fbpx

About Marvin Williams

Marvin Williams began writing for Our Daily Bread in 2007. He also writes for another Our Daily Bread Ministries devotional, Our Daily Journey. Marvin is senior teaching pastor at Trinity Church in Lansing, Michigan. Educated at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, he has also served in several pastoral positions in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He and his wife, Tonia, have three children.

Uncovered Sins

By |2024-07-12T02:33:26-04:00July 12th, 2024|

A thief broke into a phone repair shop, smashed the glass of a display case, and began pocketing phones and more. He tried to conceal his identity from the surveillance camera by covering his head with a cardboard box. But during the burglary, the box briefly tipped, uncovering his face. Minutes later, the store owner saw the video footage of the robbery, called the police, and they arrested the robber outside a nearby store. His story reminds us that every hidden sin will be uncovered one day.

It's human nature to try to hide our sins. But in Ecclesiastes we read that we should keep God’s commandments for every hidden thing will be brought before His righteous gaze and just verdict (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The author wrote, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (v. 13). Even the hidden things which the Ten Commandments rebuked (Leviticus 4:13) won’t escape His evaluation. He’ll bring every deed into judgment, whether good or evil. But, because of His grace, we can find forgiveness for our sins in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf (Ephesians 2:4-5).

When we’re conscious of and internalize His commandments, it can lead to a reverent fear of Him and a lifestyle to match. Let’s bring our sins to Him and experience anew His loving, forgiving heart.

God’s Created Masterpiece

By |2024-06-12T02:33:20-04:00June 12th, 2024|

Although neuroscience has made great progress in understanding how the brain works, scientist admit they’re still in the early stages of understanding it. They understand brain architecture, some aspects of its function, and regions that respond to environment, activate our senses, and generate movements and contain emotions. But they still can’t figure out how all these interactions contribute to behavior, perception, and memory. God’s incredibly complex, created masterpiece—humanity—is still mysterious.

David acknowledged the marvels of the human body. Using figurative language, he celebrated God’s power, evidenced by His sovereign control over the entire natural process of humans “being knit . . . together in [his] mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). He wrote, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful” (v. 14). The ancients viewed the development of a child inside the mother’s womb as a great mystery (see Ecclesiastes 11:5). Even with limited knowledge of the marvelous complexities of the human body, David still stood in awe and wonder of God’s amazing work and presence (Psalm 139:17-18).

The marvelous and wonderful complexity of the human body reflects the power and sovereignty of our great God. Our only responses can be praise, awe, and wonder!

Words Reflect Our Heart

By |2024-05-30T02:33:17-04:00May 30th, 2024|

How do you eliminate foul language? A high school chose to institute a “no foul language” promise. The students took an oath, saying: "I do solemnly promise not to use profanities of any kind within the walls and properties of [our school].” This was a noble effort, but according to Jesus, no external rule or pledge can ever cover the odor of foul speech.

Removing the stench of the words that come from our mouths begins with renewing our hearts. Just as people recognize the kind of tree by the fruit it bears (Luke 6:43–44), Jesus said that our speech is a convincing indicator of whether our hearts are in tune with Him and His ways or not. Fruit stands for a person’s speech, “for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (v. 45). Christ was pointing out that if we really want to change what’s coming out of our mouths, we first have to focus on changing our hearts as He helps us.

External promises are useless to curb the foul language that comes forth from an untransformed heart. We can only eliminate foul speech by first believing in Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:3) and then inviting the Holy Spirit to fill us (Ephesians 5:18). He works within us to inspire and help us to continually offer thanks to God (v. 20) and to speak encouraging and edifying words to others (Ephesians 4:15, 29; Colossians 4:6).

Trying to Save Ourselves

By |2024-05-10T02:33:13-04:00May 10th, 2024|

Many years ago, New York City launched a Stay Safe Stay Put ad campaign to educate people on how to stay calm and be safe when trapped in an elevator. Experts reported that some trapped passengers had died when they tried to pry open the elevator doors or attempted exiting by some other means. The best plan of action is to simply use the alarm button to call for help and wait for emergency responders to arrive.

