Krakatoa (2 Peter 3:10)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In 1883, the greatest volcanic explosion in modern history took place. Krakatoa, an island volcano along the Indonesian arc, shot 6 million cubic miles of soil, rock, vegetation, and animal and human life 24 miles up into the stratosphere. Its shockwave traveled around the world seven times, and its debris fell as far as Madagascar – more than 2,000 miles away!

At the time of Krakatoa’s explosion, Captain Sampson of the British vessel Norham Castle was nearby and wrote in his log: “I am writing this blind in pitch darkness. We are under continual rain of pumice-stone and dust. So violent are the explosions that the ear-drums of over half of my crew have been shattered…. I am convinced that the Day of Judgment has come.”

Captain Sampson believed that the world was coming to an end. The explosion does seem to fit 2 Peter 3:10, “The heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat.” As terrible as Krakatoa was, though, it did not signal the end of the world.

Crisis has a way of shaking us out pf complacency. It reminds us this world is not our home and encourages us to be godly (v. 11). When it feels as if our personal world is coming to an end, we should focus on living for eternity. – Dennis Fisher

A Prayer

Lord, my desire is to live for You whether circumstances are good or bad. Help me to focus on Your purposes. Show me today in Your Word what You want me to do.

Trusting God can turn crisis into a treasure.

  • December 1, Vol. 14, Our Daily Bread

Imperfect, Yet Loved (Romans 5:8)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In Japan, food products are immaculately prepared and packaged. Not only must they taste good but they must look good too. Often, I wonder if I am purchasing on good quality, products with slight defects are often discarded. However, in recent years wakeari products have gained popularity. Wakeari means “There is a reason” in Japanese. These products are not thrown away but are sold at a cheap price “for a reason” – for example, a crack in a rice cracker.

My friend who lives in Japan tells me that wakeari is also a catchphrase for people who are obviously less than perfect.

Jesus loves all people – including the wakeari who society casts aside. When a woman who had lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at a Pharisee’s house, she went there and knelt behind Jesus at His feet, weeping (Luke 7:37-38). The Pharisee labeled her “a sinner” (v. 39), but Jesus accepted her. He spoke gently to her, assuring her that her sins were forgiven (v. 48).

Jesus loves imperfect, wakeari people – which includes you and me. And the greatest demonstration of His love for us is that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). – Albert Lee

I know I’m not perfect, Lord, so help me not to be hypocritical and pretend I have it all together. Open my heart to others in acceptance and love so that they might know Jesus’s concern for them.

Broken people are made whole by God’s love.

  • November 30, Vol. 25, Our Daily Bread

Faith and the Impossible (Matthew 1:24)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A minister told me he can’t believe that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. He said, “In our enlightened age, we know that a miracle like a virgin birth is contrary to the course of nature.” He dismissed the gospel accounts as the imagination of writers who lacked the insights of modern science.

I said to him, “Granted, we have come a long way in scientific knowledge since the first century. But I think Joseph and the men who wrote the New Testament knew perfectly well what it takes to produce a baby. The fact of the matter is that Joseph lost his confidence in Mary’s fidelity to him when he learned that she was pregnant. He was ready to break their engagement. But the angel of the Lord assured him that the conception came about by the Holy Spirit.

Unless we are willing to believe in miracles, we will miss the true meaning of Christmas – that the infinite God who created and upholds everything compressed Himself into a tiny baby. That is a miracle beyond comprehension! If we don’t believe that happened, we will remain in spiritual darkness. On the other hand, if we believe it, the idea that Jesus was born of a virgin mother will be easy to accept. We will have the faith to believe the impossible. – Herbert Vander Lugt

There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth,

For the virgin’s sweet Boy is the Lord of the earth;

Ay! The star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,

For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King! – Holland

Believe in God and you’ll believe in miracles; believe in His Son and you’ll experience one.

  • November 29, 1992, Our Daily Bread

It’s Always True! (Psalm 119:160)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In his book What American Believe, George Barna cites a survey taken early in 1991 about absolute truth. The question was asked, “Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with the following statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct.”

