Entries by YMI

ODB: Loving the Stranger

November 18, 2019 

READ: Exodus 23:1–9 

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Exodus 22:21

 

After a member of my family converted to a different religion, Christian friends urged me to “convince” her to return to Jesus. I found myself first seeking to love my family member as Christ would—including in public places where some people frowned at her “foreign-looking” clothes. Others even made rude comments. “Go home!” one man yelled at her from his truck, not knowing or apparently caring that she already is “home.”

Moses taught a much kinder way to act toward people whose dress or beliefs feel different. Teaching laws of justice and mercy, Moses instructed the children of Israel, “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). The edict expresses God’s concern for all strangers, people vulnerable to bias and abuse, and it is repeated in Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33.

Therefore, when I spend time with my family member—at a restaurant, in a park, taking a walk together or sitting and talking with her on my front porch—I seek first to show her the same kindness and respect that I would want to experience. It’s one of the best ways to remind her of the sweet love of Jesus, not by shaming her for rejecting Him, but by loving her as He loves all of us—with amazing grace.

— Patricia Raybon

What attitudes do you hold about people who appear “different” or “foreign”? In what ways can you practice God’s edict to not mistreat a “stranger” or “sojourner” in your land?

Gracious Father, open my heart today to a stranger or foreigner in my land, helping them to encounter You.  

ODB: Easily Entangled

November 17, 2019 

READ: Hebrews 2:17–18; 12:1–2 

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1

 

Soldiers fighting in a sweltering jungle many years ago encountered a frustrating problem. Without warning, a pervasive prickly vine would attach itself to the soldiers’ bodies and gear, causing them to be trapped. As they struggled to get free, even more of the plant’s tentacles entangled them. The soldiers dubbed the weed the “wait-a-minute” vine because, once entwined and unable to move forward, they were forced to shout out to other members of their team, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m stuck!”

In a similar way, it’s hard for followers of Jesus to move forward when we’re ensnared by sin. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and “run with perseverance.” But how do we throw off the sin weighing us down?

Jesus is the only one who can free us from pervasive sin in our lives. May we learn to fix our eyes on Him, our Savior (12:2). Because the Son of God became “fully human in every way,” He knows what it’s like to be tempted—yet not sin (2:17–18; 4:15). Alone, we may be desperately entwined by our own sin, but God wants us to overcome temptation. It’s not through our own strength, but His, that we can “throw off” entangling sin and run after His righteousness (1 Corinthians 10:13).

— Cindy Hess Kasper

What sin or sins have a strong hold on you? What can you do to gain freedom from the struggle you’re experiencing?

Jesus, give me Your strength to overcome the sin in my life. Help me to trust in Your power rather than my own and lead me in the right path.  

ODB: Dad, Where Are You?

November 16, 2019 

READ: Deuteronomy 31:1–8  

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

 

“Dad! Where are you?”

I was pulling into our driveway when my daughter, panicking, called me on my cell phone. I’d needed to be home by 6:00 to get her to play practice; I was on time. My daughter’s voice, however, betrayed her lack of trust. Reflexively, I responded: “I’m here. Why don’t you trust me?”

But as I spoke those words, I wondered, How often could my heavenly Father ask that of me? In stressful moments, I too am impatient. I too struggle to trust, to believe God will keep His promises. So I cry out: “Father, where are you?”

Amid stress and uncertainty, I sometimes doubt God’s presence, or even His goodness and purposes for me. The Israelites did too. In Deuteronomy 31, they were preparing to enter the Promised Land, knowing their leader, Moses, would stay behind. Moses sought to reassure God’s people by reminding them, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (v. 8).

That promise—that God is always with us—remains a cornerstone of our faith today (see Matthew 1:23; Hebrews 13:5). Indeed, Revelation 21:3 culminates with these words: “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.”  

Where is God? He’s right here, right now, right with us—always ready to hear our prayers.

— Adam Holz

What Scripture brings to mind the truth of God’s presence? Place it somewhere easily visible to remind you.

Father, help us to see how much You love us!  

5 People You Need to Be Friends With

Church is dismissed and the rustling starts. Do you quietly sneak out the back doors of the sanctuary? Or do you stick around, finding ways to soak up the richness of the diversity of the body of Christ?