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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3440 - 12/30/17 at 05:47:02
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Acts 14:26 (KJV)
And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.


Times of Completion

At the end of the year, the burden of uncompleted tasks can weigh us down. Responsibilities at home and work may seem never-ending, and those unfinished today roll into tomorrow. But there are times in our journey of faith when we should pause and celebrate God’s faithfulness and the tasks completed.

After the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, “they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed” (Acts 14:26). While much work remained in sharing the message of Jesus with others, they took time to give thanks for what had been done. “They gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27).

Lord, as this year comes to a close, we give thanks for all You have accomplished in and through us.

What has God done through you during the past year? How has He opened the door of faith for someone you know and love? In ways we can’t imagine, He is at work through us in tasks that may seem insignificant or incomplete.

When we feel painfully aware of our unfinished tasks in serving the Lord, let’s not forget to give thanks for the ways He has worked through us. Rejoicing over what God has done by His grace sets the stage for what is to come!

Lord, as this year comes to a close, we give thanks for all You have accomplished in and through us. By Your grace, lift our eyes to see what is to come!

God is always at work in and through us.

INSIGHT
This inaugural missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas covered nearly 900 miles, much of it on foot. At first the duo met primarily with Jewish audiences. In the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch (in modern-day Turkey) Paul appealed to the Jewish heritage of his hearers. He outlined Israel’s history and clearly showed how it culminated in the coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:13–41). Paul’s biblical preaching so intrigued his listeners that they invited him back the following Sabbath.

So many people returned to hear him the next week that it set off a jealous reaction among some influential Jews in Antioch (v. 45). This didn’t appear to faze Paul and Barnabas, who simply turned to the Gentiles who were present and quoted Isaiah 49:6 to them: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” The church grew. The opposition Paul and Barnabas faced merely resulted in the expansion of the gospel message and contributed to the overall success of their missionary journey.
  

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 #3441 - 12/31/17 at 08:11:41
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Lamentations 3:23 (KJV)
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.


Faith-Building Memories

As I stepped into the music-filled sanctuary, I looked around at the crowd that had gathered for a New Year’s Eve party. Joy lifted my heart with hope, as I recalled the prayers of the previous year. Our congregation had collectively grieved over wayward children, deaths of loved ones, job losses, and broken relationships. But we’d also experienced God’s grace as we recalled changed hearts and healed personal connections. We’d celebrated victories, weddings, graduations, and baptisms into God’s family. We’d welcomed children born, adopted, or dedicated to the Lord, and more—so much more.

Reflecting over the history of trials our church family faced, much like Jeremiah remembered his “affliction” and his “wandering” (Lam. 3:19), I believed that “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (v. 22). As the prophet reassured himself of God’s past faithfulness, his words comforted me: “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (v. 25).

Great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23

That night, each person in our congregation represented a tangible expression of God’s life-transforming love. Whatever we’d face in the years to come, as members of the interdependent body of Christ, we could rely on the Lord. And as we continue to seek Him and support one another, we can, as did Jeremiah, find our hope being ratified by faith-building memories of God’s unchanging character and dependability.

Lord, thank You for using our past to assure us our hope remains secure in Your everlasting faithfulness.

As we look ahead to the new year, let’s remember that God has always been and always will be faithful.

INSIGHT

In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah laments those who are persecuted for standing true to the Lord. He feels as if he himself has been plunged into darkness and chained as a prisoner (vv. 1–9). He has experienced attacks, abduction, and isolation, and has been scorned and pierced by his enemies (vv. 10–15). Personal dignity and a sense of security have been painfully replaced with loneliness and sorrow (vv. 16–20).

Yet within this valley of despair there is a greater reality that rises above the circumstances. As we reflect on the character of God we see He is always present in our situation and offers comfort and hope. God’s mercies are as certain as the rising of the sun each day (vv. 21–23). In view of this inspiring truth, the living God truly is all that we need for any of life’s trials (v. 24).

As you think back over the past year, when have you experienced the faithfulness of God?
  

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 #3442 - 01/01/18 at 05:29:31
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Ezra 1:5 (KJV)
Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.



Beginning Again

After Christmas festivities conclude at the end of December, my thoughts often turn to the coming year. While my children are out of school and our daily rhythms are slow, I reflect on where the last year has brought me and where I hope the next will take me. Those reflections sometimes come with pain and regret over the mistakes I’ve made. Yet the prospect of starting a new year fills me with hope and expectancy. I feel I have the opportunity to begin again with a fresh start, no matter what the last year held.

My anticipation of a fresh start pales in comparison to the sense of hope the Israelites must have felt when Cyrus, the king of Persia, released them to return to their homeland in Judah after seventy long years of captivity in Babylon. The previous king, Nebuchadnezzar, had deported the Israelites from their homeland. But the Lord prompted Cyrus to send the captives home to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s temple (Ezra 1:2–3). Cyrus also returned to them treasures that had been taken from the temple. Their lives as God’s chosen people, in the land God had appointed to them, began afresh after a long season of hardship in Babylon as a consequence for their sin.

Lord, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness and new beginnings.

No matter what lies in our past, when we confess our sin, God forgives us and gives us a fresh start. What great cause for hope!

What can you do to grow closer to God this year? Share your thoughts with us at Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

God’s grace offers us fresh starts.
  

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 #3443 - 01/02/18 at 05:46:15
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Philippians 3:14 (KJV)
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


Pressing On

As I walked past an outside wall of the office building where I work, I was amazed to see a beautiful flower growing up through a crack between concrete slabs covering the ground. Despite its deprived circumstance, the plant had found a foothold, rooted itself in the dry crevice, and was flourishing. Later, I noticed that an air-conditioning unit located directly above the plant dropped water on it throughout the day. While its surroundings were hostile, the plant received the help it needed from the water above.

Growing in the Christian life can sometimes be difficult, but when we persevere with Christ, barriers are surmountable. Our circumstances may be unfavorable and discouragement may seem like an obstacle. Yet if we press on in our relationship with the Lord, we can flourish like that lone plant. This was the experience of the apostle Paul. Despite the severe hardships and challenges he faced (2 Corinthians 11:23–27), he wouldn’t give up. “I . . . take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me,” he wrote. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize” (Philippians 3:12, 14).

This is a day that You have made, Father. Thank You that You’ll be near me in whatever I face today.

Paul realized he could do all things through the Lord who strengthened him (4:13), and so can we as we press on with the help of One who gives us strength.

This is a day that You have made, Father. Thank You that You’ll be near me in whatever I face today.

God provides the strength we need to persevere and grow.

INSIGHT
Today’s reading contains the most personal statement Paul makes in his letters. In the preceding verses (vv. 4–6), he unpacks his Jewish heritage, religious training, and great zeal for Judaism. The startling candor comes in verse 8 when, reflecting on what had defined his life prior to encountering Christ on the Damascus Road, he writes, “I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Garbage—that’s strong! All the things that had driven him to persecute and kill were now counted worthless compared to the value of Christ. This speaks to the extraordinary value of relationship and rescue over religion and ritual. And that relationship with God through Christ is the strength that fuels our hearts in all the seasons of life—whether good or bad.
  

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 #3444 - 01/03/18 at 05:41:58
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1 Chronicles 29:11 (KJV)
Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.


Breathtaking Glory

One of the pleasures of a trip to Europe is visiting the grand cathedrals that dot the landscape. They are breathtakingly beautiful as they soar toward the heavens. The architecture, art, and symbolism found in these amazing buildings present a spellbinding experience of wonder and magnificence.

As I thought about the fact that these structures were built to reflect God’s magnificence and His all-surpassing splendor, I wondered how we could possibly recapture in our hearts and minds a similar feeling of God’s grandeur and be reminded again of His greatness.

God alone is worthy of our worship.

One way we can do that is to look beyond man’s grand, regal structures and contemplate the greatness of what God Himself has created. Take one look at a starry night sky and think of God’s power as He spoke the universe into existence. Hold a newborn baby in your arms and thank God for the miracle of life itself. Look at the snow-covered mountains of Alaska or the majestic Atlantic Ocean teeming with millions of God-designed creatures and imagine the power that makes that ecosystem work.

Mankind is not wrong to reach for the sky with structures that are intended to point us to God. But our truest admiration should be reserved for God Himself as we say to Him, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor” (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Lord, You do take our breath away with Your greatness. Thank You for reminding us of Your grandeur in Your world and in Your Word.

God alone is worthy of our worship.

INSIGHT
David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29 paints a beautiful portrait of a powerful and generous God. While these sentiments—God is everlasting, everything belongs to Him, and He strengthens His people—are all undoubtedly true, David isn’t just praying a random prayer. First Chronicles 29 is about the people giving resources and materials to the building of the temple. David’s prayer follows a listing of the resources people donated to the “building fund”—gold, silver, precious jewels, bronze, wood. We see a striking similarity between the descriptions of the building materials and the descriptions of God in that both are written in terms that inspire awe. The temple materials, both in amount and in type, would have been something to behold. Similarly, David describes God in terms that inspire awestruck reverence at His glory. Could it be that the writer was attempting to make the point that the house should reflect the occupant? The temple was where God resided among His people. Shouldn’t it reflect His glory? Today God’s Spirit dwells in believers.

Knowing that you are the temple of God’s Spirit, how can you reflect His glory?
  

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 #3445 - 01/04/18 at 08:20:28
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John 5:39-40 (KJV)

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.


What Do the Experts Say?


Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes of the “uncanny ability of experts to get things hopelessly, cataclysmically wrong.” A quick glance at recent history shows he’s right. The great inventor Thomas Edison, for instance, once declared that talking movies would never replace silent films. And in 1928, Henry Ford declared, “People are becoming too intelligent ever to have another war.” Countless other predictions by “experts” have missed the mark badly. Genius obviously has its limits.

Only one Person is completely reliable, and He had strong words for some so-called experts. The religious leaders of Jesus’s day claimed to have the truth. These scholars and theologians thought they knew what the promised Messiah would be like when He arrived.

Knowing the future is uncertain; knowing the One who holds the future is a sure thing.

Jesus cautioned them, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.” Then He pointed out how they were missing the heart of the matter. “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40).

As another new year gets underway, we’ll hear predictions ranging from the terrifying to the wildly optimistic. Many of them will be stated with a great deal of confidence and authority. Don’t be alarmed. Our confidence remains in the One at the very heart of the Scriptures. He has a firm grip on us and on our future.

Father, whenever we are troubled or alarmed, help us to seek You. We commit this coming year and all it holds to You.

Knowing the future is uncertain; knowing the One who holds the future is a sure thing.

INSIGHT
An Old Testament example of “experts” who missed the mark is the account of the “wise men” in the book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to explain his dreams, but these experts admitted, “No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans” (2:11). However, God enabled Daniel to explain the dreams, and he told the king: “No wise man . . . can explain . . . the mystery. . . ,  but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (vv. 27–28). The king’s experts were right to say no one can reveal mysteries except God, but they were clearly wrong that God does “not live among humans” (v. 11). The Scriptures tell us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

How does knowing Jesus is God and lives in us through the Spirit give you confidence in this world of uncertainty?
  

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 #3446 - 01/04/18 at 23:51:23
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3447 - 01/05/18 at 05:13:12
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1 Peter 1:16 (KJV)
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.


Just Like My Father

My father’s dusty, heeled-over, cowboy boots rest on the floor of my study, daily reminders of the kind of man he was.

Among other things, he raised and trained cutting horses—equine athletes that move like quicksilver. I loved to watch him at work, marveling that he could stay astride.

Father God, we want to be just like You. Help us to grow more and more like You each day!

As a boy, growing up, I wanted to be just like him. I’m in my eighties, and his boots are still too large for me to fill.

My father’s in heaven now, but I have another Father to emulate. I want to be just like Him—filled with His goodness, fragrant with His love. I’m not there and never will be in this life; His boots are much too large for me to fill.

But the apostle Peter said this: “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ . . . will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). He has the wisdom and power to do that, you know (v. 11).

Our lack of likeness to our heavenly Father will not last forever. God has called us to share the beauty of character that is His. In this life we reflect Him poorly, but in heaven our sin and sorrow will be no more and we’ll reflect Him more fully! This is the “true grace of God” (v. 12).

Father God, we want to be just like You. Help us to grow more and more like You each day!

Through the cross, believers are made perfect in His sight.

INSIGHT
Not everyone has a father whose boots they wish to fill. Some of us don’t even know our father. But the Bible gives us real hope! We have a Father who welcomes us with open arms. And He tells us, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

We shouldn’t let that lofty challenge frighten us. Our loving Father gives us what we need to follow Him, even when we fail. Just look at Simon Peter’s life. Peter wrote to a church facing intense persecution, and he warned of a mortal enemy—the devil—who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (5:8). That imagery reminds us of Jesus’s warning to Peter before His crucifixion: “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32).

Jesus prayed for Peter. He prays for us too. Wherever we are today we can “turn back,” as Peter did, and find our Father’s welcome.

What hinders you from enjoying God’s acceptance and love?
  

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 #3448 - 01/06/18 at 07:01:52
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Matthew 2:2 (KJV)
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.


The Gift of the Magi

A young married couple had more love than money. As Christmas neared, both struggled to find a gift that would show how much they cared for the other. Finally, on Christmas Eve, Della sold her long, knee-length hair to buy Jim a platinum chain for the watch he’d inherited from his father and grandfather. Jim, however, had just sold the watch to buy a set of expensive combs for Della’s hair.

Author O. Henry called the couple’s story The Gift of the Magi. His creation suggests that even though their gifts became useless and may have caused them to look foolish on Christmas morning, their love made them among the wisest of those who give gifts.

Father in heaven, please help us in this season to learn what it means to give.

The wise men of the first Christmas story also could have looked foolish to some as they arrived in Bethlehem with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). They weren’t Jewish. They were outsiders, Gentiles, who didn’t realize how much they would disturb the peace of Jerusalem by asking about a newly born king of the Jews (v. 2).

As with Jim and Della’s experience, the magi’s plans didn’t turn out the way they expected. But they gave what money cannot buy. They came with gifts, but then bowed to worship One who would ultimately make the greatest of all loving sacrifices for them—and for us.

Father in heaven, please help us to learn what it means to give what money cannot buy.

God’s gift of grace is priceless.

INSIGHT
The gifts the magi brought were precious. But the worship they offered the King of Kings from bended knee and bowed head was of greater value than the material gifts.

How can you worship God 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 #3449 - 01/07/18 at 08:12:46
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Philippians 2:10 (KJV)
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;


One Name

Cleopatra, Galileo, Shakespeare, Elvis, Pelé. They are all so well known that they need only one name to be recognized. They have remained prominent in history because of who they were and what they did. But there is another name that stands far above these or any other name!

Before the Son of God was born into this world, the angel told Mary and Joseph to name Him Jesus because “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), and “he . . . will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Jesus didn’t come as a celebrity but as a servant who humbled Himself and died on the cross so that anyone who receives Him can be forgiven and freed from the power of sin.

Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all. Augustine

The apostle Paul wrote, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).

In our times of greatest joy and our deepest need, the name we cling to is Jesus. He will never leave us, and His love will not fail.

Jesus, You are the name above all names, our Savior and Lord. We lift our praise to You as we celebrate Your presence and power in our lives today.

Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all.  Augustine

INSIGHT
God, who exists eternally in three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—has a variety of names that describe His attributes, including Good Shepherd, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Strong Tower, and Comforter. Yet here in Philippians 2 Jesus is called the “name that is above every name” (v. 9). Paul, the author of Philippians, goes on to say that at the sound of His name “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (v. 10). Why this enthusiastic praise for the name of Jesus? It’s because of who He is, what He left behind, and what He accomplished. Jesus, the Son of God, left the magnificence of heaven and the presence of His Father and humbled Himself by taking on “human likeness” and “becoming obedient to death” (vv. 7–8). Thus humbled, Jesus was “exalted . . . to the highest place” and given the name above all names (v. 9). He died and rose again because of His love for us and is deserving of our praise and the overflowing joy it expresses.

Whom can you tell about Jesus?
  

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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