The Ramblings of a Mad Man

Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread: When Fear Creeps In

Les Lanborn reading When Fear Creeps In

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in [God]. —Psalm 56:3

When my daughter exclaimed, “Mommy, a bug!” I looked where she was pointing and saw the largest spider I have ever encountered outside of a pet shop. Both the spider and I knew that he would not be allowed to stay in our house. And yet, as I faced him, I found I could not take one step closer to end the standoff. My pulse quickened. I swallowed and gave myself a pep-talk. Still, fear kept me frozen in place.

Fear is powerful; it can override logical thinking and produce irrational behavior. Thankfully, Christians don’t have to let fear of anything—people, situations, or even spiders—rule our actions. We can declare, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in [God]” (Ps. 56:3).

Taking this stand against fear is consistent with the Bible’s instruction to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Our own understanding may lead us to overestimate the object of our fear and underestimate God’s power. When we are afraid, we can depend on God’s understanding (Isa. 40:28) and trust in His love for us that “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). The next time fear creeps into your life, don’t panic. God can be trusted in the darkness. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Into His hands I lay the fears that haunt me,
The dread of future ills that may befall;
Into His hands I lay the doubts that taunt me,
And rest securely, trusting Him for all. —Christiansen

Trusting God’s faithfulness dispels our fearfulness.

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Give Thanks

READ: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1 Thessalonians 5:18
In Lansing, Michigan, during the winter, we don’t get many sunny days. But last year God blessed us with one of those beautiful days, and it seemed that almost everyone was thanking God, except me. As I left my office, a man said, “What a wonderful day we’re having. This is a gift from God!” To which I replied, “Yes, but we’re getting snow later this week.” What ingratitude!

In his letters, the apostle Paul helped his readers to develop a theology of gratitude. He wrote about thanksgiving more often than any other New Testament author. From the 23 times he used the word, we learn a few lessons about thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was always directed toward God and never toward people. People were gifts from God, and Paul thanked God for their growth, love, and faith (1 Cor. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:2).

Thanksgiving is given through Jesus for everything (Col. 3:15,17). Paul believed followers of Jesus could be thankful for everything because God is sovereign, and He is working things out for the believers’ good (1 Thess. 5:18).

May we intentionally be aware of God’s gifts all around us, and respond with gratitude. In response to God’s gifts, it’s natural to say, “Thank You, Lord.” —Marvin Williams

Lord, for days that are sunny or gray we simply
want to say, Thank You! And for the daily grace
You give us in Your Son, may we always be faithful
to say, Thank You! You are so good to us.

Gratitude is a natural response to God’s grace


Our Daily Bread – Words In Space

Our Daily Bread: Words in Space

READ: Ephesians 3:8-13

In [Christ] we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. —Ephesians 3:12

True confession: When I found out that astronaut Rex Walheim would be taking a copy of Our Daily Bread with him into space for the last mission of the shuttle Atlantis, I looked ahead to find out which devotionals I had written that he would be reading. The idea of having my words read in outer space seemed, well, pretty amazing for this small-town kid.

No sooner had I satisfied my curiosity, however, than I had another thought. Why do I consider this such a big deal? My words are heard in heavenly places whenever I pray. What has happened to me that I take for granted the concept that the God who created the universe listens to my words? In Christ, I can approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12). Why be more awestruck at having a human read what I have written than having Almighty God hear what I pray?

If that idea isn’t enough to rouse me from complacency, there’s this: The Lord is using the church to make known His wisdom to the “principalities and powers in the heavenly places” (v.10). Imagine. God not only hears our prayers, but He uses us earthlings to teach heavenly beings the plan of redemption He has accomplished through Christ. Now that’s a big deal! —Julie Ackerman Link

God is waiting in the silence—
Oh, to know that He is near!
Earth recedes and heaven opens,
God is waiting, God is here. —O. Smith

God is always available to hear the prayer of His child


Our Daily Bread: Correct Them

Our Daily Bread: Correct Them

READ: 1 Samuel 2:12,27-36

Why do you . . . honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people? —1 Samuel 2:29

Therapist and mother Lori Gottlieb says that parents who are obsessed with their children’s happiness may actually contribute to their becoming unhappy adults. These parents coddle their children, do not equip them to deal with the real world, look the other way when their children do wrong, and neglect disciplining them.

In 1 Samuel, we read that the high priest Eli sometimes looked the other way. We don’t know what he was like as a father when his boys were young. But he failed to properly deal with their behavior as grown men serving in God’s temple. They were selfish, lustful, and rebellious, putting their own needs ahead of God’s Word and the needs of the people. At first, Eli rebuked them but they would not listen. Instead of removing them from service, he looked the other way and let them continue in their sin. As a result of his sons’ sins and because Eli honored his sons above the Lord (1 Sam. 2:29), the Lord warned Eli that his family would suffer judgment (v.34; 4:17-18).

As Christian parents, we have the awesome responsibility to lovingly discipline our children (Prov. 13:24; 29:17; Heb. 12:9-11). As we impart God’s wisdom to them, we have the blessing of helping them develop into responsible, God-fearing adults. —Marvin Williams

They are buds of hope and promise,
Possessed by Him whose name is Love;
Lent us here to train and nourish
For a better life above. —Crosby

Failure to discipline our children is a failure to love them.


Our Daily Bread: What We Need

Our Daily Bread: What We Need

READ: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. —2 Corinthians 1:3

The heartbreaking stories keep coming. The friend whose grown daughter has left her husband and kids. The dads I recently met who lost their teen sons in car accidents. The pillar of the church whose retirement years have been marked by a string of bad medical news. You know the stories. You may have your own.

Where do we go for help when struggles and pain threaten to shake our faith and steal our last ounce of joy?

Second Corinthians 1:3 may be just the right destination. It is full of hope, help, and possibilities.

Examine what that verse tells us: Paul lifts praise to God on two levels (and remember, Paul had more struggles and trouble than most of us could stand). First, he simply sends praise to God, who is not just our God but the God and Father of Jesus Himself. Think about the power and the love behind that!

Then he gives us even better news: Our heavenly Father is the God of mercy and compassion. He cares for us with an everlasting, gracious love. And there’s more—He is also the God of all comfort.

Need compassion? Need comfort? Go to God. He has an endless supply and is ready to pour it out on you in abundance. He is what we need in times of trouble! —Dave Branon

I must have the Savior with me,
For my faith at best is weak;
He will whisper words of comfort,
That no other voice can speak. —Anon.

God’s whisper of comfort helps quiet the noise of our trials.


Our Daily Bread: Family Togetherness

ODB: Family Togetherness

READ: Ephesians 4:1-16

Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. —Ephesians 4:3

My husband, children, and I have a fun family tradition. It happens when we are at home and someone calls out “family hug!” We usually rendezvous in the kitchen; I hug the kids and my husband wraps his arms around all of us. It’s our way of expressing love and enjoying a brief moment of family togetherness.

Although we enjoy an occasional group hug, it’s not always easy to maintain that sense of unity. After all, each person in our family is unique. We have different needs, abilities, and viewpoints—much like the family of God (Eph. 4:11-12).

Despite inevitable differences with other believers, Paul calls us to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v.3). Harmony with other Christians is important because it reflects the unity between Jesus and His heavenly Father. Jesus prayed this for believers: “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You” (John 17:21).

When problems arise within the family of God, the Bible says we are to respond “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). This is the way to experience family togetherness with people who share the fundamentals of our faith. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

I pray, O Lord, reveal to me
If I have caused disunity,
For You would have Your children one
In praise and love for Your dear Son. —Branon

Our hearts are linked through the love of Christ.


Our Daily Bread: Flying Solo

Our Daily Bread: Flying Solo

READ: John 14:15-27

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? —1 Corinthians 3:16

May 20-21, 1927, marked a turning point in aviation history as Charles Lindbergh made the first-ever solo, nonstop, trans-Atlantic flight. There had been other flights across the Atlantic, but none were accomplished by a pilot flying alone. It was a historic achievement. When Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris, he was thronged by thousands of admirers applauding his success. And when he returned to America, he was further honored with parades and awards in celebration of his individualistic courage and spirit.

Even though Lindbergh’s solo flight was dangerous, living in this fallen world of ours can be far more so. Followers of Christ, however, can be encouraged and comforted that we never have to “fly solo.” The night before His crucifixion, Jesus promised that He would not abandon us but would send His Spirit to be with us and in us (John 14:16-17). The apostle Paul later affirmed this, saying, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

In a world filled with despair and trouble, we can take courage. The Holy Spirit lives within us, providing us with His peace and comfort (John 14:26-27). Aren’t you thankful that you never have to fly solo? —Bill Crowder

Father, allow me today to rest in You, to walk with Your Son, and to lean on Your Spirit. Thank You for Your never-failing presence, helping me in all the challenges of life. Amen.

The Spirit within us guarantees that we’re never alone.