Working on the Inside (2 Corinthians 4:16)

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It was a typical summer Sunday evening service. People were scattered throughout the 500-seat auditorium. There was a testimony time, and several people spoke up, sharing from their hearts what God had done.

 Then Buddy stood and talked. He was grateful that he could be in church. When he told us that even though he didn’t have a ride he was glad he was able to walk the mile or so to church, you could hear the others response in surprise. On this Sunday night when so many had found reasons to stay away from church, Buddy had come alone, one dark step at a time. Buddy is blind.

 We can learn a lot from him. He struggles to do things we can do with little effort, but often neglect. He is more aware perhaps than those of us without physical disabilities that “our outward man is perishing” (2 Corinthians 4:16), so he works hard at feeding his “inward man” by meeting with other believers. He knows what the apostle Paul knew: It is only through strong reliance on the Lord that we can succeed in our Christian life.

Buddy did not lose hear when he had to walk to church in his blindness. May his example help us to stop letting outward things halt our inner growth. – J. David Branon

 If we seek His hand to guide us

And His power to make us strong,

He will help us fight life’s battles

And will fill our heart with song. – Stott

 Discipleship requires discipline.

  • June 26, 1994, Our Daily Bread 

Let’s Take a Break! (Mark 6:31)

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Rest, relaxation, and recreation are essential if we are to function properly in a highly structured, tension-filled world. It’s foolish to think we can do our best work with nerves taut and frayed from being constantly under pressure. When His disciples returned from a strenuous preaching mission, He didn’t hustle them back on the road again. Instead, He invited them to come with Him into a quiet place where they could be refreshed.

 According to tradition, when the apostle John was overseer in Ephesus, his hobby was raising pigeon. It is said that on one occasion an elder passed his house as he returned from hunting. When he saw John playing with one of his birds, he gently chided him for spending his time so frivolously. John looked at the man’s bow and remarked that the string was loose. “Yes,” said the elder, “I always loosen the string of my bow when it’s not in use. If it stayed tight, it would lose its rebounding quality and fail me in the hunt.” “And I,” said John, “am now relaxing the bow of my mind so that I may be better able to shoot the arrows of divine truth.”

 What a needed lesson for the conscientious Christian! Hobbies, vacations, wholesome recreation, and above all a daily quiet time are vital to a well-balanced, godly life. Let’s not dishonor our Lord by keeping the string of our lives so tight through worry and too much activity that we are always on edge. If we can’t seem to relax, Jesus may be inviting us to take a break – with Him. – Dennis J. De Haan

 If our body, soul, and spirit

Are to function at their best,

Time is needed of renewal,

Time for leisure, time for rest. – D. J. De Haan

 If Christians do not come apart and rest awhile, they may just plain come apart! – Havner

  • June 20, 1985, Our Daily Bread 

“Apatheists“ (Revelation 3:16)

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Most people profess belief in God, meaning they are theists. True atheism is a rarity.

Recently, however, it has been suggested that we need a new term for the multitude who are theists but are indifferent to God in daily living. They ought to be called apatheists. That word is built on the noun apathy when means “indifference,” a sort of sluggish concern. And sadly, whatever belief an individual professes, he may be living as an apatheist. His faith may make only a minimal difference in his behavior.

The apostle John recorded that Jesus described the church at Laodicea as neither hot nor cold (Revelation 3:16). They were lukewarm or, as we might say, they were apatheists.

What about those of us who profess faith in Jesus? Are we lukewarm? We pray, but is our praying a mere obligation? We attend church and may even engage in some form of Christian service. Yet is all of that a matter of routine, like brushing our teeth or cleaning our house? Have we lost our first love, the zeal we had early in our spiritual journey?

Today, let’s make the psalmist’s prayer our own: “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6). – Vernon C. Grounds

 Revive us again,

Fill each heart with Thy love,

May each soul be rekindled

With fire from above. – Mackay

 Without a heart aflame for God, we cannot shine for Jesus.

  • June 21, Vol. 11, Our Daily Bread 

How to Know There’s a God (Hebrews 11:6)

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An atheist said to a Quaker, “Have you ever seen God? Have you ever felt God? Have you ever smelled God? And you say you have a God!

 After a long pause, the Quaker replied, “Hast thou ever seen thy brains? Hast thou ever felt thy brains? Hast thou ever smelled thy brains? And thou sayest thou hast brains!

There probably are very few atheiststhose who have seriously thought about life and concluded that there is no God. There are more agnosticsthinking people who say, “I don’t know.” The vast majority of individuals, however, affirm – at least intellectually – that God exists.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that recognizing God’s existence is the first step to knowing Him personally. Then we must seek Him and believe that He will reward our quest to know Him.

Our search will ultimately lead us to consider Jesus. He declared, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). He also said that the person who desires to obey God will recognize the He, Jesus spoke the truth (7:17).

You or someone you know may be at step one: recognizing that God exists. Remember, the Lord rewards those who earnestly seek to know Him. And a personal relationship with Him comes only through faith in Christ. – Dennis J. De Haan

 I searched with all my heart to know

If God was really there;

He graciously revealed Himself –

His mercy, love, and care. – Bierema

 If you’re looking for God, you’ll find Him in Christ.

  • June 27, 1994, Our  Daily Bread

Hidden Mysteries (2 Kings 6:16)

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Most of what goes on in the universe we never see. Many things are too small or move too fast or even too slow for us to see. Using modern technology, however, filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg is able to show stunning video image of some of those things – a caterpillar’s mouth, the eye of a fruit fly, the growth of a mushroom.

 Our limited ability to see the awesome and intricate detail of things in the physical world reminds us that our ability to see and understand what’s happening in the spiritual realm is equally limited. God is at work all around us doing things more wonderful than we can imagine. But our spiritual vision is limited and we cannot see them. The prophet Elisha, however, actually got to see the supernatural work that God was doing. God also opened the eyes of his fearful colleague so he too could see the heavenly army sent to fight on their behalf (2 Kings 6:17).

 Fear makes us feel weak and helpless and causes us to think we are alone in the world. But God has assured us that His Spirit in us is greater than any worldly power (1 John 4:4).

 Whenever we become discouraged by the evil we can see, we need to think instead about the good work God is doing that we cannot see. – Julie Ackerman Link

 Lord, I’m tempted to fear what I cannot understand or control. But my security rests in You and not in what happens to me or around me. Help me to rest in Your unfailing love.

Eyes of faith see God in everything.

  • June 26, Vol. 23, Our Daily Bread 

Rich Man Poor Man (Luke 16:19-20)

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Most Americans tend to believe that a person’ social status reveals his true worth. In their judgment, if someone is very poor, it’s probably because he doesn’t deserve anything better. At least that’s what John E. Tropman, a University of Michigan professor, found in a study he conducted. The majority of the people he interviewed felt that the lowest-class Americans are at the bottom of the ladder because they waste their time and are too lazy to work. But the professor said that such a generalization is unfair. It overlooks the fact that more than half of the nation’s citizens whose annual earnings fall below the government’s poverty level hold down jobs.

The Bible agrees with Tropman’s view. Scripture says we cannot judge someone’s character on the basis of his financial worth. He may be penniless and still possess true wealth. Lazarus, for instance, was a beggar in this life, but he entered eternity to join the company of Abraham. His social standing before death bore no relationship to his association after death. This suggests that someone who must depend on charity doesn’t forfeit his worth and dignity as a person.

How careful we need to be in our attitude toward the poor! Any number of valid reasons may explain why some people live in poverty, just as there are good reasons for others being wealthy. This fact, along with the account of the rich man and the poor man in Luke 16, should be enough to dispel the idea that what we possess is a true measure of what we are worth. – Martin R. De Haan II

 He possessed all the world had to give him,

He had reached every coveted goal;

But, alas, his life was a failure,

For he had forgotten his soul. – Denison

 We are not made rich by what is in our pockets but by what is in our hearts.

  • June 17, 1985, Our Daily Bread 

A Way That Seems Right (Proverbs 16:25)

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Things are not always what they seem. Proverbs warns that we can be deceived into believing we are going down the right path and yet be heading toward death, the opposite direction from God’s will. People do not naturally seek God or pursue righteousness (Romans 3:10-18). Only as the Spirit awakens our hearts to the Person of Christ are we able to desire God’s will. If we make decisions apart from the guidance of the Spirit of God, we will be like ship trying to sail without a compass. We will do what makes the most sense, based on our own wisdom. But what looks attractive may actually lead to sin, ultimately destroying what is precious to us, for our most profound human thinking is mere foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 1:18-20). Only God knows the way that leads to life, and He wants to lead us to walk in it (Matthew 7:13-14)

Don’t assume every opportunity that arises is from God. Satan will disguise himself as an  “angel of light,” and his invitations will seem to be in your best interest (2 Corinthians 11:14). Yet his way leads only to death (John 8:44). The Word of God will be like a light to your path, guiding you in the ways of righteousness (Psalm 119:105).

It can be perilous to follow the path that seem right without first consulting the Holy Spirit’s direction when you face decisions. He knows the full ramification of your choices. The Holy Spirit will assist you to understand truth and to experience abundant life. Trust Him as He leads you.

  • June 18, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals