Entries by YMI

ODB: Rescued

January 31, 2013 

READ: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 20-25 

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. —Acts 16:31 

Manuel Gonzalez was the first rescue worker to reach the 33 miners trapped for 69 days in a Chilean mine explosion in 2010. At great risk to his own life, he went underground more than 2,000 feet to bring the trapped men back to the surface. The world watched in amazement as one by one each miner was rescued and transported to freedom.

The Bible tells us of an even more amazing rescue. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, all of mankind is trapped in sin (Gen. 2:17; 3:6,19; Rom. 5:12). Unable to break free, everyone faces certain death—physically and eternally. But God has provided a Rescuer—Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Everyone who accepts the free gift of salvation offered through His death and resurrection is freed from sin’s grip and its resulting death penalty (Rom. 5:8-11; 10:9-11; Eph. 2:1-10).

Jesus Christ is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). He was the first to be raised from the dead, never to die again. Likewise, all will be given life who put their faith in Christ (Rom. 8:11).

Are you still trapped in your sins? Accept Jesus’ gift of salvation and enjoy the freedom of life in Christ and eternity with Him (Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13).

— C. P. Hia

Thinking It Over
What keeps you from calling out to God for spiritual
rescue? Do you fear that you are too bad for God’s
grace? Read and think about Romans 3:23-26.

Through His cross, Jesus rescues and redeems. 

ODJ: let go

January 31, 2013 

READ: 1 Samuel 15:35-16:13 

“You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, . . . Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be My king” (16:1).

I spent the summer of 1992 tumbling, somersaulting and crashing over the waters of a nearby lake. To avoid a grand impression, I was simply trying to learn how to water-ski. The painful endeavor revealed the deep level of determination I carry within me. One of my greatest errors lay in my refusal to let go of the rope and admit defeat when I had fallen. It was not a pretty sight.
 Twenty years later, far from the roar of the boat’s motor and the cool water of a hot summer day, I find myself tumbling, somersaulting and crashing through the waters of a particular relationship to find reconciliation. Like Samuel, I have mourned over what could have been (1 Samuel 15:35). Believing the call of God was on this individual’s life to lead others into His truth, I am left confused and grieved over the events that have transpired. I’ve tried through my own determination to understand, but instead hit the water with a fierce smack. The message is clear: Let go. 

Samuel could have continued to insist that he was bound to see Saul get it right, but God had appointed otherwise (16:1). The option was no longer whether Saul would obey what God had commanded, but whether Samuel would heed the voice of God in releasing Saul. 

In Romans 12:18 Paul writes, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Because Jesus has set within us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19), we’re to do all we can to keep our relationships in right accord with the Word. There are also occasions, however, when the right choice is separation—but only through biblical means and measures. —Regina Franklin

Read Genesis 13:6-18 and consider how Abraham’s decision to separate from Lot revealed the inner motivations of each man and opened the door for God’s blessing in Abraham’s life.
What are the biblical markers to indicate when a relationship is no longer healthy? How must our response to the marriage covenant be different from our response to other relationships in our lives?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Unstoppable

January 30, 2013 

READ: Numbers 22:10-34 

The Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way. —Numbers 22:31 

Under it. Over it. Around it. Through it. Nothing will stop me from doing it.” I often hear people express this kind of attitude when they get an idea or see an opportunity that seems good or profitable. They devote all of their resources to getting it done.

As evidence that this way of thinking may be flawed, I call as my witness a donkey—a donkey belonging to a man named Balaam.

Balaam was offered a profitable assignment from a neighboring king, and he inquired of God for permission to accept it (Num. 22). When God said no, the king’s representatives made a better offer. Thinking God might change His mind, Balaam asked again. God granted permission for Balaam to go with them but with strict conditions. God knew Balaam’s heart and was not pleased with him, so He placed His Angel in the way. Balaam couldn’t see the Angel but his donkey could. When the donkey refused to continue, Balaam became angry with the animal for blocking his progress.

Balaam’s story teaches us that not every obstacle is meant to be overcome. Some are placed by God to keep us from doing something foolish. When our plans are hindered, we shouldn’t assume that it’s Satan trying to stop us. It might be God trying to protect us.

— Julie Ackerman Link

Let Your wisdom guide me ever,
For I dare not trust my own;
Lead me, Lord, in tender mercy,
Leave me not to walk alone. —Reed

God is always protecting us—even when we don’t realize we need it. 

ODJ: risk it

January 30, 2013 

READ: Matthew 25:14-30 

Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! (v.21).

