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Old 02-28-2017, 09:40 AM   #2061
Bodacious
 
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Name: Bodacious
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Thank you sir so much for posting these wonderful lessons. I am trying.
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Old 03-01-2017, 09:00 AM   #2062
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All of Me

Read: Matthew 27:45–54 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 23–25; Mark 7:14–37

Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

Young Isaac Watts found the music in his church sadly lacking, and his father challenged him to create something better. Isaac did. His hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” has been called the greatest in the English language and has been translated into many other languages.

Watts’s worshipful third verse ushers us into the presence of Christ at the crucifixion.

“Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.” —Isaac Watts
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

The crucifixion Watts describes so elegantly stands as history’s most awful moment. We do well to pause and stand with those around the cross. The Son of God strains for breath, held by crude spikes driven through His flesh. After tortured hours, a supernatural darkness descends. Finally, mercifully, the Lord of the universe dismisses His anguished spirit. An earthquake rattles the landscape. Back in the city the thick temple curtain rips in half. Graves open, and dead bodies resurrect, walking about the city (Matt. 27:51–53). These events compel the centurion who crucified Jesus to say, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (v. 54).

“The Cross reorders all values and cancels all vanities,” says the Poetry Foundation in commenting on Watts’s poem. The song could only conclude: “Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.”

It is our privilege to give everything we have
to the One who gave us everything on the cross.

INSIGHT:
When the Lord Jesus Christ hung upon the cross, cosmic events accompanied by signs and wonders occurred between heaven and earth. A supernatural darkness came over the earth midday. Many theologians believe that for the first time in eternity past the fellowship between the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—was interrupted. As Christ took our sins upon Himself on the cross, His Father could not stay in fellowship with Him. An earthquake opened the tombs of some Old Testament believers, who were brought back to life. So dramatic were these events that even a Gentile, such as the Roman centurion who oversaw Jesus’s crucifixion, made a declaration of faith.
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Old 03-02-2017, 08:48 AM   #2063
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One of Us

Read: Hebrews 2:9–18 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 26–27; Mark 8:1–21

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18

At the memorial service for Charles Schulz (1922–2000), creator of the beloved Peanuts comic strip, friend and fellow cartoonist Cathy Guisewite spoke of his humanity and compassion. “He gave everyone in the world characters who knew exactly how all of us felt, who made us feel we were never alone. And then he gave the cartoonist himself, and he made us feel that we were never alone. . . . He encouraged us. He commiserated with us. He made us feel he was exactly like us.”

When we feel that no one understands or can help us, we are reminded that Jesus gave us Himself, and He knows exactly who we are and what we are facing today.

Jesus knows exactly who we are and what we are facing today.
Hebrews 2:9–18 presents the remarkable truth that Jesus fully shared our humanity during His life on earth (v. 14). He “taste[d] death for everyone” (v. 9), broke the power of Satan (v. 14), and freed “those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (v. 15). Jesus was made like us, “fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God” (v. 17). Thank You, Lord, for sharing our humanity so that we might know Your help today and live in Your presence forever.

What fears and concerns do you have? What should you do with those fears? (1 Peter 5:6–7). What does the Lord promise to do for you? (Heb. 13:5).


For further study read Is Jesus God? at discoveryseries.org/q0205.

No one understands like Jesus.

INSIGHT:
Hebrews 2:5–18 explains why Jesus being fully human is so significant. The author of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 8 to show that God from the beginning intended humanity to rule over creation. Although we are not yet ruling fully as God intended, the resurrected Jesus has been crowned king of creation and someday we too will reign with Him. Hebrews 2:12 quotes Psalm 22:22, which describes Jesus celebrating in worship with His brothers and sisters. Because Jesus is not only our Lord but also our fully human “brother,” we will someday rule alongside Him.
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Old 03-03-2017, 08:27 AM   #2064
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Two Portraits

Read: John 16:19–24 | Bible in a Year: Numbers 28–30; Mark 8:22–38

Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22

Clutching two framed photographs, the proud grandmother showed them to friends in the church foyer. The first picture was of her daughter back in her homeland of Burundi. The second was of her grandson, born recently to that daughter. But the daughter wasn’t holding her newborn. She had died giving birth to him.

A friend approached and looked at the pictures. Reflexively, she reached up and held that dear grandmother’s face in her hands. All she could say through her own tears was, “I know. I know.”

