Tag Archives: Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread — Hurry Not

 

Read: Isaiah 26:1–4 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 6–8; Luke 15:1–10

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” When two friends repeated that adage by the wise Dallas Willard to me, I knew I needed to consider it. Where was I spinning my wheels, wasting time and energy? More important, where was I rushing ahead and not looking to God for guidance and help? In the weeks and months that followed, I remembered those words and reoriented myself back to the Lord and His wisdom. I reminded myself to trust in Him, rather than leaning on my own ways.

After all, rushing around frantically seems to be the opposite of the “perfect peace” the prophet Isaiah speaks of. The Lord gives this gift to “those whose minds are steadfast,” because they trust in Him (v. 3). And He is worthy of being trusted today, tomorrow, and forever, for “the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (v. 4). Trusting God with our minds fixed on Him is the antidote to a hurried life.

Lord God, You give the peace that passes all understanding.

How about us? Do we sense that we’re hurried or even hasty? Maybe, in contrast, we often experience a sense of peace. Or perhaps we’re somewhere in between the two extremes.

Wherever we may be, I pray today that we’ll be able to put aside any hurry as we trust the Lord, who will never fail us and who gives us His peace.

Lord God, You give the peace that passes all understanding, which is a gift I don’t want to take for granted. Thank You.

God’s peace helps us not to hurry.

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

The word peace in Isaiah 26:3 is one of the prophet Isaiah’s favorite words; it’s used over twenty times in Isaiah. The word appears for the first time in Isaiah 9:6 where we find several titles for the promised Messiah, including “Prince of Peace.” Peace is a translation of the great Hebrew word shalom. While peace is certainly an acceptable rendering, more broadly shalom speaks of “welfare,” “prosperity,” “wholeness”—the comprehensive well-being of a person, people, or place. What isn’t immediately apparent in modern versions of verse 3 is that the word translated “perfect” is also the Hebrew word shalom. Thus a literal rendering of “perfect peace” is “shalom, shalom” or “peace, peace.” What’s in view is multiplied peace, true peace, exponential peace. Verse 3 helps us to see that peace awaits those who trust in the Lord as their eternal source of strength—their Rock (v. 4). Such peace allows one to exhale, to rest, to slow down.

Arthur Jackson

 

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Our Daily Bread — Judging Origins

 

Read: Judges 11:1–8, 29 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 3–5; Luke 14:25–35

The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. Judges 11:29

“Where are you from?” We often use that question to get to know someone better. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details.

In the book of Judges, Jephthah might not have wanted to answer that question at all. His half-brothers had chased him out of his hometown of Gilead for his “questionable” origins. “You are the son of another woman,” they declared (Judges 11:2). The text says starkly, “His mother was a prostitute” (v. 1).

God uses those who listen to His calling and respond in faith. How might He use you?

But Jephthah was a natural leader, and when a hostile tribe picked a fight with Gilead, the people who had sent him packing suddenly wanted him back. “Be our commander,” they said (v. 6). Jephthah asked, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house?” (v. 7). After getting assurances that things would be different, he agreed to lead them. The Scripture tells us, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah” (v. 29). Through faith, he led them to a great victory. The New Testament mentions him in its list of heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11:32).

God so often seems to choose the unlikeliest people to do His work, doesn’t He? It doesn’t matter where we’re from, how we got here, or what we’ve done. What matters is that we respond in faith to His love.

Lord, we take great comfort knowing that You don’t show favoritism based on where we’re from. Our heritage is found in You. Thank You for adopting us into Your family.

Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:30

By Tim Gustafson

INSIGHT

The details of the story of Jephthah are unique, but the idea of an unlikely person being the hero of the story—well that’s the subtle plotline of the entire Bible. In fact, many times the person we might expect to be the hero—for example, the tall and broad-shouldered Saul—isn’t the hero at all. Disobedience to God led to Saul’s downfall, but it’s David, a young shepherd, whom God calls “a man after [my] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

What set apart those God used to do His work? Whether a prostitute (Rahab), a dreamer (Joseph), a young shepherd (David), a young virgin (Mary), or a former Pharisee (Paul), the common factor is how they responded to God. God uses those who listen to His calling and respond in faith. How might He use you?

J.R. Hudberg

 

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Our Daily Bread — Learning to Know God

 

Read: John 6:16–21 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 1–2; Luke 14:1–24

But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” John 6:20

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test, we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness.

When I reflect on our journey, I think about the story of the disciples caught in the storm on the sea in John 6. As they struggled against the waves in the dark of the storm, Jesus unexpectedly came to them walking on the stormy waves. He calmed them with His presence, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20).

What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?

Like the disciples, my husband and I had no idea what was coming in our storm; but we found comfort as we learned to know God more deeply as the One who is always faithful and true. Although we would not have the child we had dreamed of, we learned that in all our struggles we can experience the power of His calming presence. Because He is there powerfully working in our lives, we need not be anxious.

Dear Lord, thank You that I do not have to face the storms in this life without You. Thank You for Your calming presence and power carrying me through whatever I face.

We can experience God’s powerful presence even in the storms of our lives.

By Karen Wolfe

INSIGHT

The story of Jesus meeting His disciples on the sea paints a vivid picture of how Jesus fulfilled God’s promises. In Bible times, the sea was seen as a terrifying force of chaos. Only God could walk on the sea (Job 9:8; Psalm 77:19). And in Israel’s central redemption story—their deliverance from slavery—it was God’s power that brought Israel through the sea, leaving Egypt behind (Exodus 14:21).

So when John describes Jesus walking on the waves, we can understand the disciples’ terror (John 6:19)—they were seeing God. Jesus’s response, “It is I” (literally “I am”), confirmed His unity with God, the “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). By bringing the boat “immediately” to shore (John 6:21, 25), Jesus not only delivered the disciples but also likely pointed to the good news of another exodus from the “sea.” His death and resurrection would bring His people out of bondage into freedom (Galatians 5:1).

In this lifetime, we don’t always experience the full restoration we long for (2 Corinthians 5:4), but we do experience the power that will one day transform all things (4:16–17). Because of Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid (John 6:20).

What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?

Monica Brands

 

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Our Daily Bread — Just a Second

 

Read: Psalm 39:4–6 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 30–31; Luke 13:23–35

How fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4

Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right.

Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time, the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. This is “to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate,” according to one scientist.

Lord, help us to use our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. For instance, Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 7:29 that “time is short.” The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely. He urged us to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 esv).

This doesn’t mean we have to count each second as do the scientists, but when we consider the fleeting nature of life (Psalm 39:4), we can be reminded of the importance of using our time wisely.

Lord, thank You for each moment You give us. May we strive to honor You with this gift by using our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

Don’t just spend time—invest it.

By Dave Branon

INSIGHT

Can you think of a time in your life that served as a wake-up call? David wrote Psalm 39 recalling such a moment. Although he doesn’t describe the circumstances that roused him from a sleeplike existence, his song tells us how he came to sense the importance of the moments given to us.

At first, he’s troubled by those who seem to have no moral conscience. Sensing foolishness and danger in their presence, he decides not to speak—maybe so he won’t be like them or so that his words cannot be used against him (39:1–2).

But in self-imposed silence, David has a more troubling thought. He too has been living without wisdom. Time is getting away from him. He’s lost the joy and wonder of life. Realizing his own inclination to think life is found in the material things we accumulate, he calls out for help (vv. 3–6).

Recalling what he has already learned about the Source of joy and hope, he sees how reliant he is on the eternal God to help him see more than the momentary distraction of passing wealth (vv. 7–13).

Could this be a good time to see ourselves in David’s song?

Mart DeHaan

 

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Our Daily Bread — Reason to Sing

 

Read: Psalm 98 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 27–29; Luke 13:1–22

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

When I was thirteen, my school required students to take four exploratory courses, including home economics, art, choir, and woodworking. On my first day in choir, the instructor called each student to the piano individually to hear their voices and place them in the room according to their vocal range. During my turn at the piano, I sang the notes she played multiple times, but wasn’t directed to a section in the room. Instead, after repeated tries, she sent me to the counseling office to find a different class to take. From that moment on, I felt I shouldn’t sing at all, that my voice shouldn’t be heard in song.

I carried that thought with me for more than a decade until I read Psalm 98 as a young adult. The writer opens with an invitation to “sing to the Lord” (Psalm 98:1). The reason offered has nothing to do with the quality of our voices; He delights in all His children’s songs of thanksgiving and praise. Instead, we are invited to sing because God “has done marvelous things” (v. 1).

Take a moment to joyfully praise the Lord for all He has done.

The psalmist points out two wonderful reasons to joyfully praise God in song and in attitude: His saving work in our lives and His ongoing faithfulness toward us. In God’s choir, we each have a place to sing of the marvelous things He has done.

Lord, You have done great things in my life. Even if my voice isn’t one that would be heard on stage, I want to join the choir in thanking You for the amazing things You’ve done.

God loves to hear the voices of His children.

