Sermon: The Power of Fear
Scripture Reading: Exodus 1:6-22, Exodus 2:1-10
So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. (Exodus 1:18-21)
Monday July 23 — Genesis 37:23-28
In order to understand the context for the story of Moses, we have to go back to the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, starting in chapter 37. Earlier in Genesis, Abram and Sarai went to Egypt during a time of famine, but they did not stay. When Joseph was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt, the movement of the family of Israel into Egypt began. For the complete story of how the family of Israel found themselves in Egypt, read the entirety of Genesis 37-50 this week. Consider the importance of context for our understanding of the Bible’s message.
- Prayer: Faithful God, I am grateful that you journey with me throughout the course of my life. You guide my life, even when I am not aware of where I am going. Amen.
Tuesday July 24 — Genesis 42:1-5, 18-25
After Joseph was established in Egypt as a high-ranking member of Pharaoh’s court, there was a famine in Israel. As a result, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain. The events described in Genesis 42-45 illustrate the unexpected ways God works in our lives. God does not make bad things happen, but God has the power to take the raw material of our lives—both good and bad—and make something new. How have you experienced the life-changing power of God recently?
- Prayer: God of Wonder, I am constantly amazed at the breadth and depth of your love and grace. Continue to work your miracles. I am ready for you to make all things new. Amen.
Wednesday July 25 — Genesis 47:27-31
By the end of the book of Genesis, the family of Jacob has settled in Egypt. The final chapters of Genesis describe Jacob’s death and burial; Joseph’s act of forgiveness toward his brothers; and Joseph’s death. The Israelites (the family of Jacob) had taken a journey (over many years) that they never would have predicted. It wasn’t the journey they had planned, and yet they discovered—at every turn—that God was with them. What helps you trust in God when the twists and turns of life take you in directions you were not expecting?
- Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for your patience and persistence. When I fall, you pick me up. When I get lost, you find me. Give me the courage I need to trust you always.
Thursday July 26 — Exodus 1:1-14
The opening verses of the book of Exodus describe the passing of time and the success of the Israelites in Egypt. They also describe the oppression of the Israelites by the Egyptians, who were led by a king “who did not know Joseph.” It’s a lesson about the importance of understanding our history. It’s also a lesson about the power of fear. When we forget our story – who we are and how we arrived in our current situation – we can be too easily driven by fear instead of faith. Which aspects of your story help you remain faithful in the midst of changing circumstances? What helps you remember your story?
- Prayer: Almighty God, inspire in me today a desire to remember who I am and whose I am. Help me to see your presence in my life and live by faith, not by fear.
Friday July 27 — Exodus 1:15-22
Shiphrah and Puah are heroes in the story of Moses and the Israelites. They were midwives who had been instructed by the king of Egypt to kill all of the baby boys born to Hebrew women. But Exodus 1:17 tells us that they “feared God” and refused to carry out the king’s order. In this context, fearing God is about experiencing awe and wonder in God’s presence. It’s about having a relationship with God that leads to obedience and confidence in God’s unconditional love. What is your confidence in God’s unconditional love inspiring you to do today?
- Prayer: God of Love, forgive me for the many ways I fail to place my complete confidence in the promises of salvation and your unconditional love. Help me to trust and obey.
Saturday July 28 — Exodus 2:1-10
“God works in mysterious ways” is an overused cliché, but it seems to be an appropriate way to describe the series of events surrounding the birth of Moses. Looking back and remembering these events inspired later generations of Israelites to have confidence that God is at work in their lives and in the world. In their darkest days, God called and prepared Moses to serve God’s purposes for the salvation of God’s people. In the same way, God calls and prepares us to serve God’s purposes for the salvation of the world. Do you believe that God is at work in the world today?
- Prayer: Merciful God, thank you for calling and preparing people like Moses – and me – to serve your purposes in the world. Help me to see your hand at work in my life.