Good Bad Examples (1 Corinthians 10:6)

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People who have studied the lives of ghetto gang members tell us that only three out of ten still on the streets after 5 years. Of the seven others, four are dead and the three land in jail. The point? Crime decreases one’s chances of survival.

The book of Numbers gives even more startling statistics. About 3 million men, women, and children came out of Egypt. During 38 years of wandering, all died in the wilderness except Joshua, Caleb, and those under 20 at the first census. Why? Because the people, who could have made the journey in less than 3 weeks, didn’t believe God. Unbelief led to sexual immorality, murmuring, lusting, jealousy, and rebellion.

All Christians are capable of committing those same sins. That’s why the apostle Paul cited the Israelites as “good” bad examples. They learned by disobeying God. We can learn by obeying Him. Both paths are difficult. To follow the one leads to regret and wasted years; to follow the other results in a rewarded faith with no regrets. What if we’ve already made some of Israel’s mistakes? There is still hope. We do need God’s discipline, but in His mercy He offers forgiveness and ample grace to live with the consequence of wrong choices. Painful lessons learned can be woven into the fabric of new service and faith. Then we will not become good examples of what is bad. – Dennis J. De Haan

Study Israel’s 38 years of wilderness wanderings (Numbers 10-21). List Israel’s sins (Numbers 11:1; 12:1; 14:1-2; 16:1-16; 16:41; 20:11-12; 21:5). Why did they sin? How can we avoid their failures?

He is wise who learns to obey where others go astray.

  • February 17, 1989, Our Daily Bread

Exalt Him (Psalm 46:10)

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Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations(Psalm 46:10). These words from a song sung long ago at the temple in Jerusalem remind us of one of our main tasks – worshiping our awesome God.

One way to do that is meditate on His many attributes. Exalt God, for He is faithful, eternal, all-knowing, just, unchangeable, gracious, holy, merciful, longsuffering, impartial, and infinite. Our God is perfect.

Exalt God by realizing that He is all-powerful, almighty, personal, righteous, unsearchable, wise, triune, accessible, self-existent, glorious, and compassionate.

Another way to worship God is to contemplate His names. Exalt God, for He is Creator. He is Love. He is Redeemer. He is Shepherd. He is Savior, Lord, and Father. He is Judge. He is Comforter. He is Teacher. He is I AM. Our God is the Mighty One.

Dwell on His identity. God is our shield. Our stronghold. Our light. Our strength. Our sustainer. Our rescuer. Our fortress.

Meditate on God’s attributes. Contemplate His names. Dwell on His identity. Adore Him. Respect Him. Honor Him. Love Him. Exalt Him. Use the rest of your life getting ready to worship our awesome God forever. – Dave Branon

O worship the King,

All glorious above,

And gratefully sing

His power and His love. – Grant

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. – Psalm 150:6

  • February 13, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread

Little Lies and Kittens (Romans 5:21)

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Mom noticed four-year-old Elias as he scurried away from the newborn kittens. She had told him not to touch them. “Did you touch the kittens, Elias?” she asked.

“No!” he said earnestly. So Mom had another question: “Were they soft?”

“Yes,” he volunteered, “and the black one meowed.”

With a toddler, we smile at such duplicity. But Elias’s disobedience underscores our human condition. No one has to teach a four-year-old to lie. “For I was born a sinner,” wrote David in his classic confession, “yes, from the moment my mother conceived me(Psalm 51:5). The apostle Paul said: “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned(Romans 5:12). That depressing news applies equally to kings, four-year-olds, and you and me.

But there’s plenty of hope! “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were,“ wrote Paul. “But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant(Romans 5:20).

God is not waiting for us to blow it so He can pounce on us. He is in the business of grace, forgiveness, and restoration. We need only recognize that our sin is neither cute nor excusable and come to Him in faith and repentance. – Tim Gustafson

Father, be merciful to me, a sinner.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

  • February 15, Vol. 25, Our Daily Bread

Speaking the Truth in Love (2 Timothy 2:24)

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There are times when we must “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). But in doing so, we must never be ungracious or antagonistic. The 17th-century English Puritans were right when they said that faith can never be foisted on another person. Consent must be gained by gentle persuasion and reason.

Today’s Bible reading underscores that principle. Paul told Timothy that “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all(2 Timothy 2:24). He wanted Timothy to be thoughtful and relevant in proclaiming the truth, not defensive. When people opposed the truth, he was to gently correct them in the hope that God would “grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil(vv. 25-26).

