Entries by YMI

ODB: Trusting God in Opposition

November 29, 2021 

READ: Daniel 3:13–18, 25–27 

But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Daniel 3:18

 

Raised in a tribe in the Philippines opposed to belief in Christ, Esther received salvation through Jesus after an aunt prayed for her during Esther’s battle with a life-threatening illness. Today, Esther leads Bible studies in her local community in spite of threats of violence and even death. She serves joyfully, saying, “I can’t stop telling people about Jesus because I’ve experienced the power, love, goodness, and faithfulness of God in my life.”

Serving God in the face of opposition is a reality for many today just as it was for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three young Israelites living in captivity in Babylon. In the book of Daniel, we learn that they refused to pray to a large golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar even when threatened with death. The men testified that God was capable of protecting them, but they chose to serve Him “even if” He didn’t rescue them (Daniel 3:18). When they were thrown into the fire, God actually joined them in their suffering (v. 25). To everyone’s amazement, they survived without even “a hair of their heads singed” (v. 27).

If we face suffering or persecution for an act of faith, ancient and modern examples remind us that God’s Spirit is present with us to strengthen and sustain us when we choose to obey Him, “even if” things turn out differently than we hope.

— Lisa M. Samra

What are some ways you’ve chosen to follow God “even if”? What are ways He’s been with you?

God, thank You for loving me so generously. Help me to follow You with joy even in the face of opposition.  

ODB: Insult to Injury

November 28, 2021 

READ: Job 5:17–27 

Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. Job 5:7

 

During the Golden Age of radio, Fred Allen (1894–1956) used comedic pessimism to bring smiles to a generation living in the shadows of economic depression and a world at war. His sense of humor was born out of personal pain. Having lost his mother before he was three, he was later estranged from his father who struggled with addictions. He once rescued a young boy from the traffic of a busy New York City street with a memorable, “What’s the matter with you, kid? Don’t you want to grow up and have troubles?”

The life of Job unfolds in such troubled realism. When his early expressions of faith eventually gave way to despair, his friends multiplied his pain by adding insult to injury. With good sounding arguments they insisted that if he could admit his wrongs (Job 4:7–8) and learn from God’s correction, he would find strength to laugh in the face of his problems (5:22).

Job’s “comforters” meant well while being so wrong (1:6–12). Never could they have imagined that they would one day be invoked as examples of “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Never could they have imagined the relief of Job praying for them, or why they would need prayer at all (42:7–9). Never could they have imagined how they foreshadowed the accusers of the One who suffered so much misunderstanding to become the source of our greatest joys.

— Mart DeHaan

How have others misjudged you, and how did you feel? When have you been critical of others whose pain you didn’t understand?

Father, like Job’s friends, I’m inclined to assume that the troubles of others are somehow deserved. Please help me live this day in the Spirit of Your Son rather than in the words and thoughts of the accuser.  

ODB: Bold Faith

November 27, 2021 

READ: Acts 4:8–13 

Salvation is found in no one else. Acts 4:12

 

After Prem Pradhan’s (1924–1998) plane was shot down during World War II, he was wounded while parachuting to safety. As a result, he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He once noted, “I have a lame leg. Isn’t it strange of God that He called [me] to preach the gospel in the Himalaya Mountains?” And preach in Nepal he did—but not without opposition that included imprisonment in “dungeons of death” where prisoners faced extreme conditions. In a span of fifteen years, Prem spent ten years in fourteen different prisons. His bold witness, however, bore the fruit of changed lives for Christ that included guards and prisoners who took the message of Jesus to their own people.

The apostle Peter faced opposition due to his faith in Jesus and for being used by God to heal a “man who was lame” (Acts 4:9). But he used the opportunity to boldly speak for Christ (vv. 8–13).

Today, like Peter, we too may face opposition (v. 3), yet we have family members, co-workers, fellow students, and others we know who desperately need to hear about the One in whom “salvation is found” (v. 12), who died as payment for our sins and was raised from the dead as proof of His power to forgive (v. 10). May they hear as we prayerfully and boldly proclaim this good news of salvation found in Jesus.

— Arthur Jackson

How will you boldly share Jesus today? What keeps you from telling others about Him? How can you be better prepared to do so?

Father, thank You for what You’ve done for me. Help me, in Jesus’ name, to boldly share my faith with others.  

ODB: Mighty Warrior

November 26, 2021 

READ: Judges 6:11–16 

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. Judges 6:12

 

Diet Eman was an ordinary, shy young woman in the Netherlands-in love, working, and enjoying time with family and friends-when the Germans invaded in 1940. As Diet (pronounced Deet) later wrote, “When there is danger on your doorstep, you want to act almost like an ostrich burying its head in the sand.” Yet Diet felt God calling her to resist the German oppressors, which included risking her life to find hiding places for Jews and other pursued people. This unassuming young woman became a warrior for God.

We find many stories in the Bible similar to Diet’s, stories of God using seemingly unlikely characters to serve Him. For instance, when the angel of the Lord approached Gideon, he proclaimed, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). Yet Gideon seemed anything but mighty. He’d been secretly threshing wheat away from the prying eyes of the Midianites, who oppressively controlled Israel at the time (vv. 1–6, 11). He was from the weakest clan of Israel (Manasseh) and the “least” in his family (v. 15). He didn’t feel up to God’s calling and even requested several signs. Yet God used him to defeat the cruel Midianites (see ch. 7).

God saw Gideon as “mighty.” And just as God was with and equipped Gideon, so He’s with us, His “dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1)-supplying all we need to live for and serve Him in little and big ways.

— Alyson Kieda

Who are some other Bible characters God used despite their weakness to accomplish much for Him? How has God moved you outside your comfort zone to serve Him?

God, I’m so thankful You don’t see me as I see myself. Help me to see myself as Your dearly loved child capable of doing big and small things in service to You.  

ODB: A Thankful Heart

November 25, 2021 

READ: Colossians 4:2–6 

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

 

Seneca, the great philosopher of ancient Rome (4 bc–ad 65), was once accused by the empress Messalina of adultery. After the Senate sentenced Seneca to death, the emperor Claudius instead exiled him to Corsica, perhaps because he suspected the charge was false. This reprieve may have shaped Seneca’s view of thankfulness when he wrote: “homicides, tyrants, thieves, adulterers, robbers, sacrilegious men, and traitors there always will be, but worse than all these is the crime of ingratitude.”

A contemporary of Seneca’s, the apostle Paul, may have agreed. In Romans 1:21, he wrote that one of the triggers for the downward collapse of humankind was that they refused to give thanks to God. Writing to the church at Colossae, three times Paul challenged his fellow believers in Christ to gratitude. He said we should be “overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7). As we let God’s peace “rule in [our] hearts,” we’re to respond with thankfulness (3:15). In fact, gratitude ought to characterize our prayers (4:2).

God’s great kindnesses to us remind us of one of life’s great realities. He not only deserves our love and worship, He also deserves our thankful hearts. Everything that’s good in life comes from Him (James 1:17).

With all we’ve been given in Christ, gratitude should be as natural as breathing. May we respond to God’s gracious gifts by expressing our gratitude to Him.

— Bill Crowder

What are some of the biggest, most enduring blessings you’ve received in life? What everyday blessings have you experienced that are often easy to forget?

Loving Father, forgive me for the times I’ve taken You and Your blessings for granted. Create in me a thankful heart, so I’ll honor and praise You for all You’ve done and are doing.  

ODB: The Will of God

November 24, 2021 

READ: Psalm 62 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

 

God’s will is sometimes hard to follow. He asks us to do the right things. He calls us to endure hardship without complaining; to love awkward people; to heed the voice inside us that says, You mustn’t; to take steps we’d rather not take. So, we must tell our souls all day long: “Hey soul, listen up. Be silent: Do what Jesus is asking you to do.”

