fbpx

Our Daily Bread Devotional

Home/Our Daily Bread Devotional/
Large Print

Thankful for Monday

I used to dread Mondays. Sometimes, when I got off the train to head to a previous job, I'd sit at the station for a while, trying to delay reaching the building, if only for a few minutes. My heart would beat fast as I worried over meeting the deadlines and managing the moods of a temperamental boss.

For some of us, it can be especially difficult to start another dreary workweek. We may be feeling overwhelmed or underappreciated in our job. King Solomon described the toil of work when he wrote: “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain” (Ecclesiastes 2:22–23).

While the wise king didn’t give us a panacea for making work less stressful or more rewarding, he did offer us a change in perspective. No matter how difficult our work is, he encourages us to “find satisfaction” in it with God’s help (v. 24). Perhaps it will come as the Holy Spirit enables us to display Christlike character. Or as we hear from someone who’s been blessed through our service. Or as we remember the wisdom God provided to deal with a difficult situation. Though our work may be difficult, our faithful God is there with us. His presence and power can light up even gloomy days. With His help, we can be thankful for Monday.

By |2022-11-07T01:33:18-05:00November 7th, 2022|

Hope from Gehenna

In 1979, archaeologist Gabriel Barkay unearthed two small silver scrolls. It took years to delicately unroll the metal scrolls, and each was found to contain a Hebrew etching of the blessing from Numbers 6:24–26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Scholars date the scrolls to the seventh century BC. They’re the oldest known bits of Scripture in the world.

Equally interesting is where they were found. Barkay was digging in a cave in the Valley of Hinnom, where Jeremiah told Judah that God would slaughter them in this same valley for sacrificing their children (19:4–6). This valley was the site of such wickedness that Jesus used the word Gehenna” (a Greek transliteration of the “Valley of Hinnom”) as a picture of hell (Matthew 23:33).

On this spot, about the time Jeremiah was announcing God’s judgment on his nation, someone was etching His future blessing onto silver scrolls. It wouldn’t happen in their lifetime, but one day—on the other side of the Babylonian invasion—God would turn His face toward His people and give them peace.

The lesson for us is clear. Even if we deserve what we have coming, we can cling to God’s promise. His heart always yearns for His people.

By |2022-11-06T01:33:05-04:00November 6th, 2022|

Running the Race

The careers of most National Football League players are remarkably brief: just 3.3 years on average, according to statista.com. Then there’s Tampa Bay Buccaneer and former New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady. In 2021, he began his twenty-second season at the age of forty-four. How? Perhaps his famously rigorous diet and exercise routine have enabled him to maintain his competitive edge. Brady’s seven Super Bowl rings have earned him the title of G.O.A.T.—greatest of all time in the NFL. But it’s a title he never could have achieved apart from letting his single-minded pursuit of football perfection shape everything in his life.

The apostle Paul recognized athletes exhibiting similar discipline in his day (1 Corinthians 9:24). But he also saw that no matter how much they trained, ultimately their glory faded. In contrast, he said, we have an opportunity to live for Jesus in a way that affects eternity. If athletes striving for momentary glory can work so hard at it, Paul implies, how much more should those living for “a crown that will last forever” (v. 25).

We don’t train to earn salvation. Rather, just the opposite: As we realize how truly wondrous our salvation is, it reshapes our priorities, our perspective and the very things we live for as each of us faithfully runs our own race of faith in God’s strength.

By |2022-11-05T02:33:03-04:00November 5th, 2022|

God Redeems Our Pain

Olive watched her friend loading her dental equipment into his car. A fellow dentist, he’d bought the brand-new supplies from her. Having her own practice had been Olive’s dream for years, but when her son Kyle was born with cerebral palsy, she realized she had to stop working to care for him.

“If I had a million lifetimes, I’d make the same choice,” my friend told me. “But giving up dentistry was difficult. It was the death of a dream.”

We often go through difficulties we can’t understand. For Olive, it was the heartache of her child’s unexpected medical condition and relinquishing her own ambitions. For Naomi, it was the heartache of losing her entire family. In Ruth 1:21 she laments, “The Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”  

But there was more to Naomi’s story than what she could see. God didn’t abandon her; He brought restoration by providing her with a grandson, Obed (Ruth 4:14). Obed would not only carry on the name of Naomi’s husband and son, but through him, she would be a relative of an ancestor of Jesus Himself (Boaz) (Matthew 1:5, 16).

God redeemed Naomi’s pain. He also redeemed Olive’s pain by helping her begin a ministry for children with neurological conditions. We may experience seasons of heartache, but we can trust that as we obey God’s leading, He can redeem our pain. In His love and wisdom, He can make good come out of it.  

By |2022-11-04T02:33:16-04:00November 4th, 2022|

Hearing Christ, Not Chaos

After watching cable news for hours each day, the elderly man grew agitated and anxious—worried the world was falling apart and taking him with it. “Please turn it off,” his grown daughter begged him. “Just stop listening.” But the man refused, eventually following conspiracy-mongers on social media to “teach” himself what’s “really” happening.

What we listen to matters deeply. We see that in Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate. Responding to criminal charges brought against Jesus by religious leaders, Pilate summoned Him and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews” (John 18:33). Jesus replied with a stunning question: “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?” (v. 32).

The same question tests us. In a world of panic, are we listening to chaos and conspiracy—or Christ? Indeed, “my sheep listen to my voice,” He said. “I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Jesus “used this figure of speech” (v. 6) to explain Himself to doubting religious leaders. As with a good shepherd, He said that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John 10:4–5).

As our Good Shepherd, Jesus bids us to hear Him above all. May we listen well and find His peace.

