Morning Musing: Micah 5:2

“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Christmas morning is a time when kids all over the place are looking forward to waking up, going to wherever their tree happens to be, and laying their eyes on their big Christmas surprise. The bigger the better too. I remember a few Christmases when I was little where I had some big toy or another greeting me as I walked in the living room. As you start getting a little older, though, something happens. The toys tend to get a little smaller. Then they get a little smaller still. And the first few times you find something smaller – still exciting, but smaller – it hits a little like a slap in the face. Yet, as the old cliche goes, big things can come in small packages. This verse offers us a potent reminder of that truth. As we continue our Advent journey this morning, let’s talk about God’s tendency to work big things in unexpected ways.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 2:8-9

“‘You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping my ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In 1989, Ed Koch lost his bid to be reelected Mayor of New York City in a primary upset to David Dinkins. When later interviewed about it and asked if he would run again, Koch wittily replied that “the people threw me out. And now the people must be punished.” In other words, if the people don’t like the situation they are in, it’s their own fault and they are going to have to own it. And indeed, sometimes when people are in a hard spot, it is their own fault for not receiving and following good leadership. But sometimes it is the fault of bad leadership. Disobedient people may raise the Lord’s ire, but poor leadership just makes Him angry. This is what Malachi reminds us of here.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 11:16

“I am about to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are perishing, and he will not seek the lost or heal the broken. He will not sustain the healthy, but he will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hooves.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

History matters. An adage that has become a cliché over time is if we do not study history, then we are doomed to repeat it. The idea is that if we do not make ourselves conspicuously aware of the mistakes we have made in the past, then we are likely to make the same ones again when given the chance. That may be a cliché, but it’s still true. This kind of thing is what God seems to have in mind here.

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The Leaders We Deserve

As we continue in our journey through the book of Judges, things are getting ugly. God keeps raising up leaders to help the people when they are in trouble, but the stock of people from which He can draw is getting pretty poor. As a result, rather than leading the people, these men are merely reflecting them. There’s a lesson here for us: Our leaders are ultimately going to look like us. What kind of leaders are we meaningfully going to be able to produce? Let’s talk about it.

The Leaders We Deserve

Have you ever seen a movie in which a great leader calls a people to rise above themselves and do great things? That’s a pretty broad category of mostly good movies if you think about it. There is one, though, that stands atop the rest: Braveheart. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what scene I’m talking about. The Scottish clans are all lined up on the hill waiting to run into battle against their English oppressors. They are hopelessly outnumbered by the British regulars. And then William Wallace rides up and down their ranks and speaks courage and confidence into their very souls. The most famous passage of the speech ended like this: “And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 4:6-7

“So he answered me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of Armies. “What are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain. And he will bring out the capstone accompanied by shouts of: Grace, grace to it!”‘” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Leadership is tough. It’s easier to manage. Now, that doesn’t mean management is easy, but it’s easier than leadership. When you’re managing, your job is simply to keep things running smoothly. You’re not trying to go anywhere; you’re just trying to stay afloat. But leadership implies direction. You’re trying to actively move an organization–that is, a group of people–forward somewhere they haven’t been before. The challenge is that even on our most adventurous days, we are all creatures of habit. If you’re going to lead anyone anywhere, then, you’ve got to convince people who are settled to get unsettled and go on a journey whose end they cannot see. That’s tough. Even the best leaders need encouragement along the way if they are going to accomplish anything significant. God knew this, and in Zechariah’s next vision, we find Him offering some encouragement.

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