HCC Informer: 3/19/2020

Good Morning HCC!

Even though our in-person ministry gatherings have been suspended until April 11, we are committed to continuing communication and updates throughout this time!  With that in mind, here is the regular Thursday update for this week from HCC.
 
Our message this week comes from Romans chapter 8:19-30 and is called “What Hope is There?”  It will be released early Sunday morning in a similar format to last week.
 

First,

I want direct your attention to a new song that was just released by one of my favorite Christian artists and Hymn writers, Keith and Kristyn Getty: “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death.”  It is such a timely song for our situation today and it is written based on the first question and answer of the Heidelberg catechism.
 

Second,

I want to remind everyone of our communication tools. Sermons will be posted in many of these places as well as continual updates from HCC.
 
Communication:
We will be stepping up our efforts to be in communication with you.  This will largely be through an online format.  If you know individuals within the congregation who do not use this, please help us by spreading the word.  Some of our main communication avenues are:
HCC Informer: subscribe by emailing Inform.HCC@Google.com
REMIND Text messaging: subscribe by texting “@hopkinscom” to 81010
Facebook Page: Like us at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/HopkinsCommunityReformedChurch
Facebook Group: Request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/306932216002349/
 
Prayer Requests:
Please email prayer requests to sandystearns@chartermi.net or to inform.hcc@gmail.com and we will be sure that they are circulated.
 

Needs:

If you find yourself in need of anything, please reach out to Pastor Jon via phone or email (jonathonvanderwall@gmail.com) or a consistory member and you will get a call-back either from him or someone from the consistory.
 
Also, I want to remind you that the consistory will begin calling those who are a part of the church over the next couple of days to talk about communication, needs, and the best ways for us to keep in touch!  I hope these moments of connection will be fruitful and meaningful for each of you!
 

Third,

I want to address the topic of giving one more time.  There is a new page on our website specifically designated toward giving information.  https://www.hopkinscommunitychurch.net/giving/
On this page you will find information about a new online giving option called “Tithe.ly”.  This, for the first time, allows for people to give through online or electronic means, or through an app and will be very helpful in the coming days and weeks as we continue to be physically apart from each other.  The app is available for all smartphone users.  When you download it, it will automatically search for the nearest church that uses it so many of you will likely see Hopkins United Methodist Church first.  You’ll have to search for “Hopkins Community Church” to get the right place.  It’s super easy and user friendly.
 

Finally,

Remember that church has not been “canceled.”  In this time, now more than ever, the world will be looking for hope and for help.  Where “hard ground” once was, we may find loosened and tilled soil.  I encourage you to continue to be in prayer, that the Holy Spirit would reveal to you the places that He is working and directing you to work as together we act as the Body of Christ here in the Hopkins community.
 
The Lord is with us!  He will never leave us or forsake us!  He will fight for us and He has sealed us as His sons and daughters for redemption, salvation, and eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!


HCC Informer: COVID-19 Update (3/17/2020)

Good Tuesday morning Hopkins Community Church,

Yesterday evening, March 16, the consistory met together in our normal monthly meeting. Of the several topics we discussed, our continued response to the current Coronavirus situation that we are facing as a community. The consistory decided that we will continue to follow the Michigan Health Department and Governmental directives regarding gatherings. Therefore, as of now, all ministry activities regarding face-to-face meetings and gatherings are suspended through April 11. This includes all worship gatherings, youth events, rentals, and anything else at this time. We are hopeful that we will not have to suspend our Easter service on April 12, however, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the guidelines given.

 

In light of this, here are a couple of things that you can expect to see in the coming days:

1. We are working to activate an additional online giving platform. This will open up the ability to give through phone/internet. More information will be coming on this. However, with this in mind, giving in this way also costs the church money per transaction and the consistory would like to ask the congregation that, if you are still able to give, we would ask that you do so via ACH auto-withdrawal (form attached), mail (checks only), or in-person drop-off. We will notify the church via Facebook regarding the office hours of the church on a day to day basis.

2. The consistory will be calling all of the members of the church to ensure that we have the best methods of communication marked for all individuals and families. We want to ensure that we are staying in touch with you in the best way possible during this time. We recognize that not everyone uses online methods of communication and for those that don’t, we want to find other ways to be in touch with you.

