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ODB: The Voice of Faith

February 19, 2016 

READ: Habakkuk 3:16-19 

Though the fig tree does not bud . . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

 

The news was numbing. The tears came so quickly that she couldn’t fight them. Her mind raced with questions, and fear threatened to overwhelm her. Life had been going along so well, when it was abruptly interrupted and forever changed without warning.

Tragedy can come in many forms—the loss of a loved one, an illness, the loss of wealth or our livelihood. And it can happen to anyone at any time.

Although the prophet Habakkuk knew that tragedy was coming, it still struck fear in his heart. As he waited for the day when Babylon would invade the kingdom of Judah, his heart pounded, his lips quivered, and his legs trembled (Hab. 3:16).

Fear is a legitimate emotion in the face of tragedy, but it doesn’t have to immobilize us. When we don’t understand the trials we are going through, we can recount how God has worked in history (vv. 3-15). That’s what Habakkuk did. It didn’t dispel his fear, but it gave him the courage to move on by choosing to praise the Lord (v. 18).

Our God who has proven Himself faithful throughout the years is always with us. Because His character doesn’t change, in our fear we can say with a confident voice of faith, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength!” (v. 19).

— Poh Fang Chia

Dear Lord, when my world is turned upside down, help me to trust You. You have always been faithful to me.


We can learn the lesson of trust in the school of trial.  

ODB: The Factory of Sadness

February 7, 2016 

READ: John 16:28-33 

[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Revelation 21:4

 

As a lifelong Cleveland Browns football fan, I grew up knowing my share of disappointment. Despite being one of only four teams to have never appeared in a Super Bowl championship game, the Browns have a loyal fan base that sticks with the team year in and year out. But because the fans usually end up disappointed, many of them now refer to the home stadium as the “Factory of Sadness.”

The broken world we live in can be a “factory of sadness” too. There seems to be an endless supply of heartache and disappointment, whether from our own choices or things beyond our control.

Yet the follower of Christ has hope—not only in the life to come but for this very day. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Notice that without minimizing the struggles or sadness we may experience, Christ counters them with His promises of peace, joy, and ultimate victory.

Great peace is available in Christ, and it’s more than enough to help us navigate whatever life throws at us.

— Bill Crowder

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Horatio G. Spafford


Our hope and peace are found in Jesus.  

ODB: The Mention of His Name

January 30, 2016 

READ: John 16:17-24 

I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

John 16:22

 

When the soloist began to sing during our Sunday service, the congregation gave him full, hushed attention. His mellow bass-baritone voice brought them the soul-touching words of an old song by Gordon Jensen. The song’s title expresses a truth that grows more precious the older we become: “He’s as Close as the Mention of His Name.”

We’ve all experienced times of separation from our loved ones. A child marries and moves far away. Parents are separated from us because of career or health. A child goes off to school in another state or country. True, we have texting and Skype. But we are here and they are there. And then there is the separation of death.

But as believers in Christ, we have His promise that we are never alone. Though we may feel alone, He hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s right here, right now, always and forever. When He left this earth, He told His followers, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). He also promised us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

The silent plea, the whispered mention of His name, even the very thought of Him brings us solace and reassurance. “He’s as close as the mention of His name.”

— David Egner

Jesus, thank You that You are near. I need You.


Jesus never abandons or forgets His own.  

ODB: What Is It?

January 27, 2016 

READ: Exodus 16:11-31 

When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?”

Exodus 16:15

 

My mother taught Sunday school for decades. One week she wanted to explain how God supplied food for the Israelites in the wilderness. To make the story come alive, she created something to represent “manna” for the kids in her class. She cut bread into small pieces and topped them with honey. Her recipe was inspired by the Bible’s description of manna that says it “tasted like wafers made with honey” (Ex. 16:31).

When the Israelites first encountered God’s bread from heaven, it appeared on the ground outside their tents like frost. “When [they] saw it, they said to each other, ‘What is it?’ ” (v. 15). The Hebrew word man means “what,” so they called it manna. They discovered they could grind it and form it into loaves or cook it in a pot (Num. 11:7-8). Whatever it was, it had a baffling arrival (Ex. 16:4,14), a unique consistency (v. 14), and a short expiration date (vv. 19-20).

Sometimes God provides for us in surprising ways. This reminds us that He is not bound by our expectations, and we can’t predict what He will choose to do. While we wait, focusing on who He is rather than what we think He should do will help us find joy and satisfaction in our relationship with Him.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear God, please help me to freely accept Your provision and the way You choose to deliver it. Thank You for caring for me and meeting my needs. 


Those who let God provide will always be satisfied.