fbpx

Our Daily Bread Devotional

Home/Our Daily Bread Devotional/
Standard Print

The Coffee-Bean Bowl

I’m not a coffee drinker, but one sniff of coffee beans brings me a moment of both solace and wistfulness. When our teenage daughter Melissa was making her bedroom uniquely hers, she filled a bowl with coffee beans to permeate her room with a warm, pleasant scent.

It’s been nearly two decades since Melissa’s earthly life ended in a car accident at age seventeen, but we still have that coffee-bean bowl. It gives us a continual, aromatic remembrance of Mell’s life with us.

Scripture also uses fragrances as a reminder. Song of Songs refers to fragrances as a symbol of love between a man and a woman (see 1:3; 4:11, 16). In Hosea, God’s forgiveness of Israel is said to be “fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:6). And Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet (John 12:3), which caused the house of Mary and her siblings to be “filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3), pointed ahead to Jesus’ death (see v. 7).

The idea of fragrance can also help us be mindful of our testimony of faith to those around us. Paul explained it this way: “We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Just as the scent of coffee beans reminds me of Melissa, may our lives produce a scent of Jesus and His love that reminds others of their need of Him.

By |2022-09-29T02:35:03-04:00September 29th, 2022|

Out of the Heart

A rescue mission nicknamed “Operation Noah’s Ark” might sound fun for animal lovers, but it was a nightmare for the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After receiving complaints about the noise and the horrid stench coming from a certain house, workers entered the Long Island home and found and removed more than four hundred animals from the neglected conditions.

We may not be holding hundreds of animals in filthy conditions, but Jesus said we might be harboring evil and sinful thoughts and actions in our hearts that need to be exposed and removed. 

In teaching His disciples about what makes a person clean and unclean, Jesus said it isn’t dirty hands or “whatever enters the mouth” that defiles a person, but an evil heart (Matthew 15:17–19). The stench from our hearts would eventually leak out from their lives. Then Jesus gave examples of evil thoughts and actions that come “out of the heart” (v. 19). No amount of external religious activities and rituals can make them clean. We need God to transform our hearts.

We can practice Jesus’ inside-out ethic by giving Him access to the squalor of our hearts and letting Him remove what’s causing the stench. As Christ uncovers what’s coming from our hearts, He’ll help our words and actions be aligned with His desires, and the aroma from our lives will please Him.

By |2022-09-28T02:35:05-04:00September 28th, 2022|

God’s Help for Our Future

According to psychologist Meg Jay, our minds tend to think about our future selves similarly to how we think about complete strangers. Why? It’s probably due to what’s sometimes called the “empathy gap.” It can be hard to empathize and care for people we don’t know personally—even future versions of ourselves. So in her work, Jay tries to help young people imagine their future selves and take steps to care for them. This includes working out actionable plans for who they will one day be—paving the way for them to pursue their dreams and to continue to thrive.

In Psalm 90, we’re invited to see our lives, not just in the present, but as a whole—to ask God to help us “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (v. 12). Remembering that our time on earth is limited can remind us of our desperate need to rely on God. We need His help to learn how to find satisfaction and joy—not just now, but “all our days” (v. 14). We need His help to learn to think not just of ourselves, but of future generations (v. 16). And we need His help to serve Him with the time we’ve been given—as He establishes the work of our hands and hearts (v. 17).

By |2022-09-27T02:33:12-04:00September 27th, 2022|

The Miracle of Salvation

Blogger Kevin Lynn’s life seemed to be falling apart. In a recent article he recounted, “I actually put a gun to my head . . . . It took for God to supernaturally step into my room and my life. And at that moment, I really found what I know is God now.” God intervened in Lynn’s life, preventing him from taking his life. He filled him with conviction and gave him an overwhelming reminder of His loving presence. Instead of hiding this powerful encounter, Lynn shared his experience with the world, creating a YouTube ministry where he shares his own transformation story as well as the stories of others.

When Jesus’ follower and friend Lazarus died, many assumed that all was lost and that Jesus was too late (John 11:32). Lazarus had been in his tomb for four days before Jesus arrived, but He turned this moment of anguish into a miracle when He raised him from the dead (v. 38). “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you’ll see the glory of God?” He declared (v. 40).

Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life, He offers us new life through Him. By sacrificing His life on the cross, Christ paid the penalty for our sins and offers us forgiveness when we accept His gift of grace. We’re freed from the bondage of our sins, renewed by His everlasting love, and given the opportunity to change the course of our lives.

By |2022-09-26T02:35:06-04:00September 26th, 2022|

Choose Wisely

Astronaut Chris Ferguson made a difficult decision as the commander of the flight crew scheduled for a journey to the International Space Station. But that decision didn’t have anything to do with the mechanics of flight or the safety of his fellow astronauts. Instead, it pertained to what he considers his most important work: his family. Ferguson opted to keep his feet planted firmly on Earth in order to be present for his daughter’s wedding.

We all face difficult decisions at times—decisions that cause us to evaluate what matters most to us in life, because one option comes at the expense of the other. Jesus aimed to communicate this truth to His disciples and a crowd of onlookers regarding life’s most important decision—to follow Him. To be a disciple, He said, would require them to “deny themselves” in order to walk with Him (Mark 8:34). They might have been tempted to spare themselves the sacrifices required of following Christ and instead seek their own desires, but He reminded them it would come at the price of that which matters much more. 

We’re often tempted to pursue things that seem of great value, yet they distract us from following Jesus. Let’s ask God to guide us in the choices we face each day so we’ll choose wisely and honor Him.

