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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3130 - 02/28/17 at 08:21:25
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John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


A Chuckle in the Darkness

In a Washington Post article titled “Tech Titans’ Latest Project: Defy Death,” Ariana Cha wrote about the efforts of Peter Thiele and other tech moguls to extend human life indefinitely. They’re prepared to spend billions on the project.

They are a little late. Death has already been defeated! Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26). Jesus assures us that those who put their trust in Him will never, ever, under any circumstances whatever, die.

Jesus, help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.

To be clear, our bodies will die—and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. But the thinking, reasoning, remembering, loving, adventuring part of us that we call “me, myself, and I” will never, ever die.

And here’s the best part: It’s a gift! All you have to do is receive the salvation Jesus offers. C. S. Lewis, musing on this notion, describes it as something like “a chuckle in the darkness”—the sense that something that simple is the answer.

Some say, “It’s too simple.” Well, I say, if God loved you even before you were born and wants you to live with Him forever, why would He make it hard?

Dear Jesus, I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I want to accept You as my Lord and Savior and follow You. Please forgive my sins and help me, from this moment on, to live a life that is pleasing to You.

Christ has replaced the dark door of death with the shining gate of life.

INSIGHT:
Often when confronted with death, we are tempted to either deny how painful it is or to live without hope, only seeing the grief. In this passage, Jesus holds together both the horror of death and the sure promise of life. Because death is a tragic distortion of God’s good creation, Jesus as the Resurrection and Life is all that is opposed to it. If we read the whole story of Lazarus’s resurrection, we see a fuller picture of how Jesus responds to death and grief. He is “deeply moved” and “troubled” (John 11:33) and He weeps (v. 35). Seeing death in all its horror, He defiantly overcomes it and raises Lazarus to life. Jesus’s shout, “Lazarus, come out!” (v. 43) points to the hope of our own bodily resurrection.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3131 - 03/01/17 at 10:14:43
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Romans 12:1 (KJV)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.


All of Me

Young Isaac Watts found the music in his church sadly lacking, and his father challenged him to create something better. Isaac did. His hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” has been called the greatest in the English language and has been translated into many other languages.

Watts’s worshipful third verse ushers us into the presence of Christ at the crucifixion.

“Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.” —Isaac Watts

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

The crucifixion Watts describes so elegantly stands as history’s most awful moment. We do well to pause and stand with those around the cross. The Son of God strains for breath, held by crude spikes driven through His flesh. After tortured hours, a supernatural darkness descends. Finally, mercifully, the Lord of the universe dismisses His anguished spirit. An earthquake rattles the landscape. Back in the city the thick temple curtain rips in half. Graves open, and dead bodies resurrect, walking about the city (Matt. 27:51–53). These events compel the centurion who crucified Jesus to say, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (v. 54).

“The Cross reorders all values and cancels all vanities,” says the Poetry Foundation in commenting on Watts’s poem. The song could only conclude: “Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.”

It is our privilege to give everything we have
to the One who gave us everything on the cross.

INSIGHT:
When the Lord Jesus Christ hung upon the cross, cosmic events accompanied by signs and wonders occurred between heaven and earth. A supernatural darkness came over the earth midday. Many theologians believe that for the first time in eternity past the fellowship between the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—was interrupted. As Christ took our sins upon Himself on the cross, His Father could not stay in fellowship with Him. An earthquake opened the tombs of some Old Testament believers, who were brought back to life. So dramatic were these events that even a Gentile, such as the Roman centurion who oversaw Jesus’s crucifixion, made a declaration of faith.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3132 - 03/02/17 at 08:07:10
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Hebrews 2:18 (KJV)
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.


One of Us

At the memorial service for Charles Schulz (1922–2000), creator of the beloved Peanuts comic strip, friend and fellow cartoonist Cathy Guisewite spoke of his humanity and compassion. “He gave everyone in the world characters who knew exactly how all of us felt, who made us feel we were never alone. And then he gave the cartoonist himself, and he made us feel that we were never alone. . . . He encouraged us. He commiserated with us. He made us feel he was exactly like us.”

When we feel that no one understands or can help us, we are reminded that Jesus gave us Himself, and He knows exactly who we are and what we are facing today.

Jesus knows exactly who we are and what we are facing today.

