January 8th – “Who’s On First?” [Bible reading: Gen. 18:16-19:38; Mat. 6:25-7:14; Ps 8:1-9; Prov 2:6-15]
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33
Jesus is teaching His disciples about material things and how, as His followers, they should not be concerned with the same stuff that the world is concerned with. Money and ‘stuff’ are nothing to waste your life running after, when He is your God. He promises that if their priorities are right, He’ll take care of the rest.
Much time is often wasted worrying.
However, if God is good… and if He is all-powerful… and if He is my #1 priority, and my life… then what could I possibly have to worry about? If I’m worrying, maybe one of those things isn’t true?
“Father, I want You to be my everything. I’m sorry I often put other things before You. I find the result of doing that to be fear and anxiety. Cleanse me and constantly remind me that You are to be my #1. I do so deeply love You.” – Michael
January 9th – “Authority Always Wins” [Bible reading: Gen. 20:1-22:24; Mat. 7:15-29; Ps 9:1-12; Prov 2:16-22]
“For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” – Matthew 7:29
Jesus amazed the crowds with the way He taught with authority. Other first-century rabbis (Jewish teachers of the Scriptures) would appeal to the authority of other rabbinic predecessors. But Jesus would say, “You have heard it said… but I say...”. He based all He ever said… on Himself, not some other previous teacher.
I think it’s super interesting that Jesus’ teaching “with authority” was something that crowds admired. Why do you think that was? Maybe people were sick of hearing about God from those who themselves had only heard about God? I think the same thing is true today. Where are those who have truly experienced God, and can speak with first-hand experience and authority?
“Father, I want to know You so well that when I tell others about You, they can tell I’m talking about Someone I know… not just Someone I know about. Draw me close to You. I love You more than anything.” – Michael
January 10th – “Family Matters” [Bible reading: Gen. 23:1-24:51; Mat. 8:1-17; Ps 9:12-20; Prov 3:1-6]
“Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.” – Matthew 8:14-15
Mention of Peter’s wife’s mom confirms that Peter was definitely married. He also, apparently, owned a home. Interesting that in Matthew 19:27 Peter says that he had left “all and followed (Jesus)“. By “all” he must not have meant his family and house.
I think I’ve always assumed Peter and the other disciples had no families or homes, maybe due to the fact that the Bible tells us that Jesus “had no place to lay His head“. But apparently they did! This means that I can also have a family, and a home… and be a radical disciple. Jesus healing Peter’s family member and visiting Peter’s home, shows He loved them and even approved of His disciples having families, and homes.
“Father, forsaking everything to follow You does not mean my family. Help me to never put ministry before them. May I follow You whole-heartedly and be a great husband and father/grandfather. You have set the example for me by being such an awesome Father to me. I love you so much!” – Michael
January 11th – “Inquire Within” [Bible reading: Gen. 24:52-26:16; Mat. 8:18-34; Ps 10:1-15; Prov 3:7-8]
“But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.” – Genesis 25:22
After not being able to have children for a long time, God miraculously enabled Rebekah to conceive. As awesome and exciting as that was, she began to be in discomfort – not knowing that she was carrying twins who were fighting within her. The pain caused her to seek God herself. Earlier, when she was hurting because she was unable to bear children, we were told that her husband had done the pleading on her behalf.
Many lessons I see here: A husband who cared for his wife’s inability to have kids enough to “plead” with God. A God who hears prayer. But honestly, I am must struck by a wife who, when in physical pain, goes to the Lord herself. Why did Rebekah go to God when she felt the pain within her, but not earlier when she was barren? Maybe her constant disappointment in not getting what she wanted caused her to not go to the Lord? Perhaps once she saw that God was real and cared for her, she felt confident to go to Him with her other concerns?
“Father, I think my trust in You is sometimes dependent upon You doing what I want You to do. If You do ‘this’ – THEN I’ll trust going to You with other struggles within me. Forgive me for this. May I be a man that always goes to You first, knowing that You love me, are sovereign, and trustworthy. I love You.” – Michael
January 12th – “Stay Fresh” [Bible reading: Gen. 26:17-27:46; Mat. 9:1-17; Ps 10:16-18; Prov 3:9-10]
“Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” – Proverbs 3:9-10
“Firstfruits” were the earliest and BEST of the crop. Those who honor God with their BEST will be blessed in such a way that they’ll be able to give (honor) Him even more. Luke 12:48 states, “…to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
At times, I can offer the “bare minimum”. I’m not talking only about money, but other things too; passion, devotion, service, etc. God is awesome… and has been so good to me for so long… should I not consistently offer my very best? Not just to receive more for selfish reasons, but to in-turn honor the Lord even more with that which I have received.
“Father, I want to be a man You fill with new-wine. I don’t want to become ‘old’ and ‘stale’, help me to offer only my best to You… so that I can consistently bring You honor and glory with my life. I love You.” – Michael
January 13th – “Guard the Basics” [Bible reading: Gen. 28:1-29:35; Mat. 9:18-38; Ps 11:1-7; Prov 3:11-12]
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” – Psalm 11:3
The psalmist is describing how the enemy is poised for attack. In verse 1, he states, “Do you expect me to be like a bird‘ – an animal that is defenseless and that can only fly away rather than stand its ground and fight. He is saying, “No way! I have to fight, for the Lord’s sake!” The foundations of God’s kingdom cannot be shaken by the wicked. The righteous serve a righteous God.
The enemy (wicked) will often strike at the very foundations of my faith. The attack is always against the WORD of God… and the GOODNESS of God… and the SOVEREIGNTY of God. These are the foundations of my faith, without them what can I do? (see Genesis 3:1-5 for an example of exactly how Satan does this)
“Father, strengthen me today in my faith. Thank You for Your Word, and for how good You have been to me! I declare today that YOU are Lord and Boss and in control. I will trust in You and rest in the fact that my whole life is built upon You – a Sure Foundation! I love You.” – Michael
January 14th – “Why Not Me, Lord?” [Bible reading: Gen. 30:1-31:16; Mat. 10:1-23; Ps 12:1-8; Prov 3:13-15]
“And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” – Matthew 11:6
John the baptist is having his doubts. The cousin of Jesus, the man who referred to Jesus as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), the guy whom Jesus would say was the greatest guy born of women (Matthew 11:11)… is doubting. So, he sends messengers to Jesus to ask if He really is the promised Messiah. Jesus responds by declaring that He is doing all the things the Messiah was prophesied to do (in Isaiah 29:18-9; 35:5-6; 61:1)… and then Jesus makes this interesting statement, “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me“. What’s up with that last statement?
When I hear how God is moving and touching others… I should rejoice. However, often times my tendency is to be ‘offended’ by saying something like, “God, why them… and not me?” John, I imagine, expected the Messiah to overthrow Rome, as many others thought that He would do. Why wouldn’t Jesus come and rescue him out of prison if Jesus really was the Messiah? He’s healing and touching others, if He has this huge following… why not come and deliver His own cousin!? I can see how this could cause John to be big-time offended, as he sat rotting in prison, while Jesus went around doing great things for everyone else, but him. So, Jesus ends his confirmation that He truly is the Messiah with the words, “Tell John that he’ll be blessed if he doesn’t get offended. It’s not about him right now. It’s about the Kingdom.”
“Father, when You don’t do what ‘I want’ or in the ways that ‘I want’, help me trust You and not be offended (Proverbs 18:19). I love to hear how You are moving and rescuing people… even if its not me. Remind me once again, that it’s not about me… but You and Your Kingdom! I love You.” – Michael