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Thread: Our Daily Bread

  1. #1821
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    July 6, 2019

    Starting Now

    Love each other deeply.
    1 Peter 4:8

    When my oldest sister’s biopsy revealed cancer in late February 2017, I remarked to friends, “I need to spend as much time with Carolyn as possible—starting now.” Some told me my feelings were an overreaction to the news. But she died within ten months. And even though I had spent hours with her, when we love someone there’s never enough time for our hearts to love enough.

    The apostle Peter called Jesus’s followers in the early church to “love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8). They were suffering under persecution and needed the love of their brothers and sisters in their Christian community more than ever. Because God had poured His own love into their hearts, they would then want to love others in return. Their love would be expressed through praying, offering gracious hospitality, and gentle and truthful conversation—all in the strength God provided (vv. 9–11). Through His grace, God had gifted them to sacrificially serve each other for His good purposes. So that “in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (v. 11). This is God’s powerful plan that accomplishes His will through us.

    We need others and they need us. Let’s use whatever time or resources we have received from God to love—starting now.

    By Anne Cetas
    Reflect & Pray

    How have others loved you well? What have you received from God that you might use to serve someone today?

    There is nothing small in the service of God. Francis de Sales
    1 Peter 4:7-11

    7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

    8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

    9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

    10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

    11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  2. #1822
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    July 4, 2019

    God Looms Larger

    You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.
    1 Samuel 17:45

    Giles Kelmanson, a South African game ranger, described the incredible scene: two honey badgers battling a pride of six lions. Although outnumbered, the honey badgers refused to back down from ferocious predators ten times their size. The lions thought the kill would be simple, but video footage shows the badgers walking away with something like a swagger.

    David and Goliath offer an even more improbable story. Young, inexperienced David confronted the fierce Philistine Goliath. Towering above his young combatant, Goliath possessed brute strength and unrivaled weaponry—bronze armor and a lethal, razor-edged javelin (1 Samuel 17:5–6). David, a fledgling shepherd, carried only a slingshot when he arrived at the battlefield with bread and cheeses for his brothers (vv. 17–18).

    Goliath challenged Israel to engage in battle, but no one was willing to fight. King Saul and “all the Israelites were . . . terrified” (v. 11). Imagine the shock when David stepped into the fray. What gave him the courage none of Israel’s hardened warriors possessed? For most, Goliath dominated their vision. David, however, saw God. “The Lord will deliver [Goliath] into my hands,” he insisted (v. 46). While everyone else believed Goliath controlled the story, he believed God loomed larger. And, with a single stone to the giant’s forehead, David’s faith proved true.

    We’re tempted to believe that “Goliath” (our troubles) directs the story. God is larger, however. He dominates the story of our lives.

    By Winn Collier
    Reflect & Pray

    What concerns threaten to overwhelm you these days? How does God’s reality, the fact that He’s larger, transform your perspective?
    1 Samuel 17:41-50

    41 And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.

    42 And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.

    43 And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

    44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

    45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

    46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

    47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands.

    48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

    49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

    50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  3. #1823
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    July 8, 2019

    Sovereign Intervention

    God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
    Exodus 2:25

    Barbara grew up under the care of the British government in the 1960s, but when she turned sixteen, she and her newborn son, Simon, became homeless. The state was no longer obligated to provide for her at that age. Barbara wrote to the Queen of England for help and received a response! The Queen compassionately arranged for Barbara to be given a house of her own.

    The Queen of England had the right resources to help Barbara, and her compassionate assistance can be seen as a small picture of God’s help. The King of heaven knows all of our needs and sovereignly works out His plans in our lives. As He does, however, He longs for us to come to Him—sharing our needs and other concerns—as part of our loving relationship with Him.

    The Israelites brought their need for deliverance to God. They were suffering under the burden of Egyptian slavery and cried out for help. He heard them and remembered His promise: “God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them” (Exodus 2:25). He instructed Moses to bring liberty to His people and declared that He would once again release them “into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (3:8).

    Our King loves it when we come to Him! He wisely provides what we need, not necessarily what we want. Let’s rest in His sovereign, loving provision.

    By Ruth O’Reilly-Smith
    Reflect & Pray

    Why is it important for us to bring our needs to God in prayer? How can you learn to rest in God’s provision—whatever that may be?

    Loving God, thank You that I can bring my needs to You. Help me to be content in whatever paths and provisions You choose.
    Exodus 3:1-9

    1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

    2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

    3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

    4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

    5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

    6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

    7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

    8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

    9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  4. #1824
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    July 9, 2019

    No More Running

    In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
    Jonah 2:2

    On July 18, 1983, a US Air Force captain disappeared from Albuquerque, New Mexico, without a trace. Thirty-five years later, authorities found him in California. The New York Times reports that, “depressed about his job,” he’d simply run away.

    Thirty-five years on the run! Half a lifetime spent looking over his shoulder! I have to imagine that anxiety and paranoia were this man’s constant companions.

    But I have to admit, I also know a bit about being “on the run.” No, I’ve never abruptly fled something in my life . . . physically. But at times I know there’s something God wants me to do, something I need to face or confess. I don’t want to do it. And so, in my own way, I run too.

    The prophet Jonah is infamous for literally running from God’s assignment to preach to the city of Nineveh (see Jonah 1:1–3). But, of course, he couldn’t outrun God. You’ve probably heard what happened (vv. 4,17): A storm. A fish. A swallowing. And, in the belly of the beast, a reckoning, in which Jonah faced what he’d done and cried to God for help (2:2).

    Jonah wasn’t a perfect prophet. But I take comfort in his remarkable story, because, even despite Jonah’s stubbornness, God never let go of him. The Lord still answered the man’s desperate prayer, graciously restoring His reluctant servant (v. 2)—just as He does with us.

    By Adam Holz
    Reflect & Pray

    What, if anything, have you tried to run away from in your life? How can you grow in bringing to God the pressures that overwhelm you?
    Jonah 2:1-10

    1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly,

    2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

    3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

    4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

    5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

    6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

    7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

    8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

    9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

    10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  5. #1825
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    July 10,2019

    Unseen Realities

    Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”
    2 Kings 6:17

    Stephen Cass, an editor at Discover magazine, was determined to investigate some of the invisible things that are part of his daily life. As he walked toward his office in New York City, he thought: “If I could see radio waves, the top of the Empire State Building [with its host of radio and TV antennas] would be lit like a kaleidoscopic flare, illuminating the entire city.” He realized he was surrounded by an invisible electromagnetic field of radio and TV signals, Wi-Fi, and more.

    Elisha’s servant learned about another kind of unseen reality one morning—the invisible spiritual world. He awoke to find himself and his master surrounded by the armies of Aram. As far as his eyes could see, there were soldiers mounted on powerful warhorses (2 Kings 6:15)! The servant was afraid, but Elisha was confident because he saw the army of angels that surrounded them. He said: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). Then he asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes so he too could see that the Lord had surrounded their enemy and He was in control (v. 17).

    Do you feel overpowered and helpless? Remember that God is in control and fights for you. He “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).

    By Poh Fang Chia
    Reflect & Pray

    How can you learn to trust God’s supernatural help? How would trusting Him more change the way you face difficulties?

    Fear not for God is with us and for us.
    2 Kings 6:8-17

    8 Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.

    9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

    10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

    11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?

    12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

    13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

    14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

    15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

    16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

    17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 11, 2019

    Football and Shepherds

    I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
    John 10:11

    An intriguing element of English football is the team anthem sung by the fans at the start of each match. These songs range from the fun (“Glad All Over”) to the whimsical (“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”) to the surprising. “Psalm 23,” for instance, is the anthem of the club from West Bromwich Albion. The words of that psalm appear on the façade inside the team’s stadium, declaring to everyone who comes to watch the “West Brom Baggies” the care of the good, great, and chief Shepherd.

    In Psalm 23, David made his timeless statement, “The Lord is my shepherd” (v. 1). Later, the gospel writer Matthew would tell us, “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). And in John 10, Jesus declared His love and concern for the human “sheep” of His generation. “I am the good shepherd,” He said. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11). Jesus’s compassion drove His interactions with the crowds, His responses to their needs, and, ultimately, His sacrifice on their (and our) behalf.

    “The Lord is my shepherd” is far more than an ancient lyric or a clever slogan. It’s the confident statement of what it means to be known and loved by our great God—and what it means to be rescued by His Son.

    By Bill Crowder
    Reflect & Pray

    In what ways have you seen God’s care for you? Who can you tell about Him today?

    What a gift our Shepherd is to us, Father! Help us to respond to His voice—and draw nearer to You.

    Read The Lord Is My Shepherd at discoveryseries.org/hp952.
    John 10:11-15

    11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

    12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

    13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

    14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

    15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 12, 2019

    Son Followers

    The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
    Luke 8:15

    Sunflowers sprout in a carefree manner all over the world. Pollinated by bees, the plants spring up on the sides of highways, under bird feeders, and across fields, meadows, and prairies. To produce a harvest, however, sunflowers need good soil. Well-drained, slightly acidic, nutrient-rich soil “with organic matter or composted,” says the Farmer’s Almanac, finally produces tasty sunflower seeds, pure oil, and also a livelihood for hard-working sunflower growers.

    We also need “good soil” for spiritual growth (Luke 8:15). As Jesus taught in His parable of the farmer scattering seed, God’s Word can sprout even in rocky or thorny soil (see vv. 6–7). It only thrives, however, in the soil of “honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (v. 15 nlt).

    Young sunflowers are just as patient in their growth. Following the sun’s movement throughout the day, they turn sunward daily in a process called heliotropism. Mature sunflowers are just as deliberate. They turn eastward permanently, warming the face of the flower and increasing visits from pollinator bees. This in turn produces a greater harvest.

    As with those who care for sunflowers, we can provide a rich medium for God’s Word to grow by clinging to His Word and following after His Son—developing honesty and a good heart for God’s Word to mature us. It’s a daily process. May we follow the Son and grow.

    By Patricia Raybon
    Reflect & Pray

    What’s the condition of your spiritual soil? Rocky, thorny, or rich in spiritual “nutrients”? Why? When you follow the Son daily, how does this practice impact your honesty and heart?
    Luke 8:11-15

    11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

    12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

    13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

    14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

    15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  8. #1828
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    July 13, 2019

    Beautiful to God

    What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
    Psalm 8:4

    When Denise began dating her boyfriend, she attempted to maintain a slim figure and dress stylishly, believing she would be more attractive to him in that way. After all, it was what all the women’s magazines advised. It was only much later that she discovered what he really thought: “I liked you just as much when you were heavier and didn’t worry about what you wore.”

    Denise realized then how subjective “beauty” was. Our view of beauty is so easily influenced by others. It’s often focused on the external, forgetting the value of inner beauty. But God sees us in only one way—as His beautiful, beloved children. I’d like to think that when God created the world, He left the best for last—us! Everything He created was good, but we’re extra special because we’re made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

    God considers us beautiful! No wonder the psalmist was filled with awe as he compared the greatness of nature with humans. “What is mankind,” he asked, “that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4). Yet God chose to give mortals a glory and honor that nothing else had (v. 5).

    This truth gives us an assurance and reason to praise Him (v. 9). No matter what others think of us—or what we think of ourselves—know this: We are beautiful to God.

    By Leslie Koh
    Reflect & Pray

    How do you see yourself? How do you think God sees you?

    Father, You know how insecure we can feel about ourselves. Thank You for the assurance that You love us!
    Psalms 8:4-9

    4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

    5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

    6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

    7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

    8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

    9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  9. #1829
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    July 14,2019

    In Living Color

    The one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby.
    Revelation 4:3

    When Xavier McCoury put on the glasses Aunt Celena sent for his tenth birthday, he burst into tears. Born colorblind, Xavier had only ever seen the world in shades of gray, white, and black. With his new EnChroma glasses, however, Xavier saw color for the first time. His euphoria at witnessing the beauty around him made his family feel like they’d beheld a miracle.

    Witnessing God’s colorfully radiant brilliance also evoked a powerful reaction in the apostle John (Revelation 1:17). After encountering the full glory of the resurrected Christ, John glimpsed “a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. . . . From the throne came flashes of lightning” (Revelation 4:2–5).

    In a different time, Ezekiel had a similar vision, seeing “what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli,” with a figure above the throne who “looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire” (Ezekiel 1:26–27). This magnificent figure was surrounded with rainbow-like radiance (v. 28).

    One day we will meet Christ face-to-face. These visions give us just a hint of the magnificence that awaits us. As we celebrate the beauty of God’s creation here and now, may we live in anticipation of the glory yet to be revealed.

    By Remi Oyedele
    Reflect & Pray

    What response does the color and beauty of creation evoke in you? How can you express your gratitude to God for His wonderful gift?

    Father, words fail us when we try to imagine what we will experience when we meet You face-to-face. Thank You for the small hints of Your beauty You have placed in our world.
    Revelations 4:1-6

    1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

    2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

    3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

    4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

    5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

    6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 15, 2019

    Out of the Trap

    I have learned the secret of being content.
    Philippians 4:12

    The Venus flytrap was first discovered in a small area of sandy wetlands not far from our home in North Carolina. These plants are fascinating to watch because they’re carnivorous.

    Venus flytraps release a sweet-smelling nectar into colorful traps that resemble open flowers. When an insect crawls inside, triggering sensors along the outer rim, the trap clamps shut in less than a second—capturing its victim. The trap then closes further and emits enzymes that consume its prey over time, giving the plant nutrients not provided by the sandy soil.

    God’s Word tells of another trap that can capture unexpectedly. The apostle Paul warned his protégé Timothy: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” And “some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9–10).

    Money and material things may promise happiness, but when they take first place in our lives, we walk on dangerous ground. We avoid this trap by living with thankful, humble hearts focused on God’s goodness to us through Jesus: “godliness with contentment is great gain” (v. 6).

    The temporary things of this world never satisfy like God can. True, lasting contentment is found only through our relationship with Him.

    By James Banks
    Reflect & Pray

    Which do you think more about—money or your relationship with God? How can you give Him the highest priority today?

    Loving Lord, You are the greatest blessing of my life! Help me to live contentedly with all that You are today.
    1 Timothy 6:6-10

    6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

    7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

    8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

    9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

    10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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