Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Re-post From Bill Crowder of Our Daily Bread

Disposable Culture

More than ever, we live in a disposable culture. Think for a minute about some of the things that are made to be thrown away—razors, water bottles, lighters, paper plates, plastic eating utensils. Products are used, tossed, and then replaced.
This disposable culture is also reflected in more significant ways. Many times true commitment in relationships is seen as optional. Marriages struggle to survive. Long-term employees are discharged just before retirement for cheaper options. A highly revered athlete leaves to join another team. It seems as if nothing lasts.
Our unchanging God, however, has promised that His loving mercy endures forever. In Psalm 136, the singer celebrates this wonderful promise by making statements about God’s wonder, work, and character. He then punctuates each statement about God with the phrase, “For His mercy endures forever.” Whether it is the wonder of His creation (vv.4-9), the rescue of His people (vv.10-22), or His tender care for His own (vv.23-26), we can trust Him because His mercy will never fail. In a temporary world, the permanence of God’s mercy gives us hope. We can sing with the psalmist, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (v.1).
I sing of mercies that endure,
Forever builded firm and sure,
Of faithfulness that never dies,
Established changeless in the skies. —Psalter
God’s grace is immeasurable; His mercy inexhaustible; His peace inexpressible.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote of Psalm 136, “We know not by whom this Psalm was written, but we do know that it was sung in Solomon’s temple
(2 Chron. 7:3,6), and by the armies of Jehoshaphat when they sang themselves into victory in the wilderness of Tekoa. From the striking form of it we should infer that it was a popular hymn among the Lord’s ancient people. Most hymns with a solid, simple chorus become favourites with congregations, and this is sure to have been one of the best beloved.” (Treasury of David)

Friday, October 3, 2014

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

Filtered Light

The painting A Trail of Light by Colorado Springs artist Bob Simpich shows a grove of aspen trees with golden leaves lit by the autumn sun. The topmost leaves are brilliantly illuminated while the ground beneath the trees is a mixture of sunlight and shadows. The painter said of this contrast, “I can’t resist the light filtered through to the forest floor. It weaves a special magic.”
The apostle Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Corinth, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Paul goes on to describe the reality of life in which “we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; . . . perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (vv.8-9).
There are times when it seems that the light of God’s face is dimmed because of our difficulty, sorrow, or loss. Yet, even in these dark shadows, we can see evidence of His presence with us.
If we walk in filtered light today, may we discover anew that God’s light—Jesus—is always shining in our hearts.
Lord, shine the light of Your face on us that we may
find our way to Your salvation. Shine Your light into
the darkness that envelops our world that we may
see who You are and show others the way to You.
In dark circumstances, God’s light is still shining in our hearts.


Despite the high price Paul paid to remain faithful to God (2 Cor. 11:23-28), he remained resilient and did not lose heart (4:1,14). He had been sustained by God’s sovereign power and sufficient grace (vv.7-9) and Christ’s resurrected life (vv.10-12).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Re-post From Poh Fang Chia of Our Daily Bread

In The Storm

A storm was brewing—not just on the horizon but also in a friend’s home. “When I was in Hong Kong,” she shared, “the local meteorological service announced that there was a superstorm approaching. But more than the storm that was looming outside my window, there was a storm brewing at home. While my dad was in the hospital, family members were trying to balance their home and work responsibilities while also traveling to and from the hospital. They were so tired that patience was wearing thin, and the situation at home was tense.”
Life can feel like a storm—tossing us around with winds of misfortune, grief, or stress. Where can we turn? When Jesus’ disciples were caught in a great windstorm and wondered if He cared, they still knew where to turn. He demonstrated His power by calming the howling storm (Mark 4:38-39).
But often He does not calm the storm immediately. And, like the disciples, we may feel that He doesn’t care. To calm our fears, we can cling to faith in who God is and what He can do. We can take shelter in Him (Ps. 91:1). We can find His help to relate to others with grace. We can rest in an all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving God. He is with us in the storm and cradles us through the storm.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of the ocean, and earth, and skies. —Baker
One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think. —Brother Lawrence


Today’s passage from Mark recounts an incredible display of Jesus’ power. As the Lord of creation (Col. 1:15-17), Christ had the right and the authority to instruct the wind and the waves and have them obey Him. Yet this miracle caused the disciples to fear greatly, which prompted Jesus’ statement in verse 40. The disciples feared the storm more than they trusted the one who was with them in the boat. Jesus tells them (and us) to trust what we have seen in Him to get us through both the literal and metaphorical storms of life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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

The Power Of Ritual

When I was growing up, one of the rules in our house was that we weren’t allowed to go to bed angry (Eph. 4:26). All our fights and disagreements had to be resolved. The companion to that rule was this bedtime ritual: Mom and Dad would say to my brother and me, “Good night. I love you.” And we would respond, “Good night. I love you too.”
The value of this family ritual has recently been impressed on me. As my mother lay in a hospice bed dying of lung cancer, she became less and less responsive. But each night when I left her bedside I would say, “I love you, Mom.” And though she could say little else, she would respond, “I love you too.” Growing up I had no idea what a gift this ritual would be to me so many years later.
Time and repetition can rob our rituals of meaning. But some are important reminders of vital spiritual truths. First-century believers misused the practice of the Lord’s Supper, but the apostle Paul didn’t tell them to stop celebrating it. Instead he told them, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).
Rather than give up the ritual, perhaps we need to restore the meaning.
Lord, when we observe the Lord’s Supper, help
us avoid the trap of letting our observance
grow routine. May we always be moved with
gratitude for the wonderful gift of ritual.
Any ritual can lose meaning, but that does not make the ritual meaningless.


On the evening Jesus celebrated His last Passover with His disciples, He also established His own memorial supper. The unleavened Passover bread symbolized the exodus from Egypt, and the cup echoed the Old Testament promise, “I will redeem you.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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

A Fresh Start

In many countries, health laws prohibit reselling or reusing old mattresses. Only landfills will take them. Tim Keenan tackled the problem and today his business employs a dozen people to extract the individual components of metal, fabric, and foam in old mattresses for recycling. But that’s only part of the story. Journalist Bill Vogrin wrote, “Of all the items Keenan recycles . . . it’s the people that may be his biggest success” (The Gazette, Colorado Springs). Keenan hires men from halfway houses and homeless shelters, giving them a job and a second chance. He says, “We take guys nobody else wants.”
Luke 5:17-26 tells how Jesus healed the body and the soul of a paralyzed man. Following that miraculous event, Levi answered Jesus’ call to follow Him and then invited his fellow tax collectors and friends to a banquet in honor of the Lord (vv.27-29). When some people accused Jesus of associating with undesirables (v.30), He reminded them that healthy people don’t need a doctor—adding, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (v.32).
To everyone who feels like a “throwaway” headed for the landfill of life, Jesus opens His arms of love and offers a fresh beginning. That’s why He came!
The power of God can turn a heart
From evil and the power of sin;
The love of God can change a life
And make it new and cleansed within. —Fasick
Salvation is receiving a new life.


The religious leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming divine attributes for Himself (Luke 5:21). Blasphemy is showing contempt or a lack of reverence for God or something sacred (v.20). A violation of the third commandment, it was punishable by death (Lev. 24:15-16).

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Re-post From Philip Yancey of Our Daily Bread

Amazing Grace

Pressed into service in the Royal Navy, John Newton was dismissed for insubordination and turned to a career trafficking in slaves. Notorious for cursing and blasphemy, Newton served on a slave ship during the cruelest days of trans-Atlantic slavery, finally working his way up to captain.
A dramatic conversion on the high seas set him on the path to grace. He always felt a sense of undeservedness for his new life. He became a rousing evangelical preacher and eventually a leader in the abolitionist movement. Newton appeared before Parliament, giving irrefutable eyewitness testimony to the horror and immorality of the slave trade. We also know him as the author of the lyrics of perhaps the best-loved hymn of all time, “Amazing Grace.”
Newton described any good in himself as an outworking of God’s grace. In doing so, he stands with these great heroes—a murderer and adulterer (King David), a coward (the apostle Peter), and a persecutor of Christians (the apostle Paul).
This same grace is available to all who call upon God, for “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see. —Newton
Lives rooted in God’s unchanging grace can never be uprooted.


Here in Ephesians 2, Paul contrasts a person’s life before being saved by the grace of God to life after salvation by grace through faith. The first contrast is in verse 1: We were once “dead in trespasses” but have been made alive. Another contrast is in our behavior. We once “walked according to the course of this world” (v.2). Now, as believers, we walk according to good works prepared by God (v.10).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

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

Every Hardship

Like many towns, Enterprise, Alabama, has a prominent monument. But the monument in Enterprise is unlike any other. The statue doesn’t recognize a leading citizen; it celebrates the work of a beetle. In the early 1900s, this boll weevil made its way from Mexico to the southern US. Within a few years it had destroyed entire crops of cotton, the primary source of revenue. In desperation, farmers started growing another crop—peanuts. Realizing they had been dependent on one crop for too long, they credited the beetle with forcing them to diversify, which led to increased prosperity.
The boll weevil is like things that come into our lives and destroy what we have worked hard to accomplish. Devastation results—sometimes financial, emotional, or physical—and it is frightening. We witness the end of life as we know it. But as the people of Enterprise learned, the loss of what is old is an opportunity to discover something new. God may use hardship to get us to give up a bad habit or learn a new virtue. He used a thorn in Paul’s flesh to teach him about grace (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
Instead of striving to preserve old habits that are no longer effective, we can view every hardship as an opportunity for God to cultivate a new virtue in us.
O much-tried saint, with fainting heart,
The thorn with its abiding pain,
With all its wearing, ceaseless ache,
Can be the means of priceless gain. —Anon.
God often uses bitter experiences to make us better.


In Paul’s letter of 2 Corinthians, he repeatedly bares his soul. In the early portions of the letter, he is forced to defend his role as an apostle, while later he shares the heartaches of all he suffered for Christ. Paul concludes by describing how a painful condition (an undefined “thorn”) is being used as God’s instrument to teach him lessons about grace (12:7-10). This is indeed a very transparent and pain-filled epistle.

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