A Prayer Jesus Never Prayed (Luke 11:1)

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We usually ask an expert to give us the best he or she has to offer. When we’re with a successful banker, we ask how to invest our money wisely. Jesus disciples asked Him, “Teach us to pray.”

Because prayer was central to Jesus’ ministry, He wanted it to be vital in theirs. So He responded by giving them what Christians call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Actually, the prayer is misnamed, for Jesus Himself could not have prayed it. As the Son of God, without sin, He could not join in the petition, “Forgive us our sins.” The prayer should be labeled “The Disciples’ Prayer.” It can serve us in the same way that an outline serves a minister when he preaches a sermon. It guides us as we pray.

 The prayer opens with an address to God: “Father.” Then follow two major sections. First, we are to worship His Person and talk to Him about His program (Luke 11:2). Second, we are to speak to the Father about His family, our need for provision, pardon, and protection (vv. 3-4).

If you need help in your prayer life, let the pattern Jesus gave His disciples guide you. As you follow it, you will learn what to ask about to the Father and how to make your requests. – Haddon W. Robinson

 Lord, teach us how to pray aright,

Oh, lead us in Your way;

We humbly bow in Your pure sight –

Lord, teach us how to pray. – Anon.

 We never graduate for the school of prayer.

  • July 7, 1985, Our Daily Bread 

Flawed Impressions (Joshua 22:34)

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Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice is the story of an upper-middle-class Englishwoman named Lizzy Bennet who is pursued by Mr. Darcy, a brooding and complex man of great wealth. Lizzy’s first impression of Mr. Darcy was that he was arrogant, introverted, and self-serving. So when he declares his love for her, she rejects him. Later, when she learns of his many secret acts of kindness for others, Lizzy admits that she had been wrong about Mr. Darcy and agrees to marry him.

Joshua 22 records another instance of flawed first impressions. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had built an altar near the Jordan. When the other tribes learned about this, they were enraged (vv. 9-12) because God had commanded that He alone be worshiped and that sacrifices be performed only in the tabernacle (Exodus 20:3; Leviticus 17:8-9). They saw the building of this altar as an act of apostasy. Fortunately, Phinehas the priest led a delegation to find out why they had built the altar (Joshua 22:13-33). They were told that it was a memorial of unity for all the tribes under the one God of Israel (v. 34).

Often our first impressions can be wrong. Open communication, however, can correct misunderstanding that are created by our own pride and prejudice. – Dennis Fisher

Don’t judge too quickly what you see;

Treat lightly first impression;

Misunderstandings multiply

Without communication. – Sper

First impressions often lead to wrong conclusion.

  • July 9, Vol. 14, Our Daily Bread

A Misleading Impression (Galatians 2:6)

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He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and his car looked like it was a refugee from a junkyard. Yet the unkempt man who stopped to help them on the Chicago expressway was, to my friends, angelic.

While traveling the busy highways of Chicago, Ken and Sue’s van blew a tire. As they edged toward the shoulder of the expressway, with cars flying past, they quickly prayed for help. That’s when the man in the rusty car waved and yelled to them that he would help.

Most of us are reluctant to trust complete strangers, so my friends were understandably wary of the scraggly man. Yet they soon found out that he was a mechanic who himself had been stranded just days earlier. He grabbed his tools, got to work on their car, and quickly had them back on the road.

We often judge people by the way they look or dress, or by what kind of car they drive. Sure, we must be careful whom we trust, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss everyone who doesn’t dress like a television news anchor.

People come in all sizes, colors, and conditions. Before we set aside those who don’t match our personal standards, we need to remind ourselves that our Creator doesn’t play favorites (Galatians 2:6). Neither should we. – J. David Branon

First impressions are misleading
For we do not know the heart;
We can often be mistaken
Since we only know in part, – Fitzhugh

Always look at others through the eyes of Christ.
– June 6, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Well-Rounded Recreation (Psalm 1:2-3)

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Everyone needs recreation. The old adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is true. Jesus told His tired disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while (Mark 6:31).

God has made us so that we are healthier and more productive when we enjoy wholesome fun and laughter, and when we take time to renew ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A happy spirit is good medicine for body and soul (Proverbs 17:22). Moreover, the Lord has provided a variety of acceptable ways by which we can be refreshed, invigorated, and restored when we become weary, bored, or troubled.

In today’s Scripture, we see the renewing qualities of music in the life of King Saul. Turning aside from his duties and listening to David play his harp brought Saul deliverance from his troubled emotional state.

