“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…
“Surely God is my salvation…make known his deeds.” Isaiah shows the vital connection between joy and thanksgiving of the individual experiencing God’s salvation and the natural flow of making known, proclaiming, and singing it to others. How can we encourage one another to share, sing, and give witness of our individual stories so that all in the congregation and beyond can know of God’s goodness? – Father, let us freely share the stories of your salvation in our lives, so that all may know you.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.” In Zachariah’s prophesy, the birth and coming of John the Baptist was not simply an answer to one couple’s prayer for a child; it is an answer to the prayers and hopes of all God’s people. How do we keep our focus on the entire Community of Faith and the world in a culture and time that emphasizes individual experience with God? Are our ministries focused on just individuals? – Help us to see Your saving work for all people. Amen
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Many will say they are seeking God’s will for their lives. What if we were to start here: God’s will is for you to give thanks… How would this look in our daily lives? How might it change our perspective as Christian leaders? – Let me see this world, Dear Lord, as though I were looking through your eyes and give thanks. Amen.
“Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…” Sometimes it is easy to talk about godly character in some theoretical way, disconnected from what we live in our body. “Self-control” is the embodiment of bringing the body under the discipline of heart and mind. Why is it tempting to have an intellectual faith separated from the body? Why is our body and what we do with it important to our faith and ministry? Spirit of God, only through your power may I live a holy and honorable life. Empower me.