Entries by YMI

ODB: Godspeed!

February 16, 2013 

READ: 2 John 1:1-11 

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him. —2 John 1:10 

In 1962, John Glenn made history as the first American to orbit the Earth. As the rocket ascended, ground control said, “Godspeed, John Glenn.” “Godspeed” comes from the expression, “May God prosper you.”

Though we don’t often hear this word today, the apostle John used it in his second epistle: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed” (2 John 1:10 kjv).

John has been referred to as “the apostle of love,” so why would he warn believers against pronouncing a blessing on others? Traveling evangelists were dependent on the hospitality of Christians to provide them with room and board. John was telling the believers that biblical truth is important. If itinerant missionaries were not preaching doctrine consistent with apostolic teaching, believers were not to bless their work by providing lodging or financial assistance.

This is also true for believers today. We are to treat everyone with kindness because God is kind to us. But when asked to financially support an endeavor, it’s important to always ask Him for wisdom. The Spirit who guides us into truth (John 16:13) will show us when it is appropriate to bid Godspeed to those we encounter.

— Dennis Fisher

Dear Lord, You know my heart. I love You
and want Your kingdom to prosper.
Give me Your wisdom to know where You want
me to take part and how. Thank You.

God’s Spirit through His Word gives wisdom
to discern truth from error. 

ODJ: forgive and forget?


February 16, 2013 

READ: Jeremiah 31:31-40 

I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins (v.34).


Sergei said to his pastor, “It’s been 2 years since Danica cheated on me, and I still can’t get past the hurt. Some days I think I’ve moved on, but the pain is always lurking beneath the surface, ready to explode in the most unexpected moments. We can be having dinner in a restaurant, and sorrow and anger washes over me and I feel that I despise her. How can I forgive if I can’t forget?”
The pastor stated that it’s impossible to forget what Danica did, because she mattered to Sergei. “Have you ever apologised to someone,” he said, “only to learn that the person didn’t remember you or what you had done? There is nothing worse than realising you are so inconsequential that your sin didn’t even register. So it’s a good sign that Danica’s affair bothers you.”
Sergei pressed, “But doesn’t the Bible say that forgiveness requires forgetting? Doesn’t God forget our sins?”
“If by forgetting you mean that God no longer knows what we have done, then No!” responded his pastor. “It is impossible for God not to know everything that has happened or will happen. When God says He “will never again remember their sins” or that “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), He means He no longer holds our sins against us. He remembers what we have done, and His forgiveness is the richer for it. Because you love Danica and her sin cuts so deep, your forgiveness won’t be a one off event. Every time you remember what she did, you will need to release her moral debt. But as you fight for forgiveness, you will realise that you are fighting for her, and she will become more precious to you.
 “Forgiveness requires that we remember and release. We can’t forgive what we forget.” —Mike Wittmer


MORE
Read Psalm 103 to discover how God has forgiven us. How can we apply this to the forgiving of others?
 
NEXT
While forgetting is an obstacle to forgiveness, is there an opposite danger in dwelling on the offence? How can you tell if remembering a sin has morphed into unhealthy brooding?

 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Crying Out To God

February 15, 2013 

READ: Psalm 142 

By prayer and supplication . . . let your requests be made known to God. —Philippians 4:6 

After all these years, I still don’t fully understand prayer. It’s something of a mystery to me. But one thing I know: When we’re in desperate need, prayer springs naturally from our lips and from the deepest level of our hearts.

When we’re frightened out of our wits, when we’re pushed beyond our limits, when we’re pulled out of our comfort zones, when our well-being is challenged and endangered, we reflexively and involuntarily resort to prayer. “Help, Lord!” is our natural cry.

Author Eugene Peterson wrote: “The language of prayer is forged in the crucible of trouble. When we can’t help ourselves and call for help, when we don’t like where we are and want out, when we don’t like who we are and want a change, we use primal language, and this language becomes the root language of prayer.”

Prayer begins in trouble, and it continues because we’re always in trouble at some level. It requires no special preparation, no precise vocabulary, no appropriate posture. It springs from us in the face of necessity and, in time, becomes our habitual response to every issue—good and bad—we face in this life (Phil. 4:6). What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer!

— David H. Roper

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer. —Scriven

God’s help is only a prayer away. 

ODJ: a prize awaits


February 15, 2013 

READ: 2 Timothy 4:1-8 

Now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing (v.8).more›


How do I decide what to write in my ODJ article? Each month I move down the list of 66 books in the Bible, and pick a passage from three books to write on. But sometimes I’ll write on the passage that I’m currently studying. Interestingly I’ve noticed that quite a number of my articles are on Christian service. So I wondered: How many ODJ readers are actively serving God?