By |2022-09-25T02:33:16-04:00September 25th, 2022|

The Power of a Name

Seeking to affirm some children who live on the streets in Mumbai, India, Ranjit created a song of their names. Coming up with a unique melody for each name, he taught them the tune, hoping to give them a positive memory related to what they’re called. For children who don’t regularly hear their name spoken in love, he bestowed on them a gift of respect.

Names are important in the Bible, often reflecting a person’s character traits or new role. For instance, God changed the names of Abram and Sarai when He made a covenant of love with them, promising that He would be their God and they would be His people. Abram, which means exalted father, became Abraham, which means father of many. And Sarai, which means princess, became Sarah, which means princess of many (see Genesis 17:5, 15).

God’s new names included the gracious promise that they would no longer be childless. When Sarah gave birth to their son, overjoyed, they named him Isaac, which means “he laughs”: “Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me’” (Genesis 21:6).

We show honor and respect to people when we call them by name and affirm who God has created them to be. A loving nickname that affirms someone’s unique qualities as one created in the image of God can do the same.

By |2022-09-24T02:35:04-04:00September 24th, 2022|

The Story Isn’t Over

When British drama Line of Duty concluded, record numbers watched to see how its fight against organized crime would end. But many viewers were left disappointed when the finale implied that evil would ultimately win. “I wanted the bad guys brought to justice,” one fan said. “We needed that moral ending.”

Sociologist Peter Berger once noted that we hunger for hope and justice—hope that evil will one day be overcome and that those who caused it will be made to face their crimes. A world where the bad guys win goes against how we know the world should work. Without probably realizing it, those disappointed fans were expressing humanity’s deep longing for the world to be made right again.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is realistic about evil. It exists not only between us, requiring forgiveness (Matthew 6:12–13), but on a grand scale, requiring deliverance (v. 13). This realism, however, is matched with hope. There’s a place where evil doesn’t exist—heaven—and that heavenly kingdom is coming to earth (v. 10). One day God’s justice will be complete, His “moral ending” will come, and evil will be banished for good (Revelation 21:4).

So when the real-life bad guys win and disappointment sets in, let’s remember this: until God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven,” there is always hope—because the story isn’t over.

By |2022-09-23T02:35:07-04:00September 23rd, 2022|

People Who Need People

In his hall-of-fame career as a sportswriter Dave Kindred covered hundreds of major sporting events and championships and wrote a biography of Muhammad Ali. Growing bored in retirement, he started attending girls’ basketball games at a local school. Soon he began writing stories about each game and posting them online. And when Dave’s mother and grandson died and his wife suffered a debilitating stroke, he realized the team he’d been covering provided him with a sense of community and purpose. He needed them as much as they needed him. Kindred said, “This team saved me. My life had turned dark . . . [and] they were light.”

How does a legendary journalist come to depend on a community of teenagers? The same way a legendary apostle leaned on the fellowship of those he met on his missionary journeys. Did you notice all the people Paul greeted as he closed his letter? (Romans 16:7–11). “Greet Andronicus and Junia,” he wrote, “my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me” (v. 7). “Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord” (v. 8). More than twenty-five people in all, most of whom are not mentioned in Scripture again. But Paul needed them.

Who’s in your community? The best place to begin is with your local church. Anyone there whose life has turned dark? As God leads, you can be a light that points them to Jesus. Someday they may return the favor.

By |2022-09-22T02:35:04-04:00September 22nd, 2022|

Living Water

The cut flowers came from Ecuador. By the time they arrived at my house, they were droopy and road weary. Instructions said revive them with a cool drink of refreshing water. Before that, however, the flower stems had to be trimmed one-half inch so they could drink the water more easily. But would they survive?

The next morning, I discovered my answer. The Ecuadorian bouquet was a glorious sight. Featuring flowers I’d never seen before, the floral display was stunning. Fresh water made all the difference—a reminder of what Jesus said about water and what it means to believers.

When Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water—implying He’d drink from what she fetched from the well—He changed her life. She was surprised by His request. Jews looked down on Samaritans. But Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Later, in the temple, He cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (7:37). Among those who believed in Him, “rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (vv. 38–39).

God’s refreshing Spirit revives us today when we’re life weary. He’s the Living Water, dwelling in our souls with holy refreshment. May we drink deep today.

By |2022-09-21T02:35:04-04:00September 21st, 2022|

Reckless Decisions

As a teen, I was driving way too fast trying to follow my friend to his home after a high school basketball practice. It was raining hard, and I was having a hard time keeping up with his car. Suddenly, my wipers cleared the watery windshield only to reveal my friend’s sedan stopped in front of me! I slammed on the brakes, slid off the street, and struck a large tree. My car was destroyed. Later I awoke in the comatose ward of a local hospital. While by God’s grace I survived, my reckless ways had proved to be very costly.

Moses made a reckless decision that cost him greatly. His poor choice, however, involved a lack of water—not too much of it (as in my case). The Israelites were without water in the Desert of Zin, and “the people gathered in opposition to Moses” (Numbers 20:2). God told the frazzled leader to speak to a rock and it would “pour out its water” (v. 8). Instead, he “struck the rock twice” (v. 11). God said, “Because you did not trust in me . . . , you will not [enter the promised land]” (v. 12).

When we make reckless decisions, we pay the consequences. “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Proverbs 19:2). May we prayerfully, carefully seek God’s wisdom and guidance in the choices and decisions we make today.

By |2022-09-20T02:33:04-04:00September 20th, 2022|
Go to Top