When we put our cares into His hands, He puts His peace into our hearts.
And she did know. Two months earlier she had buried a son.

There’s something special about the comfort of others who have experienced our pain. They know. Just before Jesus’s arrest, He warned His disciples, “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.” But in the next breath He comforted them: “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20). In mere hours, the disciples would be devastated by Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion. But their crushing grief soon turned to a joy they could not have imagined when they saw Him alive again.

Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isa. 53:4). We have a Savior who doesn’t merely know about our pain; He lived it. He knows. He cares. One day our grief will be turned into joy.

Lord, thank You for going to the cross for us. We certainly know trouble in this world, but You overcame the world and took our sin and pain for us. We look forward to the day when our sorrows will be turned into joy and we see You face to face.

When we put our cares into His hands, He puts His peace into our hearts.

INSIGHT:
It was necessary for Jesus, who is fully God, to be made in every respect like us—fully human—so that He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Only by becoming a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. While on earth, the Lord Jesus “walked in our shoes” and, therefore, He fully knows and understands us. We are now to walk in His “shoes” and imitate His example of compassion and care. “In your relationships with one another,” Paul tells us, “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). How can you bring comfort to others today by walking in Jesus’s shoes?
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:37 AM   #2065
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Loving Perfectly

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 1–2; Mark 10:1–31

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7–8

Her voice shook as she shared the problems she was having with her daughter. Worried about her teenager’s questionable friends, this concerned mum confiscated her daughter’s mobile phone and chaperoned her everywhere. Their relationship seemed only to go from bad to worse.

When I spoke with the daughter, I discovered that she loves her mum dearly but is suffocating under a smothering love. She longs to break free.

Thank You for being our model in showing us how to live and love.
As imperfect beings, we all struggle in our relationships. Whether we are a parent or child, single or married, we grapple with expressing love the right way, saying and doing the right thing at the right time. We grow in love throughout our lifetime.

In 1 Corinthians 13 the apostle Paul outlines what perfect love looks like. His standard sounds wonderful, but putting that love into practice can be absolutely daunting. Thankfully, we have Jesus as our example. As He interacted with people with varying needs and issues, He showed us what perfect love looks like in action. As we walk with Him, keeping ourselves in His love and steeping our mind in His Word, we’ll reflect more and more of His likeness. We’ll still make mistakes, but God is able to redeem them and cause good to come out of every situation, for His love “always protects” and it “never fails” (vv. 7–8).

Lord, our intentions are good but we fail each other in so many ways. Thank You for being our model in showing us how to live and love.

To show His love, Jesus died for us; to show our love, we live for Him.

INSIGHT:
Do you ever find yourself hurting those you love, and maybe even forgetting in the emotion of the moment how much you really do care about them? If so, keep in mind that long before Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 he was an angry man who was mindlessly hurting the God he thought he knew and loved (Acts 9:1–6). So what brought about Paul’s change? First he needed to see how wrong he’d been about Jesus. He also needed to see that knowing the law is not the same as keeping it—and that he himself needed not only mercy but also the help of the Spirit of God to love others as God loved him. The Spirit who brought him from law to grace now invites and leads us into the loving patience and kindness that our Lord wants to express in and through us.
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:07 AM   #2066
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Painting a Portrait

Read: Philippians 2:1–11 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 5–7; Mark 11:1–18

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5

The National Portrait Gallery in London, England, houses a treasure of paintings from across the centuries, including 166 images of Winston Churchill, 94 of William Shakespeare, and 20 of George Washington. With the older portraits, we may wonder: Is that what these individuals really looked like?

For instance, there are eight paintings of Scottish patriot William Wallace (c. 1270–1305), but we obviously don’t have photographs to compare them to. How do we know if the artists accurately represented Wallace?

Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for us motivates us to sacrifice ourselves for others.
Something similar might be happening with the likeness of Jesus. Without realizing it, those who believe in Him are leaving an impression of Him on others. Not with brushes and oils, but with attitudes, actions, and relationships.

Are we painting a portrait that represents the likeness of His heart? This was the concern of the apostle Paul. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus,” he wrote (Phil. 2:5). With a desire to accurately represent our Lord, he urged His followers to reflect the humility, self-sacrifice, and compassion of Jesus for others.

It has been said, “We are the only Jesus some people will ever see.” As we “in humility value others above [ourselves]” (v. 3), we will show the world the heart and attitude of Jesus Himself.

Father, please build the heart of Christ into my heart that those around me will see Him clearly and desire to know Him too.


How can you show Christ in your life to others in your community? Share at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Christ’s sacrifice of Himself motivates us to sacrifice ourselves for others.

INSIGHT:
The church at Philippi, established by Paul during his second missionary journey, was a growing and faithful community that had actively supported Paul’s ministry (Phil. 1:5; 4:15–18). In this thank-you letter, Paul encouraged the Philippians to continue to grow and mature in their faith, even in the midst of persecution. He exhorted them, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27), so that they would “shine . . . like stars in the sky” (2:15). He urged them to imitate Christ in sacrificial love, unity, humility, and service.
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Old 03-09-2017, 09:22 AM   #2067
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Mistakes Were Made

Read: Exodus 32:1–5, 19–26 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 8–10; Mark 11:19–33

They gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf! Exodus 32:24

“Mistakes were made,” said the CEO as he discussed the illegal activity his company had been involved in. He looked regretful, yet he kept blame at arm’s length and couldn’t admit he had personally done anything wrong.

Some “mistakes” are just mistakes: driving in the wrong direction, forgetting to set a timer and burning dinner, miscalculating your checkbook balance. But then there are the deliberate deeds that go far beyond—God calls those sin. When God questioned Adam and Eve about why they had disobeyed Him, they quickly tried to shift the blame to another (Gen. 3:8–13). Aaron took no personal responsibility when the people built a golden calf to worship in the desert. He explained to Moses, “[The people] gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” (Ex. 32:24).

Our God offers His children forgiveness and restoration.
He might as well have muttered, “Mistakes were made.”

Sometimes it seems easier to blame someone else rather than admitting our own failings. Equally dangerous is to try to minimize our sin by calling it “just a mistake” instead of acknowledging its true nature.

But when we take responsibility—acknowledging our sin and confessing it—the One who “is faithful and just . . . will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our God offers His children forgiveness and restoration.

The first step to receiving God’s forgiveness is to admit that we need it.
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:19 AM   #2068
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Home

Read: Ephesians 2:11–22 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 11–13; Mark 12:1–27

You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people. Ephesians 2:19

A young African refugee who goes by the name of Steven is a man without a country. He thinks he may have been born in Mozambique or Zimbabwe. But he never knew his father and lost his mother. She fled civil war, traveling country to country as a street vendor. Without ID and unable to prove his place of birth, Steven walked into a British police station, asking to be arrested. Jail seemed better to Steven than trying to exist on the streets without the rights and benefits of citizenship.

The plight of living without a country was on Paul’s mind as he wrote his letter to the Ephesians. His non-Jewish readers knew what it was like to live as aliens and outsiders (2:12). Only since finding life and hope in Christ (1:13) had they discovered what it meant to belong to the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). In Jesus, they learned what it means to be known and cared for by the Father He came to reveal (Matt. 6:31–33).

You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people. Ephesians 2:19
Paul realized, however, that as the past fades from view, a short memory can cause us to forget that, while hope is the new norm, despair was the old reality.

May our God help us to live in security—to know each day the belonging that we have as members of His family is by faith in Jesus Christ and to understand the rights and benefits of having our home in Him.

Lord, as we remember how hopeless we were before You found us, please help us not to forget those who are still on the street.

Hope means the most to those who have lived without it.

INSIGHT:
It’s easy to feel lost. The apostle Paul knew some of his readers felt that way. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote to them about being part of God’s family. They were no longer “foreigners” and “excluded” (2:12) but were “fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (v. 19). How does knowing you are part of God’s family help when you feel lost and alone?
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Old 03-13-2017, 09:41 AM   #2069
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Surprise Interview

Read: Acts 26:9–15 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 20–22; Mark 13:21–37

The King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:40 nlt

On a crowded London commuter train, an early morning rider shoved and insulted a fellow passenger who got in his way. It was the kind of unfortunate and mindless moment that usually remains unresolved. But later that day, the unexpected happened. A business manager sent a quick message to his social media friends, “Guess who just showed up for a job interview.” When his explanation appeared on the Internet, people all over the world winced and smiled. Imagine walking into a job interview only to discover that the person who greets you is the one you had shoved and sworn at earlier that day.

