Entries by YMI

Holy Love

“The self-esteem movement has failed us,” argues Simon Smart in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. Smart describes how, in reaction to the (often humiliatingly) performance-based way people’s worth was assessed in the past, culture shifted to emphasize self-esteem.

ODB: The Loneliest Man

February 6, 2023 

READ: Genesis 39:11–22 

While Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness. Genesis 39:20–21

 

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of their lunar landing module and became the first humans to walk on the surface of the moon. But we don’t often think about the third person on their team, Michael Collins, who was flying the command module for Apollo 11.

After his teammates clambered down the ladder to test the lunar surface, Collins waited alone on the far side of the moon. He was out of touch with Neil, Buzz, and everyone on earth. NASA’s mission control commented, “Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins.”

There are times when we feel completely alone. Imagine, for instance, how Joseph, Jacob’s son, felt when he was taken from Israel to Egypt after his brothers sold him (Genesis 37:23–28). Then he was thrust into further isolation by being thrown in prison on false charges (39:19–20).

How did Joseph survive in prison in a foreign land with no family anywhere nearby? Listen to this: “While Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him” (vv. 20–21). Four times we’re reminded of this comforting truth in Genesis 39.

Do you feel alone or isolated from others? Hold on to the truth of God’s presence, promised by Jesus Himself: “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). With Jesus as your Savior, you’re never alone.

— Dave Branon

When do you feel most alone? How does God remind you that He’s with you in your times of isolation?

Dear heavenly Father, please help me know, as You’ve promised in the Scriptures, that You’re with me as You were with Joseph.  

ODB: I Can Only Imagine

February 5, 2023 

READ: 2 Corinthians 5:1–10 

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

 

I settled into the church pew behind a woman as the worship team began playing “I Can Only Imagine.” Raising my hands, I praised God as the woman’s sweet soprano voice harmonized with mine. After telling me about her health struggles, we decided to pray together during her upcoming cancer treatments.

A few months later, Louise told me she feared dying. Leaning onto her hospital bed, I rested my head next to hers, whispered a prayer, and quietly sang our song. I can only imagine what it was like for Louise when she worshiped Jesus face-to-face just a few days later.

The apostle Paul offered comforting assurance for his readers who were facing death (2 Corinthians 5:1). The suffering experienced on this side of eternity may cause groaning, but our hope remains anchored to our heavenly dwelling—our eternal existence with Jesus (vv. 2–4). Though God designed us to yearn for everlasting life with Him (vv. 5–6), His promises are meant to impact the way we live for Him now (vv. 7–10).

As we live to please Jesus while waiting for Him to return or call us home, we can rejoice in the peace of His constant presence. What will we experience the moment we leave our earthly bodies and join Jesus in eternity? We can only imagine!

— Xochitl Dixon

When have you been worried about or discouraged by facing death or losing a loved one? How does God’s promise of everlasting life encourage you?

Loving God, thank You for promising to be with me on earth and for all eternity.

For further study, read Crying for Us All: How Jesus Shares Our 

ODB: What’s Your Name?

February 4, 2023 

READ: Ruth 1:3–8, 15–21 

Don’t call me Naomi. . . . Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. Ruth 1:20

 

Jen remarried after her first husband died. The children of her new husband never accepted her, and now that he’s passed away too, they hate her for remaining in their childhood home. Her husband left a modest sum to provide for her; his kids say she’s stealing their inheritance. Jen is understandably discouraged, and she’s grown bitter.

Naomi’s husband moved the family to Moab, where he and their two sons died. Years later, Naomi returned to Bethlehem empty-handed, except for her daughter-in-law Ruth. The town was stirred and asked, “Can this be Naomi?” (Ruth 1:19). She said they shouldn’t use that name, which means “my pleasant one.” They should call her “Mara,” which means “bitter,” because “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty” (vv. 20–21).  

Is there a chance your name is Bitter? You’ve been disappointed by friends, family, or declining health. You deserved better. But you didn’t get it. Now you’re bitter.

Naomi came back to Bethlehem bitter, but she came back. You can come home too. Come to Jesus, the descendant of Ruth, born in Bethlehem. Rest in His love.

In time, God replaced Naomi’s bitterness with the joyful fulfillment of His perfect plan (4:13–22). He can replace your bitterness too. Come home to Him.

— Mike Wittmer

What name describes you? What does it mean for you to live out the name that describes who you are in Jesus?

Father, I’m coming home to find my rest in Your Son.  

ODB: We Are Strangers

February 3, 2023 

READ: Leviticus 19:32–37 

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Leviticus 19:34

 

Everything felt drastically different in their new country—new language, schools, customs, traffic, and weather. They wondered how they would ever adjust. People from a nearby church gathered around them to help them in their new life in a new land. Patti took the couple shopping at a local food market to show them what’s available and how to purchase items. As they wandered around the market, their eyes widened and they smiled broadly when they saw their favorite fruit from their homeland—pomegranates. They bought one for each of their children and even placed one in Patti’s hands in gratefulness. The small fruit and new friends brought big comfort in their strange, new land.

God, through Moses, gave a list of laws for His people, which included a command to treat foreigners among them “as your native-born” (Leviticus 19:34). “Love them as yourself,” God further commanded. Jesus called this the second greatest commandment after loving God (Matthew 22:39). For even God “watches over the foreigner” (Psalm 146:9).

Besides obeying God as we help new friends adapt to life in our country, we may be reminded that we too in a real sense are “strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). And we’ll grow in our anticipation of the new heavenly land to come.

— Anne Cetas

Who might God want you to look after? In what ways has He gifted you to spread His love to others?

Compassionate God, I understand a little what it feels like to be a stranger in this world. Lead me to be an encourager of other foreigners and strangers.

For further study, read