A Tender Plant (Isaiah 53:2)

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The coming of Jesus was like a tender in the midst of a parched ground. Parched ground offers little hope of survival; it is dry and too hardened to allow most plants to penetrate its crust. Yet Jesus was prophesied as a tender plant that would break through the hostile soil and overcome the dry and lifeless environment in order to bring life.

When Jesus was born, His people were hardened to God’s Word. There is not written record of God’s having spoken to His people for four hundred years. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day has studied and memorized the Scriptures, but the words were lifeless to them. So hostile had they become to the truth that when God’s Son came to them, they killed Him. Nevertheless, despite the enmity of the people, Jesus brought life to all who believed in Him.

Jesus is capable of bringing life to any person, society, or culture no matter how hardened or hostile they have become to the gospel. Even the most calloused sinner will discover that Jesus knows how to penetrate the heart and bring life where there was only bitterness. The work of Jesus in a person’s life may seem fragile at first; but like the mustard seed, it will eventually grow into something strong.

As you pray for someone you care about, don’t be discouraged if this person has not responded to Jesus. Just as a tender plant finds a way to grow in a hard and unreceptive environment, so the love of Jesus has the ability to emerge in a life that seems completely unresponsive.

  • December 4, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals

God Waiting (2 Peter 3:9)

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During the Christmas season we wait. We wait in traffic. We wait in checkout lines to purchase gifts. We wait for family to arrive. We wait to gather around a table filled with our favorite foods. We wait to open presents lovingly chosen.

All of this waiting can be a reminder to Christians that Christmas is a celebration of waiting for something much more important than holiday traditions. Like the ancient Israelites, we too are waiting for Jesus. Although He already came as the long-waited Messiah, He has not yet come as ruler over all the earth. So today we wait for Christ’s second coming.

Christmas reminds us that God also waits … He waits for people to see His glory, to admit that they are lost without Him, to say yes to His love, to receive His forgiveness, to turn away from sin. While we wait for His second coming, He waits for repentance. What seems to us like God’s slowness in coming is instead His patience in waiting (2 Peter 3:9).

The Lord is waiting to have a relationship with those He loves. He made the first move when He came as baby Jesus and the sacrificial Lamb. Now He waits for us to welcome Him into our lives as Savior and Lord. – Julie Ackerman Link

God is waiting ijn the silence

As the world goes rushing by;

Will not someone stop and listen,

Answer quickly, “Here am I”? – Smith

God patiently keeps His promises.

  • December 1, Vol. 21, Our Daily Bread

Nowhere Tickets (Acts 4:12)

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We kept getting tickets to nowhere.

We had finished a missions trip to Jamaica and were trying to get home. However, our airline was having problems, and no matter what our tickets said, we couldn’t leave Montego Bay. Over and over we heard, “Your flight has been canceled.” Even though we had purchased our tickets in good faith, the airline could not back up its promise to transport us to the US. We had to stay an extra day before boarding a plane that could take us home.

Imagine thinking that you are headed for heaven, but discovering that your ticket is no good. It can happen. If you trust the wrong plan, you will get to the gate of eternity but be denied entrance into heaven to live with God forever.

The apostle Peter said there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The only ticket to heaven goes to those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as payment for their sins.

Some offer other ways. But those tickets are worthless. To make sure you’re going to heaven, trust Jesus. He’s the only way. – Dave Branon

Lord, I know I’m a sinner and cannot save myself. I need You as my Savior. Thank You for dying in my place and rising again. I believe in You. Please forgive my sin. I want to live with You in heaven someday.

Jesus took my place on the cross and gave me a place in heaven.

  • November 30, Vol. 16, Our Daily Bread

Advent Themes (1 Peter 1:13)

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I believe that all Scripture is related and all Scripture is relevant. Nevertheless, I was surprised when my November reading in the book of 1 Peter touched on all four themes of Adventthat period of time on the church calendar when many Christians prepare to celebrate the first coming of Christ while looking forward to His second coming. During Advent, we emphasize hope, peace, joy, and love, which God sent with Christ.

HOPE. We have an inheritance reserved in heaven, a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3-5).

PEACE. We will love life and see good days if we turn from evil and do good and if we seek peace, for the Lord watches over the righteous and hears their prayers (3:10-12).

JOY. We have inexpressible joy even though we have trials because our faith is the salvation of our souls (1:6-9).

LOVE. We can love one another with a pure heart because we have been born again through the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1:22-23).

Because Christ came the first time, we can live with hope, peace, joy, and love till He comes again. – Julie Ackerman Link

The hope we have in Jesus Christ

Brings joy into our heart;

And when we know the love of God,

His peace He will impart. – Sper

If you’re looking for hope, peace, joy, and love, this Christmas season, look to God.

  • December 1, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread

Taking Responsibility (Genesis 3:12)

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Adam and Eve did everything they could to avoid taking responsibility for their sin. Adam blamed his wife: “She gave me of the tree.” He even pointed an accusing finger at God, saying it was “the woman, who You gave me.” Eve blamed the serpent saying: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” God ignored their excuses and announced that judgment they would face as consequences for their disobedience.

One of the dirges of mankind is that we refuse to take responsibility for our actions. We want to blame others for our problems. Our parents did not raise us well; our friends let us down; our pastor was not a good enough preacher; our children are rebellious; our employer is not sensitive enough; our spouse not understanding; there is not enough time in the day …the excuses are plentiful! Yet forgiveness and restoration cannot happen until we accept full responsibility for our actions.

And obvious indication that we have not genuinely repented is that we make excuses for our sinful behavior. Nowhere in the Scripture does God excuse one person’s sin because of someone’s actions.  If we make a habit of blaming others for our failures, we will not reach a point of honest repentance. God will hold us accountable for our own actions, not others (2 Corinthians 5:10). Strive always to acknowledge and take responsibility for your own sins. It will free you to receive God’s forgiveness and to press on to spiritual maturity.

  • November 26, Experiencing God Daily Devotionals

Actions and Results (Romans 5:15)

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On November 24, 1971, a man known today as D. B. Cooper hijacked a commercial flight between Portland and Seattle by threatening to blow up the plane unless he received $200,000. After landing to receive a ransom, he ordered the plane back into the air. Then the rear stairs of the 727 aircraft were lowered, and he parachuted into the night. He was never captured, and case is still unresolved. This act hastened the age of airport security in which trust and confidence have been replaced by suspicion and fear. What he did affected us all.

The Bible describes two actions that changed the world in a far more significant way. Through Adam’s choice, sin and death entered the world, “and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12). But through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God provided a remedy for the results of sin. “Through one man’s [Adam’s] offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s [Christ’s] righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (v. 18).

Christ did what no one else could do when He broke the power of sin and death by His resurrection. He offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who will accept his gift. And for that, we thank Him with all our hearts. – David McCasland

When Adam sinned, death spread to all –

One act condemned the human race –

But Jesus’ death upon the cross

Provides mankind God’s saving grace. – Sper

The cross of Christ can cure the condemnation of Adam’s choice.

  • November 30, Vol. 19, Our Daily Bread

Ministry of Remembering (Romans 12:15)

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The holidays can be a difficult time for people who are grieving. Friends may be reluctant to mention the name of someone who had died, fearing that it will cause unnecessary pain. But during the next few weeks, friends or family members may need you to talk openly with them about the person they have lost. Call it the “ministry of remembering.”

A chaplain at a Connecticut hospital says, “When you’ve experienced the loss through death of a spouse, child, or parent, it hurts terribly. And when people don’t want to use their names or refer to the death, it’s like losing that person all over again.”

Bereaved people ache for opportunities to talk about their loved one, whether the person died last week or many years ago. Even though remembering may bring tears, it can also produce emotional release and even joy.

Tucked into a series of commands in Romans 12, we find these words: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (v. 15). Sharing a time of remembering with a hurting friend may help to ease a heavy burden.

If someone comes to mind, don’t put it off. Pray, make the call, stop by for a visit, or invite the friend to lunch. It may be the most important thing you do today. – David McCasland

Lord, when I learn that someone is hurting,

Help me know what to do and to say;

Speak to my heart and give me compassion,

Let Your great love flow through me today. – K. De Haan

To ease another’s burden, help to carry it.

  • November 27, Vol. 18, Our Daily Bread