Saul also ran into someone he never expected to see. While raging against a group called the Way (Acts 9:1–2), he was stopped in his tracks by a blinding light. Then a voice said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (v. 4). Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The One speaking to him replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (26:15).

When we help or hurt one another, Jesus takes it personally.
Years earlier Jesus had said that how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, and the prisoner reflects our relationship to Him (Matt. 25:35–36). Who would have dreamed that when someone insults us, or when we help or hurt another, the One who loves us takes it personally?

Father, forgive us for acting as if You were not present in our moments of need, hurt, anger, or compassion.

When we help or hurt one another, Jesus takes it personally.

INSIGHT:
Commentator William Barclay says, “One of the extraordinary things about the great characters in the New Testament story is that they were never afraid to confess what once they had been.” In today’s passage, Paul describes how Christ had transformed his life from someone who once persecuted Christ and His followers to someone who proclaims the truth of the gospel. His former way of life no longer defined him. A personal testimony is an effective witnessing tool. A simple way of telling our story is to write down answers to three simple questions: What characterized my life before receiving Christ? What were the circumstances when I chose to receive Him? How has my life changed since I trusted Jesus for salvation?
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:26 AM   #2070
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Open Arms

Read: Psalm 139:17–24 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 23–25; Mark 14:1–26

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

The day my husband, Dan, and I began our caregiving journey with our aging parents, we linked arms and felt as if we were plunging off a cliff. We didn’t know that in the process of caregiving the hardest task we would face would be to allow our hearts to be searched and molded and to allow God to use this special time to make us like Him in new ways.

On days when I felt I was plunging toward earth in an out-of-control free-fall, God showed me my agendas, my reservations, my fears, my pride, and my selfishness. He used my broken places to show me His love and forgiveness.

When worry walks in, strength runs out. But strength returns when we run to God.
My pastor has said, “The best day is the day you see yourself for who you are—desperate without Christ. Then see yourself as He sees you—complete in Him.” This was the blessing of caregiving in my life. As I saw who God had created me to be, I turned and ran weeping into His arms. I cried out with the psalmist: “Search me, God, and know my heart” (Ps. 139:23).

This is my prayer for you—that as you see yourself in the midst of your own circumstances, you will turn and run into the open, loving, and forgiving arms of God.

Gracious Father, I recognize today my desperate need of Your love, wisdom, and grace. Search me and know me. Pour out Your grace and mercy in my life to bring healing to my heart.




When worry walks in, strength runs out. But strength returns when we run to God.

INSIGHT:
There is no place where David is outside God’s protective presence and care (139:7–12). Recognizing that it was a great privilege to know such a God, David prayed a prayer of commitment, seeking to live a blameless life (vv. 23-24). Even as he asks God to “search and test” him (v. 23), he was well-assured that God already knew him through and through, for he had declared at the start of this song, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me” (v. 1). The Old Testament patriarch Job made a similar statement, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job’s world had been turned upside down, having lost his wealth, his family, and his health (1:14–2:7). In the midst of his trials he boldly asks, “Does [God] not see my ways and count my every step?” (31:4). Perhaps, like David and Job, you may be going through a rough patch. We can be encouraged that our God knows and cares. What is your response to the truth that God knows everything about you and His arms of love are always open?
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:10 AM   #2071
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A Good Inheritance

Read: 2 Timothy 1:1–5 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 26–27; Mark 14:27–53

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. 2 Timothy 1:5

Grandpa and Grandma Harris didn’t have a lot of money, yet they managed to make each Christmas memorable for my cousins and me. There was always plenty of food, fun, and love. And from an early age we learned that it was Christ who made this celebration possible.

We want to leave the same legacy to our children. When we got together last December to share Christmas with family, we realized this wonderful tradition had started with Grandpa and Grandma. They couldn’t leave us a monetary inheritance, but they were careful to plant the seeds of love, respect, and faith so that we—their children’s children—might imitate their example.

If someone has left you a godly inheritance, invest it in others.
In the Bible we read about grandma Lois and mom Eunice, who shared with Timothy genuine faith (2 Tim. 1:5). Their influence prepared this man to share the good news with many others.

We can prepare a spiritual inheritance for those whose lives we influence by living in close communion with God. In practical ways, we make His love a reality to others when we give them our undivided attention, show interest in what they think and do, and share life with them. We might even invite them to share in our celebrations! When our lives reflect the reality of God’s love, we leave a lasting legacy for others.

