Not Legalism but Christ (Colossians 2:9)

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Genuine Christians are often confused by religious deceivers who sound spiritual but are actually teaching legalism. They can cause them to lose the joy, peace, and victory God intends for them. Religious charlatans who live wickedly can influence only the gullible; but the clean-living, zealous representatives of dangerous cults can fool people who are normally discerning.

To avoid being duped, we must be aware of the two areas where most false teachers err. First, they usually fail to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God. In Colossians 2, where the apostle Paul warned about false teachers, he placed great emphasis on the deity of Jesus Christ. Notice His words, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9). Second, false teachers sidestep the truth that we are saved by grace through faith alone, and not by works. They set up rules about keeping certain days or observing dietary restrictions. Immediately after stressing the deity of Christ, Paul declared, “And you are complete in Him” (2:10). In other words, there’s no need for sabbath rules (v.16), or such regulations as touch not, taste not, handle not (v. 21).

Be on guard! Don’t believe anybody who says that Jesus is less than God. And be careful not to fall into the trap of legalism, thinking that if you keep a set of rules you are spiritual. Keep uppermost in your mind these words: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him.” – Herbert Vander Lugt

The world is full of false teachers

Who pose as “angels of light”;

They lure weak souls by their tactics

From that which is truthful and right. – H. G. Bosch

The devil makes a falsehood stick by adding to it a few grains of truth.

  • September 30, 1987, Our Daily Bread

Two Calendars (Matthew 24:42)

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Man devised various types of calendars. According to Jewish reckoning, today is Rosh Hashana, or New Year’s Day. The Gregorian calendar, instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, places New Year’s on January 1.

God too has a calendar. It starts at an unspecified time, called “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). It ends when time shall be no more. Somewhere in between are two unprecedented events. The first occurred when God became man. When Jesus was born, God came to earth on a specific day in history (John 1:14). The other event, Christ’s second coming, is future. Although no one knows the year, the month, the day, or the hour, its certainty in our calendar, and in God’s, is assured.

The Latin word kalendae referred to a time in Roman society when accounts became due. So too, at Christ’s second coming we will stand before His judgment seat and give a reckoning of what we have done with our lives (2 Corinthians 5:10). Watchfulness, therefore, should characterize every Christian. Interestingly, the name Gregory (the churchman who set up our calendar) means, “the watchful one or vigilant one.”

Let’s live each day for Christ. Then we will be ready and eager for His sure return to earth. – Dennis J. De Haan

When Jesus comes to reward His servants,

Whether it be noon or night,

Faithful to Him will He find us watching,

With our lamps all trimmed and bright? – Crosby

Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back today.

  • September 30, 1989, Our Daily Bread

Heavenly People (Colossians 3:1)

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Christians are a “heavenly” people. That’s what Paul meant when he told the Ephesians that God has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). True, now we live on earth, but “our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We should therefore “seek those things which are above,” and store up treasure in heaven.

A graphic difference between an earthly-minded person and a heavenly-minded person can be seen in two Middle Eastern tombs. The first is the burial place of King Tut in Egypt. Inside, the walls are covered with precious metal and blue porcelain. The mummy of the king is enclosed in a beautifully inscribed, gold-covered sarcophagus. Although King Tut apparently believed in an afterlife, he thought of it in terms of this world’s possessions, which he wanted to take with him. The other tomb, in Palestine, is a simple rock-hewn cave believed by many to be Jesus’ burial site. Inside, there is no gold, no earthly treasure, and no body. Jesus had no reason to store up this world’s treasures. His goal was to fulfill all righteousness by doing His Father’s will. His was a spiritual kingdom of truth and love.

Are we storing up treasures for earth or for heaven? When this life is over, all we can take with us are spiritual treasures. Everything else stays here. May we seek to be Christlike in thought, word, and deed so that we will live like “heavenly” people. – Paul R. Van Gorder

We store up heavenly treasures

And seek those things above

By caring for other people

And showing them God’s love. – Branon

Wise is the person who gears his goals to heavenly gains.

  • September 29, 1987, Our Daily Bread

Being Like the Bee (1 Corinthians 12:18)

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Do you know what it takes to make a church work well? Some of the same kind of God-given design and purpose that makes a beehive work well. The honeybee has one of the most highly developed social structures in the animal kingdom. At the heart of the hive, which may house as many as 80,000 bees, is the queen bee. Each bee has a specialized duty to fulfill. Some are forager bee who encounter the perils of the outside world in order to collect food. Guard bees protect the hive entrance from intruders. But even more specialized functions are being performed. Scientists have recently learned that a few bees serve as undertakers; they are responsible for removing dead bodies from the hive. And other bees are water collectors who bring in moisture to regulate humidity. In addition, plasterers make a kind of cement to repair the hive, and scent fanners station themselves at the entrance and fan the scent outward to signal the location of the colony to lost or disoriented bees. Another kind of bee, the scout, keeps the hive alerted to opportunities and dangers in the outside world. The variety and specialization of the worker bees seems endless.

