ODJ: “I AM”

September 18, 2018 

READ: Exodus 3:1-15 

Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground (v.5).

While I was leading a Bible class for those who didn’t yet believe in Jesus, a participant asked, “How many gods are there in this world?” Hoping to give an answer, I googled for help. I believe there’s only one true God, but one person gave this clever answer: Seven billion gods. There are seven billion people in this world. And everyone has a personal god.

There are countless ‘gods’ that people worship today. While the ancient Greeks worshipped Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, Diana and numerous other named deities, it’s just as common for people to worship ‘gods’ they don’t name, gods like financial comfort or fame.

It might be helpful to ask again, “What is the name of the God—or god—I’m worshipping?” That’s the question Moses asked when God appeared to him: who are you, Lord? “What is [your] name?” (Exodus 3:13). “God replied to Moses, ‘I am who I am. . . . Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations’ ” (vv.14-15).

“I am” speaks of a God who has always been and who has no limitations, the One Supreme Being in the universe who isn’t dependent on something else for His existence. He’s the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists. He’s changeless in His being and character—He’ll never change who He is. He “is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Just as God told Moses, “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground” (Exodus 3:5), it’s vital for us to worship God in reverence. For wherever He is, that place is sacred. May we “bow low before his feet, for he is holy!” (Psalm 99:5).

—K.T. Sim

365-day plan: John 16:5-33

MORE
Read Isaiah 6:1-8 to see how Isaiah responded when he came into the presence of God. 
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How does knowing God as the “I am” affect your worship of Him and the way you live your life? What does it mean to worship in reverence? 

ODJ: Generous Love

September 17, 2018 

READ: 2 Chronicles 31:1-21 

In this way, King Hezekiah handled the distribution throughout all Judah, doing what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God (v.20).

When I was growing up, my family attended an occasional professional baseball game and often watched basketball on TV. Overall, sports were a peripheral pastime, a practice that continued with my kids. But our daughter has become a diehard basketball fan. She’s a faithful follower of her team and can hold her own in a discussion of players and stats.

Hezekiah, a standout among Judah’s history (2 Kings 18:5), understood passion and commitment. More than a recounting of a great season in Israel’s history, 2 Chronicles 31 gives us a window into the sacrificial nature of uninhibited worship. Hezekiah believed in the worthiness of God, and his belief translated into action as he called the people to spiritual renewal (2 Chronicles 29:5). But first, places of worship for false gods had to be removed and distractions destroyed (31:1). God’s people had to learn that worship couldn’t be found in songs, declarations or other expressions unless it was combined with obedience.

Though we often worship corporately, our individual choices are also an act of worship (vv.2-3). Our adoration becomes real and powerful when our obedience ceases to originate from obligation and flows from generosity rooted in love (vv.4-9). Then we’re able to see how giving to God sacrificially can bless others (vv.10-12,14).

We make God pre-eminent by setting our hearts on what’s “pleasing and good” to Him (v.20). Hezekiah didn’t want to give God a portion of his life; he knew that adoration requires complete commitment (v.21). Like that good king, as God guides us, may our own worship be pure and our devotion wholehearted.

—Regina Franklin

365-day plan: John 15:17-16:4

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Read Isaiah 2:5-22 and consider what idols in this life may be threatening your full love for God. 
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How can your love for Jesus motivate you to extravagant acts of obedience? What’s one of the most significant sacrifices you’ve made for someone you love? 

ODJ: A Conspiracy of Joy

September 16, 2018 

READ: John 15:9-17 

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy (v.11).

One of my favourite moments of the year is on Christmas Eve when, at the conclusion of our church’s candlelight service, we erupt with the powerful song “Joy to the World”. Because our church practises Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas) as a season of preparing our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we wait to unleash this song until that holy moment—then our voices raise the rafters. The song is the perfect conclusion to Advent, since joy is at the heart of everything Jesus does for us.

As Jesus spoke final words to His disciples, He returned to themes He had taught them from their earliest days together. He wanted His friends to know the depths of His love for them, a love matched only by His own experience of the Father’s affection (15:9). Christ also told His followers how vital it is to obey God’s commands and to order our lives under His good authority. “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love,” Jesus said, “just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (v.10).

Further, Jesus reminded them that they were “no longer . . . slaves . . . [but] friends” (v.15). None of this was new information, but reminders of everything they’d shared as friends.

And why had Jesus so diligently taught and reminded them of all these truths? “So that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (v.11).

It can be difficult, in times of heartbreak and uncertainty, to cling to the truth that God is committed to our joy—and that God’s truth always leads us to joy. Can we trust this? We can in His strength. Every day of our lives God has been working on our behalf towards one massive conspiracy of joy!

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: John 15:1-16

MORE
Read 1 Peter 1:8-9. What “inexpressible” gift does God fill us with as we trust in Him? How do trust and faith fit into this picture? 
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How does it change your perspective of God to think of Him as one who deeply desires and works for your joy? How does this stir you? 

ODJ: Singers on the Frontline

September 15, 2018 

READ: 2 Chronicles 20:13-22 

At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves (v.22).

It was the night before a job fair, and my husband was discouraged. Past attempts to land a job had failed, and he felt that meeting with recruiters would only lead to more dead ends. But he realised God was greater than his fears (Isaiah 41:10), so before practising possible interview questions, we decided to meditate on specific, encouraging passages of Scripture. We also prayed and recounted God’s numerous blessings. By the end of the evening, we both experienced a sense of peace even amid our fears.

King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah also experienced fear in the face of great danger. They’d just received news that a vast army was coming towards them. Jehoshaphat became fearful but didn’t allow fear to paralyse him. Instead he turned to God, sought His counsel and called for a national fast (2 Chronicles 20:3).

God spoke to all of Judah through one of the Levites and said, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v.15). He declared His ownership over the situation and assured them He was not only with them, but fighting for them. God also gave them specific, counterintuitive instructions, “You will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory” (v.17).

The people responded in confident worship and praise. They obeyed God fully and even sent the singers to the frontline of the battle. As soon as they were singing, He brought victory and caused the vast army to “start fighting among themselves” (v.22).

God may not always change our circumstances, but we can choose to praise Him as we face them—knowing He’s with us and is greater than our fears.

—Estera Pirosca Escobar

365-day plan: John 14:15-31

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Look up Exodus 14:5-14 to read another story about when the Israelites were in trouble and God showed up in a miraculous way. 
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What’s causing you to fear today? What Scriptures and perhaps songs can help you find peace in the midst of your struggle?