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ODJ: “there’s probably no God”

July 24, 2013 

READ: Psalm 53:1-6  

From His throne [God] observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so He understands everything they do (33:14-15).

In February 2009 an atheist group in the UK purchasedadvertisement space on the side of 800 buses as wellas 1,000 posters on London’s trains that read, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” A Christian group, the Trinitarian Bible Society, responded by launching a rival ad campaign splashing a Bible verse, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalm 53:1” (KJV)—along with details on how to obtain a Bible—on 183 buses in London.

I’m not sure what to make of this advertisement war. But David tells us that “God looks down from heaven on the entire human race . . . to see if anyone is truly wise” (Psalm 53:2). And the truly wise person is the one who seeks Him (v.2). In contrast, “Only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God’” (v.1).

In God’s Word, a fool is not defined by his lack of intellect. A person with the highest IQ is deemed a fool if he lives as if there’s no God. “As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). So a fool does not seek God or pray to Him for he has rejected God (Psalm 53:2-4). Without God and without a spiritual compass, the fool is corrupt, evil and does no good—opposing and oppressing those who believe in God (vv.1,3-4).

The atheists’ advertisement is wrong. God exists! And He’s the very reason one should worry! For those who deny His existence will experience the unequalled terror of meeting God face to face! (v.5). Because they rejected God, “God has rejected them” (v.5).

So what’s your choice? Are you foolish or wise in God’s eyes?—K.T. Sim

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Read Romans 1:18-25 to see what Paul has to say about the foolishness and sinfulness of man.  
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David says that God observes and examines every person (Psalm 11:4-7, 53:2). Does this comfort or terrorise you? Why? 

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ODJ: the real boss

July 6, 2013 

READ: 2 Timothy 2:23-26 

The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm (Exodus 14:14).

Seven months later, American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke some words in response to attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East that echoed my son’s convictions.

“When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence,” Clinton said. “The same goes for all faiths. . . . Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is . . . a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

Whether from the mouths of babes or seasoned leaders, there’s wisdom in the exhortation to refrain from fighting.

As Scripture strongly states: “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honour; only fools insist on quarrelling” (Proverbs 20:3); “An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin. Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honour” (29:22-23); “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them” (15:18); “Greed causes fighting; trusting the Lord leads to prosperity. Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe” (28:25-26).

As followers of Jesus, let’s adhere to the apostle Paul’s advice, “Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone . . . and be patient with difficult people” (2 Timothy 2:23-24).

—Roxanne Robbins
› Matthew 11:1-30

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In 2 Timothy 4:7, what does Paul mean whenhe says he has “fought the good fight”? How does this type offighting differ from violence and retaliation? 
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What has caused quarrels or fights in your life recently? How can you apply Scripture to help heal your relationship(s)? 

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ODJ: confronting the darkness

July 3, 2013 

READ: Matthew 16:13-28 

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (v.23).

If we believe in the existence of heaven and hell, then we must also believe Scripture when it speaks of an active spirit world. Just as Jesus acknowledged that Peter did not receive his messianic revelation through ‘flesh and blood’ (God the Father revealed it), Paul reminds us that “we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The powers of darkness are real, and in a moment of great regret, Peter (one who understood and believed in Jesus as his Messiah) gave in to his humanity by putting his own desires above the will of the Father. Not all demonic influence manifests in contorted bodies and violent threats (Matthew 17:15-18; Mark 5:6-20). For Peter, it was the seemingly simple observation that surely Christ had not come to die. More than highlighting Peter’s failures though, this particular interchange with Jesus also reveals the infinite power of Jesus. He’s greater than any spiritual enemy (Psalm 18:39-42).

Spiritual battles aren’t reserved for the super spiritual. Jesus has already done the work; we simply have to walk in it (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11).

—Regina Franklin
Matthew 7:1-12 ‹

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Read John 8:36-44 to see what specific spiritual challenges Jesus confronted. How can we apply the weapons Paul lists?  
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What spiritual challenges are you facing? How will you rely on God’s power to overcome them? 

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ODJ: backslap back?

June 14, 2013 

READ: Matthew 5:38-48 

But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the rightcheek, offer the other cheek also (v.39).

When I lived in China I had an American friend who was radically committed to bringing the gospel to that nation. He mastered the Chinese language until even the Chinese thought he spoke exactly like them, with no foreign accent; and he aggressively shared Jesus at every opportunity. Once he was attacked by thugs, and rather than use his larger size to fight back he obeyed Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek. His pummelling increased my admiration for him, though I also think he missed Jesus’ point.

Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek is not a caution against self-defence. He assumed that there was a place for self-defence (Luke 12:11, 22:36), and Paul repeatedly defended himself before others (Acts 22:1, 24:10). Neither does Jesus mean that we should simply stand there and take a beating, for even He slipped away when crowds tried to kill Him (Luke 4:28-30; John 8:59, 10:39).

The key to understanding Jesus’ point is the direction of the slap. In a right-handed world, a person who is slapped on the right cheek would be slapped by the back of the hand, which signifies insult and shame. The Roman world of Jesus’ day was consumed with honour. Emperors went to war over slights and snubs, both real and imagined.

We still do. Someone snidely remarks, “Your work isn’t half bad, it’s mostly bad.” Backslap! We reply that we didn’t know they could tell the difference. Backslap back! And just like that, our mutual disrespect can escalate into a verbal war. Imagine how much trouble we could avoid if we followed Jesus’ command to deflate the argument by turning the other cheek!

Anyone who attempts anything meaningful will at times be disrespected. You will be backslapped. Don’t backslap back.—Mike Wittmer

› Luke 2:41-52

MORE
Read Romans 12:9-21 to learn how we should respond to those who hurt us. 
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When have you felt disrespected? How did you respond? What would have been a Christ-like response? 

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