Entries by YMI

ODJ: why baptism?


April 9, 2013 

READ: Matthew 3:1-15 


But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires” (v.15).


The announcement couldn’t have been clearer: 
“Water baptism is not an option for the believer in Jesus. Please sign up for baptism. Baptismal classes begin in 2 weeks time.” After the service, a young man confronted the pastor. “Pastor, I am saved by grace and not through baptism. I don’t see the need for baptism.”


John the Baptiser called the Jews to repent of their sins and to turn to God (Matthew 3:2). He preached that “people should be baptised to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven” (Luke 3:3). “And when they confessed their sins, he baptised them in the Jordan River” (Matthew 3:6). According to John, baptism is an outward symbol of inward repentance and reveals a commitment to live a holy life.

Jesus was sinless (1 John 3:5), so John refused to baptise Him because he felt unqualified (Matthew 3:11-14). But Jesus insisted (v.15).

Why was Jesus baptised when He didn’t need to be? Did it signify Jesus’ acceptance of the suffering that He would endure as Saviour, foreshadowing His death and resurrection? (Mark 10:38; Luke 12:50). Did it allow Him to identify with the sinful people He came to save? Jesus Himself tells us why He did it: “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires” (Matthew 3:15).

Water baptism does not save us (Ephesians 2:8-9), but that doesn’t mean that it’s unimportant or unnecessary. Once saved, you need to testify outwardly of your inward repentance and affirm your commitment to live a holy life (Romans 6:3-6). Baptism allows you to testify publicly that you’re a believer in Jesus (Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12).

It boils down to simple obedience. If Jesus obeyed the Father’s command, why wouldn’t you? —K.T. Sim


› 2 Samuel 15:1-37

MORE
Read Acts 2:38,41, 8:12,36-38, 9:18, 16:14-15,31-33, 18:8, 22:16 and notice that those who believed in Jesus were immediately baptised.
 
NEXT
What do you think is the significance of baptism? If you haven’t been baptised, what’s stopping you?
 

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ODB: Guard Your Brand

April 8, 2013 

READ: Colossians 3:1-14 

Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. —Colossians 3:14 

A popular clothing retailer requires that its sales clerks dress like the models in the store windows who advertise its clothes. This practice is referred to as “guarding their brand.” The idea behind it is that shoppers will be more likely to purchase clothes because they will want to look like the people they see wearing them.

In a consumer-oriented culture, it’s easy to be seduced into thinking that we can “buy” acceptance by wearing the things that beautiful people wear. Retailers would have us believe that looking good will make us desirable.

Sometimes we even convince ourselves that we can win followers for God by making ourselves attractive to the world. But the Bible is clear about what’s really important to God. He wants us to look like Jesus in our character. In a sense, Jesus is our “brand,” for we are being conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29). We attract others to Christ when we put on His attributes, which include tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (Col. 3:12), and, above all, love (v.14).

Instead of polishing and protecting our own image, we need to be guarding and reflecting the image of God, which is being perfected in us through Christ.

— Julie Ackerman Link

O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. —Chisholm

One of the Spirit’s roles is to form the likeness of Christ in us. 

ODJ: new name, new life? 


April 8, 2013 

READ: John 1:35-42 


Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”) (v.42).


Each year thousands of people change their names.Some of these changes reflect a deep desire for a new life. “I changed my name and it changed me,” wrote singer Alina Simone in a newspaper. “When I think back to my old self, I think of an entirely different person, not altogether likable,” she reflects. That old person, Alina Vilenkin, was put aside. Alina Simone formed a band, tried new things, and poured her “best self” into her new name.


A visitor to one of Alina’s gigs liked her name so much that she took it too! For this woman, a failed marriage had left her wondering who she was. Changing her name gave her a ‘new birthday’—an opportunity to be ‘reborn’.


Life is clearly not working for many people. They want to be released from their past. A name change seemingly offers salvation. A change of name can indeed mark a significant change in one’s life. Abram and Sarai had such an experience (Genesis 17:5,15-21). Simon became Peter (John 1:42), and Saul the Pharisee was later known as the apostle Paul (Acts 13:9).


But there is a fundamental difference between these scenarios and an official or legal identity change—the supernatural. Abram and Sarai were old and barren, but as Abraham and Sarah they miraculously conceived a son (Genesis 21:1-7). Saul had been a murderer (Acts 9:1-2; Galatians 1:13) and Simon Peter a coward (John 18:15-18, 25-27), but Paul became history’s finest missionary and Peter was crucified for his brave following of Jesus. For these followers of God, it wasn’t just their names that changed but their souls—through a supernatural encounter with God. It led to the new life we each desire.

