Entries by YMI

ODJ: back from the dead

February 11, 2013 

READ: 1 Kings 17:8-24 

The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! (v.22).  

The young couple grieved over their baby. The medical staff pronounced the baby stillborn and hurried the body away. The mother, drugged from the delivery, hadn’t even been able to kiss her baby girl goodbye. Twelve hours later Analia Bouter and her husband, Favian, went to the morgue to see their child and to say farewell. When the staff pulled out the drawer holding the body, they heard a baby’s cry. The newborn was alive!
A widow from Zarephath knew the sorrow of losing a child. The prophet Elijah, at God’s instructions, had gone to the widow’s house and requested food and lodging. The widow had only enough food for one meal for her son and herself and then, she believed, they would both starve. Elijah, however, told the woman to cook a meal for him and that, as a result, their flour jar and oil jug would miraculously refill. She did, and each morning there was flour and oil for that day’s provisions.
Sadly, the story took a tragic turn. The son fell sick and died, and the woman cried to Elijah: “What have you done to me?” (1 Kings 17:18). Overwhelmed by the mother’s grief, Elijah took the boy’s corpse upstairs and prayed passionately to God: “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him” (v.21).
Imagine the mother’s joy when she saw Elijah bringing her son down the stairs and heard the prophet say, “Look! . . . Your son is alive!” (v.23). Now imagine the joy when, on that resurrection Sunday, God announced to the world: “My Son is alive!” From Eden forward, Scripture tells us that death in all its manifestations is the great enemy. Jesus’ resurrection announces God’s authority over death and asserts the fact that God has begun to dismantle its power.
The joy the widow knew is a joy we will all one day know. —Winn Collier

Read 2 Kings 4:20-37. What is similar and dissimilar about this account and Elijah’s story? Why are these ‘death to life’ stories so powerful?
What dead place in your life needs resurrection? Where have you experienced the joy of seeing new life breathed into something dead or lifeless?

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ODB: Greek Fire

February 10, 2013 

READ: James 3:1-12 

The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. —James 3:6 

Greek fire was a chemical solution that was used in ancient warfare by the Byzantine Empire against its enemies. According to one online source, it was developed around ad 672 and was used with devastating effect, especially in sea warfare because it could burn on water. What was Greek fire? Its actual chemical composition remains a mystery. It was such a valuable military weapon that the formula was kept an absolute secret—and was lost to the ravages of history. Today, researchers continue to try to replicate that ancient formula, but without success.

One source of catastrophic destruction among believers in Christ, however, is not a mystery. James tells us that the source of ruin in our relationships is often a very different kind of fire. He wrote, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body” (James 3:6). Those strong words remind us how damaging unguarded words can be to those around us.

Instead of creating the kind of verbal “Greek fire” that can destroy relationships, families, and churches, let’s yield our tongue to the Holy Spirit’s control and allow our words to glorify the Lord.

— Bill Crowder

It seems, Father, that sometimes we are our own
worst enemies. Forgive us for speaking destructively
to fellow Christians, and teach us to use wise words
that can encourage and build their walk with You.

To bridle your tongue, give God the reins of your heart. 

ODJ: just say the word

February 10, 2013 

READ: Luke 7:1-10 

Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed (v.7).

When a man entered a restaurant proclaiming that he was the new boss, manager Tracy Brant didn’t believe it. Although the man was sporting a trench coat, tie and carrying a briefcase, Tracy dialled the restaurant’s headquarters to verify his claim. Meanwhile, the well dressed intruder cooked himself a burger and chips in the restaurant kitchen. Before he finished eating, Brant confirmed that he was only masquerading as a manager. He had no legitimate authority in the restaurant.
The religious leaders of His day portrayed Jesus as someone simply masquerading—an intruder with no real power (Mark 11:27-33). Those who knew Jesus, however, acknowledged Him as the ruler of everything. As eyewitnesses to His miracles and students of His teaching, they were awestruck by His authority (Matthew 9:8).
In one instance a Roman soldier recognised Jesus’ ultimate power, and he said, “I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come” (Luke 7:8). The soldier knew Jesus had that kind of command over sickness and disease, so he arranged for the Lord to heal a servant of his. Unlike most people who asked Jesus to perform bedside miracles, the soldier sent Jesus this message: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home. . . . Just say the word from where You are, and my servant will be healed” (vv.6-7). Amazed, Jesus said: “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” (v.9). And sure enough, the servant was healed.
As Christians, we’re on first name terms with the One who is in charge of our world (John 10:3). This truth can increase our faith. When we need help, we can send Jesus a message that begins like this: Just say the word from where You are. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read John 10:18 to understand how Jesus’ authority was involved with His ultimate sacrifice. Read Matthew 9:6 to see how Jesus’ authority was (and is) unlike any other authority.
What might happen if we replaced Jesus’ authority in our lives with that of pastors, mentors or Bible teachers? What’s the relationship between our faith and Jesus’ authority?