By Kirsten Holmberg

INSIGHT

Hallel is the Hebrew word for “praise” and aptly describes many of the psalms, including Psalm 98. Within the Hebrew psalter, however, there is a subset of hymns called the Hallel Psalms (Psalms 113–118). These psalms were normally sung or recited during high feast times, including Passover—Psalms 113–114 before the meal and Psalms 115–118 after it. The Jewish day begins at dusk, so when Jesus shared a final Passover with His men, crucifixion day had already begun. In the context of the cross, the impact of singing Psalm 118:24 takes on new meaning: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (nasb). And knowing these words would have been on the Savior’s lips as He moved toward Calvary provides vivid commentary on Hebrews 12:2: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Why not take a moment to joyfully praise the Lord for all He has done?

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Into Our Storms

Read: Mark 4:35–41 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 25–26; Luke 12:32–59

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39

Wind howled, lightning flashed, waves crashed. I thought I was going to die. My grandparents and I were fishing on a lake, but we’d stayed out too long. As the sun set, a fast-moving squall swept over our small boat. My grandfather instructed me to sit in front to keep it from capsizing. Terror flooded my heart. But then, somehow, I began to pray. I was fourteen.

I asked God for His reassurance and protection. The storm didn’t weaken, but we made it to shore. To this day, I don’t know if I’ve experienced a deeper certainty of God’s presence than that night in the storm.

What storm do you face today? Turn to Him knowing who He is and what His power can do.

Jesus is no stranger to storms. In Mark 4:35–41, He told His disciples to head across a lake that would soon turn windy and wild. The storm that night tested and bested these rugged fishermen. They too thought they were going to die. But Jesus calmed the water and then led His disciples to deeper faith.

Likewise, Jesus invites us to trust Him in our storms. Sometimes He miraculously stills the winds and the waves. Sometimes He does something equally miraculous: He steadies our hearts and helps us to trust Him. He asks us to rest in the belief that He has the power to say to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Lord, the storms of our lives sometimes seem like they will swamp us. Help us trust that You are the Master of the storm, to place our faith in You when life’s winds blow fiercely.

No danger can come so near that God is not nearer still.

By Adam Holz

INSIGHT

The end of Mark 4 poses an interesting question that each of us must answer: Who is this man? The disciples asked this question after Christ spoke to the wind and the waves and they obeyed Him. Though we may think this was merely a response of astonishment at what Jesus had just accomplished, Mark wants us to take the question seriously because he wants to present the answer.

Immediately following the disciples’ question, Mark recounts three stories that are meant to fill in the answer. After the miracle of calming the storm, Jesus casts demons out of a possessed man (5:1–20), heals a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years (vv. 21–34), and raises a girl from the dead (vv. 35–43).

Who is Jesus? He is God in the flesh, the one with power over nature, the spirit world, our bodies, and power over death itself. There is nothing we face that is beyond His ability to command.

What storm do you face today? Turn to Him knowing who He is and what His power can do.

J.R. Hudberg

 

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Our Daily Bread — When One Hurts, All Hurt

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:14–26 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 22–24; Luke 12:1–31

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26

When a coworker called in sick due to extreme pain, everyone at the office was concerned. After a trip to the hospital and a day of bed rest, he returned to work and showed us the source of that pain—a kidney stone. He’d asked his doctor to give him the stone as a souvenir. Looking at that stone, I winced in sympathy, remembering the gallstone I had passed years ago. The pain had been excruciating.

Isn’t it interesting that something so small can cause a whole body so much agony? But in a way, that’s what the apostle Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Throughout chapter 12, Paul used the metaphor of a body to describe Christians around the world. When Paul said, “God has put the body together” (v. 24), he was referring to the entire body of Christ—all Christians. We all have different gifts and roles. But since we’re all part of the same body, if one person hurts, we all hurt. When a fellow Christian faces persecution, grief, or trials, we hurt as if we’re experiencing that pain.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corint

My coworker’s pain drove him to get the help his body needed. In the body of Christ, someone’s pain ignites our compassion and moves us toward action. We might pray, offer a word of encouragement, or do whatever it takes to aid the healing process. That’s how the body works together.

Lord, please give peace to those who are persecuted or in pain. Your family is my family too.

We’re in this together.

By Linda Washington

INSIGHT

Paul often uses the metaphor of the body to represent the church (see Romans 12:3–5; Ephesians 1:22–23; 4:12–13; Colossians 1:18; 2:19). In today’s passage he makes the observation that we’re not only to share each other’s pain but also to rejoice in the blessings other believers receive. Surprisingly we may find that more difficult.

Do you find it easier to share in others’ pain or in their joy?

Tim Gustafson

 

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Our Daily Bread — Faith, Love, and Hope

Read: 1 Thessalonians 1:1–3 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 19–21; Luke 11:29–54

We always thank God for all of you. 1 Thessalonians 1:2

For ten years, my Aunt Kathy cared for her father (my grandfather) in her home. She cooked and cleaned for him when he was independent, and then took on the role of nurse when his health declined.

Her service is one modern example of the words of Paul who wrote to the Thessalonians that he thanked God for “your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Be encouraged as you do the work God has called you to do.

My aunt served in faith and love. Her daily, consistent care was the result of her belief that God called her to this important work. Her labor was borne out of love for God and her father.

She also endured in hope. My grandfather was a very kind man, but it was difficult to watch him decline. She gave up time with family and friends, and limited travel to care for him. She was able to endure because of the hope that God would strengthen her each day, along with the hope of heaven that awaited my grandfather.

Whether it is caring for a relative, helping a neighbor, or volunteering your time, be encouraged as you do the work God has called you to do. Your labor can be a powerful testimony of faith, hope, and love.

Lord, may I this day have eyes to see others’ needs, direction from You on any ways I might help, and the Spirit’s power to obey. May I live out the faith, love, and hope You’ve given to me.

The glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to give, not to get; to serve, not to be served.

By Lisa Samra

INSIGHT

The Thessalonian church was a “model” church known for her “faith in God” (1 Thessalonians 1:7–8). The church was commended for her “faithful work, [her] loving deeds, and . . . enduring hope” (v. 3 nlt). This trilogy of faith, love, and hope is a mark of spiritual growth and maturity. The work God has called us to do is characterized by our love for God and our neighbor (Luke 10:27). To love is hard work, for it is something we have to learn to do. And we “have been taught by God to love each other” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Paul aptly calls it a “labor of love” (1:3 esv, emphasis added). Highlighting Christ’s second coming at the end of each chapter (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23), Paul speaks of our “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). Speaking of this trilogy of “faith, love, and hope” elsewhere, Paul says, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 nlt).

Is your life characterized by faithful work, loving deeds, and enduring hope?

  1. T. Sim

 

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Our Daily Bread — How Long?

Read: Psalm 13 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 17–18; Luke 11:1–28

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1

In Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks, “How long is forever?” The White Rabbit responds, “Sometimes, just one second.”

That’s how time felt when my brother David suddenly died. The days leading to his memorial dragged on, intensifying the sense of loss and grief we felt. Every second seemed to last forever.

In our seemingly endless moments of struggle, His unfailing love will carry us.

Another David echoed this sentiment, singing, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1­–2). Four times in just two verses he asks God, “How long?” Sometimes the pains of life seem as though they will never end.

Into this heartache steps the presence and care of our heavenly Father. Like King David, we can honestly go to Him with our pain and loss, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The psalmist discovered this as well, allowing his lament to move from a mournful minor key to a triumphant declaration: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

In our seemingly endless moments of struggle, His unfailing love will carry us. We can rejoice in His salvation.

For more insight, download the Discovery Series booklet Out of the Ashes: God’s Presence in Job’s Pain at discoveryseries.org/q0735.

In times of pain and loss, the timeless God is our greatest comfort.

By Bill Crowder

INSIGHT

Scholars disagree on the circumstances that prompted David to write Psalm 13. Some say that David’s enemy was Saul, who continually pursued David, seeking to kill him (v. 2). Others see the enemy as David’s son Absalom who conspired to drive David from the throne and take over as king (2 Samuel 15). Either way, the heartache David feels is real—driving him to God for help. David’s first response to these pressures is to complain about God’s seeming lack of response on his behalf, found in the repeated question “How long?” in Psalm 13:1–2. As David reflects on God’s past expressions of faithful love (v. 5), he finds reason to trust God even in his confusion and doubt. The closing note of praise (v. 6) expresses that trust—and anticipates God’s rescue.

When overwhelmed with the circumstances of life, do you find yourself wondering where God is? As you reflect on God’s faithfulness to you in the past it can remind you that He is worthy of your trust—even when you suffer and don’t know why.

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Only by Prayer

 

Read: Mark 9:14–29 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 15–16; Luke 10:25–42

Everything is possible for one who believes. Mark 9:23

My friend called me late one night during her cancer treatment. Grieved by her uncontrollable sobs, I soon added my own tears and a silent prayer. What am I supposed to do, Lord?

Her wails squeezed my heart. I couldn’t stop her pain, fix her situation, or find one intelligible word of encouragement. But I knew who could help. As I wept with my friend, stumbling through a prayer, I whispered repeatedly, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”

When we call on the name of Jesus, He can enable us to believe and rely on the power of His presence.

Her cries quieted to sniffs and whimpers, until her breathing slowed. Her husband’s voice startled me. “She’s asleep,” he said. “We’ll call tomorrow.”

I hung up, weeping prayers into my pillow.

