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Poem: By Your Side

Written By Chris Roe, United Kingdom

By your side
There is peace,
A quiet place
Of beauty and realization,
Where wisdom
Seeks reason and understanding,
Where myth is laid to rest
By the reality of knowledge.

By your side
There is hope,
That arrogance and greed
Will not destroy,
That selfless love
Will prevail.

By your side
Life is sacred,
A future
For the children
To unfold.
By your side
In your presence
There is love.

ODJ: with the Lord

July 26, 2013 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 

Since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died (v.14).

Everyone wants to know what heaven will be like,and over the past several years a spate of books have promised to tell them. Don Piper was first with his 90 Minutes in Heaven. Following that bestseller, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real were published and enthusiastically received by readers. One book went in the opposite direction—literally—23 Minutes in Hell.

These books that claim to provide firsthand accountsof the afterlife have encouraged many, but I’ll limit my words to what we find in Scripture. Read Luke 23:43,2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:21-23 and1 Thessalonians 4:14, and you’ll discover that one thing Scripture says about heaven is that it’s where we’re with the Lord. This is enough, because the presence of the Lord is what makes heaven ‘heaven’. Why wasn’t Lazarus upset when Jesus raised him from the dead? Why didn’t he complain? I think he may have been glad to come back to life because Jesus was there. Lazarus’ house in Bethany had become a corner of heaven.

We get another glimpse of heaven in Revelation 6:9-11. John writes of the martyred saints shouting to the Lord, “How long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood?” They’re not suffering, for they’ve been delivered from the grasp of sin. But they aren’t entirely satisfied either. As great as it is to be a disembodied soul in heaven, there’s something even better: to be a whole person living on Earth.

And so these saints pray for the return of Jesus and the resurrection of their bodies. Let’s join them in the closing prayer of Scripture, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).—Mike Wittmer
› Matthew 18:10-22

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Read Revelation 21-22 to learn what will happen when Jesus returns to Earth.  
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What burning question do you have about heaven? Why do you think Scripture doesn’t answer it? What should you do withthis question?  

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ODJ: speaking of Jesus

July 14, 2013 

READ: John 5:1-15 

The man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him (v.15).

While waiting for a mechanic to change my car’s tyres, I struck up a conversation with a man in the waiting area. Troy was visiting my town for a few days and had discovered that his vehicle needed repairs. After some small talk, the Holy Spirit prompted me to go deeper and I was able to express my faith in Jesus to him. We exchanged contact information, and later I received an email from Troy that contained these words: “My stay in [your city] was great, but you were the only person I heard speak of Jesus. Others spoke of their church.”

I’m so thankful I felt the freedom to speak of Jesus to Troy. That hasn’t always been my experience. With that in mind, there’s a man with whom Jesus once spoke who gives me great encouragement (John 5:5). Jesus met this struggling man by the pool of Bethesda—a place where the “sick people—blind, lame or paralysed” hung out and hoped to find healing (vv.3,7).

Jesus asked the man, “Would you like to get well?” (v.6). The man responded by stating that he couldn’t get into—what he thought were—the healing waters of the pool when they were stirred (v.7). Jesus simply told him to pick up his mat and walk home (v.8). The “man was healed!” (v.9).

But the Jewish leaders saw him carrying his mat—something that was against their Sabbath laws (v.10). They interrogated the man and asked who had healed him, but he didn’t know. After Jesus met with him again, the man learned His name (v.14), and he “went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him” (v.15).

I love the man’s example! He simply told others about Jesus and what He had done in his life. Let’s do the same today.—Tom Felten
› Mark 6:1-13

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Read 1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2 and Philippians 1:18 and consider how Paul’s example and perspective should be reflected in our witness for Jesus.  
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How does it encourage you to think of sharing your faith as simply speaking of Jesus? Who will you share Jesus with today? 

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ODJ: sculpting a stump

June 27, 2013 

READ: Exodus 2:11-15 

Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what I did”(v.14).

One morning I noticed a man with a chainsaw cutting down a large tree in front of some local farm buildings. He was still there in the afternoon, working on the tree stump with his power tool set at an unusual angle. Days later I passed the place again and noticed the stump had been transformed into a replica of a corncob. The man hadn’t been merely toppling a tree, he had sculpted vertical rows of ears of corn.

That sculpture reminds me that God can take a life that is the spiritual equivalent of a tree stump—unfruitful, unsightly and unusable—and transform it into a work of art for His glory (Ephesians 2:10).

God used Moses to escort the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3:10-12), despite his severe moral misstep. Born into a Hebrew slave family, Moses grew up as Egyptian royalty. As an adult he was out among his own people and witnessed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. Moses made sure no one was watching, and then he “killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand” (2:12). The killing wasn’t an act of self-defence. It was unrestrained violence. It was impulsive sin.

Although most of us have never considered taking anyone’s life, we can relate to the familiar sequence of sinning—the sudden urge to violate God’s ethics, the act itself, and then the dismay and remorse that follow (James 1:14-15). Fortunately, God’s forgiveness and grace allow us to forget the past and look “forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).

God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and He can use us too. Let’s put on our “new nature”, “learn to know [Him]” and “become like Him” (Colossians 3:10).—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

MORE
Look up Isaiah 64:8 to see a picture of our relationship with God as His creation. Read 1 John 3:20 to see why guilt over past sin holds no power over Christians. 
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What might short-circuit God’s transforming power in our lives? In light of God’s grace to us, why is it wrong to cite past offences when dealing with others? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)