3. Pastor Jon and Pastor Jim, along with Evan, are moving forward with more online sermons and worship “services.” Pastor Jon is very thankful for the positive feedback received with this past week’s sermon. Though we cannot meet, we are still bound together in Christ and will still continue to move forward as a church to be the church here in Hopkins.

4. We are continuing to talk about the ways that we can best help the Hopkins community in this time. As organizations get rolling with their different means of helping out (school delivering food, the food pantry, etc.) we are holding off taking any immediate action, waiting to see where there may be holes that we can fill as a church. We have been and will continue to be in communication with several of the organizations and businesses in Hopkins to help us discern where we can make the greatest impact. The consistory, in response to the challenge Pastor Jon issued in His message regarding Tithing, on March 1, has set aside the appropriate amount in a “community impact” fund that we will begin to use in the coming days and weeks to meet the needs of those in the community.

One thing we have committed to moving forward on is our statement of faith.

I have attached the working draft of it. We continue to seek feedback on this document as we work together as a church to better define what we believe. I encourage you to take some time to read, think, and pray over this process.

Finally, for now, we ask and encourage you to pray. Pray for yourselves, for the community, for our leaders, and for the world. We are experiencing unprecedented, uncharted waters here. Things are happening very fast and it is easy to let the hype and the fear creep in. We continue to trust God and continue to move forward in faith. Stay tuned, more to come from us here at HCC. In the meantime, remember that the Lord is King, He rules and reigns. Let us continue to fix our eyes on Him always.



HCC Informer: COVID-19 response (3/14/2020)

Good Afternoon Hopkins Community Church,

This morning, the consistory met to discuss the current situation surrounding the Coronavirus known as COVID-19 and what our response should be for this week.  We had a very productive and helpful discussion that ultimately led us, quite clearly, to the decision that HCC will be suspending all in-person and face-to-face large group meetings for the coming week.  This includes our worship service, Discipleship Hour, Youth Groups, GEMS, Cadets, and a postponement of the Mission Trip Fundraiser Auction this Saturday.

What this means:

As a church, we are called to minister to and care for the people within our church family as well as the community that we are a part of.  Sometimes this means ministry programming, meetings, Sunday worship, etc.  In the current situation, the consistory feels that this means protecting people by following the guidelines and advice of the Government and health organizations (Romans 13:1).  In doing so, we aren’t just protecting ourselves, we are also helping to protect all those we interact with and the people they interact with and so on.  We do not make this decision out of fear or in any form of panic, but out of prudence and care for those around us (Proverbs 27:12).
 
Tomorrow’s message from Philippians 4:6-7 called “The Calm Assurance” will be available online tomorrow morning.  Due to the nature of our licensing, we are not able to offer any sort of live-streaming music from our praise team.  Links will be available on the youtube video for suggested possible worship songs.  We encourage you to worship with your family tomorrow, at your own pace, using the provided content or seek your own alternative for the day.  There will also be a time of guided prayer for you to consider as we turn our faces toward God in this difficult and unprecedented time.  I’d even encourage you to consider taking communion with your family (more on that in the message).
 
The consistory will still meet on Monday evening, as scheduled, to discuss further options both for the organization and in how we can respond as a church to aid the community at this time.

What this does not mean:

This suspension of activities does not mean that we are “canceling church.”  You are the church.  We are the church.  God does not change.  Our calling has not changed.  You cannot cancel people.  And so you are encouraged to begin brainstorming ways that you and your family can represent Jesus to the people around you at this time.  The consistory will talk more about our corporate response to this and how we can minister to this community on Monday as well.  We would welcome any thoughts or suggestions!
 
I would, also, personally challenge you to not let this moment detur any of the challenges that you have received from the Holy Spirit in the past couple of weeks.  Francis Chan writes in his book The Forgotten God that, essentially, sometimes we need to be made uncomfortable so that we have more need of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to work in us.  I have no doubt that even the staunchest among us are a bit uncomfortable at this moment.  Lean into it!  See what the Spirit brings up!

Some other details for you:

Small Groups: As you often meet outside the norms of church life, we encourage you to use your best judgment regarding this.  Obviously we are not going to try and dictate what you do in your own homes.  We encourage you to meet in the spirit of love for one another and with each other’s best interests in mind.
 
