Entries by YMI

ODB: Humility’s Perk

February 15, 2024 

READ: Proverbs 22:1–5  

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4

 

Like many teachers, Carrie devotes countless hours to her career, often grading papers and communicating with students and parents late into the evening. To sustain the effort, she relies on her community of colleagues for camaraderie and practical help; her challenging job is made easier through collaboration. A recent study of educators found that the benefit of collaboration is magnified when those we work with demonstrate humility. When colleagues are willing to admit their weaknesses, others feel safe to share their knowledge with one another, effectively helping everyone in the group.

The Bible teaches the importance of humility—for much more than enhanced collaboration. “Fear[ing] the Lord”—having a right understanding of who we are in comparison with the beauty, power, and majesty of God—results in “riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). Humility leads us to living in community in a way that’s fruitful in God’s economy, not just the world’s, because we seek to benefit our fellow image bearers.

We don’t fear God as a way to gain “riches and honor and life” for ourselves—that wouldn’t be true humility at all. Instead, we imitate Jesus, who “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:7) so we can become part of a body that humbly cooperates together to do His work, give Him honor, and take a message of life to the world around us.

— 洪可婷

What does humility mean to you? How have you seen someone’s humility benefit others?

Dear Jesus, I surrender my pride to You.  

ODB: Motivated by Love

February 14, 2024 

READ: 1 Corinthians 13 

If I . . . do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3

 

Jim and Laneeda were college sweethearts. They got married and life was happy for many years. Then Laneeda began to act strangely, getting lost and forgetting appointments. She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at forty-seven. After a decade of serving as her primary caregiver, Jim was able to say, “Alzheimer’s has given me the opportunity to love and serve my wife in ways that were unimaginable when I said, ‘I do.’ ”

While explaining the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote extensively on the virtue of love (1 Corinthians 13). He contrasted rote acts of service with those overflowing from a loving heart. Powerful speaking is good, Paul wrote, but without love it’s like meaningless noise (v. 1). “If I . . . give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (v. 3). Paul ultimately said, “the greatest [gift] is love” (v. 13).

Jim’s understanding of love and service deepened as he cared for his wife. Only a deep and abiding love could give him the strength to support her every day. Ultimately, the only place we see this sacrificial love modeled perfectly is in God’s love for us, which caused Him to send Jesus to die for our sins (John 3:16). That act of sacrifice, motivated by love, has changed our world forever.

— Karen Pimpo

How have you tried to serve others without love? How can a love for God and others inspire your actions today?

Loving God, thank You for loving me. May my actions flow out of a loving heart today.  

ODB: Jesus’ Blood

February 13, 2024 

READ: Isaiah 1:15–20 

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18

 

The color red doesn’t always naturally occur in the things we make. How do you put the vibrant color of an apple into a T-shirt or lipstick? In early times, the red pigment was made from clay or red rocks. In the 1400s, the Aztecs invented a way of using cochineal insects to make red dye. Today, those same tiny insects supply the world with red.

In the Bible, red denotes royalty, and it also signifies sin and shame. Further, it’s the color of blood. When soldiers “stripped [Jesus] and put a scarlet robe on him” (Matthew 27:28), these three symbolisms merged into one heartbreaking image of red: Jesus was ridiculed as would-be royalty, He was cloaked in shame, and He was robed in the color of the blood He would soon shed. But Isaiah’s words foretell the promise of this crimsoned Jesus to deliver us from the red that stains us: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (1:18).

One other thing about those cochineal insects used for red dye—they are actually milky white on the outside. Only when they are crushed do they release their red blood. That little fact echoes for us other words from Isaiah: “[Jesus] was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus, who knew no sin, is here to save us who are red with sin. You see, in His crushing death, Jesus endured a whole lot of red so you could be white as snow.

— Kenneth Petersen

How do “sins . . . like scarlet” stain your life? How might Jesus restore you and make you clean again?

Dear God, thank You for Your Son, Jesus, and the saving grace of His shed blood.

Learn more about having a personal relationship with God.  

ODB: Loving Our Enemies

February 12, 2024 

READ: Matthew 5:43–48 

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

 

With the American Civil War spawning many bitter feelings, Abraham Lincoln saw fit to speak a kind word about the South. A shocked bystander asked how he could do so. He replied, “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Reflecting on those words a century later, Martin Luther King Jr. commented, “This is the power of redemptive love.”

In calling disciples of Christ to love their enemies, King looked to the teachings of Jesus. He noted that although believers might struggle to love those who persecute them, this love grows out of “a consistent and total surrender to God.” “When we love in this way,” King continued, “we’ll know God and experience the beauty of His holiness.” 

King referenced Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which He said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44–45). Jesus counseled against the conventional wisdom of the day of loving only one’s neighbors and hating one’s enemies. Instead, God the Father gives His children the strength to love those who oppose them.

It may feel impossible to love our enemies, but as we look to God for help, He’ll answer our prayers. He gives the courage to embrace this radical practice, for as Jesus said, “with God all things are possible” (19:26).

— Amy Boucher Pye

Who is your enemy? If you feel conflicted about loving those who oppose you, how could you submit those feelings to God?

Loving God, You’ve made me-as well as those who hurt me-in Your image. Help me to see them as You do.  

ODB: I’ve Seen God’s Faithfulness

February 11, 2024 

READ: 2 Samuel 22:1–4, 48–51 

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. 2 Samuel 22:50

 

Throughout her historic seventy years as Britain’s ruler, Queen Elizabeth II only endorsed one biography about her life with a personal foreword, The Servant Queen and the King She Serves. Released in celebration of her ninetieth birthday, the book recounts how her faith guided her as she served her country. In the foreword, Queen Elizabeth expressed gratitude for everyone who’d prayed for her, and she thanked God for His steadfast love. She concluded, “I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”

Queen Elizabeth’s simple statement echoes the testimonies of men and women throughout history who’ve experienced the personal, faithful care of God in their lives. It’s this theme underlying a beautiful song King David wrote as he reflected on his life. Recorded in 2 Samuel 22, the song speaks of God’s faithfulness in protecting David, providing for him, and even rescuing him when his very life was in danger (vv. 3–4, 44). In response to his experience of God’s faithfulness, David wrote, “I will sing the praises of your name” (v. 50).

While there’s added beauty when God’s faithfulness is seen over a long lifetime, we don’t have to wait to recount His care in our lives. When we recognize that it’s not our own abilities that carry us through life but the faithful care of a loving Father, we’re moved to gratitude and praise.

— Lisa M. Samra

How have you seen God’s faithfulness? How might you express your gratitude to Him?

Heavenly Father, I’m so grateful that in every season of life-sorrow or joy-I’ve seen Your faithfulness.