ODJ: John’s Question

June 27, 2016 

READ: Luke 7:18-28 

He sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (v.19). 

“I had plans for how my life was supposed to work out,” my friend David said. “And when things didn’t go as planned, I became bitter and resentful.” Who can relate to David? I definitely can! Often I find myself imposing my expectations on God as rights, and then sulking when they aren’t realised.

John the Baptist may have felt the same way. It’s possible that he and his disciples wondered why his famous cousin wouldn’t save him from Herod’s clutches. Reports spread of Jesus’ miraculous works throughout the region. But John had been imprisoned and was left to wonder if Jesus was truly the Messiah (Matthew 11:2-3).

So John sent his disciples to inquire. Was Christ the Expected One, or should they look for another? (Luke 7:19). In response, Jesus told them to report all that they had seen. The blind received sight, the lame walked and the dead were brought to life. Then Jesus added something else: “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me” (v.23).

John was beginning to wonder if he had got it all wrong. What he knew intellectually about Jesus was being affected by what he felt emotionally. He was behind bars and things were not going the way he had planned.

God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours, so, like John the Baptist, we can’t always grasp the intimate details He’s working out (Isaiah 55:8-9). Instead, He invites us into His plans and purposes for us.

Despite his doubts, John remained faithful. He was ultimately beheaded, but not before Jesus stated that none greater than John had ever lived (Luke 7:28). Imagine what awaited John when he entered God’s presence! Imagine what will await us as God reveals His perfect ways and plans in the days ahead.

—Remi Oyedele

365-day plan: Mark 2:23-3:19

Read Hebrews 11:1-2 and consider what it means to have faith in God. 
Do you find it difficult surrendering to God’s will when you don’t understand the full picture? What steps can you take to seek God’s perspective in a current challenging situation? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: chosen instruments

September 13, 2015 

READ: Acts 9:10-19 

Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to . . . the people (v.15). 

My daughter is only 5 years old, but she’s a self- declared ‘artist’. One day we talked about paintbrushes. I selected two and handed them to her. The first brush was slim, with bristles that ended in a fine point. The other brush was larger and thicker. I explained that artists typically use bigger brushes to fill in large areas, while tiny brushes work better for small spaces and creating details. Painting involves choosing the right tool at the right time in the artistic process.

Not long after Jesus’ death and resurrection, He announced, “[Paul] is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

Paul was the right man for the job, partly because he had been “given a thorough Jewish training from [his] earliest childhood” (Acts 26:4). As a Jewish man using the Hebrew language, Paul reached Israel’s ordinary people as well as prominent government officials. He even had a voice with the uppity religious leaders because he had been a practising “member of the Pharisees” prior to his conversion! (Acts 26:5).

As a Jewish man and a Roman citizen by birth, Paul was fluent in Hebrew and in Greek (Acts 21:37). This additional language allowed him to converse with almost anyone he encountered on his missionary travels. Fluency in Greek enabled him to start churches and even debate with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (Acts 17:18).

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day-plan: John 13:21-38

Read Philippians 3:5-7 and see more of Paul’s qualifications along with where he found his true identity. 
How do you see the limitations in your life as they relate to your ability to serve God? How has He uniquely called and qualified you for His service? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: gift of submission

September 19, 2014 

READ: James 4:6-10 

Submit yourselves, then, to God (v.7 NIV). 

I once wrote a book based on a collection of letters that François Fénelon (a French pastor from the 17th century) wrote to a younger friend who was serving in the morally corrupt court of King Louis XIV. Fénelon’s fatherly posture and his call for unflinching devotion to God captured me. Words like this are standard Fénelon fare: “Becoming a follower of God is hard because it requires that we submit ourselves fully to a God who is other than us. We must let go of our insistence that we know best what we need. We must let go of our demands that God act when and how we demand.”
James tells us the same. “Submit to God”, he wrote. The New Living Translation captures the right tone: “Humble yourselves before God” (4:7). Humility is a crucial part of submission because our pride (our insistence that we know best and do not need God) keeps us from laying down our demands and our will. Yet we must put down our arrogant hearts. We must empty our hands of all the things we grasp after. For if we’re full of ourselves and our accomplishments, we’ll have no room or desire for what God wants to give us.

That’s why James reminds us that “God opposes the proud, but favours the humble” (v.6). The proud are those of us who think the world is what we make of it. The proud are those of us who will not be friends of God, who will not see the world as it truly is—as God’s world. The proud are those of us who will not submit, who will not empty ourselves so we can receive love.

But praise God, grace flows freely to the humble. If we lay our life down at God’s feet, we’ll find that in giving up (submitting) we’re able to truly live.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan› John 17:1-26

Read 1 Peter 5:5. Peter repeats the proverb that James quotes (Proverbs 3:34). What’s the connection between submitting to God and submitting to others? 
What are you holding on to that you need to release in submission to God? What holds you back from trusting that God will not disappoint you if you surrender to Him? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: made new

August 14, 2013 

READ: Song of Songs 8:6-7 

Love is as strong as death (v.6). 

She embodies beauty, both inside and out. But she also carries the burden of deep shame due to the actions of a selfish man. Far from harmless, his hands not only touched her, but they robbed her of security and honour. Perhaps he saw it as a game—simply sacrificing her innocence on the altar of a sex-saturated culture. But to her, it resulted in a painful, lifelong wound of the heart and mind.
As much as God delights in giving gifts to His people, the powers of darkness thrill in depleting hope, destroying peace and devastating hearts (John 10:10). Few weapons are as pervasive as the chaos they create in the perversion of sexual intimacy. Single or married, young or old, male or female, the fallout from those affected has been extensive.

A restorative picture of God’s design for sexual intimacy, the Song of Songs strips away our pretenses about love as we discover the power of God’s passion for us. He became for us the very Love that was as strong as death (Song of Songs 8:6), a Love willing to be crucified (John 3:16).

Caring little about our shame, and encouraging us to live without sexual restraint, the powers of darkness want us to live in sexual brokenness. Few, if any of us, will escape this world unscathed in some way or another God, however, was not unaware.

Like the lover who reminds his beloved that the barren winter has passed, He calls us from our place of shame and desolation. He makes all things new (Isaiah 43:19). No sin is too great, no shame too weighty, no lie from the enemy too powerful. Only one question remains: will we love Him in return? (Song of Songs 6:3; 1 John 4:10). —Regina Franklin

Luke 15:1-10 ‹

Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and consider why sexual sin is devastating to our love relationship with God.  
How have your experiences in life shaped your understanding of sex? What is God’s view of it, and how will you live it out? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)