Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Re-post From Bill Crowder of Our Daily Bread

Extravagant Gifts

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
When I was pastoring a small church, we faced a huge crisis. Unless we could complete the extensive renovations necessary to bring our building up to the proper safety codes, we would lose our place of worship. A desperate time of fundraising ensued to pay for those renovations; but of all the money given, one gift captured our leadership’s attention.
An elderly woman in the church donated several hundred dollars to the project—money we knew she could not spare. We thanked her for her gift but wanted to return it, feeling that her needs were greater than the church’s. However, she refused to take the money back. She had been saving for years in order to buy a stove and was cooking on a hot plate in the meantime. Yet she insisted that she needed a place to worship with her church family more than she needed a stove. We were astounded by her extravagant gift.
When our Lord observed a widow putting two mites (the smallest of coins) into the temple offerings, He praised her for her extravagance (Luke 21:3-4). Why? Not because of how much she gave, but because she gave all she had. It’s the kind of gift that not only honors our God, but also reminds us of the most extravagant of gifts to us—Christ.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what can I give Him—give my heart. —Rossetti
Gratitude of heart can often be seen in a generous spirit.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Re-post From Anne Cetas of Our Daily Bread

Praying Friends

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
I met my friend Angie for lunch after having not seen her for several months. At the end of our time together, she pulled out a piece of paper with notes from our previous get-together. It was a list of my prayer requests she had been praying for since then. She went through each one and asked if God had answered yet or if there were any updates. And then we talked about her prayer requests. How encouraging to have a praying friend!
The apostle Paul had a praying relationship with the churches he served, including the one at Thessalonica. He thanked God for the faith, love, and hope of the people (1 Thess. 1:2-3). He longed to see them, and asked God “night and day” that he might be able to visit them again (3:10-11). He requested that the Lord would help them “increase and abound in love to one another and to all” (v.12). He also prayed that their hearts would be blameless before God (v.13). They must have been encouraged as they read about Paul’s concern and prayers for them. Paul knew too his own need for God’s presence and power and pleaded, “Brethren, pray for us” (5:25).
Loving Father, thank You for wanting us to talk with You. Teach us all to be praying friends.
I need the prayers of those I love
While traveling on life’s rugged way,
That I may true and faithful be,
And live for Jesus every day. —Vaughn
The best kind of friend is a praying friend.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Re-post From David C. Egner of Our Daily Bread

Jesus’ Team

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
In 2002 the Oakland Athletics built a winning baseball team in an unorthodox way. They had lost three top players after 2001, and the team didn’t have money to sign any stars. So Oakland’s general manager, Billy Beane, used some often-neglected statistics to assemble a group of lesser-known players either “past their prime” or seen by other teams as not skilled enough. That ragtag team ran off a 20-game winning streak on the way to winning their division and 103 games.
This reminds me a little of the way Jesus put together His “team” of disciples. He included rough Galilean fishermen, a zealot, and even a despised tax collector named Levi (Matthew). This reminds me that “God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27). God used those dedicated men (minus Judas) to ignite a movement that affected the world so dramatically it has never been the same.
There’s a lesson here for us. Sometimes we seek out the familiar, the influential, and the rich. And we tend to ignore people with less status or those with physical limitations.
Jesus put some of society’s less desirable people on His team—treating everyone the same. With the Spirit’s power and guidance, we too can honor all people equally.
In Jesus Christ we all are equal,
For God’s Spirit makes us one;
As we give each other honor,
We give glory to His Son. —Fitzhugh
There are no unimportant people in the body of Christ.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Re-post From Julie Ackerman Link of Our Daily Bread

On The Fringe

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
When butterflies hatch at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they do so in an indoor tropical paradise perfectly suited to meet their every need. The temperature is perfect. The humidity is perfect. The food is a perfect balance of calories and nutrition to keep them healthy. No need to go elsewhere. Yet some butterflies see the bright blue sky outside the conservatory and spend their days fluttering near the glass ceiling far away from the plentiful food supply.
I want to say to those butterflies, “Don’t you know everything you need is inside? The outside is cold and harsh, and you will die within minutes if you get what you are longing to have.”
I wonder if that is the message God has for me. So I ask myself, Do I look longingly at things that would harm me? Do I use my energy to gain what I don’t need and shouldn’t have? Do I ignore God’s plentiful provision because I imagine that something just beyond my reach is better? Do I spend my time on the fringes of faith?
God supplies all our needs from His riches (Phil. 4:19). So instead of striving for what we don’t have, may we open our hearts to gratefully receive everything we’ve already been given by Him.
All that I want is in Jesus;
He satisfies, joy He supplies;
Life would be worthless without Him,
All things in Jesus I find. —Loes
Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Re-post From Joe Stowell of Our Daily Bread

Bumper Cars

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Life is a lot like “bumper cars” at an amusement park. You get in your car, knowing that you will get hit . . . you just don’t know how hard. And when you get hit, you step on the gas pedal, chase the one who has hit you, and hope to bump that person harder than they have bumped you.
That may be a fun strategy for bumper cars, but it’s a terrible strategy for life. When you get bumped in life, bumping back only escalates matters and in the end everyone suffers damage.
Jesus had a better strategy: Forgive those who have “bumped” us. Like Peter, we may wonder how many times we have to forgive. When Peter asked Jesus, “Up to seven times?” Jesus answered “Up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). In other words, there are no limits to grace. We should always extend a spirit of forgiveness. Why? In the story of the forgiving master, Jesus explained that we forgive not because our offenders deserve it but because we’ve been forgiven. He says, “I forgave you . . . because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (vv.32-33).
Since we are among those who’ve been forgiven much, let’s stop the damage and share that blessing with others.
Lord, remind us of how deeply we have offended You
and how often You have extended the grace of
forgiveness to us. Teach us to forgive others and to trust
You to deal with those who sin against us.
Forgiveness is God’s grace in action through us.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Re-post From David C. McCasland of Our Daily Bread

Forced Leisure

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Just before Christmas one year, a friend was diagnosed with leukemia and was told she must begin chemotherapy immediately. Just a few weeks earlier, Kim had told friends how blessed and content she felt with a loving family, a comfortable home, and a new grandson. As she entered the hospital, Kim asked Jesus to make His presence known to her and to stay close.
The next 7 months of treatments followed by recovery in partial isolation became a season she calls “forced leisure.” She says she learned how to slow down, reflect quietly, and rest in God’s goodness, love, and perfect plan—regardless of whether or not she would be healed.
One of God’s promises to His people Israel became personal to Kim: “The Lord your God . . . will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).
Kim is in remission after a journey she says changed her life for the better. Now back in her busy routine, she often pauses to recapture the lessons of “forced leisure.”
How important that we—in good times or times of challenge—draw near to God’s loving heart to hear His voice and place our lives in His hands.
A troubled heart, a wearied mind
Are burdens hard to bear;
A lack of peace, a heavy load
Are lifted by God’s care. —Fitzhugh
People are at the heart of God’s heart.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Re-post From Dave Branon of Our Daily Bread

They’re Watching

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
It’s been several decades since a high school event devastated me. Playing sports was hugely important to me. I zeroed in on basketball and spent hundreds of hours practicing my game. So when I didn’t make the varsity team in my last year after being on the team since junior high, I was crushed.
Disappointed and confused, I carried on. I became a stats guy for the team, going to games and keeping track of my friends’ rebounds and shots as they got within one game of the state championship without me. To be honest, I never thought of how they were viewing my response. I just muddled through. That’s why I was surprised recently to hear that several of my classmates told my brother that they saw in my response a lesson in Christianity—a picture of Christ. My point is not to tell you to do as I did, because I’m not sure what I did. My point is this: Whether we know it or not, people are watching us.
In Titus 3:1-8, Paul explains the life God enables us to live—a life of respect, obedience, and kindness that results from being reborn through Jesus and renewed by the Holy Spirit who has been poured out on us.
As we live a Spirit-guided life, God will show the reality of His presence to others through us.
Dear Father, You know how inadequate I am.
Please equip me through the Spirit to show love
and respect in my life so that others will see
through me and see You.
A Christian is a living sermon whether or not he preaches a word.

Our Guardian Angel Ministers To Our Needs

God's Divine Providence