Monday: Genesis 16
Tuesday: Matthew 16
Wednesday: Nehemiah 6
Thursday: Acts 16
Friday: Genesis 16, Matthew 16, Nehemiah 6, Acts 16
Monday, Genesis 16:
Sarai let’s her impatience get the best of her, causing her to doubt the promises God has clearly spoken. I know I have been there. How often do I feel that I need to “help God out,” grasping at control? How often do I just plain say (or imply with my actions), “No, God, don’t do it like this…” or “Can’t you just do it this way?”
But when Sarai and Abram take matters into their own hands, jealousy, hatred, and anger creep into their family.
Hagar runs away from her hardship, but then comes the voice of the Lord encouraging her to go back, to persevere. It will be hard, but He promises many blessings on her family if she will stick it out. Don’t run from the suffering; God has a plan.
And Hagar testifies – I have seen the God who sees me.
Is there a situation in your life right now that you are trying too hard to control?
Are there areas of your life where you feel impatient with God?
Here is your encouragement to persevere – God sees and cares for you.
Tuesday, Matthew 16:
“You are the Christ, Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
As I sit with these words, I realize how much my days would shift if I would simply put this acknowledgement before all other tasks and worries of the day. No matter what I face, no matter what this day holds, He is the Christ, Messiah, my God come in the flesh to save me. It is the best of all miracles! And then, as if that is not enough, He chooses Peter to carry forth His message. He chooses you, me, us to participate in sharing His good news with the world. Clearly Peter is not without fault – he is rebuked by Jesus in the next paragraph. How amazing that the God of the universe would use us, flaws and all.
Spend some time at the beginning of your day today, tomorrow, or throughout the week meditating on what it truly means to worship Christ as Messiah – the Anointed One of God who came to save us.
Be filled with awe and thanksgiving that God has prepared good works for us, in spite of our shortcomings.
Rejoice! He has given us the keys to the Kingdom!
Wednesday, Nehemiah 6:
Nehemiah is misunderstood and wrongly accused, tempted and opposed by his enemies and yet in the middle of all of this – victory! – the wall is completed. Even in the midst of disaster and hardship, God is accomplishing His purposes, for our lives and for His Kingdom.
Are you facing opposition or temptation of any kind?
What helps you to stand firm in His Word and the work He has called you to?
Pray today for perseverance to stand firm in the midst of trials.
Thursday, Acts 16:
How beautiful is this picture of Paul, Luke, and Silas’s attentiveness to the Spirit? As they move through all the different places God so clearly reveals to them, I am encouraged by the way they are actively looking for the next person they can encourage with the Gospel. Timothy, Lydia, even the jailer, all are invited into the family of God and the encouragement of Jesus. And as they live in this way, as they look for Jesus and His people everywhere, the Lord is faithful to answer them! They hear His voice, they see Him work, both in miraculous earthquakes and in the hearts of people. When we are looking for Him, we will see Him working! When we call out to Him for direction, He will answer us!
Are we living in this way? Actively looking for the next person we can encourage in the faith?
In what ways could you make disciples of the people God has placed right in front of you?
Spend some time today looking for evidence of God working in your everyday life, and take time to thank Him for the ways that you see Him.
Our best friends moved away last year right at the beginning of our nationwide lockdown. We thought they’d be right back for a visit, but we haven’t seen them since. Since then, we have had more loved ones move away than we have ever experienced before – our mentors, our closest neighbors, our own adult children. Again and again, I have felt left behind.
Now let me be clear, I am not trying to make a direct comparison here of my “hardship” to Sarah’s barrenness, Nehemiah’s persecution, or Paul’s imprisonment. But as I examine my heart posture, and the heart postures of the people in our Scriptures this week, I see so clearly who I want to be and who I do not want to be in trials.
Admittedly, most recently I have identified with Sarai. As I lay awake into the night I wonder… maybe we should move. Maybe there is something bigger, better, grander out there for us than what we already have here. I can feel the discontentment start to set in as I dream of the next place, the next home, the next ministry.
Just like Sarai, I can begin to believe that maybe I could devise a better plan. Just like Sarai, I begin to think that maybe there is something bigger, better, grander than what God has planned, what He has promised. Because if it was up to me, we wouldn’t have to wait. But if we didn’t have to wait, I shudder to think what I might never learn.
In contrast, I see the faith and trust of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. When they are “kept by the Spirit” from going where they want to go, they redirect and keep preaching the Gospel. When the Spirit of Jesus leads them out of their way to Macedonia, they obey. No amount of accusations, beatings or imprisonments will deter them. They persevere in the plan and the promise that God reveals to them, trusting that this is the big, grand thing He has called them to.
And in the middle of the waiting, when things are not going as planned, after being beaten, flogged, shackled in the dark Paul and Silas don’t wonder if there is something better out there. Paul and Silas don’t settle into contentment and dream wistfully of all they would rather be doing. Paul and Silas sing praise to God.
Because wherever we are, that is exactly where God intends for us to be. And whatever we are waiting on, God has something that He longs to teach us in the waiting. And no matter what our trial or circumstance, no matter how beaten down or cast out we feel, God is always worthy of our prayers and our praise.
In the midst of persecution, temptation and opposition, Nehemiah stays the course. In the midst of ridicule and the call to sacrifice, the disciples stay the course. And in the midst of intense hardship and pain, Paul and Silas not only stay the course but they physically stay. They don’t race out of the prison cell the moment their chains are broken off their feet. They stay and share the Good News of Jesus with the jailer, the very man who bound them. They baptize him, and his family. They share a meal in his home. They disciple him in the simple, beautiful ministry of staying where they are, exactly where the Lord has put them.
This is who I want to be in my trials, the big ones and the small ones. As I lay awake at night wondering what is next, what our future holds without so much of our beloved community, rather than jumping ahead of God and trying to get things done in my own way or on my own terms, I want to be one who stays the course.
And I want to be one who chooses to praise Him, no matter what, knowing that whatever He brings will be the very best.
Who do you identify with most from our scriptures this week?
In what areas are you racing ahead of God and making your own plans like Sarah?
Is there something in life that you are called to keep working on, no matter how challenging, like Nehemiah?
Are you questioning, like Peter, one minute fully declaring Jesus your Lord and the next minute consumed with human concerns?
Let’s be like Paul and Silas, praising and worshipping our worthy God, even in the midst of our trials and our chains. Let’s be the people who stay the course, full committed to this life that He has called us to.