Week 43: God Who Took Our Place

Monday: Genesis 44

Tuesday: Mark 15 and 16

Wednesday: Psalm 11

Thursday: Romans 15

Friday: Genesis 44, Mark 16, Psalm 11, Romans 15

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 44

Judah, once involved in his brother’s demise and the deception of his own father, now rises up to intercede for his youngest brother and his entire family’s well being. “Take me instead,” he pleads. Joseph gets to see the compassion of Judah, and we are reminded that this is what the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ, has done for us. Judah says to Joseph, “I shall bear the blame.” And this is what Jesus says to the Father on our behalf, “I shall bear the blame.”

Joseph’s heart is softened toward his brothers as he witnesses this transformation in Judah. And I pray that when others have wronged us, our hearts might still be softened toward them because of Jesus who bore the blame for us.

Who in your life do you need to offer forgiveness to?

Forgiveness is hard and it takes time, give yourself lots of grace as you walk this path. Focus on Jesus, who forgave us of all sin, who took our place and bore the blame. Allow His grace to enable you to forgive others deeply, from the heart.

Tuesday, Mark 15 and 16

I know we read Mark 15 last week, too, but I pray this scene, this story, this reality would never lose its power. I pray that we would never read these passages without complete and total awe of our Lord Jesus and what He has done for us.

Judah begs Joseph to take him prisoner instead of Benjamin. And Jesus willingly submits to the Father, willingly takes our place. “Save yourself and come down!” The passersby taunted Him – and He could have. It wasn’t the nails that held Him there, it wasn’t the Jewish law that bound Him. It was His great love for us – for you and me! – that kept Him on the cross, took Him to the tomb, and carried Him up out of the grave. It is almost unfathomable, this kind of love, this kind of sacrifice!

“Go tell His disciples that He is going before you,” the angel said to the women at the tomb. “There you will see Him, just as He told you.” Can we hear this message today, too? Can we go into the world to tell everyone He has gone before us? And one day we will see Him, face to face, just as He has promised us?

Sit for a while in this good news, this amazing love of Jesus.

Who in your life needs to hear the message today that Christ is going before us and coming back for us?

Wednesday, Psalm 11

David, hunted and persecuted, hiding in caves and running from enemies bent on his destruction knows there is only one true refuge – the Lord Himself. The upright will behold His face and we are the upright only because of Him. Jesus took our place, giving us His own righteousness, so that we, too, may one day behold the face of God in whom we now take refuge.

What does it look like to take refuge in Him today?

Thursday, Roman 15

I’ve read through Acts and Romans over and over again as our own family has been in a season of transition, and keep wondering how Paul does it – this constant picking up and leaving everything and everyone to go to the next place. I keep getting text messages and calls from the church we have left behind in this season – still meeting in our home, still worshipping in our yard, still having worship practices and Bible studies in our living room.

Our community, and Paul’s words here in Romans have given me a little glimpse into what keeps him going – he loves the church. He loves the body of believers. He is encouraged and spurred on by them even as he seeks to encourage them and spur them on.

I still cry most Sunday mornings. I long for my people. But I resonate with Paul’s words – I am so encouraged because they are full of goodness. They just keep on being the church, just keep on loving each other. We long to be there, but for now, we are needed elsewhere and it gives us great joy to leave a body of believers behind who will keep loving our community and keep sharing His Word even in our absence. And their love compels me to keep boldly loving the people in front of me in this new place, in this new season.

Are there people in your life, near or far, who have spurred you on with the love of Christ? Can you reach out to them with encouragement today?

Praise God for His body! Let us strive to encourage, instruct, and refresh one another.

Friday Reflections

I find different parts of myself all over the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, and I wonder if you do, too?

“Stay awake,” Jesus urges the disciples, only to find them sleeping. How badly I want to stay awake to all that God is doing, and how easily I find myself totally distracted, unable to focus, unable to stay awake to Him in the moment in front of me. Then there is Peter, completely certain that he will go to his grave before he denies Jesus, only to claim not to know Him three times a few hours later. How often do I deny Jesus with my actions, all the while praising Him with my lips?

There is the crowd, that same crowd that praised Jesus and laid their cloaks out before Him just days before, now shouting for Him to be killed and a murder released from prison instead. There is Pilate, deeply convicted that this man ought not to die, and yet pressured and ultimately swayed by the crown, the favor of my far more important to him than the right choice.

I see myself clearest in Barabbas – guilty, but released from judgment as Jesus, the righteous one, takes the punishment He deserves.

And in stark contrast to all of these characters, there is Jesus. Silent as he stands accused and mocked and ridiculed, trusting the Father alone for His vindication. He has done nothing, and yet, He does not defend Himself.

We can be the other characters in the story, too – Simon, who bends down to take up the cross of the Savior, knowing a pain that draws us near to Him will be a pain that is worth it. Joseph, who gives the very best of what he has to his Savior. The women who are filled with compassion and come in adoration to anoint the body of their Beloved Friend.

Because of Jesus, we can trust God alone to vindicate us in the midst of false accusation, misunderstanding, or slander. Because of Jesus, we can bend down and take up our own cross. We can face any suffering with joy knowing a suffering that brings us near to our Savior will be for our benefit, and any light and momentary suffering here will lead to an eternal weight of glory that we cannot yet perceive. (2 Corinthians 4:17) Because of Jesus, we don’t need to justify ourselves, we don’t need to achieve some external, earned righteousness. 

Because God gave us Jesus, we can trust that He will indeed defend us, sustain us, and give us everything we need (Romans 8:32). We can trust that He always has our best in mind.

Because of Jesus, the curtain is torn in two and we have direct access to Holy God who will be with us in all our trials and carry us through all our suffering.

And we have a choice – will we be like the sleeping disciples, distracted and unable to stay alert to all God is doing? Will we be like Peter, acclaiming Christ one minute but denying Him the next? Or will be like Simon, bent down and bearing the weight of a hardship that puts us right up next to Jesus? Like Joseph, giving Jesus our very best. Like the women, running to Him in total adoration.

Week 42: God Who Speaks to Us

After a really full week of work, I decided to use my writing time this week to snuggle my babies instead. The good news for us is I fully believe God’s Spirit-breathed Word speaks for itself. Please read along with me this week, and know that I am praying that God would illuminate His word to us and speak to our hearts!

Monday: Genesis 43

Tuesday: Mark 15

Wednesday: Psalm 10

Thursday: Romans 14

Friday: Genesis 43, Mark 15, Psalm 10, Romans 14

Please hop over to my Instagram @katieinuganda_ on Friday and leave a comment on what He is teaching you this week so that we can reflect on His word together.

Week 41: God Who Shows Us a Better Way

Monday: Genesis 42

Tuesday: Mark 14

Wednesday: Psalm 9

Thursday: Romans 13

Friday: Genesis 42, Mark 14, Psalm 9, Romans 13

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 42

Joseph’s mercy toward his brothers is just a small glimpse of God’s mercy toward us. We are like these brothers who hated, mocked, and ultimately betrayed their brother, and yet Joseph’s love for them is so evident as he repeatedly turns to weep. And as the story continues, I notice something about these brothers – they seem to be softening, changing.

Those who once sold their younger brother into slavery now promise to protect Benjamin, even pledging their own lives. They are humbled. In their humility, their hearts are softened, they are given compassion for those other than themselves.

This is what the mercy of our Father in Jesus should do to our own hearts. We who once betrayed and belittled now sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our neighbor. We who once were arrogant are now humbled before the cross. We who once thought only of ourselves are not filled with compassion. Because we have received His love and mercy, we now extend love and mercy to those around us.

In what ways has the mercy of God softened you?

How can you extend His love and mercy toward someone in your life today?

Tuesday, Mark 14

I pray not one of us would be able to read this passage without complete and total awe of the Savior who gave His life for us, who took the punishment we deserved, who allowed His body to be broken and His blood to be spilled so that we could have a relationship with the Father.

Our only response to this extravagant love must be like Mary of Bethany’s, to give Him everything we have, our lives as an offering laid at His feet.

Spend some time today in awe of the Savior and His finished work on the cross. He did it for you.

No matter your circumstance or current hardship, what Jesus did for us on the cross should cause us to trust Him now. 

What can you trust Him with today?

Wednesday, Psalm 9

We rest secure in God’s righteous rule, in His kindness and mercy. Let all who love Him sing His praises!

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10

Commit this verse to memory this week. He is our stronghold and worthy of our praise!

Who can you tell today of the wonderful work of Christ?

Thursday, Romans 13

We can walk in the kind of love Paul describes because we have the kind of hope he describes in verse 11 – salvation is near. Our God is coming back to right and restore all things! This compels us to love our neighbors and even our enemies, to pray for those who hurt us, to honor our governing bodies and authorities. We put on Christ, we put off all else. It is a high calling, but we rest in the great assurance that because of His work on the cross we will one day live with Him forever!

Can you pray today for someone who is hard to love?

Can you pray today for someone in authority, even if you don’t personally agree with them?

Friday Reflections

Owe no one anything except love. Joseph’s brothers might have deserved imprisonment or death. We, in our sin, certainly deserve death. But our God gives mercy.

Once we have fully accepted this, we can live in extravagant love of our neighbor, showing the mercy of Christ to those we encounter in our days. We must love each other with a love so otherworldly that people take notice. We must forgive each other the way Joseph forgave brothers who caused him a whole lifetime of misery. We must reach out our hands and break bread even with those who are different from us.

Let us remain watchful and not asleep to what the Lord is doing around us. Let us affirm and never deny that we are people who have known the Lord, and it is our desire to share His love and mercy. Let us, like the woman who anointed Him, pour out all we have for Jesus. He alone is worthy.

            God shows us a better way.

He gives Joseph the strength to endure much hardship and never turn away from the One true God. He gives him the grace to extend forgiveness to his brothers, and we watch as their hearts begin to soften. He gives Mary the trust she needs to pour her entire life savings out before her Savior.

Paul encourages us to embrace a love that can only come from Christ – a love that honors others above self and fulfils the law.

And as the very ultimate example, Jesus, denies His own desire – that the cup would pass from Him – and submits in joyful obedience to the Father, to save us.

I pray that we might walk in this kind of love today!

Week 40: God Who Will Make Us Forget Our Troubles

Monday: Genesis 41

Tuesday: Mark 13

Wednesday: Psalm 8

Thursday: Romans 12

Friday: Genesis 41, Mark 13, Psalm 8, Romans 12

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 41

Years after being forgotten, Joseph finally has his moment. He doesn’t waste our waiting, friends. And once again, God takes hardship and uses it for good. Not just for Joseph’s good but for the good of a whole nation, and then many nations.

Joseph looks at his newly born children and names them what he knows to be true: “God made me forget my trouble” and “God made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” Oh, could we believe it? That one day in Heaven we will gaze at His face and forget all our trouble, that all of our suffering is achieving some eternal glory that we cannot yet see (2 Corinthians 4:17)?

The waiting isn’t wasted. The hardship isn’t for nothing. The presence of Jesus will outweigh any trouble.

Think of a time that God has used a season of waiting to teach you something or draw you closer to Himself.

What are you waiting on today? Can you trust Him to draw you close while you wait?

Think of a time God has used your hardship or suffering to encourage, bless, or teach others. I can testify that some of my greatest ministry has come after I have suffered in a particular way in which someone else will later need encouragement. He will make us fruitful in the land of our suffering. Can we believe it?

Tuesday, Mark 13

When we are in Christ, we need not fear the future or even the destruction that will one day come on the earth. Instead we are called to look forward to our eternity with Jesus and live each day here with great purpose, readiness to serve, and immense trust in God’s power to save us and to one day make right all the evil and suffering that we witness here on earth.

Ask yourself: What is it that you want to be doing when Jesus does come back to take us to the glorious place He has prepared for us? If you aren’t already, what’s stopping you from doing that today?

Wednesday, Psalm 8

What a beautiful song of praise to our truly majestic creator! Indeed, the day is coming when the whole earth will recognize His majesty, when every knee will bow before Him. But today, we His people are called to worship Him and sing His praises.

