Tag Archives: Prayer

The Church Wins!

READ
John 17:1-11

REFLECT
The church has seen a lot of dark days over the past 2,000 years, in the form of persecution. We have all heard the stories of Christians being burned alive as “Nero’s Torches,” illuminating the City of Rome. We have heard (and seen in movies, at least) Christians being thrown to the lions in the Great Coliseum. Today, – though mostly ignored by the Mainstream Media and the “mainline Protestant” denominations, the most vile and violent persecution of Christians is taking place in the Middle East at the hands of the Mohammedan – nothing short of genocide. Europe has been purged ideologically of Christianity and the United States is feeling the same evil wind blowing our way as the faith is publicly mocked and marginalized and in some cases attacked in court.

It all looks rather bleak for the faith…but it is not. The one things the Mohammedan, the secularist, the Cultural Marxist, and others have forgotten, as they gloat like ravenous jackels over wounded prey, is we are not alone in the fight, and ultimately the victory belongs to God and HIS people. The individual Christian might well perish – and as a martyr enter into glory – but the church, which is the body of Christ, is eternal and under God’s protection.

This protection is a certain and sure one because it is asked for by none other than Jesus.

“Holy Father, protect them in your name, that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

The individual might die but the church lives on and ultimately the church on earth will be triumphant. The church will be vindicated and avenged, when Christ returns in his glory, his enemies are destroyed and the nations made his footstool.

In the words of Martin Luther, “Were they take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse, though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day. The kingdom’s ours forever.”

Do not be discouraged. Pray and be of good cheer.

PRAY
Lord Jesus Christ, we trust in you to protect your Church. Helps us, your people, to remain faithful and joyful in the face of marginalization and persecution. Help us who can speak and act on behalf of our oppressed brothers and sisters to do so. By the power of your Holy Spirit, sustain and strengthen those who suffer for the faith.  AMEN.

Advertisements

The Squeaky Wheel.

READ
Luke 18:1-8

REFLECT
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” or as my friend Tony likes to say, “It ain’t a problem ’til its your problem.” Truer words were never spoken.

Often in this world people do not willingly do the things that are right – usually because they take some amount of effort or they distract from what they would rather be doing. No one likes added work. In corporate and government realms no one want so upset the apple cart. People like to maintain the status quo.

By training dogs a good part of my life I have learned a lot about people. If you want to overcome the negative behavior in a dog you have to do one of two things (maybe two of two things). The negative consequence must outweigh the pleasure the dog derives from the unwanted behavior and/or what you replace that unwanted behavior with must give the dog more pleasure than the unwanted behavior. People are no different.

The judge in Luke 18 received a positive benefit from ignoring the woman who sought justice, until her nagging (which was no doubt how he saw it) overwhelmed the positive effect of ignoring her. At that point doing what was asked gave a greater benefit to the judge than ignoring her because he could get to life as he desired it.

How fortunate we are that God does not answer our prayer because He wants to shut us up. He answers them because He loves us. However, he does answer them in his way and in his time. Just like the woman in the gospel account we should continue to petition God to help us and have faith He will. The follow up is to graciously accept His answer knowing that He knows best and has our well being in mind.

PRAY
Merciful God, you are the perfect judge. You are all wise, loving and just. Hear our prayers and help us to have faith in you, to pray always and to trust in your wisdom and love. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN.

Devil on My Left; Angel on My Right

READ
Mark 1:21-28

REFLECT

What unclean spirits live in you? Does one have to be possessed as the man in the Gospel account was to have an unclean spirit living inside of them? Does one need to have an unclean spirit in order to exhibit the fruits of an unclean spirit?

The God-given gift of free will allows us to make the choice between doing the things that God commands or those things that Satan tempts us to do. We can either invite the Holy Spirit in us or allow (often through passive disregard for God’s Word) another spirit to be our influence. Free will does not operate in a vacuum. It truly is like the old cartoon with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

So what is our defense against the influences of Satan – that little devil on our left shoulder? The sure defense is prayer and the Word of God being an active part of our lives, rather than an after thought when convenient or when we need something. As it says in Ephesians 6:10-18 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the Devil.”

PRAY
Lord God, send your Spirit upon me that I might turn to you in times of temptation. Fill me with your Word so I might be made deaf to the whisperings of Satan. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.

Preparing a Place for the Lord

READ
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

REFLECT
“Our Father who art in Heaven, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” So begins the Lord’s Prayer with these words, but what do they mean?

In the late 19th century, Liberal theology envisioned these words to mean we are to prepare our earthly home so that it would be a place for the Lord to dwell – in essence making the world ready for Christ to return, as if the world was really ready for His first appearance. In our times certain sects who follow “rapture ideology”  look to a similar idea – in essence “forcing” (my words not theirs) Jesus to return by making prophecy, as they understand it, happen. This is usually centered around rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, leading to a sort of “Christian Zionism,” an “ism” that many Jews find disturbing and self-serving.

But what does it really mean to prepare a place for the Lord to dwell? For David it meant preparing an appropriate and holy place for the Ark of the Covenant to reside, thought this task was to fall upon his son Solomon. We see this reflected in the placement of tabernacles in some churches to house the consecrated body and blood of Christ – rather than sticking it in a cupboard somewhere, which is tantamount to leaving the Ark in a tent.

Making heaven on Earth, restoring the Temple, building a resting place for the Ark, tabernacles in churches: while all might have their merits, they all miss the point to some degree. Indeed, God’s best and most precious dwelling place on Earth is in our hearts and it is in our hearts where God can truly be with us and thus be most efficacious. No better manifestation of God can be found that Jesus Christ.

Advent is drawing to a close, but before we leave this more important season of the church year it is important that we reflect on what John the Baptist called us to – preparing the way for the Lord, and on what Mary evidenced in her joy at being blessed to carry the Christ child.

Both examples are calls to not only develop a deeper relationship with God in Christ Jesus but also to find joy in it; not seeing pray or worship as a burden or obligation but as our greatest privilege and delight – as a calling. This relationship is not something to be confined to an hour on Sunday that must be completed in order to get to coffee and cake.

Soon we will enter the Christmas season and celebrate the manifestation of God’s Word in our world. If we see Christmas as the epitome of the God/human relationship we should strive, as Charles Dickens said in the words of his reformed Scrooge, to honor Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year. This is culmination of the Advent message of the return of the King and God dwelling with us.

Let us strive to continuously prepare a place in our heart for the Lord to dwell and do so joyfully.

PRAY
Heavenly Father, come into our hearts by the manifestation of your Son Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus dwell within us teaching us to love and be loved. Holy Spirit strength us and encourage us to walk in close relationship with God and with one another.  AMEN.