What’s one thing you hope to hear God say to you in heaven? I’m guessing it’s these words: “Well done, My good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). This verse is quoted so often that it’s invaluable that we understand its meaning. 
In this passage Jesus is like the master who entrusted his money to his servants before he went away. Though he will be gone for a long time, he will eventually return and settle accounts with his servants (v.19). Similarly, believers live between the times—that is, between the beginning of the end and the consummation of the end. Despite the seemingly long wait, we need to watch and be ready for our Lord’s return. 

So how can we be ready? The parable presents two positive examples and one negative. The obedient servants took the risk and invested their master’s money to bring the greatest possible return to him when he arrived. The wicked and lazy servant, on the other hand, played it safe and buried the money. His reasoning was deemed as an excuse. The master’s argument is that no matter what the servant’s opinion of him is, whether accurate or distorted, a true servant would act in accord with his master’s expectation. 

Pastor Ray Stedman summarised the parable’s key lesson this way: “Opportunities to display abilities and gifts come to all kinds of people, Christian or not. We can play it safe and get what we can for ourselves—or we can risk reputation, possessions and life itself so that God may have what He wants.” 

Let’s get ready for Jesus’ return by learning to take bold risks for His sake. Then, when we meet Him, we can be sure He’ll say to us: “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” —Poh Fang Chia

Read a similar parable in Luke 19:11-27. How is it similar to the story in Matthew 25? How is it different?
How have you been investing your life in God’s kingdom? Are you taking bold risks or have you been playing it safe? What do you need to do differently? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Red Tape

January 29, 2013 

READ: Romans 5:1-8 

Through [Jesus] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. —Romans 5:2 

The expression “red tape” describes the annoying way that bureaucracy prevents things from getting done. Originally, the phrase referred to the common practice of binding official documents with red ribbon. In the early 1800s, the term was popularized by the writings of Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle, who was protesting governmental foot-dragging. Following the American Civil War, the problem of “red tape” resurfaced as war veterans struggled to receive their benefits. The term denotes frustration and disappointment because of the burdensome hurdles it erects to accomplishing goals.

Bureaucratic red tape is almost legendary, but there is one place in the universe where it’s never an issue—the throne of God. In Romans 5:2, Paul speaks of Christ, “through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” When our hearts are broken or our lives are troubled, there is no red tape hindering our access to God. Jesus Christ has paved the way so that we can have access to enter boldly into the presence of the King of heaven (Heb. 4:16).

Remember, when your heart is hurting, you don’t have to cut through a lot of red tape to present your needs to God. Through Christ, we have full and immediate access.

— Bill Crowder

Thank You, Father, that access to Your throne
has been secured for us by Jesus Christ. We
know that You will not ignore us. Thank You for
the confidence we can have that You care.

God’s throne is always accessible to His children. 

ODJ: squash the beef

January 29, 2013 

READ: Romans 12:12-21 

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:18).

During a promotional event, two 73 year old former football stars got into a fistfight on stage. They had a ‘beef’ (a grudge or feud between friends, family members or enemies) dating back to a controversial football game in November 1963. After one of the senior citizens knocked the other off the stage, the crowd yelled at him to “let it go!” In essence, they were telling him to ‘squash the beef’. 
The Bible is riddled with examples of people ‘beefing’. Cain held a grudge against his brother Abel, because God accepted Abel’s offering over his. This grudge was so severe that it eventually led to murder (Genesis 4:4-8). Esau held a grudge against Jacob because Jacob stole the birthright that was rightfully his (27:41). The wronged brother’s grudge was so intense that it caused Jacob to run for his life in fear. Joseph’s brothers held a grudge against him because he was favoured and more deeply loved by their father Jacob. Their grudge led to intense hatred and would have led to murder, had it not been averted by one of the brothers (37:18-20). Joseph’s brothers were so controlled by fear and guilt that they assumed he would hold a grudge and exact revenge against them for selling him into slavery (50:15). In each of these cases a person or persons had a persistent feeling of ill will against another—the lingering effects of injury or insult. 

Not only is the Bible littered with examples of people who held grudges, it’s also replete with instructions on how to ‘squash the beef’. God instructs His people to love (Leviticus 19:18), pray for and forgive people who insult and injure (Romans 12:14), live peaceably with all people (v.18), leave revenge to God (v.19) and overcome evil with good (v.21). —Marvin Williams 

Read Genesis 33:1-20 and jot down some lessons from two people who squashed the beef.
Have you ever held a grudge? Against who and for what? How did you resolve the issue? How does squashing your beefs bring glory to God?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: The Good Old Days

January 28, 2013 

READ: Psalm 143:1-6 

I remember the days of old. —Psalm 143:5 

Sometimes our minds run back through the years and yearn for that better time and place—the “good old days.”

