15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.
This week we will be focusing on how God uses people in humble circumstances and from humble beginnings to do his work. In this passage, we see how the midwives, rooted in their faith in God, lived it out even when it was uncomfortable. In their humility, they were able to submit themselves to their God.
- Where are you being invited to live according to who you are in Christ?
- How is God’s invitation in contrast with what you see around you?
- Where do the motivations of your choices lie?
Gracious God, we are a people living for you in a culture that doesn’t necessarily reflect your character and desires for people. As we walk this earth and interact with the people and systems around us, give us the discernment we need to hear your voice and the courage to live as you are inviting us to live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For thus says the high and lofty one
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
For I will not continually accuse,
nor will I always be angry;
for then the spirits would grow faint before me,
even the souls that I have made.
One of the greatest truths about God is that He is unsearchable and yet near us and even within us. He finds his home in those who are aware of their own limitations and dependence on Him and loves us in a way that strengthens and encourages us in our deepest places. The more we acknowledge we need Him, the more He fills us.
- Are there conditions you put on your own worthiness to receive the nearness of God?
- How do the conditions you put on yourself impact the graciousness you extend to others?
- What does “humble in spirit” mean to you?
Gracious God, Thank you for the both/and of your nature that holds all things together and holds us close as your children. Help us to release the tendency we sometimes have to believe that you are always angry with us, and to replace it with confidence in your gentle, forgiving and forbearing presence you are extending to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
54 He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” 58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.
When Jesus returned to the town in which he had grown up, all they could see was the little boy who roamed the streets and worked with his dad in the carpenter’s shop. Because they were blinded by the humble upbringing of the Lord Jesus, the townspeople missed the opportunity to experience the power that he held.
- Are there things you believe about yourself that keep you from reaching your potential?
- Are there things you believe about people you know that keep you from embracing who they are and what God might want to say
- to you through them?
- What are you going to do with what has come to the surface today?
Gracious God, we confess our tendency to put ourselves and others in boxes that limit our vision for our lives and our capacity to see what you want to do in and through us. Forgive us and expand our hearts to see one another the way you do and have the courage to relinquish the voices of our past to embrace your purpose for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
As Jesus continues to invite his disciples to join him, one of them, Philip, goes and finds another to accompany him. Nathaniel expresses resistance, based on his prejudice against Jesus’ hometown. And rather than defending Jesus, Philip simply invites him to come and see.
- Where do you feel like Nathaniel, experiencing resistance and prejudice toward someone because of their origin?
- What would it look like for you to release those feelings of resistance and prejudice?
- Who in your life are you inviting to come and see Jesus, through your words and/or deeds?
Gracious God, we confess our pre-conceived notions about people that have created barriers to rich and blessing-filled relationships. Remove the resistance from us that keeps us from living open-heartedly with those around us. Help our words and our actions to be an invitation to them to encounter you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
What a powerful encounter Nathaniel had as Jesus cut through his resistance straight to his heart. Jesus knew what he had said and yet cast vision on what he could become. In one moment, Nathaniel’s heart was laid bare before Christ and he was invited to follow him on a journey of transformation.
- In what area of your life do you hope to experience the transformation of Christ?
- What words of grace and potential for you do you hear Jesus saying?
- What do you think Jesus might want to do in and through you as you continue to follow him?
Gracious Lord, there is nothing about us that you don’t know, and nothing that blocks you from loving us and inviting us to follow you. Help us to be honest with ourselves and willing to relinquish the things that lurk in the dark corners of our lives, that we might be whole-hearted followers of you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.