Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 28

Exodus 5:22-7:24; Matthew 18:23-19:12; Psalm 23:1-6; Proverbs 5:22-23

Wow! Where to begin today? As I was reading through today’s Scriptures, I thought, “This is what I’m going to write about,” at least 4 or 5 times. I guess it’s a good problem to have, when you feel like everything is important and worthy of reflection! Since it’s clearly going to be a doozy, let’s get started!
If you’re like me and you grew up in the church in the 80's, then you are probably familiar with the idea of a flannel board. In fact, you may have a very visceral reaction to the item. For those newer to church, let me explain – a flannel board was used in many Sunday School classes throughout the nation to depict popular Bible stories. Characters made of flannel could be stuck to a board made of flannel as a teacher (possibly even wearing flannel!) told tales of David and Goliath, Joseph and the Many Colored Coat and so on. In today’s reading, you may have been reminded of the flannel board story of the Ten Plagues. And so perhaps you’re very familiar with this story, and its impact even rolls right off your shoulders. But let’s take a step back and look at this. Moses has a staff that becomes a snake; his hand turns leprous and then clean again; the Nile River turns to blood – BLOOD. The Nile is 4,258 miles long. That’s a LOT of blood. Can you picture the scene? “There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt” (Ex. 7:21b); “the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile” (Ex. 7:21a). This is a God who is serious about getting the attention of Pharaoh, serious about telling his people he has not forgotten them. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (Ex. 7:5); “I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves and I have remembered my covenant” (Ex. 6:5). This is just the first of many signs, but oh what a sign! Sort of blows the flannel graph two-dimensional story out of the water, doesn’t it?
Then we get into our Matthew reading and if you’re like me, you’re immediately convicted by the story of the unmerciful servant. He’s forgiven a great debt – Matthew says it’s ten thousand talents, which is about 20 years’ wages. In today’s money, assuming you make around $60,000, that’s $1.2 MILLION dollars. That’s a lot of money! So this man is spared – and what does he do? He finds his fellow servant, a man who owes him hundred denarii (in comparison, this is about $16,500) and throws him in prison until he can pay the debt.
How often do I receive mercy from God? Every. Single. Day. And yet how often do I hold others to an impossible standard? Man, does the Bible know just how to cut to the heart of the matter or what? And you know what I particularly love about this passage? The man begs at the king’s feet for more time to pay the debt. But the king doesn’t agree to the additional time – “Out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt (Mt. 18:27).  

Jesus, forgive me for the times I am like that unmerciful servant, willing to take advantage of your abundant mercy but unwilling to extend a small amount of grace to my husband, children, co-workers and neighbors.
And how can I not talk about Psalm 23? It is the quintessential psalm. Throughout the generations, we’ve painted this psalm, memorized it, made greeting cards and cross stitch out of it, and hung it up in our houses. And there’s a reason – it’s a beautiful, lavish, poetic reminder of God’s goodness to us. Green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, cups that overflow, goodness and mercy that follow us all the days of our life – thank you, Lord!

- Esther McCurry

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

1 comment:

  1. This morning, I was struck by the implacable heart of Pharaoh - it's hard when Moses makes his very first petition, and it remains hard through today's reading, and it'll be hard all the way through the plagues. So many chances for him to soften and repent, but he never did/does.