Today’s passage is once again on Christian service, and I pray that God will use it to minister to you. As a servant of God, do you know that a prize awaits you? What prize? you might ask. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will give you the prize when He returns. It’s the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8). Count on it. The prize is yours.

But why? Because I’ve fought the good fight, finished the race, remained faithful? Not exactly. The apostle Paul says that this prize is “for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing” (v.8). Naturally, if we eagerly anticipate His return, we will be faithful in service.

Theologian William Barclay explained: “When the [Roman] Emperor was due to visit any place, everything was put in perfect order. The streets were swept and decorated and all work was up to date so that the town might be fit for the epiphaneia [“appearing”] of the Emperor. So Paul says to Timothy: “You know what happens when any town is expecting the epiphaneia of the Emperor; you are expecting the epiphaneia of Jesus Christ. Do your work in such a way that all things will be ready whenever He appears. ”
Fix your eyes on the hope of Jesus’ return, and like Paul you’ll be able to finish well. —Poh Fang Chia


MORE
Read Revelation 22:7-21 to capture the wonder of the glorious day when Jesus returns.
 
NEXT
How would the knowledge that Jesus is coming soon shape the way you serve today? What does receiving the crown of righteousness mean to you?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Second Best?

February 14, 2013 

READ: Genesis 29:16-30 

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8 

Leah must have laid awake all night thinking of the moment when her new husband would awaken. She knew that it was not her face he expected to see, but Rachel’s. Jacob had been a victim of deception, and when he realized that a “bait and switch” had occurred, he quickly made a new deal with Laban to claim the woman he had been promised (Gen. 29:25-27).

Have you ever felt insignificant or second-best? Leah felt that way. It’s seen in the names she chose for her first three sons (vv.31-35). Reuben means “See, a Son”; Simeon means “Heard”; and Levi means “Attached.” Their names were all plays on words that indicated the lack of love she felt from Jacob. With each son’s birth, she desperately hoped she would move up in Jacob’s affections and earn his love. But slowly Leah’s attitude changed, and she named her fourth son Judah, which means “Praise” (v.35). Though she felt unloved by her husband, perhaps she now realized she was greatly loved by God.

We can never “earn” God’s love, because it’s not dependent on what we do. In truth, the Bible tells us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). In God’s eyes, we are worth the best that heaven could offer—the gift of His precious Son.

— Cindy Hess Kasper

Love sent the Savior to die in my stead.
Why should He love me so?
Meekly to Calvary’s cross He was led.
Why should He love me so? —Harkness

Nothing speaks more clearly of God’s love than the cross. 

ODJ: pearls to pigs


February 14, 2013 

READ: Matthew 7:1-6 

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you (v.6).


I have always been perplexed by today’s reading in Matthew 7. What are these “pearls” being spoken of and who are the “pigs” we’re not to throw them to?

One suggestion is that the pearl is the kingdom of God (see 13:45), and so a common explanation of this verse goes like this: There’s a beastly group of people for whom the gospel is not to be shared. They will only trample on our good news and, by doing so, cheapen it.
This explanation has never sat well with me. Firstly, Jesus isn’t teaching the apostles whom to preach to (He’ll do that in Matthew 10). He’s talking to the “crowds” about living in the kingdom (4:23-5:1, 7:24-29). How would this phrase help them do that? Secondly, Jesus has already taught that God is gracious to the unrighteous (5:43-48), and all of us are “unholy”, yet God still offered the gospel to us. Thirdly, Jesus said these words after teaching us not to condemn people (7:1-5). What do His words mean in this relational context?
I think Jesus is talking about correction here. Followers of Jesus will have disagreements with others. We’re not to condemn people (vv.1-2), or be blind to our own faults (vv.3-4), but we’re to bring humble correction when needed (v.5). But Jesus is realistic. There will be some who will not listen to any correction—even when the words are from God Himself. As Matthew 7:1-6 says, such people will repay correction with abuse. They will tear us to pieces (v.6). Beware of them.
As I write this article, I’m dealing with a difficult commenter on my blog. This person has been writing inflammatory statements that I have tried repeatedly (and patiently) to correct. But to no avail—the harsh words continue. It may now be time for me to stop replying. —Sheridan Voysey


MORE
Read Proverbs 7:1-5 to see the wisdom Jesus is drawing from. Read Matthew 5:38-48 for other directions on dealing with difficult people.
 
NEXT
How should you respond to people who only want to argue? How will you love such people, while putting boundaries around their abusive ways?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: A Small Sacrifice

February 13, 2013 

READ: Mark 10:17-27 

With God all things are possible. —Mark 10:27 

As we anticipate the coming celebration of Easter, I begin thinking about the sacrifice Jesus made so that I could be reconciled to God. To help me focus on all that He gave up for me, I make a small sacrifice of my own. When I fast from something I normally enjoy, every craving for that food or drink or pastime reminds me of how much more Jesus gave up for me.

Because I want to be successful, I tend to give up something that isn’t a big temptation for me. Yet even then I fail. My inability to be perfect in such a small thing reminds me of why Easter is so important. If we could be perfect, Jesus would not have had to die.

The rich young man whom Jesus encountered along a Judean road was trying to earn eternal life by being good. But Jesus, knowing the man could never be good enough, said, “With men [salvation] is impossible, but not with God” (Mark 10:27).

Although giving up something does not make anyone good, it does remind us that no one is good except God (v.18). And that’s important to remember, for it is the sacrifice of a good and perfect God that makes our salvation possible.

— Julie Ackerman Link

I gave My life for thee;
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be
And quickened from the dead. —Havergal

Jesus sacrificed His life for ours. 

ODJ: marked


February 13, 2013 

READ: Ezekiel 9:1-11 

Put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city (v.4).


Ash Wednesday is commemorated by many believers in Jesus 40 days before Good Friday. The officiating minister marks the forehead of each person with ashes in the sign of the cross. Putting ashes on oneself signifies repentance and remorse for sins (Job 42:6; Luke 10:13). The minister applying the ashes says, “You were made from dust, and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19), or “Repent of your sins and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
The prophet Ezekiel spoke of imminent and inescapable severe punishment on Judah (Ezekiel 4-24), a nation that had remained wicked and unrepentant (9:9-10). God commanded seven angels to go to Jerusalem (vv.1-2). Six of them were told “to punish the city” (v.1), but not before the seventh—dressed in linen and believed to be the preincarnate Christ (Daniel 10:5-6; Revelation 1:13-15)—had walked “through the streets . . . and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city” (Ezekiel 9:4). God singled out people who grieved over sin, for they knew they had sinned! The other six angels, without mercy or pity, were then ordered to “kill everyone whose forehead [was] not marked!” (vv.5-6, 10).

The word mark (v.4) is taw or “t,” the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, written like an X or sloped cross. Ancient interpretations saw in this symbol an anticipation of the cross of Christ.

Placing ashes in the shape of a cross on your forehead will not save you. Only those “who weep and sigh because of [their] detestable sins” (v.4) are marked by Christ—not with black ashes but in indelible red. God knows those who are faithful (Psalm 11:4-5, 33:13-15; Malachi 3:16-18).

Only if you’re marked in Christ’s blood are you truly saved and safe. Are you marked? —K.T. Sim


MORE
Read the account of the first Passover in Exodus 12:1-30. Note what happened to those who were in homes marked by the blood of a lamb.
 
NEXT
The six angels of death have not yet come. But the “Seventh Man,” dressed in linen, is already here. Have you been marked by Him? What must you do to be marked?
 

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ODB: The Best Life

February 12, 2013 

READ: John 1:35-42 

[Andrew] first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah.” —John 1:41 

A few months ago, I had to travel to Florida and back on business. On my flight home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a seat with lots of leg room. It felt so good not to be scrunched into a small area. Plus, I had an empty seat beside me! The makings of a good nap.

Then I remembered those around me in their not-as-comfortable seats. I invited several others I knew to join me in a better spot but was surprised they all wanted to stay in their own seats for various reasons: They didn’t want to be inconvenienced with a move or felt fine where they were.

As believers in Christ, we have a much more significant invitation to extend: We’ve received a new life of faith in Jesus and want others to experience it too. Some will want to do so, and others won’t. In John 1:40 we read that Andrew had begun to follow Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and invite him to meet Jesus, the Messiah, too (v.41). Jesus offered them a wonderful new way of life of knowing Him and enjoying His promises: His forgiveness (Rom. 3:24), continual presence (Heb. 13:5), hope (Rom. 15:13), peace (John 14:27), and a forever future in His presence (1 Thess. 4:17).

Won’t you join in? Jesus gives the best life.

— Anne Cetas

If we commit ourselves to Christ
And follow in His way,
He’ll give us life that satisfies
With purpose for each day. —Sper

If you want someone to know what Christ will do for him, let him see what Christ has done for you.