Monday: Genesis 20
Tuesday: Matthew 20
Wednesday: Nehemiah 10
Thursday: Acts 20
Friday: Genesis 20, Matthew 20, Nehemiah 10, Acts 20
Monday, Genesis 20:
God can use even seemingly strange and unlikely circumstances to bring glory to Himself and blessings to His people. God speaks to those who listen attentively to His voice, and He protects those who are seeking Him.
God knew the intention of Abimelech’s heart and so He kept him from sinning.
Do you ever get stuck in a place of guilt over sin you’ve already repented of? I know I do. While repentance is a good and necessary part of our relationship with the Lord, we are not called to live in guilt and sorrow after we have confessed and repented. In Christ, we are forgiven and set free!
If there is past sin that is still haunting you, give it to the Lord today. Rest in knowing that He sees the intention of your heart and has forgiven you in Jesus!
Tuesday, Matthew 20:
Again His grace, covering us all, those who have been faithful for their whole lives are welcomed into the Kingdom right alongside those who turned at the very last moment. What mercy!
I am struck by the picture of the landowner, going out into the streets and calling all he sees to come do the work. Clearly, the landowner represents The Lord in this parable, but I want my life to be spent this way also – calling others to come into the Kingdom, calling others to come and see what God has done for us, calling others to come and put their hands to the work that has eternal reward.
In what ways are you spending your life calling others into the Kingdom?
If that question is hard to answer, in what ways could you start calling others into the Kingdom of God?
Ask God to open your eyes, as He did for the blind men, to opportunities around you to invite others into His Kingdom.
Wednesday, Nehemiah 10:
This long list of names gives us a pretty clear idea that the entire community was wholeheartedly committed to this covenant with God. The whole community, priests, Levites, leaders and ordinary lay people essentially promise to keep the entire Mosaic law, and they are very serious about it. Even as I read this I thought, “these are a lot of rules to keep… there is no way I could keep them.” And, of course, if we know any of Israel’s history, we know they don’t keep them, they can’t keep them, at least not perfectly. It is impossible to read this and not be astounded by the grace of Jesus who redeems us, not just even though we can’t keep the rules, but because we can’t keep the rules. Because no matter how hard I try, though I might commit to it with all my might or even sign my name to prove my dedication, I cannot perfectly follow the law and I deserve death because of it… but Jesus. Jesus takes the punishment I deserve, you deserve, even these signatories deserve on Himself and gives us life instead!
Rejoice today in the free gift of Jesus!
Another takeaway for me in this passage was that the sheer quantity of names here (84, over half that are not mentioned anywhere else) highlights something else we have seen often in Ezra and Nehemiah – it is not just the great leaders, but the ordinary people as well, who are essential to accomplishing the will of God and a part of His redemptive plan.
The things you have to do today may feel small, especially if you are tempted to compare your life with someone else’s life or ministry, but YOU are essential, vital in accomplishing the purposes of God!
Thursday, Acts 20:
Paul, Luke, and their companions are hopping all over the globe it seems, preaching the Gospel, performing miracles, and even raising the dead! Though this life came with much hardship, I admire how little attachment they must have had to their physical possessions and earthly homes to be able to pick up and travel about as they did. In fact, verse 24 confirms this as he says to the Ephesians, “I do not account my life of any value… if only I may… testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Oh, how I long to be able to truly say this – that my life is of no worth except to testify to the Gospel! Paul emphasizes to the Ephesians the word of His grace. His word gives us the hope and encouragement we need to live like this – less and less attachment to earthly things and more and more longing for heaven. His word gives us the assurance we need to be able to say as certainly as Paul, that it’s not our lives or our things that are precious, but the Gospel of Christ and our secure eternity with Him.
What earthly attachments might be standing in the way of us giving our “all” for the sake of the Gospel?
Can you, like Paul, say that your life is of no value in light of sharing Jesus with those around you? (I know that’s a loaded question! I, too, am not always sure I can confidently say this, but it certainly is a good goal to have at the forefront!)
Who can you share the Gospel with today? Who needs to hear the testimony of God’s amazing grace?
I got a message from someone recently: How do you know what God wants you to do next or where He wants you to go? How do you hear His voice?
I thought about it for a while. I wanted to give a really profound answer, something prescriptive with specific steps that might help this person discern the will of God. But I also wanted to give a really truthful answer, and as I thought about it the truth was this: Sometimes I just know. And sometimes, I don’t know.
And I really, really don’t like not knowing.
Sometimes God’s voice is loud and clear and we know exactly what to choose or where to walk. There is a clear right and a clear wrong and we will ourselves to choose the right way. But a lot more often, at least in my own life, there are two choices in front of us which seem equally good and we don’t necessarily hear the voice of God calling us into one or the other.
And while I don’t really like the not-knowing, while I still make the pros and cons list and still beg God to drop some kind of really obvious sign or speak audibly about what should come next, I am learning that the not-knowing seasons can become fertile soil for my heart to grow in trusting Him. And that doesn’t always happen in the seasons where I know (or really just think I know) what comes next.
So yes, we do the things we know to do – we spend time with Him in the quiet and we read and internalize His word. So much of His purpose for our lives is found clearly there – in the quiet with Him and in His word – our purpose to love Him and love others and live lives that point others to the Gospel. We ask trusted friends and mentors to pray with us, and to speak wisdom into our decisions. We even make the pro and cons lists. But sometimes, we still don’t know, and that is ok. Sometimes we have to wait. And sometimes we have to make the next choice even while we don’t know yet and trust that if our heart’s desire is to honor God, He is going to use whatever we choose.
Just as with Abimelech, as we make our choices with a clear conscience and clean hands, God will guide us into what is next. He will not let us make a “wrong” choice if both options can be used to glorify Him. He will protect us and keep us as we choose our next steps with Him in mind.
By His amazing grace, His people are essential to accomplishing His redemptive plan.
And for our big God, just the desire to please Him, to follow Him, to make the next right choice is enough for Him to use to accomplish His purpose, His redemption, the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
When the blind men call out to Jesus, He asks them point blank: what do you want me to do for you? I think of this question as I look at these crossroad places of my life, where I can’t quite discern what the next right step might be, where there doesn’t seem like a “better” option. When I honestly ask myself this question, I know there is only one thing I truly, deeply want: more of Him. In Ephesians, Paul asks God to give the Ephesians “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better”
Not so that they chose the right thing. Yes, our choices are important and I don’t want to discredit that, but maybe when we are asking God to show us which choice to make next, He wants us to choose the one where we know Him better, where we spend our lives for others to know Him better, where we fall more deeply in love with Him.
Jesus opens the eyes of the blind men and they see and they follow Him. He opens our eyes, too, to see that He is all that we need, the hope of eternity. He sees the intentions of our hearts and He will continue to use us as we keep our eyes focused on Him.
Often our next right choice is just to seek Him, to trust Him in the waiting and the not-knowing, and He will guide us into what is next.