Monday: Genesis 30
Tuesday: Mark 3
Wednesday: Esther 7
Thursday: Romans 2
Friday: Genesis 30, Mark 3, Esther 7, Romans 2
Monday, Genesis 30
God blessed Jacob with abundance – both in children and in flocks – just as He did Abraham and Isaac before him, as He promised He would do. It is clear to us as we study Jacob’s story that this blessing isn’t because of anything Jacob has or hasn’t done. It is completely unmerited favor! God promised, and so God delivered. How encouraged we should be by this message!
This is what we have in Christ, too – completely unmerited favor. He chose us, not because of anything we did or didn’t do but simply because He loves us and wants to be with us. It is astounding. What does this favor look like? Ephesians 1:3 says our Father God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. In Jesus, we have been given the Holy Spirit and all its fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – and a promised eternity. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Spend some time meditating on the following verses:
- Ephesians 1:3-4
- 1 Peter 2:9
- Isaiah 43:1
- John 15:16
- Romans 8:28
- Titus 3:3-6
Pick one to memorize as your anthem and reminder this week that you are chosen and cherished by a loving Father.
Tuesday, Mark 3
The tradition and legalism of the Pharisees misses the point of God’s law completely. God gave His people the law as a guideline for how to love Him first and to love others, so certainly doing good for others would be permissible on the Sabbath. I am often so keenly aware of my desire to “do things right,” but this text begs the question: does my desire for “correctness” get in the way of me freely loving God and my neighbor as I should?
Everything Jesus does seems odd to the Pharisees – the healing on the Sabbath, the calling of these misfit disciples, the forgiveness of sins and casting out of demons. Even the way Jesus defines family is different than culture or tradition would prescribe. …But He is the ultimate example of love – healing, gathering, drawing others to Himself, and He calls us to “go and do likewise.”
Is there a desire for legalism or correctness in your life that is prohibiting you from loving God or your neighbor well? If so, this is not from Him. God gives no instruction that would keep us from seeking His glory and others’ good.
If something comes to mind (hint: mine are often parenting related, or just plain selfish) spend some time in confession today asking God to make your desire for Him and others greater than your desire to be right!
How does Jesus’s definition of family challenge your own thinking and the way you draw others in?
Wednesday, Esther 7
Esther exposes injustice and cruelty. This is often hard and can come at a high price, but just as Jesus calls us to an upside-down, extravagant love, He calls us to stand up for righteousness. We can rest assured that in the end, evil will not prevail and comes to the ruin it deserves. We can do our part to expose injustice and cruelty, to stand up for what is right and just, knowing that we fight from a place of Jesus who will ultimately overcome all injustice, wipe away every tear, and restore all that is broken.
Is there an injustice taking place in your circle of influence that God may be calling you to speak up against?
Rest assured that we fight from a place of ultimate victory in Him!
Read Isaiah 61. Praise God for being a God who fights for the brokenhearted and persecuted, who gives beauty for ashes and who will restore all things in His perfect timing!
Thursday, Romans 2
It is striking to me how much this passage written by Paul teaches such a similar lesson to the story yesterday in Esther. Certainly, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! I love finding correlations of His character throughout all books of the Bible – even those written thousands of years apart!
Haman wants to pass judgement on Mordecai and the Jews, but is judged instead. This is a sober warning, but also a great encouragement to be merciful just as our Father in Heaven is merciful! It is indeed His kindness that leads my stubborn heart to repentance. It is indeed the promise of eternity, His unfathomable goodness to me that gives me the strength to persist in doing good.
How has His kindness and mercy led you to repentance this week?
Where is God calling you to persist in doing good, even in the hard? Take courage! He will give us eternal life through His Son!
It is so easy to read these Gospels as familiar passages that I have been taught since childhood. But as I read Mark this week, I tried to truly imagine the scene. To be honest? It sounds like mass chaos. Despite opposition, Jesus has become so well known in all of Israel that there is hardly a place He goes where He isn’t recognized. Everywhere, it seems, He is surrounded by throngs of people, sick, desperate, needy, demon possessed, clamoring just to get close to Him.
I get claustrophobic just thinking about it. I imagine the children’s Bible from my youth, the happy crowd, nicely spaced out and sitting all around Jesus as He teaches, but when we look at Mark 3, that isn’t really what is depicted. He told His disciples to get a boat ready because of the crowd, lest they crush Him. For He had healed so many that all who had diseases pressed around Him to touch Him.
This is a picture of a desperate people. A broken people. A sick and unclean people. A people gathered by Jesus to Himself.
This desperation and chaos that overwhelms me just to think about is the people that Jesus loves. The people that He would die for. We read further and it says that Jesus went up on the mountainside and “called to Him those whom He desired.” These would be the twelve men that Jesus did the rest of His life and ministry closely with, day in and day out. And Jesus isn’t settling for the best He can find, He is intentionally choosing those who will be His people, the ones whom He wants. And you know who they are?
The tax collector.
Some of these men were outcasts, some of them poor, one of them likely a political anarchist, one of them taking advantage of his own people for personal gain. Just like those pressing around Jesus threatening to crush Him, these men too were desperate, broken. These men would follow Him, but they would also doubt Him, betray Him, deny Him, and cause Him grief. Yet Jesus called to Himself those who He desired. The disciples, you, me.
God chose Jacob to carry His name and His lineage despite his doubt, his wrestling, his faltering faith. God chose Esther to stand up for her people and speak out against injustice despite her age or her gender. He chose these disciples regardless of their lowly background or the fact that many of them were probably hated by their peers or the fact that they would cause Him all kinds of trouble. He chose Paul, the self-proclaimed worst of sinners, a pharisee and a murderer.
And if you profess to know Him, dear one, He chose you, too.
He didn’t choose us because of any good that we did or could do, but because of His great love and mercy. It is indeed His own kindness that leads to repentance and His love that draws us to love Him.
To you who are broken and in need of healing, to you who have sinned and need rescue, to you who are weary and in need of rest, Jesus opens wide His arms. To you who struggle with doubt, to you who are desperate, to you who feel stuck, Jesus beckons. And if you are feeling insignificant, unimportant, or cast out, I invite you today to feel His loving gaze upon you. He calls to Himself the ones He desires. He knows your name. He knows your shortcomings and your failures. He desires you, His Beloved, to come rest in the loving arms of the God who saved us, who chose us, who loves us, and who is forever calling us home.
Is there a sin, a hurt, or a weariness that is keeping you from running to Jesus? It is true that we are unworthy of His love, but He opens His arms to us anyway. Let’s lay down our burdens at the foot of the cross and run into the open arms of our loving Savior.
Is there someone that you know who is weary, broken, outcast, struggling who you can draw into your circle or your home in this season? Jesus redefines family and community, and we can, too.