Entries by YMI

ODB: Story Time

January 26, 2013 

READ: 2 Corinthians 3:1-11 

You are an epistle of Christ . . . written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. —2 Corinthians 3:3 

As a child, I loved it when my mom read to me. I would sit on her lap and listen to every word. As she read, I examined the details of every picture and waited eagerly to hear what was on the next page.

Have you ever thought about the idea that our lives tell a story? In every situation—good, bad, or indifferent—people around us are watching and listening to the story we are telling. Our story is communicated not only through our words but also through our attitudes and actions as we respond to life’s buffetings and blessings. Our children and grand-children, spouses, neighbors, and co-workers can all observe the story we’re telling.

Paul reminds us that as followers of Jesus, our lives are like letters “known and read by all men; . . . an epistle of Christ . . . written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor. 3:2-3).

What is the story that those around us are reading through the letter of our lives? Stories of forgiveness? Compassion? Generosity? Patience? Love?

If you’ve experienced the joy of a grace-filled life that comes from the Spirit of God in you, then welcome to the joy of being one of God’s great storytellers!

— Joe Stowell

Dear Lord, we love You. We want our lives to
tell the story of Your goodness and grace.
May we be a bold witness of You.
Use us in ways we never thought possible.

Let your life tell the story of Christ’s love and mercy to the world around you. 

ODJ: human chameleon


January 26, 2013 

READ: Luke 19:1-10 

“[Jesus] has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled (v.7).


Chinese performance artist Liu Bolin is known as “the invisible man” or “the human chameleon” because he blends himself into his surroundings. To do this he covers his entire body in paint which perfectly matches his chosen backdrop. Liu has painted himself into real life scenes which include graphite walls, supermarket shelves and even telephone booths.
As Christians we sometimes try to walk the line between blending in with the world around us and standing out as citizens of a excessively strict subculture. Becoming worldly may make us ineffective witnesses for Christ, while preaching from a ‘holier than thou’ standpoint can isolate us from people who need God’s grace.


Zacchaeus developed a godly set of convictions shortly after meeting Jesus. Interestingly this was not the result of any lecture from Christ. When Zacchaeus volunteered to “give [the people] back four times as much” as he had wrongly taken from them (Luke 19:8), Jesus celebrated his change of heart (v.9). Although there is certainly a time to confront sinful words and behaviour (Matthew 12:38-39; John 2:15-16), we can be gentle and gracious with people who see their need for God (Luke 7:44-48; John 8:4-11).


Although Jesus engaged with sinful people, He never participated in their sin. He visited Zacchaeus’ home, but He didn’t go into business with him or accept shady money from the “notorious sinner” (Luke 19:7). Jesus had a greater influence on Zacchaeus than what the “chief tax collector” (v.2) had on Him. When we befriend unbelievers, we should consider how we might lift them up, rather than changing our convictions to match theirs (Psalm 1:1).


If we follow Jesus’ lead when it comes to relating to the people and culture around us, we’ll find the right balance between being in the world but not of it (John 15:19). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt


MORE
Read James 4:4 to see one result of friendship with the world. Read Matthew 9:12-13 to see how Jesus responded to the Pharisees who looked down on sinners. 
 
NEXT
Is it more dangerous to get too close to the world or to be too far removed? How can we avoid the spiritual pride that results in harshness toward nonbelievers?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Guest List

January 25, 2013 

READ: Luke 14:7-14 

When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed. —Luke 14:13-14 

Qumran was a first-century Jewish community that had isolated itself from outside influences to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. They took great care in devotional life, ceremonial washings, and strict adherence to rules of conduct. Surviving documents show that they would not allow the lame, the blind, or the crippled into their communities. This was based on their conviction that anyone with a physical “blemish” was ceremonially unclean. During their table fellowship, disabled people were never on their guest lists.

Ironically, at that same time the Messiah of Israel was at work in the cities and villages of Judea and Galilee. Jesus proclaimed His Father’s kingdom, brought teaching and comfort, and worked mighty miracles. Strikingly, He proclaimed: “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed” (Luke 14:13-14).

The contrast between Jesus’ words and the guest list of the Qumran “spiritual elite” is instructive to us. Often we like to fellowship with people who look, think, and act like us. But our Lord exhorts us to be like Him and open our doors to everyone.

— Dennis Fisher

The gospel must be shared with all,
Not just with those like you and me;
For God embraces everyone
Who turns to Him to set them free. —Sper

The inclusive gospel cannot be shared by an exclusive people. —George Sweeting 

ODJ: work


January 25, 2013 

READ: Colossians 3:16-25 

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people (v.23).


The first thing you notice are the nets. They stretch tautly between buildings, hung to catch workers who might attempt to leap to their deaths. This is Foxconn, the behemoth factory in Shenzhen, China, where crowds of young Chinese people manufacture iPads, iPhones and computers for the world. As the nets attest, the job isn’t always fulfilling. 
To be fair the suicide rate at Foxconn is lower than in the rest of China, and waves of peasants continue to leave the countryside for a chance to earn money to send back home. But silently performing the same task thousands of times each day can sometimes drain the life from the happiest soul.


These jobs may be better than anything in their villages, but they still don’t begin to tease out the talents that each worker has to offer. The assembly line is efficient, which keeps the price of computers low, but it’s not the way humans made in the image of God were meant to work.


What if you were a Chinese Christian trapped in one of these ‘dead end’ jobs? Perhaps you would pray and work for your conditions to improve as you took Paul’s words to heart. He told slaves in Colosse that they should work hard, for “the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:24).


Why were they serving Christ? Paul declared that Jesus was the Creator (1:15-17), which means that Jesus is the One who begins the Bible by commanding us to “fill the earth and govern it” and “tend and watch over” it (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). Theologians call these commands the “cultural mandate”, for they express God’s desire that we serve others by developing the raw materials of creation. 


Our tasks may seem insignificant, but as we do them for Jesus, we will receive His reward. —Mike Wittmer


MORE
Read Ephesians 6:5-8 to learn how we can do even menial jobs to the glory of God. 
 
NEXT
How do you serve others and contribute to society? Why is it essential to remember that our work is a sacred calling?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)