Monday: Genesis 45
Tuesday: Luke 1
Wednesday: Psalm 12
Thursday: Romans 16
Friday: Genesis 45, Luke 1, Psalm 12, Romans 16
Monday, Genesis 45
Judah’s great love for Benjamin brings Joseph to tears. I wonder about all that must be going through Joseph’s mind in that moment as he watches his brothers, totally transformed, as he realized all his hardship and trial has culminated in this – beautiful transformation in his family and God’s sovereign protection and provision for them now. We so rarely get a glimpse into all God is using our pain to accomplish, and now after so many years, Joseph can see all the good God is bringing out of his many trials.
And when the world would say Joseph has every reason to seek vengeance, he gives only mercy, assuring his brothers that “God sent me here.” There is nothing man can do to us without God allowing it, and when the most unspeakable happens to us it is not outside of God’s good plan and purpose even when we do not see it yet.
Imagine the relief of Joseph’s brothers as they hear he is not angry with them! Imagine their utter astonishment when they hear that not only has he forgiven them, but he wants to provide lavishly for them! This is just a little glimpse of what God has done for us in Jesus! Not only has He mercifully forgiven us, but He has lavished us with provision both now and in the age to come.
Rest for a minute in the mercy and grace you have found in Jesus. Feel the deep relief of your sins not being held against you! Feel the utter astonishment of God desiring to lavish you with provision of all good things!
Is there someone you need to forgive? Someone difficult you need to reach out to in love?
Allow the astonishing grace and mercy of God, exemplified here in the story of Joseph, to encourage you as you reach out to that person or people in His love and forgiveness.
Tuesday, Luke 1
Everything God instructed the angel to communicate to Zechariah happened exactly as God said it would. Everything God relayed through the angel to Mary happened exactly how God said it would. What more proof do we need to trust Him? Throughout the rest of the Gospel of Luke, throughout the entire rest of Scripture, every prophecy and promise is fulfilled, exactly as God says it will be. If this is true, then certainly all His promises to me today will also be fulfilled. Certainly things will be for us exactly as God says they will be. This means:
We will always be loved.
We are eternally forgiven.
Nothing can separate us from our Father.
No weapon formed against us can prosper. Nothing can harm us without God’s permission.
We will live with Him forever in a perfect place with no sadness or hurt or destruction.
The Gospel calls us to believe and to trust in God’s promises. The Gospel calls us to bear witness to and trust in God’s extravagant grace. The Gospel calls us to stand in awe of the unconditional love of God in Christ.
Who in your life needs to hear the message of the Gospel today?
Wednesday, Psalm 12
I bet Joseph felt similarly to David sometimes, betrayed by his own family, now hunted as he hides in caves. He cries out to the Lord to deliver him, to make things right in the world.
It’s so easy to look at our world right now and feel the same things – hopeless, discouraged, certain that there are no righteous leaders left. This is why we need a Savior. Keep us, Lord, and guard us. This is David’s prayer and it must be ours. We are not hopeless because we know the Righteous One and we know He is coming back to restore all things and make all right again. Until then, let us be those that are a light in this generation, those who cry out to the Lord like David – save us!
Spend some time today in prayer about current world issues that are troubling you. Be encouraged that we have a Savior who is coming back to make all things right again! Ask the Lord to make you a light in an often-dark world.
Thursday, Romans 16
I love the way Paul loves his people. I found myself asking myself as I was reading: Do we love people this much?
This is how it should be. Not only does Paul love his people but he acknowledges their shared ministry – Paul cannot share the Gospel like he does without the help of all his beloved friends and co-ministers. These people have worked hard and some even risked their lives for the sake of the Gospel and Paul honors them. Paul acknowledges that it hasn’t been his effort alone that has advanced the Gospel, but the collective work of many who have gone before him, walked beside him, or who will come behind him.
Because of our current circumstance, God has been impressing this on my heart often lately. The amazing friends-turned-family we left in Uganda for this season not only continue to share the Gospel with our community, but have encouraged me in the Gospel on countless occasions. Ministry wasn’t meant to be done alone, but in community. And as I think of our church and as I think of Paul, I know this is how I want to love and minister no matter where God sends us – together. With His people. With our people.
