Entries by YMI

ODB: Too Heavy

March 25, 2013 

READ: Psalm 32:1-6; Matthew 11:28-30 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28 

As I started up my car in the dark hours of early morning, I noticed a seatbelt light on the dashboard. I checked my door, opening and pulling it shut again. I tugged on my seatbelt to test it. But the sensor light still beamed. Then, in slow realization, I reached over and lifted my purse a few inches above the passenger seat. The light clicked off.

Apparently, a cell phone, three rolls of quarters, a hardcover book, and my lunch stuffed in my very large purse had equaled the weight of a small passenger, thus setting off the sensor!

While I can easily empty out a handbag, other weights are not so easy to shed. Those burdens of life involve a heaviness of spirit.

Whether the burden that weighs us down is one of guilt such as the one that consumed David’s thoughts (Ps. 32:1-6), the fear Peter experienced (Matt. 26:20-35), or the doubt Thomas carried (John 20:24-29), Jesus has invited us to bring them all to Him: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

We are not built to bear burdens alone. When we cast them on the One who wants to bear our burdens (Ps. 68:19; 1 Peter 5:7), He replaces them with forgiveness, healing, and restoration. No burden is too heavy for Him.

— Cindy Hess Kasper

Lord, thank You for lovingly carrying our burdens.
In times of trouble, help us to leave those burdens
in Your strong hands and to find our rest in You.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

Burden God with what burdens you. 

ODJ: zero hero

March 25, 2013 

READ: Judges 3:1-11 

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he became Israel’s judge (v.10).

Birds of a feather flock together.” I’m not sure about that famous phrase. For throughout my student years I hung out with bright and beautiful people. But I don’t think I’m either. In fact I’ve often thought: if I could be as talented or as charming as so-and-so, I would be able to draw so many people to Jesus.

When we read the book of Judges, it’s like reading a Marvel comic book of superheroes. We find people like Samson the strong man and Deborah the prophetess. In the line of judges (or deliverers), however, is a hero with near-zero information. His name is Othniel.

When we read his account in Judges 3:1-11, it’s written in a cut and dried reporting style. No drama. No display of prowess.

Bible teacher Paul Baxendale comments: “There is nothing but the bare essentials in his account. Hardly anything about Othniel. What you do have is what the Lord has done and what the Lord is doing. The Othniel account helps us to see what is most important—the activity of God. Interesting folk can sometimes obscure that. We end up concentrating on these fascinating characters and we fail to see what the Lord is doing.”

Similarly we must recognise that there is no such thing as a strong Christian—only submissive ones in whose lives God reveals His strength. In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we read, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”

When others look at our life it’s more important that they see God and praise Him rather than us. Let our prayer be: “May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour, so that all may see that I triumph only through Your power.” —Poh Fang Chia

1 Samuel 14:1-23 ‹

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9 and note what Paul said about true weakness and true power.
How does God’s view of weakness differ from the world’s? In what ways is your life a reflection of what God is doing? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Let It Go

March 24, 2013 

READ: Mark 11:1-11 

Say, “The Lord has need of it,” and immediately he will send it here. —Mark 11:3 

Many years ago, when a young friend asked if he could borrow our car, my wife and I were hesitant at first. It was our car. We owned it, and we depended on it. But we soon felt convicted to share it with him because we knew that God wanted us to care for others. So we handed the keys over to him, and he traveled to a church 30 miles away to conduct a youth rally. The meeting was used by the Lord to bring teens to Christ.

Jesus instructed His disciples to take another man’s donkey. The Son of God told His men to “loose it and bring it” to Him (Mark 11:2). If someone objected, they were to say, “The Lord has need of it,” and they would then be permitted to lead it away. That donkey carried Christ into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.

There’s a lesson here for us to consider. We all have things that we hold dear. We may have thought, I could never part with that. It may be a new truck, a coat, some other possession, or our precious few free hours during the week. Will we be open to give when someone obviously needs something we have?

If you sense that the Spirit is speaking to you, let your time or possession go, as the owner released his animal to Jesus. He will then be glorified as He deserves!

— David C. Egner

Make me a channel of blessing today,
Make me a channel of blessing, I pray;
My life possessing, my service blessing,
Make me a channel of blessing today. —Smyth

God gives us all we need,
so we can give to others in their need. 

ODJ: the desert road

March 24, 2013 

READ: Acts 8:26-40

An angel of the Lord said to [Philip], “Go south down the desert road” (v.26).

