Entries by YMI

ODB: Daily Dependence

December 5, 2022 

READ: Matthew 6:6–13 

Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

 

One morning our younger kids decided to get up early and fix breakfast for themselves. Tired from a grueling week, my wife and I were trying to sleep until at least 7:00 a.m. on that Saturday morning. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash! I jumped out of bed and raced downstairs to find a shattered bowl, oatmeal all over the floor, and Jonas—our five-year-old—desperately trying to sweep (more like smear) the gooey mess off the floor. My children were hungry, but they chose not to ask for help. Instead of reaching out in dependence, they chose independence, and the result was definitely not a culinary delight.

In human terms, children are meant to grow from dependence to independence. But in our relationship with God, maturity means moving from independence to dependence on Him. Prayer is where we practice such dependent ways. When Jesus taught His disciples—and all of us who have come to believe in Him—to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), He was teaching a prayer of dependence. Bread is a metaphor for sustenance, deliverance, and guidance (vv. 11–13). We’re dependent on God for all that and more.

There are no self-made believers in Jesus, and we’ll never graduate from His grace. Throughout our lives, may we always begin our day by taking the posture of dependence as we pray to “our Father in heaven” (v. 9).

— Glenn Packiam

What’s the “bread” you’re praying for today? How do you reveal your trust in God as you call out to Him?

Dear Jesus, You’re my Creator and my Sustainer. Please help me to trust in You.  

ODB: A Labor of Love

December 4, 2022 

READ: Colossians 3:23–24 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. Colossians 3:23

 

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman to earn a medical degree. Yet during her lifetime (1831–95), she recalls being “ignored, slighted and rendered insignificant.” However, she remained devoted to healing and fulfilling her purpose. Crumpler affirmed that although some people might choose to judge her based on her race and gender, she’d always have a “renewed and courageous readiness to go whenever and wherever duty calls,” and that she did. She believed that treating women and children and providing medical attention for freed slaves was a way to serve God. Sadly, she didn’t receive formal recognition for her accomplishments until nearly a century later. 

There are times when we’ll be overlooked, devalued, or unappreciated by those around us. Biblical wisdom reminds us, however, that when God has called us to a task, we shouldn’t focus on gaining worldly approval and recognition but should instead “work at it with all [our] heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). When we focus on serving God, we’re able to accomplish even the most difficult tasks with fervor and gladness in His power and leading. We can then become less concerned with receiving earthly recognition and become more eager to receive the reward only He can provide (v. 24).

— Kimya Loder

When have you felt the good you did went overlooked? How can you practice keeping God at the forefront of your activities?

Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to do good things for You. Help me to focus on what You’ve called me to do.

For further study, read

ODB: Christmas Light

December 3, 2022 

READ: Exodus 3:4–10 

I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. . . . So I have come down to rescue them. Exodus 3:7–8

 

To my eyes, the Christmas tree looked to be ablaze in fire! Not because of artificial strings of lights but from real fire. Our family was invited to a friend’s altdeutsche Tradition, or the “old German way,” a celebration featuring delicious traditional desserts and a tree with real, lit candles. (For safety, the freshly cut tree was lit one night only.)

As I watched the tree appear to burn, I thought of Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush. While tending sheep in the wilderness, Moses was surprised by a flaming bush that was somehow not consumed by the flames. As he approached the bush to investigate, God called to him. The message from the burning bush was not one of judgment but of rescue for the people of Israel. God had seen the plight and misery of His people who were enslaved in Egypt and had “come down to rescue them” (Exodus 3:8).

While God rescued the Israelites from the Egyptians, all of humanity still needed rescue—not just from physical suffering but also from the effects that evil and death brought into our world. Hundreds of years later, God responded by sending down the Light, His Son, Jesus (John 1:9–10), sent not “to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (3:17).

— Lisa M. Samra

How can you celebrate God’s provision of rescue through Jesus? What other traditions point you to Him?

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the Light of the world.

For further study, read Mystery of the Manger: Explori 

ODB: Who You Are

December 2, 2022 

READ: 1 Timothy 4:12–16 

Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

 

In 2011, after a decade of childlessness, my wife and I chose to start afresh in a new country. Exciting as the move was, it required my leaving a broadcast career, which I missed. Feeling lost, I asked my friend Liam for advice.

“I don’t know what my calling is anymore,” I told Liam dejectedly.

“You’re not broadcasting here?” he asked. I said I wasn’t.

“And how is your marriage?”

Surprised at his change of topic, I told Liam that Merryn and I were doing well. We’d faced heartbreak together but emerged closer through the ordeal.

“Commitment is the core of the gospel,” he said, smiling. “Oh, how the world needs to see committed marriages like yours! You may not realize the impact you’re having already, beyond what you do, simply by being who you are.”

When a difficult work situation left Timothy dejected, the apostle Paul didn’t give him career goals. Instead, he encouraged Timothy to live a godly life, setting an example through his speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12–13, 15). He would best impact others by living faithfully.

It’s easy to value our lives based on our career success when what matters most is our character. I had forgotten that. But a word of truth, a gracious act, even a committed marriage can bring great change—because through them something of God’s own goodness touches the world.

— Sheridan Voysey

Who has touched your life and what qualities did they have? How can you set an example of faithfulness today?

Dear God, help me to remember that the work I do isn’t as important as the person I become. Please make me more like You.

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ODB: Mutual Encouragement

December 1, 2022 

READ: Hebrews 3:7–19 

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.” Hebrews 3:13

 

After another week of being beaten down by more medical setbacks, I slumped onto the sofa. I didn’t want to think about anything. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I couldn’t even pray. Discouragement and doubt weighed me down as I turned on the television. I began watching a commercial showing a little girl talking to her younger brother. “You’re a champion,” she said. As she continued affirming him, his grin grew. So did mine.

God’s people have always struggled with discouragement and doubt. Quoting Psalm 95, which affirms that God’s voice can be heard through the Holy Spirit, the writer of Hebrews warned believers in Jesus to avoid the mistakes made by the Israelites while wandering in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:7–11). “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God,” he wrote. “But encourage one another daily” (vv. 12–13).

With our lifeline of hope secured in Christ, we can experience the power-packed fuel we need to persevere: mutual encouragement within the fellowship of believers (v. 13). When one believer doubts, other believers can offer affirmation and accountability. As God strengthens us, His people, we can offer the power of mutual encouragement to one another.

— Xochitl Dixon

How has God used the affirming words of someone in your life to comfort and encourage you during a difficult time? How can you encourage others with your words today?

Loving God, help me live for You and lift others up in love with my words and actions.

For further study, read