Hebrews 2:9–18 presents the remarkable truth that Jesus fully shared our humanity during His life on earth (v. 14). He “taste[d] death for everyone” (v. 9), broke the power of Satan (v. 14), and freed “those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (v. 15). Jesus was made like us, “fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God” (v. 17). Thank You, Lord, for sharing our humanity so that we might know Your help today and live in Your presence forever.

What fears and concerns do you have? What should you do with those fears? (1 Peter 5:6–7). What does the Lord promise to do for you? (Heb. 13:5).

No one understands like Jesus.

INSIGHT:
Hebrews 2:5–18 explains why Jesus being fully human is so significant. The author of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 8 to show that God from the beginning intended humanity to rule over creation. Although we are not yet ruling fully as God intended, the resurrected Jesus has been crowned king of creation and someday we too will reign with Him. Hebrews 2:12 quotes Psalm 22:22, which describes Jesus celebrating in worship with His brothers and sisters. Because Jesus is not only our Lord but also our fully human “brother,” we will someday rule alongside Him.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3133 - 03/03/17 at 07:07:31
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John 16:22 (KJV)
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.


Two Portraits

Clutching two framed photographs, the proud grandmother showed them to friends in the church foyer. The first picture was of her daughter back in her homeland of Burundi. The second was of her grandson, born recently to that daughter. But the daughter wasn’t holding her newborn. She had died giving birth to him.

A friend approached and looked at the pictures. Reflexively, she reached up and held that dear grandmother’s face in her hands. All she could say through her own tears was, “I know. I know.”

When we put our cares into His hands, He puts His peace into our hearts.

And she did know. Two months earlier she had buried a son.

There’s something special about the comfort of others who have experienced our pain. They know. Just before Jesus’s arrest, He warned His disciples, “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.” But in the next breath He comforted them: “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20). In mere hours, the disciples would be devastated by Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion. But their crushing grief soon turned to a joy they could not have imagined when they saw Him alive again.

Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isa. 53:4). We have a Savior who doesn’t merely know about our pain; He lived it. He knows. He cares. One day our grief will be turned into joy.

Lord, thank You for going to the cross for us. We certainly know trouble in this world, but You overcame the world and took our sin and pain for us. We look forward to the day when our sorrows will be turned into joy and we see You face to face.

When we put our cares into His hands, He puts His peace into our hearts.

INSIGHT:
It was necessary for Jesus, who is fully God, to be made in every respect like us—fully human—so that He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Only by becoming a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. While on earth, the Lord Jesus “walked in our shoes” and, therefore, He fully knows and understands us. We are now to walk in His “shoes” and imitate His example of compassion and care. “In your relationships with one another,” Paul tells us, “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). How can you bring comfort to others today by walking in Jesus’s shoes?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3134 - 03/04/17 at 07:06:56
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Psalm 139:4 (KJV)
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.


Of Love and Old Shoes

Sometimes my wife and I finish each other’s sentences. In over thirty years of marriage we’ve become increasingly familiar with the way the other thinks and speaks. We may not even have to finish a sentence at all; just a word or a glance is enough to express a thought.

There’s comfort in that—like an old pair of shoes you continue to wear because they fit so well. Sometimes we even refer to each other affectionately as “my old shoe”—a compliment that might be difficult to understand if you didn’t know us well! Through the years our relationship has developed a language of its own, with expressions that are the result of decades of love and trust.

God looks past our words to our hearts.

It’s comforting to know that God loves us with a deep familiarity. David wrote, “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Ps. 139:4). Imagine having a quiet conversation with Jesus where you’re telling Him the deepest matters of your heart. Just when you’re struggling to get the words out, He gives you a knowing smile and expresses exactly what you couldn’t quite say. How good it is to know that we don’t have to get our words just right to talk to God! He loves us and knows us well enough to understand.

You know all about me, Lord, and You love me. Thank You for understanding me completely! Please help me to love You and follow You today.

God looks past our words to our hearts.

INSIGHT:
Psalm 139 contains insight into the nature and character of God. In verses 1–6 we see that God is omniscient, which means He is “all knowing.” This knowledge is “wonderful” and too high to attain to. In verses 7–12 we are challenged to consider the omnipresence of God—that He is always everywhere. This God deserves the worship of a creation bound by the limitations of time and space. In verses 13–18 the song teaches of God’s omnipotence—that He is all-powerful. His power is seen in His ability to create us (v. 13), His sovereign rule over creation (v. 16), and His constant care (vv. 17–18). Since God is fully aware of everything in your life, what about that makes you thankful? What causes concern? Do you feel comforted or threatened by God’s never-leaving presence? What impact does God’s all-powerful character have on how you view life’s challenges?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3135 - 03/05/17 at 08:08:38
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Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.


The Gift of Welcome

The dinner where we hosted families from five nations remains a wonderful memory. Somehow the conversation didn’t splinter into twos, but we all contributed to a discussion of life in London from the viewpoints of different parts of the world. At the end of the evening, my husband and I reflected that we had received more than we gave, including the warm feelings we experienced in fostering new friendships and learning about different cultures.

The writer of the book of Hebrews concluded his thoughts with some exhortations for community life, including that his readers should continue to welcome strangers. For in doing so, “some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (13:2). He may have been referring to Abraham and Sarah, who as we see in Genesis 18:1–12 welcomed three strangers, reaching out to them with generosity and treating them to a feast, as was the custom in biblical times. They didn’t know that they were entertaining angels who brought them a message of blessing.

May the Lord spread His love through us as we reach out with His welcome.

We don’t ask people into our homes in the hope of gaining from them, but often we receive more than we give. May the Lord spread His love through us as we reach out with His welcome.

Lord God, You are the source of all that we have. May we share what we receive, that You may be glorified.

When we practice hospitality, we share God’s goodness and gifts.

INSIGHT:
In Hebrews 13 we are reminded to show “hospitality to strangers” (v. 2). This is about more than inviting friends over for Sunday lunch. In Bible times, travelers and strangers were often invited to stay in people’s homes. The hosts would provide food and a place to sleep along with safety and protection. We can serve others by opening our lives and homes to the people God places in our path. Can you remember a time when others showed hospitality to you? How did that make you feel? In what ways can you show hospitality? Adapted from Welcoming the Stranger. Go to ourdailybread.org/lookingdeeper.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3136 - 03/06/17 at 06:06:18
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1 Corinthians 13:7-8 (KJV)

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.


Loving Perfectly

Her voice shook as she shared the problems she was having with her daughter. Worried about her teenager’s questionable friends, this concerned mum confiscated her daughter’s mobile phone and chaperoned her everywhere. Their relationship seemed only to go from bad to worse.

When I spoke with the daughter, I discovered that she loves her mum dearly but is suffocating under a smothering love. She longs to break free.

Thank You for being our model in showing us how to live and love.

As imperfect beings, we all struggle in our relationships. Whether we are a parent or child, single or married, we grapple with expressing love the right way, saying and doing the right thing at the right time. We grow in love throughout our lifetime.

In 1 Corinthians 13 the apostle Paul outlines what perfect love looks like. His standard sounds wonderful, but putting that love into practice can be absolutely daunting. Thankfully, we have Jesus as our example. As He interacted with people with varying needs and issues, He showed us what perfect love looks like in action. As we walk with Him, keeping ourselves in His love and steeping our mind in His Word, we’ll reflect more and more of His likeness. We’ll still make mistakes, but God is able to redeem them and cause good to come out of every situation, for His love “always protects” and it “never fails” (vv. 7–8).

Lord, our intentions are good but we fail each other in so many ways. Thank You for being our model in showing us how to live and love.

To show His love, Jesus died for us; to show our love, we live for Him.

INSIGHT:
Do you ever find yourself hurting those you love, and maybe even forgetting in the emotion of the moment how much you really do care about them? If so, keep in mind that long before Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 he was an angry man who was mindlessly hurting the God he thought he knew and loved (Acts 9:1–6). So what brought about Paul’s change? First he needed to see how wrong he’d been about Jesus. He also needed to see that knowing the law is not the same as keeping it—and that he himself needed not only mercy but also the help of the Spirit of God to love others as God loved him. The Spirit who brought him from law to grace now invites and leads us into the loving patience and kindness that our Lord wants to express in and through us.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3137 - 03/07/17 at 05:49:12
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Job 38:11 (KJV)
And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?


Ruler of the Waves

King Canute was one of the most powerful men on earth in the eleventh century. In a now-famous tale, it is said that he ordered his chair to be placed on the shore as the tide was rising. “You are subject to me,” he said to the sea. “I command you, therefore, not to rise on to my land, nor to wet the clothing or limbs of your master.” But the tide continued to rise, drenching the king’s feet.

