Entries by YMI

Between Touches

During the time scholars refer to as His “year of opposition,” Jesus and His disciples traveled through the village of Bethsaida.

ODB: Love Locks

September 25, 2020 

READ: Song of Songs 8:5–7 

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. Song of Songs 8:6

 

I stood amazed at the hundreds of thousands of padlocks, many engraved with the initials of sweethearts, attached to every imaginable part of the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris. The pedestrian bridge across the Seine River was inundated with these symbols of love, a couple’s declaration of “forever” commitment. In 2014, the love locks were estimated to weigh a staggering fifty tons and had even caused a portion of the bridge to collapse, necessitating the locks’ removal.

The presence of so many love locks points to the deep longing we have as human beings for assurance that love is secure. In Song of Songs, an Old Testament book that depicts a dialogue between two lovers, the woman expresses her desire for secure love by asking her beloved to “place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm” (Song of Songs 8:6). Her longing was to be as safe and secure in his love as a seal impressed on his heart or a ring on his finger.

The longing for enduring romantic love expressed in Song of Songs points us to the New Testament truth in Ephesians that we are marked with the “seal” of God’s Spirit (1:13). While human love can be fickle, and locks can be removed from a bridge, Christ’s Spirit living in us is a permanent seal demonstrating God’s never-ending, committed love for each of His children.

— Lisa M. Samra

How have you experienced the secure love of your heavenly Father? How might you allow His love to guide and encourage you today?

Heavenly Father, thank You that even though the security of human love often remains elusive, Your love for me is strong, steadfast, and eternal.  

HIV Turned My Life Around—For Good

Sometime in 2017, a coworker who knew that I was an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, asked if I could accompany him for an HIV test. I agreed and decided to also get myself tested. When I received the test results, I was stunned. I was HIV positive.

ODB: Never Too Sinful

September 24, 2020 

READ: Nehemiah 9:17, 27–31 

You are a forgiving God . . . abounding in love. Nehemiah 9:17

 

“If I touched a Bible, it would catch fire in my hands,” said my community college English professor. My heart sank. The novel we’d been reading that morning referenced a Bible verse, and when I pulled out my Bible to look it up, she noticed and commented. My professor seemed to think she was too sinful to be forgiven. Yet I wasn’t bold enough to tell her about God’s love—and that the Bible tells us we can always seek God’s forgiveness.

There’s an example of repentance and forgiveness in Nehemiah. The Israelites had been exiled because of their sin, but now they were allowed to return to Jerusalem. When they’d “settled in,” Ezra the scribe read the law to them (Nehemiah 7:73–8:3). They confessed their sins, remembering that despite their sin God “did not desert” or “abandon them” (9:17, 19). He “heard them” when they cried out; and in compassion and mercy, He was patient with them (vv. 27–31).

In a similar way, God is patient with us. He won’t abandon us if we choose to confess our sin and turn to Him. I wish I could go back and tell my professor that, no matter her past, Jesus loves her and wants her to be part of His family. He feels the same way about you and me. We can approach Him seeking forgiveness—and He will give it!

— Julie Schwab

Do you know someone who feels they’re too sinful for Jesus to forgive them? How does the truth that Jesus has come not for “the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17) speak to this way of thinking?

Dear Father, thank You for forgiving my sins and for Your assurance that no one is too sinful to be forgiven.
To learn more about forgiveness in the Christian life, visit ChristianUniversity 

ODB: God-Paved Memories

September 23, 2020 

READ: Deuteronomy 4:3–10 

Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me. Deuteronomy 4:10

 

When my grown son faced a difficult situation, I reminded him about God’s constant care and provision during his dad’s year of unemployment. I recounted the times God strengthened our family and gave us peace while my mom fought and lost her battle with leukemia. Highlighting the stories of God’s faithfulness stitched into Scripture, I affirmed He was good at keeping His word. I led my son down our family’s God-paved memory lane, reminding him about the ways He remained reliable through our valley and mountaintop moments. Whether we were struggling or celebrating, God’s presence, love, and grace proved sufficient.

Although I’d like to claim this faith-strengthening strategy as my own, God designed the habit of sharing stories to inspire the future generations’ belief in Him. As the Israelites remembered all they’d seen God do in the past, He placed cobblestones of confidence down their divinely paved memory lanes.

The Israelites had witnessed God holding true to His promises as they followed Him (Deuteronomy 4:3–6). He’d always heard and answered their prayers (v. 7). Rejoicing and reminiscing with the younger generations (v. 9), the Israelites shared the holy words breathed and preserved by the one true God (v. 10).

As we tell of our great God’s majesty, mercy, and intimate love, our convictions and the faith of others can be strengthened by the confirmation of His enduring trustworthiness.

— Xochitl Dixon

Who’s invested in your spiritual growth by sharing what God has done in their lives? What creative ways can you share His faithfulness and love across generational lines?

Sovereign God, thank You for empowering me to walk with sure-footed faith that crosses generational lines.  

Purpose In The Words Of 5 Famous People

What are we living for? What gets us out of bed every morning? Why do we do what we do? 

Regardless of who we are or what we’ve accomplished in life, these are questions that we’ll probably ask ourselves at some point.

More than Co-workers

Abbie had been working in the same company for two years when she began to realize that her colleagues were more than just people who happened to work in the same place.