Entries by YMI

ODJ: the body of Christ

May 15, 2013 

READ: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 

Our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where He wants it (v.18).

Two nights before I moved to Africa 5 years ago, I panicked. As much as I believed the Lord was calling me to Uganda, I feared that by going there I would forfeit my friends back home. I thought they would forget me and that we’d quickly share nothing in common after I journeyed to a new continent, culture and life.

To take my step of faith I had to cling once again to Romans 15:13, embracing the promise that God, the source of hope, would fill me “completely with joy and peace” as I trusted in Him. The verse also acknowledges that He will fill me with an overflowing amount of “confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit”.

When I touched ground in East Africa, I leaped into work and ministry. Amid the challenges and suffering I experienced, I had little time to think about things back home. Amazingly (though in hindsight, not surprisingly in God’s economy), the more I poured into the hurting people in Uganda, the more the body of Christ back home connected with me—even when I was poor in my correspondence. They came alongside me in a profound way. They gave. They prayed. They joined me in loving the Ugandan people. As we served together, despite the long distance between us, we became closer to each other and, most importantly, to the Lord. 

All of us “together are Christ’s body” states 1 Corinthians 12:27. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honoured, all the parts are glad” (v.26).

Today, remember your brothers and sisters who are serving far away from you, as well as those serving in your own backyard. Reveal the depth of love, teamwork and strength of the body of Christ to them.—Roxanne Robbins

As you’ve taken steps of faith that may have cost you friends or comforts, how did you experience the love of Christ that is “too great to understand fully”? (Ephesians 3:19).
Invite the believers in your life to pray for you as you take a step of faith. How can you better encourage and support those who are serving God in challenging places?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Becoming

May 14, 2013 

READ: Luke 2:41-52 

Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. —Luke 2:52 

I grew up in a small town. No famous people. No busy streets. Not much to do. Yet I’ve always been thankful for my quiet, uncomplicated upbringing.

One evening when my husband and I were attending a business dinner, a new acquaintance asked me where I was from. When I told her, she said, “Aren’t you embarrassed to admit it?”

Unsure whether or not she was joking, I simply said, “No.”

Although my town was sometimes belittled for its lack of sophistication, it was not lacking in things that matter. My family was part of a church community in which parents brought up children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Jesus also grew up in a small town: Nazareth. A man named Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Jesus proved that the answer is yes. Even though He grew up in an insignificant place, He was the most significant person in all of history.

Experience taught me and Scripture confirms that what matters is not where you grow up but how you grow up. Sometimes we feel insignificant compared to sophisticated people from prominent places. But we are significant to God, and He can make us strong in spirit and filled with His wisdom.

— Julie Ackerman Link

O teach me what it cost You, Lord,
To make a sinner whole;
And help me understand anew
The value of one soul! —Anon.

What we become is more important than where we’re from. 

ODJ: untethered

May 14, 2013 

READ: Judges 6:1-32 

I told you, “I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.” But you have not listened to Me (v.10).

Nik Wallenda became the first man to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. During this amazing accomplishment, the television network that broadcast the event insisted that Wallenda wear a tether, so even if he had slipped he would not have plummeted to his death. Nik protested, but reluctantly agreed to use the tether. I’m glad he did, especially for the sake of his wife and children—but for some it may have diminished his accomplishment a bit.

Wallenda seemed to realise this, for in his celebratory interview he said, “I had a tether but I didn’t use it.” Actually he did, for the tether still provided valuable insurance. It supplied confidence as he walked through the swirling mist. Would he have been as surefooted if he knew that one false step or gust of wind could have swept him to his death?

It’s great to have a backup plan, but having a tether that guarantees physical safety is the surest path to our spiritual death. The Israelites had a ‘tether’. They worshipped Yahweh, but they also hedged their bets by praying to pagan gods. They assumed that the God who delivered them from Egypt would continue to provide, but they figured it didn’t hurt to have a plan B. 

Poor Gideon didn’t understand why the Israelites were starving. “If the Lord is with us,” he asked the angel of the Lord, “why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13). The angel told Gideon to cut the tether. He needed to destroy his father’s altar to Baal before he fought the Midianites (v.25). And to make sure he got the point, he whittled down Gideon’s army to 300 men (Judges 7:7).No backup plan or tether can compete with Jesus. Trust in Him alone.

—Mike Wittmer

Read Isaiah 46:1-13 to learn the difference between the true God and His inferior competitors.
If God were to stop answering your prayers and providing for your needs, how long wouldit take before you noticed? What is your tether today? How will you remove it?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Tulip Day

May 13, 2013 

READ: Matthew 6:25-34 

Consider the lilies of the field . . . ; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. —Matthew 6:28-29 

Several countries around the world celebrate Tulip Day to welcome the spring. When I think of tulips, I often think of the Netherlands, but commercial cultivation of the flower began in the Middle East. Today these colorful flowers span the globe. An estimated 109 species of tulips now grace parks, thoroughfares, and home gardens all around the world.

Last fall I planted some tulip bulbs. Several months later, they bloomed with vivid colors, announcing the coming of spring. They reminded me that summer was on the way and with it will come even more flowers to delight the eye.

Flowers are wonderful reminders to me of the grace of God in our lives. Our Lord used lilies of the field to remind us of the provision of our heavenly Father. In His great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field . . . ; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. . . . Will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 6:28-30).

Tulips alert us to the end of winter and the beginning of spring. But like the lilies of the field, they can also remind us of the One upon whom we can depend to provide food, clothing, and shelter.

— Dennis Fisher

In trees and flowers of the field,
In creatures large and small,
We trace the watchful care of Him
Who planned and made them all. —King

If Jesus is concerned about flowers and birds,
He certainly cares about you and me. 

ODJ: obvious passion

May 13, 2013 

READ: Daniel 6:1-22 

[They] found [Daniel] praying and asking for God’s help (v.11).

There’s a lady down the street who’s crazy about flowers. At the first sign of spring she crowds her porch with clay pots containing seedlings. Blooms fill her garden in a rainbow procession all summer long. Daffodils and tulips perform like dancers in a chorus line. Sweet-scented peonies bob in the breeze. Later in the season towering hollyhocks and cheerful daisies take their turn in the spotlight. This woman proclaims her passion to every passerby without saying a word.

We can also go public with our passion for God and His ways through our everyday activities. Many of us work with nonbelievers. This was the case with Daniel—he was an administrator for the pagan King Darius. Daniel not only had skill in this area, but “he was faithful, always responsible and completely trustworthy” (Daniel 6:4). Daniel’s uprightness reflected God’s integrity to others (2 Chronicles 19:6-7). 

Daniel’s co-workers scrutinised his every step to try to disqualify him from an important promotion. Because he had a clean work record, they turned to his private life—namely his spiritual practises. They outlawed prayer to anyone but Darius and then “went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help” (Daniel 6:11). As a result Daniel had to spend a night in the lions’ den; but not before King Darius said, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you” (v.16). And God did just that (v.22).

Daniel’s daily habits proclaimed his passion for God, and ours can too. His devotion became contagious. King Darius came to believe in God, declaring, “He is the living God . . . . He rescues and saves His people . . . . He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions” (vv.26-27).—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

See Job 1:5 for an example of a “regular” practice that revealed God’s significance in Job’s life. Read Matthew 26:33-34 to see how actions outweigh words.
What are some ways in which you might show—not tell—people in your life about your passion for Jesus? How can fear prevent you from living out your faith?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Seasons Of Life

May 12, 2013 

READ: Luke 2:6-7,25-35 

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. —Ecclesiastes 3:1 

When I was a pastor, I served many women who were moms. I called on them in the hospital and rejoiced with them for their precious babies who had come into the world. I counseled with anxious mothers and tried to assure them that God was watching over their rebellious teenagers. I stood with mothers at the bedside of injured or ill children and felt their pain. And I cried with them in their grief when their son or daughter died.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, also experienced times of joy and sorrow. What joy she must have felt when the Christ-child was born! (Luke 2:7). What excitement when the shepherds and later the wise men came to worship Him (vv.8-20; Matt. 2:1-12). What uneasiness when Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). And what heart-wrenching grief as Mary watched her Son dying on the cross! (John 19:25-30). But her seasons of being a mother didn’t end with that terrible scene. She rejoiced that He rose from the grave.

Mothers, and all of us for that matter, experience many great joys and intense sorrows. But when we submit our lives to the Lord, every season of life can serve His eternal purposes.

— Herbert Vander Lugt

Thank You, Lord, for motherhood
With all its vale of tears,
For happy moments never dimmed
Through all the many years. —Strecker

Being a mom is a sacred partnership with God. 

ODJ: rabble babble

May 12, 2013 

READ: Numbers 11:1-15 

The foreign rabble who were travelling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain (v.4).

Many years ago I was counselling at a Christian camp when the programme staff began to struggle. Why? Some of the counsellors didn’t appreciate the way the director was leading, so they started to complain. As the complaints spread, more people joined in. By the end of the week the staff had become polarised and the whole camp had been affected by the tempestuous situation.

When we have to live or work with negative and complaining people, it can be draining and downright toxic. That’s part of why God challenged the people of ancient Israel on their complaining ways (Numbers 14:27). But a bigger reason was that His people were rejecting His leadership—they were rejecting Him.

So how did the complaining begin? Numbers 11:4 gives us a clue: “The foreign rabble who were travelling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt”. Soon “the people of Israel also began to complain”. The Israelites had been infected by the words of some foreigners who were merely tagging along on the journey—people whose rotten attitudes were spoiling the whole bunch! Even the leadership was getting worn down. Moses, tired of answering the people’s complaints, basically told God: Please end my life and put me out of this misery! (v.15).

Ultimately God lost patience with His whining, nontrusting, disobedient people and forced them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years (14:34). That’s some stiff punishment!

As we consider this account, it’s important to recognise the effect that complaining, ungrateful people can have on us (1 Corinthians 15:33). Be careful whose words you take to heart. If people close to you aren’t edifying and motivating you with the truth of God and His goodness, it may be time to leave the rabble behind.—Tom Felten

Read 1 John 4:1 to see why it’s possible to be affected by the words of those who claim to be believers in Jesus.
Why is complaining such an abomination to God? How have you been affected by negative, complaining people? What can you do about it?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow

May 11, 2013 

READ: Joshua 4:1-6,20-24 

That all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty. —Joshua 4:24 

Recently I realized that all of the photos and mementos in my office represent the past. I considered removing them, but wondered if those reminders of people, places, and events might serve some purpose beyond nostalgia. To avoid being mired in the “yesterdays” of life, I needed to discover the value of those items for today and tomorrow.

When God’s people crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, He told their leader, Joshua, to choose 12 men, have each one take a stone from the middle of the river, and carry it to their campsite that night (Josh. 4:1-5). Joshua set up the stones as a memorial so that when future generations asked, “What do these stones mean to you?” they could tell them about God’s faithfulness in holding back the water while they crossed (vv.6-7).

As followers of Christ, it’s good for us to have tangible evidence of God’s help in the past. Those mementos remind us that His faithfulness continues today, and we can follow Him confidently into the future. Our “stones” may also help others know that God’s hand is mighty, as they encourage us to fear the Lord our God forever (v.24).

The memories of what God has done for us can become building blocks for today and tomorrow.

— David C. McCasland

Thinking It Over
How has God shown Himself to be faithful to
you and your family? What would help you to remember?
Is there someone you can talk to about it today?

Precious memories of yesterday can strengthen our faith today and tomorrow. 

ODJ: commoner to royalty

May 11, 2013 

READ: 1 Peter 2:4-9 

You are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession (v.9).

It is estimated that 3 billion people watched Prince William, heir to the British throne, marry Kate Middleton. If true, nearly one out of every two people on the planet tuned in to watch the well dressed duo tie the royal knot. While the actual number of viewers was probably much less, still the London wedding was watched by millions across the globe.

Why all the hype? I suspect it was partly due to the fact that Kate was a commoner—as William’s mother Diana was. She wasn’t of royal descent. As William’s chosen bride, Kate the commoner became Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge—and one day she is destined to be the wife of the King of Great Britain. Her life will never be the same. She now lives an extraordinary life of honour, privilege and influence. 

For those of us who know Jesus as Saviour and King, Kate’s story bears a striking similarity to our story. We too were commoners chosen by God to become royalty. To a group of early Christians, the apostle Peter wrote, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). 

Peter’s royal pronouncement is not limited to first-century Christians. It applies to believers of all ages. And becoming children of the King comes with tremendous privilege and purpose. 

Each day we have the honour of representing King Jesus by working for the goodness of His kingdom. Peter went on to note, as a result of becoming royalty, we can show others the goodness of God, for He called us “out of the darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). 

The more we former ‘commoners’ grasp our royalty and go to work for God’s kingdom, the more we will be transformed and overflow with meaning and life.—Jeff Olson

Read about one of the ways Jesus told us we can live out our royal calling (Matthew 5:16).
How have you been revealing your royalty in Jesus? How does it affect our values and purpose when we consider who we are in Him?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)