ODJ: true

August 11, 2013 

READ: Luke 24:36-53  

Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder (v.41).

A groom stands at the end of the aisle, transfixed by his beautiful bride in her white, flowing gown. As they exchange their rings and say their marriage vows, the groom thinks to himself, This is too good to be true! In another corner of the world, a nurse places a newborn child in her mother’s arms. As the mum lovingly gazes at the pink face and tiny fingers, she’s filled with joy and wonder.
I believe this is how the disciples felt when their beloved Lord Jesus appeared before them in the upper room. “They stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder” (Luke 24:41). It was too good to be true, but it was true—Jesus was alive. He had risen from the grave!

One of the strongest proofs of the resurrection is the fact that the disciples had a hard time believing it at first. If they had immediately believed that Jesus was risen, we might think that their testimony of the resurrection had been tainted by their deep desire.

But Jesus offered the disciples His hands, feet and side for them to examine as further proof that His body was real (vv.39-40). He also ate a broiled fish before them (vv.42-43).

It’s true that Jesus died for our sins. He was raised bodily from the dead, and He offers forgiveness and eternal life to every sinner as a free gift. Even though we can be tempted to doubt it at times, its validity is detailed in God’s Word (vv.44-46).

Let’s go and proclaim the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and the good news: “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent” (v.47). Hallelujah! —Poh Fang Chia

Read Isaiah 49:6 and Micah 4:1-2 to see what the Old Testament declared about the gospel and where it would go.  
How has the Lord shown Himself to be real to you? Who can you share the good news with this week? 

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ODJ: with the Lord

July 26, 2013 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 

Since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died (v.14).

Everyone wants to know what heaven will be like,and over the past several years a spate of books have promised to tell them. Don Piper was first with his 90 Minutes in Heaven. Following that bestseller, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real were published and enthusiastically received by readers. One book went in the opposite direction—literally—23 Minutes in Hell.

These books that claim to provide firsthand accountsof the afterlife have encouraged many, but I’ll limit my words to what we find in Scripture. Read Luke 23:43,2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:21-23 and1 Thessalonians 4:14, and you’ll discover that one thing Scripture says about heaven is that it’s where we’re with the Lord. This is enough, because the presence of the Lord is what makes heaven ‘heaven’. Why wasn’t Lazarus upset when Jesus raised him from the dead? Why didn’t he complain? I think he may have been glad to come back to life because Jesus was there. Lazarus’ house in Bethany had become a corner of heaven.

We get another glimpse of heaven in Revelation 6:9-11. John writes of the martyred saints shouting to the Lord, “How long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood?” They’re not suffering, for they’ve been delivered from the grasp of sin. But they aren’t entirely satisfied either. As great as it is to be a disembodied soul in heaven, there’s something even better: to be a whole person living on Earth.

And so these saints pray for the return of Jesus and the resurrection of their bodies. Let’s join them in the closing prayer of Scripture, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).—Mike Wittmer
› Matthew 18:10-22

Read Revelation 21-22 to learn what will happen when Jesus returns to Earth.  
What burning question do you have about heaven? Why do you think Scripture doesn’t answer it? What should you do withthis question?  

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ODJ: drowned by love

June 22, 2013 

READ: 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 

We have all been baptised into one body by one Spirit (v.13).

One of my deep joys as a pastor has been to baptise both of my sons. I have a picture taken just before I went into the baptismal pool with one of my boys. I’m crouched down, eye to eye. I don’t remember what I was saying, but I remember the tears. God was pouring grace on my son, and my church was welcoming him into its fold.

Baptism is a visceral, physical moment. It contains mysteries, for sure, but God intends for grace to be tangible—something experienced. Baptism provides a moment when we encounter the love of Christ, and we remember that Jesus went to a cross and into a grave for us. As we emerge from the water, we remember that He rose from the grave victorious. God has joined us to Jesus, and we are truly alive.

To be baptised offers another physical reality, however. It joins us not only to Jesus but also to His church. Baptism expresses our personal decision, but it does much more. In baptism, God’s grace surrounds us; and in baptism, God joins us to the new creation community that the Scripture speaks of as the body of Christ—the church (1 Corinthians 12:12).

Paul told the Corinthians that through the work of God’s Spirit they were being made into a new kind of community, a new way of living, a new way of being human. Where once there had been Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, they were now known as God’s people and Jesus’ body (v.13).

Baptism tells the story of individual lives set free through Jesus’ work, but it also tells the story of new communities of grace and truth coming to life through that work. Our prayer is that the whole world—and every community—would be drowned in the love of God.—Winn Collier

Read Romans 6:1-14. What does baptism do for us? What story does baptism tell? 
Where do you need to allow the grace and love of God to ‘drown’ you? How can we help create communities by living out the calling of our baptism? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: 40 days

May 29, 2013 

READ: Acts 1:1-9 

During the forty days after His crucifixion, [Jesus] appeared to the apostles . . . and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive. And He talked to them about the kingdom of God (v.3).

Forty is a significant number in the Bible. The great flood of Genesis was the result of 40 days of rain (Genesis 7:4). Moses was with God for 40 days receiving the Law (Exodus 24:18). Spies explored the land for 40 days (Numbers 13:25). The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years (32:13). Jonah warned of judgement in 40 days (Jonah 3:4). Jesus was tempted for 40 days as He began His ministry (Luke 4:2), and He appeared to the disciples for 40 days as He concluded it (Acts 1:3). So one Bible teacher suggests that when you see the number 40 in Scripture, it means that God is doing something significant.

Jesus didn’t return to heaven immediately after His resurrection. What did He do in His last 40 days on earth?

• He continued to teach God’s Word, “giving His chosen apostles further instructions” (v.2). Teaching God’s Word remained Jesus’ priority. 

• He “proved to them . . . that He was actually alive” (v.3). On Easter Sunday He appeared to Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:1-9), the two disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35) and to 10 disciples (vv.36-43). A week later He appeared to the 11 disciples (John 20:26-32) and several disciples by the Sea of Galilee (21:1-25). Paul wrote of six other appearances, once to more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).

• He “talked to them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). He affirmed His disciples’ expectation of a literal physical kingdom on earth. But He corrected their preoccupation on the timing of the kingdom (vv.6-7).

• He commanded His disciples to be His witnesses, “telling people about me everywhere” (v.8).

Just as Jesus prepared for His ministry for 40 days (Luke 4:2), so for 40 days the risen Jesus prepared His followers for theirs. He wanted His disciples to tell people everywhere about Him.—K.T. Sim

Read John 21:1-19 to see how Jesus prepared Peter for ministry.
What does it mean for you to be a witness for Jesus? (Acts 1:8). Who can you tell about Jesus this week?

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)