Friends: Today we finish 2019 with 2 continuing devotionals from David Niednagel, Pastor/Teacher, Evansville, IN. (David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning devotional: study, observe, apply, pray.) David’s recent morning study was focused on Jesus as God, Creator, Messiah, Savior, King. Amen!
Tough times ahead
Matt. 2:13 When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, … 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. …
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Jesus was a “sign from God” (:34), opposed and threatened from infancy onward. God warned Joseph through dreams, but He did not remove the danger. We generally believe that if we trust in God and follow His will our lives will have less danger or problems, and hopefully more blessings. No-one has trusted and pleased God more than Jesus, but His life was full of threats, danger and difficulties.
Lord, thank You for this perspective, that You do not promise to keep us from persecution and suffering. In fact, You promise us that in this world we will have trouble (Jn 16:33) but that because You have overcome the world and death we can “take heart”. You also tell us to expect to be treated the same way Jesus was. (John 15:18-25). Help me/us live so much like Jesus that I really am treated the way He was. And give me the faith and courage to love and live like Jesus. Amen
Luke 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”.
In one short verse Luke tells us so much. The content is not unexpected but it is very significant. Jesus grew in wisdom. Luke uses just one word, sophia, but he probably means all that was meant by the several words used in Proverbs – knowledge, wisdom, understanding, discernment – all referring to someone who is teachable and learns to make good decisions. Even though He was God in human flesh, He had to choose to obey His parents and the Law of Moses. Like all children, He was tempted to want His own way, but He never disobeyed.
He grew in stature – physically – probably pretty much like all other kids. He grew in favor with God – spiritually. He did not just obey the commands, but developed a heart that sought God, with intentional thanks, praise and worship. He delighted in doing the will of His Father. (Heb 10:4) It was like food for Him. (John 4:32-34) He loved righteousness. He also grew in favor with people. Socially. Without a sinful ego, He did not need to put others down. He genuinely cared about people, including the outcasts of society, and they sensed it.
Lord, even at my age I desire to keep increasing in wisdom, a teachable heart. Help me face my sinful thoughts and trust that You are much wiser than I am, and there will be no joy in self-centered choices. Physically I am in decline, but help me with the self-discipline to do what I can to take care of myself and remain capable of a fruitful life. Mostly I pray I would grow in my longing for time with You and that the thoughts and meditations of my heart would be acceptable to You. (Ps 19:14) And I am all too aware of my desires to prefer myself over other people. Even yesterday I was impatient with people who interrupted my plans and schedule. Lord, help me see my own heart the way You do, and see other people the way You do – ALL other people, and all the time. And Lord, please use me to help others keep growing too, showing them that You are our best example in every area of life. Amen