Entries by YMI

ODB: God Must Love Me More

January 14, 2013 

READ: Job 12:1-10 

A [disaster] is despised in the thought of one who is at ease; it is made ready for those whose feet slip. —Job 12:5 

During a difficult recession, I organized a support group for fellow Christians to help them cope with unemployment. We provided resumé reviews, networking, and prayer support. One problem emerged: Whenever someone got a job, he or she almost never returned to the group to offer encouragement. That increased the loneliness and isolation of those left in the group.

Worse, though, were comments from those who had never experienced a job loss. They mirrored the accusations of Job’s friends in his suffering: “If you were pure and upright, surely now [God] would awake for you, and prosper [you]” (8:6). By chapter 12, Job is starting to express things in terms modern workers can understand. He says that he feels despised by those whose life is easy (v.5).

When things are going well for us, we may start to think that we who don’t have troubles are better somehow, or are more loved by God, than those who are struggling. We forget that the effects of this fallen world are indiscriminate.

We are all loved by the Lord and we all need Him—in good times and bad. The successes, abundance, and positions that God has given to us are tools to help us encourage others in their time of need.

— Randy Kilgore

Give us the humility, Lord, not to act like Job’s friends
who accused him of sin because of his trials. Show us
how to help those who are struggling so that we might
give the kind of encouragement You have given us.

Humility toward God makes us gentle toward others. 

ODJ: true value

January 14, 2013 

READ: Luke 16:1-13 

If you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? (v.11).

Johannes Gutenberg had an idea that would change the world, but he needed money to finance it. He contacted his neighbour, Johann Fust, who loaned him the cash to build his first printing press. Gutenberg initially made money for his loan payments by printing indulgences for the Catholic Church. The job paid well, but Gutenberg had higher hopes for his new machine. He wanted to print Bibles—magnificent books with Gothic letters that resembled a scribe’s meticulous style. But his 1,200 page Bibles took too long to produce and sell, and in 3 years he was bankrupt. Gutenberg handed his press over to Fust, who used it to publish a wide variety of books throughout Germany and France.
While he must have been annoyed to watch someone else make money from his invention, at least Gutenberg could be pleased with the way he went out. It may have been bad business to print Bibles rather than indulgences, but Gutenberg had no doubt which was more valuable (Luke 16:10). Ironically the world agrees, for the same Bibles that once bankrupted Gutenberg are valued now a huge fortune each. 

Have you faced a Gutenberg decision? Tired of taking advantage of others, you chose to value the Word of God above all else, and you discovered there is a cost to following Christ (v.13). Perhaps you gave your best advice, even though it meant steering your customer to another shop. You charged your normal fee, rather than rip off a client who might pay more. You chose to marry your fiancé you live with, knowing that marriage would cut your government benefits in half. 

Jesus said that your financial sacrifice is a down payment on everlasting wealth. Because you have been faithful in the ‘little things’ of “worldly wealth”, you will be entrusted “with the true riches of heaven” (v.11). Now that’s a deal!

—Mike Wittmer

Read Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 to learn the problems that inevitably come with money.
When have you paid a price for following Jesus? Why is it important that our faith cost us something?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

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!)