Entries by YMI

Dr Ajith Fernando: Highs and Lows of Youth Ministry

We recently caught up with Dr Ajith Fernando in Singapore and spoke to him about his ministry. Watch and listen as he provides excellent insight from his wealth of experience as a leader and Bible teacher.

ODB: Eyewitness Account

January 11, 2013 

READ: 1 John 1 

Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. —1 John 1:3 

When the Day of Discovery television crew interviews people for a biography, we especially enjoy talking with those who knew the person whose life-story we are telling. Over the years, we’ve talked with a man who roomed with Eric Liddell in an internment camp in China; a woman who as a teenager lived in the home of C. S. Lewis during World War II; and a man who chauffeured Dr. George Washington Carver on a speaking tour throughout the southern US. They all spoke freely and openly about the special person they knew.

When John, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, was an old man, he wrote a letter in which his opening words established him as an eyewitness and close companion of Jesus: “The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:2). His goals in writing were “that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (v.3) and “that your joy may be full” (v.4).

The eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ disciples help lead us to faith in Christ. Even though we have not seen Him as they did, we have believed.

— David C. McCasland

Thank You, Father, for the reliable eyewitness
accounts of Jesus’ life that we can read in Your
Word. And thank You for people in our lives
who know Him. They help us believe too.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. —Jesus 

ODJ: not fooled


January 11, 2013 

READ: Proverbs 26:1-12 

Honouring a fool is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot (v.8).  


It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” —Mark Twain
A well known humorist of the 19th century, Twain wielded his biting wit to expose the ills in humanity. Often, though, his ideas simply echoed the truth already revealed in Scripture. Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” Headstrong and rebellious, foolish people don’t care about the holiness of God or the hearts of other people. Willfully disobedient, they live for themselves and believe they can get away with their sin.


As believers we’re called to walk in obedience (and thus avoid the path of the fool), but we are also called to take a stand for truth. To not act as a fool includes understanding the power and holiness of God and making decisions that line up with His righteousness. 


Because a fool lives as if there is no God (Psalms 14:1, 53:1), our response has to be lovingly wise. When it comes to dealing with a fool, we are not to . . .


• engage in foolish arguments (Proverbs 23:9, 26:4).


• appoint a fool to a place of honour (26:1,8).


• trust a fool with important tasks (vv.6,10).


No matter how impressive the individual, we diminish the awesomeness of God when we applaud those who live in open disobedience to His Word. No amount of talent or gifting can cover up sin. Refusing to honour a fool doesn’t mean being dismissive or unkind, but it does mean calling things for what they are because we understand the glory of who God is. —Regina Franklin 


MORE
Read Proverbs 14:7-9 to see other characteristics of fools and to understand how we should respond to them.
 
NEXT
What aspects of our society’s adulation of pop-culture figures could be compared to the honouring of fools? How is the honouring of a fool the displacement of truth?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Spiritual Sight

January 10, 2013 

READ: Ephesians 1:15-21 

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. —Ephesians 1:7 

A prisoner who survived 14 years in a Cuban jail told how he kept his spirits up and his hope alive: “I had no window in my cell, and so I mentally constructed one on the door. I ‘saw’ in my mind a beautiful scene from the mountains, with water tumbling down a ravine over rocks. It became so real to me that I would visualize it without effort every time I looked at the cell door.”

Ironically, some of the most hopeful books of the Bible—Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians—come out of Paul’s house arrest in Rome. The letter to the Ephesians gives a hint as to what the apostle Paul saw when he thought about life beyond his place of confinement.

First he saw the spiritual growth in the churches he left behind. This book opens with a burst of thanksgiving for the vitality of the Ephesian church (Eph. 1:15-16). Then he sought to open the eyes of their hearts to even more exalted sights: the “exceeding riches” of God’s grace (2:7). When Paul cranks up the volume to express God’s plan of love, not one low, mournful note sneaks in.

If you feel discouraged or question whether the Christian life is worth it, Ephesians proves to be a great tonic. It prescribes the riches in Christ available to all.

