Ascension Day (John 16:7)

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Have you ever wondered why Jesus left this earth like a space rocket slowly lifting off, only without the loud roar and billowing smoke? Why not an instantaneous disappearance?

Clive Staples Lewis writes, “Perhaps mere instantaneous vanishing would make us feel more comfortable. A sudden break . . . would worry us less than any . . . short vertical movement and then a vague luminosity . . . and then nothing.”

Jesus chose a visible way to prepare His disciples for the drastic change that was about to occur in their relationship to Him. Their faith had been born and nurtured in a physical acquaintance with Jesus. From now on they would relate to Him in a totally different way. They would experience His invisible presence through the Comforter who would never leave them. So this was His last act to prepare them for what was to come.

Another reason for His visible ascension is that it fixed in the disciples’ hearts a solid hope for the day when He would return “in like manner” (Acts 1:11).

Ascension Day reminds us of these truths. If we’ve trusted Jesus as our Savior, we have the abiding presence of His Spirit and the assurance of one day seeing the Lord face to face. – Dennis J. De Haan

He who came to save us, He who bled and died,

Now is crowned with glory at His Father’s side;

Nevermore to suffer, never more to die,

Jesus, King of glory, is gone up on high. – Havergal

Christ departed so that His Spirit could be imparted.

  • May 9, 1991, Our Daily Bread

The Tragic Flaw (2 Chronicles 26:15)

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In literature, a tragic flaw is a character trait that causes the downfall of a story’s hero. That was true of Uzziah, who was crowned king of Judah at age 16. For many years, he sought the Lord; and while he did, God gave him great success (2 Chronicles 26:4-5). But things changed when “his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction (vv. 15-16).

Uzziah entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar (v. 16), openly defying God’s decree. Perhaps pride convinced him that God’s rules applied to everyone except him. When Uzziah raged against the priests who told him this was not right, the Lord struck him with leprosy (vv. 18-20).

In literature and in life, how often we see a person of good reputation fall from honor into disgrace and suffering. “King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, … cut off from the house of the Lord (v. 21).

The only way we can prevent the nectar of praise from becoming the poison of pride is by following with a humble heart. – David McCasland

Humility’s a slippery prize

That seldom can be won;

We’re only humble in God’s eyes

When serving like His Son. –Gustafson

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. – Proverbs 27:21

  • May 30, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread

Fickle Followers (John 12:15)

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How quickly public opinion can change! When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the Passover feast, He was welcomed by crowds cheering to have Him made king (John 12:13). But by the end of the week, the crowds were demanding that He be crucified (19:15).

I recognize myself in those fickle crowds. I love cheering for a team that’s winning, but my interest wanes when they start losing.  I love being part of a movement that is new and exciting, but when the energy moves to a new part of town, I’m ready to move on. I love following Jesus when He is doing the impossible, but I slink away when He expects me to do something difficult. It’s exciting to follow Jesus when I can do it as part of the “in” crowd. It’s easy to trust Him when He outsmarts the smart people and outmaneuvers the people in power (see Matthew 12:10; 22:15-46). But when He begins to talk about suffering and sacrifice and death, I hesitate.

I like to think that I would have followed Jesus all the way to the cross – but I have my doubts. After all, if I don’t speak would do so in a crowd of His opponents?

How thankful I am that a Jesus died for fickle followers so that we can become devoted followers. – Julie Ackerman Link

For Further Thought

Read these Bible verses and ponder Jesus’ love for you

 (Romans 5:8; Roman 8:37-39; Hebrews 13:5-6, 8; 1 John 3:1).

Allow your devotion to Him to grow.

Christ deserves full-time followers.

  • May 31, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread

The Silver Scrolls (Isaiah 40:8)

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The Bible has been wonderfully and accurately preserved. Copies of portions of the New Testament, dating to within 50 years of the original manuscripts, have been found, and they coincide with what we have today.

A recent archeological report in the science magazine Discovery contained amazing findings about the Old Testament. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts dated about AD 900. The Dead Sea Scrolls, in startling agreement with the Masoretic text, dated to about 150 BC. But now archeologists have discovered a pair of tiny silver scrolls that date back to about 600 BC! While digging at the site of a 5th-century church in Jerusalem, researchers found a Roman legionnaires’ cemetery. Exploring still deeper, they found a small burial cave containing the scrolls. Very carefully, less than a hundredth of an inch at a time, the scrolls were unrolled. On each of them appeared an excerpt from the book of Numbers that included the word Jehovah. And these scrolls date back to the days before the exile to Babylon, earlier than liberal scholars supposed that the Pentateuch had even been written!

