Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread

Daily Devotionals

Whenever she was unable to take my phone call, I’d hear my friend’s voicemail recording inviting me to leave her a message. The recording cheerfully concluded, “Make it a great day!” As I reflected on her words, I realized that while it’s not within our power to make every day “great”—some circumstances truly are devastating—a closer look might reveal something redeeming and beautiful in my day, whether things are going well or poorly.

Habakkuk wasn’t experiencing easy circumstances. As a prophet, God had shown him coming days when none of the crops or livestock—on which God’s people depended—would be fruitful (v. 17). It would take more than mere optimism to endure the coming hardships. As a people group, Israel would be in extreme poverty. Habakkuk experienced heart-pounding, lip-quivering, leg-trembling fear (v. 16).

Yet despite that, Habakkuk said he would “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful” (v. 18). He proclaimed His hope in the God who provides the strength to walk in difficult places (v. 19).

Sometimes we go through seasons of deep pain and hardship. But no matter what we’ve lost, or wanted but never had, we can, like Habakkuk, rejoice in our relationship with a loving God. Even when it feels like we have nothing else, He will never fail or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). He, the One who “provide[s] for those who grieve,” is our ultimate reason for joy (Isaiah 61:3).

Author: Kirsten Holmberg
Posted: March 18, 2019, 12:00 am

While most German church leaders gave in to Hitler, theologian and pastor Martin Niemöller was among the brave souls who resisted Nazi evil. I read a story describing how in the 1970s a group of older Germans stood outside a large hotel while what appeared to be a younger man bustled about with the group’s luggage. Someone asked who the group was. “German pastors,” came the answer. “And the younger man?” “That’s Martin Niemöller—he’s eighty. But he has stayed young because he is unafraid.”

Niemöller wasn’t able to resist fear because he possessed some super-human anti-fear gene, but because of God’s grace. In fact, he once held anti-Semitic views. But in the end, he repented and God restored him and helped him to speak and live out the truth.

Moses encouraged the Israelites to resist fear and follow God in truth. When they’d become fearful after learning Moses would soon be taken from them, the leader had an unflinching word for them: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified . . . for the LORD your God goes with you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). There was no reason to tremble before an uncertain future because of one reason: God was with them.

Whatever darkness looms for you, whatever terrors bombard you—God is with you. By God’s mercy, may you face your fears with the knowledge that God “will never leave you nor forsake you” (v. 6).

Author: Winn Collier
Posted: March 17, 2019, 12:00 am

On the verge of making team history, University of Iowa basketball star Jordan Bohannon intentionally missed the free throw that would have broken a twenty-five-year-old school record. Why? In 1993, days after Iowa’s Chris Street had made thirty-four free throws in a row, he lost his life in a car crash. Bohannon chose to honor Street’s memory by not breaking his record.

Bohannon showed a keen awareness of things more important than his own advancement. We see similar values in the life of the young warrior David. Hiding in a cave with his ragtag army, David longed for a drink from the well in his hometown of Bethlehem, but the dreaded Philistines occupied the area (2 Samuel 23:14–15).

In a stunning act of valor, three of David’s warriors “broke through the Philistine lines,” got the water, and brought it to David. But David couldn’t bring himself to drink it. Instead, he “poured it out before the Lord,” saying, “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” (vv. 16–17).

In a world that often rewards those who seize whatever they can grasp, how powerful acts of love and sacrifice can be! Such deeds are much more than mere symbols.

Author: Tim Gustafson
Posted: March 16, 2019, 12:00 am

Working in the corporate world allowed me to interact with many talented and levelheaded people. However, one project led by an out-of-town supervisor was an exception. Regardless of our team’s progress, this manager harshly criticized our work and demanded more effort during each weekly status phone call. These run-ins left me discouraged and fearful. At times, I wanted to quit.

It’s possible that Moses felt like quitting when he encountered Pharaoh during the plague of darkness. God had hurled eight other epic disasters at Egypt, and Pharaoh finally exploded, “[Moses,] get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again. The day you see my face you will die” (Exodus 10:28).

Despite this threat, Moses eventually was used by God to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s control. “[By faith] Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 nlt). Moses overcame Pharaoh by believing that God would keep his promise of deliverance (Exodus 3:17).

Today, we can rely on the promise that God is with us in every situation, supporting us through His Holy Spirit. He helps us resist the pressure of intimidation and wrong responses to it by granting us supernatural power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). The Spirit provides the courage we need to keep right on going and follow God’s leading in our lives.

 

Author: Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Posted: March 15, 2019, 12:00 am

In a TV program, adults posed as high school students to better understand the lives of young people. They discovered that social media plays a central role in how students measured their self-worth. One participant observed, "[The students’] self-value is attached to social media—it's dependent on how many ‘likes’ they get on a photo.” This need for being accepted by others can drive young people to extreme behavior online.

Our longing for being accepted by others can be seen throughout the ages. In Genesis 29, Leah understandbly yearns for the love of her husband Jacob. It’s reflected in the name of her first three sons—all capturing her loneliness (vv. 31–34). But, sadly, there’s no indication that Jacob ever gave her the acceptance she craved.

With the birth of her fourth child, Leah turned to God instead of her husband, naming her fourth son Judah, which means, “This time I will praise the Lord” (v. 35). And Judah was an ancestor of King David and, later, Jesus. Forever a part of God’s salvation story, Leah it seems now chose to find her significance in God.

We can try to find our significance in many ways and things, but only in Jesus do we find our identity as children of God, co-heirs with Christ, and those who will dwell eternally with our heavenly Father. As Paul reminds us, nothing in this world can ever compare with the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

Author: Peter Chin
Posted: March 14, 2019, 12:00 am

Keith Wasserman has chosen to be homeless for a few days every year since 1989 in order to grow in love and compassion. “I go to live on the streets to expand my perspective and understanding” of people who have no homes to live in, says Keith, executive editor of Good Works.

I’m wondering whether Keith’s approach to become one with those he’s serving might be a small picture of what Jesus did for us. God Himself, the Creator of the universe, chose to confine Himself to the vulnerable state of a baby, to live as a human, to experience what we all experience, and to ultimately die at the hand of humans in order for humans to have a relationship with God.

The writer of the book of Hebrews stated that Jesus “shared in [our] humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (2:14). Jesus was made lower than the angels, even though He is their Creator (v. 9). He became human and died, even though He is immortal. And He suffered for us, even though He is the all-powerful God. Why would He do this? So that He could help us when we go through temptations and bring reconciliation between humans and God (vv. 17–18).

May we experience His love today, knowing He understands our humanity and has already provided the way for us to be cleansed from our sins.

 

Author: Estera Pirosca Escobar
Posted: March 13, 2019, 12:00 am

Are you kidding me? I was already late. But the road sign ahead instructed me to adjust my expectations: “Expect Delays," it announced. Traffic was slowing down.

I had to laugh: I expect things to work on my ideal timeline; I don’t expect road construction.

On a spiritual level, few of us plan for crises that slow us down or reroute our lives. Yet, if I’m paying attention, I can recall many times when circumstances redirected me—in big ways and small. Delays happen.

Solomon never saw a sign that said, “Expect Delays.” But in Proverbs 16, he does contrast our plans with God's providential guidance. The Message paraphrases verse one as follows: “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word.” Solomon restates that idea in verse nine, where he adds that even though we “plan our course . . . the Lord establishes [our] steps.” In other words, we have ideas about what's supposed to happen, but sometimes the Lord has another path for us.

How do I lose track of this spiritual truth? I make my plans, sometimes forgetting to ask God what His plans are. I get frustrated when interruptions interfere.

But in place of that fretting, we could, as Solomon teaches, grow in simply trusting that God guides us, step by step, as we seek prayerfully Him, await His leading, and—yes—allow Him to continually redirect us.

Author: Adam Holz
Posted: March 12, 2019, 12:00 am

When he invented the pencil eraser, British engineer Edward Nairne was reaching instead for a piece of bread. Crusts of bread were used then, in 1770, to erase marks on paper. Picking up a piece of latex rubber by mistake, Nairne found it erased his error, leaving rubberized “crumbs” easily swept away by hand.

With us too the worst errors of our lives can be swept away. It’s the Lord—the Bread of Life—who cleans them with His own life, promising never to remember our sins. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,” says Isaiah 43:25, “and remembers your sins no more.”

This can seem a remarkable fix—and not deserved. For many, it’s hard to believe our past sins can be swept away by God “like the morning mist.” Does God forget them so easily? Especially God who knows everything?

That’s exactly what God does when we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. Choosing to forgive our sins and to “[remember] them no more,” our heavenly Father frees us to move forward. No longer dragged down by past wrongs, we’re free of debris and cleaned up to serve, now and forever.

Yes, consequences may remain. But God sweeps sin itself away, inviting us to return to Him for our clean new life. There’s no better way to be swept away.

Author: Patricia Raybon
Posted: March 11, 2019, 12:00 am

On February 18, 1952, a massive storm split the SS Pendleton, a tanker ship, into two pieces about ten miles off the Massachusetts coast. More than forty sailors were trapped inside the ship's sinking stern in the midst of fierce winds and violent waves.

When word of the disaster reached the Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts, Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernie Webber took three men on a lifeboat to try to save the stranded crew against nearly impossible odds-and brought thirty-two of the seemingly doomed sailors to safety. Their courageous feat was deemed one of the greatest rescues in United States Coast Guard history and was the subject of the 2016 film The Finest Hours.

In Luke 19:10, Jesus declared His own rescue mission saying, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The cross and the resurrection became the ultimate expression of that recue, as Jesus took upon Himself our sins and restored to the Father all who trust Him. For 2,000 years, people have embraced His offer of abundant life now and eternal life with Him. Rescued!

As followers of Jesus we have the privilege, with the Holy Spirit's help, to join our Savior in the greatest rescue mission in all of human history. Do you know someone who needs His rescuing love?

Author: Bill Crowder
Posted: March 10, 2019, 12:00 am

When my friends lived in Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, they were overwhelmed by the welcome they received there, especially from other Christians. Once they took some clothes and provisions to a couple from their church who were very poor, yet who were fostering several children. The couple treated my friends like honored guests, giving them sweet tea and, despite their protests, something to eat. As my friends left with gifts of watermelons and other fruits and vegetables, they marveled at the hospitality they experienced.

These Christians embody the welcome that God commanded His people, the Israelites, to exhibit. He instructed them “to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12). How could the Israelites live out this command? The answer comes a few verses later: “You are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (v. 19). By welcoming strangers, they would be serving and honoring God; and in showing them love and care, they would demonstrate their trust in Him.

Our circumstances might differ from the Moldovans or the Israelites, but we too can live out our love for God through our welcome to others. Whether through opening our homes or smiling a greeting to those we meet, we can extend God’s care and hospitality in a lonely, hurting world.

Author: Amy Boucher Pye
Posted: March 9, 2019, 12:00 am

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