Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Firm Refusal

Bible in a Year:

Daniel . . . still pray[ed] three times a day.

Daniel 6:13

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Daniel 6:10–23

When the Nazis drafted Franz Jägerstätter during World War II, he completed military basic training but refused to take the required pledge of personal loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Authorities allowed Franz to return to his farm, but they later summoned him to active duty. After seeing Nazi ideology up close and learning of the Jewish genocide, however, Jägerstätter decided his loyalty to God meant he could never fight for the Nazis. He was arrested and sentenced to execution, leaving behind his wife and three daughters.

Over the years, many believers in Jesus—under peril of death—have offered a firm refusal when commanded to disobey God. The story of Daniel is one such story. When a royal edict threatened that anyone “who pray[ed] to any god or human being except [the king]” (Daniel 6:12) would be thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel discarded safety and remained faithful. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (v. 10). The prophet would bend his knee to God—and only God—no matter the cost.

Sometimes, our choice is clear. Though everyone around us implores us to go along with prevailing opinion—though our own reputation or well-being may be at risk—may we never turn from our obedience to God. Sometimes, even at great cost, all we can offer is a firm refusal.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where are you sensing that obedience to God will require your firm refusal? What might this refusal cost you? What will you gain?

God, I know my loyalty to You will at times mean saying no to others’ expectations or demands. It may cost me dearly. Give me courage.

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Our Daily Bread — Jesus Restores Us

Bible in a Year:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 3:17–24

Although Sam had done nothing wrong, he lost his job on the assembly line. Carelessness in another division led to problems in cars they built. After several crashes made the news, wary customers stopped buying their brand. The company had to downsize, leaving Sam out of work. He’s collateral damage, and it isn’t fair. It never is.

History’s first collateral damage occurred immediately after the first sin. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness, so God graciously clothed them with “garments of skin” (Genesis 3:21). It’s painful to imagine, but one or more animals that had always been safe in the garden were now slaughtered and skinned.

There was more to come. God told Israel, “Every day you are to provide a year-old lamb without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord; morning by morning you shall provide it” (Ezekiel 46:13). Every. Single. Day. How many thousands of animals have been sacrificed because of human sin?

Their death was necessary to cover our sin until Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to remove it (John 1:29). Call this “collateral repair.” As Adam’s sin kills us, so the Last Adam’s (Christ’s) obedience restores all who believe in Him (Romans 5:17–19). Collateral repair isn’t fair—it cost Jesus’ life—but it’s free. Reach out to Jesus in belief and receive the salvation He offers, and His righteous life will count for you.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When have you suffered for someone else’s mistake? When have you benefited from someone’s success, and how should you think about both situations?

Jesus, I believe in You, and I know Your life counts for me.

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Our Daily Bread — Growing in God’s Grace

Bible in a Year:

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.

2 Peter 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Peter 1:3–11

The English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834–1892) lived life “full throttle.” He became a pastor at age nineteen—and soon was preaching to large crowds. He personally edited all of his sermons, which eventually filled sixty-three volumes, and wrote many commentaries, books on prayer, and other works. And he typically read six books a week! In one of his sermons, Spurgeon said, “The sin of doing nothing is about the biggest of all sins, for it involves most of the others. . . . Horrible idleness! God save us from it!”

Charles Spurgeon lived with diligence, which meant he “[made] every effort” (2 Peter 1:5) to grow in God’s grace and to live for Him. If we’re Christ’s followers, God can instill in us that same desire and capacity to grow more like Jesus, to “make every effort to add to [our] faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge . . . self-control, perseverance . . . godliness” (vv. 5–7).

We each have different motivations, abilities, and energy levels—not all of us can, or should, live at Charles Spurgeon’s pace! But when we understand all Jesus has done for us, we have the greatest motivation for diligent, faithful living. And we find our strength through the resources God has given us to live for and serve Him. God through His Spirit can empower us in our efforts—big and small—to do so.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

How are you making every effort to grow more like Christ? What will help you in this endeavor?

Loving God, help me to be diligent to live for You in all I do and say. Thank You for enabling me to do so through Your Spirit inside me.

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Our Daily Bread — Blocked Prayers

Bible in a Year:

When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Mark 11:25

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Mark 11:20–25

For fourteen years, the Mars rover Opportunity faithfully communicated with the people at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After it landed in 2004, it traversed twenty-eight miles of the Martian surface, took thousands of images, and analyzed many materials. But in 2018, communication between Opportunity and scientists ended when a major dust storm coated its solar panels, causing the rover to lose power.

Is it possible that we can allow “dust” to block our communication with Someone outside of our world? When it comes to prayer—communicating with God—there are certain things that can get in the way.

Scripture says that sin can block our relationship with God. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). Jesus instructs, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25). Our communication with God can also be hindered by doubt and relationship problems (James 1:5–71 Peter 3:7).

Opportunity’s blockage of communication seems to be permanent. But our prayers don’t have to be blocked. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God lovingly draws us to restored communication with Him. As we confess our sins and turn to Him, by God’s grace we experience the greatest communication the universe has ever known: one-to-one prayer between us and our holy God.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

How can confessing your sins to God improve your communication with Him? What can you do to enrich your prayer life?

Father, guide me to discover what’s limiting my communication with You. Thank You for helping me connect with You!

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Our Daily Bread — Certainty of Deliverance

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:9-10).

Jesus Christ delivers His brethren not only from sin and its judgment, but also from uncertainty and doubt about that deliverance.

God is a God of wrath. But the wrath due to be poured out on all mankind, Christ took on Himself. That’s what the apostle Paul meant when he said that those who put their faith in Him have been “justified by His blood” and are assured of being “saved from the wrath of God through [Christ]” (Rom. 5:9). As a result of Christ’s atoning work, all Christians are identified with Christ, are adopted as God’s children through Him, and are no longer “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

But Paul doesn’t stop there because the ongoing intercessory work of Christ has great significance for every believer and the security of his salvation. In Romans 5:10 Paul argues from the greater to the lesser to show that it was a much greater work of God to bring sinners to grace than to bring them to glory. Since God brought us to Himself when we were enemies, we will be reconciled continually now that we are His friends. When God first reconciled us, we were wretched, vile, and godless sinners. Since that was not a barrier to His reconciling us then, there is nothing that can prevent the living Christ from keeping us reconciled.

This truth has great ramifications for our assurance. If God already secured our deliverance from sin, death, and future judgment, how could our present spiritual life possibly be in jeopardy? How can a Christian, whose past and future salvation are guaranteed by God, be insecure in the intervening time? If sin in the greatest degree could not prevent our becoming reconciled, how can sin in lesser degree prevent our staying reconciled? Our salvation can’t be any more secure than that.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to reveal to you how you might even now be insecure about your salvation. Then ask Him to make the intercessory work of Christ more real to you each day.

For Further Study

Read John 5:26; 10:28-29; 14:19; Romans 8:34-39; Colossians 3:3-4; Hebrews 7:25; and Revelation 1:18.

  • List all the securities you can find.
  • How does Christ save you by His life?

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Our Daily Bread — Not Fatherless

Bible in a Year:

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 6:5–13

John Sowers in his book Fatherless Generation writes that “No generation has seen as much voluntary father absence as this one with 25 million kids growing up in single-parent homes.” In my own experience, if I’d bumped into my father on the street, I wouldn’t have known him. My parents were divorced when I was very young, and all the photos of my dad were burned. So for years I felt fatherless. Then at age thirteen, I heard the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13) and said to myself, You may not have an earthly father, but now you have God as your heavenly Father.

In Matthew 6:9 we’re taught to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Previously verse 7 says not to “keep on babbling” when praying, and we may wonder how these verses are connected. I realized that because God remembers, we don’t need to repeat. He truly understands, so we don’t need to explain. He has a compassionate heart, so we don’t need to be uncertain of His goodness. And because He knows the end from the beginning, we know His timing is perfect.

Because God is our Father, we don’t need to use “many words” (v. 7) to move Him. Through prayer, we’re talking with a Father who loves and cares for us and made us His children through Jesus.

By:  Albert Lee

Reflect & Pray

When have you tried to “move God” in prayer by using many words? How does having a relationship with Him as your Father help you to trust Him?

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for making me Your child and for being a Father that welcomes me into Your presence through prayer.

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Our Daily Bread — God Is There

Bible in a Year:

If God will be with me and watch over me . . . then the Lord will be my God.

Genesis 28:20–21

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Genesis 28:10–15, 20–22

Aubrey bought a fleece-lined coat for her aging father, but he died before he could wear it. So she tucked a note of encouragement with a $20 bill into the pocket and donated the jacket to charity.

Ninety miles away, unable to endure his family’s dysfunction any longer, nineteen-year-old Kelly left his house without grabbing a coat. He knew of only one place to turn—the home of his grandmother who prayed for him. Hours later he stepped off a bus and into his grandma’s arms. Shielding him from the winter wind, she said, “We’ve got to get you a coat!” At the mission store, Kelly tried on a coat he liked. Slipping his hands into the pockets he found an envelope—with a $20 bill and Aubrey’s note.

Jacob fled his dysfunctional family in fear for his life (Genesis 27:41–45). When he stopped for the night, God revealed Himself to Jacob in a dream. “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go,” God told him (28:15). Jacob vowed, “If God will . . . give me food to eat and clothes to wear . . . , then the Lord will be my God” (vv. 20–21).

Jacob made a rudimentary altar and named the spot “God’s house” (v. 22). Kelly takes Aubrey’s note and that $20 wherever he goes. Each serves as a reminder that no matter where we run, God is there.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

When you’ve had to “run,” whether literally or metaphorically, where did you go and to whom did you turn? How can you remind yourself of God’s presence in your life?

Father, You’re the One I can always run to. Help me turn to You first.

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OUR DAILY BREAD — HE WILL FIGHT FOR YOU

Bible in a Year:

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.

Proverbs 21:31

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Proverbs 21:21–31

The wounded horse was named Drummer Boy, one of 112 mounts carrying British soldiers into battle during the famed Charge of the Light Brigade. The animal showed such bravery and stamina that his assigned commander, Lieutenant Colonel de Salis, decided his horse deserved a medal as much as his valiant men. This was done even though their military action against enemy forces failed. Yet the cavalry’s valor, matched by the courage of their horses, established the clash as one of Britain’s greatest military moments, still celebrated today.

The confrontation, however, shows the wisdom of an ancient Bible proverb: “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). Scripture affirms this principle clearly. “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4). Indeed, even against the sting of death, wrote the apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56–57).

Knowing this, our task still is to be prepared for life’s tough tests. To build a ministry, we study, work, and pray. To create beautiful art, we master a skill. To conquer a mountain, we secure our tools and build our strength. Then prepared, we’re more than conquerors through Christ’s strong love.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What battles or challenges are you preparing for now? If your victory rests in God, why should you prepare for this life test?

Heavenly Father, as I approach life’s great tests, inspire me to prepare my heart so that You get the victory.

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Our Daily Bread — Facing the Darkness

Bible in a Year:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.

Isaiah 9:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Isaiah 9:2–6

In the mid-1960s, two people participated in research on the effects of darkness on the human psyche. They entered separate caves, while researchers tracked their eating and sleeping habits. One remained in total darkness for 88 days, the other 126 days. Each guessed how long they could remain in darkness and were off by months. One took what he thought was a short nap only to discover he’d slept for 30 hours. Darkness is disorienting.

