The Presentation

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

He has reconciled . . . to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
Colossians 1:21-22

My wife, Martie, is a great cook. After a long day I often look forward to the smell of spicy aromas that promise a tasty feast. Not only does she know how to prepare a meal, but she is also a master at the presentation. The colors of the food on the plate, beautifully arranged in a harmony of meat, white puffy rice, and vegetables welcome me to pull up my chair and enjoy her handiwork. But the food was not so attractive before she got her hands on it. The meat was raw and squishy, the rice was hard and brittle, and the vegetables needed to be scrubbed and trimmed.

It reminds me of the gracious work Jesus has done for me. I am well aware of my frailty and propensity to sin. I know that in and of myself I am not presentable to God. Yet when I’m saved, Jesus makes me a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). He takes me just as I am and makes me just as I should be—“holy, and blameless, and above reproach” (Col. 1:22). He presents me to our Father as a thing of beauty worthy to be in His presence.

May His transforming work on our behalf stimulate us to live up to the presentation and to be humbly grateful to Christ for His finishing work in our lives!

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me—
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn
Jesus takes us as we are and makes us what we should be.

The Challenge Of Confinement

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18

At the age of 86, Ken Deal concluded more than 3 decades of volunteer jail and prison ministry with a final Sunday sermon. His message to the inmates was about serving the Lord while incarcerated. Many of the examples he used came from prisoners, some serving life sentences. In a place everyone wants to leave, he encouraged them to grow and to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.

After the people of Judah were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar and deported to Babylon because of their disobedience to God, the prophet Jeremiah sent them this message from the Lord: “Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands . . . that you may be increased there, and not diminished” (Jer. 29:5-6).

We may face some limiting circumstance today. Whether it is the result of our failure, or through no fault of our own, we can “go” through it or seek God’s strength to “grow” through it. The challenge of every confinement is to increase rather than decrease; to grow and not diminish. The Lord’s goal is to give us “a future and a hope” (v.11).

I know, Lord, that You can use the circumstances
I am in for my good. Change me, and grow
me in my knowledge of You and intimacy
with You. Give me Your strength.
A limited situation may afford the soul a chance to grow.

Be Present

Posted in: Daily Devotional - Our Daily Bread

They sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
Job 2:13

After 20 children and 6 staff members were murdered in a Connecticut school, the entire nation was stunned that such a horrific thing could happen. Everyone focused on the tragedy and the questions surrounding it: What kind of person would do such a thing, and why? How can we prevent it from happening again? How can we help the survivors? Amid the chaos, an unlikely group moved in and made a difference.

From Chicago came dogs— specially trained golden retrievers that offered nothing except affection. Dogs don’t speak; they simply offer their presence. Children traumatized by the violence opened up to them, expressing fears and emotions they had not spoken to any adult. Tim Hetzner of Lutheran Church Charities said, “The biggest part of their training is just learning to be quiet.”

As we learn from the book of Job, people in grief do not always need words. Sometimes they need someone to sit silently with them, to listen when they need to speak, and to hug them when their sorrow turns to sobs.

God may not intervene to change circumstances and He may not explain suffering, but He comforts us through the presence of other believers (Col. 4:8).

He’s with us in the valley,
Amid the darkest night
He tells us in our sorrow;
Faith will give way to sight. —D. DeHaan
Listening may be the most loving and Christlike thing you do today.