Entries by YMI

ODB: Listening to Wise Advice

May 11, 2021 

READ: Proverbs 12:2–15  

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15

 

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln once found himself wanting to please a politician, so he issued a command to transfer certain Union Army regiments. When the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, received the order, he refused to carry it out. He said that the president was a fool. Lincoln was told what Stanton had said, and he replied: “If Stanton said I’m a fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right. I’ll see for myself.” As the two men talked, the president quickly realized that his decision was a serious mistake, and without hesitation he withdrew it. Though Stanton had called Lincoln a fool, the president proved wise by not digging in his heels when Stanton disagreed with him. Instead, Lincoln listened to advice, considered it, and changed his mind.

Have you ever encountered someone who simply wouldn’t listen to wise advice? (See 1 Kings 12:1–11.) It can be infuriating, can’t it? Or, even more personal, have you ever refused to listen to advice? As Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” People may not always be right, but the same goes for us! Knowing that everyone makes mistakes, only fools assume they’re the exception. Instead, let’s exercise godly wisdom and listen to the wise advice of others—even if we initially disagree. Sometimes that’s exactly how God works for our good (v. 2).

— Con Campbell

Why are you sometimes reluctant to listen to the wise advice of others? How can you be sure the advice you receive reflects true wisdom?

God of wisdom, teach me Your ways and help me to avoid folly. Thank You for putting others in my life who are in a position to offer helpful advice when I need it.  

ODB: Singing Over Us

May 10, 2021 

READ: Zephaniah 3:14–17 

[He] will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

 

A young father held his baby boy in his arms, singing to him and rocking him in soothing rhythm. The baby was hearing-impaired, unable to hear the melody or the words. Yet the father sang anyway, in a beautiful, tender act of love toward his son. And his efforts were rewarded with a delightful smile from his little boy. 

The imagery of the father-son exchange bears a striking resemblance to the words of Zephaniah. The Old Testament prophet says that God will joyfully sing over His daughter, the people of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:17). God enjoys doing good things for His beloved people, such as taking away their punishment and turning back their enemies (v. 15). Zephaniah says they no longer have any reason for fear and instead have cause for rejoicing.

We, as God’s children redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, sometimes are hard of hearing—unable, or perhaps unwilling, to tune our ears to the exuberant love God sings over us. His adoration of us is like that of the young father, who lovingly sang to his son despite his inability to hear. He has taken away our punishment too, giving us further reason to rejoice. Perhaps we might try to listen more closely to hear the joy ringing loudly in His voice. Father, help us to hear Your loving melody and savor being held safely in Your arms.

— Kirsten Holmberg

What keeps you from hearing God? How can you tune your ears to hear His delight in you?

Thank You, God, for taking great delight in me. May I always listen to your voice as You joyfully sing over me.
 
To learn more about Zephaniah, visit ChristianUniversity.org/OT2 

ODB: Noticing Nature

May 9, 2021 

READ: Matthew 6:25–34 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:26

 

A friend and I recently visited a favorite walking spot of mine. Climbing a windswept hill, we crossed a field of wildflowers into a forest of towering pines, then descended into a valley where we paused a moment. Clouds floated softly above us. A stream trickled nearby. The only sounds were birdsongs. Jason and I stood there silently for fifteen minutes, taking it all in.

As it turns out, our actions that day were deeply therapeutic. According to research from the University of Derby, people who stop to contemplate nature experience higher levels of happiness, lower levels of anxiety, and a greater desire to care for the earth. Walking through the forest isn’t enough, though. You have to watch the clouds, listen to the birds. The key isn’t being in nature, but noticing it.

Could there be a spiritual reason for nature’s benefits? Paul said that creation reveals God’s power and nature (Romans 1:20). God told Job to look at the sea, sky, and stars for evidence of His presence (Job 38–39). Jesus said that contemplating the “birds of the air” and “flowers of the field” could reveal God’s care and reduce anxiety (Matthew 6:25–30). In Scripture, noticing nature is a spiritual practice.

Scientists wonder why nature affects us so positively. Maybe one reason is that by noticing nature we catch a glimpse of the God who created it and who notices us.

— Sheridan Voysey

Since nature isn’t God, and vice versa, how do you think He can be seen through it? How can you take a few minutes today to notice His care through His creation?

God of heaven, earth, streams, and birdsongs, I worship You today.  

ODB: Legally His

May 8, 2021 

READ: Romans 8:1–2, 10–17 

The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. Romans 8:15

 

Liz cried for joy when she and her husband received the birth certificate and passport for their child, making the adoption legally binding. Now Milena would always be their daughter, forever part of their family. As Liz pondered the legal process, she also thought of the “true exchange” that happens when we become part of Jesus’ family: “No longer are we held down by our birthright of sin and brokenness.” Rather, she continued, we enter into the fullness of God’s kingdom legally when we’re adopted as His children.

In the apostle Paul’s day, if a Roman family adopted a son, his legal status would change completely. Any debts from his old life would be canceled and he would gain all of the rights and privileges of his new family. Paul wanted the Roman believers in Jesus to understand that this new status applied to them too. No longer were they bound to sin and condemnation but now they lived “according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). And those the Spirit leads are adopted as God’s children (vv. 14–15). Their legal status changed when they became citizens of heaven.

If we have received the gift of salvation, we too are God’s children, heirs of His kingdom and united with Christ. Our debts have been canceled by the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice. We no longer need to live in fear or condemnation.

— Amy Boucher Pye

How does your status as a child of God affect how you live? What could you do to embrace this central part of your identity?

Father God, You created me in my mother’s womb, and You know and love me. May I never doubt how much You care for me.  

ODB: The Right Words

May 7, 2021 

READ: Ephesians 6:10–20 

Pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan. Ephesians 6:19 nlt

 

In the past year or so, a number of authors have urged believers to take a fresh look at the “vocabulary” of our faith. One writer, for example, emphasized that even theologically rich words of faith can lose their impact when, through overfamiliarity and overuse, we lose touch with the depths of the gospel and our need for God. When that happens, he suggested, we may need to relearn the language of faith “from scratch,” letting go of our assumptions until we can see the good news for the first time.

The invitation to learn to “speak God from scratch” reminds me of Paul, who devoted his life to “[becoming] all things to all people . . . for the sake of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:22–23). He never assumed he knew best how to communicate what Jesus had done. Instead, he relied on constant prayer and pleaded for fellow believers to pray for him as well—to help him find “the right words” (Ephesians 6:19 nlt) to share the good news.

The apostle also knew the need for each believer in Christ to remain humble and receptive each day to their need for deeper roots in His love (3:16–17). It’s only as we deepen our roots in God’s love, each day becoming more aware of our dependence on His grace, that we can begin to find the right words to share the incredible news of what He’s done for us.

— Monica La Rose

When have you had an experience of seeing the gospel in a new way for the first time? How can prayer keep your heart receptive to your constant need for God’s grace?

Loving God, forgive me for, far too often, taking Your grace and goodness for granted. Help me to daily grasp in new ways the depths of Your grace and love. And help me find the right words to share what You’ve done.