Only 23 percent of evangelical Christians expressed strong belief in absolute truth. The rest doubted to varying degrees that anything can be known for certain. In other words, they believe truth is relative.

This kind of thinking has far reaching implications. A couple of decades ago we heard a lot about “situation ethics,” which appears to have become the norm today. It holds that the situation we are in, not absolute biblical standards of morality, determines whether something is right or wrong. For example, there might be a situation where stealing is justifiable. But what do we with Psalm 119:160 and the commandment “You shall not steal”? (Exodus 20:15).

We need to look again at God’s standards in the Bible and learn to live by them. His revealed truth is much more reliable than anything we could come up with – no matter what the situation. – J. David Branon

You may not always know for sure

Just what is right to do;

But of one thing you can be sure –

God’s Word is always true. – D. J. De Haan

God’s truth has no relatives.

  • November 28, 1992,  Our Daily Bread

No Repentance, No Pardon (Luke 13:5)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Faith in Christ and faith alone – saves the sinner from hell. Yet saving faith must be accompanied by a change of heart about sin and about God. We call this repentance. The two aspects of conversion, turning from evil (repentance) and turning to Christ (faith), are inseparable. I cannot travel to Chicago without at the same time leaving Grand Rapids. Unless we are willing to renounce our sins, we are not ready for God’s pardon.

In his book The Root of Righteousness, Aiden Wilson Tozer told of a state governor who disguised himself and visited a prison. While talking with a personable young convict, he felt a strong desire to pardon him. “What would you do,” he asked casually, “if the governor were to offer you a pardon?” The convict snarled, “The first thing I’d do is to cut the throat of the judge who sent me here.” The governor was saddened as he broke off the conversation and left. That convict stayed in his cell.

Notice that the promise of cleansing in Isaiah 1:18 is unmistakably linked to the two preceding verses. “Wash yourselves” and “cease to do evil” are bound to the prospect of sins becoming “white as snow.” God freely forgives our transgressions (v. 18), but we must forsake them (vv. 16.-17). Does this make repentance a work on our part? No indeed! Being dead in our sins, we must cast ourselves wholly on Christ to save us. And that “casting” is both trusting and turning. That’s why Jesus said, “Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). – Dennis J. De Haan

Dear Lord, be merciful to me;

My sin has grieved Your heart;

And strengthen my resolve, O Lord,

From evil to depart. – D. J. De Haan

Repentance is sorrow for the deed, not for being caught.

  • November 27, 1985 , Our Daily Bread

All About Gratitude (Colossians 3:17)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For centuries, people in many countries have held harvest festivals to celebrate the bounty of the land and the blessings of life. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln established a national holiday in the United States as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our benevolent Father.”

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen thinks that most holidays have been corrupted by commercialism, while Thanksgiving Day has retained its intended purpose. He said, “This is a very rare day. It is wholly and entirely about gratitude.

No matter what others do, we as followers of Christ have the privilege and responsibility to extend the spirit of thankfulness to every day of the year. Paul urged the Colossians to keep growing in Christ while overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7). We are to do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (3:17).

Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation also declared that all our blessings “are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

This is a fitting day to express gratitude to God. And so is tomorrow, and every day that follows. – David C. McCasland

Worthy is God of our worship,

Worthy is He of our praise,

Magnify Him with thanksgiving,

Gladly our voices we raise. – Anon.

The joy of living comes from a heart of thanksgiving.

  • November 22, Vol. 13, Our Daily Bread

Fame and Humility (Philippians 2:8)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Many of us are obsessed with fame – either with being famous ourselves or with following every detail of famous people’s lives. International book or film tours. Late-night shows appearances. Millions of followers of Twitter.

In recent study in the US, researchers ranked the names of famous individuals using a specially developed algorithm that scoured the Internet. Jesus topped the list as the most famous person in history.

Yet Jesus was never concerned about obtaining celebrity status. When He was here on earth, He never sought fame (Matthew 9:30; John 6:15)although fame found Him all the same as news about Him quickly traveled throughout the region of Galilee (Mark 1:28; Luke 4:37).

