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ODJ: The Narrow Door

Croissants, dumplings, Thai pork curry, and all sorts of scrumptious cuisine. These delicious fares and more await those who find the Narrow Door Café and venture in.

The Narrow Door Café in Tainan, Taiwan, is every bit a ‘hole in the wall’; the entrance is barely 15 inches wide! One blogger describes: “Once into the opening, you’ll have to skinny your way about 50 feet to the stairs. From there, you’ll climb the graciously wide 24 inch stairway to the second floor. That is, unless you encounter someone coming the other way, in which case someone needs to retreat and start over.”

We read of another “narrow door” in Luke’s gospel. It’s used as a figure of speech and not a literal opening. A person had asked Jesus in essence, “Will the saved be few?” but Jesus turned it around to ask, “Will the saved be you?” He challenged the individual to “work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom” (Luke 13:24) because the door will one day be closed; and once closed, it will remain so for eternity.

The Scriptures reveal that salvation in Jesus is a gift, received by the free and unmerited favor of God through faith—not based on our own effort. So what does it mean to “work hard”? Like the Narrow Door Café, which you need to strive to enter, we can’t just ‘drift’ into faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit draws us to Him and reveals our need for salvation, but we must actively receive Him as our Savior.

Have you entered the narrow door to God’s love and forgiveness? Do you have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus, or is it simply superficial? (vv.26-27). The door is narrow, but it’s wide open right now. Don’t delay. Call out to Jesus and confess your need for Him. He’s opened the door for you!

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day plan: Luke 2:41-52

June 14, 2016 

READ: Luke 13:22-30 


[Jesus] replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom” (vv.23-24). 

Croissants, dumplings, Thai pork curry, and all sorts of scrumptious cuisine. These delicious fares and more await those who find the Narrow Door Café and venture in.

The Narrow Door Café in Tainan, Taiwan, is every bit a hole-in-the-wall; the entrance is barely 15 inches wide! One blogger describes: “Once into the opening, you’ll have to skinny your way about 50 feet to the stairs. From there, you’ll climb the graciously wide 24-inch stairway to the second floor. That is, unless you encounter someone coming the other way, in which case someone needs to retreat and start over.”

We read of another “narrow door” in Luke’s gospel. It’s used as a figure of speech and not a literal opening. A person had asked Jesus in essence, “Will the saved be few?” but Jesus turned it around to ask, “Will the saved be you?” He challenged the individual to “work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom” (Luke 13:24) because the door will one day be closed; and once closed, it will remain so for eternity.

The Scriptures reveal that salvation in Jesus is a gift, received by the free and unmerited favor of God through faith—not based on our own effort. So what does it mean to “work hard”? Like the Narrow Door Café, where one needs to strive to enter, similarly we don’t drift into faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit draws us to Him and reveals our need for salvation, but we must actively receive Him as our Savior.

Have you entered the narrow door to God’s love and forgiveness? Do you have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus, or is it simply superficial? (Luke 13:26-27). The door is narrow, but it’s wide open right now. Don’t delay. Call out to Jesus and confess your need for Him. He’s opened the door for you!

MORE
Read Ephesians 2:5-10 and consider how God has reached out to you by His grace. 
NEXT
How can we know that we’ve entered through the narrow door? How can salvation be a free gift simply received, and yet still require our response? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

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ODJ: Thirsty?

It seems to me that there are three primary things in life that make people feel good about themselves: wealth, good looks, and knowledge. With this trio a person can feel significant (because people will flock to you for good and bad reasons) and secure (because you think you have some semblance of control).

Since I don’t have big bucks and am unwilling to be touched by a plastic surgeon’s scalpel, I once pursued knowledge—the most attainable thing for me—to satisfy my yearning for significance and security.

But I was wrong. The prophet Isaiah points us to the only Person who can truly satisfy us and quench our thirst for significance. It’s not knowledge itself that truly matters, but knowing God (Isaiah 55:6).

