Entries by YMI

ODB: Knee-Deep In Daffodils

March 31, 2013 

READ: Luke 24:13-34 

The Lord is risen indeed! —Luke 24:34 

When the first flowers of spring bloomed in our yard, my 5-year-old son waded into a patch of daffodils. He noticed some debris from plants that had expired months before and remarked, “Mom, when I see something dead, it reminds me of Easter because Jesus died on the cross.” I replied, “When I see something alive—like the daffodils—it reminds me that Jesus came back to life!”

One reason we know Jesus rose from the grave is that, according to the gospel of Luke, He approached two travelers headed to Emmaus 3 days after His crucifixion. Jesus walked with them; He ate dinner with them; He even gave them a lesson in Old Testament prophecy (24:15-27). This encounter showed the travelers that Jesus conquered the grave—He had risen from the dead. As a result, the pair returned to Jerusalem and told the disciples, “The Lord is risen indeed!” (v.34).

If Jesus had not come back to life, our faith as Christians would be pointless, and we would still be under the penalty of our sin (1 Cor. 15:17). However, the Bible tells us that Jesus “was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25 niv). Today, we can be right with God because Jesus is alive!

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him He’s always near.
—Alfred Ackley © Renewal 1961. The

The empty cross and the empty tomb provide a full salvation. 

ODJ: a new genesis


March 31, 2013 

READ: John 20:1-23 


On the first day of the week . . . (v.1 NIV).


A couple of years ago as I was driving our son to 
 kindergarten, our conversation turned to 
 resurrection. Understandably he was perplexed about what it meant and how it worked. Finally he asked the question for which he most wanted an answer. “Dad,” he asked, “when God raises us from the dead, are we going to be really alive? Or just alive in our head?”


Often we think of Jesus’ resurrection as the exclamation point on God’s work, its primary purpose being to point back and confirm all that the Father and the Son had done. However, John offers Jesus’ resurrection not as the conclusion of God’s activity, but as the new beginning of God’s cosmic action to restore His world.


From John’s opening line (“In the beginning”) we get the sense that he is recasting the creation narrative (John 1:1). His themes of new creation (water to wine, death to life, etc.) continue until we arrive with Jesus praying in a garden—dusting off memories of Eden (19:41). Finally, after Jesus has been crucified and the disciples have scattered and all seems lost, we hear John’s pronounced refrain: “On the first day of the week.” Jesus walked out of the tomb (20:1 NIV). God began His Genesis work, making His world, on the first day of the week. Now, again, Jesus commences a new creation (a second creation), remaking His world on a new first day.

Death has really broken loose in God’s world. We really know death in our marriages and our hearts and our neighbourhoods. And Jesus is recreating all of it, every bit, crushing death and bringing life. Really!


Into every dark corner of your heart, into loneliness and fear and shame, into despair and greed and lust, into ruin and hopelessness and everything that death breeds, know this: Jesus crushed darkness and death. Rise up and live. —Winn Collier


MORE
Read John 20 and note the physicality of the passage. What did Jesus do? Who did Jesus meet? How did Jesus encounter people?
 
NEXT
Where do you most need a new creation? What does it mean for you to open your heart up to God’s new creation?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: You Can Beat It!

March 30, 2013 

READ: Matthew 28:1-10 

O Death, where is your sting? —1 Corinthians 15:55 

The radio ad for an upcoming seminar sounded intriguing. The announcer said, “You can beat death—for good! Attend my seminar and I’ll show you how.” I wondered for a few moments what the speaker would claim could beat death and what his suggestions might be. Perhaps something about diet or exercise or freezing our bodies? After listening a little longer, though, I realized he had said, “You can beat debt—for good.”

The most wonderful news is that we can beat death because Jesus paid our debt! (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Our debt of sin meant separation from God, but Jesus willingly gave up His life and was crucified on a cross to pay what we owed. As Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to the tomb on the third day to anoint His body, an angel told them: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6). With great joy they ran to bring His disciples the word. On their way, Jesus met them and said, “Rejoice!” (v.9). Jesus had risen, and His followers had reason for rejoicing.

Jesus has removed the sting of death (1 Cor. 15:55). Now we too have victory by believing in the Son of God’s death and resurrection for us. Through Jesus’ perfect work, we can beat death—for good!

— Anne Cetas

Dear Lord, thank You for sacrificing Your life for our
sins so that we might live. We’re thankful that because
You died and rose again, we can have assurance that
one day we’ll be with You in a place of no more death.

We owed a debt we couldn’t pay;
Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe. 