Hunting and fishing and sports have been recreational activities for thousands down through the centuries. A walk through the woods, a drive in the countryside, a family picnic, or a trip to the zoo can refresh us, both physically and emotionally.

The best and most important form of recreation, however, is communion with God. We need to give Him the opportunity to brighten our spirits and lift our hearts. We must turn aside from our normal activities to read God’s Word, meditate on it, and pray. This is the most rewarding of all forms of recreation. – Herbert Vander Lugt

When we take time for fun and play,
For rest along life’s busy way,
And when we pause to kneel and pray –
We’ll be renewed from day to day. – D. J. De Haan

Unless we come apart and rest a while, we may just plain come apart. – Vance Havner
– June 27, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Lost Books? (1 John 4:3)

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Everybody like a good story, but many people are taking the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code as historical fact.

Central to the book’s plot line is the allegation that “lost books of the Bible” have been suppressed by the church for centuries. These lost books claim that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children with her. This radically misrepresents history and is misleading many people.

These alleged “lost books of the Bible” were found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. They deny the biblical Jesus and promote goddess worship, self-deity, and secret knowledge.

So why did the church exclude these books from the Bible? Because the documents did not meet the criteria for authentic Scripture, which involved several central questions: Was the writer someone Jesus had chosen as an apostle? Did the book have widespread acceptance among church leaders? Did God’s Spirit speak through it? The “lost books” did not pass these tests. All the books we have in our New Testament did.

When people question the trustworthiness of the Scriptures, we need to give them a respectful and an informed answer. It might just make them want to know more about our Bible – and our God. – Dennis Fisher

God’s words of pure, eternal truth

Shall yet unshaken stay,

When all that man has thought or planned

Like chaff shall pass away. – Anon.

To the wise, God’s Word is sufficient.

  • July 7, Vol. 12B, Our Daily Bread

Getting Away with It (Hebrews 11:4)

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In June 2004, at a Vancouver art gallery, Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott received an Olympic gold medal. That’s interesting, because the Winter Olympics had been held in 2002 – in Utah. Scott had won bronze behind two athletes who were disqualified months later when it was learned they had used banned substances.

It’s good that Scott eventually received her gold, but gone forever is the moment when she should have stood on the podium to hear her country’s national anthem. That injustice couldn’t be remedied.

Injustice of any kind disturbs us, and surely there are far greater wrongs than being denied a hard-won medal. The story of Cain and Abel shows an ultimate act of injustice (Genesis 4:8). And at first glance, it might look like Cain got away with murdering his brother. After all, he lived a long, full life, eventually building a city (v. 17).

But God Himself confronted Cain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground,” He said (v. 10). The New Testament later recorded Cain as an example to avoid (1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11). But of Abel we read, “By faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead (Hebrews 11:4).

God cares deeply about justice, about righting wrongs, and about defending the powerless. In the end, no one gets away with any act of injustice. Nor does God leave unrewarded our work done in faith for Him. – Tim Gustafson

Father, as Your Son taught us to pray, we ask that Your kingdom will come, Your will be done to change this broken world. Thank You for redeeming us.

Sin will not ultimately be judged by the way we see it, but by the way God sees it.
– July 10, Vol. 25, Our Daily Bread

Smelling the Roses (Psalm 103:2)

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Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse once attended a luncheon with 30 to 40 people. Before they ate their meal, a man offered prayer and began by thanking the Lord for the food and water.

Barnhouse said he had forgotten what other things were mentioned, but he was gripped by the thanks given for water – common, ordinary drinking water. He concluded, “I then began to think of other common things for which we never thank God, and began thanking Him.”

We too forget to express our gratitude to the Lord for the commonplace things of life, even though they can be so vital to our existence. We also tend to become indifferent to the wonders of God’s handiwork in creation: the starry heavens on a moonless night, a golden sunset at the end of the day, majestic mountain peaks, tall stately trees, the music of a babbling brook, the warm rays of sunshine, or perhaps something as common, and as beautiful, as a wildflower in the field.

May we never become too busy to appreciate the ordinary things in life and to offer gratitude to God. Rather, each day let’s single out some benefit we have taken for granted. Let’s take time to smell the roses and give God thanks. – Richard W. De Haan

As endless as God’s blessings are,
So should my praises be
For all His daily goodnesses
That flow unceasingly. – Adams

Praise comes naturally to those who count their blessings.
– July 10, 1992, Our Daily Bread