Monday, December 26, 2011

Wrong Worship

By Dave Branon

Read: Acts 19:23-41
This trade of ours [is] in danger of falling into disrepute. —Acts 19:27
Bible in a year:
Haggai 1-2; Revelation 17

If you really want to get folks upset, threaten their economy.

A bad economic picture gets politicians voted out of office, and the threat of a downturn nearly got the apostle Paul kicked out of Ephesus.

Here’s what happened. Paul came to town and started “reasoning and persuading concerning . . . the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). For more than 2 years he shared the gospel, and many began following Jesus.

Because Paul was so successful in getting people to see that there is only one true God, many Ephesians stopped worshiping the goddess Diana. This was bad news for the local silversmiths, who made their living creating and selling Diana statuettes. If enough people stopped believing in her, business would dry up. A commotion and an uproar broke out when the craftsmen figured this out.

This Ephesus incident can remind us to evaluate our reasons for worshiping God. The silversmiths wanted to protect their worship as a way of protecting their prosperity, but may that never be said of us. Don’t ever let your worship of God become an avenue to good fortune.

We worship God because of His love for us and because of who He is, not because loving Him can help our bottom line. Let’s worship God the right way.

We worship God for who He is,
And not because of what we’ll get;
When we acknowledge what we owe,
We’ll thank Him that He paid our debt. —Sper

Don’t worship God to gain His benefits— you already have them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rejected Light

By David C. McCasland

Read: John 12:35-46
I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. —John 12:46
Bible in a year:
Micah 4-5; Revelation 12

In the early hours of December 21, 2010, I witnessed an event that last occurred in 1638—a total lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. Slowly the shadow of the earth slipped across the bright full moon and made it appear a dark red. It was a remarkable and beautiful event. Yet it reminded me that while physical darkness is part of God’s created design, spiritual darkness is not.

Scottish pastor Alexander MacLaren said: “Rejected light is the parent of the densest darkness, and the man who, having the light, does not trust it, piles around himself thick clouds of obscurity and gloom.” Jesus described this self-imposed spiritual eclipse of heart and mind when He said, “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23).

The great invitation of Christmas is to open our hearts to the Savior who came to end our darkness. Jesus said, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. . . . I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:36,46).

The way out of our spiritual night is to walk in the light with Him.

Come to the Light, ’tis shining for thee,
Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me;
Once I was blind, but now I can see—
The Light of the world is Jesus. —Bliss

When we walk in the Light, we won’t stumble in the darkness.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Feeling Poor?

By Dave Branon

Read: Psalm 86
I am poor and needy. —Psalm 86:1
Bible in a year:
Ezekiel 30-32; 1 Peter 4

In one way or another, we can all relate to Psalm 86:1 where David says, “I am poor and needy.” Even the richest among us should understand that poverty and need relate more to the spirit than to the wallet. When billionaire Rich DeVos speaks to groups he often says, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”

Psalm 86 tells us that the help God provides is not measured by a monetary ledger sheet. When we acknowledge that we are poor and needy, it’s not so God will lavish material riches on us. No, we do so to open the door to other, more valuable treasures.

Here’s what God does for the poor and needy. He will “preserve” our lives and “save” all those who trust in Him (v.2). He will be “merciful” and “ready to forgive” (vv.3,5). He will listen to and answer prayer (vv.6-7).

But we’re not to take God’s blessings without giving back. We have a responsibility to learn God’s ways, walk in His truth, “fear [God’s] name,” praise the Lord, and “glorify [His] name” (vv.11-12).

Do you consider yourself among the “poor and needy”? If so, welcome to the club. Let’s not forget all the spiritual blessings God has for us and the godly response we should have toward His generosity.

We’re thankful for the blessings, Lord,
You give us day by day;
Now help us show our gratitude
By walking in Your way. —Sper

The poorest man is he whose only wealth is money.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Singing Bowl

By Julie Ackerman Link

Read: Deuteronomy 4:32-40
We therefore ought to . . . become fellow workers for the truth. —3 John 1:8
Bible in a year:
Ezekiel 27-29; 1 Peter 3

Artist and scientist Michael Flynn designed a singing bowl for display in ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The bowl requires no electricity but it does require something that is in short supply: cooperation.

As I observed people trying to make the bowl sing, I was surprised that none of them bothered to read the directions about rocking it gently. Instead, impatient to make music, they kept trying their own ideas. After a few minutes they walked away frustrated and disappointed, as if the bowl was defective.

How many times, I wonder, do we become frustrated that life isn’t working the way we think it should? We keep trying ways that seem right, but things keep turning out wrong. Instead of following God’s Word, we continue trying to find our own way.

The singing bowl reminds us that we can’t expect life to go well if we ignore the instructions of the Designer (Deut. 4:40). Failing to obey divides us from one another and separates us from God. To fulfill His plan for the world and make the way of salvation known (Ps. 67:2), we need to follow His instructions about living and working peacefully together. When life doesn’t go well, it may be that we’ve stopped following God’s plan.

Sure it takes a lot of courage to put things in God’s hands,
To give ourselves completely, our lives, our hopes, our plans;
To follow where He leads us and make His will our own;
But all it takes is foolishness to go the way alone! —Kline

Life is a beautiful song that God is teaching us to play.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Finding Hope

By David C. McCasland

Read: Psalm 42:1-11
Why are you cast down, O my soul? . . . Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him. —Psalm 42:5
Bible in a year:
Ezekiel 24-26; 1 Peter 2

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that almost 15 percent of American teenagers felt it was “highly likely” that they would die before their 35th birthday. Those with this pessimistic outlook were more likely to engage in reckless behavior. Dr. Iris Borowsky, author of the study published in Pediatrics magazine, said: “These youth may take risks because they feel hopeless and figure that not much is at stake.”

