Looking Beyond the Unknown (Hebrews 11:8)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Life is filled with uncertainty. We don’t know what the next 24 hours will bring. It’s an uncharted course that may include great blessing or tragic loss. Because the future is unknown, it fills many people with fearmaking each new day and circumstances a struggle.

Fear of the unknown has often kept man from moving forward. In the early Middle Ages, for example, European sailors would not sail very far south. They believed that the middle of the earth was ringed with fire, because the farther south they traveled the hotter it became. The same kind of fear kept men from exploring the Atlantic Ocean. A chart that was drawn sometime in the Middle Ages has a painting of a ship turning back into the Mediterranean Sea from the Straits of Gibraltar. Above it appears the Latin phrase Ne Plus Ultra, which means “Nothing more beyond.” Fear of the unknown kept explorers from crossing the Atlantic until Columbus and Ponce De Leon decided to test the horizon.

Fear of the unknown may keep us from making spiritual progress as well. We are afraid of what our neighbor will say if we witness to him. We don’t know how the students will respond if we teach a class. We’re not sure we can pay the bills if we increase our giving. But we must not be afraid to take that step of faith. Like Abraham, who left his homeland for an unknown destination, we can overcome uncertainty by trusting God. He sees beyond the unknown. – David C. Egner

Faith looks beyond the shadow

Of dread and doubt and fear

And finds the Savior waiting

And always standing hear. – French

Those who fear the future are likely to fumble the present.

  • June 10, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Knowing Isn’t Everything (1 Corinthians 8:1)

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

No one could accuse the Pharisees of Jesus’ day of being ignorant of the Old Testament. They knew it so well that many of them went around telling others how they should be living. They became proud, arrogant, judgmental religionists (Matthew 23).

I must confess I can relate. After a couple of years of Bible school, I thought I knew everything. I remember making caustic remarks about some statements I heard in sermons. One time I was especially critical of a guest speaker who was filled with enthusiasm but not very well trained. My root problem was pride and a lack of love. I had knowledge but didn’t know how to handle it. It took a rebuke from a fellow Christian to show me that my knowledge was doing more harm than good.

It is good to have Bible knowledge. We need to learn all we can about God’s Word and how it applies to everyday life. But we can become proud of our knowledge. That’s why Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (1 Corinthians 8:1).

When we feel superior to other Christians because of what we know, and when we use what we know to promote ourselves rather than to build others up, we are motivated by pride, not by love.

Lord, Jesus, help us to know and love. – David C. Egner

Christ’s love is not puffed up, unkind;

It gladly will the broken bind,

It envies not, is patient still,

Delights to do the Father’s will. – Stahl

Knowledge minus love makes us proud; knowledge plus love makes us Christlike.

  • June 24, 1992, Our Daily Bread

 

Ignorance is not Bliss (Hosea 4:6)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lack of knowledge can be a killer. Not knowing the danger of electricity can be fatal. Not knowing a bridge has been washed out could result in death. Not knowing the disastrous consequences of rejecting God’s moral standards can destroy individuals and nations. Hosea, God’s spokesman, warned the Israelites that their lack of moral and spiritual knowledge would bring about their doom.

We can’t blame a small child if he picks up a live wire and is electrocuted. The responsibility rests on someone else. But in many instances the lack of knowledge that causes disaster is inexcusable. The multitudes who are destroying themselves and their nations through immoral conduct have no excuse for not knowing that they are courting disaster. They don’t know because they have chosen to close their eyes to truth.

Fifty years ago almost everybody knew marriage to be a sacred institution. They recognized homosexual practices as perversion. They had no problem identifying abortion as a form of murder. But today many people lack moral knowledge in all these areas. The result? Thousands of emotionally scarred children. Unprecedented numbers of suicide. Overcrowded jails. An AIDS epidemic.

Let’s remain open to the Lord and submit to the teaching of His Word. If we do, we will have the moral and spiritual knowledge to protect us from disaster. Ignorance is not bliss. – Herbert Vander Lugt

Blessed Book, God’s living Book,

Through its pages help me look;

May I behold from day to day

New light to guide me in Your way. – McClelland

Using your Bible as a roadmap keeps you off the detours of sin.

  • June 18, Vol. 17, Our Daily Bread

The War is Over! (Ephesians 2:17)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The bitter conflict had finally been settled between the North and the South. Although the soldiers of the American Civil War were free to return to their families, a number of them remained in hiding in the woods, existing on berries. They either did not hear or did not believe that the war had ended. They continued living under miserable conditions when they could have been back in the comfort and security of their homes.

It’s something like that in the spiritual realm. Christ has made peace between God and man by dying in our place. He has paid sin’s penalty on the cross. By accepting His sacrificial work, anyone can be forgiven by a holy God. Sadly, many people refuse to believe the good news of the gospel and continue to live as spiritual fugitives. And sometimes Christianswe who have placed our trust in Christlive on almost the same level. Either out of ignorance or unwillingness, we fail to appropriate the promises of God’s Word. We do not experience the joy and assurance that should accompany our salvation. We do not draw God’s from our Father-child relationship with God the comfort and peace He intends for us. Although we are the objects of His love, care, and provision, we live as if we were orphans! It’s not enough simply to know God’s promises. We must claim them as our own.

Have you been living apart from the comfort and care of your heavenly father? Come on home! The war is over! – Richard W. De Haan

O wretched man, whoever you are,

Incline your ear and hear;

Why onward go with sin-sick heart’

While Christ our Lord is near? – McLendon

Christ as Savior brings peace with God; Christ as Lord brings the peace of God.

  • June 24, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Compassionate Fathers(Psalm 103:13)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

True Religion (James 1:27)

KJV_James_1-27 Care 4 Orphans and Widows

I recently saw an ad for a brand of clothing geared toward youth. It consists of blue jeans and all the accessories designed to go with them. There is nothing novel about that. What got my attention, however, was the name of this clothing line. It is called “True Religion.” That caused me to stop and think. Why was that name chosen? Am I missing some deeper significance? What is the connection between a brand of jeans and true religion? What do they mean by it? My musings left me with questions for which I had no answers.

I am thankful that the book of James is clear when describing true religion or true faith: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (1:27). That is refreshing. “True religion” – genuine faith – is an expression of how we relate to our God. One evidence of our new identity in Christ is the way we care for one another – reaching to the most frail and vulnerable among us, to those most in need of help.

True religion is not a garment to be taken on and off. It is a lofty challenge about how we live before a holy God and others. – Bill Crowder

True religion is to know

The love that Christ imparts;

True religion is to show

His love to burdened hearts. – D. De Haan

You don’t advertise your religion by wearing a label – you do it by living a life.

  • April 26, Vol. 20, Our Daily Bread