Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/9/10

David and Goliath, Guido Reni, 17th century

“Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah. As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them. Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again. Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.”
Psalm 140:8-13

Even the wicked, dwelling amidst their own unrighteousness, shall find that they are at the mercy of the Lord God Almighty, and that their desires are subject to the power and the authority of His divine will. He will not be the accomplice of their malice hearts, nor shall they be allowed to persist for all ages, in all things, for, in His grace and love, in His compassion and understanding, He shall frustrate the designs of their hearts and prove unto them that the ultimate power rests in His hands.

That is perhaps hard for us to comprehend. After all, with might do they roar like lions seeking to devour the sheep of the Lord’s flock, like the serpent of the ground they slither with venom in their bite as they bring pain and suffering into the lives of the people. If God then can stop them, if He can put to flight the evil and the chaos and the darkness that the sinful bring into this world, scattering them until finally their malevolent plans are destroyed then why does He not? Why does not hear the cries of His people as they call out to Him in captivity and bondage, slavery and oppression? Why does He not then bring liberty in the deeper yearning of His people for justice in a world that so often seems to be unjust in its ways?

The man after God’s own heart, David understood that feeling all too well. Enemies often times seemed to surround him. Even those who had once called themselves his friends had turned from him and rose up against him. Now they had hemmed him in, they encircled him a lot like a band of hunters encircled their prey, waiting to strike that final blow, and declare their triumph. As the psalm was written the enemies that had arose against him were so united and seemed so encompassing that they were described as having but one head.

Once God had told to David that He would raise him up to be a great king, He had made him into the champion of Israel as He stood in that valley before Goliath and miraculously claimed the victory with the armour of God being all that was girded about Him for His protection. Now though he had to wonder if he still found the favour of the Lord. His life was held cheap, his death seemed so near at hand, as, all around him, his enemies approached, ready to deal that final blow to claim His life.

So often do we find that we are like David in his psalm, calling out to the Lord that the finally oppression and tyranny, and the death that it brings shall be ended. We look to the plight of those who suffer amidst the brutal subjugation of this temporal existence and we struggle to find answers as we are filled with sorrow. We cry out to the Lord that the plans of the wicked, that the designs of the unrighteous, those who hold life cheap and without an intrinsic value to it, are finally called to before His throne to give an accounting for what they have done as they have declared themselves enemies of the Lord and the love that we are taught in the Messiah. Yet, so often it’s not they who are frustrated, but us as we watch them set the world ablaze.

David refused to give up hope...

Regardless of what the situations told Him, regardless of what the struggles were that laid their before him, regardless of the challenges and the adversity, He would pray to the Lord. He would lift up His voice to His God and he would call out to Him knowing that He was the God of the poor and the afflicted, the weak and the downtrodden, forever faithful to His Word, forever faithful to the blessed assurances of His promises.

So it was for David, so it should remain for us...

God may not reveal Himself unto the world as He did in the days of the Prophets and the Kings, He may not appear in the same manner and the works of His hand may not be seen in the same way. Yet that does not mean that He is any less there than He had been at any point in history. The Lord does not change (Malachi 3:6) and Christ Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday and forever shall be. (Hebrews 13:8) Just as they were in the most ancient of days, then the wicked and the righteous share one common bond, the Lord has the ultimate authority over them.

Why then does it seem as if the wicked hold the strength? Why have their plans not been frustrated by the hand of God moving against them?

Humanity represents a rebellious race. God did not create us as robots without consciousness or a sense of will. So often then is the case that we turn our hearts and our minds, our thoughts and our focus from the Lord and pursue our own ways as we leave the path of His righteousness. This is when evil enters into the world, this is when captivity and bondage seem so near at hand and death comes so easily to us.

Just because God does not then just strike the wicked down where they stand does not mean that He is not there, nor does it mean that He is indifferent to the plight and the struggles of those who find themselves at the hands of the evil and the unrighteous. A God of mercy He has show that His primary means of working in this world to bring about love and justice are irreversibly tied together through the redemption that is offered in Christ Jesus. Thus, rather than just smiting those who bring so much pain into this world He works in them and through them by the power of the Spirit to bring them to a true and sincere repentance, to a true and sincere sense of justice. All that they may abandon their dark path for the light that He offers in the journey amidst this corporeal plane.