Become like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18), and one day, you too will get a new name (Revelation 2:17). —Sheridan Voysey


2 Samuel 13:20-39 ‹

MORE
Consider the reasons for the name change of Jacob (Genesis 32:22-32) and the nickname for Joseph (Acts 4:36-37). 
NEXT
Why would you want to change your name and start again? Why do you think biblical name changes were important? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: I L-O-V-E . . .

April 7, 2013 

READ: Romans 6:1-11 

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. —Romans 6:8 

My husband and I were at a public swimming pool when the people around us started staring into the sky. A small plane was emitting smoke in the form of letters. As we watched, the pilot spelled out the letters: “I L-O-V-E.” People began speculating: Maybe it was to be a marriage proposal. Perhaps a romantic man is standing nearby on a balcony with his girlfriend and will soon pop the Will-you-marry-me? question. We kept gazing upward: “I L-O-V-E Y-O-U J-E-.” I heard young girls guessing: “I bet it will be Jen or maybe Jessica.” He kept spelling. No. It was: “J-E-S-U-S.” The pilot was declaring love for Jesus for many people to see.

A friend of mine often ends his prayers with “I love You, Lord.” He says, “I can’t help but say ‘I love You’ after all He’s done for me.” In Romans 6:1-11, our Bible text for today, the apostle Paul tells us some of what Jesus has done for us that deserves our love: He was crucified, buried, and raised to life. Because of that, those of us who have put our faith in Jesus now have a new life (v.4), we no longer have to be controlled by sin or fear of death (vv.6,9), and one day we too will be resurrected to live with Him forever (v.8).

No wonder we say, “I love You, Jesus!”

— Anne Cetas

Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy—
His child, and forever, I am. —Crosby

To show His love, Jesus died for us;
to show our love, we live for Him. 

ODJ: cynical


April 7, 2013 

READ: 2 Kings 5:1-27 

Is this the time to receive money and clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and cattle, and male and female servants? (v.26).


I leafed through the book Can’t Be Bought (not the real title). The book told the challenging story of a ‘megachurch’ pastor who realised he had built his ministry on marketing strategies rather than on Christ’s call. He decided he would no longer cater to the crowd but instead preach the cost of discipleship and let the chips fall where they may. Sadly, the book isn’t good. And on the last page the publisher—apparently hoping to cash-in on the success of the book—offered T-shirts emblazoned with that catch phrase, Can’t Be Bought.


I shook my head at the cynicism behind such a ploy. How could they attempt to profit from the very marketing gimmicks the book warned against? Was there no shame?

I was wallowing in my self-righteous indignation when I realised that my motives aren’t entirely pure either. I enjoy helping others grow closer to God, but I’m often driven, at least in part, by what I get out of the transaction. I like being liked, and so I like it when others say they like what I’ve shared. If I’m not careful I can use the gospel as a thinly veiled vehicle to stroke my own ego. If I were more popular, would I be tempted to offer T-shirts with my catch phrase?


In 2 Kings 5 Gehazi saw Naaman’s healing as a chance to cash in. “My master should not have let this Aramean get away without accepting any of his gifts,” he said. “I will chase after him and get something from him” (v.20). Elisha told Gehazi that because he had used his ministry for selfish gain, Naaman’s leprosy would be transferred to him. We should take this insightful story to heart.


Jesus gave His life for you. Don’t use His sacrifice to promote yourself.

—Mike Wittmer


› 2 Samuel 13:1-19

MORE
Read 2 Corinthians 
11:1-15 to learn how 
Paul chose not to profit from preaching the gospel.
 
NEXT
How can you tell when your motives are pure? What should you do when you discover impure motives? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Unseen Danger

April 6, 2013 

READ: James 1:13-25 

Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. —James 1:14 

When I was a young child, our family escaped near tragedy. Most of the main appliances in the house, as well as the furnace, were fueled by natural gas, but a small leak in one of the gas lines put our lives at risk. As the gas poured into our little house, our family was overcome by the lethal fumes and we lost consciousness. Had we not been discovered by a neighbor who happened to stop by for a visit, we all could have been killed by this dangerous, unseen enemy.

As followers of Christ, we can also find ourselves surrounded by unseen dangers. The toxic realities of temptation and the weaknesses of our own human frailty can endanger our lives and relationships. Unlike the natural gas in my childhood home, however, these unseen dangers do not come from outside of us—they reside within us. James wrote, “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14).

Our natural tendency to sin, compounded by blind spots that prevent us from seeing our own weaknesses, can lead to toxic choices that ruin us. It is only by submitting to God as He shows us our hearts in His Word (vv.23-25) that we can live a life that pleases the Master.

— Bill Crowder

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love. —Croly

The unseen Spirit of God is the greatest protection
against sin’s unseen dangers. 

