Bruce Hindmarsh: Newton on the Spiritual Life
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Bethany post: Enemies of God
When Jesus went to Gethsemane, it was not just human adversaries he was facing – soldiers, guards, even one of his friends turned traitor. “It was the concentration of all those unseen forces that opposed the kingdom of God because they knew it to be the powerful opponents of their own kingdom-dreams,” N.T. Wright observes in The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today.
It was, “the forces of oppression and violence, the unseen pull that makes people fight rather than be reconciled, that makes them choose brutality rather than humanity, tribe rather than world, self rather than God. These forces had opposed Jesus throughout his public career, sometimes shrieking at him from the lips of some poor deranged spirit, sometimes carping at him in the sneers of the religious, sometimes issuing threats against him from the royal palace.”
Today, your enemies are the same. The evil one and his minions mock your great name and blind people from seeing your glory. You are spoken against and demeaned throughout the world. Our culture is full of blasphemy. The evil one taunts your church, saying, “Do not let Christians deceive you, saying the Lord will deliver you. Surely the cross is foolishness.” His ability to spread discord and enmity is great and his manipulation and subtlety is clever.
Therefore, Lord, we pray as the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 71, “May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace.” When those who seek injustice are victorious, your justice is trampled upon. When those who seek to wield the weapons of anger and mischief succeed, your peace and prosperity are mocked. Therefore, come into the battle and fight for your people and your name. Shame those who speak against you – even as you call them to know you. Come and show what your bare arm can do!
May all who seek you – even your enemies whose hearts we pray would return to you – rejoice and be glad! Arise and wake up to bless your people so that your name will not be shamed among your revilers. May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” For, in you, we take refuge; let us never be put to shame. For your righteousness reaches the heavens. You have done great things. O God, there is none but thee.
Posted by Jim Grayson at 7:28 AM
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Bethany post: God's Mercy in our Rejection
We confess that we stand in a long line of your people who have rejected your leadership. When the Israelites demanded, “Give us a king to lead us”, you lamented because you wanted to be their king. You even warned them that a king would take their land and resources without solving their problems.
But they did not listen. Instead, they said, “We want a king! Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” They did not meditate and muse on your promises: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
In your great mercy, however, you gave them many good kings who sought your face. Solomon, for example, asked for things that would bless others. He prayed in Psalm 72, “Give the king your justice, O God … May he judge your people with righteousness.” He also prayed for things that would benefit himself: “Long may [the king] live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! … May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!”
But he tethered his requests to the great reality of knowing you as the ultimate king: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever, may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!” When he asked for blessings, he asked them for the sake of your glory. That by his rule, all people would know that you are king.
Today, we ask you to bless our leaders for the sake of your glory. Give them your justice that they may rule us with righteousness. Give them courage to defend the poor against the oppressor. Give them wisdom to make difficult decisions with limited information. May they be like rain that falls on mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In their days, may the righteous flourish and peace abound.
Over all of this, however, we pray that they might know you. May they fear you while the sun endures. May they fall down before you. May your name endure forever.
Amen and Amen.
Posted by Jim Grayson at 9:00 AM
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Todd Billings: God is Bigger Than My Cancer
Does God Owe Me 80 Years?
Groaning Before the Lord
Hoping Enough to Lament
A Joy Bigger than Cancer
Posted by Jim Grayson at 7:15 AM