Boom! (Joshua 24:15)

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All of us have times when we’d like to be completely free to do whatever we want. We long to break out of our restricting circumstances with what some psychologists call a B-O-O-M – the process of Becoming One’s Own Man. To some extent, BOOM is necessary if we are ever going to mature to the point of taking responsibility for our decisions and actions. But in another sense, total freedom or complete independence is never an option for us. The bible declares that we are servants by nature, even though we might not realize it.

An article I read about a slave-making ant illustrates man’s predicament. Hundreds of these ants of the Amazon periodically swarm out of their nest to capture neighboring colonies of weaker ants. After destroying resisting defenders, they carry off cocoons containing the larvae of worker ants. When these “captured children” hatch, they assume that they are part of the family and launch into the tasks they were born to do. They never realize that they are forced-labor victims of the enemy.

Just as these little creatures are captives from the time of their birth, so we enter the world enslaved to sin and Satan. But there is a solution. By receiving Christ we are released from the condemnation of sin. Then by the Holy Spirit’s power we can begin serving Christ where we are.

We are all servants of one master or the other. Our decision, as Joshua pointed out, is not whether we will serve, but whom we will serve. – Martin R. De Haan II

“Choose you this day!” Time hastens on –

You cannot neutral be;

To serve the world or Christ the Lord,

Choose now which it shall be. – Meyer

True freedom is found in bondage to Christ.

  • February 26, 1987, Our Daily Bread
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You Have Purpose (1 Peter 4:11)

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On a hot day in western Texas, my niece Vania saw a woman standing by a stoplight and holding up a sign. As she drove closer, she tried to read what the sign said, assuming it was a request for food or money. Instead, she was surprised to see these three words: “You Have Purpose.”

God has created each of us for a purpose. Primarily that purpose is to bring honor to Him, and one way we do that is by meeting the needs of others (1 Peter 4:10-11).

A mother of young children may find purpose in wiping runny noses and telling her kids about Jesus. An employee in an unsatisfying job might find his purpose in doing his work conscientiously, remembering it is the Lord he is serving (Colossians 3:23-24). A woman who has lost her sight still finds purpose in praying for her children and grandchildren and influencing them to trust God.

Psalm 139 says that before we were born “all the days ordained for [us] were written in [His] book (v. 16). We are ”fearfully and wonderfully made” to bring glory to our Creator (v. 14).

Never forget: You have purpose! – Cindy Hess Kasper

Lord, it often seems that our lives swing from drudgery to challenges we don’t want. Today help u to see You in the midst of whatever faces us. Show us a small glimpse of the purpose and meaning You bring to everything.

Even when everything seems meaningless, God still has a purpose for your life.

  • June 4, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread

The Greatest Thing (Luke 10:39)

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During a church service I spotted an infant several rows ahead. As the baby peeked over his father’s shoulder, his eyes were wide with wonder as he looked at the members of the congregation. He grinned at some people, drooled, and chewed his chunky fingers, but never quite found his thumb. The pastor’s words grew distant as my eyes kept sliding back to that sweet baby.

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. For Martha, distraction took the form of cooking and cleaning – trying to serve Christ instead of listening to Him and talking with Him. Mary refused to be sidetracked. “Mary . . . sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (Luke 10:39). When Martha grumbled because Mary wasn’t helping her, Jesus said, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (v. 42).

Jesus’ words remind us that our relationship with Him is more important than any of the good things that might temporarily capture our attention. It has been said that good things are the enemies of great things. For followers of Jesus, the greatest thing in this life is to know Him and to walk with Him. – Jennifer Benson Schuldt

What do you think Martha’s distractions were? Was she wanting to be seen as a good host? Or was she jealous of her sister? What attitudes cause you not to make Jesus your top priority?

Teach me, Lord to get to know You, for that’s when I’ll learn to love You more than anything.

  • June 7, Vol. 23, Our Daily Bread

What Really Matters (Philippians 2:3-4)

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Two men sat down to review their business trip and its results. One said he thought the trip had been worthwhile because some meaningful new relationships had begun through their business contacts. The other said, “Relationships are fine, but selling is what matters most.” Obviously they had very different agendas.

It is all too easy – whether in business, family, or church – to view others from the perspective of how they can benefit us. We value them for what we can get from them, rather than focusing on how we can serve them in Jesus’s name. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

People are not to be used for our own benefit. Because they are loved by God and we are loved by Him, we love one another. His love is the greatest of all. – Bill Crowder

Teach me, Lord, to see people as You do – bearing Your image, being worthy of Your love, and needing Your care. May Your great love find in my heart a vessel through which that love can be displayed.

Joy comes from putting another’s needs ahead of our own.

  • June 9, Vol. 24, Our Daily Bread

The God Who is With Us (Jeremiah 23:23-24)

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The legend is told of a man who went to a beggar and asked, “Why do they say God is everywhere? I don’t seed Him anywhere.” The poor man picked up a clod of dirt and hit the other with it. When the man complained that it hurt, the beggar said, “You say you have pain in your head. Show it to me and I will believe it. He had made his point. We don’t have to see God with our eyes to know He is everywhere present. The Bible tells us that He is a spiritual being, He is not limited by time and space.

That fact that God is present in every place is a great comfort and encouragement for the Christian. Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers wrote long ago, “When I walk by the wayside, God is along with me. When I enter into company amid all my forgetfulness of Him, He never forsakes me. In the silent watches of the night, when my eyelids are closed and my spirit has sunk into unconsciousness, the observant eye of Him who never slumber is upon me. I cannot flee His presence, go where I will. He leads me and watches me and cares for me. And the same Being who is now at work in the remotest dominions of nature and of providence is also at my hand, to give me every moment of my being, and to uphold the exercise of all my feeling and of all my faculties.

Yes, we can rest in the assurance that the unseen God is always near. Wherever we go, He walks with us to lead us, assist us, comfort us, and bless us.

Lord, thank you for being the God who is with us. – Dave C. Egner

Lord of all being, throned afar

Thy glory flames from sun and star;

Center and soul of every sphere,

Yet to each loving heart, how near. – Anon.

A skeptic once asked a Christian, “Where is God?” The Christian answered, “First tell me, where is He not?”

  • May 10, 1985, Our Daily Bread

The God Who Shields Us (Psalm 18:2)

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On a visit last year to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C., I marveled at the small capsule that carried our first astronauts into space. The heat shields were particularly fascinating. These protective layers of special material were all that kept the men inside from being burned up as the spacecraft sliced through the atmosphere on its way to splashdown.

Recently the Detroit News carried an article about another kind of shield that I find even more amazing. It is the vast magnetic field that surrounds the earth. Generated by the sun, it is so large that Pioneer 10, which has traveled more than 23 trillion miles, has not yet passed out of its protective influence. Called the heliosphere, this magnetic force shelters our entire solar system from harmful cosmic rays. Without it, life on earth would end.

Recalling the astronauts’ heat shield and reading about our solar system’s heliosphere made me think of the greatest protective shield of allGod Himself. David wrote, “The Lord is … my shield and … my stronghold.” He knew that the Lord could keep him secure in a hostile world. We too can know that same confidence. Even though Satan may attack us and evil may surround us, the Lord is our protector. He guards our way and keeps us safe as we walk in obedience to His will.

If you are frightened by circumstances or feel that the forces against you are too much, take heart. Be courageous. Renew your trust in the God who shields us. – David C. Egner

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. – H. G. Bosch

God is no security against life’s storms, but He is perfect security in life’s storms.

  • April 25, 1985, Our Daily Bread

The Wrong Standard! (2 Corinthians 10:12)

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A little boy proudly announced to his mother, “I’m Goliath. I’m 9 feet tall.” “What makes you say that?” asked his mother. The tyke replied, “Well, I made a little ruler and measured myself with it, and I am 9 feet tall!” Yes, he measured himself all right, but his homemade ruler was defective.

Many people fail to see their need of salvation because they measure themselves by a faulty standard. By looking at their peers and comparing their behavior with others who have done worse than they have, they come to the conclusion that they are not so bad at all. But such feelings of pride are demolished when people compare themselves with a perfect standard of righteousness.

How do measure up spiritually in God’s sight? When the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord in all His glory, he exclaimed, “Woe is men, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). And according to Romans 3:23, we all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. That’s exactly why everyone needs to be saved.

Friend, if you have never given your life to Christ, and if you recognize how far you fall short in the sight of God, place your trust in Him today. Enjoy the true righteousness that is found in Him. If you are measuring your morality against that of other sinners, you are, in the words of today’s text, “not wise.” You are using the wrong standard of measurement! – Richard W. De Haan

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned –

Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,

Till my guilty soul imploring turned

To Calvary. – Newton

If we could merit our own salvation, Christ would not have died to provide it.

  • May 29, 1986, Our Daily Bread