Take Heed! (1 Corinthians 10:12)

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The United Press International story began: “We think we shall never see, a holocaust as devastating as a professionally removed tree.” The story was about a man in Washington State who wanted to remove a 100-foot fir tree from a precarious location that threatened his house. So he employed some professional tree removers. Those “experts” made an error, however. The felled the tree all right, but it fell in the wrong direction and cut his house in half.

I imagine those workmen had approached that job quite confidently. After all, they had accomplished similar assignments with no difficulty. But this time was different. They demonstrated that even seasoned professionals are capable of making a mistake.

Years of experience in the Christian life do not guarantee immunity to the subtle snares of temptation. What may be easily avoided by the new Christian could be the downfall of a mature believer. Past victories may cause complacency, or an unsuspected element may catch us unawares and cause us to slip. That’s why experienced Christians need to “take heed” and maintain a close walk with the Lord. We can count on God to be faithful. He will provide the “way of escape” or the strength to stand. Our part is to stay alert to temptation and to resist. – Paul R. Van Gorder

When I’m tempted to do wrong,
Make me steadfast, wise, and strong;
And when all alone I stand,
Shield me with Thy might hand. – Hopps

When temptation knocks, send Jesus to the door.
– November 21, 1989, Our Daily Bread

At the Heart of it (Matthew 12:34)

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Just as a seed is a tree looking for a chance to grow, attitudes are actions looking for an opportunity to take form. Bad attitudes are, as the saying goes, accidents looking for a place to happen. Good attitudes are solutions looking for a problem to solve. In each case, a fruit corresponds with the root condition – good always produces good, and evil always produces evil.

This principle that attitudes reproduce themselves as actions after their own kind is sometimes difficult to recognize – in others as well as ourselves. Good-sounding words and a beguiling smile give the impression of right intentions. Yet, as our Lord showed us, the rule still stands: What a man says and does is in keeping with the attitude of his heart. If good words mask a bad heart, the good words are being expressed for an evil purpose.

This is what the Lord pointed out in Matthew 12. He was standing before men who talked like godly men, but they were actually evil to the core. They were men who, while outwardly speaking against Satan, were in fact his servants. They were merely saying good-sounding things in an evil way. But our Lord unmasked the illusion. He reminded them that someday their own good words would be used against them to reveal the wrongness of the heart that was producing the things they said.

What about us? Are we hiding bad attitudes that are really in the process of becoming actions that dishonor our Savior’s name?Martin R. De Haan II

 From others we can hide some things

We’ve thought and said and done;

We cannot hide them from the Lord,

He knows them, every one. – Cooper

 He who is true to God will not be false to men.

  • November 6, 1985, Our  Daily Bread

Just Do It! (James 1:22)

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John Wesley said it well. Thousands have echoed it since. “The problem of problems is getting Christianity into the life.What is it that makes putting the Christian faith into practice so difficult? Maybe it’s because we assume that it’s enough simply to know God’s truth in our heads.

Most of us have heard more sermons than we can count. We may even take elaborate notes on what we hear. We tune in to several religious broadcasts on the radio, and we watch a few more on television. We read the Bible and read Our Daily Bread regularly. We feel good about what we know, and we are quick to debate anyone who disagrees with our understanding of Scripture.

What else is left? The answer is as simple as it is obvious: Just do it!

At the end of his initial consultation with a client, the famous psychoanalyst Alfred Adler would ask a perceptive question: “And what would you do if you were cured?” the patient would give and answer. Adler would listen, then get up, open the door, and reply, “Well, then go and do it!”

How do you get God’s truth into your life? The answer is as obvious as it is ignored. In God’s strength, and in loving obedience to Him, just do it! – Haddon W. Robinson

Help us, O Lord, to heed Your Word,
Its precepts to obey;
And may we fight the tendency
To go in our own way. – Sper

We master the Scriptures only when the Scriptures master us.
– October 24, 1993, Our Daily Bread

The Good Earth (Genesis 1:9-10)

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While orbiting the moon is 1968, Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders described the crew’s close-up view of the moonscape. He called it “a foreboding horizon … a stark and unappetizing-looking place.” Then the crew took turns reading to a watching world from Genesis 1:1-10. After Commander Frank Borman finished verse 10, “And God saw that it was good,” he signed off with, “God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

The opening chapter of the Bible insists on two facts:

  • Creation is God’s work. The phrase “and God said …” beats in cadence all the way through the chapter. The entire magnificent world we live is the product of His creative work. All that follows in the Bible reinforces the message of Genesis 1: Behind all of history, there is God.
  • Creation is good. Another sentence tolls softly, like a bell, throughout this chapter. “And God saw that it was good.” Much has changed since that first moment of creation. Genesis 1 describes the world as God wanted it, before any spoiling. Whatever beauty we sense in nature today is a faint echo of the pristine state God created.

The Apollo 8 astronauts saw Earth as a brightly colored ball hanging alone in space. It looked at once awesomely beautiful and fragile. It looked like the view from Genesis 1. – Philip Yancey

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace, whose robe is the light, whose canopy space; His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, and dark is His path on the wings of the storm. – Robert Grant

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
– November 11, Vol. 25, Our Daily Bread

Getting Too Busy (Luke 10:41)

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Christians should be engaged in the work of the Lord, but not at the expense of personal fellowship with HimMartha was so “worried and troubled about many things” in serving Jesus that she had no time to commune with Him. The Master therefore pointed out that her sister Mary had chosen the better part of listening to His teachings. Martha meant well, but like many believers today she had a wrong sense of priorities. She had mistakenly put work before worship!

Winona Carroll writes, “From time to time I felt it necessary to give instructions to my new cook when he was preparing a meal. However, with increasing frequency he would interrupt with the remark, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t time to listen now. I’m busy!’ Finally, I stopped him and asked, “Whose work are you doing?’ The answer was obvious, and he was silent. ‘Well, if you’re doing my work,’ I said, ‘then please stop long enough to learn how I want it done.’” I imagine God must often yearn to way the same to us when we become so preoccupied in His service that we haven’t time to listen quietly to His Word and get our lives in line with it.

Someone asked a young man who was deeply in love, “Would you rather talk about your girlfriend or be with her?The question was easy to answer. We need to ask ourselves, “Would I rather spend time serving the Lord or communing with Him? How we answer will determine whether or not we are getting too busy! – Henry B. Bosch

Too busy now, I won’t have time this morning
To breathe in solitude a silent prayer;
Some other time I’ll worship my Redeemer,
When I am not so burdened down with care. – Seal

Time in Christ’s service requires time out for renewal.
– November 8, 1987, Our Daily Bread

Jesus: Our Living Leader (Acts 2:36)

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An article from a Christian periodical related an interesting account about Harry Rimmer. While traveling in Egypt, he had an opportunity to talk with that country’s secretary of state, and in the course of the conversation he brought up the subject of Christianity. Rimmer told the official that Christians believe God has given us three revelations of Himself. “We too, believe that,” said the official, who was a Muslim. “We believe God revealed Himself in the works of creation,” said Rimmer. “We also believe that,” the other responded. Rimmer continued, “We believe God has revealed Himself in a book – the Bible.” The Muslim answered, “We too believe God has revealed Himself in a book – the Koran.” Rimmer declared, “We believe God has revealed Himself in a man – Jesus Christ.” “We also believe God has revealed Himself in a man,” replied the official, “the prophet Mohammed.” “We believe,” added Rimmer, “that Jesus is able to substantiate His claims because He arose from the dead.” The Muslim hesitated, then his eyes fell. Finally, he replied, “We have no information concerning our prophet after his death.

That admission by that Egyptian official underscores the tremendous difference between Jesus Christ and every other religious figure in history. He alone deserves our allegiance, for by His resurrection He has proven beyond question the credibility and truthfulness of His claims.

Are you following Christ, the Living Leader? – Richard W. De Haan

I know that my Redeemer lives;
What joy this blest assurance gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everlasting Head! – Medley

Christianity begins where religion ends – with the resurrection.
– November 17, 1985, Our Daily Bread

A Word from the Wise (Proverbs 21:23)

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James recognized the destructive power and the danger of an uncontrolled tongue. He was not alone. Men and women in many cultures have warned us about the need to guard our speech. This bit of verse by unknown writer says it well:

The boneless tongue, so small and weak, can crush and kill,” declared the Greek.

The Persian proverb wisely saith, “A lengthy tongue, an early death.

Sometimes it takes this form instead: “Don’t let your tongue cut off your head.”

While Arab sages this impart: “The tongue’s great storehouse is the heart.”

From the Hebrew wit, the maxim’s sprung: “Though feet should slip, don’t let the tongue.”

A verse from Scripture crowns the whole: “Who keeps the tongue doth keep his soul.

Is it any wonder that James likened the tongue to a little fire that sets a great forest ablaze, or to the very small rudder that turns a mighty ship in a storm? (James 3:4-6).

O Lord, help us to learn a lesson from the wise. Help us to hold our tongue and not let it slip. – Haddon Robinson

There are some silent people

Whose praises should be sung;

They preach a mighty sermon

By guarding well their tongue. – Posegate

Wise is the person who knows what to say and when to say it.

  • November 15, 1993, Our Daily Bread