Making Bad People Good (1 Peter 2:24)

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Counseling, mood-altering drugs, psychosurgery, and other forms of therapy are often needed and are helpful in curing people of emotional disorders. But these treatments can’t make them good. Charles Colson tells of a frustrated prison psychiatrist who exclaimed, “I can cure a person’s madness, but not his badness.To do that calls for getting to the heart of the problem – sin.

The only way to make bad people good is to expose them to the gospel. Even Charles Darwin, the man who contributed so much to evolutionistic thinking, admitted this. He wrote to a minister: “Your services have done more for our village in a few months than all our efforts for many years. We have never been able to reclaim a single drunkard, but through your services I do not know that there is a drunkard in the village!” Later Darwin visited the island of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. What he found among the people was horrifying – savagery and bestiality almost beyond description. But when he returned after a missionary had worked among the people, he was amazed at the change in them. He acknowledged that the gospel does transform lives. In fact, he was so moved by what he saw that he contributed money to the mission until his death.

Today’s text reminds us that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross not only paid sin’s penalty but also broke its power. The apostle Paul, listing some terrible sins, wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “… such were some of you; but ye are washed.Praise God! Jesus does make bad people good. – Herbert Vander Lugt

Heavy is the load of guilt

That sinners have to bear;

Light and easy is the yoke

That Jesus wants to share. – D. J. De Haan

God formed us; sin deformed us; Christ transforms us.

  • January 25, 1985, Our Daily Bread

Do All the Good You Can (Titus 2:14)

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At the church I attend, the Sunday morning service closes with a song based on John Wesley’s words. We sing, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, to everyone you can, as long as you ever can – do all the good you can.” I’ve come to appreciate these words as a fitting challenge to live like Jesus, who “went about doing good (Acts 10:38).

In Paul’s letter to Titus, there are several references to doing good. We are told that a church leader is to be “a lover of what is good (1:8). Christians are to be “zealous for good works (2:14) and “ready for every good work (3:1). Believers must “maintain good works (3:8).

People everywhere are hungry for the reality of a personal touch from God, and we as Christians can do something about that. The wonderful gift of the love of Christ, which was given to us when we trusted in Him as our Savior, was never intended to be kept to ourselves. It should break out in acts of love, kindness, help, and healing wherever we are and in everything we do.

It’s a great theme song for every Christian every day – “Do all the good you can.” – David C. McCasland

Follow with reverent steps the great example

Of Him whose holy work was doing good;

So shall the wide earth seem our Father’s temple,

Each loving life a psalm of gratitude. – Whittier

Count that day lost in which you’ve not done something good for another.

  • January 16, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Appreciated (Matthew 26:13)

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The heroes and heroines of the Bible often take us by surprise. The woman in today’s Scripture reading is a prime example. She was singled out by Jesus to be mentioned wherever the gospel is preached. She had scandalized some of those dining with Jesus by her breathtaking generosity. In anticipating Jesus’ death, she had anointed Him with costly perfume that was worth than a year’s wages.

Why this waste?” asked those at the table who expressed a concern for the poor. Had these same people been attending Jesus’ funeral rather than a dinner with Him, I believe they would have reacted differently. Yet, when this woman showed Him her lavish love while He was alive, she was severely criticized for such waste.

We can learn a valuable lesson from the devotion of this woman. We need to break out our best perfumes for the living. Yet all too often we wait until someone dies to show the appreciation that we are reluctant to show in life.

Is there someone who comes to your mind, a friend or family member, who would be honored and encouraged by an expression of your love and appreciation? Then do something to show it – while the person is still alive! – Haddon W. Robinson

Give praise to people young and old,

Encourage them while they are near;

For when they’ve gone to their reward,

The loudest praise they will not hear. – D. J. De Haan

Forget yourself for others and others will not forget you.

  • January 23, 1993, Our Daily Bread

Needs or Wants? (Matthew 6:32)

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God promises that He will provide that basics of life – food and clothing. Once we have accepted this, we have laid the foundation for genuine contentment.

