Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — To Be Human

 

Bible in a Year:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.

Matthew 23:37

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Matthew 23:37–24:2

“Mr. Singerman, why are you crying?” asked twelve-year-old Albert as he watched the master craftsman construct a wooden box.

“I cry,” he said, “because my father cried, and because my grandfather cried.” The woodworker’s answer to his young apprentice provides a tender moment in an episode of Little House on the Prairie. “Tears,” explained Mr. Singerman, “come with the making of a coffin.”

“Some men don’t cry because they fear it is a sign of weakness,” he said. “I was taught that a man is a man because he can cry.”

Emotion must have welled up in the eyes of Jesus as He compared His concern for Jerusalem to the care of a mother hen for her chicks (Matthew 23:37). His disciples were often confused by what they saw in His eyes or heard in His stories. His idea of what it meant to be strong was different. It happened again as they walked with Him from the temple. Calling His attention to the massive stone walls and magnificent decor of their place of worship (24:1), the disciples noted the strength of human accomplishment. Jesus saw a temple that would be leveled in ad 70.

Christ shows us that healthy people know when to cry and why. He cried because His Father cares and His Spirit groans for children who couldn’t yet see what breaks His heart.

By:  Mart DeHaan

Reflect & Pray

In what situations in your life might you be avoiding grief? How can your faith in a Savior who cries (John 11:35) help you express your grief in a healthy way?

Father, please replace any cold illusions of strength I cling to with a growing understanding of the cares and concerns that break Your heart for children like me. 

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Never Alone

 

Bible in a Year:

Two are better than one . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9–10

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Ecclesiastes 4:8–12

“It can be an affliction more harrowing than homelessness, hunger or disease,” wrote Maggie Fergusson in The Economist’s 1843 magazine. Her subject? Loneliness. Fergusson chronicled the increasing rates of loneliness, irrespective of one’s social or economic status, using heart-wrenching examples of what it feels like to be lonely.

The hurt of feeling alone isn’t new to our day. Indeed, the pain of isolation echoes off the pages of the ancient book of Ecclesiastes. Often attributed to King Solomon, the book captures the sorrow of those who seem to lack any meaningful relationships (4:7–8). The speaker lamented that it’s possible to acquire significant wealth and yet experience no value from it because there’s no one to share it with.

But the speaker also recognized the beauty of companionship, writing that friends help you accomplish more than you could achieve on your own (v. 9); companions help in times of need (v. 10); partners bring comfort (v. 11); and friends can provide protection in difficult situations (v. 12).

Loneliness is a significant struggle—God created us to offer and receive the benefits of friendship and community. If you’re feeling alone, pray that God would help you form meaningful connections with others. In the meantime, find encouragement in the reality that the believer is never truly alone because Jesus’ Spirit is always with us (Matthew 28:20).

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

How might you reach out to someone who’s lonely? How have you experienced the blessing of God’s Spirit with you when you’ve felt alone?

Heavenly Father, when I feel lonely, give me courage to reach out to others with an offer of friendship. 

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Turn on the Light

 

Bible in a Year:

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 5:14–16

As my husband and I prepared for a cross-country move, I wanted to ensure that we kept in touch with our grown sons. I found a unique gift, friendship lamps connected by wireless internet, which can be turned on remotely. When I gave the lamps to my sons, I explained that their lamps will turn on when I touch my lamp—to provide a shining reminder of my love and ongoing prayers. No matter how great the distance between us, a tap on their lamps would trigger a light in our home too. Though we knew nothing could replace our more personal moments of connection, we could be encouraged by knowing we’re loved and prayed for every time we turned on those lights.

All God’s children have the privilege of being light-sharers powered by the Holy Spirit. We’re designed to live as radiant beacons of God’s everlasting hope and unconditional love. When we’re sharing the gospel and serving others in the name of Jesus, we become brilliant spotlights and living testimonies. Every good deed, kind smile, gentle word of encouragement, and heartfelt prayer produces a beaming reminder of God’s faithfulness and His unconditional and life-transforming love (Matthew 5:14–16).

