Life Before Death (John 10:10)

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Some people see this life as the only life there is. I wondered that was true of a woman whose unusual obituary appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal. It read:

She was as great card player, and consistently beat the pants off her family in everything from slapjack to bridge …. She gardened and golfed, smoked a cigarette a month and told jokes…. She loved spring flowers, the Indians, her Akron friends, big family meals, her husband, and Bridge Club…. She proved there is life before death.

That woman had a zest for living. But I couldn’t help feeling a little sad as I read the obituary because it seemed she was missing the key ingredient. Jesus said that to have an abundant life we need to have a right relationship with Him (John 10:10). And in a prayer to His Father He said, “This is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent(17:3).

We may find pleasure in games, family relationships, and the beauties of nature. But only by trusting Jesus as our personal Savior, and by living for Him, can we enjoy the abundant life He promised. And that’s a quality of life that will continue after death. – Dennis J. De Haan

We leave earth’s sorrows to seek in Him
The good that earth can’t give;
When fellowship with God is found,
Then we begin to live. – Reich

The most rewarding end in life is to know the life that never ends.
– September 17, 1993, Our Daily Bread

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An Eternal Future (John 5:24)

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Some countries are very old. Their history stretches far into the distant past. Others are fairly new to the world map. Yet, while all nations are destined to disappear, every human soul is destined to live eternally.

This prompted Clive Staples Lewis to say, “If we had foolish unchristian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon.”

Civilizations will fall, but the human soul will live on forever. And because every individual will one day stand and face God’s judgment (Hebrews 9:27), the most important question is how each of us will spend the endless ages stretching before us. Will we be with God in indescribable glory and joy? Or will we be exiled from God, lost forever in a condition too horrible for language to describe?

What a responsibility rests on believers! We must tell people that the only way to spend eternity in God’s presence is to accept His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation (John 5:24). By God’s grace, we can begin rejoicing in eternal life with Him right now! – Vernon C. Grounds

There is a place reserved in heaven
For all who have believed;
Eternal life is freely given
When humbly it’s received. – Sper

When you open your heart to Jesus, heaven is open to you.
– August 30, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread

Is Your Church Suffering? (Acts 8:3)

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What problems exist in your church? A difference of opinion about the bylaws? Financial difficulties? Factions that can’t seem to agree on anything? A pastor who doesn’t quite compare with some popular radio preacher? Maybe you can’t agree on whether to put air conditioner in the sanctuary.

Whenever our churches run into difficulties, and sometimes these difficulties are pretty big, we need to step back and readjust our perspective.

First, we should read again what the first-century church endured (Acts 8). Stephen, one of its leaders, had been martyred. Saul was trying to destroy the church by going from house to house, dragging off Christians and throwing them in to prison.

Second, we should become aware of what is happening to fellow Christians around the world. Some in Africa have been murdered en masse. Others in Russia are being shuffled off to asylums. Many in India are not being allowed to hold jobs.

Now look again at our own church problems. How important are they compared with the plight of those believers? Wouldn’t it please God if we set aside our petty differences and concentrate on His work – advancing the gospel and praying diligently for our suffering fellow believers? – J. David Branon

Church Agreements
• I agree to pray for my pastor each day
• I agree to try to encourage a struggling Christian
• I agree to refrain from petty criticism.

Many Christians problems are solved when its members get on their knees.
– September 10, 1989, Our Daily Bread

To Say More, Talk Less (Proverbs 17:28)

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In 1972, two oil tankers collided under the Golden Gate Bridge, spilling 840 gallons of crude oil into the bay. Dying birds, fish, and seals began washing up on the shore. This prompted a man who lived near the bridge to pursue a simpler life that would require fewer natural resources.

First, he began walking everywhere. Then a year later, he decided to stop talking. He did so to call attention to what was happening to the environment. It worked! As a result of his 13 years of silence, the press took note of his cause and his message. And in the process, he also learned what it meant to really listen to what other people were saying.

