Fatal Assumption (Numbers 14:3)

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Tragedy can occur if we assume that a situation is hopeless when it is not. An East Detroit man made such a mistake. Thinking that he had contracted Lyme disease, he assumed that it was contagious and fatal, and the had passed it along to his wife.

Of course, Lyme disease is neither contagious nor fatal. But because he assumed it was, he shot his wife while she was asleep and then took his own life. According to The Detroit News, police said the man left a note saying he felt that this was the only way out of their desperate situation.

Israel made a similar tragic mistake. Time after time God’s people assumed that the Lord had led them into a blind alley of despair, and that they no longer had any good choices left. Over and over they made the mistake of thinking that bad circumstances amounted to a hopelessly fatal situation. The result was that they chose desperate courses of action that resulted in the loss of their own lives of their families as well.

We need to learn from Israel’s mistakes. As long as we have the ability to think and make choices, we have hope. As long as we have an opportunity to trust the Lord and wait on Him, we have an opportunity to see His ability to rescue us. – Martin R. De Haan II

The Christian’s hope is in the Lord,
He rests secure in His sure Word;
And though he’s tempted to despair,
He does not doubt that God is there. – D. J. De Haan

When life looks hopeless, look to the God of hope.
– July 31, 1990, Our Daily Bread

The Power of Meekness (Isaiah 30:15)

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Niagara Falls is one of the spectacular sights I have ever seen. The roar of 6 million cubic feet of water each minute makes it the most powerful waterfall in North America. Few people, however, know that more than 50 percent of the river’s water is diverted before it reaches those falls via four huge tunnels. This water passes through hydroelectric turbines that supply power to nearby areas in the US and Canada before returning to the river well past the Falls.

Some would love to have others think of their lives like Niagara Falls – wild, spectacular, and loud. But power without control dissipates into useless energy. Moses thought he could use his royal power to bring about deliverance for God’s people from slavery. He misused his power by killing an Egyptian, which only dissipated his power because he lost the respect of his own people (Exodus 2:11-15). God had to teach him meekness (Numbers 12:3).

The meek prosper because they are the ones who have power under control. Our Lord said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). You may be trying to live in this world by your own power. Let God teach you meekness so that you can live in and depend on His strength. – C. P. Hia

 We strive to do the will of God

And struggle to succeed;

But we may fail to recognize

God’s strength is what we need. – D. J. De Haan

 Nothing is stronger than strength under God’s control.

  • July 24, Vol. 15, Our Daily Bread

False Predictions (Matthew 24:3)

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News that a solar eclipse would take place in July 22, 2009, brought an alarming prediction. It was predicted that the eclipse would sufficiently affect gravitational pull, causing tectonic plates to “pop a seam,” resulting in a sizable earthquake and a subsequent devastating tsunami in Japan. The US Geological Survey responded that no scientists “have ever predicted a major earthquake. They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how, anytime in the foreseeable future.”

There have also been many false predictions about the date of Christ’s second coming – despite our Lord’s emphatic words: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Christ told His followers that instead of trying to predict the date of His return, they should “watch (v. 42) and “be ready (v. 44).

Peter warned, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief.” Then he added: “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives(2 Peter 3:10-11).

Striving to live for God – that’s what Jesus wants us to focus our energy on while we wait for that “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). – C. P. Hia

When someone says, “I can discern

Exactly when Christ will return,”

Don’t be deceived or led astray –

The Lord said we can’t know the day. – Sper

Look for Christ’s return, and you’ll live for Christ’s glory.

  • July 8, Vol. 17, Our Daily Bread

The Right Stuff (1 Corinthians 3:11)

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“David, I missed you in class today.” I told one of my college students when we ran into each other in the Information Services office. He gave me that stunned “freshman in the first week of college” look, and then it struck him – he had misread his schedule and had gone to the wrong class.

The funny thing was, there were two grammar labs – mine, and another professor’s – and he had attended the wrong one. I told him, “That’s okay. You were getting the right information, so I won’t count you absent.”

As I thought about it, I concluded that this is a little like the options many Christians have regarding the churches they attend. They key factor is to attend a church where the right information is shared – where salvation through Jesus Christ is preached (1 Corinthians 15:3-5), where the Bible is the standard for faith and practice, and where an opportunity to serve in Jesus’ name is provided. It’s important that the message proclaims the true gospel and the historical message of Jesus not a “different gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). It’s not the messenger that’s most important; it’s the message.

What “gospel” are you hearing? Is it built on the foundation of Jesus Christ? (1 Corinthians 3:11). – Dave Branon

A guilty sinner needs to hear
The simple gospel true and clear
That tells how Jesus bled and died,
And for man’s sin was crucified. – D. J. De Haan

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord.
– July 8, Vol. 14, Our Daily Bread

Music Power (Psalm 108:3)

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In the early 1970s, Brazilians found themselves singing and humming catchy tunes that urged patriotism, the work ethic, cleanliness, and other national goals. According to a report that appeared in The Calgary Herald, propaganda was not new in Brazilian politics, but foreign and local observers agreed that it had never before been used so skillfully.

The whole campaign was run by a soft-sell agency called the Special Bureau of Public Relations. One person was quoted as saying: “Let me compose the songs a nation sings, and I care not who writes its laws.”

Music has power – either for the betterment or the detriment of people. That’s why we should be careful about the songs we listen to, whether they be traditional or contemporary, sacred or secular.

Think of the music of the world. So many songs contain demoralizing lyrics that have a degrading effect on the millions who are captivated by their catchy tunes and rhythmic beat.

By contrast, God gifted David, that sweet singer of Israel, who provided many of the great expressions of praise that we find in the book of Psalms. The words of those songs extol the Lord. How uplifting and inspiring they are!

Yes, music has power. Let’s use it for good! – Richard W. De Haan

You are the chosen of the Lord
To sing His highest praise,
And through the medium of song
To show His wondrous ways. – Anon.

The devil dreads a singing Christian. – Luther
– July 26, 1992, Our Daily Bread

The Fault with Faultfinding (Romans 14:13)

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We sometimes criticize others unfairly. We don’t know all their circumstances, nor their motives. Only God, who is aware of all the facts, is able to judge people righteously.

John Wesley told of a man he had little respect for because he considered him to be miserly and covetous. One day when this person contributed only a small gift to a worthy charity, Wesley openly criticized him.

After the incident, the man went to Wesley privately and told him he had been living on parsnips and water for several weeks. He explained that before his conversion, he had run up many bills. Now, by skimping on everything and buying nothing for himself he was paying off his creditors one by one. “Christ has made me an honest man,” he said, “and so with all these debts to pay, I can give only a few offerings above my tithe. I must settle up with my worldly neighbors and show them what the grace of God can do in the heart of a man who was once dishonest.” Wesley then apologized to the man and asked his forgiveness.

Judgmental attitudes spring from pride and are offensive to the Lord. A hypercritical Christian is not operating from the principle of love. That’s the real fault with faultfinding! – Henry G. Bosch

Checking Up On Myself
Is there someone I often find fault with?
What might make me critical of that person?
How can I show love and encouragement instead?

Instead of pointing a critical finger, hold out a helping hand.
– July 20, 1992, Our Daily Bread

Do We Know God? (John 17:3)

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American writer Mark Twain was known for his wit and charm. On a trip to Europe he was invited to dinner with a head of state. When his daughter learned of the invitation, she said, “Daddy, you know every bid person there is to know except God.” Sadly, that was true, because Mark Twain was an unbelieving skeptic.

That daughter’s comment should cause us to ask ourselves if we know God. We may be blessed with life-enriching friendships, acquainted with a wide circle of important people, but do we know God? And is our knowledge of Him more than secondhand information or speculation, the things we might read in books?

Jesus wanted His disciples to have an intimate knowledge of God. He prayed, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent(John 17:3). This knowledge is intensely personal, and is gained only through a deep, prolonged friendship. Indeed, the knowledge referred to in this text and elsewhere in Scripture is compared with the intimacy of husband and wife as they become one (Genesis 4:1).

We can have that knowledge as we spend time talking with God, reading His Word, and sharing His love with the world. – Vernon C. Grounds

Into the heart of Jesus
Deeper and deeper I go;
Seeking to know the reason
Why He should love me so. – Smith

It’s not enough to know God with your head; you must know Him in your heart.
– July 10, Vol. 12B, Our Daily Bread

First Pride – Then the Fall (Proverbs 16:18)

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I was canoeing down Michigan’s Pine River with my 14-year-old friend Kim. I was the speaker for the teenage division of a summer Bible camp, and she and I were assigned to the same canoe. The river was high, and the way was filled with rocks, fallen logs, and trees that had come down in a recent storm. It took hard work to paddle through the strong current and tricky turns, and to avoid the overhands and logs. When we would do well for 50 to 100 yards, I would say, “Hey, we’re getting good at this.” Kim would reply, “Pride goes before a fall!” And she was right. The next thing we knew we’d be plowing into the bank, scraping over a rock, or ducking under some overhanging branches. And we went into the chilly waters of the river more than once!

It happens every time. As soon as we begin to think we are really good at something or that we have made some great achievement – as soon as we take pride in it – the Lord sends something humbling into our lives to bring us “back down to earth.” The more pride we have in ourselves and the greater we consider our achievement to be, the more certain will be the reminder that we have “feet of clay.”

This truth is clearly set forth in today’s Scripture text. The one who boasts will be brought down. The one who exalts himself will be humbled. If you start to feel boastful, be careful. Pride leads to destruction, and a haughty spirit will make you fall. – Dave C. Egner

Forbid it, Lord, that my heart should be proud,
For all of my talents by You are endowed;
I know I’ll not taste of the fruits of success
Unless by Your grace You will prosper and bless. – D. J. De Haan

He who stands high in his own estimation is still a long way from the top.
– July 21, 1988

Arrogance and Pride (Proverbs 8:13)

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In The Screwtape Letters written by Clive Staples Lewis, a senior devil urges his young protégé to divert a January’s thoughts away from God and focus on the faults of the people around him at church.

During a Sunday service, I found myself distracted and somewhat annoyed by a person near me who sang loudly off key and was out of sync during the unison readings. But when we bowed our heads for a time of silent prayer, it struck me that the Lord must surely be more pleased with that other person’s heart than with the judgmental feelings He saw in mine.

A few days later I happened to read Proverbs 8 and was struck by verse 13: “Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” Throughout this chapter, wisdom calls us to gain an understanding heart (v. 5) and to find life and obtain favor from the Lord (v. 35). The alternative is to go through life with a superior attitude while dying inside in that process (v. 36).

Pride is a sword that wounds the person who uses it along with those against whom it is used. Arrogance robs us of all God longs to give us, but “by humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life” (22:4). – David C. McCasland

Oh, just a bit of Thy meekness, my Savior,
To be the least when of self I would boast;
Finding my glory and strength in Thy favor,
Know in my weakness Thy grace can do most. – Bosch

Pride brings shame. Humility brings wisdom.
– July 21, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread

The Principle of Reaping (Obadiah 15)

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Among others, many prominent entertainers and respected educational leaders reject God and deny the existence of an absolute standard. They say we can determine for ourselves what is right and wrong. They laugh at words like patriotism, duty, loyalty, and godliness. But now their influence is reaping a bitter harvest – multiplied abortions, heartbreaking divorce, violent crimes, teenage suicides, and disturbing payoffs by foreign agents for military secrets. Discussing an unprecedented rash of Americans spying for other countries, Charles Colson said the U.S. is reaping what it has sown.

Obadiah warned the Edomites that they would reap what they had sown. Using the past tense but speaking about the future, he portrayed the lighthearted drinking of their wild parties and said that their derisive fun would soon give way to somber drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. His prophecy was fulfilled. Within a few years Edom was destroyed by Gentile powers.

We must remember the reaping principle. Woven into the fabric of life, it applies to individuals as much as to nations. It’s both a warning and a promise. When we do evil, we reap judgment. But when we do good, we reap the blessing of God’s approval. – Herbert Vander Lugt

Those who plant thorns cannot expect to gather flowers.
– July 21, Vol. 1, Our Daily Bread