Healthy Snacks For The Soul

Day 135

Matthew 27:51-56 “How We Live & Die”

The death of Jesus rocked this world. The veil between the holy of holies and the rest of the temple was torn in two, the earth shook, and the rocks split. Tombs opened and many were raised from the dead and after the resurrection, appeared to many. At His death, the centurion guarding Him said, “…’Truly this was the son of God.’” (54b). It was not only the way Jesus lived that revealed Who He was, but the way He died. A group of women ministered to Him even til His death. Everything about the life and the death of Jesus contained supernatural elements. As witnesses of Jesus, we must reflect these supernatural elements so we properly represent Christ. This we do in the way we live and the way we die. There is something very powerful about how we handle adversity and death.

Exodus 19:18-25 “Fascination or Communication?

Israel’s encounter with God at Mount Sinai was dramatic and frightening. God came on the mountain as fire creating smoke, a trumpet sounded, the mountain trembled at His presence and the people heard His thundering voice to Moses. God warned Moses: “…’Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.’” (21b). God did not come to Israel for their curiosity (gaze), but to communicate with them! Now we have the great privilege of coming into God’s presence by Jesus, not for curiosity or fascination, but to hear His life transforming word. May God give us the wisdom to approach Him for transformation by communication and not for satisfying our curiosity or fascination for our entertainment. As Hebrews comments on these events, it concludes by saying, “for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29).

Day 134

Exodus 19:1-17 “God’s Treasure!”

In the wilderness God instructed Moses to prepare His people to meet with Him. First, God pointed out what He had done for them in Egypt, then He declared they were His treasure, and finally He revealed His special purpose for them.. “‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession [special treasure] among all the peoples,…. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’…” (5-6a). In order for us to realize God’s special purpose and plans for our lives, we must first know how He values us. We are His Special Treasure. We are not special by any inherent gift, talent or other characteristic of worth, but because of what He did for us. We are able to go forward in God’s purpose only when we are fully aware we are treasured by God!

Day 133

Exodus 18 “Promoting God or Self?”

Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-law, heard of what God did for Israel and came out to meet him. When Moses heard, he went to meet him. After affectionate greetings, they went to the tent and Moses testified to Jethro of all God did in delivering them from Egypt, their hardships, and how He delivered them from them all. His testimony glorified God moving Jethro to rejoice, present a burnt offering [wholly for God] and to celebrate with a meal. Jethro said, “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods;…” (11a). Some testimonies are constructed to bring attention to self, generate sympathy for self or glorify self. How do people react to our testimony? Like Moses, may we know how to generate genuine praise, worship, joy, and an increased understanding of God. Does our testimony promote God or ourselves!

Matthew 27:27-44 “Destiny in Our Death”

All events leading up to and including the crucifixion, were filled with mocking and pain. Some people turned His own words against Him. They said, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.” (42) Jesus did not yield to His mockers, but entrusted this moment of darkness to His Father in heaven. While they were belittling Him, they were actually laying a foundation for His ultimate exaltation. May God give us wisdom in our dark places to see that our destiny is not in our enemy’s hands, but in the God who is quietly preparing us for greater things. What looks like our devastation, God uses for our promotion! The death of the flesh allows for the life of the Spirit! Remember it is not what we see that will be.

Day 132

Exodus 17:8-16 “Stay Connected!”

Amalek saw Israel as vulnerable during their travel in the wilderness and came against them in Rephidim. So Moses told Joshua to choose men and fight while he would go to the hill with the staff of God. While Moses held the staff up, Israel prevailed, but when his hands went down, Amalek prevailed. The best of leaders need the support of those close to them. Isolation of leaders is not only bad for them, but for all they lead! Aaron and Ur came along side Moses to steady Moses’ heavy hands until they defeated their enemy. May all who lead be connected to those who can assist them when their hands get heavy. God’s people are otherwise vulnerable.

Matthew 27:15-26 “Volume or Truth?”

Pilate knew the Jewish leaders turned Christ over because of envy and his wife had received a dream troubling her. She warned him about Jesus. So he put forward a notorious prisoner and asked the crowd to pick one for release. The crowd, influenced by the Jewish leaders, asked for Barabbas. Then Pilate asked what to do with Jesus and the crowd called for His crucifixion. Pilate asked what evil he had done. “…But they kept SHOUTING [emphasis mine] all the more, saying, ‘Crucify Him!’” (23b) Voices are often raised not to emphasized truth, but to demand one’s own desire. There is no argument that will prevail over an emotional crowd or individual. A passionate cry is not necessarily reflective of a commitment to truth, but may be a commitment to wanting things ones own way. If the argument falls short, then raise the volume of demands.

Day 131

Matthew 27:11-14 “Silence Can Be Powerful!”

Pilate’s question was a bit sarcastic: “…’Are You the King of the Jews?’” (11b). Jesus claimed to be King of those putting Him forward to be killed. Jesus’ answer was also a bit sarcastic: “…And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say.’” (11c). Yet, Jesus remained silent refusing to answer any of the accusations of the Jewish leaders. Pilate was amazed at Jesus’ silence. When falsely accused, sometimes silence speaks more loudly than words. Jesus’ silence reflected a deep seated confidence His Father’s will. There are times when silence is more powerful than the best constructed defense or argument. May God give us wisdom and strength to identify and embrace those times.

Exodus 17:1-7 “Arguing or Serving?

Israel traveled through the wilderness as God directed them. Though led by God, they still encountered trials. At Rephidim, there was no water. Not turning to God, they quarreled and grumbled against Moses attacking his motivation. At first, Moses quarreled back, but then turned to God fearing for his own life. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pass before the people………….Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock of Horeb; and you shall strike, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink,…” (5a-6a). As leaders, it is important not to quarrel with the people, but provide an example of turning to God in trials. We are not called to argue with people, but to “…pass before the people…” to be an example and serve their needs as God enables us!

Day 130

Exodus 16:22-36 “Sabbath, A Gift from God”

Moses instructed the people to collect two days supply of manna on the sixth day. Previously, if they kept it beyond a day, it turned foul and had worms. God was teaching His people the value of obedience and ‘daily dependence.’ When teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus said: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11). Yet, on the sixth day they collected twice as much for the Lord was blessing them. The Sabbath was given at creation before sin entered this world. God said to Moses, “…’How long do you refuse to keep my commandments? See, the LORD has given you the sabbath;…” (28b-29a). This gift of setting aside a day to the Lord, and we do not benefit from violating it. Let us learn the value of honoring God’s word by honoring the day of the Lord.

Matthew 27:1-10 “God Prevails Over Injustice!”

“Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death;” (1) When these leaders were plotting to kill Jesus, they were not concerned about justice, but of getting rid of His interference with their agenda. In their passion to get rid of Him, they employed Judas who betrayed Him. When he realized they condemned Jesus, he regretted what he had done and killed himself. When he threw the 30 pieces of silver into the temple, these leaders said: “…’It is not lawful to put them in the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” (6b). It is ironic that the same people who went against the law to kill Jesus, are now concerned about keeping a minor detail of the law. The bottom line is, they were not concerned about justice, but what was most beneficial in maintaining their positions of power and privilege. Yet, even in this great injustice, we rest in the reality that God’s perfect will prevailed! “Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:…” (9a). Evil motives do not trump God’s will!

Day 129

Exodus 16:1-21 “Grumbling Clouds Perception”

A month into their journey, Israel began grumbling due to hunger. They even attacked Moses’ and Aaron’s motives. They went from heroes to villains in one month. Moses and Aaron were the same, but grumbling altered their perceptions of them. God desired to test and teach them. He gave them manna to teach daily dependence. If they kept it beyond the day, it became foul and full of worms. On the day before the Sabbath, they were to gather twice as much so they would have a Sabbath to the Lord. He also gave them meat in the evening. “…’At evening you will know the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD,…’” (6b-7a). Let us be grateful, so our perception of God is accurate. He is our great provider and we must trust Him daily.

Matthew 26:69-75 “When Disappointed with Ourselves”

At this time of Jesus trial, Peter was accused of being with Jesus, but in fear claimed not to know what the servant-girl was talking about. When accused a second time, he made an oath that he did not know the man. When accused a third time, Peter employed cursing and swearing to prove he was not with Jesus. At this point a rooster crowed and he remembered what Jesus said to him. “…And he went out and wept bitterly.” (75c). Rarely do we know our weaknesses. However, when we are disappointed by our failures, we must remember Jesus’ words of encouragement and be confident in His great love for us!

Day 128

Exodus 15:27 “Times of Refreshing”

“Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters.” (27) After a their dramatic deliverance from Egypt and a time of testing in the wilderness, God led Israel to Elim. God knows we need an occasional oasis. He gives us times of refreshing by living waters. When our Lord leads us to an oasis, it is a good idea to “camp” near the water. May God grant us times of refreshing in His presence as we camp where He leads whether we are being tested or refreshed!

Matthew 26:55-68 “Defensive or Boldness?”

After years of effective public ministry, religious leaders now came to Jesus privately as though a criminal. He addressed this perplexing situation by saying, “But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” (56) Like Jesus, we face confusing, even troubling, situations. We must know they are not without purpose. The trial and conversation that followed reflected Jesus’ settled heart in God’s will. He was not defensive but bold regarding who He was, contributing to their false perceptions and triggering self-righteous anger. As a result, all His disciples fled. However, Jesus persisted in the path not freeing Him from this trial, but would seating Him on a throne of greater power. Let us not tangle in defensive words reflective of insecurity, but trust God in boldness knowing our ultimate destiny.

Day 127

Exodus 15:19-26 “The Way of Life & Healing”

Miriam’s song was a celebration of the supernatural deliverance of Israel from Egypt. But Israel went quickly from celebration to grumbling. God led them three days into the wilderness where there was no water. When they came to Marah [bitterness] the water was not drinkable. The people grumbled at Moses,but he cried out to God. God showed him a tree and he put it in the water and it became drinkable. While the grumbling produced unrest, calling on God produced refreshing and life giving water. We always have a choice when facing trials. We can complain and blame, or we can turn to God and receive life. There God established a promise. If they listen to His voice and adhere to His principles, they will know His healing. Calling on, and listening to God, is the way of life and healing.

Matthew 26:47-54 “God’s Word & Power in Times of Pain”

This was a difficult time for Jesus. One disciple betrayed him with a kiss and another failed to understand what was taking place and pulled out his sword cutting off the ear of the slave of the high priest. At this moment of pain, Jesus rebuked the disciple for this act of violence and clarified the nature of His kingdom and strategy: “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’” (52). This action reflected a failure to know God’s power, God’s Word and the essential purpose of God in this event. Let us cling to God’s purpose by knowing His word and His power.

Day 126

Exodus 15:1-18 “Praise the God of Our Past & Future!”

Moses and Israel celebrated their deliverance with a song. In the song they praise God for Who He is and what He did in powerfully delivering them from bondage. They sing, “The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.” (2). God leads them in lovingkindness and guides them in HIs strength. But their is another element in the song that is highly significant. They also declare the enemies of their future to be trembling in fear at word of what He has done. The song continues to declare God is as powerful in their future as He was in their past. We praise God for Who He is, what He has done, and what He will do for us as He has promised!

Matthew 26:36-46 “Jesus Struggled Too!”

At Gethsemane Jesus faced the most intense time of His life. He separated from the group of 12 and took Peter, James and John aside to pray. “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is DEEPLY GRIEVED [emphasis mine], to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’” (38) Jesus did not hide His struggle, but confessed it to them and invited them to stand with Him exhorting them to pray lest they fall to temptation. “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed,…” (39ab) We often miss the depth of Jesus grief and struggle in the flesh. Though His closest disciples let Him down, He was able to complete His task by humbly crying out to His Father in prayer. If we fail to see the depth of Christ’s struggle, we will fail to prayer when facing our own.

Day 125

Exodus 14:15-31 “God Revealed in Enemy Pursuit”

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.’” (15) Instructions given Moses, reveal his actions for the people, the people’s need to move forward. and God’s action for them. When we are pursued by enemies, we must not lose focus but keep moving forward. What does God expect of us? Be quiet, watch what He does, and keep moving. God caused a wind to blow providing a dry path through the sea with walls of water on the left and right. The same cloud providing leadership to them protected them from their enemies. In fact, God hardened their enemies hearts to pursue them so He could bury them in the Red Sea, and reveal Himself to both Egypt and to Israel. Just because our enemies pursue us, it does not mean God is against us. In fact, it becomes the very place for God to reveal Himself to us.

Matthew 26:26-35 “Father Knows Best!”

At the last supper, Jesus established what we call communion. From a natural point of view, it was a dark time where He would be betrayed by Judas, denied by all His disciples. and die on a cross. In this context Jesus did and said this: “…And when He had taken the cup and given THANKS [emphasis mine], He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’” (27-28). How is it our Lord, knowing about Judas betrayal, the desertion of His disciples and His death, was able to give thanks and point to future needs of His disciples. We are told in the book of Hebrews He looked beyond the cross to the JOY put before Him (Hebrews 12:2). Like our Lord Jesus, we must look beyond those who betray us, those who desert us, the pain of our cross, and see what God has for us on the other side of our suffering. Our Father knows, and always does, what is best for us!

Day 124

Exodus 14:1-14 “Trust God’s Leading!

When God led Israel out of Egypt, He had them turn back and camp in a place where they would look like they were confused. God’s leading is, at times, totally illogical from a human standpoint. Now they appeared trapped between the armies of Egypt and the Red sea. Now they were terrified and turned against Moses saying, “…’Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?…” (11b). God had put them in a place where both Israel and Egypt would see Who He was in power! God never leads us to a place without purpose. When we don’t fully understand, it is best to just be quite. “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (14)

Mathew 26:17-25 “Trusting God in Painful Places”

Jesus did not plan ahead for the Passover meal. On the first day of unleavened bread, His disciples asked where they should prepare the meal. At their inquiry, Jesus gave them orders and they obeyed. As evening approached, Jesus again spoke of being betrayed by one of them. As they all questioned about this, He identified Judas. He then said, “The Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man…” (24ab). God, at times, leads us into very painful places essential to our destiny. However, it is not our task to seek justice, but simply entrust it to our loving heavenly Father. We must learn to trust God’s leadership even when it leads to painful places.

Day 123

Exodus 13:17-22 “God Takes the Lead!”

God did not simply deliver Israel to go their own way, but led them every day of their journey. Though they left prepared for battle, he knew their weaknesses and did not take them the most direct way. God does not save us from our sins to do our own thing, but we become a part of His kingdom following His directives. The Lord went before His people in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” (22) God is not vague in leading His people, but gives direction both day and night. He does not need our ideas and we can trust His loving directives for our well-being resting completely in His loving care.

Matthew 26:14-16 “Greed and Deception”

It may be difficult to understand how Judas came to betray Jesus after being with Him and witnessing His teaching and miracle ministry. However, greed, or the love of money, is a very powerful deceptive force. Greed reflects a kind of discontentment that is the seedbed of deception. We must carefully guard against it, lest we become snared in it. Our society is filled with the Judas mentality who willingly forfeit their relationship with Christ for the acquisition of more in this life. May God guard our hearts from all forms of greed lest we fall prey to a Judas spirit.

Day 122

Exodus 13:1-16 “Celebrating with Purpose”

The consecration of first born sons (man and beast) were continual reminders of when and how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. “Moses said to the people, ‘REMEMBER [italics for emphasis] this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD bought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten.’ “ (3) We need constant reminding of what God did for us, and how He did it. Our gatherings as a church should be filled with worship reflective of what God has done for us and the great power He exercised for our freedom. The feast of unleavened bread was a seven day event concluding with a gathering for a feast to the Lord. By celebrating what God has done for us in the past, we are kept mindful of the power He will exercise to secure our future.

Matthew 26:6-13 “Costly Worship Misunderstood”

When a woman came and poured a costly bottle of perfume on Jesus’ head, the disciples were disturbed thinking it a great waste. Today many view costly worship of Christ a waste thinking “practical” concerns should have priority. This act of worship prepared Jesus for His great work of our salvation. Costly expressive worship often reflects a deep understanding of the greatness of what God has done through His Son and the price paid for it. God’s great work on our behalf demands expressions of worship which are costly and, at times, misunderstood.

Day 121

Exodus 12:42-51 “Celebrations & Circumcision”

The passover was a celebration “…for the LORD,…” (42b). The NLT version says, “…belongs to him,…”. Too many of our celebrations are about us. Yet, when the Lord is honored as the center of our celebrations, our focus is on him and we become healthy. This kind of celebration returns our focus to our Redeemer thus keeping us in a productive place. Self-centered celebrations cause us to loose a healthy focus. A critical condition of celebration is circumcision, or the cutting away of flesh. Any reliance on flesh distracts us from a healthy focus on Christ. If we fail to have circumcised hearts, God is not properly honored and we fall short of His purposes. Lord, circumcise our hearts and help us focus our celebrations on You!

Matthew 26:1-5 “Contrasting Concerns”

Jesus final days were given to equipping His disciples to handle the disappointment of His soon coming death, and to survive the deceptions of the last days. While He embraced the cross and was concerned for those He served, religious leaders sought to silence Him by death to preserve their places of power and privilege. When religious leaders seek to preserve power and privileges, they stand in contrast to the nature of Christ. May God give us leaders who are concerned for the well-being of the church above their desire for personal power and privilege.

Day 120

Exodus 12:23-42 “Remembering & Teaching”

Israel was spared the loss of their first born not because they were better people than the Egyptians. No, it was because they honored the word of the Lord to apply the blood of the passover lamb to their door posts and its lentil. Because of this horrific plague, Pharaoh commanded them to leave Egypt as Moses had said without concession regarding their separation. The feast of Passover was to be observed annually as a memorial and a teaching tool for coming generations. Though there seemed to be a delay, God kept His word. When we celebrate memorials to God’s works for us, our faith is steadied in troubled times and we have opportunity to teach our children and grandchildren of God’s faithfulness.

Matthew 25:31-46 “Loving the King’s Family”

At Christ’s return He divides all peoples into two groups, but not by ethnicity, intelligence, talents or church. They are divided by their treatment of Christ. When the righteous are rewarded, they ask, “…When did we see You hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink?.” (37b). The King’s response surprises them: “…’Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me.’” (40b). To those sent to hell with the devil, it was their lack of these caring attributes as revealed in how they treated God’s people. How we treat our King’s family, is how we are treating the king. Our praise of the king can be overshadowed by our lack of caring for His family.

Day 119

Exodus 12:14-22 “Celebration, Memory Medication”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to last seven days beginning with the Passover. “Now this day shall be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD;…” (14a) This was a feast that would bring them to the Lord and remind them of what He had done for them. It was to be permanent! The feast was to be hedged with holy days of assembling with no one doing any work except what they prepare to eat. It is essential for us to set significant times aside to remember what the Lord has done for us. We so easily forget. The nature of this celebration was designed by God to keep them mindful of Who He is and What He has done for them. Setting times aside to celebrate to God are essential to our spiritual health reminding us of God’s loving acts on our behalf. Celebrations are a medication for our spiritual memory!

Matthew 25:14-30 “How Do We See God?

The parable of the talents shows we are accountable for what God has given us. We each receive according to our ability to be invested on behalf of our Master. Two of the slaves invested and profited for their master. To them it was said, “…’Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” (21b & 23b). However, one slave, in fear hid the money viewing his master as a hard and unreasonable. To this man the master said, “…’You wicked, lazy slave,…’” (26b). Then the master revealed the hypocrisy of his assertions. If we view God as unreasonable or hard, we cannot make good use of what He entrusts to us. But if we see God as merciful and loving, we can serve God in faithfulness.

Day 118

Exodus 12:1-13 “Celebrating the Past & Moving Forward”

This tenth judgment of God distinguished Israel from Egypt. The separation was marked by a new calendar and observance of Passover. The blood of the lamb applied to the door separated them from God’s wrath. Careful attention to detail was given in the consumption of the meal. They were to eat in haste having dressed to travel. When we come to Jesus, our passover lamb, everything is about to change. Yes, we are separated from God’s judgment, but we begin a journey separating us from this ungodly world and moving forward in God’s kingdom. We can only move forward when we release our attachments to this world, embrace Christ as King, and continue celebrating what God has done for us in Him. Celebrating God’s past works on our behalf, is key to moving forward in His kingdom.

Matthew 25:1-13 “Give Us More, Lord?”

Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins illustrates our need to be prepared for His return. Ten virgins went to meet their bridegroom, but five were foolish and five were wise. “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took NO OIL [emphasis mine] with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.” (3-4) Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The foolish think, “we have enough!” But the wise value their need for the Holy Spirit and seek God for more! Many want a measure of the Spirit, but ridicule those who seek God for more of His oil. We cannot get oil from those who have pursued more, but must go to God for ourselves. May we have a passion to be filled with His Spirit so we are ready for His return. Give us more, Lord!

Day 117

Exodus 11:1-10 “Essential Multiplied Wonders”

In this last plague, Pharaoh would release Israel. Death would come to the first born of every man and beast, but Israel would not suffer this at all. Sin inevitably brings death, but Jesus frees us from slavery to sin, satan, this ungodly world, and self. God reminds Moses: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, SO THAT [italics mine] My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’” (9). Without supernatural demonstrations of the Spirit, this world is without an effective revelation of Who God is! It is, therefore, essential for us to seek God so He may demonstrate through us Who He is by multiplying wonders among us.

Matthew 24:45-51 “Serving Others or Self-Serving?

Jesus distinguishes two types of slaves (God’s people). The first, is conscious of his master’s return embracing responsibility to serve others until his master comes. He is greatly rewarded. The second, thinks his master will not return for a long time and is reckless. He mistreats fellow slaves and misbehaves hanging around evil influences. He is surprise by his master’s return and given a hypocrites reward in a place of eternal torment. Are we serving or self-serving?

Day 116

Exodus 10:21-29 “Don’t Undermine Consecration!”

Because of the plague of darkness, Pharaoh called Moses to let them go making a concession from previous demands: “…’Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.’” (24b). This may seem like a better deal, but by leaving there animals behind, Pharaoh was seeking to maintain his grip on them so he could pull them back into slavery. Again, when we come to Christ we can not afford to leave any attachments to this world. We be wise and not negotiate our separation from this world, but be entirely consecrated to God. Negotiation of separation undermines consecration and thus gives our enemy a tool to pull us back into slavery to his will.

Matthew 24:36-44 “Speculating or Alert?”

It is surprising so many speculate regarding Jesus’ return. “But about that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (36). This is further illustrated in Noah’s flood. Everyone was carrying on like normal when suddenly they were swept away in judgment. The same will be true of life when the Lord returns. Many will be living normal lives when they are suddenly taken in judgment. A thief does not announce his arrival, so homeowners are always alert so as not to be taken by surprise. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” (44) We are not called to speculate about Christ’s return, but to be always alert!

Day 115

Exodus 10:7-20 “Don’t Negotiate Separation!”

In spite of the threat of Locust upon Egypt, Pharaoh refused to let Israel go. His servants begged him because of the devastation on Egypt. So Pharaoh brought Moses back asking who would go. Moses declared everyone and everything would go! Pharaoh said no, but only the men could separate for worship. This is Pharaoh’s first, of several attempts, to negotiate Israel’s degree of separation. As long as our enemy can negotiate our separation from this ungodly world [our Egypt], he maintains control over us. We must come to Christ in total surrender and abandonment of this world. We realize the enemy does not want us to radically surrender to God, for he then loses the benefits of our serving him. Let us not leave an anchor in this ungodly world of negotiated separation, but enter into a place of total freedom to worship God and enjoy His kingdom.

Matthew 24:29-35 “With What Are We Busy?”

The day of our Lord’s return is visible to all. For those who do not know Christ, it will be a dark day of judgement. But to those who know Jesus and look forward to His return, it will be a day of great joy being gathered to Him for all time. Jesus’ return will be a surprise to all on earth busy with life as usual. But to those who fear God and know His word, they will be busy serving God’s people. For the first group it will be a scary day of punishment, but to those who are serving Christ it is a time of great celebration and reward. They question for us is this: Are we busy with life or are we busy with serving God and His people.

Day 114

Exodus 10:1-6 “Why this Hardship?”

Why would God send Moses to speak knowing Pharaoh would not listen? “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that YOU MAY KNOW [italics mine] that I am the LORD.’” (1-2) God not only wants Israel to be free of Egypt, but to know, without question, who He is so they can pass it on to benefit generations to come. Our hardships may be Divine opportunities to see who God is so as to impact our children and their children too!

Matthew 24:15-28 “Advance Warning!”

Context is key in this passage. This is not subsequent to verses 4-14, but elaborates on them. “Therefore” points back to what has been said for our warning and equipping. “Therefore, when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoke of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are to flee to the mountains.” (15-16) Also, the phrase ‘let the reader understand,’ implies a certain diligence is needed to look beyond the surface of this prophetic word. Here we are not able to dig into this thoroughly, but Jesus is warning us against the ultimate idolatry. Any attachment to this world or what it offers, will make us vulnerable to enemy deception. “Behold, I have told you in advance.” (25) Let us heed this advance warning releasing all our attachments to this world and what it offers!

Day 113

Matthew 24:4-13 “Enduring in Love”

Regarding our Lord’s return, Jesus had a primary concern: “…’See to it that NO ONE misleads you.” (4b). He explains their will be many false influences claiming to be anointed by God. Others will be distracted by events such as war, famine and earthquakes which are not signs of the end. Also, horrific events such as persecution, tribulations and betrayal will cause many to fall away. Besides these, one more very powerful misleading influence arises. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (12-13) May God protect us from the winds of lawlessness, persist in love, and take the gospel of His rule to the world! While many speculate about Christ’s return, may God protect us from distractions gracing us to persist in love and complete our mission!

Day 112

Exodus 9:1-17 “God’s Purpose in Pharaoh’s Resistance”

Before each plague, Moses was told by the Lord to go tell Pharaoh to “…’Let My people go that they may serve me…’” (1c &13c). Yet, each time, He also told Moses Pharaoh would refuse to do so as He had already told him. When Moses obeyed God, He must have wondered why God would ask such a thing. We need to honor God’s voice even when we do not understand the why behind it. In the plague of the boils we are given the reason God tolerated Pharaoh’s existence. “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and to proclaim My name through all the earth.” (16) In Pharaoh’s resistance to God, there became opportunity for God to reveal to the world Who He Is! The entire world is made aware of Who God is when He demonstrates His power on behalf of His people for their freedom to serve Him.

Matthew 24:1-4 “Fortified for the Future”

Jesus’ grief in the rejection of the Jewish people was apparent to His disciples. It seems they sought to encourage Him by pointing out the beauty of the temple and all that symbolized God’s presence among them. But these great symbols provided Jesus no relief, for even these symbols of God’s presence would be destroyed. This prophetic declaration provoked the question in His disciples of when this would take place and when would the end of the age come. They saw the end of the age and the return of Christ as occurring synonymously. ”And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you.’” (4). His initial answer is a summary of the details that are to follow. They are not for our speculation, but for our fortification!

Day 111

Exodus 8:16-32 “Separation for Serving”

The first signs God gave to Moses were duplicated by Egypt’s magicians, but they were unable to duplicate the plague of the gnats. The magicians said to Pharaoh, “…’This is the finger of God.’” (19b). As before, the Lord spoke to Moses to tell Pharaoh, “…’Let My people go that they may serve me.’” (20c). At the plague of flies God separated His people from its impact. Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron saying, “…’Go, sacrifice to the your God WITHIN the land.’” (25b). The enemy of freedom always seeks to negotiate the degree of our separation. A little religion is ok, but don’t go too far. To fulfill God’s call to serve and worship Him, there can be no concessions given. Concessions in separation from this ungodly world always lead to a return to being enslaved by the king of this world, the devil. Through the grace given us in Christ, let us make no deal with the devil but be set apart completely so we my worship God freely and fully.

Matthew 23:37-39 “Love Disciplines”

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” (37) This verse is heart wrenching. The people of God rejected His messengers sent for their own well being. Still today many reject God’s messengers with corrective words, thinking He is interfering with their lives or stealing their joy. God’s words of correction are not for our judgment or punishment, but for our safety and well being. May God give us the wisdom to recognize our Father’s love in discipline. “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Proverbs 13:24; note also Hebrews 12:5-11).

Day 110

Exodus 8:1-15 “Know God’s Purposes in Delay”

“…Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.,…” (1b) With each plague upon Egypt we see God’s purpose for His people is to serve and worship Him. We must keep in mind that our salvation is not simply to be free from sin, satan, and an ungodly world. Our freedom is, first and foremost, to serve God alone. We were created for this and will not know true satisfaction until we are worshiping Him without reservation or hesitation. The plague of the frogs ceased at a timing that revealed who God was to Pharaoh. May our heart rest secure, though salvation is a process taking time, it will reveal Who God is to even our enemies and free us to serve Him.

Matthew 23:27-36 “Hypocrisy Is Outwardly Focused”

Jesus repeatedly refers to the Scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites. They were focused on outward appearance, but inwardly were full of the uncleanness of death. To others they seemed righteous, but inside were lawless refusing to be governed by God. They were like a nest of snakes inflicting poison who would not escape the sentence of hell. They failed to see and learn from history and would reject those God sends in the present with prophetic words of warning. When focused on outward forms or the appearance of righteousness, we cannot be transformed inwardly by God’s Word or His Spirit. This is why legalistic church focused on the outside, are rampant with much inward sinfulness and corruption. May God grace us not to fall into this trap.

Day 109

Exodus 7:14-25 “Freed to Serve God”

In the process of delivering God’s people, He instructed Moses to turn the water of the Nile into blood. What had been a blessing to Egypt, became useless and repulsive. God tells him Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn and will not let them go. Even in this great miracle, Pharaoh’s own sorcerers duplicated it so he refused to let them go. When freedom from bondage does not come instantly, we must not be discouraged thinking it is too difficult or our enemy too strong. God said through Moses, “…’Let My people go, that they may serve Me…’” (16b). In this process we see the degree of our bondage, so we are free to serve and worship God. We are not only freed from, but freed to move into our created purpose of worshiping and serving God.

Matthew 23:13-26 “Sincerity or Truth?”

“But woe to you, scribe and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people;…” (13a) This public denouncement of Jesus against religious leaders is a scary conclusion supported by many realities. Though they believed they were leading people in truth, they were leading them astray and became obstacles to God’s agenda. As hypocrites, they took advantage of the poor, pretended to be religious, made great efforts, but were blind guides to those seeking help. They distorted God’s word to put religious tradition above truth. They were industrious, hard working and sincere, but they were off track leading people to hell. They adhered to minute details, but totally missed what was truly important. Jesus strong words were not from anger, but from a deep compassion to see people saved. When sincerity is substituted for truth, people are led into hell.

Day 108

Exodus 7:1-13 “Power or Religious Forms?”

God instructed Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh and speak all that He commanded them. Yet, He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, “…that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in Egypt.” (2b). God desired to increase signs and wonders to reveal in Egypt Who He was. He would bring about great judgments to free His people to serve Him. Without the demonstration of the Holy Spirit in power, people are not brought into an understanding of Who God is. In fact, they are brought into an appearance of wisdom and self-made religion (Colossians 2:23) but denying the power of transformation (Romans 9:17, 12:1-2). Today we have some churches with great programs but are powerless in declaring Who God is and His ability to transform lives. Some of them, “…hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:5).

Matthew 23:1-12 “Whose the Greatest?”

Jesus warned His disciples about religious leaders who want to be recognized for position, seen as godly, loved to be honored, love positions of power, and want to be called by a title. While they may speak God’s word truthfully, inwardly they focus on how others perceive them. They desire to be exalted, and thus fail to serve effectively being more concerned with men’s perceptions than God’s approval. In contrast, truly great people seek to serve the real needs of others. “The greatest among you must be a servant…” (11)

Day 107

Exodus 6:10-30 “Obedience or Success?

When God told Moses to speak to Pharaoh, he objected due to past failures. How could he convince Pharaoh when he was unsuccessful in speaking to Israel. What God asked seemed unreasonable. After listing the tribes, God spoke to him again: “…’I am the LORD, speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.’” (29). God’s command was not based on who Moses was, but on Who God is! Yet Moses still objected, “…”Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?’” (20b). If we look carefully, God did not ask him to get Pharaoh to listen, but just to speak. When we hear God’s voice and obey His commands, it is enough. If we are focused on being successful, we will be timid, even resistant, to obedience.

Matthew 22:34-46 “Responding to Insincerity”

When the Pharisees heard how Jesus silenced the Sadducees, they put forward an expert to test Him. Jesus’ answer summarized two elements of the ten commandments by a call to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Then Jesus asked them a question that perplexed even these “experts” regarding whose son is the Messiah. When they said David, he asked why is it that David called him ‘Lord’. “No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask Him any more questions.” (46) Jesus’ always turned peoples’ insincere questions back on them. Refusing to answer insincere people without identifying their insincerity, Jesus put them in their place.

Day 106

Exodus 6:1-9 “Don’t Lose Focus!”

God responds to Moses prayer and concerns by saying, “…’Now you shall see what I shall do to Pharaoh;…’” (1b). The increased oppression of God’s people was a God created opportunity to reveal His power against their enemy. He then reminds Moses of the covenant promises He made with his forefathers. Then God tells Moses He had not previously revealed His name YHWH [I AM] to them, but is doing so now in their deliverance. Knowing Who God is provides faith for what He says He will do. Also, God restates His purpose in binging them into His promised land. Finally, He says, “…’I am the LORD.’” (8). In our afflictions, it is easy to forget Who God is and what He has said. Moses related God’s message, “…but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.” (9b). May God give us the grace so we do not lose focus on Who He is and what He promised!

Matthew 22:23-33 “God’s Word & Power!”

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, so they also posed a question intending to trap Jesus. However, instead of directly answering it, He first pointed out false presuppositions in their story and the reason for them. “…’You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God…’” (29b) Ignorance of God’s word and power results in false views built on faulty logic. Consequently, Jesus’ answer silenced their ignorance. Even today some exalt the need for God’s word, but operate in the church without understanding of, or desire for, God’s power. We need both a knowledge of God’s Word and God’s power less we fall into false views based on faulty reasoning.

Day 105

Exodus 5:10-23 “Who Do You Hear?”

After the voice of the deliverer, the voice of the oppressor was raised against them intensifying their slavery. When they complained to Pharaoh of their increased labor, he sought to blame the call to worship. Moses turned to God in prayer forgetting what God said would happen. When we heed God’s message, the devil will raise his voice to drown out God’s voice. We must remember the resistance of our oppressor is not a reflection of God’s lack of concern. It is, in fact, an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power so our faith does not rest in ourselves, but in Him and His power. When things get tough in our journey with God, whose voice do we listen to?

Matthew 22:15-22 “Don’t Be Prey of Insincerity!”

Seeking to trap Jesus, the Pharisees asked, “…’Teacher, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for you are not partial by any,’” (16b-17a). Insincerity in their question is revealed in by an insincere compliment. Jesus did not possess the sinful need for men’s approval and saw their real intention. Before answering, He exposed their motives and called them hypocrites. Then His answer by putting the burden of deciding on them. Jesus asked them to identify the image on the coin and they said Caesar’s. Then He said, “…’Then render to Caesar what is Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.’” (21b). Now they were on the spot! May God give us wise answers for those with insincere questions!

Day 104

Exodus 5:1-9 “Beware of Enemy Distractions”

There was an enthusiastic affirmative response to Moses from the people of God. So they approached Pharaoh asking him to release the people to obey God’s call to take a three day journey into the wilderness to celebrate a feast to Him. In fear of losing free labor, Pharaoh refused to let them go, attacked their motivation, and increased their labors. Why? “Let the labor be heavy on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay NO[emphasis mine] attention to false words.” (9) When we hear the gospel of freedom and call to worship, we have an enemy seeking to distract us from that message. This increased bondage is not a sign of God’s lack of concern for us, but a distraction of the devil leading to an opportunity for God to demonstrate His great power and love for us.

Matthew 22:1-14 “Dressed for the Occasion?”

After the king had made great preparations for the banquet, those invited ignored his invitation and some attacked those inviting them. No excuse was acceptable! Their rejection infuriated the king leading to sending invitations to everyone. Yet at the banquet, they found a man without wedding clothes. This failure of dress, disrespected the king and showed they did not value the event. Our King, God Himself, has provided garments for His great feast. We are to be clothed with His righteousness in Christ. When we fail to where these garments, we insult God as much as those who rejected the invitation. This failure to be dressed for the occasion resulted in being thrown out and punished severely. God does not choose the called, but those who respond by embracing the garments of righteousness He alone provides.

Day 103

Exodus 4:27-31 “They Believed & Worshiped”

There were two distinct, but related, elements to Moses mission to Israel. When God sent Aaron to meet Moses he both shared all the words of God and then showed him the signs. In turn, Aaron told the people everything God had spoken to Moses and Moses performed the signs causing them to believe. “…And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.” (23b) Today some in the church focus only on the message. Others focus on the signs. However, if people are to believe and worship, they must see God’s “concern” for their misery in both message and in the demonstration of His power. Then they will believe and worship.

Matthew 21:33-45 “Who Owns the Church?”

This parable of the vineyard shows God is owner, builder and possessor of the Kingdom and its fruit. Jewish leaders of Jesus time developed a sense of possessiveness rejecting the prophets and even God’s Son!. When they were made aware, instead of receiving correction, they sought to kill the messenger(s). This teaching gave opportunity for them to fall on the cornerstone and be broken, but they rejected it and were subject to severe punishment or crushing. As leaders and dwellers in God kingdom today, let us bow before God as owner and not become possessive. It is enough we get to live and work in His kingdom. If, especially as leaders, we develop a sense of ownership in His church, we reject God as the owner and the His leadership in Christ.

Day 102

Exodus 4:24-26 “God & God Alone!”

“And it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.” (24) What had Moses done that God would want to kill him after sending him. It was not what he had done, but what he had NOT done. Then Zipporah, his wife, took a knife, cut off the foreskin of their son, and called Moses a bridegroom of blood. It is possible they previously argued about circumcising their son but Zipporah prevailed against it. Yet, this cutting away of flesh was essential to Israel’s deliverance and freedom. We put no confidence in the flesh, but place all our trust in Jesus, His work on the cross, and the power of the Holy Spirit. He will not share His glory with flesh! So let us be circumcised in heart and cut away all reliance on the flesh as we pursue God and His kingdom. We must consecrate ourselves putting no confidence in the flesh, but fully relying on God and God alone.

Matthew 21:28-32 “Obedient or Just Polite?”

This story of a father asking his sons to work in his field, shows God is less interested in our words and politeness, than in our actions. The first son did not want to go saying no, but later regretted it and went to work. The second said yes, but never showed up. Here we see delayed obedience is better than immediate consent and politeness. Are we obedient or just polite?

Day 101

Exodus 4:18-23 “A Path to Freedom!”

Though Moses had a dynamic encounter with God, he still went back to his father-in-law and sought permission to go to Egypt. Having honored earthly authority, God encouraged him and gave him strategy. God said, “…see that you perform before Pharaoh ALL [emphasis mine] the wonders which I have put in your power, but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” (27bc). Success would not be seen in persuading Pharaoh, but in obeying God by demonstrating ALL His wonders. God’s ways are, at times, difficult to understand, but must be trusted. “…’Let My son go that he may serve Me;…’” (29b) The only way we can truly serve and worship God, is when we see how God supernaturally frees us from our bondage to sin and Egypt [influence of this world]. The only path to true freedom is found in the supernatural activity of God!

Matthew 21:23-27 “Beware of Insincerity!”

The chief priests and elders of Israel persistently resisted and opposed Jesus. Their questions were not sincere, but traps intending to trip Jesus up and get Him off track from His mission. Jesus was aware of their motives and didn’t waste time with them. He simply asked them a question as to the legitimacy of John the Baptist’s ministry. Now they were trapped. If they said it was not from God, they faced the wrath of the people who believed in him, but if they said from God, they would have to explain their rejection of him. “And answering Jesus, they said, ‘We do not know.’ He also said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (27) May God give His church the wisdom not to get entangled with defending truth to those who are insincere and are really trying to derail us from continuing on in God’s purposes.

Day 100

Exodus 4:10-17 “Focus On God!”

After God demonstrated His power to Moses giving him signs, Moses still objected due to his own inability to speak well. “…’Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to your servant, for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’” (10bc) Moses fears were rooted in a perception of self established by his entire life. He was not focused on who God is, but on who he wasn’t. God declared Himself as creator of the mouth, but Moses begged Him to send someone else. God got angry with Moses having already sent his brother Aaron to be his spokesman. Our shortcomings are not a legitimate excuse to not obey God’s directives, for He has already taken steps to deal with them. When sent by God, we need to shift our focus from ourselves to God, His power and His great compassion for His people.

Matthew 21:18-22 “Crazy Faith & Ridicules Power”

“Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry.” (18) In the context of being hungry, Jesus found a fig tree that did not have figs. Consequently, He cursed it and it withered up. His disciples were amazed. We learn from Mark’s gospel it was not the season for figs. It was not only amazing that it withered, but also seemed ridiculous, even unreasonable, to do such a thing. Noticing their amazement, Jesus said, “…Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to THIS [emphasis mine] mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (21b-22). Many say Jesus was speaking of a figurative mountains or they give it some metaphorical interpretation and application. However, it was an actual fig tree and He spoke of “this” mountain [one likely visible]. Jesus was illustrating to His disciples that simple unwavering faith enables what seems to others as ridiculous or crazy. May God open our eyes to the obvious, open our hearts to believe, and give us the courage to step out into the supernatural realm without doubt. Genuine faith without doubt can do crazy things.

Day 99

Exodus 4:1-10 “God Uses Miraculous Signs”

Moses’ first objection to God’s assignment was, “…’What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?…’” (1b ) Moses faced unbelief in Israel when they did not recognize him as their deliver 40 years earlier. So God’s solution was that He would give them miraculous signs to overcome their skepticism. Not just one or two, but three! “If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. But if they will not believe the even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.” (9) Why do we doubt God wants to do miracles today when signs and wonders were key elements of the success of the early church? God is patient with mankind and loves to demonstrate His love and power to those who are skeptics. Maybe we put too much confidence in our presentation and not enough faith in God’s willingness to demonstrate the validity of His message.

Matthew 21:12-17 “Is There Room for Miracles?”

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple,…” (12a) Some of God’s people had turned His house into a place of business, profit and financial abuse. When Jesus drove these out, the needy came to Him in the temple and He miraculously met their needs. Have we crowded God’s house with activities to the point there is no room or power to meet the needs of needy people? God’s house is a ‘house of prayer’ where His people should encounter Him in power. The abusers of God’s house were indignant objecting to the children’s enthusiastic praise of Jesus. But He responded to them from God’s word saying, “…OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’” (16bc). Maybe it’s time to confront abuses in God’s house, make room for miracles to meet people’s needs, and let the praises flow unhindered by self-centered activities and presuppositions.

Day 98

Exodus 3:16-22 “We Need Miracles!”

Moses first met with the leaders to declare God’s awareness of their affliction, His plan to deliver them, and His bringing them into the promised land. When we are aware of God’s concern, intent and plan for us, faith is generated. But God also said, “But I know the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My MIRACLES [emphasis mine]…..and after that he will let you go.” (19-20). Without the miracle working power of God, there can be no deliverance, protection, direction, possession or and sustaining. We must never forget our utter dependence on God for His miracles!

Matthew 21:1-11 “Obedience Generates Praise”

Jesus’ instructions to two disciples is full of details. Their obedience facilitated Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem fulfilling Scripture. Also, it generated humble enthusiastic expressions of worship. “The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST.’” (9). The obedience of the disciples was not only fulfilled God’s word, but led to enthusiastic worship and a powerful testimony. When we carefully give our attention to Jesus directions, obey Him fully, and seek to accommodate His travel into our churches/community, we will see great worship and a powerful testimony of Who He is!

Day 97

Exodus 3:13-15 “He’s All I Need!”

When God commissioned Moses to bring Israel out of Egypt, he asked Him what to tell them if they ask “…’What is His name?’…” (13c). Moses was not concerned about having a ‘tag’ for God. Names represent the character and nature of a person. He was asking God who He was. “God said, ‘I AM WHO I AM’;..” (14a) God was saying, no matter the nature of your needs, questions or concerns, I AM the solution. Regardless of what we face, God is the answer! He is a present tense God with all power to address all our concerns. There is an old chorus that ministered to me so powerfully as a child and even now.. “He’s all I need, He’s all I need. Jesus is all I need.” Know I understand why. It is because this is actually Who Jesus is. He is the I AM WHO I AM! So as the song says, “I take Him now, I take Him now, for all that I need.”

Matthew 20:29-34 “Jesus Is Passing this Way!!”

While large crowd followed Jesus when He wasleaving Jericho, two blind men heard He was passing and cried out, “…’Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’” (30b). After being rebuked firmly to keep quiet, “…they cried out all the more, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’” (31b). They would not be quieted. Why? They did not assert themselves but Jesus and their need for mercy [receiving what we don’t deserve]. They knew they were not deserving, but they also knew who Jesus was! This got His attention and He gave them sight. May God give us wisdom to see our need for mercy and call on Him Who is able to meet that need. Like the old chorus says, “Jesus is passing this way, this way, today.” He is not stopping for the deserving, but for those who know their need, know Who He is and will cry out regardless of the crowds.

Day 96

Exodus 3:10-12 “God’s Word & Presence”

On the basis of God’s compassion, He sent Moses to deliver Israel out from their bondage in Egypt. “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’” (11) Moses struggled with God’s directive in light of his past failure, but God assured him with these words: “And God said, ‘Certainly I will be with you,…’” (12a), The key to our success is not in our strategy or qualifications, but in obedience to God’s commands and the promise of His presence to go with us. When Jesus commissioned His disciples, His words were underlined by this same promise: “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20c). We should be less concerned about our strategies, skills or abilities, and more with have we received a word from God and the promise of His presence.

Matthew 20:20-28 “Greatness in God’s Kingdom”

As Jesus was trying to prepare His disciples for His suffering and death, they were squabbling over positions of power. Jesus patiently explained the nature of greatness in His kingdom verses this world: “…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; (26b-27). When we strive for position, we demonstrate ignorance of God’s kingdom and its nature. Truly great people are those who are concerned for and serve others. Those who give time to impact the well being of others. We may be shocked at who receives great rewards in heaven, for they may be quite unknown in this world.

Day 95

Matthew 20:17-19 “He’s Still Raising the Dead?”

Jesus repeatedly spoke of His coming crucifixion. His disciples had seen His ministry in power and found it difficult to understand He would be crucified or even why it needed to be. Jesus concluded this warning with a statement of hope. “…and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” (18c-19) Often when suffering and death come our way, we begin to think the worst. Does God care? When things look the worst, it isn often for the best. We must remember when facing these realities, That our God still raises the dead. Could this be an opportunity for us to witness His resurrection power? Note the song by Elevation Worship, “Resurrecting” which you can find on youtube. While many may mock and ridicule us at times like this, remember God wants to brings us into resurrected living.

Day 94

Exodus 3:1-6 “Take Your Shoes Off!”

When did Moses received God’s call? “Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law,…” (1a) Moses was serving his father-in-law, priest of Midian. Most of us want a position of leadership, but God’s leaders take the role of servants. When he saw the burning bush, he said, “…’I must TURN ASIDE [emphasis mine] now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the LORD saw that he TURNED ASIDE to look, God called to him…” (3b-4a). When we show interest in God’s supernatural activity by taking time to look into it, He responds by speaking [calling] to us. God is waiting for us to give Him our attention, then He will speak. “Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’” (5) Moses sandals bore the dust of a past failed attempt to deliver Israel. To go forward in God, we must be purified [made holy] from reminders of past failures that clings to our shoes [impacting our walk]. It’s time to take our shoes off!

Matthew 20:1-16 “Injustice or Generosity?”

In this parable of laborers, the land owner hires various people at various times to work his vineyard. The first laborers are promised a denarius [days wages], but the third to the ninth hour, are promised what was ‘right.’ Those employed in eleventh hour were sent to work with no wage promised. In the evening, he called all workers and starting with the last he gave them all the same amount. Those who began early in the morning complained it was “not fair.” Today they would have formed a union and protested. But he said: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (15). In God’s kingdom we do not receive ‘what is fair.’ God’s grace is reflected in generosity and not in being fair to us. We must guard against jealousy and rejoice in God’s generosity. Envy is not a good look!

Day 93

Exodus 2:15-25 “God Always Hears Our Cry!”

When Pharaoh heard about Moses killing the Egyptian, he tried to kill him, so he fled. Though Moses attempt to deliver Israel was rejected, he was warmly embrace by Jethro, a Midian priest, for defending his daughters from other shepherds and drawing water for their sheep. In fact, Moses was invited into their household, ate with them, and became part of their family being married to his daughter and having children. Meanwhile, Israel continued in bondage even after the king of Egypt died [political change is not what is needed]. So they cried out to God and He heard them because of His covenant with Abraham. Though we may, at times, reject God’s attempts to free us from sin, He will not reject delivering us when we cry out to Him because of His Son, His Work and His Word! God always hears our cry for His help!

Matthew 19:27-30 “Look Ahead!”

“Peter said to Him, ‘Behold we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’” (27) After Jesus showed the obstacle of this world’s riches, Peter asked what are the benefits of their leaving it all to follow Him. To let go of everything, we must see clearly the benefits of forsaking all. Jesus promised them a place of power in the “regeneration.” But He went further declaring that everyone who sacrifices possessions, relationships or careers for his sake, will be blessed with a multiplication of value, along with eternal life. Why are we so reticent to walk away from those things interfering with loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength? It may be because we fail to see the value of what is ahead. When we focus on what lies before us, we lose sight of what we leave behind. Remember the old song, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.” May God give us grace to see what lies ahead and remove everything interfering with our journey. What we leave behind is valueless compared to what is before us when we follow Christ.

Day 92

Exodus 2:11-14 “Growing Up Is Good!”

“Now it came about in those days, when Moses had GROWN UP, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors;…” (1a) Today, we hear many boast about not growing up. Maybe this is why so few of us are deeply concerned for others in bondage. Immaturity is reflected in being primarily concerned with self. If this were the case with Moses, he would have been content in the luxurious comfortable lifestyle of Egypt. Yet, Moses risked his life to free his brothers assuming they would understand God was using him to deliver them (Acts 7:26). May God raise up people who are willing to GROW UP and lay their lives on the line for others in bondage. Immaturity, or not growing up, is not a good thing and undermines our ability to help those in bondage to sin and this world. Staying youthful and energetic is one thing, but not growing up is just wrong. Remember, growing up is good!

Matthew 19:23-26 “Believe for the Impossible!”

“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (23) Jesus further elaborates on this by an illustration showing the impossibility of the rich entering heaven’s kingdom. Wealth is a gigantic distraction to our fulfilling God’s purposes and entering His promises. This is why it is so dangerous to promote a wealth centered gospel focusing on present comfort more than God’s rule. At this, the disciples were questioning if anyone could be saved. “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, with God all things are possible.’” (26) By ‘looking into Jesus’ eyes,’ we are able to turn from concern for wealth and comfort, believe Him to move us into the realm of the impossible, and to enjoy the reality of His kingdom.

Day 91

Exodus 2:1-10 “Pulled Out as Good”

At this point, Israel suffered oppression and all male babies were being killed. But when Moses was born, his mother “saw” him as “good” or precious. So she kept him hidden 3 months, but could hide him no longer. She made a floating basket, put it among the reeds of the Nile, and Moses sister looked on to see what would happen. Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the basket and when she saw him crying had compassion on him. Moses sister came over to her offering to find a Hebrew woman to nurse him. Not only did his mother become his nurse, but she was paid by Israel’s oppressors. When he became the princess’ son, she named him Moses [pulled out], because she pulled him out of the Nile. Like Moses mother, may God give us the grace to see the beauty of each generation, fight their well being, and equip them for their future.

Matthew 19:16-22 “Who or What Has Our Hearts”

“And someone came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life.’” (16) Jesus told him to keep the commandments, but he asked Him to be more specific. Jesus listed commandments relating to our relationship with humanity, or loving our neighbor as ourselves. He quickly stated his compliance. Interestingly, Jesus did not list commands connected to our relationship with God, but instead asked him to sell his wealth, give to the poor, and then follow Christ. But the young man had great wealth and his attachment to it prevented him from doing so. It is not only our ill treatment of men preventing us from entering God’s kingdom, but our attachments to things preventing us from loving God with all our heart, mind and strength. The question is: Who or What Has our hearts?

Day 90

Exodus 1:15-22 “Leading By Fear or Faith?”

Pharaoh’s fear increased as the affliction he imposed on Israel did not have its intended impact. So he sought to destroy their strength by instructing Egyptian midwives to kill every male at birth. But the midwives feared God and did not cooperate. “So God was good to the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful.” (20) When this failed, Pharaoh ordered all his people to “…’Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River…’” (22b). Fear driven leadership becomes increasingly destructive. Fear based leadership demands from its followers, but faith based leaders have an authority to motivate people to obedience. Orders of destruction flow from fear, but directives leading to life flow from faith in God’s word. Let us hear God’s voice and obey Him fully.

Matthew 19:13-15 “Do We Attract Children?

The disciples failed to see the blessing of children. They rebuked children seeing them as impeding His ministry, “But Jesus said, ’Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (14) Jesus’ heart is inviting to children and He does not see them as “interfering with” His ministry. In fact, He tells us they illustrate how we approach Him. They come not only with enthusiasm and simplicity, but they come in dependency and receptivity. May our hearts be as Christ’s toward children. Children know if we see them as a blessing or an inconvenience! They know if we see them as valuable or an interference to our agendas. Are children attracted to us?

Day 89

Exodus 1:1-14 “Ignorance Breeds Fear & Oppression”

Israel grew and became strong while in Egypt even after Joseph’s death. “Now a new king arose Egypt, who DID NOT KNOW Joseph.” (8) This king’s ignorance bred a fear of Israel, her strength and her growth. This led to oppression: “So they appointed taskmasters to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities,…” (11). In the context of great affliction, Israel grew and became stronger so that Egypt’s fear turned to dread intensifying her oppression. Here we see that ignorance led to fear. Fear lead to oppression benefiting Pharaoh. This led to affliction spiraling continuously downward. Mistreatment of others often comes from an fear rooted in ignorance that distorts perceptions. Godly leaders carefully avoid the ignorance that leads to fear and affliction for self gratification or personal gain.

Matthew 19:10-12 “To Be Married or Not To Be Married?”

“The disciples said to Him, ‘if the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.’” (10) Jesus’ disciples were obviously shocked at the seriousness of the marriage relationship. Marriage is far more serious than what the religious people of Jesus’ time had made it out to be. “But He said to them, ‘Not all men can accept this statement, but only to those to whom it has been given.’” (11) Jesus is presenting the case that the challenges of marriage are not resolved by remaining single. Only a few are gifted by God to be able to handle this. Both being married and being single have their challenges. To remain single is more challenging and is for only a few. Most of us have an inner sense that we were designed to be married. We know, “…’It is not good for the man to be alone;…’” (Genesis 2:18b). We would be wise to seek God in this matter. Avoiding difficulties and hardships are not the keys to happiness. In fact, the difficulties of marriage can be a great asset to our spiritual growth. We must see our spouses as gifts from above!

Day 88

Genesis 50:22-26 “Signs of a Good Leader”

“Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons;…” (23a) Joseph honored his father, forgave his brothers and was rewarded with long life and the joy of seeing three generations of his son’s children. Honoring parents and forgiveness of others, are keys to a long and fulfilling life. In his last days, he encouraged his brothers regarding God and His promises: “…’I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised…’” (24b). While Joseph provided for his family, he reminded them that ultimately it is God Who provides and that He who would continue to do so even after his death. In his death, Joseph left them with a task pointing forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises. They were to carry his dead bones to the promise land. Joseph’s legacy and example of great leadership kept his family’s focus centered on God and encouraged confidence in His word.

Matthew 19:1-9 “Legalism Does Not Heal”

Jesus left Galilee and was in Judea. “And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.” (2) Yet while He was concerned with the needs of the people, the Pharisees were seeking to undermine His authority and influence. They confronted Jesus with the “legal” issue of divorce, but Jesus exposed their ignorance and revealed their hearts. They thought they had Him on a technicality being focused on a legalistic view of the law. Legalism likes to assert its correctness, but really it reflects an unwillingness to deal with the inner issues of sin. Legalism focuses on outward conformity, while Jesus’ heart is to focus on meeting the needs of people. Legalism restrains certain behaviors, but allows the inner issue of sin to continue unrestrained. Legalism divides and wounds, but genuine faith seeks to unite and heal.

Day 87

Genesis 50:15-21 “Evidence of Forgiveness”

When their father died, Joseph’s brothers feared he still held a grudge and might repay them for the evil they did to him. So they made up a story from their father pleading with Joseph for forgiveness. We often have unwarranted and unhealthy fears rooted in a failure to understand the depths of God’s forgiveness. But when Joseph heard this, he wept and said, “…Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (19b). When we are unforgiving, we put ourselves in God’s place as the judge, but Joseph knew better. He understood God is sovereign ruling over even those who with evil motives. He also understood God’s purpose in his suffering. So Joseph promised to provide for them “…So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (21c). The kindness with which Joseph spoke brought assurance of the genuineness of his forgiveness. If we lack kindness in speaking with our offenders, it may reflect ignorance of God’s purpose, failure to understand our place, or a lack of true forgiveness.

Matthew 18:21-35 “Forgiveness Flows from Gratitude”

This parable teaches us an important truth regarding forgiveness. A slave owed a king 10,000 talents (150,000 years wages). Yet, the king showed mercy and forgave him the entire amount. When he came to a fellow slave who owed 100 denarii (100 days wages), he was unwilling to forgive this relatively small payable debt. His unwillingness to forgive landed him in a tormenting prison forever because it reflected his ingratitude for the mercy shown him. If God has forgiven us such a great debt, we should be willing to forgive others who owe us a relatively small debt. Let us not be among those who are imprisoned in the torment of unforgiveness by an ingratitude for God’s mercy.

Day 86

Genesis 50:1-14 “Value of Fathers!”

In Israel’s death, he is called Israel once and father TEN times. His role as father was cherished by Joseph, his brothers, and all of Egypt. Joseph asked permission to honor his father’s final request and bury him in Canaan. Not only was this approved, but Egypt sent representatives from their leadership and they observed an additional 7 days of mourning in Canaan. The Canaanites said, “…’This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians.’…” (11b). In the early church, success as a father was a prerequisite of leadership in the church. Today the role of father is not highly regarded and some even believe non-essential to societal health. We are in great need for fathers both in our homes and in our churches. Fathers like Jacob should be respected, loved and even mourned when they are gone. May God give us fathers whose lives generate love, respect and leave a lasting testimony to the world of their value to us all.

Matthew 18:15-20 “Correction, Caring & Authority!”

Correction should be conducted in a manner that begins in the private realm. If refused, then it should involve a few others, If still rejected, it should come before the church. Finally, if it is still unheeded, that person should be put out of the church. Jesus goes on to tie great power in the church to this kind of purity and unity in the church. He even says, “…If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, My Father in heaven will do it for you.” (19b). Jesus also promises His ongoing presence in even the smallest of groups [2 or 3]. Somehow today, the church has adopted a philosophy of prayer equating power and authority in prayer to the numbers of those praying. This is not only false, but often leaves us failing to deal with the sin in the church robbing her of the authority and power God gives us in the context of purity and unity!

Day 85

Genesis 49:29-33 “Reunited in Death”

After blessing his sons, Jacob left one final command: “…’Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite,………..which Abraham bought…’” (29b). Though he died in Egypt, Jacob request to be buried in Canaan was a reminder of their destiny. Egypt was NOT home. “When Jacob had finished these instructions, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” (33) Two points: First, Jacob died in peace with this final reminder to his family of their destiny. Second, his death was not his end, but “he was gathered to his people.” His life continues with those of his faith who preceded him. May we ever be conscious of the temporary nature of this life, prepare our children for their destiny, and look forward to being reunited with those who go before us.

Matthew 18:12-14 “Are We Inviting of Backsliders?”

God’s heart toward backsliders is incredible. When a shepherd leaves 99 sheep to search for a lost one, it demonstrates God’s heart toward those who have strayed. Also, when He finds the lost one, he is not scolded by the shepherd, but he is celebrated with great joy. Often, as a church, we find ourselves criticizing the ones straying rather than searching. When the lost one is found, we often are judgmental rather than celebrating their return to the fold.. If we, as the church, have the heart of God toward backsliders, we would be a far more inviting place for those who have strayed.

