“On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry!” (Genesis 8:13-14 NLT).

January 4, 2019

A NEW YEAR BEGINS!
How long did Noah, his family, and the animals live on the ark? Twelve and a half months! They spent a year cooped up together on a big boat with one window! That must have been some year. Everything they had known before was gone. Yet, everything before them was new again.

God had saved them. Their former homes and possessions were gone, but they were alive. They had the Lord and they had each other.

Have you ever had a year when the floods of life came and seemingly took away everything you had known? Where do you turn at such a time? It’s hard not to live in the past. How do we look to the Lord and to a new day, a new year to begin again? We turn our eyes to the Lord . . .

PRAYER: Dear Father, help us to turn our eyes to You, turning the page on yesterday, fully living in the present, and trusting You with the future. Yesterday had its share of suffering, loss and even shame. Yet, we know that You have put our sin and shame on Your Son Jesus, so that we no longer have to bear it. Help us to walk by faith in the freedom of the Spirit, knowing that the future is in Your hands. In Jesus name. Amen.

“But Noah found favor with the Lord” (Genesis 6:8 NLT).

January 3, 2019

HOW TO FIND FAVOR WITH GOD
Out of all the peoples of the earth, Noah “found favor with the Lord.” The word “favor” might also be translated “grace” or “acceptance.” This “favor” says more about God than it does Noah. For although Noah was recorded as righteous and blameless, the most revealing attribute was that “he walked in close fellowship with God.”

Because of God’s favor, Noah and his family were saved from the floods of judgment by being found safe in the ark of God. The wrath of God was poured out on those outside and upon the ark itself, yet those within the Ark were saved.

The ark is a picture of Christ. Those within Christ have found favor with the Lord. Only those in Christ will be saved at the final judgment. For “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

PRAYER: Lord, thank you that we can find favor with You in Christ Jesus. We confess our sins to You and thank you for the forgiveness we have in Jesus. O what joy we have knowing we are safe in the ark of Christ. In Jesus name. Amen.

“Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one” (Psalms 2:1-2 NLT).

January 2, 2019

PRAYING AND PREACHING THE WORD
The Spirit inspired David to write these verses concerning the futility of the world’s kingdoms conspiring against the Lord and against His “anointed one” (מָשִׁיחַ, mashiyach), which is the Messiah, the Christ. Centuries later, the Spirit inspired the early Christians to pray these verses back to God after Peter and John had been jailed and warned by the Sanhedrin to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. In their prayer, they identified Pilate and Herod along with the Gentiles and Jewish leaders as conspiring against the Lord’s anointed one, Jesus, just as the Spirit had revealed to David (Acts 4:23-31). When they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken and they went out and preached the Word boldly.

PRAYER: Lord, help us not only to read and hear Your Word, but also to pray it and preach it. And not just in dry understanding, but empowered by the Spirit, so that we and those around us are shaken by Your presence. And let us not be afraid when the world’s kings and nations conspire and prepare for battle, knowing that their plans are futile, but Yours are perfect and eternal. Now, send us out again with Your Word and Spirit, in the name of Your Anointed One, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

“And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” (Genesis 2:3 NLT).

January 1, 2019

THE REVELATION OF REST
God created many “signs to mark the seasons, days, and years” (Gen.1:14). But He established the seven-day-week by revelation. For God worked six days to create the heavens and earth and on the seventh day He rested. So, He declared the seventh day “holy,” which means set apart for special use–– in this case–– rest.

The interaction between the earth, sun and moon were put in motion to run like a clock and a calendar, establishing our days, months and years. But our weeks are lived by faith, for no other sign but God’s Word reveals the seven-day-week.

So, with this in mind, let us begin this year with the goal of following not only God’s rhythm of creation, but also His rhythm of revelation. Working and resting by faith in the One who made us in His image and for Himself. Our Lord Jesus leads us in this saying, “Whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 5:19). Our Lord Jesus is our revelation of rest, for He is our Sabbath Rest.

“I am the Lord, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6 NLT).

December 31, 2018

THE GOD OF THE OLD IS THE GOD OF THE NEW
As the Old Testament closes with the writings of the prophet Malachi, the Lord reminded the descendants of Jacob of His immutability. People today often wonder at this. How can the God that judged the world with a devastating deluge be the same God who so loved the world that He sent His only begotten to save it?

The immutability of God is better understood when we see the Bible as a progressive revelation of God. Page by page, as we read from Genesis to Revelation, we learn more about God. Finally, the fullest revelation of God is seen in Jesus. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son… The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (Heb. 1:1-3). As Jesus told His disciples, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

The new covenant of grace, which was introduced in the New Testament, is not evidence of any change in the God who gave Moses the Law. On the contrary, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. God gave the law to reveal His holiness and our sinfulness that we might repent. God gave us Jesus to pay for our sins that we might believe in Him and be saved.

God’s immutability is better understood when we read the Bible from back to front, rather than front to back. Indeed, God and His Word are only rightly understood by reading through the lens of Jesus. For Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8).

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)

December 30, 2018

WHO CAN FIND A VIRTUOUS AND CAPABLE WIFE?
This is a proverb made more timely by the current culture’s low view of marriage. Neither the art of being a wife, nor a husband are held in high regard today. Yet, for those who would have a marriage as God designed, desiring to experience the joy and bliss of such a divine estate, the Proverbs 31 description of a godly wife, is well… more precious than rubies!

As a young man, I was overwhelmed by the prospect of finding a wife. How can you find the right one? As most men, my eye was attracted to outward beauty. Yet, I soon found this an uncertain indicator of inner grace (as my mother had warned). Even listening to my pastor’s sermons, who taught us not to date those outside the faith, I struggled with uncertainty. How could I be sure that I had found the right one for me? I mean, this whole “two shall become one” stuff is a pretty big deal and then you add on “till death do us part,” and I was terrified of making a mistake.

