Praying for Leaders – I Timothy 2:1-5

rushmore

We have heard this passage in church, and we KNOW we should pray for our leaders, but HOW should we do it.

I have adapted this from a flier put out by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: (Prayer Guide)

Praying for our Leaders

Fill in the names for where you live. Each day pick one or two to pray for…

President Barak Obama

 Cabinet Members:

 Senators:

 Representatives:

 Supreme Court:

 Military Leaders:

 Governor:

 State legislature:

 Mayor:

 Police Department:

 Sheriff:

 Fire Department:

 Schools and Teachers:

 Social Service Agencies:

 Leaders of Other Nations:

 The front page of the Newspaper

You can pray using words and thoughts from Scripture…

 

  • “Help ______ accept wise counsel.” Prov. 11:14
  •  “Teach ______ to trust in you.” Psalm 21:7
  • “Protect ______ from the influence of the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  • Give ________ wisdom, foresight and understanding in making decisions. I Chronicles 22:12
  • “Protect _______ from harm and bless his/her family. Psalm 21:11
  • Give ________ courage to do the right thing even when urged to do the wrong thing.” Prov 2:11-15
  • Give _______ a tender heart of compassion to those she/he leads and serves. Col 3:12
  • “Bless ______ with strength, endurance and stamina.” I Chronicles 16:11
  • “Help all those, including ______________­­­_____, who help those in need.” 

“I urge…. that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good and pleases God our Savior.”                                                        I Timothy 2:1-3

 

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Two Days in Isaiah 58

Isaiah.the.prophet

As I read the complaint against the people, i see that there are two kinds of days.

The first day seems to be problematic.  See highlights in v. 1-5

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

The issue here is tokenism.  By the standards of faith as checking off the boxes of obligation, they seem to be doing well.  They seek God and fast, or so it would seem. But this kind of day, dedicated to fasting or prayer or procession makes no change in the participants and it makes no change in the community.  The poor are still poor and the workers are still not paid well.

The last verses talk about another day – the Sabbath.  It is a good day:

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

This Sabbath day has the advantage in that it is commanded. In addition, it seems to be important in going beyond tokenism to a transformation.  How is this the case?  It must mean that the Sabbath as intended, was not a day of obligation to be checked off, but a day of rest from work so one can get to know God and his ways.  (notice v. 14)

The Day God chose was a day that was part of a lifestyle of knowing God and keeping his ways.  Not a token day of words without actions.

The Fast that the people chose was token, a show of religion, a way to justify yourself that you are doing something.  The Fast that God chooses is one that is transformational – our lives get a different focus, our goal is to change “structural evil” ( v. 6) and to personally help others (v. 7).

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

We don’t have this in our culture? After all, who keeps a Sabbath any longer?  We don’t. We are hurrying to a benefit concert, a walk for a cause or bringing a canned food item to the football game we rush to each Sunday.

Holy and Worldly – I Peter 2

church front

In the series on “Dual Citizenship” we are looking at I Peter 2.

It is quite interesting to see that in the first part of the chapter believers are described as living stones that are built into a holy temple – a place of worship and service.  The emphasis here is clearly on being set apart for God.  That is the core meaning of Holy.  These were made holy by being purified by washing and prayer and then take away from ordinary usage to be used exclusively for God.  If you read the book of Leviticus there is a lot there about being holy in this sense.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9 NIV)

In the second part of the passage, the people of God are called sojourners and exiles in the world.  We are to have a strategy of conduct while we are in the world. It is not a strategy of avoidance, but of example. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (I Peter 2:12 NIV).

We honor the emperor, but we fear God. we honor everyone, but we love the brotherhood.

Being a Holy Nation while living as aliens is the challenge.

The Great Reversal – Discussion

logo.passport (for Adult Class discussion – this introduces the series on our Dual Citizenship)

What do you think Jesus taught us about whether we should be concerned with Heaven, or the earth where we live, or both? Think of some biblical passages.

Which do you agree with?

  • The world is close to the end and our job is to save the lost.
  • God made the earth, and we should try to preserve it.
  • It is important to offer both acts of compassion and preach the gospel.
  • It is “liberal” to talk about helping the poor.
  • It is offensive to share the gospel with someone who is hungry or sick.
  • Christians should work mainly through politics to change the world.
  • Christians should avoid politics as much as possible.
  • We should “preach the gospel” by good works only, not with words.
  • We have to share the full plan of salvation every occasion we can.
  • God really loves American in a special way.
  • America is headed towards judgment.
  • Other:

Who are “the least of these” in Matthew 25

Least

I am aware of two interpretations of the expression, “the least of these my brethren.”  It is used in the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46.

One view emphasizes “brethren” and indicates that we will be evaluated by how we receive the servants of Christ. This interpretation notes that receiving the messengers of Jesus brought a blessing when the 12 were sent out in mission to the towns of Judea (Matthew 10:1-16).

Another passage on that theme is Matthew 18, where there is a blessing to those who humble themselves like a child to receive the kingdom. (Mt. 18:1-4)

Both of those passages indicate that a faith response is what makes someone one of Jesus “brethren.”

The other view puts the emphasis on “the least of these.”  This passage has been seen as a central motivator in missions of compassion to the poor.  Some go so far as to say that since God has a preference for the poor, they are already his brethren, and so this is very inclusive. There is no need for the recipient of acts of mercy to have a faith response because they are already God’s children.

This interpretation stands behind a lot of Christian ministries of compassion and justice.

Now, how can we answer this from Matthew?

First, we have to include both parts of “the least of these” and “my brethren.”  So Jesus is indicating something about social insignificance and about a faith response.  I say that because of verses like “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  a recognition of need is a prerequisite to entrance into the Kingdom.(Mt 5:3)

Secondly,  we notice in Chapter 25, there is a division between those who receive grace and are included and those who do not.  In the parable of the 10 Bridesmaids, 5 are prepared and enter and 5 are left out.  In the parable of the Talents, the third servant is cast outside for his lack of faith in his master.  In the Sheep and the Goats, the nations are divided between those who are Sheep (who enter the Kingdom) and the Goats (those sent to eternal punishment.)  So Matthew 25 does not support the idea of total inclusion of all people into the Kingdom of God.  Some are outside, and can hardly be considered to be brethren of Christ.

Third, there is an equivalency between those who follow Jesus and becoming the least.  The Sermon on he Mount as a manual for discipleship is opposed to self-sufficiency.  The call to discipleship is the call to leave everything, (Mt:16:24)
The mission of the 12 involved self-denial and dependency on reception by those who hear the message. (Mt 10:8ff).

Finally, there is a connection between receiving Jesus messengers and receiving Jesus.  Matthew 10:40-42 reads as follows.

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Notice the strong connection between giving water to “little ones” with their being a “disciple”.

I believe we do have a strong calling to generalized compassion ministries.  We can find that all through the scriptures from the Law, the Prophets, the Wisdom literature, the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles.  But that does not seem to be the meaning of this text.

This text does call us to compassion.  Let us help the needy and seed justice for the poor.

But we can not separate sharing the compassion of Jesus from receiving the message about Jesus.