Entries by YMI

ODJ: stand up


January 3, 2013 

READ: 1 Kings 21:1-29 

No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. His worst outrage was worshipping idols (vv.25-26).


Evil doesn’t need numbers. History’s most horrific acts were committed by only a handful of people. These agents of evil didn’t persuade others to join in their sin; they only convinced them to go along. Most Germans didn’t hunt down and kill Jews, but they allowed their government to do it. Most Americans didn’t own slaves, but they permitted their neighbours to do so. Evil simply needs a silent majority who see what is happening and do nothing. 
Passivity was one of Ahab’s many problems. He cowered before his wife, Jezebel, a foreign queen who pushed him to worship Baal (1 Kings 16:31). When Elijah slaughtered the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Ahab ran home to Jezebel and told her about him. It was Jezebel, not Ahab, who promised Elijah that she would get her revenge (19:1-2). Ahab went along.


When Naboth refused to sell his vineyard, “Ahab went home angry and sullen” and told about him (21:4-6). Jezebel replied, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!” (v.7). And she did. Ahab merely went along with the idea. 


Ahab was passive, but he wasn’t innocent. God declared that he was the most wicked of the evil kings of Israel. He may not have pulled the trigger, but he allowed Naboth’s murder and Israel’s idolatry to occur, among other evil choices.


This should make us pause: What evil might we be silently tolerating? Do we sit on our hands when others are bullied or abused? Do we say nothing when professing Christians dismiss the foundational truths of our faith? We may feel bad for challenging them; but given that Ahab’s greatest sin was idolatry, how can we not speak up for God and His true Word? 


Evil doesn’t need you to stand with it. It wins whenever you don’t take a stand. —Mike Wittmer


MORE
Read 1 Kings 19:1-18 to discover how you can stand against evil.
 
NEXT
Who needs you to stand up for him or her? How can you be an advocate for that person today?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: T-Ball Faith

January 2, 2013 

READ: Luke 15:1-7 

The joy of the Lord is your strength. —Nehemiah 8:10 

Whoever dreamed up T-ball is a genius: Every kid on the field gets a taste of the fun and joy of the game before they taste the disappointment of striking out.

In T-ball, a baseball is placed on a rubber tee about waist-high to the 5- and 6-year-old batters. Players swing until they hit the ball and then run. On my first night as a coach, the very first batter hit the ball far into the outfield. Suddenly every player from every position ran to get the ball instead of staying where they were supposed to. When one of them reached it, there was nobody left in the infield for him to throw it to! All the players were standing together—cheering with unrestrained exuberance!

Those who have recently come to know Jesus as Savior have an unrestrained joy that is a delight to be around as well. We rejoice with them, and so do the angels in heaven! (Luke 15:7). New Christians are in love with God and excited about knowing Him and learning from His Word.

Those who’ve been Christians for a long time may get discouraged with the struggles of the Christian life and forget the joy of new-found faith. So take the opportunity to rejoice with those who’ve come to faith. God can use them to inspire you to renew your own commitment to Jesus.

— Randy Kilgore

Rejoice, O soul, your debt is paid,
For all your sins on Christ were laid;
We’ve been redeemed, we’re justified—
And all because the Savior died. —D. DeHaan

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. —Psalm 51:12 

ODJ: my word is my promise


January 2, 2013 

READ: Matthew 5:33-37 

Just say a simple, “Yes, I will,” or “No, I won’t.” Anything beyond this is from the evil one (v.37). 


As an author, I’ve signed a few contracts. I’ve asked others to sign them too. What I dislike most about contracts is their endless clauses and detailed legal jargon. It’s a litigious age. We’ve all heard of opportunistic people, with well paid lawyers, who find legal loopholes in such documents and cash in. So our contracts get longer and longer.? I was working on a book of interviews once. The legal advice had been to have each interviewee sign a contract confirming their participation in the book. All of them did—except one. “My word is my promise,” he emailed back, causing feelings of anxiety for my management team. But we took him at his word.
A vow in Old Testament times was a promise made before God that had to be fulfilled (Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21). The Pharisees, however, came up with ingenious ways of slipping through the loopholes of such promises. For them it all came down to the formula you used when you made your vow. A vow sworn by “the temple” could be broken, but not one sworn by the temple’s gold (Matthew 23:16-17). A vow sworn by “the altar” wasn’t binding, but one sworn by the gift on the altar was (vv.18-22). A simple vow could be forgotten, but a vow made to “the Lord” had to be kept (5:33).
Jesus would have none of it.
Whether you swore by the temple, the altar, heaven or earth, it didn’t matter. Since all of these were God’s, all vows were made to God (vv.34-35). In fact to Jesus any vow was problematic. “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t,’” he taught. Anything else was making formulas, which allowed breaking promises.
“My word is my promise,” said my interviewee. So far he’s stayed true to his word. Jesus would be pleased. —Sheridan Voysey

MORE
Read Matthew 26:63-64 to see how Jesus responded in court. How should you live out your faith in a litigious society?
 
NEXT
When are you most tempted to forget your vows or promises? What have you promised to do that you haven’t done? Why?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: The Good Life

January 1, 2013 

READ: Psalm 73:21-28 

It is good for me to draw near to God. —Psalm 73:28 

Beauty, wealth, power, love, marriage, and pleasure are good things, but they’re not the best. The best is loving God and taking in His love—bringing Him glory and making Him our friend for life. That leads to the best possible life because it gives us satisfaction and joy now (John 10:10), and it’s what Christians are going to be doing forever.

That’s why we should make time for God and rest in His love—the love that made you and me. It is the reason for our existence and the means by which we will make the most of our lives.

I like the way the psalmist put it: “It is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works” (Ps. 73:28). In other words, the good life is drawing close to the One who loves us like no other.

And how can we “draw close” to Him? Here’s a practice I began many years ago: Take a few minutes every morning to read some verses from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and note what Jesus said or did. After all, He came to show us what God is like (Heb. 1:1-3). Put yourself in the story—in the place of the leper He healed with His loving touch, for example (Mark 1:40-45). Think about how much He loves you and then thank Him!

— David H. Roper

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love. —Crosby

The wonder of it all— just to think that Jesus loves me! 

ODJ: simply love


January 1, 2013 

READ: Ephesians 3:14-19  

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God (v.19).


The hope of change is in the air as we enter the New Year. It’s the anticipation of a new outlook or a new direction or the chance to do things differently. 
At the turn of the first century, the Jewish people were anticipating a change. In many ways they were still reeling from being captured by the Babylonians—something that had taken place more than 600 years earlier. Their aggressors had destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple, carting off most of the people to Babylon. It had been devastating—it felt like Egypt all over again, as they were once more enslaved in a foreign land (Psalm 137:1).


Babylon eventually fell to other empires and many Jews made their way back home to rebuild, but they were not yet free. In Jesus’ day it was the ruthless Romans who were running the show (Luke 2:1), and the Jewish people again felt the crushing weight of oppression. Still, they lived with an ever growing expectation that God would overthrow the Romans, just as He had done with Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Again, they were waiting for God to rescue them from their oppressors and reestablish His kingdom. 


It was into this increasing anticipation of another exodus that Jesus burst on the scene. His countrymen were more than ready for God to oust the Romans. They wanted an uprising—which is partly why they called for the release of Barabbas (a revolutionary) rather than the release of Jesus (John 18:40). They couldn’t see that Jesus came to rescue them (and the whole world) and reestablish His kingdom through love, not force (3:16; Galatians 1:4).


Simply love. It’s what Jesus embodied and modelled throughout His life. This is the power He unleashed to change the world, culminating in His death and resurrection. 


Jesus’ sacrificial love seeks the best for us and from us. —Jeff Olson


MORE
Read Matthew 11:12 and note what Jesus said about His kingdom and those who are against it.
 
NEXT
How does Jesus’ example of love instead of force inspire you in your relationships? What sacrifices do you need to make to seek the best for others?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

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