I learned to recite the Lord's Prayer as a boy in primary school. Every time I said the line, "Give us today our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11), I couldn't help but think about the bread that we got only occasionally at home. Only when my father returned from his trip into town did we have a loaf of bread. So asking God to give us our daily bread was a relevant prayer to me.
How curious I was when years later I discovered the booklet Our Daily Bread. I knew the title came from the Lord’s Prayer, but I also knew it couldn’t be talking about the loaf of bread from the baker’s shop. I discovered as I read the booklet regularly that this "bread," full of Scripture portions and helpful notes, was spiritual food for the soul.
It was spiritual food that Mary chose when she sat at the feet of Jesus and listened attentively to His words (Luke 10:39). While Martha wearied herself with concern about physical food, Mary was taking time to be near their guest, the Lord Jesus, and to listen to Him. May we take that time as well. He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35), and He feeds our hearts with spiritual food. He is the Bread that satisfies.
At her mother’s 50th birthday celebration with hundreds of people present, firstborn daughter Kukua recounted what her mother had done for her. The times were hard, Kukua remembered, and funds were scarce in the home. But her single mother deprived herself of personal comfort, selling her precious jewelry and other possessions in order to put Kukua through high school. With tears in her eyes, Kukua said that no matter how difficult things were, her mother never abandoned her or her siblings.
God compared His love for His people with a mother’s love for her child. When the people of Israel felt abandoned by God during their exile, they complained: “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” (Isa. 49:14). But God said, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (v. 15).
When we are distressed or disillusioned, we may feel abandoned by society, family, and friends, but God does not abandon us. It is a great encouragement that the Lord says, "I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (v. 16) to indicate how much He knows and protects us. Even if people forsake us, God will never forsake His own.
When we think of the chameleon, we probably think of its ability to change color according to its surroundings. But this lizard has another interesting characteristic. On several occasions I've watched a chameleon walk along a pathway and wondered how it ever reached its destination. Reluctantly, the chameleon stretches out one leg, seems to change its mind, attempts again, and then carefully plants a hesitant foot, as if afraid the ground will collapse under it. That was why I couldn't help laughing when I heard someone say, “Do not be a chameleon church member who says, ‘Let me go to church today; no, let me go next week; no, let me wait for a while!’”
“The house of the Lord” at Jerusalem was King David’s place of worship, and he was far from being a “chameleon” worshiper. Rather, he rejoiced with those who said, “Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Ps. 122:1). The same was true for believers in the early church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. . . . Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts” (Acts 2:42, 46).
What a joy it is to join with others in worship and fellowship! Praying and worshiping together, studying the Scriptures together, and caring for one another are essential for our spiritual growth and unity as believers.
People post obituary notices on billboards and concrete block walls in Ghana regularly. Headlines such as Gone Too Soon, Celebration of Life, and What a Shock! announce the passing away of loved ones and the approaching funerals. One I read—In Transition—points to life beyond the grave.
When a close relative or friend dies, we sorrow as Mary and Martha did for their brother Lazarus (John 11:17-27). We miss the departed so much that our hearts break and we weep, as Jesus wept at the passing of His friend (v. 35).
Yet, it was at this sorrowful moment Jesus made a delightful statement on life after death: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (v. 25).
On the basis of this we give departed believers only a temporary farewell. For they “will be with the Lord forever,” Paul emphasizes (1 Thess. 4:17). Of course, farewells are painful, but we can rest assured that they are in the Lord’s safe hands.
In Transition suggests that we are only changing from one situation to another. Though life on earth ends for us, we will continue to live forever and better in the next life where Jesus is. “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (v. 18).
When my father became a Christian in his old age, he fascinated me with his plan for overcoming temptation. Sometimes he just walked away! For example, whenever a disagreement between him and a neighbor began to degenerate into a quarrel, my father just walked away for a time rather than be tempted to advance the quarrel.
One day he met with some friends who ordered pito (a locally brewed alcoholic beer). My father had formerly struggled with alcohol and had decided he was better off without it. So he simply stood up, said his goodbyes, and left the gathering of old friends for another day.
In Genesis, we read how Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph. He immediately recognized that giving in would cause him to “sin against God,” so he fled (Gen. 39:9-12).
Temptation knocks often at our door. Sometimes it comes from our own desires, other times through the situations and people we encounter. As Paul told the Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” But he also wrote, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
The “way out” may include removing the objects of temptation or fleeing from them. Our best course of action may be to simply walk away.
In the days before telephones, email, and mobile phones, the telegram was usually the fastest means of communication. But only important news was sent by telegram, and such news was usually bad. Hence the saying, “The telegram boy always brings bad news.”
It was wartime in ancient Israel when Hezekiah was king of Judah. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had invaded and captured the cities of Judah. He then sent a letter to Hezekiah, a bad-news “telegram” urging his surrender. Hezekiah described the moment as “a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace” (2 Kings 19:3).
With taunts and scoffs, Sennacherib boasted of his past military campaigns, belittling the God of Israel and threatening mayhem (vv. 11-13). In that dreadful moment, King Hezekiah did an unusual thing with the bad-news letter: “He went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord” (v. 14). Then he prayed earnestly, acknowledging the power of God over their gloomy situation (vv. 15-19). God intervened in a powerful way (vv. 35-36).
Bad news can reach us at any time. In those moments, Hezekiah’s action is a good example to follow. Spread out the news before the Lord in prayer and hear His reassurance: “I have heard your prayer” (v. 20).
“How are you today, Mama?” I asked casually. My 84-year-old friend, pointing to aches and pains in her joints, whispered, "Old age is tough!" Then she added earnestly, "But God has been good to me."
“Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life,” says Billy Graham in his book Nearing Home. "I am an old man now, and believe me, it's not easy." However, Graham notes, "While the Bible doesn't gloss over the problems we face as we grow older, neither does it paint old age as a time to be despised or a burden to be endured with gritted teeth.” He then mentions some of the questions he has been forced to deal with as he has aged, such as, “How can we not only learn to cope with the fears and struggles and growing limitations we face but also actually grow stronger inwardly in the midst of these difficulties?"
In Isaiah 46 we have God's assurance: "Even to your old age and gray hairs . . . I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" (v. 4).
We don’t know how many years we will live on this earth or what we might face as we age. But one thing is certain: God will care for us throughout our life.
In my neighborhood, religious inscriptions abound—on plaques, walls, doorposts, commercial vehicles, and even as registered names of businesses. By the Grace of God reads an inscription on a mini-bus; God’s Divine Favor Bookshop adorns a business signboard. The other day I couldn’t help smiling at this one on a Mercedes Benz: Keep Off—Angels on Guard!
But religious inscriptions, whether on wall plaques, jewelry, or T-shirts, are not a reliable indicator of a person’s love for God. It’s not the words on the outside that count but the truth we carry on the inside that reveals our desire to be changed by God.
I recall a program sponsored by a local ministry that distributed cards with Bible verses written on both sides that helped people memorize God’s Word. Such a practice is in keeping with the instructions Moses gave the Israelites when he told them to write the commandments of God “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:9). We are to treasure God’s Word in our hearts (v. 6), to impress it on our children, and to talk about it “when [we] walk along the road, when [we] lie down and when [we] get up” (v. 7).
May our faith be real and our commitment true, so we can love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength (v. 5).
In traditional African societies, leadership succession is a serious decision. After a king’s demise, great care is taken selecting the next ruler. Besides being from a royal family, the successor must be strong, fearless, and sensible. Candidates are questioned to determine if they will serve the people or rule with a heavy hand. The king’s successor needs to be someone who leads but also serves.
Even though Solomon made his own bad choices, he worried over his successor. “Who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill” (Eccl. 2:19). His son Rehoboam was that successor. He demonstrated a lack of sound judgment and ended up fulfilling his father’s worst fear.
When the people requested more humane working conditions, it was an opportunity for Rehoboam to show servant leadership. “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them . . . ,” the elders advised, “they will always be your servants” (1 Kings 12:7). But he rejected their counsel. Rehoboam failed to seek God. His harsh response to the people divided the kingdom and accelerated the spiritual decline of God’s people (12:14-19).
In the family, the workplace, at church, or in our neighborhood—we need His wisdom for the humility to serve rather than be served.