Monday, March 8, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/8/10

“Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man; Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings. The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah. I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD. O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”
Psalm 140:1-7

In a world where sin and sorrow, where brutality and pain seem to come so easily, in a world where anguish and agony seem so near at hand and the poor and the downtrodden, the weak and the oppressed are at the mercy of the unrighteous, why call out to the Lord? Why cry out to God seeking His deliverance? Why pray for His protection?

It seems as if the gloomy clouds of despair are everywhere as we look upon the trouble and the hardship of this temporal existence. We wonder how it could be that, for as far as we have advanced as a civilization and a people, slavery and captivity, persecution and subjugation could still exist. We hear the cries of those taken hostage by pirates and we feel the pangs of loss as the innocence of those who are bought and sold amidst the sex trade is ripped away, we see the tyranny of hostile governments that hold life cheap as they rip from their people all that they are and all that they ever hope to be, and there is this lingering thought in the back of our mind. Where could God be in all of this?

It strikes us kind of funny, kind of strange, because, as much as we have placed our trust in Him, as much as we have relied on His promises amidst the assurances that He has offered unto us, it seems as if He is absent in all of this. If He was truly there, if He was truly concerned with the affairs of us mere mortals journeying in this temporal plane, why can’t He just give us some sort of sign? Why can’t He just offer some sort of miracle to let us know that He is there and that He is at work to put it all to flight?

As much as we may tell ourselves “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) we want to see….

We want to see, to sit back and to hope for it is not enough for us anymore. We want to see the hand of God at work, we want to see it raised against the wicked and the unrighteous, we want to see it lifted to protect and preserve the prisoner and the hostage, the captive and the slave against any form of oppression that would be so inflicted against them. We want to see it in the way that God reveals Himself unto us as we come to see the miracles that He is capable in this life and in this world.

Yet, sometimes it doesn’t work that way. We may hope on the big miracles or the big performances from God but it’s not always the way that He does things, no matter how much we may want that. Sometimes His will and His ways, His justice and His liberty are performed in the smallest of ways which, after the fact, are revealed to be the greatest of wonders as He uses the most unlikely of means to show His grace and mercy, His compassion and love unto the world.

That is the lesson of David amidst the Psalm… God doesn’t always work in the ways that we want Him to, nor does He always move in the ways we think He should, but, even in that, there is one way that God always does work to reveal His truth and His righteousness in to reveal Himself unto the world….

The greater the struggle, the more apparent the danger, the harder the adversity, the more earnestly we should pray, calling upon the name of the Almighty, seeking to see Him in all that we see before us. After all, we are promised that “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) As it was with the Children of Israel in even the most ancient of days, so it is with us as we draw hope from the Words of the Lord that tell us, “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?” (Deuteronomy 4:7)

In this we can put our faith, we can place our hope in the promise of that blessing that tells unto us that when God is on our side, when we draw Him closer to us, there is nothing that can stand against us. We shall claim the full authority that we are given in Christ Jesus as the beloved children of our Heavenly Father and He shall be there to show unto us that His love and light shall always be made manifest in the lives of His people.

What a hope, what an assurance that is for each of us as the redeemed lambs, protected by the Good Shepherd who offers so much care unto us as we live our lives in the promises He has made to us.

Question not the presence of the Lord. Pray to Him, cry out to Him, scream out to Him knowing that He is there, that He is always there. Hold Him true to the promises that He has made to protect His people and remind Him of the suffering that is going on in the world today as you uplift those in any sort of need or trouble. Let not the anguish of this temporal existence take you captive, but live in the freedom of the Lord, our God, knowing that where His Spirit is there is liberty.

When we do that, when we live like that we shall forever know that we are given a blessed hope, regardless of what this world may offer, regardless of what this world may throw at us, for we have finally come to see the true face of the Lord, and we know that it is capable of so much for us in our lives. As His eyes were raised to Moses, as His ears were lifted to David, so too then shall His heart be extended to us as it encompasses us in the loving kindness of His gracious precepts and a light shall be lit to lead even the most lost of souls, even the most captive of spirits to the places where God does dwell in the limitless possibilities of His transcending mercy.

Then shall we rest in peace in the green pastures of His love knowing that when the moment was upon us God moved in the most significant of ways, even if we couldn’t see it for what it was at the time, to rescue His children, ransoming them from the dark powers of this corporeal plane that so threatened them and the dignity of that gift of the time of grace that He has given unto them.

Lord, grant this unto us all.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

First Prayer:

O Lord, our hearts are stirred by the plight of those who struggle amidst adversity and bondage. To You, the refuge and the rock of strength, do we then flee. Gird Your people with the sword of Your truth, and shelter them with the shield of Your righteousness. Give courage to the wounded, bring peace to the fallen, stand in triumph before the wicked bound by their iniquity.

For how long Lord must we cry out for Your divine judgment and Your righteous decrees to be the light and the lamp in the lost and hidden places of this world? For how long Lord must we yearn for justice in the face of wickedness, for liberty in the presence of slavery, for freedom against bondage and captivity?

Show the presence of Your authority in this world to all who suffer and struggle as the chains have fallen on them. Show the power of Your might to all who find themselves at the mercy of the dark forces that would seek to so ensnare them, just as You have now with the crew of the Thai Union Three.

Captured and held amidst the iniquity of the transgressions of those who would stand before You and defy Your laws, Your decrees of love and compassion, mercy and grace, these men have finally been restored. As we praise You for that, giving honor to Your holy name for their safe return, we cannot help but find that our hearts remain heavy as we consider the bondage still existing amidst this temporal plane.

Off the coast of Madagascar a Norwegian Tanker has been seized. For the crew of the UBT Ocean do we seek and implore Your mercy. Be beside these who have been taken, be their strength in their hour of need as courage seems so fleeting and hope lost amidst the deepest of challenges that now threaten to overtake them. Guide them by Your light and, in Your time, restore them to freedom that adversity and struggle shall be set to flight and they shall find themselves once more returned to their homes and their families to heal.

Receive the souls of the 500 Christians murdered in Nigeria. Bring them before Your throne and give unto them a place with Your fallen saints and martyrs of days past that they may find glory in Your Kingdom as You gather them in the Holy Places to give them the peace that had so eluded them in this world.

Set to flight the wickedness in that country that would slaughter the weak and the innocent. Declare Yourself the enemy of those who would persist in such darkness and show mercy to their victims that finally Your judgments shall be seen rightly as a force forever standing against brutal iniquity as the plight of the suffering is shown to be Your chief concern.

Then shall Your righteousness be the ever present force glorified by all who see in You all authority as Your will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Second Prayer:

Let all the people in all the world, in all the low valleys and all the high hills, in endless plains and the darkest caves, hear Your name O Lord. Let them hear it as a call of Your righteousness, as the cause of Your compassion, that all wickedness and iniquity that would so enslave the hearts and minds, the spirits and the souls of the people shall be put to flight amidst Your divine truth.

As our mouths speak forth the names of the prisoners and the hostages, the captives and the slaves hear their cries and draw them close to You amidst their struggles and their adversity. Show Your face unto them even in the hidden places that they have now found themselves amidst and lift Your heart to them that they may be strengthened in the perseverance of Your promises according to Your sacred love for them.

Let this struggle be a journey home unto them that they may be restored to the places they are held from and they might find themselves with those whom they love so dearly, and who care for them so greatly, that finally their pain shall be dispersed like the gloomy clouds of night at the break of Your glorious dawning.

Show to those who dwell amidst wickedness that their trust is placed in the weak and the fragile, in that which shall be shattered by Your touch as Your authority is brought into this world. Set their ways to flight and bring them to the divine justice of Your will as they come to see they have made themselves enemies of Your decrees. Show them that they may be brought to repentance, turning from the darkness in their hearts to the light of Your love as they put behind themselves the hatred and the pain that once guided their path and they become a force for freedom in this world according to Your design.

Let not Your people suffer longer Lord. Put to flight all bondage and captivity, whether of the mind or the spirit, the body or the soul. Let not Your people find their hearts grow heavy amidst poverty and destitution, sickness and disease, intolerance and hatred of this world, but set them free that they may come to the truth of Your righteousness as they are set to liberty knowing there is a God who shall always stand beside them.

Then shall all know that grace and compassion, mercy and love shall be the blessed assurances of Your Word that shall forever be the miracle that guides us in this life.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

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