Entries by YMI

ODB: Like Jesus

January 24, 2013 

READ: 1 John 2:5-11 

He who says he abides in [Jesus] ought himself also to walk just as He walked. —1 John 2:6 

During a children’s church service, the teacher talked about the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). She suggested some ways for the kids to keep this command. She said, “Nothing should come before God—not candy, not schoolwork, not video games.” She told them that putting God first meant that time with Him reading the Bible and praying should come before anything else.

An older child in the group responded with a thought-provoking question. She asked if being a Christian was about keeping rules or if instead God wanted to be involved in all areas of our life.

Sometimes we make the mistake of viewing the Bible as a list of rules. Certainly obeying God (John 14:21) and spending time with Him are important, but not because we need to be rule-keepers. Jesus and the Father had a loving relationship. When we have a relationship with God, we desire to spend time with Him and obey Him so we can become more like Jesus. John said, “He who says he abides in [Jesus] ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). He’s the example we can follow.

When we want to understand how to love, or how to be humble, or how to have faith, or even how to set our priorities, we can look at Jesus and follow His heart.

— Anne Cetas

Lord, as I look ahead to another day, I give myself
to be led by Your Spirit. Give discernment in
priorities, but most of all a sensitive heart to live like
Jesus did—filled with Your love and power. Amen.

Jesus calls us to follow Him. 

ODJ: serve your oppressor


January 24, 2013 

READ: Matthew 5:38-42 

Do not resist an evil person! (v.39).


A few years ago some young men stole my car. They crashed it, damaging it beyond repair, and I was never compensated for it. I even had to pay to have the car towed away from the crash site! By rights, those thieves should have replaced what they stole. 
That type of justice was reflected in the Old Testament rule of “eye for eye” and “tooth for tooth” (Exodus 21:24; Matthew 5:38). The law taught that people had a right to expect in return exactly what was taken from them. Jesus, however, called His followers to something more radical. “Do not resist an evil person!” (v.39). He gave four illustrations of what He meant:


An insulting slap to the face was prosecutable under Jewish and Roman law. Jesus said not to slap back or prosecute (v.39). Jewish law ensured the protection of one’s clothes (Exodus 22:26-27). But Jesus said that if one’s shirt was stolen, offer your coat too (Matthew 5:40). Roman soldiers could commandeer any citizen for work. Jesus said to not simply do what the oppressor asks, but to do even more (v.41). People who had no ‘right’ to ask for money will ask for it. Jesus said we are not to evade them, but give to them (v.42).


Jesus wasn’t saying that evil should be rewarded or that self-defence is wrong. Neither was He offering laws to be followed rigidly. What He was advocating is this: Forgo all retaliation and seek the best for those who harm you. Your oppressor may have a legitimate need for a shirt, money or help—overlook their wrong and serve them. Your oppressor may simply be evil, but your contrasting behaviour may jolt him or her to repentance (Romans 12:17-21).


I wonder what might have happened if I’d been able to meet the youths who stole my car, discover their real needs . . . and serve them. —Sheridan Voysey


MORE
Read Isaiah 50:6, Mark 14:65, 15:16-20 to see how Jesus followed His own example of nonretaliatory service to His oppressors.
 
NEXT
How is someone treating you badly at the moment? How might you creatively serve them in the spirit of Jesus?
 

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ODB: Wholesome Words

January 23, 2013 

READ: Ephesians 4:25-32 

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. —Ephesians 4:29 

A while back, an Emmy award-winning actress took a courageous stand and walked out in the middle of the Annual American Music Awards ceremony. Her reason? She grew increasingly upset and disappointed by what she described as “an onslaught of lewd jokes and off-color remarks” and raw and raunchy comments by presenters, performers, and hosts. She said the evening was an affront to anyone with a shred of dignity and self-respect.

Unwholesome speech was a problem even in the apostle Paul’s day. He reminded the Christians at Ephesus that they should put away vulgarity, lewdness, slander, and obscene talk from their lives (Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:8). These were expressions of their old lives (1 Cor. 6:9-11), and it was now out of place with their new identity in Christ. Instead, their lives were to be characterized by wholesome speech. Their good or wholesome words would give grace to the hearers (Eph. 4:29). The Holy Spirit would help guard their speech, convict of any filthy talk, and help them to use words to benefit others (John 16:7-13).

We are called to reflect God with all we are, and that includes our words. May our mouths be filled with thanksgiving and words that benefit others.

— Marvin Williams

Holy Spirit, we need Your help. Guard our hearts
and minds today. Help us control our thoughts and
words so that we might lift others up and show them
who You are and what You’ve done in us. Amen.

Wholesome words flow out of a life made new. 

ODJ: dinner and a sinner


January 23, 2013 

READ: Luke 7:36-50 

When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (v.39).


Several years ago, while on holiday in America, my family noticed a large crowd forming in front of a popular theater. The word on the street was that Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State at the time, was coming to the theater that evening to watch a play. We quickly learned that watching high-ranking public officials come and go was a favourite pastime of tourists.
In Jesus’ day the locals often lingered around the banquet halls and homes of public figures. Once, as Jesus attended a meal hosted by a Pharisee named Simon, a local woman approached Him, washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her hair and anointed them with a costly perfume (Luke 7:36-39). 


Her actions were a stunning gesture of humility and love. Simon (the Pharisee), however, didn’t get it. In his thoughts, he disregarded Jesus for appearing to be unaware of the woman’s immoral reputation (v.39). Little did he know that Jesus knew everything about her and that, before dinner was over, Jesus would graciously invite Simon to see that he was no different.


Simon considered the woman kneeling at Jesus’ feet to be an especially depraved sinner. But Jesus went on to make it clear to Simon that he was just like this woman, for he too needed to be forgiven. He was just as spiritually bankrupt as she, except that she ‘got it’ and humbly turned to Jesus—offering Him a deep gesture of love (vv.41-47). 


Blinded by his selfishness, Simon not only missed seeing his own need for forgiveness, but he didn’t understand who Jesus was. The One he had invited to dinner was and is the God who offers forgiveness and peace to all, no matter what they’ve done (vv.48-50). —Jeff Olson


MORE
How well do you understand who Jesus is? In what ways do you identify with the woman who washed His feet? With Simon?
 
NEXT
Why do we struggle to choose grace in moments of frustration? What’s at the root of our desire to make our frustrations or hurt known to those who have wronged us?
 

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