Financial Giving:  There are a couple of options here.  First, you can use the old “snail mail” and send your tithes and offerings to the church (please do not send cash).  Second, you could sign up for ACH auto-withdrawals using the attached form (fill it out with a check and take a picture of it and email us here – we will need the original though so save it please).  We are working on the possibility of opening up another avenue for financial giving as well.  As always, we encourage you to give in the spirit of generosity, joy, trust, and worship of God our provider and sustainer.
 
Communication:  We will be stepping up our efforts to be in communication with you.  This will largely be through an online format.  If you know individuals within the congregation who do not use this, please help us by spreading the word.  Some of our main communication avenues are:
HCC Informer: subscribe by emailing Inform.HCC@Google.com
REMIND Text messaging: subscribe by texting “@hopkinscom” to 81010
Facebook Page: Like us at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/HopkinsCommunityReformedChurch
Facebook Group: Request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/306932216002349/
 
Prayer Requests: Please email prayer requests to sandystearns@chartermi.net or to inform.hcc@gmail.com and we will be sure that they are circulated.
 
Needs: If you find yourself in need of anything, please reach out to Pastor Jon via phone or email (jonathonvanderwall@gmail.com) or a consistory member and you will get a call-back either from him or someone from the consistory.
We close this message with the following Scripture from Ephesians 6:10-20,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for [us], that whenever [we] speak [or whatever we do], words [and actions] may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that [we] may declare it fearlessly, as [we] should.

 

May the Lord Bless you and keep you,

May the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you,

May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace, now and always,

Amen.



Take Christ Out of Christmas!

Reading

Read John 17

Meditation

I have heard, particularly in the circles that I find myself in, a phrase that is consistently spoken during the holiday season: “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas!”  Largely this has been a response to what is seen as a movement toward ‘politically correct’ speech that acknowledges that there are other holidays, even holy days, that people celebrate.  There are a number of celebrations that take place across different religions, ethnicities, and cultures.  No attempt will be made to list them all for fear of missing one.  Each, however, is important to the people group that celebrates it.
 
The fight to not remove Christ from Christmas is important, to an extent.  Certainly, Christ-followers believe that the Incarnation is more than just a special birth.  We believe that the coming of Jesus heralds God’s great work of making salvation possible for us.  Jesus, Himself, says that He is the only way to the Father.  Christians should, by that standard, uphold the importance of this event we celebrate on December 25.
 
That said, I also think that we should take Christ out of Christmas.  I do not mean we should celebrate a holiday only called “mas”, which is arguably more appropriate a name for a holiday fraught with materialism and consumerism.  What I am advocating for in, in fact, Christians making a concerted effort to have Christ in their everyday lives.  We should be fighting just as hard for Christ at Christmas as we should for Christ on December 26 or May 8.  Our Savior deserves the primary place in our everyday lives.

 Action

So how do we do this?  I’m sure there are many ways that we could make this a reality for our lives.  One way I suggest, for this upcoming year, is committing to a Bible reading plan.  God’s Word for us is His revelation of Himself to humanity.  So, for us to keep (or place) God at the center of our lives, we need to be in His Word.
 
The following link is to a year-long reading place.  It follows the story of Scripture in a Chronological way.
 
 
This link is an invitation.  It is a space to read together through this journey and to talk about what we are hearing.  There is no pressure to make it through in the designated time, no shame for missing a day.  This is simply an opportunity to read together, to talk together, and to take Christ out of Christmas and keep Him with us each and every day.
 
Will you join me?


Advent Day 25: Incarnation

Reading

 Meditation

At the risk of being over-repetitive, the Incarnation of the Word is one of the top three events that creation has ever experience.  Though I wouldn’t dare rank them, as the other two would be the death of Jesus and His resurrection, I would argue that these other two wouldn’t have happened without His birth.  The events we celebrate at Christmas set all of Jesus’s life in motion.  They pave the way for Salvation to be won for humanity.
 
