The New Religion (Luke 12:15)

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Driving through Ireland to a Bible conference, I saw a fascinating billboard. It was large and white with nothing on it but a woman’s red shoe and the bold caption: “Is Shopping The New Religion?”

The pursuit of possessions continues to be one of the most powerful motivations that people can experience. But can the accumulation of things bring true satisfactions?

In Luke 12:15, Jesus answered that question with a firm and uncompromising “No! During a discussion on material wealth, He said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.Life must always be more than just the inventory of things we own.

King Solomon also attempted to find satisfaction in the pursuit of things. He discovered it to be full of emptiness (Ecclesiastes 2:1-17). If we have placed “the abundance of the things” we possessed at the center of our lives, shopping may in fact, have become a substitute for Goda new religion. But such endeavors will always result in emptiness.

David prayed, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). Only God is able to bring real satisfaction to our lives. – Bill Crowder

O Lord, help us to be content

With all that we possess,

And may we show our gratitude

With heartfelt thankfulness. – Sper

You are rich when you are satisfied with what you have.

  • February 23, Vol. 14, Our Daily Bread
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A Sin No One Wants to Admit (Romans 7:7)

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Man instinctively condemns the sin of murder or stealing, but somehow the commandment that forbids coveting doesn’t seem to disturb his conscience. This was pointed out by Jean Baptiste de la Salle, a Christian leader and educational reformer of the Middle Ages. At the end of his life, after counseling with thousands about spiritual matters, remarked, “Of all those people, not one ever confessed to me that he was guilty of breaking the tenth commandment!” Yet, the Bible repeatedly warns against the sin of coveting. In Isaiah’s time it brought chastisement upon Israel. The Lord declared, “For the iniquity of his covetousness was I angry, and smote him” (Isaiah 57:17). In Jeremiah 6:13, He said, “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness.” Jesus listed this sin with adultery, blasphemy, and a host of other evils (see Mark 7:21-23). And in 1 Corinthians 5:10, Paul spoke of it along with fornication, extortion, and idolatry.

Do you recognize that a craving for things belonging to others displeases God? But you say, “I don’t really want my neighbor’s possessions. I just wish I could have a home or a car LIKE his!Even this attitude is a subtle form of covetousness. It reveals that you are discontent with your life and that you think that the Lord hasn’t treated you right in withholding such blessings. You say you still don’t feel guilty? Perhaps it’s because covetousness is a sin none of us wants to admit! – Henry G. Bosch

From time to time we covet more

Of this world’s goods – of earthly store;

It’s then that we must look above,

Content to know our Father’s love. – D. J. De Haan

Cure for covetousness: Think of something to give instead of something to get.

  • February 18, 1985, Our Daily Bread

A Matter of Love (Deuteronomy 6:5)

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Where intellect and emotion clash, the heart often has the greater wisdom” wrote the authors of A General Theory of Love. In the past, they say, people believed that the mind should rule the heart, but science has now discovered the opposite to be true. “Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.

Those familiar with Scripture recognize this as an ancient truth, not a new discovery. The most important commandment God gave to His people gives the heart the prominent place. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Not until the gospels of Mark and Luke do we learn that Jesus added the word mind (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). So, what scientists are just now discovering, the Bible taught all along.

Those of us who follow Christ also know the importance of whom we love. When we obey the greatest commandment and make God the object of our love, we can be assured of having a purpose that transcends anything we could imagine or our strength could achieve. When our desire for God dominates our hearts, our minds will stay focused on ways to serve Him, and our actions will further His kingdom on earth and in heaven. – Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, we long to make You the supreme desire of our heart. As You taught Your disciples to pray, so too we ask You to teach us how to love. Guide us today.

Count as lost each you have not used in loving God. – Brother Lawrence

  • February 14, Vol. 23, Our Daily Bread

Showing Real Love (John 13:35)

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Chinese New Year happened to fall on the same day as Valentine’s Day in 2010. While these two festivals have very different origins, there are some similarities in how they are celebrated. In both cases, loved ones give gifts to express love for one another. Whether it is giving roses to your beloved on Valentine’s Day or hong bao (red packets with money) to family and friends on Chinese New Year, they represent tokens of love.

Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to “love one another,” because “by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

The love that our Lord wants His disciples to have for one another is different from the romantic kind displayed between loving couples and the brotherly kind shown between friends or family. It’s an unselfish love. The Greek word John used in Jesus’ command is agape God’s kind of love that expects nothing in return. That was what Jesus showed to His disciples when He “poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciplines’ feet” (John 13:5). That is the kind of love He displayed when He went to the cross for us.

Today, look for someone to whom you can show such unselfish love. – C. P. Hia

Lord, teach us the secret of loving,

The love You are asking today;

Then help us to love one another;

For this we most earnestly pray. – Anon

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

  • February 14, Vol. 17, Our Daily Bread

Who’s in Control? (Romans 8:14)

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By nature we all have a desire to control our world. From infancy we turn to our own independent way, trying to control circumstances, the future, people – and even God if we could. Since we can’t, we end up frustrated, hostile, and critical.

Our need to be in control is rooted in excessive self-love. For example, when people we love are sick, we often want them to get well so we can get some rest and not have to worry about them. “Boil it down to this,“ a Bible teacher once said, “we are madly in love with ourselves!

In Romans 8, the apostle Paul called this self-centerednessthe flesh. By nature  we live as if we owe the flesh our obedience. Paul reminded us in verse 12 that this isn’t so. He then offered an effective alternative: We can be led and controlled by God’s Spirit (v. 14). We may be afraid to give up control of our lives to God, but we needn’t be. Human control insists on immediate results; God’s control allows for a lifelong process of change.

Are you “madly in love” with yourself? Why not turn the controls of your life over to God. Ask Him to change you and help you to love Him and others. – Joanie E. Yoder

The Spirit wants to fill us with

His blessing and His grace

If we will let Him take control

And have His rightful place. – Sherbert

To be under Christ’s control, is to have true freedom.

  • February 22, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Relentless Love(Hosea 3:1)

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No human can comprehend God’s love for His children! Our limited experience of human love hinders us from understanding God’s unconditional love for us. We can see a picture of this love in the life of Hosea.

Hosea was a righteous man, but God told him to marry a sinful woman. Hosea obeyed and took Gomer as his wife. He cherished her and treated her with dignity and respect. Never before had Gomer experienced this kind of love, but she soon grew dissatisfied. She began giving her affections to other men. She became so involved in adulterous pursuits that finally she abandoned Hosea altogether. Other men used her into slavery. After this, God gave Hosea an amazing command: “Go and buy her back.” Despite the intense pain and hurt that Gomer had inflicted on him, God told Hosea to forgive her and to pay any price to bring her back into his home.

God’s message is clear. When we reject Him and turn our devotion elsewhere, our rejection carries the same pain as an adulterous betrayal. After all God has done for us, it is incomprehensible that we should reject Him. It is even harder to fathom that God could love us even after we have rejected, ignored, and disobeyed Him. Yet God’s love is completely different from ours. His love follows us to the depths of our sinfulness until He has reclaimed us. His love is undaunted when we run from Him, and He continues to pursue us. What incredible love He has demonstrated to us!

  • February 14, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals

Love Assumes the Best (1 Corinthians 13:7)

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Love has no limits. Love never says, “You’ve gone too far. I can’t love you now. All things” means everything is included. Christlike love leaves no doubt in the mind of another that you will continue to love steadfastly. Do those close to you know that they can fail and do foolish things, yet you will not falter in your love for them? Are others assured that, even when they hurt you, you still love them, holding nothing against them?

Love assumes the best about others. If someone inadvertently offends you, you choose to believe the offense was unintentional. If someone seeks to harm you, you “bear all things,” forgiving unconditionally. If a positive light can be shed on a difficult encounter, you grasp it. If someone continually provokes you, you “endure all things.” You never lose hope in the ones you love. You practice the same unconditional love toward others that Christ gives to you.

Paul said that he was nothing, if he had the faith to move mountains, the tongue of an angel, and the gift of prophesy to understand all mysteries, yet did not have God’s love. It is unacceptable to say, “Well, I just can’t love people that way!” When God loves people through you, this is the only kind of love He has! Read 1 Corinthians 13 with gratitude that God has already expressed this complete and selfless love to you. Pray and ask Him to express it through you now, to others.

  • February 13, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals