Entries by YMI

ODJ: the desert road


March 24, 2013 

READ: Acts 8:26-40
 

An angel of the Lord said to [Philip], “Go south down the desert road” (v.26).
 

Apparently someone connected with Google has a sense of humour. In one recent Google Maps route from Japan to China, as expected, a long list of detailed directions populated the page. But if you scrolled down further, it told you to “kayak across the Pacific Ocean”. Following those instructions would have made for one long journey across the expansive body of water!


Acts tells of a man who was on a long journey and far from home. The “treasurer of Ethiopia,” a powerful member of the royal court, had “gone to Jerusalem to worship” (Acts 8:27). The treasurer began his trek home through the vast, rugged wilderness region when the Holy Spirit tapped Philip on the shoulder and told him to go find this Ethiopian on “the desert [or literally, the wild] road” (v.26).


The desert provides a description for the Ethiopian’s predicament in multiple ways: (1) He was travelling through a massive, harsh terrain; (2) He was 500 or more miles away from home; (3) He desired to be connected to Israel’s God, but he was an Ethiopian with geographic and ethnic barriers to Israel; (4) He was a eunuch, which meant that he could not be a full participant in Israel’s faith (Leviticus 21:17-23; Deuteronomy 23:1). The eunuch was far from his home on a mission to worship the God he desired to know and love.


When Philip found the Ethiopian on the desert road, the eunuch was reading Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah and was confused about its meaning (vv.30-34). Philip climbed into the Ethiopian’s carriage and “beginning with this same Scripture, . . . told him the good news about Jesus” (v.35). The good news was that God’s love reached out to the world—even to the eunuch. God found him in the desert. God finds us all in the desert. —Winn Collier


MORE
Read Isaiah 53, the text from which the eunuch was reading. What does this reveal about the way God comes after us?
 
NEXT
Where is the wild or desert place in your life? How do you long for God to come and meet with you?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Hope Is For . . .

Although I try not to be shocked by the things I see these days, I was caught off-balance by the message on the woman’s T-shirt as she walked past me in the mall. The bold letters declared: “Hope Is For Suckers.” Certainly, being naïve or gullible can be foolish and dangerous. Disappointment and heartache can be the tragic offspring of unfounded optimism. But not allowing oneself to have ho

March 23, 2013 

READ: Hebrews 10:19-25 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. —Hebrews 10:23 

Although I try not to be shocked by the things I see these days, I was caught off-balance by the message on the woman’s T-shirt as she walked past me in the mall. The bold letters declared: “Hope Is For Suckers.” Certainly, being naïve or gullible can be foolish and dangerous. Disappointment and heartache can be the tragic offspring of unfounded optimism. But not allowing oneself to have hope is a sad and cynical way to view life.

Biblical hope is unique; it’s a confident trust in God and what He is doing in the world and in our lives. That’s something everyone needs! The writer to the Hebrews clearly stated the importance of hope when he wrote, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

Having biblical hope is not foolish, because it has a strong foundation. We hold fast to the hope we have received in Christ because our God is faithful. He can be trusted with anything and everything we will ever face—both for today and forever. Our hope is grounded in the trustworthy character of the God who loves us with an everlasting love. So, the T-shirt had it wrong. Hope is not for suckers; it’s for you and for me!

— Bill Crowder

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. —Mote

Hope that has its foundation in God
will not crumble under the pressures of life. 

ODJ: as it is in heaven


March 23, 2013 

READ: Ephesians 1:9-11
 

At the right time He 
will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth (v.10).
 

In the “Lord’s prayer,” Jesus encouraged His followers to
 pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be 
 done “on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Unsurprisingly the four Gospels are loaded with stories of heaven and earth coming together in and around Jesus.


Right from the start, heaven and earth converged in Christ’s divine conception (Luke 1:35). They overlapped when angels appeared to Mary and Joseph to explain her inexplicable pregnancy (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 
1:26-35). It happened again as God sent angels from heaven to announce Jesus’ birth (2:8-15).

Heaven and earth continued to join together at Jesus’ baptism, when a voice from heaven boomed, “You are my dearly loved Son” (Mark 1:11). God’s world and our world intersected every time Jesus forgave sins and healed diseases (2:1-12). It happened when water was turned into wine (John 2:1-11), when grace replaced condemnation (8:1-11), when the dead were raised to life (11:38-44), when stormy seas were calmed (Mark 4:35-41), when thousands of hungry people were fed with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread (6:30-44) and when frustrated fishermen were twice guided to the catch of a lifetime (Luke 5:1-7; John 21:1-6).

For those who have eyes to see, something radically new happened in and through Jesus’ coming. He was announcing that people from all backgrounds are included and every dimension of creation is touched when God’s long awaited kingdom comes “on earth as it is in heaven”.

This is what Jesus ignited in His birth and ministry, established through His death and resurrection, and will one day complete when He returns. This is the creation-renewing mission He taught us to pray for and saved us to be a part of today and forever—“on earth as it is in heaven”. —Jeff Olson


MORE
Paul reminded the Ephesians that it had been God’s plan all along to unite (not separate) heaven and earth under Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
 
NEXT
What will you do today “on earth as it is in heaven”? How does Jesus’ example inspire you?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Going For The Prize

Every March, the Iditarod Trail Race is held in Alaska. Sled dogs and their drivers, called “mushers,” race across a 1,049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome. The competing teams cover this great distance in anywhere from 8 to 15 days. In 2011, a record time was set by musher John Baker who covered the entire route in 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. The teamwork between dogs and d

March 22, 2013 

READ: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 

Everyone who competes for the prize . . . [does] it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. —1 Corinthians 9:25 

Every March, the Iditarod Trail Race is held in Alaska. Sled dogs and their drivers, called “mushers,” race across a 1,049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome. The competing teams cover this great distance in anywhere from 8 to 15 days. In 2011, a record time was set by musher John Baker who covered the entire route in 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. The teamwork between dogs and driver is remarkable, and those who compete are tenacious in their efforts to win. The first-place winner receives a cash prize and a new pickup truck. But after so much perseverance in extreme weather conditions, the accolades and prizes may seem insignificant and transient.

The excitement of a race was a familiar concept to the apostle Paul, but he used competition to illustrate something eternal. He wrote, “Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Cor. 9:25).

Sometimes we are tempted to place our emphasis on temporal rewards, which perish with the passing of time. The Scriptures, however, encourage us to focus on something more permanent. We honor God by seeking spiritual impact that will be rewarded in eternity.

— Dennis Fisher

Here we labor, here we pray,
Here we wrestle night and day;
There we lay our burdens down,
There we wear the victor’s crown. —Anon.

Run the race with eternity in view.