Entries by YMI

ODB: Waiting To Cheer

May 10, 2013 

READ: Ephesians 3:14-21 

. . . to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. —Ephesians 3:19 

In his very first Little League baseball game, a young player on the team I was coaching got hit in the face with a ball. He was not hurt but was understandably shaken. For the rest of the season, he was afraid of the ball. Game after game, he bravely tried, but he just couldn’t seem to hit the ball.

In our final game, we were hopelessly behind, with nothing to cheer about. Then that young man stepped up to take his turn. Thwack! To everyone’s surprise, he hit the ball sharply! His teammates went wild; his parents and his teammates’ parents cheered loudly. Even though we were still losing the game, I was jumping up and down! We all loved this kid and cheered him on.

I imagine that the Lord cheers us on in our lives as well. He loves us deeply and desires that we “may be able to comprehend . . . what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19).

Some think of the Lord as unloving and waiting for us to slip up so He can punish us. So we have the privilege of telling them of His deep love for them. Imagine their joy when they hear about the God who loves them so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for their sin and who wants to cheer them on!

— Randy Kilgore

Help us, heavenly Father, to see the many
ways You love and encourage us; then help
us to love and encourage those around
us so that they can see You in us.

The nail-pierced hands of Jesus
reveal the love-filled heart of God. 

ODJ: my greatest enemy

May 10, 2013 

READ: Galatians 5:16-26 

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives (v.25).

A Christian leader was once asked: “Who is your greatest enemy?” He replied, “Every morning I see him in the mirror.” Perhaps that’s the real reason why some of us are facing challenges in our marriage, school, work or church. The person who’s giving us a hard time isn’t our spouse, our boss or someone else. We are our own worst enemy.

Today’s reading in Galatians 5 explains why. Review the list of relational woes that Paul mentioned in Galatians 5:20-21, “hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, [and] envy.” The general impression created by these words is an absence of peace and joy, and the common feature is a root of self-centredness or egocentricity. 

Paul says that these are “acts of the flesh” (v.19 NIV). And he goes on to tell us that there’s a better way to live. He wrote, “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (v.16). In other words we need to surrender control. Our conduct needs to be directed by the “Holy Spirit [who] produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (vv.22-23). 

With that said, consider that the word “guide” in verse 16 can also be translated as ‘walk’. Bible scholar Leon Morris comments, “Even though walking was slow and unspectacular, walking meant progress. If anyone kept walking, she or he would certainly cover the ground and eventually reach the destination. So for the apostle, walking was an apt metaphor. If any believer was walking, that believer was going somewhere.” 

How can you experience love, joy and peace in your life? Walk by the Spirit!—Poh Fang Chia

Read Romans 8:3-14 for additional reasons why we ought to walk in the Spirit and not obey the desires of our sinful nature.
What activities will you you be involved in this week? Visualise how it will look as you choose to yield to and walk by the Spirit. How will your attitude, words and behaviour change?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: “Don’t Worry, Dad!”

May 9, 2013 

READ: Exodus 14:19-25 

The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. —Isaiah 58:8 

Last summer, my husband and I hosted a concert and fundraiser for childhood cancer research. We planned to have the event in our backyard, but weather forecasts were dismal. A few hours before the event, we began calling our 100+ guests to inform them of a change in venue. As our friends and family began feverishly toting food, decorations, and equipment from our house to our church gym, our daughter Rosie took a moment to give her dad a hug and remind him on behalf of the kids and grandkids that they were there for him: “Don’t worry, Dad! We’ve got your back.”

Hearing that expression is comforting because it reminds us that we’re not on our own. Someone is saying, “I’m here. I’ll take care of whatever you might miss. I’ll be a second set of eyes and hands for you.”

As the Israelites were escaping a life of slavery, Pharaoh sent his army of chariots and horsemen to give chase (Ex. 14:17). But “the Angel of God . . . and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them” (v.19). In this way, God hid and protected them throughout the night. The next day, He parted the Red Sea so they could safely cross over.

God tells us “Don’t worry” as well. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

— Cindy Hess Kasper

God’s hand that holds the ocean’s depths
Can hold my small affairs;
His hand that guides the universe
Can carry all my cares. —Anon.

Our work is to cast care; God’s work is to take care! 

ODJ: taken

May 9, 2013 

READ: Mark 16:19-20 

When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honour at God’s right hand (v.19).

