Of highest importance?

Scripture reading for January 18th: Genesis 30-31, Psalm 11, Mark 12

Mark 12: 28-34 “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” “Well said, Teacher,” the man replied. “Your are right in saying that God is One and there is no other but Him. To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.””

Jesus was being grilled by the religious leaders in their plan to trap Him and find a reason to kill him. Jesus wisely answered their questions and turned each question around on them, exposing their own ignorance of God’s Word. One of the teachers of the law had a legitimate question and Jesus answered his inquiry about the most important of God’s commandments. He quoted from the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses and the teachers accepted His answer. The most important commandment has to do with our love for God–a complete love encompassing our whole heart, mind and strength. It is demonstrated by our love for others as for ourself. To experience the abundant life of God’s kingdom, love must be of highest importance! God is Love!

Genesis 31:53-55 “So Jacob took an oath in the Name of the Fear of his father Isaac. He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there. Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.”

Prayer: Father God, I love You with all my heart, mind and strength and receive Your Word as the highest importance in my own life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and Your love for others made in Your image. Help me daily to allow Your abundant love to flow through my life and draw others to You. Examine my life today and make correction as needed.

Psalm 11:4 “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth, His eyes examine them.”

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Jesus, the blessing of all nations!

Scripture reading for January 17th: Genesis 28-29; Mark 11

Mark 11:7-11 “And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” And He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when He had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”

Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt to the cries of worship from the crowd who had viewed Him as the coming and promised Messiah. Jesus was a descendant of King David through his mother and even through His adoptive father Joseph. There were coats laid out on the road, palm branches, and cries of “Hosanna” (The Lord Saves). Jesus entered Jerusalem on Passover week as the “Lamb of God” who would take away the sins of the world. He went to the temple where the Levites, scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees were in charge and charging returning pilgrims for sacrifices. Jesus quietly observed and then left with the twelve. He would return to drive out the money-changers and declare God’s purpose for His House–a place of prayer for the nations! All nations would be blessed through Jesus’ final sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Mark 11:17 “And He was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Faith confession: Father God, Thank You that I am now a part of Your ‘House of prayer’ here on earth. May all nations be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Jews welcomed Jesus at the beginning of that Passover week, I look forward to worshiping Jesus every day of the week and one day to welcome Him as King of Kings. Prepare me to be part of the bridal company to greet Jesus with lamps burning when He returns!

Genesis 28:12-14 “And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all families of the earth be blessed.””

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Receiving the blessing!

Scripture reading for January 14th: Genesis 26-27, Mark 10

Mark 10:13-16 “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.”

Everyone wants the blessing of God and longs for His approval and loving touch! In Jesus’ day, the disciples argued who was the greatest and Jesus took a child and held it in His arms. In this passage, the disciples were discouraging people from bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing. They rebuked them for wasting Jesus’ time on those who they deemed ‘unimportant’. This aroused Jesus and He rebuked the disciples for their hindrance of the children. Jesus explained that the attitude of children and their parents to seek God’s blessing and touch was what the kingdom of heaven was all about. He took them in His arms and blessed them by placing His hands on them! The touch of God is the greatest blessing! God wants to bless His children with His indwelling presence, of much more value than the world’s treasures!

Mark 10:23 “And Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at His Words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.””

Faith confession: Father God, as a child myself, I desire Your blessing and Your touch on my children and grandchildren. Help me to bring them to You in prayer and to instruct them on the importance of Your blessing through Jesus Christ our Lord. Draw my children and grandchildren to desire and personally lay hold of Your blessing of eternal salvation through faith. Reveal to me any way that I may be hindering them.

Genesis 27:26-29 “Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you.”

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Pathway to greatness!

Scripture reading for January 13th: Genesis 24-25, Psalm 4, Mark 9

Mark 9:33-37 “And they came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in His arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in My Name receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him Who sent Me.””

Jesus knew everything about everyone. In this account, Jesus confronted the disciples about their argument with one another concerning who was the greatest and deserved places of honor. Jesus asked them what they had been discussing, but His question brough silence. When Jesus asks us questions, it doesn’t mean He needs our answer as much as it means we need to think about our answer. He called the disciples together and had them sit at His feet. He then took a child and put the youngster in His own arms as an example of serving the least. This was the only pathway to greatness and the abundant life now and into eternity! God honors humble servants!