— Philip Yancey

Heavenly Father, thank You for the staggering
good news of the riches of Your infinite grace.
Thank You for the encouragement and hope
we find in Ephesians. Amen.

No one is hopeless whose hope is in God and His Word. 

ODJ: dying for Jesus?


January 10, 2013 

READ: Romans 12:1-2 

I plead with you to give your bodies to God. . . . Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him (v.1).


The director at a missions conference challenged the participants to consider fulltime missionary work—calling for those who were willing to die for Jesus to stand up and to receive prayer. No one did. Discouraged, he complained to the senior pastor. The pastor said, “Don’t fret if no one is willing to die for Jesus. Worry if no one is wanting to live for Jesus!”

In Romans 12 Paul makes a call for radical commitment. “I plead with you to give your bodies to God” (v.1). Paul wasn’t telling us to die for Jesus. He told us to do the reverse—to live for Him! “Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind [God] will find acceptable” (v.1).

In the Old Testament, propitiatory sacrifices (Leviticus 1:4-5) were offered to atone for sin, “making that person right with the Lord” (7:7); and dedicatory sacrifices (Leviticus 2–3) were voluntarily offered “as an expression of thanksgiving . . . as a gift to the Lord” (7:12-14).

Jesus offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). His physical body was broken for us (Romans 8:3, Colossians 1:22). In response we are often exhorted to give our hearts to Jesus. But here Paul is asking us to offer our physical bodies as dedicatory sacrifices—as thanksgiving offerings to God. They are to be “a living sacrifice”. If you’re grateful, you’ll “give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you” (Romans 12:1).

The demand of discipleship isn’t to die for Jesus but to die to sin and self! (Romans 6:2,10-11, 8:12-13; Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 2:24). Jesus died to give us new life (Rom. 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). “Those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ” (5:15). —K.T. Sim

MORE
How do you die to sin and self in order to live for Christ? (Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 3:1-10). How do you “honour God with your body”? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
 
NEXT
In practical terms, what does it mean for you to offer yourself as a “living and holy sacrifice” that is acceptable to Christ? How does Jesus’ sacrifice inspire you to serve Him? 
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

Reborn Identity

January 9, 2013 

READ: Luke 19:1-10 

If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold. —Luke 19:8 

It was a perfect day for our garage sale—bright and warm. People rummaged through clothing, paperbacks, and mismatched dishes. I noticed a young woman looking at a string of white beads. A few minutes later, the necklace vanished along with its admirer. I spotted her in the street, jogged the length of my driveway, and discovered the missing jewelry nestled in her palm. As we faced each other with the knowledge of what had happened, she volunteered to pay for the stolen item.

Zacchaeus, the tree-climbing tax collector, met Jesus and was changed. He vowed to repay four times the amount of money he had dishonestly taken from others (Luke 19:8). In those days, tax collectors frequently overcharged citizens and then pocketed the extra funds. Zacchaeus’ eagerness to pay back the money and to donate half of what he owned to the poor showed a significant change of heart. He had once been a taker, but after meeting Jesus he was determined to make restoration and be a giver.

Zacchaeus’ example can inspire us to make the same kind of change. When God reminds us about items we have taken, taxes left unpaid, or ways we have wronged others, we can honor Him by making it right.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Help me, dear Lord, to be honest and true
In all that I say and all that I do;
Give me the courage to do what is right
To bring to the world a glimpse of Your light. —Fasick

A debt is never too old for an honest person to pay. 

ODB: Making It Right

January 9, 2013 

READ: Luke 19:1-10 

If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold. —Luke 19:8 

It was a perfect day for our garage sale—bright and warm. People rummaged through clothing, paperbacks, and mismatched dishes. I noticed a young woman looking at a string of white beads. A few minutes later, the necklace vanished along with its admirer. I spotted her in the street, jogged the length of my driveway, and discovered the missing jewelry nestled in her palm. As we faced each other with the knowledge of what had happened, she volunteered to pay for the stolen item.

