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Our Daily Bread Devotional

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Daily Dependence

One morning our younger kids decided to get up early and fix breakfast for themselves. Tired from a grueling week, my wife and I were trying to sleep until at least 7:00 a.m. on that Saturday morning. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash! I jumped out of bed and raced downstairs to find a shattered bowl, oatmeal all over the floor, and Jonas—our five-year-old—desperately trying to sweep (more like smear) the gooey mess off the floor. My children were hungry, but they chose not to ask for help. Instead of reaching out in dependence, they chose independence, and the result was definitely not a culinary delight.

In human terms, children are meant to grow from dependence to independence. But in our relationship with God, maturity means moving from independence to dependence on Him. Prayer is where we practice such dependent ways. When Jesus taught His disciples—and all of us who have come to believe in Him—to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), He was teaching a prayer of dependence. Bread is a metaphor for sustenance, deliverance, and guidance (vv. 10, 13). We’re dependent on God for all of that and more.

There are no self-made believers in Jesus, and we’ll never graduate from His grace. Throughout our lives, may we always begin our day by taking the posture of dependence as we pray to “our Father in heaven” (v. 9).

By |2022-12-05T01:33:12-05:00December 5th, 2022|

A Labor of Love

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree. Yet during her lifetime, she recalls being “ignored, slighted and rendered insignificant.” Even amid adversity, however, she remained devoted to healing and fulfilling her purpose. Crumpler boldly affirmed that although some people might choose to judge her based on her race and gender, she’d always have a “renewed and courageous readiness to do when and wherever duty calls,” and that she did. Not only was she a servant in her field, but she also believed that treating women and children and providing medical attention for freed slaves was a way to serve God. Sadly, she didn’t receive formal recognition for her accomplishments until nearly a century later. 

There are times in life when we’ll be overlooked, devalued, or unappreciated by those around us. Biblical wisdom reminds us, however, that when God has called us to a task, we shouldn’t focus on gaining worldly approval and recognition but should instead “work at it with all [our] heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). When we focus on serving God while carrying out our day-to-day activities, we’re able to accomplish even the most difficult tasks with fervor and gladness in His power and leading. We can then become less concerned with receiving earthly recognition and awards and become more eager to receive the reward only He can provide (v. 24).

By |2022-12-04T01:33:21-05:00December 4th, 2022|

Christmas Light

To my eyes, the Christmas tree looked to be ablaze in fire! Not because of artificial strings of lights but from real fire. Our family was invited to a friend’s “altdeutsche tradition”—the old German way—celebration, featuring delicious traditional desserts and a tree with real, lit candles. (For safety, the freshly cut tree was lit one night only.)

As I watched the tree appear to burn, I thought of Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush. While tending sheep in the wilderness, Moses was surprised by a flaming bush that was somehow not consumed by the flames. As Moses approached the bush to investigate, God called to him. The message from the burning bush was not one of judgment but of rescue for the people of Israel. God had seen the plight of His people who were enslaved in Egypt and had “come down to rescue them” (Exodus 3:8).

While God rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians, all of humanity still needed rescue—not just from physical suffering, but also from the effects that evil and death brought into our world. Hundreds of years later, God responded by sending down Light, His son Jesus, (John 1:9-10), sent not “to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).

By |2022-12-03T01:33:19-05:00December 3rd, 2022|

Who You Are

In 2011, after a decade of childlessness, my wife and I chose to start afresh in a new country. Exciting as the move was, it required my leaving a broadcast career, which I missed. Feeling lost, I asked my friend Liam for advice.

“I don’t know what my calling is anymore,” I told Liam dejectedly.

“You’re not broadcasting here?” he asked. I said I wasn’t.

“And how is your marriage?”

Surprised at his change of topic, I told Liam that Merryn and I were doing well. We’d faced heartbreak together but emerged closer through the ordeal.

“Commitment is the core of the gospel,” he said, smiling. “Oh, how the world needs to see committed marriages like yours! You may not realize the impact you’re having already, beyond what you do, simply by being who you are.”

When a difficult work situation left Timothy dejected, the apostle Paul didn’t give him career goals. Instead, he encouraged Timothy to live a godly life, setting an example through his speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (4:12–13, 15). He would best impact others by living faithfully.

It’s easy to value our lives based on our career success when what matters most is our character. I had forgotten that. But a word of truth, a gracious act, even a committed marriage can bring great change—because through them something of God’s own goodness touches the world.

By |2022-12-02T01:33:11-05:00December 2nd, 2022|

Mutual Encouragement

After another week of being beaten down by more medical setbacks, I slumped onto the sofa. I didn’t want to think about anything. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I couldn’t even pray. Discouragement and doubt weighed me down as I turned on the television. I began watching a commercial showing a little girl talking to her younger brother. “You’re a champion,” she said. As she continued affirming him, his grin grew. So did mine.

God’s people have always struggled with discouragement and doubt. Quoting Psalm 95, which affirms that God’s voice can be heard through the Holy Spirit, the writer of Hebrews warned believers in Jesus to avoid the mistakes made by the Israelites while wandering in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:7–11). “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God,” he wrote. “But encourage each other daily” (vv. 12–13).

With our lifeline of hope secured in Christ, we can experience the power-packed fuel we need to persevere: mutual encouragement within the fellowship of believers (v. 13). When one believer doubts, other believers can offer affirmation and accountability. As God strengthens us, His people, we can offer the power of mutual encouragement to one another.

By |2022-12-01T01:33:21-05:00December 1st, 2022|

Warning Sounds

Ever had a close encounter with a rattlesnake? If so, you might have noticed that the sound of the rattle seemed to get more intense as you moved nearer to the viper. Research reported in 2021 in Current Biology reveals that the venomous reptiles do increase their rattling rate when they think a threat is approaching. This “high-frequency mode” can cause us to think they’re closer than they are. As one researcher put it, “The misinterpretation of distance by the listener . . . creates a distance safety margin.”

People can sometimes use increasing volume with harsh words that push others away during a conflict—exhibiting anger and resorting to shouting. The writer of Proverbs shares some wise advice for times like these: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). He goes on to say that “soothing” and “wise” words can be “a tree of life” and a source of “knowledge” (vv. 4, 7).

Jesus provided the ultimate reasons for gently appealing to those with whom we enter into conflict: extending love that reveals us to be His children (Matthew 5:43–45) and seeking reconciliation—“[winning] them over” (18:15). Instead of raising our voice or using unkind words during conflicts, may we show civility, wisdom, and love to others as God guides us by His Spirit.

By |2022-11-30T03:00:00-05:00November 30th, 2022|

A Hot Meal

Barbecue chicken, green beans, spaghetti, rolls. On a cool day in October, at least fifty-four homeless people received this hot meal from a woman celebrating fifty-four years of life. The woman and her friends decided to forgo her usual birthday dinner in a restaurant, choosing instead to cook and serve meals to people on the streets of Chicago. On social media, she encouraged others to also perform a random act of kindness as a birthday gift.

This story reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40). He said these words after declaring that His sheep will be invited into His eternal kingdom to receive their inheritance (v. 33). At that time, Jesus will acknowledge that they’re the people who fed and clothed Him because of their genuine faith in Him (unlike the proud religious people who did not believe in Him; see 26:3–5). Although the “righteous” will question when they fed and clothed Jesus (v. 37), He will assure them that what they did for others was also done for Him (v. 40).

Feeding the hungry is just one way God helps us care for His people—showing our love for Him and relationship with Him. May He help us meet others’ needs today.

By |2022-11-29T01:33:14-05:00November 29th, 2022|

Walk with Me

A few years ago a popular song hit the charts, with a gospel choir singing the chorus, “Jesus walks with me.” Behind the lyrics lies a powerful story.

The choir was started by jazz musician Curtis Lundy when he entered a treatment program for cocaine addiction. Drawing fellow addicts together and finding inspiration in an old hymnal, he wrote that chorus as a hymn of hope for those in rehab. “We were singing for our lives,” one choir member says of the song. “We were asking Jesus to save us, to help us get out of the drugs.” Another found that her chronic pain subsided when she sang the song. That choir wasn’t just singing words on a sheet, but offering desperate prayers for redemption.

Today’s Scripture reading describes their experience well. In Christ, our God has appeared to offer salvation to all (Titus 2:11). While eternal life is part of this gift (v. 13), God is working on us now, empowering us to regain self-control, say no to worldly passions, and redeem us for life with Him (vv. 12, 14). As the choir members found, Jesus doesn’t just forgive our sins—He frees us from destructive lifestyles.

Jesus walks with me. And you. And anyone who cries out to Him for help. He’s with us, offering hope for the future and salvation now.

By |2022-11-28T01:33:14-05:00November 28th, 2022|

So Beautiful

I was very young when I peered through a hospital nursery window and saw a newborn for the first time. In my ignorance, I was dismayed to see a tiny, wrinkly child with a hairless, cone-shaped head. The baby’s mother standing near us, however, couldn’t stop asking everyone, “Isn’t he gorgeous?” I was reminded of that moment when I saw a video of a young dad tenderly singing the song, “You Are So Beautiful” to his baby girl. To her enraptured daddy—the little girl was the most beautiful thing ever created.

Is that how God looks at us? Ephesians 2:10 says that we’re His “handiwork”—His masterpiece. Aware of our own failings, it may be hard for us to accept how much He loves us or to believe that we could ever be of value to Him. But God doesn’t love us because we deserve love (vv. 3-4); He loves us because He is love (1 John 4:8). His love is one of grace and He showed the depth of it when, through Jesus’ sacrifice, He made us alive in Him when we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:5, 8).

God’s love isn’t fickle—it’s constant. He loves the imperfect, the broken, those who are weak and those who mess up. When we fall, He’s there to lift us up. We’re His treasure, and we’re so beautiful to Him.

By |2022-11-27T01:33:05-05:00November 27th, 2022|

Blessed Repentance

“BROKE” was the street name Grady answered to and those five letters were proudly emblazoned on his license plates. Though not intended in a spiritual sense, the moniker fit the middle-aged gambler, adulterer, and deceiver. He was broken, bankrupt, and far from God. However, all that changed one evening when he was convicted by God’s Spirit in a hotel room. He told his wife, “I think I’m getting saved!” That evening he confessed sins he thought he’d take with him to the grave and came to Jesus for forgiveness. For the next thirty years, the man who didn’t think he’d live to see forty lived and served God as a changed believer in Jesus. His license plates changed too—from “BROKE” to “REPENT.”

Repent. That’s what Grady did and that’s what God called Israel to do in Hosea 14:1–2. “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. . . . Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously.’ ” Big or small, few or many, our sins separate us from God. But the gap can be closed by turning from sin to God and receiving the forgiveness He’s graciously provided through the death of Jesus. Whether you’re a struggling believer in Christ or one whose life looks like Grady’s did, your forgiveness is only a prayer away.

By |2022-11-26T01:33:15-05:00November 26th, 2022|
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