Wherever God leads us, and however we serve Him, we can be used by Him to help others shine His light. As God, by His Spirit, provides the true illumination, we can reflect the light and love of His presence.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can you be a light for Christ, intentionally expressing His love to those in your sphere of influence this week? How can you shine a light on God’s love as you serve people who don’t know Him?

Loving Father, please fuel me with Your perfect truth and love so I can shine a spotlight on You by loving You and others wherever I go.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Like Jesus

 

Bible in a Year:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

Romans 8:29

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 8:22–30

As a boy, theologian Bruce Ware was frustrated that 1 Peter 2:21–23 calls us to be like Jesus. Ware wrote of his youthful exasperation in his book The Man Christ Jesus. “Not fair, I determined. Especially when the passage says to follow in the steps of one ‘who did no sin.’ This was totally outlandish . . . . I just couldn’t see how God could really mean for us to take it seriously.”

I understand why Ware would find such a biblical challenge so daunting! An old chorus says, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus. My desire, to be like Him.” But as Ware rightly noted, we are incapable of doing that. Left to ourselves, we could never become like Jesus.

However, we’re not left to ourselves. The Holy Spirit has been given to the child of God, in part so that Christ can be formed in us (Galatians 4:19). So it should come as no surprise that in Paul’s great chapter on the Spirit we read, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God will see His work completed in us. And He does it through the Spirit of Jesus living in us.

As we yield to the Spirit’s work in us, we truly become more like Jesus. How comforting to know that’s God’s great desire for us!

By:  Bill Crowder

What attribute of the fruit of the Spirit would you like to live out to a greater degree? (see Galatians 5:22–23). What will help you do so?

Father, I long to be more like Your Son but so often fall short in word, thought, or deed. Forgive me, and help me to yield to the work of Your Spirit so that Jesus might be formed in me.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Unimaginable Promises

 

Bible in a Year:

He has given us his very great and precious promises.

2 Peter 1:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight: 2 Peter 1:2–8

In our moments of greatest failure, it can be easy to believe it’s too late for us, that we’ve lost our chance at a life of purpose and worth. That’s how Elias, a former inmate at a maximum-security prison in New York, described feeling as a prisoner. “I had broken . . . promises, the promise of my own future, the promise of what I could be.”

It was Bard College’s “Prison Initiative” college degree program that began to transform Elias’ life. While in the program, he participated on a debate team, which in 2015 debated a team from Harvard—and won. For Elias, being “part of the team . . . [was] a way of proving that these promises weren’t completely lost.”

A similar transformation happens in our hearts when we begin to understand that the good news of God’s love in Jesus is good news for us too. It’s not too late, we begin to realize with wonder. God still has a future for me.

And it’s a future that can neither be earned nor forfeited, dependent only on God’s extravagant grace and power (2 Peter 1:2–3). A future where we’re set free from the despair in the world and in our hearts into one filled with His “glory and goodness” (v. 3). A future secure in Christ’s unimaginable promises (v. 4); and a future transformed into the “freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

By:  Monica La Rose

 

Why can it be difficult for us to accept “unearned” grace and love? How does it touch your heart to consider that in God’s eyes you have a future filled with unimaginable beauty?

Jesus, some days all I can see is the ways I’ve disappointed myself and others, the ways I’ve broken the future I’ve dreamed of. Help me to see the unchanging beauty of the future I find in You. 

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Strengthened by Grace

 

Bible in a Year:

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight: 2 Timothy 2:1–4

During the American Civil War, the penalty for desertion was execution. But the Union armies rarely executed deserters because their commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, pardoned nearly all of them. This infuriated Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, who believed that Lincoln’s leniency only enticed would-be deserters. But Lincoln empathized with soldiers who had lost their nerve and who had given in to their fear in the heat of battle. And his empathy endeared him to his soldiers. They loved their “Father Abraham,” and their affection led the soldiers to want to serve Lincoln all the more.