Choose two lines of Psalm 8 to commit to memory, and use these to worship Our Creator this week!

Thursday, Romans 12

Isn’t this what we all long for? To be able to discern and know the perfect will of God? How does Paul say we can? By keeping ourselves from the ways of the world, the noise of the world, and staying in tune with our Father. By loving one another, by holding fast to what is good. By praying continually as we wait on Him patiently. We don’t do any of these things dutifully, but rather because of His great mercies and the extravagant love He has lavished on us.

How can you let love be genuine in your own life today? Is there an act of mercy to be done with cheerfulness? Is there someone in need of hospitality? Is there an enemy you could pray for, someone you could rejoice or weep with?

Friday Reflections

The last few months have held more life-altering decisions for my family and myself than I could probably count. Some days, it has felt like we are faced with one decision after another, each with huge ramifications and consequences. Several weeks ago, when I was feeling completely overwhelmed by choices and unreasonably anxious that I might, in fact, make the wrong one, I felt the Lord prompt me with the question, “What do you want to be doing if I come back tomorrow?”

It is probably a question I should have been asking myself all along, but suddenly, I began to filter every new decision we faced through that one question. “If this was my very last day on earth, what would I want to be doing? What do I want to be doing when Jesus comes back?” 

The answers were the same for me as they have been for years – I want to be loving my people well. I want to be serving the church. I want to be sharing the Gospel. I want to be a light in my community. I want to be present enough in the day I have been given that each day has, even if just for a few minutes, these things included. I want the decisions I make now to be leading myself and my family down a path of increasing service, hospitality, and love.

It didn’t make all of the decisions easier, but it gave me a lot more freedom and a lot less anxiety. As we took baby steps in one direction I would ask myself, “Is this what I want to be doing if Jesus comes back?,” and as long as the answer was still yes, we would keep moving forward. As long as this was a place where we could still love, where we could still hold fast to what is good, where we could still contribute to the needs of the church and practice hospitality, then we were still on the right path.

And as we kept making decisions and taking steps in the direction we believed God was leading us, I began to wonder – How would we live differently if we truly believed that a loving Father was overseeing every event, every hardship, every step of our lives down to the very last detail? How would we live differently if we truly believed this and we believed He was doing it with the utmost tender care and concern?

While it’s easy to type these things out, to repeat them to myself as “head knowledge,” I wonder what would look different in my life, how much less anxious I might be, how much more joy I might have if my heart truly and deeply believed these things. He is teaching me to trust these promises, and His heart, a little more each day.

Joseph acknowledges these truths through tremendous waiting and trial. Even when he is brought before Pharoah, he takes no credit for the ability to interpret dreams – “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharoah the answer he desires.” Joseph knows that God is in all the details, even the seemingly strange dreams, and God will reveal exactly what He wants Pharoah to know. God has tenderly, lovingly carried Joseph through every bit of trial and suffering to bring him to a place of favor now.

And Joseph continues to give God credit in all the details throughout the rest of the story: “God has revealed this to Pharoah,” and “Since God has shown you this…” Joseph lives the way Paul instructs us in Romans 12 – joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Could it be that the cupbearer and the baker just happened to be imprisoned with Joseph and both have dreams? Could it be Joseph just happened to be put in power over all of Egypt just before his brothers came, in need, to Egypt? No, it is far more likely that Joseph’s God, our God, was always working all the details together for Joseph’s good and for His own glory.

It’s true for you and me, too. He is in all the details, He is guiding our steps. Through the suffering and the desert places, through the places of great favor and joy and abundance. All we have to think about is living these Romans 12 lives of love and service and constant prayer.

When Jesus comes back, I want Him to find me loving my people, serving my family, my church and my community, doing acts of mercy with cheerfulness (Romans 12:8) and wholeheartedly trusting and believing that He is in every detail of my life. Whether I am in a season of suffering and waiting or in a season of immense favor, I pray my hope and trust in His promises does not waver. 

Someday, like Joseph, He will make us forget our troubles. Let’s live worthy of His name until then.