Today is Thursday, June 22. For English Christians this is a very special day, for today is the commemoration of Saint Alban's martyrdom. Alban was a Roman soldier stationed in Britain. There was a persecution and Alban had compassion on a Priest who was on the run. The Priest witnessed to Alban and he was converted. When the officers arrived to take the Priest away, Alban put on the Priest's clothes and was taken in his place. Alban refused to renounce Jesus Christ and gave such a powerful witness that his first executioner was converted and joined him on the block right there. He was beheaded for his faith in Christ and became the very first martyr in the British Isles.
CONNECT (Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Sometimes God's calling for us doesn't make us popular even with the people we are trying to serve. Have you ever experienced this?
_ Have you been consistently sharing the love of Christ with another person? Have you seen any transformation in them?
_ Almighty God, in whose service lies perfect freedom: teach us to obey you with loving hearts and steadfast wills; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
DISCOVER [Exodus 5:1-22]
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
_ Why might Pharaoh not want to give the Hebrews rest from their work?
_ What did Pharaoh do to make the Hebrews suffer?
So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”
_ What had changed for the Hebrews from before God met with them?
_ What might be the reaction of the Hebrews to things getting worse and not better?
Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?
_ Who did Pharaoh use to make things worse for the Hebrews?
_ What did the Foremen say to Moses and Aaron? Why?
_ Why is Moses so discouraged?
+ HOW am I compelled to respond to what I learned today with a simple step of action? (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there somewhere in your family, friends, or workplace where you are called to challenge the way things are being done?
_ Are you discouraged by the misunderstanding of others? How can you find strength and faith?
+ WHO are you walking with that you might pass along or encourage what you learned, with today? (e.g., your family around the dinner table, a friend, co-worker or neighbor you are walking with to discover the message Jesus)