Entries by YMI

ODJ: Transformed by God

February 23, 2018 

READ: Romans 12:1-2 

Let God transform you into a new person (v.2). 

My grandmother was famous for her cornbread. She poured golden batter into cast iron skillets and slipped them into the oven, making all the grandkids wait and salivate until half an hour later, when she’d retrieve the piping hot cornbread. Typically, Grandma used standard circular skillets, but sometimes she’d pour the batter into a skillet shaped like the state of Texas or one with rows shaped like corn on the cob. But no matter what shape the cornbread was in, it tasted amazing!

The apostle Paul warned against a kind of shaping (or a type of moulding) that can do great harm—the shaping that comes from the “behaviour and customs of this world” (Romans 12:2). This moulding is a force that works on us from the outside, attempting to lure us into ways of living at odds with God and His kingdom.

In opposition to this, Paul encourages us to “let God transform [us] into a new person by changing the way [we] think” (v.2). The word transform reminds us that, in contrast to the external shaping of the world, through His Spirit, God transforms and recreates us from the inside out. In other words, God doesn’t merely pour the same batter into a new mould. Instead, He also changes the batter. God makes us a truly new person, able to resist the world’s mould and become like Him.

The system of the world isn’t merely an alternative lifestyle choice. It’s a way of living at odds with the God who would make us new—the God who would make us like Jesus. But as we allow God to recreate us into new people, we will begin to learn “God’s will” (v.2). We will begin to comprehend God’s mind and heart, and start to see ourselves and our world as He does. And in this way, we will find true freedom.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: Deuteronomy 29:1-29

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Read Ezekiel 36:26and reflect on how God has made it possible for our hearts to be transformed. 
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How is the world trying to push or shape you into its mould? How does God’s work of transformation offer you a different way of living? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Mercy over Judgment

February 23, 2018 

READ: James 2:1–13 

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom. James 2:12

 

When my children were squabbling and came to me to tattle on one another, I took each child aside separately to hear their account of the problem. Since both were guilty, at the end of our chat I asked them each what they felt would be an appropriate, fair consequence for their sibling’s actions. Both suggested swift punishment for the other. To their surprise, I instead gave them each the consequence they had intended for their sibling. Suddenly, each child lamented how “unfair” the sentence seemed now that it was visited upon them—despite having deemed it appropriate when it was intended for the other.

My kids had shown the kind of “judgment without mercy” that God warns against (James 2:13). James reminds us that instead of showing favoritism to the wealthy, or even to one’s self, God desires that we love others as we love ourselves (v. 8). Instead of using others for selfish gain, or disregarding anyone whose position doesn’t benefit us, James instructs us to act as people who know how much we’ve been given and forgiven—and to extend that mercy to others.

God has given generously of His mercy. In all our dealings with others, let’s remember the mercy He’s shown us and extend it to others.

— Kirsten Holmberg

Lord, I’m grateful for the great mercy You’ve shown me. Help me to offer similar mercy to others as a measure of my gratitude to You.

God’s mercy prompts us to be merciful.

 

ODJ: In His Presence

February 22, 2018 

READ: Isaiah 6:1-8 

They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (v.3). 

There I was, shaking hands with the president of Iceland! As my boss introduced me to him at a private dinner I had the privilege to attend, my mind went blank as I tried to remember the few words I’d memorised in Icelandic. It made me incredibly nervous to be in the presence of the leader of a country.

Meeting a president was an amazing experience, but it’s nothing compared to being in the presence of God. Isaiah, a prophet called by God to bring His message of both judgement and hope, was definitely able to testify to this.

Isaiah’s calling into ministry was a powerful encounter with the living God. During this vision, the prophet caught a glimpse of the majestic throne room of God where “[God] was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.” Angelic beings were declaring, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Isaiah 6:1,3). Holy means being set apart from the ordinary, the common and the mundane. Encountering holiness is awe-inspiring and prompts adoration. God’s holiness is unique to His character, for there’s no other like Him: “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Isaiah’s response to this revelation of the Almighty God was fear at the realisation of his own sinfulness. Yet God, in His mercy and grace, offered Isaiah forgiveness (Isaiah 6:7). Not only did the prophet get a new identity and receive a right standing before our holy God, he was given a new purpose as His messenger. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, our sins are also forgiven and we become “a holy nation, God’s very own possession” called to “show others [His] goodness” (1 Peter 2:9).

—Estera Pirosca Escobar

365-day plan: Numbers 22:5-38

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Read Exodus 3:1-6 for another account of a person encountering the presence of God. 
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Since God’s creation is filled with His glory and reveals His presence (Isaiah 6:3), spend some time in nature today and allow yourself to be embraced by the Holy One. What do you experience in God’s presence? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Buckling Up!

February 22, 2018 

READ: Hebrews 4:11–16 

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. Hebrews 4:16

 

“The captain has turned on the seat belt sign, indicating that we are entering an area of turbulence. Please return to your seats immediately and securely fasten your seat belt.” Flight attendants give that warning when necessary because in rough air, unbuckled passengers can be injured. Secured in their seats, they can safely ride out the turbulence.

Most of the time, life doesn’t warn us of the unsettling experiences coming our way. But our loving Father knows and cares about our struggles, and He invites us to bring our cares, hurts, and fears to Him. The Scriptures tell us, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:15–16 nlt).

In seasons of turbulence, going to our Father in prayer is the best thing we can do. The phrase “grace to help us when we need it”—means that in His presence we can be “buckled” in peace during threatening times, because we bring our concerns to the One who is greater than all! When life feels overwhelming, we can pray. He can help us through the turbulence.

— Bill Crowder

Father, sometimes life is overwhelming. Help me to trust You with all the turbulent moments, knowing how deeply You care for my life.

Although we cannot anticipate the trials of life, we can pray to our Father who fully understands what we face.