Discoveries like that strengthen the faith of Christians already have. But when a secular magazine like Discovery reports such a find, it speaks to a skeptical and disbelieving world as well. In either case, the silver scrolls reaffirm our confidence that the Bible can be trusted as the inspired inerrant Word of God. – David C. Egner

I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever;
For though all things shall pass away,
His World shall stand forever. – Anon.

The Bible dominates the world and challenges the centuries.
– May 27, 1987, Our Daily  Bread

A “Must Read” Book (Acts 8:35)

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Shortly after the novel Gone With The Wind had been published, a young woman sat beside a history professor at a dinner. Trying to make conversation, she asked him if he had read it. “No,” the professor answered. The woman admonished, “You’d better hurry up. It’s been out for 6 weeks.” Then the professor inquired, “Have you read Dante’s Divine Comedy?” “No,” the woman said. The professor responded, “You’d better hurry up. It’s been out 600 years.”

These days, new books dealing with all sorts of subjects pour from printing presses in an overwhelming cascade. Even if we did nothing but read, we couldn’t keep up with the output. So we must discriminate and decide what we’ll read and what we’ll ignore.

But there’s an ancient book we must not ignore. It’s the Bible, God’s inspired Word. For many centuries, it circulated in scrolls and handwritten manuscripts. But ever since Johannes Gutenberg devised the printing press, Scripture has been reproduced in countless forms and editions.

Important as many books are, only the Bible reveals the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:35). Only the Bible teaches us how to please Him. So let’s make sure we give the Bible the priority it deserves. It’s a “must read” book. – Vernon C. Grounds

The Bible is God’s Word to us,

Still fresh through all the ages;

And if we read it we will find

God’s wisdom in its pages. – Sper

Many books can inform, but only the Bible can transform.

  • May 21, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

No Partiality (James 2:1)

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A man attended a church regularly for several months, but he was always ignored. Because no one knew who he was, and he looked out-of-place with his old and worn-out clothes, no one ever took the time to speak to him.

One Sunday as he took a seat in church, he intentionally left his hat on. As the pastor stood on the platform and looked out over the audience, he noticed the man with the hat right away. So he summoned one of the deacons and asked him to tell the man that he forgot to remove his hat. When the deacon spoke to the man, he responded with a big smile and said, “I thought that would do it. I have attended this church for 6 months, and you are the first person who has ever talked to me.

There is no place for prejudice or favoritism in the family of Christ. We who have been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus are equals in God’s sight. And that equality should be evident in the way we treat other believers.

We must be hospitable and courteous to all, regardless of their race, social status or appearance. When we show favoritism, we sin against people whom God loves and for whom Christ died. Let’s be gracious to all and be careful to avoid showing partiality. – Richard W. De Haan

All those who know and love the Lord

Must show by word and deed

That they will not discriminate

But welcome those in need. – D. J. De Haan

Prejudice builds walls; love breaks them down.

  • May 18, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread

Facts or Feelings? (1 John 3:20)

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How colorless life would be without emotion! Think of a party without the spontaneity of laughter, a funeral without the shedding of tears. The music of Bach, Beethoven, and Handel would fall on stoical ears. A magnificent performance by a symphony orchestra would evoke no applause. Emotion is part of life’s texture and in itself is good, but it is not a reliable guide to morals and truth. For that, we must always depend on the Word of God. One popular song says, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right.” That’s dangerous!

It we have trusted Christ as our Savior, certain facts remain constant regardless of our fluctuating moods.

Feeling says, “I am sinful, lost, condemned.”

Fact replies, “We are justified by faith(Romans 5:1).

Feeling says, “I can’t face my responsibilities.”

Fact replies, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me(Philippians 4:13).

Feeling says, “I’m lonely and afraid.”

Fact replies, “I will never leave you(Hebrews 13:5).

The apostle John recognized that feelings can misrepresent facts. He said that loving in deed and in truth is how we know we belong to Christ (1 John 3:18-20). One translation says this is “how we can set our hearts at rest … whenever our hearts condemn us,” or when we feel lost.

God has given us a full range of emotions. But if our feelings run contrary to the truth – that facts of God’s Word – we must not rely on them. – Dennis J. De Haan

Sometimes on the Rock I tremble,

Faint of heart and weak of knee;

But the steadfast Rock of Ages

Never trembles under me. – Anon.

Feelings are no substitute for facts and faith.

  • May 21, 1988, Our Daily Bread