January

January 17

Genesis 40-41— In this passage, we learn that after Joseph interpreted the cupbearer’s dream he never gave Joseph another thought; he forgot all about him. Two whole years passed. Then Pharaoh has a dream that no one can interpret and the cupbearer suddenly remembers! I know guy!

To the one reading this today who feels “everyone” has forgotten you: Maybe they have. Maybe it just seems that way. Either way, here’s the truth. God has not forgotten you. He sees you there in your prison of pain and injustice and disappointment; waiting to be remembered and rescued. Over and over again we see in the Word that God has a plan, THE best plan, and He is watching and waiting and working in your life according to His plan.

Finally, the cupbearer remembered and Joseph was summoned to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. He quickly points them to God as the interpreter of dreams. Coincidentally (ha-ha), we then read in Matthew 12:33-37 these words of Jesus: (I love how The Message translation speaks here:) “How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary that gives meaning to your words. . . Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

Wow. We see that vividly in the story of Joseph. During all those years in prison, he had a human guarding him no doubt; but, he chose to guard his heart and mind. At last he had an opportunity to speak! The unjustly imprisoned and forgotten Joseph had only praise for his God. The words he spoke and the interpretation he gave became a literal salvation for him, Pharaoh, and the nation of Egypt (as we’ll see later).

Wherever you are today God is at work. He sees, He cares, and He is acting. He was preparing Joseph through all his trials to lead and serve with wisdom and compassion. He is preparing you for what He has prepared for you, too.

Day 13

Genesis 31-33—Today’s reading, especially chapters 31 and 32, challenged me to ask myself:

  1. When might I be overly and unnecessarily concerned with fairness (Jacob) as it concerns how I am being treated? Listen to that voice that says, “What about me?”
  2. When might I be selfish and controlling (Laban) in my personal or business affairs? Listen to that voice that says, “That’s mine.”

Both behaviors fail to take into account the sovereignty of God. His plans cannot be thwarted by unfairness or self-centeredness.

We must take care not to justify our sinful behaviors which are often thinly veiled with “good intentions”.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

Amen?

Day 11

Genesis 27 & 28—“Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged. “Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?”

Heartbreaking words. What a tragic scene this must have been? In the Old Testament, before the father died, he performed a ceremony of blessing in which he officially handed over the birthright to the rightful heir. The firstborn was entitled to the inheritance but it was not his until the blessing was pronounced. Once it was given, the person’s word was binding like a written contract today. Isaac’s blessing of Jacob was irrevocable.

While we don’t have a ceremony of blessing to hand over a birthright we all thirst for the very thing both Esau and Isaac really wanted—parental acceptance. Children of all ages long to have their worth reinforced by their mother and father. The gift of affirmation and encouragement can be a life-giving, life-changing experience. Have you received the blessing? That question may elicit a wave of emotion. Will you consider this?:

  1. We have no control over whether or not our parents bless us in the way we need to be blessed. If you received the blessing, be thankful. Pass it on. If you did not, let it go, forgive them. Accept that your parents may not have received the blessing either.
  2. God has blessed us. Each and every one of us. He has more than enough blessing (affirmation) to go around! He is pursuing you, reinforcing your worth to Him, affirming and encouraging you as His special creation. Move a little closer to Him. Kneel down before Him. Receive the blessing, your blessing, the one He has just for you. Allow His ceremony of blessing to be a daily life-giving, life-changing experience for you. Don’t you see it in the words that you read? The Bible is His love letter to you. Today, ask God to show you in His Word His blessing for you. When He speaks a blessing to your heart as you read through His Word, write it down. Frame it, even.
  3. If you are a parent, know that it is never, ever too late to bless your child. Ever. Really. Imagine the blessing that you would love to hear right now from your parent(s). Give that to each of your children, in private. If you’re interested in learning more about The Blessing I’d like to recommend a book by that title by John Trent and Gary Smalley. If you click here, The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance, it will take you to the link where you can order the book.

Day 7

Genesis 18-19—These chapters are hard to read; they make me sick and sad. Chapter 19 has material fit for an R-rated movie! WOW! I am reminded of two things as I read it. First, there is nothing new under the sun. The ugly, sinful side of humanity, what we see on the news and in the movies, has been happening for centuries. Thankfully, “while we were ALL yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Second, one of the themes of this chapter is what I’ll call, “Hey God, I’ve got a better idea!” God’s plan is always the best plan. Spare yourself and your loved ones the pain of disobedience and live life God’s way.

Matthew 6:1-18— I’d lived in this city for 11 years before I took the short drive up 10th street to Jacksonville Mountain and the area created as an overlook of the city. I was stunned. Jacksonville is a quaint little University town at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range; but, my view from that “mountain” the first time left me speechless. I could see the JSU campus, whole neighborhoods, hay fields, and miles of mountain ranges on the horizon from where I was standing. In Matthew 6: 9 Jesus teaches us to pray “Our Father in Heaven”—this phrase reminds me that when I talk to God (pray) I am talking to the One who has a very different perspective on my life. He sees it all, from beginning to end. There are so many concerns and requests I have when I go to Him in prayer. What a great reminder that Our Father is in heaven and our prayers fall on the ears of a God who sees and cares and acts on our behalf from His loving perspective on our life.