Apparently someone connected with Google has a sense of humour. In one recent Google Maps route from Japan to China, as expected, a long list of detailed directions populated the page. But if you scrolled down further, it told you to “kayak across the Pacific Ocean”. Following those instructions would have made for one long journey across the expansive body of water!

Acts tells of a man who was on a long journey and far from home. The “treasurer of Ethiopia,” a powerful member of the royal court, had “gone to Jerusalem to worship” (Acts 8:27). The treasurer began his trek home through the vast, rugged wilderness region when the Holy Spirit tapped Philip on the shoulder and told him to go find this Ethiopian on “the desert [or literally, the wild] road” (v.26).

The desert provides a description for the Ethiopian’s predicament in multiple ways: (1) He was travelling through a massive, harsh terrain; (2) He was 500 or more miles away from home; (3) He desired to be connected to Israel’s God, but he was an Ethiopian with geographic and ethnic barriers to Israel; (4) He was a eunuch, which meant that he could not be a full participant in Israel’s faith (Leviticus 21:17-23; Deuteronomy 23:1). The eunuch was far from his home on a mission to worship the God he desired to know and love.

When Philip found the Ethiopian on the desert road, the eunuch was reading Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah and was confused about its meaning (vv.30-34). Philip climbed into the Ethiopian’s carriage and “beginning with this same Scripture, . . . told him the good news about Jesus” (v.35). The good news was that God’s love reached out to the world—even to the eunuch. God found him in the desert. God finds us all in the desert. —Winn Collier

Read Isaiah 53, the text from which the eunuch was reading. What does this reveal about the way God comes after us?
Where is the wild or desert place in your life? How do you long for God to come and meet with you?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Hope Is For . . .

March 23, 2013 

READ: Hebrews 10:19-25 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. —Hebrews 10:23 

Although I try not to be shocked by the things I see these days, I was caught off-balance by the message on the woman’s T-shirt as she walked past me in the mall. The bold letters declared: “Hope Is For Suckers.” Certainly, being naïve or gullible can be foolish and dangerous. Disappointment and heartache can be the tragic offspring of unfounded optimism. But not allowing oneself to have hope is a sad and cynical way to view life.

Biblical hope is unique; it’s a confident trust in God and what He is doing in the world and in our lives. That’s something everyone needs! The writer to the Hebrews clearly stated the importance of hope when he wrote, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

Having biblical hope is not foolish, because it has a strong foundation. We hold fast to the hope we have received in Christ because our God is faithful. He can be trusted with anything and everything we will ever face—both for today and forever. Our hope is grounded in the trustworthy character of the God who loves us with an everlasting love. So, the T-shirt had it wrong. Hope is not for suckers; it’s for you and for me!

— Bill Crowder

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. —Mote

Hope that has its foundation in God
will not crumble under the pressures of life. 

ODJ: as it is in heaven

March 23, 2013 

READ: Ephesians 1:9-11

At the right time He 
will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth (v.10).

In the “Lord’s prayer,” Jesus encouraged His followers to
 pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be 
 done “on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Unsurprisingly the four Gospels are loaded with stories of heaven and earth coming together in and around Jesus.

Right from the start, heaven and earth converged in Christ’s divine conception (Luke 1:35). They overlapped when angels appeared to Mary and Joseph to explain her inexplicable pregnancy (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 
1:26-35). It happened again as God sent angels from heaven to announce Jesus’ birth (2:8-15).

Heaven and earth continued to join together at Jesus’ baptism, when a voice from heaven boomed, “You are my dearly loved Son” (Mark 1:11). God’s world and our world intersected every time Jesus forgave sins and healed diseases (2:1-12). It happened when water was turned into wine (John 2:1-11), when grace replaced condemnation (8:1-11), when the dead were raised to life (11:38-44), when stormy seas were calmed (Mark 4:35-41), when thousands of hungry people were fed with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread (6:30-44) and when frustrated fishermen were twice guided to the catch of a lifetime (Luke 5:1-7; John 21:1-6).

For those who have eyes to see, something radically new happened in and through Jesus’ coming. He was announcing that people from all backgrounds are included and every dimension of creation is touched when God’s long awaited kingdom comes “on earth as it is in heaven”.

