Entries by YMI

ODB: Beat Again

June 26, 2020 

READ: Judges 5:19–21 

March on, my soul; be strong! Judges 5:21

 

In 2012, Phillips, Craig and Dean released their song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again.” It was inspired by the true story of a heart surgeon. After removing a patient’s heart to repair it, the surgeon returned it to the chest and began gently massaging it back to life. But the heart wouldn’t restart. More intense measures followed, but the heart still wouldn’t beat. Finally, the surgeon knelt next to the unconscious patient and spoke to her: “Miss Johnson,” he said, “this is your surgeon. The operation went perfectly. Your heart has been repaired. Now tell your heart to beat again.” Her heart began to beat.

The idea that we could tell our physical heart to do something might seem strange, but it has spiritual parallels. “Why, my soul, are you downcast?” the psalmist says to himself. “Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:5). “Return to your rest, my soul,” says another, “for the Lord has been good to you” (116:7). After beating Israel’s enemies in war, Deborah, a judge, revealed that she too had spoken to her heart during battle. “March on, my soul,” she told it, “be strong!” (Judges 5:21), because the Lord had promised victory (4:6–7).

Our capable Surgeon has mended our heart (Psalm 103:3). So when fear, depression, or condemnation come, perhaps we too should address our souls and say: March on! Be strong! Feeble heart, beat again.

— Sheridan Voysey

What was your first response to the surgeon’s words to the patient? What words from Scripture do you need to speak to your soul today?

Master Physician, thank You for being with me in every trial and battle. Because of Your promised presence, I will direct my soul to act bravely.  

4 Lies to Combat When You Feel Lonely

Loneliness can drag on over days and weeks, and easily lead to discouragement and dejection. During this time, the lies we’re tempted to believe about our loneliness can be especially crippling, oftentimes preventing us from reaching out and forming the connections we so deeply desire.

Here are some lies we can watch out for:

ODB: Deep-Rooted Faith

June 25, 2020 

READ: Matthew 13:18–23 

The seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. Matthew 13:23

 

The Holy Oak stood next to Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in New Jersey for more than six hundred years until it had to be removed. At its prime, the twisting branches spanned high and wide. Cool breezes rustled its green leaves and acorns. The sun peeked through wind-blown gaps, creating dancing glimmers of light in the shade below its canopy. But beneath the ground’s surface lay its true magnificence—its root system. An oak’s main root grows vertically, securing a reliable supply of nourishment. From that taproot, a mass of roots spreads horizontally to supply the tree with a lifetime of moisture and nutrients. This intricate root system often grows more massive than the tree it supports and serves as a lifeline and an anchor for stabilizing the trunk.

Like the mighty oak, most of our life-giving growth occurs beneath the surface. When Jesus explained the parable of the sower to His disciples, He emphasized the importance of being firmly planted in a personal relationship with the Father. As we grow in the knowledge of God as revealed through the Scriptures, our faith roots are sustained by His Spirit. God helps His followers thrive through ever-changing circumstances, trials, persecution, and worry (Matthew 13:18–23).

Our loving Father nourishes our hearts with His Word. As His Spirit transforms our character, He makes sure the fruit of our deep-rooted faith becomes evident to people around us.

— Xochitl Dixon

What can you do this week to ensure your heart will be good soil nourished by God’s Word? What fruit of deep-rooted faith have you seen become evident in your life over the last year?

Loving Father, please change me from the inside out and anchor me in faith rooted deep in the unchanging Scriptures.  

ODB: Debt Eraser

June 24, 2020 

READ: Revelation 1:4–7 

[Jesus Christ] loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. Revelation 1:5

 

Stunned is just one word that describes the response of the crowd at the 2019 graduation ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. The commencement speaker announced that he and his family would be donating millions of dollars to erase the student debt of the entire graduating class. One student—with $100,000 in loans—was among the overwhelmed graduates who expressed their joys with tears and shouts.

Most of us have experienced indebtedness in some form—having to pay for homes, vehicles, education, medical expenses, or other things. But we’ve also known the amazing relief of a bill being stamped “PAID”!

After declaring Jesus as “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth,” John worshipfully acknowledged His debt-erasing work: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). This statement is simple but its meaning is profound. Better than the surprise announcement the Morehouse graduating class heard is the good news that the death of Jesus (the shedding of His blood on the cross) frees us from the penalty that our sinful attitudes, desires, and deeds deserve. Because that debt has been satisfied, those who believe in Jesus are forgiven and become a part of God’s kingdom family (v. 6). This good news is the best news of all!

— Arthur Jackson

If you haven’t received forgiveness through faith in Christ, what’s keeping you from accepting His free gift? When was the last time you worshiped and thanked God for the forgiveness and new life He’s provided?

Jesus, thank You for Your death that erased my debt; I’m eternally grateful!  

ODB: Underestimating Ourselves

June 23, 2020 

READ: 1 Samuel 15:10–18 

Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.” 1 Samuel 15:17

 

The young man became his team’s captain. The professional sports squad was now led by a mild-mannered kid who barely needed to shave. His first press conference was underwhelming. He kept deferring to the coach and to his teammates, and mumbled clichés about just trying to do his job. The team performed poorly that season, and by the end of it the young captain had been traded. He didn’t grasp that he’d been entrusted with the authority to lead, or maybe he never believed he could.

