Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Vanity on Fire

 

Bible in a Year:Job 3–4; Acts 7:44–60

Create in me a pure heart, O God.

Psalm 51:10

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 5:21–30

In February 1497, a Monk named Girolamo Savonarola started a fire. Leading up to this, he and his followers spent several months collecting items that they thought might entice people to sin or neglect their religious duties—including artwork, cosmetics, instruments, and dresses. On the appointed day, thousands of vanity items were gathered at a public square in Florence, Italy, and set on fire. The event has come to be known as the Bonfire of the Vanities.

Savonarola might have found inspiration for his extreme actions in some shocking statements from the Sermon on the Mount. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away,” said Jesus. “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29–30). But if we interpret Jesus’s words literally, we miss the point of the message. The entire sermon is a lesson on going deeper than the surface, to focus on the state of our hearts rather than blaming our behavior on external distractions and temptations.

The Bonfire of the Vanities made a great show of destroying belongings and works of art, but it is unlikely that the hearts of those involved were changed in the process. Only God can change a heart. That’s why the psalmist prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). It’s our heart that counts.

By Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What behaviors or distractions might be on your list of “vanities”? How do you try to “manage” them?

Holy God, please give me the grace to surrender my heart to You and yield my life’s vanities to the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Playing with Joy

 

Bible in a Year:Job 1–2; Acts 7:22–43

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy.

Galatians 5:22

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Galatians 5:22–26

One of our sons, Brian, is a high school basketball coach. One year, as his team was dribbling its way through the Washington State Basketball Tournament, well-meaning folks around town asked, “Are you going to win it all this year?” Both players and coaches felt the pressure, so Brian adopted a motto: “Play with joy!”

I thought of the apostle Paul’s last words to the elders of Ephesus: “That I may finish my race with joy” (Acts 20:24 nkjv). His aim was to complete the tasks Jesus had given him. I have made these words my motto and my prayer: “May I run and finish my race with joy.” Or as Brian says, “May I play with joy!” And by the way, Brian’s team did win the state championship that year.

We all have good reasons to get grouchy: discouraging news, everyday stresses, health problems. Nevertheless, God can give us a joy that transcends these conditions if we ask Him. We can have what Jesus called, “my joy” (John 15:11).

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit of Jesus (Galatians 5:22). So we must remember each morning to ask Him to help us: “May I play with joy!” Author Richard Foster said, “To pray is to change. This is a great grace. How good of God to provide a path whereby our lives can be taken over by . . . joy.”

By David H. Roper

Reflect & Pray

What causes you to be discouraged? Where do you find your joy?

I turn my eyes to You, God. I’m grateful I can count on Your faithfulness to me. Please bring me into Your joy.

 

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Our Daily Bread — In Our Weakness

 

Bible in a Year:Nehemiah 12–13; Acts 4:23–37

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

Romans 8:26

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Romans 8:1–2, 10–17

Although Anne Sheafe Miller died in 1999 at the age of 90, she nearly passed away in 1942 after developing septicemia following a miscarriage and all treatments proved to be unsuccessful. When a patient at the same hospital mentioned his connection to a scientist who’d been working on a new wonder drug, Anne’s doctor pressed the government to release a tiny amount for Anne. Within a day, her temperature was back to normal! Penicillin had saved Anne’s life.

Since the fall, all human beings have experienced a devastating spiritual condition brought about by sin (Romans 5:12). Only the death and resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit has made it possible for us to be healed (8:1–2). The Holy Spirit enables us to enjoy abundant life on earth and for eternity in the presence of God (vv. 3–10). “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (v. 11).

When your sinful nature threatens to drain the life out of you, look to the source of your salvation, Jesus, and be strengthened by the power of His Spirit (vv. 11–17). “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” and “intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (vv. 26–27).

By Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Reflect & Pray

In what area do you need to experience the life of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit? How can you be more aware of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit?

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son and the power of the Holy Spirit who enables me to enjoy real life in You.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Rescuing Villains

 

Bible in a Year:Nehemiah 10–11; Acts 4:1–22

Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!

Daniel 3:28

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Daniel 3:26–30

The comic book hero is as popular as ever. In 2017 alone, six superhero movies accounted for more than $4 billion (US) in box office sales. But why are people so drawn to big action flicks?

Maybe it’s because, in part, such stories resemble God’s Big Story. There’s a hero, a villain, a people in need of rescue, and plenty of riveting action.

In this story, the biggest villain is Satan, the enemy of our souls. But there are lots of “little” villains as well. In the book of Daniel, for example, one is Nebuchadnezzar, the king of much of the known world, who decided to kill anyone who didn’t worship his giant statue (Daniel 3:1–6). When three courageous Jewish officials refused (vv. 12–18), God dramatically rescued them from a blazing furnace (vv. 24–27).

But in a surprising twist, we see this villain’s heart begin to change. In response to this spectacular event, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” (v. 28).

But then he threatened to kill anyone who defied God (v. 29), not yet understanding that God didn’t need his help. Nebuchadnezzar would learn more about God in chapter 4—but that’s another story.

What we see in Nebuchadnezzar isn’t just a villain, but someone on a spiritual journey. In God’s story of redemption, our hero, Jesus, reaches out to everyone needing rescue—including the villains among us.

By Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

Who do you know in need of God’s rescue? What can you do to help?

Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him. We can do the same.

 

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Our Daily Bread — God of All People

 

Bible in a Year:Ezra 1–2; John 19:23–42

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.

Acts 2:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Acts 2:1-12

Former Newsboys lead vocalist Peter Furler describes the performance of the band’s praise song “He Reigns.” The song paints a vivid picture of believers from every tribe and nation coming together to worship God in unity. Furler observed that whenever the Newsboys sang it he could sense the moving of the Holy Spirit in the gathering of believers.

Furler’s description of his experiences with “He Reigns” would likely have resonated with the crowds who converged on Jerusalem at Pentecost. When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), things began to happen beyond anyone’s experience. As a result, Jews representing every nation came together in confusion, because each one heard their own language being spoken to make God’s wonders known (vv. 5–6, 11). Peter explained to the crowd that this was in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in which God said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (v. 17).

This all-inclusive display of God’s awesome power made the crowd receptive to Peter’s declaration of the gospel, leading to three thousand converts that day alone (v. 41). Following this spectacular kickoff, these new believers then returned to their corner of the world, taking the good news with them.

The good news still resounds today—God’s message of hope for all people. As we praise God together, His Spirit moves among us, bringing people of every nation together in wonderful unity. He reigns!

By Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

In what ways do you see God’s image in other people? How can you view people from every tribe and nation through the lens of Jesus?

Dear heavenly Father, help me to reflect Your heart for all of Your people.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sharing Slices

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 34–36; John 19:1–22

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Proverbs 11:23-31

Steve, a sixty-two-year-old homeless military veteran, made his way to a warm climate where sleeping outdoors was tolerable year-round. One evening, as he displayed his hand-drawn art—his attempt to earn some money—a young woman approached and offered him several slices of pizza. Steve gratefully accepted. Moments later, Steve shared his bounty with another hungry, homeless person. Almost immediately, the same young woman resurfaced with another plate of food, acknowledging that he had been generous with what he’d been given.

Steve’s story illustrates the principle found in Proverbs 11:25 that when we’re generous with others, we’re likely to experience generosity as well. But we shouldn’t give with expecting something in return; rarely does our generosity return to us as quickly and obviously as it did for him. Rather, we give to help others in loving response to God’s instruction to do so (Philippians 2:3–4; 1 John 3:17). And when we do, God is pleased. While He’s under no obligation to refill our wallets or bellies, He often finds a way to refresh us—sometimes materially, other times spiritually.

Steve shared his second plate of pizza too with a smile and open hands. Despite his lack of resources, he is an example of what it means to live generously, willing to cheerfully share what we have with others instead of hoarding it for ourselves. As God leads and empowers us, may the same be said of us.

By Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

With whom can you share today? How have you been blessed through another’s generosity?

We can be generous with what God’s given us.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Can We Relax?

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 21–22; John 14

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 14:25-31

Darnell entered the physical therapist’s office knowing he would experience a lot of pain. The therapist stretched and bent his arm and held it in positions it hadn’t been in for months since his injury. After holding each uncomfortable position for a few seconds, she gently told him: “Okay, you can relax.” He said later, “I think I heard that at least fifty times in each therapy session: ‘Okay, you can relax.’ ”

Thinking of those words, Darnell realized they could apply to the rest of his life as well. He could relax in God’s goodness and faithfulness instead of worrying.

As Jesus neared His death, He knew His disciples would need to learn this. They’d soon face a time of upheaval and persecution. To encourage them, Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to live with them and remind them of what He had taught (John 14:26). And so He could say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (v. 27).

There’s plenty we could be uptight about in our everyday lives. But we can grow in our trust in God by reminding ourselves that His Spirit lives in us—and He offers us His peace. As we draw on His strength, we can hear Him in the therapist’s words: “Okay, you can relax.”

By Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What causes you stress? What characteristics of God can help you learn to trust Him more?

Teach me, Jesus, to trust Your faithfulness, to know Your presence, to experience Your peace—to relax.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Night Watches

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 19–20; John 13:21–38

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

Psalm 63:6

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 63:1-8

During my college days, my summers were spent working at a guest ranch in the stunningly beautiful mountains of Colorado. On a rotating basis, staff members were assigned “night watch” duty—to keep an eye out for forest fires in order to protect the guests as they slept. What initially seemed to be an exhausting and thankless task became a unique opportunity for me to be still, reflect, and find solace in the majesty of God’s presence.

King David earnestly sought and thirsted for the presence of God (Psalm 63:1), even from his bed and through the “watches of the night” (v. 6). The psalm makes it clear David was troubled. It’s possible the words contained in it reflect his deep sadness over the rebellion of his son Absalom. Yet the night became a time for David to find help and restoration in the “shadow of [God’s] wings” (v. 7)—in His power and presence.

Perhaps you’re dealing with some crisis or difficulty in your life, and the night watches have been anything but comforting. Perhaps your own “Absalom” weighs heavy on your heart and soul. Or other burdens of family, work, or finances plague your times of rest. If so, consider these sleepless moments to be opportunities to call out and cling to God—allowing His loving hand to uphold you (v. 8).

By 

Reflect & Pray

How do God’s promises encourage you when you face challenges that keep you awake at night? How can the night watches draw you closer to Him?

Dear God, thank You for always being awake and present with me in every night watch.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Objects in Mirror

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 15–16; John 12:27–50

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Philippians 3:7-14

“Must. Go. Faster.” That’s what Dr. Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, says in an iconic scene from the 1993 movie Jurassic Park as he and two other characters flee in a Jeep from a rampaging tyrannosaurus. When the driver looks in the rearview mirror, he sees the raging reptile’s jaw—right above the words: “OBJECTS IN MIRROR MAY BE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.”

The scene is a masterful combination of intensity and grim humor. But sometimes the “monsters” from our past feel like they’ll never stop pursuing us. We look in the “mirror” of our lives and see mistakes looming right there, threatening to consume us with guilt or shame.

The apostle Paul understood the past’s potentially paralyzing power. He’d spent years trying to live perfectly apart from Christ, and even persecuted Christians (Philippians 3:1–9). Regret over his past could easily have crippled him.

But Paul found such beauty and power in his relationship with Christ that he was compelled to let go of his old life (vv. 8–9). That freed him to look forward in faith instead of backward in fear or regret: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal” (vv. 13–14).

Our redemption in Christ has freed us to live for Him. We don’t have to let those “objects in (our) mirror” dictate our direction as we continue forward.

By Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

How do Paul’s insights on Christ’s forgiveness of us speak into those issues in your life? If you’re struggling with a past choice, who might you talk to for help to “press on”?

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Here for You

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 13–14; John 12:1–26

I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Deuteronomy 15:11

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Deuteronomy 15:7-11

On the outskirts of Paris, as in other cities around the globe, people are coming to the aid of the homeless in their communities. Clothing, covered in waterproof bags, is hung on designated fences for those living on the streets to take according to their needs. The bags are labeled, “I’m not lost; I’m for you if you’re cold.” The effort not only warms those without shelter, but also teaches those in the community the importance of assisting the needy among them.

The Bible highlights the importance of caring for those who are poor, instructing us to be “openhanded” toward them (Deuteronomy 15:11). We might be tempted to avert our eyes to the plight of the poor, holding tightly to our resources instead of sharing them. Yet God challenges us to recognize that we will always be surrounded by those who have needs and therefore to respond to them with generosity, not a “grudging heart” (v. 10). Jesus says that in giving to the poor we receive an enduring treasure in heaven (Luke 12:33).

Our generosity may not be recognized by anyone other than God. Yet when we give freely, we not only meet the needs of those around us but we also experience the joy God intends for us in providing for others. Help us, Lord, to have open eyes and open hands to supply the needs of those You place in our paths!

By Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

Are you holding too tightly to your resources? If yes, why? What need can you fill today?