When Paul calls Timothy to join him in “suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3), he calls him to a tough job description. A soldier is to be completely dedicated, hard-working, and selfless. He’s to serve his commanding officer, Jesus, wholeheartedly. But in reality, we sometimes fail to be His good soldiers. We don’t always serve Him faithfully. And so Paul’s opening phrase is important: “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). Our Savior is full of grace. He empathizes with our weaknesses and forgives our failures (Hebrews 4:15). And just as the Union soldiers were encouraged by Lincoln’s compassion, so believers are strengthened by the grace of Jesus. We want to serve Him all the more because we know He loves us.

By:  Con Campbell

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How can the grace of Christ become a source of strength for you to serve Him? What does it mean for you to suffer for Jesus?

Dear God, please strengthen me in the grace of Christ that I may serve Him faithfully.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — We’re Not God

 

Bible in a Year:

In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god.”

Ezekiel 28:2

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Ezekiel 28:1–10

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis recommended asking ourselves some questions to find out if we’re proud: “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, . . . or patronize me, or show off?” Lewis saw pride as a vice of the “utmost evil” and the chief cause of misery in homes and nations. He called it a “spiritual cancer” that eats up the very possibility of love, contentment, and even common sense.

Pride has been a problem throughout the ages. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God warned the leader of the powerful coastal city of Tyre against his pride. He said the king’s pride would result in his downfall: “Because you think you are . . . as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you” (Ezekiel 28:6–7). Then he would know he wasn’t a god, but a mortal (v. 9).

In contrast to pride is humility, which Lewis named as a virtue we receive through knowing God. Lewis said that as we get in touch with Him, we become “delightedly humble,” feeling relieved to be rid of the silly nonsense about our own dignity that previously made us restless and unhappy.

The more we worship God, the more we’ll know Him and the more we can humble ourselves before Him. May we be those who love and serve with joy and humility.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How did you answer Lewis’ questions about whether or not you’re proud? Did that surprise you? Why or why not?

Almighty God, help me to revel in my identity as one You created, knowing You are great and mighty and yet You love me.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Remember to Sing

 

Bible in a Year:

How good it is to sing praises to our God.

Psalm 147:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 147:1–7

Nancy Gustafson, a retired opera singer, was devastated when she visited her mother and observed her decline from dementia. Her mom no longer recognized her and barely spoke. After several monthly visits, Nancy had an idea. She started singing to her. Her mother’s eyes lit up at the musical sounds, and she began singing too—for twenty minutes! Then Nancy’s mom laughed, joking they were “The Gustafson Family Singers!” The dramatic turnaround suggested the power of music, as some therapists conclude, to evoke lost memories. Singing “old favorites” has also been shown to boost mood, reduce falls, lessen visits to the emergency room, and decrease the need for sedative drugs.

More research is underway on a music-memory link. Yet, as the Bible reveals, the joy that comes from singing is a gift from God—and it’s real. “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Psalm 147:1).

Throughout the Scriptures, in fact, God’s people are urged to lift their voices in songs of praise to Him. “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (Isaiah 12:5). “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:3). Our singing inspires us but also those who hear it. May we all remember: our God is great and worthy of praise.

By:  Patricia Raybon

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Reflect & Pray

What role does singing play in your life? How can you make more time for singing songs of praise with those who are experiencing memory problems?

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Desperate Solutions

 

Bible in a Year:

You did not . . . have regard for the One who planned it long ago.

Isaiah 22:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Isaiah 22:8–13

In the late sixteenth century, William of Orange intentionally flooded much of his nation’s land. The Dutch monarch resorted to such a drastic measure in an attempt to drive out the invading Spaniards. It didn’t work, and a vast swath of prime farmland was lost to the sea. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” they say.

In Isaiah’s day, Jerusalem turned to desperate measures when the Assyrian army threatened them. Creating a water storage system to endure the siege, the people also tore down houses to shore up the city walls. Such tactics may have been prudent, but they neglected the most important step. “You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool,” God said, “but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago” (Isaiah 22:11).

We aren’t likely to encounter a literal army outside our homes today. “The batterings always come in commonplace ways and through commonplace people,” said Oswald Chambers. Yet, such “batterings” are genuine threats. Thankfully, they also bring with them God’s invitation to turn to Him first for what we need.

When life’s irritations and interruptions come, will we see them as opportunities to turn to God? Or will we seek our own desperate solutions?

By:  Tim Gustafson

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Reflect & Pray

What ordinary threats do you face today? What do you need to face them?

Today, loving God, I turn to You first with all of my challenges, large and small.

Download Forty Days of Praying the Word at go.odb.org/40-days.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Thinking Differently

 

Bible in a Year:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world.

Romans 12:2

 

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Romans 12:1–3

During college, I spent a good chunk of a summer in Venezuela. The food was astounding, the people delightful, the weather and hospitality beautiful. Within the first day or two, however, I recognized that my views on time management weren’t shared by my new friends. If we planned to have lunch at noon, this meant anywhere between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. The same for meetings or travel: timeframes were approximations without rigid punctuality. I learned that my idea of “being on time” was far more culturally formed than I’d realized.

All of us are shaped by the cultural values that surround us, usually without us ever noticing. Paul calls this cultural force the “world” (Romans 12:2). Here, “world” doesn’t mean the physical universe, but rather refers to the ways of thinking pervading our existence. It refers to the unquestioned assumptions and guiding ideals handed to us simply because we live in a particular place and time.

Paul warns us to be vigilant to “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Instead, we must be “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (v. 2). Rather than passively taking on the ways of thinking and believing that engulf us, we’re called to actively pursue God’s way of thinking and to learn how to understand His “good, pleasing and perfect will” (v. 2). May we learn to follow God rather than every other voice.

By:  Winn Collier

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Reflect & Pray

How would you describe the values and assumptions that surround you? What would it look like for you to not conform to the world’s ways and to instead follow Jesus’ ways?

God, I don’t even recognize my assumptions and values most of the time. Help me to live out Your truth and Your mind in it all.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Spitting Image

 

Bible in a Year:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Colossians 1:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:  Colossians 1:15–23

During an outing, we met a woman who had known my husband’s family since he was a child. She looked from Alan to our son, Xavier. “He’s the spitting image of his daddy,” she said. “Those eyes. That smile. Yep. Looks just like him.” As the woman delighted in acknowledging such a strong resemblance between father and son, she even noted similarities in their personalities. Still, though they are alike in many ways, my son doesn’t reflect his father perfectly.

There’s only one Son—Jesus—who reflects His Father completely. Christ is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). In Him and through Him and for Him all things were created (v. 16). “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (v. 17).

We can spend time in prayer and Bible study, discovering the Father’s character by looking at Jesus—God in the flesh. He invites us to witness His love in action by examining how He interacts with others in Scripture and in our day-to-day living. After surrendering our lives to Christ and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in knowing and trusting our loving Father. He transforms us to reflect His character, so we can live for Him.

What a joy it would be if others could say we look just like Jesus!

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

What character trait of Jesus have you seen cultivated in your life over the last year? What trait would you like to cultivate in the coming year?

Jesus, please help me know You more as You make me more like You!

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sending Out an SOS

 

Bible in a Year:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me.

Psalm 34:4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 34:1–10

When the hut of a settler in a mountainous region of Alaska caught fire, the settler was left without adequate shelter and with few provisions in the coldest state in the US—in the middle of a frigid winter. Three weeks later, the man was finally rescued when an aircraft flew over and spied the large SOS he had stamped out in the snow and darkened with soot.

The psalmist David was certainly in dire straits. He was being pursued by jealous King Saul who sought to kill him. And so he fled to the city of Gath, where he pretended to be insane in order to preserve his life (see 1 Samuel 21). Out of those events emerged Psalm 34, where David cried out in prayer to God and found peace (vv. 4, 6). God heard his pleas and delivered him.

Are you in a desperate situation and crying out for help? Be assured that God still hears and responds to our desperate prayers today. As with David, He’s attentive to our distress calls and takes away our fears (v. 4)—and sometimes even saves us “out of [our] troubles” (v. 6).

Scripture invites us to “cast [our] cares on the Lord and he will sustain [us]” (Psalm 55:22). When we turn our difficult circumstances over to God, we can trust that He’ll provide the help we need. We’re secure in His capable hands.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt peace after crying out to God? When has He rescued you from a desperate situation?

Loving Father, thank You for hearing my prayers and bringing comfort, peace—whatever I need most. And thank You especially for rescuing me from my sin.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Something New

 

Bible in a Year:

See, I am doing a new thing! . . . I am making . . . streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Isaiah 43:14–21

Farming is difficult in areas that lack fresh water. To help solve this problem, the Seawater Greenhouse company has created something new: “cooling houses” in Somaliland, Africa, and other countries with similar climates. Cooling houses use solar pumps to drizzle saltwater over walls made of corrugated cardboard. As the water moves down each panel, it leaves its salt behind. Much of the remaining fresh water evaporates inside the structure, which becomes a humid place where fruit and vegetable crops can flourish.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised to do a “new thing” as He provided “streams in the wasteland” for ancient Israel (Isaiah 43:19). This new thing contrasted with the old thing He had done to rescue His people from the Egyptian army. Remember the Red Sea account? God wanted His people to recall the past but not let it overshadow His current involvement in their lives (v. 18). He said, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness” (v. 19).

While looking to the past can bolster our faith in God’s provision, living in the past can blind us to all the fresh work of God’s Spirit today. We can ask God to show us how He’s currently moving—helping, remaking, and sustaining His people. May this awareness prompt us to partner with Him to meet the needs of others, both near and far.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

What new thing is God doing in your life? How is He using you to touch others’ lives and help make the world a better place?

Dear God, I praise You as the living One who constantly does new things. Help me to trust You to meet my changing needs.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Joyful Celebration

 

A Joyful Celebration

The wedding of the Lamb has come.

Revelation 19:7

My friend Sharon passed away one year prior to the death of my friend Dave’s teenage daughter Melissa. They both had been tragically killed in car accidents. One night both Sharon and Melissa were in my dream. They giggled and talked as they hung streamers in a large banquet hall and ignored me when I stepped into the room. A long table with white tablecloths had been set with golden plates and goblets. I asked if I could help decorate, but they didn’t seem to hear me and kept working.

But then Sharon said, “This party is Melissa’s wedding reception.”

“Who’s the groom?” I asked.

Neither responded but smiled and looked at each other knowingly. Finally, it dawned on me—it’s Jesus!

“Jesus is the groom,” I whispered as I woke up.

My dream brings to mind the joyful celebration believers in Jesus will share together when He returns. It’s portrayed in Revelation as a lavish feast called “the wedding supper of the Lamb” (19:9). John the Baptist, who prepared people for the first coming of Christ, had called Him “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He also referred to Jesus as “the bridegroom” and to himself as the “friend” (like the best man) who waited for Him (3:29).

On that banquet day and for all eternity we will enjoy unbroken fellowship with Jesus, our groom, and with Sharon and Melissa and all of God’s people.

By Anne Cetas

REFLECT & PRAY

I look forward to that day of celebration and seeing You, Jesus. Come quickly. Read more about Christ’s ultimate triumph in this study of Revelation.

What does Jesus’ invitation to come to Him for forgiveness and eternal life mean to you? Who could you tell your story to?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

Who is the “great prostitute” who’s condemned in Revelation 19:2? It’s clear from Revelation 17:1-6, 15-16 that the prostitute is Babylon. However, this naturally raises the question: what is Babylon? Babylon is the world system that has “corrupted the earth” and killed God’s true servants (19:2). It’s a way of life—both cultural and political—at war with scriptural principles, with God-fearing people, and with God Himself. Not to be missed in the chapter is the contrast between the “great prostitute” and the true bride of Christ—the church. It’s this “bride” that’s the target of so much persecution. Revelation 19 celebrates the final judgment of the world system that opposes God. Tim Gustafson

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Christmas Gift of Speech

 

Bible in a Year:

[Zechariah’s] mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.

Luke 1:64

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Luke 1:62–75

A post-surgical stroke had robbed Tom of his ability to speak, and he faced a long rehab journey. Weeks later, we were pleasantly surprised when he showed up at our church’s Thanksgiving service. We were even more surprised when he stood up to speak. Searching for what to say, he jumbled his words, repeated himself, and confused days and time. But one thing was clear: he was praising God! It’s possible to have your heart break and be blessed at the same moment. This was that kind of moment.

