Entries by YMI

ODB: God’s Footprints

January 20, 2021 

READ: Psalm 104:24–35 

How many are your works, Lord! Psalm 104:24

 

“I know where God lives,” our four-year-old grandson told my wife, Cari. “Where is that?” she asked, her curiosity piqued. “He lives in the woods beside your house,” he answered.

When Cari told me about their conversation, she wondered what prompted his thinking. “I know,” I responded. “When we went for a walk in the woods during his last visit, I told him that even though we can’t see God, we can see the things He’s done.” “Do you see the footprints I’m making?” I had asked my grandson as we stepped through a sandy place by a river. “The animals and the trees and the river are like God’s footprints. We know that He’s been here because we can see the things He’s made.”

The writer of Psalm 104 also pointed to the evidence for God in creation, exclaiming “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (v. 24). The Hebrew word for wisdom found here is often used in the Bible to describe skillful craftsmanship. God’s handiwork in nature proclaims His presence and makes us want to praise Him.

Psalm 104 begins and ends with the words: “Praise the Lord” (vv. 1, 35). From a baby’s hand to an eagle’s eye, our Creator’s artistry all around us speaks of His consummate skill. May we take it all in with wonder today—and praise Him for it!

— James Banks

Where do you see God’s handiwork in creation? How might you point someone to it—and to Him—today?

I praise You for all You’ve made, God! Help me to live in wonder at Your wisdom and goodness today.  

ODB: Unbreakable Faith

January 19, 2021 

READ: Isaiah 26:3–13 

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

 

After doctors diagnosed their first-born son with autism, Diane Dokko Kim and her husband grieved facing a lifetime of caring for a cognitively disabled child. In her book Unbroken Faith, she admits to struggling with adjusting their dreams and expectations for their beloved son’s future. Yet through this painful process, they learned that God can handle their anger, doubts, and fears. Now, with their son reaching adulthood, Diane uses her experiences to encourage parents of children with special needs. She tells others about God’s unbreakable promises, limitless power, and loving faithfulness. She assures people that He gives us permission to grieve when we experience the death of a dream, an expectation, a way or a season of life.

In Isaiah 26, the prophet declares that God’s people can trust in the Lord forever, “for the Lord . . . is the Rock eternal” (v. 4). He’s able to sustain us with supernatural peace in every situation (v. 12). Focusing on His unchanging character and crying out to Him during troublesome times revitalizes our hope (v. 15).

When we face any loss, disappointment, or difficult circumstance, God invites us to be honest with Him. He can handle our ever-changing emotions and our questions. He remains with us and refreshes our spirits with enduring hope. Even when we feel like our lives are falling apart, God can make our faith unbreakable.

— Xochitl Dixon

Have you ever struggled with being honest with God when life feels overwhelming? How has God helped you deal with the death of a dream or expectation?

Loving God, please help me believe You can always be trusted with my honest emotions.  

YMI Series

Choose to swap your social media scroll time for a quiet moment in God’s word.

ODB: A Legacy of Acceptance

January 18, 2021 

READ: Romans 15:5–13 

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7

 

In his book Breaking Down Walls, Glen Kehrein writes about climbing to the roof of his college dorm in Chicago after the assassination of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. “The sound of gunfire bounced eerily back and forth off the large buildings, and soon my rooftop perch provided a near panoramic, yet horrific, view. . . . How in the world did I get from a Wisconsin cornfield to a war zone in the inner city of Chicago in less than two years?” Compelled by his love for Jesus and people whose backgrounds were different from his, Glen lived on Chicago’s West Side and led a ministry there that provided food, clothing, shelter, and other services until his death in 2011.

Glen’s life mirrors the efforts of believers in Jesus who’ve come to grips with the need to embrace those who are different from themselves. Paul’s teaching and example helped Roman believers see that God’s plan to rescue wayward humanity included Jews and gentiles (Romans 15:8–12). Believers are called to follow His example of acceptance of others (v. 7); prejudice and discord have no place among those called to glorify God with “one mind and one voice” (v. 6). Ask God to help you cross barriers and break down walls and to warmly embrace everyone, regardless of their differences. Let’s strive to leave behind a legacy of acceptance.

— Arthur Jackson

How can you be more intentional with people who are different from you? What steps do you need to take to be more in line with Jesus’ embrace of all people?

Father in heaven, help me to represent You and make adjustments in my thinking and actions today as I strive to love others well.  

ODB: The Wonderful One

January 17, 2021 

READ: Revelation 4:4–11 

There before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. Revelation 4:2

 

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion return to Oz with the broomstick that empowered the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard had promised, in return for the broomstick, that he would give the four their deepest desires: a ride home for Dorothy, a brain for the Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man, and courage for the Cowardly Lion. But the Wizard stalls and tells them to come back the next day.

While they plead with the Wizard, Dorothy’s dog Toto pulls back the curtain, behind which the Wizard spoke, to reveal that the Wizard isn’t a wizard at all, he’s just a fearful, fidgety man from Nebraska.

It’s said that the author, L. Frank Baum, had a serious problem with God, so he wanted to send the message that only we have the power to solve our problems.

In contrast, the apostle John pulls back the veil to reveal the truly Wonderful One behind the “curtain.” Words fail John (note the repeated use of the preposition like in the passage), but the point is well made: God is seated on His throne, surrounded by a sea of glass (Revelation 4:2, 6). Despite the troubles that plague us here on earth (chs. 2–3), God isn’t pacing the floor and biting His nails. He’s actively at work for our good, so we can experience His peace.

