The king is still on a rampage! Since backbreaking slave labor and brutal treatment has not stopped the growth of the Israelites, the king goes directly to the “labor and delivery room”! He gives an order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, “Kill all the male babies born!” The king’s fear leads him to cruel and immoral leadership.
The midwives fear and respect God more than they fear or respect Pharaoh; they refuse to kill the male babies. Israel continues to flourish even in the face of tremendous persecution. Because of their courage and obedience, the midwives are rewarded with God’s blessings, protection, and families. These women looked right into the face of evil and refused to be intimidated. What courage! What role models!
A king planning to kill all Jewish male babies could also have killed disobedient midwives. Yet God’s blessing and protection meets the midwives’ resistance. God stays faithful to God’s people. Always has, always will!
There have been many such brave women in our Christian heritage. Women who, in spite of trial and death, have followed God with courage and with faith. I am a product of strong women of faith. These strong faithful women taught me how to be a godly man. They modeled for me the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, worship, and leadership. How different my life would have been—how different the church would be if not for strong women of courage and faith!
Who are the women who have influenced your faith journey? Who are the women who have nurtured you in your Christian growth? How does your fear affect your decision making? How does your courage keep you close to God?

Thank you, God, for women of courage and faith who model for us a way of life. May we follow their example, and be bold for the sake of your world. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 16:13-20

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Lectionary Week
August 21–27, 2017
Scripture Overview

All the texts bear witness to the rich and powerful sovereignty of God, who generously gives life. In the Exodus text, both the future of Israel and the future of God’s plans for all humanity are imperiled. At one level, the infant is saved only by the cunning of his mother and sister and by the compassion of the Egyptian princess; but, truthfully, Moses is saved only by the grace of God. Psalm 124 looks beyond the birth of Moses to the moment of the Exodus and celebrates with great joy God’s redemption of the people. Only by God’s help can humans nd life and freedom. In Romans 12 Paul calls for the transformation of the person through the power of God. We are to “be transformed,” thus placing primary emphasis on the activity of God in the life of the Christian. The Gospel reading is a confession of Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. Matthew emphasizes the rootedness of the church in the disciples’ recognition of Jesus’ messianic nature.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Exodus 1:8–2:10. When have you had a scary experience that God’s “grand plan” made successful?
• Read Psalm 124. Looking back on your life, where can you see God’s hand guiding you through rough times?
• Read Romans 12:1-8. Take time to answer the writer’s ques- tion: “How are you using your gifts in your church and in your community?”
• Read Matthew 16:13-20. Who do you say Jesus is?

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