Entries by YMI

ODJ_240317

ODJ: Stinging Words

Many years ago, a relative repeatedly attacked my faith in Jesus. His words and criticism—bathed in cynicism—deeply hurt me. Although he passed away more than a decade ago, and I’ve forgiven him, there are still times I feel as if this relative is standing next to me— belittling me for following Jesus.Indeed, one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced in life is

March 24, 2017 

READ: Isaiah 26:1-14 


O Lord our God, others have ruled us, but you alone are the one we worship (v.13). 

Many years ago, a relative repeatedly attacked my faith in Jesus. His words and criticism—bathed in cynicism—deeply hurt me. Although he passed away more than a decade ago, and I’ve forgiven him, there are still times I feel as if this relative is standing next to me— belittling me for following Jesus.

Indeed, one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced in life is moving past his and others’ cutting words. Yet, as with every struggle in life, I’m often caught by surprise—in a beautiful way—at how Scripture meets us in the depths of our pain and offers us a path to freedom.

Most recently, I experienced this as I read through Isaiah 26 and was struck by the profound nature of verses 13 and 14, which read: “O Lord our God, others have ruled us, but you alone are the one we worship. Those we served before are dead and gone. Their departed spirits will never return! You attacked them and destroyed them, and they are long forgotten.”

One commentator notes that this passage is referencing “the principal enemies of the Jews, who had oppressed them, and were slain when Babylon was taken by Cyrus”. But our minds can also be filled with wounds we’ve received from others—leading us to experience emotional and spiritual captivity.

Rather than letting someone’s accusations and meanspiritedness have control over us, we can experience victory when we to submit to God and worship Him alone. It’s comforting to know that even when others cause us pain, Jesus “will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in [Him]” (v.3 niv). May we look to Him and trust in our “eternal Rock” who can help us withstand stinging words (v.4).

—Roxanne Robbins

365-day plan: 1 Samuel 10:1-27

MORE
Read Psalm 147:3 and think about how God heals and helps us overcome our wounds. 
NEXT
How have you experienced emotional or spiritual captivity? How do God’s promises and presence encourage you to break free from the wounds of others? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB_240317

ODB: His Wonderful Face

My four-year-old son is full of questions, and chatters constantly. I love talking with him, but he’s developed an unfortunate habit of talking to me even when his back is turned. I often find myself saying, “I can’t hear you—please look at me when you’re talking.”Sometimes I think God wants to say the same thing to us—not because He can’t hear us, b

March 24, 2017 

READ: 1 Chronicles 16:8–27  

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.  1 Chronicles 16:11

 

My four-year-old son is full of questions, and chatters constantly. I love talking with him, but he’s developed an unfortunate habit of talking to me even when his back is turned. I often find myself saying, “I can’t hear you—please look at me when you’re talking.”

Sometimes I think God wants to say the same thing to us—not because He can’t hear us, but because we can tend to talk to Him without really “looking” at Him. We pray, but we remain caught up in our own questions and focused on ourselves, forgetting the character of the One we’re praying to. Like my son, we ask questions without paying attention to the person we’re talking to. 

Many of our concerns are best addressed by reminding ourselves of who God is and what He has done. By simply refocusing, we find comfort in what we know of His character: that He is loving, forgiving, sovereign, graceful.

The psalmist believed we ought to seek God’s face continually (Ps. 105:4). When David appointed leaders for worship and prayer, he encouraged the people to praise God’s character and tell stories of His past faithfulness (1 Chron. 16:8–27).

When we turn our eyes toward the beautiful face of God, we can find strength and comfort that sustain us even in the midst of unanswered questions.

— Amy Peterson

Lord, let the light of Your face shine upon us.


Seeking the face of God can strengthen our faith.

 

ODJ_230317

ODJ: Everyone Has a Story

The speaker at our conference asked us to gather in groups of three with people we had never met. He told us to each take one minute to tell the others about ourselves and share the story of one person we wanted God to bless. One man said he wanted God to bless his wife who was battling cancer while she cared for her invalid mother. Another praised God for healing his wife’s cancer but said

March 23, 2017 

READ: Philippians 2:1-18 


Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (v.4). 

The speaker at our conference asked us to gather in groups of three with people we had never met. He told us to each take one minute to tell the others about ourselves and share the story of one person we wanted God to bless. One man said he wanted God to bless his wife who was battling cancer while she cared for her invalid mother. Another praised God for healing his wife’s cancer but said he was concerned for his adult son who was far from God.

If this had been a typical session, we would have left as we came in—as strangers. But because the speaker asked us to share something personal, we made an immediate and intense connection.

I left the session wondering what other stories are out there. Most people are struggling with something significant while also rejoicing about something else. Everyone needs prayer—either to celebrate God’s goodness or to seek God’s grace. It isn’t wise for us to walk up to strangers and demand that they open up, but we can be aware that each person has unexpressed yearnings. May we learn how to “share [these] burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

One way to prepare to share others’ burdens is to humbly put them first, reflecting Jesus’ humility. Rather than trying to impress others with our own stories or witty comments, may we ask questions and then really listen to what they have to say (Philippians 2:3; James 1:19). If they’re hesitant to share, may we remain “patient with everyone”, permitting each to open up at their own pace (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).

As we actively seek to hear the stories of others, we can grow to truly love and care for them—relying on God to help us imitate His ways.

—Mike WittMer

365-day plan: 1 Samuel 9:1-21

MORE
Read Job 16:1-22 and consider what you should do and what you should avoid when comforting and listening to someone. 
NEXT
Who needs you to listen to them? Make time for them today. How does sharing our stories with one another help us advance Jesus’ kingdom? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)