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Old 03-26-2018, 08:29 AM   #2301
GOLDDUSTERS5703

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The Point of Being Alive


Read: Luke 12:22–34 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 22–24; Luke 3


Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. Luke 12:15

Lately, as I’ve been skimming financial advice books, I’ve noticed an interesting trend. While almost all such books have good advice, many imply that the primary reason to cut costs is to live like millionaires later. But one book offered a refreshingly different perspective, arguing that living simply is essential for a rich life. If you need more or fancier stuff to feel joy, the book suggested, “You’re missing the point of being alive.”

Those insightful words brought to mind Jesus’s response when a man asked Him to urge his brother to divide an inheritance with him. Instead of sympathizing, Jesus dismissed him abruptly before warning sternly about “all kinds of greed”—because “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:14–15). He then described a wealthy person’s plans to store his crops and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle—the first-century version of retirement planning—with a blistering conclusion. His wealth did him no good, since he died that night (vv. 16–20).

Our hearts should be focused on pursuing God's kingdom.
Although we are responsible to use our resources wisely, Jesus’s words remind us to check our motivation. Our hearts should be focused on pursuing God’s kingdom—knowing Him and serving others—not on securing our own futures (vv. 29–31). As we live for Him and freely share with others, we can fully enjoy a rich life with Him now—in the kingdom that gives meaning to all of life (vv. 32–34).

Lord, thank You for all You’ve so generously provided. Teach us how to enjoy what You’ve given and to share it with others. Help us to rest in You.

We don’t need to wait to enjoy a rich life in God’s kingdom.

By Monica Brands | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
God already lovingly rules. Yet in a fallen world, believers also pray for His kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10), for evil to be gone forever. How do we live in that tension?

Instead of living in fear of loss, Jesus taught His followers to live as if God’s kingdom was already here in full. Worrying is powerless, but courageously seeking Him leads to priceless, eternal riches (Luke 12:31–34).
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Old 03-27-2018, 09:11 AM   #2302
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Glory to the Grower


Read: Mark 4:26–29 | Bible in a Year: Judges 1–3; Luke 4:1–30


So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:7

One day, I noticed an unexpected splash of yellow to the right of our driveway. Six stalks of daffodils, sandwiched between two large stones, bloomed bright and tall. Because I hadn’t planted, fertilized, or intentionally watered the bulbs, I couldn’t figure out how or why the flowers had sprouted in our yard.

Jesus illustrated a mystery of spiritual growth in the parable of the growing seed. He compares the kingdom of God to a farmer scattering seed on the ground (Mark 4:26). The one who scattered the seed may have done what he could to care for the soil. But Jesus said the seed sprouted whether or not that man slept in, woke up, or even understood the growth process (vv. 27–28). The land owner benefited from the harvest (v. 29), though its development didn’t depend on what he did or his understanding of the workings beneath the surface of the soil.

God deserves the glory for the growth of His people and His kingdom.
The maturing of the seeds in Jesus’s parable, like the blooming of my daffodils, occurred in God’s time and because of God’s growing power. Whether we’re considering personal spiritual growth or God’s plan to expand the church until Jesus returns, the Lord’s mysterious ways aren’t dependent on our abilities or understanding of His works. Still, God invites us to know, serve, and praise the Grower, reaping the benefits of the spiritual maturity He cultivates in and through us.

Lord, thank You for growing us spiritually and using us to serve Your people, as You grow Your kingdom.

God deserves the glory for the growth of His people and His kingdom.

By Xochitl Dixon | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Commenting on the parable found in today’s text, Simon Kistemaker says: “From the moment he has sown the seed the farmer must leave the sprouting, the growing, the pollinating, and the maturing to God. . . . The farmer cannot explain this growth and development. He is only a worker who at the proper time sows and reaps. God holds the secret of life. God is in control” (The Parables: Understanding the Stories Jesus Told).

It isn’t that the farmer isn’t busy and simply relaxes during the growing of the wheat. He is busy weeding, mulching, and watering. But the growth is up to the Lord. We can work to encourage growth, do things that create an environment for growth and for plants to flourish, but ultimately the growth is something we see, not something we produce. The same is true in our spiritual life.

Take a moment to thank God for the growth you’ve seen in your life. How can you prepare the soil of your heart for continued growth in Christlikeness?
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Old 03-28-2018, 11:30 AM   #2303
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Look and Be Quiet

Read: Luke 23:44–49 | Bible in a Year: Judges 4–6; Luke 4:31–44

Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering . . . ? Lamentations 1:12

In the song “Look at Him,” Mexican composer Rubén Sotelo describes Jesus at the cross. He invites us to look at Jesus and be quiet, because there is really nothing to say before the type of love Jesus demonstrated at the cross. By faith we can imagine the scene described in the Gospels. We can imagine the cross and the blood, the nails, and the pain.

When Jesus breathed His last, those who “had gathered to witness this sight . . . beat their breasts and went away” (Luke 23:48). Others “stood at a distance, watching these things” (v. 49). They looked and were quiet. Only one spoke, a centurion, who said, “Surely this was a righteous man” (v. 47).

Look at the cross and worship.
Songs and poems have been written to describe this great love. Many years before, Jeremiah wrote about Jerusalem’s pain after its devastation. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12). He was asking people to look and see; he thought there was no greater suffering than Jerusalem’s. However, has there been any suffering like Jesus’s suffering?

All of us are passing by the road of the cross. Will we look and see His love? This Easter, when words and poems are not enough to express our gratitude and describe God’s love, let us take a moment to ponder Jesus’s death; and in the quietness of our hearts, may we whisper to Him our deepest devotion.