But for some, the past harbors only bitter memories. Deep in the night, they ponder their own failures, disillusionments, and fantasies, and think of the cruel hand life has dealt them.

It’s better to remember the past as David did, by contemplating the good that God has done, to “meditate on all [His] works; . . . muse on the work of [His] hands” (Ps. 143:5). As we call to mind the lovingkindness of the Lord, we can see His blessings through the years. These are the memories that foster the highest good. They evoke a deep longing for more of God and more of His tender care. They transform the past into a place of familiarity and fellowship with our Lord.

I heard a story about an elderly woman who would sit in silence for hours in her rocking chair, hands folded in her lap, eyes gazing off into the far distance. One day her daughter asked, “Mother, what do you think about when you sit there so quietly?” Her mother replied softly with a twinkle in her eye, “That’s just between Jesus and me.”

I pray that our memories and meditations would draw us into His presence.

— David H. Roper

I have promised you My presence
With you everywhere you go;
I will never, never leave you
As you travel here below. —Rose

Fellowship with Christ is the secret
of happiness now and forever. 

ODJ: faith and death

January 28, 2013 

READ: Jonah 1:17-2:10 

I called to [God] from the land of the dead (2:2).

One of the most powerful scenes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is the time when the fellowship must go through the mines of Moria, into the dark caverns underneath the mountain. They descend into this subterranean world where many had died from the evil powers lurking beneath the earth. Fearful, Frodo wondered if they must travel into this harrowing place. Gandalf told him and his companions that it was the only way. 
In Scripture we discover the truth that though God intends life for us, death must come first. Jonah encountered this reality. He was running from God, and his running ended with him being tossed overboard into the raging sea. In an ironic twist, however, we’re told that “the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah” (1:17 NIV). Familiar with this Scripture, we tend to think Jonah felt relief here, relief at being rescued. Jonah, however, didn’t know the conclusion. All he knew was that he was drowning in the raging ocean, only to be swallowed by a massive fish. No matter how dangerous the sea, few of us would consider being gobbled up by a huge creature to be good news.

Yet this was God’s way of providing for Jonah. God sent death to swallow him up, and Jonah prayed to God from his death riddled space. Jonah prayed from sheol, the Old Testament word for the place where life has been completely snuffed out (2:2 NAS). “From deep in the realm of the dead,” Jonah cried, “I called for help” (v.2 NIV). God heard Jonah and brought him back to life, where he could pray: “My salvation comes from the Lord alone” (v.9). 

Our faith doesn’t keep us from death. Rather, our faith leads us into death, conquers death and then leads us back into life again. —Winn Collier

Read John 19:17-30. What does it mean to know that Jesus went into death for you? How is this like (and unlike) the death we must enter with Jesus, before we emerge alive with Him? 
Are there areas of your life where you’re resisting the call to die? What might be keeping you from trusting that God’s intentions are to lead you to life? Why is it true that all work is sacred? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: The Mark Of Leadership

January 27, 2013 

READ: Mark 10:35-45 

Whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. —Mark 10:44 

While visiting the campus of Purdue University on a frigid winter day, I came upon two young men chipping away thick ice on the sidewalk next to a fraternity house. Thinking they must be underclassmen who had been assigned the tough job by older fraternity brothers, I said, “They didn’t tell you about this when you joined, did they?” One looked up with a smile and said, “Well, we’re both upperclassmen. I’m the fraternity vice-president and my friend here is the president.” I thanked them for their hard work and went on my way having been reminded that serving others is the mark of a true leader.

When two of Jesus’ disciples asked Him for positions of honor in His coming kingdom, the Lord gathered His twelve closest followers and told them, “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44). If there was any doubt about what Jesus meant, He reminded them that He had not come to be served but to serve others and to give His life to ransom them from the power of sin (v.45).

The mark of true, godly leadership is not power and privilege, but humble service. God gives us strength to follow Jesus’ example and to lead His way.

— David C. McCasland

The paths of leadership are trod
By those who humbly walk with God,
Their gracious spirit holds a sway
That makes you want to go their way. —D. DeHaan

A qualified leader is one who has learned to serve.