No one is immune to feelings of despair. The Psalms express repeated pleas for help when life seems dark. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Ps. 42:5 NASB). In a defiant step of faith, the psalmist tells himself not to forget about God, who will never forsake him.

Curtis Almquist has written: “Hope is fueled by the presence of God. . . . [It] is also fueled by the future of God in our lives.” We can say with the psalmist, “I shall yet praise Him” (v.5).

No follower of Christ should feel reluctant to seek counsel for depression. Nor should we feel that faith and prayer are too simplistic to help. There is always hope in God!

My sheep I know, they are My own,
I leave them not in trials alone;
I will be with them to the end,
Their Hope, their Joy, their dearest Friend. —Anon.

Hope for the Christian is a certainty— because its basis is Christ.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unexpressed Gratitude

By Cindy Hess Kasper

Read: Psalm 107:31-43
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! . . . Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. —Psalm 107:1-2
Bible in a year:
Ezekiel 18-19; James 4

The whole reason for saying thanks is to let the giver of a gift know how much you appreciate something. Author G. B. Stern once said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”

When our son was young, he sometimes needed to be reminded that avoiding eye contact, looking down at his feet, and mumbling some unintelligible words was not an acceptable “thank you.” And after many years of marriage, my husband and I are still learning that it’s important for us to continually express our gratitude to each other. When one of us feels appreciative, we try to verbalize it—even if we’ve said it many times before about the same thing. William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Showing our gratitude is obviously important in human relationships, but it’s even more essential in our relationship with God. As we think about the many blessings we have received, do we express our thanks to Him throughout the day? And when we think of the amazing gift of His death and resurrection for forgiveness of our sins, do our hearts bubble over with awe and thanksgiving? (Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 9:15).

Take the reminder in Psalm 107:1 to heart each day: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

How great should be our gratitude
To God our unseen Friend!
The volume of His gifts to us
We cannot comprehend. —Hess

God’s highest Gift should awaken our deepest gratitude.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Companion On The Road

By David H. Roper

Read: Matthew 4:18-22
Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers . . . . Then He said to them, “Follow Me.” —Matthew 4:18-19
Bible in a year:
Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12

I love to walk Idaho’s paths and trails and enjoy its grandeur and picturesque beauty. I’m often reminded that these treks are symbolic of our spiritual journey, for the Christian life is simply walking—with Jesus alongside as our companion and guide. He walked through the land of Israel from one end to the other, gathering disciples, saying to them, “Follow Me” (Matt. 4:19).

The journey is not always easy. Sometimes giving up seems easier than going on, but when things get difficult, we can rest a while and renew our strength. In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes the arbor on Hill Difficulty where Christian caught his breath before continuing the climb. His scroll provided comfort, reminding him of the Lord’s continual presence and sustaining power. He got a second wind so he could walk a few more miles.

Only God knows where the path will take us, but we have our Lord’s assurance, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). This is not a metaphor or other figure of speech. He is real company. There is not one hour without His presence, not one mile without His companionship. Knowing He’s with us makes the journey lighter.

When life becomes a heavy load
An upward climb, a winding road,
In daily tasks, Lord, let me see
That with me You will always be. —D. De Haan

As you travel life’s weary road, let Jesus lift your heavy load.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It’s All About Him

By Anne Cetas

Read: John 3:22-36
He must increase, but I must decrease. —John 3:30
Bible in a year:
Jeremiah 48-49; Hebrews 7

When Sheri got engaged, her single friend Amy celebrated with her. She planned a bridal shower, helped pick out her wedding dress, walked down the aisle just before her, and stood by her side during the ceremony. When Sheri and her husband had children, Amy gave baby showers and rejoiced in her friend’s blessings.

Sheri told Amy later, “You’ve comforted me during hard times, but the way I especially know you love me is that you rejoice with me in my good times. You haven’t let any jealousy hold you back from celebrating with me.”

When John’s disciples heard that a new rabbi named Jesus was gaining followers, they thought John might be jealous (John 3:26). They came to him and said, “He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” But John celebrated Jesus’ ministry. He said, “I have been sent before Him. . . . The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled” (vv.28-29).

An attitude of humility should also characterize us. Rather than desiring attention for ourselves, everything we do should bring glory to our Savior. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (v.30).

Not I but Christ be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I but Christ be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I but Christ in every look and action;
Not I but Christ in every thought and word. —Whiddington

If we want an increase of Christ, there must be a decrease of self.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

So Long

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
[Do not] sorrow as others who have no hope. —1 Thessalonians 4:13
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 65-66; 1 Timothy 2

My grandfather refused to say “goodbye”; he felt the word was too final. So, when we would drive away after family visits, his farewell ritual was always the same. Standing in front of the green ferns that lined his house, he would wave and call out, “So long”!

As believers, we never have to say “goodbye” to the ones we love, as long as they have placed their trust in Jesus as Savior. The Bible promises that we will see them again.

The apostle Paul said that we should not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13), because when Jesus returns, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves and—together with the believers who are still alive—will meet the Lord in the air (vv.15-17). We have confidence that one day in heaven there will be “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Rev. 21:4). It’s in that wonderful place that “we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).

Christians have the hope of an eternal reunion with Christ and with believing loved ones who have passed away. That’s why Paul exhorted us to “comfort one another with these words” (v.18). Today, encourage someone with the hope that allows us to say “so long,” instead of “goodbye.”

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion
With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before;
In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting—
Beyond the sunset forevermore. —Brock

At death, God’s people don’t say “Goodbye,”
but “We’ll see you later.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Investing In The Future

By Bill Crowder

Read: Matthew 6:19-24
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. —Matthew 6:20
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 56-58; 2 Thessalonians 2

Jason Bohn was a college student when he made a hole-in-one golf shot that won him a million dollars. While others may have squandered that money, Bohn had a plan. Wanting to be a pro golfer, he used the money as a living-and-training fund to improve his golf skills. The cash became an investment in his future—an investment that paid off when Bohn won the PGA Tour’s 2005 B.C. Open. Bohn’s decision to invest in the future instead of living for the moment was a wise one indeed.

In a sense, that is what Jesus calls us to do. We have been entrusted with resources—time, ability, opportunity— and we decide how to use them. Our challenge is to see those resources as an opportunity to invest long-term. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” is how Jesus put it in Matthew 6:20. Those protected treasures cannot be destroyed nor taken away, Jesus assures us.

Think of your resources: talent, time, knowledge. These are temporal and limited. But if you invest them with an eye toward eternity, these temporary things can have enduring impact. What is your focus? Now or forever? Invest in the future. It will not only have an eternal impact, but it will also change the way you view life each day.

Whatever is done in love for Christ
Will one day have heaven’s reward;
Today let’s do what we can for Him,
Our loving Savior and Lord. —Hess

The richest people on earth
are those who invest their lives in heaven.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Too Busy To Know God?

By Randy Kilgore

Read: Luke 10:38-42
She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. —Luke 10:39
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 41-42; 1 Thessalonians 1

One day when I was waiting to board a plane, a stranger who had overheard me mention that I was a chaplain began to describe to me his life before he met Christ. He said it was marked by “sin and self-absorption. Then I met Jesus.”

I listened with interest to a list of changes he had made to his life and good deeds he had done. But because everything he told me was about his busyness for God and not his fellowship with God, I wasn’t surprised when he added, “Frankly, chaplain, I thought I’d feel better about myself by now.”

I think the New Testament character Martha would have understood that stranger’s observation. Having invited Jesus to be a guest at her home, she set about doing what she thought were the important things. But this meant she couldn’t focus on Jesus. Because Mary wasn’t helping, Martha felt justified asking Jesus to chide her. It’s a mistake many of us make: We’re so busy doing good that we don’t spend time getting to know God better.

My advice to my new airplane friend came from the core of Jesus’ words to Martha in Luke 10:41-42. I said to him: “Slow down and invest yourself in knowing God; let His Word reveal Himself to you.” If we’re too busy to spend time with God, we’re simply too busy.

Savior, let me walk beside Thee,
Let me feel my hand in Thine;
Let me know the joy of walking
In Thy strength and not in mine. —Sidebotham

Our heavenly Father longs to spend time with His children.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Free To Choose

By David C. McCasland

Read: Daniel 6:1-10
He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. —Daniel 6:10
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 30-31; Philippians 4

When it was learned that the biggest football game of the 2011 season was scheduled to be played on Yom Kippur, the student government at the University of Texas petitioned school officials to change the date. They said it was unfair to make Jewish students choose between the classic football rivalry with Oklahoma and observing their most important and sacred holy day of the year. But the date was not changed. Even in societies where people have religious freedom, difficult choices are still required of every person of faith.

Daniel demonstrated the courage to obey God no matter what the consequences. When his political rivals set a trap to eliminate him from their path to power (Dan. 6:1-9), he didn’t challenge the law or complain that he had been wronged. “When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (v.10).

Daniel didn’t know if God would save him from the lions’ den, but it didn’t matter. He chose to honor God in his life whatever the outcome. Like Daniel, we are free to choose to follow the Lord.

What freedom lies with all who choose
To live for God each day!
But chains of bondage shackle those
Who choose some other way. —D. De Haan

You can never go wrong when you choose to follow Christ.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

No Authority?

By Dave Branon

Read: Proverbs 6:6-11
Consider [the ant’s] ways and be wise, which, having no . . . ruler, provides her supplies . . . and gathers her food. —Proverbs 6:6-8
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 20-22; Ephesians 6

When the deck behind our house began caving in, I knew its repair would exceed my abilities. So I made some calls, got some bids, and picked a builder to construct a new deck.

Once the contractor was done, I took a close look at his work and noticed some problems. Seeking a second opinion, I called the local building inspector and got a surprise. The deck guy had not obtained a building permit. Working without official oversight, he had violated many points of the building code.

This incident reminded me of an important truth (other than asking to see the building permit): We often do less than our best if we don’t have any accountability to the authority over us.

In Scripture, we see this principle explained in two of Jesus’ parables (Matt. 24:45-51; 25:14-30). In both cases, at least one unsupervised worker failed when the master was gone. But then we see a different approach in Proverbs 6. We see the example of the ant, which does good work without a visible supervisor. It intrinsically does its work without being monitored.

What about us? Do we do good work only when someone is watching? Or do we recognize that all our service is for God, and so do our best at all times—even when no human authority is watching?

God sees and knows the work we do:
Our faithfulness He will reward;
With His authority in view,
Let’s do our best for Christ the Lord. —Hess

No matter who your boss is, you are really working for God.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In Search Of Silence

By Julie Ackerman Link

Read: Mark 1:35-45
I have calmed and quieted my soul. —Psalm 131:2
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 14-16; Ephesians 5:1-16

My next record should be 45 minutes of silence,” said singer Meg Hutchinson, “because that’s what we’re missing most in society.”

