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ODB: Not One Sparrow

May 28, 2017


Death is the last shadow before heaven’s dawn.

 

READ: Matthew 10:28–33 

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15

 

My mother, so dignified and proper her entire life, now lay in a hospice bed, held captive by debilitating age. Struggling for breath, her declining condition contradicted the gorgeous spring day that danced invitingly on the other side of the windowpane.

All the emotional preparation in the world cannot sufficiently brace us for the stark reality of goodbye. Death is such an indignity! I thought.

I diverted my gaze to the birdfeeder outside the window. A grosbeak flitted close to help itself to some seed. Instantly a familiar phrase popped into my mind: “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matt. 10:29 nlt). Jesus had said that to His disciples as He gave them marching orders for a mission to Judea, but the principle applies to all of us. “You are worth more than many sparrows,” He told them (v. 31).

My mom stirred and opened her eyes. Reaching back to her childhood, she used a Dutch term of endearment for her own mother and declared, “Muti’s dead!”

“Yes,” my wife agreed. “She’s with Jesus now.” Uncertain, Mom continued. “And Joyce and Jim?” she questioned of her sister and brother. “Yes, they’re with Jesus too,” said my wife. “But we’ll be with them soon!” 

“It’s hard to wait,” Mom said quietly. 

— Tim Gustafson

Heavenly Father, this life can be so hard and painful. But You! . . . You are right there with us, loving us, keeping us, holding us! And You promise never to leave us or forsake us.

Source: Our Daily Bread

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ODB: Dysfunctional

May 27, 2017


Drawing close to Christ helps us to live as He designed us.

 

READ: Romans 3:10–26 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

 

The word dysfunctional is often used to describe individuals, families, relationships, organizations, and even governments. While functional means it’s in proper working order, dysfunctional is the opposite—it’s broken, not working properly, unable to do what it was designed to do.

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul begins by describing a spiritually dysfunctional humanity (1:18–32). We are all part of that rebellious company: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. . . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:12, 23).

The good news is that “all are justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus . . . to be received by faith” (vv. 24–25). When we invite Christ into our lives and accept God’s offer of forgiveness and new life, we are on the path to becoming the person He created us to be. We don’t immediately become perfect, but we no longer have to remain broken and dysfunctional.

Through the Holy Spirit we receive daily strength to honor God in what we say and do and to “put off [our] old self . . . to be made new in the attitude of [our] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22–24).

— David McCasland

Lord, in our dysfunctional lives we turn to You for restoration and strength. Thank You for Your amazing grace and love!

Source: Our Daily Bread

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ODB: Navigating Rough Waters

May 26, 2017


God guides us through the rapids of change.

 

READ: 1 Chronicles 28:9–20 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. 1 Chronicles 28:20

 

I was enjoying the start of my first whitewater rafting experience—until I heard the roar of the rapids up ahead. My emotions were flooded with feelings of uncertainty, fear, and insecurity at the same time. Riding through the whitewater was a first-rate, white-knuckle experience! And then, suddenly, it was over. The guide in the back of the raft had navigated us through. I was safe—at least until the next set of rapids. 

Transitions in our lives can be like whitewater experiences. The inevitable leaps from one season of life to the next—college to career, changing jobs, living with parents to living alone or with a spouse, career to retirement, youth to old age—are all marked by uncertainty and insecurity. 

In one of the most significant transitions recorded in Old Testament history, Solomon assumed the throne from his father David. I’m sure he was filled with uncertainty about the future. His father’s advice? “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. . . . For the Lord God, my God, is with you” (1 Chron. 28:20). 

We’ll have our fair share of tough transitions in life. But with God in our raft we’re not alone. Keeping our eyes on the One who is navigating the rapids brings joy and security. He’s taken lots of others through before.

— Joe Stowell

Source: Our Daily Bread

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ODB: The Remedy for Jealousy

May 25, 2017


The remedy for jealousy is thankfulness to God.

 

READ: 1 Samuel 18:5–15 

So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.  1 Samuel 18:9 nlt

 

I gladly agreed to babysit my grandkids while their parents went out for the evening. After hugs, I asked the boys what they did over the weekend. (Both had separate adventures.) Bridger, age three, recounted breathlessly how he got to stay overnight with his aunt and uncle—and he had ice cream and rode a carousel and watched a movie! Next it was five-year-old Samuel’s turn. When asked what he did, he said, “Camping.” “Did you have fun?” I asked. “Not so much,” he answered forlornly.

Samuel experienced the age-old feeling of jealousy. He forgot how much fun he had camping with his dad when he heard his brother excitedly tell about his weekend.

All of us can fall prey to jealousy. King Saul gave in to the green-eyed monster of jealousy when the praise David received exceeded his: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Sam. 18:7 nlt). Saul was outraged and “from that time on . . . kept a jealous eye on David” (v. 9 nlt). He was so incensed he tried to kill David!

The comparison game is foolish and self-destructive. Someone will always have something we don’t or enjoy experiences different from ours. But God has already given us many blessings, including both life on this earth and the promise of eternal life to all who believe. Depending on His help and focusing on Him in thankfulness can help us to overcome jealousy.

— Alyson Kieda

Lord, You have given us life and the promise of life eternal if we trust in You as our Savior. For that—and so many other blessings—we give You praise!

Source: Our Daily Bread