Entries by YMI

ODJ_120313

ODJ: toxic environment


Two dolphins—Shadow and Chelmers—died of a drug overdose at a marine park in Switzerland. Forensic experts suppose that partygoers at a nearby club placed a heroinlike substance into the dolphins’ tank water. The dolphin trainers who found Chelmers described him as “shaking all over and foaming at the mouth.” Based on these symptoms and the presence of buprenorphine in the dolphins’ bo

March 12, 2013 

READ: Deuteronomy 12:29-32 



Do not fall into the trap of . . . worshipping their gods (v.30).  
 

Two dolphins—Shadow and Chelmers—died of a drug overdose at a marine park in Switzerland. Forensic experts suppose that partygoers at a nearby club placed a heroinlike substance into the dolphins’ tank water. The dolphin trainers who found Chelmers described him as “shaking all over and foaming at the mouth.” Based on these symptoms and the presence of buprenorphine in the dolphins’ bodies, it seems likely that the dolphins died due to their toxic environment.


It’s somewhat surprising that God led His own people 
into a land that was toxic in a spiritual sense. It was polluted with idolatry. To prepare them for this challenge, Moses said, “When the Lord your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations . . . do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshipping their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:29-30). To make sure they weren’t infected by any of the poisonous practices, Moses commanded them to break down the pagan altars, smash sacred pillars, cut down carved idols and burn the Asherah poles (v.3).

After all that work was finished, God knew His children could still be enticed to worship false gods. This temptation could come from phony prophets, family members and even close friends. God considered that seductive situation to be a test. If the Israelites tuned in to their peers and tuned Him out, God would know that they lacked wholehearted love for Him.


Today many of us live in toxic environments where the threat of idolatry is less obvious, but just as dangerous. Letting culture dictate our worship may mean bowing down to celebrity talent, proudly revelling in our children’s accomplishments or honouring nature rather than the Creator. Consider smashing the ‘not so obvious’ idols in your life so that you can better follow the first commandment (Exodus 20:3).

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

MORE
To learn about idolatry’s pointless nature, read Psalm 115:4-8. Read 1 Kings 18:21 to see Elijah’s challenge to Baal worshippers. Read Hebrews 12:28-29 for more on worshipping God.
 
NEXT
Why is idolatry sometimes difficult to spot in our modern world? Why is it significant that “You must not have any other gods before Me” precedes the other commandments?
 

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ODB_110313

ODB: Thankful In All Things

My daughter is allergic to peanuts. Her sensitivity is so acute that eating even the tiniest fragment of a peanut threatens her life. As a result, we scrutinize food package labels. We carry a pre-filled syringe of medicine (to treat allergic reactions) wherever we go. And, when we eat out, we call ahead and quiz the wait staff about the restaurant’s menu items.Despite these precautions, I still

March 11, 2013 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 

In everything give thanks. —1 Thessalonians 5:18 

My daughter is allergic to peanuts. Her sensitivity is so acute that eating even the tiniest fragment of a peanut threatens her life. As a result, we scrutinize food package labels. We carry a pre-filled syringe of medicine (to treat allergic reactions) wherever we go. And, when we eat out, we call ahead and quiz the wait staff about the restaurant’s menu items.

Despite these precautions, I still feel concerned—both for her current safety and for her future safety. This situation is not something I would naturally be thankful about. Yet, God’s Word challenges: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). There’s no getting around it. God wants us to pray with thanksgiving when the future is uncertain, when heartbreak hits, and when shortfalls come.

It’s hard to be grateful in difficulties, but it’s not impossible. Daniel “prayed and gave thanks” (Dan. 6:10), knowing that his life was in danger. Jonah called out “with the voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:9) while inside a fish! These examples, coupled with God’s promise that He will work all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28), can inspire us to be thankful in all things.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain.
Thanks for homes and thanks for fireside
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain! —Hultman

In all circumstances, we can give thanks that God has not left us on our own. 

ODJ_110313

ODJ: seller beware


Every buyer is also a seller. If I buy apples from you,
 then you’re selling your apples and ‘buying’ my 
 money, while I am ‘selling’ my money to buy your apples. For every time you make a purchase, you must give up something to make the transaction. If you have nothing to sell, there’s nothing you can buy.

Ahab mistakenly thought he was only a buyer. He wanted to tur

March 11, 2013 

READ: 1 Kings 21:1-28 



Elijah answered, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the Lord’s sight” (v.20).
 

Every buyer is also a seller. If I buy apples from you,
 then you’re selling your apples and ‘buying’ my 
 money, while I am ‘selling’ my money to buy your apples. For every time you make a purchase, you must give up something to make the transaction. If you have nothing to sell, there’s nothing you can buy.

Ahab mistakenly thought he was only a buyer. He wanted to turn Naboth’s vineyard into a garden, and he offered to pay cash or trade a better vineyard if Naboth would sell (1 Kings 21:2). Naboth answered that his family inheritance could not be sold. Ahab’s wife Jezebel then told her husband that she would get the land for him. She cruelly had Naboth stoned on false charges. She then said to Ahab, “You know the vineyard Naboth wouldn’t sell you? Well, you can have it now! He’s dead!” (v.15).

A happy Ahab immediately claimed the vineyard. What a bargain! He had been willing to overpay for the land, but now he was getting it for free. Almost.

Ahab was so focused on the buyer’s side of the ledger that he didn’t notice he had vastly overpaid. Elijah told Ahab that Naboth’s vineyard had cost his soul. He had sold himself to evil, for he had robbed and murdered an innocent man so he could grow vegetables. Hope you enjoy those tomatoes, Ahab, because “dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!” (v.19).


Every time we take, we give something back. Visit trashy websites, and you leave a part of your soul behind. Cheat others, and the money you save is outspent by the cost to your character. You belong to God, who bought you with the blood of His Son. Don’t sell yourself short. —Mike Wittmer


Judges 14:1-20 ‹

MORE
Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 to learn your true value and how you should spend it.
 
NEXT
Think of an item you recently purchased. 
What did it cost you financially? What did 
it cost you spiritually? 
Was it worth it? Why or 
why not? 

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ODB_100313

ODB: Extravagant Gifts

When I was pastoring a small church, we faced a huge crisis. Unless we could complete the extensive renovations necessary to bring our building up to the proper safety codes, we would lose our place of worship. A desperate time of fundraising ensued to pay for those renovations; but of all the money given, one gift captured our leadership’s attention.An elderly woman in the church donated severa

March 10, 2013 

READ: Luke 21:1-4 

All these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had. —Luke 21:4 

When I was pastoring a small church, we faced a huge crisis. Unless we could complete the extensive renovations necessary to bring our building up to the proper safety codes, we would lose our place of worship. A desperate time of fundraising ensued to pay for those renovations; but of all the money given, one gift captured our leadership’s attention.

An elderly woman in the church donated several hundred dollars to the project—money we knew she could not spare. We thanked her for her gift but wanted to return it, feeling that her needs were greater than the church’s. However, she refused to take the money back. She had been saving for years in order to buy a stove and was cooking on a hot plate in the meantime. Yet she insisted that she needed a place to worship with her church family more than she needed a stove. We were astounded by her extravagant gift.

When our Lord observed a widow putting two mites (the smallest of coins) into the temple offerings, He praised her for her extravagance (Luke 21:3-4). Why? Not because of how much she gave, but because she gave all she had. It’s the kind of gift that not only honors our God, but also reminds us of the most extravagant of gifts to us—Christ.

— Bill Crowder

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what can I give Him—give my heart. —Rossetti

Gratitude of heart can often be seen in a generous spirit.