Father, may I leave a good spiritual inheritance to my family as You use me to show Your everlasting love.

If someone has left you a godly inheritance, invest it in others.

INSIGHT:
Paul’s second letter to Timothy is one of his most personal epistles. Chapter 1 is marked by the apostle’s fatherly challenges to Timothy about courageously using the giftedness God has invested in him. In chapter 2, Paul again encourages his young son in the faith to stand firm and grow in a mature walk with Christ. Chapter 3 provides a warning about the difficulties of the days ahead and a call to hold tight to the teachings he has received. In the closing chapter, Paul acknowledges that he wants Timothy to show the same faithfulness to the gospel that he himself has sought to exhibit. Paul shares the disappointment and hurt he has suffered at the hands of some people, but he has been faithful in passing along the faith to others, just as Eunice and Lois had invested in young Timothy. The result was that their son and grandson had become like a son to Paul.
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Old 03-16-2017, 11:50 AM   #2072
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Spilling Through My Fingers

Read: Isaiah 40:9–17 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 28–29; Mark 14:54–72

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand . . . ? Isaiah 40:12

After I clumsily knocked over my glass on the restaurant counter, the spilled beverage began to cascade over the edge and onto the floor. Out of sheer embarrassment, I tried to catch the waterfall with cupped hands. My efforts were largely unsuccessful; most of my beverage rushed through my fingers. In the end, my upturned palms held little more than a meager tablespoon each, while my feet stood in puddles.

My life feels similar on many days. I find myself scrambling to solve problems, oversee details, and control circumstances. No matter how hard I try, my feeble hands are incapable of managing all the pieces and parts. Something invariably slips through my fingers and pools on the floor at my feet, leaving me feeling overwhelmed. No amount of contorting my hands or squeezing my fingers more tightly together makes me able to handle it all.

Help me, Lord, to trust my needs and concerns into Your perfect care.
Yet God can. Isaiah tells us that God can measure the globe’s waters—all the oceans and rivers and rain—in the hollow of His hands (40:12). Only His hands are large enough to hold them all. We needn’t try to hold more than the tablespoon He’s designed our hands to carry. When we feel overwhelmed, we can entrust our cares and concerns into His capable hands.

Help me, Lord, to stop trying to hold everything in my hands, but instead to trust my needs and concerns into Your perfect care.


Our Daily Bread welcomes writer Kirsten Holmberg! Meet Kirsten and all our authors at odb.org/all-authors.

We can trust God to handle the things that overwhelm us.

INSIGHT:
The truth of God’s intimate care for us is grounded in God’s self-revelation, the Bible. In the Discovery Series booklet How Can I Know God through His Book? David Egner writes, “Although the Bible was written by men like Moses and Luke and Paul, it is the self-revelation of God. He is the Author behind the authors. And what He says reflects who He is. To know God we have to read His book; . . . to see Him on every page, above every event, in every place and circumstance, and overseeing the choice of every person who makes his way into the sacred pages of biblical history.”
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:03 AM   #2073
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After You

Read: Genesis 13:1–18 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 30–31; Mark 15:1–25

Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left. Genesis 13:9

In some cultures a younger person is expected to permit his elder to enter a room first. In others, the most important or highest ranking individual enters first. No matter what our traditions, there are times when we find it difficult to allow someone to choose first on important matters, especially when that privilege rightfully belongs to us.

Abram (later called Abraham) and his nephew Lot had so many flocks, herds, and tents that the land could not support both of them as they traveled together. To avoid conflict, Abram suggested they part company and generously gave Lot first choice of the land. His nephew took the fertile Jordan Valley, leaving Abram with the less desirable land.

God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. —Jim Elliot
Abram did not insist on his rights as the elder in this situation but trusted his future to God. “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me . . . . Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left’ ” (Gen. 13:8–9). Lot’s choice eventually led to dire consequences for his entire family (see Gen. 19).

Today, as we face choices of many kinds, we can trust our Father to guide us in His way. He has promised to care for us. He will always give us what we need.

Father, Your unfailing love and faithfulness guide us in every choice we make. May our lives speak well of You and honor You today.

God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. Jim Elliot
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:22 AM   #2074
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Running and Rest

Read: Mark 6:30–46 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 4–6; Luke 1:1–20

[Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

The headline caught my eye: “Rest Days Important for Runners.” In Tommy Manning’s article, the former member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team emphasized a principle that dedicated athletes sometimes ignore—the body needs time to rest and rebuild after exercise. “Physiologically, the adaptations that occur as a result of training only happen during rest,” Manning wrote. “This means rest is as important as workouts.”