While we often celebrate the fact that Jesus has “come to us,” we must also be wary of such language.  The angels announce to the shepherds, “unto you is born this day…”  We, when hearing this, and in our celebrations must be careful.  Contemporary Christianity has pushed a sort of individualized religion, one that puts the emphasis solely on ourselves.  This can be quite dangerous.
 
When we think about the reality of God becoming flesh, we must not uncouple it with the mission of God either.  Certainly, we can say with confidence that Jesus came for “us.”  We must, however, never forget that Jesus came for “them” as well.  This is the reality of the Incarnation.
 
As the Word of God “puts on flesh,” He doesn’t just come to those who “have it all together.”  He comes precisely because no human does.  We are sometimes tempted to differentiate ourselves as those who have “the true meaning of Christmas.”  Those who don’t believe, or perhaps aren’t like us, are forgotten.
 
Yet this is the exact opposite message of the Incarnation.  God had every right to keep His distance from humanity.  Instead, though, He jumps right in.  He becomes like us in every way, the writer of Hebrews says.  What would happen if we took on that same outward-focused love?  Like Paul, who “became all things to all people, in order to win some for Christ,” would we be willing to go out from “us” to “them” in the name of our Incarnate, loving, Savior?
 
Maybe that is what Christmas is really all about.

 Prayer

Almighty and Everlasting God,
No human language possesses an adequate expression of thanks for what You have done for us.
The true meaning of Your Incarnation is truly beyond our comprehension.
Yet, even in the magnitude of this event, we recognize You becoming one of us.
You took on our flesh and our life, and eventually our sin on the cross.
Even while we were still Your enemies, You came for us.
Help us to remember this true meaning of Christmas,
and to see those around us, those who we may tend to avoid,
with Your loving eyes and Your heart of mercy.
May we always seek to bring the message of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior,
to all those within the spheres of our lives,
and those outside of those spheres as well.
Amen.


Advent Day 24: Born to Reign

Reading

 Meditation

On Christmas Eve, my family would often find ourselves reflecting on the Luke 2 narrative of Jesus’ birth, whether at church or as we celebrated with our family.  It was a good moment for us to meditate on the events that we celebrate every Christmas.
 
It is, however, this passage in Isaiah, as well as other prophecies throughout the Old Testament that help to paint the bigger picture of the significance of the Incarnation of Jesus.  God didn’t come to earth to set up some manner of earthly Kingdom.  He didn’t come just to throw off an oppressive government or dispose of some tyrannical leader.  Jesus didn’t follow the pattern that was set down in many of the mythological stories of demi-gods and the like.
 
Rather, Jesus came to restore the justice and righteousness that was originally created in and for this world.  Instead of riding in on a white horse, armed for war, Jesus arrives as a helpless infant.  His goal, unlike the human rulers of the world, was to serve.  His mission was accomplished through his sacrifice.
 
The names that Isaiah gives this Messiah ironically contrast our human expectations.  The Mighty God humbled Himself to become human.  The Everlasting Father became mortal, subject to death by those He created.
 
Though He brought peace to the world, He was despised and rejected.  Yet despite all of this, His greatness is unparalleled and unmatched.  He meets all of our needs, the provider of all things in heaven and on earth.  And He will continue to as well, for all eternity.
 
As you think, reflect, and remember Christ’s birth this year, think beyond the manger in the stable.  The true picture of Christmas is world-changing.  From this point, nothing would ever be the same because salvation has come.

 Prayer

Jesus Christ, Wonderful Counselor,
We thank You for coming into the world for us.
You are the great King, the whole earth bows before you.
As we meditate on Your birth this Christmas,
help us to see the greater picture of all You have done and continue to do in our lives.
We worship You, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Our voices join with the angels singing “glory to God in the highest.”
Continue to establish Your Kingdom, Your Righteousness, and Your Peace in us,
each and every day of our lives.
Amen.


Advent Day 23: Timing and Purpose

Reading

 Meditation

Paul does a lot of work throughout his writings in the New Testament to interpret and apply the life and teachings of Jesus.  In doing so, he lays out for us exactly what the impact that Jesus’ life has on the world and, particularly, in the life of believers.  Here, we read some of his interpretation and application of what we celebrate as Christmas.
 
