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Thread: Our Daily Bread

  1. #1811
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    June 26, 2019

    Your Eulogy

    Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.
    Ecclesiastes 7:2

    My heart is full from attending the funeral of a faithful woman. Her life wasn’t spectacular. She wasn’t known widely outside her church, neighbors, and friends. But she loved Jesus, her seven children, and her twenty-five grandchildren. She laughed easily, served generously, and could hit a softball a long way.

    Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting” (7:2). “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning” because there we learn what matters most (7:4). New York Times columnist David Brooks says there are two kinds of virtues: those that look good on a résumé and those you want said at your funeral. Sometimes these overlap, though often they seem to compete. When in doubt, always choose the eulogy virtues.

    The woman in the casket didn’t have a résumé, but her children testified that “she rocked Proverbs 31” and its description of a godly woman. She inspired them to love Jesus and care for others. As Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1), so they challenged us to imitate their mother’s life as she imitated Jesus.

    What will be said at your funeral? What do you want said? It’s not too late to develop eulogy virtues. Rest in Jesus. His salvation frees us to live for what matters most.

    By Mike Wittmer
    Reflect & Pray

    Are you living out things that will affect your résumé or your eulogy? How would your life change if you lived each day with your eulogy in mind?

    Father, give me the courage to live for what matters most.
    Ecclesiastes 7:1-6

    1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

    2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

    3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

    4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

    5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

    6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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  3. #1812
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    June 27,2019

    Untying the Rope

    But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
    Genesis 33:4

    One Christian organization’s mission is to promote the healing nature of forgiveness. One of their activities involves a skit in which a person who has been wronged is strapped back to back with a rope to the wrongdoer. Only the one sinned against can untie the rope. No matter what she does, she’s got someone on her back. Without forgiveness—without untying the rope—she cannot escape.

    Offering forgiveness to someone who comes to us in sorrow for their wrongdoing begins the process of releasing us and them from the bitterness and pain that can cling to us over wrongs we’ve suffered. In Genesis, we see two brothers separated for twenty years after Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. After this long time, God told Jacob to return to his homeland (Genesis 31:3). He obeyed, but nervously, sending ahead to Esau gifts of herds of animals (32:13–15). When the brothers met, Jacob bowed at Esau’s feet seven times in humility (33:3). Imagine his surprise when Esau ran and embraced him, both of them weeping over their reconciliation (v. 4). No longer was Jacob held by the sin he committed against his brother.

    Do you feel imprisoned by unforgiveness, saddled with anger, fear, or shame? Know that God through His Son and Spirit can release you when you seek His help. He will enable you to begin the process of untying any ropes and setting you free.

    By Amy Boucher Pye
    Reflect & Pray

    How do you think Esau felt to see Jacob bowing before him? Could you similarly humble yourself before someone you’ve wronged? Who do you need to release through forgiveness?
    Genesis 33:1-11

    1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.

    2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.

    3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

    4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

    5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.

    6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.

    7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.

    8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.

    9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

    10 And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.

    11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 28,2019

    Divine Diversions

    They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
    Acts 16:7

    It can be difficult when we’re told “no” or “not now,” especially when we sense God has opened a door for us to serve others. Early in my ministry, two opportunities came my way where I thought my gifts and skills matched the churches’ needs, but both doors eventually closed. After these two disappointments, another position came along, and I was selected. With that ministry call came thirteen years of life-touching pastoral labors.

    Twice in Acts 16 Paul and company were redirected by God. First, they were “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia” (v. 6). Then, “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (v. 7). Unknown to them, God had other plans that would be right for His work and workers. His no to the previous plans put them in a position to listen to and be confidently led by Him (vv. 9–10).

    Who among us hasn’t grieved what we initially thought to be a painful loss? We’ve felt wounded when we didn’t get a certain job, when a service opportunity didn’t materialize, when a relocation got derailed. Though such things can momentarily be weighty, time often reveals that such detours are actually divine diversions that God graciously uses to get us where He wants us, and we are grateful.

    By Arthur Jackson
    Reflect & Pray

    What loss have you grieved only to be grateful that what you desired you didn’t get? How did the situation serve to bolster your trust in the Lord?

    Father, I praise You that in Your wisdom You know how to best arrange my life. Thank You for protecting me through Your detours.
    Act 16:6-10

    6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

    7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

    8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

    9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

    10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  5. #1814
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    June 29,2019

    When Sharks Won’t Bite

    One who is full loathes honey from the comb.
    Proverbs 27:7

    My children were thrilled, but I felt uneasy. During a vacation, we visited an aquarium where people could pet small sharks kept in a special tank. When I asked the attendant if the creatures ever snapped at fingers, she explained that the sharks had recently been fed and then given extra food. They wouldn’t bite because they weren’t hungry.

    What I learned about shark petting makes sense according to a proverb: “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet” (Proverbs 27:7). Hunger—that sense of inner emptiness—can weaken our discernment as we make decisions. It convinces us that it’s okay to settle for anything that fills us up, even if it causes us to take a bite out of someone.

    God wants more for us than a life lived at the mercy of our appetites. He wants us to be filled with Christ’s love so that everything we do flows from the peace and stability He provides. The constant awareness that we’re unconditionally loved gives us confidence. It enables us to be selective as we consider the “sweet” things in life—achievements, possessions, and relationships.

    Only a relationship with Jesus gives true satisfaction. May we grasp His incredible love for us so we can be “filled to the measure [with] all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) for our sake—and the sake of others.

    By Jennifer Benson Schuldt
    Reflect & Pray

    What are you most hungry for in life? Why does Jesus fulfill you in a way that nothing else can?

    Those who see Jesus as the Bread of Life will never be hungry.
    Proverbs 27:1-10

    1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

    2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

    3 A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.

    4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

    5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.

    6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

    7 The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

    8 As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.

    9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

    10 Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    June 30,2019

    Through a New Lens

    God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.
    Romans 1:20

    “It must be amazing to look at a tree and see the individual leaves instead of just a blur of green!” my dad said. I couldn’t have said it better. I was eighteen at the time and not a fan of my new need to wear glasses, but they changed the way I saw everything, making the blurry beautiful!

    When reading Scripture, I view certain books like I do when I look at trees without my glasses. There doesn’t seem to be much to see. But noticing details can reveal the beauty in what might seem to be a boring passage.

    This happened to me when I was reading Exodus. God’s directions for building the tabernacle—His temporary dwelling place among the Israelites*—can seem like a blur of boring details. But I paused at the end of chapter 25 where God gave directions for the lampstand. It was to be hammered out “of pure gold,” including its base and shaft and its flowerlike cups, buds, and blossoms (v. 31). The cups were to be “shaped like almond flowers” (v. 34).

    Almond trees are breathtaking. And God incorporated that same natural beauty into His tabernacle!

    Paul wrote, “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature” are seen and understood in creation (Romans 1:20). To see God’s beauty, sometimes we have to look at creation, and what might seem like uninteresting passages in the Bible, through a new lens.

    By Julie Schwab
    Reflect & Pray

    How can you look at Scripture in a new way to see God’s beauty in it? How has God’s beautiful creation drawn you closer to Him?
    Exodus 25:31-40

    31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.

    32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:

    33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.

    34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.

    35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.

    36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.

    37 And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.

    38 And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.

    39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.

    40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 1, 2019

    Are You Hungry Now?

    What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?
    James 2:14

    Thomas knew what he needed to do. Having been born to a poor family in India and adopted by Americans, upon a return trip to India he witnessed the dire needs of the children in his hometown. So he knew he had to help. He began making plans to return to the US, finish his education, save a lot of money, and come back in the future.

    Then, after reading James 2:14–18 in which James asks, “What good is it . . . if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” Thomas heard a little girl in his native country cry out to her mother: “But Mommy, I’m hungry now!” He was reminded of the times he had been intensely hungry as a child—searching through trash cans for food. Thomas knew he couldn’t wait years to help. He decided, “I’ll start now!”

    Today the orphanage he began houses fifty well-fed and cared-for children who are learning about Jesus and getting an education—all because one man didn’t put off what he knew God was asking him to do.

    James’s message applies to us as well. Our faith in Jesus Christ provides us with great advantages—a relationship with Him, an abundant life, and a future hope. But what good is it doing anyone else if we don’t reach out and help those in need? Can you hear the cry: “I’m hungry now”?

    By Dave Branon
    Reflect & Pray

    What needs around you touch your heart? What’s one thing you can do to help others—even if it seems insignificant?

    Direct my steps, O God, toward the actions You want me to take to help someone in need. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your work on earth.
    James 2:14-18

    14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 2, 2019

    How to Find Peace

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
    Colossians 3:15

    “What do you think about peace?” my friend asked as we ate lunch together. “Peace?” I said, puzzled. “I’m not sure—why do you ask?” He answered, “Well, as you jiggled your foot during the church service I wondered if you’re agitated about something. Have you considered the peace God gives to those who love Him?”

    That day some years ago, I was a bit hurt by my friend’s question, but it started me on a journey. I began exploring the Bible to see how God’s people embraced this gift of well-being, of peace, even in the midst of hardship. As I read Paul’s letter to the Colossians, I chewed over the apostle’s command to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts (Colossians 3:15).

    Paul was writing to a church he’d never visited but had heard about from his friend Epaphras. He was concerned that as they encountered false teaching, they were losing the peace of Christ. But instead of admonishing them, Paul encouraged them to trust Jesus, who would give them assurance and hope (v. 15).

    We all will encounter times when we can choose to embrace or refuse the rule of Christ’s peace in our hearts. As we turn to Him, asking Jesus to dwell in us, He will gently release us from the anxiety and cares that weigh us down. As we seek His peace, we trust that He will meet us with His love.

    By Amy Boucher Pye
    Reflect & Pray

    What situations or relationships weigh on your mind and heart? How can you ask Jesus to bring you His peace?

    Jesus, You give peace that passes all understanding. Help me embrace Your peace in every area of my life.
    Colossians 3:12-17

    12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

    13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

    14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

    15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

    16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 3, 2019

    Honest to God

    Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
    Psalm 32:5

    My three-year-old grandson’s day was off to a rotten start. He couldn’t find his favorite shirt. The shoes he wanted to wear were too hot. He fussed and fumed at his grandmother and then sat down to cry.

    “Why are you so upset?” I asked. We talked for a while and after he calmed down, I gently inquired, “Have you been good for Grandma?” He looked thoughtfully at his shoes and responded, “No, I was bad. I’m sorry.”

    My heart went out to him. Instead of denying what he had done, he was honest. In the following moments we asked Jesus to forgive us when we do wrong and to help us do better.

    In Isaiah 1, God confronts His people about wrongs they’d committed. Bribes and injustice were rampant in the courts, and orphans and widows were taken advantage of for material gain. Yet even then God responded mercifully, asking the people of Judah to confess what they’d done and turn from it: “Come now, let us settle the matter . . . . Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

    God longs for us to be open with Him about our sins. He meets honesty and repentance with loving forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Because our God is merciful, new beginnings await!

    By James Banks
    Reflect & Pray

    What sins have you not been honest with God about? What’s holding you back from confessing them to Him?

    Abba, Father, help me to turn away from the sin in my life and make a new beginning with You today.
    Isaiah 1:12-18

    12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

    13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

    14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

    15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

    16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

    17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

    18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 4, 2019

    Every Story

    Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
    Luke 24:27

    I opened the whimsically illustrated children’s Bible and began to read to my grandson. Immediately we were enthralled as the story of God’s love and provision unfurled in prose. Marking our place, I turned the book over and read the title once again: The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.

    Every story whispers His name.

    To be honest, sometimes the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is hard to understand. Why do those who don’t know God seem to triumph over God’s own? How can God permit such cruelty when we know that His character is pure and that His purposes are for our good?

    After His resurrection, Jesus met two followers on the road to Emmaus who didn’t recognize Him and were struggling with disappointment over the death of their hoped-for Messiah (Luke 24:19–24). They had “hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (v. 21). Luke then records how Jesus reassured them: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (v. 27).

    Every story whispers His name, even the hard stories, because they reveal the comprehensive brokenness of our world and our need for a Rescuer. Every act, every event, every intervention points to the redemption God designed for His wayward loved ones: to bring us back to Himself.

    By Elisa Morgan
    Reflect & Pray

    How is God’s rescue at work in your life? What stories trouble you today? In what ways (however small) can you see God at work in them?

    Dear God, help me listen as You whisper Your name through the stories of Scripture. Every story.
    Luke 24:17-27

    17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

    18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

    19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

    20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

    21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

    22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

    23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

    24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

    25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

    26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

    27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 5, 2019

    Practicing What We Preach

    Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
    1 John 2:9

    Pastor and writer Eugene Peterson had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Swiss physician and highly respected pastoral counselor Paul Tournier. Peterson had read the doctor’s works, and admired his approach to healing. The lecture left a deep impression on Peterson. As he listened, he had the feeling that Tournier lived what he spoke and spoke what he lived. Peterson chose this word to describe his experience: “Congruence. It is the best word I can come up with.”

    Congruence—it’s what some refer to as “practicing what you preach” or “walking your talk.” The apostle John stresses that if any of us “claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister,” then we’re “still in the darkness” (1 John 2:9). In essence, our lives and our words simply don’t match up. John goes further to say such people “do not know where they are going” (v. 11). The word he chose to describe how incongruence leaves us? Blind.

    Living closely aligned to God by allowing the light of His Word to illuminate our paths keeps us from living blind. The result is a godly vision that gives clarity and focus to our days—our words and actions match up. When others observe this, the impression is not necessarily that of someone who knows everywhere they’re going, but of someone who clearly knows who they’re following.

    By John Blase
    Reflect & Pray

    In what ways does the word congruence describe you? How can you grow to live a more consistent life?

    Jesus, I want my words and actions to match up. There are times I fall short, but my desire is to grow more consistent each day. Help me, please, so that everyone listening and watching my life will be drawn to You.
    1 John 2: 7-11

    7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

    8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

    9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

    10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

    11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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