In his book God’s Psychiatry, Charles L. Allen tells this story: “As World War II was drawing to a close, the Allied armies gathered up many hungry orphans. They were placed in camps where they were well-fed. Despite excellent care, they slept poorly. They seemed nervous and afraid. Finally, a psychologist came up with the solution. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold after he was put to bed…. This particular piece of bread was just to be held – not eaten. The piece of bread produced wonderful results. The children went to bed knowing instinctively they would have food to eat the next day. That guarantee gave the children a restful and contented sleep.

For most of us, the refrigerator and the cupboard contain enough food for tomorrow’s meals. Yet, like those children, we still feel a gnawing anxiety. Why is this? Either we’ve not trusted the promises of God or we think we need more than we have. We have substituted desire for need and need for desire. Even the promise, “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart (Psalm 37:4), must not be understood as an unconditional promise that will give us whatever we want. We must first delight ourselves in Him. Then our desires will be in line with what He desires to give us – that will bring us true contentment. – Dennis J. De Haan

In You, O Lord, I take delight,

My every need You will supply;

O long to do what’s true and right,

So, Lord, on You I will rely. – D. J. De Haan

Contentment comes not so much from greater wealth as from fewer wants.

  • January 22, 1985

A Life That Satisfies (Mark 8:35)

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In his book Facing Loneliness, J. Oswald Sanders writes, “The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache…. The millionaire is usually a lonely man, and the comedian is often more unhappy that his audience.

Sanders goes on to emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction.  Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about.

Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said “only grasped a shadow.”

After evaluating his life’s goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, “Lord, let me burn out for You.” In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages. These notable achievements were certainly not passing “shadows.

Real fulfillment comes in following Christ. A life lived fully for the Lord is a life that truly satisfies. – Richard W. De Haan

If we commit ourselves to Christ

And follow in His way,

He’ll give us life that satisfies

With purpose for each day. – Sper

A fulfilled life is a life full of love for the Lord and others.

  • January 21, 1994, Our Daily Bread

The Inevitable God (Psalm 10:16)

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It happened again! A mountain in Mexico that had lain dormant for a very long time suddenly came alive. It erupted with so much that it became the world’s largest active volcano. The 7300-foot El Chichon giant had been quiet for hundreds of years before its explosive reawakening. It was reminder of Mount St. Helens, which broke its long silence in 1980 when it transformed its majestic snow-covered peak and placid Spirit Lake into dust and vapor. In each case it was kind of disruption that was unexpected. The people near the mountains had lived in complacency, never anticipating such drastic changes.

These events represent all the unforeseen and unplanned-for changes in history that have occurred since David wrote the 10th Psalm. They remind us of the shattered security and pride of ungodly men and women in generations past who thought their evil ways would never catch up with them. They were preoccupied with the present and resisted the lessons of history. Yet, like the wicked referred to in today’s Scripture, they had to face the fact that sooner or later they would have to answer to God.

Maybe you think that God is inactive, and that the present is reinforced with concrete and steel. But that’s the way it seems. Time always catches up with man. Every sinner will someday face his own kind of exploding mountain. The once seemingly stable foundations of life will then give way to God’s power and judgment. God remains the inevitable God. – Martin R. De Haan II

They shall not pass the final test

Who live for self today;

For God sees all, and He will judge

The evildoer’s way! – H. G. Bosch

THOT: God is the great inescapable One – He must be embraced now in grace or faced later in judgment.

  • January 20, 1983

Sour Grapes (1 Corinthians 13:4)

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A huge diamond was on display at Cartier’s Fifth Avenue Store in New York. This perfect 69.42 carat stone was purchased for over a million dollars. Large crowds came to view it, and many interesting comments were made. One man remarked, “They said it was perfect, but I see a flaw.” A woman said disparagingly, “It isn’t really that beautiful.” Another concluded, “It’s too large.” Someone else commented, “I think it’s vulgar.”

A guard at the store, hearing many such comments, observed, “I’ve heard more sour grapes in the last 2 days than in my whole life!

Isn’t it strange how jealousy makes people speak with authority on matters that others spend much of their life mastering! And how boldly jealous people express their negative opinions!

Jealousy is a problem that most of us struggle with at some time. When we meet someone more fortunate than we – someone who is enjoying greater success, popularity, and accomplishments – we may feel inferior and resentful. We become critical and make snide remarks, trying to build ourselves up by tearing others down. Those are sure signs of jealousy.

