“Ready, Aye, Ready!” (Matthew 24:44)

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The motto of a Scottish regiment reads, “Ready, Aye, Ready! It is often accompanied by an illustration of a Highlander dressed in full battle array – kilts and all. This phrase can also be used to describe preparedness that should mark every person at Christ’s return.

Many people are more like the young women in the sad parable of Matthew 25. A joyous wedding feast is in progress. Outside the door stand five woeful young women who were not prepared for the bridegroom’s return. Here’s how Alfred, Lord Tennyson described that situation in his epic poem The Idylls of the King.

Late, late, so late! And dark the night and chill.

Late, late, so late! But we can enter still.

Too late, too late! Ye cannot enter now.

No light had we: for this we do repent;

And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.

Too late, to late! Ye cannot enter now.

No light: So late! And dark and chill the night!

O let us in that we may find the light!

Too late, too late! Ye cannot enter now.

Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet?

O let us in, tho’ late, to kiss feet!

No, no, too late! Ye cannot enter now.

As long as you have the ability to make choices, it is not too late. Don’t be unprepared. Cry out in faith to Jesus Christ to save you. Then, as you await His return, you’ll be able to say, “Ready, Aye, Ready! – David C. Egner

Oh, choose now t path of salvation

And enter in at the strait gate!

Come now, while the Savior is calling;

Tomorrow may be too late! – Haines

You cannot repent too soon because you do not know how soon it may be too late.

  • August 15, 1986, Our Daily Bread

The Bible Stands! (Hebrews 11:30)

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Unbelievers have long scoffed at the biblical story of the fall of the ancient city of Jericho. That’s why I was delighted to see this headline on the front page of the newspaper:

New Study Backs Biblical Version of Jericho’s Demise

The Associated Press article began, “The walls of Jericho did come tumbling down as recounted in the Bible, according to an archaeological study.” Archaeologist Bryant G. Wood of the University of Toronto said, “When we compare the archaeological evidence at Jericho with the biblical narrative describing the Israelite destruction of Jericho, we find remarkable agreement.” Wood noted that the Bible places the event after spring harvest and indicates that the Israelites burned the city – both facts confirmed by the archaeological remains. Once again, archaeology bears testimony to the truthfulness of Scripture.

Our belief in the authenticity of the Bible does not depend on scientific research but on the claim to be God’s Word. As 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. We can therefore have complete confidence in what it says.

It’s a fact – the walls of Jericho did indeed fall. The Bible stands! – Richard W. De Haan

The Bible stands like a mountain towering

Far above the works of men;

Its truth by none ever was refuted,

And destroy it they never can. – Lillenas

To the wise, God’s Word is sufficient.

  • August 14, Vol. 11, Our Daily Bread

Stop at the Start (Proverbs 17:14)

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In the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine.

The Orioles’ John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well.

The book of Proverbs tells us to stop conflict before it turns into a flood of anger (17:14). It’s difficult to take back words. A raised gun, a fist, and a voice are all alike – they are easier to lift up than to put down.

Because of God’s love for us, He pleads with us not to play with the fire of unnecessary conflict. He understands the danger of strife. We may think a little conflict make life (including sports) more interesting. But the Lord wants us to think otherwise.

Father, help us to heed Your warning. Help us to understand the terrible potential of conflict. When a desire to lash out at someone rises up within us, help us to stop at the start – so that we don’t damage both ourselves and others. – Martin R. De Haan II

Fire Prevention

When have I spoken or acted in anger? What would have happened if I had held my tongue or stopped my hand? What is the advantage of a “soft answer”? (Proverbs 15:1).

It’s easier to start a fight than to stop one.

  • August 13, 1992, Our Daily Bread

The Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13)

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So many predictions of the end of the world have come and gone. Those predictions are unsettling and often fill people with fear. Yet the Bible does refer to a time called “the day of the Lord” when He will return. It will happen, but only God knows when.

It’s a day that Jesus’ followers can look forward to. In light of that time to come, the apostle Peter tells us how the believer can live with a joyful purpose (2 Peter 3:10-18). We can look upward by living Christ-honoring lives (v. 11). We can look inward by making every effort to be found at peace with God (v. 14). And we can look outward by being on guard so we aren’t carried away by the wrong influence of others (v. 17).

How do we do this? By “grow[ing] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (v. 18). When we grow in character through His written Word, we begin to relate more closely to Jesus, the Living Word. The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and guides us in the way we live.

The day of the Lord shouldn’t be a fearful day for Jesus’ followers. Our King will return to make all things right and to rule forever. We wait for that time with great anticipation. It is our “blessed hope (Titus 2:13). – C. P. Hia

And for the hope of His return,

Dear Lord, Your name we praise;

With longing hearts we watch and wait

For that great day of days! – Sherwood

One day Jesus will return to rule and reign!

  • August 12, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread

No Fear (Luke 2:10)

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Nearly every time an angel appears in the Bible, the first words he says are, “Do not be afraid (Daniel 10:12; Matthew 28:5; Revelation 1:17). Little wonder. When the supernatural makes contact with planet Earth, it usually leaves the human observers flat on their faces in catatonic fear. But Luke tells a form that does not frighten. In Jesus, born in a barn and laid in a feeding trough, God finds at last a mode of approach that we need not fear. What could be less scary than a newborn baby?

Puzzled skeptics stalked Jesus throughout His ministry. How could a baby in Bethlehem, a carpenters’ son, be the Messiah from God? But a group of shepherds in a field had no doubt about who He was, for they heard the message of good news straight from a choir of angels (2:8-14).

Why did God take on human form? The Bible gives many reasons, some densely theological and some quite practical; but the scene of Jesus as an adolescent lecturing rabbis in the temple gives one clue (v. 46). For the first time, ordinary people could hold a conversation, a debate, with God in visible form. Jesus could talk to anyone – His parents, a rabbi, a poor widow – without first having to announce, “don’t be afraid.”

In Jesus, God comes close to us. – Philip Yancey

I’m humbled, Lord, that You would come near to me. But I’m grateful. Thank You.

God incarnate is the end of fear.Frederick Brotherton Meyer

  • August 11, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread

Names, Names, and the Name (Philippians 2:9)

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A person’s last name doesn’t have the significance it once had. In Europe during the 10th century, for example, a last name might have referred to where a person lived (Overhill) or an occupation (Miller). My name, Vander Lugt, meant “from the atmosphere above,” perhaps indicating that the first person to be given this name had his “head in the clouds” much of the time. But today, names don’t mean what they used to.

How different are the names given to the Lord Jesus! They are as full of meaning today as when they were first announced. Long before the Savior was born, the prophet Isaiah declared, “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). We who know Him as our Savior rejoice in the rich meanings suggested by those titles. Jesus is Wonderful in His person, His works, His sufferings, and His resurrection. He is our supreme Counselor, He is our Mighty God, because “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). He is our Everlasting Father, eternally one with Father and Holy Spirit, knowing us, loving us, and caring for us. He is our Prince of Peace, the One who gives us inner peace now, and who one day will return to bring peace to our troubled world planet.

Our Lord’s names are beautiful, but the one we love most is “Jesus.” It is the name above every name, the one before which every knee shall bow. What a wonderful prospect for us who know Him as Savior! – Herbert Vander Lugt

No sweeter Name can tongue afford

Than that of Jesus Christ my Lord;

No dearer Name do mortals love

Than He who reigns with God above. – Brandt

Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language that man can understand.

  • August 10, 1986, Our Daily Bread

It’s My Duty! (1 Corinthians 9:16)

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I read about a courageous minister who lived many years ago, probably in a country hostile to the gospel. He had just started preaching one Sunday when an angry soldier stepped forward, placed a gun to the man’s forehead, and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t stop. The preacher calmly replied, “Soldier, do your duty; I shall do mine!” Then the minister went on to complete his message. He was totally committed to doing what he believed to be God’s will.

We all have something we should be doing for God. The primary motivation, of course, is our love for the Lord. Out of gratitude for His mercies, we are to present our bodies to Him as “a living sacrifice,” which is our “reasonable service” (see Romans 12:1). And yet part of our motivation for doing the Lord’s work should be simply because it’s what He expect from us.

Not everyone is called to preach or teach God’s Word. For some, the assignment may be to show hospitality, help out in the church nursery, sing in the choir, serve on the board, drive the church bus, or visit the shut-ins. But whatever the task God has for us, we must take it seriously. The apostle Paul, having been called to proclaim God’s good news, said, “… for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!