Generosity displays confidence in God’s loving and faithful provision.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Fearless Love

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 10–12; John 11:30–57

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:1 John 4:7-12

For years I wore a shield of fear to protect my heart. It became an excuse to avoid trying new things, following my dreams, and obeying God. But fear of loss, heartache, and rejection hindered me from developing loving relationships with God and others. Fear made me an insecure, anxious, and jealous wife, and an overprotective, worrying mother. As I continue learning how much God loves me, however, He’s changing the way I relate to Him and to others. Because I know God will care for me, I feel more secure and willing to place the needs of others before mine.

God is love (1 John 4:7–8). Christ’s death on the cross—the ultimate demonstration of love—displays the depth of His passion for us (vv. 9–10). Because God loves us and lives in us, we can love others based on who He is and what He’s done (vv. 11–12).

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, He gives us His Holy Spirit (vv. 13–15). As the Spirit helps us know and rely on God’s love, He makes us more like Jesus (vv. 16–17). Growing in trust and faith can gradually eliminate fear, simply because we know without a doubt that God loves us deeply and completely (vv. 18–19).

As we experience God’s personal and unconditional love for us, we grow and can risk relating to Him and others with fearless love.

By Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

What fears are found in your heart? As you ponder God’s great love for you, how does this help alleviate them?

Lord, thank You for pouring limitless love into us so we can love You and others without fear.

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Empty Bed

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 7–9; John 11:1–29

Go and make disciples of all nations.

Matthew 28:19

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Matthew 28:16-20

I was eager to return to St. James Infirmary in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and reconnect with Rendell, who two years earlier had learned about Jesus’s love for him. Evie, a teenager in the high school choir I travel with each spring, had read Scripture with Rendell and explained the gospel, and he personally received Jesus as his Savior.

When I entered the men’s section of the home and looked toward Rendell’s bed, however, I found it was empty. I went to the nurse’s station, and was told what I didn’t want to hear. He had passed away—just five days before we arrived.

Through tears, I texted Evie the sad news. Her response was simple: “Rendell is celebrating with Jesus.” Later she said, “It’s a good thing we told him about Jesus when we did.”

Her words reminded me of the importance of being ready to lovingly share with others the hope we have in Christ. No, it’s not always easy to proclaim the gospel message about the One who will be with us always (Matthew 28:20), but when we think about the difference it made for us and for people like Rendell, perhaps we’ll be encouraged to be even more ready to “make disciples” wherever we go (v. 19).

I’ll never forget the sadness of seeing that empty bed—and also the joy of knowing what a difference one faithful teen made in Rendell’s forever life.

By Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

What are some things you can do to introduce people to Jesus today? As you share your faith, how does it encourage you to know Jesus is “with you always” (Matthew 28:20)?

God, we know that people need You. Help us to overcome our fear of telling others about You.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — Never Alone

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 4–6; John 10:24–42

He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.

John 14:16–17

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 14:15-18

While writing a Bible guide for pastors in Indonesia, a writer friend grew fascinated with that nation’s culture of togetherness. Called gotong royong—meaning “mutual assistance”—the concept is practiced in villages, where neighbors may work together to repair someone’s roof or rebuild a bridge or path. In cities too my friend said, “People always go places with someone else—to a doctor’s appointment, for example. It’s the cultural norm. So you’re never alone.”

Worldwide, believers in Jesus rejoice in knowing we also are never alone. Our constant and forever companion is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Far more than a loyal friend, the Spirit of God is given to every follower of Christ by our heavenly Father to “help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16).

Jesus promised God’s Spirit would come after His own time on Earth ended. “I will not leave you as orphans,” Jesus said (v. 18). Instead, the Holy Spirit—“the Spirit of Truth” who “lives with you and will be in you”—indwells each of us who receives Christ as Savior (v. 17).

The Holy Spirit is our Helper, Comforter, Encourager, and Counselor—a constant companion in a world where loneliness can afflict even connected people. May we forever abide in His comforting love and help.

By Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

As a believer in Christ, how does it encourage you to know that the Holy Spirit lives inside of you? How have you neglected God’s comfort?

Jesus promised we will always have companionship with the Holy Spirit, who never leaves us.

To learn more about basic Christian beliefs visit christianuniversity.org/ST101.

 

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Our Daily Bread — A Living Memorial of Kindness

 

Bible in a Year:2 Chronicles 1–3; John 10:1–23

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

2 Samuel 9:1

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Samuel 9:1-7

I grew up in a church full of traditions. One came into play when a beloved family member or friend died. Often a church pew or possibly a painting in a hallway showed up not long afterward with a brass plate affixed: “In Memory of . . .” The deceased’s name would be etched there, a shining reminder of a life passed on. I always appreciated those memorials. And I still do. Yet at the same time they’ve always given me pause because they are static, inanimate objects, in a very literal sense something “not alive.” Is there a way to add an element of “life” to the memorial?

