Marred (Matthew 1:21)

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During an all-night festival in Paris, five young people, apparently drunk, broke into the Orsay Museum and left a 4-inch gash in a priceless painting by Claude Monet. Culture Minister Christine Albanel said the painting could be restored, but she was deeply disturbed at the damage done by “a purely criminal act.”

One news headline read: “Monet Masterpiece Marred.” To mar is to injure or damage; to spoil, disfigure, or impair. It’s an apt description of sin’s effect on us. We know well the results of our own choices made in ignorance or defiance of God.

As we approach Christmas, it’s good to remember why Jesus was born. The Son of God did not come to establish a nostalgic, family-oriented, commercially successful holiday. The angel told Joseph: “[Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christmas began with a present from God to His sin-damaged world: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

The masterpiece of God’s human creation, marred by turning away from Him, can be restored when we give our hearts to Christ. – David McCasland

He came into this world a babe,

This world that He Himself had made;

He came to do the Father’s will,

That ended on dark Calvary’s hill. – Newstrom

Jesus came to earth to repair our sin-damaged lives.

  • December 10, Vol. 15, Our Daily Bread

Church Membership (1 Corinthians 12:27)

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Church membership has never gotten anyone into heaven. But this doesn’t mean it’s unimportant to be committed to a local church. I once said in a group, “I think every believer should join a church,” to which a Christian couple replied, “But we are not joiners.”

Such a response is contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. True, the Bible doesn’t command believers to “join” a church, because they are already members of the church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). But the Bible does instruct Christians to be actively involved in a local group of believers. This includes identifying with Christ and His people through baptism, the Lord’s Supper, exercising one’s spiritual gifts, studying God’s Word, fellowshipping, praying together, and being accountable to one other (Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Hebrews 10:24-25; 13: 7, 17; 1 Peter 5:5).

Each local church is the body of Christ in miniature. Thus, the church is more than an organization; it is a living organism, manifesting Christ in the world (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

Commitment to and active fellowship in a local church is biblical. Christ willingly identified with us by bearing our sin in His own body. Shouldn’t we be willing to identify with His body by uniting with a local group of His people? – Dennis J. De Haan

The church, a living body, containing all the parts –

It lives, it moves, it functions, and touches many hearts;

When each part is committed to do the Savior’s will,

His members are united, His purpose they fulfill. – Fitzhugh

The Church is a living body and must have working parts.

  • March 12, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Lessons of the Coke Bottle (Romans 5:20)

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Pastor Louie was preaching on the pervasiveness of sin. “It’s everywhere!” he stated emphatically. He told about waiting for a traffic light when he saw the man in the car in front of him finish his Coke, open the door, set the glass bottle on the street, and drive away.

“That was wrong!” Louie said. “It was a selfish sin! He could have caused someone to have a flat tire or even an accident.” We don’t typically think of littering as sin, but it is a clear evidence of our inherent selfishness.

Later, as Louie as greeting people by the door, a Bible professor at a local Christian university said quietly as he walked by, “Sin puts the bottle on the street, but grace picks it up.

Now, many years later, Louie has not forgotten the lesson of that scriptural principle. It comes right out of Romans 5, one of the most uplifting texts in the Bible describing the grace of God. Adam’s transgression brought sin into the world (v. 12), and its consequences spread to all people. But God responded with grace, offering forgiveness through His Son to all who choose to believe. The human race sinned, and God answered with abounding grace (v. 20).

God does much more than just “pick up the bottle,” He cleanses the heart of the transgressor! – Dave C. Egner

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,

Freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face,

Will you this moment His grace receive? – Johnston

Confession of sin is the soil in which forgiveness flourishes.

  • December 9, Vol. 15, Our Daily Bread

Consider the Landing (Hebrews 9:27)

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A page in the 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said  calendar had this amazing quote: “If you bought our course, ‘How To Fly in Six Easy Lessons,’ we apologize for any inconvenience caused by our failure to include the last step chapter, ‘How To Land Your Plane Safely.’ Send us your name and address and we will send you the last chapter posthaste. Requests by estate will be honored.”

I really can’t imagine a pilot taking off in a plane without knowing how to land it. But then, crazier things than that have happened in our world.

I can imagine, though, that some people are “flying” through life without thinking they’re headed and what will happen immediately after they die. They’re like a college student who wrote, “I don’t about things until they happen. Death is still a long way away.”

No matter what our age, we need to be thinking about the end of life now. Paul emphasized the urgency of this when he wrote, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

If you have never trusted in Christ, do it now! Then, when you flight through life is over, you can know that you’ll land safely on heaven’s shore. – David C. Egner

Now is God’s appointed time,

Accept Him while you may;

Tomorrow is uncertain,

God’s promise is today. – Bostrom

When it’s time to die, make sure that’s all you have to do.

  • March 10, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Repentance is for Everyone (Luke 5:32)

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A local newspaper carried an article about my work of helping drug addicts. Later, the paper published this letter: “I commend Mrs. Yoder for trying to help drug addicts, but sadly, she is dealing with a problem that shouldn’t be there in the first place.” That’s true, but it’s no use saying it shouldn’t be there – it already is!

Sin shouldn’t be here at all. Yet God anticipated our sin and prepared a perfect sacrifice – “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). In Romans 5:8, Paul emphasized that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

No matter what circumstances drive us to God, He won’t deride us for honestly seeking His deliverance from our most regrettable sins. Jesus insisted He came into the world for this very reason, not to “call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). When we repent, we not only admit our wrongs, but we willingly turn from them and open ourselves to God’s transforming power.

Repentance is necessary to enter into a relationship with Christ. Daily repentance is necessary to stay in close fellowship with Him and to grow spiritually. Both lead us to the fountain of God’s forgiveness and His life-changing power.

Which repentance do you need today? – Joanie Yoder

When we confess our sins to God,

We’re washed as white as snow;

And He keeps on forgiving us

Each time to Him we go. – Sper

If you are truly sorry for your sins, you will want to give them up.

  • November 29, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread

Called by Name (Luke 19:5)

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At the beginning of the academic year, a school principal in our city pledged to learn the names of all 600 students in her school. Anyone who doubted her ability or resolve could look at her track record. During the previous year she had learned the names of 700 students, and prior to that, 400 children in a different school. Think of what it must have meant to these students to be recognized and greeted by name.

The story of Zacchaeus and Jesus (Luke 19:1-10) contains a surprising element of personal recognition. As Jesus passed through the city of Jericho, a wealthy tax collector named Zacchaeus climbed a tree in order to see Him. “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make hasted and come down, for today I must stay at your house’” (v. 5). Instead of ignoring Zacchaeus or saying “Hey, you in the tree,” Jesus called him by name. From that moment on, his life began to change.

When it seems that no one knows you or cares who you are, remember Jesus. He knows us by name and longs for us to know Him in a personal way. Our Father in heaven sees us through His eyes of love and cares about every detail of our lives. – David McCasland

Father, thank You that my value in Your eyes is not determined by what I do but simply by the fact that You created me. Help me to recognize that same value in others as I represent You to the world.

Jesus knows you by name and longs for you to know Him.

  • December 4, Vol. 22, Our Daily Bread

Peace (Colossians 1:21)

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In the days of Adam and Eve, peace was lost. As soon as they ate the forbidden fruit and realized their nakedness, they started blaming each other (Genesis 3:12-13) and introduced conflict to God’s peaceful planet. Sadly, all of their descendants, including us, have followed their bad example. We blame others for our own bad choices and become angry when no one will accept the guilt. Blaming others for our unhappiness breaks apart families, churches, communities, and nations. We can’t make peace because we’re preoccupied with placing the blame.

Christmas is the season of peace. The Old Testament tells the story of how God set the stage to introduce the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus came to break the cycle of sin and blame by making peace for us with God “through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). Instead of blaming us for all the trouble we cause, He bore the blame for all of us. He is now recruiting followers who, having received His forgiveness, want others to receive it as well.

When we accept forgiveness from God, we lose our desire to withhold it from others. And when we live in peace with God, we are eager to make peace with others. We can both give and receive the gift of peace this Christmas. – Julie Ackerman Link

At Christmastime we celebrate

The coming of the Prince of Peace;

Though now our world is locked in strife,

One day He’ll make all conflict cease. – Sper

Jesus took our place to give us His peace.

  • December 4, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread