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

A Deep Dependence (2 Corinthians 3:5)

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Five for Fighting us the stage name of a recording artist who soared to popularity after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He sings the song “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” a ballad that imagines what it must be like to be a superhero. Yet he struggles with the inadequacy of his strength to cope with the world’s complexities.

People seemed to identify with the song’s theme. Real life proves we are insufficient to battle the overwhelming burdens that confront us. Even those who want to be self-sufficient can’t manage life in their own strength.

As followers of Christ, we have a resource that even Superman could never claim. In our relationship with God, we find a sufficiency for life that can overwhelm our inadequacies and enable us to live victoriously. This was Paul’s encouragement to our hearts when he wrote to the believers at Corinth. He said, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). That makes all the difference in the world.

Left to ourselves, we will be forced to live with the reality that we can never be adequate to grapple with life. But in God’s strength we find all we need to navigate the storms of life in this turbulent world. – Bill Crowder

All that I need He will always be,

All that I need till His face I see;

All that I need through eternity,

Jesus is all I need. – Rowe

We must experience our weakness to experience God’s strength.

  • June 20, Vol. 14, Our Daily Bread

Compassionate Fathers(Psalm 103:13)

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How grieved God must be when He sees men neglect or abuse their children! Sad to say, incidents of this kind are increasing as our society moves further and further away from biblical beliefs and principles.

This is only one side of the picture, however. I see among devoted Christian fathers many examples of those who are compassionate and not ashamed to express their feelings for their children.

I recently visited a child with Down’s syndrome. He was in the hospital and about to undergo a dangerous heart operation. His parents were there, as well as another couple who had a similarly afflicted child. I was struck by the fact that both of these fathers showed tenderness and compassion. I admired them for it.

The nobleman in John 4 was a compassionate father. He kept begging Jesus to heal his son, even when Jesus seemingly responded coolly (v. 48). “Sir,” he pleaded, “come down before my child dies!” Although he was a nobleman, he was not too proud to express his deep concern for his son and humbly ask Jesus for help.

Compassionate fathers reflect the heart of the heavenly Father who pities those who fear Him. And our world needs to see more fathers like that. – Herbert Vander Lugt

Take stock of yourself and consider your child,

Your time and your thoughts are his due;

So how would you answer your God should He ask,

“What sort of a father are you?” – Anon.

A child is more likely to see God as Father if he sees God in his father.

  • June 21, 1992, Our Daily Bread

Don’t Wait Till He’s Gone (Proverbs 17:6)

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Here is a letter written by a man who felt he had to express his love for his father, although his father had been dead for 30 years.

Dear Dad:

        I feel I must say some things that I neglected to say as a boy. Only after passing through the long, hard school of life can I understand how you felt. I must have been a bitter trial to you. I believe in my own shallow ideas, but I realize now how ridiculous they were comparred with your calm, ripe, wholesome wisdom. I want to confess my worst fault – assuming that somehow you didn’t understand. You knew me better than I knew myself. Your wisdom flowed around mine like the ocean around an island. How patient you were, how full of longsuffering! I wish I could tell you today how much I love and appreciate you.

        It won’t be long till I am over there, and I believe you’ll be the first to take my hand and lead me up the slopes of Glory. Then you’ll realize that not one pang of yearning spent on me was wasted. I’m so sorry for my thoughtlessness and lack of love, but praise God, I’ll soon meet you on the golden streets because you cared enough to keep praying for your wayward boy!

                                                                                                                         Love, your grateful son

If your father is still living, express your love and appreciation to him today. Don’t wait till he’s gone! – Henry G. Bosch

Our thanks, O God, for fathers

Who show, by word and deed,

Commitment to Thy will and plan,

And Thy commandments heed. – Johnson

Thank God for fathers who not only gave us life but also taught us how to live.

  • June 19, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Who Cares? (Philippians 2:20)

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A political leader, summing up the brokenhearted of our time, talked about a “Humpty-Dumpty world.” The intriguing phrase takes us back to a childhood nursery rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the

king’s men couldn’t put Humpty

Dumpty together again.

The message of that rhyme is true to life. Man is broken and needs to be put together again. The Creator of the universe cares about our situation and has taken steps to restore us to wholeness. He came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, and He fashioned the church as His body so that the members should “care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25). Timothy demonstrated that kind of care for Paul, and for other believers (Philippians 2:18-22).

Caring is as basic as giving money to help destitute Christians or looking after aged parents; as simple as being patient and kind or visiting widows and orphans in distress; as obvious as paying a just wage to employees; or as unspectacular as giving a cup of cool water to someone who thirsts. That’s how our Savior would have us care for broken people in our Humpty-Dumpty world.

Are we letting Jesus care through us? – Haddon Robinson

A gentle word, a kindly deed

To help the ones who have a need,

A smile that Christ’s great love imparts –

Such caring stands to win their hearts. – Brandt

If you really care, you’ll want to share.

  • June 18, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread

Use It Wisely (Psalm 24:1)

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God gave us an incredible giftthe beautiful world in which we live. Naturally, though, as we share this planet with so many others, we run the risk of seeing its beauty diminished and its resources depleted.

While we have every right to use the resources God placed in and on the earth, we also need to recognize our responsibility to respect the earth as His and to preserve its resources for future generations.

In Genesis, the Lord told Adam (and, by extension, all of us) to “tend and keep” the earth (2:15). Because we don’t know when Jesus will return, it would not be responsible stewardship to leave our children and grandchildren without the resources that God provided for them as well.

We might think our individual efforts to preserve God’s world aren’t valuable. But we can all work together to do our part. Buying and consuming less, simplifying, repairing instead of replacing, reusing, and recycling are all good stewardship practices.

One way we can testify of our love for God and to express our gratitude for what He has done is by tending and keeping the earth and all that it offers. Until the Lord returns, let’s use our world wisely. – Dave Branon

The natural world that God has made

Is given to us and must be shared;

May generations yet to come

Be thankful that we cared. – D. De Haan

God created the world and placed it in our care.

  • June 18, Vol. 14, Our Daily Bread