Pretenders (Matthew 23:28)

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For 11 years a Massachusetts man kept his secret hidden from others. No one suspected that anything was wrong. Even at home his behavior appeared normal. He would sit down with the newspaper every night after dinner, and not even his wife knew of his problems.

But they day came when he couldn’t take the strain of covering up any longer. After years of guarding his secret, he finally confessed – he couldn’t read. He had been a pretender.

Many people put on a front in their spiritual lives. They appear to be Christians. They speak the language, join a church, and are careful to hide their sins. They act piously and try to make a good impression, and people assume that they are Christians. But deep down inside, these spiritual actors know they have never admitted their sinful condition to God and placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation. Outwardly, they “appear righteous,” but inwardly they are “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28).

Have you been faking it? You may fool others, but you can’t fool God. He sees what’s in your heart. Don’t be a pretender. Receive God’s Son as your Savior. Experience the real thing. – Richard W. De Haan

Though some may call you Christian

Because you act the part,

It’s what God say that matters –

Does Christ live in your heart? – Bosch

You can have tons of religion without an ounce of salvation.

  • July 5, Vol. 11, Our Daily Bread

A History Lesson (Psalm 33:12)

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Could the United States be headed down a path similar to that of ancient Rome? Let’s look at the five key reasons for Rome’s downfall, as set forth by Edward Gibbon in his classic work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. They are:

  1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home.
  2. Increasing taxes and spending of public money for bread and circuses.
  3. The mad craze for pleasure, with sports becoming more exciting and more brutal.
  4. The building of gigantic armaments, when the real enemy is the decadence of the people.
  5. The decay of religion, with faith fading into mere form.

Do those sound familiar?

From the first years of America’s history, the founding fathers acknowledged God’s providence and recognized that the nation’s destiny was in His hands. But today we see His name being dishonored, His standards of right and wrong mocked, and His claims ignored. As a result, some of the same traits that sapped the power of the Roman Empire are slowly draining our nation’s strength.

So what can Christian citizens of the United States – or of any other country – do to preserve their nation from decline? We should tell others about Christ and the importance of faith in God. We also need to stand up for truth and justice and call for our leaders to rule according to righteousness.

History’s lesson is clear: No nation can long endure whose God is not the Lord. – Paul R. Van Gorder

Grant wisdom, Lord, and strength to all

Who serve our country’s need;

Forgive our sins, and heal our land –

In Jesus’ name we plead. – Land

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.

  • July 4, 1988, Our Daily Bread

A Personal Faith (2 Timothy 1:12)

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Just knowing the facts of the gospel is not enough. One must actively place his faith in Christ to be saved. Notice that the apostle Paul could say with absolute assurance, “I know whom I have believed. You see, he had acted upon what he knew of Christ and had found Him to be completely trustworthy. Let me illustrate.

In 1893, engineer George Ferris built a machine that bears his name – the Ferris wheel. When it was finished, he invited a newspaper reporter to accompany him and his wife for the inaugural ride. It was a windy July day, so a stiff breeze struck the wheel with great force as it slowly began its rotation. Despite the wind, the wheel turned flawlessly. After one revolution, Ferris called for the machine to be stopped so that he, his wife, and the reporter could step out. In braving that one revolution on the windblown Ferris wheel, each occupant demonstrated genuine faith. Mr. Ferris began with the scientific knowledge that the machine would work and that it would be safe. Mrs. Ferris and the reporter believed the machine would work on the basis of what the inventor had said. But only after the ride could it be said of all three that they had personal experiential faith.

What about you? Do you merely know that facts of the gospel? That’s not enough. You must place your trust in Christ as our personal Savior. Only then will you have saving faith and be able to say as did Paul, “I know who I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” – Paul R. Van Gorder

My faith has found a resting place –

Not in device nor creed;

I trust the Ever-living One –

His wounds for me shall plead. – Edmunds

Faith: Forsaking All, I Take Him.

  • July 3, 1984, Our Daily Bread

“Whatcha Doin’?” (Ephesians 5:15)

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While staying at our house for a while, my granddaughter Addie began asking, “Whatcha doin’ Grandpa?” over and over. Whether I was working at my computer, putting on my shoes to go outside, sitting down to read, or helping in the kitchen, she sidled up to me and asked what I was doing.

After answering her a few dozen times with, “Paying bills,” “Going to the store,” “Reading the paper,” “Helping Grandma,” I came to the conclusion that she was asking a key question.

Answering to a curious little girl about everything we do is one thing, but answering to God about our actions is infinitely more important. Wouldn’t it helpful to think of God coming alongside us at any time to ask, “What are you doing?” Imagine how often our answers would seem meaningless of empty.

I’m spending the entire evening watching TV.” “I’m eating more food than I should.” “I’m going another day without talking to You.” “I’m arguing with my spouse.” The list could go on – to our embarrassment.

We are told to use our time carefully – with Gods glory in sight (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23). Paul said, “Be very careful, then, how you live(Ephesians 5:15). So, it’s a good question. God wants to know: “Whatcha doin’? – J. David Branon

We’re all accountable to God

For how we use our time each day;

Are moments chosen carefully,

Or wasted mindlessly away? – Sper

Beware of spending too much time on matters of too little importance.

  • July 2, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread

No River of Disappointment (John 14:6)

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Sir Alexander Mackenzie is a Canadian hero. An early fur trader and explorer, he accomplished a magnificent feat when he led an expedition across Canada from Fort Chippewyan on Lake Athabasca to the Pacific Ocean. His incredible journey was completed in 1793, 11 years before Lewis and Clark began their famous expedition to the west.

Mackenzie’s earlier attempt in 1789, however, had been a major disappointment. His explorers had set out in an effort to find a water route to the Pacific. The valiant group followed a mighty river (now named the Mackenzie) with high hopes, paddling furiously amid great danger. Unfortunately, it didn’t’ empty into the Pacific but into the Arctic Ocean. In his diary, Mackenzie called it the “River of Disappointment.”

Many people are following religions that will lead to ultimate disappointment. Because they are not based on Christ, they are false and will not lead to heaven. Only Jesus, the eternal Son of God, can take us to the waters of eternal life.

We must not be fooled by those who teach another way to God. And we must help others to see that the Lord Jesus Christ is man’s only hope. By trusting Him as our Savior, we will not end up on a “River of Disappointment.” – David C. Egner

There is no other name on earth

By who salvation’s given

Save Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God,

God’s precious gift from heaven. – Stairs

Religion may inform and reform, but only Christ can transform.

  • July 1, 1990, Our Daily Bread

Gratitude (Colossians 3:17)

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Among the first words many of us were taught to say are please and thank you. No one gets quite as excited as a parent or grandparent when a toddler first utters those words and makes the connection between asking politely and receiving gratefully.

But I suspect that as we grow older we become more adept at saying please than thank you, especially with our heavenly Father. We focus more on pressing needs than on previous provisions; we petition more than we praise. And while God invite us to come to Him with all our needs, He also urges us to make gratitude a habit.

In Colossians 3:15, Paul instructed every follower of God to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” Then three times he reminded us to remain grateful to God: “be thankful(v. 15); sing with gratitude to the Lord (v. 16); “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him(v. 17).

Dr. Michael Avery, president of God’s Bible School in Cincinnati, Ohio, has said: “Very few things honor and glorify God more than the sweet fragrance of a thankful soul. It expels gloom and ushers in sweet peace and blessed hope. Gratitude encourages graciousness.”

It’s good to give thanks to God. – David C. McCasland

We thank You, Lord, for blessings

You give us on our way;

May we for these be grateful,

And praise You every day. – Roworth

Gratitude should be a continuous attitude, not just an occasional incident.

  • June 28, Vol. 13, Our Daily Bread

A Sinful Challenge (Luke 11:29)

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Woody Allen once said, “If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.” He was joking, but he was expressing an attitude that is quite common. God, though, doesn’t respond to such frivolous challenges to prove His existence. In fact, if the average person discovered $10 million in his bank account, instead of thinking of God he would probably assume that it was a computer error or a clerical mistake.

Many people in Jesus’ day persisted in denying His deity, in spite of His obvious miracles. As a result, they demanded “a sign from heaven” (Luke 11:16). Jesus refused their arrogant, insulting demand. Their real problem was not a lack of evidence; it was their stubborn unbelief.