God promises that those who come to Him “will find life,” and He “will make an everlasting covenant with [them]” (v.3). This “everlasting covenant” is God’s gifts of Himself and His love, realized in salvation through Jesus. We’re loved, accepted, and declared significant by God who created us.

Pastor and author Tim Keller observes: “As long as you think there is a pretty good chance that you will achieve some of your dreams, as long as you think you have a shot at success, you experience your inner emptiness as ‘drive’ and your anxiety as ‘hope.’ And so you can remain oblivious to the real depth of your thirst. Most of us tell ourselves that the reason we remain unfulfilled is that we simply haven’t been able to achieve our goals. And so we can live almost our entire lives without admitting to ourselves the depth of our spiritual thirst.”

Are you thirsty? Come to God—for His invitation extends to you too.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day plan: Nehemiah 8:1-18

May 1, 2016 

READ: Isaiah 55:1-7  


Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! (v.1). 

It seems to me that there are three primary things in life that make people feel good about themselves: wealth, good looks and knowledge. With this trio a person can feel significant (because people will flock to you for good and bad reasons) and secure (because you think you have some semblance of control).

Since I don’t have loads of money and am unwilling to be touched by a plastic surgeon’s scalpel, I once pursued knowledge—the most attainable thing for me—to satisfy my yearning for significance and security.

But I was wrong. The prophet Isaiah points us to the only Person who can truly satisfy us and quench our thirst for significance. It’s not knowledge itself that truly matters, but knowing God (Isaiah 55:6).

God promises that those who come to Him “will find life”, and He “will make an everlasting covenant with [them]” (v.3). This “everlasting covenant” is God’s gifts of Himself and His love, realised in salvation through Jesus. We’re loved, accepted and declared significant by God who created us.

Pastor and author Tim Keller observes: “As long as you think there is a pretty good chance that you will achieve some of your dreams, as long as you think you have a shot at success, you experience your inner emptiness as ‘drive’ and your anxiety as ‘hope’. And so you can remain oblivious to the real depth of your thirst. Most of us tell ourselves that the reason we remain unfulfilled is that we simply haven’t been able to achieve our goals. And so we can live almost our entire lives without admitting to ourselves the depth of our spiritual thirst.”

Are you thirsty? Come to God—for His invitation extends to you too.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day plan: Nehemiah 8:1-8

MORE
Read John 4:1-14 and consider what Jesus says about living water. 
NEXT
What does it mean to “come” to God? How has God provided our identity and significance in Jesus? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

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ODJ: A Famous Relative

From time to time, stories of people who’ve taken advantage of celebrities in their families surface in the news. Athletes, artists, actors—it happens again and again. John, the cousin of Jesus, had such an opportunity. He could have easily boasted that Jesus was his cousin (Luke 1:36). But he didn’t. In fact, of Jesus he said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30).

When John bumped into Jesus one day, instead of boasting that He was family, John told his followers, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v.29). The next day, when John was with two of his disciples, “Jesus walked by, [and] John looked at him and declared, ‘Look! There is the Lamb of God!’ ” (v.36).

Some people like to say Jesus is the One who solves our problems, gives us healthy self-esteem, makes us happy, heals our diseases, and helps us prosper financially. To present Jesus as the One who came to deal with our sins can be viewed as uncool, unappealing, insufficient, even offensive—for there are those who don’t see that they have a sin problem.

John, however, presented Jesus as the Lamb of God (vv.29,36). He understood that our ultimate need is to deal with our sin—our rebellion against God. Jesus died so that we might be restored in our relationship with Him. Before the Savior was born, an angel told Joseph—His earthly father—to name Him Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Like John, we are now part of Jesus’ family (John 1:12). We’re “brothers and sisters” by His blood (1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 2:10-11). Because He’s the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, we can call Him our brother and Savior!

—K.T. Sim

365-day-plan: Judges 16:1-21

March 13, 2016 

READ: John 1:29-37 


Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (v.29). 

From time to time, stories of people who’ve taken advantage of celebrities in their families surface in the news. Athletes, artists, actors—it happens again and again. John, the cousin of Jesus, had such an opportunity. He could have easily boasted that Jesus was his cousin (Luke 1:36). But he didn’t. In fact, of Jesus he said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30).

