It’s All a Gift! (Ephesians 2:8)

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London’s Café Rendezvous has nice lighting, comfortable couches, and the smell of coffee in the air. What it doesn’t have are prices. Originally started as a business by a local church, the café was transformed a year after it started. The managers felt that God was calling them to do something radical – make everything on the menu free. Today you can order a coffee, cake, or sandwich without cost. There isn’t even a donation jar. It’s all a gift.

I asked the manager why they were so generous. “We’re just trying to treat people the way God treats us,” he said, “God gives to us whether we thank him or not. He’s generous to us beyond our imagination.

Jesus died to rescue us from our sins and reconcile us with God. He rose from grave and is alive now. Because of this, every wrong thing we’ve done can be forgiven, and we can have new life today (Ephesians 2:1-5). And one of the most amazing things about this is that it is all free. We can’t buy the new life Jesus offers. We can’t even donate toward the cost (vv. 2:8-9). It’s all a gift.

As the folks at Café Rendezvous serve their cakes and coffees, they give people a glimpse of God’s generosity. You and I are offered eternal life for free because Jesus has paid the bill. – Sheridan Voysey

Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes the free gift of the water of life. – Revelation 22:17

Eternal life is a free gift ready to be received.

  • December 11, Vol. 25, Our Daily Bread

Eat This Bread (Micah 5:2)

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Christmas isn’t the time of the year when our thoughts naturally turn to the Last Supperor what the Jews called Passover. But that particular Passover is critical to Christmas. After breaking bread and giving it to His disciples, Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is My body(Matthew 26:26). Breaking bread was a traditional part of Passover, but adding “this is my body” was a striking departure from the familiar liturgy. The disciples must have been bewildered.

Later the meaning became clear. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which means “house of Bread.” He was laid in a manger – a feeding trough. He once said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh(John 6:51).

The prophet Micah indicated that One born in Bethlehem would rule over Israel (5:2). But not until Jesus came did anyone realize the uniqueness of this Kingdom. Christ’s rule would not be imposed upon anyone; it would be imparted to those who accepted this new citizenship.

As we sing of Bethlehem mangers, let’s remember that the heaven-sent infant King so that we might “eat this bread” and partake of His divine nature. – Julie Ackerman Link

Thou are the bread of life, O Lord, to me,

Thy Holy Word the truth that saveth me;

Give me to eat and live with Thee above,

Teach me to live Thy truth, for Thou art love. – Lathbury

Only Christ the Living Bread can satisfy our spiritual hunger.

  • December 7, Vol. 15, Our Daily Bread

What Christmas Is All About (Luke 2:8)

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More than 50 years A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast on American television. Some network executives thought it would be ignored, while others worried that quoting the Bible would offend viewers. Some wanted its creator, Charles Schulz, to omit the Christmas story, but Schulz insisted it stay in. the program rebroadcast every year since 1965.

When Charlie Brown, the frustrated director of the children’s Christmas play, is discouraged by the commercial spirit of the holiday season, he asks if anyone can tell him the real meaning of Christmas. Linus recites Luke 2:8-14 including the words, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men(vv. 11-14). Then Linus says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

During this season filled with our own doubts and dreams, it’s good to ponder afresh God’s great love expressed in the familiar story of Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, and the angels who announce the Savior’s birth.

That’s what Christmas is all about. – David C. McCasland

Father in heaven, as we approach Christmas, may we grasp in a deeper way Your amazing gift to us.

God broke into human history to offer us the gift of salvation!

  • December 5, Vol. 23, Our Daily Bread

Indestructible People (1 Peter 2:5)

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What picture immediately flashes into your mind when you hear the word church? A majestic cathedral? Some simple building for worship? That’s how a lot of people envision it.

Many others, however, think of the church as a vast number of people from all races and nationalities. Their common faith in Christ unites them in what is sometimes called the “church universal. These people meet in local congregations for worship, instruction, fellowship, and service. It is the church made up of born-again people that Christ had in mind when He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

In her book It Only Hurts When I Laugh, Ethel Barrett tells about a king of Sparta in ancient Greece who boasted to a visiting monarch about the mighty walls of Sparta. But the guest didn’t see any walls, and finally he said to his host, “I’d like to see those walls. Show them to me!” The Spartan ruler pointed with great satisfaction to some disciplined and well-trained troops, part of Sparta’s might army, and exclaimed, “There they are! Those are the walls of Sparta!”

Just as each Spartan soldier was viewed as brick in a mighty wall, so we are to think of Christians as “living stones, … built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). And because it is built by Christ Himself, it can never be destroyed. – Richard W. De Haan

O where are kings and empires now

Of old that went and came?

But, Lord, Thy church is praying yet,

A thousand years the same. – Coxe

The church – rooted by God – can never be uprooted by man.

  • December 11, 1988, Our Daily Bread

When God Doesn’t Hear (Psalm 66:18)

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Surprising things can happen in a courtroom. A judge might throw out strong evidence against a defendant – even a tape-recorded confession – if the proper rules of jurisprudence were violated in obtaining it. Even if he hears the confession, he disregards it. In a sense, a breach of the rules makes it nonexistent.

A similar thing can happen with prayer. Although God knows our every thought, He may disregard our prayers and petitions if we have allowed sin to destroy our fellowship with Him. The Bible says that God is not obligated to hear us if

  • Our heart is cherishing some sin (Psalm 66:18)
  • We ignore the pleas of the poor (Proverbs 21:13)
  • We are living in sinfulness (Isaiah 59:1-2)
  • There is discord in the home (1 Peter 3:7)
  • We doubt His ability to answer (James 1:6-7)
  • Our requests are self-centered (James 4:3)

God wants us to talk to Him, to praise Him, and even to petition Him with our requests. But we cannot assume that He hears us just because we pray. We must first live in a way that honors Him and follow His standards. When we do that, we are assured that He will hear our prayers.

Remember, James said that it’s the prayer of the righteous that is effective. – J. David Branon

For words without the heart
The Lord will never hear;
Nor will He to those lips attend
Whose prayers are not sincere. – Burton

Prayer must mean something to us if it is to mean anything to God.
– November 29, 1989,Our Daily Bread

Good Reason for Living(Ecclesiastes 12:13)

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At some time or other, almost everyone wonders, “Why am I placed on this earth? And what good is it to go on living? These are penetrating questions that cannot be answered satisfactorily if one does not know the Creator-God in a personal way. Looking only into himself, man can find little reason for his existence.

In the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau, the writer had this to say about the futility of man’s reasoning: “This is man, and one wonders why he wants to live at all. A third of his life is lost and deadened under sleep; another third is given to sterile labor; a sixth is spent in all his goings and comings, in the [toil] and shuffle of the streets, in thrusting, shoving, pawing. How much of him is left, then, for a vision of the tragic stars? How much of him is left to look upon the everlasting earth? A few snatched moments only from the barren glut and suck of living.

These are sad, despairing words by a great American writer-philosopher. He was obviously a man who was looking no farther than the depths of his own mind to find a reason for living. He failed, as have many others, to see that God gives us that reason. Through Scripture and through the incarnation of His Son, God has shown us why we are here and where we are going. And Jesus puts it all together by paying the penalty for our sin, showing us how to live, and giving us the power to do it. If you will fear God, obey His Word, and accept His Son, you will find that life is full and satisfying. Yes, Christ gives us good reason for living. – David C. Egner

Of all creation’s treasures rare

Not one compares in worth with man;

In God’s own image he was made

To fill a place in His great plan. – D. J. De Haan

You can’t fully enjoy the gift of physical life until you receive the gift of spiritual life.

  • December 6, 1984, Our Daily Bread

Christmas Lights (John 8:12)

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Each year for several weeks around Christmas, Singapore’s tourist belt, Orchard Road, is transformed into a wonderland of lights and colors. This light-up is designed to attract tourists to spend their money at the many stores along the street during this “golden month of business.” The shoppers come to enjoy the festivities, listen to choirs sing familiar Christmas carols, and watch performers entertain.

The first Christmas “light-up” ever was not created by electrical cables, glitter, and neon lights but by “the glory of the Lord [that] shone around” (Luke 2:9). No tourists saw it, just a few simple shepherds out in their field. And it was followed by an unexpected rendition of “Glory to God in the Highest” by an angelic choir (v. 14).

The shepherds went to Bethlehem to see if what the angels said was true (v. 15). After they had confirmed it, they could not keep to themselves what they had heard and seen. “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child” (v. 17).

Many of us have heard the Christmas story often. This Christmas, why not share the good news with others that Christ “the light of the world – has come (John 8:12). – C. P. Hia

Lord, help me this Christmas to reflect the light of Your presence and goodness to others.

The gift of God’s love in us can bring light to any darkness.

  • December 5, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread