Entries by YMI

ODB: He Knows Your Name

June 12, 2021 

READ: Isaiah 43:1–7 

I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

 

After breaking with our longtime church, my husband and I reunited with the fellowship after three long years. But how would people treat us? Would they welcome us back? Love us? Forgive us for leaving? We got our answer on a sunny Sunday morning. As we walked through the big church doors, we kept hearing our names. “Pat! Dan! It’s so great to see you!” As children’s author Kate DiCamillo wrote in one of her popular books, “Reader, nothing is sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name.”

The same assurance was true for the people of Israel. We had chosen a different church for a time, but they had turned their backs on God. Yet He welcomed them back. He sent the prophet Isaiah to assure them, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

In this world—where we can feel unseen, unappreciated, and even unknown—be assured that God knows each of us by name. “You are precious and honored in my sight,” He promises (v. 4). “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (v. 2). This promise isn’t just for Israel. Jesus ransomed His life for us. He knows our names. Why? In love, we are His.

— Patricia Raybon

Why does God welcome His people back to Him? How has He shown that He knows you by name?

Jesus, when I stray from Your arms and Your fellowship, summon me home by name. I’m so grateful to be Yours.  

ODB: Unseen Wonder

June 11, 2021 

READ: 1 Peter 1:3–9 

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him. 1 Peter 1:8

 

In the twilight of her years, Mrs. Goodrich’s thoughts came in and out of focus along with memories of a challenging and grace-filled life. Sitting by a window overlooking the waters of Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, she reached for her notepad. In words she soon wouldn’t recognize as her own she wrote: “Here I am in my favorite chair, with my feet on the sill, and my heart in the air. The sun-struck waves on the water below, in constant motion—to where I don’t know. But thank You—dear Father above—for Your innumerable gifts and Your undying love! It always amazes me—How can it be? That I’m so in love with One I can’t see.”

The apostle Peter acknowledged such wonder. He had seen Jesus with his own eyes, but those who would read his letter had not. “Though you have not seen him . . . you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). We love Jesus not because we’re commanded to, but because with the help of the Spirit (v. 11) we begin to see how much He loves us.

It’s more than hearing that He cares for people like us. It’s experiencing for ourselves the promise of Christ to make the wonder of His unseen presence and Spirit real to us at every stage of life.

— Mart DeHaan

Read 1 Peter 1:3–9 again. In what ways do these words show you how our God makes the inexpressible real to us? How open are you to the Spirit of Jesus, who lives in and among us?

Our Father in heaven, please help me to see the miracle of Your love and presence in Your Son and to believe in Your Spirit.  

ODB: Who Are You?

June 10, 2021 

READ: Ezekiel 32:2–10 

You are like a lion among the nations; you are like a monster in the seas. Ezekiel 32:2

 

The leader of our video conference said, “Good morning!” I said “Hello” back, but I wasn’t looking at him. I was distracted by my own image on the screen. Do I look like this? I looked at the smiling faces of the others on the call. That looks like them. So yes, this must be me. I should lose some weight. And get a haircut.

In his mind, Pharaoh was pretty great. He was “a lion among the nations . . . a monster in the seas” (Ezekiel 32:2). But then he caught a glimpse of himself from God’s perspective. God said he was in trouble and that He would expose his carcass to wild animals, causing “many peoples to be appalled at you, and their kings [to] shudder with horror because of you” (v. 10). Pharaoh was much less impressive than he thought.

We may think we’re “spiritually handsome”—until we see our sin as God sees it. Compared to His holy standard, even “our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). But God also sees something else, something even more true: He sees Jesus, and He sees us in Jesus.

Feeling discouraged about how you are? Remember this is not who you are. If you have put your trust in Jesus, then you’re in Jesus, and His holiness drapes over you. You’re more beautiful than you imagine.

— Mike Wittmer

What image do you have of yourself? How does that compare to the image God has of you?

Jesus, I cling to You. Your love and goodness beautifies me.
 
Read The Forgiveness of God at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0602.  

Gratefully Yours

Have we been chasing our ambition and goals at full speed? New opportunities? Seize them. Difficult dilemmas? Move past them. Painful failures? Ignore them. Everything and anything to get us to where we want to be in life, so much so that our experience can be reducible to a single measure: our productivity.

