ODJ: What We Value

July 30, 2016 

READ: Psalm 119:97-112  

How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey (v.103). 

Abe lived in a country that was closed to the message of Jesus. We became friends in the first month I lived there, and he soon asked me to teach him the Bible. He gave his life to Christ during our second Bible study, and he eagerly devoured whatever I could teach him.

The next year I went home and then returned to Abe’s country with a new Study Bible. Abe’s face lit up when he unwrapped his present. He clutched his new Bible to his chest and promised that the precious book would “never touch the ground”.

I was overjoyed by his response, but also ashamed to think of how I had often treated my own Bible. I had tossed it on a table, piled other books on top of it and had even occasionally set it on the floor. While none of these things are technically sinful, Abe’s response reminded me that I needed to value Scripture even more.

Psalm 119 reveals the psalmist’s love for God’s instructions. He said that he rejoiced in them “as much as in riches” (v.14). God’s “instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver” (v.72). “Truly, I love your commands more than gold, even the finest gold” (v.127).

The author gushed over what God has revealed in Scripture because it’s his access to Him. He wrote, “I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord; therefore, I obey your instructions” (v.55). David clung to the Scriptures because they provided the path to life. “You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope” (v.114).

God is bigger than any book. We don’t worship the Bible, so we shouldn’t feel guilty when we stuff it into our backpack. But the Bible does reveal God and His ways to us. How we handle—and more importantly, how much we read—the Scriptures speaks volumes about what we think about Him.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day plan: John 8:21-59

Read Deuteronomy 6:1-25 to learn why it’s important to meditate often on Scripture. 
How often do you read the Bible? Why is it vital that we take in its wisdom on a regular basis? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: not fiction

November 29, 2015 

READ: 2 Peter 1:16-21 

You must realise that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. . . . They spoke from God (vv.20-21). 

Recently a shop that’s part of a huge retail chain labelled its Bibles as “Fiction”. A pastor shopping for a gift came across the Bibles and saw “Fiction” written on the price tag. So he took a photo and posted it on social media with the comment: “[Name withheld] has Bibles for sale under the genre of FICTION. Hmm.” The retailer has since apologised, saying the Bibles were mislabelled and the mistake had been corrected.

You wouldn’t ever find the apostle Peter making a similar mistake. He was emphatic that he didn’t create cleverly invented fiction, but wrote from the real-life angle of his eyewitness experiences (2 Peter 1:16-18). “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendour with our own eyes” (v.16). In other words, the Bible is grounded on historical truth.

At the transfiguration God affirmed Jesus as His Son. Philip said, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus” (Matthew 17:1-9; John 1:45). And whatever the prophets wrote, it wasn’t the product of the authors’ “own understanding or from human initiative” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of what was written, the human authors were “moved by the Holy Spirit”—the divine Author (v.21). In fact, the Holy Spirit guided different people of diverse backgrounds to reveal God’s inspired truth (Numbers 22:38; Jeremiah 1:6-7; Amos 7:14-15; Luke 1:1-4). So as he wrote of the power and trustworthiness of Scripture, Peter affirmed their authority to speak into our lives.

—K.T. Sim

365-day-plan: Ephesians 1:3-23

What do John 5:39, John 6:63 and 2 Timothy 3:16 say about the authority and application of Scripture? 
How can you know with certainty that the Bible is God’s Word? Why is it important not to simply know the Scriptures but also to apply them? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: wise words

October 11, 2015 

READ: Proverbs 16:20-30 

From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive (v.23). 

In April 2014 a blogger was sentenced to 3 years in prison for slander and spreading online rumours. He was the first among hundreds of bloggers detained in a crackdown on internet rumours being spread in social media. The authorities said that the arrests were aimed at maintaining social order, but rights groups saw this crackdown as an attempt to limit freedom of speech online. There continues to be much discussion, debate and disagreement on the uses and abuses of social media, not only over what’s been blogged but also in the way words have been used.

In Proverbs 16 the wise person is contrasted with the unwise. The way people talk can reveal a lot about them. It’s often through words that a person is exposed as wise or foolish.

The wise person discerns and knows when and how to speak a timely word. “From a wise mind comes wise speech” (v.23), for “the wise are known for their understanding” (v.21). They’re called “discerning” (v.21 NIV). The wise person speaks careful, appropriate, pleasant and gracious words that persuade and instruct—bringing encouragement and life to the hearer (vv.21-24). “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” In contrast, a foolish person is controlled by a tongue that destroys, divides and deceives (vv.27-29).

Whether having a conversation face to face or blogging in the social media, the words we choose are reflections of who we are and of the God we serve. Paul wrote, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29). Wise words flow from God. May we follow His lead in all we say today.

—K.T. Sim

365-day-plan: Acts 4:5-22

Read James 3:2-11 and consider what it says about the power of words. 
Go to someone in need of encouragement. What pleasant words can you say to him or her? How can you honour God better with your speech? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: living wisely

June 14, 2015 

READ: James 3:13-18 

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honourable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom (v.13). 

Your Work Is Not Your Life.” “Burnout to Flourishing.” These recent magazine article titles reflect our need to find wisdom that can help us live well.

Whether it’s making decisions at work or dealing with personal trials, time and time again we experience the pressing need to be wise. The pursuit of wisdom, however, is often confused with the pursuit of gaining more knowledge. Reading books, attending classes or pursuing higher education may prove helpful, but one doesn’t naturally become wiser from these things. And while experience may count, age doesn’t necessarily translate to wisdom. Something else is required.

The Bible tells us it’s the “fear of the LORD” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). Bible teacher Lawrence E. Toombs explains, “Wisdom is to be found with God, and nowhere else; and unless the quest for wisdom brings man to his knees in awe and reverence, knowing his own helplessness to make himself wise, wisdom remains for him a closed book.”

We understand why if we look at what true wisdom looks like. In James 3:17, the apostle lists seven marks of the wisdom that comes from God. These verses show us that being wise isn’t a matter of intellectual capacity, but an attitude, a character trait and essentially, a life reflecting Jesus that flows from Him. It’s the fruit of someone who walks with God, fearing Him and being led into wisdom as He leads.

To navigate successfully through life, making decisions that honour God requires that we seek the Source of all wisdom. As James exhorts, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” (James 1:5). Yes, call out to God; He alone can give you the wisdom to live wisely for Him.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day-plan: Luke 2:41-52

Read Job 28:12-28 and note what Job says is the key to obtaining wisdom. 
Where have you been looking for wisdom? How does the “fear of the LORD” lead to truly wise thinking? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)