What was true for a young leader like Timothy applies to all believers. Those who oppose us are not the enemy but victims of the enemy. They can be delivered, Paul insisted, but we are to speak the truth in love.

Truth without love is dogma that does not touch the heart. Love without truth is sentimentalism that does not challenge the will. When truth is spoken with love, God’s Spirit can use it to change another’s mind. – David Roper

To speak of the Savior in glowing terms,

To tell how He died in our place,

Will be unconvincing to those who hear

If we fail to show forth His grace. – D. J. De Haan

Truth spoken in love is hard to refuse.

  • February 14, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread

Are you Ready to Go? (Luke 12:20)

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A man decided to make all the necessary arrangements for the time he would die. As part of his preparations, he picked out a burial plot and chose the inscription he wanted carved on his headstone. A minister, who knew him well, heard that he was busily preparing for the inevitable day. So he went to his friend and said, “I understand that you’ve done everything you can possibly do to provide a resting place for your body. I wonder, have you given any thought to a resting place for your soul?” Stunned by the question, the man began to realize that he had been so concerned about making provision for every detail of this life that he had completely overlooked the life to come. Right then and there, and with the minister’s help, he placed his trust in Christ for salvation and found rest for all eternity.

Wise is the person who makes that all-important preparation, because everybody will spend eternity somewhere! Those who believe on Christ will enter the place prepared for all who love Him; those who reject Christ and His gracious offer of salvation will go to that terrible place prepared for the devil and his angels. The choice is ours, but it must be made in this life.

No one knows the time of his passing. Perhaps today God will say to you, as He said to the man in Luke 12, “… this night thy soul shall be required of thee. The Bible also says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). Nothing you do on earth is more important than making sure you are ready to go. – Richard W. De Haan

Oh to be ready when death shall come!

Oh to be ready to hasten Home!

And sweetly, gently, to pass away

From earth’s dim twilight and into day. – Anon.

THOT: Only those who are ready to die are ready to live.

  • February 2, 1983, Our Daily Bread

Hyperseeing (1 John 3:2)

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Sculptors have a term for the artist’s ability to look at a rough piece of stone and see it in its final, perfected form. It is called “hyperseeing.”

Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) is the sculptor who created many well-known public works of art. Probably the most famous is Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Borglum’s housekeeper captured the concept of hyperseeing when she gazed up at the massive faces of the four US presidents on Mt. Rushmore for the first time. “Mr. Borglum,” she gasped, “how did you know Mr. Lincoln was in that rock?

Hyperseeing is also a good description of our all-seeing God. He sees all that we are and more. He sees what we shall be when He has completed His work and we stand before Him, holy and without blemish: the exact likeness, the very image of Jesus. The God who started this great work in you will keep at it until He completes it on the very day Jesus Christ appears (see Philippians 1:6).

God will not be denied! He has such a longing for our perfection that nothing can or will remain an obstacle until He has finished the work He began so long ago.

If only … if only we will put ourselves in the Master Sculptor’s hands. – David Roper

Doubt whispers, “Thou art such a blot;

He cannot love poor thee.”

If what I am He lovest not,

He loves what I shall be. – MacDonald

God works in us to grow us into what He wants us to be.

  • February 12, Vol. 22, Our Daily Bread

Freely Forgive (Colossians 3:13)

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Studies by a number of psychologists show that it is not great riches that make people happy, but friends and forgiveness. Commenting on these findings in a USA Today article, Marilyn Elias says, “The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities, and most important, forgive easily.

University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson says that the ability to forgive others is the trait most strongly linked to happiness. He calls it “the queen of all virtues, and probably the hardest to come by.”

An unforgiving spirit is often the last emotional fortress we yield to the power of God. Even as Christians, we may cling to anger and bitterness, feeling that those who have wronged us should suffer for their offenses. But when we realize how much God has forgiven us, we are compelled to extend mercy to others. The Bible urges to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;… even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Colossians 3:12-13).

Forgiveness is God’s command to us and is part of a lie of love, peace, thankfulness, and praise (vv. 14-16). Freely we have been forgiven; let us freely forgive. – David C. McCasland

Lord, help me be kind and forgiving –

Your loving forgiveness You’ve shown

To me for the sins I’ve committed;

Lord, grant me a love like Your own. – Anon.

When it seems you can’t forgive, remember how much you’ve been forgiven.

  • February 2, Vol. 11, Our Daily Bread