ODB: Moving Toward Maturity

June 9, 2021 

READ: Ephesians 4:11–16 

Become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

 

A recent survey asked respondents to identify the age at which they believed they became adults. Those who considered themselves adults pointed to specific behaviors as evidence of their status. Having a budget and buying a house topped the list as being marks of “adulting.” Other adult activities ranged from cooking dinner every weeknight and scheduling one’s own medical appointments, to the more humorous ability to choose to eat snacks for dinner or being excited to stay at home on a Saturday evening instead of going out.

The Bible says we should press on toward spiritual maturity as well. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, urging the people to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). While we’re “young” in our faith, we’re vulnerable to “every wind of teaching” (v. 14), which often results in division among us. Instead, as we mature in our understanding of the truth, we function as a unified body under “him who is the head, that is, Christ” (v. 15).

God gave us His Spirit to help us grow into a full understanding of who He is (John 14:26), and He equips pastors and teachers to instruct and lead us toward maturity in our faith (Ephesians 4:11–12). Just as certain characteristics are evidence of physical maturity, our unity as His body is evidence of our spiritual growth.

— Kirsten Holmberg

In what ways are you still vulnerable to “every wind of teaching”? How can you continue to grow spiritually?

Loving God, You’re the author of my growth and maturity. Please help me to see where my understanding of You is still immature and teach me more of Your wisdom.
 
To learn more about growing toward spiritual maturity, vi 

ODB: Divine Rescue

June 8, 2021 

READ: Exodus 3:7–10 

I have come down to rescue them. Exodus 3:8

 

After being informed of a 911 call from a concerned citizen, a police officer drove alongside the train tracks, shining his floodlight into the dark until he spotted the vehicle straddling the iron rails. The trooper’s dashboard camera captured the harrowing scene as a train barreled toward the car. “That train was coming fast,” the officer said, “Fifty to eighty miles per hour.” Acting without hesitation, he pulled an unconscious man from the car mere seconds before the train slammed into it.

Scripture reveals God as the One who rescues—often precisely when all seems lost. Trapped in Egypt and withering under suffocating oppression, the Israelites imagined no possibility for escape. In Exodus, however, we find God offering them words resounding with hope: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt,” He said. “I have heard them crying out . . . and I am concerned about their suffering” (3:7). And God not only saw—God acted. “I have come down to rescue them” (v. 8). God led Israel out of bondage. This was a divine rescue.

God’s rescue of Israel reveals God’s heart—and His power—to help all of us who are in need. He assists those of us who are destined for ruin unless God arrives to save us. Though our situation may be dire or impossible, we can lift our eyes and heart and watch for the One who loves to rescue.

— Winn Collier

Where does all seem lost and where do you need God’s rescue? How can you turn your hope to Him in this dire place?

God, I’m in real trouble, and if You don’t help me, I don’t see a good ending. Will You help me? Will You rescue me?
 
Read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at DiscoverySeries.org/CB 

ODB: A Wise Builder

June 7, 2021 

READ: Proverbs 14:1–3, 26–27, 33 

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1

 

Sojourner Truth, whose birth name was Isabella Baumfree, was born a slave in 1797 in Esopus, New York. Though nearly all her children were sold as slaves, she escaped to freedom in 1826 with one daughter and lived with a family who paid the money for her freedom. Instead of allowing an unjust system to keep her family apart, she took legal action to regain her small son Peter—an amazing feat for an African American woman in that day. Knowing she couldn’t raise her children without God’s help, she became a believer in Christ and later changed her name to Sojourner Truth to show that her life was built on the foundation of God’s truth.

King Solomon, the writer of Proverbs 14, declares, “The wise woman builds her house” (v. 1). In contrast, one without wisdom “tears hers down.” This building metaphor shows the wisdom God provides to those willing to listen. How does one build a house with wisdom? By saying “only what is helpful for building others up” (Ephesians 4:29; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:11). How does one tear down? Proverbs 14 gives the answer: “A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride” (v. 3).

Sojourner had a “secure fortress” (v. 26) in a turbulent time, thanks to the wisdom of God. You may never have to rescue your children from an injustice. But you can build your house on the same foundation Sojourner did—the wisdom of God.

— Linda Washington

What foundation is your house established upon? How will you build your house this week?

Father, I need Your wisdom to build a lasting legacy for Your glory.