In the “pre-Christmas story” we meet a man who lost the gift of speech. Gabriel the angel appeared to Zechariah the priest and told him he would be the father of a great prophet (see Luke 1:11–17). Zechariah and his wife were elderly, so he doubted it. That’s when Gabriel told him he would not speak “until the day this happens” (v. 20).

The day did happen. And at the ceremony to name the miracle baby, Zechariah spoke. With his first words he praised God (v. 64). Then he said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them” (v. 68).

Like Zechariah, as soon as he was able, Tom’s response was to praise God. Their hearts were inclined toward the One who made their tongues and their minds. Regardless of what faces us this season, we can respond the same way.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

How do you respond when a crisis comes? What’s your reaction when you come through it?

Thank You, Father, for the gift of speech. In my times of doubt, be with me to strengthen my faith. Help me learn how to use language to draw near to and honor You.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Prayerful Wrestling

 

Bible in a Year:

Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

Genesis 32:24

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Genesis 32:24–32

Dennis’ life was transformed after someone gave him a New Testament. Reading it captivated him, and it became his constant companion. Within six months, two life-changing events occurred in his life. He placed his faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, and he was diagnosed with a brain tumor after experiencing severe headaches. Because of the unbearable pain, he became bedridden and unable to work. One painful, sleepless night he found himself crying out to God. Sleep finally came at 4:30 a.m.

Bodily pain can cause us to cry out to God, but other excruciating life circumstances also compel us to run to Him. Centuries before Dennis’ night of wrestling, a desperate Jacob faced off with God (Genesis 32:24–32). For Jacob, it was unfinished family business. He had wronged his brother Esau (ch. 27), and he feared that payback was imminent. In seeking God’s help in this difficult situation, Jacob encountered God face-to-face (32:30) and emerged from it a changed man.

And so did Dennis. After pleading with God in prayer, Dennis was able to stand up after being bedridden, and the doctor’s examination showed no signs of the tumor. Although God doesn’t always choose to miraculously heal us, we’re confident that He hears our prayers and will give us what we need for our situation. In our desperation we offer sincere prayers to God and leave the results to Him!

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What are you struggling with that you could bring before God in prayer? What are some of the benefits of praying from the depths of our hearts even when He chooses not to change the situation?

Father, help me to see that life’s difficulties and challenges are opportunities for me to seek You in prayer and to grow in my understanding of who You are.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Morning Mist

 

Bible in a Year:

I have swept away your offenses . . . like the morning mist.

Isaiah 44:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Isaiah 44:9–11, 21–23

One morning I visited a pond near my house. I sat on an overturned boat, thinking and watching a gentle west wind chase a layer of mist across the water’s surface. Wisps of fog circled and swirled. Mini “tornadoes” rose up and then exhausted themselves. Before long, the sunlight cut through the clouds and the mist disappeared.

This scene comforted me because I connected it with a verse I’d just read: “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist” (Isaiah 44:22). I visited the place hoping to distract myself from a series of sinful thoughts I’d been preoccupied with for days. Although I was confessing them, I began to wonder if God would forgive me when I repeated the same sin.

That morning, I knew the answer was yes. Through His prophet Isaiah, God showed grace to the Israelites when they struggled with the ongoing problem of idol worship. Although He told them to stop chasing false gods, God also invited them back to Himself, saying, “I have made you, you are my servant; . . . I will not forget you” (v. 21).

I don’t fully grasp forgiveness like that, but I do understand that God’s grace is the only thing that can dissolve our sin completely and heal us from it. I’m thankful His grace is endless and divine like He is, and that it’s available whenever we need it.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

How is it possible to abuse God’s grace? What steps can you take to break free of sinful habits and experience His forgiveness?

