The Scariest Scare (Isaiah 8:13)


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Many people like to be scared, but only in the world of make-believe. They keep going to horror movies, but they don’t like to be faced with legitimate causes for fear. A writer who depicts the threat of communism in Central America is accused of using scare tactics. A Christian leader who dares suggest that some diseases may be God’s judgment on sin is scorned. The general attitude is: “Never say anything about God’s judgment to scare people into doing what is right!”

Isaiah didn’t hesitate to use the element of fear in addressing God’s people. Already afraid of the Assyrians, they accused him of treason because he warned the king against making an alliance with this nation. His response could be paraphrased as follows: “You have far more reason to be afraid of what God will do than of what Assyria will do.” He told them that if they made an alliance with Assyria they would be punished by God. The Almighty would become a rock to cause them to stumble, and a trap to take away their freedom.

The Bible declares that those who reject Jesus and continue in their wicked ways will find God to be their enemy. That’s scary! But if this thought motivates a person to trust Him for salvation, it has served a good purpose. Similarly, if fear causes a Christian to serve the Lord with new zeal, it has fulfilled a positive function. The fear of God is good because it leads to right livingeven if it scares you. – Herbert Vander Lugt

God dwells in light and holiness,

In splendor and in might;

And godly fear of His great power

Can help us do what’s right. – D. J. De Haan

Fear God and you will have nothing else to fear.

  • July 9, 1987, Our Daily Bread

Above All (John 3:31)

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In the mid-1800s, Ralph Waldo Emerson became a leader in a philosophical movement known as “transcendentalism,” which says that truth comes from personal insight. Emerson wrote, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.”

Sadly, Emerson’s faulty thinking took root, and personal thoughts about God replaced God’s thoughts and words about Himself. The Lord said in Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (55:9).

One of ancient Israel’s songwriters expressed God’s greatness this way: “I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Psalm 135:5-6).

Jesus, the image of the invisible God, is the source of all truth (Colossians 1:15-19). John the Baptist said of Him: “He who comes from heaven is above all” (John 3:31).

Only God, the creator of all things, deserves to be called transcendentthat is, above and beyond all things. Contrary to what Emerson concluded, truth comes from above, not from within. – Julie Ackerman Link

No matter how we think and try

To understand the Lord above,

Our thoughts can only amplify

Our need to know His truth and love. – Hess

He is no genius who ignores his Creator.

  • June 7, Vol. 12A, Our Daily Bread

Looking Beyond the Unknown (Hebrews 11:8)

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Life is filled with uncertainty. We don’t know what the next 24 hours will bring. It’s an uncharted course that may include great blessing or tragic loss. Because the future is unknown, it fills many people with fearmaking each new day and circumstances a struggle.

Fear of the unknown has often kept man from moving forward. In the early Middle Ages, for example, European sailors would not sail very far south. They believed that the middle of the earth was ringed with fire, because the farther south they traveled the hotter it became. The same kind of fear kept men from exploring the Atlantic Ocean. A chart that was drawn sometime in the Middle Ages has a painting of a ship turning back into the Mediterranean Sea from the Straits of Gibraltar. Above it appears the Latin phrase Ne Plus Ultra, which means “Nothing more beyond.” Fear of the unknown kept explorers from crossing the Atlantic until Columbus and Ponce De Leon decided to test the horizon.

Fear of the unknown may keep us from making spiritual progress as well. We are afraid of what our neighbor will say if we witness to him. We don’t know how the students will respond if we teach a class. We’re not sure we can pay the bills if we increase our giving. But we must not be afraid to take that step of faith. Like Abraham, who left his homeland for an unknown destination, we can overcome uncertainty by trusting God. He sees beyond the unknown. – David C. Egner

Faith looks beyond the shadow

Of dread and doubt and fear

And finds the Savior waiting

And always standing hear. – French

Those who fear the future are likely to fumble the present.

  • June 10, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Knowing Isn’t Everything (1 Corinthians 8:1)


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No one could accuse the Pharisees of Jesus’ day of being ignorant of the Old Testament. They knew it so well that many of them went around telling others how they should be living. They became proud, arrogant, judgmental religionists (Matthew 23).

