ODB: Standing On The Edge

December 31, 2014 

READ: Joshua 3:9-17 

[The Israelites] set out . . . to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before [them]. —Joshua 3:14 

My little girl stood apprehensively at the pool’s edge. As a nonswimmer, she was just learning to become comfortable in the water. Her instructor waited in the pool with outstretched arms. As my daughter hesitated, I saw the questions in her eyes: Will you catch me? What will happen if my head goes under?

The Israelites may have wondered what would happen when they crossed the Jordan River. Could they trust God to make dry ground appear in the riverbed? Was God guiding their new leader, Joshua, as He had led Moses? Would God help His people defeat the threatening Canaanites who lived just across the river?

To learn the answers to these questions, the Israelites had to engage in a test of faith—they had to act. So they “set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before [them]” (v.14). Exercising their faith allowed them to see that God was with them. He was still directing Joshua, and He would help them settle in Canaan (vv.7,10,17).

If you are facing a test of faith, you too can move forward based on God’s character and His unfailing promises. Relying on Him will help you move from where you are to where He wants you to be.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Lord, we’re prone to quickly forget Your goodness
and care for us. May we trust You today and
into the new year—whatever uncertainties we
face. You are the God who can be trusted.

Fear fades when we trust our Father. 

ODB: Better Than Before

December 6, 2014 

READ: 2 Kings 5:1-15 

[Naaman’s] flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child. —2 Kings 5:14 

As infants, my children had nearly perfect skin. Their flesh was soft—they had no dry elbows or rough patches on their feet. Smooth and new, it contrasted with mine, which was marked by years of various scars and callouses.

As a mighty warrior and the commander of the Syrian army, Naaman may have had scuffed skin and battle scars, but he also had a serious skin disease—leprosy. When a servant suggested that the prophet Elisha could heal him, Naaman visited him. He followed Elisha’s instructions, and his diseased flesh became “like the flesh of a little child” (2 Kings 5:14). This cure left Naaman better off both physically and spiritually. After being healed, he proclaimed, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel” (v.15). Through this miraculous experience, he learned that there is only one true God (1 Cor. 8:6).

Like Naaman, we can learn important lessons about God as a result of our life experiences. Receiving a blessing may show us about His mercy and goodness (Matt. 7:11). Surviving or enduring a trial may help us see God’s sufficiency and care. Growing in knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18) will always leave us better off spiritually than we were before.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Father, help me to learn more about You
as I travel through this world. Let this
knowledge inspire fresh praise in my heart
and a desire to become more like You.

Lessons about God are embedded in life experiences. 

Has God abandoned His people?

Written by Sean Tong

What is the current state of the church? Across the world, Christians face persecution. This has been no less evident recently in Iraq where Islamic militants have been giving Christians there a horrific ultimatum: Convert and pay a tax or die. Not only that, they have also purportedly committed further atrocities, including beheading children. Has God abandoned His people?

We find a similar situation in Exodus chapter 2. But before that, let’s take a look at what happened earlier in Genesis. Genesis concludes with Joseph saying to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (50:24 ESV).

However, in Exodus 1, we find out that things seem to be taking a downward spiral for God’s people. The Israelites are oppressed. Pharaoh brutally makes them work hard as his slaves. Yet, the more God’s people are oppressed, the more they multiply (Exodus 1:1-14)!

But another roadblock soon arises. Pharaoh tells the Hebrew midwives to kill all Israelite son when it is born (vv.15-16). However, the midwives fear God more than they fear Pharaoh, telling Pharaoh that Hebrew women are so vigorous that they give birth before a midwife can get to them! Pharaoh then commands that “Every son that is born to the Hebrews … shall [be] cast into the [River] Nile” (v.22).

What’s going to happen? Would this order from Pharaoh be too big for God?

In Exodus 2:1, we read of a man from the house of Levi who took a Levite woman as his wife. This is better isn’t it? We have a wedding! “The woman conceived and bore a son” (v.2)! And now they’re having children. Will he get chucked into the Nile?

His mother sees that he is a fine child. Well she would, wouldn’t she? Maybe this is just me, but if I’m being honest, newly born babies can be ugly. But have you ever noticed how the parents always see how beautiful their child is? Acts 7:20 highlights for us that there is something more than just ordinary parental wonder going on here—”At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight.”

So they hide him for three months. When Moses’ mother could hide him no longer, she took a basket made of bulrushes and set it off on its way among the reeds of the river bank (v.3).

This child eventually ends up with Pharaoh’s daughter (v.5)! What’s going to happen to him? Will God be faithful to His promises?

We read that Pharaoh’s daughter takes pity on Moses and calls for a Hebrew woman to nurse the child, who happens to be Moses’ mother! God is in complete control of what is happening.

Why is this important to us?

This special birth looks forward to another special birth. The birth of Moses looks forward to the birth of Jesus. In Hebrews 3, the writer to the Hebrews says that “Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (v.3). Just as Moses was leading God’s people to the Promised Land, Jesus delivers us from slavery to sin and leads us into His kingdom. So despite whatever situation we’re facing currently, let’s hang on to Jesus’ promises for us!

Photo credit: Mark J Fox / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

ODB: Whoppers Or Adventures?

July 19, 2014 

READ: Psalm 102:18-28 

But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. —Psalm 102:27 

My grandfather loved to tell stories, and I loved to listen. Papaw had two kinds of tales. “Whoppers” were stories with a whiff of truth, but which changed with each new telling. “Adventures” were stories that really happened, and the facts never changed when retold. One day my grandfather told a story that just seemed too far-fetched to be true. “Whopper,” I declared, but my grandfather insisted it was true. Although his telling never varied, I simply couldn’t believe it, it was that unusual.

Then one day, while I was listening to a radio program, I heard the announcer tell a story that confirmed the truth of my grandfather’s tale. My grandfather’s “whopper” suddenly became an “adventure.” It was a moving moment of remembrance that made him even more trustworthy in my eyes.

When the psalmist wrote about the unchanging nature of God (102:27), he was offering this same comfort—the trustworthiness of God—to us. The idea is repeated in Hebrews 13:8 with these words, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” This can lift our hearts above our daily trials to remind us that an unchanging, trustworthy God rules over even the chaos of a changing world.

— Randy Kilgore

Our God is God—He does not change;
His truth, His love remain each day the same,
He’s faithful to His matchless name,
For God is God—He does not change. —D. DeHaan

Let the sameness of God waft over your heart with His peace in your storms.