Entries by YMI

ODB: Making Peace with Trouble

September 21, 2020 

READ: John 16:25–33  

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 

We were almost home when I noticed it: the needle of our car’s temperature gauge was rocketing up. As we pulled in, I killed the engine and hopped out. Smoke wafted from the hood. The engine sizzled like bacon. I backed the car up a few feet and found a puddle beneath: oil. Instantly, I knew what had happened: The head gasket had blown.

I groaned. We’d just sunk money into other expensive repairs. Why can’t things just work? I grumbled bitterly. Why can’t things just stop breaking?

Can you relate? Sometimes we avert one crisis, solve one problem, pay off one big bill, only to face another. Sometimes those troubles are much bigger than an engine self-destructing: an unexpected diagnosis, an untimely death, a terrible loss.

In those moments, we yearn for a world less broken, less full of trouble. That world, Jesus promised, is coming. But not yet: “In this world you will have trouble,” He reminded His disciples in John 16. “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33). Jesus spoke in that chapter about grave troubles, such as persecution for your faith. But such trouble, He taught, would never have the last word for those who hope in Him.

Troubles small and large may dog our days. But Jesus’ promise of a better tomorrow with Him encourages us not to let our troubles define our lives today.

— Adam R. Holz

What does it look like for you to surrender your troubles to God? What might you use as a prompt to remind yourself to offer up your anxieties to Him throughout the day?

Father, troubles never seem far away. But when they’re close, You’re even closer. Please help me to cling to You in trust today.  

Even the Worst

Every Christian has a story to tell. Some conversion testimonies are more dramatic and spectacular than others.

ODB: Stopping Rumors

September 20, 2020 

READ: Exodus 23:1–3 

Do not spread false reports. Exodus 23:1

 

After Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was named the minister of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England, he faced years of opposition. As most in the congregation had wanted the associate minister to be appointed rather than Simeon, they spread rumors about him and rejected his ministry—even at times locking him out of the church. But Simeon, who desired to be filled by God’s Spirit, sought to cope with the gossip by creating some principles to live by. One was never to believe rumors unless they were absolutely true and another was “always to believe, that if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.”

In this practice, Simeon followed God’s instructions to His people to cease the gossip and malicious talk He knew would erode their love for each other. One of God’s Ten Commandments reflects His desire for them to live truthfully: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Another instruction in Exodus reinforces this commandment: “Do not spread false reports” (23:1).

Think of how different the world would be if each of us never spread rumors and false reports and if we stopped them the moment we heard them. May we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us speak the truth in love as we use our words to bring glory to God.

— Amy Boucher Pye

What has helped you when you’ve faced opposition? How do you react when you hear gossip?

Jesus, help me to speak Your truth in love. Give me words that bring peace, grace, and encouragement.  

Creation Up Close

When John Lasseter of Pixar Studios was asked about the limitations of working with animation, he said, “The more organic something is . . . the harder it is to recreate with a computer.”

ODB: In Focus

September 19, 2020 

READ: Acts 3:2–8, 16 

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. Acts 3:16

 

Author Mark Twain suggested that whatever we look at in life—and how we see it—can influence our next steps, even our destiny. As Twain said, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Peter too spoke of vision when he replied to a lame beggar, a man whom he and John encountered at the busy temple gate called Beautiful (Acts 3:2). As the man asked them for money, Peter and John looked directly at the man. “Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ ” (v. 4).

Why did he say that? As Christ’s ambassador, Peter likely wanted the beggar to stop looking at his own limitations—yes, even to stop looking at his need for money. As he looked at the apostles, he would see the reality of having faith in God.

As Peter told him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (v. 6). Then Peter “helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk” and give praise (vv. 7–8).

What happened? The man had faith in God (v. 16). As evangelist Charles Spurgeon urged, “Keep your eye simply on Him.” When we do, we don’t see obstacles. We see God, the One who makes our way clear.

— Patricia Raybon

What are you focused on instead of God? With refocused faith, what could you see in Him for your life?

Heavenly Father, when my eyes wander from You, focus my gaze on Your unlimited power.  

Storytellers

Modern skeptics of the New Testament claim that the story of Jesus was a tale invented by His desperate followers—something that snowballed into a legend over a long period of time.

ODB: Fixing Elevators

September 18, 2020 

READ: Leviticus 19:9–18 

Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

 

Sarah has a rare condition that causes her joints to dislocate, making her reliant on an electric wheelchair to get around. On her way to a meeting recently, Sarah rode her wheelchair to the train station but found the elevator broken. Again. With no way of getting to the platform, she was told to take a taxi to another station forty minutes away. The taxi was called but never arrived. Sarah gave up and went home.

Unfortunately, this is a regular occurrence for Sarah. Broken elevators stop her from boarding trains, forgotten ramps leave her unable to get off them. Sometimes Sarah is treated as a nuisance by railway staff for needing assistance. She’s often close to tears.

Out of the many biblical laws governing human relationships, “love your neighbor as yourself” is key (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13:8–10). And while this love stops us from lying, stealing, and abusing others (Leviticus 19:11, 14), it also changes how we work. Employees must be treated fairly (v. 13), and we should all be generous to the poor (vv. 9–10). In Sarah’s case, those who fix elevators and drag out ramps aren’t doing inconsequential tasks but offering important service to others.

If we treat work as just a means to a wage or other personal benefit, we will soon treat others as annoyances. But if we treat our jobs as opportunities to love, then the most everyday task becomes a holy enterprise.

— Sheridan Voysey

Why do you think we can become annoyed at someone needing extra assistance? How can you turn your job into a channel of love today?

Father, a job is never just a job to You but an opportunity to love You and serve others. Help me to see my work as an opportunity to benefit others today.  

Whatever You Do

God’s kingdom includes every aspect of our lives. As we pledge allegiance to King Jesus, our values and perspectives are transformed. Knowing God’s purposes for our lives changes the way we engage with others.

ODB: Don’t Be Deceived

September 17, 2020 

READ: Genesis 3:1–7 

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

 

The spotted lanternfly is a pretty insect with speckled outer wings and a splotch of bright red on its inner wings that flashes when it flies. But its beauty is a bit deceptive. This insect, first seen in the US in 2014, is considered invasive to North America, which means it has the potential to harm the environment and economy. The lanternfly will “eat the innards of practically any woody plant,” which includes cherry and other fruit trees, and leaves a sticky goo that leads to mold—killing trees outright or leaving them with little energy to grow fruit.

In the story of Adam and Eve, we learn of a different kind of menace. The serpent, Satan, deceived the couple into disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit so they would “be like God” (Genesis 3:1–7). But why listen to a serpent? Did his words alone entice Eve, or was there also something attractive about him? Scripture hints at Satan being created beautiful (Ezekiel 28:12). Yet Satan fell by the same temptation he used to entice Eve: “I will make myself like [God]” (Isaiah 14:14; Ezekiel 28:9).

Any beauty Satan now has is used to deceive (Genesis 3:1; John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:14). Just as he fell, he seeks to pull others down—or keep them from growing. But we have someone far more powerful on our side! We can run to Jesus, our beautiful Savior.

— Alyson Kieda

When have you been deceived by a person or group’s seemingly attractive idea? What helps you to recognize deception?

Dear God, help me to weigh what I see and hear by the truths of the gospel. Thank You for triumphing over evil through the cross.