ODB: Alert Circles

November 14, 2019

READ: Hebrews 10:19–25 

Encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

African gazelles instinctively form “alert circles” while resting on the savannah. They gather in groups with each animal facing outward in a slightly different direction. This enables them to scan the horizon a full 360 degrees and to communicate about approaching dangers or opportunities.

Instead of looking out only for themselves, the members of the group take care of one another. This is also God’s wisdom for followers of Jesus. The Bible encourages us, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:24–25).

Christians were never intended to go it alone, explains the writer of Hebrews. Together we are stronger. We’re able to “[encourage] one another” (v. 25), to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4), and to help each other stay alert to the efforts of our enemy the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

The goal of our care for each other is so much more than survival. It’s to make us like Jesus: loving and effective servants of God in this world—people who together look forward confidently to the hope of His coming kingdom. All of us need encouragement, and God will help us help each other as together we draw near to Him in love.

— Джеймс Бэнкс

How do you receive strength and help from other believers? Who can you encourage with God’s love?

Thank You for Your faithfulness, loving God. Please help me to encourage others to look forward to You today!

Source: Our Daily Bread

ODB: True Friends

November 13, 2019

READ: 1 Samuel 18:1–4; 19:1–6 

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17

In high school, I had a “sometimes friend.” We were “buddies” at our church, and we occasionally hung out together outside of school. But at school, it was a different story. If she met me by herself, she might say hello; but only if no one else was around. Realizing this, I rarely tried to gain her attention within school walls. I knew the limits of our friendship.

We’ve probably all experienced the pain of disappointingly one-sided or narrow friendships. But there’s another kind of friendship—one that extends beyond all boundaries. It’s the kind of friendship we have with kindred spirits who are committed to sharing life’s journey with us.

David and Jonathan were such friends. Jonathan was “one in spirit” with David and loved him “as himself” (1 Samuel 18:1–3). Although Jonathan would have been next in line to rule after his father Saul’s death, he was loyal to David, God’s chosen replacement. Jonathan even helped David to evade two of Saul’s plots to kill him (19:1–6; 20:1–42).

Despite all odds, Jonathan and David remained friends—pointing to the truth of Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times.” Their faithful friendship also gives us a glimpse of the loving relationship God has with us (John 3:16; 15:15). Through friendships like theirs, our understanding of God’s love is deepened. 

— Alyson Kieda

Who do you consider a true friend? Why? How is it comforting to know that God is our truest friend?

Heavenly Father, we long for friends. Please open up doors to true, lasting, and God-centered friendships.

Source: Our Daily Bread

ODB: Our Blessings, His Love

November 12, 2019

READ: Psalm 136:1–3, 10–26 

To him who led his people through the wilderness; His love endures forever. Psalm 136:16

In 2015, a woman discarded her deceased husband’s computer at a recycling center—a computer that had been made in 1976. But more important than when it had been made was who made it. It was one of 200 computers hand built by Apple founder Steve Jobs, and was worth an estimated quarter of a million dollars! Sometimes knowing the true worth of something means knowing who made it.

Knowing that it’s God who made us shows us how valuable we are to Him (Genesis 1:27). Psalm 136 catalogs key moments of His people—ancient Israel: how they had been freed from captivity in Egypt (vv. 11–12), journeyed through the wilderness (v. 16), and were given a new home in Canaan (vv. 21–22). But each time a moment of Israel’s history is mentioned, it’s paired with this repeated refrain: “His love endures forever.” This refrain reminded the people of Israel that their experiences weren’t random historical events. Each moment had been orchestrated by God and was a reflection of His enduring love for those He’d made.

Far too often, I allow moments that show God at work and His kind ways to simply pass by, failing to recognize that every perfect gift comes from my heavenly Father (James 1:17) who made me and loves me. May you and I learn to connect every blessing in our lives to God’s enduring love for us.

— Peter Chin

How can we better remember the Source of life’s blessings? What hinders you from doing so?

Heavenly Father, please don’t allow even one blessing that You’ve given pass by without me recognizing that it came from You, and You alone!

Source: Our Daily Bread

ODB: It’s Up to God

November 11, 2019

READ: Matthew 6:5–15 

Your will be done. Matthew 6:10

Nate and Sherilyn enjoyed their stop at an omakase restaurant while visiting New York City. Omakase is a Japanese word that translates, “I will leave it up to you,” which means customers at such restaurants let the chef choose their meal. Even though it was their first time to try this type of cuisine and it sounded risky, they loved the food the chef chose and prepared for them.

That idea could carry over to our attitude toward God with our prayer requests: “I will leave it up to You.” The disciples saw that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places” to pray (Luke 5:16), so they asked Him one day to teach them how to pray. He told them to ask for their daily needs, forgiveness, and the way out of temptation. Part of His response also suggested an attitude of surrender: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

We can pour out our needs to God because He wants to hear what’s on our hearts—and He delights to give. But being human and finite, we don’t always know what’s best, so it only makes sense to ask with a humble spirit, in submission to Him. We can leave the answer to Him, confident that He’s trustworthy and will choose to prepare what’s good for us. 

— Anne Cetas

What do you want to share with God right now? What would it look like if you totally surrendered it to Him?

Thank You, God, for carrying me and my needs close to Your heart. I surrender my life and those I love to Your care.

Source: Our Daily Bread