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Jan 1 – An often debated topic is the question of whether God created the earth and all life on it in six 24 hour days. Study scripture and other resources to form your own opinion and discuss this with others. Another interesting question regards the rib taken from Adam to create Eve. Some may believe that women have one more rib than men. Is this a biological fact? Does scripture say how many ribs Adam had before one was removed?

Jan 2 – When you need help, who can you be certain will provide assistance? Notice that Rahab, a harlot, provided life-saving assistance to the two spies. Remember her name because she shows up in what may be considered a least likely place. Use your imagination to envision the waters of the Jordan as they “rose up in a heap afar off.” God’s Word says that all Israel passed over on dry ground. How many Israelites were there at that time?

Jan 3 – Let’s take a look at Psalm 1:6. We often as ourselves and others when those living outside of God’s Will shall perish. As is the case with many of the Holy Scriptures, this same verse answers that question – “The Lord Knows.” The verses in Psalm 2 would seem to fit well with the current state of the world. We seem to have many nations whose people “assemble with commotion.” As we are told in this scripture, God has anointed His King and if we choose to follow Jesus we can have “the uttermost parts of the earth” as our possession.

Jan 4 – Was God’s suggestion of Job a set-up or was it an honor? Put yourself in Job’s position to truly consider this question. How could selection by God for these trials be an honor? God knew Job’s faith and his ability to maintain that faith through life’s harshest times. Discuss with your spouse, husband or wife, how each of you would react in this type of situation.

Jan 5 – Focus today’s thoughts and discussions on the Isaiah 2:6 verse. Looking around myself, in the United States, I can definitely see an abundance of soothsayers and foreign customs being accepted and forced upon us. Is my country, and yours, truly doomed due to a mass turning away from God? Do you recall what happened with Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18? God would not have destroyed them if only ten righteous people existed in those towns. Unfortunately, not even that small number could be found. Let’s make sure that our country does not fall short in the number of believers!

Jan 6 – Does it truly matter if the thoughts that stick in your mind are those of the shepherds and wise men gathered around baby Jesus in the manger? Does it truly matter if you believe there were three wise men because there were three gifts? Neither of these will affect your faith and belief in Jesus as long as you know and accept the virgin-born savior who died on a cruel Roman cross for your sins and mine. Have you had dreams and/or visions where it seems that God is guiding you in a certain direction? God still directs His people in the same way. He directed Joseph and Mary along with the wise men in today’s scriptures.

Jan 7 – Read again verses 1:10-14. Now, step outside the box of “normal” thinking and consider where else these words may be applied. My mind went to Jesus’ triumphant return. He is ready to return and nobody knows the time, yet God is mercifully holding Him back while waiting for just one more person to come into the Faith. Good “food for thought?” In a world that condones abortion for any reason while calling capital punishment inhumane, we should stand out as a “different” people.

Jan 8 – There are many places in these four chapters that we should learn from, so be sure to read slowly and with resolve to gain as much as possible from God’s Word. My area of the US is filled with farmers who could not imagine the ease that Cain was blessed with prior to Genesis 4:12. Now, he will have to till the soil and “it shall no longer yield to you its strength.” Not a farmer? Do you enjoy the constant battle with weeds in your yard and flowers? Yes, those are part of our curse thanks to Cain. In chapter 5 we move quickly through the descendants of Adam, most of whom lived 700-900 years. Discuss this lifespan from a human standpoint and then consider Noah, the ark and repopulation of the earth.

Jan 9 – Have you been a witness to the Power of God? The Israelites have certainly seen God’s Power illustrated many times. How tall and thick was the wall around Jericho? People lived in this wall, so let’s say that it was at least six feet thick. It was created to provide guard stations with an unhindered view of the surrounding lands, so let’s estimate that it was at least 25 feet tall. In spite of this wall’s “impregnable” appearance, God made it collapse because His people obeyed His commands. Think back on your life and consider when you have obeyed God’s clear guidance and seen miraculous results.

Jan 10 – We have seen an interesting drama that was laid out in God’s Holy Word. It is a drama that was set into motion by acting on the sin of lust. We can study this “soap opera” and learn greatly from its events. Psalms 5:7-9, it seems like we get a glimpse into today from almost 3,000 years ago. You can be among the most committed to God, yet others will gossip and slander your personality and actions at every turn. You can say ”as for me, I will enter your house through the abundance of your steadfast love and mercy,” yet you have to live here among those who are bloodthirsty and deceitful, rejected by God.

