Entries by YMI

ODJ: Something in a Song

November 19, 2017 

READ: Psalm 42:1-11 

Each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs (v.8). 

For years, Denise referred warmly to her sibling Carolyn as “my little sister”. Carolyn faced significant cognitive challenges, but she loved life and brought joy to everyone who knew her. She loved Jesus too!

When their mother died, Denise gladly took care of Carolyn. But when Carolyn died, Denise struggled tremendously—especially since the death was due to hospital error. For months, she questioned God. Silence.

Then one day, God answered. It was Sunday morning, and a church soloist stood to sing Carolyn’s favourite song: “The Old Rugged Cross”.

“That was it!” says Denise. “I was at peace, because I knew that Carolyn was at peace.”

A song can be so powerful! Music unites our whole being—mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. The right rhythms and chord progressions can touch the places we don’t often go. Lyrics paired well with harmonies give voice to what we always knew was there but couldn’t articulate. Music laments. Music celebrates. Music heals. No doubt that’s why songs appear throughout the Bible. Music is simultaneously human and a gift from God.

We don’t know who wrote Psalm 42, but we can identify with the poet’s lyrics. “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God,” he declares (v.1). When he confesses, “I have only tears for food” (v.3), we understand. We relate when he writes, “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be” (v.4).

But then, he recognises where he must turn. “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again” (vv.5-6).

Wherever you are today, and whatever you long for, may the God of song give voice to your lament as well as to your praise!

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Acts 28:15-31

MORE
Check out a sampling of songs in the Bible: David’s elegy for a general (2 Samuel 3:33-34); the “harlot’s lament” (Isaiah 23:15-16); Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55); and the song of Moses and the Lamb (Revelation 15:3-4 
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What song most speaks to you today? How has God touched your heart through music? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Seeing Masterpieces

November 19, 2017 

READ: Psalm 139:11–18 

You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

 

My father creates custom quivers designed for archers to carry their arrows. He carves elaborate wildlife pictures into pieces of genuine leather, before stitching the material together.

During a visit, I watched him construct one of his works of art. His careful hands applied just the right pressure as he pressed a sharp blade into the supple leather, creating various textures. Then he dipped a rag into crimson dye and covered the leather with even strokes, magnifying the beauty of his creation.

As I admired my dad’s confident craftsmanship, I realized how often I fail to acknowledge and appreciate my heavenly Father’s creativity manifested in others and even in myself. Reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent workmanship, I recalled King David’s affirmation that God creates our “inmost being” and that we’re “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13–14).

We can praise our Creator in confidence because we know His “works are wonderful” (v. 14). And we can be encouraged to respect ourselves and others more, especially when we remember that the Maker of the Universe knew us inside and out and planned our days “before one of them came to be” (vv. 15–16).

Like the pliable leather carved by my father’s skilled hands, we are each beautiful and valuable simply because we are God’s one-of-a-kind creations. Each one of us, intentionally designed to be unique and purposed as God’s beloved masterpieces, contributes to reflect God’s magnificence.

— Xochitl Dixon

Lord, thank You for creating us in Your perfect love. Please help us to see ourselves, and others, as Your unique masterpieces.

God masterfully creates each person with uniqueness and purpose.

 

ODJ: Living in Peace

November 18, 2017 

READ: Hosea 3:1-5 

The Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel” (v.1). 

Although a man murdered nearly all of a woman’s family in the Rwandan genocide, they’re now next-door neighbours. He says, “Ever since I [confessed] my crimes and ask[ed] her for forgiveness, she has never once called me a killer. . . . She has set me free.”

Forgiveness and restoration lie at the heart of Prison Fellowship’s Rwanda project in founding reconciliation villages where victims and perpetrators live together. A representative remarked that for Rwanda to heal, people can’t avoid each other when they move back to their old neighbourhoods, but need to “confront their innermost feelings . . . so suffering and anger” don’t rise up again.

This true story of seemingly impossible forgiveness reminds me of the book of Hosea in the Old Testament. When Hosea’s wife left him, returning to an unfaithful lifestyle, the Lord asked him to “go and love your wife again” to “illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel” (Hosea 3:1). In a culture where taking back an unfaithful wife was nearly unthinkable, Hosea chose to follow God’s example of extending forgiveness.

Seeking forgiveness and reconciliation can be incredibly difficult. Healing broken relationships entails not only repentance from the offending person and grace from the one forgiving, but hard work from both to rebuild trust. For Hosea and Gomer’s marriage to heal, it was necessary for Gomer to commit to renewed faithfulness (v.4). In the Rwandan reconciliation villages, regular disciplines of conflict resolution have been necessary to establish the path to gradual healing.

Although seeking reconciliation can be a difficult road to walk, it’s also the path to freedom and joy. May it be so for us as we live in a world torn by strife.

—Amy Boucher Pye

365-day-plan: Acts 28:1-14

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Read Isaiah 43:25 for a reminder of God’s promise of forgiveness. 
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How can we lean on God to increase our desire for forgiveness and reconciliation? How can we display more of God’s grace in our relationships? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Hide and Seek

November 18, 2017 

READ: Ezekiel 8 

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

 

“You can’t see me!”

When small children play “hide and seek,” they sometimes believe they’re hiding just by covering their eyes. If they can’t see you, they assume you can’t see them.

Naïve as that may seem to adults, we sometimes do something similar with God. When we find ourselves desiring to do something we know is wrong, our tendency may be to shut God out as we willfully go our own way.

The prophet Ezekiel discovered this truth in the vision God gave him for his people, exiled in Babylon. The Lord told him, “Have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us’” (Ezek. 8:12).

But God misses nothing, and Ezekiel’s vision was proof of it. Yet even though they had sinned, God offered His repentant people hope through a new promise: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (36:26).

For us, God met the brokenness and rebellion of sin with His tender mercy at the cross, paying the ultimate penalty for it. Through Jesus Christ, God not only offers us a new beginning, but He also works within us to change our hearts as we follow Him. How good is God! When we were lost and hiding in our sinfulness, God drew near through Jesus, who “came to seek and to save” us (Luke 19:10; Rom. 5:8).

— James Banks

Thank You for Your kindness to me, Lord. Help me to seek You and follow You faithfully today.

God knows us completely . . . and loves us just as much.