Day 84

Genesis 49:1-28 “Blessings of a Father”

In the last days of Israel, he called his sons for prophetic blessing. Unlike the prophecies of some today, a few of his words were strong even containing rebuke for bad behaviors. Rueben, his first born, was his strength, might and dignity, but had dishonored his father by lack of moral control and character. Consequently he would experience turbulence and would not excel. Judah’s, whose beginnings were horrific and immoral, would be praised by his brothers and would carry the Messianic line. It’s not how we start out, but how we finish that matters. Each prophecy reflected on their character and how they handled life. How is it the words over Rueben, Simeon and Levi could be considered a blessing? It is because they carried words of correction for their bad behavior as he others were rewarded for their good behavior. As godly parents today, we must bring both words of correction and words of encouragement to truly bless our children!

Matthew 18:6-11 “Are We a Blessing or Curse?”

“If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (6) Jesus continues using hyperbole to emphasize the seriousness of our sin’s impact not only on ourselves, but on all who are around us. You might say, we are our brother’s keeper. When our behavior or words cause others to stumble in their faith, we will be held accountable! Sin is not only dangerous to us, but to all those we influence. This is especially true of our children, but applies to all children of God. May God give us hearts sensitive to His Spirit and to those we influence, so we will be a blessing and not a curse.

Day 83

Genesis 48:9-22 “Greatness Before God”

When Israel blessed Joseph’s sons, Joseph aligned them so Manasseh would receive the greater blessing. However, Israel reversed it by crossing his hands giving the greater blessing to Ephraim. When Joseph objected, Israel held his ground saying the younger would be greater than the older. In God’s kingdom, the natural order of things is invalidated by God’s sovereign rule. He gives position, power and blessing to those this world does not value. Remember, “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are. So that no man may boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). While this world applauds the intelligent, talented and gifted, God looks for the humble who, in complete dependence and obedience, honor Him as the source of all life and greatness.

Matthew 18:1-6 “Redefining Greatness”

When Jesus’ disciples asked Him who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, He redefined greatness for all time. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (4) Greatness in God’s kingdom is not reflected in position, power, talent, or intellect, but is ONLY obtained when we humbly recognize our inadequacies and fully rely on God as a child relies on their parents. The more dependent, attentive and obedient we are to our Lord, the more we tap into His greatness reflecting His glory to the world in which we live. The church is not in need more talented, smart or gifted people to advance God’s kingdom, but the church is in need of more dependent and obedient disciples who are like children before Father God.

Day 82

Genesis 48:1-8 “A Double Portion”

When Joseph heard his father was dying, he took his two sons to see him. When Israel heard Joseph was there, he pulled himself together to sit up and said: “…’God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me,’…” (3b-4a). Israel reminded Joseph of his supernatural encounter with God and what He had spoken to him there. He also gave Joseph’s two sons the same status as his brothers. Manasseh and Ephraim would be equal to Joseph’s brothers. Joseph would have a double portion of his father’s inheritance. Though he experience great loss and much sorrow, Israel saw God’s hand in Joseph’s sons as a sign of the fulfillment of God’s word. May our children and our children’s children know of our encounters with God and the promises He has given us.

Day 83

Matthew 17:24-27 “Demanding Rights & Staying Focused?”

When Peter was asked if Jesus would pay the temple tax, he quickly responded ‘yes.’ Buts when he went to Jesus, He asked Peter a question showing that technically He did not need to pay they tax. Then He said, “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up;…” In the first fish he would find a coin to pay their taxes. Jesus was not insecure so he did not have to “be right” or “demand His rights” as the Son of God. Our culture today is consumed with our rights and expressing demands reflecting both insecurity and covetousness. Let’s not get caught up in the raging river of our culture, but rest in knowing who our Father is and His sovereign care over our lives. We can easily be distracted from proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom when we are focused on being right or demanding our rights. When we do this we offend our opponents undermining our basic mission.

Day 82

Genesis 47:29-31 “A Final Family Reminder”

Jacob and his family lived in Egypt for 17 years both prospering and multiplying. Yet, as his death drew near, he called Joseph to promise he would bury him in the land of his fathers/the land of promise. When Joseph agreed, “…Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.” (31c). Jacob knew his family’s time in Egypt was temporary, and they needed to remember where they really belonged. As we journey through this life, we must not become too comfortable in this world lest we lose sight of our eternal destiny. Jacob’s burial would remind the entire family of where they truly belonged. Because Joseph gave his word, Israel would die in peace worshipping God.

Matthew 17:14-23 “Faith, A Key to Power”

As Jesus arrived from the mountain, He was approached by a father whose son was demon possessed. Jesus’ disciples were unable to cure him, but He cured him instantly. His disciples asked privately why they were unable to do the same. He said, “…, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’” (26b). Faith is a critical key in our ability to move in the supernatural realm. Not faith in ourselves, our talents, our intellect or any other fleshly skills. Faith must be rooted in Who God and His Son are, what They have done and what They have said. Then we can move in power knowing God, His work and His word!

Day 81

Matthew 17:9-13 “Proper Perception & Persistent Pursuit”

Jesus exhorted His disciples not to speak to anyone of this vision until He had risen from the dead. As they reflected on this, they were confused because the Scribes were saying that Elijah would come first. Jesus affirmed this prophetic word, but said they [Scribes] did not recognize him, “…but did to him whatever they wished.” (12b). As He explained, the disciples understood Jesus spoke of John the Baptist. The Scribes had the prophetic word correct, but were not able to recognize its fulfillment because of their attachment to a religious system structured to protect their lifestyles, politics and places of comfort. Those who sought to follow Jesus were provided clarity by Him, but those clinging to their lifestyles he left in darkness.

Genesis 46:29-34 “Great Joy with Great Responsibility”

Joseph’s reunion with his father was highly emotional. Israel received comfort from the deep pain of thinking Joseph was dead for the last 22 years. Joseph clung to his father and wept for a lengthy time. Yet, in this reunion Joseph did not lose sight of his responsibilities. He now would go before them to inform Pharaoh of their arrival and do so in a manner that allows them to remain separate from the Egyptians. Joseph was familiar with Egyptian values and thought, but was also aware of the need for a separation to exist so his family and the integrity of their faith remained strong. Emotions can be wonderful and healing, but we must not let them cloud our judgement to be reckless in our responsibilities.

Day 81

Matthew 17:1-8 “Creativity or Obedience?”

This mountain top transfiguration of Jesus was seen by three key disciples. “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here;…’” (4a) Then he offered to begin a building project to honor Jesus, Moses and Elijah who appeared to Him. Peter didn’t realize this phenomena was not about them, but for Jesus’ encouragement as He faced suffering and death. God was not interested in Peter’s ideas, but in their knowing Jesus and obeying Him. “…This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well-pleased; LISTEN TO HIM!’” (5b) We are in a better place when we know Who Jesus is, and pay close attention to what He says. God is not looking for our creativity, but for us to know His Son and for our actions to align with His directives. Our best worship emerges from attentiveness and obedience!

Day 80

Genesis 46:28 “Making of Good Leaders”

It is interesting that Jacob appoints Judah to LEAD the way in their journey to Egypt. Not only did Judah come up with the plan to sell Joseph as a slave, but he separated himself from his family, married a Canaanite women, and fathered a child through his daughter-in-law thinking she was a prostitute. Why would Jacob/Israel choose Judah? Through previous trips to Egypt, Judah embraced responsibility for Benjamin, repented of his selfishness, and was willing to lay down his life for his brothers and his father’s emotional well-being. Like Judah, we do not have to be defined by our past bad choices, but we can be developed by God through repentance so we embrace responsibility and become good leaders in spite of our past. Leadership is not as much a skill or talent, as it is the quality of character that takes responsibility for the well-being of those we are called to serve. Godly leaders are not born, but are made!

Matthew 16:24-28 “Only One Will Survives”

“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.’” (24) The requirements of following Jesus He clearly puts forth in this brief and simple word. Our will must be replaced by Jesus’ directives! To follow Jesus only one will can survive and thrive. It is not our dreams we fight for, but God’s sovereign rule over lives so His kingdom thrives. Our flesh constantly resists God’s will, so we MUST deny it. We must carry the cross that brings death to self so the life of Jesus can thrive within us. If we are seeking to “find ourselves” or realize our dreams and desires, we are on a path to destruction. We do not seek our glory, but the glory of our Father!

Day 79

Genesis 46:1-27 “Clarity in Worship”

When Jacob began his journey to Egypt he likely did so understanding his father and grandfather were strictly forbidden to go there. As he worshiped God, he received this word of encouragement: “‘I am God, the God of your father’ the voice said, ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again…’” (3-4a). Sometimes God takes us where we do not expect and we need assurance of His will, purpose and presence. It is often in the context of worship we receive this assurance by the promise of His word, presence and purpose.

Matthew 16:22-28 “Get Your Perspective Right!”

It is amazing how quickly Peter goes from being blessed by God and given promises of great power, to being a stumbling block to Jesus. Peter went from a heavenly revelation to an earthly perspective. In so doing he went from an instrument of God’s purposes in building His church, to a satanic hindrance to the very foundation of our faith. Having great revelation does not immune us from misunderstanding things when we begin to take a mere human or earthly view of things. It may be the case that in our desire to protect people from trials we actually interfere with God’s purposes. This is especially so when we look at things from an earthly perspective. In our attempts to be protective, we actually interfere with what God is seeking to do in the trials. May God give us wisdom not to be a stumbling block to His will.

Day 78

Genesis 46:16-28 “Regretting the Past or Seeing God?”

Joseph’s love for his family was no mere affection, but genuine concern for their well being. The favor he had before Pharaoh spilled over onto his entire family. Not only did they get an all expense paid trip, but they received new clothes, the means to transport the weakest members of their family, and his promise to provide for them. Then Joseph exhorted his brothers, “…’Do not quarrel on the journey.’” (24b). He knew they would be tempted to look back and blame each other for what they did to him, but Joseph did not want them to regret their past, but to see God’s goodness. Too many of us waste time looking back and regretting bad choices or decisions, but God’s heart is for us to see His goodness and move forward based on this glorious truth.

Matthew 16:13-21 “Not By Might”

Jesus questioned His disciples as to people’s perceptions of Himself. They saw Jesus as significant, but really did not know Him. When He asked His disciples who He was, Peter said, “…’You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (16b). “And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you Simon Barjonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (17) Jesus explained His church is not built by flesh, but by Himself on the rock of who He is as revealed by the Father and no power can stop it. Those who know Jesus have supernatural power to bind and loose. The church is not built by our ideas, talents or gifting, but by Jesus Himself utilizing disciples who know Him and walk in His power.

Day 77

Genesis 45:9-15 “Focus on God’s Treasures”

“Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt, come down to me, do not delay.”’” (9) Joseph wasted no time on what his brothers did to him, but focused on what God did for Him and why. He went on to explain how God exalted him in this position so he could preserve his family from the devastating impact of five more years of famine. Too many of us today are distracted by what we have gone through, rather than on what God is doing through it and why. Some of us make idols of our trials, rather than discover the treasures God reveals to us in them and the divine purpose of them.

Matthew 16:5-12 “Remember What God Did?

Jesus warned his disciples of the ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees. They began to discuss the fact they did not bring bread. They totally missed what Jesus wanted to teach them because they had forgotten how God had provided for them. Jesus then reminded them of a recent miracle of abundant provision. He was providing a teaching treasure to protect them from the danger of false religious teaching.

Day 76

Genesis 45:1-8 “Drawing Close, A Key to Perception!”

As Joseph heard the plea of Judah on behalf of his father and Benjamin, he could not control his emotions and he wept before them all. After he put out all others, he revealed himself to his brothers who were dismayed and in fear. “Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come closer to me.’ And they came closer.” (4a) At a distance, they had judged him for the favor he experience from his father and the dreams he received from God. But to overcome their fear, Joseph drew them close and spoke kindly to them asking them not to be troubled over what they had done for God had sent him there to save life. Many view God as Joseph’s brother viewed him. However, when they came close, they saw his genuine affection and care for them and his view of God who saw beyond their betrayal to God’s plan. If we draw close to God, His great love and plan will be revealed to us also.

Matthew:16:1-4 “Insincere Questioners”

“The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.”(1) These religious leaders were not interested in the truth, but were testing Jesus to justify their rejection of Him. Jesus already had done many signs and wonders, but they were testing Him to destroy His influence and popularity among the people. Jesus saw through their deceitfulness and said they were better interpreters of the weather than the signs of the times. There are some today who will not accept Christ, not for the lack of an effective testimony, but for their adherence to their wicked lifestyles. May we have the wisdom to identify this and not waste time arguing with those who have no heart for truth. Remember, some ask questions to test us, but not to learn from us.

Day 75

Matthew 14:15-21 “From Insufficiency to Abundance”

When the disciples wanted to send the crowd away for food, Jesus told them to feed them. They objected that their 5 loaves and 2 fish were insufficient for such a great crowd. Jesus called them to bring their insufficient supply to Him. Then He gave thanks, broke them and gave them to the disciples. The disciples gave them to the people feeding 5,000 men plus women and children. When we bring our insufficiency to Jesus, look to heaven’s greatness in gratitude so Jesus can bless it, we release God to multiply it to give it away.. Jesus gave it back to them, they gave it to the crowds and then had leftovers of broken pieces. Note what was brought to Jesus. blessed, broken and distributed became an abundance. Our insufficiency can become God’s abundance when brought to Christ.

Genesis 44 “From Envy to Responsibility”

Joseph set up his brothers to bring them to repentance. He placed a divining cup in Benjamins sack and then sent his steward after them to accuse them of stealing. When it was discovered in Benjamin’s sack, they were overcome with grief and tore their clothes. They told Joseph they would all be his slaves, but Joseph insisted only Benjamin would be his slave. Judah said, “…God has found out the iniquity of your servants;…” (16c). Judah, then stood up, rehearsed the details of their father’s loss and offered to take Benjamin’s place to save his father the pain of losing him. Judah was the one who concocted the plan to sell Joseph, but now had overcome his jealousy and was willing to take responsibility and stand in the gap for his brother on behalf of his father. This is a total transformation of his character. Like Judah, we must allow God to transform us in our trials so we are willing to give our lives for others.

Day 74

Matthew 14:13-14 “Revealing God in Our Grief”

Jesus experienced a great personal loss when Herod killed John, who was not just his cousin, but the one who prepared peoples’ hearts to receive Him. “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself,…” (13a) Grief is a part of the human experience and it is not wrong to need to be alone for a time. However, even in His alone time, the people sought Jesus out and found Him. “When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt COMPASSION for them and healed their sick.” (14) Jesus’ pain did not drown out His compassion for others’ or blind Him to their needs. When our heart is to serve others, by the power of the Holy Spirit we can rise above our own darkness to serve others in compassion. This is a moment when the very heart of our Heavenly Father is revealed. We must not move into frustration and lose our compassion. We must not allow our losses to create such a grief that we lose sight of those God has called us to serve. When we serve in our grief, God’s greatness is revealed.

Genesis 43:16-34 “Trouble or Treasures?”

When they arrived, Joseph called for a dinner party at his house, brought Simon out of jail and planned a big feast. “Now the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house; and they said, ‘It is because of the money that was returned to our sacks….’” (18ab) What Joseph intended as a blessing they feared questioning his motives. They thought they were going to be punished for the money returned to their sacks, but Joseph’s steward said, “…’Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks;…” (23a). What they perceived as a trouble was, in fact, treasure from God. How often do we misperceive circumstances with fear, when God is giving us treasures. May God open our hearts and eyes to see His loving hand as full of provisions and treasures, not trouble.

Day 73

Matthew 14:1-12 “Prophetic or Political?”

God used John the Baptist as a prophetic voice for righteousness and call to repentance in a very dark political and moral climate. Consequently, Herod had him arrested and wanted to kill him but feared those who respected him as a prophet. While John spoke out of his relationship with God, Herod acted out of concern to protect his lifestyle. This is a significant distinctive between prophets and politicians. Prophets speak light into darkness to promote repentance and righteousness, but politicians seek to silence and suppress the voices of truth to protect their lifestyles. As the church of Jesus Christ, let us seek God to be a prophetic voice to our communities and not a political voice that has no lasting impact on darkness and morality.

Genesis 43:1-17 “Impediments to Leadership”

When running out of food, Judah reminded Jacob they could not return to buy grain unless Benjamin went with them. Judah, previously moved by jealousy to sell Joseph as a slave, now stood up to take responsibility for Benjamin. Though hesitant, Jacob concedes thinking money and gifts may be the key to their success. Then he says, “…’And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’” (14b). The pain of loss is inevitable, but fear of this pain is paralyzing. When we agree to do the right thing, God is able to address our fears and heal our perspective. As for Judah, he overcame his petty jealousy and was now able to step up and lead. These two things, fear and jealousy, are great impediments to healthy leadership.

Day 72

Genesis 42:29-38 “Don’t Miss God’s Love!”

When Joseph’s brothers informed their father Jacob of their trip and they saw all their money returned, they were all frightened. When they told dad that Benjamin would have to go back with them to get Simon, Jacob refused because of his fear. Jacob said, “…Everything is against me!” (36c). A series of losses in Jacob’s life distorted his perception of life’s events to the point he could not see God was, in fact, working for the benefit of his entire family. May we have faith in our losses as we focus on the great love of God for us to oversee all things for our good. Let us not miss God’s great love even in our losses.

Matthew 13:53-58 “How Do We See Jesus?”

Jesus returned to His home town after a very profitable time of ministry. However, He did not receive a hero’s welcome, but was greeted with suspicion and skepticism. Because they thought they knew Him, they did not really know Him at all. Even worse, they were unable to receive from Him the treasures of the kingdom He was so richly sharing with others. We are told that Jesus could not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. His ministry to them was handicapped by their perceptions of Him. How do we see Jesus? Do we see Him as a mere historical figure, or do we see Him as alive and ruling from His throne in heaven? Remember, how we see Him determines what we receive from Him! How do you see Jesus and His posture toward you today.

Day 71

Genesis 42:1-28 “What Do We See in Darkness?”

When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food due to the famine, they did not recognize him. He did know them and spoke harshly to them even imprisoning them for three days. “Now Joseph said to them on the third day, ‘Do this and live, for I fear God.’” (18) Jospeh became God’s tool in bringing them to repentance and life. Rueben spoke of what they did to Joseph and this moment as their time of reckoning. At this, Joseph turned and wept. He then put Simon in prison but promised to release him when they brought Benjamin as evidence of their innocence. On their journey home, they discovered their money returned to their sacks and they were fearful saying, “…’What is this that God has done to us?’” (28b). When God was blessing them, they perceived it as His judgment because of the impurity of their hearts. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) May God give us pure hearts that we may see His blessings in our dark places.

Matthew 13:47-52 “Stay Focused!”

Sometimes it appears to us that the wicked get away with things and their is a lack of justice in our society. However, we learn from the parable of the dragnet that at the final harvest, God removes the wicked from the righteous and the wicked will receive their due. We are not to be distracted by the injustices, but to stay focused on declaring the treasures of kingdom truths and principles from God’s word. As Christ’s disciples, we are focused on the continuous revelation of kingdom treasures both new and old!

Day 70

Genesis 41:46-57 “Forgetfulness Precedes Fruitfulness!”

During the seven years of plenty, Joseph served in wisdom and had two sons. “Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has Made me FORGET all my trouble and all my father’s household.’” (51) God had not erased his memory, but had removed the pain and impact on his service and perception. “He named the second Ephraim, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me FRUITFUL in the land of my affliction.’” (52) It is worth noting that being healed from painful memories preceded being fruitful in affliction. The people of God, under Joshua, had to be healed of circumcision before they could move in and take the promise land. Serving in our darkness allows God to heal our painful memories and move us into our destiny to be fruitful!. Forgetfulness precedes fruitfulness.

Matthew 13:44-46 “Finding Treasure!”

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and he hid again; and for JOY over it he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and SOLD ALL he had and bought it.” (44-46) The church often minimizes the cost of entering God’s kingdom. One reason for this is we have failed to know and demonstrate the great value of God’s kingdom. When we, and those we are seeking to reach, understand the unparalleled value of God’s rule, we, and they, will joyfully and willingly forsake all to follow Christ. May God give us wisdom and power to declare the treasure of His kingdom.

Day 69

Genesis 41:1-45 “Serving Without D.O. [Dungeon Odor]”

“Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream,…” (1) At this point Joseph likely gave up on the cupbearer remembering him to Pharaoh. But in God’s time, he was remembered and brought out. “Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.” (14) Not only was Joseph “hurriedly” brought out, but he was brought before Pharaoh to serve God’s purpose without any hint of ‘dungeon odor.’ Joseph did not carry the smell of hard times or bitterness of the injustice he suffered. He now clearly saw God in his adversity and rose to serve the Lord’s purpose without any D.O. [Dungeon odor]. We need to see God in our trials so we serve God free of the D.O. that hinders our effectiveness.

Matthew 13:36-43 “Serving Without Frustration”

This parable of the ‘Tares’ brings comfort in the midst of a world seemingly spinning out of control with lawlessness and evil. It is not the job of the church to rip out the tares, but we can rest in the certainty that God will send His angels to remove and judge them at the end time harvest. We should not fret over evil doing (Psalms 37) because it is temporary. Our focus must be on the advancement of God’s kingdom and on the Lord’s commands. Frustration over the lawlessness in this world reflects a lack of trust in the Sovereign rule of our God and truth of His Word. As the Psalmist says, “Trust in the LORD and do good, Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:3-4). Let us serve without distraction or frustration.

Day 68

Genesis 40:9-23 “Disappointment or God’s Appointment”

Joseph gave the cupbearer and the baker interpretations of their dreams. The cupbearer would be restored to serving Pharaoh within three days. Joseph saw this as opportunity to be set free from his dungeon and asserted the injustice he suffered. The baker’s dream was not good revealing he would be hung within three days. Each dream’s meaning was exactly as he said. “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” (33) Joseph would spend two years in this dungeon for a wrong he did not commit. What seemed to be an opportune time to be released, was not in God’s timing. It was important to Joseph’s destiny he be there two more years. While the forgetfulness of the cupbearer looked like a tragedy, it actually would lead to the fulfillment of his dreams and destiny.

Matthew 13:31-35 “Don’t Despise Small Things!”

The parable of the mustard seed and the yeast provide us with important insights into God’s kingdom. Both illustrate that what starts out insignificant, small or invisible, has the potential for dynamic visible transformation, growth and usefulness. When we receive God’s word into our hearts, the Spirit of God miraculously and powerfully transforms our lives in gradual growth until we are a part of something bigger providing a safe place for other new and young life. It is not how great or gifted we are, but whether or not we allow God’s word to do God’s work so we become healthy reproductive people. Do not despise what seems small to us for God can do great things through us.

Day 67

Genesis 40:1-8 “Serving in Darkness”

Joseph was betrayed by brothers, put in a pit without provisions, sold as a slave, falsely accused of rape, and unjustly thrown into prison. To say he was in a dark place seems like an gross understatement. Most people in this situation would be so distressed they would be totally preoccupied with their own needs. However, Joseph again embraced the role of a servant and attended to others in his dungeon experience. In fact, he gave careful attention to the sadness of the king’s prisoners, the backer and the cupbearer. “When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected.” (6) Many are so entangled in their own distress and darkness, they are unable to see the distress of others. May we, like Joseph, learn to serve others in our dungeon experience.

Matthew 13:24-30 “Don’t Be Distracted by Wickedness”

Today some in the church focus on increased wickedness in this world. As disciples of Christ, we should be less focused on the removal of the wickedness around us then the removal of wickedness within us as we grow in Christ. In the parable of the tares, the harvesters ask to remove the tares [wicked], but it is said, “‘No,’ he answered, ‘while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat in the process.’” (29) When the church focuses on removing the wickedness of the world, they do so at the expense of their own well-being. God is in charge of the harvest and dealing with the wicked. Let us focus on Christ and water the seed of His word for our own health and growth in God.

Day 66

Genesis 39 “Doing Right Regardless the Cost”

While Judah descended into bad behavior, Joseph was sold to Potiphar the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard. Potiphar recognized God’s favor on all Joseph did and so put him in charge of everything. Joseph was handsome and well built and Potiphar’s wife began to lust for him. However, Joseph, knowing the kindness of Potiphar and God as the source of it, avoided her not wanting to sin against God. Joseph’s moral integrity is contrasted with Judah’s moral decline. Persistence in doing right resulted in Potiphar’s wife getting angry and falsely accusing him of rape. When we honor our conscience before God knowing His kindness as the source of our blessings, it may cost us temporarily. Like Joseph, let us cling to the kindness of God making up our minds to do right regardless of the cost.

Matthew 13:18-23 “Be Careful How You Listen”

In Jesus’ interpretation of this parable, we learn a few factors impacting our reception of His message. First, the evil one actively seeks to steel it before it has a chance. Second, there is the failure of poor roots squelching it under the heat of life and its pressures. Third, worry and desire for wealth gradually strangle out any life being produced by the word. However, the one who persists in careful attention to hearing the word and understanding it, will have miraculous fruitfulness. The same seed bore differing results depending on the condition of the soil. There is no weakness in God’s word, but their are great differences in how we receive. God’s word is the key to life and fruitfulness, but how we listen is key to its impact in our lives.

Day 65

Genesis 38 “Avoid Dangerous Influences”

“And it came about at that time, that Judah DEPARTED FROM [emphasis mine] his brothers and visited a certain Adulamite, whose name was Hirah.” (1) Why does this story interrupt the narrative of Joseph? Judah was the one who came up with the idea to sell Joseph and his character is in dark contrast to Joseph’s. When he “departed from” his brothers and went to ‘visit’ an Adulamite, he ended becoming part of the culture by marriage. Separation from God’s family results in loss of healthy influences and exposure to ungodly ways. From this marriage came three sons two of whom God killed for their wickedness. In other words, mingling with this world does not produce any good thing. Judah also descended into bad behavior engaging with what he believed was a temple prostitute, but was his daughter-in-law. Like Dinah, Judah did not see the danger of separation from God’s family and integration with the ungodly world. God grant us wisdom to stay close to His family!

Matthew 13:1-17 “The Root Issue”

Jesus message and methods were the same wherever He went, but peoples’ response varied. Yet, He did not vary or adjust either of them. It was not an issue of flawed message or methods, but of flawed hearts. The parable of the soils is His explanation for contrasting responses to His ministry. Some people will not listen, look or return to God. Consequently, they are unable to hear, see or learn. Increasing the number of positive responses was not Jesus’ focus, but faithfulness to His Father’s message and methods. Attentiveness to God’s word and desire to hear Him enables us to learn and grow. It is not about where we start in this world, but how we humble ourselves and grow. May God give us ears to hear.

Day 64

Genesis 37 “From a Distance”

This story of Jacob’s line begins with an increasing hatred of Joseph by his brothers. First, Joseph gave a bad report of them to his father. Second, he was favored by Jacob over his brothers. Third, he received dreams of ruling over his them. When Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers, he seems naive of their growing jealousy and hatred. “When they saw him from a DISTANCE [emphasis mine], before he came close to them, the plotted against him to put him to death.” (18) These two phrases emphasize that his brothers really did not know him, but judged him from a distance. We must guard our hearts not to judge people ‘from a distance.’

Matthew 12:46-50 “An Expanding Family”

Jesus was approached by someone reporting that his family had arrived: “…’Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.’” (47b). He then clarified that His real family was not merely earthly, but all who willingly embrace His Father’s will. Consequently, His heart for those in God’s family was equal to that of His earthly family. This was not, in any way, an abandonment of responsibility to His natural family, but an expansion of it. Jesus saw beyond the earthly realm into eternity. His spiritual family was growing and would last though out eternity.

Day 63

Genesis 36 “Lesser Blessings”

Esau moved away from Jacob because the land of Canaan could not contain them both with God’s blessings on them. Though we have a detailed account of Esau’s descendants with many people, they lived outside of God’s promised land. Esau was not careful in the selection of his wives and mingled with the Canaanite peoples. We have a chapter dedicated to his lineage, but with Jacob, we have the rest of the Bible dedicated to his lineage. The momentary blessings occasionally found in doing our own thing pale in comparison to God’s eternal blessings when we follow him fully.

Matthew 12:38-45 “Deception Prevails in Empty Souls”

There was no sincerity in the religious leaders’ requested a sign from Jesus. Consequently, Jesus gave them a rebuke instead of a sign exposing the wicked status of their hearts. The only sign they would see was His death and resurrection paralleled by Jonah. While Jonah’s preaching brought Nineveh to repentance, they have ignored something far greater. While the Queen of the South traveled far to hear Solomon’s wisdom, they failed to see the greater wisdom Christ brought. Because they did not value the truth, there was no miracle able to convince them. Though this generation was exposed to powerful demonstrations of the Holy Spirit, they remained empty of God and filled with themselves. The result was a greater demonic deception leading to their judgment.

Day 62

Genesis 35 “God’s Presence, Our Assurance”

Jacob was in a difficult place due to the revenge his sons took on the city of Shechem. “Then God said,…” (1) The voice of God is key to our rising above our troubles. Jacob, however, had to deal with some issues in his family before he could move on in obedience to God’s directives. They had to remove the foreign God’s that interfered with the worship of the one true God. Second, they had to purify themselves from the anger and revenge that caused their actions. Third, they had to change their clothes which is what is seen by others. Even in these things, their journey back to Bethel was hit with the sadness of loss. Deborah, Rachel’s maid had died and she was mourned and then buried. But at their arrival at Bethel, God spoke to Jacob reassuring and clarifying His promises. So Jacob worshiped God and set up a permanent memorial of the encounter. As difficult as the trip back to Bethel was, it is here, in God’s presence, where we receive affirmation and clarity.

Matthew 12:33-37 “What Reveals Our Heart?”

Jesus had been bombarded with false and crazy accusations, but He did not see this as His problem. He clarified to His disciples that these words were indicators of the heart. “…For the mouth speaks out of what fills the heart.” (34b) Our words reflect what is in our hearts. In light of this, we ought to keep in mind Jesus words. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for in the day of judgement.” (36) What do our words say about our heart. We must pay careful attention to them and ask God to guard our hearts.

Day 61

Genesis 34 “Danger of Mingling”

In Jacob’s obedience to go home, not all went smoothly. His daughter Dinah “…went out to visit the daughters of the land.” (1b). In this way she became vulnerable and was raped by the Shechem the prince. Because of Jacob’s sons anger, they deceived the Shechem and his father pretending they would integrate if all the males were circumcised. Shechem, a rapist, was the most respected man of the city and convinced them to do this. But when they were in pain Simeon and Levi killed Shechem, his father and all the males and took back Dinah. The rest of the brothers looted the city and took both possessions and people. Jacob’s fear was now amplified and he rebuked his sons for making him odious and vulnerable to this land. God, in HIs mercy, kept them from integrating but now would bring Jacob back to Bethel to deal with his fears. May God give us wisdom to maintain a healthy separation from this world’s influences on us and our families.

Matthew 12:22-32 “No Adjustment Necessary”

While miracles opened the eyes of many to know Jesus was the Christ, many rejected Him even attributing His power over demons to His being in relationship with the ruler of demons. Jesus’ response exposed the foolishness of their argument and error of their motives. Then He says, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (28). This exposed their real issue. Jesus’ rule threatened their places of power and comfort. Then He exposed the seriousness and danger of attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to the demonic realm. Jesus’ failure to reach these Pharisees was not a failure of method, but a heart condition. We must be careful not to adjust our message or methods to accommodate the hard hearted.

Day 60

Genesis 33:12-22 “Building Altars”

In spite of Esau’s warm greeting, Jacob is hesitant to receive help from him in his journey. So Esau headed to Seir while Jacob made his way to Succoth where he built booths for his animals. He then journeyed to Shechem where he purchased land and built an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel (God the God of Israel). It is so important to establish altars in our journey. God is our God who willingly and lovingly guides His children when they humbly call on Him. Even in our struggle with fear and other flaws, if we are willing to seek Him, the Lord will guide us.

Matthew 12:15-21 “Be Undistracted!”

When Jesus faced great opposition, He did not argue or fight for acceptance, but simply moved on to finish His task. “HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT; NOR WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS.” (19) As God’s servant, Jesus did not resort to His own ideas and methods, but persisted in the power of God’s Spirit to complete His mission. We must not allow the rejection, resistance or opposition of others to derail us into escalated volume and militancy. Instead, by the power of the Holy Spirit we stay on track with what God has given us to do. May God give us His grace not to get caught up in arguments and activities that do not further His kingdom and purpose for the church. In Jesus, (who He is, what He has done and what He has said) is the hope of nations. We are anointed by God with power to bring hope and not an argument. Our warfare is not against men.

Day 59

Genesis 33:1-11 “Facing Our Fears?”

For Jacob to obey God, he had to face his own fear(s). His last recollection of Esau was of an angry man seeking to kill him. Now he was approaching with 400 men. So he sent gifts ahead of him, ordered his family’s approach according to his attachment, and then went ahead to meet his brother. However, things did not go as expected and his fears were entirely unwarranted. Esau, instead of seeking revenge, was full of affection and joy in seeing his brother. He even tried to talk Jacob out of his gifts. Jacob saw this as the favor of God. We cannot overcome our fears if we do not face them. May God give us the courage to obey Him over all contrary emotions! Things are not always what they seem.

Matthew 12:9-21 “True Religion or Mere Tradition”

After a discussion of the Sabbath, Jesus entered a synagogue where there was a man with a withered hand. “…And they questioned Jesus, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’-so that they might accuse Him.” (10b) These people were not genuinely interested in seeing the man healed, but were motivated by a desire to humiliate and silence Jesus. They thought they had Him, but Jesus humiliated them by showing they had more concern for their animals then for this broken man. “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” (14) People strongly attached to religious traditions lack compassion and are difficult to reach or teach. No miracle, or argument, moves them due to an idolatrous attachment to their traditions. Jesus did not waste time arguing with them, but simply moved on to minister to those with an open heart.

Day 58

Genesis 32 “Transformed & Blessed!”

In Jacob’s obedience to God’s directive, angels met him. Then he sent messengers to seek Esau’s favor because he feared him. They returned with the report that Esau was coming with four hundred men. “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed;…” (7a) Jacob’s increased fear moved him to make a plan for escape. Then he turned to God and prayed reminding Him of His promises, confessing his fear and then reminding Him again. He also prepared a gift to appease Esau and find favor. Finally, Jacob separated himself from his family and his possessions, and wrestled ALONE with God through the night. “…But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’” (26b) As he confessed who he was, Jacob (deceiver), God promised to transform him to Israel (he who strives with God). When Jacob asked His name, God promised to bless him. Confessing his true nature and pursuing God’s nature, resulted in both transformation and blessing!

Matthew 12:8 “Compassion, Not Sacrifice!”

When Jesus’ disciples got hungry on the Sabbath, they picked heads of grain to eat. The Pharisees immediately condemned them saying it was not lawful. Legalistic views of God’s word bring condemnation and death. They had missed the real purpose of the Sabbath which was to benefit man and used it to condemn men. Jesus’ words are profound here: “But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (7) May God give us hearts of compassion for those He chooses and blesses. “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (8)

Day 57

Genesis 31 “God Is Over Our Enemies”

Jacob had served Laban 20 years becoming uncomfortable with Laban’s attitude toward him. Then God spoke to him about returning to his family. He explains this to his spouses and they were in agreement to leave. God often uses our discomfort, His own voice, and a sense of agreement with our spouse, to make radical changes in our direction. But Jacob still struggled with FEAR leading him to DECEIVE Laban and leave secretly. God permits Laban to catch up, but does not allow him to harm Jacob. God demonstrates His care for Jacob and His sovereignty over Jacob’s enemies. This is a pivotal point for Jacob as God effectively deals with his fear and deception which characterized his nature. We can trust God with our enemies.

Matthew 11:25-27 “Only Jesus Reveals God!”

We think Jesus miracles guarantees success. Yet, He was rejected by the majority. How did He handle this? “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” (25) Truth and spiritual reality are not gained by wisdom and intelligence, but by humbly coming to Jesus. He is the only one who can open our eyes to the Father. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father;…” (27) God does not give knowledge of Himself to those who merely pursue Him intellectually. Knowledge comes to those who humbly persist in turning to Jesus to receive revelation from and of God. Like Christ, when our testimony is rejected, we must remember only Christ can reveal the Father.

Day 56

Genesis 30 “Satisfied in God Alone”

“Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die.’” (1) Rachel’s frustration over being childless led to jealousy leading to an unreasonable demand. Jacob’s response reveals the reality; “…’Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’” (2b). This escalated the tension as they gave their maids to Jacob as wives to have sons. God saw Leah’s hurt and gave her more sons, but not reversing the pain of the distance she was experiencing with her husband. “Then God remembered Rachel,…” (22a) giving her a relief from the reproach, but still longing for another son. Only when we are content in God can the pain of earthly relationships be healed. May we have the wisdom to turn to God alone!

Matthew 11:16-24 “Failed Methods or Hard Hearts?”

The ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus held distinct strategies, but were both ignored with excuses. This was not a failure of message or method, but an unwillingness to repent. “Then he began to denounce the cities to which most of the miracles were done, because they did not repent.” (20) From here, Jesus rebuked these communities for their hardness of heart in comparison to those who had experienced God’s severe judgement in Biblical history. Churches today often abandon the need for miracles developing new strategies and methods to deal with the unrepentant. We must be careful we do not compromise the Gospel by seeking to develop strategies void of the power of God. God will judge those who reject His message and we must persist in pursuing God’s fullness and power in our churches.

Day 55

Genesis 29:31-35 “Created to Love”

Because Jacob so loved Rachel, Leah felt unloved. So God opened her womb giving her four sons: The first three [Reuben, Simeon and Levi] she viewed as God’s attempt to get Jacob’s attention to love her more. But the fourth son, she saw differently. “And she conceived again and bore a son and said, ‘THIS TIME [emphasis mine] I will praise the LORD.’ Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.” (35) God does wonderful things for us, but often we miss His primary goal is to reveal His great love for us and His desire for us to turn more fully to Him. We will never know true and satisfying love until we turn to the God Who is love. When we do this, nothing can separate us from Him Who satisfies our deepest longings. We were created to be loved by God and to love Him.

Matthew 11:7-15 “God’s Reign Births Greatness”

Everyone knew John the Baptist was a man of significance, but Jesus points out his greatness was realized in preparing men to receive Him. Then Jesus made an astounding statement: “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (11). Life was not easy for John and those who desire to prepare others to receive Christ will suffer and engage in spiritual warfare. Let us not be disheartened, for the least among us is destined for greatness being part of God’s kingdom. Wherever God reigns there is greatness!

Day 54

Genesis 29:15-30 “Process to Character”

“And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. Now Jacob. Loved Rachel, so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’” (17-18) Because of his love for Rachel, time flew. When Jacob requested payment, Laban made a feast and, after dark, gave Jacob Leah instead of Rachel. In the morning he realized Laban’s deception and challenged him. So Laban gave him Rachel also after the week was completed with Leah and Jacob agreed to seven more years of labor. In this deception, God begins dealing with Jacob about his own conniving ways. Jacob received the promise of the birthright and blessing, but now God is grooming him for the reality of their fulfillment by transforming his character. The blessing of character is critical to genuine greatness and often demands a lengthy process.

Matthew 11:1-6 “God’s Love Is Firm & Perfect!”

“…John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (2-3) Though John heard God’s voice and saw the Spirit come upon on Him, while in prison with threats of death, he became confused. His imprisonment was inconsistent with what he believed. So Jesus sent word to him: ‘…’Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. And blessed is he who does not take offense in Me.” (4b-6). We must not be offended when our circumstances are inconsistent with what we believe about God. God’s love for us is both firm and perfect regardless of our perceptions.

Day 53

Genesis 29 “Obedience & Fruitfulness”

As Jacob approached the area of his parents designation, he came to flocks of sheep and their shepherds waiting to roll away a big stone to water their sheep. When he inquired about Laban, they pointed out Rachel his daughter who was coming with his flock. When Jacob saw the fruitfulness of his obedience, he rolled the stone, watered the sheep and introduced himself as her relative. Not only was Jacob excited about this, but Laban also enthusiastically received him. The honoring of his parents’ instruction, began to reap a fruitful and positive return. Obedience to healthy God ordained authority yields a good result.

Matthew 10:32-42 “It Is Worth It All”

Jesus teaches us if we honor Him before this world, He will represent us to the Father in Heaven. Sometimes, however, honoring Jesus will bring divisions and complications to some of our most intimate relationships. The challenge here is to persist in loving God above every other relationship we have. Any loss we experience will be well compensated in eternity. God will not ignore or overlook our losses or our simplest acts of kindness toward Him and His servants.