It is here then that we understand rightly that He uses the strength of the righteous and the just to work His will as His agents, never willing to forsake one soul that can be saved because we wanted Him to strike them down where they stand. It is then that true justice, the justice that is tempered by compassion, works in this world for the cause of the abiding liberty of all.

We may not always understand that or we may want God to work faster or according to our timing, because we look upon this world and the captivity that it can bring and it causes us so much anguish that it seems like it is more than we can bear, because if this is how we feel in the safety and the comfort of our lives, we can’t even begin to imagine how those bound amidst the chains of this world must feel. But we must trust God and His design, knowing that, though all this persists, ultimately all of the authority and the power rests in His hands as He moves in this world for the cause of His people in the love that He has for them.

It is then that hope, true and lasting, dwells in our hearts as we come to understand the divine nature of our God and the way He moves with us and amidst us.

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

First Prayer:

It is You who makes the earth tremble, it is You on whom all power and authority does rest O Lord. You move through and about the course of human events, weaving Yourself into our lives as Your Spirit moves about.

Turn then Your face upon us... see the hurt and the suffering, the sorrow and the pain that moves amidst the unrighteousness of this world and show forth Your loving kindness in the lives of Your people. Let them not long for justice, let them not cry out for mercy, but move amidst them to bring them that transcending peace that comes from Your hand.

It was when Your love and Your compassion came into this world that Nick Greyling was released in Nigeria. It was when Your strength and Your courage was made manifest that Alexander Effrong escaped from those who held him captive. It was when You revealed Yourself in this world that freedom came and liberty was offered to even the most lost and captive of souls. Amidst that precious gift do we give You praise and honor for the justice that You brought to bear in the lives of Your people.

You have shown Your people the might of Your hand as You have lifted it to be the shelter of protection for these two men. Show then that same love, that same grace, mercy and compassion in the life of Bowie Attamah, still held captive amidst His dark estate and grim bondage.

Let not the unrighteous lay claim over his life, let not the wicked believe that they hold the ultimate authority or the ultimate power in this world. Reveal Yourself unto them and unto this lost soul that he might be brought to peace, once more restored to the people whom he loves and the home that has been ripped from him. Shelter him in Your precepts and carry Him from the lost places he is now held amidst.

Then shall we rejoice in the authority that You claim in the lives of the people as Your mercy comes to bear in this world and through this world.

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:

Deliver Your people from their enemies O Lord, defend them that rise up against them and gird them with Your strength...

Deliver Your people from the hands of those who walk in wickedness and transgression O Lord, that mercy and love shall follow them all the days of their lives....

In the dark, hidden places the unrighteous hide, they set snares and trap Your people amidst brutal captivity and painful iniquity. Pain and sorrow follow them wherever they do walk as suffering comes so near at hand. They feed off of the torment and the torture of others, devoid of Your compassion as they show themselves to be the purveyors of chaos.

For how long Lord? For how long shall they be left to stand? For how long shall we be left to see their power in this world? For how long shall they cast their dark shadows over the lives of the weak and the innocent, those whom they rip the lives from as they hold Your decrees without meaning or value?

Be merciful O Lord. God of deliverance... Be merciful and disperse the dark clouds that cast their shadows over the lives of the people. Be that ever present, ever faithful source of liberty in this world, hearing the names of the captives and the slaves, the prisoners and the hostages. Be the ever vigilant force that forges justice in this world and set them free amidst the power of Your loving kindness.

Heal in them the wounded, broken places, bind their shattered hearts and give unto them hope even in the most hopeless of circumstances, that they shall forever know that the Lord of righteousness stands beside them and that He is the rock and the refuge of their salvation.

Scatter all wickedness that would subjugate and oppress, and bring all who would use tyranny and persecution as their weapons to justice, that they shall forever know the glories of Your ways as their plans are frustrated by Your hand as Your love comes to bear in the lives of Your people, made manifest by Your mercy.

Show to all who suffer in any bondage that You are their God. Let not intolerance and hatred, sickness and disease, poverty and destitution claim their spirits, but cast upon them Your Spirit that they find that they are uplifted and strengthened in all that they are and all that they face.

Then shall we praise Your name, dwelling forever in the glorious mercy of Your tender precepts as we are forever guided by Your hand, seeing Your deliverance and finding that it has guided us to the places where hope and courage shall forever dwell.

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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