Entries by YMI

ODB: Obscured by Clouds

March 23, 2019 

READ: 2 Corinthians 4:16–18 

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

A rare supermoon appeared in November 2016—the moon in its orbit reached its closest point to the earth in over sixty years and so appeared bigger and brighter than at other times. But for me that day the skies were shrouded in gray. Although I saw photos of this wonder from friends in other places, as I gazed upward I had to trust that the supermoon was lurking behind the clouds.

The apostle Paul faced many hardships but believed that what is unseen will last forever. He said how his “momentary troubles” achieve “an eternal glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Thus he could fix his eyes “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,” because what is unseen is eternal (v. 18). Paul yearned that the Corinthians and our faith would grow, and although we suffer, that we too would trust in God. We might not be able to see Him, but we can believe He is renewing us day by day (v. 16).

I thought about how God is unseen but eternal when I gazed at the clouds that day, knowing that the supermoon was hidden but there. And I hoped the next time I was tempted to believe that God was far from me, I would fix my eyes on what is unseen.

— Amy Boucher Pye

What does it mean for you to fix your eyes on what is unseen? How does your hope in Jesus help you face the difficulties of life?

Lord God, sometimes I feel like You’re far from me. Help me to believe the truth that You are ever near, whether I feel Your presence or not.
   

ODB: Bearing the Burden of Wrongs

March 22, 2019 

READ: 1 Peter 3:8–14 

Do not repay evil with evil. 1 Peter 3:9

 

On January 30, 2018, almost thirty-eight years after his conviction, Malcolm Alexander walked out of prison a free man. DNA evidence cleared Alexander, who had steadfastly maintained his innocence amid a myriad of court proceedings that were tragically unjust. An incompetent defense attorney (later disbarred), shoddy evidence, and dubious investigative tactics all put an innocent man in prison for nearly four decades. When he was finally released, however, Alexander showed immense grace. “You cannot be angry,” he said. “There’s not enough time to be angry.”

Alexander’s words evidence a deep grace. If injustice robbed us of thirty-eight years of our lives and destroyed our reputations, we would likely be angry, furious. Though Alexander spent many long, heartbreaking years bearing the burden of wrongs inflicted upon him, he wasn’t undone by the evil. Rather than exerting his energy trying to get revenge, he exhibited the posture Peter instructs: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult” (1 Peter 3:9).

The Scriptures go a step further: rather than seeking vengeance, the apostle Peter tells us we are to bless (v. 9). We extend forgiveness, the hope of well-being, for those who have unjustly wronged us. Without excusing their evil actions, we can meet them with God’s scandalous mercy. On the cross, Jesus bore the burden of our wrongs, that we might receive grace and extend it to others—even those who have wronged us.

— Winn Collier

Without excusing their actions, how can you extend mercy to others who have wronged you? What will it mean for you to “bless” them?

God, it’s hard not to want those who hurt me to hurt just as much. Help me to live out Your mercy and grace.  

ODB: Hand Made for You

March 21, 2019 

READ: Ephesians 2:4–10 

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

 

My grandmother was a talented seamstress who won contests in her native Texas. Throughout my life, she celebrated hallmark occasions with a hand-sewn gift. A burgundy mohair sweater for my high school graduation. A turquoise quilt for my marriage. I’d fold over a corner of each custom-crafted item to discover her signature tag reading, “Hand made for you by Munna.” With every embroidered word, I sensed my grandmother’s love for me and received a powerful statement of her faith in my future.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians of their purpose in this world, describing them as “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (2:10). Here “handiwork” denotes a work of art or a masterpiece. Paul goes on to describe that God’s handiwork in creating us would result in our handiwork of creating good works—or expressions of our restored relationship with Jesus—for His glory in our world. We can never be saved by our own good works, but when God hand makes us for His purposes, He can use us to bring others toward His great love.

With her head bowed over her needle, my Munna hand made items to communicate her love for me and her passion that I discover my purpose on this planet. And with His fingers shaping the details of our days, God stitches His love and purposes in our hearts that we might experience Him for ourselves and demonstrate His handiwork to others.

— Elisa Morgan

What has God created you to do? Who can you show His love to today?

Dear Father, thank You for hand making me; help me to show You to my world.  

ODB: From Wailing to Worship

March 20, 2019 

READ: Psalm 30 

You turned my wailing into dancing; you . . . clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

 

Kim began battling breast cancer in 2013. Four days after her treatment ended, doctors diagnosed her with a progressive lung disease and gave her three to five years to live. She grieved, sobbing prayers as she processed her emotions before God for the first year. By the time I met Kim in 2015, she had surrendered her situation to Him and radiated contagious joy and peace. Though some days are still hard, God continues to transform her heart-wrenching suffering into a beautiful testimony of hope-filled praise as she encourages others.

Even when we’re in dire circumstances, God can turn our wailing into dancing. Though His healing won’t always look or feel like we’d hoped or expected, we can be confident in God’s ways (Psalm 30:1–3). No matter how tear-stained our path may be, we have countless reasons to praise Him (v. 4). We can rejoice in God, as He secures our confident faith (vv. 5–7). We can cry out for His mercy (vv. 8–10), celebrating the hope He’s brought to many weeping worshipers. Only God can transform wails of despair into vibrant joy that doesn’t depend on circumstances (vv. 11–12).

As our merciful God comforts us in our sorrow, He envelops us in peace and empowers us to extend compassion toward others and ourselves. Our loving and faithful Lord can and does turn our wailing into worship that can lead to heart-deep trust, praise, and maybe even joyful dancing.

— Xochitl Dixon

What’s the source of true peace and joy? What does it mean for you to truly surrender your all to God?

God, please hold us close as we trust You can transform our wails to worship.