Dear God, thank You for Your gracious presence in my life. I don’t want to live in habitual sin. Help me to feel the freedom that comes when I confess my sin and You erase it completely.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The True Servant

 

Bible in a Year:

Being found in appearance as a man, [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:8

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Philippians 2:6–11

In 27 bc, the Roman ruler Octavian came before the Senate to lay down his powers. He’d won a civil war, become the sole ruler of that region of the world, and was functioning like an emperor. Yet he knew such power was viewed suspiciously. So Octavian renounced his powers before the Senate, vowing to simply be an appointed official. Their response? The Roman Senate honored the ruler by crowning him with a civic crown and naming him the servant of the Roman people. He was also given the name Augustus—the “great one.”

Paul wrote of Jesus emptying Himself and taking on the form of a servant. Augustus appeared to do the same. Or had he? Augustus only acted like he was surrendering his power but was doing it for his own gain. Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). Death on a Roman cross was the worst form of humiliation and shame.

Today, a primary reason people praise “servant leadership” as a virtue is because of Jesus. Humility wasn’t a Greek or Roman virtue. Because Jesus died on the cross for us, He’s the true Servant. He’s the true Savior.

Christ became a servant in order to save us. He “made himself nothing” (v. 7) so that we could receive something truly great—the gift of salvation and eternal life.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Why is it true that we’re never out of God’s reach? What does it mean for you to know that Jesus is the Servant who suffered and died in order to save you?

Dear Jesus, thank You for giving Your life for me. Your servanthood wasn’t a show but the reality of Your love for me. Fill my heart with love and gratitude today.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Guidance

 

Bible in a Year:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.

Psalm 1:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 1:1–3

When their bank accidentally deposited $120,000 into their account, a couple went on a shopping spree. They purchased an SUV, a camper, and two four-wheelers in addition to paying off bills. Discovering the deposit error, the bank told the couple to return the money. Unfortunately, the husband and wife had already spent it. They were then charged with felony theft. When the couple arrived at the local court, the husband said to a reporter, “We took some bad legal advice.” The two learned that following bad advice (and spending what wasn’t theirs) could lead to making a mess of their lives.

In contrast, the psalmist shared wise advice that can help us avoid messing up in life. He wrote that those who find genuine fulfillment—who are “blessed”—refuse to be influenced by the advice of those who don’t serve God (Psalm 1:1). They know that unwise, ungodly counsel can lead to unseen dangers and costly consequences. Also, they’re motivated by (find “delight” in) and preoccupied with (“meditate on”) the timeless and unshakable truths of Scripture (v. 2). They’ve found that submitting to God’s guidance leads to stability and fruitfulness (v. 3).

When we’re making decisions, big or small, about our careers, money, relationships, and more, may we seek God’s wisdom found in the Bible, godly counsel, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. His guidance is essential and trustworthy for living a fulfilling life and not creating messes.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

Why do you believe Scripture is essential in making godly decisions? Who are your counselors that help you with wise advice? 

God, before I seek Your advice about things I don’t know, help me to practice obedience in the areas I do know, and in loving You and others.  

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — On the Same Team

 

Bible in a Year:

Encourage one another and build each other up.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 Thessalonians 5:1–11, 16–18

When Philadelphia Eagle’s quarterback Carson Wentz returned to the field after healing from a severe injury, the NFL team’s backup quarterback, Nick Foles, graciously returned to the bench. Although competing for the same position, the two men chose to support each other and remained confident in their roles. One reporter observed that the two athletes have a “unique relationship rooted in their faith in Christ” shown through their ongoing prayers for each other. As others watched, they brought honor to God by remembering they were on the same team—not just as Eagles quarterbacks, but as believers in Jesus representing Him.

The apostle Paul reminds believers to live as “children of the light” awaiting Jesus’ return (1 Thessalonians 5:5–6). With our hope secure in the salvation Christ has provided, we can shrug off any temptations to compete out of jealousy, insecurity, fear, or envy. Instead, we can “encourage one another and build each other up” (v. 11). We can respect spiritual leaders who honor God and “live in peace” as we serve together to accomplish our shared goal—telling people about the gospel and encouraging others to live for Jesus (vv. 12–15).

As we serve on the same team, we can heed Paul’s command: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (vv. 16–18).

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

Who has encouraged you while serving on the same team? How can you encourage someone who serves alongside you?

Jesus, please give me opportunities today to encourage someone who serves with me.

 

 

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