Such unbelief exists today, even though God has provided ample of evidence as a basis for faith. There is the testimony of nature and conscience (Romans 1:20; 2:14-15), the history of the life of Christ (Hebrews 1:1-4), and the work of the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives (1 John 3:24; 4:13). To demand more is sinful!

Our responsibility is to believe the testimony that God has provided, to trust in His Son, and to obey Him (John 3:36; 1 John 2:3-6; 5:1-13). When we do, He gives us inner assurance that we are His, which makes further signs unnecessary. – Herbert Vander Lugt

Some people seek a sing,

Which shows their faith is small;

But those who look to Christ alone

Will find in Him their all. – Fitzhugh

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed. – John 20:29

  • June 29, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

In God’s Presence (Proverbs 1:7)

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As a farm boy in North Dakota, I often had a sense of awe when I looked at the sky on a clear day or when I listened to the rolling thunder of an approaching storm. God seemed so great, and I felt so small. I often had the same feeling when I entered the church sanctuary or heard my father pray. Today, though, I admit at times I tend to be quite casual when I think of God, pray, study the Bible, or engage in worship.

When we assemble to worship, sing, pray, and listen to the message, we often do these things half-heartedly and with little sense of the fear of God. Ecclesiastes 5 speaks to those issues and warns us not make promises to God carelessly and superficially!

We are inclined to hear only part of what God is saying to us through His Word. But genuine hearing includes careful listening accompanied by obedience. Unkept vows are also a serious matter (vv. 2, 4-6). Just as many dreams have no basis in reality, the careless speech of the fool in God’s presence is empty (vv. 3, 7).

Always keep in mind how great and holy God is, and how small and sinful we are. Thank Him for His mercy and grace. This solemn contemplation of the Lord’s character will help us obey the admonition to “fear God (v. 7). – Herbert Vander Lugt

A house of worship is a place

For praise and reverent prayer;

Let holy thoughts your spirit fill

Each time you enter there. – Bosch

The fear of God is the beginning of true worship.

  • May 28, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Standing Before God (2 Corinthians 5:10)

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During preparation for jury duty, I watched a videotape that said: “All across the state, jury panels are being assembled to sit in judgment of others, just as one day people may assemble to sit in judgment of us.

Being judged by a jury of peers is possible, but standing before Almighty God is certain. Our works will be evaluated and our reward determined by the Lord.

All of us will be morally and spiritually audited. The Lord will review every entry in the ledger of our lives. Not only what we did on earth but also the reasons why we did it will be known and judged.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the assurance that when we die we will be “present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). With that in mind, Paul wrote, “We make it our aim … to be well pleasing to Him. for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body … whether good or bad(vv. 9-10).

Instead of cringing with fear, we can live with joy as we seek to please God and look forward to our heavenly reward. Let’s strive to make sure our actions and motives will be found worthy, not worthless, on the day we stand before God. – David C. McCasland

To me it matters little

If my life is long or short,

If only at Christ’s judgment seat

I have a good report. – Anon.

Our salvation depends on what Christ did for us; our reward depends on how we live for Him.

  • June 27, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

The Song of the Saints (Revelation 15:4)

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We’ve all heard the expression, “I don’t get mad, I just get even.” Reading about the judgments described in Revelation, one might assume that God will get “even” with sinners for their phenomenal offenses throughout the history of mankind.

The truth is that God’s final judgment is a necessary expression of His holy justice. He can’t turn a blind eye to sin. In fact, if He doesn’t finally carry out justice as described in Revelation, it would be a denial of His holy character. That’s why in the midst of His judgments, the saints will sing His praise: “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy….  Your judgments have been manifested (15:4). Those who know God best do not judge Him for His judgments; rather, they worship and affirm His actions.

What should surprise us is not the massive scale of God’s judgments, but that He’s waiting so long! Desiring that none should perish but that all should come repentance (2 Peter 3:9), God is now mercifully restraining His judgment and giving maximum space to His marvelous mercy and grace. Now is the time to repent and take advantage of His patient love. And when we do, we’ll join the saints in praising Him for all eternity! – Joe Stowell

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure –

That saints’ and angel’s song. – Lehman

When God’s justice is finally and fully revealed, His praises will resound!

  • June 26, Vol. 16, Our Daily Bread