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ODJ_290216

ODJ: hard questions

One Saturday afternoon, a group of teenagers gathered in a cafeteria to ask one another some hard questions based on Philippians 2:3-4. Some of the difficult queries included: On a scale of 1 to 10, how selfish are you? How often do you take an interest in others too? Would someone describe you as humble or proud? Why?

As I sat and listened intently, it was encouraging to hear group members answering the questions as honestly as possible. They noticed that Philippians 2:3-4 didn’t contain suggestions; they were imperatives: “Don’t be selfish.” “Don’t try to impress others.” “Be humble.” “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

The group agreed that it’s difficult to live out these commands. It’s easy to acknowledge our shortcomings, but it is hard to change, or—for that matter—desire to change. As one teen uttered, “Selfishness is in my blood.”

The desire to put off our sin nature and put on Jesus’ nature can only come from one source—God Himself. The apostle Paul posed these questions: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit?” (2:1). To paraphrase, Paul asked: Are you experiencing the wonder of being God’s child? Are your hearts being comforted by His love? Are you experiencing the Spirit’s help? If yes, then obey God’s commands.

And Philippians 2:2-4 is a great reminder for us every day: “Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish.”

Yes, God is the reason for us to change, and only He can change us.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day-plan: Joshua 3:1-17

February 29, 2016 

READ: Philippians 2:1-4 


Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose (v.2).  

One Saturday afternoon, a group of teenagers gathered in a cafeteria to ask one another some hard questions based on Philippians 2:3-4. Some of the difficult queries included: On a scale of 1 to 10, how selfish are you? How often do you take an interest in others too? Would someone describe you as humble or proud? Why?

As I sat and listened intently, it was encouraging to hear group members answering the questions as honestly as possible. They noticed that Philippians 2:3-4 didn’t contain suggestions; they were imperatives: “Don’t be selfish.” “Don’t try to impress others.” “Be humble.” “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

The group agreed that it’s difficult to live out these commands. It’s easy to acknowledge our shortcomings, but it is hard to change, or—for that matter—desire to change. As one teen uttered, “Selfishness is in my blood.”

The desire to put off our sin nature and put on Jesus’ nature can only come from one source—God Himself. The apostle Paul posed these questions: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit?” (2:1). To paraphrase, Paul asked: Are you experiencing the wonder of being God’s child? Are your hearts being comforted by His love? Are you experiencing the Spirit’s help? If yes, then obey God’s commands.

And Philippians 2:2-4 is a great reminder for us every day: “Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish.”

Yes, God is the reason for us to change, and only He can change us.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day-plan: Joshua 3:1-17

MORE
Read Romans 5:1-7 to help you reflect on the encouragement from belonging to God, the comfort from His love, and the fellowship of His Spirit. 
NEXT
How will remembering the privilege of belonging to God motivate you toward obedience and change today? Where is He asking you to grow as a believer in Jesus? 

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ODB_120216

ODB: Undigested Knowledge

In his book on language, British diplomat Lancelot Oliphant (1881–1965) observed that many students give correct answers on tests but fail to put those lessons into practice. “Such undigested knowledge is of little use,” declared Oliphant.

Author Barnabas Piper noticed a parallel in his own life: “I thought I was close to God because I knew all the answers,” he said, “but I had fooled myself into thinking that was the same as relationship with Jesus.”

At the temple one day, Jesus encountered people who thought they had all the right answers. They were proudly proclaiming their status as Abraham’s descendants yet refused to believe in God’s Son.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did” (John 8:39). And what was that? Abraham “believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Still, Jesus’ hearers refused to believe. “The only Father we have is God himself,” they said (John 8:41). Jesus replied, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (v. 47).

Piper recalls how things “fell apart” for him before he “encountered God’s grace and the person of Jesus in a profound way.” When we allow God’s truth to transform our lives, we gain much more than the right answer. We introduce the world to Jesus.

— Tim Gustafson

February 12, 2016 

READ: John 8:39-47 

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

John 8:31

 

In his book on language, British diplomat Lancelot Oliphant (1881–1965) observed that many students give correct answers on tests but fail to put those lessons into practice. “Such undigested knowledge is of little use,” declared Oliphant.

Author Barnabas Piper noticed a parallel in his own life: “I thought I was close to God because I knew all the answers,” he said, “but I had fooled myself into thinking that was the same as relationship with Jesus.”

At the temple one day, Jesus encountered people who thought they had all the right answers. They were proudly proclaiming their status as Abraham’s descendants yet refused to believe in God’s Son.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did” (John 8:39). And what was that? Abraham “believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Still, Jesus’ hearers refused to believe. “The only Father we have is God himself,” they said (John 8:41). Jesus replied, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (v. 47).