Similarly, the Lord has given special tasks and gifts to all the people in His church. No one has been called merely to sit and watch the “queen bee.” Everyone has a job, and the work of the church will not get done unless everyone cooperates. – Martin R. De Haan II

Find out what God would have you do,

And do that little well;

For what is great and what is small,

‘Tis only He can tell. – Anon.

The church should a workshop, not a dormitory.

  • September 30, 1984, Our Daily Bread

His Demands – not Ours (Job 10:2)

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Job experienced a series of tragedies, and the Lord never told him why. His friends accused him of some terrible sin, only increasing his anguish. He cried out to the Lord, but in so doing he made demands on God that he had no right to make (see 10:1-2). We too are inclined to give God orders and expect Him to respond immediately. We are like little children demanding to have their way.

I was idly watching a mother and daughter shopping in the mall. The girl, about 3 years old, wanted a chocolate chip cookie. Her mother denied her request. So the girl replied, “Get me a cookie.” “Not now,” Mom replied, “it’s a half hour before noon and you’ll spoil your lunch with Grandma.” “I don’t care,” the child responded. “Buy me a cookie.” “No,” the mother said firmly, “not now.” Stamping her feet, the daughter shouted, “I want a cookie! Get me one now!” Firmly, and in control, that mother gave her daughter what was best for her – some needed discipline.

Sometimes we make demands of God. We tell Him whom we want to marry, where we want to work, and how we want Him to change our spouse. We insist on it. Oh, how foolish! It’s God who has the right to make demands on us – demands of obedience and loyalty and faith. And they are always of our good. – Dave C. Egner

Let your days be Mine to order;

Where I lead, obedient be.

Let your own desire be nothing;

Only seek to follow Me. – Anon.

It’s God’s right to demand; we have no right but to obey.

  • September 28, 1989, Our Daily Bread

The Christian and Credit (Proverbs 22:7)

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The renowned English preacher Rowland Hill deplored the longing for luxuries that pushes even Christians head over heels into debt. Weak-willed, compulsive buyers lack good judgment in managing their money. Seeking to impress on his congregation the importance of spending wisely, Hill preached a sermon in which he stated, “I never pay any debts.” After a pause he added, “But I have the best of reasons. I never pay any debts because I never have any!

This may be an extreme position, for today America and many other countries depend on borrowing and lending to generate prosperity. But whenever buying on credit is too easy, there’s always the danger of living above our means. When we as believers get into this situation, we give Satan a foothold in our lives.

Is a child of God justified in buying a home or automobile on credit? Yes, if he can be reasonably sure of meeting the obligations involved. He need not feel guilty, for in a sense he is just using what he is buying until the entire debt is paid up. He pays interest for this privilege, and full ownership is not his until all installments have been met. But when these monthly “due dates” are deliberately neglected, legitimate credit becomes a form of stealing.

Do your financial transactions reflect honesty and sound judgment? Remember, your credit rating is part of your testimony! – Henry G. Bosch

We need wisdom of your Word,

We need Your guidance, Lord;

So give us light that we may know

The things we can’t afford. – Anon.

When your outgo (expenditure) exceeds your income, your upkeep (maintenance or cost) can become your downfall.

  • September 30, 1988, Our Daily Bread

The Power of Patience (Galatians 5:22)

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We’ve all heard the prayer: “Lord, make me more patient – and do it now!

Why is it that patience evaporates when we are late for a critical engagement and are caught in a traffic jam? Or we rush to the “10 items or less” line at the store, only to find someone in front of us with 16 items.

Being forced to wait ratchet up the stress and shortens our fuse. When that happens, we not only fail to be patient but we undercut the Spirit’s work in our lives.

Patience is not just a virtue, it’s a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) – which means that demonstrations of impatience reveal the sour fruit of our fallen hearts rather the sweetness of Jesus in our lives. Since God is a patient God, when we abandon patience we miss the opportunity to show our world the glory of God through our lives.

Bursts of impatience only demonstrate that we are more concerned with our own agendas than the needs and struggles of others. So let’s all take a deep breath and turn our focus away from ourselves by patiently loving others instead of ourselves in the midst of stress.

Patience gives us the privilege of sharing the refreshing fruit of God with others. – Joe Stowell

Our wrath uncurbed will not fulfill

God’s perfect plan for us;

We must be patient and refuse

To fret, to fume, to fuss. – Sper

Be patience. Show your world what God is really like.

  • September 25, Vol. 15, Our Daily Bread