January 15th – “Broken to See” [Bible reading: Gen. 31:17-32:12; Mat. 10:24-11:6; Ps 13:1-6; Prov 3:16-18]
“I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.” – Genesis 32:10
Jacob has messed up royally and has been on the run. After hearing his brother is on his way to deal with him… he is afraid. He begins his heartfelt cry unto the Lord, with this statement of humility and recognition of God’s amazing grace.
Why, when our backs are against the wall, do we wait to humbly cry out to God? Because He uses those situations to break us and bring us to the place where we finally see His goodness… in the light of our lameness.
“Father, thank You for how merciful You’ve been. Forgive my ‘discontentedness’. I’m not exactly where my flesh wants to be, but I’m content that I’m where You’ve chosen me to be for now. I love You.” – Michael
January 16th – “Get Real” [Bible reading: Gen. 32:13-34:31; Mat. 11:7-30; Ps 14:1-7; Prov 3:19-20]
“As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?… A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in king’s houses.’” – Matthew 11:7-8
Jesus was declaring that His cousin John was AUTHENTIC. He wasn’t like the reeds that grew near the Jordan River that blew back and forth with the wind. In other words, he wasn’t someone who lacks conviction and sways back and forth in their faith. He also wasn’t someone who wears fancy clothes, when it was reported that he wore skins and ate bugs. In other words, what you saw with John… and what you heard about John (in this case, his humble attire) was exactly what you got when you saw him in person. He didn’t put out a phony message about himself and then when you got a look ‘behind the curtain’ you’d see something totally different.
How often we are tempted to be wishy-washy in our faith and be passionate for God one moment, then selfish the next, much like that reed that sways with the wind. Or to put on a ‘show’ or a ‘face’ that we’re one way in public, when in reality we are another way when no one is looking. We’re told in Revelation 3:16, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
“Father, I long to be a man, like John, that Jesus would brag about – a man who doesn’t act wishy-washy and fake. Forgive me when I do act this way. I know it makes You sick. Convict me and strengthen me today to be authentically radical for you at all times. I love You… help me live like I love You today.” – Michael
January 17th – “New Name” [Bible reading: Gen. 35:1-36:43; Mat. 12:1-21; Ps 15:1-5; Prov 3:21-26]
“And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” – Genesis 35:18
Ben-Oni means, ‘Son of my sorrow‘, while Benjamin means ‘right-hand son‘, which is also interpreted to mean, ‘most honored son‘. Although Israel (formerly known as Jacob) must have been heart-broken at the loss of his wife’s life, he wasn’t going to let his son grow up with a name like that. He wasn’t going to let him be cursed with that bummer-of-a-name forever.
Although I was born with a sinful nature, as a son of the world… I have been Born Again and have been given a new name. Isaiah 62:2-4 declares, “…You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name.You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.You shall no longer be termed ‘Forsaken’…“. I am adopted, as a son, and precious to my Father. He won’t let me live my life under the curse of my ‘old name’, but has re-named me and called me, ‘son'(Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5).
“Father, thank You for re-naming me and calling me Your son. I love that I can call You, “Abba Father’ (Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6) and that You see me as precious. I love You and want to make You proud today.” – Michael
January 18th – “True Inheritance” [Bible reading: Gen. 37:1-38:30; Mat. 12:22-45; Ps 16:1-11; Prov 3:27-32]
“O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.” – Psalm 16:5
Land was often given as an inheritance. Here, the psalmist declares that not only is the promised land something he desires and looks forward to receiving, but the Lord Himself is the thing that he desires and needs most.
When I think of all I gain from following Jesus (joy, love, peace, eternal life in heaven, etc…), what is to be most desired? Truly, the intimacy I have with God, through Jesus, is all that matters.
“Father, may I never be so caught up in ‘stuff’ that I lose out on relationship with You. No amount of activity in Your service, can make up for neglecting time in Your presence. I love You so much.” – Michael
January 19th – “Sin Against God” [Bible reading: Gen. 39:1-41:16; Mat. 12:46-13:23; Ps 17:1-15; Prov 3:33-35]
“… How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” – Genesis 39:9b
Joseph knew that to give in to a temptation that promised a momentary feeling of pleasure (sleeping with his boss’ wife), would not only be a huge sin against his boss, but, even more so, a sin against his God.
When I trade my integrity, and what I know the Lord requires of me, for a moment of sinful pleasure, I am first and foremost sinning against God. As David prayed in Psalm 51:4, “Against You, and You only have I sinned”, so too I find that the biggest loss I feel when I sin is the loss of intimate relationship with my Lord.
“Father, please forgive my many sins. Each one of them are a result of me choosing to not care about my relationship with You being damaged. The thing is… I DO care about You so very much! I’m so sorry that I do this. I long to walk uprightly, for no other reason other than You desire it. I love You.” – Michael
January 20th – “Incredible Gains” [Bible reading: Gen. 41:17-42:17; Mat. 13:24-46; Ps 18:1-15; Prov 4:1-6]
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy of it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44
The kingdom of heaven is so awesome that it’s worth everything! All we could ever hope to possess is worth losing for the joy of obtaining it! This reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
If I could truly know Jesus and be 100% of His kingdom, would I not give up anything and everything else? Why do we cling to the material world and the acceptance of man like it’s so very important? In the light of eternity NOTHING compares to being in relationship with God through Jesus!
“Father, I renounce this world and all of it’s trappings. I want to know You way more than I do right now. Not know ABOUT You… but know You. Help me to be so close to You that I begin to smell like You to everyone I meet (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 – “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life…“). I love You, Lord.” – Michael
January 21st – “The Complete Teacher” [Bible reading: Gen. 42:18-43:34; Mat. 13:47-14:12; Ps 18:16-36; Prov 4:7-10]
“Then He said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old…” – Matthew 13:52
A ‘scribe’ was one who had studied the Old Testament Scriptures. If one of them could grasp the truths that Jesus was sharing here in the New Testament, the ‘new stuff’ He was dropping on them, well… then they would be able to share some incredible treasure with others, because they would be seeing the WHOLE STORY.
Many times Christians only like the New Testament. Some preachers will only preach from the New Testament… some even only preach the ‘red-letters’ of the New Testament. However, God’s Story didn’t begin in the Book of Matthew… it began in Genesis. As a teacher of God’s Word, I must strive to understand both Old and New Testaments. Whenever I teach/preach, I notice it is always more impactful when I pull from the entire Bible. Every New Testament principle has an Old Testament picture.
“Father, thank You for Your Word! I love all of it. Help me have a greater understanding of it, that I may become closer to You… and teach others how they can be closer to You too. Make me a bridge between You and people. I love You.” – Michael