Tag Archives: Bible Reading plan

The Leader We Long For

I can’t decide if I’m glad or sad that 2015 is not an election year. There is a tinge of sadness because I like the drama of politics, and I enjoy watching the polls and the races. It’s a bit like a sports event to me, except certainly more monumental and important.

But I’m glad because all of our focus on the supposed solution of politics is really a chimera, that is, a mirage, a dream that will never come to pass. Now, mind you, politicians matter, but we think they matter more than they actually do. Christians fall into this thinking all the time. I have a pastor friend who absolutely hates election time, because he knows that he will be getting pressure to go public in support of a particular candidate or issue, and if he doesn’t, some will skewer him as not caring about what really matters. Personally, I’ve not really seen much of this, though there have been moments.

I think we get this longing for good leaders naturally. We were created to be led, and in our hearts, we long to be led well. But in the end, politicians of all stripes are just men and women whom Scripture warns us not to put our trust in. (Psalm 146:3, 4)

But of course, not all “rulers” are created equal. Today’s passage celebrates a leader, a ruler, who will also be a shepherd.

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
– Matthew 2:6 (ESV)

So Jesus rules us in might and power. He is our Lord and God. More crassly, He is the Boss; He tells us what to do. But more than that, we learn that He is also our Shepherd. He takes care to see that we are fed…and protected…and loved. He is the perfectly benevolent ruler, the consummate “good” King.

He is the One our hearts will really be longing for when elections come around again next year, and we will never be ultimately satisfied with any leader other than Him.

On Monday, January 5: Matthew 3


Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Reputation Management

Ever heard of the phrase “reputation management”? It’s something we all engage in to one degree or another – we want to manage the way others view us, make sure they see us from our good side, not our bad, and as a result there are subtleties in how we communicate.

Social Media provides an easy illustration. Who puts an ugly picture of themselves on Instagram? Who posts unflattering information about their children on Facebook? Yeah, yeah, I know, there are the few oddballs who do both, but most of us normal people want “our public” to only see the good stuff, the happy times, not the sad, the outstanding, not the mediocre. The bumper stickers which say, “My child is somewhere in the middle of the pack academically at Waupun High”, well, they’re not selling like hotcakes.

And then there are some who work to manage the reputation of others, and most often not to their benefit. Usually this is also a twisted form of reputation management too, as passing on juicy news about the neighbor’s indiscretion lets everyone know that you are on the inside and in the know.

But Matthew chapter 1 tells about a “reputation manager” who wasn’t working for himself, and yet he also wasn’t working against others. Instead, he was managing someone else’s reputation…for their good. And for this, Scripture calls Joseph…just.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
Matthew 1:18, 19 (ESV)

No doubt in the midst of great personal pain, Joseph was thinking of Mary. At the same time he was understandably assuming that she had been unfaithful to God and to him, he was still wanting the best for her, and this meant looking out for her honor. Amazing.

Years later, Joseph’s “adopted” Son would highlight the importance of his father’s just and righteous behavior in the second greatest commandment.
To paraphrase:

“Love your neighbor’s reputation, even as you love your own.”

P.S. Happy New Year, and greetings to all you “Inspired” readers! And for those who don’t know, at Edgewood Community Church, we’re reading the New Testament together in a program called “Inspired”. We’ll read a chapter each weekday in 2015 (260 chapters in the New Testament, 261 weekdays in 2015 – it’s almost perfect, but to make it so, we’ll take Labor Day off), and I’ll be posting a devotional from my reading here each day.
I hope you’ll come back as much as you can and also, post a comment from your own reading, and finally, if you’re so moved, share the blog and reading program with a friend!

Tomorrow: January 2, Matthew 2


Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


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