Imaginary Friend? (James 2:23)

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Not long ago, I heard about this billboard along the highway: “God is an imaginary friend – choose reality. It will be better for all of us.

Obviously, the bold statement compares Christians to children whose vivid imaginations invent a make-believe companion. But is that what God is – an imaginary friend?

Actually, the evidence favors His reality. Ponder these ideas: The creation of the world shows there is a Designer behind the universe (Romans 1:18-20). The conscience indicates a Lawgiver behind each human’s sense of right and wrong (Romans 2:14-15). The creativity we express in music and art reflect the same attribute that the Creator possesses (Exodus 35:31-32). Christ reveals what God is like in human form (Hebrews 1:1-4). And the communion or fellowship of the Spirit in the Christian heart manifests the reality of God (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Bible tells us there will be those who deny the reality of God (2 Peter 3:4-6). But James reminds us of His reality and how an Old Testament believer befriended Him: “’Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23). Have you met the redeeming God? He gave His Son to become your real, eternal Friend (John 15:15). – Dennis Fisher

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!

He loved me ere I knew Him;

He drew me with the cords of love,

And thus He bound me to Him. – Small

The dearest friend on earth is but a mere shadow compared to Jesus. – Chambers

  • June 14, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread
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Paying the Price (Luke 22:32)

 

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Imagine being able to do anything you wanted to do without having to be concerned about costs or consequences. You could have success without risk or sacrifice. A happy marriage without having to work at it. Education without exams.

We all realize, though, that’s not the way life works. To know the joy of success, we must pay the price of commitment and learn from our failures.

Before Jesus was arrested and put on trial, Peter expressed his devotion to Him by saying, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). When that intention was put to the test, Peter’s resolve melted under pressure. He denied three times that he knew Jesus (vv. 56-60). But his failure wasn’t final. He later reaffirmed his love for the Lord (John 21:15-19). And when empowered by the Holy Spirit he became a bold witness (Acts 2-12), willing to be imprisoned and even die for his Lord (John 21:18-19).

Our commitment to Christ will be tested as well. We may falter and need to be restored. Sometimes we will have to pay a price – suffering rejection or loss. But the only way to know the joy of Christ’s approval is to give our lives unreservedly to Him. When we do, He will work through us, as He did through Peter (Luke 22:32), to encourage others. – Albert Lee

To serve the present age,

My calling to fulfill;

O may it all my powers engage,

To do my Master’s will! – C. Wesley

Commitment comes with a cost.

  • June 13, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread

The Pain of a Father’s Love (Matthew 27:35)

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In 1968, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr. took command of the American naval forces in Vietnam. In an effort to reduce US casualties, he ordered the waterways sprayed with the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. It was a move designed to push back the jungle and make it harder for North Vietnamese to ambush Navy river patrol boats at point-blank range.

One of those boats was commanded by his 21-year-old son, Lieutenant Elmo Zumwalt III, who died of cancer in 1988. The admiral believes that Agent Orange killed his sons. What a heartbreaking story of a father who made a decision that resulted in great suffering for his own son!

How much greater was the heartbreak of God the Father when He provided salvation for us! He made a decision that resulted in immeasurable agony of His only Son. Think of how God must have felt as He watched His Son suffer the mockery of the crowd, the lashes of the whip, the pain of the nails through His hands and feet, the inexpressible weight and humiliation of our sins, and the agony of isolation and abandonment.

Father, forgive us for adding to Your pain by our lack of gratitude. Please help us to live in a way that will honor Your Son. Who defeated sin and death – for us. – Mart De Haan

The Father’s heart was deeply pained

When Jesus hung upon the tree,

Yet in His sacrifice He gained

Our pardon, peace, and victory. – D. J. De Haan

The truest measure of God’s love is that He loves without measure.

  • June 16, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread

Spiritual Deafness (1 Corinthians 2:14)

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Some people suffer from a strange hearing disorder – they can hear sounds but can’t understand words. They have no trouble hearing a bird sing or a watch ticks, but words are as unintelligible as if they were a foreign language. The source of the problem is not in the ears. It stems from an injury to the brain.

