Monday: Genesis 6
Tuesday: Matthew 6
Wednesday: Ezra 6
Thursday: Acts 6
Friday: Genesis 6, Matthew 6, Ezra 6, Acts 6
Monday, Genesis 6: Man is utterly wicked – every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil. I am so quickly reminded of my own sin and depravity. And yet here God speaks to the one who walks with Him. Noah was righteous and blameless, and so God spoke to him, revealed His plans to him, established a covenant with him, and promises to save Noah and his family. Because Noah trusts in God, He does everything God commands.
Let’s recenter our hearts today – trusting Him even in the midst of uncertainty. The God of Noah is the same God today, desiring to speak to and make a covenant with His people.
Tuesday, Matthew 6: So much rich instruction from Jesus today! I am convicted that often my sinful nature desires to be seen by others and loves the accolades of men, but Jesus gives us a better way. When we give, when we serve, when we fast, when we pray, we do it all out of love for the Father, out of a desire to know Him more deeply – oh, how I long for this to be true in my own life. I know from experience that my most intimate times with Jesus have often been in the “secret” places of my life, the places where I feel most unseen by others. I know that as I come to Him in the quiet places, and as I obey Him quickly even without the fanfare or applause of others, I am storing up treasure in Heaven.
I love Jesus’s example of prayer in Matthew 6. Pray this prayer (v 9-15) aloud today. Then spend some time writing out your own prayer, based on His example:
Praise His Name!
Ask for His Kingdom and His will in your life and the world.
Ask Him to provide all that you need, believing that He always does.
Seek forgiveness, and freely offer it to any who come to mind who have wronged you.
Ask Him to guard you from temptation.
He is our treasure!
Wednesday, Ezra 6: What astounding provision! Not only does Darius allow the work to continue, but he decrees that the treasury be emptied to provide whatever is needed for the work of rebuilding God’s house. God again uses an unbelieving King to provide for the needs of His people and make a way for them to finish the work He has assigned to them. We read yesterday in Matthew that our Heavenly Father sees and knows what we need – and it is confirmed here too. I can imagine the great joy as the Jews finally finish and dedicate the temple! They praise and celebrate and sacrifice, for He has given them all that they need to finish their work! And He does this for us, too – He gives us joyful work to do and we can trust that when we are doing the work of the Lord, no matter how big or small, He will provide what we need – the grace, the patience, the sustenance, the courage – to complete the task at hand.
What work has He given you to do in this season? It might be to faithfully raise your children, to diligently provide for your family, to love a specific neighbor or community or neighbors, to live the Gospel more intentionally. He will provide all that you need to finish the work He has given you!
Thursday, Acts 6: So often I get this backward, putting the active ministry of charity and service before my devotion to prayer and His Word. But the disciples seem keenly aware that without devoting ourselves to time with Him, our public ministry will only be a distraction. We desperately need this wisdom that Steven has, and we can possess it if the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us.
Are you, like me, a “doer” before you are a listener?
How can you prioritize time to be with God, to listen to Him and receive His love for you?
None of us can pour from an empty cup. We must first fill up on His Word before we can serve those around us. How can we shift our focus from doing things for God to simply being with God?
“Yea, he’s the real deal. What you see – that’s who he is in real life, too.” A friend of mine is talking about a famous pastor he happens to know well. We have been discussing the very strange space of Christian celebrity, putting ourselves out there for the world to see while trying to keep our intimacy with Jesus alive in the hidden and quiet places, desiring people to glorify God for our life’s work, but not allowing the praise and accolades of others to cause us to swell with pride.
“He’s the real deal.” This sticks with me. This is what I want the people who really know me to say about me behind my back one day. In a public sphere, on social media, I am often known or recognized for my ministry, for the “unusual” choices I have made in life at a young age, for living in a foreign country. On some level, the world teaches us that we will be known for what we do.
But a handful of people in my life know me for who I truly am, and see the parts of my life that others don’t – the laundry piled on the couch for days waiting to be folded, the way I always burn the rice, the times I get impatient with my children when they interrupt me. These people – my kids, my co-workers, my neighbors – they get to know my heart.
And it is my deep desire that if one day they would be asked what I was really like, they would be able to say about me, “She’s the real deal.” Because in so many ways, it is the ordinary moments of our days and our lives that count so much more than the extraordinary choices that we make. Yes, it was important that Noah obeyed God and did the extraordinary, built the ark, but long before that were all the little decisions, ordinary moments of faithfulness, and quiet obedience that allowed Noah to hear from God in the first place.
While the world sees us for what we do (Isn’t the ark the first thing you think of when you think of Noah?), God knows our hearts. He knows who we are. He sees all that others don’t – the thousandth read-aloud or dirty dish or diaper, the longing for restoration of a broken relationship or the patient conversation with the difficult person. He sees us faithfully doing the hard things when no one is looking, faithfully looking to Him and seeking after Him desiring to please Him in the small. He sees us faithfully doing the hard things when no one is looking. When ministry isn’t growing or when family is struggling. He sees the small. He sees in secret. He sees our hearts.
And hopefully, a handful of people close to you get to see and know your heart, too – and this, far more than any public ministry or internet presence, will be the ministry that matters – that the few people close to you, in your home and your life, saw you keep doing the little things, the hard things, long after the public eye was looking. That you sought after God, that you opened your eyes to Him, that you turned to Him for sustenance when things were tough. I doubt that anyone in my close circle would describe me as righteous or blameless, and I think that’s ok. But I hope with all my heart that they would be able to say that I kept going, that I kept seeking Him, that it was my true desire to love as He loves and to know Him more.
Beloved, by His grace alone, we have found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Let’s be the real deal.
Here is a prayer for today:
Lord Jesus, we acknowledge that it is our hidden reach for you that matters so much more that any public ministry. Place a longing in our hearts for time with you, to hear from you and feel your loving gaze upon us. Give us the wisdom of Steven, the faithfulness and trust of Noah, the perseverance of the Jews in Ezra. Give us this day, our daily bread, Oh Lord, everything we need found only in You.