ODJ: God Our Restorer

July 11, 2016 

READ: Psalm 71:7-24  

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth (v.20). 

Tom, the manager of a car dealership, navigated Jacob around the showroom floor. Pausing at a restored Ford Ranchero pickup truck—one of Tom’s classic vehicles— tears began streaming down Jacob’s face. He then shared the happy memory of working on a farm in his youth. Year after year, no matter the weather, the farmer picked him up in a truck just like that one. Jacob would sit in the back while the farmer and his dog sat up front.

Later, Jacob left the dealership, but he also left Tom— moved by Jacob’s story—with a touched heart. Just a week later, Tom drove the Ford Ranchero to Jacob’s house and gave him the keys—blessing him with something he could only have dreamed of!

From David’s earliest days, God provided for him in special ways. As a shepherd boy, he fought off lions and bears to protect his flock (1 Samuel 17:36). He defeated the Philistine Goliath when no one else could (vv.37-51). And when jealous King Saul hounded him, David fought for his life (22:20-23). David also fought battles of the heart and mind, and although he lost many, he would always turn back to God for restoration—praising Him in return.

The author of Psalm 71 also chose to praise God when times were hard (v.14). In his old age, as his strength was failing, he asked God not to abandon him (v.9). By God’s provision, his life had been “an example to many, because [God had been his] strength and protection” (v.7). He vowed to “proclaim [God’s] power to [the] new generation, [His] mighty miracles to [them]” (v.18). Even though his enemies plotted to kill him, he knew that God would lift him up (vv.10,20).

Today, like David and the psalmist, may we rest in the power of God—our great Restorer!

—Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

365-day plan: Matthew 13:44-52

Read Psalm 3:1-3 and consider how God both protects and restores us. 
Are you in need of God’s restorative power today? Pray and allow Him to bring newness to your life! 

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ODJ: Truly Strong

April 6, 2016 

READ: Isaiah 40:12-31 

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (v.31). 

Mr. Strong, along with all the Mr. Men children’s books written by Roger Hargreaves, is still a firm favorite in our home. Following a makeover in 2008, Mr. Strong is no longer square; he now has has broader shoulders, a narrower waist, and bulging biceps, but he remains the strongest person in the world. The source of his incredible strength? It comes from all the eggs he eats! The protein in eggs is rich in leucine, an essential amino acid that plays an important role in the way muscles use glucose— contributing to strength, satisfying hunger, and providing a source of lasting energy.

Just as our bodies are nourished and sustained by good food, so too are our souls strengthened in the presence of our Creator God (Philippians 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:12). Daily responsibilities and bitter disappointments can quickly wear us down and test our resolve, so “even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength” (Isaiah 40:30—31). Indeed, a confident trust in God provides the fuel we need to be strengthened, and it helps us once again to “walk,” “run,” and “soar” (v.31).

Have you found that your energy is sapped due to tough situations? Take time today to lift your eyes and experience the presence of our incredible God (vv.22—28). As you do, may you enjoy His goodness and become strong again (Psalm 16:11). For God “gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless” (Isaiah 40:29).

When we put our hope in God rather than our employer, bank account, best friend, or physician, we’ll experience a strength that keeps us going throughout the year, no matter the circumstance. We’ll be strong in God’s power!

—Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

365-day-plan: 2 Samuel 12:1-25

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9—10 and be reminded that God’s power works best in our weakness. 
How will you proclaim your confident hope and trust in God today? What does it mean to truly know and live out His strength? 

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ODJ: getting nautical

November 19, 2015 

READ: Luke 8:22-25 

You rule the oceans. You subdue their storm-tossed waves (Psalm 89:9). 

It was early spring and the ice on the lake near my home had thawed. After a long, cold winter, a few of us hardy anglers were eager to fish again. As we hit the water the skies were sunny and the massive lake was calm. Conditions were ideal, but not for long. Shortly after setting our lines, the wind kicked up. It didn’t take long for it to start getting uncomfortably ‘nautical’. Before the waves could build to dangerous heights, we reluctantly pulled in our lines, fired up the boat engine and motored back towards the quiet harbour waters.

Just like that lake, the Sea of Galilee was known for its sudden and violent storms. One evening Jesus suggested that He and His small band of followers cross over the large inland lake by boat (Luke 8:22). As they made their way across, a strong storm moved in. So fierce were the waves that it threatened to sink their vessel.

The disciples were understandably scared. They thought they were going to drown. But not Jesus—He was snoozing in the back of the boat (v.23). After the disciples finally woke Him up, Jesus stood up (maybe even stretched a bit) and ordered the wind and the waves to calm down, and they did (Luke 8:24).

Shocked, the disciples didn’t know what to fear more—Jesus or the storm. “Who is this man?” they wondered out loud. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (v.25). Centuries earlier the psalmist asked, “Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O LORD?

. . . You rule the oceans. You subdue the storm-tossed waves” (Psalm 89:8-9).

May God’s power and authority—two things that amazed the disciples and inspired an ancient poet—reassure us when life starts to get ‘nautical’. He’s greater than anything we’ll face.

—Jeff Olson

365-day-plan: Acts 28:15-31

Read Psalms 65:7 and 107:28-29 and see more descriptions showing that the Lord is our powerful and wave-calming God. 
How does it encourage you to know that Jesus is Lord over everything? What troubling concern do you need to bring to Him today? 

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ODJ: i got this

September 8, 2015 

READ: Joshua 7:1-13 

Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). 

I had been doing well in my university classes and assumed that my upcoming logic exam was no big deal. A lukewarm sense of complacency settled over me. You might sum up my attitude as “I got this!”

Unforgiving reality showed me I most certainly did not have this. My grade for the term plummeted. It seems my academic philosophy contained a misjudgement or two.

The historical account of Joshua ultimately shows how Israel unwisely banked on success with a “we got this” attitude. As they prepared to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land, they sought God’s guidance and followed the priests who carried the ark of the covenant. (The ark represented God’s presence.) And in Joshua 6, as they made ready to “attack” the stronghold of Jericho, the ark was once again by their side (vv.6-7). So far so good.

But after the city walls miraculously crumbled, a man violated the direct command of God and took some of the plunder (7:1). Then Israel compounded their mistake. The men who went to scout out the next military target returned and said, “It won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there” (v.3). We have no record, however, of Israel consulting God on this one. Well, except for seeking Him after their humiliating defeat! (vv.4-9). Who knows what the outcome might have been if they had asked God for guidance?

We’re strange creatures—exhibiting a range from fear and timidity to conceit and hyper-independence. But God created us to live in community with each other and in reliance on Him. As we make it our habit to seek Him, He tells us, “Relax, I got this!”

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Luke 21:25-38

Read Matthew 14:22-33and look for Peter’s fascinating combination of faith and fear. 
What’s the difference between healthy confidence and unwise complacency? In what areas of your life are you prone to be overconfident? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)