ODJ: The Spirit’s Wind

August 17, 2016 

READ: Acts 2:1-12  

Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting (v.2). 

It was October, a month in my part of the world when temperatures begin to dip and the leaves of many types of trees turn brilliant colours. The trees dazzled me with their autumn glory. Leaves sported deep reds, bright yellows, soft orange hues and a beautiful colour somewhere between green and yellow. I plopped down in the middle of a grove of trees to soak it all in. Then I lay down in a bed of leaves and gazed up at the blue sky. I was within a natural cathedral that swayed to and fro in the chilly autumn wind.

As the trees danced and the leaves rustled, I was reminded of Jesus’ words in John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” Then Luke’s description in Acts 2:2 came to mind: “Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.” In that pristine setting, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would blow into my life in a fresh way— the same amazing way He sweeps into people’s lives when they become believers in Jesus (v.4).

I desperately need the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work God has assigned to me. I need the Spirit to guide and direct me, for I dare not try to do God’s work in my own power—using my own limited resources and strategies. The apostle Paul wrote, “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). Lives are transformed as we submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us. And we’re filled with an invisible power that sweeps through us—allowing us to more perfectly love God and others.

—Marlena Graves

Read Acts 1:8 and consider what happens when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit. 
In what areas of your life have you been working in your own strength instead of God’s power? How can tapping into the Holy Spirit’s power change you and your witness for Jesus? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: Empty Spaces

July 18, 2016 

READ: Ephesians 5:15-20  

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit (v.18). 

I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit is attracted to empty spaces. Let me explain...

We see Him first, in the book of Genesis, hovering over the formless, empty world (Genesis 1:2). He filled the empty tabernacle with His presence (Exodus 40:34-35; 2 Chronicles 5:11-14). He filled Jesus, who emptied Himself of privilege (Matthew 3:13-16; Philippians 2:5-8). He filled the disciples at Pentecost, empty of pride after getting their view of Jesus so wrong (Acts 2:1-4). We’re to bring our thirsty souls to the Spirit so He can quench them (John 7:37-39). We’re to offer our empty bodies as His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). We’re not to fill our hearts with wine but to fill them with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The Spirit just loves to fill a vacuum!

If this is true, then it follows that there’s such a thing as holy emptiness—an emptiness reserved for Him. Sadly, however, my heart is often so full of things that there’s little space left for the Holy Spirit.

Wine isn’t the only thing vying with the Spirit for our emptiness. Pride, greed, bitterness and lust all compete to fill that space. Our worries, anxieties, dreams and plans can consume us, while entertainment, magazines and social media chatter can fill us with empty noise.

Is there space in our hearts for the Holy Spirit? Will we seek to be filled with and yield to His leading?

The good news is that we can.

Confession clears away sin and makes space for the Spirit, and forgiveness removes the blockage of bitterness (Colossians 3:13; 1 John 1:9). Worship empties our hearts of ourselves, and prayer makes space for His voice (Psalm 63:1-4; John 10:27-28).

May we submit to the Holy Spirit today, praying that He’ll pour into our empty spaces.

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day plan: John 6:22-40

Read Acts 4:8-12 and see the bold message Peter preached as he was “filled with the Holy Spirit”. 
What’s taking up space in your heart? How will you seek to clear away lesser things and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: Little Things

May 19, 2016 

READ: Luke 16:1-18  

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities (v.10). 

Reality TV and me? Not a good fit. No one is going to make a reality TV show about my life anytime soon. My life consists simply of loving and caring for my husband and daughters, working at my church part-time, doing some writing and trying my best to love others in my spheres of influence. From the world’s perspective, I’m not worthy of the bright lights.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not important to God or to those around me. I’m firmly convinced that living out the ordinary parts of life is sacred and special to Him. Being faithful in the unseen little things, in obscurity, is important (Luke 16:10). And it’s something God greatly values.

It can be easy to be on our best behaviour when we’re on the big screen, on a stage, out in public, at church or hanging around those who are mere acquaintances. As Jesus pointed out, it’s easy “to appear righteous in public” (v.15). The question is, who are we in private and obscurity? Jesus tells us that if we’re faithful in little things, then we’ll be faithful when we’re given “greater responsibilities”. If God can trust us when no one else is looking, He can rely on us when there are onlookers.

The world is constantly wooing us to conform to its standards, to do the things that will make us popular or famous. But God’s standard of measurement is far, far different. In fact, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees are helpful for us today: “What this world honours is detestable in the sight of God” (v.15).

We may never be celebrities, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t think of us as shining stars in His universe (Philippians 2:15 NIV). May we follow Him; and as He leads us, may we do the little and the big things well.

—Marlena Graves

365-day plan: Proverbs 4:1-27

Reflect on Isaiah 57:15. What kind of people does God choose for fellowship? 
Do you measure yourself and others according to God’s standards or the world’s? What little things will you do to honour God today? Why? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: ears to hear

January 30, 2016 

READ: Matthew 13:3-23 

Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand (v.9). 

Joanne Milne experienced the world as a soundless place. Deaf for the first 39 years of her life, everything changed after she had cochlear implant surgery. The procedure enabled sound vibrations to rouse her auditory nerves. A nurse’s voice was the first noise she heard, and the experience brought her to tears. She said, “Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. . . . I can already foresee how it’s going to be life-changing.”

Addressing His disciples, Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand” (Matthew 13:9). He was speaking about the disciples’ ability to understand the spiritual truths He shared through parables. Jesus often took time to explain the meaning of His stories, yet His followers were “permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, [while] others [were] not” (v.11). Others might hear the sound of His voice, but they wouldn’t truly take it in or comprehend it.

Jesus explained that this disparity was the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy (vv.14-15). Isaiah, who declared the prophecy, described the spiritually deaf this way: “The hearts of these people are hardened” (v.15). A hard heart can exist in those who know of Jesus if they repeatedly disregard His identity as God’s only Son (John 3:16).

Anyone who wants to make Christ the king of his or her life will have “ears to hear” the truth in His teaching. The Holy Spirit helps with this, guiding believers “into all truth” (16:13). Like Jesus’ original disciples, we who know Him are blessed to be able to hear what “many prophets and righteous people longed to . . . hear” (Matthew 13:17).

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day-plan: Genesis 49:1-33

Read 1 John 2:20-21 to see how the Holy Spirit enables spiritual discernment. 
When you encounter something in the Bible that doesn’t seem clear, what do you do? How often do you invite the Holy Spirit to help you understand the Bible? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)