Monday: Genesis 10
Tuesday: Matthew 10
Wednesday: Ezra 10
Thursday: Acts 10
Friday: Genesis 10, Matthew 10, Ezra 10, Acts 10
Monday, Genesis 10:
In my NIV bible, the title of this chapter of Genesis is “The table of Nations.” I realize after reading that the author probably is using “table” to mean a graph or a chart, but before even reading the passage a beautiful image filled my mind: A table of the Nations, a table filled with many people of many ethnicities and backgrounds and languages, feasting, laughing, and enjoying the blessing of God and each other.
In this chapter, the writer of Genesis gives an account of how Noah’s descendants spread out, multiply, and fill the earth. Though they all originate from one family, these individuals have different skill sets – they are warriors, they are farmers, they are hunters and gatherers, they are builders. They each have their own territories and languages. They will become friends, and they will become enemies. And yet, all who put their trust in the Lord will one day gather again around a table, regardless of differences or family lines, regardless of occupations or alliances. Once again, they, we, will be one family.
God created us to exist in community, even with people who are much different from ourselves. It’s incredible to think that we came from one family, and in Jesus, we are one family again.
How can you set a wider table this week? Who can you include that you normally might not? Who is in need of community that you can reach out to?
Tuesday, Matthew 10:
Jesus’s instruction to His disciples here is clear: Go out with my good news. Heal the sick and raise the dead. Give freely. Take nothing with you. Rely fully on me. The instructions are simple, but the task itself is extraordinary. I wonder if I would have gone.
Jesus doesn’t make it sound easy either; He warns the disciples of immense suffering and persecution ahead, and yet instructs them not to worry. He will provide for their every physical need through the people they encounter, and He will provide even the words that they need to speak through the power of His Spirit.
Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid.
Sometimes, obedience is simple, but it isn’t easy. Jesus doesn’t promise us easy, but He does promise to provide for our every need and bring us into His kingdom.
Is there something you feel the Spirit asking or prompting you to do today, or in the upcoming season? It could be a really big decision where you feel Him nudging you in the direction that is less safe, less appealing, less enjoyable? Or it could be obedience that is a lot more simple, but not easy – loving someone who is hard to love, proclaiming His Good News to an unbelieving friend or neighbor, or being diligent in something you have already committed to Him.
Spend some time thinking about obedience to God in your own life. In areas where it feels difficult ask God to give you the trust and faith to believe that He will supply your every need.
When push comes to shove, will we choose Jesus above all? Will we prioritize Him over all relationships, all situations, all ease, comfort, and safety?
Wednesday, Ezra 10:
What a glorious picture of a community that not only builds together, but now weeps and repents of their sin together! It is appropriate to be this broken over our sin, but usually when I am, the next thing I want to do is run and hide.
“If other people knew just how bad it was,” I tell myself, “they wouldn’t want anything to do with me.”
We see the opposite here in the people of Israel, who weep over their sin and openly confess their unfaithfulness to one another. Together, they promise to turn from their sin and walk in a new way, with their community to hold them accountable. All sin, big or small, is unfaithfulness to our faithful Father. I am asking myself today if I feel this kind of brokenness – “they wept bitterly” – over my own sin?
Often, we think of sin as private. But we read many times throughout Scripture that we are to confess our sins to one another. Who are a few people in your life that you can confess your sins to, knowing that they will still love you and hold you accountable?
Rejoice, beloved! You are forgiven in Jesus and have the opportunity to turn from sin, separating yourself from the world, and walking in a new way with the Holy Spirit!
Thursday, Acts 10:
As we have been going through this study together, it stands out to me how many times God sends one specific person with a specific message to another individual. He is such a personal God! God sees Cornelius and loves him enough to put it on Peter’s heart to go and explain the Gospel of salvation. Sometimes, God answers our questions and counsels us through His Holy Spirit inside us. But often, He uses other believers to answer us, instruct us, advise us, and encourage us.
Do you have a message for someone today? Who can you encourage in Gospel truth?
Do you need advice, instruction, or encouragement? Reach out to another believer whom you trust and seek wisdom.
I love that Jesus chose just a handful of men to be his Apostles. To really do all of life with Him and know Him intimately. He had many other followers, yes, even many other friends. But these twelve were His up-close-and-personal people, the ones who would know Him best so that they could take His story to the rest of the world.
They were a pretty unlikely crew, when you think about it. They came from vastly different backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. They ranged from dirt poor fishermen to a tax collector who was likely wealthy, and hated for it. You had Peter, the boisterous and outspoken fighter, ready for Jesus to begin His revolt against the Romans. You had intellectual Matthew, gentle John, and skeptical Thomas who would later be dubbed “doubting.”
These men didn’t just get to listen to Jesus’s teachings – they were in the thick of it with Him. There is no doubt they would have been highly criticized for leaving their lives and professions to go after Him, and even more so to continue following Him after He was accused of heresy by the religious leaders.
They rejoiced together at miracles, they wept together at the death of their friend Lazarus. They repented together and they prayed together. Together, they weathered the storm. And then, they went out. With nothing, and with almost nothing in common, except the most important thing – they had been with Jesus.
Throughout all of Scripture, and even in my own life, this is what God does – He makes the unlikely His disciples, He makes strangers into friends and friends into family. He gives us each other. To repent together, to weep together, to rejoice together, to weather the storm together, to pray together.
But, also, so that we can be sent out, so that we can share our stories and His story and call others into this community we have found with each other and with Him. We may be unlikely, but we have the best thing in common – we have known Jesus.
My fondest memories center around community – extended family packed into my aunt and uncle’s small Chicago kitchen with music, dancing and laughter filling the room. Teenagers gathered around my parent’s kitchen island eating junk food and laughing far into the night. People from all over the globe, some permanently here and some just passing through, piled on my couch to study the Word after we have put our kids to bed, exhausted from long days, but more in need of each other than sleep. All of our big kids home from college (you read that right!) playing cards and eating popcorn until I basically fall asleep at the dining room table.
We are designed for this.
And I cannot read these Scriptures or recall these memories without imagining that Heaven must be a little like this – people from all different backgrounds and life experiences and statuses and cultures; Jew and Gentile, male and female, all ages, all skin colors, all languages gathered around the throne to worship the one who sustained us all the way – Jesus. Can you see it?
Once we have known a glimpse of community on earth, and once we have imagined the glorious community of Heaven, how can we not call others to come in?
Spend some time thinking of your current community and thanking God for your people today.
Now, imagine Heaven. The Wedding Supper, all of us gathered around Jesus in worship. Who do you want there with you?
Is there an unlikely friend or community member that you can draw into your circle this week?
Is there a person you’d like to share the Gospel with that is outside your comfort zone?
With your picture of Heaven in mind, with the love of Jesus equipping you, reach out. Do not be afraid.