Entries by YMI

ODB: Walking by a Blessing

May 12, 2022 

READ: Isaiah 48:12–20 

If only you had paid attention to my commands. Isaiah 48:18

 

In 1799, twelve-year-old Conrad Reed found a large, glittering rock in the stream that ran through his family’s small farm in North Carolina. He carried it home to show his father, a poor immigrant farmer. His father didn’t understand the rock’s potential value and used it as a doorstop. The family walked by it for years.

Eventually Conrad’s rock—actually a seventeen-pound gold nugget—caught the eye of a local jeweler. Soon the Reed family became wealthy, and their property became the site of the first major gold strike in the United States.

Sometimes we walk past a blessing, intent on our own plans and ways. After Israel was exiled to Babylon for disobeying God, He proclaimed freedom for them once again. But He also reminded them of what they’d missed. “I am the Lord your God,” He told them, “who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” God then encouraged them to follow Him away from old ways into a new life: “Leave Babylon . . . ! Announce this with shouts of joy” (Isaiah 48:17–18, 20).

Leaving Babylon, perhaps now as much as then, means leaving sinful ways and “coming home” to a God who longs to do us good—if only we’ll obey and follow Him!

— James Banks

What aspect of God do you look forward to as you walk with Him today? What can you do to gently lead others to His love?

Loving God, there’s no one like You! Help me embrace the opportunity to walk with You and discover the blessings You alone provide.  

ODB: Always Worth Sharing

May 11, 2022 

READ: 2 Corinthians 2:12–17 

Thanks be to God, who always . . . uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14

 

After I became a believer in Jesus, I shared the gospel with my mother. Instead of making a decision to trust Jesus, as I expected, she stopped speaking to me for a year. Her bad experiences with people who claimed to follow Jesus made her distrust believers in Christ. I prayed for her and reached out to her weekly. The Holy Spirit comforted me and continued working on my heart as my mom gave me the silent treatment. When she finally answered my phone call, I committed to loving her and sharing God’s truth with her whenever I had the opportunity. Months after our reconciliation, she said I’d changed. Almost a year later, she received Jesus as her Savior, and, as a result, our relationship deepened.

Believers in Jesus have access to the greatest gift given to humanity—Christ. The apostle Paul says we’re to “spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14). He refers to those who share the gospel as “the pleasing aroma of Christ” to those who believe, but acknowledges we reek of death to those who reject Jesus (vv. 15–16).

After we receive Christ as our Savior, we have the privilege of using our limited time on earth to spread His life-changing truth while loving others. Even during our hardest and loneliest moments, we can trust He’ll provide what we need. No matter what the personal cost, God’s good news is always worth sharing.

— Xochitl Dixon

How has God encouraged you to not give up after you shared the gospel with someone who reacted in a negative way? How did God bring you close to someone after you both connected as believers in Jesus?

Help me share Your good news wherever You send me, God!  

ODB: Engraved Grief

May 10, 2022 

READ: Job 19:19–27 

Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, . . . inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! Job 19:23–24

 

After receiving the devastating diagnosis of a rare and incurable brain cancer, Caroline found renewed hope and purpose through providing a unique service: volunteering photography services for critically ill children and their families. Through this service, families could capture the precious moments shared with their children, both in grief and “the moments of grace and beauty we assume don’t exist in those desperate places.” She observed that “in the hardest moments imaginable, those families . . . choose to love, despite and because of it all.”

There’s something unspeakably powerful about capturing the truth of grief—both the devastating reality of it and the ways in which we experience beauty and hope in the midst of it.

Much of the book of Job is like a photograph of grief—capturing honestly Job’s journey through devastating loss (1:18–19). After sitting with Job for several days, his friends wearied of his grief, resorting to minimizing it or explaining it away as God’s judgment. But Job would have none of it, insisting that what he was going through mattered, and wishing that the testimony of his experience would be “engraved in rock forever!” (19:24).

Through the book of Job, it was “engraved”—in a way that points us in our grief to the living God (vv. 26–27), who meets us in our pain, carrying us through death into resurrection life.

— Monica La Rose

How can facing pain honestly bring healing? When have you experienced unexpected grace and beauty within great grief?

Compassionate God, help me to witness honestly to those who are experiencing pain and offer the hope You provide.
Read Out of the Ashes: God’s Presence in Job’s Pain.  

ODB: The Sunflower Battle

May 9, 2022 

READ: Colossians 2:6–14 

In Christ you have been brought to fullness. Colossians 2:10

 

The deer in our neighborhood and I have two different opinions about sunflowers. When I plant sunflowers each spring, I’m looking forward to the beauty of their blooms. My deer friends, however, don’t care about the finished product. They simply want to chew the stems and leaves until there’s nothing left. It’s an annual summertime battle as I try to see the sunflowers to maturity before my four-hoofed neighbors devour them. Sometimes I win; sometimes they win.

When we think about our lives as believers in Jesus, it’s easy to see a similar battle being waged between us and our enemy—Satan. Our goal is continual growth leading to spiritual maturity that helps our lives stand out for God’s honor. The devil wants to devour our faith and keep us from growing. But Jesus has dominion over “every power” and can bring us “to fullness” (Colossians 2:10), which means He makes us “complete.” Christ’s victory on the cross allows us to stand out in the world like those beautiful sunflowers.

When Jesus nailed the “record of the charges against us” (the penalty for our sins) to the cross (v. 14 nlt), He destroyed the powers that controlled us. We became “rooted and built up” (v. 7) and made “alive with Christ” (v. 13). In Him we have the power (v. 10) to resist the enemy’s spiritual attacks and to flourish in Jesus—displaying a life of true beauty.

— Dave Branon

In what areas does the enemy try to nibble away at your growing spiritual maturity? Why is it vital for you to call out to God when you experience spiritual attacks?

Loving God, make my life beautiful for You. Help me to resist the enemy through Your power because I can’t do it on my own. Thank You for Jesus’ death and resurrection-my source of hope, power, and courage.  

ODB: How Great Is Our God!

May 8, 2022 

READ: Psalm 111:1–10 

Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2

 

Fingerprints have long been used to identify people, but they can be faked by creating copies. Similarly, the pattern of the iris in the human eye is a reliable source for ID—until someone alters the pattern with a contact lens to skew the results. The use of biometrics to identify individuals can be defeated. So, what qualifies as a unique identifying characteristic? It turns out that everyone’s blood-vessel patterns are unique and virtually impossible to counterfeit. Your own personal “vein map” is a one-of-a-kind identifier, setting you apart from everyone else on the planet.

Pondering such complexities of human beings should prompt a sense of worship and wonder for the Creator who made us. David reminded us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and that is certainly worth celebrating. In fact, Psalm 111:2 reminds us, “Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.”

Even more worthy of our attention is the divine Maker Himself. While celebrating God’s great deeds, we also must celebrate Him! His deeds are great, but He’s even greater, prompting the psalmist to pray, “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God” (86:10).

Today, as we consider the greatness of what God does, may we also marvel at the greatness of who He is.

— Bill Crowder

What things instill a sense of awe and wonder in you? How will you make time to praise God for His marvelous works today?

Father, I can easily be sidetracked into thinking too much about creation without truly considering You-the One who made all of creation. Help me to marvel at You.
Read Get Outside: Knowing G 

ODB: Love Like Mom

May 7, 2022 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 2:1–9 

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. 1 Thessalonians 2:7–8

 

Juanita told her nephew about growing up during the Great Depression. Her poor family only had apples to eat, plus whatever wild game her dad might provide. Whenever he bagged a squirrel for dinner, her mom would say, “Give me that squirrel head. That’s all I want to eat. It’s the best piece of meat.” Years later Juanita realized there wasn’t any meat on a squirrel’s head. Her mom didn’t eat it. She only pretended it was a delicacy “so us kids could get more to eat and we wouldn’t worry about her.”

As we celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow, may we also recount stories of our mothers’ devotion. We thank God for them and strive to love more like them.

Paul served the Thessalonian church “as a nursing mother cares for her children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). He loved fiercely, fighting through “strong opposition” to tell them about Jesus and to share his own life with them (vv. 2, 8). He “worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while [he] preached the gospel of God to [them]” (v. 9). Just like Mom.

Few can resist a mother’s love, and Paul modestly said his efforts were “not without results” (v. 1). We can’t control how others respond, but we can choose to show up, day after day, to serve them in a sacrificial way. Mom would be proud, and so will our heavenly Father.

— Mike Wittmer

Who has loved you sacrificially? Who are you loving as your heavenly Father loves you?

Father, no one could love me more than You.