Silence is indeed hard to find. Cities are notoriously noisy due to the high concentration of traffic and people. There seems to be no escape from loud music, loud machines, and loud voices. But the kind of noise that endangers our spiritual well-being is not the noise we can’t escape but the noise we invite into our lives. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out loneliness: voices of TV and radio personalities give us the illusion of companionship. Some of us use it as a way of shutting out our own thoughts: other voices and opinions keep us from having to think for ourselves. Some of us use noise as a way of shutting out the voice of God: constant chatter, even when we’re talking about God, keeps us from hearing what God has to say.

But Jesus, even during His busiest times, made a point of seeking out places of solitude where He could carry on a conversation with God (Mark 1:35). Even if we can’t find a place that is perfectly quiet, we need to find a place to quiet our souls (Ps. 131:2), a place where God has our full attention.

For Further Study
For more on this topic, read the online booklet
Mary & Martha: Balancing Life’s Priorities

Don’t let the noise of the world
keep you from hearing the voice of the Lord.

Friday, September 30, 2011

1,000th Birthday

By Dennis Fisher

Read: Amos 4:7-13
Prepare to meet your God! —Amos 4:12
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 9-10; Ephesians 3

In his book Long for This World, Jonathan Weiner writes about science’s promise to radically extend how long we live. At the center of the book is English scientist Aubrey de Grey, who predicts that science will one day offer us 1,000-year lifespans. Aubrey claims that molecular biology has finally placed a cure for aging within our reach.

But what difference does it make if, after living 1,000 years, we will eventually die anyway? De Grey’s prediction only postpones facing the ultimate question of what happens when we die. It does not answer it.

The Scriptures tell us that death is not the end of our existence. Instead, we are assured that everyone will stand before Christ—believers for their works and nonbelievers for their rejection of Him (John 5:25-29; Rev. 20:11-15). All of us are sinners and in need of forgiveness. And only Christ’s death on the cross has provided forgiveness for all who believe (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

Our appointed face-to-face encounter with God puts everything in perspective. So whether we live 70 years or 1,000, the issue of eternity is the same: “Prepare to meet your God!” (Amos 4:12).

What matters more than length of life
Is where you’ll spend eternity;
If you have placed your faith in Christ,
Then heaven’s glory you will see. —Sper

Only those who have placed their faith in Christ are prepared to meet their Maker.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not At This Time

By Anne Cetas

Read: Romans 11:33–12:2
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. —Romans 12:2
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 5-6; Ephesians 1

It can be quite discouraging for wanna-be writers to get their work rejected time after time. When they send in a manuscript to a publisher, they’ll often hear back in a letter with these words: “Thank you. But your submission does not meet our needs at this time.” Sometimes this really means “not at this time—or ever.” So they try the next publisher and the next.

I’ve found that the phrase This does not meet our needs at this time—or ever can be a helpful saying in my Christian walk to renew my mind and refocus my thoughts on the Lord.

Here’s what I mean. When starting to worry, we can remind ourselves: “Worry does not meet my needs at this time—or ever. My heart’s need is to trust God. I will ‘be anxious for nothing’ ” (Phil. 4:6).

When we envy what another person has or does, we can reinforce the truth: “Envy does not meet my needs at this time—or ever. My need is to give thanks to God. His Word says, ‘Envy is rottenness to the bones’ (Prov. 14:30), and ‘In everything give thanks’ ” (1 Thess. 5:18).

We can’t renew our minds by ourselves (Rom. 12:2); it’s the transforming work of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Yet speaking the truth in our thoughts can help us to submit to the Spirit’s work within.

For Further Thought
What are some areas you struggle with in your heart?
Ask God to renew your mind that it might think like His.
Then keep reminding yourself of the truth.

The Spirit of God renews our minds
when we review the Word of God.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Tales Of Two Sticks

By Albert Lee

Read: Exodus 4:1-9,17
You shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs. —Exodus 4:17
Bible in a year:
Isaiah 3-4; Galatians 6

Conventional wisdom questions how much can be accomplished with little. We tend to believe that a lot more can be done if we have large financial resources, talented manpower, and innovative ideas. But these things don’t matter to God. Consider just a couple of examples:

In Judges 3:31, a relatively unknown man named Shamgar delivered Israel from the Philistines single-handedly. How? He won a great victory by killing 600 Philistines with nothing more than an oxgoad (a stick sharpened on one end to drive slow-moving animals).

In Exodus, when God asked Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses was afraid the people wouldn’t listen to him or follow him. So God said, “What is that in your hand?” (4:2). Moses replied, “A rod.” God went on to use that rod in Moses’ hand to convince the people to follow him, to turn the Nile River into blood, to bring great plagues on Egypt, to part the Red Sea, and to perform miracles in the wilderness.

Moses’ rod and Shamgar’s oxgoad, when dedicated to God, became mighty tools. This helps us see that God can use what little we have, when surrendered to Him, to do great things. God is not looking for people with great abilities, but for those who are dedicated to following and obeying Him.

If you use what little you may have
To serve the Lord with all your heart
You will find that He can do great things
When you begin to do your part. —Sper

Little is much when God is in it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Serious Business

By Bill Crowder

Read: Psalm 96
The Lord reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously. —Psalm 96:10
Bible in a year:
Song of Solomon 1-3; Galatians 2

Recently I was called for jury duty. It meant extraordinary inconvenience and lots of lost time, but it was also serious business. During the first day’s orientation, the judge lectured us on the responsibility at hand and the important nature of the task. We were going to sit in judgment of people who either had disputes (civil court) or were charged with crimes (criminal court). I felt a great sense of inadequacy for the task at hand. Passing judgment on another person, with serious life consequences riding on the decision, is not a simple thing. Because we’re flawed human beings, we may not always make the right judgments.