As we have seen over the past couple of weeks, the timing, arrival, and events of the birth of Jesus were perfectly orchestrated by God to fulfill all of the prophecies in scripture about Jesus.  God did not leave out a single detail.  Mathematically speaking, the odds of Jesus fulfilling all of the prophecies about him are astronomical.  Some people have placed this statistical probability at greater than 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power.  That is a 1 with 157 zeros behind it!
 
To put this in perspective, the chances of winning the lottery are roughly 1 chance in 302,600,000.  Additionally, the chance of getting struck by lightning twice in a lifetime is only 1 in 9,000,000.  So, for one man to fulfill all of the prophecies of Scripture about the Messiah, the chances are inconceivable and practically impossible.  Yet, for God, nothing is impossible; He makes the impossible possible.
 
Along with this, Paul also points out that Jesus’ birth happened at just the right time.  God had been working toward this for a long time, over 2,000 years in fact.  All that time was spent working out the events of history and the necessary details for Christ’s arrival.  Though it seems like a long time for us, with God a 1,000 years is like a single day.
 
While it is amazing to see God’s work over a long period of time in Scripture, we don’t always enjoy the waiting and patience that are often required in our own lives for God to work.  Once again, though, we see very clearly the faithfulness of God.  His promises are true and certain.  For us, what we see in God’s past work gives us assurance and hope for the ultimate accomplishment of His work in us and in the world.
 
Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection are all living proof of this.

 Prayer

Everlasting God,
In You, all things life and move and have their being.
The whole universe exists by You, for You, and to You.
We thank you for creating us, for providing for us, and for being faithful to us.
You have shown us the fullness of Your love in sending Jesus to this world.
Through Him, You adopt us as Your own children and give Your Spirit to us.
Help us to be constantly and consistently aware of Your work,
and of Your loving and guiding presence in our lives.
May our lives reflect Your love for us and the Good News of salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.


Advent Day 22: Great Gifts

Reading

 Meditation

Anyone familiar with the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth knows that the gifts that the Magi brought were that of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The significance of these gifts, though, has been lost for us over time and cultural context.  With the rise of the use of Essential Oils in our culture, things like frankincense and myrrh are readily available to anyone.  In a booming economy, and in an increasingly cashless society, obtaining gold seems unnecessary and rather old school.
 
Yet, for Jesus and His family, these gifts had incredible value.  Frankincense and myrrh were both rare spices that had a variety of uses.  Gold, back then, as it is supposed to be even now, was the base and foundation of currency.  These were indeed great gifts.
 
More than that, however, is the reality that their bringing these gifts was also a fulfillment of prophecy.  Psalm 72:10 says, “May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him.”  Isaiah 60:6 prophecies to this event saying, “…and all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”  Both foretell the eventuality of the Magi’s presence and presents to the coming Messiah.
 
Myrrh, especially, was an oil of great value in those days.  Scripture records it as a gift that is “fit for a king.”  Incidentally, the women who wrapped Jesus’ body after His death also used myrrh as they prepared to bury Him.  Could this have been a foreshadowing of something to come?  It certainly seems possible.
 
One thing that Matthew would have wanted the reader of His Gospel to see, though, is that Jesus was the Messiah, the true King of the Jews.  His majesty and royalty have divine acknowledgment.  Gentiles and Jews alike come to worship Him and offer gifts.  Though His birth is humble, and the location almost humorous, all of the “normal” nods of divinely appointing kingship are there.

Prayer

Lord God,
All authority, dominion, and power belong to You.
Only You can grant these to another, and You have done so to Your Son, Jesus.
At His arrival here on earth, the angels sang,
kings and peasants alike bowed down.
Even in the highest heavens, stars shown out there light in glory to Him.
We worship You, today, Lord as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Help us to acknowledge Your Lordship in our lives,
and live You at the center of who we are.
In Jesus Name, we pray, Amen.


Advent Day 21: Ulterior Motives

Reading

 Meditation

Scripture records the conversation between Herod and the Magi, not revealing at that moment what Herod’s goal actually was.  For the early hearer of this narrative, especially hearing for the first time, this would have cast Herod in a positive light or created some suspense.  We, however, know very well that Herod’s intentions were ultimately to kill young Jesus.  Doing so would have eliminated any threat to Herod’s power or throne.
 
