Monday: Genesis 12
Tuesday: Matthew 12
Wednesday: Nehemiah 2
Thursday: Acts 12
Friday: Genesis 12, Matthew 12, Nehemiah 2, Acts 12
Monday, Genesis 12:
It can be so hard when God asks us to go. Maybe it is to physically go somewhere, but often it is just to go in obedience, into the world with His love and His word. It’s likely that Abram lived in the same place for his first 75 years of life. He was comfortable, familiar, and prosperous – and then God asks him to go from his people and his household to the unknown. Abram’s obedience here, and in several future instances, never fails to amaze me. And with God’s instruction to go comes a blessing. Always, his intention is to bless His people.
Do you feel God’s nudge to “go” or take a next step in this season or in a certain area? It could be an actual decision or move you need to make, but it could be a gentle nudging to get involved in something outside your comfort zone or befriend an unlikely neighbor.
Even when we cannot see it right away, there is always blessing in obedience (Abraham’s blessings come many years later!) You can trust Him as He nudges you away from comfortable and familiar into something new.
Tuesday, Matthew 12:
There is a profound truth here, revealed by Jesus, that God’s law is compassionate, intended to serve God’s people, rather than God’s people being servants of the law. Even His command to keep the Sabbath is relational; He does not simply call us to forego entertainment or duty, but to experience a nearness with Him that comes from time in His presence, a deep rest in Him in the midst of our duties. I see myself in the pharisees sometimes, snapping at a child to be quiet in church (as if silence is the goal instead of their connection with God’s word), frustrated when I don’t get to “rest” as I please because my two-year-old would rather play legos, correcting behavior in those around me instead of compassionately modeling the way for change.
Jesus shows us the better way. The way of compassion, the way of love. He is our Sabbath rest, our full contentment.
Are there areas of your life where you are holding the law up higher than the compassion of Christ (a million of my own parenting examples come to mind)?
Ask God for discernment in how to let His laws and commandments be a vessel of His compassion in your life.
Wednesday, Nehemiah 2:
Though Nehemiah is afraid to share his grief with the king, God not only helps him overcome his fear, but uses the king to provide for his needs. Nehemiah’s requests are bold – letters for recommendation and provision, army, and calvary for safety. Nehemiah credits the hand of God for the provision he receives from the king.
Is there a fear you need help overcoming? Spend some time in prayer about it today.
Is there an area of your life where you have received lavish provision? Spend some time praising God for His gracious hand!
Thursday, Acts 12:
I cannot imagine being Peter here – his friends have been persecuted and even killed, and now he, too, sits in prison. But as the believers pray earnestly for him, an angel appears and miraculously releases him from prison! Can you imagine Rhoda’s joy when she heard his voice – so excited that she did not even open the door? When we mourn, weep and pray for others in trial and distress, we also get to rejoice with them in hope!
Is someone you know suffering right now? Spend some time earnestly praying for them! Not only will your own faith grow, but you will get to rejoice with them when your prayers are answered!
Reach out to the person you prayed for to let them know you are with them in their trials and suffering.
About a year ago, I thought God might be prompting us to move to the United States. After much prayer, advice from trusted friends and mentors, and some pretty clear direction from God, we felt peace in our decision to stay here in Uganda, and I cannot even describe to you the relief that washed over me.
While I had truly desired to obey if God was, in fact, moving us toward life and ministry in a different country, I was nothing less than terrified at the idea. Some days, I would sit and let my thoughts spiral with all the unknowns – home, jobs, schools, churches, community. Before I knew it, I would be crying about our move, grieving the friends I was leaving behind, all before we had even made any type of decision yet! I’d be sitting there on my bedroom floor arguing with God about why I couldn’t do it, and then it would occur to me that we weren’t even really sure yet if He was asking us to.
I’d talk myself down (usually with significant help from my husband), but it was a really clear picture in my own life of how quickly our fears and our thought life can get the best of us.
Fear is sneaky.
There are all these logical reasons that I shouldn’t be worried, even if we were planning to move to another country, namely – I’ve done this before. God has sustained me in this before. I know who God is, and I know how He has provided for us in every possible scenario, some much more challenging than an international move. But getting this knowledge from my head to my heart was still such a challenge as I woke up in the middle of the night frantically scrolling through Zillow and googling “most diverse schools in ____”.
Abram seems fearless when God asks this exact thing of him – leave your people, your community, your home and go somewhere new. But as Abram makes his way down to Egypt, the thoughts start to spiral: They’ll see my wife. They’ll want her. They’ll kill me. Long before there is any real, physical threat, Abram has made up his mind what he has to do about it – lie.
And in my own thought life, sometimes long before there is any real, physical threat (and is any physical threat really a threat when my eternity is secure in Christ?), I have made up my mind what I have to do about it – panic. Abram’s lies, and my own worries, imply one thing: that we believe God might not be able to protect us. God might not be able to help us. God might not be in control, not this time. The same man who just received a specific promise from God to make him into a great nation is suddenly afraid for his life. And I myself, all the promises of God before and behind me, proven true again and again let that anxiety sneak in: what if He doesn’t take care of us this time?
The good news for me, for you, is that God keeps His promises to Abram, even in the midst of Abram’s less than exemplary choices. God doesn’t let Abram’s fear thwart His ultimate plan, and He won’t let our fear hinder His good plans for us, either. God didn’t let Nehemiah’s fear stand in the way of His provision to build the wall. God didn’t let Peter’s doubt or worry keep Him in the prison. God didn’t let Israel’s unrepentance keep them from witnessing the resurrection of the Messiah.
His promises are good and true, even when we are having a hard time getting them from our heads to our hearts.
Abraham will become a great nation.
Nehemiah will build the wall.
Peter’s chains will be broken.
And you will make the right choice. You will do the right thing. You will be ok.
Because God’s promises to us will remain true and He will replace all our fears with more faith if we ask Him to.
Are you struggling in fear with anything specific right now?
Think of times in the past when God has protected you or provided for you. How can this give you confidence that this too will be ok?
Spend some time in prayer today, reminding yourself of God’s promises and laying your fears down before Him.