Zacchaeus, the tree-climbing tax collector, met Jesus and was changed. He vowed to repay four times the amount of money he had dishonestly taken from others (Luke 19:8). In those days, tax collectors frequently overcharged citizens and then pocketed the extra funds. Zacchaeus’ eagerness to pay back the money and to donate half of what he owned to the poor showed a significant change of heart. He had once been a taker, but after meeting Jesus he was determined to make restoration and be a giver.

Zacchaeus’ example can inspire us to make the same kind of change. When God reminds us about items we have taken, taxes left unpaid, or ways we have wronged others, we can honor Him by making it right.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Help me, dear Lord, to be honest and true
In all that I say and all that I do;
Give me the courage to do what is right
To bring to the world a glimpse of Your light. —Fasick

A debt is never too old for an honest person to pay. 

ODJ: don’t stop


January 9, 2013 

READ: Jeremiah 20:7-18 

They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken! (1:19).


He was alone for most of his ministry. It seemed that no one cared to hear his words. He was draggedoff against his will to live his final days in exile. He was a failure as far as how the world judges human achievement. Jeremiah (alias ‘the weeping prophet’) was his name. 
Reading about the course of Jeremiah’s difficult ministry, I’ve wondered if he ever looked back at the day God called him into service; and did he question God for seemingly not keeping His end of the bargain (Jeremiah 1:19). I know I would have. 


And I’m glad to discover that Jeremiah did. His complaint was recorded in Jeremiah 20:7-18. His candid words are helpful.


Like him, when we see no fruit from our work and receive mockery as a reward, we too may feel cheated by God. We may be tempted to throw in the towel and call it quits. 


Jeremiah, however, moved beyond his moods and did the will of God—regardless of how he felt. He was compelled to proclaim God’s Word. Remembering God’s promises, Jeremiah’s prayer led to him breaking out in worship (vv.11-13). But this euphoria didn’t last long. With his next breath he was cursing the day he was born (v.18). 


Fortunately he picked himself up after his depressing words. Jeremiah 20 is the last of Jeremiah’s recorded laments. In the remaining 32 chapters, we find that the prophet remained faithful to his call. 


Francis Schaeffer wrote: “What does God expect of Jeremiah? What does God expect of every man who preaches into a lost age like ours? I’ll tell you what God expects. He simply expects a man to go right on. He doesn’t scold a man for being tired, but neither does He expect him to stop his message because people are against him.” —Poh Fang Chia


MORE
Read 2 Corinthians 4 for Paul’s reasons for not giving up even though his ministry was challenging.
 
NEXT
How have you questioned God’s calling in your life? What keeps you going when you face hardship?
 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: Where Sinners Go

January 8, 2013 

READ: Romans 5:6-15 

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8 

My friend was having a conversation with a man who didn’t have much good to say about the Christian faith. My friend knew that if he were to sound too “religious,” he would jeopardize any chance to witness. So, in the middle of their discussion, he said, “Hey, Bob, do you know where sinners go?”

“That’s easy,” he replied. “You’re going to tell me they go to hell.”

“No,” my friend responded. “They go to church.”

Bob was speechless. That wasn’t what he expected. He wasn’t ready to hear from a Christian who realized he wasn’t perfect. My friend had a chance to share that Christians understand their sinfulness and their need for continual spiritual restoration. He was able to explain grace—the unmerited favor we have with God despite our sinfulness (Rom. 5:8-9; Eph. 2:8-9).

Perhaps we don’t give those outside the church a clear picture of what’s happening inside. They may not understand that we’re there to praise our Savior for providing “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14).

Yes, sinners go to church. And sinners—forgiven ones—go to heaven because of God’s grace.

— Dave Branon

We’re far from perfection, yet perfect forever,
For Christ is our righteousness, Lord, and our Savior;
No justification for sin can we offer,
Yet sanctified fully, we’re now His forever. —Lee

A church is a hospital for sinners, not a club for saints.