From Awe to Adoration (Psalm 9:1)

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What’s the greatest activity we can spend time doing? Worshipping God! Worship is not repeating hasty, routine petitions or listening to mood-changing music. Worship is the experience of being “lost in wonder, love, and praise, as Charles Wesley wrote. It’s awe that inspires adoration.                                                                                                                                                      My first sight of the Grand Canyon left me speechless. The friend who had driven me there appreciated my reaction and stood silent beside me. I gazed in awe at this magnificent spectacle and thought, This is a glimpse of God’s majesty. But my awe, by itself, was not worship.

My reaction is different when I come face to face with Jesus in the Scriptures. Awe changes into adoration as I behold Him in all His beauty. What grips my soul? His unsullied purity: Which of you convicts Me of sin?(John 8:46). His unrivaled wisdom:No man ever spoke like this Man!(John 7:46). His unbounded pity:When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion(Matthew 9:36). And His overwhelming majesty: He was transfigured before them(Matthew 17:2).

As I see Jesus in the Gospels, my awe changes to adoration. I bow in worship and exclaim with Thomas: “My Lord and my God!(John 20:28). – Vernon C. Grounds

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb!

My perfect, spotless righteousness;

The great, unchangeable I AM,

The King of glory and grace. – Bancroft

True worship of Christ changes admiration into adoration.

  • October 29, Vol. 13, Our Daily Bread

God Rules the Nations (Isaiah 40:17)

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World War I convinced mankind that such a terrible conflict must never happen again. So, out of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the League of Nations was born. Its purpose? To promote international peace and security. But according to The Columbia Encyclopedia, its failures were due in large part to “the indifference of the great powers, which preferred to reserve important matters for their own decision.” The successor to the League is the United Nations. During its 40-year history, it too has failed to fulfill the world’s hopes for lasting peace. Today we live with the fear of a nuclear war.

In Decision magazine, Leighton Ford wrote about two French writers who at the end of the 19th century visited the well-known scientist Pierre Berthelot. He was a “prophet” who forecast some of the weapons of the 20th century. “We have only begun to list the alphabet of destruction,” he said. Silence fell over the gathering. Then the elder of the two writers said quietly, “I think before that time comes, God will come like a great gatekeeper with His keys dangling at His waist, and say, ‘Gentlemen, it’s closing time.’

Yes, a larger drama is unfolding on the stage of history, and its principal figure is the God of the universe. Certainly, we should pray and work for a more secure world. But in Isaiah 40 we see that God will have the last word. He has a plan, and He will control how far the nations go. And that, in a nuclear age, is reassuring! – Dennis J. De Haan

This is my Father’s world –

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong

God is the Ruler yet. – Babcock

The highways of history are strewn with the wreckage of nations that forgot God.

  • October 24, 1985, Our Daily Bread

Seeing Your Words (Ephesians 4:29)

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The tongue is probably responsible for more harm than any other member of the body. That’s why we must learn to watch our words before we speak.

A woman developed a serious throat condition and was told that her vocal cords needed a total rest.  She wasn’t to talk for 6 months! With a husband and six children, this seemed impossible, but she cooperated. When she needed the children, she blew a whistle. She wrote out instructions and answers to questions on slips of paper.

The 6 months finally passed, and she recovered. Her observations were revealing. She said, “I don’t think I’ll ever shout like I used to.” When asked about the notes, she commented, “You’d be surprised how many, written hastily in anger, I crumpled up and threw into the wastebasket before anyone could see them. Seeing my words kept me from saying many of them.

Whether we join in at coffee break, talk on the telephone, or converse with or neighbors, let’s remember that “in the multitude of words sin is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19). If a morsel of gossip or an unkind remark comes to mind, let’s pray, “Lord, help me see the harm it could do. Help me watch my words.” – Dennis J. De Haan

If your lips would keep from slips,

Five things observe with care;

To whom you speak, of whom you speak,

And how and when and where. – Norris

Be sure your brain is running before you put tongue in gear.

  • October 23, 1989, Our Daily Bread

Adding to a Masterpiece (John 19:30)

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Could you improve on a masterpiece? Imagine that you are walking through the Louvre museum in Paris. As you approach the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, would you think about taking a palette and brushes and touching up the painting? Maybe put some more color in her cheeks? Perhaps change her nose a little?

That’s ridiculous, you say! For nearly 500 years the Mona Lisa has been considered one of the greatest artistic works of all time. How absurd to think we could add anything to this masterpiece!

Yet that’s what many people try to do with Christ’s masterpiece – salvation. They think they must improve on it with some work of their own. But that masterpiece was complete when Jesus said, “It is finished,” while hanging on the cross (John 19:30). Then He proved that His work of redemption was done when He rose from the dead.

When you hear that Jesus paid the price for your sin and that you don’t have to do anything to merit God’s grace, do you think it’s too good to be true? Do you think there’s something you must do to earn it?

You can’t add anything! Receive God’s gift of salvation. Jesus paid it all. The masterpiece is complete. – J. David Branon

Christ’s work for my salvation is complete!

No work of mine can add to what He’s done;

I bow to worship at the Master’s feet,

And honor God the Father’s only Son. – Hess

Salvation is a gift to be received – not a goal to be achieved.

  • October 17, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Who Says What’s Right? (Romans 2:14-15)

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People who reject absolute standards of right and wrong are often inconsistent. When they think they are being treated unfairly, they appeal to a standard of justice that they expect everyone to adhere to.

A philosophy professor began each new term by asking his class. “Do you believe it can be shown that there are absolute values like justice?” The free-thinking students all argued that everything is relative and no single law can be applied universally. Before the end of the semester, the professor devoted one class period to debate the issue. At the end, he concluded, “Regardless of what you think, I want you to know that absolute values can be demonstrated. And if you don’t accept what I say. I’ll flunk you!” One angry student got up and insisted, “That’s not fair!” “You’ve just proved my point,” replied the professor. “You’ve appealed to a higher standard of fairness.”

God’s moral standards are written in the Bible, and He has given us a conscience to tell us right from wrong (Romans 2:14-15). Every time we use the words good and bad, we imply a standard by which we make such judgments. Biblical values are not outdated because they originate with an eternal, unchanging God. – Dennis J. De Haan

God has not left us in the dark

About what’s wrong or right,

For through His works and in His Word

His Spirit gives us light. – D. J. De Haan

Only God has the right to define what’s wrong.

  • October 21, 1993, Our Daily Bread

Reverence (Psalm 111:9)

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I have noticed lately that more people than even seem to use expressions like “Oh, my God” as an expletive. Or they’ll say “I swear to God” as an oath of truthfulness. This troubles me.

It is always a sin to use God’s name in a careless way. Jesus made that clear to the Pharisees. They punctuated their speech with such statements as, “May heaven strike me dead if I’m not telling the truth.” They thought expressions like that were all right because they didn’t actually use the word God. But they implied God’s name even if they didn’t say it. After all, God, not heaven, has the power to strike a person dead. Jesus commanded, “Swear not at all.

To take God’s name lightly, either as the Pharisees did in oaths, or as an expletive, shows a lack of respect for God’s holiness, authority, and goodness. David reverently exclaimed, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!(Psalm 8:1). He was so overwhelmed with the thought of God’s perfections that he prayed, “Search me, O God, … and see if there is any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24).

As we meditate on God’s greatness, holiness, and power, we will learn to speak His name with proper respect and love. When we talk about God, let’s remember to be reverent. – Herbert Vander Lugt

How excellent is Thy name, O Lord,

Excellent in all the earth,

Thou settest up Thy glory above the heavens,

Highest in majesty and worth. –  Conion

If you care about God, you will handle His name with care.

  • October 20, 1989,  Our Daily Bread

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Desert Solitaire (Genesis 1:12)

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Desert Solitaire is Edward Abbey’s personal history of his summers as a park ranger in what is now called Arches National Park in Utah. The book is worth reading if only for Abbey’s bright language and vivid descriptions of the US Southwest.

But Abbey, for all his artistry, was an atheist who could see nothing beyond the surface of the beauty he enjoyed. How sad! He lived his entire life in praise of beauty and missed the point of it all.

Most ancient people had theories of origins enshrouded in legend, myth, and song. But Israel’s story of creation was unique. It told of a God who created up the cosmos, spoke it into being and pronounced it “beautiful.” (The Hebrew word for good also signifies beauty.). Then, having created a paradise, God in love spoke us into being, placed us in Eden, and told us, “Enjoy!

Some see and enjoy the beauty of the Creator’s good gifts all around them, but don’t “worship him as God or even give him thanks. They “think up foolish ideas of what God [is] like. As a result, their minds become dark and confused (Romans 1:21).

Others see beauty, say “Thank You, God,” and step into His light. – David H. Roper

Loving Father, we praise You because You are good. Thank You for infusing Your creation with beauty and purpose and for placing us here to enjoy it as we discover You. Your love endures forever!

All of creation reflects the beauty of God.

  • October 19, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread

Be Careful! (Jude 3-4)

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Jude was so upset about false teachers that he changed his mind about the content of a letter he was going to send. He had planned to write about salvation, but instead he sent an urgent warning (v. 3).

Apparently, some men were preaching that because God has already taken care of their sins it was okay for Christian to engage in immorality (v. 4). Jude described these teachers with harsh words: “They have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit(v. 11). He was saying that those first-century preachers were selfish, greedy men who were interested mostly in getting rich quick.

This reminds me of another kind of false teachers we see today: those who have found a way – in the name of God – to extort millions of dollars from sincere, trusting people. By promising blessings in exchange for a donation, by performing fake miracles, or by sending religious trinkets to make people feel obligated, some of these false teachers are getting rich off the faith and generosity of religious seekers.

Before you support any ministry, check it out. Don’t let people like the false teachers Jude described take advantage of you. Be careful! – J. David Branon

God’s Word must verify the truth

Of what is wrong or right,

And test what seems so real to me –

My feelings, sense, and sight. – D. J. De Haan

To know God’s truth is to be fortified against the devil’s lie.

  • October 18, 1992, Our Daily Bread

The Center of History (Matthew 16:16)

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On the file folders in its biographical morgue, The Washington Post identifies famous people with a single vocational notice, such as “home-run king” or “motion-picture star.” According to a reporter, one of these files is marked, “Jesus Christ (martyr).”

Every individual who considers Jesus Christ makes some judgment about Him. French philosopher and historian Ernest Renan said, “All history is incomprehensible without Christ.American author Ralph Waldo Emerson concluded, “His name is not so much written but plowed into the history of the world.”

Kenneth Scott Latourette, former chairman of the department of religion at Yale Graduate School, wrote, “That short life of Jesus has been the most influential ever lived. Through Him millions have been transformed and have begun to live the life which He exemplified. Gauged by the consequences which have followed, the birth, life, and death and resurrection of Jesus have been the most important events in the history of man.

What label do you put on Jesus Christ? If you agree that He is who He claimed to be, then let Him who is the center of history be not only the center of your creed but also the object of your loyalty and love. – Haddon Robinson

Christ wants to be the center of your life,

The reason for your being here at all;

He gave Himself a sacrifice for you,

And now He waits for you to hear His call. – Hess

Your decision about Jesus determines your destiny.

  • October 17, 1993, Our Daily Bread

Terrible and Beautiful Things (Psalm 57:8)

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Fear can leave us frozen. We know all the reasons to be afraid – everything that’s hurt us in the past, everything that could easily do again. So sometimes we’re stuck – unable to go back; too afraid to move forward. I just can’t do it. I’m not smart enough, strong enough, or brave enough to handle being hurt like that again.

I’m captivated by how author Frederick Buechner describes God’s grace: like a gentle voice that says, “Here is the world. Terrible and beautiful things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.

Terrible things will happen. In our world, hurting people hurt other people, often terribly. Like the psalmist David, we carry our own stories of when evil surrounded us, when, like “ravenous beasts,” others wounded us (Psalm 57:4). And so we grieve; we cry out (vv. 1-2).

But because God is with us, beautiful things can happen too. As we run to Him with our hurts and fears, we find ourselves carried by a love far greater than anyone’s power to harm us (vv. 1-3), a love so deep it fills the skies (v. 10). Even when disaster rages around us, His love is a solid refuge where our hearts find healing (vv. 1, 7). Until one day we’ll find ourselves awakening to renewed courage, ready to greet the day with a song of His faithfulness (vv. 8-10). – Monica Brands

Healer and Redeemer, thank You for holding us and healing us with Your endless love. Help us find in Your love the courage to follow You and share Your love with those around us.

God’s love and beauty make us brave.

  • October 16, Vol. 26, Our Daily Bread