I’m not going to suggest that we do something as radical as that. But what this man discovered holds true for us. Talking less can help us not only to hear more but also to be heard more. Often our silence is more eloquent and noteworthy than any words we could say.

Solomon emphasized this truth in Proverbs 17:28. The wise person hears and is heard because he knows both when to talk and when not to. And he has a way of speaking even when he is silent. There is wisdom in talking less in order to say more. – Martin R. De Haan II

If your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care;
Of whom you speak, to whom you speak,
And how and when and where. – Anon.

Don’t break your silence unless you can improve on it.
– September 13, Vol. 7

Respect God’s Name (Exodus 20:7)

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The third commandment was taken so seriously by Israel that at one time the scribes wouldn’t even write the Yahweh (Jehovah) until they had first taken a bath and changed their clothes. Then after they had written it, they would take another bath and change their clothes again.

Their focus on the word itself, however, often overlooked the broader implication of the commandment. James Innell Packer says, “What is forbidden is any use of or involvement of God’s name that is empty, frivolous, or insincere.This includes any irreverence, for it fails to take seriously God’s character and reputation, which is represented by His name. Nor are we to use the name God or Jesus Christ as profanity, because this expresses neither praise, worship, nor faith.

The commandment also relates to breaking a promise when God’s name is used to back one’s word. But even when no reference is made to God, every promise we make to another is done in God’s presence and is therefore as binding as if we had invoked His name.

How the third commandment condemns us all! But thank God for the name Jesus, which means Savior. He provides the forgiveness and help we need to keep the third commandment and become men and women known for being true to their word. – Dennis J. De Haan

In what ways do I hear people misusing God’s name?
How am I guilty of breaking this command?

If you care about God, handle His name with care.
– September 13, 1994, Our Daily Bread

Who Needs t Pray? (Luke 18:1)

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A professor who teaches Christianity in a graduate school was participating in a group discussion on a serious matter. When someone suggested that they ask God for guidance, the professor protested, “Pray! Who needs to pray? We’re men. We can solve our own problems!

Even some people who claim to be Christians have than kind self-sufficient attitude. They think because3 they have brains, experience, and technology, prayer isn’t necessary. How wrong they are!

Henry Stanley (1841-1904), the famous African explorer, wrote, “On all my expeditions, prayer made me stronger, morally and mentally, than any of my non-praying companions. It did not blind my eyes, or dull my mind, or close my ears; but on the contrary, it gave me confidence. It did more; it gave me joy and pride in my work, and lifted me hopefully over the 1,500 miles of forest tracks, eager to face the day’s perils.”

Jesus prayed. And He told us to pray always “and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Without prayerful dependence on God, we lack what it takes to do His will day after day. Prayer enables us to draw on our Father’s limitless resources of grace. Who needs to pray? We all do. – Vernon C. Grounds

I need Thee, O I need Thee,
Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior –
I come to Thee! – Hawks

Nothing is too great or too small to bring to God.
– September 15, 1993, Our Daily Bread

It’s All About the Love (1 John 4:16)

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I saw a sign in front of a church that seems to me to be a great motto for relationships: Receive Love. Give Love. Repeat.

The greatest love that we receive is the love of God. He loved us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to live, die, and rise again to redeem us (1 John 4:9). We receive His love when we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord. As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

 After we experienced God’s love, we then can learn to give love. Let us love one another, for love is of God” (1 John 4:7).

 God’s love enables us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We teach, encourage, and rebuke. We weep and rejoice. The love we give is tender and tough and supportive. We are taught by Jesus even to love our enemies: “Do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Giving love to others can be challenging in some situations, but it’s possible because of the love God has first given to us.

 A good plan for our lives today: Receive love. Give love. Repeat. – Anne Cetas

 For Further Study

How do we experience the love of Christ? (John 15:10)

What is the evidence of God’s love in our lives? (1 John 4:16-21)

How can we show God’s love today?

 Receive love. Give love. Repeat.

  • September 11, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread