Entries by YMI

ODB: Keeping Our Spiritual Edge

May 22, 2024 

READ: 2 Chronicles 16:1-9 

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

 

The Rocky movies tell the story of a raw boxer, fueled by never-say-die determination, who overcomes improbable odds to become heavyweight champion. In Rocky III, a now successful Rocky becomes impressed with his own achievements. Television commercials disrupt his time in the gym. The champ grows soft, and he’s knocked out by a challenger. The rest of the movie is Rocky’s attempt to regain his fighting edge.

In a spiritual sense, King Asa of Judah lost his fighting edge. Early in his reign, he relied on God in the face of daunting odds. As the mighty Cushites prepared to attack, Asa prayed, “Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army” (2 Chronicles 14:11). God answered his prayer, and Judah struck down and scattered their enemies (vv. 12-15).

Years later, Judah was threatened again. This time a complacent Asa ignored God and instead asked the king of Aram for help (16:2-3). It seemed to work. But God wasn’t pleased. The prophet Hanani told Asa that he’d stopped trusting God (vv. 7-8). Why hadn’t he relied on God now as he had then?

Our God is unfailingly reliable. His eyes “range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (v. 9). When we keep our spiritual edge—fully depending on God—we’ll experience His power.

— Mike Wittmer

As you age, is it easier or harder to trust your heavenly Father? Why do you think that is? How might God strengthen your faith?

Dear Jesus, may I rest in You more each day.  

ODB: Extending Christ’s Kindness

May 21, 2024 

READ: Genesis 33:1-11 

Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. Genesis 33:4

 

Kindness or revenge? Isaiah had just been hit in the head by a wild pitch during a Little League regional championship baseball game. He dropped to the ground holding his head. Thankfully, his helmet protected him from serious injury. As play resumed, Isaiah noticed the pitcher was visibly shaken by his unintentional error. In that moment, Isaiah did something so extraordinary that the video of his response went viral. He walked over to the pitcher, gave him a comforting hug, and made sure the pitcher knew he was all right. In a situation that could have resulted in a brawl, Isaiah chose kindness.

In the Old Testament, we see Esau make a similar, though far more difficult, choice to abandon any long-harbored plans for revenge against his deceiving twin brother Jacob. As Jacob returned home after twenty years in exile, Esau chose kindness and forgiveness instead of vengeance for the ways Jacob had wronged him. When Esau saw Jacob, he “ran to meet [him] and embraced him” (Genesis 33:4). Esau accepted Jacob’s apology and let him know he was all right (vv. 9-11).

When someone demonstrates remorse for wrongs committed against us, we have a choice: kindness or revenge. Choosing to embrace them in kindness follows Jesus’ example (Romans 5:8) and is a pathway toward reconciliation.

— Lisa M. Samra

When have you been met by kindness after acknowledging a wrong? How might you show kindness to someone else?

Dear Jesus, please help me to follow Your example and extend kindness when I’ve been wronged.

Find out how forgiveness can save your relationships.  

ODB: God in the Past and Present

May 20, 2024 

READ: Jeremiah 29:8-14 

I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. Jeremiah 29:10

 

It had been years since we left the Oregon town where we raised our family. We’d made great memories there, and the recent visit reminded me of moments I’d forgotten: our girls’ soccer games, our old home, church gatherings, and our friends’ Mexican restaurant. The town had changed, but there was enough of the familiar to spark my desire to return for a visit. 

When the Israelites went into exile in Babylon, they missed the familiarity of people, landmarks, and culture. They forgot they’d been exiled for rebelling against God. When false prophets told the exiles they’d return home within two years (Jeremiah 28:2-4; 29:8-9), they found a receptive audience. It was easy to listen to the slick words of false prophets who promised a return home soon.

God didn’t take kindly to these peddlers of the past and their false promises. “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you,” He said (29:8). He had plans for His people, “plans to give [them] hope and a future” (v. 11). The situation was challenging, difficult, and new, but God was with them. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” He told them (v. 13). God would bring them “back to the place from which I carried you into exile” (v. 14), but in His timing.

Nostalgia plays tricks on the mind, making it easy to long for what once was. Don’t miss what God is doing right now. He will fulfill His promises. 

— Matt Lucas

What difficulty are you facing today? How is God showing Himself faithful?

Father, may I continue to look for You in the present and not long for the past.  

ODB: Making God Known

May 19, 2024 

READ: Revelation 7:9-12 

Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. Revelation 7:10

 

A love for God and for people undergirds Kathryn’s Bible translating work. She rejoices when women in India come to a deeper understanding of Scripture, reading it in their mother tongue. She remarks that when they do, “They often start cheering or clapping. They read about Jesus, and they say, ‘Oh, wonderful!’ ”

Kathryn longs for more people to read the Scriptures in their own language. In this desire, she holds close to her heart the vision of the aging disciple John on the island of Patmos. Through the Spirit, God ushered him into the throne room of heaven, where he saw “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9). All together they worshiped God, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God” (v. 10).

God continues to add to the great number of people praising Him. He uses not only the work of Bible translators and those praying for them, but also those who reach out to their neighbors in love with the good news of Jesus. We can rejoice in this joyful mission, marveling at how God will spark more people to join with the angels in saying, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever” (v. 12).

— Amy Boucher Pye

How do you see God spurring on people to praise and honor Him? How might He invite you to join in His mission of spreading the good news of Jesus?

Saving God, thank You for the gift of Jesus. Please help me to share Your wonderful love with others.  

ODB: Called and Equipped by God

May 18, 2024 

READ: Exodus 31:1-11 

I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom . . . and with all kinds of skills. Exodus 31:3

 

“Your job for the international book expo,” my boss informed me, “is to organize an onsite radio broadcast.” I felt fear because this was new territory for me. God, I’ve never done anything like this, I prayed. Please help me.

God provided resources and people to guide me: experienced technicians and broadcasters, plus reminders during the expo of details I’d overlooked. In retrospect, I know that the broadcast went well because He knew what was needed and prompted me to use the skills He’d already given me.

When God calls us to a task, He also equips us for it. When He assigned Bezalel to work on the tabernacle, Bezalel was already a skilled craftsman. God further equipped him by filling him with His Spirit and with wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and all kinds of skills (Exodus 31:3). God also gave him an assistant in Oholiab, as well as a skilled workforce (v. 6). With His enablement, the team designed and made the tent, its furnishings, and the priests’ garments. These were instrumental in the Israelites’ proper worship of God (vv. 7-11).

Bezalel means “in the shadow [protection] of God.” The craftsman worked on the project of a lifetime under God’s protection, power, and provision. Let’s courageously obey His prompting as we carry out a task to completion. He knows what we need, and how and when to give it.

— Karen Huang

What task is God calling you to carry out? In what areas can you pray for His guidance?

Father, thank You for equipping me with all that I need.  

ODB: A Change of Venue

May 17, 2024 

READ: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 

We . . .  would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

 

My friend Joann passed away from a stroke just as the coronavirus began to spread in 2020. At first her family published that her memorial service would be at her church, but then it was determined it was best to hold it at a funeral home to control the size of the group attending. The new notice online read: Joann Warners—Changed Venue.

Yes, her venue had changed! She’d gone from the venue of earth to the venue of heaven. God changed her life years before, and she lovingly served Him for nearly fifty years. Even while she lay near death in the hospital, she asked about others she loved who were struggling. Now she’s present with Him; she has changed venues.

The apostle Paul had the desire to be with Christ in another venue (2 Corinthians 5:8), but he also felt it would be better for the people he served for him to remain on earth. He wrote to the Philippians, “It is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:24). When we grieve for someone like Joann, we may cry out to God something similar: They’re needed here by me and many others they loved and served. But God knows the best timing for their change of venue and our own.

In the Spirit’s strength, we now “make it our goal to please [God]” (2 Corinthians 5:9) until we see Him face-to-face—which will be far better.

— Anne Cetas

In what ways are you revealing your love for God and others where you are right now? How might you serve Him today?

I give myself anew to You, God. Please fill me with Your Spirit of love and make my life count for You.  

ODB: God’s Handiwork

May 16, 2024 

READ: Psalm 8 

How majestic is your name in all the earth. Psalm 8:1

 

On July 12, 2022, scientists awaited the first images of deepest space from the new James Webb Space Telescope. The state-of-the-art telescope can look farther into the universe than mankind has ever looked before. Suddenly a breathtaking image emerges: a color space-scape of the Carina Nebula, never before seen like this. One NASA astronomer quoted Carl Sagan, a noted atheist: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting.”

Sometimes people can look God in the eye and not see Him. But the psalmist David looked into the sky and knew exactly what he was seeing: “You have set your glory in the heavens” (Psalm 8:1). Sagan was right in saying that “something incredible is waiting,” but he failed to acknowledge what David clearly perceived: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them” (vv. 3-4).

When we see images of deepest space, we’re amazed, not so much because of technology, but because we’re witnessing the handiwork of God. We marvel because in the vastness of creation, God has made us “rulers over the works of [his] hands” (v. 6).  Indeed, “something incredible is waiting”—God, waiting to bring believers in Jesus to Him when He returns. That’s the most breathtaking image of all.

— Kenneth Petersen

What thoughts do you have as you look at images of deep space? How do you experience God in them?

Creator God, I’m amazed at the glory of the heavens and the beauty of Your handiwork. Thank You for caring for me in the midst of Your wondrous creation!  

ODB: Lies and Truth

May 15, 2024 

READ: John 8:31-32, 36, 42-47 

[Satan] is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

 

Adolf Hitler believed big lies were more powerful than small ones, and, tragically, he tested his theory successfully. Early in his political career, he claimed he was content to support others’ aspirations. When he came to power, he said his party didn’t intend to persecute anyone. Later, he used the media to portray himself as a father figure and moral leader.

Satan uses lies to gain power in our lives. Whenever possible, he provokes fear, anger, and despair because he’s “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan can’t tell the truth because, as Jesus said, he doesn’t have any truth inside of him.

Here are a few of the enemy’s lies. First, our prayers don’t matter. Not true. The Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Second, when we’re in trouble, there’s no way out. Wrong again. “All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27), and “he will also provide a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Third, God doesn’t love us. That’s false. Nothing can “separate us” from God’s love through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s truth is more powerful than lies. If we obey Jesus’ teaching in His strength, then we “will know the truth,” reject what’s false, and “the truth will set [us] free” (John 8:31-32).

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

What are some lies you’re likely to believe? How might God want you to refresh your mind with His truth?

Dear Jesus, You’re the way, the truth, and the life. Please show me lies I’ve believed and help me to cling to the truth I read in the Bible.