When John bumped into Jesus one day, instead of boasting that He was family, John told his followers, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (v.29). The next day, when John was with two of his disciples, “Jesus walked by, [and] John looked at him and declared, ‘Look! There is the Lamb of God!’ ” (v.36).

Some people like to say Jesus is the One who solves our problems, gives us healthy self-esteem, makes us happy, heals our diseases, and helps us prosper financially. To present Jesus as the One who came to deal with our sins can be viewed as uncool, unappealing, insufficient, even offensive—for there are those who don’t see that they have a sin problem.

John, however, presented Jesus as the Lamb of God (vv.29,36). He understood that our ultimate need is to deal with our sin—our rebellion against God. Jesus died so that we might be restored in our relationship with Him. Before the Savior was born, an angel told Joseph—His earthly father—to name Him Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Like John, we are now part of Jesus’ family (John 1:12). We’re “brothers and sisters” by His blood (1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 2:10-11). Because He’s the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, we can call Him our brother and Savior!

—K.T. Sim

365-day-plan: Judges 16:1-21

MORE
Read Matthew 12:48-50 and Hebrews 2:10-18 to find out more about how you’re related to Jesus. 
NEXT
Why do you think we’re sometimes slow—reluctant even—to tell others about our relationship with Jesus? This coming week, who can you tell about Jesus—your brother and Savior? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

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ODB: Lifeblood

Mary Ann believed in God and His Son Jesus, but she struggled with why Jesus had to shed His blood to bring salvation. Who would think of cleansing something with blood? Yet the Bible says, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood” (Heb. 9:22). That, in Mary Ann’s opinion, was disgusting!

Then one day she had to go to a hospital. A genetic condition had altered her immune system, and doctors became alarmed when the illness started attacking her blood. As she was in the emergency room she thought, If I lose my blood, I will die. But Jesus shed His blood so I can live!

Suddenly everything made sense. In the midst of her pain, Mary Ann felt joy and peace. She understood that blood is life, and a holy life was needed to make peace with God for us. Today she is alive and well, thanking God for her health and for Jesus’ sacrifice on her behalf.

Hebrews 9 explains the meaning of the Old Testament blood ritual (vv. 16-22) and the once and for all offering of Jesus that brought animal sacrifice to an end (vv. 23-26). Bearing our sin, He willingly died and shed His blood to become our sacrifice. We now have confidence to enter God’s presence. How could we ever thank Jesus enough for making His sacrifice our sacrifice, His life our life, and His Father our Father?

— Keila Ochoa

February 29, 2016 

READ: Hebrews 9:19-28 

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Hebrews 9:22

 

Mary Ann believed in God and His Son Jesus, but she struggled with why Jesus had to shed His blood to bring salvation. Who would think of cleansing something with blood? Yet the Bible says, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood” (Heb. 9:22). That, in Mary Ann’s opinion, was disgusting!

Then one day she had to go to a hospital. A genetic condition had altered her immune system, and doctors became alarmed when the illness started attacking her blood. As she was in the emergency room she thought, If I lose my blood, I will die. But Jesus shed His blood so I can live!

Suddenly everything made sense. In the midst of her pain, Mary Ann felt joy and peace. She understood that blood is life, and a holy life was needed to make peace with God for us. Today she is alive and well, thanking God for her health and for Jesus’ sacrifice on her behalf.

Hebrews 9 explains the meaning of the Old Testament blood ritual (vv. 16-22) and the once and for all offering of Jesus that brought animal sacrifice to an end (vv. 23-26). Bearing our sin, He willingly died and shed His blood to become our sacrifice. We now have confidence to enter God’s presence. How could we ever thank Jesus enough for making His sacrifice our sacrifice, His life our life, and His Father our Father?

— Keila Ochoa

Lord, I thank You for Jesus and for the shedding of His blood for me. I want to live my life in gratitude to You.


The blood of Christ washes away our sins.