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Thread: Our Daily Bread

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    June 17,2019

    Stick-Figure Lesson

    What we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
    2 Corinthians 10:11

    A friend of mine—okay, it was my counselor—drew a stick figure on a sheet of paper. She labeled this the “private” self. Then she drew an outline around the figure, about a half-inch larger, and named it the “public” self. The difference between the two figures, between the private and public selves, represents the degree to which we have integrity.

    I paused at her lesson and wondered, Am I the same person in public that I am in private? Do I have integrity?

    Paul wrote letters to the church in Corinth, weaving love and discipline into his teachings to be like Jesus. As he neared the end of this letter (2 Corinthians), he addressed accusers who challenged his integrity by saying he was bold in his letters but weak in person (10:10). These critics used professional oratory to take money from their listeners. While Paul possessed academic prowess, he spoke simply and plainly. “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words,” he had written in an earlier letter, “but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). His later letter revealed his integrity: “Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present” (2 Corinthians 10:11).

    Paul presented himself as the same person in public that he was in private. How about us?

    By Elisa Morgan
    Reflect & Pray

    In what ways are you integrating your private and public life? How might you honor God even more fully with complete integrity?

    Dear God, help me to be myself first to You in private, that I might present myself with integrity as the same person in public.
    2 Corinthians 10:1-11

    1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

    2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

    3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

    4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds

    5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

    7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.

    8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

    9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

    10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

    11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 18, 2019

    Rescuing Villains

    Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!
    Daniel 3:28

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Tim Gustafson
    Reflect & Pray

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

    Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him. We can do the same.
    Daniel 3:26-30

    26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

    27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

    28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

    29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

    30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 19,2019

    In Our Weakness

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
    Romans 8:26

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

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

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

    By Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
    Reflect & Pray

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

    Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son and the power of the Holy Spirit who enables me to enjoy real life in You.
    Romans 8:1-2

    1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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




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    June 20,2019

    Present in the Storm

    The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
    Psalm 46:7

    Fire swept through the home of a family of six from our church. Although the father and son survived, the father was still hospitalized while his wife, mother, and two small children were laid to rest. Unfortunately, heartbreaking events like this continue to happen again and again. When they’re replayed, so is the age-old question: Why do bad things happen to good people? And it doesn’t surprise us that this old question doesn’t have new answers.

    Yet the truth that the psalmist puts forth in Psalm 46 has also been replayed and rehearsed and embraced repeatedly. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (v. 1). The conditions described in verses 2–3 are catastrophic—earth and mountains moving and sea waters raging. We shudder when we imagine being in the midst of the stormy conditions poetically pictured here. But sometimes we do find ourselves there—in the swirling throes of a terminal illness, tossed about by a devastating financial crisis, stung and stunned by the deaths of loved ones.

    It’s tempting to rationalize that the presence of trouble means the absence of God. But the truth of Scripture counters such notions. “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (vv. 7, 11). He is present when our circumstances are unbearable, and we find comfort in His character: He is good, loving, and trustworthy.

    By Arthur Jackson
    Reflect & Pray

    When did a challenge in life cause you to question if God was present? What helped to turn the situation around for you?

    Father, help me to trust the truth of Your Word when it’s hard for me to sense Your care or presence.
    Psalms 46:1-11

    1 (To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

    2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

    3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

    4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

    5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

    6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

    7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

    8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

    9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

    10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

    11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 21,2019

    Ending Envy

    Each one should test their own actions.
    Galatians 6:4

    The famous French artist Edgar Degas is remembered worldwide for his paintings of ballerinas. Less known is the envy he expressed of his friend and artistic rival Édouard Manet, another master painter. Said Degas of Manet, “Everything he does he always hits off straightaway, while I take endless pains and never get it right.”

    It’s a curious emotion, envy—listed by the apostle Paul among the worst traits, as bad as “every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip” (Romans 1:29 nlt). It results from foolish thinking, Paul writes—the result of worshiping idols instead of worshiping God (v. 28).

    Author Christina Fox says that when envy develops among believers, it’s “because our hearts have turned from our one true love.” In our envy, she said, “we are chasing after the inferior pleasures of this world instead of looking to Jesus. In effect, we’ve forgotten whose we are.”

    Yet there’s a remedy. Turn back to God. “Offer every part of yourself to him,” Paul wrote (Romans 6:13)—your work and life especially. In another of his letters Paul penned, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4).

    Thank God for His blessings—not just things, but for the freedom of His grace. Seeing our own God-given gifts, we find contentment again.

    By Patricia Raybon
    Reflect & Pray

    What talents, spiritual gifts, and blessings has God given you that you’ve forgotten to appreciate? Reflecting on them, how does your heart feel as you return to God?
    Romans 5:11-14

    11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

    13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

    14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 22,2019

    Hide-and-Seek

    But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
    Genesis 3:9

    “He’s going to find me,” I thought. I felt my little heart pound faster as I heard my five-year-old cousin’s footsteps around the corner. He was coming closer. Five steps away. Three. Two. “Found you!”

    Hide-and-seek. Most have fond memories of playing the game as children. Yet sometimes in life the fear of being found isn’t fun but is rooted in a deep instinct to flee. People may dislike what they see.

    As children of a fallen world, we’re prone to play what a friend of mine labels, “a mixed-up game of hide-and-seek” between God and us. It’s more like a game of pretending to hide—because either way, He sees all the way through to our messy thoughts and wrong choices. We know it, though we like to pretend He can’t really see.

    Yet God continues to seek. “Come out,” He calls to us. “I want to see you, even your most shameful parts”—an echo of the same voice that called to the first human who hid out of fear: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Such a warm invitation voiced in the form of a piercing question. “Come out of hiding, dear child, and come back into relationship with Me.”

    It may seem far too risky, preposterous even. But there, within the safe confines of our Father’s care, any of us, no matter what we’ve done or failed to do, can be fully known and loved.

    By Jeff Olson
    Reflect & Pray

    How is it comforting to know that God sees you and yet still longs for you to come to Him? How is that knowledge freeing?

    The One who fully knows us unconditionally loves us.
    Genesis 3:1-10

    1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

    2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

    3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

    4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

    5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

    6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

    7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

    8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

    9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

    10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 23,20219

    The Lord Rejoices

    [God] will rejoice over you with singing.
    Zephaniah 3:17

    My grandmother recently sent me a folder full of old photographs, and as I thumbed through them, one caught my eye. In it, I’m two years old, and I’m sitting on one end of a hearth in front of a fireplace. On the other end, my dad has his arm around my mom’s shoulders. Both are gazing at me with expressions of love and delight.

    I pinned this photo to my dresser, where I see it every morning. It’s a wonderful reminder of their love for me. The truth is, though, that even the love of good parents is imperfect. I saved this photo because it reminds me that although human love may fail sometimes, God’s love never fails—and according to Scripture, God looks at me the way my parents are looking at me in this picture.

    The prophet Zephaniah described this love in a way that astounds me. He describes God as rejoicing over His people with singing. God’s people had not earned this love. They had failed to obey Him or to treat each other with compassion. But Zephaniah promised that in the end, God’s love would prevail over their failures. God would take away their punishment (Zephaniah 3:15), and He would rejoice over them (v. 17). He would gather His people into His arms, bring them home, and restore them (v. 20).

    That’s a love worth reflecting on every morning.

    By Amy Peterson
    Reflect & Pray

    How does it make you feel that God rejoices over you with singing? How have you experienced His love?

    God, thank You for Your forgiveness and faithful love for us.
    Zephaniah 3:14-20

    14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

    15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

    16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.

    17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

    18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.

    19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.

    20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 26,2019

    Playing with Joy

    The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy.
    Galatians 5:22

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

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

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

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

    By David H. Roper
    Reflect & Pray

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

    I turn my eyes to You, God. I’m grateful I can count on Your faithfulness to me. Please bring me into Your joy.
    Galatians 5:22-26

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

    23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

    25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

    26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 25, 2019

    Vanity on Fire

    Create in me a pure heart, O God.
    Psalm 51:10

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

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

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

    By Remi Oyedele
    Reflect & Pray

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

    Holy God, please give me the grace to surrender my heart to You and yield my life’s vanities to the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit.
    Matthew 5:21-30

    21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

    24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

    25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

    26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

    27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

    28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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