I must confess I can relate. After a couple of years of Bible school, I thought I knew everything. I remember making caustic remarks about some statements I heard in sermons. One time I was especially critical of a guest speaker who was filled with enthusiasm but not very well trained. My root problem was pride and a lack of love. I had knowledge but didn’t know how to handle it. It took a rebuke from a fellow Christian to show me that my knowledge was doing more harm than good.

It is good to have Bible knowledge. We need to learn all we can about God’s Word and how it applies to everyday life. But we can become proud of our knowledge. That’s why Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (1 Corinthians 8:1).

When we feel superior to other Christians because of what we know, and when we use what we know to promote ourselves rather than to build others up, we are motivated by pride, not by love.

Lord, Jesus, help us to know and love. – David C. Egner

Christ’s love is not puffed up, unkind;

It gladly will the broken bind,

It envies not, is patient still,

Delights to do the Father’s will. – Stahl

Knowledge minus love makes us proud; knowledge plus love makes us Christlike.

  • June 24, 1992, Our Daily Bread


Ignorance is not Bliss (Hosea 4:6)

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Lack of knowledge can be a killer. Not knowing the danger of electricity can be fatal. Not knowing a bridge has been washed out could result in death. Not knowing the disastrous consequences of rejecting God’s moral standards can destroy individuals and nations. Hosea, God’s spokesman, warned the Israelites that their lack of moral and spiritual knowledge would bring about their doom.

We can’t blame a small child if he picks up a live wire and is electrocuted. The responsibility rests on someone else. But in many instances the lack of knowledge that causes disaster is inexcusable. The multitudes who are destroying themselves and their nations through immoral conduct have no excuse for not knowing that they are courting disaster. They don’t know because they have chosen to close their eyes to truth.

Fifty years ago almost everybody knew marriage to be a sacred institution. They recognized homosexual practices as perversion. They had no problem identifying abortion as a form of murder. But today many people lack moral knowledge in all these areas. The result? Thousands of emotionally scarred children. Unprecedented numbers of suicide. Overcrowded jails. An AIDS epidemic.

Let’s remain open to the Lord and submit to the teaching of His Word. If we do, we will have the moral and spiritual knowledge to protect us from disaster. Ignorance is not bliss. – Herbert Vander Lugt

Blessed Book, God’s living Book,

Through its pages help me look;

May I behold from day to day

New light to guide me in Your way. – McClelland

Using your Bible as a roadmap keeps you off the detours of sin.

  • June 18, Vol. 17, Our Daily Bread

Garlic and Sapphires (James 2:9)

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In her fascinating book Garlic and Sapphires The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, Ruth Reichl reflects on her 6 years as a New York Times restaurant critic. Because she was the most influential critic in the country, top restaurants posted her photograph so their employees could recognize her. Hoping to earn a high rating in the New York Times, the staff intended to provide her with their top service and best cuisine.

In response, Reichl developed a clever strategy. Hoping to be treated as a regular patron, she disguised herself. On one occasion, she dressed up as an old woman. The restaurant made her wait a long time to be seated and then was unresponsive to her requests.

In the early church, James spoke out against favoritism: “[If] you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves?” (2:3-4).

When people attend our churches, are they treated impartially? Or do we show favoritism to the wealthy or elite? God calls us to show concern for and interest in all people, regardless of their social status. Let’s welcome all to join us in worshiping the King! – Dennis Fisher

Dear Lord, You welcomed us into Your kingdom, not because of who we are but because of who You are – our loving and merciful God. Help us to open our arms of fellowship to all who enter in. Amen

God let us into His fellowship. Who are we to keep others out!

  • May 27, Vol. 17, Our Daily Bread

The War is Over! (Ephesians 2:17)

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The bitter conflict had finally been settled between the North and the South. Although the soldiers of the American Civil War were free to return to their families, a number of them remained in hiding in the woods, existing on berries. They either did not hear or did not believe that the war had ended. They continued living under miserable conditions when they could have been back in the comfort and security of their homes.

It’s something like that in the spiritual realm. Christ has made peace between God and man by dying in our place. He has paid sin’s penalty on the cross. By accepting His sacrificial work, anyone can be forgiven by a holy God. Sadly, many people refuse to believe the good news of the gospel and continue to live as spiritual fugitives. And sometimes Christianswe who have placed our trust in Christlive on almost the same level. Either out of ignorance or unwillingness, we fail to appropriate the promises of God’s Word. We do not experience the joy and assurance that should accompany our salvation. We do not draw God’s from our Father-child relationship with God the comfort and peace He intends for us. Although we are the objects of His love, care, and provision, we live as if we were orphans! It’s not enough simply to know God’s promises. We must claim them as our own.

Have you been living apart from the comfort and care of your heavenly father? Come on home! The war is over! – Richard W. De Haan

O wretched man, whoever you are,

Incline your ear and hear;

Why onward go with sin-sick heart’

While Christ our Lord is near? – McLendon

Christ as Savior brings peace with God; Christ as Lord brings the peace of God.

  • June 24, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Open Invitation (Hebrews 4:16)

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Versailles was made the capital of France by King Louis XIV in 1682 and remained the capital (except for a short time) until 1789 when it was moved back to Paris. The beautiful palace of Versailles included an opulent 241-foot-long Hall of Mirrors. When a visitor approached the kind, he had to curtsy every five steps as he walked the entire distance to meet the king sitting on his dazzling silver throne!

Foreign emissaries to France submitted to that humiliating ritual to court the French monarch’s favor toward their country. But contrast, our God, the King of kings, invites His people to come to His throne freely. We can come to Him anytimeno advance appointments and no bowing required!

How grateful we should be that our heavenly Father is so much more inviting!Through [Christ] we … have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). Because of this, the writer of Hebrews urges us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Have you responded to God’s open invitation? Come in awe and gratitude, for the God of this universe is willing to hear your petitions anytime. – C. P. Hia

You need to talk with God today,

Your heart’s bowed down with care;

Just speak the words you have to say –

He’ll always hear your prayer. – Hess

Access to God’s throne is always open.

  • June 22, Vol. 16, Our Daily Bread

Kingdom Greatness (Luke 22:27)

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The measure of greatness in the kingdom of God differs vastly from that of the world. Our society idolizes the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, and the athletic. We even make celebrities out of those who brazenly flaunt their immorality. The world claims it is demeaning to serve others. However, God’s kingdom completely rejects the world’s measure for esteem, giving the greatest honor to the one who serves most. The person who serves selflessly, lovingly, without complaint, and without seeking recognition is highly regarded in the kingdom of God.

When Jesus and His disciples entered the upper room, the disciples looked for a prominent place to sit; Jesus looked for a place to serve. As they awkwardly waited to be served, Jesus took a towel and basin and washed their feet (John 13:1-15). We Christians like to refer to ourselves as servants, but we are seldom content to be treated as servants! We are tempted to adopt the world’s evaluation of importance. But when we look to Jesus as our model, we see that it takes a far more noble character to serve than to be served.

The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you. God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving. If you struggle to be a servant, your heart may have shifted away from the heart of God. Ask Jesus to teach you selfishness and to give you the strength to follow His example. Watch for Jesus’ invitation to join Him in serving others. It will come.

  • June 23,  Experiencing God Daily Devotionals 

The Brevity of Life (Psalm 90:10)

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On October 19, 2008, I heard the news that Levi Stubbs, lead singer for Motown’s vocal group The Four Tops, had died at age 72. As a boy, I enjoyed the Four Tops, especially Stubbs’ emotion-filled, passionate voice. I had never met him or heard the group in concert, yet his passing affected me at an unexpected level.

Behind my sadness, I think, was the reminder that I too am getting older. The death of someone I listened to when I was young reminded me that time isn’t marching onit’s running out!

In the only psalm attributed to Moses, he wrote, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (90:10). Those aren’t words we want to hear. We want to remain forever young, but Scripture reminds us that the years pass and death will one day arrive.

That leaves us to wrestle with two essential questions: Am I ready to “fly away” at life’s end, having trusted Christ as my Savior? And am I using my fleeting days to please the One who loves me eternally?

How are you doing – no matter what your age – with the challenges raised by the brevity of life? – Bill Crowder

Our vigor is fleeting, our best years are brief,

Our youth passes quickly – time’s ever a thief;

But hope yet becomes us – death’s sting holds no power;

We have a Redeemer – an unfailing Tower. – Gustafson

You can’t control the length of your life, but you can control its depth.

  • June 20, Vol. 17, Our Daily Bread