Following the death of his beloved friend Jonathan, David wanted to remember him and to keep a promise to him (1 Samuel 20:12–17). But rather than simply seek something static, David searched and found something very much alive—a son of Jonathan (2 Samuel 9:3). David’s decision here is dramatic. He chose to extend kindness (v. 1) to Mephibosheth (vv. 6–7) in the specific forms of restored property (“all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul”) and the ongoing provision of food and drink (“you will always eat at my table”).

As we continue to remember those who’ve died with plaques and paintings, may we also recall David’s example and extend kindness to those still living.

By John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Who has died that you don’t want to forget? What might a specific kindness to another person look like for you?

Jesus, give me the strength to extend kindness in memory of the kindness others have shown me, but most important because of Your great kindness.

 

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Our Daily Bread — “God Saved My Life”

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 22–24; John 8:28–59

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

John 8:44

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 8:42-47

When Aaron (not his real name) was 15, he began praying to Satan: “I felt like he and I had a partnership.” Aaron started to lie, steal, and manipulate his family and friends. He also experienced nightmares: “I woke up one morning and saw the devil at the end of the bed. He told me that I was going to pass my exams and then die.” Yet when he finished his exams, he lived. Aaron reflected, “It was clear to me that he was a liar.”

Hoping to meet girls, Aaron went to a Christian festival, where a man offered to pray for him. “While he was praying, I felt a sense of peace flood my body.” He felt something “more powerful, and more liberating,” than what he felt from Satan. The man who prayed told Aaron God had a plan and Satan was a liar. This man echoed what Jesus said of Satan when He responded to some who opposed him: “He is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Aaron turned to Christ from Satanism and now “belongs to God” (v. 47). He ministers in an urban community, sharing the difference following Jesus makes. He’s a living testament of God’s saving power: “I can say with confidence that God saved my life.”

God is the source of all that is good, holy, and true. We can turn to Him to find truth.

By Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced God rescuing you from evil? Who can you share your story with this week?

God is more powerful than the father of lies.

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Marvelously Unique

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 13–15; John 7:1–27

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 139:1-14

Human beings are not special—at least according to the London Zoo. In 2005, the zoo introduced a four-day exhibit: “Humans in Their Natural Environment.” The human “captives” were chosen through an online contest. To help visitors understand the humans, the zoo workers created a sign detailing their diet, habitat, and threats. According to the zoo’s spokesperson, the goal of the exhibit was to downplay the uniqueness of human beings. One participant in the exhibit seemed to agree. “When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds them that we’re not that special.”

What a stark contrast to what the Bible says about human beings: God “fearfully and wonderfully” made us in “his image” (Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26–27).

David began Psalm 139 by celebrating God’s intimate knowledge of him (vv. 1–6) and His all-encompassing presence (vv. 7–12). Like a master weaver, God not only formed the intricacies of David’s internal and external features (vv. 13–14), but He also made him a living soul, giving spiritual life and the ability to intimately relate to God. Meditating on God’s handiwork, David responded in awe, wonder, and praise (v. 14).

Human beings are special. God created us with marvelous uniqueness and the awesome ability to have an intimate relationship with Him. Like David, we can praise Him because we’re the workmanship of His loving hands.

By Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

What are some practical implications of knowing and believing you’re fearfully and wonderfully made? What are some negative consequences of not believing this?

God created human beings to be like Him.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Divine Escape

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 10–12; John 6:45–71

So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

John 11:53

Today’s Scripture & Insight:John 11:45-53

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mystery The Clocks features antagonists who commit a series of murders. Although their initial plot targeted a single victim, they began taking more lives in order to cover up the original crime. When confronted by Poirot, a conspirator confessed, “It was only supposed to be the one murder.”

Like the schemers in the story, the religious authorities formed a conspiracy of their own. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38–44), they called an emergency meeting and plotted to kill Him (vv. 45–53). But they didn’t stop there. After Jesus rose from the dead, the religious leaders spread lies about what happened at the grave (Matthew 28:12–15). Then they began a campaign to silence Jesus’s followers (Acts 7:57–8:3). What started as a religious plot against one man for the “greater good” of the nation became a web of lies, deceit, and multiple casualties.