There is also a spiritual deafness that affects many people. Because of a sinful heart, those without faith in Christ can read the Bible and hear the teachings of God’s Word, but its spiritual message is foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

That explains why some people can appreciate the Bible as literature, as reliable history, and as a source of high moral standards, but they fail to understand its spiritual message. They don’t grasp the significance of what it says about Christ His death on the cross for our sins, His resurrection, and His ministry of intercession for us in heaven today. These truths make no sense to them.

As you read the Bible, do you “hear” what it says? If not, ask the Lord to open your understanding to what it says about Jesus. Put your trust in Him as your personal Savior and experience a spiritual birth. That’s the cure for spiritual deafness. – Richard De Haan

We cannot understand God’s truth

Until we know the Lord;

It’s when our heart is home to Him

We understand His Word. – Anon.

They key to understanding the written Word is knowing the Loving Word.

  • June 13, Vol. 12A, Our Daily Bread

A Little Concern (Hebrews 13:5)

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I know I’m not supposed to worry, but I’m a little concerned about something. Perhaps it’s because of a new situation in our family. As I look around I can’t help but have a bit of anxiety. You see, my wife and I recently found out that we were going to be grandparents. This led me to think about the kind of world our grandchild will grow up in.

When he or she graduate from high school, it will be 2024. Will college cost $100,000 a year by then? If there’s any oil left, will gas cost $25 a gallon? Will morals and ethics be outmoded? And will the church still be making an impact?

The future can be a scary place. The unknown can be overwhelming, especially when the known has so many struggles. That’s why we need to trust in what God has promised.

No matter what situation our grandchildren will face, they can depend on God’s promise of help – regardless of what trouble the world will be in. God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). And Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Those are great promises to depend on when we start to worry about the future, whether it’s ours or the next generation’s. – Dave Branon

Concern for future cares and problems

Will only bring us pain and sorrow;

The Lord has told us not to worry

About the troubles of tomorrow. – Sper

We may not know what the future holds, but we can trust the One who holds the future.

  • June 11, Vol. 14, Our Daily Bread

Noah Walked With God (Genesis 6:8-9)

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No matter how ungodly the environment you may be in, God will always find you and walk with you. Noah lived in perhaps the most wicked age in history. No one worship God. All the people worshiped idols and pursued their own sinful pleasures. Noah’s neighbors were evil; every person he associated with in the marketplace, or along the street, or in public gatherings, ridiculed the very thought of being faithful to God. Every temptation imaginable was abundantly available to Noah. How oppressive such an environment would have been to a righteous person!

The people of Noah’s day were so wicked that God planned the most complete and drastic act of judgment recorded in Scripture. Nevertheless, Noah was not lost to God in the crowd of sinners. God noticed every act of Noah’s righteousness. Noah had chosen to live uprightly before God despite what everyone around him was doing, and God had observed him. There may have been times when Noah wondered if it mattered if he lived a righteous life, since no one else was. Yet he continued, and his persistence in righteousness saved his life and the lives of his family members.

Are you constantly surrounded by evil? Do you struggle at times to live a righteous life when those you associate with each day have no concern for God? Find assurance in the life of Noah. God watches you, even as He observed Noah. God will seek you out of the crowd every time, and He wants to bless you and your family just as He blessed Noah.

  • June 14, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals

A Crooked Generation (Philippians 2:14-15)

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You could call today’s generation “crooked and perverse,” just as Paul described this own generation in Philippians 2:15. Even Moses would have understood what Paul was talking about, for he said of Israel, “They have corrupted themselves; they are not His children, because of their blemish: a perverse and crooked generation” (Deuteronomy 32:5).

Crookedness refers to the means by which people accomplish their objectives – doing whatever it takes to get what they want. Shortcuts to success are applauded. Some even boast about how they circumvent the law.

Perversion refers to the way people distort the truth. For example, I heard about three teenagers who wanted to end their stay in a Youth hostel long before their expected departure. They angrily insisted that the manager return their nonrefundable deposit. When he finally gave in and the three teens were on their way out, the exclaimed to the hostel’s other guests that they had been forced to leave.

We may sometimes get hurt by the crooked behavior and distorted thinking of people. But we are called to be “blameless and harmless” and to “shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).

Let’s show the world a different way of living. – Albert Lee

We are called with a holy calling

The light of the world to be,

To lift up the lamp of the Savior

That others His light may see. – Anon.

The straight and narrow way is God’s way for a crooked generation.

  • June 8, Vol. 12A, Our Daily Bread