Monday, April 5, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 4/5/10

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Romans 12:19

How often?

How often do we long for vengeance? How often do we act out of the want for revenge?

It’s hard isn’t it? To look around at this world and see the evil that men are capable of. Just when we think our capacity to be shocked has been reached, just when we think our capacity to be horrified or terrified has been arrived at and that there are few things about the nature of humanity and the darkness it can bring, we find that there really is no limit to it. It mortifies to no end as darkness is foisted upon the human soul forever ripping our innocence away from us.

So often it fails to make sense to us. But then how could it? We claim to be a civilized people, an enlightened race, and yet, amidst our ranks, there are those who have the capacity for such cruelty against their fellow man. Nothing seems right, everything seems so out of sorts, and we’re left with this lingering feeling that longs for some sense of justice…for any sense of justice in a world that just, all too often has gone mad.

There is nothing wrong with desiring justice. Amidst the wrongs of this temporal existence who doesn’t want them to be set right? Who doesn’t want them to be set straight? Who doesn’t want to see the evil come face to face with righteousness and to fall before it with no real sense of power or authority?

Yet, all too often, our longing for justice, it’s twisted and perverted in us, it is distorted and tainted within our hearts as it is changed amidst our souls. Before long justice is no longer about doing what is moral or honorable, it is not guided by an upright spirit but rather has been run aground by the desire for revenge, for a longing for vengeance, for this belief that the wicked should be struck down where they stand and left to rot where they once had, in their vanity and their hubris, claimed the strength and the power to hold life and death in their hands.

From time to time, who doesn’t want to see that?

Seeing terrorists wage their unholy wars, watching pirates take people hostage, hearing of young girls bought and sold into slavery by human traffickers, finding that in the far corners of the world genocide is still committed against people, it’s not hard to want to see these people suffer, nor is it difficult to desire to see the same pain heaped upon them that they have heaped upon others. All around us there are those who oppress their fellow man, who persecute them and bring so much pain into their lives. Who wouldn’t want to see them then have returned t them the full measure of the sorrow in which they have foisted upon others? After all, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:32)

Reflecting on Easter, its perhaps a good time to reflect on vengeance.

Imagine for a moment that God was driven by the same spirit, by the same urges and lusts as men. Imagine for a moment that God was driven by the same desires as we are driven by as we see evil in this world. Imagine for a moment that God repaid sin with vengeance as He took revenge upon all who transgressed against His law. Who amongst us would be safe from that wrath? Who amongst us would be free from that rage and that anger?

We may claim our sins, they are different than the iniquity of the slave traders and the tyrants, the pirates and the murderers. In our eyes and according to our laws we’re right. Our minor or petty transgressions, they are vastly different than taking hostages, making slaves or murdering innocents. Yet, in the eyes of God they’re not. Sin is sin and they all deserve the same punishment, the same fury from heaven above.

Yet, blessedly for us God, He’s not like us….

Though we were lost in our transgressions, though we were fallen in our iniquities He was merciful unto us and sent unto us redemption. Unwilling to deal with us in anger and in vengeance, He would send His only begotten son to die for us, all that we might find that our transgressions, they have been washed from us. In love He sent Christ that we would not, in anger, be sent wrath, and here we were washed from all guilt and blame as the blemishes of our souls were wiped from our hearts and we were given hope anew.

This is the mercy we are meant to emulate as we are told to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1), this is the love we are told to follow as we are told never to repay evil for evil (1 Peter 3:9) and that vengeance shall always belong not to us but always and forever to the Lord.

Therefore dear brothers and sisters long for justice to be done, for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven that all malice shall be set to flight. Pray for justice to come to bear in the lives of God’s people that integrity shall be restored in the lives of the captives and the slaves, the hostages and the prisoners. But never long for vengeance, never long for God to strike down our enemies or for evil to come upon them.