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ODB: Divine Diversions

February 9, 2013 

READ: Matthew 1:18-25 

And he called His name Jesus. —Matthew 1:25 

I tend to get stuck in my ways, so anything that diverts me from my routines and plans can be very annoying. Worse yet, life’s diversions are sometimes unsettling and painful. But God, who said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8), knows that He often needs to divert us in order to make more of our lives than we would have if we had stuck to our original plans.

Think of Joseph. God diverted him to Egypt to prepare him to rescue God’s chosen people from starvation. Or of Moses, who was diverted from the luxurious lifestyle of Pharaoh’s house to meet God in the wilderness in preparation to lead God’s people toward the Promised Land. Or of Joseph and Mary to whom the angel announced the most significant diversion of all. Mary would be with child, and this child would be called “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Joseph believed in the bigger purpose that God had for him, surrendered to the diversion, and obediently “called His name Jesus” (v.25). The rest is wonderful history!

We can trust God’s greater plans as He does His far better work in the history of our lives.

— Joe Stowell

Lord, teach us to be willing to adjust our plans to
conform to Yours. You have greater things in store for
us than we could ever dream, so help us to patiently
wait for You to work in the circumstances of our lives.

Let God direct—or redirect—your steps. 

ODJ: walk worthy of God

February 9, 2013 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 2:12-16 

We pleaded with you, encouraged you and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy (v.12).

Congratulations for doing so well!” Friends and family recently showered me with praise. But it was due to the fact that my daughter had done exceptionally well in her national examinations. As a father, I couldn’t have been prouder of my daughter’s achievements. Likewise, we do our heavenly Father proud when we live our lives “in a way that God would consider worthy” (1 Thessalonians 2:12; see also Matthew 5:16).
That the believers at Thessalonica would live in a way “that God would consider worthy” (1 Thessalonians 2:12) was Paul’s expectation for his spiritual sons and daughters. Bible teacher Alexander Maclaren states: “Here we have the whole law of Christian conduct in a nutshell. There may be many detailed commandments, but they can all be deduced from this one.”
To live a ‘worthy’ life means reflecting in our words and actions who our heavenly Father is (Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 5:1). It means to become like His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2).

To live worthy lives, we need God’s Word. The Bible is not ‘mere human ideas’. It’s the “very Word of God” that has the power to transform lives and “continues to work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). To live worthy lives, we must receive, believe and be changed by God’s Word (Romans 12:2).
Paul also warned us of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 2:16). God’s anger is just as real as His love (Exodus 34:6-7; Jeremiah 32:18). When we “fail to please God” (1 Thessalonians 2:15) and “continue to pile up [our] sins,” there is no escaping God’s wrath (v.16, Hebrews 2:1-3, 10:26-29). God will punish sin and sinful behaviour (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:9-12).
Our Father has certain expectations of us. Let’s get to know Him better and better, and produce every kind of good fruit that honours and pleases Him (Colossians 1:10). —K.T. Sim

What does the worthy life look like based on Ephesians 4:1-5 and Colossians 1:9-10?
What steps do you need to take to walk worthy of God? How has God’s Word changed you in the past few months?

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ODB: Mysterious Truth

February 8, 2013 

READ: John 17:20-26 

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. —Psalm 116:15 

Sometimes when the infinite God conveys His thoughts to finite man, mystery is the result. For example, there’s a profound verse in the book of Psalms that seems to present more questions than answers: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants” (116:15 niv).

I shake my head and wonder how that can be. I see things with earthbound eyes, and I have a tough time seeing what is “precious” about the fact that our daughter was taken in a car accident at the age of 17—or that any of us have lost cherished loved ones.

We begin to unwrap the mystery, though, when we consider that what is precious to the Lord is not confined to earthly blessings. This verse examines a heaven-based perspective. For instance, I know from Psalm 139:16 that Melissa’s arrival in God’s heaven was expected. God was looking for her arrival, and it was precious in His eyes. And think about this: Imagine the Father’s joy when He welcomes His children home and sees their absolute ecstasy in being face to face with His Son (see John 17:24).

When death comes for the follower of Christ, God opens His arms to welcome that person into His presence. Even through our tears, we can see how precious that is in God’s eyes.

— Dave Branon

Lord, when sorrow grips our hearts as we think about
the death of one close to us, remind us of the joy You are
experiencing as our loved one enjoys the pleasures of
heaven. Please allow that to give us hope and comfort.