Genesis 24:26-27 “The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed be the Lord the God of my master Abraham, Who has not forsaken His steadfast love and His faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”

Faith confession: Lord God, I bow in worship before You for Your faithfulness and steadfast love to us through Your Son Jesus Christ, providing the abundant life for all who believe. His example of serving the least–lost sinners, children, hurting people–touches my heart and makes me want to follow His great example. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and lead me on the path to abundant life through serving You and others. My reward will be Your smiling Face.

Psalm 4:5-6 “Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of Your Face upon us, O Lord.”

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Miracles of multiplication!

Scripture reading for January 12th: Genesis 21-23, Psalm 107, Mark 8

Mark 8: 1-6 “In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, He called His disciples to Him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And His disciples answered Him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” And He directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, He broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before the crowd.”

Jesus was full of compassion for the needs of ordinary people. The crowd had been with Him for three days and food was scarce in the desolate place they were staying. His solution was to call together His disciples and explain his feelings and help them reason through the alternatives. The disciples responded with a question filled with skepticism. Jesus asked them what they did have on hand–“seven loaves” was their response and ‘two small fish.’ Jesus received from them their meager supply. He took time to give God thanks and then He broke the bread and gave it to His disciples to distribute. As they set it before the crowd, the bread was miraculously multiplied to feed about four thousand men plus women and children! Jesus’ compassion brings God’s provision–in abundance! Twelve baskets were left over after all had eaten!

Genesis 22:14 “So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”/ as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Faith confession: Father God, thank You for these accounts of Your abundant compassion and provisions for those who are in need. I believe that I can call on You at any time for any need and You will provide the resources of heaven to meet the need. I praise You for Your steadfast love and wondrous provision of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind!

Psalm 107:19-21 “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He sent out His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!”

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Pressing in to receive!

Scripture reading for January 11th: Genesis 19-20, Psalm 1, Mark 7

Mark 7:31-36 “Then He returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to Him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged Him to lay His hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, He put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.”

Jesus had gone into the region of the Gentiles around the Sea of Galilee. In spite of His desire to remain out of sight, He had healed the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman who had pressed in to lay hold of a better life for her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus was next sought out by friends of a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. They approached Jesus and begged Him to lay his hands on their friend. Jesus took him aside and ministered personally to the man by placing fingers in his deaf ears and spitting on His own finger and touching the man’s mute tongue. At the simple command of Jesus, the ears were opened, his tongue was loosed, and he was made whole! Again Jesus wanted to remain anonymous and told him not to tell anyone. But who can remain silent when they can now hear and speak! Praise Jesus for bringing abundant life, even to the Gentiles!

Genesis 20:17 “Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for these examples of Abraham and Jesus Christ reflecting Your heart of love and mercy to all people of all races and backgrounds. Help me by the Holy Spirit to press into You in prayer for those with needs and believe and received the abundant life! Let the abundant waters of Your love and grace flow through Your Word producing eternal fruit!

Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

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Needed rest

Scripture reading for January 10th: Genesis 16-18, Mark 6

Mark 6:30-32 “The apostles returned to Jesus and told them all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.”

A key to enjoying life is to get plenty of rest and have leisure time. But life happens and our schedules can become overloaded and so jam-packed that the normal rhythms of life are crowded out. We become over-stimulated and stressed out. Jesus and the disciples found themselves in this same predicament from doing the wonderful work of ministry to the sick and afflicted. Crowds of people pressed them and there was not even time to eat a leisurely meal. Jesus recognized their true need of rest and gave an invitation for them to come away to a desolate place for leisure and quiet rest. If you find yourself in this same type of stress today, please listen to Jesus’ Words and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to a quiet place for recharging! Even good work can take the sap out of us and requires refreshing in Jesus’ presence. But sometimes crowds follow us and compassion triumphs over a tired body!

Mark 6:33-34 “Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your ability to anticipate the needs of Your people and provide for them. Help me to recognize Your invitation to come away with You alone and to willingly respond and be actively present with You. Forgive me for the many distractions that I allow to keep me from Your invitation. Give me wisdom and extra strength to show compassion to those You do bring into my path for ministry. You and Your Word are my true source of rest and abundance!

Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time next year, I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

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Pressing in!

Scripture reading for January 7th: Genesis 12-15, Psalm 148, Mark 5

Mark 5:24-29 “And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”

When a person has suffered under a disease or physical infirmity for many years, it is often hard to believe that things can change. In the natural world, things always seem to get worse and conditions deteriorate. This woman in Mark’s Gospel had experienced twelve years of suffering. She had tried all the recommended remedies and spent her money but was worse off than before. But word of Jesus’ healing signs had reached her ears. Faith arose in her heart and she spoke a ‘faith word’ to her own spirit: “If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.” She heard that Jesus was in her area and made haste to do what she believed would bring healing to her suffering body. Pressing in, one touch of Jesus’ robe brought an end to her blood flow and a new sense of health and well-being. If you have a long-term problem like this dear woman, why not take this Word today and reach out in faith to Jesus believing.

Genesis 15:1, 6 “After these things the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; and your reward shall be very great.” . . .”And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.”

Prayer: Father God, I want to hear Your Word in each minute and hour of my day that I might walk in faith and press in to lay hold of all that You have for me. Forgive me when I speak out of fear and unbelief. I want to serve You and others by living a life of faith. I invite the Holy Spirit to give me healthy, ‘Word of God’ inspired self-talk. Bring to my remembrance Your promises and use me to facilitate healing and forgiveness through Your unchanging Word.

Psalm 148:11-13 “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the Name of the Lord, for His Name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.”

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“Peace! Be still!”

Scripture reading for January 6th: Genesis 9-11, Mark 4

Mark 4:37-41 “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?””

Life is filled with disruptions that cause us to loose our peace and bring out our fears. Fear of death, fear of pain, fear of punishment and other fears mark our lives as humans. The disciples in the boat that day were no different than us. When the storm broke upon them, they were fearful for their lives and they woke Jesus from His sleep with a serious question: Did Jesus really care for their welfare? Jesus took action, speaking to the wind and the storm. Immediately there was a great calm and the disciples were filled with even more fear! Who was this Man? How could He speak to the wind and sea? But Jesus’ Words applied to them as well! With faith they could have peace and cast out fear and live abundantly in a great calm!

Mark 4:20 “But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for delivering us from fear through the Word of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. Help me to remember these words of Jesus to the wind and sea and chose faith instead of fear. Thank You for the New Covenant of eternal life in Jesus Christ and the privilege of using Jesus’ Name to confront storms and waves in my own life. Deliver those bound with fear through the Good News of Jesus today!

Genesis 9:8-11 “I establish My covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations. I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of My covenant between Me and the earth.””

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Companionship and relationship

Scripture reading for January 5th: Genesis 6-8, Psalm 104, Mark 3

Mark 3:13-15 “And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve (whom He also named apostles) so that they might be with Him and He might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.”

God didn’t design us to function alone. Sin’s original lie through the serpent, “you shall be as God”, implies that we need no one else. We alone can determine what is right and what is wrong for us. We can set our own rules and call the shots. Jesus invited those who responded to His call to follow Him and to “be with Him,” to spend time in His presence. Jesus desired their companionship and used that as a primary means of discipleship. As these disciples were ‘with Jesus,’ they saw Him model for them the ministry of preaching good news, of forgiveness of sins and the spoiling of Satan’s kingdom by casting out demons. Ministry is caught, more than just ‘taught’. He then sent them out to follow His example and to win new disciples for the kingdom of Heaven, bringing them to relationship with Jesus!

Genesis 6:9 “These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”

Genesis 8:18-19 “So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his son’s wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your desire for relationships with sinners and Your stated purpose in choosing disciples to be with Jesus, Your Son. Forgive me for forgetting my responsibility to spend time with You and to be aware that You are with Me each day. Remind me when I lack awareness of Your Presence or fail to seek guidance for reaching out to my own family and the lost. Open opportunities today to preach the Good News and to cast out spirits of demons.

Psalm 104:33-34 “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord.”

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