Entries by YMI

ODJ: stop trying

June 26, 2013 

READ: Romans 7:14-25 

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway (v.19).

Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as “AA,” is a worldwide movement that attempts to helpalcoholics break free from their addiction to drinking. One of the first things AA leaders tell those who “can’t lay off the sauce” is that they have to come to the end of themselves. In order to break free from their addiction, they have to admit that they are powerless to stop—no matter how hard they try.

Some have felt uncomfortable with this aspect of AA’s approach because they believe it downplays personal responsibility. But that’s not the point. AA is rightly emphasising that a person can’t get free from the addiction through self-effort.

This is precisely one of the points Paul was conveying when he wrote of his personal struggles with his sinful nature. In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul described himself as a “slave to sin” (Romans 7:14). He wrote, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (v.19).

Paul had a big problem with sin, something we can all relate to. We have the issue. But the apostle doesn’t seem to tell us how to deal with it—a reality that can leave us feeling confused and frustrated.

But that’s his point! No matter how hard we try, we can’t get out of it on our own. We need Jesus! He’s the only one who can free us from sins that dominate us (vv.24-25).

Do you have an addiction or obsession that is taking over your life? Stop trying so hard to get free. Surrender! Wave the white flag and admit defeat. Then run to the only One who can meet your need—Jesus.—Jeff Olson

› John 5:1-47

MORE
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9 and consider what it says about our weakness and the power of God’s grace. 
NEXT
Do you view God as condemning or as merciful? Why? What does it mean for you to know that you are anew person in Christ?(2 Corinthians 5:17). 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Country Doctor

June 25, 2013 

READ: Philippians 2:1-11 

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. —Philippians 2:3 

Sinclair Lewis’ novel Main Street tells the story of Carol, a sophisticated city woman who marries a country doctor. She feels superior to others in her new small-town environment. But her husband’s response to a medical crisis challenges her snobbery. An immigrant farmer terribly injures his arm, which needs to be amputated. Carol watches with admiration as her husband speaks comforting words to the injured man and his distraught wife. The physician’s warmth and servant attitude challenges Carol’s prideful mindset.

In all of our relationships as Jesus’ followers, we can choose to think we’re superior or we can humbly serve the interests of others. Paul, the apostle, tells us, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

We can learn to consider others’ needs more important than our own as we focus on Jesus’ example. He took “the form of a bondservant,” and gave Himself up for us (vv.5-8). When we fail in valuing others, His sacrifice for us shows us the humble, better way.

— Dennis Fisher

More like the Master I would ever be,
More of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do. —Gabriel

Joy comes from putting another’s welfare ahead of your own. 

ODJ: unpopular

June 25, 2013 

READ: Acts 28:11-31 

We want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know aboutthis movement is that it is denounced everywhere (v.22).

Chick-fil-A is a popular American fast food chain whose president, Dan Cathy, also happens to be a Christian. Biblical values permeate its 1,600+ restaurants, which are always closed on Sunday. Chick-fil-A also started the WinShape Foundation, which provides college scholarships, foster care programmes, and marriage enrichment ministries.

That leads to the recent media frenzy surrounding Chick-fil-A. Cathy supports traditional, heterosexual marriages. When his position became public, many people accused him of homophobia and vowed to boycott his restaurants. The mayor of Boston announced that he would not allow a Chick-fil-A to open in his city, and even the owners of the Muppets said the restaurant chain could no longer use their toys for store promotions.

It’s not surprising that supporters of gay marriage think Dan Cathy is guilty of hatred and intolerance, for that label has been hung on Christians since the beginning. Most people think Jesus was meek and mild, but the religious leaders of His day told Pilate, “He is causing riots by His teaching wherever He goes” (Luke 23:5).

The apostle Paul was chased and stoned by fellow Jews, for they assumed that his message threatened the dominance of their religion and its role in society. When Paul finally made it to Rome, he invited its Jewish leaders to meet and learn about Jesus. They replied that while they had not heard anything bad about Paul, they knew that the movement he led was “denounced everywhere” (Acts 28:22). Paul didn’t give up, but he “explained and testified about the kingdom of God . . . from morning until evening. Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe” (vv.23-24).

It hurts to be misunderstood, but we must never stop loving people, especially when they’re sure we don’t.—Mike Wittmer

MORE
Read 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 to learn how to respond when you’re treated unfairly. 
NEXT
Who has misjudged your character or faith? How does God want you to respond? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Flight Simulator

June 24, 2013 

READ: John 16:25-33 

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. —John 16:33 

When airplane pilots are training, they spend many hours in flight simulators. These simulators give the students a chance to experience the challenges and dangers of flying an aircraft—but without the risk. The pilots don’t have to leave the ground, and if they crash in the simulation, they can calmly walk away.

Simulators are tremendous teaching tools—helpful in preparing the aspiring pilot to take command of an actual aircraft. The devices, however, have a shortcoming. They create an artificial experience in which the full-blown pressures of handling a real cockpit cannot be fully replicated.

Real life is like that, isn’t it? It cannot be simulated. There is no safe, risk-free environment in which we can experience life’s ups and downs unharmed. The risks and dangers of living in a broken world are inescapable. That’s why the words of Jesus are so reassuring. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Although we can’t avoid the dangers of life in a fallen world, we can have peace through a relationship with Jesus. He has secured our ultimate victory.

— Bill Crowder

Outward troubles may not cease,
But this your joy will be:
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace
Whose mind is stayed on Thee.” —Anon.

No life is more secure than a life surrendered to God.