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Thread: Our Daily Bread

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    February 5, 2019

    Moves of the Heart

    Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.

    According to the US Census Bureau, Americans move from one address to another an average of eleven to twelve times during the course of a lifetime. In a recent year, 28 million people packed up, moved, and unpacked under a new roof.
    During Israel’s forty years in the wilderness, the cloud of God’s presence led a whole family nation to make one move after another in anticipation of a new homeland. The account is so repetitious, it reads almost like a comedy. Over and over the huge family packed and unpacked not only its own belongings but also the tent and furnishings of the tabernacle, where the God of the cloud met with Moses (see Exodus 25:22).
    Many years later, Jesus would give fuller meaning to the story of Israel’s moving days. Instead of leading from a cloud, He came in person. When He said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19), He began showing that the most important changes of address happen on roads of the heart. By leading both friends and enemies to the foot of a Roman cross, He showed how far the God of the cloud and tabernacle would go to rescue us.
    Like changes of address, such moves of the heart are unsettling. But someday, from a window in our Father’s house, we’ll see that Jesus led us all the way.

    By Mart DeHaan
    Today's Reflection

    In what ways does choosing to follow God unsettle you? How might prayer help to strengthen your faith and trust in Him?


    Numbers 9:15-23

    And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.16 So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
    17 And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.

    18 At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.

    19 And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not.

    20 And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed.

    21 And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
    22 Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.

    23 At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

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    February 6,2019

    Love Changes Us

    At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

    Before I met Jesus, I’d been wounded so deeply that I avoided close relationships in fear of being hurt more. My mom remained my closest friend, until I married Alan. Seven years later and on the verge of divorce, I toted our kindergartner, Xavier, into a church service. I sat near the exit door, afraid to trust but desperate for help.
    Thankfully, believers reached out, prayed for our family, and taught me how to nurture a relationship with God through prayer and Bible reading. Over time, the love of Christ and His followers changed me.
    Two years after that first church service, Alan, Xavier, and I asked to be baptized. Sometime later, during one of our weekly conversations, my mom said, “You’re different. Tell me more about Jesus.” A few months passed and she too accepted Christ as her Savior.
    Jesus transforms lives . . . lives like Saul’s, one of the most feared persecutors of the church until his encounter with Christ (Acts 9:1–5). Others helped Saul learn more about Jesus (vv. 17–19). His drastic transformation added to the credibility of his Spirit-empowered teaching (vv. 20–22).
    Our first personal encounter with Jesus may not be as dramatic as Saul’s. Our life transformation may not be as quick or drastic. Still, as people notice how Christ’s love is changing us over time, we’ll have opportunities to tell others what He did for us.

    By Xochitl Dixon
    Today's Reflection

    To learn more about growing in your faith, see this free course at christianuniversity.org/SF104.


    Acts 9:1-22

    And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

    3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
    4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
    5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
    6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
    7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
    8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
    9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
    10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
    11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

    12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
    13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
    14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
    15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
    16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
    17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightiest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

    18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
    19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
    20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
    21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

    22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

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    February 7,2019

    Good Works Prepared

    For we are . . . created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    When a burly stranger approached my wife and me on a street abroad, we shrunk back in fear. Our holiday had been going badly; we had been yelled at, cheated, and extorted from several times. Were we going to be shaken down again? To our surprise, the man just wanted to show us where to get the best view of his city. Then he gave us a chocolate bar, smiled, and left. That little gesture made our day—and saved the whole trip. It made us grateful—both to the man and to God for cheering us up.
    What had made the man reach out to two strangers? Had he gone around with a chocolate bar the entire day, looking to bless someone with it?
    It’s amazing how the smallest action can bring the biggest smile—and possibly direct someone to God. The Bible stresses the importance of doing good works (James 2:17, 24). If that sounds challenging, we have the assurance that God not only enables us to do these works, but has even “prepared [them] in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
    Perhaps God has arranged for us to “bump into” someone who needs a word of encouragement today or has given us an opportunity to offer someone a helping hand. All we have to do is respond in obedience.

    By Leslie Koh
    Today's Reflection

    Who can you pray for or help today? Who might God be putting in your path?