The same is true in our walk of faith and service. Regular times of rest are essential to avoid burnout and discouragement. Jesus sought spiritual balance during His life on Earth, even in the face of great demands. When His disciples returned from a strenuous time of teaching and healing others, “He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:31). But a large crowd followed them, so Jesus taught them and fed them with only five loaves and two fish (vv. 32–44). When everyone was gone, Jesus “went up on a mountainside to pray” (v. 46).

Jesus invites us to regularly join Him in a quiet place to pray and get some rest.
If our lives are defined by work, then what we do becomes less and less effective. Jesus invites us to regularly join Him in a quiet place to pray and get some rest.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your example of prayer alone with Your Father. Give us wisdom and determination to make rest a priority as we follow You.

In our life of faith and service, rest is as important as work.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:13 AM   #2075
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Refreshing Spring Rains

Read: Hosea 6:1–4 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 7–9; Luke 1:21–38

He will come to us like the . . . spring rains that water the earth. Hosea 6:3

Needing a break, I went for a walk in the nearby park. As I headed down the path, a burst of green caught my attention. Out of the mud appeared shoots of life that in a few weeks would be cheerful daffodils, heralding spring and the warmth to come. We had made it through another winter!

As we read through the book of Hosea, it can feel in parts like an unrelenting winter. For the Lord gave this prophet the unenviable task of marrying an unfaithful woman as a picture of the Creator’s love for His people Israel (1:2–3). Hosea’s wife, Gomer, broke their wedding vows, but Hosea welcomed her back, yearning that she would love him devotedly (3:1–3). So too the Lord desires that we love Him with a strength and commitment that won’t evaporate like the morning mist.

Though we may be unfaithful to God, He will never turn from us.
How do we relate to God? Do we seek Him mainly in times of trouble, searching for answers in our distress but ignoring Him during our seasons of celebration? Are we like the Israelites, easily swayed by the idols of our age, including such things as busyness, success, and influence?

Today, may we recommit ourselves to the Lord, who loves us as surely as the flowers bud in the spring.

Lord Jesus, You gave Yourself that we might be free. Help us to love You wholeheartedly.

Though we may be unfaithful to God, He will never turn from us.

INSIGHT:
The message of the prophet Hosea is as powerful as it is persistent. His book is situated first among the Minor Prophets and is one of the oldest books in this section of the Scriptures. Hosea lived and ministered in the northern kingdom about a generation before the Assyrian captivity in 722 bc. The message of Hosea mirrors the message of the entire Bible. By commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute, endure her unfaithfulness, and buy her back out of her life of prostitution, God illustrates for Israel His message of love, mercy, and forgiveness. God’s offer of redemption despite our waywardness permeates all of Scripture. How does knowing that God offers redemption despite our sin encourage you? Discover how Hosea’s life mirrored God’s message to His people. Listen to discovertheword.org/2012/05/23/discover-how-hoseas-life-mirrored-gods-message-to-his-people.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:20 AM   #2076
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What Are You Known For?

Read: Hebrews 11:23–28 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 10–12; Luke 1:39–56

[Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:26

A memorial stone stands in the grounds of a former Japanese prison camp in China where a man died in 1945. It reads, “Eric Liddell was born in Tianjin of Scottish parents in 1902. His career reached its peak with his gold medal victory in the 400 metres event at the 1924 Olympic Games. He returned to China to work in Tianjin as a teacher. . . . His whole life was spent encouraging young people to make their best contributions to the betterment of mankind.”

In the eyes of many, Eric’s greatest achievement was on the sports field. But he is also remembered for his contribution to the youth of Tianjin in China, the country where he was born and that he loved. He lived and served by faith.

Faithfulness to God is true success.
What will we be remembered for? Our academic achievements, job position, or financial success may get us recognized by others. But it is the quiet work we do in the lives of people that will live long after we are gone.

Moses is remembered in the faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, as someone who chose to align himself with the people of God instead of enjoying the treasures of Egypt (v. 26). He led and served God’s people by faith.

Ask God to show you how you can make a difference in the lives of others. For what would you like to be remembered?

Faithfulness to God is true success.