By |2022-11-03T02:33:13-04:00November 3rd, 2022|

Grasping God’s Word

A rugged, cast-iron ring stood strong against the harsh Minnesota winter as it hung on the doorframe of my great uncle’s old farmhouse. More than a hundred feet away was another ring, firmly fixed to the dairy barn. Years ago during a blizzard, my uncle would attach a line between both rings so he could find the path between the house and the barn. Keeping a firm grip on the line kept him from losing his way in the blinding snow.

My uncle’s use of a safety line in a snowstorm reminds me of how David used lines of Hebrew poetry to trace how God’s wisdom guides us through life and guards us against sin and error: “The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:9–11).

A firm grasp of the truths of Scripture informed by God’s Spirit working in our hearts keeps us from losing our way and helps us make decisions that honor God and others. The Bible warns us against wandering from God while showing us the way home. It tells us of the priceless love of our Savior and the blessings that await all who place their faith in Him. Scripture is a lifeline! May God help us cling to it always.

By |2022-11-02T02:33:13-04:00November 2nd, 2022|

Better Together

Marie, a single working mom, rarely missed church or Bible study. Each week, she rode the bus to and from church with her five children and helped with set up and clean up.

One Sunday, the pastor told Marie that some church members had donated gifts for the family. One couple provided the family a house with reduced rent. Another couple offered her a job with benefits at their coffee shop. A young man gave her an old car he’d rebuilt and promised to serve as her personal mechanic. Marie thanked God for the joy of living in a community devoted to serving God and each other.

Though we may not all be able to give as generously as Marie’s church family, God’s people are designed to help each other. The apostle Luke described believers in Jesus as “devoted” to the “apostles’ teaching and to fellowship” (Acts 2:42). When we combine our resources, we can work together to help those in need (vv. 44–45). As we grow closer to God and each other, we can care for one another. Witnessing God’s love demonstrated through His people’s actions can lead others to a saving relationship with Jesus (vv. 46–47).

We can serve others with a smile or a kind deed. We can offer a job connection, a financial gift, or a prayer. Whatever we do as God works in and through us, we’re simply better together.

By |2022-11-01T02:33:03-04:00November 1st, 2022|

Opportunities to Shine

In March of 2020, while walking his dog in New York City’s Central Park, Whitney, a retired financial expert, saw trucks, stacks of tarps, and white tents, each bearing a cross and the name of a charity he’d never heard of before. When he discovered the group was building a field hospital for his fellow New Yorkers with COVID-19, he asked if he could help. For weeks, he and his family pitched in wherever they could, despite differing faiths and politics. Whitney stated, “Every single person I’ve met has been a genuinely nice person.” And he applauded the fact that no one was paying them to “help my city in our hour of deep, deep need.”

In response to the tremendous needs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic,  unlikely partners in service were brought together, and believers in Jesus were given new opportunities to share Christ’s light with others. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His followers to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds” (Matthew 5:16). We shine Christ’s light by letting the Spirit guide us in loving, kind, and good words and actions (see Galatians 5:22–23). When we allow the light we’ve received from Jesus to shine clearly in our daily lives, we also “glorify our Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

This day and every day may we shine for Christ, as He helps us be His salt and light in a world that desperately needs Him.

By |2022-10-31T02:33:11-04:00October 31st, 2022|

Hope in God

As the holiday season approached, package shipments were delayed due to an unprecedented influx of online orders. I can remember a time when my family preferred to simply go into the store and purchase items because we knew we had very little control over the speed of mail delivery. However, when my mother signed up for an account that includes expedited shipping, this expectation changed. Now with a two-day guaranteed delivery, we’re accustomed to receiving things quickly and we become frustrated by delays.  

We live in a world accustomed to instant gratification and waiting can be difficult. But in the spiritual realm, patience is still rewarded. When the book of Lamentations was written, the Israelites were mourning the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army, and they faced a series of challenges. However, in the midst of chaos, the writer boldly affirms that because he’s confident God will meet his needs, he’ll wait on Him (Lamentations 3:24). God knows we’re inclined to become anxious when answers to our prayers are delayed. Scripture encourages us by reminding us to wait on God. We don’t have to be consumed or worried because “his compassions never fail” (v. 22). Instead, with God’s help we can “be still . . . and wait patiently for him” (Psalms 37:7). May we wait on God, trusting in His love and faithfulness even as wrestle with longings and unanswered prayers.

By |2022-10-30T02:33:12-04:00October 30th, 2022|

When Weakness Is Strength

Drew had been imprisoned for two years because he served Jesus. He’d read stories of missionaries who felt constant joy throughout their incarceration, but he confessed “this was not my experience.” He told his wife that God had picked the wrong man to suffer for Him. She replied, “No. I think maybe He picked the right man. This was not an accident.”

 

Drew could likely relate to the prophet Jeremiah, who had faithfully served God by warning Judah that God would punish them for their sins. But God’s judgment hadn’t fallen yet, and Judah’s leaders beat Jeremiah and put him in stocks. Jeremiah blamed God: “You deceived me, Lord” (v. 7). The prophet believed God had failed to deliver. His word had only “brought me insult and reproach all day long” (v. 8). “Cursed be the day I was born!” Jeremiah said. “Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” (vv. 14, 18).

Eventually Drew was released, but through his ordeal he began to understand that perhaps God chose him—much like He chose Jeremiah—because he was weak. If he and Jeremiah had been naturally strong, they might have received some of the praise for their success. But if they were naturally weak, all the glory for their perseverance would go to Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). His frailty made him the perfect person for Jesus to use.

By |2022-10-29T02:33:19-04:00October 29th, 2022|
Go to Top