Entries by YMI

ODJ: true fulfilment

August 9, 2013 

READ: Psalm 119:129-138 

The teaching of Your Word gives light, so even the simple can understand (v.130).

How many times have you, as I have, delved into sin—addiction, sexual impropriety, gossip, pride, unbridled anger, slothfulness and more—in an attempt to mask the pain of life? It’s so easy to respond to emptiness, disappointment or hurt by turning away from God’s commands.
We find, however, that sin never leads to the peace or lasting fulfilment we crave. Instead, as we take things into our own hands and disobey God, we find only heartache and perhaps even deep depression.

It may be hard to understand how God’s Word can bring satisfaction to our lives when we believe we’re missing out on a human relationship or some material comfort. But it’s only when we communicate with God and place our confidence in Him and His Word that we can experience peace that “exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:6-7) and contentment that defies circumstances (1 Timothy 6:6).

In Psalm 119, the psalmist—who experienced harassment, hunger, loneliness, suffering and enemy attacks—testifies that true encouragement is found in God’s Word. There’s so much to be gleaned from “the wonderful truths in [God’s] instructions” (v.18). Follow the psalmist’s lead by asking God to . . .

• Help you understand the meaning of His commandments (v.130).

• Create within you a desire for His Word (v.131).

• Keep you from being overcome by evil (v.133).

• Allow you to experience His unfailing love (v.135).

• Provide you with right directions for life because He is righteous (v.137).

• Equip you with wisdom that’s trustworthy (v.138).

Cry out to God. Turn to His Word. Only there will you find the peace and lasting fulfilment that only He can give. —Roxanne Robbins

› John 9:1-41

Read Psalm 119:81 and consider how you can “hope” in God and His Word today.  
Compare your trials with those faced by the writer of Psalm 119. What truths from God’s Word can help you face the challenges of today? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Reflections On Windows

August 8, 2013 

READ: Psalm 34:1-10 

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. —Psalm 119:18 

Much of the scenery I saw during our vacation in Alaska was through the windows of moving vehicles. I was thankful for glass that allowed me to see the beauty while remaining warm and dry. But the windows also presented a challenge. When it rained, water drops on the outside obscured the view. When the temperature changed, condensation caused fog to develop on the inside.

Those challenges help me understand why it is impossible for us to see life the way God intended it. Sin obscures the beauty of life that God wants us to enjoy. Sometimes sin is inside—our selfishness creates a fog that makes us see ourselves as more important than we are and causes us to forget about others’ interests. Sometimes sin is outside. The injustice of others causes our tears to fall like rain, preventing us from seeing the goodness of God. Sin of any kind keeps us from seeing the wonder and glory of life as God designed it.

For now, even though “we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror” (1 Cor. 13:12 nlt), we see enough to know that God is good (Ps. 34:8). The many wonderful things that God has revealed will help us to forsake sin and work to minimize its consequences in the world.

— Julie Ackerman Link

Lord, improve our vision. Clear the fog that comes from
self-centered thinking. Help us to uphold justice,
to offer comfort to others, and to wipe away the tears
that have been left by the storms of life.

The only way to see life clearly is to focus on Christ. 

ODJ: cover up

August 8, 2013 

READ: Proverbs 28:10-14 

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy (v.13).

The ambiguity lasted until the 19th century, when Johannes Schulthess discovered a letter written by Zwingli in the archives in Zurich. The reformer’s words revealed that he had been guilty, but also that he had recommitted to living a chaste life.
Schulthess didn’t want to tarnish his hero’s legacy, so he showed the letter to his student and then held it in the flame of his candle. After a moment he had second thoughts, and he pulled the letter away to preserve what was left. He turned to his student and proclaimed, “Protestantism is the truth in all circumstances.”

It’s tempting to cover up a friend’s sin, but ultimately we’re causing more harm if we delay the inevitable. I know a missionary who sexually abused children. Rather than turn him over to the police, his missionary agency brought him home for unspecified reasons. Thirty years later, the now adult women are telling the world what he did. They’re still searching for healing, and the reputation of the man and the agency are shot.

Proverbs 28:13 states, “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” We do our friends no favours when we cover for them or excuse their sin. They need us to confront their sin and pray for their repentance. This may lead to some hard conversations, but it’s what we must do out of love. —Mike Wittmer

Luke 13:1-21 ‹

Read James 5:16-18 to learn what we should do with our own sins. 
What embarrassing sin are you covering up for a friend? How might you confront that person in a way that respects both him or her and the person who was sinned against? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Childhood Beginnings

August 7, 2013 

READ: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 

Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. —Mark 10:45 

Last summer, our church invited a young man to join the staff. As Caleb shared how he grew up in Costa Rica while his family was serving Christ there, he reflected on the words of 2 Timothy 3:14-17. From his childhood, he reminisced, he had known the Bible. His mother and father had taught him the truths of the Scriptures that were “able to make [him] wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v.15). He acknowledged that his preparation to be a pastor had begun when he was still a child.

Our congregation had the opportunity to “meet” his family in Costa Rica via a video-conferencing call. Caleb’s dad challenged his son using the words of Jesus about Himself in Mark 10:45. He said, “Caleb, remember our family motto, ‘We are here to serve, not to be served.’” It was easy to understand how this young man had developed his maturity of faith.

The children God has entrusted to us are precious gifts. A good foundation will help them to develop into mature believers who are “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). With God’s help we can pass on the baton of faith to future generations. What a great privilege to be servants like Jesus.

— Cindy Hess Kasper

Begin to train them early
To fear and love the Lord,
To carry on life’s pathway
God’s lamp, His holy Word. —Fennema

Children are God’s precious jewels— help them shine for Christ. 

ODJ: the King’s speech

August 7, 2013 

READ: Luke 4:16-30 

The time of the Lord’s favour has come (v.19).

The film The King’s Speech is based on the true story of England’s King George VI. After his brother abdicated the throne in the late 1930s, the new king enlisted the help of an unconventional speech therapist to overcome his problem with stuttering. Together they worked to find the king’s clear voice and his ability to deliver a stirring speech that his nation could stand behind as it prepared to stand against Nazi aggression.
At the start of His public career, Jesus gave a king’s speech (Luke 4:18-19,21). To announce and define His kingship, He chose to read from what is now known as Isaiah 61. It’s a Scripture passage that proclaims the arrival of the year of Jubilee—“the year of the Lord’s favour” (v.2 NIV).

For the Jews, Jubilee was a year like no other. As the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land, God declared that every 50th year there was to be a year of forgiveness and a fresh start. It was a year when all debts were to be cancelled, all land returned and all slaves set free (Leviticus 25:8-13).

But the Jubilee that Jesus referred to in His speech was the Jubilee of all Jubilees! It went beyond financial debts, slavery and land ownership. And it wasn’t just for the Jews. Jesus, the true King of the world, was announcing a worldwide forgiveness, rescue and restoration of all that was broken in mankind.

Sadly, the people listening to Jesus rejected His speech. They initially liked what He was saying, until they realised His Jubilee was also for outsiders (Luke 4:22-30).

Most of us who are reading Jesus’ speech today are the very outsiders He had in mind. Let’s stand with our King and proclaim His Jubilee for all!

—Jeff Olson

› Luke 12:49-59

Read John 14:27 and see what God has promised for those who believe in Him.  
How can you celebrate the Jubilee that has come through Jesus? How are you sharing it with others?  

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: The Standoff

August 6, 2013 

READ: 1 John 4:1-6 

He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. —1 John 4:4 

When a local bookstore rearranged its shelves, I noticed an increase in the number of titles relating to sorcery and witchcraft. In fact, the religion section had become a virtual “standoff” between light and darkness. Christian titles flanked one side of the aisle, while roughly the same number of occult books lined the other side.

Sometimes we may think of God and Satan in the same way I thought of the books in that bookstore. We see them as opposing but equal forces with the same unlimited power. However, God is God and Satan is not. God is stronger than any force of darkness. He does what He pleases (Ps. 135:6), while Satan’s power is limited to what God allows. When Satan supposed that misfortune would make Job curse God, God told Satan, “Behold, all that [Job] has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person” (Job 1:12). Satan had to play by God’s rules.

Because God is in charge over everything, as Christ’s followers we don’t need to be paralyzed by fear of Satan’s power over our lives or the lives of the believers around us. He tempts us and tries to influence us, but the Bible assures us, “He who is in [us] is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all! —Perronet

The powers of evil around you are no match for the power of Jesus within you. 

