Today we are going to focus on praying in anticipation of God's work in Rochester and around the world.
The Bible is filled with historical details that can be verified by archaeology and other texts from the time. One of these details is found early in the Christmas story in Luke 1:5.
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.
Before we even get into any of the miracles of Christmas surrounding the birth of Jesus, we find some context. It says that everything we read later happened "in the time of Herod king of Judea." Herod was a ruthless ruler who would stop at nothing to maintain his power over Judea. Despite being appointed by Rome and raised as a Jew, he didn't really fit in either world. To appease the Jews, he led lavish construction projects, including rebuilding the Temple. To appease the Romans, he had Roman artifacts and symbols erected on and around Jewish holy sites.
Rome was in control and Herod was their puppet. And he was hated by the people he ruled because of his willingness to desecrate Jewish holy sites for the sake of increasing his reputation before the Roman occupiers.
The Jews longed for freedom from their oppressors. They longed for the glory days of the nation of Israel, free from tyranny and oppression, that they read about in their texts. And it wasn't going to come from this so-called "King of the Jews" -- this wasn't their king.
But a King was coming. The ancient Jewish texts, what we refer to as the Old Testament, tell of a coming king. This king, the Messiah, would be their Savior. But He wouldn't save them in the way many of them were expecting.
Christmas is a time of anticipation. Today, it plays out as we anticipate the lights, the food, the gifts, and all the celebration that comes with the holiday. For many it comes with pain and for others it's a time of joy. But at its core it's about waiting with the hope that something better is on the way.
As Christians, it's remembering that the world was waiting for a true solution to the problem of sin -- the problem that separates humanity from our Creator.
Today, would you please pray...
- for those who are hurting. Pray that they would find the true hope found in the Gospel of Jesus.
- for those who are joyous. Pray that their ultimate joy would be found in Christ.
- for those with significant needs in our city and around the world. Pray that their greatest need would be met. Pray that the people of Northridge would be the messengers to bring that much-needed hope to Rochester, to Chad, and to every area we are able to impact.
- for those who have found hope in something other than Christ. Our money, our spouse, our children, our jobs, our houses, and our titles are good things -- but not the greatest things. Pray that people would give pause this Christmas to see and savor Christ, rather than the "stuff" that Christmas has become about in our culture.
Thanks for praying!