I find it interesting, here, that God even allowed for this to happen.  Certainly, the star could have led the Magi in a different direction.  At the very least, the Magi, in Jerusalem, could have sought out religious leaders rather than the tyrannical and homicidal King Herod.
 
God, however, does not stop or inhibit the interaction between Herod and the Magi.  Herod is now aware of the existence of Jesus and the place in which He was born.  Perhaps we can be thankful, though, that Herod only sent the Magi rather than going with them.  Tomorrow, we will also read that God does eventually intervene, sending the Magi home by another route, thus thwarting Herod’s sinister plans.
 
The question that Scripture raises here, even if it is peripheral to the narrative, is why God would allow for this in the first place.  It seems like allowing for these interactions to take place jeopardizes the young and seemingly helpless life of His Son.
 
We journey through life experiencing similar questions.  Addressing the question of evil in the world when we worship and all-powerful God is certainly beyond the ability of this single reflection.  It is enough to say, however, that evil’s reality in the world, and its impact on our lives is undeniable.
 
If we are to read this narrative and note the question of evil’s presence, we also must recognize the reality of God’s providence.  Why God allows for the Magi to talk to Herod is somewhat of a mystery.  Later we will see that Jesus’ family must go to Egypt to fulfill prophecy.  At the moment, though, it seems somewhat dangerous and counter-productive.  Yet God IS still at work here, and out of this comes yet another fulfillment of God’s promises.
 
Sometimes it is hard to see in the difficult moments of our lives, but God is always at work.  What He is doing can be hard to see and articulate.  Usually, it is after the fact that we get a clearer picture.  In fact, in our lives, looking back on God’s faithfulness in the past can help us to trust Him in the future.

 Prayer

Faithful God,
You are the great Provider and Sustainer of all things.
Jesus points out that, just as You provide food for animals and adornment for flowers,
and that for us You always give us all that we need.
We are blessed far beyond what we could ask or imagine.
Thank You for your faithfulness in our lives through good times and bad.
Help us, as we experience trials, to remember your steadfast presence in the past.
May it give us assurance of your continued provision and work in our lives,
both for the present struggles and for those to come.
You hold us in the palm of Your hand and never let us go.
We thank You for this, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Advent Day 20: Herod

Reading

 Meditation

Herod the Great was the ruler of Judea from 37 to 4 B.C.  He is widely known for the major building projects he undertook during his reign to improve the country and also to expand the area of the second Temple in Jerusalem.  He is equally known for a tyrannical rule fraught with suspicion, executions of his only family members and wives, and the Matthew 2 account of the executions of possibly hundreds of baby boys in an attempt to kill Jesus.
 
Why then, we have to ask, would the Magi visit such a person?  Quite simply because Jerusalem and even Herod himself would have been the natural starting place in a search for the next “King of the Jews.”  In the same way that if we were to look for the next president, we would (perhaps sadly) start our search in Washington D.C.  Being that the Magi were from out of town, they may not have known the true stories or nature of King Herod either.
 
Regardless, what was once a secret to Herod was now made known and his goal was to capitalize on it.  Being known for executing anyone that was a power threat, we assume that this was Herod’s plan for Jesus as well.  Interestingly, however, is how Herod’s evil plan plays right into God’s plan and the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.  More on that in the coming days.
 
God uses Herod and others in the Jerusalem context in a couple of ways, not the least of which is a direction for the Magi.  Once again, though, we have to note God’s use of people that are evil.  No depth of depravity can spoil God’s will.  In fact, we see confirmed, here again, Jesus’ fulfillment of His prophetic birthplace.  And, as we will see, God’s use of the enemy’s evil intent to bring about His will once again.  No matter how dire the circumstance, God can and will use each situation to work His will for the world.

 Prayer

Sovereign God,
Even in the darkest of times, you are at work.
From nothing, you created everything,
out of tragedy, You bring greatness and fulfillment beyond comprehension.
We praise you for Your constant and vigilant work in our lives and in the world.
Thank You for Your constant faithfulness to us,
and for How You have worked to bring to fulfillment everything that You have promised.
Help us to recognize Your hand at work in us,
and use us to accomplish Your will in our lives and in the world around us.
We pray this in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ, Amen.