Jan 11 – As true believers in God, we know that He does not place these trials upon us. Just as God kept Job’s life out of Satan’s reach, He will uplift and protect us from the darts thrown at us by the world. Have you been fortunate enough to have true friends in life who stuck by you regardless of the situation? These would be friends who will provide support through the toughest of times and you will do the same for them as their toughest times are encountered. For an entire week, Job may have thought the same of these three friends. And then Eliphaz speaks …

Jan 12 – How many times have you thought things such as “there is no hope” or “I have reached the end of my rope?” Those who know God and have accepted His Son can always have hope in Him. If you want assurance of this statement, read Isaiah 9 again. We have a promise of the Lord’s deliverance from these trials. Focus on 9:6 – “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.

Jan 13 – We have discussed physical baptism as a requirement for salvation. Is baptism a requirement? Yes, it actually is. Without the indwelling (baptism) of the Holy Spirit, there is no covering of our sins. Just as Jesus was baptized with water, we may or may not be. As long as we believe and receive the Holy Spirit, all requirements have been met. Why do you believe that John called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers?” Discuss 3:7-9 while considering other scriptural facts about these groups. Most salvation discussions will include some form of baptism. John says that Jesus will baptize with the Hoily Spirit “and with fire.” What do you think he means by the reference to baptism with fire?

Jan 14 – Following the laws of the Ten Commandments? Read Exodus 20:1-17 and discuss the possibility of keeping these commandments every hour of every day. Now for an idea of how the Israelites had poorly interpreted God’s Word, perform an internet search using your favorite search engine for the phrase “613 Mitzvot.” Yes, this word can be interpreted into English as “Commandments.” The Jews had taken the very straightforward, although definitely not easy, ten commandments and extended them to 613 laws for their people to follow. Why does man feel such a need to complicate the things of God?

Jan 15 – Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan in an attempt “to be like God.” The earth was confounded with many languages because the people wanted to build a tower reaching into the heavens. With so much “playing God” in today’s world, are we deceiving ourselves and playing into the hands of Satan, as illustrated in the previous two stories? Are the citizens of the world today allowing themselves to be deceived by Satan? Look around you at the events that are unfolding. Will God’s patience finally end so that He will release the forces of the rapture?

Jan 16 – We have had Al-qaeda, Isis, and now Islamic states that are being attacked by country-sponsored armies and destructive weapons. If these are truly the enemies of God, a more effective solution relies on God’s people getting on their knees in prayer. If you would like even more proof of the depravity of our society, look at the increasing degree of disrespect. Decades ago, parents and elders were respected because of their years of wisdom. In the recent years, that type of respect has basically disappeared. In spite of the fact that morals and character have become a rare trait in the members of today’s societies, we have the same weapon available to God’s people thousands of years ago. We are connected to our omnipowerful God through prayer.

Jan 17 – God teaches us many lessons through the Psalms. We get to understand the trials that David endured as a result of his own indiscretions in life. We feel the deep pain and sorrow that David undergoes while running from his own son who is trying to kill him. In spite of these negative situations in life, we read of David’s strong belief and trust in God as he says “O Lord my God, in You I take refuge and put my trust.” Can you imagine having the faith of David? The patience of Job? The wisdom of Solomon? Mark 11:24 says that we will receive whatever we ask for in prayer – have you asked God for these things?

Jan 18 – In 5:12, we read that “[God] frustrates the devices of the crafty.” Do you see that happening in the world today? It seems like humanity has strayed so far that God has stepped back in order to allow even the believers to experience all of the unfolding darkness. We could understand world events this way, or we can take comfort in the knowledge that God is still there and no man has the power to take God’s gift of grace from us. When you wake up and watch the sun rise, God is there. You can go to the beach and experience God’s power as the waves crash onto the shore. No, God has not left us alone in this world!

Jan 19 – Verse 12:2 is the strongest statement that a Christian can make, “Behold, God, my salvation!” Is this a statement that you can make? All of your friends and coworkers? If not, verse 12:5 has the answer to that problem – “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done excellent things.” When God’s presence shows in your life, all of the people around you will see it and be affected in some way. Although it seems that the rest of the world is against God, this is not completely true. Even if it were true in your community, you can decide to be the only shining light for God in your area. That light can invade the darkness invoked by evil and draw others to hear and believe in God’s Word.

Jan 20 – Matthew 6:3 has a saying that us applicable to this book and an underlying purpose. Whenever I talk to someone about it, I try to be sure to include the fact that all profits go to the Middlesex FWB Children’s Home. This is not mentioned in order to receive any sort of pats on the back, but to emphasize the need for being charitable. This type of need leads well into the most applicable and memorable statement. “Do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own.” We can be sure that all who are in charge of charitable organizations are in a stressful position. Stress is a killer. Use the wisdom contained in these scriptures to control the stresses of your day!