INSIGHT:
Hebrews 11 remembers a group of men and women who were a lot like us. They all had their flaws. Yet all of them are referred to as people of faith who eventually were made “perfect”—“together with us” (v. 40). Why would the author of Hebrews remember people like Moses, Rahab, and David as being people of faith who became perfect together with us? Part of the answer is that the letter to the Hebrews sees Jesus as the Savior who offers sinners like us perfect (complete, full, and restored) relationship and total forgiveness and reconciliation with God. In other words, Jesus offers His own perfect standing with the Father to all who put their faith in Him. A deeply flawed Moses is remembered for his faith in the God who gives us a heart for others by showing how much we are loved.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:21 PM   #2077
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Cradled in Comfort

Read: Isaiah 66:12–16 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 13–15; Luke 1:57–80

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

My friend entrusted me with the privilege of holding her precious, four-day-old daughter. Not long after I took the baby into my arms, she started to fuss. I hugged her closer, my cheek pressed against her head, and began to sway and hum in a gentle rhythm to soothe her. Despite these earnest attempts, and my decade and a half of parenting experience, I couldn’t pacify her. She became increasingly upset until I placed her back into the crook of her mother’s eager arm. Peace washed over her almost instantaneously; her cries subsided and her newborn frame relaxed into the safety she already trusted. My friend knew precisely how to hold and pat her daughter to alleviate her distress.

God extends comfort to His children like a mother: tender, trustworthy, and diligent in her efforts to calm her child. When we are weary or upset, He carries us affectionately in His arms. As our Father and Creator, He knows us intimately. He “will keep in perfect peace all who trust in [him], all whose thoughts are fixed on [him]” (Isa. 26:3 nlt).

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13
When the troubles of this world weigh heavy on our hearts, we can find comfort in the knowledge that He protects and fights for us, His children, as a loving parent.

Lord, help me to look to You for my comfort in times of distress.


For help in finding God’s comfort, read The Lord Is My Shepherd: Rest and Renewal from Psalm 23 at discoveryseries.org/hp952.

God’s comfort soothes us perfectly.

INSIGHT:
In reflecting on the exile of Israel under divine discipline, the prophet Isaiah offers hope and comfort. He sees very clearly that “the Holy One of Israel” and the Creator of all things in heaven and earth are connected. Israel had a wayward heart that is characteristic of the human race. Yet the ultimate goal of Israel’s discipline was to secure their repentance and therefore a future blessing in the eternal covenant established with His people. Certainly God’s plan for Israel’s redemption included an unexpected impulse of divine grace extended to all the peoples of the world—from every tribe, tongue, and nation: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).
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Old Yesterday, 11:09 AM   #2078
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His Wonderful Face

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:8–27 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 16–18; Luke 2:1–24

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11

My four-year-old son is full of questions, and chatters constantly. I love talking with him, but he’s developed an unfortunate habit of talking to me even when his back is turned. I often find myself saying, “I can’t hear you—please look at me when you’re talking.”

Sometimes I think God wants to say the same thing to us—not because He can’t hear us, but because we can tend to talk to Him without really “looking” at Him. We pray, but we remain caught up in our own questions and focused on ourselves, forgetting the character of the One we’re praying to. Like my son, we ask questions without paying attention to the person we’re talking to.

Seeking the face of God can strengthen our faith.
Many of our concerns are best addressed by reminding ourselves of who God is and what He has done. By simply refocusing, we find comfort in what we know of His character: that He is loving, forgiving, sovereign, graceful.

The psalmist believed we ought to seek God’s face continually (Ps. 105:4). When David appointed leaders for worship and prayer, he encouraged the people to praise God’s character and tell stories of His past faithfulness (1 Chron. 16:8–27).

When we turn our eyes toward the beautiful face of God, we can find strength and comfort that sustain us even in the midst of unanswered questions.

Lord, let the light of Your face shine upon us.


Our Daily Bread welcomes writer Amy Peterson! Meet Amy and all our authors at odb.org/all-authors.

Seeking the face of God can strengthen our faith.

INSIGHT:
The Israelites worshiped the Lord around the ark of the covenant. To commemorate the ark’s return, David composed a song of worship for the occasion. This song exalts God’s power and celebrates His presence. David calls on the people to “seek his face always” (1 Chron. 16:11) and to fear and worship Him (vv. 25, 29–30). What does it mean for you “to seek his face always”?
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