Entries by YMI

ODB: Already Settled

January 13, 2013 

READ: 1 John 5:10-15 

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. —1 John 5:13 

I love watching soccer, and I am a fan of the Liverpool Football Club in England’s Premier League. When the Reds are playing, it is an anxiety-filled experience for me. Because one goal or one misplay can change the game’s outcome, I feel a constant tension as I watch. That is part of what makes the games enjoyable. Recently, though, I saw a tape-delayed replay of one of Liverpool’s games. I was surprised how much calmer I felt seeing the replay. Why? Because I already knew the outcome, and as a result I was able to relax and enjoy the action.

Life is often like observing live sporting events. There are shocks and surprises, frustrations and fears, because we are unsure of the outcome. Followers of Christ can draw comfort, however, from the fact that though many of life’s situations are uncertain, our eternal outcome is settled by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The apostle John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Life may present us with surprises along the way, but because of Christ’s work we can have peace. He has already settled our eternal outcome.

— Bill Crowder

Faith looks beyond this transient life
With hope for all eternity—
Not with some vague and wistful hope,
But with firm trust and certainty. —D. DeHaan

Peace rules the day when Christ rules the heart. 

ODJ: accepting correction

January 13, 2013 

READ: Proverbs 9:7-9 

So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you (v.8).

Atheists are so passive because they have nothing to stand for! #ultimatecowards” “Atheistshave no morality. They will hug a tree and murder a baby in its mother’s womb! #confused”
The nasty Twitter updates continued. Sadly, the person behind them was a pastor. As he was a brother in the faith, I decided to say something. “I’m really struggling with your tweets,” I replied. “I don’t think they show respect towards atheists.” 

“You would!” he shot back. “That explains the state of the church—because of your struggle!” He went on to accuse me of being “postmodern” and “soppy”. I pleaded with him to adhere to Scripture’s guidelines—to show gentleness and respect to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15-17). “I tell you what,” the pastor concluded, “When you have as many ex-atheists in your church as I do in mine, you can come and show me a more excellent way.” Then he stopped following me on Twitter.

Ironically the pastor had earlier tweeted this: “When your first response to correction is to strike back rather than think, you’re missing the opportunity for God to give you a big heart and a big life.” Sadly, he hadn’t lived by his own words.

What is your first response to correction—to strike back at someone or to think? Proverbs has much to say about the matter. God corrects us out of love (Proverbs 3:12). The wise accept this correction (15:5), mockers resent it (v.12) and pride stops us from hearing it (13:10), but if we accept it we grow wise (15:31-32). 

As I discovered, sometimes correcting someone incurs insult (9:7). The lesson for us all is to be people whose first response to correction is to think, not strike, accepting it humbly as the path to wisdom (vv.8-9), and so imitate our humble Saviour (Matthew 11:29). —Sheridan Voysey

Read Proverbs 10:17 to see how ignoring correction can negatively affect us. Read Ephesians 4:1-3 for more on being humble and gentle.
What’s your first response to correction—to strike back at someone or to think? Why? For what correction in your past are you thankful?

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ODB: The Gift Of Sleep

January 12, 2013 

READ: Psalm 121 

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late  . . . ; for so He gives His beloved sleep. —Psalm 127:2 

Sleep is essential for good health. Scientists don’t know exactly why we need it but they know what happens when we don’t get enough. We put ourselves at risk of premature aging, weight gain, and diseases ranging from colds and flu to cancer. What God accomplishes in our bodies while we drift off to dreamland is nothing short of miraculous. While we do nothing, God replenishes our energy, rebuilds and restores our cells, and reorganizes information in our brains.

The reasons for not getting enough sleep are many, and some we can’t solve, but the Bible indicates that overwork should not be one of them (Ps. 127:2). Sleep is a gift from God that we should receive with gratitude. If we’re not getting enough, we need to find out why. Are we rising early and staying up late to earn money to acquire things we don’t need? Are we involved in ministry efforts that we think no one else is capable of doing?

I’m sometimes tempted to believe that the work I do when I’m awake is more important than the work God does while I sleep. But refusing God’s gift of sleep is like telling Him that my work is more important than His.

God does not want anyone to be a slave to work. He wants us to enjoy His gift of sleep.

— Julie Ackerman Link

The love of God is my pillow,
Soft and healing and wide,
I rest my soul in its comfort,
And in its calm I abide. —Long

If we do not come apart and rest awhile, we may just plain come apart. —Havner 

ODJ: the benefits of giving

January 12, 2013 

READ: Luke 6:37-38 

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over . . . . The amount you give will determine the amount you get back (v.38). 

Did you know that the apostle Paul never quotes Jesus in any of his New Testament books? Of course, he mentions Jesus throughout his letters. The Lord was his major topic. But not once does he directly quote Jesus in his epistles. In fact if you were to thumb through a ‘red letter’ Bible (where the words spoken by Jesus are printed in red ink), you might be surprised to find that outside of the four gospels, Jesus’ actual words appear only a handful of times.
Though Paul never quoted Jesus in anything he wrote, he did repeat the Lord’s words during an emotional farewell speech to the elders of the church at Ephesus. As the apostle was wrapping up his final thoughts, he called on the elders to remember the following teaching of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

It’s interesting that these actual words of Christ are not found in the four gospels, but they clearly reflect what Jesus taught about the benefits of giving—“Give, and you will receive” (Luke 6:38). 

Surely we’re not to give for what’s in it for us, but Jesus and Paul plainly stressed that the giver does get something out of sharing with others who are in need. It’s the principle—we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). It’s the same idea that Jesus was getting at when He said, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

The book of Proverbs echoes the same idea: “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (11:25). 

Giving profits both the giver and those who receive. —Jeff Olson

The apostle Paul also said that those who give willingly will have “plenty left over to share with others” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
What kind of a giver are you? How does Jesus’ example affect your view of giving? 

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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 

Read Proverbs 14:7-9 to see other characteristics of fools and to understand how we should respond to them.
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

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).
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? 

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