The Blacksmith and the King (Colossians 3:23)

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In 1878, when Scotsman Alexander Mackay arrived in what is now Uganda to serve as a missionary, he first set up a blacksmith forge among a tribe ruled by King Mutesa. Villagers gathered around this stranger who worked with his hands, puzzled because everyone “knew| that work was for women. At that time, men in Uganda never worked with their hands. They raided other villages to capture slaves, selling them to outsiders. Yet there was this foreign man at work forging farming tools.

Mackay’s work ethic and life resulted in relationships with the villages and gained him an audience with the king. Mackay challenged King Mutesa to end the slave trade, and he did.

In Scripture, we read of Bezalel and Oholiab, who were chosen and gifted by God to work with their hands designing the tent of meeting and all its furnishings for worship (Exodus 31:1-11). Like Mackay, they honored and served God with their talent and labor.

We tend to categorize our work as either church work or secular. In truth, there is no distinction. God designs each of us in ways that make our contributions to the kingdom unique and meaningful. Even when we have little choice in where or how we work, God calls us to know Him more fully – and He will show us how to serve Him – right now. – Randy Kilgore

Father, grant me an awareness of my place in Your work. help me to see You at work in the people and places where I spend my time.

God will show us how to serve Him – wherever we are.

  • April 3, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread

God’s Provision Brings Glory (Psalm 50:15)

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Did you know that you bring glory to God by calling upon Him when you are in distress? God promised He would deliver you if you turned to Him. You deny the Lord honor that is rightfully His every time you find yourself in difficulty and you fail to call upon Him for help! There may be times when God allows you to reach a point of need so that you can call upon Him, and thus let Him demonstrate to a watching world the difference He makes in the lives of His children. If God never allowed you to experience need, people around might never have the opportunity to witness God’s provision in the life of a Christian. If you never faced a shortfall, you might be tempted to feel self-sufficient and without any need of God in your daily life.

Pride will tempt you to think that you do not need to seek God’s assistance. Self-regard will seek to convince you that you can handle your dilemma through your own wisdom, resources, and hard work. Pride will also rob glory from God and seek to give it to you. Don’t allow your pride to take what rightfully belongs to the Lord. Call upon your Lord and wait exclusively upon Him to rescue you. Then give Him the glory that He deserves.

Self-sufficiency can greatly hinder your ability to experience God and bring Him honor. The next time you are in distress, turn to Him!

  • March 18, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals

That is Mine! (Isaiah 42:8)

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The Nile of Africa, which spans 6,650 kilometers (more than 4,100 miles) and flows northward across several northeastern African countries, is the world’s longest river. Over the centuries, the Nile has provided sustenance and livelihood for millions of citizens in the countries it passes through. Currently, Ethiopia is building what will become Africa’s largest hydro-power dam on the Nile. It will be a great resource for the area.

Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, claimed to be the Nile’s owner and originator. He and all Egypt boasted, “The Nile belongs to me; I made it for myself (Ezekiel 29:3, 9). They failed to acknowledge that God alone provides natural resources. As a result, God promised to punish the nation (vv. 8-9).

We are to care for God’s creation, and not forget that everything we have comes for the Lord. Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever. He is the One who also endows humanity with ability to manufacture and invent man-made resources. Whenever we talk about a good thing that has come to us or that we have accomplished, we need to remember what God says in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another.” – Lawrence Darmani

Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise Your glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with Your glory.

To God be the glory – great things He has done!

  • April 1, Vol. 23, Our Daily Bread

History of a Murder (Proverbs 17:14)

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The newspaper reported a tragic incident in a South American country. A peasant killed his best friend while they were arguing about political differences. When asked why he did it, he replied with these chilling words: “We began peacefully, and then we argued. I killed him when I ran out of words.

This tragedy calls to mind Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 about the close connection between anger and murder. First, He stressed the seriousness of anger (vv. 21-22). He warned that malicious anger, like murder, would be punished by God. Then He gave practical advice designed to defuse anger in a person who has something against another (vv. 23-26).

We should all take a close look at our inner rage. We might think we can control it. Unfortunately, though, our feelings of hostility often control us and cause us to do things we would never do while thinking clearly. That’s why unresolved anger needs to be seen as a time-bomb that can explode, destroying ourselves and doing irreparable damage to others. True, not all anger is wrong. But all wrong anger needs to be acknowledged and confessed before it leads to “murder.” – Martin R. De Haan II

When I have lost my temper,

I’ve lost my reason too;

I’m never proud of anything

Which angrily I do. – Jackson

He who conquers his anger conquers a strong enemy.

  • March 31, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Trial by Fire (James 1:12)

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Last winter while visiting a natural history museum in Colorado, I learned some remarkable facts about the aspen tree. An entire grove of slender, white-trunked aspens can grow from a single seed and share the same root system. These root systems can exist for thousands of years whether or not they produce trees. They sleep underground, waiting for fire, flood, or avalanche to clear a space for them in the shady forest. After a natural disaster has cleared the land, aspen roots can sense the sun at last. The roots send up saplings, which become trees.

For aspens, new growth is made possible by the devastation of a natural disaster. James writes that our growth in faith is also made possible by difficulties. “Consider it pure joy,” he writes, “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything(James 1:2-4).

It’s difficult to be joyful during trials, but we can take hope from the fact that God will use difficult circumstances to help us reach maturity. Like aspen trees, faith can grow in times of trials when difficulty clears space in our hearts for the light of God to touch us. – Amy Peterson

Thank You, God, for being with us in our trials, and for helping us to grow through difficult circumstances.

Trials and tests can draw us closer to Christ.

  • March 29, Vol. 25, Our Daily Bread

Peanuts and Cathedrals (Luke 19:17)

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Sometimes we as believers feel we must make a name for ourselves instead of letting God make a name for Himself through us. We forget that He appoints us to places of service best suited to our talents. Our task is to be diligent with whatever abilities and opportunities we have, no matter how small or insignificant.

George Washington Carver once asked God to tell him about the universe. According to Carver, the Lord replied, “George, the universe is just too big for you to understand. Suppose you let Me take care of that. Humbled, he replied, “Lord, how about a peanut? The Lord said, “Now, George, that’s something your own size. Go to work on it and I’ll help you.” When Carver was done studying the peanut, he had discovered over 300 products that could be made with that little bit of God’s universe.

Faithfulness in little things is never lost to the work of Christ. When the cathedral in Milan, Italy, was completed, vast throngs of people assembled to witness its dedication. In the crowd was a little girl who pointed to the beautiful edifice and cried with childish glee, “I helped build that!” “What!” exclaimed a guard in brilliant uniform. “What did you do?” “I carried the dinner pail for my father while he worked up yonder,” she replied.

If we are living for Jesus, we have every right to “think big” about our part in God’s plan. Diligently using our “one pound” or “two talents” in Christ’s service is great work – whether we dissect a peanut or help build a cathedral. – Dennis J. De Haan

A bigger place than this to fill –

For that I do not pray,

But to be big enough to fill

The place I have today. – Anon.

God is looking for extraordinary men for ordinary works, but ordinary men for extraordinary work.

  • March 25, 1984, Our Daily Bread

Keep Going for God (Psalm 92:14)

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A familiar saying goes something like this: “Old age is a matter of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it, it doesn’t matter!

That must have been John Kelley’s attitude. Kelley, who died in 2004 at the age of 96, ran in 58 Boston Marathons (that’s 26.2 miles each time) – including his last one in 1992 when he was 84 years old.

Kelley’s remarkable feat is a reminded to each of us that we must stay active as long as we can. Far too many folks hit middle age and put the body in neutral. And Christians too often put their service for Jesus Christ in the same inactive mode.

Each of us has a responsibility to God, as long as He gives us physical and mental strength, to work heartily “as to the Lord (Colossians 3:23). We are never called to retire from life and coast home to heaven.

The psalmist said that the righteous “shall still bear fruit in old age (Psalm 92:14). For those who are physically able, that means continuing in active service. For those who can no longer move about, that means being active in prayer and in quiet service.

Let’s make sure old age doesn’t stop us from bearing fruit. We need to keep going for God. – J. David Branon

Growing old but not retiring,

For the battle still is on;

Going on without relenting

Till the final victory’s won. – Anon.

To stay youthful, stay useful.

  • March 28, Vol. 13, Our Daily Bread