Day 52

Genesis 28:10-22 “Blessed Being Under Authority”

While Esau ignored his parents input persisting in his own ways, Jacob obeyed his parents and left for Haran to find a wife. In the cloud of his brother’s anger, separation from his family, and in obedience to his parents, Jacob received a prophetic dream of encouragement from the Lord. He saw a ladder set up on earth reaching heaven with angels of God going up and down it. While this was fulfilled in Christ who is the ladder (John 1:51), Jacob is also assured both of God’s promises and presence in this lonely journey. Jacob’s response was to set up a memorial and to commit to worship God by giving Him a tithe of all his increase. When we honor the authorities in our lives, we can walk in the assurance of God’s favor, promises and presence.

Matthew 10:24-31 “Knowing God Removes Fear”

We are called to be Jesus’ disciples and this means we are to become like Him. We also understand that if Jesus suffered false accusations [mostly from the religious crowd], as members of His family, we also can expect to be maligned. “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” (26) We can rest in an understanding God does not allow anyone to get away with opposing His children. We are told not to fear those who can cause us death, but to fear God who holds our eternal destiny. The smallest of birds do not die without our Father knowing. God has intimate and detailed understanding of every aspect of our lives. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. SO DO NOT FEAR; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (30-31) We will be a fearless people when we understand the nature of our God in His power, and when we live in the realization of the great value and love He has for us. So we rest in knowing Who God is, knowing who we are to Him and HIs diligent care for us!

Day 51

Genesis 27:41 – 28:9 “Avoiding Unhealthy Choices”

When Rebekah heard Esau was planning to kill Jacob, she utilized a common concern of a healthy marriage partner to send him to her brother Laban. Esau, seeking his parents approval, but not their input, married based on his own choice. Esau realized his marriage displeased his parents, so he took another wife from the line of Ishmael. Selfishness, anger and jealousy, do not provide the perspective needed for healthy life decisions. Esau did not value his birthright or his parents input, and thus, persisted in making bad choices seeking to satisfy his own selfish heart. Yet, Jacob carefully listened and obeyed his parents and the blessing of God went with him.

Matthew 10:16-23 “The Measure of Success”

When sending out His disciples, Jesus did not paint a rosy picture. They should be shrewd, but harmless. They should be cautious of men’s motives and anticipate opposition. However, all such opposition will provide them greater opportunity to testify of the Lord and God will give them what to say at the right time. Thought they can expect betrayal and hatred, they must make up their minds to endure it so their souls would be saved. They should not waste time arguing, but when persecuted just keep moving on to finish their assigned task. We also, should anticipate opposition or persecution remaining faithful to our Lord’s directives. Success is not measure in the responses of others, but in our faithfulness and persistence to follow our Lord’s instructions.

Day 50

Genesis 27:30-40 “Treasuring God’s Blessings?”

As soon as Jacob left his father, Esau returned from his hunt and cooked a meal for his father. As he approached Isaac with the meal for the blessing, it became apparent what Jacob had done and he told Esau he had given it to his bother. Esau then said, “…’Is he not rightly called Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away MY birthright, and behold, now he has taken away MY blessing…’” (36b). Esau’s failure to value his inheritance and blessing caused a misperception that Jacob had stolen it. In Hebrews it points out to us Esau sold his birthright fo a single meal. Esau also blamed his dad for not reserving a blessing for him. God has immeasurable blessings for His children, but do we value them or are we selling out for some cheap thrill in this life? May God give us the wisdom and grace to treasure His blessings!

Mathew 10:1-15 “In the Presence of Jesus”

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” (1) Those whom Jesus sent out were of those who were already following Him. They were not perfect men, but flawed individuals willingly following Jesus. Their mission was well defined and their method of operation was specific. In His presence, they received authority for healing and instructions in motivations, message and methods. They did not receive these due to their religious performance, but from being with Jesus. Could it be the church today lacks power and effectiveness due to her failure to spend time in the presence of Jesus? Let us get in His presence to receive both power and instructions.

Day 49

Genesis 27:1-29 “Don’t Trust Your Feelings”

When Isaac grew old and began losing his sight, he instructed Esau to go hunting, make him a savory dish, and in turn, he would give him a father’s blessing. But Rebekah overheard and plotted with the younger son Jacob to deceive his father to receive the blessing. Jacob hesitated fearing he would get caught. When Jacob approached his father, he was clothed with Esau’s best and used goats hair to simulate Esau’s hairy body. “Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Please come close, that I may FEEL you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.’” (20) Isaac noticed his voice sounded like Jacob, but felt his hairy hands thinking they were Esau’s. Trusting his feelings, he kissed Jacob and gave him the blessing. Even in this deceit, Jacob demonstrated he valued the blessing. Also, we learn from Isaac we should not trust our feelings. We must rise above our feeling to trust and treasure God’s word.

Matthew 9:32-38 “Appeal to the Lord of the Harvest”

Jesus cast out a demon from a mute man who immediately began speaking. While the crowds were amazed, the religious leaders said, “…’He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.’” (34b). Jesus was not deterred by their criticism, but persisted in his ministry of teaching and healing all kinds of disease and sickness. “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (36) Jesus then turned to His disciples encouraging them to plead with ‘the Lord of the harvest’ to commission more workers into this great harvest field. It was not just an issue of lack of workers, but an issue of workers not under the directives of the Lord of the harvest. Let us appeal and yield to the Lord of the harvest.

Day 48

Genesis 26 “Fear Is a Liar!”

Like his father, Isaac struggled with fears that God exposed through trials. Because he honored God’s word and stayed in the land during a famine, an insecurity or fear became visible. Like his father, he lied calling his wife his sister fearing for his life. God intervened addressing that fear. Another fear he struggled with was that of inadequate provision of water. Isaac dug the wells of his father but encountered conflict until God caused the locals to fear him. After the well of Beer-sheba was dug, God spoke to him saying, “…’I am the God of you father Abraham; Do not FEAR, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham.’” God addresses Isaac, but does not condemn him. He promises him His presence, prosperity and purpose. We must remember, fear is a liar!

Matthew 9:23-31 “Comfort or Miracle?”

When Jesus arrived at the synagogue official’s home, He witnessed a loud expression of mourning. “He said, ‘LEAVE; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.’…” (24) Jesus did not enter the house UNTIL the crowd of mourners were put out. Then He took her hand and commanded her to get up. “This news spread throughout all that land.” (26) Sometimes we meed to ‘put out’ the mourners and sympathizers, to make room for Jesus in our situation. Yet, many cling to the comforters squeezing out the presence of the healer. As a result, they receive comfort rather than a miracle. Let us not allow the voices of sympathy to drown out the presence of our healer.

Day 47

Genesis 25:12-34 “Valuing Our Inheritance”

Rebekah was barren 20 years until, “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife,..” (21a). Rebekah conceived twins but they struggled in her, “…So she went to inquire of the LORD.” (23). God responded to both Isaac and Rebekah when they prayed. She received a prophetic word clarifying the struggle. The boys were different with differing destinies. At birth Jacob held on to Esau’s heel who was born first. Esau was favored by his dad as a hunter, but Jacob was favored by his mother for he was a peaceful man who stayed home. When Jacob was cooking, Esau returned from an unsuccessful hunt asking for his stew. But Jacob made a deal with him to give up his birthright. “Thus Esau despised his birthright.” (34b). It was not that Esau hated or did not want the birthright, but that he did not value it over his fleshly appetites. May God give us wisdom, courage and strength, to value our spiritual inheritance above our fleshly appetites.

Matthew 9:18-22 “Jesus Loves the Undeserving”

An important man, a synagogue official, approached Jesus humbly regarding his daughter who died. Though he was a faithful religious man, Jesus stopped his journey to minister to a woman who had a hemorrhage and should not have even been in public. “But Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well.” (22) Many today are raised in religious systems promoting a belief that to experience God’s power and favor in our lives, we must earn His favor. Yet, here it is evident that our Heavenly Father wants to do good to the undeserving to prove His great love for those whom this world views as underserving.

Day 46

Genesis 25:1-11 “Ending Well – Satisfied”

After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah who bore him sons. He gave gifts to them, but to Isaac he gave all he had. He sent those sons eastward separating them from Isaac. Abraham’s journey was not without its challenges and disappointments, but each of these became part of what shaped him so he could ‘end well.’ “Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and SATISFIED with life;…” (8a) We are surrounded dissatisfied people. Whose example will we follow? Let us follow the example of Abraham who persisted in faith in God, who knew disappointments and failures, but rose above them all by leaning and focusing on Who God is. Only when our focus is on God in faith are we able to end well and be satisfied.

Matthew 9:14-17 “Preserving God’s Presence”

John’s disciples criticized Jesus’ disciples for not fasting. Jesus explained that fasting is not a mere religious activity, but a mourning at His absence. His presence is not to be mourned, but celebrated. We must be careful not to turn spiritual disciplines into mere religious activity. When we cling to forms, we miss the fresh move of God and lose the wonderful sense of His presence. We hold our religious structures loosely and need to be willing to change to accommodate what God is doing now. If there is no sense of God’s presence in our forms, they have become useless. May God give us wisdom so we might enjoy the ongoing pleasure of His presence among us.

Day 45

Genesis 24:52-67 “Restrictions or Rewards?”

“The servant bought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her bother and to her mother.” (54) Like Abraham’s servant, the Spirit filled servant demonstrates the wealth, generosity and longing of the Lord to show that the journey to follow Christ is well worth the trip. To many times Christianity is seen for her restrictions rather than the rewards of following Jesus. Nothing is more powerful in calling people to follow Jesus, than a demonstration of Christ’s wealth, generosity and longing toward lost souls.

Matthew 9:9-13 “The Heart of Christ”

Jesus often reached out to the worst of sinners. Matthew the tax collector was one of these. By reaching out to Matthew, Jesus attracted others in this same category bringing scorn from the religious folk. Yet, they did not approach Jesus, but confronted His disciples. This indirect style is the way of spiritual cowards who sought to sow distrust in Jesus, not to discover the truth. When Jesus heard this, He confronted them directly saying it is not the healthy but the sick who need a doctor. Then He said, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (13). Those who know God, understand this and have a big heart toward the lost. Others, have no heart for the lost being preoccupied with what they do for God and not what He has done for them and others.

Day 44

Genesis 24:28-51 “Effective Evangelism – 5” “Passion and Urgency”

Rebekah and her family enthusiastically received the servant seeing God’s hand in this meeting. Laban, Her brother, tended to him and his camels and provided a meal. “But when food was set before him to eat, he said, ‘I will not eat until I have told my business.’ …’” (33) He refused to eat until he had declared with PASSION and URGENCY his purpose. He not only spoke of his master’s wealth, but of God’s hand in every part of his journey to find a bride for Isaac. So convincing was his story, that Laban said, “…’The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good.’” (50b). Is there passion and urgency in our message to this world? If not, could it be because we have not sought or seen God’s sovereign hand in our journey to obey Him in our mission?

Matthew 9:1-8 “Jesus Honors Faith!”

Earlier Jesus healed people being motivated by compassion and a desire to fulfill Scripture. Here, He was motivated to minister to this paralytic because of the faith of those who brought him, and to reveal who He was to skeptics. First, Jesus extends forgiveness to the man arousing accusations from the scribes. But then, He heals the man to prove who He was. While it agitated the scribes, it motivated the crowds to be “…awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” (8b). We are so grateful to our God for extending that same authority through His Son to all who follow Jesus. He was not only moved by compassion and obedience, but by the faith of those who persist to bring others to Him.

Day 43

Genesis 24:12-21 “Effective Evangelism – 4” “Demonstrate God’s Wealth”

“Before he had finished speaking,…” (15a) The servant prayed for a sign and God honored his prayer before he even finished. Rebekah’s actions were exactly as the servant requested giving confirmation that she was the woman of God’s choice. Then he took samples of his master’s wealth and gave them to her. Note he did not demonstrate his own wealth or talent, but his masters. We MUST demonstrate the wealth of Christ to all we invite to follow Him. We should be careful not to cloud our mission by drawing attention to ourselves, but demonstrate the wealth of God’s kingdom to all we are testifying. When Rebekah invited him to stay, the servant gave thanks and worshiped the Lord for His guidance and success.

Matthew 8:28-34 “A Miracle Causes Rejection”

Jesus left crowds to cross the sea and serve two demoniacs. “…two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.” (28b) Violence is a characteristic of demonic activity. The Gadarenes had abandoned God’s word and embraced contrary activity. The demons asked Jesus to send them into a herd of swine likely thinking this was a safe place. Jesus did so and they all drowned ruining the business of the swine farmers. Again, Jesus drew a crowd due to this miracle: “…the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.” (34b). Jesus was concerned for the freedom of the demoniacs, but willingly left the city of the Gadarenes to their rebellious lifestyles.

Day 42

Genesis 24:12-21 “Effective Evangelism – 3” “Guided in Prayer”

After arriving at a place where women assembled to draw water, the servant turned to God in prayer. He asked for favor, success and specific directives as to which one was appointed by God as Isaac’s bride. Sharing our testimony should not be random or comprehensive, but led by God’s Spirit through the humility and dependence on God in prayer. Though God has called us to testify of His kingdom and His King, He did not leave us to do this by our own skills, methods or gifting. He has given us His Holy Spirit to lead us, empower us, and guide us in the process.

Matthew 8:18-27 “Unconditional Surrender for Discipleship”

In the excitement of Jesus’ ministry, He was not governed by crowds. “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave odes to depart to the other side of the sea.” (18) There were disciples seeking to follow Him, but Jesus narrowed the path so they would not follow with false expectation or reality. He made no promise of comfort, convenience or compromise. His message was straight forward and clear. Following Jesus involves an unconditional surrender to the will of His Father. We often speak of Christ’s unconditional love, but it is conditioned on unconditional surrender.

Day 41

Genesis 24:9-14 “Effective Evangelism – 2” “What’s in Your Hand?”

“Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand;…” (10a) Like the servant, when we are seeking a bride for Christ [evangelizing], we need to load up on what comes from our Father/Master carrying it by what belongs to Him. To many of us are trying to improve our skills rather than going to God for His treasures and carrying it to this world by the power of God. True evangelism, or bringing people into the body/bride of Christ, will only be successful when we take what belongs to and comes from God. Like the apostles in Acts, we should be noted as having been with Jesus. What’s in Your Hand?

Matthew 8:14-17 “What’s Our Motivation”

Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick, touched her hand and healed her. This was not dramatic, but simple. By that evening, people were bringing to Him the demon-possessed and He cast them out, and He healed all who were ill. Again, His purpose in this was not self or ministry promotion, but compassion and to fulfill God’s word. “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.’” (17b) We are not only to do the deeds of Christ (John 14), but we must do them with the motivation of Christ.

Day 40

Genesis 24:1-9 “Effective Evangelism – 1”

We see a beautiful picture of evangelism as Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son. Abraham symbolizes the Father, Isaac – the Son, and the servant – Spirit filled servants of God. This man proved himself to be faithful in responsibilities. Abraham not only told him where to go, but where not to go in this mission. He was not to compromise the object of the mission or the methods for the purpose of success. The servant loaded up with much wealth to “demonstrate” the benefits of committing to the son in marriage. If he was not successful, he was released to return home but warned not to take his son back to that place. Today, as servants of God, we are to be tested, equipped to demonstrate the wealth of God’s kingdom, and unwilling to vary from our Lord’s directives.

Matthew 8:5-13 “The Source of Authority?”

Jesus was begged by a centurion to heal his servant. He quickly asserted willingness to go and heal him, but the centurion objected saying he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his home. The faith of the centurion was not in who he was, but in who Jesus was: “For I also am a man UNDER authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ And he goes, to another, ‘Come!’ And he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ And he does it.” (9) Note the centurion understood that authority over things, comes from being under authority. Today, many of us rebel and reject authority, seeing ourselves as judges of authority, rather than those who honor authority.. Yet, we are clearly instructed in Scripture to respect authority in the home, community, government and church. Many have little or no authority in their lives, because they are unwilling to come under God designed and defined authority. May God give us wisdom to see the importance of coming under authority.

Day 39

Genesis 23 “Great Loss & Moving On”

Abraham had lived in the promise land for about 62 years without owning any land. At the death of His wife, he purchased a field and a cave for her burial. Ephron, the owner of the land, wanted to give it to him, but Abraham insisted on paying a fair price. The only land Abraham would own in this promised land would be a burial ground for his precious wife. Twice he refers to burying his dead “out of my sight.” As much as he loved his wife, he needed to move on with his life. Great loss can become an idol anchoring us in our past and preventing us from moving on in what God has for us. May God grant us wisdom and courage to bury our dead OUT OF OUR SIGHT so we can move on in all He has remaining for us.

Matthew 8:1-4 “God Is Able & Willing!”

Jesus was followed by great crowds because of His teaching. “And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’” (2b) Many believe Jesus has the power to heal, but are not confident He is WILLING to heal.They know they are not worthy so their faith fails not knowing God’s God’s loving nature. Jesus healed the man being moved by compassion and not for the promotion of His ministry. When we understand the nature of God, our faith is strengthened and we are healed. May God give us revelation to know He is willing to heal, not because we are worthy, but because of Who He is! Our God is full of love, compassion and mercy.

Day 38

Genesis 22:9-24 “Hard Tests, High Purposes”

In this test of Abraham’s obedience to offer Isaac as a burnt offering, we see many parallels to our Heavenly Father offering His Son on our behalf. Isaac was the only begotten son whom he loved. For three days Isaac was dead in Abraham’s heart. Isaac carried the wood upon which he was to be sacrificed. Isaac was at the place of God’s designation. At the time of Isaac’s “resurrection” the birth of his future bride is announced. We must ask God to open our spiritual eyes to see what great things He is accomplishing through our most severe trials. This great parallel to the crucifixion of Christ shows God’s predetermined plan, incredible love for lost humanity and His sovereignty over all our trials.

Matthew 7:24-29 “Build on the Rock!”

This parable of wise and foolish men points out an essential element to our faith so we stand when facing the storms of life. The critical distinction is in the foundation, the wise man building on a rock and the foolish building on sand. The rock represents all who hear Christ’s words and ACTS on them. The sand represents those who hear Christ’s words but do NOT act on them. Hearing or reading a good message is useless unless we apply God’s word in it. All of us face storms, but where we are after the storm is directly related to what we have done with what we have heard.

Day 37

Genesis 22:4-8 “Trusting in Contradiction”

This act of obedience to God directly conflicts with the promises Abraham received from God. Abraham had to lay Isaac on the altar of burnt offering and trust God in what seemed like a direct contradiction to His promise. Here he separated from those who accompanied him and went to the place of God’s designation alone with God and the son of His promise. To those with him, he said, “…I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” (5b) This is an incredible statement of faith! Why? Because Abraham was about to slay his son and offer him as a burnt offering. Yet, he believed God would raise him from the dead. Obeying God requires we cling to His promises regardless of what appears to contradict them. We may be tested to see if we love God more than His promises and gifts to us.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Deception of Religion”

“Not everyone who says to Me. ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (21) Modern Christianity often dumbs down the cost of our faith. Here Jesus challenges those who think that by clinging to religious traditions and forms they can enter God’s kingdom. Yet, entrance is not to those who are religious, but to those who follow Christ in a manner that is life transforming. We are known by our fruit and not our disciplines or religious practices. Fruit is what comes forth naturally because of who and what we are rooted in. Let us abide in Christ bearing good fruit.

Day 36

Genesis 22:1-3 “God or His Blessings?”

Abraham overcame many fears, grew in faith and knowledge of God, but here faced his greatest test. God speaks to him, “…’Take now your son, your ONLY son, whom you LOVE, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering…” (2b). Having released Ismael, Abraham placed all his hope and love in Isaac. Now God asked him to give Isaac, whom he loved, back to Him in a worship offering. God had dealt with his fears, but now was putting his love for Him to the tests. Now God would see if he loved Him or His blessings more. Abraham did not delay, but rose early and made preparations for the journey to obey the Lord. One reason Abraham defeated every fear, was because of His love and trust relationship with God Who was progressively revealed through various trials. When we love God more than His blessings, we will stand victorious to every challenge of our faith.

Matthew 7:15-20 “Beware of False Prophets!”