Dear Jesus, as I look at Your cross, I have no words to express my gratitude for Your perfect sacrifice. But I thank You for Your love.

Look at the cross and worship.

By Keila Ochoa | See Other Authors
INSIGHT
Can you imagine being personally responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? Luke tells us the Roman centurion saw something that led him to conclude that he had just overseen the execution of an innocent man (Luke 23:47). Matthew adds that as the officer and his soldiers felt the earth shake violently under their feet they became terrified at the thought that they had just executed “the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

In their world, Caesar was known as the son of God. But these Roman soldiers suddenly realized the emperor they answered to was nothing like Jesus. Entrusted with all power and authority in heaven and on earth, His death revealed the loving heart of His Father.

Imagine being the centurion reading what the apostle Paul later wrote to followers of Jesus in Rome. By this time, Jesus’s death was being proclaimed as good news to everyone (Romans 1:15–17). Paul described Jesus’s suffering and death as evidence of the God who continues to groan with us in our wrongs against Him, one another, and ourselves (Romans 8).

Can we see ourselves kneeling with this Roman officer in grateful worship?

Mart DeHaan
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Old 03-29-2018, 08:33 AM   #2304
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Basin of Love


Read: John 13:1–17 | Bible in a Year: Judges 7–8; Luke 5:1–16

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet. John 13:5

One day in physics class many years ago, our teacher asked us to tell him—without turning around—what color the back wall of the classroom was. None of us could answer, for we hadn’t noticed.

Sometimes we miss or overlook the “stuff” of life simply because we can’t take it all in. And sometimes we don’t see what’s been there all along.

Lord Jesus Christ, fill my heart with love that I might roll up my sleeves and wash the feet of others for You
It was like that for me as I recently read again the account of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. The story is a familiar one, for it is often read during Passion Week. That our Savior and King would stoop to cleanse the feet of His disciples awes us. In Jesus’s day, even Jewish servants were spared this task because it was seen as beneath them. But what I hadn’t noticed before was that Jesus, who was both man and God, washed the feet of Judas. Even though He knew Judas would betray Him, as we see in John 13:11, Jesus still humbled Himself and washed Judas’s feet.

Love poured out in a basin of water—love that He shared even with the one who would betray Him. As we ponder the events of this week leading up to the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection, may we too be given the gift of humility so that we can extend Jesus’s love to our friends and any enemies.

Lord Jesus Christ, fill my heart with love that I might roll up my sleeves and wash the feet of others for Your glory.

Because of love, Jesus humbled Himself and washed His disciples’ feet.
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Old 04-02-2018, 08:45 AM   #2305
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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 | See Other Authors
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
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:52 AM   #2306
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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 | See Other Authors
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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Old 04-04-2018, 12:33 PM   #2307
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Front-Porch Relief


Read: Philippians 4:10–20 | Bible in a Year: Ruth 1–4; Luke 8:1–25

I 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 | See Other Authors
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).

K. T. Sim
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:09 AM   #2308
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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 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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Old 04-06-2018, 08:57 AM   #2309
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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.


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

God’s kindness meets our deepest need.

By James Banks | See Other Authors
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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Old 04-09-2018, 08:46 AM   #2310
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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 ourgeneration 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 | See Other Authors
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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Old 04-10-2018, 09:06 AM   #2311
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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.


Share your prayer request and pray for others at YourDailyBread.org.

The name of Jesus is the powerful prayer that leads us into His mighty presence.
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Old 04-11-2018, 08:54 AM   #2312
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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 | See Other Authors
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
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Old 04-12-2018, 08:20 AM   #2313
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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 | See Other Authors
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?

K. T. Sim
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Old 04-13-2018, 08:15 AM   #2314
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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 | See Other Authors
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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Old 04-16-2018, 08:53 AM   #2315
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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 | See Other Authors
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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Old 04-17-2018, 09:26 AM   #2316
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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.


Read more about waiting on God at discoveryseries.org/q0736.

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

By Karen Wolfe | See Other Authors
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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Old 04-18-2018, 08:30 AM   #2317
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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 | See Other Authors
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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Old Yesterday, 08:57 AM   #2318
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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 | See Other Authors
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 Jackso
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Old Today, 10:33 AM   #2319
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The Art of Forgiveness


Read: Luke 15:11–24 | Bible in a Year: 2 Samuel 9–11; Luke 15:11–32

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

One afternoon I spent two hours at an art exhibit—The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness—in which all of the pieces were focused on Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–31). I found Edward Riojas’s painting The Prodigal Son especially powerful. The painting portrays the once wayward son returning home, wearing rags and walking with his head down. With a land of death behind him, he steps onto a pathway where his father is already running toward him. At the bottom of the painting are Jesus’s words, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion” (v. 20 kjv).

I was deeply moved by realizing once more how God’s unchanging love has altered my life. When I walked away from Him, He didn’t turn His back, but kept looking, watching, and waiting. His love is undeserved yet unchanging; often ignored yet never withdrawn.

We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us.
We all are guilty, yet our heavenly Father reaches out to welcome us, just as the father in this story embraced his wayward son. “Let’s have a feast and celebrate,” the father told the servants. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vv. 23–24).

The Lord still rejoices over those who return to Him today—and that’s worth celebrating!

Father, as we receive Your love and forgiveness, may we also extend it to others in Your name.

God’s love for us is undeserved yet unchanging.
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