Entries by YMI

ODJ_280517

ODJ: Hope for Today

Someone close to me recommitted his life to God, began taking his wife and young daughter to church and was seeking to follow Jesus faithfully. Within weeks, however, his world began to fall apart. His daughter was admitted to the hospital with a chest infection, his business partner refused to pay him and his wife asked for some time apart. He looked drained and weary when I offered to pray for h

May 28, 2017 

READ: Malachi 3:13-4:2 


For you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture (4:2). 

Someone close to me recommitted his life to God, began taking his wife and young daughter to church and was seeking to follow Jesus faithfully. Within weeks, however, his world began to fall apart. His daughter was admitted to the hospital with a chest infection, his business partner refused to pay him and his wife asked for some time apart. He looked drained and weary when I offered to pray for him, saying he’d rather not have any help from God. From the moment he’d chosen to serve the Lord again, he said it felt as if a huge target had been placed on his back and the Enemy was having a field day.

Can you empathise with this man? Perhaps you’ve served God faithfully for many years and yet still aren’t experiencing victory in certain parts of your life. In Malachi we see that the people of God had the same complaint. They asked, “What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm” (Malachi 3:14-15).

The reality? God’s promise to those who fear Him is that “the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (4:2). Be encouraged today as you continue to fear God and honour His name. Though things might seem bleak and your heart may be heavy, trust in Him. He alone can provide joy, peace and hope even during difficult days. By faith, you can “overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

—Ruth O’Reilly Smith

365-day plan: Daniel 1:1-21

MORE
Read Psalm 73:1-28 and note the Psalmist’s frustration at seeing evil people prosper, but also how he concludes the Psalm with his hope firmly in God. 
NEXT
Have you become discouraged while you struggle with life’s challenges? How does it encourage you to know that God is yours forever and remains the strength of your heart? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB_280517

ODB: Not One Sparrow

My mother, so dignified and proper her entire life, now lay in a hospice bed, held captive by debilitating age. Struggling for breath, her declining condition contradicted the gorgeous spring day that danced invitingly on the other side of the windowpane.All the emotional preparation in the world cannot sufficiently brace us for the stark reality of goodbye. Death is such an indignity! I

May 28, 2017 

READ: Matthew 10:28–33 

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15

 

My mother, so dignified and proper her entire life, now lay in a hospice bed, held captive by debilitating age. Struggling for breath, her declining condition contradicted the gorgeous spring day that danced invitingly on the other side of the windowpane.

All the emotional preparation in the world cannot sufficiently brace us for the stark reality of goodbye. Death is such an indignity! I thought.

I diverted my gaze to the birdfeeder outside the window. A grosbeak flitted close to help itself to some seed. Instantly a familiar phrase popped into my mind: “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matt. 10:29 nlt). Jesus had said that to His disciples as He gave them marching orders for a mission to Judea, but the principle applies to all of us. “You are worth more than many sparrows,” He told them (v. 31).

My mom stirred and opened her eyes. Reaching back to her childhood, she used a Dutch term of endearment for her own mother and declared, “Muti’s dead!”

“Yes,” my wife agreed. “She’s with Jesus now.” Uncertain, Mom continued. “And Joyce and Jim?” she questioned of her sister and brother. “Yes, they’re with Jesus too,” said my wife. “But we’ll be with them soon!” 

“It’s hard to wait,” Mom said quietly. 

— Tim Gustafson

Heavenly Father, this life can be so hard and painful. But You! . . . You are right there with us, loving us, keeping us, holding us! And You promise never to leave us or forsake us.


Death is the last shadow before heaven’s dawn.

 

ODJ_270517

ODJ: Together Forever

A Chinese translator told a visiting theologian that her Buddhist parents admired the teachings of Jesus, but they were offended by the idea that someone had to believe in Him to be saved. They worried that their Christian daughter now believed her ancestors were in hell. The translator said, “Revering my ancestors means much to me, and I want to assure my parents that I do not want to disho

May 27, 2017 

READ: Joshua 2:1-24 


You must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members . . . must be here inside the house (v.18). 

A Chinese translator told a visiting theologian that her Buddhist parents admired the teachings of Jesus, but they were offended by the idea that someone had to believe in Him to be saved. They worried that their Christian daughter now believed her ancestors were in hell. The translator said, “Revering my ancestors means much to me, and I want to assure my parents that I do not want to dishonour my family heritage. So please tell me what I, as a Christian, can say to my parents about this.”

This profound question haunts many believers who feel torn between Jesus and their family. We can find help in the story of Rahab, who recognised her only hope was found in “the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). She begged the spies to save both her and her family when God used Israel to judge her sinful city (vv.12-13). The spies told her to mark her house by hanging a scarlet rope from her window. Then all the family that gathered in her house would be saved.

One thing Rahab’s story reveals is that God loves our families. He sent Jesus to die for them, perhaps symbolised by the scarlet rope in the story (v.18). We can’t say with certainty where our ancestors are—only God knows their destinies. We do know, however, that God commands us to honour our fathers and mothers, so we can readily honour our ancestors just as they deserve (Exodus 20:12).

It’s impossible for us to fully know or understand the futures of those in the past, but we can speak for God today. May we lovingly encourage our family members to join us in the house with the scarlet cord. Our loving God allows us to be united in Him by faith in Jesus—the only One who will keep us together forever.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day plan: Ezekiel 37:1-14

MORE
Read Ephesians 3:14-21 to learn how to pray for your family. 
NEXT
Who are the people close to you who don’t yet know Jesus? Tell your Father about them and pray for opportunities to lovingly share Jesus’ love with them. 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB_270517

ODB: Dysfunctional

The word dysfunctional is often used to describe individuals, families, relationships, organizations, and even governments. While functional means it’s in proper working order, dysfunctional is the opposite—it’s broken, not working properly, unable to do what it was designed to do.In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul begins by describing a spir

May 27, 2017 

READ: Romans 3:10–26 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

 

The word dysfunctional is often used to describe individuals, families, relationships, organizations, and even governments. While functional means it’s in proper working order, dysfunctional is the opposite—it’s broken, not working properly, unable to do what it was designed to do.

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul begins by describing a spiritually dysfunctional humanity (1:18–32). We are all part of that rebellious company: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. . . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:12, 23).

The good news is that “all are justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus . . . to be received by faith” (vv. 24–25). When we invite Christ into our lives and accept God’s offer of forgiveness and new life, we are on the path to becoming the person He created us to be. We don’t immediately become perfect, but we no longer have to remain broken and dysfunctional.

Through the Holy Spirit we receive daily strength to honor God in what we say and do and to “put off [our] old self . . . to be made new in the attitude of [our] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22–24).

— David McCasland

Lord, in our dysfunctional lives we turn to You for restoration and strength. Thank You for Your amazing grace and love!


Drawing close to Christ helps us to live as He designed us.