“My soul waits in silence for God alone” (Psalm 62:1 nasb). “My soul, wait in silence for God alone” (62:5 nasb). The verses are similar, but different. David says something about his soul; then says something to his soul. “Waits in silence” addresses a decision, a settled state of mind. “Wait in silence” is David stirring his soul to remember that decision.

David determines to live in silence—quiet submission to God’s will. This is our calling as well, the thing for which we were created. We’ll be at peace when we’ve agreed: “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This is our first and highest calling when we make Him Lord and the source of our deepest pleasure. “I desire to do your will,” the psalmist said (Psalm 40:8).

We must always ask for God’s help, of course, for our “hope comes from him” (62:5). When we ask for His help, He delivers it. God never asks us to do anything He won’t or can’t do.

— David H. Roper

When have you thought God’s will for you was difficult? How can you live in quiet submission?

I may not always understand Your will, Father, but I ask for help to submit to it. Teach me to trust Your good and faithful character. Please give me a submissive heart.  

ODB: Sharing Hope

November 23, 2021 

READ: 2 Timothy 3:10–17 

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

 

As Emma shared how God helped her embrace her identity as His beloved child, she weaved Scripture into our conversation. I could barely figure out where the high school student stopped speaking her words and began quoting the words of God. When I commended her for being like a walking Bible, her brow furrowed. She hadn’t been intentionally reciting Scripture verses. Through daily reading of the Bible, the wisdom found in it had become a part of Emma’s everyday vocabulary. She rejoiced in God’s constant presence and enjoyed every opportunity He provided to share His truth with others. But Emma isn’t the first young person God has used to inspire others to prayerfully read, memorize, and apply Scripture.

When the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to step into leadership, he demonstrated confidence in this young man (1 Timothy 4:11–16). Paul acknowledged that Timothy was rooted in Scripture from infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). Like Paul, Timothy faced doubters. Still, both men lived as if they believed all Scripture was “God-breathed.” They recognized Scripture was “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (vv. 16–17).

When we hide God’s wisdom in our hearts, His truth and love can pour into our conversations naturally. We can be like walking Bibles sharing God’s eternal hope wherever we go.

— Xochitl Dixon

How do you hide Scripture in your heart and mind? How has God’s wisdom helped you share His truth with others?

Father, saturate my heart with Your wisdom so I can share You with others naturally and courageously.  

ODB: True Worshipers

November 22, 2021 

READ: John 4:19–26 

True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:23

 

She finally had the chance to visit the church. Inside, in the deepest part of the basement, she reached the small cave or grotto. Candles filled the narrow space and hanging lamps illuminated a corner of the floor. There it was—a fourteen-pointed silver star, covering a raised bit of the marble floor. She was in Bethlehem’s Grotto of the Nativity—the place marking the spot where according to tradition Christ was born. Yet the writer, Annie Dillard, felt less than impressed, realizing God was much bigger than that spot.

Still, such places have always held great significance in our faith stories. Another such place is mentioned in the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well—the mountain where her “ancestors worshiped” (John 4:20), referring to Mount Gerizim (see Deuteronomy 11:29). It was sacred to the Samaritans, who contrasted it to the Jewish insistence that Jerusalem was where true worship occurred (v. 20). However, Jesus declared the time had arrived when worship was no longer specific to a place, but a Person: “the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (v. 23). The woman declared her faith in the Messiah, but she didn’t realize she was talking to Him. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he’ ” (v. 26).

God isn’t limited to any mountain or physical space. He’s present with us everywhere. The true pilgrimage we make each day is to approach His throne as we boldly say, “Our Father,” and He is there.

— John Blase

What difference does it make to you knowing that God is spirit, always and ever present? What will you praise Him for in this moment?

Father, thank You for Your constant presence no matter where I am.