Entries by YMI

Singing Is Praying

Sometimes we can feel guilty about our prayer lives. No matter how much we pray, we’re sure it’s never enough.

ODB: Instead of Revenge

January 18, 2020 

READ: Romans 12:17–21 

If your enemy is hungry, feed him. Romans 12:20

 

After Jim Elliot and four other missionaries were killed by Huaorani tribesmen in 1956, no one expected what happened next. Jim’s wife, Elisabeth, their young daughter, and another missionary’s sister willingly chose to make their home among the very people who killed their loved ones. They spent several years living in the Huaorani community, learning their language, and translating the Bible for them. These women’s testimony of forgiveness and kindness convinced the Huaorani of God’s love for them and many received Jesus as their Savior.

What Elisabeth and her friend did is an incredible example of not repaying evil with evil but with good (Romans 12:17). The apostle Paul encouraged the church in Rome to show through their actions the transformation that God had brought into their own lives. What did Paul have in mind? They were to go beyond the natural desire to take revenge; instead, they were to show love to their enemies by meeting their needs, such as providing food or water.

Why do this? Paul quotes a proverb from the Old Testament: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (v. 20; Proverbs 25:21–22). The apostle was revealing that the kindness shown by believers to their enemies could win them over and light the fire of repentance in their hearts.

— Estera Pirosca Escobar

How did Jesus live out the command to love one’s enemies? What will you do today to show God’s love to those who have harmed you?

Abba, Father, it’s difficult, even impossible, for us to love others in our own strength. Help us through Your Spirit to truly love our enemies, and use us to bring them to You.   

Soldiers, Athletes, And Farmers

What do soldiers, athletes, and farmers have in common? Discipline. Soldiers go through drills day in and day out.

ODB: Storm Chasers

January 17, 2020 

READ: Psalm 107:23–32 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29

 

“Chasing tornadoes,” says Warren Faidley, “is often like a giant game of 3D-chess played out over thousands of square miles.” The photojournalist and storm-chaser adds: “Being in the right place at the right time is a symphony of forecasting and navigation while dodging everything from softball-sized hailstones to dust storms and slow-moving farm equipment.”

Faidley’s words make my palms sweat and heart beat faster. While admiring the raw courage and scientific hunger storm chasers display, I balk at throwing myself into the middle of potentially fatal weather events.

In my experience, however, I don’t have to chase storms in life—they seem to be chasing me. That experience is mirrored by Psalm 107 as it describes sailors trapped in a storm. They were being chased by the consequences of their wrong choices but the psalmist says, “They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm” (Psalm 107:28–30).

Whether the storms of life are of our own making or the result of living in a broken world, our Father is greater. When we are being chased by storms, He alone is able to calm them—or to calm the storm within us.

— Bill Crowder

When facing difficulties, where do you turn for help? How might you trust your heavenly Father today, who is greater than your storms?

Thank You, Father, that You’re with me in my struggles and Your power is greater than any storm on my horizon.
To learn about why suffering occurs, visit christianuniversity.org/CA 

Ongoing Repentance

Over the years I’ve often heard of the “Twelve Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

ODB: Bring What You Have

January 16, 2020 

READ: John 6:4–14 

“Bring them here to me,” [Jesus] said. Matthew 14:18

 

“Stone Soup,” an old tale with many versions, tells of a starving man who comes to a village, but no one there can spare a crumb of food for him. He puts a stone and water in a pot over a fire. Intrigued, the villagers watch him as he begins to stir his “soup.” Eventually, one brings a couple of potatoes to add to the mix; another has a few carrots. One person adds an onion, another a handful of barley. A farmer donates some milk. Eventually, the “stone soup” becomes a tasty chowder.

That tale illustrates the value of sharing, but it also reminds us to bring what we have, even when it seems to be insignificant. In John 6:1–14 we read of a boy who appears to be the only person in a huge crowd who thought about bringing some food. Christ’s disciples had little use for the boy’s sparse lunch of five loaves and two fishes. But when it was surrendered, Jesus increased it and fed thousands of hungry people!

I once heard someone say, “You don’t have to feed the five thousand. You just have to bring your loaves and fishes.” Just as Jesus took one person’s meal and multiplied it far beyond anyone’s expectations or imagination (v. 11), He’ll accept our surrendered efforts, talents, and service. He just wants us to be willing to bring what we have to Him. 

— Cindy Hess Kasper

What have you been holding back from God? Why is it difficult to bring that area of your life to Him?

Jesus, help me to surrender whatever I have to You, knowing You can multiply a little into a lot.  

Disciplined for Freedom

My dog has been trained to always come back to me the instant I call or whistle. It’s taken a lot of work to get this response.

ODB: Walking with the Spirit

January 15, 2020 

READ: Galatians 5:13–18 

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

 

Ten thousand hours. That’s how long author Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes to become skillful at any craft. Even for the greatest artists and musicians of all time, their tremendous inborn talent wasn’t enough to achieve the level of expertise that they would eventually attain. They needed to immerse themselves in their craft every single day.

As strange as it might seem, we need a similar mentality when it comes to learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians, Paul encourages the church to be set apart for God. But Paul explained that this couldn’t be achieved through merely obeying a set of rules. Instead we’re called to walk with the Holy Spirit. The Greek word that Paul uses for “walk” in Galatians 5:16 literally means to walk around and around something, or to journey (peripateo). So for Paul, walking with the Spirit meant journeying with the Spirit each day—it’s not just a one-time experience of His power.

May we pray to be filled with the Spirit daily—to yield to the Spirit’s work as He counsels, guides, comforts, and is simply there with us. And as we’re “led by the Spirit” in this way (v. 18), we become better and better at hearing His voice and following His leading. Holy Spirit, may I walk with You today, and every day!

— Peter Chin

While being indwelt by the Holy Spirit when we receive salvation is a one-time event, how does this differ from being filled or walking with the Spirit? How have you been exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit?

Father, help me to experience the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit today, so that I might walk with You and live in a way that pleases You.  

Transformed Lives

A gospel song by Mahalia Jackson expresses that without God, we can’t do anything, and that we must depend on Jesus.