Entries by YMI

ODB: Lost, Found, Joy

January 23, 2023 

READ: Luke 15:1–10 

Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:6

 

“They call me ‘the ringmaster.’ So far this year I’ve found 167 lost rings.”

During a walk on the beach with my wife, Cari, we struck up a conversation with an older man who was using a metal detector to scan an area just below the surf line. “Sometimes rings have names on them,” he explained, “and I love seeing their owners’ faces when I return them. I post online and check to see if anyone contacted lost and found. I’ve found rings missing for years.” When we mentioned that I enjoy metal detecting as well but didn’t do it frequently, his parting words were, “You never know unless you go!”           

We find another kind of “search and rescue” in Luke 15. Jesus was criticized for caring about people who were far from God (vv. 1–2). In reply, He told three stories about things that were lost and then found—a sheep, a coin, and a son. The man who finds the lost sheep “joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me’ ” (vv. 5–6). All the stories are ultimately about finding lost people for Christ, and the joy that comes as they’re found in Him.

Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (19:10), and He calls us to follow Him in loving people back to God (see Matthew 28:19). The joy of seeing others turn to Him awaits. We’ll never know unless we go.

— James Banks

What joy have you seen when people turn to God? How will you point others to Jesus’ love today?

Thank You, Jesus, for finding and loving me! Please send me in Your joy to another who needs You today.  

ODB: Reaching Out

January 22, 2023 

READ: Psalm 18:16–19 

He reached down from on high and took hold of me. Psalm 18:16

 

In a recent post, blogger Bonnie Gray recounted the moment when overwhelming sadness began to creep into her heart. “Out of the blue,” she stated, “during the happiest chapter in my life, . . . I suddenly started experiencing panic attacks and depression.” Gray tried to find different ways to address her pain, but she soon realized that she wasn’t strong enough to handle it alone. “I hadn’t wanted anyone to question my faith, so I kept quiet and prayed that my depression would go away. But God wants to heal us, not shame us or make us hide from our pain.” Gray found healing in the solace of His presence; He was her anchor amid the waves that threatened to overwhelm her.

When we’re in a low place and filled with despair, God is there and will sustain us too. In Psalm 18, David praised God for delivering him from the low place he was in after nearly being defeated by his enemies. He proclaimed, “[God] reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters” (v. 16). Even in moments when despair seems to consume us like crashing waves in an ocean, God loves us so much that He’ll reach out to us and help us, bringing us into a “spacious place” of peace and security (v. 19). Let’s look to Him as our refuge when we feel overwhelmed by the challenges of life. 

— Kimya Loder

When have you felt overwhelmed by trials? How did God sustain you?

Heavenly Father, there are times when my burdens become too much to carry. Thank You for continuously reaching out to me, sustaining me, and granting me Your peace, strength, and wisdom.
For further study,

ODB: Coffee Breath

January 21, 2023 

READ: Ephesians 4:1–5, 25–31 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

 

I was sitting in my chair one morning years ago when my youngest came downstairs. She made a beeline for me, jumping up onto my lap. I gave her a fatherly squeeze and a gentle kiss on the head, and she squealed with delight. But then she furrowed her brow, crinkled her nose, and shot an accusatory glance at my coffee mug. “Daddy,” she announced solemnly. “I love you, and I like you, but I don’t like your smell.”

My daughter couldn’t have known it, but she spoke with grace and truth: she didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but she felt compelled to tell me something. And sometimes we need to do that in our relationships.  

In Ephesians 4, Paul zeroes in on how we relate to each other—especially when telling difficult truths. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (v. 2). Humility, gentleness, and patience form our relational foundation. Cultivating those character qualities as God guides us will help us “[speak] the truth in love” (v. 15) and seek to communicate “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (v. 29).

No one likes being confronted about weaknesses and blind spots. But when something about us “smells,” God can use faithful friends to speak into our lives with grace, truth, humility, and gentleness.

— Adam Holz

When has someone gently confronted you? What do you think is most important when you lovingly address a weakness you see in others?

Father, help me to humbly receive correction, and help me to offer it with love, grace, and gentleness.  

ODB: Love like Blazing Fire

January 20, 2023 

READ: Song of Songs 8:5–7 

[Love] burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Song of Songs 8:6

 

Poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake enjoyed a forty-five-year marriage with his wife, Catherine. From their wedding day until his death in 1827, they worked side by side. Catherine added color to William’s sketches, and their devotion endured years of poverty and other challenges. Even in his final weeks as his health failed, Blake kept at his art, and his final sketch was his wife’s face. Four years later, Catherine died clutching one of her husband’s pencils in her hand.

The Blakes’ vibrant love offers a reflection of the love discovered in the Song of Songs. And while the Song’s description of love certainly has implications for marriage, early believers in Jesus believed it also points to Jesus’ unquenchable love for all His followers. The Song describes a love “as strong as death,” which is a remarkable metaphor since death is as final and unescapable a reality as humans will ever know (8:6). This strong love “burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (v. 6). And unlike fires we’re familiar with, these flames can’t be doused, not even by a deluge. “Many waters cannot quench love,” the Song insists (v. 7).

Who among us doesn’t desire true love? The Song reminds us that whenever we encounter genuine love, God is the ultimate source. And in Jesus, each of us can know a profound and undying love—one that burns like a blazing fire.

— Winn Collier

Where have you encountered strong love? How does Jesus’ love encourage you?

Dear God, please help me to receive Your love and share it with others.
For further study, read How God Loves Us.  

Throne of God

When considering the amazing book of Revelation, I sometimes shudder as I contemplate the trials and tribulations the apostle John forewarns will occur prior to Jesus’ return. Recently, however, I joined thousands of men and women around the world for an in-depth, yearlong study of Revelation.

ODB: But I’m Telling You

January 19, 2023 

READ: Matthew 5:43–48 

But I tell you, love your enemies. Matthew 5:44

 

“I know what they’re saying. But I’m telling you . . .” As a boy, I heard my mother give that speech a thousand times. The context was always peer pressure. She was trying to teach me not to follow the herd. I’m not a boy any longer, but herd mentality’s still alive and kicking. A current example is this phrase: “Only surround yourself with positive people.” Now while that phrase may be commonly heard, the question we must ask is: “Is that Christlike?”    

“But I’m telling you . . .” Jesus uses that lead-in a number of times in Matthew 5. He knows full well what the world is constantly telling us. But His desire is that we live differently. In this case, He says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (v. 44). Later in the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses that very word to describe guess who? That’s right: us—“while we were God’s enemies” (Romans 5:10). Far from some “do as I say, not as I do,” Jesus backed up His words with actions. He loved us, and gave His life for us.

What if Christ had only made room in His life for “positive people”? Where would that leave us? Thanks be to God that His love is no respecter of persons. For God so loved the world, and in His strength we are called to do likewise. 

— John Blase

When’s the last time someone extended love to you when you weren’t “positive”? What’s a tangible way today that you can show love to an enemy?

Father, it’s tempting to surround myself with only those who love me. But that’s not living, at least not the kind of living You desire for me. Help me to love even my enemies.