We need more Christians who recognize their place in the Lord’s plan and declare, “I will fill it. I’m committed to doing God’s will. After all, it’s my duty! – Richard W. De Haan

Ready to go, ready to stay,

Ready my place to fill;

Ready for service lowly or great,

Ready to do God’s will. – Palmer

No day is without its duty; no duty is without strength to perform it.

  • August 9, 1987, Our Daily Bread

Little Nicks – Big Trouble! (Galatians 5:9)

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We couldn’t figure it out. My son and I had purchased an old powerboat for fishing and couldn’t make it run properly. We were unable to get it up to speed, and it shuddered when we tried to go faster. We figured that the trouble was with the fuel system, so we adjusted the carburetor and changed the fuel filter. But that still didn’t solve the problem.

When we took the boat out of the water, my son found the cause of the trouble. One of the propeller fins had a ¾-inch (2 cm) nick in it. That can’t be it, I thought. That nick is too small. But when we installed a new propeller, what a difference it made! We had been slowed down by a tiny nick.

A similar problem is often at work in our lives as Christians. Sinful practices like those described in Galatians 5:16-21 have their roots in the seemingly insignificant thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Matthew 5:28; 15:18-19). If we ignore or tolerate these “little” sins, they will eventually grow, corrupting more of our thoughts and actions – even harming people around us. Just as a little yeast leavens a whole lump of dough (Galatians 5:9), so also a “little” sin can eventually weaken our service for Christ and the ministry of His church.

Remember, little nicks can cause big trouble. – David C. Egner

One little sin, what harm can it do?

Give it free reign and soon there are two,

Then sinful deeds and habits ensue –

Guard well your thoughts, lest they destroy you. – D. J. De Haan

Little sins won’t stay little.

  • August 8, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread

Uncommon People (Genesis 1:27)

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In the 1920s, D. J. DePree, the president of the Herman Miller furniture company, and his colleague James Eppinger saw the company sliding toward bankruptcy. Often traveling together by train, they had much time to ponder their situation.

One day they decided not to focus on what was wrong with their company but with the furniture industry as a whole. They listed 15 things, one of which was the belief that if you worked with your hands, you were common; if you worked with your mind, you were uncommon, or superior.

Although DePree was an evangelical Christian and Eppinger a devout Jew, they came to the same conclusion: All people were created in God’s image, and therefore everyone is special. Today Herman Miller Inc. is respected in the corporate world for its outstanding labor/management relations.

How differently we would look at people if we really saw them as bearing the image of their Creator! Racial, ethnic, social, and other barriers would begin to fall.

Lord, forgive us for so often seeing ourselves as superior to others. Help us to remember that before sin distorted our thinking about ourselves and others, we were all, and still are, unique people created in Your image. – Dennis J. De Haan

Of all creation’s treasures rate,

Not one compares in worth with man;

In God’s own images he was made

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

Our value is not measured in what we make of ourselves, but by the one who made us.

  • August 7, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread

God’s Marvelous Creation (Psalm 139:14)

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In his book If I Were an Atheist, Wilbur Nelson includes a chapter called “If I Were a Medical Doctor.” He reasons that medical doctors, of all people, because they are so knowledgeable about the human body with its marvelous functions and complexities, should recognize the Creator who fashioned and made it.

Nelson then gives us a whole series of “Think of’s” to ponder. Here are just a few of them: Think of the human body, composed of more than 100 trillion cells. Think of the skin – while water penetrates the skin outwardly, it cannot penetrate it inwardly. Think of the bones – capable of carrying a load of 30 times greater than brick will support. Think of the liver – it breaks up old blood cells into bile and neutralizes poisonous substances. Think of the blood – 10 or 12 pints of a syrupy substance that distributes oxygen and carries away waste from tissues and organs, and also regulates the body’s temperature. Think of the heart – weighing less than a pound, it’s a real workhorse. On the average, it pumps 100,000 times every day, circulating 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of arteries, capillaries, and veins.

No wonder the psalmist declared to the Lord, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made(Psalm 139:14). We’re not here by accident, nor by a process of naturalistic evolution. We are God’s marvelous creation! – Richard W. De Haan

How I praise the great Creator,

Who did make this world so fair;

For I too am His creation,

And I love Him for His care. – Ball

God’s work of creating is done; our work of praising has just begun.

  • August 6, 1988, Our Daily Bread