While the justice systems of our world might struggle and falter because of the inherent failings of the humans that manage them, we can always trust our God to excel in wisdom and fairness. The psalmist sang, “The Lord reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously” (Ps. 96:10). God judges according to righteousness—defined by His own perfect justice and flawless character.

We can trust God now when life seems unfair, knowing that He will one day make all things right in His final court (2 Cor. 5:10).

The best of judges on this earth
Aren’t always right or fair;
But God, the righteous Judge of all,
Wrongs no one in His care. —Egner

One day God will right every wrong.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Are You Ready?

By C. P. Hia

Read: 2 Peter 3:1-13
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. —2 Peter 3:9
Bible in a year:
Ecclesiastes 4-6; 2 Corinthians 12

Many will remember the fall season of 2008 as the beginning of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. In the months to follow, many lost their jobs, homes, and investments. In a BBC interview a year later, Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, indicated that the average person doesn’t believe it will happen again. He said, “That is the unquenchable capability of human beings when confronted with long periods of prosperity to presume that it will continue.”

Assuming that things will continue as they always have is not just 21st-century-type thinking. In the first century, Peter wrote of people who thought that life would continue as it was and that Jesus would not return. He said, “Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Jesus said He would come back, but the people continued to live in disobedience as though He would never return. But His delay is only because of God’s patience with us, for He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v.9).

Paul tells us that Christians ought to live “soberly, right­eously, and godly” in the light of Christ’s certain return. (Titus 2:12). Are you ready to meet Him?

Faithful and true would He find us here
If He should come today?
Watching in gladness and not in fear,
If He should come today? —Morris

Jesus may come any time, so we should be ready all the time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


By Anne Cetas

Read: 2 Kings 19:10-19
Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see. —2 Kings 19:16
Bible in a year:
Proverbs 30-31; 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Twenty-month-old James was leading his family confidently through the hallways of their large church. His daddy kept an eye on him the whole time as James toddled his way through the crowd of “giants.” Suddenly the little boy panicked because he could not see his dad. He stopped, looked around, and started to cry, “Daddy, Daddy!” His dad quickly caught up with him and little James reached up his hand, which Daddy strongly clasped. Immediately James was at peace.

Second Kings tells the story of King Hezekiah who reached up to God for help (19:15). Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, had made threats against Hezekiah and the people of Judah, saying, “Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you . . . . You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered?” (vv.10-11). King Hezekiah went to the Lord and prayed for deliverance so “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God” (vv.14-19). In answer to his prayer, the angel of the Lord struck down the enemy, and Sennacherib withdrew (vv.20-36).

If you’re in a situation where you need God’s help, reach up your hand to Him in prayer. He has promised His comfort and help (2 Cor. 1:3-4; Heb. 4:16).

When serving the Lord and you lose your way,
Just hold out your hand and let Jesus lead;
He’ll come to your aid, and you’ll hear Him say,
I’ll show you the way and meet every need. —Hess

God’s dawn of deliverance often comes
when the hour of trial is darkest.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rising To The Top

By Julie Ackerman Link

Read: 1 Samuel 15:17-30
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit. —Philippians 2:3
Bible in a year:
Proverbs 19-21; 2 Corinthians 7

“Lacks ambition.” That is not a phrase you want to see on your performance review. When it comes to work, employees who lack ambition seldom rise to the top of an organization. Without a strong desire to achieve something, nothing is accomplished. Ambition, however, has a dark side. It often has more to do with elevating self than with accomplishing something noble for others.

This was the case with many of the kings of Israel, including the first one. Saul started out with humility, but he gradually came to consider his position as something that belonged to him. He forgot that he had a special assignment from God to lead His chosen people in a way that would show other nations the way to God. When God relieved him of duty, Saul’s only concern was for himself (1 Sam. 15:30).

In a world where ambition often compels people to do whatever it takes to rise to positions of power over others, God calls His people to a new way of living. We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3) and to lay aside the weight of sin that ensnares us (Heb. 12:1).

If you want to be someone who truly “rises up,” make it your ambition to humbly love and serve God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things:
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings. —Merrill

Ambition is short-sighted if our focus is not on God.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rising To The Top

By Julie Ackerman Link
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Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Read: 1 Samuel 15:17-30
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit. —Philippians 2:3
Bible in a year:
Proverbs 19-21; 2 Corinthians 7

“Lacks ambition.” That is not a phrase you want to see on your performance review. When it comes to work, employees who lack ambition seldom rise to the top of an organization. Without a strong desire to achieve something, nothing is accomplished. Ambition, however, has a dark side. It often has more to do with elevating self than with accomplishing something noble for others.

This was the case with many of the kings of Israel, including the first one. Saul started out with humility, but he gradually came to consider his position as something that belonged to him. He forgot that he had a special assignment from God to lead His chosen people in a way that would show other nations the way to God. When God relieved him of duty, Saul’s only concern was for himself (1 Sam. 15:30).

In a world where ambition often compels people to do whatever it takes to rise to positions of power over others, God calls His people to a new way of living. We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3) and to lay aside the weight of sin that ensnares us (Heb. 12:1).

If you want to be someone who truly “rises up,” make it your ambition to humbly love and serve God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things:
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings. —Merril

Ambition is short-sighted if our focus is not on God.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Mercy Of God

By Bill Crowder

Read: Psalm 31:9-15
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief, yes, my soul and my body! —Psalm 31:9
Bible in a year:
Proverbs 10-12; 2 Corinthians 4

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. It’s hard to think about that date without mental images of the destruction, grief, and loss that swept over America and the world following those tragic events. The loss of thousands of lives was compounded by the depth of loss felt corporately—a lost sense of security as a country. The sorrow of loss, personal and corporate, will always accompany the memory of the events of that day.

Those horrific events are not the only painful memories of September 11. It also marks the anniversary of my father-in-law’s death. Jim’s loss is felt deeply within our family and his circle of friends.

No matter what kind of sorrow we experience, there is only one real comfort—the mercy of God. David, in his own heartache, cried to his heavenly Father, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief, yes, my soul and my body!” (Ps. 31:9). Only in the mercy of God can we find comfort for our pain and peace for our troubled hearts.

In all losses, we can turn to the true Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who alone can heal our brokenness and grief.

We have a Friend who’ll never leave,
Who’s closer than a brother;
He’s there to meet our deepest needs,
To comfort like no other. —Sper

When God permits suffering, He also provides comfort.

Friday, September 9, 2011

You Never Know

By David H. Roper

Read: Mark 4:26-32
For the earth yields crops by itself. —Mark 4:28
Bible in a year:
Proverbs 6-7; 2 Corinthians 2

During my seminary years, I directed a summer day camp for boys and girls at the YMCA. Each morning, I began the day with a brief story in which I tried to incorporate an element of the gospel.

To help illustrate that becoming a Christian means to become a new creation in Christ, I told a story about a moose that wanted to be a horse. The moose had seen a herd of wild horses, thought them elegant creatures, and wanted to be like them. So he taught himself to act like a horse. However, he was never accepted as a horse because he was . . . well, a moose. How can a moose become a horse? Only by being born a horse, of course. And then I would explain how we can all be born again by believing in Jesus.

One summer I had a staff counselor named Henry who was very hostile to the faith. I could do nothing but love him and pray for him, but he left at the end of the summer hardened in unbelief. That was more than 50 years ago. A few years ago I received a letter from Henry. The first sentence said: “I write to tell that I have been born again and now, at last, I am a ‘horse.’ ” This confirmed to me that we need to keep praying and planting the seed of the Word (Mark 4:26) so that it may bear fruit one day.

You think your word or deed is very small,
That what you say will hardly count at all;
But God can take the seed that you have sown
And nourish it until it’s fully grown. —Hess

We sow the seed—God produces the harvest.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grandfather’s Clock

By Dennis Fisher

Read: Psalm 90:1-12
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. —Psalm 90:12
Bible in a year:
Proverbs 3-5; 2 Corinthians 1

In 1876, Henry Clay Work wrote the song “My Grandfather’s Clock.” The song describes a grandfather’s clock that faithfully ticks its way through its owner’s life. Childhood, adulthood, and old age are all viewed in relationship to his beloved timepiece. The refrain says:

Ninety years without slumbering,

Tick, tock, tick, tock,

His life’s seconds numbering,

Tick, tock, tick, tock,

But it stopped, short,

Never to go again,

When the old man died.

The relentless ticking of the clock reminds us that our time on earth is limited. Despite the joys and pains of life, time always marches on. For the believer, our time on earth is an opportunity for gaining wisdom. The psalmist writes, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

One way of numbering our days is to ask ourselves these kinds of questions: How can I become more like Christ? Am I reading the Word regularly? Am I devoting time to prayer? Am I meeting together with other believers? The way we answer these questions is an indicator of the progress we’re making in gaining wisdom and becoming more like Christ.

No matter the phase of life—childhood, youth, middle age, or our senior years—life always affords us opportunities to grow in faith and wisdom. Numbering our days is the wise response to life’s inevitable progress.

How are you progressing on your journey?

Don’t spend your time—invest it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Measuring Growth

By Julie Ackerman Link

Read: Ephesians 4:1-16
Till we all come to the unity of the faith and . . . to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. —Ephesians 4:13
Bible in a year:
Psalms 148-150; 1 Corinthians 15:29-58

When a high school student tried using a thermometer to measure a table, his teacher was dumbfounded. In 15 years of teaching, Dave had seen many sad and shocking situations. But even he was amazed that a student could make it to high school without knowing the difference between a ruler and a thermometer.

When a friend told me this story, my heart broke for that student and others like him who have fallen so far behind in their education. They can’t move forward because they haven’t yet learned basic lessons of everyday life.

But then a sobering thought came to me: Don’t we sometimes do the same thing when we use wrong spiritual measuring devices? For example, do we assume that churches with the most resources are the most blessed by God? And do we ever think that popular preachers are more godly than those with few followers?

The proper measure of our spiritual condition is the quality of our lives, which is measured by such attributes as lowliness, gentleness, and longsuffering (Eph. 4:2). “Bearing with one another in love” (v.2) is a good indication that we are moving toward God’s goal for us: “the measure of . . . the fullness of Christ” (v.13).

Our spiritual maturity
Is measured by the quality
Of attributes that others see
Produced in us by Christ. —Sper

Our love for God can be measured by our love for others.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ant World

By Joe Stowell

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Read: 2 Timothy 4:9-18
Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world. —2 Timothy 4:10
Bible in a year:
Psalms 143-145; 1 Corinthians 14:21-40

One of the highlights of my work as a college president is commencement. One year, while walking to the graduation ceremony, I was excited by the thought that our graduates were ready to go out to engage the world with the transforming power of the kingdom of Christ. On my way, I noticed some industrious ants busily going about their routine. I thought, There are much greater things happening than the building of sand piles!

It’s easy for us to get lost in “ant world”—to be so busy with our routines that we miss the joy of personally embracing the bigger picture of God’s great work around the world. The work of the Spirit is sweeping across South America, thousands in Africa are coming to know Christ daily, persecuted Christians are thriving, and the Asian Rim is throbbing with the pulse of the gospel! Do those thoughts ever capture your heart? Your prayer life? Your checkbook?

Our preoccupation with lesser things reminds me of Paul’s report that “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10). I wonder if Demas regretted abandoning the gospel for the sand piles of this world?

Let’s get out of “ant world” and engage our hearts and lives in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Lord, I love You and want to be a part of Your work
around the world. Give me an open heart to know which
opportunities You want me to be a part of and wisdom
in knowing how to carry that out. Amen.

Don’t let smaller things distract you from
the bigger work of God around the world.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Find The Book

By Marvin Williams

Read: 2 Kings 22:8–23:3
I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord. —2 Kings 22:8
Bible in a year:
Psalms 135-136; 1 Corinthians 12

One Sunday at the church where I pastor, I invited three children to find several scrolls with Bible verses written on them that I had hidden in our worship center. I told them that once they found them and read the words aloud, I would give them a prize. You should have seen those kids! They ran, moved chairs, and looked under plants and in purses (with permission). Their search for the scrolls was intense, but exciting. Their diligent search and subsequent discovery of the scrolls led to joy in the children, affirmation from our congregation, and a renewed sense of the importance of God’s Word.

In 2 Kings 22–23, we read how King Josiah and the people of Judah rediscovered the joy and importance of God’s Word. During the repairing of the temple, Hilkiah the high priest found the Book of the Law. It must have been lost or hidden during the reign of Manasseh. Then when the scroll was read to King Josiah, he listened and responded to it (vv.10-11). He sought further understanding of it (vv.12-20), and he led the people to renew their commitment to its importance in their lives (23:1-4).

Many today have unprecedented access to God’s Word. Let’s renew our commitment to “find” it every day and by our lives show its prominence.

O Book divine, supreme, sublime

Entire, eternal, holy, true;

Sufficient for all men and time—

We pledge our faith to thee anew. —Anon.

To know Christ, the Living Word,

is to love the Bible, the written Word.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Teachable Spirit

By Anne Cetas

Read: Proverbs 2:1-9
Do not be wise in your own eyes. —Proverbs 3:7
Bible in a year:
Psalms 132-134; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Just before our church service began, I overheard a young man behind me talking with his mother. They were reading an announcement in the bulletin about a challenge to read one chapter of Proverbs each day for the months of July and August. He asked his mom, “What will we do with chapter 31 in August since there are only 30 days?” She said she thought there were 31 days in August. He responded, “No, there are only 30.”

When it was time in the service to greet each other, I turned back toward him and said hello. Then I added, “August does have 31 days.” He insisted, “No, it doesn’t. There can’t be 2 months in a row with 31 days.” The singing started, so I just smiled.

This brief encounter made me think about our need to develop a teachable spirit, seeking wisdom beyond our own. In Proverbs 3, the attitude the father recommends to the son is one of humility: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord” (v.7). In chapter 2, he says, “Incline your ear to wisdom . . . ; search for her as for hidden treasures” (vv.2,4).

Knowing whether August has 30 or 31 days doesn’t matter much, but having a teachable spirit does. It will help us gain wisdom from God and others. Reading a chapter from Proverbs each day next month may give us a start.

Lord, teach us from Your holy Word
The truth that we must know,
And help us share the joyous news
Of blessings You bestow. —D. De Haan

True wisdom begins and ends with God.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Modest Proposal

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read: Philippians 2:1-11
[Jesus] humbled Himself . . . to the point of death, even the death of the cross. —Philippians 2:8
Bible in a year:
Psalms 120-122; 1 Corinthians 9

As a college student, I heard count- less engagement stories. My starry-eyed friends told about glitzy restaurants, mountaintop sunsets, and rides in horse-drawn carriages. I also recall one story about a young man who simply washed his girlfriend’s feet. His “modest proposal” proved he understood that humility is vital for a lifelong commitment.

The apostle Paul also understood the significance of humility and how it holds us together. This is especially important in marriage. Paul said to reject “me-first” urges: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition” (Phil. 2:3). Instead, we should value our spouses more than ourselves, and look out for their interests.

Humility in action means serving our spouse, and no act of service is too small or too great. After all, Jesus “humbled Himself . . . to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (v.8). His selflessness showed His love for us.

What can you do today to humbly serve the one you love? Maybe it’s as simple as leaving brussels sprouts off the dinner menu or as difficult as helping him or her through a long illness. Whatever it is, placing our spouse’s needs before our own confirms our commitment to each other through Christlike humility.

In marriage, we will honor Christ
By following His lead
Of sacrificial love and care
To meet the other’s need. —Sper

If you think it’s possible to love your spouse too much,
you probably haven’t loved enough.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Goodness Of The Lord

By David H. Roper

Read: Psalm 119:97-104
Oh, how I love Your law! —Psalm 119:97
Bible in a year:
Psalm 119:89-176; 1 Corinthians 8

Some years ago I came across a short essay written by Sir James Barrie, an English baron. In it he gives an intimate picture of his mother, who deeply loved God and His Word and who literally read her Bible to pieces. “It is mine now,” Sir James wrote, “and to me the black threads with which she stitched it are a part of the contents.”

My mother also loved God’s Word. She read and pondered it for 60 years or more. I keep her Bible on my bookshelf in a prominent place. It too is tattered and torn, each stained page marked with her comments and reflections. As a boy, I often walked into her room in the morning and found her cradling her Bible in her lap, poring over its words. She did so until the day she could no longer see the words on the page. Even then her Bible was the most precious book in her possession.

When Sir James’ mother grew old, she could no longer read the words of her Bible. Yet daily, her husband put her Bible in her hands, and she would reverently hold it there.

The psalmist wrote, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (119:103). Have you tasted the goodness of the Lord? Open your Bible today.

The Bible, the Bible! more precious than gold;
Glad hopes and bright glories its pages unfold;
It speaks of the Father and tells of His love,
And shows us the way to the mansions above. —Anon.

A well-read Bible is a sign of a well-fed soul.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bring It On!

By Dave Branon

Read: 2 Corinthians 11:22–12:10
Three times I was beaten . . . ; three times I was shipwrecked; . . . in perils . . . , in weariness and toil, . . . in hunger and thirst. —2 Corinthians 11:25-27
Bible in a year:
Psalm 119:1-88; 1 Corinthians 7:20-40

A TV program on the History Channel featured the world’s most extreme airports. The one that caught my attention is no longer open, but it is one I had flown into. I agree that Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport was definitely a thrill ride for passengers and surely a challenge for pilots. If you came in from one direction, you had to fly over skyscrapers and then hope the plane stopped before it plunged into the sea. If you came in the other way, it seemed as if you were going to smack into a mountain.

I found it surprising that a pilot who used to take planeloads of people into Kai Tak said, “I miss flying into that airport.” But I think I know what he meant. As a pilot, he relished the challenge. He had a confidence based on his ability and his reliance on those who guided him into the airport.

Too often, we run from challenges. Yet the people we love to read about in the Bible are impressive because they battled challenges. Consider Paul. With the confidence of God’s help, he faced troubles head-on—and conquered them. Christ’s promise to Paul and to us is: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Like Paul’s example, in the confidence of God’s care we can say to the next challenge: Bring it on!

I do not ask for easy paths
Along life’s winding roads,
But for the promised grace and strength
To carry all its loads. —Meadows

If God sends you on stony paths,
He will provide you with strong shoes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Joyful Reunion

By Bill Crowder

Read: 2 Timothy 4:1-8
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! —Revelation 22:20
Bible in a year:
Psalms 113-115; 1 Corinthians 6

Some years ago when our children were still small, I flew home after a 10-day ministry trip. In those days people were allowed to visit the airport boarding area to greet incoming passengers. When my flight landed, I came out of the jet-bridge and was greeted by our little ones—so happy to see me that they were screaming and crying. I looked at my wife, whose eyes were teary. I couldn’t speak. Strangers in the gate area also teared up as our children hugged my legs and cried their greetings. It was a wonderful moment.

The memory of the intensity of that greeting serves as a gentle rebuke to the priorities of my own heart. The apostle John, eagerly desiring Jesus’ return, wrote, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). In another passage, Paul even spoke of a crown awaiting those who have “loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). Yet sometimes I don’t feel as eager for Christ’s return as my children were for mine.

Jesus is worthy of the very best of our love and devotion—and nothing on earth should compare to the thought of seeing Him face-to-face. May our love for our Savior deepen as we anticipate our joyful reunion with Him.

And for the hope of His return,
Dear Lord, Your name we praise;
With longing hearts we watch and wait
For that great day of days! —Sherwood

Those who belong to Christ should be longing to see Him.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ponder Your Path

By David C. McCasland

Read: Proverbs 4:14-27
Keep your heart with all diligence . . . . Ponder the path of your feet. —Proverbs 4:23,26
Bible in a year:
Psalms 110-112; 1 Corinthians 5

A 47-year-old Austrian man gave away his entire $4.7 million fortune after concluding that his wealth and lavish spending were keeping him from real life and happiness. Karl Rabeder told the Daily Telegraph (London), “I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things I did not wish for or need. It was the biggest shock in my life when I realized how horrible, soulless, and without feeling the ‘five-star’ lifestyle is.” His money now funds charities he set up to help people in Latin America.

Proverbs 4 urges us to consider carefully our own road in life. The passage contrasts the free, unhindered path of the just with the dark, confused way of the wicked (v.19). “Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live” (v.4). “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (v.23). “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established” (v.26). Each verse encourages us to evaluate where we are in life.

No one wants to go through life on a selfish, heartless road. But it can happen unless we consider where we are going in life and ask the Lord for His direction. May He give us grace today to embrace His Word and follow Him with all our hearts

If we pursue mere earthly gain,
We choose a path that ends in pain;
But joy remains within the soul
When we pursue a heavenly goal. —D. De Haan

You are headed in the right direction when you walk with God.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Obstacle Inventory

By Joe Stowell

Read: 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. —Romans 14:13
Bible in a year:
Psalms 105-106; 1 Corinthians 3

Fault-finding is a popular pastime, and unfortunately a lot of us find it’s easy to join the fun. Concentrating on the warts of others is a great way to feel better about ourselves. And that’s just the problem. Avoiding the faults that need to be fixed in our own lives not only stunts our spiritual growth but also obstructs God’s work through us. God’s effectiveness through our lives is enhanced or hindered by the way we live.

It’s no wonder, then, that Paul made a concerted effort to “put no obstacle in anyone’s way” (2 Cor. 6:3 ESV). For him there was nothing more important than his usefulness for Christ in the lives of others. Anything that got in the way of that was dispensable.

If you want to be authentic and useful for God, take an obstacle inventory. Sometimes obstacles are things that in and of themselves may be legitimate, yet in certain contexts may be inappropriate. But sin is clearly obstructive to others. Gossip, slander, boasting, bitterness, greed, abuse, anger, selfishness, and revenge all close the hearts of those around us to the message of God through us.

So, replace your faults with the winsome ways of Jesus. That will enable others to see your “no-fault” Savior more clearly.

Wherever I am, whatever I do,
O God, please help me to live
In a way that makes me credible
As your representative. —Egner

Followers of Jesus are most effective
when attitudes and actions are aligned with His.

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