Familiarity Breeds Contempt (Mark 6:4)

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Nearly 500 years have passed since Columbus discovered America by supposedly “sailing over the edge of the earth.” This controversial explorer believed that the east side of the world could be reached by going west. His Italian compatriots gave little credence to such a radical idea. They resented this obscure dreamer who dared to presume himself wiser than all the rest of mankind. The “local reject,” however, soon left his homeland and claimed a new world for the Spanish empire that had underwritten his expeditions.

Much like the countrymen of Columbus, the people of Jesus day were offended by the Savior and His ministry. They discounted our Lord’s astonishing wisdom and power by remaining themselves that He was merely a hometown laborer. Disdainfully they said, “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary? (Mark 6:3). How could they bow down to someone so opinionated who had grown up in their own neighborhood?

We too can easily take for granted the people with whom we are most familiar. Often those closest to us are starved for the attention and consideration we so freely lavish on casual acquaintances. Oh, how we should realize that the most important people in the world to us are our friends and the members of our own household! Although they may never achieve fame, they still deserve our highest esteem. Don’t wait until they go away to appreciate them! – Martin R. De Haan II

 May we never take for granted

All the folks we know the best;

They are on oft the very people

By whose lives we’re truly blest. – D. J. De Haan

 He is a fool who fawns over strangers, feuds with his friends, and fails his own family.

  • August 7, 1987, Our Daily Bread 
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“Looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2)

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The church at Corinth was headed for trouble. Problems had arisen because they were aligning themselves with human leaders. Their focus was no longer on Christ, but on their favorite preachers and teachers. In his letter to the believers, the apostle Paul pleaded with them to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind” (1 Corinthians 1:10). He knew how dangerous it was to exalt men above God.

This problem has plagued churches down through the ages. I am reminded of a n incident Lyman Beecher Stowe wrote about in his book, Saints, Sinners, and Beechers. Stowe told that on one occasion Thomas K. Beecher substituted for his famous brother Henry Ward Beecher at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Many curiosity seekers had come to hear the renowned Henry Beecher speak. Therefore, when Thomas Beecher appeared in the pulpit instead, some of the people got up and started for the doors. Sensing they were disappointed because he was substituting for his brother, Thomas Beecher raised his hand for silence and announced. “All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church; all those who came to worship God may remain.”

A sure way for Christians to become discouraged to idolized some great individual, for even spiritual giants have their weaknesses and will fall short when put to the exacting test of perfection. The example of godly leaders is helpful, but only the Savior is worthy of our worship and devotion. Let’s always keep “looking unto Jesus. – Henry G. Bosch

Jesus only let me see,
Jesus only, none save He;
This my theme shall ever be –
Jesus! – Jesus only! – Smith

Following a human leader may lead to a sidetrack; following Jesus keeps us on the right track.
– August 18, 1985, Our Daily Bread

Living Like an Atheist? (Psalm 14:1)

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A Gallup poll taken in 1993 indicates that only about 4 percent of the world’s population are atheists.

But in reality, far more than 4 percent of the people in the world behave as if there is no God. They don’t deny His existence with their lips, but they do in their hearts and lives. They are like the fools described in Psalm 14 who deliberately ignore God because they do not want to turn from their self-centered ways of living and obey Him instead.

This denial of God occurs today even among those who acknowledge the miraculous survival and growth of the church in countries where there has been terrible persecution. But instead of recognizing this as a strong reason to take God seriously, they reject the gospel and live by the values of the world.

The best way to avoid acting like an atheist is to practice godliness. We who know Christ must cultivate a deep gratitude to the Lord for His salvation and exemplify purity, honesty, and confidence in His goodness. As practicing Christians, we are to be salt and light in our world (Matthew 5:13-16). When we are, Jesus said we will feel lead others to “glorify [our] Father in heaven” (v. 16). – Herbert Vander Lugt

Lord, may our lips and lives express
The blessed gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine
And speak of Him who is divine. – Anon.

As the salt of the earth, Christians should make others thirst for the water of life.
– August 17, 1994, Our Daily Bread

No Dead Ends (Hebrews 11:8)

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Faith is not a leap in the dark. It is moving ahead with confidence in God. Because He knows “the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), we can rest assured that obeying Him will never lead us to a dead end. When our pathway seems blocked, God will open the way.

Frank William Boreham told of a trip he took in a small boat up a river in Australia. He said, “A canoe glided ahead of us. Presently the waters seemed to come to an end. It looked as if we had reached the head of a lake. Our progress appeared to be barred. We watched the canoe, which – to our astonishment – simply vanished! The banks seemed to swallow it up. We rowed on until we came to the point at which the canoe had so mysteriously disappeared. There we saw a sudden twist in the river artfully concealed by the tangle of bush.” The way opened up for the boaters – but only after they had proceeded to what appeared to be a dead end.

Perhaps you are facing a seemingly insurmountable difficulty, and you can’t find a way around it. Take courage. If you’ve put your trust in the Lord, you won’t be abandoned. Although you don’t know what’s ahead, God does. So keep going. Keep trusting. On ahead there’s a bend in the river – a way through.

What adventure awaited Abraham when he left his homeland! How much he would have lost if he had not trusted God! We too can move ahead because with God there are no dead ends. – Paul R. Van Gorder

 Dear Jesus, teach me always

To lift my eyes above;

And when Your hand is hidden,

To trust Your changeless love. – Anon.

 True faith is not believing that God can, it is knowing that He will.

  • August 8, 1987 , Our Daily Bread

The Meaning of Humility (1 Peter 5:5)

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The 19th-century South African pastor Andrew Murray wrote some words that have convicted and challenged me often. He said, “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary’s cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit.

No sooner do we as Christians think we’ve attained some degree of humility than the Lord shows us through a humiliating experience or a reversal of circumstances how deep-seated our pride really is. John Henry Jowett told of a camp meeting where he was to speak. He said, “At the beginning of the service, prayer was offered for me. It opened with this inspired supplication: ‘O Lord, we thank You for our brother – now blot him out!’“ Yes, unless we are willing to be “blotted out” so that Christ may be seen through us, we will not experience the full blessing of the Lord in our lives.

 The more we get to know God and our own heart, the more we see our need for true humility. – Henry B. Bosch

 When all is done, renounce your pride,

Self-praise and boasting scorn;

So shall you glorify the Lord,

And this God’s name adorn. – Anon.

 Humility is a strange thing – when you think you have it, you haven’t.

  • August 15, 1987, Our Daily Bread 

Einstein and Jesus (John 8:12)

 

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We remember Albert Einstein for more than his disheveled hair, big eyes, and witty charm. We know him as the genius and physicist who changed the way we see the world. His famous formula of E=mc² revolutionized scientific thought and brought us into the nuclear age. Through his “Special Theory of Relativityhe reasoned that since everything is the universe is in motion, all knowledge is a matter of perspective. He believed that the speed of light is the only constant by which we can measure space, time, or physical mass.

Long before Einstein, Jesus talked about the role of light in understanding our world, but form a different perspective. To support His claim to be the Light of the World (John 8:12), Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth (9:6). When the Pharisees accused Christ of being a sinner, this grateful man said, “Whether he is a sinner of not, I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind but now I see” (v. 25).

While Einstein’s ideas would later be proven difficult to test, Jesus’ claims can be tested. We can spend time with Jesus in the Gospels. We can invite Him into our daily routine. We can see for ourselves that He can change our perspective on everything. – Mart De Haan

Lord, Jesus, You are the one constant in this chaotic world. Thank You for being the one true light that the darkness never extinguish.

Only as we walk in Christ’s light can be live in His love.

August 14, Vol. 23

Not a Myth (1 Corinthians 15:6)

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I’m fascinated with history, so I eagerly watched a television special on England’s great King Arthur. A theme surfaced as each historian acknowledge that there were no eyewitness accounts nor historical evidence to support the story of King Arthur, his knights, and their Round Table. Repeatedly, the story was referred to as “legend” or “mythology.” It appears that the story is merely a legend woven together over centuries from fragments of other stories.

The good news of the gospel, however, is not rooted in mythology or legend but in verified fact, and it’s the greatest story ever told. Paul wrote that the most important event in human history – the resurrection of Jesus Christ – is supported by actual eyewitnesses. While listing disciples who had seen the risen Christ, Paul punctuated the list of eyewitnesses by writing, “After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remains to the present, but some have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:6). At the time of Paul’s writing, many of those witnesses were still alive and available for questioning.

The resurrection of Christ is not a myth. It is the factual pivot-point of history. – Bill Crowder

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign. – Lowry

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested fact of ancient history. – Arnold
– July 29, Vol. 20, Our Daily Bread