When Someone Falls (1 Corinthians 10:12)

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It has become so commonplace to hear of the misconduct of respected public figure that even though we may be deeply disappointed, we are hardly surprised. But how should we respond to the news of a moral failure, whether by a prominent person or a friend? We might begin by looking at ourselves. A century ago, Oswald Chambers told his students at the Bible Training College in London, “Always remain alert to the fact that where one man has gone back is exactly where anyone may go back … unguarded strength is double weakness.

Chambers’ words echo Paul’s warning to be aware of our own vulnerability when we see the sins of others. After reviewing the disobedience of the Israelites in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-5), Paul urged his readers to learn from those sins so they wouldn’t repeat them (vv. 6-11). He focused not on past failings but on present pride when he wrote, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (v. 12).

The head shaken in reproach is a common response to public sin. More helpful is the head that nods, “Yes, I am capable of that,” then bows in prayer for the one who has fallen and the one who thinks  he stands. – David McCasland

Blessed Savior, make me humble,

Take away my sinful pride;

In myself I’m sure to stumble,

Help me stay close by Your side. – D. J. De Haan

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fail.Proverbs 16:18

  • January 19, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread
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A Second Chance (Lamentations 3:22-23)

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On January 15, 2009, 155 people on US Airways Flight 1549 thought they were going to die. During take-off  from New York City, their plane struck a flock of geese, disabling both engines. In a powerless glide, the captain maneuvered over the densely populated area, then announced: “Brace for impact.” Less than 90 seconds later, the crippled plane made a water landing in the frigid Hudson River, where boats and ferries quickly arrived to rescue the passengers and crew, all of whom survived. People called it the “miracle on the Hudson” and praised the pilot and crew. One grateful passenger said simply, “We have a second change in life.”

In times of crisis, we grasp the importance of every hour. During our ordinary routine, however, we often forget that each day is a second chance. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,‘ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lamentations 3:22-24).

We can choose to live with thankfulness for God’s mercy and grace, with confidence in His faithful care, and with hope because He is with us forever. Today, God offers us a second chance in life. Let’s make the most of it! – David McCasland

As shadows of night give way to dawn’s light,

God opens the door to a brand-new day;

And with it come mercies from His gracious hand

For giving new mercies is always His way. – D. J. De Haan

Our God is a God of second chances.

  • January 15, Vol. 17, Our Daily Bread

Better Than Planned (Ephesians 5:20)

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Interruptions are nothing new. Rarely does a day go by as planned.

Life is filled with inconveniences. Our plans are constantly thwarted by forces beyond our control. The list is long and ever-changing: Sickness. Conflict. Traffic jams. Forgetfulness, Appliance malfunctions. Rudeness. Laziness. Impatience. Incompetence.

What we cannot see, however, is the other side of inconvenience. We think it has no purpose other than to discourage us, make life more difficult, and thwart our plans. However, inconvenience could be God’s way of protecting us from some unseen danger, or it could be an opportunity to demonstrate God’s grace and forgiveness. It might be the start of something even better than we had planned. Or it could be a test to see how we respond to adversity. Whatever it is, even though we may not know God’s reason, we can be assured of His motiveto make is more like Jesus and to further His kingdom on earth.

To say that God’s followers throughout history have been “inconvenienced” would be an understatement. But God has a purpose. Knowing this, we can thank Him, being confident that He is giving us an opportunity to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16, 20). – Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, so often it’s the little things in life that get to me, and there seem to be so many of them. Whenever I’m tempted to lose my temper, blame someone, or just give up, help me see You.

What happens to us is not nearly as important as what God does in us and through us.

  • January 28, Vol. 22, Our Daily Bread

An Ordinary Day (Matthew 24:42)

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While exploring a museum exhibit titled “A Day in Pompeii,” I was struck by repeated theme that August 24, AD 79 began as an ordinary day. People were going about their daily business in homes, in markets, and at the port of this prosperous Roman town of 20,000 people. At 8 a.m., a series of small emissions were seen coming from nearby Mount Vesuvius, followed by a violent eruption in the afternoon. In less than 24 hours, Pompeii and many of its people lay buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash. Unexpected.

Jesus told His followers that He would return on a day when people were going about their business, sharing meals, and having weddings, with no idea of what was about to happen. “As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37).

The Lord’s purpose was to urge that disciples to be watchful and prepared: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (v. 44).

What surprising joy it would be to welcome our Savior on this ordinary day! – David McCasland

Faithful and true would He find us here,

If He should come today?

Watching in gladness and not in fear,

If should come today?

Watch for the time is drawing nigh,

What if it were today? – Morris

 

Perhaps today!

  • January 25, Vol. 22, Our Daily Bread

What’s Beneath the Surface? (Matthew 23:27)

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The Lord Jesus’ harsh rebuke of the Pharisees reveals God’s attitude toward hypocrisy. Christ was so scathing in His words because the hypocrite is all religious appearance, and beneath the “whitewash” of respectability and piety is only the darkness of spiritual death.

Robert Wenz used the following story to illustrate that truth, “The Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through four decades and a world war she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California. During the conversion, her three massive smoke stacks were taken off to be scraped and painted. But on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the ¾-inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more than thirty coats of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had  rusted away.” Wenz then commented, “When Jesus called the Pharisees ‘whitewashed tombs.’ He meant they had no substance, only an exterior appearance.

With so much religion around us, and with so many people speaking the language of the church, it’s easy to sound pious and religious. But what’s beneath the surface? Our testimony must be a genuine result of our relationship with the Savior. If it is mere show, we are no better than the Pharisees. Think about it. In the judgment, all will be revealed. Then it will be known whether there was anything beneath the surface. – David C. Egner

You can fool the hapless public,

You can be a subtle fraud,

You can hide your little meanness,

But you can’t fool God. – Kleiser

A hypocrite is a person who is not himself on Sunday.

  • January 5, 1987, Our Daily Bread

True Greatness (Mark 10:41)

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Some people feel like a small pebble lost in the immensity of a canyon. But no matter how insignificant we judge ourselves to be, we can be greatly used by God.

In a sermon early in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted Jesus’s words word from Mark 10 about servanthood. Then he said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a degree to serve. You don’t to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve…. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.

When Jesus’ disciples quarreled about who would get the places of honor in heaven, He told them: “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

I wonder about us. Is that our understanding of greatness? Are we gladly serving, doing tasks that may be unnoticed? Is the purpose of our serving to please our Lord rather than to gain applause? If we are willing to be a servant, our lives will point to the One who is truly great. – Vernon Grounds

No service in itself is small,

None great, though earth it fills;

But that is small that seeks its own,

And great that does God’s will. – Anon.

Little things done in Christ’s name are great things.

  • January 18, Vol. 22, Our Daily Bread

He Comes With a Gift (Romans 6:23)

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The grace of God is the offer of His goodness to mankind. He extends to all the free of salvation. He longs to have fellowship with those He created in His image. When God makes His presence known to unbelievers, therefore, He does so to forgive their sins and bring them into a right relationship with Himself.

Many people, however, are afraid of God. They see Him as their enemy, not as their friend. C. H. Spurgeon illustrated this tendency in his book All of Grace. He told of  a minister who went to the home of a poor woman to give her some money that she desperately needed. When he knocked at her door, she did not answer. He felt sure she was home, so he knocked again. Still no response. After more knocking, he left. On Sunday, he say her in church and said, “I called at your home last Friday.” I suppose you were not at home, for I knocked several times and you did not answer. I had some money for you.” “What time were you there?” she asked. “About noon,” the minister replied. “Oh dear,” said the woman, “I heard you. But I did not answer. I thought it was my landlord calling for the rent.”

If you are to a Christian, you do not have to hide from God. He doesn’t come to you “calling for the rent.” He comes with His gracious offer of salvation. He sent His Son into the world to die for your sins. Invite Him into your heart. Today, receive the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. – David C. Egner

God promised me if I would but believe,

Eternal life from Him I should receive;

I did believe and found His promise true;

I passed from death to life. – was born anew. – Anon.

Grace is neither bought nor wrought – it is God’s free gift to mankind.

  • January 10, 1987, Our Daily Bread