The apostle Mark shares a story of another person who wanted to help his loved one. A desperate father brought his suffering son to Jesus (Mark 9:17). Doubt clung to his plea, as he reiterated the impossibility of their circumstances (vv. 20–22) and acknowledged his need for Jesus to empower his belief (v. 24). The father and son experienced freedom, hope, and peace when Jesus stepped in and took control (vv. 25–27).

When loved ones are hurting, it’s natural to want to do the right things and say the perfect words. But Christ is the only One who can truly help us. When we call on the name of Jesus, He can enable us to believe and rely on the power of His presence.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Oh, how we need You, Jesus.

The name of Jesus is the powerful prayer that leads us into His mighty presence.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Leaving a Legacy

 

Read: Isaiah 49:14–16 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 13–14; Luke 10:1–24

A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. Malachi 3:16

Some years ago our sons and I spent a week on an abandoned backcountry ranch on the Salmon River, Idaho’s “River of No Return.”

One day, exploring the ranch, I came across an ancient grave with a wooden marker. Whatever inscription the marker may have borne had long since been weathered away. Someone lived and died—now was forgotten. The gravesite seemed tragic to me. After we got home I spent several hours reading about the history of the old ranch and that area, but could find no information about the person buried there.

May I be faithful to You today, Lord, as I spend my time loving others with Your love.

They say that the best among us is remembered for 100 years or so. The rest of us are soon forgotten. The memory of past generations, like our markers, soon fades away. Yet our legacy has been passed on through the family of God. How we’ve loved God and others in our lifetime lives on. Malachi 3:16–17 tells us, “a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘They will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession’ ” (nasb).

Paul said of David that he “served God’s purpose in his own generation” and departed (Acts 13:36). Like him, may we love the Lord and serve Him in our generation and leave the remembering to Him. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord.

May I be faithful to You today, Lord, as I spend my time loving others with Your love. Help me to trust You with the legacy I’m leaving behind.

Living for the Lord leaves a lasting legacy.

By David H. Roper INSIGHT

Throughout Scripture, we gather a picture of how to leave behind a godly legacy. Psalm 78:4 reminds us to “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Deuteronomy 6:5–7 declares: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

When we wholeheartedly love the Lord and others, live an obedient life that is pleasing to Him, and tell our family and others about the many wonders God has done throughout history and in our lives, we leave behind a legacy that can impact the next generation and the next and the next.

What legacy will you leave?

Alyson Kieda

 

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Our Daily Bread — Strength in Suffering

Read: 1 Peter 2:11–23 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 10–12; Luke 9:37–62

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  1 Peter 2:21

When eighteen-year-old Sammy received Jesus as Savior, his family rejected him because their tradition was of a different faith. But the Christian community welcomed him, offering encouragement and financial resources for his education. Later, when his testimony was published in a magazine, his persecution intensified.

But Sammy did not stop seeing his family. He visited whenever he could and talked with his father, even though his siblings cruelly prevented him from participating in family affairs. When his father fell ill, Sammy overlooked his family’s slighting and attended to him, praying his father would get well. When God healed him, the family began to warm up toward Sammy. Over time, his loving witness softened their attitude toward him—and some of his family members became willing to hear about Jesus.

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21

Our decision to follow Christ may cause us difficulties. Peter wrote, “It is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God” (1 Peter 2:19). When we undergo discomfort or suffering because of our faith, we do so because “Christ suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example, that [we] should follow in his steps” (v. 21).

Even when others hurled insults at Jesus, “he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (v. 23). Jesus is our example in suffering. We can turn to Him for strength.

Dear Lord Jesus, help me to follow Your example in my conduct and in suffering for You.

When we suffer for Jesus, He comes to walk us through it.

By Lawrence Darmani

INSIGHT

Why would God allow those He loves to be chased from their homes and homeland? (1 Peter 1:1–2). According to Peter, their plight was a chance to show their faith in the goodness of God who calls all of us to something far more wonderful than material comfort and security. What other reasons does Peter offer?

 

Mart DeHaan

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Fair Play

 

Read: Titus 2:7–8, 11–14 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 7–9; Luke 9:18–36

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. Titus 2:7

When Singaporean runner Ashley Liew found himself at the head of the pack during a marathon at the Southeast Asian Games, he knew something was wrong. He quickly realized that the lead runners had taken a wrong turn and were now behind. Ashley could have taken advantage of their mistake, but a strong sense of sportsmanship told him it would not be a genuine victory. He wanted to win because he was faster—not because those ahead of him had made a mistake. Acting on his convictions, he slowed down to let them catch up.

In the end, Ashley lost the race and missed out on a medal. But he won the hearts of his countrymen—and an international award for his act of fair play. It spoke well of his faith as a Christian, and must have prompted some to ask, “What made him do that?”

Live so that others will want to know Jesus.

Ashley’s act challenges me to share my faith through my actions. Little acts of thoughtfulness, kindness, or forgiveness can glorify God. As Paul put it simply, “Show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7–8).

Our positive actions toward others can show the world that we are able to live differently because of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. He will give us the grace to reject ungodliness and wrong passions, and to live upright lives that point people to God (vv. 11–12).

Heavenly Father, may our behavior today cause others to ask us why we are different. We ask that we follow Your Holy Spirit’s leading as we explain to them the hope that is in us.

Live so that others will want to know Jesus.

By Leslie Koh

INSIGHT

In our passage today, Paul writes to Titus, whom he left on the island of Crete to guide the new churches they had planted there. The citizens of Crete had earned an especially bad reputation, and Paul saw fit to remind Titus of that (see Titus 1:12–13). The need for diligence in their service to the believers there was especially vital.

As Paul gave Titus directions about wise living, he highlighted God’s grace. We may tend to think of grace as giving us freedom—and it does. But God’s grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit, also instills a holy discipline in us. “It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (2:12). Or, as Paul phrased it in Galatians, “The Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires” (5:17 nlt).

 

The “secret” to living the Christian life isn’t to stress over not sinning; it’s to focus on the work of God’s grace in us.

Tim Gustafson

 

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Our Daily Bread — Comfort Shared

 

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:1–10 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 4–6; Luke 9:1–17

Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. John 20:21

“God sent you to me tonight!”

Those were the parting words from the woman standing in front of me as we exited our flight to Chicago. She had sat across the aisle from me, where I learned she was headed home after several flights in a round-trip that day. “Do you mind if I ask why you had such a quick turnaround?” I inquired. She glanced downward: “I just put my daughter in rehab for drug abuse today.”

I praise You for Your compassion for us at the cross, Lord!

In the moments that followed I gently shared the story of my son’s struggle with heroin addiction and how Jesus had set him free. As she listened, a smile broke through her tears. After the plane landed we prayed together before parting, asking God to break her daughter’s chains.

Later that evening I thought of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

All around us are people who need to be encouraged with the comfort only God can give. He wants us to reach out to them with tenderhearted compassion, to share the love He has shared with us. May God send us to those who need His comfort today!

I praise You for Your compassion for us at the cross, Lord! Help me to comfort others with Your kindness and love today.

God’s kindness meets our deepest need.

Watch Geoff Banks’ story at ourdailybread.org/story/geoff.

By James Banks

INSIGHT

We honor the “God of all comfort” (v. 3) when we offer compassion to others. Who needs comfort? Ecclesiastes 4:1 says, “I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter.” Scripture reminds us that from the victim to the oppressor, everyone needs the comfort God offers.

For further study, check out the free course Soul Care Foundations I at christianuniversity.org/CC201.

Bill Crowder

 

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Our Daily Bread — What We Want to Hear

 

Read: 2 Chronicles 18:5–27 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 1–3; Luke 8:26–56

I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. 2 2 Chronicles 18:7

As human beings, we are prone to seek out information that supports the opinions we hold. Research shows that we’re actually twice as likely to look for information that supports our position. When we’re deeply committed to our own way of thinking, we avoid having that thinking challenged by opposing positions.

Such was the case in King Ahab’s rule over Israel. When he and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, discussed whether to go to war against Ramoth Gilead, Ahab gathered 400 prophets—men he’d appointed to that role himself and would therefore tell him what he wanted to hear—to help them decide. Each replied he should go, saying “God will give it into the king’s hand” (2 Chronicles 18:5). Jehoshaphat asked whether there was a prophet who had been chosen by God through whom they could inquire of the Lord. Ahab responded reluctantly because God’s prophet, Micaiah, “never prophesies anything good about [him], but always bad” (v. 7). Indeed, Micaiah indicated they wouldn’t be victorious, and the people would be “scattered on the hills” (v. 16).

Lord, help me to seek and heed Your counsel.

In reading their story, I see how I too tend to avoid wise advice if it isn’t what I want to hear. In Ahab’s case, the result of listening to his “yes men”—400 prophets—was disastrous (v. 34). May we be willing to seek and listen to the voice of truth, God’s words in the Bible, even when it contradicts our personal preferences.

Lord, help me to seek and heed Your counsel even when it’s against my desires or popular thought.

God’s counsel is trustworthy and wise.

 

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Our Daily Bread — Front-Porch Relief

Read: Philippians 4:10–20 | Bible in a Year: Ruth 1–4; Luke 8:1–25I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Philippians 4:12

On a particularly hot day, eight-year-old Carmine McDaniel wanted to make sure his neighborhood mail carrier stayed cool and hydrated. So he left a cooler filled with a sports drink and water bottles on their front step. The family security camera recorded the mail carrier’s reaction: “Oh man, water and Gatorade. Thank God; thank you!”

Carmine’s mom says, “Carmine feels that it’s his ‘duty’ to supply the mailman with a cool beverage even if we’re not home.”

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Philippians 4:12

This story warms our hearts, but it also reminds us that there is One who will “meet all your needs,” as the apostle Paul phrased it. Though Paul was languishing in jail and uncertain about his future, he expressed joy for the Christians in Philippi because God had met his needs through their financial gift to him. The Philippian church was not wealthy, but they were generous, giving to Paul and others out of their poverty (see 2 Corinthians 8:1–4). As the Philippians had met Paul’s needs, so God would meet theirs, “according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

God often sends vertical help through horizontal means. Put another way, He sends us what we need through the help of others. When we trust Him for what we need, we learn, as Paul did, the secret of true contentment (vv. 12–13).

How might God be prompting you to meet the needs of others? In what ways and through whom has God met your needs? Spend time thanking God for His provision.

God’s provisions are always greater than our problems.

By Marvin Williams

INSIGHT

In addition to today’s text, other Scriptures reinforce how God uses fellow believers to meet our needs. When Jesus sent out His disciples to minister, they were to trust God to provide for their needs through other people (Matthew 10:9–11; Luke 10:4–8). Jesus received help from Martha (Luke 10:38). A group of women traveled with Jesus and His disciples “to support them out of their own means” (8:1–3). And the apostle Paul had the practical support of many churches he ministered to (Romans 15:26–27; 2 Corinthians 8:1–6; 11:8–9).

  1. T. Sim

 

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Our Daily Bread — Sweet and Bitter

Read: Psalm 119:65–72 | Bible in a Year: Judges 19–21; Luke 7:31–50

You are good, and what you do is good. Psalm 119:68

Some people like bitter chocolate and some prefer sweet. Ancient Mayans in Central America enjoyed chocolate as a beverage and seasoned it with chili peppers. They liked this “bitter water,” as they called it. Many years later it was introduced in Spain, but the Spaniards preferred chocolate sweet, so they added sugar and honey to counteract its natural bitterness.

Like chocolate, days can be bitter or sweet as well. A seventeenth-century French monk named Brother Lawrence wrote, “If we knew how much [God] loves us, we would always be ready to receive equally . . . from His hand the sweet and the bitter.” Accept the sweet and the bitter equally? This is difficult! What is Brother Lawrence talking about? The key lies in God’s character. The psalmist said of God, “You are good, and what you do is good” (Psalm 119:68).

You are good, and what you do is good. Psalm 119:68

Mayans also valued bitter chocolate for its healing and medicinal properties. Bitter days have value too. They make us aware of our weaknesses and they help us depend more on God. The psalmist wrote, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (v. 71). Let us embrace life today, with its different flavors—reassured of God’s goodness. Let us say, “You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised” (v. 65 nlt).

Father, help me to see Your goodness even in times of trouble.

God is good.

By Keila Ochoa INSIGHT

Psalm 119 expresses a deep longing to be transformed by the riches of God’s truth. The psalm echoes the theme of Psalm 1—that walking with God in integrity results in being “blessed,” having a flourishing life (v. 1).

Yet even as the psalm vividly describes pursuing God wholeheartedly, it also emphasizes that a rich life with God isn’t based on us. We are always in desperate need of God’s loving guidance to lead us into ever-greater depths of His truth (119:35–37, 88). The beauty of life with God is always based on His goodness (v. 68).

That is why—even in hard times—we can still find joy and hope. Even when our struggles are caused by our own sin (vv. 67, 71), we can trust in His mercy (v. 132). Because He is good and does what is good (v. 68), we can trust that He is always at work, drawing us closer to Him (v. 58).

Reflect on the intimate way Psalm 119 unites our calling to pursue God with our complete dependence on Him. Are you prone to emphasize one over the other? How might God be calling you to a deeper walk with Him?

Monica Brands

 

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Our Daily Bread — Anonymous Kindness

 

Read: Matthew 6:1–4 | Bible in a Year: Judges 16–18; Luke 7:1–30

When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:3

When I first graduated from college, I found myself needing to adopt a strict grocery budget—twenty-five dollars a week, to be exact. One day, while entering the checkout line, I suspected the groceries I’d selected cost slightly more than my remaining money. “Just stop when we reach twenty dollars,” I told the cashier, and I was able to purchase everything I’d selected but a bag of peppers.