Piper recalls how things “fell apart” for him before he “encountered God’s grace and the person of Jesus in a profound way.” When we allow God’s truth to transform our lives, we gain much more than the right answer. We introduce the world to Jesus.

— Tim Gustafson

Father, thank You that You receive anyone who turns to You in faith.


Faith is not accepting the fact of God but of receiving the life of God.

 

ODB_061215

ODB: The Birth of Christmas

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and then to shepherds with good news for the world (Luke 1:26-27; 2:10), was it good news to this teenage girl? Perhaps Mary was thinking: How do I explain my pregnancy to my family? Will my fiancé Joseph call off the betrothal? What will the townspeople say? Even if my life is spared, how will I survive as a mother all alone?

When Joseph learned about Mary’s pregnancy, he was troubled. He had three options. Go ahead with the marriage, divorce her publicly and allow her to be publicly scorned, or break off the engagement quietly. Joseph chose option three, but God intervened. He told Joseph in a dream, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20).

For Mary and Joseph, Christmas began with submitting themselves to God in spite of the unthinkable emotional challenges before them. They entrusted themselves to God and in doing so demonstrated for us the promise of 1 John 2:5: “If anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.”

May God’s love fill our hearts this Christmas season—and every day—as we walk with Him.

— Albert Lee

December 6, 2015 

READ: Luke 1:26-38 

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Matthew 1:24

 

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and then to shepherds with good news for the world (Luke 1:26-27; 2:10), was it good news to this teenage girl? Perhaps Mary was thinking: How do I explain my pregnancy to my family? Will my fiancé Joseph call off the betrothal? What will the townspeople say? Even if my life is spared, how will I survive as a mother all alone?

When Joseph learned about Mary’s pregnancy, he was troubled. He had three options. Go ahead with the marriage, divorce her publicly and allow her to be publicly scorned, or break off the engagement quietly. Joseph chose option three, but God intervened. He told Joseph in a dream, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20).

For Mary and Joseph, Christmas began with submitting themselves to God in spite of the unthinkable emotional challenges before them. They entrusted themselves to God and in doing so demonstrated for us the promise of 1 John 2:5: “If anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.”

May God’s love fill our hearts this Christmas season—and every day—as we walk with Him.

— Albert Lee

Fill my heart, Lord, with rejoicing at the gift of Your love and forgiveness found in Your Son Jesus.



Reflect on the wonder of Christmas by reading more about Mary and Joseph at

ODB_061115

ODB: He Trains My Hands

When former NBA player David Wood was playing for Taugrés de Baskonia, I was with him at a Spanish Basketball Cup final. Before one game, he read Psalm 144:1: “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” He turned to me and said, “You see? It’s as if God has written this verse just for me! He trains my hands to catch rebounds and my fingers to shoot!” David felt called to play basketball and had learned that God takes us as we are and enables us to do what He calls us to do.

We can easily dismiss ourselves as having little use to God because we feel we have nothing to offer. When God appeared to Moses and assigned him the task of telling the Israelites that He would deliver them from the Egyptians (Ex. 3:16-17), Moses felt inadequate. He said to the Lord, “I have never been eloquent . . . . I am slow of speech and tongue” (4:10). Perhaps Moses had some kind of speech impediment, or he was just afraid, but God overcame his inadequacy with His sufficiency. God said, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (v. 12).

All God wants from us is to follow His plans. He will sort out the rest. In His mighty hands, you can be a blessing to others.

— Jaime Fernández Garrido

November 6, 2015 

READ: Exodus 4:10-17 

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1

 

When former NBA player David Wood was playing for Taugrés de Baskonia, I was with him at a Spanish Basketball Cup final. Before one game, he read Psalm 144:1: “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” He turned to me and said, “You see? It’s as if God has written this verse just for me! He trains my hands to catch rebounds and my fingers to shoot!” David felt called to play basketball and had learned that God takes us as we are and enables us to do what He calls us to do.

We can easily dismiss ourselves as having little use to God because we feel we have nothing to offer. When God appeared to Moses and assigned him the task of telling the Israelites that He would deliver them from the Egyptians (Ex. 3:16-17), Moses felt inadequate. He said to the Lord, “I have never been eloquent . . . . I am slow of speech and tongue” (4:10). Perhaps Moses had some kind of speech impediment, or he was just afraid, but God overcame his inadequacy with His sufficiency. God said, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (v. 12).

All God wants from us is to follow His plans. He will sort out the rest. In His mighty hands, you can be a blessing to others.

— Jaime Fernández Garrido

Here I am, Lord, ready to serve You in whatever way You desire. Lead me.



Dr. Jaime Fernández Garrido is director of the evangelical radio and television program Born Again, author of various books, and composer of more tha


God’s call to a task includes His strength to complete it.