The apostle Paul spelled out a very different type of rescue plan—one to help those trapped in the downward pull of sin. He reminded the Ephesians of their utter spiritual helplessness, truly “dead in [their] sins” (Ephesians 2:1). They were trapped, obeying the devil (v. 2), and refusing to submit to God. This resulted in them being the subject of God’s wrath. But He didn’t leave them trapped in spiritual darkness. And those who believe in Jesus, the apostle wrote, “by grace . . . have been saved” (vv. 5, 8). A response to God’s rescue initiative results in faith. And faith means we will give up on being able to save ourselves and call on God to rescue us—receiving the rescue Jesus offers.  

By God’s grace, being rescued from sin’s trap doesn’t originate with us. It’s “the gift of God” through Jesus alone (v. 8).

Pray and Watch

By |2024-04-29T02:33:15-04:00April 29th, 2024|

When fighting spiritual battles, believers in Jesus should take prayer seriously. A Florida woman found out how dangerous it can be, however, to practice it unwisely. When she prayed, she closed her eyes. But while driving one day and praying (with eyes shut!), she failed to stop at a stop sign, flew through an intersection and went offroad into a homeowner’s yard. She then tried unsuccessfully to back off the lawn. Though not injured, she was given a police citation for reckless driving and property damage. This prayer warrior missed a key part of Ephesians 6:18: be alert.

As part of the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul includes two final pieces. First, we should fight spiritual battles with prayer. This means praying in the Spirit—relying on His power. Also, resting in His guidance and responding to His promptings—praying all kinds of prayers on all occasions (v. 18). Second, Paul encouraged us to “be alert.” Spiritual alertness can aid us in being prepared for Jesus and His return (Mark 13:33), gaining victory over temptation (Mark 14:38), and interceding for other believers (Ephesians 6:18).

As we fight spiritual battles daily, let’s permeate our lives with a “pray and watch” approach—combating evil powers and piercing the darkness with the light of Christ.

Bitterness of Stolen Sweets

By |2024-04-21T02:33:13-04:00April 21st, 2024|

Thieves in Germany stole a truck’s refrigerated trailer filled with more than twenty tons of chocolate. The estimated worth of the stolen sweetness was eighty thousand dollars. Local police asked anyone who was offered large quantities of chocolate via unconventional channels to report it immediately. Surely those who stole the massive amount of sweets will be facing bitter and unsatisfying consequences if they’re caught and prosecuted!

Proverbs confirms this principle: “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (20:17). Things we acquire deceptively or wrongfully may seem to be sweet at first—seasoned with excitement and temporary enjoyment. But the flavor will eventually wear off and our deception will lead to our being left wanting and in trouble. The bitter consequences of guilt, fear, and sin can end up ruining our lives and reputations. “Even small children are known by their actions, [if] their conduct [is]really pure and upright” (v. 11). May our words and actions reveal a pure heart for God—not the bitterness of selfish desires.

When we’re tempted, let’s ask God to strengthen us and help us remain faithful to Him. He can help us look behind the short-term “sweetness” of giving in to temptation and guide us to carefully consider the long-term consequences of our choices.

Jesus, Our Substitute

By |2024-03-29T02:33:05-04:00March 29th, 2024|

A wealthy twenty-year-old was drag-racing with his friends when he struck and killed a pedestrian. Although the young man received a three-year prison sentence, some believe that the man who appeared in court (and who subsequently served a prison sentence) was a hired surrogate for the driver who committed the crime. This type of thing has been known to occur in some countries where people hire body doubles to avoid paying for their crimes.

This may sound scandalous and outrageous, but more than two thousand years ago, Jesus became our substitute and “suffered for [our] sins, the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18). As God’s sinless sacrifice, Christ suffered and died once and for all (Hebrews 10:10), for all who believe in Him. He took the penalty for all our sins in His own body on the cross. Unlike a person today who chooses to wrongly be a substitute for a criminal to get some cash, Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross provided “hope” for us as He freely, willingly gave His life for us (1 Peter 3:18; John 10:15). He did so to bridge the chasm between us and God.

May we rejoice and find comfort and confidence in this profound truth: Only by the substitutionary death of Jesus can we—sinners in need—have a relationship with and complete spiritual access to our loving God.

God Alone Can Satisfy

By |2024-03-14T02:33:21-04:00March 14th, 2024|

A thousand dollars of food—jumbo shrimp, shawarma, salads, and more—was delivered to a homeowner. But the man wasn’t having a party. In fact, he didn’t order the smorgasbord; his six-year son did. How did this happen? The father let his son play with his phone before bedtime and the boy used it to purchase the expensive bounty from a restaurant. “Why did you do this?” the father asked his son, who was hiding under his comforter. The six-year-old replied, “I was hungry.” The boy’s appetite and immaturity led to a costly outcome. 

Esau’s appetite cost him a lot more than a thousand dollars. The story in Genesis 25 finds him exhausted and desperate for food. He said to his brother, “Let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (v. 29). Jacob responded by asking for Esau’s birthright (v. 31). The birthright included Esau’s special place as the firstborn son, the blessing of God’s promises, a double portion of the inheritance, and the privilege of being the spiritual leader of the family. Giving in to his appetite, Esau “ate and drank” and “despised his birthright” (v. 34).

When we’re tempted and desiring something, instead of letting our appetites lead us to costly mistakes and sin, let’s reach out to our heavenly Father—the One who alone satisfies the hungry soul “with good things” (Psalm 107:9).

Not Luck, but Christ

By |2024-02-25T01:33:03-05:00February 25th, 2024|

Discover magazine suggests that there are around 700 quintillion (7 followed by 20 zeros) planets in the universe, but only one like Earth. Astrophysicist Erik Zackrisson said that one of the requirements for a planet to sustain life is to orbit in the “Goldilocks” zone, where the temperature is just right and water can exist. Out of 700 quintillion planets, Earth seems to be one planet where conditions are just right. Zackrisson concluded that Earth somehow had been dealt a “fairly lucky hand.”

Paul assured the Colossian believers that the universe existed, not because of Lady Luck, but because of the work of Jesus. The apostle presents Christ as the Creator of the world (Colossians 1:16). “For in him all things were created.” Not only was Jesus the powerful creator of the world, but Paul says that “in him all things hold together” (v. 17)—a world that’s not too hot and not too cold, but one that’s just right for human existence. What Jesus created, He’s sustaining with His perfect wisdom and unceasing power.

As we participate and enjoy the beauty of creation, let’s choose not to point to the random activity of Lady Luck, but to the purposeful, sovereign, powerful and loving One who possesses “all [God’s] fullness” (v. 19).

Brought Low

By |2024-02-08T01:33:18-05:00February 8th, 2024|

Pride precedes and often leads to humiliation—something a man in Norway found out. Not even dressed in running clothes, the individual arrogantly challenged Karsten Warholm—the world record holder in the 400-meter hurdles—to a race. Warholm, training in an indoor public facility, obliged the challenger and left him in his dust. At the finish line, the two-time world champion smiled when the man insisted that he’d had a bad start and wanted to race again!

In Proverbs 29:23 we read, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” God’s dealings with the proud is one of Solomon’s favorite themes in the book (11:2; 16:18; 18:12). The word pride in these verses means “swelling” or “puffed up”—taking credit for what rightfully belongs to God. When we’re filled with pride, we think more highly of ourselves than we should. Jesus once said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Both He and Solomon point us to pursue humility and lowliness. This isn’t false modesty, but right-sizing oneself and acknowledging that all that we have comes from God. It’s being wise and not saying things arrogantly “in haste” (Proverbs 29:18, 20).   

Let’s ask God to give us the heart and wisdom to humble ourselves to honor Him and avoid humiliation.

Go to Top