Official account for the Our Daily Bread daily devotional. Helping you draw closer to God and be in His word each day.
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Daily Devotion: Where Are You Headed?
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 49–50; Matthew 13:31–58
Today's Bible Reading: Psalm 121
Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD. Psalm 121:1–2
What determines our direction in life? I once heard an answer to that question in a surprising place: a motorcycle training course. Some friends and I wanted to ride, so we took a class to learn how. Part of our training dealt with something called target fixation.
“Eventually,” our instructor said, “you’re going to face an unexpected obstacle. If you stare at it—if you target fixate—you’ll steer right into it. But if you look above and past it to where you need to go, you can usually avoid it.” Then he added, “Where you’re looking is the direction you’re going to go.”
That simple-but-profound principle applies to our spiritual lives too. When we “target fixate”—focusing on our problems or struggles—we almost automatically orient our lives around them.
However, Scripture encourages us to look past our problems to the One who can help us with them. In Psalm 121:1, we read, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?” The psalm then answers: “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. . . . The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (vv. 2, 8).
Sometimes our obstacles can seem insurmountable. But God invites us to look to Him to help us see beyond our troubles instead of letting them dominate our perspective.
Father, help me not to “target fixate,” but to look to You whenever I face fearful obstacles as I seek to follow You along life’s road.
Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 124:8
Daily Devotion: The Beauty of Love
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 46–48; Matthew 13:1–30
Today's Bible Reading: Proverbs 5
May your fountain be blessed. Proverbs 5:18
The “Jarabe Tapatío,” also known as the Mexican hat dance, celebrates romance. During this upbeat dance, the man places his sombrero on the ground. At the very end, the woman grabs the hat and both hide behind it to seal their romance with a kiss.
This dance reminds me of the importance of faithfulness in marriage. In Proverbs 5, after talking about the high cost of immorality, we read that marriage is exclusive. “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well” (v. 15). Even with ten couples dancing the Jarabe on stage, each person focuses on his or her partner. We can rejoice in a deep and undivided commitment to our spouse (v. 18).
Our romance is also being observed. The dancers, while they are enjoying their partner, know someone is watching. In the same way, we read, “For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths” (v. 21). God wants to protect our marriages, so He’s constantly watching us. May we please Him through the loyalty we show to each other.
Just like in the Jarabe there is a rhythm to follow in life. When we keep the beat of our Creator by being faithful to Him—whether we are married or unmarried—we find blessings and joy.
Dear Lord, You know all my ways. Help me to honor You in my relationships with others.
Faithfulness brings joy.
Daily Devotion: Worshiping with Questions
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 43–45; Matthew 12:24–50
Today's Bible Reading: Psalm 13
I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. Psalm 13:5
It’s not uncommon during a long (or short!) trip for someone in a group of travelers to ask, “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” Who hasn’t heard these universal queries coming from the lips of children and adults eager to arrive at their destination? But people of all ages are also prone to ask similar questions when wearied because of life challenges that never seem to cease.
Such was the case with David in Psalm 13. Four times in two verses (vv. 1–2), David—who felt forgotten, forsaken, and defeated—lamented “How long?” In verse two, he asks, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?” Psalms that include lament, like this one, implicitly give us permission to worshipfully come to the Lord with questions of our own. After all, what better person to talk to during prolonged times of stress and strain than God? We can bring our struggles with illness, grief, the waywardness of a loved one, and relational difficulties to Him.
Worship need not stop when we have questions. The sovereign God of heaven welcomes us to bring our worry-filled questions to Him. And perhaps, like David, in due time our questions will be transformed into petitions and expressions of trust and praise to the Lord (vv. 3–6).
Lord, thank You that I don’t have to stop worshiping when I have questions; I can worship You with my questions.
Bring your questions to God.
Daily Devotion: What Can’t You Give Up?
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 41–42; Matthew 12:1–23
Today's Bible Reading: Hosea 11:8–11
[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:39
“What’s one thing you can’t give up?” the radio host asked. Listeners called in with some interesting answers. Some mentioned their families, including a husband who shared memories of a deceased wife. Others shared they can’t give up on their dreams, such as making a living in music or becoming a mother. All of us have something we treasure dearly—a person, a passion, a possession—something we can’t give up.
In the book of Hosea, God tells us that He won’t give up on His chosen people Israel, His treasured possession. As Israel’s loving husband, God provided her with everything she needed: land, food, drink, clothing, and security. Yet like an adulterous spouse, Israel rejected God and sought her happiness and security elsewhere. The more God pursued her, the further she drifted away (Hosea 11:2). However, though she had hurt Him deeply, He would not give her up (v. 8). He would discipline Israel so as to redeem her; His desire was to re-establish His relationship with her (v. 11).
Today, all God’s children can have the same assurance: His love for us is a love that will never let us go (Romans 8:37–39). If we’ve wandered from Him, He yearns for us to return. When God disciplines us, we can be comforted that it’s a sign of His pursuit, not of His rejection. We are His treasure; He won’t give up on us.
—POH FANG CHIA
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that never gives up on me. Help me to love You wholeheartedly.
A child of God is always welcomed home.
Daily Devotion: A Song in the Night
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 36–38; Matthew 10:21–42
Today's Bible Reading: Psalm 42:1–11
If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25
My father’s life was one of longing. He longed for wholeness, even as Parkinson’s disease gradually crippled more and more of his mind and body. He longed for peace, but was tormented by the deep pain of depression. He longed to feel loved and cherished, but often felt utterly alone.
He found himself less alone when he read the words of Psalm 42, his favorite psalm. Like him, the psalmist knew a desperate longing, an unquenched thirst for healing (vv. 1–2). Like him, the psalmist knew a sadness that felt like it never went away (v. 3), leaving times of pure joy merely a distant memory (v. 6). Like my dad, as consuming waves of chaos and pain swept over him (v. 7), the psalmist felt abandoned by God and asked, “Why?” (v. 9).
And as the words of the psalm washed over him, assuring him he was not alone, my father felt the beginnings of a quiet peace enter in alongside his pain. He heard a tender voice surrounding him, a voice assuring him that even though he had no answers, even though the waves still crashed over him, still he was dearly loved (v. 8).
And somehow hearing that quiet song of love in the night was enough. Enough for my dad to quietly cling to glimmers of hope, love, and joy. And enough for him to wait patiently for the day when all his longings would finally be satisfied (vv. 5, 11).
Lord, we know that You have carried all our suffering and will one day turn it around into resurrection life. Still, there is so much healing that we wait and long for. As we wait for that morning, help us to rest in Your song of love in the night.
While we wait for the morning, we can rest in God’s song of love in the night.
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Daily Devotion: Hope’s Sure Foundation
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 33–35; Matthew 10:1–20
Today's Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:1–6
My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Lessons on faith can come from unexpected places—like the one I learned from my 110-pound, black Labrador retriever, “Bear.” Bear’s large metal water bowl was located in a corner of the kitchen. Whenever it was empty, he wouldn’t bark or paw at it. Instead, he would lie down quietly beside it and wait. Sometimes he would have to wait several minutes, but Bear had learned to trust that I would eventually walk into the room, see him there, and provide what he needed. His simple faith in me reminded me of my need to place more trust in God.
The Bible tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). The foundation of this confidence and assurance is God Himself, who “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (v. 6). God is faithful to keep His promises to all who believe and come to Him through Jesus.
Sometimes having faith in “what we do not see” isn’t easy. But we can rest in God’s goodness and His loving character, trusting that His wisdom is perfect in all things—even when we have to wait. He is always faithful to do what He says: to save our eternal souls and meet our deepest needs, now and forever.
Almighty Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to always take care of me. Help me to trust You and to rest in Your perfect love today.
Don’t worry about tomorrow—God is already there.
Daily Devotion: Plight of the Crawdads
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 31–32; Matthew 9:18–38
Today's Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:11–18
Always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
When my cousin invited me to join him to fish for crawdads (crayfish), I couldn’t help but be excited. I grinned when he handed me a plastic pail. “No lid?”
“You won’t need one,” he said, picking up the fishing rods and the small bag of chicken chunks we’d use for bait.
Later, as I watched the small crustaceans climbing over one another in a futile attempt to escape the almost-full bucket, I realized why we wouldn’t need a lid. Whenever one crawdad reached the rim, the others would pull it back down.
The plight of the crawdads reminds me how destructive it is to be selfishly concerned about our own gain instead of the benefit of a whole community. Paul understood the need for uplifting, interdependent relationships when he wrote to the believers in Thessalonica. He urged them to “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak,” and “be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Commending their caring community (v. 11), Paul spurred them toward even more loving and peaceful relationships (vv. 13–15). By striving to create a culture of forgiveness, kindness, and compassion, their relationships with God and others would be strengthened (vv. 15, 23).
The church can grow and witness for Christ through this kind of loving unity. When believers honor God, committing to lift others up instead of pulling them down with words or actions, we and our communities thrive.
How will you build up others in your community? What care and compassion have you received from believers in Jesus?
Daily Devotion: Jesus Is Right Behind You
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 29–30; Matthew 9:1–17
Today's Bible Reading: Matthew 25:37–40
Whatever you did for one of the least of these . . . you did for me. Matthew 25:40
My daughter was ready for school a little earlier than usual, so she asked if we could stop by the coffee shop on our way. I agreed. As we approached the drive-thru lane, I said, “Do you feel like spreading some joy this morning?” She said, “Sure.”
We placed our order, then pulled up to the window where the barista told us what we owed. I said, “We’d like to pay for the young woman’s order behind us too.” My daughter had a huge smile on her face.
In the grand scheme of things, a cup of coffee may not seem like a big deal. Or is it? I wonder, could this be one way we carry out Jesus’s desire for us to care for those He called “the least of these”? (Matthew 25:40). Here’s a thought: How about simply considering the person behind us or next in line a worthy candidate? And then do “whatever”—maybe it’s a cup of coffee, maybe it’s something more, maybe something less. But when Jesus said “whatever you did” (v. 40) that gives us a great deal of freedom in serving Him while serving others.
As we drove away we caught the faces of the young woman behind us and the barista as she handed over the coffee. They were both grinning from ear to ear.
Lord, help me not to overthink serving others. Sometimes the small, simple things mean more than I’ll ever know. And help me to remember that whatever I do for others, I’m doing for You.
We serve Christ when we serve people.
Daily Devotion: Infinite Dimensions
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 27–28; Matthew 8:18–34
Today's Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:16–21
I pray that you . . . [will] grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:17–18
I lay still on the vinyl-covered mat and held my breath on command as the machine whirred and clicked. I knew lots of folks had endured MRIs, but for claustrophobic me, the experience required focused concentration on something—Someone—much bigger than myself.
In my mind, a phrase from Scripture—“how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18)—moved in rhythm with the machine’s hum. In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church, he described four dimensions to God’s love in order to stress the unending parameters of His love and presence.
My position while lying down for the MRI provided a new image for my understanding. Wide: the six inches on either side of where my arms were tightly pinned to my body within the tube. Long: the distance between the cylinder’s two openings, extending out from my head and feet. High: the six inches from my nose up to the “ceiling” of the tube. Deep: the support of the tube anchored to the floor beneath me, holding me up. Four dimensions illustrating God’s presence surrounding and holding me in the MRI tube—and in every circumstance of life.
God’s love is ALL around us. Wide: He extends His arms to reach all people everywhere. Long: His love never ends. High: He lifts us up. Deep: He dips down, holding us in all situations. Nothing can separate us from Him! (Romans 8:38–39).
What situations cause you to question God’s love? How will you choose to trust Him?
Dear God, help us pause to ponder Your multidimensional love for us!
Daily Devotion: Our Welcoming God
The Bible in One Year: Genesis 25–26; Matthew 8:1–17
Today's Bible Reading: Acts 10:34–38
God does not show favoritism. Acts 10:34
Our church meets in an old elementary school, one that closed in 1958 rather than obey a US court order to integrate (the act of having African-American students attend schools previously attended by only Caucasian students). The following year, the school reopened and Elva, now a member of our church, was one of those black students who were thrust into a white world. “I was taken out of my safe community, with teachers who were part of our life,” Elva recalls, “and placed in a scary environment in a class with only one other black student.” Elva suffered because she was different, but she became a woman of courage, faith, and forgiveness.
Her witness is profound because of how much evil she endured at the hands of some members of a society that denied the truth that every human being, regardless of race or heritage, is loved by God. Some members of the early church struggled with this same truth, believing that certain people were, by birth, loved by God while others were rejected. After receiving a divine vision, however, Peter stunned everyone who would listen with this astounding revelation: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34–35).
God opens His arms wide to extend love to everyone. May we do the same in His power.
Consider your neighborhood, your family, and your social sphere. Where do you find a temptation to exclude others? Why?
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We’re tempted to push others away, but God’s arms are open wide.
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