Monday: Genesis 47
Tuesday: Luke 3
Wednesday: Psalm 14-16
Thursday: Galatians 2
Friday: Genesis 47, Luke 3, Psalm 14, Galatians 2
Monday, Genesis 47
Even through much hardship, God has continued to provide abundantly for Joseph, Jacob, and their family. Not only are they finally reunited, but God has given them, through Pharoah, the very best of the land.
Spend some time today reflecting on all that God has given you
Take time to write down some ways He has provided for you or some things He has given you recently. I love making these lists and reading them years later to remind myself of all the ways He has provided for us, while remembering He will continue to give us good gifts because that’s who He is.
Tuesday, Luke 3
John prepares the way for Jesus, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy. John calls people to repent and turn from their sin, which is only possible if they (and we) will recognize that they are sinful in the first place. John makes it clear that true repentance is a work that happens in the heart, not just in our outward actions. We can’t “good works” our way to salvation. It is a gift, freely given, that transforms not just our actions, but first our hearts and minds.
God who gives us good gifts gives His Son and His Spirit to dwell in us, to change our hearts and minds. His kindness and love lead us to repentance.
Is there a need for repentance in your life? Ask the Spirit to help you, rather than just going through the motions.
Is there good fruit in your life that overflows from a changed heart?
Wednesday, Psalm 14-16
Let’s memorize this beautiful Psalm together this week:
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.Psalm 16
Thursday, Galatians 2
As I read Galatians 2, I am reminded that God gives each of us different callings, different personal ministries. Ephesians 2:10 comes to mind, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” He has created each of us for a purpose. He has put us in a specific place for a purpose. He has put certain people in our paths for us to love.
Paul isn’t looking at Peter and the other disciples wishing he had their ministry, wishing he had been called to the Jews instead (which many at this time would have considered “real” ministry). He is confident in his call to the Gentiles, confident enough to encourage Peter and spur him on to even better ministry.
We live in an age of comparison. Thanks to social media, everyone else’s life is almost as in our faces as our own. It is tempting to look at another’s life, job or ministry and compare, wish for something God hasn’t given us or feel discontent in what He has given us. It is tempting to live feeling less than.
But can you imagine what good we might do, how the Kingdom might spread, if we would fix our eyes squarely on Jesus and the few things He has called us to, created us for, and do those things so well, as unto Him? If we could cheer others on in their ministries and lives instead of wishing we had them or comparing ours to them? Let’s fix our eyes on what He has called us to today, where He has placed us today, who He has given us to love today, and let’s be each other’s biggest cheerleaders along the way.
Are you prone to comparison?
How can you fix your eyes on a good work He has called you, specifically, to today?
How can you encourage someone else in the good work that God has called them to today?
My journal from September looks unusual for me. My usual verbose and rambling pages turned into short bullet points in a season of grief and transition. As I flip back I read:
– God gave us a place to rest
– God gave us affirmation
– God gave us schools for our children
– God gave us the “retreat house”
– God gave us intentional friends, near and far
– God gave us family
– God gave us sunshine
– God gave us glimpses of joy in this place
– God gave us free dentistry!
– God gave us kindness from strangers
– God gave us a rainbow
– God gave us deer and ducks and turkeys
The list goes on and on for pages. I know it is November and gratitude lists seem to uptick in popularity this time of year, but as I read back through those first pages of a brand new journal in a brand new place, I’m not looking at a popular fad or even just a habit – I am looking at my lifeline.
In the days when I couldn’t see clearly at all what God was doing, naming what I could see, what He was doing, reminded me of His goodness when I was tempted to doubt it. You probably can’t tell from the list, but as I look back, I could fill whole pages with the stories of what each bullet point means to me – the ways He gave us little glimpses of hope and joy on the hardest days, the way He provided both tangibly for our needs with a house and furniture and food and school, and the way He provided for our hearts with little reminders of His presence, conversations with kind people, encouragement from friends and family who were intentional to keep reaching out or just showing up when we couldn’t keep our heads above water.
My heart and my emotions are fickle, and I know myself well enough to know I am so often tempted to dwell on what we don’t have, what God hasn’t done, even what He might never do. And yet I sit here with my September list and it is hard to even comprehend all He has done, all the good He has already given.
He has given us good. He is giving us good. Do we have eyes to see it?
Surely it would have been easy for Jacob’s family as they settled into Goshen to lament their long journey and their new and unfamiliar home. It would have been easy for Jacob and Joseph both to lament the years they had lost together instead of rejoicing in the restored relationship they might now enjoy. They moved all this way and the famine keeps getting worse and things keep getting harder. It would have been easy to look at God and wonder, “What are you doing?” But Joseph knows what Jesus will prove once and for all: God’s goodness is seen and God’s people bear fruit, not just in prosperity, but also in affliction. Joseph knows how far God brought him, how He saved him from danger and promoted him in unlikely places. Is this what gives Joseph the confidence to continue trusting Him?
It would have been easy for Paul to look at what the other disciples had been given, their ministries, their time with the Lord, and bemoan his own, different ministry. This type of comparison is rampant in our world today, even among believers, always looking to the left and the right, longing for what someone else is doing for the kingdom or comparing our ministries, our churches, or even our days to someone who is doing it differently or “better.” Instead, Paul chooses to embrace what God has already given him – a different ministry, a different group of people to serve and preach to, but the same justification in Christ. Can you imagine what might have happened to Paul’s message if he would have focused on what he didn’t have instead of what he did?
God gives good. And in every season of my life, but especially the most difficult seasons, recognizing the good He gives has been the lifeline that fixes my eyes on Him, The Giver, instead of my outward circumstances. And if the goodness all around us isn’t enough, or when our eyes and hearts can’t see good around us at all, we have this Luke 3 promise – Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth, and all people will see God’s salvation.
On the hardest days, on the darkest days, He is still the Giver of Good because He has given us our salvation in His Son. His Beloved Son, with whom He was well pleased, took on sin for us, died the death we deserved, and rose again so that we can live with Him eternally. And if you can’t find anything good to fix your eyes on today, fix your heart on that, the greatest gift of all time.