There are three major events in Jesus’ life that most Christian churches commemorate with special services: Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ incarnation and birth; Good Friday, commemorating His crucifixion and death; and Easter Sunday, celebrating His resurrection—His coming back from the dead. Some churches include Pentecost Sunday as the church’s birthday. There is, however, one important event that is forgotten by most Christians: Ascension Day—the day Jesus was taken into heaven. For some reason our Lord’s return to heaven is not given the prominence in the church that it deserves.

In a search and rescue mission, the mission is considered successful when the rescuers return safely to the home base with the person they set out to find. Similarly, there had to be an end to Jesus’ ‘in-person’ rescue mission. 

Jesus “came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10). His work of redemption on earth began with His becoming a man (Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 2:17). His death by crucifixion provided salvation for all who believe in Him (Romans 3:23-26; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18). God the Father accepted His sacrifice for our sins by raising Jesus from the dead (Rom. 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:14-18; 1 Peter 1:21). The resurrection confirms the sufficiency and efficacy of His death (Rom. 6:4-11; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 3:21-22). 

Jesus was taken to heaven because His work on earth was completed. “Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honour next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept His authority” (1 Peter 3:22). 

Exalted and glorified, Jesus continues His intercessory work for us as our High Priest (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:24-25) and Advocate (Heb. 9:24; 1 John 2:1). And now He’s preparing heaven for all true believers! (John 14:2-3). Are you ready?—K.T. Sim

Read Luke 24:47-53 and Acts 1:1-11 to find out more about Jesus’ return to heaven.
Jesus’ ascension was His exaltation and His return to His eternal glory (John 17:4-5). What can you do today that will give the event the prominence it deserves? How should you help others remember this important event?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Golden Eagle

May 8, 2013 

READ: Psalm 145:1-7 

I will meditate . . . on Your wondrous works. —Psalm 145:5 

My son Mark and I were leaving the Clyde Peterson Ranch in Wyoming to head back to Michigan. In the distance we spotted a huge bird sitting in a solitary tree overlooking a steep canyon. As we approached, the golden eagle leaped from the tree and soared out over the canyon, the golden streaks in its feathers shimmering in the morning sun. Its immense size and beauty filled us with wonder. We felt privileged to witness this magnificent demonstration of God’s awesome creativity.

Creation displays God’s “wondrous works” (Ps. 145:5). And when we stop to meditate on those works, we can’t help but be awed as our minds and spirits are moved to reflect on the character of the God who created them.

That golden eagle told my son and me a story of the creative genius of our mighty God. So does the flitting songbird, the doe with her playful fawn, the pounding surf, and delicate little flowers such as bachelor’s-button and spring beauty. In the most unexpected moments and out-of-the-way places the Lord shines His glory in this world in order to reveal Himself to us. Those serendipitous moments are opportunities to “meditate . . . on [His] wondrous works” (v.5).

— David C. Egner

This is my Father’s world,
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought. —Babcock

Always be on the lookout for wonder. —E. B. White 

ODJ: 65 gifts

May 8, 2013 

READ: Acts 20:17-35 

I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (v.35).

Doug Eaton wanted to celebrate his 65th birthday in an uncommon fashion. When he asked hisfriends how he should celebrate the big day, one suggested that he perform 65 random acts of kindness. And that is exactly what he did. At a busy junction, he handed out cash notes for 65 minutes. According to Eaton, giving to others was the best gift he could have asked for. “It’s been fantastic,” Eaton said.

Mr. Eaton’s birthday present to himself—giving gifts to others—was actually a virtue of Christians in the early church. As Paul prepared to bid the elders of Ephesus farewell, he highlighted this virtue of generosity (Acts 20:35). Along with warning them about false teaching, persecution and the possibility of elders using their position for personal gain, he reminded them of his custom of working with his own hands, not only to support himself but also to meet the needs of others (vv.28-34). 

Then Paul quoted a saying of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (v.35). This saying does not appear in any of the four gospels, but because not all of Jesus’ words were written down (John 21:25), this saying was probably known in the oral tradition of the apostles. Paul was intimating that generosity to people who could not survive without help from their brothers and sisters was a distinguishing characteristic of early followers of Jesus (Acts 2:45; 1 John 3:17). 

