January 8

Genesis 18:16-19:38; Matthew 6:25-7:14; Psalm 8:1-9; Proverbs 2:6-15

There is a power in righteousness. It means to be in good standing with God. In the Old Testament, they had to earn this status through their works (actions). Abraham had a proven track record with God and when his nephew, Lot, was in Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham had enough good standing with God that he could plead for Lot’s life.

In our society, righteousness is downplayed as unnecessary. In fact, people seem to be praised for their ruthlessness and utter ungodliness. Those types of people may wield great earthly power but they do not wield any supernatural power.

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we no longer have to earn righteousness. It is conferred upon us the moment that we accept Jesus as our Savior (Romans 10:9-10). There are great privileges to being in God’s family (being in good standing with God).

You have the assurance of answered prayers. You have God’s protection and favor on your family. You can intercede on another’s behalf and God will honor those prayers. You also get provision of your needs and so many more. These are great benefits but they do come with responsibility.

Jesus said that those who are righteous should have only one priority: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). God expects us to put Him first in all we do. Not as an afterthought but a priority–as the actual center of our lives!

Don’t neglect your righteous benefits. It is your advantage in a world that is full of unrighteousness!

Tomorrow’s Reading:  Genesis 20:1-22:24; Matthew 7:15-29; Psalm 9:1-12; Proverbs 2:16-22

January 7

Genesis 16:1-18:15; Matthew 6:1-24; Psalm 7:1-17; Proverbs 2:1-5

Have you ever resisted a miracle that God wanted to perform? Most of us would say, “No!” But, if we were to delve deeper into how we react to the big promises that God gives us, we may have a different response.

Abram and Sarai (later known as Abraham and Sarah) were told by God that they would have their own child– even though they were old. This was a big promise. Abram and Sarai had many encounters with God where He proved that He was awesome and had no limitations. When Lot was taken, Abram and a small band of men rescued him from 5 kings. When they were in a famine, God provided for them. When Lot needed to be delivered from Sodom, God sent a personal, angelic escort. God had a great track record of keeping His Word!

Yet, when God reminds them of His promise to give them a child of their own, they can’t believe it. So, they tried to help God out by creating a substitute. Sarai gives her servant, Hagar, to her husband and she gets pregnant. But, this substitute is not what God promised. Then, God changes their names to reflect their new status. Abram becomes Abraham — which means father of many. Sarai becomes Sarah, which means princess. Even with their name change, they were reluctant to believe God could keep his promise to them.

Later, God sent an angel to give them the specific season when the child would be born. Sarah in disbelief, laughs! We know how their story ends. God keeps His Word and they give birth to their own son.

What miracle have you resisted? Is there a promise you have cherished in your heart that you thought was impossible because it was beyond your abilities?  If God made you a promise, He can and will perform it. Dust the promise off. Get it off the back shelf. Let God show you His power as He keeps His promise to you against all the odds. Don’t resist God’s promises this year. Rely upon them because they will surely come to pass!

Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 18:16-19:38; Matthew 6:25-7:14; Psalm 8:1-9; Proverbs 2:6-15

January 6

Genesis 13:5-15:21; Matthew 5:27-48; Psalm 6:1-10; Proverbs 1:29-33

The grass is not always greener on the other side!! Lot learned this the hard way! Abram’s men and Lot’s servants were not getting along. They needed to separate. Abram graciously let Lot choose which land he wanted. Lot, after seeing how green and plush the land of Jordan looked,  chose the best for himself.

Abram stayed where he was in the land of Canaan. Even though it appeared that Abram had been taken advantage of, the opposite was true. Abram ended up being in the land that flourished and Lot ended up in a place called Sodom! You see the truth here is that when there is a blessing on you, it really does not matter where you are. The blessing will manifest where you are.

Most people would have criticized Abram because as the elder person, he should have chosen first. He deferred to Lot and seemingly got the “short end of the stick.” In actuality, when you defer to others and esteem others more than yourself, you position yourself for God to bless you even more. Isn’t that what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 5? We should demonstrate our love to neighbors and enemies because we cannot lose. People may feel because you let them have their way that they have gotten the best of you but they can’t. The green grass that they chose may end up being Sodom.

Years ago, I noticed a patch of grass in our yard was greener than all the rest of the grass. Week after week, it grew greener and greener than the rest of the lawn. After weeks of wondering, I went to examine why. You know what I found? We had a problem with our septic system! Everything that looks green may not be better!

Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 16:1-18:15; Matthew 6:1-24; Psalm 7:1-17; Proverbs 2:1-5

January 5

Genesis 11:1-13:4; Matthew 5:1-26; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 1:24-28

Most of us have heard of Abram (later known as Abraham). Many people are not familiar with his father, Terah. Terah had three sons and along their journey his son Haran died. God comes to Terah and tells him to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and go to the land of Canaan (The Promised Land). Terah, takes Nahor and Abram (and their families) and heads towards Canaan. He gets part of the way there and stops in a place named Haran.
Terah died in Haran and never made it to Canaan! There are events that happen in our lives that knock us literally off our feet so much so that we stay stuck in that place, even though we know we have a destiny to pursue. We try to get up and “soldier on” but we seem to only mark time and space without any real movement towards our purpose. We allow an awful event to define us so that it steals our future! God gets no glory out of that!
God gets glory when we keep moving forward even while it hurts, because God knows that the best antidote to our pain is purpose (Promised Land).  As we pursue our destiny by trusting Him, God will heal the pain and replace it with unspeakable joy. You may think that you cannot do it and you are right, you can’t! But, God can! Look at what Jesus said, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Ask God today to “…Make your way plain for me to follow.” (Psalm 5:8) God’s path will lead you to the Promised Land (Purpose) for your life. Do let anyone else lead you because you will be led astray. Even if it’s with tears in your eyes, press forward to that place that God has destined for you. That’s why we remember Abraham and his story is notable. Not for his mistakes or failing or pain, but because he kept going toward his destiny. Let the same be said of you!

January 4

Genesis 8:1-10:32; Matthew 4:12-25; Psalm 4:1-8; Proverbs 1:20-23

How do you know when it’s time to make your next move? Noah had been in the ark for more than 150 days. He saw that the rain stopped so he sent out a raven and a dove to “test” if it was time to leave the ark. Days and weeks passed and he tried to “discern” when to leave the ark.

Noah opened up the window and removed the covering of the ark in an attempt to see if it was okay to get out of the boat. With all of his “testing”, “discerning”, and “looking”, Noah did not leave the ark until one significant thing happened: God told him to. After all, who was the One who told Noah to enter the ark in the first place? It was God! So, shouldn’t God have the right to tell Noah when it’s time to get off of it?

Noah could have saved himself a lot of time and energy if he had just trusted that the same God who led him to enter the ark would also tell him when to exit. Often we try to help God out because we think maybe He forgot about us in all of His busyness. As we make our feeble efforts to help God, it only adds to our frustrations. I suspect Noah thought things like: “When can I get off this ark?” “The dove didn’t come back surely I can go now.” “I can see that the land is almost dry it has to be time to leave.”

When we give our lives to God and truly trust Him to lead us and guide us, we have to even remain at peace when it feels like we are staying in the ark too long. If we get ahead of God, it can cause real troubles for us. Trying to help God out usually complicates things. Let’s practice trusting God’s leading today. Just sit back and enjoy the experience until God says it’s time to make the next move. This will alleviate your frustration and cause you great peace because God knows when we should make our next move.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 11:1-13:4; Matthew 5:1-26; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 1:24-28

January 3

Genesis 5:1-7:24; Matthew 3:7-4:11; Psalm 3:1-8; Proverbs 1:10-19

What does it mean to be favored by God? Noah and his family lived in perilous times. There was immorality and blatant defiance against the will of God. People had become so accustomed to sin that “everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.” Now that’s a sad state of affairs. It was so bad that the Bible says that God was “sorry He had ever made them.” (Genesis 6:5-6)

In the middle of this evil living, God took notice of Noah and his family. God evaluated Noah and his family and saw they had something different than the rest. “Noah found favor with the Lord.” Favor can be defined as supernatural advantage. Favor (or Grace) occurs when doors open for you and not for others. Scripture never says that Noah was perfect. But, he did have a covenant with God. When God could not count on others to live for Him, God could count on Noah.

Can God trust you to be faithful when others are faithless? Can God trust you to share His love with those who do not know him? Can God trust you to live for Him even when it’s not popular? Can God trust you to place Him first in your life? If so, then you should expect supernatural advantage to follow you wherever you go. That favor will provide for you. It will protect you. It will preserve your purpose. It will accelerate the answers to your prayers. That’s why David said, “I cried out to the Lord and he answered me from His holy mountain.” (Psalm 3:4)

You don’t have to wonder IF God will favor you. Time and time again He proves that favor is given to those who will obey Him. Let this year be one of accelerated favor because God sees your consistent obedience. His favor will cause you to rise to the top when others are sinking.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 8:1-10:32; Matthew 4:12-25; Psalm 4:1-8; Proverbs 1:20-23

January 2

Genesis 3:1-4:26; Matthew 2:13-3:6; Psalm 2:1-12; Proverbs 1:7-9

Sin can have devastating effects on our lives. Sin is anything that displeases God. Where we end up after sin is always worse than when we began. All sin begins with a temptation! We are tempted to listen to someone else’s voice above God’s voice. We are tempted to follow a path different from the path God has laid out for us. We are tempted to think that we know more than God.

The good news today is that sin will not have the final word! Even though Adam and Eve sinned against God, their sin was not the end of the story. God put in place a plan to bring all of us back to Him. Jesus is the way back to God! If you are struggling with sin in an area of your life, you do not have to fight it alone. You have Jesus who is willing to help you get out of it.

Ask for Jesus’ help!  Surrender your life to Him. Receive His forgiveness and strength to keep moving forward. Jesus knows how to lead you out of sin! You may have to do it moment by moment or day by day. It’s okay. Because as long as you are pursuing a relationship with Jesus, you will move further and further away from sin until you are free. “So, if the Son sets you free, you are truly free!” (John 8:36) This is true wisdom. Act on it today and receive God’s amazing grace!

Tomorrow’s Reading:  Genesis 5:1-7:24; Matthew 3:7-4:11; Psalm 3:1-8; Proverbs 1:10-19

January 1

Genesis 1-2:25; Matthew 1:1-2:12; Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 1:1-6

Today is all about beginnings. While beginnings are new to us, they are not new to God. Look at the precision with which He constructs the world. Each day, He accomplished another aspect of His creation. Can you hear Him speaking, “Let there be Light?” He started His creation with intentionality. The same is even true with our lives. Would God put so much care into designing the world without putting the same amount of care into our lives? Of course not!

As you start out in this New Year, be as intentional as God. Let your words create the reality that you want to see. Design your life day by day. Review each day with a sense of how the next one can be better. And, when tomorrow comes, make it better by accomplishing exactly what God tells you. He knows how to make all things good!

Each day you enjoy on earth is a good day because God created it. Prepare to be amazed by God’s goodness and overwhelmed by His love. He gave you this new year to give you an opportunity to experience more of Him.

Tomorrow’s Reading:  Genesis 3:1-4:26; Matthew 2:13-3:6; Psalm 2:1-12; Proverbs 1:7-9