ODJ: true fulfilment

August 9, 2013 

READ: Psalm 119:129-138 

The teaching of Your Word gives light, so even the simple can understand (v.130).

How many times have you, as I have, delved into sin—addiction, sexual impropriety, gossip, pride, unbridled anger, slothfulness and more—in an attempt to mask the pain of life? It’s so easy to respond to emptiness, disappointment or hurt by turning away from God’s commands.
We find, however, that sin never leads to the peace or lasting fulfilment we crave. Instead, as we take things into our own hands and disobey God, we find only heartache and perhaps even deep depression.

It may be hard to understand how God’s Word can bring satisfaction to our lives when we believe we’re missing out on a human relationship or some material comfort. But it’s only when we communicate with God and place our confidence in Him and His Word that we can experience peace that “exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:6-7) and contentment that defies circumstances (1 Timothy 6:6).

In Psalm 119, the psalmist—who experienced harassment, hunger, loneliness, suffering and enemy attacks—testifies that true encouragement is found in God’s Word. There’s so much to be gleaned from “the wonderful truths in [God’s] instructions” (v.18). Follow the psalmist’s lead by asking God to . . .

• Help you understand the meaning of His commandments (v.130).

• Create within you a desire for His Word (v.131).

• Keep you from being overcome by evil (v.133).

• Allow you to experience His unfailing love (v.135).

• Provide you with right directions for life because He is righteous (v.137).

• Equip you with wisdom that’s trustworthy (v.138).

Cry out to God. Turn to His Word. Only there will you find the peace and lasting fulfilment that only He can give. —Roxanne Robbins

› John 9:1-41

Read Psalm 119:81 and consider how you can “hope” in God and His Word today.  
Compare your trials with those faced by the writer of Psalm 119. What truths from God’s Word can help you face the challenges of today? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: multi-hat syndrome

August 6, 2013 

READ: Deuteronomy 10:12-22 

What does the Lord your God require of you? (v.12).

A pastor recently listed 36 different ‘hats’ he might wear. The roles included community activist, theologian, financial advisor and life coach. These roles evolved from the different needs of churchgoers. While it’s important for all of us to respond to others’ needs, if the demands consume us, we may begin to serve people instead of serving God.
To prevent this, we need to orient ourselves around what God desires from us. But what does God want from us? After posing this question to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 10:12), Moses announced this answer: “He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul” (v.12).

God wanted to be at the centre of the Israelites’ lives. They were to respect Him as the owner and creator of everything (v.14; Psalm 89:11). They were to “obey the Lord’s commands . . . for [their] own good” (Deut. 10:13). They were to love Him exclusively—to “cling to Him” (v.20).

Interestingly, their service to others, especially foreigners, was to be a reflection of God’s mercy and fairness to people who had significant needs (v.18). Everything in their lives was to flow from the person of God and their relationship with Him.

Is your life centred on God? Preacher Vance Havner said, “It’s ironic that people who work in God’s name often have the most difficulty finding time for Him. The parents of Jesus lost Him at church, and they weren’t the last ones to lose Him there.”

If you’re losing Jesus in your service for God, rekindle your relationship with Him. Renew your hope and confidence in the Lord today (Jeremiah 17:7-8). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read Psalm 63:4-8 for a snapshot of David’s devotion to God. See Micah 6:6-8 to see what God does and doesn’t want from us.  
Why isn’t it enough just to reshuffle our priorities when we feel overwhelmed? How can we avoid burnout by keeping Jesus at the centre of our lives? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: healed

July 23, 2013 

READ: Mark 8:22-38  

Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected. . . . He would be killed, but three days later He would rise from thedead (v.31).

But my theology and practice have often collided whenever I didn’t see God move in the way I expected. Recently, however, God unpacked a few more layers of understanding for me as I stepped forward to receive prayer for a torn meniscus at a youth service.

With teenagers gathered around me, I felt humbled to be the recipient of their prayers—especially since so many of them struggle to believe their prayers are valid or desired. But the greatest honour came as I heard the prayers of a 27 year old woman on our youth ministry team. In her life, God’s answer to cancer had come through a mastectomy, not miraculous deliverance. Profoundly moved as she prayed about my need, I saw in that moment the greatness of God and the complexity of His ways. My minor torn meniscus, her life and death battle, and one faithful God. Prayer is a place of deep privilege.

Romans 11:33-34 reminds us that God’s ways stand far above anything we can comprehend. But there are some things we can definitively know about healing:

• Jesus’ death and resurrection restores our brokenness (Isaiah 53:5, 61:1-3; Matthew 11:2-5).

• Jesus’ triumph did not exclude suffering(Isaiah 53:3-4; Mark 8:31).

• God does not reject but rather welcomes and encourages our requests for miraculous intervention (James 5:13-18).

Just as the blind man in Mark 8 didn’t receive his healing the same way as others who had been healed, so too do our stories vary in the ways God works out His plans for our lives.—Regina Franklin

Read Isaiah 59:1-2, Matthew 13:57-58, James 4:3 and 1 John 3:22. According to these passages, what are some of the things we must address before bringing our needs to the Lord?  
What life experiences have shaped your understanding of God’s healing power? How do your ideas line up with Scripture? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: leftovers

July 9, 2013 

READ: Deuteronomy 24:19-21 

There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need (15:11).

According to a study released in August 2012,Americans throw away 40 percent of their food every year, valued at roughly $165 billion annually. The average American throws away 240 pounds (110 kg) of edibles per person every year. Just a 15 percent reduction in this amount would feed 25 million people annually.

God promised to bless the Israelites if they would simply obey Him. They would always have had enough food to eat (Leviticus 26:3-5; Deuteronomy 28:1-8). In the midst of their plenty, however, the Israelites were told to deliberately “waste food”: “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it” (Deuteronomy 24:19). “Do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground” (Leviticus 19:10). Why the deliberate waste?

The Jews were to leave some of the food “for the foreigners, orphans and widows” so that the poor and the vulnerable would not go hungry (Deuteronomy 24:19). God reminded them of the hunger that their ancestors had experienced as slaves in Egypt (v.22).

Today, one out of every seven people is starving(925 million total). Sharing food with them should include not wasting it ourselves and sharing our abundance with the poor. God’s solution to hungry stomachs is the generous hearts and open hands of those who believe in Him (15:4-11).

“Feed Me,” Jesus tells us. But we ask, “Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You?” “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’ ” (Matthew 25:35-40).—K.T. Sim
Mark 4:1-29 ‹

Read Deuteronomy 15 to see how God wants us to care for the poor, needy and vulnerable in the world. What’s one thing you can do for people such as these? 
What can you do to lessen the wasting of food? How can you help to feed the hungry in your community?  

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)