Jan 21 – Are all laws important? How about that law that says you should not drive faster than 55 on certain roads? We are all law breakers at times, and we are all in need of healing and forgiveness due to disobedience to the laws laid down by God and man. Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important. His answer was “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with your soul and out of and with all your mind and out of and with all your strength.” He followed this up with “love your neighbor as yourself.” Fellow Christians, if we can do this, the rest of life will fall right in line.

Jan 22 – Is separation always a bad thing? In Genesis 13, separation of Abram and Lot was not necessarily a bad thing. Even though they parted ways, God stayed with both of them and saves Lot in later scriptures. Look at the call for us to be separate from the world in our beliefs. Read Romans 12:2 to get a deeper understanding of this call – “do not be conformed to this world … but be transformed.” We should follow this example and realize that there is no better planner for our lives than God. Give your life over to Him and know that you will live eternally praising His Name.

Jan 23 – What are your beliefs on the leadership of women in your congregation? Depending on your denomination, you may have a strong belief that women should not lead men. Yes, there are scriptural supports for this belief, since the twelve disciples were all male. Yet, there are also many occurrences of female prophets, Deborah taking a leadership position in a time of war and women in position of power in Jesus time.

Jan 24 – What is the general attitude of the world around you? Would you call your neighborhood and surrounding cities friendly and accepting of your Christian beliefs? In Psalm 9:6-7, God has a promise for you – “The enemy has been cut off and has vanished in everlasting ruins … but the Lord will remain and sit enthroned forever.” We should anxiously anticipate the day that God judges the world in righteousness.

Jan 25 – When we read this in the Amplified version, it is titled “Job’s life seems futile.” When we are going through hard times, there may seem to be never-ending troubles. We may believe that there is no light to look forward to. During these times, we should think of the Old Testament trials and tribulations experienced by Job. We should read over and over the anguish of Jesus before and during His crucifixion. It is the death and resurrection of God’s Son that provides the light at the end of our darkest times.

Jan 26 – What, hopefully Who, do you feel able to place the greatest hope in and reliance upon. If you would place your spouse in that position, I ask that you dig a little deeper for the answer. You probably realize that the “Who” that I am hoping for is that God is your greatest source of hope. We have all been let down by family members and even church members, but God has always been there, even when we have refused to feel His presence.

Jan 27 – Let’s consider the possibility of every man, woman and child on earth having access to the Word of God. Has that happened yet? Anyone who can get on the internet can read the scriptures interpreted into almost 2500 languages (as of mid-2016). Do you believe that covers all of the languages worldwide? According to the BBC, there are an estimated 7,000 languages in the world. Since well over half of those languages do not have God’s Word available, does that mean the rapture will not happen any time soon? Trick questions are so much fun! Matthew 24:36 tells us that “of that exact day and hour no one knows.” Yes, we can read the signs of the times, but we cannot know when Jesus will return.

Jan 28 – “Is the Law identical with sin?” We are asked this question in Romans 7:7. We also have that answer, “Certainly not!” We can’t count on the law to save us from sin, yet we can’t obtain salvation by obeying the law. What is left? You hit that nail on the head, Christ alone. Give your life to Christ and you are assured of salvation and “… a surpassing victory through Him who loved us.” Thank You Lord for that!

Jan 29 – One act of disobeying God that is brought out in today’s reading was performed by Abram himself and shows itself in the form of impatience. Many of us are impatient as we pray to God for His Will in our lives. We pray for a little while and decide that God must not care enough to bother with our needs. Along the way, God’s answer may have been “wait” or “no,” but since that is not the desired answer we refuse to recognize it. Along with praying for patience, we should be asking for the ability to see and understand God’s will in all areas of our lives.

Jan 30 – How many times have you been guilty of, as the saying goes, judging a book by its cover? We like to assume some sense of superiority and great knowledge by implying that we understand certain situations. We look at someone else’s response to happenings and make a judgment that we would never have handled it that way. There is a saying that is best illustrated by a Native American prayer that includes the words “grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.” Do you believe this to be the best way to understand the feelings of someone else?

Jan 31 – We have living examples of faith that surpasses all understanding and overcomes all horrors in stories similar to those of Guy Gruters, who spent five years in POW camps in Vietnam. I am sure that you have your own life experiences that you can look back on now and see God’s Hand at work. Think about and share these moments with others. Although we can’t see past the moment, we can stand strong in the knowledge that God can, and He will get us through the current tribulation. God will give the necessary strength at the proper time whether it is to guide us through a situation or so that others may see and feel His light shown through our lives.