ODJ: multi-hat syndrome

August 6, 2013 

READ: Deuteronomy 10:12-22 

What does the Lord your God require of you? (v.12).

A pastor recently listed 36 different ‘hats’ he might wear. The roles included community activist, theologian, financial advisor and life coach. These roles evolved from the different needs of churchgoers. While it’s important for all of us to respond to others’ needs, if the demands consume us, we may begin to serve people instead of serving God.
To prevent this, we need to orient ourselves around what God desires from us. But what does God want from us? After posing this question to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 10:12), Moses announced this answer: “He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul” (v.12).

God wanted to be at the centre of the Israelites’ lives. They were to respect Him as the owner and creator of everything (v.14; Psalm 89:11). They were to “obey the Lord’s commands . . . for [their] own good” (Deut. 10:13). They were to love Him exclusively—to “cling to Him” (v.20).

Interestingly, their service to others, especially foreigners, was to be a reflection of God’s mercy and fairness to people who had significant needs (v.18). Everything in their lives was to flow from the person of God and their relationship with Him.

Is your life centred on God? Preacher Vance Havner said, “It’s ironic that people who work in God’s name often have the most difficulty finding time for Him. The parents of Jesus lost Him at church, and they weren’t the last ones to lose Him there.”

If you’re losing Jesus in your service for God, rekindle your relationship with Him. Renew your hope and confidence in the Lord today (Jeremiah 17:7-8). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read Psalm 63:4-8 for a snapshot of David’s devotion to God. See Micah 6:6-8 to see what God does and doesn’t want from us.  
Why isn’t it enough just to reshuffle our priorities when we feel overwhelmed? How can we avoid burnout by keeping Jesus at the centre of our lives? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: The Other Eighty Percent

August 5, 2013 

READ: Psalm 69:29-36 

Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them. —Psalm 69:34 

Recently I saw a billboard stating that 80 percent of all life on Earth is found in the seas. That staggering number is difficult to process, largely because most of that life is out of sight.

As I considered this, it reminded me of how much greater God’s creation is than we typically appreciate. While we can easily have our breath taken away by a majestic mountain range or a panoramic sunset, we sometimes fail to see His extraordinary work in the details that require more careful study and examination. Not only is much of God’s creation hidden by the oceans, but other parts are also too small for our eyes to observe. From the microscopically small to the unsearched reaches of the universe, it is all the work of our Creator. In those magnificent structures—seen and unseen—God’s creative glory is revealed (Rom. 1:20).

As we grow to understand the wonder of creation, it must always point us to the Creator Himself—and call us to worship Him. As the psalmist said, “Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them” (Ps. 69:34). If creation itself gives praise to the Creator, we can and should certainly join the chorus. What a mighty God we serve!

— Bill Crowder

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed! —Boberg

The wonder of creation causes us to say,
“What a wonderful God!” 

ODJ: Spirit power

August 5, 2013 

READ: Romans 8:1-13 

You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you (v.9).

Last year a man wrote his own obituary before he died of cancer. The obit revealed the man’s sense of humour, but it also detailed some serious confession. The 59 year old came clean about stealing a safe from a business as a young man and lying about a doctorate degree he hadn’t earned. In death, his secret sins were exposed. His posthumous spilling of the beans revealed transgressions he had likely pondered for many years.
Paul wrote that we don’t have to “think about sinful things,” for “those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feel guilty for unconfessed sins of the past, but that we can be victorious in overcoming the urge to pursue sinful stuff today.

Paul explains that “letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace” (v.6). Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we’re doomed to spiritual “death” (vv.2,6). But, Paul says, “[Believers in Jesus] are not controlled by [their] sinful nature. [They] are controlled by the Spirit of God living in [them]” (v.9). The Spirit has allowed us to be set free from the power of sin and death.

Now, does this mean that we’re impervious to sinful desires after receiving salvation in Jesus? No. Though we have the Holy Spirit within us, we are still able to sin. But He is greater and stronger than any other force we will encounter on earth, and that’s why we can walk in life and light with Jesus.

As Paul says, “If through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live” (v.13). May we live in the Spirit’s power today! —Tom Felten

› Luke 12:1-21

Read Galatians 2:20 and consider what it means to receive new life in Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit. 
How can the Holy Spirit help us when we’re tempted to sin? What can keep us from relying on His sin-resisting power? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)