As I was about to drive home, a man stopped by my car. “Here’s your peppers, ma’am,” he said, handing the bag to me. Before I had time to thank him, he was already walking away.

We give only because of what our generous God has so lavishly given us

Remembering the simple goodness of this act of kindness still warms my heart and brings to mind Jesus’s words in Matthew 6. Criticizing those who made a show of giving to the needy (v. 2), Jesus taught His disciples a different way. Instead of making giving all about them and their generosity, He urged that giving should be done so secretly it’s like their left hand isn’t even aware their right is giving (v. 3)!

As one person’s anonymous kindness reminded me, giving should never be about us. We give only because of what our generous God has so lavishly given us (2 Corinthians 9:6–11). As we give quietly and generously, we reflect who He is—and God receives the thanksgiving only He deserves (v. 11).

Have you ever been the recipient of anonymous kindness? Share your story at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Giving quietly and generously reflects God’s generosity.

By Monica Brands

INSIGHT

Today’s article describes acts of giving motivated by humility and kindness. There is no greater example of kindness and generosity than our God. Paul wrote that God’s kindness was at the heart of our rescue: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Titus 3:4–5). Peter challenged to spiritual growth those who had “tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:3 NASB). And Paul wrote to the Romans: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 NASB). Paul made it clear that God’s kindness is behind the call to repent—to change our minds about our sin and our need of God’s forgiveness. When we are generous to others, we model the generosity and kindness our loving God has shown to us.

 

Bill Crowder

 

http://www.odb.org

Our Daily Bread — Despised for All of This

 

Read: Isaiah 53:3–12 | Bible in a Year: Judges 13–15; Luke 6:27–49

He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12 Susannah Cibber gained fame in the eighteenth century for her talent as a singer. However, she was equally well known for her scandalous marital problems. That’s why when Handel’s Messiah was first performed in Dublin in April 1742, many in the audience did not approve of her role as a featured soloist.

During that inaugural performance, Cibber sang of the Messiah: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3 kjv). Those words so moved Rev. Patrick Delany that he jumped to his feet and said, “Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!”

He is risen! Matthew 28:6

The connection between Susannah Cibber and the theme of Handel’s Messiah is evident. The “man of sorrows”—Jesus the Messiah—was “despised and rejected” because of sin. The prophet Isaiah said, “My righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (v. 11).

The connection between Messiah and us is no less apparent. Whether we stand with the judgmental audience members, with Susannah Cibber, or somewhere in between, we all need to repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Jesus, by His life, death, and resurrection, restored our relationship with God our Father.

For this—for all Jesus did—be all our sins forgiven.

Father in heaven, we all stand in need of Your forgiveness. We stand too in awe of Your Son Jesus, who was despised and rejected for our sins. Thank You for coming to us in Jesus 2,000 years ago so that we might know You now.

Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Revelation 19:6 kjv

 

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Our Daily Bread — The King’s Crown

Read: Matthew 27:27–31 | Bible in a Year: Judges 11–12; Luke 6:1–26They . . . twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. Matthew 27:28–29

We sat around the table, each person adding a toothpick to the foam disc before us. At our evening meal in the weeks leading up to Easter, we created a crown of thorns—with each toothpick signifying something we had done that day for which we were sorry and for which Christ had paid the penalty. The exercise brought home to us, night after night, how through our wrongdoing we were guilty and how we needed a Savior. And how Jesus freed us through His death on the cross.

The crown of thorns that Jesus was made to wear was part of a cruel game the Roman soldiers played before He was crucified. They also dressed Him in a royal robe and gave Him a staff as a king’s scepter, which they then used to beat Him. They mocked Him, calling Him “king of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29), not realizing that their actions would be remembered thousands of years later. This was no ordinary king. He was the King of Kings whose death, followed by His resurrection, gives us eternal life.

Jesus, thank You for Your gift of love that sets me free!

On Easter morning, we celebrated the gift of forgiveness and new life by replacing the toothpicks with flowers. What joy we felt, knowing that God had erased our sins and given us freedom and life forever in Him!

Lord Jesus Christ, my heart hurts to think of all of the pain and suffering You endured for me. Thank You for Your gift of love that sets me free.

The crown of thorns has become a crown of life.

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

The horrific scene described in today’s reading serves to underscore how this fallen world and the powers of darkness held nothing but contempt for Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world. Yet Christ chose to suffer to redeem us: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

How might we praise our Lord for enduring the cross in order to erase our sins and give us freedom and life forever with Him?

For further study, see The Mockery and Majesty of the Cross at discoveryseries.org/hp081.

Dennis Fisher

 

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