ODJ: content with contention?


April 6, 2013 

READ: Titus 3:1-11 


If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them (v.10).

With its uncomfortable chairs and tiled floors, the restaurant reflected the chill of the winter air. Having recently made the decision to take in foster children, my family sat waiting to meet a 7 year old girl who needed a home. She was accustomed to transient relationships and began calling my parents “Mum” and “Dad” at that first trial meeting. Filled with great optimism, we believed we could make her world different—that she might be grateful and understand the nuances of healthy family relationships. We quickly learned her sense of normal was our definition of chaos.


Paul admonishes believers to be satisfied in whatever circumstances they endure (Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:7-8), but Scripture makes a distinction between godly and ungodly contentment. Because of their own brokenness, some people are not happy until they’ve stirred up strife in the relationships around them. Uncertain about others’ love for them, they attempt to find security in controlling the environment and creating factions.

When we come to Christ, however, He redefines our understanding of normal and healthy. No longer dependent on ourselves, we find that He calls us to trust in His protection rather than our own. But we may not recognise how deeply our defence mechanisms run, and some individuals simply choose not to walk in Jesus’ promise to make all things new (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5). In Titus 3, Paul shows us how to handle relational strife. Firstly, we respond with grace through a right understanding of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross (vv.4-7); we teach, model and warn if necessary (vv.8-10); finally, if no change in behaviour occurs, we separate (vv.10-11).


Reflecting Jesus’ love doesn’t mean partnering with others’ dysfunction. Instead, we must present to others the light of His truth (1 John 1:5). —Regina Franklin


MORE
Read Galatians 5:19-26 to understand more about the connection between our relational decisions and our choice to walk by the Spirit.
 
NEXT
What relationships in your life are filled with strife? How do your efforts in the relationships compare with what Scripture says to do? 

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ODB: No Fine Print

April 5, 2013 

READ: Deuteronomy 30:11-20 

For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. —Deuteronomy 30:11 

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Missy Sullivan noted that many user agreements, warranties, and disclaimers that come with products are nearly unreadable. Intentionally set in very small type, they actually discourage people from understanding them. Because of this, many people don’t read all the terms of contracts before signing them. A university professor of graphic communication pointed to a 32-page user agreement that came with his new smartphone, and said of the company, “They don’t want you to read it.”

In contrast, the Lord is always seeking to communicate with His people in clear and compelling ways, with no attempt to confuse or deceive. When Moses spoke to the Israelites just before they entered the Promised Land, he said, “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. . . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:11,19).

The Lord wants us to understand His plan and purpose clearly, so that we may love, obey, and cling to Him—for He is our “life and the length of [our] days” (v.20). That’s plain to see.

— David C. McCasland

Father, we want to learn and experience more of who
You are in our relationship with You. Teach us so that
we will grow in our understanding of You and
Your plan for our lives.

There is no fine print in God’s communication with us. 

ODJ: in God’s presence


April 5, 2013 

READ: Exodus 33:7-17 


Inside the tent of meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend (v.11).


During a military operation in Iraq in 2003, military
 chaplain Cary Cash served with the American military’s 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment as they battled their way to Baghdad. After the regiment secured Saddam Hussein’s Almilyah presidential palace, a young marine—ministered to by Cash—bowed and received Jesus as his Saviour. Later the chaplain baptised the young man in the inner sanctum of the palace. In his book A Table in the Presence, Cash writes: “A place that had been known for the presence of darkness and treachery had become a place of the presence of God—a table in the presence.”


God’s presence can be found wherever His people are present. But it hasn’t always been that way. In Exodus we find Moses leading the Israelites from bondage in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land (33:1). Along the way Moses would set up a “tent of meeting” to consult with God—to be in His presence (v.7). It’s interesting that Moses had the tent set up outside of the camp.

Then God gave Moses some special plans for a new meeting place. It was called the tabernacle, and it was placed in the centre of the camp (Numbers 2:17). Jesus, however, made it possible now by His sacrifice and the sending of the Holy Spirit for God to dwell in the centre of our heart. The apostle Paul wrote, “This is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory” (Colossians 1:27).


No longer do we who believe in Jesus and have received salvation have to go outside to a tent or tabernacle to meet with God. God is with us! He’s within us! Every struggle, every victory, every prayer occurs in His presence.


Today, remember that you are in the very presence of God! —Tom Felten


› 2 Samuel 11:1-27

MORE
Read 2 Corinthians 6:16 to see what object Paul uses as a euphemism for our bodies and where he says God is present. 
NEXT
How has the fact that God “lives in you” changed the way you live? How does the presence of God affect those who experience it?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)