Entries by YMI

ODB: Bigger than Our Problems

June 19, 2021 

READ: Job 40:15–24  

Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you. Job 40:15

 

What do you imagine dinosaurs looked like when they were alive? Big teeth? Scaly skin? Long tails? Artist Karen Carr recreates these extinct creatures in large murals. One of her panoramas is over twenty feet tall and sixty feet long. Because of its size, it required a crew of experts to install it in sections where it resides in the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

It would be hard to stand in front of this mural without feeling dwarfed by the dinosaurs. I get a similar sensation when I read God’s description of the powerful animal called “Behemoth” (Job 40:15). This big guy munched grass like an ox and had a tail the size of a tree trunk. His bones were like iron pipes. He lumbered through the hills grazing, stopping occasionally to relax at the local swamp. When floodwaters surged, Behemoth never raised an eyebrow.

No one could tame this incredible creature—except its Maker (v. 19). God reminded Job of this truth during a time when Job’s problems had cast ominous shadows over his life. Grief, bewilderment, and frustration filled his field of vision until he began to question God. But God’s response helped Job see the real size of things. God was bigger than all his issues and powerful enough to handle problems that Job couldn’t resolve on his own. In the end, Job conceded, “I know that you can do all things” (42:2).

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Which is bigger, your worst problem or the God who made everything? How does your view of God affect the way in which you handle problems?

Dear God, I believe You can help me with the things I’m facing today. Help me to be open to Your power and goodness when I feel overwhelmed by trouble.  

ODB: The Life of Peace

June 18, 2021 

READ: Galatians 5:16–25 

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

 

In Perth, Australia, there’s a place called Shalom House where men struggling with addictions go to find help. At Shalom House, they’ll meet caring staff members who introduce them to God’s shalom (Hebrew for peace). Lives crushed under the weight of addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other destructive behaviors are being transformed by the love of God.

Central to this transformation is the message of the cross. The broken people of Shalom House discover that through the resurrection of Jesus, they can find their own lives resurrected. In Christ, we gain true peace and healing.

Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict; it’s the presence of God’s wholeness. All of us need this shalom, and it’s only found in Christ and His Spirit. This is why Paul pointed the Galatians to the Spirit’s transformational work. As the Holy Spirit operates in our lives, He generates His fruit that includes love, joy, patience, and more (Galatians 5:22–23). He gives us that vital element of true, enduring peace.

As the Spirit enables us to live in God’s shalom, we learn to bring our needs and concerns to our heavenly Father. This in turn brings us “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding”—the peace that “will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

In Christ’s Spirit, our hearts experience true shalom.

— Bill Crowder

What things tend to rob you of God’s peace? How will you allow the Spirit to produce His peace in your heart?

God of shalom, thank You that Your desire is for peace to reign in my life. Thank You for the work of Jesus to make peace available and the work of the Spirit whose fruit in my life brings peace.  

ODB: The Way of Faith

June 17, 2021 

READ: Judges 7:1–8, 22 

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me.” Judges 7:2

 

In a 2017 World Cup qualifying match that pitted the US against Trinidad and Tobago, the Soca Warriors shocked the world when they beat the US men’s national team, a team ranked considerably higher. The upset eliminated the US team from the 2018 World Cup.

Trinidad and Tobago’s victory was so unexpected in part because the United States’ population and resources dwarfed those of the small Caribbean nation. But those seemingly insurmountable advantages weren’t enough to defeat the passionate Soca Warriors.

The story of Gideon and the Midianites features a similar upset, one between a small group of fighters and a large army. The Israelite army actually had more than thirty-thousand fighters, but the Lord whittled the army down to just three hundred warriors so the nation would learn that their success was dependent on God—not the size of their army, the amount of money in their treasury, or the skill of their leaders (Judges 7:1–8).

It can be tempting to put our trust and confidence in things we can see or measure, but that’s not the way of faith. Though it’s often difficult, when we’re willing to depend on God, to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10), we can go into situations with courage and confidence, even when we feel overwhelmed and unqualified. His presence and power can do amazing things in and through us.

— Lisa M. Samra

When have you faced seemingly insurmountable odds? Whether you tasted victory or defeat, how did you experience God’s provision for you?

God, when life gets challenging, help me learn to rely more and more on Your mighty power and grace.  

ODB: The Jesus Chair

June 16, 2021 

READ: John 8:27–32 

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. John 8:31

 

When my friend Marge met Tami at a Bible study meeting, she noticed that they seemed to have little in common. But Marge befriended her, and she learned a valuable lesson from her new friend.

Tami had never been to a Bible study, and she was having a hard time understanding something the other women in the study talked about: that God communicated with them—something she’d never experienced.

She so desired to hear from God that she took action. Later, she told Marge. “I set aside an old wooden chair, and every time I study my Bible, I ask Jesus to come sit in it.” Then Tami explained that whenever a verse stood out to her, she would write out the verse in chalk on the chair. It’s become her special “Jesus chair,” and she’s filled it up with God’s messages to her directly from the Bible.

Marge says, “[The Jesus Chair] has changed [Tami’s] life. She’s growing spiritually because Scripture is becoming personal.”

While speaking to Jewish believers, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32). Let’s hold to His teaching, whether it means writing His words on a chair, memorizing them, or seeking to put them into action. The truth and wisdom of Christ’s messages help us grow in Him and set us free.

— Dave Branon

What can you do in a practical way to more regularly take in the wisdom found in the Bible? How does the Holy Spirit help you understand Scripture?

Help me, God, to connect with You more and more through the wisdom You’ve given me in the Bible. And then help me apply what I learn to help me grow more and more like Jesus.  

ODB: Our Father’s Care

June 15, 2021 

READ: Matthew 10:16–20, 26–31 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Matthew 10:29

 

Thwack! I looked up and craned my ear toward the sound. Spotting a smudge on the windowpane, I peered out onto the deck and discovered the still-beating body of a bird. My heart hurt. I longed to help the fragile feathered being.

In Matthew 10, Jesus described His Father’s care for sparrows in order to comfort the disciples as He warned of upcoming dangers. He offered instructions to the twelve as He “gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” (v. 1). While the power to do such deeds might have seemed grand to the disciples, many would oppose them, including governing authorities, their own families, and the ensnaring grip of the evil one (vv. 16–28).

Then in 10:29–31, Jesus told them not to fear whatever they faced because they would never be out of their Father’s care. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” He asked. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. . . . So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

I checked on the bird throughout the day, each time finding it alive but unmoved. Then, late into the evening, it was gone. I prayed it had survived. Surely, if I cared this much about the bird, God cared even more. Imagine how much He cares for you and me!

— Elisa Morgan

How have you seen God care for you in the past? How can you gain courage for all you face by understanding that you’re never outside your Father’s care?

Dear Father, thank You for always watching over and caring for me.  

ODB: The Power of God

June 14, 2021 

READ: Psalm 121 

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

 

Rebecca and Russell’s doctors told them they couldn’t have children. But God had other ideas—and ten years later Rebecca conceived. The pregnancy was a healthy one; and when the contractions started, the couple excitedly rushed to the hospital. Yet the hours of labor grew long and more intense, and Rebecca’s body still wasn’t progressing enough for delivery. Finally, the doctor decided she needed to perform an emergency C-section. Fearful, Rebecca sobbed for her baby and herself. The doctor calmly assured her, saying, “I will do my best, but we’re going to pray to God because He can do more.” She prayed with Rebecca, and fifteen minutes later, Bruce, a healthy baby boy, was born.

That doctor understood her dependence on God and His power. She recognized that although she had the training and skill to do the surgery, she still needed God’s wisdom, strength, and help to guide her hands (Psalm 121:1–2).

It’s encouraging to hear about highly skilled people, or of anyone, who recognize they need Him—because, honestly, we all do. He’s God; we’re not. He alone “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Let’s have a humble heart to learn from Him and to trust Him in prayer “because He can do more” than we ever could.

— Anne Cetas

How have you gained an understanding of your own need for God and His power? How is this dependence seen in your daily life?

I need You and Your wisdom and power, God, for decisions, skill, work, relationships-all of my life.  

ODB: The Kingdom of God

June 13, 2021 

READ: Mark 10:13–16 

The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14

 

My mother has been committed to many things over the course of her life, but one that has remained constant is her desire to see little children introduced to Jesus. Of the few times I’ve witnessed my mother display disagreement publicly, all were when someone attempted to cut a children’s ministry budget in favor of what they felt were more “serious” expenditures. “I took off one summer when I was pregnant with your brother, but that’s it,” she told me. I did a little family math and I realized my mom had been working with children in the church for fifty-five years.

Mark 10 records one of the endearing stories in the Gospels commonly titled “The Little Children and Jesus.” People were bringing children to Jesus that He might touch and bless them. But the disciples tried to prevent this from happening. Mark records Jesus as “indignant”—and rebuking His very own disciples: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (v. 14).

Charles Dickens wrote, “I love these little people; and it’s not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” And it’s not a slight thing when we, who are older, do all we can to make sure the little children are never hindered from the ever-fresh love of Jesus.

— John Blase

If you were introduced to Jesus as a child, who were the supporting adults in that memory? What kind of impression does Jesus being indignant in this story make on you?

Jesus, help me to reveal Your love and presence to all people, including children. Make me mindful of ways to ensure that they can always come to You.