Entries by YMI

ODJ: Into His Image

October 17, 2017 

READ: James 4:1-12 

Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticise and judge each other, then you are criticising and judging God’s law (v.11). 

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” This sentiment from Anne Lamott often comes back to me in situations of potential conflict. If I find myself assuming God feels exactly the same way I do about most situations, it’s safe to say my view of God is mixed with a good deal of myself! Only one Person has known the mind of God fully; we His followers always understand imperfectly (1 Corinthians 13:12).

This seems to be part of why Scripture places an equal emphasis on both holiness and humility. Although we’re each to strive to grow in our knowledge of God and His truth, we should always be hesitant to judge others, for our own sin may be causing us to hastily condemn (Matthew 7:1-3).

James saw this clearly, tracing believers’ conflicts to coveting and pride (James 4:1-6). Urging each of them to purify themselves and draw near to God (vv.7-10), he cautioned that judging another unfairly disregarded God’s law (v.12), which required that any accusation be verified through fair investigation and the testimony of witnesses. Unfairly accusing someone could be the sin of slander, as well as giving ourselves God’s role as judge (vv.11-12).

If we’re tempted to assume our anger and impatience is just, let’s pause to first search our hearts and mourn over our own sin (v.9). Through drawing near to God, we can begin to experience His wisdom, which is “peace loving, gentle at all times and willing to yield to others” (3:17). Then we can better discern whether to correct in a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). May we in faith continually turn to Him and be transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

—Monica Brands

365-day-plan: Acts 7:30-60

MORE
Read Matthew 5:22 for another reminder of how seriously Jesus takes it when we condemn someone unfairly. 
NEXT
Why do you think it’s easy for us to assume God feels the same way we do about a situation? How can we learn to let His voice continually challenge us? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Invisible Influence

October 17, 2017 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 

Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19

 

On a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, I saw a masterpiece called The Wind. The painting showed a storm moving through a wooded area. Tall, thin trees leaned to the left. Bushes thrashed in the same direction.

In an even more powerful sense, the Holy Spirit is able to sway believers in the direction of God’s goodness and truth. If we go along with the Spirit, we can expect to become more courageous and more loving. We will also become more discerning about how to handle our desires (2 Tim. 1:7).

In some situations, however, the Spirit nudges us toward spiritual growth and change, but we respond with a “no.” Continually stonewalling this conviction is what Scripture calls “quench[ing] the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Over time, things we once considered wrong appear not to be quite as bad.

When our relationship with God seems distant and disconnected, this may be because the Spirit’s conviction has been repeatedly brushed aside. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to see the root of the problem. Thankfully, we can pray and ask God to show us our sin. If we turn away from sin and recommit ourselves to Him, God will forgive us and revive the power and influence of His Spirit within us.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

God, show me how I have resisted Your Holy Spirit. Help me to listen when You speak. I want to be right with You again.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit leads to right living.

 

ODJ: Model It

October 16, 2017 

READ: Titus 2:1-8 

You . . . must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching (v.7). 

It was a regular Monday evening at a care home. Hamburgers were on the menu, and an 87 year old named Patty was eating hers when she began to choke. But just in the nick of time, another resident came to the rescue and did the Heimlich manoeuver on her—saving the day. That resident was none other than 96 year old Dr. Henry Heimlich himself, the doctor who is widely credited with inventing the procedure. For Patty’s sake, it was a good thing that Dr. Heimlich actually modelled what he taught!

The apostle Paul reminded young Titus that he should model what he taught as well. He urged him to be an example by presenting the Scriptures in a way that was above criticism and a credit to all believers in Jesus: “Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticised” (v.8). Paul noted that his protégé’s teaching would have a lasting impact only if it was backed up by a blameless and consistent lifestyle filled with good works (v.7), for Titus’ life and ministry were always on display.

When writing to Timothy, another young pastor, Paul also told him he should set an example for believers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). For these young leaders, every word and action was to be carefully measured so that any basis for slander was removed and the gospel could press on in power (Titus 2:8).

If we desire to reflect Jesus well to others, we too, through the power of Christ’s Spirit (Ephesians 3:16), should pursue a life of integrity that opens the door for others to receive our testimony of Christ. With hearts full of praise to God, may we follow and model Jesus with words and actions that give us the right to be heard by those who need Him.

—Marvin Williams

365-day-plan: Acts 7:1-29

MORE
Read John 13:1-11. What did Jesus model for His disciples and for us? 
NEXT
How comfortable are you in having others follow your example in living for Jesus? What do you need to do differently this week to model what you teach? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Room 5020

October 16, 2017 

READ: Genesis 50:15–20 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done. Genesis 50:20

 

Jay Bufton turned his hospital room into a lighthouse.

The fifty-two-year-old husband, father, high school teacher, and coach was dying of cancer, but his room—Room 5020—became a beacon of hope for friends, family, and hospital workers. Because of his joyful attitude and strong faith, nurses wanted to be assigned to Jay. Some even came to see him during off-hours.

Even as his once-athletic body was wasting away, he greeted anyone and everyone with a smile and encouragement. One friend said, “Every time I visited Jay he was upbeat, positive, and filled with hope. He was, even while looking cancer and death in the face, living out his faith.”

At Jay’s funeral, one speaker noted that Room 5020 had a special meaning. He pointed to Genesis 50:20, in which Joseph says that although his brothers sold him into slavery, God turned the tables and accomplished something good: “the saving of many lives.” Cancer invaded Jay’s life, but by recognizing God’s hand at work Jay could say that “God intended it for good.” That’s why Jay could use even the ravages of cancer as an open door to tell others about Jesus.

What a legacy of unwavering trust in our Savior even as death was knocking at the door! What a testimony of confidence in our good and trustworthy God!

— Dave Branon

Lord, difficult things come into our lives so often. Please help us to trust You enough to see that nothing is beyond Your control. Help us to tell of Your love even in the tough times.

By God’s grace, we can have our best witness in the worst of times.