— David H. Roper

What do you fear today? How does it help you to know that God controls the troubles that surround you? How can you better trust and surrender to Him?

I’m grateful, God, that I can count on You to walk with me through everything. Thank You for Your peace.  

ODB: Mighty

January 16, 2021 

READ: 1 Samuel 17:32, 41–47 

[Goliath] looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy. 1 Samuel 17:42

 

Baby Saybie, born as a “micro-preemie” at 23 weeks, weighed only 8.6 ounces. Doctors doubted Saybie would live and told her parents they’d likely have only an hour with their daughter. However, Saybie kept fighting. A pink card near her crib declared “Tiny but Mighty.” After five months in the hospital, Saybie miraculously went home as a healthy five-pound baby. And she took a world record with her: the world’s tiniest surviving baby.

It’s powerful to hear stories of those who beat the odds. The Bible tells one of these stories. David, a shepherd boy, volunteered to fight Goliath—a mammoth warrior who defamed God and threatened Israel. King Saul thought David was ridiculous: “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). And when the boy David stepped onto the battlefield, Goliath “looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy” (v. 42). However, David didn’t step into battle alone. He came “in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (v. 45). And when the day was done, a victorious David stood above a dead Goliath.

No matter how enormous the problem, when God is with us there’s nothing that we need to fear. With His strength, we’re also mighty.

— Winn Collier

When do you feel small and insignificant? How can you see God present with you and strengthening you despite insurmountable odds?

God, I feel tiny today. Left to myself, there’s no way forward. But I trust You to be with me and guide me. I’m trusting in Your strength.    

ODB: All Roads?

January 15, 2021 

READ: John 14:1–7 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6

 

“Don’t get on the expressway!” That text came from my daughter one day as I was leaving work. The highway home had become a virtual parking lot. I began trying alternate routes, but after experiencing gridlock on other roads, I gave up. The trip home would have to wait till later in the day, so I drove in the opposite direction to an athletic event my granddaughter was involved in.

Discovering that no roads would lead me home made me think about people who say that all roads lead to an eternal relationship with God. Some believe the road of kindness and good behavior will get you there. Others choose the road of doing religious things.

Relying on those roads, however, leads to a dead end. There’s only one road to take to God’s eternal presence. Jesus clarified this when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He was revealing that He was going to die to open the way for us to enter His Father’s house—to His presence and the real life He provides for today and eternity.

Skip the blocked highways that don’t lead to God’s presence. Instead, trust Jesus as Savior, for “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (3:36). And for those who already believe in Him, rest in the way He’s provided.

— Dave Branon

Why is it vital to know that only Jesus can save us? Why are we prone to try to add to what it takes to be welcomed into His family?

Dear God, I want to trust You for eternity. Thank You for the salvation found in Jesus alone.
Read about the difference between relationship with Jesus and religion at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0215. 

ODB: Our Compassionate God

January 14, 2021 

READ: Psalm 138 

You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes. Psalm 138:7

 

The winter night was cold when someone threw a large stone through a Jewish child’s bedroom window. A star of David had been displayed in the window, along with a menorah to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. In the child’s town of Billings, Montana, thousands of people—many of them believers in Jesus—responded to the hateful act with compassion. Choosing to identify with the hurt and fear of their Jewish neighbors, they pasted pictures of menorahs in their own windows.

As believers in Jesus, we too receive great compassion. Our Savior humbled Himself to live among us (John 1:14), identifying with us. On our behalf, He, “being in very nature God . . . made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:6–7). Then, feeling as we feel and weeping as we weep, He died on a cross, sacrificing His life to save ours.

Nothing we struggle with is beyond our Savior’s concern. If someone “throws rocks” at our lives, He comforts us. If life brings disappointments, He walks with us through despair. “Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar” (Psalm 138:6). In our troubles, He preserves us, stretching out His hand against both “the anger of [our] foes” (v. 7) and our own deepest fears. Thank You, God, for Your compassionate love.

— Patricia Raybon

In what areas of your life do you need God’s compassion? How can you show His care and love to others? 

O God, I thank You for understanding my struggles and comforting me with loving care. Remind me always to share Your compassion with others.
Learn to love like Jesus at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0208 

ODB: What’s Your Song?

January 13, 2021 

READ: Deuteronomy 31:15–22 

So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites. Deuteronomy 31:22

 

Most Americans knew little about Alexander Hamilton—until 2015, when Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote his hit musical Hamilton. Now schoolchildren know Hamilton’s story by heart. They sing it to each other on the bus and at recess. He’s their favorite founding father.

God knows the power of music, and He told Moses to “write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it” (Deuteronomy 31:19). God knew that long after Moses was gone, when He had brought Israel into the Promised Land, they would rebel and worship other gods. So He told Moses, “This song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants” (v. 21).

Songs are nearly impossible to forget, so it’s wise to be selective about what we sing. Some songs are just for fun, and that’s fine, but we benefit from songs that boast in Jesus and encourage our faith. One of the ways we “[make] the most of every opportunity” is when we speak “to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” So “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” (see Ephesians 5:15–19).

Songs can be an indicator of the direction of our heart. Do the words make much of Jesus? Do we sing them wholeheartedly? What we sing will influence what we believe, so choose wisely and sing loudly.

— Mike Wittmer

What should you look for in a worship song? Is there a favorite song you can sing more often? Why?

Father, this song is my prayer to You. (Sing your favorite.)