Week 13: God Who Calls Us to His Work

Monday: Genesis 13

Tuesday: Matthew 13

Wednesday: Nehemiah 3

Thursday: Acts 13

Friday: Genesis 13, Matthew 13, Nehemiah 3, Acts 13

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 13:  

After his time in Egypt, Abram comes back to the place the Lord brought him at first, and receives again the promise God had given him at first. Again, God confirms His plan to make Abram a great nation and give him a great land. It will be many years before Abram sees even hints of the fulfillment of God’s promises, but God is gracious to continue to remind him. The faithfulness of God never fails.

Are there promises of God that you struggle to believe or that seem “slow”? Maybe joy seems elusive or things don’t actually seem to be “working for good.” Maybe the struggles of the day-to-day have caused you to lose sight of the promise of eternity?

Take some time to meditate on this promise today from 2 Peter 3: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness, but He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.”

Tuesday, Matthew 13:

To you it has been given to know the secrets of Heaven…” 

How gracious of Jesus to reveal the Kingdom to us! He offers so many parables, stories of things that would have been so relatable to the crowd He was speaking to: regular, everyday examples to illustrate His Kingdom. It is clear that His heart is for us to understand. And yet, so often we are slow to comprehend, or slow to really put into practice the things The Lord has revealed to us.

I ask myself as I read, have I let the seed of His Word in my life grow deep roots or am I letting the trials of life sweep me into despair, letting the cares and struggles of the world choke out my joy? Do I treasure God’s promise of Heaven enough to give it my all, just as the man who buys the field or the merchant who discovers the pearl?

Which of these parables carries the most meaning for you today? Is there one in particular that is speaking to your heart?

How can you live, today, as if you truly believe these words of Jesus?

Is Heaven your greatest treasure? Are you willing to give anything for the Savior who has promised you eternity with Him?

If you have not yet put your full hope in Jesus, if you have not yet believed that the promise of the Kingdom is for you, what is stopping you? I so wish I could sit you down over a cup of coffee, reach out and grab your hand and assure you: this promise is true. Can you reach out to someone today who can answer your questions and share more about our Savior, Jesus?

Wednesday, Nehemiah 3:

            And next to him.

What simple, powerful words, repeated over and over in this chapter as God’s people rebuild the wall. Side by side, they work. Side by side, they build, side by side, they will see God’s purpose accomplished.

This chapter might be one of my favorite pictures of teamwork and community in the whole Bible. Each person faithfully doing the work assigned to him, their small contribution becoming part of the larger whole. We were never meant to do this alone.

Is there something you are trying to tackle alone right now?

How could you reach out and ask a trusted friend or neighbor for help?

Who is working “next” to you? How could you encourage them today?

Thursday, Acts 13: 

Here we see in all its fulfillment the promise God made to Abram in our reading on Monday. His faithfulness to always do what He says He will do is overwhelming. The language in this chapter is full of God’s trustworthiness: “they asked for a king, and God gave them [a king]” (v. 21), “God brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as He promised.” (v.23), “to us has been sent the message of salvation!” (v. 26).

We bring to you the good news that what God has promised to the fathers, this He has fulfilled…”

And as the promises of God are shared and go forth, many rejoice and believe! There is nothing better than the sweet, sweet promise of salvation in Jesus!

Is there someone in your life who does not know these promises of God, or who may need reminding of them?

Reread this passage and be inspired by Paul’s courage and beautiful words to share the Gospel with someone who needs it today.

Friday Reflections:

  It is pretty hard for me to finish a book (though I start many) and it is rare that I remember much of what I read a few weeks or months later. Years ago, though, while caring for a terminally ill friend in our guest room and lamenting that ministry felt “small” inside the four walls of my home, I read this quote in the book Sensing Jesus by Zack Eswine:

“God has given you a handful of people to love. To enter this way of love for a neighbor is to do a great thing that glorifies God.

God will give you a place to inhabit, which means that you get to become attentive to what is there where you are. This means that to dwell knowledgeably and hospitably toward the place God gives you, is to glorify Him. 

God will give you a few things that He intends for you to do in your inhabited place and with those people. To do what God gives you to do is to strengthen the common good and to glorify Him.”

  It isn’t Scripture. But it is the only thing other than Scripture that I have ever accidentally memorized, and it is written all over the third chapter of Nehemiah and the missionary journeys of Paul and his companions.

  My study Bible interrupts Nehemiah 3 with a diagram of the wall in Jerusalem some time in the 400s BC. Included is a detailed drawing of the wall that Nehemiah and his community set out to build. This was certainly an extensive project, and yet we see how the people conquered it: one brick at a time. In some places, the wall needed only to be repaired, and in some places it needed to be rebuilt all together. Some places needed a solid wall and others needed a gate, still others a tower. Groups of workers were identified by their families and sometimes by where they lived.

  They built near their homes, across from their homes, next to each other. And as they each focused on their own small piece, something extraordinary began to happen – the small bricks became this massive wall.

  As we read, we watch each believer or group of believers build their section and dedicate it to the Lord. It reminds me of the body of Christ, the co-laborers He has given me in my own life: co-workers, neighbors, children, friends. We don’t have to do this thing alone, we don’t have to build the wall ourselves. We faithfully do our little bit, we put our hands to the specific work He has given us, and we dedicate it to Him.

And together, we build His Kingdom.

I can picture them all, working next to each other, side by side, covered in the sweat and the dust of the day. Sons and daughters, carpenters and farmers, rulers and priests, none unimportant in the work, and none overlooked by God. Not looking to the right or the left, not jealous of some else’s portion or task, cheering each other on, building it together. This work is not easy, but it is important. This is the work that God has given them to do.

  Imagine for a moment if we lived like this: each putting our hands to the specific work God has given us to do, not envious of our neighbor’s portion or assignment, not longing for something more glamorous, but intent on making our specific work for the Gospel strong and beautiful. Imagine Nehemiah and the rest of the community stepping back together at the end, looking at the finished wall, knowing that their hard work on something small was in fact part of something big. Now imagine us, standing with Jesus, looking at the finished work, His Kingdom, and knowing that He allowed us to play a small part in making it happen. What a glorious day it will be!

Do parts of your “work” or life feel small today? The small things that God has given you to do and the few people He has given you to love are building something much bigger – His Kingdom!

Sometimes the very best way to love our neighbor is to be “next to” them. To simply let them know that they are not in it alone. Who in your life needs to hear this today?

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