ODJ: Representing Jesus

April 27, 2017 

Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (v.17). 

READ: Colossians 3:12-17 

My first experience behind a radio microphone was at the local university campus station. I was eager to learn a new skill and wanted to fit in with all the other radio personalities. I soon realised, however, that my values as a believer in Jesus differed greatly from many of the other students. Though I didn’t agree with much of what I saw or heard, I experienced boldness and strength from Christ to share with others the difference He’d made in my life.

Years later, I met up with one of those radio personalities who said he was now serving God. I was amazed to learn that he’d explored the Christian faith because of the way I had represented Jesus to him.

As believers in Christ, God calls us to represent Him by going into our sphere of influence dressed with “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). In an often brutal and merciless world, we’re able to display the dramatically contrasting nature of our Saviour—making allowance for the faults of others and forgiving those who have wronged us (v.13). We can be ambassadors of Jesus by allowing His peace to rule in our hearts and by always being thankful, no matter the circumstance (v.15).

When love is our overriding motive, we naturally become a harmonious expression of Him on earth (v.14). We can’t help but embody Christ’s character when we allow who He is and His message to fill our lives and flow out and through us (v.16). May we remember: “whatever [we] do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (v.17).

—Ruth O’Reilly Smith

365-day plan: 2 Kings 22:1-23:3

Read John 13:35 and see how we’re able to best embody Jesus’ character by our love for one another. 
In what practical ways can you effectively represent Christ in your sphere of influence? How are you able to work together with your fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus to be an expression of God in our world? 

ODJ: Myth No More

April 26, 2017 

You can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (v.9). 

READ: 1 Peter 2:1-12 

“We were sure that we, and our civilisation, had grown out of the nursery myths of God, angels and heaven.” Peter Hitchens said those words in describing his younger years when he and his brother Christopher Hitchens, who would become an outspoken atheist, were moving from nominal faith to atheism. Peter ceremonially burned a Bible at age fifteen to declare his disbelief in God.

Later, in his adult years, Peter felt unrest in his soul. One day, while viewing Rogier van der Weyden’s painting The Last Judgement, deep conviction filled his heart. The wrongs he’d committed and his rebellion against God required justice. That day, Hitchens began a journey into the arms of Jesus— seeing God no more as myth but as his Maker.

Peter Hitchens’ youthful view of God is nothing new. In 1 Peter, the apostle wrote to believers in Jesus who were considered “strange, superstitious and disloyal to Roman society”, as one commentator puts it. Unbelievers stumbled over Jesus because they did “not obey God’s word, and so [faced] the fate that was planned for them” (2:8). What was it that pierced Hitchens’ heart? It was the truth that a just God must judge the world. He must turn to right the wrongs that have been committed against Him and others.

An innate desire for justice burns within our hearts. Why? Because we’re made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). And He has also provided the perfect path for us to move from being condemned because of our unjust ways (Romans 3:23) to being made clean by His mercy (1 Peter 2:10). As we trust in Him and His ways, God removes our disgrace (v.6). “Through the mediation of Jesus” our lives can be made to please our just God (v.5).

The justice we seek reveals He’s no myth.

—Tom Felten

365-day plan: 2 Kings 11:1-21

Read Deuteronomy 32:4 and consider God and His just ways. 
What recent injustice done to you or others filled your heart with the desire for justice? Why must God judge His enemies and make things right? 

ODJ: Hidden Sins

April 25, 2017 

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

READ: Galatians 2:11-21 

I was ready to board a plane when my flight was cancelled due to engine failure. Unable to get on another flight, I had to wait until the next day. Because of my travel woes, the airline paid for my overnight stay at a nearby hotel. I was exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep, but I wasn’t able to rest well because of the jarring sound of jet engines. Perhaps if I lived right near an airport, I’d be used to the sound of jets taking off and landing and would sleep right through the night!

Similarly, we can become so accustomed to ignoring sin that it fades into the background, and we grow increasingly numb to it. And if we continue down the path of ignoring sin instead of confessing it, we’re in danger of bringing “sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). Having a deadened conscience would mean that we would no longer clearly hear the alarm bells of our conscience accusing or warning us of wrongdoing. Eventually, we wouldn’t even feel guilty for the sin we’re committing, having become completely insensitive to it.

How do we avoid this dangerous progression? A primary way is to follow the example of the Psalmist who wrote: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The Holy Spirit can use Scripture hidden in our hearts to expose sin and prick our consciences.

The Spirit also uses others to help us see our sin. Paul had to confront Peter about his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). It’s crucial for us to be reminded that we have been “crucified with Christ. It is no longer [we] who live, but Christ lives in [us]” (v.20). In His power, we can confront hidden sins.

—Marlena Graves

365-day plan: 2 Kings 5:1-27

Read Colossians 3:5 and consider what we are to put to death. 
How have you been trying to deal with your sin? How has the Holy Spirit been working through God’s Word and others to expose it? 

ODJ: The Kingdom We Long For

April 24, 2017 

He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land (v.5). 

READ: Jeremiah 23:1-6 

I remember the way grief hung so heavy the morning after news broke of the deadliest mass shooting in US history in 2016. This shooting happened just days from the one year anniversary of yet another shooting: a racially motivated killing at an African-American church. Have we learned nothing? Will we continue to kill one another? Must communities live in fear?

In such moments I often feel helpless, and need to return again to Scripture’s ancient wisdom to learn from the people who have gone before us. Israel knew much about devastation, violence and oppression. But they also had a relentless hope in the God who would save them. As believers, we can join Israel’s tear-drenched prayer: “Save us, O Lord our God! Gather us back from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you” (Psalm 106:47).

The prophet Jeremiah assured God’s people that “the time [was] coming” when a righteous king would come to rule—a powerful and good king whose kingdom would extend to every nation (Jeremiah 23:5). This king would “do what is just and right”. When He came, “Judah [would] be saved and Israel [would] live in safety” (vv.5-6).

Jesus has come, and God’s kingdom entered with Him. But this kingdom has not yet arrived in all its fullness, and we still encounter the bitter pain of violence and evil. Until God’s kingdom comes in final victory, we work and we utter prayers like this: We pray for God’s kingdom of peace over violence, God’s kingdom of love over hate, God’s kingdom of hope over despair and God’s kingdom of friendship over estrangement and isolation. May the kingdom of Jesus Christ rule over every rival kingdom. O God, make Your kingdom come in us. Amen.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: 2 Kings 2:13-25

Read Matthew 5:3-10 and consider what it means to be part of Jesus’ kingdom on earth. 
What makes you most desperate for the fullness of God’s kingdom to arrive? Write down your own prayer for God’s kingdom to come— then offer it to Him.