Due to his failures, Saul was “small in [his] own eyes” (1 Samuel 15:17)—which is a funny thing to say about a guy who’s described as being tall. He was literally head and shoulders above the rest (9:2). And yet that wasn’t how he saw himself. In fact, his actions in the chapter show him trying to win the approval of the people. He hadn’t fully grasped that God—not people—had chosen him and given him a mission.

But Saul’s mistake is a picture of every human being’s failure: we can miss that we were made in God’s image to reflect His rule, and end up misusing our authority—spreading destruction in the world. To undo this, we need to return to God: to let the Father define us by His love, to let Him fill us with the Spirit, and to let Jesus send us out into the world.

— Glenn Packiam

What assignment has God given you that you don’t think you have the power to do? Why is it vital to have your identity based in what God says is true?

Dear Father, give me eyes to see myself as You see me, and grant me the grace to faithfully carry out the calling You’ve entrusted to me.  

ODB: Eternal Eyes

June 22, 2020 

READ: 2 Corinthians 4:7–18 

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

Eternal eyes, that’s what my friend Madeline prays her children and grandchildren would have. Her family has gone through a tumultuous season that ended with the death of her daughter. As the family grieves from this horrific loss, Madeline longs for them to be less and less nearsighted—consumed by the pain of this world. And to be more and more farsighted—filled with hope in our loving God.

The apostle Paul and his co-workers experienced great suffering at the hands of persecutors and even from believers who tried to discredit them. Yet, they had their eyes fixed on eternity. Paul boldly acknowledged that “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Although they were doing God’s work, they lived with the reality of being “hard pressed on every side,” “perplexed,” “persecuted,” and “struck down” (vv. 8–9). Shouldn’t God have delivered them from these troubles? But instead of being disappointed, Paul built his hope on the “eternal glory” that supersedes momentary troubles (v. 17). He knew God’s power was at work in him and had complete assurance that “the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus” (v. 14).

When our world around us feels shaky, may we turn our eyes to God—the eternal Rock that will never be destroyed.

— Estera Pirosca Escobar

In what do you choose to hope in spite of your difficulties? How have you experienced God’s faithfulness?

I lift my eyes to You today, O God. Give me a glimpse of the security I have in You.  

ODB: The Man in Seat 2D

June 21, 2020 

READ: 1 Timothy 6:17–19 

Be rich in good deeds, and [be] generous and willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:18

 

Kelsey navigated the narrow airplane aisle with her eleven-month-old daughter, Lucy, and Lucy’s oxygen machine. They were traveling to seek treatment for her baby’s chronic lung disease. Shortly after settling into their shared seat, a flight attendant approached Kelsey, saying a passenger in first class wanted to switch seats with her. With tears of gratitude streaming down her face, Kelsey made her way back up the aisle to the more spacious seat, while the benevolent stranger made his way toward hers.

Kelsey’s benefactor embodied the kind of generosity Paul encourages in his letter to Timothy. Paul told Timothy to instruct those in his care with the command to “do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18). It’s tempting, Paul says, to become arrogant and put our hope in the riches of this world. Instead, he suggests that we focus on living a life of generosity and service to others, becoming “rich” in good deeds, like the man from seat 2D on Kelsey’s flight.

Whether we find ourselves with plenty or in want, we all can experience the richness of living generously by being willing to share what we have with others. When we do, Paul says we will “take hold of the life that is truly life” (v. 19).

— Kirsten Holmberg

Who has been “generous and willing to share” with you? With whom can you share generously today?

God, please give me a generous spirit as I renew my hope in You.
Read about learning to love like Jesus at discoveryseries.org/q0208.  

Father’s Day Coupons: Now DADs Clever

Title: Father’s Day coupons: Now DADs clever Artwork by: YMI X Jordan (@lineideas) Description: Ah, dads. For most of us, they’re the ones who have loved us since we were young, played with us, taught us how to navigate life, and have prayed with us and for us. Along the years, they’ve also honed their own sense of […]

ODB: Is God There?

June 20, 2020 

READ: Isaiah 8:16–18 

I will wait for the Lord . . . . I will put my trust in him. Isaiah 8:17

 

Lela was dying of cancer, and her husband, Timothy, couldn’t understand why a loving God would let his wife suffer. She had served Him faithfully as a Bible teacher and mentor to many. “Why did You let this happen?” he cried. Yet Timothy continued to be faithful in his walk with God.

“So why do you still believe in God?” I asked him frankly. “What keeps you from turning away from Him?”

“Because of what has happened before,” Timothy replied. While he couldn’t “see” God now, he recalled the times when God had helped and protected him. These were signs that God was still there caring for his family. “I know the God I believe in will come through in His own way,” he said.

Timothy’s words echo Isaiah’s expression of trust in Isaiah 8:17. Even when he couldn’t feel God’s presence as his people braced for trouble from their enemies, he would “wait for the Lord.” He trusted in God because of the signs He’d given of His continuing presence (v. 18).

There are times when we might feel as if God isn’t with us in our troubles. That’s when we depend on what we can see of His works in our lives, in the past and present. They’re the visible reminder of an invisible God—a God who is always with us and will answer in His own time and way.

— Leslie Koh

What signs can you see of God working in your life? How can they remind you that you can still look to Him for hope and comfort?

Father, thank You for always being there for me. Give me the strength to trust in You even when I don’t understand what’s going on.