ODB: A Hidden Ministry

November 21, 2018

READ: 2 Corinthians 1:8–11 

On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. 2 Corinthians 1:10–11

A big academic project was weighing on me, and I was fretting over whether I could complete it by the deadline. In the midst of my anxious thoughts, I received three notes of encouragement from friends who were cheering me on. Each one said, “God brought you to mind today when I was praying.” I felt humbled and encouraged that these friends would contact me without knowing what I was going through, and I believed God had used them as His messengers of love.

The apostle Paul knew the power of prayer when he wrote to the people in the church of Corinth. He said he trusted that God would continue to deliver them from peril “as you help us by your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10–11). And when God answered their prayers, He would be glorified as the people gave Him thanks for the “answer to the prayers of many” (v. 11).

My friends and Paul’s supporters were engaging in the ministry of intercession, which Oswald Chambers calls “a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit through which the Father is glorified.” As we focus our minds and hearts on Jesus, we find Him shaping us, including how we pray. He enables us to give the gift of true intercession to friends, family members, and even strangers.

Has God put someone on your heart and mind for whom you can pray?

— Amy Boucher Pye

God hears the prayers of His people.

Source: Our Daily Bread

ODB: On the Wrong Side?

November 20, 2018

READ: Philippians 1:12–18  

What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. Philippians 1:12

When the bridge to Techiman, Ghana, washed out, residents of New Krobo on the other side of the Tano River were stranded. Attendance at Pastor Samuel Appiah’s church in Techiman suffered too because many of the members lived in New Krobo—on the “wrong” side of the river.

Amid the crisis, Pastor Sam was trying to expand the church’s children’s home to care for more orphans. So he prayed. Then his church sponsored outdoor meetings across the river in New Krobo. Soon they were baptizing new believers in Jesus. A new church took root. Not only that, New Krobo had space to care for the orphans awaiting housing. God was weaving His restorative work into the crisis.

When the apostle Paul found himself on the “wrong” side of freedom, he didn’t lament his situation. In a powerful letter to the church in Philippi, he wrote, “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). Paul noted how his chains had led to “the whole palace guard” learning about Christ (v. 13). And others had gained confidence to share the good news of Jesus (v. 14).

Despite obstacles, Pastor Sam and the apostle Paul found God showing them new ways to work in their crises. What might God be doing in our challenging circumstances today?

— Tim Gustafson

Lord, sometimes we feel as though we’re on the wrong side of a particular situation. We know You are everywhere. Help us see You.

God is at work in the mess. That’s the message of the Bible. Matt Chandler

Source: Our Daily Bread

ODB: Hard Conversations

November 19, 2018

READ: 1 Samuel 25:21–35 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

I once drove fifty miles to have a hard conversation with a remote staff person. I had received a report from another employee that suggested he was misrepresenting our company, and I was concerned for our reputation. I felt nudged to offer an opinion that might change his choices.

In 1 Samuel 25, an unlikely person took great personal risk to confront a future king of Israel who was about to make a disastrous choice. Abigail was married to Nabal, whose character matched the meaning of his name (“fool”) (vv. 3, 25). Nabal had refused to pay David and his troops the customary wage for protecting his livestock (vv. 10–11). Hearing that David planned a murderous revenge on her household, and knowing her foolish husband wouldn’t listen to reason, Abigail prepared a peace offering, rode to meet David, and persuaded him to reconsider (vv. 18–31).

How did Abigail accomplish this? After sending ahead donkeys loaded with food to satisfy David and his men and settle the debt, she spoke truth to David. She wisely reminded David of God’s call on his life. If he resisted his desire for revenge, when God made him king, he wouldn’t “have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed” (v. 31).

You might also know someone dangerously close to a mistake that could harm others and compromise their own future effectiveness for God. Like Abigail, might God be calling you to a hard conversation?  

— Elisa Morgan

Sometimes following God means difficult conversations.

Source: Our Daily Bread

ODB: Don’t Stop Building!

November 18, 2018

READ: Ezra 5:1–5 

The eye of their God was watching over [them] . . . and they were not stopped. Ezra 5:5

When an opportunity came to take on a new role at work, Simon believed it was a godsend. After praying over the decision and seeking counsel, he felt that God was giving him this opportunity to take on bigger responsibilities. Everything fell into place, and his boss supported his move. Then things began to go wrong. Some colleagues resented his promotion and refused to cooperate. He began to wonder if he should give up.

When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem to build the house of God, enemies sought to frighten and discourage them (Ezra 4:4). The Israelites stopped at first, but continued after God encouraged them through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (4:24–5:2).

Once again, enemies came to hassle them. But this time they persevered, knowing “the eye of their God was watching over [them]” (5:5). They held on firmly to God’s instructions and trusted Him to carry them through whatever opposition they’d face. Sure enough, God moved the Persian king to support the temple’s completion (vv. 13–14).

Similarly, Simon sought God’s wisdom to discern whether he should stay or find a new position. Sensing God calling him to remain, he relied on God’s strength to persevere. Over time, he slowly gained his colleagues’ acceptance.

As we seek to follow God, wherever He places us, we may face opposition along the way. That’s when we need to keep following Him. He will guide us and carry us through.

— Leslie Koh

Remain strong, for God’s eye is on you.

Source: Our Daily Bread