Week 14: God in the Middle

Monday: Genesis 14

Tuesday: Matthew 14

Wednesday: Nehemiah 4

Thursday: Acts 14

Friday: Genesis 14, Matthew 14, Nehemiah 4, Acts 14

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 14: 

            War breaks out and Lot is kidnapped along with his family and all of his possessions, but Abram is quick to come to his rescue. Melchizedek’s blessing attributes Abram’s success and victory not to Abram himself but to the power of God. When the king of Sodom offers Abram great wealth (“Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.”), Abram’s answer makes it clear that he is relying completely on God to gain possession of Canaan and to provide for his every need.

            Because Abram completely trusts God who has promised to make him a great nation and give him a great name, he has no need for the riches or bribes of the king of Sodom. 

Though we know and believe in the promises of God, sometimes we are tempted to take matters into our own hands. Is there an area of life where you need your trust in the Lord to be restored?

How can you take a step of faith, like Abram, forsaking the “blessing” of the world and trusting instead in the blessing of God?

Melchizedek can clearly see that Abram’s success is a result of God’s blessing. Is this true in our own lives? How are we giving the glory for our own victories to the Father?

Tuesday, Matthew 14: 

            I have been staring at the screen for a long time now – this chapter has too much goodness to even pick a few small points to write about! But one of my favorite attributes of Jesus, so evident here, is how He takes our meager offerings and makes them into something. He takes a few loaves and fish and creates an abundance, He takes Peters fickle, faltering faith and causes the disciples to worship. And He takes our weak and timid “yes” to Him and creates a life of beauty.

            Another thing that always strikes me about these verses is that Jesus must have known there wouldn’t be much food when He kept the crowd out all day. And surely, He knew that it was going to storm when He sent His disciples on ahead of Him in the boat. I have to believe that He already had in mind what He was going to do. What looks like disaster to the disciples is really just another opportunity for Jesus to show them His faithfulness and power. And what looks most disastrous to us is often another opportunity to trust Him more, to wait and watch for His glory, to reach again for His hand.

Are you in need of God’s provision today? 

Are you facing a “storm” of your own?

Rest in knowing that Jesus already has in mind what He is going to do.

Is there a step of faith that you need to take? Something He’s been nudging you toward but fear has you paralyzed?

God creates beauty out of lives offered fully to Him. Hear the words of Jesus, dear one: “Do not be afraid.”

Wednesday, Nehemiah 4:

            The Israelites are mocked, jeered, ridiculed, persecuted. And yet they don’t pout, they pray. They pray and they continue the work that God has given them to do. “Remember the Lord,” Nehemiah instructs the people, “who is great and awesome.” This is no easy thing. Criticism and ridicule turns us inward and can discourage us from continuing in what the Lord has instructed us. But here, and other places in Scripture we are assured that God will fight for us.

Are you facing opposition in the work God has called you too?

If so, I am so sorry. I have been there.

Let’s spend some time today crying out to the Lord, laying our burdens before Him. It is truly only His approval that matters. Carry on. Do the work that He has called you to. He will strengthen and equip you, and He is well-pleased!

Thursday, Acts 14: 

            Just like others we’ve read about this week, Paul and Barnabas face unthinkable persecution and troubles. And yet, Loving God gives them what they need to persevere. Being misunderstood can feel like one of the greatest “persecutions.” When we are trying to love, trying to bring good, and yet it is misunderstood or misinterpreted, this can be lonely and painful. Let’s take courage from the example of Paul and Barnabas today:

  • They continued sharing the Gospel.
  • They testify of the kindness and goodness of God.
  • They sought out other disciples for mutual encouragement.

Friday Reflections

That season of doubt and darkness I told you about a few weeks ago? Yea, it was a long one.

I wrote, “Lord you are trustworthy” in big sharpie letters on a sticky-note that I stuck on my mirror. In a time when my heart wasn’t really believing it, I needed to read it, to say it aloud to myself in the morning, to let it roll around in my brain while I brushed my teeth at night. I would say it, to myself, and to Him throughout the day, knowing that it was true but willing myself to believe it.

Sometimes, it is hard to see the faithfulness of the Lord in the middle. 

I so often see His sovereignty when I look back – there is no denying all that He has done in and for me, for my family. I so often can fully hope in the trustworthiness of the Lord as I look ahead – so much that He could do, might do, might allow us to participate in. But there in the middle of the hard seasons, the dark seasons, it is easy to forget what He has done before, and it is hard to imagine what He might one day do.

This is why we have His Word. 

It is no exaggeration to say my heart needs His Word just as my body needs bread and water. He uses His Word to remind us of who He has been and who He will be, so that we can know who He is now, even when we can’t quite see what He is up to.

He is our trustworthy God right here in the messy middle. He is trustworthy as Abram waits on Him to fulfill the promise that he will one day inherit the land where he stands (this takes 450 years, by the way). He is trustworthy as Nehemiah and his community members face opposition in the task He has called them to. He is trustworthy in the midst of the devastation of John the Baptist’s death, He is trustworthy when all we have is five loaves and two fish – to take our meager offering and make it enough.

He is trustworthy in the middle of the storm, in the middle of our fears, to reach out and grab our hands.

He was trustworthy when anxiety that kept me up all night through that terrible season threatened to choke the life out of me, when doctors couldn’t give us the answers we needed, when I thought for a moment that maybe we had lost her. He was trustworthy even as we cried out to Him and our prayers seemed to go unanswered, at least for a season. He is trustworthy now, as you face whatever challenges this day holds, as the world seems to spin out of control, a little more uncertain each day.

And if for one moment you think that He isn’t, let these Scriptures speak to your heart again.

Eventually another sticky-note made it up on the mirror (I have a thing for sticky-notes) quoting Lamentations 3:21-24:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love for us, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! Therefore I will say to myself, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.”

In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah calls to mind his hope in the Lord in the middle of His lament. His circumstances have not changed. Jerusalem lies in ruins, God’s people have still turned from Him and Jeremiah is still suffering immensely. Nothing at all has changed in Jeremiah’s situation except the posture of his heart. Just earlier in the same passage, he writes, “I am a man who has seen affliction… (God) has made me walk in darkness… and left me without help. I remember my affliction, wandering and bitterness… YET.”

Yet. He remembers who God is. Like Peter, he reaches out to the Lord.

YET. This is our word for the middle season. This is our word for the season when we are waiting on His promises, when we face opposition, when we don’t have enough, when we are afraid. This is our word for the middle of the trials, the middle of our ministry, the middle of our family crisis, the middle of our mundane day-to-day routine, the middle of a global pandemic – Yet, we remember our trustworthy God and we can hope. Yet, we turn to His Word and we see His faithfulness. And always, He is not done, not yet.

It has been said that God is too good to be unkind and too wise to be mistaken. And when you cannot trace His hand, you can trust His heart.

Friends, this might all look like a bit of a mess, yet we can trust His heart.

Are you in a “middle” season?

What parts of life aren’t going as planned?

Close your eyes and imagine yourself like Peter, reaching out for His hand. He is near. He is faithful. We have hope.

Jeremiah changes his heart posture to worship God long before his circumstances change. Can you worship God today even in the middle?

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