returning to the basics: “Love the Lord your God,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39).

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

In what ways do you sense you need to get back to the basics? How will you put this into practice in the new year?

Father, may Your Spirit show me the places where I need to put others before myself. Help me love You with all my heart.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Resilient Faith

Bible in a Year:

Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

Matthew 7:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 7:24–27

Towering dunes along the north shore of Silver Lake put nearby homes at risk of sinking into shifting sands. Though residents tried moving mounds of sand in efforts to protect their homes, they watched helplessly as well-built houses were buried right before their eyes. As a local sheriff oversaw the cleanup of a recently destroyed cottage, he affirmed the process couldn’t be prevented. No matter how hard homeowners tried to avoid the dangers of these unsteady embankments, the dunes simply couldn’t provide a strong foundational support.

Jesus knew the futility of building a house on sand. After warning the disciples to be wary of false prophets, He assured them that loving obedience demonstrates wisdom (Matthew 7:15–23). He said that everyone who hears His words and “puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (v. 24). The one who hears God’s words and chooses not to put them into practice, however, is “like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (v. 26).

When circumstances feel like shifting sands burying us under the weight of affliction or worries, we can place our hope in Christ, our Rock. He will help us develop resilient faith built on the unshakable foundation of His unchanging character.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How does obedience demonstrate your trust in God? In what areas of your life are you standing on the shifting sands of disobedience to Him?

Jesus, please help me develop resilient faith. Empower me to demonstrate my trust through loving obedience to You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — When Love Never Ends

Bible in a Year:

The Lord watches over all who love him.

Psalm 145:20

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 145:8–20

“Whenever my grandfather took me to the beach,” Sandra reminisced, “he always took off his watch and put it away. One day I asked him why.”

“He smiled and replied, ‘Because I want you to know how important my moments with you are to me. I just want to be with you and let time go by.’ ”

I heard Sandra share that recollection at her grandfather’s funeral. It was one of her favorite memories of their life together. As I reflected on how valued it makes us feel when others take time for us, it brought to mind Scripture’s words on God’s loving care.

God always makes time for us. David prayed in Psalm 145, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near” (vv. 16–18).

God’s goodness and thoughtful attention sustain our lives each moment, providing us with air to breathe and food to eat. Because He is rich in love, the Creator of all things mercifully crafts even the most intricate details of our existence.

God’s love is so deep and unending that in His kindness and mercy He’s even opened the way to eternal life and joy in His presence, as if to say, “I love you so much, I just want to be with you forever, and let time go by.”

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

How does your availability to others reflect God’s faithful love for them? In what ways can you follow His example by making time for others today?

Father, thank You for Your perfect love. Please help me to praise You for it and to share it with others today.

Read God Is Love

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Fear Not

Bible in a Year:

Do not be afraid . . . a Savior has been born to you.

Luke 2:10–11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Luke 2:8–14

Linus, in the Peanuts comic strip, is best known for his blue security blanket. He carries it everywhere and isn’t embarrassed at needing it for comfort. His sister Lucy especially dislikes the blanket and often tries to get rid of it. She buries it, makes it into a kite, and uses it for a science fair project. Linus too knows he should be less dependent on his blanket and lets it go from time to time, always to take it back.

In the movie A Charlie Brown Christmas, when a frustrated Charlie Brown asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus, with his security blanket in hand, steps center stage and quotes Luke 2:8–14. In the middle of his recitation, as he says, “Fear not,” he drops his blanket—the thing he clung to when afraid.

What is it about Christmas that reminds us we don’t need to fear? The angels that appeared to the shepherds said, “Do not be afraid . . . a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:10–11).

Jesus is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). We have His very presence through His Holy Spirit, the true Comforter (John 14:16), so we don’t need to fear. We can let go of our “security blankets” and trust in Him.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What are you afraid of? How can the Holy Spirit’s presence help you with what troubles you?

I’m still learning, God, that You’re the greatest Comforter. Help me to let go of the things that give me false security, and please guide me to cling to You.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Beautifully Broken

Bible in a Year:

I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.

Psalm 31:12

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Psalm 31:12–24

Our bus finally arrived at our much-anticipated destination—an archaeological dig in Israel where we would actually do some excavation work of our own. The site’s director explained that anything we might unearth had been untouched for thousands of years. Digging up broken shards of pottery, we felt as though we were touching history. After an extended time, we were led to a workstation where those broken pieces—from huge vases shattered long, long ago—were being put back together.    

The picture was crystal clear. Those artisans reconstructing centuries-old broken pottery were a beautiful representation of the God who loves to fix broken things. In Psalm 31:12, David wrote, “I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.” Though no occasion is given for the writing of this psalm, David’s life difficulties often found voice in his laments—just like this one. The song describes him as being broken down by danger, enemies, and despair.

So, where did he turn for help? In verse 16, David cries out to God, “Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”

The God who was the object of David’s trust is the same One who still fixes broken things today. All He asks is that we call out to Him and trust in His unfailing love.

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

What areas of brokenness have you experienced? How has God helped you through those difficult times?

God of my help, I thank You for all the times I’ve fallen and been broken—times when You’ve put me back together.

For further study, read Understanding the Bible: The Wisdom Books.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — What Are You?

Bible in a Year:

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

Galatians 3:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Galatians 3:26–4:7

When I walked into the ice cream shop with my five-year-old biracial son, the man behind the counter glanced at me and stared at my child. “What are you?”

