The Right Thing

Read: Philemon 1:1-20
It is the right thing for you to do (v.8).

Gjyste Vjerdha was busy working her nightly, graveyard-shift cleaning job at a restaurant with her 22-year-old son, Gentjan. As she tidied up a restroom, Gjyste found some women’s rings worth thousands of dollars. The thought of keeping the treasures might have crossed her mind, but she chose to do the right thing and take the jewelry to her manager. Later that day, the rings were returned to a woman who had accidentally left them in the restroom. Gentjan said, “You get so many things by hard work; you don’t need to steal or take from someone else.”

The apostle Paul once made an appeal to his friend Philemon who had likely experienced some theft by a man named Onesimus (v.18). During a stay in prison, Onesimus had become a believer in Jesus through Paul’s ministry (v.10).

Paul wanted Philemon to welcome back this young man who had once been Philemon’s slave—a pilfering one at that! The apostle wrote that to warmly receive the changed man would be “the right thing for you to do” (v.8). It was right, for Philemon’s forgiveness would reflect what Jesus Himself had taught and modeled.

As believers in Christ, when we do the right thing, the word gets around and others can see the beauty of real faith (v.5). When we’re forgiving, generous (v.6), loving, and kind (v.10), our actions reveal a right way of living for   Jesus’ sake (v.20).

Today you might come across something that doesn’t belong to you. You might be confronted with the opportunity to forgive someone who has offended you. Each moment of your life presents a simple question: Will you do the right thing?

Doing what’s right is a reflection of real faith in Jesus. Choose, for His sake, to do what you know is right today.

—Tom Felten

Taken from “Our Daily Journey”

ODB: In the Vine

September 20, 2019 

READ: John 15:1–8 

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

 

One spring after a particularly dreary winter during which she helped a family member through a long illness, Emma found encouragement each time she walked past a cherry tree near her home in Cambridge, England. Bursting out at the top of the pink blossoms grew blossoms of white. A clever gardener had grafted into the tree a branch of white flowers. When Emma passed the unusual tree, she thought of Jesus’s words about being the Vine and His followers the branches (John 15:1–8).

By calling Himself the Vine, Jesus was speaking of an image familiar to the Israelites in the Old Testament, for there the vine symbolized God’s people (Psalm 80:8–9; Hosea 10:1). Jesus extended this symbolism to Himself, saying He was the Vine and that His followers were grafted into Him as branches. And as they remained in Him, receiving His nourishment and strength, they would bear fruit (John 15:5).

As Emma supported her family member, she needed the reminder that she was connected to Jesus. Seeing the white flowers among the pink ones gave her a visual prompt of the truth that as she remained in the Vine, she gained nourishment through Him.

When we who believe in Jesus embrace the idea of being as close to Him as a branch is to a vine, our faith is strengthened and enriched.

— Amy Boucher Pye

How are you receiving spiritual nourishment from Jesus? What will help you remain in the Vine?


Jesus, thank You for helping me to remain in You. May I find the peace, hope, and strength I need today.  

The Many Faces of God

Read: Exodus 34:6-7
I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty (vv.6-7).

In their “American Piety in the 21st Century” study, Baylor University and the Gallup Organization asked 1,721 survey participants about God’s character and behavior. They discovered that contemporary Americans worship at least four versions of the Almighty.

First, there’s Authoritarian God, who is seen as highly involved in believers’ lives and in world affairs, but who is ready to throw the thunderbolt of judgment on the ungodly.

Then there’s Benevolent God, who still sets absolute standards for mankind in the Bible, but is seen primarily as a forgiving God, more like the father who embraces His prodigal son.

Believers in Critical God understand Him as the classic bearded grandfather in the sky, who looks at the world in disapproval, but does not intervene-to punish or to comfort.

Finally, there’s Distant God, who is not active in humanity’s affairs at all, and is not especially angry either. Distant God is more of a cosmic force who set the laws of nature in motion and has left the universe spinning on its own.

Authoritarian, benevolent, critical, or distant-which is most accurate? Which do you believe God to be?

Moses once stood before God, shivering in awe as God declared, “I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. . . . But I do not excuse the guilty” (vv.6-7). God is holy, not indifferent; engaged, not distant; a “heartbeat,” not some impersonal electrical current. As to doubts about His personal nature, God wrapped Himself in humanity and lived out His character before us in Jesus-who loved and forgave and got angry at injustice.

Contemporary understandings of God are confused. Today, let’s discover afresh the One who went to the most extraordinary lengths to make Himself known.

—Sheridan Voysey

Taken from “Our Daily Journey”

ODB: Feeling Small

September 19, 2019 

READ: Matthew 6:25–32 

What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:4

 

Many movie critics consider David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia one of the greatest films of all time. With its seemingly endless vistas of the Arabian deserts, it has influenced a generation of filmmakers—including Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg. “I was inspired the first time I saw Lawrence,” said Spielberg. “It made me feel puny. It still makes me feel puny. And that’s one measure of its greatness.”

What makes me feel small is creation’s vastness—when I gaze at an ocean, fly over the polar ice cap, or survey a night sky sparkling with a billion stars. If the created universe is so expansive, how much greater must be the Creator who spoke it into being!

God’s greatness and our feelings of insignificance are echoed by David when he declares, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:4 nlt). But Jesus assures us, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

I may feel small and insignificant, but through my Father’s eyes, I have great worth—a worth that is proven every time I look at the cross. The price He was willing to pay to restore me to fellowship with Him is evidence of how He values me.   

— Bill Crowder

What wonder of creation draws your attention to God? How does it impact you to know how much your Creator values you? 


Father, help us to remember Your heart is for us. Read The Surprising Side of God at discoveryseries.org/q0213.