Entries by YMI

ODB: Trusting Our Future to God

November 23, 2022 

READ: Ecclesiastes 10:12–14 

No one knows what is coming. Ecclesiastes 10:14

 

In 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz made the first purchase with bitcoin (a digital currency then worth a fraction of a penny each), paying 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas ($25). In 2021, at its highest value during the year, those bitcoins would have been worth well more than $500 million. Back before the value skyrocketed, he kept paying for pizzas with coins, spending 100,000 bitcoins total. If he’d kept those bitcoins, their value would’ve made him a billionaire sixty-eight times over and placed him on the Forbes’ “richest people in the world” list. If only he’d known what was coming.

Of course, Hanyecz couldn’t possibly have known. None of us could have. Despite our attempts to comprehend and control the future, Ecclesiastes rings true: “No one knows what is coming” (10:14). Some of us delude ourselves into thinking we know more than we do, or worse, that we possess some special insight about another person’s life or future. But as Ecclesiastes pointedly asks: “who can tell someone else what will happen after them?” (v. 14). No one.

Scripture contrasts a wise and a foolish person, and one of the many distinctions between the two is humility about the future (Proverbs 27:1). A wise person recognizes that only God truly knows what’s over the horizon as they make decisions. But foolish people presume knowledge that isn’t theirs. May we have wisdom, trusting our future to the only One who actually knows it.

— Winn Collier

Where do you see temptation to control the future? How can you better trust God with your coming days?

Dear God, help me to simply trust You today.    

ODB: Faith in Action

November 22, 2022 

READ: James 2:14–26 

Faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26

 

A tornado blew through a community on a June evening in 2021, destroying a family’s barn. It was a sad loss because the barn had been on the family property since the late 1800s. As John and Barb drove by on their way to church the next morning, they saw the damage and wondered how they might help. So they stopped and learned that the family needed assistance with cleanup. Turning their car around quickly, they headed back home to change clothes and returned to stay for the day to clean up the mess the violent winds had created. They put their faith into action as they served the family.

James said that “faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). He gives the example of Abraham, who in obedience followed God when he didn’t know where he was going (v. 23; see Genesis 12:1–4; 15:6; Hebrews 11:8). James also mentions Rahab, who showed her belief in the God of Israel when she hid the spies who came to check out the city of Jericho (James 2:25; see Joshua 2; 6:17).

“If someone claims to have faith but has no deeds” (James 2:14), it does them no good. “Faith is the root, good works are the fruits,” comments Matthew Henry, “and we must see to it that we have both.” God doesn’t need our good deeds, but our faith is proven by our actions.

— Anne Cetas

Why do you think it’s important that we do good deeds? What can you do out of your love for God?

May I serve You out of my faith in You and love for You today, dear God.  

ODB: Reading Backwards

November 21, 2022 

READ: John 2:13–22 

After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. John 2:22

 

Reading the last chapter of a mystery novel first may sound like a bad idea to those who love the suspense of a good story. But some people enjoy reading a book more if they know how it ends.

In Reading Backwards, author Richard Hays shows how important the practice is for our understanding of the Bible. By illustrating how the unfolding words and events of Scripture anticipate, echo, and throw light on one another, Professor Hays gives us reason to read our Bibles forward and backward.

Hays reminds readers that it was only after Jesus’ resurrection that His disciples understood His claim to rebuild a destroyed temple in three days. The apostle John tells us, “The temple he had spoken of was his body” (John 2:21). Only then could they understand a meaning of their Passover celebration never before understood (see Matthew 26:17–29). Only in retrospect could they reflect on how Jesus gave fullness of meaning to an ancient king’s deep feelings for the house of God (Psalm 69:9; John 2:16–17). Only by rereading their Scriptures in light of the true temple of God (Jesus Himself) could the disciples grasp how the ritual of Israel’s religion and Messiah would throw light on one another.

And now, only by reading these same Scriptures backward and forward, can we see in Jesus everything that any of us has ever needed or longed for. 

— Mart DeHaan

What difficulties concern you about your future? When reflecting on your life, how are you learning to understand and believe God’s story that's best understood and loved when read with eternity in view?

Father in heaven, thank You for letting me live long enough to see Your ability to show up and reveal the wonder of Your presence in ways I could not have foreseen.  

ODB: The Socratic Club

November 20, 2022 

READ: 1 Peter 3:13–18 

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone . . . for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

 

In 1941, the Socratic Club was established at England’s Oxford University. It was formed to encourage debate between believers in Jesus and atheists or agnostics.

Religious debate at a secular university isn’t unusual, but what is surprising is who chaired the Socratic Club for fifteen years—the great Christian scholar C. S. Lewis. Willing to have his thinking tested, Lewis believed that faith in Christ could stand up to great scrutiny. He knew there was credible, rational evidence for believing in Jesus.

In a sense, Lewis was practicing Peter’s advice to believers scattered by persecution when he reminded them, “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Peter makes two key points: we have good reasons for our hope in Christ and we’re to present our reasoning with “gentleness and respect.”

Trusting Christ isn’t religious escapism or wishful thinking. Our faith is grounded in the facts of history, including the resurrection of Jesus and the evidence of the creation bearing witness to its Creator. As we rest in God’s wisdom and the strength of the Spirit, may we be ready to share the reasons we have for trusting our great God.

— Bill Crowder

How might you share your faith with someone? What evidence for the resurrection of Jesus makes it reasonable, even though it’s clearly miraculous?

Almighty God, thank You for giving me credible evidence to support my faith in You.
For further study, read Why We Believe: Evidences for Christian Faith.  

ODB: God Knows You

November 19, 2022 

READ: Psalm 139:1–12 

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. Psalm 139:1

 

It seems my mother can sense trouble from a mile away. Once, after a rough day at school, I tried to mask my frustration hoping that no one would notice. “What’s the matter?” she asked. Then she added, “Before you tell me it’s nothing, remember I’m your mother. I gave birth to you, and I know you better than you know yourself.” My mom has consistently reminded me that her deep awareness of who I am helps her be there for me in the moments I need her most.

As believers in Jesus, we’re cared for by a God who knows us intimately. The psalmist David praised Him for His attentiveness to the lives of His children saying, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:1–2). Because God knows who we are—our every thought, desire, and action—there’s nowhere we can go where we’re outside the bounds of His abundant love and care (vv. 7–12). As David wrote, “If I settle on the far side of the sea even there your hand will guide me” (vv. 9–10). We can find comfort knowing that no matter where we are in life, when we call out to God in prayer, He’ll offer us the love, wisdom, and guidance we need.

— Kimya Loder

When have you felt like no one else could understand how you were truly feeling? How does the reality of God’s presence help and encourage you during such times?

Loving God, many times I feel misunderstood and alone. Thank You for reminding me of Your presence in my life. I know You see me, hear me, and love me even when it seems like no one else does.  

ODB: Thoughts and Prayers

November 18, 2022 

READ: Acts 12:4–11 

Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. Acts 12:5

 

“You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.” If you hear those words, you might wonder if the person really means it. But you never had to wonder when Edna Davis said them. Everyone in the small, one stoplight town knew of “Ms. Edna’s” yellow legal pad—page after page, lined with name after name. Early each morning the aging woman prayed out loud to God. Not everyone on her list received the answer to prayer they wanted, but several testified at her funeral that something God-sized had happened in their lives, and they credited it to the earnest prayers of Ms. Edna.

God demonstrated the power of prayer in Peter’s prison experience. After the apostle was seized by Herod’s men, thrown into prison, and then “guarded by four squads of four soldiers each” (Acts 12:4), his prospects looked bleak. But “the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (v. 5). They had Peter in their thoughts and prayers. What God did is simply miraculous! An angel appeared to Peter in prison, released him from his chains, and led him to safety beyond the prison gates (vv. 7–10).

It’s possible some may use “thoughts and prayers” without really meaning it. But our Father knows our thoughts, listens to our prayers, and acts on our behalf according to His perfect will. To be prayed for and to pray for others is no small thing when we serve the great and powerful God.

— John Blase

When was the last time you knew someone remembered you and prayed earnestly for you? Who is someone you can pray that way for today?

Jesus, thank You that I can bring every care to You and that You listen.
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