“The mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god.” The sailors are transformed. Life experience with its storms, new relationships, confronting one who runs from God, as well as a powerful experience with the living God, who they may have heard about but never knew; all of it is the kettle for transformation. By verse 14, the sailors cry out to the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, the personal, saving God. Where do you turn in the tough times? What is going on now that has you crying out to the Lord? Lord, hear our prayers?
“But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” We learn in verse nine that Jonah knows God as the one who made the sea and the dry land and yet he somehow still believes that he may flee from God’s presence. Hiding like Adam and Eve, fleeing like Jonah; it’s all indication that we would rather have our way than God’s. Are you hiding these days? Are there things in your life that cause you to flee from God’s presence? God, thank you that you are faithful to pursue and find us. Amen!
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah…saying…” Commentaries on Jonah clearly emphasize Jonah’s disobedience to God’s command in this first verse. Before we are quick to reprimand Jonah however, perhaps we ought to notice this book starts with a man who is listening, who actually hears God’s voice. Our day and age is not one that encourages listening much to anyone, let alone God. Are you listening for God’s voice? Are there other voices that guide your life? How can you move away from distractions so you can hear God’s voice? Give us grace to hear O Lord!
“The woman conceived and bore a son…she hid him…” No one would know the name of Moses today if there was not a loving mother trusting in God and taking practical action for the care of her child. Sometimes Christians today look for “big things” to do for God; is it possible that faithfulness and righteousness in the little things each day are most important? What decision can I make or action can I take today that reflects my trust and faith in God beyond my own desires and control? Spirit of God, guide us and empower for daily living.
“But the midwives feared God; they did not do what the king of Egypt commanded, but let the boys live.” Amazing things occur here (vs. 15-22): the lengths to which the powerful will go to maintain their control and prosperity, the lengths to which normal people will go to live according to God’s ways (even those outside the faith), and God’s ability to flourish life despite evil human intent. In our national politics, church organizations, and families which motivations most reveals the intent of our hearts? Lord Jesus, may we be amazing like the midwives, not like the king. Amen.
“Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph…” The people of God live in the world. This world has worldly governmental systems that are sometimes sympathetic and supportive of those of faith and sometimes not. The story of Exodus from cover to cover is the story of God who is powerful to deliver and make Himself known regardless of earthly leaders. How might this truth guide and encourage us amidst change? We pray for our leaders O Lord; may they be sensitive to your guidance. May your people be faithful witnesses to your ways through all circumstances.
“Then Joseph died…but the Israelites were fruitful and prolific, they multiplied and grew exceedingly…” Exodus begins, not with a problem, but with a blessed people who are in fact following God’s plan “to be fruitful and multiply.” The problems of the bondage of Israel arise out of Egypt’s fears over their growth. How do fears in our lives or in our churches prompt negative responses to other peoples? What kind of other motivations and approaches could lead to loving communities despite the differences of people? Heavenly Father, as your children, let love characterize our leadership, our communities, and our lives.
“If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” A new year, new opportunities, new chances; Christian people and leadership need to be ever reminded of new life in Christ and live in the reality of new life for themselves and others. What specific ways can I keep my passion to announce this “new creation” and “new life” for others and carry this into practical actions each day of the New Year? – Continue your renewing work in us and let us join you in it, O Christ, our Savior.
“Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing…which the Lord has made known to us.” Christmas is both a revelation and an invitation. “The Lord has made known,” but there is also a invitation to “go and see.” What is God revealing to you these days/this Christmas? What is God inviting you to? Will you go and see as the shepherds did? They returned praising God! – Give me eyes to see what you want me to see dear Lord, courage to choose you and your ways for my life. Amen.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS!
“Rachael weeping for her children…because they are no more.” Christians often stand shocked at the evil of this world. Do not be shocked, embedded in the Christmas story itself is a mass murder to satisfy the threatened king’s power, bruised ego or mental illness. It is in the midst of the suffering and the evil of this world that Jesus comes; “God with us” in and through it all. What shocks me? Am I aware of “God with us” in the midst of all circumstances? – Be with us Lord Jesus we pray. Strengthen and comfort all those who grieve…