A Prayer Prompted by Luke 19

Dear Father in Heaven,

Your Son Jesus Christ deserves all the devotion, all the praise and all the commitment that we can possibly give. He is worthy of even more.

He has said that you have given him all authority in heaven and on earth. We need to willingly give him all authority over every part of our lives.

We willingly offer you our talents, relationship, treasure, the truth as much as we know it, and our time. All that we have is from you, so we offer it back to you as yours for us to use in your service.

As stewards we want to be faithful.

And we wait for your Son to return from heaven and begin his earthly rule as King.

So we pray in his name,

Amen

 

Faith that overcomes – 1 John 5:4-5

The truest kind of faith thrives in situations where it looks like it is losing.  The Christian martyrs of old, and for that matter, of the present day, die passively.  They may anger and irritate their attackers, but they clearly do not oppress them.  They are and look like victims.  One might imagine they were defeated souls who were finally giving up, and in a way that is true.  There is a sense in which faith is a form of surrender, not to the bully, but to Christ.  It is evidenced by taking up our cross and following him.

The Apostle John wrote the following after all of his fellow apostles had already met untimely deaths at the hands of their persecutors.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Faith lives while imprisoned, exiled and sometimes put to death.  If we think an overcoming faith needs to look victorious on the outside we get it wrong.  It doesn’t have to look like anything in particular.  Paul knew this when he said, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7).  Faith may be inspiring, but it is not intimidating.  

The important thing about faith is that it just keeps going no matter what happens to it.  Consider that the words faith, faithful and faithfulness are all related in the languages of the Bible as they are English.  At times, in fact, the word translated in the Bible as “faith” needs to be translated as “faithfulness.”  For example, in Romans 3:3, “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?”

So a wavering, sometimes uncertain faith can still be real.  The faith of the underdog may be more authentic than the faith of the perpetual champion.  The champion is certainly more tempted to trust completely in himself and his abilities.  The faith that is baffled by circumstances, but nonetheless rises to meet its next challenge, may be the greatest faith of all.  G. K. Chesterton summed it up nicely.

Faith is always at a disadvantage; it is a perpetually defeated thing which survives all its conquerors.*

 

* Chesterton, G. K.. The G. K. Chesterton Collection [50 Books] . Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition, location 87385

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 7

Dear Father in heaven,

We come before you in humility knowing that in ourselves there is nothing that would make us worthy to have you listen to our prayers.  We truly have nothing to offer but our faith in Christ.  We know that he came to proclaim forgiveness to sinners like ourselves, so we ask you to cleanse us of our sins.

We ask you to make us faithful intercessors, much like the centurion, with respect to those we love. Please hear the prayers that we offer up for others.

Help us to remain faithful in the midst of our own trials, even as John had to remain faithful in prison.

And as we recognize how great your forgiveness has been toward us, make us people who would show you great love.

In Christ,

Amen.

The old man at the temple – Luke 2:22-32

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

This text does not exactly say that Simeon was old, but I’ve always pictured him that way.  He indicates he is now ready to die and his happy that he can do so in peace, having finally seen Jesus, the child of promise.

I admire the old guy.  His perseverance and faith are worth imitating.  How often are we tempted to give up when we are simply tired of waiting.  The enemy attacks people in their maturity the way a lion might look for a antelope lagging behind the herd. 

But not Simeon.  He was righteous, devout, sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and waiting.  Mostly waiting by this time I would guess.  He knew how to express his faith by his faithfulness.

The thing about perseverance and faith like this is that it is acquired by not giving up.  Does that sound simplistic? Maybe so, but it is not simple.  In fact, it can be hard.  Giving up is relatively easy – you just stop trying.  

But not Simeon.  I pray and commit to not being a quitter either, and I am praying that right now for you.  Like Simeon, the old man at the temple, we should each aspire to someday being that old man or woman in the church.

 

A Prayer for Endurance Prompted by Matthew 10:16-25

Heavenly Father,

Your Son reminded us that sometimes the best we can expect out of this world is trouble. 

His disciples often faced difficulty, opposition and persecution and they endured.  Give us that same kind of strength.

From Christ’s instruction we learn that our worst enemies and betrayers might be those we would expect to be our closest friends.  Those who should love us and those we love may respond with hatred and rejection.  We thank you that Jesus experienced all of this first.  We are certainly no greater than he is.

Help us, Father, to remain steadfast, to be faithful and to endure.  We may desire happiness, comfort, approval and blessings, but they may not be ours at this time.  Just as Jesus endured to the end and was glorified, help us to stand firm knowing that his story did not end at the cross and neither will ours.

If we experience no glory or honor in this world, may our lives still bring glory to him, for Christ is worthy.

Amen.

39 Books: 2 Samuel – The Reign of David

39 Bks Torah Scroll White

2 Samuel: The Reign of David

This book highlights the reign of Israel’s greatest, yet very human, king.

10 2 Samuel.pdf

10 2 Samuel.mp3