Week 34: God of Undeserved Grace

Monday: Genesis 34-35

Tuesday: Mark 7

Wednesday: Psalm 2

Thursday: Romans 6

Friday: Genesis 34-35, Mark 7, Psalm 2, Romans 6

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 34-35

Even in the midst of hardship and suffering, Jacob remembers God as “God who answered me in the day of my distress, and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” Can we? I am reminded as I read that remembering can be an act of worship. God takes Jacob back to the place He first revealed Himself, and so often He takes us back, to remember the places He revealed Himself to us, the places He carried us through, the battles He fought on our behalf. And Jacob names the place where God first spoke to him, the place where God now speaks to him again, Bethel or “House of God.” 

There is suffering for Jacob on the journey and there will be for us. But everywhere we remember Him can be a House of God, too. There are places where we will doubt, where we will wrestle, where we may momentarily lose our way. Can you hear our Father whisper, “Remember? Remember how I sustained you before? Now let me sustain you again.” When we trust in His promises, any place can become a House of God.

What parts of your journey feel unexpectedly hard?

What are you wrestling with?

Can you spend some time today remembering ways God has shown up for you in the past, ways that He has sustained you through hard times before?

How might that give you the courage to face whatever is in front of you today?

Tuesday, Mark 7

Following the rules without relationship with Jesus means nothing. The Pharisees are arrogant, believing that their own righteousness will somehow save them, somehow bring them to God. I fall into this trap too. But the Phoenician woman is full of humility, acknowledging her place before Jesus and thus, Jesus heals her daughter. We will finally be healed, finally be set free from our sin, when we stop striving, quit pretending that we can make ourselves righteous, and instead surrender to Jesus who owes us nothing but gives us everything. It is those who come humbly to Jesus longing only for Him who will receive His blessing.

And I got stuck repeating it over and over to myself, that one thing everyone was saying about Jesus in verse 37. Even as I say it out loud it feels like an exhale, “He has done everything well.” Say it. Say it again. Say it until you believe it, until you know it to be true in the very core of your being because it is. 

“He has done all things well.” Do you feel a weight lifted?

I don’t do all things well. I have not done all things well. The weight of that could swallow me if I spend long enough thinking about it. But our promise and our hope is that Jesus already knows that and He comes and He does indeed do all things perfectly. I can come with my need and my lack, my empty hands and my empty cup and I can trust He will still do all things well.

Are there places where you are carrying the weight or burden of doing things well all by yourself? Work? Parenting? Marriage? Ministry? You won’t always do everything right and that is ok. Allow yourself some space today to feel and rest in the grace of God that makes up for your lack.

Let He has done all things well be your mantra, your prayer for this week. Repeat it to yourself when things seem to be spinning out of control, when things aren’t going as planned, and believe it. Nothing is outside of His reach.

Wednesday, Psalm 2

Blessed are we who take refuge in Him.

The evidence of human rebellion against God is everywhere. Turn on the news, take a quick scroll, you will see death and destruction seemingly around every corner. People are hurt, and hurting others. We have been wronged, and we have done wrong to others.

And yet, amidst all the hurt, we can take refuge in Jesus, the coming King who will destroy  death, mourning, and suffering. This broken world is simply a stepping stone to the Kingdom where we will live with Him forever.

Blessed are we who take refuge in Him.

Thursday, Romans 6

We who were once dead in sin are now raised to new life in Christ! Now, we must die to sin, which for me is not a one time death but a daily, intentional turning of my heart from the things of this world to the things of God.

We will be resurrected! And yet, how often do we forget to live as those who have been given new life in Christ? We will have a resurrection like His! This is an incredible promise. So how do we offer ourselves to God – every part of us, in every thing surrendered and offered up to Him? His grace alone enables us to live like this. Daily, hourly, minute by minute. When we remember our life isn’t just the here and now but is forever, we fix our eyes on Jesus and everything else falls away.

How are you surrendering to God today?

How are you dying to sin today?

How might you live in the gift of God – eternal life – here and now?

Friday Reflections

The world feels heavy this week, friends, and I am finding it hard to type words that have meaning while so many around the globe face unspeakable horrors. My heart has been heavy for those in Afghanistan and Haiti, for my dear friends and neighbors in Uganda who find themselves jobless and unable to attend school for yet another year due to the pandemic, and it has led to a heaviness for others around the world facing oppression, persecution, and disaster.  

The stories of the Bible, even the stories of the Lord’s servants who He loves and favors, are full of sin, pain, suffering, and brokenness. You might feel yours is too, and there is good news for us – Our God runs toward pain and suffering, not away from it. And He comes with undeserved grace and favor for all who put their trust in Him. And so as we sit in the heaviness this week, as we feel the weight of our suffering brothers and sisters around the world and maybe the weight of our own pain or our own sin, I am thankful we are not without hope. We can carry the weight of the sadness, yes, but we also carry a hope that far outweighs this burden. The hope that the same God who spoke with Jacob and met with Him, the God of compassion who healed the daughter of the Phoenician woman, is here with us now and intends to come back, making all things new. 

He didn’t make Jacob, Israel, many nations, because of Jacob’s lack of doubt. Jacob, the God-wrestler, the deceiver by his very name, was chosen by God because God loved him, because he would return to God and put his trust in Him again and again.

“Come let us go…” Jacob says, “I will build an altar to God who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” This is still who God is today, and this is still our reminder – wherever we are, whatever hurt we are facing or weight we are carrying, we can return to the God of grace who answered us before and will be with us again.

Jesus didn’t heal the Phoenician woman’s daughter because she deserved it, but rather because she came to Him humbly and put her trust in Him. He didn’t heal the deaf and mute man because of anything the man did, but rather to display His glory so that the man and those around him might know Jesus does all things well. As Jesus comes to these individuals, and as He comes to us, we are no longer limited by ourselves, the weights that we can carry alone or the battles we can fight solo. His grace is too good, too big to comprehend, and when we let it, it does indeed make our burdens light.

I am often tempted to believe that my good works, my own faithfulness, my well constructed plans will lead me closer to Jesus. We all are. We stumble over our own feet chasing after what we think might get us closer. And yet, our God runs toward us with lavish grace. Our God purposes to use our lives and ordains our steps even in the middle of all our sins and our mistakes.

I think of God who spoke to Jacob at the place where they had met before. I think of Jesus who goes to those who can’t speak well or listen well, can’t get there on their own. We need God to meet us like this. We need Jesus to give us wise words, to make us quick to listen and slow to speak. We need Him to come and right all this suffering and we have hope that He will.

We can’t earn it. We can’t muster it up or work our way there. So we surrender. He knows we can’t and He knows it is too heavy and He comes. He comes into our limitations, our defeat, our real life circumstances with grace that saves us and makes us whole. 

God, You are the God of undeserved grace, and you do all things well. We trust You.

Amen.

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