Fame was never Jesus’ goal. His purpose was simple. As the Son of God, He humbly, obediently, and voluntarily offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. – Cindy Hess Kasper

You are to be celebrated, Lord, above all others. You have been highly exalted and given a name that is above every name. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that You are Lord.

Jesus came to be famous, but to humbly offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.

  • November 25, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread

What Time is it? (Galatians 4:4)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The old adage is true: Timing is everything! That’s why Paul’s statement, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son” intrigues me so much (Galatians 4:4).

A quick look at history reveals that the coming of Christ was at just the right time. Centuries earlier, Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world, bringing with him the Greek culture and language. On the heels of his demise, the Roman Empire picked up where Alexander left off and expanded the territory under the unifying influence of the culture and language of the Greeks. It was under Roman rule that the crucifixion took place, where the blood of Christ was shed for us. It was under the rule of Rome that conditions were made ready for the spread of the gospel across three continents: good roads, territorial boundaries free of “passport” restrictions, and a unifying language. The providence of God had put all the pieces in place for the perfect time to send His Son.

God’s timing is perfect in everything. While you are waiting, perhaps wondering why God doesn’t seem to be acting on your behalf, remember that He’s working behind the scenes to prepare His moment of intervention at just the right time. Trust Him. He knows what time it is.  – Joe Stowell

Lord, in Your infinite wisdom and power, You work behind the scenes to prepare all things for just the right time. Teach me to wait well and to trust You to know when the fullness of time has come.

Teach us, O Lord, the discipline of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work. – Marshall

  • November 24, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread

The Sounds of Silence (Proverbs 10:21)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A fishing buddy of mine observed, “Shallow streams make the most noise,” a delightful turn on the old adage, “Still waters run deep.” He meant, of course, that people who make the most noise tend to have little substance to say.

The flip side of that problem is that we don’t listen well either. I’m reminded of the line in the old Simon and Garfunkel song Sounds of Silence about folks hearing without listening. Oh, they hear the words, but they fail to silence their own thoughts and truly listen. It would be good if we all learned to be silent and still.

There is “a time to be silent and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Good silence is a listening silence, a humble silence. It leads to right hearing, right understanding, and right speaking. “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,” the proverb says, “but one who has insight draws them out(Proverbs 20:5). It takes a lot of hard listening to get all the way to the bottom.

And while we listen to others, we should also be listening to God and hearing what He has to say. I think of Jesus, scribbling with His finger in the dust while the Pharisees railed on the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:1-11). What was He doing? May I suggest that He could have been simply listening for His Father’s voice and asking, “What shall we say to this crowd and this dear woman?” His response is still being heard around the world. – David H. Roper

Father, today may Your Spirit remind us to seek the quiet so that we may listen first to Your voice and then understand the hearts of others. Teach us to speak and when to be quiet.

Well-timed silence can be more eloquent than words.

  • November 23, Vol. 23, Our Daily Bread

Waiting for the Weekend (1 Timothy 4:7)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Good morning! Only 1 more day until Friday!” Our local traffic reporter counts down to the weekend for his morning radio audience. Many in his audience are like thinking all week about hitting the bike trail, heading for the beach, or teeing off in the morning mist.

Paul told Timothy that physical exercise does profit us “a little (1 Timothy 4:8). Regular exercise and recreation can help to restore our perspective, to tone up our muscles, and to recharge our batteries. But Paul said that “godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (v. 8).

The trouble is that many Christians today emphasize physical exercise almost to the exclusion of spiritual exercise. Paul also said, “Exercise yourself toward godliness (v. 7). Regular spiritual exercise such as prayer, Bible study, walking in the Spirit, sharing Christ with others, serving others, and living a pure and holy life are “profitable” for both time and eternity.

Looking forward to the weekend is fine. And there’s nothing wrong with biking, swimming, golfing, or other forms of recreation. But remember, the greatest profit comes from exercising “toward godliness.” – David C. Egner

A healthy body, healthy mind,

Should be the Christian’s goal;

But it is more important still

To exercise the soul. – Bosch

To keep spiritually fit, feed on God’s Word and exercise your faith.

  • August 2, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread