Entries by YMI

ODB: Stay on the Way

April 9, 2020 

READ: John 14:1–7 

Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way? John 14:5

 

Dusk fell as I followed Li Bao along the tops of terraced walls cut into the mountains of central China. I had never been this way before, and I couldn’t see more than one step ahead or how steep the ground dropped off to our left. I gulped and stuck close to Li. I didn’t know where we were going or how long it would take, but I trusted my friend.

I was in the same position as Thomas, the disciple who always seemed to need reassurance. Jesus told His disciples that He must leave to prepare a place for them and that they knew “the way to the place where [He was] going” (John 14:4). Thomas asked a logical follow-up question: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (v. 5).

Jesus didn’t quench Thomas’s doubt by explaining where He was taking them. He simply assured His disciple that He was the way there. And that was enough.

We too have questions about our future. None of us know the details of what lies ahead. Life is full of twists we don’t see coming. That’s okay. It’s enough to know Jesus, who is “the way and the truth and the life” (v. 6).

Jesus knows what’s next. He only asks that we walk close to Him.

— Mike Wittmer

What’s your biggest fear about your future? Why is it enough to follow Jesus into that future?

Father, help us see that the journey is the destination, and the way is Your Son.  

ODB: God Is Worth More

April 8, 2020 

READ: Mark 10:17–28 

We have left everything to follow you! Mark 10:28

 

Having been hurt by believers in Jesus in the past, my mom responded in anger when I dedicated my life to Him. “So, now you’re going to judge me? I don’t think so.” She hung up the phone and refused to talk to me for a whole year. I grieved, but eventually realized a relationship with God was even more important than one of my most valued relationships. I prayed for her every time she refused my calls and asked God to help me love her well.

Finally, we reconciled. A few months later, she said, “You’ve changed. I think I’m ready to hear more about Jesus.” Soon after, she accepted Christ and lived the rest of her days loving God and others.

Like the man who ran up to Jesus asking how he could inherit eternal life but left in sorrow because he didn’t want to part with his wealth (Mark 10:17–22), I struggled with the thought of giving up everything to follow Him.

It’s not easy surrendering the things or people we think we can count on more than God (vv. 23–25). But the value of what we give up or lose in this world will never exceed the gift of eternal life with Jesus. Our loving God willingly sacrificed Himself to save all people. He wraps us in peace and woos us with priceless and persistent love.

— Xochitl Dixon

What was the hardest thing you gave up or lost when you started following Jesus? Why does it feel easier to trust worldly comforts, material wealth, and people more than Him?

God, thanks for loving us more than we deserve and reminding us You’re worth more than anything or anyone in this world.
To learn more about evangelism in the church today, visit

ODB: The Full Reveal

April 7, 2020 

READ: Mark 6:45–56 

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Mark 6:50

 

Moviegoers heard the beautiful voice of Emily Blunt as the starring role in Mary Poppins Returns. Amazingly, it was four years into their marriage before her husband discovered her vocal talent. In an interview, he revealed his surprise the first time he heard her sing, thinking, “When were you going to tell me this?”

In relationships we often learn new, sometimes unexpected, details that surprise us. In Mark’s gospel, Christ’s disciples initially started with an incomplete picture of Jesus and struggled to grasp all of who He is. In an encounter on the Sea of Galilee, however, Jesus revealed more of Himself—this time the extent of His power over the forces of nature.

After feeding a crowd numbering more than 5,000 people, Jesus sent His disciples out on the Sea of Galilee, where they were caught in a fierce storm. Just before dawn, the disciples were terrified to see someone walking on the water. Christ’s familiar voice spoke words of comfort, saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Mark 6:50). Then He calmed the raging sea. Upon seeing such great power, the disciples were “completely amazed” (6:51) even as they struggled to fully comprehend this experience of Christ’s power.

As we experience Jesus and His power over the storms of our lives, we gain a more complete picture of who He is. And we’re amazed.

— Lisa M. Samra

How does learning of Christ’s power help develop a fuller picture of who He is? What other stories in the Bible reveal His power?

Jesus, You amaze us with Your power. Open our eyes and reveal to us more of who You are so that we might worship You.  

Habits To Hoard Beyond The Pandemic

How many toilet rolls have you bought recently? If you’ve lost count, well, you’re probably not alone. One thing this Covid-19 pandemic has shown us is that we all have a tendency to hoard things for self-preservation, or even just for a sense of security.

ODB: Strength in Suffering

April 6, 2020 

READ: Matthew 5:1–12 

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness Matthew 5:10

 

In 1948, Harlan Popov, the pastor of an underground church, was taken from his home for a “little questioning.” Two weeks later, he received around-the-clock interrogation and no food for ten days. Each time he denied being a spy, he was beaten. Popov not only survived his harsh treatment but also led fellow prisoners to Jesus. Finally, eleven years later, he was released and continued to share his faith until, two years later, he was able to leave the country and be reunited with his family. He spent the following years preaching and raising money to distribute Bibles in closed countries.

Like countless believers in Jesus throughout the ages, Popov was persecuted because of his faith. Christ, long before His own torture and death and the subsequent persecution of His followers, said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). He continued, “Blessed are you when people . . . persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (v. 11).

“Blessed”? What could Jesus have meant? He was referring to the wholeness, joy, and comfort found in a relationship with Him (vv. 4, 8–10). Popov persevered because he felt the presence of God infusing strength into him, even in suffering. When we walk with God, no matter our circumstances, we too can experience His peace. He is with us.

— Alyson Kieda

With which of the Beatitudes do you most identify, and why? When have you felt God’s peace and presence in a trial?

Loving Father, we thank You for never leaving or forsaking us in our darkest times.  

ODB: The One Who Saves

April 5, 2020 

READ: John 12:12–18 

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” John 12:13

 

He was called “one of the bravest persons alive,” but he wasn’t what others expected. Desmond was a soldier who declined to carry a gun. As a medic, he single-handedly rescued seventy-five injured soldiers in one battle, including some who once called him a coward and ridiculed him for his faith. Running into heavy gunfire, Desmond prayed continually, “Lord, please help me get one more.” He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was greatly misunderstood. On a day foretold by the prophet Zechariah (9:9), Jesus entered Jerusalem and the crowd waved branches, shouting, “Hosanna!” (John 12:13). Quoting Psalm 118:26, they cried: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13). But the very next verse in that psalm refers to bringing a sacrifice “with boughs in hand” (Psalm 118:27). While the crowd in John 12 anticipated an earthly king to save them from Rome, Jesus was much more. He was King of Kings and our sacrifice—God in the flesh, willingly embracing the cross to save us from our sins—a purpose prophesied centuries earlier.

“At first his disciples did not understand all this,” John writes. Only later “did they realize that these things had been written about him” (John 12:16). Illumined by His Word, God’s eternal purposes became clear. See the link below to view Grant Stevenson’s “In Pursuit of Jesus” video to learn more about the One who saves.

— James Banks

How has Jesus saved you? How can you express your grateful praise to Him today?

Risen Savior, I praise You for Your sacrifice for us at the cross. Help me to live serving and praising You, my eternal King!  

ODB: Our Deepest Longings

April 4, 2020 

READ: Ecclesiastes 5:10–12 

 Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.  Ecclesiastes 5:10

 

As a young man, Duncan had been afraid of not having enough money, so in his early twenties, he began ambitiously building his future. Climbing the ladder at a prestigious Silicon Valley company, Duncan achieved vast wealth. He had a bulging bank account, a luxury sports car, and a million-dollar California home. He had everything he desired; yet he was profoundly unhappy. “I felt anxious and dissatisfied,” Duncan said. “In fact, wealth can actually make life worse.” Piles of cash didn’t provide friendship, community, or joy—and often brought him only more heartache.

Some people will expend immense energy attempting to amass wealth in an effort to secure their lives. It’s a fool’s game. “Whoever loves money never has enough,” Scripture insists (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Some will work themselves to the bone. They’ll strive and push, comparing their possessions with others and straining to achieve some economic status. And yet even if they gain supposed financial freedom, they’ll still be unsatisfied. It’s not enough. As the writer of Ecclesiastes states, “This too is meaningless” (v. 10).

The truth is, striving to find fulfillment apart from God will prove futile. While Scripture calls us to work hard and use our gifts for the good of the world, we can never accumulate enough to satisfy our deepest longings. Jesus alone offers a real and satisfying life (John 10:10)—one based on a loving relationship that’s truly enough!

— Winn Collier

What brings you true satisfaction and fulfillment? How can you more fully live out the fact that only God is enough?

Gracious God, allow me to find my true fulfillment and joy in You. Keep me from a wrong view of work and material things.  

Letters from Lockdown

If you feel like you’re the only one trapped indoors, you’re not alone!

Hear from these 6 millennials in Australia, England, Italy, Malaysia, Scotland, and the US about how they’ve been coping with being on lockdown, and the different ways God’s Word has remained alive