That’s when I began to pray for a Proverbs 31 wife, wherever she was out there, that God would take care of her and prepare her for me. I would go through the list of attributes and pray them for her. In the process of doing this, I began to think about whether I was worthy of having such a wife. Didn’t I need to be a Proverbs 31 husband too? “Where’s that list?” I wondered. So, I began to pray a two part prayer: “Lord, make me worthy of such a wife and help me find her when the time is right.”

This coming June will mark 40 years of marriage to my Proverbs 31 wife. This is a thing that God has done. He prepared us for each other before we ever met. He led us to find each other. And He has knit us together through many joys and sorrows along the way. I don’t think either of us would have fit the Proverbs 31 description when we first started. But in our commitment to God and to one another, the Lord has done this work in us.

If you are looking to find a Proverbs 31 wife (or husband), first learn to be satisfied in your relationship with God, asking Him to make you more and more like Jesus, which is His purpose for you. Pray for your future mate, that God is doing the same for them. Then, ask God to lead you to one another when the time is right.

Dec29: “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart… Then the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones with him.” (Zechariah 14:4-5 NLT).

December 29, 2018

WHEN CHRIST RETURNS TO STAND ON THE MOUNT
Two streams of Messianic prophecy are found in Zechariah. One, points to Christ’s first coming as humble Savior, and the other, to His second coming as righteous Judge. This passage belongs to the second stream, as the phrase “on that day” connects it to the time period known as the “Day of the Lord,” when God’s judgment will fall on planet earth during the time of the Great Tribulation.

At His first coming, Christ stood on the Mount of Olives many times. During Passion Week alone, the Bible recorded three significant times that Jesus spent on the Mount: The Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24), the Triumphal Entry (Luke 19:29-30), and the Garden Prayer and Betrayal (Mark 14:32-52).

On the day of Christ’s ascension, the disciples were with Him on the Mount when He was lifted up into the clouds. They heard the angel say, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way” (Acts 1:11). Zechariah prophesied of that day of which the angel spoke, a day when Christ will return to stand on the Mount of Olives and the saints of God with Him.

Surely old Job will be with the saints and the Lord Jesus on that day. As Job confidently prophesied, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died” (Zechariah 12:10 NLT).

December 28, 2018

A FUTURE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IS COMING TO JERUSALEM
The prophet Zechariah wrote around 520 BC. This was 500 years before Christ’s first coming and over 2500 years before the present age. Here, we see a reference to “an only son,” a “firstborn” who the people of Israel will “look on” and finally acknowledge as the long awaited One whom they have “pierced.” Recognizing Him, they will “mourn” and “grieve bitterly,” in repentance.

Notice the unusual use of pronouns that point to the Divine nature of the One they have pierced. God is clearly speaking when He says, “I… will pour out” and then again when He says, “They will look on… ME …whom they have pierced,” but then changes pronouns in the same sentence saying, they will “mourn for… HIM … as for an only Son.” God told them that they would one day recognize the One they had crucified as both “ME” and “HIM.” This is the paradox of the Trinity. For the trinitarian nature of God is seen in Zechariah, as the Spirit and the Son are referenced here by God the Father.

A future day of spiritual awakening will come to the Jewish people before Christ’s return when they will recognize Jesus as Messiah. God has said it. And it will come to pass.

“The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.” (Psalm 146:9 NLT).

December 27, 2018

WHO THE LORD PROTECTS AND CARES FOR
The psalmist observed that the Lord protected the foreigner and cared for the orphan and the widow. These are the least of the inhabitants, not only in Israel, but in any nation. They have little in the way of possessions, power or prestige. So, they are often overlooked, or worse, they are used and abused. Yet, the Lord is their unseen protector.

However, the wicked in Israel, who apparently had all that the former lacked, did not have the Lord’s protection. In fact, they had attracted His enmity. The Lord worked against them to frustrate their plans.

I was raised in the house of a widow, the firstborn of four children. My father died of cancer when I was eight. We had little in the way of worldly things, yet we knew the Lord’s protection. I and my siblings are a testimony to this psalm. My mother often prayed the psalms to the Lord, especially that God would be a “Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows” (Psa. 68:5) as He promised.

I wonder what stand the Body of Christ should take concerning foreigners, orphans and widows? Aren’t we called to join our Lord in protecting and caring for the least of these? As the apostle James wrote, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).

If we find our plans being frustrated, perhaps we should reconsider our stance. Let us stand with the Lord in this.

“I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles” (Psalm 145:5 NLT).

December 26, 2018

MEDITATING ON THE MAJESTY
David was determined to “meditate” on the Lord’s “majestic glorious splendor” and on His “wonderful miracles.” The miracles seem obvious enough to consider. Whatever is beyond natural explanation, whatever seems to be an interruption or suspension of natural law, so that God is the only explanation, these are miracles, are they not? So, David was determined to consider God’s miracles.

But what of God’s “majestic glorious splendor?” What is this? And what is this “meditation” that David was determined to do? The Hebrew translated “meditation” might also be rendered “to study” or “to talk to oneself.” David was intent on a personal study of God’s attributes. He wanted to meditate on God’s regal and heroic brilliance, the weighty beauty of His Highness. He was determined to stare into the sun of God’s perfection and omnipotence.

There are many things in the universe to think about and study. But David was keen on theology, which is the study of God.

Let us join David in this pursuit. Let us pull our thoughts off the immediate for a moment and meditate on the majesty of our Lord.