Entries by YMI

ODB: The Lesson

February 5, 2013 

READ: Romans 12:14-21 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. —Romans 12:21 

One summer I was at a gathering of old high school acquaintances when someone behind me tapped me on my shoulder. As my eyes drifted over the woman’s name tag, my mind drifted back in time. I remembered a tightly folded note that had been shoved through the slot on my locker. It had contained cruel words of rejection that had shamed me and crushed my spirit. I remember thinking, Somebody needs to teach you a lesson on how to treat people! Although I felt as if I were reliving my adolescent pain, I mustered up my best fake smile; and insincere words began coming out of my mouth.

We began to converse. A sad story of a difficult upbringing and of an unhappy marriage began to pour out of her. As it did, the words “root of bitterness” from Hebrews 12:15 popped into my head. That’s what I’m feeling, I thought. After all these years, I still had a deep root of bitterness hidden within me, twisting around and strangling my heart.

Then these words came to my mind: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).

We talked. We even shared some tears. Neither of us mentioned the long-ago incident. God taught someone a lesson that afternoon—a lesson of forgiveness and of letting go of bitterness. He taught it to me.

— Cindy Hess Kasper

Dear Lord, please help me not to harbor resentment
and bitterness in my heart. Through the power
of the Holy Spirit, enable me to let go of my
bitterness and forgive those who have hurt me.

Revenge imprisons us; forgiveness sets us free. 

ODJ: learning journey


February 5, 2013 

READ: Luke 9:10-17 

Jesus said, “You feed them” (v.13).


It had been an exhilarating mission trip. Jesus had sent the disciples to go to the villages to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (Luke 9:1-6). Even though they brought neither bread nor money, God had provided. And He had worked through them.

Now Jesus was taking them away for a retreat. But a great crowd followed. The Lord welcomed them. He taught them about the kingdom of God and healed the sick. The disciples, though feeling a tad tired, may have enjoyed sitting among the crowd and listening to the Master Teacher as well.

But the sunlight started to wane, and stomachs began to growl. The disciples came to Jesus and gently reminded Him that they were in a remote place. Peter, Andrew and Philip knew the challenge they faced since they were from a town in that region (John 1:44). The disciples suggested that Jesus should send the crowd away so that they could find food and lodgings. But Jesus said, “You feed them” (Luke 9:13).

Clearly the disciples had done their maths. They reminded Jesus that they had only five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men.

Surely, going to buy food for the crowd would be necessary. Instead Jesus instructed His men to get the people to sit in groups of about 50. Though the disciples may have thought this would take precious time away from going to get the food, they obeyed. Only when all the people sat down did Jesus perform His miracle. They all ate to their hearts’ content, and there was food to spare!
Like the disciples, we are on a journey with Jesus. He has much to show us about Himself and the things that He can do through us and with us. And what does He ask? That we simply trust and obey. —Poh Fang Chia

 | 365-day plan› Exodus 6:1-13

MORE
Read Proverbs 3:5-6 for what it means to trust and obey God.

 

NEXT
When do you find it hardest to trust and obey God? What is He showing you these days as you journey with Him?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Just Enough

February 4, 2013 

READ: Matthew 6:25-34 

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. —Matthew 6:33 

I love writing for Our Daily Bread. I confess, however, that sometimes I whine to my friends about how difficult it is to communicate everything I would like to say in a short devotional. If only I could use more than 220 words.

This year when I came to the book of Matthew in my Bible-reading schedule, I noticed something for the first time. As I was reading about the temptation of Christ (Matt. 4:1-11), I noticed how short it was. Matthew used fewer than 250 words to write his account of one of the most pivotal events in all of Scripture. Then I thought of other short yet powerful passages: the 23rd Psalm (117 words) and the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 (66 words).

Clearly, I don’t need more words, I just need to use them well. This also applies to other areas of life—time, money, space. Scripture affirms that God meets the needs of those who seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). The psalmist David encourages us, “Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Ps. 34:10).

If today you’re thinking, “I need just a little bit more” of something, consider instead the possibility that God has given you “just enough.”

— Julie Ackerman Link

I would be quiet, Lord, and rest content,
By grace I would not pine or fret;
With You to guide and care, my joy be this:
Not one small need of mine will You forget! —Bosch

He is rich who is satisfied with what he has. 

ODJ: guard your heart


February 4, 2013 

READ: Proverbs 4:20-27 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (v.23).


Christianity is a religion of the heart. Once God has our heart, the rest of life flows. To God, the heart is central.
A cursory glance at the Bible shows this to be true. God doesn’t look at external appearances but at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He despises religious acts devoid of worship from the heart (Isaiah 29:13). God searches our heart (Psalm 139:23) and wants us to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5). The essence of His law is to love Him and others with all of our hearts (Matthew 22:37-39).
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for promoting a religion of deeds without the heart. They thought they could hate and lust all they liked, as long as they didn’t commit the acts of murder or adultery (5:21-30, 43-48), but Jesus would have none of it. He said that our words and things we treasure reveal the true state of our hearts (6:21, 12:34). And He promised to unleash rivers of life from within after we invited Him to reside there (John 7:37-38).
Our heart is our essence—the deepest part of what is truly us. It’s the wellspring from which our dreams, desires, passions, motives, thoughts, emotions, decisions and actions arise. So it’s no wonder that Scripture says to guard it! Our heart really does “determine the course” of our lives—both here and beyond.
So, guard your heart. Guard it from idols. For the heart is the place where the God we worship speaks. The true God will call you to acts of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), while all other gods—whether money, sex or power—will lead you astray.

So, in the end, we don’t need to build fences around our heart but invite the true God into it, letting him completely fill us. —Sheridan Voysey


MORE
Read Luke 4:1-15—the parable of the sower—and notice the central place the heart has in the story.
 
NEXT
How are you prone to try to please God by your acts, rather than loving Him with all your heart? How will you guard your heart today?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)