ODJ: true freedom


March 30, 2013 

READ: John 8:31-38 


So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free (v.36).


Many countries annually exercise their freedom to literally change time. I experienced this timely change when I was in America a few years ago. During my visit in the spring, I witnessed Daylight Savings Time—a national law that calls for all clocks to be set back by one hour. It’s designed to save energy, and it also leads to lighter mornings for children who are heading to school. Interesting!


In our postmodern world, freedom to change is a treasured commodity. It goes hand in hand with individual rights. We see freedom as the liberty to follow our preferences, the ability to do whatever we want. No constraints. No rules.

Sound good?


The Bible reveals that this isn’t real freedom. In John 8:34 Jesus asserts, “Everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” In other words leading a self-centred life—to do our own will, to follow our willful desires and preferences—will lead to bondage to sin. Not freedom. But if we remain faithful to God’s teaching, then we “will know the truth, and the truth will set [us] free” (v.32).

Satan has switched the price tags in the world. He makes the priceless stuff that brings eternal joy look worthless, while the junk that leads to addiction and enslavement he presents in attractive packaging. We desperately need God’s truth—truth that enables us to see things in their true perspective.

The apostle John, in chapter 8 of his gospel, presents an interesting ‘cause and effect’ pattern. To experience freedom we must first know the truth. To know the truth we must first obey God’s Word. The initial step to freedom begins with obedience. Counterintuitive? Yes. But the fact remains that true freedom is only possible when we live under God’s loving authority. —Poh Fang Chia


› 1 Samuel 20:1-42

MORE
Read Psalm 119:45 to discover where we find real freedom.
 
NEXT
What are some commandments from God that lead to freedom? What keeps you from experiencing true freedom in Jesus?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Shout Of Triumph

March 29, 2013 

READ: John 19:28-37 

It is finished! —John 19:30 

Recently I read about Aron Ralston, a hiker who was trapped alone at the bottom of a remote canyon. With scant hope of being found and his strength ebbing away, he had to take drastic measures to save his life. During a moment of excruciating pain, he shouted in agony and in victory, because he had freed himself and now had a chance to escape and live.

Those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus saw His hours of agony and heard Him cry out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” as He gave up His spirit (John 19:30). His final words from the cross were not a cry of painful defeat but a shout of triumph, because He had accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do.

When Jesus died, He shared in what all of us must experience. But far beyond that, He did what none of us can do. He paid the price for our sins that we might be forgiven and have eternal life through faith in Him.

“It is finished!” was the Lord’s shout of victory because now, through Him, we can escape the power of sin; we can live and be free.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we call the day of His death Good Friday.

— David C. McCasland

I have been to the cross where my Savior died,
And all of my life is made new—
In the person of Him I am crucified.
I have been to the cross. Have you?
—Helen Frazee-Bower © 1956 Helen Frazee-Bower

Jesus died that we might live. 

ODJ: the rolling stone


March 29, 2013 

READ: Mark 15:42-47 


He took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance (v.46).


Jesus was dead—witnessed by His executioners (Mark 15:37-39), confirmed by Pilate (15:44-45) and attested by two high-court judges who prepared His lifeless body for burial (v.43; John 3:1,19:38-39). Jesus was laid in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. The entrance was sealed by an extremely large, round stone (Mark 15:46). It would take many strong men to move the 1 to 2 tonne door. This troubled the women who had gone to anoint Jesus’ body: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (16:3). They had worried unnecessarily, however. For the large stone “had already been rolled aside” (v.4) by an angel (Matthew 28:2).


The Jewish authorities had established additional security measures to ensure that the body remained in the tomb (27:62-66). The massive door was sealed with the Roman seal. Anyone breaking the Roman seal faced severe punishment, imprisonment and even death. A guard of well trained Roman soldiers was deployed to guarantee maximum security. It was very dangerous and practically impossible for anyone to go in or out of the tomb.


But the impossible happened.

There was no need, of course, to remove the stone door to let Jesus out. He could have easily walked through the tomb’s walls or through the stone door (John 20:19,26). The stone was rolled away for our benefit. It was done to reveal that something spectacular had taken place inside the tomb. It was done to allow the women, Jesus’ disciples, His enemies and everyone else to go into the tomb to ascertain for themselves that His body was no longer there (Mark 16:5-6).

The stone door was opened, not to let Jesus out, but to let people in—to let them see for themselves that the tomb was indeed empty! Jesus had risen from the dead! (v.6). —K.T. Sim


MORE
When they entered the tomb, what did Peter and John see that told them Jesus had risen from the dead? (John 20:3-8).
 
NEXT
If you were one of the women who saw that the stone had already been rolled aside, what might your reaction have been? How would you have explained what had happened to Jesus’ body?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: “And It Was Night”

March 28, 2013 

READ: John 13:21-30 

Having received the piece of bread, [Judas] then went out immediately. And it was night. —John 13:30 

During a business trip to Philadelphia, I attended an evening service on the Thursday before Easter—a service of Communion and Tenebrae (darkness) held in a small chapel lit by candles. Following the bread and the cup, a passage was read aloud from the gospel of John, one candle was extinguished, and we sang a verse from a hymn about Jesus’ journey to the cross. This was repeated 14 times until the chapel was completely dark. In silence we knelt in prayer and then left one by one without speaking.

The darkness of this type of service can remind us of the dark elements surrounding Jesus’ death. Think of His last meal with the disciples (John 13:21-30) as He explained that one of them would betray Him. Only Jesus knew it was Judas. “Having received the piece of bread, [Judas] then went out immediately. And it was night” (v.30).

On the darkest evening of Jesus’ life, He agonized in prayer in the Garden, faced a wrongful arrest, endured humiliation at the hands of religious leaders, and winced at Peter’s denials. Yet He moved faithfully toward the cross where He would die for our sins.

Jesus endured darkness and death to give us light and life. Praise Him for what He went through for us!

— David C. McCasland

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown? —Watts

Calvary reveals the vileness of our sin
and the vastness of God’s love. 

ODJ: exercised


March 28, 2013 

READ: Romans 7:14-25 


I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway (v.19).


On all fours with the grass pressing into my hands and knees, I was already backing out of my goal. I had recently enlisted the help of a friend to improve my muscle strength and endurance. On this particular night, we were at a local park doing athletic and aerobic exercises. While my legs were completing the lifting exercises to strengthen my muscles, my mind desperately looked for a way out of having to run the last lap of our workout. I was convinced I had nothing left.


John 14:27 reminds us that when it comes to the battleground of the mind, Christ promises us a peace that doesn’t come from this world’s arena. In the midst of temptation, though, we may find ourselves in heated negotiations with thoughts that threaten to derail our spiritual perspective. Paul highlighted this very tension in Romans 8:6, which says, “Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” While the Christian walk is one founded in faith, God engages our minds as well as our hearts (Hebrews 10:16).


In the battle between flesh and spirit (Romans 7:22-25), self-help strategies and logical arguments fail to move spiritual strongholds. Likewise an attempt to avoid a confrontation with the enemy through compromise will only bring us into further bondage.

Miraculous to be sure, victory arrives when we follow God’s process. Our desperate call to God in our struggles and our choice to obey (Psalm 119:169-170,173), one decision at a time, bring us to the place of authority where we can then take down the “rebellious thoughts” (2 Corinthians 10:5) that stand contrary to the work Christ accomplished on the cross. Like physical exercise, it’s not a one off process but rather a practice for life. —Regina Franklin


MORE
Read Colossians 4:2 and 2 Timothy 4:5-8 to see the importance of training our minds based on the truth of the Word, not only in thought but in action as well. 
NEXT
Why is the mind such a powerful tool in the fight for righteousness? How can you gain victory in your mind?  

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Out Of Context

March 27, 2013 

READ: Luke 4:1-13 

Your Word is truth. —John 17:17 

When a friend started making random despairing statements, people were concerned for him and started giving advice and offering encouragement. As it turned out, he was simply having fun by quoting song lyrics out of context to start a conversation. Friends who tried to help wasted their time by offering help he didn’t need and advice he didn’t want. The consequences of my friend’s misleading statements were not serious, but they could have been. In taking time to respond to his false need, someone could have neglected someone else’s truly serious need.

Some people who take words out of context just want to gain attention or win an argument. But others are more sinister. They twist truth to gain power over others. They endanger not only lives but also souls.

When people use words to manipulate others to behave in certain ways—or worse, when they quote the Bible out of context to convince others to do wrong—there’s only one defense: We need to know what God truly says in His Word. Jesus was able to resist temptation with the truth (Luke 4). We have the same resource. God has given us His Word and Spirit to guide us and keep us from being deceived or misled.

— Julie Ackerman Link

Your words of pure, eternal truth
Shall yet unshaken stay,
When all that man has thought or planned
Like chaff shall pass away. —Anon.

If we hold on to God’s truth,
we won’t be trapped by Satan’s lies.