“Prayer breaks all bars, dissolves all chains, opens all prisons, and widens all straits by which God’s saints have been held.” — Martin Luther
- 1-Minute Devotional Thought:
Today’s devotional thought comes from The Gospel Coalition and the pen of D.A. Carson.
Several complex themes intertwine in Deuteronomy 7. Here I want to reflect on two of them.
The first is the emphasis on election. “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” (Deut. 7:6). Why so? Was it on the ground of some intrinsic superiority, some greater intelligence, some moral superiority, or some military prowess that the Lord made his choice? Not so. “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deut. 7:7-8).
Two observations: (1) In the Bible, God’s utter sovereignty does not diminish human responsibility; conversely, human beings are moral agents who choose, believe, obey, disbelieve, and disobey, and this fact does not make God’s sovereignty finally contingent. That is clear from the way God’s sovereignty manifests itself in this chapter, that is, in election, even while the chapter bristles with the responsibilities laid on the people. People who do not believe both truths — that God is sovereign and human beings are responsible — sooner or later introduce some intolerable wobbles into the structure of their faith. (2) Here God’s love is selective. God chooses Israel because he sets his affection on them, and not for anything in themselves. The thought recurs elsewhere (e.g., Mal. 1:2-3). But this is not the only way that the Bible speaks of the love of God (e.g., John 3:16).
The second theme is the encouragement God gives his people not to fear the people they will have to fight as they take over the Promised Land (Deut. 7:17-22). The reason is the Exodus. Any God that could produce the plagues, divide the Red Sea, and free his people from a regional superpower like Egypt is not the kind of God who is going to have trouble with a few pagan and immoral Canaanites. Fear is the opposite of faith. The Israelites are encouraged not to be afraid, not because they are stronger or better, but because they are the people of God, and God is unbeatable.
These two themes — and several others — intertwine in this chapter. The God who chooses people is strong enough to accomplish all his purposes in them; the people chosen by God ought to respond not only with grateful obedience, but with unshakable trust.
Prayers for the week…
- Pray for the people of Oklahoma affected by the recent storms.
- Pray for our nation. According to the results of a recent Gallup poll:
Over three-quarters of Americans (77%) say religion is losing its influence on American life, while 20% say religion’s influence is increasing. These represent Americans’ most negative evaluations of the impact of religion since 1970, although similar to the views measured in recent years. But 75% say American society would be better off if more Americans were religious.
In other words, public sentiment is that religion’s influence is decreasing…and that this is not perceived to be a good thing. Pray for Biblical Christianity to thrive — though cultural Christianity (and other religions) may be decreasing in significance.
- As resident aliens and neighbors to the lost: This summer, pray for the ministry of evangelism and discipleship that goes on in your community by means of Vacation Bible School. Pray that the Gospel goes forth with Kool-Aid, crafts and fun … and that these opportunities will impact eternity.
- 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 Middle Tennessee State University — led by Paul Boyd:
Paul was born and raised in the Atlanta Metro Area. Paul graduated from Covenant Seminary with an MDIV in 2002 and then moved to Jacksonville, Fla., to start a new RUF. This is where he met Rachel ,and they were married soon after. He and Rachel and their three boys Drew (5/9/04), Josh (6/21/06), and Jake (3/25/08) love being only two blocks from MTSU and are very involved in the community of the campus.
- 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 Qatar, which ranks No. 20 on the watchlist:
The state religion is conservative Islam and nearly all Qatari citizens are Sunni or Shia Muslims. Christian worship is only allowed in designated religious complexes, of which there are only two at the moment, which makes them easier to control and monitor. Many expat laborers are denied access to these complexes as they live too far away or are prevented from attending by employers. A Muslim who converts is considered an apostate and may face the death penalty. Foreign workers who evangelize non-Muslims are frequently deported.
- Thank God that a new Christian complex is to be completed this year and other places of worship are being built
- For printed and digital Bible resources in Qatari and Asian languages to become available
- That foreign Christians will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus.
- Prayer for the nation – focusing this week on the state of Maine.
- 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 South Atlantic: Central Florida, Charleston-Atlantic, Cherokee, Flint River, Florida, Foothills, Greater Atlanta, New Harmony, Northeast Georgia, Peace River, Providence, St. Augustine, Savannah, Tampa Bay, Trinity and Tropical Florida.
- Prayers for Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC): the Alleghenies Presbytery (Bruce Allison, 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 Suncoast Florida 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.