duminică, ianuarie 13, 2008

What Jesus did? - for January 15

The Lord's Continuing Presence - Matthew 2:19-20
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. This happened while Joseph was in Egypt. The angel said, "Get up! Take the baby and his mother and go to Israel. The people that were trying to kill the baby are now dead." (ERV)

Key Thought
Isn't it interesting how the same place can mean different things for us? Egypt was that way for Israel. Egypt was a place of bondage, but it was also a place where they found food to preserve them during a famine. Egypt was a place of oppression and yet at the same time it was a place of God's great deliverance. Egypt wasn't home, but it was a place where God still was active in guiding and protecting his people and fulfilling his promises to them. As Matthew relates how Jesus was protected in Egypt even though it was not his home, all these connections with Israel's past fill our hearts and remind us of this great truth: If we are seeking to live for our Father, he knows us, he knows our situation, and he is working for our ultimate deliverance no matter where we are!

Today's Prayer

Ever-present Father, I am comforted to see how you protected your Son when he was vulnerable. I am thankful to know that there is never a place or time that your presence is not with me. Please make yourself known in my life each day, as I seek to live for you right where I am, until that day you bring me home. In Jesus' name I pray.

What Jesus did? - for January 14

Slaying the Innocents - Matthew 2:16-18
Herod saw that the wise men had fooled him. Herod was very, very angry. So Herod gave an order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and in all the area around Bethlehem. Herod had learned from the wise men the time {the baby was born}. It was now two years from that time. So Herod said to kill all the boys that were two years old and younger. So the thing God said through the prophet Jeremiah happened: "A sound was heard in Ramah. It was bitter crying and much sadness. Rachel cries for her children; and she cannot be comforted, because her children are dead." (ERV)

Key Thought
I don't know about you, but I don't like this story. It spoils the sentimentality of the birth story of Jesus. But, at a more primal level of truth, this story of Herod's brutal paranoia shocks us awake, and helps us understand why Jesus had to come. Without a reverence for God and his Word, we human beings have shown a remarkable propensity for brutality, as culture loses sight of the preciousness of each person created in the image of God. The slaying of the innocents reminds us of how easily we slip into a mentality that puts personal protection, reputation, and position above the rights of those who are vulnerable and powerless. Just because Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, that doesn't mean he came to a safe and pristine world, or was somehow insulated from the realities of evil unleashed among us. This brutal world awaited him. That's the core of the story. Even the innocents are not protected, even if that Innocent is God among us -- as later events in Jesus life will reveal.

Today's Prayer
O God, please forgive us for the slaying of innocents today -- this is especially true when we do such things to maintain appearances while we extinguish any unexpected and unwanted "surprises." Thank you for sending Jesus in a time and in a way that exposed him to the brutality of a world, a brutality that still haunts us to this day. Thank you that his blood will cleanse any repentant sinner, even those who have been a part of the brutality. Father, please forgive me for the times I have looked at others without your love for them in my heart. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.