Entries by YMI

ODB: Minding My Own Business

March 6, 2021 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 4:9–12 

Mind your own business and work with your hands. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

 

Years ago, my son Josh and I were making our way up a mountain trail when we spied a cloud of dust rising in the air. We crept forward and discovered a badger busy making a den in a dirt bank. He had his head and shoulders in the hole and was vigorously digging with his front paws and kicking the dirt out of the hole with his hind feet. He was so invested in his work he didn’t hear us.

I couldn’t resist and prodded him from behind with a long stick lying nearby. I didn’t hurt the badger, but he leaped straight up in the air and turned toward us. Josh and I set new world records for the hundred-yard dash.

I learned something from my brashness: Sometimes it’s best not to poke around in other people’s business. That’s especially true in relationships with fellow believers in Jesus. The apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). We’re to pray for others and seek by God’s grace to share the Scriptures, and occasionally we may be called to offer a gentle word of correction. But learning to live a quiet life and not meddling into others’ lives is important. It becomes an example to those who are now outside God’s family (v. 12). Our calling is to “love each other” (v. 9).

— David H. Roper

What happens when you meddle in other people’s business? What’s the first thing you should do instead for others?

God, teach me to know what it means to love others better.  

ODB: Who Knows?

March 5, 2021 

READ: Ecclesiastes 6:12; 7:13–14 

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Ecclesiastes 7:14

 

According to Chinese legend, when Sai Weng lost one of his prized horses, his neighbor expressed sorrow for his loss. But Sai Weng was unconcerned. He said, “Who knows if it may be a good thing for me?” Surprisingly, the lost horse returned home with another horse. As the neighbor congratulated him, Sai Weng said, “Who knows if it may be a bad thing for me?” As it turned out, his son broke his leg when he rode on the new horse. This seemed like a misfortune, until the army arrived at the village to recruit all able-bodied men to fight in the war. Because of the son’s injury, he wasn’t recruited, which ultimately could have spared him from death.

This is the story behind the Chinese proverb which teaches that a difficulty can be a blessing in disguise and vice versa. This ancient wisdom has a close parallel in Ecclesiastes 6:12, where the author observes: “Who knows what is good for a person in life?” Indeed, none of us know what the future holds. An adversity might have positive benefits, and prosperity might have ill effects.

Each day offers new opportunities, joys, struggles, and suffering. As God’s beloved children, we can rest in His sovereignty and trust Him through the good and bad times alike. God has “made the one as well as the other” (7:14). He’s with us in all the events in our lives and promises His loving care.

— Poh Fang Chia

Can you think of an example where a misfortune turned out to be a blessing? How can you keep your focus on God in good times as well as in bad times?

Sovereign God, thank You for ordering my life. Help me to praise You in both good and bad times, believing that You work all things for the ultimate good of those who love You.  

ODB: Knowing the Father

March 4, 2021 

READ: John 14:8–11 

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9

 

According to legend, British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham once saw a distinguished-looking woman in a hotel foyer. Believing he knew her but unable to remember her name, he paused to talk with her. As the two chatted, he vaguely recollected that she had a brother. Hoping for a clue, he asked how her brother was doing and whether he was still working at the same job. “Oh, he’s very well,” she said, “And still king.”

A case of mistaken identity can be embarrassing, as it was for Sir Beecham. But at other times it may be more serious, as it was for Jesus’ disciple Philip. The disciple knew Christ, of course, but he hadn’t fully appreciated who He was. He wanted Jesus to “show [them] the Father,” and Jesus responded, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8–9). As God’s unique Son, Christ reveals the Father so perfectly that to know one is to know the other (vv. 10–11).

If we ever wonder what God is like in His character, personality, or concern for others, we only need to look to Jesus to find out. Christ’s character, kindness, love, and mercy reveal God’s character. And although our amazing, awesome God is beyond our complete comprehension and understanding, we have a tremendous gift in what He’s revealed of Himself in Jesus.

— Con Campbell

How well do you know God’s character? How does it match your perception of who Jesus is?

Dear God, help me to grow in my knowledge and appreciation of who You are.  

ODB: Preserved

March 3, 2021 

READ: Deuteronomy 31:1–8 

The Lord himself goes before you. Deuteronomy 31:8

 

While I was clearing out the garden in preparation for spring planting, I pulled up a large clump of winter weeds . . . and leapt into the air! A venomous copperhead snake lay hidden in the undergrowth just below my hand—an inch lower and I would have grabbed it by mistake. I saw its colorful markings as soon as I lifted the clump; the rest of it was coiled in the weeds between my feet.

When my feet hit the ground a few feet away, I thanked God I hadn’t been bitten. And I wondered how many other times He had kept me from dangers I never knew were there.

God watches over His people. Moses told the Israelites as they prepared to enter the promised land, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). They couldn’t see God, but He was with them nonetheless.

Sometimes difficult things happen that we may not understand, but we can also reflect on the number of times God has preserved us without our ever being aware!

Scripture reminds us that His perfect, providential care remains over His people every day. He’s always with us (Matthew 28:20).

— James Banks

How does the biblical truth that God watches over His people comfort you? Who can you tell about His faithfulness today?

Faithful Father, thank You for watching over me every day. Please give me grace to walk closely with You in everything I do today.  

ODB: Safe and Still

March 2, 2021 

READ: Psalm 91 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

 

As a full-of-energy preschooler, my son Xavier avoided afternoon quiet time. Being still often resulted in an unwanted, though much-needed, nap. So, he’d wiggle in his seat, slide off the sofa, scoot across the hardwood floor, and even roll across the room to evade the quiet. “Mom, I’m hungry . . . I’m thirsty . . . I have to go to the bathroom . . . I want a hug.”

Understanding the benefits of stillness, I’d help Xavier settle down by inviting him to snuggle. Leaning into my side, he’d give in to sleep.

Early in my spiritual life, I mirrored my son’s desire to remain active. Busyness made me feel accepted, important, and in control, while noise distracted me from fretting over my shortcomings and trials. Surrendering to rest only affirmed my frail humanity. So I avoided stillness and silence, doubting God could handle things without my help.

But He’s our refuge, no matter how many troubles or uncertainties surround us. The path ahead may seem long, scary, or overwhelming, but His love envelops us. He hears us, answers us, and stays with us . . . now and forever into eternity (Psalm 91).

We can embrace the quiet and lean into God’s unfailing love and constant presence. We can be still and rest in Him because we’re safe under the shelter of His unchanging faithfulness (v. 4).

— 邓书琪

In what ways have you seen God’s protection in your life? How can you face difficulties knowing that God has you under His wings?

Heavenly Father, thank You for providing a safe haven of unfailing love.
To learn more about growing spiritually in your walk with God, visit ChristianUniversity.org/SF104.  

#relationshipgoals

A short scroll on social media tells us how much we love our significant others. And we make it known through our stories and updates, detailing how blessed we are to be with someone who understands us and loves us best, warts and all—ending with the hashtag: #relationshipgoals. It’s mirrored in close to 18 million posts on Instagram. But as we know it, staying in that state of “blissfully in love” just doesn’t last. So does a perfect relationship actually exist? Can we ever attain those #relationshipgoals we’ve been using to measure our relationships?

ODB: Never Give Up

March 1, 2021 

READ: Joshua 1:1–9 

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips. Joshua 1:8

 

“Time went by. War came in.” That’s how Bishop Semi Nigo of the Keliko people of South Sudan described delays in his church’s long struggle to get the Bible in their own language. Not one word, in fact, had ever been printed in the Keliko language. Decades earlier, Bishop Nigo’s grandfather had courageously started a Bible translation project, but war and unrest kept halting the effort. Yet, despite repeated attacks on their refugee camps in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the bishop and fellow believers kept the project alive.

Their persistence paid off. After nearly three decades, the New Testament Bible in Keliko was delivered to the refugees in a rousing celebration. “The motivation of the Keliko is beyond words,” said one project consultant.

The commitment of the Keliko reflects the perseverance God asked of Joshua. As God told him, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). With equal persistence, the Keliko pursued the translation of Scripture. Now, “when you see them in the camps, they are smiling,” said one translator. Hearing and understanding the Bible “gives them hope.” Like the Keliko people, may we never give up seeking the power and wisdom of Scripture.

— Patricia Raybon

What will help you persist in reading Scripture? How could another person help you better understand it?

Loving God, stir up in me a greater hunger to seek, study, and know the Bible, never giving up my quest to understand Your wisdom.
To learn more about how to study the Bible, visit Christian 

ODB: New Every Morning

February 28, 2021 

READ: Lamentations 3:19–26 

[God’s] compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22–23

 

My brother Paul grew up battling severe epilepsy, and when he entered his teenage years it became even worse. Nighttime was excruciating for him and my parents, as he’d experience continuous seizures for often more than six hours at a time. Doctors couldn’t find a treatment that would alleviate the symptoms while also keeping him conscious for at least part of the day. My parents cried out in prayer: “God, oh God, help us!”

Although their emotions were battered and their bodies exhausted, Paul and my parents received enough strength from God for each new day. In addition, my parents found comfort in the words of the Bible, including the book of Lamentations. Here Jeremiah voiced his grief over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, remembering “the bitterness and the gall” (3:19). Yet Jeremiah didn’t lose hope. He called to mind the mercies of God, that His compassions “are new every morning” (v. 23). So too did my parents.

Whatever you’re facing, know that God is faithful every morning. He renews our strength day by day and gives us hope. And sometimes, as with my family, He brings relief. After several years, a new medication became available that stopped Paul’s continuous nighttime seizures, giving my family restorative sleep and hope for the future.

When our souls are downcast within us (v. 20), may we call to mind the promises of God that His mercies are new every morning.

— Amy Boucher Pye

How has God sustained you through the trials you’ve faced? How could you support someone who’s enduring a challenging time?

God, Your love will never leave me. When I feel spent and without hope, remind me of Your mercies and compassion.