Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before[besides] me.”
Current events have once again challenged my perspective and driven me back to these words from God’s own mouth, His #1 commandment. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” This is God’s #1…forever!
God’s “Egypt,” then, didn’t specifically mention the little “g” gods that occupy our “land of slavery” now. Today our “land of slavery” is defined by vital issues like mass shootings, racism, political affiliation, sexual orientation and individual rights. Too often we’ve let those issues lead us to justify any means to an end as long as it’s the end we’ve decided is best. That’s a sure sign we’ve replaced the real #1 with the god we know best, ourselves. Over time we’ve let God’s Word go in one ear and out the other.
God’s #1 purpose is still to remind us the “land of slavery” is real. It’s filled with vital issues we can’t solve alone. Only when we’re willing to recognize that fact will He bring us out of the “Egypt” of our own making and make His own #1 commandment our #1 priority too. “You shall have no other gods before [besides] me.”
Read Mark 6:47-52. My focus is v50b “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid,”
Those simple red-letter sentences are the summation of real good news for friends of Jesus that are worn out from fighting the storm. The story ends in Mark 6 with those friends that knew Jesus best being amazed and terrified when he showed up in such an unusual way. They had invested their life completely in following Jesus and even with all their firsthand evidence they didn’t quite understand what to expect from him. Verse 52 says “their hearts were hardened.” How could that possibly be?
I don’t know about you but the thrust of much of what I watch or read about the world today is at best sad and at worst scary. It’s a harsh reality to face the fact that just like those other friends of his, I have to blink twice to recognize that Jesus is more than a ghost in today’s broken world. My heart has been hardened by struggling to understand the evening news instead of that good news. I can’t figure out what to expect from current events but I think there’s a solution. I’m just trying to blink twice so I can see a new reality that Jesus is in the boat with us and take him at his word in this storm. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid,”
2 Peter 3:3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” 5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.
My life has been bookmarked by a long span of relative security and safety. There’s been the comfort of stability that I’ve been able to depend on. I like that. It’s no wonder I’m shocked to discover “that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires”…but God can even use the distress of current events for good. He can still change hearts, even mine. I’m beginning to see how important praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” really is.
Peter’s words have reminded me those “last days” probably began way back on that 8th day after creation. God has chosen to fill every “last day” of all that time between then and now with opportunity for his creation: a new day, a new beginning. The keywords of Peter’s message are “they deliberately forget.” They “deliberately forget” it’s God who’s created this kingdom we’re living in “by the word of his command.” It’s God who’s given them the privilege of every one of these “last days” and longs for them to come to their senses and remember his voice.
“Most importantly” all of us who live by faith need to “deliberately” remember when we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” it’s much more than just words or wishes. We are agreeing with God’s longing for the hearts and minds of those scoffers to recognize his truly secure, safe and stable kingdom IS NOT of their own making.
“I Peter 4:7b Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”
This book of I Peter and my absorption with current events have made it clear I really need to pray for our country and our government. There IS a constructive purpose to being “alert and of sober mind” than goes beyond consuming information…”so you may pray.” Sometimes praying is complicated and information doesn’t always make things clearer when it evokes so much emotion.
Recently our pastor has spoken about how he deals with the complexity of who, what and how to pray by using the familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer as his basic outline to filter the events and emotions of his own life. That’s certainly what I need.
OK, OK, OK…to I Peter, to the Pastor…and to practicing what Jesus preached in Matthew 6 when he said “This, then, is how you should pray…” I’ve got information, now I need basic application.
Thanks to Brad Boydston for these prayer ideas he’s made available so what Jesus taught can become a personal reality.
Thanks also to Rick Hamlin for explaining “we really do need [the Lord’s Prayer] words to help us. [It’s] An outline to hang our different concerns and fears on, a guide so that we cover all the basics.”