If you left your workplace, your church, your school, or your community right now, do you have a list like Paul of those you would send greetings to, those you would honor, those who helped you along the way?
First of all, if the answer for any of us is no, I pray we would be encouraged by Paul’s example to cultivate a lifestyle and community where we could begin to have a long list like this.
If your answer is yes like mine is (by the grace of God alone – thank you Jesus for our people!), reach out today to your people. Remind them of how they have loved you, encouraged you, spurred you on. Remind them of how you couldn’t do it without them.
Spend some time thanking Jesus for His body. The Gospel goes forth in community.
I want to respond to the Lord like Mary did. That willing yes, even in the midst of fear and uncertainty. That humble trust that He will do good even when our circumstances don’t look good or don’t make any sense.
Often, though, I approach life a lot more like Zechariah. It is just so hard for me to believe when I cannot see. Zechariah has suffered. He has grieved for years his inability to have children which has likely led to reproach from others in his community. Pain changes us. It’s hard to keep asking for that same thing when we feel God isn’t answering, when we feel we might have been forgotten. It’s hard to believe God still sees us and still loves us and still cares about the desires of our hearts after days or months or in Zechariah’s case years of hurting.
Can you relate?
We already know the whole story and how John the Baptist, the child of Zechariah and Elizabeth, will prepare the way for Jesus our Savior. We already know God is taking Zechariah’s pain and making it his place of testimony and prophecy, because we have already read the end of the story. But Zechariah doesn’t know yet. He doesn’t know behind all his pain and long-suffering God is working out a perfect plan of grace and redemption for him personally and for the whole world.
Friends, lean in close: God still has a good plan for us even when we can’t see it.
God is using our pain and our heartache to work out His perfect plan of grace even when it doesn’t make any sense.
Zechariah just can’t quite believe it. I don’t know if I would either. He’s looking at an actual angel, one who has seen the face of God, one who is telling him not to be afraid and bringing him this long-awaited good news, and even faithful, godly priest Zechariah looks at the angel and wonders, “Are you sure?”
“That’s not possible,” he seems to say and begins to list the reasons.
I read about Zechariah and just keep thinking, I do this, too. I list to the Lord the reasons that His plan isn’t good, isn’t working, can’t happen, doesn’t make sense.
Have you found yourself there? Just like Zechariah, I’m prone to look at all the obstacles standing in God’s way rather than trusting that God can do anything that He wants to.
But I don’t want to miss this about our gracious Father – even in disciplining Zechariah by silencing him, God is working His good plan. God is perfecting in Zechariah a deeper, greater faith than he has ever had before. God is preparing Zechariah for great ministry, great testimony, great prophecy. Soon, Zechariah will speak the whole Gospel (v. 67-80) even before the Savior is born.
Even in our doubt, God is merciful. Even our mistakes cannot thwart His plan. Even when we mess up, God can use consequence and hardship to draw us into a deeper faith, to perfect our testimony that will one day point to Him.
Can we trust Him even when we can’t yet see the good through our veil of tears?
Angel Gabriel then goes with a similar, even more shocking message to Mary. And while Mary’s response is similar at the beginning, the heart and faith behind it is different.
“How will it be?” she asks. And I think we see here that it’s ok to wonder how the Lord might accomplish His purposes when we can’t see them yet. But immediately she follows with, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
It is ok to ask questions, as long as underneath all our wondering we are trusting deeply in our Father who calls us to believe Him.
Rather than give God the list of reasons why this isn’t possible, isn’t convenient, or isn’t good, Mary opens her hands and her heart to what God has for her even in the midst of uncertainty and probably immense fear. Certainly she knows that this is going to be hard. And yet, in the midst of uncertainty, she sings praise. Can we?
Can we sing with Mary, “He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is His name. His mercy is for those who trust Him from generation to generation.”
Friends, He doesn’t need our perfection, but He needs our trust. Like Joseph, like Paul, like Mary, we can believe that He is working good even out of the seemingly impossible. And on the days we lose sight and our wondering turns into doubts, God in His mercy can use even our missteps to draw us back to Him.
We can trust Him. Even here, even now. He is trustworthy.
Wherever you are right now, pause. Close your eyes and open up your hands, stretching them out, palms up. Can you whisper it like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as He has said.” Lord, let it be.