Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
I came across the passage after looking at Facebook yesterday, and being in despair. Not because of the election, but because of the responses to it, from both sides of the aisle, and from pastor’s whose hopes were pinned to one candidate or the other. In despair, because the love and mercy that has been modeled to us by Jesus dying on the cross, was evident no where… I was despondent, and I wondered – has there ever been a time like this, were the people of God were so despondent about their leadership, and about each other?
Preparing for worship services for the next few weeks led me to the readings for thanksgiving Day. One actually is a parallel to our Bible study in Ezekiel, and is found in Daniel 2. There – having been taken from their home, having seen what they thought has been gross injustice in the way the government was treating them (Ezekiel 17 shows that isn’t necessarily so) an impossible task is laid on a young leader named Daniel. He is asked to provide that which others say will require a miracle. TO not only interpret a dream that caused him great anxiety, but to do so without the dream being shared. The penalty for failure was decapitation after limp being separated from limb. (and some of us are discouraged by economics!)
Daniel asks for a little time – goes hope – calls the prayer chain (some other young men who will soon know God is their refuge) and they pray, and the prayer is answered. Here is Daniel’s response to the answer:
“Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever. He knows all, does all: 21 He changes the seasons and guides history, He raises up kings and also brings them down, he provides both intelligence and discernment, 22 He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark—light spills out of him! 23 God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise! You made me wise and strong. And now you’ve shown us what we asked for. You’ve solved the king’s mystery.” Daniel 2:20-23 (MSG)
If God is indeed in charge of our lives, if God is truly here, active, our refuge and strength and the King of Kinds, Lord of Lords, and Prince of Peace, then, and only then, is a reaction like this possible. Only in faith can we find the strength and patience to turn to God in prayer, when Government seems oppressive and wrong. Only in Christ can we find a way to work with them, loving them, treating them in a way in accord with Phil 4:7-8, that will result in their honoring God.
It can never be about faith in men (see Psalm 2 and 146) or even a lack of faith in man….
It has to be about the faith we have in God, in the expectation we have, because God has vowed to make us His and keep us in His peace.
You want to know how to survive – look to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith in God….
and then you will know how to work alongside each other, and a leader we didn’t think was God’s will.
We might even find out – like Israel was told by Ezekiel, that it was… (see Ezekiel 17)
God’s peace, my friends, is yours!
Discussion/Devotional thought of the day:
” 12:21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:21 (NLT)
Consider this qutoe:
” The task for a Christian is to drown evil in an abundance of good. It is not a question of negative campaigns, or of being anti anything. On the contrary, we should live positively, full of optimism, with youthfulness, joy and peace. We should be understanding with everybody, with the followers of Christ and with those who abandon him, or do not know him at all. But understanding does not mean holding back, or remaining indifferent, but being active.” Escriva, Josemaria
We live in a world of “anti’s”, or at least people tell us constantly what they are against. The list is usually huge, and sometimes, if they think about it – inconsistent.
Often these “anti” positions are based in creating a strong defense, striking out against what is perceived to attack them, or limit them, or taking away that which they think they need. The problem, as Escriva notes – is that to be so defined by “anti” never defines us positively. Focusing on what we hate, or can’t tolerate, being constantly on the defensive, leaves us at the end of the day empty.
The option, some would maintain, is being passive. That being positive means toleration, that means compromise, that means we abandon our defensive, and open ourselves to being beaten, scorned, betrayed and hurt. Or that we allow others to force their ideas upon us, and we meekly (a word misunderstood) accept their position. If this were true, then the cross is the ultimate form of weakness, but it isn’t. It was a choice. It was a matter of embracing us, that we would be changed.
Such is the activity of overcoming evil with good, and overcoming hatred with love. it’s going the extra mile with those who demand our service, simply because it gives us more time to reflect on them the love of Christ. For that is what matters, and that is what changes people. It is deliberately choosing to serve – not in view of backing down or compromising to keep the peace – but to show the love of Christ.
It’s not easy.. no where near as easy as being “anti” and standing in a place of judgment and condemnation. But instead finding the strength to love, to serve, to overcome.
Lord, even as You have mercy help us to reflect that mercy… and to have the strength to show it.