This is what Jesus ignited in His birth and ministry, established through His death and resurrection, and will one day complete when He returns. This is the creation-renewing mission He taught us to pray for and saved us to be a part of today and forever—“on earth as it is in heaven”. —Jeff Olson

Paul reminded the Ephesians that it had been God’s plan all along to unite (not separate) heaven and earth under Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
What will you do today “on earth as it is in heaven”? How does Jesus’ example inspire you?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Going For The Prize

March 22, 2013 

READ: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 

Everyone who competes for the prize . . . [does] it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. —1 Corinthians 9:25 

Every March, the Iditarod Trail Race is held in Alaska. Sled dogs and their drivers, called “mushers,” race across a 1,049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome. The competing teams cover this great distance in anywhere from 8 to 15 days. In 2011, a record time was set by musher John Baker who covered the entire route in 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. The teamwork between dogs and driver is remarkable, and those who compete are tenacious in their efforts to win. The first-place winner receives a cash prize and a new pickup truck. But after so much perseverance in extreme weather conditions, the accolades and prizes may seem insignificant and transient.

The excitement of a race was a familiar concept to the apostle Paul, but he used competition to illustrate something eternal. He wrote, “Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Cor. 9:25).

Sometimes we are tempted to place our emphasis on temporal rewards, which perish with the passing of time. The Scriptures, however, encourage us to focus on something more permanent. We honor God by seeking spiritual impact that will be rewarded in eternity.

— Dennis Fisher

Here we labor, here we pray,
Here we wrestle night and day;
There we lay our burdens down,
There we wear the victor’s crown. —Anon.

Run the race with eternity in view. 

ODJ: java gods

March 22, 2013 

READ: Joshua 10:16-15

So the sun stood still 
and the moon stayed in place (v.13).

Recently, coffee drinkers in Helsinki, Finland, could visit a café called Kauko for a free cup of coffee. Sipping java at the Kauko coffee shop meant, however, that they were at the mercy of Internet users who controlled the shop’s environment. These ‘java gods’ could adjust the lighting, music and furniture for a total of one minute, and webcams allowed Internet users to watch people react to their changes.

While the java gods could claim power for a limited time, in a finite space, God has the ultimate control over everything that exists (Psalm 115:3). He showcased His sovereignty during a battle between the Israelites and droves of Amorite warriors. “The Lord threw [the Amorites] into a panic” (Joshua 10:10), and this allowed the Israelites to knock off great numbers of them. God’s action on Israel’s behalf shows that He has power over people who oppose us.

As the Amorites tried to escape, the Lord pitched a “hailstorm from heaven” in their direction. “The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword” (v.11), proving that God can change the weather in a moment. Every raindrop, ocean wave and gust of wind responds to His command. Not only does God rule the earth and its climate, but His power extends throughout the universe as well. As Israel continued to obliterate the opposing forces, the nation began to run out of time. God stepped in again and answered Joshua’s request for more daylight (v.12). “So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place” (v.13).

Remembering God’s sovereign power can free us from ‘playing god’ in our own lives. We don’t need to mould every circumstance for our greatest gain. We can loosen our grip on the people we live with. We can be still, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read Daniel 4:34-36 to see Nebuchadnezzar’s realisation regarding God’s sovereignty. Read Psalm 95:3-5 for a look at God’s supreme status in relation to every created thing.
How does God’s sovereignty affect your understanding of His will for your life? How do the mightiest forces of nature illustrate or point to God’s power?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Make It Count

March 21, 2013 

READ: 1 Peter 4:1-8 

Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind. —1 Peter 4:1 

In his battle with cancer, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” His suffering influenced the choices he made.

In contrast, the apostle Peter wanted to motivate his readers to use their suffering to make their lives count for eternity. And he wanted Jesus’ suffering and death to inspire them to accept the spiritual conflict and persecution that would result from bearing the name of Jesus. Because they loved Jesus, suffering was going to be normative. Jesus’ suffering was to serve as motivation to give up sinful passions and to be obedient to the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2). If their lives were going to count for eternity, they needed to stop indulging in fleeting pleasures and instead exhaust their lives on what pleased God.

Remembering that Jesus suffered and died to forgive our sins is the most important thought we have to inspire us to make godly choices today and to make our lives count for eternity.

— Marvin Williams

Jesus, You have suffered and died to forgive our sin;
may Your death and resurrection inspire us to never
return to where we’ve been. Help us in our resolve
to live for Your will alone.

Jesus’ death forgave my past sins
and inspires my present obedience.