Entries by YMI

Of Winds and Wings

When he graced a room, the warmth of his presence was felt. The gentle breath of shalom was apparent. My uncle brought a calming effect that was palpable.

ODB: The Secret

February 29, 2020 

READ: Philippians 4:10–19  

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Philippians 4:12

 

Sometimes I suspect my cat Heathcliff suffers from a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out). When I come home with groceries, Heathcliff rushes over to inspect the contents. When I’m chopping vegetables, he stands up on his back paws peering at the produce and begging me to share. But when I actually give Heathcliff whatever’s caught his fancy, he quickly loses interest, walking away with an air of bored resentment.

But it’d be hypocritical for me to be hard on my little buddy. He reflects a bit of my own insatiable hunger for more, my assumption that “now” is never enough.

According to Paul, contentment isn’t natural—it’s learned (Philippians 4:11). On our own, we desperately pursue whatever we think will satisfy, moving on to the next thing the minute we realize it won’t. Other times, our discontent takes the form of anxiously shielding ourselves from any and all suspected threats.

Ironically, sometimes it takes experiencing what we’d feared the most in order to stumble into real joy. Having experienced much of the worst life has to offer, Paul could testify firsthand to “the secret” of true contentment (vv. 11–12)—the mysterious reality that as we lift up to God our longings for wholeness, we experience unexplainable peace (vv. 6–7), carried ever deeper into the depths of Christ’s power, beauty, and grace.

— Monica La Rose

How have you experienced mysterious peace when you least expected it? What desperate longings or fears might you need to lift up to God?

Father, help me to surrender my attempts to secure my own happiness in exchange for embracing the gift of each moment with You.  

3 Misconceptions About Spiritual Growth

Ever find yourself feeling stuck when it comes to growing in your faith? You’re seeking God in His Word and through prayer, you’re not hiding any secret sin . . . but it doesn’t seem to be working?

Only the Gospel

The outgrow never we gospel. What’s wrong with that sentence? It violates the rules of grammar and syntax.

ODB: The Faith to Endure

February 28, 2020 

READ: Acts 27:27–38 

Suffering produces endurance. Romans 5:3 esv

 

Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922) led an unsuccessful expedition to cross Antarctica in 1914. When his ship, aptly named Endurance, became trapped in heavy ice in the Weddell Sea, it became an endurance race just to survive. With no means of communicating with the rest of the world, Shackleton and his crew used lifeboats to make the journey to the nearest shore—Elephant Island. While most of the crew stayed behind on the island, Shackleton and five crewmen spent two weeks traveling 800 miles across the ocean to South Georgia to get help for those left behind. The “failed” expedition became a victorious entry in the history books when all of Shackleton’s men survived, thanks to their courage and endurance.

The apostle Paul knew what it meant to endure. During a stormy sea voyage to Rome to face trial for his belief in Jesus, Paul learned from an angel of God that the ship would sink. But the apostle kept the men aboard encouraged, thanks to God’s promise that all would survive, despite the loss of the ship (Acts 27:23–24).

When disaster strikes, we tend to want God to immediately make everything better. But God gives us the faith to endure and grow. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Suffering produces endurance” (Romans 5:3 esv). Knowing that, we can encourage each other to keep trusting God in hard times.

— Linda Washington

What’s your usual response to hardship? How can you encourage someone who’s going through difficult times?

Heavenly Father, I need Your help to keep going, even when it’s tough.
   

Typography: Matthew 5:6

God’s continuous knowledge of my heart’s condition invites me to recognize my ongoing need for Him and to receive the sustenance only He can provide. Taken from https://ymi.today/2018/08/odb-heart-hunger/ Artwork by @thelilycollective

ODB: Unexpected Change

February 27, 2020 

READ: James 4:13–17 

You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. James 4:14

 

In January 1943, warm Chinook winds hit Spearfish, South Dakota, quickly raising the temperatures from –4° to 45°F (–20° to 7°C). That drastic weather change—a swing of 49 degrees—took place in just two minutes. The widest temperature change recorded in the USA over a twenty-four-hour period is an incredible 103 degrees! On January 15, 1972, Loma, Montana, saw the temperature jump from −54° to 49°F (–48° to 9°C).

Sudden change, however, is not simply a weather phenomenon. It’s sometimes the very nature of life. James reminds us, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (4:13–14). An unexpected loss. A surprise diagnosis. A financial reversal. Sudden changes.

Life is a journey with many unpredictable elements. This is precisely why James warns us to turn from “arrogant schemes” (v. 16) that do not take the Almighty into account. As he advised us, “You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’ ” (v. 15). The events of our lives may be uncertain, but one thing is sure: through all of life’s unexpected moments, our God will never leave us. He’s our one constant throughout life.

— Bill Crowder

When facing sudden change, how do you respond? What do you think an appropriate faith response to life’s surprises should look like?

Father, forgive me for the times I worry over things I couldn’t anticipate or can’t control, and help me to find my rest in You.  

Pure Delight

The diving bell spider lives the majority of its life in a bubble of air at the bottom of freshwater ponds and streams in northern and central Europe and northern Asia.