A sunset in one land is a sunrise in another. 

ODJ: live prepared 

February 8, 2013 

READ: 1 Timothy 4:7-16 

Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you (v.16).

On a recent family trip, we were driving late at night through thickly wooded areas. A small bright gleam to the left captured our attention, and my husband quickly slowed the car as two deer leaped across our path. We took that teachable moment to explain to our children the power of peripheral vision—giving them insight to use one day when they’re behind the wheel.
Our spiritual journey can often resemble a drive through mountainous regions in the dark of night. Unable to see the future, we encounter unexpected challenges, sharp bends and steep climbs in the road of life. With that in mind, Paul was preparing his spiritual son Timothy for everyday decisions, as well as for ministry. He wanted him to know the importance of keeping his vision in the right places (1 Timothy 4:13,16) and to be watchful of peripheral dangers (2 Timothy 2:16,22-23).
While the enemy’s attacks often come in the aggressive posturing of a lion (1 Peter 5:8), he also specialises in catching us unaware (Matthew 7:15; 2 Corinthians 11:14). We can’t live in fear—to do so is to pull over on the road of life and refuse to move forward. But we can find the fulfilment that God’s Word promises when we travel in the direction of His leading, remaining aware of the spiritual realm in which we live (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Certainly our lives can be drastically altered if we refuse to deal with an egregious area of sin. Just as dangerous, though, are the little areas of compromise (Song of Solomon 2:15). Scripture admonishes us: “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. . . . Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:15,17).

Live prepared (1 Peter 1:13). —Regina Franklin

Read Deuteronomy 4:1-9 to see the relationship between remembrance and obedience and how they can keep us from falling prey to the enemy’s lies.


In what area has the enemy caught you off-guard you in the past? How can you keep your spiritual vision focused and clear?.

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ODB: Stranded

February 7, 2013 

READ: Genesis 39:19-23 

The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy. —Genesis 39:21 

Traveling by bus from Memphis, Tennessee, to St. Louis, Missouri, typically takes about 6 hours—unless the bus driver leaves you stranded at a gas station. This happened to 45 passengers aboard a bus who waited 8 hours overnight for a replacement driver after the original driver abandoned them. They must have felt frustrated by the delay, anxious about the outcome, and impatient for rescue.

Joseph probably shared those feelings when he landed in prison for a crime he didn’t commit (Gen. 39). Abandoned and forgotten by any human who might help him, he was stranded. Still, “the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor” (v.21). Eventually, the prison warden promoted Joseph to oversee fellow inmates, and whatever Joseph did, “the Lord made it prosper” (v.23). But despite God’s presence and blessing, Joseph remained incarcerated for years.

You may be stranded in a hospital room, a jail cell, a country far from home, or your own inner prison. No matter where you are, or how long you’ve been there, God’s mercy and kindness can reach you. Because He is God Almighty (Ex. 6:3) and present everywhere (Jer. 23:23-24), He can protect, promote, and provide for you when it seems no one else can help.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear God, help us to remember
Your presence and power even when
we are not where we want to be in life. Remind us
to reach for You when no one else can reach us.

God is present—even when we feel He is absent. 

ODJ: opening up

February 7, 2013 

READ: Philippians 3:8-14 

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on . . . (v.12).

Recently my wife and I had the privilege of speaking on Loving One Another at a marriage retreat. Attendees included couples of all ages—those who had been married just a year to a ‘golden’ duo who had spent 50 years together. That couple, Joe and Arlene, blessed the younger couples as they transparently revealed some of the struggles they had experienced in their marriage. They candidly acknowledged their imperfections but also stated that they had chosen to cling to God and their vows as they went through rocky times together.
Speaking the truth, letting people see some of our ‘warts’, can be greatly encouraging to other believers in Jesus. Even super-apostle Paul admitted that he was no Superman! He wrote, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12). Paul’s relationships were also a bit rocky at times, including the times he argued and fell out with Barnabas (Acts 15:38-39) and Peter (Galatians 2:11-13).
By God’s wisdom, the Bible is full of accounts of those who knew God but still had feet of clay . . . those who were far from perfect. You and I should live our faith by being honest about our failures and struggles. And, when appropriate, we should communicate these things to help encourage and build up other believers. We can plainly state that we “have not achieved [perfection], but [we] . . . press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14).
As we open up, we show that our confidence isn’t in our own ‘human effort’ (v.3) but in the righteousness of Jesus (v.9). —Tom Felten

The Psalms are full of real, raw words of personal fear, pain and failure. Read a few right now and consider how you’re encouraged by the honesty and transparency found in what David and others wrote.
How can you use your past failures and challenges to bless and encourage others? What kinds of failure are not helpful to share?


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