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

MORE
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.

 

ODJ: Anyone

November 17, 2017 

READ: Philippians 4:10-23 


All the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household (v.22). 

Are you close to someone who seems particularly far from God? It might help to keep in mind that this person is probably not less reachable than Paul, who claimed he was the worst of sinners because he had persecuted God’s people (1 Timothy 1:12-16). Paul realised if God could save him, He could reach anyone.

Anyone. Some of the most difficult people to reach in Paul’s world were the elites in Rome. Those in the distant, upper reaches of Roman government were less acquainted with Jesus and had the most to lose from following Him. So I can imagine the joy on Paul’s face when he closed the letter of Philippians, probably written from Rome, with this zinger: “All the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22).

Especially those in Caesar’s household? How did they become God’s children? One possibility is that Paul was guarded by the Praetorian Guard, elite Roman soldiers who took shifts watching him. Perhaps each one heard the gospel from Paul, so he could say that “everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ” (1:13). Some of these soldiers believed in Jesus, and they spread the good news throughout the palace. Notoriously wicked Nero, who would set Rome on fire and blame the Christians, could not stop his own “household” from following Christ.

The same God who reached Paul and through him into Nero’s household is also able to save those you long to see receive salvation. Ask God to move past their defences and change them from the inside out. Someday you may joyfully write your own message, “All of God’s people greet you, especially _________ .”

Yes, God can reach anyone.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Acts 27:27-44

MORE
Read Eph. 3:14-21 and reflect on why no one is too far from God’s reach. 
NEXT
Write down the name of someone you think is unlikely to believe in Jesus. Pray for that person. How does Paul’s conversion encourage you? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Serve and Be Served

November 17, 2017 

READ: Philippians 4:10–19 

You were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  Philippians 4:10

 

Marilyn had been ill for many weeks, and many people had encouraged her through this difficult time. How will I ever repay all their kindnesses? she worried. Then one day she read the words of a written prayer: “Pray that [others] will develop humility, allowing them not only to serve, but also to be served.” Marilyn suddenly realized there was no need to balance any scale, but just to be thankful and allow others to experience the joy of serving.

In Philippians 4, the apostle Paul expressed his gratitude for all those who shared “in [his] troubles” (v. 14). He depended on people to support him as he preached and taught the gospel. He understood that the gifts provided for him when he was in need were simply an extension of people’s love for God: “[Your gifts] are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (v. 18).

It may not be easy to be the one on the receiving end—especially if you’ve usually been the first one to help other people. But with humility, we can allow God to gently care for us by a variety of means when we need help.

Paul wrote, “My God will meet all your needs” (v. 19). It was something he had learned during a life of trials. God is faithful and His provision for us has no limits.

— Cindy Hess Kasper

Dear Lord, thank You for caring for us through Your people. May we graciously give and receive help.


Receive love. Give love. Repeat.