Giving to others should be a distinguishing mark of followers of Jesus today as well. God allows us to earn money not just to meet our own needs, but also to be a blessing to others (v.34). Let’s honour our Lord and celebrate our new life in Him by intentionally making our possessions available for God’s service and to help our brothers and sisters who are in need.—Marvin Williams

Read Luke 10:33-35 to see an example of how one person made his resources available to bless someone in need.
What are some of the blessings we receive when we give to others? In what ways will you make your possessions available to God this week in order to bless someone in need?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: We Can Trust Him

May 7, 2013 

READ: Matthew 10:32-38 

Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who . . . persecute you. —Matthew 5:44 

I know very little about persecution. My physical well-being has never been threatened because of what I believe or what I say. What little I “know” about the subject comes from what I hear and read. But that is not true for many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Some of them live in danger every day simply because they love Jesus and want others to know Him too.

There is another form of persecution that may not be life-threatening, but it is heartbreaking. It’s the persecution that comes from non-Christian family members. When loved ones ridicule our faith and mock us for what we believe and how we express our love for God, we feel rejected and unloved.

Paul warned believers that following Jesus would result in persecution: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12), and we know that sometimes rejection will come from those we love (Matt. 10:34-36). But when people we love reject the God we love, the rejection feels personal.

Jesus told us to pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44), and that includes more than strangers who hate us. God is able to give us grace to persevere through persecution even when it comes from those we love.

— Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, give us grace to pray for those
Who seek our harm and not our good;
And teach us how to show them love
In ways that will be understood. —Sper

People may mock our message but they can’t stop our prayers. 

ODJ: true love

May 7, 2013 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-10 

Each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honour (v.4).

When I stopped by a nearby restaurant to pick up some food, a guy and a girl standing in the car park caught my attention. Their arms linked together, the guy craftily reached to place his hand between her legs. My heart sank, and I began to pray that they would know the beauty of glorifying God with their bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

Because the world we live in often equates sex with approval, it’s little wonder that people end up with some very mixed-up ideas about sexual desire and its purpose. Consider the sphere of advertising. Owned by Unilever, Dove’s campaign for ‘real beauty’ has resonated in the hearts of women in different parts of the world. Ironically, Axe, another one of Unilever’s trademark products, is known for its advertisements that make women out to be little more than sexual animals, driven by their inner lust.While sexual desire is a God-given gift, Satan has taken something good and twisted it into a selfish pursuit. True love, however, is selfless and honourable. Paul writes, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other” (Romans 12:9-10). 

Married or single, even those who have placed their hope in Jesus will experience sexual temptation. And living in purity doesn’t simply mean keeping one’s clothes on during a date. It begins with the heart (Proverbs 4:23) and has much to say about a healthy relationship with God (1 Thessalonians 4:1), ourselves (4:4) and others (1 Timothy 5:2). 

When we allow God’s greatest commandments—to love God with everything and to love others as we love ourselves—to seep into the core of our being, the strength to remain sexually pure becomes greater.—Regina Franklin

Read Hosea 2:13-19 and consider how our view of God shapes our view of His commandments. What’s the difference between a husband and a master? (v.16).
When have you faced sexual temptation recently? What lies has the enemy used to draw you into compromise? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Always Preparing

May 6, 2013 

READ: 2 Timothy 2:19-26 

If anyone cleanses himself from [dishonor], he will be a vessel for honor, . . . prepared for every good work. —2 Timothy 2:21 

While my son was home for an extended visit, he knocked on my office door one morning and asked me what I was doing. “I’m preparing for Sunday school,” I told him. Then, thinking about all the time I spend in my office, I said, “It seems like I’m always preparing for something.”

I’m grateful for the opportunities God gives me to reach out to others. There’s some stress, though, when you’re always getting something ready for somebody. It’s hard to balance priorities with the pressure to prepare a lesson, a message, or a document continually on your mind.

This idea of constant preparation intrigued me, so I checked the Bible to see if it talks about the subject. I found that we are called to always be preparing. A heart dedicated to God must be prepared to serve Him (1 Sam. 7:3). We are to be ready to do good works (2 Tim. 2:21) and to defend scriptural truth (1 Peter 3:15). And Paul reminds us that even our giving takes planning (2 Cor. 9:5).

That’s just a start. Living a life that pleases the Lord takes mental, spiritual, and physical preparation. But we don’t need to stress, because He will enable us with His power. Let’s ask God to guide us as we prepare to serve, honor, and tell others about Him.

— Dave Branon

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare. —Thrupp

The best preparation for tomorrow is the right use of today.