His question and harsh tone triggered the all-too-familiar anger and heartache I’d experienced growing up as a Mexican-American who didn’t fit stereotypes. Pulling Xavier closer, I turned toward my Black husband as he entered the store. With eyes narrowed, the store clerk completed our order in silence.

I prayed silently for the man as my son listed the flavors of ice cream he wanted to try. Repenting of my bitterness, I asked God to give me a spirit of forgiveness. With my light-but-not-white complexion, I’d been the target of similar glares accompanying that same question over the years. I’d struggled with insecurities and feelings of worthlessness until I began learning how to embrace my identity as God’s beloved daughter.

The apostle Paul declares that believers in Jesus are “all children of God through faith,” equally valued and beautifully diverse. We’re intimately connected and intentionally designed to work together (Galatians 3:26–29). When God sent His Son to redeem us, we became family through His blood shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (4:4–7). As God’s image-bearers, our worth cannot be determined by the opinions, expectations, or biases of others.

What are we? We’re children of God.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

When have you doubted your value as a person due to the opinions, expectations, or biases of others? How does knowing all God’s children are His image-bearers help you love those who are different from you?

Father God, please help me to see myself and others through Your eyes. Help me love with Your heart as I come into contact with people who are different from me.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — I Am His Hands

Bible in a Year:

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”

1 Corinthians 12:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

1 Corinthians 12:12–21

Jia Haixia lost his sight in the year 2000. His friend Jia Wenqi lost his arms as a child. But they’ve found a way around their disabilities. “I am his hands and he is my eyes,” Haixia says. Together, they’re transforming their village in China.

Since 2002 the friends have been on a mission to regenerate a wasteland near their home. Each day Haixia climbs on Wenqi’s back to cross a river to the site. Wenqi then “hands” Haixia a shovel with his foot, before Haixia places a pail on a pole between Wenqi’s cheek and shoulder. And as one digs and the other waters, the two plant trees—more than 10,000 so far. “Working together, we don’t feel disabled at all,” Haixia says. “We’re a team.”

The apostle Paul likens the church to a body, each part needing the other to function. If the church were all eyes, there’d be no hearing; if all ears, there’d be no sense of smell (1 Corinthians 12:14–17). “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ ” Paul says (v. 21). Each of us plays a role in the church based on our spiritual gifts (vv. 7–11, 18). Like Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi, when we combine our strengths, we can bring change to the world.

Two men combining their abilities to regenerate a wasteland. What a picture of the church in action!

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

Based on your spiritual gifts, what part do you play in the body of Christ? How are you joining with others to fulfill His mission?

Holy Spirit, thank You for giving me spiritual gifts and arranging me in a body where I’m needed.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — What Should I Say?

Bible in a Year:

I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king.

Nehemiah 2:4–5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Nehemiah 2:1–6

When I stopped to browse through a box of books marked “C. S. Lewis” at a used bookshop, the store owner appeared. As we chatted about the available titles, I wondered if he might be interested in the faith that inspired much of Lewis’ writing. I prayed silently for guidance. Information from a biography came to mind, and we began to discuss how C. S. Lewis’ character pointed to God. In the end, I was thankful that a quick prayer had reoriented our conversation to spiritual matters.   

Nehemiah paused to pray before a pivotal moment in a conversation with King Artaxerxes in Persia. The king had asked how he could help Nehemiah, who was distraught over Jerusalem’s destruction. Nehemiah was the king’s servant and therefore in no position to ask for favors, but he needed one—a big one. He wanted to restore Jerusalem. So, he “prayed to the God of heaven” before asking to leave his job so he could reestablish the city (Nehemiah 2:4–5). The king consented and even agreed to help Nehemiah make travel arrangements and procure timber for the project.

The Bible encourages us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). This includes moments when we need courage, self-control, or sensitivity. Praying before we speak helps us give God control of our attitude and our words.

How might He want to direct your words today? Ask Him and find out!

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

What patterns of speech do you need God’s help to change? What types of situations in your life could benefit most from prayer?

Dear God, I surrender my words to You. Use them for Your glory. Help them to inspire and encourage others.

To learn more about the act of prayer.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — A Worthwhile Wait

Bible in a Year:

The Lord longs to be gracious to you . . . . Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Isaiah 30:15–19

Stuck in a stressful job with long hours and an unreasonable boss, James wished he could quit. But he had a mortgage, a wife, and a young child to take care of. He was tempted to resign anyway, but his wife reminded him: “Let’s hang on and see what God will give us.”

Many months later, their prayers were answered. James found a new job that he enjoyed and gave him more time with the family. “Those months were long,” he told me, “but I’m glad I waited for God’s plan to unfold in His time.”

Waiting for God’s help in the midst of trouble is hard; it can be tempting to try to find our own solution first. The Israelites did just that: under threat from their enemies, they sought help from Egypt instead of turning to God (Isaiah 30:2). But God told them that if they would repent and put their trust in Him, they would find strength and salvation (v. 15). In fact, He added, “the Lord longs to be gracious to you” (v. 18).

Waiting for God takes faith and patience. But when we see His answer at the end of it all, we’ll realize it was worth it: “Blessed are all who wait for him!” (v. 18). And what’s even more amazing, God is waiting for us to come to Him!

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

What prayer request has you waiting on God? How can you meditate on His faithfulness as you seek His answer?

Father, give me the patience to wait for Your answer. I know You’re a good and loving God whose timing and will are always perfect.

Learn more about waiting.

http://www.odb.org