Entries by YMI

Daniel Hamlin: Finding Purpose beyond the Waves

Daniel believed he’d discovered his life’s purpose in a career in the pro-surfing industry. However on a surf trip to Nicaragua in his mid-20s that was set to become his big break, Daniel couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.

ODB: What You’re Worth

December 16, 2019 

READ: Zechariah 11:4–13 

The Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter!” Zechariah 11:13

 

Now an accomplished writer, Caitlin describes the depression she battled after fighting off an assault. The emotional violence cut deeper than her physical struggle, for she felt it proved “how undesirable I was. I was not the kind of girl you wanted to get to know.” She felt unworthy of love, the kind of person others use and toss aside.

God understands. He lovingly shepherded Israel, but when He asked them what He was worth, “they paid me thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12). This was the price of a slave; what masters must be reimbursed should their slave be accidentally killed (Exodus 21:32). God was insulted to be offered the lowest possible value—look at “the handsome price at which they valued me!” He said sarcastically (Zechariah 11:13). And He had Zechariah throw the money away.

Jesus understands. He wasn’t merely betrayed by His friend; He was betrayed with contempt. The Jewish leaders despised Christ, so they offered Judas thirty pieces of silver—the lowest price you could put on a person—and he took it (Matthew 26:14–15; 27:9). Judas thought so little of Jesus he sold Him for nearly nothing.

If people undervalued Jesus, don’t be surprised when they undervalue you. Your value isn’t what others say. It’s not even what you say. It’s entirely and only what God says. He thinks you are worth dying for.

— Mike Wittmer

How would you describe your value? Who can you help to grasp true value?

I’m grateful that I’m valued by You, God!  

ODB: Water into Hope

December 15, 2019 

READ: John 4:4–14 

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. John 7:37

 

Tom and Mark’s ministry refreshes lives. This is clear in the video they share of a group of fully clad children laughing and dancing in the refreshing water of an open shower—their first ever. The men work with indigenous churches to install water filtration systems on wells in Haiti, easing and lengthening lives as diseases connected to contaminated water are prevented. Access to clean, fresh water gives the people hope for their future.

Jesus referred to “living water” in John 4 to capture a similar idea of a continual source of refreshment. Tired and thirsty, Jesus had asked a Samaritan woman for a drink (vv. 4–8). This request led to a conversation in which Jesus offered the woman “living water” (vv. 9–15)—water that would become a source of life and hope within them, like “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (v. 14).

We discover what this living water is later in John, when Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink,” declaring that whoever believed in Him would have “rivers of living water [flowing] from within them.” John explains, “By this he meant the Spirit” (7:37–39).

Through the Spirit, believers are united to Christ and have access to the boundless power, hope, and joy found in God. Like living water, the Spirit lives inside believers, refreshing and renewing us.

— Alyson Kieda

How has Jesus satisfied your thirst through His Spirit? How will you share what Jesus has done for you?

Dear God, thank You for leaving us Your Spirit. Work in us so that our lives point others to You.  

ODB: Jesus and the Bigger Story

December 14, 2019 

READ: Ruth 4:13–17 

We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

 

A generous friend offered to babysit our kids so my wife and I could go on a date. “You should go somewhere fancy!” she gushed. Being practical people, we decided to go grocery shopping instead. When we returned, grocery bags in arms, our friend asked why we hadn’t done anything special. We told her that what makes a date special isn’t so much what you do, but who you’re with.

One of the few books of the Bible that doesn’t record God directly saying or doing anything, the book of Ruth could seem to be pretty ordinary. So some read it as a touching but largely human drama of two people coming together in a relationship.

But in truth, something extraordinary is taking place. In the final chapter of Ruth, we read that Ruth and Boaz’s union results in a son named Obed, the grandfather of David (4:17). And as we read in Matthew 1:1, it’s from David’s family that Jesus was born. It’s Jesus who unveils the ordinary story of Ruth and Boaz and reveals the extraordinary story of God’s amazing plans and purposes at work.

So often we see our own lives in the same way: as ordinary and serving no special purpose. But when we view our lives through Christ, He gives eternal significance to even the most ordinary situations and relationships.

— Peter Chin

When has God turned an ordinary situation into one of extraordinary significance for you? How has He made all moments in life something sacred and extraordinary?

Jesus, You give eternal purpose and meaning to the most ordinary of circumstances. Help me to see all my relationships and circumstances through You!  

ODB: Asking God

December 13, 2019 

READ: Psalm 6:4–9 

The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9

 

When my husband, Dan, was diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t find the “right” way to ask God to heal him. In my limited view, other people in the world had such serious problems—war, famine, poverty, natural disasters. Then one day, during our morning prayer time, I heard my husband humbly ask, “Dear Lord, please heal my disease.” 

It was such a simple but heartfelt plea that it reminded me to stop complicating every prayer request, because God perfectly hears our righteous cries for help. As David simply asked, “Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 6:4).