This story is often told to draw attention to Canute’s pride. Actually, it’s a story about humility. “Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty,” Canute says next, “save Him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey.” Canute’s story makes a point: God is the only all-powerful One.

God is great, we are small, and that is good.

Job discovered the same. Compared to the One who laid Earth’s foundations (Job 38:4–7), who commands morning to appear and night to end (vv. 12–13), who stocks the storehouses of the snow and directs the stars (vv. 22, 31–33), we are small. There is only one Ruler of the waves, and it is not us (v. 11; Matt. 8:23–27).

Canute’s story is good to reenact when we begin feeling too clever or proud about ourselves. Walk to the beach and tell the tide to halt or try commanding the sun to step aside. We’ll soon remember who is really supreme and thank Him for ruling our lives.

You are high and above all, Lord Almighty. I bow to You as the Ruler of my life.

God is great, we are small, and that is good.

INSIGHT:
The book of Job reflects on the question that continues to trouble the human race: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Job’s friends accused him of having some secret sin that resulted in divine punishment. But God rebuked this unfounded view. The question of why the righteous suffer is not answered. However, because God is supreme over all creation (38:2–40:2; 40:7–41:34), we can trust Him even when we don’t understand. What can you trust God for today?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3138 - 03/08/17 at 09:30:09
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Philippians 2:5 (KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:


Painting a Portrait

The National Portrait Gallery in London, England, houses a treasure of paintings from across the centuries, including 166 images of Winston Churchill, 94 of William Shakespeare, and 20 of George Washington. With the older portraits, we may wonder: Is that what these individuals really looked like?

For instance, there are eight paintings of Scottish patriot William Wallace (c. 1270–1305), but we obviously don’t have photographs to compare them to. How do we know if the artists accurately represented Wallace?

Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for us motivates us to sacrifice ourselves for others.

Something similar might be happening with the likeness of Jesus. Without realizing it, those who believe in Him are leaving an impression of Him on others. Not with brushes and oils, but with attitudes, actions, and relationships.

Are we painting a portrait that represents the likeness of His heart? This was the concern of the apostle Paul. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus,” he wrote (Phil. 2:5). With a desire to accurately represent our Lord, he urged His followers to reflect the humility, self-sacrifice, and compassion of Jesus for others.

It has been said, “We are the only Jesus some people will ever see.” As we “in humility value others above [ourselves]” (v. 3), we will show the world the heart and attitude of Jesus Himself.

Father, please build the heart of Christ into my heart that those around me will see Him clearly and desire to know Him too.

Christ’s sacrifice of Himself motivates us to sacrifice ourselves for others.

INSIGHT:
The church at Philippi, established by Paul during his second missionary journey, was a growing and faithful community that had actively supported Paul’s ministry (Phil. 1:5; 4:15–18). In this thank-you letter, Paul encouraged the Philippians to continue to grow and mature in their faith, even in the midst of persecution. He exhorted them, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27), so that they would “shine . . . like stars in the sky” (2:15). He urged them to imitate Christ in sacrificial love, unity, humility, and service.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3139 - 03/09/17 at 08:26:20
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Exodus 32:24 (KJV)

And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.


Mistakes Were Made

“Mistakes were made,” said the CEO as he discussed the illegal activity his company had been involved in. He looked regretful, yet he kept blame at arm’s length and couldn’t admit he had personally done anything wrong.

Some “mistakes” are just mistakes: driving in the wrong direction, forgetting to set a timer and burning dinner, miscalculating your checkbook balance. But then there are the deliberate deeds that go far beyond—God calls those sin. When God questioned Adam and Eve about why they had disobeyed Him, they quickly tried to shift the blame to another (Gen. 3:8–13). Aaron took no personal responsibility when the people built a golden calf to worship in the desert. He explained to Moses, “[The people] gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” (Ex. 32:24).

Our God offers His children forgiveness and restoration.

He might as well have muttered, “Mistakes were made.”

Sometimes it seems easier to blame someone else rather than admitting our own failings. Equally dangerous is to try to minimize our sin by calling it “just a mistake” instead of acknowledging its true nature.

But when we take responsibility—acknowledging our sin and confessing it—the One who “is faithful and just . . . will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our God offers His children forgiveness and restoration.

The first step to receiving God’s forgiveness is to admit that we need it.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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