January 3
2 Peter 1:5-7
 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
These are not traits you readily find on any prison yard I have been on. We know that to each is given a measure of faith, it is a gift. Yet here we are being asked to add to that faith certain characteristics that will give that faith the power to take action, juice to move… It says we are to do this with diligence. Like a pit bull guarding a junk yard, wide awake, focused, on point. Look at these traits, virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and finally love. This little passage is divided into three parts. The inward looking part, the upward looking part, and the outward looking part. Inwardly we are to prepare ourselves developing virtue, knowledge, self control, and perseverance. We are to man up, and get right. Paul said in 1 Corinhtians 13:11; “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  When we have fulfilled our end of the bargain, when we have been diligent to grow up, we are free to look upward, now more concerned with the things outside ourselves than with our petty needs. We can see God more clearly once the bondage of self has been lifted. The result is the third part, looking outwardly. Brotherly kindness and love. It always comes down to love. Love is the final draft of the story of life. It is the thing we are to learn above all other things. How can we know what love is? Love is always sacrificial, it always costs to give it, and it is the pinnacle of self denial.
“Lord today, please give me the eyes to see where I need to grow and to change to have virtue, knowledge, self control and perseverance. I truly do want to see You above all things. Help me to die to myself and to look upwardly and outwardly, at you and at my fellows rather than myself. Today Lord bring me someone who needs You and equip me to help meet that need, amen.”
January 6
Colossians 3:1-2
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

    When I was walking a prison yard alone with no God except the god of my own proclivities all I had to think about were the cares and concerns of this earth. Was the racial tension on the tier going to break out into a war? Would the wine I had fermenting in the mop closet in the chow hall be discovered? Would they find the syringe ensconced deep in my mattress? When parole day came would I spend my gate money on booze and drugs? Every single one of my concerns was centered in my own perceived needs, wants and desires. I never had an upward or an outward thought unless it was something directly affecting my little world. Then came God…

    This little tiny world, this whisper of time we call life, it is so insignificant in the light of the truth that there actually is an “above”, There is a heaven and Christ the Lord is truly there, seated at the right hand of the Father. He is not pacing back and forth wringing His hands, anxious over the affairs of men. He knows that those He called will hear His voice and respond in the appointed time.
Ephesians 2:10 says:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
God knows those who will be His and if your heart is stirred by the mention of His name, if you feel a longing at the hearing of the truth then rest assured you are soon to be His.

    “Lord Grant us that today we would not be more concerned with the affairs of this life than we are with seeing you seated in heavenly places. Quicken our spirits to hear the beat of your heart over the beat of the heart of this world. Give us a clear line of sight into your version of our lives and help us to seek after that first and foremost, amen.”

January 8
Heb 12:28-29
 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
I had no grace. I looked for none coming to me and I gave none away to others. I lived in a dog eat dog world. “Where is mine?” That was the battle cry. I’d get out of prison all huge and things came easy. I took what I wanted. However before long those prison muscles would atrophy from drugs and booze. I remember finding myself in a dirty gas station bathroom getting ready to shoot up with a syringe that was as worn out as I was only to discover that the dope I had bought with my last twenty bucks was nothing but road tar. Yeah, that fall from champ to chump hurts.
God found me when I was finally at the end of myself and He introduced me to His kingdom principles. The windows of heaven opened up and light flooded my life. With that light came the realization of how close to eternal damnation I had come. You see, it is an either or situation, period. Either we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken or we are given over to the God who is a consuming fire. The choice is ours and ours alone. 1 Timothy 2:4 says; God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. It is we who choose our eternity.
Given the gravity of the decision, understanding from what we have been saved should prompt us to extend to others every grace. “He who has been forgiven much loves much.” So then the question, “Would I want a god who wasn’t a consuming fire? Would I want a god who didn’t care how I conducted my life? Would I want a god who didn’t require sacrifice?” Would I flourish under the reign of a god who said, “Do what thou wilt.” No I would not. I want and need a God who I can serve with reverence and Godly fear. I need a God who is a consuming fire.
“Lord today help me to fully appreciate the chasm between this kingdom which cannot be shaken that you have made available to me and the awesome truth that You are a consuming fire. Hebrews 10:31 tells me It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Oh Lord keep me serving you with reverence and Godly fear that I might please you fully, amen”

January 18
Revelation 2:4-5
 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
When we first get saved, when we first taste of the Lord and see that He is good we are filled with passion and excitement. Everything that happens, we see the Lord’s hand in it. Every person we run into we see as a Holy Spirit appointment. The worship in church moves us deeply and we raise our hands in adoration. The preaching always seems like it was meant particularly for us and we sit on the edge of our seat, snatching every word from the air and gobbling it up. Then for some of us as time passes we seem to begin to count these same things as common. We are not as eager to get to church early, we find ourselves distracted in church and in our private prayer time. When this happens the enemy dances a little jig and rubs his hands together gleefully. 1 Peter 5:8 says, Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He will never rest in his endeavor to tear you away from your salvation.
Christian you must stir yourself up! You must reexamine the truth of your condition apart from God! If you have left your first love Jesus says that He has this against you. What a horrible place to be after having been saved from the wrath of God to have the means of that salvation, the One who paid for that magnificent reconciliation with His own blood, what a terrible thing to have Him hold something against you! He says He will take our lampstand from its place which means that on that glorious day when Jesus comes for the church we will not be included. Is there anything more terrifying than being left behind as our family, the body of Christ is taken to forever be with the Lord? We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the complacency that the devil desires. We must reignite the fires of passion we once had for God, we must fan the flames of righteousness and flee from the ways of the world running headlong into the throne of grace.
“Oh, Jesus I repent! I am returning to my first love, this very instant! Like David says in Psalm 42, As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.  2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Today I will stir myself up in You. I will look for Your hand in everything like I did when I was new. I will walk with You and talk with You as I did when first You saved me, amen.”