    Ephesians 2:6-10

    And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
    8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

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    February 8, 2019

    Love and Peace

    You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead. . . . You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

    It always amazes me the way peace—powerful, unexplainable peace (Philippians 4:7)—can somehow fill our hearts even in our deepest grief. I experienced this most recently at my father’s memorial service. As a long line of sympathetic acquaintances passed by offering their condolences, I was relieved to see a good high school friend. Without a word, he simply wrapped me in a long bear hug. His quiet understanding flooded me with the first feelings of peace within grief that difficult day, a powerful reminder that I wasn’t as alone as I felt.
    As David describes in Psalm 16, the kind of peace and joy God brings into our lives isn’t caused by a choice to stoically stomp down the pain during hard times; it’s more like a gift we can’t help but experience when we take refuge in our good God (vv. 1–2).
    We could respond to the aching pain that death brings by distracting ourselves, perhaps thinking that turning to these other “gods” will keep the pain at bay. But sooner or later we’ll find that efforts to avoid our pain only bring deeper pain (v. 4).
    Or we could turn to God, trusting that even when we don’t understand, the life He’s already given us—even in its pain—is still beautiful and good (vv. 6–8). And we can surrender to His loving arms that tenderly carry us through our pain into a peace and joy that even death can never quench (v. 11).

    By Monica Brands
    Today's Reflection

    Father, thank You for the way Your tender touch embraces and holds us in our times of joy and pain. Help us to turn in trust to You for healing.


    Psalms 16:1-11

    (Michtam of David.) Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.2 O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
    3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
    4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
    5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
    6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
    7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
    8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
    9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
    10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
    11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

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    February 9,2019

    Discovering My True Self

    We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

    Who am I? That’s the question a faded stuffed animal asks himself in the children’s book Nothing by Mick Inkpen. Left in a dusty corner of an attic, the animal hears movers call him “nothing” and thinks that’s his name: Nothing.
    Encounters with other animals spark memories. Nothing realizes that he used to have a tail, whiskers, and stripes. But it’s not until he meets a tabby cat who helps him find his way home that Nothing remembers who he truly is: a stuffed cat named Toby. His owner lovingly restores him, sewing on new ears, tail, whiskers, and stripes.
    Whenever I read this book, I think about my own identity. Who am I? John, writing to believers, said that God has called us His children (1 John 3:1). We don’t fully understand that identity, but when we see Jesus, we will be like him (v. 2). Just like Toby the cat, we will one day be restored to the identity intended for us, which has been marred by sin. For now, we can understand that identity in part, and we can recognize the image of God in each other. But one day, when we see Jesus, we will be fully restored to the identity God intended for us. We will be made new.

    By Amy Peterson
    Today's Reflection

    Where do I find my identity? According to Scripture, how does God view me?


    1 John 2:28-3:3

    And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

    Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

    2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

    3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
    Last edited by Old Ridge Runner; 02-09-2019 at 08:11 AM.

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    February 10, 2019

    Living with the Lights On

    Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

    A work assignment had taken my coworker and me on a 250-mile journey, and it was late when we began our trip home. An aging body with aging eyes makes me a bit uneasy about nighttime driving; nevertheless, I opted to drive first. My hands gripped the steering wheel and my eyes gazed intently at dimly lit roads. While driving I found I could see better when lights from vehicles behind me beamed on the highway ahead. I was much relieved when my friend eventually took the wheel of his vehicle. That’s when he discovered I had been driving with fog lights and not the headlights!
    Psalm 119 is the masterful composition of one who understood that God’s Word provides us with light for everyday living (v. 105). Yet, how often do we find ourselves in situations similar to my uncomfortable night on the highway? We needlessly strain to see, and we sometimes stray from the best paths because we forget to use the light of God’s Word. Psalm 119 encourages us to be intentional about “hitting the light switch.” What happens when we do? We find wisdom for purity (vv. 9–11); we discover fresh motivation and encouragement for avoiding detours (vv. 101–102). And when we live with the lights on, the psalmist’s praise is likely to become our praise: “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97).

    By Arthur Jackson
    Today's Reflection

    Father, please fill my heart with Your Word so I can have the light I need for today!


    Psalms 119:9-16

    BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
    11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
    12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
    13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
    14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
    15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
    16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

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    February 11,2019

    Giving Credit

    In the early 1960s, some unusual paintings featuring a person or animal with huge, sad eyes became popular. Some considered the work “kitschy”—or tacky—but others delighted in it. As the artist’s husband began to promote his wife’s creations, the couple grew quite prosperous. But the artist’s signature—Margaret Keane—didn’t appear on her work. Instead, Margaret’s husband presented his wife’s work as his own. Margaret fearfully remained silent about the fraud for twenty years until the couple’s marriage ended. It took a courtroom “paint-off” between them to prove the true artist’s identity.
    The man’s deception was clearly wrong, but even as followers of Jesus, we may find it easy to take credit for talents we possess, leadership skills we display, or even for our kind deeds to others. But those qualities are possible only because of God’s grace. In Jeremiah 9, we find the prophet lamenting the lack of humility and the unrepentant hearts of the people. He wrote that the Lord says we shouldn’t boast of our wisdom, our strength, or our riches, but only that we might understand and know that He is the Lord “who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth” (v. 24).
    Our hearts fill with gratitude as we realize the identity of the true Artist. “Every good and perfect gift is . . . from the Father” (James 1:17). All of the credit, all of the praise belongs to the Giver of good gifts.

    By Cindy Hess Kasper
    Today's Reflection

    Dear Father, thank You for all the good gifts You so graciously give.


    Jeremiah 9:23-26

    Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
    25 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
    26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.

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    February 12, 2019

    Seen by God

    She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

    My first pair of eyeglasses opened my eyes to a bold world. I’m nearsighted, meaning objects close up are sharp and defined. Without my glasses, however, items across a room or in the distance are a blur. At age twelve, with my first pair of eyeglasses, I was shocked to see clearer words on blackboards, tiny leaves on trees and, perhaps most important, big smiles on faces.
    As friends smiled back when I greeted them, I learned that to be seen was as great a gift as the blessing of seeing.
    The slave Hagar realized that as she fled from her mistress Sarai’s unkindness. Hagar was a “nobody” in her culture, pregnant and alone, fleeing to a desert without help or hope. Seen by God, however, she was empowered, in return, to see Him. No longer a vague concept, God became real to her, so real that she gave God a name, El Roi, which means “You are the God who sees me.” She said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
    Our seeing God sees each of us too. Feeling unseen, alone, or like a nobody? God sees you and your future. In return, may we see in Him our ever-present hope, encouragement, salvation, and joy—both for today and for our future. Praise Him today for this gift of amazing sight, to see the one true and Living God.

    By Patricia Raybon
    Today's Reflection

    Lord, I’m just one person in a big world, but I thank You for looking from on high and seeing me—so that I may see You.


    Genesis 16:7-14

    And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
    8
    And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

    9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
    10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
    11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
    12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
    13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?

    14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
    Last edited by Old Ridge Runner; 02-12-2019 at 05:42 AM.

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    February 13, 2019

    The Battle

    But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you

    As artillery rounds fell around him with an earth-shaking whoomp, the young soldier prayed fervently, “Lord, if you get me through this, I’ll go to that Bible school Mom wanted me to attend.” God honored his focused prayer. My dad survived World War II, went to Moody Bible Institute, and invested his life in ministry.
    Another warrior endured a different kind of crisis that drove him to God, but his problems arose when he avoided combat. As King David’s troops fought the Ammonites, David was back at his palace casting more than just a glance at another man’s wife (see 2 Samuel 11). In Psalm 39, David chronicles the painful process of restoration from the terrible sin that resulted. “The turmoil within me grew worse,” he wrote. “The more I thought about it, the hotter I got” (vv. 2–3 nlt).
    David’s broken spirit caused him to reflect: “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is” (v. 4). Amid his renewed focus, David didn’t despair. He had nowhere else to turn. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (v. 7). David would survive this personal battle and go on to serve God.
    What motivates our prayer life doesn’t matter as much as the focus of our prayer. God is our source of hope. He wants us to share our heart with Him.

    By Tim Gustafson
    Today's Reflection

    Father, our hope is in You. Forgive us for seeking answers apart from You. Draw us close to You today.


    Psalms 39:1-7

    (To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.) I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.
    2
    I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.
    3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,
    4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
    5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
    6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
    7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.
    Last edited by Old Ridge Runner; 02-13-2019 at 07:17 AM.

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    February 14, 2019

    Out of Context

    The turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

    As I queued up to board my flight, someone tapped my shoulder. I turned and received a warm greeting. “Elisa! Do you remember me? It’s Joan!” My mind flipped through various “Joans” I’d known, but I couldn’t place her. Was she a previous neighbor? A past coworker? Oh dear . . . I didn’t know.
    Sensing my struggle, Joan responded, “Elisa, we knew each other in high school.” A memory rose: Friday night football games, cheering from the stands. Once the context was clarified, I recognized Joan.
    After Jesus’s death, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning and found the stone rolled away and His body gone (John 20:1–2). She ran to get Peter and John, who returned with her to find the tomb empty (vv. 3–10). But Mary lingered outside in her grief (v. 11). When Jesus appeared there, “she did not realize that it was Jesus” (v. 14), thinking He was the gardener (v. 15).
    How could she have not recognized Jesus? Was His resurrected body so changed that it was difficult to recognize Him? Did her grief blind her to His identity? Or, perhaps, like me, was it because Jesus was “out of context,” alive in the garden instead of dead in the tomb, that she didn’t recognize Him?
    How might we too miss Jesus when He comes into our days—during prayer or Bible reading, or by simply whispering in our hearts?

    By Elisa Morgan
    Today's Reflection

    Dear God, give us eyes to see Jesus, however He comes—in a familiar context or surprising us in an unexpected one.


    John 20:13-16

    And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
    15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

    16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

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