The Two Bears (Proverbs 13:10)

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Some years ago, my wife, Carolyn, and I spent a few days camping on the flanks of Mount Rainier in Washington State. When we were returning to our campsite one evening, we say in the middle of a meadow two male bears boxing each other’s ears. We stopped to watch.

There was a hiker nearby, and I asked him what the conflict was about. “A young female,” he said.

“Where is she?” I asked.

“Oh, she left about 20 minutes ago,” he chuckled. Thus, I gathered, the conflict at this point was not about the female bear but about being the toughest bear.

Most fights aren’t about policy and principle, or about right and wrong; they’re almost always about pride. The wise man of Proverbs swing his axe at the root of the problem when he writes: “Pride leads to conflict (13:10). Quarrels are fueled by pride, by needing to be right, by wanting our way, or by defending our turf or our egos.

On the other side, wisdom resides with the well-advised – those who listen and learn, those who allow themselves to be instructed. There is wisdom in those who humble themselves – those who set aside their own selfish ambition; who acknowledged the limits of their own selfish ambition; who listen to the other person’s point of view; who allow their own ideas to be corrected. This is the wisdom from God that spreads peace wherever it goes. – David Roper

Dear heavenly Father, help me as I battle pride today. It’s so easy to take my eyes off You and focus on myself. Give me a humble heart.

Humility brings wisdom.

  • September 12, Vol. 23, Our Daily Bread

Pleasing God, Pleasing Others (Galatians 1:10)

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At times you will have to make a choice between pleasing God and pleasing those around you, for God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). As important as it is to strive for good relations with others, it is even more important to maintain a steadfast and obedient relationship with Christ. Disobeying God to keep peace with other people is never wise. Peace with God is always paramount.

Jesus warned that obeying Him might cause division in your relationships (Matthew 10:35-36). If Paul’s goal had been to please others, he would never have become an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul went completely against the wishes of his colleagues in order to obey Christ. At times, obedience to God sets family at odds with each other (Matthew 10:35-36). When you follow Jesus’ lordship, your family may misunderstand, or even oppose you, yet your obedience to God reflects your identity as His child. Jesus said that those who obey His will are His brothers and sisters (Luke 8:21). God does not intend to divide the home, but He places obedience before domestic harmony.

It is important to get alone in quietness with God so that you understand what pleases Him. The world’s thinking will misled you more easily when you are not clear about what God desires. It broke Peter’s heart to know that the opinion of a servant girl had mattered more to him than the approval of his Lord! If the desire to appease others tempts you to compromise what you know God wants you to do, learn from Peter’s mistake. Determine that you will please your Lord regardless of the opinions of others.

  • August 11, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals

Arm Your Conscience (Psalm 119:11)

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Have you ever had a guilty conscience? Sure. We all have, and it’s not a good feeling. But we should be thankful for our conscience because it is a gift from God. It sends us signals about right and wrong. It helps us to make good choices or to correct bad ones.

But how does conscience know what to make us feel guilty about? Where does it get its information? Much of it comes from our upbringing or from our secular society. That’s why it is vitally important to know the Bible. It gives us God’s view of right and wrong. It arms our conscience with truth, strengthening us to resist the weak morals and lame rationalizations of a morally decadent society.

A young man who had been a Christian only a short time was sent to Asia for a military assignment. He was surrounded by temptation and open invitations to sin. No one back home would ever know. When he got back to the States, he said, “I’m so glad I studied the Bible I went. When you’re 10,000 miles from home, it’s easy to think you’re 10,000 miles away from God. But the Scriptures and my conscience were my source of strength in resisting temptation.”

Thank God for your conscience. Arm it with the truth of God by learning His Word. You’ll be glad you did – wherever you are! – Dave C. Egner

My conscience must be well-informed

From God’s own sacred Word,

For conscience may be much deformed

When standards pure are spurned. – Fraser

Conscience is a trustworthy compass if the Word of God is our chart.

  • August 5, 1992, Our Daily Bread

Safe in our Substitute (Isaiah 53:5)

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As a missionary told the story of Jesus to a tribe in South Africa, the chief listened intently. When the missionary finished, the chief asked to repeat the story. As he got to the part about Jesus’ death, the chief suddenly rushed forward and pleaded, “Hold on, Bwana, hold on! Take Jesus down from the cross! Take Him down! He doesn’t belong there. I do! Take Him down and put me there!” the tribal chief had recognized this important biblical truth: Jesus died as our substitute.

A look at various verses reminds us how clearly God’s Word explains this concept:

Isaiah 53:6, “… the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

1 Peter 2:24, Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”

Romans 8:32, “He … did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.”

1 Peter 3:18,For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.

Yes, God judged our sin in the person of His Son. The wrath that should have fallen on us fell completely on Jesus, our Sin-Bearer. When in faith we believe on Christ, God credits to our account His righteousness. We can no longer be condemned. By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice, we become safe in our Substitute. – Paul R. Van Gorder

Wounded for me, wounded for me,

There on the cross He was wounded for me;

Gone my transgressions and now I am free,

All because Jesus was wounded for me. – Ovens

Christ become a curse FOR us to remove sin’s curse FROM us.

  • August 15, 198, Our Daily Bread

Destroying the Destroyers (Revelation 11:18)

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A young woman tearfully confessed that she was having doubts about God because she sees so many wicked people getting by with their sin. A relative had been murdered by two dope-crazed young men who had not been apprehended. She asked, “Why does God sit by and let these evil people destroy our country?” I thought about Revelation 11:18 where we read that God will “destroy those who destroy the earth.” The Lord will ultimately bring about perfect justice for everyone. Many passages in the Bible, like Revelation 11:15-19, depict Christ’s return to defeat His foes and establish His kingdom of righteousness and peace.

Our faith is tested during this age when we see the enemies of God boldly promoting evil just because the Almighty doesn’t punish them immediately. Those who peddle dope, produce pornographic materials, encourage homosexuality, mistreat their fellowmen, and promote secular humanism can indeed be called “destroyers.” They are weakening the moral fiber of our world. Were it not for the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit through the church, these forces of evil would soon bring about the total disintegration of society. The time is coming, however, when the Lord will suddenly and dramatically come from heaven and destroy the destroyers. For believers in Christ, this is a great encouragement. For unbelievers, it’s a somber warning! – Herbert Vander Lugt

God rules as sovereign on His throne,
He judges great and small;
And all who would destroy His earth
Beneath His rod shall fall. – D. J. De Haan

The sinner has only two options: to be pardoned or to be punished.
– August 1, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Perfect Justice (Revelation 20:12)

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Rom Eaton spend 16 years in prison even though he was innocent. At the end of that time behind bars, he made this observation: “I didn’t have a dime in my pocket or a friend in the world when they put me on trial for armed robbery. That’s why I spend 16 years in prison for a crime committed by two other men while I was 1,700 miles away. I am free now, completely vindicated. Life played a dirty trick on me in Circuit Court.”

Such an injustice will never occur in God’s “courtroom.” No one will ever hear the penalty of another person’s guilt. No one will be able to claim he or she got a “bad rap” or was the victim of a “dirty trick.”

Today’s Scripture reading previews that day when the unsaved will stand before God, the supreme Judge. The charges made against them will be confirmed by the record of their lives in the books that show their works. The Book of Life will also be opened, and that fact that their names are not found in it will prove that they never trusted in Christ.

Unlike Rom Eaton, who did suffer a cruel injustice, those who appear at the great white throne judgment will agree with the verdict. That’s why we must urge all people to accept Christ’s offer of pardon now before it’s too late. With God there is perfect justice. – Richard W. De Haan

When we are called upon to stand
Before the Lord someday,
Will we anticipate His praise
Or dread what He will say? – Anon.

To reject God’s grace is to incur His judgment.
– August 15, 1992, Our Daily Bread

Put Away Evil (Deuteronomy 22:21b)

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It is a dangerous and costly mistake not to take temptation seriously. The sad testimony of many who have succumbed to sin’s enticements is that they thought they were strong enough to remain in the midst of temptation and resist it. God requires that His people removed evil from their midst (Deuteronomy 21:21). One way to do this is to remove anything in your environment that may tempt you to sin. When wickedness surrounds you, you are in danger of becoming anesthetized to its destructive potential. Never assume that you are immune to temptation. Do not underestimate the craftiness of the evil one.

God does not tolerate evil, for evil cost the death of His Son. Sin causes untold pain and destruction to everyone it touches. Treating evil lightly shows foolish disregard for God’s redemptive work. An honest evaluation of your life will reveal temptations that you should remove, such as some forms of entertainment or ungodly relationships. When God convicts you of evil in your midst, remove it immediately!

There are times, however, when you are powerless to remove ungodly influences, so you must remove yourself from the temptation. Paul urges us to avoid every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). When Joseph was enticed to commit adultery by his master’s wife, he fled immediately! (Genesis 39:12).

Do not lose your abhorrence of sin. Be diligent to keep any form of temptation out of your home, out of your relationships, out of your mind. You can do this only by maintaining your love relationship with God, recognizing that you are powerless to resist temptation in your own strength. You will not be able to walk closely with God unless you see sin as He sees it. Darkness and light cannot coexist. Run from the darkness to the light!
– August 9, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals