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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3460 - 01/18/18 at 09:36:09
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Genesis 45:8 (KJV)
So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God:


Dealing with Delay

A global computer system outage causes widespread flight cancellations, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers at airports. During a winter storm, multiple auto accidents close major highways. The person who promised to send a reply “right away” has failed to do so. Delays can often produce anger and frustration, but as followers of Jesus, we have the privilege of looking to Him for help.

One of the Bible’s great examples of patience is Joseph, who was sold to slave traders by his jealous brothers, falsely accused by his employer’s wife, and imprisoned in Egypt. “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:20–21). Years later, when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he was made second in command in Egypt (ch. 41).

Confidence in God enables us to live out our faith patiently.

The most remarkable fruit of his patience occurred when his brothers came to buy grain during a famine. “I am your brother Joseph,” he told them, “the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. . . . So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God”  (45:4–5, 8).

In all our delays, brief or long, may we, like Joseph, gain patience, perspective, and peace as we trust in the Lord.

Father in heaven, in all of our delays may we trust Your faithful hand of guidance and experience Your presence with us in every situation.

Confidence in God enables us to live out our faith patiently.

INSIGHT
When we are going through a difficult season, we can find comfort and encouragement by looking at how God worked in Joseph’s difficult—even seemingly hopeless—circumstances. We learn to ask the questions: Why does God have me here? What does He have in store for me or want to do through me? Joseph came to realize that it was God who had placed him in his situation (see Genesis 45:8; 50:20).

We also learn something about God’s timing. It only takes a few moments for us to read Joseph’s story, but his trial lasted for years. His imprisonment may have been to fulfill God’s purposes (interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams) but the timing was also God’s.

How does knowing that God is in control help you as you wait for Him to work?

  

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 #3461 - 01/19/18 at 08:50:17
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Zechariah 4:7 (KJV)
Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.


By the Spirit’s Power

What do you do when there is a mountain in your way? The story of Dashrath Manjhi can inspire us. When his wife died because he was unable to get her to the hospital to receive urgent medical care, Manjhi did what seemed impossible. He spent twenty-two years chiseling a massive gap in a mountain so other villagers could get to the local hospital to receive the medical care they needed. Before he died, the government of India celebrated him for his achievement.

Rebuilding the temple must have looked impossible to Zerubbabel, one of the leaders of Israel who returned from exile. The people were discouraged, faced opposition from their enemies, and lacked resources or a big army. But God sent Zechariah to remind Zerubbabel that the task would take something more powerful than military strength, individual power, or man-made resources. It would take the Spirit’s power (Zechariah 4:6). With the assurance of divine aid, Zerubbabel trusted that God would level any mountain of difficulty that stood in the way of rebuilding the temple and restoring the community (v. 7).

We have two options: rely on our own strength or trust the Spirit’s power.

What do we do when there is a “mountain” before us? We have two options: rely on our own strength or trust the Spirit’s power. When we trust His power, He will either level the mountain or give us the strength and endurance to climb over it.

What challenges stand in your way? How will you trust the power of God's Spirit in your life? Share it on Facebook.com/ourdailybread.

Human power is inadequate to accomplish God’s purposes.

INSIGHT
What keeps us from finishing the work entrusted to us? Eighteen years had passed since Cyrus, king of Persia, told Jewish captives of Babylon to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of their God (Ezra 6:3,14). Now the prophet Zechariah urged completion. This temple, like the Messiah who would someday enter its courts, represented the heart of God for the world. Anything done for His honor—and for the good of others—is done in His Spirit.
  

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 #3462 - 01/20/18 at 08:45:49
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Psalm 121:2 (KJV)
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.


My Help!

For decades the renowned Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has blessed multitudes through their soul-refreshing gospel songs. One example is their recording from Psalm 121 titled “My Help.”

Psalm 121 begins with a personal confession of faith in the Lord who brought all things into existence, and He was the source of the psalmist’s help (vv. 1–2). Just what did this mean? Stability (v. 3), around-the-clock care (vv. 3–4), constant presence and protection (vv. 5–6), and preservation from all kinds of evil for time and eternity (vv. 7–8).

Father, thank You that You are our source of help.

Taking their cues from Scripture, God’s people through the ages have identified the Lord as their source of “help” through their songs. My own worship experience includes lifting my voice with others who sang a soulful rendition of Charles Wesley’s, “Father, I stretch my hands to Thee, no other help I know; if Thou withdraw Thyself from me, ah! whither shall I go.” The great reformer Martin Luther got it right when he penned the words, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”

Do you feel alone, forsaken, abandoned, confused? Ponder the lyrics of Psalm 121. Allow these words to fill your soul with faith and courage. You’re not alone, so don’t try to do life on your own. Rather, rejoice in the earthly and eternal care of God as demonstrated in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. And whatever the next steps, take them with His help.

Father, how grateful we are that Scripture and song remind us that You are our source of help. Help me to not forget that this day.

The Maker of the universe is the helper of God’s people!


INSIGHT
All male Jews were to come to the temple to observe three annual feasts (Deuteronomy 16:16). As the pilgrims made their way up the highlands where Jerusalem is located, they sang from a collection of songs known as the “pilgrim psalms” (Psalms 120–134). The Hebrew title marks these psalms as “songs of ascents.” Psalm 121, the second of the pilgrim psalms, has been called “The Traveler’s Psalm.” The psalmist addresses our need for safety and protection as we journey through life, assuring us that our God will help us and keep us safe. In Psalm 124, David continues this same theme, deliberating the possible disastrous outcomes “if the Lord had not been on our side” (vv. 1–2). Undeniably, if God does not help us, we will not survive! (vv. 3–5). Concluding his deliberations, David assures us that God has not abandoned us. God is our defender and deliverer. With confidence we can say, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (121:2).

How does Psalm 121 help you when you feel threatened by life’s 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 #3463 - 01/21/18 at 09:24:20
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2 Peter 1:4 (KJV)
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.


Promises, Promises

My youngest daughter and I have a game we call “Pinchers.” When she goes up the stairs, I’ll chase her and try to give her a little pinch. The rules are that I can only pinch her (gently, of course!) when she’s on the stairs. Once she’s at the top, she’s safe. Sometimes, though, she’s not in the mood to play. And if I follow her up the stairs, she’ll sternly say, “No pinchers!” I’ll respond, “No pinchers. I promise.”

Now, that promise may seem a little thing. But when I do what I say, my daughter begins to understand something of my character. She experiences my consistency. She knows my word is good, that she can trust me. It’s a little thing, keeping such a promise. But promises—or, keeping them, I should say—are the glue of relationships. They lay a foundation of love and trust.

God’s Word to us reveals His heart toward us.

I think that's what Peter meant when he wrote that God’s promises enable us to “participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). When we take God at His Word, trusting what He says about Himself and about us, we encounter His heart toward us. It gives Him an opportunity to reveal His faithfulness as we rest in what He says is true. I'm thankful Scripture brims with His promises, these concrete reminders that “his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22–23).

Lord, thank You so much for Your “great and precious promises.” Help us to recognize and to rest in what You say is true, that we might fully experience Your tender goodness. 

God’s Word to us reveals His heart toward us.

INSIGHT
By the time we get to Peter’s writings in the New Testament, God’s reputation as a “promise-keeper” is well established. Early we see that the God of the Bible makes promises that match His role as the sovereign, Almighty God. And He delivers what He promises. The roots of this “promise-making,” “promise-keeping” attribute are deep in the soil of Genesis. When the patriarch Abraham was called to relocate to a place he had never seen, he went. Along with words that instructed him to leave what was familiar came promises that the Lord would make of him a great nation, give him a great name, and bless the nations of the world through his offspring (see 12:1–3). That offspring was Christ (see Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 6:11–20) and the promise remains good today for all who embrace Him.

How does knowing God keeps His promises encourage you in your season of life?
  

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 #3464 - 01/22/18 at 05:51:19
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James 1:2 (KJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;


It’s in the Attitude

Regina drove home from work discouraged and tired. The day had started with tragic news in a text message from a friend, then spiraled downward in meetings with co-workers who refused to work with any of her ideas. As Regina was talking to the Lord, she thought it best to put the stress of the day aside and made a surprise visit with flowers to an elderly friend at a care center. Her spirits lifted as Maria shared how good the Lord was to her. She said, "I have my own bed and a chair, three meals a day, and help from the nurses here. And occasionally God sends a cardinal to my window just because He knows I love them and He loves me."

Attitude. Perspective. As the saying goes, “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.” The people James wrote to were scattered because of persecution, and he asked them to consider their perspective about difficulties. He challenged them with these words: “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).

“Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2

We are each on our own journey of learning to trust God with hard circumstances. The kind of joy-filled perspective James talked about comes as we learn to see that God can use struggles to produce maturity in our faith.

Lord, please change my attitude about hard times. Bring about joy, perseverance, and maturity in me.

God can bring times of growth out of our times of heartache.


INSIGHT
When James says, “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position” (1:9), he reflects the paradox of Jesus’s words in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” said Jesus, describing those who are spiritually humble, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

No one wants to suffer, but without testing, there is no perseverance. And without perseverance, there is no spiritual growth and the eternal reward that comes with it.

How might you choose to respond when you find yourself in humble or difficult circumstances?
  

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 #3465 - 01/23/18 at 08:48:53
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1 John 3:18 (KJV)
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.


A “Yes” of Love

On August 21, 2016, Carissa posted photos on social media of a devastating flood in Louisiana. The next morning she included a note from someone in the flooded area pleading for help. Five hours after that, she and her husband, Bobby, sent out a call for others to join them on their 1,000-mile trip to provide help. Less than twenty-four hours later, thirteen people were on their way to serve those whose homes had been severely damaged.

What motivates people to drop everything and drive seventeen hours to move appliances, do demolition work, and provide hope in a place they’ve never been before? It’s love.

We show God’s love when we are willing to help others.

Think about this verse, which she posted along with her call for help: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:5). This is especially true when we follow God’s call to help. The apostle John said, “If anyone . . . sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). It may be a daunting task—but we have God’s promise of help when we “do what pleases him” (v. 22).

When a need arises, we can honor God by being willing to offer a “yes” of love to what we sense He is asking us to do for others.

Lord, please open our eyes to the needs of others, open our hearts to those people, and open our hands so we can provide help in the time of need.

We show God’s love when we are willing to help others; we show His strength when we take on the task He gives us to do.

INSIGHT
Like John in today’s passage, James calls us to action, saying our desire to help others arises out of faith: “What good is it . . . if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14). If we tell those in need, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed” without first meeting their physical needs, what does that accomplish? He urges, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (vv. 15–17). John echoes, “How can the love of God be in that person” who “sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them?” (1 John 3:17). Our loving actions flow out of our faith and the empowering love of God inside us.

How might God be calling you to help someone?
  

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 #3466 - 01/24/18 at 09:30:48
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Psalm 104:1 (KJV)
Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.


God of Life

A few winters ago, my hometown experienced an unusually long blast of bone-chilling temperatures that finally gave way to the warmer weather of spring. For two weeks straight, the outside thermometer dipped well below the sub-zero degree mark (-20 C; -5 F).

On one particularly bitter cold morning, the sound of chirping birds broke the silence of night. Dozens, if not hundreds, sang their hearts out. If I didn’t know any better, I could have sworn the little creatures were crying out to their Creator to please warm things up!

Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. Psalm 104:1

Bird experts tell us that the multitude of birdsongs we hear during late winter mornings are mostly male birds, attempting to attract mates and claim their territories. Their chirping reminded me that God fine-tuned His creation to sustain and flourish life—because He is a God of life.

In a psalm that marvels at God’s flourishing earth, the author begins, “Let all that I am praise the Lord” (Psalm 104:1 nlt). He went on to write, “The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches” (v. 12).

From singing and nesting birds to a vast ocean “teeming with creatures beyond number” (v. 25), we see reasons to praise the Creator for the lengths He’s gone to ensure that all of life thrives.

Thank God for the world He has made. List the parts of His creation that you especially enjoy. Thank Him for them one by one.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
  

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 #3467 - 01/25/18 at 05:33:47
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Romans 8:16 (KJV)
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:


True Hope

Not long ago I visited the Empire State Building with a friend. The line looked short—just down the block and around the corner. Yet as we entered the building, we discovered the line of people stretching through the lobby, up the stairs, and into another room. Every new turn revealed more distance to go.

Attractions and theme parks carefully route their crowds to make the lines seem shorter. Yet disappointment can lurk “just around the bend.”

Abba, Father, thank You that I can always trust in Your perfect, never-ending love.

Sometimes life’s disappointments are much more severe. The job we hoped for doesn’t materialize; friends we counted on let us down; the romantic relationship we longed for fails to work out. But into these heartbreaks, God’s Word speaks a refreshing truth about our hope in Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame [or disappoint us], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).

As we place our trust in Him, through His Spirit, God whispers the truth that we are unconditionally loved and will one day be with Him—regardless of the obstacles we face. In a world that may often disappoint us, how good it is to know that God gives genuine hope.

Abba, Father, thank You that I can always trust in Your perfect, never-ending love.

In Christ, the hopeless find hope.

INSIGHT
Does Paul add insult to injury when he links hope to character? Is he saying it takes being a good person to have hope (Romans 5:3–4)? No. Paul isn’t writing to exalt the virtues of moral or legal compliance. He’s telling a story about what the Spirit of Christ does for us in our sin and in our suffering (Romans 5:6–8; 8:22–27). According to Paul, hope is given to us by the Holy Spirit who personally opens our hearts to the love of God—with the assurance Christ died for us in our moral helplessness.
  

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 #3468 - 01/26/18 at 07:50:38
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Revelation 4:8 (KJV)
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.


Holy, Holy, Holy

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” This cliché has no basis in fact, but experience makes it seem true.

When life is pleasant, time passes all too quickly. Give me a task that I enjoy, or a person whose company I love, and time seems irrelevant.

“ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

My experience of this “reality” has given me a new understanding of the scene described in Revelation 4. In the past, when I considered the four living creatures seated around God’s throne who keep repeating the same few words, I thought, What a boring existence!

I don’t think that anymore. I think about the scenes they have witnessed with their many eyes (v. 8). I consider the view they have from their position around God’s throne (v. 6). I think of how amazed they are at God’s wise and loving involvement with wayward earthlings. Then I think, What better response could there be? What else is there to say but, “Holy, holy, holy”?

Is it boring to say the same words over and over? Not when you’re in the presence of the one you love. Not when you’re doing exactly what you were designed to do.

Like the four creatures, we were designed to glorify God. Our lives will never be boring if we’re focusing our attention on Him and fulfilling that purpose.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!  Reginald Heber


A heart in tune with God can’t help but sing His praise.
  

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 #3469 - 01/27/18 at 05:37:41
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Ecclesiastes 5:2 (KJV)
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.


The Last Word

One day during a university philosophy class, a student made some inflammatory remarks about the professor’s views. To the surprise of the other students, the teacher thanked him and moved on to another comment. When he was asked later why he didn’t respond to the student, he said, “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”

This teacher loved and honored God, and he wanted to embody a humble spirit as he reflected this love. His words remind me of another Teacher—this one from long ago, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Although not addressing how to handle an angry person, he said that when we approach the Lord we should guard our steps and “go near to listen” rather than being quick with our mouths and hasty in our hearts. By doing so we acknowledge that God is the Lord and we are those whom He has created (Ecclesiastes 5:1–2).

Lord, teach me how to pray and how to listen.

How do you approach God? If you sense that your attitude could use some adjustment, why not spend some time considering the majesty and greatness of the Lord? When we ponder His unending wisdom, power, and presence, we can feel awed by His overflowing love for us. With this posture of humility, we too need not have the last word.

Lord God, I want to honor You and I bow before You now in silence. Teach me how to pray and how to listen.

Carefully chosen words honor God.

INSIGHT
The power and significance of our words is a repeated topic in Scripture. Following the admonitions of Proverbs and anticipating the words of Jesus and James (see Proverbs 10:13, 32; 12:16–17; 13:3; 16:1; Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45; James 3:3–12), the writer of Ecclesiastes warns about controlling our tongues.

Why do we need to watch what we say? Because our words are a recognition of who we are in relationship to God. When the writer warns, “God is in heaven and you are on earth” (Ecclesiastes 5:2), he is saying that humility is the proper attitude toward our words because we do not know everything. Being “quick with your mouth” (v. 2) may lead us to say things that are untrue and make plans based on wrong information.

How does knowing that God—the Creator of the universe—is in heaven and we are on earth help you to humbly choose your words?
  

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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