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…” (15-16a) This warning challenges us to take responsibility for our own security against deceptive and destructive influences. People of influence, in ministry, may appear harmless and even entertaining. Yet, when you examine the fruit of their lives, their true nature is quite different. They are those who take advantage of others for their own benefit, as ravenous wolves. Fruit, does not necessarily show up in their teaching or ministry, but is revealed in the character emerging in life’s flow and trials. The fruit of our lives depends upon the roots of our lives. Do these influencers serve out of their connection with Christ or out of their own selfish nature. May God give us the wisdom to look beyond charisma to the character as a measure of who people are and be protected from what is false.

Day 35

Genesis 21:22-34 “Blessing Our Enemies?”

Previously, Abraham confessed to Abimelech the fear behind his lie and prayed for him. Now Abimelech expresses fear of Abraham and asks him to swear by God that he will not deal falsely with him or his offspring. At this point Abraham has the courage to complain of injustice regarding a well he had dug which Abimelech’s servants seized. Then Abraham blessed Abimelech with sheep and oxen. “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” (33) When we pray for and bless our enemies, we are able to live in peace as we call and lean upon our Everlasting God.

Matthew 7:13-14 “What Path Are We On?”

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (13-14) Christianity is not a religion of ease, but we receive grace to enter and live in the narrow path leading to life. Many today promote the grace of God as a means to life granting a broad path of entrance and walk of ease. However, Jesus declared He is the only entrance and living in obedience to Him is the only path to life. Grace does not grant us liberty to live as we wish, but the power to live as we should. Jesus stated our righteousness must exceed the outward observance of laws and become a righteousness engraved on our hearts. Let’s not follow the crowds or trends, but embrace the path of life pursuing and following fully our Lord Jesus Christ.

Day 34

Genesis 21:9-21 “Let It Go!”

“Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.” (9) This provoked Sarah to ask Abraham to get rid of Hagar and her son. But this distressed him for Ishmael was his son and he was now attached to him. God spoke to Abraham to heed his wife promising to protect and provide for Ishmael, but it would be through Isaac God’s promise would come. When what is produced by the flesh observes the celebration of what comes by the promise through the Spirit, in jealousy there is mocking. What is God’s solution? Get rid of the flesh [Ishmael] and the flesh producer [Hagar the Egyptian] (Galatians 4:30). Though we have developed attachments to what is born of the flesh, we must let it go to enjoy what is born of the Spirit. The pain of loss is soon be replaced by the joy of what is produced from the promise by the Spirit. Interestingly, Hagar gets a wife for her son from Egypt.

Matthew 7:7-12 “Love Without Fear”

Jesus encourages us to be aggressive in pursuing what comes from our Heavenly Father. If earthly sinful fathers give what is good and beneficial to their children, how much more will our perfect and all powerful heavenly Father give to us what is good when we ask. “In everything, THEREFORE, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (12) The “Therefore” here points back to the faith we have in our heavenly Father. Understanding His incredible love and generosity to us, we are safe in extending His love and kindness to others. No fear can derail us for we rest in our heavenly Father’s love and power.

Day 33

Genesis 21:8 “Celebrating ‘Little’ Things!”

Abraham obeyed God’s word regarding circumcision at eight days of age exactly as He had commanded. Not only was there great joy at his birth, but Abraham celebrated Isaac’s progress by giving a great feast “…on the day that he was weaned.” (8b). God had promised Abraham greatness and a great nation 25 years before (12:2), but Abraham and Sarah did not wait until the fulfillment of the prophecy to celebrate. We need to be careful not to despise the day of “small thing” (Zechariah 4:10) but engage in joyful recognition of God’s works. When we rejoice in “small things,” God is released in our lives to do great things.

Matthew 7:6 “Valuing God’s Gems”

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (6) In the excitement of God revealing to us precious truths, we often blurt them out to those who have no appreciation for them. Jesus is sharing wonderful insights here, but instructs His disciples not to waste their time trying to give them to those who do not value them. In fact, by so doing, the truth is trampled and hostility is stirred and there is no benefit to anyone. May God grant us wisdom in sharing His jewels so He is glorified and others are strengthened.

Day 32

Genesis 21:1-7 “God’s Timing Is Best”

“Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised.” (1) God always comes through with His promises. They may appear delayed, but are in His perfect time for our perfect benefit and testimony to His power. Not only did this birth bring joy, but laughter, especially in regards to the miraculous nature of Isaac’s birth. “Sarah said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’” (6) God’s timing is so much better than ours. Let us not fear, but trust God to bring about His promises in His time for our benefit and His glory!

Matthew 7:1-6 “Effectively Serving Others”

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by the standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (1-2) Jesus gives attention to this sinful human tendency to be critical of the flaws in others while, at the same time, overlooking greater flaws within ourselves. When we are judgmental, it is symptomatic of our failure to address our own problems. We sometimes see parents highly critical of the behavior of children and failure of their parents, while worse behavior exists in their own. When we seek God to deal with our own issues, we are far more compassionate in ministering to the issues of others. May God give us the wisdom to focus on ourselves in a way that enables us to effectively serve and help others.

Day 31

Genesis 20 “Lies Rooted in Fear”

This second time Abraham and Sarah lied about their relationship, it was rooted in a deep seated fear rooted in a wrong perceptions. “Abraham said, ‘Because I thought,…’” (11) Like Abraham, our lies are often tied to fears created by misperception. It is interesting God deals with Abraham by speaking to Abimelech. God uses the one Abraham perceived as ungodly to correct his perception of Himself. God calls Abraham, who lied, a prophet whom Abimelech needed to intercede for him. In Abraham’s confession he admits this fear, but also justifies his lie by saying it was partly true. Yet, when Abraham prayed, God healed Abimelech’s household. God is able to use the ungodly who appear as enemies, to expose our hidden fears and correct our perceptions of Him.

Matthew 6:25-34 “Adjusting Priorities to Beat Worry”

Jesus exposes the foolishness of worrying about provisions by pointing out the Heavenly Father’s care for the birds, creation, and our greater value to Him as His children. He also points out worry adds nothing. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (30) Fear of insufficient provision is rooted in a wrong perception of God our Father. Consequently, we should adjust our priorities to seek God’s rule and righteousness above all these less important matters knowing He cares for us. We should not add unnecessary stress to our day, but look beyond temporal needs to secure eternal needs from our Heavenly Father.

Day 30

Genesis 19 “Influence by Intercession”

Although Lot recognized the two angels as special visitors, they did not concede to stay with him without begging. Lot had no influence over the corrupt community he lived in, his family or his future sons-in-laws. When warned to flee to the mountains for safety, Lot negotiated with them to settle in a small city. They fled from Sodom and Gomorrah and God rained fire and brimstone on these wicked cities. “But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (26) Regardless of his personal convictions, Lot was unable to prevent his wife from becoming attached to this wicked place, but “…God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow,…” (29b). His daughters were so corrupt they were convinced the only way to continue their line was through incest. We must remember who God remembered when He rescued Lot!

Matthew 6:19-24 “Investing In Eternity!”

In God’s kingdom security does not come through our savings or earthly investments, but through investments in heaven. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (20) In fact, in the model prayer given by Jesus, He asserts we are to ask for one days supply only! If we invest in heaven then our hearts will be focused on heaven. Our heart follows our investments. In fact, He warns us further that incorrect use and attitudes about finances cloud our perceptions and darken our souls. “No one can serve two masters;…” (24a) Let us escape the grip of worldly views of finances and security by investing our earthly resources into the cause of God’s kingdom and eternity [heaven]. There they are not subject to thievery, stock market crashes, political changes or any other earthly influences. Only by investing in heaven are we truly secure and able to keep our hearts in the right place.

Day 29

Genesis 18:1-15 “Interceding for the Unworthy”

Abraham yielded the choice of land to Lot and Lot ended up in great trouble. After Abraham rescued him and his family, Lot still chose to dwell among wicked influences placing him and his family in danger of God’s judgment. Lot’s children mingled with the wicked and he lost all influence for good over them and the city. Yet, Abraham pleaded before God for the entire city. Regardless of the persistence of people’s selfishness or how ungrateful they are to our service, we must persist in intercession before our God on their behalf. This Abraham exemplifies. Let us take our place as intercessors for the unworthy because we also have and do receive from God what we did not and do not deserve.

Matthew 6:16-18 “Motivation & Reward”

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” (16) The spiritual discipline of fasting, or going without food, was and is an important part of believers lives. However, not only is the practice, but our motives in the practice are critical. If we are moved to be noticed by men, this will be our only reward. But when our motive is free of this concern and we do this in secret being noticed by God only, we will be rewarded by Him. There is no greater reward than being noticed by God and Him responding to our cries. May God give us wisdom to be concerned for His approval!

Day 28

Genesis 17:23-27 “Obeying God Promptly”

When God spoke to Abraham to circumcise all the males of his household, he obeyed Him completely and quickly. Abraham “…circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him.” (23b). It had been 24 years since his entrance into Canaan and there was no natural evidence of God’s promises to encourage him. However, Abraham did not take 24 hours to obey God completely. Circumcision of the heart is also a very painful, but is essential for a healthy future. Let us be quick to obey the Lord upon hearing His voice knowing the certainty of God’s promise and the greatness of His love.

Matthew 6:9-15 “The Order of Prayer”

This prayer was an outline to guide us into an effective prayer life. Note it begins with our relationship with God as Father and His limitless nature [in heaven]. The first petition is concerned with the honor God’s name or Who He is. Then, and only then, we are in a position to bring our petitions and needs to God [practical and spiritual]. The first reflection on this prayer is, ”For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (14-15). Prayer is powerless without God being central and forgiveness being a primary characteristic of our lives.

Day 27

Genesis 17:15-22 “Let it Go & Laugh”

Here God instructs Abraham to no longer refer to his wife as Sarai, but as Sarah [princess]. Her old name was attached to barrenness but her new name would reflect her blessedness and fruitfulness. Abraham was so overwhelmed by this miraculous promise that he fell down laughing. But another issue arose here: “And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before You!’” (18). Like Abraham, we often get attached to what has been produced in the flesh, but God calls us to let it go and trust in His promise by His Spirit. We must let go of what is produced by flesh in order to move forward into our miracle. The son of promise was named Isaac [he laughs]. Let us long for the fruitfulness God promises by the miraculous power of the Spirit in His timing.

Matthew 6:5-8 “Are We Prayer Hypocrites?”

Jesus warns His disciples not to follow the patterns found in many religious leaders: “…for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners SO THAT they may be seen by men…” (5b). Some people pray to be seen by men rather than to God alone. We are not to be motivated by a desire to be recognized by men, but a desire to be rewarded by God. Second, we are not heard by because of the quantity of words. God is not ignorant of our needs or in need of more information. In fact, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (8b). Prayer is simply the means of asking putting us humbly before God as a loving Father Who abundantly supplies for all we lack. Prayer is a form of praise confessing our need and God’s abundance as our source. Let’s not be hypocrites!

Day 26

Genesis 17:9-14 “Circumcision Proceeds Promise”

God called Abraham to His covenant of circumcision. This was the cutting away of the flesh of the foreskin of every male living among them. The removal of the flesh on the reproductive organ of males is a symbol of God’s call to fully rely upon Him and not on the efforts of the flesh, especially in regards to His promises. It addresses Abraham’s failure in the last chapter resulting in the birth of Ishmael who was antagonistic to the promised son Isaac. We must always remember, it is “…’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6b). Today God circumcises our hearts for the same reason.

Matthew 6:1-4 “Aim to Please God”

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (1) This warning Jesus first illustrates in the area of giving to the poor. We are NOT to be motivated by the desire to be seen by others or that recognition is the extent of our reward. While many are content with this, we, guard our hearts giving in secret before God, because His rewards are far better. Good deeds done before men may produce praise from men, but God’s approval and rewards are far better. Let us raise our sights above the applause of men and aim to please our Father in heaven.

Day 25

Genesis 17:1-8 “Be Blameless, Really?”

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.” (1) Years after Abram’s failed attempt to bring God’s promise by the flesh, God appears bringing correction and encouragement. First, He declares to Abram who He is: “…’I am God Almighty;…” (1b). Many teach we are to believe in ourselves and that our destiny is rooted in who we are. Yet here, we see God’s promises do not depend on our identity or efforts, but on who God is in limitless power. From knowing who God is and walking in His presence, we obtain the ability to be blameless. May God give us the grace to look past our abilities and failures to see who He is in greatness and holiness. From knowing this, we are able to rise above ourselves, be blameless and be blessed with fulfillment of His promises.

Matthew 5:38-48 “Don’t Be Distracted by Injustice”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you,…” (38-39a) Jesus points to the justice demanded by the law, but calls us to not get entangled in this issue, but persist in loving others. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;…” (44-45a) It is easy for us to get distracted and bogged down in the issues of justice, but an effective testimony of our heavenly Father is seen in our persistence in love regardless of what we suffer. Let us not get bogged down in the issues of politics, but persist in loving people promoting our heavenly Father’s kingdom!

Day 24

Genesis 16 “Flesh Versus Spirit”

Ten years has passed since Abram arrived in Canaan. He stands on God’s promise while the natural realm contradicts it. Sarai offers her Egyptian maid Hagar as a means to acquiring a son. “…’And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.’” (2b) When Abram went to Egypt due to famine, he picked up someone who would be a long term problem to the promised son and the entire world. Instead of standing on God’s promise, Abram sought to bring about the promise by the efforts of the flesh. This man, “He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.” (12). What is produced in the flesh is an enemy of what is produced by the Spirit. and lives “outside” God’s promises. We must be careful not to turn to this ungodly world less we pick up something that becomes a long term problem to the promised fruit of the Spirit.

Matthew 5:33-37 “A Simple Yes or No”

Another example of Jesus’ desire to see a greater righteousness than what is produced by legalism, is the need to guard our words. The failure to keep one’s word is a stumbling block to an effective testimony of many. Swearing to keep our word does not increase our power to do so. We do not own heaven, earth or the city of God. We, therefore, should not make outrageous commitments but keep them simple and straight forward. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (37). May God give us wisdom to exercise cautious wisdom in giving our word to anyone, lest we undermine our testimony of Christ.

Day 23

Genesis 15 “Revived in Worship”

“…Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” (1b) God confronts fear in Abram hidden by his risking his life to save Lots and refusing a material offer from the king of Sodom. He was brave in warfare, but discouraged by the delay in God’s promises. God adjusted his perspective in a vision. When Abram confessed his uncertainty, God requested a worship offering. Note Abram had to contend with the birds of prey to protect the offering. Our enemy often goes after our offering, for in our obedient worship hope is restored. When Abram fell into a deep dark sleep, he became unconscious to this world’s realities and contradictions, and awakened to God’s reality, promise and explanation for the delay. Let us worship God according to His word and lift our eyes from this world’s realities and enter God’s reality receiving hope, encouragement and understanding.

Matthew 5:21-32 “Greater Righteousness”

The first example of righteousness exceeding the Pharisees is the issue of murder. While the law defines the outward expression of murder, God’s grace takes us to the heart and motive of murder which is anger. When we address this internal issue, the external issues of anger, like our words, are addressed. Consequently, we must give our attention to the heart by the grace of our Lord Jesus keeping it free from the prison of unforgiveness and bitterness. The same is true in the issue of adultery and divorce. God is not concerned only with the physical act of adultery and divorce, but with the heart that can enslave us there. We must guard our eyes to protect our hearts. We can rise above legalism by the grace of God available in Jesus!

Day 22

Genesis 14 “Serving God Most High”

Lot chose what looked like the best land for himself. Yet, he did not see the danger in his selfish choice. He did not see the coming war, growing wickedness or losses coming by simply moving there. When Abram heard Lot was taken captive, he did not say “he gets what he deserved,” but assembled friends and risked his life to save his nephew who chose selfishly and unwisely. After returning from victory, Abram received a blessing from a priest increasing his understanding of God. He gave a tithe to Melchizedek, but refused the offer of the king of Sodom not wanting to hinder his testimony. Are we, like Abram, willing to lay our lives down to see undeserving people saved from their own bad choices? Are we willing to bless God’s servants, reject the offers of the wicked and trust fully in God Most High?

Matthew 5:17-20 “Purpose of Jesus’ Coming”

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (17) Jesus did not come because of the weakness of the law, but because of the weakness of sinful man to keep the law. He came to empower us, not only to fulfill the law, but the very righteousness of it. Those who think grace is given simply so we can continue in sin have missed this critical purpose of Christ’s coming. We must encourage each other knowing that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, can raise us from a life of sin to live in the righteousness God intends for all humanity (Romans 8:11).

Day 21

Genesis 13 “Father Knows Best!”

Abram returned to the altar and began to call on God again. Here another challenge to his faith journey arose. Conflict between his and Lot’s herdsman arose due to limited land and the Canaanite and Perizzites living there. “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me,…’” (8a) Instead of reacting in fear and asserting his call, Abram yielded first choice to Lot. At the altar, Abram gained strength to trust God to defend His promises. Lot chose for himself what seemed like the best, but failed to see the dangers there. Then God exhorted Abram, “…’Now lifts up your eyes…’” (14b). Then God affirmed all he could see would belong to him and his descendants. He also promised Abram that his seed would be as the dust of the earth. We can trust that God, our Father, knows what is best for us!

Matthew 5:13-16 “Being Salt & Light”

At the conclusion of the beatitudes, Jesus’ disciples were likely challenged by what seemed to be outrageous. Yet, we are not like this world, but stand in stark contrast to it. Christianity is to be salt, making the world we live in tolerable and light exposing darkness and lies so man can turn to God for hope and life. Consequently, we have something to offer, but if we blend with our world and its ways, we have no value to it! “Let you light shine before men in such a way that they will see your good works, and Glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (16)

Day 20

Genesis 12:10-20 “Facing Our Fears”

Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.” (10) Up to this point, Abram moved because his faith in God’s word. This move to Egypt, however, was not prompted by God’s word but by fear of circumstances. Consequently, this led to another fear and bad decision involving his wife in a lie to protect himself. But God intervened striking Pharaoh for taking Sarai and had his men drive Abram back to Canaan. Decisions of fear domino into other bad decisions. Thanks be to God in His great mercy He brings us back to where we went Wrong and gives us opportunity to start over. May God have mercy on our fears and bring us back to the place of His call and calling on His great Name.

Matthew 5:11-12 “Seeing Beyond Suffering”

It is an amazing thing that we can consider persecution and insults a blessing. Not because we are special, but because we represent our Lord. Attacks rooted in our personal weaknesses do not honor God, but those rooted in a desire to live out our faith in Christ, will reap great reward. Culture today demands we defend ourselves and attack those who attack us. But when we are attacked because of our faith and representation of Christ, it is testimony we are on track. Why? Because, historically speaking, this is how people treated the great prophets of old. When we are similarly attacked, we can rejoice in that we are in great company. May God give us the grace to see beyond our present suffering to our eternal reward.

Day 19

Genesis 12:4-9 “Pillars of Faith”

“So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him;…” (4a) Abram’s faith is evidenced in his obedience. When he arrived in Canaan, the natural evidenced was stacked against God’s promises; Abram had no son and others occupied the place of promise. His faith walk began with challenges, but “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’…” (7a). In spite of these contradictions, Abram stood on these pillars of faith: God’s presence, God’s promise and God’s guidance in prayer rooted in God’s call. It is good to reflect on God’s call, promises and visitations to strengthen our faith when faced with contradictions or challenges to what God has said to us!

Matthew 5:10 “Rewarded for Right”

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (10) Many who suffer from bad choices or reputations, say they are being persecuted. However, they are, in fact, suffering consequences of their own bad behaviors. We must not confuse persecution with prosecution. When we suffer from doing right, there is great reward. We enjoy the rule of God in our lives and are not manipulated by the external opposition of those who prefer and love darkness. The reward of God’s heavenly rule in our lives far out-weighs anything we lose as consequence of doing right. May God give us courage and strength to walk in righteousness standing strong against the tides of evil in this world.

Day 18

Genesis 12:1-3 “Take This Whole World!”

The call of God to Abram is radical demanding separation from everything Abram held valuable in the natural realm: his homeland, his family and closest relationships. And yet, he was to step out to a land God had not yet shown to him. This is why we call it a faith journey. On the other side, we see the wonderful promises of God. He will make Abram a great nation, great name, bless him and make him a blessing to all nations. While forgiveness and mercy are free based on the work of Christ, our walk with God is not without cost. To follow Him we must be willing to separate from all influences other than God Himself. However, when we see the rewards of so doing, it is more than worth all we give up. “Take this whole world, but give me Jesus!”

Matthew 5:9 “Do We Value Peace?”

