Entries by YMI

ODB: Out of Context

February 14, 2019 

READ: John 20:13–16 

She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. John 20:14

 

As I queued up to board my flight, someone tapped my shoulder. I turned and received a warm greeting. “Elisa! Do you remember me? It’s Joan!” My mind flipped through various “Joans” I’d known, but I couldn’t place her. Was she a previous neighbor? A past coworker? Oh dear . . . I didn’t know.

Sensing my struggle, Joan responded, “Elisa, we knew each other in high school.” A memory rose: Friday night football games, cheering from the stands. Once the context was clarified, I recognized Joan.

After Jesus’s death, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning and found the stone rolled away and His body gone (John 20:1–2). She ran to get Peter and John, who returned with her to find the tomb empty (vv. 3–10). But Mary lingered outside in her grief (v. 11). When Jesus appeared there, “she did not realize that it was Jesus” (v. 14), thinking He was the gardener (v. 15).

How could she have not recognized Jesus? Was His resurrected body so changed that it was difficult to recognize Him? Did her grief blind her to His identity? Or, perhaps, like me, was it because Jesus was “out of context,” alive in the garden instead of dead in the tomb, that she didn’t recognize Him?

How might we too miss Jesus when He comes into our days—during prayer or Bible reading, or by simply whispering in our hearts?

— Elisa Morgan

Dear God, give us eyes to see Jesus, however He comes—in a familiar context or surprising us in an unexpected one.

Expect Jesus in unexpected places.  

ODB: The Battle

February 13, 2019 

READ: Psalm 39:1–7 

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7

 

As artillery rounds fell around him with an earth-shaking whoomp, the young soldier prayed fervently, “Lord, if you get me through this, I’ll go to that Bible school Mom wanted me to attend.” God honored his focused prayer. My dad survived World War II, went to Moody Bible Institute, and invested his life in ministry.

Another warrior endured a different kind of crisis that drove him to God, but his problems arose when he avoided combat. As King David’s troops fought the Ammonites, David was back at his palace casting more than just a glance at another man’s wife (see 2 Samuel 11). In Psalm 39, David chronicles the painful process of restoration from the terrible sin that resulted. “The turmoil within me grew worse,” he wrote. “The more I thought about it, the hotter I got” (vv. 2–3 nlt).

David’s broken spirit caused him to reflect: “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is” (v. 4). Amid his renewed focus, David didn’t despair. He had nowhere else to turn. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (v. 7). David would survive this personal battle and go on to serve God.

What motivates our prayer life doesn’t matter as much as the focus of our prayer. God is our source of hope. He wants us to share our heart with Him. 

— Tim Gustafson

Father, our hope is in You. Forgive us for seeking answers apart from You. Draw us close to You today.

We are in the best place we can imagine when we go to God in prayer.
   

ODB: Seen by God

February 12, 2019 

READ: Genesis 16:7–14 

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

 

My first pair of eyeglasses opened my eyes to a bold world. I’m nearsighted, meaning objects close up are sharp and defined. Without my glasses, however, items across a room or in the distance are a blur. At age twelve, with my first pair of eyeglasses, I was shocked to see clearer words on blackboards, tiny leaves on trees and, perhaps most important, big smiles on faces.

As friends smiled back when I greeted them, I learned that to be seen was as great a gift as the blessing of seeing.

The slave Hagar realized that as she fled from her mistress Sarai’s unkindness. Hagar was a “nobody” in her culture, pregnant and alone, fleeing to a desert without help or hope. Seen by God, however, she was empowered, in return, to see Him. No longer a vague concept, God became real to her, so real that she gave God a name, El Roi, which means “You are the God who sees me.” She said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).

Our seeing God sees each of us too. Feeling unseen, alone, or like a nobody? God sees you and your future. In return, may we see in Him our ever-present hope, encouragement, salvation, and joy—both for today and for our future. Praise Him today for this gift of amazing sight, to see the one true and Living God.

— Patricia Raybon

Lord, I’m just one person in a big world, but I thank You for looking from on high and seeing me—so that I may see You.

God knows my name and sees me.  

ODB: Giving Credit

February 11, 2019 

READ: Jeremiah 9:23–26 

Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:31

 

In the early 1960s, some unusual paintings featuring a person or animal with huge, sad eyes became popular. Some considered the work “kitschy”—or tacky—but others delighted in it. As the artist’s husband began to promote his wife’s creations, the couple grew quite prosperous. But the artist’s signature—Margaret Keane—didn’t appear on her work. Instead, Margaret’s husband presented his wife’s work as his own. Margaret fearfully remained silent about the fraud for twenty years until the couple’s marriage ended. It took a courtroom “paint-off” between them to prove the true artist’s identity.

The man’s deception was clearly wrong, but even as followers of Jesus, we may find it easy to take credit for talents we possess, leadership skills we display, or even for our kind deeds to others. But those qualities are possible only because of God’s grace. In Jeremiah 9, we find the prophet lamenting the lack of humility and the unrepentant hearts of the people. He wrote that the Lord says we shouldn’t boast of our wisdom, our strength, or our riches, but only that we might understand and know that He is the Lord “who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth” (v. 24).

Our hearts fill with gratitude as we realize the identity of the true Artist. “Every good and perfect gift is . . . from the Father” (James 1:17). All of the credit, all of the praise belongs to the Giver of good gifts.

— Cindy Hess Kasper

Dear Father, thank You for all the good gifts You so graciously give.

We were created to give God glory.