ODJ: King of the Sunrise

September 24, 2017 

The heavens proclaim the glory of God (v.1). 

READ: Psalm 19:1-6 

One morning before getting out of bed, I heard a radio announcer commenting on something other than news headlines and traffic backups. She was describing the sunrise, saying it was incredible and even camera-worthy. Sure enough, a glance out the window revealed an exquisite array of colours and light. Low lavender clouds embedded in a pale yellow sky grazed rooftops in the distance. To the north, fire-coloured clouds hovered against a deep, turquoise backdrop.

As the sunrise melted away, I thought of what David wrote: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. . . . They speak without a sound or word” (Psalm 19:1,3). To people who don’t know God, the sky and all it contains shouts, “Yes, God exists!’

This message is available to everyone who lives on earth. The clouds and sun harmonise to send their wordless confirmation of God “throughout the earth” (v.4). To those on the other side of the planet, the stars and moon say the same thing. There’s never a time when the sky doesn’t testify to God in our world. Dark or light, it’s always there. “Day after day [the heavens] continue to speak; night after night they make [God] known” (v.2).

Why does God reveal Himself in such a continual, powerful way to human beings? The answer is simple. He wants a restored relationship with those He’s created. He wants “everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God’s truth extends beyond His existence. It includes His plan of redemption through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. It also includes all the aspects of His character, which is more amazing and beautiful than the most fabulous sunrise ever seen.

—Jennifer Schuldt

365-day-plan: Luke 23:1-12

Read Psalm 8:3-6 and consider why the psalmist was in awe that God would reveal Himself to human beings. Read Romans 1:20 to see how God reveals Himself through creation. 
How are you declaring the glory of God in your life? Which of God’s invisible qualities are most obvious to you when you observe the natural world? 

ODJ: Making Plans

September 23, 2017 

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone (v.14). 

READ: James 4:13-17 

Andre-Francois Raffray was a middle-aged lawyer who found a bargain. A ninety year old widow named Jeanne Calment offered her French apartment en viager, or “for life”. If Raffray paid her $500 US per month for her remaining days, he would inherit her apartment when she died. But as months turned into years, Calment kept living and Raffray kept paying. Finally, after thirty years and a lot of money, Raffray died! Jeanne Calment celebrated her 120th birthday and shrugged, “In life, one sometimes makes bad deals.”

This true story at first glance sounds wildly unbelievable—but then life is full of unbelievable events. We’re wise to look for deals, but as Solomon observed, “time and chance happen to [us] all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 niv). Businesses fail and accidents happen, often for no apparent reason. What seemed like security can be our undoing, all because we’re paying rent to the oldest person alive. What are the odds?

As we plan, we must remain humble. James warns us not to boast about future profits, for who knows “what your life will be like tomorrow?” Our lives are as fleeting as the “morning fog” and fully dependent on God. So we should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that” (4:14-15). Proverbs 19:21 explains, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” This proverb may be the source of the Yiddish saying, “Man plans and God laughs.”

God’s sovereign power should bring us comfort. He’s not surprised when our best plans go awry. He’s got us and that’s enough. “The Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken” (Psalm 33:11). So prayerfully consider what to do, but know that you’re secure in God’s loving hands.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Matthew 27:1-10

Read Isaiah 46:1-13 to get another view of God’s sovereign ways. 
What plans are you working on today? Which ones might give you a false sense of security? How can you make sure your faith is in God and not in your plans? 

ODJ: Looking Back

September 22, 2017 

When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair (v.11). 

READ: 2 Ki. 22:1-13, 23:21-25 

Winston Churchill once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But the original thought may be traced to the philosopher George Santayana, who wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s true; you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.

The story of King Josiah illustrates the importance of being rooted in our own story of faith. Being a devout believer in God (2 Kings 22:2), Josiah’s rediscovery of the Scriptures led to a national reformation. As his court secretary read from the newly found Book of the Law, Josiah “tore his clothes in despair”, realising the extent of his people’s disobedience to it (vv.8-13). They had departed so far from the law that the Passover commemorating the very act of deliverance which established Israel as a nation, had not been celebrated for many years. Josiah ordered that it be celebrated again. And “there had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings” (23:22).

From that point forward, Josiah spent his life combating idolatry by destroying altars and holy sites to false gods (2 Kings 23:4-19). So great was his zeal it is written that “never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since” (v.25).

Hearing afresh the foundations of God’s law ignited a fire within Josiah that defined his rule. So too, as we study our roots and identity in the story of Scripture, may His Spirit illuminate where we’ve been and guide us as we go.

—Remi Oyedele

365-day-plan: Matthew 26:57-75

Read Deut. 6:6-9 to see God’s exhortation for Israel to obey His commands and follow Him in love. 
How well do you retain and apply the lessons learned from reading Scripture? What steps can you take to help you remember what God has instructed? 

ODJ: Actions Speak

September 21, 2017 

Those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God (v.11). 

READ: 3 John 1:9-12 

Two siblings went down truly divergent paths. One turned his back on Jesus and eventually spent years in prison. The other lived out the grace and love of God, compassionately caring for family, those inside the body of Christ and those on the outside. Two lives marked by actions that spoke loudly.

The apostle John wrote a letter that revealed the differing actions of two men within the early church. His words show that our actions do indeed speak louder than our words. John first wrote of a man named Diotrephes who’d shown himself to be proud, selfish and unwilling to submit to apostolic authority (v.9). He was on a power trip that included forcing people who wouldn’t follow him out of the church (v.10)—the antithesis of what it means to live and lead in love (1 John 3:10-14).

Demetrius, however, was evidently such a caring, Christ-honouring leader that “everyone [spoke] highly of [him].” His life seemed to so match the truth of the gospel that “the truth itself” witnessed to his character (v.12).

Our actions speak not only of our character, but also of the One we serve. Jesus said, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16). And Paul wrote, “Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).

We can’t live like Demetrius in our own strength. Only by submitting to Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit can we do what’s loving and right in this world—living out actions that honour Jesus.

The man I mentioned earlier has done just that. He’s now out of prison and compassionately extending God’s love to others. May our actions also speak of the grace and love of Jesus.

—Tom Felten

365-day-plan: John 18:1-24

Read Prov. 4:23-27 and consider the practical wisdom it contains for honouring God with your actions. 
What do your actions reveal about your character? Your love for God? What might God be leading you to change through His power?