In humility and mercy pray for the Lord’s enlightenment to come into their lives, that they may repent and turn from their wickedness and their unrighteousness, and if their hearts are hardened to those supplications then pray that the Lord God Almighty shall remove them from the places where they claim power and authority that no longer will they have the strength to cause such harm and pain in the lives of the people.

This is then how you know that you have learned the deeper, abiding lessons of Christ as they encompass your spirit and your soul, guiding you to the true understanding of God’s nature and what it is that He has intended for us in our lives as we look to Him. Then shall His righteousness be our guides as, with a clean heart and a right spirit, we turn our trust and our hope to Him, looking to Him to guide this world to places where peace and hope do dwell in the love and the mercy, the compassion and the grace shown unto us by our Lord and our Savior Christ Jesus.

It is here that cruelty and darkness shall be chased from our hearts as love and mercy the example we offer in even the harshest of circumstances, in even the grimmest of times. Then shall we know that injustice shall be set to flight and true liberty, the liberty that frees humanity from hatred, malice and scorn, shall be the beacon by which we contend for the cause of true freedom in this world, for this world, for all of God’s beloved creation.

Lord, grant this unto us all…

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

First Prayer:

Give ear to our prayers O Lord and hide not Your face from our humblest of supplications…

Listen O God and let Your spirit guide Your people according to Your love…

Attend to the plight and the suffering of Your children as darkness encompasses them and sorrow comes so easily upon them. Let not enemies of Your divine love and Your transcending mercy rise up claiming to have the authority over the lives of Your people. Cast Your eyes upon the sorrow and the anguish that is heaped upon them and let Your compassion come to bear in their lives as they cry out for justice in a lost and fallen world.

It was through Your mercy that three cargo Dhows were released from captivity by Somali pirates. You have frustrated the plans of the unrighteous as they sought to wreck havoc upon the lives of the crews of these ships and have set them free amidst the love that You have for them.

It is in this love and this mercy that we pray for the crew of the Samho Dream now taken by pirates. Stand beside these 24 who have been ripped from their lives by wicked men of brutal iniquity and gird them with Your strength that they might have the endurance to preserver amidst the struggles that now threaten to overtake them. Stand beside these 24 and, in Your time, in Your way, set them free from the bondage that now grips them, carrying them to the places where Your hope does forever dwell, giving peace to the hurt and the afflicted, the wounded and the suffering.

Be beside them in all that they face and in that they find before them that they shall know that there is a God of Deliverance contending forever with their cause in the mercy and the compassion, the grace and the love that He has for them.

Then shall all praise be lifted to Your blessed name for the righteousness of Your justice as it comes to bear in the lives of Your people as they come to know that there is no darkness so grim that it can’t be set to flight by the hope of Your promises unto them.

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:

Be merciful unto Your children O Lord, for this world so threatens them amidst it’s grim power and it’s dark authority that it wishes to assert over the lives of Your people.

Be merciful unto Your people O Lord, for this world so seeks to devour them as it rises up against them in iniquity and pain…

Let not Your creation suffer amidst captivity, let not the works of Your hand find sorrow in slavery, let not destitution and poverty, persecution and oppression grip them, strangling the life from them, but show that it is Your mercy that endures forever as Your love shines forth as a beacon in a dark and gloomy world.

In You shall we place the full measure of our trust…

In You shall we place the full total of our hope…

Be beside Your people in the blessed assurances of Your word that they may not be swallowed by iniquity and unrighteousness as the wicked transgress against them, casting them to pits of anguish and agony, sorrow and suffering. Give unto them Your strength where they are weak, and show unto them that Your grace shall always be sufficient for them through all the days of their lives.

It is You O Lord who can deliver the lost from death…

It is You O Lord who can release the wounded from captivity…

It is You O Lord who can liberate the slaves and the hostages, the prisoners and the captives…

It is You O Lord then that we shall praise for the righteousness of Your divine justice as we commend into Your hands their lives and trust that You shall be faithful to them, forever vigilant in their cause as You work to set them free.

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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