January/February – Week Five – Daily Devos

January 29th – “What’s In It For Me?” [Bible reading: Exodus 8:1-9:35; Mat. 19:13-30; Ps 24:1-10; Prov 6:1-5]

“Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?’” – Matthew 19:27

I think when Peter and the other disciples were with Jesus, and saw all that He was doing, and figured out Who He really was, they began to assume that they’d be those who would be exalted and promoted because of their association with Him. “What shall we have?” shows Peter’s selfish heart. He was thinking with the wrong ambitions in mind.

In Acts 3:6 this same Peter says, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” Something was now different in Peter. It wasn’t about ‘getting‘, but ‘giving‘. The longer a person is with the Lord, and the more they know Jesus’ heart and mission, the more they’ll become God-centered and less self-centered.

“Father, may I be a man that desires to give away all that You’ve given and shown me. Forgive me for always wanting to ‘get’. I want to be a servant and be poured out for others and for Your glory. Less of me… more of You.” – Michael

 

January 30th – “The EYES Have It” [Bible reading: Ex 10:1-12:12; Mat 20:1-28; Ps 25:1-15; Prov 6:6-11]

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because i am good? So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” – Matt. 20:15-16

After telling the story of the workers in teh vineyard and how those who worked all day were selfishly wanting more – Jesus (the landowner) says this, and asks, “…is your eye evil?” This was a Jewish way of asking, “Are you a miser? Are you stingy with your money and so greedy that you are not about others, but only about yourself?”

In Jewish writings “a good eye” represented a generous attitude (Proverbs 22:9 – “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.“) and an “evil eye” represents a man who only cares about riches (Proverbs 28:22 – “A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him.”). Matthew 6:22-23 describes how a man’s “eyes” represents the light or darkness within his whole life! If I am stingy or greedy with my material possessions, it can be a sign of a deeper spiritual problem that I am having.

“Father,I want to be a man who is generous. Forgive me of my greed and selfishness… it’s like I think I deserve anything at all, when truthfully all I have and enjoy is a gracious gift from You. May I be known as a giver and not a taker or a complainer. Thank You for setting the best example for me, by giving me Your all. May I give my all to You today. I love You. – Michael

 

January 31st – “My Sacrifice, My Relationship” [Bible reading: Ex 12:14-13:16; Ps 25:16-22; Prov 6:12-15 ]

“In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.” – Exodus 12:46

Speaking of the specific ways they were to treat the Passover lamb, Moses declares that the lamb sacrificed would be solely for the residents of the home… not for anyone else outside the family’s immediate household. Beautifully, we’re also told the lamb’s bones were NOT to be broken. This is an interesting little detail that is thrown in that I believe is beautiful because John 19:31-33 states that Jesus’ bones were not broken, as was the custom of the day in which He was crucified. (You see, the legs of crucifixion victims were broken to hasten death. This prevented them from pushing themselves up to open the chest cavity and thus breathe better. Since the victims would now have to pull themselves up by the arms instead, suffocation occurred once their arm strength failed. Jesus escaped having His legs broken since He died so quickly.) This Old Testament passage, then, is a beautiful picture of Jesus as the Lamb of God.

Jesus’ shed blood did indeed cover a multitude of my sin, for He is the Passover Lamb. However, His sacrifice is only for those whom believe and obey, and turn from a life of sin. It is only for our “house“, we can’t be saved by anyone else’s belief or relationship with God. It must be our ‘personal’ relationship with the Lord… not our parents’ relationship with Jesus, our spouse’s, our friend’s, or any other person. We personally must believe, turn from our sin, and accept the sacrifice He paid on our behalf.

“Father, thank You for covering my many sins. I believe in You and I recognize that I can’t ride on the coat-tails of someone else’s relationship with You… it must be my own. The flesh sacrifice is mine alone to accept. I love You. – Michael

 

February 1st – “The Naughty List” [Bible reading: Ex 13:17-15:18; Mat 21:23-46; Ps 26:1-12; Prov 6:16-19]

“These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.” – Proverbs 6:16-19

God doesn’t beat around any bushes here, He absolutely HATES this stuff! Pride, Lying, Murder of innocent, Those who plot evil, Those who are quick to run towards evil with no hesitation, False witnesses (this is another way to say ‘lying’, which is the second time He’s mentioned it… so it must be a real frustration to God), Those who stir up discord and division in the body of Christ.

Occasionally Scripture can be a bit hard to understand. It takes deep study to really get at what God is saying. However, at other times, God is painfully clear. There is no ‘grey-area’ in this list. Am I a man who is full of pride, etc… If so, I must evaluate and turn from my sin!

“Father, please point out any areas on this list that I may fail in. I absolutely do NOT want to displease You, but rather hear You say, ‘Well done’. I love You!”  – Michael

 

February 2nd – “How To Make Bitter… Better” [Bible reading: Ex 15:19-17:7; Mat 22:1-33; Ps 27:1-6; Prov 6:20-26]

“Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name ofit was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” – Exodus 15:23-25a

God had done so many wonderful things for these people – delivered them from slavery, helped them escape the Egyptians (bad guys) by splitting the Red Sea and taking care of them. Now, however, they are thirsty. They begin to complain… and whine. It’s almost as if they have forgotten all that God has done for them. We do that, right? No matter how good God has been, when we face a hardship… a trial…we tend to forget… to complain… act as if God has forgotten us… like He doesn’t care about us or for us. So they come to this lake. It’s looks awesome at first, but then when they try and drink it… it’s too bitter! They called it “Marah”, because “marah” means “bitter” in their Hebrew language. They’re stuck. They’re thirsty. They’re at the end of their rope… or so they think. Their leader, a guy named Moses, cries out to God and the Bible says, “and the Lord showed him a tree…When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” Moses saw how desperate these people were, he knew they needed to drink, yet would be unable to due to the bitterness of the only water around. So, he prays to the Lord, and the Lord “showed him a tree”. Moses cuts it down and tosses it into the bitter water and in a split second… the water loses all bitterness and becomes sweet!

Approximately 1,476 years later there would be another Tree. We know it as the Cross of Jesus Christ. Galatians 3 and 1 Peter 2:24 talk of the Cross and refer to it as “the tree”. It is the Cross of Calvary… the Cross that Jesus died upon… which still transforms biter experiences, bitter people, and bitter circumstances. How? By realizing that the wrongs done to us, the offenses against us, the disappointments registered by us have all been paid for, dealt with, washed clean by the blood of Calvary.

“Father, when I’m upset and feeling bitter, help me to always remember to ‘toss in the Tree’. Remind me of what You’ve done for me on the Cross. That has a way of putting everything back into perspective. Thank You for Jesus, and thank You for the Tree. I love You!”  – Michael

 

February 3rd – “Hang On ” [Bible reading: Ex 17:8-19:15; Mat 22:34-23:12; Ps 27:7-14; Prov 6:27-35]

“On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” –  Matthew 22:40

Jesus is being approached by the Pharisees, who were “testing” Him. Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:18 state these two very important commands, but the Pharisees wanted to know if Jesus knew these Scripures or not. He did. Then He threw in this interesting statement, “On these two commands “hang” much of the Old Testament (Law – Genesis-Deuteronomy, Prophets – Isaiah-Malachi). Of course, He meant that we could pretty much sum-up all the Scripture with these two commands… but what if there is another message He was trying to communicate?

We know that Jesus “hung” on the Cross when He gave up His life as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6). But I think it’s interesting to think of this statement to the Pharisees in that light. On these two commandments “hang” all the stuff God was speaking in the Old Testament. Jesus’ death on the Cross showed His deep love for His Father in the fact that He obeyed Him, even unto death. He obviously loved His Father with all His heart, soul, and mind. But we also know that He “demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)… so He loved us, His neighbors, as well. So it is on the Cross that I see demonstrated for you and me the greatest of commandments – Love God, Love Others. Whenever I am struggling with ‘sin’… or even the ‘temptation to sin’ by selfishly putting myself first… I must remember that Jesus on the Cross has set the example for me of what I must do. I must pick up my Cross and die… hang there, for it is in doing this that I am authentically loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind and putting others before myself.

“Father, thank You for sending Jesus and loving me as much as You do. When I start to doubt it, all I have to do is gaze at the Cross once again. It’s there I see a love that I can’t begin to comprehend, but shall always be grateful for. I love you… back!”  – Michael

 

February 4th – “What’s At The CORE?” [Bible reading: Ex 19:16-21:21; Mat 23:13-39; Ps 28:1-9; Prov 7:1-5]

“Keep My commands and live, And My Law as the apple of your eye.” – Proverbs 7:2

The origin of the Hebrew word for ‘apple’ is ‘little man’ – it comes from the idea that when you look someone in the eye you can see a reflection of yourself in their eyeball. God’s saying that His Word, His reflection, should be seen inside each of us by others.

When I talk with others, I want them to see Jesus reflected inside of me. To look into my eyes and see Jesus would be the coolest thing ever! However… how does that happen? It happens when I “keep God’s Words and treasure His commands within me” (Proverbs 7:1). His Word must be at my ‘core’ (see what I did there? ‘core’… ‘apple core’? LOL… c’mon, that ain’t so bad)

“Father,  I love You AND Your Word! Today, as I’ve read so much of it, I pray it would really sink deep into my heart and life and change me. I pray it would make me more like Jesus. I desperately want others to see You in me today… not so that I get the credit, but that You’d receive all the glory that You are due. I love You!”  – Michael

 

If anybody is reading these devotions, would you mind leaving a quick comment here on my website. It would greatly encourage me to keep this up. Blessings! – Michael

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Letter To Diana

My oldest son, Conor, left for Mexico this morning. He’ll be there for a little over three weeks. It’ll be our first Christmas in 23 years without him. We’re a bit sad, but also rejoicing. Why? Because he’ll be asking a wonderful young lady for her hand in marriage. I was able to spend some time on the phone with this young woman’s father and one thing we both agreed upon was that we were blessed. Both he and I have been praying for godly spouses for our children since before they were born. My son asked me to write a letter to his soon-to-be-fiance’, welcoming her to our family. He wanted to present it to her after he pops the question. I thought I’d include that letter here. I pray it blesses you.