Got sour grapes? Replace bitter envy with the sweetener of love (1 Corinthians 13:4). It works. – Richard W. De Haan

Let me not envy all my neighbors

As they bring home the fruits of their labors;

I’d like to share their joy full measure

And be sincere about my pleasure. – Vandergrift

When you turn green with envy you are ripe for trouble.

  • January 17, 1992, Our Daily Bread

A Spinning Top (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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Many people are burning themselves out in a furious round of activity that they think will gain them entrance into heaven. They join civic organizations, help the poor, volunteer for service projects, and become involved in church functions – all for the purpose of earning God’s favor. Tragically, they do not realize that all efforts to earn God’s approval are wasted. Salvation is a gift of God to those who accept Christ by faith.

Festo Kivengere, an outstanding African Christian leader, told of his experience as follows: “My life was life a spinning top. I worked, I played. I worked. The cycle went around, and the more humdrum it become, the speedier it got – spinning like a top. You know the problem of a spinning top – it has a very big head and a very thin base. It can’t stand up unless it’s spinning. And a top just spins around itself – that’s all. My life was exactly like that. I was just running faster and faster, thinking that the faster I ran the more lively life would become. How wrong!” Then something wonderful happened to that African leader. A friend who was a new Christian told him the story of salvation and how his sins could be forgiven. “That day God smashed my heart open and introduced me to the living reality of Jesus Christ, who entered in,” concluded Kivengere. “My top stopped spinning, and He gave me direction that lasts through eternity.

How about you? Is your life a hectic round of activity, while your heart is still unsatisfied? Then open it to Christ. He saves all who trust in Him. – David C. Egner

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make who whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus. – Lowry

THOT: Salvation is GIVEN, not GAINED.

  • January 18, 1983, Our Daily Bread

Tell it First to Jesus! (Matthew 14:12)

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When the wicked King Herod had John the Baptist beheaded, the disciples of that wilderness preacher had to find an outlet for their deep sorrow. So they thought of the one Person who would be most interested, and immediately they sought His sympathetic ear. The Bible says in Matthew 14:12 that they “went and told Jesus.” We too need to realize that when we are faced with grief of confusion, we must go at once to the Savior and unburden our hearts.

Mrs. Oswald Chambers once said of her husband, “Like all teachers of forceful personality, he constantly had people longing to pour out their intimate troubles to him. I remember at the close of one meeting a close came up to him with the words, ‘Oh, Mr. Chambers, I feel I must tell you about myself.’ As he led her away to a quiet corner, I resigned myself to long wait; but he was back again in a few minutes. As we went home, I remarked on the speed with which he managed to free himself, and he replied, ‘I just asked her if she had ever told God all about herself. When she said hadn’t, I advised her to go home and pour out before Him as honestly as she could all her troubles, the see if she still needed or wanted to relate them to me.’” Chambers knew the importance of going directly to Jesus when faced with a special need or a trying situation.

Many a burden would be lifted if we would immediately confide in the Lord and prayerfully seek to discover the answer to our problems in His Word. Are you distressed and troubled? Tell your troubles first to Jesus! – Henry G. Bosch

Are you weary, are you heavy-hearted?

Tell to Jesus, tell it to Jesus;

Are you grieving over joys departed?

Tell it to Jesus alone. – Rankin

THOT: When you’re sick at heart, talk it over with the Great Physician – no appointment necessary.

  • January 16, 1983, Our Daily Bread

Nothing but the Truth (Proverbs 12:22)

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Years ago I read some unusual and humoring explanations for auto accidents. The following are just a few that people submitted to an insurance company.

An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car, and vanished.”

I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.”

The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.”

The telephone pole was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.”

The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”

The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.”

These “excuses” may bring a smile, and some were probably meant to. But they also remind us how prone we are to shade the facts, especially when it works to our advantage. The book of Proverbs tells us that “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord (12:22).

So let’s be careful at all times to speak the truth – and nothing but the truth! – Richard W. De Haan

Deceit at first may have its sweets,

But these are brief, decaying,

So speak the truth as God directs,

For all your words He’s weighing! – Bosch

A lie is a coward’s attempt to get out of trouble.

  • January 16, Vol. 11, Our Daily Bread