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (9) Peacemakers are not highly valued in our culture. We applaud people who speak their mind regardless of the damage done to others. Yet, it is characteristic of God’s children to be lovers and promoters of peace. While violence characterizes a society in decline (Note Genesis 4 & 6), the pursuit of peace is characteristic of all who follow Jesus. Those who barge into conflict without concern for consequence are not reflecting the nature of Christ, but their own sinful and selfish bent. While Jesus did not shy from truth, He did not unnecessarily enter conflict. May we cherish and pursue God’s peace.

Day 17

Genesis 11:10-32 “The Journey of Faith!”

Here we learn of the lineage of Shem leading to the brith of Terah and his sons Abram, Nahor and Haran. Haran died before his father Terah, so when they left for Canaan, Terah took Haran’s son Lot. However, they settled in Haran [likely named after Terah’s son who died] and lived their until Terah died. Based on the call and promises of God they began their journey, yet Abram’s wife was barren, they became stalled in Haran, and then Abram’s father died. In this dark place Abram resumed his journey and kept moving forward in God’s call and promises. We must not allow contrary circumstances to interfere with our walk of faith. What we see is not what will be!

Matthew 5:8 “Seeing Clearly, A Heart Condition”

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (8) Our faith journey is linked to our heart’s perspective. A divided impure heart creates a cloudy perspective leading to hesitation from doubt and discouragement. When our hearts are pure and free of the clutter and noise of this world, we SEE God in every step even in the midst of contradictions! So, in fact, it is not the distractions of life or its various obstacles preventing us from walking in the fulness of God’s desire for us, but it is our perspective which is linked to our heat’s condition. Our heart greatly determines what we see especially in the midst of adversity to God’s call and promises. O Lord, keep our hearts pure and fixed on You our loving Savior.

Day 16

Genesis 11:1-9 “Come, Let Us…”

The progress of human culture and accomplishment emerged from unity of language and purpose. Note these phrases: “…’Come, let us make bricks…’”; “…’Come, let us build for ourselves a city,…’”; “…’let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’” (3-4). This progressive culture sought provision, identity and security entirely separate and independent from God. When God saw their accomplishments He could also see their end and devised a plan to unite heaven to divide earth and slow their departure from Him. “Come, let Us go down and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” (7) Come, let us maintain a healthy view of our dependence on God for provision, identity and security.

Matthew 5:7 “Don’t Dam Up Mercy”

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (7) When we show mercy to others, we reflect God’s nature toward us. When we do not show mercy, we demonstrate ingratitude for God’s mercy toward us. There is no greater poison to happiness than unforgiveness and bitterness. Beyond this, unwillingness to show mercy builds a dam to the flow of God’s mercy in our own lives. Let us be quick to forgive extending mercy in a way that keeps the free flow of God’s mercy in our own lives. God loves to apply mercy to all areas of our lives. If we are lacking God’s mercy, we might want to check and see if we have damed it up.

Day 15

Genesis 10 “Greatness Does Not Equal Godliness”

In these record of Noah’s descendants we see greatness among the line of Ham. Of Nimrod it says, “He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.’” (9). Then we learn of the advancement of his kingdom into what became a thorn in the side of God’s people and a hub of wickedness. Greatness in humanity does not necessarily equate with godliness in culture and often leads to the opposite. As we see today, technological advancement and human achievement often lead to a further decline in societal morals. As the church of Jesus Christ, and those desiring to see the promotion of God’s kingdom, we must not fall into the trap of thinking these are in any way linked to human greatness or ingenuity.

Matthew 5:6 “What Really Satisfies?”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (6) God puts before His people all that is needed to strengthen them in what is truly good and right. If we have an appetite for righteousness, God promises we will not walk away hungry or thirsty. We generally eat what our appetite leads us to. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are we truly hungry or thirsty for righteousness?” If we are, we will turn to God’s Word, prayer and corporate worship for meals that satisfy. Hollywood, TV, social media and other forms of entertainment will definitely fall behind the spiritual disciplines that fill our hearts with righteousness. Our priorities and daily choices reveal where our appetites really are. God give us a great appetite for Your righteousness so we will live a satisfied lives.

Day 14

Genesis 9:20-29 “Covering or Exposing Shame”

Noah became drunk and removed his clothes in his tent and his son Ham observed this. Ham then exposed his father’s shame to his brothers, but they covered their father’s nakedness refusing to look at him. When Noah awoke from the wine, he prophesied over his sons. He spoke a curse over the descendants of Ham and blessings over his brothers seed. Those who gloat and expose the shame of other’s sin, expose their own heritage to ongoing humiliation. God takes no joy in exposing humanity’s sin, but seeks to redeem and restore. While we are called to rebuke brothers in sin, exposure is a last resort after rebukes have been rejected. May we take no joy in the shame of others but seek to cover them with the grace of God.

Matthew 5:5 “The Greatness of Meekness”

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (5) Today many believe we must contend vigorously for all we can get. From the time we are children, we fight for attention, recognition and acquisition for ourselves. Yet, when we come into the kingdom, we rest in the quiet confidence of God’s sovereign rule over all. It is not those who fight, but those who are meek and gentle of heart who will inherit the earth. This kingdom principle is seen in Abraham’s surrender of choice to his nephew lot in Genesis 13. May God give us the wisdom to embrace meekness in a culture that is aggressive and self-centered.

Day 13

Genesis 9:1-19 “God Is Good!”

Upon departure from the Ark, God blessed Noah and his sons in these ways. First, they were called to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Also, their food supply was expanded to the include the animal kingdom. Because violence was a primary characteristic on earth provoking God to judgment, the death penalty was instituted to restrain men: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” (6). Man is clearly distinguished from all creation as the only created being reflecting God’s image. Finally, God makes a covenant with man not to destroy all flesh with a flood giving the sign of the rainbow. In spite of the sin that contaminates humanity, God blesses them, calling for fruitfulness, provision and protection. God is good in spite of our sin.

Matthew 5:4 “The Blessing of Mourning?”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (4) To mourn is not considered a good thing. Mourning is an overwhelming sadness often a consequence of significant loss or severe disappointment, especially with oneself. How could this be blessing? Quite simply, mourning cannot be appeased by anyone or anything other than God Himself. All people will face mourning at various phases in their lives. When we turn to God in our grief or depression, we can experience His amazing grace. How do I know this? I know this, not only by God’s written word, but I know my own personal experience. Come to God and receive from Him the comfort that cannot be earned or manufactured.

Day 12

Genesis 8 “Wait for Marching Orders”

God remembered Noah when the world was destroyed. After the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat and the water decreased steadily. Then Noah opened the window he made and sent out birds to see if the earth was dried up. He sent out a dove but it returned because the water still covered the earth. When the dove did not return, Noah removed the ark’s covering and saw the earth was dried up. Yet Noah waited almost two more months and did not leave until this: “Then the LORD spoke to Noah, saying, ’Go out of the ark,…’” (15-16a). “So Noah went out,…” (18a) Noah did not rely on signs or even his own perception, but waited for the word of the Lord. He then built an altar to God presenting costly worship. In this context, Noah received a promise from the Lord. Let us be patient to wait on God for our ‘Marching Orders!’

Matthew 5:3 “The Blessing of Poverty”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Being aware of our poverty of spirit, positions us to receive God’s wealth through God’s rule in our lives. Only when we see the utter uselessness of our own efforts, abilities and talents, are we able to move into the great wealth of God’s rule in our lives. We must acknowledge the powerlessness of human effort and ability to tap into God’s grace. It is a wonderful thing to come to the ‘end of our rope,’ because at that moment we are now able to receive from the Lord. God’s help, however, can only come to us through God’s kingdom. That is, when we surrender to God’s rule and directives for every moment of our lives, then we become blessed in our poverty of spirit.

Day 11

Matthew 5:1-2 “Are We Disciples?”

Jesus drew great crowds by the demonstration of God’s kingdom in miracles and healings. “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain; and after he sat down, the disciples came to him.” (1) Jesus showed compassion to crowds, but taught disciples. The crowds were attracted to Christ because of what He did for them, but disciples followed Him to the mountain to be taught by Him. Are we willing to set aside the time and effort to listen to Jesus or are we simply attracted to what He does for us? Are we just one of the crowd, or are we among those who follow Jesus to hear and obey His instruction? The eternal benefits of being Jesus’ disciple, far outweigh the temporal miracles that often draw us to Him.

Genesis 7 “At the End of the Day!”

“Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.’” (1) People often say, ‘At the end of the day,…’ to erase distracting information clouding the truth of reality. At the end of the day, God’s perception of us is what’s really important. As Noah walk with God, he built an ark when their was no rain. All the ridicule and mockery of the years faded in significance to his obedience to every detail. “Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him.” (5) As a result of Noah’s obedience, the same waters that destroyed life on the entire earth, lifted him above the earth. May God give us wisdom to obey Him even when contrary to ‘common sense’ and popular opinion. Like Noah, we can know the place of safety along with all whom we influence.

Day 10

Matthew 4:18-25 “Following for Transformation”

This beginning of discipleship is illuminating. Jesus invited Peter and Andrew to follow Him with a promise: “And he said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I WILL MAKE YOU (italics mine) fishers of man.’” (19). When Jesus invites us to follow Him, it is so He can make us. We are not called to make something of ourselves or called to be promoted, but to submit to Him for transformation. They were to be ‘fishers of man.’ Followers of Christ are concerned for the eternal well being of others. Yes, they would witness His presence, power and purpose, but not for their fascination, it was for their transformation. This does not diminish the need for, or importance of, miracles. They were a critical part of Jesus’ ministry, but we must never forget why we are called to follow Him.

Genesis 6 “Walk With God!”

Society went down hill as the godly line mingled with the ungodly. In fact, violence was a chief characteristic of this drift. Even God gave up on man. “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh;…” (3a) Flesh, speaks of mere humanity under the power of sin. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” (8) Only in God can we find what is necessary to walk victorious over sin. “…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” (9b) We cannot walk free of sin, satan and this evil world’s influence, unless we walk with God. Noah thus obeyed God’s word and was saved from judgment.

Day 9

Matthew 4:12-17 “We Need The Great Light”

At the time of John’s imprisonment, Jesus left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum by the sea. What looked like a mere move for safety was, in fact, to fulfill Biblical prophecy (14-16). Regarding the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali it was said, “‘THE PEOPLE WHO WERE IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM LIGHT DAWNED.’” (16). The key to a better society is not political or economic, but spiritual. What we need in our country is to have the great light dawn on us calling us to repent for God’s rule [kingdom] is at hand. Until we walk in the Light of Christ and turn to God and let Him rule over us, there will be no significant change in our society. Lord, open our eyes so we might see?

Genesis 5 “Walk With God!”

“When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.” (3) Adam’s line, through Seth, is contrasted to Cain’s. Seth’s line followed in the image of Adam who was in the image of God. These men began to call on God during the time of Enosh, Seth’s son (4:26). Hundreds of years later, Enoch, who ‘Walked with God,’ did not die for God took him (24). Interestingly, Adam was still alive when Enoch [six generations later] was born and he would have been able to speak with Adam of the time before sin. This line concludes with the record of the birth of Noah and his three sons. By this man, the human race would be saved from extinction. Let us be among those who walk with God, have a long term positive influence and do right.

Day 8

Mathew 3:4:1- 11 “It Is Written…”

Before Jesus began public ministry, he first faced private temptations. God spoke audibly of Who Jesus was at His baptism. Yet, when the devil’s challenged His identity, He did not appeal to this experience, but to God’s written word. Jesus refused to use God’s power for personal provision, protection or promotion. In each temptation, He appealed to the written word of God. Like Jesus, we overcome temptation by relying on Scripture. The devil was unsuccessful in derailing Jesus by urging the misuse His power or shortcut His process. May we have the grace and wisdom to seek God’s word and rely upon Him fully when faced with temptation.

Genesis 4:16ff “Outside God’s Presence”

“Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD,…” (16a) In spite of God’s mercy offered to Cain, he chose to leave and settle outside God’s presence. Cain and his descendants had some great advances: Built a great city, farming, music and inventions. Sadly, they also advanced in violence and arrogance while justifying it all. In contrast to this, the line of Seth produced a generation who called on God. Today, we ask why God allows horrible acts of violence such as seen in the recent shooting death of 17 young people. The violence and evil of our society will not be stopped by any law, but can be addressed by the restoration of God’s presence in our society. God’s presence will cause men to call on God again.

Day 7

Mathew 3:13-17 “Submission & Power”

If John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, why would Jesus need to be baptized being free of sin? Jesus needed to demonstrate both His agreement with John’s message and His obedience to the Father’s will. When Jesus came up from water baptism John witnessed, “…and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (16a-127). The success of Jesus’ ministry is related to His submission to God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Let us follow the pattern given us by the sinless Son of God.

Genesis 4:1-15 “A Legacy of Violence”

This first record of worship offerings provides many lessons on this subject. Occupation was not the issue, for both brought the fruit of their labors. However, in contrast to Cain, Abel brought the first and the best reflecting his faith and heart toward God. Cain’s anger over God’s rejection of his offering reveals his lack of faith and disrespect for God. Rather than repenting at God’s word, he silenced the contrast seen in Abel and killed him. When confronted by God, Cain lied and sought to justify himself. When given consequences by God for his actions, he complained his punishment was too much putting him in danger. Yet, God promised him protection. The mercy of God with Cain is overwhelming, but Cain’s blame shifting and ingratitude made it impossible to enjoy. Let us be quick to confess and be grateful for God’s mercy, lest we leave a legacy leading others to violence.

Day 6

Matthew 3:11-12 “Mercy & Power in Jesus”

“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (11) John saw Jesus so far superior to him, that the lowest servant position was too high for him. He was not only unqualified to wash Jesus’ feet, but he was not qualified to remove His sandals for this. Why? Not only did Jesus come to bring mercy, but He came to ‘…baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ We rejoice in forgiveness of sin, but we also rejoice in receiving the power of His Spirit to live as God designed us. Like John, let us look up to Christ in His greatness so we may receive from Him both mercy and power to live as we were created to live.

Genesis 3:8-24 “God Seeks All Who Hide”

The presence of sin in Adam and Eve’s lives caused them to hide from God’s presence in the trees of the garden [God’s gift to them]. Yet, God sought them out, not to condemn them, but to restore them from the eternal consequences of their sin. Each sought to shift blame for their sin. Sin always causes us to hide from God’s presence avoiding taking responsibility it. However, our only hope is in turning to, and calling upon our Creator and Redeemer. They sought to cover their shame, but only God could make adequate covering for them. Let’s turn to God having faith in His Son to receive mercy so we will not remain in our shame and sinful condition. “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forks them will find compassion.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Day 5

Matthew 3:1-10 “When God Rules in Us”

John’s message was to the point: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (2). This call to repent clearly shows humanity is off track and needs to turn back to God. We cannot realize God’s gracious rule [kingdom] and its benefits in our lives unless we forsake our own ways, thoughts and self governing. Outward symbols of faith, like water baptism, are insufficient to open our hearts to God’s rule. Regardless of our religious activity, without evidence [fruit] of God’s rule in our character, priorities and choices, our religion is worthless and will suffer the wrath of God. The lost world we live in is in need of a demonstration of God’s kingdom and not a mere invitation to our religious events.

Genesis 3:1-7 “Recognize Satan’s Strategy”

Satan is a master deceiver and uses similar tactics today as seen here. First, by a created being he attacked God’s nature, distorted His word, exaggerated the demands of His word and minimized the consequences of man’s disobedience. Through this strategy, he caused the woman to be deceived and see falsely: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to make one wise, shoe took…” (6a). When we question God’s goodness and sin is attractive and beneficial to us, we have succumbed to satan’s deceptive tactics.

Day 4

Genesis 2:4-25 “While We Were Sleeping”

This chapter gives a detailed account of man’s creation. We see man as the center of creation and God providing for him. After naming the animals, Adam is faced with his own lack of companionship. “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. (21-22). Twice it says Adam was sleeping. Distinctions between the man and woman were God’s creative design intending to benefit each other. The woman did not exist when man was created and the man was asleep when God fashioned the woman. We can enjoy the benefits of the distinctions without fully understanding them. Remember men, God created woman ‘while we were sleeping.’

Matthew 2:13-23 “Receiving Divine Direction”

Joseph is commanded by an angel in a dream to take Jesus to Egypt because Herod is searching to destroy him. His obedience is immediate leaving before sunrise. Sadly, Herod had all the children in Bethlehem two years of age and under slaughtered. Joseph had another dream in Egypt and God directed him to return after Herod’s death. Yet, because Herod’s son reigned in his father’s place, Joseph went to Nazareth. All this occurred fulfilling the prophecies of Scripture regarding the Messiah. Interestingly, God did not choose educated or wealthy parents to raise His Son, but choose those who would be faithful to listen and heed His voice an His word. As we face troubling times, it is so important we are led by God.

Day 3

Genesis 2:1-3 “Sabbath, A Day of Rest”

“…God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (2-3) In the account of creation, God gives us an example and a pattern to follow. Six days we work and on the seventh we rest. This principle is established before sin and the law. We live in a culture that disrespects both God and His word. God ‘sanctified’ [made holy] the seventh day, that is, He set it apart as a special benefit for man whose creation is detailed later. When we ignore the Sabbath principle, we do so to our own peril. Honoring the Sabbath, and the Lord of the Sabbath, is an act of faith bringing great blessings with it. In a work driven culture, let us cling to God and His word setting aside a day to rest and reflect on our creator.

Matthew 2:1-12 “Motivated by Worship or Worry?”

When Jesus was born, wise men from the east sought Him out to ‘worship’ Him. When Herod the king heard this, he also began to seek for Jesus but was motivated by worry [fear rooted in insecurity]. Herod feared the loss of his position and was moved by political ambition while pretending to worship Him. The magi found Jesus, worshiped Him, and gave gifts facilitating a journey for safety and insuring His future. But Herod, being threatened by the prophetic word, sought for Jesus to kill Him and insure His own political future. Because of this ‘worry’, he killed many innocent children and brought great sorrow to the land. However, the worship of the wise men led to Jesus safety, aided the fulfillment of prophecy, and kept Him alive for the benefit of all humanity. What is our motive in pursuing Christ? Are we insecure about our positions of power, or are we moved by love to worship Him?

Day 2

Genesis 1:6-31 “God’s Design, Perfect & Good”

In connection with creation, six times it says, “…and God saw that it was good.” Each day we see more details of God’s creative activity. In this we see man distinguished from all proceeding him. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule…” (26a). The creation of man is unique in nature and assignment. Because of sin, the image of God in humanity is shattered, he ceases to worship the Creator, and is now subject to death. We will not know happiness until we return to God through faith in Jesus and then we are on track with a process leading to God’s perception: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good….” (31a). God’s ways and thought are both perfect and good.

Matthew 1:18-25 “Perspective & Obedience”

Joseph, Mary’s fiancé’, found out she was pregnant and wanted to put her away secretly so as not to shame her. Joseph’s perception was in error because he was seeing solely from the natural realm. A supernatural revelation was needed to reveal the reality of her conception, the prophetic origins of the moment, and the future good this child would bring to all humanity. Then, “…Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,…” (24). Often what appears to us like a tragedy and potentially shameful event, God is at work in the supernatural realm to establish His prophetic intent leading to the benefit of many. Joseph was able to move on in obedience to God because he had received a revelation of what God was doing. May God open our eyes to see His activity in life’s events, so we can move forward in confident obedience to His directives.

Day 1

Genesis 1:1-5 “In the Beginning God…”

Most of us today start with ourselves and seek to live productive healthy and happy lives. However, if we are to effectively accomplish these, we must start with our Creator and not with ourselves [creation]. Being designed by God, we will not realize our intended purposes without an understanding of Who God is, what He has done for us, and what He has said to us. Only in this context are we able to move into our divine destiny. Our designer and maker knows far better than we how we are to function. Let us return to Him in total surrender as the designer and creator so we can live productive, fruitful and fulfilling lives.

Matthew 1:1-17 “Hold Fast!”

“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah,…” (1a) As the Old Testament begins with God, the New Testament begins with Jesus. His lineage is traced from Abraham all the way to Joseph. There is nothing arbitrary about His birth or its timing. There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, from David to the Babylonian exile and from the exile to the Messiah. God is in control and the birth of His Son Jesus was not arbitrary or an afterthought. This aspect of God’s nature gives us an assurance when life seems arbitrary and chaotic. Let us hold fast in faith to our God Who is sovereign over all His creation, time and life’s events.