“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” — Oswald Chambers
- 1-Minute Devotional Thought:
Today’s devotional thought comes from Luke 11:29-32: When the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.  For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.  The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.  The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (ESV)
Jesus gives clear warning to those who seek more signs from God than the sign of Himself — which he likens to the “sign of Jonah.”
The sign of Jonah? What? Didn’t Jesus mean to say the sign of Abraham, or Moses, or David … not Jonah?
Yes, Jonah. The sign of Jonah is that God is powerful and God is love. He displayed His power and His love to Jonah by rescuing the rebellious prophet from death (or even, perhaps, bringing him back from the dead). His power orchestrated the events of the miracle in order to provide the reluctant prophet with another opportunity for obedience and faithfulness. What divine power and mercy!
And, the sign of Jonah revealed God to the Ninevites because God orchestrated the events of their repentance, leading them away from destruction and towards His compassionate forgiveness. What divine power and mercy!
So, Jesus tells the people of His generation — and us — that we’d better get busy believing and repenting in His name. Quit looking for more proofs and signs and cosmic entertainments. Jesus came to save souls, not entertain pleasure-seekers and philosophical-doubters.
The life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ all served as a display of the power and mercy of God. God rose Jesus from the substitutionary death He offered on behalf of sinners, vindicating Christ and making our life in Him possible. What divine power and mercy!
Prayers for the week…
- Continue to pray for the people of Oklahoma affected by the recent storms.
- Pray for various denominational meetings which take place during the summer months. The Southern Baptist Convention is taking place this week in Houston, Texas. Pray that they would be guided by the Spirit and the Word in all their decision making, and that their pastors would be refreshed in their work by means of the fellowship they receive this week.
- As neighbors: Pray and look for opportunities to meet your neighbors this summer. Take your kids and a cooler with a case of cold water to the same playground once a week for a month. You are sure to meet some folks and have opportunities to build relational bridges with them. Invite them to church. Invite them to a barbeque in your backyard. Pray for them and with them.
- Pray for pro-life ministries throughout our land and the world. Abortion, euthanasia, biomedical issues related to the taking of life — all these matters should inform and guide our prayers.
- Pray for the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) ministry taking place at Millersville University in Pennsylvania — led by Paul Boyd:
Trip Beans was actually born Frank William Beans III (yes, that’s three generations of Frank and Beans together). He graduated from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., and then spent 13 years both working as the Director of Youth Ministries at Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, Md., and getting his seminary degree from Chesapeake Theological Seminary. In that same time, he gathered a wife (Joy) and three kids (Luke, Adelyn and Kya Mae) to live life along with him. 2013 finds him at Millersville University in Millersville, Pa., beginning his adventure with RUF.
You will find Trip kicking a soccer ball around, reading comic books, playing Heroclix (ask him about it, he’d love to tell you) and hanging with his family. He and his family love to minister to students and facilitate community with them: a place to KNOW who God is, GROW in faith and strive to FOLLOW Him.
- Using the new 2013 “watchlist” produced by Open Doors, we pray for the persecuted Christians of a different country each week.
Teachers/parents, consider this a great way to introduce geography into the weekly lessons. Show students where the nation is, then pray for Christians in that place.
This week we pray for the Christians of Vietnam, which ranks No. 21 on the watchlist:
Christians are perceived as Western agents and the state, with the help of tribal leaders, watches churches closely. The government requires permits for larger gatherings and issues them last minute – if at all – to deter people from attending. Converts from Buddhism come under pressure from family and community, and authorities in tribal areas often hire gangsters to harass pastors and new believers. The government has begun placing more restrictions on Christians in the wake of the Arab Spring.
More than a dozen believers were imprisoned in 2012. Pray for strength and perseverance for these persecuted Christians in prison
For Christians from ethnic minority groups, like the Hmong, who face great pressure to return to traditional beliefs
Importing Christian materials is prohibited. Pray for safety for those distributing Open Doors’ Illustrated Children’s Bible.
- Prayer for the nation – focusing this week on the state of Maryland.
- In 2013, we will pray together by name for Christians in 50 nations, Christians in all 50 states and all the presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the emerging new Reformed body, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. You are encouraged to add specific pastors, lay leaders, congregations, missionaries, new church developments and other ministries to the list by posting a comment to the blog. (Please do not publicly post the names of missionaries serving in contexts where exposing their identity would cause them harm or bring harm to those they serve in Christ’s name.) Let us kneel before the Father and ask His will be done.
- Prayers for the PCUSA: Pray for the presbyteries of the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii: Hanmi, Los Ranchos, The Pacific, Riverside, San Diego, San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Barbara.
- Prayers for Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC): the Mid-Atlantic Presbytery (Howard Shockley, stated clerk) and preparations for the 33rd General Assembly meeting in Colorado, June 18-22.
- Prayers for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA): the churches of the Susquehanna Valley Presbytery and the 41st meeting of the General Assembly in Greenville, S.C., June 18-21.
- Prayers for ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
- Prayers for The Fellowship of Presbyterians.