January 7 Devotional
Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.
Opening Prayer: May those without hope take heart in you, O Christ. May those with no home find shade at your right hand. May those near the end see beginnings; may those at the last become first. At the foot of your cross, O Christ, I come in prayer. O Christ, be my help, O Christ, be my hope. Amen. (Pamela Hawkins, Weavings Volume XXVI, Number 2)
Scripture Reading for the Day: Matthew 2:7-11
Reading for Reflection: The contrast is pretty striking. On the one hand you have the Magi, the three wise men who came from the east and followed the star until it came to rest over the place where the child (Jesus) was. We are not told much about them - where they were specifically from, how many miles they had traveled, or how long it had taken them. But we can well imagine that it had been a long and grueling journey. Some scholars estimate that the three travelers had ventured as many as 800 miles in search of the new born King, which could’ve taken in excess of 80 days. If nothing else, these guys were serious about seeking.
King Herod, on the other hand, lived about six miles from Bethlehem. And even though he was so close to the place where the God of the universe had just entered into His creation, he was unwilling to go see it for himself. In fact, Herod told the Magi to go and search, and if they found anything to come back and let him know about it. He wasn’t about to go through all the trouble of seeking God on his own. “Let someone else do the work, and then let them tell me what they find,” he must’ve figured.
Unfortunately, that attitude still seems to live on to this day, because true seeking requires a lot of us, especially when we are talking about seeking God. In fact, it requires all of us. There is no half way. There is no letting someone else do the work and then telling us what they have found. It is impossible to seek God second hand. Someone else cannot do it for us. We must go. We must embark on the journey, no matter what the length, regardless of what the cost. We must be like the wise men, rather than like King Herod. We must be willing to seek Him, for only then will we be totally and completely captured by the object of our seeking - Jesus. Only then will we rejoice exceedingly and be filled with great joy. Only then will we fall down and worship him, opening our treasures to him and offering him all that we have and all that we are. As the prophet Jeremiah so appropriately reminds us; “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord...” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
Reflection and Listening: silent and written
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Andy and Bev Warren serve with an MTW team that is involved in HIV/AIDS work and church planting through the Ethiopia Aids Care and Treatment (ACT) Project. The project targets slum communities in Addis Ababa which contain the neediest people in the community - large percentages of women with small children. In recent years the project has served more than 500 AIDS-affected families, reaching more than 1,200 people. Pray today for the Warrens to have wisdom in growing the project, especially in church planting.
Hope Resource Center is a multi-faceted Christian ministry addressing such matters as sexual purity and health, unplanned pregnancy, post-abortion stress and abstinence education. Pray today for the staff and volunteers as they minister to young women in crisis.
Closing Prayer: O Thee who seest and knowest all things, give me grace, I pray Thee, so to know Thee and so to see Thee that in knowing Thee I may know myself even as I am most perfectly known of Thee, and in seeing Thee may see myself as I verily am before Thee. Give me today some clear vision of my life in time as it appears to Thine eternity. Show me my own smallness and Thine infinite greatness. Show me my own sin and Thy perfect righteousness. Show me my own lovelessness and Thine exceeding love. Yet in Thy mercy show me also how, small as I am, I can take refuge in Thy greatness; how, sinful as I am, I may lean upon Thy righteousness; and how, loveless as I am, I may hide myself in Thy forgiving love. Cause my thoughts to dwell much today on the life and death of Jesus Christ my Lord, so that I may see all things in the light of the redemption which Thou hast granted to me in His name. Amen. (A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie)