Recalculating (2 Timothy 3:16)

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On a road trip with a friend, we use his GPS navigation device to guide us as we drove each day. After entering our destination on the screen, a voice told us which road to follow, as well as when and where to make each turn. When we left the route, whether accidentally or deliberately, the voice would say, “Recalculating.” Then it would tell us how to get back on the right road.

Second Timothy 3:16 describes the Bible as a spiritual navigation system for our journey through life. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Doctrine tells us which road to travel; reproof tells us when we are off the road; correction tells us how to get back on; instruction in righteousness tell us how to stay on God’s road.

The mistakes and choices that detour us from the Lord are not to be taken lightly. But failure is seldom fatal and few decisions are final. The moment we veer off on our own, the Holy Spirit is “recalculating” and urging us to return to the Father’s way.

If we’ve drifted off course, there’s no better time than right now to heed God’s voice and return to His road. – David McCasland

We need God’s guidance from above,

His daily leading and His love;

As we trust Him for direction,

To our course He’ll give correction. – Fitzhugh

To stay on course, trust the compass of God’s Word.

  • June 25, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread

Someone to Hold On to (Psalm 91:2)

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In his book The Fisherman and His Friends, Louis Albert Banks tells of two men who were assigned to stand watch on a ship out at sea. During the night the waves from a raging storm washed one of them overboard. The sailor who drowned had been in the most sheltered place, while the one who survived was more exposed to the elements. What made the difference? The man who was lost had nothing to hold on to.

What a picture of the way some people are affected by the trials of life! When life is peaceful, they are very self-sufficient, but when the going gets tough they are swept off their feet. Because they have refused God’s help and have nothing to hold on to, they are easily overwhelmed.

People who cling to the Lord, though, can weather the fiercest storms of adversity. They are often heard to say, “I don’t’ know what I would do without the Lord.” They know that the heavenly Father is always with them to strengthen, guard, and protect them.

Those who have put their hope in God have Someone they can rely on in every circumstance of life. They can say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust (Psalm 91:2). Can you? – Richard W. De Haan

He cannot fail, your faithful God,

He’ll guard you with His mighty power;

Then fear no ill, though troubles rise,

His help is sure from hour to hour. – Bosch

God has not promised to keep us from life’s storms, but to keep us through them.

  • June 24, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread

Enemy Deceptions (2 Corinthians 11:3)

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Written in the sixth-century BC by Chinese general Sun Tzu, The Art of War has been a guide for military thinking for centuries. But it has also been used by men and women in a wide variety of other arenas, including leadership, management, business, politics, and sports. What Sun Tzu wrote about military warfare can help followers of Christ understand the tactics of our spiritual enemy: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Likewise the spiritual warfare that Satan wages against us is also based on deceit. In fact, the very first sin was the result of the enemy’s deception. Notice what Paul said: “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ(2 Corinthians 11:3).

This truth is what gives such importance to our Lord’s warning that Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), ever seeking to deceive us. What is our defense? To saturate our hearts in the truth of God’s Word. Only God’s inspired truth can protect us against the deception of the enemy. – Bill Crowder

Father, we know that the devil is clever, deceptive, and sly. We don’t want to be tricked by him to swallow his lies. Help us to discern his cunning methods and fill our minds with Your truth.

God’s truth is the best protection against Satan’s lies.

  • June 23, Vol. 20, Our Daily Bread

Building on the Bible (Psalm 119:2)

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What can be done to improve society? An MTV political correspondent had this unexpected but praiseworthy suggestion: “No matter how secular our culture becomes, it will remain drenched in the Bible. Since we will be haunted by the Bible even if we don’t know it, doesn’t it make sense to read it?

Our culture is indeed “drenched in the Bible.” Whether or not the majority of people realize it, the principle on which the United States was founded, and the values which still permeate our national life, were based on the Holy Scriptures.

Yet God’s Word no longer occupies the commanding place it held in the past. Its ethics are sometimes still praised even though biblical morality is flagrantly violated. So I agree with the political correspondent’s urging that people read the Bible.

We need to do more, however, than just read the Word of God. We need to believe the Bible and put its inspired teachings into practice. The psalmist reminded us that we are to walk in God’s way, to keep His precepts diligently, and to seek Him without whole heart (Psalm 119:2-4). – Vernon C. Grounds

For Your Holy Book we thank You;

May its message be our guide,

May we understand the wisdom

Of the truth Your laws provide. – Carter

The Bible: read it, believe it, obey it.

  • June 22, Vol. 7, Our Daily Bread

Honoring Dad (Exodus 20:12)

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This is Father’s Day. And whether our fathers are still with us or whether they have died, it is a welcomed occasion to give them the honor, recognition, and respect they deserve.

An unknown author, writing about his own father, expressed in poetic form some thoughts with which many of us will identity:

His shoulders are a little bent,

His youthful force a trifle spent,

But he’s the finest man I know,

With heart of gold and hair of snow.

He’s seldom cross and never mean;

He’s always been so good and clean;

I only hope I’ll always be

As kind to him as he’s to me.

Sometimes he’s tired and seems forlorn,

His happy face is lined and worn;

Yet he can smile when things are bad:

That’s why I like my gray-haired dad.

He doesn’t ask the world for much –

Just comfort, friendliness, and such;

But from the things I’ve heard him say,

I know it’s up to me to pay

For all the deeds he’s done for me

Since I sat rocking on his knee;

On, not in dollars, dimes, or cents –

That’s not a father’s recompense;

Nor does he worship wealth and fame –

He’d have me honor Jesus’ name.

All of us can honor our fathers with warm words of love and appreciation. And those of us who have been blessed with godly fathers have still another way of honoring them – by rededicating ourselves to Christ, the object of our father’s love and worship. With the hymnwriter we can say, “Faith of our fathers, holy faith, we will be true to thee till death. That’s the best way to honor Dad! – Richard W. De Haan

Faith of our fathers, we will love

Both friend and foe in all our strife;

And preach thee to, as love knows how,

By kindly words and virtuous life. – Faber

The best inheritance a father can leave his children is a Christian example.

  • June 16, 1985, Our Daily Bread

I’m Sorry (Matthew 5:23-24)

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In his book Reality, Stanley Voke tells of a 6-year-old boy whose morning got off to a bad start. He complained about the clothes he was supposed to wear. He griped about the breakfast his mother had prepared, and he refused to eat it. Then he began to annoy his sisters. He soon found himself so tangled up in trouble that the world seemed to be crumbling around him. Finally his father came along and said, “Now look, young man; we have had nothing but trouble this morning. What are you going to do about yourself?” The boy said nothing for a moment. Then tears filled his eyes as he blurted out, “I’m sorry, Daddy!” Voke commented, “Would you believe it, in 2 minutes the world was right. The family was reconciled, the tears were wiped away, and strangely everything seemed as it should be.

At times we all do and say things that hurt or offend other people. A wedge is driven between us. Bitterness arises. For the relationship to be restored, there has to be an “I’m sorry” from the offender. All too often, however, we refuse to apologize. Pride gets in the way. We’re not willing to be vulnerable. We resent lowering ourselves to make such a confession. But when we do, the rewards are great because we are obeying the Lord.

If we have offended people by harsh words or an unkind act, let’s swallow our pride and ask for their forgiveness. We need to say to them, “I’m sorry,” and really mean it! – Richard W. De Haan

Have you hurt a friend or brother?

Go at once and make things right;

From your heart say, “I’m sorry.”

How these words bring God delight! – D. J. De Haan

A good test of a person’s character is his behavior when he is wrong.

  • June 20, 1988, Our Daily Bread

Judge Rightly (Job 42:7)

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After a national news magazine posted an online story listing my community as one of the top-10 dying cities in the nation, local citizens were outraged. They registered their indignation, pointing out evidence to the contrary. One resident went to great lengths to disprove the harsh judgment. He recruited local citizens to show up downtown and appear in a video that showcased the vibrancy of our community. The video received international attention, and the news magazine admitted it was wrong. But the organization that had done the “research” stood by the conclusion, even though it was based on limited criteria.

Their self-defense surprised me because their careless conclusion seemed indefensible. But then I thought of how common it is to make judgments based on minimal information. One of the classic biblical examples is that of job’s friends. They wrongly concluded that because a series of tragedies happened to him, Job had sinned.

In the end, God defended Job and offered a startling conclusion. He didn’t rebuke his friends for judging Job but for speaking falsely about Himself (Job. 42:7). This is a humbling reminder that when we make careless judgments about others, we are sinning against God. – Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, please restrain my lips when I’m tempted to say

What I shouldn’t say about people made in

Your image. Use my words to bless and not harm.

May I reflect Your heart.

If you are a Christian, remember that people judge your Lord by you.

  • June 19, Vol. 20, Our Daily Bread

Defeat or Victory (1 John 5:4)

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Each year on June 18 the great Battle of Waterloo is recalled in what is now Belgium. On that day in 1815, Napoleon’s French army was defeated by a multinational force commanded by the Duke of Wellington, Since then, the phrase “to meet your Waterloo” has come to mean “to be defeated by someone who is too strong for you or by a problem that is too difficult for you.”

When it comes to our spiritual lives, some people feel that ultimate failure is inevitable and it’s only a matter of time until each of us will “meet our Waterloo.” But John refuted that pessimistic view when he wrote to followers of Jesus: “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).

John weaves this theme of spiritual victory throughout his first letter as he urges us not to love the things this world offers, which will soon fade away (2:15-17). Instead, we are to love and please God, “And this is what he promised us – eternal life (2:25).

While we may have ups and downs in life, and even some battles that feel like defeats, the ultimate victory is ours in Christ as we trust in His power. – David C. McCasland

Lord Jesus, Your ultimate victory in this fallen world is assured, and You ask us to share in it each day of our lives. By Your grace, enable us to overcome the world through faith and obedience to You.

When it comes to problems, the way out is to trust God on the way through.

  • June 18, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread

God’s Way of Thinking (James 3:17)

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Today’s Scripture contrasts two kinds of wisdom. The one is earthly and is dominated by envy and selfish ambition (v. 14). It results in chaos and all kinds of evil (v. 16). The other is heavenly wisdom, which is marked by the qualities listed in verse 17: purity, peace, gentleness, flexibility, mercy, goodness, fairness, genuineness. It is called the “wisdom that is from above.”

I used this verse when speaking to a group of singles, and I asked if anyone could explain how to apply heavenly wisdom to a broken relationship. One woman said, “After my divorce, I was resentful toward my ex-husband. He was free to go out every night; I had to stay home and care for the three children. He lived in a nice apartment; I had to keep our old house in repair. He got lots of attention; I didn’t get any. I became envious and very angry. But then a Christian friend showed me how I was thinking. With God’s help I was able to confess those jealous, angry thoughts and put them aside. I’ve been at peace ever since.”

Wrong thinking leads to envy and resentment, which will only make us miserable. Let’s read and meditate on James 3:17. It’s a guide to right thinking – God’s way of thinking. – David C. Egner

Lord, saturate our thoughts with truth,

And let Your Word in us abide;

While thinking on the pure and good,

May our whole life be edified. – H. G. Bosch

Never put out the welcome mat for an envious thought.

  • June 17, 1993, Our Daily Bread

Happily Ever After? (1 Peter 3:3-4)

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Despite what we’ve heard in countless fairy tales, there’s no guarantee that people who get married will live happily ever after. Things go wrong – sometimes terribly wrong. Even with the best of intentions, we may find ourselves in a house full of resentment, hostility, unrest, and misery. There is no heartache quite like the heartache of an unhappy marriage.

Yet, a difficult marriage can be the setting in which God can deal with “the hidden person of the heart (1 Peter 3:4). Instead of focusing only on what is wrong with our partner, we need to open our heart to the Lord and ask Him to confront the evil in us. He will begin to do so – gently, gradually, graciously. We will begin to see ourselves as we are – and not as the thoughtful, patient, polite, gracious, giving, and self-controlled person we had imagined ourselves to be. We will come to see how much we ourselves need the Savior’s forgiveness and the Spirit’s help to do what is right and loving (vv. 1-12), even when we have been wronged.

Our growth in grace may change our spouse, or it may not. There are no guarantees in life except God’s love. But with His help, we can change. Although all our marriage ills may not be cured, God’s grace can make us well. – David Roper

For better or for worse,” we pledge,

Through sickness and through strife;

And by the help and grace of God

We’ll keep these vows for life. – D. J. De Haan

Success in marriage is no finding the right person but becoming the right person.

  • May 3, Vol. 10, Our Daily Bread