ODJ: A Word to the Wealthy

July 24, 2017 

Tell [the rich] to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others (v.18). 

READ: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 

When Robert Edmiston lost his job in the early 1970s, he used the money he received in severance pay to start International Motors. Edmiston went on to become one of the wealthiest business owners in the UK and one of the country’s most generous philanthropists. As a believer in Jesus, he felt compelled to use his wealth to start religious and educational charities that to this day bring hope to people around the world. With offices in Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific, Robert Edmiston has donated hundreds of millions of pounds since 1988.

As Bill Gates once said, “I believe that with great wealth comes great responsibility.” If this is the case, what does God expect from the rich?

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy with clear instructions on how the wealthy should use their resources. He urged the “rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable.” He encouraged them instead to put their trust in God, “who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Paul also encouraged Timothy to tell the rich “to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others” (v.18).

Having a grateful heart and a generous attitude isn’t reserved only for the wealthy. Paul’s words should resonate deeply in the heart of every believer in Jesus. We can all use whatever resources and talents God has blessed us with for the good of others. “This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so that [we] will know what true life is like” (v.19 cev).

—Ruth O’Reilly Smith

365-day plan: Matthew 17:24-18:6

Read Matthew 6:19-21 and think about what it means to store your treasures in heaven. 
What resources, talents or other gifts has God given you? How can you use your resources to further the kingdom of God and be a blessing? 

ODJ: Not a Sprint

July 23, 2017 

I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm (11:27). 

READ: 2 Cor. 11:16-12:10 

In 1983, a sixty-one year old potato farmer named Cliff Young showed up for a gruelling, weeklong ultramarathon from Sydney to Melbourne—in overalls and work boots. He shuffled off the starting line as the much younger and athletic runners sprinted ahead. Soon he was miles behind. Spectators feared for his health. But that night, as the other runners slept, Cliff took a quick nap and kept going. Five days and five nights later he came in first—ten hours ahead of his closest competitor!

The apostle Paul also wasn’t the most orthodox champion. He wasn’t the best speaker and he sometimes lacked the gracious spirit expected from a church leader (Acts 15:37-40; Galatians 2:11). He confessed he was the worst of sinners and suffered from a humbling “thorn in [his] flesh” (1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Corinthians 12:7). His enemies added to his struggles, beating him with whips and stones (11:25).

But Paul chose to boast in his weakness “so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:9-10).

Do you sometimes wonder if you’re falling behind in the race of life? Do you feel unappreciated, even scorned for living for Jesus? Do some people scoff at your commitment to Him?

Continue to winsomely show love to the spectators—the ones who are watching you. Remember the steady pace of Cliff Young and the apostle Paul as you run your race. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so “let us run with endurance the race God has set before us . . . keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

—Mike Wittmer

365-day plan: Luke 9:28-45

Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 to learn how we are to run the race God has called us to run. 
Where do you feel like giving up? What do you need to believe, hope for and love in order to stay in the race? 

ODJ: Streams of Mercy

July 22, 2017 

[God] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (v.9). 

READ: 2 Peter 3:3-10 

The council in Cassandra Boyson’s Seeker’s Trilogy was responsible for maintaining law and order in the name of the “Great One”. Instead, they were corrupt, singling out people they deemed different for cruel treatment. Slowly the surrounding society began to decay—reflecting the council’s immoral ways. Yet in a surprising twist, the Great One righted the wrongs of that world by providing a river that transformed all who came into contact with it.

Like that river offering transformation without cost, Scripture abounds with examples of God extending undeserved mercy to people in surprising ways. Though Jonah did everything in his power to prevent it, God showered mercy on a wicked Assyrian nation when they chose to repent and turn to God (Jonah 3:10). Jesus gently but firmly silenced the accusers of a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), and He shocked onlookers by associating with the hated tax collectors—even choosing one to be in His core group of twelve disciples (Matthew 9:9-11).

People may ridicule believers in Jesus for their hope in Jesus’ return, saying “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? . . . Everything has remained the same since the world was first created” (2 Peter 3:4). But Peter reminds us that the timing of Jesus’ second coming is designed to allow repentance for as many as possible. He urges us not to “forget this one thing: a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (vv.8-9).

His streams of mercy continue to flow today.

—Remi Oyedele

365-day plan: Mark :8:22-9:1

Read Psalm 103:8-14 to see how God views and relates to us. 
How do you feel God should treat those who have wronged you in some way? Are those feelings in line with how you’d like to be treated by God? What steps can you take to adopt God’s perspective on mercy? 

ODJ: No Floating

July 21, 2017 

He will be highly honoured around the world. And he will be the source of peace (vv.4-5). 

READ: Micah 5:1-5 

I was power-trimming weeds beneath a large tree in our back garden when I felt a painful, burning jab to the back of my skull. Turning, I noticed several hornets buzzing around me. Having been already stung by one, I fled the scene. Later that night I discovered I had bumped the hornets’ watermelon-sized nest with my head! A sting had snapped me out of my clueless state, one that could have resulted in me being swarmed and stung repeatedly.

The prophet Micah was called to do something similar—to wake God’s people out of their clueless state. They had their heads down—ignoring God and His call—living unjust, self centred, spiritually apathetic lives (1:5, 2:2). As one commentator put it, “With passionate forthrightness, [Micah] attacks the social evils [religious corruption, social oppression, economic injustice, etc.] of his day. His stubborn refusal to float on the tide of his social environment, and his courageous stand for his convictions of God’s truth, must commend Micah to . . . every age.”

Micah brought God’s stinging words: judgement was coming through their enemies the Assyrians (5:1). But he also gave them hope in One who would come from Bethlehem and “be the source of peace” (vv.2,5). The prophet’s words described a “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)— revealing to the people of that age and ours that One would come and “lead his flock” and “be highly honoured around the world” (Micah 5:4).

Jesus, the One who fulfilled that prophecy, provides what we need to passionately swim against the currents of social ills today. This is no time for floating. Let’s lift our heads and find our voice as Christ gives us the power and strength to live out His justice, truth and love.

—Tom Felten

365-day plan: Matthew 15:32-16:12

Read 1 Peter 2:9-12 and consider what it means to swim against the corrupt culture of this world. 
In what ways have you been ‘floating’ spiritually? What will you do today to stand firm in your faith and lift up those in need?