Conor&Diana1

Dear Diana,

We don’t know you well yet, but already, we love you. We love you so much, because you love our son. And he returns that love.

Even when Conor Christian was very young, we began praying for you. We always knew there would come a day that this sticky, messy, silly little boy would be yours. He will always be ours, but you will take our place in many ways.

Someday your hand will replace ours. Your eyes will be his peace and your heart will be his home.

It’ll be you he kisses goodnight.

It’ll be you he shares his dreams with.

It’ll be you who comforts him when he is scared.

It’ll be you who holds his heart. The same heart that beat against our chests as we held him each night, trying to get him to go to sleep.

Now, Diana, that will be you.

We want you to know we now pray for you every day, just as we pray for all our children.

Right now, you’re everything to your own parents, just as our children are everything to us. We pray you are cherished. Delighted in. Upheld and believed in. We pray you’ve been taught to love Jesus first, because without that strong love, you will not be as equipped to love our son successfully. We pray you’ve been shown every day what a gift you are. We pray that if that message is somehow missed by those around you, you always know that when God looks at you, He sees His princess.

We have raised our son to view you that same way. He does.

We pray you understand your worth and that you respect yourself. That you have been shown to respect others just the same. We pray that you are not afraid to share your voice, but that you use it to speak life; not only to yourself and others you encounter, but to our son. Men need you to speak life into them.

We want you to know that although we probably made a lot of mistakes, we have been committed to raising our son to love Jesus passionately, and to honor you whole-heartedly. We cannot take full credit, nor blame, for his beauty or his flaws. These are things, we believe, the Lord has had a hand in too.

Conor is his own man. He has his own quirks and idiosyncrasies. You’ll figure those out as you go; and someday, you too will know him better than anyone else in the world. Give him the space to be himself, and know that we’ve taught him to do the same for you.

He won’t complete you. And you won’t complete him. Only God can do that. But we pray you edify each other and encourage each other to be even better together than you are on your own.

We promise to let you in. To share our secrets and knowledge of him so that you can love him best. We will trust you with his heart, just as you will trust him with yours. We do not take this heart exchange lightly, and we pray you don’t either. We have raised him to understand the value of a woman’s heart. That it is priceless, and once broken, can never go back to the way it was before.

That’s not always a bad thing, but if we can avoid it, we don’t want our son to be the one who breaks your heart. We also want you to remember that he can’t be the one to heal it. Again, only God can do that. But we have raised our son to forever cherish the gift that is you and your love. We’ve taught him to understand your value. To honor and respect you, as you do him.

We strove to raise all our boys in such a way that they learned how to be strong, yet vulnerable. Brave, yet humble. Courageous and fearless, yet unafraid to ask for help. That they are leaders but know how to follow. We pray Conor leads you well and understands the honor it is to be in that role. We pray he serves you, but that you never take advantage of his sacrifice.

We pray he fully understands his role as a man and that he lives his life with integrity, honor, humility, honesty, faith and humor. That he knows who he is first in Christ, and then within himself. We pray he follows his dreams and passions and that nothing stands in the way of that, to include you. We pray the same for you.

We have been committed to raising our son to be independent and never to look to you to be his mother, because I ( Kelli ) have stood in that role to the very best of my ability. We vowed to be fully present for him. Teaching him what he needed to know about women and how special they are. We promise that we raised him in such a way that he should always remember you are someone’s daughter, and that you only belong to him after you belonged to God and your parents.

We pray that with each day you love our son, your love swells and overflows. We pray the same for him. We hope as the two of you build a life together, that you never forget how that life was built. Stand strong together. You will need each other in this life. Though we have taught him to want you rather than to need you, there will be times that he will need you. And you will need him. Please be there.

Support each other. Love each other. Choose each other.

The noise of the world will be loud. It won’t always be easy. There may be days that you look at him and question every decision you ever made. In those moments, we pray you will fall back on the foundation you built together and remember why you chose to stand there.

We promise you that each day we have tried to teach our son these same lessons. We have planted seeds of love in his heart every moment we could. We’ve shown him how to take care of himself. How to do the laundry and the dishes, and to never expect you to do it all. How to be your partner. We’ve tried to foster his sensitivity while praising his strength. To teach him how to be open and to hold your words when they spill from your lips and into his hands. We’ve tried to teach him how to catch them. To hold you. To love you. All of you. To see you for you, not what you can offer him.

We have done our very best to raise him to be enough within himself so that he can then be enough for you.

We’ve got a lot of years to get to know you better. Please know that each day between now and then, we will pray for you. We will love you. And when we next see you, we will love you even more than we already do. Because you love our son. And you’ve become our daughter.

With all the love we possess,

 

Michael & Kelli Craft

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