ODJ: breaking tradition

December 1, 2013 

READ: Acts 5:12-42 

Go to the temple and give the people this message of life! (v.20).

I didn’t realise how much my family’s Christmas traditions were ingrained in me until it came time for my husband and me to form our own. While we may have strong opinions about when to begin decorating or the best way to open presents, the real issue is deeper. In the ever changing flow of life, traditions bring a sense of stability. Even though no amount of Christmas baking, tree-decorating or family get-togethers can guarantee us permanence, we still hold them dear.

Not all traditions bring joy or life however. When preaching the gospel, Peter and his fellow apostles came up against far more than a cherished custom. Acts 5 records their encounter with a religious stronghold in the hearts of men. To the Sadducees, who were filled with jealousy, tradition mattered more than truth­­—especially when their customs guaranteed them power (v.17). The apostles, however, decided that the “message of life” mattered more than the threats of men (v.29).

The stronghold of bad religion will continue to offer its deceptive, false stability in posing as a bearer of truth. Instead of giving life, however, bad religion looks for ways to silence and punish those who move in the authority of Jesus (Acts 5:18,33,40). Fortunately, a greater truth prevails: God’s Word stands above the customs and rules of men (Psalm 119:38-39).

Because we now live in the new covenant of Christ, we must respond to the religious mindset just as the early church did. May we have the boldness to pray, “And now, O Lord, hear their threats and give us, Your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word” (Acts 4:29).

Wrapped in the flesh of a newborn babe (John 1:14; Galatians 4:4), Jesus came to undo the makings of man, in order that we—and our traditions—might be made new (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Mark 2:22). —Regina Franklin

Read Galatians 1:11-24 to understand the ideas of people and the ideas that are found in the truth of God. 
How can our traditions lead us into a deeper walk with Christ? In looking at your spiritual life, are there any areas where you have valued the patterns of men more than the truth of Scripture? 

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ODB: Spiritual Plagiarism

November 25, 2013 

READ: John 1:1-18 

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. —John 1:14 

When I teach English composition, I require students to write in class. I know that in-class writing is their own work, so in this way I become familiar with each student’s writing voice and am able to detect if they “borrow” a bit too heavily from another writer. Students are surprised to learn that their writing voice—which includes what they say as well as how they say it—is as distinctive as their speaking voice. Just as the words we speak come from our hearts, so do the words we write. They reveal who we are.

We become familiar with God’s voice in much the same way. By reading what He has written, we learn who He is and how He expresses Himself. Satan, however, tries to make himself sound like God (2 Cor. 11:14). By using God’s words in a slightly altered fashion, he comes up with convincing arguments for things that are untrue. For example, by convincing people to do things that simulate godliness, such as trusting in an outward regimen of self-discipline rather than Christ’s death for salvation (Col. 2:23), Satan has led many astray.

God went to extremes to make sure we’d recognize His voice. He not only gave us His Word, He gave us the Word made flesh—Jesus (John 1:14)—so that we will not be easily deceived or misled.

— Julie Ackerman Link

Instill within my heart, dear Lord,
A deep desire to know Your Word,
I want to learn to hear Your voice
That I may make Your will my choice. —D. DeHaan

Your Word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it. —Psalm 119:140 

ODB: Godspeed!

February 16, 2013 

READ: 2 John 1:1-11 

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him. —2 John 1:10 

In 1962, John Glenn made history as the first American to orbit the Earth. As the rocket ascended, ground control said, “Godspeed, John Glenn.” “Godspeed” comes from the expression, “May God prosper you.”

Though we don’t often hear this word today, the apostle John used it in his second epistle: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed” (2 John 1:10 kjv).

John has been referred to as “the apostle of love,” so why would he warn believers against pronouncing a blessing on others? Traveling evangelists were dependent on the hospitality of Christians to provide them with room and board. John was telling the believers that biblical truth is important. If itinerant missionaries were not preaching doctrine consistent with apostolic teaching, believers were not to bless their work by providing lodging or financial assistance.

This is also true for believers today. We are to treat everyone with kindness because God is kind to us. But when asked to financially support an endeavor, it’s important to always ask Him for wisdom. The Spirit who guides us into truth (John 16:13) will show us when it is appropriate to bid Godspeed to those we encounter.

— Dennis Fisher

Dear Lord, You know my heart. I love You
and want Your kingdom to prosper.
Give me Your wisdom to know where You want
me to take part and how. Thank You.

God’s Spirit through His Word gives wisdom to discern truth from error.