Entries by YMI

ODB: Building Community

“Community” is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives, says Henri Nouwen. Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, which forms a club or a clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community.The Christian church was the first institution in history to bring

July 24, 2017 

READ: Ephesians 2:19–3:11 

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 3:6

 

“Community” is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives, says Henri Nouwen. Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, which forms a club or a clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision, and hard work to form a community.

The Christian church was the first institution in history to bring together on equal footing Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free. The apostle Paul waxed eloquent on this “mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God.” By forming a community out of diverse members, Paul said, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of the world and even the supernatural world beyond (Eph. 3:9–10).

In some ways the church has sadly failed in this assignment. Still, church is the one place I visit that brings together generations: infants still held in their mothers’ arms, children who squirm and giggle at all the wrong times, responsible adults who know how to act appropriately at all times, and those who may drift asleep if the preacher drones on too long.

If we want the community experience God is offering to us, we have reason to seek a congregation of people “not like us.”

— Philip Yancey

Lord, remind us that the church is Your work, and You have brought us together for Your good purposes. Help us extend grace to others.

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world.  G. K. Chesterton

 

ODJ: Not a Sprint

In 1983, a sixty-one year old potato farmer named Cliff Young showed up for a gruelling, weeklong ultramarathon from Sydney to Melbourne—in overalls and work boots. He shuffled off the starting line as the much younger and athletic runners sprinted ahead. Soon he was miles behind. Spectators feared for his health. But that night, as the other runners slept, Cliff took a quick nap and kept go

July 23, 2017 

READ: 2 Cor. 11:16-12:10 

I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm (11:27). 

In 1983, a sixty-one year old potato farmer named Cliff Young showed up for a gruelling, weeklong ultramarathon from Sydney to Melbourne—in overalls and work boots. He shuffled off the starting line as the much younger and athletic runners sprinted ahead. Soon he was miles behind. Spectators feared for his health. But that night, as the other runners slept, Cliff took a quick nap and kept going. Five days and five nights later he came in first—ten hours ahead of his closest competitor!

The apostle Paul also wasn’t the most orthodox champion. He wasn’t the best speaker and he sometimes lacked the gracious spirit expected from a church leader (Acts 15:37-40; Galatians 2:11). He confessed he was the worst of sinners and suffered from a humbling “thorn in [his] flesh” (1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Corinthians 12:7). His enemies added to his struggles, beating him with whips and stones (11:25).

But Paul chose to boast in his weakness “so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:9-10).

Do you sometimes wonder if you’re falling behind in the race of life? Do you feel unappreciated, even scorned for living for Jesus? Do some people scoff at your commitment to Him?

Continue to winsomely show love to the spectators—the ones who are watching you. Remember the steady pace of Cliff Young and the apostle Paul as you run your race. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so “let us run with endurance the race God has set before us . . . keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

—Mike Wittmer

365-day plan: Luke 9:28-45

MORE
Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 to learn how we are to run the race God has called us to run. 
NEXT
Where do you feel like giving up? What do you need to believe, hope for and love in order to stay in the race? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Didn’t Get Credit?

Hollywood musicals were wildly popular during the 1950s and 1960s, and three actresses in particular—Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, and Deborah Kerr—thrilled viewers with their compelling performances. But a huge part of the appeal of these actresses was the breathtaking singing that enhanced their acting. In fact, the classic films’ successes were actually due in large part to Ma

July 23, 2017 

READ: Colossians 4:7–18 

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

 

Hollywood musicals were wildly popular during the 1950s and 1960s, and three actresses in particular—Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, and Deborah Kerr—thrilled viewers with their compelling performances. But a huge part of the appeal of these actresses was the breathtaking singing that enhanced their acting. In fact, the classic films’ successes were actually due in large part to Marni Nixon, who dubbed the voices for each of those leading ladies and who for a long time went completely uncredited for her vital contribution.

In the body of Christ there are often people that faithfully support others who take a more public role. The apostle Paul depended on exactly that kind of person in his ministry. Tertius’s work as a scribe gave Paul his powerful written voice (Rom. 16:22). Epaphras’s consistent behind-the-scene prayers were an essential foundation for Paul and the early church (Col. 4:12–13). Lydia generously opened her home when the weary apostle needed restoration (Acts 16:15). Paul’s work could not have been possible without the support he received from these fellow servants in Christ (vv. 7–18).

We may not always have highly visible roles, yet we know that God is pleased when we obediently play our essential part in His plan. When we “give [ourselves] fully to the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58), we will find value and meaning in our service as it brings glory to God and draws others to Him (Matt. 5:16). 

— Cindy Hess Kasper

Lord, help me to obediently do my part in the role You have chosen for me.

The secret of true service is absolute faithfulness wherever God places you.

 

ODJ: Streams of Mercy

The council in Cassandra Boyson’s Seeker’s Trilogy was responsible for maintaining law and order in the name of the “Great One”. Instead, they were corrupt, singling out people they deemed different for cruel treatment. Slowly the surrounding society began to decay—reflecting the council’s immoral ways. Yet in a surprising twist, the Great One righted t

July 22, 2017 

READ: 2 Peter 3:3-10 

[God] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (v.9). 

The council in Cassandra Boyson’s Seeker’s Trilogy was responsible for maintaining law and order in the name of the “Great One”. Instead, they were corrupt, singling out people they deemed different for cruel treatment. Slowly the surrounding society began to decay—reflecting the council’s immoral ways. Yet in a surprising twist, the Great One righted the wrongs of that world by providing a river that transformed all who came into contact with it.

Like that river offering transformation without cost, Scripture abounds with examples of God extending undeserved mercy to people in surprising ways. Though Jonah did everything in his power to prevent it, God showered mercy on a wicked Assyrian nation when they chose to repent and turn to God (Jonah 3:10). Jesus gently but firmly silenced the accusers of a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), and He shocked onlookers by associating with the hated tax collectors—even choosing one to be in His core group of twelve disciples (Matthew 9:9-11).

People may ridicule believers in Jesus for their hope in Jesus’ return, saying “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? . . . Everything has remained the same since the world was first created” (2 Peter 3:4). But Peter reminds us that the timing of Jesus’ second coming is designed to allow repentance for as many as possible. He urges us not to “forget this one thing: a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (vv.8-9).

His streams of mercy continue to flow today.

—Remi Oyedele

365-day plan: Mark :8:22-9:1

MORE
Read Psalm 103:8-14 to see how God views and relates to us. 
NEXT
How do you feel God should treat those who have wronged you in some way? Are those feelings in line with how you’d like to be treated by God? What steps can you take to adopt God’s perspective on mercy? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)