Entries by YMI

ODJ: bwana asifiwe!

Bwana asifiwe!” is Swahili for Praise the Lord! As I travelled from the dry place of Tala to the slums of Kawangare to the densely populated and dangerous ghetto of Korogocho in Kenya, this is the way every believer greeted me.

Living under the constant pitch of despondency, Bwana asifiwe? Surrounded by the dark shadows of squalor, poverty and destitution, Bwana asifiwe?Living in the

June 7, 2013 

READ: Psalm 150 

Let everything that breathes sing praisesto the Lord! Praise the Lord! (v.6). 

Bwana asifiwe!” is Swahili for Praise the Lord! As I travelled from the dry place of Tala to the slums of Kawangare to the densely populated and dangerous ghetto of Korogocho in Kenya, this is the way every believer greeted me.

Living under the constant pitch of despondency, Bwana asifiwe? Surrounded by the dark shadows of squalor, poverty and destitution, Bwana asifiwe?Living in the ubiquitous presence of systemic evil and limited options to escape it, Bwana asifiwe?I wondered, how could they praise God in such uninspiring and unfavourable conditions?

I received my answer while sitting in a worship service at Redeemed Gospel Church in Korogocho. In their worshipful dancing, exuberant singing and sacrificial giving, these brothers and sisters reminded me that many times praising the Lord must happen from a place of obedience—not circumstance.

In Scripture God’s people are commanded to offer Him praise. All people to whom God gave breath were to use it to praise Him (Psalm 150:6). Obedience to this command to praise the Lord was a recognition that God, despite circumstances and conditions, was worthy of His people’s praise (Deuteronomy 10:21) and that He would not share His glory and praise with another (Isaiah 42:8).

Obedience to the command to praise God was an act of declaring His nature, praising His goodness (Psalm 135:3), ascribing to Him greatness (104:1), telling of His righteousness (98:8-9), singing of His faithfulness (89:1), and giving thanks for His strength (59:16) and salvation (18:46, 95:1).

God alone deserves our praise. We praise Him from a place of obedience and recognition of His goodness. When we trust that God is good and He works positively for good even in unfavourable circumstances, we too—from a place of obedience—can say, “Bwana asifiwe!”—Marvin Williams

MORE
Read Acts 16:16-34 and see how two believers praised the Lord in unfavourable circumstances. 
NEXT
When have you praised God out of obedience and not due to circumstances? Spend a few minutes praising the Lord right now. 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Leading From The Front

Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers follows the US Army’s Easy Company from training in Georgia through the Normandy Invasion of D-Day (June 6, 1944) and ultimately to the end of World War II in Europe. For the bulk of that time, Easy Company was led by Richard Winters. Winters was an especially good officer because he led from the front. The most commonly heard words from Winter

June 6, 2013 

READ: Psalm 23 

He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. —Psalm 23:2-3 

Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers follows the US Army’s Easy Company from training in Georgia through the Normandy Invasion of D-Day (June 6, 1944) and ultimately to the end of World War II in Europe. For the bulk of that time, Easy Company was led by Richard Winters. Winters was an especially good officer because he led from the front. The most commonly heard words from Winters in combat were, “Follow me!” Other officers may have sought the safety of the rear areas, but if Winters’ men were going into combat, he was going to lead them.

Jesus is the one true Leader of His children. He knows what we need and where we are most vulnerable. His leading is part of what makes Psalm 23 the most beloved song in the Bible’s hymnal. In verse 2, David says that the Shepherd “leads me beside the still waters,” and in verse 3 he adds, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” These twin ideas reveal why His care is so complete. Whether it is times of refreshing and strengthening (“still waters”) or seasons of doing what pleases Him (“paths of righteousness”), we can follow Him.

As the old song says, “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow.”

— Bill Crowder

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness;
All I have to do is follow.
Strength for today is mine always
And all that I need for tomorrow. —Cox

Jesus knows the way—follow Him! 

ODJ: remind me

I’ve always needed to be reminded of things, but latelythe problem has reached critical mass. A cycling accident left me with a temporary black eye andnot-so-temporary short-term memory loss.

Recently my daughter found a hot iron plugged in long after I had left the house. On another occasion the sink overflowed when I forgot I was doing the dishes. I constantly forget where I park my

June 6, 2013 

READ: Deuteronomy 8:1-6 

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us (Psalm 78:2-3). 

I’ve always needed to be reminded of things, but latelythe problem has reached critical mass. A cycling accident left me with a temporary black eye andnot-so-temporary short-term memory loss.

Recently my daughter found a hot iron plugged in long after I had left the house. On another occasion the sink overflowed when I forgot I was doing the dishes. I constantly forget where I park my car, or the fact that I didn’t drive my car at all that day, and that’s why I can’t find it.

Some days I forget entire conversations that others tell me I was a part of. (Admittedly, this does have an upside.) The problem has underscored my need to create coping mechanisms, such as making extensive lists. Of course, then I forget where I left my notebook.

Faulty memory is a part of life in this fallen world. “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed,” declared noted 18th century English author Samuel Johnson. I see a distinct spiritual application in Dr. Johnson’s wisdom.

God knows all about our inherent memory problems, and so He gave us a good corrective—the Bible. One book in particular emphasises the need to remember. It’s the book of Deuteronomy, which has been described as a “repetition of the law”. In Moses’ farewell address to the people he had led for 40 years, he often used the words “remember” and “don’t forget” (Deuteronomy 8:2,11,15,18). He knew the people were aware of the law. And he knew they would forget it. So before he died, Moses re-emphasised God’s goodness and the wisdom in His commands.

We’re prone to the same forgetfulness as the ancient Israelites were. Reading God’s Word frequently, asking for His help and learning from wise counsellors aren’t mere coping mechanisms. They’re the way to thrive.—Tim Gustafson

› Luke 1:5-25

MORE
Psalm 78 is Asaph’s song recalling all that Godhad done for His people. How do verses 1-8 provide both a hopeand a warning? 
NEXT
What reminds you of God’s faithfulness? What devices, habits or rituals could you use to keep His commands in mind? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: More Than Information

How is behavior altered? In his book The Social Animal, David Brooks notes that some experts have said people just need to be taught the long-term risks of bad behavior. For example, he writes: “Smoking can lead to cancer. Adultery destroys families, and lying destroys trust. The assumption was that once you reminded people of the foolishness of their behavior, they would be motivated t

June 5, 2013 

READ: John 15:1-13 

Abide in Me, and I in you. —John 15:4 

How is behavior altered? In his book The Social Animal, David Brooks notes that some experts have said people just need to be taught the long-term risks of bad behavior. For example, he writes: “Smoking can lead to cancer. Adultery destroys families, and lying destroys trust. The assumption was that once you reminded people of the foolishness of their behavior, they would be motivated to stop. Both reason and will are obviously important in making moral decisions and exercising self-control. But neither of these character models has proven very effective.” In other words, information alone is not powerful enough to transform behavior.

As Jesus’ followers, we want to grow and change spiritually. More than two millennia ago, Jesus told His disciples how that can happen. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). Jesus is the Vine and we, His followers, are the branches. If we’re honest, we know we’re utterly helpless and spiritually ineffective apart from Him.

Jesus transforms us spiritually and reproduces His life in us—as we abide in Him.

— Marvin Williams

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride;
I now surrender, Lord—in me abide. —Orr

A change in behavior begins with Jesus changing our heart.