Day 6

Genesis 15-17—In Genesis 15:8, after God makes His covenant with Abraham, Abraham asks God a question. “How can I be sure?” “How can I know?” How many times have you and I asked that same question about an issue in our own life? As believers we want to know that we are being obedient to God and following His will and plan for our life. We can be sure of our steps and decisions if we do what the Bible says. In order to do what the Bible says, we must know what the Bible says. In order to know what the Bible says, we must read the Bible. God’s Word is His loving instruction and guidebook on how to live this life. While many of the specific situations we need answers to are not mentioned in the Bible there are many principles and promises that are given to guide us. God’s revelation through His Word and the instruction of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds are the 2 most important components to confidently walking in obedience.

Matthew 5:21-48—These verses explain the kind of “better” righteousness that Jesus is referring to in verse 20. The righteousness of the Pharisees was focused on keeping the rules (of the Old Testament) for the sake of the rules. Jesus was illustrating that the Law (OT) was much more than a set of rules to follow; it was a matter of the heart (God’s and ours). We must look beyond the letter of the law and see God’s desire to be in relationship with us. Obedience is the result of love for God and faith in His promises.

Day 5

Genesis 12-14

Matthew 5:1-20

Day 4

Genesis 9-11—In 9:20-23, Noah got drunk. Drunkeness is addressed other places in Scripture but not here. The focus here is the son’s lack of respect for his father and the curse on his life as a result. While I don’t understand everything about this passage, I was reminded of the command to honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12). Regardless of our age, our parent’s age, or their behavior we should never treat them or speak of them in a mocking way. Every person is created in the image of God and we are to treat them with respect.

Matthew 4—As Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness he used (misused) Scripture. As we read and study the whole counsel of God’s Word we are better equipped to recognize errors such as verses are used out of context or twisted to mean something other than what God intended. We also are equipped with truth and wisdom as we face times of testing and temptation.

Day 3

Genesis 6-8—Noah’s to-do list is staggering. Build a boat the length of 1 ½ football fields and as high as a four-story building. Gather at least 2 of every kind of animal and enough food to feed them and your family for a year and half. As we read Genesis 6-8, we see evidence of the persistent 100 year-long obedience of a man focused on one thing—God’s to-do list for him. I think the mistake I often make is attempting, worrying about, planning for, trying to fix, and trying to figure out many, many things that are not on the list God has given me today or in this season of my life. I waste a lot of precious time, energy, and resources when I choose to focus on things that are beyond my control. Today I choose to concentrate on what God has given me to do and leave the rest to him.

Matthew 3—I couldn’t help but think of the Duck Dynasty men as I read the description of John the Baptist. He was certainly a character; “rough as a cob” as Eric would say. But people from all over Judea and the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear him. When they encountered John they were sure to notice his clothes and his diet; he also made sure he pointed them to Jesus.

What attracts people to you? Your sense of humor? Your knowledge of sports? Your sense of style? Your listening ear? Your willingness to help? Your good looks? Your quirkiness? Whatever it is that’s your hook! Use that thing that makes you YOU, and point people to Jesus.

Day 2

Genesis 3-5—I am reminded today of the care we must take in how we interpret and respond to the enemy’s ways. In 3:1 we see his cunning approach to deceive. There is rarely, if ever, a straight denial or direct temptation we must resist. Rather, he knows just the right amount of skepticism to offer. To Eve he said, “Did God really say you must not eat of the fruit from any of the trees of the garden?” To us he says “Does God really expect you to put up with that?” or “Does God really think you don’t deserve some happiness?” You can hear the implication: God is holding out on you. He’s spoiling the fun. He’s messing with you. Not only does he exaggerate God’s intent, he sneakily implies that we have the ability and the right to stand in judgment of God. The first sin did not occur when Eve took a bite of the fruit but rather with her expression against the goodness of God. “We must not even touch it,” she tells the serpent. Perhaps she had already considered the one-tree restriction and the nudge by the serpent was the trigger. How the enemy must have gloated as her pride demanded she offer her own exaggeration of the command; and how her Creator must have grieved.

As children of the Most High God we cannot afford to flirt with the possibility that God is limiting our pleasure in this life. We must take captive every thought (and temptation) to question God’s goodness toward us.

God knows exactly what he is doing. He knows what is best and you and I can trust him in all things.

Matthew 2—In verse 13 the Lord instructed Joseph in a dream to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt. In verse 14 we read: “That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary.” The trip was 400 miles as the crow flies, on foot, with a two-year old little boy. But Joseph’s obedience was immediate. We miss the blessing of obedience when we hesitate to do what God asks of us. It may not always make sense to us or to others. It may be difficult or inconvenient or costly.

God knows exactly what he is doing. He knows what is best and you and I can trust him in all things. Sound familiar?

From Genesis to Revelation, the names and stories change but God is the same Trustworthy, Faithful, and Loving God.

Day 1

Genesis 1 & 2—Genesis means “beginnings” and obviously, it is a book of beginnings. From the beginning of creation to the beginning of a covenant people through Abraham we see one very important theme—God. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God…”

We’ve chosen to start this year with a commitment to read God’s Word. We’re “beginning” right! What if we invited God into all our beginnings this year? The beginning of every decision, every conversation, every activity. How might our lives be different?

Matthew 1—Matthew’s purpose of the genealogy in this chapter is to prove that Jesus is a descendant of both King David and Abraham, just as the Old Testament had predicted. Especially interesting is the names of the four women included: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. (We’ll learn more about these women later) Had we been in charge of planning Jesus’ family tree we probably wouldn’t have included them, but God did. It was part of his plan all along. He went to great lengths to prove his love for us–every single one of us. Jews. Gentiles. Women. Men. Sinners. In need of a savior. Jesus, he will save his people, his family, me and you, from their sins. God is with us!

 

 

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