That’s what David declared during a time of spiritual confusion and despair. His exact situation isn’t explained in this psalm. His honest pleas, however, show deep desire for godly help and restoration. “I am worn out from my groaning,” he wrote (v. 6).

Yet, David didn’t let his own limits, including sin, stop him from going to God with his need. Thus, even before God answered, David was able to rejoice, “the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (vv. 8–9).

Despite our own confusion and uncertainty, God hears and accepts the honest pleas of His children. He’s ready to hear us, especially when we need Him most.

— Patricia Raybon

What’s stopping you from asking God for His help? What help will you seek from Him today?

Dear God, as you cleanse our hearts, grant us courage to ask for Your divine help, believing that You hear us and will answer.  

5 Simple Ways to Serve Others

What comes to mind when you hear the words “serve one another”? Is it accompanied by the words “arduous”, “tiring”, and “can’t be bothered”?

ODB: Overcoming Fear

December 12, 2019 

READ: 1 Samuel 17:4–7, 45–50 

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

 

Fear ruled a man’s life for thirty-two years. Afraid of being caught for his crimes, he hid at his sister’s farmhouse, going nowhere and visiting no one, even missing his mother’s funeral. When he was sixty-four, he learned that no charges had ever been filed against him. The man was free to resume a normal life. Yes, the threat of punishment was real, but he allowed the fear of it to control him.

Likewise, fear ruled the Israelites when the Philistines challenged them at the Valley of Elah. The threat was real. Their enemy Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall and his body armor alone weighed 125 pounds (1 Samuel 17:4–5). For forty days, every morning and evening, Goliath challenged the Israelite army to fight him. But no one dared come forward. No one until David visited the battle lines. He heard and saw the taunting, and volunteered to fight Goliath.

While everyone in the Israelite army thought Goliath was too big to fight, David the shepherd boy knew he wasn’t too big for God. He said, “the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s” (v. 47).

When we’re gripped by fear, let’s follow David’s example and fix our eyes on God to gain a right perspective of the problem. The threat may be real, but the One who is with us and for us is bigger than that which is against us.

— Albert Lee

What giant battle are you facing that’s crippling you in fear? How can you intentionally fix your eyes on the living God?

Thank You, God, that You’re bigger than any other giant in my life. I trust You.  

ODB: Canceled Debts

December 11, 2019 

READ: Deuteronomy 15:1–8 

The Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. Deuteronomy 15:2

 

In 2009, Los Angeles County stopped charging families for the costs of their children’s incarceration. Though no new fees were charged, those with unpaid fees from before the change in policy were still required to settle their debt. Then in 2018 the county canceled all outstanding financial obligations.

For some families, canceling the debt aided greatly in their struggle to survive; no longer having liens on their property or wages being garnished meant they were better able to put food on the table. It was for this kind of hardship that God called for debts to be forgiven every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:2). He didn’t want people to be crippled forever by them.

Because the Israelites were forbidden to charge interest on a loan to fellow Israelites (Exodus 22:25), their motives for lending to a neighbor weren’t to make a profit, but rather to help those who were enduring hard times, perhaps due to a bad harvest. Debts were to be freely forgiven every seven years. As a result, there would be less poverty among the people (Deuteronomy 15:4).

Today, believers in Jesus aren’t bound by these laws. But God might occasionally prompt us to forgive a debt so those who’ve been struggling can begin afresh as contributing members of society. When we show such mercy and generosity to others, we lift up God’s character and give people hope.

— Kirsten Holmberg

How have your “debts” been forgiven? Who can you lift up by forgiving a debt owed or a wrong done to you?

Jesus, thank You for caring about the financial burdens we carry.  

ODB: Grace at the End

December 10, 2019 

READ: Mark 5:25–34 

Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. Mark 5:34

 

Artist Doug Merkey’s masterful sculpture Ruthless Trust features a bronze human figure clinging desperately to a cross made of walnut wood. He writes, “It’s a very simple expression of our constant and appropriate posture for life—total, unfettered intimacy with and dependency upon Christ and the gospel.”

That’s the kind of trust we see expressed in the actions and words of the unnamed woman in Mark 5:25–34. For twelve years her life had been in shambles (v. 25). “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (v. 26). But having heard about Jesus, she made her way to Him, touched Him, and was “freed from her suffering” (vv. 27–29).

Have you come to the end of yourself? Have you depleted all your resources? Anxious, hopeless, lost, distressed people need not despair. The Lord Jesus still responds to desperate faith—the kind displayed by this suffering woman and depicted in Merkey’s sculpture. This faith is expressed in the words of hymn writer Charles Wesley: “Father, I stretch my hands to Thee; no other help I know.” Don’t have that kind of faith? Ask God to help you trust Him. Wesley’s hymn concludes with this prayer: “Author of faith, to Thee I lift my weary, longing eyes; O may I now receive that gift! My soul, without it, dies.”

— Arthur Jackson

When have you desperately clung to Christ? How did God meet your need?

Father, thank You for Your power to rescue me. Help me to trust You to meet all my needs.