The people of God found themselves in the darkness of impending exile. They waited, unsure of what would take place. The prophet Isaiah used darkness as a metaphor for their disorientation and as a way of speaking about God’s judgment (Isaiah 8:22). Previously, the Egyptians had been visited with darkness as a plague (Exodus 10:21–29). Now Israel found herself in darkness.

But a light would come. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). Oppression would be broken, disorientation would end. A Child would come to change everything and bring about a new day—a day of forgiveness and freedom (v. 6).

Jesus did come! And although the darkness of the world can be disorienting, may we experience the comfort of the forgiveness, freedom, and light found in Christ.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

What would it look like to embrace a new day of freedom and forgiveness? How can you welcome the light of Christ today?

Dear Jesus, shine Your light into my life. Bring forgiveness and freedom. Help me to live in the light of Your arrival.

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Our Daily Bread — Pursued by Love

Bible in a Year:

I will say, “Salvation comes from the Lord.”

Jonah 2:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Jonah 2:1–9

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days,” opens the famous poem “The Hound of Heaven” by English poet Francis Thompson. Thompson describes Jesus’ unceasing pursuit—despite his efforts to hide, or even run away, from God. The poet imagines God speaking to him and saying, “I am He whom thou seekest!”

The pursuing love of God is a central theme of the book of Jonah. The prophet received an assignment to tell the people of Nineveh (notorious enemies of Israel) about their need to turn to God, but instead “Jonah ran away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). He secured passage on a ship sailing in the opposite direction of Nineveh, but the vessel was soon overcome by a violent storm. To save the ship’s crew, Jonah was thrown overboard before being swallowed by a large fish (1:15–17).

In his own beautiful poem, Jonah recounted that despite his best efforts to run away from God, God pursued him. When Jonah was overcome by his situation and needed to be saved, he cried out to God in prayer and turned toward His love (2:2, 8). God answered and provided rescue not only for Jonah, but for his Assyrian enemies as well (3:10).

As described in both poems, there may be seasons of our lives when we try to run from God. Even then Jesus loves us and is at work guiding us back into restored relationship with Him (1 John 1:9).

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

When have you tried to run from God? How did He provide rescue?

Jesus, thank You for lovingly pursuing me to offer rescue.

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Our Daily Bread — Listening to Wise Advice

Bible in a Year:

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Proverbs 12:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 12:2–15

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln once found himself wanting to please a politician, so he issued a command to transfer certain Union Army regiments. When the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, received the order, he refused to carry it out. He said that the president was a fool. Lincoln was told what Stanton had said, and he replied: “If Stanton said I’m a fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right. I’ll see for myself.” As the two men talked, the president quickly realized that his decision was a serious mistake, and without hesitation he withdrew it. Though Stanton had called Lincoln a fool, the president proved wise by not digging in his heels when Stanton disagreed with him. Instead, Lincoln listened to advice, considered it, and changed his mind.

Have you ever encountered someone who simply wouldn’t listen to wise advice? (See 1 Kings 12:1–11.) It can be infuriating, can’t it? Or, even more personal, have you ever refused to listen to advice? As Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” People may not always be right, but the same goes for us! Knowing that everyone makes mistakes, only fools assume they’re the exception. Instead, let’s exercise godly wisdom and listen to the wise advice of others—even if we initially disagree. Sometimes that’s exactly how God works for our good (v. 2).

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

Why are you sometimes reluctant to listen to the wise advice of others? How can you be sure the advice you receive reflects true wisdom?

God of wisdom, teach me Your ways and help me to avoid folly. Thank You for putting others in my life who are in a position to offer helpful advice when I need it.

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Our Daily Bread — Singing Over Us

Bible in a Year:

[He] will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Zephaniah 3:14–17

A young father held his baby boy in his arms, singing to him and rocking him in soothing rhythm. The baby was hearing-impaired, unable to hear the melody or the words. Yet the father sang anyway, in a beautiful, tender act of love toward his son. And his efforts were rewarded with a delightful smile from his little boy. 

The imagery of the father-son exchange bears a striking resemblance to the words of Zephaniah. The Old Testament prophet says that God will joyfully sing over His daughter, the people of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:17). God enjoys doing good things for His beloved people, such as taking away their punishment and turning back their enemies (v. 15). Zephaniah says they no longer have any reason for fear and instead have cause for rejoicing.

We, as God’s children redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, sometimes are hard of hearing—unable, or perhaps unwilling, to tune our ears to the exuberant love God sings over us. His adoration of us is like that of the young father, who lovingly sang to his son despite his inability to hear. He has taken away our punishment too, giving us further reason to rejoice. Perhaps we might try to listen more closely to hear the joy ringing loudly in His voice. Father, help us to hear Your loving melody and savor being held safely in Your arms.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

What keeps you from hearing God? How can you tune your ears to hear His delight in you?

Thank You, God, for taking great delight in me. May I always listen to your voice as You joyfully sing over me.

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Our Daily Bread — The Right Words

Bible in a Year:

Pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan.

Ephesians 6:19 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 6:10–20

In the past year or so, a number of authors have urged believers to take a fresh look at the “vocabulary” of our faith. One writer, for example, emphasized that even theologically rich words of faith can lose their impact when, through overfamiliarity and overuse, we lose touch with the depths of the gospel and our need for God. When that happens, he suggested, we may need to relearn the language of faith “from scratch,” letting go of our assumptions until we can see the good news for the first time.

The invitation to learn to “speak God from scratch” reminds me of Paul, who devoted his life to “[becoming] all things to all people . . . for the sake of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:22–23). He never assumed he knew best how to communicate what Jesus had done. Instead, he relied on constant prayer and pleaded for fellow believers to pray for him as well—to help him find “the right words” (Ephesians 6:19 nlt) to share the good news.

The apostle also knew the need for each believer in Christ to remain humble and receptive each day to their need for deeper roots in His love (3:16–17). It’s only as we deepen our roots in God’s love, each day becoming more aware of our dependence on His grace, that we can begin to find the right words to share the incredible news of what He’s done for us.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

When have you had an experience of seeing the gospel in a new way for the first time? How can prayer keep your heart receptive to your constant need for God’s grace?

Loving God, forgive me for, far too often, taking Your grace and goodness for granted. Help me to daily grasp in new ways the depths of Your grace and love. And help me find the right words to share what You’ve done.

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Our Daily Bread — Fueled by Fire

Bible in a Year:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us . . . . But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods.

Daniel 3:17–18

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Daniel 3:13–18, 25–27

When two firefighters, weary and sooty, stopped at a restaurant for breakfast, the waitress recognized the men from the news and realized they’d spent the night battling a warehouse fire. To show her appreciation, she wrote a note on their bill, “Your breakfast is on me today. Thank you . . . for serving others and for running into the places everyone else runs away from. . . . Fueled by fire and driven by courage, what an example you are.” 

In the Old Testament, we see an example of courage in the actions of three young men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3). Instead of obeying the mandate to bow down to a statue of the Babylonian king, these young men courageously showed their love for God through their refusal. Their penalty was to be thrown into a blazing furnace. Yet the men didn’t back down: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold” (vv. 17–18). 

God did rescue them and even walked with them in the fire (vv. 25–27). In our fiery trials and troubles today, we too have the assurance that God is with us. He is able.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt God’s presence during a difficult trial? What gives you confidence to press on when challenges come?

Almighty God, thank You for being with me in the fire and for comforting me with Your presence.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Jesus’ Unpopular Ideas

Bible in a Year:

Give to the one who asks you.

Matthew 5:42

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 5:38–48

For fifteen years, Mike Burden held hate-filled meetings in the memorabilia shop he ran in his small town. But in 2012 when his wife began to question his involvement, his heart softened. He realized how wrong his racist views were and didn’t want to be that person any longer. The militant group retaliated by kicking his family out of the apartment they’d been renting from one of the members.

Where did he turn for help? Surprisingly, he went to a local black pastor with whom he’d clashed. The pastor and his church provided housing and groceries for Mike’s family for some time. When asked why he agreed to help, Pastor Kennedy explained, “Jesus Christ did some very unpopular things. When it’s time to help, you do what God wants you to do.” Later Mike spoke at Kennedy’s church and apologized to the black community for his part in spreading hatred.

Jesus taught some unpopular ideas in the Sermon on the Mount: “Give to the one who asks you . . . . Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:4244). That’s the upside-down way of thinking God calls us to follow. Though it looks like weakness, it’s actually acting out of God’s strength.

The One who teaches us is the One who gives the power to live out this upside-down life in whatever way He asks of us.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

How are you living out Jesus’ words of giving to those who ask and loving your enemies? What would you like to change?

God, help me to love others as You love me. Show me how to do that today.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Milk Comes First

Bible in a Year:

Solid food is for the mature.

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Hebrews 5:11–6:2

In the seventh century, what is now called the United Kingdom was many kingdoms often at war. When one king, Oswald of Northumbria, became a believer in Jesus, he called for a missionary to bring the gospel to his region. A man named Corman was sent, but things didn’t go well. Finding the English “stubborn,” “barbarous,” and uninterested in his preaching, he returned home frustrated.

“I am of the opinion,” a monk named Aidan told Corman, “that you were more severe to your unlearned hearers than you ought to have been.” Instead of giving the Northumbrians “the milk of more easy doctrine,” Corman had given them teaching they couldn’t yet grasp. Aidan went to Northumbria, adapted his preaching to the people’s understanding, and thousands became believers in Jesus.

Aidan got this sensitive approach to mission from Scripture. “I gave you milk, not solid food,” Paul told the Corinthians, “for you were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3:2). Before right living can be expected from people, Hebrews says, basic teaching about Jesus, repentance, and baptism must be grasped (Hebrews 5:13–6:2). While maturity should follow (5:14), let’s not miss the order. Milk comes before meat. People can’t obey teaching they don’t understand.

The faith of the Northumbrians ultimately spread to the rest of the country and beyond. Like Aidan, when sharing the gospel with others, we meet people where they are.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

In simple terms, how would you explain the gospel? How can you avoid expecting people who aren’t believers in Jesus to think or behave as you do?

Jesus, thank You for reaching me in ways I could understand.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Working Together

Bible in a Year:

If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.

Exodus 18:23

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Exodus 18:13–23

Joe worked more than twelve hours a day, often without taking breaks. Starting a charitable business demanded so much time and energy that he had little left to offer his wife and children when he got home. After the toll of chronic stress landed Joe in the hospital, a friend offered to organize a team to help him. Though he dreaded giving up control, Joe knew he couldn’t keep up his current pace. He agreed to trust his friend—and God—as he delegated responsibilities to the group of people they chose together. A year later, Joe admitted that the charity and his family could never have prospered if he’d refused the help God had sent him.

God didn’t design people to thrive without the support of a loving community. In Exodus 18, Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness. He tried serving God’s people as a teacher, a counselor, and a judge all on his own. When his father-in-law visited, he offered Moses advice: “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out,” said Jethro. “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). He encouraged Moses to share the workload with faithful people. Moses accepted help and the whole community benefited.

When we trust that God works in and through all His people as we work together, we can find true rest.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can you trust God by asking for help or offering help to someone in leadership this week? How has He provided you the support of trustworthy people?

Father God, thank You for never asking me to handle life without Your help or the support of others.

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Learning from Foolishness

Bible in a Year:

The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense.

Ecclesiastes 10:2–3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ecclesiastes 10:1–14

A man walked into a convenience store in Wollongong, Australia, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars.

We all act foolishly at times—even if, unlike this thief, we’re trying to do the right thing. The key is how we learn from our foolish behavior. Without correction, our poor choices can become habits, which will negatively shape our character. We’ll become “fools . . . [who] lack sense” (Ecclesiastes 10:3). 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit our foolishness because of the extra work it requires. Perhaps we need to reflect on a particular character flaw, and that’s painful. Or maybe we need to admit that a decision was made hastily and next time we should take more care. Whatever the reason, it never pays to ignore our foolish ways.

Thankfully, God can use our foolishness to discipline and shape us. Discipline isn’t “pleasant at the time,” but its training yields good fruit in the long run (Hebrews 12:11). Let’s accept our Father’s discipline for our foolish behavior and ask Him to make us more like the sons and daughters He intends us to be.

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

What’s a recent foolish choice you’ve made? What do you think God wants you to learn from it?

Thank You, Father, for using my foolishness to train me. May I accept Your discipline graciously as You continue to work in me.

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Our Daily Bread — At Our Worst

Bible in a Year:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ephesians 4:20–32

“She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” This sentence, pronounced by Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is the reason I will never forget that novel and its impact on me. Because after reading that one sentence, I firmly decided I would never like Mr. Darcy.

But I was wrong. Like Austen’s character Elizabeth Bennet, I had the humbling experience of slowly—and quite reluctantly—changing my mind. Like her, I’d been unwilling to get to know Darcy’s character as a whole; I preferred to hang onto my reaction to one of his worst moments. After finishing the novel, I wondered who I’d made that same mistake with in the real world. What friendships had I missed because I wouldn’t let go of a snap judgment?

At the heart of faith in Jesus is the experience of being seen, loved, and embraced by our Savior—at our worst (Romans 5:81 John 4:19). It’s the wonder of realizing we can surrender our old, false selves for who we truly are in Christ (Ephesians 4:23–24). And it’s the joy of understanding that we are no longer alone but part of a family, a “body” of those learning to walk the “way of love”—real, unconditional love (5:2).

When we remember what Christ has done for us (v. 2), how can we not long to see others the way He sees us?

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think you sometimes cling to negative judgments about others? What experiences have you had of “being wrong” about someone?

God, it’s really hard, sometimes, to let go of that impulse to judge and compare, to resist that need to see myself as better than others. Help me to grasp, deep in my heart, the truth that I don’t need to compete and that I am loved.

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Our Daily Bread — Seeing with New Eyes

Bible in a Year:

[Don’t look] to your own interests but each of you to the interests of . . . others.

Philippians 2:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Philippians 2:1–5

A video game, one that’s become a cultural phenomenon, places a hundred players on a virtual island to compete until one player remains. Whenever a player eliminates you from the contest, you can continue to watch through that player’s vantage point. As one journalist notes, “When you step into another player’s shoes and inhabit their point of view, the emotional register . . . shifts from self-preservation to . . . communal solidarity. . . . You begin to feel invested in the stranger who, not too long ago, did you in.”

Transformation happens whenever we open ourselves to see another’s experience, looking beyond our own vision and encountering another’s pain, fear, or hopes. When we follow Jesus’ example and “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” and instead “in humility value others above [our]selves,” then we notice things we would have missed otherwise (Philippians 2:3). Our concerns broaden. We ask different questions. Rather than being preoccupied with only our own needs or angst, we become invested in others’ well-being. Rather than looking to “[our] own interests,” we become committed “to the interests of . . . others” (v. 4). Rather than protecting what we assume we need to thrive, we joyfully pursue whatever helps others flourish.

With this transformed vision, we gain compassion for others. We discover new ways to love our family. We may even make a friend out of an enemy!

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

How can the Holy Spirit help you avoid becoming small, narrow, or selfish? How do you think God’s inviting you to see others with new eyes?

Jesus, too often what I see is only my fear, my pain, or my lack. Help me to see my sisters and brothers. I want to truly see them and love them.  

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