Sin plunges us down a road that often has no end in sight, but God always provides a way of escape. When Caiaphas the high priest said, “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50), he didn’t understand the profound truth of his words. The conspiracy of the religious leaders would help bring about the redemption of mankind.

Jesus saves us from sin’s vicious grip. Have you received the freedom He offers?

By Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

What road are you going down that could take you further away from God? He offers real freedom. What do you need to confess to Him today?

Give sin room, and it can take over a life.

To learn more about the Gospels that record the life of Jesus, visit christianuniversity.org/NT331.

 

 

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Our Daily Bread — The Crooked Steeple

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 7–9; John 6:22–44

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Today’s Scripture & Insight:2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Turns out that crooked church steeples make people nervous. When we visited some friends, they shared how, after a fierce windstorm, their church’s proud steeple was crooked, causing some alarm.

Of course, the church quickly repaired the flagging spire, but the humorous image got me thinking. Often church is seen as a place where everything is expected to look perfect; it’s not seen as a place where we can show up crooked. Right?

But in a fallen, broken world, all of us are “crooked,” each with our own collection of natural weaknesses. We might be tempted to keep our vulnerabilities under wraps, but Scripture encourages the opposite attitude. In 2 Corinthians 12, for example, Paul suggests that it’s in our weaknesses—for him, an unnamed struggle he calls a “thorn in my flesh” (v. 7)—that Christ is most likely to reveal His power. Jesus had told Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). So Paul concluded, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

We may not like our imperfections, but hiding them only denies Jesus’s power to work within those aspects of ourselves. When we invite Jesus into the crooked places in us, He gently mends and redeems in ways our effort could never accomplish.

By Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

What are some of the “crooked” places in your life? In what ways have you seen God work through your imperfections?

Invite Jesus into your imperfections for His mending.

 

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Our Daily Bread — We Need Each Other

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 4–6; John 6:1–21

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Colossians 3:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Colossians 3:12-17

While on a hike with my kids, we discovered a light, springy green plant growing in small clumps on the trail. According to a signpost, the plant is commonly called deer moss, but it’s not actually a moss at all. It’s a lichen. A lichen is a fungus and an alga growing together in a mutualistic relationship in which both organisms benefit from each other. Neither the fungus nor the alga can survive on its own, but together they form a hardy plant that can live in some alpine areas for up to 4,500 years. Because the plant can withstand drought and low temperatures, it’s one of the only food sources for caribou (reindeer) in deep winter.

The relationship between the fungus and the alga reminds me of our human relationships. We rely on each other. To grow and flourish, we need to be in relationship with each other.

Paul, writing to believers in Colossae, describes how our relationships should look. We are to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). We ought to forgive each other and live in peace “as members of one body” (v. 15).

It’s not always easy to live in peace with our families or friends. But when the Spirit empowers us to exhibit humility and forgiveness in our relationships, our love for each other points to Christ (John 13:35) and brings glory to God.

By Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

In what ways do your relationships point to Jesus? How can you pursue peace? 

Holy Spirit, fill us with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience toward each other so the world may see Your love in us.

 

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Our Daily Bread — God’s Amazing Hands

 

Bible in a Year:1 Chronicles 1–3; John 5:25–47

Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

Psalm 31:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 31:1-8

Twenty minutes into a flight from New York to San Antonio, the flight plan changed as calm gave way to chaos. When one of the plane’s engines failed, debris from the engine smashed through a window causing the cabin to decompress. Sadly, several passengers were injured and one person was killed. Had not a calm, capable pilot been in the cockpit—one trained as a Navy fighter pilot—things could have been tragically worse. The headline in our local paper read, “In Amazing Hands.”

In Psalm 31, David revealed that he knew something about the Lord’s amazing, caring hands. That’s why he could confidently say, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (v. 5). David believed that the Lord could be trusted even when life got bumpy. Because he was targeted by unfriendly forces, life was very uncomfortable for David. Though vulnerable, he was not without hope. In the midst of harassment David could breathe sighs of relief and rejoice because his faithful, loving God was his source of confidence (vv. 5–7).

Perhaps you find yourself in a season of life when things are coming at you from every direction, and it’s difficult to see what’s ahead. In the midst of uncertainty, confusion, and chaos one thing remains absolutely certain: those who are secure in the Lord are in amazing hands.

By Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

Have you committed your life—your earthly and eternal existence and well-being—to God? How are you showing that you are trusting Him in good times and bad?

Father, help me to be encouraged knowing that Jesus prayed Psalm 31:5 when He was on the cross. In the midst of pain and suffering, He committed His life into Your hands.

 

 

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